Category Archives: James Mattis

The Anti-President

Raids by U.S. commandos in Afghanistan. (I could be talking about 2001 or 2018.)

A U.S. drone strike in Yemen. (I could be talking about 2002 or 2018.)

Missions by Green Berets in Iraq. (I could be talking about 2003 or 2018.)
— Nick Turse, Chronicles Magazine, July 2018

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.
— Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, 1967

The U.S. is now a endless machine for war profiteering and endless war itself. Simultaneously a hyper Imperialist machine directed toward global hegemony. Domestically it is a McCarthyesque empire of propaganda and censorship and mass incarceration. On both fronts it is a machine for channelling money directly to the ruling class.

The U.S. has 900 military bases around the world. Everything is contracted out. Where once soldiers and marines built their own barracks and peeled their own potatoes, the new military is one in which construction, maintenance, and operations are handed over to private companies, many of whom have as their sole reason for existence, to service the US war machine.

…U.S. bases overseas have become a major mechanism of U.S. global power in the post-Second World War era. Alongside postwar economic and political tools like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United Nations, the collection of extraterritorial bases—like colonies for the European empires before it—became a major mechanism for “maintaining [U.S.] political and economic hegemony,” advancing corporate economic and political interests, protecting trade routes, and allowing control and influence over territory vastly disproportionate to the land bases actually occupy. Without a collection of colonies, the United States has used its bases, as well as periodic displays of military might, to keep wayward nations within the rules of an economic and political system favorable to itself.
— David Vine, Monthly Review, 2014

Many of these bases are as large as small cities. Camp Liberty in Iraq has concrete sidewalks, traffic signals, spas and cinemas as well as coffee shops and Burger Kings. Generals and Admirals employ private jets, and siphon off taxpayer money for vacations at luxury resorts and shopping trips for their wives and family. The bookeeping has been described as functionally fictive. The vast amounts of monies misplaced or unaccounted for is in the trillion of dollars. Everything….from shower heads to gym equipment, to electrical cable is from private firms that usually have spent small fortunes lobbying Pentagon officials or even state department higher ups to *win* these contracts. So ponder that a moment: TRILLIONS of dollars. When anyone asks why *we* are still in Afghanistan after 17 years, this is but one of the answers.

As the FOB2012 conference neared its end, I asked another conference attendee (who asked that I not use his name) if during his wartime deployments in Iraq he had seen the problem Major Elliott had described of a base with private security guards protecting privately contracted cooks, who were cooking for the same private security guards, who were protecting the privately contracted cooks. “A lot,” he replied. It’s the “self-licking ice cream cone”—by which he meant a self-perpetuating system with no purpose or function except to keep itself going.
— David Vine, Monthly Review, 2014

The U.S. has accepted that they are now fighting generational wars. There are children born in just the special-op fronts, the hot spots that Special Operations forces fight in, who are now of fighting age. Teenagers who have never not known American occupation. From Iraq to Afghanistan, to Somalia, to Libya, to Yemen, to Philippines and Niger and Syria there are conflicts that the U.S. seems intent on keeping active. The idea of solution is now forgotten.

And watching Donald Trump and his traveling insult party it struck me that only such clearly intentional behavior and statements could make a ghoulish war criminal like John Brennan attractive to the American public. And then something began to nag at me.

While Trump is seeking to develop a framework for authoritarian rule—including the cultivation of far-right and fascistic forces based on anti-immigrant chauvinism—there is not an ounce of democratic content in the campaign of his critics within the state and political establishment. In the name of opposing Trump—and the supposed Russian plot that sustains him—they are developing their own arguments for dictatorship.
— Joseph Kishore, WSWS, August 18, 2018

Brennan has, besides suggesting intensifying foreign theatres of operation, now openly outlined a plan for Orwellian thought control at home, and wholesale censorship of dissent.

More from Joseph Kishore…

This is the significance of Brennan’s column, “President Trump’s claims of no collusion are hogwash,” published in the print edition of the New York Times on Friday. The pages of the Times were turned over to Brennan by James Bennet, the newspaper’s highly-connected editorial page editor, brother of right-wing Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and son of Douglas Bennet, a former top State Department official with CIA connections. { } More than Russia, the targets of Brennan’s attack are domestic organizations and individuals. He writes: “Electoral politics in Western democracies present an especially inviting target, as a variety of politicians, political parties, media outlets, think tanks and influencers are readily manipulated, wittingly and unwittingly, or even bought outright by Russian intelligence operatives.” Who are these “politicians, political parties, media outlets, think tanks and influencers?” The answer is: Anyone who does not accept uncritically the narrative of the intelligence agencies and the military, including the lies used to justify war in Syria and aggression against Russia.

The liberal class in the U.S. is now embracing with laudatory accolades the most malign sadistic authoritarians possible. Men like Brennan, James Comey, Robert Mueller, and nary a peep from them about the confirmation of serial torturer and all around liar Gina Haspel. With Vietnam there were massive protests against the war. Today there are none. Nobody cares in the U.S. They do not care it is year 17 in the occupation of Afghanistan, or that in Yemen there is such human suffering that statistics are an insult to even mention. Shoot a school bus in Yemen? Unfortunate but hardly headline news. Google and Facebook are now in the process of widespread censoring of dissenting voices. How dare anyone criticize the ogre John McCain. That is *hate speech*. Hollywood continues to avoid ANY criticism EVER of the U.S. military or domestic police forces. In fact, they continue to produce one jingoistic narrative after another in which service in the armed forces is uniformly expressed as a noble choice, a honorable patriotic sacrifice. Hollywood is, in fact, creating (and has done for two decades at least) a indelible mythology of fascistic martial love.

But that is really the core of what is nagging at me.

The curious exaggerated response in the U.S. to the Trump presidency is understood, partly, by the failure of previous conflicts and even by 9/11, to produce a sense of national regeneration in the usually willing masses. No amount of revisionist history about Vietnam or Korea produced a real national sense of military purpose. Grenada and Somalia just didn’t, frankly, kill enough people. This is a Puritan nation that has never left its roots in blood atonement. Organized corporate owned sports provides only a limited refuge from the crushing economic reality. Not many are fortunate enough to feel pride in what they do. And deep down nobody really believes the lies. They may work overtime and very hard to do so, but I don’t believe they do. But hating Trump has now become, at least in part, a new mythology for America. For the educated classes anyway, Trump is now the anti-president.

…one of the syndromes that people working with Vietnam veterans suffering from PTSD was something called John Wayne Syndrome where the young men had internalized the John Wayne model of heroism and one of their problems was they felt they had failed somehow to live up to that model.

And that’s the psychology we’re talking about here. You internalize a model of heroic behavior from the media that purvey the myths that shape your society. And there’s a whole spectrum of responses you might have in relation to that internalized model.

You might not do anything yourself. You might simply consent that the government or somebody act on your behalf, you don’t make the war yourself, but you consent that somebody make the war for you, kill the bad guy for you.
— Richard Slotkin, Interview, Truthout 2013

I remember Slotkin (whose trilogy on the American West is essential reading) pointing out that the first significant shift in consciousness for America was …“1890, the moment when the landed frontier of the United States was officially declared ‘closed’, the moment when ‘frontier’ became primarily a term of ideological rather than geographical location.” And that is when Americans began to codify this idea of violence and conquest as acts of purification and nobility. One must cross into *Indian territory*, or for many, just into Mexico — for these symbols and tropes of white supremacism represent a metaphoric shadow world that must be overcome in order to be reborn as a proud white American. The U.S. has fought no wars that could be sold as heroic without inordinate amounts of propaganda and indoctrination in a sort of kitsch patriotism. I think of the Chris Kyle memorial event at the Cowboys Stadium where fifty thousand people showed up. But it is likely that 99% of the wars in human history also needed propaganda. Just, perhaps, not quite at the level we see today.

But such observations must be understood against a backdrop of an eroded education system, a society of screen and anti-depressive addictions. There is no way to grasp the mental illness in play today. For the anti Trump hysteria, and that is what it is, comes out of a kind of backhanded schadenfreude. The disfigured mental state of America has arrived at some kind of critical mass. (As an aside vis a vis Lacan, in his one actual public speaking appearance -Catholic University of Louvain, mid 70s- he opened his lecture by asking the audience “can you bear the life that you have”?

Today, the sense of misery in the U.S. is acute and operative in about three different registers. There is the exponential spike in homelessness and poverty, and that is obvious. But there is another register of psychic torment and depression that blankets life on a day to day basis. And it is a sense of this absolute counterfeit existence — coupled to feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and inadequacy that is causing widespread depression and driving more and more desperate narratives of American privilege. And no wonder, I mean look at the most powerful men in the country; Trump, the Koch Brothers, Mike “Domionist” Pompeo, John fucking Bolton…I mean JOHN BOLTON for christ sake, and Brennan, the Clintons and their posse, and Jeff Bezos and Zuck, not to mention Pierre Omidyar, and these are just off the top of my head. Not a single person in that list is not reprehensible. Then the DC think tanks. And there is no way to overestimate the influence of these institutions; The Brookings Institute, CATO, Council on Foreign Relations, RAND Corporation, Heritage Foundation, Center for American Progress, Center for Strategic and International Studies – the list goes on. These places advice the State Department and Pentagon, the intelligence agencies, Unified Commands of the Marines and Navy, not to mention congress and the Attorney General, and the Executive Branch. As I glanced at the bios of the leadership at CSIS I came across this in a bio…..”…held the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy”. These people live in an alternate universe. They are Martians. But they are very powerful. That is the reality we live in.

So no wonder misery is endemic. And I guess the question begged here is how did the most powerful nation on earth (though defining powerful is perhaps useful) arrive in the hands of people who think the Brzezinski chair in Global Suffering is something to aspire to?

But this sense of the counterfeit is in no small measure the result of the lost counter culture, and alternative press. Again during Vietnam there were important writers protesting and speaking everywhere. Papers like the East Village Other, the L.A. Free Press. Berkeley Barb, et al had importance. People were rejecting the idea of ruling class privilege. They also understood the ruling class were the real criminals. Today Google would just erase them. Now we get Rachel Maddow, Fox News and Jordan Peterson. Where once Robert Bly and Alan Ginsburg gave readings to protest the war, in trips they paid for themselves across the entire country. Today were have celebrity war pimps like Angelina Jolie and George Clooney.

We have a 1950s throwback cracker as AG. If a movie is made of these years it’s too bad Strother Martin has passed on because he was born to play Jeff Sessions. But I digress. (And George Kennedy as Mike Pompeo?). I gotta stop.

I was reading Paul Goodman recently. Whatever place in the annals of American letters that Goodman may finally rest, there is a serious shortage of that kind of wisdom out there today. And Goodman was remarkably prescient as well as wise.

I keep resorting to the metaphor school-monks, the administrators, professors, academic sociologists and licensees with diplomas who have proliferated into an invested intellectual class worse than anything since the time of Henry VIII. Yet I am convinced – as they got their grants and buildings and State laws that give them sole competence — that the monks are sincere in their bland faith in the school. The schools provide the best preparation for everybody for a complicated world, are the logical haven for unemployed youth, can equalize opportunity for the underprivileged, administer research in all fields, and be the indispensable mentor for creativity, business-practice, social work, mental hygiene, genuine literacy — name it, and there are credits for it leading to a degree. The schools offer very little evidence of their unique ability to perform any of these things — there is plenty of evidence to the contrary — but they do not need to offer evidence, since nobody opposes them or proposes alternatives.
— Paul Goodman, Compulsory Miseducation

Over fifty years ago William Burroughs, a contemporary of Goodman, was asked what he thought of contemporary America:

At the official level a nightmare. Difficult to believe that people in positions of power who form the foreign and domestic policies of America could be so stupid and so basically ill-intentioned.

So what we are seeing today is not new. What is new is this phenomenon of the anti-president. All the things that were not really believed in by themselves become valuable, even sacrosanct symbols of an imaginary Good America.

I was told by a teacher recently that her high school students are hugely reluctant to volunteer answers in class. Later she asked one why. The student said everyone was afraid of being made fun of on social media later that night. Best to keep quiet and invisible. This does not portend well for the future of the West. Burroughs added a bit later (in the under-read The Job) about the term nightmare. He said it’s less a nightmare than a non dream. For the ruling class, dreams must be eradicated. The masses cannot be allowed dreams.

Only today, I think, there is — either by accident or design — a manufactured dream. The dream of stopping the anti-president. The obvious contradictions are brushed aside. After all, this is mythology. I remember Robert Bly noting that when a society confuses the mythic with the real, it is a sign of terminal sickness in that society. Witch burning is an example. Of course, there were historical and economic determinants involved in both the wave of European witch hunts in the 16th century (see Sylvia Federici) and those in Salem. But nonetheless the populace believed in witches. They believed the Church propaganda. Today, the hatred of Trump is so exaggerated that only a deep conviction in something bigger than just politics has to be involved. Hating Trump has become a secret handshake among liberals. A part of spiritual self improvement, right alongside Yoga classes and TM.

Of course, Trump is horrid. And somewhere in him, or somewhere in the story of how he got elected, he knows this or at least suspected it. I was put here to be who I am and ergo, I was put here to be hated. He plays to it. He insults the queen for cryin’ out loud. What a cad!

There is another aspect to this, though. One that has to do with how the U.S. government and the ruling elite are expressing their own hysteria. A quick survey here, then.

Mike Pompeo is another example of the foulness that holds power in the U.S. Pompeo has helped form something called the Iran Action Group. What this is, and Pompeo and Mattis openly state this, is an organization devoted to orchestrating a coup d’etat in Iran. They want to overthrow a sovereign government by any means necessary. If this seems a contradiction given the hand wringing and howls of indignation about Russian collusion in OUR elections; well, it is. It’s a breathtaking contradiction. But such is the hubris and arrogance of the U.S. government. What, you might well ask, has Iran done to us? The answer is nothing. Oh rather, it has offended those who stride the corridors of power in the U.S. by not doing what it was told.

Look at the official list of American enemies. Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, and the DPRK. What do they have in common? They are independent. They have refused all those World Bank and IMF overtures to drain profit from the country. They don’t accept U.S. bases in their country. And they refuse to allow western Capital to buy up their resources. The horror!!!

So, the US government, and in particular Pompeo’s CIA, will form committees and pay for studies (from the aforementioned think tanks) to figure out how to kill the leaders (like Gaddafi, and Lumumba) of these recalcitrant nations, or exile them or TRY to kill them. But most of all, to get rid of them and replace them with compliant client governments. For the only acceptable form of foreign government is a vassal state. All those leaders who have defied US diktats, have suffered endless persecution. Why were Chavez and Milosevic demonized? What did they do? Why was the former Yugoslavia bombed, broken up, and its president illegally kidnapped and stuck in a prison? And then handed over to an ad hoc tribunal for a show trial meant to demonstrate how good and gracious is the U.S. (and its European clients) but they couldn’t even get that right. So they dropped the trial from their TV line up. And Milosevic died in jail. Chavez and Milosevic and Castro and Gaddafi et al — were not threats to world peace. They were not tyrants.

I have said before, if the US targets you, then you deserve to be defended. Full stop. Only the most privileged of leftists make distinctions about whatever they don’t like and get mealy mouthed and start using racist terms like “thug”. Or call independent states “regimes” just like Mad Dog Mattis does.

You know that cognitive dissonance must be rampant when the two biggest U.S. allies are Saudi Arabia and Israel. I mean, the Saudis are set, as I write this, to publicly behead a woman’s right activist (and her husband). For….*protesting*. This is our ally. We sell them billions in weapons. We train them. We visit them and they visit us. Or Israel. I mean Israel is an official apartheid state now where politicians openly call Arabs “dogs” and “vermin”.

The Iran Action Group is illegal by all and any international legal conventions. No matter.

I want to add, again, Pompeo is another Christian extremist in this administration and one with a deep hatred of Islam. Back in 2015

…Pompeo, then a Congressman, attacked Barack Obama, who, according to him, took the side of the “Islamic East” in its conflict with the “Christian West”. “Every time there has been a conflict between the Christian West and the Islamic East, the data points all point to a single direction.
— Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, 2017

Pompeo’s Islamaphobia is shared by Pence and, really, the entire Trump cabinet. But this is the standard sensibility of the contemporary evangelical community. And why that is so hard for people to recognize is beyond me. But I want to get back to the state of consciousness in the U.S.today. To the new mythology…or pseudo mythology anyway.

A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that at one point last year, 74% of adults in the UK were so stressed that they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope. One-third were suicidal and 16% had self-injured at some point in their lives. These figures were much higher among young people.

In the United States, death rates are rising steadily, especially for middle-aged white men and women, due to “desperation,” which includes deaths from drug and alcohol addiction as well as suicides and many car accidents. An pidemic of distress seems to be affecting some of the richest nations in the world.
— Manuel E. Yepe, Counterpunch, August 2018

When Richard Nixon switched his Vietnam policy from winning the war to “rescuing” US POWs, he was consciously reclaiming another American myth which was the basis of the Puritans’ earliest literature: the captivity narrative. This pointed the way for the revisionist Rambo histories of Vietnam, whose betrayal scenarios blamed loss on dissenters at home. What was Ronald Reagan, asks Slotkin, if not America’s last attempt to reclaim the beliefs American myths told Americans should bind society together, even when they were known to be untrue.
— Michael Carlson, Irresistible Targets, 2008

These two things, then. Epidemic levels of extreme anxiety and depression, and the system’s doubling down on the mythology of individualism and the frontier; but a doubling down that has meant an ever more distilled nativist zealotry. Those who went to Chris Kyle’s memorial are the NASCAR flyover state true believers, but now liberal America is, as I say, buying in. For them, there seems no alternative. For the liberal, the educated classes in America, the status quo is sacred. And they would rather have any version of Brave New World, than to contemplate actual radical change. You know where the most rabid bulging eye, popping veins, hatred of communism can be found? In white liberal America. And it was Malcolm X. who said “The white liberal is the worst enemy to America, and the worst enemy to the black man.” It is the new fall collection for American Exceptionalism.

The liberal educated white American is now shoehorning some contradictory ideological threads into this new belief system. Trump is a fascist they say (true, but he isn’t the first) and stopping Trump eclipses all other concerns (like Obama’s bloody policies, or Bill Clinton’s, or Bush’s etc, etc). And this sense of purposeful hating of Trump is a bit like the new frontier. One must cross into the land (or underworld…or maybe high rise…I don’t know) of Trump evilness to come out the other side, reborn, redeemed. Trump is a kind of prismatic reincarnation of Reagan, I think. Those who hated Reagan and those who loved Reagan are on the same side regards Trump. And again, it is clear there are elements in the system, the so called deep state if you like, that want Trump gone. Right? That is the common wisdom out there. And there is truth in that perspective I think. I think. But it’s not the whole truth. For Trump serves the interests of even those who seem to want him gone. Why are we to believe this CIA and NSA and Pentagon cabal hate Trump and want him impeached? Why? What is he doing to hurt them? It seems to me he is carrying out policy that serves their interests. The ruling class is always united in the end. His statements are only that. I mean the guy *tweets* for Christ sake. A compulsive tweeter, in fact. He is probably not much in charge of anything, I suspect. He doesn’t know the names of countries, or their histories. He is a typically ignorant American.

But domestically, that is where the real story is unfolding. That’s all Americans care about anyway. They have no idea where Yemen is, or Syria. They have no idea where Vietnam is, for that matter. They DO-NOT-CARE. But Trump’s pandering to white racists and all the Christian evangelicals, and, of course, Jeff Sessions; those things do have a Trump imprint. And it’s ugly. And that ugliness was always there. I mean, literally always there. Since Salem, in fact. Since the first slave ship landed in Virginia. Remember the civil rights fight? Remember there were race riots early in the 20th century in at least a dozen cities. It’s not new. Trump didn’t invent it. But he has allowed it to surface again. And it is in this Manichaean melodrama of the NEW Exceptionalism meets the old racism that the surreal and hallucinatory story of American madness is playing out. The United States is sinking under the weight of its contradictions, ideologically, and it’s also materially crumbling. And it is economically propped up in part by those trillions of dollars associated with the defense industry. With those 900 bases. And with an expanding NATO. I mean if NATO gets much bigger there wont be many places for NATO to attack. And that’s a sobering thought. The homeless encampments around every city in America are the legacy of so called American Century. That is the end of the line for Western capital and rugged individualism. The postscript to Manifest Destiny is a nation of absolute misery, over medicated, and trying hard to NOT see the misery around them. To not see their neighbors have moved….to the nearest homeless encampment. Not see that yet more record days of heat have arrived. Not see that everything is poisoned and wrapped in plastic anyway. Of polluted lakes and scorched earth. A nation of narcissism and despair in equal measures. But at least they can hate Trump together. In that sense the Anti-President is a gift.

Plans for Attack: US Plans for Striking Iran

The world of the terrifying hypothetical is programmatically standard in the Trump White House.  Periods of tense calm are followed by careless flights of fury, digs and remonstrations.  Mortal enemies become amenable comrades; reliable allies turn into irresponsible skinflints who ought to fork out more for their defence.

For all that swirling chaos, the one constant since the 2016 election campaign for President Donald Trump is the Iranian bogey, that defender of the Shiites, the theocratic Republic.  The fear of Iran’s aspirations is an endless quarry for domestic consumption, tied, as it were with propitiating the ever hungry Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On July 23, Trump gave a Twitter offering to Iranian President Rouhani, written in all-caps promising singular, untold of consequences of suffering should Iran ever threaten the United States again.  “We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death.  Be cautious!”

This shout of indignation was the less than measured response to remarks made by Rouhani to Iranian diplomats: “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

After the outburst came the milder reflection.  Before a convention in Kansas City, a cooling breeze was blowing.  “I withdrew the United States from the horrible one-sided Iran nuclear deal, and Iran is not the same country anymore,” came Trump’s explanation.  The United States was “ready to make a deal.”

This picture of dysfunctional play was further clouded by last week’s ominous revelations from Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC.  The network had received some troubling tidbits of information suggesting that the United States is intending to launch strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities next month. This has also prompted concerns about how broad the remit will be. Which allies will be called upon to be engaged in an endeavour that seems more than mildly suicidal?

One unnamed security source described in exasperating fashion by the ABC as “senior” suggests that Australia is supplying aspects of the skeletal outline for such a strike, specifically in the realm of identifying targets: “Providing intelligence and understanding as to what is happening on the ground so that the Government and allied governments are fully informed to make decisions is different to active targeting.”

This willing source within the Turnbull government was adamant to draw distinctions between the actual strike itself (described as the “kinetic” mission), and sketching the picture itself. “Developing a picture is very different to actually participating in a strike.”

But Australia would be implicated in such a mission, should it ever get off the ground, given the role played by the misnamed joint-defence facility at Pine Gap, located in central Australia.  The virtually unknown Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation would also do its bit.

As with any such reports emerging either within the White House, or from its imperial periphery, signals vary.  The US Defence Secretary James Mattis, just to make things a touch more interesting, described the reports as lacings of fantasy.  “I have no idea where the Australian news people got that information. I’m confident it is not something that’s being considered right now and I think it’s a complete, frankly, it’s fiction.”

The subsequent response from the Australian Prime Minister was an unsurprising, vassal phrased echo.  “President Trump has made his views very clear to the whole world, but this story,” noted Malcolm Turnbull, “has not benefited from any consultation with me, the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister or the Chief of the Defence force”.  This, on paper, looks like a decidedly appropriate Trump formula: avoid consultation; it might just cloud your judgment.

The detail supplied to the ABC over the strike plans should not be sneezed at.  Given Trump’s belligerent inner circle (Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton) steaming with the anticipation of a first strike against irreverent states, and the promptings of Israel, the issue retains an air of solemn seriousness.  Even a more moderate Mattis is ever keen to run a grocer’s list of sins perpetrated by Teheran: bolstering Bashar al-Assad in Syria, “fomenting more violence” in Yemen, Iran as regional bully.

The prospect of strikes on Iranian facilities has been further complicated by public enunciations from Netanyahu reiterating the Begin Doctrine, stressing that, “Israel will not allow regimes that seek our annihilation to acquire nuclear weapons”.   The danger here, as ever, is that Israel will go rogue and initiate such an attack, though the spread of Iran’s facilities complicates any such enterprise.

Clio is a cruelly dogged taskmaster and a refusal to listen to the echoes of warnings she inspires imperils states and their citizens.  Invading, interfering and altering the trajectory of development in the Middle East tends to have global repercussions.  Western states have shown a pigheadedly dangerous tendency to meddle and destroy. Death inevitably follows; vacuums are created.  These latest slivers of information from Canberra on US intentions is a salutary reminder that much has not changed.

The Sleep of Civilization

Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.
— Proverbs 19:4″

James “Mad Dog” Mattis spoke this week, at a pentagon press briefing, saying, among other things, that it was a time for all civilized nations to unite. The use of this trope ‘civilized’ echoes colonial sensibility. It is part of general shifting of meaning in the rhetoric of Empire over the last, say, 80 years.

Never mind that the occasion of this speech, as seems increasingly the norm, was based on mostly propaganda. No evidence for a chemical attack was actually provided. Just as the evidence in the Skripal (attempted) murder (sic) is conspicuously lacking.

This is a time when war criminals (unprosecuted, of course) can simply count on the utter amnesia of both the public and the quisling western press.

So let’s go back and check a few boxes on Mattis. This is the man who oversaw the war crimes of Fallujah and then helped cover them up. One can read about it here

So how is it that Mattis can so confidently count on the silence and complicity of the corporate press? Mattis is no doubt sociopathic. He is a lizard eyed lisping sadist and yet he is fawned over and described as the ‘the most revered Marine in a generation’ by the same prostrate press. The adoration of the military in western media is at an all time high. And entertainment today is laden with the most jingoistic and nativist rhetoric imaginable. Hollywood today produces fiction that is uniform in its opinions and values. Watch this season of Designated Survivor. I know that is asking a lot, but do it anyway. Kiefer Sutherland is one of those actors who in middle age has begun to take on the tight lipped appearance of an aggrieved or constipated Quaker. The show is so stunningly reactionary that one finds some difficulty in arriving at the right words. But it is not an anomaly. Half of network prime time drama is military-based in theme. And today Hollywood staff writers can count on CIA or Pentagon “advisors” taking an active part in the creation of scripts. The blurring of fiction and Imperial fiction, as it were. There are ongoing themes in this Sutherland show about Russian interference in US democracy and most recently a story built around a tiny Asian nation with an insane dictatorial leader who wants nuclear weapons. The depictions of the Asian characters is only slightly less cartoon like than Charlie Chan. And always there are the requisite evil Muslim terrorist.

But back to the disturbing figure of Jim Mattis. His call sign is “chaos”. He is reported to be worth in the neighborhood of five million dollars. This is an absurd low ball figure, but whatever. He is a graduate of Central Washington U. and something called the National Defense University. A quick iinternet search reveals this is a special educational institution on the grounds of Fort Leslie in DC and chartered by the Joint Chiefs. One does wonder what a typical class at NDU looks like.

As for the “pacification” of Fallujah. Brett Wilkins wrote…

According to witnesses and survivors of the assault, Marines indiscriminately killed men, women, children, the elderly and disabled alike. Civilians waving white flags of surrender were cut down by snipers, who also targeted ambulances carrying the wounded and dying to the few functioning clinics not destroyed by US bombs. “I see people carrying a white flag and yelling at us, saying, ‘We are here, just try to save us,’ but we could not save them because whenever we opened the ambulance door, the Americans would shoot at us,” Dr. Salam Ismael, head of Iraq’s young doctors association, told American investigative reporter Aaron Glantz, who covered the battle as an unembedded journalist. “We tried to carry food or water; the snipers shoot the containers of food.

No civilizational norms violated there. Nope. Mattis also was the man who had all charges dropped against the soldiers that took part in the rampage at Haditha. Civilians shot point blank, often women and children, and the elderly — in their homes.  Callsign “Chaos”.

Gary Kohls, MD, writing at Veterans Today….

Several of the PEOTUS’ cabinet appointees are high-ranking “lifer” military officers who have an innate disdain for democratic values (as would be expected for anybody whose career has been lived in the bubble of a hierarchical culture whose main junk values are 1) shoot first/ask questions later and 2) the use of dominative power over “enemies” via military violence.

Kohls was primarily writing about Jim Mattis. But honestly, even a cursory examination of ANY four star General will yield similar biographical facts and similar personality disorders. You don’t rise through military ranks without a core ruthlessness, and an innate sadism.
After the bombing of a wedding party in the Iraq desert, Mattis is quoted as saying…

Ten miles from the Syrian border and 80 miles from the nearest city and a wedding party? Don’t be naïve. Plus they had 30 males of military age with them. How many people go to the middle of the desert to have a wedding party?

The rank Orientalism of this comment, the arrogant indifference to the history and culture of Islam, to the Arab world in general, is also the hallmark of the successful military commander. Kill em all and let God sort it out. Of course, at the time of his nomination the NY Times published an op ed whose headline identified Mattis as a “pontential force for restraint”. That crazy old paper of record. And Mattis is routinely described as an intellectual, a ‘warrior monk’, and yet he doesn’t know anything of nomadic desert societies and culture. He didn’t even consider there might be a cultural gap here, or consider he might need to check alternative readings of the Muslim world, ones not provided for by that steller education at National Defense U. Mattis is not an intellectual, not even by the standards of that warped sub phylum of humanity that is the military.

The media coverage of Syria, in the UK and US, is blatantly biased and pro intervention. The fact that FOX news reactionary Tucker Carlson is the sanest voice in mainstream media is very telling. Carlson hasn’t “woke”…. he just saw a niche demographic that might boost his ratings. Still…he was, in fact, correct.

Danny Haiphong wrote

Tucker Carlson understands that he must appeal primarily to Republican voters weary of US interventions they see as products of Democratic Party-led wars even if establishment Republicans are no less hawkish than Democrats. Meanwhile, Goodman and her funders have subtly aligned with the Democrats as the new leaders of the War Party. War is the only tool at the disposal of imperialism, and there isn’t a single voice in Washington or the “liberal” media unwilling to use it.

Under these conditions, infantile leftists and faux socialists in the Democratic Party camp have felt compelled to choose a side in the imperial madhouse. They claim that Democrats are “Presidential” while Putin and Assad are villains of humanity. No criticism is thrown at the Democratic Party, which sent a delegation led by Nancy Pelosi to Israel just days prior to the planned gun down of Palestinian resistance forces in Gaza. It doesn’t seem to matter how many Syrians or Palestinians are killed by the forces of imperialism when the so-called left is under the swoon of the CIA. So-called US leftists have caught anti-Putin fever at the expense of all other political questions.

This includes the murder of Black people by the police in the US. Barely any attention was paid in the US to the murders of Stephon Clark and Saheed Vassell over the last few weeks. Only community members and the usual left organizations made any noise about these state-sanctioned murders. The same goes for Israel’s wonton massacre of participants in Gaza’s Great March for Return. In the absence of a mass movement, people in the US and West are becoming mere onlookers in a changing a world.

This last few months has revealed as never before both the callous cruelty of the ruling class in the U.S. and UK, but also the degrading of education … for lack of a better description. At the UN, British envoy Karen Pierce, mistakenly thought Karl Marx was a Russian. In a prank phone call Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, thought there was a country called Binimo. And Trump himself noted something or other about an imaginary African country called Nambia. Boris Johnson began an extemporaneous recitation of a Kipling poem (Road to Mandalay) in a temple in Myanmar. And then was told it was inappropriate by an aid, trying to save him further embarrassment, and STILL Johnson didn’t understand.

All of these examples are not mere gaffes, amusing mistakes, but rather a general indifference to the cultures of the world, in fact, an indifference to the world beyond their own small corner of it. Indifferent and hostile. Remember when George Bush, now in full rehabilitation mode by his media handlers, mocked Karla Faye Tucker, on death row, who was begging for her life. That is exactly the cruelty one sees across the board in the leaders of the West today. One wonders does Mattis or Bush or Bolton think the use of Agent Orange transgressed civilizational norms? Did Hiroshima?

What strikes me most acutely, these last few months, is the extraordinary cultural chauvinism of the U.S., or rather mostly of white U.S., as well as an institutionalized orientalism. Most White Americans, as a general statement, think they are better than the rest of the world. And most Americans have scant knowledge about the rest of the world. So the belief in cultural (and moral) superiority is based on what? The answer is not simple, but as a general sort of response, this trust in “our” superiority is built on violence. On an ability to be effectively violent. Most British, too, think they are superior to those ‘wogs’ south of their emerald isle. But since the setting of the sun on Empire, ‘officially’, the British hold to both a sense of superiority and a deep panic inducing sense of inferiority — at least to their American cousins. They are still better than those fucking cheese eating frogs or the krauts or whoever, but they accept that the U.S. is the sort of heavyweight champ of the moment. Meanwhile, the tragic and criminal fire at Grenfell Towers in London elicited a public discourse that perfectly reflected the class inequality of the UK, but also reflected, again, the colonialist mentality of the ruling party and their constituency.

Stephen Brenner wrote of the fire and the government response to it..

There is Sir Martin Moore-Bick,** the former High Court Judge, who has been appointed by May to head a board of inquiry. Fears of a protracted inquiry producing an anodyne report were aroused when Moore-Bick went out of his way to declare that the scope of the investigation would be severely limited to determining the immediate cause of the fire and why it spread so rapidly. Answers to both questions already are known. The Sir Inquisitor-to-be has given the game away in adding that “I do not expect everyone to be pleased by the conclusion of the inquiry” – yet to begin. Moore-Bick’s unprompted utterance shows just how pervasive is the Americanization of British political culture. Unnecessary, embarrassing ejaculations like this have become impulsive – defying the dictates of prudent restraint. No one is confused as to who the “everyone” he has in mind refers to. An impression reinforced by the denial of the residents’ right to ask questions in person as to the scope and form of the inquiry. The only open question is the exact tint that the whitewash will take (stitch-up in British dialect). The first testimony will not be heard until mid-September when panel members, as yet unnamed, get back from their holidays.

Graham Peebles adds

Grenfell Tower forms part of the Lancaster Road West Estate in Notting Hill Gate. An area that, like many other parts of the capital, has been subjected to a gentrification assault accompanied by systematic social cleansing that goes back decades and has intensified over the last 10 –15 years. In addition, the Grenfell affair demonstrates that the United States is not alone in its tolerance for actions that should be a national disgrace but are slighted by a political class incapable of feeling shame. The callous, off-hand treatment given the Grenfell victims is reminiscent of how colonial administrators dealt with expendable natives. If a proper criminal process were undertaken, a reasonable verdict would be Involuntary Manslaughter.

But that is exactly it. The colonial template is one etched in acid in the collective imagination of the West. At least the English speaking West. Expendable natives…which is what Jim Mattis sees everywhere that he dumps depleted Unranium and Willy Pete. It is what Madelaine Albright saw in Iraq or Hillary Clinton in Libya or Barack Obama in Sudan, Yemen, and…well… four or five other countries. It is what most U.S. police departments see in neighborhoods ravaged by poverty. As in those old Tarzan films, when the sound of drums is heard, the pith helmeted white man notes…”the natives are restless tonight”. When one discusses Syria, the most acute topic this week, remember that for Mad Dog and Boss Trump, or for the loopy John Bolton, these are just natives in need of pacification. Giving money to ISIS or Daesh, or whoever, as a cynical expression of colonial real politik, is nothing out of the ordinary. It is what the UK and US have done for a long while. It’s Ramar of Jungle handing out beads to the *natives*.

Domestically, take the example of Flint, Michigan. At the drinking water. When the unelected state appointed emergency manager switched from the Detroit River to the Flint River to supply water to the residents of Flint, the result was a spike in all diseases of insanitation. Everyone knew this was going to happen. The General Motors plant had stopped using Flint River water because it was corrosive to the auto parts they were manufacturing. But poor black kids, who cares. The U.S. has a long history of such stuff, from Love Canal, New York, to the chemical dump in the Elk River in West Virginia. You will notice a theme here. It is class. You don’t find ash spills like what happened near the Emery River in Tennessee occurring in Mill Valley or Scarsdale or Bel Air. Inflicting suffering on the poor is perfectly acceptable to the ruling class. To them, privilege is a sign of superiority. And the less deserving are only there to serve.

The problem with the current wave of propaganda from western sources is that very little, if any, evidence is given. The term ‘very likely’ is much in vogue, probably because it leaves such a huge ‘walk it back’ escape route. Except there is less and less effort to even bother. In one sense the solidification of class power came out of neoliberal policies in the 1970s. The top 1% (really, the top half of one percent) increased their wealth dramatically, with the same occurring in the UK. Clinton pushed these principles even further and then Bush and Blair further still. We are now living the dream of the Washington Consensus economists. And it worth noting the founding statement of Hayak’s Mt. Pelerin Society, in 1947. For Hayak was the godfather of neoliberalism and Milton Freidman his heir.

The central values of civilization are in danger. Over large stretches of the earth’s surface the essential conditions of human dignity and freedom have already disappeared.

There is that word again. Of course, this was really only justification for the 1% to expand the reach of Western capital. To exploit labor and extract resources. And when recalcitrant countries did not submit quickly enough, the CIA was always available (ask Iran, or Chile, or Angola. The latter more of a symbolic lesson for those uppity nations even thinking about not following orders. It also marked open U.S. cooperation with apartheid South Africa. And in opposition to the troops Castro sent to assist the MPLA opposition to the ruthless US supported Jonas Savimbi). This restoration of ruling class power, though, was and is always looking over its shoulder. For the reality is that such profound inequality means life becomes unsustainable, even for the top 0.1% is repressed. And such repression takes effort. And that effort is giving birth to the madness one sees today. From Grenfell Tower to Flint Michigan, to Gaza or Libya or Syria — the principles driving the violence are the same. And it matters not if the urbane and articulate Obama is President, or if the troglodyte Trump, if it is Blair or May, for they are only reciting from a small financial Catechism of financial laws, and these laws are breaking down in the face of environmental degradation and an inequality so extreme that its almost impervious to calculation. They are only the voice of their class.

This idea of civilized man has come to be an almost code-word for class hierarchy. The violence against Palestinians is simply inseparable from the violence that killed Stephon Clark. The violence that makes children sick in Michigan is the same one that causes oil spills or disasters such as the Lac-Mégantic train crash near Quebec, Canada. And, it is the same bigoted smug confidence of bourgeoise identity political thinking. The one that demands Islam rid itself of veils, or that ridicules ANY thinking or practice divergent from Western norms. You cannot expect the system to produce change if the system is based on punishing change. The status quo must be protected. For the ownership class world poverty is mostly the fault of the poor.

The admission that neoliberalism has failed in terms of its announced goals has forced its proponents to a tactical retreat—defending the broad thrust of the neoliberal policy agenda under cover of “reform.” The result is an augmented Washington Consensus that blames client states and not international institutions or transnational capital for the failures of neoliberalism. It is the poor who are expected to make still further adjustments along neoliberal lines. From this point of view, what comes after neoliberalism must be more neoliberalism.

— William K. Tabb, “After Neoliberalism“, Monthly Review, June 1, 2003.

This idea of civilizational norms is connected to a deeply rooted assumption about the virtue of Democracy. Israel is described as Democratic but Cuba is not, for example. The reality, of course, is that the CIA and US ruling class spend most of their energy in deterring democracy (to quote Chomsky).

Any real discussion of democracy needs to be extended beyond the undemocratic nature of the global economic institutions to a larger discussion of democracy, one that goes beyond whether votes are counted fairly, opposition candidates allowed to participate on an equal basis, and the voices of ordinary people heard by their elected leaders. Democracy needs finally to be discussed in relation to class rule in capitalist societies.

— William T. Kabb, “After Neoliberalism“, Monthly Review, June 1, 2003.

As Samir Amin pointed out, the “international community” (the G7 plus that bastion of democracy, Saudi Arabia) is utterly unconcerned with the opinions of 85% of the world’s population. So, both on a political/economic level, and on a cultural level, the Imperialist U.S. sees it as an innate right to decide the policies of the global south. It is anti democratic. The ruling class sees the right to enforce inequality as something of a Natural law. The anti Russian propaganda was born when Putin refused to sign off on the Nazi putsch in Ukraine. The US/Japan/NATO alliance is one that demands both economic submission and increasingly a cultural submission as well. And any rejection of this means a military forced submission. Democracy has come to be a shorthand for submission to neo-liberal economic policy dictated by Washington. Freedom is what happens after *we* destroy your country.

That Mattis or May or various other servants of Empire can talk of civilzational norms with a straight face is actually pretty remarkable. The list of crimes is so extensive that one barely knows where to begin. We could ask about Gary Webb and cocaine and the CIA. Or about the School of the Americas, or My Lai or the siege at Waco. Or….but I feel this stuff really should be well known by now. I am more concerned in a sense with the small cultural appropriations and the gestures of an Orientalist sensibility that I see almost daily in western media. And the growing anti-semitism which one finds even on the left. And the seemingly intractable racism of white America. I just stop having the ability to keep track of it all.

How can the white bourgeoisie demand adherence to their values with such tenacity? Do they really see themselves as somehow representative of some ideal? Tolerance means only adherence to their worldview. To their values. It is this nattering about ecological issues while never questioning the US military machine. But these refrains seem to stick in the collective consciousness of the west…”gas your own people” is one. As if gassing someone else were less objectionable. It is a media universe of entrenched meaningless slogans. It always reminds me of the outcry about steroid abuse. Maybe ask why big Pharma manufacture so many steroids. The medical uses for which are very limited. But no, it is easier to punish this or that athlete who in their desperation is looking for an edge, a way to reach that economic pinnacle so few reach. But question Eli Lilly? Never.

The ruling class has always made money, always been ruthless, but again, the 1970s marked the solidification of systematic plunder, a cohesive and seamless river of money upwards. And enforced by the CIA. One should not forget that the CIA was founded by rich white ruling class scions of banking and finance. Allan Dullus, straight out of Wall Street, William Simon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Frank Shakespeare, and Bill Donovan. I mean the CIA calls itself “the Company”…bit of a tip off, that. If one struggles to grasp foreign policy decisions, always look at US business interests in the region. Remember these are ruthless people (MK ULTRA, Operation Mockingbird, etc). And the media was always part of this. The Graham family of Washington Post fame were directly linked to the CIA. William Paley, Henry Luce, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, and hundreds other are all intimate with the CIA. And it is no different now. It was the Clinton cartel that spent inordinate energy and time infiltrating Hollywood. The result is House of Cards, Homeland, Designated Survivor, and all the countless rest. Uniformity of message. Uniformity of values.

I do wonder at times the role of Evangelical Christianity as it runs smack into the Catholic stake-outs in the corridors of power. Perhaps they cooperate, I don’t know. Religion is second to money, anyway. And then there is the role of Israel, that anti democratic neo colonial apartheid state in the Middle East. The ascension of the settler fanatic mirrors the ascension of Dominionists in the current US government. Fanatical zealots. Intolerant and profoundly ignorant of most things outside of their narrow set of concerns. And again, anti democratic. Israel serves the U.S. ruling class, not the other way round. There is no global Jewish plot as I keep reading in social media. The feeding of this bit of classic antisemitism is probably sourced by Israel itself. Nothing serves their PR better than spikes in antisemitism. But Israel is, for sure, more powerful than ever before. More influential.

There is, best case scenario, a new Cold War in place. Worst case scenario, well, doesn’t matter. The real danger is the generalized ignorance now on display. Ruthless and sadistic one can predict, but irrational zealotry and stupidity…that is harder to deal with. And this is for certain the Age of Stupid. As for civilization, I’m coming to think we might well do fine without it.

North Korea: A Threat Or A Victim?

If anyone is still wondering why North Korea was being “provocative” in missile tests and repeatedly declaring what would seem to be a daunting arsenal (although there is still no irrefutable, concrete proof of deliverable, long range nuclear weapons capability) here is just a small taste of what its southern neighbor, in cahoots with Godfather America, has planned:

“Decapitation”

‘Kill the King and the regime will collapse. That is the rationale offered by South Korean military planners for a “decapitation unit” they are forming for the sole purpose of assassinating North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un. They are convinced that, in the ensuing chaos, North Korea’s leadership would disintegrate and abandon the nuclear programme on which he has staked his prestige.

‘ “Decapitation means we have only one target,” said Choi Jin-wook, a long-time North Korea analyst at the government’s Korea Institute for National Unification. “It’s much simpler to eliminate the leader than attack military bases.”

‘South Korean defence planners have ordered “decapitation strikes” in air, naval and ground exercises in which the targets are simulated to resemble one of Kim’s many hideouts or residences. Such exercises are the prelude to the formal formation later this year of the unit, Spartan 3000.

‘South Korea’s Defence Minister, Song Young-moo, has ordered a special forces “kill brigade” of crack commandos to spearhead the group. Fighter planes and guided missile destroyers would provide whatever support they needed.’

“The ministry cited the successful test-firing of a German-made Taurus missile at a target off the south-west coast as an example of the weaponry that might be deployed in an attempt to kill the North Korean leader.

“The missile, with a range of 310 miles, flew about 150 miles, hitting its target in the Yellow Sea.”

South Korea, of course, is not threatened with being wiped off the face of the earth for test firing a missile into the sea, as is its northern neighbor.

Think about the words “decapitation unit” – the horrific image which leaps into any even semi-normal mind. This kind of plotting dwarfs even the horrors of deranged criminals literally decapitating in the Middle East. But then swathes of them too are US backed.

Perhaps “decapitation” is now casual verbal currency in US-dominated political and military circles.

Chilling Principles of Defence Secretary Mattis

It should also not be forgotten that in the Trumposphere, where General James Mattis is now Defence Secretary the General has some pretty arresting principles. Life is clearly very cheap and killing the most casual of undertakings:

A few of his views include:

The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.

Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.

Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.

Precisely the “experiment in American democracy” inflicted most recently on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, with North Korea and Iran in their sights.

With thanks to William Blum, the list of US mass slaughtering “democracy” projects since 1949 is here.

Talking of Afghanistan, here are General Mattis’ thoughts on democracy- spreading there:

You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.

In the real world these are surely views which might well find the holder in a secure psychiatric unit, if not a maximum secure prison.

Diplomatic Overtures Ignored

Contrast this to an ignored approach from the Korean Peninsular, where both Australia and North Korea have Embassies in Seoul.

On 28th September:

The Embassy of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the Republic of Indonesia presents its compliments to the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia and has the honor to inform that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly sent the open letter to the Parliaments of the different countries.

… the Embassy of the DPRK has further the honor to enclose hereby the above-mentioned letter.

The preamble ends with diplomatic courtesies and “highest considerations.”

The letter in part (full document here) written in the third person, reads as follows:

Open Letter to the Parliaments of Different Countries.

The letter noted that Trump, President of the U.S., styling itself ‘the superpower’, denied the existence of the DPRK, a dignified sovereign state (and threatened) ‘total destruction’ at the UN …

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK … mission (is to) promote friendly and co-operative relations with the parliaments and peace-loving people of the countries around the world … based on the ideas of independence, peace and friendship, bitterly condemns the reckless remarks of Trump as an intolerable insult to the Korean people, a declaration of war against the DPRK and a grave threat to the global peace …

(From his first day in office, the President): “has engaged in high handed and arbitrary practice, scrapping international laws and agreements (putting America first) at the expense of the whole world.

Threats of annihilation and sanctions have denied the people of the DPRK “normal economic development, in breach of the UN Charter …

Trump, the letter states “threatened to totally destroy the DPRK, a dignified, independent and sovereign State and a nuclear power. It is an extreme act of threatening to destroy the whole world.”

The correspondence concludes with:

… the belief that the parliaments of different countries, loving independence, peace and justice will fully discharge their due mission and duty in realizing the desire of mankind for international justice and peace (and with vigilance) against the reckless moves of the Trump Administration trying to drive the world in to a horrible nuclear disaster.

With Trump threatening that his finger is hovering over the nuclear button, few could surely disagree with much of the DRPRK’s sentiments.

Donald Trump, of course, boasted menacingly to “totally destroy” North Korea in his address to the UN General Assembly on 19th September, the UN Charter’s fine founding words clearly unknown to him.

There has been a deafening silence from world governments regarding the above letter. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who visited South Korea in August, instead of reacting to a hand held out commented:

I read this as showing that the collective strategy of allies and partners to impose maximum pressure and diplomatic and economic sanctions on North Korea is working … So I think that this shows they are feeling desperate, feeling isolated, trying to demonise the US, trying to divide the international community.

However, Australia’s Lowy Institute Director of International Security, Euan Graham, was more positive, commenting:

This is effectively an invitation to have high level access, to send an (Australian) delegation from Seoul.

Now would be a good time for Australia to exercise its still existing, even if on-off, diplomatic relations with the North.1

North Korea the Aggressor?

For anyone reading most of the Western media where the DPRK is the latest nation to be demonized, here is the best and most succinct summary of endless US betrayal since the armistice of July 1953. Remember too that the US had nuclear weapons in South Korea from the late 1950’s until 1991. An excerpt from the early 1990’s onwards reads as follows:

In January 1993, president Bill Clinton announced the largest military war games ever (in which all sorts of nuclear weaponry featured).

These took place in and around Korea’s shores in March. The DPRK reacted to a more belligerent environment by giving notice of intention to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it had joined in 1985. The North also demonstrated the viability of a medium-range missile, the Nodong 1, in May 1993.

If ever cause and effect were starkly demonstrated here is a prime example.

Kim Il Sung died in July 1994 and his son, Kim Jong Il, replaced him as leader.

In the early summer of that year the US government concluded that a military strike on Yongbyon – under serious consideration – would start a war with the North.

But instead of war, influenced by a voluntary shutdown by the North of the Yongbyon reactor, talks led to the October Framework Agreement of 1994.

Under this agreement, the North agreed to continue the reactor’s shutdown in exchange for light water reactors and a new relationship with the US.

Loans and credits were to ease the agreement, and the US undertook to supply heating oil to tide over the North’s heating problems in the short term.

The agreement called for full diplomatic relations and a US pledge not to threaten or target the North with nuclear weapons.

Eloquently, no missile testing by the North proceeded between May 1993 and August 1998.

In June 1998 the Pentagon staged simulated long-range nuclear attack drills against North Korea, and in October that year a US Lieutenant General spoke publicly about plans for replacing the North Korean regime, and of even beginning the project preemptively if there were solid grounds for expecting an attack.

These developments hardly confirmed US commitment to developing a more co-operative relationship with the North.

George W Bush’s ascension to president in 2001 produced a declaration from his advisers that the 1994 agreement was dead in the water. (Thus) in December 2002, the DPRK expelled the IAEA inspectors, restarted the Yongbyon reactor and withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Bush, meanwhile, declared his intention of dealing with North Korea after Iraq.

In spring 2003 the North made another offer to the US: it would scrap its nuclear development if the US would normalise relations and provide basic security guarantees.

Six years later, in 2009, substantive talks involving Russia and China as well as Japan, the US and both Koreas had goals which included the normalising of diplomatic relations, an end to trade sanctions and acknowledgement of the North’s right to use nuclear energy.

But these talks collapsed after both the US and the ROK rejected the North’s gradual dismantling of its nuclear weapons.

In 2011 Kim Jong Il died and his second son, Kim Jong-un, became the North’s new leader.

The summary concludes:

During these past three months the risk of war, indeed of nuclear war – not necessarily restricted to the Korean peninsula – has increased dramatically.

General Mattis Visits South Korea.

General Mattis is, at time of writing, in South Korea, where he has delivered a near dead ringer copy of the run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq. Washington’s mantra was that Iraq “threatened its neighbours” though even hostile neighbours responded that it did not. Iraq, of course, could destroy parts of the West “in 45 minutes.” It was a pack of lies.

Here’s Mattis:

North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programs … The situation had developed a “new urgency.

Next month Trump is to visit South Korea, the man who has threatened to unleash on the small nation “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

This is the man of whom twenty seven eminent psychiatrists and psychotherapists have written in a just published book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”:

We collectively warn that anyone as mentally unstable as this man simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the Presidency.

It is time for the world’s diplomats to respond to North Korea’s letter and rise to the urgent occasion, before it is too late for the region and very possibly the planet.

  1. Sydney Morning Herald, 20th October 2017.

Mosul’s “Liberation”: Another Fallujah, Dresden or Hiroshima?

In the United States today, the Declaration of Independence hangs on schoolroom walls, but foreign policy follows Machiavelli.

Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

When the US, UK and their fellow destroyers of nations embarked in October last year on erasing Iraq’s ancient Mosul in order to save it, did they reflect on the enormity of the cost to humanity and history of their actions now and that of their genocidal, illegal invasion and fourteen year occupation – and counting? (Not forgetting the bombing of the country from 1991-2003.) There was a quasi pull-out in 2009, but a reported 16,000 mercenaries remained in the US Embassy compound.

Mosul, situated on the Tigris River, was first mentioned in name by the Greek writer Xenophon in 401 BC, although the area was inhabited from probably the 25th century BC. As Fallujah, near destroyed by the US in 2004 was known as City of Mosques, Mosul has been known as City of Churches. The population however, has been richly diverse: Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmens, Kurds, Yazidis, Shabakis, Mandeans, Kawliya, Circassians.

Sunni Islam has been the largest religion, but Salafism, Christianity, Shia Islam, Sufism, Yezidism, Shabakism, Yarsan and Mandeanism all coexisted in and around this ancient, hauntingly beautiful city.

Mosul, as so much of Iraq, has suffered unimaginably under ISIS – but it is hard to spot the difference from how Iraq suffered under the US and UK (and are again.) The US bombed the city during the 2003 invasion, murdered Saddam Hussein’s two sons and fifteen year old grandson there in July 2003 – no Judge or jury, just US/ISIS style summary executions – as across the nation.

Robert Fisk wrote of US atrocities in Iraq as related to him by an American veteran. There is a US Army “Warrior creed” which:

… allows no end to any conflict (but) total destruction of the ‘enemy.’ It allows no defeat… and does not allow one ever to stop fighting (lending itself to the idea of the ‘long war.’) It says nothing about following orders, it says nothing about obeying laws or showing restraint. It says nothing about dishonourable actions…

Fisk writes (September, 2006): “From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to Bagram, to the battlefields of Iraq and to the ‘black’ prisons of the CIA, humiliation and beatings, rape, anal rape and murder have now become so commonplace that each new outrage is creeping into the inside pages of our newspapers.” Note “inside pages”, as so “commonplace.”

“Looser Rules of Engagement”

In April this year, it was revealed that the US Air Force on a bomb-fest over Mosul – and indeed wider Iraq and Syria – were operating under “looser rules of engagement.” Moreover:

Lt Gen McFarland, now orders air strikes that are expected to kill up to ten civilians without prior approval from U.S. Central Command …

And this is “liberation” from ISIS? (Emphasis added.)

Presumably the family of eight reported killed by a US bomb in late October, including three children, one just two years old, were one of the General’s “expected” kills.

Air strikes in Iraq and Syria have:

  … destroyed 6,000 buildings with over 40,000 bombs and missiles have inevitably killed much higher numbers of civilians.

Apocalyptic horror. Of course, US and UK presence in air and on the ground in Syria are entirely illegal.

So the people of Mosul and Syria’s cities, towns and villages are hostage to ISIS/Daesh and other head chopping factions fighting with US weaponry. US forces on the ground are “advising” the Iraqi army – which has absorbed militias every bit as terrorizing as ISIS. US forces themselves have, of course, a gruesome history of terror and gathering body parts as “souvenirs.”

In World War 11 it was skulls, ears, teeth; in Vietnam penises. In Afghanistan it was fingers “and other body parts”, and in Iraq it was reportedly fingers, with dead bodies being tied to US tanks in Fallujah and as Ross Caputi wrote:1:

Some of my closest friends mutilated dead bodies, looted from the pockets of dead resistance fighters, destroyed homes, and killed civilians.

Destruction – a “Partial” List

And ponder further on the US “liberation” of Mosul. As Nicholas J. Davis has written earlier this year, Award-winning Iraqi environmental scientist, Mosul-born Souad Al-Azzawi2  compiled a partial list of air strikes on the city:

* Many government buildings have been destroyed. U.S. officials told USA Today, attacks are often conducted at night to minimize civilian casualties, but security guards and civilians in neighboring buildings have of course been killed.

* Telephone exchanges have been systematically bombed and destroyed.

* Two large dairies were bombed, killing about one hundred civilians and wounding two more.

* Multiple daytime air strikes on Mosul University on March 19th and 20th killed ninety two civilians and wounded one hundred and thirty five, mostly faculty, staff, families and students. Targets included the main administration building, classroom buildings, a women’s dormitory and a faculty apartment building.

(Note: Mosul University was one of the largest educational and research centres in the Middle East. Near unbelievably, the murderous ISIS primitives are thought to have destroyed over 8,000 books and 100,000 manuscripts – but the US destroyed near the entire faculty.)

* 50 civilians were killed and 100 wounded by air strikes on two apartment buildings, Al Hadbaa and Al Khadraa.

* A mother and four children were killed in an air strike on a house in the Hay al Dhubat district of East Mosul on April 20th, next door to a house used by Islamic State that was undamaged.

* Twenty two civilians were killed in air strikes on houses in front of Mosul Medical College.

* Twenty civilians were killed and seventy wounded by air strikes on the Sunni Waqif building and nearby houses and shops.

* U.S. air strikes on April 24th damaged the Rashidiya water treatment plant in West Mosul and the Yarmouk power station in East Mosul.

* Banks and a bottling plant were bombed, more dead and maimed.

* An air strike on a fuel depot in an industrial area ignited an inferno with 150 casualties on 18th April.

* Bombs have damaged a food warehouse, power stations and sub-stations in West Mosul, and flour mills, a pharmaceutical factory, auto repair shops and other workshops across Mosul.

More US destruction and arguably war crimes are listed here.

General Mattis’s “Annihilation Tactics”

To further assess what a US “freed” Mosul might look like, here is a brief summary of what Fallujah’s 2004 “freedom” cost:

The 1st Marine Division fired a total of 5,685 high-explosive 155mm artillery rounds during the battle. The 3rd Marine Air Wing (aviation assets only) expended 318 ‘precision’ bombs, 391 rockets and missiles, and 93,000 machine gun and cannon rounds.

When the Iraqi army re-took the remains of the city from ISIS/ISIL, as ever advised by the US, The Telegraph headline said it all: “Fallujah in ruins after Iraqi forces retake ‘90%’ of the city from ISIL.

On Sunday 28th May US Secretary of Defence James Mattis stated that the U.S. military is to use “annihilation tactics” to defeat ISIS fighters in Mosul telling CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation.”

Mattis knows a bit about “annihilation tactics”.  He headed Camp Pendleton’s Ist Marine Division in Iraq which were integral to the massacres in Fallujah in April and November 2004.

Speaking to a group of soldiers about how to behave in Iraq during a 2003 speech he ordered:

Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.

Fallujah’s mass graves are silent witness to the diligent obedience to Mattis’s orders.

“Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight … It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you …”, he told a conference in San Diego, in 2005.

When the US is not shooting and bombing Mosul’s families in the cursed name of liberation, it is displacing them. Figures to 19th May show in excess of 526,000 men, women and children fleeing their homes and all they own. In the month to 2nd December 2016 over one thousand civilians were killed. On May 26th one hundred and five civilians were killed. On 30th May in the Az Zanjili district of the city, at least two hundred people were reportedly killed in a bombing lasting several hours and dozens of homes “completely flattened.” (Al Araby, 30th May.) The figures in human cost, hour by hour, day after day, would surely fill volumes.

On 27th May the US had dropped leaflets telling people to leave the Old City, Mosul’s ancient heart, a city referred to as Al Fayha (the Paradise) and the “Pearl of the North.” US forces, however, care as little as ISIS for life, limb or the Middle East’s haunting Pearls and Paradises.

Mosul Will Be “Destroyed

Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s former Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, has stated that Mosul, formerly home to two million souls, will be completely “destroyed” and “uninhabitable” by the time the terrorists have been driven out.3 Another ancient jewel destroyed in the name of “freedom.”.

Behind the figures are people living the unimaginable. As this was being finished, a message came from a Mosul-born friend, who writes:

The American Coalition are lying … Civilians in Mosul are getting killed by the bombing and Iraqi and coalition ground missiles. They keep bombing each area for one or two weeks killing hundred of civilians and when the area is empty from any snipers …

Two of my mother’s cousins houses in Thawrah area were bombed three days ago. Fourteen family members died. Four women, eight children the oldest is ten, and two men. People reclaimed seven bodies and other seven still under rubble. They couldn’t save any survivor under the rubble because the bombings are still going on intensively on the area.

Those are my relatives and I know very well that they have nothing to do with IS.

This is the New US/(Prime Minister) Abadi strategy … In Hay al Refaiae, last week my other cousins moved into five houses with their families with also an eighty seven year old old mother to avoid the American Coalition bombing.  All five houses were destroyed – with the whole surrounding area. Three of them were injured.

“Why Do I Get So Angry?”

Another letter was sent to a friend by his father, also used with permission and gratitude:

People ask me: Why do I get so angry?

Below is a scene today from Mosul, my home town. It is a scene repeated a thousand times over, all around Mosul. Yesterday the U.S. Air Force undertook 158 bombing missions over the city of Mosul. Every bridge across the Tigris in Mosul is now destroyed, the Sugar Factory has been bombed, a 5-Story medical centre has been demolished, the entire airport has become rubble, much of the city’s infra structure including water and electricity have ceased to function, the University of Mosul buildings have been levelled, thousands of homes have been rendered unlivable, and of course no one is counting the civilian dead and the refugees.

And all for what? To destroy the Islamic State? Is this the same so-called Islamic State whose factions have been supported, financed, and trained by the CIA over the past five years in order to bring about regime change in Syria?

Since 2003, the United States has bombed Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan … and presently it has its eye focused on Iran. And yet, we have the gall and temerity to talk about the savagery and barbarism of the Mongolian hordes of eight centuries ago.

I really do wonder why people keep asking me: Why do I get so angry?

Thinking the Unthinkable

In the title I query the outcome of this criminal decimation and cite Hiroshima. Parts of Iraq already have higher cancer and birth defect statistics than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, linked to the depleted uranium weapons used by the US and UK from 1991 to now.

Donald Trump has demonstrated his casual fecklessness with weapons of mass destruction by dropping the largest “conventional” weapon ever used on Afghanistan and fifty nine radioactive and chemically toxic Tomahawk Cruise missiles on Syria, neither country had been proved of doing anything but simply existing.

On the Presidential campaign trail, Mark Halperin of Bloomberg asked  Donald Trump, whether he would use nuclear weapons against ISIS. “Well, I’m never going to rule anything out”, replied Trump. When pushed by Chris Matthews of MSNBC on this issue, Trump said: “Somebody hits us within ISIS – you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?”

Iraq is near destroyed on the Blair and Bush lies that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Trump does and it seems, is prepared to think the unthinkable. Will the UN, the relevant world bodies, the “international community” wake up, before it is too late, before a swathe of Iraq and Syria’s people are vapourised, with twenty seven centuries of history?

  1. Guardian, 13th March 2012
  2. Ph.D., Colorado School of Mines
  3. Independent, 15 February 2017.