Blood Money: Four More Years of Drug War Horror with HRC

Written by Chris Floyd 03 March 2016 11966 Hits

The Drug War, like the Terror War, is essentially a vast machine for profiteering by the purveyors of weapons and tools of repression. Like the Terror War, the Drug War demonstrably exacerbates the problems it purports to address, and has led to widespread chaos, death and state corruption of almost unfathomable levels. And Hillary Clinton, almost certain to be the next president, is deeply complicit in both of these malevolent enterprises.

Clinton's extensive and eager involvement in the genuinely insane hyper-militarizataion of American policy in the so-called War on Terror is well-attested. Indeed, she boasts of it, trumpeting how she urged a reluctant Obama into destroying Libya, for example: a "great victory" which she famously celebrated by crowing over the rape and murder of Libyan leader Moamar Gaddafi: "We came, we saw, he died!" The neocons who pressed for the war of aggression against Iraq -- which Clinton supported -- are now flocking to her banner, as are the war profiteers and their Wall Street allies. And why not? Clinton is the most hawkish Democratic candidate since Henry Jackson. The blood money will continue to flow like the Nile in flood under her watch.

But Clinton's role in the Drug War is perhaps less well-known. Jesse Franzblau remedies this with an excellent article at CounterPunch, noting her instrumental role in the slaughterfest and corruption feast that the Drug War has spawned in Mexico. Franzblau writes of the $2.5 billion Merida Initiative:

Negotiated behind closed doors in the last years of the Bush administration, the plan was originally proposed as a three-year program. Yet Hillary Clinton’s State Department pushed aggressively to extend it, overseeing a drastic increase of the initiative that continues today.

Much of this aid goes to U.S.-based security, information, and technology contracting firms, who make millions peddling everything from helicopter training to communications equipment to night-vision goggles, surveillance aircrafts, and satellites.

This aid comes in addition to the direct sales of arms and other equipment to Mexico authorized by the State Department, as Christy Thorton pointed out in a 2014 New York Times op-ed. Those sales reached $1.2 billion in 2012 alone, the last full year of Clinton’s tenure. Indeed, as the Mérida Initiative has grown, Mexico has become one of the world’s biggest purchasers of U.S. military arms and equipment.

But while sales have boomed for U.S.-based contractors, the situation in Mexico has badly deteriorated. The escalation of U.S. counter-drug assistance in the country has paralleled a drastic increase in violence, fueling a drug war that’s killed more than 100,000 people since 2006.

Turning Mexico into a major fountain of war profits: quite another accomplishment for a secretary of state whose skills have been lavishly praised by no less than Henry Kissinger, her close friend and advisor. Franzblau goes on to lay out, in grim detail, how Clinton's State Department, openly flouting U.S. law, increased its cooperation with Mexican military and law enforcement units known to be perpetrating horrific human rights abuses:

Human Rights Watch reported in 2011, for example, on widespread cases of torture in Guerrero going back to 1994. The group noted regular abuses by police and military forces, including “cases of homicide, torture, and extortion” overseen by the judicial police chief in the northern part of the state. The same report highlighted strong evidence of the involvement of military officials from Chilpancingo in cases of kidnapping and disappearances in 2010, as the U.S. embassy was clearing officials for training from the same military base.

The payoff for these illegalities has been sweet for the future president:

Notably, several of the contractors that profited from U.S. security assistance in Mexico — such as General Electric, Lockheed Martin, and United Technologies Corporation, which owns Sikorsky — reportedly contributed to the Clinton Foundation. And according to the transparency group Open Secrets, Clinton currently tops the list of all 2016 presidential candidates in campaign contributions from the military contracting industry.

By the end of Clinton's first term in 2021, we will be in the 20th year of the Terror War -- and the 50th year of the Drug War. How many more lives, how many more communities, how many more countries will be laid waste by these inhuman engines of greed and power -- and their "progressive" champions -- in that time?

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Keep a Vital Light Burning: Help for Arthur Silber

Written by Chris Floyd 15 February 2016 8766 Hits

Again, apologies for the dearth of blogging. A lot of reasons for this, but I hope to get back to more activity in these precincts soon. (Meanwhile, you can check out quick shots on my Twitter feed.) But today I just want to note that Arthur Silber continues to struggle with catastrophic health problems and financial straits. If you have anything to spare, head over to his place and give him some help. [Link: http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/damn.html.]

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Grazing in Heaven: A Martyr for the Barons' Rebellion

Written by Chris Floyd 27 January 2016 9949 Hits

RIP, LaVoy Finicum, hero of the Oregon Bund. You died so that one day -- and may it be soon, almighty God! -- all wealthy armed extremists whose sweetheart contracts with the federal government undercut poorer ranchers by skewing the free market for grazing fees will be able run cattle on every wildlife refuge across the width and breadth of this great land, and desecrate Indian relics wherever they find them.

Never forget that this is the glorious cause for which a noble martyr widowed his wife and orphaned his children, and for which he had expressed his fierce willingness to take the life of anyone who tried to stop him. Those who already have money and land must be able to leverage the gains from their cozy federal deals to acquire even more money and land at public expense. Otherwise, your children and my children, and their children's children, will never be truly free. For who among us can know liberty when the slightest fetters are placed on the godly greed of our cattle barons?

Now, sweet prince, take your ease in the wide and fenceless pastures of Heaven. Be assured that we shall not -- we cannot -- we dare not rest until all the land stolen by murder and plunder from the Native Americans is safely in the hands of monied white men packing heat and sporting camo. We shall overcome!

***

Note: And just for the record, no, I don’t approve of police killing or heavy-handed tactics by the federal government (even regarding land use). But it seems foolish to pretend that this Bundyist op in Oregon is anything other than a Barons’ Rebellion, for their own aggrandizement – although of course it has also attracted the support of many others for whom the term “federal government” is a trigger word with a single, fearful meaning: DATOM! (Darkies Are Taking Our Money!)

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Pay as You Go: Refugee Crisis Sparks Return to Traditional European Values

Written by Chris Floyd 15 January 2016 9332 Hits

"Switzerland joins Denmark in seizing assets from refugees to cover costs." (Guardian). This is such a great idea. Confiscate anything that might help refugees support themselves (then demonize them for being "a drain on taxpayers," of course). But why stop at "seizing assets" to make them "pay for their upkeep"? Why not, say take their gold teeth? Their hair? You know, for stuffing pillows or something. How about using them as forced labor? So many possibilities -- and plenty of examples from history on what can be done! Of course, a cheaper alternative to the refugee crisis might be to quit waging wars and supporting wars, extremism, tyranny and corruption in their homelands. But that would make our own poobahs feel less important (and less flush with profiteering cash). And we certainly can't have that.

*Sorry; the link function doesn't seem to be working today. Here is the story: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/15/switzerland-joins-denmark-in-seizing-assets-from-refugees-to-cover-costs?CMP=share_btn_tw

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Danse Macabre: Blessed Be the Bipartisans

Written by Chris Floyd 13 January 2016 8731 Hits

"And so I said, 'We came, we saw, he died!' And now they've got death and chaos up the wazoo! Have I not done well, Master?"

"Finished your training you have. Well you have done. But far yet must you go your teacher to match. My words you recall when Cambodia we destroyed with fire from the sky? 'It's an order, it's to be done. Anything that flies on everything that moves. You got that?' Happy conduit I was for the death of so many. But surpass me you might, when power is yours. Befall it may you your promise to keep to 'obliterate Iran.' So many more millions your harvest awaits.

"May it be so, Master, may it be so."

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Seeing Ghosts: History's Nightmares Return in Syria

Written by Chris Floyd 11 January 2016 7216 Hits

(Sorry for the dearth in posting. Hope to do more soon, if anyone is still out there. Meanwhile, here's my column from last month's CounterPunch print magazine.) *** Just hours after the UK Parliament’s vote to bomb Syria on December 2, four British jets were scrambling from their base in Cyprus, on their way to strike oilfields held by ISIS. The launch point, Akrotiri, one of two UK bases on the island, was apt: Cyprus was one of the last colonies acquired by Britain — formally annexed in 1925, as the tidal wave of the Empire’s “late Victorian holocausts” was slowly beginning to ebb away. Now it serves the Empire’s withered rump as Britain joins France’s continuing attacks on its own former “protectorate,” Syria.

The Cyprus-based operation is an extension of Britain’s ongoing bombing campaign in its former colony — sorry, “mandate” — of Iraq: three former Ottoman provinces jammed together by London after its betrayal of the Arab forces it used as cannon fodder during the First World War, promising them liberation then dividing up their lands with the French. It took a savage bombing campaign against what Winston Churchill liked to call the “recalcitrant tribes” of the region before it was “pacified” into acquiescence — and laid open for exploitation of its oil. This was 95 years ago; and except for the technology — and the now-longer reach of the recalcitrant tribes — not much has changed.

Vast interests in oil and natural gas — both existing and potential — are in play behind the strutting moralizers striking poses in Parliament, the White House and the Elysee. (And in the Kremlin too, of course.) Competing pipelines — one favoring the West, undercutting Russia, the other bolstering Moscow and Tehran — are in the mix. (No points for guessing which one Assad decided to back, just before he stopped being a Hillary-praised “reformer” and became the new Saddam.) Now, as then, the imposition of Western dominance over the region — regardless of its form and nomenclature: colony, protectorate, ally, partner — also remains a paramount concern.

The fierce recalcitrants of ISIS take a back seat to these higher strategic goals. Although Britain’s rather pipsqueaky addition to the vast tonnage of ordnance that the US and France are raining down on Syria is, we’re told, a vital part of the allied effort to “defeat ISIS militarily,” it’s plain that this defeat is in no way a priority of our modern Churchills. If “defeating ISIS” really was their top strategic priority, then of course they would make common cause with all the forces now fighting the group — the Syrian army, Iran, Hizbollah, the Kurds — while cutting off ISIS’s supply-and-oil lifelines through Turkey and stopping the powerful financial institutions who are profitably washing ISIS’s money through their well-appointed boardrooms.

This is not happening because defeating ISIS — or quelling terrorism, for that matter — is not their main goal in Syria. Imposing regime change, for power and profit, is. ISIS plays an ambiguous role in this, as both hindrance and help. Although they are the most powerful force trying to unseat Assad, their very public brutality — continually amplified by the West’s own fearmongering media/political class — means they can’t be used as the chief “liberators” of Damascus. On the other hand, ISIS keeps Assad tied down and weakened, which neatly serves our leaders' purposes.

What's more, ISIS has already been instrumental in yet another regime change sought by Washington: the ouster of Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki. (Yes, the man who took charge after the previous regime change imposed by Washington.) Barack Obama — to his credit, I guess — was very open about this. As he told an ever-fawning Thomas Friedman in August 2014: the reason “we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as [ISIS] came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of al-Maliki.”

Washington didn’t find him useful anymore — he was “corrupt” (although of course he was a piker compared to the multi-trillion-dollar corruption of Washington’s Terror War complex), he was too close to Iran, he was too “sectarian” (i.e., he was the inevitable product of the American occupation’s hideous policy of hardening Iraq’s sectarian differences in a replay of the British Empire’s tried-and-true ‘divide and conquer’ strategy) — so he had to go. ISIS was thus allowed to grow — conquer cities, seize oilfields, murder civilians — in order to force Iraq to change its government.

Now, having failed to dislodge Assad from power early on and impose a more compliant regime in Damascus, our leaders have decided that the dismemberment of Syria is now their next best option. Multi-sided, hydra-headed, interminable, intractable conflict — plus continued radicalization and intermittent terrorist attacks — will be the only result of the outside military interventions in Syria, just as it was in Iraq and Libya. (And Somalia and Yemen.)

But if we've learned anything in the course of this wretched 21st century of ours, it's that history no longer exists. Or rather, it exists, but like a ghost few can see, exerting no pressure on our contextless present, informing no decisions, providing no nuance to public understanding.  What happened in the last decade, last year, last week -- much less a hundred years ago -- melts into air, into thin air, leaving a baseless fabric that our politicians and their paymasters shape with their lies and manipulations.

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Two-Second Atrocity: A Sick Society Exudes Its Stench

Written by Chris Floyd 30 December 2015 6948 Hits

Tamir Rice, 12, carrying a toy gun, was shot two seconds after the officer arrived. It's overwhemingly obvious that the officer went on the call intending to kill the "suspect" immediately. No warning, no talk, just an instantaneous draw-and-fire. But he faces no charges at all for what was obviously an intent to kill, regardless of the circumstances. Contrast the treatment of Dylann Roof -- an adult mass murderer on the run, subject to an "armed and dangerous alert" (which means that officers should expect to face an immediate and deadly threat).

When Roof was found by police, he was politely asked to surrender his weapon -- then taken for a hamburger by the officers before being carried to jail. An armed cold-blooded killer on the run, approached with reasonable but nonviolent caution, treated with respect and compassion (as all suspects should be). But a 12-year-old boy, in a park, with a toy, suspected of nothing other than being "suspicious" by some random fearful caller, is killed in two seconds -- in two seconds -- a 12-year-old killed in two seconds.

The reason for the different treatment is obvious -- and a searing indictment of a nation that arrogantly preaches to others about values and morals and rights and democracy. Preachments accompanied, of course, by missiles, bombs, hospital raids, regime change, weapons sales to tyrants and extremists and other instances of high morality and universal values. The killer of Tamir Rice bears his own individual guilt -- but in our sick society, the fish rots from the head.

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STW Head Joins Cameron & Blairites in Twisting Truth on "Whirlwind" Post

Written by Chris Floyd 12 December 2015 8012 Hits

An open letter to Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War coalition: In your Guardian interview with John Harris, you joined David Cameron and the pro-war Blairites in completely mischaracterising my “Reaping the Whirlwind” blogpost. You said you objected to it because it did not “completely condemn the Paris massacres.” This is absolutely untrue — as you would know if you had actually read the article which your own organisation posted on its website (without asking me) then removed. I ask you now to read this passage from the blogpost: “I write in despair. Despair of course at the depravity displayed by the murderers of the innocents in Paris tonight.” Is that not “complete” enough for you?

Yet your statement to Harris is, in many ways, even more egregious than the twistings of the article made by the Tories and Blairites to attack your organisation. You say, falsely, that I did not “completely condemn” the attacks. So what does that mean? That I partially approved them? Is there a certain wording — a ritual incantation, a party line — that must be followed in order to qualify for “full” condemnation? Perhaps you could post it on your website, so we can all sing from the same hymn sheet.

Your statement is not only false and near-libellous, it is ludicrous on its face. The entire article is about the despair and anguish so many of us were feeling about evil of the Paris attacks — and our further despair that the policies of our own nations, particularly the US and UK, have been instrumental in creating a world where such self-evident evil can flourish. Jeremy Corbyn — and many other people associated with Stop the War — have made these very same points, both before and after the Paris attacks. In what way is it “extremely insensitive,” as you put it, to speak of this element of our despair over the Paris atrocity, along with the specific, complete condemnation of it as the “depravity [of] the murderers of the innocents in Paris”?

Let me point out, for the nth time, that it was your organisation that put “Paris” in the headline of the article, therefore skewing perceptions of its actual content and giving an opening to your enemies among the warmongers and the seething factionalists in the Labour Party. Yet instead of simply saying, “We did not want this post by someone outside the organization to represent the official position of Stop the War” — which would have been fair enough — you instead decided to join Cameron and the Blairites in twisting the post’s clear meaning, and painting me as someone who didn’t “fully condemn” the attacks; again, leaving behind the imputation that there was some element of this horrific crime that I did not condemn, or perhaps even approved.

It was no great shock to see how the Tory-Blairite pro-war coalition seized on my article to bash your organisation; but it is very surprising — and very disheartening — to see you do the same thing. I “completely condemn” the Paris attacks, Mr Murray. I completely condemned them in the article which your organisation posted without my permission. I don’t know why you wish to compound the problems that the article has caused you by continuing to misrepresent it just as Cameron and others have done.

Oh, by the way: do feel free to post this piece on your website.

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Gutless Wonders: America Gladly Thrusts Its Neck Under the Jackboot

Written by Chris Floyd 11 December 2015 6113 Hits

Just a quick thought: when did America become a nation of such gutless, frothing cowards? Induced panics -- political, 'moral,' financial, etc. -- are an endemic feature of American history, of course. But to see people positively revelling in their cowardice -- proud of it, boasting of it, building their lives around it -- as they are today seems like something new, in degree if nothing else. Certainly since the McCarthy days, at least.

For example, I lived through an era when a global superpower had a vast nuclear arsenal on hair-trigger alert aimed directly at the US -- yet there was nothing remotely like the level of quivering fear we see today over the extremely remote threat of some isolated terrorist incident here or there. (A threat more remote than, say, being killed by a right-wing extremist, a disturbed person with easy access to guns, a local policeman -- or even your next of kin.)

There are many factors behind this, I suppose -- not least the frenzied and mendacious fearmongering of that nation-poisoning trash-merchant, Rupert Murdoch. But all of our corporate media have moved in that direction. Because fear serves more than just Fox's bottom line or the political fortunes of sinister clowns like Trump (and Cruz and Rubio and the Bush Boys and the whole sick crew). I think fear is being promoted across the board to "justify" an entire political-economic system that is now geared almost entirely to rampant militarism and rapacious financial elitism. No system of such vast and growing inequality -- coupled with an ever-expanding military-security-war profits complex that is bankrupting the national treasury, stripping away constitutional liberties, and fomenting extremism and violence around the world -- can long survive, unless it keeps people in a constant, chaotic whirl of fear and panic: fear which must be directed outward, toward one sort of alien OTHER or another (Mexicans, Muslims, Commies, Russkies, Chinese, radicals, etc.). Anything to divert attention from the crimes and corruption of our own power structures, which are wreaking more destruction on "the American way of life" than any terrorist organization could ever do.

It's not surprising that people would be influenced by such a relentless barrage of fearmongering lies, distortions and exaggerations pouring down on their heads every minute of the day from the "commanding heights" of our society. But is disheartening to see how eagerly and zealously so many Americans are rushing to embrace the degradation and servitude our "betters" are striving to impose.

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Broken Record: The "Whirlwind" of Mendacity in Labour Plotting Goes On

Written by Chris Floyd 07 December 2015 4727 Hits

[NEW UPDATE. The Guardian has just published the letter below, so I've edited the intro here.] As the ersatz angst over Jeremy Corbyn’s links to Stop the War UK flares up once more in the endless plotting of Labour factionalists, my post-Paris blog post about “reaping the whirlwind” has raised its “disreputable” head again. With the latest mentions continuing the universal misrepresentation of the post, I wrote the letter below to the Guardian, in yet another wan attempt to set the record straight:

To the Editor:
As the author of the original "reaping the whirlwind" blog that was briefly reposted (without my knowledge and with a tweaked headline) by Stop The War UK, I can assure Tristram Hunt and all the other MPs who have used the piece as a political football that it did not say or imply that the people of France or "French policy" were to blame for the Paris attacks. Every public reference to the post has been a complete mischaracterisation of its content.



The post states clearly that we in the West, all of us, are paying for the consequences of many decades of collusion with and manipulation of religious extremism by our leaders in order to advance various geopolitical goals. Is this even a controversial — much less "disreputable" — statement? For example, does anyone, even the prime minister, dispute that the rise of ISIS stems directly from 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US and UK? The post also dealt with other historical follies, such as creating an international jihad army to draw the Soviets into Afghanistan (a ploy that Zbigniew Brzezinski has proudly admitted), and the decades-long support of religious extremists such as Saudi Arabia.



Even some supporters of bombing Syria say that our past crimes and follies in the region make us responsible for taking action now to rectify their horrific consequences. One can argue whether new military action is the best way to do this; I don't think it is. But the views in the blog post are not beyond the pale of human decency, to be shunned at all cost. On the contrary, they have been part of mainstream political debate for years.



I'm not a member of the Labour Party or STW or Momentum or any other political group. It has been disheartening — though highly instructive — to see how the opinions of a private citizen can be so twisted by a political system that puts the struggle for petty partisan advantage above all else.

Sincerely yours,
Chris Floyd

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Racist Compassion: The Magical Pigmentation Protection Against "Terrorism"

Written by Chris Floyd 29 November 2015 4259 Hits

Look, here’s how it is: a white man dressed in Klan robes and a Nazi armband could shoot up a kindergarten shouting, “I’m a racist fascist terrorist deliberately committing terrorist acts to terrorize society!!!”, and the New York Times would still characterize him as “troubled soul, struggling with personal issues, an imperfect but a good man.” That’s just how it is. There is literally nothing — nothing — that a white killer can do in America that will cause him to be labelled a “terrorist.” Even if, like Dylann Roof, he explicitly states that he is committing an overt act of terror in order to instigate a race war and overthrow American society as it is now constituted. Even then, he’s not a “terrorist;" he's troubled young man, a "lone wolf" who wandered down the wrong path. It is simply impossible in the current American political discourse — even in “sophisticated” up-market media outlets like the New York Times —for a white man to be a terrorist.

Of course, anyone whose mind and psyche breaks down to such an extent that they open themselves to evil ideas and kill innocent people actually should be looked upon as a “troubled soul.” Something has gone wrong somewhere with them; something, or many things, have bent them and twisted them toward such a malevolent destiny. But in our media, in our public discourse, this kind of nuanced understanding is never, ever, in any circumstances, accorded to anyone but white male murderers. Therefore, we can only conclude that it is the white skin of the killers that evokes this careful, even compassionate understanding of what could and should be seen as part of our universal human tragedy: the brokenness that afflicts so many of us, that corrodes our humanity and drives us to horrific acts. And thus we can further conclude from the media treatment of these incidents that our society — even high on its most ‘enlightened’ commanding heights, like the NYT — believes that anyone who is not a white man is less than human. That's how it is. That's how we are, as a society and a civilization. To deny this fact is to live in delusion -- a delusion that, indeed, corrodes one's humanity and bends toward malevolent destinies.

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