War Is A Racket: After 17 Years and Billions Wasted, US Seeks Peace With Taliban

Last week, US State Department officials met with Taliban leaders in Qatar. At the request of the Taliban, the US-backed Afghan government was not invited. The officials discussed ceasefires and an end to the war. Meanwhile, the US inspector general charged with monitoring US spending on Afghanistan reconstruction has reported that since 2008, the US has completely wasted at the least $15.5 billion. He believes that's just the tip of the iceberg, though. Will President Trump do the smart thing and negotiate peace and leave? Tune in to today's Liberty Report:

Trump authorizes those that fled Syrian to return under the protection of President al Assad

Following the Nato Summit and the Helsinki Summit, Russia and the United States have agreed to evacuate Western personnel from Syria and to repatriate Syria refugees. The Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US partner Donald Trump have agreed to consider only a very small minority (less than 50,000) of those that fled the Syrian Arab Republic to be asylum seekers fleeing persecution. They have also agreed that the motive for which the vast majority (more than 2 million) did so, was to (...)

Under a Blood Moon

U.S. imperial actions in Vietnam and elsewhere are often described as reflecting “national interests,” “national security,” or “national defense.” Endless U.S. wars and regime changes, however, actually represent the class interests of the powerful who own and govern the country.
— John Marciano, “Lessons from the Vietnam War,” Monthly Review, December 1, 2016

The Bretton Woods institutions are like arsonists, lighting new social fires, then waiting for the NGOs and local communities to play firefighter.
— Eric Toussaint, (Your Money or Your Life:
 The Tyranny of Global Finance, June 1, 2005)

We found the weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq]. We found biological laboratories.
— President George W. Bush, May 29, 2003

There is no evidence to confirm that [US-supported El Salvador] government forces systematically massacred civilians in the [El Mozote] operations zone.
— Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Enders, February 8, 1982

Today here in Norway, it is expected that this will go down as the hottest day in Norwegian history. It is also the day of the Blood Moon lunar eclipse. Somehow this seems fitting, in a sort of mytho-poetic way. For I can’t shake the sense of apocalyptic dread that permeates life everywhere today. I suppose it might have to do with the historic-level wild fires near the arctic circle, or the dozen major floods that are happening on every single continent, or the methane bubbles that are growing weekly across Siberia and the Arctic. Or just the drought that has hit my home state of California, as well as the previously inviolate countryside of Norway.

The U.S. government continues to occupy itself with the matters of Imperialist aggression (which, besides, you know, killing people, contributes something like 40% of the world’s pollution). And with the endless, necessary, selling of the mythology of freedom and democracy that is so important to sustain the fantasy lives of its citizens. So, to just sort of track semi randomly the madness that is gripping the Empire today, we can start with the fact that most of Trump’s cabinet are Dominionist Evangelical Christians. I don’t think most people, at least most of those not brainwashed by Christianity, realize just how barking mad the Dominionists are. Pence is one, Pompeo is one, DeVos and Kudlow and Carson are also such. Think about that. This label covers a variety of belief systems, but in the U.S. these are the legatees of the surge of Christian Nationalism that started in the 70s (really, there are two branches of Dominionism, that of the late R.J. Rushdoony, and the 7 Mountains brand favored by Ted Cruz and others).

Pompeo and John Bolton are the two most significant advisors to Donald Trump. Both men are what in conventional terms could be described as unstable and perhaps suffering from one or another personality disorder (antisocial personality disorder, or APD, is no doubt accurately assigned to Bolton). But these are the obvious examples. Trump is the cartoon bad guy writ large, in primary colors (including hair) and he invites such hatred because part of his schtick is to troll the public. And his own administration, for that matter. (And its funny how suddenly liberals are aghast because he insulted the Queen of England — or rather “broke protocal.” I mean seriously who gives a fuck. That old racist harpy long ago deserved to work stacking boxes in a WalMart warehouse, but I digress).

No, the deeper madness that has taken hold is found in the educated classes, actually. I wrote before about Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and her rather obvious intellectual bankruptcy as well as her disingenuous presentation of self. And yet, leftists continue to defend her and plead to give her a chance and how she is part of some mythic insurgency in the Democratic Party. Now most of these writers, those I am thinking about, spent the last couple years deriding the DNC, attacking the criminal record of Hillary Clinton. And yet, now there is a sort of mushy appeal to consider the Democratic Party in any calculus for building a movement toward change. No longer do I hear the word communism, and I only hear socialism when it is hyphenated with Democratic (Democratic-Socialist). What happened? Well, part of what happened is the rise of the marketing left. The entrepreneur left. Or the branded left. The capitalist left. All of these terms apply. In other words, these people are no longer (and probably never were) in any way the opposition. The magazines of these entrepreneurs (Sunkara and Jacobin, which Nick Beams amusingly called the ‘the house journal for the middle class pseudo-left milieu, in particular the Democratic Socialists of America’) found a niche sort-of-left market demographic and capitalized (sic) on it. This is the place one reads of strategic alliances but never reads of the positives of communism. Or the likes of Charles Davis, a puerile fascist masquerading as pseudo left. I mean he is sort of the fake, fake left.

And invariably these new non-Marxist and anti-communist leftists will quote and include those western educated voices in matters of foreign policy ( on Syria in particular). They will claim these Syrian voices, who speak English with perfect vowels, are the voices of the people. And they will always find a way to damn with faint praise the Bolivarian Revolution, and they will be anti-Castro and anti-the late Colonel Gadaffi. Most take a mulligan on Milosevic, even at this late date when literally all the propaganda has been debunked. They will use the term thug for any number of revolutionary leaders in the 3rd world. Think Maduro or Kim Jong Un, or Mugabe or Ortega. They call it is realism or something. It is the illusion of fairness. It is the subject position of the educated bourgeoisie. Now, never mind the failings or not of these leaders, their real crimes in the eyes of the West (like Iran) is their independence. And rarely is much thought given to the forces assembled against these independent countries. (think the embargo of five or six decades against Cuba, or the what was done to crush the Sandinistas, the dismantling of the former Yugoslavia, the sanctions against Iran). Remember, too, the U.S. targeted Syria thirty some years ago and that hasn’t changed.

I think in earlier times, a time before the internet, when news was not nearly instantaneous, one relied on certain principles, a certain ideological experience (I was accused this week of being blinded by my ideology, when in fact I think my ideology allows me to see more clearly, but I digress) that meant one knew who had the power, one knew that such power is almost always used to preserve privilege, and hence one would be inclined to side with those who had no power. Regardless. But it is also the tendency, today, to imagine a level playing field – a field that exists in one’s own cultural landscape. And this is what I am coming to call the new Orientalism. When I think back to Vietnam and how those of us who resisted and protested that Imperialist war, there was no question of tweezing apart if Ho Chi Minh was nice. I suspect he kind, but not probably nice, but that was not the issue. The issue was the United States and its massive military killing machine against a largely peasant population. And the opposition to the war had deep working class roots, and it was a resistance that began with a refusal to support any U.S. Imperialist aggression.

The domestic antiwar movement was the largest in U.S. history, and the October 1969 Moratorium Against the War alone was the greatest single antiwar protest ever recorded in this country. The movement was deepened and strengthened by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), that in January 1966 issued a public statement against the war—a courageous dissent that nearly bankrupted it financially. SNCC called U.S. involvement “racist and imperialist.”
— John Marciano

Artists and poets travelled the country giving free readings and offering support for draft resisters. Robert Bly, Galway Kinnell, W.S. Merwin… even Robert Lowell, were creating work that was organically political, and not simply agit prop. They were doing what artists traditionally do, they were engaging in the world around them, and with the people around them, and with the life of planet. They weren’t selling anything. Not even a T-shirt.

Now, this branded left of today, or the anti-dialectical left, is also acutely anti-Maoist and anti-Stalinist. And again, my experience suggests the core of this ideological grouping are white men under or about 40, and University educated. And they are the exemplars, too, of this new Orientalism. And this Orientalism tends to enclose a particular strain of racism. Jay Tharappel wrote over at Big Russ News last week: “Racism is not just a tool of capital to divide labour (which is the dominant definition of the term among first–world Left); it is also an ideological weapon employed primarily by empires to shape how their citizens think about other nations in accordance with their geopolitical strategy.” These New Orientalist Leftists are also, as I say, rabidly anti-Stalinist and anti-Maoist; and this is less because they possess any real historical knowledge but because the caricature of the evil totalitarian despot is a necessary figure in their personal anti-communist imaginary.

President Barack Obama made his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as president in July, 2009, speaking in Accra, Ghana. Despite a decades-long trail of broken promises to Africa on aid and development, Obama’s speech in Accra was marked by finger-wagging and reprimands, and an insistence that African nations’ own “mismanagement” and “lack of democracy” are to blame for their economic and social problems.
— Lee Wengref (International Socialist Review, #103)

Nations that establish their dominance can afford to be more liberal especially if they’re not threatened by more powerful enemies, whereas countries that find themselves actively fending off aggression by more powerful enemies do not have the luxury of adhering to ‘liberal’ standards premised on a privileged place in global affairs.
— Dan Tharappel

When liberals and New Orientalists (branded left, anti-communist left etc) look to find that neutrality of argument, the one that suggests just because I don’t like U.S. and NATO wars doesn’t mean I have to like Assad (Castro, Maduro, Ortega, Milosevic et al). They are assuming their privileged state of existence is outside all critiques. Any country colonized by one of the European powers automatically inherited bureaucratic and administrative structures and a political apparatus (including European policing). Syria inherited the French colonial structures for the most part. Such burdens constitute a psychic wound, a kind of mythic burden of both guilt and rage. But if those western educated sources with the posh vowels are consistent with NGO testimony and reports (western based and funded) such as Amnesty International, then this serves as evidence of third world savagery. The history of Hill & Knowlton, or any of the other Madison Avenue firms the State Department employs is simply ignored. It is literally tossed into the black hole of Western amnesia. If one cites the even very recent perfidy of western media and NGOs one is usually called a conspiracy theorist. I’ve been so called for citing things the CIA actually admits and brags about.

In 1998 the U.S. Air Force document, titled Information Operations, states that “Information Operations are applied across the range of military operations, from peacekeeping to full conflict … it is important to emphasize that the Information warfare is a formula that is implemented in all Air Force activities, from peace to war in order to enable the effective execution of all tasks.… The execution of information operations in the aeronautical, space and cyberspace across all aspects of the conflict “(note the use of” doublespeak “[or” dual language “, in the context of the terms” peace “and” military operations “). [sic]
— from the Yellow Brick Road Free Blog

And of course this leads to items such as this
… and this.

In a quite constant way, Orientalism depends for its strategy on this flexible positional superiority, which puts the Westerner in a whole series of possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the relative upper hand.
— Edward Said

The looming environmental catastrophe, or multiple catastrophes, are impossible to calculate in effect. But clearly there are going to be enormous changes to how the wasteful west, the privileged white world, lives. The current dementia or hallucinatory fever that is gripping the U.S. has far less to do with Donald Trump (though it does, in a sense, have to do with Putin and Russia, but I will return to that) than it does with the degraded state of daily life for nearly everyone that lives within it. And that includes the very wealthy, who I maintain are just as miserable, only they have far better coping mechanisms available to them. The sheer sense of despair that cuts across all western societies today is visible and palpable, and the new homeless camps on the edges of EVERY big city in America, are the symbol of the dying society. And yet, this predatory nation of slave owning Presidents, a nation that is the only in history to use nuclear weapons, this country of mass incarceration and provable indelible racism, still seems to attract those claiming they want to change it.

Liberals are, of course, always going to side with authority. Always will look to preserve the status quo. They are most comfortable, really, with open displays of fascist symbolism and style. I know few liberals who do not secretly admire or find Mussolini attractive. For such fascist leaders are very similar to the protagonists Hollywood turns out. Of late, I’ve noticed, a sharp uptick in heroes fashioned after Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, or Steve Jobs — the lone genius who goes off and discovers the solutions to everything. Never are they seen at work with countless colleagues, or vast armies of researchers working in near anonymity. No, it is the Zuck/Mussolini figure that does it alone. And these figures are always allowed to be vain, rude, selfish and destructive. And most often reactionary. Genius is forgiven. It is a very attractive fantasy for the western bourgeoisie today. It also suggests these figures are hard at work solving global warming for example. Solving all those things that can’t be faced. But this new ‘branded left’ — the New Orientalists, the anti-communists under the age of forty five, are also attracted to power. And they find positions that are not greatly different than an HRC supporter (or Bernie, or Elizabeth Warren et al). Its the old lets hold their feet to the fire fantasy. As I think on it, there is rather a lot of fantasy taking place on all levels and at all rungs of contemporary society. Which is probably why such emphasis is put on being realistic. Which reminds me that today the public intellectual is either a Jordan Peterson (for the Jr College student or under grad at some directional state University) or Stephen Pinker (for the post grad from more expensive schools). To think only a few decades back Gore Vidal and James Baldwin appeared with regularity on TV opinion shows. As an aside, there is so much ludicrously wrong with Pinker that time and space prevent a full listing. But one observation regarding his claim that violence is in decline and that mankind has never known such a sustained peace. Now he arrives at this absurdity by simply ignoring the violence visited upon the global south. Post-1945 he figures the big “civilized” states aren’t at war. And that’s all that counts. Pinker and Peterson both are new Orientalists.

As Ed Herman and David Peterson wrote,

Pinker completely ignores the phenomenon of structural violence, or the kind of violence that is ‘built into the structure’ of social relations, and ‘shows up as unequal power and consequently as unequal life chances,’ in Johan Galtung’s famous rendering. On a planet with more than 7 billion people facing mounting ecological pressures, the increasingly savage global class war of the 1% against the other 99, and the ‘endemic undernutrition and deprivation’ that afflicts billions of people even in ‘normal’ times—to extend Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze’s writings on India to the world as a whole—takes a toll every day that overshadows the violence of war.

Pinker, by the by, teaches at Harvard. Something I find rather fitting and revealing regards the state of intellectual discourse today.

Fanon, of course, said,  “…decolonization is always a violent phenomenon.”

And today the structural violence is finding new avenues of expression. I wrote a while back about the rise of a new antisemitism. In one way much of that antisemitism is found in structural relationships. Just as racism is, though perhaps to a lesser degree (for white black racism remains steadfastly overt and concrete). Those homeless encampments also are testimony to the alienation of modern western society. For these are the camps of the newly poor. And it has been an opening of the flood gates of penury for much of what was once working class America. And these are people without protection, either from government, unions (which largely dont exist anymore) or extended family.

When the USSR collapsed another sort of symbol disappeared. For it was the USSR that fought for the independence of African nations. They fought against colonial rule. The US fought for the colonizer. They supported the apartheid state. And they would today, too, which is what many Africans instinctively know. Across the poorest regions of the planet the figures of Mao and Fidel and Stalin are symbols of hope, not tyranny.

So the rabid insane demonizing of Putin is both an extension of a cold war comfort zone, and simply the furious irrational tantrum of the DNC. But to be clear, the Bush and Putin bromance came to an end when Obama took office. That was the real sea change in US-Russia relations. And it marked the serious infiltration of Hollywood by the Clinton mafia. Obama was the errand boy for the deep state, for the CIA and state department, but also the NSA, and certainly for Wall Street and the even bigger finance that controls Wall Street. Now, tracking the logic and movement of this change is too complex for this post, but what is germane here is that Obama’s pivot to Asia included a pivot against Russia. For no matter how one feels about Putin, the historic role of the Russian people matters greatly. It matters because Russia has always defied Western diktats, and because Russians themselves, as a culture, a society, tend toward a sensibility of independence. And because as Andre Vltchek pointed out, they look white, the look normal, but they are in fact different. And it feels as if they are closer to Roma than to Americans. They have the same streak of absolute indifference to our opinion of them. In a sense they are closer to much North African culture, too, funny as that sounds. One thing they are not is British or French or American. There is a real split in cultural character between the European colonizing culture and that of Russia, the Islamic world, and Africa.

So Putin becomes this, on the one hand, slightly camp figure, barechested on horseback, but also surgically intelligent former KGB agent. Putin feels too smart for Americans, I think. I mean what-the-fuck, who-the-fuck-does-he-think-he-is? Few world leaders project intelligence. Castro did, but he, alas, is gone now. Commandante Marcos is smart. And your average liberal will try to explain that Obama was smart, Harvard Law Review and whatever. (Harvard where that Pinker guy teaches, right?). But its not the same smart. Its another varietal of smart, another sort that grows under other conditions. Obama did not project more than a kind of detached wonky intelligence. Intelligence but without a soul.

Meanwhile, I see where Tony Blair (speaking of not so smart) was just gifted with ten gajillion dollars or pounds or something by Mohammed Bin Salman, the presumptive next king of Saudi Arabia. Billions, as a gift, from the man who launched a merciless pointless genocide against Yemen. And Tony, ever the good Christian, accepted giddy with gratitude. The obscenity of the United States and UK today depresses me, I have to say. I see nothing good that comes out of trying to reform a ruthless profiteering death infected party of rich and the very rich and their courtiers. The Democratic Party should not even be mentioned when the discussion turns to change. Not even mentioned, let alone praised for anything. The Democratic Party, as noted before, are drawing candidates primarily from the intelligence community and the military. Remember that. For those erstwhile leftists, those who side with NATO and the U.S. against any third world ruler, ANY of them, are collaborators really. That is how I look upon them. If, as an example, Lula da Silva functioned as a sort of ersatz collaborator, for a time, I tend to forgive him more than I would Angela Merkel. Or Theresa May. For da Silva was leader of the world’s largest former colony. And the scars of the colonial period are always visible even today. And besides that, those arraigned against him are the same neo aristocrat fascists massed against Maduro. Against Bolivia, too. The real threat to mankind is the american establishment.

The other thing worth asking is if, as we know, the U.S. CIA black budget is in excess of fifty billion dollars a year, what is that being spent on? And one has to wonder if infiltrating the left is not something of a priority. I would submit it is. So these publications of the pseudo left (now routinely mentioned in articles by CNN and at the NY Times) must have connections. And when other supposed radical voices take up the cause of the Democratic Party, one has to wonder. When they suddenly starting citing, as an authority, the findings of NGO reports or the data collected by front groups… it gives one pause.

Ben Rhodes (Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications under Obama) has a memoir out, and in it is a paragraph he wrote, regarding the speeches at Fidel Castro’s funeral. He writes, “For the next several hours the global left was heard from in speech after speech. The message was tired, out of date. Africans talking about the struggle to shake off colonialism. Latin Americans honouring the Cuban people and their resistance to Empire in the North.” So you see, this is the Democratic Party. Even mentioning colonialism is soooo five minutes ago.

The Soviet Union was the only Great Power whose stand conformed to our people’s will and desire. That is why the Soviet Union was the only Great Power which has all along been supporting the Congolese people’s struggle. I should like to convey the heartfelt gratitude of the entire Congolese people to the Soviet people and to Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchov personally for your country’s timely and great moral support to the young Republic of the Congo in its struggle against the imperialists and colonialists. I should also like to thank the Soviet Union for the assistance in food which it is extending to the Congo.
— Patrice Lumumba, July 28, 1960. (Interview).

Trump Takes on the Fed

The president has criticized Federal Reserve policy for undermining his attempts to build the economy. To make the central bank serve the needs of the economy, it needs to be transformed into a public utility.

For nearly half a century, presidents have refrained from criticizing the “independent” Federal Reserve; but that was before Donald Trump. In response to a question about Fed interest rate policy in a CNBC interview on July 19, 2018, he shocked commentators by stating,

I’m not thrilled.  Because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again. … I am not happy about it.  … I don’t like all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up.

He acknowledged the central bank’s independence, but the point was made: the Fed was hurting the economy with its “Quantitative Tightening” policies and needed to watch its step.

In commentary on CNBC.com, Richard Bove contended that the president was positioning himself to take control of the Federal Reserve. Bove said Trump will do it “both because he can and because his broader policies argue that he should do so. . . . By raising interest rates and stopping the growth in the money supply [the Fed] stands in the way of further growth in the American economy.”

Bove noted that in the second quarter of 2018, the growth in the money supply (M2) was zero. Why? He blamed “the tightest monetary policy since Paul Volcker, whose policies in the mid-1980s led to back-to-back recessions.” The Fed has raised interest rates seven times, with five more scheduled, while it is shrinking its balance sheet by $40 billion per month, soon to be $50 billion per month.

How could the president take control? Bove explained:

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve is required to have seven members. It has three. Two of the current governors were put into their position by President Trump. Two more have been nominated by the president and are awaiting confirmation by the Senate. After these two are put on the Fed’s board, the president will then nominate two more to follow them. In essence, it is possible that six of the seven Board members will be put in place by Trump.

Those seven, along with five federal district bank presidents, compose the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets monetary policy; and one of those district bank presidents, Minnesota Fed head Neel Kashkari, is already arguing against further rate increases. Bove concluded:

The president can and will take control of the Fed. It may be recalled when the law was written creating the Federal Reserve the secretary of the Treasury was designated as the head of the Federal Reserve. We are going to return to that era.

Returning the Fed to Treasury control, however, means more than appointing new Board members. It means “nationalizing” the central bank, making it a public utility responsive to the needs of the public and the economy. And that means modifying the Federal Reserve Act to change the Fed’s mandate and tools.

The Controversial History of Central Bank Independence

Ever since the 1970s, the Fed and other central banks have insisted on their independence from political control. But according to Timothy Canova, Professor of Law and Public Finance at Nova Southeastern University, independence has really come to mean a central bank that has been captured by very large banking interests. It might be independent of oversight by politicians, but it is not a neutral arbiter. This has not always been the case. During the period coming out of the Great Depression, says Canova, the Fed as a practical matter was not independent but took its marching orders from the White House and the Treasury; and that period was the most successful in American economic history.

According to Bernard Lietaer, a former Belgian central banker who has written extensively on monetary innovation, the real job of central bankers today is to serve the banking system by keeping the debt machine going. He writes:

[W]e can produce more than enough food to feed everybody, and there is definitely enough work for everybody in the world, but there is clearly not enough money to pay for it all. The scarcity is in our national currencies. In fact, the job of central banks is to create and maintain that currency scarcity. The direct consequence is that we have to fight with each other in order to survive.

The rationale for central bank independence dates back to a bout in the 1970s of “stagflation” – rapidly rising prices along with stagnant productivity. The inflation surges were blamed on political pressure put on Fed Chairman Arthur Burns by the Nixon administration to follow easy-money policies. But the link between easy-money policies and inflation is not at all clear. The Japanese have had near-zero interest rates for two decades and cannot generate price inflation although they are trying to. An alternative explanation for the rising prices of the 1970s is that producers’ costs had gone up, largely from increased labor costs due to the strong bargaining power of unions and the skyrocketing cost of oil from an engineered 1973-74 oil crisis.

Fed policy nevertheless remains stuck on the “Quantity Theory of Money,” which says that increasing the money in the system will decrease the value of the currency, driving up prices. The theory omits the supply factor. As long as workers and materials are available, increasing “demand” (money) can generate the supply needed to meet that demand. Supply and demand increase together and prices remain stable. And while the speculative economy may be awash in money, today the local productive economy is suffering from a lack of demand. Consumers are short of funds and heavily in debt. Moreover, plenty of workers are available to generate the supply needed to meet any new demand (injection of money). According to John Williams at ShadowStats.com, the real unemployment figure as of April 2018, including long-term discouraged workers who were defined out of official existence in 1994, was 21.5 percent. Beyond that is the expanding labor potential of robots and computers. A vast workforce is thus available to fill the gap between supply and demand, allowing new money to be added to the productive economy.

But the Fed insists on “sterilizing” every purported effort to stimulate demand, by making sure the new money never gets into the real economy. The money produced through quantitative easing remains trapped on bank balance sheets, where the Fed pays interest on excess reserves, killing any incentive for the banks to lend even to other banks; and the central bank has now begun systematically returning even that money to its own balance sheet.

The High Price of Challenging the Fed

An article in The Economist on July 28, 2018, contends that Nixon was pressuring the Fed to make the economy look good for political purposes, and that Trump is following suit. But there is more to the Nixon story. In a 2010 book titled The American Caliphate, R. Duane Willing says the Nixon White House had quietly drafted and sponsored a Federal Charter Bill that would have changed U.S. financial history. Willing worked for the Federal Home Loan Bank Board during the Nixon era and was tasked with defining the system requirements that would make a central computerized checking account and loan system available to the new banking system. He writes:

Only John Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln and two other assassinated presidents, James Garfield and William McKinley, prior to Nixon, had actively contemplated changes of such magnitude in the U.S. financial system.

President Garfield observed that “whoever controls the volume of money in our country is absolute master of all industry and commerce . . . and when you realize that the entire money system is very easily controlled, one way or another by a few powerful men, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.”

. . . The hidden secret since the beginning of modern capitalism is that money is created and managed by bank control over checking accounts in the loan-making process.

Willing says Nixon was preparing the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to change the traditional role of American savings and loan associations, giving them money creation powers like the big Wall Street banks had, providing a full-service nationwide banking system. The national money supply would thus be regulated according to needs at the local level rather than dictated from the top by the central bank.  The proposed legislation provided for a separate central bank to backstop local credit unions and a much greater degree of competition for a wide array of financial services.

But Nixon’s plan for national finance, along with his plan for healthcare and a guaranteed income, alarmed the Wall Street/Federal Reserve power block, which Willing says was about to be challenged like never before. Nixon was obviously not blameless in the Watergate scandal, but Willing contends it was pushed by “the Wall Street Great Merchants as owners of the Senate,” who “were making certain that the money dreams of ‘Tricky Dick’ and his vision for the Republic protected with a network of converted Savings and Loan associations was doomed.”

An “Independent” Central Bank or a Public Central Bank?

Challenging the Fed is thus risky business, and the president should be given credit for taking it on. But if he is planning to change the makeup of the Federal Reserve Board, he needs to appoint people who understand that the way to jump-start the economy is to inject new money directly into it, not keep the money “sterilized” in fake injections that trap it on bank balance sheets until it can be reeled back in by the central bank. Interesting proposals for how the Fed could inject new money into the economy include making direct loans for infrastructure (as the Chinese central bank is doing), making low- or no-interest loans to state and local governments for infrastructure, or refinancing the federal debt interest-free.

Better than changing who is at the helm of the central bank would be to change the rules governing it, something only Congress can do. Putting the needs of the American people first, as Trump promised in his campaign speeches, means making the Fed serve Main Street rather than Wall Street.

• A previous version of this article was published at Truthdig.com

The MH370 Report

It does little to allay the grief of relatives and friends, but the MH370 report on the doomed, and ever spectral Malaysian passenger liner merely added smidgens of further speculation. The report from Malaysian authorities into the disappearance of the Boeing 777 on route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014 will do little to contain the fever that accompanies such stories of disappearance, with MH370’s vanishing deemed by The Washington Post “the biggest airplane mystery since the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.”

The Post has a point, and Earhart’s vanishing, along with navigator Fred Noonan over the Pacific in July 1937 during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe did prompt a costly effort to rival that of the fruitless search for MH370: a sixteen day, Presidentially mandated scouring of an area the size of Texas comprising nine vessels, four thousand crewmen, sixty-six aircraft and a bill of $4 million.

Kok Soo Chon, head of the MH370 safety investigation team, told a news conference on Monday that his team was “unable to determine the real cause for disappearance of MH370.” Such an answer would only be possible “if the wreckage is found”. Nor could his team “determine with any certainty the reasons that the aircraft diverted from its filed flight plan route.”

The chief investigator did dangle a few theories: there might have been interference from any one of the 237 people on the plane with the pilots. “We cannot establish if there was third partly involvement but we also cannot exclude unlawful third party interference.”

As for the pilots themselves: “We examined the pilot, the flight officer. We are quite satisfied with their background, with their training, with their mental health, mental state. We are not of the opinion that it could have been an event committed by the pilot.”

That said, there was an undeniable fact: “that there was an air turnback. We cannot deny the fact that, as we have analysed, the systems were manually turned off with intent or otherwise.” Tantalisingly, the motives are left to be pondered over, built upon and inflated.

Agency, in short, is everything; and speculation about how that agency manifested itself has been frenetic and rife. Pilots Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid have furnished investigators and conspiracy theorists over the years ample, if somewhat indigestible fodder. The MH370 investigation team preferred a different diet of solids. The rest have been left to fill in the blanks.

The captain had certainly done his bit to excite various opinions, with Malaysian police documents suggesting that he had been practising a “suicide route” on his home flight simulator. But as ever, the police were simply patching together scenarios rather than accepting them. The Australian was more brazen: Zaharie had hijacked the plane, locked the co-pilot out, depressurised the plane only to then re-pressurize it before landing gracefully upon the waters of the southern Indian Ocean then sinking it.

Such pictures of horrifying finality are always sealed by theories of the mandatory cover-up. In Earhart’s case, one catchy, and very elastic version, is that US Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal felt disposed to conceal the destruction of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E at Aslito Field on Saipan in 1944. The aeronautical beast, so goes this theory, survived its occupants. Destroying the beast would destroy speculation.

Forrestal’s diaries remain silent on the issue, but this did not discourage the idea that Japanese forces might have been responsible for doing away with the two flyers in an act of blood lust. This, suggest Thomas E. Devine and Richard M. Daley in The Amelia Earhart Incident, could well have been a pre-war Japanese atrocity against Earhart and Noonan, who “conceivably flew hundreds of miles off course and might well have observed forbidden military preparations in the Japanese Mandates.” Forrestal, being savvy to a post-war order where Japanese assistance would be needed to counter the communist menace, kept mum on the whole affair.

Those working for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau have been irritated with the cover-up narrative regarding MH370, breaking their silence this year. “There’s no earthly reason,” claimed an agitated Peter Foley, “why someone in control of an aircraft would exhaust its fuel and then attempt to glide it when they have the option of ditching.”

The authorities, however, have not covered themselves in professional, well-regarded glory. The Ministry of Transport did not see fit to have representatives to answer questions from family members. The report is also silent on the foot-dragging. It took hours before any interest was taken in pursuing the flight. When a search did commence, eight days were wasted in a mistaken spot. Then came 1,605 days of waiting for an unsatisfactory 449 page report.

Left with such questions, those seeking answers have filled the void of grief with legal actions and repeated promptings for clarification. Voice 370, a group claiming to represent the victims’ relatives, is keen to identify “any possible falsification or elimination of records related to MH370 and its maintenance.” The legend, agonisingly unresolved, will only proliferate in form and versions, aided by Kok’s own observation this was not “the final report. It would be presumptuous of us to say it is.”

Meet VIAB: Virginia’s Taxpayer-Funded Israel Lobby

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The Virginia-Israel Advisory Board VIAB has one key difference with scores of privately funded state chambers of commerce created to foster closer economic integration between the United States and Israel while supporting the Israeli government’s policy agenda.

Originally created by an uncodified act in 2001, VIAB has been funded by Commonwealth of Virginia taxpayers. Its charter is to “advise the Governor on ways to improve economic and cultural links between the Commonwealth and the State of Israel, with a focus on the areas of commerce and trade, art and education, and general government.” VIAB is a pilot for how Israel can quietly obtain taxpayer funding and official status for networked entities that advance Israel from within key state governments.

According to emails recently released under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, VIAB’s lofty claims about creating Virginia jobs and mutually beneficial business opportunities faced growing skepticism inside the governor’s office. VIAB also uses state resources to fight Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. BDS is a nonviolent movement to pressure Israel to stop violating Palestinian human rights. VIAB faced intense scrutiny over its handling of funds by the Virginia State Attorney General. Resistance to public scrutiny and oversight led VIAB to lobby for more "independence" from the governor in early 2018. This move sounded alarm bells at another Israel advocacy organization which feared that VIAB could face public backlash.

VIAB’s charter severely restricts who can exercise power on its board to the state Israel advocacy community. By law 13 of the 29-citizen members of the VIAB board had to be drawn from four Virginia-based Jewish community federations. Like other such federations across the nation, Virginia’s are heavily involved in advocating for Israel, fundraising and hosting candidate forums. In 2017 tax filings, the four federations that provide board members to VIAB raised a combined $20 million in tax exempt funding. Like other federations, these charities uniformly claimed to the IRS that they did not engage in any lobbying activities.

Early in 2018, the federations that staff VIAB (PDF) attempted to ram through a series of controversial changes to Virginia K-12 textbooks with the help of an outside Israel advocacy organization, the "Institute for Curriculum Services." The proposed edits to McGraw Hill, Prentice Hall, National Geographic and other publisher textbooks demanded they teach that Israel does not occupy any foreign territory and that Arabs alone were responsible for all crisis initiation in Middle East conflicts, among other dubious claims. When the stealth campaign was disclosed, it provoked an immediate "campaign for textbook accuracy" from the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights alongside prominent state educators. VCHR is a coalition of 16 organizations representing 8,000 Virginians.

VIAB makes aggressive claims about the return on investment it brings to Virginia’s economy, which are then trumpeted and celebrated by the local federations. One 2010 claim asserted "VIAB has added approximately 1,134 new jobs Virginia’s workforce that in turn have generated an estimated $38.4 million in state tax revenues over the past 10 years," while complaining about a cut that brought VIAB’s state budget "below $130,000." However, few of VIAB’s major initiatives have panned out.

VIAB’s work to bring Israeli airline El Al Dulles-to-Tel Aviv nonstop flights produced nothing after a decade of announcements, online petitions and $300 million investment infrastructure forecasts. In May of 2018, VIAB lamented that despite a visit by Governor McAuliffe to El Al headquarters in Israel, Dulles airport had been passed over in favor of San Francisco and Miami for El Al’s "next direct flights." VIAB lobbying campaigns, meetings, state visits and petitions could apparently not overcome lack of market demand.

VIAB maintains a veil of secrecy over some of its projects. In 2013, the VIAB board gave an aquaculture project the code name "Project Jonah" stating that "All Board members are asked to refer to the project by this code name. Leaked information could jeopardize funding opportunities from the State.”

Obtaining massive state and other local funding for Israeli projects is undeniably VIAB’s principal objective. VIAB boasted in 2015 that "Project Jonah has secured a $10 million grant conditional on meeting certain benchmarks including matching private funds. Other funds of at least $1 million have also been awarded in Tazewell County and additionally Virginia Tech was involved in securing $500,000 from Federal and local sources for R&D." Documents reveal some VIAB board members have business ties to the Israel projects for which funding is sought. However, the profile of Israeli activity in Virginia also reveals the success of BDS. Few Israeli companies risk boycotts through greenfield foreign direct investment in Virginia by operating subsidiaries under their own Israeli parent organization. Instead, most attempt to license technology or engage in joint ventures with U.S. companies

VIAB thrived during Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration (2014-2018). Among McAuliffe’s most generous out of state campaign contributors were Israel boosters Haim Saban and J.B. Pritzker. McAuliffe was a regular at off-the-record "no press allowed" appearances before Israel advocacy organizations where he was encouraged to talk about "the Virginia Advisory Board and its successes" But internal emails reveal how VIAB chafed under open meeting and sunshine laws and the commonwealth’s financial reins even under McAuliffe. After the governor’s office became skeptical about VIAB’s operations, VIAB deployed a strategy used for decades by Israel affinity organizations in crisis such as the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA): a complete reconstitution.

Before stepping down at the end of the McAuliffe administration in January, Virginia Secretary of Commerce Todd Patterson Haymore complained in a private email (PDF) about VIAB’s job creation claims. "I can’t argue with the short annual report where they stated they helped create 127 jobs/$436k tax dollars; however, the annual report is likely the most inflated without merit that I’ve seen in my decade here."

VIAB’s taxpayer funded anti-BDS lobbying inside the governor’s office blossomed. At a July 26, 2016 meeting at the state capitol, VIAB worked to implement a legislative version of the State of New York’s anti-boycott executive order. The Virginia General Assembly subsequently passed resolution HJ 177 which claimed that the BDS movement was hampering peace and preventing negotiations while claiming boycotts are not a legitimate accountability tactic. Across the nation, such Anti-boycott laws and resolutions have similarly passed with few organizations or entities claiming any financial role in lobbying for their passage. There may be a reason for the stealthy approach. Polling indicates most Americans oppose new US laws banning boycotts as a response to Israel’s human rights abuses.

The VIAB came under the scrutiny of the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council, when in July of 2017 VIAB handed departing executive director Ralph Robbins a check from the Virginia Israel Foundation. VIAB claimed the cash was not unlawful outside compensation or a bonus for a job well done, but rather a "farewell gift." (PDF)

The Virginia Office of the Attorney General issued on May 22, 2017 a secret letter to the VIAB "regarding the selection and appointment of the position of Executive Director of the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board." The VIAB apparently considered the letter a challenge to its authority to pick and install its own executive director without the governor’s interference. VIAB had already begun searching for a "suitable" successor executive director to Robbins by posting job descriptions on Israel advocacy organization websites.

In early 2018, VIAB shaped (PDF) and monitored HB1297, a new law designed to "keep the VIAB independent" by transferring funding and oversight of VIAB from the office of the governor to Virginia’s legislature and reducing the number of gubernatorial appointments from 13 to five.

After passage, the VIAB hoped it would gain the authority to hire its own staff (under the old authorizing law, the Office of the Governor served "as staff to the Board.") VIAB would also no longer be subject to the governor’s oversight via control of the purse strings. VIAB chairman Norm Chaskin explained in a January 25, 2018 email (PDF) that the bill "adds back the requirement that the Governor and all other agencies shall assist the [VIAB] Board upon request…We believe this will accomplish what we have been talking about in our Board meeting for the last couple of years….Adding the word ‘independent’…shows that we are not part of any other agency or government office, which was the original idea in establishing the board."

This VIAB independence did not include severing its state funding, since the legislation as proposed by VIAB (PDF) required, "all members shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties…"

The VIAB’s move worried the Jewish Community Relations Council for Greater Washington’s executive committee, which warned via email (PDF) that "the request to grant Virginia’s Israel development activities special status, status that no other economic development group enjoys, may draw negative attention to VIAB and result in VIAB’s dissolution and absorption into Virginia’s greater economic development activities."

However, the bill reconstituting VIAB passed Virginia’s House and Senate on March 20, 2018. VIAB felt liberated and quickly filed to cover with state funds the expenses of its handpicked executive director and committed anti-BDS evangelist Dov Hoch’s travel amounting to"$1,500-$2,000" as he journeyed through Virginia to discuss VIAB with Virginia "Legislative Services" on his way back to Israel.

VIAB quietly operates as a taxpayer-funded lobbyist for a foreign country in the fifth most economically important state of the union. Whether VIAB ever faces the backlash feared by a fellow Israel advocacy organization may depend on the actions of vastly more representative Virginia-based grassroots organizations dedicated to conditioning state support for Israel on improving its deplorable human rights record.

Note: VIAB rebranded itself as the Virginia-Israel Advisory Authority as part of in its recent legislative reconstitution.

Grant F. Smith is the director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington and the author of the 2016 book, Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby moves America now available as an audiobook.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.

The Twilight of the War, by Thierry Meyssan

If we consider the war in Syria not as a singular event, but as the culmination of a world war which has persisted for a quarter of a century, we have to ask ourselves about the consequences of the imminent end of hostilities. Its completion marks the defeat of an ideology, that is to say globalisation and financial capitalism. The people who have not understood this, particularly in Western Europe, are defining their own exclusion from the rest of the world.

Charlottesville, Act II

The anniversary of the August 12, 2017 Charlottesville protest is coming up. It was on this day, so the story goes, that the left confronted the right over the right’s support for a statue of civil war general Robert E. Lee and a woman was killed by a white nationalist driving his car into a crowd of Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and other protestors.

Because applications by “Unite the Right” for a return to Charlottesville were turned down, the protest this year is scheduled for Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House in Washington. The ANSWER coalition, representing the left in the US who are to the left of mainstream Democrats, has called for an all-day “mass action” against Unite the Right, under the slogan, “NO Nazis, NO KKK in D.C.”

Many of the events in our world today are not what they appear to be. “We create our own reality,” said a senior Bush administration official. After September 11, 2001, it’s not clear why anyone would believe the official story about any of the many political atrocities that have taken place in the world. But they do, because 99% of the news they read is controlled, and very little skeptical independent journalism is seen. Though some people may indeed have been beaten and injured in Charlottesville last year, the central action was probably staged.

Evidence of this is that alt right and leftist activists are said to have gotten off the same buses when they arrived in Charlottesville. The police were told to do absolutely nothing to stop Antifa from attacking white nationalists. Two different versions appeared of the Dodge Challenger which allegedly drove into the protest. The driver of the Challenger didn’t look like the same person who was later arrested. There was no blood visible at the site of the alleged homicide, where the alleged victim was supposedly mashed between two cars. One young man shown in the official video being flung up into the air by the speeding Challenger was seen in other footage hanging out comfortably afterward at the sidelines. He appeared to be a stunt man. There were examples overall of poor acting by apparent crisis actors.

Are we really being threatened by the Nazis and KKK or is this a factitious narrative in a greater drama called “Divide and Conquer”? When the KKK actually was active, half their members were FBI infiltrators. If the so-called neo-Nazis didn’t exist, organizations like the Anti Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center would have had to invent them. And perhaps they did. How are those in power going to divert us from their massive, worldwide crimes if they don’t have domestic populations occupied with scary villains? Nazis and Klansmen certainly fit the bill.

But there seems to be a lack of people willing to play the villain roles. A case in point was a rally against the right in Boston, also last August, in which an estimated 40,000 people came to shut down a conservative right speaking event at Boston Common which brought in twenty to thirty people, who ended up not even being conservatives. They carried signs saying “Stop Monsanto” and “Black Lives Do Matter” and featured an India-American speaker condemning corporate rule and supporting freedom of speech. Some of the participants were women dressed up in what looked like fairy costumes. Until the event was cut short, a constant roar of denunciation came from the massive surrounding protest. It was probably the most ridiculous demonstration in the history of liberal Boston.

It appears that the left is suffering from the same self-righteousness and delusion exhibited by the Democrats who have been howling about Russia. The Russia-is-our-enemy narrative was made up of whole cloth. It is a staged drama being pieced out to us week after week like episodes of a TV series. It is not based in reality. The Democrats have their Russians, the leftists have their Nazis. The more unlikely the narrative, the more authoritarian the narrator becomes, until he decides for us what speech is acceptable, and what speech should be actively attacked.

“Unite the Right” estimates that their event will bring 400 people to Lafayette Park on August 12. Why does ANSWER feel that this rally, even if it is what it claims to be, is something that calls for “mass action”? What about a mass action to stop the provably dangerous people known to be active and holding actual power in other places in Washington D.C.? These people are threatening war with Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea all at the same time. They are the people who have been enabling Zionist genocide in Palestine, the people who destroyed Libya, the people who are encouraging Saudi Arabia’s decimation of Yemen, the people who funded ISIS in Syria, the people who invaded and destroyed Iraq, the people who have ravaged Afghanistan for 17 straight years, the people trying to destabilize Nicaragua and Venezuela, the people who let Puerto Rico hang out to dry, the people who organized the racist prison and judicial system.

Why has it fallen to the left to now be opponents of free speech, and to be diverted by a miniscule constituency on the right? If left leaders in groups like ANSWER are not indeed witting participants in a fictional script, this is more than pathetic. ANSWER has had nothing to say about who carried out 9-11. Why? This, the biggest of all the staged events in the century, has led to one war after another in a plan laid out by American neo-conservatives representing Israel. Year after year, the US has been funding and fighting wars against not its own but Israel’s enemies, killing, displacing, and immiserating millions of people. Is this really the time to be chasing FBI agents masquerading as Nazis around Lafayette Park?

Politics today are increasingly based on a fabric of lies which, once accepted, become the basis for further lies, so that we are no longer dealing in reality — we are many steps removed from reality, acting out a play in a theater of the absurd. The sooner we stop our consent for this absurdity, the sooner the monstrous play will end.

Canada’s Military recruits Indigenous Youth

Is the Canadian military a friend and ally of First Nations or an exploiter and repressor?

The military’s immense resources and cultural clout certainly enables it to attract indigenous youth to become soldiers. But First Nations have more reason than most to be wary of the Canadian Forces (CF).

A recent Ipolitics story titled “This is where I need to be’: Indigenous military summer programs ‘fantastic’ for young recruits” detailed the CF’s recruitment of Indigenous youth. The article quoted 19-year old Private Brandon Julian saying, “I love Canada … I want to serve this country.”

The story described the Bold Eagle, Raven and Black Bear leadership and training programs for 18-25-year-olds from reserves. Partnering with the Saskatchewan Indian Veteran’s Association and Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, the CF launched Bold Eagle three decades ago. It’s a three or four day “culture camp” conducted by First Nations elders “followed by a military recruit training course.”

Receiving input from its Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group, the CF operates various programs focused on Indigenous youth. CF recruiters participate in National Aboriginal Day events and oversee the Aboriginal Entry Plan, a three-week training. In 1971 the CF introduced the Northern Native Entry Program and the military funded Cadet Corps has long worked with band councils and schools on reserves.

The CF has organized international Indigenous exchanges. In 2015 the military sent twelve members of the Northern Canadian Indigenous Sovereignty Patrol and Surveillance Unit to Australia for a series of trainings and events with the largely aboriginal NORFORCE. Canadian Defence Advisor to Australia Colonel Acton Kilby, Canadian Aboriginal Veterans Association President Richard Blackwolf and former Indigenous NHL player Reggie Leach were part of the delegation.

A number of monuments, usually supported by Veteran Affairs, honour First Nations veterans. In Batoche, Saskatchewan, the Métis Veterans Memorial Monument is dedicated to those who “served alongside other Canadian servicemen and servicewomen in the South African War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and in each of the efforts since then to defend our country and contribute to international peace and security.” For its part, the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument in Ottawa says it was “raised in sacred and everlasting honour of the contributions of all Aboriginal Canadians in war and peacekeeping operations.” Apparently, it’s the only official monument in Ottawa commemorating Indigenous peoples or history.

A growing number of landmarks bear the names of Indigenous soldiers. The third Canadian Ranger patrol group headquarters, a monument at CFB Borden and a Parry Sound statue are dedicated to top World War I indigenous sniper Francis Pegahmagabow. World War II and Korea veteran Tommy Prince has a statue, school, street, drill hall, CF base, two educational scholarships and a cadet corps named in his honour.

The CF, government commissions and Indigenous veterans’ associations, often backed by Veteran Affairs, have also produced much laudatory literature on aboriginal veterans. A dozen books and theses, as well as hundreds of articles, detailing First Nations’ contribution to Canadian/British wars mostly echo the military’s perspective of those conflicts.

But, a critical look at the historical record suggests Canadian militarism has, in fact, been a primary tool of the colonial project to steal Indigenous land and enforce settler control. The CF grew out of the British force that conquered large swaths of this land. The ‘father’ of Canada’s army, Lieutenant-Colonel William D. Otter led a force that attacked Cree and Assiniboine warriors in 1885 near Battleford, Saskatchewan, in the Battle of Cut Knife. Without orders to do so, Otter asked permission to “punish [Cree leader] Poundmaker.” As such, the Montreal Daily Star coined the term “Otterism” as a “synonym for merciless repression.”

During the past century the military has expropriated a great deal of Indigenous land for its bases. The most infamous example is Stoney Point, near Sarnia, Ontario, which after a half century of military occupation led to the Ipperwash Crisis in which the Ontario Provincial Police killed Ojibway protester Dudley George.

From low-flying jets in Labrador to DEW Line waste, First Nations have borne a disproportionate share of the military’s ecological footprint. Brian Lloyd, a former British Army bomb-disposal expert who cleaned up Canadian sites, told the New York Times: “In Canada, the military acted like a giant, using Indian land like stepping stones across the country. You find an Indian nation, and you find range contamination.”

Despite claiming not to spy on Canadians, the CF continues to monitor Indigenous dissent. Between 2010 and mid-2011 the CF’s National Counter-Intelligence Unit produced at least eight reports concerning indigenous organizations. In Policing Indigenous Movements Andrew Crosby and Jeffrey Monaghan document their surveillance of 2012-13 Idle No More protests and the CF’s National Counter-Intelligence Unit also monitored the 2013 Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking camp in Elsipogtog, New Brunswick.

Does it make sense for Indigenous youth to participate in the repression of their communities?

The CF’s glorification of First Nations military participation should not confuse people about the Canadian Forces’ role in enforcing the imperial order here and abroad.

Canada’s Military recruits Indigenous Youth

Is the Canadian military a friend and ally of First Nations or an exploiter and repressor?

The military’s immense resources and cultural clout certainly enables it to attract indigenous youth to become soldiers. But First Nations have more reason than most to be wary of the Canadian Forces (CF).

A recent Ipolitics story titled “This is where I need to be’: Indigenous military summer programs ‘fantastic’ for young recruits” detailed the CF’s recruitment of Indigenous youth. The article quoted 19-year old Private Brandon Julian saying, “I love Canada … I want to serve this country.”

The story described the Bold Eagle, Raven and Black Bear leadership and training programs for 18-25-year-olds from reserves. Partnering with the Saskatchewan Indian Veteran’s Association and Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, the CF launched Bold Eagle three decades ago. It’s a three or four day “culture camp” conducted by First Nations elders “followed by a military recruit training course.”

Receiving input from its Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group, the CF operates various programs focused on Indigenous youth. CF recruiters participate in National Aboriginal Day events and oversee the Aboriginal Entry Plan, a three-week training. In 1971 the CF introduced the Northern Native Entry Program and the military funded Cadet Corps has long worked with band councils and schools on reserves.

The CF has organized international Indigenous exchanges. In 2015 the military sent twelve members of the Northern Canadian Indigenous Sovereignty Patrol and Surveillance Unit to Australia for a series of trainings and events with the largely aboriginal NORFORCE. Canadian Defence Advisor to Australia Colonel Acton Kilby, Canadian Aboriginal Veterans Association President Richard Blackwolf and former Indigenous NHL player Reggie Leach were part of the delegation.

A number of monuments, usually supported by Veteran Affairs, honour First Nations veterans. In Batoche, Saskatchewan, the Métis Veterans Memorial Monument is dedicated to those who “served alongside other Canadian servicemen and servicewomen in the South African War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and in each of the efforts since then to defend our country and contribute to international peace and security.” For its part, the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument in Ottawa says it was “raised in sacred and everlasting honour of the contributions of all Aboriginal Canadians in war and peacekeeping operations.” Apparently, it’s the only official monument in Ottawa commemorating Indigenous peoples or history.

A growing number of landmarks bear the names of Indigenous soldiers. The third Canadian Ranger patrol group headquarters, a monument at CFB Borden and a Parry Sound statue are dedicated to top World War I indigenous sniper Francis Pegahmagabow. World War II and Korea veteran Tommy Prince has a statue, school, street, drill hall, CF base, two educational scholarships and a cadet corps named in his honour.

The CF, government commissions and Indigenous veterans’ associations, often backed by Veteran Affairs, have also produced much laudatory literature on aboriginal veterans. A dozen books and theses, as well as hundreds of articles, detailing First Nations’ contribution to Canadian/British wars mostly echo the military’s perspective of those conflicts.

But, a critical look at the historical record suggests Canadian militarism has, in fact, been a primary tool of the colonial project to steal Indigenous land and enforce settler control. The CF grew out of the British force that conquered large swaths of this land. The ‘father’ of Canada’s army, Lieutenant-Colonel William D. Otter led a force that attacked Cree and Assiniboine warriors in 1885 near Battleford, Saskatchewan, in the Battle of Cut Knife. Without orders to do so, Otter asked permission to “punish [Cree leader] Poundmaker.” As such, the Montreal Daily Star coined the term “Otterism” as a “synonym for merciless repression.”

During the past century the military has expropriated a great deal of Indigenous land for its bases. The most infamous example is Stoney Point, near Sarnia, Ontario, which after a half century of military occupation led to the Ipperwash Crisis in which the Ontario Provincial Police killed Ojibway protester Dudley George.

From low-flying jets in Labrador to DEW Line waste, First Nations have borne a disproportionate share of the military’s ecological footprint. Brian Lloyd, a former British Army bomb-disposal expert who cleaned up Canadian sites, told the New York Times: “In Canada, the military acted like a giant, using Indian land like stepping stones across the country. You find an Indian nation, and you find range contamination.”

Despite claiming not to spy on Canadians, the CF continues to monitor Indigenous dissent. Between 2010 and mid-2011 the CF’s National Counter-Intelligence Unit produced at least eight reports concerning indigenous organizations. In Policing Indigenous Movements Andrew Crosby and Jeffrey Monaghan document their surveillance of 2012-13 Idle No More protests and the CF’s National Counter-Intelligence Unit also monitored the 2013 Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking camp in Elsipogtog, New Brunswick.

Does it make sense for Indigenous youth to participate in the repression of their communities?

The CF’s glorification of First Nations military participation should not confuse people about the Canadian Forces’ role in enforcing the imperial order here and abroad.