Category Archives: War

Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen

Writing about his visit to the world’s largest weapons bazaar, held in London during October, Arron Merat describes reading this slogan emblazoned above Raytheon’s stall: “Strike with Creativity.” Raytheon manufactures Paveway laser-guided bombs, fragments of which have been found in the wreckage of schools, hospitals, and markets across Yemen. How can a weapons manufacturer that causes such death, bloodshed, and misery lay claim to creativity?

“Strike with Creativity” (Cartoon credit: Sean Reynolds)

Greta Thunberg, sitting alone outside her school as she initiated a movement of climate strikes, could properly invoke the words “Strike with Creativity.” She inspired Friday classroom walkouts, worldwide, by young people protesting destruction and death caused by climate catastrophe. Her admirable goal is to save the planet by promoting such strikes.

Coming from Raytheon, the words “Strike with Creativity” sound chilling, grotesque.

Consider the Raytheon weapons now demolishing Yemen. Fragments of Raytheon and other U.S. manufactured weapons dot blast sites where Yemeni survivors struggle to collect body parts and scattered bits of clothing, which are needed to compile lists of the dead.

In September, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) hit a detention center in the Dhamar governorate, in the northern highlands of Yemen with seven airstrikes that killed at least 100 people and “pulverized” the area, according to Bethan McKernan, reporting for The Guardian. “It took five days to remove all the bodies impaled on metalwork ripped from the walls in the blasts,” she wrote.

After the attack, McKernan interviewed Adel, a 22-year-old security guard  employed at the site. His brother, Ahmed, also a guard, was among those killed. Adel pointed to a blanket, visible on the second floor of a building where the guards had slept. “You can see Ahmed’s blue blanket up there,” said Adel. “There were 200 people here but now it’s just ghosts.”

Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Saudi-led coalition bombarding and blockading Yemen have killed tens of thousands, wrecking the country’s already enfeebled infrastructure and bringing Yemen to the brink of a famine that may kill millions. President Trump signaled additional support for Saudi Arabia on October 11 when the U.S. military announced it would send thousands more troops to the kingdom, bringing the number of U.S. troops there to 14,000.

Just as Greta Thunberg insists adults must become intensely aware of details and possible solutions regarding the climate catastrophe, people in the U.S. should learn about ways to end economic as well as military war waged against Yemen. For us to understand why Yemenis would link together in the loose coalition of fighters called Houthis requires deepening awareness of how financial institutions, in attempting to gain control of valuable resources, have pushed farmers and villagers across Yemen into debt and desperation. Isa Blumi writes about this sordid history in his 2018 book, Destroying Yemen, What Chaos in Arabia Tells Us about the World.

Blumi details how Yemen’s society, largely independent and agrarian, became a guinea pig for International Monetary Fund (IMF) “development projects” which, based on strikingly colonialist theories of modernization, crushed grassroots institutions and amounted to “cost-effective ways of prying Yemen’s wealth out of its peoples’ hands.”

Local Development Associations, for example, were formed during the 1970s to help people hang on to their land, cooperatively determine what crops they would grow and decide how they would use the profits. But U.S. Agency for International Development “experts” pressured these groups to instead produce “cash crops strictly meant for export.”

“After all,” Blumi writes, “with the right kind of cash crop and the use of American labor-saving technology, pesticides and fertilizers included, Yemen’s villagers were no longer needed in the fields. Alternatively, they could work in cities in sweatshops producing clothes for a global market or the soon booming oil and gas projects.”

Blumi’s book documents the fiercely stubborn creativity with which, decade by decade, Yemenis kept surprising the West, exploring and pursuing countermeasures to resist its exploitative control, and risking the West’s destructive anger.

Yemenis resisted U.N. and IMF prescriptions of global integration and debt peonage. When farmers desperate for cash went to work in, for instance, Saudi Arabia, “they consistently sent remittances home to families that saved the cash and invested in local projects, using local bank transfers.” Imams and village leaders encouraged people to resist imperialist “modernization” projects, knowing that the West’s preferred “modern” role for them was as wage slaves with no hope of developing a better future.

The “Houthi” movement began when Husayn al-Houthi, an opponent of Yemen’s dictatorial (and Western-allied) Saleh regime, tried to defend the water and land rights of locals in the Sa’adah province in northwestern Yemen. Sharing what was then a porous and informal border with the KSA, they often found themselves in disputes with Saudi border patrols. They also resisted ‘structural adjustment’ demands by the IMF to privatize some of Yemen’s best farming and grazing land. When the dictator Saleh made criminal concessions to the KSA, al-Houthi and his followers persisted with protests. Each new confrontation won over thousands of people, eventually spreading beyond Sa’adah.

Blumi cites numerous instances in which Yemen’s economic assets were pillaged, with Saleh’s approval, by “well-heeled global financial interests” who now designate Saleh’s successor Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi as Yemen’s “internationally recognized government.” Hadi governs from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, due to a stunning lack of Yemeni support.

In 2008, an extremely wealthy member of the bin Laden family aimed to build a bridge across the mouth of the Red Sea from Yemen to Djibouti. The project could generate hundreds of billions for investors, and quicken the process of exploitative modernization; but it would also require building railways and roads where there are only villages now. People living along the coastline of the Red Sea would be in the way.

Since 2015, fighting has been concentrated in this area, called the Tihama. Control of the coastline would also allow financial takeover of potentially profitable Yemeni fisheries. Blumi says billions of dollars of annual income are at stake, noting with irony that a war causing starvation is being waged, in part, to gain control over food assets.

A recent United Nations report says that Yemen is now “on course to become the world’s poorest country” with 79 percent of the population living under the poverty line and 65 percent classified as “extremely poor.” The Yemen Data Project estimated 600 civilian structures have been destroyed, monthly, in Yemen, mostly by airstrikes.

“Staple food items are now on average 150 per cent higher than before the crisis escalated,” says a 2019 report by the Norwegian Refugee Council. “Teachers, health workers and civil servants in the northern parts of the country haven’t been paid in years,” according to the same report.

Mainstream media reports could convince concerned onlookers that Yemenis have been particularly vulnerable to violence and war because they are socially and economically backward, having failed to modernize. Blumi insists we recognize the guilt of financial elites from multiple countries within and beyond the Gulf states as well as institutions within the World Bank, the IMF and the UN. It’s wrong to blame “eighty percent of a country’s population currently being starved to death”

Here in the United States, news commentators discussing the Trump impeachment story liken the breaking developments to “bombshell after bombshell.” In Yemen, real and horribly modern bombshells, made in the United States, kill and maim Yemeni civilians, including children, every day.

Greta Thunberg continues calling us to join her on an unfamiliar, unprecedented, and arduous path to change course as our world careens toward terrifying devastation. We’re offered a chance to resist destructive, albeit “modern” means of exploiting the planet’s resources. A true strike for creativity, necessarily challenging militarism and greed, will help prevent the hellish work of destroying Yemen.

Map (Credit: Political Geography Now)

A version of this article appeared in The Progressive Magazine

War: Ruinations and Ruminations

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

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

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

Luminaries Against War Down Through the Ages

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

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

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

Aeschylus: In war, truth is the first casualty.

Aesop: Any excuse will serve a tyrant.

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

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

Major General Smedley Butler. War is a racket.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albert Einstein: War is an act of murder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Born in the Womb of War: The American Revolution

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

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

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

Civil War

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

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

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

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

WWI

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

WWII

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

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

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

Vietnam War and the Unprecedented Carnage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Nearly 950 churches and pagodas destroyed by bombing.

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

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

–Over 15,000 bridges destroyed by bombing.

–10 million cubic meters of dikes destroyed by bombing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Afghanistan and Iraqi Wars

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

More Questions About War

Self Defense?

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

Conscription?

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

Exemptions?

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

Popularity?

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

Amnesty?

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

Humanitarian?

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

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

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

Morally Just?

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

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

MAD: The Safety Valve?

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

Born to Kill?

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

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

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

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

About War as an Act of Murder

Its First Implication

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

A Second Implication

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

Yet Another Implication

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

Why War?

What causes war and is war inevitable?

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

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

In Closing

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

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

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

Climate and the Little Green Women and Men

The Little Green Women and Men (LGWM) are us, humanoids, especially those living in the west, believing we command Mother Earth. Well, no wonder, there is a group among us, who claims to be “God’s Chosen People” – and they act it all the way. So much so, that they and their influence on LGWMs, have almost managed to dominate all the women, men and resources of Mother Earth.

Humanoids, LGWMs, are easily manipulated. They have chosen to be green, because “green” is IN. They are ‘little’, because in the big scheme of things, as compared to Mother Nature, for example, they are diminutive. Very.  Yet, they pretend to command the climate. Green parties all over the western world are multiplying fast; almost like the legendary grain on a chessboard. They are called green but they come in all shades, from brown to green to red, and everything in between. In Germany the Greens have become so popular that during the next elections they may catch up to 30 % of the votes.

Question is: What will they do when they come to real power, when they are in Government, confronted with the interests of big business? Will they bend over, cave in – as did the Socialist parties throughout Europe during the last half of the 20th Century?

Today, one has to be green to belong. Who is green, (pretends) fighting for the environment, for the protection of the environment – which is good, per se. But fighting for the environment is not a linear affair, as they, the LGWMs, are made to believe, and many of them believe, as “science” tells them to believe. When they believe, they create a comfort zone for themselves, where guilt disappears. They don’t question anymore. THE authority, called “science”, tells them the “facts” to believe. And if they do, they are almost absolved from guilt.

Almost – because to be really absolved in our western ultra-capitalist world, only money can really absolve you. So, they – or we, collectively, whether we believe in the propaganda or not (fortunately some of us don’t), will be asked to pay – to pay environmental fees and taxes of all kinds and shapes. To be more attractive they may be called ‘climate taxes’ for using fossil fuel, for buying plastic, for flying in airplanes, for consuming no end and-so-on. Hardly anybody asks what will be done with this new tax money.

As it cannot stop climate from changing, it will most likely end up in private banks, mostly Wall Street banks, where the billions collected will grow into speculative multi-trillions-dollar bubbles. And we know what eventually happens with bubbles. We all remember the Carbon Funds, which apparently are not dead yet, but will rather be resuscitated in this new fervor to fight climate change.

Stamped by our western Judeo-Christian guilt culture, we truly believe from the bottom of our hearts that paying a climate tax will free us from environmental responsibilities and put us back into our comfort zones. We then comfortably and guiltlessly continue driving our huge gas guzzling, CO2-emitting SUVs. That’s why the corporate manipulators — BIG-BIG money and their media — tells us every day, the Climate Armageddon is coming. So, we pay to postpone it.

It was coming already at the first UN-sponsored Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of 1992 which was extended to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, an international treaty that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on scientific consensus that (1) global warming is occurring and (2) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997, by 192 nations. The Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005.

But despite all the warnings of Armageddon, nothing has happened. Even if mankind was responsible for the CO2 production that changes climate, mankind, or rather the LGWMs, have ignored it. Climate Armageddon is still written all over the walls. But it moves from wall to wall, further into the future, as nobody seems to be interested in preventing it.

After Kyoto followed Copenhagen, the next UN-sponsored Climate Change Conference, also called the Copenhagen Summit, in December 2009. Similar discourse, and new targets were set and propagated; billions of dollars were pledged by governments – but few paid-in, mostly because already then it was not quite clear who should administer the funds and who should invest in what and where to stop the climate from changing. Copenhagen also coined the 350-slogan. It stands for 350 ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide (CO2) which has been identified as the safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point. As of today, there is climate NGO called 350.org.

In 2019, CO2 is expected to pass the 410-ppm level.

As per the New Scientist (25 January 2019), carbon dioxide levels will soar past the 410 ppm milestone in 2019. We will pass yet another unwelcome milestone this year. The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to rise by 2.8 parts per million to 411 ppm in 2019 – passing 410 ppm just a few years after first passing the 400 ppm mark.

No stopping of climate change is happening and Armageddon is moving on.

What this climate movement doesn’t seem to understand, or those that manage it do not want the world to know, that climate is a complex structure of ever shifting values and natural phenomena; that climate is influenced by many factors which are all inter-related and orders of magnitude more important than what man can ever contribute. There is the sun with its constantly changing eruptions and radiation emissions, perhaps the most important influence; then the oceans, while they absorb CO2, they also emit CO2 – and most important according to a 30-year NASA study the oceans themselves change temperatures in natural intervals of roughly ten years, which is called El Niño in the Pacific and the North Atlantic Oscillation in the Atlantic. They are responsible for large-scale weather patterns, also orders of magnitude larger than what man could ever create. In addition, there are the volcanos around the world, many of which are active. A massive eruption of one of them; i.e., Iceland, the Philippines, Italy, Hawaii may produce a multiple of CO2 levels of what man produces in one year.

And we should also be aware of what is not much talked about, that the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have developed since the sixties a weather control-program that functions with electromagnetic waves emitted in the Ionosphere, altering ionospheric temperatures to create specific weather patterns. The intention is to weaponize the weather so as to control entire regions by weather, floods, droughts, hurricanes… you name it. This program has been tested and applied during the Vietnam war, when it was capable to prolong and enhance the Monsoon season, so as the paths the Vietcong used to transit from the North to the South were made impassable. That is really man-made.

The program used to be called HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) and was stationed in Alaska. It has now nominally been dismantled, but continuous more clandestinely to be sophisticated enough to allow the US to control the world’s weather by 2030, according to the Pentagon.

Talking about military and climate – the wars and conflicts mostly inspired by the US and carried out by the Pentagon, NATO or their mercenary proxies — cause more than half of the man-made CO2 emissions. This is a fact that may never be discussed in these UN-sponsored climate conferences — a strict rule imposed by Washington.

These are just a few climate-influencing elements, the composite of which is much larger than each one acting linearly on its own, because they are all inter-related, they are all acting holistically and dynamically – in other words, not predictably – and with a power orders of magnitude larger than CO2 by itself, let alone man-made CO2 which is but a tiny fraction of all greenhouse gases produced by nature. And these ever-occurring climate changes, are well controlled by nature, as NASA’s Earth Observatory found out by studying the oceans for over 30 years (). They are kept in balance by our Mother Earth, no matter how much we would like to influence them.

*****

Notice this: We are today threatened by nuclear war, a nuclear war that could wipe out mankind within a few days – yet we talk and demonstrate for climate change prevention, man-made CO2 reduction. Public Icon, the Swedish teenager, Greta, and her followers, the Friday for the Future kids and those that call themselves “Extinction Rebellion”, take to the streets in so-called climate strikes by the hundreds of thousands throughout the world.

Seriously, imagine the use of CO2-producing fossil fuel and an industrial agriculture infesting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the engine for 90% of the world’s economy – and let’s not forget the CO2 produced by wars and hostilities around the globe – all of which is also the engine for huge corporate profits!  Does anyone seriously believe that hundreds of thousands, or even millions, demonstrating against climate change  will have an iota of influence on corporate behavior and profit oriented growth policies?

These kids – the LGWMs – are dreaming. Most of them anyway. Some of their leaders are directed by the same corporations they pretend to fight and to demonstrate against. Generally, the LGWM movement doesn’t have a clear agenda, other than talking loosely and abstractly about CO2 reduction. But they don’t really know how to go about it and what this means, what steps need to be taken and by whom, what implications and consequences this would have for our today’s civilization and every-day life, yes, theirs too, the climate kids’ every-day life. Thy have no program of what has to change; they just believe the change has to come from ‘outside’; i.e., the politicians. No idea either that these same politicians are captured by the same industrial, financial and specifically the war industrial complex and that this highly capitalist money-making machinery also commands the propaganda apparatus on which they drive and thrive.

These climate folks managed to organize a special UN Climate event preceding the 2019 UN General Assembly, during which the most powerful and obnoxious representatives of nations and heads of states, notably of the US of A, talked aggression no end to those countries that do not bend to their orders and do not want to submit their people and natural resources for exploitation and profit of the western elite. In the special firing line are the usual condemned and sanctioned – but almost the only true sovereign countries left on this globe – Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea – and, of course, Russia and China.

Instead of seeking peace, the essence of the UN Charter, the UN has become a forum for war declarations and climate change. If ever man wants to make a true contribution to climate change, it can only be done by PEACE, through peaceful cooperation and solidarity among nations across the globe.

The LGWM movement has to wake up to a reality which is not propaganda-based and has to do with our behavior, with our entire attitude, with our socioeconomic system, with a turbo-capitalist system that is growth-based with ever larger profit margins. The system to survive has to expand every day, every year.  It induces extreme consumerism, thrives on fashion trends, and on generation of massive waste, most of which is not biodegradable, but accumulates and – yes, influences our ambiance, living conditions – and eventually being part of a holistic world, also influences the climate.

We are living in a throw-away society, driven by an industrial apparatus that uses obsolescence as a tool for consumerism and growth, to generate more profit, no matter how much more non-renewable resources will have to be sacrificed and wasted – ending up as waste, rotting away, polluting the air we breathe, the soil we use to grow our food and the water – the all-important water, without which no life is possible.

To slow down and eventually stop the rapid decline of our existence on this lovely and generous planet, we ALL have to contribute in solidarity to PEACE. A life in peace is a sine qua non for improving our planet’s environment and thereby our sheer living conditions, quality of life, and foremost to bring about more societal equality, less poverty a better distribution of wealth. All of this requires a massive awakening, an awakening towards a consciousness that is immune to egocentricity to fake propaganda that is 180 degrees opposite to the current selfie-culture.

In the 1950s, I’m old enough to remember, we wrote letters to our friends and relatives, shopped in corner grocery stores, bought beverages in recycled glass bottles, filled our staple food from bulk containers into recycled paper bags, and wrapped fresh vegetables into newspapers (not plastic), went to public phone booths to call our girlfriends, walked, or biked to school, and if at all, our parents had small cars, no SUVs, prepared our sandwiches for school, used the same cloths for years, talked with each other eye-to-eye, enjoyed nature.

Today, nature is the same in the city or the countryside, because we stumble through nature wherever we go watching the little screen of an obsolescence disposable smartphone, with which we chat, smile and also make some phone calls. Then, in the post WWII fifties, our lives were more modest and happier. Then, we consumed less than what Mother Earth could sustainably provide us with. In the 1960s we started exceeding that threshold. Today, we, in the west, use three to four times what nature can give us (Africa about 0.6) and that for sure will not go on forever.

Perhaps we have to think about jumping forward to a life style of the fifties and that consciously and conscientiously – and we won’t have to worry about 350-ppm CO2 as the limit for sustainable climate, because it will happen naturally and climate change will continue to happen naturally, as it always did for 4 billion years of our planet’s existence and never bothered us. And most importantly, we have to learn to consciously remind ourselves that we are a solidary peaceful society, and we have to consciously disconnect from MSM, turn off our ears to the ever blaring and lying media propaganda lyrics. Consciousness is our integrity and base for social cohesiveness.

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

The Wounds of War in Afghanistan

Recovering from a broken hip, peace activist Kathy Kelly reflects on her experiences with people disabled and traumatized by war.

*****

Its economy gutted by war, Afghanistan’s largest cash crop remains opium. Yet farmers there do grow other crops for export. Villagers in the Wazir Tangi area of Nangarhar province, for example, cultivate pine nuts. As a precaution, this year at harvest time, village elders notified the governor of the province that they would be bringing in migrant workers to help them collect the nuts. Hired laborers, including children, would camp out in the pine nut forests, they informed the officials. They hoped their letter could persuade U.S. and ISIS forces, which had been fighting in or near their villages, not to attack.

On September 17, 2019, exhausted from a long day of work, the migrant workers reached their rest spot for the night, and began building fires and making camp. In the early hours of the following morning, a U.S. drone attacked, killing at least thirty-two people. More than forty others were wounded. The U.S. military claims that ISIS fighters were hiding among the farmers who were killed.

I followed this story while recuperating from surgery after breaking my hip on a train from Chicago to Washington, D.C. Before the train even reached the first stop out of Chicago, kindly emergency services workers had bundled me off to the Memorial South Bend hospital. I was well cared for, and now a physical therapist is already helping me with movement and exercise.

I read about the laborers who survived the attack on the pine nut forest. According to Haidar Khan, the owner of the pine nut trees, about 150 workers were there for harvesting, and some are still missing. One survivor described people asleep in tents pitched near the farm when the attack happened. “Some of us managed to escape, some were injured but many were killed,” said Juma Gul, a resident of northeastern Kunar province and one of the migrant workers who had travelled to harvest and shell pine nuts.

Disabled men await receiving duvets

I can’t help but wonder: Where are the missing? What care was available for wounded survivors? How many were children? Did a nearby facility offer X-rays, surgery, medications, clean bandages, prostheses, walkers, crutches, nourishing food and physical therapy?

Disabled people receive duvets in Kabul

I remember on visits to Afghanistan watching disabled victims of war in the capital city of Kabul as they struggled along unpaved roads, using battered crutches or primitive prostheses. They were coming to collect free duvets being distributed to people who otherwise might not survive the harsh winter weather. Their bodies so clearly bore the brunt of war.

Arriving in wheelchairs to receive duvets

In Kabul, earlier this month, my twenty-one-year-old friend Muhammad Ali reminded me of the importance of asking questions. Wanting me and others to understand more about the impact of war on his generation, he prodded: “Kathy, do you know about Jehanzib, Saboor, Qadeer, and Abdul, these brothers who were killed in Jalalabad?”

The brothers, ranging from twenty-four to thirty years of age, were killed by an Afghan “strike force” trained by the CIA, according to the news. In Jalalabad, two of them worked for the government and two ran their own businesses. The squad that entered their homes beat them severely and then killed them.

Family and friends felt sure the brothers had no links to militias.  “They were kind and humble people, anyone who knew them loved the boys,” Naqeeb Sakhizada, who owns a shop in the area and knew the brothers for more than ten years, told Al Jazeera. “They cared for people and also had a good sense of humor.”

In her WWI memoir, Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain wrote about volunteering as a nurse toward the end of WWI. Her clinic, in France, received European soldiers from the western front who arrived mutilated, maimed, exhausted and traumatized. Her fiancée, her brother and two close friends were killed in the war. One day, she thought she must be imagining the line of soldiers who marched past the clinic tents looking robust, upright and well fed. Then she realized they were from the United States.

New recruits come, and the war machine grinds on.

Looking forward, perhaps we won’t see so many lines of U.S. soldiers marching through villages and cities in Afghanistan. A soldier operating a drone can continue the United States mission from afar.

We must still bear in mind Vera Brittain’s pertinent comments about the realities of war:

I have only one wish in life now and that is for the ending of the War. I wonder how much really all you have seen and done has changed you. Personally, after seeing some of the dreadful things I have to see here, I feel I shall never be the same person again, and wonder if, when the War does end, I shall have forgotten how to laugh. The other day I did involuntarily laugh at something and it felt quite strange. Some of the things in our ward are so horrible . . . one day last week I came away from a really terrible amputation dressing I had been assisting at—it was the first after the operation—with my hands covered with blood and my mind full of a passionate fury at the wickedness of war, and I wished I had never been born.

I look forward to going on with my life, once I recover from this broken hip. I can only imagine Vera Brittain’s overwhelming ordeal. And I can only imagine the trauma of a child laborer awakened by an aerial attack in a pine nut forest, racing through the trees in hopes of escape, and perhaps surviving in great pain without a limb, or missing a brother, or wishing he had never been born.

• This article first appeared on The Progressive website.

• Photos by Dr. Hakim

10 Ways that the Climate Crisis and Militarism are Intertwined

The environmental justice movement that is surging globally is intentionally intersectional, showing how global warming is connected to issues such as race, poverty, migration and public health. One area intimately linked to the climate crisis that gets little attention, however, is militarism. Here are some of the ways these issues–and their solutions–are intertwined.

(1) The US military protects Big Oil and other extractive industries. The US military has often been used to ensure that US companies have access to extractive industry materials, particularly oil, around the world. The 1991 Gulf War against Iraq was a blatant example of war for oil; today the US military support for Saudi Arabia is connected to the US fossil fuel industry’s determination to control access to the world’s oil. Hundreds of the US military bases spread around the world are in resource-rich regions and near strategic shipping lanes. We can’t get off the fossil fuel treadmill until we stop our military from acting as the world’s protector of Big Oil.

(2) The Pentagon is the single largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the world. If the Pentagon were a country, its fuel use alone would make it the 47th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, greater than entire nations such as Sweden, Norway or Finland. US military emissions come mainly from fueling weapons and equipment, as well as lighting, heating and cooling more than 560,000 buildings around the world.

(3) The Pentagon monopolizes the funding we need to seriously address the climate crisis. We are now spending over half of the federal government’s annual discretionary budget on the military when the biggest threat to US national security is not Iran or China, but the climate crisis. We could cut the Pentagon’s current budget in half and still be left with a bigger military budget than China, Russia, Iran and North Korea combined. The $350 billion savings could then be funnelled into the Green New Deal. Just one percent of the 2019 military budget of $716 billion would be enough to fund 128,879 green infrastructure jobs instead.

(4) Military operations leave a toxic legacy in their wake. US military bases despoil the landscape, pollute the soil, and contaminate the drinking water. At the Kadena Base in Okinawa, the US Air Force has polluted local land and water with hazardous chemicals, including arsenic, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos and dioxin. Here at home, the EPA has identified over 149 current or former military bases as SuperFund sites because Pentagon pollution has left local soil and groundwater highly dangerous to human, animal, and plant life. According to a 2017 government report, the Pentagon has already spent $11.5 billion on environmental cleanup of closed bases and estimates $3.4 billion more will be needed.

(5) Wars ravage fragile ecosystems that are crucial to sustaining human health and climate resiliency. Direct warfare inherently involves the destruction of the environment, through bombings and boots-on-the-ground invasions that destroy the land and infrastructure. In the Gaza Strip, an area that suffered three major Israeli military assaults between 2008 and 2014, Israel’s bombing campaigns targeted sewage treatment and power facilities, leaving 97% of Gaza’s freshwater contaminated by saline and sewage, and therefore unfit for human consumption. In Yemen, the Saudi-led bombing campaign has created a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe, with more than 2,000 cases of cholera now being reported each day. In Iraq, environmental toxins left behind by the Pentagon’s devastating 2003 invasion include depleted uranium, which has left children living near US bases with an increased risk of congenital heart disease, spinal deformities, cancer, leukemia, cleft lip and missing or malformed and paralyzed limbs.

(6) Climate change is a “threat multiplier” that makes already dangerous social and political situations even worse. In Syria, the worst drought in 500 years led to crop failures that pushed farmers into cities, exacerbating the unemployment and political unrest that contributed to the uprising in 2011. Similar climate crises have triggered conflicts in other countries across the Middle East, from Yemen to Libya. As global temperatures continue to rise, there will be more ecological disasters, more mass migrations and more wars. There will also be more domestic armed clashes—including civil wars—that can spill beyond borders and destabilize entire regions. The areas most at risk are sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South, Central and Southeast Asia.

(7) US sabotages international agreements addressing climate change and war. The US has deliberately and consistently undermined the world’s collective efforts to address the climate crisis by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and speeding the  transition to renewable energy. The US refused to join the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord was the latest example of this flagrant disregard for nature, science, and the future. Similarly, the US refuses to join the International Criminal Court that investigates war crimes, violates international law with unilateral invasions and sanctions, and is withdrawing from nuclear agreements with Russia. By choosing to prioritize our military over diplomacy, the US sends the message that “might makes right” and makes it harder to find solutions to the climate crisis and military conflicts.

(8) Mass migration is fueled by both climate change and conflict, with migrants often facing militarized repression. A 2018 World Bank Group report estimates that the impacts of climate change in three of the world’s most densely populated developing regions—sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America—could result in the displacement and internal migration of more than 140 million people before 2050. Already, millions of migrants from Central America to Africa to the Middle East are fleeing environmental disasters and conflict. At the US border, migrants are locked in cages and stranded in camps. In the Mediterranean, thousands of refugees have died while attempting dangerous sea voyages. Meanwhile, the arms dealers fuelling the conflicts in these regions are profiting handsomely from selling arms and building detention facilities to secure the borders against the refugees.

(9) Militarized state violence is leveled against communities resisting corporate-led environmental destruction. Communities that fight to protect their lands and villages from oil drills, mining companies, ranchers, agribusiness, etc. are often met with state and paramilitary violence. We see this in the Amazon today, where indigenous people are murdered for trying to stop clear-cutting and incineration of their forests. We see it in Honduras, where activists like Berta Caceres have been gunned down for trying to preserve their rivers. In 2018, there were 164 documented cases of environmentalists murdered around the world. In the US, the indigenous communities protesting plans to build the Keystone oil pipeline in South Dakota were met by police who targeted the unarmed demonstrators with tear gas, bean-bag rounds, and water cannons—intentionally deployed in below-freezing temperatures. Governments around the world are expanding their state-of-emergency laws to encompass climate-related upheavals, perversely facilitating the repression of environmental activists who have been branded as “eco-terrorists” and who are subjected to counterinsurgency operations.

(10) Climate change and nuclear war are both existential threats to the planet. Catastrophic climate change and nuclear war are unique in the existential threat they pose to the very survival of human civilization. The creation of nuclear weapons—and their proliferation–was spurred by global militarism, yet nuclear weapons are rarely recognized as a threat to the future of life on this planet. Even a very “limited” nuclear war, involving less than 0.5% of the world’s nuclear weapons, would be enough to cause catastrophic global climate disruption and a worldwide famine, putting up to 2 billion people at risk. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set its iconic Doomsday Clock to 2 minutes to midnight, showing the grave need for the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The environmental movement and the anti-nuke movement need to work hand-in-hand to stop these threats to planetary survival.

To free up billions of Pentagon dollars for investing in critical environmental projects and to eliminate the environmental havoc of war, movements for a livable, peaceful planet need to put “ending war” at the top of the “must do” list.

•  Author’s Note:  For a full understanding of the intersection between war and the climate, read Gar Smith’s The War and Environmental Reader.

Peace versus Climate

Monday, 23 September, the UN in New York hosted a special meeting on Climate Change. There were massive predominantly youth demonstrations of tens of thousands around the globe, many of them in New York, one of them led by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish 16-year-old climate activist, who is sponsored mostly by Soros and his clan to travel around the world and address world leaders to act on climate change – preventing climate change, stop climate change. Others with the same objective, called “Friday’s for the Future”, originated in Germany, students striking every Friday – meaning literally not going to school, on behalf of stopping climate change.

And there is yet another international group, the “Extinction Rebellion” (ER). They all are against the use of hydrocarbons as a major energy resource. Me too. But what’s the alternative? Do they promote and push for active research in, for example, solar energy? Not that I have heard of. There is no viable revolution without a viable alternative that has ever been successful.

The worldwide spill-over is apparently enormous. On Saturday some youth groups met with UN Secretary General, António Guterres, telling him that Climate Change is the world’s political issue number ONE. Mr. Guterres did not contradict, yes, it was a key problem and had to be addressed and world leaders needed to commit to take actions. The UN General assembly will further dedicate part of its program to Climate Change.

Wait a minute!  Climate Change number ONE?  How about PEACE? Nobody thought about that? Not even Guterres, whose mandate it is to lead the world body towards conflict solutions that bring PEACE. This is the very mandate that the UN has been founded on. Not climate, but PEACE.

Have these western kids, mostly from better-off families, been brainwashed to the extent that they do not realize that the world has other priorities, namely, stop the indiscriminate killing, by never ending US-launched and instigated wars around the globe?

Do they not realize that their brothers and sisters in Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, and in many more places of conflict and extreme poverty, are being killed left and right by the US-NATO killing machine, by famine, by war-related diseases, and by US vassal states, the very nations from where they, the rich kids, come to protest against climate change, but NOT against war? When do they wake up to reality? Maybe never, or when it’s too late — when even they are being bombed by the never-ending neoliberal greed-driven wars.

Do they know that these wars and conflicts, carried out directly or through proxies by US-NATO forces, have killed between 20 and 25 million people since WWII alone, and between 12 and 15 million since 9/11? Isn’t stopping this killing more important than vouching for a cause that arrogant human kind cannot stop simply because climate change has been part of nature of the last 4 billion years of Mother Earth’s existence.

But it’s typical for mankind’s arrogance to believe and especially make believe to the masses that we, they, have the power to influence Mother Earth’s climate, and who says Mother Earth, say Universe, because all is connected, and if we want to look very close, we have to look at our sun which has enormous influence on our climate, much more than we want to admit; our sun, the source of life on earth together with water resources – that’s what we have to protect – and work for PEACE.

Screaming and hollering for something where mankind is impotant to do anything about is a waste of energy, but also a deviation from the real issue: How to stop war and achieve world PEACE. And even if we could influence climate, let’s just assume for a moment we could change the course of climate – do you, Greta and the Friday kids, the ER movement and perhaps you too, Mr. Guterres – know that these wars that kill millions of people, are the largest Co2 / greenhouse gas producers by far, and this is pointing the finger straight to the US – NATO military complex, more than half!  And do you know, that up to now, none of the climate conferences — of these international glamour events, where politicians talk, promise but never follow their promises — that the military / war-caused Co2 pollution is never allowed to be addressed in these conferences?  So, what good do they do?

Do you also know that the half a dozen or so huge climate conferences that cost a fortune for zilch, have brought absolutely no change to climate whatsoever?  First, because they can’t, since we are not the masters over Mother Earth, thanks god! And, second, because the politicians, especially in the western world, those that we call our leaders, are in bed with the corporate and finance key polluters? They are bought by them, the huge profit-making industries; profits they would not be able to make without the almost indiscriminate use of hydrocarbons. Our politicians, “leaders” (sic) would never even dare talking seriously about legislation that would prevent them from contaminating our atmosphere with greenhouse gases. No, never! Not in the turbo-capitalist private sector dominated west.

At every one of these conferences Armageddon is being painted on the wall – in 5 years, 10 years, in 30 years in the best of cases – well, more than 20 years have passed since the first UN-sponsored Conference on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, and we are still ticking, still propagating the same slogans, still spreading the same fear mongering: temps will rise by 3 degrees, by 5 degrees, but they are allowed only to rise by 2.5 degrees C – says WE, the masters of the universe. WOW!  Doesn’t that sound a bit arrogant when you think about it?

But, in case you didn’t know, dear Greta crowd and Friday kids, and ER drive; and you Mr. Guterres too, PEACE is more important, frankly, than climate change. PEACE is and ought to be number ONE of our political agenda, of the UN agenda. Climate will happen with or without us; yes, it changes, it changes all the time. But get this, we humans, can’t stop it from changing. What this climate hype does, is allowing and prompting a plethora of new taxes, polluter taxes to be collected from the common people, from you and me.

Corporations will be exempt from them. They may be asked to pay a carbon tax into a carbon fund (nothing new) and will profit from it, as they will be allowed to further pollute. This means shuffling again trillions of dollars up the ladder from the poor to the rich, as always happens when the corporate finance-dominated west wants to milk some more accumulated social capital from the working class to the upper echelons. And climate is an excellent tool for it. Mr. Soros, you got it once again right. But you, Mr. Guterres, have been elected to lead the world through the UN system to PEACE, not to stop the climate from changing.

Trillions are being collected; they will end up in the banks, or in the coffers of nations; they will become yet another derivative to be blown into a balloon that is predestined to burst one day,  and the system collapses again. We know about these bubbles but keep creating new ones. Does anybody dare to ask, or want to know what will be done with these newly collected trillions? How are they going to be applied to stop the climate from changing?

Nobody really cares. Once we guilt-driven Judeo-Christians have paid our dues, our conscience goes to rest and we sleep well again, while nothing changes. Not climate change, nothing.

There may be better ideas, Mr. Guterres.  If you want to do something for PEACE and for the environment, why not a special conference on banning plastic, the production of useless plastic – plastic as in plastic bottles, plastic bags – billions being used per day and less than 3% are recycled, the rest ends up in the seas, in stomachs of fish and birds, in our own bodies in the form of micro- or nano-plastic. Stop plastic for packaging food and all sorts of consumables – packaged in plastic – unnecessarily so. Why? Because you would have to convert a whole plastic packaging industry, bottling industry, and you would have to convince the Nestlés and Coca Colas of this world to change their concept, perhaps going as far as abandoning their chief business, selling water in bottles. In addition to the use of plastic bottles, this has become, as we know, in many countries, including in the USA a socioenvironmental calamity.

You, Mr. Guterres, could request the western world to stop wasting 30% or more of our food. Yes, wasting, as in throwing it away, even though it would be perfectly fine to be used, But throwing it away brings more profit. How many of us westerners know that we throw away every day at least 30% of perfectly usable food? You could also launch a motion to prohibit all speculation with food stuff, grains, which would make food more affordable and could prevent many famines. Saving food for redistribution to those that need it, might – would – also contribute to peace. But it would have a profit-cutting consequence on the (criminal but legal) food speculators, many of whom are residing in Switzerland.

How about this kind of an approach — an approach towards Peace and a protected environment. This would be something extraordinary – youth for PEACE and youth for a better distribution of food, and youth for a serious protection of our environment. Mr. Soros and his allies may not like it, because demonstrating against Climate Change, making a publicity hype of Climate Change is clearly a deviation from ongoing wars that kill millions and millions in the name of profit and dominance and eventually hegemony over the world’s resources and people.

Kids, ask the UN for achievable goals – for PEACE. It’s not easy, but it’s a worthwhile goal which we, mankind with a conscience, are able to achieve.

Inglorious Revolution:  The Greening of Business as Usual

I want to make it absolutely clear from the outset of this piece that I am not a climate skeptic. To me it seems axiomatic that when you burn stuff, you produce heat. Humans have been burning stuff since they discovered fire, and heating the planet at an exponential rate since the the dawn of the machine age. The short term impact of human activity over the last century or so is measurably distinct from long term warming and cooling cycles and external factors such as solar activity. But climate science is about more than just carbon emissions. You only have to look around you to see how human activity leaves its footprint on the natural world. And it’s not just our manifest pyromania. It’s everything we touch. It’s deforestation and land clearing, increasingly destructive methods or resource extraction, polluting the oceans, destroying aquifers and spraying poisons to grow our food, which has led to large scale destruction of habitat and loss of biodiversity. All of this impacts on the climate system. All of this would seem to be an egregious assault on the natural order, if such a thing exists.

Is collapse imminent? Are we currently facing an extinction level threat? I don’t know, and neither does anybody. This is uncharted territory. Is human activity responsible? To me it seems obvious. But how do you even begin to talk about the “anthropocene” without an explanation of human social relations? How do you explain that it’s not so much plastic straws and single use shopping bags which threaten our existence as a species, but rather the deeply racist system of capitalist imperialism which exploits life and the natural world for profit? (Actually capitalism isn’t racist. It’s saving white people for last. We are dessert.)

If we are limiting the debate to carbon emissions, then surely we need to consider the fact that the US military alone pumps out more C02 than 140 countries, consuming 340,000 barrels of oil a day. It maintains hundreds of military bases and thousands of military aircraft which it uses to drop tens of thousands of bombs annually (27,000 in Obama’s last year of office, 44,000 in Trump’s first), mostly on innocent civilians.

Why?

The short answer is for control of the global oil economy, which underwrites the US dollar, the world reserve currency, the currency into which other currencies must be converted in order to buy or sell the world’s most traded commodity, effectively giving the US a license to print money.

I never planned to take part in the September 20 Youth Strike 4 Climate ™, but I found myself there, let’s say in a semi-official capacity. There was a crowd of two to three thousand, some musical performances, a local indigenous person who gave the ubiquitous Welcome to Country, an 8 year old whose speechifying took virtue signalling to a new heights, a bunch of other speakers including primary, high school and university students, some union reps and a token Greens member. Plus thousands of outraged teenagers screaming for “climate justice”.

Lots of enthusiasm. Lots of moral indignation and a fair amount of narcissism it must be said. Lots of slogans. Lots of pseudo-religious chanting. Lots of self-congratulation. Lots of talk about “science” and “science-denial”. The word group-think comes to mind, except I didn’t really get the impression there was much thinking going on. It seemed more like a cult convention. (It’s funny, you know, thinking about how “denial” works as a cultural trope, three things come immediately to mind: Christ, the Holocaust, and “science”.)

What struck me as conspicuously absent — on the very same day the US announced that it will be sending troops to Saudi Arabia to defend oil production — was any mention of war. Or resource theft. Or colonialism. Things that to me seem fundamentally important when talking about existential threats to human existence and the future of our planet. A friend reminded me that this was not an anti war rally. I had to ask, why not?

Banning plastic straws? Are you kidding me?

Not that there’s really much to be done in the short term to redress 150 years of atmospheric warming due to burning fossil fuels. For starters, how do you even measure the inertia in that system? As we enter a new period of solar cooling, perhaps ‘mini ice age’ will help to balance out the temperature spike while we try to our act together. Obviously, the single most important form of climate action we need to take is to put an end to war. Then maybe we can have a serious discussion about curbing our emissions in a way that does not impact human development. But to stop war you have to first dismantle the social relations which allow states to make war. Not something particularly on the radar for millions of outraged teenagers.

Something is clearly off kilter when “climate change” can get people out into the streets on such a scale, while 27 million starving Yemenis don’t seem to register. Like I said, there is something deeply narcissistic about this cult. The timing is also interesting, with the poster child of the new green revolution about to address the UN Climate Action Summit. I hate to sound like a crusty old cynic, but to me “sixth mass extinction” reeks of “problem, reaction, solution”. The solution being more taxes, higher prices, and further concessions on the part of developing countries.

The term “false flag” originally referred to pirate ships that flew flags of countries as a disguise to prevent their victims from fleeing or preparing for battle. You don’t need to research too deeply to find that the current round of climate alarmism is being sponsored at all levels by mega-corporations and NGOs, from Richard Branson and Bill and Melinda Gates, to 350, Ceres and the Corporate Leaders Group, to JP Morgan, General Motors and Amazon. What solutions will be put forward at the UN Climate Summit? Presumably the focus will be on “innovation”, “decentralised action” and “private sector investment”. You can bet your bottom dollar it won’t involve challenging the current mode of production and the social relations which reproduce it. You can bet that it won’t involve letting indigenous people manage their own land and water. Rather, it will be about new investment opportunities and ways of “greening” our economies.

You see, amid all the hype and hyperbole, we missed the bait and switch. When they talk about “climate justice”, what they really mean is the complete financialisation of nature; a sort of green fascism. Rather than preserving nature for its own sake, the earth’s resources are to be secured for safe-keeping and parceled out for maximum profit by the movement’s real leaders, the “entrepreneurial” class. It really is a brilliant deception, also completely and utterly cynical and self serving. It is one thing to cry fire in a crowded theatre. Quite another to recruit an army of child soldiers to carry out your plan through mass hysteria and emotional manipulation.  All part of business as usual for the ruling class.

The War That Could Change the World

It is tempting to say that war with Iran is inevitable, and that may certainly be so, but this terrible situation has become a political and media game. A deadly game to be sure, but a game nonetheless. The people who cling to the notion that they have “leaders” to protect them are little more than fools, and this fact alone may lead to a disastrous end to this game of war, as the fools are the ones that allow carnage in their name.

Who in their right mind could in the past have ever envisioned a president “tweeting” about blowing up the world, or threatening to wipe an entire country off the map, women, children, and all? War today is more like a video game played by kids than anything else, as the bulk of the population does not consider the fact that those slaughtered in their name have families, picnics, and soccer games too. This indifference to sheer brutality and murder is astounding, and the weak and empty minds of the masses continues to deteriorate.

The situation with Iran in my opinion is dire. I personally think that this war will take place in the near future, regardless of what ridiculous rhetoric is spewed from the complicit media. This troubles me beyond imagination, but I think this is being planned and orchestrated at the highest levels, meaning above the political idiocy of Trump.

As I attempt to analyse this situation, and figure out the real incentive of those in power, it still eludes me. I know that war is always sought and always important to the power structure of this country and its military industrial complex, but this time the risk of world involvement and mass slaughter seems more possible. This makes me wonder why any war with Iran, whose allies are Russia and China, would be advantageous to the powers that control the U.S. It all seems senseless. Oil is not enough in my opinion to risk such devastating results, so something else is in play here.

I hope I am wrong about any inevitable war with Iran, but the longer this cat and mouse game continues, the more likely a mistake will be made, and a world war could be the possible outcome. This is more dangerous than anyone seems to realize, especially the brain-dead American public, and they are the only ones who can stop this insanity. Irony at this level is impossible to imagine.

Any war with Iran could easily turn into global nuclear war. What is worth that kind of risk? What possible motivation could drive those in power to such an end? I continue to ponder this question, but no logical answer comes to mind. Maybe it is just that the human race has run its course, or maybe all sanity is now lost. Either way, we are doomed if this senseless, and egotistical game of death continues.

How to find a Tiger in Africa

Agostinho Neto declaring independence of Angola 11 November 1975

What I want to do here is something very simple. I want to explain how I began to search for Agostinho Neto. I also want to explain the perspective that shapes this search.1

When I was told about the plans for a colloquium I was asked if I would give a paper.2 I almost always say yes to such requests because for me a paper is the product of learning something new. So I went to the local bookstores to buy a biography of Dr Neto. The only thing I found available was a two-volume book by a man named Carlos Pacheco called Agostinho Neto O Perfil de um Ditador, published in 2016. The subtitle of the book is “A história do MPLA em Carne Viva”. When I went to the university library I found another book, a collection of essays by Mr Pacheco and a book by Mr Cosme, no longer in print.3

Obviously the sheer size of Mr Pacheco’s book suggested that this was a serious study. Since these two ominous tomes were the only biography I could find in print in a serious bookstore, it seemed to me that the weight of the books was also designed as part of Mr Pacheco’s argument. The two volumes, in fact, comprise digests of PIDE4 reports and Mr Pacheco’s philosophical musings about politics, culture, psychology etc. There is barely anything of substance about the poet, physician, liberation leader and first president of Angola, Agostinho Neto, in nearly 1,500 pages.

As I said, I knew little about Dr Neto, but I knew something about Angola and the US regime’s war against the MPLA.5 I was also very familiar with the scholarship and research about US regime activities in Africa since 1945—both overt and covert. I also knew that dictators were not rare in Africa. However, in the title of Mr Pacheco’s book was the first time I had ever heard Dr Neto called a dictator. What struck me was that Dr Neto was president of Angola from the time of independence until his death in 1979—a total of four years. In contrast his successor remained president for almost 40 years. So my intuition told me if Agostinho Neto was a dictator he could not have been a very significant one. However, I wanted to know what the basis of this charge was. Certainly he was not a dictator on the scale of his neighbour, Joseph Mobutu.6 I reasoned that Agostinho Neto was called a dictator for the same reason all heads of state are called “dictators” in the West—because he held office by virtue of processes not approved in London, Paris or Washington. In the jargon of the “West”—a euphemism for the post-WWII US Empire—anyone called a communist who becomes a head of state must be a dictator, since no one in their right mind could elect a communist and no communist would submit to an election.

However, there was apparently more to this accusation than the allegation that Dr Neto must be a communist and therefore a dictator. Agostinho Neto had good relations with the Cuban “dictator” Fidel Castro and he enjoyed the support of the Soviet Union. When there still was a Soviet Union, anyone enjoying its support, no matter how minimal or ambivalent, could be considered at least a “potential dictator”. Then I read about a brief but serious incident in 1977, an attempted military coup against the Neto government on 27 May, led by Nito Alves and José Van Dunen. The coup was defeated and all sources agree there was a purge of the MPLA and many were arrested and killed. Writers like Mr Pacheco argue that Dr Neto directed a blood bath in which as many as 20-30,000 people died over the course of two years. There appears to be agreement that many people were arrested and killed but the exact figures vary.7

However, I still wondered whether this incident and its apparent consequences were enough to justify calling Dr Agostinho Neto, dictator of Angola.

While researching for this paper, while searching for Agostinho Neto, I found many people who had an opinion about him but very few who actually knew anything about Neto, and often they knew very little about Angola.

First I would like to deal with the coup attempt and the aftermath because that is the most immediate justification for this epithet. I am unable to introduce any data that might decide the questions I feel must be raised, but that does not make them less relevant to an accurate appraisal of Dr Neto’s four years in office.

  1. How, in the midst of a civil war, and military operations to defend the country, including the capital from a foreign invader—the Republic of South Africa—are the casualties and deaths to be distinguished between police actions and military actions? What reasonably objective apparatus existed to produce the statistics upon which the count could be based?
  2. What was the specific chain of command and operational structure in place to direct the purge on the scale alleged by Dr Neto’s detractors? What was the composition of the forces operating under government direction during this period? What was the composition of the command at local level?

Without claiming to answer these questions—they would have to be answered by research in Angola—there are some points that make the bald assertions of those like Mr Pacheco, who claim Dr Neto is responsible for the violent aftermath, for the thousands of victims, far from proven.

Casualty reporting during war is highly unreliable even in sophisticated military bureaucracies like those of the US or Britain. There were rarely bodies to count after saturation bombing or days of artillery barrage. To add a sense of proportion Sir Douglas Haig, commanding the British Expeditionary Force at the Somme during World War I, ordered the slaughter of nearly 20,000 British soldiers in one day with total casualties of some 50,000—the excuse for this was war.8 One’s own casualties are usually a source of embarrassment. But in Angola, like in other African countries, the presence of a stable and professional bureaucracy capable of generating any kind of statistics was certainly sparse. Whether those statistics can be deemed objective is another issue.

The absence of written orders or minutes is not by itself proof that no orders were given. In fact, as has been established in the research on the whole sphere of covert action, written orders can be issued “for the file” while operational orders are transmitted—deniably—by word of mouth.9 Then the question has to be answered in reverse: how did the actual enforcement officers receive their instructions and from whom? Here it is particularly important to note that the MPLA could not have replaced all police and other security force rank and file with personnel whose loyalty to the new Angolan government was certain. This means that many police or other security personnel had been performing under orders of the New State officers until independence and were still on duty.10 The actual relationships these personnel had to the people in the districts where they were deployed would have been known, if not notorious. It is not unreasonable to infer that a general purge would give opportunities to people at all levels to solve “problems” arising from the fall of the Portuguese regime.

Then there is one other factor—a question raised by the fact that Mr Pacheco’s book relies almost entirely on PIDE reports about the MPLA. One can, in fact, read in several accounts of the independence struggle that the MPLA was thoroughly infiltrated by PIDE operatives. So do we know if the orders which rank and file personnel took were issued by bona fide MPLA cadre acting on instructions from the president or issued by PIDE operatives within the MPLA command structure? In fact, it is a highly practiced routine of covert operations, also by the PIDE during the independence war, to appear and act as if they were the MPLA while committing acts intended to discredit it.11 While it is true that the Salazar/ Caetano regime had collapsed the people who had maintained the regime—especially in covert operations—did not simply disappear. Moreover, the world’s premier covert action agency, the CIA, was an active supporter of all MPLA opposition and certainly of factions within the MPLA itself. We know about IA Feature because of the revelations of its operational manager, John Stockwell.12 We also know that the PIDE and the CIA worked together and we know that the US ambassador to Portugal during the period (1975 to 1979) was a senior CIA officer.13 We also know many details about the various ways in which covert operations were run then.14 What we do not know is the extent to which it may have been involved in the coup against Dr Neto. But there is room for educated guessing.

I do not believe it is possible to reconstruct the events of the purge with evidence that can provide reasonable assurance of what responsibility Agostinho Neto bears for the deaths and casualties attributed to that period—beyond the vague responsibility which any head of state may have for actions of the government apparatus over which he presides. There, are however, grounds for a reasonable doubt—for a verdict at least of “not proven”.

Which brings me to my second argument: from what perspective should the brief term of Agostinho Neto as president of the Angola be examined.

First of all we must recognise that Angola prior to 1975 was a criminal enterprise.

It began with the Atlantic slave trade, which really only ended in the 1880s (although slavery did not end). Then, like in all other colonies created by Europeans, a kind of licensed banditry was practiced, euphemistically called “trade”. By the end of the 19th century most of this organised crime was controlled by cartels organised in Europe and North America.15

Why do I call this organised crime and not commerce? First of all if one uses force to compel a transaction; e.g., a gun to make someone give you something, this is generally considered a crime and in Europe and North America usually subject to punishment as such. To travel to a foreign land with a gun and compel transactions, or induce them using drugs or other fraudulent means, does not change the criminal character—only the punitive consequences.

Angola’s economy was based on stolen land, forced labour, unequal/ fraudulent trading conditions, and armed force, the colour of law not withstanding. Neither Portuguese law (nor that of any other European state) would have permitted inhabitants of Angola to come to Portugal, kidnap its youth or force its inhabitants to accept the same conditions to which all African colonies and “protectorates” were submitted.

In other words, Agostinho Neto was the first president of an Angolan state. He, together with his supporters in the MPLA, created a republic out of what was essentially a gangster economy protected by the Portuguese dictatorship in Lisbon. Does this mean that all European inhabitants of Angola were gangsters? Certainly it does not. However, it can be argued that many Europeans or children of Europeans who were born in Angola recognised this when they began to demand independence, too. Some demanded independence to run their own gangs free of interference from abroad and some certainly wanted an end to gangsterism and the establishment of a government for the benefit of the inhabitants.

The performance of Dr Neto as president of Angola has to be measured by the challenges of creating a beneficial government from a system of organised crime and defending this effort against foreign and domestic armies supported by foreigners, specifically the agents of the gangsters who had been running the country until then.

But stepping back from the conditions of Angola and its plunder by cartels under protection of the New State, it is necessary to see Dr Neto’s struggle and the struggle for independence in Angola within the greater context of African independence. Like Nkrumah, Lumumba, Toure, Nasser, Qaddafi, Kenyatta, Nyerere and Cabral, what I would call the African liberation generation, Neto was convinced that Angola could not be independent without the independence of all Africa.16  In other words, he was aware that the independence from Portugal was necessarily only partial independence. Like the others of this generation Neto rejected race as a basis for African independence.

The position of African liberation leaders who rigorously rejected racialised politics has often been criticised, even mocked as naïve. It has often been pointed out—accurately—that the African states were created by Europeans and hence the ethnic conflicts that have laid waste to African development are proof that these liberation leaders were wrong: that either Africa could not transcend “tribalism” or that the states created could not manage the inherited territories in a modern way.

On the contrary, the African liberation generation was well aware of the problems inherited from European gangster regimes. Moreover they understood quite well that race was created by Europeans to control them, that there was no “white man” in Africa before the European coloniser created him. The “white man” was an invention of the late 17th century. First it was a legal construct—the granting of privileges to Europeans in the colonies to distinguish and separate them from African slave labourers. Then it was elaborated into an ideology, an Enlightenment ideology—white supremacy. By uniting the colonisers, who in their respective homelands had spent the previous thirty odd years slaughtering each other for reasons of religion, ethnicity, language, and greed, the Enlightenment ideals of ethnic and religious tolerance or even liberty bound Europeans together against slave majorities. By endowing these European servants with the pedigree of “whiteness” the owners of the plantation islands could prevent them from siding with other servants—the Africans—and overthrowing the gangsters and their Caribbean drug industry. The white “identity” was fabricated to prevent class alliances against the new capitalists.17

It is not clear if the African liberation generation understood the impact of African slavery in North America. Many post-war liberation leaders have admired the US and seen in it a model for independence from colonialism. Perhaps this is because in the preparations for entering WWI, the US regime undertook a massive propaganda campaign of unparalleled success in which the history of the US was virtually re-written—or better said invented. There are numerous stories about photographs being changed in the Soviet Union under Stalin to remove people who had fallen from favour or been executed. There is relatively little attention devoted to the impact of the Creel Committee, a group of US advertising executives commissioned by President Woodrow Wilson to write the history people now know as “the American Dream” and to sell it throughout the world.18 This story turns a planter-mercantile slaveholder state into an “imperfect democracy” based on fine Enlightenment principles of human liberty. In fact, the contemporaries of the American UDI saw the actions in Philadelphia and the insurgency that followed in the same terms that people in the 1970s saw Ian Smith and his Rhodesian National Front. It is very clear from the record that the US regime established by the richest colonials in North America was initiated to avert Britain’s abolition of slavery in its colonies. It was not an accident that African slaves and Native Americans were omitted from the protections of the new charter. On the contrary the new charter was intended to preserve their exclusion.

Which brings me to my concluding argument. I believe there are two widely misused terms in the history of the post-WWII era, especially in the histories of the national liberation struggles and so-called Third World: “Cold War” and “anti-communism”. Since the end of the Soviet Union it is even very rare that these terms are explained. The reintroduction of the term “Cold War” to designate US regime policies toward Russia is anachronistic and misleading.

To understand this we have to return to 1945. In San Francisco, California, shortly before the end of formal hostilities representatives of the Allies met and adopted what would be called the Charter of the United Nations. Among the provisions of this charter were some ideas retained from the League of Nations Covenant (which the US never ratified) and some new ideas about the future of what were called non-self-governing territories (i.e. colonies, protectorates etc.) The principle of self-determination, a legacy of the League used to carve up Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire, was to be extended to all empires. After the propaganda war by which colonial troops (natives) were deployed in masses against Germany, Italy and Japan, to defend freedom and independence, it became clear that the exhausted and even more heavily indebted European colonial powers could not return to the status quo ante. Britain was incapable of controlling India and with the independence of India it would become increasingly difficult to justify or sustain rule of the rest of the empire. The Commonwealth idea basically kept the “white” dominions loyal.19 But how were the “non-whites” to be kept in line? The US regime made it clear that there would be no support for European empires of the pre-war type. So the stated policy of the Charter was that independence was inevitable—meaning that all those who wanted it had a license to get it.

At the same time, however, an unstated policy was being formulated—penned largely by George Kennan—that would form the basis for the expansion of the US Empire in the wake of European surrender. That unstated policy, summarised in the US National Security Council document0 – NSC 68 – was based on some fundamental conclusions by the regime’s policy elite that reveal the essential problem with which all liberation movements and new independent states would be faced but could not debate. NSC 68 was promulgated in 1947 but remained secret until about 1978.

Kennan who had worked in the US mission to the Soviet Union reported confidentially that the Soviet Union, although it had won the war against Germany, was totally exhausted and would be incapable of doing anything besides rebuilding domestically, at least for another 20 years! In another assessment he pointed out that the US economy had only recovered by virtue of the enormous tax expenditure for weapons and waging WWII. It would be devastating to the US economy—in short, a massive depression would return—if the war industry did not continue to receive the same level of funding (and profit rates) it received during the war.

Furthermore, it was very clear that the US economy consumed about 60 per cent of the world’s resources for only 20 per cent of the population. Kennan argued the obvious, that this condition could not continue without the use of force by the US regime.

Although the US appears as (and certainly is) a violent society in love with its military, in fact, foreign wars have never enjoyed great popularity. It has always been necessary for the US regime to apply extreme measures—marketing—to generate support for wars abroad. The war in Korea was initially just a continuation of US Asia-Pacific expansion (aka Manifest Destiny).20 When US forces were virtually kicked off the Korean peninsula, the machinery that had sold WWI to the masses was put in motion and the elite’s hatred of the Soviet Union was relit in what became known as the McCarthy purges. The McCarthy purges were necessary to turn the Soviet Union—an ally against Hitler—into an enemy even worse than Hitler (who, in fact, never was an enemy of the US elite, some of whom counted the Führer as a personal friend.21  It was at this point that anti-communism became part of the arsenal for the unstated policy of the US regime. Anti-communism was enhanced as a term applicable to any kind of disloyalty—meaning failure to support the US regime in Korea or elsewhere. It also became the justification for what appeared to be contradictions between US stated anti-colonial policy and its unstated neo-colonialism.

The term “Cold War” has been attributed to US banker and diplomat Bernard Baruch and propagandist Walter Lippman. It has become accepted as the historical framework for the period from 1945 until 1989.  However, this is history as propaganda. The facts are that as George Kennan and other high officials knew in 1947, the Soviet Union posed absolutely no threat to the US. On the contrary the secret (unstated) policy of the US—declassified in the 1990s—was to manufacture enough atomic weaponry to attack the Soviet Union twice. Generals like MacArthur and Le May were not extremists. They simply discussed US strategy openly.22 The point of the “Cold War” was to create a vision, which would explain the non-existent Soviet threat as a cover for the unstated policy of US imperial expansion—against national liberation movements—while officially supporting national liberation.

Together with anti-communism, the Cold War was a propaganda/ marketing strategy for undermining what every member of the African liberation generation knew intuitively, that the liberation of Africa depends not only on the liberation of every African country on the continent but on the liberation of the African diaspora. Anti-communism and the Cold War myth successfully isolated African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans from the international struggles for liberation and human dignity and an end to racist regimes.23 In that sense anti-communism is a direct descendant of white supremacy and served the same purpose. It is particularly telling that Malcolm X, who had matured in a sectarian version of black consciousness- the Nation of Islam—was assassinated after he returned from Mecca and an extensive tour of Africa and began to argue not only that African-Americans must demand civil rights, but that they must demand human rights and that these are ultimately achieved when humans everywhere are liberated.24 Malcolm was murdered not just for opposing white supremacy but also for being an internationalist.

If we look at the fate of the African liberation generation we will find that those who were committed internationalists and non-racialists were also socialists and not did not confuse possessive individualism with human liberty. We will also find that all the leaders of newly independent African states who were most vilified, deposed or murdered were those who did not surrender those ideals or the practices needed to attain them. They were not Enlightenment leaders building on European hypocrisy. They were Romantic revolutionaries who knew that there was no salvation—only honest struggle for liberation.25 I believe that Agostinho Neto was one of those Romantic revolutionaries. And the honest struggle is not over.

Neto’s Funeral in September 1979

• Photos courtesy of Fundação Antonio Agostinho Neto

  1. Monty Python’s Meaning of Life (1983) includes an episode set in South Africa as a parody of the film Zulu (1964). The upshot is that an army medical officer suggests that a tiger could have bitten off the leg of a fellow officer in the night. To which all respond, “a tiger in Africa?!”. Of course, tigers are indigenous to Asia but not Africa. Salazar was also to have attributed the indigenous opposition to Portuguese rule in Africa as “coming from Asia”. See also Felipe Ribeiro de Meneses, Salazar A Political Biography (2016).
  2. Presented at the colloquium “Agostinho Neto and the African Camões Prize Laureates” at the University of Porto, Portugal, on the 40th anniversary of Agostinho Neto’s death.
  3. Leonel Cosme, Agostinho Neto e o sua tempo (2004).
  4. PIDE, Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado, Salazar secret political police, also trained in part by the Nazi regime’s Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo).
  5. MPLA, Movimento popular de libertação de Angola: Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola.
  6. (Joseph) Mobutu Sese Seko, (1930 – 1997) dictator of Republic of the Congo (Zaire), today Democratic Republic of the Congo, aka Congo-Kinshasa to distinguish it from the French Congo/ Congo Brazzaville, previously Congo Free State and Belgian Congo. Mobutu seized power in the wake of the overthrow and murder of Patrice Lumumba and ruled from 1965 until 1997. See Georges Zongola-Talaja, The Congo from Leopold to Kabila (2002).
  7. Alberto Oliveira Pinto, História de Angola (2015); Adrien Fontaellaz, War of Intervention in Angola (2019),
  8. Jacques R. Pauwels, The Great Class War 1914-1918 (2018).
  9. Ludo De Witte, The Assassination of Lumumba (2001) originally De Moord op Lumumba (1999). The Belgian foreign minister during the “Congo Crisis” wrote several memoranda in which the government’s position was that no harm should come to Patrice Lumumba while the Belgian secret services were actively plotting his kidnapping and assassination. Historical research generally privileges documents and they survive eyewitnesses.
  10. Estado Novo, the term used to designate the Portuguese regime under the dictatorial president of the council of ministers (prime minister) Antonio Salazar Oliveira from 1932 until 1968 and then under Marcelo Caetano until April 1974.
  11. This is also discussed in Fernando Cavaleiro Ângelo, Os Flêchas: A Tropa Secreta da PIDE/DGS na Guerra de Angola 1969 – 1974 (2016) history of the PIDE’s Angolan counter-insurgency force. Since the concept and organisation of the Flêchas bears considerable resemblance to the PRU formed by the CIA in Vietnam under the Phoenix Program, it would not be surprising ifCIA cooperation with the PIDE extended to “Phoenix” advice (see Valentine, 1990 p. 159 et seq.).
  12. John Stockwell, In Search of Enemies (1978) Stockwell had left the agency before the extensive covert support for UNITA was enhanced under Ronald Reagan, despite the Clark Amendment. However, Stockwell noted that when he had returned from Vietnam duty and before getting the paramilitary assignment for IA Feature, he noticed that the busiest desk at headquarters was the Portugal desk.
  13. Frank Carlucci (1930 – 2018), US ambassador to Portugal (1975 – 1978), Deputy Director of the CIA (1978 – 1981).
  14. Philip Agee, CIA Diary (1975), and Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program (1990) and The CIA as Organized Crime (2017) Douglas Valentine uses the terms “stated policy” and “unstated policy” to show the importance of overt and covert language in the conduct of political and psychological warfare.
  15. See Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (1944) and Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1982).
  16. Ghana, Congo-Kinshasa, Guinea-Conakry, Egypt, Libya, Kenya, Tanzania and Guinea Bissau, Mozambique: Nkrumah was overthrown by a military coup and forced into exile. Lumumba was deposed and murdered by a Belgian managed corporate conspiracy with US/ UN support. Cabral was assassinated. Both Mondlane and Machel were murdered. Years later Qaddafi would be overthrown after massive armed attacks, tortured and murdered by US agents. The general attitude rejecting “race” and “racialism” can be found in the speeches and writings of these leaders, esp. those delivered on the occasion of independence. See also CLR James, Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution (1977) and A History of Negro Revolt (1985) See also Jean-Paul Sartre Kolonialismus und Neokolonialismus (1968) in particular “Der Kolonialismus ist ein System” and “Das politische Denken Patrice Lumumbas” originally published in Situations V Colonialisme et Neocolonialisme.
  17. For a thorough elaboration of this see Gerald Horne, The Counter-Revolution of 1776 (2014) and The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism (2018).
  18. George Creel, How We Advertised America (1920) also discussed in Stuart Ewen, PR: A Social History of Spin (1996).
  19. “Dominion” status was granted under the Statute of Westminster 1931 to the “white colonies”: Canada, Irish Free State, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. This gave these colonies so-called responsible government based on local franchise, largely eliminating the jurisdiction of the British parliament in London.
  20. US war against Korea, combined with a Korean civil war, began in June 1950. A ceasefire was agreed on 27 July 1953. However, the war has not officially ended and the US regime maintains at least 23,000 personnel in the country—not counting other force projection (e.g. regular manoeuvres, atomic weapons and naval power, etc.).
  21. Prescott Bush, father/grandfather of two US Presidents Bush, was nearly prosecuted for “trading with the enemy” due to his dealings with the Nazi regime. Henry Ford had even been awarded a decoration by the regime. These were the most notorious cases in the US. There were many other forms of less visible support to the Hitler regime from US corporations before, during and after the war. The fact is that the US did not declare war against Hitler’s Germany. Hitler declared war on the US in the vain hope of bringing Japan into the war against the Soviet Union. See Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War (2002) The US war against Japan was a continuation of its standing objectives for expansion into China—see also Cummings (2009).
  22. This argument has been made and documented in the work of Bruce Cummings, The Origins of the Korean War (1981, 1990) and Dominion from Sea to Sea (2009).
  23. Gerald Horne, White Supremacy Confronted (2019).
  24. Also formulated very clearly in his Oxford Union speech, 3 December 1964. Malcolm X was assassinated on 21 February 1965.
  25. For an elaboration of the term “Romantic revolutionaries” see the work of Morse Peckham, especially a collection of essays, Romantic Revolutionaries (1970).

The United States: A Nation on Suicide Watch

The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required major shifts in national resources from civilian to military purposes and contributed to the growth of the budget deficit and public debt. Through FY 2018, the direct costs of the wars will have totaled more than $1.9 trillion, according to US Government figures. Pollution is a serious issue. The United States (US)  is a “large emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; deals with water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; has limited natural freshwater resources in much of the western part of the country that require careful management. Deforestation; mining; desertification; species conservation; and invasive species (the Hawaiian Islands are particularly vulnerable) are widespread. Long-term problems for the US include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, energy shortages, and sizable current account and budget deficits.

The onrush of technology has been a driving factor in the gradual development of a “two-tier” labor market in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. But the globalization of trade, and especially the rise of low-wage producers such as China, has put additional downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the return to capital. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income…In December 2017, Congress passed and President Donald TRUMP signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which, among its various provisions, reduces the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%; lowers the individual tax rate for those with the highest incomes from 39.6% to 37%, and by lesser percentages for those at lower income levels…The new taxes took effect on 1 January 2018; the tax cut for corporations are permanent, but those for individuals are scheduled to expire after 2025. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) under the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new law will reduce tax revenues and increase the federal deficit by about $1.45 trillion over the 2018-2027 period.

Are those the words of some left wing liberal publication or fake news from the mainstream media or conspiracy tinfoil hats? No, they are excerpts from the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) 2019 World Factbook, an unflinching look at all the planet’s nations and their political systems, military expenditures, resources and internal and transnational troubles.

We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

Yes, indeed, the US has real problems, not imagined, as Republicans, Democrats and those with “Star Spangled Eyes” like to claim otherwise. “The US is the greatest country in history with the world’s most powerful military. God Bless America!” they shout out or proclaim after every speech.

Perhaps at one point in history’s past the nation had a shot to be the greatest of all time, at least in this solar system. Maybe that could have come after WW II, or the end of the Vietnam War, or even the largely successful Civil Rights movement. But now the country and its people are delusional in thinking that “everything’s groovy”.

What’s to worry about? Gas prices are low, the National Football League season is underway and the Major League Baseball playoffs are just around the corner. What fun to watch these sporting events as military aircraft fly overhead and 20-something millionaires run around the baseball diamond or up and down the football field in stadiums, by the way,  largely financed by the public. Who cares about lead infused water in Newark, New Jersey; Flint and Detroit, Michigan; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?

And what can be said about the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria? Where’s the victory to put in the US “Win” column? The American public has largely forgotten these tragic conflicts save those whose families have made a sacrifice. But sacrifice for what? Testing out new equipment, technology and war fighting doctrine? The War on Terror has siphoned off cash badly needed for US infrastructure repairs and has taken the lives of thousands of Americans.

Yes, it is correct that there has been no repeat of the 911 attacks, but the US is dealing with its own home grown terrorist problem: active shooters. Is the US military going to start hunting them down here like they do Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East and Africa?

Hell on Earth

At any rate, the only maniacs who want US personnel to remain in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, three hell-holes created, in part, by the US, are zealous military leaders, defense contractors/suppliers, corrupt officials the US has propped up in the three countries, and black market operators eager to steal American weapons and sell them to the Taliban or groups like the Islamic State.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (the Baron Harkonenn of the US government) and his boss President Donald Trump who are eager for war with Iran (which borders Iraq and Afghanistan, among other nations). That push has already started with the US exiting from the nuclear accord with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in May 2018. The Trump administration has since unleashed punishing economic sanctions, and has adopted a blind-support policy for Israel and the bloodthirsty Saudis who would like nothing better than to have the US go to war with Iran. Yes, lets “do Iran” if not by direct military action then through subterfuge and dicey intelligence likely to be used to justify an ill-advised invasion.

The attack-Iran crowd has been singing the same old tune for at least 40 years now and it should have long ago been dust-binned. But here we are, again, moving toward the precipice of conflict.

According to the National Iranian American Council:

The past 40 years in U.S.-Iran relations have been riddled with missed opportunities. While the Iranians and Clinton administration failed to initiate serious dialogue after Mohammad Khatami’s election, the George W. Bush administration pocketed Tehran’s assistance after the U.S.invasion of Afghanistan, put the country in its “axis of evil,” and ignored its offer for a grand bargain. Under the Trump administration, however, we are likely witnessing the greatest missed opportunity in four decades: a failure to capitalize on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the Iran nuclear deal.

War planners in the US have already sorted through all the airstrike contingencies and have plans, classified, of course, for air/missile strikes. But you need not wait for the day when the aircraft and missiles take to the skies over Iran and the talking heads from left, right and center media rant and rave about a brand new war, or retired generals show up to blather about this and that weapon system. Prepare yourself now. Be an educated armchair warrior by reviewing Anthony Cordesman’sOptions in Dealing with Irans Nuclear Program. It addresses the use of conventional and nuclear weapons by the US and Israel.

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

It is commonplace for Americans to lionize US military leaders and look to them as calming voices, counterweights to warmongering government officials and their advisors. Ironic, isn’t it? Can we look to our divine US military leaders to change the current thinking of the war hawks in the administration, congress and the think tanks that dot the Washington, DC Metro region?

Nope.

Consider this review by William Bacevich, a decorated combat veteran, of the newest US Central Command boss, Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie. McKenzie’s area of responsibility (AOR) includes Iran.

General Kenneth McKenzie became the twenty-fourth commander of CENTCOM (more formally known as United States Central Command).  On May 8, at an event sponsored by the Institute for the Perpetuation of War and the Promotion of Regime Change, more formally known as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), he outlined his plans for building on the legacy of his 23 predecessors.  None of those predecessors, it should be acknowledged, succeeded in accomplishing his assigned mission. Nor, I’m willing to bet, will he.

The essence of that mission, according to General McKenzie himself, is to promote stability. “A stable Middle East underpins a stable world,” he announced, and “our steady commitment to our allies and partners provides a force for stability.” As to how the region became unstable in the first place, he offers no opinion, leaving listeners with the impression that previous exertions by CENTCOM forces in invading, occupying, bombing, and otherwise spilling blood throughout his Area of Responsibility (AOR) had nothing to do with the absence of stability existing there today…This much seems clear: To listen to McKenzie, Iran is the ultimate source of all evil. To cite just one example, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the general charges that “at least 600 US personnel deaths in Iraq were the result of Iran-backed militants.” This was indeed nefarious, and one is hard-pressed to think of a comparable episode in recent military history, although US support for Saddam Hussein pursuant to his war of aggression against Iran might fill the bill.”

Don’t Bogart that Joint, My Friend

How are we faring in that other Long War, the War on Drugs?

The Office of National Drug Control and Policy’s (ONDCP) 2019 National Drug Control Strategy document describes the massive US local, state, and federal machinery set up to defeat drug trafficking organizations from getting their products to US streets and into the bodies of American citizens.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program provides assistance to law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States. HIDTAs provide an umbrella to coordinate Federal, state, local, and tribal drug law enforcement agencies’ investigations, and act as neutral centers to manage, de-conflict, analyze, provide intelligence, and execute drug enforcement activities in their respective regions. With the recent inclusion of Alaska, the first new HIDTA in 17 years, the 29 regional HIDTAs now include designated areas in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. The regional HIDTAs bring together more than 21,000 Federal, state, local, and tribal personnel from 500 agencies through 800 enforcement, intelligence, and training initiatives, all designed to disrupt illicit drug trafficking and dismantle criminal and drug trafficking organizations.

The US military, of course, plays a key role in the US War on Drugs, supporting HIDTA’s among other activities. Take, for example, US Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) role in the Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-South). A 2005 briefing by former US Coast Rear Admiral Jeffrey Hathaway shows that no less than 14 agencies worked, and likely still do, chasing down illicit drugs in the SOUTHCOM AOR. These include the National Security Agency; the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines; the US Coast Guard,  and the National Reconnaissance Office, among others. According to one of Hathaway’s slides, every step involved in JIATF-South operations from interdiction to prosecution leads to intelligence. That is an interesting point. So 14 years later and all the intelligence collected has led to what, exactly?

Let’s revisit the CIA’s 2019 World Factbook for a read on how the War on Drugs effort is going. The US is the “world’s largest consumer of cocaine (shipped from Colombia through Mexico and the Caribbean), Colombian heroin, and Mexican heroin and marijuana; a major consumer of ecstasy and Mexican methamphetamine; a minor consumer of high-quality Southeast Asian heroin; an illicit producer of cannabis, marijuana, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine. It is also a money-laundering center.”

Great!

This piece could go on and on citing data from a myriad of sources showing, among other things, the 500% growth rate of the US prison population, income inequality according to the Gini Coefficient which sees the US (41.5) right near Iran (40), or that one in six children in the US live in hunger. But, hey! The stock market is up, unemployment is down, and the dollar menu at McDonald’s is fabulous.

The forever wars on Drugs and Terror, or the trumped up wars to come; income equality; homelessness; hunger, infrastructure collapse and the fracturing of US society into tribes is clearly a nationwide social, political and cultural sickness: perhaps mental illness. Even the Internet/World Wide Web, once viewed as a global unifying/liberating force for change/good has become what is termed the Splinternet, reflecting large in-group fanaticism, censorship and a polarization of political beliefs. It is now polluted with advertisements just as radio and television are.

But there’s still time left on the clock to change the direction of the country. Who or what will do that and when it will happen I’m not sure. But I take heart in Robert F. Kennedy’s insight below that there are many who long to make “life worthwhile” for everyone in America, once again.

For Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product…if we should judge the United States of America by that—counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.