Saturday, October 30, 2010
Republicans Urge Obama
To Prevent Palestinian State Recognition
As Congressional midterm elections approach, Republican representatives call on US president not to reward 'Palestinian behavior,' warn UN resolution on Palestinian state would hurt peace efforts
By Yitzak Benhorin
Republican members of the House of Representatives have written a letter to US President Barack Obama in which they urge him to veto any attempt to pass a Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state, which they said would predetermine the results of peace negotiations.
A UN resolution would cause serious damage to peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, they said.
The Republican representatives are blaming the president of causing the Palestinians to threaten to turn to the UN by publicly demanding Israel to halt settlement construction.
The letter was sent following recent reports on a Palestinian plan to turn to the UN for a vote on the establishment of a Palestinian state should direct talks reach a dead end.
It is estimated that the republicans will win a majority in the House of Representatives Tuesday at the Congressional midterm elections.
The letter noted that Israel's decision to halt West Bank settlement construction for 10 months was not only a gesture of goodwill meant to encourage the Palestinians to resume negotiations, but was extremely unpopular with many in Israel.
It was stated that the Palestinians never conditioned direct talks with a freeze of settlement construction.
The republicans said that a UN resolution regarding a Palestinian state would have a devastating effect on peace prospects. By turning to the UN the Palestinians are trying to avoid meeting their commitments and advancing negotiations with Israel, they said. "The US must not reward such behavior," the letter noted.
They also called Obama to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand from the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
We should live in a simple way for others to be able to live as well.
He who is richer is not who has more, but who needs less.
Zapotec saying, Oaxaca, Mexico
We suffer the severe effects of climate change, of the energy, food and financial crises. This is not the product of human beings in general, but of the existing inhuman capitalist system, with its unlimited industrial development. It is brought about by minority groups who control world power, concentrating wealth and power on themselves alone.
Concentrating capital in only a few hands is no solution for humanity, neither for life itself, because as a consequence many lives are lost in floods, by intervention or by wars, so many lives through hunger, poverty and usually curable diseases.
It brings selfishness, individualism, even regionalism, thirst for profit, the search for pleasure and luxury thinking only about profiting, never having regard to brotherhood among the human beings who live on planet Earth. This not only affects people, but also nature and the planet. And when the peoples organize themselves, or rise against oppression, those minority groups call for violence, weapons, and even military intervention from other countries.
Living Well, Not Better
Faced with so much disproportion and wealth concentration in the world, so many wars and famine, Bolivia proposes Living Well, not as a way to live better at the expense of others, but an idea of Living Well based on the experience of our peoples. In the words of the President of the Republic of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma, Living Well means living within a community, a brotherhood, and particularly completing each other, without exploiters or exploited, without people being excluded or people who exclude, without people being segregated or people who segregate.
Lying, stealing, destroying nature possibly will allow us to live better, but that is not Living Well. On the contrary, Living Well rather means complementing one another and not competing against each other, sharing, not taking advantage of one’s neighbor, living in harmony among people and with nature. It is the basis of the defense of nature, of life itself and of all humanity, it’s the basis to save humanity from the dangers of an individualistic and highly aggressive, racist and warmongering minority.
Living Well is not the same as living better, living better than others, because in order to live better than others, it is necessary to exploit, to embark upon serious competition, concentrating wealth in few hands. Trying to live better is selfish, and shows apathy, individualism. Some want to live better, whilst others, the majority, continue living poorly. Not taking an interest in other people’s lives, means caring only for the individual’s own life, at most in the life of their family.
As a different vision of life, Living Well is contrary to luxury, opulence and waste, it is contrary to consumerism. In some countries of the North, in big metropolitan cities, people buy clothes they throw away after wearing them only once. That lack of care for others results in oligarchies, nobility, aristocracy, elites who always seek to live better at other people’s expense.
Nobody says : I will only take care of myself
Within the framework of Living Well, what matters the most is not the individual. What matters the most is the community, where all the families live together. We form part of the community as the leaf forms part of the plant. Nobody says: I will just take care of myself; I don’t care about my community. It is as absurd as if the leaf said to the plant: I do not care about the community; I will only take care of myself. It is just as preposterous as if the leaf would tell the plant: I do not care about you, I will only take care of myself.
We are all valuable, we all have a space, duties, and responsibilities. We all need everybody else. Based on complementing each other, the common wealth, organized mutual support, the community and the community life develop their ability without destroying man and nature.
Work is happiness
Not working and exploiting our neighbors will possibly allow us to live better, but that is not Living Well. When one is living well, work is happiness. Work is learning to grow up, melting into the fascinating reproduction of life. It is an organic action such as breathing or walking. Within the Living Well framework, work is general, for everyone and everything, from a child to a grandfather. It’s for men, women and even nature itself. Among us, nobody lives to benefit from the work of others. Private accumulation is unknown and unnecessary. Community accumulation always fills the warehouse.
In our communities we do not seek, we do not want anyone to live better, as development programs tell us. Development is related to living better, and all the development programs implemented among different States and governments, starting from the church, have encouraged us to live better.
Development depends on an ever-increasing use of energy, primarily oil. We have been led to believe that development is the salvation of mankind and that it will help us to live better, but without oil there is no development. And for us, with or without oil, sustainable and unsustainable development means anti-development, which is the cause of major disparities in nature and between people.
Development can be a disaster
Consequently, Living Well is contrary to capitalist development and goes beyond socialism. For capitalism, what matters the most is money, making a profit. For socialism, what matters the most is the man, because socialism tries to meet the increasingly growing needs of man, both material and spiritual.
Within the Living Well framework, what matters the most is neither man nor money; what matters the most is life. But capitalism does not care about life, and the two development models, the capitalist and the socialist, need rapid economic growth, causing a dissipation of energy and an insatiable use of fossil fuels to boost growth.
Therefore, development has proved to be a failure, as evidenced by the crisis of nature and the severe effects of climate change. It is now the leading cause of global crisis and the destroyer of planet Earth, because of the exaggerated industrialization of some countries, addicted consumerism and irresponsible exploitation of human and natural resources.
The industrialization and consumerism of Western “civilization” threatens Mother Nature and the subsistence of the planet, to such a degree that it must not be spread to the whole of humanity, because natural resources are not enough for all of us nor renewable at the same pace in which they are being exhausted.
Living Well in the Global Crisis
The most important crises are:
> The exponential increase of human-induced climate change affecting all regions of Earth;
> The water crisis, where urbanization, industrialization and increased use of energy is lowering the level of groundwater resources;
> The crisis in food production by the impact of climate change and the increasing production of biofuels;
> The imminent end of the era of cheap energy (we are reaching the peak of oil production). In the lapse of 100 years we are finishing fossil energy created over millions of years, and this is bringing about dramatic changes in all the theories about the operation of society;
> The significant depletion of other key resources both for industrial production and for human welfare, including fresh water, genetic resources, forests, sea and wildlife, fertile soils, coral reefs, and most of the local, regional and global elements we have in common.
Unless they are reversed, this combination of dangerous tendencies may soon bring global environmental and social crises up to an unprecedented scale, and they may also cause the collapse of the most basic economic and operative structures of our society.
On the verge of catastrophic change
Climate chaos and global warming threaten the loss of much of the world’s most productive lands, physical upheavals in many places caused by storms and rising waters, desertification of many agricultural lands, and economic and social tragedy that will last for long in the future, with very severe problems for the most impoverished nations and peoples.
Without having found alternative sources of energy that can replace inexpensive oil and gas supplies in the amounts to which we have become accustomed to (and alarming new evidence regarding the limits of accessible coal), Peak Oil threatens the long term survival of industrial nations and industrialism itself, at its present scale. Long distance transportation, industrial food systems, complex urban and suburban systems, and many commodities basic to our present way of life —cars, plastics, chemicals, pesticides, refrigeration, etc— are all rooted in the basic assumption of an ever-increasing inexpensive energy supply.
Other scarce resources — fresh water, forests, agricultural land, biodiversity of many kinds, are dramatically decreasing in number due to the overuse of industrialized nations that every year surpass 30 percent of the resources that the Earth can regenerate, rendering the survival of humans and other species far more difficult than at any other time throughout the history of mankind. We also face the possible loss of 50% of the world’s plant and animal species over the next decades.
So the planet’s ecological, social and economic systems are on the verge of catastrophic change, and very few societies are prepared for this. Efforts by governments to respond to the impending emergency are thus far grossly inadequate. Efforts by corporations and industries to reform their behaviors remain largely enclosed by structural limits that require continued growth and profit above all other standards of performance.
Living Well Life to counteract against the Global Crisis
In this Global Crisis, all the problems have the same structural base, and can be faced using the same structural changes. The solution for each one is the solution for all. All the new models must begin by accepting there are fundamental limits to the capacity of the Earth to sustain us. Within those limits, societies must work to set new standards of universal economic sufficiency and a Living Well conception that does not depend on the excessive use of the planet’s resources.
The construction of a Living Well vision to counteract Global Crisis in this era of climate chaos and diminished resources in our finite planet, means ending consumerism, waste and luxury, consuming only what is necessary, achieving a global economic “power down” to levels of production, consumption and energy use that stay well within the environmental capacities of the Earth.
It also means stopping energy dissipation, i.e. bringing about a rapid withdrawal from all carbon-based energy systems, and rejecting large-scale so called “alternative” energy systems designed to prolong the industrial growth system. These include nuclear energy, “clean” coal, industrial scale biofuels, and the combustion of hazardous materials and municipal waste, among others.
Equally important is a dramatic increase in the practices of energy conservation and efficiency, i.e., powering down, decreasing the personal consumption in countries where it has been excessive, and reorienting the rules of economic activity — trade, investments, norms. It is also important to modify all of society’s main activities that are related to those norms (transport, manufacture, agriculture, energy, building design, etc). Our current dependence on export-oriented production, enormous amounts of long distance transportation, ever-expanding use of resources and global markets, cannot possibly be sustained in a finite planet.
Local production for local consumption
In order to adapt ourselves to the true reality of a post carbon era, we will have to satisfy our fundamental needs such as food, housing, energy, production, and means of support, from local systems and resources. This means encouraging regional and local self-sufficiency, sustainability and control; economic localization and community sovereignty, local production for local consumption, local ownership using local labor and materials.
Thus Living Well means redesigning urban and non-urban living environments, the restitution of the local, regional and national communal goods, and a quick transition towards renewable energy at a small scale, that must be oriented to the locality and also owned by the local community, without hampering the natural balance, and including wind, solar, small scale hydro and wave, local biofuels.
Living Well also means promoting an orderly reconstruction of the countryside and the revitalization of communities by way of an agrarian reform, education and application of eco-agricultural microfarming methods, based on our cultural and communal practices, the wealth of our communities, fertile land, clean water and air. All of these approaches are in preparation for the inevitable de-industrialization of agriculture, as cheap energy supply declines.
Furthermore, Living Well means reallocating the trillions of millions destined for war in order to heal Mother Earth who is injured by the environment issue.
Less will be more
Our Living Well proposal emphasizes on harmony between humans and with nature, and the preservation of “natural capital” as primary concerns. It is well known that the protection and preservation of balance in the natural world, including all its living beings, is a primary goal and need of our proposal, and that mother nature has inherent rights to exist on the Earth in an undiminished healthy condition.
Living Well also means unplugging the TV and internet and connecting with the community. It means having four more hours a day to spend with family, friends and in our community, i.e., the four hours that the average person spends watching TV filled with messages about stuff we should buy. Spending time in fraternal community activities strengthens the community and makes it a source of social and logistical support, a source of greater security and happiness.
For societies that now accept the images of “the good life” widely promoted in the media, this “good life” is based on hyper consumption of commodities, the new strategies to use less resources, to accumulate less, and to be ruled by modest standards of living also become arguments for greater personal fulfillment. Driving less and walking more is good for the climate, the planet, and our health. Buying less means less pollution, less waste, less time working to invest in shopping. Less stress, more time for the family, friends, nature, creativity, recreation and leisure which are activities on which people spend little time nowadays.
Among presently over-consuming societies, less really will be more. Basic compliance with Living Well conditions include sufficient food, shelter, clothing; good health and the values of strong community engagement; family security; meaningful lives; and the clear presence and easy access to a thriving natural world.
We are part of Mother Nature
In this context, Living Well means living a sovereign and communal life in harmony with nature, where we can work together for our families and for society, sharing, singing, dancing, producing for the community. It means living a modest life that reduces our consumption addiction and maintains a balanced production.
Rather than eroding the Earth, depredating nature and within 30 or 50 years ending with gas, oil, iron, tin, lithium and all other non-renewable natural resources required for a living better, Living Well guarantees life for our children, for the sons and daughters of our children and for those that will come after them, saving the planet using our rock, our quinoa, potatoes and cassava, our beans, broad beans and corn, our mahogany, coconut and coca.
In the construction of Living Well, our economic and spiritual wealth is tied directly to a high regard for Mother Earth and a respectful use of the wealth that she gives us. The only alternative for the world in this Global Crisis, the only solution to the crisis of nature, is that human beings acknowledge that we are part of Mother Nature, that we need to restore the complementary relationships, the mutual respect and harmony with her.
Boosting community energy with creativity and collective action
For this new experience of facing global crisis, for this new experience of Living Well to be successful, it will be necessary to boost local and international actions. We should follow the example of the millions of people on this Earth who are not waiting for official recognition of the global crisis, we should follow the example of the uncountable numbers of people and communities across the planet who, with creativity, enthusiasm and joint action are already actively trying to create or update a great variety of alternative practices at local, community and regional levels, in both rural and urban contexts.
Out of our own initiatives in our communities and also with help from governments that boost Living Well, with a broad unity of forces and social movements, we have to wake up community energy, boost community energy in our communities, which is the main capacity we’ve got to transform society and build a Living Well vision. We have to follow the example of these people and communities, starting to rebuild our communities and nations OURSELVES, with our own hands, our own hearts and our own brains, starting to take responsibility for the building of a Living Well Life for all within the limits of nature. We cannot rely only on governments and international movements to solve our problems.
Out of our own initiatives in our communities and also with help from our governments, let us begin to regain our ancestors’ harmonious living, strengthen our own way of life, the identity and spirituality in our communities. Let us begin to organize our productive and community life in the countryside and in our neighborhoods, making education work, as well as communication and health, let us build our schools and roads, resolve between all of us our internal relations and the issues of land and territory, water, forests, and so on.
Let us build a Living Well vision and the sovereignty of our communities within the balance between man and nature, where we can rebuild our bonds, respecting everyone’s right to consultation when making our own decisions, where we can freely determine our own aims, our forms of organization, the joint planning of our communities, the designation of our authorities, all based on the knowledge we have of ourselves and with full awareness of the responsibility that this entails.
To start powering down, we can reduce significantly our energy use: driving less, flying less, turning off the lights, buying local seasonal food (food takes energy to grow, package, store and transport), wearing a jumper instead of turning on the radiator, use a clothesline instead of a dryer, going on holiday closer to home, buying second hand things or borrowing them before buying new ones, recycling.
We can also nurture a Zero Waste culture at home, within our school, workplace, church, community. This means developing new habits, such as using both sides of the paper, carrying with us our own mugs and shopping bags, making compost out of food leftovers, avoiding bottled water and other over packaged products, repairing and mending rather than replacing…
Our own health, learning and communication
Out of our own initiatives in our communities and also with help from governments that boost a Living Well vision, let us start to run our own health system taking after the ways that have always kept us healthy, where the health of the community is as important as that of our own body and where abundant healthy food free of chemicals is our medicine. Faced with the growth of increasingly manipulated consumption, let us rebuild the healthy domestic food production. Let us prevent diseases instead of looking for drugs to cure them, and let us use our own natural medicine which will not cure a disease by creating another.
Let us start to run our own education, or rather our own communication, learning in the way that we have always taught our children in our communities as part of the community practices and responsibilities, i.e. through community learning, through which we create communal energy and learn through daily work, within the social school that would be the community, where we learn that we cannot live outside of communal life. Rather than education, let us re-establish our own communication; strengthen the real communication between father and son, between students and teachers.
Let us protect our own seeds
Let us defend the women, traditional defenders of the seeds and food safety, custodians of natural variety and of local and quality food for our families, whose life revolves around fertility, child care, countryside, seeds, the care of water, trees and other resources, and whose farming practices in the communities are part of communal life in harmony with nature.
We do not solve world hunger with Terminator seeds from agricultural business, but bringing back and protecting our rich ancestral seeds, storing them and fighting against their usurpation by large transnational corporations that defend themselves through intellectual property, patents and the use of transgenic seeds having as an excuse productivity increase.
Let us protect the life of indigenous country communities, which allows the cycle of seed and inputs to be closed within the very same communities, freeing us from the need to import them. Let’s practice a small-scale production, which will protect natural resources for the present and future generations, and give us all healthy and varied food.
Let us build a Living Well vision, retaking our own appropriate technologies, which are not expensive and can be managed through community administration, monitoring and control, using our own funds from our own savings banks or credit unions. We can do our own self-training, which can mature if we bring together researchers and professionals who have a vision of sympathy, support and respect for reorganization processes of the communities and the peoples.
To strengthen all our procedures…
Living Well means giving back fertility to the planet, now in the hands of sterile corporations, reforesting the world, living a modest life close to soil in communities or small family farms, which are those that have preserved the trees and the harmonic variety of species, that have more water at their disposal and survive better.
Waking up the ethical and moral values of our peoples and cultures, we can make this new millennium, a millennium of life and not of war, a millennium for Living Well, for balance and complementarity. Together we can build a culture of patience, the culture of dialogue and fundamentally the Culture of Life, a way of life that is not dependent on excessive consumption of non-renewable energy that emit greenhouse gases but is based on the harmonious relationship between man and nature.
In order to strengthen all the procedures that may lead us to Living Well, we encourage a broad discussion and debate regarding this proposal, so we can find a common approach that will lead to a fundamental change in the way societies operate, and how we live, as communities, families and individuals.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Every government around the world is obliged to respect the right to life of any nation and all the peoples of the planet.
Today, there is an imminent risk of war using that kind of weapon and I do not harbor the slightest doubt that an attack by the United States and Israel on the Islamic Republic of Iran would inevitably turn into a global nuclear conflict.
The peoples have the duty to demand of political leaders their right to live. When the lives of their species, their people and their loved ones are in such danger, no one can afford the luxury of remaining indifferent nor of wasting one minute of time in demanding respect for that right; tomorrow will be too late.
Albert Einstein himself is quoted as saying: ""I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." We know what he wanted to say and he was absolutely right, except that they will be no one left to brandish the sticks and stones.
There would be collateral damage, as U.S. political and military leaders always affirm in order to justify the deaths of innocent people.
In a nuclear war, the collateral damage will be the human race itself.
Let us have the valor to proclaim that all nuclear and conventional weapons, everything that is used to wage war, must cease to exist!
Fidel Castro Ruz
October 15, 2010
Here is a Paradox, if you like such things: America is a Nation of Semi-Literate Buffoons, but America is also a Nation of Over-Educated (but still dumb) service workers. What? “In all, about 17 million people in this country have completed college only to end up working jobs that require a skill level below that of a bachelors degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” That includes 5,057 janitors with Ph.Ds. What is so wrong with being a “maintenance engineer,” we ask? At least it’s a job, right? There’s nothing wrong with it at all, it’s just that you don’t really need eight years of college and a hundred grand in student loan debt to mop up shit and blood in the emergency room, at night.
Richard Vedder of the Chronicle of Higher Education argues that this is one sign the U.S. has over-invested in higher education. He points to a new National Bureau of Economic Research report written by three acclaimed economists, which concludes, “In general, marginal and average returns to college are not the same.” In layman’s terms, that means that even if our investment in higher education is yielding a decent return on average, efforts to build on that investment might yield a less-good return. Or, even more simply put, there is a point of diminishing returns in higher education. And, according to these indicators at least, we appear to have reached it.
Yes and no. America remains pathetically short on graduates with useful advanced degrees, the kind of people who have marketable knowledge and skill sets, such as computer engineers and scientists — the kind of people Google and Apple and Microsoft have to import from India and China.
But the vague, pointless liberal arts degree and its more expensive but equally worthless cousin — the doctorate degree in such mushy “disciplines” as education, physical education or social work — we’ve obviously got way too many people holding those pricey pieces of paper. Anyone who needs seven years of university to master P.E. is a moron.
Still, going to college is better for America than having its bored, unemployed youth join crime gangs or religious cults. That’s why, presumably, the Obama Administration is pushing more than 40 federal programs to expand the number of college graduates in all sorts of useless fields.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Vive La Resistance!
Thank God for France. While American liberals tremble at the idea of sending an angry e mail to congress for fear that their name will appear on the State Department's list of terrorists, French workers are on the front lines choking on tear gas and fending off billyclubs in hand-to-hand combat with Sarkozy's Gendarmerie. That's because the French haven't forgotten their class roots. When the government gets too big for its britches, people pour out onto to the streets and Paris becomes a warzone replete with overturned Mercedes Benzs, smashed storefront windows, and stacks of smoldering tires issuing pillars of black smoke. This is what democracy looks like when it hasn't been emasculated by decades of propaganda and consumerism. Here's a blurp from the trenches:
"French Energy Sector Crippled by Nationwide Strike... French energy facilities are close to total disruption in the wake of nationwide strike against the raise of the retirement age.....France has been hit by numerous protests across the country against a controversial pension reform that would rise the retirement age to 62 from 60....On October 22 morning 80 protesters blockaded Grandpuits oil refinery outside Paris, key supplier for Charles de Gaulle and Orly international airport." (The Financial)
Shut 'em down.
Take note, Tea Party crybabies who moan about restoring "our freedoms" while stuffing the backyard bunker with seed corn and ammo. Glenn Beck won't save you from the "mean old" gov'mint. Liberty isn't free anymore. If you want it, get out of the barko-lounger and organize. The amount of freedom that any nation enjoys is directly proportionate to the amount of blood its people spilled fighting the state. No more, no less. The man who is willing to accept the blunt force of a cop's truncheon on his back is infinitely more praiseworthy than the leftist/rightist scribe crooning from the bleachers. The state isn't moved by lyrical editorials or prosaic manifestos. It responds to force alone, which is why it takes people who are willing to "throw themselves on the gears" of the apparatus and stop it from moving forward. Unfortunately, most of those people appear to live in France.
The resistance is steadily building in France. The budding rebellion is cropping up everywhere---"secondary schools, train stations, refineries and highways have been blockaded, there have been occupations of public buildings, workplaces, commercial centers, directed cuts of electricity, and ransacking of electoral institutions and town halls..." And the big unions are calling for more strikes, more agitation, more ferment.
For more than a week, transportation has been blocked across the France due to the protests by students and workers. Sarkozy's popularity has plummeted. 65% of people surveyed don't like the way the French president is handling the strikes. 79% of the people would like to see Sarkozy negotiate with the Union on terms and conditions, but he won't budge. Thus, the cauldron continues to boil while the prospect of violence rises.
"STRIKE, BLOCKADE, SABOTAGE"
This is from an anonymous striker:
"In each city, these actions are intensifying the power struggle and demonstrate that many are no longer satisfied with the order imposed by the union leadership. In the Paris region, amongst the blockades of train stations and secondary schools, the strikes in the primary schools, the workers pickets in front of the factories, people create inter-professional meetings and collectives of struggle are founded to destroy categorical isolation and separation. Their starting point: self-organization to meet the need to take ownership over our struggles without the mediation of those who claim to speak for workers.
We decided Saturday to occupy the Opera Bastille. This was to disturb a presentation that was live on radio, to play the trouble makers in a place where the cultural merchandise circulates and to organize an assembly there. So we met with more than a thousand people at the “place de la nation”, with banners stating “the bosses understand only one language: Strike, blockade, sabotage." (end of communique)
The action was met with predictable police violence and mass arrests.
The pension turmoil is not limited to France either. US pension funds are underfunded by nearly $3 trillion. Will US workers be as willing as their French counterparts to face the beatings (to defend "what's theirs") or will they throw up their hands and appeal to Obama for help?
There's no question that Washington elites have joined with Wall Street to offload the massive debts from the financial meltdown onto workers and retirees. Nor is their any doubt that they will invoke (what Slavoj Zizek calls) a "permanent state of economic emergency" to justify their actions. That will allow them to move ahead with so-called "austerity measures" that are designed to impoverish workers and strip popular government programs of their funding. The trend towards "belt-tightening" merely masks the ongoing class war which is aimed at restoring a feudal system of royalty and serfs.
This is from an article by economist Mark Weisbrot:
"If the French want to keep the retirement age as is, there are plenty of ways to finance future pension costs without necessarily raising the retirement age. One of them, which has support among the French left – and which Sarkozy claims to support at the international level -- would be a tax on financial transactions. Such a “speculation tax” could raise billions of dollars of revenue – as it currently does in the U.K. – while simultaneously discouraging speculative trading in financial assets and derivatives. The French unions and protesters are demanding that the government consider some of these more progressive alternatives."
But the retirement age is not really the issue at all. This is about union busting and "putting people in their place." It's about "who will call-the-shots" and in whose interests will society be run.
The French are fighting back against this "oligarchy of racketeers" and the ripoff system they represent, while, namby-pamby Americans are neutralized by signing their umpteenth petition or venting their spleen at a Palin rally.
Vive la France. Vive la Résistance.
Friday, October 22, 2010
The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 'civilians'; 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the 'Afghan War Diaries', previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivallent population size.
The text and video here is from http://Wikileaks.org. There is more, much more there.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Gaza Siege Broken
Viva Palestina Convoy Breaks Siege And Enters Gaza To Jubilant Crowds
Thursday 21st October 2010
The Viva Palestina convoy of almost 150 vehicles, 370 people from 30 different countries and $5 million of aid has entered Gaza.
Amidst scenes of jubilation from thousands of Palestinians there to greet the convoy, Kevin Ovenden, the convoy director, expressed his joy at being in Gaza once again. "We have driven more than 3,000 miles to bring this essential aid and to break this illegal siege of Gaza. We have been joined by supporters from Morocco and Algeria and from the Gulf States and Jordan, to make this the biggest convoy ever to break the siege of Gaza. We are absolutely overjoyed to be here and to bring with us the soil from the graves of those who were massacred on the Mavi Marmara which will be used to plant trees as a memorial to their sacrifice."
The convoy set out four weeks and five days ago from London. It travelled through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Syria. Everywhere the reception was fantastic and the generosity of well-wishers unsurpassed. Towards the end there was a frustrating delay in Syria whilst negotiations at the highest levels were conducted with the Egyptian authorities. In the end it was all worth it as the Egyptian authorities decided to allow passage of the whole convoy, sadly excluding just 17 members of the convoy including George Galloway.
The convoy will be handed over in its entirety to the relevant bodies tomorrow and the members of the convoy then expect to leave Gaza and return home in the next 48 hours after celebrations and formal thanks are given.
The Jerusalem Post
TEHERAN, Iran — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Iranian counterpart declared Wednesday they are united in efforts to establish a "new world order" and warned their enemies would be relegated to the "graveyard."
The rhetoric wrapped up Chavez's two-day visit to Iran meant to boost cooperation between the allies in their oil, gas and petrochemical industries.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said their countries are "united in efforts to establish a new world order" that will eliminate Western dominance over global affairs.
Chavez said any efforts to stop Iran's and Venezuela's progress would fail, and he denounced US "imperialism" saying it is headed for "the graveyard."
The two presidents spoke on Iranian state TV as officials from both countries signed 11 trade agreements on Wednesday.
Friday, October 15, 2010
WASHINGTON — Around half of US teens meet the criteria for a mental disorder and nearly one in four report having a mood, behavior or anxiety disorder that interferes with daily life, American researchers say.
Fifty-one percent of boys and 49 percent of girls aged 13-19 have a mood, behavior, anxiety or substance use disorder, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
In 22.2 percent of teens, the disorder was so severe it impaired their daily activities and caused great distress, says the study led by Kathleen Merikangas of the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH).
"The prevalence of severe emotional and behavior disorders is even higher than the most frequent major physical conditions in adolescence, including asthma or diabetes," the study says.
Mental problems do not get the same attention from public health authorities even though they cost US families around a quarter of a trillion dollars a year, according to the study
Around nine percent of all US children have asthma and less than a quarter of one percent of all people under the age of 20 have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Merikangas and a team of researchers analyzed data from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement, which surveyed more than 10,000 US teens.
The study is the first to track the prevalence of a broad range of mental disorders in a nationally representative sample of US teens.
They found that nearly a third of the teens met the criteria for the most common mental disorder among US youth, anxiety disorders, which include social phobia and panic "attacks".
This class of disorder also had the earliest median onset age, occurring in children as young as six years old.
Behavior disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, were the next most common condition (19.1 percent), followed by mood disorders (14.3 percent) such as depression.
Eleven percent of teens with a mood disorder, 10 percent with behavior disorders and eight percent who had anxiety disorders, especially social phobics, met the criteria for severe impairment, meaning their condition affected their day-to-day life and caused them great distress.
Teen mental disorder rates mirror those seen in adults, suggesting that most adults develop a mental disorder before adulthood, say the researchers, calling for earlier intervention and prevention, and more research to determine what the risk factors are for mental disorders in youth.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Collapsing Empire Watch
By Glenn Greenwald
October 12, 2010
It's easy to say and easy to document, but quite difficult to really internalize, that the United States is in the process of imperial collapse. Every now and then, however, one encounters certain facts which compellingly and viscerally highlight how real that is. Here's the latest such fact, from a new study in Health Affairs by Columbia Health Policy Professors Peter A. Muennig and Sherry A. Glied (h/t):
In 1950, the United States was fifth among the leading industrialized nations with respect to female life expectancy at birth, surpassed only by Sweden, Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands. The last available measure of female life expectancy had the United States ranked at forty-sixth in the world. As of September 23, 2010, the United States ranked forty-ninth for both male and female life expectancy combined.
Just to underscore the rapidity of the decline, as recently as 1999, the U.S. was ranked by the World Health Organization as 24th in life expectancy. It's now 49th. There are other similarly potent indicators. In 2009, the National Center for Health Statistics ranked the U.S. in 30th place in global infant mortality rates. Out of 20 "rich countries" measured by UNICEF, the U.S. ranks 19th in "child well-being." Out of 33 nations measured by the OECD, the U.S. ranks 27th for student math literacy and 22nd for student science literacy. In 2009, the World Economic Forum ranked 133 nations in terms of "soundness" of their banks, and the U.S. was ranked in 108th place, just behind Tanzania and just ahead of Venezuela.
There is, however, some good news: the U.S. is now in fifth place in total number of executions, behind only China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and comfortably ahead of Yemen and Sudan, while there are two categories in which the U.S. has been and remains the undisputed champion of the world -- this one and this one. And, of course, the U.S. is not just objectively the greatest country on the planet, but the greatest country ever to exist in all of human history -- as Dave Roberts put it in response to these life expectancy numbers: "but we're No. 1 in bestness!" -- so we're every bit as exceptional as ever.
Global Banking Cartel
The Public Record
Sep 26th, 2010
Road To World War III Click here for full article
When we analyze our current crisis, focusing on the past few years of economic activity blinds us to the history and context that are vital to understanding the root cause. What we have been experiencing is not the result of an unforeseen economic crash that appeared out of the blue with the collapse of the housing market. It was certainly not brought on by people who bought homes they couldn’t afford. To frame this crisis around a debate on economic theory misses the point entirely. To even blame it on greedy bankers, while essentially accurate, also misses the most vital point.
This crisis is the direct result of a strategic economic attack on the existence of a middle class and democracy worldwide. The stock market and economy have become weapons of mass oppression manipulated by an imperial banking cartel to impose order and exploit the masses. This crisis boldly represents the manifest evolution of the fascist spirit reasserting itself as the dominant ideology.
Any fairytale notions of the United States being a democratic republic built on the rule of law have been utterly dispelled. As a nation we have been bred and conditioned to be dangerously naïve to the darker forces which operate beyond the spotlight of the mainstream media. We have been blinded to what has been developing throughout the world.
The economic imperialism that has now blown-back to the United States and Europe has been evolving for decades and can be directly traced back to the end of World War II, to the birth of the CIA, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.
For those of us who have been paying attention to economic imperial operations that have been carried out against countries throughout the world, this looks all too familiar. The IMF and global bankers have conquered the second and third world, and they have now moved on to countries within the first world. Western European and American working classes are in the cross-hairs now.
Economic and societal indicators, along with recent G-20 policy decisions, clearly demonstrate that they are carrying out and escalating systemic economic attacks throughout Europe and the US.
To put it in technical terms, the United States government has been taken over by a financial terrorism network. They have bought off leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties, and have established a dominant role in all three branches of government and throughout the mainstream media. They have complete control of the economy, stock market, US Treasury, Federal Reserve, World Bank, IMF and global banking system. Free market capitalism has collapsed; it’s now a rigged global market. This is an organized criminal operation, an imperial fascist movement that is determined to destroy our very way of life.
A war has already been launched against us.
In just the past three years we have lost an unprecedented amount of national wealth, trillions upon trillions of our tax dollars have been looted by Wall Street, endless wars, enormous subsidies for the most profitable global corporations and tax cuts for the richest one percent of the population. Never before, in the history of civilization, has a nation been so thoroughly and systematically fleeced.
This is all the result of a coordinated economic attack by a global banking cartel against 99 percent of the US population.
Until we can become politically intelligent enough to see this as the reality and root cause of our current crisis, we will not be able to overcome it, our living standards will continue to decline and we will all be sentenced to a slow death in a neo-feudal system built on debt slavery.
The average American is horribly naïve to just how depraved, corrupt and addicted to power this banking cartel is. Through their control and domination of the mass media, they have kept their crimes against humanity out of public consciousness. We have been shielded from the global devastation and death toll that they have already wrought. The result is an unsuspecting population of confused and passive people having their future ripped out from under them, right before their eyes, without any organized defense or resistance.
II: Violence on the Horizon
As the entrenched global banking cartel continues to control domestic political policy, the next phase of this crisis will inevitably feature an escalation into mass violence. As the Army War College stated, the Pentagon is preparing for “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States” and “widespread civil violence” due to “purposeful domestic resistance.”
In clear signs of what is to come, rioting and violence as a result of economic turmoil has already been experienced in many countries throughout the world. However, civil unrest has not yet occurred within the United States. There are many theories as to why there has been so little resistance from the US population thus far, and several factors play into it. The most significant factor is that social safety net programs have been vital in preventing people from resorting to extreme measures. Currently, a stunning number of Americans, 52 million, are receiving life-sustaining assistance from government “anti-poverty” programs, such as food stamps, unemployment benefits, Medicaid and Medicare. This has already stretched a social safety net system that is designed to handle significantly less people to its limit. This safety net system has now been drained of all reserve resources over the past two years, and is obviously not sustainable under current economic and political conditions.
As social safety net programs have been drained of reserves, many US citizens have also been burning through their personal savings. Over the past few years the percentage of Americans living paycheck to paycheck has dramatically increased. In 2007, 43 percent of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck. In 2008, the percentage increased to 49 percent. In 2009, the number skyrocketed up to 61 percent. The most recent number for 2010 has exploded to a shocking 77 percent. This means in our nation of 310 million citizens, 239 million Americans are one setback away from economic ruin and millions more are in danger of having to rely on government assistance for survival.
So as this prolonged economic crisis continues, these safety nets, that are already overwhelmed, will have to support more and more people and will inevitably break down. As we have just begun to see, budget cuts to vital social programs on the state and federal levels will become increasingly severe right at the point when many more Americans will need them. As the 52 million Americans currently surviving in “anti-poverty” programs are gradually cutoff from life-sustaining government assistance – and as the 239 million people now living paycheck to paycheck, buried in debt, stressing out and working their asses off just to make ends meet realize that things are not going to be getting any better — and are only going to get worse — social unrest and outbursts of violence will eventually start to bubble up to the surface and the ruling elite will no longer be able to maintain power by simply deceiving the masses via mainstream media propaganda.
When an overwhelming majority of the population directly feels negative effects upon their own living standards, the propaganda system collapses. The illusion comes crashing down and people will finally start to get wise to the horrific scam that is being played on them. When they wake from their media-induced American dream state and realize that they are now living in a nightmare, as crazy as it may sound, people will actually stop voting against their own interests. The apathetic majority, that doesn’t vote, will become active in the interests of self-preservation as their survival instincts kick in.
The handwriting is on the wall and the ruling class has to realize that by the time 2012 rolls around, their puppet politicians will be voted out of office, or their heads will roll, quite literally.
Looking at this from a purely technocratic sociological viewpoint, avoiding mass riots and violence while this many desperate people lose life-sustaining programs appears to be an impossible task, and given our current economic and political environment this seems inevitable.
Road To World War III Click here for full article
III: The IMF Riot, Step 3.5
IV: Bang the Drums of War
V:The Chinese Scapegoat: Trade & Currency Wars
VI: Moves Upon the Grand Chessboard
VII: Resource Wars
VIII: Private Military Complex
IX: History Repeats Itself
Monday, October 11, 2010
No SurpriseTo Many
Many Americans view their country and its soldiers as the "good guys" spreading "democracy" and "liberty" around the world. When the United States inflicts unnecessary death and destruction, it's viewed as a mistake or an aberration.
In the following article Peter Dale Scott and Robert Parry examine the long history of these acts of brutality, a record that suggests they are neither a "mistake" nor an "aberration" but rather conscious counterinsurgency doctrine on the "dark side."
There is a dark -- seldom acknowledged -- thread that runs through U.S. military doctrine, dating back to the early days of the Republic.
This military tradition has explicitly defended the selective use of terror, whether in suppressing Native American resistance on the frontiers in the 19th Century or in protecting U.S. interests abroad in the 20th Century or fighting the "war on terror" over the last decade.
The American people are largely oblivious to this hidden tradition because most of the literature advocating state-sponsored terror is carefully confined to national security circles and rarely spills out into the public debate, which is instead dominated by feel-good messages about well-intentioned U.S. interventions abroad.
Over the decades, congressional and journalistic investigations have exposed some of these abuses. But when that does happen, the cases are usually deemed anomalies or excesses by out-of-control soldiers.
But the historical record shows that terror tactics have long been a dark side of U.S. military doctrine. The theories survive today in textbooks on counterinsurgency warfare, "low-intensity" conflict and "counter-terrorism."
Some historians trace the formal acceptance of those brutal tenets to the 1860s when the U.S. Army was facing challenge from a rebellious South and resistance from Native Americans in the West. Out of those crises emerged the modern military concept of "total war" -- which considers attacks on civilians and their economic infrastructure an integral part of a victorious strategy.
In 1864, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman cut a swath of destruction through civilian territory in Georgia and the Carolinas. His plan was to destroy the South's will to fight and its ability to sustain a large army in the field. The devastation left plantations in flames and brought widespread Confederate complaints of rape and murder of civilians.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, Col. John M. Chivington and the Third Colorado Cavalry were employing their own terror tactics to pacify Cheyennes. A scout named John Smith later described the attack at Sand Creek, Colorado, on unsuspecting Indians at a peaceful encampment:
"They were scalped; their brains knocked out; the men used their knives, ripped open women, clubbed little children, knocked them in the head with their guns, beat their brains out, mutilated their bodies in every sense of the word." [U.S. Cong., Senate, 39 Cong., 2nd Sess., "The Chivington Massacre," Reports of the Committees.]
Though Smith's objectivity was challenged at the time, today even defenders of the Sand Creek raid concede that most women and children there were killed and mutilated. [See Lt. Col. William R. Dunn, I Stand by Sand Creek.]
Yet, in the 1860s, many whites in Colorado saw the slaughter as the only realistic way to bring peace, just as Sherman viewed his "march to the sea" as necessary to force the South's surrender.
The brutal tactics in the West also helped clear the way for the transcontinental railroad, built fortunes for favored businessmen and consolidated Republican political power for more than six decades, until the Great Depression of the 1930s. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Indian Genocide and Republican Power."]
Four years after the Civil War, Sherman became commanding general of the Army and incorporated the Indian pacification strategies -- as well as his own tactics -- into U.S. military doctrine. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, who had led Indian wars in the Missouri territory, succeeded Sherman in 1883 and further entrenched those strategies as policy. [See Ward Churchill, A Little Matter of Genocide.]
By the end of the 19th Century, the Native American warriors had been vanquished, but the Army's winning strategies lived on.
When the United States claimed the Philippines as a prize in the Spanish-American War, Filipino insurgents resisted. In 1900, the U.S. commander, Gen. J. Franklin Bell, consciously modeled his brutal counterinsurgency campaign after the Indian wars and Sherman's "march to the sea."
Bell believed that by punishing the wealthier Filipinos through destruction of their homes -- much as Sherman had done in the South -- they would be coerced into helping convince their countrymen to submit.
Learning from the Indian wars, he also isolated the guerrillas by forcing Filipinos into tightly controlled zones where schools were built and other social amenities were provided.
"The entire population outside of the major cities in Batangas was herded into concentration camps," wrote historian Stuart Creighton Miller. "Bell's main target was the wealthier and better-educated classes. … Adding insult to injury, Bell made these people carry the petrol used to burn their own country homes." [See Miller's "Benevolent Assimilation."]
For those outside the protected areas, there was terror. A supportive news correspondent described one scene in which American soldiers killed "men, women, children … from lads of 10 and up, an idea prevailing that the Filipino, as such, was little better than a dog. …
"Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to 'make them talk,' have taken prisoner people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show they were even insurrectos, stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to drop into the water below and float down as an example to those who found their bullet-riddled corpses."
Defending the tactics, the correspondent noted that "it is not civilized warfare, but we are not dealing with a civilized people. The only thing they know and fear is force, violence, and brutality." [Philadelphia Ledger, Nov. 19, 1900]
In 1901, anti-imperialists in Congress exposed and denounced Bell's brutal tactics. Nevertheless, Bell's strategies won military acclaim as a refined method of pacification.
In a 1973 book, one pro-Bell military historian, John Morgan Gates, termed reports of U.S. atrocities "exaggerated" and hailed Bell's "excellent understanding of the role of benevolence in pacification."
Gates recalled that Bell's campaign in Batanga was regarded by military strategists as "pacification in its most perfected form." [See Gates's Schoolbooks and Krags: The United States Army in the Philippines, 1898-1902.]
Spreading the Word
At the turn of the century, the methodology of pacification was a hot topic among the European colonial powers, too. From Namibia to Indochina, Europeans struggled to subdue local populations.
Often outright slaughter proved effective, as the Germans demonstrated with massacres of the Herrero tribe in Namibia from 1904-1907. But military strategists often compared notes about more subtle techniques of targeted terror mixed with demonstrations of benevolence.
Counterinsurgency strategies were back in vogue after World War II as many subjugated people demanded independence from colonial rule and Washington worried about the expansion of communism. In the 1950s, the Huk rebellion against U.S. dominance made the Philippines again the laboratory, with Bell's earlier lessons clearly remembered.
"The campaign against the Huk movement in the Philippines … greatly resembled the American campaign of almost 50 years earlier," historian Gates observed. "The American approach to the problem of pacification had been a studied one."
But the war against the Huks had some new wrinkles, particularly the modern concept of psychological warfare or psy-war.
Under the pioneering strategies of the CIA's Maj. Gen. Edward G. Lansdale, psy-war was a new spin to the old game of breaking the will of a target population. The idea was to analyze the psychological weaknesses of a people and develop "themes" that could induce actions favorable to those carrying out the operation.
While psy-war included propaganda and disinformation, it also relied on terror tactics of a demonstrative nature. An Army psy-war pamphlet, drawing on Lansdale's experience in the Philippines, advocated "exemplary criminal violence -- the murder and mutilation of captives and the display of their bodies," according to Michael McClintock's Instruments of Statecraft.
In his memoirs, Lansdale boasted of one legendary psy-war trick used against the Huks who were considered superstitious and fearful of a vampire-like creature called an asuang.
"The psy-war squad set up an ambush along a trail used by the Huks," Lansdale wrote. "When a Huk patrol came along the trail, the ambushers silently snatched the last man on the patrol, their move unseen in the dark night. They punctured his neck with two holes, vampire-fashion, held the body up by the heels, drained it of blood, and put the corpse back on the trail.
"When the Huks returned to look for the missing man and found their bloodless comrade, every member of the patrol believed the asuang had got him." [See Lansdale's In the Midst of Wars.]
The Huk rebellion also saw the refinement of free-fire zones, a technique used effectively by Bell's forces a half-century earlier. In the 1950s, special squadrons were assigned to do the dirty work.
"The special tactic of these squadrons was to cordon off areas; anyone they caught inside the cordon was considered an enemy," explained one pro-U.S. Filipino colonel. "Almost daily you could find bodies floating in the river, many of them victims of [Major Napoleon] Valeriano's Nenita Unit. [See Benedict J. Kerkvliet, The Huk Rebellion: A Study of Peasant Revolt in the Philippines.]
On to Vietnam
The successful suppression of the Huks led the war's architects to share their lessons elsewhere in Asia and beyond. Valeriano went on to co-author an important American textbook on counterinsurgency and to serve as part of the American pacification effort in Vietnam with Lansdale.
Following the Philippine model, Vietnamese were crowded into "strategic hamlets"; "free-fire zones" were declared with homes and crops destroyed; and the Phoenix program eliminated thousands of suspected Viet Cong cadre.
The ruthless strategies were absorbed and accepted even by widely respected military figures, such as Gen. Colin Powell who served two tours in Vietnam and endorsed the routine practice of murdering Vietnamese males as a necessary part of the counterinsurgency effort.
"I recall a phrase we used in the field, MAM, for military-age male," Powell wrote in his much-lauded memoir, My American Journey. "If a helo [a U.S. helicopter] spotted a peasant in black pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM, the pilot would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him.
"Brutal? Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom I had served at Gelnhausen [West Germany], Lt. Col. Walter Pritchard, was killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter. And Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong."
In 1965, the U.S. intelligence community formalized its hard-learned counterinsurgency lessons by commissioning a top-secret program called Project X. Based at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Holabird, Maryland, the project drew from field experience and developed teaching plans to "provide intelligence training to friendly foreign countries," according to a Pentagon history prepared in 1991 and released in 1997.
Called "a guide for the conduct of clandestine operations," Project X "was first used by the U.S. Intelligence School on Okinawa to train Vietnamese and, presumably, other foreign nationals," the history stated.
Linda Matthews of the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Division recalled that in 1967-68, some of the Project X training material was prepared by officers connected to the Phoenix program. "She suggested the possibility that some offending material from the Phoenix program may have found its way into the Project X materials at that time," the Pentagon report said.
In the 1970s, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School moved to Fort Huachuca in Arizona and began exporting Project X material to U.S. military assistance groups working with "friendly foreign countries." By the mid-1970s, the Project X material was going to armies all over the world.
In its 1992 review, the Pentagon acknowledged that Project X was the source for some of the "objectionable" lessons at the School of the Americas where Latin American officers were trained in blackmail, kidnapping, murder and spying on non-violent political opponents.
But disclosure of the full story was blocked near the end of the first Bush administration when senior Pentagon officials working for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney ordered the destruction of most Project X records. [See Robert Parry's Lost History.]
By the mid-1960s, some of the U.S. counterinsurgency lessons had reached Indonesia, too. The U.S. military training was surreptitious because Washington viewed the country's neutralist leader Sukarno as politically suspect. The training was permitted only to give the United States influence within the Indonesian military which was considered more reliable.
The covert U.S. aid and training was mostly innocuous-sounding "civic action," which is generally thought to mean building roads, staffing health clinics and performing other "hearts-and-minds" activities with civilians. But "civic action" also provided cover in Indonesia, as in the Philippines and Vietnam, for psy-war.
The secret U.S.-Indonesian military connections paid off for Washington when a political crisis erupted, threatening Sukarno's government.
To counter Indonesia's powerful Communist Party, known as the PKI, the army's Red Berets organized the slaughter of tens of thousands of men, women and children. So many bodies were dumped into the rivers of East Java that they ran red with blood.
In a classic psy-war tactic, the bloated carcasses also served as a political warning to villages down river.
"To make sure they didn't sink, the carcasses were deliberately tied to, or impaled on, bamboo stakes," wrote eyewitness Pipit Rochijat. "And the departure of corpses from the Kediri region down the Brantas achieved its golden age when bodies were stacked on rafts over which the PKI banner proudly flew." [See Rochijat's "Am I PKI or Non-PKI?" Indonesia, Oct. 1985.]
Some historians have attributed the grotesque violence to a crazed army which engaged in "unplanned brutality" or "mass hysteria" leading ultimately to the slaughter of some half million Indonesians, many of Chinese descent.
But the recurring tactic of putting bodies on gruesome display fits as well with the military doctrines of psy-war, a word that one of the leading military killers used in un-translated form in one order demanding elimination of the PKI.
Sarwo Edhie, chief of the political para-commando battalion known as the Red Berets, warned that the communist opposition "should be given no opportunity to concentrate/consolidate. It should be pushed back systematically by all means, including psy-war." [See The Revolt of the G30S/PKI and Its Suppression, translated by Robert Cribb in The Indonesian Killings.]
Sarwo Edhie had been identified as a CIA contact when he served at the Indonesian Embassy in Australia. [See Pacific, May-June 1968.]
US Media Sympathy
Elite U.S. reaction to the horrific slaughter was muted and has remained ambivalent ever since. The Johnson administration denied any responsibility for the massacres, but New York Times columnist James Reston spoke for many opinion leaders when he approvingly termed the bloody developments in Indonesia "a gleam of light in Asia."
The American denials of involvement held until 1990 when U.S. diplomats admitted to a reporter that they had aided the Indonesian army by supplying lists of suspected communists.
"It really was a big help to the army," embassy officer Robert Martens told Kathy Kadane of States News Service. "I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that's not all bad. There's a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment." Martens had headed the U.S. team that compiled the death lists.
Kadane's story provoked a telling response from Washington Post senior editorial writer Stephen S. Rosenfeld. He accepted the fact that American officials had assisted "this fearsome slaughter," but then justified the killings.
Rosenfeld argued that the massacre "was and still is widely regarded as the grim but earned fate of a conspiratorial revolutionary party that represented the same communist juggernaut that was on the march in Vietnam."
In a column entitled, "Indonesia 1965: The Year of Living Cynically?" Rosenfeld reasoned that "either the army would get the communists or the communists would get the army, it was thought: Indonesia was a domino, and the PKI's demise kept it [Indonesia] standing in the free world. …
"Though the means were grievously tainted, we -- the fastidious among us as well as the hard-headed and cynical -- can be said to have enjoyed the fruits in the geopolitical stability of that important part of Asia, in the revolution that never happened." [Washington Post, July 13, 1990]
The fruit tasted far more bitter to the peoples of the Indonesian archipelago, however. In 1975, the army of Indonesia's new dictator, Gen. Suharto, invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor. When the East Timorese resisted, the Indonesian army returned to its gruesome bag of tricks, engaging in virtual genocide against the population.
A Catholic missionary provided an eyewitness account of one search-and-destroy mission in East Timor in 1981.
"We saw with our own eyes the massacre of the people who were surrendering: all dead, even women and children, even the littlest ones. … Not even pregnant women were spared: they were cut open. …. They did what they had done to small children the previous year, grabbing them by the legs and smashing their heads against rocks. …
"The comments of Indonesian officers reveal the moral character of this army: 'We did the same thing [in 1965] in Java, in Borneo, in the Celebes, in Irian Jaya, and it worked." [See A. Barbedo de Magalhaes, East Timor: Land of Hope.]
The references to the success of the 1965 slaughter were not unusual. In Timor: A People Betrayed, author James Dunn noted that "on the Indonesian side, there have been many reports that many soldiers viewed their operation as a further phase in the ongoing campaign to suppress communism that had followed the events of September 1965."
Classic psy-war and pacification strategies were followed to the hilt in East Timor. The Indonesians put on display corpses and the heads of their victims. Timorese also were herded into government-controlled camps before permanent relocation in "resettlement villages" far from their original homes.
"The problem is that people are forced to live in the settlements and are not allowed to travel outside," said Msgr. Costa Lopes, apostolic administrator of Dili. "This is the main reason why people cannot grow enough food." [See John G. Taylor, Indonesia's Forgotten War: The Hidden History of East Timor.]
Through television in the 1960-70s, the Vietnam War finally brought the horrors of counterinsurgency home to millions of Americans. They watched as U.S. troops torched villages and forced distraught old women to leave ancestral homes.
Camera crews caught on film brutal interrogation of Viet Cong suspects, the execution of one young VC officer, and the bombing of children with napalm.
In effect, the Vietnam War was the first time Americans got to witness the pacification strategies that had evolved secretly as national security policy since the 19th Century. As a result, millions of Americans protested the war's conduct and Congress belatedly compelled an end to U.S. participation in 1974.
But the psy-war doctrinal debates were not resolved by the Vietnam War. Counterinsurgency advocates regrouped in the 1980s behind President Ronald Reagan, who mounted a spirited defense of the Vietnamese intervention and reaffirmed U.S. resolve to employ similar tactics against leftist forces especially in Central America. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Guatemala: A Test Tube for Repression."]
Reagan also added an important new component to the mix. Recognizing how graphic images and honest reporting from the war zone had undercut public support for the counterinsurgency in Vietnam, Reagan authorized an aggressive domestic "public diplomacy" operation which practiced what was called "perception management" -- in effect, intimidating journalists to ensure that only sanitized information would reach the American people.
Reporters who disclosed atrocities by U.S.-trained forces, such as the El Mozote massacre by El Salvador's Atlacatl battalion in 1981, came under harsh criticism and saw their careers damaged.
Some Reagan operatives were not shy about their defense of political terror as a necessity of the Cold War. Neil Livingstone, a counter-terrorism consultant to the National Security Council, called death squads "an extremely effective tool, however odious, in combatting terrorism and revolutionary challenges." [See McClintock's Instruments of Statecraft.]
When Democrats in Congress objected to excesses of Reagan's interventions in Central America, the administration responded with more public relations and political pressure, questioning the patriotism of the critics. For instance, Reagan's United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick accused anyone who took note of U.S.-backed war crimes of "blaming America first."
Many Democrats in Congress and journalists in the Washington press corps buckled under the attacks, giving the Reagan administration much freer rein to carry out brutal "death squad" strategies in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
What is clear from these experiences in Indonesia, Vietnam, Central America and elsewhere is that the United States, for generations, has sustained two parallel but opposed states of mind about military atrocities and human rights: one of U.S. benevolence, generally held by the public, and the other of ends-justify-the-means brutality embraced by counterinsurgency specialists.
Normally the specialists carry out their actions in remote locations with little notice in the national press. But sometimes the two competing visions - of a just America and a ruthless one - clash in the open, as they did in Vietnam.
Or the dark side of U.S. security policy is thrown into the light by unauthorized leaks, such as the photos of abused detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq or by revelations about waterboarding and other torture authorized by George W. Bush's White House as part of the "war on terror."
Only then does the public get a glimpse of the grim reality, the bloody and brutal tactics that have been deemed "necessary" for more than two centuries in the defense of the purported "national interests."
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Age of Ignorance
There is no clash of civilization or culture ---there is a clash of ignorance. This is the age of Ignorance, this is the Jahiliya.
Many like to believe that the Jahiliya is a period that is bygone. Not so, the Jahiliya is ever present - every where. It is present in the West and it is present in the East. So are the idols that characterize this period.
There is Belief - you inherit that stuff from your family, environment, school, society and there is Faith.
Faith is not Belief. Faith is something that one works on, cultivates, infused with much Grace. Grace is not tied to any race, sect, culture or civilization...Grace is above and beyond...like Rain, it falls on everyone...
It is with this in mind, that I want to approach the subject of Islam and the Other. And it is with this in mind that I want to tackle the West and Islam.
I am not sure I want to use the current terminology that one often comes across in today's literature on this topic - words like -- tolerance, acceptance have been overused and have lost their meaning...
We are definitely at a crossroad - we Muslims and non Muslims alike. I feel this with urgency. I fear also that this snowball will become an avalanche that no one will be able to stop - an avalanche that will swallow all of us, not just the Muslims. And it is also with this in mind that I am attempting to broach the subject.
What is being sown today shall be reaped tomorrow - this is a universal law, a law that knows no borders, no passports and no nationalities...of that I am sure. And from what has been taking place in the last decade or so, or let's say the acceleration of an already existing process, in the last 10 years -- I can already tell you that the fruits of this harvest are going to be very bitter. Unless the tide is turned....
There is a war being waged on Islam and Muslims. Whichever way you care to look at it, and by whichever theory you want to causally ascribe to it --it is here and can no longer be ignored.
This in turn feeds on the ghetto spirit that Muslims find themselves in and gives birth to more extremism. It is a vicious circle...a very dangerous one.
This is not about Niqabs, Veils, Burqas, Cartoons, Minarets or Koran burnings -- this is about directly ATTACKING a Belief system and a Faith -- simply because it looks and feels different, thus enhancing, exacerbating and radicalizing the very elements that the West deems to be not secular enough for its taste.
This is the bind and this is the lethal bind that the West finds itself in.
The Question to ask - is why is this group of people - the Muslims - that have been particularly targeted ? Why not the Jews or Hindus or the Buddhists for example ?
Each one will conveniently point to 9/11 as the starting point of this witch hunt. This is where I disagree.
9/11 whoever the culprits were - was not the starting point. It was yet another peak point, from which after much massacres took place - notably in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan (and it will not stop at these countries.)
The West in fact has never been at ease (short of a better word) with Islam as a concept. This is not something new. However the events of 9/11 gave the perfect alibi for it to engage in an all out war. I repeat an all out war - meaning a war on many fronts - physical, geographic, political, economic, cultural and ideological...
Some will argue that this is not necessarily true - pointing to the following : The West's support for Bosnia, Kosovo and the Afghans during their fight against the Russians. And there is truth in that. However this is not the full picture. Their support for these Muslims was only done with the aim of enhancing the West's hegemony. Hegemony in the largest sense of the word and not merely reduced to economic interests.
Another factor that cannot be overlooked besides the West being ill at ease with Islam ever since this latter's inception - is the silent war that is taking place between two poles of "Islam" - Saudi Arabia and Iran.
This war is political, geographic but also ideological and precedes both the establishment of Saudi Arabia or Iran as nation states. This "war" started in Iraq many centuries ago. It was a war of Khilafa - i.e of Governance between two clans/sects (political sects) of who will monopolize and rule the Ummah.
This war has not died...it was latent and flared up again in the 20th century with the advent of Khomeinism - the political ideology of Shia revivalism and started in the late 70's. This period also coincided with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Salafist/Jihadist ideology. The counterpart if you wish, to Shiite Revivalism.
This is also the period where from a purely sociological observation - I started noticing more and more people "reverting" to a "pure" Islam (whether of Sunni or Shia ) - falling back on a belief system from which people hoped to extract Faith.
In parallel, the Western concept of Globalization which really means political, economic, cultural, ideological Homogeneity (Uniformity of Identity) greatly fed this "reverting" process/attachment and refusal of Muslims to accept this new movement (Globalization) which they perceive to be threatening not only to their belief system but also to their Faith. And with good reason - because Globalization has absolutely nothing sacred or holistic about it.
In other words this impetus towards Globalization accompanied with the historic "discomfort" that the West has nourished vis à vis Islam produced a backlash or as some people would like to call it -Fundamentalism- now called Terrorism. As I read today, someone said - Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. In other words all fundamentalists are Muslims and are therefore terrorists.
In the "fight" to RETAIN the semblance of a belief system and of a Faith -- dogma was necessary. The Muslim law/jurisprudence was no longer a contextual law i.e a law issued in a specific historical context but became a dogma - taking on all the allures of a unequivocal Truth over which both the State and the Clergy have absolute authority. This in itself is very contradictory to the Spirit and even Law of Islam since in Islam no one, absolutely no one holds absolute power over the Truth. This is the essence of Shirk - ie of associating someone/something to the Divine. Futhermore, in Islam there is NO Clergy, except maybe in Shi'ism. Traditionally the Ulemas or the men of Learning are not considered a Clergy as such (as in the Christian sense) and therefore their powers (derived of learning Fiqh -religious studies) was always limited and Ulemas were easily replaced should they issue a Fatwa that was not too pleasing to the ruler...and by the same token some Ulemas worked for the Ruler and issued Fatwas that ensured his rule. Which is to say that even the Muslim religious body historically speaking had nothing of permanence to it - neither the Koranic interpretations. Since the Ulemas could be removed so did their particular interpretation of the Text.
This is very important to note because it means that the Text can be/ is open to be interpreted differently...depending on context - context being historical, political, economic, ideological, cultural...
This in itself already negates the whole conceptual idea of an Islamic "Fundamentalism." and also by correlation negates the whole notion of Islamic "Moderates".
What does that mean ? It means that the same terminology should be used as when addressing the various groups in Judaism for instance --- as in Orthodox, Liberal/ Reformist.
Do you see the nuance ? I see it very clearly. For the discourse that is held towards Islam is not the same discourse that is held toward Judaism for instance. There are no fundamentalists and moderates in Israel, there are orthodox and liberals.
It is assumed that an Islamic moderate belongs to an Islam that is essentially Fundamentalist but by addressing his "reason" he can remain a moderate and hopefully stay that way- this is the inherent message. An orthodox or a Liberal Jew belongs to Judaism full stop.
And it is of no coincidence,that Muslims, in particular in the West, find themselves in either an apologetic or defensive position. They try to explain, describe, justify, communicate, that they are not fundamentalists, that even though their attire (which like the Orthodox Jew) may look traditional/conservative/religious, they are not inherently terrorists...and whilst doing all these justification of trying to prove their good intentions, their inherent moderateness they get stuck even deeper in that ghetto that has been laid out for them --like a prefab house -- all ready to be inhabited...
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Post-9/11, Washington sponsored four coup d'etats. Two succeeded - most recently in Honduras in 2009 against Manuel Zelaya, and in Haiti in 2004 deposing Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Two others failed - in Venezuela in 2002 against Hugo Chavez, and on September 30 in Ecuador against Rafael Correa - so far. Two by Bush, two by Obama with plenty of time for more mischief before November 2012.
From his record so far, expect it. He continues imperial Iraq and Afghanistan wars and occupations. In addition, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, Lebanon, North Korea, and other countries are targeted, besides deploying CIA and Special Forces armies into at least 75 countries worldwide for targeted assassinations, drone attacks, and other disruptive missions.
More than ever under Bush and Obama, America rampages globally, Ecuador's Raphael Correa lucky to survive a plot to oust (or perhaps kill) him. September world headlines explained, including by New York Times writer Simon Romero headlining, "Standoff in Ecuador Ends With Leader's Rescue," saying:
"Ecuadorean soldiers stormed a police hospital Thursday night in Quito where President Rafael Correa was held by rebellious elements of the police forces, and rescued him amid an exchange of gunfire...."
AlJazeera explained more in an article headlined, "Ecuador declares state of emergency," saying:
Coup plotters shut down airports, blocked highways, burned tires, and "rough(ed) up the president." They also took over an airbase, parliament, and Quito streets, the pretext being a law restructuring their benefits, despite Correa doubling police wages.
In fact, Washington's fingerprints are on another attempt against a Latin leader, some (not all) of whose policies fall short of neoliberal extremism.
A tipoff was State Department spokesman, Phillip Crowley, saying we're "monitoring (not denouncing) the situation," much like it refused to condemn Zelaya's ouster, instead calling on "all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law, and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter." Most other Latin states demanded his "immediate and unconditional return," whether or not they meant it.
Washington opposes Correa for Ecuador's ties to Hugo Chavez and Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) membership, a WTO/NAFTA alternative based on principles of:
-- complementarity, not competition;
-- cooperation, not exploitation; and
-- respect for each nation's sovereignty, free from corporate and outside control.
Though falling short of these goals, ALBA nations, in principle, pledged:
-- to benefit and empower their citizens;
-- provide essential goods and services; and
-- achieve real grassroots economic growth to improve the lives of ordinary people and reduce poverty.
ALBA membership, however, signals opposition to US hegemony, especially its neoliberal model, dominance, dismissiveness, and one-way trade deals for the Global North over the South, the curse Latin states have endured for decades, besides earlier US-sponsored coups and belligerency.
Fast Moving Developments
Before his rescue, police spokesman Richard Ramirez told AP that "the chief of the national police, Gen. Freddy Martinez, presented Correa with his irrevocable resignation because of Thursday's events."
On October 1, the Russian Information Agency, Novosti headlined, "Ecuador in chaos as police put president in hospital," saying:
Correa remained hospitalized....one person was killed and dozens injured during (street) riots." After Ecuadorean military and special police forces rescued him, Correa told the national radio in a phone interview:
"This is a coup d'etat attempt by opposition forces. They resorted to (violence) because they will not win the election. I call on the citizens to stay calm."
After being attacked by tear gas, he was hospitalized, then prevented from leaving when rebel police and coup supporters surrounded the building. Inside he said, "It seems that the hospital is under siege....(The) conspiracy (was) planned long ago," and he knows where. He added, "I will leave (the hospital) as president, or they will have to carry my corpse out of here."
His government declared a state of emergency. Flights from Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport were suspended, then resumed early October 1. In addition, scattered violence and looting was reported in several Ecuadorean cities, including the capital.
Freed by soldiers, a visibly angry Correa addressed a huge crowd of supporters from the presidential palace, saying:
"Ecuadorean blood, the blood of our brothers has been needlessly spilled. You have mobilized to support the national government....the citizens' revolution, democracy in our fatherland. When we realized we couldn't talk and wanted to leave, they attacked the president. They threw tear gas at us, straight at our faces. They had to take me to the police hospital where they held me hostage. They wouldn't let me leave. They shamed the institution (the police). They will need to leave the ranks."
While still captive, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino urged supporters to "walk peacefully to the hospital, where the president is blocked by (rebel) police officers." On arriving, they shouted, "This is not Honduras. Correa is president. Down with the coup, down with the enemies of the people."
Ecuador remains in flux. As a result, new developments need close monitoring. Writing for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Andres Ochoa said:
Before the coup attempt, "Correa seemed an untouchable figure in Ecuadorian politics. However, his presidency might very well be defined by the outcome of this day, and his political projects may rest on the results."
A Final Comment
On October 1, AFP writer Alexander Martinez headlined, "Ecuador president rescued from police uprising," saying:
Correa "made a triumphant return to the presidential palace after loyalist troops rescued him from a police rebellion amid gunfire and street clashes that left at least two dead" and dozens wounded.
"We got him out, we got him out," Interior Vice Minister Edwin Jarrin told AFP.
"The rescue capped a dramatic day of violence and confusion that began early Thursday" when rebel police assaulted him.
After his rescue, Correa thanked the military and a police special operations unit, saying:
"If not for them, this horde of savages that wanted to kill, that wanted blood, would have entered the hospital to look for the president and I probably wouldn't (be) telling you this because I would have passed on to a better life." Supporters are grateful not yet.
Commenting on developments, Latin American expert James Petras explained that Ecuador's "ELITE MILITARY" put down the coup. In 2008, defense minister Javier Ponce "denounced" Washington "for subverting police."
At the same time, there's "legitimate protest by trade unions against Correa's austerity plan, which the right exploited, seeing the pro-Correa forces divided." In addition, some NGOs and "supposed Indian groups who tacitly supported the coup are on the take from America's National Endowment of Democracy (NED) and USAID," the usual suspects with a long disruptive history throughout the region and beyond.
Their operatives weren't on the streets visibly, but they expressed no opposition to coup plotters. Instead, "Their statement called for the government's replacement," meaning it's Obama administration policy - not for Correa's domestic policies, says Petras. It's for his "ties with US arch enemy Chavez and ALBA."