Thanatos hangs over America, a death-wish based on the inner rotting of conscience predicated on the constant need for supremacy in the world as a test, indeed validation, of the nation’s moral virtue, to be achieved through military power—a greatness no longer assumed and, because of inner decay setting in, cause for fatalistic entropic reaction. Circa 1950: Better dead than red. Circa 2014: Better dead than descend from the pinnacle of global hegemony—and why not bring everyone else with us? Paul Craig Roberts’s article in CounterPunch, Are You Ready For Nuclear War?, (June 3), may perhaps seem unduly alarmist to the uninitiated, but even without Obama-Team national security advisers thoroughly capable of and attuned to such planning, there are indications inhering in Obama’s studied moves aimed toward direct confrontation with Russia and China that carry intentionally the eventuality of a nuclear showdown.
Both on the Pacific Rim and European trips, closely integrated in time and purpose, Obama sounds like—and is scripted to be—the Avenger against a doubting world, not sufficiently appreciative of America the Land of Freedom (subtext throughout, of course, capitalism the sole legitimate world system replicating America’s own political-economic structure and ideological values). Comparing his statements wherever he appeared on those journeys of confidence-building, all to the end of confrontation with China and Russia, respectively, yet tacitly as though enemies-joined-at-the-hip, he sounded like nothing so much as a broken 78 rpm recording, stand shoulder to shoulder, stand shoulder to shoulder, stand shoulder… ad infinitum. Poland, South Korea, Latvia and Lithuania, Philippines—the more the merrier, coupled with checks (the monetary kind) for military hardware, promises of American protection, assurances, backed by military bases, training programs, joint exercises, membership in the extant alliance system (an attack on one is an attack on all), the foregoing packaged with the ascription of Russia and China as expansion-minded and out to do harm to its neighbors (i.e., our “friends and allies”). Chuck Hagel, interviewed on BBC, invoked Article 5 of the NATO treaty, the one for all, all for one provision, stating that “Russia was a threat” to Europe (June 5). Nothing could be clearer.
And then we have Obama in Brussels, same day, demanding of Putin, in a time frame “over the next two, three, four weeks,” complete disengagement—in Peter Baker’s words, from his New York Times article, “With Group of 7 Backing, Obama Gives Russia One-Month Ukraine Deadline, “ (June 5)—from Ukraine, that is, “to reverse its intervention…and help quash a pro-Russian separatist uprising or else…it would face international sanctions far more severe than anything it had endured so far.” Beyond a time frame, actually an ultimatum, Obama stated that “if Russia’s provocations continue, it’s clear from our discussions here that the G-7 nations are ready to impose additional costs on Russia.” No compliance after the time period (“and if he remains on the current course”), watch out Putin, for “we’ve already indicated what kinds of actions that we’re prepared to take.”
G-7 on banners, rostrums, a deliberate flaunting of exclusion, along with D-Day Observance plans to prevent an Obama-Putin head-to-head, calculated further to enhance antagonism, this choreographed trip is a prelude to bolder demands directed to the EU itself to speak with one voice, that of America’s, in viewing Russia as an enemy bent on invasion of the West. Rather than hysteria, the mood favors an incremental rise in tensions, at each step, the concretization of war readiness, naval forces in the Black Sea, a larger US troop presence in Poland, the steady movement eastward to the Russian border of NATO troops, anti-ballistic missile installations ringing Russia, a hostile environment, to say the least, for a peaceful accommodation, one the US and the EU, by their actions, appears not to want.
I am tempted to explain these developments as the psychopathology of capitalism as a system, thanatos the upshot of the desensitization of human feeling when the commodity structure defines the individual as alienated from social relations of equality and justice, in favor of a pervasive solipsism, driven by fear, introjecting the values of ruling groups as compensation for empty lives, turning on one another to rise in the social hierarchy, in the last analysis, killing without compunction, as in Obama’s signature, drone assassination vaporizing a fellow human being so that no reminder of his/her existence remains. But such an explanation is too simple by half; policy trumps psychology, or rather invites a particular mental-set in order to reach fruition. Thanatos is consequence, not cause. Policy is about market penetration, market fundamentalism, market hegemony, to which must be appended the full-scale militarization of political economy, value system, how order is maintained and reinforced.
Mass surveillance in America is less if at all about counterterrorism than about the artificial props which are necessary to keep society from disintegrating in the face of animalistic greed (apologies to animals for the reference), ethnocentric and racial assumptions, the uneven structure of wealth, an underlying repression insinuated into the fabric of status, power, and wealth for purposes of the stabilization of privilege and recognition. America enjoyed world prestige for so long that a decline of any sort is catastrophic. My way or the highway works only so long; as this realization sinks in, America becomes more dangerous. These provocative moves to mount a massive counterrevolution are failing, whether Putin or Xi or both, the counterweight is fast forming its leadership coming from the people themselves with Russia and China the historical vanguard for creating a world system where no single power is able to dominate and unilaterally shape the destinies of humankind.
My New York Times Comment on the Baker article, same date, follows:
I am delighted by Obama’s rhetoric emanating out of Warsaw and Brussels. It confirms my sense of him as global WARMONGER No. 1. His threats, boasts, needling are an accurate reflection of his and the US’s character. We hear rumors now of a veritable cottage industry in Washington of policy wonks working out nuclear first-strike paradigms against Russia and China. Fitting, because the impulse for destruction is present. Obama is far more dangerous with or without preemptive war than any POTUS perhaps ever.
Does saying that make me a red-pinko-commie? No. Until America puts its own house in order, which may well be never again, criticism is justified without necessarily praising those declared to be adversaries and worse.
How square peace with massive domestic surveillance? with the largest military budget in the world? with the use of counterterrorism to violate civil liberties at home, mount unjustified aggression abroad?
Times readers may scream (one yesterday said of my post on Warsaw, Go back to Russia–I’ll donate to your travel)! That’s perfect, the ratcheting up of Reaction, frighteningly similar to McCarthyism–even more pervasive–that I remember in my youth.
As for a Putin-Poroshenko meeting, it will come about soon. As for Obama’s threat of sectoral sanctions, this will backfire, as Germany and France will not go along. It is fitting Obama has Cameron as his new pal–two peas in a pod. Others however will resent the crass bullying. We deserve Obama.
Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President Barack Obama’s commencement address at West Point on May 28 managed to displease pretty much everyone in the nation’s commentariat. Before making an overall assessment of its significance, it is necessary to examine the validity and implications of Obama’s individual statements.
“[B]y most measures America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise – who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away – are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.”
This key assertion, made at the beginning of the President’s address, does not stand to empirical scrutiny. In economic terms, America was far stronger vis-à-vis the rest of the world in 1945 than she is today. In more recent times, U.S. share of world GDP peaked in 1985 with just under 33 percent of global GDP (nominal). Between 2004 and 2014, United States’ share of global gross domestic product (GDP) adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) has fallen from 22.5 percent to 18.5 percent, and it is expected to continue falling. By the end of this year China will overtake the United States in gross domestic product, which had originally been projected to happen by the end of this decade. Analysts concede will gradually shift the ability to confer advantages or disadvantages on other countries – in other words, power – in China’s favor.
In military terms, while America enjoyed the nuclear monopoly in 1945-49, her period of undisputed unipolar dominance was between 1991 (the collapse of the USSR) and 2008 (Russia’s counterattack in South Ossetia). Although the Pentagon budget will drop from $600 billion this year to $500 billion in 2015, it will continue to account for over a third of the global total. The unsatisfactory outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan and dented America’s image of military invincibility. As the Economist commented on May 3, “The yawning gap between Uncle Sam and his potential foes seems bound to shrink.” The prevailing view among most critical analysts is that over the past decade the U.S. has suffered military reverses, and now faces severe global competition.
As for the “global leadership,” it is unclear what exactly Obama had in mind. Russia and China are creating a powerful Eurasian counterweight to what they rightly perceive as Washington’s continuing bid for the global hegemony. India’s new prime minister is a potential partner at best, and certainly loath to acknowledge America’s “leadership.” In the Islamic world, Obama’s attempts at appeasement – which started with the Cairo speech in 2009 – have not worked: The U.S. is now even more unpopular in the Muslim world than it was under George W. Bush. America is heartily disliked even in Turkey and Jordan, presumably our allies, not least because of the continuing drone strikes. American influence in Latin America is weaker now than at any time since Theodore Roosevelt, as manifested in the unanimous rejection of Washington’s efforts to effect a regime change in Venezuela. Members of the American elite class are hard pressed to name a single country with which the U.S. has better relations today than five years ago. The NSA global spying network has infuriated even some otherwise reliable American friends in Western Europe. Most “Old Europeans” are remarkably resistant to U.S. pressure to agree to serious sanctions against Russia.
On balance it appears that Barack Obama is the one misreading history and engaging in partisan politics.
“Meanwhile, our economy remains the most dynamic on Earth, our businesses the most innovative.”
In reality, by most value-neutral parameters the American economy is chronically weak and insolvent:
- Far from growing, the economy contracted in the first three months of this year at the annualized rate of one per cent, and it is unclear where future growth would come from. Gross domestic income is also falling sharply, for the first time in years.
- There are fewer workers, they are less efficient than a decade ago, and new employment is mostly in low-paying part-time jobs. Labor force participation (the percentage of Americans at work) is low, at levels not seen since the stagnant economy of the 1970s. One-fifth of 80 million American families do not have a single employed member.
- Government dependence has reached epidemic levels: the number of Americans getting money or benefits from the federal government exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million. Welfare spending and entitlement payments account for 69 percent of the federal budget.
- One-third of all American households are living hand-to-mouth, one paycheck from poverty. The median annual income is 7.5 percent lower than in January 2008.
- The inflation-adjusted S&P500 is back to where it was in 2007. The single biggest buyer of stocks are the companies of the S&P500 itself. At $4 trillion, stock buybacks account for one-fifth of the total stock market value. The biggest buyback in market history added zero productive value to the companies concerned.
- The mountain of debt is nearing $17.5 trillion. The drivers of growing deficits and debt in the future are unfunded entitlement programs that are designed to transfer resources from working people to retirees. When the government pension and health care commitments which are missing from official budget figures are accounted for, the total national debt is nearly $95 trillion, more than seven times the published figure.
- The dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency is almost over. Russia and China have joined forces in “de-dollarization” of their mutual transactions and are looking for a more productive and safe use for their monetary reserves. Their recent gas deal is the beginning of the end for the petrodollar. Eventually Washington will have to choose between an outright default and hyperinflation, and the rest of the world is waking up to that fact.
Some “dynamism,” some “innovation”…
“America continues to attract striving immigrants.”
Obama’s statement is correct. It does not illustrate America’s alleged strength as was his intent, however; it underscores this country’s major weakness. Illegal immigration is spiraling out of control, the Border Patrol is overwhelmed. If the influx continues at current high levels, the U.S. population will increase to almost half a billion in 2060 – more than a 50 percent increase. New immigrants – mostly from the Third World, unskilled, uneducated, and a net drain on American resources – and their descendants will account for over one hundred million of that increase. On current form, English-speaking Americans of European origin will become a minority in their own country four decades from now. They will inhabit an increasingly overpopulated, polluted, lumpenproleterized, permanently impoverished country. America unfortunately does continue “to attract striving immigrants,” mostly illegal ones and of poor quality. This is far greater threat to the survival of the United States in a historically or culturally recognizable form than terrorism or any conceivable alliance of foreign powers. Barack Obama does not understand this, or does not care, or – just as likely – cherishes the prospect.
“The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe.”
By “public squares” Obama was probably alluding to Kiev’s Maidan. Indeed, it has propelled some “new movements” to global prominence, such as the Svoboda party and the Right Sector. The Founding Fathers would be horrified to learn that, in the opinion of the President of the United States, their values have inspired Messrs. Tyahnybok, Yarosh, and other blood-soaked heirs to Stepan Bandera. This is on par with Senator Joseph Lieberman saying, “The United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same values and principles. Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.”
“And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help.”
Obama is mixing apples (natural disasters) and pears (man-made ones). The problem of Islamic terrorism in Nigeria was exacerbated by the refusal of the Department of State under Hillary Clinton to place Boko Haram (“Secular Education is Sinful”) on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen Senators and Congressmen. The de facto protection thus given to Boko Haram has enabled it to morph into a state-within-the-state with an estimated 300,000 followers.
It would be ironic if “the world” were to look to America for help in Ukraine (which in any event it does not), since the course of crisis there has been, overwhelmingly, of Washington’s own making, as manifested in Victoria Nuland’s famous phone call to Ambassador Pyatt. The new Drang nach Ostenmakes sense from the point of view of the liberal globalist-neoconservative duopoly: there is no better way to ensure U.S. dominance along the European rimland in perpetuity than drawing Europe back into NATO (i.e. U.S.) security orbit in general and subverting the Russo-German rapprochement in particular. The “masked men” in buildings are a direct consequence of American meddling.
“So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century past, and it will be true for the century to come.”
It has never been true, it is not true now, and it never will be true. Madeleine Albright’s famous dictum was an arrogant statement by an immigrant ignorant of American history and a sign of her well-attested instability. It was reiterated in Bill Clinton’s 1996 speech, where he explained why he intervened, disastrously, in Bosnia: “The fact is America remains the indispensable nation. There are times when America, and only America, can make a difference between war and peace, between freedom and repression, between hope and fear.” That Obama has chosen to recycle such rubbish is a sign of intellectual and moral bankruptcy. “Indispensable” to whom, exactly? It is unimaginable for the leader of any other country in the world – Vladimir Putin, say, or Xi Jinping – to advance such a claim. It is tasteless at best and psychotically grandomaniac at worst, a latter day “Manifest Destiny” on steroids. The problem is that such hubristic delusions easily translate into non-negotiable foreign policy objectives. Resisting the will of the “indispensable nation” is ipso facto evil: Susan Rice’s condemnation of Chinese and Russian vetoes of the U.S.-supported UN Security Council resolution on Syria as “disgusting,” “shameful” and “unforgivable” comes to mind.
“Russia’s aggression towards former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors.”
Quite apart from the genesis of the crisis in Ukraine, to which “Russia’s aggression” hardly applies, Obama’s use of the term “former Soviet states,” plural, implies that in his opinion Ukraine is not the only “victim of Russia’s aggression.” Presumably he means Georgia, the only “former Soviet state” with which Russia has had a conflict since the collapse of the Soviet Union. If so, and there is no other explanation for his turn of his phrase, Obama has a dangerously flawed understanding of the August 2008 Georgian crisis.
Georgian then-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s order to attack South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinvali, was a breathtakingly audacious challenge to Russia, to which she was bound to react forcefully. That response was promptly exploited, for the first time since Gorbachev, by the American mainstream media machine and the foreign-policy community in Washington to paint Russia as a rogue power that is not only dangerous but intrinsically malignant. The vehemence of that rhetoric exceeded anything ever said or written about jihad, before or after September 11. To be fair, Saakashvili was led to believe that he was tacitly authorized to act as he did. President George W. Bush had treated Georgia as a “strategic partner” ever since the Western-engineered “Rose Revolution” five years earlier, and in early 2008 he strongly advocated NATO membership for Georgia. Washington had repeatedly supported Georgia’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” which implied the right to use force to bring South Ossetia and Abkhazia to heel, just as it is supporting “resolute action” in Donetsk and Lugansk today. Saakashvili may be forgiven for imagining that the United States would have bailed him out if things went badly. It is noteworthy that he was not disabused of such notions. The calculus in Washington appears to have been based on a win-win scenario, not dissimilar to the current Ukrainian strategy. Had Georgian troops occupied South Ossetia in a blitzkrieg operation modeled after Croatia’s “Operation Storm,” while the Russians remained hesitant or ineffective, Moscow would have suffered a major strategic and (more importantly) psychological defeat after almost four years of sustained strategic recovery. If Russia intervened, however, she would be duly demonized and the U.S. would push for NATO consolidation with new vigor. “Old” Europeans – the Germans especially – would be pressed to abandon their détente with Moscow. A resentful Georgia would become chronically anti-Russian, thus ensuring a long-term American presence in the region.
In the event, like the Ukrainian army today, the Georgian army performed so poorly that a military fait accompli was out of its reach. Excesses against Ossetian civilians – just like the shelling of schools in Slavyansk today – made the “victim of aggression” narrative hard to sell, Obama’s “aggression” rhetoric notwithstanding.
“The question we face… is not whether America will lead but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe.”
It is unclear how, if at all, America will secure her own “peace and prosperity” in the years and decades to come, let alone how she can extend it “around the globe.” If this is a statement of Obama’s grand strategy, it is flawed in principle and unfeasible in detail. In this statement there is not a hint of an overall blueprint for action that matches our country’s resources to her vital interests. A sound grand strategy enables a state to deploy its political, military, economic, and moral resources in a balanced and proportionate manner, in order to protect and enhance its security and promote its well-being, never mind “the globe.” In Obama’s universe, however, there are no brains behind “indispensable,” heavy-handed diplomacy and military power. Obama creates a false dilemma (“the question we face”) unsupported by facts. China, India, Russia, the Muslim world and Latin America do not want to be “led,” quite the contrary. Old Europe is reluctant at best. Subsaharan Africa is an irrelevant mess. The question we face is not global leadership, but national survival.
“Regional aggression that goes unchecked, whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea or anywhere else in the world, will ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military. We can’t ignore what happens beyond our boundaries.”
This simultaneous dig at Russia and China reflects a hubristic world view that is unmatched by conflict-management resources. A sane American relationship with Moscow demands acceptance that Russia has legitimate interests in her “near-abroad.” Obama’ four-nation tour of East Asia last Aprilescalated existing U.S. military commitments to the region, created some new ones, deeply irritated China, and emboldened American allies and clients to play hardball with Beijing. Obama does not understand that it is extremely dangerous for a great power to alienate two of its nearest rivals simultaneously. The crisis in Ukraine is going on, but the situation in Asia is potentially more volatile. Dealing with both theaters from the position of presumed strength and trying to dictate the outcomes is perilous, as many would-be hegemons (Philip II, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler), blinded by arrogance, have learned to their peril. Obama has continued the hegemonist habit of instigating crises at different spots around the world, even though the resources are scarce and the strategy is fundamentally faulty. An overtly anti-U.S. alliance between Russia and China is now in the making. U.S. overreach led to the emergence of a de facto alliance in the Eurasian Heartland, embodied in the gas deal signed in Shanghai. Russia and China are not natural allies and they may have divergent long-term interests, especially in Central Asia, but they are on the same page when it comes to resisting U.S. hegemony, pardon, “leadership.” In the early 1970’s Dr. Henry Kissinger wisely understood the benefits of an opening to Beijing as a means of pressuring Moscow on the Cold War’s central front. Back then the USSR was far more powerful than the People’s Republic. Today, by contrast, China is much more economically and demographically powerful than Russia, and for the United States the optimal strategy would dictate being on good terms with the weaker party in the triangle. America does not have a policymaker of Kissinger’s stature today, who would understand the potential of a long-term understanding with Moscow as a tool of curtailing Chinese ambitions along the Pacific Rim.
“America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership.”
The notion that “the world stage” demands a “leader” is flawed. It is at fundamental odds with the balance-of-power paradigm, which has historically secured the longest periods of peace and unprecedented prosperity to the civilized world. Today’s world is being multipolarized, whether Obama the Exceptionalist likes that or not. The very idea of the self-awarded “world leadership” would appear absurd in the days of Bismarck or Metternich. Washington has neither the resources nor the minds for such a role, even if it were called for.
“The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it — when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.”
None of the above applied in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya… but enough of Obama. There was more rhetoric at West Point, including an ode to American exceptionalism and further references to America’s global leadership, but it just as tedious, vacuous and intellectually wanting as the first ten minutes of his address.
Overall, it is evident that the United States in Barack Obama’s final term has not given up the hegemonist habit of instigating crises at different spots around the world, even though the management resources are scarce and the strategy is fundamentally faulty. An overtly anti-U.S. alliance between Russia and China is now in the making. It will be a belated equivalent of the Franco-Russian alliance of 1893 – the predictable result of an earlier great power, Wilhelm’s Kaiserreich, basing its strategy on hubristic overestimation of its capabilities. U.S. overreach has led to the emergence of a de facto alliance in the Eurasian Heartland, embodied in last month’s energy agreement signed in Shanghai. Russia and China are not natural allies and they may have divergent long-term interests, especially in Central Asia, but they are on the same page when it comes to resisting U.S. hegemony.
In the early 1970’s Dr. Henry Kissinger wisely understood the benefits of an opening to Beijing as a means of pressuring Moscow on the Cold War’s central front. Back then the USSR was far more powerful than the People’s Republic. Today, by contrast, China is much more economically and demographically powerful than Russia, and for the United States the optimal strategy would dictate being on good terms with the weaker party in the triangle. It is unfortunate that America does not have a policymaker of Kissinger’s stature today, who would understand the potential of a long-term understanding with Moscow as a tool of curtailing Chinese ambitions along the Pacific Rim.
Judging by the West Point address, for the remaining two and a half years of Obama’s term U.S.-initiated global confrontations will continue as before. Instead of de-escalating the bloody mess to which she has made a hefty contribution, Victoria Nuland will continue encouraging her blood-soaked protégés in Kiev to seek a military end-game in the East. Instead of calming the South China Sea, Washington will continue encouraging its clients to be impertinent. And Putin and Xi will draw their conclusions: that they do have a powerful common enemy, a rogue regime not amenable to reason or rational calculus.
It cannot be otherwise, considering the Obama Administration’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, which is but a rehash of the strategic assumptions of the Bush era. In Obama’s words from two years ago, our “enduring national interest” is to maintain the unparalleled U.S. military superiority, “ready for the full range of contingencies and threats” amid “a complex and growing array of security challenges across the globe.” The Guidance itself asserts that the task of the United States is to “confront and defeat aggression anywhere in the world.” This is not a grand strategy but a blueprint for disaster—especially when combined with the interventionists’ urge to “confront and defeat” not only aggression as such but also “aggression” resulting from internal conflicts irrelevant to the American interest (Syria, Ukraine) and putative threats to regional stability (Iran).
Obama is a more reluctant interventionist than McCain or Romney would have been, but he, too, does not recognize the limits of American power and does not correlate that power with this country’s security and prosperity. He fails to balance military and nonmilitary, short and long-term capabilities. He rejects the fact that the world is becoming multipolar again, while the relative power of the United States is in steady decline. Obama’s absence of a viable grand strategy produces policies that are disjointed, nonsensical, and self-defeating. He is prone, no less than his predecessor, to equate any stated political objective in some faraway land with America’s vital interests, without ever offering a coherent definition of those “vital” interests.
On both sides of the duopoly, the ideology of American exceptionalism and the doctrine of global dominance reign supreme. At a time of domestic economic weakness and cultural decline, foreign policy based on the American interest requires prudence, restraint, and a rational link between ends and means. Abroad, it demands disengagement from distant countries of which we know little; at home, a sane immigration policy.
It will not happen.
“Bias in favor of the orthodox is frequently mistaken for ‘objectivity’. Departures from this ideological orthodoxy are themselves dismissed as ideological.” – Michael Parenti
An exchange in January with Paul Farhi, Washington Post columnist, about coverage of US foreign policy:
Dear Mr. Farhi,
Now that you’ve done a study of al-Jazeera’s political bias in supporting Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, is it perhaps now time for a study of the US mass media’s bias on US foreign policy? And if you doubt the extent and depth of this bias, consider this:
There are more than 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam? Or even opposed to any two of these wars? How about one? In 1968, six years into the Vietnam war, the Boston Globe surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading US papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out”.
Now, can you name an American daily newspaper or TV network that more or less gives any support to any US government ODE (Officially Designated Enemy)? Like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela or his successor, Nicolás Maduro; Fidel or Raúl Castro of Cuba; Bashar al-Assad of Syria; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran; Rafael Correa of Ecuador; or Evo Morales of Bolivia? I mean that presents the ODE’s point of view in a reasonably fair manner most of the time? Or any ODE of the recent past like Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Moammar Gaddafi of Libya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, or Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti?
Who in the mainstream media supports Hamas of Gaza? Or Hezbollah of Lebanon? Who in the mainstream media is outspokenly critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians? And keeps his or her job?
Who in the mainstream media treats Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning as the heroes they are?
And this same mainstream media tell us that Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, et al. do not have a real opposition media.
The ideology of the American mainstream media is the belief that they don’t have any ideology; that they are instead what they call “objective”. I submit that there is something more important in journalism than objectivity. It is capturing the essence, or the truth, if you will, with the proper context and history. This can, as well, serve as “enlightenment”.
It’s been said that the political spectrum concerning US foreign policy in the America mainstream media “runs the gamut from A to B”.
Sincerely, William Blum, Washington, DC
(followed by some of my writing credentials)
Reply from Paul Farhi:
I think you’re conflating news coverage with editorial policy. They are not the same. What a newspaper advocates on its editorial page (the Vietnam example you cite) isn’t the same as what or how the story is covered in the news columns. News MAY have some advocacy in it, but it’s not supposed to, and not nearly as overt or blatant as an editorial or opinion column. Go back over all of your ODE examples and ask yourself if the news coverage was the same as the opinions about those ODEs. In most cases. I doubt it was.
Dear Mr. Farhi,
Thank you for your remarkably prompt answer.
Your point about the difference between news coverage and editorial policy is important, but the fact is, as a daily, and careful, reader of the Post for the past 20 years I can attest to the extensive bias in its foreign policy coverage in the areas I listed. Juan Ferrero in Latin America and Kathy Lally in the Mideast are but two prime examples. The bias, most commonly, is one of omission more than commission; which is to say it’s what they leave out that distorts the news more than any factual errors or out-and-out lies. My Anti-Empire Report contains many examples of these omissions, as well as some errors of commission.
Incidentally, since 1995 I have written dozens of letters to the Post pointing out errors in foreign-policy coverage. Not one has been printed.
Happy New Year
I present here an extreme example of bias by omission, in the entire American mainstream media: In my last report I wrote of the committee appointed by the president to study NSA abuses – Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies – which actually came up with a few unexpected recommendations in its report presented December 13, the most interesting of which perhaps are these two:
“Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry.”
“Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.”
So what do we have here? The NSA being used to steal industrial secrets; nothing to do with fighting terrorism. And the NSA stealing money and otherwise sabotaging unnamed financial systems, which may also represent gaining industrial advantage for the United States.
Long-time readers of this report may have come to the realization that I’m not an ecstatic admirer of US foreign policy. But this stuff shocks even me. It’s the gross pettiness of “The World’s Only Superpower”.
A careful search of the extensive Lexis-Nexis database failed to turn up a single American mainstream media source, print or broadcast, that mentioned this revelation. I found it only on those websites which carried my report, plus three other sites: Techdirt, Lawfare, and Crikey (First Digital Media).
For another very interesting and extreme example of bias by omission, as well as commission, very typical of US foreign policy coverage in the mainstream media: First read the January 31, page one, Washington Post article making fun of socialism in Venezuela and Cuba.
Then read the response from two Americans who have spent a lot of time in Venezuela, are fluent in Spanish, and whose opinions about the article I solicited.
I lived in Chile during the 1972-73 period under Salvadore Allende and his Socialist Party. The conservative Chilean media’s sarcastic claims at the time about shortages and socialist incompetence were identical to what we’ve been seeing for years in the United States concerning Venezuela and Cuba. The Washington Post article on Venezuela referred to above could have been lifted out of Chile’s El Mercurio, 1973.
[Note to readers: Please do not send me the usual complaints about my using the name “America(n)” to refer to “The United States”. I find it to be a meaningless issue, if not plain silly.]
JFK, RFK, and some myths about US foreign policy
On April 30, 1964, five months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, was interviewed by John B. Martin in one of a series of oral history sessions with RFK. Part of the interview appears in the book “JFK Conservative” by Ira Stoll, published three months ago. (pages 192-3)
RFK: The president … had a strong, overwhelming reason for being in Vietnam and that we should win the war in Vietnam.
MARTIN: What was the overwhelming reason?
RFK: Just the loss of all of Southeast Asia if you lost Vietnam. I think everybody was quite clear that the rest of Southeast Asia would fall.
MARTIN: What if it did?
RFK: Just have profound effects as far as our position throughout the world, and our position in a rather vital part of the world. Also it would affect what happened in India, of course, which in turn has an effect on the Middle East. Just as it would have, everybody felt, a very adverse effect. It would have an effect on Indonesia, hundred million population. All of those countries would be affected by the fall of Vietnam to the Communists.
MARTIN: There was never any consideration given to pulling out?
MARTIN: … The president was convinced that we had to keep, had to stay in there …
MARTIN: … And couldn’t lose it.
These remarks are rather instructive from several points of view:
- Robert Kennedy contradicts the many people who are convinced that, had he lived, JFK would have brought the US involvement in Vietnam to a fairly prompt end, instead of it continuing for ten more terrible years. The author, Stoll, quotes a few of these people. And these other statements are just as convincing as RFK’s statements presented here. And if that is not confusing enough, Stoll then quotes RFK himself in 1967 speaking unmistakably in support of the war.
It appears that we’ll never know with any kind of certainty what would have happened if JFK had not been assassinated, but I still go by his Cold War record in concluding that US foreign policy would have continued along its imperial, anti-communist path. In Kennedy’s short time in office the United States unleashed many different types of hostility, from attempts to overthrow governments and suppress political movements to assassination attempts against leaders and actual military combat; with one or more of these occurring in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, British Guiana, Iraq, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Brazil.
- “Just have profound effects as far as our position throughout the world, and our position in a rather vital part of the world.”
Ah yes, a vital part of the world. Has there ever been any part of the world, or any country, that the US has intervened in that was not vital? Vital to American interests? Vital to our national security? Of great strategic importance? Here’s President Carter in his 1980 State of the Union Address: “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America”.
“What a country calls its vital economic interests are not the things which enable its citizens to live, but the things which enable it to make war.” – Simone Weil (1909-1943), French philosopher
- If the US lost Vietnam “everybody was quite clear that the rest of Southeast Asia would fall.”
As I once wrote:
Thus it was that the worst of Washington’s fears had come to pass: All of Indochina – Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – had fallen to the Communists. During the initial period of US involvement in Indochina in the 1950s, John Foster Dulles, Dwight Eisenhower and other American officials regularly issued doomsday pronouncements of the type known as the “Domino Theory”, warning that if Indochina should fall, other nations in Asia would topple over as well. In one instance, President Eisenhower listed no less than Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Indonesia amongst the anticipated “falling dominos”.
Such warnings were repeated periodically over the next decade by succeeding administrations and other supporters of US policy in Indochina as a key argument in defense of such policy. The fact that these ominous predictions turned out to have no basis in reality did not deter Washington officialdom from promulgating the same dogma up until the 1990s about almost each new world “trouble-spot”, testimony to their unshakable faith in the existence and inter-workings of the International Communist Conspiracy.
Suicide bombers have become an international tragedy. One can not sit in a restaurant or wait for a bus or go for a walk downtown, in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iraq or Russia or Syria and elsewhere without fearing for one’s life from a person walking innocently by or a car that just quietly parked nearby. The Pentagon has been working for years to devise a means of countering this powerful weapon.
As far as we know, they haven’t come up with anything. So I’d like to suggest a possible solution. Go to the very source. Flood selected Islamic societies with this message: “There is no heavenly reward for dying a martyr. There are no 72 beautiful virgins waiting to reward you for giving your life for jihad. No virgins at all. No sex at all.”
Using every means of communication, from Facebook to skywriting, from billboards to television, plant the seed of doubt, perhaps the very first such seed the young men have ever experienced. As some wise anonymous soul once wrote:
A person is unambivalent only with regard to those few beliefs, attitudes and characteristics which are truly universal in his experience. Thus a man might believe that the world is flat without really being aware that he did so – if everyone in his society shared the assumption. The flatness of the world would be simply a “self-evident” fact. But if he once became conscious of thinking that the world is flat, he would be capable of conceiving that it might be otherwise. He might then be spurred to invent elaborate proofs of its flatness, but he would have lost the innocence of absolute and unambivalent belief.
We have to capture the minds of these suicide bombers. At the same time we can work on our own soldiers. Making them fully conscious of their belief, their precious belief, that their government means well, that they’re fighting for freedom and democracy, and for that thing called “American exceptionalism”. It could save them from committing their own form of suicide.
An editorial in the Financial Times last week, entitled “End drift to war in the East China Sea,” highlighted the growing alarm in ruling circles about the prospect of a conflict between Japan and China. “The possibility of war,” it declared, “is rapidly emerging as one of the biggest security risks facing the world,” and the two governments “are doing nothing to make conflict less likely.”
The FT focussed on comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he explicitly drew the comparison between the current rivalry in East Asia and that between Britain and Germany prior to World War I. “For Japan’s prime minister to allow any comparison with 1914 in Europe is chilling and inflammatory,” it stated.
The immediate source of tensions is the territorial dispute over rocky outcrops in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. However, the chief responsibility for inflaming this dangerous flashpoint, along with others throughout the region, lies with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—a strategy aimed at isolating China economically and diplomatically, and encircling it militarily.
While hypocritically claiming to be “neutral” on the territorial dispute, Washington has repeatedly declared that, in the event of a war over the islands, the US would support its ally Japan. Moreover, as part of the “pivot,” the Obama administration has been restructuring its military bases in Japan and encouraging Japan to remilitarise.
Asia in 2014 does bear a chilling resemblance to Europe in 1914. World War I arose over the intractable competition for spheres of influence between the major powers. As Lenin and Trotsky, the great Marxists of that period explained, it marked the opening of the imperialist epoch—the epoch of the death agony of capitalism.
The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008, the worsening world economic slump and rising geo-political tensions make clear that capitalism has resolved none of the fundamental contradictions that produced the horrors of a century ago.
Over the past decade, US imperialism has plunged into one war of aggression after another—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—as well as numerous intrigues and provocations, in a desperate bid to offset its relative economic decline through its military predominance. The installation of Obama as president and his “pivot” to Asia reflected deep concerns in the American establishment that the Bush administration’s focus on the Middle East undermined US hegemony in Asia, including over its cheap labour platforms, above all China, that had become central to corporate profit.
Under Obama, the US has encouraged allies such as Japan and the Philippines to take a more assertive stance in their disputes with China; begun to “rebalance” 60 percent of US air and naval forces to the Indo-Pacific; and is establishing new basing arrangements with Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries as part of its war preparations.
In Japan, the US “pivot” has helped foster the emergence of the right-wing Abe government that, in the space of a year, has increased military spending for the first time in a decade and moved to end constitutional restrictions on the Japanese armed forces. Last month, Abe provocatively visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to the country’s war dead—a potent symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s.
Abe is being driven by the interests of Japanese imperialism, which is not prepared to relinquish its position as a leading power in Asia. In his speech at Davos, Abe dismissed pundits who “called Japan the land of the setting sun” and declared that “a new dawn” was breaking. The two themes of his speech were equally aggressive—thinly-disguised criticisms of China, alongside cut-throat economic measures designed to undermine rivals and turn Japan into one of the “most business-friendly places in the world.”
By likening China to Germany in 1914, Abe is seeking to portray Beijing as a dangerous new menace. Unlike Germany, however, China is not an imperialist power. Despite the size of its economy, it continues to function as a cheap labour platform, completely dependent on foreign corporate investment and technology, as well as the existing centres of finance capital. In the military sphere, the US has an overwhelming preponderance, and a global network of bases and alliances that can threaten Chinese interests anywhere in the world.
Backed into a corner by the US over the past four years, the Chinese leadership has responded by offering further economic concessions to the major powers, on the one hand, while boosting military spending and asserting its claims in waters immediately adjacent to the Chinese mainland, on the other. The Beijing regime is whipping up anti-Japanese chauvinism both to justify its military build-up and to divert attention from the extreme social tensions produced by three decades of capitalist restoration.
While drawing attention to the rising danger of war, the Financial Times editorial offered no solution, other than an impotent appeal for “both sides to stop rattling sabres and start talking to one another.” Ignoring the fact that the US “pivot” has stoked the present confrontation, the editorial appealed for Washington to intervene as the voice of peace and reason. Both Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping “should look for a route away from Armageddon before it is too late,” it concluded.
However, as in 1914, the drive to war is being fuelled by the inherent contradictions of capitalism—between global economy and the outmoded nation state system, and private ownership of the means of production and socialised production—that have erupted with full force in the wake of the 2008 global breakdown. The only means of averting the catastrophe being prepared for humanity is the abolition of the bankrupt profit system and the socialist reorganisation of society to meet the social needs of vast majority, not the super-profits of a tiny wealthy elite. The dangers of another world war underscore the necessity of rejecting all forms of nationalism and patriotism and building a unified international anti-war movement of workers and youth in China, Japan, the US and around the world to carry out this urgent task.
The rancour between Japan and China was on public display at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave his keynote speech to the gathering of billionaires, bankers, CEOs, and political leaders on Wednesday.
After expounding on his “Abenomics” pro-market restructuring agenda, Abe spent the second half of his speech making barely-veiled jabs at China that were calculated to further inflame tensions.
Abe began by declaring that “freedom of movement” was of particular importance—a reference to the dangerous dispute that emerged last month over China’s declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea, including the disputed islets known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
The US, followed by Japan, immediately flew war planes into the zone unannounced, challenging Chinese authority and sharply escalating tensions. As China scrambled its own fighters in response, the danger emerged of a clash precipitated by a mistake or miscalculation on either side.
Referring to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, Abe repeated his adage that disputes should be resolved through dialogue and the rule of law, not through force and coercion. In fact, his government refuses to even recognise that there is a dispute over the rocky outcrops and has stepped up military measures in the area, raising the risk of a military clash.
Again pointing to China, Abe proclaimed the need to “restrain military expansion in Asia, which could otherwise go unchecked.” He called for military budgets to be made “completely transparent”—a criticism repeatedly made by the US and its allies over China’s military spending.
While repeatedly declaring his commitment to peace, Abe last year announced the first increase in the Japanese military budget in a decade. His government continued to shift the strategic focus of the Japanese military to “island defence” and Japan’s southern island chain adjacent to the Chinese mainland.
Japan’s defence expansion has been encouraged and backed by the Obama administration, as part of its “pivot to Asia” that includes strengthening of alliances and partnerships throughout the region aimed against China.
Making clear the dangers of war were real, Abe warned his audience: “If peace and stability were shaken in Asia, the knock-on effect for the entire world would be enormous.”
Asked by the chair of the session, Abe defended his visit in December to the notorious Yasukuni war shrine—a hated symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s, where many “Class A” Japanese war criminals are buried. Abe claimed he was simply “praying for the souls of the departed,” which should be “something quite natural for a leader of any country in the world.”
While Abe did not name China in the course of his speech, the target of his remarks was unmistakable.
In another Davos session, Chinese academic Wu Xinbo responded by calling Abe a “troublemaker”, likening him to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “Political relations between our two countries will remain very cool, even frozen for the remaining years of Abe in Japan,” he warned.
In a less public forum at Davos with international journalists, Abe was more explicit. Asked by Financial Times journalist Gideon Rachman if war with China was “conceivable”, the Japanese prime minister did not rule it out. Instead, he compared the current tensions between China and Japan to the rivalry between Britain and Germany in the years before the World War I, saying that it was a “similar situation”.
While various commentators have made the same comparison, such remarks carry added significance coming from Japan’s prime minister. Abe reinforced the point by declaring that China’s increase in military spending was a major source of instability in the region.
As reported in Rachman’s blog, Abe noted that, “Britain and Germany—like China and Japan—had a strong trading relationship. But in 1914, this had not prevented strategic tensions leading to the outbreak of conflict.” He warned of the danger of “some conflict or dispute arising out the blue, on an ad hoc level… or inadvertently”—a reference to the killing of the Austrian archduke in 1914 that sparked war.
Abe offered no suggestion as to how conflict could be avoided, other than a half-hearted proposal for a “military-force level communications channel” between Beijing and Tokyo. “Unfortunately we don’t have a clear and explicit roadmap,” he said, adding later than Japan would “very much like to strengthen our military relationship with the US.”
This last remark highlights the role of the Obama administration is stoking up tensions throughout the region. Its “pivot to Asia” has encouraged allies as Japan and the Philippines to take a far more aggressive stance in their maritime quarrels with China. Four years ago, the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands barely registered in international politics. Today it has become a dangerous flashpoint for war in Asia.
Abe’s speech is part of an escalating propaganda war between Japan and China. Following Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on December 26, Chinese and Japanese ambassadors have engaged in embittered exchanges in the newspapers in at least a dozen countries, including the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
In Britain, the exchange took the bizarre form of likening the other country to Lord Voldemort—the ultimate incarnation of evil the Harry Potter children’s novels—and accusing it of militarism and aggression.
Like the Abe government, the Chinese regime has seized on the dispute to whip up reactionary patriotic sentiment, seeking to divert attention from the social crisis at home and manoeuvre diplomatically abroad. Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming concluded his diatribe against Japan with an appeal for Britain and China to renew the World War II alliance—that is, against Japan—in order “to safeguard regional stability and world peace.”
The tensions between Japan and China at Davos, where business and political leaders are supposedly gathered to iron out the problems of global capitalism, underlines the bankruptcy of the social order that they all defend. Five years after the global financial crisis, the economic breakdown continues unabated, fuelling geo-political rivalries that are driving towards a catastrophic war.
Washington has had the US at war for 12 years: Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and almost Syria, which could still happen, with Iran waiting in the wings. These wars have been expensive in terms of money, prestige, and deaths and injuries of both US soldiers and the attacked civilian populations. None of these wars appears to have any compelling reason or justifiable explanation. The wars have been important to the profits of the military/security complex. The wars have provided cover for the construction of a Stasi police state in America, and the wars have served Israel’s interest by removing obstacles to Israel’s annexation of the entire West Bank and southern Lebanon.
As costly and destructive as these wars have been, they are far below the level of a world war, much less a world war against nuclear armed opponents.
The fatal war for humanity is the war with Russia and China toward which Washington is driving the US and Washington’s NATO and Asian puppet states. There are a number of factors contributing to Washington’s drive toward the final war, but the overarching one is the doctrine of American exceptionalism.
According to this self-righteous doctrine, America is the indispensable country. What this means is that the US has been chosen by history to establish the hegemony of secular “democratic capitalism” over the world. The primacy of this goal places the US government above traditional morality and above all law, both its own and international.
Thus, no one in the US government has been held accountable for unprovoked aggression against other countries and for attacking civilian populations, unambiguous war crimes under international law and the Nuremberg standard. Neither has anyone in the US government been held accountable for torture, a prohibited crime under US law and the Geneva Conventions. Neither has anyone been held accountable for numerous violations of constitutional rights–spying without warrants, warrantless searches, violations of habeas corpus, murder of citizens without due process, denial of legal representation, conviction on secret evidence. The list is long.
A person might wonder what is exceptional and indispensable about a government that is a reincarnation of Nazi Germany in every respect. People propagandized into the belief that they are the world’s special people inevitably lose their humanity. Thus, as the US military video released by Bradley Manning reveals, US troops get their jollies by mowing down innocent people as they walk along a city street.
With the exception of the ACLU, constitutional rights groups and independent Internet voices, the American people including the Christian churches have accepted their government’s criminality and immorality with scant protest.
The absence of moral denunciation emboldens Washington which is now pushing hard against Russia and China, the current governments of which stand in the way of Washington’s world hegemony.
Washington has been working against Russia for 22 years ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In violation of the Reagan-Gorbachev agreement, Washington expanded NATO into Eastern Europe and the Baltic states and established military bases on Russia’s borders. Washington is also seeking to extend NATO into former constituent parts of Russia itself such as Georgia and Ukraine.
The only reason for Washington to establish military and missile bases on Russia’s frontiers is to negate Russia’s ability to resist Washington’s hegemony. Russia has made no threatening gestures toward its neighbors, and with the sole exception of Russia’s response to Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia, has been extremely passive in the face of US provocations.
This is now changing. Faced with the George W. Bush regime’s alternation of US war doctrine, which elevated nuclear weapons from a defensive, retaliatory use to pre-emptive first strike, together with the construction on Russia’s borders of US anti-ballistic missile bases and Washington’s weaponization of new technologies, has made it clear to the Russian government that Washington is setting up Russia for a decapitating first strike.
In his presidential address to the Russian National Assembly (both chambers of parliament) on December 12, Vladimir Putin addressed the offensive military threat that Washington poses to Russia. Putin said that Washington calls its anti-ballistic missile system defensive, but “in fact it is a signifiant part of the strategic offensive potential” and designed to tip the balance of power in Washington’s favor. Having acknowledged the threat, Putin replied to the threat: “Let no one have illusions that he can achieve military superiority over Russia. We will never allow it.”
Faced with the Obama regime’s murder of the nuclear weapons reduction treaty, Putin said: “We realize all this and know what we need to do.”
If anyone remains to write a history, the Obama regime will be known as the regime that resurrected the cold war, which President Reagan worked so hard to end, and drove it into a hot war.
Not content to make Russia an enemy, the Obama regime has also made an enemy of China. The Obama regime declared the South China Sea to be an area of “US national security interest.” This is akin to China declaring the Gulf of Mexico to be an area of Chinese national security interest.
To make clear that the claim to the South China Sea was not rhetorical, the Obama regime announced its “Pivot to Asia,” which calls for the redeployment of 60% of the US fleet to China’s zone of influence. Washington is busy at work securing naval and air bases from the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, Australia, and Thailand. Washington has increased the provocation by aligning itself with China’s neighbors who are disputing China’s claims to various islands and an expanded air space.
China has not been intimidated. China has called for “de-americanizing the world.” Last month the Chinese government announced that it now possesses sufficient nuclear weapons and delivery systems to wipe the US off of the face of the earth. A couple of days ago, China aggressively harassed a US missile cruiser in the South China Sea.
The militarily aggressive stance that Washington has taken toward Russia and China is indicative of the extreme self-assuredness that usually ends in war. Washington is told that US technological prowess can prevent or intercept the launch of Russian and Chinese missiles, thus elevating a US pre-emptive attack to slam-dunk status. Yet the potential danger from Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is said to be so great that a pre-emptive war is necessary right now, and a massive Department of Homeland Security is justified on the grounds that the US remains vulnerable to a few stateless Muslims who might acquire a nuclear weapon. It is an anomalous situation that the Russian and Chinese retaliatory response to US attack is considered to be inconsequential, but not nuclear threats from Iran and stateless Muslims.
Not content with sending war signals to Russia and China, Washington has apparently also decided to torpedo the Iranian settlement by announcing new sanctions against companies doing business with Iran. The Iranians understood Washington’s monkey wrench as Washington probably intended, as a lack of Washington’s commitment to the agreement, left Geneva and returned to Iran. It remains to be seen whether the agreement can be resurrected or whether the Israel Lobby has succeeded in derailing the agreement that promised to end the threat of war with Iran.
American citizens seem to have little, if any, influence on their government or even awareness of its intentions. Moreover, there is no organized opposition behind which Americans could rally to stop Washington’s drive toward world war. Hope, if there is any, would seem to lie with Washington’s European and Asian puppets. What interests do these governments have in putting the existence of their countries at risk for no other purpose than to help Washington acquire hegemony over the world? Cannot they realize that Washington’s game is a death-dealing one for them?
Germany alone could save the world from war while simultaneously serving its own interests. All Germany has to do is to exit the EU and NATO. The alliance would collapse, and its fall would terminate Washington’s hegemonic ambition.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
In 1899 the great libertarian scholar William Graham Scholar of Yale University delivered a speech in which he warned that the Spanish-American War was a crossing-the-Rubicon event in the nation’s history that had finally transformed the nation from a constitutional republic to an empire. Empire was what the Pilgrims escaped from, and the American Revolution was fought against, for in an empire the average citizen is viewed by his rulers as nothing more than a tax slave and cannon fodder. Americans would soon become, he warned, exactly what their country was founded to oppose.
The speech was entitled “The Conquest of the United States by Spain” to denote the fact that the Spanish-American war, an imperialistic war of conquest, was no different from the types of aggressive wars that the old empires of Europe had been waging for centuries. Having devoted his adult life to scholarly pursuits in the field of political economy (among others), William Graham Sumner was prescient in his predictions about what America would become once it embarked on the road to empire. Among his observations were the following:
The Spanish-American War, like future American wars of imperialism, was “justified” by a string of “sensational assertions” that are easily proven to be untrue. Spain never threatened any American “interests,” and would have been the last to have an incentive to sabotage the Battleship Maine, the calamity that stoked war fever and got the masses (“Boobus Americanus” in H.L. Mencken’s words) behind the short “war.” Scholars like Sumner may have easily seen through the government’s lies, but not the rationally-ignorant masses.
“Where is the statesmanship” in lying and manipulating the public into an aggressive war, Sumner asked rhetorically. This of course had become the new definition of “statesmanship” ever since Lincoln manipulated the Northern-state-public into acquiescing in his waging of total war on their fellow American citizens in the Southern states so that the “duties and imposts” could be collected there, as he promised in his first inaugural address. To this day, Republican Party propaganda mills like the Claremont Institute and Hillsdale College pretend to offer courses of study in “statesmanship” of the sort that was mocked and ridiculed by Sumner.
If “self-government” for people of the Spanish empire was the ostensible purpose of the war, why was the American public not involved in any way in instigating the war?, asked Sumner. There was not even an opinion poll taken, he pointed out. This point echoes the words of Randolph Bourne in his famous essay, “War is the Health of the State,” in which he pointed out that the public never has anything to do with the preparations for war. It is always a dozen or so connivers and schemers in the executive branch of government, hidden even from elected members of congresses and parliaments, who plot and plan forwars.
Was the war merely a public school civics class writ large? Sumner also mocked the idea promoted by the war party that Americans are merely interested in teaching Filipinos about democracy and self-government, and then we will leave. Sumner did not believe that “we” would ever leave the Philippines. We are still there today.
The struggle for world domination (imperialism) is destructive of democracy. Although American military interventionism was being sold to Boobus Americanus as a means of spreading democracy, Sumner pointed out that such tactics had led Spain into monarchy and bankruptcy, but such facts were simply ignored by the American war party.
Why do Americans believe they have a “civilizing mission,” Sumner asked. The answer to this rhetorical question lies in the deification of Abe Lincoln by the Republican Party, which in effect was the entire federal government, in the previous thirty-five years. Lincoln’s deification led to the deification of the presidency in general, and to the federal government as well. As Robert Penn Warren wrote in his outstanding book, The Legacy of the Civil War, the Republican Party in the post-war years claimed to possess a “treasury of virtue” that supposedly justified anything and everything the government did anywhere on earth by virtue of the fact that it was the American government that was doing it. This is what “justified” American entry into World War I, for instance, wrote Robert Penn Warren. It was given the obnoxious name “American exceptionalism.” Sumner noted the absurdity of employing Lincoln’s “all men are created equal” rhetoric from the Gettysburg Address to argue that it is somehow “liberating” for people of other countries to be governed by us.
William Graham Sumner warned that “a matter of mind” that views other peoples as “less human” than you would lead to “cruelty and tyranny” by the American government, as was the case with all other governments in history that ruled over empires. This of course was always the way of empires. Southerners were demonized to “justify” the mass murder of tens of thousands of civilian women, children, and old men, and the bombing and burning of entire cities like Atlanta and Richmond during the “Civil War.” The Plains Indians were dehumanized as “savages” while the brave men of the U.S. Army murdered tens of thousands of Indian women and children from 1865 to 1890. Now it was the Filipinos’ turn. At least 200,000 Filipinos were eventually murdered by the U.S. government for resisting becoming a part of the American empire. According to historian Joseph Stromberg, only about 15,000 of them were actual combatants.
“We must devise a government” for other peoples is another piece of war propaganda that Sumner found to be intolerably arrogant and hypocritical. This argument has been used over and over again by generations of American warmongering and imperialistic politicians. A recent example would be Obama’s September 25, 2012 speech before the United Nations in which he praised the dead CIA operative Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack on the American “embassy” in Benghazi, Libya, after being sent there as Obama’s “representative.” He was sent there, said Obama, to “craft a vision for a future” for Libya and Libyans.
The next time you witness a large American flag covering the entire football field before an NFL game; or the flyover of fighter jets before a sporting event; or people wearing American flag shirts and pants while watching the “President’s Cup” golf tournament (which this year featured a naked female streaker carrying a large American flag); or listen to drunks at a bar cheering and shouting “USA! USA!” while watching American bombs dropped on someone in a foreign country on the bar’s boob tube; or attend a church service decorated with flags and listen to a sermon that thanks “our heroes” for murdering people in foreign countries, think of this comment by William Graham Sumner: “The thirst for glory is an epidemic which robs people of their judgment, seduces their vanity, cheats them of their interests, and corrupts their consciences.”
The “essence of militarism,” Sumner observed, is to despise constitutions, to sneer at parliaments, and to look with contempt at civilians. All the neocon talking heads, from Limbaugh to Hannity and Levin and others, adopted the slogan, “9/11 changed everything” every time someone like Judge Andrew Napolitano would argue that the government was acting in contempt of the Constitution with its warrantless wiretaps, internet and cellphone spying, the PATRIOT Act, etc. All American presidents have simply ignored Congress, for the most part, in instigating wars; and of course all politicians at all times (with one or two exceptions) look with absolute contempt at the average citizen.
Sumner wrote of how the war party of his day was making the “the times have changed” argument for war. This was reminiscent of Lincoln’s similar argument that “we must think anew and act anew,” by which he also meant “to hell with the Constitution.”
Militarism destroys capitalist prosperity, Sumner also warned. He observed that all during the late nineteenth century most Europeans were busy working, investing, starting businesses, and improving their standards of living peacefully under a growing capitalist system with little attention being paid to militarism. Such behavior is absolute poison to the state, however, which considers it to be a mortal enemy. So when European war parties began to militarize, Sumner wrote of how government military spending was crowding out private sector growth so much that European capitalism was being “arrested, diverted, and crippled.” This is always the effect of the growth of militarism in particular and of government in general, and in Sumner’s time America was about to embark on the very same economically-destructive path as the Europeans had so foolishly done.
How will we know when we have become like the Old European empires?, Sumner asked. His answer was that America would become awash in “war, debt, taxation, diplomacy, a grand-government system, pomp, glory, a big army and navy, lavish expenditures, and political jobbery – in a word, imperialism.” This has been a textbook definition of American society for quite a long time now, and becoming more and more so by the day.
“The great foe of democracy is plutocracy,” Sumner declared, and militarism always fuels plutocracy. It does so trough “jobbery” (i.e., crony capitalism), diverting the public’s attention from their real economic problems, large government expenditures that benefit a few well-connected defense contracting corporations, and large government expenditures and debt that make the strong stronger and the weak weaker.” This of course is a precise definition of how the American warfare/welfare state, funded by the Fed, has so greatly enriched the “one percenters” at the expense of almost everyone else, as documented in great detail by David Stockman in his book, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, and by Hunter Lewis’s Crony Capitalism in America. This is also a major theme of my books, The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked; Hamilton’s Curse; and How Capitalism Saved America.
In light of all this, it is understandable why an acquaintance of mine who is a Yale graduate recently remarked that of all the paintings and photographs of famous Yale professors and alumni that adorn the Yale libraries and other buildings on campus, the image of William Graham Sumner cannot be found.
Thomas J. DiLorenzo is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln, Lincoln Unmasked, How Capitalism Saved America,Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today. His latest book is Organized Crime: The Unvarnished Truth About Government.
Source: Thomas DiLorenzo | LewRockwell.com
Four Decades after the Tishrin…
Damascus — In Damascus and many other areas of Syria this weekend, citizens will celebrate the accomplishments of the October 6, 1973 – 19 day war jointly launched by Syrian and Egyptian armies to regain Arab land illegally occupied since 1967.
Syrians will honor the 6,000 (Syrians) who died during battle. Many events are planned including special television broadcasts which will revisit the conflict; also numerous art exhibits, plays, films, concerts, rallies, and wreath-laying ceremonies. Public and government officials will appear at the monument, located atop Qasioun Mountain in Damascus, mindful of the many sacrifices being made today. In Egypt, October 6 is Armed Forces Day, commemorating the Egyptians’ role in that October War.
For both peoples, breaking Israel’s sense of invincibility after its 1967 aggression was victory enough. The results of the battle were mixed as history records, but the political and military effects are still indelible, as Zionist leaders exhibit a certain bi-polarization. Many analysts and pro-Zionist “think tanks” are holding seminars on the subject in occupied Palestine and some in the US as well, with many attendees still gnashing their teeth over what went wrong forty years ago. For many Israelis, the surprise battle that killed nearly 3000 Israeli soldiers threatened to destroy the so-called ‘Third Temple’ thus eliminating the last 19th century colonial enterprise. “Academic” seminars, in “professional” strategic forums – even IDF and intelligence fora are planned just as they have been organized every year since 1973.
Many Israelis are still condemning their political leaders at the time, particularly then Prime Minister Golda Meir and military ‘heroes’ from the 1967 aggression as incompetents derelict in their military duties including lack of preparedness. The adulation for General Moshi Dayan resulting from 1967 turned ugly in October of 1973 as many families picketed and chanted “murderer” for the killing of their sons and daughters. The repentance appears to intensify each year over the “Yom Kippur fiasco,” the outcome of the “blindness” and the “smugness and arrogance following the conquests of the Six-Day War,” as many claim.
The Israeli military has never denied that General Dayan urged the use of Chemical weapons during the October war. But chemical weapons are not all that Dayan wanted permission to use. Writing in the 10/3/13 issue of the New York Times, Avner Cohen, a professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a senior fellow at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies discusses an interview he had in 2008 with Mr. Arnan Azaryahu who was a senior political insider and trusted aide and confidant to Yisrael Galili, a minister without portfolio and Golda Meir’s closest political ally. Writes Cohen, “Mr. Azaryahu was privy to some of Israel’s most fateful decisions. In the early afternoon of Oct. 7, as a fierce battle with Syrian forces raged and the Israeli Army appeared to be losing its grasp on the Golan Heights.” Mr. Azaryahu further reported that Dayan sought from Golda Meir, during the cabinet meeting which Mr. Azaryahu attended, “an immediate authorization of preparatory steps for a nuclear blast that he claimed would save precious time and allow the order to detonate a bomb to be executed rapidly should the need arise.”
Cohen continues, “Siding with her two senior ministers, the prime minister told Mr. Dayan to “forget it.” He responded by saying that he remained unconvinced but that he respected the prime minister’s decision.” Dayan sought but was refused authority to use either chemical or nuclear weapons.
One of the lessons from that October war still being discussed is that the hubris from the 1967 aggression concerning the “invincible Israeli army” was simple propaganda for domestic consumption – as were the many battles in South Lebanon during 22 years of occupation and the 33 day 2006 war illustrate. That war clearly established beyond peradventure that the Israeli army cannot defend the Zionist colony unless it has massive American military supplies and blank check funding. During the Tishri battle, the American government, without input from Pentagon or public, provided the Israeli military with planeloads of weaponry, including 9 types of US cluster bombs that were taken from supplies at Subic Bay, Philippines, causing the local US commander to resign claiming that “emptying those warehouses put thousands of US troops in Vietnam at risk.” Yet, President Nixon caved to pressure from PM Golda Meir so that many hundreds of those old cluster bombs, thirty years past their shelf life were used as recently as during the July 2006 war in Lebanon.
The Nixon administration also provided Israel with something far more important – intelligence. Documents relating to the American spy-plane, the ‘SR-71 Blackbird’, show that the Israelis knew where major concentrations of Arab forces were as they were supplied with this information as a result of SR-71 overflights of that war zone. With such knowledge, Israelis knew where to deploy their forces for maximum effect. Whatever dreams of self-sufficiency in weapon development and production were entertained in Israel before the war, were abandoned. Tel Aviv learned that it needs close support, strategic weapons and funding from Washington to survive.
Following the October war, the Arab oil boycott turned Israel into a pariah; fewer countries had diplomatic relations with the Jewish state than with the PLO, which didn’t pretend to seek anything but Palestine’s liberation and the full right of Return. The UN General Assembly gave a standing ovation to Yasser Arafat and shortly thereafter the UN passed the Zionism is Racism resolution. Last month’s embarrassing Netanyahu spectacle at the UN General Assembly where he presented himself as some sort of sociopathic racist, led reportedly, to one European delegate saying after that speech ‘if a snap vote was held on the 1975 Zionism is Racism Resolution (GAR 3379) it would pass again–but by a larger margin than the 11/10/75 vote of 72 to 35.’
Ehud Barak, Israel’s former defense minister claims at pep rallies and AIPAC type gatherings that “states much larger than ours and supposedly much stronger collapsed within weeks under surprise attack and we were totally victorious in 1973.”
Think tanks, such as the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University and the Begin-Sadat Center (BESA) for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, have become bolder participants in the national security debates and have offered alternatives to Netanyahu-Lieberman governmental policies. Gen. Isaac Ben Israel, a specialist on strategic affairs, wrote recently in the small right-wing publication Ha-Umma that “Israel’s achievement was great for revealing to its enemies their inability to overwhelm Israel’s Defense Forces” even in the most favorable circumstances.
Both gentlemen delude themselves and fail to understand the growing global resistance to the occupation of Palestine and opposition to confiscation of Jerusalem by misstating what happened forty years ago this month. More realistic is the statement made last week by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon at a meeting with top defense officials: “One of the causes of our failure at the beginning of the conflict came from a feeling of superiority that we held after the 1967 victory. Israel had “too much confidence, arrogance and lack of caution.”
Every October, bereavement becomes a major element of the Israeli ethos, and a dominant national display of trauma. It is to blame, some claim, for Zionist doubts about facing the future of their enterprise in Palestine. And even among many Israelis awareness about the very right of the Apartheid Jewish state to exist. Israel once again feels vulnerable to surprise attack.
The shock of the October War left deep scars on the national psyche that affect Israelis even today. Foremost among them, according to the Jaffee Center, is a gnawing anxiety that the national leadership is so locked into a “conceptzia” — a shared strategic concept that determines the leaders’ worldview — that they may be misreading reality and ignoring opportunities for peace.
Commenting on the report’s claim that Israel is now better off strategically than at any time in its history, the military analyst for the Ma’ariv newspaper, Amir Rapaport, observed wryly that “the last time we boasted that things were never better was in the autumn of 1973.”
The antagonistic, mendacious, gangster like character of American politics has at times caused citizens to avoid it entirely and as the frantic pursuit of pleasure has become the core of life, the nation’s health is too often ignored. A spate of detrimental occurrences and a wide spread feeling of impotence has wounded the electorate. Recently a survey found that only 10 percent of Americans trust our congress to act in the best interests of the nation.
Though I believe it is futile to argue that our Constitution is a Christian document, in a world where freedom is scarce it is an outstanding and unique construct that has serve the nation well. Americans have enjoyed two centuries of liberty and prosperity unequalled in the civilized world.
This is where we were:
The taste of freedom that our ancestors experienced when they entered the hard life of pioneer America created a ferocious will to defend it. When Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty or give me death” he spoke for thousands of immigrants who had been living in European bondage for centuries. Feudalism was a form of slavery. Vassals could not own land. They spent their lives working and fighting for wealthy Lords. In America they could clear, till, harvest and own their land. The contrast was stark and of great value.
Unfortunately freedom was like a new car that had been driven a few thousand miles, lost its new smell, and acquired a few dents. In our time it has lost some of its value and is no longer washed, shined, inspected, and admired.
A number of factors have worked together to bring down the United States of America. The American Indians who were the rightful owners of the new found continent soon became enemies of the European immigrants who began settling land that Indians had historically hunted, fished, and occupied. The Indians were the first terrorists. Their ways of war were inferior and their weaponry was archaic. Justice was on their side but power overcomes justice and injustice wears a righteous cloak.
England became the next enemy seeking to enslave the new freedom addicts with taxes and oppressive troops. The settlers would have none of it. Freedom was seen as a religious right and Christian ministers urged their congregants to fight for it Though the nation was divided in its loyalty there were enough who believed liberty was worth fighting for to produce a rag tag army that was able to defeat the distance impaired British troops.
The next challenge to freedom came when Abraham Lincoln confirmed the odiferous fears of Patrick Henry (He smelled a rat!) by determining to preserve the Union by force. The Southern States who seceded for both economic and social reasons through ignominious defeat became prisoners in a union they deplored. The Union was preserved but freedom was dealt a serious blow.
As wealth and independence increased an omnipotent spirit began to overcome the America populace; the Indians were slaughtered, the continent was either purchase on the cheap or won by force. Florida; the Philippines and Cuba came from Spain; California, a part of Mexico, was won by the army; and Louisiana http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Purchase was purchased from France (Included in this purchase were parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and some of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan). It was an unconstitutional purchase but pragmatism started early in the new nation.
Through what many settlers thought was “Manifest Destiny” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
This is how we got to where we are:
Itinerant Jews became wise in banking and the use of money. They accumulated fortunes that could bail out nations and finance empires. They not only understand banking and money but also the need of nations for unlimited funds. They understand war and its potential for profit and became adept at manipulating nations into conflicts. They pull the power strings in the majority of nations throughout the world and are today a strategic force in the implementation of world government. Though not widely known Jewish financier, Hayman Solomon, was instrumental in providing funds to finance the American Revolution. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haym_Solomon
The United States of America has succumbed to the persistent debilitation caused by powerful, amoral bankers. They and their Talmudist kin occupy all of the power centers of our nation. They control the news you hear and do not hear, they control the movies you watch, the books and newspapers you read, they control our elections, they are responsible for persistent war and the suffocating quantity of immigrants that are destroying our culture. They are consistent promoters of conflicts and have defeated our Christian institutions and destroyed morality. The Federal Reserve banking system is controlled by the moneychangers. They create inflation and depression and then at the expense of the American taxpayer provide solutions to both. International banking is controlled by the same wise bankers who use debt to enslave nations throughout the world. They are a powerful and wily bunch..
This is where we are going:
Wholesale immigration will soon result in the indigenous White inhabitants becoming a minority in their own nation. Our European Christian based culture is being replaced by a secular legal system that is diametrical to the Law of the Bible. Obedience to these new legal codes is being actively enforced. We have been hijacked into a perpetual war that benefits a new world order program that is inimical to the best interests of the nation and threatens to start a much larger world conflict. The perpetual war and the social give away programs are creating a debt that even if the nation is fortunate enough to survive will saddle future generations with an insurmountable obligation. This is particularly true since the wealth producing manufacturing engine that used to eradicate our debt has been shipped overseas leaving us unable to satisfy even small obligations.
The astounding thing about all this is that many Americans are not only unaware of what is happening but unwilling to learn. They would rather not know.
Little by little the choices that have created freedom in United States are being lost. The tsunami of corporate mergers has driven out small businesses and severely reduced the choices of consumers who now are forced to deal with a small number of remote suppliers who give no heed to the individual. The depression has forced numerous retail establishments out of business reducing consumer choices. Chinese goods are being forced on American consumers because there is nothing else available. It has been decades since we had competitive daily newspapers and magazines have now become archaic. There is no longer a popular choice of political candidates which are preselected and promoted by a unified media owned by a handful of like minded oligarchs. The choices prosperity availed us are no longer there for the average American the work week has increased while his pay has decreased. Both husbands and wives are now working to sustain a standard of living that is inferior to a single wage family a half century ago.
Someone asked in today’s Letters to the Editor if the rape of the middle class was over. It is not over.
“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” - – Voltaire (1694-1778)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to supervise construction of a five-story underground facility for an Israel Defense Forces complex, oddly named “Site 911,” at an Israeli Air Force base near Tel Aviv.
Expected to take more than two years to build, at a cost of up to $100 million, the facility is to have classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3, a laboratory, shock-resistant doors, protection from nonionizing radiation and very tight security. Clearances will be required for all construction workers, guards will be at the fence and barriers will separate it from the rest of the base.
Only U.S. construction firms are being allowed to bid on the contract and proposals are due Dec. 3, according to the latest Corps of Engineers notice.
Site 911 is the latest in a long history of military construction projects the United States has undertaken for the IDF under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. The 1998 Wye River Memorandum between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has led to about $500 million in U.S. construction of military facilities for the Israelis, most of them initially in an undeveloped part of the Negev Desert. It was done to ensure there were bases to which IDF forces stationed in the West Bank could be redeployed.
As recorded in the Corps’ European District magazine, called Engineering in Europe, three bases were built to support 20,000 troops, and eventually the Israeli air force moved into the same area, creating Nevatim air base. A new runway, 2.5 miles long, was built there by the Corps along with about 100 new buildings and 10 miles of roads.
Over the years, the Corps has built underground hangers for Israeli fighter-bombers, facilities for handling nuclear weapons (though Israel does not admit having such weapons), command centers, training bases, intelligence facilities and simulators, according to Corps publications.
Within the past two years the Corps, which has three offices in Israel, completed a $30 million set of hangars at Nevatim, which the magazine describes as a “former small desert outpost that has grown to be one of the largest and most modern air bases in the country.” It has also supervised a $20 million project to build maintenance shops, hangars and headquarters to support Israel’s large Eitan unmanned aerial vehicle.
Site 911, which will be built at another base, appears to be one of the largest projects. Each of the first three underground floors is to be roughly 41,000 square feet, according to the Corps notice. The lower two floors are much smaller and hold equipment.
Security concerns are so great that non-Israeli employees hired by the builder can come only from “the U.S., Canada, Western Europe countries, Poland, Moldavia, Thailand, Philippines, Venezuela, Romania and China,” according to the Corps notice. “The employment of Palestinians is also forbidden,” it says.
Among other security rules: The site “shall have one gate only for both entering and exiting the site” and “no exit or entrance to the site shall be allowed during work hours except for supply trucks.” Guards will be Israeli citizens with experience in the Israeli air force. Also, “the collection of information of any type whatsoever related to base activities is prohibited.”
The well-known Israeli architectural firm listed on the plans, Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects, has paid attention to the aesthetics of the site design as well as the sensibilities of future employees. The site, for example, will be decorated with rocks chosen by the architect but purchased by the contractor. Three picnic tables are planned, according to the solicitation.
The Corps offered a lengthy description of the mezuzas the contractor is to provide “for each door or opening exclusive of toilets or shower rooms” in the Site 911 building. A mezuza (also spelled mezuzah) is a parchment which has been inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah, placed in a case and attached to a door frame of a Jewish family’s house as a sign of faith. Some interpret Jewish law as requiring — as in this case — that a mezuza be attached to every door in a house.
These mezuzas, notes the Corps, “shall be written in inerasable ink, on . . . uncoated leather parchment” and be handwritten by a scribe “holding a written authorization according to Jewish law.” The writing may be “Ashkenazik or Sepharadik” but “not a mixture” and “must be uniform.”
Also, “The Mezuzahs shall be proof-read by a computer at an authorized institution for Mezuzah inspection, as well as manually proof-read for the form of the letters by a proof-reader authorized by the Chief Rabbinate.” The mezuza shall be supplied with an aluminum housing with holes so it can be connected to the door frame or opening. Finally, “All Mezuzahs for the facility shall be affixed by the Base’s Rabbi or his appointed representative and not by the contractor staff.”
What’s the purpose of Site 911? I asked the Pentagon on Tuesday, and the Corps on Wednesday said that only an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman could provide an answer.
This may be a trend-starter. The Corps is also seeking a contractor for another secret construction project in Israel in the $100 million range to awarded next summer. This one will involve “a complex facility with site development challenges” requiring services that include “electrical, communication, mechanical/
HVAC [heating, ventilation, air conditioning] and plumbing.” The U.S. contractor must have a U.S. secret or equivalent Israeli security clearance for the project, which is expected to take almost 21/2 years to complete.
That sounds like a secure command center.
The purpose of Site 911 is far less clear.
Source: Walter Pincus | TheWashingtonPost
A Nation In Decline…
Stories of citizens being assaulted by TSA (Transportation Security Administration) employees are common internet fare. There are numerous groping complaints, little old ladies are forced to remove their diapers and nubile young women are patted down and ogled by X-ray, knives are confiscated, liquids are poured out, shoes are removed, and time is wasted; all without noticeable results. TSA guru, Janet Napolitano, supports the TSA in the same way police chiefs support errant policemen. When governments write the law they often consider themselves immune to it. Policemen are seldom held accountable for their actions. Agents of the government regularly pillage private property, harass citizens, and even commit murder, all without retribution.
During the 1940s, when I was in high school, the older brother of one of my friends had established a dental practice in a small Northern Illinois town. My friend described his brother’s work as a “Racket” and said he was making piles of money. At that time I had a mouth full of fillings skillfully inserted by a neighbor who was also a relative. My parents paid for the work which though relatively cheap was expensive in the depression days of the 1930s. There was, however, more kindness during this era and service providers felt an obligation to provide care to everyone regardless of ability to pay.
When the government gets involved in licensing members of any profession several things eventually result. 1) License restrictions limit supply and costs go up. 2) Participants collude, and 3) become arrogant and self serving. 4) They devise methods of extracting the maximum amount of money from the public. 5) Their egos grow; they take on god-like qualities and look with disdain on customers whose urgent need of their services supports the inflated cost.
Many Americans travel to Costa Rica where they are able to pay for transportation and stay at a four star hotel with the money they save having their dental work done there. Occasionally an unlicensed dentist learns the mechanics of the trade and establishes a lucrative practice. Read about one here. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
American dentists are very expensive.
With a mouthful of bad teeth and an unwillingness to be overcharged my experience with dentists has been dismal. Several dentists maintained that fillings were not reliable and refused to put fillings in my teeth. Reluctantly I allowed three teeth to be capped. Because I complained about the cost of each procedure and was dubious about what I was being told dentists did not enjoy my presence. Finally, I was shuffled off to a dentist who liked to do fillings. His personality was as dismal as mine but he was a good mechanic. Belying what several other dentist had told me he filled my mouth with mercury fillings.
During my last visit for a six month cleaning, I turned down an X-ray. Past X-rays had added to the cost and had not produced anything of value. I considered his request that I sign a release paper a form of intimidation and refused to sign it. Though I had been a patient for several years and had contributed several thousand dollars to his coffers he dismissed me for refusing to sign. It is my money and that of other patients that support this dentist but it is government created exclusivity and collusion that sustain blunt arrogance.
Collusion allows dentists to ration their services by presenting a universal wall that closes out the uncooperative patient. Being ushered into a dental chair, opening the mouth and having an assistant begin a set of prescribed procedures without discussion is oppressive and leaves the patient without input. It discourages talk about fees and allows them to avoid competition.
Following the rude dismissal by the mercury filling expert, I visited another dentist who advertised for new patients. I was put through the regular expensive set of procedures that go before the appearance of the Mighty One. His dental assistant took X-rays, measured gum loss, and cleaned and inspected my teeth. These preliminaries often cost $200 or more. When all this was finished the dentist inspected my teeth giving his assistant coded remarks about each tooth.
I explained to him that I was almost 83 years old and that I had one tooth that needed to be removed and that I wanted to keep the remainder of my teeth in workable condition for as long as I could. Following a brief examination the dentist disappeared and his assistant arrived with a computer generated treatment sheet recommending several thousand dollars worth of dental work. I was referred to a dental surgeon for the bad, loose, single rooted tooth which he claimed might break. It was obvious he paid no attention to my brief request and when the assistant asked that I sign a form indicating receipt of his recommendations I refused. With predictable arrogance he sent his assistant to tell me I was dismissed. Rejected patients receive a formal letter confirming the rejection.
It is difficult to break through the wall that screens out competition and uncooperative patients because dentists collude and all present the same competitive barriers.
Cutting a man’s hair and filling a tooth both take technical skills and similar amounts of time; the barber gets $10 to $15 while the Dentist gets $200 or more; educational status, the artificial leverage of government licensing, and collusive practices work together to support high fees.
If you have never experienced the God-like demeanor that allows doctors and dentists to dismiss a patient with a formal letter as if partaking of their service is a privilege rather than a high priced sale, you have probably never confronted one of these demigods. Rather than seeking to provide a needed service to society at an affordable price the touchy plutocrats seek to be treated with divine deference.
Young people who begin working at $10.00 an hour (common here in Florida) will work a week and a half (sixty hours) for what a dentist earns in an hour or less. Many young people cannot afford dentists and live with poor dental hygiene Senior citizens whose life span is almost complete can spend several thousand dollars on dental work that death renders useless.
Patients have a vested interest in having their teeth cleaned but despite the heavy padding it is a nuisance to dentists. They maintain their upper 1% status by gluing on crowns and doing root canals. A root canal takes about an hour of the dentist’s time and costs between $600 and $1000 (Sometimes more!). When a crown is added fixing a single tooth might cost $2000. My experience seems to indicate that when a dentist see $10,000 work in a person’s mouth he will take a little guff and might even negotiate but when only cleaning is involved he is quick to dismiss.
Altruism has been wrung out of medical and dental care. The Hippocratic Oath may still be administered in some form but in practice it is as dead as Christianity in the church. Today medical and dental professions are businesses conducted by individuals who have fulfilled educational requirements in order to harvest a bumper financial crop. Ministering to patients is a means of making money and if there is no money to be made or if the patient cannot pay, the relationship is quickly severed. For the patient who fails to pay, the credit rating is ruined and harassing bill collectors are marshaled.
Dentists and doctors have succumbed to the advancing brutality that has infected our culture. It began with the Revolutionary War, advanced during the Civil War; was inflicted on the indigenous Indians, on the civilian population of the Philippines, on the Germans in WWII, on the Vietnamese, it is now ravishing the Arabs in the Middle East and is pervasive in our culture.
Brutality has driven out mercy and justice and fertilized the lawless avarice of pagan Capitalism. John Adam said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Injustice is rampant and mercy is scarce. Our people are religious but immoral. As a nation we have forsaken God’s Law and opted to live under a human standard of justice.
Morality is impossible without law and justice is impossible without God’s Law. Sinful men and women cannot write just law. Those that claim to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the redemptive work of His Son, The Christ, have drifted so far away from their God that His Laws are repugnant. Even some who should know better delight in the heresy of Dispensationalism denying the efficacy of God’s Law favoring law devised by the evil minds o of men. Death by stoning sounds like cruel and unusual punishment because death by losing the lower half of a human body to an explosive device is hidden and never pictured in our deluded minds.
We live in a sanitized society; hiding grotesque brutality so we can considering ourselves civilized. Aborted babies are seldom seen. Pictures of the slaughter of their tiny bodies are unpopular and in some cases banned. War is advertised as altruistic and soldiers are urged to sign up and see the world. The returning caskets and the maimed participants are not public fare. An aberrant press and media fail to mention that for every soldier killed nine civilians die. The pillage and wreckage of Iraq is kept from the public. In spite of the brief publicity around Abu Grave torture continues as a weapon.
We have lost our fear of God. When there is no fear of God there is no active religion. If stoning did nothing else, it might renew our fear of God
In his lengthy indictment of the Jews Martin Luther wrote, “For every country, if it is to endure, must have these two things: power and law. The country— must have a lord, a head, a ruler. But it must also have a law by which the ruler is guided— For wherever sheer power prevails without the law— there is no government, but tyranny.” (Excerpted)
God admonishes us in Proverbs, “My son, keep my words, and treasure my commandments within you. Keep my commandments and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Chapter 7; 1-3
As our government continues to impose tyrannical laws and procedures on the United States, patriots and Christians approach the coming election with the usual chronic insanity, repeatedly seeking the culprit as the remedy. Though many of our older citizens have lived through many of these same charades they still participate with vigor. The human mind is easily distorted and often incapable of reaching sound conclusions. Elections are rife with empty promises and mendacious accusations. Popularity is manufactured by the press and voting is often controlled by the counter rather than the voter. When the wicked process is over the winner may initiate some minor social changes but the planned shrinkage of American wealth and power continues as it has now for several decades.
It is tragic that good men sell their souls in order to become marionettes on the stage of government. Ron Paul maintained his stance for many years and seemed to be mostly above the evil pragmatism. Nevertheless, he was summarily shoved aside and though he may have siphoned a few votes from the Mormon King he accomplished very little. Powerful forces mute the policies that might remedy our downfall and the soulless empty suits we have elected value their jobs more than their character.
The transformation of our doctors and dentists from responsible contributors to the well being of our society to avaricious wealthy craftsmen is a small matter compared to the complete downfall of civilization. It is, however, a symptom and without confrontation it continues its downward spin along with that of the nation.
Indian Christian intellectual Vishal Mangalwadi has used the clear vision of a Godly man in a newly published book entitled “The Book That Made Your World”. He speaks to Americans in general and Christians in particular about the overweening influence of the Christian Bible on our culture. In the Forward he writes, “It was above all, a civilization in which truth was understood to be real, where the collective pursuit of virtue shaped behavior, and the redemptive work of God in the person of Jesus Christ provided a radical and historically verifiable transforming response to the abyss of human selfishness, corruption , and sin.” Pg.17
Unfortunately, he writes in the past tense.
During the 1980s NPR was continually on the case of the Reagan administration. NPR certainly had a Democratic slant, and a lot of its reporting about the Reagan administration was one-sided. Yet, NPR was an independent voice, and it sometimes got things correct.
In the 21st century that voice has disappeared, which was the intention of the George W. Bush regime. Bush put a Republican woman in charge who made it clear to NPR producers and show hosts that the federal part of their funding was at risk.
Money often over-rules principle, and when corporations added their really big money NPR collapsed. Today the local stations still pretend to be funded by listeners, but if you have noticed, as I have, there are now a large number of corporate advertisements, disguised in the traditional terms “with support from . . .” If you are not listening to classical music, you are listening to corporate advertisements.
Today the entire “mainstream media” is closed to truth-tellers. The US media is Washington’s propaganda ministry. The US media has only one function–to lie for Washington.
What reminded me of NPR’s surrender was NPR’s August 31 report with its two regular talking voice political pundits discussing the Republican Convention and Romney’s speech. After witnessing the Republicans at their nominating convention at Tampa violate all their own rules and ride roughshod over the Ron Paul delegates, one expected some discussion of the Republican Party’s refusal to allow Ron Paul to be placed in nomination or his delegate account to be announced.
The operative question was obvious: How can the American people trust the Republicans with the awesome power of the executive branch when the Republican Party just finished demonstrating for all to see its Stalinist qualities by crushing the anti-war, anti-police state wing of its party?
The authoritarianism was gratuitous. Romney had a sufficient number of delegates to be nominated. It would have cost Romney nothing to follow the rules and allow Ron Paul to be placed in nomination and his delegate numbers to be reported. Instead, Romney wrote off the liberty contingent of the Republican Party. The Brownshirts demonstrated their power.
The last Republican who wrote off a chunk of his own party was Barry Goldwater, and he went down to crushing defeat. Makes one wonder if the Republicans are relying on those electronic voting machines programed with proprietary Republican software that leave no paper trail. The Democrats have acquiesced to Republican election theft. There have been numerous cases where exit polls indicate that voters chose a different candidate than the one chosen by the Republican programmed voting machines.
One would have thought that NPR and its pundits would have found the parallel with Goldwater worth comment, but the suppression of the Ron Paul delegates was already down the memory hole.
One would also have thought that NPR and its pundits would have found Clint Eastwood’s speech a fascinating topic of discussion. Eastwood had a Republican National Committee approved speech, but discarded it. Instead, Eastwood stood beside an empty chair and pretended to be talking to Obama, but it could just as well have been Romney in the chair. By pretending to be talking to Obama, Eastwood made his points without eliciting boos from the Republican audience.
Not many in the Republican audience caught on, but there were some stony faces when Eastwood said “I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there are 23 million unemployed people in this country.” More stony Republican faces when Eastwood showed his opposition to the Iraq and Afghan wars and asks the chair, “why don’t you just bring them [the troops] home tomorrow morning?” Those who thought he was digging at Obama cheered; those who realized he was criticizing hardline Republican positions were displeased.
But NPR and the US media in general are uncomfortable with such real news as a political party being told off by one of its heroes and a political party sufficiently stupid to repeat Barry Goldwater’s mistake. The establishment might complain. The money might dry up or employees be fired for permitting such a story to be aired. The Democrats lost their independent financing when jobs offshoring destroyed the unions. There are no longer countervailing powers to Wall Street and the corporations, which have been endowed by the Republican US Supreme Court with First Amendment rights to purchase US elections, and placed in charge of the US Treasury, the regulatory agencies and the Federal Reserve.
In Tampa the Republicans wrote off the Ron Paul vote, because they are enamored of power and its gratuitous demonstration. Can people so desirous of power and the thrill of its use be trusted to let go of power when they lose the next election? There are enough presidential executive orders and national security orders, even some signed by the Democrat Obama, that any president can assert them and refuse to face election.
Once Rome accepted Julius Caesar’s coup, the Roman Republic was gone. Those who tried to save the Roman Republic by assassinating Caesar failed, because the majority of the legions had gone over to the dictatorship, which promised them more money than the Republic had. Caesar’s name became the title for Rome’s dictators.
In the US, even your friendly local police have gone over to dictatorship. And they are armed with its tools. A friend, a competitive shooter for accuracy, told me that as he left his gun club on August 27, a local sheriff department entered in a military armored vehicle, something one would expect to see on a battlefield, followed by a large sheriff’s department truck full of military equipment. He says that the gun club allows local police to use the club’s facilities so that club members are not stopped and harassed about their firearms as they go to and from the club. He reports that the police will line up 30 abreast, with automatic weapons, not allowed to club members, and fire at one target, with 30 police emptying 30-round magazines at the same target.
He once asked our protectors if they were practicing for some competition. The answer was, “No, we are preparing to control the outcome when there is trouble.”
Control is the operative word. We have seen for a number of years now that the Republican Party is power-addicted. Remember when the Bush administration fired the US Attorneys who refused the order to indict only Democrats? Remember the Republican Party’s transparent frame-up of popular Alabama Democratic governor Don Siegelman? Evidence indicates that the Republican operative Karl Rove took advantage of a Republican federal judge, vulnerable according to news reports to corruption charges, and a compliant Republican US attorney in Alabama to railroad Governor Siegelman. The message to Democrats was: if you get elected in our Southern Territory, we will get you.
But never fear, we have “freedom and democracy.” George W. Bush told us so himself.
The weak, chicken-hearted Obama administration has not commuted Siegelman’s outrageous sentence. The inability of the Democrats to stand up for their own members and their own principles is the best indication we have that Republican tyranny will prevail.
It didn’t take Caesar George W. Bush 10 minutes to wipe out the prison sentence of vice president Dick Cheney’s chief aid for revealing the identity of a CIA operative, a felony under US law. But the Obama Justice (sic) Department supports Karl Rove’s destruction of one of its most popular governors.
It was the German left-wing’s weak opposition to the National Socialists that gave the world Hitler.
The Republican Party has become the Party of Hate. Decades of frustration have made Republicans mean. They object to everything that has happened since the Great Depression in the 1930s to make the US a more just and humane society.
The Republican Party wants power so that it can smash all vestiges of regulation and welfare and all those of whom Republicans disapprove: the poor, the minorities, liberals, the imagined “foreign enemies,” war protestors and others who challenge authority, those American weaklings who have compassion for the unfortunate, the US Constitution, that pinko-liberal-commie document that coddles criminals, illegal aliens, and terrorists, and all dissenters from the policy of enriching the one percent at the expense of the 99 percent.
Above all else, the Republicans want to turn Social Security and Medicare into profit centers for private corporations.
Would the world be surprised if Republicans donned brown shirts? America has declared itself to be “the indispensable nation,” justifying its hegemony over the world. Any country that does not submit to Washington is “a foe.” The neoconservative propaganda that America is the indispensable nation with a right to world hegemony sounds a lot like “Deutschland uber alles.”
A decade ago the Bush regime demonstrated that it could over-ride US statutory law, the US Constitution, and the constitutional separation of powers in order to concentrate unaccountable power in the office of the president.
The Democrats, when they gained control of Congress in the mid-term elections, did nothing about the unprecedented legal and constitutional crimes of George W. Bush. The Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, who could easily have impeached George W. Bush for his obvious crimes against US law and the US Constitution, announced that “impeachment is off the table.” Money was more important to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi than the rule of law.
When a people have no political party that represents them, they are doomed to tyranny.
And to war.
Russia and China are in the way of Washington’s hegemony. Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, has declared Russia to be “our number one geopolitical foe” for opposing Washington’s plans to overthrow by violence the Syrian government. Why is overthrowing the Syrian government so advantageous to Washington that Romney in a fit of pique recklessly brought the United States into direct confrontation with Russia?
Arrogance and hubris lead to wars. Do Americans really want a person as president who is so reckless as to gratuitously declare a large nuclear-armed country to be our number one enemy? The American and Israeli trained Georgian army did not last an hour when the former Soviet republic foolishly, on Washington’s encouragement, provoked the Russian bear.
Meanwhile the Obama regime, concerned with China’s rapid economic rise, has indicated that it thinks China is the number one enemy. The Obama regime has forgot that China, when a primitive, backward country, fought the US to a stalemate in Korea more than a half century ago.
The Obama regime has announced that the US Navy is being repositioned to the Eastern Pacific, that the US regards the South China Sea as America’s national interest, and that new naval, air, and troop bases are being established in the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere in the region. The purpose of these bases is to block China’s access to energy and raw materials, which is what Washington did to Japan in the 1930s.
Are Americans aware that the hubris and idiocy of their political leaders have now saddled Americans with the burden of two number one enemies, both well equipped with armies and nuclear weapons? Only Iran can be happy about this as it moves Iran off the front burner.
Washington is putting its forward military bases in place, and the propaganda war is being cranked up. The subservient British press was quick to fall in line with Washington. A British reader of my column reports that the Guardian/Observer and New Statesman are at Putin’s throat: “Every day this week we’ve had Russia/Putin hate stories. Headlines such as ‘medieval dictatorship’ as we saw in last Sunday’s Observer [August 26] are common. In this week’s New Statesman we have a front page picture of Putin with the headline ‘Putin’s reign of terror.’ They’ve got Putin with a crown on his head and dressed as a Tsar-like figure. It’s a relentless information battlefield assault on Russia.”
Another line of Washington’s attack on Russia is Washington’s covert backing of Chechnya terrorist groups in the Caucasus and funding of front groups in Russia for protest and terrorist organizations. Allegations of corruption and stolen elections come primarily from Washington-funded groups operating in Russia. See http://www.globalresearch.ca/al-qaeda-blitzkrieg-wests-terror-battalions-eye-russia-next/ and http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/08/bombshell-us-neo-cons-state-department.html Through these methods, Washington hopes to destabilize the Russian government and to isolate it internationally in order to remove a barrier to Washington’s hegemony.
Two of Romney’s right-wing neoconservative advisors said that Romney as president would “confront Moscow on its poor record on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.” The western media will not comment on the irony of these propagandistic allegations against Russia issuing from the US, the country that has destroyed habeas corpus and due process protections of the accused, tortured detainees in violation of the Geneva Conventions and its own statutory law, kidnaps, tortures, and assassinates foreign nationals as well as its own citizens, supports terrorism against Libya, Syria, Iran, and Russia, runs roughshod over international law, never submitting to law itself but using law as a weapon against governments that it has demonized, while it carries on military operations against seven Muslim countries without a declaration of war.
The Nuremberg Trials of Germans after World War II established that naked aggression is a war crime. Naked aggression, renamed by Washington, “preemptive war,” has become the operative principle of US foreign policy.
As Putin remarked, Washington is guilty of the crimes of which it accuses others, but Washington permits all things to “the indispensable nation.”
Amerika uber alles!
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
When President Reagan nominated me as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, he told me that we had to restore the US economy, to rescue it from stagflation, in order to bring the full weight of a powerful economy to bear on the Soviet leadership, in order to convince them to negotiate the end of the cold war. Reagan said that there was no reason to live any longer under the threat of nuclear war.
The Reagan administration achieved both goals, only to see these accomplishments discarded by successor administrations. It was Reagan’s own vice president and successor, George Herbert Walker Bush, who first violated the Reagan-Gorbachev understandings by incorporating former constituent parts of the Soviet Empire into NATO and taking Western military bases to the Russian frontier.
The process of surrounding Russia with military bases continued unabated through successor US administrations with various “color revolutions” financed by the US National Endowment for Democracy, regarded by many as a front for the CIA. Washington even attempted to install a Washington-controlled government in Ukraine and did succeed in this effort in former Soviet Georgia, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin.
The President of Georgia, a country located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, is a Washington puppet. Recently, he announced that former Soviet Georgia is on schedule to become a NATO member in 2014.
Those old enough to remember know that NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was an alliance between Western Europe and the US against the threat of the Red Army overrunning Western Europe. The North Atlantic is a long, long ways from the Black and Caspian Seas. What is the purpose of Georgia being a NATO member except to give Washington a military base on the Russian underbelly?
The evidence is simply overwhelming that Washington–both parties–have Russia and China targeted. Whether the purpose is to destroy both countries or merely to render them unable to oppose Washington’s world hegemony is unclear at this time. Regardless of the purpose, nuclear war is the likely outcome.
The presstitute American press pretends that an evil Syrian government is murdering innocent citizens who only want democracy and that if the UN won’t intervene militarily, the US must in order to save human rights. Russia and China are vilified by US functionaries for opposing any pretext for a NATO invasion of Syria.
The facts, of course, are different from those presented by the presstitute American media and members of the US government. The Syrian “rebels” are well armed with military weapons. The “rebels” are battling the Syrian army. The rebels massacre civilians and report to their media whores in the West that the deed was done by the Syrian government, and the Western presstitutes spread the propaganda.
Someone is arming the “rebels” as obviously the weapons can’t be purchased in local Syrian markets. Most intelligent people believe the weapons are coming from the US or from US surrogates.
So, Washington has started a civil war in Syria, as it did in Libya, but this time the gullible Russians and Chinese have caught on and have refused to permit a UN resolution like the one the West exploited against Gaddafi.
To get around this roadblock, fish out an ancient Phantom fighter jet from the 1960s Vietnam war era and have Turkey fly it into Syria. The Syrians will shoot it down, and then Turkey can appeal to its NATO allies to come to its aid against Syria. Denied the UN option, Washington can invoke its obligation under the NATO treaty, and go to war in defense of a NATO member against a demonized Syria.
The neoconservative lie behind Washington’s wars of hegemony is that the US is bringing democracy to the invaded and bombed countries. To paraphrase Mao, “democracy comes out of the barrel of a gun.” However, the Arab Spring has come up short on democracy, as have Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries “liberated” by US democratic invasions.
What the US is bringing is civil wars and the breakup of countries, as President Bill Clinton’s regime achieved in former Yugoslavia. The more countries can be torn into pieces and dissolved into rival factions, the more powerful is Washington.
Russia’s Putin understands that Russia itself is threatened not only by Washington’s funding of the “Russian opposition,” but also by the strife among Muslims unleashed by Washington’s wars against secular Muslim states, such as Iraq and Syria. This discord spreads into Russia itself and presents Russia with problems such as Chechen terrorism.
When a secular state is overthrown, the Islamist factions become free to be at one another’s throats. The internal strife renders the countries impotent. As I wrote previously, the West always prevails in the Middle East because the Islamist factions hate one another more than they hate their Western conquerers. Thus, when Washington destroys secular, non-Islamist governments as in Iraq and now targeted in Syria, the Islamists emerge and battle one another for supremacy. This suits Washington and Israel as these states cease to be coherent opponents.
Russia is vulnerable, because Putin is demonized by Washington and the US media and because Putin’s Russian opposition is financed by Washington and serves US, not Russian, interests. The turmoil that Washington is unleashing in Muslim states leaks back to Russia’s Muslim populations.
It has proved to be more difficult for Washington to interfere in China’s internal affairs, although discord has been sowed in some provinces. Several years from now, the Chinese economy is expected to exceed in size the US economy, with an Asian power displacing a Western one as the world’s most powerful economy.
Washington is deeply disturbed by this prospect. In the thrall and under the control of Wall Street and other special interest business groups, Washington is unable to rescue the US economy from its decline. The short-run gambling profits of Wall Street, the war profits of the military/security complex, and the profits from offshoring the production of goods and services for US markets have far more representation in Washington than the wellbeing of US citizens. As the US economy sinks, the Chinese economy rises.
Washington’s response is to militarize the Pacific. The US Secretary of State has declared the South China Sea to be an area of American national interest. The US is wooing the Philippine government, playing the China threat card, and working on getting the US Navy invited back to its former base at Subic Bay. Recently there were joint US/Philippines military/naval exercises against the “China threat.”
The US Navy is reallocating fleets to the Pacific Ocean and constructing a new naval base on a South Korean island. US Marines are now based in Australia and are being reallocated from Japan to other Asian countries. The Chinese are not stupid. They understand that Washington is attempting to corral China.
For a country incapable of occupying Iraq after 8 years and incapable of occupying Afghanistan after 11 years, to simultaneously take on two nuclear powers is an act of insanity. The hubris in Washington, fed daily by the crazed neocons, despite extraordinary failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, has now targeted formidable powers–Russia and China. The world has never in its entire history witnessed such idiocy.
The psychopaths, sociopaths, and morons who prevail in Washington are leading the world to destruction.
The criminally insane government in Washington, regardless whether Democrat or Republican, regardless of the outcome of the next election, is the greatest threat to life on earth that has ever existed.
Moreover, the only financing the Washington criminals have is the printing press. In a subsequent column I will examine whether the US economy will complete its collapse before the war criminals in Washington can destroy the world.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.
And If You Can Fake Sincerity You’ve Got It Made…
“A few months ago I told the American people that I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that is true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not.” — President Ronald Reagan, 1987.
On April 23, speaking at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, President Barack Obama told his assembled audience that as president “I’ve done my utmost … to prevent and end atrocities”.
Do the facts and evidence tell him that his words are not true?
Well, let’s see … There’s the multiple atrocities carried out in Iraq by American forces under President Obama. There’s the multiple atrocities carried out in Afghanistan by American forces under Obama. There’s the multiple atrocities carried out in Pakistan by American forces under Obama. There’s the multiple atrocities carried out in Libya by American/NATO forces under Obama. There are also the hundreds of American drone attacks against people and homes in Somalia and in Yemen (including against American citizens in the latter). Might the friends and families of these victims regard the murder of their loved ones and the loss of their homes as atrocities?
Ronald Reagan was pre-Alzheimer’s when he uttered the above. What excuse can be made for Barack Obama?
The president then continued in the same fashion by saying: “We possess many tools … and using these tools over the past three years, I believe — I know — that we have saved countless lives.” Obama pointed out that this includes Libya, where the United States, in conjunction with NATO, took part in seven months of almost daily bombing missions. We may never learn from the new pro-NATO Libyan government how many the bombs killed, or the extent of the damage to homes and infrastructure. But the President of the United States assured his Holocaust Museum audience that “today, the Libyan people are forging their own future, and the world can take pride in the innocent lives that we saved.” (As I described in last month’s report, Libya could now qualify as a failed state.)
Language is an invention that makes it possible for a person to deny what he is doing even as he does it.
Mr. Obama closed with these stirring words; “It can be tempting to throw up our hands and resign ourselves to man’s endless capacity for cruelty. It’s tempting sometimes to believe that there is nothing we can do.” But Barack Obama is not one of those doubters. He knows there is something he can do about man’s endless capacity for cruelty. He can add to it. Greatly. And yet, I am certain that, with exceedingly few exceptions, those in his Holocaust audience left with no doubt that this was a man wholly deserving of his Nobel Peace Prize.
And future American history books may well certify the president’s words as factual, his motivation sincere, for his talk indeed possessed the quality needed for schoolbooks.
The Israeli-American-Iranian-Holocaust-NobelPeacePrize Circus
It’s a textbook case of how the American media is at its worst when it comes to US foreign policy and particularly when an Officially Designated Enemy (ODE) is involved. I’ve discussed this case several times in this report in recent years. The ODE is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The accusation has been that he had threatened violence against Israel, based on his 2005 remark calling for “wiping Israel off the map”. Who can count the number of times this has been repeated in every kind of media, in every country of the world, without questioning the accuracy of what was reported? A Lexis-Nexis search of “All News (English)” for <Iran and Israel and “off the map”> for the past seven years produced the message: “This search has been interrupted because it will return more than 3000 results.”
As I’ve pointed out, Ahmadinejad’s “threat of violence” was a serious misinterpretation, one piece of evidence being that the following year he declared: “The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.” 2 Obviously, he was not calling for any kind of violent attack upon Israel, for the dissolution of the Soviet Union took place remarkably peacefully. But the myth of course continued.
Now, finally, we have the following exchange from the radio-TV simulcast, Democracy Now!, of April 19:
A top Israeli official has acknowledged that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said that Iran seeks to “wipe Israel off the face of the map.” The falsely translated statement has been widely attributed to Ahmadinejad and used repeatedly by U.S. and Israeli government officials to back military action and sanctions against Iran. But speaking to Teymoor Nabili of the network Al Jazeera, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor admitted Ahmadinejad had been misquoted.
Teymoor Nabili: “As we know, Ahmadinejad didn’t say that he plans to exterminate Israel, nor did he say that Iran policy is to exterminate Israel. Ahmadinejad’s position and Iran’s position always has been, and they’ve made this — they’ve said this as many times as Ahmadinejad has criticized Israel, he has said as many times that he has no plans to attack Israel. …”
Dan Meridor: “Well, I have to disagree, with all due respect. You speak of Ahmadinejad. I speak of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani, Shamkhani. I give the names of all these people. They all come, basically ideologically, religiously, with the statement that Israel is an unnatural creature, it will not survive. They didn’t say, ‘We’ll wipe it out,’ you’re right. But ‘It will not survive, it is a cancerous tumor that should be removed,’ was said just two weeks ago again.”
Teymoor Nabili: “Well, I’m glad you’ve acknowledged that they didn’t say they will wipe it out.”
So that’s that. Right? Of course not. Fox News, NPR, CNN, NBC, et al. will likely continue to claim that Ahmadinejad threatened violence against Israel, threatened to “wipe it off the map”.
And that’s only Ahmadinejad the Israeli Killer. There’s still Ahmadinejad the Holocaust Denier. So until a high Israeli official finally admits that that too is a lie, keep in mind that Ahmadinejad has never said simply, clearly, unambiguously, and unequivocally that he thinks that what we historically know as the Holocaust never happened. He has instead commented about the peculiarity and injustice of a Holocaust which took place in Europe resulting in a state for the Jews in the Middle East instead of in Europe. Why are the Palestinians paying a price for a German crime? he asks. And he has questioned the figure of six million Jews killed by Nazi Germany, as have many other people of various political stripes. In a speech at Columbia University on September 24, 2007, in reply to a question about the Holocaust, the Iranian president declared: “I’m not saying that it didn’t happen at all. This is not the judgment that I’m passing here.” 3
Let us now listen to Elie Wiesel, the simplistic, reactionary man who’s built a career around being a Holocaust survivor, introducing President Obama at the Holocaust Museum for the talk referred to above, some five days after the statement made by the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister:
“How is it that the Holocaust’s No. 1 denier, Ahmadinejad, is still a president? He who threatens to use nuclear weapons — to use nuclear weapons — to destroy the Jewish state. Have we not learned? We must. We must know that when evil has power, it is almost too late.”
“Nuclear weapons” is of course adding a new myth on the back of the old myth.
Wiesel, like Obama, is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. As is Henry Kissinger and Menachim Begin. And several other such war-loving beauties. When will that monumental farce of a prize be put to sleep?
For the record, let it be noted that on March 4, speaking before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Obama said: “Let’s begin with a basic truth that you all understand: No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction.” 4
Postscript: Each time I strongly criticize Barack Obama a few of my readers ask to unsubscribe. I’m really sorry to lose them but it’s important that those on the left rid themselves of their attachment to the Democratic Party. I’m not certain how best to institute revolutionary change in the United States, but I do know that it will not happen through the Democratic Party, and the sooner those on the left cut their umbilical cord to the Democrats, the sooner we can start to get more serious about this thing called revolution.
Written on Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, 2012
Two simple suggestions as part of a plan to save the planet.
1. Population control: limit families to two children
All else being equal, a markedly reduced population count would have a markedly beneficial effect upon global warming, air pollution, and food and water availability; as well as finding a parking spot, getting a seat on the subway, getting on the flight you prefer, and much, much more. Some favor limiting families to one child. Still others, who spend a major part of each day digesting the awful news of the world, are calling for a limit of zero. (The Chinese government announced in 2008 that the country would have about 400 million more people if it wasn’t for its limit of one or two children per couple. 5
But, within the environmental movement, there is still significant opposition to this. Part of the reason is fear of ethnic criticism inasmuch as population programs have traditionally been aimed at — or seen to be aimed at — primarily the poor, the weak, and various “outsiders”. There is also the fear of the religious right and its medieval views on birth control.
2. Eliminate the greatest consumer of energy in the world: The United States military.
Here’s Michael Klare, professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, Mass. in 2007:
Sixteen gallons of oil. That’s how much the average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis — either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes. Multiply this figure by 162,000 soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region (including sailors aboard U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf) and you arrive at approximately 3.5 million gallons of oil: the daily petroleum tab for U.S. combat operations in the Middle East war zone. Multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 1.3 billion gallons: the estimated annual oil expenditure for U.S. combat operations in Southwest Asia. That’s greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh, population 150 million — and yet it’s a gross underestimate of the Pentagon’s wartime consumption. 6
The United States military, for decades, with its legion of bases and its numerous wars has also produced and left behind a deadly toxic legacy. From the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam in the 1960s to the open-air burn pits on US bases in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 21st century, countless local people have been sickened and killed; and in between those two periods we could read things such as this from a lengthy article on the subject in the Los Angeles Times in 1990:
U.S. military installations have polluted the drinking water of the Pacific island of Guam, poured tons of toxic chemicals into Subic Bay in the Philippines, leaked carcinogens into the water source of a German spa, spewed tons of sulfurous coal smoke into the skies of Central Europe and pumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into the oceans. 7
The military has caused similar harm to the environment in the United States at a number of its installations. (Do a Google search for <”U.S. military bases” toxic>)
When I suggest eliminating the military I am usually rebuked for leaving “a defenseless America open to foreign military invasion”. And I usually reply:
“Tell me who would invade us? Which country?”
“What do you mean which country? It could be any country.”
“So then it should be easy to name one.”
“Okay, any of the 200 members of the United Nations!”
“No, I’d like you to name a specific country that you think would invade the United States. Name just one.”
“Okay, Paraguay. You happy now?”
“No, you have to tell me why Paraguay would invade the United States.”
“How would I know?”
Etc., etc., and if this charming dialogue continues, I ask the person to tell me how many troops the invading country would have to have to occupy a country of more than 300 million people.
The questions concerning immigration into the United States from south of the border go on year after year, with the same issues argued back and forth: What’s the best way to block the flow into the country? How shall we punish those caught here illegally? Should we separate families, which happens when parents are deported but their American-born children remain? Should the police and various other institutions have the right to ask for proof of legal residence from anyone they suspect of being here illegally? Should we punish employers who hire illegal immigrants? Should we grant amnesty to at least some of the immigrants already here for years? … on and on, round and round it goes, for decades. Every once in a while someone opposed to immigration will make it a point to declare that the United States does not have any moral obligation to take in these Latino immigrants.
But the counter-argument to the last is almost never mentioned: Yes, the United States does have a moral obligation because so many of the immigrants are escaping situations in their homelands made hopeless by American interventions and policy. In Guatemala and Nicaragua Washington overthrew progressive governments which were sincerely committed to fighting poverty. In El Salvador the US played a major role in suppressing a movement striving to install such a government, and to a lesser extent played such a role in Honduras. And in Mexico, although Washington has not intervened militarily in Mexico since 1919, over the years the US has been providing training, arms, and surveillance technology to Mexico’s police and armed forces to better their ability to suppress their own people’s aspirations, as in Chiapas, and this has added to the influx of the impoverished to the United States. Moreover, Washington’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has brought a flood of cheap, subsidized US agricultural products into Mexico and driven many Mexican farmers off the land.
The end result of all these policies has been an army of migrants heading north in search of a better life. It’s not that these people prefer to live in the United States. They’d much rather remain with their families and friends, be able to speak their native language at all times, and avoid the hardships imposed on them by American police and right-wingers.
Washington Post, March 5, 1987
Associated Press, December 12, 2006
President Ahmadinejad Delivers Remarks at Columbia University, Transcript, Washington Post, September 24, 2007
Remarks by the President at AIPAC Policy Conference, White House Office of the Press Secretary, March 4, 2012
Washington Post, March 3, 2008
The Pentagon v. Peak Oil, TomDispatch.com, June 14, 2007
Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1990
It depends whether the miscreant enjoys “We will always have your back regardless”…. status
On March 6, 2012, the US Congressional Research Service released a report to the US Congress concerning Restrictions on the use of American weapons by recipient countries. For those who have followed the subject there was not a whole lot new in the CRS study, yet it is instructive in identifying Israel once again as far and away the most egregious violator of virtually every provision of every US law which purports to regulate how American weapons are used.
According to one CRS researcher, requesting anonymity during a Skype conversation and subsequent memo:
“An intern and I decided, almost for amusement, to count violations of US Arms Export Control laws by Israel between the date of ACEA enactment, 1976, through last month and we estimated more than 2.5 million violations if we applied the law given the legislative history and intent of Congress at the time of its passage. We based that figure on our estimation of each individual violation of the act as well as of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act. It could be firing a US 155 mm artillery shell, various missiles, bombs, rockets and of course cluster munitions. For example, were Israel brought before a Court, the prosecutors would surely argue that each cluster booklet dropped on Lebanon in 2006 was a separate violation plus the two million estimated dropped during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and during the 1978, 1993 and 1996 invasions. Add to this figure Israel’s records of violating US Arms export laws in Gaza, the West Bank and Syria and the true number is surely several million violations. Essentially all committed with impunity.”
In accordance with U.S. law, the U.S. Government is mandated to enforce strict conditions on the use against civilians, of weapons it transfers to foreign recipients. Violations of these conditions can lead to the suspension of deliveries or termination of contracts for such defense items, and even the cutting off of all aid to the violating country.
Section 3(a) of the 1976 US Arms Export Control Act (AECA) sets the standards for countries to be eligible to receive American arms and it also sets express conditions on the uses to which these arms may be put. Section 4 of the AECA states that U.S. weapons shall be sold to friendly countries “solely” for use in “legitimate self-defense, for use in “internal security,” and to enable the recipient country to participate in “collective measures requested by the United Nations for the purpose of maintaining or restoring international peace and security.”
Should the President or Congress determine pursuant to section 3(c)(3)(A) of the Arms Export Control Act that a “substantial violation” by a foreign country of an applicable agreement governing an arms sale or grant has occurred, then that country is automatically ineligible for further U.S. military hardware. This action would also terminate provision of credits, loan guarantees, cash sales, and deliveries pursuant to previous sales or grants. Other options include suspension of deliveries of defense items already ordered and refusal to allow new arms orders.
The United States has only once used such an option against Israel.
Questions raised by researchers in Beirut during the summer of 1982 and by Washington Post journalist Jonathan Randal regarding the use of U.S.-supplied military equipment by Israel in Lebanon in June and July 1982, led the Reagan Administration to determine on July 15, 1982, that Israel “may” have violated its July 23, 1952, Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with the United States (TIAS 2675) and the AECA.
The pertinent language of the 1952 agreement between Israel and the United States states: “The Government of Israel assures the United States Government that such equipment, materials, or services as may be acquired from the United States … are required for and will be used solely to maintain its internal security, its legitimate self-defense, or to permit it to participate in the defense of the area of which it is a part, or in United Nations collective security arrangements and measures, and that it will not undertake any act of aggression against any other state.”
Alarm centered on whether or not Israel had used U.S.-supplied antipersonnel cluster bombs against civilian targets during its carpet bombing West Beirut during the nearly three month siege.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on this issue in July and August 1982. On July 19, 1982, the Reagan Administration announced that it would prohibit new exports of cluster bombs to Israel. This prohibition was lifted by the Reagan Administration in November 1988 under US Israel lobby pressure on the White House designed to assist the Presidential campaign of George H. W. Bush against Senator Walter Mondale.
The facts of this case which mainly centered on events in Lebanon are instructive. During the 1973 Ramadan war, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, watching Arab forces advance on Israel troops following the October 6 Egyptian and Syrian offensive, and being advised by the Israeli Defense Ministry of a pending disaster, threatened President Nixon with Israel using nuclear weapons unless the US rescued Israel. Nixon’s immediate response was to order a massive air lift to Israel of US arms stockpiled for use in Vietnam at Clark air force base near Subic Bay, Philippines. The base commander at Clark immediately resigned because being on the defensive in Vietnam, he advised Washington US troops needed those weapons. Included were eight types of US cluster bombs including the M-42, M-46,CBU-58 A/B, APAM (BLU) 77/B, MK 20 “Rockeye”, MK 118 and he M-43 “Birdie” as the U.S. Marines in Beirut referred to the M-43 it in late 1982 and 1983.
During a late June 1982 meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Begin, Reagan was handed a note from George Shultz. Based on the information he had in hand, Reagan directly told Begin that the US had reliable information than Israel was using American weapons against civilians in Lebanon. At this point according to Reagan, Begin became very agitated. He lowered his glasses and while glaring at Reagan and shaking his index finger said, “Mr. President, Israel has never and would never use American weapons against civilians and to claim otherwise is a blood libel against every Jew, everywhere.” Following their meeting Reagan told Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, as reported by Weinberger and by various biographers of Reagan that “I did not know what the term “blood libel” meant, but I know that the man looked me straight in the eyes and lied to me.”
The original Secretary of State George Schultz suggestion to Reagan of Israel using two types (the M-42 and the CBU-58) of American cluster bombs was soon changed to the charge that Israel in fact used all eight types of American cluster bombs Nixon had sent to Meir during October 1973.
Proof of the use of the eight types of US cluster bombs was delivered to an assembly of US Pentagon and other officials in late July 1982 at the Indian Head Ordnance facility on the Potomac River in Southern Maryland on instructions from the late American Journalist Janet Lee Stevens to this observer. Substantive and still preserved demonstrative and physical evidence, including photographs and US cluster bombs, some of which still were filled with the high explosive minol, that were carried in my suitcase, that had been gathered from around West Beirut by Janet and her research team that included Palestinian fighters delegated by Yassir Arafat and Khalil al Wazir (Abu Jihad) some Marabatoun fighters, as well several Amal milita as well as this observer to aid with the task.
The US / Israel lobby accurately considers American arms control laws as meaningless. The prohibitions against Israel’s use of American weapons against civilians have not, are not and in all likelihood will never be enforced against Israel given the regime’s continuing occupation of much of the US government.
The once cherished American value of building a nation based on humane laws and the American national security interest of achieving a foreign policy that deals on the basis of equality with other nations have been sacrificed so as to delay the inevitable collapse of the apartheid colonial enterprise implanted on Palestine.
The Obama “we’ve got your back regardless” genuflection endangers America as surely as it threatens with US weapons, every country in the Middle East and beyond that may even contemplate challenging Zionism’s regional hegemony.
It’s high time for true American patriots to take back their country and rejoin the community of nations on the basis of equality and mutual respect for all, entangling and corrupting alliances with none.
Welcome to an edgy world where a single incident at an energy “chokepoint” could set a region aflame, provoking bloody encounters, boosting oil prices, and putting the global economy at risk. With energy demand on the rise and sources of supply dwindling, we are, in fact, entering a new epoch — the Geo-Energy Era — in which disputes over vital resources will dominate world affairs. In 2012 and beyond, energy and conflict will be bound ever more tightly together, lending increasing importance to the key geographical flashpoints in our resource-constrained world.
Take the Strait of Hormuz, already making headlines and shaking energy markets as 2012 begins. Connecting the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, it lacks imposing geographical features like the Rock of Gibraltar or the Golden Gate Bridge. In an energy-conscious world, however, it may possess greater strategic significance than any passageway on the planet. Every day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankers carrying some 17 million barrels of oil — representing 20% of the world’s daily supply — pass through this vital artery.
So last month, when a senior Iranian official threatened to block the strait in response to Washington’s tough new economic sanctions, oil prices instantly soared. While the U.S. military has vowed to keep the strait open, doubts about the safety of future oil shipments and worries about a potentially unending, nerve-jangling crisis involving Washington, Tehran, and Tel Aviv have energy experts predicting high oil prices for months to come, meaning further woes for a slowing global economy.
The Strait of Hormuz is, however, only one of several hot spots where energy, politics, and geography are likely to mix in dangerous ways in 2012 and beyond. Keep your eye as well on the East and South China Seas, the Caspian Sea basin, and an energy-rich Arctic that is losing its sea ice. In all of these places, countries are disputing control over the production and transportation of energy, and arguing about national boundaries and/or rights of passage.
In the years to come, the location of energy supplies and of energy supply routes — pipelines, oil ports, and tanker routes — will be pivotal landmarks on the global strategic map. Key producing areas, like the Persian Gulf, will remain critically important, but so will oil chokepoints like the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca (between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea) and the “sea lines of communication,” or SLOCs (as naval strategists like to call them) connecting producing areas to overseas markets. More and more, the major powers led by the United States, Russia, and China will restructure their militaries to fight in such locales.
You can already see this in the elaborate Defense Strategic Guidance document, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership,” unveiled at the Pentagon on January 5th by President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. While envisioning a smaller Army and Marine Corps, it calls for increased emphasis on air and naval capabilities, especially those geared to the protection or control of international energy and trade networks. Though it tepidly reaffirmed historic American ties to Europe and the Middle East, overwhelming emphasis was placed on bolstering U.S. power in “the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean and South Asia.”
In the new Geo-Energy Era, the control of energy and of its transport to market will lie at the heart of recurring global crises. This year, keep your eyes on three energy hot spots in particular: the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Caspian Sea basin.
The Strait of Hormuz
A narrow stretch of water separating Iran from Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the strait is the sole maritime link between the oil-rich Persian Gulf region and the rest of the world. A striking percentage of the oil produced by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE is carried by tanker through this passageway on a daily basis, making it (in the words of the Department of Energy) “the world’s most important oil chokepoint.” Some analysts believe that any sustained blockage in the strait could trigger a 50% increasein the price of oil and trigger a full-scale global recession or depression.
American leaders have long viewed the Strait as a strategic fixture in their global plans that must be defended at any cost. It was an outlook first voiced by President Jimmy Carter in January 1980, on the heels of the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan which had, he told Congress, “brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world’s oil must flow.” The American response, he insisted, must be unequivocal: any attempt by a hostile power to block the waterway would henceforth be viewed as “an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America,” and “repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”
Much has changed in the Gulf region since Carter issued his famous decree, known since as the Carter Doctrine, and established the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) to guard the Strait — but not Washington’s determination to ensure the unhindered flow of oil there. Indeed, President Obama has made it clear that, even if CENTCOM ground forces were to leave Afghanistan, as they have Iraq, there would be no reduction in the command’s air and naval presence in the greater Gulf area.
It is conceivable that the Iranians will put Washington’s capabilities to the test. On December 27th, Iran’s first vice president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi said, “If [the Americans] impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.” Similar statements have since been made by other senior officials (and contradicted as well by yet others). In addition, the Iranians recently conducted elaborate naval exercises in the Arabian Sea near the eastern mouth of the strait, and more such maneuvers are said to be forthcoming. At the same time, the commanding general of Iran’s army suggested that the USS John C. Stennis, an American aircraft carrier just leaving the Gulf, should not return. “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added ominously, “will not repeat its warning.”
Might the Iranians actually block the strait? Many analysts believe that the statements by Rahimi and his colleagues are bluster and bluffmeant to rattle Western leaders, send oil prices higher, and win future concessions if negotiations ever recommence over their country’s nuclear program. Economic conditions in Iran are, however, becoming more desperate, and it is always possible that the country’s hard-pressed hardline leaders may feel the urge to take some dramatic action, even if it invites a powerful U.S. counterstrike. Whatever the case, the Strait of Hormuz will remain a focus of international attention in 2012, with global oil prices closely following the rise and fall of tensions there.
The South China Sea
The South China Sea is a semi-enclosed portion of the western Pacific bounded by China to the north, Vietnam to the west, the Philippines to the east, and the island of Borneo (shared by Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia) to the south. The sea also incorporates two largely uninhabited island chains, the Paracels and the Spratlys. Long an important fishing ground, it has also been a major avenue for commercial shipping between East Asia and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. More recently, it acquired significance as a potential source of oil and natural gas, large reserves of which are now believed to lie in subsea areas surrounding the Paracels and Spratlys.
With the discovery of oil and gas deposits, the South China Sea has been transformed into a cockpit of international friction. At least some islands in this energy-rich area are claimed by every one of the surrounding countries, including China — which claims them all, and has demonstrated a willingness to use military force to assert dominance in the region. Not surprisingly, this has put it in conflict with the other claimants, including several with close military ties to the United States. As a result, what started out as a regional matter, involving China and various members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has become a prospective tussle between the world’s two leading powers.
To press their claims, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have all sought to work collectively through ASEAN, believing a multilateral approach will give them greater negotiating clout than one-on-one dealings with China. For their part, the Chinese have insisted that all disputes must be resolved bilaterally, a situation in which they can more easily bring their economic and military power to bear. Previously preoccupied with Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has now entered the fray, offering full-throated support to the ASEAN countries in their efforts to negotiate en masse with Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi promptly warned the United States not to interfere. Any such move “will only make matters worse and the resolution more difficult,” he declared. The result was an instant war of words between Beijing and Washington. During a visit to the Chinese capital in July 2011, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen delivered a barely concealed threat when it came to possible future military action. “The worry, among others that I have,” he commented, “is that the ongoing incidents could spark a miscalculation, and an outbreak that no one anticipated.” To drive the point home, the United States has conducted a series of conspicuous military exercises in the South China Sea, including some joint maneuvers with ships from Vietnam and the Philippines. Not to be outdone, China responded with naval maneuvers of its own. It’s a perfect formula for future “incidents” at sea.
The South China Sea has long been on the radar screens of those who follow Asian affairs, but it only attracted global attention when, in November, President Obama traveled to Australia and announced, with remarkable bluntness, a new U.S. strategy aimed at confronting Chinese power in Asia and the Pacific. “As we plan and budget for the future,” he told members of the Australian Parliament in Canberra, “we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.” A key feature of this effort would be to ensure “maritime security” in the South China Sea.
While in Australia, President Obama also announced the establishment of a new U.S. base at Darwin on that country’s northern coast, as well as expanded military ties with Indonesia and the Philippines. In January, the president similarly placed special emphasis on projecting U.S. power in the region when he went to the Pentagon to discuss changes in the American military posture in the world.
Beijing will undoubtedly take its own set of steps, no less belligerent, to protect its growing interests in the South China Sea. Where this will lead remains, of course, unknown. After the Strait of Hormuz, however, the South China Sea may be the global energy chokepoint where small mistakes or provocations could lead to bigger confrontations in 2012 and beyond.
The Caspian Sea Basin
The Caspian Sea is an inland body of water bordered by Russia, Iran, and three former republics of the USSR: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. In the immediate area as well are the former Soviet lands of Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. All of these old SSRs are, to one degree or another, attempting to assert their autonomy from Moscow and establish independent ties with the United States, the European Union, Iran, Turkey, and, increasingly, China. All are wracked by internal schisms and/or involved in border disputes with their neighbors. The region would be a hotbed of potential conflict even if the Caspian basin did not harbor some of the world’s largest undeveloped reserves of oil and natural gas, which could easily bring it to a boil.
This is not the first time that the Caspian has been viewed as a major source of oil, and so potential conflict. In the late nineteenth century, the region around the city of Baku – then part of the Russian empire, now in Azerbaijan — was a prolific source of petroleum and so a major strategic prize. Future Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin first gained notoriety there as a leader of militant oil workers, and Hitler sought to capture it during his ill-fated 1941 invasion of the USSR. After World War II, however, the region lost its importance as an oil producer when Baku’s onshore fields dried up. Now, fresh discoveries are being made in offshore areas of the Caspian itself and in previously undeveloped areas of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
According to energy giant BP, the Caspian area harbors as much as 48 billion barrels of oil (mostly buried in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan) and 449 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (with the largest supply in Turkmenistan). This puts the region ahead of North and South America in total gas reserves and Asia in oil reserves. But producing all this energy and delivering it to foreign markets will be a monumental task. The region’s energy infrastructure is woefully inadequate and the Caspian itself provides no maritime outlet to other seas, so all that oil and gas must travel by pipeline or rail.
Russia, long the dominant power in the region, is pursuing control over the transportation routes by which Caspian oil and gas will reach markets. It is upgrading Soviet-era pipelines that link the former SSRs to Russia or building new ones and, to achieve a near monopoly over the marketing of all this energy, bringing traditional diplomacy, strong-arm tactics, and outright bribery to bear on regional leaders (many of whom once served in the Soviet bureaucracy) to ship their energy via Russia. As recounted in my book Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, Washington sought to thwart these efforts by sponsoring the construction of alternative pipelines that avoid Russian territory, crossing Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to the Mediterranean (notably the BTC, or Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline), while Beijing is building its own pipelines linking the Caspian area to western China.
All of these pipelines cross through areas of ethnic unrest and pass near various contested regions like rebellious Chechnya and breakaway South Ossetia. As a result, both China and the U.S. have wedded their pipeline operations to military assistance for countries along the routes. Fearful of an American presence, military or otherwise, in the former territories of the Soviet Union, Russia has responded with military moves of its own, including its brief August 2008 war with Georgia, which took place along the BTC route.
Given the magnitude of the Caspian’s oil and gas reserves, many energy firms are planning new production operations in the region, along with the pipelines needed to bring the oil and gas to market. The European Union, for example, hopes to build a new natural gas pipelinecalled Nabucco from Azerbaijan through Turkey to Austria. Russia has proposed a competing conduit called South Stream. All of these efforts involve the geopolitical interests of major powers, ensuring that the Caspian region will remain a potential source of international crisis and conflict.
In the new Geo-Energy Era, the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Caspian Basin hardly stand alone as potential energy flashpoints. The East China Sea, where China and Japan are contending for a contested undersea natural gas field, is another, as are the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands, where both Britain and Argentina hold claims to undersea oil reserves, as will be the globally warming Arctic whose resources are claimed by many countries. One thing is certain: wherever the sparks may fly, there’s oil in the water and danger at hand in 2012.
Source: Michael T. Klare | TomDispatch.com