Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. “Control food and you control the people.”
Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.
Profits Before Populations
Genetic engineering has made proprietary control possible over the seeds on which the world’s food supply depends. According to an Acres USA interview of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it.
Glyphosate-based herbicides are now the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Glyphosate is an essential partner to the GMOs that are the principal business of the burgeoning biotech industry. Glyphosate is a “broad-spectrum” herbicide that destroys indiscriminately, not by killing unwanted plants directly but by tying up access to critical nutrients.
Because of the insidious way in which it works, it has been sold as a relatively benign replacement for the devastating earlier dioxin-based herbicides. But a barrage of experimental data has now shown glyphosate and the GMO foods incorporating it to pose serious dangers to health. Compounding the risk is the toxicity of “inert” ingredients used to make glyphosate more potent. Researchers have found, for example, that the surfactant POEA can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. But these risks have been conveniently ignored.
The widespread use of GMO foods and glyphosate herbicides helps explain the anomaly that the US spends over twice as much per capita on healthcare as the average developed country, yet it is rated far down the scale of the world’s healthiest populations. The World Health Organization has ranked the US LAST out of 17 developed nations for overall health.
Sixty to seventy percent of the foods in US supermarkets are now genetically modified. By contrast, in at least 26 other countries—including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia—GMOs are totally or partially banned; and significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.
A ban on GMO and glyphosate use might go far toward improving the health of Americans. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement for which the Obama Administration has sought Fast Track status, would block that sort of cause-focused approach to the healthcare crisis.
Roundup’s Insidious Effects
Roundup-resistant crops escape being killed by glyphosate, but they do not avoid absorbing it into their tissues. Herbicide-tolerant crops have substantially higher levels of herbicide residues than other crops. In fact, many countries have had to increase their legally allowable levels—by up to 50 times—in order to accommodate the introduction of GM crops. In the European Union, residues in food are set to rise 100-150 times if a new proposal by Monsanto is approved. Meanwhile, herbicide-tolerant “super-weeds” have adapted to the chemical, requiring even more toxic doses and new toxic chemicals to kill the plant.
Human enzymes are affected by glyphosate just as plant enzymes are: the chemical blocks the uptake of manganese and other essential minerals. Without those minerals, we cannot properly metabolize our food. That helps explain the rampant epidemic of obesity in the United States. People eat and eat in an attempt to acquire the nutrients that are simply not available in their food.
Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology . . . . Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
More than 40 diseases have been linked to glyphosate use, and more keep appearing. In September 2013, the National University of Rio Cuarto, Argentina, published research finding that glyphosate enhances the growth of fungi that produce aflatoxin B1, one of the most carcinogenic of substances. A doctor from Chaco, Argentina, told Associated Press, “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects and illnesses seldom seen before.” Fungi growths have increased significantly in US corn crops.
Glyphosate has also done serious damage to the environment. According to an October 2012 report by the Institute of Science in Society:
Agribusiness claims that glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops will improve crop yields, increase farmers’ profits and benefit the environment by reducing pesticide use. Exactly the opposite is the case. . . . [T]he evidence indicates that glyphosate herbicides and glyphosate-tolerant crops have had wide-ranging detrimental effects, including glyphosate resistant super weeds, virulent plant (and new livestock) pathogens, reduced crop health and yield, harm to off-target species from insects to amphibians and livestock, as well as reduced soil fertility.
Politics Trumps Science
In light of these adverse findings, why have Washington and the European Commission continued to endorse glyphosate as safe? Critics point to lax regulations, heavy influence from corporate lobbyists, and a political agenda that has more to do with power and control than protecting the health of the people.
In the ground-breaking 2007 book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, William Engdahl states that global food control and depopulation became US strategic policy under Rockefeller protégé Henry Kissinger. Along with oil geopolitics, they were to be the new “solution” to the threats to US global power and continued US access to cheap raw materials from the developing world. In line with that agenda, the government has shown extreme partisanship in favor of the biotech agribusiness industry, opting for a system in which the industry “voluntarily” polices itself. Bio-engineered foods are treated as “natural food additives,” not needing any special testing.
Jeffrey M. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, confirms that US Food and Drug Administration policy allows biotech companies to determine if their own foods are safe. Submission of data is completely voluntary. He concludes:
In the critical arena of food safety research, the biotech industry is without accountability, standards, or peer-review. They’ve got bad science down to a science.
Whether or not depopulation is an intentional part of the agenda,widespread use of GMO and glyphosate is having that result. The endocrine-disrupting properties of glyphosate have been linked to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and arrested sexual development. In Russian experiments, animals fed GM soy were sterile by the third generation. Vast amounts of farmland soil are also being systematically ruined by the killing of beneficial microorganisms that allow plant roots to uptake soil nutrients.
In Gary Null’s eye-opening documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs, Dr. Bruce Lipton warns, “We are leading the world into the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet. . . . Human behavior is undermining the web of life.”
The TPP and International Corporate Control
As the devastating conclusions of these and other researchers awaken people globally to the dangers of Roundup and GMO foods, transnational corporations are working feverishly with the Obama administration to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would strip governments of the power to regulate transnational corporate activities. Negotiations have been kept secret from Congress but not from corporate advisors, 600 of whom have been consulted and know the details. According to Barbara Chicherio in Nation of Change:
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history. . . .
The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.
. . . They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.
Food safety is only one of many rights and protections liable to fall to this super-weapon of international corporate control. In an April 2013 interview on The Real News Network, Kevin Zeese called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and “a global corporate coup.” He warned:
No matter what issue you care about—whether its wages, jobs, protecting the environment . . . this issue is going to adversely affect it . . . .
If a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry or set up a public bank to represent the public interest, it can be sued . . . .
Return to Nature: Not Too Late
There is a safer, saner, more earth-friendly way to feed nations. While Monsanto and US regulators are forcing GM crops on American families, Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia’s food was grown on dachas (cottage gardens or allotments). Dacha gardens produced over 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation’s milk, much of it consumed raw. According to Vladimir Megre, author of the best-selling Ringing Cedars Series:
Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.
In the US, only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. This area needs to be vastly expanded if we are to avoid “the sixth mass extinction.” But first, we need to urge our representatives to stop Fast Track, vote no on the TPP, and pursue a global phase-out of glyphosate-based herbicides and GMO foods. Our health, our finances and our environment are at stake.
Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.
Source: Ellen Brown | CounterPunch
After four years and three months of unprecedented carnage, the Great War ended 95 years ago on November, 11th 1918. The most tragic event in the history of mankind, that war destroyed a vibrant, magnificently creative civilization. A fundamentally decent and well-ordered world was shattered forever. The floodgates of hell in which we live now were opened.
It was truly the first global war—la Grande Guerre, der grosse Krieg. Tens of millions of men were mobilized. In France and Germany four fifths of all men between 18 and 50 donned the uniform. The entire human, physical and moral resources of Europe’s major powers and a host of smaller nations were strained like never before in history. The weapons were deployed on a massive scale, killing machines that only a generation earlier did not exist: airplanes, tanks, poison gasses, submarines. The lethal mix of the machine gun and barbed wire made “going over the top” tantamount to a death sentence.
The war claimed close to 20 million lives, soldiers and civilians in roughly equal proportion. Millions of young men were maimed and damaged forever. Epidemics during and immediately after the war claimed millions more. Even more horrendous are that war’s moral and spiritual consequences. Bolshevism, Fascism, Nazism, the sequel known as the Second World War, and the wounded civilization we now live in, are its poisoned fruits.
How it actually happened, or, as Ranke would put it, wie es eigentlich gewesen?
As we near the centennial of its outbreak, it is not uncommon for educated non-historians who think about such matters to assume that the war in 1914 was the result of a series of blunders and miscalculations in various Great Power courts, foreign offices, and chancelleries. The key interwar American text on the subject, Sidney B. Fay’s Origins of the World War, suggested that nobody wanted the war but—like in a Greek drama—forces beyond the actors’ control and understanding drove everyone into the maelstrom. Implicit in this narrative was the view that the European system was so inherently unstable that a single terrorist act by a troubled Serb adolescent in a troubled Balkan city could fatally disrupt it.
That view was wrong. As one of the most prominent German historians of the 20th century, Fritz Fischer, demonstrated in his masterly Griff nach der Weltmacht (Germany’s Bid for Global Dominance), the Kaiserreich military and political elite welcomed the prospect of war resulting from the attentat in Sarajevo as an opportunity to make Germany the hegemon of the Old Continent. Fischer established beyond reasonable doubt that Berlin manipulated the July crisis in 1914 to revise her 1871 borders and establish dominance in Europe, whereby France and Russia would be degraded to powerlessness and territorial insignificance.
To that end, after Sarajevo Germany encouraged Austria to pursue what Vienna believed would be a local war against Serbia in order to engineer a wider European conflagration which would eliminate France and Russia from the scene for decades. The record is clear: as (by then former) German chief of general staff Moltke confided to his friend Colmar von der Goltz as early as 1915, it was the war of Germany’s making, “this war that I prepared and initiated.” Had the murdered Archduke Francis Ferdinand—who did not want war—been alive, Austria’s Chief of Staff Konrad von Hetzendorf mused when the war started going badly for the Dual Monarchy, “he would have had me shot.”
Moltke and other Junkers were not acting alone. Having betrayed Bismarck’s legacy by tying Germany to the decaying Habsburg Monarchy and by conducting a reckless foreign policy in the early years of the 20th century, having alienated Britain by building an unnecessary and ultimately useless high seas fleet, the Wilhelmine establishment found itself in the encirclement of its own making. That establishment blundered to the point of prompting Britain and Russia to become de facto (albeit not as yet formal) allies in 1907—unthinkable in the days of the Iron Chancellor. At times Germany acted on the global stage like a bunch of McCains with manners: when Berlin got needlessly involved in Morocco in 1911, even Vienna withdrew support.
A “preventive” war against Russia and France, based on the Schlieffen Plan, was seen as a way out of Germany’s chronic diplomatic isolation and as a means of preempting Russia’s economic, demographic and military rise, which obsessed Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, who complained that it was useless to plant oaks on his Brandenburg estate since some Cossacks would rest in their shade. To that end Germany encouraged Austria-Hungary to issue an impossible ultimatum to Serbia blaming her for Sarajevo—the famous blank check of July 5, 1914—with both Central Powers knowing full well that this would lead to an all-out war unless Russia climbed down at the last minute and thus abdicated her role as a great power. As David Fromkin concluded in his excellent Europe’s Last Summer, it takes two or more to keep the peace but only one to start the war: “The international conflict in the summer of 1914 consisted of two wars, not one. Both were started deliberately.” One was Austria’s war against Serbia, the other Germany’s war against France and Russia. Britain inevitably and predictably entered the fray when Germany violated Belgium’s neutrality—as postulated by the Schlieffen Plan—thus making the war global. It was frivolously assumed in Berlin that in any event the British could not field an army capable of affecting the outcome until it was too late.
It was not possible for German politicians and soldiers simply to declare the European system created by Bismarck null and void. They could not admit that they wanted to revise it by force in favor of an extended Mitteleuropa, dominated by Germany, with an emaciated France to the west and a humbled Russia—minus the Ukraine and the Baltic provinces—to the east. The Prussian elite needed a seemingly righteous cause, the latter-day Ems Telegram, to unite the nation and, in particular, to persuade its millions of Social Democrats and Roman Catholics that the coming war was just, and the Vaterland’s cause worth dying for. The scenario was simple, mendacious, and effective: encourage Austria to present Serbia with an outrageous ultimatum that had to be rejected; let Russia threaten Austria in Serbia’s defense; present Germany’s subsequent move against Russia as a gallant and selfless rescue of Germany’s aggrieved Danubian ally; and attack France first, on whatever grounds, in order to kick her out of the war before turning the might of the entire army against the slow-mobilizing Russians.
This was a reckless scenario full of incalculable risks. The British duly declared war when Liege was attacked and the Schlieffen Plan collapsed with the Miracle on the Marne. But in July 1914 both military planning and the political rationale behind it reflected Berlin’s establishment’s obsession with the notion of “encirclement.” Just as the political paradigm was unduly pessimistic, its military “solution” was based on an optimistic scenario that had many elements that could, and did, go wrong. Determined to break out of this self-imposed, intellectually wanting and largely imagined “encirclement,” the Second Reich discarded Bismarck’s flexibility of external liaisons in favor of an implacable hostility to France, a self-generated sense of existential danger from Russia, and—perhaps worst of all—an alliance with Austria-Hungary that was debilitating in its implications and disastrous in its consequences.
The Iron Chancellor would never have allowed the worn-out Viennese tail to wag the dynamic German dog, and in the 1880s and 90s he repeatedly warned that the Balkans must never be allowed to release its potential as Europe’s proverbial powder keg. His successors of 1914 disregarded that advice on both counts. In this they encountered no effective opposition, and even the seemingly middle-of-the-road Chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg, joined the fray with an air of fatalistic determination, only once or twice interrupted by pangs of fearful lucidity.
By 1914 Germany’s ruling stratum’s understanding of the State reason was fatally corrupted by a host of ideological mantras which were Wilhelmine Germany’s equivalent of America’s global interventionists today: the naval lobby, the colonial lobby, the annexationist lobby, the Voelkisch lobby. Like the proponents of the war against Iran, they branded all moderation weakness and all doubt treason. Germany’s criminal blunder of 1914 was a sinister precursor of her crime of 1939. As per Fischer, these are the “ideologies, values, and ambitions that led our country to destruction in the space of two generations.”
In addition to being gripped by a self-fulfilling and gloomy Weltanschauung that demanded aggressively proactive policies, the Central Powers’ political elites were unable and unwilling to question the dictates of military planning. As Fischer’s old foe, conservative German historian Gerhard Ritter, readily admitted, a desperate gamble, va-banque Spiel, replaced policy making: in Vienna Conrad presented the Cabinet with a rosy and unrealistic assessment of Austria’s military capabilities that were soon demolished in a series of humiliating defeats in Serbia. In Berlin the German plan of campaign—which relied on a great Austrian offensive in the East which never happened—suffered from an over-estimation of German capability. Mobilization schedules and railway timetables took over. The lights went out all over Europe, never to be lit again.
Four awful years later President Wilson’s Fourteen Points—the device that was allegedly meant to end the war—espoused the principle of self-determination. It threw a revolutionary doctrine thrown at an already exhausted Europe, a doctrine almost on par with Bolshevism in its destabilizing effect. It unleashed competing aspirations among the smaller nations of Central Europe and the Balkans that not only hastened the collapse of transnational empires, but also gave rise to a host of intractable ethnic conflicts and territorial disputes that remain unresolved to this day. Wilson’s notions of an “enlarging democracy” and “collective security” signaled the birth of a view of America’s role in world affairs which has created—and is still creating—endless problems for both America and the world. It was Wilson, speaking through President George W. Bush a decade ago, who declared that America not only “created the conditions in which new democracies could flourish” but “also provided inspiration for oppressed peoples.”
Two decades after the Armistice, burdened by Clemenceau’s harsh revenge at Versailles, Europe staggered into a belated sequel in September 1939. After 1918 it was very badly wounded; after 1945, mortally so. The result is a civilization that is aborting and birth-controlling itself to death, a civilization that is morally bankrupt, culturally spent, and spiritually comatose. Ninety five years later we are living—if life it is—with the consequences, and on the ruins, of the Great War.
Speaking at the end of the meeting of the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council in Luxembourg on June 24, European Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle warned Ukraine that “time is running preciously short” for the government in Kiev to meet all European Union conditions in time to sign a free trade and association agreement in November. “Ukraine has made good progress in some areas,” Füle said, but added that “more needs to be done for Ukraine to achieve tangible progress on all the benchmarks,” including “increased determination and reinforced action”—an obvious reference to the case of Yulia Tymoshenko.
While stressing that closer links with the EU remain its priority, in recent weeks the Ukrainian government has also probed the possibilities of strengthening its ties with the Customs Union formed in 2010 by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Moscow would like to see Ukraine in the “Common Economic Space,” but it is reluctant to grant it a half-way status that would fall short of full membership. Kiev would prefer that option in order not to sever its EU connection.
The dilemma has received scant attention in the Western media. Considering its size and strategic importance, it is curious how underreported Ukraine remains 22 years after independence. The second largest country in Europe—the true link (and a key energy corridor) between Russia and the Old Continent’s heartland west of the Carpathian Mountains—has just under fifty million people, a rich agricultural base, and a long Black Sea shoreline which includes the all-important naval bases in the Crimea. Its geopolitical significance cannot be overstated.
Kiev’s current quandary is real, but it should not overshadow Ukraine’s promise as a pivotal player in the development of regional cooperation with its EU neighbors to the West, former CIS countries to the north and east, and emerging regional powers further afield. On my recent visits to Ukraine—most recently as an election observer last October – I was struck by the tendency of some local analysts to focus on the role of their country as an object of geopolitical rivalry of others, and to neglect its potential as a significant actor in its own right.
That potential is real. The importance of food as a key strategic commodity will continue to grow in the decades ahead, and Ukraine has an enormous, still untapped capability to become a global-scale producer. In 2012 Ukrainian agricultural sector raised $2bn in capital investments, which is 11 percent higher than in 2011 but still short of what is needed to unleash its potential. If and when Ukraine’s farmers gain reliable and affordable access to finance, they will be able to compete with, and perhaps out-produce, their peers in the American Midwest or Canada. Cooperation with key EU agricultural producers, such as France, is proceeding apace and should continue regardless of what happens in Vilnius next November. The same applies to Kiev’s cooperation with the EU in the energy sector in 2013—an important step in making Ukraine’s role as a key energy conduit more stable, predictable and transparent.
Bilateral cooperation can flourish even in the absence of speedy integrations, as recent experience suggests. Ukraine’s merchandise trade deficit narrowed to $608.5 million in April, which is markedly less than a year ago. Exports increased 4.7% year-on-year, while imports declined 8.1%. Most of its minerals, steel, coal, petroleum products and grains go to other former Soviet republics, but Germany and Poland have been gaining importance in recent years. Trade with Hungary, Sweden, and other smaller EU members has also recorded significant increases. Outside the EU and the former Soviet Union, Ukraine’s key partners are Turkey (second-largest overall, after Russia) and China. Ukraine will sign an agreement on a free tradearea (FTA) with Turkey in October, and its trade with China is expected to double to $20bn in the next few years.
Regardless of its hoped-for integrations, Ukraine can and should project more resolutely its “soft power” in the region. Its rich cultural heritage and still underdeveloped tourist industry are by no means the only assets. The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2012—jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine—was an expensive but useful step in the right direction. There are still too few foreign students, researchers and guest-lecturers in Kiev, Kharkov, Lvov or Odessa, considering the quality of their institutions of higher learning.
The perennial issue of Ukraine’s geopolitical strategy—should it lean to the East or to the West—is on the whole somewhat artificial. Experts note that recent trends in the country’s foreign trade have created preconditions for growth even if it joins neither the European Union nor the Moscow-led customs union. It is noteworthy that even some EU leaders take the view that Ukraine should follow a two-track approach.
Stability in Europe and the continent’s long-term integration devoid of the Cold War, zero-sum-game mentality, requires a new paradigm in Kiev. It should be based on further diversification of political and economic options, which is not incompatible with Ukraine’s quest for optimal forms of association with its eastern and western neighbors.
Throughout the colorful history of organized crime in the United States, periodic eruptions of inter-gang Mafia violence have dotted the criminal landscape. When turf wars broke out between competing crime families in major cities such as New York and Chicago, the combatants would conduct their warfare from unsavory redoubts such as abandoned warehouses or low-rent hotels and apartments. In such locations, the soldiers would spend their off hours sleeping on rented mattresses until the internecine conflicts had run their course; hence the expression “going to the mattresses.”
Well, there is another turf war going on, a worldwide one, one that threatens the entire economic and political landscape of the planet. It is between all the hard working savers on the planet and the ever greedy criminal bankers and their cohorts in government. The real big canary singing out an extreme danger warning to all traditional savers who wish to entrust their wealth to banks and other paper vehicles – stocks, bonds, etc., is the incredible emergency banking shutdown in the tiny island nation of Cyprus. Granted, Cyprus represents only .02% of the population of the European Union. Yet what is occurring there is the harbinger of great risk to traditional savers on every continent; and equally important, there are many more scary danger signs raising their ugly heads as well.
To recap for a moment, let’s briefly itemize the situation in Cyprus. Cyprus, like just about every other country on the planet, has for decades been politically committed to a socialist based economy. In this scenario, politicians have promised benefits to the various voting classes which have far exceeded their annual tax revenue. This has caused its government to continually accumulate deficits that have resulted in a very large national debt in relation to its GDP. This debt has been collateralized by sovereign bonds sold to and purchased by large banks in Europe and elsewhere. Now this debt has become so large the government of Cyprus can no longer afford to pay even the interest, let alone reduce principal. What happens at this juncture, is that a powerful international banking institution, in this case, the European Central Bank (substitute your favorite lender of last resort – the Federal Reserve, the IMF, the World Bank, etc., etc.), has agreed to come to the rescue of the cash strapped government and help it make its current annual debt payment.
However, this emergency funding comes with a draconian penalty for the trusting taxpaying savers. In this instance, the European Central Bank has cut a secret deal with the Cypriot government to raid the bank accounts of all the country’s bank depositors, between six and ten percent. This proposed robbery, if it comes to pass, will confiscate billions from citizens and non-citizens alike who have placed their trust in the security of Cyprus’s banks. What has resulted, of course, is riotous response throughout the nation and frantic sell-offs in world equity markets.
What is important to understand here, though, is that this same game plan has been occurring for several years now in many countries throughout the world. Here is the short list of some of the transgressions that unscrupulous governments, under pressure from their major bank lenders, have perpetrated, and continue to perpetrate upon unsuspecting savers.
October 2008 – Argentina’s leftist government, facing a gigantic revenue shortfall, proposes to nationalize all private pensions so as to meet national debt payments and avoid its second default in the decade.
November 2010 – Headline – Hungary Gives Its Citizens an Ultimatum: Move Your Private Pension Fund Assets to the State or Permanently Lose Your Pension – This is an effective nationalization of all pensions.
November 2010 – Ireland elects to appropriate ten billion euros from its National Pension Reserve Fund to help fund an eighty-five billion euro rescue package for its besieged banks. Ireland also moves to consider a regulatory move that compels some private Irish pension funds to hold more Irish government debt, thereby providing the state with a captive investor base but hugely raising the risk for savers.
December 2010 – France agrees to transfer twenty billion euros worth of assets belonging to its Fonds de Reserve pour les Retraites (FRR), the funded portion of its retirement system, to help pay off recurring social benefits costs. No pensioners are consulted.
April 2012 – Argentina announces that its Economy Ministry has taken an emergency loan from the national pension fund in the amount of $4.3 billion. No pensioners were consulted.
June 2012 – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unilaterally appropriates $45 billion from US federal pension funds to help tide over US deficits for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.
January 2013 – Treasury Secretary Geithner again announces that the government has begun borrowing from the federal employees pension fund to keep operating without passing the approaching “fiscal cliff” debt limit. The move effectively creates $156 billion in borrowing authority from federal pension funds.
March 2013 – Open Bank Resolution finance minister, Bill English, is proposing a Cyprus style solution for potential New Zealand bank failures. The reserve bank is in the final stages of establishing a rescue scheme which will put all bank depositors on the hook for bailing out their banks. Depositors will overnight have their savings shaved by the amount needed to keep distressed banks afloat.
Ladies and gentlemen, this trend is JUST getting underway. Bank failures, sovereign bond collapses, and national government bankruptcy are just around the corner. Because of the interconnectedness of world debt markets and derivatives risk, counted in hundreds of trillions of dollars, the risk to traditional investment vehicles looms ever closer. We’re at critical eleventh hour crossroads where savvy investors need to head for “the mattresses” to protect their life savings. We may be biased but we strongly feel that the very surest and safest “mattress plan” in this extremely dangerous financial environment, is to invest in the one vehicle that has survived every crisis in recorded history, precious metals. When all else fails, gold and silver will be there to save you.
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It is now pretty much a matter of record that, after World War II, refugees from Europe landed in Palestine and started a massive terrorist blitzkrieg campaign, massacring thousands of Christians and Muslims in their wake. In a vast display of ethnic cleansing similar to what had previously happened in Europe, approximately 500 local towns were destroyed, 15,000 residents of Palestine were killed and 750,000 more were expelled. Local residents of this area (the ones who actually survived, that is) started referring to this premeditated slaughter as “al Nakba” — The Catastrophe.
And a second “Nakba” is apparently now in the works.
According to University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer, “Given the right circumstances – say a war involving Israel that is accompanied by serious Palestinian unrest – Israeli leaders might conclude that they can expel massive numbers of Palestinians from Greater Israel and depend on the lobby to protect them from international criticism and especially from sanctions. We should not underestimate Israel’s willingness to employ such a horrific strategy if the opportunity presents itself.” http://www.silviacattori.net/
Are the land-grabbing neo-cons and faux-Jewish corporatists who now run Israel actually contemplating the instigation of an actual Second Nakba? Holy yikes! Are they seriously actually thinking about starting a second wide-ranging slaughter and ethnic cleansing on the scale of the first Nakba? Perhaps under the cover of a war on Iran? Good grief.
Both strategically and morally, that whole idea sucks eggs.
But then I got an e-mail from a Palestinian friend of mine who lives on the West Bank and he said that his village had just been brutally invaded by a needlessly-large number of highly-armed Israeli neo-con occupation forces.
“During the invasion last night,” wrote my friend, “one of the soldiers stole 1000 Nis (200€) from a moneybox of the youngest brother of my neighbor Mosab. Mosab’s brother had been saving this money for months, little by little from his work as a vegetable farmer and salesman. A laptop was also stolen from the house.
“Throughout the operation the soldiers fired sound grenades, a type of riot control weapon that produces a flash and a loud bang. The sound is sufficient to make the most weathered and well-prepared person flinch in fear and when this weapon is used inside a village at night, it will not only serve to keep people awake but also to bring about memories of past atrocities that the village of Ni’lin has had to live through.
“Many villagers came out of their houses to protest the brutality of the Israeli army and were met with tear gas and more sound bombs. The tear gas was fired straight at civilian houses which caused dozens children to suffer from tear gas inhalation. Live ammunition was also used by the Israeli soldiers as a scare tactic.”
And, right at this very moment, this type of malicious military activity is going on constantly all over the West Bank. Constantly. Night and day. Occupation armies and armed settlers constantly swoop down upon Palestinian citizens night and day. No one is safe. And there are all-too-many instances where the occupation armies shoot Palestinian children, shop-keepers and farmers, steal Palestinian goods, defecate in Palestinian homes and piss in their water supplies. To say the least.
Sure, maybe some day another full-scale blitzkrieg-style Nakba invasion of armed soldiers, settlers and thugs may suddenly descend en mass upon occupied Palestine and expel every single Christian and Muslim Palestinian in “Greater Isreal” to the other side of the Jordan River, into Lebanon and Syria, or over into Egypt. And this would be dramatic as hell and make the front pages of all the newspapers. Sure.
But in the meantime, another “Second Nakba” has actually already begun: The Nakba by a Thousand Cuts.
According to Mearsheimer, “There are now about 480,000 settlers in the Occupied Territories and a huge infrastructure of connector and bypass roads… Between 1993 and 2000, Israel confiscated 40,000 acres of Palestinian land, constructed 250 miles of connector and bypass roads, doubled the number of settlers, and built 30 new settlements…. [And since then,] the Israeli prime minister has not only refused to stop building the 2500 housing units that were under construction in the West Bank, but just to make it clear to Obama who was boss, in late June 2009, he authorized the building of 300 new homes in the West Bank. Netanyahu refused to even countenance any limits on settlement building in East Jerusalem, which is supposed to be the capital of a Palestinian state.”
I could write more about this death by a thousand cuts but what good would it do. The Second Nakba has already begun. And nobody seems to care — except for its victims. History is repeating itself here. This is so much like Germany in 1933 when corporatists started establishing prisons-for-profit and nobody cared what happened to the Jews. And it’s also like South Africa in 1962 when corporatists took control of establishing Bantustans and nobody cared what happened to the Blacks.
And will this also be like America in a few more years, after corporatists have also seized absolute power here — and nobody will care what happens to us either?
Here’s another example of a forced population displacement that nobody cared about, one that was overseen by Britain and the United States (not by Nazis), involved 13 million Europeans and cost approximately 500,000 to 2,000,000 lives, including the lives of 7,000 children under the age of five:
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Between 1945 and 1950, Europe witnessed the largest episode of forced migration, and perhaps the single greatest movement of population, in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians—the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children under 16—were forcibly ejected from their places of birth in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and what are today the western districts of Poland.
“As The New York Times noted in December 1945, the number of people the Allies proposed to transfer in just a few months was about the same as the total number of all the immigrants admitted to the United States since the beginning of the 20th century. They were deposited among the ruins of Allied-occupied Germany to fend for themselves as best they could. The number who died as a result of starvation, disease, beatings, or outright execution is unknown, but conservative estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people lost their lives in the course of the operation.” http://chronicle.com/article/
Are we having fun yet?
I was recently thinking about all the wars that America has been in over time, and then started listing them. Let’s see. There’s been America’s various wars on the Middle East, that Korean “police action”, World War I, World War II, the American Civil War, Vietnam, the Central American Wars, the Cold War and also various covert wars where other countries did the fighting but Washington supplied the cash — such as the violent and tragic fall of democratic governments in the Congo and Iran.
But when we consider the Big Picture, did any of these wars ever even make even the slightest difference — other than to make innumerable American citizens poorer and/or deader?
Even World War II, which was supposed to keep us safe from corporatism? But did it? Now that a kinder, gentler form of corporatism currently runs the world? Or what about World War I, which was supposed to keep us safe for democracy? Under Citizens United, is our democracy now all that safe? Or take Vietnam, which was supposed to keep us safe from China — the landlord who now holds our mortgage?
Did any of these wars make any difference at all? Other than to kill approximately one billion people and waste trillions of dollars and destroy untold resources — which we now desperately need? Not really. And nobody had fun during any of them either.
Our Survival Depends On Learning To Recognize Him…
Today we are witnessing the complete breakdown of our institutions. This is true in finance, banking, and government. The bald fact confronts us at the gas pump and in the supermarket. It is true in education, where we pay heavily to ensure our children learn only to find, instead, they are being propagandized and their presence in schools used to assert control over how they are raised.
War has become our continual condition. Young people are enticed and coerced into the military through promises, which will not be kept, and economic conditions which leave them no choices. They come home inflicted with PTSD,TBI, struggling to function. Many die of suicide, or on the streets, homeless.
Our courts have long since ceased being the dispassionate tribunal where the condition and wealth of those standing before it does not matter. Corruption, purchased verdicts, and greed, drive those who were entrusted with ensuring equal access to justice for all Americans.
Law enforcement, police, prisons, and its management and infrastructure, moved into fast forward over a decade ago. The police know nothing about the Constitution or our rights. Their training is militarized. Prisons have become corporate profit centers, expanding due to the proliferation of laws which bolster their bottom line, sucking money out of the pockets of Americans.
We have been told it is right and proper to bail out irresponsible and predatory corporations – but individuals who paid into Social Security must pull in their belts and live on less on less – even as the cost of food continues to climb monthly, edging them toward starvation.
Organic dairies and gardening are under attack, while GMO is fast tracked.
The middle class has all but disappeared, leaving only the wealthy – and the rest of us.
In every part we confront the growth of restrictions and controls, limitations of our right to choose for ourselves.
We look into each others eyes and ask, “What happened?”
You’ve heard many theories and watched as attempts to correct the corruption failed. Checks and balances have also been hijacked. These are all failing because the foundational problem was not recognized.
The electoral process has been hijacked. From the presentation of candidates, until the votes are counted, the whole is managed through a process which includes media owned by what I call Greedville, in the case of media seven large, global corporations which are all controlled by psychopaths. Information, now divorced from facts, is filtered through systems for nomination and voting managed outside of the public view.
The presence of psychopaths among us is the problem.
Normal people could never pull this off. Normal people have consciences. Our unseen problem has been those without conscience, the psychopathic, who concentrate where they have access to power, changing institutional practices and culture, looting the system.
Humanity needs to understand and take action. In this series we will lay out causes and what can be done to take back our world.
- Understand psychopathy through the case of Alexander, 13th Duke of Manchester, psychopath.
- The strategies used by psychopaths
- How our institutions fail to account for psychopathic behavior.
- How psychopaths manipulate the emotionally normal to work for them.
- Understand the impact of their presence among us.
Alexander, 13th Duke of Manchester
The Early Life of a Psychopath
Allow me to introduce you to the poster boy for Psychopathy, His Grace, Alexander, the 13th Duke of Manchester, or Alexander Montagu, though during his criminal career he has used other names in plenty. He is not a smart psychopath, but his life illustrates many truths about the condition.
Alexander Montagu is one of the hundreds of thousands of those without conscience walking among us. This assertion is supported by a wealth of evidence from multiple sources over a period spanning decades.
His condition was first identified by a psychiatrist named Dr. Barry Williamson, who attended him in 1984 when he was institutionalized for assault with a spear gun and attempted suicide. At the time he was on welfare, received because he was deemed ‘disabled.’
Montagu was treated at Pine Lodge Clinic, according to the transcript.
Dr. Williamson’s comment, made to Montagu’s solicitor Mr. Zoltan Varszeghy, who has now returned to Hungary, is included. The comment entered into the court record was, “Dr. Williamson attended him there. Dr. Williamson has in fact told me he has psychopathic tendencies.” The full transcript can be viewed. Bottom of page 9.
Montagu was then facing charges of assault against his wife and at least one police officer with a spear gun.
His behavior as a child was disruptive, both according to his mother, this supplied in emails, and according to his brother Kimble, information provided in a declaration given in 2011.
Alexander was expelled twenty times from the school he attended in Beverly Hills and from every other school where he was placed, according to his mother, Lady Mary Montagu. He failed to develop relationships with either of his siblings, both of whom grew up to live normal, stable, lives.
This is an identifying characteristic of a psychopath.
His relationship with his mother is one of demanding his needs be serviced while he provides nothing in return.
Another psychopathic characteristic; he is entitled.
He has borrowed money from his sister, Emma, and never repaid the funds and his brother, Kimble was also called upon for assistance, despite the fact Kimble is not close to him and so testified in his declaration given under penalty of perjury for the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, in July of 2011.
Borrowing money from others, or receiving services, activates a strategy which his former wife,Wendy Buford, reported seeing played out many times.
After receiving funds or services Montagu distances himself from the individual, who he vilifies. He then picks a fight, and refuses to carry through with his promise for payment or repayment. It is always their fault, never his.
This is the concept of ‘splitting,’ used by the disordered. The targeted victim is either all good, when they are being used; or all bad, when he is finished with them.
This is a standard strategy common to psychopaths.
The vilification strategy also includes assault by slander, a massive campaign to destroy the reputation of the individual who is no longer useful to him. Relatives, journalists, business partners, former wives, and friends have all experienced this parting gift from Montagu.
When discovered in a crime Montagu blames others. During Montagu’s recent arraignment for passing a bad check in Las Vegas he, or his wife, variously claimed it was a case of mistaken identity, use of the wrong checkbook, or a plot carried out to embarrass him.
This frequently works for him because he is titled, and because, as a psychopath, he shows no sense of guilt or shame. He lies smoothly and constantly, remaking reality as he believes it will work to persuade his victim to perform as he wants.
Having thoroughly victimized his target Montagu positions himself as the victim. This is a strategy known as, the ‘Turn Around.’
This also is characteristic of psychopaths.
All successful con men are psychopaths. Police in Australia identified Alexander Montagu as a “highly successful con-man,’ by the time he was 29 years of age, this remark memorialized in an article written about him in the Australian Post in May of 1991. This classification of psychopath is not necessarily violent, but is, nonetheless, psychopathic. Murderers such as Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olson, John Wayne Gacy may be serial killers, smiling as they murder, but most psychopaths, such as Montagu, are subclinical, meaning they avoid punishment because their crimes are financial or less egregious forms of abuse than murder – but still costly and damaging to their victims.
This term, used by Robert Hare, the recognized world expert on psychopathy, includes individuals who, who, like Montagu are dangerous and unpredictable.
A difference in the brain
The source of psychopathy is in the brain itself. A study carried out at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by researchers found a variance while studying images of prisoners’ brains. These revealed that psychopaths have reduced connections between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), the part of the brain responsible for sentiments such as empathy and guilt, and the amygdala, reconciling fear andanxiety.
Because psychopaths do not feel emotions,fear or empathy, they do not experience love or guilt. Normal humans reference emotional states and their actions and choices are dictated and limited by their feelings. These characteristics are shared by all normal humans and human institutions are designed, taking into account concern for others and a working conscience.
A normal individual cannot lie without experiencing anxiety. This is the basis of the Lie Detector. A psychopath feels no anxiety when he is lying, for him lying is normal behavior. This helps to explain how our institutions have been converted by the psychopathic for their own profit. As normal humans we sense when someone is anxious, this can lead us to believe they are lying – and to the assumption those without anxiety are telling the truth.
Psychopaths who are subclinical, formulate their strategies for getting what they want from experimenting with what works to accomplish their goals. Over the last centuries, and especially during the 20th Century, psychopaths have intentionally, and actively, worked to convert our institutions to a centralized model which allowed them to have control.
How this took place is the subject of a later article.
An examination of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal government, finance, our infrastructure for regulation, among others, shows how these can, in effect, become operational tools for the highly psychopathic, who are concentrated in these specific areas.
Estimates of the percentage of the psychopathic in finance is believed to be far larger than the general population. Theories of the impact of psychopaths on corporate culture have been, according to Robert Hare, PhD., and growing number of experts and observers, highly significant.
In a paper appearing in the Journal of Business Ethics, 2011, “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory for Global Financial Crisis,” written by Clive R. Boddy and copyrighted by Springer, cites the need for further study of the impact of psychopaths in the corporate environment, pointing out the ‘strengths’ of psychopaths, charisma, self-confidence, and presentation, allow them to claim credit for successes for which they are not responsible. Since they lack conscience this is most likely to happen. Psychopaths are not troubled when they walk away with huge remuneration, leaving the company to falter and die. In recent days, we have often watches this take place.
The theory is receiving serious consideration in business and studies are continuing.
Psychopaths operating on the level of banking, finance, and other institutions function on a higher level level than Montagu. They are more intelligent and are more able to emulate emotions. They are smoother and far more difficult to identify.
Montagu is an example of a lower level psychopath, he routinely threatens violence and has been violent, witness his several convictions for assault in Australia. He, however, learned to modify the amount of violence to ensure he would not again face incarceration.
All psychopaths tend to find successful strategies and repeat them. Psychopaths, regardless of intelligence, are limited in innovation. But they are skilled in manipulation and control. They have a radar sense of knowing what the normal person expects and use this to gain trust and access to whatever they are trying obtain from the victim. They wolves in sheep’s clothing, waiting for the moment to strike.
Manipulation and control are standard tools for psychopaths.
Montagu’s subsequent acts illustrate the desire for immediate gratification, ability to ignore potential hazards, and ability to rewrite reality to fit into the lies he was telling to engage possible victims.
This is typical of the psychopath, category - Egocentric and Grandiose
In 1988 Montagu had openly solicited marriage by purchase for the title of Duchess. In another article, titled, “My Barmy Marriage.” written the same year in The People, Marion Stoner reacts, offering her story, having read Montagu was attempting to profit by marriage.
She had been unable to find him to serve papers, she reported in the article. She goes on to outline what transpired to a small degree. Her Application for Separation , given under penalty of perjury, is more forthcoming and reads like a horror story. Other documents, found here, support her statements.
1991 found Montagu arrested for entering Canada. The title of the article, Diana’s Cousin Selling Titleappeared on September 21, 1991 in the Sun Journal. The reason for his arrest appears at the end, “He was arrested for allegedly entering Canada illegally from Hong Kong on June 17th. Immigration officials say he failed to disclose 29 criminal convictions for fraud and assault in Australia.”
Montagu knew he was not divorced from his first wife, Marion Stoner, who he had assaulted and lethally threatened with a spear gun, after less than three months of marriage. The spear missed Marion’s friend’s head, also present, by half an inch.
Today Montagu asserts, against all existing proof, several conflicting stories. He tells people Marion Stoner never existed. He tells people the wedding was a gag. He tells people his mother flubbed the annulment, and he tells people his mother had a long term plot to get the title of Duke for his younger brother. The story used depends on what he thinks will work.
Proof means nothing to a psychopath. Reality is what they say it is. This can sometimes work against them in several ways.
Viscount Mandeville solves the problem of being deported and homeless.
And, as a testament to how easily the psychopath, even a less intelligent psychopath, can manipulate normal people, let us consider how Montagu managed to stay in a relationship with Wendy Buford Montagu for 15 years, years fraught with trauma for her.
Montagu originally married Wendy because he was running out of money and was in danger of being deported. Married to an American woman with a job evidently became his goal. Wendy reported Alexander was supposedly living with his business partner but had his own car. She later learned he was borrowing the car owned by his business partner’s girl friend, claiming to own it.
The entire relationship can truthfully be characterized as one outrage after another.
Montagu married Buford in 1993, just before the birth of their son, Alexander, Jr., his first act was to demand she visit the immigration office to prove they were legally married (a lie) so he could evade deportation, which he said was about to take place due to the threats of his business partner. Within weeks of their first date he had insinuated himself into her apartment and was using her car as his own. His business partner’s girl friend had reclaimed her automobile.
Over the next 15 years the couple was evicted 11 times, each time because Alexander spent the money for rent or the mortgage elsewhere. Wendy was never permitted to know anything about their finances. Asking if the rent was paid was pointless. Alexander would always lie.
When evicted for non-payment of rent or mortgage, he focused anger on the landlord, routinely destroying the property. This has included pouring cement down the toilets. according to his present wife Laura. With Montagu the barrage of such behavior was constant and consistent, according to his wife of 15 years, Wendy Buford Montagu.
Since Montagu never had a job it was his wife’s income from her job which was garnisheed. Today, Wendy is still paying off these debts.
Although his mother, Lady Mary, carried the paperwork for the Stoner divorce in 1996, asking Alexander only to sign and return papers.
After the divorce Lady Mary ordered him to remarry Wendy, who had no idea he had been married to Marion Stoner at the time of their wedding. Alexander never mentioned the matter. He had lied on their marriage license, checking, ‘never married,’ instead of ‘married but annulled,’ which had been an option. He had not mentioned an annulment, but one of his alternative reality stories would be blaming his mother for not finishing an annulment which there is no record had ever been filed.
Yet if Alexander had not, himself, informed the Trustees, the matter would have died there. Alexander, whose life, like all psychopaths, is filled with chaos, decided to divorce Wendy after he succeeded to the title of Duke in 2002, while waiting for the sale of the Manchester Jewels to provide him with funds.
Wendy could not help but notice he started going to the tanning salon, had his teeth redone, and spending other money on himself from a household budget which was slim at best. Overweight, he also had a colon reduction so he could slim down. Naturally, he lied to Wendy, telling her the surgery was covered by insurance and was for his back. This deception worked for him until she came to pick him up at the hospital and asked the nurse how the back surgery had gone.
Their divorce from a non-existent marriage was orchestrated by Montagu with the intention of gaining custody of the children so Wendy would be required to pay him both alimony and child support.
Filing a false report of violence, he received a temporary order excluding her from the family home. Wendy, realizing what was happening, cooperated completely with the court and went through an intense, expensive, and humiliating process which proved she did not take drugs, was not an alcoholic, and was not violent. Wendy was awarded physical custody of both children, who were turned over to her without any of their possessions and dressed in only their pajamas.
Alexander made none of the court ordered payments for tests he had demanded, though the court had insisted he do so. Montagu had stolen all of Wendy’s property, evidently selling her family heirlooms and jewelry. Wendy has received none of her possessions. All Montagu offered to give her were some old clothes.
Making Wendy disappear must finally have occurred to him as a solution to his problem. Fortunately for her, the individual Montagu asked to carry out the act, who was not psychopathic, called her and warned her what had been offered him. Her call to local detectives made this course too risky for Montagu to pursue.
Montagu had attempted to hide his assets and bank accounts. These had been discovered through subpoena, including one account holding nearly one millions dollars. He was confronted with the records on the stand and still tried to lie his way out, claiming it could not be his account.
Montagu left the area, never paying the court ordered support for his children or alimony. The court proved entirely unable to cope with someone for whom deceit was natural and who never paid his bills.
Normal people follow the rules. Psychopaths ignore them.
Charges of Bigamy are proved.
Two years after their divorce was over, 2009, evidently hoping the monies paid to the children would be directed to him by the Trust if his children were known to be illegitimate, he so informed the Trustees.
The Trustees were forced to stop the payments to the children, made on their behalf as beneficiaries, which had made up for the support not received by their father. After short consideration the Trustees filed a law suit, intended to clarify and affirm their wish to continue payments, not allowed under existing law.
The law suit was filed in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division and heard on July 19th 2011. The Trustees could restart payments to the straitened family. In the immediate aftermath a spate of articles hit papers across the world, naming Montagu as a bigamist, which examination of the existing documents and testimony had proven him to be.
Proof means nothing to a psychopath. Realizing the public relations disaster he had wrought, Montagu began to whine, asking for someone to prove someone else was responsible.
With the negative weight of the world opinion directed at him, not a shred of shame or contrition surfaced. Consideration for what his children had suffered, what he had done to his former wife, were ignored. The fact he was also proven to have committed massive fraud against his former wife, he also ignored, focusing only on himself.
His only interaction with his children is limited to calling them up to slander their mother and make demands. This reached a high, or low point, when he called his 12 year old daughter, Ashley, to describe pictures he had taken of her mother, clearly asleep in her bed unclothed. He told his daughter he had arranged to sell these to a porn site online. The taped message exists and will soon be back up online.
Whatever happens is always blamed on someone else. Bringing it full circle, this was true of his childhood and, as you read articles written about him over his life time, you see this has been consistent. He shows no sense of shame, no empathy, no compassion.
Judge Margaret McMurdo, before whom Montagu appeared in Australia for stealing and selling rental cars in 1991, advised him to continue his psychiatric care, “You need it,” she commented. It has been noted by others in the legal profession he lives in a fantasy world and does not relate to reality. The court was unable to cope with Montagu, releasing him to prey again, even though by 1991 there was a solid record of his crimes.
The Direction Forward – A Solution
During the 80′s and 90′s psychiatry believed psychopaths could be ‘cured.’ This hopeful assessment has now been largely abandoned, due to the insights gained through the work of Robert Hare, Ph.D., who has demonstrated the fact psychopaths receiving counseling benefit, but only by becoming more effective psychopaths.
It is time we focused on the source of the problem and, in cooperation with reform movements, began taking psychopaths into account.
Studying the history of Alexander, Duke of Manchester, provides evidentiary proof of the inability of courts on three continents to cope with the extreme likelihood he would, upon release, again look for unwitting victims. The number of Montagu’s victims doubtless number in the hundreds. As tragic as this is, it cannot be compared to the disastrous outcome from psychopaths who infest our institutions, converting for their own profit. Millions of Americans are, today, their victims. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
We must stop the psychopathic from participation, where a conscience and empathy are essential. Those areas are government, corporations with government contracts, our courts, our schools, and all entities funded by or in contractual relationships with government.
The Hare test for psychopathy, given by a qualified and trained professional is very reliable, remarkably so, when used by non-law enforcement. Hare expressed reservations at having it used more widely and, there are indications this might prove to be the case, according to an article, Can A Test Really Tell Who’s A Psychopath? by Alix Spiegel appearing on NPR. But the problem arises from tests given by individuals, who though trained, are being paid by parties with a vested interest in a specific outcome. If tests are given blind, with no information provided to the person administering the test, this would not be an issue.
Hare himself has suggested it be used for those in government, corporations, courts, including attorneys, and in law enforcement. This would be given upon application for employment or, now to continue employment.
We don’t need legislation to enact this measure. Before voting for candidates, we demand they be tested,in effect, certified non-psychopathic, a kind of Honesty Bond. Some corporations will willingly test their officers and upper level employees. We buy from them, boycotting all others.
Ordinary corruption, we can handle.
One week from today is Easter, the yearly celebration of the resurrection of Christ, a man who exemplifies Love. Eerily, the psychopathic exemplify the anti-Christ. Devoid of conscience and compassion, psychopaths share the characteristics of the devil, doing evil for evil’s sake. As I considered this I felt a chill run across my back.
Many have wondered when the Anti-Christ, long predicted, would be known. Many individuals and institutions have been suggested in this role. The threat represented by the anti-Christ seemed to come from all around us but be no place specific.
A threat spread among us would have that effect. Not knowing, we could not see, looking into faced that seem all too human.
Psychopaths, they do evil for evil’s sake.
Forget the past (Saddam, Osama, Gaddafi) and the present (Assad, Ahmadinejad). A bet can be made over a bottle of Petrus 1989 (the problem is waiting the next six years to collect); for the foreseeable future, Washington’s top bogeyman – and also for its rogue North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners and assorted media shills – will be none other than back-to-the-future Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And make no mistake; Vlad the Putinator will relish it. He’s back exactly where he wants to be; as Russia’s commander-in-chief, in charge of the military, foreign policy and all national security matters.
Anglo-American elites still squirm at the mention of his now legendary Munich 2007 speech, when he blasted the then George W Bush administration for its obsessively unipolar imperial agenda “through a system which has nothing to do with democracy” and non-stop overstepping of its “national borders in almost all spheres”.”
So Washington and its minions have been warned. Before last Sunday’s election, Putin even advertised his road map The essentials; no war on Syria; no war on Iran; no “humanitarian bombing” or fomenting “color revolutions” – all bundled into a new concept, “illegal instruments of soft power”. For Putin, a Washington-engineered New World Order is a no-go. What rules is “the time-honored principle of state sovereignty”.
No wonder. When Putin looks at Libya, he sees the graphic, regressive consequences of NATO’s “liberation” through “humanitarian bombing”; a fragmented country controlled by al-Qaeda-linked militias; backward Cyrenaica splitting from more developed Tripolitania; and a relative of the last king brought in to rule the new “emirate” – to the delight of those model democrats of the House of Saud.
More key essentials; no US bases encircling Russia; no US missile defense without strict admission, in writing, that the system will never target Russia; and increasingly close cooperation among the BRICS group of emerging powers.
Most of this was already implied in Putin’s previous road map – his paper A new integration project for Eurasia: The future in the making. That was Putin’s ippon - he loves judo – against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the International Monetary Fund and hardcore neo-liberalism. He sees a Eurasian Union as a “modern economic and currency union” stretching all across Central Asia.
For Putin, Syria is an important detail (not least because of Russia’s naval base in the Mediterranean port of Tartus, which NATO would love to abolish). But the meat of the matter is Eurasia integration. Atlanticists will freak out en masse as he puts all his efforts into coordinating “a powerful supranational union that can become one of the poles of today’s world while being an efficient connecting link between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific Region”.
The opposite roadmap will be Obama and Hillary’s Pacific doctrine. Now how exciting is that?
Putin plays Pipelineistan
It was Putin who almost single-handedly spearheaded the resurgence of Russia as a mega energy superpower (oil and gas accounts for two-thirds of Russia’s exports, half of the federal budget and 20% of gross domestic product). So expect Pipelineistan to remain key.
And it will be mostly centered on gas; although Russia holds no less than 30% of global gas supplies, its liquid natural gas (LNG) production is less than 5% of the global market share. It’s not even among the top ten producers.
Putin knows that Russia will need buckets of foreign investment in the Arctic – from the West and especially Asia – to keep its oil production above 10 million barrels a day. And it needs to strike a complex, comprehensive, trillion-dollar deal with China centered on Eastern Siberia gas fields; the oil angle has been already taken care of via the East Siberian Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline. Putin knows that for China – in terms of securing energy – this deal is a vital counterpunch against Washington’s shady “pivoting” towards Asia.
Putin will also do everything to consolidate the South Stream pipeline – which may end up costing a staggering $22 billion (the shareholder agreement is already signed between Russia, Germany, France and Italy. South Stream is Russian gas delivered under the Black Sea to the southern part of the EU, through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovakia). If South Stream is a go, rival pipeline Nabucco is checkmated; a major Russian victory against Washington pressure and Brussels bureaucrats.
Everything is still up for grabs at the crucial intersection of hardcore geopolitics and Pipelineistan. Once again Putin will be facing yet another Washington road map – the not exactly successful New Silk Road (See US’s post-2014 Afghan agenda falters, Asia Times Online, Nov 4, 2011.)
Ant then there’s the joker in the pack – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Putin will want Pakistan to become a full member as much as China is interested in incorporating Iran. The repercussions would be ground-breaking – as in Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran coordinating not only their economic integration but their mutual security inside a strengthened SCO, whose motto is “non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-interference in the affairs of other countries”.
Putin sees that with Russia, Central Asia and Iran controlling no less than 50% of world’s gas reserves, and with Iran and Pakistan as virtual SCO members, the name of the game becomes Asia integration – if not Eurasia’s. The SCO develops as an economic/security powerhouse, while, in parallel, Pipelineistan accelerates the full integration of the SCO as a counterpunch to NATO. The regional players themselves will decide what makes more sense – this or a New Silk Road invented in Washington.
Make no mistake. Behind the relentless demonization of Putin and the myriad attempts to delegitimize Russia’s presidential elections, lie some very angry and powerful sections of Washington and Anglo-American elites.
They know Putin will be an ultra tough negotiator on all fronts. They know Moscow will apply increasingly closer coordination with China; on thwarting permanent NATO bases in Afghanistan; on facilitating Pakistan’s strategic autonomy; on opposing missile defense; on ensuring Iran is not attacked.
He will be the devil of choice because there could not be a more formidable opponent in the world stage to Washington’s plans – be they coded as Greater Middle East, New Silk Road, Full Spectrum Dominance or America’s Pacific Century. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble.
Source: Asia Times
“Defense lawyers say Manning was clearly a troubled young soldier whom the Army should never have deployed to Iraq or given access to classified material while he was stationed there … They say he was in emotional turmoil, partly because he was a gay soldier at a time when homosexuals were barred from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.” (Associated Press, February 3)
It’s unfortunate and disturbing that Bradley Manning’s attorneys have chosen to consistently base his legal defense upon the premise that personal problems and shortcomings are what motivated the young man to turn over hundreds of thousands of classified government files to Wikileaks. They should not be presenting him that way any more than Bradley should be tried as a criminal or traitor. He should be hailed as a national hero. Yes, even when the lawyers are talking to the military mind. May as well try to penetrate that mind and find the freest and best person living there. Bradley also wears a military uniform.
Here are Manning’s own words from an online chat: “If you had free reign over classified networks … and you saw incredible things, awful things … things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC … what would you do? … God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms. … I want people to see the truth … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
Is the world to believe that these are the words of a disturbed and irrational person? Do not the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Geneva Conventions speak of a higher duty than blind loyalty to one’s government, a duty to report the war crimes of that government?
Below is a listing of some of the things revealed in the State Department cables and Defense Department files and videos. For exposing such embarrassing and less-than-honorable behavior, Bradley Manning of the United States Army and Julian Assange of Wikileaks may spend most of their remaining days in a modern dungeon, much of it while undergoing that particular form of torture known as “solitary confinement”. Indeed, it has been suggested that the mistreatment of Manning has been for the purpose of making him testify against and implicating Assange. Dozens of members of the American media and public officials have called for Julian Assange’s execution or assassination. Under the new National Defense Authorization Act, Assange could well be kidnaped or assassinated. What century are we living in? What world?
It was after seeing American war crimes such as those depicted in the video “Collateral Murder” and documented in the “Iraq War Logs,” made public by Manning and Wikileaks, that the Iraqis refused to exempt US forces from prosecution for future crimes. The video depicts an American helicopter indiscriminately murdering several non-combatants in addition to two Reuters journalists, and the wounding of two little children, while the helicopter pilots cheer the attacks in a Baghdad suburb like it was the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.
The insistence of the Iraqi government on legal jurisdiction over American soldiers for violations of Iraqi law — something the United States rarely, if ever, accepts in any of the many countries where its military is stationed — forced the Obama administration to pull the remaining American troops from the country.
If Manning had committed war crimes in Iraq instead of exposing them, he would be a free man today, as are the many hundreds/thousands of American soldiers guilty of truly loathsome crimes in cities like Haditha, Fallujah, and other places whose names will live in infamy in the land of ancient Mesopotamia.
Besides playing a role in writing finis to the awful Iraq war, the Wikileaks disclosures helped to spark the Arab Spring, beginning in Tunisia.
When people in Tunisia read or heard of US Embassy cables revealing the extensive corruption and decadence of the extended ruling family there — one long and detailed cable being titled: “CORRUPTION IN TUNISIA: WHAT’S YOURS IS MINE” — how Washington’s support of Tunisian President Ben Ali was not really strong, and that the US would not support the regime in the event of a popular uprising, they took to the streets.
Here is a sample of some of the other Wikileaks revelations that make the people of the world wiser:
- In 2009 Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano became the new head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which plays the leading role in the investigation of whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons or is working only on peaceful civilian nuclear energy projects. A US embassy cable of October 2009 said Amano “took pains to emphasize his support for U.S. strategic objectives for the Agency. Amano reminded the [American] ambassador on several occasions that … he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”
- Russia refuted US claims that Iran has missiles that could target Europe.
- The British government’s official inquiry into how it got involved in the Iraq War was deeply compromised by the government’s pledge to protect the Bush administration in the course of the inquiry.
- A discussion between Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and American Gen. David H. Petraeus in which Saleh indicated he would cover up the US role in missile strikes against al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Saleh told Petraeus.
- The US embassy in Madrid has had serious points of friction with the Spanish government and civil society: a) trying to get the criminal case dropped against three US soldiers accused of killing a Spanish television cameraman in Baghdad during a 2003 unprovoked US tank shelling of the hotel where he and other journalists were staying; b )torture cases brought by a Spanish NGO against six senior Bush administration officials, including former attorney general Alberto Gonzales; c) a Spanish government investigation into the torture of Spanish subjects held at Guantánamo; d) a probe by a Spanish court into the use of Spanish bases and airfields for American extraordinary rendition (= torture) flights; e )continual criticism of the Iraq war by Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, who eventually withdrew Spanish troops.
- State Department officials at the United Nations, as well as US diplomats in various embassies, were assigned to gather as much of the following information as possible about UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, permanent security council representatives, senior UN staff, and foreign diplomats: e-mail and website addresses, internet user names and passwords, personal encryption keys, credit card numbers, frequent flyer account numbers, work schedules, and biometric data. US diplomats at the embassy in Asunción, Paraguay were asked to obtain dates, times and telephone numbers of calls received and placed by foreign diplomats from China, Iran and the Latin American leftist states of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. US diplomats in Romania, Hungary and Slovenia were instructed to provide biometric information on “current and emerging leaders and advisers” as well as information about “corruption” and information about leaders’ health and “vulnerability”. The UN directive also specifically asked for “biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats”. A similar cable to embassies in the Great Lakes region of Africa said biometric data included DNA, as well as iris scans and fingerprints.
- A special “Iran observer” in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku reported on a dispute that played out during a meeting of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. An enraged Revolutionary Guard Chief of Staff, Mohammed Ali Jafari, allegedly got into a heated argument with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and slapped him in the face because the generally conservative president had, surprisingly, advocated freedom of the press.
- The State Department, virtually alone in the Western Hemisphere, did not unequivocally condemn a June 28, 2009 military coup in Honduras, even though an embassy cable declared: “there is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch”. US support of the coup government has been unwavering ever since.
- The leadership of the Swedish Social Democratic Party — neutral, pacifist, and liberal Sweden, so the long-standing myth goes — visited the US embassy in Stockholm and asked for advice on how best to sell the war in Afghanistan to a skeptical Swedish public, asking if the US could arrange for a member of the Afghan government to come visit Sweden and talk up NATO’s humanitarian efforts on behalf of Afghan children, and so forth. [For some years now Sweden has been, in all but name, a member of NATO and the persecutor of Julian Assange, the latter to please a certain Western power.]
- The US pushed to influence Swedish wiretapping laws so communication passing through the Scandinavian country could be intercepted. The American interest was clear: Eighty per cent of all the internet traffic from Russia travels through Sweden.
- President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy told US embassy officials in Brussels in January 2010 that no one in Europe believed in Afghanistan anymore. He said Europe was going along in deference to the United States and that there must be results in 2010, or “Afghanistan is over for Europe.”
- Iraqi officials saw Saudi Arabia, not Iran, as the biggest threat to the integrity and cohesion of their fledgling democratic state. The Iraqi leaders were keen to assure their American patrons that they could easily “manage” the Iranians, who wanted stability; but that the Saudis wanted a “weak and fractured” Iraq, and were even “fomenting terrorism that would destabilize the government”. The Saudi King, moreover, wanted a US military strike on Iran.
- Saudi Arabia in 2007 threatened to pull out of a Texas oil refinery investment unless the US government intervened to stop Saudi Aramco from being sued in US courts for alleged oil price fixing. The deputy Saudi oil minister said that he wanted the US to grant Saudi Arabia sovereign immunity from lawsuits
- Saudi donors were the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
- Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial 1996 drug trial involving children with meningitis.
- Oil giant Shell claimed to have “inserted staff” and fully infiltrated Nigeria’s government.
- The Obama administration renewed military ties with Indonesia in spite of serious concerns expressed by American diplomats about the Indonesian military’s activities in the province of West Papua, expressing fears that the Indonesian government’s neglect, rampant corruption and human rights abuses were stoking unrest in the region.
- US officials collaborated with Lebanon’s defense minister to spy on, and allow Israel to potentially attack, Hezbollah in the weeks that preceded a violent May 2008 military confrontation in Beirut.
- Gabon president Omar Bongo allegedly pocketed millions in embezzled funds from central African states, channeling some of it to French political parties in support of Nicolas Sarkozy.
- Cables from the US embassy in Caracas in 2006 asked the US Secretary of State to warn President Hugo Chávez against a Venezuelan military intervention to defend the Cuban revolution in the eventuality of an American invasion after Castro’s death.
- The United States was concerned that the leftist Latin American television network, Telesur, headquartered in Venezuela, would collaborate with al Jazeera of Qatar, whose coverage of the Iraq War had gotten under the skin of the Bush administration.
- The Vatican told the United States it wanted to undermine the influence of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in Latin America because of concerns about the deterioration of Catholic power there. It feared that Chávez was seriously damaging relations between the Catholic church and the state by identifying the church hierarchy in Venezuela as part of the privileged class.
- The Holy See welcomed President Obama’s new outreach to Cuba and hoped for further steps soon, perhaps to include prison visits for the wives of the Cuban Five. Better US-Cuba ties would deprive Hugo Chávez of one of his favorite screeds and could help restrain him in the region.
- The wonderful world of diplomats: In 2010, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown raised with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the question of visas for two wives of members of the “Cuban Five”. “Brown requested that the wives (who have previously been refused visas to visit the U.S.) be granted visas so that they could visit their husbands in prison. … Our subsequent queries to Number 10 indicate that Brown made this request as a result of a commitment that he had made to UK trade unionists, who form part of the Labour Party’s core constituency. Now that the request has been made, Brown does not intend to pursue this matter further. There is no USG action required.”
- UK Officials concealed from Parliament how the US was allowed to bring cluster bombs onto British soil in defiance of a treaty banning the housing of such weapons.
- A cable was sent by an official at the US Interests Section in Havana in July 2006, during the runup to the Non-Aligned Movement conference. He noted that he was actively looking for “human interest stories and other news that shatters the myth of Cuban medical prowess”. [Presumably to be used to weaken support for Cuba amongst the member nations at the conference.]
- Most of the men sent to Guantánamo prison were innocent people or low-level operatives; many of the innocent individuals were sold to the US for bounty.
- DynCorp, a powerful American defense contracting firm that claims almost $2 billion per year in revenue from US tax dollars, threw a “boy-play” party for Afghan police recruits. (Yes, it’s what you think.)
- Even though the Bush and Obama Administrations repeatedly maintained publicly that there was no official count of civilian casualties, the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs showed that this claim was untrue.
- Known Egyptian torturers received training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
- The United States put great pressure on the Haitian government to not go ahead with various projects, with no regard for the welfare of the Haitian people. A 2005 cable stressed continued US insistence that all efforts must be made to keep former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whom the United States had overthrown the previous year, from returning to Haiti or influencing the political process. In 2006, Washington’s target was President René Préval for his agreeing to a deal with Venezuela to join Caracas’s Caribbean oil alliance, PetroCaribe, under which Haiti would buy oil from Venezuela, paying only 60 percent up front with the remainder payable over twenty-five years at 1 percent interest. And in 2009, the State Department backed American corporate opposition to an increase in the minimum wage for Haitian workers, the poorest paid in the Western Hemisphere.
- The United States used threats, spying, and more to try to get its way at the crucial 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen.
- Mahmoud Abbas, president of The Palestinian National Authority, and head of the Fatah movement, turned to Israel for help in attacking Hamas in Gaza in 2007.
- The British government trained a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a “government death squad”.
- A US military order directed American forces not to investigate cases of torture of detainees by Iraqis.
- The US was involved in the Australian government’s 2006 campaign to oust Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
- A 2009 US cable said that police brutality in Egypt against common criminals was routine and pervasive, the police using force to extract confessions from criminals on a daily basis.
- US diplomats pressured the German government to stifle the prosecution of CIA operatives who abducted and tortured Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen. [El-Masri was kidnaped by the CIA while on vacation in Macedonia on December 31, 2003. He was flown to a torture center in Afghanistan, where he was beaten, starved, and sodomized. The US government released him on a hilltop in Albania five months later without money or the means to go home.]
- 2005 cable re “widespread severe torture” by India, the widely-renowned “world’s largest democracy”: The International Committee of the Red Cross reported: “The continued ill-treatment of detainees, despite longstanding ICRC-GOI [Government of India] dialogue, have led the ICRC to conclude that New Delhi condones torture.” Washington was briefed on this matter by the ICRC years ago. What did the United States, one of the world’s leading practitioners and teachers of torture in the past century, do about it? American leaders, including the present ones, continued to speak warmly of “the world’s largest democracy”; as if torture and one of the worst rates of poverty and child malnutrition in the world do not contradict the very idea of democracy.
- The United States overturned a ban on training the Indonesian Kopassus army special forces — despite the Kopassus’s long history of arbitrary detention, torture and murder — after the Indonesian President threatened to derail President Obama’s trip to the country in November 2010.
- Since at least 2006 the United States has been funding political opposition groups in Syria, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country.
The Obama administration’s strategy in Afghanistan is in tatters. This month’s violence, sparked off by the reported burning of Qurans at an American military base, has claimed at least thirty lives. Two of the dead were U.S. Army officers murdered at their post inside the Afghan Interior Ministry, supposedly one of the most secure locations in the country.
The killings prompted General John Allen, who commands U.S. and NATO forces, to pull his personnel from Afghan government buildings, while NATO advisers in Kabul have limited communication with Karzai’s ministries to telephone and e-mail.
The problem is not new. In May 2011 a U.S. Army study established that murders of Westerners by Afghan national security forces did not represent “rare and isolated events”: between July 2010 and May of last year, more than thirty NATO personnel were killed by Afghan soldiers or policemen. Even before the latest incident there had been little trust between U.S.-led coalition forces and their local Afghan “allies” in the elusive quest for peace and stability.
To put it bluntly, the U.S. position is comparable to the predicament of the Red Army in Hungary in October 1956. Fighting the insurgents, while fearing a stab in the back from one’s local partners, is untenable. The Soviets could return with overwhelming force and subdue the revolution because they bordered Hungary, a flat country ill-suited to guerrilla warfare. This is where the parallel ends.
Administration officials have tried to put a brave face on the debacle. Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, told NPR that “we are still partnering with Afghan security forces across the country” and that “those incidents are isolated in nature.” Defense officials say that coalition training of Afghan security forces is continuing as usual. Pentagon spokesman George Little said that the U.S. is taking “the long view” and declared that the momentum of Taliban insurgents has been reversed.
As noted here recently, this claim is belied by the December 2011 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Afghanistan, which warned that the “gains” have been undercut by “pervasive corruption” and that the war is still essentially a stalemate. The NIE—which reflects the consensus view of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and 15 other agencies—also concluded that the Taliban remain undefeated and determined. Moreover the “State of the Taliban”—a recent classified NATO report—warned that once the coalition withdraws, “the Taliban considers victory inevitable.”
On current form it is unlikely that U.S. troops will be able to hand over security to Afghan forces and complete their withdrawal by 2014. Deputy Assistant Secretary Little hinted that much when he said that strategies are “always evolving.” So they should, except that there is no strategy.
Obama’s withdrawal timetable is predicated upon successful Afghanization of operational tasks, but the effort has been badly behind schedule even before the latest surge of violence. Last summer Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell admitted that the plan to train Afghan soldiers and police to replace the 100,000 American troops remained plagued by high attrition, corruption, attacks on allied troops and assassinations of Afghan officials by “rogue” members of government security forces. He expressed optimism that the Afghan security forces would “absolutely”’ be ready to take the lead in combat operations by 2014—but in the same breath, he admitted that only one of the 84 infantry battalions trained and fielded by the coalition—just over one percent of the total!—is ready to operate independently. Left to their own devices, according to off-the-record statements by returning American, French and British officers, those units would disintegrate and a significant minority of their rank-and-file would desert to the Taliban. The French see the writing on the wall: They will be quitting the mission a year earlier than planned, in 2013, according to a surprise announcement last month by President Nicolas Sarkozy. The Germans, garrisoning relatively quiet northern areas, are likely to follow suit.
Equally disturbing is the ongoing instability in Pakistan. The problem is threefold: vulnerability of the road from the port of Karachi to the Northwest Frontier; continuing links between the ISI and the Taliban; and the weakness of the government in Islamabad. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, personally unsympathetic to the fundamentalists but corrupt and unpopular, is facing legal challenges and may not last much longer. Moscow is keeping the Northern Supply Route open for now, but it cannot be turned into the only supply route if there is large-scale unrest in Pakistan or if Gilani’s successors cut off the southern lifeline. Furthermore, after being re-elected as president next week, Vladimir Putin may start having second thoughts about the northern route’s utility in view of the barely concealed U.S. support for a “Russian Spring.”
The war in Afghanistan had never made much sense. A surgical operation against al-Qaeda and a brief occupation of Kabul in the aftermath of 9-11 should have been enough to demonstrate American resolve and to satisfy the public opinion at home. Making Afghanistan peaceful, democratic and prosperous (not to forget “liberating” its women), had never been an attainable goal and therefore no “strategy” based upon it could be successful. That war always was, and still remains, a folly.
The American folly is on par with the costly blunders by the British in 1839 (the First Afghan War) and the Soviets in 1979, but it is less forgivable because the lessons of history have been ignored. In all three cases a great power sent troops to Afghanistan, occupied Kabul and installed a puppet leader of its choice. In all three cases the leader had little authority with the influential tribal chieftains and insufficient means to buy their complicity.
It is an even bet that in the third case, too, the great power will cut its losses and leave, and Afghanistan will revert to its usual state of Hobbesian pre-modernity. Pity the dead…
On Jan. 26, 2012, the European Union and 22 member states signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. They have now joined the US and seven other nations that signed the treaty last October.
Though initiated by the US, Japan is the official depository of the treaty.
Removal of the Three Strikes clause, in which users accused of three counts of piracy would be barred from the Internet, paved the way for the EU to adopt ACTA last month.
Related to ACTA, a chapter in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) “would have state signatories adopt even more restrictive copyright measures than ACTA,” reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Both ACTA and TPP were developed without public input and outside international trade groups, like the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Leaked cables published by Wikileaks in 2009 exposed early drafts of ACTA, resulting in a firestorm of controversy. Those cables, coupled with later releases, showed that ACTA negotiations began in 2006 and were controversial even to participating states. An historical summary of the treaty’s progress through December can be found here.
ACTA Violates Magna Carta and US Constitution
Like PIPA and SOPA, two domestic internet censorship bills that prompted major websites to blacken their name or website in a Jan. 18th protest, ACTA allows accusers of copyright infringement to bypass judicial review.
Please support my work by reading the full piece at Activist Post. Thanks!
Dominique de Kevelioc de Bailleul: Twenty-two months of hysteria of an impending European financial collapse, starting with Greece in March of 2010, will finally come to an end in 2012, according to the founder of Trends Research Institute, Gerald Celente.
Hysteria of the horrid possibility of a European meltdown and the dire implications for the world economy a collapse will end, as the event finally turn into unequivocal reality by April 1, with accusations of ‘fear mongering’ by a significant portion of the mob quickly dropped in favor of the next predictable reaction to the crisis: outrage against those who allowed the collapse.
“I would say, since I’ve been doing this work, over 30 years ago, I’ve never been more concerned than I am right now,” Celente told ABC, Australia.
In Celente’s latest forecast, titled, The First Great War of the 21st Century—Prepare, Survive, Prevail, he paints a bleak picture for 2012, predicting a worsening of class warfare that already wages within more than a dozen countries, from Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Qatar to the UK, Greece and Italy, which will eventually spread to eastern Europe/central Asia and more intensely in the United States.
But, what the world has seen so far is only a economic and social symptom of central bankers’ stop-gap remedies, haphazardly applied to the global financial crisis since its beginning in the U.S. and the fall of Bear Stearns in 2008.
After dozens of trillions of dollars thrown at a global solvency crisis with nothing but further deterioration to show for the money spent, some wonder if the world is about to slide still further into depression.
According to Celente, when the European Union falters from too much supply of debt coming due ($7.3 trillion from G-7 nations, see zerohedge.com) against the backdrop of sliding demand for more debt, the European domino will topple other dominoes, widening the global depression to include the world’s larger economies.
“If you live in Greece, you’re in a depression; if you live in Spain, you’re in a depression; if you live in Portugal or Ireland, you’re in a depression,” Celente said. “If you live in Lithuania, you’re running to the bank to get your money out of the bank as the bank runs go on. It’s a depression. Hungary, there’s a depression, and much of Eastern Europe, Romania, Bulgaria. And there are a lot of depressions going on [already].”
And as far as a Chinese riding in on a white horse to save the day, Celente said, it’s “highly unlikely. China has 1.3 billion people with a million problems . . . If the Europeans and Americans don’t buy a lot of crap, then the Chinese can make it and sell it to them.”
He continued to explain that China will then likely slow its imports of materials from countries which have been supplying mined product during the commodities boom, leading to a vicious spiral of increased unemployment and declining economic activity—a scenario strongly intimated by Dow Theory Letters author Richard Russell in his latest letter to investors (excerpts posted on King World News). Russell, too, expects a steepening U.S. depression, with 25 percent unemployment in the America as his target at the bottom of the depression.
“This whole thing is connected,” Celente explained. “China isn’t going to have the money to throw around to losers anymore than loan shark would give a gambler who can’t pay his old debts back and has a bad gambling habit another loan to gamble . . . They [Chinese] have their own problems to deal with.”
How bad will the next leg down in the world economy likely to be? Could Russell be right? Celente believes a comparison with the 1930s is a good one. He continued, “ . . . you can even listen to Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, or I like to fondly call it, the International Mafia Federation—the loan sharks of last resort—even she’s saying what we’ve been saying now for three years about the parallels between the Crash of 1929, the Great Depression, currency wars, trade wars, world war.
“The Panic of ’08; you have the Great Recessions—Great Depressions going on. Oh, by the way, real estate prices in the United States, they’re at a steeper decline than they were during the Great Depression. Foreclosures continue to mount. It’s taking people over 40 weeks, who lose jobs to find another job, and then finding one at a fraction of what they lost the old one at.”
And as history demonstrates, when horrible economics overwhelm a society, political leaders search for a means of generating national jingoism to redirect the angry mob. That search for political safety usually turns to war.
“So then you look at the trade wars that they’re now talking about,” Celente said. “And, as I said, when you add them up, you have the beginnings of a great war going on already. Oh, and now, and now, they’re talking about, hey, we did such a great job in Iraq and Afghanistan, why don’t we bomb Iran? Have you heard the presidential candidates of the United States, with the exception of Ron Paul, that all want to go to war against Iran? So you can see where it’s going.
“You have psychopaths that have caused a lot of these problems that are giving the answers to how to solve them by adding more violence and criminality on top of old violence and criminality.”
Celente said the kickoff to a global meltdown and a call to war could “spiral out of control” some time “by the first quarter of 2012” as the European crisis worsens to the point of a crack up. “There’s no way to bail out the European nations,” Celente said forcefully.
And the build up to social unrest, calamity and possible civil war can be seen a mile away, said Celente, who segued into another one of the trends he sees for 2012: Safe Havens (escaping the United States).
“They just passed a law in the United states, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),” he said. “It now gives the president the right to identify a person like me and call me a terrorist and that I’m against the government. And the military can come and break down my doors—the military—and arrest me, charge me with nothing, give me no trial, no rights of habeas corpus, no jury, no judge, and they can kill me if they so choose, torture me; they can send me to any country around the world.”
Celente advises preparing now for a quick route out of the United States if a bank holiday (a prediction of his) is called. The ramifications of a dollar devaluation aren’t clear, but an enacted NDAA, FEMA camp readiness and scheduled TSA checkpoint expansion plans suggest the U.S. may enter a crisis on par with the lead up to the U.S. Civil War of 1861-5. Also see BER article,Gerald Celente Forecast 2012, FEMA Prepares for Dollar Collapse
Source: Beacon Equity Research
The Head Of The IMF Warns Of A “1930s Depression”
Are we on the verge of another Great Depression? Christian Lagarde, the head of the IMF, said this week that if dramatic action is not taken immediately we could actually see conditions “reminiscent of the 1930s depression” and that no country on earth “will be immune to the crisis”. Right now, financial panic is sweeping across Europe, but most Americans are not too concerned about it because they simply don’t understand how important the EU is. The truth is that the EU has a much larger population than the United States does. The EU has an economy that is nearly as large as the economies of the United States and China combined. The EU hasmore Fortune 500 companies that the United States does, and the banking system of Europe is substantially larger than the banking system of the United States. Anyone out there that believes that a massive financial collapse in Europe would not dramatically affect the rest of the globe is being delusional. The European debt crisis is one of the biggest stories that we have seen in a long, long time and the coming financial meltdown is going to permanently change the global economy.
So far, politicians in Europe have held 19 high-level emergency meetings in an attempt to solve this crisis.
All of their efforts have failed.
Right now, this is the situation in Europe….
-Most EU governments are drowning in toxic levels of debt
-Bond yields have risen dramatically this year and this has caused borrowing costs for most EU members to soar
-In an attempt to get debt under control, governments all over Europe are implementing brutal austerity measures and this is causing European economies to slow down substantially
-There is a tremendous lack of confidence in the European financial system at this point and this is causing a massive credit crunch
-The credit crunch is causing the money supply to drop significantly in almost every nation in the EU
-Major banks all over Europe are massively overleveraged and are on the verge of failing
This is all so similar to what we saw back during the early 1930s.
In fact, things have gotten so bad that prominent world leaders are now using apocalyptic language when describing the situation in Europe.
Just check out what the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, recently said about Europe. Speaking at a State Department conference in Washington D.C. this week, Lagarde made the following very shocking statements….
*“The world economic outlook at the moment is not particularly rosy. It is quite gloomy”
*“There is no economy in the world, whether low-income countries, emerging markets, middle-income countries or super-advanced economies that will be immune to the crisis that we see not only unfolding but escalating”
*“It is not a crisis that will be resolved by one group of countries taking action. It is going to be hopefully resolved by all countries, all regions, all categories of countries actually taking action.”
*“No country or region is immune. All must take action to boost growth. Work must start in the eurozone countries and must continue relentlessly. The risks of inaction include protectionism, isolation and other elements reminiscent of the 1930s depression.”
*“This is exactly the description of what happened in the 1930s, and what followed is not something we are looking forward to.”
But didn’t the politicians in Europe recently reach a deal which was supposed to fix all this?
Well, unfortunately the deal basically did nothing to fix the underlying financial problems that Europe is facing.
In fact, global financial markets seem entirely unimpressed by this recent deal. A recent article by Professor Peter Morici detailed some of the problems with the deal….
Investors are rejecting the euro deal, because the agreement does not effectively meet the funding needs of Italy and other Mediterranean governments, address the weak balance sheets of European commercial banks, or fix the underlying structural flaws in the euro architecture.
The €440 billion European Financial Stability Facility is providing short-term funding—guaranteed by 17 Eurozone member states as a whole—to tide over the more troubled governments.
However, those bailouts impose huge cuts in spending and tax increases. Coupled with austerity plans also adopted by France and other healthier European states, those packages are pushing Europe into a recession that could last several years.
What is even worse is that there are signs that this recent deal is already unraveling. Some EU nations have decided that they are not sure that they want to go along with the program.
The following comes from a recent article in the Telegraph….
Amid fresh warnings that Europe is triggering a 1930s-style global depression, the German chancellor faced open rebellion against the key plank of her Brussels accord. The leaders of Hungary and the Czech Republic told a joint conference in Budapest they were ready to reject the planned treaty changes and implied move towards a centralised tax system. Czech prime minister Petr Necas said he was “convinced that tax harmonisation would not mean anything good for us”.
In Poland, we are actually seeing people march in the streets to protest against this new agreement….
Poles marched under banners that read: “We want sovereignty, not the euro.” They were protesting against the Brussels deal that could see EU countries, including those outside the eurozone, face penalties for breaking tough centralised spending laws.
So not only does this new deal not address the fundamental problems that Europe is facing, there is also a tremendous amount of doubt about whether or not it will eventually be approved.
Meanwhile, the brutal austerity measures that are being implemented all over Europe are pushing many EU nations into recession.
The EU (led by Germany and France) and the IMF have been pushing financially troubled nations all over Europe to make incredibly deep budget cuts. But these very deep budget cuts have had a devastating economic impact.
In a recent article, I discussed how brutal austerity measures have already pushed the economy of Greece into a full-blown depression….
Just look at what happened to Greece. Greece was forced to raise taxes and implement brutal austerity measures. That caused the economy to slow down and tax revenues to decline and so government debt figures did not improve as much as anticipated. So Greece was forced to implement even more brutal austerity measures. Well, that caused the economy to slow down even more and tax revenues declined again. In Greece this cycle has been repeated several times and now Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression. 100,000 businesses have closed and a third of the population is living in poverty. But now Germany and France intend to impose the “Greek solution” on the rest of Europe.
Right now, the flow of government money is drying up all over Europe and so is the flow of money from the banks. European banks are shrinking their balance sheets and have dramatically cut back on lending in order to meet new capital requirements that are being imposed upon them.
All of this has created an environment where there is not much credit flowing in Europe at all. When there is a credit crunch of this magnitude, it causes the money supply to start to shrink. This is already happening all over Europe as a recent article in the Telegraph noted….
All key measures of the money supply in the eurozone contracted in October with drastic falls across parts of southern Europe, raising the risk of severe recession over coming months.
Right now, we are seeing the money supply in each of the “PIIGS” nations fall at a staggering rate. The following comes from the same Telegraph article referenced above….
Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors said “narrow” M1 money – which includes cash and overnight deposits, and signals short-term spending plans – shows an alarming split between North and South.
While real M1 deposits are still holding up in the German bloc, the rate of fall over the last six months (annualised) has been 20.7pc in Greece, 16.3pc in Portugal, 11.8pc in Ireland, and 8.1pc in Spain, and 6.7pc in Italy. The pace of decline in Italy has been accelerating, partly due to capital flight. “This rate of contraction is greater than in early 2008 and implies an even deeper recession, both for Italy and the whole periphery,” said Mr Ward.
Those numbers scream “Recession, Recession, Recession“.
There may be one glimmer of hope on the horizon. The Federal Reserve has been lending huge amounts of money to the European Central Bank and the European Central Bank has been lending that money out to European banks. In turn, the European banks have been using much of that money to buy up European government bonds. It is a massive Ponzi scheme, but it has stabilized bond yields in Europe for now. This scheme was described in a recent article by Simone Foxman….
That’s because the European Central Bank may have already introduced roundabout measures that will solve some of Europe’s big problems—it’s making investing in peripheral sovereign debt a huge profit opportunity for banks.
Theoretically, financial institutions will be able coin money by borrowing ultra-cheap from the ECB and buying higher yielding sovereign debt.
Essentially, it appears the ECB might allow European banks to pledge everything but the kitchen sink in return for funds. First, the new policy allows European banks to hold far fewer assets as collateral in exchange for funding from the ECB—freeing up liquidity to the tune of €103 billion ($134 billion). More importantly, relaxing collateral restrictions could also allow European banks to use even somewhat risky sovereign assets as collateral for bond purchases.
But this Ponzi scheme cannot go on indefinitely. A lot of European banks are already starting to run out of collateral for these loans as one Australian news source recently explained….
“If anyone thinks things are getting better, they simply don’t understand how severe the problems are,” a London executive at a global bank said. “A major bank could fail within weeks.”
Others said many continental banks, including French, Italian and Spanish lenders, were close to running out of the acceptable forms of collateral, such as US Treasury bonds, that could be used to finance short-term loans.
Some have been forced to lend out their gold reserves to maintain access to US dollar funding.
So will the European Central Bank keep lending them money once they are out of collateral?
If they do, the ECB itself could potentially be in a great deal of danger.
The truth is that the ECB is already playing with fire. So far, the European Central Bank has spent over 274 billion dollars buying up European government bonds in an attempt to keep bond yields down.
How many toxic assets can the ECB buy up before they get into real trouble?
That is a very interesting question.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world is becoming increasingly concerned about the financial panic that is sweeping Europe.
For example, Australian banks have been given one week to perform a stress test that evaluates their ability to survive in the event of a European financial collapse.
Why all the urgency?
Do they know something that we don’t?
Just like back in 2008, we are seeing massive problems at some of the largest banks in the world.
On Thursday, Fitch Ratings downgraded a whole bunch of the world’s most prominent banks….
The banks included Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, as well as Europe’s Barclays, Societe Generale and BNP Paribas.
Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Switerzland’s Credit Suisse were also downgraded.
The global banking system is a giant house of cards. There is simply way too much debt, way too much leverage and way too much risk.
On average, major banks across Europe are leveraged 26 to 1.
If the value of the assets held by those banks declines by just 4 percent, they will be wiped out.
Yes, that is how serious things are.
And already we are starting to see major banks fail in Europe.
This week it was revealed that Germany’s second largest bank is going to need a bailout. The following comes from a Sky News report….
Germany’s second largest bank, Commerzbank, is reportedly in discussions with the German government about a bailout after regulators said it needed to raise more money to cope with a potential default on its loans to governments.
“Intense talks” have been going on for several days, according to sources who spoke to the news agency Reuters.
So if Germany’s second largest bank is failing, are any banks in Europe safe?
Just like we saw back during the 1930s, we are starting to see a run on banks all over Europe.
In fact, according to a recent Der Spiegel article, a run on Greek banks has been going on for a while now and is rapidly accelerating….
He means that the outflow of funds from Greek bank accounts has been accelerating rapidly. At the start of 2010, savings and time deposits held by private households in Greece totalled €237.7 billion — by the end of 2011, they had fallen by €49 billion. Since then, the decline has been gaining momentum. Savings fell by a further €5.4 billion in September and by an estimated €8.5 billion in October — the biggest monthly outflow of funds since the start of the debt crisis in late 2009.
If you can believe it, approximately 20 percent of all bank deposits in Greece have been withdrawn since the start of 2011.
It is going to take a miracle to prevent a massive financial collapse from happening in Europe in 2012.
Unfortunately, there do not appear to be any miracles for Europe on the horizon.
Source: The American Dream
“In 1919, Georg Lukacs became Deputy Commissar for Culture in the short-lived Bolshevik Bela Kun regime in Hungary. He immediately set plans in motion to de-Christianize Hungary. Reasoning that if Christian sexual ethics could be undermined among children, then both the hated (traditional) family and the Church would be dealt a crippling blow, Lukacs launched a radical sex education program in the schools. Sex lectures were organized and literature handed out which graphically instructed youth in free love (promiscuity) and sexual intercourse while simultaneously encouraging them to deride and reject Christian moral ethics, monogamy, and parental and church authority. All of this was accompanied by a reign of cultural terror perpetrated against parents, priests, and dissenters.” “Hungary’s youth, having been fed a steady diet of values-neutral (atheism) and radical sex education while simultaneously encouraged to rebel against all authority, easily turned into delinquents ranging from bullies and petty thieves to sex predators, murderers, and sociopaths.” (Cultural Marxism, L. Kimball)
Today the words Marxist, communist, and fascist have devolved into essentially meaningless, emotionalized epitaphs brandished by people whose understanding of their true meaning is so lacking as to be on a par with “I hate you!” and “you miserable scum bag!”
So just what are Fascist Socialism, Marxist Communism and its contemporary version, Cultural Marxism?
At the deepest, most important level of all, these ideologies are really about the human condition after the Fall and the causes of evil and suffering as defined by fallen mankind.
From the moment that Adam and Eve were ushered out of paradise, men began complaining:
“Why must we die? Why must there be decay? Why must we work? Why does he have (fill in the blanks) but I do not? That’s unfair! Why can’t we say, do and have whatever we desire? If it feels good (libidinous impulses) then why shouldn’t we do it? Why must there be authority, rules, norms, absolutes, and consequences? Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t it be the way we want it to be?”
And finally: Who or what is the cause of our suffering?
From Nimrod to Karl Marx and contemporary rebels and apostates, the answer is the transcendent Authority of God the Father Almighty together with the fallen condition of man and the world:
“Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God.” He “changed the government into tyranny” in order to turn them away from God and make them dependent upon his own power. He also would be revenged upon God “if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach!” And he would ”avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers.” (Jewish historian Josephus cited in” Who was Nimrod?” Dr. David Livingston)
Karl Marx dreamt of ruining the world created by God the Father and proclaiming himself ‘god.’ In his poem “Human Pride,” he writes that after ruining the world:
“I will wander godlike and victorious /Through the ruins of the world/ And, giving my words an active force/ I will feel equal to the Creator.” ((Marx and Satan, Richard Wurmbrand, pp. 30-31)
Marx’s comrade in arms, Mikhail Bakunin, aligned himself with the Devil and declared:
“The Evil One is the satanic revolt against divine authority….Socialists recognize each other by the words, “In the name of the one to whom a great wrong has been done….Satan (is) the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds.” (Mikhail Bakunin, ibid, p. 27)
After confessing to his ‘cosmic authority’ problem, New York University professor Thomas Nagel admits:
“I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God (but) that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” (The Rage Against God, Peter Hitchens, p. 150)
It is when the terrible-willed and their followers–most generally pleasure-seeking hedonists– become possessive of the things of this world and resentful of the “way things are” that they rebel against God the Father and raise up new Towers of Babel—separate paradises— here on earth. With Nimrod it was Babylon. Marx’s Tower was the materialist Communist worker’s paradise while Hitler’s Babel was his socialist Third Reich. Today’s occult New Age heralds the coming of the final Tower—a planetary communist paradise, but it will be blatantly Luciferic rather than materialist.
In the preface to “The Silmarillion,” the all-important creation account that sets the stage for the subsequent Lord of the Rings trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien observes of the terrible-willed:
“…. (they) will rebel against the laws of the Creator—especially against mortality.” Possessiveness toward the things of this world alone or together with hatred of death and decay “will lead to the desire for Power, for making the will more quickly effective–and so to the Machine (magic).” (p. xiii)
Tolkien defines magic as the abuse of God-given talents and powers fueled by the:
“corrupted motive of dominating: bull-dozing the real world, or coercing other wills” by way of ideologies designed for the unmaking of the world as it is.
In other words, when pride, wrath, lust and envy inflate to monstrous proportions it is then that the terrible-willed declare the death of God, usurp His powers, declare themselves gods and invent reality-denying ideologies such as rationalism, materialism, liberalism, secularism, determinism, green environmentalism, socialism, and evolutionism to seduce and coerce other wills:
“Darwinism came at the desired time; Darwin’s theory that man is the descendant of a lower animal destroyed the entire foundation of Christian dogma. ” (Anton Pannekoek, Marxism And Darwinism, Translated by Nathan Weiser. Transcribed for the Internet by Jon Muller, Chicago, Charles H. Kerr & Company Co-operative Copyright, 1912 by Charles H. Kerr & Company)
And of course straight-forward questions are absolutely forbidden lest they expose the corpus of lies, hate, hypocrisy, deceit and delusion underlying and fueling the ‘Machine.’
On the subject of the Machine, Herbert Schlossberg perceptively observed:
“Exalting mankind to the status of deity…dates from the farthest reaches of antiquity, but its development into an ideology embracing the masses is a characteristic of modernity.” (Herbert Schlossberg, cited in The Seduction of Christianity, Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon)
Ex-Communist atheist Alexander Solzhenitsyn described the terrible-willed god-men as the masters of the world who, bearing no evil within themselves, have declared that all the evils of the world are caused not by man’s fallen human condition but by deterministic external or natural causes— unjust, unfair systems.
In his book, “Cry Havoc: The Great American Bring-Down and How it Happened,” Ralph de Toledano identifies the unfair, unjust systems:
“the morality that derives from the Old and New Testaments, the traditional family, the respect for the past as a guide to the future, the restraint of man’s baser instincts, and a socio-political organization which guaranteed freedom without license. Of these obstacles, the two greatest were God and the family.” (p. 26)
Former atheist Peter Hitchens notes that throughout the West the Left’s hostility to Christian theism is specific because orthodox Christianity:
“….is the religion of their own homes and homeland, the form in which they have encountered—and generally disliked and resented—the power of God in their own lives…..the Left sympathizes with Islam because (it is) the enemy of their (own enemy, the Christian culture).” (Hitchens, p. 131)
Hostility to God and Christianity is not confined to just the Left but shared equally with GOP atheist insiders. Because of their hostility to God and Christianity they hold in utter contempt the middle-class, mainly Christian constituents they must rely upon to be re-elected.
Solzhenitsyn summarized the whole meaning of Fascism, Marxist Communism and Cultural Marxism when he described their three main causes as rebellion against God the Father quickly followed by apostasy and denial of man’s fallen condition, allowing the rebels and apostates to comfortably “forget” that evil cuts right through the hearts of all men, themselves included.
Peter Hitchens writes that atheists and antitheists who have the good fortune to live in a society governed by religious belief:
“….may feel free from absolute moral bonds, while those around them are not. This is a tremendous liberation for anyone who is even slightly selfish. And what clever person is not imaginatively and cunningly selfish?” (Peter Hitchens, p. 148)
Modern ideologies and the murderous utopian systems spawned by them are spiritual diseases of fallen men. The only cure is spiritual regeneration through submission to God the Father Almighty.
A German think-tank affiliated with the Social Democratic Party issued a new report last week that revealed “high levels of anti-Semitism in Germany, Poland and Hungary.”
Dr. Beate Küpper, a researcher from the University of Bielefeld who co-authored the study along with her colleagues Andreas Zick and Andreas Hoevermann, told The Jerusalem Post that the study showed a strong presence of “anti-Semitism that is linked with Israel and is hidden behind criticism of Israel, and is not neutral.”
Küpper termed the outbreak of Jew-hatred in Germany “remarkable” because, according to her, “there were widespread Holocaust remembrance and education events in Germany.”
It is possible that Küpper and others in the widely respected University have completely failed to notice a most obvious link here — It is more than likely that the mushrooming of Holocaust museums actually contributed to the resentment towards the Jewish state. Those who are inclined to interpret the Holocaust as a universal and a moral message against racism and oppression would obviously also identify the Jewish State as a primary enemy of humanity and humanism. I guess that Germans and others expect Jews to be at the forefront of the battle against racism. As it happens, the Jewish State sticks out as the total opposite; it is a leading abuser of human rights. It is a terrorist racist state that locks millions behind walls and barbed wires.
The study, entitled “Intolerance, Prejudice, Discrimination: A European Report” –questioned roughly 1,000 people in each of the selected EU countries. Asked to respond to the statement that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians,” 47.7 percent of the study’s participants in Germany expressed agreement – the highest number in Western Europe.
Given Poland’s lukewarm foreign policy toward Israel, the finding that 63.3% of the Poles questioned agree that Israel is seeking to obliterate Palestinians may be deeply alarming to some Zionist and Israeli Hasbara campaigners. It seems as if the Hasbara project has been a disaster — Israel has managed the buy more than a few politicians around the world – but the masses still see the Jewish state for what it is.
It seems as if the Holocaust indoctrination that is rallied and utilised by every Jewish and Zionist institution around the world has backfired, and on every possible front: more and more people around regard the Israelis as the Nazis of our time.
I must admit that I am uncomfortable with that comparison – I actually believe that Israel is far worse than Nazi Germany, at least from certain perspectives. Israelis, for instance, are fully aware of their government and army’s brutal measures against Palestinian civilian population – and yet, the vast majority of them support it all, and even affirm it democratically.
The researchers in Bielefeld were shocked to find out that the statement, “considering Israel’s policy, I can understand why people do not like Jews” met with general affirmation across Europe (35%-55%).
I would like to try to help the unimaginative ‘scholars’: I would argue that Israel presenting itself as the ‘Jewish State’ may have something to do with it — Zionism has successfully managed to redefine Jewish identity. While in the past, Jews where largely associated with a world religion, namely, Judaism, they are now associated with the Jewish State and Global Zionist politics. Considering the Jewish State’s atrocities then, it is only natural that Jewish political activity should reflect so badly on the image of world Jewry.
The research also asked Europeans whether “Jews try to take advantage of having been victims during the Nazi era” (as if we actually need a poll to know the answer to that one). Almost half the Germans responded in the affirmative. Poles who are subject to a constant flood of hostile Shoa tourism, totally approved the statement (72.2% affirmed). Furthermore, not only do Jews take advantage of their victimhood, there is also an extensive body of academic work that suggests that the Holocaust is the new Jewish religion : victimhood seems to be the current collective Jewish bond.
It seems as if Dr Küpper’s lameness knows no bounds — for instance she insists on making a link between the growing resentment towards Israeli barbarism – and the expanding intolerance towards marginalized minority groups: Poland and Hungary, she says, are “ also plagued by extraordinary levels of sexism and homophobia”.
Someone should remind Küpper that gays are yet to lock their alleged ‘foes’ in Bantustans, to surround them with walls and barbed wire, to impose a blockade on them with a gay Navy or drop bombs on them from aero planes decorated with gay symbols.
Gays and homosexuals do not use white phosphorus against people seeking refuge in UN shelters, and they do not raid peace activists’ flotillas in the middle of the sea.
In short, the resentment towards gays which Küpper detected in Poland and Hungary has nothing whatsoever to do with the clear antagonism towards Jewish politics –describing anti Israeli feeling and anti gay sentiment as originating from the same source, and explaining them as being rooted in a similar animus is both illogical and groundless.
It is embarrassing how lame academia has become.
I guess that the University of Bielefeld may have to raise its academic standards, and the sooner the better. I would like to suggest that it search for the right minds — those who can teach and discuss the true intellectual heritage of German thought.
Heidegger, Nietzsche, Hegel, and Schopenhauer could be a good start.
In a dramatic series of events since late 2010, a new and intensified phase of public protest has erupted across both wealthy and poor regions of the world. Right across Europe, harsh programs of financial austerity have led to escalating protests and mass public campaigns; in the Middle East and North Africa, a revolutionary wave of civil unrest is gripping the international media; and less reported are countless smaller anti-government demonstrations taking place across diverse continents. As commentators struggle to keep up with the rapid unfolding of these events, it is worthwhile to reflect on the basic connections between these varied struggles, and to pose a simple question: are we witnessing the birth of a truly international public voice calling for wealth redistribution and wholesale political reform?
The pan-European protests were sparked by government plans to cut public spending, slash welfare benefits and freeze pay in response to economic recession and the debt crisis. With European Union finance ministers agreeing rules that would punish countries that fail to bring their debts under control, a new austerity drive swept across the 16-nation eurozone as governments struggled to trim their huge budget deficits. Both the German and UK coalition governments approved their biggest austerity plans since World War II; Italy and Spain joined Europe’s austerity club with massive cuts to public services; France announced its controversial plans to cut spending and raise its retirement and pension ages; while the most debt-stricken countries in the EU – Portugal, Greece and the Irish Republic – committed to draconian austerity packages to please international investors, not to mention the ongoing budget cuts in various other EU countries such as Hungary, Latvia, Romania and the Netherlands.
What’s most striking about the public outcry that followed is not only the vast scale of civic protests, but the sense that a majority of European people believe that government austerity measures are unnecessary and deeply unjust. On 29th September 2010, the European Trades Union Confederation (ETUC) organised coordinated demonstrations in European cities, with hundreds of thousands of union members across the region amassing under the banner ‘No to Austerity’. Countless new campaign groups and social movements have also highlighted the distorted priorities of governments who cut public spending as opposed to targeting the excesses of big corporations, bankers and international investors. This included the voices ofleading economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Christopher Pissarides who argued that austerity measures go in exactly the wrong direction, and are more likely to result in lower economic growth, worsening unemployment and protracted recession. In the words of Attac, the French campaign group who stood by the anti-austerity protesters across Europe: “The radical austerity policies now demanded by the EU are a solution in the interest of the wealthy and the financial actors alone. EU governments intend to implement austerity policies everywhere. …Their policies can only deepen social inequalities and the present crisis, while making the economic situation in Greece and the rest of the EU even worse.”
Out of the scores of anti-cuts groups still springing up at a local and national level across Europe, one that has captured the public imagination more than most is UK Uncut. In late October 2010, a group of London-based young activists thought up an ingenious way of highlighting an alternative to the British governments harsh austerity measures. Rather than simply protesting against public spending cuts, they focused upon the tax-avoidance strategies of rich individuals and big corporations. In a series of direct action protests organised spontaneously through the internet, the informal group has mobilised local protests and temporarily closed down more than a hundred stores in towns and cities across the country. The message of an alternative to austerity measures was brilliantly straight-forward: if the government clamped down on corporate tax avoidance, it would greatly reduce the need for public spending cuts. As the fastest-growing protest movement in the UK, its focus is now shifting to the greed and reckless practices of high street banks. And it’s now emerged that similar protests are being organised in North America under the banner US Uncut, with more than 30 demonstrations planned for 26 February – the date of UK Uncut’s second “day of action” against the banks.
No to Austerity and Ideology
Common to all the protests in Europe is a recognition of the pro-market ideology that is driving government policies to the detriment of the public good. Since the world stock market crash of 2008, it is increasingly evident that a number of governments are using the economic crisis as an excuse to re-shape the economy in the interests of business. In the UK, for example, George Monbiot recently wrote an article in the Guardian showing how the Chancellor of the Exchequer plans to allow money that has passed through tax havens to remain untaxed when it reaches the UK, accompanied by a rapid reduction in the official rate of corporation tax – the lowest rate of any major Western economy. At the same time, the British government is slashing social benefits and public-sector jobs, cutting budgets for government departments, transferring the onus for creating new jobs onto the private sector, and incrementally privatising the National Health Service and state education (with an attempt to privatise thousands of hectares of England’s national forests being recently defeated in Parliament). There is no shortage of commentary in the UK pointing out that such policies are ideologically-driven, opportunistic while the country is on the brink of bankruptcy, and even wider in scope than Margaret Thatcher’s swingeing program to cut government presence in the economy during the 1980s.
Meanwhile, Greece’s 110 bn euro rescue package was agreed on the back of a huge austerity drive, civil service and pension cuts, the easing of restrictions on private-sector layoffs, and a large privatisation and structural adjustment programme that is geared more to saving European banks than protecting the livelihoods of the Greek public. The Irish Republic is suffering a comparable fate in return for a joint EU-IMF bailout package worth 85 bn euros. Alongside the harshest tax hikes and budget cuts in the nation’s history, the terms of the bailout stipulate that Ireland must get its budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2015 – promising further budget cuts year-on-year regardless of the effect on jobs, welfare rights or the living standards of the majority. Portugal, Spain and possibly Belgium are all lined up for similar treatment. The message is clear: it is not the nation’s people that must be bailed out but the financial plutocrats who hold the nation’s debt, even if this spells the destruction of the entire post-war European social welfare system.
As many analysts are now pointing out, these savage austerity packages being unleashed across Europe mirror the fate that many developing nations have faced for decades. Scores of indebted countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia have long endured the savage IMF structural adjustment programmes that Ireland, Greece and other EU countries are now suffering. A recent briefing by the Jubilee Debt Campaign (JDC) explains the similarities and differences between the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, and responses to the debt crisis in the Global South by international financial institutions since the late 1970s. Zambia, for example, made extreme cuts in government spending throughout the 1980s and 1990s under pressure from the IMF, yet the cuts failed to prevent the country’s debt from doubling while its economy plunged into recession.
A similar logic was applied to Asian countries following the financial crisis in 1998; foreign private lenders were bailed out, government spending was severely cut back, public companies were further privatised, yet the economy still continued to decline. According to JDC, a common theme is that the public face the costs, not private lenders. And not only is private debt paid for by the public, but the cut-backs in public spending by no means guarantees a reduction in national debt. In effect, ordinary people are forced to pay for the reckless behaviour and mistakes of the financial sector – a reality that is now shared and understood by citizens in both the Global North and South.
Growing gap between rich and poor
A major difference for people in the South is that there is often no guaranteed state provisions or social safety nets that exist for them in the first place. Even in those developing countries still experiencing economic prosperity, most notably in the globalisation “success stories” of India and China, rapid GDP growth is being matched by deepening inequalities and social insecurity. As we know from the World Bank’s global poverty statistics, at least 80 percent of the 1.1 billion people who live in India somehow manage to survive on less than $2 a day. In China, still 36 percent of its population survives on less than $2 a day, while the rural-urban income gap has continued to widen alongside increases in inequality of health and education outcomes. As what some call “the greatest migration in world history” continues across China, rural migrant workers arriving in industrial areas often find themselves trapped in abysmal working and living conditions, many without basic health and safety protections.
This definite growth in inequality and the lack of economic opportunity and social security that underpins it has long been a recurring theme across the world. A recent UNCTAD reportrevealed that there are now twice as many low-income countries than there were 30-40 years ago, and twice as many poor people living in them. Even more indicative of this worrying trend in global inequality is the evidence that a new ‘bottom billion‘ of the world’s poor live in middle-income countries – a dramatic change from just two decades ago when the majority of the poor lived in low-income nations. A growing gulf between the rich and poor is also continuing in many high-income countries, not least in the United States where the top 20 percent of wealthy individuals own about 85 percent of the wealth, while the bottom 40 percent own very near 0 percent. As the Economist magazine is keen to point out in a special report, there is an ongoing rise in the share of income going to the very top – the highest 1 percent of earners – who constitute a global power elite or ‘superclass’ in many countries. At the other end of the scale, evidence suggests that the number of people living in relative poverty could possibly be 4 billion and rising.
This is the context in which we can better understand the sudden eruption of civil unrest across North Africa and the Middle East. Whilst much of the mainstream media focussed on the repression of public freedoms, corruption and a lack of democracy as the main cause of popular insurrection, common underlying factors also include the growing levels of inequality, ongoing hikes in the price of basic food and energy, and poor access to housing and welfare services. Whilst Mubarak left office in Egypt with a reported $70 bn dollars of stolen public money, citizens remain saddled with $30 bn of debts despite a poverty rate of 1 in 4 and a recurring food crisis. Tunisia, a regional poster child for the success of pro-market reforms, is in a similar predicament with crippling graduate unemployment rates of up to 46 percent, despite strong GDP growth. This underlying pattern of protest against social and economic deprivation alongside political repression is being repeated across Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Syria, Iran, Morocco, Oman, and a number of other countries in the region. All have been spearheaded by the countries’ youth, fuelled by social media and television, yet broadly supported by the middle class. In an unprecedented outpouring of goodwill and solidarity, these millions of people on the streets are claiming their democratic right to a fairer share of the vast wealth that their rulers have hoarded for decades.
The pan-Arab protests clearly have much in common with those reacting to austerity across Europe, as well as the millions who have mobilised in support of debt cancellation and an end to ‘economic adjustment’ in the South. In every country, the widespread outcomes of debt, austerity, poverty and inequality are the product of political choices – the consequences of a disastrous neoliberal approach to managing a nation and its finances. What we may be witnessing in the popular responses to these hardships is an emerging global consensus in favour of a fundamental reordering of government priorities. In the space of barely a few months, the rapid growth of anti-austerity demonstrations across Europe and massive anti-government protests all over the Middle East indicate the potential for public opinion to take on an international dimension. Given the determination of policymakers across the globe to continue with business as usual, the strengthening of a world public opinion in favour of a more equitable distribution of resources may constitute the first step toward meaningful reforms.
As this increasingly global call for justice unfolds across several continents, an underlying demand being voiced by protesters in different countries is the urgent need for redistribution. Calls for an end to austerity measures, more progressive taxation and the cancellation of debt in the developing world all reflect the need to redistribute wealth and political power downward. An implicit understanding common to all these demands is that governments are better able to secure basic human needs for their citizens through the provision of more effective welfare and social services. The question that remains is whether the need for redistribution can be recognised at the international level where the unequal distribution of power and resources manifests in extreme differences in living standards between the richest and poorest nations. If the case for international sharing captures the public imagination as quickly as the calls for distributive justice in individual countries, the elimination of global poverty could finally become a realistic possibility.
Robert E. Holloway is a high school teacher in suburban Northern Virginia. He is probably considered a decent man by his neighbors, a competent educator by his peers, and a figure of some authority by his students. He is the embodiment of much that is wrong with this country’s education system, however: a bigot, a genocide denier, and a disseminator of falsehoods. He does not even realize what he is—not because he is mad but because he is an ignoramus. Having teachers like Holloway in American classrooms is worse than a crime, it is a mistake.
EPIC IGNORANCE—In the second week of February Mr. Holloway gave his students an assignment on Aristotle’s “Three Points,” and instructed them in some detail on how to proceed:
The recent breakup of Yugoslavia into separate countries provides many examples of the power of this kind of rhetoric. Yugoslavia was created after the second world war [sic!] out of several smaller states, including Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzgovenia, and Slovenia. Within each state there were ethnic and religious minorities with long histories of conflict. While Yugoslavia was under the control of the Soviet Union, these conflicts were kept in check by military force. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, new political structures were necessary, and political opportunities arose for the ambitious. The leaders of various factions, understanding Aristotle’s tlree [sic!] points very well, began to mobilize their followers to war by reminding them of their historical grievances against other groups. Serbian leaders published photographs of atrocities alledgedly committed by Croatians during WWII, reviving a conflict from 50 years earlier. Individuals were inspired through this angry rhetoric to attack, rape, and kill neighbors that had lived near them all their lives, simply because of their ethnicity or religion.
Mr. Holloway’s ignorance is astounding. While causing Aristotle to turn in his grave, it prompts both laughter and tears among the living:
- Even a superficially informed Middle American is dimly aware that Yugoslavia was the product of the First World War and that Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina had not been independent states but Austro-Hungarian provinces before its creation.
- Even a casual listener of Morning Edition knows that Yugoslavia’s dictator Josip Broz Tito broke away from Stalin in 1948 and that Yugoslavia remained outside the Soviet orbit (let alone Moscow’s “military force”) until its demise in the 1990’s.
- Even an occasional reader of a quality broadsheet may recall that the collapse of Yugoslavia was simultaneous with that of the Soviet Union, and not contingent upon it.
Mr. Holloway’s teaching is the equivalent of a Belgrade high school teacher, say, telling his Serbian charges that the United States of America came into being by the merger of the Union and the Confederacy in the aftermath of the Mexican War of 1861-1865, but remained under the British yoke until President Coolidge’s New Deal in the 1940’s.
GENOCIDE DENIAL—The morally outrageous part concerns Mr. Holloway’s dismissive reference to the Ustaša-instigated holocaust in Croatia, a gruesome yet relatively little known chapter of the Second World War which killed, by conservative estimates, half a million men, women and children… “simply because of their ethnicity or religion,” to paraphrase his rhetoric. Try to imagine Mr. Holloway instructing his students as follows: “Jewish leaders published photographs of atrocities allegedly committed by Germans during WWII, reviving a conflict from 50 years earlier” and thus instigating the Jews to commit mass murder, rape, and ethnic cleansing of innocents. Mr. Holloway would be clearing his desk and contemplating a new career in fast food catering by now, and justifiably so.
As I noted in my keynote presentation at Yad Vashem Center’s June 2006 symposium on the Holocaust in Yugoslavia, presided by Professor Yehuda Bauer, the most widely respected living authority on the grim issues of the period,
The number of victims at the Croatian death camp at Jasenovac—the only Quisling extermination outfit entrusted to the locals—is still uncertain. The lowest estimate with any pretense to seriousness—tens of thousands of victims—was made by the late Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, famous for saying “Thank God, my wife is neither a Serb nor a Jew.” Tudjman’s “estimate” on Jasenovac fits in with his other assessments:
“In his book Wastelands: Historical Truths, published in 1988, Mr. Tudjman wrote that the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust was 900,000—not six million. He has also asserted that not more than 70,000 Serbs died at the hands of the Ustashe—most historians say around 400,000 were killed.” (The New York Times, August 20, 1995)
Other sources provide estimates tens of times greater than Dr. Tudjman’s: “Jasenovac”—entry by Menachem Shelach in Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, 1990, pp. 739-740—says, “Some six hundred thousand people were murdered at Jasenovac, mostly Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and opponents of the Ustasa regime.” The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Teamestimated “that close to 600,000 … mostly Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, were murdered at Jasenovac.”
So much for the Jewish sources. Let us look at what the contemporary German allies of the Croatian Ustaša regime had to say on the subject. Hermann Neubacher, Hitler’s foremost political expert for the Balkans, in his book Sonderaufrag Südost 1940-1945. Bericht eines fliegenden Diplomaten (Goettingen, 1957, p. 18) wrote: “The prescription for the Orthodox Serbs issued by the leader and Führer of Croatia, Ante Pavelic, was reminiscent of the religious wars of the bloodiest memory: One third must be converted to Catholicism, another third must be expelled, and the final third must die. The last part of the program has been carried out.” [I.e., one-third of cca. 1.9 million were killed.]
In a report to Himmler, SS General Ernst Frick estimated that “600 to 700,000 victims were butchered in the Balkan fashion.” General Lothar Rendulic, commanding German forces in the western Balkans in 1943-1944, estimated the number of Ustaša victims to be 500,000. In his memoirs Gekaempft, gesiegt, geschlagen (Welsermühl Verlag, Wels und Heidelberg, 1952, p.161) he recalled a memorable exchange on this issue with a Croat dignitary:
When I objected to a high official who was close to Pavelic that, in spite of the accumulated hatred, I failed to comprehend the murder of half a million Orthodox, the answer I received was characteristic of the mentality that prevailed there: Half a million, that’s too much—there weren’t more than 200,000!
Julia Gorin reminded us in The Jerusalem Post (Feb. 22, 2010) of some facts of life, and death, in the Croatian state established and controlled by the Axis powers:
Germany entrusted Croatia with running its own concentration camps, without oversight… Archive photos of sadism that would make horror filmmakers blush survive today: Ustashas displaying an Orthodox priest’s head; an eyeless peasant woman; Serbs and Jews being pushed off a cliff; a Serb with a saw to his neck; and a smiling Ustasha holding the still-beating heart of prominent industrialist Milos Teslitch, who had been castrated, disemboweled and his ears and lips cut off. Italian writer Curzio Malaparte in his 1944 book Kaputt offers this detail: “While [Croatian Fuehrer Pavelic] spoke, I gazed at a wicker basket on his desk which seemed to be filled with mussels, or shelled oysters… ‘Are they Dalmatian oysters?’ I asked. [Pavelic] said smiling, ‘It is a present from my loyal Ustashas… Forty pounds of human eyes’.”
BETTER RED THAN BRAIN DEAD—The Holloway farce brings to mind my own high school education, in Tito’s Yugoslavia, four decades ago. Its diploma—obtained after a grueling final exam known as the Matura (equivalent to Germany’s Abitur, or France’s Baccalaureat)—was the graduate’s entry to university or the civil service. By the time I attended the Tenth Gymnasium, a quarter of a century of Communist neglect was in evidence everywhere. It was nevertheless a very good school. It had a solid contingent of old teachers (then still titled “professors”) inherited from the old times, who firmly believed that their role was to teach, not to interact and connect. They used the polite “vous” form when addressing people half a century their juniors, but had no qualms about telling a wanting student that he was unfit to be in class, or his parents that he was too stupid for the Gymnasium and should transfer to a vocational school instead. The grading system was unabashedly meritocratic, from 1 for “F” to 5 for “A”, and designed with no allowances for social rank or parents’ clout (race, gender, and sexuality were not an issue in those days).
In contrast to the United States, we had a clearly articulated relationship between what is taught and what is tested. The workload was heavy, and necessitated several hours of serious study every day. At the end of it all the Maturantwas a jack of all trades and a master of none, just as he was meant to be. He had a solid grounding in most areas once considered necessary for an educated, civilized person, and the assumption was that eventual excellence would be attained in his chosen field of university study.
In practical terms this meant that we all had some idea of what Leonidas did at Thermopylae and what Caesar said at the Rubicon; what was the Protagoras and who was Pythagoras; who was Attila and who was Totila; what was natural law and what was the second law of thermodynamics. Attendance at the symphony orchestra, ballet and opera matinees, every first Sunday of the month, was not obligatory but it was necessary for a good grade in music; and what started as a chore soon became a habit for at least some. Latin was on the whole easy, and making puns—I prided myself on rephrasing Descartes’ Cogito ergo sum by removing the g from “cogito”—was deemed only slightly pretentious.
Some areas of our curriculum were burdened by the veneer of the Titoist brand of Marxism—notably sociology, 20th century history, and modern philosophy—but the stamp was not deeply felt in most subjects. For the most part we had a curriculum essentially similar to the Gymnasiums of Austria-Hungary that provided the model for the Kingdom of Serbia in the 1880s and remained in force ever since. Under this system an ever-present principle, mostly implied and only rarely explicitly spelled out, was that moral and aesthetic norms are not a matter of personal choice. There were “standards” and we were supposed to conform to them, and to accept the lasting norms that antedated and transcended the rules of the current regime. In addition there was the home, and friends, where one could be free.
I have often wondered if the Communists allowed old-style schools to survive by design or by default, and on balance I give more weight to the former. For many middle-ranking apparatchiks having good schools was a personal need: they wanted their own children to be “properly educated,” and, secretly knowing the limits of their abilities, they were loath to experiment with the school system the way they had experimented—with catastrophic effect—with the economy and society. They wanted their children to assume the positions of leadership that they had come to regard as rightfully theirs, and—being largely half-educated peasants—they had enough common sense to find the answer. They intuited that the only way to forge a New Class from their offspring was to combine the usurped privilege of power with the inherited privilege of good education that develops the mind and enhances character.
My high school days came at the tail end of a period of uneasy coexistence between Us and Them, the society and the “comrades.” The schools produced young people capable of thinking for themselves, able to read between the lines of the official media, and at the same time to be unintimidated by “the West” to which they were increasingly exposed. When I took my Matura we had our dreams and we were smarting for action; four decades later we are mostly dispersed over three continents, which is a generational defeat, but we did well conventionally and financially, which is a credit to our long-dead teachers.
Even before the first shots were fired came the destructive reforms of Yugoslav education of the late 1970s and early 1980s, which were inspired more by the fashionable Western notions of egalitarianism and visceral hatred of excellence than by the old Marxist orthodoxy. The reformers of the past two decades have declared that theGymnasium was an elitist institution incapable of responding to the demands for greater equality of educational opportunity and the growing need for vocationally qualified personnel. It was to become a mass institution, and effectively abolished in the process.
By now Serbia is reintegrated into the “international community” and ready to welcome the creative input Robert E. Holloway. Going east may be an astute career move for a man of his creative sweep and talent.