Bleaters and Tweeters: On Briefly Being a Political Football

Written by Chris Floyd 17 November 2015 3478 Hits

(UPDATED BELOW) (UPDATED AGAIN) For the past few days, I’ve had the curious experience of being — peripherally, indirectly — a political football. The original piece I wrote on the Paris bombing got picked up by StopTheWar UK, an organization associated with Jeremy Corbyn, and was then used by Labour Blairites and Tory twits to bash Corbyn for the “sickening” article, which showed what an ungodly radical he really was. He was later asked about it by the BBC.

Of course, I was not and am not associated with STW in any way. Without my knowledge or permission, someone at the organization put my piece on their website. (Not that I would have minded if I’d known, or refused permission if asked.) Then at some point later, someone removed it from the website. This too became cause for controversy, as it was “proof” of a radical conspiracy to hide what Corbyn and STW really believed, etc. etc.

Needless to say, I knew nothing of any of this as I sat at home reading the torrent of news about the attacks. The first I heard of it was when someone came onto my Twitter timeline demanding that I confirm that my article had been the original “official position” of STW before it was later, dastardly pulled. This tweet was hooked to others — a whole gaggle of Blairites raging at the “despicable” article and how it showed the urgent need to purge Holy Tony’s party of Corbynite filth. A couple of MPs were apparently on the case as well, busily tweeting away about this all-important issue in the midst of the crisis. I must say, this petty, point-scoring exploitation of the attacks for political game-playing seems more “sickening” than anything I wrote.

As for the article itself — written as the opinion of a private citizen, not on behalf of any organization or institution — I honestly didn’t see what was so controversial about it. Is it really controversial to say that without the US invasion of Iraq, there would be no ISIS? I don’t think even the supporters of that war dispute this fact. Is it controversial to say that the NATO intervention in Libya has turned that country into a chaotic spawning ground for violent extremism? Is that a disputed fact in any way? Is it disputable that the United States and Britain overthrew a secular democracy in Iran in 1953 with the help of religious fundamentalists that US/UK spies helped organize and promote? I mean, I read it in the New York Times, so it must be true.

Is it disputable that the United States and Saudi Arabia helped organize a worldwide network of violent jihadis in order to provoke the Soviet Union into intervening in Afghanistan, then trying them down there for years, in order to “give them their own Vietnam?” This is the proud and open claim of one of the chief architects of that policy, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Did not Ronald Reagan sit down in the White House with the forerunners of the Taliban and al Qaeda, and praise them as “freedom fighters” and moral paragons, even as his administration supplied them with textbooks extolling violence and terrorism, thus indoctrinating a whole new generation? (The Taliban continuned to use the US textbook after taking over the country.) Has the West not plied the Saudis with money, weapons and kowtowing respect, even as they exported their retrograde Wahhabi sectarianism all over the world?

Finally, is it disputable in any way that these historical facts — and many others like them — have played a decisive role in forming the unstable and violent world we live in today? Is this controversial? I grant that it might be “sickening” — but it is still the truth.

Later, a couple of people wrote to say that although they agreed with the piece and “thought it needed to be said,” they objected to the phrase “reaping the whirlwind” in the headline. Somehow, a phrase encapsulating a process which — as I clearly wrote — has been taking place over many decades was somehow read as “blaming the victims.” Well, what can I say? I was raised a Southern Baptist by a Southern Baptist deacon; the Bible's tropes and cadences are in my head. “Reaping the whirlwind” is a good biblical phrase, well-known in the wider culture. It means just what it says — and just what I was trying to say: you sow violence, you reap violence. You spend decades destroying secular political movements in Middle Eastern countries, spend decades deliberately and openly fostering sectarian extremists as your proxies, spend decades in an open military alliance with the world’s chief peddler of retrograde Islamic extremism, spend years invading and destroying whole nations, leaving sinkholes of violence and ruin behind — and guess what? You’ll have a world crawling with violent sectarian groups that have the means to strike back at you when you strike them. Again, I made the specific point that what we were seeing was the result of decades of policies and actions. It was in no way “blaming the victims” on the Paris streets; it was saying — very clearly — that there would have been no victims on the Paris streets if not for these actions and policies.

But I’m sure very few of the Blairite bleaters and Tory twit-tweeters actually read the article. Certainly none of them took issue with its substance. They saw a headline that set their hive-mind going, in a setting — the STW website — that could be exploited to make partisan hay, and off they went. Of course, except for that first Tweeter, no one ever contacted me to find out if I actually was a STW “activist” or member, as they happily and witlessly repeated around the country.

Anyway, the dogs have barked and the caravan, as they say, has already moved on, to other witless and inaccurate game-playing and partisan hackery. And our leaders continue down the same path — more bombing, more repression, more fearmongering and hate-fomenting — which they well know will only lead to more death and destruction across the world. Unfortunately for the rest of us, their murderous folly is not a game.

UPDATE: Now (Tuesday) it seems that the article is being brought up in Parliament, as David Cameron -- and several blood-eyed Labour MPs -- rail at Corbyn for "the "Stop the War" tweet" about “reaping [the] whirlwind of western support for extremist violence in Middle East”. Again, it is patently obvious that no one involved in this entirely manufactured moral apoplexy has actually read the article in question. The fake outrage is being used both as a stick to stir up the poisonous brew of political gaming, and as a diversion from any serious, measured -- and above all, informed -- discussed of the situation, and the best ways to deal with it. A very instructive episode all around.

UPDATE 2: After a long day of seeing the article egregiously mischaracterized not only by the giants of statesmanship in Parilament but also by the founts of savvy wisdom throughout the UK press, I sent the brief statement below to a couple of reporters in the national media. Needless to say, naught came of it. But I append the statement below just for, as they say, the hell of it.

Just for the record: I wrote the original blog post behind the controversy over the "Stop the War tweet" mentioned in Parliament today. I wrote it for my own political blog, Empire Burlesque. I have nothing to do with Stop the War UK. Someone there picked it up from my blog, altered the headline, then later removed the post, all without my knowledge. I knew nothing of it until someone tweeted me about it. My original article did not say the attack was "the fault of the French" nor did my headline mention "Paris". Given the broad historical context of the piece, the reference was clearly that we, the whole world, are all reaping the whirlwind of the policies and actions described in the article — going back several decades, not just to the interventions and approaches of the recent past.

There is very little that is controversial or disputable about the historical facts I noted in the post; for example, even Tony Blair admits that the Iraq War was instrumental in the rise of ISIS. But I doubt very seriously that any of the people now pouncing on the article to make great shows of moral outrage have actually read the piece. I'm sorry to see that they would rather indulge in petty political game-playing than engage in a serious, measured discussion about the best response to the Paris atrocities.

Again, I am not a member of Stop the War. I am not a member of the Labour Party. I was speaking as a private citizen -- an American citizen with a British family. The article dealt almost wholly with US, and to a lesser degree, UK policy. It did not "blame the French." It did not "blame the victims." Nothing absolves the perpetrators of the Paris massacres; this is so self-evident that it seems insulting or condescending to have to spell it out. They chose to do evil, and the responsibility is their own. But neither can we keep pretending that these horrific eruptions spring out of nowhere, or that the proper response to them is to continue the policies of violent intervention and supporting extremism for geopolitical purposes that have brought us to this hell in the first place.

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A Game Worth the Candle: Terror and the Agenda of our Elites

Written by Chris Floyd 14 November 2015 2825 Hits

People see the carnage in Paris, and cry, “When will this end?” The hard answer is that it is not going to end, not any time soon. We are living through the horrific consequences of decisions and actions taken long ago, as well as those of being taken right now. The currents and movements set in motion by these actions cannot be quelled in an instant — not by wishing, not by hashtags of solidarity or light shows on iconic buildings … and certainly not by more bombing, destruction, repression and lies, which are the main drivers of our present-day hell.

There will be no end to rampant terrorism soon because our leaders are not really interested in quelling terrorism. This is simply not a priority for them. For example, in the past 12 years they have utterly destroyed three largely secular governments (Iraq, Libya and Syria) and turned them into vast spawning grounds for violent sectarianism. They did this despite reports from their own intelligence services and military analysts telling them that the spread of violent extremism would almost certainly be the outcome of their interventions. But for our leaders — both the elected ones and the elites they serve — their geopolitical and macroeconomic agendas outweighed any concerns over these consequences. Put simply, to them, the game was worth the candle. They would press ahead with their agenda, knowing that it would exacerbate extremism and terrorism, but doubtless hoping that these consequences could be contained — or better yet, confined to nations seen as rivals to that agenda, or to remote places and peoples of no worth to our great and good.

Our leaders are not opposed to terrorism, neither as a concept nor as a practical tool. Over the past several decades, our leaders and their allies and puppets around the world have at times openly supported terrorist violence when it suited their aims. The prime example is in Afghanistan, where Jimmy Carter and his Saudi allies began arming and funding violent jihadis BEFORE the Soviet incursion there. In fact, as Carter’s own foreign policy guru, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has openly stated, the United States began supporting Islamist terrorism in Afghanistan precisely in order to draw the Soviet Union into the country. Despite fierce internal opposition in the Kremlin, the Soviets finally took the bait, and sent in troops to save the secular government it was backing from the fundamentalist rebellion.

Ronald Reagan continued and expanded this policy. The same type of men now in charge of ISIS and al Qaeda were welcomed to the Oval Office and praised by Reagan as “the moral equivalent of our founding fathers.” They were given arms, money and training in terrorist tactics by our military and intelligence services. They were given textbooks — prepared, financed and distributed by the US government — to indoctrinate schoolchildren in violent jihad. The creation of this worldwide network of Islamic extremists was aimed at weakening the Soviet Union. This was the overriding geopolitical concern of the time. Any other consequences that might flow from this policy — creating a global infrastructure of sectarian extremism, seeding a radical minority with arms, funds and innumerable contacts and connections with state were considered unimportant. But we are now living with those consequences.

These are not the only examples of course. For instance, the United States supported — and went to war for — the KLA in Kosovo, a group that it had earlier condemned as terrorists for years. The cultish terror group MEK —which not only carried out deadly terrorist attacks in Iran but also murdered American government officials — is now honored and supported by top politicians from both parties in Washington. The United States now calls al Qaeda associates in Syria “moderate rebels” and provides arms to their allies. The United States is deeply involved in Saudi Arabia’s horrific attack on Yemen against the Houthis, who had been bottling up al Qaeda in the country. Now, thanks to US bombs and guidance — and participation in a blockade of Yemen that is driving the country to starvation — al Qaeda is thriving there again. The violent extremists that the West knowingly and openly helped in NATO’s destruction of Libya are now exporting weapons and terrorists throughout Africa and the Middle East.

Again, in almost all of these cases, Western leaders were specifically warned by their own experts that their actions would exacerbate extremism and violence. And again, with this knowledge, they decided that their geopolitical agendas were more important than these consequences. This agenda — maintaining and expanding their political and economic dominance, and preserving the power and privileges that a militarist empire gives to those at the top — was more important than the security and welfare of their own people.

In this, they are as one with the leaders of ISIS and al Qaeda. They too know that the chief victims of their actions will not be the elites of the West but the ordinary Muslims going about their lives in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and elsewhere. But their own similar agenda — power, privilege, domination — outweighs any concerns for innocent human lives.

This is the abysmal, despairing tragedy of our times. Our lives, and the lives of our children and descendants, do not really matter to our leaders; certainly not more than the agendas they pursue. And so despite the horrors we’ve seen in the past few weeks — and yes, the bombing of the Russian airliner, the mass murders in Beirut and Baghdad are every bit as horrific and grievous as the attack on Paris — nothing is likely to change. Our leaders are not even beginning to take the steps necessary to even begin addressing the consequences of their morally demented agenda and at last begin the long process of reversing the current of violence and extremism that assails us. Instead, at every turn, they are adding to the flow of death and madness, despite the stark, undeniable evidence of the consequences of their actions.

They say they are at war with terrorism. It’s a lie. They use terrorism and terrorists when it suits their agenda. They say they are “at war” with ISIS, an enemy which they tell us represents an existential threat to human civilization, and whose destruction is now our “highest priority.”  It’s a lie. In a real war against such a threat, you would make common cause against the common enemy, even if you find your allies distasteful. Thus the mutually loathing capitalists of the West and communists of the Soviet Union (and elsewhere) made common cause against Nazi Germany.

If we were really “at war” with ISIS, if its military defeat really was an overriding concern, then the West would form a military coalition with Iran, Russia, Turkey, the Syrian government and others to carry out this goal. It is obvious that for the West, the overthrow of the Assad government is far more important than defeating ISIS or bringing the conflict in Syria to an end by diplomatic means.

Instead, our leaders give every indication that they will continue the policies that have brought us to this dark and evil place. With the near-total ignorance and amnesia of our media class, there is little hope that public opinion can be mobilized to insist on a new course. And so, at some point soon, we will see more iconic buildings bathed in the colors of a Western nation (but never one from the Middle East, whose peoples suffer more, by several orders of magnitude, from the decades of extremism fostered by the West). And this will go on, year after year, until we decide that human life, human dignity, human freedom are more important than our leaders’ agendas of greed and domination.

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Age of Despair: Reaping the Whirlwind of Western Support for Extremist Violence

Written by Chris Floyd 14 November 2015 4605 Hits

We, the West, overthrew Saddam by violence. We overthrew Gadafy by violence. We are trying to overthrow Assad by violence. Harsh regimes all — but far less draconian than our Saudi allies, and other tyrannies around the world. What has been the result of these interventions? A hell on earth, one that grows wider and more virulent year after year.

Without the American crime of aggressive war against Iraq — which, by the measurements used by Western governments themselves, left more than a million innocent people dead — there would be no ISIS, no “Al Qaeda in Iraq.” Without the Saudi and Western funding and arming of an amalgam of extremist Sunni groups across the Middle East, used as proxies to strike at Iran and its allies, there would be no ISIS. Let’s go back further. Without the direct, extensive and deliberate creation by the United States and its Saudi ally of a world-wide movement of armed Sunni extremists during the Carter and Reagan administrations (in order to draw the Soviets into a quagmire in Afghanistan), there would have been no “War on Terror” — and no terrorist attacks in Paris tonight.

Again, let’s be as clear as possible: the hellish world we live in today is the result of deliberate policies and actions undertaken by the United States and its allies over the past decades. It was Washington that led and/or supported the quashing of secular political resistance across the Middle East, in order to bring recalcitrant leaders like Nasser to heel and to back corrupt and brutal dictators who would advance the US agenda of political domination and resource exploitation.

The open history of the last half-century is very clear in this regard. Going all the way back to the overthrow of the democratic government of Iran in 1953, the United States has deliberately and consciously pushed the most extreme sectarian groups in order to undermine a broader-based secular resistance to its domination agenda.

Why bring up this “ancient history” when fresh blood is running in the streets of Paris? Because that blood would not be running if not for this ancient history; and because the reaction to this latest reverberation of Washington’s decades-long, bipartisan cultivation of religious extremism will certainly be more bloodshed, more repression and more violent intervention. Which will, in turn, inevitably, produce yet more atrocities and upheaval as we are seeing in Paris tonight.

I write in despair. Despair of course at the depravity displayed by the murderers of innocents in Paris tonight; but an even deeper despair at the depravity of the egregious murderers who have brought us to this ghastly place in human history: those gilded figures who have strode the halls of power for decades in the high chambers of the West, killing innocent people by the hundreds of thousands, crushing secular opposition to their favored dictators — and again, again and again — supporting, funding and arming some of the most virulent sectarians on earth.

And one further cause of despair: that although this historical record is there in the open, readily available from the most mainstream sources, it is and will continue to be completely ignored, both by the power-gamers and by the public. The latter will continue to support the former as they replicate and regurgitate the same old policies of intervention, the same old agendas of domination and greed, over and over and over again — creating ever-more fresh hells for us all to live in, and poisoning the lives of our children, and of all those who come after us.

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Murderers Without Frontiers: An American Tradition

Written by Chris Floyd 29 October 2015 2087 Hits

This is my latest column for CounterPunch Magazine, written earlier this month: When I heard of the deadly U.S. strike on the Médecins Sans Frontières facility in Kunduz on October 3, I thought of this fragment of ancient history, written by a lowly scribe years ago:

"One of the first moves in this magnificent feat of arms was the destruction and capture of medical centers. Twenty doctors – and their patients, including women and children – were killed in an airstrike on one major clinic, the UN Information Service reports, while the city's main hospital was seized in the early hours of the ground assault. Why? Because these places of healing could be used as ‘propaganda centers,’ the Pentagon's ‘information warfare’ specialists told the NY Times. Unlike the first attack on Fallujah last spring, there was to be no unseemly footage of gutted children bleeding to death on hospital beds."

The attack on the MSF facility might well be an unintended consequence of the "fog of war," as the Americans claim. (Although just before the strike, Pentagon massagers were opining to their media mouthpieces how awful the Russians were for bombing Syria without the super-duper-ultra-advanced "precision" technology and high-tech intelligence that the USA uses. So why did they strike the Kunduz hospital, having been carefully and continually informed of its location beforehand? And why did they keep bombing even after they'd been told of the supposed error? As the MSF tweeted: “Bombing continued for 30 minutes after American & Afghan military officials in Kabul & Washington first informed of proximity to hospital.”)

But whatever happened in Kunduz, America’s Terror Warriors certainly have form, as the Brits say, when it comes to deliberately targeting medical centers. The passage above was from a column I wrote in 2004 about one of the most brazen war crimes of the 21st century: America’s decimation of Fallujah in Iraq.

The city was marked for destruction after four mercenaries were killed there in the early days of the occupation. The incident was depicted as an act of pure evil by the brutal natives; left unreported in almost every story was the fact that the occupying forces had slaughtered more than a dozen civilians before the reprisal against the mercenaries. An initial punishment assault against the city failed, partly due to the bad PR generated by footage of the horrific civilian casualties, and US forces backed off for a few months. But just after the 2004 election, the Pentagon gave their warrior chief, George Bush, a human sacrifice to celebrate his victory, and launched their second attack on the city. As I noted at the time:

“So while Americans saw stories of rugged ‘Marlboro Men’ winning the day against Satan, they were spared shots of engineers cutting off water and electricity to the city – a flagrant war crime under the Geneva Conventions, as CounterPunch notes, but standard practice throughout the occupation. Nor did pictures of attack helicopters gunning down civilians trying to escape across the Euphrates River – including a family of five – make the TV news, despite the eyewitness account of an AP journalist. Nor were tender American sensibilities subjected to the sight of phosphorous shells bathing enemy fighters – and nearby civilians – with unquenchable chemical fire, literally melting their skin, as the Washington Post reports. Nor did they see the fetus being blown out of the body of Artica Salim when her home was bombed during the ‘softening-up attacks’ that raged relentlessly – and unnoticed – in the closing days of George W. Bush's presidential campaign, the Scotland Sunday Herald reports.”

I don’t know if the carnage in Kunduz was “collateral” or, as in Fallujah, carefully planned. But in many ways, it doesn’t matter. Since the days when Jimmy Carter joined his Saudi allies in creating the worldwide network of violent jihadis, through the expansion of extremist jihad by Ronald Reagan (who called the extremists “the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers”) and the systematic campaign to destroy secular governments throughout the Muslim world and empower violent sectarians (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc.) to fill the vacuum, the bipartisan military imperialists in charge of the American state bear the responsibility for an untold — and ever-growing — number of atrocities, committed on every side.

Without the invasion of Iraq, no ISIS. Without America’s arming of a global jihad movement to overthrow the secular government in Afghanistan, no al Qaeda. Without 70 years of American protection of the pushers of the most violent, extremist, retrograde off-shoot of Islam, the corrupt Saudi tyrants — coupled with 70 years of America’s relentless destruction and undermining of every single non-sectarian political movement in the Middle East in favor of tyrants, satraps and puppets — no worldwide “radicalization” of repressed and threatened Muslims.

But don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to be seen as part of the “Blame America First” crowd on this. I don’t hold with such a reductive stance, especially in the face of the vast complexities and nuances of geopolitics. No, when it comes to fixing the primary guilt for the dark thunderclouds of fear, war, madness, extremism, instability, tyranny and chaos that loom over our time, I don’t “blame America first.” I blame America first, second, third, fourth, fifth and last. And I damn the bipartisan leaders who have made this so.

***

UPDATE: Since this piece was written there has been another American-assissted attack on an MSF facility, this time in Yemen, where with American bombs guided by American intelligence, an MSF clinic was hit repeatedly, for two hours, by America's favorite violent sectarians, the Saudis. (Although of course al Qaeda -- one of the chief beneficiaries of the US-Saudi berskerking in Yemen, and also an increasingly important, and increasingly open ally in Syria -- runs a close second. The Independent has more here.)

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Windsor Knot: Confirmation of UK Royal Treason with Nazis

Written by Chris Floyd 22 October 2015 2298 Hits

While we're all going back in time to talk about bigwigs who supported and/or collaborated with the Nazis, let's take a look at this smoking gun that recently appeared in the London Review of Books: documentary proof of the former King of England's treason with the Nazis, supplying them with top-secret info from high-level war strategy meetings. (Of course, I suppose the Mufti of Jerusalem talked the Duke of Windsor into this treachery; as we all know, thanks to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Mufti had magical powers that could make even a good guy like Hitler do bad things.)

This was a letter to the editor in the 8 October issue of the LRB:

The Duke of Windsor’s War

The Duke of Windsor appears also to have been a traitor (Letters, 10 September and Letters, 24 September). At the outbreak of war in 1939, he was made a major-general attached to the British Military Mission in France. In that capacity he would have attended Allied War Council meetings. It became known after the war that he had made a visit to The Hague in January 1940 (the Netherlands was still neutral then) and paid a visit to the German Embassy there. The following extract is from the German Foreign Policy Documents 1918-45, Series D, Vol. VIII, No. 621. These can be found online.

    124/122669

    Minister Zech to State Secretary Weizsäcker

    SECRET

    THE HAGUE, February 19, 1940.

    DEAR WEIZSÄCKER: The Duke of W., about whom I wrote to you in my letter of the 27th of last month, has said that the Allied War Council devoted an exhaustive discussion at its last meeting to the situation that would arise if Germany invaded Belgium. Reference was made throughout to a German invasion plan said to have been found in an airplane that made a forced landing in Belgium. On the military side, it was held that the best plan would be to make the main resistance effort in the line behind the Belgian-French border, even at the risk that Belgium should be occupied by us. The political authorities are said to have at first opposed this plan: after the humiliation suffered in Poland, it would be impossible to surrender Belgium and the Netherlands also to the Germans. In the end, however, the political authorities became more yielding.

    Heil Hitler!

    Zech

Andrew Richardson
Bournemouth

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13 Ways of Looking at the Deep State

Written by Chris Floyd 16 October 2015 2074 Hits

Deep State is a Terror State, Torture State,
Tyrant State — and it’s OK with that.

Deep State was formed to bodyguard elites,
keeping their dominance ever-refreshed.

Deep State doesn’t care what you advocate,
just as long as you toe the unsaid line.

Deep State is cold, lacks true affect;
hates only that which hinders it.

Deep State fences the range of opinion
like a cattle baron stringing barbed wire.

Deep State loves culture war, stokes all sides,
thrives on strife, the bitterer the better.

Deep State is not in full control; it just
knows which way it wants the world to roll.

Deep State kills the leaders it doesn’t like;
a lesson our leaders learned long ago.

Deep State doesn’t care if a whistle’s blown;
it already holds the reins of ‘reform.’

Deep State enjoys the horse-race hoopla,
voters vexed by the vetted and the duped.

Deep State’s wars have no other aim
than to keep our masters’ coffers in coin.

Deep State doesn’t mind blowing up the world,
if the world won’t do what Deep State wants.

Deep State is Red, Deep State is Blue;
Deep State don’t give a damn for you.

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National (Blue) Velvet: The Rot of Roseburg Comes From Every Side

Written by Chris Floyd 05 October 2015 1737 Hits

The shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, is turning into a David Lynch movie. First, there's the sheriff who's a Sandy Hook "truther," now there's the shooter's mother who was stockpiling weapons and taking her troubled son to remote shooting ranges. She believed the government was about to confiscate guns, so she kept buying them. But here's the truth: it is now far easier to buy weapons, and much harder to trace who owns them, than at ANY TIME IN US HISTORY. So where do so many people get the idea that the 'guvmint' is coming to take their weapons -- when the 'guvmint' can't even pass a single law regulating gun sales, and when there has NEVER been a single 'guvmint' proposal to "confiscate" guns? These hysterical lies stem directly from the rightwing echo chamber: Murdoch, Limbaugh, the NRA, etc. So how much responsibility do these deliberate liars bear for the actions of those who believe their base falsehoods? Plenty.

That said, let's be clear about one other point: A president who directs drone bombings and death squads, who sends his secret armies to kill, subvert and sow division in 135 countries (at last count), who cheerfully allies himself with ISIS's progenitors, Saudi Arabia, and gives them bombs and military intelligence to wage aggressive war in Yemen, killing thousands of innocent civilians, then protects his honored killers from UN investigation -- this leader has zero moral standing to shed crocodile tears about the "violence in our society." This isn't a partisan issue; it's a poison being injected into the national bloodstream from every side.

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In Brief: 'Lone Nuts' and Natural Fruit; Moscow Murk

Written by Chris Floyd 05 October 2015 1690 Hits

"Lone nut" gunmen: natural fruit of the system. Hypercapitalism destroys social, family, community and economic bonds; it sews division, isolation, competition, greed; lauds force and violence and war as supreme values; turns rape and murder into nightly entertainment; dehumanizes and commodifies human beings at every turn ... and then we wonder why our society produces so many troubled, isolated, violent souls out there. A system set up on dehumanization and moral insanity is bound to produce the kind of damaged psyches we see falling prey to the hate that fills the nightmind of the internet -- and the broad daylight of Establishment violence and brutality -- and who then go walking into schools and churches and workplaces to act out the destructive chaos they hear in their heads ... and see in the world.

***

Sudden, murky tectonic shifts going on in Moscow; unreported in the West
From a friend in Moscow in last week: "Stuff is happening in Moscow. I'm not putting it together yet, but "things have changed." Putin is suddenly pulling out of Ukraine. TV has suddenly stopped ragging on the US. Russia bombs ISIS, oops, no, the other opposition; then bombs ISIS. Yesterday I watched for 4 astonishing hours as Putin listened to dozens of speakers in the human rights council tell him straight to his face how his government has failed in the courts, in lawmaking, in finance - virtually everywhere. I don't ever remember seeing Putin take so much public criticism in one fell swoop (TV Rain ran it). Today this tidbit - that Putin has signed an order to put up a memorial - a Wall of Grief - to victims of repressions. Almost none of this could have happened over the last 2 to 3 years. Something has changed to make this particular stew of events possible now."

Seen anything about this in the Western press? No. They're not interested in what is really happening in Russia, only in their fantasy version of Putin and Kremlinland, which they chop and change as they please to suit whatever their agenda is at any given moment.

***

Follow-up on guns
Beyond the systemic, theoretical issues noted above, there are many common-sense, practical measures we could take to reduce gun deaths in short run -- even without "taking away everyone's guns," as the fetishists claim at every suggestion of even the slightest regulation of this deadly technology. In fact, gun use has been heavily regulated throughout most of US history. It is only relatively recently that gun ownership has acquired a religious fervour that brooks no controls whatsoever on the sacred object. Certainly, when I was growing up in the arch-traditional, Bible-Belt, hunting-dog South decades ago, there was none of the bristling defensiveness that characterises the "gun debate" today -- much less the extremist push for "open carry" laws, which the traditional gun-owners I grew up with would have thought absolutely insane.

But the fact is, if you can regulate deadly technology like automobiles without "taking all our precious cars away," you can regulate guns, as Nicholas Kristof notes. True, regulating gun sales and gun use will not eliminate every gun death, no more than having driver's licenses and traffic laws prevent every auto death. But as Kristof points out, it would reduce the number of gun deaths considerably, while leaving people's liberties intact. This seems a worthy, reasonable goal -- and, again, would actually accord with the "traditional values" that our modern right-wingers profess to champion. But apparently Americans would prefer to live in a society where, as Kristof reports, "more preschoolers are shot dead each year (82 in 2013) than police officers are in the line of duty (27 in 2013)" and where the powerful gun lobby fiercely opposes all research into making guns safer.

Again, this is not a traditional or conservative stance at all; this is radical extremism, ushering in an aggressive, paranoid, violent society, completely at odds with any kind of genuine "traditional values" at all.

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Road to Damascus: An Odd Quack of Truth from the Telegraph

Written by Chris Floyd 01 October 2015 1876 Hits

The Daily Telegraph is an odd duck. Loathsome in almost every respect — from its nutball, feudal lord owners to its repulsive politics — from time to time it will suddenly print a piece of reportage that undercuts the prevailing propaganda narratives of the Anglosphere’s oh-so-very-free press.

For example, in the midst of America’s disastrous occupation of Iraq in the last decade, the Telegraph — pro-war Thatcherite Tory to the bone — published a remarkably in-depth story detailing the murderous “dirty war” being fought by the US/UK security apparat in Iraq: death squads, torture, arming extremists, deliberately sewing sectarian division, etc. What’s more, the paper traced a clear line of the UK side of the scheme back to the very similar black ops that helped keep Northern Ireland in deadly ferment for so many years. (For more on the story and other revelations of the programme, see "Ulster on the Eurphrates: The Anglo-American Dirty War in Iraq.")

I don’t know what prompts these sudden spasms of truth-telling in such an odious rag — probably moves in some game in the bowels of the Deep State, one faction of apparatchiks trying to undercut another. But they’ve done it again this week, albeit on a smaller scale than the Iraq dirty war piece, with a story by Peter Oborne, reporting from Damascus, where, as he notes, a diverse, secular regime (repressive to be sure, but much less repressive than, say, Saudi Arabia, and far more religiously diverse than, say, Egypt — or even Israel) is being torn apart by monomaniacal extremists backed with money, weapons, bombs and gear from the West. A few excerpts:

… On Palm Sunday, I went to the Old City and walked up Straight Street, following the route taken by St Paul after he had been blinded (Kokab, the scene of his Damascene conversion, is now in rebel hands). At the Greek Catholic church, I watched ceremonies of breathtaking beauty – in precincts that had been struck twice in the past week, though happily causing no injuries. On the way back, I passed a man looking dazed next to his ruined car. A mortar had struck it just a few minutes earlier. When I picked up the shell casing, it was still warm.

… People here see their country as being threatened by foreign powers (above all Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all backed by the West) who are sponsoring the jihadist groups that make up the opposition. I was struck by the fact that this argument is not made only by the Alawite coterie around the president. I also heard it from Sunni Muslims, Christians and members of the various other cultural and religious groups that abound in Syria.

How can this square with the Western narrative that President Assad’s government, with the aid of a handful of tribal followers, is hell-bent on the destruction of the rest of the country? Consider the facts. Only a handful of members of Assad’s 30-strong cabinet (I was told two) are Alawite. The prime minister is Sunni, as are the interior minister, the justice minister, the foreign minister, even the defence minister. The delegation that travelled to Geneva for the failed peace talks several months ago was also almost entirely composed of Sunni Muslims (though they would probably reject sectarian terms, and prefer to think of themselves just as Syrians).

Nor is it merely the political class that thinks in this way. Last night I had dinner with a young doctor. He showed me a Facebook exchange that he had recently had with a former friend from medical school, who has joined the extremist opposition group al-Nusra. The doctor had put out a public status aimed at all jihadists asking them: “Please stop shooting at us with your mortars.” He was astonished to receive a reply from his friend: “I will put a bullet in your heads.” My doctor friend messaged him back: “I am not afraid of you.” This was followed by a horrifying response. “We love death, we drink blood. Our president is dead bodies. Wait for our exploding cars to kill you.”

… [A shopkeeper] walked me along an alleyway to his home and pointed to a destroyed balcony where his mother had liked to sit. Two months ago, she had been resting there as usual when she was killed by a direct hit from a mortar. “Your government,” he told me, “is the worst ever; they want Syria to be a democracy and ally themselves with Saudi Arabia, which has nothing to do with democracy.”

… I am well aware that the government has committed dreadful atrocities, though I suspect that some of the accounts have been exaggerated. Nevertheless, I do think the words of my shopkeeper friend are worth pondering. If the insurgents who killed his mother win the war, there will be no Christian churches in Syria any more (just as there aren’t in Saudi Arabia at the moment). Life will be similarly terrible for many of the ordinary Muslims who make up the great majority of the population.

There are no “good guys” in Syria’s civil war. But we should not be blind to the fact that there is a project out there to destroy its rich, pluralist and unbelievably intricate culture and replace it with a monochrome version of Wahhabi Islam, of the kind favoured by Saudi mullahs. And for reasons that history may come to judge very severely, Britain, the United States, and the West have been aiding and abetting this project.

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Corbyn the Kitten Eater: How Low Will Bipartisan Brit Media Go?

Written by Chris Floyd 16 September 2015 1724 Hits

Looks like the Times is giving the Guardian a run for their money in the "most ludicrously trivial slanting of Corbyn coverage" contest. First the Guardian noted the lèse majesté of Corbyn's lip movements (or lack thereof) during the national anthem; now the Times damns his bicycle for its associations with far-left mass murder. (The kind Corbyn is obviously plotting for all those who resist his evil plans to create a howling, hellish Britain with less war and fewer poor).

An innocuous picture of Corbyn leaving his house was larded with feverish implications by Times, which noted (in the first paragraph!) that the Labour leader was, on this occasion, taking a cab to a meeting and leaving behind his — gasp! — "Chairman Mao-style bicycle."

And this is just the first week of his party leadership! What next? “Jeremy Corbyn, whose hair colour is eerily reminiscent of that of Jimmy Saville, was spotted today in a shop buying pencils (an obvious indication of his Luddite intention to reduce Britain to a pre-Industrial Revolution wasteland).”

“BREAKING NEWS!! Jeremy Corbyn, who refused to praise our Queen in song, was caught today — on video! — actually mouthing the lyrics to a Cat Stevens tune as he walked down the street. He won’t honour the Queen, but he’s happy filling his mouth with the words of a MUSLIM!”

“In yet another revealing — and disturbing incident — Jeremy Corbyn was spotted today using his two lower limbs to propel himself forward — JUST LIKE ADOLF HITLER DID! Is there any doubt now that this madman is a threat to our national security, as the PM rightly said???”

At this rate, they’re going to run out of demonization material by the end of this month. What will they have left by the time of the actual election in 2020? “One onlooker said that Corbyn was literally EATING THE HEADS off NEWBORN KITTENS while chewing wads of khat (a DRUG directly connected to AFRICANS) and having SEX with BURQA-clad MUSLIM PROSTITUTES on top of MARGARET THATCHER’S GRAVE!! Is THIS the man we want to see in No. 10 next week??”

It’s going to a long five years…

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Grief Without Wisdom: Joe Biden’s Empty Authenticity

Written by Chris Floyd 12 September 2015 2001 Hits

I’m very sorry Joe Biden’s son died recently. I truly am. I know it’s a deep, genuine pain, “overwhelming,” as he told Stephen Colbert, and he will carry it the rest of his life. But when I see all our earnest media progressives gushing over Joe’s “authenticity” in sharing that pain on national TV, I also think of the hundreds of thousands of people who lost children and other kith and kin in a pointless war that Joe not only voted for, but also actively encouraged with heated Senate hearings that whipped up war fever.

That faithful service to the demented war aims of the Bush Administration was also the “authentic” Joe Biden in action. Yet now we have many of the same earnest progressives who fiercely opposed that war, who eloquently denounced the invasion and diligently catalogued the monstrous crimes and follies of the occupation, praising one of its chief bipartisan architects for his “authenticity” in speaking of precisely the kind of grief he helped inflict on thousands upon thousands upon thousands of innocent people. The parade of such people who are grieving for their losses as deeply and genuinely as Biden is grieving — and because of actions that Biden directly and eagerly abetted — would take days on end to pass across Stephen Colbert’s stage, where Joe sat in comfort and basked in the sympathy of the nation. For each one of these — whose human pain is the equivalent of Biden’s — to sit down and tell their story as he did would take years on end.

But who would listen? Who would care? No one cared then — Joe Biden certainly didn’t, when he was recklessly peddling cooked intelligence and bellicose bombast, and warning of the “imminent danger” posed by the broken, bombed-out, hedged-in, already half-occupied country of Iraq. He didn’t worry about the suffering to come for individuals who loved their children exactly as he loved his. And he didn’t worry about that suffering when it came to pass in the war he helped engender.

But now he has lost a child, another child; his young daughter was killed long ago, with her mother, in a car accident. Now he grieves again. And now he is a hero of “authenticity” for many progressives, who declare that this authenticity alone qualifies him to be president. Yet it looks as if this new grief has taught him nothing, given him no insight into the suffering of others. It has not led him, a religious believer, to a conviction of his sins, to an awareness of the cruel and pointless, endless horror he helped inflict on multitudes of innocent people — a horror that continues to this day, as the blood and chaos spawned by the war he supported continues to produce fresh victims without ceasing, every hour, in an ever-widening circle.

If Joe Biden’s grief, authentic as it is, does not lead him to a confrontation with the terrible crime that sits in the center of his soul, then what good is it to anyone? What good is it to him, or to the son he’s lost? Without that insight, that conviction, without confession and recantation and acts of expiation, his televised grief and private suffering will be as pointless and meaningless as the war that he and Bush and Cheney and Hillary created.

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” — James 2:14, 20

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