Category Archives: Japan

Is the US a Civilized Nation?

The title of this piece may seem stupid to many. They would respond that obviously the US is civilized. After all, we have a highly developed society and culture which is a definition of civilized. In addition, as a sign of our culture, they proudly point to our museums, theaters, and symphonies that, along with our colleges and universities, are among the best in the world.

Adjectives found in other definitions of civilized are humane, ethical and reasonable. Antonyms include barbaric, savage, and inhumane. Many of us would likely agree with the following sentence:

A civilized society or country has a well developed system of government, culture, and way of life and that treats the people who live there fairly.

Definitions or use of civilized thus allow room for interpretations. For example, I would certainly agree that the US has a highly developed society and culture. However, our highly developed system of government has been badly corrupted to benefit the wealthy and powerful. As a result of this corruption, our government and economic system unethically prioritize profit for the few over the interests of the many. Hence I would argue that having a highly developed society and culture does not necessarily imply fairness, and thus it isn’t necessarily evidence that the US is civilized. In addition, unlike much of Western Europe, the US has not implemented many of the human rights identified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more evidence of our inhumane behavior, would a civilized society accept or allow:

  • the genocide of American Indians or slavery;
  • a large number of people, including families with children, to be homeless;
  • a judicial system that is terribly biased against minorities and the poor;
  • education to be so expensive that many students will be encumbered with huge debts often requiring decades to pay off;
  • health insurance and pharmaceutical industries to make the cost of health care so expensive that many people cannot afford it;
  • some employers to pay workers less than what is necessary to provide the basics for their families;
  • some citizens being kept from voting based on their race;
  • the horrific abuse of refugees and immigrants;
  • industry to pollute the air, water and soil, threatening the health of people living nearby; and
  • the future of coming generations to be seriously harmed through our government’s inaction or our continuing a lifestyle that leads to a climate catastrophe?

When Europeans came to the American continents, they viewed the indigenous people as being savages. However, consider the following prophecy:

Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find money cannot be eaten.

Cree Prophecy

The indigenous peoples understood that environmental protection was essential, that the lust for money was extremely dangerous, and that we had to consider how our actions would impact the future. We are finally beginning to appreciate these facts as the climate catastrophe becomes more obvious to all.

In addition, the immoral war crimes we have committed against other nations, including the indigenous nations, displays a shameful level of savagery and barbarism. For example, according to J. Robert Oppenheimer (father of the atomic bomb), Secretary of War Henry Stimson struggled with the moral issues raised by WWII and expressed dismay at the “appalling” lack of conscience and compassion ushered in by the war. Stimson stated that he was disturbed by the “complacency, the indifference, and the silence with which we greeted the mass bombings in Europe, and, above all, Japan.”

Army General Omar Bradley, the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated this point:

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.1

Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, criticized the use of the atomic bomb:

It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.2

Unfortunately, we have continued with these savage and barbaric policies in, for example, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. We have also imposed sanctions on a number of nations such as North Korea, Venezuela and Iran that don’t comply with our policies, and these cruel and brutal sanctions are crimes against humanity. This unnecessary and illegal killing by the US of untold numbers while devastating countries and populations that were not a threat to it were hardly acts of a civilized nation.

  1. Speech to Boston Chamber of Commerce, 1948.
  2. I was there:  The Personal Story of the Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman Based on His Notes and Diaries Made at the Time, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc ., 1950.

A Note on Carlos Ghosn and Global Capitalism

The boss of world car maker Nissan  — arrested and under intense surveillance around his luxury mansion, and charged with gorging himself with about $140 million of unauthorized pay1 — makes a daring escape from under the nose of Japanese authorities and across half the world. It will take months for details of how Carlos Ghosn ran away to become public, and probably years to verify which of them are true and which are diversionary stories. However, the lessons about global capitalism are already plain to see.

* Ghosn rose up the managerial ladder at vehicle maker Renault in France by showing his mettle as a ruthless exploiter of labor. His nickname, Le Cost Killer, was well earned.2 At the Renault factory in Flins, workers must stay at their station the entire eight-hour shift with two ten-minute toilet breaks. They burst into tears because they cannot help wetting their clothes. Nearly half the workers are on temporary contracts that run one to three months.3

* When Japanese car maker Nissan was on the verge of financial collapse in 1999, it formed a loose alliance with Renault and received an investment. Renault obtained about 40 percent of Nissan — and installed Ghosn as the boss.4  It was a major break for Japanese industry to accept a foreigner as chief. Ghosn laid off 20,000 and closed factories, which got the profits flowing again.

* Several years ago Ghosn began to push for a complete merger of Nissan and Renault in a consolidating global industry. But it seems the exploiters could not agree how to divide the profits. Nissan generates most of them, and high Japanese executives and Japan Capital in general feel that Renault wants too big a share.5

* Ghosn kept up the merger drive. This is the real reason, he says, why he was arrested and charged with plundering Nissan of undeclared money, putting luxury mansions in Japan, France, and Brazil on the corporate tab, and hiding a murky deal with Saudi businessmen.6  Ghosn counterchares that he is a victim of selective prosecution, asserting that executives in Japan do this stuff all the time.

* Unable to squeeze Ghosn to leave the scene quietly, the Japanese government released him on bail after four months in jail, re-arrested him last April, and largely confined him to his mansion. Ghosn could not have a phone or use the Internet, and his wife could not visit him.7  Ghosn’s trial was to begin in April 2020 but then was put off to autumn 2020 or even into 2021.

* Ghosn had enough. With his wealth and global connections, he put together a bold plot. Somehow Ghosn left his house despite 24-hour surveillance by several cameras. He allegedly took a private jet to Istanbul (chartered under a false name),8 changed to another private jet without going through Turkish arrival and departure clearances, and flew to Beirut, Lebanon, the city where he grew up and where he apparently enjoys government protection and presidential affection.

While the press debates the inhumane procedures of Japanese courts and confinement versus the illegal flight of Ghosn, it gives little attention to the fact that the Ghosn-Nissan-Renault affair is a clash among thieves over the profits sweated from hundreds of thousands of workers. For twenty years the press adored Ghosn for his talents at exploitation.

The escape drama underlines that the globalization of corporations, production, and supply chains does not create a unified capitalist class. Just the opposite, the battle of capitalist interests becomes global, too.

Despite intellectuals who chatter about the surpassing of national sovereignty9, state power remains more important than ever. Ghosn found refuge in Lebanon. Japan and Lebanon have no extradition treaty. State boundaries define limits of coercive state power, a reality that currently infuriates Japanese authorities.

Incidentally, the detail about workers forced to urinate in their pants was published by a mainstream newspaper in Japan almost a year ago, when the capitalist media there were in the process of removing Ghosn’s crown.

Hollywood will most likely make a suspense thriller about Carlos Ghosn’s escape. The movie might portray the contention between capitalists, but it will hardly underline the fact that it is all a fight over the spoils of exploitation. The Godfather is a brilliant epic showing that the mafia reproduces big business in miniature, but the first part in particular hides what the mafia is about: it extorts small businesses, preys upon working people susceptible to the vain hope of gambling and the doomed refuge of drugs, and hires out thugs to employers when workers want to unionize.

There is no greater drama than socialist revolution. Hollywood has yet to make a movie about how Lenin got out of tsarist-imposed exile in neutral Switzerland during the First World War and traveled with associates in a special closed train to Russia shortly after the revolution of 1917 began. History will tuck Carlos Ghosn away in a footnote — and see new triumphs on the path that Lenin took.

  1. How Carlos Ghosn Hid $140 Million in Compensation From Nissan,” Bloomberg, September 23, 2019.
  2. “‘Le Cost Killer’ faces toughest test,” The Telegraph, July 4, 2006.
  3. Renault factory workers in poor labor conditions have no sympathy for ‘cost-cutter’ Ghosn,” Mainichi, February 3, 2019.
  4. Nissan and Renault cement ties,” BBC News, 30 October 30, 2001.
  5. Renault presses Nissan again for merger,” Nikkei Asian Review, April 22, 2019.
  6. Carlos Ghosn: the charges against him,” France 24, January 8, 2020.
  7. Factbox: Ghosn’s bail conditions – Surveillance cameras, no internet access,” Reuters, December 30, 2019.
  8. Private jet firm says it was duped over Carlos Ghosn escape,” Guardian, January 3, 2020.
  9. See, for example, Peter Wilson, “The end of sovereignty,” Prospect, March 24, 2016.

Popes Against Nuclear Weapons

The Vatican comes with its ills, contradictions and blatant hypocrisies in the field of moral theology and human existence, but on the issue of atomic and nuclear weapons, the position has been fairly consistent, if marked by gradual evolution.  On February 8, 1948, Pope Pius XII held an audience with members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.  “What misfortunes,” he asked, “should humanity expect from a future conflict, if it should prove impossible to arrest or curb the use of ever newer and more surprising scientific inventions?”

The Second Vatican Council through its 1965 document Gaudium et spes deemed the arms race “one of the greatest curses on humanity and the harm it inflicts on the poor is more than can be endured”.  Using nuclear weapons exceeded “the limits of legitimate self-defence”, and would constitute a “crime against God and against humanity itself.  It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.”  Pope Paul VI would subsequently give his approval to the Nuclear Arms Non-Proliferation Treaty, making nuclear disarmament a matter of highest moral urgency.

But attitudes to nuclear weapons were always chained to the Cold War orbit and the old dilemmas of self-defence.  In November 1980, with the election of US President Ronald Reagan, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit expressed genuine terror at the prospect of a pro-bomb enthusiast in the White House.  “We’ve just elected a President who has stated his conviction that we can have superiority in nuclear weapons, an utter impossibility.  We have a Vice-President who has clearly stated that one side could win a nuclear war and that we must be prepared to fight one and to win it.”  But the concern on the part of US bishops, expressed through The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, was influenced by an admixture of interference and moderation on the part of The Vatican.

Pope John Paul II was keen to keep things cordial with Reagan, preferring revisions to be made to the original drafts of the pastoral.  While the pontiff kept up public relations appearances by visiting Hiroshima and meeting with the Hikabusha, the mutilated and maimed survivors of the world’s first atomic blast, he was also mindful of the big power game and Reagan’s initial hard line against the Soviet Union.

The Catholic Church was also at odds in how best to reconcile dealing with nuclear weapons, given the Cold War language of evil so heartily promoted by Reagan, with its multi-barbed opposition to godless communism.  The US-Soviet struggle, moralised Reagan at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida was nothing less than a fight “between right and wrong and good and evil.”  The final text of The Challenge of Peace affirmed the Catholic view that a sovereign state might well engage in self-defence, but that could only ever happen in accordance with the limits of just-war theory.

The current pontiff Pope Francis has layered his comments in line with a growing body of thought suggesting that the use of nuclear weapons in any circumstances, including their possession, would be illegal.  Nuclear boffins see him as “unusually active compared to his predecessors in nuclear diplomacy.”

To use such weapons, he reasoned in his November 2017 address to the symposium “Prospects for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament” would result in “catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects”.  Having such weapons encouraged a fallacious, dangerous logic.  They were tactically futile, wasteful and could be used by mistake.

Pope Francis also noted the moves by the United Nations to draft a binding instrument that would prohibit the use of nuclear weapons, resulting in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Through a conference in 2017, the General Assembly voted to adopt the Treaty by a vote of 122, with one abstention, and one against.  (A truly “historic” vote, claimed the pontiff, one that “filled a significant judicial lacuna”.)

The text considers “that any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, in particular the principles and rules of international humanitarian law.”  Outlined prohibitions include undertakings never to, “Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”.

Such views align with the long held view of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), though not those of the International Court of Justice, which maintains the position that the use of nuclear weapons may be permissible in “extreme circumstances of self-defence.”  In the aftermath of the group being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Finn reiterated the position that, “Nuclear weapons are illegal.  Threatening to use nuclear weapons is illegal.  Having nuclear weapons, possessing nuclear weapons, developing nuclear weapons is illegal, and they need to stop.”

As with John Paul II, Pope Francis made a trip to Japan to reiterate his position.  In Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Hypocentre Park, he dismissed nuclear deterrence as viable, claiming that peace was inconsistent with the “fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation.”  Nuclear weapon stockpiles were symbols of squandered wealth even as “millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions”.  Before a gathering at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, he spoke of the annihilation of “so many men and women, so many dreams and hopes” in the aftermath of the “incandescent burst of lightning and fire”.

Whatever reservations critics and observers might have of The Vatican and its foreign policy, the current pontiff’s concerns should be filed along those of other states agog before what looks like a spike of interest in military experimentation.  The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty has been canned by the Trump administration; the Russian response, after initial indignation, has been one of resigned adaptation.  The stalled denuclearisation issue over the Korean Peninsula is likewise something setting regional powers on edge.  But the efforts to deem the very possession of such weapons of indiscriminate mass murder illegal continue their inexorable momentum.

War: Ruinations and Ruminations

Ruinous and deadly wars throughout history should have given people everywhere down through the ages cause and pause for thinking about what has happened and why it has happened. While many people presumably have and continue to do just that, what they know and understand is usually controlled by their nation’s power elite. That is never more the case than in America from its beginning and continuing. The power elite (aka the ruling class) in the “Devil’s Marriage” between Corporate America and Government America that make up America’s corpocracy essentially control what most Americans know and understand about what the corpocracy has done, is doing, and plans to do next.1 As if that sort of exploitative wrongdoing were not enough, the power elite’s evildoing is ruining America and the world.2 America, as the world knows, is the greatest threat to peace.3

This article wrenches itself free of America’s corpocracy and gives readers an unvarnished review and examination of America’s wars since the time America “was born in the womb of war.” In one of my books I wrote about America’s “oldest professions,” warring and spying.4 If they are allowed to continue, one or more forms of doomsday will visit humanity later this century as some experts forecast.5 To rescue the future, America first needs to rescue itself from its power elite. In my newest book, “911!” I spell out in detail a rescue plan and who need to be the rescuers.6

The purpose of this article is straightforward: to make a convincing argument that war is neither unavoidable nor just nor inevitable. I start by “enlisting” (that word is not really meant to have military connotations) the “reinforcement” (ditto the first parenthetical) of luminaries down through the ages and what they have said against war. Following them, I am on my own with the support of my research and analysis to present my argument full blown. I end by giving my explanation for why war happens, why it seems to be inevitable and why it need not be inevitable.

Luminaries Against War Down Through the Ages

It is more rather than less discouraging to know that many notable people down through the ages have voiced their disapproval of and disgust over the habit called war. If the “voices heard” in this section of the article had instead been a roaring cheer for war, this article might never have been written!

Edward Abbey: Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners.

Alfred Adler: To all those who walk the path of human cooperation war must appear loathsome and inhuman.

Aeschylus: In war, truth is the first casualty.

Aesop: Any excuse will serve a tyrant.

Anonymous: A great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.

Issac Asimov: Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent.

Major General Smedley Butler. War is a racket.

Albert Camus: We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives…inside ourselves.

Bennett Cerf: The Atomic Age is here to stay–but are we.

Agatha Christie: One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.

Clarence Darrow: True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.

Bob Dylan: Come you masters of war. You that build all the guns. You that build the death planes. You that build the big bombs. You that hide behind walls. You that hide behind desks. I just want you to know I can see through your masks.

Barbara Ehrenreich: No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Albert Einstein: War is an act of murder.

Abraham Flexner: Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

Benjamin Franklin: There never was a good war or a bad peace.

Chris Hedges: The failure to dissect the cause of war leaves us open for the next installment.

Herodotus: In peace sons bury fathers, but war violates the order of nature, and fathers bury sons.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

John Lennon: All we are saying is give peace a chance.

Basil O’Connor. The world cannot continue to wage war like physical giants and to seek peace like intellectual pygmies.

Anne O’Hare McCormick: Today the real test of power is not capacity to make war but capacity to prevent it.

Charles Eliot Norton: The voice of protest…is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum…is bidding all men…obey in silence the tyrannous word of command.

George Orwell: Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. War is peace.

Harry Patch, Last surviving WWI soldier: War is organized murder, and nothing else.

Alexander Pope: O peace! how many wars were waged in thy name.

Ayn Rand: Do not ever say that the desire to “do good” by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity is good motives.

Jeannette Rankin: You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.

Bertrand Russel: War does not determine who is right, only who is left.

Antoine De Saint-Exupery: War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus.

Butler Shaffer: In this war – as in others – I am less interested in honoring the dead than in preventing the dead.

Bruce Springsteen: Blind faith in your leaders or in anything will get you killed.

President Donald J. Trump: From the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars.

Charles V of France: Name me an emperor who was ever struck by a cannonball.

Howard Zinn: We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.

Say and think what you will about President Trump, I do not recall any of his predecessors publicly having made similar statements and then tried to back them up with executive orders. Any US president must be very careful in opposing the “deep” state or risk being assassinated. Recall what happened and why to JFK!7

About America’s Wars: Unavoidable and Just?
A Critique of its Wars

I answer here these two questions for each of America’s seven overt wars that I discuss. Was it avoidable? Was it just?  The first criterion is self-explanatory. The second could be ambiguous without an explanation. The criterion of justness is preferable to that of legality because the foundation of all law is a consideration of what is just and moral behavior. Moral behavior is doing what is right. Immoral behavior is doing what is wrong. Simple as that.

Born in the Womb of War: The American Revolution

The “Founding Fathers” founded nothing. They invaded a land already occupied and slowly began slaughtering the occupants. The invaders were America’s original wrongdoing and evildoing power elite. They mostly descended from England, a belligerent and imperialistic country that endlessly pursued war such as its 100-year war with France.8

These original power elite of America were already creatures of habit and heritage and clearly in no mood to kowtow to King George, so they started America’s first war. It was a totally avoidable and unjust war. To be sure, they presented King George a long list of grievances in their Declaration of Independence, but by signing it they had no intention of relying on state craft to seek a nonviolent resolution. Their “olive branch” petition sent later to the King, moreover, was clearly insincere and the King knew it, since he got it after he was sent the Declaration of Independence.9

Seeking a settlement with “Mad King George” would not have been as ludicrous as it may seem. His troops, fighting far away on foreign soil would never have prevailed in the long run even if they had won. Instead, they would have eventually dissolved from exhaustion, lack of resources, and sense of futility in the face of continued resistance and civil disobedience from the colonists. The American Revolution was thus a Pyrrhic victory for the revolutionaries, leaving over 25,000 of them dead and as many wounded, and predisposing the new nation to a future of warring as a habitual means to further its own colonizing and global exploitation.10

Civil War

The late historian Howard Zinn made it clear in his writings that President Lincoln provoked the attack on Fort Sumter that launched the Civil War not with the primary purpose of freeing the slaves but to make sure to maintain the ability to expand the nation’s territory and with it, greater markets and resources.11  Lincoln, in other words, was an early practitioner of imperialism by deadly military means.

The very Lincoln memorialized in the nation’s capital was also a racist as he clearly indicated in a speech he gave in Charleston:

I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races—and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.12

Whatever his motives might have been, and whether he spoke with a forked tongue depending on the audience, his decision to start the Civil War was deadly, unnecessary, and morally outrageous. Moreover, he prevented the balkanization of America into two smaller Americas each too small to wreak havoc, ruin and death on the rest of the world at the hands of America’s power elite over the ensuing centuries.

WWI

WWI was a result of multiple causes; namely, idiotic revenge over the assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914, rivalries among imperialistic nations along with their lust for more international prestige and more global territory, and mediocre leaders who let the war happen, a war that left 10 million soldiers from the involved countries dead.13

WWII

That Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war on the U.S. are two tragic and memorable incidents that undoubtedly lead many people to believe that WWII was unavoidable and just. Not according to Zinn, though, who raised and answered several key questions. Was the U.S. involvement for the rights of nations to independence and self-determination? To save the Jews? Against racism? For democracy? No, not at all based on his review of the evidence. The U.S. involvement in WWII had no such high-minded purposes, and Zinn concluded that WWII proved the no war can be just.14  Zinn’s research along with many others’ historical accounts of WWII provide clear-cut evidence that FDR deliberately provoked Japan into attacking and knew the attack would prompt Germany into immediately declaring war on the U.S., which they did do.15

Appalling, too, is the fact that America’s power elite were profiting from financing and helping to rearm Hitler’s war machine after it was depleted by WWI.16  What is even more unforgivable is the U.S.’s atomic bombing of two populous cities in Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombings, the first of their kind and the last so far on human beings, were totally unnecessary. Our government knew that Japan was prepared to surrender before the bombings, but our government bombed anyway to scare its newly created enemy, Russia.17

Fourteen countries were neutral during WWII.18 Not the U.S., where war is a racket!

Vietnam War and the Unprecedented Carnage

That the French left Vietnam after 10 futile years of trying to colonize it should have been a clear signal to our government that any attempt to dominate the country would also be doomed to failure.  But our power elite, licking their chops over the prospect of securing a gateway into the markets and riches of Southeast Asia, and motivated to stop the spread of Communism, ignored the signal.

It is so ironic and so sad that Ho Chi Min, who deserved to be the beloved leader of a unified Vietnam, emulated America’s Declaration of Independence in writing one for a unified Vietnam, which we did everything atrociously possible to prevent, yet a unified Vietnam nation eventually prevailed.19

The U.S. warriors and their cheerleading imperialists went berserk in ravaging Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Here is an absolutely horrifying tally of the losses to innocent countries and their peoples:

“–Seventy-five percent of South Viet Nam was considered a free-fire zone (i.e., genocidal zones).

–Over 6 million Southeast Asians killed (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia).

–Over 64,000 U.S. and Allied soldiers killed.

–Over 1,600 U.S. soldiers, and 300,000 Vietnamese soldiers remain missing.

–Thousands of amputees, paraplegics, blind, deaf, and other maiming created.

–13,000 of 21,000 of Vietnamese villages, or 62 percent, severely damaged or destroyed, mostly by bombing.

–Nearly 950 churches and pagodas destroyed by bombing.

–350 hospitals and 1,500 maternity wards destroyed by bombing.

–Nearly 3,000 high schools and universities destroyed by bombing.

–Over 15,000 bridges destroyed by bombing.

–10 million cubic meters of dikes destroyed by bombing.

–Over 3,700 US fixed-wing aircraft lost.

–36,125,000 US helicopter sorties during the war; over 10,000 helicopters were lost or severely damaged.

–26 million bomb craters created, the majority from B-52s (a B-52 bomb crater could be 20 feet deep, and 40 feet across).

–39 million acres of land in Indochina (or 91 percent of the land area of South Viet Nam) were littered with fragments of bombs and shells, equivalent to 244,000 (160 acre) farms, or an area the size of all New England except Connecticut.

–21 million gallons (80 million liters) of extremely poisonous chemicals (herbicides) were applied in 20,000 chemical spraying missions between 1961 and 1970 in the most intensive use of chemical warfare in human history, with as many as 4.8 million Vietnamese living in nearly 3,200 villages directly sprayed by the chemicals.

–24 percent, or 16,100 square miles, of South Viet Nam was sprayed, an area larger than the states of Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island combined, killing tropical forest, food crops, and inland forests.

–Over 500,000 Vietnamese have died from chronic conditions related to chemical spraying with an estimated 650,000 still suffering from such conditions; 500,000 children have been born with Agent Orange-induced birth defects, now including third generation offspring.

–Nearly 375,000 tons of fire balling napalm was dropped on villages.

–Huge Rome Plows (made in Rome, Georgia), 20-ton earthmoving D7E Caterpillar tractors, fitted with a nearly 2.5-ton curved 11-foot wide attached blade protected by 14 additional tons of armor plate, scraped clean between 700,000 and 750,000 acres (1,200 square miles), an area equivalent to Rhode Island, leaving bare earth, rocks, and smashed trees.

–As many as 36,000,000 total tons of ordinance expended from aerial and naval bombing, artillery, and ground combat firepower. On an average day U.S. artillery expended 10,000 rounds costing $1 million per day; 150,000-300,000 tons of UXO remain scattered around Southeast Asia: 40,000 have been killed in Viet Nam since the end of the war in 1975, nearly 70,000 injured, and 20,000 Laotians have been killed or injured since the end of the war

–7 billion gallons of fuel were consumed by U.S. forces during the war.

–If there was space for all 6,000,000 names of Southeast Asian dead on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC, it would be over 9 sobering miles long, or nearly 100 times its current 493-foot length.”20

This carnage was encouraged by the diabolically evil Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. “Kill anything that moves” he once told General Alexander Haig.21

Just think for a moment about the unprecedented carnage of Vietnam caused by the U.S. No nuclear bombs were dropped on that helpless, innocent nation and its neighbors, yet over 6 million Southeast Asians were killed by the bloodthirsty U.S.22 “Only” about 199 thousand people were killed by the two U.S. atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.23 If justice were to be served instead of being a travesty, any living perpetrators of the Vietnam War would be permanently locked up in solitary confinement.

Afghanistan and Iraqi Wars

Nothing more need be added to this finding: Early in December of 2016 CODEPINK conducted “The People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War.” Two days of testimony and documentation provided indisputable evidence: Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded not to combat terrorism but to gain control of hydrocarbon resources.”24

More Questions About War

Self Defense?

Would not a war of self-defense unravel the argument that no war is unavoidable or just? No, the best defense against modern warfare initiated against the U.S. is prevention through the U.S. having the right kind of foreign policies in place over time. Unfortunately, the administrator of our foreign policy, the Department of State, is a subsidiary of the Department of Defense War. Foreign policies are militant military policies.

Conscription?

Would the draft have been abolished after Vietnam if the government was convinced that all future military interventions must be just or avoidable? No, the draft was abolished precisely because the government knew future military interventions could not meet these two standards and more protests on the magnitude of those against the Vietnam War would surely follow.

Exemptions?

The more just and avoidable a war would there not be few exemptions granted from battle? No, in any American war to date the elite have avoided it like a plague. And how many politicians have gone into battle? They are spineless creatures that send others to their graves. They ought to be the pall bearers for every person killed from their wars and then held accountable.

Popularity?

If a particular war were just or unavoidable, besides not abolishing the draft, there would be very few conscientious objectors, draft dodgers or deserters. But just the opposite happened during WWII and Vietnam, the last war relying on conscription. During WWII there were roughly 21,000 deserters (one was executed) and 45,000 conscientious objectors.25 During Vietnam, there were nearly 420,000 deserters.26

Amnesty?

If a particular war were just or necessary, its warrior-in-chief would not have granted conditional or unconditional pardons or amnesty to war resistors over the years. Yet in the 20th century over 1,000 draft dodgers during WWII were pardoned by President Truman; Vietnam War draft resisters and deserters were offered clemency by President Ford; and hundreds of thousands of Vietnam War draft dodgers were given unconditional pardon by President Carter. Perhaps even warriors-in-chief can have pangs of doubt or guilt over sending young men unnecessarily to battle.27

Humanitarian?

What about military interventions for humanitarian reasons, to prevent massacres and to liberate people from ruthless despots, for example? Americans learn in their youth from school textbooks that America always has good intentions towards other nations.28  But that is sheer propaganda deliberately foisted by the power elite on the rest of us to protect their own self interests. No war can be legitimized as well-intentioned and humanitarian. To quote Einstein once again, “War cannot be humanized. War can only be abolished.”29 Finding and using a genuinely humane intervention requires creative diplomacy and a moral conscience, not military might.

Wars do not liberate civilians from oppressors. Wars kill the civilians, and tyrants in their lands often follow by ruling puppet regimes that suit the self-interests of America’s power elites. Throughout history wars on the average have killed more civilians than combat soldiers. The civilian casualty rate rose to 85% of all casualties during the Iraq War and probably is approaching 100% from drone killings wherever the drones drop bombs.30

The power elite profit more not by defeating the enemy, but by keeping the war winless and endless.

Morally Just?

I would think that only a psychopath or a diehard war rationalizer would argue that war is moral. How can any war justify such universal values as caring for others, fairness and justice gleaned from a search through time and places by a lawyer turned ethicist (an odd switch)?31

What about the lesser standard for behavior, the law that the corpocracy ignores, such as Articles 1 and 3 of the Constitution; 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments; all laws protecting human nature such as homicidal laws against murder; and international laws such as the 1928 Kellogg–Briand Peace Pact? I would think only people like the U.S. president’s legal counsel would make the legal case for war, torture, and the like.

MAD: The Safety Valve?

The ultimate war is nuclear war. One insane rationale for stockpiling nuclear warheads and threatening to use them in escalating international conflicts is called “MAD,” or mutually assured destruction.32 Would not a sane policy require making peace treaties instead?

Born to Kill?

Ever hear of a newborn baby with a weapon clutched in its tiny hand? We must learn why to kill and how to kill other human beings. If killing were instinctive, our species would either be extinct by now or substantially depleted. Were it natural, there would be neither PTSs nor suicides.

Here is what a former Army ranger had to say about the crucial role of military training in learning to kill: “Military training is fundamentally an exercise in overcoming a fear of killing another human.”33  This enterprising ranger subsequently formed a consulting group, “Killology Research Group,” a bunch of “Warrior Science Group consultants dedicated to protecting our families and our children and to the strong defense of our country.”34  Nothing surprises me anymore.

And that is why I was not surprised to read later how the military came up with the idea to tell its soldiers the Vietnamese were sub-humans so the Vietnamese could be killed without any guilt or remorse.  Soldiers were told the Vietnamese were “gooks, slants, slopes, and anything to make the soldiers think the Vietnamese were not humans.”

Think about it. Our government takes our youth, often under-privileged and poorly educated, and turns them into killers so that politicians can stay in office and the business drivers of the corpocracy can keep on driving and thriving, not dying.

About War as an Act of Murder

Its First Implication

I have no basis for disputing Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most brilliant minds, who claimed that “war is an act of murder.” If you agree, are you prepared to accept the implication that the people who promote war, that the people who provide the means for war and that the people who authorize war are surrogate murderers? And should they not be incarcerated for the rest of their lives as international war criminals instead of being honored?

A Second Implication

Silent Americans are a dependable prop for America’s power elite. Silent Americans thus become the accomplices of America’s international war criminals. If justice were to be served, should not silent Americans share the blame?

Yet Another Implication

We are all warriors.  When America is at war, whether an official or unofficial war, it is being carried out in our name, “America,” not in the names of those members of the power elite who actually are responsible for starting and sustaining the war. America’s wars, in other words, are our wars, whether we like it or not, whether we are silent or not. When little children are bombed to smithereens by our bombs, we are the bombers. Loved ones who survive blame America.

Why War?

What causes war and is war inevitable?

War boils down to behavior, what people do when they tolerate, promote, prepare for, authorize or execute war. Behavior always has two interacting causes, the person and the person’s context, or situations, circumstances and conditions that influence what the person does. By far the most influential part of the context of the corpocracy’s power elite are their countless props that they create for themselves. I call them props because they prop up the power elite’s power. Without their props the power elite would be powerless and there would be no more wars by them. Not being held accountable for their international war crimes is one of the stronger props. I devote a whole chapter in my book, “911!”, to enumerating and explaining all the props, and most of my plan for rescuing America from its power elite focuses on legally and peacefully removing all the props.35

A different explanation of war’s inevitability is given by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former high-level official in the Reagan administration who subsequently has studied and explained America’s corpocracy even more than I have done. He attributes the inevitability of war to the power elite’s ideology of manifest destiny of ruling the world.36 While their ideology does indeed influence their resulting war-oriented behavior, singling out and seeking to counter or end any ideology would be futile. Ideologies are strongly held beliefs that have hardened into concrete. Concentrating on eliminating their ideological belief of manifest destiny would be akin to trying to chisel away several thousand people encased in concrete!

In Closing

If we can accept seven U.S. wars as an acceptable sample of all wars, then no war is either unavoidable or just.

There are two ways to end war. One, knock down the numerous props supporting the power elite so that a “power rectangle,” not a “power triangle,” represents the distribution of power.37 Two, let doomsday in one form or another end war and everything else. If the first doesn’t happen, the second one will.

  1. Brumback, GB. The Devil’s Marriage. Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch. Author House, 2011.
  2. Brumback, GB. “Real America, an Endangering and Endangered Ruination”, Dissident Voice, March 28; OpEdNews, March 29; Headline News, March 29; PopularResistance.Org Daily Digest, March 31; Greanville Post, April 2; Transmedia Service, April 6; Uncommon Thought Journal, April 8, 2016.
  3. Post Editorial Board. U.S. Is the Greatest Threat to World Peace: Poll. New York Post, January 5, 2014.
  4. Brumback, GB. America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying, Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.
  5. Spratt, D. & Dunlap, I. “Existential Climate Related Security Risks: A Scenario Approach”, BT Policy Paper, May 2019.
  6. Brumback, GB. “911!”, Independent Self-Publishing, 2019 (readers can go to Amazon Books, enter “Gary Brumback’s “911!” book” and continue until “Look Inside).
  7. See the following references regarding JFK’s assassinations: Fetzer, J. JFK and RFK: The Plots that Killed Them, The Patsies that Didn’t. Voltairenet.org, June 13, 2010; Roberts, PC. JFK Turned to Peace and was Assassinated. Institute for Political Economy, July 20, 2018; and also, Talbot, D. The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. Harper Perennial, 2016.
  8. Wikipedia. List of Wars Involving England.
  9. Wikipedia. The Olive Branch Petition.
  10. Wikipedia. United States Military Casualties of War.
  11. Zinn, H. A People’s History of the United States, Harper Perennial, 2005.
  12. Ibid. p.
  13. Zinn, H. Howard Zinn on War, Seven Stories Press, 2000.
  14. Zinn, H. A People’s History of the United States,  Harper Perennial, 2005.
  15. See, e.g., Dietrich, D. “The Pearl Harbor Deception”, American Patriot Friends Network, December 2008; Petras, J. “Provocations as Pretexts for Imperial War: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11”, Global Research, August 3, 2014; and, Swanson, D. “The Ancient Mythical Rites of Pearl Harbor Day”,. OpEdNews, December 5, 2018.
  16. See, e.g., Dobbs, M. “Ford and GM Scrutinized for Alleged Nazi Collaboration”, The Washington Post, November 30, 1998; and, Paul, J. & Kuznick, P. “D-Day: How the U.S. Supported Hitler’s Rise to Power”, Therealnews.com, June 8, 2019.
  17. Kohls, GG. Dr. “The Hiroshima Myth. Unaccountable War Crimes and the Lies of US Military History”, Global Research, July 31, 2013.
  18. Chepkemoi, J. “Countries Who Remained Neutral in World War II”, World Atlas, July 26, 2018.
  19. Alpha History. “Ho Chi Minh’s Declaration of Independence (1945)”, Alpha History, undated.
  20. Wilson, SB.  “Remembering All the Deaths from All of Our Wars”, Counterpunch, May 27, 2016.
  21. Branfman, F. “The 10 Most Ghoulish Quotes of Henry Kissinger’s Gruesome Career”, Salon, February 13, 2016. For more literature about Mr. Kissinger try this sampling: Anderson, JL.”Does Henry Kissinger Have a Conscience?” The New Yorker, August 20, 2016; Branfman, F. “The New Face of Evil: Why Henry Kissinger is Still Relevant Today”, OpEdNews, April 23, 2013; Falk, R. On (Not) Loving Henry Kissinger, TRANSCEND Media Service, May 23, 2016; and, Hitchens, C. The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Twelve, 2012.
  22. Wilson, SB. Op. Cit.
  23. atomicarchives.com. “The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”, Atomicarchives, undated.
  24. Behan, R. “Yes, It was Blood for Oil: Codepink Nails the Truth About George Bush’s Wars”, OpEdGeneralNews, December 17, 2016.
  25. The estimate of WWII deserters is from Wikipedia The estimate of conscientious objectors during WWII is from the Living Libraries of the University of California at Irvine.
  26. Giraldi, P. “Deserters, Traitors and Resistors: A Long Tradition of Those Who Walked Away From War”, Huff Post, September 22, 2014.
  27. For President Truman’s decision, see Crotty, R. “The Draft Dodgers of 1944”, National Archives, September 16, 2010. For President Ford’s decision see Bates, M. “President Ford’s Clemency Program for Draft Dodgers and Deserters”, Free Republic, December 27, 2006. For President Carter’s decision see Lescaze, L. “President Pardons Viet Draft Dodgers”, The Washington Post, January 22, 1977.
  28. Fitzgerald, F. “America Revised: History Schoolbooks in the Twentieth Century”, Little Brown & Company, 1979.
  29. Einstein, A. Original source unknown.
  30. Eckhardt, W. “Civilian Deaths in Wartime,” Security Dialogue, 2008 (1), 89-98.
  31. Josephson, M. “Teaching Ethical Decision-Making and Principled Reasoning. Ethics: Easier Said than Done”, 1988, 1, 27-33.
  32. Noble, S. Anarchy and Near-Term Extinction, Dissident Voice, June 18, 2014.
  33. See Killology Research Group. A Warrior Science Group Partner.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Opcit. “911!” See Chapter 5, Pp. 53-74 for a thorough discussion of the power elite’s props.
  36. Roberts, PC. “Why War Is Inevitable,” OpEdNews, May 26, 2014.
  37. Opcit. “911!” My discussion of the power triangle and power rectangle as symbols for the distribution of power in a nation see Pp. 3-4 and 104-105.

Nuclear War: Just Another Day

Catastrophic events that send the world into turmoil happen on ‘just another day’. The atom bomb that exploded over Hiroshima took place while thousands of ordinary folk were just going about their everyday business on ‘just another day’. A missile attack on a neighbourhood in Gaza or a drone attack on unsuspecting civilians in Afghanistan: death and destruction come like a bolt from the blue as people shop at the local market or take their kids to school on ‘just another day’.

Will it be ‘just another day’ when the next nuclear bomb is exploded in anger, an ordinary day when people are just going about their daily business? By then it might be too late to do anything, too late to act to try to prevent an unfolding global catastrophe on a scale never before witnessed by humans.

Yet so many appear too apathetic and wrapped up in a world of gadgets, technology, shopping malls, millionaire sports players and big-time sports events to think that such a thing could be imminent.

Are they so preoccupied with the machinations of their own lives in cotton-wool cocooned societies to think that what is happening in Syria or Iraq is just too boring to follow or that it doesn’t really concern them or it is ‘not my problem’? Do they think they are untouchable, that only death, war and violence happens in faraway places?

Could any of us even contemplate that on some not-too-distant day a series of European cities could be laid waste within a matter of minutes? It isn’t worth thinking about. Or is it?

The US (and the West’s) foreign policy is being driven on the basis of fake morality and duplicity. Millions lie dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya as a result of US-led imperialism and nuclear-armed Russia is constantly demonised simply because it will not acquiesce to Washington and serve as a vassal state.

And now, as the US continues to stir up tensions with Iran and as China warns neighbouring countries about allowing US nuclear missiles aimed at it on their territories, much of the Western public and media remain oblivious to the dangers of conflict escalation and the biggest immediate threat to all life on Earth: nuclear war.

The threat of mass murder

Some fell to the ground and their stomachs already expanded full, burst and organs fell out. Others had skin falling off them and others still were carrying limbs. And one in particular was carrying their eyeballs in their hand.

The above extract comes from an account by a Hiroshima survivor talking about the fate of her schoolmates. In 2016, it was read out in the British parliament by Scottish National Party MP Chris Law during a debate about Britain’s nuclear arsenal.

In response to a question from MP George Kereven, the then British PM Theresa May said without hesitation that, if necessary, she would authorise the use of a nuclear weapon that would kill hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. May also implied that those wishing to scrap Britain’s nuclear weapons are siding with the nation’s enemies.

Politicians like May read from a script devised by elite interests. This transnational capitalist class dictates global economic policies and decides on who lives and who dies and which wars are fought and inflicted on which people.

The mainstream narrative tends to depict individuals who belong to this class as ‘wealth creators’. In reality, however, these ‘high flyers’ have stolen ordinary people’s wealth, stashed it away in tax havens, bankrupted economies and have imposed a form of globalisation that results in devastating destruction and war for those who attempt to remain independent or structurally adjusted violence via privatisation and economic neoliberalism for millions in countries that have acquiesced.

While ordinary folk across the world have been subjected to policies that have resulted in oppression, poverty and conflict, this is all passed off by politicians and the mainstream media as the way things must be.

The agritech sector poisons our food and agriculture. Madelaine Albright says it was worth it to have killed half a million kids in Iraq to secure energy resources for rich corporations and extend the wider geopolitical goals of ‘corporate America’. The welfare state is dismantled and austerity is imposed on millions. The rich increase their already enormous wealth. Powerful corporations corrupt government machinery and colonise every aspect of life for profit. Environmental destruction and ecological devastation continue apace.

And nuclear weapons hang over humanity like the sword of Damocles.

The public is supposed to back this status quo in support of what? Austerity, powerlessness, imperialism, propping up the US dollar and a moribund system. For whom? Occidental Petroleum, Soros, Murdoch, Rothschild, BP, JP Morgan, Boeing and the rest of the elite and their corporations whose policies are devised in think tanks and handed to politicians to sell to a largely ignorant public: those who swallow the lie about some ‘war on terror’ or Washington as the world’s policeman, protecting life and liberty.

Rejecting hegemonic thought

Many believe nuclear weapons are a necessary evil and fall into line with hegemonic thinking about humanity being inherently conflictual, competitive and war-like. Such tendencies do, of course, exist, but they do not exist in a vacuum. They are fuelled by capitalism and imperialism and played upon by politicians, the media and elite interests who seek to scare the population into accepting a ‘necessary’ status quo.

Co-operation and equality are as much a part of any arbitrary aspect of ‘human nature’ as any other defined characteristic. These values are, however, sidelined by a system of capitalism that is inherently conflict-ridden and expansionist.

Much of humanity has been convinced to accept the potential for instant nuclear Armageddon hanging over its collective head as a given, as a ‘deterrent’. However, the reality is that these weapons exist to protect elite, imperialist interests or to pressure others to cave into their demands. If the 20th century has shown us anything, it is these interests are adept at gathering the masses under notions of flag, god and country to justify their slaughter.

To prevent us all shuddering with the fear of the threat of instant nuclear destruction on a daily basis, it’s a case of don’t worry, be happy, forget about it and watch TV. It was the late academic Rick Roderick who highlighted that modern society trivialises issues that are of ultimate importance: they eventually become banal or ‘matter of fact’ to the population.

People are spun the notion that nuclear-backed militarism and neoliberalism and its structural violence are necessary for securing peace, defeating terror, creating prosperity or promoting ‘growth’. The ultimate banality is to accept this pack of lies and to believe there is no alternative, to acquiesce or just switch off to it all.

Instead of acquiescing and accepting it as ‘normal’, we should listen to writer and campaigner Robert J Burrowes:

Many people evade responsibility, of course, simply by believing and acting as if someone else, perhaps even ‘the government’, is ‘properly’ responsible. Undoubtedly, however, the most widespread ways of evading responsibility are to deny any responsibility for military violence while paying the taxes to finance it, denying any responsibility for adverse environmental and climate impacts while making no effort to reduce consumption, denying any responsibility for the exploitation of other people while buying the cheap products produced by their exploited (and sometimes slave) labour, denying any responsibility for the exploitation of animals despite eating and/or otherwise consuming a range of animal products, and denying any part in inflicting violence, especially on children, without understanding the many forms this violence can take.

Burrowes concludes by saying that ultimately, we evade responsibility by ignoring the existence of a problem. The evasion of responsibility, acquiescence and acceptance are, of course, part of the conditioning process.

The ‘problem’ encompasses not only ongoing militarism, but the structural violence of neoliberal capitalism, aided and abetted by the World Bank, IMF and the WTO. It’s a type of violence that is steady, lingering and a daily fact of life under globalised capitalism.

Of course, oppression and conflict have been a feature throughout history and have taken place under various economic and political systems. Indeed, in his various articles, Burrowes goes deep into the psychology and causes of violence.

But there is potentially a different path for humanity. In 1990, the late British MP Tony Benn gave a speech in parliament that indicated the kind of values that such a route might look like.

Benn spoke about having been on a crowded train, where people had been tapping away on calculators and not interacting or making eye contact with one another. It represented what Britain had apparently become under Thatcherism: excessively individualistic, materialistic, narcissistic and atomised.

The train broke down. As time went by, people began to talk with one another, offer snacks and share stories. Benn said it wasn’t too long before that train had been turned into a socialist train of self-help, communality and comradeship. Despite the damaging policies and ideology of Thatcherism, these features had survived her tenure, were deeply embedded and never too far from the surface.

For Tony Benn, what had been witnessed aboard that train was an aspect of ‘human nature’ that is too often suppressed, devalued and, when used as a basis for political change, regarded as a threat to ruling interests. It is an aspect that draws on notions of unity, solidarity, common purpose, self-help and finds its ultimate expression in the vibrancy of community, the collective ownership of productive resources and co-operation. The type of values far removed from the destructive, divisive ones of imperialism and capitalism which key politicians and the corporate media protect and promote.

The Disaster of Negative of Interest Rates

President Trump wants negative interest rates, but they would be disastrous for the U.S. economy, and his objectives can be better achieved by other means.

The dollar strengthened against the euro in August, merely in anticipation of the European Central Bank slashing its key interest rate further into negative territory. Investors were fleeing into the dollar, prompting President Trump to tweet on August 30:

The Euro is dropping against the Dollar “like crazy,” giving them a big export and manufacturing advantage… And the Fed does NOTHING!

When the ECB cut its key rate as anticipated, from a negative 0.4% to a negative 0.5%, the president tweeted on September 11:

The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term.

And on September 12 he tweeted:

European Central Bank, acting quickly, Cuts Rates 10 Basis Points. They are trying, and succeeding, in depreciating the Euro against the VERY strong Dollar, hurting U.S. exports…. And the Fed sits, and sits, and sits. They get paid to borrow money, while we are paying interest!

However, negative interest rates have not been shown to stimulate the economies that have tried them, and they would wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, for reasons unique to the U.S. dollar. The ECB has not gone to negative interest rates to gain an export advantage. It is to keep the European Union from falling apart, something that could happen if the United Kingdom does indeed pull out and Italy follows suit, as it has threatened to do. If what Trump wants is cheap borrowing rates for the U.S. federal government, there is a safer and easier way to get them.

The Real Reason the ECB Has Gone to Negative Interest Rates

Why the ECB has gone negative was nailed by Wolf Richter in a September 18 article on WolfStreet.com. After noting that negative interest rates have not proved to be beneficial for any economy in which they are currently in operation and have had seriously destructive side effects for the people and the banks, he said:

However, negative interest rates as follow-up and addition to massive QE were effective in keeping the Eurozone glued together because they allowed countries to stay afloat that cannot, but would need to, print their own money to stay afloat. They did so by making funding plentiful and nearly free, or free, or more than free.

This includes Italian government debt, which has a negative yield through three-year maturities. … The ECB’s latest rate cut, minuscule and controversial as it was, was designed to help out Italy further so it wouldn’t have to abandon the euro and break out of the Eurozone.

The U.S. doesn’t need negative interest rates to stay glued together. It can print its own money.

EU member governments have lost the sovereign power to issue their own money or borrow money issued by their own central banks. The failed EU experiment was a monetarist attempt to maintain a fixed money supply, as if the euro were a commodity in limited supply like gold. The central banks of member countries do not have the power to bail out their governments or their failing local banks as the Fed did for U.S. banks with massive quantitative easing after the 2008 financial crisis. Before the Eurozone debt crisis of 2011-12, even the European Central Bank was forbidden to buy sovereign debt.

The rules changed after Greece and other southern European countries got into serious trouble, sending bond yields (nominal interest rates) through the roof.  But default or debt restructuring was not considered an option; and in 2016, new EU rules required a “bail in” before a government could bail out its failing banks. When a bank ran into trouble, existing stakeholders–including shareholders, junior creditors and sometimes even senior creditors and depositors with deposits in excess of the guaranteed amount of €100,000–were required to take a loss before public funds could be used. The Italian government got a taste of the potential backlash when it forced losses onto the bondholders of four small banks. One victim made headlines when he hung himself and left a note blaming his bank, which had taken his entire €100,000 savings.

Meanwhile, the bail-in scheme that was supposed to shift bank losses from governments to bank creditors and depositors served instead to scare off depositors and investors, making shaky banks even shakier. Worse, heightened capital requirements made it practically impossible for Italian banks to raise capital. Rather than flirt with another bail-in disaster, Italy was ready either to flaunt EU rules or leave the Union.

The ECB finally got on the quantitative easing bandwagon and started buying government debt along with other financial assets. By buying debt at negative interest, it is not only relieving EU governments of their interest burden, it is slowly extinguishing the debt itself.

That explains the ECB, but why are investors buying these bonds? According to John Ainger in Bloomberg:

Investors are willing to pay a premium–and ultimately take a loss–because they need the reliability and liquidity that the government and high-quality corporate bonds provide. Large investors such as pension funds, insurers, and financial institutions may have few other safe places to store their wealth.

In short, they are captive buyers. Banks are required to hold government securities or other “high-quality liquid assets” under capital rules imposed by the Financial Stability Board in Switzerland. Since EU banks now must pay the ECB to hold their bank reserves, they may as well hold negative-yielding sovereign debt, which they may be able to sell at a profit if rates drop even further.

Wolf Richter comments:

Investors who buy these bonds hope that central banks will take them off their hands at even lower yields (and higher prices). No one is buying a negative yielding long-term bond to hold it to maturity.

Well, I say that, but these are professional money managers who buy such instruments, or who have to buy them due to their asset allocation and fiduciary requirements, and they don’t really care. It’s other people’s money, and they’re going to change jobs or get promoted or start a restaurant or something, and they’re out of there in a couple of years. Après moi le déluge.

Why the U.S. Can’t Go Negative, and What It Can Do Instead

The U.S. doesn’t need negative interest rates, because it doesn’t have the EU’s problems but it does have other problems unique to the U.S. dollar that could spell disaster if negative rates were enforced.

First is the massive market for money market funds, which are more important to daily market functioning in the U.S. than in Europe and Japan. If interest rates go negative, the funds could see large-scale outflows, which could disrupt short-term funding for businesses, banks and perhaps even the Treasury. Consumers could also face new charges to make up for bank losses.

Second, the U.S. dollar is inextricably tied up with the market for interest rate derivatives, which is currently valued at over $500 trillion. As proprietary analyst Rob Kirby explains, the economy would crash if interest rates went negative, because the banks holding the fixed-rate side of the swaps would have to pay the floating-rate side as well. The derivatives market would go down like a stack of dominoes and take the U.S. economy with it.

Perhaps in tacit acknowledgment of those problems, Fed Chairman Jay Powell responded to a question about negative interest rates on September 18:

Negative interest rates [are] something that we looked at during the financial crisis and chose not to do. After we got to the effective lower bound [near-zero effective federal funds rate], we chose to do a lot of aggressive forward guidance and also large-scale asset purchases. …

And if we were to find ourselves at some future date again at the effective lower bound–not something we are expecting–then I think we would look at using large-scale asset purchases and forward guidance.

I do not think we’d be looking at using negative rates.

Assuming the large-scale asset purchases made at some future date were of federal securities, the federal government would be financing its debt virtually interest-free, since the Fed returns its profits to the Treasury after deducting its costs. And if the bonds were rolled over when due and held by the Fed indefinitely, the money could be had not only interest-free but debt-free. That is not radical theory but is what is actually happening with the Fed’s bond purchases in its earlier QE. When it tried to unwind those purchases last fall, the result was a stock market crisis. The Fed is learning that QE is a one-way street.

The problem under existing law is that neither the president nor Congress has control over whether the “independent” Fed buys federal securities. But if Trump can’t get Powell to agree over lunch to these arrangements, Congress could amend the Federal Reserve Act to require the Fed to work with Congress to coordinate fiscal and monetary policy. This is what Japan’s banking law requires, and it has been very successful under Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and “Abenomics.” It is also what a team of former central bankers led by Philipp Hildebrand proposed in conjunction with last month’s Jackson Hole meeting of central bankers, after acknowledging the central bankers’ usual tools weren’t working. Under their proposal, central bank technocrats would be in charge of allocating the funds, but better would be the Japanese model, which leaves the federal government in control of allocating fiscal policy funds.

The Bank of Japan now holds nearly half of Japan’s federal debt, a radical move that has not triggered hyperinflation as monetarist economists direly predicted. In fact, the Bank of Japan can’t get the country’s inflation rate even to its modest 2 percent target. As of August, the rate was an extremely low 0.3%. If the Fed were to follow suit and buy 50% of the U.S. government’s debt, the Treasury could swell its coffers by $11 trillion in interest-free money. And if the Fed kept rolling over the debt, Congress and the president could get this $11 trillion not only interest-free but debt-free. President Trump can’t get a better deal than that.

This article was first posted on Truthdig.com.

Obscured by Mushroom Clouds

Not all atrocities are created equal — except that all are equally atrocious.  Auschwitz, Srebrenica, Rwanda, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Memorial Day weekend, 1921, and many other scenes of modern genocide besides, are easily seen as crimes against humanity of the worst magnitude.  Yet, if you add Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the mass murderous mix in the presence of a card-carrying American exceptionalist, you are quite likely to trigger a savage burst of effluvia terribly tied to Pearl Harbor.  I exaggerate, of course — but only mildly.

In this context, a recent Microsoft News poll (July 31 to August 5, 2019), canvassing over 12,000 Americans, found that 61% of respondents believe that the WMD strikes of August, 1945 were the “right” thing to do, whereas only 20% responded that the atomic attacks were “wrong.”  What accounts for the persistence of the atomic bomb drop myth, that the nuclear option was “necessary,” in America today, 75% of a century later?  Did radioactive fallout from those manifestly genocidal nuclear attacks fundamentally damage the collective American mind?

The myth begins, innocently enough, at Pearl Harbor — except that Pearl Harbor was bristling with one of the most modern naval war armadas ever assembled, thousands of miles from the nearest American coastline.  At the time, Hawai’i was an American “territory,” and Pearl Harbor was definitely not the Alamo…

Although the story is generally not told this way, on July 26, 1941, one month after Hitler’s Nazi Germany invaded Stalin’s Soviet Russia, FDR’s administration dropped some extra-provocative sanctions on Imperial Japan;  “Not one drop of oil for Japan!” (paraphrase), was the autocratic decree from FDR’s regime.  This thinly veiled declaration of war had an effect:  the Japanese regime’s decision to attack a surprisingly sleepy Pearl Harbor, as well as other American, Dutch, and British imperial territories in the near Asian Pacific.  One “Day of Infamy” later, FDR had overcome a reluctant American Public to declare hot war on Japan.

By the Summer of 1945, the end of the American-Japanese War was a foregone conclusion.  The swift tactical success of the Japanese attacks of December, 1941, had been strategically erased by the overwhelming force of a continental empire, the United States.  All that was left was to sign some documents, except that:  in an age of special weapons with genocidal impacts, the sure-to-be victorious U.S. had recently tested an extra-special weapon that its ruling junta (now Truman-led) was all-too-eager to use against a technically belligerent population.  The war was extended to allow for not only one, but two, special weapons applications against unsuspecting and undefended cities in Japan, under the dubious pretext that there was something that looked like a war still going on.

As vast swaths of the American Population were cautiously freaking out over the gratuitous carnage their government had authorized1, the propagandists rushed in to explain that many more lives would have been wasted if “the gadget” had not been used to win a war that had already been won.  “Mass Murder Saves Lives!” remains, perhaps, the most accurate slogan for the mad ad campaign that furiously followed the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

To this day, most Americans have been educated not to see this genocide of the story that has anchored the American “Superpower” position since 1945.  We have been trained, in effect, to “love the Bomb” — as if “the Bomb” were as all-American as the apple pie you just “nuked” in your microwave oven.  To shape your own thought is a thought not taught in post-Hiroshima America; after all, there’s an armada of expert-idiots out there on the micro-airwaves to shape your own thoughts for you.  Simply “tune in” to “tune out…”

Nevertheless, there has been a terrible scare in this topical connection–and, quite recently.  In 2016, President Barack “Yes, We Can — Bail out the Banks!” Obama took a tiny giant step in an awareness direction by becoming the first — and, hopefully, not the last — sitting American president to visit Hiroshima.  Many a card-carrying American exceptionalist went ape-shit, as if Obama were about to open an investigation of the first nuclear crime scene.

In the event, the president’s Hiroshima speech fell well short of calling the atomic weapons massacres War Crimes.  Instead, Mr. Obama pointed to the sky that “death fell out of,” while also fingering the “first man” who shaped a flint or wooden tool into a blade or spear, as if he were reviewing an early scene in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: a Space Odyssey.

The sky?  A blade or spear?  Perchance to mushroom cloud?  At least Obama’s speech mentioned the “thousands of Koreans” and dozen American POWs who also perished during the Hiroshima atrocity: or, two groups of humans typically stricken from the official record of the world’s first nuclear attack.  Shouldn’t August 6 be an American national holiday in honor of those brave Americans who died at Hiroshima — except that, inconveniently enough, their own government “nuked” them to death.

George Carlin once joked, about World War 2, that the “Nazis lost, but Fascism won.”  Those two mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki not-so-pretty much punctuation mark the punch of Carlin’s joke, which is uncannily breathtaking for its brevity and wit.

Today, we are all strapped with the unasked-for-baggage of the “New and Improved” Pearl Harbor that the 9/11 event rather instantaneously became  As the increasingly militarized vehicle of American civilization rattletraps its hegemonic way down the superhighway of History, every average-to-exceptional American citizen-passenger should pay attention:  those Mushroom Clouds in the rear-view mirror are closer than they appear.

  1. Boyer, Paul.  By the Bomb’s Early Light, Pantheon Books, 1985.  Boyer’s book shows the amazing level of ambivalence that many Americans felt in the immediate aftermath of the atomic attacks.  The story we’ve been overwhelmingly force-fed since then looked very different at that time.

Bulletin For The Comfortable Class: Mass Murder Was Americana Before Trump Was Born!

The U.S. air war in Japan was one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of non-combatants in all history.

— General Bonner Fellers, MacArthur’s Intelligence Chief, from Cultures Of War: Pearl Harbour/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq by John W. Dower, 2011, pp. 195-96.

The recent anniversary of the mass murder that took place in Hiroshima, followed three days later by another mass murder in Nagasaki, would have dominated the consciousness of a nation in remorse for past horrors committed under the degenerate belief of justifiable homicide as long as its warfare. As the comment above helps make clear, these particular acts of dreadful violence were only unique in that one bomb was used for each city, instead of the thousands used to set fire to entire cities in Japan and Germany and immediately burn tens of thousands of their inhabitants to death. American ingenuity made it possible for an early and perverse form of one-stop-shopping as entire populations were slaughtered and cremated in one action, without need of camps, chambers, ovens or any other real or legendary forms of brutality.

But hardly a moment was wasted on those past horrors given that America suffered tragedies occupying national consciousness due to what we’re told are Trump inspired outbursts of racist-sexist- madness, as usual having nothing to do with the political economics of blood profit capital but all about evil individuals and special categories of “identity groups” different from all other members of the human race. Somehow, this fanatic fundamentalism still works to keep us shopping, killing and destroying the environment in pursuit of ever greater personal fortunes for some, appalling poverty for far more, and majorities sinking into unpayable debt and facing planetary doom if radical transformation of the prevailing political economics are not performed for humanity’s sake and not just the pleasure of a minority identity group we worship: the rich.

With most of the nation under the control of mass media even more powerful than it was in the days of World War II, corporate mind management has us in a state of mourning over tragedies which cost the lives of 30 innocent Americans over a period of three days. Said to be murders committed by the mentally ill or fascists inspired by the evil Trump, or both, the villains have some foaming at the mouth under around the clock bombardments of stories of the innocents, mourning by thousands and worst of all cries for vengeance against alleged fascism and/or white supremacy in a national racist mental ward counting deaths by identity group other than the human race and not noticing that most of the recent American victims were of the racist designated “white” group.

To put tragic deaths in perspective, while these poor souls were being murdered in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton, some 200 other Americans, equally innocent of anything other than possible driving errors, died in the raging road wars of our overwhelmingly private profit transit system. It kills an average of 100 of us every single day and little if anything beyond a small notice appears in local newspapers with hardly anything said about the national insanity of such suffering inflicted on innocent people no more guilty of wrong than any of the poor souls murdered by affordable gun owning citizens in a nation with more than half a million humans who cannot afford the market force to enable them to find a place to live. That damned Trump! Oh wait…maybe it’s Putin? Or perhaps Oprah, Dracula or Joe Biden?

Those who think this nation was a Garden of Eden until the dreadful Trump became president need to learn their country’s history and not just that of one or another identity group somehow experiencing history in a vacuum of suffering or wealth while tens of millions of other people simply amount to works of fiction at best and matters of intense disrespect and outright bigotry, at worst. What is going on now isn’t even slightly new and blamed on one or another set of villains it displays a pattern in operation for generations and getting worse by the minute.

Trump is as much an aspect of our system as diversity, war, sex, jazz, TV, shopping, deceit, slander, pets, propaganda and love. All that is good and bad is hidden by some calling every American social disease since our founding as something of his creation. The continued divisions of Americans into racial categories in defiance of all science let alone common sense continues the work of individualism and racism that make us such a unique historic nation able to call itself a democracy while controlled by billionaires while millions of our children live in poverty, hundreds of thousands of our families live on the street and we spend trillions on war and billions on our pet animals. Is this a great country or what? Or at least it was until the vile Trump arrived, according to some who’ve been mentally murdered by the assault on consciousness conducted for generations but never quite as vile and all encompassing as at present, with the empire sinking faster and the danger to humanity growing at an even greater speed.

The American mass murders of the second world war in Japan and Europe were closely followed by mass butchery that killed millions in southeast Asia and our savage behavior towards humanity, under command and ownership of our royal 1%, has slaughtered more in the Middle East over the last twenty years than we have sacrificed to profit making transit on our highways. This, while an upper class has expanded slightly, including what racism identifies as “people of color”, and some other groups previously trashed and treated as less worthy of life than what passed for “normal” have become acceptable members of the market hordes consuming more trash with less money. Meanwhile, our poverty and prison populations explode in this material land of over consumption for a minority that would make the originator of the term “conspicuous consumption”, Veblen, apologize for mincing his words in critique of capital.

We are told by legend and there is some material foundation for belief that in biblical times every few years there was a forgiveness of debt and it may have been easier for civilization, or what it was called then at a time long before the savage circus we call a democracy, to clearly see and react to a reality that could not go on without radical change. Of course, those poor souls didn’t have what we now are taught to call “social” media, which makes us so much smarter than those poor fools of the past that we can carry the burden of trillions in debt, the continued slaughter of human beings all over the planet including our own domicile, and rage against the latest white house pinhead in the fashion of the clients and crew of the Titanic screeching about the lousy captain as they were about to drown on a sinking ship that, like everything else then and since, would never have existed without the motive of private profit, and the public good be damned.

We may be able to elect a new CEO of Capital Inc in 2020, if we don’t destroy even more than our electoral façade and sink in our own sea of political, social and environmental excrement before being able to vote. But if we simply choose another chairperson for the system of private capital and do not demand and execute a social revolution that puts all humanity before any single un-chosen figurehead, we will face far more than personal need for therapy visits or social prayers for divine intervention. All of us or none of us was the call much earlier in our history and it has never had more meaning than at present. In closing, the words of a truly great American sadly unknown to many of us:

Democracy can become truly a rule of the people only when it is extended to the economic life of the people.

— Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, The Trial of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the American Civil Liberties Union, January 1, 1968

Long After Hiroshima

http://davidswanson.org/long-after-hiroshima/

How do we honor victims? We can remember them and appreciate who they were. But there were too many of them, and too many unknown to us. So, we can remember a sample of them, examples of them. And we can honor the living survivors, get to know and appreciate them while they are still alive.

We can remember the horrific way in which those killed were victimized, in hopes of manipulating ourselves into doing something serious about it. We can remember those who were instantly vaporized, but also those half-burnt, partially melted, those eaten out from the inside by maggots, those who died slowly in excruciating pain and in the presence of their screaming children, those who died from drinking water they knew would kill them but who were driven to it by thirst.

And then, when we are ready to take action, when we have built up a righteous anger, what is it we should do? We should not, of course, commit some new atrocity under the banner of cosmic balance. Nuking Washington D.C. or spray painting Harry Truman’s grave would not honor anyone in any way. Instead of resorting to magical means of undoing the mass killing, we have to face up to the fact that we cannot in any way whatsoever undo it. We cannot bring back those slaughtered in Japan 74 years ago. We cannot bring back any of the millions murdered in that war or any of the millions murdered in any of the wars since.

But here’s the good news. There are many things that are commonly thought of as just as impossible or more so than bringing back the dead which we most certainly can do. And they are things that I believe honor the victims in the most profound way imaginable.

The key to understanding this is that, apart from feedback loops set in motion by environmental destruction, anything — absolutely anything — created by humans can be uncreated by humans, can be replaced by something radically different by humans.

After the bombings that did not end the war, after the Soviet invasion, after the war finally did end, a system of victors’ justice was established in which war was for the first time prosecuted as a crime, but only if you’d lost it. An international system of government was created which, this time around, the United States joined, but it was a system that made the biggest war makers and weapons dealers more equal than everybody else. The veto power at the UN Security Council is not an immutable genetic or physical or mystical inheritance. It’s words on a computer screen. The International Criminal Court does not have to prosecute only Africans in the way in which an apple that detaches from a tree has to move downward, but rather in the way in which the U.S. House of Representatives had to oppose ending the Korean War until this past month when it started supporting ending the Korean War.

The same body, which I usually refer to as the House of Misrepresentatives, also this past month passed a requirement that every foreign U.S. base be justified as benefitting U.S. security. If that were to be followed through on, the U.S. would not become able to undo the injustice inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it would be compelled to cease inflicting injustice on Okinawa.

Seventy-three countries have signed and 23 ratified a new treaty banning nuclear weapons. Every country on earth except the United States has signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Most countries on earth, unlike the United States, are party to the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights optional protocols, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention Against Torture optional protocol, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, and the International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, and the Principles of International Cooperation in the Detection, Arrest, Extradition, and Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and the Land Mines Convention.

The notion that the U.S. government, misrepresenting 4% of humanity, cannot do what most of humanity’s governments do because of a nonexistent imaginary monster called “human nature” is the purest example I know — of George Orwell’s description of propaganda. He said that propaganda gives an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

Nuclear weapons are not our masters. We are their masters. We can dismantle them like duelling grounds and segregated water fountains and electric chairs and statues of Confederate generals if we choose to. But it will be difficult to do so without dismantling the institution of war. A nation like North Korea does not appear eager to give up its nukes while under threat of attack, even if that attack would use non-nuclear weapons. Yet, again, there’s good news. The institution of war can be dismantled too. And, for those who’ve been tragically misinformed that nothing new can happen, it’s worth noting that most humans who have ever lived have had nothing to do with war, and most human societies have had nothing to do with war. Those who do participate in war, even from the comfort of a joystick in a trailer in Nevada, usually suffer for it horribly. They are not driven to it by their inherent inevitable core whatchamawhootchie; they are driven to it by deprivation of a good education and prospects for a good nonviolent life.

Some countries spend $0 per year on war. The United States spends $1.25 trillion. No other country is closer to the United States than it is to $0. All other countries combined are closer to $0 than to the U.S. level of spending. We can and we must convert from militarism to environmental protection. The benefits will be economic, social, moral, environmental, and beyond our capacity to fully imagine. We can shift from hostility to generosity. One percent of the U.S. military budget could give the world clean drinking water. Three percent could end starvation worldwide. Start trying to imagine what 8% or 12% could do.

It is well documented that 95% of all suicide terrorist attacks are conducted to encourage foreign occupiers to leave the terrorist’s home country. In fact, I’m not aware of a foreign terrorist threat, attempt, or action against the United States, in which a motivation was stated, where that motivation was anything other than opposition to U.S. military imperialism. Meanwhile precisely 0% of terrorist attacks, suicide or otherwise, have been motivated by resentment of the generous giving of food, water, medicine, schools, or clean energy.

Government secrecy and suspicion and surveillance are not inevitable, and not defensible without first accepting the baseless assumptions of a culture gone mad for war. Actual democracy is possible. Governance by public vote or by representatives who have not been bought and paid for is possible. Completely altering our ridiculous beliefs in the inevitability of certain institutions is possible. Not only is it possible, but it constitutes the major events in human history. The notion that we cannot make such changes is a lie. The claim that we are powerless is a vicious lie.

Peace activist Lawrence Wittner once asked former officials from Ronald Reagan’s Administration about the Nuclear Freeze movement, and they usually claimed they’d paid no attention to it. Then one of them, Robert McFarlane spilled the beans, recounting a “massive administration campaign to counter and discredit the freeze.” When Wittner then interviewed Ed Meese, Meese claimed to know nothing, until Wittner told him what McFarlane had said. And, Wittner says, “a sheepish grin now spread across this former government official’s face, and I knew that I had caught him.” When you’re tempted to internalize the absurd notion that they aren’t paying attention to us, remember that all government is always on the verge of a sheepish grin.

We can scale back war, nuclear and otherwise, together with racism, together with extreme materialism, together with environmental destruction, together with exceptionalism, together with blind subservience to authority, together with irresponsibility toward future generations. We can create a culture of peace, a structural society of peace, a cooperative world of mutual respect and love. Whether we will do so or not is a question to be answered not by predictions but by our actions.

At World BEYOND War we are working on peace education, on mobilizing action, on divesting funds from the war machine, on closing foreign military bases — and domestic bases too. We are eager to work in partnership with anyone and everyone to advance these goals. When Joe Hill asked us to not mourn his death but to organize for the change he had worked for, he gave us advice so powerful that when we follow it, it becomes harder to think of Joe Hill as a victim. We’re almost forced to think of him as an ally. Perhaps if we imagine the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki asking us to not mourn but organize we can after all achieve the impossible, we can undo their victimization and honor them as our brothers and sisters in struggle.

Perhaps we can imagine Shelley speaking to the nuclear victims, saying Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number, Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you – Ye are many – they are few.

The Japan-Korea Semiconductor Flap

South Korean companies (Samsung and SK Hynix) produce about 17% of the world’s semiconductors. To manufacture these, they’re dependent on imports of Japanese hydrogen fluoride gas, fluorinated polyimide, and photoresists. Japanese firms control 90% of the polyimide market needed for screen applications, so the relationship between these neighboring prosperous northeast Asian countries is crucial to the operation of global communications.

Japan has begun restricting exports of these products to South Korea, in response to a South Korean Supreme Court decision in 2018 requiring Japanese firms to compensate involuntary Korean labor during the colonial period (1910-45). President Moon Jae-in is not responsible for the court decision but his nationalist Democratic Party supports it.

This is a big story, largely eclipsed by Trump-related stories in the U.S. media. It involves the 3rd and 11th largest economies in the world, and the countries which host the first and third largest number of U.S. troops abroad (56,000 in Japan, 25,000 in Korea; compare 35,000 Germany). The United States, Japan and South Korea are linked by a military alliance directed against North Korea, China, and Russia. They hold joint military operations regularly. These operations are threatened by this flap.

Tokyo points out that the 1965 treaty between the two countries settled any Korean outstanding claims for reparations—about $800 million at the time. Tokyo refuses to pay more, lest a precedent be set, and China also be prompted to make demands not already resolved in 1972. Tokyo has called for international arbitration in the wake of the court decision, but Seoul has refused. In response to the court ruling, which particularly targets Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Tokyo has removed South Korea from its “white list” of 27 countries that receive expedited treatment in trade transactions. (There is no direct causal relationship, but it’s understood Japan wants to punish Seoul for the annoying court decision.)

This means that there will be months-long delays involving paperwork, and deliveries of the above-mentioned commodities from Japan to South Korea will not be guaranteed. Stock values in alternative microchip providers in the U.S.(Intel)  and Taiwan (Taiwan Semiconductor) has soared. Largely ignored by the western press, this is a serious trade conflict occurring while Korean nationalism on both sides of the DMZ is at an all-time high, along with sympathy for reunification.

Meanwhile Japanese public opinion is disturbingly anti-Korean. 56% of those polled say the economic retaliation to the court decision was appropriate. The Koreans are depicted as unreasonable, unable to accept multiple sincere, even abject apologies from Japanese prime ministers and emperors for the legacy of Japanese colonialism, insistent on focusing on the past, insatiable in their demands for Japanese compensation. They are just anti-Japanese. Shigataganai. It can’t be helped. (Such sentiments reflect the widespread ignorance, hence insensitivity, in Japan, regarding the painful impact of Japanese colonialism on Korea between 1910 and 1945.)

Trump’s threat to annihilate North Korea (and hence the entire peninsula) caused the two Korean leaders Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in to meet and sign a series of agreements lowering tensions on the peninsula. South Koreans were the intermediaries in preparing the Trump-Kim summits. The best way for the Koreans to obtain the “spiritual victory” over Japan they have proclaimed over the current standoff, is to reunify, withdraw from the tripartite military pact with the U.S. and Japan, and expel the 30,000 U.S. troops.

The threat to the South Korean economy posed by Japanese actions could impede Moon’s Korean reconciliation policy; if Moon falls, the plans for railway links and renewed trade ties could suffer. Or Japanese hostility could encourage Korean unity. Seoul and Pyongyang will always unite in condemning Japan.

One missing element in the evolving crisis is U.S. involvement. The State Department is understaffed, Trump ignorant and indifferent. John Bolton was dispatched to Seoul, not to discuss the Japan-Korea crisis, but to demand that South Korea pay more to support U.S. forces. Washington seems inclined to leave the quarrel alone, which means to encourage Abe Shinzo—the strongest, most durable prime minister ever—in his nationalist militarism, and Moon in his nationalist opportunism rooted in domestic politics.

Trump’s staff claims Moon Jae-in has requested Trump to mediate the dispute. But (aside from being an ignorant buffoon) Trump is not the sort to sympathize with the victims in any historical relationship, or show any sympathies for the subjects of colonialism. After his first meeting with Xi Jinping he declared that he’d learned Korea had once been part of China, a profoundly inaccurate and offensive statement.

Moon is likely to suffer some humiliation as Japan sticks to its guns and Seoul receives little support for its legal claims. Seoul will have to back down to maintain Samsung’s profitability. And if lack of any U.S. support inclines the South Koreans to distance themselves from their patrons, the better to cozy up with the north, well and good!

The point is not more Japanese reparations but the repair of the divided peninsula. There’s no way Mitsubishi’s going to compensate any survivors of wartime slave labor. There’s no point in Korean nationalists demanding endless apologies and concessions from the former colonial power. Japan is not the power preventing Korean reunification. Only the U.S. can do that.

Kim Jung-un’s acquisition of nuclear weapons has forced the U.S. to negotiate with North Korea, and facilitated a series of positive exchanges with the south. A Confederation of Goryeo (on the model of one country, two systems) realistically beckons. There is a Silicon Valley waiting somewhere in the lap of Mt. Paekchong.

Demanding more Japanese reparations at this time is to change the subject, distracting attention from the prospect at hand: Korean  reunification and the expulsion of the occupiers.