Tuesday, August 31, 2010

American Terror

The Greatest Covert Operation Ever:
The Politics of Terror as the Business of Terror

by Douglas Valentine
Global Research, August 30, 2010

The politics of terror are the greatest covert operation ever.

In explaining why, I’ll begin by defining some terms, because, when discussing the covert op called “the politics of terror,” words and their management are all important.

How are politics and terror actually defined: how are these meanings manipulated; for what purposes, and by whom?

Terrorism is defined as "violence against civilians intended to obtain a political purpose." This is an ambiguous phrase, which begs the questions: what are politics and violence?

Politics is defined as “the process by which groups of people make collective decisions.” And violence is the use of force to compel a person or group to do or think something against their will. That includes the violence of words – of threatening to hurt - and of social structures, as well as the violence of deeds.

So, by definition, terrorism is political violence – hurting people, or threatening to hurt them, in order to make them govern themselves against their will.

In America , terrorism is always condemned by the government, and, accordingly, America is never a perpetrator of terrorism, but always the victims of it. The US war on terror is the ultimate expression of this principle: it is a military response to terrorism; violence in self-defense, not (ostensibly) violence for a political purpose.

That’s the official story – the assumption. But I’m going to show that America does engage in terrorism – violence against civilians for political purposes. This “state” terrorism, however, is covert, in so far as it is equated with national security, and thanks to that built-in ambiguity, it has both stated and unstated purpose.

The State and Unstated Policy in America

Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. But who really makes the overarching political decisions in America ? Who governs us?

The two political parties represent the people and they compete for control of the government. Republicans generally favor business and Democrats favor labor. The political division is, generally, class based.

Now, the government can be controlled by either political party; but the state endures – “the state” being the nation’s indispensable industries and infrastructure (banking, auto industry, insurance, Microsoft), and the institutions which defend the nation’s enduring interests: the military, law enforcement, the intelligence & security services.

In Europe they often, cynically, refer to the state as “industry” or Big Business. In America we tend to call “the state” the Establishment – an ambiguous word that needs to be defined.

The dictionary defines Establishment as, “An exclusive group of powerful people who rule a government or society by means of private agreements and decisions.” I would venture to say that the interests of the state and the Establishment are the same, and that the definition of Establishment with a capital E is the pivotal phrase in discussing “state” terrorism.

Consider this: there is the politics of the two parties vying for control of the government, and there is the Establishment, the state, making the covert (ostensibly non-political) decisions that effectively govern America .

Many of those covert decisions concern national security: they are unstated policy.

Moreover, these covert policy decisions about national security are made by people who control the military, law enforcement, and intelligence & security services. These guardians of “the state” are collectively called the National Security Establishment.

Like the Establishment that secretly rules the “state,” the National Security Establishment is an exclusive group that is not accountable to the political whims of the people.

These professional guardians of the state – the Establishment - are assumed to be above partisan politics. Their loyalty is assumed to be to the law or national security. And that assumption is the Big Lie upon which state terrorism is based.

Yes, it is true that the National Security Establishment is not accountable to the people: and, in fact, it has built a series of ever-larger, concentric moats around itself called the National Security State , precisely to keep the people out of its business.

The National Security Establishment rules the National Security State , with an iron fist, but it is pure propaganda that the National Security Establishment and State are not political.

In order to get inside the National Security Establishment, and rise to a position of authority within it, one must be born there (like Bush – make a billion like Gates), or submit to years of right-wing political indoctrination calibrated to a series of increasingly restrictive security clearances.

Political indoctrination – adopting the correct right-wing ideology – and security clearances represent the drawbridge across the moats.

The National Security State is the covert social structure of the Establishment, and it has as its job not just defending the Establishment from foreign enemies, but also expanding the Establishment’s economic and military influence abroad, while preserving its class prerogatives at home.

By “class prerogatives,” I mean the National Security State is designed to keep the lower class from exerting any political control over the state; especially, redistributing the Establishment’s private wealth.

To these unstated ends – imperialism abroad and repression at home - the National Security State engages in terrorism - political violence - on behalf of the Establishment.

Indeed, the National Security State is political violence, terrorism, in its purest form.

The Establishment and its National Security State as Terrorism

The lower classes in America have little voice in making government or state policy. Some are hopeless, others content: but in either case, voter turnout is a mere 54%.

Whether hopeless or content, they know they cannot fight conventional thinking. For example, when the Establishment exerts its influence, it is not considered politics; it is simply the status quo. The rich create jobs and must be accommodated with trillion dollar bailouts, paid for by workers taking furloughs.

That’s just the way it is. Politicians in the service of the Establishment, for over-arching reasons of national security, have to keep the capitalist financial system afloat.

It is the same thing with the National Security Establishment: America invaded Iraq , and there was nothing the people do about it. The decision was made for them. Peace activists, least of all, had no voice in the decision, because they are assumed to have no stake in national security. You will not find peace activists in the National Security Establishment; and that political repression is covert state terrorism.

Likewise, if labor seeks to exercise influence, its efforts are described as exploiting the state for more than it deserves, because it does not have an enduring stake in the state.

It is a fact: only Establishment wealth – ownership - is equated with national security.

Consider the immortal words of Leona Helmsley: “Only the little people pay taxes.”

That injustice in the tax code is political repression and, in so far as it makes the people fearful, it is state terrorism. The Establishment fears losing its loopholes, while workers and the poor fear losing their homes: two types of terror, one for each class, one stated, one unstated.

The Establishment engages imperialism and political repression through propaganda (word management violence) and social structures. This state terrorism is unstated, covert.

Only when the people rebel and challenge the Establishment is the word terrorism applied.

Likewise, the military, police or intelligence causes of rebellion, or responses to it, are never called terrorism: they are national security.
And that’s how the management of words helps to repress the lower classes.

Language and the Psychology of State Terror

America’s industrial sized war machine was never said to terrorize Iraq ; the invasion was not political - because the war machine is owned by the Establishment. The Establishment profiting from war is not politics; it is ideological neutral “profits.”

In fact, America exerts its unwanted political influence overseas, through the state terror of aircraft carrier fleets, bombers, nuclear subs, shock and awe invasions, pacification programs, the overthrow of governments, and support of repressive puppet regimes.

This state terrorism, which you never hear about, is the biggest covert psychological warfare operation of all time. This psywar operation depends on narrowly defining terrorism as a suicide bomber, a hijacked plane, the decapitated body of a collaborator: the “selective terrorism” of rebels and nationalists who, outgunned, and outlawed in their own country, have no other options, other than submission.

The purpose of selective terror is psychological: to isolate collaborators, while demonstrating to the people the ability of the rebels to strike at their oppressors. Shock and Awe, and brutal pacification cam­paigns – state terrorism - prevent people from making a living - selective terrorism does not. That’s a big, meaningful “class” difference.

The National Security Establishment understands that selective terror achieves political and psychological goals that state terror does not – that it rallies people to revolutionary ideals. So the National Security Establishment engages in selective terror too, by targeting the rebel, his family and friends in their homes.

This is the selective terror con­ducted by counter-terrorists. But don’t be confused: it is terrorism. All terror is psychological and political; state terror by immobilizing people and making them responsive, submissive, apathetic, and/or ostensibly “content.”

The National Security Establishment fully understands that once people have been terrorized, they have been politically defeated, without necessarily receiving bullets.

As former Director of Central Intelligence William Colby once said: “The implication or latent threat of terror was sufficient to insure that the people would comply."

This principle of the psychological use of “the implication or latent threat of terror” is what brings us back to America and the business of terror.

The Business of Terror

State terror – colonization abroad and political repression at home - is a key means of extracting profits and maintaining ownership of property. Ask the American Indian.

In its colonies, the US engages in state terrorism by removing all legal protections for rebels; detention, torture, and summary execution are the price for rebellion against US policy.

State terrorism overseas, imperialism, is never acknowledged by the media, because the media is a big business; indeed, two of the major networks are owned by defense contractors.

And state terrorism applied domestically to ensure “internal” security is never acknowledged - America says it has no political prisoners. But the National Security State is well thought out, by professionals in language management, and political and psychological warfare, aimed at you.

"Personal violence is for the amateur in dominance," says two-time Nobel Prize winner Johan Galtung, but "structural violence is the tool of the professional. The amateur who wants to dominate uses guns; the professional uses social structure. The legal criminality of the social system and its institutions, of government…is tacit violence. Structural violence is a structure of exploitation and social injustice."

As Colby said: “The implication or latent threat is enough to insure people will comply."

The war on terror and its domestic version “homeland security” are the law of the land – America 's new legally criminal social structure based on administrative detention, enshrined in The Patriot Act and a number of executive orders, some secret.

This lack of due process comes on top of a justice system already skewed to protect the propertied elite and pack the prisons with the poor, through "structural violence," mainly the drug wars.

The Establishment’s new anti-terror and anti-drug laws make the National Security State the most fearsome covert political and psywar machine the world has ever seen. And the National Security State is growing: the “Top Secret America” series in the Washington Post put it at 750,000 cadres.

This secret state within a state extends into the homeland’s critical infrastructure and beyond. For example, the arms industry provides good jobs, making American imperial aggression seem a positive value.

And this is how the psyched-out people become one of the moats.

As it is modeled on the totalitarian corporate paradigm, the National Security State in al its manifestations fits the classic definition of a fascist dictatorship. And we know what its intentions are. They have been stated.

In the days after 9-11, right wing Republican stalwart Kenneth W. Starr, the Clinton inquisitor, said the danger of terrorism requires "deference to the judgments of the political branches with respect to matters of national security."

But is there an on-going emergency that requires defer to the political branches, meaning the right-wing ideologues who rule the National Security State ? And what does it mean for Establishment opponents if due process is completely abandoned at home, and subjected to politics?

Michael Ledeen, a former counter-terror expert on Reagan's National Security Council, blamed 9-11 on Clinton "for failing to properly organize our nation's security apparatus." Ledeen's solution to the problem of those who sneered at security was "to stamp out" the "corrupt habits of mind." By which he means Liberalism.

In other words, the reactionary right wing that owns the National Security State wants to impose its total rule on the people in order to create a security conscious, uniform citizenry - marching in lock step, flags waving - that is necessary to win the war on terror. This is how the National Security professionals are incrementally creating the requisite fascist social structure - through terror, the best organizing principle ever. "This is time for the old motto, 'kill them all, let God sort 'em out.' New times require new people with new standards," Ledeen asserted. "The entire political world will understand it and applaud it. And it will give us a chance to prevail."

When Ledeen says “political” world he means the "owners of the business" of state terror, the right wing ideologues who pack the National Security State and the capitalist Establishment they serve.

And they have won the propaganda war, folks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

American Waste

US wasted billions in rebuilding Iraq
Sunday, August 29, 2010AP KHAN BANI SAAD, Iraq –
A $40 million prison sits in the desert north of Baghdad, empty. A $165 million children's hospital goes unused in the south. A $100 million waste water treatment system in Fallujah has cost three times more than projected, yet sewage still runs through the streets.
As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in American taxpayer funds has been wasted — more than 10 percent of the some $50 billion the U.S. has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.

That amount is likely an underestimate, based on an analysis of more than 300 reports by auditors with the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. And it does not take into account security costs, which have run almost 17 percent for some projects.
There are success stories. Hundreds of police stations, border forts and government buildings have been built, Iraqi security forces have improved after years of training, and a deep water port at the southern oil hub of Umm Qasr has been restored.
Even completed projects for the most part fell far short of original goals, according to an Associated Press review of hundreds of audits and investigations and visits to several sites. And the verdict is still out on whether the program reached its goal of generating Iraqi good will toward the United States instead of the insurgents.

Col. Jon Christensen, who took over as commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region District this summer, said the federal agency has completed more than 4,800 projects and is rushing to finish 233 more. Some 595 projects have been terminated, mostly for security reasons.

Christensen acknowledged that mistakes have been made. But he said steps have been taken to fix them, and the success of the program will depend ultimately on the Iraqis — who have complained that they were not consulted on projects to start with.
"There's only so much we could do," Christensen said. "A lot of it comes down to them taking ownership of it."

The reconstruction program in Iraq has been troubled since its birth shortly after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The U.S. was forced to scale back many projects even as they spiked in cost, sometimes to more than double or triple initial projections.

As part of the so-called surge strategy, the military in 2007 shifted its focus to protecting Iraqis and winning their trust. American soldiers found themselves hiring contractors to paint schools, refurbish pools and oversee neighborhood water distribution centers. The $3.6 billion Commander's Emergency Response Program provided military units with ready cash for projects, and paid for Sunni fighters who agreed to turn against al-Qaida in Iraq for a monthly salary.

But sometimes civilian and military reconstruction efforts were poorly coordinated and overlapped.
Iraqis can see one of the most egregious examples of waste as they drive north from Baghdad to Khan Bani Saad. A prison rises from the desert, complete with more than two dozen guard towers and surrounded by high concrete walls. But the only signs of life during a recent visit were a guard shack on the entry road and two farmers tending a nearby field.
In March 2004, the Corps of Engineers awarded a $40 million contract to global construction and engineering firm Parsons Corp. to design and build a prison for 3,600 inmates, along with educational and vocational facilities. Work was set to finish in November 2005.

But violence was escalating in the area, home to a volatile mix of Sunni and Shiite extremists. The project started six months late and continued to fall behind schedule, according to a report by the inspector general.
The U.S. government pulled the plug on Parsons in June 2006, citing "continued schedule slips and ... massive cost overruns," but later awarded three more contracts to other companies. Pasadena, Calif.-based Parsons said it did its best under difficult and violent circumstances.

Citing security concerns, the U.S. finally abandoned the project in June 2007 and handed over the unfinished facility to Iraq's Justice Ministry. The ministry refused to "complete, occupy or provide security" for it, according to the report. More than $1.2 million in unused construction material also was abandoned due to fears of violence.

The inspector general recommended another use be found for the partially finished buildings inside the dusty compound. But three years later, piles of bricks and barbed wire lie around, and tumbleweed is growing in the caked sand.

"It will never hold a single Iraqi prisoner," said inspector general Stuart Bowen, who has overseen the reconstruction effort since it started. "Forty million dollars wasted in the desert."
Another problem was coordination with the Iraqis, who have complained they weren't consulted and often ended up paying to complete unfinished facilities they didn't want in the first place.
"Initially when we came in ... we didn't collaborate as much as we should have with the correct people and figure out what their needs were," Christensen said. He stressed that Iraqis are now closely involved in all projects.

One clinic was handed over to local authorities without a staircase, said Shaymaa Mohammed Amin, the head of the Diyala provincial reconstruction and development committee.

"We were almost forced to take them," she said during an interview at the heavily fortified local government building in the provincial capital of Baqouba. "Generally speaking, they were below our expectations. Huge funds were wasted and they would not have been wasted if plans had been clear from the beginning."

As an example, she cited a date honey factory that was started despite a more pressing need for schools and vital infrastructure. She said some schools were left without paint or chalkboards, and needed renovations.
"We ended up paying twice," she said.

In some cases, Iraqi ministries have refused to take on the responsibility for U.S.-funded programs, forcing the Americans to leave abandoned buildings littering the landscape.

"The area of waste I'm most concerned about in the entire program is the waste that might occur after completed projects are handed over to the Iraqis," Bowen said.

The U.S. military pinned great hopes on a $5.7 million convention center inside the tightly secured Baghdad International Airport compound, as part of a commercial hub aimed at attracting foreign investors. A few events were held at the sprawling complex, including a three-day energy conference that drew oil executives from as far away as Russia and Japan in 2008, which the U.S. military claimed generated $1 million in revenues.
But the contracts awarded for the halls did not include requirements to connect them to the main power supply. The convention center, still requiring significant work, was transferred to the Iraqi government "as is" on Jan. 20, according to an audit by the inspector general's office.
The buildings have since fallen into disrepair, and dozens of boxes of fluorescent lightbulbs and other equipment disappeared from the site. Light poles outside have toppled over and the glass facade is missing from large sections of the abandoned buildings.

Waste also came from trying to run projects while literally under fire.
The Americans committed to rebuilding the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah after it was destroyed in major offensives in 2004. The U.S. awarded an initial contract for a new waste water treatment system to FluorAMEC of Greenville, S.C. — just three months after four American private security contractors were savagely attacked. The charred and mutilated remains of two of them were strung from a bridge in the city.

An audit concluded that it was unrealistic for the U.S. "to believe FluorAMEC could even begin construction, let alone complete the project, while fierce fighting occurred daily." The report also pointed out repeated redesigns of the project, and financial and contracting problems.

The Fallujah waste water treatment system is nearly complete — four years past the deadline, at a cost of more than three times the original $32.5 million estimate. It has been scaled back to serve just a third of the population, and Iraqi officials said it still lacks connections to houses and a pipe to join neighborhood tanks up with the treatment plant.
Desperate residents, meanwhile, have begun dumping their sewage in the tanks, causing foul odors and running the risk of seepage, according to the head of Fallujah's municipal council, Sheik Hameed Ahmed Hashim.
"It isn't appropriate for the Americans to give the city these services without completing these minor details," Hashim said. "We were able to wipe out part of the memories of the Fallujah battles through this and other projects. ... If they leave the project as it is, I think their reputation will be damaged."
By contrast, the Basra children's hospital — one of the largest projects undertaken by the U.S. in Iraq — looks like a shining success story, with gardeners tending manicured lawns in preparation for its opening. But that opening has been repeatedly delayed, most recently for a lack of electricity.

The construction of a "state of the art" pediatric specialist hospital with a cancer unit was projected to be completed by December 2005 for about $50 million. By last year, the cost had soared above $165 million, including more than $100 million in U.S. funds, and the equipment was dated, according to an auditors' report.

Investigators blamed the delays on unrealistic timeframes, poor soil conditions, multiple partners and funding sources and security problems at the site, including the murder of 24 workers. Bechtel, the project contractor, was removed because of monthslong delays blamed on poor subcontractor performance and limited oversight, the special inspector general's office said. A Bechtel spokeswoman, Michelle Allen, said the company had recommended in 2006 that work on the hospital be put on hold because of the "intolerable security situation."

In an acknowledgment that they weren't getting exactly what they hoped for, Iraqi officials insisted the label "state of the art" be removed from a memorandum of understanding giving them the facility. It was described as a "modern pediatric hospital."

Hospital director Kadhim Fahad said construction has been completed and the electricity issue resolved.
"The opening will take place soon, God willing," he said.
Residents are pleased with the outcome. One, Ghassan Kadhim, said: "It is the duty of the Americans to do such projects because they were the ones who inflicted harm on people."
Associated Press Writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Duplex Humanity

Homo erectus
and the Kiss of Rothschild

Dog Poet Transmitting…….
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Someone wrote me this morning to tell me that there are two types of human beings; Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. Apparently, the former turned into the latter but they have never found the missing link. He argued that maybe there was no missing link because they weren’t linked; being two different creatures and those of us that couldn’t see much of anything were in one and those of us who could see what was going on were in the other.

I saw a listing yesterday that had a selection of events that had taken place recently. As I studied them, I realized that the full impact of these events had not hit me in any real way, even though I knew such things were coming. Details about many of them were not presented to be as dramatic as they actually were. For instance, the Central European flooding was the worst in over 800 years. The heat wave and fires in Russia were the worst in over 1,000 years. The U.N. determined that the flooding in Pakistan was a greater disaster than the 2004 tsunami. Ten million people in Africa are in immediate danger of starving to death because of drought. Temperatures are so low in the Western United States that many fruits and vegetables are being destroyed. The southern and eastern portions of the United States are suffering from a terrible heat wave, which shows no signs of coming to an end. In Japan, 21,000 have been hospitalized for heat stroke. 6 millions fish, thousands of cattle and hundreds of people have been killed in South America. Thousands are dead in China from flooding. There’s a great deal that I haven’t mentioned but which you are familiar with.

Iheard about some of these things but I had no idea of the scale and scope of them.I hear the word HAARP all the time lately. Someone tells me it’s just a radar machine. That would make it a ‘sensor’. Someone else tells me that pointing it upwards affects the jet stream and that the jet stream has a profound effect on global weather patterns. You can read about everything I mentioned in the last paragraph and a lot of other things in this article.

There is an ominous warning moving around in the areas where food production and distribution are monitored. It seems that there may be serious food shortages come this fall and winter. It looks certain to me that the stock market is going to crash pretty soon. Currency is going to start acting like a fish that jumped out of the Gulf of Mexico to avoid what I call The Kiss of Rothschild. Very shortly after that fish hits the beach, it will be symbolic of various currencies and especially the American dollar which is intricately tied to all sorts of important things on an international basis.

The bankers, stockbrokers, traders, hedge fund managers and all types similar have speculated and gambled like madmen, without restraint, concern or conscience and laid the effects of their irrational behavior, upon the backs of the public, in countries around the world. They deliberately engineered a number of whacked out scenarios that failed in spectacular fashion and which also wound up on the backs of the public. These agents of global chaos are the funding sources for elected politicians and so they were able to demand and get enormous bailouts with the excuse that they were “too big to fail”. The commercial real estate bubble hasn’t burst yet but it will.

Now countries are saddled with debt that was created by predatory elite that couldn’t keep it in their pants because they were trying to stuff it all in their pockets and these same elite, in order to generate maximum profit, destroyed manufacturing, jobs, benefits and pensions in order to push the margins. Their ally in all of this is the Homo erectus. This has been their greatest ally and victim. It’s two for one night at Little Caesars’.

What I am noticing is that many of the things I have seen coming for some time are happening all around but I am not seeing them with any intensity of awareness. There’s some kind of disconnect going on. The various types of response to the conditions of present time keep surfacing in front of me and offering options away from consideration of them. There are options of self-introspection and possibilities of getting high or going the other way on the ladder. There are freaky compulsions that come out of nowhere and demand attention. I’m crossing the lake in a small dingy and these things are leaping out of the water and trying to land in the boat.

They say that during the London blitz, people used to have wild and frenetic sex with total strangers in doorways or practically anywhere. It would seem that some sort of biological imperative was at work, tied to a sense of desperation and fatal despair. People’s lives crumble from drink and drugs, when these things take precedence over the usual concerns of life in terms of importance. Unusual fantasies come up into the surface mind when it can’t process what is taking place around it. The mind seems to want to defend itself against what it can’t explain by creating circumstances of compulsion and obsession that captivate and divert their attention.

Personally, I’m in the dingy rowing across the lake but I see other dinghies and I see the creatures jumping out of the water. I know if you bend over the edge of the boat you will see the faces of men and women, whose arms appear to be outstretched for your embrace. It is by this means that I am able to intuit or observe the conditions and forces I am discussing.

It makes sense to me that when the unpredictable replaces the predictable in terms of the power of manifestation that the same thing has to be going on inside the mind as well. I get the sensation that pornography is really humming at the moment. I get the sensation that any distraction that can be focused on, so that it will defend against consideration of the weirdness happening on all sides, is being engaged in by large groups of people.

Underneath all of this is the power of what any person believes, in respect of the power of everything that challenges it. This makes it a sort of living allegory or individual myth, where each person has to traverse their own personal underworld, as their belief system is tested against the forces that seek to destroy it. I know what I feel but don’t act on. I know what I see and walk away from. This leads me to believe it is pretty widespread since the general tenor of the common mind always intrudes upon the mind of the individual, whether they are already taken over by it or not. In one case it reinforces and in the other case it seeks to compel.

I know that some people see all of this in religious terms and some people see it as a random exercise, working itself out according to chaos theory. Some people see it as the natural progression of basic instincts in humanity and I suppose I could come up with other ways that people might see it or attribute meaning to these times but my sense is that each of us are in a specific relationship, in accordance with how we have conducted ourselves and what we value. Whatever we place the highest value on has had the greatest influence over the direction in which we walked and the occupations and amusements in which we indulged. This could be why some people can’t see and others can. It could be that we are now resident within the parameters of whatever world our values circumscribe. We are all living in the reality of what we believed was real and most important and are being challenged to save it and ourselves but… that will be determined by how our values measure up against archetypal values.

Our truth is going to come up against ‘the truth’. Our actions are going to come up against the cosmic range of permissible action. Our words are going to come up against whatever measuring tool defines the integrity of whatever we had to say and its impact on anyone who heard us.

You can see this in religious terms or you can see it in numbers and symbols and the pure math that lives at the top of the mountain, where our highest possibilities reside and which melt like the snow and run down into the valleys where they turn into all the colors of our natural and unnatural worlds. You can see it or not see it depending on whether you tried to see it enough to convince whatever determines your possession of sight to make it possible. This is how it looks to me today and, no doubt, this will account for something in terms of my tomorrow. I suspect we are all reaping similar rewards depending on what we found rewarding. I’ll say in conclusion that it is never too late until it is too late. It’s a pity that some people closed out their options by making themselves blind, so that they could see something that wasn’t real.

End Transmission…….

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Collapsing Israel

A United Iran
Against a Collapsing Israel

ShareKourosh Ziabari 24. Aug, 2010

As the racist regime of Israel moves toward greater international isolation due to its aggressive, belligerent policies, Iran receives wider support from the world’s nations for its uncompromising resistance against the bullying superpowers and annulling their mischievous plots. The world is witness to the growth of Iran’s popularity while hatred and disgust against Israel builds up progressively. Iran is reaching out to the hearts and souls around the world while Israel ignites denunciation and deprecation in the four corners of the globe.

Since Israel raided the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31, the flimsy existence of Tel Aviv began to splinter as the world nations collectively and categorically reacted to the atrocious mass killing of 9 peace activists in the international waters by the Israel Defense Forces.

Israel’s unlawful, brutal killing of the unarmed civilians aboard the Freedom Flotilla sparked such a remarkable international condemnation that even the most stalwart allies of Tel Aviv in the EU zone recalled their ambassadors from Israel and called for a thorough, detailed investigation of the incident which they described as offensive and violent. The international condemnations were so extensive and intensive that even the most pessimistic Israeli politicians couldn’t envisage. Four countries downgraded their diplomatic relations with Israel – in addition to the four countries that had cut their diplomatic ties with Israel during the 22-day Gaza war of 2008-2009, Twelve Latin American countries condemned the Israeli actions, Twenty-one European countries protested Israel and Twelve non-Arab Asian countries officially disapproved Tel Aviv.

The precursor of global protests to Israel was Turkey which had lost 9 of its citizens in the raid. In an insightful, thought-provoking and appreciable statement before his country’s parliament, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly questioned Israel’s impunity from the international laws and called for a decisive end to the illegal actions of this regime: “It is no longer possible to cover up or ignore Israel’s lawlessness. The international community must from now on say ‘enough is enough’. Dry statements of condemnation are not enough … There should be results.”

At the beginning and when the first news was released, the extent of Israel’s violence had not become clear to the public opinion; however, as the international peace activists began retelling the stories of their ordeal upon being deported by Tel Aviv to their respective countries, the world realized that a great calamity had taken place.

Upon his extradition to Istanbul, the Irish historian and activist Dr. Fintan Lane told the media about his terrible experience on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which was unjustifiably attacked by the Israeli commandos on May 31: “when they boarded our boat, we resisted entirely peacefully. I sat on the floor and tried to reason with them, but the Israeli commandos physically attacked us. Fiachra (one of the Irish passengers aboard the flotilla) was dragged around the ground and I had a gun pointed in my face by a screaming commando. His mania was so intense that I genuinely feared for my life. Others received beatings.”

The American peace activist and anti-imperialist speaker Kenneth O’Keefe was another passenger on board the Gaza aid convoy. He witnessed the death of two of his Turkish colleagues in person and was brutally harassed, tortured by the Israeli forces: “while in Israeli custody I, along with everyone else was subjected to endless abuse and flagrant acts of disrespect. Women and elderly were physically and mentally assaulted… in stress positions while hand cuffed to the point of losing circulation of blood in our hands. We were lied to incessantly, in fact I am awed at the routineness and comfort in their ability to lie, it is remarkable really. We were abused in just about every way imaginable and I myself was beaten and choked to the point of blacking out… and I was beaten again while in my cell.”

Hassan Ghani, the 25-year-old Scottish journalist and media correspondent of the Press TV was also among the flotilla travelers. He was ruthlessly punished by the Israeli commandos in what he described as the “brutal Israeli assault” on the flotilla: “we didn’t expect a ship with 32 different nationalities on board, with aid from 50 different countries on board, would be attacked in such a brutal manner… They began by throwing stun grenades on to the deck of the ship when people were in the middle of morning prayers. Then they began using rubber bullets, they tried to come aboard the ship from the side. People repelled the commandos with water cannons they had set up on the side of the ship. Then the Israelis used helicopters to drop people onto roof and there was scuffles on the roof. The Israeli solders had already opened fire on the ship, so people were grabbing anything they could to stop the attack in international waters.”

Another painful account of the flotilla raid was retold by the prominent Swedish author Henning Mankell who described the Israeli actions as “committing murder”: “they got very aggressive and ordered us to come down. There was one older man who was a little slow, so the Israelis attacked him with an electric stun gun. He was in a lot of pain. So was another passenger who was covered in paint after being hit with a paint ball missile. The commandos searched the ship thoroughly and emerged waving a razor and a metal-box cutting tool, which they claimed were “weapons” intended to be used against them. All the passengers were then herded into a group, with armed guards standing watch as the ship was taken to Israel When we got off… we were made to walk down a corridor of armed commandos who filmed all of us with cameras. They stole my mobile phone, my money, my clothes and my credit cards.” Mankell said that he was held in a cell for 24 hours along with a Swedish Member of Parliament and then deported even “without his socks”.

All of these accounts attest to the fact that Israel is being reprimanded by people from the four corners of the world who object to the inhuman policies and actions of Tel Aviv regardless of the nationality they belong to and the political stance they champion.

Today, it’s known to everyone that Israel is a political entity which the United States supports in order to maintain its interests in the Middle East and subject the region’s nations. In the other words, Israel plays the role of America’s permanent representative in the Middle East and is entitled to resort to every possible mean to intimidate and bring under control the independent nations in the region. The fact is that Israel is a fragile and unstable political regime and every day of its shaky survival is hinged on the exertion of force and violating the rights of other nations. As the Iranian journalist Mohieddin Sajedi once noted, Israel cannot live without creating troubles. From mass killing to occupation, from assassination to the construction of illegal settlements, Israel continues to exist with illegal actions and this is what keeps them alive.
The main adversary of Israel is Iran. Israel has repeatedly warned Iran against the use of force and launch of a military strike on its nuclear facilities. The reason is clear. Iran is turning into an inspiring model for the independent nations around the world. Iran’s 30-year-long resistance against imperialism and its courageous confrontation with the bullying superpowers has made it an example of victorious struggle with political arrogance and many independent nations on the face of world see Iran on the frontline of battle with the United States and its colonies such as Israel.

Iran is winning international popularity because it has demonstrated the effectiveness of self-sufficiency in nationalizing the nuclear energy. While Israel possesses up to 200 nuclear warheads in flagrant violation of the international law and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has made striking advancements in taking over the nuclear power and excelling in using it for peaceful purposes. The fact that Iran has succeeded in nationalizing the nuclear energy without the assistance of Western superpowers is indigestible for Israel which is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East; that’s why it has warned Iran against a preemptive military strike; however, the reality is that a 70-million-strong army stands by the resistance movement of Iran and a coalition of powerful troops consisted of the independent nations around the world, stand by Iran against the collapsing Israel forever.

USA Drug War

Mexico, the USA, and the Unthinkable:
Drug Legalization

By Patrick Corcoran , August 23, 2010

These are heady days for Mexican advocates of drug legalization. It started when Felipe Calderón kicked off a flurry of conversation with a call for debate on the topic in early August. Days later, President Calderón’s predecessor (and occasional sparring partner) Vicente Fox took a step further and wrote a piece advocating the immediate legalization of drug production and consumption in a post on his personal blog.

In the weeks that followed, newspaper opinion pages were filled to the brim with, fittingly, opinions regarding the various proposals being bandied about, and what their impact on Mexico would be.

The comments from the present and past presidents follow the participation of their predecessor, Ernesto Zedillo, in the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, which has turned him into one of the most respected and high-profile legalization advocates on the globe.

All of this adds up to a scenario that is all-but-unthinkable in the US: a wide-open debate about drug legalization among the nation’s elites.

For the American corollary, think of the response from Barack Obama, during an online forum set up by the White House in March 2009, to questions about legalization of marijuana: “I don't know what that says about the online audience…. The answer is no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy.”

In other words, asked a legitimate question about revisiting an ongoing 40-year-old policy catastrophe that has turned the US into the world’s foremost jailer, has gravely degraded its neighbors’ governments, and has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, Obama — himself a former drug user — responded with a joke and an evasion.

Moving beyond politicians’ comedic parrying, the arguments for legalization in Mexico, the US, and elsewhere are as solid as that rock in the Mediterranean that the British are so fond of. To wit: marijuana, the consumption of which presents less of a threat to society than that of alcohol, accounts for an estimated 60 percent of the roughly $20 billion that Mexican traffickers make on a yearly basis. That sum, presently used for such activities as buying off police officers and politicians, could be reduced by some $12 billion if US politicians embraced legalization of marijuana. (Legalization in Mexico would be hugely symbolic, but the Americans would need to go along for it to be a revolutionary change.)

Of course, this wouldn’t be a cure-all. Indeed, rather than immediately eliminating the drug gangs presently terrorizing many parts of Mexico, in all likelihood legalization would have some extremely sticky short-term consequences with regard to security, as gangs squeezed out of the marijuana trade would seek to replace the lost income through more menacing activities like extortion and kidnapping. For this reason, it would be folly to think of legalization as a substitute for Mexico’s uneven efforts to reform its criminal justice system.

However, if Mexico’s eventual future is to be one free of criminals with the wealth and power of Chapo Guzmán, the easiest and surest way to get there is to eliminate the source of the capos’ income: black market drugs. While legalization is often caricatured as the terrain of the soft-on-crime left, legalization is no lily-livered concession to drug traffickers. Indeed, it would be an existential assault on them.

Furthermore, the futility of prohibition is an established fact at this point, and has been for years. As Fox pointed out, the decision to use or not use drugs is a personal one, much as it was before prohibition, and much as is the case with alcohol. The drug prohibition has added a stigma to the use of certain drugs (though not always the right ones), but it has not made the desire to get high much more difficult to act on. Four decades after Nixon declared the War on Drugs, most drugs are cheaper, purer, and more plentiful than they were in the 1960s.

Unfortunately for proponents of legalization in Mexico, the chances of moving the debate toward the actual passage of legislation are slim. Less than 30 percent of the country is in favor of the measure according to most polls. But while a radical policy move like legalization would be a bad idea with such low levels of support, public debates such as that Mexico has witnessed these last few weeks could do wonders to increase support.

In contrast, the reluctance from US policy-makers to honestly consider legalization reflects a rather embarrassing (and bipartisan) lack of courage and logic. Of course, these two virtues have been conspicuously absent in official policy throughout the war on drugs, which is precisely why it has continued for more than two generations.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rouseff & Chavez

Brazil and Venezuela:
Two Turning Point Elections this Fall

22. Aug, 2010 By James Petras


Two elections in Latin America this fall will have decisive importance in the direction of economic and foreign policy for the coming decade.

Venezuelan legislative elections on September 26 will determine whether President Chavez can secure the two-thirds majority needed to proceed with his democratic socialist agenda without the procedural obstructionism of an increasingly hardline Right.

Brazil the most powerful and dynamic industrial and agro-export economy in the region, faces Presidential elections on October 3rd.

In both countries, the electorate is highly polarized, though in Brazil not along a socialist-capitalist axis.

In Venezuela the Rightwing is aiming to block the further advance of public ownership of strategic industries, foment destabilization by encouraging non-compliance or sabotage of local community based policy initiatives and to impose constraints on budgetary expenditures for social programs and public investments. The strategic aim of the Right is to enhance institutional penetration by US military, intelligence and “aid” agencies, in order to weaken President Chavez’s independent foreign policy initiatives and pressure his government to make concessions to the White House, especially by dampening his support for Iran, Palestine and most important the independent Latin American political-economic formations that exclude Washington (MERCOSUR, ALBA, UNASUR).

Presidential Elections: Brazil

In Brazil, the Presidential elections pit the Workers Party candidate Dilma Rousseff backed by outgoing President Lula Da Silva against the former governor of Sao Paulo State and standard bearer of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party Jose Serra. The party labels are irrelevant, as both candidates have pursued and are proposing to continue free trade, export-led, agro-mineral development policies and both draw financial backing from business and banking elites. Despite their ties to the business elites and eschewing any radical (or even moderate) changes in Brazil’s highly unequal income distribution and land tenure system, there are crucial differences which will affect: (1) the balance of power in the hemisphere; (2) the capacity of Brazilian social movements to freely articulate their demands; (3) the future of center-left regimes in neighboring countries (especially Bolivia, Venezuela and Argentina); (4) and the public-private joint ventures in the massive newly discovered offshore oil fields.

Serra will shift Brazil’s foreign policy toward greater accommodation with the US, lessening or breaking ties with Iran and reducing or even cancelling joint investment programs with Venezuela and Bolivia. However, Serra will not change foreign trade and investment policies with regard to Asia. Serra will continue Lula’s free trade policies, looking to diversify markets (except where the US defines geo-political “threats” or military interests), promoting agro-business and mineral-energy exports. He will continue Lula’s policy of budget surpluses and tight fiscal and income policies. Serra’s social policies will likely deepen and expand Lula’s cuts in public pensions and follow his policy of wage constraints, while reducing public spending especially for education, health and poverty programs. In the crucial area of the exploitation of the new massive oil and gas fields, Serra will downgrade the role of the state (and its share of revenues, profits and ownership) for private foreign oil companies. Serra is less likely to co-opt trade union leaders and resort to greater reliance on ‘legal’ repression of strikes and greater criminalization of rural social movements, especially of the land occupations of the Rural Landless Movement (MST). Diplomatically Serra will move closer to the US and its militarist policies, without overt support for direct military intervention. An indication of Serra’s embrace of Washington’s agenda was his calling Bolivia’s reform government a “narco-state” echoing Hilary Clinton’s rhetoric, in contrast to the friendly ties between the two countries under Lula. No doubt, Serra will reject any independent diplomatic initiatives which conflict with US military ambitions. Rousseff’s campaign essentially promises a continuation of Lula’s economic and diplomatic policies, including majority public ownership of the new oil and gas fields, the promotion of poverty programs and a margin of tolerance – though not backing – for social movements like the MST and the trade unions.

In other words the choice is between a step backward toward the repressive, conformist, policies of the 1990’s, or the status quo of free markets, an independent foreign policy, poverty programs and greater Latin American integration.

If Serra wins, the balance of power in Latin America will shift toward the Right and with it, a re-assertion of US influence and leverage on all of Brazil’s center-left neighbors. Serra will largely follow Lula’s footsteps in domestic policy, administering poverty programs via his functionaries while ensuring that Lula’s social movement supports are weakened. With these limited options, the major business associations of Sao Paulo are backing Serra (with individual business people contributing to both candidates) while the major trade unions are in Rousseff’s camp; the social movements like the MST who feel betrayed by Lula’s broken promise of land reform are campaigning “against Serra” – indirectly supporting Rousseff. The saying “which way goes Brazil goes Latin America” has more than a grain of truth especially if we are discussing Latin America’s economic future and prospects for deeper integration.

Legislative Elections: Venezuela

Venezuela under Chavez is the key to prospects for progressive social change in Latin America. The democratic socialist government backs reform regimes in Latin America and the Caribbean and through its public spending has established path breaking gains in health, education and food subsidies for 60% of the poorest sectors of the population.

Despite Chavez immense popularity over the decade and the innovative redistributive programs and progressive structural changes, there is a clear and imminent danger that the Right will make significant gains in the forthcoming legislative elections.

The United Venezuela Socialist Party (PSUV) led by President Chavez, has to its credit six years of high growth, rising incomes and declining unemployment. Against that is the current 18 month recession, high inflation and crime with budgetary constraints limiting new programs.

According to official US aid agency documents, Washington has poured over $50 million dollars into the coffers of opposition controlled NGO’s and political “fronts” which promote US interests in the run up to the elections, focusing on unifying the squabbling opposition factions, subsidizing the 70% private mass media and financing opposition controlled community groups in middle and lower class neighborhoods. Unlike the US, Venezuela does not require recipients of overseas funds acting on behalf of a foreign power to register as foreign agents. The Rightwing campaign focuses on government corruption and drug trafficking, a line echoed by the White House and the New York Times, forgetting to mention that Venezuela’s Attorney General announced the prosecution of 2,700 cases of individual corruption and 17,000 cases of drug trafficking. The opposition and the Washington Post cite the case of the state distribution system (PDVAL) failing to deliver several thousand tons of food, causing it to rot and go to waste but they failed to mention that the three former directors are in jail and that the food ministry provides one-third of staple food consumption in the country at prices up to one-half lower than the private supermarkets.

The Right will undoubtedly make significant gains in the legislative elections, simply because they start from a low base point, ground zero, since they boycotted the last elections. Their anti-corruption campaign is not likely to overwhelm Chavez’s majoritarian constituency, since their previous standard bearer, ex President Carlos Andres Perez was convicted of multi-million dollar fraud and pillage of the public treasury. Local opposition governors and majors have also been indicted for fraud and malfeasance of funds and are holed up in Miami. Nevertheless, while Chavez is perceived by most voters as honest and untainted, the same cannot be said for some of the incumbents running for office. The question is whether the voters will re-elect them despite their record in order to back Chavez or whether they will abstain. Abstention based on disenchantment and not a switch to the Right, is the greatest threat to a decisive PSUV victory.

In the run-up to the legislative elections the PSUV ran primaries in which many community councils elected popular local candidates against those chosen by the official establishment. It will be revealing to see if the candidates from the grass roots perform better than those selected from the “top”. A victory of the former will strengthen the socialist as opposed to the moderate sectors of the PSUV.

The electoral process is highly polarized along class lines; with the majority of the lower class backing the PSUV and the middle and upper class almost uniformly supporting the Right. Nevertheless, there is a significant sector of the poor and trade unions which is undecided and not motivated to vote. They can decide the outcome in crucial voting districts and that is where campaigning is fierce. Key to a PSUV electoral victory is whether the trade unions, the worker managed factory committees and communal councils will make a major effort to turn out reticent voters and elect leftist candidates. Even militant trade unionists and worker based management groups have been notoriously focused on “local” and “economistic” (wage issues) overlooking or ignoring the larger political issues. Their vote and activity as opinion leaders in pointing out the “big picture” is crucial to overcoming political inertia and even their disenchantment with some of PSUV candidates.


The coming elections in Brazil and Venezuela will have a decisive impact on Latin American politics, economic policy and relations with the US throughout the second decade of this century. If Brazil “goes Right”, it will immeasurably strengthen US influence in the region,and eliminate an independent voice. Even as neither candidate will put a foot forward toward greater social justice, the election of Lula’s preferred candidate Dilma Rousseff will proceed toward greater Latin American integration and a relatively independent foreign economic policy. Her election will not open the door to any consequential structural changes.

A victory for the Venezuelan Socialists will strengthen Chavez’s resolve and ability to continue his social welfare polices and his anti-imperialist and pro-integration policies. Chavez’s strong stance in opposing US militarization, including the coup in Honduras and the military bases in Colombia, embolden center-left regimes to adopt a somewhat more moderate but principled position opposing militarization. Chavez’s socialist reforms in Venezuela serve as a pressure on center-left regimes to legislate social reforms, promote poverty programs and joint ventures, instead of following the neo-liberal policies of the pro-US hard Right. In Brazil the question is voting for the lesser evil, in Venezuela it is a question of voting for the greater good.

James Petras
James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of 64 books published in 29 languages, and over 560 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 article

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Intervention in Africa

U.S. Military Intervention in Africa:
The New Blueprint for Global Domination

by Paul C. Wright Global Research, August 20, 2010

The United States’ intervention in Africa is driven by America’s desire to secure valuable natural resources and political influence that will ensure the longevity of America’s capitalist system, military industrial complex, and global economic superiority – achieved through the financial and physical control of raw material exports. While America’s prosperity may be waning due to a number of current factors, policy makers are bent on trying to preserve America’s global domination and will pursue policy objectives regardless of the downturn in the economy at large.

The U.S. has a long history of foreign intervention and long ago perfected the art of gaining access to other countries’ natural, human, and capital resource markets through the use of foreign trade policy initiatives, international law, diplomacy, and, when all else fails, military intervention. Typically and historically, diplomatic efforts have largely been sufficient for the U.S. to establish itself as a player in other nations’ politics and economies. While U.S. intervention in Africa is nothing new, the way the U.S. is going about the intervention features a new method that is being implemented across the globe.

The U.S. has followed a great deal of its diplomatic interventions with the establishment of extensive networks of foreign military posts - designed to influence other nations and protect what are defined as U.S. strategic national interests. This global reach is evidenced by an extensive network of over 737 military installations [1] all around the globe, from Ecuador to Uzbekistan, Colombia to Korea. The model for successfully accessing these nations and their critical financial and commodities markets is changing, however, particularly as it relates to renewed intervention in Africa. The new intervention is directly linked to two factors: the fast paced and heated battle with rivals China and Russia over their access to key natural resources, and the U.S.’ declining ability to manage a bloated international network of overseas military outposts.

I. Resources Rivalry

Access to natural resources – particularly oil and rare earth elements - is critical for the U.S. to remain a dominant industrial and military power, especially since the U.S. has experienced a decline in natural resource production while China’s production and foreign access to strategic materials has only increased. A sustained increase in oil imports has been underway since domestic U.S. oil production peaked in the 1970s, with oil imports surpassing domestic production in the early 1990s. Strategic metals, such as the titanium used in military aircraft, and rare earth elements used in missile guidance systems are increasingly produced by China or under the control of Chinese companies. The issue is of such importance that 2009 saw the creation of the annual Strategic Metals Conference, a forum designed to address concerns related to US access to metals with important industrial and military uses. The second annual conference, held in Cleveland, Ohio in January 2010, saw dozens of engineers and military personnel express heightened concern over China’s near monopoly over rare earth metals. [2] China controls around 95% of the world’s rare earth output and has decided to restrict the export of these metals, leaving international consumers short by approximately 20,000 tons in 2010. [3]

China’s rapidly developing economy, recently over taking Japan as the world’s second largest, continues to log nine to ten percent annual growth in Gross Domestic Product, and is fueled by a rapidly growing middle class as well as new export markets around the world. The demand for raw materials has led to new policy initiatives in which Africa has taken center stage for Chinese investment. China has gained access to Africa by, in large part, offering favorable aid packages to several nations which include loans, debt forgiveness, and job training. [4] In contrast to Western aid packages, Chinese aid has few if any strings attached.

China’s platform for developing trade with and providing aid to Africa was of such importance that in October 2000, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was launched. Fifty African nations participate in the forum which serves as the foundation for building bridges of economic trade as well as political and cultural exchange. [5] The forum, and indeed China’s Africa strategy as a whole, has been so successful that Africans view China as an equal partner in trade and development, validating the politically and culturally significant “South-South” economic alliance that the FOCAC maintains is at the foundation of its engagement with Africa. This plays on the historical disparities that Western powers created and exploited in their former “North-South” colonial relationships with Africa and has been a key factor in developing strong bonds and a highly favorable opinion of China among Africans. Survey data indicates that most Africans share the view of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade when he says:

“China’s approach to our needs is simply better adapted than the slow and sometimes patronizing post-colonial approach of European investors, donor organizations and nongovernmental organizations. In fact, the Chinese model for stimulating rapid economic development has much to teach Africa. With direct aid, credit lines and reasonable contracts, China has helped African nations build infrastructure projects in record time—bridges, roads, schools, hospitals, dams, legislative buildings, stadiums and airports. In many African nations, including Senegal, improvements in infrastructure have played important roles in stimulating economic growth.”

“It is a telling sign of the post-colonial mindset that some donor organizations in the West dismiss the trade agreements between Chinese banks and African states that produce these vital improvements—as though Africa was naive enough to just offload its precious natural resources at bargain prices to obtain a commitment for another stadium or state house.” [6]

In fact, opinion polls clearly reveal that Africans see Chinese influence as being far more positive than U.S. influence. [7] China has clearly gained a substantive advantage in working with dozens of African nations as U.S. influence continues to wane.

Russia has also taken a renewed interest in Africa, reminiscent to some in the U.S. media as a revision of the Soviet Union’s Africa Strategy in which the Soviet Union created numerous “Soviet Treaties of Friendship and Cooperation” as a counterweight to Western capitalism and institutions like the United States Agency for International Development. [8] Russian President Medvedev, and Prime Minister Putin have been making their rounds in Africa with “legions of Russian businessmen, targeting diamonds, oil, gas, and uranium” and have been establishing commodities production agreements with several nations. [9] Putin’s push to restore Russia’s international stature, power, and prestige has led Russia to purchase in excess of $5 billion of African assets between 2000 and 2007. [10] Russia’s investments in and trade with Africa are quite small when compared with both the U.S. and China. Still, Russia has made an increase in trade and the acquisition of African raw materials a geostrategic imperative.

Chinese and Russian influence is quickly spreading and is seen in many cases as a viable and preferable alternative to the Western model which, particularly considering Africa’s colonial past, is seen to attach unfavorable conditions to aid and development that are designed to enrich the West at the expense of the people of Africa. Africans have in effect identified what sociologist Johan Galtung considers to be a “disharmony of interests” that the U.S. is trying to manage through new diplomatic efforts. The U.S. continues to lose influence in Africa to China and Russia, both of which are increasing their influence at a steady clip, and continues to be branded as imperialist in the eyes of Africans. The U.S. is well aware that it needs to improve its image in Africa in order to realize its strategic goals.

II. The Weight of Empire

While there is no reliable data on the precise cost of maintaining the United States’ network of over 700 military bases, it is estimated that the cost is $250 billion per year. [11] This is 38% of the entire disclosed 2010 budget for the Department of Defense of $663.7 billion. The cost includes facilities, staff, weapons, munitions, equipment, food, fuel, water, and everything else required to operate military installations.

In 2004, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated that the U.S global military presence had to change and adapt to the post-cold war world. The post-cold war world did not require large garrisons of heavy armor throughout the European theater – garrisons stocked with enough soldiers and armament to challenge the massive Soviet military and Warsaw Pact nations on the borders of Eastern and Western Europe. The new military would be lighter, faster, rely more on light infantry and special-forces, and would used to fight multiple smaller scale wars across the globe in what was branded as an eternal Global War on Terror (GWOT). In Rumsfeld’s opinion, the U.S. would save up to $6 billion of its annual operating budget by closing (or realigning) 100 to 150 foreign and domestic bases [12] and save $12 billion by closing 200 to 300 bases. [13] Clearly, the cost of maintaining America’s legions was central to the Rumsfeld’s transformation initiative and to the U.S. military’s new role.

This military transformation would reduce the number of heavy garrisons abroad and would increasingly rely on pre-positioned war materials managed by smaller staffs at foreign military installations. These military installations would be available for a massive influx of U.S. troops if needed. Bilateral treaties and Status of Forces Agreements created by the Department of Defense and host nations would ensure that these installations would be available, to the extent required, to the American military and would ensure that the American military could operate freely with few constraints on its activities, legal or otherwise.

In the case of Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, a key military outpost and strategically important piece of real-estate in the Horn of Africa, precisely where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden, the United States government entered into an agreement [14] with the government of Djibouti that has several striking features:

· U.S. military personnel have diplomatic immunity

· The United States has sole jurisdiction over the criminal acts of its personnel

· U.S. personnel may carry arms in the Republic of Djibouti

· The U.S. may import any materials and equipment it requires into the Republic of Djibouti

· No claims may be brought against the U.S. for damage to property or loss of life

· Aircraft, vessels, and vehicles may enter, exit, and move freely throughout the Republic of Djibouti.

Such an agreement allows the U.S. to maintain a small permanent presence in Djibouti, but staff and stock up with as many military personnel and weapons as it deems fit for any particular operation inside or outside of Africa as needed. Additionally, the agreement gives the U.S. the flexibility it wants to operate freely without interference from or liability to the people and government of Djibouti.

III. The New Model - AFRICOM

With all of the concern over U.S. access to key natural resources, it is hardly a surprise that United States conceived of and finally launched United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007. The unveiling AFRICOM was done under the auspices of bringing peace, security, democracy, and economic growth to Africans. The altruistic rationale for the creation of a new military command was belied by the fact that from the start it was acknowledged that AFRICOM was a “combatant” command created in response to Africa’s growing strategic importance to the United States; namely, “the size of its population, its natural resource wealth, its potential". [15]

Africans were aware of U.S. described strategic national interests in their oil and gas fields, and raw materials long before most Americans were had any idea that renewed intervention in Africa was being planned. In November 2002, the U.S. based Corporate Council on Africa held a conference on African oil and gas in Houston, Texas. The conference, sponsored by ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco among others, was opened by United States Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Walter Kansteiner. Mr. Kansteiner previously stated that, “African oil is of strategic national interest to us and it will increase and become more important as we go forward,” while on a visit to Nigeria. [16] In fact, President Fradique de Menezes of Sao Tome and Principe said at that time that he had reached agreement with the United States for establishment of a U.S. naval base there, the purpose of which was to safeguard U.S. oil interests. [17] The U.S. Navy has in fact proceeded with its basing plans in Sao Tome and recently reported on its activities in that nation on its website in July, 2010. [18] Since the establishment of AFRICOM, numerous training exercises have been carried out in Africa by U.S. military forces, and basing agreements have been worked out with several African partners across the continent – even in the face of strong dissent from the citizens of several countries. The U.S. has been able to create these relationships through the careful structuring of its operations, size and make-up of its staff, and public relations efforts.

The structuring of AFRICOM was a critical component in making AFRICOM palatable to Africans. After several nations objected to the presence of a physical headquarters in Africa, AFRICOM’s commander, General William E. Ward, went on record several times to say that a physical command presence was not needed in Africa (even though the U.S. initially did try quite hard but unconvincingly to establish a permanent headquarters there). The command is currently based in Stuttgart, Germany, and will remain there for the foreseeable future, mainly in deference to African objections.

AFRICOM’s size was also an important factor. It has no large garrisons, no sizeable staff beyond the headquarters in Germany and the small number of forces and civilian support personnel based at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti as part of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), and no large armory to sustain division or brigade sized operations. The small size and staff of U.S. basing operations like CJTF-HOA is the new model for U.S. foreign intervention. Instead of large garrisons, the U.S. has is created a series of Forward Operating Locations (FOLs). FOLs are “smaller, cheaper, and can thus be more plentiful. In short, the FOL can lie in wait with a low carrying cost until a crisis arrives, at which point it can be quickly expanded to rise to whatever the occasion demands.” [19] Arrangements have been made with several countries, north, south, east, and west, including Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Namibia, Sao Tome, Senegal, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Zambia. [20]

AFRICOM’s staffing structure is a military-civilian hybrid for two reasons: to convey the message that the combatant command does not have an exclusive military purpose, and to gain influence over African nations’ domestic and foreign policies. AFRICOM has a civilian deputy commander and a large civilian staff, in part made up of U.S. State Department personnel. These civilian personnel include foreign policy advisors from the U.S. Bureau of African Affairs, humanitarian assistance advisors from the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as advisors from the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security. [21] Africa’s burgeoning relationships with China are seen as undermining Western “efforts to bolster good governance, improve respect for human rights, and reduce corruption,” [22] hence the need for civilian subject matter expertise to help the Africans manage their civil affairs and security.

U.S. officials have long been cognizant of African hostility to any efforts that could be perceived as neo-colonialist and imperialist. A number of missteps to rectify were (and continue to be) identified as the new command took shape. Several contradictory statements were made with respect to AFRICOM’s role, whether with respect to terrorism, natural resources, China, or the militarization of the continent. Even the timing of the command’s creation was criticized, it being created during a dramatically deteriorating time of war in Iraq. The actions of the U.S. government sent “mixed signals” [23] and fueled anti-Americanism among the citizens that would eventually become unwilling hosts of American forces. To overcome poor public relations, the command built several activities into the structure of AFRICOM, to include the building of schools in poor villages, air and sea port construction projects, the distribution of medicine and textbooks to children, military-to-military training programs, and legal operational support. Military personnel have also taken a more deferential tone in speaking about the way AFRICOM interfaces with African nations. Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller explained: “We do not lead or create policy . . . . Our programs are designed to respond to what our African partners have asked us to do.” [24]

Public relations efforts have been of such importance to the military, the U.S. Army War College published a research paper in March 2008, entitled “Combating African Questions about the Legitimacy of AFRICOM”. The paper expressed Africa’s strategic importance to the United States, yet offense that the creation of AFRICOM prompted a “hostile” response from African leaders. [25] It urged the U.S. to learn more about African institutions and to engage them rather than ignore them. It also advocated that U.S. personnel gain a stronger understanding of Africa’s colonial past while pushing for African nations to become more multilateral in working towards a common goal. It called for the increased use of “soft power that could be leverage by the U.S. Department of State in winning the public relations fight for Africa. [26]

AFRICOM has certainly run into a number of roadblocks but it appears that the new command will flourish as a result of intensive diplomatic and public relations efforts by the United States government. The structure and domestic operations of AFRICOM also makes it more palatable to African leaders who can more easily claim that they have a harmony rather than a disharmony of interests with the U.S. while the U.S. is building roads, training military forces, and passing out textbooks to children. A leaner, smaller, less intrusive, and more culturally engaged network of military outposts is America’s new blueprint for foreign intervention and global domination.

Paul C. Wright is an attorney, business consultant, and legal researcher who has practiced both military and civil law. His legal practice areas have included criminal, international, insurance, and consumer law.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Jerusalem Greetings

Photo taken by yours truly of a T-shirt stand in the Old City of Jerusalem

Pilger On Wikileaks

Why Wikileaks must be protected by John Pilger

In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the importance of Wikileaks as a new and fearless form of investigative journalism that threatens both the war-makers and their apologists, notably journalists who are state stenographers.

On 26 July, Wikileaks released thousands of secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan. Cover-ups, a secret assassination unit and the killing of civilians are documented. In file after file, the brutalities echo the colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and Basra, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name. Wikileaks has acquired records of six years of civilian killing for both Afghanistan and Iraq, of which those published in the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times are a fraction.

There is understandably hysteria on high, with demands that the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is “hunted down” and “rendered”. In Washington, I interviewed a senior Defence Department official and asked, “Can you give a guarantee that the editors of Wikileaks and the editor in chief, who is not American, will not be subjected to the kind of manhunt that we read about in the media?” He replied, “It’s not my position to give guarantees on anything”. He referred me to the “ongoing criminal investigation” of a US soldier, Bradley Manning, an alleged whistleblower. In a nation that claims its constitution protects truth-tellers, the Obama administration is pursuing and prosecuting more whistleblowers than any of its modern predecessors. A Pentagon document states bluntly that US intelligence intends to “fatally marginalise” Wikileaks. The preferred tactic is smear, with corporate journalists ever ready to play their part.

On 31 July, the American celebrity reporter Christiane Amanapour interviewed Secretary of Defence Robert Gates on the ABC network. She invited Gates to describe to her viewers his “anger” at Wikileaks. She echoed the Pentagon line that “this leak has blood on its hands”, thereby cueing Gates to find Wikileaks “guilty” of “moral culpability”. Such hypocrisy coming from a regime drenched in the blood of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq – as its own files make clear – is apparently not for journalistic enquiry. This is hardly surprising now that a new and fearless form of public accountability, which Wikileaks represents, threatens not only the war-makers but their apologists.

Their current propaganda is that Wikileaks is “irresponsible”. Earlier this year, before it released the cockpit video of an American Apache gunship killing 19 civilians in Iraq, including journalists and children, Wikileaks sent people to Baghdad to find the families of the victims in order to prepare them. Prior to the release of last month’s Afghan War Logs, Wikileaks wrote to the White House asking that it identify names that might draw reprisals. There was no reply. More than 15,000 files were withheld and these, says Assange, will not be released until they have been scrutinised “line by line” so that names of those at risk can be deleted.

The pressure on Assange himself seems unrelenting. In his homeland, Australia, the shadow foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has said that if her right-wing coalition wins the general election on 21 August, “appropriate action” will be taken “if an Australian citizen has deliberately undertake an activity that could put at risk the lives of Australian forces in Afghanistan or undermine our operations in any way”. The Australian role in Afghanistan, effectively mercenary in the service of Washington, has produced two striking results: the massacre of five children in a village in Oruzgan province and the overwhelming disapproval of the majority of Australians.

Last May, following the release of the Apache footage, Assange had his Australian passport temporarily confiscated when he returned home. The Labor government in Canberra denies it has received requests from Washington to detain him and spy on the Wikileaks network. The Cameron government also denies this. They would, wouldn’t they? Assange, who came to London last month to work on exposing the war logs, has had to leave Britain hastily for, as puts it, “safer climes”.

On 16 August, the Guardian, citing Daniel Ellsberg, described the great Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu as “the pre-eminent hero of the nuclear age”. Vanunu, who alerted the world to Israel’s secret nuclear weapons, was kidnapped by the Israelis and incarcerated for 18 years after he was left unprotected by the London Sunday Times, which had published the documents he supplied. In 1983, another heroic whistleblower, Sarah Tisdall, a Foreign Office clerical officer, sent documents to the Guardian that disclosed how the Thatcher government planned to spin the arrival of American cruise missiles in Britain. The Guardian complied with a court order to hand over the documents, and Tisdall went to prison.

In one sense, the Wikileaks revelations shame the dominant section of journalism devoted merely to taking down what cynical and malign power tells it. This is state stenography, not journalism. Look on the Wikileaks site and read a Ministry of Defence document that describes the “threat” of real journalism. And so it should be a threat. Having published skilfully the Wikileaks expose of a fraudulent war, the Guardian should now give its most powerful and unreserved editorial support to the protection of Julian Assange and his colleagues, whose truth-telling is as important as any in my lifetime.

I like Julian Assange’s dust-dry wit. When I asked him if it was more difficult to publish secret information in Britain, he replied, “When we look at Official Secrets Act labelled documents we see that they state it is offence to retain the information and an offence to destroy the information. So the only possible outcome we have is to publish the information.”


Link: http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=584

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bucks For Bombs

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


How do you solve a problem like Syria?

Samira Quraishy (Source: Middle East Monitor)

As Russia prepares to deliver fuel for Iran’s nuclear reactors, it is worth casting a reviewer’s eye over the potential for further conflict in the Middle East. In one corner we have the Zionist state of Israel and its somewhat reluctant – although faithful-ally, the United States. In the other corner we have Iran, Lebanon and Syria and their various proxies.

In a memorandum sent to the US President, Barack Obama, former intelligence specialists warned him of Israel’s likely pre-emptive strike on Iran, not for the commonly stated “threat”‘ of it developing nuclear weapons but to initiate regime change to remove one of Israel’s most prolific critics, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. This memo was released after skirmishes broke out between the Israeli Defence Forces and the Lebanese army on the border between the two states; political analysts suggest that it is not a question of if a strike will happen but a matter of when, unless Obama steps in and pulls Israel back into line.

Looked at from the Israeli side, it can make a strike on Iran more effective by removing Syria from the equation. Not, of course, through conventional military means or the use of Israel’s own nuclear arsenal; the Israelis are far more sophisticated than that. Israel would simply neutralise Syria by appeasement, completing the peace talks brokered by its once close friend in the region, Turkey, before Israel doomed the relationship with its invasion of Gaza and the assault on the Freedom Flotilla.

At the moment, if Israel was to strike Iran today Syria would have no choice but to come to Tehran’s aid and support its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah in the ensuing conflict. However, commentators in Israel regard with optimism recent talks in Lebanon between Syria’s President Bashar Assad, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and the host Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in which Syria’s political hegemony over the region was established, pushing Iran aside and, in the process, probably weakening Hezbollah’s political base in Israel’s northern neighbour.

One commentator in the Jerusalem Post suggested that if Israel were to take advantage of the momentum arising from this meeting and initiate talks with Assad who has in the past claimed to want peace talks with Israel Syria could be out of the strike-on-Iran equation. A peace deal between Syria and Israel would see Syria turning its back on Tehran, which will in turn neutralise or weaken any potential retaliation from Lebanon and Hezbollah.

There is, of course, a price to pay for such a deal; Israel would have to relinquish any claim to the strategically important Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. Peace with Syria would remove the justification for the occupation, namely “legitimate security concerns”. A deal with Israel would also lead to Syria normalising its relations with the US, a step Damascus would be only too happy to take for the benefit of its own strategic interests. A pact with Syria creating a new Israel-Syria-US axis would thus clear the field for the Jewish state to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear reactors, as it did against Iraq in 1981, without overt US support. If Russia is waiting to offer more than material support for Iran, this could provoke a stand-off between the old Cold War foes, Washington and Moscow. The stakes are high and Israel’s actions have the potential for far-reaching consequences.

One thing stands in Israel’s way, though, and that is its founding ideology’s greed for more territory. Zionism is an expansionist creed and Israel’s leaders have always been reluctant to give up land for peace; even after the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 Israel maintained the occupation by controlling Gaza’s land, air and sea borders. Analysts suggest that this may be Israel’s weak point which will make it impossible to do any deal with Syria. In turn, this may be what the government in Tehran is relying on to keep the Israeli wolves at bay. If so, it’s a slender hope. Israel doesn’t always do things the logical way. When it feels threatened, it has a tendency to hit out; woe betide anyone standing in the way, friend or foe. For that reason alone, it is not only Iran which must be vigilant, but also any state in the region considering peace deals with the Zionist state. So how do you solve a problem like Syria?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Change That's Not:

'Obama On Bush Route'

Video Interview With John Pilger

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?