Category Archives: The Pentagon

The Known Knowns of Donald Rumsfeld

“On the morning of September 11, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld ran to the fire at the Pentagon to assist the wounded and ensure the safety of survivors,” expressed a mournful George W. Bush in a statement.  “For the next five years, he was in steady service as a wartime secretary of defense – a duty he carried out with strength, skill, and honor.”

Long before Donald Trump took aim at irritating facts and dissenting eggheads, Donald Rumsfeld, two times defense secretary and key planner behind the invasion of Iraq in 2003, was doing his far from negligible bit. When asked at his confirmation hearing about what worried him most when he went to bed at night, he responded accordingly: intelligence.  “The danger that we can be surprised because of a failure of imagining what might happen in the world.”

Hailing from Chicago, he remained an almost continuous feature of the Republic’s politics for decades, burying himself in the business-government matrix.  He was a Congressman three times.  He marked the Nixon and Ford administrations, respectively serving as head of the Office of Economic Opportunity and Defense Secretary.  At 43, he was the youngest defense secretary appointee in the imperium’s history.

He returned to the role of Pentagon chief in 2001, though not before running the pharmaceutical firm G.D. Searle and making it as a Fortune 500 CEO.  It was under his stewardship that the US Food and Drugs Administration finally approved the controversial artificial sweetener aspartame.  A report by a 1980 FDA Board of Inquiry had claimed that the drug “might induce brain tumors.”  This did not phase Rumsfeld, undeterred by such fanciful notions as evidence.

With Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980, and Rumsfeld’s membership of the transition team, the revolving door could go to work. The new FDA Commissioner, Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., was selected while Rumsfeld remained Searle’s CEO.  When Searle reapplied for approval of aspartame, Hayes, as the new FDA commissioner, appointed a 5-person Scientific Commission to review the 1980 findings.  When it became evident that a 3-2 outcome approving the ban was in the offing, Hayes appointed a sixth person.  The deadlocked vote was broken by Hayes, who favoured aspartame.

In responding to the attacks of September 11, 2001 on US soil, Rumsfeld laid the ground for an assault on inconvenient evidence.  As with aspartame, he was already certain about what he wanted.  Even as smoke filled the corridors of the Pentagon, punctured by the smouldering remains of American Airlines Flight 77, Rumsfeld was already telling the vice-chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff General Richard Myers to find the “best info fast … judge whether good enough [to] hit SH@same time – not only UBL.” (Little effort is needed to work out that SH was Saddam Hussein and UBL Usama/Osama Bin Laden.)

Experts were given a firm trouncing – what would they know?  With Rumsfeld running the Pentagon, the scare mongers and ideologues took the reins, all working on the Weltanschauung summed up at that infamous press conference of February 12, 2002.  When asked if there was any evidence as to whether Iraq had attempted to or was willing to supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, given “reports that there is no evidence of a direct link”, Rumsfeld was ready with a tongue twister.  “There are known knowns.  There are things we know we know.  We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.  But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”  This was being frightfully disingenuous, given that the great known for Rumsfeld was the need to attack Iraq.

To that end, he authorised the creation of a unit run by the under-secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith, known as the Office of Special Plans, to examine intelligence on Iraq’s capabilities independently of the CIA.  Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, who served in the Pentagon’s Near East and South Asia (NESA) unit a year prior to the invasion, described the OSP’s operations in withering terms.  “They’d take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don’t belong together.”

One of Rumsfeld’s favourite assertions – that Iraq had a viable nuclear weapons program – did not match the findings behind closed doors. “Our knowledge of the Iraqi (nuclear) weapons program,” claimed a report by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “is based largely – perhaps 90% – on analysis of imprecise intelligence.”

None of this derailed the juggernaut: the US was going to war.  Not that Rumsfeld was keen to emphasise his role in it.  “While the president and I had many discussions about the war preparations,” he notes in his memoirs, “I do not recall him ever asking me if I thought going to war with Iraq was the right decision.”

With forces committed to both Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States found itself in the situation Rumsfeld boastfully claimed would never happen.  Of this ruinously bloody fiasco, Rumsfeld was dismissive: “stuff happens.”  Despite such failings, a list of words he forbade staff from using was compiled, among them “quagmire”, “resistance” and “insurgents”.  Rumsfeld, it transpired, had tried regime change on the cheap, hoping that a modest military imprint was all that was necessary. The result: the US found itself in Iraq from March 2003 to December 2011, and then again in 2013 with the rise of Islamic State.  Afghanistan continues to be garrisoned, with the US scheduled to leave a savaged country by September.

Rumsfeld was not merely a foe of facts that might interfere with his policy objective.  Conventions and laws prohibiting torture were also sneered at.  On December 2, 2002, he signed a memorandum from General Counsel William J. Haynes II authorising the use of 20-hour interrogations, stress positions and the use of phobias for Guantanamo Bay detainees.  In hand writing scrawled at the bottom of the document, the secretary reveals why personnel should not be too soft on their quarry, as he would “stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?”  The results were predictably awful, and revelations of torture by US troops at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 led him to offer his resignation, which President Bush initially rejected.

By November 2006, military voices had turned against him.  With the insurgency in full swing and Iraq sliding into chaos, the Army Times called for the secretary’s resignation.  “Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised.  And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear the brunt.”  Bush eventually relented.

It is interesting that so little of this was remarked upon during the Trump era, seen as a disturbing diversion from the American project.  When Trump came to office, Democrats and others forgave all that came before, ignoring the manure that enriched the tree of mendacity.  The administration of George W. Bush was rehabilitated.

In reflecting on his documentary on Rumsfeld Errol Morris found himself musing like his protagonist.  “He’s a mystery to me, and in many ways, he remains a mystery to me – except for the possibility that there might not be a mystery.”  The interlocutor had turned into his subject.

The post The Known Knowns of Donald Rumsfeld first appeared on Dissident Voice.

ET, You Bore Me: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and the Pentagon

Those of you drawing sustenance and stimulation from the traditional acronym UFO best brace yourselves.  The less exciting and dull term accepted by the defence clerks – unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) – is renewing its march into the extra-terrestrial hinterland.

On June 25, the Pentagon’s UAP Task Force will release a declassified report to Congress that will do little to shift ground or alter debate on the nature of such phenomena.  For those exercised about green creatures, ancient aliens and that roguish charlatan Erich von Däniken, nothing would have changed. For sceptics, it will be a case of tired yawn before returning to work.  There will be many “I told you so” moments and no one will be any wiser.

Since 2017, various eyewitness accounts and videos have been circulating in such measure as to worry members of Congress.  This came a decade after Senate majority leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) first began tooting the horn on the subject, a measure that led to the creation of the $22 million Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.  That program, along with the even lesser known Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Application Program, saw the involvement of such proponents of extra-terrestrial life as billionaire Robert Bigelow.

Such programs were hardly the first.  From 1966 to 1968, the University of Colorado’s UFO Project, which lead to the publication of the tome heavy Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, was funded by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research.  Led by physicist Edward U. Condon, the report, totalling almost a thousand pages, covered 56 “cases” (UFO sightings), of which 33 were suitably explained as “normal phenomena”.

The unexplained cases were not sufficient for Condon and his co-authors to encourage further government study or scientific investigation of UFO sightings.  The words of the report are unequivocally damning: “nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge. Careful consideration of the record … leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.”

Decades after, with interest rekindled, the Pentagon was duly pressed by US lawmakers into compiling a report examining UAP sightings.  Legislation passed in December stipulated that the resulting work should contain “detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence” gathered by the FBI, the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force.  The latter was created in August 2020 on the direction of Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist.  It was done so with a view to improving “understanding of” and to “gain insight into the nature and origins of UAPs.  The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalogue UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to US national security.”

The focus of the report is bound to be workmanlike, given the DOD’s concern about “the safety of our personnel and the security of our operations”.  Emphasis is placed on the potential risks posed by “any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace”.  “This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as UAP when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing.”

So far, news outlets have veered between panting anticipation and bemused interest.  The BBC suggested that, “The review of 120 incidents is expected to conclude that US technology was not involved in most cases.”  The Hill, not quite grasping the meaning of secrecy, concluded that this fact “effectively rules out any secret government operations conducted by the American government”.

Both the New York Times and Washington Post went for common ground.  The Times reported that senior administration officials briefed about the report found no evidence that the sighted objects seen over the past decade by Navy pilots were not of this planet.  But these same officials “still cannot explain the unusual movements that have mystified scientists and the military.”  US technology, it was confirmed, was not involved in the sightings.  The report, according to the Post, “finds no proof of extraterrestrial activity, but cannot provide a definitive explanation for scores of incidents in which strange objects have been spotted in the sky”.

The Post goes on to make some broad claims, detecting a shift from “fringe conspiracy theory” to the “mainstream”.  To justify the assertion, they cite such figures as Luis Elizondo, a former military intelligence official who told reporters on an April roundtable call that many objects recorded in the videos under review had “baffled pilots, military and intelligence officials for their apparent defiance of known laws of flight and gravity”.

Fox News, for its part, can call upon the observations of former director of national intelligence John Ratcliffe. Those interested in the report would read of “objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots or have been picked up by satellite imagery that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain.”

The minds of former presidents are also being tickled with interest. “[W]hat is true, and I’m actually being serious here,” Barack Obama claimed in May on the Late Late Show With James Corden, “is that there are, there’s footage and records of objects in the skies, that we don’t know exactly what they are.  We can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory.”

A good number in the scientific and sceptical fraternity have been much cooler to this excitement.  “Recently,” a reproachful Andrew Franknoi, astronomer at the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco observes, “there has been a flurry of misleading publicity about UFOs [based on military reports].  A sober examination of these claims reveals there is a lot less to them than first meets the eye.”

Science writer Mick West, who has viewed much UAP footage released by the US military, affords a good perspective for debunkers.  Most sightings can be put down to distortions in the image or problems in the instruments themselves.  For all that, he admitted that unidentified objects appearing “in restricted airspace” presents “a real problem that needs solving.”

UFO sceptic Robert Sheaffer sees no reason for a Damascene conversion.  “There are no aliens here on Earth, and so the government cannot ‘disclose’ what it does not have.”  With a measure of unflagging confidence, he suggested that government sources knew “less on the subject than our best civilian UFO investigators, not more.”

Another good reason for dampening any excitement around the UAP Report is the motivation of the Pentagon.  Instances of costly bungles are many, from the vast expenditure in such failed conflicts as Afghanistan to the $1.6 trillion debacle over the F-35.  Perhaps, writes Matt Stieb, the DOD “simply wants a flashy reason to demand more money.”

Reid, for his part, expects little but urges continued interest in funding ventures in UAP investigations.  “I don’t think the report is going to tell us too much.  I think they need to study it more and not just have one shot at it.”  Condon and his research team might have set him straight.

The post ET, You Bore Me: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and the Pentagon first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Squad & Co: Unite as a Block to Downsize Biden’s Military Budget

Photo credit:  ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons)

Imagine this scenario:

A month before the vote on the federal budget, progressives in Congress declared, “We’ve studied President Biden’s proposed $753 billion military budget, an increase of $13 billion from Trump’s already inflated budget, and we can’t, in good conscience, support this.”

Now that would be a show stopper, particularly if they added, “So we have decided to stand united, arm in arm, as a block of NO votes on any federal budget resolution that fails to reduce military spending by 10-30 percent. We stand united against a federal budget resolution that includes upwards of $30 billion for new nuclear weapons slated to ultimately cost nearly $2 trillion. We stand united in demanding the $50 billion earmarked to maintain all 800 overseas bases, including the new one under construction in Henoko, Okinawa, be reduced by a third because it’s time we scaled back on plans for global domination.”

“Ditto,” they say, “for the billions the President wants for the arms-escalating US Space Force, one of Trump’s worst ideas, right up there with hydroxychloroquine to cure COVID-19, and, no, we don’t want to escalate our troop deployments for a military confrontation with China in the South China Sea. It’s time to ‘right-size’ the military budget and demilitarize our foreign policy.”

Progressives uniting as a block to resist out-of-control military spending would be a no-nonsense exercise of raw power reminiscent of how the right-wing Freedom Caucus challenged the traditional Republicans in the House in 2015. Without progressives on board, President Biden may not be able to secure enough votes to pass a federal budget that would then green light the reconciliation process needed for his broad domestic agenda.

For years, progressives in Congress have complained about the bloated military budget. In 2020, 93 members in the House and 23 in the Senate voted to cut the Pentagon budget by 10% and invest those funds instead in critical human needs. A House Spending Reduction Caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan, emerged with 22 members on board.

Meet the members of the House Defense Spending Reduction Caucus:

Barbara Lee (CA-13); Mark Pocan (WI-2); Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12); Ilhan Omar (MN-5); Raùl Grijalva (AZ-3); Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11); Jan Schakowsky(IL-9); Pramila Jayapal (WA-7); Jared Huffman (CA-2); Alan Lowenthal (CA-47); James P. McGovern (MA-2); Peter Welch (VT-at large); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14); Frank Pallone, Jr (NJ-6).;  Rashida Tlaib (MI-13); Ro Khanna (CA-17); Lori Trahan (MA-3); Steve Cohen (TN-9); Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Anna Eshoo (CA-18).

We also have the Progressive Caucus, the largest Caucus in Congress with almost 100 members in the House and Senate. Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal is all for cutting military spending. “We’re in the midst of a crisis that has left millions of families unable to afford food, rent, and bills. But at the same time, we’re dumping billions of dollars into a bloated Pentagon budget,” she said. “Don’t increase defense spending. Cut it—and invest that money into our communities.”

Now is the time for these congresspeople to turn their talk into action.

Consider the context. President Biden urgently wants to move forward on his American Families Plan rolled out in his recent State of the Union address. The plan would tax the rich to invest $1.8 trillion over the next ten years in universal preschool, two years of tuition-free community college, expanded healthcare coverage and paid family medical leave.

President Biden, in the spirit of FDR, also wants to put America back to work in a $2-trillion infrastructure program that will begin to fix our decades-old broken bridges, crumbling sewer systems and rusting water pipes. This could be his legacy, a light Green New Deal to transition workers out of the dying fossil fuel industry.

But Biden won’t get his infrastructure program and American Families Plan with higher taxes on the rich, almost 40% on income for corporations and those earning $400,000 or more a year, without Congress first passing a budget resolution that includes a top line for military and non-military spending. Both the budget resolution and reconciliation bill that would follow are filibuster proof and only require a simple majority in the House and Senate to pass.

Easy.

Maybe not.

To flex their muscles, Republicans may refuse to vote for a budget resolution crafted by the Democratic Party that would open the door to big spending on public goods, such as pre-kindergarten and expanded health care coverage. That means Biden would need every Democrat in the House and Senate on board to approve his budget resolution for military and non-military spending.

So how’s it looking?

In the Senate, Democrat Joe Manchin from West VA, a state that went for Trump over Biden more than two-to-one, wants to scale back Biden’s infrastructure proposal, but hasn’t sworn to vote down a budget resolution. As for Senator Bernie Sanders, the much-loved progressive, ordinarily he might balk at a record high military budget, but if the budget resolution ushers in a reconciliation bill that lowers the age of Medicare eligibility to 60 or 55, the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee may hold his fire.

That leaves anti-war activists wondering if Senator Elizabeth Warren, a critic of the Pentagon budget and “nuclear modernization,” would consider stepping up as the lone holdout in the Senate, refusing to vote for a budget that includes billions for new nuclear weapons. Perhaps with a push from outraged constituents in Massachusetts, Warren could be convinced to take this bold stand. Another potential hold out could be California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who co-chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, the committee that oversees the budgeting for nuclear weapons. In 2014, Feinstein described the US nuclear arsenal program as “unnecessarily and unsustainably large“.

Over in the House, Biden needs at least 218 of the 222 Democrats to vote for the budget resolution expected to hit the floor in June or July, but what if he couldn’t get to 218? What if at least five members of the House voted no—or even just threatened to vote no—because the top line for military spending was too high and the budget included new “money pit” nuclear land-based missiles to replace 450 Minute Man missiles.

The polls show most Democrats oppose “nuclear modernization”—a euphemism for a plan that is anything but modern given that 50 countries have signed on to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons making nuclear weapons illegal and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires the US pursue nuclear disarmament to avoid a catastrophic accident or intentional atomic holocaust.

Now is the time for progressive congressional luminaries such as the Squad’s AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Presley to unite with Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, as well as Barbara Lee, Mark Pocan and others in the House Spending Reduction Caucus to put their feet down and stand as a block against a bloated military budget.

Will they have the courage to unite behind such a cause? Would they be willing to play hardball and gum up the works on the way to Biden’s progressive domestic agenda?

Odds improve if constituents barrage them with phone calls, emails, and visible protests. Tell them that in the time of a pandemic, it makes no sense to approve a military budget that is 90 times the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tell them that the billions saved from “right sizing” the Pentagon could provide critical funds for addressing the climate crisis. Tell them that just as we support putting an end to our endless wars, so, too, we support putting an end to our endless cycle of exponential military spending.

Call your representative, especially If you live in a congressional district represented by one of the members of the Progressive Caucus or the House Spending Reduction Caucus. Don’t wait for marching orders from someone else. No time to wait.  In the quiet of the COVID hour, our Congress toils away on appropriations bills and a budget resolution. The showdown is coming soon.

Get organized. Ask for meetings with your representatives or their foreign policy staffers. Be fierce; be relentless. Channel the grit of a Pentagon lobbyist.

This is the moment to demand a substantial cut in military spending that defunds new nuclear weapons.

The post Squad & Co: Unite as a Block to Downsize Biden’s Military Budget first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ten Problems With Biden’s Foreign Policy and One Solution

The Biden presidency is still in its early days, but it’s not too early to point to areas in the foreign policy realm where we, as progressives, have been disappointed — or even infuriated.

There are one or two positive developments, such as the renewal of Obama’s New START Treaty with Russia and Secretary of State Blinken’s initiative for a UN-led peace process in Afghanistan, where the United States is finally turning to peace as a last resort, after 20 years lost in the graveyard of empires.

By and large, though, Biden’s foreign policy already seems stuck in the militarist quagmire of the past twenty years, a far cry from his campaign promise to reinvigorate diplomacy as the primary tool of U.S. foreign policy.

In this respect, Biden is following in the footsteps of Obama and Trump, who both promised fresh approaches to foreign policy but for the most part delivered more endless war.

By the end of his second term, Obama did have two significant diplomatic achievements with the signing of the Iran nuclear deal and normalization of relations with Cuba. So progressive Americans who voted for Biden had some grounds to hope that his experience as Obama’s vice-president would lead him to quickly restore and build on Obama’s achievements with Iran and Cuba as a foundation for the broader diplomacy he promised.

Instead, the Biden administration seems firmly entrenched behind the walls of hostility Trump built between America and our neighbors, from his renewed Cold War against China and Russia to his brutal sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Syria and dozens of countries around the world, and there is still no word on cuts to a military budget that has grown by 15% since FY2015 (inflation-adjusted).

Despite endless Democratic condemnations of Trump, Biden’s foreign policy so far shows no substantive change from the policies of the past four years. Here are ten of the lowlights:

  1. Failing to quickly rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement. The Biden administration’s failure to immediately rejoin the JCPOA, as Bernie Sanders promised to do on his first day as president, has turned an easy win for Biden’s promised commitment to diplomacy into an entirely avoidable diplomatic crisis.

Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and imposition of brutal “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran were broadly condemned by Democrats and U.S. allies alike. But now Biden is making new demands on Iran to appease hawks who opposed the agreement all along, risking an outcome in which he will fail to reinstate the JCPOA and Trump’s policy will effectively become his policy. The Biden administration should re-enter the deal immediately, without preconditions.

  1. U.S. Bombing Wars Rage On – Now In Secret. Also following in Trump’s footsteps, Biden has escalated tensions with Iran and Iraq by attacking and killing Iranian-backed Iraqi forces who play a critical role in the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Biden’s February 25 U.S. airstrike predictably failed to end rocket attacks on deeply unpopular U.S. bases in Iraq, which the Iraqi National Assembly passed a resolution to close over a year ago.

The U.S. attack in Syria has been condemned as illegal by members of Biden’s own party, reinvigorating efforts to repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force that presidents have misused for 20 years. Other airstrikes the Biden administration is conducting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are shrouded in secrecy, since it has not resumed publishing the monthly Airpower Summaries that every other administration has published since 2004, but which Trump discontinued a year ago.

  1. Refusing to hold MBS accountable for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khasssoghi. Human rights activists were grateful that President Biden released the intelligence report on the gruesome murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi that confirmed what we already knew: that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) approved the murder. Yet, when it came to holding MBS accountable, Biden choked.

At the very least, the administration should have imposed the same sanctions on MBS, including asset freezes and travel bans, that the U.S. imposed on lower-level figures involved in the murder. Instead, like Trump, Biden is wedded to the Saudi dictatorship and its diabolical Crown Prince.

  1. Clinging to Trump’s absurdist policy of recognizing Juan Guaidó as President of Venezuela. The Biden administration missed an opportunity to establish a new approach towards Venezuela when it decided to continue to recognize Juan Guaidó as “interim president”, ruled out talks with the Maduro government and appears to be freezing out the moderate opposition that participates in elections.

The administration also said it was in “no rush” to lift the Trump sanctions despite a recent study from the Government Accountability Office detailing their negative impact on the economy, and a scathing preliminary report by a UN Special Rapporteur, who noted their “devastating effect on the whole population of Venezuela.” The lack of dialogue with all political actors in Venezuela risks entrenching a policy of regime change and economic warfare for years to come, similar to the failed U.S. policy towards Cuba that has lasted for 60 years.

  1. Following Trump on Cuba instead of Obama. The Trump administration overturned all the progress towards normal relations achieved by President Obama, sanctioning Cuba’s tourism and energy industries, blocking coronavirus aid shipments, restricting remittances to family members, putting Cuba on a list of “state sponsors of terrorism,” and sabotaging Cuba’s international medical missions, which were a major source of revenue for its health system.

We expected Biden to immediately start unraveling Trump’s confrontational policies, but catering to Cuban exiles in Florida for domestic political gain apparently takes precedence over a humane and rational policy towards Cuba, for Biden as for Trump.

Biden should instead start working with the Cuban government to allow the return of diplomats to their respective embassies, lift all restrictions on remittances, make travel easier, and work with the Cuban health system in the fight against COVID-19, among other measures.

  1. Ramping up the Cold War with China. Biden seems committed to Trump’s self-defeating Cold War and arms race with China, talking tough and ratcheting up tensions that have led to racist hate crimes against East Asian people in the United States. But it is the United States that is militarily surrounding and threatening China, not the other way round. As former President Jimmy Carter patiently explained to Trump, while the United States has been at war for 20 years, China has instead invested in 21st century infrastructure and in its own people, lifting 800 million of them out of poverty.

The greatest danger of this moment in history, short of all-out nuclear war, is that this aggressive U.S. military posture not only justifies unlimited U.S. military budgets, but will gradually force China to convert its economic success into military power and follow the United States down the tragic path of military imperialism.

  1. Failing to lift painful, illegal sanctions during a pandemic. One of the legacies of the Trump administration is the devastating use of U.S. sanctions on countries around the world, including Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea and Syria. UN special rapporteurs have condemned them as crimes against humanity and compared them to medieval sieges. Since most of these sanctions were imposed by executive order, President Biden could easily lift them. Even before taking power, his team announced a thorough review, but, three months later, it has yet to make a move.

Unilateral sanctions that affect entire populations are an illegal form of coercion, like military intervention, coups and covert operations, that have no place in a legitimate foreign policy based on diplomacy, the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of disputes. They are especially cruel and deadly during a pandemic and the Biden administration should take immediate action by lifting broad sectoral sanctions to ensure every country can adequately respond to the pandemic.

  1. Not doing enough to support peace and humanitarian aid for Yemen. Biden appeared to partially fulfill his promise to stop U.S. support for the war in Yemen when he announced that the U.S. would stop selling “offensive” weapons to the Saudis. But he has yet to explain what that means. Which weapons sales has he cancelled?

We think he should stop ALL weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, enforcing the Leahy Law that prohibits military assistance to forces that commit gross human rights violations, and the Arms Export Control Act, under which imported U.S. weapons may be used only for legitimate self defense. There should be no exceptions to these U.S. laws for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel, Egypt or other U.S. allies around the world.

The U.S. should also accept its share of responsibility for what many have called the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today, and provide Yemen with funding to feed its people, restore its health care system and rebuild its devastated country. A recent donor conference netted just $1.7 billion in pledges, less than half the $3.85 billion needed. Biden should restore and expand USAID funding and U.S. financial support to the UN, WHO and World Food Program relief operations in Yemen. He should also press the Saudis to reopen the air and seaports, and throw U.S. diplomatic weight behind the efforts of U.N. Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to negotiate a ceasefire.

  1. Failing to back President Moon Jae-in’s diplomacy with North Korea. Trump’s failure to provide sanctions relief and explicit security guarantees to North Korea doomed his diplomacy and became an obstacle to the diplomatic process under way between Korean presidents Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, who is himself the child of North Korean refugees. So far, Biden has continued this policy of Draconian sanctions and threats.

The Biden administration should revive the diplomatic process with confidence-building measures such as opening liaison offices, easing sanctions, facilitating reunions between Korean-American and North Korean families, permitting U.S. humanitarian organizations to resume their work when COVID conditions permit, and halting U.S.-South Korea military exercises and B-2 nuclear bomb flights.

Negotiations must involve concrete commitments to non-aggression from the U.S. side and a commitment to negotiating a peace agreement to formally end the Korean War. This would pave the way for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and the reconciliation that so many Koreans desire — and deserve.

  1. No initiative to reduce U.S. military spending. At the end of the Cold War, former senior Pentagon officials told the Senate Budget Committee that U.S. military spending could safely be cut by half over the next 10 years. That goal was never achieved, and instead of a post-Cold War “peace dividend,” the military-industrial complex exploited the crimes of September 11, 2001 to justify an extraordinary one-sided arms race. Between 2003 and 2011, the U.S. accounted for 45% of global military spending, far outstripping its own peak Cold War military spending.

Now the military-industrial complex is counting on Biden to escalate a renewed Cold War with Russia and China as the only plausible pretext for further record military budgets that are setting the stage for World War III.

Biden must dial back U.S. conflicts with China and Russia, and instead begin the critical task of moving money from the Pentagon to urgent domestic needs. He should start with at least the 10 percent cut that 93 Representatives and 23 Senators already voted for. In the longer term, Biden should look for deeper cuts in Pentagon spending, as in Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill to cut $350 billion per year from the U.S. military budget, to free up resources we sorely need to invest in health care, education, clean energy and modern infrastructure.

A Progressive Way Forward

These policies, common to Democratic and Republican administrations, not only inflict pain and suffering on millions of our neighbors in other countries, but also deliberately cause instability that can at any time escalate into war, plunge a formerly functioning state into chaos or spawn a secondary crisis whose human consequences will be even worse than the original one.

All these policies involve deliberate efforts to unilaterally impose the political will of U.S. leaders on other people and countries, by methods that consistently only cause more pain and suffering to the people they claim – or pretend – they want to help.

Biden should jettison the worst of Obama’s and Trump’s policies, and instead pick the best of them. Trump, recognizing the unpopular nature of U.S. military interventions, began the process of bringing U.S troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, which Biden should follow through on.

Obama’s diplomatic successes with Cuba, Iran and Russia demonstrated that negotiating with U.S. enemies to make peace, improve relations and make the world a safer place is a perfectly viable alternative to trying to force them to do what the United States wants by bombing, starving and besieging their people. This is, in fact, the core principle of the United Nations Charter, and it should be the core principle of Biden’s foreign policy

The post Ten Problems With Biden’s Foreign Policy and One Solution first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ten Problems With Biden’s Foreign Policy and One Solution

The Biden presidency is still in its early days, but it’s not too early to point to areas in the foreign policy realm where we, as progressives, have been disappointed — or even infuriated.

There are one or two positive developments, such as the renewal of Obama’s New START Treaty with Russia and Secretary of State Blinken’s initiative for a UN-led peace process in Afghanistan, where the United States is finally turning to peace as a last resort, after 20 years lost in the graveyard of empires.

By and large, though, Biden’s foreign policy already seems stuck in the militarist quagmire of the past twenty years, a far cry from his campaign promise to reinvigorate diplomacy as the primary tool of U.S. foreign policy.

In this respect, Biden is following in the footsteps of Obama and Trump, who both promised fresh approaches to foreign policy but for the most part delivered more endless war.

By the end of his second term, Obama did have two significant diplomatic achievements with the signing of the Iran nuclear deal and normalization of relations with Cuba. So progressive Americans who voted for Biden had some grounds to hope that his experience as Obama’s vice-president would lead him to quickly restore and build on Obama’s achievements with Iran and Cuba as a foundation for the broader diplomacy he promised.

Instead, the Biden administration seems firmly entrenched behind the walls of hostility Trump built between America and our neighbors, from his renewed Cold War against China and Russia to his brutal sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Syria and dozens of countries around the world, and there is still no word on cuts to a military budget that has grown by 15% since FY2015 (inflation-adjusted).

Despite endless Democratic condemnations of Trump, Biden’s foreign policy so far shows no substantive change from the policies of the past four years. Here are ten of the lowlights:

  1. Failing to quickly rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement. The Biden administration’s failure to immediately rejoin the JCPOA, as Bernie Sanders promised to do on his first day as president, has turned an easy win for Biden’s promised commitment to diplomacy into an entirely avoidable diplomatic crisis.

Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and imposition of brutal “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran were broadly condemned by Democrats and U.S. allies alike. But now Biden is making new demands on Iran to appease hawks who opposed the agreement all along, risking an outcome in which he will fail to reinstate the JCPOA and Trump’s policy will effectively become his policy. The Biden administration should re-enter the deal immediately, without preconditions.

  1. U.S. Bombing Wars Rage On – Now In Secret. Also following in Trump’s footsteps, Biden has escalated tensions with Iran and Iraq by attacking and killing Iranian-backed Iraqi forces who play a critical role in the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Biden’s February 25 U.S. airstrike predictably failed to end rocket attacks on deeply unpopular U.S. bases in Iraq, which the Iraqi National Assembly passed a resolution to close over a year ago.

The U.S. attack in Syria has been condemned as illegal by members of Biden’s own party, reinvigorating efforts to repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force that presidents have misused for 20 years. Other airstrikes the Biden administration is conducting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are shrouded in secrecy, since it has not resumed publishing the monthly Airpower Summaries that every other administration has published since 2004, but which Trump discontinued a year ago.

  1. Refusing to hold MBS accountable for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khasssoghi. Human rights activists were grateful that President Biden released the intelligence report on the gruesome murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi that confirmed what we already knew: that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) approved the murder. Yet, when it came to holding MBS accountable, Biden choked.

At the very least, the administration should have imposed the same sanctions on MBS, including asset freezes and travel bans, that the U.S. imposed on lower-level figures involved in the murder. Instead, like Trump, Biden is wedded to the Saudi dictatorship and its diabolical Crown Prince.

  1. Clinging to Trump’s absurdist policy of recognizing Juan Guaidó as President of Venezuela. The Biden administration missed an opportunity to establish a new approach towards Venezuela when it decided to continue to recognize Juan Guaidó as “interim president”, ruled out talks with the Maduro government and appears to be freezing out the moderate opposition that participates in elections.

The administration also said it was in “no rush” to lift the Trump sanctions despite a recent study from the Government Accountability Office detailing their negative impact on the economy, and a scathing preliminary report by a UN Special Rapporteur, who noted their “devastating effect on the whole population of Venezuela.” The lack of dialogue with all political actors in Venezuela risks entrenching a policy of regime change and economic warfare for years to come, similar to the failed U.S. policy towards Cuba that has lasted for 60 years.

  1. Following Trump on Cuba instead of Obama. The Trump administration overturned all the progress towards normal relations achieved by President Obama, sanctioning Cuba’s tourism and energy industries, blocking coronavirus aid shipments, restricting remittances to family members, putting Cuba on a list of “state sponsors of terrorism,” and sabotaging Cuba’s international medical missions, which were a major source of revenue for its health system.

We expected Biden to immediately start unraveling Trump’s confrontational policies, but catering to Cuban exiles in Florida for domestic political gain apparently takes precedence over a humane and rational policy towards Cuba, for Biden as for Trump.

Biden should instead start working with the Cuban government to allow the return of diplomats to their respective embassies, lift all restrictions on remittances, make travel easier, and work with the Cuban health system in the fight against COVID-19, among other measures.

  1. Ramping up the Cold War with China. Biden seems committed to Trump’s self-defeating Cold War and arms race with China, talking tough and ratcheting up tensions that have led to racist hate crimes against East Asian people in the United States. But it is the United States that is militarily surrounding and threatening China, not the other way round. As former President Jimmy Carter patiently explained to Trump, while the United States has been at war for 20 years, China has instead invested in 21st century infrastructure and in its own people, lifting 800 million of them out of poverty.

The greatest danger of this moment in history, short of all-out nuclear war, is that this aggressive U.S. military posture not only justifies unlimited U.S. military budgets, but will gradually force China to convert its economic success into military power and follow the United States down the tragic path of military imperialism.

  1. Failing to lift painful, illegal sanctions during a pandemic. One of the legacies of the Trump administration is the devastating use of U.S. sanctions on countries around the world, including Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea and Syria. UN special rapporteurs have condemned them as crimes against humanity and compared them to medieval sieges. Since most of these sanctions were imposed by executive order, President Biden could easily lift them. Even before taking power, his team announced a thorough review, but, three months later, it has yet to make a move.

Unilateral sanctions that affect entire populations are an illegal form of coercion, like military intervention, coups and covert operations, that have no place in a legitimate foreign policy based on diplomacy, the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of disputes. They are especially cruel and deadly during a pandemic and the Biden administration should take immediate action by lifting broad sectoral sanctions to ensure every country can adequately respond to the pandemic.

  1. Not doing enough to support peace and humanitarian aid for Yemen. Biden appeared to partially fulfill his promise to stop U.S. support for the war in Yemen when he announced that the U.S. would stop selling “offensive” weapons to the Saudis. But he has yet to explain what that means. Which weapons sales has he cancelled?

We think he should stop ALL weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, enforcing the Leahy Law that prohibits military assistance to forces that commit gross human rights violations, and the Arms Export Control Act, under which imported U.S. weapons may be used only for legitimate self defense. There should be no exceptions to these U.S. laws for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel, Egypt or other U.S. allies around the world.

The U.S. should also accept its share of responsibility for what many have called the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today, and provide Yemen with funding to feed its people, restore its health care system and rebuild its devastated country. A recent donor conference netted just $1.7 billion in pledges, less than half the $3.85 billion needed. Biden should restore and expand USAID funding and U.S. financial support to the UN, WHO and World Food Program relief operations in Yemen. He should also press the Saudis to reopen the air and seaports, and throw U.S. diplomatic weight behind the efforts of U.N. Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to negotiate a ceasefire.

  1. Failing to back President Moon Jae-in’s diplomacy with North Korea. Trump’s failure to provide sanctions relief and explicit security guarantees to North Korea doomed his diplomacy and became an obstacle to the diplomatic process under way between Korean presidents Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, who is himself the child of North Korean refugees. So far, Biden has continued this policy of Draconian sanctions and threats.

The Biden administration should revive the diplomatic process with confidence-building measures such as opening liaison offices, easing sanctions, facilitating reunions between Korean-American and North Korean families, permitting U.S. humanitarian organizations to resume their work when COVID conditions permit, and halting U.S.-South Korea military exercises and B-2 nuclear bomb flights.

Negotiations must involve concrete commitments to non-aggression from the U.S. side and a commitment to negotiating a peace agreement to formally end the Korean War. This would pave the way for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and the reconciliation that so many Koreans desire — and deserve.

  1. No initiative to reduce U.S. military spending. At the end of the Cold War, former senior Pentagon officials told the Senate Budget Committee that U.S. military spending could safely be cut by half over the next 10 years. That goal was never achieved, and instead of a post-Cold War “peace dividend,” the military-industrial complex exploited the crimes of September 11, 2001 to justify an extraordinary one-sided arms race. Between 2003 and 2011, the U.S. accounted for 45% of global military spending, far outstripping its own peak Cold War military spending.

Now the military-industrial complex is counting on Biden to escalate a renewed Cold War with Russia and China as the only plausible pretext for further record military budgets that are setting the stage for World War III.

Biden must dial back U.S. conflicts with China and Russia, and instead begin the critical task of moving money from the Pentagon to urgent domestic needs. He should start with at least the 10 percent cut that 93 Representatives and 23 Senators already voted for. In the longer term, Biden should look for deeper cuts in Pentagon spending, as in Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill to cut $350 billion per year from the U.S. military budget, to free up resources we sorely need to invest in health care, education, clean energy and modern infrastructure.

A Progressive Way Forward

These policies, common to Democratic and Republican administrations, not only inflict pain and suffering on millions of our neighbors in other countries, but also deliberately cause instability that can at any time escalate into war, plunge a formerly functioning state into chaos or spawn a secondary crisis whose human consequences will be even worse than the original one.

All these policies involve deliberate efforts to unilaterally impose the political will of U.S. leaders on other people and countries, by methods that consistently only cause more pain and suffering to the people they claim – or pretend – they want to help.

Biden should jettison the worst of Obama’s and Trump’s policies, and instead pick the best of them. Trump, recognizing the unpopular nature of U.S. military interventions, began the process of bringing U.S troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, which Biden should follow through on.

Obama’s diplomatic successes with Cuba, Iran and Russia demonstrated that negotiating with U.S. enemies to make peace, improve relations and make the world a safer place is a perfectly viable alternative to trying to force them to do what the United States wants by bombing, starving and besieging their people. This is, in fact, the core principle of the United Nations Charter, and it should be the core principle of Biden’s foreign policy

The post Ten Problems With Biden’s Foreign Policy and One Solution first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms

“The CIA and the media are part of the same criminal conspiracy,” wrote Douglas Valentine in his important book, The CIA As Organized Crime

This is true.  The corporate mainstream media are stenographers for the national security state’s ongoing psychological operations aimed at the American people, just as they have done the same for an international audience.  We have long been subjected to this “information warfare,” whose purpose is to win the hearts and minds of the American people and pacify them into victims of their own complicity, just as it was practiced long ago by the CIA in Vietnam and by The New York Times, CBS, etc. on the American people then and over the years as the American warfare state waged endless wars, coups, false flag operations, and assassinations at home and abroad.

Another way of putting this is to say for all practical purposes when it comes to matters that bear on important foreign and domestic matters, the CIA and the corporate mainstream media cannot be distinguished.

For those who read and study history, it has long been known that the CIA has placed their operatives throughout every agency of the U.S. government, as explained by Fletcher Prouty in The Secret Team, The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World; that CIA officers Cord Myer and Frank Wisner operated secret programs to get some of the most vocal exponents of intellectual freedom among intellectuals, journalists, and writers to be their voices for unfreedom and censorship, as explained by Frances Stonor Saunders in The Cultural Cold War and Joel Whitney in Finks, among others; that Cord Myer was especially focused on and successful in “courting the Compatible Left” since right wingers were already in the Agency’s pocket.  All this is documented and not disputed.  It is shocking only to those who don’t do their homework and see what is happening today outside a broad historical context.

With the rise of alternate media and a wide array of dissenting voices on the internet, the establishment felt threatened and went on the defensive.  It therefore should come as no surprise that those same elite corporate media are now leading the charge for increased censorship and the denial of free speech to those they deem dangerous, whether that involves wars, rigged elections, foreign coups, COVID-19, vaccinations, or the lies of the corporate media themselves. Having already banned critics from writing in their pages and/or talking on their screens, these media giants want to make the quieting of dissenting voices complete.

Just the other day The New York Times had this headline:

Robert Kennedy Jr. Barred From Instagram Over False Virus Claims.

Notice the lack of the word alleged before “false virus claims.”  This is guilt by headline.  It is a perfect piece of propaganda posing as reporting, since it accuses Kennedy, a brilliant and honorable man, of falsity and stupidity, thus justifying Instagram’s ban, and it is an inducement to further censorship of Mr. Kennedy by Facebook that owns Instagram. That ban should follow soon, as the Times’ reporter Jennifer Jett hopes, since she accusingly writes that RFK, Jr. “makes many of the same baseless claims to more than 300,000 followers” at Facebook.  Jett made sure her report also went to msn.com and The Boston Globe.

This is one example of the censorship underway with much, much more to follow.  What was once done under the cover of omission is now done openly and brazenly, cheered on by those who, in an act of bad faith, claim to be upholders of the First Amendment and the importance of free debate in a democracy.  We are quickly slipping into an unreal totalitarian social order.

Which brings me to the recent work of Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, both of whom have strongly and rightly decried this censorship. As I understand their arguments, they go like this.

First, the corporate media have today divided up the territory and speak only to their own audiences in echo chambers: liberal to liberals (read: the “allegedly” liberal Democratic Party), such as The New York Times, NBC, etc., and conservative to conservatives (read” the “allegedly” conservative Donald Trump), such as Fox News, Breitbart, etc.  They have abandoned old school journalism that, despite its shortcomings, involved objectivity and the reporting of disparate facts and perspectives, but within limits. Since the digitization of news, their new business models are geared to these separate audiences since they are highly lucrative choices. It’s business driven since electronic media have replaced paper as advertising revenues have shifted and people’s ability to focus on complicated issues has diminished drastically.  Old school journalism is suffering as a result and thus writers such as Greenwald and Taibbi and Chris Hedges (who interviewed Taibbi and concurs: part one here) have taken their work to the internet to escape such restrictive categories and the accompanying censorship.

Secondly, the great call for censorship is not something the Silicon Valley companies want because they want more people using their media since it means more money for them, but they are being pressured to do it by the traditional old school media, such as The New York Times, who now employ “tattletales and censors,” people who are power hungry jerks, to sniff out dissenting voices that they can recommend should be banned. Greenwald says:

They do it in part for power: to ensure nobody but they can control the flow of information. They do it partly for ideology and out of hubris: the belief that their worldview is so indisputably right that all dissent is inherently dangerous ‘disinformation.’

Thus, the old school print and television media are not on the same page as Facebook, Twitter, etc. but have opposing agendas.

In short, these shifts and the censorship are about money and power within the media world as the business has been transformed by the digital revolution.

I think this is a half-truth that conceals a larger issue. The censorship is not being driven by power hungry reporters at the Times or CNN or any media outlet. All these media and their employees are but the outer layer of the onion, the means by which messages are sent and people controlled.  These companies and their employees do what they are told, whether explicitly or implicitly, for they know it is in their financial interest to do so.  If they do not play their part in this twisted and intricate propaganda game, they will suffer. They will be eliminated, as are pesky individuals who dare peel the onion to its core. For each media company is one part of a large interconnected intelligence apparatus – a system, a complex – whose purpose is power, wealth, and domination for the very few at the expense of the many.  The CIA and media as parts of the same criminal conspiracy.

To argue that the Silicon valley companies do not want to censor but are being pressured by the legacy corporate media does not make sense.  These companies are deeply connected to U.S. intelligence agencies, as are the NY Times, CNN, NBC, etc.  They too are part of what was once called Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s program to control, use, and infiltrate the media.  Only the most naïve would think that such a program does not exist today.

In Surveillance Valley, investigative reporter Yasha Levine documents how Silicon valley tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google are tied to the military-industrial-intelligence-media complex in surveillance and censorship; how the Internet was created by the Pentagon; and even how these shadowy players are deeply involved in the so-called privacy movement that developed after Edward Snowden’s revelations.  Like Valentine, and in very detailed ways, Levine shows how the military-industrial-intelligence-digital-media complex is part of the same criminal conspiracy as is the traditional media with their CIA overlords. It is one club.

Many people, however, might find this hard to believe because it bursts so many bubbles, including the one that claims that these tech companies are pressured into censorship by the likes of The New York Times, etc.  The truth is the Internet was a military and intelligence tool from the very beginning and it is not the traditional corporate media that gives it its marching orders.

That being so, it is not the owners of the corporate media or their employees who are the ultimate controllers behind the current vast crackdown on dissent, but the intelligence agencies who control the mainstream media and the Silicon valley monopolies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.  All these media companies are but the outer layer of the onion, the means by which messages are sent and people controlled.

But for whom do these intelligence agencies work?  Not for themselves.

They work for their overlords, the super wealthy people, the banks, financial institutions, and corporations that own the United States and always have. In a simple twist of fate, such super wealthy naturally own the media corporations that are essential to their control of the majority of the world’s wealth through the stories they tell.  It is a symbiotic relationship. As FDR put it bluntly in 1933, this coterie of wealthy forces is the “financial element in the larger centers [that] has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” Their wealth and power has increased exponentially since then, and their connected tentacles have further spread to create what is an international deep state that involves such entities as the IMF, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, those who meet yearly at Davos, etc.  They are the international overlords who are pushing hard to move the world toward a global dictatorship.

As is well known, or should be, the CIA was the creation of Wall St. and serves the interests of the wealthy owners. Peter Dale Scott, in “The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld,” says of Allen Dulles, the nefarious longest running Director of the CIA and Wall St. lawyer for Sullivan and Cromwell:

There seems to be little difference in Allen Dulles’s influence whether he was a Wall Street lawyer or a CIA director.

It was Dulles, long connected to  Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, international corporations, and a friend of Nazi agents and scientists, who was tasked with drawing up proposals for the CIA.  He was ably assisted by five Wall St. bankers or investors, including the aforementioned Frank Wisner who later, as a CIA officer, said his “Mighty Wurlitzer” was “capable of playing any propaganda tune he desired.”  This he did by recruiting intellectuals, writers, reporters, labor organizations, and the mainstream corporate media, etc. to propagate the CIA’s messages.

Greenwald, Taibbi, and Hedges are correct up to a point, but they stop short.  Their critique of old school journalism à la Edward Herman’s and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing of Consent model, while true as far as it goes, fails to pin the tail on the real donkey.  Like old school journalists who knew implicitly how far they could go, these guys know it too, as if there is an invisible electronic gate that keeps them from wandering into dangerous territory.

The censorship of Robert Kennedy, Jr. is an exemplary case.  His banishment from Instagram and the ridicule the mainstream media have heaped upon him for years is not simply because he raises deeply informed questions about vaccines, Bill Gates, the pharmaceutical companies, etc. His critiques suggest something far more dangerous is afoot: the demise of democracy and the rise of a totalitarian order that involves total surveillance, control, eugenics, etc. by the wealthy led by their intelligence propagandists.

To call him a super spreader of hoaxes and a conspiracy theorist is aimed at not only silencing him on specific medical issues, but to silence his powerful and articulate voice on all issues.  To give thoughtful consideration to his deeply informed scientific thinking concerning vaccines, the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, etc., is to open a can of worms that the powerful want shut tight.

This is because RFK, Jr. is also a severe critic of the enormous power of the CIA and its propaganda that goes back so many decades and was used to cover up the national security state’s assassinations of his father and uncle, JFK.  It is why his wonderful recent book American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family that contains not one word about vaccines, was shunned by mainstream book reviewers; for the picture he paints fiercely indicts the CIA in multiple ways while also indicting the mass media that have been its mouthpieces. These worms must be kept in the can, just as the power of the international overlords represented by the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum with its Great Reset must be.  They must be dismissed as crackpot conspiracy theories not worthy of debate or exposure.

Robert Kennedy, Jr., by name and dedication to truth seeking, conjures up his father’s ghost, the last politician who, because of his vast support across racial and class divides, could have united the country and tamed the power of the CIA to control the narrative that has allowed for the plundering of the world and the country for the wealthy overlords.

So they killed him.

There is a reason Noam Chomsky is an exemplar for Hedges, Greenwald, and Taibbi.  He controls the can opener for so many. He has set the parameters for what is considered acceptable to be considered a serious journalist or intellectual.  The assassinations of the Kennedys, 9/11, or a questioning of the official Covid-19 story are not among them, and so they are eschewed.

To denounce censorship, as they have done, is admirable. But now Greenwald, Taibbi, and Hedges need go up to the forbidden gate with the sign that says – “This far and no further” – and jump over it.  That’s where the true stories lie.  That’s when they’ll see the worms squirm.

The post Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Critical Lessons From Dr. Martin Luther King For These Times


NOTE: Margaret Flowers and Askia Muhammad will co-host an inaugural special on Pacifica Radio on Wednesday, January 20 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm Eastern. It can be heard on WBAI and WPFW. The theme will be Dr. King’s triple evils and what Biden’s cabinet picks tell us about what we can expect from this administration. Guests include Dr. Greg Carr, Abby Martin and Danny Sjursen.

Also, on Tuesday, January 26 at 8:00 pm Eastern, Popular Resistance will co-host a webinar, “COVID-19: How Weaponizing Disease and Vaccine Wars are Failing Us.” The webinar will be co-hosted by Margaret Flowers and Sara Flounders and it will feature Vijay Prashad, Max Blumethal, Margaret Kimberley and Lee Siu Hin. All are editors or contributors of the new book “Capitalism on a Ventilator.” Register at bit.ly/WeaponizingCOVID.

This week we celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and witness the inauguration of our next president, Joe Biden. This inauguration will be unique, first, for being held during a pandemic and, second, for its heightened security in fear of another attack by Trump supporters. Downtown Washington, DC is normally secured during an inauguration and people must pass through checkpoints to get into the Mall and parade route, but this time is different.

There are 25,000 members of the National Guard on duty in the city to protect the President and Members of Congress. But even this does not guarantee security. The FBI is screening every national guard member for ties to right wing militias and groups responsible for the January 6 assault on the Capitol. The ruling class experienced what it is like when those who are supposed to protect you don’t.

This insecurity is another facet of a society in break down. As Dr. King warned us over 50 years ago:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin to shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-centered’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. . . . A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Migrants march from Honduras to the United States with the hope of a better reception under a Biden administration (Luis Echeverria)

The pandemic and recession have exposed more widely what many communities have known for a long time, that corporate profits are more important than their lives and that lawmakers serve the wealthy class. During the pandemic, the rich have gotten richer, the Pentagon budget has ballooned with bi-partisan support and the people have not received what they need to survive. Unemployment, loss of health insurance, hunger and poverty are growing while the stock market ended the year with record highs.

Many are hopeful that a Democratic majority in Congress and a Democratic President will turn this around, and it is reasonable to expect there will be some positive changes. The Biden administration claims it will take immediate action to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour, extend the break on student loan payments, provide a one-time $1,400 payment and invest more in testing and vaccine administration, among other actions.

These actions are welcome, but they are a far cry from what is necessary. A family with two parents working full time for minimum wage will still live in poverty, even at $15/hour. The majority of people in the United States, 65%, support giving $2,000/month to every adult during the pandemic. This is supported by 54% of Republicans polled and 78% of Democrats. People with student loans are calling for them to be cancelled, not delayed. And, as I wrote in Truthout, Biden’s priority for managing the pandemic is on reopening businesses and schools, not on taking the public health measures that are called for such as shutting down with guarantees of housing and economic support and nationalizing the healthcare system, as other countries have done.

What is required is massive public investment in systemic changes that get to the roots of the crises we face. In addition to the triple evils that Dr. King spoke about, racism, capitalism and militarism, we can add the climate crisis. An eco-socialist Green New Deal such as that promoted by Howie Hawkins would get at the roots of each of these crises.

Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute argues that the economy can handle a massive investment of public dollars without fear of negative consequences, such as inflation, because for too long the economy has been starving the public while funneling wealth to the top. It is time for redistribution of that wealth to serve the public good.

In fact, Sam Pizzigati of Inequality.org writes that throughout history, governments have fallen when they fail to address wealth inequality and meet the people’s needs. This is the finding of a recent study called “Moral Collapse and State Failure: A View From the Past.” They write that the fall of pre-modern governments “can be traced to a principal leadership that inexplicably abandoned core principles of state-building that were foundational to these polities, while also ignoring their expected roles as effective leaders and moral exemplars.”

From Socialist Alternative

So far, it looks like what we can expect from the Biden Administration is a few tweaks to the system to placate people and relieve some suffering but not the system changes we require. Biden is actively opposed to national improved Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, two proposals that a majority of people, especially Democrats, support. Mark Dunlea explains why the Biden climate plan is inadequate for the dire situation we face.

Biden’s cabinet picks and language make it clear that the United States’ aggressive foreign policy of regime change and wars for resources and domination will continue. Samantha Power, a war hawk, has been chosen to head the USAID, an institution that invests in creating chaos and regime change efforts in other countries. Victoria Nuland, who was a major leader of the US’ successful coup in Ukraine that brought neo-Nazis to power, has been picked for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Biden’s choices for CIA Director, Mike Morell, and Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, are both torture proponents. Abby Martin of Empire Files exposes the dark backgrounds of several other nominees for Biden’s cabinet, including Antony Blinken as Secretary of State, Jake Sullivan as National Security Adviser, Linda Thomas-Greenfield for United Nations Ambassador and Michael Flourney to head the Pentagon.

It also doesn’t appear that Democrats in Congress will show the necessary courage to fight for what the people need. Danny Haiphong of Black Agenda Report writes about the “Obama-fication” of “The Squad” and how they serve to protect the status quo and weaken the progressive movement. It is important to understand how they are the “more effective evil,” or as Gabriel Rockhill explains, they are the arm of liberal democracies that convince people to consent to the neo-liberal capitalism that is destroying our lives and the planet. This is how Western fascism rises within legislative bodies. Already, we are seeing champions of national improved Medicare for All, Bernie Sanders and Pramila Jayapal, back down to a position of lowering the age of Medicare eligibility, which would not solve our healthcare crisis, only delay that solution.

Chris Hedges often warns us that we need to know what we are up against if we are to effectively challenge it. Dr. King warned us that our nation was heading toward spiritual death if we did not get to the roots of the crises, the triple evils. He demonstrated that social movements should not align themselves with capitalist political parties because then the movement becomes subservient to their interests and compromises its own interests. And he told us what we must do. Prior to King’s death, he was organizing an occupation of Washington, DC to demand an end to poverty.

During the Biden administration, many of the progressive forces will work to weaken those of us who make demands for bold changes. They will try to placate us with a diverse cabinet of women and people of color who were chosen because they support capitalism, imperialism and systemic racism despite their identities. Chris Hedges describes this as a form of “colonialism.”

Our tasks are to maintain political independence from the capitalist parties, struggle for systemic changes and embrace a bold agenda that inspires people to take action. Through strategic and intentional action, we can achieve the changes we need. We have a key ingredient for success – widespread support for the changes we need. Now, we only need to mobilize in ways that inspire people and that have an impact – strikes, boycotts, occupations and more that are focused on improving the lives of everyone.

We can turn things around and reduce the suffering that is driving the polarization and trend towards violence in our country. It’s time to embrace our radical Dr. King.

The post Critical Lessons From Dr. Martin Luther King For These Times first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Trump may be on trial, but the system that produced him will be acquitted

It is a fitting end to four years of Donald Trump in the White House.

On one side, Trump’s endless stoking of political grievances – and claims that November’s presidential election was “stolen” from him – spilled over last week into a mob storming the US Capitol. They did so in the forlorn hope of disrupting the certification process of the electoral college vote, which formally declared his opponent, Joe Biden, the winner.

On the other side, the Democratic Party instituted a second, unprecedented impeachment process this week, in the slightly less forlorn hope that Trump leaves office disgraced and humiliated, foreclosing any possibility he can run again in 2024.

Barely concealing its alliance with the incoming Biden administration, Silicon Valley has shut down Trump’s social media megaphone. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has lobbied the joint chiefs of staff to cut an “unhinged” Trump out of the chain of command, in a move that was reportedly rejected out of hand by Pentagon officials because, they told the New York Times, it would amount to a “military coup”.

And Biden, who boasts that he was the author the Patriot Act years before 9/11, has been touting a new “domestic terrorism” bill, as though the US did not already have a plethora of ways to crack down on dissent, of both the legitimate and the illegitimate varieties.

With this as the backdrop, Washington DC is designating the inauguration of Biden next week a “national special security event”.

Authoritarian tribes

All this is not just the latest sign that the US political system has degenerated into tawdry theatre. It is growing evidence that US politics is devolving into a permanent confrontation between two authoritarian tribes. Both are convinced that the other side is un-American, perverting the true republic. Both are unwilling to compromise, believing they share no common ground. And ultimately both are fighting for a rotten cause.

This is not a divide between ethical and unethical politics. This clash is now a bitter grudge match. It is civil war by other means. Not only is the chasm between these rival camps widening, but the real criminals are making off – as they always do – with the loot.

Each tribe has been coalescing for a while now around a centre of gravity. On the Republican side that became clear with the emergence of the Tea Party and the birther movement during Barack Obama’s tenure. But it took Trump’s election as president in 2016 to create a proper oppositional centre of gravity on the other side.

Those in the Democrat tribe who now disdain Trump and his supporters for their desperate refusal to accept November’s result overlook how they greeted Trump’s victory in 2016. They struggled to accept the legitimacy of that outcome too, even if they did not resort to the overt violence of the mob at the Capitol.

It began with arguments that, while Trump might have won the electoral college vote, he lost the popular vote. Four years ago, the electoral college also faced self-serving accusations that it had disenfranchised the majority.

The Democrat tribe took to the streets as well, in protest marches in cities across the US under the banner of the Resistance, denying Trump was their president. That was understandable, given his personal behaviour and the policies he advocated. But it did not end there.

Russian conspiracies

The disavowal of the Trump presidency quickly regressed into a dangerous narrative – one that has never properly gone away, despite the dearth of evidence to support it. The claim was not only that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump win, but that Trump himself had actively colluded with Russia to steal the election from his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Anything that had damaged Clinton – including emails showing that the Democratic leadership rigged its own primaries to make sure she was the party’s candidate rather than Bernie Sanders – got sucked into that vast conspiracy theory. That included the messenger of these bad tidings: Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.

For years, the Democrat tribe has invested its considerable energies in fruitless efforts to prove its theory, including the first bid to remove Trump through an entirely self-defeating impeachment process.

None of this could be justified politically. It was a Democrat counterpoint to Trump’s MAGA slogan: “Make America Great Again”. Democrats promised the much less catchy SAPD: “Save America from President Deplorable”.

Antagonistic tango

For this tribe, Trump was an illegitimate president from the outset, one whose election to the highest office in the land revealed something unwholesome about their country they preferred to avert their gaze from because it might implicate them too. Removing Trump largely eclipsed the struggle to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.

The obsession with Trump above everything else seemingly rationalised any means – fair or foul – to be rid of him. Few thought about how this would look to his supporters or to those not already safely ensconced in one or other tribe.

Had they wished to understand, they needed only look to the storming of the Capitol last week. How they felt watching the building being ransacked – a Deplorable putting his feet up contemptuously on Pelosi’s desk – was how Trump’s tribe felt watching their president being denounced as a Russian agent and dragged through impeachment proceedings.

This mood is not likely to dissipate. The two political tribes are locked in an antagonistic tango, mirroring each other’s moves, each other’s grudges, each other’s sense of victimhood. Much more unites them than they would ever care to admit.

Festering culture war

This may be the pathology, but what of the cause.

What we see here is the culmination of a festering culture war stoked by an unhealthy investment by both sides in a simple-minded and highly divisive identity politics.

Much has correctly been made of the white supremacism of the most loyal sections of Trump’s tribe, and that was on show again during the invasion of the Capitol. The confederate flag, the neo-Nazi slogans, the T-shirts extolling the Jewish supremacy of Israel are all indicators of a toxic politics of white grievance that may be less articulated but is still felt by a wider swath of Trump’s supporting constituency.

This ugly identity politics is rightly rejected by the other tribe, but is nonetheless mirrored in its equally deep commitment to identity politics. The progressive coalition of identities at the core of the Democratic Party may be more reassuring to modern sensibilities, but has served in practice to accentuate to parts of the Trump tribe the supposed threat to their white identity.

This is not to equate the justified struggle of Black Lives Matter against endemic racism, including in the police, with the reactionary forces seeking to preserve some notion of white privilege. It is to simply observe that when the political field of battle exclusively revolves around identity, then one cannot be surprised if each side continues to frame its struggle in precisely those terms.

Those who live by the identity sword are likely to die by that same sword.

The Trump tribe want their president, and the Republican Party more generally, to guarantee a white supremacism they fear is being eroded as the Democratic Party flaunts its progressive, multicultural credentials. The Democrat tribe, meanwhile, wants to challenge the old order – and most especially reactionary institutions like local police forces – that have been an oppressive bulwark against change.

This dynamic can lead only to permanent confrontation, bitterness and alienation.

Class struggle

There is a way out of the dead-end culture war that pits one tribe against the other. It is to formulate an alternative, popular politics based on class struggle – the 99 percent against the 1 percent. But neither the Republican nor the Democratic leaderships, nor the respective medias that cheerlead them, has any interest in encouraging a political realignment of this sort.

The Democratic party is not a vehicle for class struggle, after all. Like the Republican party, it is designed to preserve the privileges of an elite. Its biggest donors, like the Republican’s, are drawn from Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Big Pharma, the arms industries. The political battle in the United States is between two parties of capital united by far more than divides them.

The shadow play of US politics is the enervating, antagonistic confrontation of identities described above. While ordinary Americans get stoked into a mutual tribal loathing by a corporate media that profits from this theatre of hate, the elite enjoys a free hand to pillage the planet and the commons.

While we fixate on identities that have been crafted to divide us, while we remain immersed in the surface of politics, while we are distracted from the real battle lines, those elites prosper.

Political paralysis may not harm the establishment. But it is profoundly damaging to us, the 99 percent, when our communities are being ravaged by a pandemic, when our economies are in meltdown, when the planet is on the brink of ecological collapse.

We need a functioning political system that reflects popular priorities, like Medicare For All, a dignified minimum wage and free college; that understands the urgency of the challenges posed by multiple crises; and that can marshal and channel our energies into solutions, not into endless, irresolvable confrontations based on grievances that have been cultivated to weaken us.

Trump is not the enemy. That target is far too small and limited. The class he belongs to is our enemy, as is the system of privilege he has spent the past four years upholding and his successor will defend just as assiduously.

Whether Trump is ultimately convicted or not in the Senate, the system that produced him will be acquitted – by Congress, by the new president, by Wall Street, by the corporate media.

It is we who will pay the price.

The post Trump may be on trial, but the system that produced him will be acquitted first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Democratic Party Fascism: 2020 Edition

Now that Joe Biden will be America’s next president, it might be worthwhile to take a closer look at some of the choices for his cabinet, White House staff, and national security positions. There are some real crazies here, as we shall see. As we dig deeper and deeper, what emerges is a network of people whose views can quite literally be defined as fascist. This is not to deny that in many ways Trump and his administration were worse than many of these officials profiled below. What is noteworthy is that Biden’s team of imperialists is potentially more competent at wielding power and using the machinery of empire; or the national security state as it’s sometimes called, to further the genocidal and ecocidal agendas of US foreign policy, by advocating for more disastrous “interventions” abroad.

Again, to reiterate, I am in no way arguing that Republicans are the better choice. In fact, the Democrat foreign policy agenda is slightly better, but that is not saying much. The point is that both parties are two sides of the same coin in support of capitalism and empire, and that Democrats harbor many of the same fascist ideas as their Republican colleagues; they are simply better at hiding it and are more subtle about their intentions. The point of this essay is to expose that Democrats are also culpable in advancing neo-fascist ideology and there are many more similarities than differences between the parties. It’s slightly painful to have to point this all out, but the abysmal political discourse and low level of critical thinking, the polarization of politics, and the reactivity of those who think about politics as binary choices between good and evil leads to the inevitable “you’re criticizing x; you must be a supporter of y”. Just because this essay focuses on Democrats does not mean the same problems don’t also apply to Republicans.

Starting with the president-elect, Biden claims to have learned from his past “mistakes”. The mistakes are many — being against school integration in the seventies, sponsoring the 1994 crime bill, leading Democrats to favor going to war in Iraq in 2003, and the continuation of the global war on terror (even if the name was changed) during the Obama presidency. Biden is a war criminal and a depraved person — so if it were possible for him to change, he would not allow for the appointment of the nefarious individuals profiled below. But he’s not going to change, and his underlings in power aren’t either.

Spinning through the revolving door of public bureaucracy and corporate executive and board member positions in the private sphere, the individuals profiled below define one of the core features of fascism: the fusion of public and private life in the service of nationalist and imperialist conquest. In no particular order, here are some of the most fascistic and egregiously awful ideas and life choices from a few of Biden’s appointments.

Anthony Blinken

Anthony Blinken is Biden’s pick for Secretary of State. He has worked in various foreign policy positions in the Obama administration. From the beginning, he supported the war in Libya and the genocidal US-backed Saudi Arabian war against Yemen. So he is a very typical bureaucratic, hawkish, liberal interventionist apparatchik. He’s just another boring psycho who probably sleeps like a baby while people are sold into slavery in Libya and kids die of starvation and cholera in Yemen every day due to policies he devised and continues to advocate for.

What makes him interesting are his connections, and many are documented in an article in The Prospect titled “How Biden’s Foreign Policy Team Got Rich”, as well as a Politico piece entitled “The secretive consulting firm that’s become Biden’s Cabinet in waiting”, both of which I rely heavily on here. Along with Michele Flournoy (who was floated as Biden’s Defense Department pick before Lloyd Austin was chosen, both of whom we’ll get to) Blinken worked for a consultancy firm called WestExec Advisors. One of Blinken and Flournoy’s paymasters was one John Thain, a former Merrill Lynch executive, who like Trump, once had a golden toilet and conned his company out of millions.

Like most consulting firms getting fat and rich off helping military contractors, their “work” involves helping large corporations secure contracts by flashing their credentials and contacts, navigating tricky international trade laws and using legal loopholes to secure contracts for clients, leveraging diplomatic intricacies to work with unsavory/unstable/dictatorial foreign powers, as well as using cloak and dagger skills honed as US diplomats to secure backroom deals for multinationals and foreign governments. Sitting at the intersection of banking, military defense, advanced technology, and international relations, these consultants exercise a whole lot of power and influence that the ruling classes cannot do overtly — so they use lowly, greedy, corrupt diplomats like Blinken and Flournoy who function basically as lobbyists and middle-men for the military industrial complex; doing the dirty work of greasing trading partners and dealing with corrupt foreign leaders and the comprador class abroad.

Now, as The Prospect points out, Flournoy’s private sector consulting firm was tied almost exclusively towards defense contracts. Another WestExec employee, one Robert Work, is a former Marine officer who sits on the board of Raytheon. Yet another employee of WestExec is Avril Haines (profiled below), who worked in the CIA under Gina Haspel and approves of CIA torture and assassination programs. Flournoy also worked on the board of Booz Allen Hamilton, who, by the way, consults directly for the Saudi government in military, engineering, and logistics as it massacres civilians in Yemen. As business partners, Blinken and Flournoy are joined at the hip: they both approve and preside over the most pernicious and destructive aspects of the imperial directives within the national security state.

Neera Tanden

Neera Tanden is Biden’s pick for director of Office of Management and Budget. In 2011, following the US and NATO bombing of Libya, an internal email from Tanden to her think tank Center for American Progress was leaked to The Intercept. Here is what Tanden wrote:

We have a giant deficit, they have a lot of oil. Most Americans would choose not to engage in the world because of that deficit. If we want to continue to engage in the world, gestures like having oil rich countries partially pay us back doesn’t seem crazy to me.

This is exactly how fascists talk. This is exactly what Donald Trump said about seizing Syrian oil fields for US control and profiteering. Just like Trump, Tanden is infamous for being a notorious Twitter addict and a toxic online personality. She’s also been accused of punching a journalist.

Of course, what she’s advocated for, the stealing of another nation’s natural resources, is a gross violation of international law, and it’s not exactly a secret that she wrote this. So why is there no outrage from Democrats? Are they that narrow-minded that they’re unaware, or simply don’t care, or believe that Tanden can learn from her “mistakes”, or what? Probably a combination of all of the above, yet it doesn’t matter, as the Democrats just like Republicans, cannot be bothered to be held responsible for the horrible things they say and do. The leadership of both parties believes that they are the elect; great beings that while fallible ultimately are destined to rule regardless of the stupidity or destructiveness of their whims. Apparently nothing disqualifies them.

Ezekiel Emanuel

Mr. Emanuel has been picked to be a part of Biden’s Covid-19 task force. He is the brother of the one and only Rahm Emanuel, a real piece of work in his own right (who was Obama’s chief of staff, and Chicago’s former mayor). Ezekiel is a medical doctor, and chair of Medical Ethics (this is relevant) at University of Pennsylvania.

He managed to write a piece in The Atlantic in 2014: “Why I Hope to Die at 75“. He lists quite a few reasons, such as the declining quality of life for seniors. Then, he shows his true colors, because he explains that one of the major factors in his view is how seniors are no longer contributing to society, and therefore create strains on health care, the economy, etc. He writes that “but the fact is that by 75, creativity, originality, and productivity are pretty much gone for the vast, vast majority of us”. Oh, really now? He continues: “The deadline [of dying at 75] also forces each of us to ask whether our consumption is worth our contribution.”

Hang on, there’s more. In a 2019 interview with MIT Technology Review, Emmanuel doubles down and says that:

When I look at what [the elderly] do, almost all of it is what I classify as play. It’s not meaningful work. They’re riding motorcycles; they’re hiking. Which can all have value—don’t get me wrong. But if it’s the main thing in your life? Ummm, that’s not probably a meaningful life.

Yes, you are reading this right. Our elders who’ve worked their asses off their entire lives for corporations and a government that does not give one single fuck about them should not be entitled to enjoy their retirement because they “play” too much. They are no longer contributing in a manner considered productive or meaningful to this super-genius doctor and bioethicist, therefore, he questions their right to exist, because they are useless consumers in his view.

So, just to be clear here, this is straight up fascist and eugenicist rhetoric. The elderly (and by extension the disabled) are not worthy of life because they no longer work. As he repeatedly implies in both articles, the elderly are a drain on societies’ precious resources. The best he can muster not to sound like a complete ass is he acknowledges the communal ties and “mentorship” the elderly provide, yet even when he tries to seem empathetic it comes off as phony and cold. Elder’s aren’t just mentors teaching us how to contribute more and be more “productive”, they are role models who impart wisdom on how to live a decent life. How about instead we honor, cherish, and look up to our elders not only because they have lessons to teach us, but because they are human beings and worthy of dignity and respect regardless of how “productive” they are. How about we acknowledge that seniors have much more to teach us than can be quantified in a research paper, Dr. Emanuel? How about we realize that seniors are one of the only groups left in our narcissistic society that truly embody the humility, gratitude, and reverence for life that we all claim to want to emulate?

Lloyd Austin

Lloyd Austin is a retired 4-star general who once headed Central Command (CENTCOM) in the US military. Now, he serves on the board of Raytheon, one of the largest defense companies in the world which self-reinforces the belief that our modern war machine is necessary to “create jobs” and “stimulate the economy”, and which sells billions in weapons to various dictatorial regimes around the globe.

Once again, notice the revolving door phenomenon. You acquisition a crap-ton of weapons as a general, use them to kill and maim a whole lot of innocent people on the other side of the world, and you are rewarded after leaving “public service” with a “job” where you show up to a meeting every six months for a hefty salary and a golden parachute of stock options.

This is modern day fascism. There are no more gas chambers, but there are slave-labor private prisons, concentration camps for undocumented immigrants, multiple wars raging abroad, and trillions of dollars flowing into defense, intelligence, and security agencies which only make things more dangerous and insecure for the vast majority of the world’s population, even in the West. The only difference is the media is much better at propaganda today, with much greater capabilities to convince people to rationalize and compartmentalize the immense devastation of today’s lone imperial and colonial superpower, the USA.

Avril Haines

Haines has been nominated for the position of Director of National Intelligence (DNI). In this role she would oversee the alphabet soup of intelligence agencies, most notably, of course, the CIA and NSA. She previously worked her way up through the State Department before becoming the Deputy Director of the CIA in the Obama administration. Obviously only a very dangerous and deluded person would take on such a role anyways, and what’s notable is she supported Gina Haspel as CIA director, who was an architect of the CIA’s torture program. She also worked directly with Obama and John Brennan in the extra-judicial assassination drone bombing program.

As noted above, Haines worked for WestExec Advisors as a consultant. It’s also been reported that one of her clients was Palantir. Palantir, for those who don’t know, is owned by libertarian billionaire and Trump supporter Peter Thiel, and most of their work is tied in with military and intelligence contracts. Palantir was started with CIA money, as the New York Times and others have reported. It’s been reported widely that one of Palantir’s clients is, in fact, the Department of Homeland Security and ICE, which has used its secretive computer surveillance programs to hunt down, arrest, and deport undocumented immigrants. Thiel is also connected to AI facial recognition software start-ups, and Palantir software can also be used by domestic police forces to spy on potential suspects and “criminals”.

So, yet again the Democratic “good guy/gal” spooks like Haines have been caught red-handed working for the same fascistic authoritarians that fund Trump, that lock up innocent Latinos who come to the US in search of a better life, and that brutally murder civilians on the other side of the globe while they get rich off military contracts, in which they set the policies for in the public sector, and then consult for in the private sphere. Is this not as depraved as anything we’ve heard in the past four years about Trump and his administration? Again, where is the outrage? This is such a blatant double-standard, and the lack of any real serious reporting on these issues once again blows out of the water any notion of a “fair and balanced” political stance in the media.

Jake Sullivan

Sullivan has been tapped as Biden’s National Security Advisor. Much like Blinken, he is a liberal-interventionist-imperialist, boring law-nerd psycho who worked in the State Department under Clinton and shifted to Biden’s advisor under Obama after Clinton left State.

There is not much to go on with Sullivan. He is a model liberal elitist national security state technocrat, a faceless drone, a cipher. In case one thought that, since he worked under Obama, he would have some sense of restraint or at least “respectable” liberal decorum, his wife, as it turns out, used to advise John McCain and Joe Lieberman, two of the most bellicose US senators of the past few decades. According to liberal and conservative logic, you’d think that would make for some awkward dinner conversations. But these are not people with any real convictions or beliefs. They are hollow, empty vessels, nihilists in a sense. This guy is an archetypal centrist bureaucrat.

Biden referred to Sullivan as having a “once in a generation intellect”. Coming from such a mediocre mind, that’s really not saying much, but what it means in empire-speak is that this dude actually possesses levers of power and influence to play multiple sides of government in order to smooth over differences in service of America’s imperial ambitions.

In Conclusion

For the love of all that is holy, don’t get it twisted and think that these people were somehow chosen for their positions in spite of these “mistakes”. The paper trail shows a blood-drenched path where they are willing to plan and commit whatever war crimes it takes for their self-aggrandizement, personal enrichment, and to better serve their oligarchic masters. Further, they are actually competent at what they do, which is piloting the death machine that we call the US Empire. These are not good people on the sidelines or the fringes of developing US domestic and foreign policy. These are the architects of a modern-day neo-fascism cloaked in the guise of “liberal democracy”.

Rather, each of these individuals have been selected precisely because they espouse such dangerous and deadly views, are willing to advocate for them without any ability to critically examine their actions or what the consequences will be. They are all well trained at leveraging their connections within the military industrial complex to serve the ruling classes and their capitalist, colonialist, and fascist agendas.

The post Democratic Party Fascism: 2020 Edition first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Solutions Are Obvious, But It Will Take A Revolution To Win Them

The United States has reached a severe crisis point and the next few months will determine how we address it. The COVID-19 pandemic is raging across the country and some areas are struggling to provide enough hospital beds and staff to care for people. The recession is deepening as unemployment benefits and the moratorium on evictions run out. Yet, members of Congress cannot even agree to pass a weak version of the CARES Act they passed last March when the situation was less serious.

This is our moment. This is the time to make demands that the government take action to address the people’s needs. Even the most ‘progressive’ members in Congress  have shown they are unwilling to do more than talk about the crisis. They refuse to use what little power they have to confront their leadership. It is up to us to bring the crisis to members of Congress and demand immediate action.

Twitter

The minor economic recovery that occurred over the summer when businesses started to open back up has faltered. The real number of unemployed people rose in November as hundreds of thousands of people stopped looking for work. On top of that, the crises have gone on for so long that businesses, especially restaurants, are scaling back or closing making the job losses permanent. In fact, 110,000 restaurants have gone out of business this year.

Bill Quigley provides some “tragic facts” about the crisis. Without Congressional action, 87 million workers will lose their sick leave, 30 million people will face eviction and 12 million people will lose their unemployment benefits by the end of the month. The student loan deferment is also set to expire.

Hunger and poverty are rising with 50 million people, including 1 in 4 children, lacking food security. The number of children who are homeless, 1.5 million, is at a record high. And fewer students are applying for college.

Unemployment, homelessness and hunger put people at risk of poor health and death from COVID-19 and other causes. It is all connected and there are obvious solutions to these crises. The problem is that Congress is refusing to act.

Sarah Lazare points out that Congress had no trouble approving a $740 billion budget for the Pentagon on December 2. She writes, “That we can find the mon­ey for war but not for coro­n­avirus relief expos­es the moral rot at the cen­ter of U.S. pol­i­tics, a rot that must be dug out and expunged if we are to get through this crisis.”

This week, Congress agreed to a one week extension of funding to keep the government open and to give them more time to agree to a COVID-19 relief package. The package currently being discussed is much smaller, just over $900 billion, than the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act passed by the House last May. It would give $300/week in unemployment benefits for 18 weeks and extend the two pandemic unemployment programs, one that targets gig and self-employed workers and the other that extends unemployment benefits. It would provide some funding to small businesses and local and state governments as well as funding for vaccines and health care. It will also extend the eviction moratorium and student loan deferment, give funds to schools and increase food stamps. It will not provide direct payments to people.

The sticking point seems to be that the Republicans are insisting on immunity for businesses from liability for workers being infected with COVID-19 on the job. There have been record numbers of complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this year by workers who are not being provided with adequate protection on the job. The Democrats are refusing to concede on this provision in the bill, which is far weaker than what is needed.

CNBC.

Project Syndicate reports that scholars who study wealth inequality and its impact on the overall economy are pretty clear about the problems and solutions. The wealthy, who have benefited greatly during the pandemic, hoard most of their money, keeping it out of circulation. The rest of the people spend any money they have out of necessity to cover basics like food and housing, but this doesn’t add up to much when the bottom 80% of people only hold 14% of the wealth.

The consensus is that the best way to stimulate the economy and reduce wealth inequality is to give more money to the bottom 80%. Project Syndicate cites policy recommendations from MIT’s Task Force on the Work of the Future that include taxing the rich, raising the minimum wage and strengthening collective bargaining, and providing government healthcare, free education and more extensive unemployment benefits.

These are similar to demands that many groups are making. This week, taxi drivers from New York to Maryland converged on Washington, DC to demand relief. They rallied at the Capitol and drove around downtown with signs on their cars. Health care workers continue to strike over long hours and lack of protection. Students at Columbia University, the most expensive school in the country, are preparing for a tuition strike to protest student debt. Teachers are also resisting school re-openings. Churches are raising funds to buy up and forgive medical debt.

One demand that is getting a lot of attention is National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). The Congressional Budge Office came out with a report this week that found NIMA would save $650 billion a year in administrative costs. If it included long term care, it would still save $300 billion. There is a NIMA bill in the House that is pretty good, HR 1384, introduced by Pramila Jayapal.

Jimmy Dore is calling on so-called progressive Democrats who champion NIMA to demand a vote on HR 1384, which has 115 co-sponsors, by threatening not to support Pelosi for Speaker of the House if she refuses. The Democrats will have a slim majority in the House next year, so even if as few as 15 members had the courage to do this, they could force a vote. This would expose whether the Democrats who have run on NIMA and won really mean it. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is the largest caucus in the House. They have the power to stop legislation, but to date, they have refused to use that power.

If there were ever a time to demand NIMA, it is now. At least 14 million more people have lost their health insurance this year, bringing us to similar numbers of uninsured people as there were in 2009 when the health reform process took place. But, sadly, it doesn’t look good. Even the “Squad” in Congress is refusing to go against Pelosi.

People’s Dispatch.

This is why it is up to us to take action. We can’t count on Congress or a Biden-Harris White House to take action to meet our needs. In his most recent article, Chris Hedges calls out the liberal class that called itself “The Resistance” while Trump was in office. Where will that liberal class be in 2021 as the pandemic, recession and right wing violence escalate?

The liberals and those who are funded by Democratic Party-aligned groups will not demand what is needed unless there is a strong left that exposes them and holds them accountable. In fact, groups like the Poor People’s Campaign have already abandoned support for NIMA and are supporting the totally inadequate Biden-Harris healthcare proposal.

To win what we need, we must be clear about what we are demanding. The People’s Agenda is a good place to start. And we must take action in our communities to pressure lawmakers at every level, to withhold our support through strikes, boycotts and other actions, to build networks of mutual aid to sustain us through these crises and to create alternative institutions that are founded in equity and democratic participation. This is what revolution looks like.

Caitlin Johnstone wrote in “In an Insane World, Revolution Is the Moderate Position,” that our demands for putting people and the planet over profits and for respect for human rights are not radical, although the power structure will tell us they are. If we want to defeat the extreme right, we must create a country where all can prosper. It is economic insecurity and the power holder’s blaming certain sectors of society for it instead of taking responsibility that is fueling division and violence.

Johnstone concludes with these wise words:

To live a revolutionary life, you should insist on the normality and mundaneness of your own position. Sanity should not be special and unusual, and we should not participate in the delusion that it is. Let your life be an expression of the common sense ordinariness of revolution.

It is time to take revolution mainstream.

The post The Solutions Are Obvious, But It Will Take A Revolution To Win Them first appeared on Dissident Voice.