All posts by Greg Maybury

Inside the Submissive Void: Propaganda, Censorship, Power, and Control

Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers.

— David Hume, “Of the First Principles of Government”, 1768.

Brief: The use of propaganda and censorship is more frequently associated with totalitarian, corrupt and/or despotic regimes, not modern democracies in the West. Yet the history of how western governments and their ever vigilant overlords in the media, financial and business spheres have controlled the political narrative of the time via these means is a long, storied and ruinous one, going back well before 1914. Along with serving the contemporaneous political objectives of its perpetrators as contrived, such activities often continue to inform our understanding, and cement our interpretation, of history. If as the saying goes, “history repeats itself”, we need look no further as to the main reason why. In this wide ranging ‘safari’ into the disinformation, myth-making, fake news wilderness—aka The Big Shill—Greg Maybury concludes that “It’s the narrative, stupid!”

Controlling the Proles

The following yarn may be apocryphal, but either way the ‘moral of the fable’ should serve our narrative well. The story goes like this: sometime during the height of the Cold War a group of American journalists were hosting a visit to the U.S. of some of their Soviet counterparts. After allowing their visitors some time to soak up the media zeitgeist stateside, most of the Americans expected their guests to express unbridled envy at the professional liberties they enjoyed in the Land of the Free Press.

One of the Russian scribes was indeed compelled to express his unabashed ‘admiration’ to his hosts…in particular, for the “far superior quality” of American “propaganda“. Now it’s fair to say his hosts were taken aback by what was at best a backhanded compliment. After some collegial ‘piss-taking’ about the stereotypes associated with Western “press freedom” versus those of the controlled media in the Soviet system, one of the Americans called on their Russian colleague to explain what he meant. In fractured English, he replied with the following:

It’s very simple. In Soviet Union, we don’t believe our propaganda. In America, you actually believe yours!

As highly amusing as this anecdote is, it masks a disturbing reality—the Russian journo’s jibe doesn’t simply remain true now; that ‘belief’ has become even more delusional, farcical, and above all, dangerous. One suspects that Russian journos today would think much the same. And in few cases has the “delusional”, “farcical”, and “dangerous” nature of this conviction been more evident than with the West’s continued provocations of Russia, with “Skripalgate” in Old Blighty (see here, and here), and “Russia-Gate” stateside (see here, and here) being prime, though far from the only, exemplars we might point to.

Of course, just recently we were all subjected to the ludicrous dog n’ pony show that was the much touted London “media freedom” conference, organised under the auspices of the so-called Media Freedom Coalition (MFC), a UK/Canadian ‘initiative’. As the name suggested, this was the establishment’s lip-service effort to be seen to be supporting or ‘defending’ media freedom, and initiating strategies and frameworks for the ‘protection’ of journalists. For my part I can’t recall another recent event that so perfectly embraced the Orwellian playbook, absent any hint of irony or embarrassment from the parties involved.

To illustrate, after noting that ‘the world is becoming a more hostile place’ for journalists, the MFC website then righteously intones:….’[they face dangers beyond warzones and extremism, including increasing intolerance to independent reporting, populism, rampant corruption, crime, and the breakdown of law and order….’. The cynic might be tempted to add: ‘And that’s just in our Western democracies!’

And who can forget the fatuous “integrity initiative” that preceded it, whose lofty ambitions aimed to ‘defend democracy against disinformation’? This is elite code for limiting free speech, already happening at a rate of knots, with the powers that be ‘setting up new perimeters’ online and offline. The prevailing efforts by a range of people to make it a crime to criticise Israel or boycott the country is arguably the most insidious, egregious example. As well, the attempts by the MSM to designate genuine, independent analysis by alternative media as “fake news” is another one.

Such is the sophistication and ubiquity of the narrative control techniques used today—afforded increasingly by ‘computational propaganda’ via automated scripts, hacking, botnets, troll farms, and algorithms and the like, along with the barely veiled censorship and information gatekeeping practised by Google and Facebook and other tech behemoths—it’s become one of the most troubling aspects of the technological/social media revolution. (See also here, here, here, and here.)

Notably, the MFC conference came and went after organisers saw fit to exclude legitimate Russian news outlets RT and Sputnik, an ideological ‘fashion statement’ thoroughly at odds with the purported premise upon which it was instigated. Moreover, there was little mention of the ‘elephant in the room’ Julian Assange—the person who embodies foremost the disconnect between the practice and the preaching of Western media freedom, to say little of underscoring the irony, self-serving opportunism, and double standards that frequently attend any mainstream debate about what it actually means.

Put bluntly, “media freedom” in the West is increasingly ‘more honoured in the breach than in the observance’, with the London confab all about keeping up appearances to the contrary, an event we might say was conceived of by soulless, demented, establishment shills, ‘…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’. The surreal spectacle, though, must have induced cognitive dissonance even amongst the pundits, and many head-shaking moments for Assange supporters and genuine truth-seekers alike.

As for Wikileaks and Assange himself, it’s worth noting the attitude of the national security state toward him. After accusing Assange of being a “narcissist”, “fraud”, and “a coward”, and labelling WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared he [Assange] was eager to do the bidding of Russia and other American adversaries.Either way, his comments can be taken as more or less representative of Beltway and broader Western opinion, including in my own country Australia. Along with noting that official Washington’s hatred of Assange ‘borders on rabid’, Ted Carpenter offered the following:

[Assange] symbolizes a crucial fight over freedom of the press and the ability of journalists to expose government misconduct without fear of prosecution. Unfortunately, a disturbing number of “establishment” journalists in the United States seem willing—indeed, eager—to throw him to the government wolves.

Lapdogs for the Government

Here was, of course, another surreal spectacle, this time courtesy of one of the Deep State’s most dangerous, reviled, and divisive figures, a notable protagonist in the Russia-Gate conspiracy, and America’s most senior diplomat no less. Not only is it difficult to accept that the former CIA Director actually believes what he is saying, well might we ask, “Who can believe Mike Pompeo?”

And here’s also someone whose manifest cynicism, hypocrisy, and chutzpah would embarrass the much derided scribes and Pharisees of Biblical days. We have Pompeo on record recently in a rare moment of honesty admitting—whilst laughing his ample ass off it should be noted, as if he was recalling some “Boy’s Own Adventure” from his misspent youth with a bunch of his mates down at the local pub—that under his watch as CIA Director, ‘…We lied, cheated, we stole…we had entire training courses.’ It may have been one of the few times in his wretched existence that Pompeo didn’t speak with a forked tongue.

At all events, his candour aside, we can assume safely that this reactionary, monomaniacal, Christian Zionist ‘end-timer’ passed all the Company’s “training courses” with flying colours. According to Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times, all this did not stop Pompeo, however, from name-checking Wikileaks when it served his own interests. Back in 2016 at the height of the election campaign, he had ‘no compunction…about pointing people toward emails stolen by Russian hackers from the Democratic National Committee and then posted by WikiLeaks.

And this is, of course, The Company we’re talking about, whose past and present relationship with the media might be summed up in two words: Operation Mockingbird (OpMock). Anyone vaguely familiar with the well-documented Grand Deception that was OpMock, arguably the CIA’s most enduring, insidious, and successful psy-ops gambit, will know what we’re talking about. (See here, here, here, and here.) At its most basic, this operation was all about propaganda and censorship, usually operating in tandem to ensure all the bases are covered.

After opining that the MSM is ‘totally infiltrated’ by the CIA and various other agencies, for his part former NSA whistleblower William Binney recently added, ‘When it comes to national security, the media only talk about what the administration wants you to hear, and basically suppress any other statements about what’s going on that the administration does not want get public. The media is basically the lapdogs for the government.’ Even the redoubtable William Casey, Ronald Reagan’s CIA Director back in the day was reported to have said something along the following lines: We know our disinformation program is complete when almost everything the American public believes is false.’

In order to provide a broader and deeper perspective, we should now consider the views of a few others on the subjects at hand, along with some history. In a 2013 piece musing on the modern significance of the practice, my compatriot John Pilger recalled a time when he met Leni Riefenstahl back in 70s and asked her about her films that ‘glorified the Nazis’. Using groundbreaking camera and lighting techniques, Riefenstahl produced a documentary that mesmerized Germans; as Pilger noted, her Triumph of the Will ‘cast Adolf Hitler’s spell’. She told the veteran Aussie journalist the “messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above”, but on the “submissive void” of the German public.

All in all, Riefenstahl produced arguably for the rest of the world the most compelling historical footage of mass hysteria, blind obedience, nationalistic fervour, and existential menace, all key ingredients in anyone’s totalitarian nightmare. That it also impressed a lot of very powerful, high profile people in the West on both sides of the pond is also axiomatic: These included bankers, financiers, industrialists, and sundry business elites without whose support Hitler might’ve at best ended up a footnote in the historical record after the ill-fated beer-hall putsch. (See here, and here.)

Triumph” apparently still resonates today. To the surprise of few one imagines, such was the impact of the filmas casually revealed in the excellent 2018 Alexis Bloom documentary Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailesit elicited no small amount of admiration from arguably the single most influential propagandist of recent times. (Ed. Note: Readers might wish to check out Russell Crowe’s recent portrayal of Ailes in Stan’s mini-series The Loudest Voice, in my view one the best performances of the man’s career.)

In a recent piece unambiguously titled “Propaganda Is The Root Of All Our Problems”, my other compatriot Caitlin Johnstone also had a few things to say about the subject, echoing Orwell when she observed it was all about “controlling the narrative”. Though I’d suggest the greater “root” problem is our easy propensity to ignore this reality, pretend it doesn’t or won’t affect us, or reject it as conspiratorial nonsense, in this, of course, she’s correct. As she cogently observes:

I write about this stuff for a living, and even I don’t have the time or energy to write…about every single narrative control tool that the US-centralized empire has been implementing into its arsenal. There are too damn many of them emerging too damn fast, because they’re just that damn crucial for maintaining existing power structures.

The Discreet Use of Censorship and Uniformed Men

It is hardly surprising that those who hold power should seek to control the words and language people use’ said Canadian author John Ralston Saul in his 1993 book Voltaire’s Bastards–the Dictatorship of Reason in the West. Fittingly, in a discussion encompassing amongst other things history, language, power, and dissent, he opined, ‘Determining how individuals communicate is’…an objective which represents for the power elites ‘the best chance’ [they] have to control what people think. This translates as: The more control ‘we’ have over what the proles think, the more ‘we’ can reduce the inherent risk for elites in democracy.

Clumsy men’, Saul went on to say, ‘try to do this through power and fear. Heavy-handed men running heavy-handed systems attempt the same thing through police-enforced censorship. The more sophisticated the elites, the more they concentrate on creating intellectual systems which control expression through the communications structures. These systems require only the discreet use of censorship and uniformed men.’ In other words, along with assuming it is their right to take it in the first place, ‘those who take power will always try to change the established language’, presumably to better facilitate their hold on it and/or legitimise their claim to it.

For Oliver Boyd-Barrett, ‘democratic theory presupposes a public communications infrastructure that facilitates the free and open exchange of ideas.’  Yet for the author of the recently published RussiaGate and Propaganda: Disinformation in the Age of Social Media, ‘No such infrastructure exists.’ The mainstream media he says, is ‘owned and controlled by a small number of large, multi-media and multi-industrial conglomerates’ that lie at the very heart of US oligopoly capitalism and much of whose advertising revenue and content is furnished from other conglomerates:

The inability of mainstream media to sustain an information environment that can encompass histories, perspectives and vocabularies that are free of the shackles of US plutocratic self-regard is also well documented.

Of course, the word “inability” suggests the MSM view themselves as having some responsibility for maintaining such an egalitarian news and information environment. They don’t, of course, and in truth, probably never really have! A better word would be “unwilling”, or even “refusal”. The MSM all but epitomise the “plutocratic self-regard” that is characteristic of “oligopoly capitalism”. Indeed, the MSM collectively functions as advertising, public relations/lobbying entities for Big Corp, in addition to acting as its Praetorian bodyguard, protecting their secrets, crimes, and lies from exposure. Like all other companies they are beholden to their shareholders (profits before truth), most of whom it can safely be assumed are no strangers to “self-regard”, and could care less about “histories, perspectives and vocabularies” that run counter to their own interests.

It was Aussie social scientist Alex Carey who pioneered the study of nationalism, corporatism, and more so for our purposes herein, the management (read: manipulation) of public opinion, though all three have important links. For Carey, the following conclusion was inescapable: ‘It is arguable that the success of business propaganda in persuading us, for so long, that we are free from propaganda is one of the most significant propaganda achievements of the twentieth century.’ This former farmer from Western Australia became one of the world’s acknowledged experts on propaganda and the manipulation of the truth.

Prior to embarking on his academic career, Carey was a successful sheep grazier. By most accounts, he was a first-class judge of the animal from which he made his early living, leaving one to ponder if this expertise gave him a unique insight into his main area of research! In any event, Carey in time sold the farm and travelled to the U.K. to study psychology, apparently a long-time ambition. From the late fifties until his death in 1988, he was a senior lecturer in psychology and industrial relations at the Sydney-based University of New South Wales, with his research being lauded by such luminaries as Noam Chomsky and John Pilger, both of whom have had a thing or three to say over the years about The Big Shill. In fact, such was his admiration, Pilger described him as “a second Orwell”, which in anyone’s lingo is a big call.

Carey unfortunately died in 1988, interestingly the year that his more famous contemporaries Edward Herman and Chomsky’s book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media was published, the authors notably dedicating their book to him. Though much of his work remained unpublished at the time of his death, a book of Carey’s essaysTaking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty—was published posthumously in 1997. It remains a seminal work. In fact, for anyone with an interest in how public opinion is moulded and our perceptions are managed and manipulated, in whose interests they are done so and to what end, it is as essential reading as any of the work of other more famous names. This tome came complete with a foreword by Chomsky, so enamoured was the latter of Carey’s work.

For Carey, the three “most significant developments” in the political economy of the twentieth century were:

 a) the growth of democracy;

  1. b) the growth of corporate power; and
  2. c) the growth of propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.

Carey’s main focus was on the following:

  1. a) advertising and publicity devoted to the creation of artificial wants;
  2. b) the public relations and propaganda industry whose principal goal is the diversion to meaningless pursuits and control of the public mind; and
  3. c) the degree to which academia and the professions are under assault from private power determined to narrow the spectrum of thinkable (sic) thought.

For Carey, it is an axiom of conventional wisdom that the use of propaganda as a means of social and ideological control is ‘distinctive’ of totalitarian regimes. Yet as he stresses: the most minimal exercise of common sense would suggest a different view: that propaganda is likely to play at least as important a part in democratic societies (where the existing distribution of power and privilege is vulnerable to quite limited changes in popular opinion) as in authoritarian societies (where it is not).’ In this context, ‘conventional wisdom” becomes conventional ignorance; as for “common sense”, maybe not so much.

The purpose of this propaganda barrage, as Sharon Bader has noted, has been to convince as many people as possible that it is in their interests to relinquish their own power as workers, consumers, and citizens, and forego their democratic right to restrain and regulate business activity. As a result the political agenda is now…confined to policies aimed at furthering business interests.’

An extreme example of this view playing itself right under our noses and over decades was the cruel fiction of the “trickle down effect” (TDE)—aka the ‘rising tide that would lift all yachts’—of Reaganomics. One of several mantras that defined Reagan’s overarching political shtick, the TDE was by any measure, decidedly more a torrent than a trickle, and said “torrent” was going up not down.

This reality as we now know was not in Reagan’s glossy economic brochure to be sure, and it may have been because the Gipper confused his prepositions and verbs. Yet as the GFC of 2008 amply demonstrated, it culminated in a free-for all, dog eat dog, anything goes, every man for himself form of cannibal (or anarcho) capitalism—an updated, much improved version of the no-holds-barred mercenary mercantilism much reminiscent of the era of the Gilded Age and the Robber Barons who ‘infested’ it, only one that doesn’t just eat its young, it eats itself!

Making the World Safe for Plutocracy

In the increasingly dysfunctional political economy we inhabit then, whether it’s widgets or wars or anything in between, few people realise the degree to which our opinions, perceptions, emotions, and views are shaped and manipulated by propaganda (and its similarly ‘evil twin’ censorship,) its most adept practitioners, and those elite, institutional, political, and corporate entities that seek out their expertise.

It is now just over a hundred years since the practice of propaganda took a giant leap forward, then in the service of persuading palpably reluctant Americans that the war raging in Europe at the time was their war as well. This was at a time when Americans had just voted their then president Woodrow Wilson back into office for a second term, a victory largely achieved on the back of the promise he’d “keep us out of the War.” Americans were very much in what was one of their most isolationist phases, and so Wilson’s promise resonated with them.

But over time they were convinced of the need to become involved by a distinctly different appeal to their political sensibilities. This “appeal” also dampened the isolationist mood, one which it has to be said was not embraced by most of the political, banking, and business elites of the time, most of whom stood to lose big-time if the Germans won, and/or who were already profiting or benefitting from the business of war.

For a president who “kept us out of the war”, this wasn’t going to be an easy ‘pitch’. In order to sell the war the president established the Committee on Public Information (aka the Creel Committee) for the purposes of publicising the rationale for the war and from there, garnering support for it from the general public. Enter Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, who’s generally considered to be the father of modern public relations. In his film Rule from the Shadows: The Psychology of Power, Aaron Hawkins says Bernays was influenced by people such as Gustave le Bon, Walter Lippman, and Wilfred Trotter, as much, if not more so, than his famous uncle. Either way, Bernays ‘combined their perspectives and synthesised them into an applied science’, which he then ‘branded’ “public relations”.

For its part the Creel committee struggled with its brief from the off; but Bernays worked with them to persuade Americans their involvement in the war was justified—indeed necessary—and to that end he devised the brilliantly inane slogan, “making the world safe for democracy“. Thus was born arguably the first great propaganda catch-phrases of the modern era, and certainly one of the most portentous. The following sums up Bernays’s unabashed mindset:

The conscious, intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

The rest is history (sort of), with Americans becoming more willing to not just support the war effort but encouraged to view the Germans and their allies as evil brutes threatening democracy and freedom and the ‘American way of life’, however that might’ve been viewed then. From a geopolitical and historical perspective, it was an asinine premise, of course, but nonetheless an extraordinary example of how a few well chosen words tapped into the collective psyche of a country that was decidedly opposed to any U.S involvement in the war and turned that mindset completely on its head. ‘[S]aving the world for democracy’ (or some ‘cover version’ thereof) has since become America’s positioning statement, ‘patriotic’ rallying cry, and the “Get out of Jail Free” card for both its war and its white collar criminal clique.

At all events it was, by any measure, a stroke of genius on Bernays’s part; by appealing to people’s basic fears and desires, he could engineer consent on a mass scale. It goes without saying it changed the course of history in more ways than one. That the U.S. is to this day still using a not dissimilar meme to justify its “foreign entanglements” is testament to both its utility and durability. The reality as we now know was markedly different, of course. They have almost always been about power, empire, control, hegemony, resources, wealth, opportunity, profit, dispossession, keeping existing capitalist structures intact and well-defended, and crushing dissent and opposition.

The Bewildered Herd

It is instructive to note that the template for ‘manufacturing consent’ for war had already been forged by the British. And the Europeans did not ‘sleepwalk‘ like some ‘bewildered herd’ into this conflagration. For twenty years prior to the outbreak of the war in 1914, the then stewards of the British Empire had been diligently preparing the ground for what they viewed as a preordained clash with their rivals for empire, the Germans.

To begin with, contrary to the opinion of the general populace over one hundred years later, it was not the much touted German aggression and militarism, nor their undoubted imperial ambitions, which precipitated its outbreak. The stewards of the British Empire were not about to let the Teutonic upstarts chow down on their imperial lunch as it were, and set about unilaterally and preemptively crushing Germany and with it any ambitions it had for creating its own imperial domain in competition with the Empire upon which Ol’ Sol never set.

The “Great War” is worth noting here for other reasons. As documented so by Jim Macgregor and Gerry Docherty in their two books covering the period from 1890-1920, we learn much about propaganda, which attest to its extraordinary power, in particular its power to distort reality en masse in enduring and subversive ways. In reality, the only thing “great” about World War One was the degree to which the masses fighting for Britain were conned via propaganda and censorship into believing this war was necessary, and the way the official narrative of the war was sustained for posterity via the very same means.

“Great” maybe, but not in a good way!

In these seminal tomes—World War One Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War and its follow-up Prolonging the Agony: How the Anglo-American Establishment Deliberately Extended WWI by Three-And-A-Half YearsMacgregor and Docherty provide a masterclass for us all of the power of propaganda in the service of firstly inciting, then deliberately sustaining a major war. The horrendous carnage and destruction that resulted from it was, of course, unprecedented, the global effects of which linger on now well over one hundred years later.

Such was the enduring power of the propaganda that today most people would have great difficulty in accepting the following; this is a short summary of historical realities revealed by Macgregor and Docherty that are at complete odds with the official narrative, the political discourse, and the school textbooks:

  1. It was Great Britain (supported by France and Russia) and not Germany who was the principal aggressor in the events and actions that led to the outbreak of war;
  2. The British had for twenty years prior to 1914 viewed Germany as its most dangerous economic and imperial rival, and fully anticipated that a war was inevitable;
  3. In the U.K. and the U.S., various factions worked feverishly to ensure the war went on for as long as possible, and scuttled peacemaking efforts from the off;
  4. key truths about this most consequential of geopolitical conflicts have been concealed for well over one hundred years, with no sign the official record will change;
  5. very powerful forces (incl. a future US president) amongst U.S. political, media, and economic elites conspired to eventually convince an otherwise unwilling populace in America that U.S. entry onto the war was necessary;
  6. those same forces and many similar groups in the U.K. and Europe engaged in everything from war profiteering, destruction/forging of war records, false-flag ops, treason, conspiracy to wage aggressive war, and direct efforts to prolong the war by any means necessary, many of which will rock folks to their very core.

But peace was not on the agenda. When, by 1916, the military failures were so embarrassing and costly, some key players in the British government were willing to talk about peace. This could not be tolerated. The potential peacemakers had to be thrown under the bus. The unelected European leaders had one common bond: They would fight Germany until she was crushed.

Prolonging the Agony details how this secret cabal organised to this end the change of government without a single vote being cast. David Lloyd George was promoted to prime minister in Britain and Georges Clemenceau made prime minister in France. A new government, an inner-elite war cabinet thrust the Secret Elite leader, Alfred Milner into power at the very inner-core of the decision-makers in British politics. Democracy? They had no truck with democracy. The voting public had no say. The men entrusted with the task would keep going till the end and their place-men were backed by the media and the money-power, in Britain, France and America.

Propaganda Always Wins

But just as the pioneering adherents back in the day might never have dreamt how sophisticated and all encompassing the practice of propaganda would become, nor would the citizenry at large have anticipated the extent to which the industry has facilitated an entrenched, rapacious plutocracy at the expense of our economic opportunity, our financial security, our physical environment, and increasingly, our basic democratic rights and freedoms.

We now live in the Age of the Big Shill—cocooned in a submissive void no less—an era where nothing can be taken on face value yet where time and attention constraints (to name just a few) force us to do so; [where] few people in public life can be taken at their word; where unchallenged perceptions become accepted reality; where ‘open-book’ history is now incontrovertible not-negotiable, upon pain of imprisonment fact; where education is about uniformity, function, form and conformity, all in the service of imposed neo-liberal ideologies embracing then prioritising individual—albeit dubious—freedoms.

More broadly, it’s the “Roger Ailes” of this world—acting on behalf of the power elites who after all are their paymasters—who create the intellectual systems which control expression through the communications structures, whilst ensuring…these systems require only ‘the discreet use of censorship and uniformed men.’ They are the shapers and moulders of the discourse that passes for the accepted lingua franca of the increasingly globalised, interconnected, corporatised political economy of the planet. Throughout this process they ‘will always try to change the established language.’

And we can no longer rely on our elected representatives to honestly represent us and our interests. Whether this decision making is taking place inside or outside the legislative process, these processes are well and truly in the grip of the banks and financial institutions and transnational organisations. In whose interests are they going to be more concerned with? We saw all this just after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) when the very people who brought the system to the brink, made billions off the dodge for their banks and millions for themselves, bankrupted hundreds of thousands of American families, were called upon by the U.S. government to fix up the mess, and to all intents given a blank cheque to so do.

That the U.S. is at even greater risk now of economic implosion is something few serious pundits would dispute, and a testament to the effectiveness of the snow-job perpetrated upon Americans regarding the causes, the impact, and the implications of the 2008 meltdown going forward.

In most cases, one accepts almost by definition such disconnects (read: hidden agendas) are the rule rather than the exception, hence the multi-billion foundation—and global reach and impact—of the propaganda business. This in itself is a key indicator as to why organisations place so much importance on this aspect of managing their affairs. At the very least, once corporations saw how the psychology of persuasion could be leveraged to manipulate consumers and politicians saw the same with the citizenry and even its own workers, the growth of the industry was assured.

As Riefenstahl noted during her chinwag with Pilger after he asked if those embracing the “submissive void” included the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? “Everyone,” she said.

By way of underscoring her point, she added enigmatically: ‘Propaganda always wins…if you allow it’.

The Divine Right of Dark-hearted Despots (Then and Now)

This essay was in part, inspired by—and written in memory of—William Blum (1932-2018). Blum was a comrade-in-arms, and himself one of the great keyboard warriors of his time. We all had much to learn from this man about courage, integrity, tenacity, and resilience in the service of truth. His trenchant opposition to the ruthless and relentless exploitation of other countries and their people by his own country, the United States of America—at what was clearly at considerable personal cost—is possibly best exemplified by his book America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy, the Truth About US Foreign Policy, and Everything Else.

Brief: Advocacy of regime change—the wrecking ball in the foreign policy tool shed—continues to permeate the political and media discourse in Washington, with Venezuela holding pole position on the D.C.-based Democracy Busters ‘dance-card’. It seems, though, that with every successive effort by the U.S. and its proxies to destabilize countries and dethrone their elected leaders, they pay less attention to disguising their real motives and covering their tracks, and more attention to ignoring their failures and downplaying their disasters. That this reality should awaken more folks to the hollowness and hubris of America’s much-touted repute as a “beacon of freedom” is a given for those of us with a more clear-eyed view of how much chaos, destruction, and geopolitical instability this policy prescription engenders. I invite one and all to re-arrange the furniture in their geopolitical ‘living room’, and consider the following: nothing is going to change in the execution of U.S foreign policy, until pretty much everything else does.

The Low-life Lion King of the Congo

His Imperious Majesty Leopold II of Belgium: One of History’s Greatest Unsung Mass Murderers and role model for Dictators and Despots to come.

A bit like Neil Young does from time to time, I’ve recently been delving into the archives. And as it turns out, I have a lot of unpublished material. Some of this I’m pleased to report is as relevant, if not even more so, today. Now one of the trending issues is regime change, America’s default, bi-partisan foreign policy gambit that’s been in play since at least 1945. Not unsurprisingly, it is a recurring theme in my archival musings on empire. Which is to say: the shadow and portent of “regime change” is rarely far removed from the foreign policy public discourse in Washington, at least for those with an ear for these things. What with the events taking place in Venezuela then*, along with plans afoot by the Regime Renovators du jour Elliot Abrams, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton and their ilk to take down Iran’s government, it seemed an opportune time to strap on the parachute and jump down the memory hole in order to get a handle on what all the fuss is about. (*See the blog Washington Babylon for Ken Silverstein’s current front-line reportage on Venezuela. From what I’ve seen, it’s hard to beat.)

For the record, the core of this ‘dissertation’ was penned back around 2014, now with some key updates and editorial revisions. It was intended then—as now—to provide another perspective on Uncle Sam’s incurable addiction to meddling in the affairs of other nations, and the blowback from doing so. I should add the following: Another factor prompting this was my recent discovery of a powerful Netflix drama series called Black Earth Rising. The backdrop to this narrative is the events which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (aka Zaire), a modern-day catastrophe which had its genesis back as far as the early fifties, but whose dark history of colonial and imperial exploitation goes back several centuries.

Before proceeding, though, it is important to retain at the ready America’s own more recent role in keeping the home fires burning in same, wherever they require ‘lighting’ and ‘fuelling’. Such as in Venezuela now, Libya in 2011, Syria in 2012, and in 2014 in Ukraine, to name just a few infamous, more contemporary examples. The stories of US involvement in the political affairs of foreign countries are as legion as they are, of course, familiar. At least they are for those of us with few illusions about America’s status as “a force for good in the world”, and places such as Cuba, Guatemala, and Iran are prime examples. Yet throughout the years the Cuban revolution was taking place on America’s doorstep, there were plenty of others brewing on every continent on the Big Blue/Green Ball. One of the most significant of these was on Joseph Conrad’s turf—the geographical heart of deepest, darkest Africa, specifically the Belgian Congo (later the DRC/Zaire).

In 1960 a BC independence movement started gaining momentum, and between then and 1965 the CIA was intimately involved in an ongoing effort to influence the outcome of events in order to advance freedom, democracy, and self-determination in this ‘tin-pot’, ‘third-world ‘backwater’, regardless of whether they wanted it or not. As we’ll see to some degree at least, said “outcome” was very ugly indeed. Like Guatemala, Cuba and Iran et al, the blowback had a very long shelf-life and a very deep impact. The BC was a colonial outpost of Belgium from the latter part of the 19th century, initially under the barbarous, infamously despotic, truly genocidal King Leopold II, who pillaged, raped, purged, looted, pilfered, rampaged, plundered and burned his way through the African country throughout his reign until 1908. A particularly nasty, vile piece of work was His Royal Highness, ‘Low-life’ Leo’. If Belgium dragged the chain in succumbing to its own imperial and colonialist ambitions, like so many of her European cohorts had already done, it is in the Congo where she tried to make up the ground. For Leopold’s part, it is generally accepted he presided over the deaths of upwards of 10 million Congolese people. Arguably he was one of the worst advertisements for colonialism, imperialism, monarchism, exploitation, and despotism (by any measure a big call).

If ever there was a more infamous manifestation of a monarch exercising the divine right of kings (DRK) in the last one hundred and fifty years, I cannot think of one off hand. For that matter, whilst the historical concept of the DRK itself might’ve been considered passe by Leopold’s era, he simply ignored it, or didn’t get the memo. In the mass murder ‘popularity stakes’, this dude was up there with the biggest and the best of them: Hitler; Stalin; The Great ‘Helmsman’ Mao et al though he makes the more recent genocidal maniac Cambodia’s Pol Pot look like an underachiever by way of comparison. But unlike the aforementioned, Leo does not enjoy household name status in the history books, or in popular culture.

Interestingly, the BC, a major exporter of uranium during the Second World War, supplied the ‘juice’ that the Americans used in the A-bombs dropped in Japan. This was not, of course, the last time a uranium-producing African nation would figure large in a world-changing foreign policy decision taken by the Americans. Yet significantly it also held vast amounts of still relatively untapped high-value mineral and resource wealth (e.g. gold, copper, cobalt). This attracted the attention of the US (natch!), especially at the height of the Cold War, when said war was possibly much more about laissez-faire economics, energy, and other high value and/or strategic resources than it was about political ideology.

During the 1950s, in the post-World War Two, post-colonial period, there was widespread nationalist fervour fomenting in the country. There were years of unrest, political bickering, and nit-picking between ethnic and tribal groups and other political forces, over who the main muchachos would be in any new independent government. Most importantly, though, it was over who would get the main spoils, and/or, of course, who would get to keep them and profit from them. This scenario is a familiar one to be sure, and one that would be repeated monotonously with varying degrees of tragedy in most emerging, independent African nations throughout subsequent years. To say little of other places on the imperial itinerary.

In 1960 the country eventually achieved its full independence from Belgium, and Patrice Lumumba became the popularly elected Prime Minister. For his part Lumumba complained about how his country and his people had been ruthlessly exploited over the year. Nothing new here in this sentiment: It was a constant refrain from most developing countries in the post-colonialist, nationalist era. Lumumba appeared to be leaning towards Moscow with the possibility that the country could be taken over by godless, liberty challenged communists, or fall into their Geopolitical Orbit. “Appeared” is the operative word here, as like it so often is/was; such fear mongering was an expedient gambit with ulterior motives, much like terrorism has been more recently.

History now tells us that with many former colonies, it was not so much ideology that drove the nationalist ambitions of the former colonies of empire; it was attaining true political independence, sovereignty, and authentic control over their internal affairs. In almost all cases their former colonial masters and their new ‘besties’, the Americans, had decidedly different ideas. This was especially the case with countries like the DRC, which, as noted, was sitting on mountains of much sought after resources and minerals. Either way, any nod towards Moscow would just not do, and this information understandably set a cat amongst the hawks in Langley and Washington.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was revealed later on some members of the then Eisenhower administration had ‘interests’ in the mineral and resource wealth of the country, a frequently recurring motif underpinning America’s unrelenting efforts to assert that “right to protect” and from there export that aforementioned “democracy” etc. so they could eventually extort and then import these resources to America and the West at bargain basement prices. It also scared the bejesus out of the local anti-communist, right-wing elements in the country including in the Army, especially the top military brass who were highly tuned to the geopolitical and economic imperatives in relation to guaranteeing their future, and who would clearly benefit from a takeover of government. Oh, and did I say they were pro-American?

This was, of course, music to the CIA’s ears. PLUs–not Peace, Love and Understanding here mind you–they doubtless were thinking “People Like Us!” And the CIA was only too eager to assist. If the purportedly communist elements took over, there was no doubt this would threaten the political fortunes and personal and financial interests of those making foreign policy in the US (shades of things to come) and presumably their fellow travelers in US and Congolese mining and resource sectors and other vested local and international interests. The go-to guys at the CIA got to work…as they invariably do. Lumumba was eventually ousted and later assassinated. And former Army chieftain Joseph-Désiré Mobutu (later reinventing himself as Mobutu Sese Soko) assumed control.

And speaking of being and “ousted” and “assassinated’—albeit in his case, in one fell swoop—it is important to note here that the president at the time of Lumumba’s killing was none other than John Fitzgerald Kennedy (aka JFK), who’d only just begun to get comfortable in his new digs on Pennsylvania Ave. As noted earlier, the assassination of Lumumba was a train already in motion when Kennedy arrived at the White House. For his part, JFK was famously anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist to his boot-straps, and ostensibly supported the DRC’s independence. We’ll explore this more later on.

Dark Days in the Dark Continent (Regime Renovators Redux)

Not unlike his former colonial masters in their own colonialist ambitions, Mobutu initially dragged the chain on demonstrating his despotic disposition. But when he did get going he was unstoppable and quickly made up for any lost ground. To grease the wheels of power and keep them spinning in his favor, he bribed many of his potential challengers and rivals thereby giving new meaning to the old Sun Tzu adage of ‘keep(ing) [your] friends close, and [your] enemies closer’. This was a dictum apparently finding favor with many other dictators of the era. Probably still does. It’s in the job description. Especially if one seeks security of tenure. And who better to provide that security than old Uncle Sam.

The former president of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko. Tried to show Low-Leo a clean pair of heels in mass murder.

For those political opponents who were less compliant or corruptible, Mobutu reportedly presided over their public executions in front of Coliseum-sized crowds, or in simple, crude, tried and true tyrant style had them and their families tortured and/or murdered then disposed of ‘on the QT’. And then he really dug in his heels. By the end of the decade, he was unchallenged master of the Congo universe, and yet slowly but inexorably turned his country into an economic, social, environmental, political, and human rights basket case, another black hole in the post-imperial African continental universe! This was a man who successive US presidents called “America’s beacon of hope” in the region or similar sentiments. Go figure!

Over time Mobutu’s regime morphed into a ‘klepto-bruto-kakocracy’ of the first order. He maintained a personal fleet of Mercedes limos, and went on frequent shopping trips to Paris, London, and Milan on the Concorde (he even had a special airfield built for the plane) with his large entourage of wives/concubines and scores of cloying hacks, flacks, lackeys and subservient minions sticking to his belligerent black-ass like baby-shit to a blanket. He had dozens of mansions and palaces, and amassed an estimated $5bn dollars stashed in his own personal Swiss bank accounts all of which one can only presume he was keeping for a rainy day in case the road ahead got a little too bumpy. That he went on to become one of Africa’s most enduring if not endearing despots, is a matter of public record, even if said “public” is largely oblivious to this grossly tragic and criminal exercise in regime redemption and how it all played out over three decades and three countries. And it was all achieved with the blessing of the consecutive powers that be in Washington, regardless of whether they were Democratic or Republican. Deja vu, all over again!

Although the ride did eventually get quite bumpy for Mobutu, any karma due him took its time in arriving. In the interim, he caused a lot of people a lot of grief over a very long period of time and an equally broad expanse of geography.

The post-colonial world was never going to be a pretty sight anywhere it could be found on the planet (even without the meddling of the major powers), and this is one country where that observation really hits home, in a continent full of similar basket cases and less than pretty sights. For over the three decades whilst Mobutu ruled the country (renamed Zaire in the meantime), the living conditions of most of his people deteriorated rapidly and dramatically, and they were the lucky ones that survived the seemingly eternal, deathly inferno he brought to life with merciless gusto. Though he never came close, Mobutu was prepped to show King Leo a clean pair of heels in the mass murder and brutality stakes. No-one really knows how many of his countrymen he butchered himself; but if one is wondering from where Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) and Idi Amin (Uganda) and their despotic Dark Continental ilk got their delusions of bloody grandeur back in their heyday, then Mobutu is your go-to man!

In the early 1990s, though, it all started to go decidedly pear-shaped for the by now similarly pear-shaped dictator, with even the Americans turning against him. It all began to go the same way for a lot of other people as well. Tribal connections in Africa are deep and very complex and are rarely respective of national borders or sovereign boundaries, most of which have been redrawn dramatically, arbitrarily, and frequently in the past 100-150 odd years. This has mainly been since the rent-seeking white man showed up to collect said rent. Since, for example, the 1972 genocides and even further back than that, there have always been ethnic tensions—‘diplo-speak’ for different tribes slaughtering each other en masse—within and across the three countries. That these were either exploited deliberately or incidentally fuelled by the interference of major western powers is a given, especially the U.S.

A full account of the events that took place in this region around this time is beyond the scope of this essay. For a deeper elucidation, and one which is almost at complete odds with the current official “genocide” narrative, go here and here.

Christopher C Black, a Toronto based international criminal lawyer, is one of the go-to sources herein, with the scars to prove it by his own account. The James Corbett podcast interview below is a must-listen in this respect. Black spent 14 years successfully defending former Rwandan Gendarmerie General Augustin Ndindiliyimana at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). In that time, Black uncovered copious evidence about what really happened in the so-called “100 Days” of 1994 and the four-year civil war that led up to it. Black shares that information in this podcast and deconstructs the lies that continue to be propagated about the Rwandan genocide.

That the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) originally chalked up the coup in Zaire/DRC as a victory then, and saw the rise of Mobutu as beneficial to the region was clear. A “victory” for what and “beneficial” to whom, though, are questions that many are still asking even to this day.

It’s uncertain, though, whether the current crop of Langley Gangsters is asking the same questions after all these years. Chances are that today’s CIA spooks would not be even able to pinpoint Zaire/DRC on a map, let alone have any collective recollection of the role their predecessors had in the recent history of the ravaged, impoverished, at once bled dry and blood-soaked country. Or in the region. Or on the whole continent. Or of any of the others mentioned in the The Great American Regime Redemption narrative. That’s why we’re here down in the memory hole!

Our Son of a Bitch (Not Theirs)

Ronald (The Gipper) Reagan – All Thumbs up for Dictators, Tyrants, and Despots (“Our Sons of Bitches”).

To underscore just how much the US courts and panders to their roster of client dictators past and present, it is perhaps at Ronald (The Gipper) Reagan’s tenure we might have a ‘gander’. Like most US presidents, Reagan turned a blind eye to the shenanigans of the despots on their diplomatic dance-card. One of the most infamous of these was Mobutu. This was the man that The Gipper–who three times hosted him at official White House gatherings, and ignored criticisms of his human rights record–called a “voice of good sense and goodwill”. Small wonder they called him–i.e. Reagan–the Great Communicator. If people believed this shit (and it seemed most did at the time), they’d believe anything. Either that or Ronnie had once again begun to show the effects of Alzheimer’s, and he really had swallowed the whole jar of jelly beans as it were in one fell swoop.

Now some less than kind souls have even suggested the Gipper rode into the White House with at least Alzheimer’s early onset. Or he’d simply forgotten the details of the briefing he received from the good folks on the Zaire/DRC desk down at Foggy Bottom. Or maybe Reagan actually was engaging in some FDR-type realpolitik, that being: ‘he may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch’. Hard to know for sure! More likely, though, in true neo-con tradition, he chose to ignore it, or didn’t consider the deprivation of human rights on a national scale or persecution, denial of human rights, murder, exploitation, mass incarceration, and of its citizens all that much of a big deal. In fact, The Gipper’s Ambassador to the UN, Jeanne Kirkpatrick (aka the ‘Fairy’ Godmother of Neo-cons and an Amazonian Cold Warrior of the first order), was once quoted as saying that: ‘…America could be justified in its defense of totalitarian regimes if it served the defense of liberty and the national interest’. This was a refrain we have come to hear many times since.

The concept of the “national interest” for the US has always been one that’s a moving feast at the best and worst of times, and the above statement would’ve had the Grandmaster Minter of political double-speak George Orwell spinning in his eternally designated bolthole. We don’t know if Kirkpatrick was referring to people like Mobutu and his ilk in particular when she framed this pearl of foreign policy wisdom, but he clearly would not have been completely out of the frame. It’s also just as uncertain how Mobutu might have served the “liberty” and/or the “national interest” of either the US or Zaire however it might have been defined, or for that matter the other countries in the regions that suffered blowback from his poisonous, sclerotic, genocidal and cataclysmic reign, most notably Rwanda and Burundi.

It’s also not known if Mobutu had the same understanding of “liberty” and “national interest” as those that he detained, assassinated, murdered, terrorized, raped, tortured, mutilated, plundered, imprisoned, pillaged and just plain neglected throughout his time in office.

The lucky ones–if they can in any logically considered sense be defined as such–are presumably the ones he did neglect. He might not have destroyed as many lives as King Leo, but he gave it his best shot. With his death in disgraced exile in Morocco of prostate cancer in 1997, Mobutu’s belligerent, brutal ‘blackass’ was no more, and the moment of his passing presumably came not a nanosecond too soon for those who did survive him, with what remained of their lives and their families and tribes and their communities. It’s still further unknown what these folk and their descendants think now about the leaders, institutions, and nations without whose support the long-since deceased, yet still reviled Mobutu relied upon to keep him in power would have had a considerably shorter shelf-life than he did if not for them interfering in their affairs.

America, this is your foreign policy dollar working for you, then and now.

Now if King Leopold in the Belgian Congo was the poster boy/template for the ugly, vicious, ruthless, colonialist/imperialist period of centuries-old European empire, then Mobutu in Zaire went on to assume the role of his future political doppelganger in the equally ugly, vicious, ruthless, post-colonial, post-imperial, nationalist, and independence periods, a period that the U.S. (you know, the world’s “beacon of freedom”?) called the shots on. The CIA adopted him, nurtured him, and egged him on all the way. After all, he believed in Freedom™, and Democracy™, and Liberty™, and all that other All-American (Bull)Shit™ too didn’t he? What’s not to like?

For his part—and we might say, his final part—The Gipper played the role of an Alzheimer’s victim who eventually ‘buys the ranch’ for real in 2004, riding off into the sunset for the very last time. No doubt like most presidents before and after him, he did so oblivious to, or unconcerned about, the blowback that unfolded as a result of his country’s policies under his own ‘regime’. Mobutu was, of course, only one in a veritable conga-line of client dictatorships whose unerring, unquestioning support by America of them and the respective ruling elites and their cadres of the many and various regimes helped unleash mayhem, destruction, exploitation, torture, murder, misery, deep-seated ethnic, religious and racial division, and genocide upon their people and societal disorder, political dysfunction and economic catastrophe upon their nations.

As for Reagan, true to form the Old Ham just wouldn’t get off the stage, being of the ripe old age of 93 when they eventually hauled his ass off to Boot Hill. Still a bit of a ‘B’ movie exit by many measures, certainly for many who might consider his presidency a bit, well, ‘B’ movie. Not all it’s cracked up to be then? But try telling that to the Raging, Rabid, Raving, Righteous ideologues of Neo Americon (sic) Century, and you will get ‘short-shrifted’ PDQ. You know who I’m talking about here folks: the aforementioned Pompeos, the Boltons, the Abrams and all the rest of their hacks, flacks, and lackeys, on either side of the Potomac and beyond.

He was their savior back in the day…for which we should all be forever grateful (not). The most depressing thing, though, is that the current cabal almost makes The Gipper look and sound like a bleeding heart liberal democrat and anti-imperialist…maybe even a man of the people? I did say “almost” didn’t I?…..

The photo above was taken on 13 February 1961, when U.S. Ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson called president Kennedy to belatedly report Patrice Lumumba’s assassination. The photo was taken at the very moment JFK received the news.

To bring our narrative up to speed with current events and take it full circle—especially those that have to do with regime change and America’s interferences in the affairs of other countries for reasons generally unrelated to concerns on the part of the U.S. about freedom, democracy, liberty, and the much ballyhooed rule of law—we have to once again parachute back down the memory hole. This time, though, we look at JFK and his connection to the Lumumba story. The whole mess in the DRC was as earlier indicated all about the filthy lucre (or in au courant parlance, “it’s all about the ‘Benjamins’”).

The DRC was/is one of the most resource-rich nations certainly on the Dark Continent if not in the world. As Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela is currently finding out, few national entities can hold their own against the combined powers of the large multi-national corporations and the governments of countries like Britain, France, and America, when you have something they want. After all, the corporations own them all lock, stock, and barrel. All things considered, Lumumba never stood a chance of surviving as PM of the newly independent nation. The former had a very different definition of what it meant to be independent than the latter and his supporters. His assassination was preordained by the previous Eisenhower administration, and by most accounts, Kennedy was totally unaware of this.

It is also notable that JFK himself was infamously offed by the regime changers of his own era, those who felt threatened by his stance on any number of issues. One of the motives for his dispatch could well have been the president’s supportive position on post-colonial nationalism and the increasing—and to their former imperial overlords, annoying—assertiveness of their former colonies, along with their desire for independence with all the fruit that came with it. By supporting these stances, this by definition meant that Kennedy was perceived to be no friend of empire.

But notwithstanding his campaign rhetoric, it’s no surprise that current POTUS Donald Trump has fully embraced the regime changers agenda. As I have observed elsewhere on occasion, Trump is after all the consummate ‘chancer’; even a drop-dead ‘drongo’ like him knows which side on which to butter his bagel. Which brings to mind the late, great comedian Bill Hicks’ pitch-black routine about a hypothetical induction session given by the powers that be behind the throne to all new occupants of the White House.

In Hicks’ fanciful—yet at the same time still frighteningly plausible—scenario, the new POTUS (let’s imagine it’s The Donald) is ushered into the Situation Room to watch a video presentation. And, spoiler alert, they didn’t go there to hold hands, sing “Kumbaya”, and watch re-runs of the West Wing. As the first few frames come up, it becomes immediately obvious even to Trump this is an actual cinematic rendering of the events in Dallas, TX., on November 22, 1963, circa lunchtime. Unlike previous footage of this memorable event, this ‘version’ has never been made public, and presents a scenario that is completely at odds with the official narrative. The new president slowly but surely braces himself, fuelled by ever increasing shock as he watches the unfolding images reveal a mise-en-scène very different to the more familiar Zapruder footage.

In this version, though, he sees several shooters in a deadly crossfire—none of whom are located anywhere near the Texas School Book Depository Building, and one of whom mos def is situated behind the white picket fence at the top of the grassy knoll and looks nothing like Lee Harvey Oswald—all of which confirms for him unequivocally that every conspiracy theorist who’s ever attached their name to the JFK assassination after rejecting the Warren Commission report was indeed right. As the presentation comes to the end, there is a prolonged silence in the room; after he’s recovered a measure of composure, one of the presenters asks the freshly minted POTUS if he has any questions. He replies: “Nah I’m good; let’s go bomb Damascus!”

We all get the picture, even if my recollection loses something in the translation.

Pissing in the Information Pool (aka Imperial Public Relations)

Insofar as the situation in Venezuela goes, placing to one side the reality that hell has no fury like an empire scorned, it is perhaps instructive to consider other reasons as to why Uncle Sam has such a ‘hard on’ for the country and its current, ‘recalcitrant’ leader Maduro.

Again, a little backstory is key here. As most folks know, every military operation comes with its own unique identifier, a brand if one likes, to use marketing terminology. It’s uncertain if the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex™—which knows a thing or three about marketing to be sure, possibly much more than they do about actually winning wars—has contrived a specific nomenclature for any possible offensive operation in Venezuela in order to effect its regime change strategy. But it’s unlikely to compete with the one some bright spark in the George W Bush administration conjured up—in what can only be described as an inspired flash of lateral thinking—when they decided to invade Iraq in 2003 and ‘renovate’ Saddam Hussein’s regime from the inside out.

In its hegemonic zeal, Bush and Co. neglected (amongst many other things it should be noted), to pay close attention to the optics of its brand, and the message said brand might unintentionally convey to the public if one does not get one’s ducks flying in the same direction and at the same speed on such important details. This is especially important if one is looking to disguise the real objectives underpinning one’s not so benevolent intentions. As anyone who works in marketing or public relations will tell you, it’s all about the “optics”: Perception is nine-tenths of reality! Or put  another way: it is to a marketer what location is to a realtor.

All of which is to say, the planned, ultimately disastrous, monumentally expensive in blood and treasure invasion and occupation of Iraq was originally designated—wait for it—as Operation Iraqi Liberation, or for the ‘acronymically’ inclined, “OIL”. (No, folks, I am not making this shit up…As the inimitable and irrepressible Walter Brennan might have opined back in the day, “that’s no brag, that’s fact!”) It was apparently some time before the penny dropped and it was hastily rebranded Operation Iraqi Freedom (or “OIF”), lest people get the wrong idea. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but when to comes to acronyms, I much prefer “OIL” to “OIF”; it rolls off the tongue a lot easier for one thing. And it’s almost always gratifying when we catch our politicians and public figures in embarrassing moments, not that many easily succumb to such sentiments anyway.

President of Venezuela Nicholas Maduro – The Empire’s bete noir du jour. It’s all about the oil….again!

In any event, this linguistic ‘wardrobe malfunction’ as it were achieved the distinction as one of the great exemplars of the Freudian slip to be found anywhere in anyone’s political history, recent or not so. And in Venezuela, like in Iraq, make no mistake: it’s also all about the OIL (Even back in World War One, it was one of the big drivers of the outbreak of war, and not an insignificant determinant of its outcome. See Robert Newman’s History of Oil.) The lucky (or depending on your POV, unlucky) Venezuelans have more of the ‘Texas Tea’ than Saudi Arabia!…

That they also have much more “democracy” and “freedom” too than the Saudis is a given (with even the occasional fair and free election, and insofar as one might gather, far fewer public beheadings), though admittedly this might not be considered a huge achievement by some folks for any country regardless of the measure of their authoritarian persuasion to which they might or might not be inclined. Not that that metric either way has ever really counted for much either way in Washington, now or then. Like Superman does with his underpants then, these days the regime renovators wear their ‘Freudian slips‘ on the outside; indeed, they all but seem to do so with pride, like a wannabe Hollywood starlet sashaying down the red carpet on Oscar night in some famous couturier’s new frock. One only has to listen to John Bolton; if he mentions the word “Iran”, and though the thought may be unsettling to some, one can be reasonably sure his Y-fronts will be clearly visible.

When it comes to understanding the mindset of these folks, it appears they’ve resurrected then contrived their own bespoke version of the aforementioned Divine Right of Kings. Either that or like Superman, they really believe they are fighting for Truth™, Justice™, and the American Way™, all three of which are literally by definition a moving feast at the best of times in U.S. political discourse. And they see it is their God-given right—nay responsibility—to protect and save the rest of the planet’s denizens from themselves.

Such then is how they view their exceptional, indispensable place within the geopolitical firmament. The French in their imperial heyday called it their “mission civilisatrice. The scribe cum poet laureate of imperial excess Rudyard Kipling referred to something akin to it as the “White Man’s Burden”, one which he suggested none too subtly America would have to pick up after the British Empire ran out of puff. Which would suggest the Americans mos def did get the memo this time round. More accurately, we might simply describe it as pillaging, raping, plundering, rampaging, burning, looting, exploitation, and rampant desecration and wholesale destruction of communities, regions, and nations and their natural and human resources in order to enrich themselves and their fellow elites in their own countries simply because they can.

Sounds like a pretty good day’s work if/when you can both get it, and get away with it, eh? As the inimitable Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa once opined: ‘When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray”. We closed our eyes…. [and] When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.’ Sounds about right to me.

We should round out this diatribe with an admonishment from the late, great Chalmers Johnson, who along with being a True American Patriot was, like William Blum, no fan of his country’s relentless, ruthless empire building, and also one who knew a thing or three about “blowback”. ‘Although most Americans may be largely ignorant of what was, and still is, being done in their names, all are likely to pay a steep price—individually and collectively—for their nation’s continued efforts to dominate the global scene.’

One only needs to be able to read, have some basic research skills, and a willingness to have the scales pulled from their eyes to understand where he was coming from. Still, though, it does echo similar sentiments to Johnson’s, the very last word must go to Blum (to whom said “diatribe” is dedicated): ‘No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what your government is doing is actually worse than you can imagine’.

The “Kosher Nostra” Nation

[T]the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.

– Charles Baudelaire, The Generous Gambler (1864)

The Jewish state of Israel characterizes itself as a “Jewish and democratic” state, although the latest law of the Knesset wishes to raise “Jewishness” above “democracy”. However, it must be blindingly obvious to anyone not in thrall to the ruling narratives, that when a minority of a population is regarded as hostile, is unwelcome and therefore is never part of a governing coalition, democracy must be a casualty, especially when that minority has been singled out for discriminatory and dispossessory treatment, despite the legal somersaulting of the greatest of Jewish legal minds.

– Lynda Burstein Brayer1

Brief: Having now called an election in April, it seems clear Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s rationale for the early poll is to avert possible indictment for alleged corruption. Always something of a political ‘chancer’ whom few would accuse of lacking chutzpah, even for the estimable “Bibi” this is an audacious gamble. Either way, win or lose (and we might opine, guilty or innocent), very little is likely to change for the better in the way the state of Israel comports itself on the international stage. With that in mind, this is as good a time as any to take a deeper look at this increasingly militarily aggressive and geopolitically opportunistic nation, which like its current leader, has long been a law unto itself. I paid a visit of sorts to the Wailing Wall.

Invoking the Horrors of the Past

In a speech written in late January 1970, and read on 3 February that year to an International Conference of Parliamentarians in Cairo (a day after he died), after first noting that ‘the traditional role of the imperial power [is to] to consolidate with the least difficulty what it has already taken by violence…’, famed English philosopher, historian and social critic Bertrand Russell had the following to say about Israel:

…[E]very new conquest becomes the new basis of the proposed negotiation from strength, which ignores the injustice of the previous aggression. The aggression…must be condemned, not only because no state has the right to annex foreign territory, but because every expansion is an experiment to discover how much more aggression the world will tolerate….We are frequently told that we must sympathize with Israel because of the suffering of the Jews in Europe at the hands of the Nazis. I see in this suggestion no reason to perpetuate any suffering. What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned, and to invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy.’[My emphasis].

For the more detached, by any measure Russell’s critique even at the time was a damning indictment of the Middle East’s ‘only democratic state’. Though obviously appalled by its treatment of the Palestinians, much of Russell’s ire and indignation likely derived from Israel’s involvement in the hugely pivotal 1967 Six-Day War (still fresh in people’s minds), though few, if any, of his contemporaries would’ve been privy to the full picture of that “involvement” as it unfolded.

Such an appraisal is rendered even more damning when we consider the objective reality of Israel’s conduct in the intervening decades and what we’ve since come to know about it. Hardly a day has gone by where Israel has not tried to distort and corrupt said “reality”; this is especially evident in its purported desire for Middle East peace, where its key talking points on the matter are somewhat incongruent with said “reality”. Along with their intransigence on the matter of statehood for the Palestinians, in effect [it] is doing everything in its power to destabilise the region, as it has done for much of its history.

Yet that it has been remarkably successful at this endeavour is an understatement to be sure: “The Most Moral Army in the World?!” It takes some chutzpah to come up with a tagline like that! And we only need consider the number of pundits within the geopolitical ‘opinionocracy’ who’ve bought into this counterfeit narrative. Indeed, many of them—past and present—have been party to its creation, are guardians of its myths, accountable for the legacies thereof, and/or treasonable accomplices to its invention and preservation. Such is the extraordinary power of this “narrative” that, if it collapsed or was even seriously challenged, the country would probably cease to exist, at least in its present iteration. This is one reality Israel’s staunchest defenders doubtless realise, though few would wish to ever have that conversation for fear of tempting fate.

Its ‘settler-colonialist/democratic-apartheid’ status notwithstanding, by any definition Israel is a rogue state, one that routinely ignores the peremptory norms of international law. Indeed any other country that conducted itself on the world’s stage in the manner Israel sees fit to do so would, in a just world, be considered a pariah and be treated as one.

Yet such is Israel’s chokehold on public perception via its control of both the US legislature, the electoral system, and the media, most people still view it as the perennial victim, a constant target of nations, groups, organisations, and individuals who wish at the very least to deny its legitimacy (as fragile as it is), or at worst, wipe it off the map. It takes an extraordinary effort and a certain kind of collective genius, albeit of a decidedly malevolent, evil variety, in order to manipulate international public perception to such a degree, and maintain such a tight leash on that narrative over decades. To allude to the epigraph, this might be Israel’s “cleverist wile”.

Not quite convinced? Let’s go ‘shopping’ shall we? No other nation:

  1. benefits more substantively or more frequently from U.S. largesse and its alliance with America (and the West in general) or enjoys so many perks and privileges;
  2. comes close to punching so far above its own weight in having Washington’s ear and works harder at downplaying broad awareness of its influence and power;
  3. leverages its prime benefactor’s strategic and financial power so brazenly and so often in the service of its own interest and aspirations (and not always those of its benefactors);
  4. is more effective and more blatant at stifling free speech and any debate, no matter how rational or reasonable, that runs counter to those interests and aspirations;
  5. so stealthily yet pervasively controls the ‘optics’ of the global media narrative and the broad public and political discourse that forms the foundation of public perception about it;
  6. is so impervious to, indeed immune from, approbation or reproach, much less the consequences thereof, by its principal sponsor and/or the international community for its numerous and well documented criminal ‘delinquencies’;
  7. routinely spies on and regularly steals information from its benefactor of both a commercial and strategic value and even on-sells this information to U.S. rivals and potential enemies;
  8. comes more complete with more obvious contradictions between the image it portrays to the world and the reality of its behaviour, conduct and actions; and,
  9. in the absence of any serious, concerted, effective opposition can be expected based on its track record to push the envelope further in the uncompromising pursuit of these aspirations regardless of the consequences or the objections of the rules-based international community.

How Did we Get Here?

Given the Constitution-defying priority any specific U.S. administration—Democrat or Republican—attributes to Israel, it is worth recalling some Oval Office tenants whose relationships with the nation should set the mood for a deeper elucidation of the themes herein. To begin with it wasn’t always this way, certainly not until the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson (aka LBJ). It might sound like a big call at first, but few presidents of the modern era have managed to bequeath their country a legacy as consequential and enduring as that of LBJ.

Now I suspect most folks might think of the Vietnam War as the ‘crowning achievement’ of LBJ’s dubious legacy. Yet for this writer it was Johnson’s unprecedented and unequivocal support for Israel—support which amongst other things facilitated that country’s illegal acquisition of nuclear weapons whilst waiving any of the transparency and accountability provisions included in international nuclear non-proliferation treaties—from the time he came into office in November 1963, that may well be the more consequential aspect of that legacy. We’ll come back to the LBJ/Israel thing soon, but first a bit of useful history.

In 2018, 70 years after president Harry Truman finally succumbed to both internal and external pressure (he was initially opposed to the notion of a Jewish state in Palestine and for good reason), and effectively gave the nod for the Zionists to create the state of Israel—against the advice of numerous people within and across diplomatic, political and national security circles—the phenomenal power, influence and control this tiny nation has come to exert in the United States since that time is now an ineluctable, existentially dangerous reality. America is now Israel’s life-line and meal-ticket, its life insurance policy, its ‘minder’ (muscle) if one likes. The implications of this reality became manifestly obvious long ago, but the implications of maintaining that relationship going forward are becoming increasingly disconcerting.2

For his part Truman’s successor Dwight (“Ike”) Eisenhower trod a very cautious path when it came to Israel. He was not backward in reining in Israel’s imperial minded tendencies, which revealed themselves to the world at large during the Suez Crisis in 1956. Israel had invaded Egypt in tandem with, and encouraged by, the then imperial colossi of the Middle East, France and Great Britain. Eisenhower vehemently opposed this action when it was proposed, and was by all accounts ropable when they went ahead with it behind his back. Ike’s successor John F Kennedy’s (JFK) attitude towards the state of Israel is well documented, most memorably by the late Michael Collins Piper in his book Final Judgment, wherein he points the finger directly at the Israelis as amongst those involved in the planning, execution, and cover-up of JFK’s ‘Big Day Out’ in November 1963. That aside, Kennedy notably refused to entertain Israel’s ambition to build their own nuclear arsenal, and for this and other reasons kept them at arm’s length. This policy incensed former Zio-terrorist David Ben-Gurion (by then the Israeli PM after succeeding Moshe Sharat), who after JFK was murdered, then rallied his hard-core off-siders who were chomping at the bit to assert themselves as the new kids on the Middle East block. They finally had in Johnson, a real friend in the White House.

Israel then has much to thank Number 36 for “that” priceless commodity of “having Washington’s ear”, a political “access all areas” gift-card that for Israel just keeps on giving. The Israel lobby and their numerous surrogates wasted little time in ‘infiltrating’ LBJ’s administration from the top down, and they were upgraded to frequent flyer status by the Israel friendly new POTUS. It has continued uninterrupted to this day.3

And the recent passing of George HW Bush for many was probably not lamented too much by folks of a certain political or historical worldview, even for those not given to speaking or thinking ill of the dear departed. Yet according to Alison Weir of If Americans Knew, he deserves credit for at least one initiative, one that almost certainly contributed to his failed bid for reelection in 1992 as POTUS, and which by definition changed the course of history. (“It’s the Zionists, stupid!” anyone?)

In Weir’s summation, in holding up a $10 billion loan guarantee in 1991 to Israel over its continued settlement building in Palestine, Bush senior ‘won the battle, but eventually lost the war’, a lesson that presidents and political folks of all stripes have remembered ever since. Bush told Israel that the U.S. would not give it $10 billion in loan guarantees until Israel stopped building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, which, of course, are illegal under international law. In his efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the intractable issue of the settlements and an overarching peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians, Bush Senior stated publicly:

I think the American people will strongly support me in this. I’m going to fight for it because I think this is what the American people want, and I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to back those members of the Congress who are forward-looking in their desire to see peace.

Noble sentiments to be sure, but Bush was way off base if he felt that such political posturing would carry him to a second term.4 It would seem that neither the Congress—bought and paid for by the Lobby in any event as much then as it is now—nor the much lauded “American people” were that “forward looking in their desire to see peace”. It was either that or the “American people” were suffering from compassion fatigue, had bigger concerns in their lives, didn’t understand the implications, or couldn’t be bothered voting. One suspects that very little has changed.

Of course, the Israel lobby, notably the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—always at the ready with a fine line in umbrage—was not unexpectedly, well, ‘umbraged’ at Bush’s gambit. He overestimated the Congress and the people they represented, and in underestimating the power of the Lobby, HW made a career limiting move of the presidential kind.

“Ye Shall Blot them out to the Last Man”

It’s worth noting that at the time the Israeli PM was (former terrorist cum Mossad chief) Yitzhak Shamir, a man who like many Israeli leaders believed that his country was both above the law and beyond moral reproach. This extended even to the point back in the day of declaring that Israel had the right to interfere in the affairs of other countries, a reality amply documented in two recently released al-Jazeera documentaries (here, and here), with one citing the outcome of the 1992 election as further evidence. Such is the sense of entitlement and righteousness, even Shamir made no bones about it:

We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: ‘Ye shall blot them out to the last man.’

When Shamir was himself ousted in July 1992, his successor Yitzhak Rabin, promised to honour the loan guarantees, after which Bush finally inked the deal. But not only were Bush’s second term ambitions scuttled; Israel under Netanyahu in 1996 subsequently reneged on the loan guarantees in any event. The settlements are a going concern to this day. (Rabin, who may or may not have been committed to the settlements issue, was in any event assassinated in 1995.)

That said, for some there are signs this elaborate and unprecedented facade it has painstakingly constructed is beginning to crack. In a recent RT interview with Rick Sanchez, Chris Hedges discussed the Boycott, Divestment & Sanction (BDS) movement, which seeks amongst other aims to put economic and diplomatic pressure on Israel and highlight the dire predicament of the Palestinians who are living under what is no less than an apartheid system. This system is one unilaterally imposed by Israel in complete defiance of international law and democratic principles, attended by utter indifference to the basic human rights of Palestinians, such as equality, security, justice, peace, and freedom. Indeed we might argue that Israel’s greatest public relations triumph is the degree it has managed to convince the rest of the world to subscribe to and fully embrace that same level of indifference.

Nonetheless, Hedges posited that Israel is becoming ‘frightened and desperate’, evidenced in his view by the anti-BDS legislation spreading throughout the US. This campaign by the Israeli lobby in America and their many supporters at the municipal, state and federal levels represents an all-out effort to protect Israel’s public image by derailing the movement and discrediting the people and the organisations behind it. With numerous U.S. states—attended by no small measure of sharia-like dedication to the cause it seems—having enshrined into legislation anti-BDS statutes, the first amendment rights of Americans are under attack in a manner which would have the Founding Fathers, at least those whose enthusiasm for it was genuine, spinning furiously in their eternally designated plots of land.

Moreover, Israel is attempting on a global scale to redefine the very meaning of anti-Semitism, an overused, though nonetheless utilitarian epithet serving the country well as both an impregnable force-field against criticism and a formidable attack/offensive weapon purpose-built to denigrate, discredit, even destroy, those who’d dare to challenge its behaviour. Insofar as Hedges is concerned though, Israel ‘can no longer control its narrative or hide the brutality of their apartheid system.’

For an incisive insight into some of those “controlled narratives” (or myths), it is perhaps Ilan Pappe’s Ten Myths about Israel that best serves to identify these foundational narratives (which Pappe describes as “fallacies”), how they have been created, who’s controlling them, and what the end game might be if we’re to be living in a world where these myths continue to prevail, and we are prepared or even forced to accept them. Well might we ask: How do these myths and fallacies—especially when the carefully crafted perceptions underpinning them clash with the brutal reality of the facts on the ground as it were—threaten the geopolitical order? Iraq? Libya? Syria? Yemen? Anyone?….just to give you a taste of “the brutal reality of the facts on the ground”!

The answers to these and other questions are beyond the scope of this essay but in rhetorical form are worth keeping front of mind as we go forward. Pappe identifies several “fallacies” that have sustained Israel’s image and credibility as a “moral” nation, that: it has every right to exist; it has a right to defend itself; its cause is righteous; that other nations wish to destroy it; and that unlike other nations it is not accountable under international law. The Israelis we might aver have their own ‘peculiar institution‘ vis-a-vis the Palestinians—a form of modern slavery wherein human, social, economic and other rights are routinely denied in an apartheid state to people whose land they continue to dispossess and ‘set up shop’ on, and whose property and belongings they continue to loot, misappropriate, confiscate, steal or destroy without restraint etc.5

Though it would doubtless have the world believe it, Israel’s greatest strategic threat isn’t Iran, it is the increasingly concerted efforts—as welcome as they are necessary—by numerous groups, nations, and individuals (including prominent Israeli citizens) to call out Israel so as to rein in its lawless behaviour. Israel knows this. The corollary to this is that Israel’s greatest existential fear is the erosion of support that it currently enjoys with the American electorate whether from Jews and non-Jews alike, though it would be a courageous pundit who’d opine as to how this might play out and over what period of time.

This isn’t just evidenced by their own relentless, strenuous efforts to both shut these groups and individuals down; they have infiltrated and then undermined whole nations’ legal systems and political processes in order to amongst other aims make it punishable by law to even criticise the country. If the phrase (generally attributed to Voltaire), ‘To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize’ is essentially true, it’s difficult to think of any other nation that might qualify for the ‘gig’. The recent incident where a Texas school district speech pathologist was sacked because she refused to sign an oath declaring she would never support the BDS movement is just one of the more recent and glaring examples of this draconian effort to stifle any kind of debate about Israel.

Revenge of the Mosers?

For those still with doubts about the coercive power Israel and its network of institutional, organisational and political supporters wield in the West—especially in Great Britain and the United States—then the two documentaries produced by Qatar’s al-Jazeera news network mentioned earlier surely will dispel any uncertainty. (See links above). As these films illustrate, this increasingly out of control ally of the West brooks very little opposition to its hegemonic tendencies in the Greater Middle East. Israel for its part refuses to recognise—much less respond in kind to—the boundaries defined by international law.

In doing so then, the country thumbs its nose at the fundamental tenets and principles tying the community of nations together along with the very sovereignty of individual countries, and places global security, peace and stability in even greater existential peril. In short, the more the Israelis push those boundaries, the more they’ll continue to feel it’s their God-given right to do so, and the more we will proceed, by default or by design, to let them get way with it. This is one of the most important takeaways from these two films, the first one focussing on the lobby in Great Britain, and the second one that of the United States.

From a geopolitical standpoint, this is more a nightmare in the making than [an] accident waiting to happen. Unless we’re all chomping at the bit for another World War with all the bells ‘n whistles as it were, it is high time we called time on Israel, and hold it truly accountable. If that sounds alarmist, then consider the following.

Earlier this year Colin Powell’s former Chief-of-Staff Lawrence Wilkerson declared categorically that Israel is in the process of dragging America into a war with Iran, one which could destroy what’s left of the Middle East and ignite ‘a third world war’.6 )) Wilkerson says the evidence is clear: “Israel seeks ‘a massive confrontation with the various powers arrayed against it, [one] that will suck America in and perhaps terminate the experiment that is Israel and do irreparable damage to the empire that America has become.” [My emphasis].

Wilkerson points the finger of blame at Netanyahu, whose bespoke denigrations of the Iranian Islamic republic are as strident as they are provocative. To anyone within earshot Bibi, with monotonous frequency, kvetches in full-tilt Cassandra-like mode that Iran a) represents the greatest threat facing the Jewish state and to the very stability of the Middle East; and b) is constantly fanning the flames of anti-Semitism as if they’ve somehow cornered the market on it. Wilkerson dismissed these self-serving accusations out of hand using simple logic—an argumentative tool with which far too many of Israel’s defenders appear to be unacquainted.

As Wilkerson said at the time: ‘This antisemitism bit, of course…is almost always a weapon of choice for Israeli politicians under stress hurled, in this case, at the country whose Jewish population—by the way, the largest in the Middle East outside of Turkey and Israel—lives in Iran in reasonable peace.’ [My Emphasis] Like so many of us, what Wilkerson appears to be suggesting amongst other things is that the ‘cachet’ of the anti-Semitic jibe is now not as effective as it used to be. This is part of the reason why Israel is losing control of the narrative.

And to the extent where they even exist in substantive form, Israel’s status and reach are such that countervailing forces struggle to contain this monster. To underscore this, we might consider David Sheen’s recent Lobelog piece, the unambiguously titled “Israel Crushes Resistance At Home And Abroad.” For Sheen, the Jewish-Israeli left is ‘in tatters’, a spent political force. What is interesting about his comment is that whilst it may be obvious to more clear-eyed folks, the dominance of the hard-right itself does not seem to receive much attention in the cut and thrust of public political debate, especially in the corporate media. This in itself may or may not be coincidental, as the disempowerment and marginalisation of the left in general in the West has been, we might argue, a work in progress for some time. The dismal power-political status of the Israeli left notwithstanding, it may be simply mirroring the broader political-economic reality.

Moreover, given the well documented fact that the mainstream press in the west is virtually unanimous in its unquestioning support for Israel, we cannot realistically expect this will change anytime soon. Sheen further notes the Jewish-Israeli left make up ‘a tiny fraction’ of Israel’s overall population, with ‘numbers steadily shrinking since the start of the millennium’. In Sheen’s depressing and ominous summation—one just dripping with historical irony, albeit of the truly tragic kind—the lay of the land in Israeli politics is such that:

No alliance of progressive parties can hold a candle to Israel’s hawkish governing coalitions. No liberal newspaper can pull the public away from the tabloids that back PM Netanyahu and his rivals even further to the right. And no upstart activist group has been able to sway the hearts and minds of significant numbers of young Jews, brainwashed with ever-increasing doses of Zionist propaganda…Top Israeli lawmakers openly incite against leftist figures with frightening regularity, knowing that these attacks will only increase their own popularity among Israeli voters. Even without this egging on, Israeli society is increasingly purging its leftists from positions of influence, as the Israelis who’ve lost their jobs in recent years…for their left-leaning views can attest to.

For those of us who’ve long argued that any hope for Israel’s ‘rehabilitation’ rests largely on the future efforts of left-leaning, liberal or progressive Jewish activist groups and individuals both in Israel and in the U.S. especially, to counter, then reject, the tenets of Zionism, Sheen’s observation leaves one pessimistic. With Zionism the reigning ideology in Israel and being one completely at odds with anything we might define as “liberal”, the real battle must be undertaken by a critical mass of ordinary Jews everywhere who genuinely subscribe to authentic liberal values and/or are decidedly uncomfortable with Israel purporting to act on their behalf and in their interests. I imagine also (or at least hope) there’d be quite a few Jewish folks of a more conservative hew who might be willing to embrace some liberal principles and muster up some umbrage in the cause of justice, equality and peace for the Palestinians if they were willing to inform themselves of the more grim realities that actually exist on the ground. Either way, it’s going to be a long haul.

But as Sheen has noted, such numbers are on the wane, and not just in Israel. For him the picture in the U.S. is even more gloomy. He posits the prospect that American Jews, the next-largest Jewish community in the world (interestingly one perceived to be much more liberal than Israel’s own), might be able to conjure up that “critical mass” required for the battle. However, as he notes, any hope upon the part of frustrated Israeli-based activists of soliciting the support of their American brethren is a forlorn one:

Unfortunately for those besieged Israeli leftists, it would seem that the Israeli government already has a significant head start on them, taking the fight stateside, as well. The apparent objective: Crush any US opposition [to Israel], and to those who’d build their own white ethno-states in its likeness. [My Emphasis]

In an Open Letter he penned to his fellow Israelis in 2016, journalist Jonathan Ofir struck a similar note with the following:

…my hopes of change coming from within us Israelis have regrettably declined in the years – and thus, I am also, if not more so, placing my bets upon the involvement of the international community—whose help we need so badly—not for more cash, weapons, or apologetic “understanding”, but rather for its intervention in what we are apparently unable, and mostly unwilling, to fix. The attitude which I thus exhibit here is an extremely unpopular one in Israeli and Jewish culture. It is the vein of the “moser”—the one who “snitches” against the “Jewish nation” towards the goyim. Well, get over it. There are far more serious issues at hand.

For the objective observer of geopolitical affairs and assorted ‘reality’ purists then, the following ‘specimen’ can’t be denied easily. Along with being one that is not easily explained away, as already hinted, this peculiar “reality” has portentous implications for everyone on this planet: That Israel, allied with certain individuals, institutions and assorted ‘infiltrators’ and fifth columnists in the United States, whether Israeli or American citizens or both but all still unreservedly simpatico with [Israel], has exerted such a massively inordinate, consequential influence in the enactment and execution of U.S. foreign policy, along with being a country which routinely undermines and manipulates the American democratic system and the electoral process so pervasively. Now that’s what I’d call a robust sense of reckless entitlement.

Read that: Israel is thereby placing at risk global stability and security in ways which will surely be as unprecedented as they are unpredictable. Israel to sum up simply, is a law unto itself!

For my part I can’t recall offhand any similar episode in history where the reigning superpower of the era effectively relinquished its power to a much smaller nation and in the process, outsourced control of its own destiny —and we might add, the fate of many other nations including those it purports to ally itself with—to a self-serving cabal whose first allegiance apart from themselves and their ilk is, and has always been, to the nation which is the direct if not so deserving beneficiary of this accumulation and aggregation of power. This is perhaps the grandest gesture history has to offer of geopolitical folly, a largesse unthinkingly and it would appear, unconditionally bestowed upon one nation by another, albeit of the genuinely existentially dangerous kind……we’re breaking new ground here I suppose. What may be less obvious for most is that in the doing thereof, America has brought both itself and the World Order as we know it a whole mess o’ trouble down the mountain. And maybe that was the game-plan all along!?

Back in the day when George Bush faced off against Bill Clinton in 1992, the latter realised quite early “[it’s] the economy, stupid!” that mattered. History was to prove him right in one sense. But for the former, he presumably realised—albeit too late—that it really was the Zionists after all.

It still is.

  1. Extract from: “Zionism, Judaism and the Jewish State of Israel: Separateness, ontological uniqueness and Jewish morality are its characteristics,” The Saker Blog, November 23, 2018
  2. For an informed history of the creation of Israel and how it acquired its extraordinary influence over American political life, sans the myths and fallacies, folks should check out Alison Weir’s Against our Better Judgment. Her website <a href=”https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=13&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=2ahUKEwiA19jVwcnfAhWKXbwKHekODukQFjAMegQIDRAB&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fifamericaknew.org%2Fabout_us%2Faccusations.html&amp;usg=AOvVaw1yTUbhDeZQv0LWLMQxUdnV”><em>If Americans Knew</em></a> is also an essential watering hole for truth-seekers on the subject of Israel, Israel/U.S. relations, Palestine and the Middle East in general.
  3. For further information surrounding the key events and people of the Johnson era, readers should seek out Phillip Nelson’s Remember the Liberty and my own two-part essay on same, here and here.
  4. In the 1988 election Bush reportedly garnered around 35 per cent of the Jewish vote, but that ‘tanked’ to less than one third of that in 1992. His campaign donations from Jewish sources also were substantially down.
  5. In the accompanying video lecture Pappe speaks about the book.
  6. ((As CoS to Colin Powell’s Secretary of State in the early years of Bush Junior’s administration, Wilkerson got suckered before by the Israels and their U.S. based neoconservative cum Zionist/PNAC brethren in the lead up the Iraq invasion in 2003. And we all know how that turned out. Insofar as one can gather, Wilkerson’s not about to let any of them forget it.

Of Fake News and History Suborned (In War and Peace)

We have blind men, one-eyed men, squint-eyed men, men with long sight, short sight, clear sight, dim sight, [and] weak sight. All that is a faithful enough image of our understanding; but we are barely acquainted with [men of] false sight.

— Voltaire, The Philosophical Dictionary, 1924. Knopf, NY.

[M]ost establishment…journalists tend to be like their writing, and so, duly warned by the tinkle of so many leper-bells, one avoids their company.

— Gore Vidal, The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001, Abacus, 2001.

I heard the news today, oh boy…!

— John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “A Day in the Life”, 1968.

Brief: The gulf dividing established institutions—governments, political parties, academia, the judiciary, legislature, bureaucracies, the national security state, think-tanks, lobby groups, and especially the mainstream media—and those within and across the broader body politic, particularly those who’d challenge the chokehold such institutions seek to impose on the information and knowledge that forms the foundation of our political discourse as well as that of the official historical record, is expanding at a rate of knots. With a focus on one man who saw it all coming, it’s time to reflect on the backstory of this bourgeoning, perilous impasse, and what the implications might be for geopolitical stability and security, and indeed, the future of humanity.

Living in a Fog of Historical Myth

With an attendant lack of transparency and accountability, the Fourth Estate routinely subordinates the basic tenets of ethical reportage in the public interest to the interests, demands, and expectations of what we now refer to as the ‘deep state’. This is largely driven by the failure or refusal of the corporate media to live up to its basic remit in holding the ‘deep staters’ in turn responsible for their decisions and actions. This palpable, vicious circle, downward spiral reality is especially evident in matters of war and peace. Sadly, as we’ll see it was ever thus.

Trump going all wobbly on America

To underscore such sentiments and prepare the ground as it were, accounts of two recent newspaper pieces should do the trick. A Washington Examiner report by one Tom Rogan called on the Kiev regime to bomb the just completed Crimean Bridge. Even given the anti-Russian fervour in the West at present, the unreserved call by any purportedly responsible media outlet of what is after all an unprovoked act of war against that nuclear-armed country might’ve once been unthinkable.

In the Salem-like milieu that beclouds the Beltway, though, for British analyst Neil Clark such hate-filled incitement, masquerading as “commentary”’ is now evidently ‘thinkable’. More to the point, it perfectly showcases one of our key premises: the propensity for the MSM to act as cheerleaders for the war mongering ‘deep staters’.

We’ll return to the theme of the warmongering press in due course. But a quite different report—as surreal as that of the Examiner, but which also serves to highlight another of the motifs reflected in the opening—appeared via the New York Times. The erstwhile Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quoted expressing deep distress on behalf of America’s democracy, saying amongst things there was a ‘crisis of ethics and integrity’ therein.

Let’s place to one side the fact he was using the occasion to have a none-too-subtle dig or three at his old boss Donald Trump over the Oval One’s obvious shortcomings in this respect. Ditto for the reality that as the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, he was presumably never troubled by shareholder anxiety over him prioritising corporate social responsibility (“ethics” and “integrity” being key components thereof) ahead of their pecuniary interests. We might then marvel at why it took Tillerson so long to imbibe this reality and then share such disquiet with his fellow Americans.

After advancing a scenario wherein we ‘allow our leaders to conceal the truth’, and/or ‘become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts’, Tillerson went on to say, ‘we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.’ For the ex-oilman, ‘even small falsehoods and exaggerations are problematic…[W]hen we…as a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem the most trivial matters, we go wobbly on America’.

Now space herein limits a thorough unpacking of Tillerson’s profound insights. Suffice to say all manner of pundits would have a field day if invited to do so. Judging by what Tillerson himself doubtless views are heart-felt ruminations on the body politic, he sees this as a recent development. Yet contrary to his remarks, this scenario did not arise with Trump; as Chris Hedges and many others have noted, Number 45 is more a product of the malaise Tillerson described than he is a precursor.

As it is, said “malaise” has been a work in progress for some time, with British historian David Andress observing that its roots run ‘deep into our history’. Declares Andress in his recent book Cultural Amnesia: How the West has Lost its History, and Risks losing everything Else, there’s now ‘a crippling void at the core of politics’, most notably in the historically leading nations in the West [Britain, France, the US]. He further says of this “void”: ‘[There is] an absence of reflection so profound it is hard for conventional commentary even to perceive it…[P]olitical perceptions are breaking dangerously free from a mooring in history.’ [My emphasis].

Central to that “malaise” or “void”, of course, is the corporate media, and herein we include the increasingly powerful—and insidious—social media forums such as Facebook, Twitter and the like. We might for good measure throw in Hollywood, Amazon, and the public relations industry as well.

In juxtaposing dichotomous themes of trust and suspicion, truth and lies, facts and propaganda, reality and perception, acceptance and denial, reason and unreason, justice and injustice, democracy and autocracy, and to no lesser extent, war and peace, amongst our literary icons it was perhaps George Orwell who captured all this best. This is strikingly evident with regard to the mindset we as ‘consumers’ receive, process, and act on, knowledge about our history and from there, do same with information regarding the more contemporary events propelled by our political, media and bureaucratic elites and their paymasters.

Of course, Orwell has been name checked to within an inch of his not insubstantial repute. But to paraphrase one of the English language’s other great wordsmiths Samuel Johnson, the man’s observations about the core rationale behind modern political psychopathy have touched little that haven’t adorned our day-to-day reality. These embrace the hidden motives that propel it into the public sphere, the ‘substance’ of the discourse that frames it, along with the amount of people reached and thus influenced by it. The outcome of this rationale as it’s applied doesn’t just suborn our history; by extension, it dilutes our memory and devalues our understanding of it. That it continues to do so is self-evident. At least it is if we allow the ‘evidence’ some ‘breathing space’.

As for Orwell’s insights, what’s not to like about the following, each of which is pertinent in some way to our narrative and authored over 75 years ago?: ‘Who controls the past controls the future…Who controls the present controls the past’; ‘In our time political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible’; ‘Such concepts as justice, liberty and objective truth are still believed in….[T]hey may be illusions, but they are very powerful illusions’; ‘Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations’;…and last but not least, that perennial family favourite, ‘Big Brother is Watching You!’ There are many others on Orwell’s menu to be sure, but this will do for starters.

From there, Orwell also sought to reveal how “Big Brother” and his siblings endeavour to disparage, marginalise, and then disenfranchise (or worse) those who might offer conflicting analyses outside their own tightly scripted ‘Newspeak’, ‘doublethink’ purview. A diverse range of folks from William Binney, Julian Assange, Coleen Rowley, John Kiriakou, Jesselyn Radack, Jeffrey Sterling, Karen Kwiatkowski, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden amongst others would, one suspects, provide ample testament to that reality.

One of the most (ahem) memorable of plot devices in his novel 1984 was the concept of the memory hole. This was a process allowing for the modification or destruction of troublesome or awkward information in order to alter history and people’s memory of it or create the impression that something never happened. Two recent examples of the memory hole in action are worth mentioning briefly, both involving incidentally the West’s current bete noir Russia.

The first is the recent documentary film Remembrance – Rewriting history: Red Army’s role in liberating Europe censored in the West, the title leaving one with no uncertainty as to what the narrative is all about. Suffice to say: Much of today’s generation is of the belief it was the US who did most of the heavy lifting in World War II, as ‘that’s what their textbooks tell them’. Yet as the historical record tells it, compared to American deaths in the European theatre (around 300,000), the Soviets suffered around 27 million or more including millions of massacred civilians; further their country was trashed, whilst America and its inhabitants remained largely untouched by the conflict. Put simply, the US got off light!

Moreover, the Red Army fighting on its own turf killed over four times as many Germans as the US and its allies did on the Western Front. In fact, the D-Day invasion, belatedly opened the second front in Europe in June 1944 after being delayed several times over two years prior largely due to prevarications by the then UK PM Winston Churchill, much to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s justifiable chagrin.

By this time, it was clear the Soviets could accomplish complete victory over the Nazis on their own, but by no means did this mean the allies were going to let them claim bragging rights to such an outcome. In any event, it appears this narrative has been quietly ‘memory-holed’. One is tempted to ask: To what end is this being done? It is straight out of the Orwell playbook.

(The recent revival of the long dormant accusation the Russians were responsible for the downing of the MH-17 passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014 is no coincidence. Again it provides further evidence that the West’s march to war with Russia remains very much on the agenda, with my own country Australia being amongst the most vocal in pointing the finger, sans it would appear anything resembling convincing new evidence.)

And the second “memory hole” exemplar was an extraordinary interview with Mikhail Poltoranin, former Head of the Government Committee on the Declassification of KGB Archives. He revealed that in 1950, the U.S. Air Force actually attacked Soviet bases just outside Vladivostok and destroyed over 100 aircraft. Poltoranin further disclosed that Stalin himself was poisoned; ‘Uncle Joe’ didn’t die of natural causes! This assassination operation was carried out on Churchill’s instructions by British intelligence, themselves assisted by ‘some internal forces’ of the Soviet ruling elite, of which Stalin’s later successor Nikita Khrushchev was ‘certainly one’.

On any number of levels this latter revelation is highly credible. Churchill himself was one of the earliest cheerleaders of the as yet unnamed Cold War with his hysterical 1946 “Iron Curtain” tirade thereby inaugurating one of history’s most consequential of self-fulfilling of prophecies. As well there was no love lost between these two former WWII allies, a reality laid bare in Susan Butler’s masterful 2015 book Roosevelt and Stalin: Portrait of a Partnership. It is further noteworthy that when, during the course of this astonishing exchange, the interviewer expressed disbelief at his revelations, Poltoranin responded with a comment very pertinent to our narrative: ‘We hid a lot of things. Actually, we live in a fog of historical myth…’ The “we” here doubtless included the West!

All Wars are Media Wars (Lest we Forget)

To be sure if Orwell were to be somehow resurrected today and allowed at his leisure to take in the zeitgeist, even he’d be at pains to appreciate how insightful his prognosis was; how much he’d misjudged the power elites predisposition for orchestrated groupthink, perfidy, malevolence, disinformation, thought control, surveillance, censorship, manipulation, and oppression; and the degree to which the mass of ‘proles’ (that’s us cupcakes!) seem all too willing as it were, to ‘suck it all up’. This is despite the knowledge and information we supposedly have available today via the internet and especially social media, not least ironically the author’s own prescient admonitions via his writing or vicariously through others in the alternative media who are clued up on what’s happening! We might easily imagine the T-shirt cum bumper-sticker adage doing the rounds at present, to wit: ‘Memo to power elites: 1984 was not an instruction manual!’ would likely leave the fabled wordsmith at a loss for, well, words!

You’ve read the book, seen the movie, now get the T-Shirt!

All of the above insights into the psychopathologies of the human condition (to say little about the societies and polities that emerge from the way in which they’re permitted to manifest themselves over time), are interconnected, of course. Some of these will become evident throughout. Many others are self-evident.

Let’s continue with another Orwellian maxim not included above, but still nonetheless crucial to our main leitmotif: ‘War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it’. With this in mind, in my own study and experience of history and the human drama and utterly avoidable tragedy at its core, I cannot recall a more precipitously dangerous time for humanity than the here and now. More to the point, when any of us spend time thinking about those who previously served, suffered or died for the noble cause (or the ‘noble lie’ whichever one prefers), even if they’d done so fighting for freedom, democracy, peace, love, understanding and the pursuit of happiness against the oppression, tyranny, and evil intent of the ‘bad guys’ (the de rigueur cover story for the “noble cause”/“noble lie”), they’d be, one imagines, furiously spinning in their eternally designated plots of terra firma at what is now unfolding.

Put another way, what would they think of us allowing it all to happen déjà vu like all over again, especially given what we now know about how previous conflagrations unfolded and the real reasons why? To be sure, for its part “fake news” is now the new “conspiracy theory”: It is the political, economic, business, and financial power elites’ and assorted ruling classes’ preferred weapon of choice in their defence against those ‘heretics’ who challenge the official narratives of western capitalist governments and all those who seek via a range of tools (from cognitive infiltration, false consciousness to cultural hegemony and so many others not excluding plain old school, garden variety bullshit), to perpetuate the status quo. In the final analysis, fake or real, so much of today’s news becomes tomorrow’s history. For their part, the mainstream media mavens and their assorted paymasters cum patrons have adopted this ‘best form of defence is attack’ modus operandi for any number of reasons, not least of which is aimed to claw back the public’s trust and rebuild their credibility.

With the more recent being those in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, so many conflicts have been feverishly championed by the major media outlets with few, if any, mea culpas forthcoming in the pear-shaped aftermath. Indeed, if anything, they have doubled down. It is largely because of this they’ve squandered whatever trust, integrity, and credibility upon which they might’ve once claimed bragging rights. The very things, of course, that animated Tillerson’s earlier comments.

Yet whilst the road back up on to the high moral ground is invariably a rocky one even for the most redemptively minded, any attempt by the MSM to return there is likely to be little more than a ‘one-step forward, two steps back’ endeavour. And there’d be nothing remotely “moral” about the mission; its end-game will be all about perception management (their stock-in-trade after all), and rehabilitating their generic brand.

Which is to say, their fundamental goal is the same as it ever was:

a) to create and sustain believable, acceptable establishment narratives by which its elites might justify its policy decisions and thereby solicit public support for their often hidden, self-serving, progressively more dangerous, irrational agendas;

b) to provide crucial camouflage for those individuals and institutions (including their very own) they seek to safeguard from public scrutiny regarding their true motives and [thereafter] impunity from legal accountability, and/or ethical and moral responsibility for their actions;

c) to preserve and bolster these illusory narratives as well as to burnish the reputations, then solidify the legacies, of those who fashioned the mythologies and deceits that underpin the narratives in the first instance; and lastly,

d) to establish an unassailable, yet still bogus, frame of reference (historical, political, educational, economic, psychological, social, intellectual, cultural) allowing for successive generations of elites to perpetuate then ‘recycle’ these “mythologies and deceits” to their own ends.

If all this sounds like a purpose built, vicious-cycle, ‘keep ’em in the dark and feed ’em on bullshit’, perpetual motion construct for history repeating itself, then that’s possibly because it is difficult to view it as anything but. With the possible exception of wealth and poverty (issues themselves which I hope to similarly address in a follow-up, companion essay), in few other matters concerning the human condition and its oft presumed progressive betterment, the history of human endeavour, and the contemporary body politic is this more evident—or of greater import—than those to do with war and peace. For most reasonably informed observers of history and how the media works, if attended by an appreciation of the contemporary political landscape in general, they will immediately recognise it for what it is.

Pope Gregory XV (1554-1623). ‘La Papa’ recognised the importance of a good PR arm.

It’s worth noting here that the origin of the word “propaganda”—a concept that in its variant forms is a recurring motif herein—derives from the era of Pope Gregory XV. In 1622, the then Vatican (ahem) ‘commander-in-chief’ directed his cardinals responsible for foreign evangelical missions to establish the congregatio de propaganda fide, aka ‘congregation for propagation of the faith’, an organisation whose raison d’être should be self-explanatory. For some this is perhaps fitting if not surprising. Viewed another way, it’s the Catholic Church (the original “deep state” perhaps?), which might lay claim to having conceived the first ‘psy-ops’ gambit, a Holy See enterprise that around 400 years later is apparently still ‘Johnny Walker’!

It is further notable that British philosopher John Gray in his compelling Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, opened with the following:

Modern politics is a chapter in the history of religion. The greatest of the revolutionary upheavals that have shaped so much of the history of the past two centuries were episodes in the history of faith—moments in the long dissolution of Christianity and the rise of modern political religion.

And when it comes to the subject of propaganda, per se, although he deserves a ‘chapter’ all on his ‘Pat Malone’, we cannot, of course, not at least name-check Edward Bernays—Sigmund Freud’s nephew—the man generally acknowledged as the father of modern public relations. Which brings us once again back to fake news. The descriptor might have only recently entered into political discourse and popular vernacular; but as the Scottish authors and bloggers Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor observe, it has ‘a long history’. It’s propaganda frocked up in a different guise.

Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor

Via their website and their two published books (see here and here), Docherty and Macgregor’s excursions into the historical terrain of the most consequential event of the twentieth century—that being the Great War—have not just provided us with possibly the most compelling, far-reaching insight into the causes and conduct of this catastrophic inferno, but its, well, consequences.

They’ve also delivered us a crucial understanding of how perfidious Albion (i.e. Great Britain) inveigled the rest of the world into fighting this war. With the ancien regime doing everything in its power to provoke Russia into war at present, this observation should not go unnoticed. (Those who think the British Empire as such had passed its UBD by 1945 haven’t been paying attention, need to get out more, or require a check up from the neck-up.)

Now doubtless many folks will be having a “say wha?” moment at this point, to wit: Wasn’t it the Germans who provoked the First World War? Not so, according to Docherty and Macgregor. Even more than that, for our purposes herein, they’ve provided us with a telling insight into the key role the media mavens of the era knowingly played in facilitating the grand schemes of the ruling classes (termed the Secret Elites by the authors).

The campaign to ‘sell the war’ to the British public and to the rest of the world began in earnest at least ten years prior to its outbreak. Although many abound, one example will suffice. This was the dogged manner in which various members of the Secret Elites coerced, cajoled and curried favour in the pre-war years with the various dominions and colonies specifically amongst their respective media outlets and leading politicians of the day—Australia, India, New Zealand, Canada to name the obvious ones—to ensure that once war began, there would be unstinting loyalty from all and sundry to the noble cause.

It was all up, of course, an astonishing political, diplomatic and propaganda achievement, yet one we can now safely say, came at great cost for all those dominions and colonies, with little or nothing to show for it. To be sure, one of history’s greatest snow jobs perpetrated in the cause of perpetuating empire. This was Great Britain’s great propaganda machine at work, ‘an ‘infernal engine created in war…’ as described by author Richard Milton in his Best of Enemies: Britain and Germany: 100 years of Truth and Lies….‘…[b]ut impossible to switch off in peace….The indelible memory of atrocity stories that had taken place only in the imaginations of British propaganda agents proved to be stronger and more persistent than any facts. This curious discovery, the power of myths over facts, was the real legacy of the First World War.’ [My emphasis].

History Down the Memory Hole

Now although it’s been rightly noted that “all wars are bankers’ wars” (underscored by the preceding Orwellian maxim about the “moneyed classes”), few could argue that the “bankers” would’ve had great difficulty selling their wars on their own; a pliant, subservient, gung-ho media is by definition crucial at the outset in mobilising the populace at large and from there manufacturing the collective consent needed to do so.

Docherty and Macgregor’s follow-up tome—Prolonging the Agony: How International Bankers and their Political Partners Deliberately Extended World War 1, the title clearly underscoring what we’ve just observed—drives home the point. Which is to say, the war against Germany wasn’t just ‘sold’ to the world, with the establishment media at the time leading the charge and indispensible to this propaganda effort. The same media then played their own part in prolonging the war by ensuring the public did not lose their patriotic fervour.

Moreover, the British political establishment—incestuously intertwined with not just each other, but with the press of the era, academia, business and finance, and the broader Western intellectual diaspora as well—ensured that through their control over the higher learning and research institutions and the education bureaucracy, they gave enduring, inviolable substance to Winston Churchill’s infamous maxim, ‘history is written by the victors’. (Along with being one of official history’s most acclaimed authors—whose genre specialty we might now say was historical fiction—Churchill himself, of course, was a ‘Secret Elitist’.)

So effective was this propaganda exercise that the false narrative still stands today as the official version. It’s embraced by just about everyone from our politicians, our mainstream media, our academics, our military leaders, our veterans’ associations, and [to] our school curriculum writers and even those folks who end up teaching the fake history. Those rare folk who’d question this let alone decry it find themselves at best on the outside looking in. Herein, Docherty and Macgregor unambiguously lay out their stall:

Lies masquerading as news are as old as news itself, with royalty, governments, public figures and the mainstream media purveying it to manipulate public opinion. In an Orwellian twist those very same groups now employ it as a pejorative term against the alternative media, truth writers and bloggers as a way of dismissing inconvenient truths and crushing dissent. We should all be aware of the state as keeper of ‘the truth’. “Fake History” is another powerful weapon that has long been used by those in authority to retain that power and keep the masses in the dark.

Of course, we can travel further back in time to the Boer War (1899-1902) and the “splendid” Spanish American War (1898) to find examples of Western MSM perfidy in sounding the battle cry for freedom as a cover for highly dubious state-sponsored wars of aggression, conquest, dominion, plunder and oppression. Docherty and Macgregor cite the former as primarily a dress rehearsal for the Big One to follow, a war championed by the British establishment press of the era, whose prime objective was laying claim to the huge Transvaal gold mines. Less ‘White Man’s Burden’ then than ‘White Man’s Booty’ then!’ As they note: ‘Their ambition overrode humanity, and the consequences of their actions have been minimised, ignored or denied in official histories.’

Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in their heyday.

And though opinion remains divided as to the impact the media played in the US declaring war on Spain, there can be little doubt it was decisive. The ensuing conflict has since been classified as the first “Media War”, with the two most notable press barons of the era William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer going toe to toe and above and beyond the call of journalistic duty in their efforts to inflame U.S. public sentiment against the Spanish and incite an otherwise indifferent populace to man the barricades. The propaganda onslaught included dodgy stories of atrocities allegedly committed by the Spanish against the Cubans—fortified by a conveniently timed false flag attack on the U.S. Navy ship the USS Maine anchored in Havana harbor thereby providing the pretext for the subsequent declaration of war—with then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, budding imperialist, and future POTUS Teddy “the Rough Rider” Roosevelt being amongst the most hot-to-trot of the leading politicians.

If the U.S. emerged from the nineteenth century as a leading world power after this war there can be little doubt Hearst and Pulitzer had done their bit to bring this about as great American patriots might’ve been expected to. As a consequence the centuries-old blood-soaked Spanish empire was finally ‘deep-sixed’ for good with the U.S. taking control of Cuba and full possession of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam, themselves the first baby steps towards expanding its own already considerably “blood-soaked” empire outside of its own territory. For any aspiring hegemonist, this had to be seen as both a good start and an excellent return on their piddling investment, which doubtless contributed in no small measure to its fabled designation as that “splendid little war”.

That Hearst and Pulitzer sold a shit load of newspapers into the bargain—in an age when doing so actually meant something—and cemented their reputations as media monopolists and political power players to be reckoned with was, of course, neither here nor there. But they had in a sense pioneered a prototype of the more au courant phenomenon of fake news, in those days called “yellow journalism”. It is perhaps one of the supreme Orwellian ironies permeating the polity that the most sought after award in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize, is named after one of its most ruthless, opportunistic, and unethical of practitioners.

Whether by accident or design, they’d moreover done their bit to inculcate firmly into the collective psycho-pathology and historical memory of the ruling classes and power elites in America an incipient, and from there an abiding, sense of ‘exceptionalism’ and manifest destiny, the essence of which has been sustained by and large through propaganda. With only occasional lapses, this has framed and underpinned political discourse in U.S. foreign policy, and been a key driver of its interventionist approach ever since. It set the template for the future manner in which the Western media mavens embraced their responsibilities insofar as they were expected to act in the public interest or guide civic opinion for the common good.

Another example that is instructive herein, of course—one which Docherty and Macgregor again provide key insights into—is the way in which the British government, once it found the pretext to declare war on Germany in 1914, then persuaded the U.S. to join in the melee. Here again, the media’s role herein was decisive. The First World War was a pivotal point in the way in which news and information began to be more formally and precisely, albeit covertly, manipulated—and indeed frequently contrived—to serve the interests of those seeking to mould public opinion towards a certain consensual view. In this it is instructive to note it was the Great War that, if it did not quite give provenance to one of the great truisms in the history of conflict, that being, ‘Truth is the first casualty of war’, it facilitated from there its popular usage.

Thus was the age of public relations born, and it was from there that Bernays and his ilk never looked back. At its most basic “public relations” was/is “fake news”; indeed PR became the new terminology designed to replace the increasingly repellent phrase “propaganda”. Such was the decisive impact of this new mode of communication, it’s difficult to see how Americans might’ve been convinced to enter the war on the side of Britain, and by extrapolation, how Britain and its allies could have avoided defeat at the hands of the Germans.

Fake News Good, Real News Bad

As the mainstream media—as deservedly much-maligned as it is malignant—descends further and further into deceptive arrogance and dangerous incoherence, it increasingly seeks, in indirect proportion it seems and with an equal mix of hubris, dishonesty, chutzpah, and hypocrisy, to double down in its attempts to preserve and maintain its façade of credibility and integrity. Western political, intellectual and media elites are veritably hyperventilating at the prospect that their own “fake news” is being viewed for what it is: a desperate attempt to paper over the cracks in the wall of a crumbling Anglo-American-Zionist empire.

It’s instructive here to consider a few of the recent, most preposterous narratives that have been—or are being—breathlessly promulgated. These stories are ones amongst many that no serious media outlet claiming a modicum of integrity or credibility should be touching with the proverbial forty-foot barge pole. That is, of course, unless it’s to refute the generally always evidence-free claims that frequently attend them and ridicule then discredit the person(s) making them. Here are just three of the ‘greatest hits’ as it were, currently topping the MSM charts:

a) the farcical, transparently duplicitous anti-Russian propaganda onslaught emanating from Britain and America that seeks amongst countless other high crimes and dastardly deeds to blame that country and its leader for constant interference in the affairs of other countries, whilst ignoring their own respective, and destructive track records in this regard;

b) the illegal seven-year old, seemingly endless war currently being waged by Britain, America, and Israel against Syria and president Bashar al-Assad, one which he’s successfully fought with all the resources at his disposal despite the combined forces of the empire pulling out all stops to malign him and then terminate him with extreme prejudice; and, last but not least,

c) the increasingly deranged Israeli despot Benjamin Netanyahu reprising once again his tried and true dog and pony show to sell-out audiences advocating war on Iran because he claims they’ve not adhered to the 2016 agreement not to build any nukes, whilst refusing point-blank to answer questions about his own country’s nuclear program.

Whether in the U.S., Britain, Australia or anywhere else in the West for that matter, few of us should be under any illusions that the monolithic Fourth Estate remains steadfastly devoted to the ongoing betrayal of its purported brief by supporting the hidden—and not so hidden—agendas of those to whom it is, and indeed has always been, beholden.

It’s notable that one of the U.S. establishment media’s flagship marques the ‘venerable’ Washington Post—whose high-minded, yet pedestrian positioning statement, “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is so positively Orwellian one suspects its authors were wearing ‘Freudian slips’ at its moment of conception—was given a deliciously outsized serve of ridicule recently by the media watch organisation Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

And rightly so we might opine. The article, by Adam Johnson, chronicles the Wash-Post’s ‘top ten’ columns that he’s characterised as “sociopathic” in tone and temper. For ‘casually threatening economic ruin, inciting violence against entire populations, pushing for bombing faceless Muslims, or downplaying racism and child rape, there’s no better outlet’ Johnson says of the Post, ‘than [this] long-time echo chamber of power-serving conventional wisdom...’

‘In the pages of the Post’s opinion section, you can say the most sociopathic things and get away with it, because you are, by definition, Serious People offering Serious Solutions in a Serious Paper. The human cost of these extreme, reactionary opinions is of little matter; what matters is packaging calls for violence, sexism and racism in a nice, official-sounding tone.’

Along with ‘pointing the bone’ at the paper’s editorial board itself for its own track record of sociopathic sensibilities when opining about the Big Issues, Johnson name-checks several of their high profile ‘by-liners’ past and present for special attention. These include Joshua Muravchik, John Bolton (now the White House’s Chief Chicken-hawk-in-Residence), and Richard Cohen amongst others. For Johnson, if there’s “one thing” the Post opinion editors love—and which is highly pertinent to the here and now along with being instructive in respect of our narrative—‘it’s columns threatening, plotting and advocating war against Iran. It’s the little black dress of foreign policy punditry—[it] never goes out of style’.

To bolster his assertion, Johnson showcases a piece written in 2015 by Muravchik, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Muravchik’s op-ed piece was titled “War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option”. Johnson responded with the following:

[Muravchik]…argued nonchalantly that launching a war of aggression against Iran was “probably” “our” best “option.” He doesn’t explain who “our” refers to, or why a military attack was even an “option” to begin with….He [Muravchik] then asserts that Iran is uniquely irrational and cannot be compelled with material needs, asserting that “ideology is the raison d’etre of Iran’s regime” and concluding, as if he were settling on a Thai food order, that a bombing campaign that would kill tens of thousands is the “best option.”

From this above ‘catalogue’ of dodgy Post reportage we might draw the following conclusion: It is in matters of war and peace that perhaps the MSM is most at conflict with the now decidedly old school journalistic canons, these being, of course: accuracy, fairness, accountability, objectivity, truthfulness, and impartiality. The current state of geopolitical affairs and international relationsas existentially precarious as it isshould be ample testament to this reality. The mainstream mastheads are notand have never been known for beingbastions for the promotion of peace, love and understanding amongst nations, anymore than they have been known for their adherence to truthfulness, accuracy or any of the other “canons” cited earlier.

As anyone who’s delved into the real (unofficial) backstory behind virtually all of the major wars and conflicts over the years knows, the “noble cause” is never, ever the real reason, the “noble lie” never, ever justified. And the “cause” will never be the real reason—or the “lie” rationally justified—whilst we as a species continue to tolerate those within our midst whose congenital and moral defects push them towards these ends.

It’s critical for this reason alone then we all disabuse ourselves of the notion that what’s happening now has anything to do with making the world safe for democracy and freedom; enforcing the tenets of international law in the cause of human rights; ridding the world of evil men with evil ambitions as if inspired by some vague quasi-Manichean apocalyptically-minded desire to make the world a better place; or some other such transparently fatuous nonsense. The only thing we’re making the world safe (or better) for is an entrenched, ruthless plutocracy.

The reality, though, is this: We should all try to open our eyes to how we as ordinary people allow our political, financial, intellectual, media, and corporate ‘elites’ hoodwink then railroad us into supporting—mostly without question as if collectively driven by some inner, yet inexplicable, Pavlovian suicidal impulse—their grandiose, self-serving, and wholly disastrous schemes.

Such “schemes”—political, military, financial, economic, psychological, social, cultural, educational—are engineered entirely for the preservation of their own personal material fiefdoms and the collective fiefdoms that were then, and remain, those of power, ambition, wealth, control, dominion, and above all, empire. And in this “empire”, as in all, the benefits are few for the many and many for the few, with “power” (as noted again by Orwell) an end in itself, not a means. In the process, this ‘deep state’ cabal—whom Voltaire might’ve referred to as “tyrants of the soul”—have embraced ever more cunning, manipulative and (in every sense of the word) violent intrigues—and let’s not shy away from it, out and out gambits of the conspiratorial kind to cover their respective and collective asses—making them increasingly less transparent in their motives and therefore increasingly less accountable, before, during, or even well after the fact, for their actions.

As a distinct corollary to this, they’ve sought—ever so successfully and as noted, with our increasing acquiescence—to exercise ever-greater control, influence and power over us, at the expense of not just our privacy, but our social, economic, and political security. This is evident not least in the backlash that is taking place against those folks and groups who dare to challenge the conventional wisdom, or more aptly, the conventional lunacy!

*****

In order to bring things to a close, it is both prudent and relevant to name check the esteemed and courageous Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. As he frames it in his tellingly titled book Ten Myths about Israelthe nation that arguably best embodies and reflects the Orwellian verities we’ve visited herein along with being the one nation to which the deference of the mainstream media seems to recognise few limits:

…history lies at the core of every conflict. A true, unbiased understanding of the past offers the possibility of peace…[T]he distortion or manipulation of history…will only sow disaster….

Of course, Pappe herein is referring to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, along with the subjugationand what amounts to the ethnic cleansingof its original, long-time inhabitants.

‘Historical disinformation’ he continues, ‘even of the most recent past, can do tremendous harm. This wilful misunderstanding of history can promote oppression…’

It is not surprising, therefore, that policies of disinformation and distortion continue to the present and play an important part in perpetuating [the occupation of Palestine], leaving very little hope for the future. Constructed fallacies about the past and the present…hinder us from understanding the origins of the conflict. Meanwhile, the constant manipulation of the relevant facts works against the interests of all those victimized by the ongoing bloodshed and violence. [My emphasis].

Pappe could, of course, be referencing any current ‘work-in-progress’ conflict, such as that which is brewing now, for example, between Israel, the U.S. and Iran; the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia; or the never-ending Anglo-American-Zionist campaign of regime change against Syria, whose allies are, of course, Russia and Iran. Anyone of these ‘hotspots’ could trigger a larger geopolitical conflict, and if it so happens this way, it will be largely because of “policies of disinformation and distortion”, especially those which have been facilitated by the Fourth Estate.

In his seminal book Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, Canadian author John Ralston Saul noted that ‘[R]eason is a narrow system swollen into an ideology. With time and power it has become a dogma, devoid of direction and disguised as disinterested inquiry. Like most religions, [it] presents itself as the solution to the problems it has created.’

Now whilst it’s reasonable (no pun intended) to assume our corporate media elites and those to whom they are most beholden would be reluctant to view themselves in any such light, from this writer’s vantage point, it seems like a pretty good ‘fit’ to me. Put another way, if this is truly what defines “reason” today, then we are ‘mos def’ in big trouble!

The “Crucifixion” of the Black Messiah

Dick Cavett: A lot of people…were astounded at how you got [alleged assassin of Martin Luther King, James Earl] Ray to change the plea [from “not guilty” to “guilty”].

Percy Foreman [Ray’s lawyer and LBJ crony]: I didn’t get him to change the plea. [Laughing] I simply told him that I thought he would be executed if he didn’t.

— The Dick Cavett Show, August 9, 1969.1

 A Piece of Work, and then Some!

Choose any notable event between presidents Calvin Coolidge and Richard Nixon (even beyond), such was his impact that any subsequent discussion is far from complete without significant reference to J Edgar Hoover, the long-time founding Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); chances are that its Director’s ‘fingerprints’ were all over said “event”. That said, such knowledge about one of the most iconic and consequential figures in American history has only come to pass incrementally in the ensuing years after his death in 1972.

Moreover, choose any significant individual public or political figure during that era, and the likelihood is that Hoover knew more about that person than they might’ve known about themselves. He most certainly knew much more about them than they themselves might’ve cared for anyone else to know, much less someone like Hoover.

As we will see, one such “individual” on Edgar’s radar was the iconic civil rights leader and anti-Vietnam war campaigner Dr Martin Luther King (MLK); one such “event” was his assassination on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN., and the subsequent cover-up by the forces behind the murder and/or those closely aligned with them. The man who was subsequently charged with the crime, James Earl Ray, spent the rest of his life in prison, despite maintaining his innocence up until his last breath, an outcome we might safely opine ranks as one of the greatest perversions of justice in the Grand American Narrative.

There can surely be no doubt now there was a high level conspiracy to eliminate King, one planned and orchestrated from the highest levels of the U.S. government on down the ranks and that James Earl Ray was framed. In short, he was the fall-guy, and his involvement in the King assassination was both peripheral and unknowing. We will return throughout to the subject of King, Ray, the assassination, the conspiracy, and its 50 YO cover-up.

But first up, some background on Hoover and his alter ego and partner-in-crime (in this instance and in so many others) is necessary: president Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ). Few politicians of any political stripe and any significant import throughout Hoover’s lingering reign – and crucially, few Oval Office occupants – had a tighter relationship with America’s then Number One G-Man than did LBJ. That their fortunes, ambitions, and destinies intertwined in unique ways is axiomatic for those in the know. That all this was to come in handy for both men doesn’t even begin to explain it.

Beyond their involvement in King’s murder, individually their impact was not only to change everything from the course of the lives of millions of people to the political direction and very character of their nation and many others as well; together their impact proved to be much greater than the sum of the parts. That such new knowledge continues to be exposed by intrepid researchers and writers is also a given, even if such information doesn’t always filter through to – much less become accepted by — the mainstream. The “mainstream” in this sense being both the media gatekeepers and their readership.

The essence of this preamble becomes compelling when one reads the forthcoming book by Phil Nelson titled: Who REALLY Killed Martin Luther King Jr.? – The Case Against Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover. (Author’s note: I’ve been privy to an advance copy of this book for several weeks.) By referencing all available evidence and documents whilst drawing upon the extraordinary work of previous authors, most notably Dr William Pepper (to whom we shall return), but others as well — and in the process duly debunking both the renditions and reputations of several other authors whose names have frequently been linked with the official, yet totally bogus, narrative of his assassination, again most notably William Bradford Huie — Nelson delivers a thorough exposition of the real backstory behind one of modern American history’s most defining and traumatic events.

In doing so, as already indicated, the author shines the spotlight on two of the most reprehensible, coldblooded, megalomaniacal, treasonous, and criminally minded public figures ever to ‘grace’ the political stage and be accorded the public trust in the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free: Messrs Hoover and Johnson. Given the plethora of folks — both living and dead — who might fit the above profile, by any measure we can say that that is one very big call.

It’s axiomatic that there was no shortage of people throughout his reign who pissed Edgar off, a not especially difficult achievement even for those who went out of their way to avoid doing so. Hoover was to be sure one of the Great Haters in that aforementioned narrative. And there can be little doubt that it was King — along with Robert Kennedy and his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy — who invited Edgar’s hatred more so than anyone else. Hoover, along with LBJ — arguably the most unhinged, criminally psychopathic Oval Office occupant to date, an observation difficult to refute for those who take the time to read Nelson’s earlier work on the man; see here, here, and here — conspired to eliminate King. All up then, if there is a more symbiotically iniquitous alliance in the annals of U.S. political enterprise, then this writer who’d be keen to know about it.

Insofar as Nelson’s book is concerned, space herein precludes a detailed ‘blow by blow’ of the key dramatis personae involved in the King plot, the machinations behind it all, and the subsequent cover up that has endured to this day. In any event it is not the main purpose of this exercise. Suffice to say his meticulous deconstruction of the circumstances attending the assassination and the actual (versus the fabricated) facts related to it, and the now 50 year old campaign to preserve intact the official narrative, must now stand as the definitive account of this extraordinary event – both deeply shameful and tragic in equal measure — in America’s history.

That said, in a ‘cut to the chase’ kinda way, the following summary may be sufficient to inform those not overly familiar with some of the “actual facts”, and set the stage for what is to follow.

  1. a)  The assassination of MLK was planned more than 2 years before, and was the brainchild of Johnson and Hoover, with Edgar’s 2IC Clyde Tolson the point-man, ably abetted by Cartha “Deke” DeLoach;
  2. b)  The motivations for Hoover and LBJ were various and sometimes over-lapping, with Hoover having a visceral hatred of King because of his activism and his race, and LBJ resenting his popularity, political influence and vehement opposition to the Vietnam war;
  3. c)  The plotters cunningly planned to have the assassination portrayed from the off as the work of another “lone nut”, in Ray’s case, ‘[A] vicious Southern racist and hater, stalker, [and] murderer’, itself a total fabrication;
  4. d)  It was the famed novelist, William Bradford Huie, an old friend/crony of Hoover’s, who was given a “mission” to create this meme for Ray, one whose shelf life endures to this day, and from whom so many others took their lead in its perpetuation;
  5. e)  A civil trial in 1999 exonerated Ray (who’d died in prison the previous year just over 40 years after the murder), and it found that a government conspiracy was responsible for King’s murder, [and] that Ray was a ‘patsy’ with no knowing involvement in the hit.

From these basic premises, Nelson methodically unpacks this bespoke meme regarding James Earl Ray – as removed from reality as it could possibly be imagined — as the massive deceit that it was. He then presents us with a revised account in its place, based upon hard evidence that exonerates Ray. It needs be noted that Nelson’s account is supplemented by many other authors, including Harold Weisberg, Mark Lane, and, particularly, William Pepper.

Nelson also posits many instances of how government investigators — the FBI originally, then the Department of Justice in 1976, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigators in 1978, and the DOJ again in 2000 — deliberately avoided pursuing any and all leads which pointed toward Ray’s innocence. In the latter case, it is noteworthy this aversion to allowing the truth to emerge regarding King’s murder was presided over by none other than William Jefferson Clinton, a man who interestingly enough, like LBJ himself at least post-1963 — owed his political career in no small measure to the black vote.

The Most Notorious Liars in America

As regards J Edgar Hoover then, given that he ruled the roost at the FBI for almost half a century right up until his demise, he surely qualifies as one of the most enduring — if not quite endearing – characters in the Grand American Narrative. More to the point, Edgar was one hombre who in the popular American idiom might be described as ‘a piece of work, and then some’, an accolade that could’ve been coined with just him in mind. In this LBJ himself was no less “a piece of work”.

Whether together or separately, in almost everything they touched or became involved in, this “impact” however it might be identified and so defined rarely manifested itself in a good way. Moreover, that their behaviour and actions went against everything their country purported to represent to the world at large and was at odds with every principle and value they were sworn to uphold as per the hallowed Constitution and the rule of law is a given.

For his part, along with pissing off – and instilling abject fear in – a lot of very famous, important and powerful people, Hoover’s main talent was being able to keep a secret, including as it turned out not only his own ‘deepest and darkest,’ but some of Johnson’s as well. That is to say he knew ‘where the bodies were buried’, a statement that again we might reflexively equate with the life, personality, and times of LBJ himself.

It should be noted that at the time they were still strutting the political stage, few folks would have known whose “bodies” Hoover and LBJ actually knew about, how they became “bodies” in the first place, and/or how much their ‘resurrection’ at the time might have changed the course of events as we now know them to have done. In both cases we’re not just speaking figuratively here. Whether by accident, expediency, or design, such information almost always worked to both men’s advantage. Insofar as their respective legacies go, it probably does so to this day, several decades after they both passed on (within just over six months of each other).

It needs be noted at this point that readers should not expect this narrative to be gleefully embraced by the mainstream media, given that for half a century they have by omission or by commission avoided revealing anything remotely resembling the truth of the matter. As with almost any significant event in U.S. history and the key players therein, the mainstream media – including many purported progressive, ‘liberal’ types – have proven themselves tireless gatekeepers inoculating their constituencies against that virulent infection called ‘truth’ for fear such a ‘pandemic’ will overwhelm the immune system of the republic.

This is, of course, not just in the case of King’s assassination, but just about any significant episode in American history where accounts differing from the official narrative are at best patronisingly reported, or relegated to the realm of conspiracy theory. Indeed in his must view interview last year with James Corbett, William Pepper alluded to this reality.

Preserving the secrets of the republic is as much, if not indeed more so, about protecting the reputations of individuals as it is about defending the ever so fragile integrity of ‘hallowed’ institutions, the Fourth Estate being one of these, along with the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Congress, and, of course, the presidency itself, to name just a few that are especially relevant in this instance.

In a recent Washington Post piece by Tom Jackman, the title from the off gives us a hint of what to expect: “Who killed Martin Luther King Jr.? His family believes James Earl Ray was framed.” The perfunctory concession embodied in the title — that King’s family “believes” Ray was innocent – and the ensuing narrative ends up being far removed from actually presenting any authentic detail that supports that belief, or offering anything that might invite readers to explore the matter further.

One also suspects that if it was any one other than the King family itself making these assertions, they’d have been ignored at best, or at worst, dismissed as conspiracy theorists. Jackman — ever the dutiful MSM ‘presstitute’ it would seem, and in an apparent attempt to inject some balance and objectivity — cites David Garrow of all people, a ‘Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of MLK’.

As Jackman tells it, Garrow viewed the King family as part of a larger population of American people who ‘need to believe that the assassination of a King or a Kennedy must be the work of mightier forces’ rather than the victims “of small-fry, lifetime losers”‘, as if to suggest the victims of the assassinations in question were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As Jackman himself seems keen to emphasise (in the process holding up the Pulitzer winner as the go-to man on all things King), [Garrow he notes] is all but dismissive of such folks’ thinking: In Garrow’s palpably condescending opinion, ‘People need to see something of a balance between effect and cause’, he observes….[That] ‘if something has a huge evil effect, it should be the result of a huge evil cause.’ For those of us who’ve examined the whole “conspiracy theory” construct, this is a familiar trope, one that is trotted out with monotonous frequency.

Yet here is just one example of Nelson’s attention to detail in dismissing the likes of Garrow and other writers and authors of the King narrative, with Garrow himself a long way from being amongst the most egregious of those who’ve perpetuated the official narrative. Whilst acknowledging Garrow’s ‘partial revelations’ of Hoover’s ‘malfeasance and assorted criminal acts’ in his and the FBI’s campaign against King, Nelson states that these revelations ceased after the assassination.

He [Garrow] did not address the closing episode of King’s life; there is little reflection evident as to the forces that came to bear on King’s murder in Memphis within Garrow’s book, despite the intensive examination of them up until that point…. yet Garrow portrayed himself as the expert in later interviews on the subject. In not connecting anything he had examined up to 1968 with what happened next, he created a major disconnect.

Without any discernible nod to his own proclivities in this regard, it is interesting to note that Hoover himself once publicly designated MLK the “most notorious liar in America”. This Hooverian ‘accolade’ equally applies to not just the man himself, but his kindred spirit LBJ, along with the many authors who have ‘fought the good fight’ against truth and justice. It can and does also apply – albeit in the more collective sense – to the corporate media, whom I’ve hitherto described as the ‘praetorian guards of the empire’s liars’.

We are again talking about a recurring motif in the Grand Narrative then, and one which this writer has frequently cited as irrefutable evidence against that age-old truism: [that] ‘America doesn’t do irony’. Indeed, America does irony so well, it doesn’t realise how well it does “[do] irony”. To underscore this from a more contemporary perspective, the most accomplished purveyors of fake news are the corporate media, the very ones who are first to criticise any narrative that is at odds with their own. For those Americans then who harbour few illusions about their past history and the key political and public players who’ve populated it and driven the narrative, such observations will simply serve to underscore what many already know.

On the other hand, for those folks who, despite all evidence to the contrary, still see their country as the bastion of democracy, freedom, justice, equality, truth, and a force for good in the world – and may not have been acquainted with the individual and shared history of the aforementioned individuals – then this is a story which should leave one and all in a breathless state of disbelief, revulsion and shame. “Should” is the operative word herein; that “will” (ahem) should be in lieu thereof, may be expecting a tad too much.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

For his part, along with pissing off – and instilling fear in – a lot of very famous, important and powerful people, for his part Hoover’s main talent was being able to keep a secret, including as it turned out not only his own ‘deepest and darkest’, but some of Johnson’s own. That is to say he knew ‘where the bodies were buried’, another statement we might reflexively equate with the life, personality, and times of LBJ himself.

Again much the same can be said of the one man to whom he was most beholden, LBJ, even more so than Hoover. And although by no means the only one, this includes in LBJ’s case, one of the most prominent champions of liberal, progressive values in the media, a man named Bill Moyers. The recently retired Moyers has consistently refused to entertain a bad word about his former boss LBJ, which is understandable to some degree since he was complicit in many of his nefarious schemes whilst in office.

This included his proxy involvement in the harassment via Hoover’s FBI of the civil rights leader, which itself extended to the bugging of MLK’s phones, blackmail, in addition to death threats. Moyers even embroiled himself in a threat to sue the History Channel a few years back over a documentary series aired on the Channel that dared to suggest that LBJ was indeed a key plotter in the assassination of his predecessor. Well might we say: So much then for the purported liberal defenders of truth, justice, freedom of speech, and the American way.

Insofar as the MLK story goes, it is to Dr William Pepper that Nelson ‘dips his lid’ most prominently as being his most inspired source and the most indefatigable of investigators in the search for the real truth about the man’s murder, one of America’s most seminal and quintessential of ‘state crimes against democracy’. Pepper has written three books on this event, the latest being 2017’s The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

In his aforementioned interview with James Corbett, he reveals that in the forty plus years he’s been involved in investigating and reporting on the King assassination, he has spent over a million dollars of his own money and at one point relocated himself and his family to the UK as a resulta of numerous death threats. It is also notable that Pepper has given his seal of approval to Nelson’s more recent effort to add further insight into this extraordinary story. Here’s part of what he had to say (via email to this writer and Nelson):

Phil Nelson….has provided us with some valuable missing information about the actions of Lyndon Johnson in the context of events in the 1960’s. I’ve long believed the information given to me…about LBJ’s knowing involvement and collusion in the assassination of JFK. Nelson’s research about Johnson’s collaboration [with] and his support of the profoundly illegal and evil, public actions of J. Edgar Hoover [in the assassination of Martin Luther King] fills in many blanks and is a highly valuable historical contribution. I urge, and hope, that this work will be widely read.

If Nelson has written the definitive account of King’s murder then, it is to his credit that he goes out of his way to ensure that these people receive due acknowledgement for their contributions. This is not only evident in the course of the narrative itself, but was consistently reinforced to me in the recent conversations I had with him via Skype.

By the same token, Nelson has been unsparing in his criticism of those who have muddied the waters, and especially so of William Bradford Huie, the man whom Hoover personally tasked with authoring the meme that became irrevocably associated in the public’s mind regarding James Earl Ray. As Nelson tells it, Huie – a novelist it should be noted — reinvented Ray as a man completely at odds with his real persona. Instead of being depicted as ‘a backward, uneducated but non-violent man of low self-esteem’, Huie successfully remolded Ray into an aggressive, violent, hate-filled Southern-born racist whose main ambition in life was to see his name topping the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list. Huie did this via a series of lies, fabrications, and inventions, ‘presented as only a novelist could do’. He wasn’t even born in the south.

Being Black in America: The King Legacy Today

According to Eddie Glaude Jr., in a recent article titled “The Whitewashing — and Resurrection — of Dr. King’s Legacy“, the civil rights leader began second guessing the certainty of his ‘moral vision’. He’d “underestimated how deeply the belief that white people matter more than others was ingrained in the habits of American life.’ King apparently saw that white resentment was ‘not simply a sin of the South. It was embedded in the very psyche of white America”. When we consider the state of racial relations in America today – fifty years after LBJ’s Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964 – few could argue there’s been a substantive across the board shift for the better in the social, educational, financial, legal, economic, or political standing of African Americans. This is palpably obvious even to non-Americans, even after the election of a black president in 2009, and whose second term in office embraced the 50th anniversary of the Act. Yet his tenure was ironically characterised by an unprecedented uptick in racial tension, division and violence (again, obvious to anyone with a passing interest in the country’s national affairs), and it could be argued that the standing of African Americans is in so many respects worse than it was in 1964.

This realisation is made even more unsettling by the fact that Obama seemed disinterested in lending the weight of his office to meaningful leadership on the issue, or for that matter was incapable of grasping the gravity of the situation. One suspects if he’d spent more time addressing this issue than bailing out Wall Street criminals; attacking journalists and whistle-blowers for their attempts to hold his government to account; resisting the pressures of the neo-con crowd and their so-called liberal interventionist confreres to interfere in the affairs of other countries; and bombing wedding ceremonies in the Middle East and beyond – to name just a few of those activities to which he seemed more focussed on that those of the concerns of his fellow African Americans, we might be talking about a different reality for many of them today. This from a president who reportedly opined that the iconic TV series The Wire was one of his favourites shows!

In King’s final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, he argued in part that white supremacy stood in the way of America’s democracy, that it was an ever-present force in frustrating the dreams of the nation’s darker-skinned citizens. At the heart of it was a distorted understanding of the meaning of racial justice. He wrote:

Negroes have proceeded from a premise that equality means what it says, and they have taken white Americans at their word when they talked of it as an objective. But most whites in America … proceed from a premise that equality is a loose expression for improvement. White America is not even psychologically organized to close the gap–essentially it seeks only to make it less painful and less obvious but in most respects to retain it. This is a devastating judgment about our so-called national commitment to progress.…It reduces racial justice to a charitable enterprise by which white people “do good” for black people. This, in turn, provides white Americans with a necessary illusion that preserves the idea of innocence and insulates their conscience or, perhaps, their soul from guilt and blame.

One is left to ponder if King’s assessment isn’t as pertinent now as it was then.

And for those folks uncertain as to whether Johnson was a man capable of such a treasonous, criminal act as to arrange the murder of the most prominent African American of the ear, they might like to get up close and personal with Nelson’s 2012 book, LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination, wherein as the title suggests, he charges LBJ – convincingly so — with being the principal orchestrator of the assassination of his predecessor and the subsequent cover-up.

As we might rightly opine, that’s some “form” indeed!

And if that doesn’t do the trick, they should try reading this author’s account of the attempted sinking of the USS Liberty in 1967 by Israeli Defence Forces during the Six Day War, and from there consider LBJ’s direct role in planning and stage-managing both of these events. (See here and here.)

Not noted for being a conviction politician by any stretch, there was always a disconnect between Johnson’s drive to push his country to its limits in Vietnam (and beyond), and his drive to push the Great Society and its accompanying reforms (the War on Poverty anyone?) as far as he could. In keeping with his unique psychopathology, the Great Society was always all about LBJ. Any altruism embedded in its goals — these being egalitarianism, justice, equality, economic and social emancipation, and securing basic civil rights for African-Americans and other minorities in general — would have been foreign to the Johnson psyche.

By the same token LBJ, ever the consummate political chameleon and ‘chancer’, may just have been sucking up the zeitgeist; the Civil Rights movement at that time was unstoppable in any event. He knew supporting change in this area was one of many keys to his re-election in 1968, as well as providing him with extra ballast for his legacy, something that Johnson became increasingly obsessed with.

That is to say, there are still plenty of folks who’d refute any hard-core, warts ‘n all assessment of both these men, their tenure, and the sheer depth and breadth of damage they visited upon the republic, the fabric of which was very much torn and frayed at the time. It needs be noted this was during an era when, notwithstanding the intergenerational acrimony, economic inequality, social division, political turmoil, and cultural discord, of the times, said republic – or at least a sufficiently critical mass of its rank and file members — appeared to show some preparedness to reflect on the direction in which it was heading and what it might do about it.

For his part, in his championing of civil rights, social equality, justice, racial harmony, Martin Luther King both embraced, embodied, and echoed that promise, and there can be no doubt that that is what ‘scared the horses’ the most. That we haven’t seen anything quite like the movement he inspired since may be one of the most damning indictments on the prevailing political zeitgeist, and one of the most telling pointers to the republic’s future.

As for Johnson himself, like with his successor Obama mentioned earlier, had Johnson not embarked on his disastrous Vietnam adventure, there might have been some time, money, and energy remaining to devote to those issues that at the time really mattered to ordinary Americans, regardless of their colour.

There can be no doubt that his Great Society – no matter the potential and the promise it offered in principle – suffered from Johnson’s numerous other obsessions. Not least in this case his obsession with eliminating the very man who inspired the sentiment underpinning his whole civil rights/war on poverty crusade to begin with.

And they say, “Americans don’t do irony”. As I’m fond of pointing out, this author begs to differ.

  1. From: Who REALLY Killed Martin Luther King Jr.? – The Case Against Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover, © Phillip F. Nelson/Skyhorse Publishing. Pub. Date: April 17, 2018.

All Fire and Fury in Ukraine

A Shabby Deck of Political Cards

For those folks who haven’t seen Ukraine on Fire (UOF), the Oliver Stone-produced documentary on the on-going Ukrainian crisis, it is not overstating the case to say it’s an essential historical document and one of the most important, insightful political documentaries of recent times. It may also be one of the most portentous.

Quite apart from the illuminating history lesson the film delivers as a backdrop to the current situation in one of Europe’s most pivotal of battlegrounds, there are many takeaways from the film. To begin, it stands as a vital corrective of the disinformation, misinformation, evangelistic doublespeak, ersatz analysis, unadulterated agitprop, and plain old garden-variety groupthink that attended the public discourse on the events and developments in the country, and which ultimately framed most people’s views of the situation. Needless to say, the messages and impressions conveyed by this ongoing, relentless ‘psy-op’ cum fake news onslaught still ‘rules the roost’ in most people’s minds.

Further, the film’s narrative is highly revealing in the manner in which the Western mainstream media (MSM) reported on the events surrounding the turmoil and conflict. In the process it showcases how much the perfidious thought contagion spread by the ever-nefarious neoconservatives and their fellow travelers the liberal interventionists infects U.S. foreign policy, along with the foreign policies of America’s assorted vassal states. It underscores moreover Russia’s seemingly inexhaustible forbearance with the U.S., which, sans any rational, coherent geopolitical basis for doing so, has been tested beyond reasonable endurance or expectation. This point is rendered especially palpable during the interviews Stone conducts with Russian president Vladimir Putin for UOF. (This is not to mention the actual The Putin Interviews).

At the same time UOF reveals again for those looking at America’s recidivistic predisposition for interfering in the affairs of other countries; this is an observation that’s always been evident save for the most preternaturally ignorant, ideologically myopic, or imperially inclined. Given the present zeitgeist as reflected by the headline-hogging “soap-saga” of “Russia-gate” – buttressed by former CIA chief James Woolsey’s whimsically smug concession recently that America interferes in other countries’ affairs “only for a very good cause [and] in the interests of democracy” – this is a reality that cannot be overstated. This is especially so when there are all too few examples where anyone might point to America’s interference actually serving the democratic interests (by any way that might be objectively measured) of any given country one might care to name.

The narrative encompassed by UOF is by extension a serious indictment on President Barack Obama’s handling of the Ukraine situation and his role in the creation of this singularly unholy mess — a prime exemplar of just how chaotic, dysfunctional, indeed war-like, were in large part the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner’s foreign policies. Ukraine on Fire attests unequivocally just how far removed the reality of Obama’s tenure was from his campaign rhetoric.

More broadly, the disaster in Ukraine – as we’ll see is still a work in progress even now under his successor, someone who pledged to curtail this direction in U.S. policy making, a promise which in no small measure propelled him into the Oval Office — is one of many that will forever inform people’s views of Number 44’s shop-soiled legacy. As Eric Zuesse noted a year after the coup, Obama employed a tactic of:

…attacking Russia by using fundamentalist and other conservative extremists in a given Russia-allied nation, so as to turn that…nation away from Russia, and toward America, and then of trying to crush these same right-wing extremists who’ve been so effective in defeating (or at least weakening) the pro-Russian leader in that Russia-allied country. This tactic leaves civil war and enormous bloodshed in the given formerly (or still) Russia-allied nation.

Three years after Zuesse made this comment, and over one year after the Great Black Hope left office, that situation to all intents prevails, with few harboring any optimism things are going to get better anytime soon. In fact, ominously, quite the opposite scenario is unfolding. Earlier this year, Gilbert Doctorow reported that a new draft law adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament and awaiting president Petro Poroshenko’s signature, threatens to escalate the Ukrainian conflict into a full-blown war, pitting nuclear-armed Russia against the United States and NATO. “Due to dire economic conditions,” Doctorow says, “Poroshenko and other government officials in Kiev have become deeply unpopular, and with diminished chances for electoral success may see war as politically advantageous.”

As history indelibly reminds us, this is an all too frequently recurring scenario in the conduct of international affairs. In a statement that undercuts much of the furor over the Russia-gate imbroglio, Doctorow observes that in contrast to the image of Trump administration policies being dictated by Moscow as portrayed by proponents of Russia-gate conspiracy theories, “the United States is moving towards deeper confrontation with the Kremlin in the geopolitical hot spot of Ukraine. For its part, the Kremlin has very little to gain and a great deal to lose economically and diplomatically from a campaign now against Kiev. If successful, as likely would be the case, given the vast disparity in military potential of the two sides, it could easily become a Pyrrhic victory.”

Just as ominous is the following. As noted in an Oriental Review op-ed earlier this year, a new neo-Nazi revival is clearly in the offing. This is in a country where fascist/Nazi/extreme right sentiment, especially in the western regions, has a long, storied, and ugly history, one that rarely bubbles far from the surface.

Again, this “ugly history” was laid bare in Ukraine on Fire. After concluding that the current situation in Ukraine is ‘painfully reminiscent’ of Germany in the 1920s, the OR op-ed attributes:

… poor governance on the heels of a lost war, which – added to the sense of betrayed hopes and the sharp decline in average incomes coupled with rising prices – is all driving a critical mass of the Ukrainian population toward an overwhelming feeling of desperation. [My emphasis]

In an observation attended by a profound sense of déjà vu for even casual students of history, the op-ed goes on to say that “[A] demand from the public for a ‘strong hand’ – a new, authoritarian ruler – is rapidly coalescing, due to their dissatisfaction with President Poroshenko and all the other jokers they’ve been dealt from that shabby deck of political cards.” According to the op-ed, a man like that already exists in this ‘destitute and disintegrating’ country. Known as the “White Führer” to his comrades-in-arms, this man is Andriy Biletsky, the commander of the Azov Battalion who is making an ever-bigger name for himself in the Ukrainian parliament and across the broader political arena.

Open Season on Russia

Of course, all this only serves to highlight the pressures being brought to bear within the country itself; it is also those from without (not entirely unrelated to be sure) that are – or should be — of equal concern. Herein Doctorow again provides an alarming reveal. Although there are indications Washington is ‘fed up’ with the Kiev regime (and as Ukraine on Fire demonstrates conclusively, one it was responsible for installing in the first instance in 2014), he says:

…the United States has doubled down in its support for a military solution to the conflict. With military trainers now on the ground (does this development itself not have an ominously familiar ring to it?), and the U.S. budgeting $350m for security assistance to Ukraine, Washington has also recently started delivering lethal weapons, including the Javelin anti-tank missile system, free of charge to Kiev. [My emphasis].

In a Strategic Culture report, Robert Bridge recently offered an additional reality check on those external pressures. Instead of opting for a more balanced and cooperative foreign policy in its conduct of affairs in Eastern Europe, and specifically in its bilateral relationship with Russia, in his view, it was via the furphy of “Russia[n] aggression” – an allegation he says was “peddled to the unsuspecting masses based on fake news of a Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine and Crimea” – [that] the U.S. and NATO “dropped all pretensions [to cooperation] and declared open season on Russia.” [My emphasis]

This was, he notes, further compounded by assertions Russia manipulated the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and along with Donald Trump’s “empty threat” to pull the pin on NATO if member states did not pony up on additional defense spending, “Eastern Europe has [now] become a veritable hothouse of paranoia-driven militarization.”

We’ll return to this point later, but some backstory is essential here. Whether one has already seen Ukraine on Fire or not, it now comes complete with a hitherto unexpected layer of revelation and significance, given that the late Consortium News founder and editor Robert Parry is interviewed at length therein. Parry’s appearance in the film, poignantly as it turns out, underscores the man’s trailblazing achievements and his unimpeachable stature within the alternative, independent media cosmos.

For those folks constantly on the lookout for exemplars of journalism’s fundamental values, his input into the film’s narrative is a reminder to us all just how much his political insight and measured analysis will be missed. It goes without saying that those values have themselves been missing in action for some time in our mainstream media, as Parry himself – to his eternal chagrin – was all too aware. This is a state of affairs to which he spent the last two decades of his life exposing via the Consortium News masthead. So much so it seems, there was even some hint (by the man himself as it turns out) that the stress and pressure of being a media outlier had taken its toll and may have been the catalyst for the strokes he had in the weeks before his untimely death.

Yet Parry’s voluminous, in-depth commentary on Ukraine – including his many pieces on the controversy surrounding the still unresolved mystery of the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH-17 in eastern Ukraine in June 2014 (with 38 of my fellow Aussies on board) – was arguably second to none. His fierce, fearless criticism of those engaging in the aforementioned ‘groupthink’ – not just those in and around the Beltway but in the West in general (with as we’ll see my own country being a noteworthy example) — was insightful, along with his own reporting on events and developments as they unfolded over the months and years that followed 2014’s color revolution which culminated in the coup d’état.

Many of Parry’s observations in the film are reflective of, and derived from, that commentary, as those who followed his reporting closely on the Ukraine situation over the years will appreciate. He was acutely aware that one could not have a discussion of the key geopolitical events and developments of our time without some serious examination of the manner in which the corporate media manages (read: “massages”) the narratives that frame the Big Issues therein. As noted, in this Parry was unremitting in his disdain for those of his fellow “investigative journalists” who had sold their souls for the filthy lucre, the celebrity status, and/or the comfortable, secure tenure at one of the “premium” corporate media marques. To him, at best, they were perception managers; at worst glorified stenographers. (For others perhaps less tactful or more scornful than Parry, they were/are simply “presstitutes”!)

Yet for all that disdain, Parry possibly reserved even greater contempt for the “marques” that employed the “presstitutes”, with the New York Times and the Washington Post being singled out for frequently justified, laser-like reproach. To be sure, that was just with the print media. In this the reporting on the Ukraine crisis provides an exemplar – albeit by no means the only one – of just how self-serving, venal, hypocritical, supercilious, irresponsible, and manifestly dishonest the corporate media were. And, of course, they still are, each day sliding further and further into irrelevance as they blithely betray both the hallowed U.S. Constitution and the citizens of the country whose individual and collective interests they are increasingly at pains to validly claim to represent, and whose democratic institutions – along with the rights that are purportedly underwritten by said “institutions” – [they] are supposed to protect.

‘Shirt-fronting’ the Mainstream Fakery

Such a damning indictment of Western media was brought home in spades in the aftermath of the MH-17 disaster. It was a 60 Minutes Australia report on the tragedy that really got his gander up, and in this writer’s view, rightly so. At the time I was preparing my own take on MH-17, when the 60 Minutes segment aired.

I immediately alerted Bob to the report, knowing full well that given his earlier commentary on the tragedy and his views on MSM reporting in general, he’d be less than impressed with the conclusions they arrived at from their “investigation.” Much of this commentary by 60 Minutes was based on the dubious findings of Bellingcat (aka Eliot Higgins), a self-styled open source ‘citizen journalist’ who claimed to have the ‘skinny’ on who was responsible for the disaster.

Now space prohibits herein a full account of the circumstances surrounding the shoot-down, nor does it lend itself to a ‘blow by blow’ of the ‘argy-bargy’ between the 60 Minutes crew and their much touted source Higgins, and Parry himself. Suffice to say there seemed to be few limits to the indignation the former all managed to muster when the intrepid Consortium Newsman had the temerity to meticulously and relentlessly challenge their account of the tragedy.

(Those unfamiliar with this dust-up – one that perfectly case studies the vast gulf that exists between MSM reportage on MH-17 and that of a respected alternative news outlet – can see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for some of the commentary the ‘stoush’ elicited and examples of the ‘he said, she said’ exchanges between the respective antagonists.)

It needs be noted that there was much political capital to be gained by those in Washington and most of America’s allies in the West by blaming Russia for the MH-17 tragedy. The U.S. and said allies had already blamed the crisis in Ukraine that derived from the February 2014 coup on Russian “aggression” and Putin’s purported ambitions to resurrect the Soviet Union. So in one sense it was to be expected they’d seek to capitalize on this disaster by blaming the Russians.

Western leaders to this end began tripping over themselves in singling out ‘Vlad the Derailer’ as the bad guy du jour, all the while doing so unencumbered by anything approximating solid evidence to support this stance. As we might expect with the Russia-gate saga, to this day, no definitive proof of the hard-core forensic kind has been presented to identify exactly how the plane was shot down (was the missile launched from the air or from the ground?), much less who actually perpetrated the act (was it the anti-Russian Ukrainian military, the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, or the Russians themselves?) Again, to this day, the questions as to whether the plane was deliberately targeted (was it a false-flag attack?, or did it just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time), also remain unanswered.

As noted, the downing of MH-17 cost the lives of 38 Aussies, and the fallout from the tragedy – to say nothing of the way the disaster was politicized in order to serve the broader geopolitical objectives of the Beltway Bedlamites and their apparatchiks at home along with their counterparts in other Western nations – was especially pronounced Down Under. Our then Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who took to sculling the Washington Kool-Aid by asserting it was Putin himself who was “personally responsible” for the disaster, was especially bolshie in his reaction. Ahead of Putin’s visit to this country in November 2014 for the G20 meeting in Brisbane that year, Abbott threatened to “shirt-front” the Russian president over the issue when they officially met up. Whilst this made for great headlines here and abroad, it did nothing to arrest his slide in the opinion polls, which one can reasonably surmise was at the time in the back of his mind. All in all, coming from a national leader on the world stage, this unprecedented, petulant outburst was something to behold.

But such was the fervor of the times regarding MH-17, and more broadly, the anti-Russian sentiment that prevailed earlier in the year over Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine in the aftermath of America’s bespoke coup d’état. Clearly Abbott’s desire to leverage the public outrage here in Australia that accompanied the tragedy and to ingratiate himself with the Bedlamites far outweighed any obligation that might’ve routinely accompanied a more measured diplomatic response. (It was after all to no avail; Abbott’s hold on the Aussie ‘premiership’ was itself ‘shirt-fronted’ about a year after making this comment, being successfully challenged for the leadership by the present PM Malcolm Turnbull.)

It should further be noted that many folks – mostly after the fact – justified the removal of the then Ukrainian government because it was irredeemably corrupt. This, of course, is a specious and convenient argument – a ‘justification’ that makes frequent cameos in the annals of regime change – partly so in this case because there’s little evidence the replacement regime has been any less corrupt.

But this raises an altogether different, arguably more important, consideration: If Uncle Sam had removed every last one of the countless client tyrants he’s had on his imperial dance card over the decades on the sole basis of their ethical, moral and/or legal standards of governance, adherence to democratic principles, and/or general political probity, it’s fair to surmise the geopolitical terrain might look as different today as the lunar landscape does to an as yet still pristine portion of the Amazonian rainforest. And the U.S. might still retain – and be able to credibly lay claim to – some of the moral capital it had accrued by war’s end in 1945, which few would argue it has now all but frittered away.

Of course, if we really want to push the envelope herein invoking moral relativism, we only need consider that – notwithstanding what it says on the box – America itself is hardly a bastion of “ethical, moral and/or legal standards of governance, [adherence to] democratic principles, and/or general political propriety.” Its ‘unblemished’ track record of thuggery and skullduggery implementing regime change on every continent except the Great White Patch on the “backside” of the Big Blue Ball is ample evidence of that. This is without even referencing its performance closer to home drawing on such benchmarks! It’s a “practice what you preach” thing!

Further, there was and remains no smoking gun evidence linking Russia or the Eastern Ukrainian, pro-Russian separatists to the MH-17 shoot-down, and therefore no sound rationale for Washington accusing either of complicity in this crime without ponying up with said evidence. If anything, the longer the dog-not-barking question of why the U.S. refused to release all of the forensic evidence and ‘intel’ related to the shoot-down remains unanswered, the more we should rightfully suspect any findings by the MH-17 investigation team (if they ever see the light of day) – one it has to be emphasized, suspiciously included representatives from the at least equally suspect Kiev regime.

Moreover, for the U.S. to have imposed a further regimen of economic sanctions as a consequence without at least awaiting the outcome of the official investigation spoke further volumes about Washington’s deeper game-plan vis-à-vis Ukraine and ultimately, Russia itself. And it would appear we are now seeing that “game-plan” come to a fruition of sorts. Again, to underscore all of this, in one of Parry’s last substantive analyses of the Ukraine situation back in June last year, he summed a decidedly more coherent reality for us all.

‘As the New York Times instructed us’ he observed in 2015, ‘there was no coup in Ukraine….no U.S. interference…and there weren’t even that many neo-Nazis. And the ensuing conflict wasn’t a resistance [movement] among Yanukovych’s supporters to his illegal ouster; no, it was “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”’ Parry didn’t spare the horses:

If you deviate from this groupthink – if you point out how U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland talked about the U.S. spending $5 billion on Ukraine; mention her pre-coup intercepted phone call with [Ukrainian] U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who the new leaders would be and how “to glue” or [how to] “midwife this thing”; note how Nuland and Senator John McCain urged on the violent anti-Yanukovych protesters; recognize that snipers firing from far-right-controlled buildings killed both police and protesters to provoke the climactic ouster of Yanukovych; [and if] you think all that indeed looks like a coup – you obviously are the victim of “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

But as Parry glumly observed, thanks to the mainstream U.S. media, most Americans didn’t get to hear about any of that as, “[I]t has essentially banned those deviant facts from the public discourse. If they are mentioned at all, they’re lumped together with ‘fake news’ amid the reassuring hope that soon there’ll be algorithms to purge such troublesome information from the Internet.”

And for anyone whose “blowback antennae” are attuned to such matters, we cannot escape one abiding reality regarding the MH-17 disaster: If the putsch-meisters of the Potomac had minded their own business from the off and left well enough alone in Ukraine, irrespective of the cause of the shoot-down and who was responsible, we do know around three hundred innocent people would still be going about their business, and we wouldn’t be having this ‘conversation’. Four years later this is a reality I’ve yet to hear voiced by anyone in the MSM or in the upper echelons of Western governments. [My emphasis].

From Nobel Peace Prize to Imperial Warmonger

Last but not least, consider the following. For this writer, it remains incomprehensible that a U.S. State Department official – in this case the aforementioned Ms Nuland (aka The Maidan Cookie Monster) – would seemingly act in such a brazenly undiplomatic manner in bringing about this coup, a reality that as we’ve seen independent media folks like Robert Parry were at pains to bring to wider attention. It is in this instance particularly that the “he who lies first, lies best” maxim really comes to the fore.

Yet there can be no doubt that Nuland initiated this action with Obama’s full knowledge, with it being as much, if not moreso, Obama’s mess as it is Nuland’s and her neo-con cronies. Well might we say, “cue Harry Truman’s “the buck stops here!”

Of equal or greater concern herein is this. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noted with considerable bewilderment and dismay, the Kiev regime’s deployment – again with the full knowledge, approval indeed encouragement of the regime renovators in Washington – of extreme neo-Nazi forces in facilitating its rise to power from the off, and enforcing since the coup its brutal, illegitimate rule. As noted earlier, they are again getting their second wind.

Given the neoconservatives well-documented vise-grip on U.S. foreign policy in general, and their role in engineering said coup in particular – especially that of the Nuland/Kagan/ex-PNAC factions and their fellow travelers in the U.S. Congress such as McCain, who number amongst them some of the most prominent, so-called “American friends of Israel” – I’m at something of a loss as to how best to explain the glaring disconnect herein.

Of course, America’s foreign policy “initiatives” over the decades have always embraced an “end justifies the means” precept; only the most naïve or ill informed would deny this. But for most objective observers – even those of us all too familiar with the CIA’s notorious Operation Paperclip, (or its equally infamous ‘cousin’ Operation Gladio), wherein the U.S. actively recruited under-the-radar not-so-rehabbed former Nazis and extreme right wing elements to fight on any number of fronts the Cold War against the Soviets – this is breaking new ground in its embrace of the precept. Prima facie, this has to represent another glaring WTF ‘mo’ in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Geopolitics makes strange bedfellows one might reasonably conclude! And transforms Nobel Peace Prize winners into imperial warmongers!

Or is it possible I’m once again missing something obvious here? How are all these “American friends of Israel”, either inside or outside of the Capitol ‘tent’, able to reconcile their on-going support of a regime utilizing such forces – whose pernicious ideology being synonymous with rabid anti-Semitism would one imagines, be totally abhorrent to Jewish folks and right-thinking non-Jews alike – under any circumstances? As it turns out, the so-called “friends” have been bending butt over backwards since the coup denying, playing down, or completely ignoring this “disconnect”. It is only begrudgingly and belatedly they – along with their hacks, flacks and lackeys in the MSM – were able to bring themselves to concede there has been and remains any such neo-Nazi involvement in Ukraine, much less acknowledge any such “disconnect”.

Another key question here is this. How does the all powerful AIPAC and various Jewish/Israel lobby groups and affiliated bodies feel about their “American friends” precipitating and engaging in regime change missions that involve the use and on-going embrace of neo-Nazi forces? Is this just some fuzzy ‘post-modern’ perversion of realpolitik at work here, and I’m simply too naive or stupid to understand what the hell is going on and what the end-game might be? And now that the neo-Nazi ‘natives’ are becoming increasingly restless as noted — their frustration with their nominal patrons within the present regime’s hierarchy reaching boiling points — it’ll doubtless make for interesting times ahead.

All this, of course, without considering the added reality of these extreme right-wing factions possibly combining forces and cozying up in a Nazi/fascist/white supremacist group hug cum love-fest with radical jihadist/Islamic militant groups in what could likely shape up to be an exceedingly bloody counter-coup, along with the equally likely prospects of the Ukrainian economy imploding in the interim, or at least in the wake of the turmoil induced by any such coup!

On these matters alone, I’m prepped nonetheless to be enlightened as to how/when anything good is likely to come out of America’s color revolution and regime renovation experiment in this part of the geopolitical landscape. And when it comes to the situation in Ukraine, one that has emanated directly from America’s interference in its political affairs in 2014 (after, it has to be said, an unsuccessful one there ten years earlier, well might we ask of the aforementioned, former CIA chief spook Woolsey: How’s that ‘[we] only [do it] for a very good cause [and] in the interests of democracy’ thing workin’ out for ya Jimbo?’

Yet whilst these are just some of the reality checks needed in order to assemble a measure of veracity and insight regarding all things Ukraine, such “checks” one imagines are, and will remain for sometime, asynchronous with the narratives disseminated via Washington’s anti-Putin, anti-Russian ‘brochure.’

And one final point if I may. If Putin and his Kremlin gremlins did indeed do some kind of a dodgy deal with Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election in order to get him across the line ahead of Hillary Clinton – the only story that seems to capture the attention of the MSM mavens these days – it would be fair to say that the otherwise estimable Russian president and his beloved Motherland are getting well and truly shafted. Maybe Putin isn’t as clever as we give him credit for? To be so artfully duped by a dope like The Trumpster? Oh, the ignominy of it all!

Yet, all that aside, wouldn’t many of us just love to hear what the estimable and dutifully righteous Mr Parry might’ve had to say about more recent and possible developments in the country that interestingly – according to German historian Kees Boterbloem — was affectionately known back in the day as “Little Russia”?

But, of course, that’s not going to happen. I can only hope this missive in some small – if not (ahem) short – measure, passes for the next best thing!

With Friends Like These (Who Needs Allies?)

[For Australia] it is one thing to remain a good friend, but too close an embrace will lead Americans and others to resurrect the “deputy sheriff” tag. The Americans have always put their own interests first and will continue to do so; we should follow their good example. American interests will not always be the same as Australian and vice versa. The bottom line, however, is the domestic political one. Australians are afraid of the outside world and convinced of their inability to cope with it. Any Australian government which suggested that we do without a great and powerful friend to look after us would have to consider the electoral implications.

Cavan Hogue, former Ambassador and Dep. Permanent Representative when Australia was last on the UN Security Council. He has also served as head of mission in Mexico, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and Bangkok, along with other posts. He is an Adjunct Professor in International Communication at Macquarie University, Sydney.

The Brief: By and large, the Australian-U.S. alliance is considered by the majority of the political, policy and media elites on both sides of the Pacific Pond to be mutually beneficial, indeed essential. But behind this pact, like as with so many countries with economic, strategic and/or military ties to the empire du jour, there are downsides, ones rarely acknowledged — and when they are, often rejected — in public discourse. More Australians, though, are beginning to express concern about the alliance, itself borne out by recent PEW research findings. This mindset is occasioned in no small measure by the increasingly heavy-handed influence the U.S. seeks to exert globally, exemplified as much by its well-documented interference in the affairs of other countries and its propensity for imposing its frequently self-serving economic and strategic agenda on the international community. Along with examining why Australia might benefit from re-assessing the oft-presumed benefits of this partnership, and from there, seeking a more independent pathway, we will also reveal some of the past history of this complex — and for the U.S. especially in the ongoing pursuit of its global ambitions, sure to be an increasingly vital — geopolitical partnership.

High Dudgeon in Low Latitudes

When it comes to my country Australia, to the extent that less worldly Americans might think about it, amongst the first things likely to come to mind are kangaroos, convicts, koala bears, and Crocodile Dundee. Far beyond just broadening folks’ geographical awareness and cultural horizons, the following should provide a deeper appreciation of how our past history has fatefully intertwined with that of the United States. In so many cases this shared past has been to our detriment (our involvement in Korea, Vietnam, for example, with Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen being more recent notable examples).

As we’ll see this includes one momentous and consequential CIA-inspired gambit that culminated in the ousting of our duly elected prime minister (PM). In short, a coup d’état, the hammer in the U.S. foreign policy toolbox, and a recurring theme in The Company’s playbook. In a recent interview with the Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, author and historian Alfred McCoy touched on this very subject. He was speaking with Scahill about his forthcoming book In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power. Citing numerous examples, McCoy went on to say that, all around the globe…any time that there was a serious electoral contest in which the outcome was critical to our geopolitical interests, the U.S. was intervening.’[Emphasis added.]

With the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election now a self-replicating meme, the profound irony of McCoy’s statement should not be lost on anyone. In a recent piece I also examined Uncle Sam’s decades long penchant for coups and colour revolutions, but perhaps the least known ‘beneficiaries’ of America’s well-documented regime renovation gambits involved Australia. As with the Iranian coup of 1953, ably backed up on this occasion by British intelligence in the form of MI6, the CIA had their not always plausibly deniable prints all over the 1975 Constitutional Crisis that triggered the dismissal – the firing in effect — by the then Governor-General Sir John Kerr, of Gough Whitlam, the PM of the time and his whole government. As it turns out, the history of the CIA’s clandestine involvement in Australian politics is a story that is well documented. But like so many of these things often are, it is a history that is far from familiar even to most Australians, let alone Americans.

Indeed, insofar as the dismissal of Whitlam went, this was one of these situations where the indelible Henry Kissinger maxim prevailed:

I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the [Ed. Note: insert name of offending country here] voters to be left to decide for themselves.

Few would argue that Australia was experiencing a “serious electoral contest” at the time of this crisis, and it was one that certainly qualified as “critical” to U.S. “geopolitical interests”. In succumbing to its interventionist impulses, however, whether America was justified in the covert actions it took is an entirely different matter. The track record in so many other countries would lead most to suggest it wasn’t.

As Australia’s own dissident elder statesman and renowned filmmaker and investigative journalist John Pilger noted in a piece he wrote in 2014 eulogising Whitlam’s passing at age 94, Kerr was not just the “Queen’s man” in Australia; prior to being appointed as Australia’s head of state, he had “long standing ties” to both Britain’s MI6 and the CIA. Whitlam, who assumed power in 1972 after twenty-three years of conservative rule by a coalition of the Liberal and then Country (now National) parties, tellingly a ruling clique increasingly viewed by many as too subservient to Washington, believed that a foreign power shouldn’t control his country’s resources or dictate its economic, military and foreign policies.

Even though he’d visited China the previous year in his capacity as opposition leader, the eventual aim to both recognize that country and open up diplomatic relations once in office, he was hardly a card-carrying, left-wing radical. Yet the freshly minted Aussie PM was treated at first by many in and across the Washington establishment with no small measure of suspicion, paranoia, and later, by outright contempt and animosity. This tellingly extended to the palace intriguer nonpareil and then resident coup-meister du jour Henry Kissinger, along with his boss the estimable U.S. president Richard Milhous Nixon, a man with “suspicion”, “paranoia”, “contempt”, and “animosity” to spare.

Yet in seeking an entente of sorts with China, the political visionary Whitlam wasn’t just ahead of his time; he was way ahead of both of these folks in playing the Great Game as it was beginning to unfold then in Asia. As history tells it, less than twelve months later both Kissinger and “Tricky” were making a beeline to Beijing to do same, the media breathlessly announcing Nixon’s impending trip during Whitlam’s visit. To the best of this writer’s knowledge, there’s no record of either Nixon or his Grand Vizier publicly acknowledging Whitlam’s history-making diplomatic initiative and geopolitical meisterstroke. It seems safe to say then that these much touted masters of international diplomacy and consummate practitioners of realpolitik would’ve been less than impressed that a political neophyte from Down Under of all places – not even yet in high office — had shown them both a clean pair of heels on both counts!

Described by Pilger as a ‘maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety’ (he wasn’t even of the left of his party, let alone communist), amongst other things Whitlam pledged to pull Australia out of Vietnam, provide universal health care, abolish university fees, and tellingly, proposed to “buy back the farm“, a term which would’ve come loaded with all manner of hidden meaning for many from Wall Street to Washington. Suffice it to say this was akin to Tonto telling the Lone Ranger he was moving on and that he could no longer count on him to have his back once the silver bullets ran out and the Native Americans began closing in on them. Kemo Sabe, it’s fair to say, would not have been in the least bit pleased!

Whitlam had positioned himself then as an Antipodean version of Guatemala’s Jacobo Arbenz Guzman or his contemporary Chile’s Salvador Allende, (Chile incidentally, being the country Kissinger was referring to earlier) although one should add our politically ill-fated PM got off very light compared to Allende. Above else, he subscribed to basic principles of national sovereignty and self-determination in the management of our political economy, with any notion of empire or hegemony, much less any outward manifestation of it, being utterly anathema to him.

To say Australia – arguably America’s most steadfast to a fault U.S. vassal state — had not experienced anything quite like it before or since is an understatement of heroic proportions. And the reason why it has not happened since that time is simple: Our politicians, especially those from the nominally left side of politics, to their credit (dubious as such “credit” might be for many) learned their lesson well. They have behaved themselves for the duration, with now little sign any of Whitlam’s political heirs in the Labor Party will ever try and repeat history anytime soon.

In what many Americans I suspect will view as a not dissimilar state of play on their own turf, there is little daylight between the foreign policy positions of both our major political parties. In our case this is especially so when it comes to Australian-U.S. relations (much like one suspects that of the U.S-Israeli relationship where each party tries to top each other in its demonstrations of fealty to Tel Aviv, the key distinction being that the roles of David and Goliath are reversed), and that of ANZUS, the formal foreign policy and military-intelligence-security alliance that both underpins these relations.

Screwing Around and Bouncing Up and Down (Spies Amongst the Pines)

For our purposes herein it is instructive to look at the backstory of this prototype colour revolution. Space herein precludes a blow-by-blow of the intrigue and complex machinations that brought about Whitlam’s downfall, and we’ll revisit this regime renovation project in a future narrative in more detail. Suffice to say that a number of ‘household’ “Deep State” names either played key roles in the removal of Whitlam or made not insignificant cameos in the plot’s trajectory. Admittedly they did so ever so discreetly whereby it wasn’t until sometime later the true, if still incomplete, nature of their roles were revealed, an all too familiar leitmotif in the annals of CIA-inspired regime change management.

(This was especially applicable so in relation to the notorious Nugan-Hand Bank (NHB) scandal, a John le Carre meets Warren Zevon epic ‘Lawyers, Guns, Drugs, ‘n Money’-like saga that prologued early in the Whitlam era and which is ‘up there’ with the best ‘entertainment’ that the CIA’s “Family Jewels” chronicle has to offer. Along with recounting the deeper narrative of Whitlam’s career demise, we will look into the NHB Thing in a future article.)

At this point it’s enough to know the main catalysts for the coup. This requires an overview of some of the history and strategic nature of the U.S.-Australian relationship itself, if for no other reason than most Americans (and doubtless more than a few of my fellow Aussies) would probably not appreciate the importance to the U.S. – indeed, to the Anglo-American alliance overall – of this long-standing, albeit one-sided, marriage of convenience. As always with these things, context and perspective matters. If it indeed was a “marriage”, then it was one made less in heaven than in Washington, unless America’s capital might, in an as yet unimagined alternative universe, qualify as some idyllic empyrean equivalent thereof, a ‘meditation’ of sorts even its most deluded, deranged denizens might have difficulty undertaking.

As one of the Five Eyes, Australia for this reason alone, was not then – nor now — just another tin-pot, “Third World” backwater on the butt-end of the Big Blue Ball. For one thing our location, to say nothing of our sheer size, our modern economic and industrial infrastructure, our political stability, our continental island nation status along with its isolation, provided then as now the near perfect locus point from which the U.S. could project into the Asian region its all-encompassing hegemonic ambition via the charter explicit in its ‘full-spectrum dominance‘ strategy. As in real estate, in geopolitics we might argue it’s also about “location, location, and location!” These considerations are even more critical now, some might opine existentially so. This is especially so with the ascendancy of China both strategically and economically, along with more broadly that of the East Asian, and increasingly South and Central Asian, nations.

It might surprise most Americans (and again, no doubt a few Aussies as well), that one of the most vital components of the U.S. imperial communications network is located at Pine Gap in the middle of the continent. This controversial, state-of-the-art facility forms the centre piece of our Five Eyes contribution, and has done going back well before Whitlam’s heyday. So important is this facility, it’s arguable that without Pine Gap, the Apollo program – including the 1969 moon landing — would not have been possible.

But Pine Gap was never just about getting a man on the moon and back: Of even greater relevance for our purposes, the facility serves as the linchpin satellite reconnaissance station for spying and surveillance of friend and foe alike. Its principal task throughout the Cold War was keeping a keen eye on those decidedly untrustworthy Soviets, essentially monitoring how diligently they were adhering to arms control treaties and nuclear testing agreements. The Pine Gap facility remains still an integral component of the central nervous system of the imperial panopticon.

For this reason alone it is worth explaining a little more about its current raison d’etre. Along with affirming Pine Gap as the most important communications facility outside [the U.S.], performing a vital role in the collection of a wide range of ‘signals-intelligence’, Richard Tanter of The Nautilus Institute of Security and Sustainability (NISS) notes also that it functions in, ‘providing early warning ballistic missile launches, targeting of nuclear weapons, providing battlefield intelligence data for U.S. armed forces operating in Afghanistan and elsewhere….critically supporting….missile defence, supporting arms control verification, and contributing targeting data to drone attacks.’

As Aussie-based geopolitical analyst Binoy Kampmark notes drily in a recent piece on the 50th anniversary of Pine Gap and the controversy such milestones inevitably give rise to:

…all this cut, dried and smoked material [in the NISS Report] conveys the relevance of Australia’s continued geographical role as a dry goods merchant for Washington. It supplies the isolation and the means for the U.S. imperium, as officials in Canberra keep mum about the sheer extent [to which] Pine Gap operates. It also supplies the bloodied hand that assists U.S.-directed drone strikes in theatres where neither Washington nor Canberra are [sic] officially at war. Australia remains America’s glorified manservant. [Emphasis added.]

As Pilger again has noted, from the off Whitlam didn’t exactly go out of his way to endear himself to Washington’s elites or the U.S. security establishment, akin to waving a red flag in a wounded bull’s face. Soon after his euphoric, Obama-like election triumph in 1972, he ordered that his staff should not be “vetted or harassed” by the Australian Security & Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) — then, as now, effectively a wholly owned subsidiary of The Company. Moreover, when his ministers publicly condemned the U.S. bombing of Vietnam as “corrupt and barbaric”, according to Pilger, an unnamed CIA station officer in Saigon said: ‘We were told the Australians might as well be regarded as North Vietnamese collaborators.’

Whitlam stretched Washington’s friendship further by demanding to know if the CIA was running a spy base at Pine Gap. Notwithstanding its official, somewhat anodyne function as described by NISS, Pine Gap was a giant vacuum cleaner, one which, as Edward Snowden revealed, allows the U.S. to spy on everyone everywhere. ‘Try to screw us or bounce us’, the prime minister warned the then US ambassador Marshall Green – himself a Kissinger hatchet-man, and a key architect of the 1965 Indonesian coup ushering in the decades long rule of ‘klepto-brutocrat’ and U.S. client dictator President Suharto, resulting in the wholesale massacre of upwards of 1m people – [and Pine Gap] will become a matter of contention’. Widely seen as something of a ‘coup-master’ himself, Green was, in Pilger’s summation, an imperious, sinister figure who worked in the shadows of America’s “deep state”. Indeed, an alarmed audience member hearing his first speech to the Australian Institute of Directors described it as, an incitement to the country’s business leaders to rise [up] against the government’.

As for Whitlam’s implied threats regarding Pine Gap, to say such utterances ruffled a few feathers in Washington would be an understatement, and it’s probably safe to say [that] from that day onwards, Whitlam’s political career – and Australia’s short-lived independence — entered its fateful downward trajectory. According to Pilger, Victor Marchetti, the legendary CIA officer who later went ‘rogue’ by writing a ‘kiss ‘n tell’ expose on The Company and who was actually involved in setting up the facility, told him that, ‘This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House…[after which] a kind of Chilean [coup] was set in motion.’

The Wicked Witch was Dead

It’s worth noting that the highly classified intelligence that Pine Gap gathered was deciphered and later revealed publicly by Christopher Boyce, who worked for a company called TRW, at the time a CIA contractor. Boyce was troubled by the deception and betrayal of an ally and this was apparently what motivated him to do what he did. This espionage narrative was later turned into a film called The Falcon and the Snowman (from a book by Robert Lindsay of the same name), and amongst other revelations Boyce disclosed that the CIA had infiltrated Australia’s political and trade union elite and they actually referred to the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, as “our man Kerr”.

Boyce, who eventually did twenty-five years in prison for treason for selling secrets to the Soviets, in a wide-ranging 2014 interview, again confirmed his belief that the CIA was behind Kerr’s decision to oust Whitlam, by using a little known Constitutional provision that enabled the head of state (Kerr) to revoke Whitlam’s commission, and appoint a caretaker government. In CIA circles at the time he said, ‘you couldn’t say Whitlam’s name without the spooks…looking nauseated. He was viewed as a threat to the [Pine Gap] project…’ On the day of Whitlam’s dismissal he recalled the reaction of the CIA folks whom he liaised with:

[There] was a party, it was jubilation. The wicked witch was dead, you know. He was gone, nothing more to worry about. And it was just a sense of relief because they really did think he was going to close [Pine Gap] down. He was going to turn off our eyes, and they were worried, you know.

At this point also we require an appreciation of how we morphed from being at the beck and call of the British Empire to playing a similar role vis a vis the U.S. imperium. Again the man who provides us a most illuminating insight into the events of 1975 is our own John Pilger. In seeking to break free from the confines of U.S. imperial power, Whitlam was up against as much opposition internally as he came up against externally, a not uncommon scenario where a new ruling party in an ostensible independent nation decides to take it up to Washington. And although his removal from office in such an unprecedented, unceremonious manner doubtless never figured into his trail-blazing reform calculus, in Pilger’s summation, Whitlam had few illusions about what might lie ahead of him, in either the domestic or foreign policy front.

In the post-World War Two era, having by then weaned ourselves off the attachments to imperial Britain that attended our former colonial status, the legacy of which remained intact despite the country becoming an independent Federation in 1901, Australia’s political establishment was nonetheless wedded to the notion of dependence on a Great Power alliance for its national security. After all, to this end we’d dutifully served perfidious Albion from the Boer War to the Boxer Rebellion, from the Great War on up to the “Good War” (WWII), with interestingly little or nothing to show for such fealty to an empire which by then had morphed into the ancien régime. If this sounds like Britain got the better part of the deal then so be it, and it also begs another question as to whether anything has changed, a theme to which we shall return.

After WWII, that new Great Imperial Power, of course, was the United States, although admittedly in the immediate post-war years this incipient status was not immediately apparent. Less than five years after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ending the war in the Pacific, Australia once again found itself sucking up to empire in Korea, and fifteen years after that, in Vietnam, a war in which, as befitting our vassal status, we virtually begged to become involved. It was “same horse, different cowboy!”

For his part investigative journalist Jonathan Kwitny, in his seminal 1987 classic expose The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA noted that Kerr was a fully paid up subscriber to the long-since defunct Australian Association for Cultural Freedom (AACF), effectively the Antipodean ‘franchise’ of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. The CCF was a U.S. based entity established by the CIA in 1950 whose mission ostensibly was to combat Communism and Soviet propaganda, and by extrapolation, to promote global democratic principles, at least as they were defined (then as now in a moving feast kinda way) by Uncle Sam. If this sounds awfully familiar for some, it is meant to be. Which is to say, clearly the Washington regime change playbook has been around so long now it’s no longer subject to copyright!

Founding secretary of the AACF was a man called Richard Krygier, who also founded, and became the first editor of, Quadrant, a conservative Aussie periodical (still ‘Johnnie Walker’), also originally funded by AACF and the CIA. Put another way, the AACF was an early forerunner to the types of front organisations such as Freedom House and the infamous, democracy-defying National Endowment for Democracy (NED). These NGOs as we now know are much favored by the Langley crowd and their neo-conservative confreres the Beltway Bedlamites, their titular nomenclature in true Orwellian practice masking a raison d’être somewhat at odds with their real mission. Indeed, it was organizations such as these to which the CIA outsourced its regime renovation activities in 1983 under then CIA director William Casey. As noted geopolitical analyst William Engdahl has said, ‘the NED has been at the center of all major US State Department-financed “color revolutions” in the world since 2000 when…used to topple Milosevic in Serbia.’

A Matter of Contention No More

In order to view the U.S.-Australia relationship in a more contemporary context, it is important to consider the opinions of some prominent Australian public figures about the ever-evolving geopolitical landscape, and from there showcase a more detached, less insular appraisal of U.S. economic, foreign, and national security policy as it has been unfolding in recent years. The aim here is to portray how the continued maintenance of this relationship – a strategically lopsided affiliation which remains all but a bedrock principle of our own foreign policy, one embraced with equal, unerring enthusiasm by both our major political parties and which is likely to assume even greater importance to the U.S. over the coming years and decades – potentially places our political economy, our national security, our self-determination and sovereignty, and that of our future place in the increasingly Asian-centric geopolitical and geo-economic order, at even greater risk.

In an article earlier this year distinguished Australian public figure John Menadue posted an article on his blog Pearls and Irritations, which suggested that the “increasing influence” of the military and defence establishment in shaping Australia’s foreign policy is such that it has effectively undermined the authority of our Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and that of her Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT). In what should amount to a familiar refrain for many in Washington, Menadue noted the following:

Our ‘foreign policy’ (sic) has been taken over by the defence, security and military clique led by the Department of Defence, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute which is financed by DoD and defence contractors, ASIO, Border Protection and the Office of National Assessments…

Although active players in contemporary political, diplomatic, and mainstream media circles might refute the tenets of his article, the most telling of Menadue’s observation was the following: For him it is patently obvious that our military and defence clique in Australia is in turn ‘heavily dependent on the US Departments of Defense, State, [the] CIA and FBI for advice.’ [Emphasis Added].

To underscore the legitimacy and portent of Menadue’s views, some understanding of his place in the political firmament and his background in both the public and private sectors is useful. From 1960 to 1967 he was private secretary to then deputy opposition leader Gough Whitlam. Menadue then moved into the private sector for seven years as General Manager of Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, and from 1974 to 1976 was head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. He was closely involved in the events of 1975 that led to Whitlam’s dismissal, and then served in the same position under Malcolm Fraser (of whom, more soon), the man who controversially succeeded Whitlam as PM.

After a stretch as Japanese Ambassador from 1976 to 1980, Menadue returned to head the Department of Immigration & Ethnic Affairs, and later in 1983, the Department of Trade. From there he was appointed CEO of Qantas (1986-1989), became a Director of Telstra (our biggest telco; 1994-1996), and was also Chairman of the Australia Japan Foundation (1991-1998). So all up, Menadue was not a man whose opinions might be dismissed easily. At 82, he’s still ‘Johnnie Walker’ and as his blog attests, remains a respected, robust voice in national and business affairs, and in public policy.

Whether academic, politician or public servant, as a prominent public figure, Menadue, of course, is not on his Pat Malone in highlighting issues vis a vis maintaining our relationship with the U.S. in its current form. The failure or unwillingness of successive governments’ to grasp and respond to the new realities that are almost daily presenting themselves as the balance of the geopolitical and geo-economic order tips irrevocably eastward are of particular concern. Of equal concern is that of our reigning political and policy elites – and again our mainstream media ‘opinionocracy’ as well — continued insistence that the bedrock precepts of our foreign, national security, and even our trade policies — should remain aligned with, even in service thereof, the interests of Washington and Wall Street.

As he noted in an article last year, long time defence and intelligence analyst, Professor Hugh White of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University (ANU), criticised the most recent Aussie Defence White Paper (DWP) in its presumption of America’s enduring global primacy. In White’s view, whether in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, or especially in Asia, said “primacy” is no longer a given, even if Washington is struggling to come to terms with such realities.

As he observes, the DWP promotes a vision of the rules-based global order as a seamless and indivisible whole that must be either preserved unaltered or surrendered in its entirety’. It sends he says, ‘a clear message Australia should be willing to join a war against China to preserve [the rules-based global order] unaltered.’ White doesn’t mince words here, ‘This is plainly wrong’. [Emphasis added.]

The implications for this should not be lost on Australians, and are increasingly seen that way, especially by younger folks. As to whether we might say the same for Americans is an entirely different matter. It most certainly will not be lost on the Chinese themselves – or for that matter other rising Asian powers such as South Korea, or indeed, even an economically resurgent Japan. All this, to say little of other potentially quiet achievers like Indonesia and to a lesser extent, Vietnam.

To add to all of this – and to underscore the reality that it isn’t just always about geopolitical considerations — for the first time in Australia’s history, we are facing a geopolitical and national security dilemma of considerable magnitude: Our long-time major business and trading (or economic) partner China – an alliance kick-started by Whitlam, and which has contributed enormously to our country’s stellar economic performance over the past two decades or more and which played no small part in enabling us in ways the U.S. itself wasn’t able to, [to] weather the fallout from the Global Financial Crisis (itself largely the consequence of the monumental recklessness of America’s multi-national corporate and financial behemoths, fortified by the enduring subservience and acquiescence of its political elites) is now being challenged directly and no less recklessly and provocatively by our long-time military and security (or strategic) partner, the United States.

Here again the implications are stark indeed. It would not be unreasonable to suggest this “dilemma”, this challenge and the existential risk that attends it, far surpasses certainly anything we were presented in the First World War, and arguably even that presented to us in the Second World War, when Japanese planes were bombing Darwin and their Navy’s submarines were mischief-making in Sydney Harbour. In an assessment in last year prior to our Federal election, renowned former diplomat and senior public servant Richard Woolcott also shared views not dissimilar to both O’Neill and Menadue. As a highly regarded commentator on international affairs with a special expertise on the Asian region (he was at varying points Aussie Ambassador to Indonesia, the Philippines, and the United Nations, along with at one point, president of the UN Security Council), his views cannot, indeed should not, be lightly dismissed.

For the now 90-year-old Woolcott — whose diplomatic pedigree, as impressive as that of Menadue’s in the nation’s public service, saw him in Australia’s embassy in Moscow at the time of Stalin’s death in 1953, and much later as the most senior diplomat at the DFAT — it is imperative for any future Australian government to be ever mindful of geo-economic factors as much the mutable geopolitical ones. Woolcott seems to appreciate in ways other commentators and analysts possibly don’t – including those on both sides of the Pacific Pond and on both sides of the political divide Down Under — the indisputable historical reality that it’s (geo)economic factors that drive geopolitical developments (from relatively minor border skirmishes to world wars) and not so much the other way around. As he observes, the ‘unprecedented transfer of wealth from the West to the East, from the Atlantic to the Pacific…will continue into the foreseeable future.’ This seismic shift he says, ‘constitute(s) an historic global turning point to which Australia must respond if we are not to find ourselves left behind.’ [Emphasis added.]

For his part in 2016, former PM Paul Keating (1991-1996) also threw his hat into the ring questioning the alliance. Keating said it was time to cut the tag, and that focusing less on the alliance between the two countries and concentrating more on relationships within Asia was the way forward. He added:

We’ve got to this almost sort of crazy position now where the American alliance, instead of simply being a treaty where the U.S. is obliged to consult with us in the event of adverse strategic circumstances, it has taken on a reverential, sacramental quality….I’m not talking about simply the [present Liberal] Government, I’m talking about people on the Labor [opposition] side as well.

And if that might not have been enough to unsettle the Beltway Bedlamites, in 2014, another of our former prime ministers Malcolm Fraser (1975-1983), gave an eyebrow raising interview. Fraser was at the time promoting his book Dangerous Ally, the “ally” in this case being the Empire du jour, the U.S. Here was a former Liberal (read: “conservative”) PM of America’s most faithful geopolitical sidekick not simply emerging from the political closet and declaring our ANZUS alliance with the U.S. in need of a major strategic review – such opinions being anathema in political circles on both sides of the divide no matter how cautiously one advances them – but proclaiming it “dangerous” to adhere to this treaty.

In referencing our history of “strategic dependence” – firstly on Britain, then on the U.S. after WWII — he recommended a more independent stance, free of the diktats of Washington’s war-meisters. Fraser went even further by noting that not only is conflict between China and Japan ‘possible’, but that the U.S. have made it plain that they would side with Japan if there is such a conflict. As things stand he said:

[We’d] get dragged in to that conflict, when our interest would be to stay well clear of it. Now, if you’ve got troops in Darwin being used in relation to such a conflict, and Pine Gap was being used to give direction to a variety of weapons systems, the prime minister could [not] say “Oh, look, we’re not involved, we’re not complicit”. [But] we would be complicit [and] the world would know [we were]. And that means [America] has the power to take Australia to war [just] as Britain a hundred years ago had the power to take Australia to war because we were part of the Empire. [Emphasis added.]

What made such declarations both fascinating and anomalous at the same time was because it was Fraser – the man succeeding Whitlam after his unceremonious ouster – who was the primary political agitator for Whitlam’s demise, and a man who thereafter became reviled by the left and more liberal/progressive elements for his efforts in creating the Constitutional crisis.

(There is no evidence of which I’m aware that Fraser knew of any CIA involvement in initiating the Crisis, either before, during, or after the event. For his part, and for reasons best known to himself, Whitlam always publicly played the CIA factor down. One wonders, though, as to what they discussed privately.)

Fraser was also a Defence Minister for a period at the height of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, a military commitment on our part entered into by his own party, and one he later came to regret. For this writer, the fact that these men later became friends remains one of the most glaringly ironic and unpredictable developments in our own (and possibly anyone’s) political history. And for Fraser to come out albeit many years later to declare that Australia should seek more independence from the U.S. – the very stance upon Whitlam’s part which upset Washington so much at the time and which contributed so emphatically to his political demise – is the stuff you simply couldn’t make up! Few politicians of which I’m aware have undergone such an extraordinary Damascene conversion on so many policy, if not indeed on ideological, levels, and left so many folks including some of our sharpest political analysts and commentators scratching their heads, many as much in bewilderment and in wonderment, with not surprisingly, more than a few, less than impressed.

It has to be said then that much of this soul-searching about the alliance can be attributed to America’s ill-judged response to the attacks of 9/11; in particular the invasion of Iraq and the consequential blowback from that disastrous decision, and from the so-called War on Terror in general that has been raging seemingly without end since 2001. Like all countries, Australia has not been immune to the immense economic and strategic transformations that have taken place as a result of America’s relentless and ruthless campaign to achieve full spectrum dominance in all spheres of geopolitical influence – one triggered by 9/11 and on which said “campaign” continues to be justified, without any serious protest thus far from its Western partners and allies — whilst countering, even aggressively pre-empting, with every resource at its disposal any real or imagined challenge from other upstart power players.

Until and unless the Bedlamites who seem to be running the Beltway circus begin to appreciate how catastrophically their actions and provocations are impacting on global peace, security, and stability, we are unlikely to see any change. The argument here in Australia for those who unequivocally support this alliance will be that this is not a good time to be second-guessing it, given the increasingly precarious situation in global affairs. These same folks, though, confuse cause and effect, and it is a specious argument.

The reality is that in the pursuit of full spectrum dominance, global “peace, security, and stability” has been consistently and deliberately undermined by the U.S. ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, a project that went into hyper drive after 9/11, with no sign of it slowing down anytime soon. The irony here is as inescapable as it is profound. We could well end up embroiled in a cataclysmic confrontation not of our own making — yet as Fraser observed rightly, one in which we’ve allowed ourselves to become “complicit” — not unlike that of the one in 1914 with the ancien regime. This time it will be right in our own backyard.

And although an aspect of the relationship that will be discussed another time, it’s worth noting the following to underscore the extent to which we are beholden to, and in thrall of, the Empire. Given the largely bipartisan embrace of the now defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership, much the same could now be said of the economic relationship between the two countries. Again, that is unlikely to change anytime soon, if and when some future variation of the TPP is presented for consideration, which we can all expect that it will be at some point, as long as there remains life in the Washington-Wall Street-driven neoliberal movement. Further evidence of this acquiescence and fealty in economic and financial matters can be found in both parties who for decades have until recently dragged the chain on calling major multi-nationals to account – predominantly U.S. incorporated companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Chevron, Pfizer, ExxonMobil, News Corp, and AMEX to name a few of the usual suspects — on their well-documented tax dodging sleights of hand.

Even though the present Liberal/National coalition government has been signalling plans to halt these practices which are short changing Aussie taxpayers by tens of billions of dollars if not more in lost revenue, they are at the same time (wait for it!) planning to reduce corporate tax rates, with the companies presumably on a recruitment drive to employ more tax accountants, lawyers and lobbyists to minimise the negative impact of any new legislation designed to curtail their current avoidance scams and maximise the benefits of the lowered tax rate when both come into effect. The result: At best, a two-steps forward legislative — and revenue — outcome; at worst: the opposite!

And though Australia fared relatively well in the wake of the 2008 GFC, in the view of many we will not fare anywhere near as well the next time around. In the absence of a Glass-Steagall-type legislative initiative imposed on our biggest banks, their current practices are beginning to emulate those of the Wall Street banks, which have themselves done little to curb their criminal ways, forever seeking to prevent any and all attempts to address the structural deficiencies in the U.S. financial system that brought the system to the precipice almost a decade ago.

For a lot of folks, it’s only a matter of time before the “precipice” comes to us. Whether on a geo-economic level or a geopolitical level, our continued alliance with the Empire du jour under the present arrangement is a zero-sum game for us. Those countries with similar alliances and attachments would do well to be also similarly concerned.

The Rise and Rise of the Regime Renovators (Another Splendid Little Coup)

It has been a splendid little war, begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that Fortune which loves the brave.

US Secretary of State John Hay, defining the Spanish-American War of 1898, in a letter to Theodore Roosevelt, July 27 of that year, the war ushering in America’s Imperial era and unequivocally heralding its hegemonic ambitions.

…I’ve seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate [people]….[We’re there] to conquer, not to redeem. It should be our pleasure and duty to make people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions their own way….I’m opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.

Comments by Mark Twain, anti-imperialist, reflecting on the real objectives of America’s war with Spain.

War is the continuation of politics by other means…

Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian general, military theorist

Politics is the continuation of war by other means…

—  Michel Foucault, French philosopher, social theorist

Synopsis

For those Americans au fait with their country’s fondness for engineering coups, ousting democratically elected leaders, and interfering in the political affairs of other nations – to all intents the perennial bedrock principle of U.S. foreign policy — Iran is a well-documented exemplar. Given the supreme ironies inherent in the political imbroglio in the U.S. attending Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, along with America’s resolve to seek once again regime change in Russia’s ally Iran, it’s timely we revisit this slice of history. Doing so presents us an opportunity to view the so-called ‘Russia-gate’ furore, the Iran regime change ambitions, and the increasingly bloody war in Syria –- itself an ally of both Russia and Iran — within a broader, more nuanced historical context. From there we might derive a more informed perspective on the contemporary geopolitical zeitgeist and the hegemonic forces that have fashioned it. And attending that deeper perspective should be a sure sign of the existential dangers for civilization and humanity at large of allowing our leaders in the West to continue down this path unchallenged, one that is as well-worn as it’s fraught with peril.

In Regime Change, We Trust

For those folks with the requisite sense of irony and historical perspective, many will be rolling their eyes at the rampant hysteria over the as yet evidence-free accusations of interference by Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Which is to say, one of the manifest realities attending this latest Beltway blockbuster soap opera is that of America’s own track record of interference in the affairs of other countries, comprising as it does so many forms. I say “realities” rather than ironies here as “irony” almost by definition is infused with a measure of nuance and subtlety, neither of which could it be said are in abundance in this utterly contrived, self-serving political fracas. (For a further measure of just how “contrived” and “self-serving” it is, see herehere, here, and here.)

Insofar as Russia’s alleged meddling in U.S. politics goes and the animus that attends the hysteria, as Oliver Stone discovered during his recent appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert – itself hot on the heels of his much publicised four hour meet ‘n greet with Russian president Vladimir Putin wherein it was earlier raised – he was at pains to impress upon his host that Israel had a much bigger case to answer than did Russia.

Of course, Stone was on the money here. The unalloyed reality of the power and influence that Israel exerts within and across the morally and ethically desertified landscape that is the nation’s capital is a given, with the Middle East’s only ‘democratic’ settler-colonizer apartheid regime leaving few stones unturned – and exhibiting little discretion and subtlety but equal parts chutzpah and subterfuge — in how it wields then leverages that influence to its advantage and against the interests of its principal patron and benefactor.

But that’s clearly a narrative that doesn’t bode well in the Beltway at the best of times, and more rational, clear-eyed folks know the reasons why. For one, the corporate media, for the most part doesn’t entertain such verities. Even if they were inclined, the omnipotent Israel Lobby would cut them off at the knees. And for his part, the ever-smarmy Colbert, presumably aware which side his bread is buttered on, was reluctant to take Stone’s bait, much it seemed to his interviewee’s frustration.

Beyond just interfering in U.S. politics, along with the parent Empire la perfide Albion, one of America’s steadfast partners-in-crime in the regime renovation business are the ubiquitous and iniquitous Israelis, an observation underscored by Against our Better Judgment author Alison Weir on her blog If Americans Knew. Long targeted by Israel, for Weir, Iran especially provides an instructive example herein. With the Saudis as back-up, it is Israel — ably supported by its Praetorian Guard AIPAC and its ilk along with its shills in Congress – that’s been the hard-core driver of Washington’s seemingly irrational animus towards all things Iran. Along with underscoring Israel’s clout in Washington, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 Congressional dog ‘n pony show fiercely opposing the Iran Nuclear agreement then being negotiated by the Obama administration provides some of the best evidence for this.

And indeed, it’s another of Washington’s worst best-kept secrets that – the nuclear agreement aside — Iran remains a high priority on the ‘to do’ list for the Regime Renovators. (See also herehere, and here.) In addition to the relentless propaganda campaign pursued by Israel the aim of which is to paint Iran as the existential threat du jour, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies and others in the know don’t support the allegations about its mythical nuclear weapons program, Weir had the following to say:

Israel and the U.S. deployed a computer virus against Iran in what’s been called the world’s first digital weapon. Iranian nuclear physicists [were] assassinated by Israel, and the U.S. instituted a blockade against Iran that caused food insecurity and mass suffering among the country’s civilians. (Such a blockade can be seen as an act of war.) Democratic Congressman and Israel partisan Brad Sherman admitted the objective of the sanctions: “Critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.”

Most folks then who don’t dine out on the McDonald’s (‘would you like lies with that?’) media diet that is the corporate news are as well aware of Uncle Sam’s recidivistic predisposition towards meddling in the affairs of other nations, engineering coups and colour revolutions, and ousting democratically elected leaders as they are of the bespoke misinformation and disinformation – the ‘real’ fake news – that’s tailored to suit the official narrative that goes with it.

Along with the ongoing Syrian War, the 2014 Ukraine coup is one of the most egregious, more recent examples of this, with again Stone’s confab avec Putin providing an alternative perspective on both counts. Yet even here the majority of Americans would attribute the Ukraine crisis to “Russian aggression” and the Syrian War largely to Bashar Assads ‘despotism’; it’s simply what they are told by the MSM, and insofar as they’re concerned [they] have little reason to doubt this. Much the same goes for the Iran WMD narrative, despite the fact that we’ve heard that one before with Iraq around fifteen years ago.

And all of this mayhem and chaos is premised on exporting freedom, democracy, justice, liberty, human rights, and the rule of law, all of the things that America is purportedly so accomplished in embracing on the home front, albeit more so in the breach than in the observance. What makes U.S. transgressions so much more brazen in this respect is the hypocritical, fraudulent and existentially dangerous nature of the umbrage and pique being directed towards countries like Iran, Syria and, especially Russia and China.

And what makes the righteous animus being served up to the latter nations in particular so frightening and so portentous is that it’s wholly reminiscent of the hegemonic mindset directed towards Germany by the high-minded mandarins of the British Empire in the two decades leading up to the War to End all Wars. By 1914, even for that small cohort of folks who might’ve smelt the imperial rat, it was too late, of course, for them and for so many others. In this few other imperially motivated gambits have been more consequential or more far-reaching across time and space, a conclusion we can safely draw with all the benefit one hundred plus years of hindsight brings.

As for today’s “cohort” of news consumers, it is much the same: Such awareness is embraced only by a small minority of people with most blissfully ignorant of their country’s inability or unwillingness to, well, mind its own bloody business. They are as equally oblivious to the economic, social, physical and political havoc, mayhem, and destruction it creates in the process, sometimes catastrophically so. Whilst the events of 9/11 might’ve otherwise provided a visceral reality check in this regard for most Americans of the blowback that frequently attends its own country’s meddling, very few would’ve been prepared or motivated to engage in any ‘cause and effect’ reflection therein, much less act in sync with that.

Yet we might opine here that given the frenzied state of America’s own internal affairs – to say nothing of the hysterical incoherence and farcical irrationality of the public discourse that has seemingly become a permanent fixture of U.S. political and media forums, the Russia-gate affair being all the evidence ones needs to underscore this – there’d be numerous benefits to be gained from doing just that. Minding its own “bloody business” that is.

And let there be no mistaking it, what an assuredly “bloody business” regime renovation is. For the ‘cognitive dissidents’ disbelieving or doubtful of the extent or measure of this geopolitical mischief, in a recent PressTV interview focusing on America’s history of interfering in Iran’s political affairs in particular, former NSA intelligence linguist Scott Rickard is one amongst many of his professional ilk who dispels such scepticism or uncertainty with unadorned veracity:

[Americans] have been probably one of the most notorious nations behind the United Kingdom in manipulating not only elections but also overthrowing governments around the world for decades.

As Rickard observes, to this day the U.S. continues nation-building in other states, sells weapons in massive scales, and pours bombs on other nations in order to ‘carry out its regime-change policy throughout the world.’ This, to say little of the proxy wars and false-flag events to which errant countries are subject (such as in Syria), psy-ops and the like (in Venezuela), and the economic sanctions frequently applied by Washington, of which both Russia and Iran to this day are also subjected to, and which themselves are often part of the arsenal used against countries not complying with Washington’s diktats. On the latter, it’s enough to recall how the sanctions imposed during the 90s against Iraq after the Gulf War under the Clinton administration played out. For confirmation of this, one only needs ask Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s then Secretary of State, who in a ‘Kissingeresque’ display of imperial hubris as pitiless as it was asthma-inducing, averred [that], “[yes, we think] it was worth it”.

To be sure then, Uncle Sam’s “track record’ in this respect is as well documented and [as] well known as it’s abhorred by most commentators in the alternative media space and their more enlightened readers. At the same time it’s one subject that doesn’t raise an eyebrow much less a mention from those in the mainstream media (MSM) universe, no matter how pertinent it might be to the narrative in hand. It’s another of what I’ve come to calling the ‘no-fly-zones’ of conventional political discourse and public debate. Given the degree of complicity of the corporate media in facilitating these coups, proxy wars, false-flag attacks, and colour revolutions, then camouflaging them as something entirely different from what they really represent is, whilst reprehensible and indefensible, understandable.

Kermit’s ‘Sesame Street’ Coup

Interestingly, Rickard’s remark was prompted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s most recent statements about the U.S. seeking regime change in Teheran as all but a matter of public policy with marginally less fervor than they are accusing Moscow of meddling in their own democratic processes in last year’s election.

Again, for those folks “in the know”, the very mention of the words “regime change” and “Iran” in the same breath will also summon pronto a profound sense of déjà vu. As with the little known 1975 Australian coup (the details of which to be unveiled in a future ‘episode’ of The Regime Renovators), it was Britain (MI6) and the U.S. (the CIA) in a tag team play that cut its teeth in a joint-venture partnership back in Iran in 1953.

Now the much-cited Iran experience is worthy of deeper exploration, if only because this exercise in regime change later turned out to be doubly ironic in a ‘reap what you sow’ kinda way, but not necessarily as the received wisdom would have us believe. We’ll return to this point shortly, but for context and perspective, the 1953 Iran adventure again begs for another trip down memory lane, especially given all the chatter about the U.S returning to the ‘scene of the crime’.

Placing to one side an early dress rehearsal in Syria in 1949, the 1953 Iran coup was the first post-War exercise in regime renovation upon the part of Anglo-American alliance — one which officially at least was only just admitted to by the CIA after decades of not so plausible denial – when they successfully conspired to relieve the democratically elected prime minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh from the burdens of power. The CIA and MI6 jointly embarked on a plan to stage a coup that would ensure that the West maintained control over the country’s vast oil reserves (shades of things to come). This coup is widely believed to have provided the ‘business model’ and the bravado for future coups by the CIA during the Cold War, including in Guatemala in 1954, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1961, and the ill-fated attempted coup in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs (BOP) in 1961, where the renovators’ business model came spectacularly unstuck.

In true CIA custom, in Iran not everything went according to plan. The man who would be Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, by all accounts something of a reluctant usurper, succumbed to ‘stage fright’ at the eleventh hour and did an unexpected runner to Italy. But the CIA quickly recovered its composure and schlepped their ‘under-study’ back in time for the opening night curtain raiser of the new regime. For both the CIA and the Shah, who went on to rule his country with an iron, bloody fist avec unerring American support for almost twenty-five years, in true show business fashion, everything was ‘all right on the night’; the Shah’s show went on to enjoy an extended run with generally positive reviews.

(That most of these “reviews” were written by the Iranian intelligence agency SAVAK, the Shah’s political and security muscle throughout his ‘regime’, is axiomatic, especially since writing was apparently one activity SAVAK agents both excelled at and enjoyed. Their torture manuals were as notorious for their meticulously detailed brutality as for their invention.)

Interestingly, the CIA’s Iranian operation was directed by none other than Kermit (Kim) Roosevelt, the grandson of former Republican president Teddy Roosevelt (he of the “walk softly, carry a big stick” fame), and a not too distant cousin of former Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). At the time Roosevelt was the senior spook in The Company’s Middle-East station (he’d been recruited by no less a personality than Frank “The Mighty Wurlitzer” Wisner), and was their point man on the ground in overseeing the Iranian adventure, dubbed Operation Ajax. Despite his name, for Teddy’s ‘grand-sprog’ this was no Sesame Street romp. No sirree, Bob! This was serious spy shit.

Notwithstanding the apparent success of the mission, the coup was to have profound, far-reaching, and plain scary, geopolitical, economic and national security consequences for the US and the West in general. For starters just ask Jimmy Carter for further confirmation of this, and for any still standing and in control of their metacognitive faculties, go from there president by president! (Although the execrable Albright sort of apologised to Iran in 2000 – possibly the closest thing to a mea culpa ever offered by the U.S. for their wayward imperial ways – it didn’t apparently count for much.)

Yet one of the most enlightening revelations about Kermit’s coup was the following. In his must-read book a Century of War, Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, F William Engdahl recounted the less familiar story that the demise of the Shah (aka the ‘Peacock Potentate’) was engineered by the same forces that brought him into power in the first place. As we know this went on to produce sizable blowback for the U.S. with the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The much reviled Shah had for a variety of reasons outlived his usefulness, with the onset of the 1979 oil crisis presenting said forces both the ideal opportunity and pretext – albeit according to Engdahl, one largely manufactured in this case — to proceed to the next phase of their (ahem) Persian renovation project.

From this then we might safely deduce the subsequent ‘79 Revolution, the storming of the U.S. embassy in Teheran, along with the kidnapping of the embassy personnel (a world changing event by any measure), was not what many have deemed an organic — nor an entirely predictable — development for those who’d decided the Shah has passed his use by date. Moreover, the reality (there’s that word again) of ‘client-dictators’ overstaying their ‘welcome’ will be one familiar to ‘buffs’ of Uncle Sam’s regime change history, with the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2002, again on prefabricated pretexts and for not dissimilar reasons, providing a most consequential exemplar thereof.

According to the author, in 1978 President Carter named diplomat George Ball to head a White House task force under the direction of Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, the proud, now recently departed, father of Islamic terrorism and patron saint of jihadists. In doing so, Carter effectively gave Brzezinski the nod on opening another Pandora’s Box in the Greater Middle East, and as the Law of Moral Causation (trade name: ‘karma’) would have it, [this] brought about the president’s own political demise. As Engdahl explains it:

Ball recommended Washington drop support for the Shah and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini…and the CIA led a coup against the man their covert actions had placed into power 25 years earlier. The coup against the Shah, like that against Mossadegh in 1953, was run by British and American intelligence, with the bombastic Brzezinski taking public ‘credit’ for getting rid of the ‘corrupt’ Shah, while the British characteristically remained safely in the background.

When You’re on a Good Thing (Stick to the Knitting)

Notwithstanding the blowback from the 1953 Iran coup and the later blowback from the removal of the Shah over a quarter century later, little has changed. The disastrous Bay of Pigs operation in 1961 and the subsequent, near catastrophic Cuban Missile Crisis the following year deriving from the failure of even that monumentally inept regime change manoeuvre evidently provided few lessons for the Renovators then or their political progeny since. At the same time it underscored in effect what had become the bedrock principle of American foreign policy and Great Power Projection. Which is to say, for its part the U.S. still engages in this tried and true, one-size-fits-all foreign policy gambit, bringing to mind that old adage ‘when you’re on a good thing, stick to it!’

Whilst the motivations for the Iranian coup were nominally economic (the government of the time was making noises about nationalizing the Iranian oil industry), there was also the strategic geopolitical considerations in the U.S. that Iran might come within the sphere of Soviet influence, thereby severely limiting the West’s hegemony in the region, an outcome one imagines would’ve delivered an unacceptable blow to America’s still incipient imperial id.

There was also a certain amount of fear that Iranian communists might gain control of the political situation, or even that the Soviets might overtake the country, either the stuff of American and British nightmares or over-egged paranoia. Certainly the Americans were never too keen on the Soviets crashing their party anywhere, especially so in this region. Like the British before them, the U.S. has always been quite territorial about other people’s territory, especially when said “territory” involved oil, or any other strategic commodity or geopolitical consideration. Whether this fear was rational given the reality at the time and the available intelligence is a subject many still debate.

As we’ve seen with this and so many others, the reasons for the coup were fueled less by the ostensibly lofty ideological concerns related to the Cold War (freedom versus tyranny anyone?) than they were to less lofty considerations such as greed, self-preservation and national pride and one or three other Deadly Imperial Sins. To be sure it seems reasonable to assume that the Soviets – cunning devils that they were – were ‘geeing’ the Iranians up to nationalize their oil industry in order to put the wind up the British and the Americans in turn. It’s clear now that the CIA and the British, along with their fellow travelers in the then (Harry) Truman administration in the years leading up to the coup, were leveraging the Cold War sentiment of the time in order to camouflage the real reasons for seeking regime change in Iran (shades of things.)

At all events, then president Truman evidently saw the Iranian plot coming from the bottom of the ‘too-risky’ basket and didn’t drag the chain on rejecting it. Whatever his achievements, for his part the former failed Missouri haberdasher was always going to be known as the man who nodded the dropping of the Big Ones on Japan, and rarely demurred in claiming the bragging rights. Now whether he was right or wrong in doing this is a ‘what-if’ moment for another time, but insofar as the Iran “moment” went, for this reason he might’ve had a keen eye on how said ‘mo’ in history might be judged. Either way, by deep-sixing the CIA’s plans we might surmise that in doing so it inspired his oft-quoted dictum ‘the buck stops here’. Because it only delayed the renovators’ momentum though, his ‘call’ was to no avail; said “buck” remained in play only as long as he was POTUS.

When Kermit (Kim) Roosevelt, became Republican president in 1953, all bets were off (or on, depending on your view) Ike was more simpatico than Truman to the Iran coup, and evidently got ‘jiggy’ with it without a lot of arm-twisting. This was especially after the plotters – principally Allen Dulles, the then CIA director, and his big brother Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who was the Cabinet pitchman for the pro-coup team, played the ‘commie’ card with Ike. For his part the elder Dulles, who played a Richelieu-like role in U.S. affairs of the time, was once quoted as saying that “the USA doesn’t have friends, it has interests”, tantamount to a foreign policy positioning statement, and as we’ve seen one which these days – with the notable exception of Israel — still finds ample favour in and around the Beltway.

In any event, Ike didn’t just take the commie bait hook, line and sinker, by all accounts he swam upstream to chow down on it. With Joe McCarthy and his ilk riding high in the polls and anti-communist fervour at fever pitch, such was the temper of the Cold War times. It wasn’t the first time the ‘commie’ card was played in this game, and it certainly would not be the last; like the one-size-fits-all terrorist threat that followed the Cold War’s end, it was used as cover for a multitude of foreign policy sins and proved a remarkably flexible rationale for the various misadventures of the CIA’s on-going, flagship regime renovation program.

(Interestingly, like JFK was to do with Cuba eight years later, Ike inherited, and eventually agreed to, a CIA-inspired regime transition plot that was hatched during the previous administration, but for one reason or another never got off the ground, this being one of those spooky déjà vu moments in the overall narrative of The Company which is to say, when Ike came to power, the principal coup plot du jour was Iran. With JFK, it was Cuba. Needless to say, in a ‘same horse, different cowboy’ kinda way, it underscores how little changes from one administration to the next.)

Why Do they Hate US So Much? (What’s there Not to Like?)

As for the Iranian coup, it achieved the dubious distinction of being the first and best example of CIA intervention in the sovereign affairs of another country, an experiment that would be repeated over and over with wildly varying degrees of success (the measure of which depended as much on one’s definition of what “success” entailed in such matters as it did on one’s perspective on history and political inclinations). The coup not only ushered in almost three decades of despotic, oppressive rule by the Shah propped up by American arms, money and hand-holding. It belatedly ignited the fire of Islamic fundamentalism that itself provided the US with its next great foe after the Soviets eventually threw in the towel, leaving the Americans as the reigning superpower, much like Great Britain after Napolean’s 1815 defeat at Waterloo. That it also provided an answer to a question few people were asking themselves at the time, which was ‘why do they hate us so much?’, is axiomatic, and one which has since then become a recurring motif throughout the Grand American Narrative.

There are some other considerations vis a vis the Iranian coup. One is that it was Kermit Roosevelt – scion of one of America’s most famous political dynasties – who was a driving force behind the planning and execution of Ajax. In the process he contributed to one of the U.S.’s biggest foreign policy misadventures, eventually leading to one of its most disastrous national security crises. It’s uncertain what ‘grandpa’ Teddy or ‘cuzzin’ Franklin would’ve thought of the coup, and herein we can only guess. But the knowledge one of their kin had his fingerprints all over it, especially one which ushered in such dire, enduring consequences for the empire, would’ve possibly had at least one spinning furiously in his eternally designated bolthole.

Secondly, in using the ‘monstrous’ threat of communism as a pretext for the coup, the Americans ultimately created an even bigger monster (terrorism), although it was some time before the reality – if not the realisation – was to come home to roost for them and the rest of the world. (That this turned out to be a blessing in disguise is also a consideration we might address in future episode.) And for those who might wonder why the US became a pariah in Iran particularly, and in the Middle East generally, one might now begin to understand. To underscore this – the notoriously brutal, vicious, sadistic SAVAK – the Shah’s internal security, secret police and intelligence organization was both feared and hated in equal measure.

That SAVAK was like a franchise of the CIA was only part of the story, and on a ‘good day’ it would’ve rivaled the Stasi in East Germany, no mean feat apparently. In fact the Stasi was to the KGB what SAVAK was to the CIA in that both attempted to out-do their respective maestros. As with so many other regimes, juntas and assorted dictatorships, it was CIA (and Mossad) agents who midwifed the establishment of SAVAK, and trained their first generation of agents, including in surveillance, torture and interrogation techniques, and other security and intelligence trade craft. By all accounts, the CIA guys were very good teachers, or the SAVAK folk eager learners. Or both.

When they were eventually shut down, one of the most egregious examples of their sadistic savagery was to be found in their how-to manuals, handbooks and training videos highlighting techniques unique to torturing women. Readers can let their imaginations run wild here, but suffice it to say, the SAVAK spooks were indeed nasty, vile, brutal pieces of work. Iranians who survived the Shah’s wretched rule have long memories and it’s in large part because of the legacy of SAVAK. To this day, many of them understandably still have a huge hard-on for all things Uncle Sam (although surprisingly such animus to this day is more directed at the U.S. political establishment than at the American people, per se).

In any event, by 1979, the Shah’s standing with the long-suffering Iranian people was a train wreck just around the corner, and the anti-American vibe was at its most virulent. At this point, the U.S. left the Shah with his (ahem) plucked Persian peacock pecker swinging in the Mediterranean sea breeze. With little fanfare then, the despised potentate had his gold-leafed throne unceremoniously ‘pulled out’ from under his bling-laden ass which he then barely managed to haul out of Teheran just before the militant ‘mullahs’ surrounded him and presented their soon-to-be former leader with considerably less options than he was used to receiving, nearly all of which would’ve involved, at best, him getting a fleeting glimpse of Allah just outside jannah on his way to eternal damnation.

Following years then of rampant corruption, hubris, breathtaking extravagance, cronyism, human rights abuses, imperious contempt, political and religious oppression, kidnapping, torture, murder, culminating in increasingly deep-seated unpopularity, the Shah’s time had come, this being a pointer to the fate awaiting numerous other future CIA sponsored and US favoured tin-pot tyrants, deplorably demented despots, and cut-rate client-dictators, of whom there’s rarely been any shortage.

For his part, at the height of the crisis, the hapless Carter – who’d unwisely signed off on the hated Shah receiving medical treatment in the U.S. after a number of countries refused to accommodate his pleas for sanctuary — had his effigy burned in Tehran streets for his troubles. By the time the smoke coming out of the filmed wreckage on the six o’clock news of one of the Navy Rescue Team choppers that had crashed in the Iranian desert killing eight crewman after an audacious attempt to free the hostages went tragically wrong had cleared, the former Georgian peanut farmer turned Leader of the Free World was a lame duck, shit-out-of-luck, commander-in-chief. A Bay of Pigs Moment then? Almost certainly! But much worse, if one is inclined to measure “worse” by the blowback. And the BOP blowback was in itself considerable.

In announcing to the American public and the world at large the failure of the mission to free the hostages, Carter – according to the dictates of the unofficial Truman ‘doctrine’ vis a vis where the ‘buck’ stops – took responsibility for the disaster, and even used eerily similar wording to that of JFK when he publicly revealed the outcome of the BOP fiasco. From then on, The Gipper had Carter by the presidential short’n’curlies. In the view of many pundits at the time, the presidential election was ‘all over Rover’, well before a single vote was cast.

And though the Shah’s “ass” was no more with his death in a US hospital in mid-1980, it was ‘all over Rover’ for anyone else still standing. The Embassy ‘squatters’ in Tehran effectively held hostage Carter’s attempt to seek a second term, an outcome facilitated by Ronald Reagan’s campaign team engaging in treasonous back channel finagling with the new Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s henchmen to withhold release of the hostages until after the November presidential election. The objective herein was to preclude an “October Surprise” (an early release of the hostages) that would’ve guaranteed Carter’s re-election.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Burning Down the House (How to Roast a Pig)

With the Gipper’s inevitable victory then, it was one where not just America, but the rest of the world was never to be the same again. None of this is to suggest it ever is in these situations, of which there were few in this case anyway. The Iranian Revolution was more than a revolution then; it was a geopolitical tsunami that swamped a shit-load of people and nations in its wake. In so many respects, the waves are still rippling. And even at this point, one imagines the CIA struggled to understand that blowback of this kind was bad for business, and might continue to undermine its credibility, effectiveness, and morale if it persevered down this path.

As history would have it, this idea never really caught on though. For their part, the Islamic Revolutionaries and their ilk may or may not have had their own version of jihadist karma; if they did they doubtless weren’t averse to providing karma some earthly assistance in order for it to work its magic. The Hostage Crisis was ample evidence of that. And they (or at least their heirs apparent such as ISIS, Al Nusra, et al) still are apparently. That is, keen to give karma a helping hand where and whenever possible. Depending very much, of course, on who their paymaster(s) is/are. Allah be willing, of course!

In rounding things up herein, it is perhaps best to return to Bill Engdahl for some insight into the contemporary significance of the preceding narrative. In a recent interview wherein he addressed the developments taking place within and across the Greater Middle East, for him Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel wasn’t just about arms sales, shoring up their respective alliances, and reasserting America’s influence in the region. It was about, ‘setting events into motion in order to fundamentally alter the present balance of power in the entire Middle East to the greater advantage of the United States and US energy geopolitics.’ By any measure that’s a big call, and not just because it would seem that the U.S. has forfeited much of its prestige, influence, and power over the past decades of its political interventions, its wars of aggression (proxy, hybrid or direct), its bullying, imperious ways, and its unequivocal support of Israel, something that would be required in spades in order to achieve such lofty goals.

For Engdahl, Washington has already bitten off more than it can chew, without considering the ructions taking place between the Saudis, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in their Mexican standoff with Qatar. This latter development clearly resulted from discussions during Trump’s visit and is one whose significance few observers should underestimate, at least without some understanding of the real backstory, an “understanding” which should include first and foremost the following question: Which country did Trump visit right after Saudi Arabia? The answer speaks volumes!

And with Turkey lining up with Iran – the latter already a key ally of Syria, the former a key player in the efforts to relieve Syrian President al-Assad of the burdens of power for the past five years — on the side of Qatar, the standoff is creating some very strange geopolitical bedfellows. None of us should be fooled by the rhetoric to be sure, because at the heart of these Middle East machinations and manoeuvres is energy – both oil and, now more so, gas — as it always has been. It’s certainly not — nor has it ever been — about freedom, democracy, liberty or any any of the usual bromides (perish the thought), or America’s presumed and oft-cited “responsibility to protect”.

When it comes to the geopolitical players involved in the Great Game du jour, Engdahl notes:

No political power has been more responsible for launching the recent undeclared gas wars than the corrupt Washington cabal that makes policy on behalf of deep state interests….The Trump Administration policy in the Middle East – and there is a clear policy, rest assured – might be compared to that of the ancient Chinese fable about the farmer who burnt down his house in order to roast a pig. In order to control the emerging world energy market around “low-CO2″ natural gas, Washington has targeted not only the world’s largest gas reserve country, Russia. She is now targeting Iran and Qatar.

Nor is the “Game” about combatting terrorism, per se, as terrorism has always served the interests of the major power players, an observation one will never hear uttered in mainstream media and political discourse. Of course, one of the official pretexts for the demands being placed on Doha by the Saudis and the other Gulf states is Qatar’s support for terrorism, accusations which emanating from either country are as fatuous and as hypocritical as it gets. On this point Engdahl had the following to say:

We must keep in mind that all serious terrorist organizations are state-sponsored. All [of them]. Whether DAESH or Al Nusra or Mujahideen in Afghanistan or Maute Group in [the] Philippines. The relevant question is which states sponsor which terrorists[?] Today NATO is the one most complicit in sponsoring terrorism as a weapon of their geopolitical designs. And within NATO the United States is sponsor number one, often using Saudi money and until recently, ironically, Qatari funds.

There should be no surprises here for students of Deep History, as these factors have been the driving forces of ‘full spectrum dominance’ geopolitics and geo-economics forever and a day, with the 1953 Iran narrative as we’ve seen providing hard-core evidence of this reality. It is also about the Regime Renovators pressing on regardless, which in this instance translates to isolating and then destroying Iran (a la Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria et al), Washington’s, Riyadh’s, and Tel Aviv’s common bête noir. Of course, these considerations are not mutually exclusive by any means. On the Saudi-Qatari standoff, he had the following to say:

Washington wanted to punish Qatar for seeking natural gas sales with China priced not in US dollars but in Renminbi. That…alarmed Washington, as Qatar is the world’s largest LNG exporter and most to Asia.

But it’s even much more complex than that. The shape-shifting allegiances, mercurial strategic loyalties, and ‘handshakes under the table’ make for unpredictable scenarios going forward to be sure. Herein Engdahl offers us a summation of situation and circumstance that’s as lucid as it is frightening. After noting that the ‘real story” behind the rise of so-called Islamic Terrorism is the increasingly desperate attempt of the Anglo-American Deep State to control the rise of Eurasia, especially of China in combination now with Russia, and increasingly with Iran and Central Asian republics as well as South Asian, he continues with the following:

Without understanding this, none of the recent events in the Middle East make sense. Washington strategists today foolishly believe if they get choke point control of all Middle East oil and gas, they can, as Henry Kissinger stated back in the 1970’s “control the oil and thus, control entire nations,” especially China and Russia and also Germany and Europe. Their strategy has failed but Washington…refuse[s] to see the reasons for their repeated failed wars. The hidden reality of American global power is that the American “giant” today is a bankrupt superpower, much like Great Britain after their Great Depression of 1873 up to 1914. Britain triggered a world war in 1914 to desperately try to retain their global power. They failed, for reasons I discuss in my Century of War book. Today for much the same reasons – allowing the power of US financial conglomerates [to] supersede the interests of the national industrial economy – America’s debt, national, private, corporate, is out of control. Reagan and Cheney were dead wrong. Debt does matter’

All of this translates to one simple reality. And at some point in the not too distant future, Russia and China will – not might, not maybe — attempt to call a halt to all of Uncle Sam’s shenanigans. And it’s reasonable to assume they won’t be on their ‘Pat Malone’, with Iran and Syria to be sure seeking also to finally square the ledger with the “Great Satan” and its Middle East proxies Israel and Saudi Arabia. By then it’ll be on for young and old. Of that we can be sure. History has always been and remains our most reliable guide in this respect. Of this we can also be just as certain. Well might we say then that another “splendid little war” is in the offing.

Be that as it may, it almost certainly will qualify as the War to End all Wars.