Category Archives: Nukes

War on Iran is US Policy Now According to US Secretary of State

Former CIA head offers policy of prevarication and tortured truth

On May 21, in his first formal public address, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (sworn in May 2) effectively declared war on the sovereign nation of Iran. Pompeo has no constitutional authority to declare war on anyone, as he well knows, so his declaration of war is just short of overt, though it included a not-so-veiled threat of a nuclear attack on Iran. Pompeo’s declaration of war is a reactionary move that revitalizes the malignant Iranaphobia of the Bush presidency, when predictions were rife that Iran would have nuclear weapons by next year, next month, next week, predictions that never came true over twenty years of fearmongering. In effect (as we’ll see), Pompeo wants us to believe that everything bad that happened in the Middle East after Saudi terrorists attacked us on 9/11 in 2001 has been Iran’s fault, starting with Afghanistan. Almost everything Pompeo had to say to the Heritage Foundation on May 21 was a lie or, more typically, an argument built on lies.

Heritage Foundation host Kay Coles James called Pompeo’s 3,700-word speech “Bold, concise, unambiguous” and “a bold vision – clear, concise, unambiguous.”  It was none of those, except perhaps bold in its willingness to go to war with an imaginary monster. Even without open warfare, warmongering has its uses both for intimidating other states and creating turmoil among the populace at home. Buckle your seat belts.

The 2012 Iran nuclear deal (officially the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) was, by all reliable accounts, working effectively in its own terms up until May 8: inspectors confirmed that Iran had eliminated the nuclear programs it had promised to eliminate, that its uranium enrichment program for nuclear power plants was nowhere close to making weapons grade material, and so on. Whatever perceived flaws the deal may have had, and whatever other problems it didn’t cover, the deal was working to the satisfaction of all its other signatories: Iran, France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, and China. As a measure of international cooperation, the deal not only worked, it was an available precedent for further negotiations among equal parties acting in good faith. The US was not such a party. On May 8, the US President, unilaterally and over the clear objections of all the other parties to the agreement, pulled the US out of the deal for no more clearly articulated reason than that he didn’t like it.  Or as Pompeo tried to re-frame it in his May 21 declaration of war:

President Trump withdrew from the [Iran nuclear] deal for a simple reason: it failed to guarantee the safety of the American people from the risk created by the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This is a Big Lie worthy of Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. What “risk created by the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” is there? Iran poses NO imminent threat to the US, and wouldn’t even if it had nuclear weapons (as North Korea and eight other countries have). Iran has no overseas bases, the US has more than 600, including a couple of dozen that surround Iran. A classified number of US bases and aircraft carriers around Iran are armed with nuclear weapons. Iran lives every day at risk from the US military while posing almost no counter-risk (and none that wouldn’t be suicidal). There is no credible threat to the American people other than fevered speculation about what might happen in a world that does not exist.

To clarify Pompeo’s lie, the President withdrew from the deal for a simple reason: to protect the American people from a non-existent threat. In reality, peremptorily dumping the deal without any effort to improve it first may well have made Americans less safe in the long term. There’s no way to know. And given the current US ability to manage complicated, multifaceted problems, there’s little reason for hope. Since no one else seems as reckless as the US, we may muddle through despite massive inept stupidity and deceit.

The frame for Pompeo’s deceitful arguments is the familiar one of American goodness, American exceptionalism, American purity of motive. He deploys it with the apparent self-assurance that enough of the American people still fall for it (or profit from it) that it gives the government near carte blanche to make the rest of the world suffer our willfulness. Pompeo complains about “wealth creation for Iranian kleptocrats,” without a word about American kleptocrats, of whom his president is one and he is too presumably. And then there’s the unmentioned collusion with Russian kleptocrats. Better to divert attention and inflate the imaginary threat:

The deal did nothing to address Iran’s continuing development of ballistic and cruise missiles, which could deliver nuclear warheads.

Missiles were not part of the nuclear agreement, so, of course, it didn’t address missiles. And even if Iran, which has a space program, develops missiles under the agreement, it still wouldn’t have nuclear warheads to deliver. There is no threat, but the US could move the projected threat closer by scrapping the agreement rather than seeking to negotiate it into other areas. That move both inflames the fear and conceals the lie. In effect, Pompeo argues metaphorically that we had to cut down the cherry orchard because it failed to produce beef.

Pompeo goes on at length arguing that all the problems in the Middle East are Iran’s fault. He never mentions the US invasions of Afghanistan or Iraq, or US intervention in other countries creating fertile ground for ISIS in Libya and genocide in Yemen. Pompeo falsely claims that “Iran perpetuates a conflict” in Syria that has made “that country 71,000 square miles of kill zone.” Pompeo falsely claims that Iran alone jeopardizes Iraq’s sovereignty. Pompeo falsely blames Iran for the terror and starvation in Yemen caused by US-supported Saudi terror bombing. Pompeo falsely blames Iran for US failure in Afghanistan. Pompeo uses these and other lies to support the long-standing Big Lie that “Iran continues to be… the world’s largest sponsor of terror.”

This is another Bush administration lie that lived on under Obama and now gets fresh life from Pompeo, but without evidence or analysis. US sponsorship of Saudi bombing of defenseless civilians in Yemen probably accounts for more terrorist acts than Iran accomplishes worldwide. Israeli murder of unarmed protestors in Gaza has killed more people than Iran’s supposed terror. The demonization of Iran persists because of the perverse US public psychology that has neither gotten over the 1979 hostage-taking nor accepted any responsibility for destroying Iranian democracy and subjecting Iran to a brutal US-puppet police state for a quarter-century. The Big Lie about Iran is so ingrained in American self-delusion, Pompeo may not be fully aware of the extent to which he is lying to his core (he surely knows the particulars of specific smaller lies).

Only someone who is delusional or dishonest, or both, could claim with apparent sincerity that one goal of the US is “to deter Iranian aggression.” Pompeo offers no particulars of this Iranian “aggression.” So far as one can tell, in the real world, Iran has not invaded any other country in the region, or elsewhere. The US has invaded several countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and by proxy Yemen. American aggression has been real and deadly and constant for decades, but because the US is the one keeping score, the US doesn’t award itself the prize it so richly deserves year after year as the world’s number one state sponsor of terror. This is how it’s been since long before 1967 when Martin Luther King tried speaking “clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.” That’s the way it was, that’s the way it still is, that’s the future Pompeo points us toward with a not so veiled threat of nuclear war:

And I’d remind the leadership in Iran what President Trump said: If they restart their nuclear program, it will mean bigger problems – bigger problems than they’d ever had before.

And then Pompeo launched on a lengthy description of Iran as he sees it, a self-serving interpretation of Iranian events that may or may not mean what Pompeo says they mean. What is most remarkable about the passage is that it could as well apply to the US today. Just change the Iran references to American references, as I have done in the text below, leaving everything else Pompeo said intact, and the likely unintentional effect is eerily like looking in a black mirror reality:

Look, these problems are compounded by enormous corruption inside of [the US], and the [American] people can smell it. The protests last winter showed that many are angry at the regime that keeps for itself what the regime steals from its people.

And [Americans] too are angry at a regime elite that commits hundreds of millions of dollars to military operations and terrorist groups abroad while the Iranian people cry out for a simple life with jobs and opportunity and with liberty.

The [American] regime’s response to the protests has only exposed the country’s leadership is running scared. Thousands have been jailed arbitrarily, and at least dozens have been killed.

As seen from the [#MeToo] protests, the brutal men of the regime seem to be particularly terrified by [American] women who are demanding their rights. As human beings with inherent dignity and inalienable rights, the women of [America] deserve the same freedoms that the men of [America] possess.

But this is all on top of a well-documented terror and torture that the regime has inflicted for decades on those who dissent from the regime’s ideology.

The [American] regime is going to ultimately have to look itself in the mirror. The [American] people, especially its youth, are increasingly eager for economic, political, and social change.

As an analysis of the US by a US official, that might suggest we were headed toward enlightened and progressive policy changes. Even for what it is, Pompeo’s self-deceiving pitch to “the Iranian people,” it could have led in a positive direction.  It didn’t. Pompeo followed this assessment with a dishonest offer for new talks. It was dishonest because it came with non-negotiable US preconditions, “only if Iran is willing to make major changes.” Then came a full page of preconditions, “what it is that we demand from Iran,” as Pompeo put it [emphasis added]. Meeting those US demands would be tantamount to a surrender of national sovereignty in exchange for nothing. Pompeo surely understood that he was making an offer Iran couldn’t do anything but refuse.

The Secretary of State’s bullying chest puffery continued for another two pages of falsehoods and repetitions. He called for a global alliance of democracies and dictatorships “to join this effort against the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Linking Egypt and Australia, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, Pompeo spun into a fully delusional statement about nations with little in common:

They understand the challenge the same way that America does. Indeed, we welcome any nation which is sick and tired of the nuclear threats, the terrorism, the missile proliferation, and the brutality of a regime which is at odds with world peace, a country that continues to inflict chaos on innocent people.

Wait a minute! Nuclear threats! Missile proliferation!  Brutality at odds with world peace! A country that continues to inflict chaos on innocent people! That’s us! That’s the US since 1945. And that’s absolutely not what Pompeo meant, insofar as anyone can be absolutely sure of anything. He made that clear with yet another lie: “we’re not asking anything other than that Iranian behavior be consistent with global norms.”

Pompeo came to the predictable conclusion familiar to other countries: Iran will “prosper and flourish… as never before,” if they just do what we tell them to do. And to illustrate US bona fides and good faith in all its dealings, Pompeo showed himself, however unintentionally, capable of true high hilarity:

If anyone, especially the leaders of Iran, doubts the President’s sincerity or his vision, let them look at our diplomacy with North Korea.

THAT is funny. It’s just not a joke.

The Libya Model is a Distraction

On Fox News Sunday, United States national security advisor John Bolton brought up the Libya model as a template for the denuclearization of North Korea.

Following up, president Donald Trump noted, “In Libya, we decimated that country. That country was decimated.” However, Trump did assure North Korean chairman Kim Jong-un that he’d remain in power after denuclearization.

Then came US vice-president Michael Pence on Fox News:

There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal.

When told that such a comparison could be viewed as a threat, Pence instead considered: “Well, I think it’s more of a fact.”

History tells a tale. After Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi gave up Libya’s nuclear weapons program, he was eventually deposed by NATO bombing in support of rebels who brutally murdered Gaddafi in cold blood. Hillary Clinton gleefully cackled about it on CBS News afterwards.

What kind of dunderhead would Kim have to be not to realize the behind-the-curtain machinations Washington has planned for him and his government. The US simply should not be believed or trusted.

But there seems to be an apparent wrench in the works of Washington’s scheming. Kim, after all, has a nuclear bomb. It makes one wonder: what do Donald Trump and the US military establishment not understand about nuclear deterrence? There are no winners in a nuclear war.

All the blather about a Libya model merely reinforces the correctness of the North Korean decision and the necessity to develop a nuclear deterrence. It must be emphasized that — despite wild proclamations from Washington1 — what North Korea possesses is a nuclear deterrence and not a nuclear threat. Obviously, to initiate a nuclear attack would be sheer folly and a suicidal act for Kim Jong-un and his government. However, North Korea is on record as asserting a no-first-use policy for nukes.2 This is a rational stance.

Contrariwise, the US does not reject its first use of nukes. Thus, the US nukes exist as other than a deterrence factor.

Is the US an irrational actor?

The bigwigs in the Trump administration are not dunderheads either. There is a method to their madness — a desired outcome. The US, despite administration declamations to the contrary, is quite aware that North Korea would not start a nuclear war. The North Koreans are known to be rational.

Yet the strategizing of the military-industrial complex is also based in rationality when its capitalistic motivations are considered. When it comes to warmongering, the greater the number of enemies the US is faced with, the more opportunities for weapons deals to replenish homeland armories and supplying fearful allied countries. Moreover, there are the opportunities created for morally challenged investors to seek profit from war.

The military-industrial complex’s lust for war profiteering motivates it to maintain a hostile posture to designated enemies like North Korea. This is rational in the pecuniary sense. It is rational for the military-industrial complex to assume a hostile posture to Iran. It is logical to support war crimes by the Jewish State against the civilian population of Gaza and also to support the siege of Gaza in hopes of fomenting a violent uprising. It’s rational to keep Syria in conflagration.

It is even rational to poke the Russian bear and prod the Chinese dragon. The more formidable the designated enemy, the greater the potential for evoking fear among home populations and crank over the wheels of the military-industrial ever more.

In this manner arms sales are stimulated, share prices for armaments are sent rising, and thus it happens that the undiplomatic bombast and war crimes committed by military industrialists is rewarded with ensanguined lucre.

Nonetheless, all the money in the world means nothing come a nuclear winter.

  1. Michael Pence in his recent interview stated that the US “is not going to tolerate the regime in North Korea possessing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that threaten the United States and our allies…”
  2. A translation of the North Korean news agency KCNA quotes Kim saying, “As a responsible nuclear weapons state, our republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes.”

Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution

The inevitable stop, start and stuttering of the Korean peace process was bound to manifest itself soon after the hugs, expansive smiles and sympathetic back rubs.  Dates have been set – the Kim-Trump summit is slated to take place in Singapore on June 12, though there is much time for disruptive mischief to take place.

One field of possible disruption lies in air exercises between the US and South Korea known as Max Thunder.  Such manoeuvres have been of particular interest to the DPRK, given their scale and possible use as leverage in talks.

The latest irritation was occasioned by claims in Pyongyang that the US had deployed B-52 Stratofortress bombers as part of the exercise despite denying that this would take place.  This was construed, in the words of Leon V. Sigal, “as inconsistent with President Trump’s pledge at President Moon’s urging to move toward peace in Korea.”

The position against using such nuclear-capable assets had been outlined in Kim Jong Un’s 2018 New Year’s Day address.  The South, he insisted, should “discontinue all the nuclear war drills they stage with outside forces,” a point reiterated in Rodong Sinmun, the Party newspaper, ten days later: “If the South Korean authorities really want détente and peace, they should first stop all efforts to bringing in the US nuclear equipment and conduct exercises for nuclear warfare with foreign forces.”

While these matters were unfolding, President Donald Trump’s national security advisor was being his injudicious self, doing his bit for global insecurity.  Never a diplomat in the true sense of the term, John Bolton remains a traditional head kicker for empire, the rustler of discontent.

Bolton, history teacher incarnate, wants to impress upon the North Koreans certain jarring examples.  A favourite of his is the so-called Libyan solution. How well that worked: the leadership of a country maligned but convinced in its international rehabilitation to abandon various weapons programs in the hope of shoring up security.  More specifically, in 2003, Libya was convinced to undertake a process US diplomats and negotiators parrot with steam and enthusiasm: denuclearisation.

“We should insist that if this meeting is going to take place,” claimed Bolton on Radio Free Asia with characteristic smugness, “it will be similar to discussions we had with Libya 13 or 14 years ago: how to pack up their nuclear weapons program and take it to Oak Ridge, Tennessee.”

The problem with this skewed interpretation lies in its false premise: that US threats, cajoling and sanctions has actually brought North Korea, tail between legs, to the diplomatic table.  Being firm and threatening, according to Bolton, has been rewarding.  This reading verges on the fantastic, ignoring three years of cautious, informal engagement.  It also refuses to account for the fact that Pyongyang made firm moves in Washington’s direction after the insistence on firm preconditions was abandoned by Trump.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also been rumbling on the issue of a firm line, suggesting that he, like Bolton, has a preference for the stick approach.  Despite speaking about “warm” and “substantive” talks with Kim, he claims that any agreement with Pyongyang must have a “robust verification program” built into it.

The suggestion of the Libyan precedent was enough to sent Pyongyang into a state, given their developed fears about becoming the next casualty of unwarranted foreign intervention.  Libya did denuclearise, thereby inflicting what could only be seen subsequently as a self-amputation.  As missiles rained down upon Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, launched by the British, French and the US ostensibly for humanitarian reasons, a sense of terrible regret must have been felt.  Soon, the mad colonel would be butchered, and his state torn asunder in a sectarian reckoning.

As the air assault was taking place, the North Korean foreign ministry identified the problem: the bargain between Libya and the western powers to surrender its nuclear weapons program was “an invasion tactic to disarm the country”.  The intervention “is teaching the international community a grave lesson”.

The state news agency KNCA took note of Bolton’s remarks, issuing an official rebuff highlighting the status of the DPRK as a true, fully fledged nuclear weapon state: the “world knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq, which have met a miserable fate.  It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya, which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development.”

The DPRK’s vice foreign minister, Kim Kye Gwan, was unequivocal in warning.  “If the US is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-US summit.”  Bolton received specific mention: “We do not hide a feeling of repugnance toward him.”

The Trump White House preferred to give different signals.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders is claiming that the president will be his own man on this, though Trump’s own reading of the “Libya model” has proven confusingly selective.  In any case the leverage brought by US ultimatum to disarm without genuine concessions is hardly likely to gain traction. The response from Pyongyang will be simple: resume missile testing and further enlarge the arsenal.

Iran, Disinformation, and “Sanctions of Mass Destruction”

The United States has done it again: reneged on a signed agreement. President Donald Trump has drop kicked the Iran Nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA).

The examples of US government chicanery are myriad. In 1972, American president Richard Nixon and his Soviet counterpart Leonid Brezhnev agreed on an Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty that limited strategic defense systems. In December 2001, president George W Bush gave notice of US intent to withdraw from the ABM treaty. When Nixon signed, the USSR was a military superpower. Russia was still economically crippled, recovering from the collapse of the USSR and communism, when Bush opted out. The result was, according to Russia, the development of sophisticated next-gen hypersonic and nuclear weapons.

In 1994, US ambassador Robert Gallucci and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea vice-minister Kang Sok-ju signed the Framework Agreement. That agreement stipulated that the DPRK cease operation and construction of nuclear reactors that were part of a covert nuclear weapons program. In exchange the US would construct two proliferation-resistant nuclear power reactors for the DPRK and supply it with heavy fuel oil pending completion of the reactors. In January 2002, Bush calls the DPRK a part of the “axis of evil.” In April 2002, Bush stated he would not certify the DPRK’s compliance with the Agreed Framework. In November 2002, the US announces a halt to fuel shipments to the DPRK. In December 2002, the DPRK announced it would restart the nuclear facilities and later orders the IAEA inspectors out of the country. In January 2003, the DPRK left the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Today, the DPRK is a nuclear-weapons state with ICBM capability.

In 2015, Iran reached a deal with the P5+1 group of world powers (the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) to limit its nuclear program and permit international inspections in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions against the country. Iran has always been found in compliance with the agreement; nevertheless, Trump predictably pulled out of the JCPOA.

It was predictable given the US’s longstanding history of treaty breaking, starting with the Indigenous nations who were dispossessed by the European settler-colonists. It was predictable given Trump’s fetishism with Israel, whose prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been an unrelenting warmonger against Iran. It is predictable given the team that Trump assembled. For example, Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton, an anti-Iran deal hawk, was George W Bush’s undersecretary of state for arms control and international security when the Agreed Framework was killed. This outcome was favored by Bolton who wrote, “This was the hammer I had been looking for to shatter the Agreed Framework.”

The Washington Post speculates that this may mean war. Yes, it may well, and Israel has seized upon Trump’s announcement to attack Iranian troops in Syria.

Iran says it will stay in the JCPOA. What about the rest of the P5+1? Surely Russia and China will not take part in a continuance of sanctions against Iran. Europe seems disposed to honor the deal as well. That the US could sanction its NATO and European partners is dubious, and such sanctions wouldn’t work. As the US threatened trade war against China revealed, tariffs imposed by one side can also be imposed by the other side.

The Destructiveness of Disinformation and Sanctions

That economic sanctions could debilitate a country’s economy is clear. As such economic sanctions are often considered an act of war.

Ahmad Noroozi, international PR manager for Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), laments the effects of sanctions:

The sanctions have had hard impacts on Iranian civilians despite the claims of targeting Iran’s government. The sanctions lifted under the JCPOA, are coming back into motion again under different pretexts. Every now and then, a new organization in Iran comes under the light to step up pressures on the country.

Noroozi says EIKO is normally under attack even though: “The organization’s mission is to help the poor families of Iran and doing charity works.”

Reuters, however, claims EIKO is a slushfund for the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Noroozi points out that EIKO has always been subject to disinformation campaigns.

Disinformation has been a staple of US imperialism. There are several examples of false flags/disinformation, ranging from the Gulf of Tonkin missile attack; the phantom WMD in Iraq; the alleged Skripal Novichok poisoning affair attributed to Russia, without a shred of evidence presented (and plenty of refutations of the British government claims); and the recent chemical attack in Douma, Syria, staged by the White Helmets. Such disinformation is often used as a casus belli and many people wind up murdered as a result.

That the sanctions would harm the citizenry – even children – is of negligible concern to the US. The then-US ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, quipped that the death of half-a-million Iraqi children was a price worth paying to achieve US policy objectives.

In their Foreign Affairs article, “Sanctions of Mass Destruction,” John Mueller and Karl Mueller wrote about Americans insouciance to the deaths of Iraqis:

It is interesting that this loss of human life has failed to make a great impression in the United States. Americans clearly do not blame the people of Iraq for that country’s actions: even at the height of the Gulf War, 60 percent said they held the Iraqi people innocent of responsibility for Saddam’s policies. Yet the massive death toll among Iraqi civilians has stirred little public protest, and hardly any notice.

Some of the inattention may derive from a lack of concern about foreign lives. Although Americans are extremely sensitive to American casualties, they – like others – often seem quite insensitive to casualties suffered by those on the opposing side, whether military or civilian.

The writers noted that economic sanctions are far deadlier than WMDs:

economic sanctions … may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.

Since the use of WMDs are prohibited because of their massive lethality, why then are economic sanctions, which are of greater lethality, still used?

Lastly, if the sanctions of mass destruction should effect a dire lethality in Iran, then what comes after?

Disembodied Americans and the Crucifixion of the World

The existent, the body, disappears.  We live within a spectacle of empty clothes and unworn masks….Nobodies and no Necessity – for Necessity is the condition of the existent.  It is what makes reality real.
— John Berger, “Steps Toward a Small Theory of the Visible”.

The real body.  To be real, it must be bodily; and to be a body is to be eaten.  The humiliation in incarnation; to become bread.  To be eaten: to be consumed by sorrow, sickness, and death.
— Norman O. Brown, Love’s Body, 1966, Re-issued by University of California Press, September 1990.

If Marx were functioning today he would have been hard put to avoid saying that imaginary sex is the opiate of the people.
— John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards, Simon & Schuster, July 2013.

Why are so many Americans indifferent to the savage slaughter of millions of people around the world carried out by their own government under a long string of presidents?   Why were they stone-cold silent during eight years of Obama’s many wars and drone killings of which he boasted?  Why are they silent in the face of the Trump administration’s continuation and expansion of those wars and its push for a nuclear war with Russia?  Why this incestuous turning in and away from the bloody havoc their government keeps inflicting on the world?

And why all this denial while focusing on the pornographic media spectacles of Stormy Daniels (the porn queen turned “Adult Film Actress”), Monica Lewinsky, and a host of others paraded before the cameras to distract and entertain a population of spectators?

I, like many people, wonder why.  What follows is an attempt at an answer, with the focus of my thinking being primarily on middle to upper class Americans, for the poor and working classes have a hard enough time making ends meet and keeping alive themselves, since they are the victims of a domestic war waged by the same heartless ruling class that kills so many overseas.

For when people lose touch with the physicality of life and embrace spectral images, mediated reality, and abstractions as real, they have stepped into a totally nihilistic world.  A disembodied world. When this is joined to a narcissistic self-preoccupation with one’s own well-being and comfort, indifference to the suffering of others becomes the norm.  This is the world of unreality populated today by so many Americans, who have grown progressively indifferent to the slaughter by their own government of people throughout the world – heaps of millions of dead bodies, blood, and body-parts everywhere.  In “Song in the Blood” the French poet Jacques Prévert says:

There are great puddles of blood on the world
where’s it going all this spilled blood….
murder’s blood…war’s blood
misery’s blood…
and the blood of men tortured in prison….
Where’s it going all this spilled blood
the earth that turns and turns and turns
with its great streams of blood.

To the bodiless bloodless insouciant ones, however, the blood of “others” is invisible. It is our lives that matter.  What is being done to these “others” is of little consequence because it is experienced as an abstraction – unreal – as if it weren’t happening, even as it is.  And in a twist of fate straight from Greek tragedy, those who embrace this delusion are in denial of the very real possibility that they too will be “disappeared” by a nuclear war being provoked in their names.  Having turned their backs on nature and the corporeal reality of all living beings, having denied the passion play that is life on earth for all people, having denied that there are limits to American hubris and the West’s clearly insane and nihilistic push for nuclear war with Russia, they will pleasure themselves “until the atom too bursts into flames,” as Albert Camus warned, “and history ends in the triumph of reason and the death agony of the species.”

In an incisive article, “It is Us,” John Steppling recently asked a series of Tolstoyan questions about the ruling class (and by extension most Americans): “What does the ruling class want?” he asked.  How much money do these people need?  Is it power they are after with their mad quest to gobble up the world and slaughter as they go?  Power for what?  For more money?  Why are they provoking a nuclear war with Russia?  Are they simply crazy?  Don’t they know they too will die?  And what about all those affluent liberals and conservatives, the narcissistic bourgeoisie, the average person, are they all suicidal?

I believe they think in their delusional way that the coachman will pass them by. They are living in the unreality that has overtaken so much of the Western world.  They believe they will pass.  No failure for them.  They won’t die.  They will “pass on.”  They are different, special, they live in a fantasy of bodiless abstractions, even as they work on their bodies to go on and on, exercise and diet, pill after pill, supplements, dreams of running marathons at 98, body parts replaced as they do yoga poses to dreamy ethereal music in the safe surround of a warless environment where bombs and missiles are for the others in bloody bodies over there far away.  The pornography of war out of sight and thought; the screening of pornographic titillation in everyone’s face.

It is generally assumed that the United States is a materialist society where the voluptuous life of bodily existence is affirmed and celebrated.  Big breasts and bigger butts, skinny jeans and streaming sex scandals. To the contrary, I think this is not true.  American society has joined its Puritan tradition to instrumental reasoning and its go-go-get-it-done practicality to create a culture where the human body has become, like everything and everyone else, a thing to be manipulated – an instrument to be masturbated, a thing to be pampered, paraded, and presented in a society of looking-glass selves. Selfies in flight from others and human encounters where care and communion of consciousness lead one to love the world as one’s body and to feel compassion for others far away in other lands who are being slaughtered by our guns and bombs.  And to say No, not in my name, not over my dead body. To burst the bubble of the self. W.H. Auden, in his poem “Are You There?”  put it this way:

Whatever view we hold, it must be shown
Why every lover has a wish to make
Some other kind of otherness his own:
Perhaps, in fact, we never are alone.

Yet Americans pursue loneliness as if their mirror images were the world.  Or the things they so avidly buy reflect who they are: interior decorating for the soul.  Souls divorced from their instrumental bodies.  With packaged and commodified consciousnesses, so many “interact with products” these days, as they pursue constantly retreating phantoms; the social narcissism of images falling in love with their own images and reaching out to embrace their shadows.

This is as far from eroticism as one can get, if one grasps the true meaning of Eros, the god of love, life, joy, and becoming, whose growth was stunted until his mother Aphrodite was oracularly told that “Love cannot grow without Passion.”  And passion is a reaching out for others, not for oneself, or one’s phantom image.  The brilliant psychologist Rollo May summed up our situation by saying that when “eros has lost passion,” it has become “insipid, childish, and banal.”  And when the cult of technique and technology becomes a social addiction, feeling, passion, and individual identity is blotted out and, “mirabile dictu, we discover that the myth [of Eros] proclaims exactly what we have seen happening in our own day, eros, then, even loses interest in sex.”  Except on screens.

Once the human body becomes an object of narcissistic preoccupation – its maintenance, presentation, coddling, etc. – it has become an instrument to be used, as do other people.  The body remains but the human disappears, and the remaining “instrumental” body is “disembodied.”  Once the human body is reduced to a machine and human intercourse in its multiple meanings is accepted as a “mediated reality” through so-called smart devices, we know that the era of humanoids has arrived, as Howard Beale so famously announced in the film Network over forty years ago.  Smart phones for dumb people; always in touch but never touching.

To be human is to be embodied, incarnated, to love and suffer passionately, body and soul.  Sexual passion and tenderness in the service of life, not death.  Eros, not Thanatos. Passion for a suffering world and victims everywhere.  I think one important reason why so many Americans have turned their backs as their government crucifies the rest of the world is because they have lost their bodies not their minds, and in exchanging shadows on the wall for flesh and blood they have abandoned the world and embraced the unreality of things that a capitalist, consumer society proffers in lieu of life.  And as so many great thinkers (Coleridge, Swift, Brown, et al) have pointed out, to try to rise above the body is ironically to equate the body with excrement.  Norman O. Brown writes, “Thus the morbid attempt to get away from the body can only result in a morbid fascination in the death of the body.”  From this flows the narcissistic focus on self-preservation and the spending of one’s life energies on the acquiring of dead things rather than the carefree letting go of one’s love and care into the whole world that is crying out for redemption from an orgy of violence.

Of course, the paradox of the disappearance of the living body into spectral images and things is the departure of the soul as well, the embodied soul.  And a soulless country is a place where reality no longer exists and one can, for example, view Michelangelo’s Pietà and think, “What an amazing sculpture, how did he do it?” but fail to feel heartache and rage that so many mothers across this planet are now weeping and cradling the crushed and crucified bodies of their children, victims of American weapons of war.  Our weapons.  Our wars.

When will we dead awaken?

The Coming Wars to End All Wars

The compulsive hatred of Putin by many who have almost zero idea about Putin or Russian history is disproportionate to any rational analysis, but not surprising. Trump and Putin are like weird doppelgangers in the liberal imagination.

— John Steppling, “Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk into a Bar”, Dissident Voice, February 21, 2018.

The Trump and Netanyahu governments have a problem: How to start a greatly expanded Middle-Eastern war without having a justifiable reason for one.  No doubt they are working hard to solve this urgent problem.  If they can’t find a “justification” (which they can’t), they will have to create one (which they will).  Or perhaps they will find what they have already created.  Whatever the solution, we should feel confident that they are not sitting on their hands. History teaches those who care to learn that when aggressors place a gun on the wall in the first act of their play, it must go off in the final act.

These sinister players have signaled us quite clearly what they have in store.  All signs point toward an upcoming large-scale Israeli/U.S. attack on Lebanon and Syria, and all the sycophantic mainstream media are in the kitchen prepping for the feast.  Russia and Iran are the main course, with Lebanon and Syria, who will be devoured first, as the hors d’oeuvres.  As always, the media play along as if they don’t yet know what’s coming.  Everyone in the know knows what is, just not exactly when.  And the media wait with baited breath as they count down to the dramatic moment when they can report the incident that will compel the “innocent” to attack the “guilty.”

Anyone with half a brain can see the greatly increased anti-Russian propaganda of the past few weeks.  This has happened as the Russia-gate claims have fallen to pieces, as former CIA analyst Raymond McGovern, the late Robert Parry, Paul Craig Roberts, and others have documented so assiduously.  All across the media spectrum, from the big name corporate stenographers like The New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, The Washington Post to The Atlantic and Nation magazines and other “leftist” publications such as Mother Jones and Who What Why, the Russia and Putin bashing has become hysterical in tone, joined as it is with an anti-Trump obsession, as if Trump were a dear friend of Putin and Russia and wasn’t closely allied with the Netanyahu government in its plans for the Middle-East.  As if Trump were in charge.

“Russia Sees Midterm Elections as a Chance to Sow Fresh Discord (NY Times, 2/13), “Russia Strongman” (Putin) has “pulled off one of the greatest acts of political sabotage in modern history (The Atlantic, January /February 2018), “”Mueller’s Latest Indictment Shows Trump Has Helped Putin Cover Up a Crime” (Mother Jones, 2/16/18), “A Russian Sightseeing Tour For Realists” (whowhatwhy.com, 2/7/18), etc.

I am reminded of the turn to the right that so many “muckrakers” made during and after WW I.  Afraid of a revolt from below, bewitched by their own vision to articulate the world’s future, heady over their own war propaganda, and wanting to be on the safe side of the government crackdown on dissent (The Espionage Act, the Palmer Raids, etc.), many progressives of the era embraced a jingoism similar to the anti-Russia mania of today.

Only someone totally lacking a sense of humor and blind to propaganda would not laugh uproariously at today’s media nonsense about Russia, but such laughter would be infused with a foreboding awareness that as the Middle East explodes and U.S./NATO backed Kiev forces prepare to attack the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, the world is entering a very dangerous period.  And, of course, Trump has said, “The U.S. has great strength and patience but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”  Totally destroy 26 million human beings. While his bully buddy in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, recently said at the Munich Security Conference that Iran is “the greatest threat to the world,” compared it to Nazi Germany, and claimed it was developing ballistic missiles to strike deep into the United States.  “Iran seeks to dominate our region, the Middle East, and seeks to dominate the world through aggression and terror,” he said.  And he vowed to act against Iran and anyone who supported it – i.e. Lebanon and Syria (Russia).

Putin also, like all the mythic bogeymen, is portrayed as the new Hitler intent on conquering the world.  If the American public wasn’t so “sophisticated” and adept at seeing through lies – pause and laugh – we could expect some World War I posters with Russian soldiers (like The Huns), sharp teeth glistening, gorilla strong and beastly, holding American women in preparation for the kill or rape.  Last year, when Oliver Stone did the world the great service of releasing his four-part interview with Putin, he was bashed, of course.  Just as he was with his film JFK, the only movie in history to be reviewed and panned one year before its release by a Washington Post reviewer who didn’t see the movie but had a purloined preliminary script as his source.  The Washington Post: the object of the latest film drivel, The Post, portraying it falsely as the savior of the nation through the publication of the Pentagon Papers (which is another story).  The Washington Post – the CIA’s dear friend.

In his Putin interviews, Oliver Stone, a man of truth and honor, lets viewers catch a glimpse of the real Vladimir Putin.  Of course, Putin is a politician and the leader of a great and powerful nation, and one should receive his words skeptically. But watching Stone interview Putin for four hours, one comes away – but I doubt few have watched the four hours – with a reasonably good sense of the man.  And putting aside one’s impressions of him, he makes factual points that should ring loud and clear to anyone conversant with facts.  One: that the U.S. needs an external enemy (“I know that, I feel that.”). Two: the U.S.A. engineered the coup d’état in the Ukraine on Russia’s border.  Three: the U.S. has surrounded Russia with US/NATO troops and bases armed with anti-ballistic missiles that can, as Putin rightly says to Stone, be converted in hours to regular offensive nuclear missiles aimed at Russia.  This is a factual and true statement that should make any fair-minded person stand up in horror.  If Russia had such missiles encircling the United States from Cuba, Mexico, and Canada, what American would find it tolerable?  What would CNN and The New York Times have to say?  Yet these same people readily find it impossible to see the legitimacy in Russia’s position, resorting to name calling and illogical rhetoric.

Russia is surrounded with U.S/NATO troops and missiles and yet Russia is the aggressor.  So too Iran that is also surrounded.  These media are propagandists, that’s why.  They promote war, as they always have.  They are pushing for war with Russia via Syria/Lebanon/Iran and Ukraine, and they are nihilistically demonizing North Korea (as part of Obama’s pivot toward Asia and the encircling of China, as John Pilger has brilliantly documented in his film The Coming War on China) in what can only be called a conspiracy to commit genocide, as Dr. Graeme MacQueen and Christopher Black make clear in their Open Letter to the International Criminal Court.

We are moving toward a global war that will become nuclear if an international anti-war movement doesn’t quickly arise to stop it.  Most people bemoan the thought of such a war to end all wars, but refuse to analyze the factors leading to it. It happens step-by-step, and many steps have already been taken with more coming soon. It’s so obvious that most can’t see it, or don’t want to.  The corporate main stream media are enemies of the truth; are clearly part of the continuation of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, and those who still rely on them for the truth are beyond reach.

Douglas Valentine, in The CIA as Organized Crime, says the CIA has long aimed to use and co-opt the “Compatible Left, which in America translates into liberals and pseudo-intellectual status seekers who are easily influenced.”  And he adds that the propaganda is not just produced by the CIA but by the military, State Department, and red, white, and blue advertisements that are everywhere.  Nothing has changed since the Church Committee hearings in the 1970s.

Valentine adds:

All of that is ongoing, despite being exposed in the late 1960s.  Various technological advances, including the internet, have spread the network around the world, and many people don’t even realize they are part of it, that they’re promoting the CIA line.  “Assad’s a butcher,” they say, or “Putin kills journalists,” or “China is repressive.”  They have no idea what they’re talking about but spout all this propaganda.

William Blake said it truly in his poem “London“:

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear

How to break the chains – that is our task.

Try Learning Not to Ride a Bicycle So We Can Save the World

Who would study and describe the living, starts /By driving the spirits out of the parts: /In the palm of his hand he holds all the sections, /Lacks nothing, except the spirit’s connections.
— Mephistopheles warning to the student in Goethe’s Faust

And how far would you like to go in?” he asked and the three kings all looked at each other. “Not too far but just far enough so’s we can say that we’ve been there.
— Liner notes to Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album

— The shadow is what I am but will not admit I am.  For the shadow of the psyche involves me in a deepening self-recognition which is more humiliating and emptying than the normal limits of endurance.  In the end, acknowledging the shadow means acknowledging a bottomless void within me.  The initial question of truth-force is: How deeply will I acknowledge my own emptiness?
— James W. Douglass, Lightning East to West: Jesus, Gandhi, and the Nuclear Age

We are haunted by a specter.  Strange as it may sound, I was reminded of this when I saw a photograph of the quarterback of the Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles, Nick Foles, looking and pointing up to the heavens.  Or to be more precise, the roof of the aptly named U.S. Bank Stadium, a fitting venue for a national celebration of violence and the warfare state.  But if we can assume Foles’ gesture was meant to penetrate the roof and travel up to heaven, then you too may find it a bit odd, if touching.  Most people, as the poet Czeslaw Milosz has said, are ashamed to ask themselves a question about the implication of such a gesture.  “They have experienced the collapse of hierarchical space,” he writes, “and when they fold their hands and lift up their eyes, ‘up’ no longer exists.  Let no one say that religion can manage without such primitive directions to orient people.”

Modern science has brought this about.  And together with its models of reality, it has given us its technological child: nuclear weapons.  So now we live haunted by the shadowy thought that human beings, having assumed God’s mantle, can bring this world to an end in a flash.  As William Butler Yeats said in another context: “All changed; changed utterly.”  But while we live in these end-times, in a new symbolic universe, our sense of spiritual power to stop the nuclear madness has been sapped by our refusal to venture deep into the interior of this enigma and change our minds and spirits enough to change the world.  We seem stuck riding our bikes when we need to stop the world we think we know and experiment with truth at the deepest level.  We need a revolutionary spiritual transformation to give us faith and courage to counter the nihilists who wage endless wars for the American empire and threaten nuclear destruction at every turn.  Where can we find this inconceivable spiritual energy?

*****

I was thinking of this not long ago when something very strange happened to me. Six days previously I had written an article subtitled, “In Light and Shadows.”  On this particular morning I was sitting at the kitchen table contemplating that piece of writing and whether or not readers had grasped what I was trying to say by linking three very short stories that undulated like the flow of consciousness in waves of light and darkness.  The phone rang, and as I answered I stood up and looked out the window at a flaming red bush, it being the height of fall’s display of colors.  I heard my wife sobbing on the other end.  “My mother’s dying,” she cried.  “Oh no,” I replied, as I had an immediate flashback to my own mother dying five years earlier, and an inexplicably dark foreboding feeling gripped me.  For some reason I looked at my watch; it was 10:58 on Thursday morning.  In that instant, as I raised my eyes back to the blazing bush, I saw a sliver of a crescent dark shadow creep into the inner corner of my right eye as I listened to my wife tell me through her tears how her mother, who shared the name Rita with my mother, had turned a corner toward her death.  When she was done, I told her something strange had happened to my eye.

I had suffered a detached retina.

While I was fortunate to have excellent doctors for whom I’m very grateful, they were not very interested in my story of when the detachment occurred.  Their job, as they rightly saw it, was to repair my eye and the rest was speculation since they operate within a materialistic paradigm.  But as I recuperated, lying face down with my eyes closed for a few weeks, I had a lot of time to speculate (Latin, specere, to look at, view; pursuit of the truth by means of thinking).

As I lay there hour after hour, day after day, eyes closed, I found that what began as thinking turned into contemplation.  I had come to a dark place.  I had been stopped in my tracks.  The world I took for granted, my routine, my habitual way of seeing, my known world was stopped, and while shocked, I realized that I was given the gift of a revelatory experience if only I would accept it.  With my eyes down and closed, I had entered the temple of contemplation where images rose to my inner eye, and if I paid enough attention, they would lead me to a place of insight.

*****

As a sociologist, I teach my students that sociology is the study of our social habits of thought, speech, and action.  These habits or routines, which often become crystalized into myths and institutions, imprison us in ways we are loath to admit.  Our collective mental habits are so powerful because they lie far deeper than mere thought can reach, and therefore to break them is as difficult as learning how not to ride a bicycle after years of knowing how.  Where does one begin?

George Orwell once observed that “we have sunk to a depth at which re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”  Today restating the obvious doesn’t seem to make much difference.  At the level of the habits of group think and political and cultural propaganda, many of us have been trying to do that to little avail as the lies and deceptions of the U.S. power elites seem to win the day, day after day.  It is blatantly obvious that these people lie endlessly in their pursuit of an empire built of sand saturated with the blood of innocent victims at home and abroad.  Yet despite the obvious, and despite it being pointed out again and again, vast numbers of otherwise intelligent people continue to imbibe the myth that the “other side” (now the Democrats) will change the nihilistic trajectory of an evil capitalistic system leading to nuclear annihilation.  The naiveté is frightening as these people calmly ride their bicycles down the primrose path of death denial.

*****

As I lay contemplating the images that crossed my inner eye, I saw that we wear our social mental habits like shrouds that conceal the waking dead those habits have rendered us, sleepwalking prisoners marching toward oblivion.   But why?  Sure, the political propagandists are skilled at their work, having learned from and greatly superseded their mentor, Edward Bernays, in the tricks of the trade.  And the technology has made their job much easier, and the CIA and other intelligence services have their people throughout the mass media.  Yet something was missing in this explanation, a deeper explanation.  It was then I again realized that there are different paradigms or experiences of reality operating in the world.  The prevailing one today sees only a world of things, a material world that includes people and animals, a billiard ball world where surfaces without centers careen around in physical cause-and-effect determined movements.  In this world the story of how my retina became detached is perhaps somewhat weirdly interesting but “just coincidental.”  I suspected that my good doctors, if we met for a drink, would still hold firm to their habitual paradigms of physical cause and effect.  They would have a very difficult time trying not to ride their bikes.

*****

Another way of seeing is provided by Owen Barfield, English philosopher and poet, one of the most neglected and original thinkers of the twentieth century, who countered the superficiality of our materialistic collective thinking with these words:

The real world, the whole world, does not consist only of the things of which we are conscious; it       consists also of the consciousness and subconsciousness that are correlative to them.  They are the immaterial component of the world.  But today the only immaterial element our mental habit acknowledges is our own little spark of self-consciousness.  That is why we feel detached, isolated, cut off not only from the world as it really is, but also from those other little sparks of detached self-consciousness we acknowledge in our fellow human beings.

Imprisoned in our isolated minds and failing to grasp the interpenetration of mind and matter, thought and feeling, a sequence of forms and patterns changing into other forms, Barfield argues that we end up treating not only other people and ourselves as things, but all of nature, including animals, as inanimate objects to be used.  The world becomes a place for necrophiliacs, not the home of living interconnected spirits.  In such a world schizoid experience becomes commonplace.  In such a crazy world, “what the self of each of us feels isolated from, cut off from, by its encapsulation in the naked physical reality presented to it by contemporary culture, is precisely its own existential source.”  Such a physically encapsulated self is a false self without reality.  It is no wonder that the use of drugs of every kind has risen exponentially, the earth despoiled, wars waged constantly, and nuclear weapons prepared to blow the planet to smithereens.

*****

I had been thrown off my bicycle and then my doctors got me up again.  Of course, I was so thankful for their medical expertise, but I needed to try to not ride the same old bike.  How could I break the habit, and of what did the habit consist.  I didn’t want to say that I had gone not too far in but just far enough to say I’d been there.  In where?  During the days when I strictly, almost obsessively, followed my doctor’s advice and, despite the great discomfort, lay immobile, face down, eyes closed, I found myself deep in a prison that seemed to open out into a place of fear and freedom simultaneously.  Although I wasn’t looking around and needed help with simple things, which my wife so kindly provided me, I experienced a weird sense of concentrated power from within the terrible vulnerability I felt.  I am trying not to exaggerate, but this sense of power in vulnerability was very real.  I had no interest in listening to the two books on tape I had; Tolstoy and James Baldwin seemed like intruders.  They would distort the vision of what I was sensing.  I think at its heart was a core of emptiness and powerlessness, which in the oddest of ways made me feel very powerful, as though all my teaching and writing and efforts to help others and make the world a better place and give advice and try to change people were useless and arrogant, but that their uselessness was their usefulness, and in accepting that I was embracing an essential truth.

Earlier in my life I had numerous very profound experiences with synchronicity that had convinced me that our consensual reality conceals a level of truth rarely felt because of the power of habit.  But these experiences had been all positive and had left me feeling amazed but powerful.  One even involved the power of a look I gave another. The power of my eyes.  This latest one was different since it frightened me and made me vulnerable.  Telling you all this makes me feel doubly vulnerable, but now I don’t care.  I now know why I have long wanted to make a word my own but never could.  The word is insouciant.  Somehow it has become me more since this latest experience.

*****

We are ruled by people who think they have everything under their control, including the nuclear weapons that are the ultimate expression of the hubris emanating from Einstein’s equation of E = mc2, the unimaginable amount of energy contained in a particle of matter.  Those who brandish nuclear weapons operate within a consensual reality that is a form of madness, and these madmen will incinerate us all unless they are opposed by a force equal to that they brandish.  How can we stop them?

In his extraordinary book, Lightning East to West, Jesus, Gandhi, and the Nuclear Age, James. W. Douglass, suggests that there is such a force and a way to stop this holocaust.  It lies within you and me.  He says:

Is there a spiritual reality, inconceivable to us today, which corresponds in history to the physical reality which Einstein discovered and which led to the atomic bomb?  Einstein discovered a law of physical change : the way to convert a single particle of matter into enormous physical energy.  Might there not also be, as Gandhi suggested, an equally incredible and undiscovered law of spiritual change, whereby a single person or small community of persons could be converted into an enormous spiritual energy capable of transforming a society and a world?  I believe that there is , that there must be, a spiritual reality corresponding to E = mc2 because, from the standpoint of creative harmony, the universe is incomplete without it, and because, from the standpoint of moral freedom, humankind is sentenced to extinction without it.

*****

I believe it too.  It arises in the hearts and minds of those totally committed to the truth no matter where it leads, and the passion to suffer it, even when it makes them look foolish.  “A man needs a little madness, or else….he never dares cut the rope and be free,” Zorba tells the boss in Nikos Kazantzakis’s Zorba the Greek.

So let’s try learning not to ride our bicycles so we can save ourselves and the world.

The Fear Driving US Nuclear Strategy

The United States Department of Defense released its latest ‘Nuclear Posture Review 2018‘ (NPR) on 2 February, updating the last one issued in 2010 during the previous administration.

The Executive Summary of the NPR is also available, if you prefer.

Several authors have already thoughtfully exposed a phenomenal variety of obvious lies, invented threats, strategic misconceptions and flaws – such as the fallacious thinking behind ‘deterrence’ and significantly increased risk of nuclear war given the delusional ‘thinking’ in the document – as well as the political fear-mongering in the NPR. For example, eminent scholar Professor Paul Rogers has pointed out: ‘The risk now is that we are on a slippery slope towards “small nuclear wars in far-off places”, which themselves could either escalate or at the very least break the 70+ year taboo on treating nuclear weapons as useable.’

Stephen Lendman has reminded us that US ‘defense spending far exceeds what Russia, China, Iran and other independent countries spend combined’ and that the US ‘nuclear arsenal and delivery systems can destroy planet earth multiple times over’ with the document suggesting ‘preparation for nuclear war’. Moreover, the NPR ‘falsely claims the nation must address “an unprecedented range and mix of threats” posed by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and other countries’ and this despite the incontrovertible fact that no nation has threatened US security since World War II and none threatens it now.

He further points out that the NPR’s claim that there is ‘an unprecedented range and mix of threats, including major conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, space, and cyber threats, and violent nonstate actors’ is ‘utter rubbish’ and that ‘America’s rage for endless wars of aggression, along with its rogue allies, poses the only serious threat to world peace and stability.’

Even Andrew C. Weber, an assistant defense secretary during the Obama administration, has warned that ‘Almost everything about this radical new policy will blur the line between nuclear and conventional’ and ‘will make nuclear war a lot more likely.’

Despite the obvious belligerence in the document, we are supposed to believe, according to words in the NPR, that ‘The United States remains committed to its efforts in support of the ultimate global elimination of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons’ despite the US denunciation of the ‘UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ negotiated by 122 countries just a few months ago in mid-2017.

Presumably, we are supposed to have shorter memories than members of the US administration or to be even more terrified and unintelligent than are they. This would be difficult.

Rather than further critique the document, which several authors have done admirably, I would like to explain my observation immediately above.

Let me start by explaining why those who formulated the current US nuclear strategy, wrote the Nuclear Posture Review, now promote it and are responsible for implementing it, are utterly terrified and quite delusional, and constitute a threat to human civilization.

The NPR is full of language such as this:

There now exists an unprecedented range and mix of threats, including major conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, space, and cyber threats, and violent nonstate actors. These developments have produced increased uncertainty and risk.

Are these individuals, notably including Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense General Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, Chief of Staff Marine General John Kelly and National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster, really frightened of countries such as Iran (with its non-existent nuclear arsenal) or North Korea (with its handful of ‘primitive’ nuclear weapons and inadequate delivery systems)? Or are they really frightened of countries such as Russia and China, whose nuclear arsenals pale in comparison to that of the United States and whose strategic posture in any case is decidedly non-aggressive (particularly towards the United States) despite its ongoing provocations of them?

Are US government leaders really so terrified of possible conventional, chemical, biological, space and cyber attacks that they need to threaten nuclear annihilation should it occur?

Well, the answer to each of these questions is that Trump, Mattis, Kelly, McMaster and other US political and military leaders are, indeed, terrified.

However, they are projecting their obvious terror away from its original source and onto a ‘safe’ and ‘approved’ target so that they can behave in accordance with their terror. They do this because the original cause of their terror – their parents and/or other significant adults in their childhood – never allowed them to feel their terror and to direct and express it safely and appropriately.

Unfortunately, and in this case potentially catastrophically, this dysfunctional behavioural response to deeply suppressed terror cannot ‘work’ either personally or politically for the individuals concerned. Let me explain why.

Evolution devised an extraordinarily powerful response to threats: it gave many organisms, including human beings, the emotion of fear to detect threats as well as other tools that can be used in conjunction with fear to respond powerfully to threats. Hence, in response to a threat, humans are meant to feel their fear and, while doing so, engage other feelings, conscience and intelligence so that the source of the threat can be accurately identified and the most powerful and effective behavioural response to that threat can be devised and implemented. In simple language: We need our fear to tell us we are under threat and to play a part in defending ourselves. In evolutionary terms, this was highly functional.

If, however, during childhood, the fear is suppressed because the individual is too frightened to feel it (usually because their parents deny them a safe opportunity to do so), then they will be unconsciously compelled to project their fear onto those who pose no threat (precisely because these people do not immobilize them with terror) and to endlessly seek to control these people (during childhood this usually means their younger siblings and/or friends, and during adulthood it usually means people of another sex, race, class, religion or nation) so that they can gain relief from experiencing their suppressed (childhood) fear.

The relief, of course, is delusionary. But once someone is terrified, it is not possible for them to behave functionally or powerfully. They will live in a world of delusion and projection, endlessly blaming those who they (unconsciously) project to be a threat precisely because these people are not frightening and not a threat and seem more likely to be able to be ‘controlled’.

This projection and behaviour happen all of the time, both in personal interactions and geopolitically, but it doesn’t usually threaten imminent annihilation, even if, to choose another example, it endlessly and perhaps disastrously impedes efforts to tackle the environmental and other assaults on our biosphere.

It is because parents are frightened to feel and experience their own fear that they also fear their child’s fear and they act (consciously or unconsciously, depending on the context) to prevent the child from feeling this fear, perhaps by doing something as simple as reassuring them.

However, parents also use a variety of methods to distract their child from feeling their feelings. They might offer the child a toy or food to distract them. But another important way in which fear is suppressed is by teaching children to use play as a distraction from having their feelings. This fear might then remanifest in the form of the child wanting others to play with them but particularly by doing so in a game of their choosing and over which they have control (so that they can ensure that their fear is not raised).

Once the child has learned to use gaining control over play to distract themselves from their terror, it might well become a lifetime addiction, subsequently manifesting as a dysfunctional desire for control within a family or perhaps even economically, politically or militarily.

Unfortunately, as some of these children grow up and the nature of their ‘game’ changes, the outcome can have deadly consequences. This is simply because there is never any guarantee that others will submit willingly to control by others. And, if they do not, this can trigger the original person’s (unconscious) terror ‘necessitating’ action – a higher-risk strategy in an attempt to secure this higher degree of control over others – to resuppress their terror.

However, for example, even if the terrified person ends up owning a major corporation and exercising a great degree of control over employees, markets and possibly countries, the terror driving their delusional need for control can never be satisfied. But the same principle applies in other domains as well, including the political and military.

And in the most dangerous collective manifestation of this major psychological disorder, the current US political/military leadership, which has been effectively merged by Trump’s appointment of military generals to his political staff, we now have the situation where a collection of individuals who are terrified and also project their dysfunctional desire for control onto other nations, are willing to threaten (and use) nuclear weapons in a delusionary attempt to feel (personally) ‘in control’.

It is little wonder that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight!

So what can we do?

Well, I would tackle the problem at several levels and I invite you to consider participating in one or more of these.

To help prevent this problem from emerging at its source, you are welcome to consider making ‘My Promise to Children.’ This will play a vital role in ensuring that children do not grow up suppressing their fear.

Given the extraordinary emotional and other damage inflicted by school, you might consider educational opportunities for your child(ren) outside that framework.

If you suspect that you are not as powerful as you would like, you might consider ‘Putting Feelings First‘ so that you can learn to behave with awareness – a synthesis of all of the feedback that your various mental functions give you and the judgments that arise, in an integrated way, from this feedback. This will enable you to love yourself truly and always courageously act out your own self-will, whatever the consequences.

If you wish to work against the many threats, including military threats, to our environment simultaneously, you are welcome to join those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

And if you wish to be part of efforts to end violence and war, including the threat of nuclear annihilation, you are welcome to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘ and/or using sound nonviolent strategy for your campaign or liberation struggle.

Our world is poised perilously on the brink of catastrophic nuclear war. This has happened because we have given responsibility for holding the nuclear trigger to a handful of men who, emotionally speaking, are terrified little boys cowering from the imaginary threat of the bogeyman under their bed.

There is no easy way back from this brink. But you can help, both now and in the future, by doing one or more of the suggestions above.

Two Minutes to Doomsday

Not since 1953, when the U.S. and the Soviets exploded thermonuclear bombs, has the world been such a powder keg!

Only recently, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock forward 30 seconds. It now registers two minutes to midnight. Verily, it’s lights out when the clock strikes 12:00 midnight. Ka-boom, it’s over!

What’s going on?

Hitherto, in the aftermath of the Cold War, the clock was set all the way back to 17 minutes to midnight. Thereafter, it wasn’t until 1998, when India and Pakistan staged back-to-back nuclear weapon testing, that the famous timepiece moved forward into single digits once again. It’s important to note that resetting the clock is not a frivolous undertaking. A group of distinguished scientists make that decision.

Here’s the rationale for the move closer to the dreaded midnight hour: Upon the election of Trump, the Science and Security Board for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reset the Doomsday Clock to 2 ½ minutes to midnight. That was based upon extraordinarily provocative nasty destabilizing verbiage from the president himself. Indeed, he is commander in chief, ahem.

Thereafter, following the self-crowning glory of Trump’s inauguration, which was an absolute bust, especially as worldwide protests in the streets vastly outnumbered the inauguration, global risks have measurably increased with leaders Trump and Kim exchanging simplistic infantile barbs at every opportunity.

Not only, it’s also a fact that global risks have compounded via U.S.-Russian relations, featuring more conflict than cooperation, as the two Super Powers crank up tensions: (1) continuing NATO military exercises along borders, (2) undermining the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, (3) upgrading nuclear arsenals, and (4) eschewing arms-control negotiations. Truly, America is in conflict within all categories that ricochet into holocaust.

On a Global basis, tensions have increased over the South China Sea. Pakistan and India continue building larger nuclear weapon arsenals. And, in the Middle East, the U.S. is driving a stake into the heart of the Iranian nuclear deal.  Meanwhile, and increasingly so, cyber threats risk outages of infrastructure power grids and water sources.

Exasperating this perilous world scenario, there is the real threat of fundamental breakdown in the international order because of U.S. behavior, torpedoing trustworthiness amongst nations whilst also undermining, and, in fact, ridiculing, a very sober Paris 2015 climate accord.  In point of fact, U. S. leadership has turned deceptive and unreliable to predict or discern between sincerity and mere rhetoric, inter-meshed within goofy twitter messages. Confusion and conflicting policy statements confront allies with despair.

Further endangering the world community, it is all too evident that the Trump administration is true grit for neoliberal spirits. In fact, it is speculated that if the Science and Security Board for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists computed risks of holocaust based upon the tenets behind rampant neoliberal capitalism, the clock would be reset to one minute before midnight. Indeed, especially under Trump, and especially with a big tax cut combined with rejection of any effort whatsoever to tame global warming. The biosphere is at a heighten level of risk under Trump.

The case can be made that the planet is at peak risk because of neoliberal socio-politico-economic policies that are equal in weight to the threat of nuclear holocaust. Neoliberal capitalism runs roughshod over the social contract and ignores ecological responsibility. For certain, there is no profit to be found in social contracts or ecological caretaking.

As a result, after 35 years of hardcore neoliberalism, the ecosystem is exhausted, frayed, and starting to collapse. Indeed, neoliberal principles of privatization of public assets, rugged individualism, and free-market dicta scrunch every class below the one percent whilst tossing aside ecological concerns into the gutter. Similar to a hefty steamroller, neoliberal ascendency literally flattens the social contract and tosses aside care for the biosphere.

The brand spanking new tax cut leveled at propping up corporations and the super rich exposes $1.5T in new governmental debt. Ipso facto, government must be cut to the bone to satisfy Republican dogma. Hence, the middling classes will be screwed, as the poor get decimated. Socially conscious and ecologically beneficial government will be, and is already, ripped apart. The checks and balances that keep the ecosystem humming, like the EPA, are systematically ravaged via executive order whilst giving the finger to the Paris 2015 climate accord.

This ongoing massive unraveling of guardianship for the ecosystem is smack dab in the crosshairs of a mean-spirited Ayn Rand-type conspiracy, taking full control over America. Rule via decadence is taking America back to late 19th century socio-politico-economic principles, “when men will be men.” As it happens, Trump is turning loose the most boorish elements of the transnational elite.

Meanwhile, the planet simmers with overheating symptoms, and emits an orang-ish glow because of massive chemical saturation, threatening civilization down to its core. The biosphere can ill afford the world’s largest economy rejecting remedial efforts. If the Science and Security Board for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists gave equal weight to ecosystem debasement as it does nuclear threats, the Atomic Clock would bust a spring.

Alas, because of excessive levels of CO2 emitted by humans with resultant global warming, which the Trump group exacerbates, the planet is weak in the knees, especially where people don’t see it, as for example,  (1) The all-important Atlantic ocean conveyor belt circulation pattern, aka: Thermohaline, has already started to slow down way ahead of schedule because of global warming, (2) Oceans have lost 40% of plankton production over the past 50 years, threatening loss of one of the major sources of oxygen for the planet, (3) In 2017, the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone, where oxygen is so weak that fish die, is the largest ever at 8,800 square miles, (4) Kelp Forests in the ocean, the equivalent of terrestrial Rain Forest, are being wiped out from Tasmania to California, (5) Greenland experienced total surface melt for the first time in scientific history, (6) The massive Arctic meltdown threatens runaway global warming (“RGW”) as methane hydrates are exposed, bringing in its wake burn-out agriculture, (7) Irreversible Antarctica ice sheet collapse has commenced.

But still, overshadowing all threats to civilization, positive climate feedbacks are starting to influence the global warming process, meaning the planet itself is on autopilot, emitting one molecule of CO2 via hands-free positive feedbacks for every two molecules of CO2 emitted by human activity.1 This one fact alone is reason enough to move the Doomsday Clock much, much, much closer to midnight.

Postscript:  “There are growing signs that the Pentagon and the CIA are pressing ahead with preparations for a preemptive war against North Korea, including the use of nuclear weapons. There have been multiple reports in the American corporate media of behind-the-scenes discussions between the US military and intelligence apparatus and the Trump administration of the feasibility of a so-called “bloody nose” attack, involving US air strikes on North Korean nuclear facilities, with the expectation—however ill-founded—that they would not provoke a full-scale war.2

  1. Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
  2. Alex Lockie, news editor, Business Insider: “US Stealth Bombers in Guam Appear to be Readying for a Tactical Nuclear Strike on North Korea,” Defend Democracy Press, January 28, 2018.

Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March

There is one thing missing from the upcoming Women’s March publicity and philosophy: the urgent need for Peace not War!

The March will speak out against hate, discrimination and exploitation. That’s good.

The March will also speak out strongly in favor of equality, women’s reproductive choice and respect for all people regardless to disability, gender, orientation, etc.. That’s also good.

But the subject of US military aggression and war is essential. We hope that many marchers will include this in their signage and discussions.  Despite many antiwar groups and individuals actively advocating for “peace” to be in the platform/demands of the March, this is the second year peace is being minimized or ignored by the organizers.

For the past century the US has intervened aggressively against governments the Washington establishment does not like. A partial list includes Philippines, Korea, Guatemala, Iran, Cuba, Chile, Vietnam, Angola, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela, Honduras, Libya and Syria!

These acts of “regime change” have killed millions of people including many thousands of our own youth, both women and men. They have resulted in hundreds of thousands returning home injured physically or psychologically. Mothers, wives, sisters, aunts, and other family and friends have been profoundly, permanently, and unnecessarily handed a lifetime of pain and sorrow because of the US war machine.

Shouldn’t it be a priority to change the policies and acts of economic aggression and military intervention that result in violence, war and destruction?

Shouldn’t we address the causes of the refugee crisis as well as the symptom? After all, most refugees never wanted to leave their homelands.

We are sure that most of the women and allies who will be attending the Women’s March agree with us on the need for action and protest against our ongoing wars.

The escalating military budget is driving our country further and further into debt. Meanwhile infrastructure is decaying, health care and housing is diminishing and education is underfunded. College students now graduate with astronomical student debt. Meanwhile there is growing police oppression.

We must include PEACE in our march because unless we can stop the trend, a nuclear war is going to destroy civilization.  There is no such thing as a winnable nuclear war. Resisting the war machine and dismantling ALL nukes should be essential elements in our activism. The continuity of human life on our planet is at stake. These are Womens’ issues.

As we demand a change in tone and behaviour in the White House, we must also demand a change in US international foreign policy away from militarism and aggression.

The demand for peace not war should be integral to the Women’s March.