The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to supervise construction of a five-story underground facility for an Israel Defense Forces complex, oddly named “Site 911,” at an Israeli Air Force base near Tel Aviv.
Expected to take more than two years to build, at a cost of up to $100 million, the facility is to have classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3, a laboratory, shock-resistant doors, protection from nonionizing radiation and very tight security. Clearances will be required for all construction workers, guards will be at the fence and barriers will separate it from the rest of the base.
Only U.S. construction firms are being allowed to bid on the contract and proposals are due Dec. 3, according to the latest Corps of Engineers notice.
Site 911 is the latest in a long history of military construction projects the United States has undertaken for the IDF under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. The 1998 Wye River Memorandum between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has led to about $500 million in U.S. construction of military facilities for the Israelis, most of them initially in an undeveloped part of the Negev Desert. It was done to ensure there were bases to which IDF forces stationed in the West Bank could be redeployed.
As recorded in the Corps’ European District magazine, called Engineering in Europe, three bases were built to support 20,000 troops, and eventually the Israeli air force moved into the same area, creating Nevatim air base. A new runway, 2.5 miles long, was built there by the Corps along with about 100 new buildings and 10 miles of roads.
Over the years, the Corps has built underground hangers for Israeli fighter-bombers, facilities for handling nuclear weapons (though Israel does not admit having such weapons), command centers, training bases, intelligence facilities and simulators, according to Corps publications.
Within the past two years the Corps, which has three offices in Israel, completed a $30 million set of hangars at Nevatim, which the magazine describes as a “former small desert outpost that has grown to be one of the largest and most modern air bases in the country.” It has also supervised a $20 million project to build maintenance shops, hangars and headquarters to support Israel’s large Eitan unmanned aerial vehicle.
Site 911, which will be built at another base, appears to be one of the largest projects. Each of the first three underground floors is to be roughly 41,000 square feet, according to the Corps notice. The lower two floors are much smaller and hold equipment.
Security concerns are so great that non-Israeli employees hired by the builder can come only from “the U.S., Canada, Western Europe countries, Poland, Moldavia, Thailand, Philippines, Venezuela, Romania and China,” according to the Corps notice. “The employment of Palestinians is also forbidden,” it says.
Among other security rules: The site “shall have one gate only for both entering and exiting the site” and “no exit or entrance to the site shall be allowed during work hours except for supply trucks.” Guards will be Israeli citizens with experience in the Israeli air force. Also, “the collection of information of any type whatsoever related to base activities is prohibited.”
The well-known Israeli architectural firm listed on the plans, Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects, has paid attention to the aesthetics of the site design as well as the sensibilities of future employees. The site, for example, will be decorated with rocks chosen by the architect but purchased by the contractor. Three picnic tables are planned, according to the solicitation.
The Corps offered a lengthy description of the mezuzas the contractor is to provide “for each door or opening exclusive of toilets or shower rooms” in the Site 911 building. A mezuza (also spelled mezuzah) is a parchment which has been inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah, placed in a case and attached to a door frame of a Jewish family’s house as a sign of faith. Some interpret Jewish law as requiring — as in this case — that a mezuza be attached to every door in a house.
These mezuzas, notes the Corps, “shall be written in inerasable ink, on . . . uncoated leather parchment” and be handwritten by a scribe “holding a written authorization according to Jewish law.” The writing may be “Ashkenazik or Sepharadik” but “not a mixture” and “must be uniform.”
Also, “The Mezuzahs shall be proof-read by a computer at an authorized institution for Mezuzah inspection, as well as manually proof-read for the form of the letters by a proof-reader authorized by the Chief Rabbinate.” The mezuza shall be supplied with an aluminum housing with holes so it can be connected to the door frame or opening. Finally, “All Mezuzahs for the facility shall be affixed by the Base’s Rabbi or his appointed representative and not by the contractor staff.”
What’s the purpose of Site 911? I asked the Pentagon on Tuesday, and the Corps on Wednesday said that only an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman could provide an answer.
This may be a trend-starter. The Corps is also seeking a contractor for another secret construction project in Israel in the $100 million range to awarded next summer. This one will involve “a complex facility with site development challenges” requiring services that include “electrical, communication, mechanical/
HVAC [heating, ventilation, air conditioning] and plumbing.” The U.S. contractor must have a U.S. secret or equivalent Israeli security clearance for the project, which is expected to take almost 21/2 years to complete.
That sounds like a secure command center.
The purpose of Site 911 is far less clear.
Source: Walter Pincus | TheWashingtonPost
A Nation In Decline…
Stories of citizens being assaulted by TSA (Transportation Security Administration) employees are common internet fare. There are numerous groping complaints, little old ladies are forced to remove their diapers and nubile young women are patted down and ogled by X-ray, knives are confiscated, liquids are poured out, shoes are removed, and time is wasted; all without noticeable results. TSA guru, Janet Napolitano, supports the TSA in the same way police chiefs support errant policemen. When governments write the law they often consider themselves immune to it. Policemen are seldom held accountable for their actions. Agents of the government regularly pillage private property, harass citizens, and even commit murder, all without retribution.
During the 1940s, when I was in high school, the older brother of one of my friends had established a dental practice in a small Northern Illinois town. My friend described his brother’s work as a “Racket” and said he was making piles of money. At that time I had a mouth full of fillings skillfully inserted by a neighbor who was also a relative. My parents paid for the work which though relatively cheap was expensive in the depression days of the 1930s. There was, however, more kindness during this era and service providers felt an obligation to provide care to everyone regardless of ability to pay.
When the government gets involved in licensing members of any profession several things eventually result. 1) License restrictions limit supply and costs go up. 2) Participants collude, and 3) become arrogant and self serving. 4) They devise methods of extracting the maximum amount of money from the public. 5) Their egos grow; they take on god-like qualities and look with disdain on customers whose urgent need of their services supports the inflated cost.
Many Americans travel to Costa Rica where they are able to pay for transportation and stay at a four star hotel with the money they save having their dental work done there. Occasionally an unlicensed dentist learns the mechanics of the trade and establishes a lucrative practice. Read about one here. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
American dentists are very expensive.
With a mouthful of bad teeth and an unwillingness to be overcharged my experience with dentists has been dismal. Several dentists maintained that fillings were not reliable and refused to put fillings in my teeth. Reluctantly I allowed three teeth to be capped. Because I complained about the cost of each procedure and was dubious about what I was being told dentists did not enjoy my presence. Finally, I was shuffled off to a dentist who liked to do fillings. His personality was as dismal as mine but he was a good mechanic. Belying what several other dentist had told me he filled my mouth with mercury fillings.
During my last visit for a six month cleaning, I turned down an X-ray. Past X-rays had added to the cost and had not produced anything of value. I considered his request that I sign a release paper a form of intimidation and refused to sign it. Though I had been a patient for several years and had contributed several thousand dollars to his coffers he dismissed me for refusing to sign. It is my money and that of other patients that support this dentist but it is government created exclusivity and collusion that sustain blunt arrogance.
Collusion allows dentists to ration their services by presenting a universal wall that closes out the uncooperative patient. Being ushered into a dental chair, opening the mouth and having an assistant begin a set of prescribed procedures without discussion is oppressive and leaves the patient without input. It discourages talk about fees and allows them to avoid competition.
Following the rude dismissal by the mercury filling expert, I visited another dentist who advertised for new patients. I was put through the regular expensive set of procedures that go before the appearance of the Mighty One. His dental assistant took X-rays, measured gum loss, and cleaned and inspected my teeth. These preliminaries often cost $200 or more. When all this was finished the dentist inspected my teeth giving his assistant coded remarks about each tooth.
I explained to him that I was almost 83 years old and that I had one tooth that needed to be removed and that I wanted to keep the remainder of my teeth in workable condition for as long as I could. Following a brief examination the dentist disappeared and his assistant arrived with a computer generated treatment sheet recommending several thousand dollars worth of dental work. I was referred to a dental surgeon for the bad, loose, single rooted tooth which he claimed might break. It was obvious he paid no attention to my brief request and when the assistant asked that I sign a form indicating receipt of his recommendations I refused. With predictable arrogance he sent his assistant to tell me I was dismissed. Rejected patients receive a formal letter confirming the rejection.
It is difficult to break through the wall that screens out competition and uncooperative patients because dentists collude and all present the same competitive barriers.
Cutting a man’s hair and filling a tooth both take technical skills and similar amounts of time; the barber gets $10 to $15 while the Dentist gets $200 or more; educational status, the artificial leverage of government licensing, and collusive practices work together to support high fees.
If you have never experienced the God-like demeanor that allows doctors and dentists to dismiss a patient with a formal letter as if partaking of their service is a privilege rather than a high priced sale, you have probably never confronted one of these demigods. Rather than seeking to provide a needed service to society at an affordable price the touchy plutocrats seek to be treated with divine deference.
Young people who begin working at $10.00 an hour (common here in Florida) will work a week and a half (sixty hours) for what a dentist earns in an hour or less. Many young people cannot afford dentists and live with poor dental hygiene Senior citizens whose life span is almost complete can spend several thousand dollars on dental work that death renders useless.
Patients have a vested interest in having their teeth cleaned but despite the heavy padding it is a nuisance to dentists. They maintain their upper 1% status by gluing on crowns and doing root canals. A root canal takes about an hour of the dentist’s time and costs between $600 and $1000 (Sometimes more!). When a crown is added fixing a single tooth might cost $2000. My experience seems to indicate that when a dentist see $10,000 work in a person’s mouth he will take a little guff and might even negotiate but when only cleaning is involved he is quick to dismiss.
Altruism has been wrung out of medical and dental care. The Hippocratic Oath may still be administered in some form but in practice it is as dead as Christianity in the church. Today medical and dental professions are businesses conducted by individuals who have fulfilled educational requirements in order to harvest a bumper financial crop. Ministering to patients is a means of making money and if there is no money to be made or if the patient cannot pay, the relationship is quickly severed. For the patient who fails to pay, the credit rating is ruined and harassing bill collectors are marshaled.
Dentists and doctors have succumbed to the advancing brutality that has infected our culture. It began with the Revolutionary War, advanced during the Civil War; was inflicted on the indigenous Indians, on the civilian population of the Philippines, on the Germans in WWII, on the Vietnamese, it is now ravishing the Arabs in the Middle East and is pervasive in our culture.
Brutality has driven out mercy and justice and fertilized the lawless avarice of pagan Capitalism. John Adam said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Injustice is rampant and mercy is scarce. Our people are religious but immoral. As a nation we have forsaken God’s Law and opted to live under a human standard of justice.
Morality is impossible without law and justice is impossible without God’s Law. Sinful men and women cannot write just law. Those that claim to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the redemptive work of His Son, The Christ, have drifted so far away from their God that His Laws are repugnant. Even some who should know better delight in the heresy of Dispensationalism denying the efficacy of God’s Law favoring law devised by the evil minds o of men. Death by stoning sounds like cruel and unusual punishment because death by losing the lower half of a human body to an explosive device is hidden and never pictured in our deluded minds.
We live in a sanitized society; hiding grotesque brutality so we can considering ourselves civilized. Aborted babies are seldom seen. Pictures of the slaughter of their tiny bodies are unpopular and in some cases banned. War is advertised as altruistic and soldiers are urged to sign up and see the world. The returning caskets and the maimed participants are not public fare. An aberrant press and media fail to mention that for every soldier killed nine civilians die. The pillage and wreckage of Iraq is kept from the public. In spite of the brief publicity around Abu Grave torture continues as a weapon.
We have lost our fear of God. When there is no fear of God there is no active religion. If stoning did nothing else, it might renew our fear of God
In his lengthy indictment of the Jews Martin Luther wrote, “For every country, if it is to endure, must have these two things: power and law. The country— must have a lord, a head, a ruler. But it must also have a law by which the ruler is guided— For wherever sheer power prevails without the law— there is no government, but tyranny.” (Excerpted)
God admonishes us in Proverbs, “My son, keep my words, and treasure my commandments within you. Keep my commandments and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Chapter 7; 1-3
As our government continues to impose tyrannical laws and procedures on the United States, patriots and Christians approach the coming election with the usual chronic insanity, repeatedly seeking the culprit as the remedy. Though many of our older citizens have lived through many of these same charades they still participate with vigor. The human mind is easily distorted and often incapable of reaching sound conclusions. Elections are rife with empty promises and mendacious accusations. Popularity is manufactured by the press and voting is often controlled by the counter rather than the voter. When the wicked process is over the winner may initiate some minor social changes but the planned shrinkage of American wealth and power continues as it has now for several decades.
It is tragic that good men sell their souls in order to become marionettes on the stage of government. Ron Paul maintained his stance for many years and seemed to be mostly above the evil pragmatism. Nevertheless, he was summarily shoved aside and though he may have siphoned a few votes from the Mormon King he accomplished very little. Powerful forces mute the policies that might remedy our downfall and the soulless empty suits we have elected value their jobs more than their character.
The transformation of our doctors and dentists from responsible contributors to the well being of our society to avaricious wealthy craftsmen is a small matter compared to the complete downfall of civilization. It is, however, a symptom and without confrontation it continues its downward spin along with that of the nation.
Indian Christian intellectual Vishal Mangalwadi has used the clear vision of a Godly man in a newly published book entitled “The Book That Made Your World”. He speaks to Americans in general and Christians in particular about the overweening influence of the Christian Bible on our culture. In the Forward he writes, “It was above all, a civilization in which truth was understood to be real, where the collective pursuit of virtue shaped behavior, and the redemptive work of God in the person of Jesus Christ provided a radical and historically verifiable transforming response to the abyss of human selfishness, corruption , and sin.” Pg.17
Unfortunately, he writes in the past tense.
During the 1980s NPR was continually on the case of the Reagan administration. NPR certainly had a Democratic slant, and a lot of its reporting about the Reagan administration was one-sided. Yet, NPR was an independent voice, and it sometimes got things correct.
In the 21st century that voice has disappeared, which was the intention of the George W. Bush regime. Bush put a Republican woman in charge who made it clear to NPR producers and show hosts that the federal part of their funding was at risk.
Money often over-rules principle, and when corporations added their really big money NPR collapsed. Today the local stations still pretend to be funded by listeners, but if you have noticed, as I have, there are now a large number of corporate advertisements, disguised in the traditional terms “with support from . . .” If you are not listening to classical music, you are listening to corporate advertisements.
Today the entire “mainstream media” is closed to truth-tellers. The US media is Washington’s propaganda ministry. The US media has only one function–to lie for Washington.
What reminded me of NPR’s surrender was NPR’s August 31 report with its two regular talking voice political pundits discussing the Republican Convention and Romney’s speech. After witnessing the Republicans at their nominating convention at Tampa violate all their own rules and ride roughshod over the Ron Paul delegates, one expected some discussion of the Republican Party’s refusal to allow Ron Paul to be placed in nomination or his delegate account to be announced.
The operative question was obvious: How can the American people trust the Republicans with the awesome power of the executive branch when the Republican Party just finished demonstrating for all to see its Stalinist qualities by crushing the anti-war, anti-police state wing of its party?
The authoritarianism was gratuitous. Romney had a sufficient number of delegates to be nominated. It would have cost Romney nothing to follow the rules and allow Ron Paul to be placed in nomination and his delegate numbers to be reported. Instead, Romney wrote off the liberty contingent of the Republican Party. The Brownshirts demonstrated their power.
The last Republican who wrote off a chunk of his own party was Barry Goldwater, and he went down to crushing defeat. Makes one wonder if the Republicans are relying on those electronic voting machines programed with proprietary Republican software that leave no paper trail. The Democrats have acquiesced to Republican election theft. There have been numerous cases where exit polls indicate that voters chose a different candidate than the one chosen by the Republican programmed voting machines.
One would have thought that NPR and its pundits would have found the parallel with Goldwater worth comment, but the suppression of the Ron Paul delegates was already down the memory hole.
One would also have thought that NPR and its pundits would have found Clint Eastwood’s speech a fascinating topic of discussion. Eastwood had a Republican National Committee approved speech, but discarded it. Instead, Eastwood stood beside an empty chair and pretended to be talking to Obama, but it could just as well have been Romney in the chair. By pretending to be talking to Obama, Eastwood made his points without eliciting boos from the Republican audience.
Not many in the Republican audience caught on, but there were some stony faces when Eastwood said “I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there are 23 million unemployed people in this country.” More stony Republican faces when Eastwood showed his opposition to the Iraq and Afghan wars and asks the chair, “why don’t you just bring them [the troops] home tomorrow morning?” Those who thought he was digging at Obama cheered; those who realized he was criticizing hardline Republican positions were displeased.
But NPR and the US media in general are uncomfortable with such real news as a political party being told off by one of its heroes and a political party sufficiently stupid to repeat Barry Goldwater’s mistake. The establishment might complain. The money might dry up or employees be fired for permitting such a story to be aired. The Democrats lost their independent financing when jobs offshoring destroyed the unions. There are no longer countervailing powers to Wall Street and the corporations, which have been endowed by the Republican US Supreme Court with First Amendment rights to purchase US elections, and placed in charge of the US Treasury, the regulatory agencies and the Federal Reserve.
In Tampa the Republicans wrote off the Ron Paul vote, because they are enamored of power and its gratuitous demonstration. Can people so desirous of power and the thrill of its use be trusted to let go of power when they lose the next election? There are enough presidential executive orders and national security orders, even some signed by the Democrat Obama, that any president can assert them and refuse to face election.
Once Rome accepted Julius Caesar’s coup, the Roman Republic was gone. Those who tried to save the Roman Republic by assassinating Caesar failed, because the majority of the legions had gone over to the dictatorship, which promised them more money than the Republic had. Caesar’s name became the title for Rome’s dictators.
In the US, even your friendly local police have gone over to dictatorship. And they are armed with its tools. A friend, a competitive shooter for accuracy, told me that as he left his gun club on August 27, a local sheriff department entered in a military armored vehicle, something one would expect to see on a battlefield, followed by a large sheriff’s department truck full of military equipment. He says that the gun club allows local police to use the club’s facilities so that club members are not stopped and harassed about their firearms as they go to and from the club. He reports that the police will line up 30 abreast, with automatic weapons, not allowed to club members, and fire at one target, with 30 police emptying 30-round magazines at the same target.
He once asked our protectors if they were practicing for some competition. The answer was, “No, we are preparing to control the outcome when there is trouble.”
Control is the operative word. We have seen for a number of years now that the Republican Party is power-addicted. Remember when the Bush administration fired the US Attorneys who refused the order to indict only Democrats? Remember the Republican Party’s transparent frame-up of popular Alabama Democratic governor Don Siegelman? Evidence indicates that the Republican operative Karl Rove took advantage of a Republican federal judge, vulnerable according to news reports to corruption charges, and a compliant Republican US attorney in Alabama to railroad Governor Siegelman. The message to Democrats was: if you get elected in our Southern Territory, we will get you.
But never fear, we have “freedom and democracy.” George W. Bush told us so himself.
The weak, chicken-hearted Obama administration has not commuted Siegelman’s outrageous sentence. The inability of the Democrats to stand up for their own members and their own principles is the best indication we have that Republican tyranny will prevail.
It didn’t take Caesar George W. Bush 10 minutes to wipe out the prison sentence of vice president Dick Cheney’s chief aid for revealing the identity of a CIA operative, a felony under US law. But the Obama Justice (sic) Department supports Karl Rove’s destruction of one of its most popular governors.
It was the German left-wing’s weak opposition to the National Socialists that gave the world Hitler.
The Republican Party has become the Party of Hate. Decades of frustration have made Republicans mean. They object to everything that has happened since the Great Depression in the 1930s to make the US a more just and humane society.
The Republican Party wants power so that it can smash all vestiges of regulation and welfare and all those of whom Republicans disapprove: the poor, the minorities, liberals, the imagined “foreign enemies,” war protestors and others who challenge authority, those American weaklings who have compassion for the unfortunate, the US Constitution, that pinko-liberal-commie document that coddles criminals, illegal aliens, and terrorists, and all dissenters from the policy of enriching the one percent at the expense of the 99 percent.
Above all else, the Republicans want to turn Social Security and Medicare into profit centers for private corporations.
Would the world be surprised if Republicans donned brown shirts? America has declared itself to be “the indispensable nation,” justifying its hegemony over the world. Any country that does not submit to Washington is “a foe.” The neoconservative propaganda that America is the indispensable nation with a right to world hegemony sounds a lot like “Deutschland uber alles.”
A decade ago the Bush regime demonstrated that it could over-ride US statutory law, the US Constitution, and the constitutional separation of powers in order to concentrate unaccountable power in the office of the president.
The Democrats, when they gained control of Congress in the mid-term elections, did nothing about the unprecedented legal and constitutional crimes of George W. Bush. The Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, who could easily have impeached George W. Bush for his obvious crimes against US law and the US Constitution, announced that “impeachment is off the table.” Money was more important to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi than the rule of law.
When a people have no political party that represents them, they are doomed to tyranny.
And to war.
Russia and China are in the way of Washington’s hegemony. Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, has declared Russia to be “our number one geopolitical foe” for opposing Washington’s plans to overthrow by violence the Syrian government. Why is overthrowing the Syrian government so advantageous to Washington that Romney in a fit of pique recklessly brought the United States into direct confrontation with Russia?
Arrogance and hubris lead to wars. Do Americans really want a person as president who is so reckless as to gratuitously declare a large nuclear-armed country to be our number one enemy? The American and Israeli trained Georgian army did not last an hour when the former Soviet republic foolishly, on Washington’s encouragement, provoked the Russian bear.
Meanwhile the Obama regime, concerned with China’s rapid economic rise, has indicated that it thinks China is the number one enemy. The Obama regime has forgot that China, when a primitive, backward country, fought the US to a stalemate in Korea more than a half century ago.
The Obama regime has announced that the US Navy is being repositioned to the Eastern Pacific, that the US regards the South China Sea as America’s national interest, and that new naval, air, and troop bases are being established in the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere in the region. The purpose of these bases is to block China’s access to energy and raw materials, which is what Washington did to Japan in the 1930s.
Are Americans aware that the hubris and idiocy of their political leaders have now saddled Americans with the burden of two number one enemies, both well equipped with armies and nuclear weapons? Only Iran can be happy about this as it moves Iran off the front burner.
Washington is putting its forward military bases in place, and the propaganda war is being cranked up. The subservient British press was quick to fall in line with Washington. A British reader of my column reports that the Guardian/Observer and New Statesman are at Putin’s throat: “Every day this week we’ve had Russia/Putin hate stories. Headlines such as ‘medieval dictatorship’ as we saw in last Sunday’s Observer [August 26] are common. In this week’s New Statesman we have a front page picture of Putin with the headline ‘Putin’s reign of terror.’ They’ve got Putin with a crown on his head and dressed as a Tsar-like figure. It’s a relentless information battlefield assault on Russia.”
Another line of Washington’s attack on Russia is Washington’s covert backing of Chechnya terrorist groups in the Caucasus and funding of front groups in Russia for protest and terrorist organizations. Allegations of corruption and stolen elections come primarily from Washington-funded groups operating in Russia. See http://www.globalresearch.ca/al-qaeda-blitzkrieg-wests-terror-battalions-eye-russia-next/ and http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/08/bombshell-us-neo-cons-state-department.html Through these methods, Washington hopes to destabilize the Russian government and to isolate it internationally in order to remove a barrier to Washington’s hegemony.
Two of Romney’s right-wing neoconservative advisors said that Romney as president would “confront Moscow on its poor record on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.” The western media will not comment on the irony of these propagandistic allegations against Russia issuing from the US, the country that has destroyed habeas corpus and due process protections of the accused, tortured detainees in violation of the Geneva Conventions and its own statutory law, kidnaps, tortures, and assassinates foreign nationals as well as its own citizens, supports terrorism against Libya, Syria, Iran, and Russia, runs roughshod over international law, never submitting to law itself but using law as a weapon against governments that it has demonized, while it carries on military operations against seven Muslim countries without a declaration of war.
The Nuremberg Trials of Germans after World War II established that naked aggression is a war crime. Naked aggression, renamed by Washington, “preemptive war,” has become the operative principle of US foreign policy.
As Putin remarked, Washington is guilty of the crimes of which it accuses others, but Washington permits all things to “the indispensable nation.”
Amerika uber alles!
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
When President Reagan nominated me as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, he told me that we had to restore the US economy, to rescue it from stagflation, in order to bring the full weight of a powerful economy to bear on the Soviet leadership, in order to convince them to negotiate the end of the cold war. Reagan said that there was no reason to live any longer under the threat of nuclear war.
The Reagan administration achieved both goals, only to see these accomplishments discarded by successor administrations. It was Reagan’s own vice president and successor, George Herbert Walker Bush, who first violated the Reagan-Gorbachev understandings by incorporating former constituent parts of the Soviet Empire into NATO and taking Western military bases to the Russian frontier.
The process of surrounding Russia with military bases continued unabated through successor US administrations with various “color revolutions” financed by the US National Endowment for Democracy, regarded by many as a front for the CIA. Washington even attempted to install a Washington-controlled government in Ukraine and did succeed in this effort in former Soviet Georgia, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin.
The President of Georgia, a country located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, is a Washington puppet. Recently, he announced that former Soviet Georgia is on schedule to become a NATO member in 2014.
Those old enough to remember know that NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was an alliance between Western Europe and the US against the threat of the Red Army overrunning Western Europe. The North Atlantic is a long, long ways from the Black and Caspian Seas. What is the purpose of Georgia being a NATO member except to give Washington a military base on the Russian underbelly?
The evidence is simply overwhelming that Washington–both parties–have Russia and China targeted. Whether the purpose is to destroy both countries or merely to render them unable to oppose Washington’s world hegemony is unclear at this time. Regardless of the purpose, nuclear war is the likely outcome.
The presstitute American press pretends that an evil Syrian government is murdering innocent citizens who only want democracy and that if the UN won’t intervene militarily, the US must in order to save human rights. Russia and China are vilified by US functionaries for opposing any pretext for a NATO invasion of Syria.
The facts, of course, are different from those presented by the presstitute American media and members of the US government. The Syrian “rebels” are well armed with military weapons. The “rebels” are battling the Syrian army. The rebels massacre civilians and report to their media whores in the West that the deed was done by the Syrian government, and the Western presstitutes spread the propaganda.
Someone is arming the “rebels” as obviously the weapons can’t be purchased in local Syrian markets. Most intelligent people believe the weapons are coming from the US or from US surrogates.
So, Washington has started a civil war in Syria, as it did in Libya, but this time the gullible Russians and Chinese have caught on and have refused to permit a UN resolution like the one the West exploited against Gaddafi.
To get around this roadblock, fish out an ancient Phantom fighter jet from the 1960s Vietnam war era and have Turkey fly it into Syria. The Syrians will shoot it down, and then Turkey can appeal to its NATO allies to come to its aid against Syria. Denied the UN option, Washington can invoke its obligation under the NATO treaty, and go to war in defense of a NATO member against a demonized Syria.
The neoconservative lie behind Washington’s wars of hegemony is that the US is bringing democracy to the invaded and bombed countries. To paraphrase Mao, “democracy comes out of the barrel of a gun.” However, the Arab Spring has come up short on democracy, as have Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries “liberated” by US democratic invasions.
What the US is bringing is civil wars and the breakup of countries, as President Bill Clinton’s regime achieved in former Yugoslavia. The more countries can be torn into pieces and dissolved into rival factions, the more powerful is Washington.
Russia’s Putin understands that Russia itself is threatened not only by Washington’s funding of the “Russian opposition,” but also by the strife among Muslims unleashed by Washington’s wars against secular Muslim states, such as Iraq and Syria. This discord spreads into Russia itself and presents Russia with problems such as Chechen terrorism.
When a secular state is overthrown, the Islamist factions become free to be at one another’s throats. The internal strife renders the countries impotent. As I wrote previously, the West always prevails in the Middle East because the Islamist factions hate one another more than they hate their Western conquerers. Thus, when Washington destroys secular, non-Islamist governments as in Iraq and now targeted in Syria, the Islamists emerge and battle one another for supremacy. This suits Washington and Israel as these states cease to be coherent opponents.
Russia is vulnerable, because Putin is demonized by Washington and the US media and because Putin’s Russian opposition is financed by Washington and serves US, not Russian, interests. The turmoil that Washington is unleashing in Muslim states leaks back to Russia’s Muslim populations.
It has proved to be more difficult for Washington to interfere in China’s internal affairs, although discord has been sowed in some provinces. Several years from now, the Chinese economy is expected to exceed in size the US economy, with an Asian power displacing a Western one as the world’s most powerful economy.
Washington is deeply disturbed by this prospect. In the thrall and under the control of Wall Street and other special interest business groups, Washington is unable to rescue the US economy from its decline. The short-run gambling profits of Wall Street, the war profits of the military/security complex, and the profits from offshoring the production of goods and services for US markets have far more representation in Washington than the wellbeing of US citizens. As the US economy sinks, the Chinese economy rises.
Washington’s response is to militarize the Pacific. The US Secretary of State has declared the South China Sea to be an area of American national interest. The US is wooing the Philippine government, playing the China threat card, and working on getting the US Navy invited back to its former base at Subic Bay. Recently there were joint US/Philippines military/naval exercises against the “China threat.”
The US Navy is reallocating fleets to the Pacific Ocean and constructing a new naval base on a South Korean island. US Marines are now based in Australia and are being reallocated from Japan to other Asian countries. The Chinese are not stupid. They understand that Washington is attempting to corral China.
For a country incapable of occupying Iraq after 8 years and incapable of occupying Afghanistan after 11 years, to simultaneously take on two nuclear powers is an act of insanity. The hubris in Washington, fed daily by the crazed neocons, despite extraordinary failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, has now targeted formidable powers–Russia and China. The world has never in its entire history witnessed such idiocy.
The psychopaths, sociopaths, and morons who prevail in Washington are leading the world to destruction.
The criminally insane government in Washington, regardless whether Democrat or Republican, regardless of the outcome of the next election, is the greatest threat to life on earth that has ever existed.
Moreover, the only financing the Washington criminals have is the printing press. In a subsequent column I will examine whether the US economy will complete its collapse before the war criminals in Washington can destroy the world.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.
And If You Can Fake Sincerity You’ve Got It Made…
“A few months ago I told the American people that I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that is true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not.” — President Ronald Reagan, 1987.
On April 23, speaking at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, President Barack Obama told his assembled audience that as president “I’ve done my utmost … to prevent and end atrocities”.
Do the facts and evidence tell him that his words are not true?
Well, let’s see … There’s the multiple atrocities carried out in Iraq by American forces under President Obama. There’s the multiple atrocities carried out in Afghanistan by American forces under Obama. There’s the multiple atrocities carried out in Pakistan by American forces under Obama. There’s the multiple atrocities carried out in Libya by American/NATO forces under Obama. There are also the hundreds of American drone attacks against people and homes in Somalia and in Yemen (including against American citizens in the latter). Might the friends and families of these victims regard the murder of their loved ones and the loss of their homes as atrocities?
Ronald Reagan was pre-Alzheimer’s when he uttered the above. What excuse can be made for Barack Obama?
The president then continued in the same fashion by saying: “We possess many tools … and using these tools over the past three years, I believe — I know — that we have saved countless lives.” Obama pointed out that this includes Libya, where the United States, in conjunction with NATO, took part in seven months of almost daily bombing missions. We may never learn from the new pro-NATO Libyan government how many the bombs killed, or the extent of the damage to homes and infrastructure. But the President of the United States assured his Holocaust Museum audience that “today, the Libyan people are forging their own future, and the world can take pride in the innocent lives that we saved.” (As I described in last month’s report, Libya could now qualify as a failed state.)
Language is an invention that makes it possible for a person to deny what he is doing even as he does it.
Mr. Obama closed with these stirring words; “It can be tempting to throw up our hands and resign ourselves to man’s endless capacity for cruelty. It’s tempting sometimes to believe that there is nothing we can do.” But Barack Obama is not one of those doubters. He knows there is something he can do about man’s endless capacity for cruelty. He can add to it. Greatly. And yet, I am certain that, with exceedingly few exceptions, those in his Holocaust audience left with no doubt that this was a man wholly deserving of his Nobel Peace Prize.
And future American history books may well certify the president’s words as factual, his motivation sincere, for his talk indeed possessed the quality needed for schoolbooks.
The Israeli-American-Iranian-Holocaust-NobelPeacePrize Circus
It’s a textbook case of how the American media is at its worst when it comes to US foreign policy and particularly when an Officially Designated Enemy (ODE) is involved. I’ve discussed this case several times in this report in recent years. The ODE is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The accusation has been that he had threatened violence against Israel, based on his 2005 remark calling for “wiping Israel off the map”. Who can count the number of times this has been repeated in every kind of media, in every country of the world, without questioning the accuracy of what was reported? A Lexis-Nexis search of “All News (English)” for <Iran and Israel and “off the map”> for the past seven years produced the message: “This search has been interrupted because it will return more than 3000 results.”
As I’ve pointed out, Ahmadinejad’s “threat of violence” was a serious misinterpretation, one piece of evidence being that the following year he declared: “The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.” 2 Obviously, he was not calling for any kind of violent attack upon Israel, for the dissolution of the Soviet Union took place remarkably peacefully. But the myth of course continued.
Now, finally, we have the following exchange from the radio-TV simulcast, Democracy Now!, of April 19:
A top Israeli official has acknowledged that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said that Iran seeks to “wipe Israel off the face of the map.” The falsely translated statement has been widely attributed to Ahmadinejad and used repeatedly by U.S. and Israeli government officials to back military action and sanctions against Iran. But speaking to Teymoor Nabili of the network Al Jazeera, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor admitted Ahmadinejad had been misquoted.
Teymoor Nabili: “As we know, Ahmadinejad didn’t say that he plans to exterminate Israel, nor did he say that Iran policy is to exterminate Israel. Ahmadinejad’s position and Iran’s position always has been, and they’ve made this — they’ve said this as many times as Ahmadinejad has criticized Israel, he has said as many times that he has no plans to attack Israel. …”
Dan Meridor: “Well, I have to disagree, with all due respect. You speak of Ahmadinejad. I speak of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani, Shamkhani. I give the names of all these people. They all come, basically ideologically, religiously, with the statement that Israel is an unnatural creature, it will not survive. They didn’t say, ‘We’ll wipe it out,’ you’re right. But ‘It will not survive, it is a cancerous tumor that should be removed,’ was said just two weeks ago again.”
Teymoor Nabili: “Well, I’m glad you’ve acknowledged that they didn’t say they will wipe it out.”
So that’s that. Right? Of course not. Fox News, NPR, CNN, NBC, et al. will likely continue to claim that Ahmadinejad threatened violence against Israel, threatened to “wipe it off the map”.
And that’s only Ahmadinejad the Israeli Killer. There’s still Ahmadinejad the Holocaust Denier. So until a high Israeli official finally admits that that too is a lie, keep in mind that Ahmadinejad has never said simply, clearly, unambiguously, and unequivocally that he thinks that what we historically know as the Holocaust never happened. He has instead commented about the peculiarity and injustice of a Holocaust which took place in Europe resulting in a state for the Jews in the Middle East instead of in Europe. Why are the Palestinians paying a price for a German crime? he asks. And he has questioned the figure of six million Jews killed by Nazi Germany, as have many other people of various political stripes. In a speech at Columbia University on September 24, 2007, in reply to a question about the Holocaust, the Iranian president declared: “I’m not saying that it didn’t happen at all. This is not the judgment that I’m passing here.” 3
Let us now listen to Elie Wiesel, the simplistic, reactionary man who’s built a career around being a Holocaust survivor, introducing President Obama at the Holocaust Museum for the talk referred to above, some five days after the statement made by the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister:
“How is it that the Holocaust’s No. 1 denier, Ahmadinejad, is still a president? He who threatens to use nuclear weapons — to use nuclear weapons — to destroy the Jewish state. Have we not learned? We must. We must know that when evil has power, it is almost too late.”
“Nuclear weapons” is of course adding a new myth on the back of the old myth.
Wiesel, like Obama, is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. As is Henry Kissinger and Menachim Begin. And several other such war-loving beauties. When will that monumental farce of a prize be put to sleep?
For the record, let it be noted that on March 4, speaking before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Obama said: “Let’s begin with a basic truth that you all understand: No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction.” 4
Postscript: Each time I strongly criticize Barack Obama a few of my readers ask to unsubscribe. I’m really sorry to lose them but it’s important that those on the left rid themselves of their attachment to the Democratic Party. I’m not certain how best to institute revolutionary change in the United States, but I do know that it will not happen through the Democratic Party, and the sooner those on the left cut their umbilical cord to the Democrats, the sooner we can start to get more serious about this thing called revolution.
Written on Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, 2012
Two simple suggestions as part of a plan to save the planet.
1. Population control: limit families to two children
All else being equal, a markedly reduced population count would have a markedly beneficial effect upon global warming, air pollution, and food and water availability; as well as finding a parking spot, getting a seat on the subway, getting on the flight you prefer, and much, much more. Some favor limiting families to one child. Still others, who spend a major part of each day digesting the awful news of the world, are calling for a limit of zero. (The Chinese government announced in 2008 that the country would have about 400 million more people if it wasn’t for its limit of one or two children per couple. 5
But, within the environmental movement, there is still significant opposition to this. Part of the reason is fear of ethnic criticism inasmuch as population programs have traditionally been aimed at — or seen to be aimed at — primarily the poor, the weak, and various “outsiders”. There is also the fear of the religious right and its medieval views on birth control.
2. Eliminate the greatest consumer of energy in the world: The United States military.
Here’s Michael Klare, professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, Mass. in 2007:
Sixteen gallons of oil. That’s how much the average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis — either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes. Multiply this figure by 162,000 soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region (including sailors aboard U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf) and you arrive at approximately 3.5 million gallons of oil: the daily petroleum tab for U.S. combat operations in the Middle East war zone. Multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 1.3 billion gallons: the estimated annual oil expenditure for U.S. combat operations in Southwest Asia. That’s greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh, population 150 million — and yet it’s a gross underestimate of the Pentagon’s wartime consumption. 6
The United States military, for decades, with its legion of bases and its numerous wars has also produced and left behind a deadly toxic legacy. From the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam in the 1960s to the open-air burn pits on US bases in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 21st century, countless local people have been sickened and killed; and in between those two periods we could read things such as this from a lengthy article on the subject in the Los Angeles Times in 1990:
U.S. military installations have polluted the drinking water of the Pacific island of Guam, poured tons of toxic chemicals into Subic Bay in the Philippines, leaked carcinogens into the water source of a German spa, spewed tons of sulfurous coal smoke into the skies of Central Europe and pumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into the oceans. 7
The military has caused similar harm to the environment in the United States at a number of its installations. (Do a Google search for <”U.S. military bases” toxic>)
When I suggest eliminating the military I am usually rebuked for leaving “a defenseless America open to foreign military invasion”. And I usually reply:
“Tell me who would invade us? Which country?”
“What do you mean which country? It could be any country.”
“So then it should be easy to name one.”
“Okay, any of the 200 members of the United Nations!”
“No, I’d like you to name a specific country that you think would invade the United States. Name just one.”
“Okay, Paraguay. You happy now?”
“No, you have to tell me why Paraguay would invade the United States.”
“How would I know?”
Etc., etc., and if this charming dialogue continues, I ask the person to tell me how many troops the invading country would have to have to occupy a country of more than 300 million people.
The questions concerning immigration into the United States from south of the border go on year after year, with the same issues argued back and forth: What’s the best way to block the flow into the country? How shall we punish those caught here illegally? Should we separate families, which happens when parents are deported but their American-born children remain? Should the police and various other institutions have the right to ask for proof of legal residence from anyone they suspect of being here illegally? Should we punish employers who hire illegal immigrants? Should we grant amnesty to at least some of the immigrants already here for years? … on and on, round and round it goes, for decades. Every once in a while someone opposed to immigration will make it a point to declare that the United States does not have any moral obligation to take in these Latino immigrants.
But the counter-argument to the last is almost never mentioned: Yes, the United States does have a moral obligation because so many of the immigrants are escaping situations in their homelands made hopeless by American interventions and policy. In Guatemala and Nicaragua Washington overthrew progressive governments which were sincerely committed to fighting poverty. In El Salvador the US played a major role in suppressing a movement striving to install such a government, and to a lesser extent played such a role in Honduras. And in Mexico, although Washington has not intervened militarily in Mexico since 1919, over the years the US has been providing training, arms, and surveillance technology to Mexico’s police and armed forces to better their ability to suppress their own people’s aspirations, as in Chiapas, and this has added to the influx of the impoverished to the United States. Moreover, Washington’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has brought a flood of cheap, subsidized US agricultural products into Mexico and driven many Mexican farmers off the land.
The end result of all these policies has been an army of migrants heading north in search of a better life. It’s not that these people prefer to live in the United States. They’d much rather remain with their families and friends, be able to speak their native language at all times, and avoid the hardships imposed on them by American police and right-wingers.
Washington Post, March 5, 1987
Associated Press, December 12, 2006
President Ahmadinejad Delivers Remarks at Columbia University, Transcript, Washington Post, September 24, 2007
Remarks by the President at AIPAC Policy Conference, White House Office of the Press Secretary, March 4, 2012
Washington Post, March 3, 2008
The Pentagon v. Peak Oil, TomDispatch.com, June 14, 2007
Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1990
It depends whether the miscreant enjoys “We will always have your back regardless”…. status
On March 6, 2012, the US Congressional Research Service released a report to the US Congress concerning Restrictions on the use of American weapons by recipient countries. For those who have followed the subject there was not a whole lot new in the CRS study, yet it is instructive in identifying Israel once again as far and away the most egregious violator of virtually every provision of every US law which purports to regulate how American weapons are used.
According to one CRS researcher, requesting anonymity during a Skype conversation and subsequent memo:
“An intern and I decided, almost for amusement, to count violations of US Arms Export Control laws by Israel between the date of ACEA enactment, 1976, through last month and we estimated more than 2.5 million violations if we applied the law given the legislative history and intent of Congress at the time of its passage. We based that figure on our estimation of each individual violation of the act as well as of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act. It could be firing a US 155 mm artillery shell, various missiles, bombs, rockets and of course cluster munitions. For example, were Israel brought before a Court, the prosecutors would surely argue that each cluster booklet dropped on Lebanon in 2006 was a separate violation plus the two million estimated dropped during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and during the 1978, 1993 and 1996 invasions. Add to this figure Israel’s records of violating US Arms export laws in Gaza, the West Bank and Syria and the true number is surely several million violations. Essentially all committed with impunity.”
In accordance with U.S. law, the U.S. Government is mandated to enforce strict conditions on the use against civilians, of weapons it transfers to foreign recipients. Violations of these conditions can lead to the suspension of deliveries or termination of contracts for such defense items, and even the cutting off of all aid to the violating country.
Section 3(a) of the 1976 US Arms Export Control Act (AECA) sets the standards for countries to be eligible to receive American arms and it also sets express conditions on the uses to which these arms may be put. Section 4 of the AECA states that U.S. weapons shall be sold to friendly countries “solely” for use in “legitimate self-defense, for use in “internal security,” and to enable the recipient country to participate in “collective measures requested by the United Nations for the purpose of maintaining or restoring international peace and security.”
Should the President or Congress determine pursuant to section 3(c)(3)(A) of the Arms Export Control Act that a “substantial violation” by a foreign country of an applicable agreement governing an arms sale or grant has occurred, then that country is automatically ineligible for further U.S. military hardware. This action would also terminate provision of credits, loan guarantees, cash sales, and deliveries pursuant to previous sales or grants. Other options include suspension of deliveries of defense items already ordered and refusal to allow new arms orders.
The United States has only once used such an option against Israel.
Questions raised by researchers in Beirut during the summer of 1982 and by Washington Post journalist Jonathan Randal regarding the use of U.S.-supplied military equipment by Israel in Lebanon in June and July 1982, led the Reagan Administration to determine on July 15, 1982, that Israel “may” have violated its July 23, 1952, Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with the United States (TIAS 2675) and the AECA.
The pertinent language of the 1952 agreement between Israel and the United States states: “The Government of Israel assures the United States Government that such equipment, materials, or services as may be acquired from the United States … are required for and will be used solely to maintain its internal security, its legitimate self-defense, or to permit it to participate in the defense of the area of which it is a part, or in United Nations collective security arrangements and measures, and that it will not undertake any act of aggression against any other state.”
Alarm centered on whether or not Israel had used U.S.-supplied antipersonnel cluster bombs against civilian targets during its carpet bombing West Beirut during the nearly three month siege.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on this issue in July and August 1982. On July 19, 1982, the Reagan Administration announced that it would prohibit new exports of cluster bombs to Israel. This prohibition was lifted by the Reagan Administration in November 1988 under US Israel lobby pressure on the White House designed to assist the Presidential campaign of George H. W. Bush against Senator Walter Mondale.
The facts of this case which mainly centered on events in Lebanon are instructive. During the 1973 Ramadan war, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, watching Arab forces advance on Israel troops following the October 6 Egyptian and Syrian offensive, and being advised by the Israeli Defense Ministry of a pending disaster, threatened President Nixon with Israel using nuclear weapons unless the US rescued Israel. Nixon’s immediate response was to order a massive air lift to Israel of US arms stockpiled for use in Vietnam at Clark air force base near Subic Bay, Philippines. The base commander at Clark immediately resigned because being on the defensive in Vietnam, he advised Washington US troops needed those weapons. Included were eight types of US cluster bombs including the M-42, M-46,CBU-58 A/B, APAM (BLU) 77/B, MK 20 “Rockeye”, MK 118 and he M-43 “Birdie” as the U.S. Marines in Beirut referred to the M-43 it in late 1982 and 1983.
During a late June 1982 meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Begin, Reagan was handed a note from George Shultz. Based on the information he had in hand, Reagan directly told Begin that the US had reliable information than Israel was using American weapons against civilians in Lebanon. At this point according to Reagan, Begin became very agitated. He lowered his glasses and while glaring at Reagan and shaking his index finger said, “Mr. President, Israel has never and would never use American weapons against civilians and to claim otherwise is a blood libel against every Jew, everywhere.” Following their meeting Reagan told Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, as reported by Weinberger and by various biographers of Reagan that “I did not know what the term “blood libel” meant, but I know that the man looked me straight in the eyes and lied to me.”
The original Secretary of State George Schultz suggestion to Reagan of Israel using two types (the M-42 and the CBU-58) of American cluster bombs was soon changed to the charge that Israel in fact used all eight types of American cluster bombs Nixon had sent to Meir during October 1973.
Proof of the use of the eight types of US cluster bombs was delivered to an assembly of US Pentagon and other officials in late July 1982 at the Indian Head Ordnance facility on the Potomac River in Southern Maryland on instructions from the late American Journalist Janet Lee Stevens to this observer. Substantive and still preserved demonstrative and physical evidence, including photographs and US cluster bombs, some of which still were filled with the high explosive minol, that were carried in my suitcase, that had been gathered from around West Beirut by Janet and her research team that included Palestinian fighters delegated by Yassir Arafat and Khalil al Wazir (Abu Jihad) some Marabatoun fighters, as well several Amal milita as well as this observer to aid with the task.
The US / Israel lobby accurately considers American arms control laws as meaningless. The prohibitions against Israel’s use of American weapons against civilians have not, are not and in all likelihood will never be enforced against Israel given the regime’s continuing occupation of much of the US government.
The once cherished American value of building a nation based on humane laws and the American national security interest of achieving a foreign policy that deals on the basis of equality with other nations have been sacrificed so as to delay the inevitable collapse of the apartheid colonial enterprise implanted on Palestine.
The Obama “we’ve got your back regardless” genuflection endangers America as surely as it threatens with US weapons, every country in the Middle East and beyond that may even contemplate challenging Zionism’s regional hegemony.
It’s high time for true American patriots to take back their country and rejoin the community of nations on the basis of equality and mutual respect for all, entangling and corrupting alliances with none.
Welcome to an edgy world where a single incident at an energy “chokepoint” could set a region aflame, provoking bloody encounters, boosting oil prices, and putting the global economy at risk. With energy demand on the rise and sources of supply dwindling, we are, in fact, entering a new epoch — the Geo-Energy Era — in which disputes over vital resources will dominate world affairs. In 2012 and beyond, energy and conflict will be bound ever more tightly together, lending increasing importance to the key geographical flashpoints in our resource-constrained world.
Take the Strait of Hormuz, already making headlines and shaking energy markets as 2012 begins. Connecting the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, it lacks imposing geographical features like the Rock of Gibraltar or the Golden Gate Bridge. In an energy-conscious world, however, it may possess greater strategic significance than any passageway on the planet. Every day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankers carrying some 17 million barrels of oil — representing 20% of the world’s daily supply — pass through this vital artery.
So last month, when a senior Iranian official threatened to block the strait in response to Washington’s tough new economic sanctions, oil prices instantly soared. While the U.S. military has vowed to keep the strait open, doubts about the safety of future oil shipments and worries about a potentially unending, nerve-jangling crisis involving Washington, Tehran, and Tel Aviv have energy experts predicting high oil prices for months to come, meaning further woes for a slowing global economy.
The Strait of Hormuz is, however, only one of several hot spots where energy, politics, and geography are likely to mix in dangerous ways in 2012 and beyond. Keep your eye as well on the East and South China Seas, the Caspian Sea basin, and an energy-rich Arctic that is losing its sea ice. In all of these places, countries are disputing control over the production and transportation of energy, and arguing about national boundaries and/or rights of passage.
In the years to come, the location of energy supplies and of energy supply routes — pipelines, oil ports, and tanker routes — will be pivotal landmarks on the global strategic map. Key producing areas, like the Persian Gulf, will remain critically important, but so will oil chokepoints like the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca (between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea) and the “sea lines of communication,” or SLOCs (as naval strategists like to call them) connecting producing areas to overseas markets. More and more, the major powers led by the United States, Russia, and China will restructure their militaries to fight in such locales.
You can already see this in the elaborate Defense Strategic Guidance document, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership,” unveiled at the Pentagon on January 5th by President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. While envisioning a smaller Army and Marine Corps, it calls for increased emphasis on air and naval capabilities, especially those geared to the protection or control of international energy and trade networks. Though it tepidly reaffirmed historic American ties to Europe and the Middle East, overwhelming emphasis was placed on bolstering U.S. power in “the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean and South Asia.”
In the new Geo-Energy Era, the control of energy and of its transport to market will lie at the heart of recurring global crises. This year, keep your eyes on three energy hot spots in particular: the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Caspian Sea basin.
The Strait of Hormuz
A narrow stretch of water separating Iran from Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the strait is the sole maritime link between the oil-rich Persian Gulf region and the rest of the world. A striking percentage of the oil produced by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE is carried by tanker through this passageway on a daily basis, making it (in the words of the Department of Energy) “the world’s most important oil chokepoint.” Some analysts believe that any sustained blockage in the strait could trigger a 50% increasein the price of oil and trigger a full-scale global recession or depression.
American leaders have long viewed the Strait as a strategic fixture in their global plans that must be defended at any cost. It was an outlook first voiced by President Jimmy Carter in January 1980, on the heels of the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan which had, he told Congress, “brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world’s oil must flow.” The American response, he insisted, must be unequivocal: any attempt by a hostile power to block the waterway would henceforth be viewed as “an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America,” and “repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”
Much has changed in the Gulf region since Carter issued his famous decree, known since as the Carter Doctrine, and established the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) to guard the Strait — but not Washington’s determination to ensure the unhindered flow of oil there. Indeed, President Obama has made it clear that, even if CENTCOM ground forces were to leave Afghanistan, as they have Iraq, there would be no reduction in the command’s air and naval presence in the greater Gulf area.
It is conceivable that the Iranians will put Washington’s capabilities to the test. On December 27th, Iran’s first vice president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi said, “If [the Americans] impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.” Similar statements have since been made by other senior officials (and contradicted as well by yet others). In addition, the Iranians recently conducted elaborate naval exercises in the Arabian Sea near the eastern mouth of the strait, and more such maneuvers are said to be forthcoming. At the same time, the commanding general of Iran’s army suggested that the USS John C. Stennis, an American aircraft carrier just leaving the Gulf, should not return. “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added ominously, “will not repeat its warning.”
Might the Iranians actually block the strait? Many analysts believe that the statements by Rahimi and his colleagues are bluster and bluffmeant to rattle Western leaders, send oil prices higher, and win future concessions if negotiations ever recommence over their country’s nuclear program. Economic conditions in Iran are, however, becoming more desperate, and it is always possible that the country’s hard-pressed hardline leaders may feel the urge to take some dramatic action, even if it invites a powerful U.S. counterstrike. Whatever the case, the Strait of Hormuz will remain a focus of international attention in 2012, with global oil prices closely following the rise and fall of tensions there.
The South China Sea
The South China Sea is a semi-enclosed portion of the western Pacific bounded by China to the north, Vietnam to the west, the Philippines to the east, and the island of Borneo (shared by Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia) to the south. The sea also incorporates two largely uninhabited island chains, the Paracels and the Spratlys. Long an important fishing ground, it has also been a major avenue for commercial shipping between East Asia and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. More recently, it acquired significance as a potential source of oil and natural gas, large reserves of which are now believed to lie in subsea areas surrounding the Paracels and Spratlys.
With the discovery of oil and gas deposits, the South China Sea has been transformed into a cockpit of international friction. At least some islands in this energy-rich area are claimed by every one of the surrounding countries, including China — which claims them all, and has demonstrated a willingness to use military force to assert dominance in the region. Not surprisingly, this has put it in conflict with the other claimants, including several with close military ties to the United States. As a result, what started out as a regional matter, involving China and various members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has become a prospective tussle between the world’s two leading powers.
To press their claims, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have all sought to work collectively through ASEAN, believing a multilateral approach will give them greater negotiating clout than one-on-one dealings with China. For their part, the Chinese have insisted that all disputes must be resolved bilaterally, a situation in which they can more easily bring their economic and military power to bear. Previously preoccupied with Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has now entered the fray, offering full-throated support to the ASEAN countries in their efforts to negotiate en masse with Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi promptly warned the United States not to interfere. Any such move “will only make matters worse and the resolution more difficult,” he declared. The result was an instant war of words between Beijing and Washington. During a visit to the Chinese capital in July 2011, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen delivered a barely concealed threat when it came to possible future military action. “The worry, among others that I have,” he commented, “is that the ongoing incidents could spark a miscalculation, and an outbreak that no one anticipated.” To drive the point home, the United States has conducted a series of conspicuous military exercises in the South China Sea, including some joint maneuvers with ships from Vietnam and the Philippines. Not to be outdone, China responded with naval maneuvers of its own. It’s a perfect formula for future “incidents” at sea.
The South China Sea has long been on the radar screens of those who follow Asian affairs, but it only attracted global attention when, in November, President Obama traveled to Australia and announced, with remarkable bluntness, a new U.S. strategy aimed at confronting Chinese power in Asia and the Pacific. “As we plan and budget for the future,” he told members of the Australian Parliament in Canberra, “we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.” A key feature of this effort would be to ensure “maritime security” in the South China Sea.
While in Australia, President Obama also announced the establishment of a new U.S. base at Darwin on that country’s northern coast, as well as expanded military ties with Indonesia and the Philippines. In January, the president similarly placed special emphasis on projecting U.S. power in the region when he went to the Pentagon to discuss changes in the American military posture in the world.
Beijing will undoubtedly take its own set of steps, no less belligerent, to protect its growing interests in the South China Sea. Where this will lead remains, of course, unknown. After the Strait of Hormuz, however, the South China Sea may be the global energy chokepoint where small mistakes or provocations could lead to bigger confrontations in 2012 and beyond.
The Caspian Sea Basin
The Caspian Sea is an inland body of water bordered by Russia, Iran, and three former republics of the USSR: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. In the immediate area as well are the former Soviet lands of Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. All of these old SSRs are, to one degree or another, attempting to assert their autonomy from Moscow and establish independent ties with the United States, the European Union, Iran, Turkey, and, increasingly, China. All are wracked by internal schisms and/or involved in border disputes with their neighbors. The region would be a hotbed of potential conflict even if the Caspian basin did not harbor some of the world’s largest undeveloped reserves of oil and natural gas, which could easily bring it to a boil.
This is not the first time that the Caspian has been viewed as a major source of oil, and so potential conflict. In the late nineteenth century, the region around the city of Baku – then part of the Russian empire, now in Azerbaijan — was a prolific source of petroleum and so a major strategic prize. Future Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin first gained notoriety there as a leader of militant oil workers, and Hitler sought to capture it during his ill-fated 1941 invasion of the USSR. After World War II, however, the region lost its importance as an oil producer when Baku’s onshore fields dried up. Now, fresh discoveries are being made in offshore areas of the Caspian itself and in previously undeveloped areas of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
According to energy giant BP, the Caspian area harbors as much as 48 billion barrels of oil (mostly buried in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan) and 449 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (with the largest supply in Turkmenistan). This puts the region ahead of North and South America in total gas reserves and Asia in oil reserves. But producing all this energy and delivering it to foreign markets will be a monumental task. The region’s energy infrastructure is woefully inadequate and the Caspian itself provides no maritime outlet to other seas, so all that oil and gas must travel by pipeline or rail.
Russia, long the dominant power in the region, is pursuing control over the transportation routes by which Caspian oil and gas will reach markets. It is upgrading Soviet-era pipelines that link the former SSRs to Russia or building new ones and, to achieve a near monopoly over the marketing of all this energy, bringing traditional diplomacy, strong-arm tactics, and outright bribery to bear on regional leaders (many of whom once served in the Soviet bureaucracy) to ship their energy via Russia. As recounted in my book Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, Washington sought to thwart these efforts by sponsoring the construction of alternative pipelines that avoid Russian territory, crossing Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to the Mediterranean (notably the BTC, or Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline), while Beijing is building its own pipelines linking the Caspian area to western China.
All of these pipelines cross through areas of ethnic unrest and pass near various contested regions like rebellious Chechnya and breakaway South Ossetia. As a result, both China and the U.S. have wedded their pipeline operations to military assistance for countries along the routes. Fearful of an American presence, military or otherwise, in the former territories of the Soviet Union, Russia has responded with military moves of its own, including its brief August 2008 war with Georgia, which took place along the BTC route.
Given the magnitude of the Caspian’s oil and gas reserves, many energy firms are planning new production operations in the region, along with the pipelines needed to bring the oil and gas to market. The European Union, for example, hopes to build a new natural gas pipelinecalled Nabucco from Azerbaijan through Turkey to Austria. Russia has proposed a competing conduit called South Stream. All of these efforts involve the geopolitical interests of major powers, ensuring that the Caspian region will remain a potential source of international crisis and conflict.
In the new Geo-Energy Era, the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Caspian Basin hardly stand alone as potential energy flashpoints. The East China Sea, where China and Japan are contending for a contested undersea natural gas field, is another, as are the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands, where both Britain and Argentina hold claims to undersea oil reserves, as will be the globally warming Arctic whose resources are claimed by many countries. One thing is certain: wherever the sparks may fly, there’s oil in the water and danger at hand in 2012.
Source: Michael T. Klare | TomDispatch.com
On July 9 I took part in a demonstration in front of the White House, the theme of which was “Stop Bombing Libya”. The last time I had taken part in a protest against US bombing of a foreign country, which the White House was selling as “humanitarian intervention”, as they are now, was in 1999 during the 78-day bombing of Serbia. At that time I went to a couple of such demonstrations and both times I was virtually the only American there. The rest, maybe two dozen, were almost all Serbs. “Humanitarian intervention” is a great selling device for imperialism, particularly in the American market. Americans are desperate to renew their precious faith that the United States means well, that we are still “the good guys”.
This time there were about 100 taking part in the protest. I don’t know if any were Libyans, but there was a new element — almost half of the protesters were black, marching with signs saying: “Stop Bombing Africa”.
There was another new element — people supporting the bombing of Libya, facing us from their side of Pennsylvania Avenue about 40 feet away. They were made up largely of Libyans, probably living in the area, who had only praise and love for the United States and NATO. Their theme was that Gaddafi was so bad that they would support anything to get rid of him, even daily bombing of their homeland, which now exceeds Serbia’s 78 days. I of course crossed the road and got into arguments with some of them. I kept asking: “I hate that man there [pointing to the White House] just as much as you hate Gaddafi. Do you think I should therefore support the bombing of Washington? Destroying the beautiful monuments and buildings of this city, as well as killing people?”
None of the Libyans even tried to answer my question. They only repeated their anti-Gaddafi vitriol. “You don’t understand. We have to get rid of Gaddafi. He’s very brutal.” (See the CNN video of the July 1 mammoth rally in Tripoli for an indication that these Libyans’ views are far from universal at home.)
“But you at least get free education and medical care,” I pointed out. “That’s a lot more than we get here. And Libya has the highest standard of living in the entire region, at least it did before the NATO and US bombing. If Gaddafi is brutal, what do you call all the other leaders of the region, whom Washington has long supported?”
One retorted that there had been free education under the king, whom Gaddafi had overthrown. I was skeptical of this but I didn’t know for sure that it was incorrect, so I replied: “So what? Gaddafi at least didn’t get rid of the free education like the leaders in England did in recent years.”
A police officer suddenly appeared and forced me to return to my side of the road. I’m sure if pressed for an explanation, the officer would justify this as a means of preventing violence from breaking out. But there was never any danger of that at all; another example of the American police-state mentality — order and control come before civil liberties, before anything.
Most Americans overhearing my argument with the Libyans would probably have interjected something like: “Well, no matter how much you hate the president you can still get rid of him with an election. The Libyans can’t do that.”
And I would have come back with: “Right. I have the freedom to replace George W. Bush with Barack H. Obama. Oh joy. As long as our elections are overwhelmingly determined by money, nothing of any significance will change.”
Postscript: Amidst all the sadness and horror surrounding the massacre in Norway, we should not lose sight of the fact that “peaceful little Norway” participated in the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999; has deployed troops in Iraq; has troops in Afghanistan; and has supplied warplanes for NATO’s bombing of Libya. The teenagers of those countries who lost their lives to the US/NATO killing machine wanted to live to adulthood and old age as much as the teenagers in Norway. With all the condemnation of “extremism” we now hear in Norway and around the world we must ask if this behavior of the Norwegian government, as well as that of the United States and NATO, is not “extremist”.
The Berlin Wall — Another Cold War Myth
The Western media will soon be revving up their propaganda motors to solemnize the 50th anniversary of the erecting of the Berlin Wall, August 13, 1961. All the Cold War clichés about The Free World vs. Communist Tyranny will be trotted out and the simple tale of how the wall came to be will be repeated: In 1961, the East Berlin communists built a wall to keep their oppressed citizens from escaping to West Berlin and freedom. Why? Because commies don’t like people to be free, to learn the “truth”. What other reason could there have been?
First of all, before the wall went up thousands of East Germans had been commuting to the West for jobs each day and then returning to the East in the evening; many others went back and forth for shopping or other reasons. So they were clearly not being held in the East against their will. Why then was the wall built? There were two major reasons:
1) The West was bedeviling the East with a vigorous campaign of recruiting East German professionals and skilled workers, who had been educated at the expense of the Communist government. This eventually led to a serious labor and production crisis in the East. As one indication of this, the New York Times reported in 1963: “West Berlin suffered economically from the wall by the loss of about 60,000 skilled workmen who had commuted daily from their homes in East Berlin to their places of work in West Berlin.” 1
In 1999, USA Today reported: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled , East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.” 2 Earlier polls would likely have shown even more than 51% expressing such a sentiment, for in the ten years many of those who remembered life in East Germany with some fondness had passed away; although even 10 years later, in 2009, the Washington Post could report: “Westerners say they are fed up with the tendency of their eastern counterparts to wax nostalgic about communist times.” 3
It was in the post-unification period that a new Russian and eastern Europe proverb was born: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.” It should also be noted that the division of Germany into two states in 1949 — setting the stage for 40 years of Cold War hostility — was an American decision, not a Soviet one. 4
2) During the 1950s, American coldwarriors in West Germany instituted a crude campaign of sabotage and subversion against East Germany designed to throw that country’s economic and administrative machinery out of gear. The CIA and other US intelligence and military services recruited, equipped, trained and financed German activist groups and individuals, of West and East, to carry out actions which ran the spectrum from juvenile delinquency to terrorism; anything to make life difficult for the East German people and weaken their support of the government; anything to make the commies look bad.
It was a remarkable undertaking. The United States and its agents used explosives, arson, short circuiting, and other methods to damage power stations, shipyards, canals, docks, public buildings, gas stations, public transportation, bridges, etc; they derailed freight trains, seriously injuring workers; burned 12 cars of a freight train and destroyed air pressure hoses of others; used acids to damage vital factory machinery; put sand in the turbine of a factory, bringing it to a standstill; set fire to a tile-producing factory; promoted work slow-downs in factories; killed 7,000 cows of a co-operative dairy through poisoning; added soap to powdered milk destined for East German schools; were in possession, when arrested, of a large quantity of the poison cantharidin with which it was planned to produce poisoned cigarettes to kill leading East Germans; set off stink bombs to disrupt political meetings; attempted to disrupt the World Youth Festival in East Berlin by sending out forged invitations, false promises of free bed and board, false notices of cancellations, etc.; carried out attacks on participants with explosives, firebombs, and tire-puncturing equipment; forged and distributed large quantities of food ration cards to cause confusion, shortages and resentment; sent out forged tax notices and other government directives and documents to foster disorganization and inefficiency within industry and unions … all this and much more. 5
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, of Washington, DC, conservative coldwarriors, in one of their Cold War International History Project Working Papers (#58, p.9) states: “The open border in Berlin exposed the GDR [East Germany] to massive espionage and subversion and, as the two documents in the appendices show, its closure gave the Communist state greater security.”
Throughout the 1950s, the East Germans and the Soviet Union repeatedly lodged complaints with the Soviets’ erstwhile allies in the West and with the United Nations about specific sabotage and espionage activities and called for the closure of the offices in West Germany they claimed were responsible, and for which they provided names and addresses. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Inevitably, the East Germans began to tighten up entry into the country from the West, leading eventually to the infamous Wall. However, even after the wall was built there was regular, albeit limited, legal emigration from east to west. In 1984, for example, East Germany allowed 40,000 people to leave. In 1985, East German newspapers claimed that more than 20,000 former citizens who had settled in the West wanted to return home after becoming disillusioned with the capitalist system. The West German government said that 14,300 East Germans had gone back over the previous 10 years. 6
Let’s also not forget that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever, and that the Russians in World War I and II, lost about 40 million people because the West had used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviet Union was determined to close down the highway.
We came, we saw, we destroyed, we forgot
An updated summary of the charming record of US foreign policy. Since the end of the Second World War, the United States of America has …
- Attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, most of which were democratically-elected. 7
- Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries. 8
- Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries. 9
- Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries. 10
- Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders. 11
In total: Since 1945, the United States has carried out one or more of the above actions, on one or more occasions, in the following 69 countries (more than one-third of the countries of the world):
The occult world of economics
When you read about economic issues in the news, like the crisis in Greece or the Wall Street/banking mortgage shambles are you sometimes left befuddled by the seeming complexity, which no one appears able to untangle or explain to your satisfaction in simple English? Well, I certainly can’t explain it all myself, but I do know that the problem is not necessarily that you and I are economic illiterates. The problem is often that the “experts” discuss these issues as if we’re dealing with hard and fast rules or laws, not to be violated, scientifically based, mathematically sound and rational; when, in fact, a great deal of what takes place in the real world of economics and in the arena of “expert” analysis of that world, is based significantly on partisan party politics, ideology, news headlines, speculation, manipulation, psychology (see the utter meaninglessness and absurdity of the daily rise or fall of stock prices), backroom deals of the powerful, and the excessive power given to and reliance upon thoroughly corrupt credit-rating agencies and insurers of various kinds. The agencies like Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s are protection rackets — pay our exorbitant fees or we give you a bad rating, which investors and governments then bow down to as if it’s the result of completely objective and impressive analytical study.
Then there’s the exceptions made for powerful countries to get away with things that lesser countries, like Greece, are not allowed to get away with, but all still explained in terms of the unforgiving laws of economics.
And when all other explanations fail to sound plausible, the experts fall back on “the law of supply and demand”. But that law was repealed years ago; just try and explain the cost of gasoline based on it, as but one example.
So there’s a lot to cover up, many reasons why the financial-world players can’t be as open as they should be, as forthright as the public and investors may assume they are.
Consider the US budget deficit, about which we hear a great deal of scare talk. What we don’t hear is that the most prosperous period in American history occurred in the decades following the Second World War — from 1946 to 1973. And guess what? We had a budget deficit in the large majority of those years. Clearly such a deficit was not an impediment to growth and increasing prosperity in the United States — a prosperity much more widely shared than it is now. Yet we’re often fed the idea of the sanctity of a balanced budget. This and other “crises” are typically overblown for political reasons; the current “crisis” about the debt ceiling for example. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan, now an independent columnist, points out that “regardless of whether the debt ceiling is raised the US government is not going to go out of business. … If Goldman Sachs is too big to fail, certainly, the US government is.”
In economic issues that occupy the media greatly, such as the debt ceiling, one of the hidden keys to understanding what’s going on is often the conservatives’ perennial hunger to privatize Social Security and Medicare. If you understand that, certain things become much clearer. Naomi Klein points out that “the pseudo debate about the debt ceiling … is naked class war, waged by the ultra rich against everyone else, and it’s well past time for Americans to draw the line.”
Consider, too, the relative value of international currencies. Logically, reasonably, if the British pound is exchangeable for two dollars, one should be able to purchase in Washington goods and services for two dollars which would cost one pound in London. In real life, this of course is the very infrequent exception to the rule. Instead, at places called “exchanges” in New York and Chicago and London and Zurich and Frankfurt a bunch of guys who don’t do anything socially useful get together each day in a large room, and amidst lots of raised voices, busy computers, and numerous pieces of paper, they arrive at a value for the pound, as well as for a barrel of oil, for a pound of porkbellies, and for various other commodities that affect our daily lives. Why should these speculators and parasites have so much influence over the real world, the real economy, and our real lives?
As a general rule of thumb, comrades, as an all-purpose solution to our economic ills, remember this: We’ll keep going around in crisis circles forever until the large financial institutions are nationalized or otherwise placed under democratic control. We hear a lot about “austerity”. Well, austerity has to, finally, visit the super-rich. There are millions (sic) of millionaires and billionaires in the United States and Europe. As governments go bust, the trillions of dollars of these people must be heavily taxed or confiscated to end the unending suffering of the other 95% of humanity. My god, do I sound like a (choke, gasp) socialist?
- New York Times, June 27, 1963, p.12 ↩
- USA Today, October 11, 1999, p.1 ↩
- Washington Post, May 12, 2009; see a similar story November 5, 2009 ↩
- Carolyn Eisenberg, Drawing the Line: The American Decision to Divide Germany, 1944-1949 (1996); or see a concise review of this book by Kai Bird inThe Nation, December 16, 1996↩
- See William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, p.400, note 8, for a list of sources for the details of the sabotage and subversion. ↩
- The Guardian (London), March 7, 1985 ↩
- http://killinghope.org/essays6/othrow.htm ↩
- http://killinghope.org/bblum6/suppress.html ↩
- See chapter 18 of Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower – add Palestine, 2006 to the list ↩
- http://killinghope.org/superogue/bomb.htm ↩
- http://killinghope.org/bblum6/assass.htm ↩
By Paul Craig Roberts | Trends Research Institute…
If today were April 1 and not May 2, we could dismiss as an April fool’s joke this morning’s headline that Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight in Pakistan and quickly buried at sea. As it is, we must take it as more evidence that the US government has unlimited belief in the gullibility of Americans.
Think about it. What are the chances that a person allegedly suffering from kidney disease and requiring dialysis and, in addition, afflicted with diabetes and low blood pressure, survived in mountain hideaways for a decade? If bin Laden was able to acquire dialysis equipment and medical care that his condition required, would not the shipment of dialysis equipment point to his location? Why did it take ten years to find him?
Consider also the claims, repeated by a triumphalist US media celebrating bin Laden’s death, that “bin Laden used his millions to bankroll terrorist training camps in Sudan, the Philippines, and Afghanistan, sending ‘holy warriors’ to foment revolution and fight with fundamentalist Muslim forces across North Africa, in Chechnya, Tajikistan and Bosnia.” That’s a lot of activity for mere millions to bankroll (perhaps the US should have put him in charge of the Pentagon), but the main question is: how was bin Laden able to move his money about? What banking system was helping him? The US government succeeds in seizing the assets of people and of entire countries, Libya being the most recent. Why not bin Laden’s? Was he carrying around with him $100 million dollars in gold coins and sending emissaries to distribute payments to his far-flung operations?
This morning’s headline has the odor of a staged event. The smell reeks from the triumphalist news reports loaded with exaggerations, from celebrants waving flags and chanting “USA USA.” Could something else be going on?
No doubt President Obama is in desperate need of a victory. He committed the fool’s error of restarting the war in Afghanistan, and now after a decade of fighting the US faces stalemate, if not defeat. The wars of the Bush/Obama regimes have bankrupted the US, leaving huge deficits and a declining dollar in their wake. And re-election time is approaching.
The various lies and deceptions, such as “weapons of mass destruction,” of the last several administrations had terrible consequences for the US and the world. But not all deceptions are the same. Remember, the entire reason for invading Afghanistan in the first place was to get bin Laden. Now that President Obama has declared bin Laden to have been shot in the head by US special forces operating in an independent country and buried at sea, there is no reason for continuing the war.
Perhaps the precipitous decline in the US dollar in foreign exchange markets has forced some real budget reductions, which can only come from stopping the open-ended wars. Until the decline of the dollar reached the breaking point, Osama bin Laden, who many experts believe to have been dead for years, was a useful bogeyman to use to feed the profits of the US military/security complex.
Whatever becomes of the truly pathetic “Pastor” Terry Jones and his plans to appear later this month at the largest Mosque in Michigan to condemn Islam and to generate some media attention while provoking all decent Americans and people of good will everywhere with his hate speech, will not be of much lasting import to Muslim and American relations.
Even as Jones prepares to act as grand inquisitor and plans to prosecute the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) for various imagined crimes, it reminds us that when it comes to intolerance, nothing is new under the sun in our land that beckons with its Statue of Liberty near Ellis Island in New York harbor:
“Give me your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/ The wretched refuse from your teeming shore/ Send these, the homeless tempest-tossed to me/ I lift my lamp before the Golden Door.”
Muslims and Arabs who began arriving in America in the middle of the 19th century have in many ways embodied the intended fulfillment of the American dream promised in the above words of Emma Lazarus. The reasons that Muslims are often described as being “As American as apple pie” includes exactly their qualities that every Westerner observes and often comments on if they are fortunate enough to live among Muslims abroad or have Muslims as neighbors in their communities in the USA.
These Muslim qualities, the product of Islamic culture and Koranic teachings, including the five pillars of Islam, result in strong law abiding families with respect for their elders, comprised of fun loving and hardworking individuals who sacrifice for their children, have respect for education, compassion for humanity and who perform acts of unsolicited charity for the less fortunate, and exhibit tolerance of the views of others.
Muslims make up slightly more than 1% of the 308 million Americans, but according to recent FBI statistics, since 9/11 and the seemingly eternal US government War on (of) Terror, Muslims in America are currently the target of nearly 15% of all hate crimes.
Robert Kennedy used to say during US Congressional hearings on hate crimes that approximately 20% of the American public is unfortunately quite capable and indeed ready for believing just about anything and acting violently toward their neighbors while being easily influenced toward racism, xenophobia, and hate of “ the other.”
It appears that not much has changed since the violence of the 1960’s in America when some of our best leaders were assassinated. Sociologists claim that the American penchant for irrationally fearing different cultures has been true since the founding of America and our history is replete with examples that belie the passages in our schoolbooks that claim that our country is a unique example of a grand melting pot. Rather, the current trend in America appears, according to a range of observers from left leaning Noam Chomsky to fairly hard right Pat Buchanan, to be an increasing fracturing along ethno-nationalist cleavages.
When Americans are incessantly exposed to US wars in the Middle East and the ranting of fellow Americans who support and seek political advantage from those wars, including the Christian Zionists and pro-Israel lobby, American society becomes vulnerable to hate speech and crimes.
While the US political establishment and American society at large has mounted a significant chorus condemning the views of Terry Jones, Daniel Pipes, Bridgette Gabriel and hundreds like them who seek political and cash profit from sowing domestic discord, much more must be done by every citizen to support real American values of tolerance and good neighborliness.
On Friday, March 4, 2011, the Zionist Middle East Forum launched another Israel backed anti-Muslim campaign to try to wedge the “Pastor Terry Jones” hate campaign against Islam and Muslims.
The current US Zionist lobby, with a reported budget of five million dollars includes the following ‘talking points’ with which the lobby intends to saturate the US public:
• “The Koran burning by Florida pastor Terry Jones has created hysteria in the Muslim world. In Afghanistan alone, some twenty people, including U.N. workers, have been killed and beheaded to screams of “Allahu Akbar!” Western leaders around the globe—including Obama and members of Congress—have unequivocally condemned Jones’ actions (without bothering to point out that freedom of expression is a prized American liberty)
• Western leaders rush to profess their abhorrence at what one American did to one inanimate book, what about what Muslims are doing to living and breathing Christians around the Islamic world—to virtually no media coverage or Western condemnation:
Baghdad church attack
• We should also mention the jihadist attack on a Baghdad church, killing 52 Christians; the New Year’s eve Coptic church explosion, killing 21; Muslim rampages that destroyed several churches in Indonesia, Nigeria, and the Philippines; Iran’s “round up” of some 70 home-worshipping Christians; and Kuwait’s—a nation that owes its very existence to U.S. war sacrifices—rejection to build a church.
• Such is the surreal and increasingly irrational world we live in, where irate Muslims and groveling Westerners obsess over the destruction of one book while ignoring the destruction of many human lives; where a guaranteed and hard-earned American right—freedom of expression—receives a lot of condemnatory huffing and puffing from those charged with protecting it, while murderous and barbarous—in a word, evil—behavior is devoutly ignored.
With carefully organized and well-funded hate campaigns as illustrated above, America does, in a sense have a “Muslim problem” but it can be remedied by every American working in her or his community exposing profoundly un-American effort to sew religious and cultural discord.
In a deepening tragedy, after an earthquake and tsunami caused four explosions at nuclear reactor plants in Japan, most of those who evacuated the area headed south, since winds normally would have pushed the radioactive clouds to the north and east. Instead, winds pushed the r-clouds south, according to The Australian. The shift in winds now threatens Hawaii with fallout from the Fukushima nuclear facilities.
Officials finally admit radiation has reached lethal levels in the area surrounding the explosions. Tokyo, 200 miles to the south, is also seeing higher levels of radiation. “[A]bnormal radiation and traces of radioactive elements were detected around Greater Tokyo, the world’s most populous metropolitan region with 36 million people.”
The paper also noted that “Hong Kong, The Philippines, Singapore and South Korea began testing Japanese food imports for radiation yesterday.”
Though initial mainstream news sources downplayed the danger, mocking the following map which has gone viral, it now seems wise for North Americans on the West Coast to consider relocating, at least temporarily. Radioactive winds are expected to hit North America tonight.
Below is the sequence of events based on current information:
Reactor No. 1. First explosion, March 11 at Fukushima Daiichi plant on east coast, 200 miles north of Tokyo. A hydrogen explosion caused by nuclear fuel rods overheating and then coming into contact with water collapsed the outside walls and roof of containment vessel. Hourly radiation leaking from Fukushima is equal to amount permitted in one year, official tells Kyodo. The nuclear agency says that they have detected cesium and iodine outside the unit, which certainly indicates fuel melting at the very least. Noriyuki Shikata, Dir. of Communitions for Prime Minister tweets: Blast was caused by accumulated hydrogen combined with oxygen in the space between container and outer structure. No damage to container. (BradBlog citing several sources)
Reactor No. 3. Second explosion, March 12 Containment vessel housing the fuel rods was not breached, per officials. Explosion damaged the reactor building, but not the nuclear containment vessel. The Fukushima facility began using MOX (mixed oxide) fuel last September, becoming the third plant in Japan to do so. MOX fuel has a lower melting point than the other fuels and contains plutonium, making it more volatile and toxic than the fuel used in other reactors. (Also see BradBlog and CLG, collected here.)
Reactor No. 2. Third explosion, March 13 The emergency cooling system at Unit 2 was damaged during the Unit 3 blast, resulting in the uranium fuel rods at 2 becoming dangerously, and completely, exposed for a number of hours. Containment vessel is damaged, radiation leak feared. Bottom of containment vessel blows. There are several containers around the nuclear fuel for the reactor. The fuel itself is inside rods, which are, in turn, inside a steal and concrete container vessel, currently filled — or partially filled, in this case — with sea water, to try to cool the fuel rods. If the container vessel, “the last line of defense from keeping the radioactivity from being released,” has been damaged by the explosion, fuel and radioactivity could leak into the environment. (BradBlog and CLG, collected here.)
Reactor No. 4. Fourth explosion, March 14 Spent nuclear fuel in the reactor heated up, creating hydrogen and triggered a hydrogen explosion. Officials now admit that radiation levels are harmful to human health. (Washington’s Blog citing several sources.)
BBC reports “Japanese engineer Masashi Goto, who helped design the containment vessel for Fukushima’s reactor core, says the design was not enough to withstand earthquakes or tsunami …” MSNBC notes there are 23 virtually-identical reactors in the U.S. built by General Electric.
This global catastrophe highlights the lunacy of building nuclear power plants on an island that sees 1,500 earthquakes a year.
U.S. Human Rights Policy is Self-serving and Duplicitous: George Katsiaficas…
George Katsiaficas is a renowned university professor, sociologist, author and activist. He is a visiting American Professor of Humanities and Sociology at Chonnam National University, Gwangju, South Korea where he teaches and does research on the 1980s and 1990s East Asian uprisings.
Katsiaficas has a Ph.D. of sociology from the University of California, San Diego. Since 1990, he has taught sociology at the Wentworth Institute of Technology’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. During the period between 2006 and 2008, he was an Associate in Research at the Harvard University and Korea Institute.
He specializes in social movements, Asian politics, the U.S. foreign policy, comparative and historical studies and has written numerous books in these fields.
In 2003, he won the American Political Science Association’s Special Award for Outstanding Service and in 2008, received the Fulbright Senior Scholar Research Fellowship.
Among his major books are “The Battle of Seattle” by the New York’s Soft Skull Press, “Liberation, Imagination and the Black Panther Party” by New York’s Routledge Press and “South Korean Democracy: Legacy of the Gwangju Uprising” by London’s Routledge Press.
What follows is the complete text of interview with Dr. George Katsiaficas on the recent uprising in the Arab world, its impacts on the international developments and its implications for the United States and its European allies.
Kourosh Ziabari: After Tunisia and Egypt in which the revolutionary forces and people on the ground succeeded in ousting the U.S.-backed puppets, several other Arab nations joined them and staged massive street demonstrations to call for civil liberties, improved living conditions, freedom and democratic governments. Now the whole Arab world is in a state of turmoil and unrest and the U.S.-backed dictators are facing the bitter reality that their autocracies are about to fail and collapse. What factors led to the extension of anti-government protests to the whole Arab world? Can we interpret this collective uprising a result of the explosion of strong pan-Arabist sentiments?
George Katsiaficas: No one could have predicted that the suicide of a vegetable vendor in rural Tunisia would unleash long pent-up frustrations on such a scale. If we take a long historical view, the Arab world went into a steep decline after Europeans discovered how to round Africa and established direct trade with the East. While oil has provided a huge stimulus for recovery in the 20th century, its effects have been drastically mitigated by elite corruption. The Arab people are finally awakening from a long slumber. The masses of ordinary Arabs today know in their hearts that they are more intelligent than their rulers. They know that they could all live better lives if they could get rid of the corrupt and often stupid elites trampling on their freedoms and hogging the money that rightfully belongs to everybody.
The phenomenon of uprisings spreading from place to another and drawing in ever more sectors of the population is one that I first uncovered when I studied the global movement of 1968. Unlike armed insurrections of the early part of the 20th century, the New Left involved a rapid proliferation of popular unarmed revolts—historically a new phenomenon. As I pulled together my empirical studies, I was stunned by the spontaneous spread of revolutionary aspirations in a chain reaction of uprisings and the massive occupation of public space—the sudden entry into history of millions of ordinary people who acted in a unified fashion, intuitively believing that they could change the direction of their society. Although they were not united by any centralized organization or even loosely tied together by any coordinating body, everyone was inspired by the heroic struggle of Vietnam. All over the world—from Paris to Prague, Chicago to Mexico City, and Dhaka to Beijing—people’s revolutionary aspirations and actions were not only synchronized, but they were also remarkably similar to each other in their international solidarity and desire for self-government.
After analyzing the proliferation of the global movement, especially the strikes of May 1968 in France and May 1970 in the US, I coined the term the “eros effect” to explain the rapid emergence of global solidarity and love. From my case studies, I came to understand how in moments of the eros effect, universal interests become generalized at the same time as the dominant values of society are negated (such as national chauvinism, hierarchy, and individualism). At that time, for example, opinion polls consistently showed that Ho Chi-minh was more popular than Richard Nixon on American college campuses. See The Imagination of the New Left: A Global Analysis of 1968 (Boston: South End Press, 1987.)
At first glance, the current revolt appears to be confined to the Arab world, but in fact, it has already had a much wider effect: Gabon, Iran, and China have all felt the tremors from the rising in Egypt. Even workers in Wisconsin, who are fighting cutbacks in their standard of living, expressed admiration for, and inspiration from, the Egyptian uprising. Certainly pan-Arab sentiments are a driving force, yet they are not essential. People feel in their bones that change is possible—and not only in the Arab world.
KZ: Many Iranians believe that the uprisings of Tunisia and Egypt have been inspired by Iran‘s Islamic Revolution of 1979. They compare the overthrowing of U.S.-backed Mubarak and Ben Ali to the dissolution of Mohammad Reza Shah’s government which was unconditionally supported by the United States and its European allies. Do you find such a relationship between these revolutions which took place during an interval of 32 years?
GK: Revolutions and popular uprisings have unexpected results—and not necessarily immediate ones. Even generations later, people’s memories and psyches assimilate lessons from previous eaves of struggles. The courage of Iranians in 1979, their withstanding of ferocious repression by the Shah and his forces, was evident for people all over the world, and inspired Haitians and Filipinos to overthrow their dictators. In 1987, I wrote that, “In the epoch after 1968, popular movements have internalized the New Left tactic of the occupation of public space as means of social transformation, and this tactic’s international diffusion led to the downfall of the Shah, Duvalier, and Marcos…the significance of the eros effect and the importance of synchronized world-historical movements will only increase.”
KZ: In your recent article, you’ve compared the new Middle East revolutions to the Korea’s 1987 June Uprising when after 19 consecutive days of massive street demonstrations, people could finally bring down the 26-year autonomy of military forces and hold direct presidential elections. In what ways are these movements similar to each other?
GK: In both cases, people basically fought with bare hands against mighty police forces and defeated them. Thousands of ordinary citizens claimed the right to remain together in public and refused to go home when ordered to do so. Small informal leadership circles emerged in the course of popular struggles, drawn initially from extant activist circles but also porous enough to admit many newcomers from a variety of constituencies. Most significantly, both revolts were quickly ended by the peaceful retirement of the incumbent president and vague promises made by the military—which in both cases remained in power as the uprising subsided. It took South Koreans another five years of struggle before the first civilian was elected president, and it took until 1996 to put the previous dictators in prison. While one agreed to the order to return some US$300 million that he had stolen from the public, Chun Doo-hwan famously testified he had less than $100 to his name—thereby losing his honor but keeping a fortune of perhaps $700 million. Both sums pale in comparison to the estimated fortune amassed by Mubarek. It remains to be seen how much of the Mubarek family holdings will be recovered—or, more importantly, whether or not Egypt will move toward substantive democracy. The longer people adopt a “wait and see” attitude, the less chance there is of change. Millennia of pharonic rule and dictatorships are not easily undone.
KZ: The Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is said to have deposited $90 billion in Italian and other European banks. Since 1990s, the European states moved towards normalizing their ties with the dictator and supported him both politically and financially. Now, these Western states with which the Libyan dictator was once a close friend are calling for a unified international action against him. The old friend has now become a bitter enemy. Isn’t this an exercise of double standards by the Western governments?
GK: This double standard is nothing new. The US has a long history of riding on the backs of dictators in Third World countries and then tossing them away like a used car once they have outlived their usefulness. Longtime Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos was ousted with US approval in 1986; the CIA maintained real time connection to the rebels and provided them with invaluable intelligence information. Much earlier, in 1961, Rafael Trujillo, who had ruled the Dominican Republic with an iron fist for decades, was assassinated. Many people suspect the CIA provided the assassins with the weapons they used. In 1963, Ngo Dinh Diem, who had faithfully served US interests in South Vietnam from 1956 to 1963, was overthrown in a military coup about which the US had advance knowledge, and US refusal to assist him led to his assassination. Many people believe long-time US ally Park Chung-hee, ruler of South Korea from 1961 to 1979, was killed with advance US approval.
KZ: The media have reported that the mercenaries of Colonel Gaddafi have so far killed more than 6,000 protesters in Tripoli and other cities of Libya. What’s your prediction for the political future of Libya? Gaddafi has vowed to remain in power and “die as a martyr”; however, the protesters, despite the large-scale crackdown by the government haven’t retracted from their stance and are still calling for the ouster of the old dictator. What will be the outcome of these tumultuous clashes in Libya? Will the revolution finally end in the overthrowing of Muammar Gaddafi?
KZ: That is a life and death question for thousands of Libyans. It is too early for us to tell whether or not the armed revolt will prevail. With the US and NATO already overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Joints Chiefs are resisting the call by conservatives here to implement a no-fly zone and come to the assistance of the rebels. We should not forget that Gaddafi has played ball with the US in recent years, and he is certainly calling in every favor he is owed. In 1980, the US encouraged Korean General Chun Doo-hwan to suppress the democratic popular uprising in Gwangju. There can be no doubt that it may well stand by and watch as Gaddafi crushes those opposed to his rule.
KZ: Prof. Rashid Khalidi believes that the recent uprisings in the Arab countries have transformed and changed the mainstream media’s portrayal of the Muslim world. The people that were once introduced as fanatic terrorists and extremists are now being called freemen who sacrifice their lives for the sake of achieving freedom and liberty. Do you agree with this viewpoint? Has the communal uprising of the Arab world changed the public’s viewpoint regarding the Arabs and Muslims?
GK: In my view, US public opinion has not really shifted much. The self-organization of armed resistance to Gaddafi astounds American journalists. American young people note with amusement that soccer and dating web sites were used by young Libyans to organize their uprising, but my students complain that they feel burdened by the region’s peoples looking to the US for help.
I suspect the change in Arabs’ own self-understanding is far more significant. For too long, the role of public opinion and the importance of ordinary people has been disregarded in the region, especially by insurgencies, which instead of seeking to stimulate popular movements and raise consciousness, instead pinned their hopes on elites or organized armed commando actions. The first and most influential shift occurred with the first Palestinian intifada in the late 1980s. The people’s uprising was ruthlessly crushed—remember Yitzhak Rabin’s orders to break bones of unarmed children—but the spirit of popular resistance was kindled throughout the region.
KZ: We already know that the authoritarian regimes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya are among the major human rights violators in the world; however, the United States and its European cronies who frequently boast of their concerns about the preservation of human rights and freedom have been long indifferent to the persecution of political activists, incarceration of journalists and bloggers and other abuses of human rights in these countries. On the other hand, the superpowers have always employed the excuse of human rights for pressuring the independent and non-aligned nations such as Iran. What do you think about this dualistic approach?
KZ: From the very beginning, US human rights policy has been self-serving and duplicitous. In the name of democracy and enlightenment, the US exterminated millions of Native Americans. The US government broke nearly every treaty it ever signed with native peoples, a sad history known as the “Trail of Broken Treaties.” It would be laughable if it were not so tragic that a country based upon enslavement and murder of millions of Africans and genocide against Native Americans, a country that killed at least three million Koreans and more than two million Indochinese, a country that today is massacring thousands more in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, could seek to instruct anyone on “human rights.” Yet it is precisely a self-righteous belief in American freedom and superiority that motivates continuing genocide.
President Jimmy Carter, with whom the modern version of human rights policy is thought to originate, collaborated with Indonesian generals in the bloody invasion of East Timor. Carter approved the suppression of the Gwangju Uprising at the cost of hundreds of lives. Years later, when evidence of his actions could be assembled, a Peoples Tribunal found Carter and 7 other high US officials guilty of “crimes against humanity for violation of the civil rights of the people of Gwangju.” Five months afterwards, Carter was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. The hypocrisy continues unabated. Obama enlarges the war in Afghanistan and attacks Pakistan, and he, too, is awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Should we be surprised that an award named after the inventor of dynamite provides international legitimation of Western imperialism and aggression?
KZ: As my final question, what’s your prediction for the future of Arab countries which have been engulfed by the waves of popular upsurge in the recent weeks? Will the autocratic regimes of the Persian Gulf region finally yield to the demands of the protesting revolutionaries?
Unfortunately, my prognosis is that the region will continue to be burdened by corrupt elites, but also that existing rulers will have to permit larger circles of economic innovators to emerge and grant people a wider range of civil liberties. With a population of 90 million, Egypt barely managed to manufacture what Costa Rica (population 900,000) could produce. Historically speaking, uprisings have opened the doors to subsequent economic development, as we readily see today in East Asia.
I suspect that substantive democracy in the Arab world (nor practically anywhere else for that matter) is not in the cards—at least for now. Elections may well be permitted but, as in the US, candidates will reflect the dominant parties, not any meaningful alternative. Military spending will continue to be lavish and result in enormous waste of resources. Militarized nation-states armed with weapons of mass destruction, although widely understood as historical anachronisms, will continue to reign supreme. Ordinary people’s dreams of a world at peace reveals a wisdom that far surpasses their rulers’ capacity to think, yet the resultant contradiction requires a globally synchronized effort to result in real change.
In my view, the synchronicity of revolts and occupation of public space that began in 1968 is continually widening its circles. Besides the overthrow of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, we saw a wave of uprisings after Gwangju that spread in six years from 1986 to 1992 through the Philippines, Burma, Tibet, China, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Thailand. This most recent emergence of the eros effect in the Arab world indicates that popular movements are building to an even more intense climax, to a global uprising that might finally bring an end to the scandalous control of humanity’s collective wealth by a handful of billionaires.
It is essential to take William (“Bill”) Kristol seriously. He has been so utterly wrong on so many things (America’s ability to run the world, NATO, Turkey, the Balkans, Chechnya, Iraq, Sarah Palin, Russia, Iran, Georgia, John McCain, missile defense . . . ) that his pronouncements merit respect. Being consistently wrong—in the fleeting guise of things measurably empirical, that is—they contain a deeper wisdom. Kristol’s “analysis” is the equivalent of Tetzel’s dropping penny: The form may seem inane, but the message reverberates in faraway places.
Bill Kristol matters, so please bear with me and endure the longest quote I’ve ever copied to these pages over the past decade, because a mere hyperlink won’t do:
[H]ysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.
Nor is it a sign of health when other American conservatives are so fearful of a popular awakening that they side with the dictator against the democrats. Rather, it’s a sign of fearfulness unworthy of Americans, of short-sightedness uncharacteristic of conservatives, of excuse-making for thuggery unworthy of the American conservative tradition…
The idea that democracy produces radical Islam is false: Whether in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian territories, or Egypt, it is the dictatorships that have promoted and abetted Islamic radicalism . . . Nor is it in any way “realist” to suggest that backing Mubarak during this crisis would promote “stability.” To the contrary: The situation is growing more unstable because of Mubarak’s unwillingness to abdicate. Helping him cling to power now would only pour fuel on the revolutionary fire, and push the Egyptian people in a more anti-American direction . . .
[O]ne of the most hopeful aspects of the current conservative revival is its reclamation of the American constitutionalist tradition. That tradition is anchored even beyond the Constitution, of course, in the Declaration of Independence. And that document, let’s not forget, proclaims that, “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.” An American conservatism that looks back to 1776 cannot turn its back on the Egyptian people. We should wish them well—and we should work to help them achieve as good an outcome as possible . . . American conservatives should remember our commitment, in the words of Federalist 39, to “that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.”
Egypt turns out to have its votaries of freedom. The Egyptian people want to exercise their capacity for self-government. American conservatives, heirs to our own bold and far-sighted revolutionaries, should help them.
I do not know where to start, so I won’t: All I have to say in response to this is contained in my earlier writings, and plagiarizing oneself is no compliment to oneself.
And yet . . . Call me a conspiracy theorist, but the magnitude of Kristol’s idiocy is so breathtaking that it cannot be accidental. There are 12 to 15 red flags one could grab and exploit for all their rhetorical, logical, historical, legal, and moral worth.
I prefer to leave the parsing to our on the whole astute and intelligent online commentators. Bill Kristol matters. Treat him like one of Will Shortz’s Sunday morning mind games. Enjoy!
Will Armies Establish His Kingdom?
German Christians helped elect Hitler to power and supported his aggressive policies during the 1930s and beyond. American Christians supported President George W. Bush and the imperialistic invasion of Iraq. Though many are now dubious there is still substantial support for an American victory and widespread reverence for our troops.
The military has been a respected branch of our government since the birth of the nation. We fought the Indians and replaced them, first, in the East and later across the entire continent; we fought for our independence from Britain, twice; we invaded and appropriated Texas, California and the remainder of the West; over 600 thousand of our citizens died when the government exerted its power to enforce its Constitutional jurisdiction; we fought the Spanish for sections of the South and killed 200 thousand Filipinos to control the Philippines; we waved our flag and sent our young men to Europe to die for the dreams and avarice of the world’s elite, twice; we ventured into the human morass of the Far East and fought pointless wars in Korea and Vietnam; now, with troops in 140 of the world’s nations we are engaged in a decade old, war in the Middle East where we have constructed embassies and built fortifications that imply an intent to remain permanently. American Christians have, for the most part, supported our aggressive behavior.
President George W. Bush characterized the invasion of Iraq as an altruistic venture to establish democracy but instead the infrastructure has been destroyed, tribal conflicts flourish, hundreds of thousands have been killed, millions of citizens have fled, and those that remain live in a police state lacking many of life’s essentials. It was a selfish war than won us a measure of hegemony at a terrible cost in suffering and hatred.
Though this tragic disregard for human life has exacerbated Islamic hatred for “The Great Satan”, many American Christians fear Islam, have developed a visceral dislike for Muslims and Arabs, and support killing as many as possible.
C-Span ran an historical program on Robert E. Lee. His military genius and religious fervor beamed forth in spite of an obvious bias. The program assumed that slavery was the issue and the defeat of the South was a victory for righteousness. One commentator maintained both sides believe God was on their side. It was mentioned that Lee was a pious man but no distinction was made between the battlefield conduct of the opposing armies and nothing was presented on the rights of the Southern States to secede. It was a pro-war documentary.
It seems God has included a sufficient number of paradoxes in His Word to confound human reason. He promised to His chosen people of a land of milk and honey and His participation in a forcible conquest and genocide has provided an aggressive theme that is foreign to the Law given to Moses. The spirit of manifest destiny prevalent in Colonial America was responsible for the slaughter of the indigenous Indian population. The same spirit is at work in the Middle East as neo-Israel is slowly annihilating the original inhabitants of the land they now occupy.
The Huguenots were French Calvinists. Wikipedia’s definition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huguenot includes this telling description: “In their countries of refuge, Huguenots fostered a distinctive French Protestant identity that enabled them to remain aloof from the culture of their host society. In all cases Huguenots asserted themselves as a self-confident minority, convinced of the superiority of their language and culture, and believed themselves to be privileged in this world as in the next.”
Chosen by God, obedient Christians are privileged members of society. This distinction has been lost in the effete Christian theology of our time. Christians are meant to be the wisest, most productive, most obedient, and most peaceful people in God’s creation. We are to enjoy privileges and blessings not accorded outsiders. When God gave Moses the Law He gave His people a gift that could make them superior to their neighbors. In the 26th Chapter of Leviticus God records the blessings resulting from obedience to His Law. “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I will give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Indeed, your threshings will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land. But you will chase your enemies, and they will fall before you by the sword; five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword. So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you and I will confirm my covenant with you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”
Recently, a Christian minister whose work I respect called me to account for condemning Manifest Destiny and the murder of the American Indians. He wrote “Viewing what occurred with the American Indians from Yahweh’s sovereignty (thus, His intention, for whatever reason, for them to be either killed and dispossessed), could it be possible that like the Canaanites that the Indians’ iniquity had finally gotten to the point that Yahweh unleashed His wrath upon them, providing a homeland for Christianity to (hopefully) flourish?”
The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. He can do with it as He sees fit. If He decides to wipe out a population and allow His chosen people to occupy their land His action is righteous and He has every right to do so. However, the Old Testament nation God created on the Promised Land was not an imperialistic entity. Its battles resulted from disobedience and were against invaders and indigenous enemies of their own creation. God gave the nation victory and defeat in accordance with the blessing and cursing of obedience and disobedience. He did not order a Babylonian genocide or direct His people to invade the pagan world.
Peace is a product of obedience to God’s Commandments. God will not fight on the side of those who ignore His Law. Failure to obey results in the transgressor being on the losing side of the conflicts his behavior has created. God may use people and nations that He has not specifically chosen but His dealings with His chosen people are different than with those He has not chosen. Since He gave the Law to Moses as a gift that would make his chosen people superior to their neighbors He still expects His chosen people to obey His Law and when they ignore the Law He ignores their plight and their efforts fail. For decades American Christians have been working to change our political system. They have failed.
God’s promise to provide His people with a land of milk and honey and His orders to slay its indigenous population was a unique, one-time event that was not to be repeated. It is our duty to obey God’s Law in all of our affairs and to bring to the world the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. If we are obedient God will extend His Kingdom and not only our nation but the remainder of the world will be blest.
Unfortunately, the United States of America has never been a Christian nation. It has never had a Christian government; it has never enjoyed theological agreement or religious unanimity. The seeds of discord were planted in Europe before the major immigration to the New World. When the Constitution was drafted there were Catholics, and various Protestant denominations. The Biblical structure for a Christian nation requires agreement between the people and their leadership to worship the One True God exclusively and obey His Commandments. We have always been a nation overwhelmingly populated by professing Christians. But the “Christian” description is misleading because the theological divergence between Catholics and Protestants produces a serious separation which becomes even more serious with the major differences among the various Protestant denominations. These differences are so severe they create different religions which contend with another. At the founding there was more agreement among the nation’s leaders over Masonry than there was in the population over Christianity.
Christians are meant to be a privileged people. As He did throughout the Bible, God chooses His people and provides them with His Law so that they might receive blessings far above their pagan neighbors. They are royalty, Heaven bound through the forgiveness provided by God’s own Son, and when they have subdued the enemy they are destined to live in peace.
Jesus claimed He was not bringing peace but a sword. He was not supporting imperialism but instead a robust proclamation of the Gospel of forgiveness and obedience and a fearless confrontation of the devil’s activities along with a stout solution.
For a nation that has never been invaded the United States of America has fought an inordinate number of wars. Some have gained territory but most have caused the premature deaths of millions of people and accomplished nothing.
The theological heresy that contends that God’s people must wait for the return of Christ before working to establish His hegemony is as paralyzing as the fixation on the imminent return of Christ. Christians have been chosen to be warriors for God’s Kingdom. Their primary vocation is to extend God’s hegemony over His creation by reminding the world of His Law and the blessings of obedience. We must be zealous for a Christian world and we must understand that God will work with us in bringing about that endeavor.
A real Christian nation will be blest with peace both within and without.
Just released yesterday, a November 19, 2009 leaked cable indicates Pope Benedict XVI supports genetically modified foods, though he will not publicly admit it. A June 2009 cable from the US Vatican Embassy confirmed the Pontiff’s refusal to take a stance on GM foods, which was verified in December 2010 by a Vatican spokesperson. However, this latest cable tells quite a different story:
“Linking development with use of agricultural technologies (i.e., biotechnologies), Benedict stressed good governance and further infrastructure development as essential to increasing food security over the long-term. (Note: Benedict’s mention of agricultural technologies is a small but significant step towards more vocal Vatican support of biotechnologies. End Note)”
The analyst further concludes:
“While the Vatican’s message on caring for the environment is loud and clear, its message on biotechnologies is still low-profile (ref. b). Quietly supportive, the Church considers the choice of whether to embrace GMOs as a technical decision for farmers and governments.”
Providing much more analysis than the June 2009 cable, the November 2009 cable indicates strong support within the Vatican scientific community, which apparently remains unaware of the biotech industry’s penchant for suppressing science:
“The Vatican’s own scientific academy has stated that there is no evidence GMOs are harmful, and that they could indeed be part of addressing global food security. However, when individual Church leaders, for ideological reasons or ignorance, speak out against GMOs, the Vatican does not — at least not yet — feel that it is its duty to challenge them.”
Vatican proponents of GM foods may have missed several scientific reports  that highlight problems with GMOs. As previously reported, several times:
“GM foods have been linked to organ damage and sterility in mammals, while others correlate rising diabetes and obesity rates with GMO introduction. There’s also the question of allergic reaction to GM foods, proof of which is hidden by lack of labeling.
“GM crops (and GM forests) are genetically modified to produce or tolerate pesticides. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, has been linked to birth defects, cancer and miscarriages in humans. Pesticides are suspected in causing or contributing to mass bee, bat and butterfly die-off, as well as a pandemic amphibian decline. Their use is also linked to 11 million acres of superweeds in the U.S.
“Further, GM crops cannot be contained. They’ve spread in nations all over the world, even becoming established in the wild.”
Given such strong evidence of environmental harm, the Pope’s strong advocacy of the environment would logically include opposition to GM crops. In fact, we find the opposite.
This latest cable further confirms that globally promoting genetically modified foods is a high priority for the US State Department. As discussed in a prior piece, numerous leaked cables reveal a strong focus by embassy officials on cataloging how nations perceive GMOs, boosting GM acceptance in Africa, and even going so far as to discuss spiking food prices to spur GM acceptance in Europe. The latest cable is no different:
“Post will continue to lobby the Vatican to speak up in favor of GMOs, in the hope that a louder voice in Rome will encourage individual Church leaders elsewhere to reconsider their critical views. End Comment.”
Strong opposition within the church cites the monopoly control over food held by multinational corporations:
“The Vatican cannot force all bishops to endorse biotechnology, he said, particularly if their opposition has to do with concerns over protecting profits oflarge corporations who hold the patents for the crops, versus feeding the hungry. In the Philippines, he noted, bishops strongly protested GMOs in the past. (Note: South African Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier’s November 16 comments to a news agency that ‘Africans do not need GMOs, but water’ is another example of specific Church leaders skeptical about the potential benefits of new biotechnologies. End note.).”
Corporate control of the food supply is only one problem with biotech foods, albeit a major one. After fourteen years of commercial experience, the U.S. is fast becoming the poster child for why nations, and the Church, should reject such technology.
 See, e.g.:
GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible? Summary of scientific evidence on genetically modified soy and the effects of the herbicide glyphosate, Sept. 2010
Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years, The Organic Center, November 2009
Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops, Union of Concerned Scientists, April 2009
50 Harmful Effects of Genetically Modified Foods by Nathan Batalion, 2000, rev. 2009
By Jeanna Bryner | LiveScience.com…
In hopes of bolstering our defenses in the event of a major food crisis, researchers sent tens of thousands of seeds from different types of rice last week to a “doomsday vault” in the archipelago Svalbard.
Contained in black boxes, the 42,627 samples of rice seeds traveled to the mountains of the Norwegian archipelago, about 746 miles (1,200 kilometers) from the North Pole. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is buried deep inside the icy mountains, where it protects all of the world’s important crop seeds in case of a man-made or natural disaster.
The rice collection was sent from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), whose first deposit to the doomsday vault included 70,180 rice-seed samples sent in 2008. If ideal temperature and storage conditions remain inside the vault, seeds can be stored for hundreds of years, scientists say.
Polar bear protection
The giant icebox of sorts, which was officially opened on Feb. 26, 2008, is designed to protect the world’s crop diversity from natural or man-made disasters.
The vault, which officially opened on Feb. 26, 2008, is dug into the Platåberget mountain (“plateau mountain”) located near the village of Longyearbyen, Svalbard – a group of islands north of mainland Norway. The arctic permafrost offers natural freezing for the seeds, while additional cooling brings the temperatures down to minus 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 degrees Celsius).
And if the mountain of snow enshrouding the storage rooms wasn’t enough protection, what better bodyguard than one of nature’s biggest beasts.
“The region on Svalbard surrounding the seed vault is remote, severe, and inhabited by polar bears,” according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which helps to support the vault’s operations.
The preciousness of such seeds is reflected in the inaccessible nature of the vault. “Anyone seeking access to the seeds themselves will have to pass through four locked doors: the heavy steel entrance doors, a second door approximately 115 meters down the tunnel and finally the two keyed air-locked doors,” the Trust writes. “Keys are coded to allow access to different levels of the facility. Not all keys unlock all doors.”
Like all seeds coming to the vault, the new ones are duplicates of those from other collections – in this case, duplicates are from those kept by IRRI’s International Rice Genebank in Los Baños, in the Philippines.
So if seeds are lost due to natural disasters, war, or lack of resources, the seed collections can be reestablished from Svalbard.
The vault can hold 4.5 million seed samples — and since each sample contains about 500 seeds, a maximum of 2.25 billion seeds will fit into the vault. That means all the unique seed samples conserved today by the 1,400 or so genebanks located across the globe could have duplicates in the seed vault.