Category Archives: Militarism

 U.S. Cold War China Policy will isolate the U.S. not China

CODEPINK (Credit)

Tensions between the United States and China are rising as the U.S. election nears, with tit-for-tat consulate closures, new U.S. sanctions and no less than three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups prowling the seas around China. But it is the United States that has initiated each new escalation in U.S.-China relations. China’s responses have been careful and proportionate, with Chinese officials such as Foreign Minister Wang Yi publicly asking the U.S. to step back from its brinkmanship to find common ground for diplomacy.

Most of the U.S. complaints about China are long-standing, from the treatment of the Uighur minority and disputes over islands and maritime borders in the South China Sea to accusations of unfair trade practices and support for protests in Hong Kong. But the answer to the “Why now?” question seems obvious: the approaching U.S. election.

Danny Russel, who was Obama’s top East Asia expert in the National Security Council and then at the State Department, told the BBC that the new tensions with China are partly an effort to divert attention from Trump’s bungled response to the Covid-19 pandemic and his tanking poll numbers, and that this “has a wag the dog feel to it.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has been going toe-to-toe with Trump and Secretary Pompeo in a potentially dangerous “tough on China” contest, which could prove difficult for the winner to walk back after the election.

Elections aside, there are two underlying forces at play in the current escalation of tensions, one economic and the other military. China’s economic miracle has lifted hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty, and, until recently, Western corporations were glad to make the most of its huge pool of cheap labor, weak workplace and environmental protections, and growing consumer market. Western leaders welcomed China into their club of wealthy, powerful countries with little fuss about human and civil rights or China’s domestic politics.

So what has changed? U.S.high-tech companies like Apple, which were once only too glad to outsource American jobs and train Chinese contractors and engineers to manufacture their products, are finally confronting the reality that they have not just outsourced jobs, but also skills and technology. Chinese companies and highly skilled workers are now leading some of the world’s latest technological advances.

The global rollout of 5G cellular technology has become a flashpoint, not because the increase and higher frequency of EMF radiation it involves may be dangerous to human health, which is a real concern, but because Chinese firms like Huawei and ZTE have developed and patented much of the critical infrastructure involved, leaving Silicon Valley in the unfamiliar position of having to play catch-up.

Also, if the U.S.’s 5G infrastructure is built by Huawei and ZTE instead of AT&T and Verizon, the U.S. government will no longer be able to require “back doors” that the NSA can use to spy on us all, so it is instead stoking fears that China could insert its own back doors in Chinese equipment to spy on us instead. Left out of the discussion is the real solution: repeal the Patriot Act and make sure that all the technology we use in our daily lives is secure from the prying eyes of both the U.S. and foreign governments.

China is investing in infrastructure all over the world. As of March 2020, a staggering 138 countries have joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive plan to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks. China’s international influence will only be enhanced by its success, and the U.S.’s failure, in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the military front, the Obama and Trump administrations have both tried to “pivot to Asia” to confront China, even as the U.S. military remains bogged down in the Middle East.  With a war-weary public demanding an end to the endless wars that have served to justify record military spending for nearly 20 years, the U.S. military-industrial complex has to find more substantial enemies to justify its continued existence and budget-busting costs. Lockheed Martin is not ready to switch from building billion-dollar warplanes on cost-plus contracts to making wind turbines and solar panels.

The only targets the U.S. can find to justify a $740-billion military budget and 800 overseas military bases are its familiar old Cold War enemies: Russia and China. They both expanded their modest military budgets after 2011, when the U.S. and its allies hi-jacked the Arab Spring to launch covert and proxy wars in Libya, where China had substantial oil interests, and Syria, a long-term Russian ally. But their increases in military spending were only relative. In 2019, China’s military budget was only $261 billion compared to the U.S.’s $732 billion, according to SIPRI. The U.S. still spends more on its military than the ten next largest military powers combined, including Russia and China.

Russian and Chinese military forces are almost entirely defensive, with an emphasis on advanced and effective anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems. Neither Russia nor China has invested in carrier strike groups to sail the seven seas or U.S.-style expeditionary forces to attack or invade countries on the other side of the planet. But they do have the forces and weapons they need to defend themselves and their people from any U.S. attack and both are nuclear powers, making a major war against either of them a more serious prospect than the U.S. military has faced anywhere since the Second World War.

China and Russia are both deadly serious about defending themselves, but we should not misinterpret that as enthusiasm for a new arms race or a sign of aggressive intentions on their part. It is U.S. imperialism and militarism that are driving the escalating tensions. The sad truth is that 30 years after the supposed end of the Cold War, the U.S. military-industrial complex has failed to reimagine itself in anything but Cold War terms, and its “New” Cold War is just a revival of the old Cold War that it spent the last three decades telling us it already won.

“China Is Not an Enemy”

The U.S. and China do not have to be enemies. Just a year ago, a hundred U.S. business, political and military leaders signed a public letter to President Trump in the Washington Post entitled “China Is Not an Enemy.” They wrote that China is not “an economic enemy or an existential national security threat,” and U.S opposition “will not prevent the continued expansion of the Chinese economy, a greater global market share for Chinese companies and an increase in China’s role in world affairs.”

They concluded that, “U.S. efforts to treat China as an enemy and decouple it from the global economy will damage the United States’ international role and reputation and undermine the economic interests of all nations,” and that the U.S. “could end up isolating itself rather than Beijing.”

That is precisely what is happening. Governments all over the world are collaborating with China to stop the spread of coronavirus and share the solutions with all who need them. The U.S. must stop pursuing its counterproductive effort to undermine China, and instead work with all our neighbors on this small planet. Only by cooperating with other nations and international organizations can we stop the pandemic—and address the coronavirus-sparked economic meltdown gripping the world economy and the many challenges we must all face together if we are to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

Human Rights Defenders: Palestinian Eyewitness Testimony of the Execution of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif by Israeli Soldier, Elor Azaria

As illegal Jewish settlers increase their attacks on Palestinian civilians in the occupied city of Al Khalil (Hebron), the people of the Palestinian city continue to mount a campaign of popular resistance.

One of the channels of resistance is Human Rights Defenders, “a grass-roots, non-partisan Palestinian organization, working to support nonviolent popular resistance through popular direct action and documentation of human rights violations committed by the Occupation.”

To understand the situation in Hebron better, I spoke to Badee Dwaik, head of ‘Human Rights Defenders’, Raghad Neiroukh, a journalist, and Flora Thomas, a British solidarity activist.

The conversation included another member of HRD, Imad Abu Shamsiyah, the courageous activist who filmed the murder of a Palestinian young man, Abdul Fattah al-Sharif.

On March 24, 2016, Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, killed al-Sharif in cold blood in Hebron. The Israeli army later claimed that al-Sharif, and another Palestinian, tried to stab an Israeli soldier.

The murder was rightly dubbed ‘extrajudicial execution’ by human rights organizations. Under international pressure, Israel tried Azaria in court, sentencing him to eighteen months’ imprisonment, but eventually released him fourteen months later, to be received as a hero by many Israeli politicians, his family and ordinary people.

I asked Abu Shamsiyah about the events that took place on that day, when he had personally witnessed and filmed the execution of the Palestinian young man.

“It was about 8 o’clock in the morning and I was having coffee with my wife. I heard the sound of shooting outside, very close to my house,” Abu Shamsiyah began.

“I immediately went out to see what was going on, and my wife followed me. She brought the camera with her.

“I found out that a person was lying in the street. He was wearing a black t-shirt and trousers.”

“I saw that there was also another person on the ground. I moved my camera to capture him on film and noticed that he was bleeding from his face.”

“I observed a few Israeli soldiers approaching one of the people on the ground; they were very close to me.”

“I realized that Abdul Fattah al-Sharif was a Palestinian only when I saw an Israeli soldier kicking him.”

“When the Israeli soldier kicked him, al-Sharif moved both of his legs and his hands; and I captured this with my camera.”

“At that moment, my wife started shouting, saying: ‘Haram, haram,’ and tried to help the wounded young man.”

“When the soldiers heard her screams, they noticed our presence in the street. So they forced us to leave the street; they chased us away.”

“I went home but I began to think of another way to continue filming. I climbed on to the roof of a neighbor’s house and resumed filming the execution.”

“I saw an Israeli ambulance arriving in the area, but it didn’t go towards al-Sharif; instead, it went towards the other person who was still lying on the ground. Only then, I realized that the other person was, in fact, an Israeli soldier.”

“So I zoomed in the camera to capture a better image of the soldier, who (looked as if) slightly injured. The ambulance gave him first aid and treated him, while they denied any treatment to al-Sharif and the other wounded Palestinian.”

“They carried the Israeli soldier into the ambulance; I zoomed in again, and he was already standing; as I said before, he was (clearly) only slightly injured.”

“The ambulance began to turn around to leave the area. It was then that I heard the sound of one of the soldiers loading his gun. He got closer and closer to where al-Sharif was (still lying down). When he was about one meter away, he pointed the gun at al-Sharif’s head.”

“Al-Sharif did not pose any threat to the soldier, whose name was revealed later in the media to be Elor Azaria. It was Azaria who shot the wounded Palestinian in the head.”

“I was still filming, and one of the Jewish settlers, who noticed me, told the soldiers about me. One of the soldiers turned towards me and ordered me to leave the area, but I was already leaving because I had filmed the entire scene.”

“I immediately went to the ‘Human Rights Defenders’, where I uploaded the video and many people watched it.”

“Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians in cold blood, while accusing Palestinians of trying to stab soldiers.”

Following the incident and, throughout Azaria’s trial, Abu Shamsiyah and his family experienced much harassment by the Israeli army for revealing the truth that Israel wishes to keep hidden: the brutality of its soldiers, and the intrinsic relationship between the occupation army and the illegal Jewish settlers.

Speaking to Abu Shamsiyah four years after the tragic death of al-Sharif, the Palestinian activist remains steadfast in his belief that the ongoing Israeli human rights violations must be exposed. His voice conveys determination, not hesitation nor fear.

‘Human Rights Defenders’, like many other Palestinian groups, continues to channel and guide the popular resistance of the Palestinian people in Hebron and many towns and villages across Palestine. They are a testament to the resolve of Palestinian society – brave, steadfast and unbroken.

Yemen: A Torrent of Suffering in a Time of Siege

When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out “stop!”  When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable, the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.

— Bertolt Brecht, “When evil-doing comes like falling rain” [Wenn die Untat kommt, wie der Regen fällt] (1935), trans. John Willett in Poems, 1913-1956, p. 247

 In war-torn Yemen, the crimes pile up. Children who bear no responsibility for governance or warfare endure the punishment. In 2018, UNICEF said the war made Yemen a living hell for children. By the year’s end, Save the Children reported 85,000 children under age five had already died from starvation since the war escalated in 2015. By the end of 2020, it is expected that 23,500 children with severe acute malnutrition will be at immediate risk of death.

Cataclysmic conditions afflict Yemen as people try to cope with rampant diseases, the spread of COVID-19, flooding, literal swarms of locusts, rising displacement, destroyed infrastructure and a collapsed economy. Yet war rages, bombs continue to fall, and desperation fuels more crimes.

The highest-paying jobs available to many Yemeni men and boys require a willingness to kill and maim one another, by joining militias or armed groups which seemingly never run out of weapons. Nor does the Saudi-Led Coalition  which kills and maims civilians; instead, it deters relief shipments and destroys crucial infrastructure with weapons it imports from Western countries.

The aerial attacks displace traumatized survivors into swelling, often lethal, refugee camps. Amid the wreckage of factories, fisheries, roads, sewage and sanitation facilities, schools and hospitals, Yemenis search in vain for employment and, increasingly, for food and water. The Saudi-Led-Coalition’s blockade, also enabled by Western training and weapons, makes it impossible for Yemenis to restore a functioning economy.

Even foreign aid can become punitive. In March, 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) decided to suspend most aid for Yemenis living in areas controlled by the Houthis.

Scott Paul, who leads Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy advocacy, strongly criticized this callous decision to compound the misery imposed on vulnerable people in Yemen. “In future years,” he wrote, “scholars will study USAID’s suspension as a paradigmatic example of a donor’s exploitation and misuse of humanitarian principles.”

As the evil-doing in Yemen comes “like falling rain,” so do the cries of “Stop!” from millions of people all over the world. Here’s some of what’s been happening:

  • U.S. legislators in both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to block the sale of billions of dollars in weapons and maintenance to Saudi Arabia and its allies. But President Trump vetoed the bill in 2019.
  • Canada’s legislators declared a moratorium on weapon sales to the Saudis. But the Canadian government has resumed selling weapons to the Saudis, claiming the moratorium only pertained to the creation of new contracts, not existing ones.
  • The United Kingdom suspended military sales to Saudi Arabia because of human rights violations, but the UK’s international trade secretary nevertheless resumed weapon sales saying the 516 charges of Saudi human rights violations are all isolated incidents and don’t present a pattern of abuse.
  • French NGOs and human rights advocates urged their government to scale back on weapon sales to the Saudi-Led coalition, but reports on 2019 weapon sales revealed the French government sold 1.4 billion Euros worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
  • British campaigners opposing weapon transfers to the Saudi-Led Coalition have exposed how the British Navy gave the Saudi Navy training in tactics essential to the devastating Yemen blockade.
  • In Canada, Spain, France and Italy, laborers opposed to the ongoing war refused to load weapons onto ships sailing to Saudi Arabia. Rights groups track the passage of trains and ships carrying these weapons.

On top of all this, reports produced by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and the International Commission of the Red Cross repeatedly expose the Saudi-Led Coalition’s human rights violations.

Yet this international outcry clamoring for an end to the war is still being drowned out by the voices of military contractors with well-paid lobbyists plying powerful elites in Western governments. Their concern is simply for the profits to be reaped and the competitive sales to be scored.

In 2019 Lockheed Martin’s total sales reached nearly 60 billion dollars, the best year on record for the world’s largest “defense” contractor. Before stepping down as CEO, Marillyn Hewson predicted demand from the Pentagon and U.S. allies would generate an uptake between $6.2 billion and $6.4 billion in net earnings for the company in 2020 sales.

Hewson’s words, spoken calmly, drown out the cries of Yemeni children whose bodies were torn apart by just one of Lockheed Martin’s bombs.

In August of 2018, bombs manufactured by Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin fell on Yemen like summer rain. On August 9, 2018, a missile blasted a school bus in Yemen, killing forty children and injuring many others.

Photos showed badly injured children still carrying UNICEF blue backpacks, given to them that morning as gifts. Other photos showed surviving children helping prepare graves for their schoolmates. One  photo showed a piece of the bomb protruding from the wreckage with the number MK82 clearly stamped on it. That number on the shrapnel helped identify Lockheed Martin as the manufacturer.

The psychological damage being inflicted on these children is incalculable. “My son is really hurt from the inside,” said a parent whose child was severely wounded by the bombing. “We try to talk to him to feel better and we can’t stop ourselves from crying.”

The cries against war in Yemen also fall like rain and whatever thunder accompanies the rain is distant, summer thunder. Yet, if we cooperate with war-making elites, the most horrible storms will be unleashed. We must learn — and quickly — to make a torrent of our mingled cries and, as the prophet Amos demanded, ‘let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Some of the 40 blue backpacks worn in a protest in New York city against the war in Yemen. Each backpack was accompanied by a sign with the name and age of a child killed on a school bus in Dahyan, northern Yemen, on August 9, 2018, in a Saudi/UAE airstrike. (Photo: CODEPINK)

A version of this article first appeared in The Progressive Magazine.

The Bonus Army Protest


July 28 will mark almost the 90th anniversary of one of most controversial protests in U.S. history and yet it remains virtually unknown to most Americans. On that day, in 1932, 500 U.S. army infantrymen with loaded rifles, fixed bayonets and gas grenades containing a vomit inducing ingredient, 200  calvary, a machine gun squadron, 800 police and 6 M1917 army tanks, prepared to attack 17,000 unarmed men, plus thousands of their wives and children. Moments before the assault, Gen.Douglas  MacArthur, in charge of the operation, turned to a police official standing next to him and said, “I will break the back of the enemy.”

Photo credit:  Historynet.com

The attack was ordered by President Herbert Hoover and commanded by Gen. MacArthur.  Dwight D. Eisenhower was MacArthur’s aide and Major George S. Patton led the tank unit.  After donning gas masks, the army tossed hundreds of tear-gas grenades into the encampment which started raging fires and the assault drove all the bedraggled occupants from the area. The encampment was then burned to the ground.

This wasn’t  Cuba, the Philippines or the Mexican border — but in Washington, D.C. The camp, nicknamed “Hooverville,” occupied by WWI veterans who were living in tents and shanties others living in crumbling government buildings along Pennsylvania Avenue near the capital. If your education was anything like mine, there wasn’t any mention of this event in any history class.

Some 4 million vets had returned from the war and found that others had taken their jobs at a considerably higher wage than the $1 per day soldier’s pay and expected more help from their government.  Presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge each firmly opposed making any payments to the mostly unemployed vets, with Coolidge stating that “Patriotism, bought and paid for, is not patriotism.” In 1924, Congress kicked the can down the road by promising a bonus payment of $1.25 for each day of overseas service and $1.00 for every day of home service. There would be a limit of $625 for overseas service and $500 for home service.  But Catch-22 was that it could not be redeemed until 1945. The vets quickly dubbed it the “Tombstone Bonus” because many of them would be dead before collecting.

With the Great Depression deepening, demands for making an immediate payment were escalating. Finally, a bill was passed but President Hoover vetoed it. In response, some 300 veterans, led by ex-sergeant Walter Waters boarded a freight train in Portland, Oregon in early May, 1932, and  headed for Washington, DC. Soon, others began their pilgrimage to the Capital from across the country in dilapidated buses, overcrowded pick-up trucks, walking and hitchhiking.   The vets and their families were in desperate financial shape with overdue bills to pay, hungry and with evictions hanging over their heads. They demanded immediate payment of the bonus.

Calling themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Forces (BEF) and soon known as the “Bonus Army,” between 17,000 and 25,000 trekkers began arriving on May 23, 1932 . Assuming their demands wouldn’t be met  any time soon, they proceeded to set up a long term presence. In orderly fashion, they mapped out streets named for states, set up a library, the “B.E.F. Post Office, barbershop, military-style sanitation, appointed M.P.s to keep order, published their own camp newspaper and even organized evening vaudeville shows.  Some ten thousand other vets occupied partially-demolished government buildings on a stretch between the Capitol and the White House. Extremely patriotic, the vets insisted that an American flag fly over every tent and shanty.

Further,  as Roy Wilkins, then a young reporter with a press pass, wrote, “There was only one absentee in the camp: James Crow.”1 The entire, massive undertaking was one in which Blacks and whites shared everything together. During WWI, the military was still segregated as was Anacostia Park when the marchers arrived. The vets who had fought a war together deliberately  decided to live side-by-side and set up in the “black” section of the park. This fact alone may have led some people to fear the movement. General MacArthur’s “most trusted subordinate” Brig. Gen. George Van Horn Moseley portrayed black and white veterans living together as “proof that Negros  and Jewish Communists were planning a revolution.” In truth, radicals and communists were dismissed by the BEF and were never a serious element in the movement.2

As noted American historian Howard Zinn wrote, “In the 1930s, America was in a state of near-revolution, something that very much worried the people in Washington.”3  The  vets were labeled “Red Agitators” and Gen. MacArthur declared that the marchers were “… traitors bent on overthrowing the government — pacifists and its bedfellow communism are all around us.” The Army’s Military Intelligence Division thought that Communists were deeply involved in the efforts and J. Edgar Hoover, the new FBI director, was intent on proving that the Bonus Army was inspired by reds. Fitting then, that in instructing his troops on the possible use of force during the assault, Maj. Patton advised that “Large numbers of casualties will become an object lesson.”

Historians agree that 1932 was “cruelest year” of the Great Depression and on June 25, 1932 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a compensation bill but it was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 62-18. By July, General MacArther and Secretary of War, Patrick Hurley were anticipating violence, not just in the Capital but especially in the slums of dozens of major cities. Over the preceding two months, MacArthur had been secretly training special army units in “riot control.” Interestingly, the Marine Corps was not involved in these activities and in an Army intelligence report, not declassified until 1991, we learned  that it was feared the Marines were unreliable because they might side with the Bonus marchers. Apropos to this concern, Marine Corps Gen. Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine in the history of the Marine Corps, had visited the encampment and told the vets:

I never saw such Americana as is exhibited  by you people. You have just as much right to have a lobby here as any steel corporation. Makes me so damn mad, a whole lot  of people speak of you as tramps. By God, they didn’t speak of you as tramps in 1917 and ‘18.4

In November, Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president. Although he also opposed the bonus, after the assault he said, “This will elect me.”

It’s interesting to speculate what might have occurred had the Bonus Army still been there after FDR’s inauguration. Wouldn’t any president have acted in similar fashion to Hoover?

In 1933, FDR sliced $480 million from veterans’ benefits including reducing  disability payments by 25 percent (20 percent of the marchers were disabled) “to balance the budget.”  In 1936, the legislature passed another bonus bill but again FDR vetoed it, arguing it wouldn’t be “fiscally prudent.” Convinced that his New Deal efforts had saved capitalism from socialism, Roosevelt returned to being a conventional politician advocating for balanced budgets.5 This time, both the Senate (76-19) and the House (324-61) overrode his veto and the vets received $583 on average.  Some jobs went their way under the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps and 700 worked in so-called “Veterans’ Rehabilitation Camps” in Florida. In the end, some 45,000 BEF members had passed through Washington before scattering across the country to join millions of others during the depths of the Great Depression.

I’m not an historian but one lesson that occurs to me is that this episode, which has been relegated to the dustbin of U.S. history, is the critical role of mass protest in achieving even a modicum of justice. For example, the Bonus Army’s march and its aftermath was a major factor contributing to the passage of the G.I. Bill — something else omitted from my history textbooks.  With millions of vets returning from WWII, politicians could not be unmindful of what occurred in 1932.  Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen, two eminent scholars on the era, remind us of the primary motive behind the eventual passage of the bill:

Beneath all of this was the very real fear the nation would pay for lack of a comprehensive plan to help veterans by facing a much larger and more hostile  version of the Bonus Army.  Representative Hamilton Fish Jr., now a political foe of Roosevelt, agreed that veterans could not come home and sell apples as they did after the last war, because if that is all they are offered, I believe we would have chaotic and revolutionary conditions in America.6

Experts working for the American Legion, not the Congress, drafted a rough version of what eventually became law.   Opponents included leaders  of elite colleges who feared that working class men and women would lower the educational standards of their institutions. Robert Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, predicted that American colleges and universities “will find themselves converted into educational hobo jungles.” Southern politicians were dismayed that millions of Black vets would be given $20 per week, thus undermining the wage system in the Deep South.

The Senate passed the bill 50-0 and it passed the House, 387-0 because the $20 per week provision was stripped from the original version. After more intense wrangling which cast doubt on the bill being passed at all, the powerful American Legion Lobby brought intense pressure on opponents. Finally, FDR set aside his opposition to “special privileges”  for vets and signed  the G.I. Bill on June 22, 1944 — with the $20 per week wage intact. Some 12 million vets took advantage of it. (Note: My father was one of them).

It’s no wonder that Dr. Martin Luther King and his advisers studied the Bonus Army’s tactics for inspiration in preparing their own multiracial Poor People’s Campaign events in Washington, D.C. during the Spring of 1968, just weeks after King’s assassination.  Another important lesson from the Bonus Army marchers was: “if you have a grievance, take it to Washington, and if you want to be heard, take a lot of people with you.”7

Finally, today we have a confluence of factors, including the capitalist state’s failure to protect its citizens from the Covid pandemic, looming fiscal austerity in the face of another Great Depression and newly transparent institutional racism, has provided an unparalleled opportunity to replicate the Bonus Army’s action in the nation’s capital, this time on a hitherto unprecedented scale, depth, and breath of demands.

• (Thanks to Kathleen Kelly, my in-house editor, for her helpful comments)

  1. Alan Spears, quoted in Nicolas Brulliant, The Forgotten March, The National Parks Conservation Association (Fall, 2018), p.7.
  2. Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen, The Bonus Army: An American Epic (New York: Walker and Company, 2004), p. 7. For those interested in further reading, Dickson and Allen’s meticulously researched account is the best source.
  3. Howard Zinn, “Howard Zinn: How FDR Forestalled a Second American Revolution,” Interviews with Ray Suarez in 2007, first published as, Howard Zinn with Ray Suarez, Truth Has a Power of Its Own: Conversations About a People’s History (New York: The New Press, 2019).  Mickey Z, “The Bonus Army,” 50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed to Know (New York: Disinformation Books, 2005).
  4. The Bonus Army: How a Protest Led to the G.I. Bill, “All Things Considered,” NPR, November 11, 2011. The following year, Gen. Butler gave a speech about his military service, saying “I spent most of my time being a high class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”
  5. For more, see, Gary Olson, “Was It Only Fear Itself?: FDR and Today,” Common Dreams, June 19, 2020.
  6. Dickson and Allen, p. 269.
  7. Ibid., p. 277.

The Statue of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Milwaukee’s Veteran’s Park

There is a statue of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Milwaukee, in Veteran’s Park next to the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. It is a replica of the one at West Point.

The general stands there arms akimbo, in that memorable pose he assumed next to the diminutive defeated emperor of Japan in the famous photo soon after Japan’s surrender in Aug. 1945. (In it, Hirohito stood in rigid submission, hands at his side, in a formal suit; MacArthur towered above him, in informal dress, hands on his hips.) It was on the front pages of newspapers in Japan Sept 28, a statement of total U.S. domination. That’s the moment captured there.

As you perhaps know, MacArthur was born in Arkansas in 1880 son of Army captain Andrew MacArthur (1845-1912) who had fought in one of the “Indian Wars” against Geronimo before becoming U.S. military governor of the Philippines 1990-1. His career spans the genocidal efforts of the burgeoning U.S. state from the southwest of North America to Luzon and Mindanao.

In other words, Douglas was the son of someone obviously complicit in the slaughter of native people in this country and also in Filipino genocide. But let not the sin of the father be visited on the son! The guy on the pedestal himself embodies enough evil in his own bronze image.

Douglas MacArthur lived after the Indian Wars but was a general during the First World War leading troops in Eupoe in a meaningless fratricidal war. When unpaid U.S. veterans of that inter-imperialist war protested in Washington D.S. against their treatment, and non-payment of pensions, he led the charge against them–literally–in 1932.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor MacArthur was a major general, commander of US Armed Forces in the Far East, in the Philippines. He led the Pacific War effort, through Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Then he headed the U.S. Occupation of Japan (1945-1952) for a time, as it dismantled the fascist state apparatus. But then he moved to crush the Japanese Left after 1947. MacArthur threatened Communist labor leaders with death if they went ahead with planned mass strikes. He urged Christian mission societies in the U.S. to “send Bibles, Bibles and more Bibles” for the Japanese as he contemplated shutting down Shinto once and for all. He told U.S. troops to treat Japanese women as children.

After war broke out on the Korean Peninsula, MacArthur headed the U.S. forces that slaughtered millions of Koreans and Chinese in one of those many American wars based on lies. So bloodthirsty was MacArthur that President Truman (who had ordered the frying of Japanese by nuclear blasts) found impelled to order him home in 1951 due to his urging of a nuclear attack on China. Imbeciles in the Congress lionized him as he gave a speech to them in April, declaring famously: “I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.”

MacArthur should NOT fade away from our consciousness. On the contrary I’d hope everybody passing by that statue thinks about what it represents–a heritage of the Indian Wars, the suppression of the “Philippines Insurrection,” the racism of the Pacific War and Korean War, the legacy of butt-headed anticommunism–and wonders, “Should this be here?”

Was the Korean War–fought by U.S. troops to prevent the reunification of Korea after the Japanese defeat, and preserve the foothold that continues today, when 25,000 U.S. are stationed in the south–something to celebrate? In my opinion (not that we need compare) there’s more on his record to damn him than in Andrew Jackson’s “Trail of Tears.” MacArthur was an arch-imperialist. His statues anywhere are an affront to multiple communities. They too should fall as people in this country confront the past.

U.S.-Backed Saudi Bombing in Yemen Continues as Coronavirus Spreads

As the coronavirus spreads in Yemen, where the population already devastated by the world’s worst humanitarian crisis faces growing hunger and aid shortages, the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition continues to drop bombs in the country. We speak to Yemeni scholar Shireen Al-Adeimi, who calls the ongoing crisis “Trump’s war.” “We’re seeing death rates that are just astronomical,” Al-Adeimi says. “The war continues, the bombing continues, the blockade is still enforced.”

Vulgar Militarism: Expanding the Australian War Memorial

It was a decision both rash and indulgent.  In November 2018, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, after being nudged incessantly by then Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson, committed to a redevelopment project intended to double the exhibition space in Campbell.  The amount for the project would be just shy of a half-billion dollars and would be, Nelson claimed with eye-brow raising plausibility, an exercise of therapy for veterans and their families “coming to terms with what they’ve done for us and the impact [war] has had on them.”

Voices in opposition grew, many not exactly fitting the description of pinko defeatist types.  Former Department of Defence secretary Paul Barrett, author Thomas Keneally and eighty-one others appended their signatures to an open letter claiming that the Memorial was “being given preference over other national institutions, and the money could be better spent.”  Nelson’s aims of giving more prominence to supposedly “forgotten” conflicts while fostering a program of healing veterans were questionable aims: the former had to be seen in terms of proportionality and perspective; the latter was the purview of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs.  $350 million had already been disgorged on the occasion of the Anzac Centenary and the Sir John Monash Centre in France.  “Should further money be spent on these extensions rather than on other needy cultural institutions or direct benefits to veterans and their families?”

On one level, the Memorial expansion project was merely typical of the sorts of fripperies wars encourage.  Commemorations and building programs reflecting on the effects of war often have the unintended effect of glorifying the very thing they are meant to eschew.  To the victor go the spoils and the celebrations.  Besides, good narratives to justify killing or being killed are always needed.

Australians generally do not regard themselves as warlike, yet their leaders have deployed them in every major conflict since the late nineteenth century.  Such decisions have often been as emotive as they have been strategic, the former often taking precedence over the latter.  A survey of these engagements reveal the shedding of blood across virtually every continent on the planet.  Be it Britannia or the US imperium, Australian soldiers will do the bidding of others, and happily so.  Resentment, much as that shown to the Australian War Memorial redevelopment, will be dismissed as the ranting of “special interest groups”, traitors or closet fifth columnists.

Before the Parliamentary standing committee on public works on July 14, the egg heads were particularly testy, with the testiness taking various forms.  Former memorial directors Brendon Kelson and Major General Steve Gower both felt slighted at having been left off the drinks list.  That did not stop Kelson from making the point that the expansion was distinctly vulgar.  “The Australian War Memorial is a poignant tribute to those who died on, or as a result of, active service in the nation’s wars.”  The AWM was “dedicated to their commemoration and a place to pause and reflect on the costs of war, a national icon, unique among the world’s great monuments.”

It did not take long for the narrative of the coronavirus to find its way into the hearings.  It seeps, cloys and will out.  Former AWM principal historian Peter Stanley found Nelson’s argument on expanding the memorial in the name of healing as almost laughable, “the museum equivalent … of hydroxychloroquine.” There had been “no demonstrable therapeutic benefit in traumatised veterans visiting a display of their former weapons vehicles or aircraft”.  Such an argument supplied a “meretricious” attraction, but was unsustainable given the findings of clinical studies.

The medical opposition was also shored up by Margaret Beavis, secretary of the Medical Association for Prevention of War.  The literature on veterans’ mental illness had “no reference to memorial-based therapy”.  The notion of such healing derived “from wishful thinking” and untested anecdotes.

Architect and town planner Roger Pegrum had concerns about the way the expansion was going to be implemented in terms of structural and symbolic integrity.  The character of the building would be affected by the bombastic nature of the project. The memorial was merely meant to be a “simple statement of sacrifice and valour” intended to house small objects to best understand why Australians served in conflict.  “If built as drawn, it is an irreversible and complete change to the memorial”.

The current AWM director Matt Anderson tried to buck the trend in the specialist literature on trauma and healing using a technique politicians are often receptive to:  the scientifically untested anecdote.  He had been “told by veterans and their clinicians” that such acts as signing the Tarin Kowt wall for Australians who had served in Afghanistan had “positive mental health benefits”.  Susan Neuhaus, a longstanding member of the AWM council, similarly voiced the therapeutic line.   She suggested the need for larger displays, illuminating other areas of conflict Australians had perished in.  There was still, she argued, a “fracture line separating the worthy dead and the unworthy dead”.

The Australian War Memorial Council chair, Kerry Stokes, was characteristically dismissive.  Expanding war memorials was exactly what those involved in war memorials ought to do.  If the public want to see weapons, let them.  Stokes also sniffed the sort of hypocrisy that accretes over time.  “Only after the final designs came out did the special interest groups seem to gather their momentum.”  Most of them, in any case, were based in Canberra; most Australians seemed to relish the prospect of war as glory.  “The number of people who claim not to have been involved is very small.”

Stokes may have a point.  War, packed with its uniforms and lethal toys, is vulgar.  This project, should it be envisaged in the form Nelson intended it, promises to be the most vulgar of all.  Commemorative solemnity has its role, but Australia’s ruling classes have little intention to pause and reflect about the losses the country has either endured or inflicted over the short existence of the Commonwealth.  With money being poured into a delusionary defence budget to fight fictional enemies, the distasteful cinematic joke of healing veterans by reminding them of their weapons of death and destruction seems aptly grotesque.

WOLA’s David Smilde Advocates a more Efficient Regime Change Strategy against Venezuela

Common Dreams, a liberal-left website, reposted an article by David Smilde of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA): “Joe Biden Should Not Try to Out-Hawk Trump on Venezuela.” It starts off well with the subtitle: “The first task for a Biden administration would be to take military intervention off the table.” The US has no business invading Venezuela. But Smilde’s approach is that the military option is ill-advised because there are more efficient ways of removing the Maduro government.

Smilde criticizes the US unilateral sanctions as “doing more harm than good,” something of an understatement, and later says “sanctions pinch the Maduro government, they bludgeon the Venezuelan people.” This rings of hypocrisy, as WOLA has str­­ongly defended these sanctions. In fact, Common Dreams has twice published open letters (here and here) criticizing Smilde and WOLA for not opposing Washington’s regime change effort in Venezuela.

The purpose of Smilde’s article is to advise Biden that Trump’s strategy against Venezuela is counterproductive, that the US needs a better regime change policy. Smilde seems to forget this economic warfare against Venezuela originated when Biden was Vice President, and that Biden now attacks Trump for being soft on Venezuela.

To fact check Smilde’s three major criticisms of the Venezuelan government:

  1. “The Maduro government has presided over a governance disaster that has forced over 5 million Venezuelans to leave.”  Smilde does not connect the increased “bludgeoning” of the Venezuelan people with increased emigration due to the economic hardship. The 2018 UN Report by Alfred de Zayas stated, “While the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is undergoing a severe economic crisis, the Government is not standing idle; it is seeking international assistance to overcome the challenges, diversifying the economy and seeking debt restructuring. Sanctions only aggravate the situation by hindering the imports necessary to produce generic medicines and seeds to increase agricultural production. Sanctions have also led to emigration.”

Rather than point out the economic warfare of US sanctions helped cause emigration, Smilde ambiguously states Maduro presided over a governance disaster that has forced them to leave. Maduro forced no one to leave. In fact, the government welcomes those who return, as they are now, due to the even worse conditions they faced in the countries they emigrated to.

  1. “Maduro has not only undermined democratic institutions, he has repressed protestors, and jailed, tortured and disappeared opponents in what could qualify as ‘crimes against humanity.’ As such, Venezuela might seem ripe for an intervention justified in terms of the ‘responsibility to protect.’”

The link in Smilde’s article takes us to the New York Times, which refers to a report by the NGO Foro Penal. Its executive director, Gabriel Gallo, claims “Venezuela has the greatest quantity of political prisoners in the Americas. Including more than Cuba.”  We may question the criteria used to determine Venezuela has more political prisoners than Colombia, Honduras, Brazil, Bolivia or Mexico.

Who is Gabriel Gallo and Foro Penal? Gallo was a leader of the right wing Venezuelan political party Voluntad Popular (VP), the most violent and anti-democratic party in the anti-Chavista bloc. The most prominent leaders of VP include Leopoldo Lopez, Juan Guaido, the person the US appointed head of Venezuela, Freddy Guevara, and Carlos Vecchio.  Leopoldo López launched the attempted coup against President Maduro in 2014. VP activists formed the shock troops of that year’s “guarimbas” protests that left 43 Venezuelans dead, 800 hurt and millions of dollars in property damage. Dozens more were murdered in a new wave of VP-backed violence in 2017. Leopoldo Lopez and Juan Guaido were leaders of the April 2019 failed military coup attempt and contracted this year’s mercenary hit squad invasion.

In May 2014 Diosdado Cabello, head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, revealed that Foro Penal, along with others, had received funds from the United States and Panama to instigate violent actions in the country. He accused 14 people, including the director of Foro Penal, Alfredo Romero, of participating in a destabilization plan against the Venezuelan government.

In 2017 Human Rights Watch organized a letter to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemning Venezuela. But as Venezuelanalysis noted, “Among the signatories are several usual suspects such as Provea or Foro Penal, whose president Alfredo Romero was a recent speaker in a [Freedom House organized] ‘US Democracy Support’ forum….Human Rights Watch  has a long and documented history of bias and outright lies in their reports on Venezuela, which is no surprise given their blatant revolving door with the US government.”

Both Freedom House and Human Rights Watch are “human rights” NGOs closely allied to US government foreign policy objectives.

Venezuelanalysis reported in 2019, “Guaidó’s representative in the Czech Republic is also the international coordinator for human rights NGO Foro Penal (Penal Forum), which the US State Department has decorated with numerous awards for its work in Venezuela. According to WikiLeaks cables from 2006, Foro Penal has been bankrolled by Freedom House and the Pan-American Development Foundation (PADF) through a USAID-supported project.”

Thus, WOLA and the New York Times rely for information on Venezuelan human rights from agents of Venezuela’s most violent right wing political party, allied with US government NGOs, all committed to overthrowing the Venezuelan government.

Human rights abuses have been committed by state agents, but a fair minded assessment would include the fact that the Maduro government has taken considerable corrective action. On June 15, Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab reported on human rights abuse charges against its security force members. A total of 540 had been charged since August 5, 2017, with 426 actually imprisoned. Charges against them include homicide, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and illegitimate deprivation of liberty. Saab called for improved training of police in protection of human rights.

This report by Saab came out ten days before Smilde’s Common Dreams article, yet Smilde made no mention of it.

  1. “Venezuelans would love to solve this crisis on their own at the voting booth; but they can’t because their country’s electoral institutions have been undermined by the Maduro government.”

In reality, the primary threat to Venezuelan democracy comes from US-backed coup attempts, going on for 18 years, and which began back in 2002. The US has even threatened sanctions against opposition leaders for simply choosing to run in presidential elections against Nicolas Maduro, rather than boycotting elections and advocating actions to overthrow the elected government. The US went further when it gave the green light to Juan Guaido to appoint himself president of Venezuela in January 2019, which the US and its European Union allies then validated.

The US was the only country in the world not to recognize the legitimacy of Maduro’s 2013 election. This reflected Obama’s strategy of regime change, which could not be achieved by democratic electoral means. Instead, the US sought to bring down the new government by supporting violent protests.

Stories of Venezuelan electoral fraud became more widespread, even among defenders of Venezuela, with their disputes over the July 30, 2017 vote for members of the National Constituent Assembly. The Venezuelan opposition has always charged fraud over any election result, unless they won.

The US then escalated its campaign of accusing Venezuela of electoral fraud during its  presidential elections of May 20, 2018. However, the international Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA) observed both the 2017 and 2018 elections. It issued a report on the 2017 vote, not questioning that over 8 million did vote.

Concerning the 2018 election CEELA concluded:

CEELA Mission is of the opinion that the process was successfully carried out and that the will of the citizens, freely expressed in ballot boxes, was respected. The electoral process for the Presidential and State Legislative Council Elections 2018 complied with all international standards….The CEELA Electoral Accompaniment Mission upholds that the electoral process has consolidated and reaffirmed strengthening of the electoral institutionalism that supports the democratic system.

Indeed, it is remarkable that the Venezuelan government has maintained its democratic institutions as well as it has under this constant US-European Union campaign to overthrow it. 

WOLA provides liberal cover for regime change

As Alexander Rubenstein writes, “WOLA provides information and analysis for the White House and Congress and receives wide circulation in the media as an authority on Latin America, characteristics more indicative of a foreign policy think tank than a human rights NGO.”  Its largest funders include Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

The Open Letter to WOLA that Noam Chomsky and others signed notes that WOLA opposed the Vatican’s, and then Mexico and Uruguay’s proposals for mediation between the Maduro government and the opposition.

Lucas Koerner recently wrote WOLA: Media’s ‘Left’ Source for Pro-Coup Propaganda in Venezuela. In spite of what Smilde writes in Common Dreams against sanctions, Koerner notes that WOLA has defended Trump’s sanctions. WOLA even found four “virtues” in the August 2017 sanctions responsible for an estimated 40,000 deaths over the following year.

In short, Smilde’s beef with both Biden and Trump is that they could do a better job of regime change in Venezuela. WOLA is not a human rights organization, but serves to rationalize, not criticize, US regime change attempts. Why Common Dreams provides a sounding board for this is a good question.

The End of History lasted 2 Years: I’ll give the Great Reset 18 Months

The many similarities in the unfolding narrative of Covid-19 to that of September 11, 2001 — the mass hysteria, the banker bailouts, the insider trading, the censorship of dissent, the apparent foreknowledge (Lockstep, Event 201, PNAC, Catastrophic Terrorism, A Clean Break etc), the rollout of mass surveillance measures and more — make the two seem like parallel conspiracies. Covid-19 could also be compared to 9-11 in that it seems to be a ‘controlled demolition’ of the world economy by the global financial powers, one that was either planned, or at very least allowed to happen.

One of the initial red flags surrounding the events of 9-11 was NORAD’s failure to scramble a single interceptor in response to the attacks. It was later claimed that they were conducting a ‘training exercise’ at the time which created confusion. Strange how these training exercises always seem to take place during major crises. Event 201, a joint venture of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum hosted by Johns Hopkins University in October 2019 was billed as a simulation response to a novel disease pandemic. Was this also a training exercise which went live? Mike Pompeo’s remarks during a White House press conference in March would seem to suggest so:

Pompeo: “This matter is going forward — we are in a live exercise here to get this right.”

Trump (under his breath): “You should have let us know.”

The case for conspiracy in the events of 9-11 is easily made when we allow our reasoning to be guided by the principle of cui bono. Who has benefited from two decades of regime change wars in the Middle East and North Africa? Arms manufacturers and their many private investors? Big Oil? International finance? The Zionist occupation state?

The question of who was responsible for 9-11 doesn’t hinge on whether or not jet fuel can melt steel beams (it can’t.) It hinges on the fact that the US had been planning a war in the Middle east for a decade prior to the event. The US decision to invade and occupy Afghanistan and to depose Saddam Hussein was made during Western liberal democracy’s ‘uni-polar moment’, a fleeting window which Francis Fukuyama would describe as ‘the end of history’ — the period following the collapse of the Soviet Union during which the US was the world’s only superpower. 9-11 was a staged event which provided the pretext for maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military force in the new century. There are several key policy documents which spell this out if you could be bothered reading them. They even talk about the need for a Pearl Harbour like event to galvanise public opinion. At least two of the authors of these documents had specifically mentioned attacks on the World Trade Centre prior to September 11, 2001.

With the benefit of hindsight, how can policy directives such as Richard Perle’s “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”, and PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century” be seen as anything less than manifestos by the conspirators themselves? Similarly the article by Ashton B. Carter, John Deutch, and Philip Zelikow entitled Catastrophic Terrorism: Tackling the New Danger which appeared in Foreign Affairs November/December 1998 edition presents chilling circumstantial evidence of foreknowledge of the events.

Most incriminating of all, however, is the Patriot Act. Passed into law soon after the 9-11 attacks, this draconian bill expanded terrorism laws to include ‘domestic terrorism’ and subjected US citizens, journalists, whistle blowers and political organisations to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and potential criminal action.

Within seven weeks, October 24th 2001, the House of Representatives was presented with the Patriot Act and passed it the next day. After the Senate passed it President Bush signed it the following day. Later it would be revealed that not one congressman read the 900 page Patriot Act before voting for it, nor does anyone know who wrote it, which makes many believe the Patriot Act was sitting in some right-winger, globalist’s desk just waiting for something like 9-11 to happen.

— Randolph Polasek, Powers Behind JFK Assassination (Expanded Edition, October 8, 2009)

The World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform is a comprehensive plan for world governance, covering every aspect of life, from employment, to food production, to mobility, to management of oceans and forests — everything from the biggest issues — ‘great power politics’, right down to the micro-management of our daily lives — religion, ethics, human rights, mental health, and even ‘human enhancement’, aka, transhumanism. The platform is presented as a manifesto for the new era into which we are being thrust; an era of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘impact investment’ through human capital bonds. Much like the Patriot Act, it is difficult to believe that such an incredibly dense, user-interactive online document could have been written start-to-finish during the initial weeks of the unfolding Covid pandemic. It is simply too comprehensive. Was this document also sitting around in some globalist’s desk just waiting for the right moment?

The Covid Action Platform presents a blueprint for the hostile takeover of every aspect of human decision making; a undertaking which is being accomplished right now, through blockchain technologies, image recognition and mechanised translation; through deep learning algorithms which make use of our smartphones and computers and employ cutting edge technologies such as facial recognition and speech translation to assimilate whole libraries of information about us — a vast neural network capable of making accurate predictions about our behaviour — in particular, our purchasing habits. In this late stage of capitalism our value to the ruling class is increasingly as consumers rather than producers. Ever wondered how it is that products and services are advertised on our screens immediately following a phone call or private conversation? Even now artificial intelligence is plotting our behaviour and making predictions based on the data it collects. The more information we feed it, the more it is able to predict and control us.

[The human population is controlled] via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G, IoT [Internet of Things], and AR [augmented reality] environment. The billionaire class has built and is rapidly putting the finishing touches on infrastructure to run human capital social impact markets that will securitize the lives of most people as data streams. The technology that underlies this 4IR automation will hasten the death of the planet. The World Economic Forum is advancing a technocratic system of control and domination of humanity and the planet… Why should we agree to this? It is a profound sickness of Western culture. Hubris. Sick. And totally ignoring the impact our actions have on the natural world around us.

— Alison Hawver McDowell, Wrench in the Gears

It is the need for increased surveillance and data gathering capability that is currently driving the roll out of 5G technology. Our new augmented reality lifestyles are going to require a great deal more speed and bandwidth, not to mention all those new driverless trucks on the road. Is this perhaps also why the horse shit peddlers are claiming that 5G itself is spreading the virus? Leaving aside the potential harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation in confined spaces, blaming 5G for the pandemic is about as nuanced as blaming ‘the Jooz’ for 9-11. And yet 5G does play a crucial role in this conspiracy. It will provide the extra capacity needed to micro-manage our lives when we are eventually released from lockdown into a world of digital surveillance, biometric I.D. and social credit.

The layoffs and retrenchments of workers by the million also present new opportunities to bring online automation on a scale hitherto imagined. We should not be surprised that figures like HRH the Prince of Wales and other illustrious world leaders are now calling this a golden opportunity to reshape the world. The ruling class are literally calling for a new social contract. Would you let your employer ‘renegotiate’ your contract without your union representative present? There is no historical precedent for the ruling class giving up their power and privilege. Why would they do so now?

We are indeed entering Huxley’s Brave New World; a digital panopticon where our every move will be tracked and traced; where Universal Basic Income will function as behavioural scrip; where our Covid Passes will provide access to public spaces. All of these things will be packaged and sold as the solution to our current predicament; the way we ‘reopen’ our economies and return to normal. All thanks to Covid-19.

This is a social engineering on steroids. It is not, however, unprecedented. Our rulers have made no secret of their plans to implement technocracy, couched in terms from the sublime “the systems approach to complex global challenges” to the brazenly unabashed “the self direction of human evolution”. From Julian Huxley’s foundational philosophy of Unesco to the managerial technocracy described by Carroll Quigley and Edward Bernays; from David Rockefeller’s work on global governance to Jacques Attali’s Brief History of the Future, the conceptual framework has been spelled out clearly for more than a century for anyone willing to pay attention. Texts once dismissed as works of speculative fiction now look more like the blueprints of mad scientists, social Darwinists and Malthusian eugenicists. These are the manifestos of the elite. We are living in HG Wells Open Conspiracy; in Aldous Huxley’s Ultimate Revolution. Covid 19 is simply providing the theatrical smoke and fog between acts.

Technocracy is no more compatible with human happiness than Ayn Rand’s theory of rational self interest, but this, we are told, is what progress demands, and history shows there is little we can do to stop revolutionary change. Do we become Luddites? Do we join the masses with their pitchforks and go out and set fire to the 5G ‘cancer towers’? Or do we recognise Robert Frost’s truism that “the best way out is always through”?

It’s clear that technology is here to stay. Alas, the shape of our future will depend entirely on those who control it. Failing a return to fashion of the guillotine, power is likely to remain concentrated in the hands of an increasingly small and elite group. We might find comfort, however, in the fact that hubris seldom has the final word in human affairs, and we can be reasonably assured that Huxley’s ultimate revolution will be every bit as fleeting as Fukuyama’s End of History.

The Military, What is It Good for?

In Part IV, we noted that the U.S. is ruled by a few hundred oligarchs and corporations, and that as long as power resides among this tiny elite, the chances of making headway against racism, police brutality, poverty and exploitation are exceedingly slim. The societal changes proposed in Parts I – IV can do much to remove power from that elite and redistribute it among the rest of the citizenry, upon whom the U.S. Constitution nominally bestows power, but who have never exercised more than cosmetic authority – least of all Blacks, Indigenous peoples, the poor and the disenfranchised.

History tells us that the wealthy do not accumulate and spend their wealth merely for their personal comfort and that of their families and friends. No, the seduction of wealth is that it brings power over other people, including that of life and death, war and peace, servitude and freedom. The ultimate expression of this power is empire, for which nations will crush others into dust to realize their ambitions.1 The Roman treatment of Carthage is an early example of such practice, which has apparently served as a model for U.S. treatment of its victims, from the Cherokee nation to Vietnam and Iraq. Concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small oligarchy within a major power like the U.S. inevitably leads to projection of power well beyond its borders. [For an extensive history of national power, see The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, by Paul M. Kennedy].

In the case of the U.S., the enormous concentration of wealth has, in simple terms, been employed for the purpose of ruling the world through military power. The Wolfowitz Doctrine and its variants have, since 1992, all been based upon challenging and weakening or destroying all potential rivals. The result is that little is left for human development. The US ranks 28th in the world in human development (and dropping), below that of Slovakia and Poland, according to the UN Development Program’s inequality-adjusted human development index (IHDI). The Defense budget occupies 54% of discretionary spending in the U.S. federal budget, currently standing at more the $700 billion per year, and equal to that of the 12 next highest national military budgets in the world, combined.  By comparison, the per capita military expenditure of Denmark, a NATO member, is only a third that of the U.S., and it ranks seventh in the IHDI, a full 21 ranks higher than the U.S.

It is clear that U.S. military expenditures are a great obstacle to any sort of social progress of the type that we see in countries like Denmark, which is by no means the only example. Even many poorer countries invest a greater part of their wealth into human development than does the U.S. The consequences for the U.S. of such extravagant expenditures on death and destruction are not only the enmity of the entire world, but also poverty, homelessness, a lower standard of education, inadequate health services for many, a higher crime rate and much more for its own people. Of course, for its victims in other lands, the consequences are much greater still. It recalls the words of J. Robert Oppenheimer (taken from the Bhagavad Gita scriptures), at seeing the detonation of the world’s first nuclear weapon, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Abandoning our national policy of piracy, looting and pillaging is not merely the right thing to do. It is the obvious thing to do.  When we are no longer a threat to others, many of our enemies will cease to be a threat to us. Of course, that is not a formula that worked for the nations to which we have laid waste, so it is understandable if we will not be quick to entirely abandon a reduced, purely defensive force. We hope that will not have to use it, and in the future we might eventually be able to do away with entirely, as Costa Rica has done. In the meantime, I suspect that we will be able to make common cause needed with other countries in order to confront any threat that might arise. The military-industrial complex will simply have to retool for ploughshares.

In order to assure the implementation of these plans and intentions, several measures are advisable.  First, U.S. troops will not be allowed to engage in combat unless a state of war has been declared by the U.S. Congress, as provided in the U.S. Constitution, except when an immediate threat requires defensive response until the Congress can meet. Second, the CIA will end all clandestine military and subversive activities anywhere in the world. These are a form of warfare and therefore only permissible by armed forces, and only under a declaration of war.  The sole function of the CIA must be intelligence. Finally, the U.S. must negotiate for progressive nuclear disarmament with all nations currently possessing nuclear weapons. These weapons are simply too dangerous for any other option, and must not be allowed in the hands of people who might contemplate using them.

These steps obviate the need for others that are inevitable. If we have no troops overseas, there will no prisoners held in overseas detention facilities, and any held in the U.S. will be subject to U.S. civilian and military law, neither of which permit indefinite detention without trial. Habeas corpus also applies to all persons held in the U.S. for any reason. And finally, while peace, threat reduction and good relations are some of the most important benefits from the changes proposed in this article, the reduction in cost is hardly negligible: probably a half trillion dollars or more. For anyone wondering how some of the other costs of the measures proposed in previous and future installments of this manifesto, this fact will overcome any shortfall not already covered by other suggested revenue sources.

  1. The caption of a 1968 Playboy cartoon by Jim Handelsman expresses this principle well. “Megadeaths! Man, this company has come a long way from typewriter spools.”