Category Archives: Somalia

A Political Renaissance in Ethiopia: What should change look like?

This is an extraordinary time in Ethiopia’s history, a time of tremendous opportunity and hope. Long overdue reforms initiated by Prime-Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took office on 2nd April 2018, offer the prospect that democracy and social unity could at last become a reality in the country.

Before PM Ahmed took office Ethiopia was ruled by one of the most violent and repressive regimes in the world; freedom of the media, freedom of expression and assembly, political dissent and the judiciary, were all tightly controlled by the TPLF regime, which had been in power since 1991. Miraculously, all of this has now changed, and within a very short space of time, it offers hope not only for Ethiopia, but for the region and the wider world.

The new governments reform program has three main ‘pillars’ as they are called: 1. A vibrant democracy. 2. Economic vitality. 3. Regional integration and openness to the world. All very general and nothing extraordinary, but positive actions have followed and good will built. If democratic change can occur in Ethiopia it can take place anywhere, but, over and above the obvious elements, such as the observation of human rights, political pluralism, freedom of the media, independent judiciary etc., what should that change look like?

Impressive start

After undertaking a nationwide tour in which he stressed the need for forgiveness and reconciliation, PM Ahmed and his team swiftly began work. All exiled opposition parties were invited to return to Ethiopia and engage in dialogue, thousands of ‘political’ prisoners were released, including all journalists; the torture chamber known as Maekelawi Prison in Addis Ababa was closed, constitutional amendments were announced to limit the length of time anyone could hold the office of prime-minister, and the draconian state of emergency was lifted. The PM met the Eritrean president and began discussions to end the twenty-year conflict, and in a broader sign of how this cooperative approach is impacting on the region, the Djibouti and Somalia authorities have since held peace talks with Eritrea.

A series of historic actions followed: the military occupation of the Ogaden or Somali region has been brought to an end, all prisoners held in the notorious Jail Ogaden released and the prison closed down. A new regional president, Mustapha Omer, who was critical of the region’s authoritarian leadership, was appointed. A new cabinet was announced and gender parity established. Women now hold the two key security positions – defense and the Ministry of Peace, which oversees the police, the intelligence services and the information security agency. All this and more within months of assuming office. Remarkable by any standards. It shows what can be achieved if and when the political will exists.

While the new government attempts to build unity and social harmony, there are others, bitter remnants of the past that continue to work to aggravate ethnic divisions and ferment violence. As a result of inter-communal conflict there are estimated to be over two million internally displaced people in the country. Other than providing some humanitarian aid, the federal government has done nothing to relocate these people, whose homes have been destroyed. This is a national emergency and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

What kind of democracy?

Despite a decade of economic growth averaging 10% per annum, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world and ranks 173rd out of 186 countries on the UN Human Development Index. Around 26% of the population lives in extreme poverty (less than $2 a day), and a much larger percentage struggle to survive on under $5 a day. While the government claims that 50% of the population has been lifted out of dire poverty in recent years, the principle beneficiaries of growth have been those in high office and the already comfortable few. With growth the cost of living has rocketed, food, accommodation and transport prices have all increased dramatically, impacting on the poorest sections of society.

Whether in Ethiopia or elsewhere in the world, sharing is key to overcoming poverty and establishing social justice; sharing wealth, resources, skills and knowledge based on need. Sharing also cultivates trust, encourages cooperation and helps to build peaceful communities. Participation is a form of sharing and a cornerstone of democracy.

In addition to poverty, within the catalogue of challenges facing the new government, health care and education stand out, as well as environmental issues – Addis Ababa e.g. is the third most polluted city in Africa, after Cairo and Casablanca.

As Ethiopia enters into what Prime-Minister Ahmed describes as a ‘political renaissance’, the opportunity to discuss what kind of nation it wishes to become presents itself; what values and ideals should be pursued, what methods employed? In the demonstrations that brought down the previous regime protesters cried out for democracy, for freedom and justice. In response the government’s first reform ‘pillar’ calls for the creation of a ‘vibrant democracy’. What form should that democracy take?

The corporate state democracy of the west, in which political power is married to economic wealth, is a far cry from true democracy. While a level of freedom exists and, in some countries, civil society is strong, there is no social justice and participation by employees in the workplace, students in education and the general public in politics is weak or non-existent. Western democracy has been conditioned by government’s ideological devotion to an economic system rooted in competition and commercialization. It is a model that has failed the vast majority of people and poisoned the planet. True democratic values such as tolerance, sharing, understanding of others, cooperation and kindness, are incompatible with the ideals of the market – profit at any cost – human or environmental, separation, personal success, greed.

So, what type of democratic country do the people of Ethiopia and their government want to create, and, given the international pressure to conform to the economic stereotype, do they have any choice? Listening to the PM’s speech at the World Economic Forum it would appear not. He made clear his government’s intention to embrace the Neoliberal circus; he sounded more like the CEO of a medium-size electronics company looking for investors, rather than a national leader. Perhaps the audience conditioned his remarks, but there was no real vision, other than the usual economic ambitions; it was all disappointingly familiar.

Like all of sub-Saharan Africa the population of Ethiopia is young, the median age is just 18, around 60% of the country is under 25. More children are attending schools than ever and although Internet connectivity is poor and until recently access was heavily restricted, young people are in touch with the wider world in a way that was not possible for previous generations. Hundreds of thousands of under 25 year olds took part in public protests, which began in November 2015 and led to the collapse of the government. They risked their lives for change, they deserve more than a market led democracy.

This is a truly historic time for Ethiopia, general elections are scheduled to take place in 2020, between now and then the opportunity exists for a national debate to take place. For too long the people were silenced, now their voices must be heard. Platforms within the media – state and independent – in universities, schools and within the church, need to be established that allow the community as a whole and young people in particular, to express their views and share their aspirations for the future of their country and indeed the wider region.

Ethiopia: A Case Study in Take-Over by Western Interests

Ethiopia is a landlocked country, bordering on Somalia which is dominating the Horn of Africa. Due to several border conflicts during the past decades with Somalia, many of them supportive of Ethiopia by the US military, the border between the two countries has become porous and ill-defined. Ethiopia is also bordering on Djibouti, where the United States has a Naval Base, Camp Lemonnier, next to Djibouti’s international airport. The base is under AFRICOM, the Pentagon’s African Command. AFRICOM has its boots in Ethiopia, as it does in many other African countries.

Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has already demonstrated that he is poised to hand over his country to western interests, vultures, such as the World Bank, IMF and eventually the globalized Wall Street banking clan. In fact, it looks like these institutions were instrumental in manipulating parliamentary maneuvers, with arm-twisting of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to make Mr. Abyi the new Prime Minister, succeeding Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn, who rather suddenly was forced to resign in February 2018, amidst endless foreign induced protests and violent street demonstrations. With EPRDF Ethiopia is a de facto one-party state. EPRDF is a coalition of different regional representations.

Read also Ethiopia – Breaking the Dam for Western Debt Slavery

Proud Ethiopia has never been colonized by western powers, per se, except for a brief Italian military occupation (1935 – 1939) by Mussolini. And now, in the space of a few months, since Mr. Abiy’s ascent to power, the country is being enslaved by the new western colonial instruments, the so-called international development institutions, the World Bank, IMF – and others will follow.

Mr. Abiy is an Oromo leader; Oromia being a disputed area between Ethiopia and Somalia. The latter is effectively controlling the Horn of Africa, overseeing the Gulf of Aden (Yemen) and the entire Iran-controlled Persian Gulf area. Control over the Horn of Africa is on Washington’s strategic wish list and may have become an attainable target, with the Oromo leader and new PM, Abiy Ahmed.

Think about it. Yemen, another ultra-strategic location, being bombed to ashes by the Saudis on behalf of the western powers, primarily the US and the UK, being subdued for domination by the west wanting to control the Gulf area, foremost Iran and her riches. On the other hand, Ethiopia, a prime location as an assault basis for drones, war planes and ships.

Curiously, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a former rebel leader, elected in 1991 and in power for 21 years, died suddenly at age 57 in August 2012, while actually recovering from an undisclosed illness in a hospital abroad, allegedly from an infection – according to official Ethiopian state television. He was succeeded by Mr. Hailemariam, who last February had to resign.

In the same vein of strange events – events to reflect on – PM Zenawi, about 18 months before he died, signed on 31 March 2011 a no-bid contract for US$ 4.8 billion with ‘Salini Costruttori’, alias Salini Impregilo. The Italian company, well established in Ethiopia since 1957, is responsible for the construction of the controversial “Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam”, formerly the Millennium Dam on the Nile. When finished, it will be African’s largest artificial water reservoir with a capacity of 74 billion m3.

Under construction since 2011, this gravity dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz Region, about 15 km from the Sudanese border, is expected to produce 6.45 gigawatts which will make it the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa and the 7th largest in the world. The works are about two thirds completed, and the dam will take from 5 to 15 years to fill up.

The project was fiercely contested by Egypt which claimed that the dam would reduce the agreed amount of Nile water flowing into Egypt. However, Prime Minister Zenawi argued that the dam would not reduce the downstream flow, and – in addition to generating hydropower and making Ethiopia Africa’s largest electricity exporter, would help regulate irrigation, thus, helping to avert Ethiopia’s notorious droughts and famines that kill regularly tens of thousands of people. Indications are that this dam project could become an economic “power house” for Ethiopia, a country otherwise known as impoverished and destitute.

This water flow conflict between Ethiopia and Egypt was discussed in numerous meetings and conferences of the World Bank sponsored Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), encompassing ten riparian countries (Burundi, D.R. Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda); and about 350 – 400 million people. It is not clear whether the dispute was ever satisfactorily settled.

Mr. Zenawi’s successor, PM Hailemariam Desalegn, continued with the project unchallenged and unchanged until his sudden resignation earlier this year. At the end of August 2018, in a surprise move, the new PM, Abiy Ahmed, ousted the dam project’s subcontractor, METEC, under the pretext of numerous work delays. METEC is a state enterprise run by the Ethiopian military. According to several insider accounts, there were never any complaints about project delays caused by METEC. The new sub-contract was to be awarded to a foreign private company.

Simultaneously, in another alarming occurrence, on 26 August 2018, Mr. Simegnew Bekele, the chief engineer and project manager of the controversial dam, was found murdered, shot to death, in his Landcruiser in an Addis Ababa parking lot.

The series of events, starting from the signing of the dam project in 2011, to the sudden death of then PM Zenawi a year later, the resignation of his successor, Mr. Hailemariam, earlier this year, the hasty appointment of the neoliberal PM Abiy Ahmed in February 2018, the assassination of the dam’s project manager in August 2018 – all this looks like well-orchestrated, with a few hiccups in between that were rapidly ironed out – to pave the way for a neoliberal, corporate and maybe foreign military take-over of this once proudly independent country, an African nation with a potentially prosperous future.

This leads to the other side of the same coin, the west is interested in.

With a population of about 104 million (2018 est.), Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Sub-Saharan Africa and one of the most densely populated ones, with an annual population growth rate of about 2.5%. Ethiopia is known for endemic poverty and her periodic droughts. Ethiopia is also the world’s second fastest growing non-oil economy (after Bhutan), having increased her GDP more than ten-fold since 2000, from US$ 8 billion to US$ 80.6 billion in 2017, however, with a nominal GDP of only US$850, or US$2,100 PPP (Purchasing Power Parity).

Agriculture contributes about 36% to GDP, indicating a considerable growth potential with regulated irrigation expected to emanate from the Renaissance Dam project. Economic expansion amounted to more than 10% in 2017 and is projected at close to 9% per year through 2019.

This economic profile, plus the potential increase in output from the Grand Renaissance Dam, offer more than fertile grounds for corporate exploitation through debt enslavement and privatization of public, civil and social services. This has already started. Ethiopia’s current debt is a modest 33.5% of GDP but is predicted to grow to at least 70% by 2022. Why?

In November 2017 the World Bank has committed US$ 4.7 billion over the coming 5 years, roughly a billion per year  which may be called blank checks. These funds are destined for structural adjustment type activities, for loosely defined and little controlled budget support measures, much of which, as worldwide experience shows, is likely to ‘disappear’ unproductively, leaving behind public debt, and what’s much worse, a plethora of austerity conditions, from cutting public employment, to privatization of water, electricity and other public services, as well as ‘land-grabbing’ type agricultural concessions to foreign agricultural enterprises.

The latter will be especially attractive, thanks to the new regulated irrigation potential, making Ethiopia’s desert fertile – but leaving hardly any additional food at affordable prices for the impoverished population in the country. Frequently such land concessions come with long-term GMO contracts attached. Bayer-Monsanto may already be a player in Ethiopia’s future agricultural sector. If so, the country may not only be enslaved by debt, but also by endless, oppressive, land-destructive GMO contracts that bear high risks for human health.

Such a WB commitment will usually be followed by an IMF intervention, both of which will serve as leverage for further debt from private banking and corporate investors. The modest 2017 debt ratio of about one third to GDP may explode and skyrocket in the near future, making Ethiopia the Greece of Africa, shamelessly exploited and “milked” to the bones by western corporate and financial interests.

Fortunately, there are other economic interests alive in Africa and especially in Ethiopia. There is, for example, China, for whom Ethiopia is a key partner and a linchpin for President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive China-initiated infrastructure development plan, spanning the globe from east to west, via different routes, one of them via Africa. Although China has become cautious over the past years with direct investments in Ethiopia, mainly due to the lasting unrest, said to be over ‘territorial issues’, Ethiopia remains an important partner, because of its strategic location next to the tiny port of Djibouti, where China has a naval base. Ethiopia is also attractive for manufacturing with low-cost labor and because of her transport links to other African countries and a potentially large consumer market.

Chinese, Russian and other eastern investments are usually based on mutual benefits, in contrast to the western one-sided exploitation method. Hopefully, Chinese, Russian and other eastern investments may continue as a strong counter-balance to the west, and help bringing a more equitable development model not only to Ethiopia, but to the African Continent in general. In fact, recent statements by the leaders of South Africa, Ghana and Rwanda have praised Chinese investments over the western abusive ‘carrot and stick approach’. With the help of China, Russia and other eastern investors, Ethiopia might prevent western vultures from devouring the poverty struck nation and from falling into the trap of neoliberal, everything-goes “free market ideology” to the detriment of the Ethiopian population.

•  First published in New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

Canada’s Military shapes Coverage of Deployments

To the military, shaping media coverage of deployments is what roasting a marshmallow is to a summer camper’s S’mores; there isn’t one without the other.

Even before beginning a small “peacekeeping” mission the Canadian forces’ have an elaborate media strategy.

At the end of June Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance brought journalists with him on a visit to Mali. They toured the facilities in Gao where an advance team was preparing for Canada’s UN deployment to the African nation. An Ottawa Citizen headline described Vance’s trip as part of an effort at “selling the public on the Mali mission.”

The tour for journalists was followed by a “technical briefing” on the deployment for media in Ottawa. “No photography, video or audio recording for broadcast purposes” was allowed at last week’s press event, according to the advisory. Reporters were to attribute information to “a senior government” official. But, the rules were different at a concurrent departure ceremony in Trenton. “Canadian Armed Forces personnel deploying to Mali are permitted to give interviews and have their faces shown in imagery”, noted the military’s release.

None of these decisions are haphazard. With the largest PR machine in the country, the military has hundreds of public affairs officers that work on its media strategy. “The Canadian Forces studies the news media, writes about them in its refereed journals—the Canadian Army Journal and the Canadian Military Journal — learns from them, develops policies for them and trains for them in a systematic way,” explains Bob Bergen, a professor at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. “Canadian journalists simply do not access the Canadian Forces in the scholarly fashion that the military studies them. There are no peer-reviewed journals to which they contribute reflections on their success or failure as an industry to cover the 1991 Persian Gulf War or the 1999 Kosovo Air War.”

While the tactics have varied based on technologies, balance of power and type of conflict, the government has pursued extensive information control during international deployments, which are invariably presented as humanitarian even when motivated by geostrategic and corporate interests. There was formal censorship during World War I, WWII and the Korean War. In recent air wars the military largely shut the media out while in Afghanistan they brought reporters close.

Air wars lend themselves to censorship since journalists cannot accompany pilots during their missions or easily see what’s happening from afar. “As a result,” Bergen writes, “crews can only be interviewed before or after their missions, and journalists’ reports can be supplemented by cockpit footage of bombings.”

During the bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999 the CF blocked journalists from filming or accessing Canadian pilots flying out of Aviano, Italy. They also refused to provide footage of their operations. While they tightly controlled information on the ground, the CF sought to project an air of openness in the aftermath of the Somalia scandal. For 79 days in a row a top general gave a press conference in Ottawa detailing developments in Yugoslavia. But, the generals often misled the public. Asked “whether the Canadians had been targeted, whether they were fired upon and whether they fired in return” during a March 24 sortie in which a Yugoslavian MiG-29 was downed, Ray Henault denied any involvement. The deputy chief of Defence Staff said: “They were not involved in that operation.” But, Canadians actually led the mission and a Canadian barely evaded a Serbian surface-to-air missile. While a Dutch aircraft downed the Yugoslavian MiG-29, a Canadian pilot missed his bombing target, which ought to have raised questions about civilian casualties.

One reason the military cited for restricting information during the bombing campaign was that it could compromise the security of the Armed Forces and their families. Henault said the media couldn’t interview pilots bombing Serbia because “we don’t want any risk of family harassment or something of that nature, which, again, is part of that domestic risk we face.”

During the bombing of Libya in 2011 and Iraq-Syria in 2014-16 reporters who traveled to where Canadian jets flew from were also blocked from interviewing the pilots. Once again, the reason given for restricting media access was protecting pilots and their families.

Since the first Gulf War the military has repeatedly invoked this rationale to restrict information during air wars. But, as Bergen reveals in Balkan Rats and Balkan Bats: The art of managing Canada’s news media during the Kosovo air war, it was based on a rumour that antiwar protesters put body bags on the lawn of a Canadian pilot during the 1991 Gulf War. It likely never happened and, revealingly, the military didn’t invoke fear of domestic retribution to curtail interviews during the more contentious ground war in Afghanistan.

During that war the CF took a completely different tack. The CF embedding (or in-bedding) program brought reporters into the military’s orbit by allowing them to accompany soldiers on patrol and stay on base. When they arrived on base senior officers were often on hand to meet journalists. Top officers also built a rapport with reporters during meals and other informal settings. Throughout their stay on base Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) were in constant contact, helping reporters with their work. After a six-month tour in Afghanistan PAO Major Jay Janzen wrote: “By pushing information to the media, the Battalion was also able to exercise some influence over what journalists decided to cover. When an opportunity to cover a mission or event was proactively presented to a reporter, it almost always received coverage.”

In addition to covering stories put forward by the military, ‘embeds’ tended to frame the conflict from the perspective of the troops they accompanied. By eating and sleeping with Canadian soldiers, reporters often developed a psychological attachment, writes Carleton professor Sherry Wasilow, in Hidden Ties that Bind: The Psychological Bonds of Embedding Have Changed the Very Nature of War Reporting.

Embedded journalists’ sympathy towards Canadian soldiers was reinforced by the Afghans they interviewed. Afghans critical of Canadian policy were unlikely to express themselves openly with soldiers nearby. Scott Taylor asked, “what would you say if the Romanian military occupied your town and a Romanian tank and journalist showed up at your door? You love the government they have installed and want these guys to stay! Of course the locals are smiling when a reporter shows up with an armoured vehicle and an armed patrol.”

The military goes to great lengths to shape coverage of its affairs and one should expect stories about Canada’s mission in Mali to be influenced by the armed forces. So, take heed: Consume what they give you carefully, like you would a melted chocolate and marshmallow coated graham wafer.

What Dead GIs Would Say To the World on Memorial Day About Being Praised As Heroes

A lot of people in Third World nations previously invaded, currently being invaded, or suffering sanctions and the threat of invasion by Americans, will be watching telecasts via satellite of festive celebrations on Memorial Day in the great United States of America.

Telecasted news coverage of the Memorial Day holiday in the USA will show video clips of parades and speeches glorifying America’s military and sanctifying war itself, obscuring the mourning of the deceased soldiers by families and friends. Many people watching in countries Americans invaded, will surely be wincing, their gaze turning serious and solemn, as they hear American GIs, who died while dutifully taking part in the killing, maiming and destroying in dozens of smaller countries all around the world, praised as heroes.

Many people watching the telecast in the countries Americans invaded will have gotten to know these mostly young American men who died invading their country in a deeper and more poignant sense than even their own parents. For example, of the two and a half million uniformed Americans, who were sent to Vietnam, hundreds of thousands mingled with Vietnamese up close in following out criminal orders and experienced a variety of emotions, some feeling guilt, shame and anger about the horrific suffering they were creating within a soft-spoken Buddhist population.  Final body count statistics show fifteen Vietnamese defenders killed for every one American GI killed – imagine how many Americans GIs felt about this sickening ratio which they were perpetrating. This author, during Veterans For Peace meetings, has heard members speak personally of never-forgotten-atrocities they were pained to take part in. I remember one veteran telling of picking up the cap of a Vietcong his unit had killed and finding a picture of what must have been the Vietcong’s wife and child secured in the cap’s lining, and thinking ‘we just created another orphan and widow.’ The citizens of nations bombarded and invaded must sometimes wonder what the dead American soldiers being thanked and praised on Memorial Day by politicians and generals, would say if they could speak out from their graves.

Your author can well imagine what his four basic training bunk buddies, whose bodies were thrown into a hole somewhere in North Korea, would say about being thanked for dying for their country every Memorial Day. During sixteen weeks of basic training, how very full of life and fun they were, as most 18 or 19 olds are. Likable Ed, Joe, Bob and Bill found themselves in a very poor country – people speaking a language they could not understand – in mortal combat with Koreans in their Korea. They were told they were fighting communism, but they would have realized while dead in that hole that they were sent to die to protect capitalism, colonial capitalism, the opposite of freedom for most of the world. They would have been pissed to know criminal media portrays them as just so stupid to have been suckered into killing fellow human beings and dying young – for who and for what?

Granted that many who died in military action, remained to the end duped and loyal to the propaganda they had been fed, gung-ho to kill anyone designated as ‘communist’ or ‘terrorist,’ but a much greater multitude of those GIs who lost their lives in combat in someone else’s country, had come to see the truth of an imperialist USA, ruled by its wealthy speculative investors on Wall Street, who use the nation’s armed forces, as Martin Luther King said, “to make atrocity wars and covert violence to protect unjust predatory investments overseas.”1

Let’s suppose these hundreds of thousands of savvy dead Americans chose someone well spoken from their midst to be a spokesperson for all of them – the dead GIs who died fighting citizens of some country far from America – dead GIs who finally lost faith in their countrymen, their ministers, priests and rabbis, their universities.

Further suppose that having lost faith in their own countrymen, who had sent them to a ignominious death, these angry dead Americans had their spokesperson speak to the whole world, and especially to that great majority of humanity living in the Third World in nations once attacked or being attacked by Americans in uniform today, figuring that only the people in the nations attacked are capable of uniting and using their huge numerical superiority to halt America’s blood lust. Here below, in this author’s imagination, is what this intelligent phantom spokesperson for the dead GIs might best say:

(What Dead GIs Would Say To the World on Memorial Day About Being Praised For Their ‘Heroic Sacrifice’ – if They Could)

On Memorial Day, while our family and friends mourn our permanent absence, conglomerate-owned criminal media, having used our patriotism to have us fight unjust wars based on fake news and lies, now hypes our humiliating death as beautiful military service. All this unctuous praise is heard from commentators whose TV channels deceived us into participating in senseless massacres of millions of innocent human beings right inside their own beloved countries.

We expect those who mourn us as fallen comrades, must do so in bitter heartbreak and anger. For more than a half century, all of us veterans, both living and dead, were tricked into criminal disservice, in many cases genocidal disservice, to our country and humanity. While only some relatively few of us paid with our lives for our ignorance and naive belief in our country’s honorability, tens of thousands of living veterans are physical or mental cripples.

Confronted with constant indoctrination to love of war by fear promoting corporate mass disinformation media, veterans, who have survived, must remember that we who have paid the highly profiled ‘ultimate sacrifice’ [read threw away our lives for worst than nil] were sent to our death by capitalists to make money on the deaths of those we were killing. Our own vastly smaller number of deaths are praised as heroic, but the death of millions we were sent to attack are carefully never mentioned.

Whether we gave our lives in that ‘good war’ against the fascism that American industrialists and bankers seeking huge profits helped build up by rearming Germany, or died during the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which presidential candidate Obama fluffed off as “a dumb war,” our politicians pat our families on the back with the same ‘compassionate’ thank you.

For whether we died fighting the powerful land, sea and air forces that had attacked and declared war on our country, or died after being lied to and deceived into committing war crimes in near defenseless small nations, it makes no difference to Wall Street. The Street makes money either way – from the death and destruction of a ‘good’ and officially declared war, or atrocious crimes against humanity and crimes against peace.

Whether we lose a war, after murdering millions of Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians, or stalemate, after bringing death to  three million Koreans, our deaths are considered to have contributed to saving all those millions from having to live under communist governments.  We note that our government today, ironically enjoys lucrative trade, and has the warm relations, with the communist governments of China and Vietnam.  Today, no one repeats the slogan ‘better dead (like us), than red!‘

Whether some hundreds of us died killing Afghanis in Afghanistan to be better able to chase the Saudi Arabian, Osama bin Laden for years, or merely a dozen of us fell during the manslaughter of a thousand Panamanians, who stood in the way of America’s successful capture of their former CIA enrolled drug dealing President, we receive the same gratitude from the industrial-military-complex during commercial TV programing

Whether we were two dozen, dying during our invasion of the Dominican Republic to prevent the restoration of democracy and their elected but overthrown President, or three hundred blown away in our sleep by a suicide truck bomber in Lebanon, we all died in government issued clothes and were worthy of a thank you from the Presidential advisors whose plans our commanding generals were carrying out (for the profits of Wall Street scions).

Whether we fell serving atrocities happening before our very eyes or were victims of errant friendly fire, we receive the same level of appreciation from politicians and media. They hold us up as exemplary, to entice ever new bamboozled young men and women recruits to aspire to similar glorification.

We, the guilt ridden American military dead, appeal to the good people in all the nations invaded by Americans and Europeans to effect the same level of solidarity that the racist neocolonial speculative investment banker driven imperialists of the countries of mostly Caucasian population display2, and bring their five centuries of genocidal plunder to an end earlier than otherwise.

Confronted with constant indoctrination to love war by fear promoting corporate mass disinformation media, veterans, who have survived, must remember that we who have paid the highly profiled ‘ultimate sacrifice’ [read threw away our lives for worst than nil], are watching from our graves as criminal media portrays us as just so God damned willing to have forgone forty or fifty years of mornings, love, friendship, sunsets, and the sheer exhilaration of being alive, to have been shot like pig in a poke or shredded by some stupid land mine, as some mentally challenged moral failures as human beings chart the value of their dividends and derivatives watching the stock market figures while their hired CIA criminals keep their beholden politicians and media personalities in line.

And just one more thing. Let the Third World understand that that dippy ‘why me worry,’ Mr. and Mrs. average American overwhelmed with their personal enjoyments, it is they who are responsible for the murderous crimes of their US government. They, yes, the American-entertainment/news-advertising-TV-mesmerized public, glued to the flashing screens of idiot boxes, and suckered by charming commentators reading them the fake news from the prompter above their TV camera, unseen on the screen being watched.  They are responsible for all the deaths of the millions we were ordered to kill. Some day they will hear that Martin Luther King held all of them, that is, all Americans and himself responsible, not reelected government officials.3 The US  President is just one public servant, don’t let Americans shrug their responsibility off on him foolishly, for his being so highly profiled in the criminally collaborating fake news networks.

On Memorial Days no one should focus obsequiously on us. We paid both the price of our ignorance and our parents and teachers indifference to their citizen responsibilities.  Though they saw a good deal of the death and dying on TV they had no or too little compassion to act. Quite apart from the loving attention of dear families and acquaintances, we voiceless dead veterans despise your media anchors feigned pious interest in ‘honoring’ our cadavers.

Let a Third World in solidarity get Americans to join the human race and mourn the people we were sent to kill but fell in love with before dying ourselves. Everyone who died, died because of American indifference. Those millions of innocent beautiful people that we killed in their own beloved country, be it Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Congo, Guatemala, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, their dead children now belong to America more than to their parents. Americans violently took these children from their parents and sunshine and games, saw to these children never growing up to be men and women (oh, collaterally, of course).

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark in his book The Fire This Time: US War Crimes in the Gulf wrote, and has since kept repeating, “the greatest crime since World War II has been US foreign policy.” America’s most famous defector from the war establishment would, of course, would be gratified to hear this spoken of by activists who present themselves as anti-imperialists and protest their government’s deadly use of America’s Armed Forces on innocent populations overseas, but do not tell the whole truth; namely, that the atrocities they protest are in reality prosecutable crimes against humanity and crimes against peace under the Nuremberg Principles of International Law, which former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark reminds us, are part of the law of the land by Article Six of the United States Constitution.

This is why the spokesperson for the GIs, who died in warfare on innocent populations directed an appeal to Majority Humanity in the ever targeted for plunder Third World and not to intellectuals and professors of the still plundering First World. It is the beautiful ordinary people of the Third World, less neutered by commercialized modernity, who will eventually throw forth leaders, who will not continue the mesmerizing diplomatic gentlemen’s agreement not to ever mention the law in regard to the First World’s free handed destruction of country after country of the former outrightly colonial Third World.

Crimes are meant to be prosecuted, and criminals made to pay for what they have done! Otherwise, how on earth will the US-led Western speculative investors in profitable genocidal crimes against humanity ever stop investing in the massive murder of millions of children in their own beloved countries, often as not in their own homes in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Congo, Guatemala, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, just to name some of the nations in which lives have been taken to a total of tens of millions in order to maintain, as Martin Luther King cried out, “unjust predatory investments.”3

  1. Martin Luther King’s New York Sermon that shook the world, “Beyond Vietnam – a Time to Break Silence“.
  2. Every single nation of majority Caucasian population, even tiny Lichtenstein, Andorra and Monaco, is a member nation of the coalition that murderously occupies Afghanistan.
  3. Ibid.

Emirates to train Somaliland’s Police and Army

The United Arab Emirates has a military base in Somaliland and is exploiting its port at Berbera. It has just undertaken to train Somaliland's police force and local army. Somaliland is not recognized by any State apart from Israel. Only Israel had dealings with it, setting up there its joint staff with Saudi Arabia against Yemen. But Somaliland is in the process of reverting to a colony of the United Kingdom, and is being bought by the United Arab Emirates. Dubai Ports World has set up a (...)

A Treacherous Crossing

On January 23rd an overcrowded smuggling boat capsized off the coast of Aden in Southern Yemen. Smugglers packed 152 passengers from Somalia and Ethiopia in the boat and then, while at sea, reportedly pulled guns on the migrants to extort additional money from them. The boat capsized, according to The Guardian, after the shooting prompted panic. The death toll, currently 30, is expected to rise. Dozens of children were on board.

The passengers had already risked the perilous journey from African shores to Yemen, a dangerous crossing that leaves people vulnerable to false promises, predatory captors, arbitrary detention and tortuous human rights violations. Sheer desperation for basic needs has driven hundreds of thousands of African migrants to Yemen. Many hope, upon arrival, they can eventually travel to prosperous Gulf countries further north where they might find work and some measure of security. But the desperation and fighting in southern Yemen were horrible enough to convince most migrants that boarded the smuggling boat on January 23rd to try and return to Africa.

Referring to those who drowned when the boat capsized, Amnesty International’s Lynn Maalouf said:

This heart-breaking tragedy underscores, yet again, just how devastating Yemen’s conflict continues to be for civilians. Amid ongoing hostilities and crushing restrictions imposed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, many people who came to Yemen to flee conflict and repression elsewhere are now being forced yet again to flee in search of safety. Some are dying in the process.

In 2017, more than 55,000 African migrants arrived in Yemen, many of them teenagers from Somalia and Ethiopia where there are few jobs and severe drought is pushing people to the verge of famine. It’s difficult to arrange or afford transit beyond Yemen. Migrants become trapped in the poorest country in the Arab peninsula, which now, along with several drought-stricken North African countries, faces the worst humanitarian disaster since World War II. In Yemen, eight million people are on the brink of starvation as conflict-driven near-famine conditions leave millions without food and safe drinking water. Over one million people have suffered from cholera over the past year and more recent reports add a diphtheria outbreak to the horror. Civil war has exacerbated and prolonged the misery while, since March of 2015, a Saudi-led coalition, joined and supported by the U.S., has regularly bombed civilians and infrastructure in Yemen while also maintaining a blockade that prevented transport of desperately needed food, fuel and medicines.

Maalouf called on the international community to “halt arms transfers that could be used in the conflict.” To heed Maalouf’s call, the international community must finally thwart the greed of transnational military contractors that profit from selling billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and other countries in the Saudi-led coalition. For instance, a November, 2017 Reuters report said that Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy about $7 billion worth of precision guided munitions from U.S. defense contractors. The UAE also has purchased billions in American armaments.

Raytheon and Boeing are the companies that will primarily benefit from a deal that was part of a $110 billion weapons agreement coinciding with President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May.

Another dangerous crossing happened in the region last week. U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) arrived in Saudi Arabia, along with a congressional delegation, to meet with the monarchy’s King Salman and subsequently with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has orchestrated the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. Following that visit, Ryan and the delegation met with royals from the UAE.

“So rest assured”, said Ryan, speaking to a gathering of young diplomats in the UAE, “we will not stop until ISIS, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates are defeated and no longer a threat to the United States and our allies. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we are focused on the Iranian threat to regional stability.”

Beyond the simple well-recorded fact of lavish Saudi financial support for Islamist terrorism, Ryan’s remarks overlook the Saudi-led coalition military assaults and “special operations” in Yemen, which the U.S. supports and joins. The war there is arguably undermining efforts to combat jihadist groups, which have flourished in the chaos of the war, particularly in the south which is nominally under the control of the government allied to Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian government Ryan denounced does have allies in Yemen and may be smuggling weapons into Iran, but no one has accused them of supplying the Houthi rebels with cluster bombs, laser-guided missiles and littoral (near-coastal) combat ships to blockade ports vital to famine relief. Iran does not provide in-air refueling for warplanes used in daily bombing runs over Yemen. The U.S. has sold all of these to countries in the Saudi-led coalition which have, in turn, used these weapons to destroy Yemen’s infrastructure as well as create chaos and exacerbate suffering among civilians in Yemen.

Ryan omitted any mention of the starvation, disease, and displacement afflicting people in Yemen. He neglected to mention documented human rights abuses in a network of clandestine prisons operated by the UAE in Yemen’s south. Ryan and the delegation essentially created a smokescreen of concern for human life that conceals the very real terror into which U.S. policies have thrust the people of Yemen and the surrounding region.

Potential starvation of their children terrifies people who can’t acquire food for their families. Those who can’t obtain safe drinking water face nightmarish prospects of dehydration or disease. Persons fleeing bombers, snipers, and armed militias who might arbitrarily detain them shudder in fear as they try to devise escape routes.

Paul Ryan, and the congressional delegation traveling with him, had an extraordinary opportunity to support humanitarian appeals made by UN officials and human rights organizers.

Instead, Ryan implied the only security concerns worth mentioning are those that threaten people in the U.S. He pledged cooperation with brutally repressive dictators known for egregious human rights violations in their own countries, and in beleaguered Yemen. He blamed the government of Iran for meddling in the affairs of other countries and supplying militias with funds and weapons.  U.S. foreign policy is foolishly reduced to “the good guys,” the U.S. and its allies, versus “the bad guy,” – Iran.

The “good guys” shaping and selling U.S. foreign policy and weapon sales exemplify the heartless indifference of the smugglers who gamble human life in exceedingly dangerous crossings.

Welcome to the Unpeople

America’s history is rife with discrimination. When Europeans came to America, the native people had large populations and well developed societies and agriculture. The Europeans did not understand their cultures, their religions or their languages. Nor did they want to. The Europeans had better technologies, so the natives were considered savages, something less than people, unpeople. Historians have used the term unpeople to describe the indifference developed societies have for the lives of their victims for many years. The American indigenous people were just something to be disposed of, and they were.

Black Africans were the next unpeople in America. Their enslavement created much of the early wealth. In spite of the Emancipation proclamation, they have never achieved equality under the law or in the society. The “Black Lives Matter” protests are a way of saying, “Hey, we are not unpeople.”. But the evidence of their treatment indicates otherwise.

After World War II, the efforts of America to conquer the rest of the world, have led to the slaughter of some 55 million unpeople, in places as diverse as Vietnam, Nicaragua, Iraq, and Libya. Almost no country has escaped our efforts to make the world safe for laissez-faire capitalism. We now have more than 1000 military bases, in more than 150 countries. We need regional command centers and mobile command centers to keep track of them. The Pentagon identified 140 countries that special operations groups have operated in, two years in a row.

Americans do not concern themselves much with the unpeople we are killing. They were concerned about Vietnam largely because of the 50,000 Americans killed there, not the one to three million other people. (We do not count unpeople accurately.) The Pentagon solved that by switching to more mercenaries, and pitting indigenous groups against each other, in targeted countries.

All of that is changed now. The Pentagon and the U. S. intelligence agencies are no longer representing America. They are truly international in scope, and represent the wealthy of all nations. All of the rest of us are insurgents, unpeople. The poor and middle class of America are seen as no more important than the poor and middle class of Iraq were. Democratic governments are to be eliminated, or at least their influence.

You might think I am exaggerating, but look at our Government. The president is a spokes model, the Congress cannot or will not do anything for the people. The people have been clear. They want an end to war, they want the economy back, they want the infrastructure repaired, they want affordable health care, they want their pensions secure, they want the money out of politics, and they want the environment protected. None of that is even under consideration. It is untouchable. Recently several congressmen admitted that the wealthy want their tax cuts, and they are going to get them. This is not democracy.

Our Government has no control over the Pentagon or the Intelligence agencies and it ignores the Constitution and all other international and domestic laws. Our elected Government has no control over foreign policy or of many aspects of domestic policy. When did Congress vote to make the Wolfowitz doctrine and “Full Spectrum Dominance” the foundation of our foreign policy? When did they vote to overthrow the government of Ukraine? When did they vote to destroy Syria, Libya, or Somalia? When did they vote to stop manufacturing and become a debtor nation? When did they vote to make the U. S. a police state? When Congress does get to vote, they do not get to know what they are voting for. They do not get a chance to review the Defense budget, the intelligence budgets, or trade pacts. Ten years ago, a plan surfaced to destroy the social democracies of Europe by overrunning them with refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Today that is reality. Did Congress get to vote on that?

The Bankers’ military-industrial-intelligence complex does not report to any government. It is ruled by elites of all countries. After WWII, George Kennan and others, warned that the Earth could not support all of its’ projected population in the style to which Americans were accustomed. It was a call to America to be ruthless and protect itself at the expense of other nations. I think the elite have modified that theory. They now plan to sacrifice the common people of all nations to protect the elite of all nations. That way, all nations’ assets can be developed, and their people enslaved.

I think George Kennan was wrong and the solution being pursued by the wealthy is wrong. The Earth does have limited resources. But humans only slow their population growth when they reach a certain comfort level. Secondly, everything can be recycled. The American model is buy things cheap, throw them away and buy more. If we stop unsolicited advertising and make good quality, lasting products, it will make a huge difference. Sufficient energy is free. We just have to learn to use it. The Earth can support plenty of humans and still have room for nature, but if people are having to scramble for every crumb, nothing will ever be safe. Not even the Earth itself.

So what can we do? First, the people have to learn the truth. Then we have to establish a democracy. That will mean getting ALL money out of politics and even restricting wealth. We need to get the psychopaths out of government elect only people who do not want to be elected. We need to go to Washington and throw the psychopaths out in the streets.

Genocidal U.S. Thanksgiving Celebrated Even in Cambodia

A table was set up for two, an advertisement table, a table with a photo of a giant turkey, two elegant plates, and a U.S. flag sticking out into the air.

“Thanksgiving at Angkor Royal Cafe”, a flier read. And: “23rd November… Join us for a traditional Thanksgiving Feast”.

This was at one of the international hotels in Siem Reap, a Cambodian city near the world architectural treasures of Angkor Wat and the ancient Khmer capital, Angkor Thom.

The same day I read an email sent to me from the United States, by my Native American friends, with a link to an essay published by MPN News, called “Thanksgiving Guide: How to Celebrate a Sordid History”. It began with a summary:

While millions of Americans prepare this week to get into the holiday spirit, beginning with Thanksgiving, how many are prepared to view the day through an accurate lens? While to many Americans the holiday serves as a reminder to give thanks, it is seen as a day of mourning by countless of others. The truth is: European migrants brutally murdered Native Americans, stole their land, and continue to do so today.

The day became an official day of festivities in 1637, to celebrate the massacre of over 700 people from the Pequot Tribe.

In a hotel, I approached a cheerful French food and beverage manager and asked him whether he was aware of what he was suggesting should be celebrated in one of his restaurants?

“Oh I know I know,” he replied, laughing. “It is a little bit controversial, isn’t it?”

“Bit controversial?” I wondered. “It appears more like you are inviting people to celebrate genocide, a holocaust, with free flowing wine and a giant turkey.”

“I am trying to see things positively,” he continued grinning at me. Then he summarized: “So I guess you won’t be joining us tonight? What a pity…”

“What a pity,” I thought, “what a pity.” I won’t get to eat that famous American pie tonight and turkey and who knows what else, just because I am not eager at all to celebrate the massacres and land grabs perpetrated by the Empire.

The manager couldn’t help asking: “Where are you from?”

I knew he would ask. No European would say what I was saying.

“I’m Russian,” I replied.

“Oh I see,” he gave me that ‘I should have guessed smile’.

“Russian-American,” I added.

*****

I’m convinced that the French manager has been sincerely oblivious about what I was stating. He is supposed to be oblivious. There are, after all, ‘our genocides’, and ‘the genocides of the others’. ‘Our genocides’, those that we triggered or committed, should never be discussed. Or more precisely, it is extremely impolite to discuss them. Most of the people don’t even know about them, including many of the victims. On the other hand, the genocides committed by the others, particularly by adversaries of the West, are widely discussed, publicized, analyzed, inflated and very often even fabricated (All this described in detail in my 840-page book Exposing Lies Of The Empire).

Cambodia is the textbook case of the latter. Here, several decades ago, the U.S. and its allies first supported the hopelessly corrupt and brutal government in Phnom Penh, while triggering a monstrous carpet-bombing campaign of the Cambodian countryside, mainly near the border with Vietnam. This was supposed to prevent the country from ‘going Communist’, or at least ‘Ho Chi Minh style Communist’. Hundreds of thousands of villagers were murdered by the bombing. Millions were forced to hit the road, leaving their dwellings, as the countryside was converted into a giant minefield, covered by unexploded ordnance. Further hundreds of thousands died from starvation and diseases. Furious, mad from suffering, the people of Cambodia rose against the collaborators with the West in Phnom Penh. Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge took the capital virtually unopposed. Recently, deep in the jungle, I spoke to the former Pol Pot’s personal guards. I asked them point-blank whether they knew anything about Communism. “Nothing at all,” I was told. “The U.S. was murdering our families, for no reason. Corrupt elites were selling the country to the West. We were all outraged, and ready for revenge. We would follow anybody calling for revenge.” However, the West is passing the events, to this day, as a “Communist genocide”.

Rwanda is yet another ‘case’ of a twisted narrative. I made an entire full-length documentary film – Rwanda Gambit – on the subject. There, the West turned the history upside down, reducing the entire tragedy into a primitive and easy-to-digest narrative of bad Hutus killing good Tutsis. Yet even the former U.S. ambassador Robert Flatten told me that his country groomed, armed and supported the deadly RPF, mainly Tutsi army, which had been, before 1994, raiding the Rwandan countryside from neighboring Uganda, burning villages and killing civilians. A former Australian lawyer and U.N. investigator, Michael Hourigan, supplied me with information about the downing of the plane, which, in April 1994, killed both the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, while on the final approach to Kigali airport. The orders to shoot down the plane were given by the RPF leader Paul Kagame, who was in turn sponsored by the West. This event triggered the terrible bloodletting on 1994. The next year, in 1995, the Rwandan army entered the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and participated in the killing of at least 9 million people, mainly civilians, on behalf of Western governments and multi-national companies, making it the worst crime against humanity in recent history.

In fact, almost all the major genocides committed by the West or its allies in modern history, are ‘silent ones’, including those in Iraq, Syria, Iran, West Papua, East Timor, DRC, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Angola, and dozens of other unfortunate places all over the world.

The gruesome genocides committed by the West all over the world, during the last 2,000 but especially during the last 500 years, are never defined as such; never as ‘genocides’. Throughout history, European countries have been destroying, systematically, most of the cultures on all continents of the Planet, enslaving virtually all the non-white nations, plundering and looting its colonies (read: almost all the non-white nations of the world), while exterminating hundreds of millions of men, women and children. The death toll has been rising, accumulating, to near 1 billion, according to the testimony of one of my friends, a senior U.N. statistician.

*****

I will return to the ‘Cambodian story’ soon, on the pages of this magazine. And I will be returning, again and again, to the genocides committed by Europe and North America, virtually everywhere. Unless the history is understood and acknowledged, the world has no future, and there can be no solutions to the terrible problems that our humanity is facing.

But for now, let me conclude this brief essay by saying that I did not participate in the consumption of turkey and American pies on Thanksgiving holiday, in the Cambodian city of Seam Reap.

My thoughts went to those 700 people from the Pequot Tribe who rebelled, stood firm and died for freedom, almost 400 years ago. These were some of the first fighters against Western imperialism. These were the ‘Americans’ that I admire, this is America that had been terribly damaged but not yet completely destroyed. No overly sugary, sentimental and empty words could fully choke its essence, as no gluttony and food orgies could ever fully silence the screams of the pain of those who died in the hands of the European invaders, during and after the conquest of what has been so cynically christened as the ‘New World’.

• First published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

Somaliland’s Presidential Election

On 13 November, the non-recognized Republic of Somaliland is organizing a presidential election that the Western Press has presented as “exemplary”. A public debate between the three candidates was organized. Social networks have been interrupted during the election to prevent the broadcasting of fake news and the call to voting along tribal lines. The Presidential Election was first forecast two years ago. As for the recent legislative elections, plans for them date back to 2005. (...)

A Nation of Relentless Savagery

You’ve been avoiding this for a long time.

You prefer to remember the times he took you to the park, that amazing camping vacation a few summers back, the funny things he often says at the dinner table, that beautiful dog he gave you on your 12th birthday.

But you can’t deny it any longer.  The truth is painful.  But . . .

Dad is an alcoholic and he beats mom.

Do you hate him?  Do you reject him as your father?

No, but things have to drastically change and very soon.

This is not actually the story I wish to tell.  I’m merely drawing a parallel.  I’m talking about dealing with denial, facing reality, accepting responsibility, taking action.

There are many situations in life for which the above scenario is a metaphor.

The parallel I’m making is the relationship between a citizen and a government gone mad.

We’ve avoided it for a long time.  We prefer to think of America as a beacon of hope in the world, the fountainhead of truth and justice, a purveyor of democratic values and human rights.

But we can’t deny it any longer.  The truth is painful.  But . . .

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his monumental, myth-shattering speech — the one that probably got him assassinated — at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967:

The greatest purveyor of violence in the world: My own government, I cannot be silent.

I won’t go into the long history of American aggression.  Whole books have been written which detail our gruesome heritage of merciless wars, the most notable being Howard Zinn’s classics, A People’s History of the United States and the more recent A People’s History of American Empire.  Nor will I indict the U.S. foreign policy apparatus for its gross deceptions and hypocrisies, elucidated with unparalleled clarity and candor in William Blum’s excellent work, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy.

I won’t talk about the millions of human carcasses piled on top of more carcasses, the result of countless war crimes and merciless military strategies which place no value on human life, whether the victims are in uniform or innocent civilians.  I’ve realized that the scale of the horror is such that it’s incomprehensible to most good decent citizens.  I myself when confronted by figures like 3 million Vietnamese killed, 1.5 Iraqis killed, on and on, find my eyes glazing over in the deluge of zeroes.  I literally cannot grasp these numbers and apply them meaningfully to the grief and physical suffering which they are supposed to somehow encapsulate.

Let’s instead look at a few simple very recent facts and try to put them in perspective.

Fact 1:  The U.S. is not officially at war with any other country at this time.

Fact 2:  The U.S. has not been attacked in any sense of the word in the last 16 years.

Fact 3:  Last year the U.S. military dropped 26,171 bombs on seven different countries.

Mind you, these are the official figures.  Who knows what the real totals are?

These were not water-filled balloons or July 4th fireworks.  At the end of every explosion, there were body parts strewn all over the surrounding area.  Survivors were being crushed in collapsed buildings, or crawling along the ground with limbs torn off, leaving a trail of blood squirting out of severed arteries.  Innocent people, men, women, and children just going about the everyday business of living, were mangled by a lethal mix of high-velocity shrapnel, and chunks of rubble created by ton after ton of high-yield explosives dropped anonymously from the sky.

Rigorous studies have made it very clear that well over half of the casualties of current warfare are civilians.  In what are called ‘internal conflicts’ — like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia — which now are by far the most prevalent form of military conflict, the percentages can be as high as 90% civilians.  These violent clashes are typically fought by proxies. In all of the countries just listed, the aggressors are mercenaries paid by the U.S. and its allies to enter and destroy a country in what is then deceptively characterized as a civil war or “people’s uprising”.  There is very disturbing recent evidence, for example, that the U.S. through CIA back channels has been funding ISIS, Al Nusra, as well as other extremely barbarous terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria.

By the way, that money they withhold from your paycheck?  Or that quarterly tax payment you regularly make?  Think about it.  This is where a big chunk of your tax dollars is going.  You’re paying for this.

Does any of this make my point a little more comprehensible?

26,171 bombs . . . funding terrorism . . . innocent civilians murdered . . . all in a days work.

America can say with great pride that what it does, it usually does very well.

When we put our minds to something, we pull out all the stops.

Now we can put cold-blooded killing right up there in the Top 10.

We kill efficiently.  We kill without remorse.  We kill without hesitation.

NOTICE TO THE WORLD . . .

Beware!  We are a nation of relentless savagery!

Then again, a lot of countries already know that.

I’ve said this many times before and I’ll keep saying it until people get it . . .

Peace will not come from the top.  There are too many incentives and rewards in our corrupt corporate kleptocracy to keep the wars going and the wheels of the defense industry churning out more mechanisms of death and destruction.

It is only when we everyday citizens finally have had enough of the carnage, enough of the military waste, enough of the chest-beating imperialism which makes us less safe, enough of the empty rhetoric which claims to embrace the noble virtues but is just more deception in the name of war and imperial conquest, it is only then that America will turn around.

Maybe there are detailed plans out there somewhere to mobilize the good decent citizens of this country.  I haven’t personally seen any.  So here is mine.  Yes, it is outside-the-box, some would say radical, extreme.  But if we are the nation we claim to be in the world and in the eyes of God, isn’t cruelly and senselessly dropping 26,171 bombs on mostly innocent people extreme and radical?

My plan demands very little of us individually.  We don’t have to march on the capital or mount a revolutionary insurrection.  Despite that, it could make all the difference in the future we leave to our children and our children’s children.  All that is really required is that we listen to the voice of reason and stand strong.

At least take a look.  Open your mind up to the possibility of a future without the madness.  Of a future without endless war.  Of a future when our hard-earned tax dollars don’t go to fund the relentless savagery of a military gone mad.

THE PEACE DIVIDEND