Doctor King and the Obama Doctrine: Undoing the Dream of Justice

Written by Chris Floyd 10 March 2012 5711 Hits

An alternative scenario rooted in ghastly reality:

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama today bestowed posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom awards on the "Deep Six" team of national security operatives who carried out the extrajudicial killing of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

"For too long, these heroes have gone unsung," the president said in a Rose Garden ceremony with the surviving widows and children of the six men -- a super-secret team comprised of agents of the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service, along with two Green Berets -- who staged the successful operation at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, more than four decades ago.

"They executed their assignment with professionalism and patriotism, setting a standard that our special ops still follow today in similar actions all over the world," said President Obama. "They were shadow warriors, whose noble mission could not be acknowledged in those tense and turbulent times. But today, we have a better understanding of the hard choices and tough actions that are required to preserve our national security. Today we can openly praise what once was kept hidden. This is the kind of progress that makes America great."

The existence of the Deep Six team only came to light two months ago, after the discovery of a set of mislabeled archival material at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas. The material included tapes and transcripts of the Oval Office meetings of a hitherto unknown "Special Committee on National Security." The members of the Committee were: President Johnson; FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover; CIA Director Richard Helms; National Security Advisor Walter Rostow; Defense Secretary Clark Clifford and his deputy, Paul Nitze; and Deputy Attorney General Warren Christopher, whose boss, Attorney General Ramsey Clark, was considered "a loose cannon" and kept out of the loop of the Committee's deliberations.

On the tapes, members of the Special Committee discuss the "serious national security threat' posed by Dr. King's increasingly strident denunciations of the American war effort in Vietnam and his description of the United States as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

In one meeting, Helms is heard to remark: "This agitator is blatantly and directly giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. He can bring millions of Negroes and misguided whites out onto the streets at any time. He can set our cities on fire, shut down our economy. How long can we live with such an imminent threat to our way of life?" In another, Hoover says that King's organization is "rotten with Communists from top to bottom. There is little doubt he's getting money from Moscow to sponsor all these race riots. We are nursing a viper in our bosom."

Clifford's suggestion of arresting King and trying him for treason was shot down by Rostow: "The Constitution is not a suicide note. Legal niceties must give way to higher priorities. You cannot give an extremist an international platform to spread his poison. And what if he calls on the Negroes to attack the courtroom? There could be a bloodbath." Johnson gave the final order to initiate the operation in February 1968.

During the award ceremony, Obama praised Johnson for making the "gutsy" call. "I can see him now. I've been there myself," Obama said. "He's all alone. This is his decision. Nobody is standing there with him."

"Some people might disagree with that call today," Obama added. "But I'm not here to pass judgement. We must look forward, not back. The President has all the facts, and it is his responsibility to make the necessary decisions to protect national security. The elimination of this credible threat in 1968 was lawful and met the constitutional requirement for due process. As we recognize today, 'due process' and 'judicial' process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security.

"And so President Johnson was well within his rights to order the assassination of Martin Luther King -- and the Deep Six team are worthy of these honors for carrying out the president's tough decision with such exemplary dispatch. All that mattered that day was the mission. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example."

After the ceremony, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would be seeking to vacate, posthumously, the convictions of German officials at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. "As the president wisely said, we have a better understanding of these issues today," said Holder. "We now know that national leaders alone have the power to determine the proper way to confront threats to their nation's security, even if this means the elimination of these threats by extrajudicial methods. Thus any order of a leader pertaining to national security must be deemed legal, and no subordinate should be punished for carrying it out. It is our hope we can restore some measure of justice, however belated, to those who were only acting on the noble principles that guide our policies today."

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The Crime of Truth: Obama's Persecution of the Peacemaker

Written by Chris Floyd 08 March 2012 7110 Hits

If any one person can be said to have ended the direct involvement of the United States military in Iraq, it is not the man whose champions claim this deed as one of his glorious accomplishments: Barack Obama. As we all know (and 99 percent of us have forgotten), Obama fought doggedly to extend the murderous occupation of Iraq into the indefinite future.

No, if you had to choose one person whose actions were the most instrumental in ending the overt phase of the war, it would not the commander-in-chief of the most powerful war machine in world history, but a lowly foot-soldier -- mocked, shackled, tortured, defenseless: Bradley Manning

William Blum points this out in his latest "Anti-Empire Report," as he recaps the impact of the revelations made by Manning and Wikileaks. He begins by noting a painful irony: Manning's own defense team is playing down the heroic nature of this act and instead insisting that such a "sexually troubled" young man should never have been sent to the homophobic environment of the American occupation force in the first place. He was under too much stress, acting irrationally, they say, and thus should not be held accountable for his actions. As Blum notes, this defense -- though doubtless well-intentioned, a desperate bid to keep Obama's massive war machine from crushing Manning completely under its wheels -- partakes of the same deceitful twisting of reality that has characterized the entire war crime from the beginning. Blum:

It's unfortunate and disturbing that Bradley Manning's attorneys have chosen to consistently base his legal defense upon the premise that personal problems and shortcomings are what motivated the young man to turn over hundreds of thousands of classified government files to Wikileaks. They should not be presenting him that way any more than Bradley should be tried as a criminal or traitor. He should be hailed as a national hero. Yes, even when the lawyers are talking to the military mind. May as well try to penetrate that mind and find the freest and best person living there. Bradley also wears a military uniform.

Here are Manning's own words from an online chat: "If you had free reign over classified networks ... and you saw incredible things, awful things ... things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC ... what would you do? ... God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms. ... I want people to see the truth ... because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public."

Is the world to believe that these are the words of a disturbed and irrational person? Do not the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Geneva Conventions speak of a higher duty than blind loyalty to one's government, a duty to report the war crimes of that government?

Every scrap of evidence presented about Manning's alleged crimes makes it clear that he was acting from rational, well-considered motives, based on the highest ideals. Indeed, wasn't Manning simply following the words of Jesus Christ -- words carved in stone, with the most bitter irony, in the entranceway of the original headquarters of the CIA: "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

In any case, as Blum points out, the effects of Manning's actions were far-reaching:

It was after seeing American war crimes such as those depicted in the video "Collateral Murder" and documented in the "Iraq War Logs," made public by Manning and Wikileaks, that the Iraqis refused to exempt US forces from prosecution for future crimes. The video depicts an American helicopter indiscriminately murdering several non-combatants in addition to two Reuters journalists, and the wounding of two little children, while the helicopter pilots cheer the attacks in a Baghdad suburb like it was the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.

The insistence of the Iraqi government on legal jurisdiction over American soldiers for violations of Iraqi law — something the United States rarely, if ever, accepts in any of the many countries where its military is stationed — forced the Obama administration to pull the remaining American troops from the country.

If Manning had committed war crimes in Iraq instead of exposing them, he would be a free man today ...

But he is not a free man, of course. It is very likely that he will never be free again. He will spend the rest of his life in a federal prison for the unforgiveable crime of telling the truth to people who don't want to hear it.

NOTE: A tribute to Bradley and his fellow truth-tellers can be found here: The Good Corporal: To the Exposers of Power and the Troublers of Dreams.

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Blue Key, Black Clue: A Truth That Leaves No Trace

Written by Chris Floyd 05 March 2012 5007 Hits

In "honor" of the Russian "elections," here's a song that was born in Moscow. It's a little something of the other side of that history-battered land, something drawn from the strangely compelling spiritual depths that have supercharged and transformed the lives of so many seekers, native-born and alien wanderers: the "immortal communion" of mortal souls as they pass, and touch, in the brief strands of light. Something far away from the blood-soaked, iron-gutted ravagings of power.....

 

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Other People's Blood: New Ground for the Great Oil Game

Written by Chris Floyd 27 February 2012 6329 Hits

A few days ago, UK Prime Minister David Cameron hosted a high-profile international conference on the fate of war-torn Somalia. It seemed a bit incongruous at first. Dave -- the Old Etonian toff turned PR apparatchik turned Slasher-in-Chief of Austerity Britain -- is not exactly renowned for his abiding commitment to the betterment of the kind of folks his illustrious predecessor, Winston Churchill, liked to call the "recalcitrant tribes" who burden the earth with their wearisome presence.

Yet here was Dave -- and yes, one calls him Dave, in token of the hearty, plain-man persona he affects (about as successfully as Mitt Romney) -- emoting his patrician heart out over the need to build a stable future for the people of Somalia. Now is the time for decisive action, Dave declared, to a crowd that included heavy hitters like Hillary Clinton and Bai Ki-Moon: "For two decades politicians in the west have too often dismissed the problems in Somalia as simply too difficult and too remote to deal with. Engagement has been sporadic and half-hearted."

Some Somalis might take issue with that statement. For who can forget (except everybody, that is) the decisive "engagement" that "politicians in the west" inflicted on Somalia just a few short years ago? This would be the Ethiopian invasion and lengthy occupation that was armed, financed, green-lighted and directly assisted by the United States government. The invasion and occupation that killed thousands of innocent Somalis, drove hundreds of thousands into exile, gave rise to vast destruction, social ruin and famine, utterly destroyed the first stable government the country had known for 15 years and fuelled the spread of religious extremism, violent crime and piracy. The invasion and occupation that was accompanied by U.S. bombing raids on fleeing refugees, of U.S. death squads operating in the country, of U.S. agents snatching refugees and "rendering" them back to torture chambers in Ethiopia. The invasion and occupation that was followed -- when the Ethiopians finally tired of their role as imperial proxies -- by further bombing, droning, death-squadding and arms dealing by the Nobel Peace Laureate who took over from his greenlighting predecessor. [For more of this glorious history, see here and here.]

Now, you can call this continual involvement a lot of things -- a war crime, a murder spree, a sick and sinister folly, a sinkhole of war profiteering, a deliberate attempt to foment the unrest and suffering and extremism that it is the lifeblood of the Terror War imperium, which requires chronic instability and fearmongerable threats to justify its existence -- but what you cannot call it is a "sporadic" or" half-hearted" engagement.

So one perused the stories about Dave's big conference and thought: what's this all about? Why now? It all sounds so altruistic, so concerned and compassionate -- so when is the other shoe going to drop?

Well, that Gucci loafer was not long in falling. Three days after the conference ended -- with the proclamation of a grand, bland plan for a "more representative government" to be achieved, in some unspecified fashion, by the warring factions -- the Observer revealed the real impetus behind all the earnest Etonian emoting: "Britain leads dash to explore for oil in war-torn Somalia."

Oil? Oil driving the ruthless geopolitical strategies of western politicians behind a cynical facade of humanitarian concern? Boy, that's a new one! Yet hard as it is conceive of such a thing, it seems to be the case:

Britain is involved in a secret high-stakes dash for oil in Somalia, with the government offering humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in the beleaguered country's future energy industry.

...David Cameron last week hosted an international conference on Somalia, pledging more aid, financial help and measures to tackle terrorism. The summit followed a surprise visit by the foreign secretary, William Hague, to Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where he talked about "the beginnings of an opportunity'' to rebuild the country.

The Observer can reveal that, away from the public focus of last week's summit, talks are going on between British officials and Somali counterparts over exploiting oil reserves that have been explored in the arid north-eastern region of the country. Abdulkadir Abdi Hashi, minister for international cooperation in Puntland, north-east Somalia – where the first oil is expected to be extracted next month – said: "We have spoken to a number of UK officials, some have offered to help us with the future management of oil revenues. They will help us build our capacity to maximise future earnings from the oil industry."

...Somali prime minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said his government had little choice but to entice western companies to Somalia by offering a slice of the country's natural resources, which include oil, gas and large reserves of uranium. "The only way we can pay [western companies] is to pay them in kind, we can pay with natural resources at the fair market value."

Same as it ever was. The poor give up their resources to the rich, who ... keep the resources and make themselves richer. Sure, they kick back a little gravy to the local satraps, arm and train the satraps' security goons to keep the tribes in line, maybe build up their armies for proxy work; but the wealth and benefits of the natural resources run in one direction -- and it's rarely purchased "at the fair market value."

And the resource robbers believe there is sure enough some oil to be had in Somalia. Especially offshore -- where those pesky pirates make maritime mischief. Which is one reason why the United States and others are taking an increasingly militarized line in "securing" the area. The Observer reports:

Last month oil exploration began in Puntland by the Canadian company Africa Oil, the first drilling in Somalia for 21 years. Hashi, who sealed the Africa Oil deal, said the first oil was expected to be extracted within the next "20 to 30 days".

The company estimates there could be up to 4bn barrels (about $500bn worth at today's prices) in its two drilling plots. Other surveys indicate that Puntland province alone has the potential to yield 10bn barrels, placing it among the top 20 countries holding oil. Chinese and US firms are among those understood to have also voiced interest about the potential for oil now that, for the first time in 20 years, the country is safe enough to drill.

Yet it is the extent of oil deposits beneath the Indian Ocean that is most exciting Somali officials. One said the potential was comparable to that of Kuwait, which has more than 100bn barrels of proven oil reserves. If true, the deposits would eclipse Nigeria's reserves – 37.2bn barrels – and make Somalia the seventh largest oil-rich nation.

The seventh biggest pool of oil in the world? No wonder Hillary and Bai came to Dave's party. For our patricians and peace laureates -- and all the other grubsters atop the world's greasy poles -- that's a prize well worth fighting for. With other people's blood, of course.

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Shock Doctrine Uber Alles: Germany's New Greek Colony

Written by Chris Floyd 21 February 2012 6132 Hits

(UPDATED BELOW)

No Stukas, no stormtroopers, just a few strokes of the pen! Patrick Cockburn reports on the significance of Greece's final surrender to the German-led blitzkrieg of bankers that has ravaged the cradle of democracy:

Greeks [signed a deal] with the Eurozone leaders [on Tuesday] that will cede much of their country’s independence. Greece will become an economic – and to a large extent a political – colony of Germany and its allies. Berlin will have a say in everything from the choice of prime minister to the types of medicines dispensed by pharmacies.

In return for €230bn, made up of €130bn in fresh loans and €100bn in write-downs on privately held Greek government bonds, Greece is relieved from its immediate debt burden. But the money does not go to the Greek government, still less to the Greek people. It simply leaves them to live off the money they earn.

After noting the elements of Greek culpability in the making of this morass, Cockburn goes on (italics added):

But there are clearly other motives behind the radical changes now being imposed on Greece. “It is like undiluted Thatcherism forced on the country in a few years,” said one observer in Athens. For instance, the minimum wage is to be reduced by 22 per cent to €522 a month as part of the latest austerity round. The Troika believes this will increase employment, but Greek economists disagree, saying that Chinese or Bulgarian workers will always be paid less. Greeks will not get jobs for the same reason that the Greek merchant navy employs Filipinos below the level of captain and chief engineer. Cutting the pay of poorly paid state employees will also do little for Greece except reduce consumption and increase misery.

…on the back of the austerity program rides a neo-liberal vision of how the Greek economy and society should be run. It sounds and looks very much like what was applied in Russia under Boris Yeltsin after 1992. There will be widespread privatizations; cuts in social security, pensions and state health provision; and wholesale deregulation. Many on the right welcome these reforms. Vagelis Agapitos, a financial consultant in Athens, looks forward to the day when houses, hotels, wind farms and fish farms can be built without any troubling regulations or permits.

Archaeological surveys would be dropped.

Mistah Pericles -- he dead.

**

 

UPDATE: Cockburn follows up with a report on one of the significant factors behind Greece's huge national debt: the private profits of the masters of war.

While most Greeks are critical of the reforms on which the troika of the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are insisting, many also feel that Germany and France share some of the blame for Greece’s overspending.

Over much of the past decade, Greece – which has a population of 11 million – has been one of the top five arms importers in the world.

Most of the vastly expensive weapons, including submarines, tanks and combat aircraft, were made in Germany, France and the United States.

The arms purchases were beyond Greece’s capacity to absorb, even before the financial crisis struck in 2009. Several hundred Leopard battle tanks were bought from Germany, but there was no money to pay for ammunition for their guns. Even in 2010, when the extent of the financial disaster was apparent, Greece bought 223 howitzers and a submarine from Germany at a cost of €403 million. …

“It is easily forgotten when Greece is criticized that there has been not very subtle pressure from France to buy six frigates,” says Thanos Dokos, director-general of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy. He adds that Greece was unwise to be the first buyer of new weapons systems, such as German submarines, that still had technical glitches.

… The justification for Greece’s large army – 156,000 men compared with 250,000 in the German army – is the perceived threat from Turkey, which requires the Greeks to keep some form of military parity with a nation with seven times as many people.

There has never been a debate in Parliament about the extent to which a Turkish threat really exists.

There is always a "justification" for war profiteering. There is always an "existential threat" that requires a vastly expensive war machine. (Whether the machinery actually works or not is of little importance -- as long as the cash registers are ringing in good order.) And there is never any "debate" about these "threats"; actual facts would just spoil the chowdown at the trough.

 

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It's All Right, Ma: It's Life and Life Only

Written by Chris Floyd 19 February 2012 5135 Hits

While washing dishes after the family supper tonight, I was listening, rather idly, to BBC Radio 4, some radio play or dramatization. And suddenly I heard, in passing, what struck me as a very apt description of life itself:

"It felt intimate, surreal and meaningless, all at the same time."

Postscript: Looked it up later; the line came from the dramatization of a story called "The Warrah," by Lucy Catherine.

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Life Lessons From the Afghan Conflict

Written by Chris Floyd 17 February 2012 5472 Hits

This New York Times story provides a clear lesson -- not only for "young Afghans," but for all of us in this increasingly drone-covered world:

Do not, under any circumstances, "move in a tactical fashion."

Or else  the defenders of Western civilization will blast you into bloody goo.

8 Young Afghans Killed in Strike, NATO Acknowledges

... Afghan relatives of those who died and Mohammed Tahir Safi, an adviser to President Hamid Karzai and the leader of the Afghan investigation team, said that those killed were young boys who had taken their sheep and goats to graze outside the village. They were cold and gathered under a rock and lighted a small fire to warm themselves. That was the place where they were struck by bombs. Photographs of the dead shown by Mr. Safi at a news conference this week included some of badly bloodied young boys and a couple of young men who might have been older. The father of one of the boys who was killed said that his son was 12 and that two nephews who were killed were younger. ...

Brig. Gen. Lewis Boone, the NATO spokesman here, said ... [the boys] “appeared to be carrying weapons and heading for nearby mountains. They were moving in open terrain in a tactical fashion and clearly keeping a distance from each other.”

... It is unclear whether NATO pilots were able to see clearly the size of the people they were bombing in the camera footage, and it is also unclear what happened to the weapons the boys were believed to be carrying.

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Fever Dream: The No-Eyed Nightmare of Terror War

Written by Chris Floyd 15 February 2012 6225 Hits

Here's a piece of "imaginative journalism" I published 10 years ago, before the invasion of Iraq. It speaks both to the imagined future of the then-impending war crime -- and to the future of the Terror War era ... a nightmare of history we are still growing into.

The Base

NSA Echelon 33, CentComm: Email monitored 10/22/04. Dispatched DC

Yo, Ed! I’m looking out the window of Watchtower 19 in Force Zone Seven. They’re loading up the dead wagon. Three friendlies, two uncardeds, the usual collateral – and one bug. We zapped the market before the bug got his hard-on – another one of those Czech AK-47 knock-offs that our friendly neighborhood warlord keeps bringing in. He says he doesn’t know how the bugs get hold of them – they drop down from heaven, I guess.

Last night Chrome and Dietrich got clipped by two bugged-up pseudo-friendlies outside the Halliburton whorehouse. They’d just finished three weeks on kryptonite duty, guarding the perimeter where those baby-nuke bunkerbusters went in. It’s still space-suit city over there, your wang wired up to the piss-bag for ten hours while you watch the Pentagon geek squad calibrating the kill ratio and the Guatanamorons in their plastic chains, suitless and bootless, bagging up body parts.

Chrome was telling us how some bug hacker got into the helmet frequency one day and flooded their gourds with Donny Osmond songs. Four hours of it. What could you do? You couldn’t take the helmet off or you’d over-geiger like the morons. Nearly drove them crazy. “And they call it puppy love.” Chrome was crooning, laughing, riding high. He’d just bagged Laila, the one who used to be on TV here – half a week’s pay, but they said get her now because some wheel at CentComm was about to privatize her. Then he stepped outside with Dietrich and was gone.

Four more guys got shipped out this week for going burqa. Bent their knee to the bug god. It’s the damnedest thing. Officially, it’s not happening and there’s no punishment for it either. The Press Office gave us soundbite cards on it for media days: “Faith and freedom go together; each makes the other stronger. The Forces of Liberation welcome all faiths within our ranks.” Non-denial denial. But everybody knows it’s spreading like the clap, and they’ll rotate you back to Homeland or Eurodisney the first time you step inside a mosque.

I guess I can understand it. I mean, personally, I don’t see the point of trading one load of lies and fairy tales for another. But we’re all wading through a cesspit here, you feel it on your skin all the time. You can’t wash it off, you can’t buy it off, you can’t drink it away. For some guys, the bug-god bullshit looks new, pure. However hokey it is, it’s not the same thing that led them into this stinking mire. So they snap, they turn – they shut off their brains and submit. Hell, isn’t that what they teach us to do in basic training? But I feel sorry for the suckers. It’s gonna go hard for them when they realize the bug god is just like all the others: one big rotting empty skull, staring down at you with those black holes, those no-eyes that see nothing and give back nothing.

I tried talking about it with Captain Davis the other night; he’s about the only officer who doesn’t strut around here like a Wal-Mart floor manager among the peons. I’d just come off night patrol in Deep-City Zone, hardcore bugland, backing up some Special Ops doing a Guantanamo run on terrorperp suspects. Banging down doors, barrel in the face of some shrieking bug-woman in her black bag, children scuttling in the dark like rats, the perp calling down an airstrike from Allah on our heads. You know the drill. You know the jangle. Not even the new meds can keep you blanked out completely.

So there’s always the overstep somewhere. Woman’s cheekbone cracking from a backhand, some kid stomped or booted out of the way. Some perp putting his hand in one of those damned dresses they wear, going for who knows what – Koran? Mosquito bite? Scimitar? Czech special? – and you open up. More shrieking, more screaming – and then the splatter on the wall.

Is this what we’re here for? I said to Davis. These bulging eyeballs, these reeking guts, this splatter? And the deals, the grease: the trade in whores, the pipeline siphons, the warlord bribes, CentComm and DefSec and BigVeep cutting their buddies a slice of the pie? Mr. Homeland Headboy talks about Jesus and Jefferson all the time – is this what Jesus really wants us to do? Is this what Jefferson had in mind?

Davis shook his head. Don’t go all Gandhi on us, Jim, he says. Ideals are fine, but you’ve got to make an accommodation with reality. You can’t have civilization without power. Nothing will hold together if you can’t back it up with force. That splatter – those guts – that dead girl in the ditch over there, with the flies and the dogs – that’s what power is. That’s the foundation, the base, of civilization. It ain’t pretty, but I just have to believe that we’re a special nation, and now that we hold this dreadful power, we’ll use it wisely, so that one day we’ll make those ideals real. I’ve got to believe that– because otherwise, Jim, it’s just nothing but crap. Crap, chaos, murder and noise. And what the hell can you build on that?

So that’s the answer then. We’re special. Our grease is special. Our bunkerbusters are special. Our pissbags are special. Our splatter is the most special thing of all.

May No-Eyes have mercy on us all.

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Breaking the Glass: Beyond the Cataloguing of Imperial Evils

Written by Chris Floyd 15 February 2012 5990 Hits

I had a curious experience in reading one of Glenn Greenwald's recent posts about the relentless push for war with Iran by the media.

It was, as usual, a powerful piece, marshalling a wealth of damning evidence that laid bare the corporate media's avid -- not to say rabid -- eagerness to serve the desire of our ruling elites to finally break the "recalcitrant tribe" of Persians and restore Washington's dominance over that strategically situated -- and oil-rich -- land. One cannot underestimate the simmering resentment still felt by American elites from their "humiliation" during the 1980 hostage crisis -- which, as you'll recall, only ended after the sainted Ronald Reagan gave the Iranians everything they'd been asking for to release the hostages: i.e., the money Jimmy Carter had frozen in American banks. What's more, the severely conservative Reagan also cut deals to send the "mad mullahs" weapons and spare parts for their military arsenal. (And we won't even go into the brazen act of treason Reagan's handlers committed in negotiating with the Tehran "terrorists" in the run-up to the 1980 election.)

This psychosexual humiliation -- which has passed down to American elites who were still in diapers (or not even born) when it occurred -- is but one factor behind the relentless, maniacal, slavering drive toward war with Iran which is suddenly filling front pages and prime TV time everywhere. In the main, it is simply the decades-long, thoroughly bipartisan agenda of world domination that the American elite have been pursuing since the end of World War II -- as Noam Chomsky outlines here.

In any case, while reading Greenwald's stringent stripping of the lies and prejudices of a recent NBC report on the "Iranian threat," I kept waiting for him to make the pivot to something beyond yet another trenchant piece of media criticism. I kept saying, Yes, you're right, the media are misinforming -- miseducating -- the American people in the most egregious way, preparing them for yet another pointless war of aggression and domination that will only degrade their own lives, and kill thousands of innocent people ... now what? I honestly thought, as I was reading along, that he would at any moment link to Arthur Silber's recent articles (here and here) which lay out a specific, practical -- and non-violent -- plan precisely for the kind of counter-education campaign that is needed to combat the propaganda that Greenwald was rightly condemning.

As I understand it, Silber's idea is kind of jiujitsu: it uses the power and procedures and tropes of our reality-distorting media to combat the media's own pernicious effects. In other words, it would use the media to subvert the media. Or, to put it more positively, it would return the media to its more proper function of looking reality plainly in the eye and speaking the truth about it.

Silber's plan -- which he offers merely as a starting point, not an ironclad blueprint, inviting any and all creative suggestions to make it more effective -- relies on high-profile figures in the dissident media to leverage their public profile, their media platforms and their extensive contacts to bring in the money needed to launch a national campaign of truth-speaking, with hard-hitting print and video ads that bypass the decorous filters of corporate journalism to take the truth directly to the public.

And so, caught up in the flow and logic of Greenwald's piece, I thought he would have to get to that -- if not in a direct reference to Silber's campaign then something very much like it. But instead, it was, in the end, just another slam at our servile, power-enablinng, dysfunctional media.

Now, I like a good slam at the servile ministers of our media as much as the next person. Indeed, I've been enjoying them for lo these many decades, going back to, say, James Fallows in the 1990s, to Chomsky and Hermann's "Manufacturing Consent" in the 1980s -- even to some of Gore Vidal's bitterly insightful pieces in the 1960s and 70s. I have in fact spent my entire conscious life reading trenchant criticisms of how the corporate media misinform and manipulate the American public into support for the elite's destructive wars of domination. I am entirely in agreement with Silber when he writes:

Those writers and websites have offered hundreds, even thousands, of articles over the years about the immense destructiveness of U.S. foreign policy in general, and more particularly about the devastation and chaos that would result from a criminal U.S. attack on Iran. They have also published articles about the destruction of civil liberties and the massive growth of the surveillance state. I've written many such articles myself, including many dozens about Iran and the Middle East. During this time, all the terrible problems to which we've devoted so much attention have gotten steadily worse -- and not simply worse, but much worse. How do I know this? I follow the news -- and I read the dissenting writers and the alternative websites. They tell me that all these problems become more nightmarish by the day, and they tell me (and all of us) in excruciating, lengthy detail. Thousands of articles document the gathering, worsening horrors -- and the horrors constantly grow still more horrifying.

I do not want to be misunderstood on one critical point. The articles I refer to (and the alternative websites) have very significant value. They provide an inestimable educational service, by setting forth history, facts and analysis that are not available elsewhere for the most part. That is crucial. Also, and very importantly, they offer a sense of community and kinship to those who would otherwise feel isolated and alienated by the depravity and cruelty that dominate our culture.

But I also agree when he says this:

But if we hope to alter the course of events, even if all we can do is slow down what now seems to be a rush toward disaster on an ungraspable scale, thus to buy ourselves more time if we can, it cannot be disputed that all those articles are not enough -- and they will never be enough.

And so I read the Greenwald piece looking for, hoping for, that pivot beyond the customary criticism, the laying out of evidence (which, let me add, is really all that I do here). Hoping, I suppose, that someone who commands a far larger reach than a relatively marginal site like mine or Silber's would at least reference something like the Silber idea, if only to say: "Hey, here's a thought -- why don't we try something like this?" Or "What do people think of this?" Or even, "Silber suggests this, but I have an even better idea."

Again: I very much believe that the enumeration of imperial evils serves a useful purpose. As I said, that's basically what I do here. But I also believe -- more strongly all the time -- that this is not enough. Not nearly enough. The historical record shows that the cataloguing of such evils has not stopped them or lessened them or mitigated them at all. From the time I began reading Vidal and Chomsky more than 30 years ago to the powerful critiques of Greenwald and others today, things have only gotten worse on the domination front. The system is more brutal and brazen than ever; our society is more degraded; our liberties are more shredded.

There is only so much that talking at the margins can do. We must look to those who have the platforms and networks and leverage to put these issues into national circulation -- in a very concrete, practical way, not just preaching to the choir but taking the truth directly to those now starved of it.

If could do it, I would. But I don't have that platform, that leverage. I have a few hundred readers. I'm only rarely linked to any larger site. I can't get a meeting with George Soros or some well-funded foundation or organization that does have the money necessary to put something like Silber's education plan into action. So while I continue to appreciate and be informed by the trenchant media criticisms and evidence gathering that fills the choir room of the 'dissident' blogosphere, I know that something more must be done. We must somehow break through the thick, cloudy glass that mutes the truth from the general public. I hope that those better placed to do it will take up this challenge and carry it forward.

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Greek Fire: Extremist Elites Gone Wild in Democracy's Cradle

Written by Chris Floyd 14 February 2012 4980 Hits

If you want to know what is happening in Greece -- and what the powers that be have in mind for your country as well -- see this remarkable story by Mike Whitney at Counterpunch.

What are seeing in Greece is not an" economic" program; it is -- most openly and brazenly -- a political program: a savagely destructive extremist ideology being imposed on ordinary people by force. In its all-pervasive brutality and tyrannical control of every aspect of life, it makes the "Shariah law" bogeyman of right-wing nightmares look like an anarchists' picnic.

And make no mistake: the extremist doctrine being forced on Greece is, in every particular, the ruling ideology of the United States, Great Britain, and all the "great democracies" of the West. The aim of the doctrine is the "final solution" of the "problem" of democracy: i.e., the fact that the rabble keep seeking a decent life for themselves and trying to order their own affairs instead of staying in harness to enrich an all-powerful elite.

There is black irony in the fact that these elites are literally strangling Western democracy in its cradle. But it is also apt; for as Whitney points out, one of the specific points of the new bailout "agreement" for Greece is, incredibly, "lifting constraints [i.e., safety regulations] on restricted product categories such as baby food." As Whitney puts it:

That’s right; according to the authors of this fuliginous memo, the only way Greece is going to be able to lift itself out of the doldrums is by poisoning its kids with banned baby food.

You should read the whole sorry saga as Whitney lays it out, but here are a few excerpts:

On Sunday, the Greek parliament approved a new round of austerity measures that will further deepen the 5-year depression and sever the last fraying threads of social cohesion. In order to secure a 130 billion euro loan, Greek political leaders agreed to comply with a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) that will not only intensify the sacrifices of ordinary working people, but also effectively hand the control of the nation’s economy over to foreign banks and corporations.

The Memorandum is as calculating and mercenary as anything ever written. And while most of the attention has been focused on the deep cuts to supplementary pensions, the minimum wage, and private sector wages; there’s much more to this onerous warrant than meets the eye.... Greece will have to prove that it’s reached various benchmarks before it receives any of the money allotted in the bailout. The Memorandum outlines, in great detail, what those benchmarks are— everything from reduced spending on life-saving drugs to “lift(ing) constraints for retailers to sell restricted product categories such as baby food.” ...

Instead of providing fiscal aid so Greece can meet its budget targets and can get back on its feet again, the troika (the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) is using the crisis to snatch vital state assets and deliver them to its corporate friends. The MOU is opening new avenues for exploitation and plunder. And there’s more:

“The Government will neither propose nor implement measures which may infringe the rules on the free movement of capital. Neither the State nor other public bodies will conclude shareholder agreements with the intention or effect of hindering the free movement of capital or influence the management or control of companies. The Government will neither initiate nor introduce any voting or acquisition caps, and it will not establish any disproportionate and non-justifiable veto rights or any other form of special rights in privatised companies.”

Well, that’s pretty clear: Capital Rules. The interests of corporations and banks will take precedent over those of the people. The proclamation limits the role of government to rubber stamping the predatory actions of cutthroat speculators whose only interest is fattening the bottom line for their shareholders. ...

The Memorandum also contains an illuminating section on “Business environment”, which covers everything from perks for industry to unrestricted free trade. Here’s a typical example:

.... “Implementation of law 3982/2011 on the fast track licensing procedure for technical professions, manufacturing activities and business parks and other provisions”.

...What does this have to do with anything, you ask? It doesn’t. It just shows what the MOU is really all about. It’s a corporate “wish list”; a mix of punitive belt tightening policies for working people and perks for big oil, big gas, electric, aviation, railroads, communications etc. “Fast track licensing” and “baby food” have nothing to do with helping Greece reach its budget targets. It’s a joke. ... None of this has anything to do with helping Greece. It’s just corporate pillaging gone haywire. Greece is a big pinata that’s just been cracked open and everyone is pushing and shoving to grab their fistful of candy.

All of this is coming soon to a neighborhood near you. If not's already there, that is .....

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Super Savage Sunday: Obama Tightens the Screws on Iran

Written by Chris Floyd 07 February 2012 5554 Hits

Arthur Silber follows up the post we linked to yesterday with some more specifics on how an effective campaign against the war with Iran might look: "The First Ad: Who Are the Nazis Now?" Ads like these would be a devastating Zen slap in the head to the stunted American consciousness. Get on over there and read it now.

Meanwhile, the Peace Laureate is tightening the screws on Iran even further. Barack Obama took a few minutes away from the big game on Super Bowl Sunday and imposed still more sanctions on Tehran -- to punish them for legally pursuing a peaceful nuclear energy program under close international supervision.  (The pure, unmitigated evil of these Persians, eh?)

Again, it must be stressed that not a single government in the world -- including Israel -- believes that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. Not one. No one is making that claim. In fact, leading figures in both the United States and Israel have made it very plain in recent weeks that they do not believe Iran is building a nuclear weapon. There is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. It does not exist. And yet these same leaders, at the same time, tell us that we must put more and more pressure on Iran -- we must assassinate its scientists, we must carry out covert ops inside its territory, we must surround it with bristling military bases, we must belly up to its shores with vast fleets, we must fill its skies with spy drones, and we must drive its ordinary citizens into ruin and suffering with an ever-increasing array of sanctions -- in order to .... what, exactly?

Again, let's make it clear, in great block letters ten feet high and five feet wide: the elites pushing us rapidly toward war do not believe Iran is building a nuclear bomb. What's more, they would not feel threatened if Iran did have a bomb. There is only one thing they want: regime change in Tehran. And there is only reason they want it: domination of strategic oil lands of the Middle East. They certainly aren't concerned about the actual nature of the Tehran regime -- which is far less repressive than the West's beloved extremists in Saudi Arabia -- nor are they concerned in the slightest about the Iranian people. The sanctions themselves prove that.

Wise man William Blum is also on the case in his latest Anti-Empire Report:

[Last month] we could read in the New York Times (January 15) that "three leading Israeli security experts — the Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy, and a former military chief of staff, Dan Halutz — all recently declared that a nuclear Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel."

Then, a few days afterward, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio (January 18), had this exchange:

Question: Is it Israel's judgment that Iran has not yet decided to turn its nuclear potential into weapons of mass destruction?

Barak: People ask whether Iran is determined to break out from the control [inspection] regime right now ... in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons or an operable installation as quickly as possible. Apparently that is not the case.

Lastly, we have the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in a report to Congress: "We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons. ... There are "certain things [the Iranians] have not done" that would be necessary to build a warhead.

But as Blum notes, these statements are "never put into headlines by the American mass media; indeed, only very lightly reported at all." Instead, the fierce watchdogs of the American media are more than happy to shape their stories in the service of the greater cause of warmongering -- even though, again, our elites know full well that the "Iranian bomb" is an empty threat:

On the Public Broadcasting System (PBS News Hour, January 9), the non-commercial network much beloved by American liberals, the Panetta quote above was reported as: "But we know that they're trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that's what concerns us." Flagrantly omitted were the preceding words: "Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No ..." 5

One of Israel's leading military historians, Martin van Creveld, was interviewed by Playboy magazine in June 2007:

Playboy: Can the World live with a nuclear Iran?

Van Creveld: The U.S. has lived with a nuclear Soviet Union and a nuclear China, so why not a nuclear Iran? I've researched how the U.S. opposed nuclear proliferation in the past, and each time a country was about to proliferate, the U.S. expressed its opposition in terms of why this other country was very dangerous and didn't deserve to have nuclear weapons. Americans believe they're the only people who deserve to have nuclear weapons, because they are good and democratic and they like Mother and apple pie and the flag. But Americans are the only ones who have used them. ... We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us. We cannot say so too openly, however, because we have a history of using any threat in order to get weapons ... thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany."

And so the beat goes on. Ordinary Iranians are going hungry, getting poorer, having their futures destroyed for the sole purpose of augmenting the wealth and power and privilege of our American elites and their colonial outriders. And if this domination is not handed to them on a platter by the current Iranian regime, our elites are quite happy to kill countless thousands of innocent people to get it.

That's the reality. That's the world you're living in. Do you like it? No? Then change it.

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