Support Group: Documenting the Peace Laureate's Progressive Atrocities

Written by Chris Floyd 17 July 2011 12447 Hits

Do you support the policies and political fortunes of President Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate? Then this is what you support: cowardly, cold-blooded mass murder. You support mass murder. You support the shredding to pieces of innocent people, many of them children, week after week, month after month. You support the murder of children. You support the cultivation of extremism and hatred: hatred aimed at you, and your children, for the mass murder -- the state terrorism -- committed in your name by your progressive president. You support extremism. You support hatred. You support terrorism.

The Guardian tells the remarkable story of Noor Behram, who for three years has been rushing to the scene of the long-distance, remote-control drone strikes launched by the Peace Laureate against undefended villages in Pakistan. Braving roadblocks, suspicious (and shell-shocked) locals, and secondary strikes -- like terrorists the world over, the Laureate's Droners like to draw people to the site of one strike, then fire another at those who've come to help the first victims -- Noor Behram has taken his camera to some 60 killing fields in North and South Waziristan. As the Guardian notes:

Noor Behram says his painstaking work has uncovered an important – and unreported – truth about the US drone campaign in Pakistan's tribal region: that far more civilians are being injured or dying than the Americans and Pakistanis admit. The world's media quickly reports on how many militants were killed in each strike. But reporters don't go to the spot, relying on unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials. Noor Behram believes you have to go to the spot to figure out whether those killed were really extremists or ordinary people living in Waziristan. And he's in no doubt.

"For every 10 to 15 people killed, maybe they get one militant," he said. "I don't go to count how many Taliban are killed. I go to count how many children, women, innocent people, are killed." ...

According to Noor Behram, the strikes not only kill the innocent but injure untold numbers and radicalise the population. "There are just pieces of flesh lying around after a strike. You can't find bodies. So the locals pick up the flesh and curse America. They say that America is killing us inside our own country, inside our own homes, and only because we are Muslims.

"The youth in the area surrounding a strike gets crazed. Hatred builds up inside those who have seen a drone attack. The Americans think it is working, but the damage they're doing is far greater."

Even when the drones hit the right compound, the force of the blast is such that neighbours' houses, often made of baked mud, are also demolished, crushing those inside, said Noor Behram. One of the photographs shows a tangle of debris he said were the remains of five houses blitzed together.

Do you support this? Do you support the progressive president, the Peace Laureate? Then this is what you support:

The photographs make for difficult viewing and leave no doubt about the destructive power of the Hellfire missiles unleashed: a boy with the top of his head missing, a severed hand, flattened houses, the parents of children killed in a strike. The chassis is all that remains of a car in one photo, another shows the funeral of a seven-year-old child. There are pictures, too, of the cheap rubber flip-flops worn by children and adults, which often survive: signs that life once existed there. A 10-year-old boy's body, prepared for burial, shows lipstick on him and flowers in his hair – a mother's last loving touch.

If you support the president, this is what you support. (And yes, if you support his so-called opponents in our bipartisan militarized state -- where the only political "issue" is how much more we can give to the rich while expanding our state terror overseas -- this is what you support as well.) A boy with the top of his head torn off. From a thunderbolt of metal and explosives hurled at him from thousands of miles away. Is this what you support?

Or maybe that's the wrong question. If you support the president, it's obvious that you do support this. I suppose a better question is the one that Arthur Silber has been asking, over and over, for years, as the Atrocity Machine of the rightwing Bush regime morphed effortlessly into the Atrocity Machine of the progressive Peace Laureate:

Why do you support this? Why do you support it? Why do you support?

Add a comment

The Needle and the Damage Done: Toxic Fallout From the CIA's Human Shield Operation

Written by Chris Floyd 15 July 2011 8071 Hits

When I first saw the stories about the CIA’s super-cunning covert op – setting up a fake vaccination scheme to try to get DNA from Osama bin Laden's children in Abbottabad – I immediately thought: How many innocent people are going to die or suffer needlessly from this unconscionable tainting of medical programmes by Terror War subterfuge? How many people will now turn away from ostensibly genuine humanitarian efforts, wary of being used by foreign spies infiltrating their country? How many more genuine medical relief and health care workers will now be targeted as agents of militarist agendas in troubled lands already rightly suspicious of the murderous spy games being played in their midst?

Now Médecins Sans Frontières has voiced the same concerns, in public blast on Thursday which called the CIA's toying with the lives and health of vulnerable children "grave manipulation of the medical act."

Of course, the story has already been forgotten in the American media echo chamber, now solely obsessed with the epic battle between Obama and the Republicans to see who can degrade the largest number of American lives and usher in oligarchic rule the fastest. [For more on this, see the superb piece by Arthur Silber.] So we'll let the Guardian re-set the scene:

The CIA recruited a Pakistani doctor and health visitors before the operation in May that killed Bin Laden in Abbottabad in northern Pakistan, to try to ascertain whether the al-Qaida leader was living in the compound. The doctor, Shakil Afridi, set up a vaccination drive for Hepatitis B in the town in order to try to gain entry to the Bin Laden compound and obtain DNA samples from those living there. ..

However, on the ground in Abbottabad the Guardian discovered that while the vaccine doses themselves were genuine, the medical professionals involved were not following procedures. In an area called Nawa Sher, they did not return a month after the first dose to provide the required second batch. Instead, according to local officials and residents, the team moved on, in April this year, to Bilal Town, the suburb where Bin Laden lived.

These vaccines are not effective unless the full course of doses is administered. The CIA thus suborned genuine medical professionals, without their knowledge, and then left the children being used as -- dare we say it? -- human shields for the spy agency still at grave risk of contracting Hepatitis B. Having established their front in the poorest part of town, luring in the most vulnerable, they simply "moved on." What of the children of Nawa Sher? Who cares? They're expendable.

The Guardian story spells out the larger implications:

"The risk is that vulnerable communities – anywhere – needing access to essential health services will understandably question the true motivation of medical workers and humanitarian aid," said Unni Karunakara, MSF's international president. "The potential consequence is that even basic healthcare, including vaccination, does not reach those who need it most."

"It is challenging enough for health agencies and humanitarian aid workers to gain access to, and the trust of, communities, especially populations already sceptical of the motives of any outside assistance," said MSF. "Deceptive use of medical care also endangers those who provide legitimate and essential health services."

The impact of the fake vaccination drive may be keenly felt in Pakistan, where the public already sees an American conspiracy everywhere. Polio campaigns could be at particular risk, as Pakistan has the biggest polio problem in the world.

But again, none of that matters. These are non-people, unpersons, Untermenschen. The only thing that matters is that American elites are made to look tough, willing to do "whatever it takes." The Guardian quotes the usual anonymous Obama Administration official defending the use of innocent children as human shields for black ops:

The US official said: "The vaccination campaign was part of the hunt for the world's top terrorist, and nothing else. If the United States hadn't shown this kind of creativity, people would be scratching their heads asking why it hadn't used all tools at its disposal to find Bin Laden."

Yes, inquiring minds want to know: why didn't the United States abuse and exploit and endanger even more innocent children to find bin Laden? (Aside from the thousands of children killed in the post-9/11 Terror Wars, of course.) Thank god the Peace Laureate and his people have more "creativity" than his cloddish predecessors!

Oh, and what was the upshot of this "creativity"? I mean, sure, they put the poorest children in Abbotabad at grave risk of suffering, and yeah, they endangered vaccination and health programs and medical workers all over the world -- but hey, the fake vaccine thing worked, didn't it? It helped them get bin Laden, didn't it?

Er, no. Like so much else in the Terror War -- indeed, like the Terror War in its entirety -- the CIA human shield operation in Abbotabad was a busted flush. The whole thing was designed to suck blood from bin Laden's children to get the DNA that would confirm his presence in the house -- but it didn't even do that. As the New York Times reports:

The American official said that the doctor managed to temporarily gain access to the compound, but that he never saw Bin Laden and was not successful in getting DNA samples from any Bin Laden family members.

Endangering children, increasing mistrust and instability around the world, militarizing medicine, polluting every notion of a greater common good or human fellow-feeling -- and all for absolutely nothing (aside from the perpetuation of the pointless dominance of a witless, brutal, all-devouring elite): that pretty much sums up the foreign policy of our rotting, blundering, bankrupt empire.

Add a comment

The Conjuration: "They Don't Like You to Be So Free"

Written by Chris Floyd 11 July 2011 7778 Hits

A friend pointed me to this remarkable performance by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings of a now-old song. I pass it along here not only for its inherent worth, but also because it seems to chime with many of the thoughts and intimations behind this blog.

Here we can see, through the conjurations of two guitars and two human voices, how the bloody murk of history is turned into a powerful myth -- a myth of yearning, a yearning for liberation: from the bonds of convention, from the sentence of mortality, from the soul-draining exigencies of history itself.

And if you want a purely political message for our times, it's there in the final lines: "They don't like you to be so free."


Add a comment

An Urgent Call for Humanitarian Intervention

Written by Chris Floyd 08 July 2011 7907 Hits

Worrying news this week from the Middle East, as Jason Ditz reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today blasted calls for Sunnis to consider a secessionist movement in the nation’s west, insisting that any effort to form an autonomous region or to secede outright would lead to bloodshed. “If it happens, people will fight each other and blood will reach to the knee,” insisted Maliki.

Wait a minute! Is this a national leader using extreme rhetoric to threaten condign punishment against those who rebel against his government? Isn’t that what Moamar Gadafy was accused of doing? Wasn’t this indeed the whole casus belli of West’s war on Libya?

Then we must immediately intervene militarily to save the innocent civilians of western Iraq from this threatened bloodbath! We’d better send troops into Iraq right away to stop this raging heinous monster!

For as every heart-sworn humanitarian interventionist knows, the presence of death-dealing Western military power is the best guarantee of a peaceful, stable, happy regime -- especially in those benighted countries where the grubby little darkies can't be trusted to sort out their own affairs.

Forward to Baghdad!

Add a comment

Justice, Yearning, Bread and Sex: Come and Get It

Written by Chris Floyd 07 July 2011 5494 Hits

A few readers have been kind enough to inquire if any of the tunes occasionally featured on this site are for sale. Well, now they are. A four-song sampler EP, "Just One Plank," is now available for download right here. I'm not exactly au fait with the technology, and there seems to be a bit of delay with the cover art at the site, but the songs themselves are up there and ready to go. Check it out, if you take a notion.

We'll be back to regular service here in just a bit. Thanks for your patience. (Photo from; Scotts Run, West Virginia, 1935.)

Add a comment

One Plank in This Platform: I’m For the Poor

Written by Chris Floyd 29 June 2011 8076 Hits

No dogma, no doctrine, no parties, no political poltroonery; just one plank in this platform: I'm for the poor.


Just One Plank by Chris Floyd

Just One Plank

There’s lots of politicians
Philosophers and more
They’ll tell you how to run the world
And what your life is for
I ain't no politician
But I’ve seen life from shore to shore
You want to know my program?
I’m for the poor

I’m for the poor, yeah, I’m for the poor
The sick and hungry who can’t take no more

A lot of folks are savvy
They’re serious and smart
They’ll tell you why the rich should rule
They’ve got it on a chart
But they worship at the altar
Of a hand they cannot see
And their greedy god has gobbled up
Their own humanity

But I'm for the poor, yeah, I’m for the poor
The sick and the hungry outside the door

I spent so many years out there
Trying to figure out the truth
In party plans and platforms
And that old voting booth
I sought a grand solution
I don't do that anymore
There's just one plank in my platform:
I’m for the poor

The bombed and abused who can't take no more
I’m for the poor, yeah, I’m for the poor

The sick and the hungry outside the door
The lost and abandoned, the wracked and the sore
I'm for the poor, yeah, I'm for the poor

Add a comment

Occupational Therapy: The Psychosis of Exceptionalism

Written by Chris Floyd 27 June 2011 7520 Hits

I wanted to write about Barack Obama’s recent speech announcing the alleged partial withdrawal of some of the tens of thousands of troops he has added to the decade-long American occupation of Afghanistan during his three Bush-like “surges” of that conflict. Events – and a deep reluctance to “waste my beautiful mind” on such a self-evident assemblage of murderous mendacity – stayed my hand. But this was, as it turned out, all good, as the saying goes, for now I find that Arthur Silber has, to paraphrase the Bard, named my very deed of rage. You should read the whole piece – and the links which provide historical context to the president’s long-tortured relationship with truth – but here’s a snippet to wet your whistle:

I must note that in the speech this evening, Obama offered a brief passage containing nothing but fall-on-the-floor whoppers. Here you go:

We are a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens. We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others. We stand not for empire, but for self-determination.

I love "while adhering to the rule of law." And, "We stand not for empire..." Those three sentences in their entirety are gold-plated comedy material.

Couldn't you just die? You might.

Before Obama’s speech, I wanted to write about the extraordinary outburst of imperial spleen from Obama’s imperial satrap in Bactria, Karl Eikenberry. The satrap, you may recall, pitched a hissy fit when the Empire’s local hireling, Hamid Karzai, got above his raising, as he is wont to do, and voiced a few criticisms of the occupying force’s self-serving agenda of greed and domination, and its unfortunate propensity for killing Afghan civilians in large numbers.

But here too I find that in another post, Silber has got thar the fastest with the moistest (to quote, or possibly misquote, one of the many insurgent extremists hugely celebrated in our highly moral land).  His apt title, “The Fragile Vanity of the War Criminal,” sums up the matter well. Again, Silber marshals a range of facts and past insights to frame Eikenberry’s remarkable outburst. (Remarkable not for its monstrous sentiments, of course, which are de rigueur for our ruling class, but for their frankness, the lack of PR polish in which these ugly attitudes are usually cast.)

Eikenberry said Americans feel wounded by any aspersions cast on their pure hearts and noble motives by the grubby, ignorant natives. Such black ingratitude makes it impossible for him to “give a comforting reply” to the families of American soldiers when they ask him why  in the name of God Almighty their loved ones are being killed and maimed in this endless, pointless imperial adventure, says poor, pouting Karl. Silber limns the pathology behind this imperial poltroonery.

I referred above to "the symptoms of severe neurosis" which result from a dedicated reliance on the delusions supporting American exceptionalism. Eikenberry's comments show how that severe neurosis begins to veer ever closer to psychosis, if we use "psychosis" to indicate a condition representing an irreparable break with reality. I emphasize again that it is not simply that U.S. leaders ignore the murderous, bloody consequences of the U.S. government's actions. That would be more than sufficiently evil by itself, but U.S. leaders and functionaries like Eikenberry go much further. They transform evil into a positive good. And they go further still: they demand that others acknowledge their nobility and goodness -- and thank them for it.

Yes, this is indeed where the ankle-chain rubs rawest, isn't it? It's not enough to give way to brute force, bow your head, bare your back and take the lash: you have to sing hallelujah while Massa strikes, then kiss his foot when he's finished. As Silber notes astutely earlier in the post:

Our national delusions, and our national neurosis, compel us to invert every moral value and principle. This is a world in which evil becomes good, and death becomes life.

And sinister poltroons become presidents and satraps, with the arbitrary power of life and death over millions of innocent people. Hallelujah!

Add a comment

Massaging the Monolith: Confusing Signals from the Persian Devils

Written by Chris Floyd 24 June 2011 7475 Hits

Oh my gosh! Apparently Iran is not a monolithic monster whose entire energies are united in destroy all that’s good and holy and can be sold at Wal-Mart.

It looks like there are serious and deepening divisions in the ruling elite there, with the Ayatollah Khamenei slowly tightening the noose around the neck of President Ahmadinejad. How confusing this all is! For one thing, whom are we supposed to demonize in the usual cartoonish rendering of reality favored by our own noble leaders and our leading organs of information, where there must be, always, everywhere, “good guys” and “bad guys” to help or hinder?

Ahmadinejad has been one of the more durable “new Hitlers” of our era, always good for a scary headline or a boost in military spending or a reason for continuing the war crime in Iraq. But now he is being attacked by the Ayatollah, the black-robed center of Islamic extremism and “state-sponsored terrorism” in the popular – and political – mind. (It’s likely that a great many people think Khamenei is the same Ayatollah who served as the all-powerful bin-Ladenish bogeyman of American nightmares after the Iranian hostage crisis.) How can we support an Islamic bogeyman against a secular leader? But if that leader is the new Hitler, then how can we … ???

It is a dilemma, but I’m sure our media massagers will work out the proper line soon enough. After all, look how adroitly they have handled the many metamorphoses of Moamar Gadafy’s official reputation down through years: long-time boogeyman turned newfound good buddy – and now a “new Hitler” once again! Gadafy himself didn’t change much over that time – just his relative usefulness, or degree of hindrance, to the agenda du jour of our great and good. If Khamenei cracks down harder, look for a “softening” or some sudden “nuance” in Ahmadinejad’s media portrayal. Why not? He can always be fitted with horns again soon enough, as the need arises. 

Mention of monolithic depictions of Islamic boogeyman calls to mind a couple of other pieces on the subject that I wrote some time ago. The first was a post based on a penetrating analysis by Pankaj Mishra ("The Culture of Fear") which set out the true situation of the “Muslim demographic” in Europe: miniscule and powerless. The intro to that piece is here:

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post dealing with one of Mark Steyn's hate tracts about the Muslim "takeover" of Europe. Steyn, like his ardent admirer Martin Amis, displays a remarkably transparent psychosexual panic at the thought of big Muslim bucks breeding holy warriors to cast the white man down. (As an American Southerner, I am all too familiar with this "Mandingo Syndrome.")

Oddly enough, of all the articles I've written over the years, the Steyn piece has produced the longest-lasting reaction. To this day, I still get hate mail and indignant comments from Steyn's little sycophants, denouncing my ignorance of Islam's relentless, monolithic devouring of European "civilization." (I would highly recommend Mark Mazower's magisterial work of history, "Hitler's Empire," for anyone interested in seeking how very civilized Europe has been within living memory.)

Given that I live in one of the nations that the psychosexual panickers seem most exercised about -- Great Britain -- and in a neighborhood where at least every third person is a Muslim, or of Muslim background, I always find these condemnations of my "ignorance" on the subject of Islam in Europe pretty funny. I live among Muslims, work alongside Muslims, trade with Muslims, my children go to school with Muslims. I can reports from years of my own experience the astonishing fact that Muslims are actual, individual human beings like everyone else: a unique combination of disparate, changing, often conflicting elements, with wildly varying beliefs and behaviors. (What's more, a great many "Muslims" are not really Muslims; that is, they are about as "religious" in their actual behavior as, say, the countless millions of American "Christians" who have made pornography one of the Homeland's largest industries.)

But you would never know any of this from our best-selling Islamophobes. Or, given the ethnic and linguistic origins of Islam, should we not call them by their true names: anti-Semites? For indeed, their own rhetoric and ideas are indistinguishable from those of the anti-Semites of the early 20th century, who also wrote of dark, barbaric hordes of religious fanatics breeding and wheedling their way into dominance over a weak, flaccid, overly "liberal" white Europe. Substitute "Muslim" for "Jew" in the scared-stiff (or is it scared-flaccid?) screeds of Steyn, Amis, and others, and you will hear an exact replica of the anti-Semitism that was so rife throughout Western "civilization" in the pre-Holocaust years....

The second post was a response to the response the first piece provoked from one of the leading race-based sexual panickers of our day: Mark Steyn. Some excerpts from the second piece are below:

In that august forum of serious, respectable conservatism, "The Corner," Mark "Mandingo" Steyn has responded to the post here yesterday taking him and his fellow Islamophobes to task for the "psychosexual panic" they evince in the face of their self-concocted vision of a "takeover" of Europe by prodigiously breeding Muslims. It goes without saying that Steyn (and a few of his fanboys in the comments section here) make no genuine reply to the substance of the piece, which drew heavily on a long, detailed essay on Islamophobia by Pankaj Mishra in the Guardian.

Instead, Mandingo comes up with what he obviously believes is the "smoking gun" to prove that a monolithic, undifferentiated, hive-minded Muslim horde is procreating its way to domination over the cowardly "pantywaists" of white Europe. And what is this killer evidence? (And "killer" is certainly the right term; for as we reported here yesterday, Steyn is on record as saying that Europeans will soon figure out how to "buck" the Muslim demographic surge: "If you can't outbreed the enemy, cull 'em.") Anyway, Mandingo's proof of Muslim overbreeding is -- brace yourself:

Lists of the most popular names for newborn boys.

Yes, Steyn -- the scholar's scholar, statistician extraordinaire -- has perused the popular names for babies in two whole European cities, and has discovered -- gasp! -- that they are headed by "Mohammed," and also have other Islam-derived names among the top ranks. This, he says, should convince "even the squishiest multiculti pantywaist" that there is sure enough an evil Ay-rab in the woodpile out there, and that, as he put it in one of his shaky-kneed screeds, it's "the end of the world as we know it."

Now, I would never put my meager learning up against an intellectual giant like Herr Professor Mandingo, but I would like to offer a few layman's observations on these earth-shattering revelations.

First, Herr Professor does not seem to realize that, as general rule, those of Muslim heritage tend to draw their children's first names from a small pool of historic Islamic names; and that variations of "Mohammed" are far and away the top choice from this small pool. Hence, in a list of baby's names, you will find a preponderance of a few Islamic monikers skewing the statistics.

At the same time, it is now the general fashion among those of Christian heritage in Europe (and the United States and Canada) to draw upon a far larger and more diverse pool of first names for their children. A few generations ago, most of these too would have come from a small pool of historic Christian names: saints, apostles, Biblical figures, etc. Now, they come from everywhere -- when they are not simply made up out of whole cloth. In other words, if it were the fashion today for Europeans of Christian heritage to name their children after, say, the four evangelists, then those same lists would be teeming with Matthews, Johns, Lukes -- and even Marks. I myself am a fairly prodigious breeder of offspring, and my four children have names drawn from Russian literature, Celtic myth, a Jane Austen novel and the Jewish scriptures. And this is typical of millions of other parents of Christian heritage.

Second, Professor Mandingo and his allies and acolytes also seem blissfully unaware that not every little baby named Mohammed is going to grow up to be one of the zealous, monolithic Muslims of their imagination. That boy is more likely to grow up to be a largely if not wholly secular guy, at home in the culture of the nation where he was born. (The same goes for girls too, of course, but as Steyn's little two-city lists deal only with boys, we'll confine the discussion to males.) And if he does grow up to be a practicing Muslim, again he will not be a member of some mythical zombie-like monolith, but will have to find his own individual path in a faith that is every bit as variegated, diverse, fractured and conflicted as Christianity, if not more so. But Mandingoism blinds its adherents to the fact that Muslims are actual, individual human beings, with all the inherent complexities and conflicts thereof. They can only see a dark, undifferentiated mass spreading like an oil slick over the pristine marble surface of European "civilization."

Finally, there is the embarrassing fact that Muslims constitute a miniscule minority in Europe: as Mishra pointed out only yesterday, "Muslims account for only 3% to 4% of the EU's total population of 493 million." In the UK, there are an estimated 2 million people who call themselves Muslim, out of a total population of around 61 million. And many if not most of the "statistics" on the "Muslim takeover" of Europe used by the Mandingoist panic-merchants are, to use strict academic nomenclature, bullshit. ...

[But] as Ronald Reagan once said, facts are stupid things. Lies are so much more fun -- and more profitable. (Go write a book about "The Non-Threat of a Muslim Europe" and see if any wingut welfare outfits like Regnery Publishing will write you a check.) The fact that Muslims are a small minority in Europe, that their birthrate is falling, that Islam is not a blank, seething, monolithic mass, that Muslims are human beings who live, work, love, strive, suffer and play alongside and with their fellow compatriots without violence or conflict on a daily basis across Europe and the world -- none of this means anything to those whose blood runs hot at the sound of Mandingo tom-toms beating in their minds.

But, despite everything, we must give Mark Steyn his due. In his baby-name riposte, he does step up and manfully admit that we should "take it as read" that he and Martin Amis and other allies "are all xenophobic racist rightwing nuts suffering from psychosexual panic." I think that here, at last, Herr Professor is standing on solid factual ground.

Add a comment

Markets, Murder and Trash: The Real New World Order Emerges in Juarez

Written by Chris Floyd 21 June 2011 7487 Hits

Do you want to know what the future looks like? Ed Vulliamy can show you. Just follow him down to Ciudad Juarez, where the witless, heedless, heartless machinery of "market fundamentalism" (or "late capitalism," or whatever other name you'd like to give to the unrestrained greed of our elites) has come to its logical, horrific culmination.

Vulliamy notes, rightly, that the vast profits which the "upperworld" of the financial and political elite earns from the murderous drug trade is at the core of the nihilistic hellmouth that has opened up in Mexico. This same upperworld is also adamant in continuing the immeasurably corrosive and corrupting of criminalizing -- rather than regulating, mitigating and taxing -- the innate human desire to disorder the senses, for whatever reason: pleasure, escape, comfort, despair.

But as Vulliamy also observes, the "drug war" and its discontents are just mirrors of the wider reality of a world ruled by zealots given over to the worship of money and its trappings to the exclusion of every other understanding of human worth. Below are some excerpts, but you should read the whole, harrowing piece:

....But this is not just a war between narco-cartels. Juarez has imploded into a state of criminal anarchy – the cartels, acting like any corporation, have outsourced violence to gangs affiliated or unaffiliated with them, who compete for tenders with corrupt police officers. The army plays its own mercurial role. ... Not by coincidence, Juarez is also a model for the capitalist economy. Recruits for the drug war come from the vast, sprawling maquiladora – bonded assembly plants where, for rock-bottom wages, workers make the goods that fill America's supermarket shelves or become America's automobiles, imported duty-free. Now, the corporations can do it cheaper in Asia, casually shedding their Mexican workers, and Juarez has become a teeming recruitment pool for the cartels and killers. It is a city that follows religiously the philosophy of a free market.

"It's a city based on markets and on trash," says Julián Cardona, a photographer who has chronicled the implosion. "Killing and drug addiction are activities in the economy, and the economy is based on what happens when you treat people like trash." Very much, then, a war for the 21st century.

...Mexico's war does not only belong to the postpolitical, postmoral world. It belongs to the world of belligerent hyper-materialism, in which the only ideology left – which the leaders of "legitimate" politics, business and banking preach by example – is greed.

...People often ask: why the savagery of Mexico's war? It is infamous for such inventive perversions as sewing one victim's flayed face to a soccer ball or hanging decapitated corpses from bridges by the ankles; and innovative torture, such as dipping people into vats of acid so that their limbs evaporate while doctors keep the victim conscious.

I answer tentatively that I think there is a correlation between the causelessness of Mexico's war and the savagery. The cruelty is in and of the nihilism, the greed for violence reflects the greed for brands, and becomes a brand in itself.

Vulliamy notes that there are simple steps that could be taken immediately to curtail and quell this downward spiral. (Parenthetically, I think he downplays the potent effect that decriminalization would have, draining the swamp of inordinate profit that a black market always brings.) But he is absolutely right in observing that none of these steps will be taken -- because they would affect the bottom line of our great and good. His words on this point are harsh, sharp, and true:

People also ask: what can be done? There is endless debate over military tactics, US aid to Mexico, the war on drugs, and whether narcotics should be decriminalised. I answer: these are largely of tangential importance; what can the authorities do? Simple: Go After the Money. But they won't.

Narco-cartels are not pastiches of global corporations, nor are they errant bastards of the global economy – they are pioneers of it. They point, in their business logic and modus operandi, to how the legal economy will arrange itself next. The Mexican cartels epitomised the North American free trade agreement long before it was dreamed up, and they thrive upon it.

Mexico's carnage is that of the age of effective global government by multinational banks – banks that, according to Antonio Maria Costa, the former head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, have been for years kept afloat by laundering drug and criminal profits. Cartel bosses and street gangbangers cannot go around in trucks full of cash. They have to bank it – and politicians could throttle this river of money, as they have with actions against terrorist funding. But they choose not to, for obvious reasons: the good burgers of capitalism and their political quislings depend on this money, while bleating about the evils of drugs cooked in the ghetto and snorted up the noses of the rich.

And so here we are. The Drug War long ago merged with the Terror War, which in turn has merged with the long-running war of the elites against the ordinary people of their own countries. We live in the midst of a perfect storm of elitist terror (and its offshoots) raining down on us from every side. As Vulliamy bleakly concludes:

So Mexico's war is how the future will look, because it belongs not in the 19th century with wars of empire, or the 20th with wars of ideology, race and religion – but utterly in a present to which the global economy is committed, and to a zeitgeist of frenzied materialism we adamantly refuse to temper: it is the inevitable war of capitalism gone mad. Twelve years ago Cardona and the writer Charles Bowden curated a book called Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future. They could not have known how prescient their title was. In a recent book, Murder City, Bowden puts it another way: "Juarez is not a breakdown of the social order. Juarez is the new order."

Add a comment

No-Life Zone: Deeper and Deeper Into the Mire

Written by Chris Floyd 20 June 2011 8381 Hits

Obviously, there was a typo in the UN resolution approving NATO’s operations in Libya. It was widely reported that the resolution authorized the establishment of a “no-fly” zone in Libya to protect civilians from being killed by military attack. However, it’s clear now that what the international body really greenlighted was a “no-life” zone, designed to, er, kill people with, er, military attacks.

It’s an easy mistake to make, really, transposing the “f” and “l” like that; a UN transcriptionist probably misheard the original intention, then mentally “corrected” it with the “y” to make it read in the more accustomed manner. Happens all the time.

In any case, a “no-life” zone is what we have in Libya, as the latest story of civilian casualties from NATO bombs makes clear. In this case, the slaughter was so open and egregious that NATO actually had to admit killing Libyan civilians for the first time; previously, we’ve been asked to believe that dumping tons of high explosives in the middle of a heavily populated city had not harmed the hair of a single innocent head.

(The three young grandchildren of Moamar Gadafy that were killed by NATO bombs last month obviously don’t count – because, duh, they were kin to Gadafy! They bear the blood taint of evil. Stalin, who ruthlessly condemned family members of “enemies of the people,” and Hitler, who killed anyone with the slightest tincture of Jewish blood in them, would no doubt be proud to see their rigorous standards of hygiene being adopted by the moral paragons of the “Western alliance.”)

Yet even as the Nobel Peace Laureate and Constitutional law scholar continues a war in Libya that his own top legal advisers tell him is patently unlawful and unconstitutional, he is racheting up yet another illegal war that has already reaped a rich harvest of civilian deaths: in Yemen.

As Jason Ditz notes, the Peace Laureate is using the increasingly violent civil strife in Yemen as a cover for a vast expansion of his drone missile assassination program in that country. These attacks are ostensibly aimed at “eradicating” yet another handful of cranks calling themselves “al Qaeda;” the alleged involvement of this group in a couple of failed “terrorist actions” so ludicrous and inept (exploding underwear!) that a cynic might be tempted to say they were designed to fail is, evidently, a dire and imminent existential threat to the United States, requiring billions of dollars, thousands of missiles – and the lifeblood of hundreds of innocent people – to combat. So saith the Nobel Peace Prizewinner.

In the first half of June alone, the Peace Laureate killed at least 130 people in daily assaults with his big, bold, brave drone missiles, fired by big, bold, brave American operatives back in the States or at some other imperial installation hundreds or thousands of miles out of harm’s way. Some of these attacks have been aimed at alleged members of the local AQ, including, of course, the American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been publicly condemned to death, without trial, for the crime of exercising his constitutional right to say stupid and hateful things. (Apply that stricture universally, and the entire American political class would be drone food.)
Other attacks have been aimed at – well, we don’t know. We’re not even sure if the CIA – the increasingly powerful and militarized Praetorian Guard in charge of this particular mass killing program – knows who most of the missiles are being aimed at. All we do know is that innocent people are being slaughtered in their dozens and hundreds by American missiles in Yemen. 

Yet with that wise, far-seeing, 11th-dimensional chess brain that the Peace Laureate is famed for, he is already looking to the future. Now that the government upheaval in Yemen has deprived him of a reliable dictator to assist his illegal war of mass assassination, Obama has decided to build yet another secret base somewhere in the volatile region – at a cost of unknown secret billions – for the express purpose of escalating the Praetorian Guard’s robotic killing spree.

There is no rhyme or reason to any of this. Regardless of the ever-shifting explanations our leaders offer – to the public, and, who knows, to themselves – the killing machine has long taken on a momentum of its own. They are now killing people – innocent people, around the world, every day – simply because they can do it. And because it’s the only thing they know how to do, the only way they know how to maintain and extend the brutal domination of world affairs that the American ruling class believes is the sole purpose of our national existence. And because too many elites are making too much money from killing people. And because too many leaders are getting too much pleasure, and filling too many holes in their own crippled souls, from wielding an unaccountable power of life and death over the nations of the earth.

And no one will stop them because too many ordinary people, battered by too many years of the relentless class warfare that has hollowed out their lives and society, and by an endless tsunami of self-righteous, self-glorifying propaganda, have adopted the perverted values of the elite, and given up all notion of a common good or a common humanity, or else have been beaten and broken and driven into hopeless despair, as each turn of the political gyre makes things worse – more harsh, more brutal, more unfeeling, more insecure, more grating, more shallow, more hollow, more deadly, more corrupt.

Yet every day, at every turn, we are told by earnest progressives that we must support the leader of this system, a man who has entrenched and exacerbated its bloodiest and most brutal currents in almost every way. We must support, encourage, and enable assassination, slaughter, corruption and mass murder; we must, as I noted the other day, be prepared to tear small children into bloody pieces, day after day, for no other discernible reason than to preserve the unlawful, immoral domination of a bloodthirsty militarist elite. That’s what it means to be a “progressive” today. (If you want to see this hideous argument demolished with remarkable power, eloquence and savage wit, read the latest posts from Arthur Silber here and here.)

But there is nothing new in this. Even before the Peace Prizer was gifted with the laurel, his zeal, his love for the killing machine was evident. I’ll close here with an excerpt from a piece written in September 2009 that describes where we were then – and, unfortunately, where we are now.

At some point earlier this month, Barack Obama took a moment out of his busy day to sign an "execute order." That is, he ordered American agents to kill a man without any legal procedure whatsoever: no arrest, no trial, no formal presentation – and disputation – of evidence, no defense…and no warning. They killed him on the open road, in a sneak attack; he was not engaged in combat, he was not posing an imminent threat to anyone at the time, he had not been charged with any crime. This kind of thing is ordinarily regarded as murder. Certainly, if you or I killed someone in this way – or paid someone to do it – then we would find ourselves in the dock, facing life imprisonment or our own execution. But then, you and I are subject to the law; our leaders are not.

Let's say it again, just to let the reality of the situation sink in a bit further: at some point last week, Barack Obama ordered men in his employ to murder another human being. And not a single voice of protest was raised anywhere in the American political and media establishments. Churchmen did not thunder from the pulpits about this lawless action. The self-proclaimed patriots and liberty-lovers on the ever-more militant Right did not denounce this most extreme expression of state tyranny: the leader's arbitrary power to kill anyone he pleases. It is simply an accepted, undisputed fact of American life today that American leaders can and do – and should – murder people, anywhere in the world, if they see fit. When this supreme tyranny is noted at all, it is simply to celebrate the Leader for his toughness -- or perhaps chide him for not killing even more people in this fashion.

I wrote a great deal about this theme when George W. Bush was president. I began back in November 2001, after the Washington Post reported that Bush had signed an executive order giving himself the power to order the killing of anyone he arbitrarily designated a terrorist. Year after year, I wrote of how this murderous edict was put into practice around the world, and of its virulently corrosive effects on American society.  Now Barack Obama is availing himself of these same powers. There is not one crumb, one atom, one photon of difference between Obama and Bush on this issue. They both believe that the president of the United States can have people killed outside of any semblance of a judicial process: murdered, in cold blood, in sneak attacks, with any "collateral damage" regarded as an acceptable by-product – just like the terrorists they claim to be fighting with these methods.

Nor does this doctrine of presidential murder make any distinction between American citizens and foreigner. Indeed, one of the first people known to have been killed in this way was an American citizen living in Yemen. So let us put the reality in its plainest terms: if the president of the United States decides to call you a terrorist and kill you, he can. He doesn't have to arrest you, he doesn't have to charge you, he doesn't have to put you on trial, he doesn't have to convict you, he doesn't have to sentence you, he doesn't have to allow you any appeals: he can just kill you. And no one in the American power structure will speak up for you or denounce your murder; they won't even see that it's wrong, they won't even consider it remarkable. It's just business as usual. It's just the way things are done. It's just the way we are now.

....The murder will also serve as lesson for would-be terrorists around the world – the same lesson that the War on Terror has been teaching day after day, year after year, from the day it was launched by George W. Bush to its continuance and expansion by Barack Obama today. That lesson is stark and simple: Murder works. Murder is the way to advance your agenda. Murder is what "serious" players on the world stage do. There is no law but the law of power; there is no way but the way of violence. There is no morality, there is no liberty, we share no common humanity.

This is the example that America now sets for the world. This is what we teach our children – and the children of our victims. This is what Barack Obama affirmed once again when he signed his "execute order."

Add a comment

A Dozen Beasts Slouching: Long View of a Dark Age

Written by Chris Floyd 13 June 2011 6004 Hits

I wrote the lines below more than 25 years ago; but when I finally got around to putting them to music some months ago, what had seemed allusive and metaphorical – both the public overview and the personal intimations of mortality – had become all too real. It’s like the passage toward the end of Doctor Zhivago, when two survivors of revolution, famine, purge, camps and war are looking back:

“This has happened several times in the course of history. A thing which had been conceived in a lofty, ideal manner becomes coarse and material. Thus Rome came out of Greece and the Russian Revolution came out of the Russian enlightenment. Take that line of Blok’s: ‘We, the children of Russia’s terrible years.’ You can see the difference of period at once. In his time, when he said it, he meant it figuratively, metaphorically. The children were not children, but the sons, the heirs of the intelligentsia, and the terrors were not terrible but apocalyptic; that’s quite different. Now the figurative has become literal, the children are children and the terrors are terrible. There you have the difference.”

Anyway, those rough beasts once dimly perceived have not only come slouching, they’ve now emerged full-blown, ravenous and vivid. So when I ran across this sketch again while searching for something else, I thought it might be worth a brief re-visiting.

Standing in the Morning by Chris Floyd

Have them play Shostakovich at my funeral:
Something grim, unnerving, hard to hum.
But make sure that you're laughing in the background;
Be glad that I am quit of what's to come.

For the destruction of the world is never-ending;
And just as tirelessly, creation rears.
This dark age is but an hour for apprehending
The trace left by a cold sweat-drop of fear.

A dozen beasts come slouching, a hundred prophets rise –
The timewheel, like a winepress, brings them forth.
The next two thousand years are here in incubation:
We are the forefathers, the ancient of the earth.

But I myself am standing in the morning of non-being,
Which has worn its way through me at last.
I'm taut with wild yielding to the mighty yawning
That swallows up the waters of the past.

Add a comment