This is my column in the latest edition of CounterPunch print magazine: The title of one of Christopher Logue’s multi-volume reworkings of Homer’s Iliad stands as the perfect encapsulation of our age: All-Day Permanent Red. We live in a time when the collective amygdala has been stoked into overdrive, sending messages of blank, blind fear that overwhelm the centers of reason, empathy and openness in our brains, propelling us into a state of inchoate anxiety that seeks release in tropes of extremist certainty and spasms of violence – active, verbal or vicarious.
William Arkin has long been an outstanding investigator of the “National Security State,” bringing to light many of its sinister operations. But he seems to have looked into the abyss too long, for now, in a recent article in Cryptome, he is offering a counsel of despair that reflects the worst and most extreme stances of the National Security State toward terrorism, while completely overlooking that same State’s role — still continuing today — in fostering, funding and arming Islamic extremism.
Never seen anything like this. And it's no surprise that it would take a Black female cop to take this type of stand pic.twitter.com/7wdPFjPqW4
Surprised -- but glad -- to see how scathing the Chilcot Report turned out to be. It’s not a criminal indictment, but already, just the bullet points from Chilcot's press conference are highly damning of Blair as a leader: rushing headlong into a totally unnecessary war, with very dubious legal backing, ignoring reports on the likely consequences of the invasion, bowing to belligerent US wishes at every turn, showing incredible disregard for the soldiers he was sending in to occupy a country (and for the innocent civilians of that country, who, Chilcot notes, died in vast numbers) and knowingly exaggerating murky intelligence to justify the unnecessary campaign. All of these points are now thoroughly established and can’t be disputed, whatever else one might say about Blair's motives or moral turpitude or criminal responsibility. It has been confirmed -- by the British establishment itself -- that Blair led the country into an unmitigated disaster that has destabilized the world and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. What a nightmare. What an endless nightmare. And as the Chilcot Report is released, let's remember how the Baath Party, and Saddam's particular faction, came to power in Iraq in the first place: with not one but two coups backed by the White House and assisted by the CIA, which provided the plotters with hit lists of "suspected Communists and leftists" for mass execution, as Roger Morris reported long ago, just before the...
JeSuisBaghdad? Iraqi flag colors on the Eiffel Tower, the White House? No? Wrong sort of victims, I guess. The responsibility for Sunday’s carnage in Baghdad — and countless other killings around the world — goes directly to George W. Bush and Tony Blair, who willingly, even eagerly, launched a war of aggression on false evidence and tore the entire region apart. ISIS was spawned in the brutal prisons Bush & Blair set up after the invasion, and has thrived in the chaos that US/UK policies have fomented in all the years since, particularly in Libya and Syria. But these two men walk free, honored and enriched, while thousands upon thousands of innocent people continue to die for their ignorant, arrogant, murderous folly.
The victims in Orlando were killed because of who they loved, who they desired, and for no other reason. The massacre was not “an attack on our country.” It was a savage hate crime against gay people by a known homophobe (and aspiring policeman) trained in the use of weapons by the world’s largest corporate security firm. Although like so many “lone wolf” terrorists (and would-be terrorists), the Orlando killer was “on the FBI’s radar,” we don’t yet know — and may never know — if he, like many of his predecessors, had been encouraged and enabled by the FBI to pursue a terrorist action. But that he was driven primarily by hatred of homosexuality seems certain.
My latest column from the CounterPunch print magazine: The tangled tropes of Trump are many and various. Most have at least a tincture of veracity in them — although the phenomenon of his candidacy is so vast and gaseous it’s not surprising that some discharge from it would fall, like mist, or a wet clump of coagulate matter, on scattered bits of the truth here and there.
Another day, another Trump delegate calling for the violent overthrow of the government. This sort of thing used to be frowned upon, I believe, but now is simply par for the political course. The odd thing, of course, is that if Obama wasn't black, he would be a conservative's dream. He's opened up more offshore drilling than Bush, expanded fracking, deported more people than any president in history, killed thousands of Muslims (and is currently bombing seven Muslim countries), raised military budgets, cut federal taxes to their lowest levels in 60 years, cut social programs, spent almost 8 years trying to strike a "grand bargain" with Republicans to cut Social Security and Medicare (until this week when, in his last months in office, he's suddenly decided we should increase Social Security), worked hard to derail public healthcare in favor of a program drawn up by a conservative think-tank and first used by a Republican governor, put troops on the Russian border, beefed up US military presence in Asia to threaten China, supported right-wing coups in Latin America, gave Wall Street trillions of dollars in bailouts and credits, refused to prosecute any CIA officials for torture (despite admitting "we tortured some folks"), jailed more whistleblowers than any other president, pushed fanatically pro-business trade treaties, and so on.
In the warm twilight of a spring evening 15 years ago, in the quiet, green garden of Rhodes House at Oxford, I watched Bill Clinton give an impromptu talk to a group of graduate students who had gathered around him with their glasses of wine after an official function earlier in the day. (I was there in a service capacity.) He was pushing the same line he espoused last week while campaigning for Hillary, when he declared that he had “killed himself” to get a state for the Palestinians at the high-stakes Camp David summit in 2000. At one point in the twilight talk at Oxford, he quoted — or claimed to quote — Yasser Arafat as testimony to his altruistic efforts: “Arafat told me, ‘Mr President, you have done more for the Palestinian people than all the Arab leaders combined!’” Sadly, the pressures those short-sighted Arabs brought to bear on Bill’s friend Yasser thwarted Clinton’s painstaking and heroic labors on the Palestinians’ behalf, and the summit failed.