Sunni-Shia Bellum Sacrum Fault Lines Deepen…
Historically, the term “religious war” (Bellum Sacrum) was used to describe various European wars among Christian denominations spanning mainly the 16th to the 18th century such as the Seven Year’s War (1756-1763) which spread widely throughout Europe and on to North America, Central America, the also to the West African coast, India, and the Philippines. There were dozens of other intra-Christian religious wars the seeds of which began to sprout shortly after the death of Jesus Christ.
The Encyclopedia of Wars, by authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, estimate that only 7% of the 1,783 wars they chronicled involve religion. Lebanon is one of these and is still mired in a cold war phase of its 15 year (1975-90) Civil War, from which Lebanon yet to recover. Religious differences are one of the major causes on Lebanon’s many problems today and it is within this context that the mushrooming intra-Muslim war between Sunni and Shia is spreading and intensifying. Sunni comprise approximately 90% percent of the followers of Islam and their increasingly vilified coreligionists, Shia Muslims, 10%. This month Lebanon’s Shia are commemorating Ashoura and the martyrdom of Imam Hussein Ibn Ali at the battle of Karbala in 680 under increased security with additional checkpoints manned by the Lebanese army and Hezbollah forces because Da’ish and al Nursa have announced their intent to target the Shia worshipers.
Many among Lebanon’s older Sunni and Shia generation, report that as youngsters they were not aware of Shia-Sunni antagonisms nor did they harbor animosity with their neighbors. Sometimes inter-marrying, sharing holidays and developing strong friendships with each other. “That is all changed now, perhaps until End Times” according to an employee at Beirut’s Dar al Fatwa in the mixed neighborhood of Aisha Bikar near the American University of Beirut.
The gentleman and his colleague elaborated:
“Everyone alive today in Lebanon and for many generations to come will have their family’s lives negatively affected by the rapidly spreading sectarian hostility. The Sunni-Shia hatred is poisonous—it’s the new political Ebola virus! Can it be eradicated? How can we stop it from engulfing the Middle East or has it already done so?” Another added, “And forget about the Christians! In a few years’ time there will probably not be enough of them left in the Middle East to matter.”
To this observer, the spiraling sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia in Lebanon appears to be coming mainly from Sunni groups and militia who vent a laundry list of complaints against their fellow Muslims. Many but not all stemming from Hezbollah’s involvement in the civil war still raging across the anti-Lebanon mountain range to the east.
Members of the two Muslim sects have co-existed for centuries and share many fundamental beliefs and practices. But there are Sunni-Shia differences in doctrine, ritual, law, theology and religious organization and are based in part over a political dispute soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad over who should lead the Muslim community. Sunni Muslims regard themselves as the orthodox and traditionalist branch of Islam and adhere to traditions and practices based on precedent or reports of the actions of the Prophet Muhammad and those close to him. Sunnis venerate all the prophets mentioned in the Koran, but particularly Muhammad as the final prophet. In early Islamic history the Shia were a political faction – literally “Shiat Ali” or the party of Ali and they claimed the right of Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and his descendants to lead the Islamic community.
In Sunni ruled countries, for hundreds of years Shias made up the poorest sections of society and today many view themselves as victims of discrimination and oppression as some extremist Sunni doctrines continue to preach hatred of Shia. Some argue that the Shia-Sunni Bellum Sacrum is more political than religious. If true, the mutually destructive conflict now intensifying in Lebanon would share much in common with other religious wars which were basically political conflicts justified in the name of religion. Iran which supports some Shia militias beyond its borders is in conflict with some Sunni countries, especially regional neighbors who support Sunni militia. Lebanon’s hemmed population-Sunni and Shia has been put in a difficult situation caught up also in spill-over from the Syrian civil war. Teheran’s policy of supporting Shia militias and parties beyond its borders is essentially matched by the Sunni Gulf states with Shia and Sunni leaders often seem to be in competition as the latter continue to strengthen their links to Sunni governments and movements abroad.
Lebanon is paying a big price. Lawmakers failed on 10/29/2014 for the fifteenth time to elect a new president over a lack of quorum at parliament they will “try again” on 11/19/2014 with likely the same result because those holding power want a deadlock. Only 54 members out the 128 in Parliament showed up, well short of a quorum. The others were instructed to boycott by their parties, including the pro-Hezbollah Change and Reform and Loyalty to the Resistance blocs of the March 8 alliance. Their motive, their opponents the pro-Saudi March 14 alliance claim are purely political. The latest failed session was also boycotted by Speaker Nabih Berri, the Shia leader of the pro- Bashar Assad, Amal militia with Berri insisting he is simply trying to encourage ‘dialogue”.
“It has never been this bad” explains the proprietor of a neighborhood grocery store, agreeing with ever more of his fellow countrymen, as now opening curses both sides in public.
A few brief examples from the past week illustrate the rapidly intensifying Sunni-Shia clash.
As the Hezbollah continues boycotting Parliamentary electoral sessions due to disagreements with the mainly Sunni March 14 camp over a compromise presidential candidate. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, himself a presidential candidate, this week accused Hezbollah of “blocking Parliament in to order to blackmail political blocs into electing, their puppet, Michel Aoun.” Aoun who is as anti-Palestinian as Geagea is, denies media speculation “ that the ongoing obstruction is no longer a political maneuver, but an attempt to target Lebanon’s political system,”
Hezbollah is also being accused of joining the Syrian war and sacrificing Lebanese young men while killing many innocent Syrians solely on orders from Tehran. According to one March 14th Member of Parliament, “No one believes, not even the Hezbollah leadership that Hezbollah is fighting in Syria to protect Lebanon whose people are paying a big price for their adventure. “ Sunni opponents of Shia Hezbollah, including the spokesman for the March 14th alliance claim that “terrorists” or the so-called ‘Takfiries” would never have come to Lebanon if Hezbollah had not invaded Syria and started killing Sunni.”
The largely Sunni families of the 27 captive troops and policemen being held for ransom by the al-Nursa front are blaming Hezbollah and the Shia leader of Lebanon’s Internal Security Force, (ISF) Major-General Abbas Ibrahim, for not acting seriously to negotiate their loved ones release from captivity for purely sectarian reasons. On 10/30/14 the families threatened again to escalate their protests and have been burning tires at the Riad al-Solh Square in downtown Beirut while their relatives captors, al-Nusra Front, in increasingly setting up sleeper cells and advocating for the Sunni community in Lebanon is also accusing the ISF director of not being serious are obtaining the release of Sunni captives.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame University – Louaize and Saint Joseph University decided this week to suspend student elections for the current academic year as sectarianism spreads. “The political and security situation in Lebanon, which could impact the campus, will not allow the students to practice their democratic role positively,” USJ board of members said in a statement. Religion is a factor in this conflict also according to campus security guards on the scene trying to maintain order.
The United Nations has warned again this week that foreign religiously motivated jihadists are swarming into the twin conflicts in Iraq and Syria on “an unprecedented scale and some with religious motives and from countries that had not previously contributed combatants to global terrorism”. More than 1,500 foreign fighters are streaming into Syria each month, a rate that has increased since US airstrikes against Da’ish (Isis) began last month (9/23/14). The trend line established over the past year would mean that the total number of foreign fighters in Syria exceeds 16,000, and the pace eclipses that of any comparable conflict in recent decades, including the 1980s war in Afghanistan. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights just announced that 560 people have been killed in airstrikes since they began. That group counted 32 civilian deaths, including six children and five women.
The Pentagon estimates that each of the more than 600 US airstrikes in Syria and Iraq costs the American taxpayer approximately $ 9 million which given the claimed “kill count” means each death costs roughly $ 1.4 million each, militiamen or civilians. The rate of jihadists arriving just in Syria, again according to the Pentagon, were 12,000 in July, and 7,000 in March. But other US government’s estimates for just Syria put the jihadist arrival figures at currently 1,500 each month with the numbers accelerating and increasing coming to Lebanon. There are higher estimates according to U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights who rank “Democracy Success Story and Arab Spring Winner” Tunisia as the country contributing the most jihadists currently arriving in the Levant.
As noted above, many of the religiously motivated jihadists are coming to Lebanon, especially up north near Tripoli which has seen heavy fighting between Sunni and Shia backed militia. If one credits their social media, several want to fight Hezbollah which they often label the “Party of Satan” and “Iran’s militia.”
On 10/30/13 Saudi National Guard Minister Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, directing his comments to the KSA’s arch foe Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nassrallah proclaimed that “The parties embracing terrorism in the region have become well-known.” Within minutes Saudi media outlets open with commentary and statements like those currently appearing in Lebanese media outlets such as Naharnet: “Yes those supporting terrorism they are the same who killed Rafik el Hariri and the remaining M14 leaders. They are the same who refuse to abide by Lebanese justice and deliver the accused/witness for investigations, they are the same who in order to remain in power, decide to destroy their country and kill their people and allow a huge inflow of terrorist into their land to show a worse alternative.”
Sentiments shared by some in the Sunni community who, unlike during the years following the 2006 July war, and Hezbollah’s widely acknowledged success against the Zionist regime still occupying Palestine, are no longer reluctant to criticize openly Shia Muslims generally and Hezbollah specifically.
Where this all ends is anyone’s guess but a ceasefire in the Syrian conflict, even limited area by area as Washington, Tehran and Moscow are discussing would perhaps help—or, as various analysts and some serious scholars postulate, the latest Sunni-Shia manifestation of Bellum Sacrum may take a long time to control if not resolve. Tens of years or centuries they advise only time will tell.
“French aircraft were due to begin their first reconnaissance flights over Iraq,” France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced on September 15. Britain is already flying reconnaissance missions over Iraq. Several other countries – Arab ones included – say they are willing to support the air campaign. None seem interested in pledging any ground troops, however.
“Well, you will hear from Secretary Kerry on this over the coming days. And what he has said is that others have suggested that they’re willing to do that. But we’re not looking for that right now,” Chief of Staff Denis McDonough waffled on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, September 14. “We’re trying to put together the specifics of what we expect from each of the members,” he added, which is one way of saying the United States is finding it hard to persuade other countries to provide ground forces – something the self-designed leader of the “coalition” is unwilling to do. Also on “Meet the Press” James Baker noted that the biggest problem “of course, is who are our, quote, ‘partners on the ground’ that the president referred to in his speech. And I don’t know where they come from.” Let it be noted that Baker put forth an ad-hoc strategic plan that was, in fact, far better than the one outlined by Obama. He suggested joining forces with China, Russia, Iran, Syria and others, following a non-UN-sponsored international conference of genuine international leaders.
There are no “partners on the ground” for now, and those that the Administration wants to groom for the role are worse than none: McDonough conceded that ground troops are needed, “that’s why we want this program to train the [Syrian] opposition that’s currently pending in Congress.” In my curtain-raiser on President Obama’s much-heralded speech of September 10, posted two days before he delivered it (“Obama’s Non-Strategy”), I warned that he – disastrously – still counts on the non-existent “moderate rebels” in Syria to come on board, and still refuses to talk to Bashar al-Assad, whose army is the only viable force capable of confronting the IS now and for many years to come. In short, “he has no plan to systematically degrade the IS capabilities, no means to shrink the territory that they control, and certainly no strategy to defeat them.”
Obama’s address to the nation on September 10 confirmed all of the above, but it also contained numerous non sequiturs, falsehoods, and delusional assertions that need to be addressed one by one. (The President’s words are in italics.)
I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
This is an audacious statement of intent: not what the U.S. and America’s unnamed “friends and allies” will try to do, but what they will do to destroy an effective fighting force of some 30,000 fanatical jihadists at the time of this writing, and rapidly rising – an army, in fact, which is well armed and equipped, solvent, and highly motivated. Regardless of the coherence of Obama’s proposed methods – more of that later – what he announced is the beginning of yet another open-ended Middle Eastern war in which the United States will be fully committed and in which the “job” will not be considered “done” until and unless the IS is “destroyed.” Newt Gingrich is already salivating at the prospect of America spending “half of a century or more hunting down radicals, growing reliable self-governing allies, and convincing friends and neutrals to be anti-radical.” This nightmare is good news – at home – only for the military-industrial complex, and abroad for the jihadists of all color and hue. “Half a century or more” of such idiocy can only accelerate this country’s road to bankruptcy, financial as well as moral.
Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Osama bin Laden’s death did not make one scintilla of difference. Al Qaeda’s (AQ) leadership is not a snake but a hydra: you can “take out” a hundred of its leaders today, and another hundred will take their place tomorrow. Successfully killing scores or thousandsof jihadists should not be confused with winning against jihad. More importantly – and Obama seems to be oblivious to the fact – al Qaeda is not a hierarchical organization, but a state of mind and a blueprint for action. Its non-affiliates, too – in Nigeria, Libya, Syria, the Philippines, Kashmir etc. – follow the same guiding principles and seek the same millenarian objectives. As any counterterrorism expert can tell you, “targeted” drone killings are doing more damage than good by angering local populations – which suffer “collateral damage” – thus providing an inexhaustible pool of fresh recruits for the jihadists (quite apart from legal and moral considerations).
We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia.
It is breathtaking that Obama should imply that Yemen and Somalia are his administration’s success stories that should be emulated in the campaign against the IS. As Nicholas Kristof noted in The New York Times, “Obama may be the only person in the world who would cite conflict-torn Yemen and Somalia as triumphs.”
Yemen is an ever-growing hotbed of terrorist activity regardless of (and more likely partly due to) more than 100 American airstrikes since 2002, which killed some 500 militants and over a hundred civilians. (When Yemeni kids are disobedient, their parents have a new tool of enforcing discipline: “A big American drone will come and get you!”) The Department of state admitted in its most recent worldwide terrorism report that “of the AQ affiliates, AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) continues to pose the most significant threat to the United States and U.S. citizens and interests in Yemen.” Its success, according to the report, is “due to an ongoing political and security restructuring within the government itself” [i.e. no effective government and no reliable security forces]. “AQAP continued to exhibit its capability by targeting government installations and security and intelligence officials, but also struck at soft targets, such as hospitals,” and it continues to expand territory under its control. Somalia is an utterly failed state with no functioning government, and al-Shabaab’s terrorist base from which complex operations are launched against soft targets in neighboring countries (notably last year’s attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall, which killed at least 67 people).
If this is the model for the anti-IS campaign, then even a century of Newt’s “hunting down radicals, growing reliable self-governing allies, and convincing friends and neutrals to be anti-radical” will be a fiasco – albeit on an infinitely grander scale.
We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.
The fruits of the war in Iraq are all too visible. It cannot be stated often enough that America’s war against Saddam – who never threatened the United States, and opposed Islamic terrorism – produced the IS, which is now treated as an existential threat which requires another American war to eliminate.
In Afghanistan the Taliban is well poised to make a comeback one, two, at most three years after the end of the American combat mission. It is able to carry out attacks in the center of the capital, Kabul, the latest of which – on September 16 – killed three members of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. Safer, indeed.
Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.
This is surreal. Obama may have been born and raised a Muslim, but he claims not to be a Muslim now; it is therefore as preposterous for him to pass judgments on the Islamic bona fides of Muslim entities as it would be for the Saudi king to decide whether the Orange Order of Ulster or the Episcopal Church are “Christian” (a purely technical parallel, of course). In any event, Obama’s theological credentials were established with clarity in the aftermath of James Foley’s beheading by the IS, when he declared (also in the context of absolving Islam of any connection with the IS) that “no just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day.” Since they did what they did, this unambiguous statement means that – in Obama’s opinion – either there is no God, or God is not just.
Contrary to Obama’s assurances, Islam does condone the killing of infidels (non-Muslims) and apostates (Shiites) – they are not “innocents” by definition. And of course Muslims have been killing other Muslims – often on a massive scale – ever since three of the four early caliphs, Muhammad’s immediate successors, were murdered by their Muslim foes. It is immaterial whether ISIS is true to “Islam” as Obama chooses to define it. It is undeniable that it is true to the principles and practices of historical Islam.
Obama either does not know what he is talking about, or he is practicing a variety of taqiyya. As Nonie Darwish put it bluntly in the American Thinker on September 12, Obama does not want to go down in history as the one who destroyed and extinguished the dream of resurrecting the Islamic State. Under his watch Islam was placed on a pedestal and that helped revive the Islamic dream of the Caliphate:
Muslims felt that Obama was their man, under whom they had a chance to achieve their powerful Islamic state. Obama himself was not happy with the military takeover and destruction of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Jihadist ambition had to move away from Egypt to war-torn Syria and Iraq. For more than two years, Islamists have carried out flagrant and barbaric mass terrorism – beheadings, torture, kidnapping, and sexual slavery of women, men, and children. Obama ignored the problem until it blew up in our faces with the beheading of two Americans.
Even if he could defeat ISIS, Darwish argues, that would turn him into an infidel enemy number one of Islam – one who supported Muslims in their dream of the Caliphate by looking the other way, only to later crush it. Obama therefore cannot be honest about this dilemma regarding ISIS; “a dilemma between his duty to the USA, the country he chose to lead, and his dream of becoming the hero of the Muslim World who taught the West a lesson on how to treat Muslims. Obama will not obliterate ISIS but will contain it, as he said. He will eventually kick the can to the next administration, not only because he hates wars as he claims, but because he does not want to be enemy number one of Islam and the Muslims.” That is Obama’s dirty little secret that explains his paralysis before ISIS, Darwish concludes: “Ironically, the man who claimed to have healed the relationship between the West and the Muslim world will go down in history as the one who helped the rise and the bloody fall of the Islamic State and perhaps America itself.”
And ISIL is certainly not a state… It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates.
Obama does not know the feelings of some ten million people under IS control. Many of those who did not cherish life under its black banner have already fled to Damascus, Baghdad, or Erbil. There is no doubt that it is successful in attracting thousands upon thousands of new recruits every month. And as I wrote in the current issue of Chronicles, the Caliphate is a “state” whether we like it or not:
Traditional international law postulates the possession of population, of territory, and the existence of a government that exercises effective control over that population and territory: a state exists if it enjoys a monopoly on coercive mechanisms within its domain, which the caliphate does. After all, unrecognized state entities such as Transnistria, Abkhazia, Northern Cyprus, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh command their denizens’ overwhelming loyalty and exercise effectively undisputed control over their entire territory. Some international jurists may cite the ability of the self-proclaimed state’s authority to engage in international discourse, but that is a moot point. The capacity to control a putative state’s territory and population almost invariably leads to such ability, regardless of the circumstances of that state’s inception: South Sudan is a recent case in point, and the creation of Israel in 1947 also comes to mind.
ISIS controls an area the size of Montana in northeastern Syria and western and northwestern Iraq. It has substantial funds at its disposal, initially given it by the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Turks, Qataris, Bahrainis, UAE donors, et al., and augmented to the tune of half a billion dollars looted from the Iraqi government vaults in Mosul and Tikrit. It is effective in collecting taxes, tolls, and excise duties. With no debts or liabilities, the existing stash and ongoing cash flow makes the emerging Caliphate more solvent than dozens of states currently represented in the UN. It has enough oil and derivatives not only for its own needs, but also to earn the foreign exchange needed to buy all the food and other goods it needs from abroad.
ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple.
It is not that (see above). This statement reflects a conceptual delusion which ab initio cannot provide the basis for a sound strategy. Obama’s own State Department declared as far back as July 23 that “ISIL is no longer simply a terrorist organization” – or at least that is what Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran, told a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on that day. “It is now a full-blown army seeking to establish a self-governing state through the Tigris and Euphrates Valley in what is now Syria and Iraq.”
And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.
It does have a vision. That vision is eminently Islamic in its millenarian strategic objectives, in its tactics, and in its methods. It is no more utopian than Obama’s vision of an “indispensable” America, which – as he put it at the very end of his speech – stands for “freedom, justice and dignity,” an America which defends those “timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.”
In its self-proclaimed status as a caliphate, the IS claims – in principle – religious authority over all Muslims in the world, and ultimately aspires to bring all Muslim-inhabited lands of the world under its political control. Last June ISIS published a document which announced that “the legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the khilafah’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas.” It rejects the political divisions established by Western powers in the Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1917. Its self-declared immediate-to-medium-term goal is to conquer Iraq, Syria and other parts of al-Sham – the loosely-defined Levant region – including Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and southeastern Turkey. It is a bold, even audacious vision, but a vision it most certainly is.
In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide.
There is absolutely nothing “unique” in the IS fighters’ brutality. They are only following the example of their prophet. Muhammad executed Meccan prisoners after the battle of Badr in 624AD. He condoned the killing of women and children besieged in Ta’if in 630. He and his followers enslaved, raped and forced into marriage Jewish women after he massacred the men of the Jewish tribes of Banu Qurayzain 627 and Banu Nadir in 629. He even “married” one of the captured Banu Nadir women, Safiyya bint Huyayy captured after the men Banu Nadir were massacred. He did not “threaten” the Jews of the Arabian peninsula with genocide, he carried that genocide so thoroughly that not a trace of them remains to this day. Christians living in the IS who want to remain in the “caliphate” face three options according to IS officials: converting to Islam, paying a religious tax (jizya), or “the sword.” This choice is as conventionally Islamic as it gets, having been stipulated many times in the Quran and hadith.
But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. That’s why I’ve insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days… I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.
The would-be coalition of Sunni Muslim “partners” includes those who had been aiding and abetting ISIS for years, and who have neither the will nor the resources to fight it. As I wrote here last week, those countries’ military forces are unable to confront an enemy which consists of highly motivated light infantry, knows the terrain, enjoys considerable popular support, and operates in small motorized formations:
On the basis of its poor showing in Yemen it is clear that the Saudis in particular are no better than the Iraqi army which performed so miserably last June. Even when united in their overall strategic objectives, Arab armies are notoriously unable to develop integrated command and control systems – as was manifested in 1947-48, in the Seven-Day War of 1967, and in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Their junior officers are discouraged from making independent tactical decisions by their inept superiors who hate delegating authority. Both are, inevitably, products of a culture steeped in strictly hierarchical modes of thought and action. Furthermore, their expensive hardware integrated into hard to maneuver brigade-sized units is likely to be useless against an elusive enemy who will avoid pitched battles.
An additional unresolved problem is Turkey, which is staying aloof and will not allow even U.S. facilities in its territory to be used for the air campaign. Erdogan is definitely not a “partner,” and Turkey continues to tolerate steady recruiting of ISIS volunteers in its territory as well as the passage of foreign jihadists across the 550-mile borderit shares with Syria and Iraq.
The most important problem in creating a coalition with Obama’s “Arab partners” is religious, however. The leaders of all Sunni Arab countries and Turkey are well aware that, contrary to Obama’s claims, ISIS is a Muslim group firmly rooted in the teachings and practices of orthodox Sunni Islam. They are loath to ally themselves with the kuffar in fighting those who want to fulfill the divine commandment to strive to create the Sharia-based universal caliphate. Those leaders are for the most part serious believers, and they do not want to go to hell.
Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy. First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts … so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.
The Shia-dominated Iraqi army is not to be counted upon, as attested by its flight from Mosul, and it cannot be counted upon to cooperate with the armed forces of the overtly anti-Shia regimes, even if in the fullness of time they provided ground troops. The Kurdish pershmerga also would be loath to treat Saudis or Qataris as brothers-in-arms. Even if they were capable of major operations, which they are not, both the Iraqi army and the peshmerga would be perceived by the Sunni Arab majority in northwestern Iraq as an occupying force with the predictable result that the “caliphate” could count on thousands of fresh volunteers. Obama’s “regional allies” could end up helping their Sunni coreligionists fight the Shia “apostates.” They regard the IS in western Iraq and northeastern Syria as a welcome buffer against the putative Shia crescent extending from Iran to the Lebanese coast. As for the “Iraqi forces,” they are devoid of any offensive potential now and that will not change for years to come.
Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition… In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its people; a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.
“The Syrian opposition” is ideologically indistinguishable from the IS, militarily ineffective, internally divided, and far keener to renew its stalled fight against Bashar al-Assad than to fight the Caliphate. America’s would-be “coalition” partners have indirectly indicated that they are aware of this fact: several mentioned Iraq when announcing the proposed military measures last Monday, but none made any mention of the challenge next door.
Obama’s present heavy reliance on the “Syrian opposition” is at odds with his own doubts about its viability, which were openly expressed in an interview with New York Times’s Tom Friedman only a month earlier:
“With ‘respect to Syria,’ said the president, the notion that arming the rebels would have made a difference has ‘always been a fantasy. This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.’”
Now, however, Obama is rejecting cooperation with Damascus – the only realist course with any chance of success – and is relying on a “fantasy” scenario to create some boots on the ground. No lessons have been drawn from Libya’s collapse into bloody anarchy, or from the failure of America’s decade-long effort to train and equip the Iraqi army, which disintegrated when faced with the IS three months ago. Such fiascos notwithstanding, Obama wants to build up a Syrian rebel force as one of the pillars of his strategy – that same force of which he said to Friedman on August 8 that “there’s not as much capacity as you would hope.”
We will continue providing humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.
“Tens of thousands of Christians” is a hundred-fold reduction of the magnitude of the problem that long-suffering community has faced in the region since the start of the Iraqi war in 2003. Obama’s statement is the exact numerical and moral equivalent to saying that “hundreds of thousands of European Jews” were at grave risk at the time of the Wannsee conference. As Peggy Noonan wrote the other day in the Wall Street Journal, “genocide” is the right word to describe the plight of the region’s Christians, noting that “for all his crimes and failings, Syria’s justly maligned Assad was not attempting to crush his country’s Christians. His enemies were – the jihadists, including those who became the Islamic State.” As well as those, let us add, who are now being groomed by the President of the United States to fight the Islamic State. No wonder he is deliberately and cynically minimizing the plight of his protégés’ Christian victims.
This is our strategy.
Lord have mercy!
This is American leadership at its best: we stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.
My Administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL.
This is disputable. Obama refers to the authorization originally concerning action against al-Qaeda, treating as a blank check for starting a new war of unknown magnitude and duration.
This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.
Deja-vu all over again. On the grimly positive note, more Yemeni and Somali-like “successes” may be needed to accelerate America’s eventual return home.
America is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on Earth.
It would be a cliché to state that Obama is either deluded or stunningly cynical. He is both, of course, I’d say roughly 60:40.
Our technology companies and universities are unmatched; our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history.
Cringe again: tasteless, self-serving inanities that have nothing to do with ISIS or strategy. Obama’s psychopatic narcissism trumps that of the Clintons, impossible as it may have seemed.
Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists.
“The world,” indeed, minus Russia, China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Iran, South Africa, and scores of lesser powers on all continents (save Australia) which have the capacity and the will to reject Obama’s audacious and increasingly absurd notions of global leadership.
It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. It is America – our scientists, our doctors, our know-how – that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so they cannot pose a threat to the Syrian people – or the world – again.
There is no “Russian aggression,” and “the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny” was brazenly undermined by the State Department/CIA-engineered coup d’etat in Kiev last February. It is preposterous for Obama to take credit for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons – it was Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic coup which got Obama off the hook when Congress and the public at large expressed their opposition to the intended bombing of Syria. But yes, American scientists and doctors definitely “can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola.” That was the only true statement in Obama’s address. Its relevance to his anti-IS strategy is unclear.
And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance, and a more hopeful future.
… especially in places like Marseilles, Antwerp, Malmo, Dortmund, and Dearborn, Michigan.
America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia – from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East – we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding.
Obama wouldn’t know the founding values if they hit him in the head. He is the worst president of the United States in history after all. That is no mean feat, considering the competition.
In almost every country in the world where America’s notorious “Wall Street and War Street” gang of thugs have tampered and interfered with its internal workings, things have always turned out badly for each country involved. Almost every country that this infamous WSx2 gang has tampered with so far has pretty much seen their way of life turn to dookie. http://truth-out.org/opinion/
You want some examples? I’ve got them!
Take the Spanish-American War for instance. Wall Street and War Street drummed our country into that war with their torrid yellow journalism, and as a result both Cuba and the Philippines were so devastated and destroyed that they are still trying to recover from it — and from being muscled around afterwards by WSx2’s mob bosses Batista and the shoe lady.
During World War I, Britain, France and the Kaiser were all sick of fighting and pretty much ready to throw in the towel and make nice. But then Woodrow Wilson got a bee in his bonnet over the forged Zimmerman telegram (the Wall Street and War Street gang at work again?) and forced America to join in the fight by suspending freedom of speech, curbing civil liberties, muzzling the press and sending even mild dissenters to jail for years. http://www.amazon.com/The-
In Congo, Wall Street and War Street destabilized that country completely when they overthrew Patrice Lumumba. Over ten million dead since then. Ten million.
Iran used to be a democracy until the CIA, aka Wall Street and War Street’s dread enforcer, tampered and interfered.
In Haiti, Papa Doc and his dread Tonton Macoute invited the Marines to come join the party and Wall Street and War Street immediately sent their RSVP to this gala zombie jamboree, giving ordinary Haitians nightmares for decades. Then WS&WS hung around for the after-party, the bloody and illegal ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
I swear, I’m not making this stuff up! Don’t believe me? Go Google it yourself.
Iraq used to be a democracy too — until the WSWS gang installed Saddam Hussein. And then they deposed him too, scoring themselves a trillion dollars worth of “vig” in the process.
Vietnam? We all know what happened there. “3.1 million violent war deaths.”
Cambodia? Millions dead in what used to be a sweet and lovely country. A whole country suffering from PTSD, thanks to tampering by the US military-industrial complex, who just couldn’t keep their bombers and bombs in their jeans.
The Arab nations of the Middle East used to be friends with America before Wall Street and War Street started using Israel as a wedge. Now nobody over there likes us — not even the Israelis. http://www.blackagendareport.
“Humanitarian intervention” in Libya by WSx2 was yet another disaster, even worse than when Al Capone took over Chicago. Libya today is officially a “Failed State”.
And now the WSWS gang that can’t shoot straight is using its buddies in ISIS as an excuse to interfere and overthrow Syria’s legitimate government under Bashar Assad. And despite all the New York Times’ incredibly false lies that Assad and ISIS are buddies, the real truth is that Assad is the only obstacle standing in the way of Syria becoming just yet another WSx2 Failed State. http://www.globalresearch.ca/
Does Turkey really want to have a failed state overrun by crazies right across its border? I think not.
Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan? The label of “Failed State” is hovering over their heads too, thanks to WS&WS.
And let’s not forget Latin America. Chile was almost destroyed after the CIA and Kissinger interfered. Honduras today is a killing field, with men. women and children being butchered like cattle by Wall Street and War Street’s government of choice. And the terms “Death Squad” and “The Disappeared” came into popular use in Central America under Reagan’s watch.
Ah, Ronald Reagan, the WSx2’s best friend. And the dread John Negroponte was its chief henchman and capo. He still is. Just check out his current efforts to interfere in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. He just loves him some snipers — firing at both peaceful protestors and police until war erupts. It’s a wonder he hasn’t tried that in Ferguson too. Or maybe he has.
Tiny Grenada was ruthlessly (and illegally) invaded in 1983 — even Margaret Thatcher and the Queen were pissed off! And today Grenada’s foreign debts equal 35 percent of its GDP and Red China is paying for its cricket pitches. Yet another WSx2 interference failure. Yawn.
And Mexico, another victim of becoming close compadres with WS/WS, has now become the drug-lord capital of the world. Er, maybe not. Perhaps Columbia holds that title. Or is it Afghanistan? I’m confused. Burma? Wall Street and War Street would know for sure. http://www.telesurtv.net/
Panama’s democratic leader was assassinated https://www.youtube.com/watch?
In central Asia, Charlie Wilson viciously fought to support WS-WS’s right to tamper with Afghanistan’s fate — and look how badly that interference turned out, handing Afghanistan to Al Qaeda and the Taliban on a platter.
And Europe wasn’t spared any WSWS gang-related action either. Take Ukraine for instance. Do Americans even know what horrors are being perpetrated there in our name by WS&WS even at this very moment? Gangland-style murders, extortion, turf wars, goons, thugs, the works. You don’t even want to know.
Wall Street and War Street happily tampered with Yugoslavia. Years of killing resulted. http://original.antiwar.com/
And even Ronald Reagan’s greatest tampering triumph on behalf of the Wall & War Boys, the fall of the USSR, resulted in dookie. With Gorbachev gone, the poor Russians were stuck with heartless oligarchs and drunken Yeltsin — and they died by the thousands from cold and starvation as a result. But, fortunately, Putin today is much better than that. And so WSx2 hates him.
I started out trying to write all these horrors down in chronological order, but now I’m just writing them all down willy-nilly because there are so many examples floating around in my brain right now of WSx2 tampering that has turned into dog poop for the countries involved, that I am totally overwhelmed.
Let’s look at Egypt next. It’s gone from Nasser, the people’s choice, to military despots like Mubarak and Sisi, thanks to WSx2. Yuck. Please give me a moment here to hold my nose.
And the Wall Street and War Street gang also propped up that brutal fascist apartheid regime in South Africa and Angola — just as they are currently propping up that brutal fascist apartheid regime in Israel now. For example, when Americans picketed the Port of Oakland the other day, to prevent an Israeli ship from unloading its cargo there, in protest of Netanyahu’s brutal slaughter of women and children in Gaza, over a hundred police showed up to help protect the Israeli ship — not the protesters. http://www.mercurynews.com/
And speaking of fascists, there is always Saudi Arabia to consider. http://www.lewrockwell.com/
But the most disastrous tampering of all has occurred when Wall Street and War Street turned its deadly sights on interfering back home, right here in America. The result for us? Just look around you. At your jobs, your infrastructure, your schools, your healthcare, your militarized police, your disappearing freedom of speech, your rigged elections, your lying media, your hate. https://www.facebook.com/
The Wall Street & War Street Gang needs to stop screwing with our world and zip up its pants. And we true patriotic Americans need to make them.
In this article, I had first wanted to claim that America’s military-industrial complex has shed more blood in the last 53 years than anyone else in the history of the world, even Attila the Hun! But then I remembered World War I and World War II in all their grisly splendor. At the battle of Verdun alone, approximately 300,000 people died brutal and violent deaths. And at Hiroshima, there were approximately 100,000 dead. However, my point here is still legit — that American taxpayers have been paying for a whole big bunch of bloodshed during the last 53 years.
Approximately seven trillion dollars worth of human blood.
Seven trillion dollars can certainly buy you a whole lot of bloodshed. Rivers and oceans of blood. “Attila the Hun would be so-o-o jealous!” Let’s just look at the record.
It all started way back on January 17, 1961, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower very urgently and emphatically warned all of us — publicly on black-and-white TV — about the extreme dangers of allowing a massive military-industrial complex to keep growing larger and larger in America.
“In the councils of government,” President Eisenhower warned us, ” we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?
And nobody in America listened. I repeat. Nobody listened.
Shortly thereafter, Robert McNamara invented the bloody Vietnam war. And Americans happily let McNamara, President Johnson and Congress get away with it. Enough said about that. http://www.smirkingchimp.com/
Next came all those made-in-America mini-slaughters that took place in — I forget where. East Timor? Guatemala? Chile? Grenada? South Africa? Lebanon? Iran? Haiti? Nicaragua? The Philippines? Yeah, right, that was Reagan. And all funded by American taxpayers. All involving a whole big bunch of blood. Red Cross blood banks would have loved to have had that many donors!
Then George H.W. Bush trumped up that stupid Gulf War which killed thousands of Iraqis. Then Clinton tried to out-do Pappy Bush by killing hundreds of thousands more Iraqis with sanctions (400,00 dead children), followed by the Kosovo slaughters (6,000 dead from NATO bombings). “Not my fault!” cried Clinton. “We were only trying to stop more blood from being shed.” You just keep telling yourself that.
Then there was Afghanistan back in 2001. And Afghanistan is still bleeding. A lot. Attila would be uber-jealous!
But then the American military-industrial complex really got down to business in Iraq in 2003. Lots of slaughter. Brutality. Blood running in the streets like water. Think Fallugah. Think Baghdad burning. And you can’t even blame Baby Bush for that one either — he was just an unthinking pawn of Wall Street and War Street (but of course I do blame GWB anyway. Why isn’t that man in jail?).
One million dead on Bush Jr’s watch? That’s a war crime almost in the same league with Stalin and Hitler. Stalin and Hitler too would be jealous.
And wasn’t there a whole big bunch of unnecessary and brutal blood shed in Libya recently too? Benghazi comes to mind. We gotta thank President Obama for that one — just following orders from the military-industrial complex. “We are in a recession. War is good for business.” Especially if there is blood involved. And there was lots of blood involved in Libya when NATO illegally overturned Gaddafi.
And Libya to this day is still bleeding out. http://www.theguardian.com/
By now, America has not only turned Attila the Hun green with envy — but also Count Dracula and the entire cast of “True Blood”.
Red is such a lovely color, don’t you think? You had better. After all, you are paying for it — instead of for schools and hospitals and infrastructure and jobs and whatever. You had better like the color of blood a lot. It’s basically all we have left.
But then on the other hand, we are all such red-blooded Americans that clearly most of us have never even stopped to think for one minute that perhaps all this blood-shed just might be immoral and wrong. “We are Christians! Christians shed blood. It’s what we do,” Americans cry. Jesus wept.
And then America’s military-industrial complex went on to encourage, weaponize and train ISIS to kill a whole big bunch more women and children in Syria — in a stupid, unnecessary invasion of a country that was pretty much minding its own business (140,000 now dead in Syria, 7,000 of them children).
“They may have minded their business over in Syria, but they weren’t minding our business — and our business is war!” screamed Wall Street and War Street. And boy are these guys ever good at the business of war. Eisenhower nailed it!
And we American taxpayers get to pay for this brand new blood supply too. And pay. And pay. And pay.
In Ukraine, the blood also now runs like wine — and this vintage is being paid for by American taxpayers too. Of course. “2014 is a very good year for blood!” And the American military-industrial complex paid five billion of our U.S. dollars to Ukrainian neo-Nazis to get this blood-bath to start brewing last February. “A very good year.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?
In Ukraine, everybody remembers Attila.
And guess what else? “Attila, Dracula and even Eric Northman will be happy to know that we’ve found a whole new blood bank over in Gaza!” And it is costing U.S. taxpayers a whole lot more blood-money too. “Yippee!”
Now Attila’s rotting skull would be practically grinning in its grave — except for one thing. Jealousy. “That blood-sucking Netanyahu is trying to take over my reputation!” screams Attila’s ghost.
“I’ve killed more people on my List,” brags Netanyahu, “than that punk Oskar Schindler ever even thought about saving on his!” And here’s Netanyahu’s List to prove it: http://english.al-akhbar.com/
“What do you think this is, Attila? Some kind of game show where the contestant who spills the most blood wins?” Nope, not at all. You may have slaughtered more civilians back in the day, bossy-pants, but Netanyahu-the-Hun has done it with more flash and charm. Anyone can wield a sword and ride a horse — but it takes real panache to vaporize 373 little kids by just pushing a button.
“But Gaza has a right to defend itself!” some bleeding-heart liberals might say at this point. Talk to the hand.
The American military-industrial complex has the God-given right to shed blood anywhere in the world that it wants to — in any invasion, covert action, “war” or proxy war that it chooses. And to use our money to do it with too. “Brutality Gone Wild!” is the name of this reality show. Get over it, Attila.
PS: During its last 53 seasons of continuous production, the American military-industrial complex’s big hit reality show, “Brutality Gone Wild,” has been out on location, shedding blood everywhere on the planet so far — except for only one place that has been left unbloodied. You guessed it. “America.”
Attila the Hun never really had time to discover the New World, but not to worry. The guys who run Wall Street and War Street now know where we live too. And that we still have a whole big bunch of un-shed blood to tap into here as well. “Soon, very soon, it will be time to bring it all back home!” they cry at night from their crypts deep in the bowels of New York and Washington. “Bottoms up!”
And don’t say that you haven’t been warned — since way back in 1961.
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 email@example.com.
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