As Israel marks 70 years, what have been the true costs?

Independence Day celebrations tomorrow should be a moment for Israelis – and the many Jews who identify with Israel – to reflect on what kind of state it has become after seven decades.

The vast majority of Israelis, however, are too busy flying blue-and-white flags from their cars, venerating their army as the “most moral in the world” and poring over the latest official statistics in the hope that more Israeli Jews than Palestinians were born over the past year.

The Zionist project was intended, so its founders claimed, to provide a sanctuary from persecution for all Jews around the world. But at what cost, both to the native Palestinians on whose homeland a Jewish state was built and to the moral character of those who settled there? And has it really provided the sanctuary it promised?

Those questions should be especially troubling to Israelis in the wake of three weeks in which Israeli sharpshooters have been killing and wounding hundreds of Palestinians involved in unarmed protests along the perimeter fence in Gaza.

The context for the protests – ignored by most Israelis – is a decade-long siege imposed by Israel that has cut off Gaza from the outside world, engineering a humanitarian catastrophe and intermittent Israeli assaults that have laid waste to large areas of the enclave.

Israelis were unshaken, even after the broadcast of a video of soldiers excitedly debating, as if in an arcade game, which protester in Gaza they were best positioned to shoot “in the head”. When one Palestinian was felled by a bullet, the soldiers could be heard whooping and cheering, delighted to have caught the moment on their phones.

In response, Avigdor Lieberman, the defence minister, said the sniper “deserves a medal”. Meanwhile, the Israeli army’s only concern was the lack of “restraint” shown by the soldier who filmed the shameful incident.

This is not about young hotheads. Recent statements from government officials have a decidedly genocidal flavour. Mr Lieberman observed that “there are no innocent people in Gaza” while a spokesman for the ruling Likud party claimed “all 30,000 [protesters in Gaza] are legitimate targets”.

Earlier, when Israel attacked Gaza in 2014, justice minister Ayelet Shaked called Gaza’s Palestinians “enemy combatants” and their children “little snakes”.

Such views have clerical support as a new wave of extremist settler rabbis have moved into the mainstream. According to a rabbinical handbook called The King’s Torah, Jewish law justifies preventatively killing Palestinians as “terrorists” and their children as “future terrorists”.

It was this twisted logic – a presumption that Palestinians are terrorists, not human beings – behind the government’s decision to prevent protesters seriously wounded by Israeli sniper fire from being transferred for emergency treatment outside Gaza, where hospitals can barely function after years of Israel’s blockade.

The same logic justified Mr Lieberman’s ban on Palestinian families who have lost loved ones to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from joining similarly bereaved Israeli families for a joint Memorial Day ceremony in Israel this week.

The profound racism in Israeli society is not only directed towards Palestinians but to other non-Jews. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this month scrapped a United Nations plan to re-settle nearly 20,000 Africans currently seeking asylum in Israel in western countries.

The right was outraged that a similar number would remain in Israel. They want all of them returned to Africa, even if it means the refugees’ lives will be put in danger as a result.

One commentator recently warned in the liberal daily Haaretz: “A clerical fascist state will rise here much faster than you think.”

The only bulwark till now has been the supreme court. It overturned government bans both on medical treatment for wounded Gazans and on the entry of bereaved Palestinian families.

But it is being aggressively cowed. This week Mr Netanyahu announced his intention to block the court’s power of judicial review so he can safeguard racist and grossly anti-democratic legislation. The gates are opening to the tyranny of an ethnic Jewish majority already lording it over the native Palestinian population.

But the government has Jews in its sights too. It is well-advanced in a campaign to incite against Israel’s shrinking community of leftists and human rights activists – as well as, of course, against its large minority of Palestinian citizens.

It started by characterising as “traitors” the whistleblowing soldier group Breaking the Silence but has now targeted mainstream progressive groups.

Mr Lieberman suggested Tamar Zandberg, leader of the small left wing parliamentary party Meretz, was a Palestinian agent after she called for an inquiry into the killing of the Gaza protesters.

And Mr Netanyahu has accused the New Israel Fund, the largest donor to progressive causes in Israel, of endangering the “security and future of Israel” for backing the UN asylum seeker plan.

Those human rights activists who seek to record abuses by settlers or the army are now threatened with legislation backed by Mr Lieberman that would jail them for up to 10 years.

The Israeli right has introduced what is effectively a political test – dividing “good” Jews from “bad” ones – not only in Israel but for Jews overseas.

Those who support a fortress-like Greater Israel oppressing Palestinians are welcome; those who vocally oppose the occupation or want Israel punished with boycotts to encourage it to mend its ways are most definitely not. They are being denied entry at Israel’s borders.

Despite Israel’s continuing claim that it is a safe haven for Jews, in reality it is no such thing. It is an ugly ethnic supremacist state and one closing its doors to Jews who decry the oppression of the native Palestinian population.

That is what Israel and its supporters around the world will be celebrating this week.

• First published in National Abu Dhabi

Democracy Now’s ‘Alt Media’ Platform for Humanitarian Imperialism in Syria

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The dust had barely settled after last weekend’s US-led bombing of Syria before a split in the political class developed. While some Beltway figures, media personalities and former officials hailed the bombings, others decried the “limited” nature of the airstrikes. At the grassroots level, a somewhat different debate gripped the left and the right — those who opposed the bombings were accused of buying into the propaganda of the Syria-Russia-Iran alliance, while would-be defenders of human rights called for increased military measures to degrade the killing capacity of the “Assad regime.”

Democracy Now!, the daily hour-long news show hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, has long been the flagship institution for US progressives. With its jaunty 90s opening theme, timely coverage of world events, liberal (maybe radical-liberal) take on global affairs, and impressive range of top-tier guests including authors, government officials, policy experts, and activists, the syndicated program is seen as an exemplary display of independent journalism.

No doubt, the New York-based show is in a class of its own when compared to the vapidity and sensationalism of shock-jock right-wing radio or smug, Beltway liberalism of Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann or Cenk Uygur. Like a gust of oxygen in the choking smog of AC360-Maddow infotainment, Amy Goodman resembles an enlightened aunt at a Fourth of July party — a female version of Ira Glass who brings a kale, cauliflower, almond cheese, and cumin-spiced casserole to the potluck while discussing difficult topics in an unshakeably calm, Zen-like manner.

Despite its reputation as a standard-bearer for left-of-center “alternative media,” Democracy Now isn’t immune to the pressures of US politics: sometimes the Battle of Seattle veterans canvas their suburbs for Barack Obama; sometimes Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky get out the vote for Hillary.

In a similar manner, Democracy Now frequently accommodates narratives that would seem at home on CNN or the state-run Voice of America. With alarming regularity, the “war and peace report” has showcased passionate voices advocating Pentagon or State Department solutions to dire human-rights crises across the globe, including “regime change.”

Case-in-point: Syria. Since the country plunged into the depths of withering all-sided conflict and proxy war pitting the government of Bashar al-Assad against a range of opposition groups – from Gulf Arab-funded jihadists to Western-funded secular armies, with few independent players in between – the program regularly features interviews with activists who feel that Washington can play a progressive role for the people of the region through the deployment of the US Armed Forces, covert aid to factions on the ground, and the routine violation of international legal norms such as the United Nations Charter.

Democracy Now generally isn’t a Pentagon mouthpiece; a large portion of its coverage does consist of decent progressive journalism. Yet interspersed throughout programming covering genuine popular movements, we find narratives covering the left flank of US imperialism, normalizing the use of US military force for ostensibly “humanitarian” purposes.

Interventionist voices for peace

In the course of the last week — since Syria came under cruise missile attack by the trilateral US-UK-France alliance — Democracy Now has featured two interviews with activists who unabashedly call for the Pentagon to use military measures against the Syrian government for the sake of easing the Syrian people’s pain. Their arguments resemble the line of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who questioned whether the bombings were the result of a White House “choreographed Kabuki show” with their Russian counterparts rather than the Cuban Missile Crisis-style showdown which seemed apparent prior to the strikes.

On Tuesday, Goodman interviewed Ramah Kudaimi of the Syrian Solidarity Collective. Described as a “grassroots activist” and member of the anti-war movement, Kudaimi argued – as she has for several years now – that the bombings didn’t manage to go far enough in displacing “the regime.” Noting that the US, since Obama, has offered verbal support to the “Syrian people’s revolution” while acting in a manner that “strengthened the regime,” Kudaimi accused the Trump administration of continuing to not go far enough in ensuring regime change. Meanwhile, she accused the antiwar left of offering uncritical support to the Bush-style “War on Terror” being waged by what she depicts as the virtually united forces of Syria, Iran, Russia, and the US-led coalition of Western powers and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Mocking the very real possibility of the tripartite alliance clashing with the Russian military mission backing Syria’s government, Kudaimi said:
… it was kind of infuriating to see this being presented as breaking news, this being presented as an apocalypse, that we’re about to embark on World War III, especially as has been made clear again and again by the US actions is — and words — is that this was something very limited, just to kind of send a message to Bashar al-Assad that you can go on and kill people with barrel bombs, with anything, but don’t — limit your use of chemical weapons.
This was followed by an interview on Thursday with Moazzam Begg, a British Pakistani survivor of illegal detention and torture at the US prisons in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, who now heads the human-rights group CAGE. In his interview, Begg stressed the need for a No-Fly Zone over the last remaining rebel stronghold of Idlib to prevent an “unprecedented massacre.”

Maintaining that he is “completely against Western intervention” on account of his own first-hand experience, Begg complained that the US-led intervention in the country continues to target the Syrian opposition rather than the government, dourly noting that the US hasn’t limited itself to fighting ISIS alone but also those groups that fought alongside it or alongside other groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, the rebranded al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Instead, he implied, the US should attack the root of the conflict: the Syrian air force. Begg said:
At least we know that in the Kurdish regions, for example, during the Iraq War, there were no-fly zones. Indeed, in Bosnia …  it was bad enough, but a no-fly zone at least stopped those who had air forces to carry out even further killing with mass casualties.
Neither guest mentioned the significant proportion of “regime supporters” who reside in Syria, or the need for a resumption of negotiations between beleaguered opposition forces, the government and the various powers who are militarily involved in the conflict.

These are far from the first occasions that Democracy Now’s guests, like the New York City-based Democratic socialists of Jacobin magazine, have propagated a line favoring humanitarian intervention in Syria. Past interviewees and headline readouts enthusiastically supported the NATO-backed uprising in Libya against the government of Muammar Gaddafi as well, regularly citing the inflated figures of government-caused deaths published by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Black Agenda Report head editor Bruce Dixon noted at the time:
Something is really wrong with this picture. We have to wonder … at least as far as the war in Libya goes, whether Democracy Now is simply feeding us the line of corporate media, the Pentagon and the State Department rather than fulfilling the role of unembedded, independent journalists.”
Humanitarian crises and the pro-imperialist illusions 'of idiots'

A denunciation of war crimes and indiscriminate bombings by the Syrian Arab Army or Russian Aerospace Forces — be it through hypersonic missile, artillery shell, barrel bomb, chemical warfare, etc. — is hardly our point of dispute. Nor is earnest solidarity with any people suffering at the hands of a state that disregards or does damage to their life-or-death interests.

Yet the position that any resistance to a reassertion of US or European hegemony in Syria is a product of “fake news” indoctrination or a “pro-fascist anti-imperialism of idiots” — as Leila Al Shami argued in a widely-shared blog post — woefully misses the mark and cynically equates principled opponents of imperialist war with reactionary misanthropes on the far right.

To assert that Washington, London or Paris can act as guarantors of human rights or allies of the Syrian people is not only criminally naive, it provides ammunition to ideological fusillades aiming far higher than the low-hanging fruit of the Ba’athist regime alone. 

For Washington and its European allies, as well as its junior partners in the region, Damascus is simply a pit-stop on the road to Tehran (and possibly Moscow) — a means by which so-called “Iranian imperialism” and the aims of rival powers can be thwarted, allowing hegemonic powers led by the US to continue a policy of global conquest stretching from the Caribbean through the Mediterranean to the Sea of China.

The assertion that the war-stricken Assad regime is uniquely fascistic — unlike the region’s dynastic/sectarian, Zionist, militarist, or neo-Ottoman regimes — illustrates a selective indignation which dangerously feeds illusions that unlawful wars waged by top-tier Western powers to effect regime change will improve the lives of the most oppressed groups in the region and meet their need for a just peace. In what country, on what planet, do such precedents exist?

Let’s provide a reminder of these actors’ regional deeds in the past century: two world wars, Sykes-Picot, the partition plan, the War on Terror, police-state fascism, Wahhabist despotism, the shredding of the Middle East’s social fabric, and so forth. Doesn’t this offer at least a bit of proof that imperialism, neocolonialism, the military-industrial complex and the finance oligarchy at its helm aren’t in the least bit concerned about advancing human rights, democracy, peace and social justice in the region?

Endless warfare — endless disorientation?

Throughout the late 20th century but especially since the end of the Cold War, the United States arrogated to itself the right of aggressive military intervention across the globe on various pretenses. From Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, across Africa and the Middle East — Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen — the US cited a combination of national security concerns like terrorism and human-rights crimes to justify a total disregard for international law and consensus, not to mention the subsequent war crimes its military carried out in the course of “humanitarian” warfare.

While the UK’s successive governments have eagerly played the “poodle” role in support of Washington’s military adventures, the British people still maintain a vibrant anti-war movement. Anti-war and even anti-imperialist voices are frequently heard in the media, while Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing faction of the Labour Party has waged a stiff opposition to Tory Prime Minister Theresa May’s eagerness to participate in attacks on Syria. As a result, only 28 percent of the British public supported May’s “commitment to combat” Syria while 36 percent opposed it, according to a poll by The Independent.

In the United States, Pew Research Center data from last year showed that over twice that ratio of Americans – 58 percent – supported such missile strikes.

The US anti-war movement stagnated prior to the dusk of the George W. Bush administration and the onset of 2008’s election season, due in no small part to inroads by the Democratic Party and sectarian infighting by dominant leftist groups. In anticipation of the election of Barack Obama, the movement and its peace parades simply ground to a halt.

Following the jubilation of Obama’s electoral success and his post-inauguration resumption of Bush-era policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine-Israel, and Guantanamo, the grassroots opposition never reactivated. Mocking the movement’s co-option by the Democratic Party, activist Cindy Sheehan noted at the time that she began referring to the “anti-war left” as the “’anti-Republican War’ movement.”

In a study of the movement’s failure titled “Partisan Dynamics of Contention,” University of Michigan researcher Michael Heaney wrote:
As president, Obama maintained the occupation of Iraq and escalated the war in Afghanistan. The anti-war movement should have been furious at Obama’s 'betrayal' and reinvigorated its protest activity. Instead, attendance at anti-war rallies declined precipitously and financial resources available to the movement dissipated … the election of Obama appeared to be a demobilizing force on the anti-war movement, even in the face of his pro-war decisions.
This grim state of affairs — ideological confusion, misplaced hopes, demoralization, disintegration — gives us ample cause to criticize the humanitarian window-of a center-left that’s now been housebroken, domesticated and rendered oblivious to the main enemy at home: US imperialism.

Who pays the piper calls the tune

The rise and fall of popular left-wing currents — anti-war movements, militant workers’ struggles, and Black, Native American, Puerto Rican and Latin American immigrant liberation struggles — has followed predictable trends: there is the violent counter-insurgency conducted by a reinvigorated repressive state apparatus, white nationalist vigilantes, and other far-right groupings; and then there’s the low-intensity counterinsurgency conducted through the ideological state apparatus of media and academia; the formation of new electoral alliances and installation of minority “faces in the right places” of power; as well as the key factor, which is the co-option of movement figures by non-profit foundations backed by major capitalist philanthropic figures.

While open repression – the iron fist – tends to radicalize movements and galvanize popular support for them, the persuasive approach of the “velvet glove” forms a much more effective, less explosive and more demilitarized way of neutralizing mass opposition — transforming the revolutionary into the reformist, the radical into the tame, and the left to the centrist.

Much has been made of the role of figures like Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, whose proclaimed mission is to protect dissent and “build vibrant and tolerant democracies” through philanthropic grants that ostensibly serve oppressed or marginalized communities. Much of the critique can veer toward the conspiratorial, or exaggerates his role as some all-powerful impresario of the global left. Yet Soros is a major activist financier both abroad and at home, one of many players invested in what’s been called the “Non-Profit Industrial Complex” or NPIC, which comprises a complex web of relations between local and federal governments, the capitalist class, philanthropic foundations, NGO/non-profit social-service and social-justice organizations.

A look at who sponsors Democracy Now! shows just how dependent it is on NPIC. It’s worth quoting last year’s analysis of DN’s funding structure by Danny Haiphong at length:
Democracy Now runs interference for imperialism because it is beholden to funding sources, as are all non-profits and non-governmental organizations … An analysis conducted in Critical Sociology found that the Pacifica Foundation received upwards of 148,000 USD between the years of 1996-1998 from the Ford, Carnegie, and other foundations to launch Democracy Now.

The Lannan Foundation gave Democracy Now an additional 375,000 USD packaged in a number of grants, according to the foundation’s IRS 990 forms since 2008. Patrick Lannan, the capitalist mogul who founded the organization, sat on the board of ITT corporation in the late 70s and early 80s. The ITT corporation was instrumental in the CIA-backed fascist coup that overthrew the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende in 1973.

… Foundations wield a form of 'soft power' on behalf of US imperialism. Their main purpose is to provide a “civil society” infrastructure in targeted nations capable of fomenting conditions of regime change.
“Fake news” and critical consumption

The compromised nature of Democracy Now doesn’t render it entirely useless for genuine anti-imperialists and listeners opposed to war, be they “humanitarian” or not. Strong critical voices are often heard on Democracy Now – as may be the case on CBS, NBC, BBC, Al Jazeera, RT, MintPress News, PressTV, even maybe once in a blue moon on Fox News or CNBC.

When looking at any of these organizations we need to remain critical of the banalities they may spew such as a liberal-versus-conservative paradigm that upholds systems of power like global monopoly capitalism (imperialism), despite distracting debates over the finer points of how the system is upheld – is it for a more “humanitarian” world order, a more “secure” one?

All of us have a duty – as media producers and media consumers – to look beyond the rhetoric of social justice deployed by center-left establishment figures, and instead see the structures and principles they both depend on and uphold. “Fake News” in terms of bias, propaganda and lie by omission is unavoidable, but the key question remains “cui bono?” – who benefits from the propagation of this narrative?

In the case of Democracy Now!, we have incorporated non-profit 501(c)3s and big Wall Street money underwriting the ostensibly “independent” and alternative media. As usual, we should remain on guard.

The “war and peace report,” as progressive as it may often sound, has long ceased to be a purely listener-supported project, and this lack of economic independence has spilled into its politics. The clearest sign of that is an implicit support, especially in the Arab Spring era, of imperialist wars on “authoritarian” regimes who find themselves in the crosshairs of the US government.

Reprinted with permission from MintPressNews.

Did the West Just Lose World War III by Forfeit?

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In the fall of the year 1480, at a point not far from Moscow, two armies faced each other on the opposite banks of the Ugra River.

On the one side were the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, whose ruler, Grand Prince Ivan III (known as “the Great” and the “gatherer of the Russian lands”), had recently rejected further payment of tribute to the Great Horde.

On the other were the forces of Grand Khan Ahmed bin Küchük, who had come to lay waste to Moscow and instruct the impudent Prince Ivan to mend his ways.

For weeks the two assembled hosts glared at one another, each wary of crossing the water and becoming vulnerable to attack by the other. In the end, as though heeding the same inaudible signal, both withdrew and hastily returned home.

Thus ended more than two centuries of the Tatar-Mongol yoke upon the land of the Rus’.

Was this event, which came to be known as “the great standing on the Ugra River,” a model of what happened in Syria last week?

Almost immediately upon reports of the staged chemical attack in Douma on April 7, speculation began as to the likely response from the west – which in reality meant from the United States, in turn meaning from President Donald J. Trump. Would Trump, who had repeatedly spoken harshly of his predecessors’ destructive and pointless misadventures in the Middle East, and who just days earlier had signaled his determination to withdraw the several thousand Americans (illegally) stationed in Syria, see through the obvious deception?

Or, whether or not he really believed the patently untrue accusations of Syrian (and Russian) culpability, would Trump take punitive action against Syria? And if so, would it be a demonstrative pinprick of the sort inflicted almost exactly a year earlier in punishment for an obvious false flag chemical attack in Idlib? Or would we see something more “robust” (a word much beloved of laptop bombardiers in Washington) aimed at teaching a lesson to both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally, Prince Ivan III’s obstreperous heir Russian President Vladimir Putin?

The answer soon came on Twitter. Assad was an “animal.” Putin, Russia, and Iran were “responsible” for “many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack” – “Big price to pay.”

Around the world, people mentally braced for the worst. Would a global conflagration start in Syria with an American attack on Russian forces? A grim trepidation reminiscent of the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis gripped the hearts of those old enough to remember those thirteen days when the fate of all life on our planet was in doubt.

Certainly there were enough voices in the US establishment egging Trump on. Besides, at home he still had the relentless pressure of the Mueller investigation, intensified by the FBI’s April 9 raid on his lawyer Michael Cohen. Trump’s only respite from the incessant hammering was his strike on Syria last year.

During the first Cold War both American and Soviet forces took great care to avoid direct conflict, rightly afraid it could lead to uncontrolled escalation. But now, in this second Cold War, western commentators were positively giddy at the thought of killing Russians in Syria...

...or rather killing more Russians, citing the slaughter of a disputed number of contractors (or “mercenaries” as western media and officials consistently called them, implying they deserved to have been exterminated). That’ll teach ‘em not to tangle with us! It was unclear whether the warning from Russian Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov that Russia would respond against an attack by striking both incoming weapons as well as the platforms that launched would be taken seriously.

After a slight softening of tone by both Trump and Defense Secretary General James “Mad Dog” Mattis on April 12, during which a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was approaching Douma to conduct an on-site examination, there emerged a slim ray of hope that Trump would step back from acting on the transparently false provocation. (The slimness of any such hope was illustrated by the fact seemingly the most restrained of Trump’s advisers was somebody nicknamed “Mad Dog.”)

When on the evening of Friday the Thirteenth (Washington time) news came that the US had initiated military action, together with France and (the country Russia had accused of staging the Douma fraud) the United Kingdom, many feared the worst. The hasty timing was clearly aimed at preempting the arrival of the OPCW inspectors.

Of greater concern was the extent of the assault? If Russians were killed, Gerasimov was serious.

As it turned out, the worst didn’t come. World War III didn’t happen. Or hasn’t – yet.

In fact nothing much happened at all. According to the official US reports, something over a hundred missiles were launched at three targets. All missiles reached their targets – “Mission Accomplished!” The other side, however, claimed to have shot down roughly 75 percent of the incoming Tomahawks.

In the end, the damage was even less than from the follow-up to Idlib last year. No one was reported killed, neither Syrian nor Russian nor Iranian. Western governments claimed to have struck a serious blow at Syria’s chemical weapons capability. Syrians and Russians scoffed that the missiles had hit empty buildings and that Syria had no CW to hit since 2014, as certified by the OPCW.

In the aftermath of the missile show, media carried unverified reports that Trump had wanted a stronger campaign but deferred to Mattis’s caution, no doubt reflecting the views of professional military men who didn’t want to find out whether Gerasimov was bluffing. Mattis also reportedly wanted Congress to vote on any action before it was taken but was overruled by Trump.

There was even some speculation that the whole thing was a charade worked out in cooperation with the Russians. Even if true (and it’s unlikely) the mere fact that Trump would have to engage in such a ruse speaks volumes about the weakness of his position. “Whatever Trump says, America is not coming out of Syria,” writes Patrick Buchanan. “We are going deeper in. Trump's commitment to extricate us from these bankrupting and blood-soaked Middle East wars and to seek a new rapprochement with Russia is ‘inoperative’.”

That’s clear from the comments of US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She states that America won’t disengage until three objectives have been met: that ISIS has been defeated (a pretext, since ISIS is on the ropes and remains alive only because of hostile actions taken by the US and others against Syria); Damascus is finally deterred from using chemical weapons (a falsehood, since they don’t have any); and Iran’s regional influence is blocked (which means we’re staying in effect permanently in preparation for a larger war against Iran and perhaps eventually Russia).

The last point is unfortunately true, as plans are underway to beef up a Sunni anti-Iran bulwark in eastern Syria to cut off Tehran’s so-called “land bridge” the Mediterranean. Most Americans in Syria are to be replaced with a so-called Arab force – the “Arab NATO” touted last year in connection with Trump’s maiden foreign trip as president. (As though the one NATO we already have weren’t bad enough!)

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has suggested troops from his country would participate. Aside from whether Riyadh can spare them from their ongoing task of wrecking Yemen, Saudi personnel are likely to become a prime target for Syrians itching to get a crack at their chief tormenters over the past seven years.

So was anything really settled on April 13? On this occasion the West chose not to “cross the river,” much as Khan Ahmed’s force declined to do in 1480. For their part, the Russians in Syria, like their ancestors on the Ugra, were on defense and had no need to risk offensive action.

Unfortunately, unlike the “the great standing on the Ugra River,” which resolved the question of Russian independence and sovereignty in that era, nothing has been resolved now. The question remains: will the US peacefully relinquish its position as the sole arbiter of authority, legality, and morality in a unipolar world in favor of a multipolar order where Russia’s and China’s legitimate interests and spheres of influence are respected? Or will we continue to risk plunging mankind into a global conflict?

Syria remains a key arena where one path or the other will be taken to finally wrap up what US Army Major Danny Sjursen calls “Operation Flailing Empire.” The irony is that peacefully “losing” our pointless and dangerous attempt to rule the world would only be to Americans’ benefit. That’s what Trump promised in 2016. He hasn’t delivered and it’s increasingly doubtful he can.

In the end, the threat of World War III hasn’t vanished. It has just been postponed.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

What Are ‘Assad Apologists’? Are They Like Those ‘Saddam Apologists’ Of 2002?

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Isn’t it fascinating how western journalists are suddenly rallying to attack the dangerous awful and horrifying epidemic of “Assad apologists” just as the western empire ramps up its longstanding regime change agenda against the Syrian government? Kinda sorta exactly the same way they began spontaneously warning the world about “Saddam apologists” around the time of the Iraq invasion?

The increasingly pro-establishment Intercept has published an article titled “Dear Bashar al-Assad Apologists: Your Hero Is a War Criminal Even If He Didn’t Gas Syrians,” condemning unnamed opponents of western interventionism in Syria for not being sufficiently condemnatory of Bashar al-Assad in their antiwar discourse.

Last week The Times published an article titled “Apologists for Assad working in British universities,” frantically informing the public that “top academics” are circulating information that runs counter to the official Syria narrative, followed this week by a Huffington Post article attacking those same academics in the same way. Yesterday, the BBC ran an article titled “Syria war: the online activists pushing conspiracy theories,” warning its readers about “pro-Syrian government” internet posts.

I first encountered the word “apologetics” as a young Catholic girl in a parochial school, where the term was introduced to me as the religious practice of defending Church doctrine using discourse and argumentation. I did not become familiar with the related secular term “apologia” until much later, which is defined as “a work written as an explanation or justification of one’s motives, convictions, or acts.”

It wasn’t a term I ever made use of or encountered much in day to day life until I started writing extensively about the dangerous warmongering behaviors I was seeing in my country’s allies last year, when all of a sudden it became a part of my daily life. For me, I was just trying to help prevent the western empire from decimating yet another Middle Eastern country in yet another war based on lies and avoid dangerous escalations that could lead to nuclear holocaust, but to countless strangers on the internet I am an “Assad apologist” and a “Putin apologist.”

People have been calling me these things every single day for well over a year now. The internet is weird, man.

And surprise surprise, now that the war drum is beating louder than ever for Syrian blood, the phrase “Assad apologists” is enjoying a massive uptick.

The argument as I understand it is that people like Professors Tim Hayward and Piers Robinson, the subjects of the aforementioned Times and Huffpo articles, are not protesting the latest warmongering agenda of a multinational power establishment with an extensive history of decimating Middle Eastern countries, but are in fact going out of their way to justify Bashar al-Assad’s motives, convictions, and acts. Not because they oppose death and destruction like normal human beings, but because they are just positively head-over-heels gaga over some random Middle Eastern leader for some reason.

And that’s always how these arguments go. By pointing out that the US-centralized empire has been plotting regime change in Syria literally for generations, I’m not opposing dangerous regime change interventionism, I’m defending a dictator. By noting that the western empire has an extensive history of using lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture support for military aggression, I’m not stating a well-documented and frequently admitted fact, I’m performing apologia on behalf of a despotic regime.

It can’t possibly be because I am aware that the neoconservatives who have been braying for this attack for years are always completely wrong about everything. It can’t possibly be because the US-centralized war machine has had a well-established pattern for many years of demolishing countries based on lies and false pretenses of humanitarianism only to leave in their wake a humanitarian disaster, which they then blame on “mistakes” made by whoever happened to be in charge at the time. It can’t possibly be because US-led military interventionism in modern times is literally never helpful, literally never accomplishes what its proponents claim it will accomplish, and is literally always extremely profitable for its most vocal advocates.

Nope, it’s got to be because I fell in love with a gangly Syrian president whom I’d never even thought about before the neocons set their crosshairs on him, and I only oppose the next imminent military catastrophe because I agree so much with his policies and behavior.

Even more annoying than the honest regime change proponents are people like Mehdi Hasan, author of the aforementioned Intercept piece, who claim to oppose US regime change but find themselves tone policing the antiwar left instead. The world is full of problems, the greatest arguably being a third world war and potential nuclear confrontation between Russia and America ensuing from US interventionism in Syria, but men like Hasan choose to focus their creative energy on making sure the antiwar left mitigates its speech sufficiently and prefaces every antiwar argument with “Assad is a bloodthirsty evil dictator, but”.

Like that’s what the world desperately needs right now: for the antiwar left to be even more mitigated in its speech than it already is. For us to slam on the brakes of our antiwar surge to check one another to make sure we’re all being explicitly anti-Assad enough.

These writers never make it clear exactly why it’s so important for everyone in the antiwar movement to be checked and scrutinized for excessive enthusiasm about the Syrian government. Are they worried they’ll go and join the Syrian Arab Army? That they’ll install Assad as president of the United States? How is sympathy toward the Syrian government a threat to anything other than the manufacturing of support for more escalations in US-led interventionism?

We don’t need equivocation and tone policing right now. What we need is a loud and unequivocal NO to western military interventionism in the country immediately adjacent to the one we raped fifteen years ago.

We’ve been here before. Here’s an article from 2001 titled “Saddam Hussein’s American Apologist”. Here’s one from 2002 titled “Saddam’s apologists”. Here’s another from 2003 titled “After Saddam’s Capture: Will His Apologists Now Recant?” Here’s yet another from 2003 titled “Armchair generals, or Saddam’s leftwing allies.” Here’s one from 2005 titled “Parliament’s damning report about Saddam apologist George Galloway.” This was an extremely common smear against opponents of the Iraq invasion, who were of course later proven to have been 100 percent correct in every way.

Iraq is as relevant as relevant gets to this debate, and anyone who claims otherwise is only doing so because they know Iraq is devastating to their Syria arguments. They’re pulling the same damn tricks in the same damn way, in some cases with the same damn people. These “We must stop the Assad apologists!” op-eds are coming out with increasing frequency and urgency because they are losing control of the Syria narrative and they are running out of tricks. Don’t let their authoritative way of speaking fool you; they are not nearly as confident as they pretend to be.

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Reprinted with author's permission from CaitlinJohnstone.com.

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Post-Modernism Does Not Go Far Enough!

Post-modernism does not go far enough. It has not overturned all meta-narratives and fully established its essence, that is, a multiplicity of micro-narratives, achieved through a radical “incredulity toward metanarratives”.1 Consequently, post-modernism has yet to realize the post-modern society, that is, a patchwork federation of localized, decentralized and horizontalized micro-institutions, founded on a litany of microscopic, ideational-comprehensive-frameworks, where no-one fully dominates and terrorizes over the others. If post-modernism can be defined as a socio-economic framework where “there are no criteria”,2 where “there is no longer any…[overarching] system of rules”,3 and where “there is no [universal] sensus communis”,4 then, post-modernism has only partially succeeded. The reason being that the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism continues to weave all the seemingly, independent micro-narratives, or language-games, together, into a cohesive whole within a totalitarian bourgeois-capitalist dominion.

In effect, the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism homogenizes and unifies the diversity and the multiplicity of micro-narratives into a totality. That is, a totality which post-modernism seeks to abolish and/or overturn. As a result, post-modernism has not realized its raison d’être; i.e., “a federation of municipalities, cooperatives and autonomous-collectives. That is, a plurality sharing, in egalitarian fashion, decision-making-authority, ownership, knowledge, and the sum of capital”,5 where “all… positions [or narratives] are equivalent”6 and no-one micro-narrative “imposes itself upon the others, [and] sets itself up as dominant…[while] reducing…multiplicity to silence”.7 So, the reason, this patchwork federation has not come about is that post-modernism has not pushed itself to the Nth degree. Namely, it has not activated its pragmatic methodology, pragmatic deconstruction; i.e., that “imaginative activism…used in various [manners for]…de-sedimentation”8, namely, the physical and mental deconstruction of the grand-institutional structures, which have grown out of and enshrined the various Enlightenment meta-narratives within their constitutions and daily operations.

Post-modernism has interpreted the world, but it has not sought to truly change it, that is, to act upon its conclusions with a certain pluralized authority. Therefore, the result has been both a refortification of the Enlightenment and its modern hierarchies, and a furthering of the convoluted minutia of arbitrary rules and regulations designed to maintain a bourgeois aristocracy and an outdated, bourgeois-capitalist status quo, which, in fact, today, impedes intellectual and material advancements. In effect, these sets of arbitrary bourgeois rules and regulations have no actual validity and are solely designed to enforce an outdated bourgeois-capitalist status quo, through a litany of irrational divisions, which serve no other purpose other than impeding intellectual and material advancement, because these advancements embody and promote collectivism, egalitarianism, and the overthrow of the capitalist-hierarchical status quo. Today, any “grand-narrative has lost its credibility”9, yet the grand-narrative of bourgeois-state-capitalism, as socio-economic savior, continues to persist and weave the litany of independent micro-narratives into a cohesive totality by force, by money and by machination.

Notwithstanding, after post-modernism there is no valid, or legitimate, arguments for not establishing financial equality, collectivism, and total social egalitarianism, due to the fact that “there is not a single—logic—that underlies all…domains”,10, meaning that all micro-narratives have legitimate claim to resources, moreover, including the fact that such an egalitarian redistribution of resources would in actuality maximize opportunities for intellectual and material advancement. Bourgeois-capitalism and bourgeois-ideology impede the intellectual and material advancement of the human species because bourgeois-capitalism and bourgeois-ideology “silence people…forbidding them to speak [if they are not bourgeois-capitalist]. As a result knowledge and knowledge production [is not]…free”.11 It is curtailed within a bourgeois-capitalist framework, which excludes many participants and points of views, due to their anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist tendencies.

After post-modernism, there is no such thing as the legitimate ownership of capital, money and/or private property, as in actuality, everyone has legitimate claim in relative equal measure, upon all property, all capital, and all money, and moreover, should all have access, in relative equal measure, to all property, all capital and all money etc., due to the fact that, “knowledge is obtained by a multiplicity of views rather from the determined application of a preferred ideology”.12  That is, because “there is no meta-language…[which can] ground political and ethical decisions”,13 then, all micro-narratives, or micro-languages, have legitimate claim, in relative equal measure, upon all socio-economic resources within society, due to the fact that there is no legitimate, rightful, universalized position for equitable judgments, that is, “there is no stable system to guide [and legitimize] judgments”.2. Hence, the counter-point is to encourage, promote, and build a plurality; i.e., “a complex and heterogeneous historical process [and framework]”14 which will maximize intellectual and material advancement by permitting equal access to all socio-economic resources in relative equal measure. Increasingly, it is evident that this vital heterogeneity, which can maximize intellectual and material advancement, demands the overthrow of bourgeois-capitalism and bourgeois-ideology, due to the fact that “a free society…cannot be based on any particular creed”,15 that is, it cannot be based on overarching domination of bourgeois-capitalism and bourgeois-ideology.

If all micro-narratives have equal claim to resources because there is no overarching, universal, timeless truth and meta-narrative by which to judge, and if many active micro-narratives means maximum intellectual and material advancement, then any individual claim to segments of private property, capital, knowledge and money, as somehow rightfully belonging to a singular individual and/or any small oligarchical group, is moot, illegitimate, irrational, and fundamentally counter-productive to intellectual and material advancement. If “there is no common measure”16 by which to allocate resources, legitimately, justly, and fairly, and according to the post-modern point of view, there is no such common measure, then every micro-narrative and individual has legitimate claim to all socio-economic resources in relative equal measure, due to the fact that there is no underlying verity by which to deny resources for some and not others, and due to the fact that any unequal allocation of socio-economic resources impedes intellectual and material advancement.

Ultimately, all the bourgeois-capitalist canons; i.e., private property, individualism, hierarchy, greed and profiteering etc., are fictions, phantasms imposed upon society, illegitimately, both to impede its collective development and truncate its population, to keep it enslaved, both materially and intellectually, in confusion, delusion, nonsense and poverty, against its will and against its better nature. That is, its better nature being, namely, egalitarianism, monetary equality, collectivism and the sharing of resources, in relative equal measure. Consequently, in line with Jean-Francois Lyotard, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism is maintained, expanded and traversed with terror “the exercise of terror…[commanding all to] adapt your aspirations to our ends—or else”.17 Bourgeois-capitalism is totalitarian in nature, “it is unjust…[its] majority does not mean large number, it means great fear”,18 fear in all its forms, such as “imprisonment, unemployment, repression, hunger, anything you want”19 in the sense that the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism “does not respect…plurality”,20 but only its version of unicity.

As a result, any bourgeois-institution or dominance hierarchy which disseminates, endorses and/or promotes individualism, capitalism, hierarchy, selfishness, private property and ironclad unity, is fundamentally anti-advancement, and, in fact, willingly participates in impeding intellectual and material advancement; i.e., the betterment of the human species. Therefore, any such bourgeois-institution, or dominance hierarchy, should be utterly deconstructed, destroyed and/or abolished, on the valid and legitimate premise that these bourgeois-institutions and dominance hierarchies impeded intellectual and material advancement for the greatest number, by limiting access to socio-economic resources. That is, by the very fact, these bourgeois-institutions deny, stifle and impede intellectual and material advancement and all rightful legitimate claims by the multiplicity of micro-narratives for collectivism, egalitarianism, and equality in the allocation of socio-economic resources.

The point, ultimately, is to reconstruct these outdated, senile bourgeois-institutions along collectivist, decentralist, horizontalist, and anti-capitalist forms of socio-economic organization. Based on the fact that because there are no legitimate meta-narratives and/or universal truth-claims, any bourgeois-institution, or dominance hierarchy, which states otherwise and/or acts otherwise, is in actuality working against intellectual and material advancement and the democratic multiplicity of micro-narratives. These outdated, senile, bourgeois-institutions and dominance hierarchies are impeding socio-economic and intellectual development. These anti-advancement bourgeois-institutions and dominance hierarchies are impeding development due to the fact that they are working against — and in contradiction of — socio-economic plurality, that is, the basic factum that progress and “knowledge need a plurality of ideas”21 in order to achieve maximum penetration and development. And, the fact that to achieve maximum intellectual and material development requires the redistribution of socio-economic resources to everyone and every micro-narrative in relative equal measure.

Therefore, these senile, bourgeois-institutions and dominance hierarchies are categorically ripe for pragmatic deconstruction, that is, a type of material deconstruction, which is valid on the premise that there are no acceptable, valid reasons and arguments for the promotion of individual private-ownership, individual property, individual wealth, and financial inequality, on the basis that these bourgeois-capitalist principles impede the intellectual and material advancement of our species by severely limiting plurality and diversity; i.e., the necessary plurality and diversity needed for maximum intellectual and material advancement.

Consequently, this rampant bourgeois-homogeneity and push towards a totalizing bourgeois-unicity, we currently see across western bourgeois-capitalist societies and within bourgeois-institutions, bourgeois-media, bourgeois-law, bourgeois-politics, bourgeois-academia etc., is purging these domains of variation, difference, and alternative points of views, which, according to Feyerabend, “is to be expect in [bourgeois] totalitarian surroundings”.22  Such purges of variation, difference, and alternative points of views across the senile institutions of bourgeois-state-capitalism are primarily perpetrated via terror, both psychological and real, that is, by force, a force derived from an unstated ultimatum, “say or do this, or else you’ll never speak [in this domain] again”.23 This is a form of violence, “by laws, by peer pressure and by financial machinations”24 etc., which have gradually drained, stopped, and eliminated all plurality in points of views from any decision-making-authority and position of power. The result has been the impediment of intellectual and material advancement in the name of an outdated, senile, bourgeois-capitalist status quo, which is increasingly ossifying itself into hierarchical rigidity, drastic financial inequality and socio-economic stagnation.

Subsequently, any bourgeois-institution, which is constructed and designed to propagate and maintain an outdated, senile, bourgeois-capitalist status quo, at the expense of intellectual and material advancement, should be radically deconstructed, destroyed and/or abolished on the very basis that these bourgeois-institutions and dominance hierarchies prevent intellectual and material development by denying collectivism, egalitarianism and equal access for all. That is, bourgeois rules and regulations should be defied, smashed, and broken at every turn due to the fundamental fact that these institutional bourgeois rules and regulations impeded intellectual and material advancement in the name of private property, individualism, bourgeois hierarchy and bourgeois money. These bourgeois rules and regulations should be usurped, including the bourgeois-institutions and hierarchies based on them, because these bourgeois rules and regulations are simply in place to sustain a divisive, out of date, bourgeois-capitalist status quo at the expense of genuine socio-economic plurality, advancement, and betterment. The basis for such a vast pragmatic deconstruction of bourgeois-institutions is the fact that “there is no ontology…[and] no [underlying] rules”25; we have no basic universal guideline to live by, thus, to limit decision-making-authority strictly to a minority comprised in a small, tightly-knit, bourgeois-capitalist status quo and aristocracy, is detrimental to the survival of society and the advancement of the human species.

According to Paul Feyerabend, “language can be bent in many directions…[because] understanding does not depend on any particular set of rules”;26 as a result, “a single…world-view is going too far”.27 It impedes intellectual and material advancement since these bourgeois rules and regulations deny collectivism, egalitarianism, and accessibility; i.e., the very essence of intellectual and material advancement, which is grounded in diversity and plurality. These bourgeois rules and regulations should be pragmatically deconstructed, destroyed and/or abolished, beyond any ability to re-establish these bourgeois impediments which hinder advancement and egalitarianism. Because, as Feyerabend states, “interesting possibilities are removed [when institutions] firmly [insist] on the status quo”,28 while denying the existence of all viable progressive exceptions; i.e., diversity, plurality and multiplicity.

What does this mean? This means that all institutions or dominance hierarchies should be horizontally reconstructed so as to permit maximum participation in decision-making-authority by as many micro-narratives and/or individual subjectivities as possible as “knowledge needs a plurality of ideas”.16  Consequently, bourgeois-politics, bourgeois-law, bourgeois-education, bourgeois-media etc., should be radically opened-up to radical plurality, diversity and multiplicity. Namely, a litany of point of views and collectives, each with an equal amount of decision-making-authority, unencumbered by rigid rules and regulations, able to fashion and refashion rules, regulations and institutions at will pending on the situation. In effect, we can only “be just, case by case”,29 guided by the idea of maintaining plurality so that democracy, participation and accessibility is fully maximized and spread over as many micro-narratives and individuals as possible.

This means that the federal bourgeois-state-apparatus should be abolished, destroyed and pragmatically deconstructed due to the fact that it only acknowledges, promotes, and positions select members of the upper-echelons of bourgeois-capitalism within its hierarchy of decision-making-authority. Moreover, this means that bourgeois-law should be abolished, destroyed and pragmatically deconstructed due to the fact that bourgeois-law only cherishes bourgeois forms of existence; i.e., individualism, bourgeois-property, bourgeois-money, bourgeois-hierarchy and bourgeois capital etc., at the expense of the majority of micro-narratives that traverse across the workforce/population. Finally, this means that bourgeois-education should be abolished, destroyed and pragmatically deconstructed because the majority of bourgeois-education instructs and promotes bourgeois obedience, bourgeois consciousness, bourgeois hierarchy, bourgeois arbitrary rules and regulations. All of which impede intellectual and material advancement by denying a multiplicity of valid perspectives and points of views, by which to develop new knowledges, technologies and new solutions, all on account that these perspectives and points of views break with the bourgeois-capitalist status quo. As Feyerabend states, “humans cannot have complete knowledge. There are too many things, too many events, too many situations”,30 as a result, any intellectual and material advancement of knowledge and life must permit the participation of “many different maps of reality”31 within decision-making-authority in order to maximize the possibility of advancements. And, any bourgeois-institution, which run contrary to this demand for plurality, which by this definition is all institutions serving bourgeois-capitalism, are in violation of the primary imperative of the human species. That is, the innate biological imperative and drive, housed in the species, commanding an “overall mastery and comprehension of phenomena”,32 as soon as possible.

For this reason, bourgeois-education and, in general, bourgeois-institutions need to be opened-up to variation, with loose rules and regulations, designed to maximize democracy, participation and accessibility. For bourgeois-education, this means loose standards and criterions pertaining to the completion of degrees and educational competences. In effect, the plurality of multi-varied individuals and micro-narratives must be allowed to enter and exit, at will, the post-bourgeois-capitalist-university without set time-limits. These multi-varied individuals and micro-narratives must be permitted to change and collage courses and educational disciplines at will in order to attain their degrees.

Nothing must impede intellectual and material development in the sense that as Feyerabend states “there are many ways of ordering the world”33 and each must be given the opportunity to democratically participate in the intellectual and material advancement of our species. Limiting accessibility and allocation of socio-economic resources in relative equal measure for the greatest number ultimately limits opportunities, capabilities and possibilities for intellectual and material advancement. In short, clinging to the bourgeois-capitalist way of life is increasingly clarifying the basic fact that this mode of existence is inhibiting intellectual and material development because it denies contributions by the vast majority who are forced decision-making-authority in the name of bourgeois-hierarchy and a bourgeois-capitalist status quo.  The crux of intellectual and material advancement requires collectivism, egalitarianism and maximum accessibility for all, which is exactly what is being suppressed by the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism. That is, “liberty is full only at the moment when the power of the representatives [of bourgeois-state-capitalism] is suspended and given back to the represented, [i.e., the people]”.34 Only then, is plurality, diversity and accessibility capable of being fully realized, which includes the prospect for maximum intellectual and material advancement.

All told, all standards and criterions must be made ultra-flexible, ultra-adaptable, and ultra-democratic so as to maximize open-participatory-democracy and decision-making-authority across a maximum number of people living, existing, and accessing the post-bourgeois-capitalist-university and, in general, post-bourgeois-capitalist-institutions. The point is to accommodate the variability of people and narratives entering and living through the post-bourgeois-capitalist-university and, in general, post-bourgeois-capitalist-institutions because knowledge “is not one tradition, it is many”35 and the maximization of accessibility by all sorts of different people and narratives leads to the maximization of mastery and comprehension over phenomena. The point is to accommodate maximum variability, plurality and participation at all levels of the post-bourgeois-capitalist-university and, in general, post-bourgeois-capitalist-institutions, due to the fact that, in actuality, there are no “universal measures of excellence”;36 as a result, the more points of views participating in decision-making-authority, the more chances of intellectual and material advancement. The point is to facilitate, enable, and accelerate intellectual and material advancement, by removing as many barriers as possible to intellectual and material development, meaning the dissolution of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism.

In sum, bourgeois-capitalism, the last meta-narrative of the Enlightenment, and all its individual tenets, such as individualism, bourgeois-hierarchy etc., must be jettisoned and abandoned at all levels of human existence, at all levels of everyday life and at all levels of education, law, politics, and institutions etc., because bourgeois-capitalism impedes intellectual and material advancement, by denying the tenets for maximum intellectual and material advancement. That is, the tenets of collectivism, egalitarianism and accessibility for all, in relative equal measure; therefore, nothing bourgeois, or capitalist, must survive the consequences of pragmatic deconstruction. Absolutely nothing! As bourgeois-capitalism must be reduced to its rightful place and its true legitimate position, as just another perspective, way of life, and mode of production, consumption, and distribution, among many:

No invention is ever made in isolation, and no idea is, therefore, completely without (abstract or empirical) support….then the step back [from unicity into plurality] is a step forward,…away from the tyranny of tightly-knit, highly corroborated, [collusionary bourgeois-capitalist] systems.37

Such a move is a step-forward, a step towards maximization, diversity and equality for the greatest number. It is a step-forward into an open-participatory-democracy devoid of class-divisions, race-divisions, gender-divisions etc., in service of collectivism, egalitarianism and maximum accessibility for the greatest number.

Therefore, only when post-modernism attains its nth degree and becomes fully pragmatic; i.e., a pragmatic application of deconstruction, will the last stains of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism be wiped clean from all senile, modern institutions.  Only when post-modernism becomes fully radicalized, and pushes through the remaining meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism haunting civil society will the essence of post-modernity realize itself with maximum clarity. Then, will we be finally free of the tyranny of bourgeois-unicity and be “given [real] equal rights, equal access to education and…[real] positions of power”38 as post-modernism is incomplete and demands its essentiality, namely, plurality, equality and accessibility for the greatest number, ASAP!

  1. Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. xxiv.
  2. Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thebaud, Just Gaming, Trans. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985) p. 16.
  3. Ibid, p. 9.
  4. Ibid, p. 14.
  5. Michel Luc Bellemare, The Structural-Anarchism Manifesto: (The Logic of Structural-Anarchism Versus The Logic of Capitalism), (Montréal: Blacksatin Publications Inc., 2016) 25.b).
  6. Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thebaud, Just Gaming, Trans. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985) p. 74.
  7. Ibid, p. 102.
  8. Jacque Derrida, Of Grammatology, Trans. Gayatri Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016) p. 350.
  9. Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. 37.
  10. Paul Feyerabend, Against Method. (London: Verso, 1975) p. 202.
  11. Ibid, p. 127.
  12. Ibid, p. 32.
  13. Ibid, p. 105.
  14. Ibid, p. 28.
  15. Paul Feyerabend, Against Method. (London: Verso, 1975) p. 238.
  16. Ibid, p. 132.
  17. Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thebaud, Just Gaming, Trans. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985) p. 50.
  18. Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. 64.
  19. Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thebaud, Just Gaming, Trans. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985) p. 99.
  20. Ibid, p. 99.
  21. Ibid, p. 98.
  22. Paul Feyerabend, Against Method. (London: Verso, 1975) p. 138.
  23. Ibid, p. 138.
  24. Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. 46.
  25. Paul Feyerabend, Against Method. (London: Verso, 1975)  p. 195.
  26. Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thebaud, Just Gaming, Trans. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985) p. 65.
  27. Paul Feyerabend, Against Method. (London: Verso, 1975) p. 257.
  28. Ibid, p. 245.
  29. Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thebaud, Just Gaming, Trans. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985) p. 53.
  30. Paul Feyerabend, Against Method. (London: Verso, 1975) p. 205.
  31. Ibid, p. 256.
  32. Michel Luc Bellemare, Treatise on Logical Reason, (Montréal: Blacksatin Publications Inc., 2017) 5.g).
  33. Paul Feyerabend, Against Method. (London: Verso, 1975) p. 166.
  34. Jacque Derrida, Of Grammatology, Trans. Gayatri Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016) p. 323.
  35. Paul Feyerabend, Against Method. (London: Verso, 1975) p. 242.
  36. Ibid, p. 223.
  37. Ibid, p. 116.
  38. Ibid, p. 238.

American Anti-Soviet Union morphs into American Anti-Russia

Unpersons

One reason it’s so easy to get an American administration, the mainstream media, and the American people to jump on an anti-Russian bandwagon is, of course, the legacy of the Soviet Union. To all the real crimes and shortcomings of that period the US regularly added many fictitious claims to agitate the American public against Moscow. That has not come to a halt. During a debate in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, candidate Ben Carson (now the head of the US Housing and Urban Development agency) allowed the following to pass his lips: “Joseph Stalin said if you want to bring America down, you have to undermine three things: Our spiritual life, our patriotism, and our morality.” This is a variation on many Stalinist “quotes” over the years designed to deprecate both the Soviet leader and any American who can be made to sound like him. The quote was quite false, but the debate moderators and the other candidates didn’t raise any question about its accuracy. Of course not.

Another feature of Stalinism that was routinely hammered into our heads was that of the “non-person” or “unperson” – the former well-known official or writer, for example, who fell out of favor with the Stalinist regime for something he said or did, and was thereafter doomed to a life of obscurity, if not worse. In his classic 1984 George Orwell speaks of a character who “was already an unperson. He did not exist: he had never existed.” I was reminded of this by the recent sudden firing of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Matthew Lee, the courageous Associated Press reporter who has been challenging State Department propaganda for years, had this to say in an April 1 article:

Rex Tillerson has all but vanished from the State Department’s website as his unceremonious firing by tweet took effect over the weekend.

The “Secretary of State Tillerson” link at the top of the department’s homepage disappeared overnight Saturday and was replaced with a generic “Secretary of State” tab. When clicked, it leads to a page that informs visitors in a brief statement that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan “became acting Secretary of State on April 1, 2018.” It shows a photo of Sullivan signing his appointment papers as deputy in June 2017 but offers no explanation for the change in leadership.

In addition to that change, links that had connected to Tillerson’s speeches, travels and other events now display those of Sullivan. The link to Tillerson’s biography as the 69th secretary of state briefly returned a “We’re sorry, that page can’t be found” message. After being notified of the message, the State Department restored the link and an archive page for Tillerson’s tenure was enabled.

The most repeated Cold War anti-Communist myth was, of course, Nikita Khrushchev’s much quoted – No, eternally quoted! – line: “We will bury you.” On November 20 1956 the New York Times had reported: “In commenting on coexistence last night Mr. Khrushchev said communism did not have to resort to war to defeat capitalism. “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side,” he said. “We will bury you.”

Obviously, it was not a military threat of any kind. But tell that to the countless individuals who have cited it as such forever.1 So, as matters turned out, did communism, or call it socialism, bury capitalism? No. But not for the reason the capitalists would like to think – their superior socio-economic system. Capitalism remains the world’s pre-eminent system primarily because of military power combined with CIA covert actions. It’s that combination that irredeemably crippled socialist forces in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Guatemala, Haiti, Ecuador, the Congo, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Chile, Angola, Grenada, Nicaragua, Bulgaria, Albania, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, El Salvador, etc., etc., etc.

We’ll never know what kind of societies would have resulted if these movements had been allowed to develop without US interference; which, of course, was the idea behind the interference.

Political assassination. Political propaganda.

In the Cold War struggles against the Soviets/Russians the United States has long had the upper hand when it comes to political propaganda. What do the Russkis know about sales campaigns, advertising, psychological manipulation of the public, bait-and-switch, and a host of other Madison Avenue innovations. Just look at what the American media and their Western partners have done with the poisoning of the two Russians, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, in the UK. How many in the West doubt Russia’s guilt?

Then consider the case of Hugo Chávez. When he died in 2013 I wrote the following:

[W]hen someone like Chávez dies at the young age of 58 I have to wonder about the circumstances. Unremitting cancer, intractable respiratory infections, massive heart attack, one after the other … It is well known that during the Cold War, the CIA worked diligently to develop substances that could kill without leaving a trace. I would like to see the Venezuelan government pursue every avenue of investigation in having an autopsy performed. (None was performed apparently.)

Back in December 2011, Chávez, already under treatment for cancer, wondered out loud: “Would it be so strange that they’ve invented the technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?” The Venezuelan president was speaking a day after Argentina’s leftist president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This was after three other prominent leftist Latin America leaders had been diagnosed with cancer: Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff; Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo; and the former Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

“Evo take care of yourself. Correa, be careful. We just don’t know,” Chávez said, referring to Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, both leading leftists.

Chávez said he had received words of warning from Fidel Castro, himself the target of hundreds of failed and often bizarre CIA assassination plots. “Fidel always told me: ‘Chávez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat … a little needle and they inject you with I don’t know what.”2

When the new Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, suggested possible American involvement in Chávez’s death, the US State Department called the allegation “absurd” even though the United States had already played a key role in the short-lived overthrow of Chávez in 2002. I don’t know of any American mainstream media that has raised the possibility that Chávez was murdered.

I personally believe, without any proof to offer, (although no less than is offered re Russia’s guilt in the UK poisoning) that Hugo Chávez was indeed murdered by the United States. But unlike the UK case, I do have a motivation to offer: Given Chávez’s unremitting hostility towards American imperialism and the CIA’s record of more than 50 assassination attempts against such world political leaders, if his illness and death were NOT induced, the CIA was not doing its job. The world’s media, however, did its job by overwhelmingly ignoring such “conspiracy” talk, saving it for a more “appropriate” occasion, one involving their favorite bad guy, Russia.

If I could speak to British prime-minister Theresa May and her boorish foreign minister Boris Johnson I’d like to ask them: “What are you going to say when it turns out that it wasn’t Russia behind the Skripal poisonings?” Stay tuned.

Another of the many charming examples of Cold War anti-communism

Nostalgia is on the march in Brazil, a longing for a return to the military dictatorship of 1964-1985, during which nearly 500 people were killed by the authorities or simply disappeared. It was a time when the ruling generals used systemic brutality, including electric shocks, as well as psychological torture in their effort to cement power and ward off what they called “communism”. They also stole many of the very young children of their victims and gave them to their followers, whom the children then believed to be their parents.

Crime is the main problem in Brazil today, the leading reason for the desire to return to the good old days of dictatorial rule. An estimated 43 percent of the Brazilian population supports at least a temporary revival of military control, according to a 2017 poll, up from 35 percent in 2016. Fear of violence, whether it be terrorism or street crime, has fueled support for authoritarian parties and bolstered populist leaders with tough-on-crime, anti-immigrant platforms around the world, from President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Austria to a fellow named Trump in the good ol’ US of A.

“Thanks to you, Brazil did not become Cuba!” the crowd chanted at a recent demonstration in Brazil, some snapping salutes.3

This is indeed the height of irony. In all likelihood many of those people were not strangers to hunger, struggling to pay their rent, could not afford needed medical care, or education; yet, they shouted against a country where such deprivations are virtually non-existent.

The United States, of course, played a significant role in the 1964 overthrow of the Brazilian democracy. How could it be otherwise in this world? Here is a phone conversation between US President Lyndon B. Johnson and Thomas Mann, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, April 3, 1964, two days after the coup:

Mann: I hope you’re as happy about Brazil as I am.

LBJ: I am.

Mann: I think that’s the most important thing that’s happened in the hemisphere in three years.

LBJ: I hope they give us some credit instead of hell.4

Does the man ever feel embarrassed?

In his desperation for approval, our dear president has jumped on the back of increased military spending. Speaking to the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania he said that he should be given “credit” for pressuring countries like theirs to give more money to NATO. None of presidents had the nerve to ask Mr. Trump why that is a good thing; perhaps pointing out that some of the millions of dollars could have been used to improve the quality of their people’s lives.

A few days later, at the White House Easter Egg Roll the president “bragged to a crowd of children about increasing military spending to $700 billion.” One can imagine what their young minds made of this. Will they one day realize that this man called “The President” was telling them that large amounts of money which could have been spent on their health and education, on their transportation and environment, was instead spent on various weapons used to kill people?

The size of the man’s ego needs can not be exaggerated. The Washington Post observed that Trump instructed the Lithuanian president

to praise him on camera, just as he said she had done privately in the Oval Office. She obliged, saying changes to NATO would not be possible without the United States and that its ‘vital voice and vital leadership’ are important. Trump pressed her: ‘And has Donald Trump made a difference on NATO?’ Those in the room laughed, as she confirmed he has made a difference.5

Thank God some of those in the room laughed. I was beginning to think that all hope was lost.

The stars we honor

Is it a sign of America’s moral maturation that numerous celebrities have been forced to resign or retire because of being exposed as sexual predators?

Maybe. To some extent. I hope so.

But I’d be much more impressed if talk shows and other media stopped inviting and honoring much worse people as guests – war criminals, torturers, serial liars, and mass murderers; people like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, and many military officials.

  1. For a book-length discussion of cold-war anti-communist propaganda see Morris Kominsky, The Hoaxers (1970).
  2. The Guardian (London), December 29, 2011.
  3. Washington Post, March 16, 2018.
  4. Michael Beschloss, Taking Charge: The White House Tapes 1963-1964 (1997), p.306.
  5. Washington Post, April 5, 2018.

Trump Puts his Logo on the Military-Industrial Complex, Sets Up US Arms Sales with Syria Demo

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The week after the US, along with the UK and France, launched unilateral strikes against the Syrian government, the Trump administration is rolling out a “Buy American” weapons-selling initiative aimed at allowing other nations to buy even more weapons from US-based arms manufacturers. According to Reuters, the initiative, set to be announced today, will speed up the approval of arms deals to US allies and will call for members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet, as well as the president himself, to act as “closers” in major arms deals and salesmen for US weapons companies at international air shows and weapons showcases.

“This policy seeks to mobilize the full resources of the United States government behind arms transfers that are in the US national and economic security interest,” a White House official told Reuters. After news of the initiative first broke in the media, US weapons manufacturers made massive gains in the stock market and Raytheon’s stock hit an all-time high. In addition to helping the military-industrial complex secure more business, Trump may be pushing the initiative, at least in part, because of his personal investments in US weapons giants like Raytheon, Boeing and General Electric.

The initiative comes less than a week after the US strikes launched against Syria, and the strikes themselves were likely part of a PR bid to boost US weapons manufacturers and international arms orders leading up to the “Buy American” announcement. In addition, doubts have been raised that the strikes were planned to cause any major damage to the Syrian government, as the Syrian and Russian governments were allegedly “tipped off” by Trump prior to the attack, and given ample time to prepare by evacuating nearly all key military hardware.

This suggests that the purpose of the strike was not actually to harm the Syrian government as much as showcase US military might and weaponry in the lead-up to the official announcement of Trump’s new weapons selling initiative.

My missile’s better than your missile

Indeed, the US military, after the strike, praised the offensive for its “precision,” and the types of missiles and assets used – nearly all from US weapons giants like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing – figured prominently in media coverage of the strike. After the strikes, the stocks of US weapon manufacturers jumped sharply, adding nearly $10 billion to their market value. The strike also enriched the president himself by virtue of his stock holdings in Raytheon and Boeing.

The Syria strikes were also notable because they were used to debut new US-made missiles, which – unsurprisingly – received glowing reviews and a PR boost following the Syria strikes. Nineteen of those new missiles – the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, or JASSMs, manufactured by Lockheed Martin – were used for the first time in last week’s Syria attack after over 20 years of performance problems and other setbacks drastically delayed their development. However, their performance in the Syria strike conveniently proved a real-time “testing ground” for the missiles, and enough buzz for the missile’s troubled past to be forgotten. Further proof that the strikes were ordered with this purpose in mind is the fact that Lockheed Martin executives were preparing for a jump in JASSM orders before the strikes were even announced.

Using the Syria strike as a weapons-selling strategy may well have backfired, however. According to Russia, 71 of 103 missiles fired by the US, U.K. and France were shot down, resulting in a dismal success rate of around 31 percent and leading the coalition to hit only three of its original eight targets. It is likely for this very reason that the Pentagon has since changed its story by claiming that the US and its allies had always intended to hit only three targets, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Changing the narrative here is essential in attempts to boost US weapon sales — as admitting the success of the Russian-manufactured missile defense systems used in Syria would damage the sales of US missiles and bomber jets while boosting sales of Russian missile defense units.

Peanuts, popcorn, cool new missiles!

Trump’s bid to increase US arms sales, by using the Syria strikes as a PR blitz to show the effectiveness of US-made weapons, is just the latest action taken by the president to cement his role as America’s top arms dealer.

For instance, Reuters reported that Trump had personally intervened on behalf of Boeing, currently the US’ top weapons contractor, in a January phone call with the emir of Kuwait. During the call, Trump reportedly pushed the Kuwaiti leader to move forward on a $10 billion fighter-jet deal that Boeing considered “critical to its military aircraft division.” Trump’s presidency has thus far been incredibly kind to Boeing, which received $1.1 billion as a result of the Trump tax cut legislation and has seen its stock price double during his presidency.

More recently, Trump, during the recent visit of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, held posters with pictures of US armaments and jets that had been sold to Saudi Arabia, smiling while boasting to reporters that “we make the best military product in the world.”

In addition, Trump has been working on rewriting the government’s Conventional Arms Transfer policy and the International Traffic in Arms regulations in order to make it easier to export more military-grade weapons. “It is about making sure we are doing everything we can to promote the competitiveness of American trade,” a State Department official told Politico last fall about the upcoming deal. Another similar effort taken up by the Trump administration involves using US diplomacy to assist US weapons companies obtain lucrative foreign-government contracts.

These changes, which the Trump administration plans to make official policy as soon as this week, have long been a major lobbying objective of the US weapons industry. Ultimately, though, they show that the military-industrial complex – long operating behind-the-scenes in US politics – is now set to become an integral part of the US’ public face, as Trump finds his niche “closing deals” for US weapon manufacturers around the world. Of course, with so many arms deals in the making, major wars and global conflicts likely aren’t too far behind.

Reprinted with permission from MintPressNews.