Category Archives: Empire

The Spoils of Empire

In the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, we take a look at some of the recent resistance waged by two nations rendered stateless by British cartographers.

First we visit Palestine where tensions have flared into several violent confrontations between Israeli settlers and the Palestinian intifada. Then we go to Kurdistan where neighboring Turkey has renewed it’s expansionist dreams putting Kurdish occupied areas under threat.

Finally a rather troubling weather report investigates the latest effects of climate change around the globe.

The post The Spoils of Empire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

And Then There Was No More Empire All of a Sudden

Bisa Butler (USA), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 2019.

Empire denies its own existence. It does not exist as an empire but only as benevolence, with its mission to spread human rights and sustainable development across the world. However, that perspective means nothing in Havana nor in Caracas, where ‘human rights’ has come to mean regime change, and where ‘sustainable development’ has come to mean the throttling of their people through sanctions and blockades. It is from the standpoint of the victims of empire that clarity comes.

US President Joe Biden is to host the Summit of the Americas in June, where he hopes to deepen Washington’s hegemony over the Americas. The United States government understands that its project of hegemony faces an existential crisis caused by the weaknesses of the US political system and the US economy, with limited funds available for investment within its own country, let alone for the rest of the world. At the same time, US hegemony faces a serious challenge from China, whose Belt and Road Initiative has been seen in large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund’s austerity agenda. Rather than work alongside Chinese investments, the US is eager to use any means to prevent China from engaging with countries in the Americas. Along this axis, the US has revitalised the Monroe Doctrine. This policy, which will be two centuries old next year, claims that the Americas are the dominion of the United States, its ‘sphere of influence’, and its ‘backyard’ (although Biden has tried to be cute by calling the region the US’s ‘front yard’).

Along with the International Peoples’ Assembly, we have developed a red alert on two instruments of US power – the Organisation of American States and the Summit of the Americas – as well as the challenge that the US faces as it tries to impose its hegemony in the region. The red alert is featured below and is available here as a PDF. Please read it, discuss it, and share it.

What is the Organisation of American States?

The Organisation of American States (OAS) was formed in Bogotá, Colombia in 1948 by the United States and its allies. Though the OAS Charter invokes the rhetoric of multilateralism and cooperation, the organisation has been used as a tool to fight against communism in the hemisphere and to impose a US agenda on the countries of the Americas. Roughly half of the funds for the OAS and 80 percent of the funds for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an autonomous organ of the OAS, come from the US. It is worth noting that – despite providing the majority of its budget – the US has not ratified any of the IACHR’s treaties.

The OAS showed its true colours after the Cuban Revolution (1959). In 1962, at a meeting in Punta del Este (Uruguay), Cuba – a founding member of the OAS – was expelled from the organisation. The declaration from the meeting stated that ‘the principles of communism are incompatible with the principles of the inter-American system’. In response, Fidel Castro called the OAS the ‘US Ministry of Colonies’.

The OAS set up the Special Consultative Committee on Security Against the Subversive Action of International Communism in 1962, with the purpose of allowing the elites in the Americas – led by the US – to use every means possible against popular movements of the working class and peasantry. The OAS has afforded diplomatic and political cover to the US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as it has participated in the overthrow of governments that attempt to exercise their legitimate sovereignty – sovereignty that the OAS Charter purports to guarantee. This exercise has gone all the way from the OAS’s expulsion of Cuba in 1962 to the orchestration of coups in Honduras (2009) and Bolivia (2019) to the repeated attempts to overthrow the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela and ongoing interference in Haiti.

Since 1962, the OAS has openly acted alongside the US government to sanction countries without a United Nations Security Council resolution, which makes these sanctions illegal. It has, therefore, regularly violated the ‘principle of non-interference’ in its own charter, which prohibits ‘armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements’ (chapter 1, article 2, section b and chapter IV, article 19).

Diego Rivera (Mexico), Liberación del Peón (‘Liberation of the peon’), 1931.

What is the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)?

Venezuela, led by President Hugo Chávez, initiated a process in the early 2000s to build new regional institutions outside of US control. Three major platforms were built in this period: 1) the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in 2004; 2) the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in 2004; and 3) the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2010. These platforms established inter-governmental connections across the Americas, including summits on matters of regional importance and technical institutions to enhance trade and cultural interactions across borders. Each of these platforms have faced threats from the United States. As governments in the region oscillate politically, their commitment to these platforms has either increased (the more left they have been) or decreased (the more subordinate they have been to the United States).

At the 6th Summit of CELAC in Mexico City in 2021, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suggested that the OAS be disbanded and that CELAC help to build a multilateral organisation at the scale of the European Union to resolve regional conflicts, build trade partnerships, and promote the unity of the Americas.

Tessa Mars (Haiti), Untitled, Praying for the visa series, 2019.

What is the Summit of the Americas?

With the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the United States attempted to dominate the world by using its military power to discipline any state that did not accept its hegemony (as in Panama, 1989 and Iraq, 1991) and by institutionalising its economic power through the World Trade Organisation, set up in 1994. The US called the OAS member states to Miami for the first Summit of the Americas in 1994, which was subsequently handed over to the OAS to manage. The summit has convened every few years since to ‘discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level’.

Despite its stronghold over the OAS, the US has never been able fully to impose its agenda at these summits. At the third summit in Quebec City (2001) and the fourth summit in Mar del Plata (2005), popular movements held large counter-protests; at Mar del Plata, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez led a massive demonstration, which resulted in the collapse of the US-imposed Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement. The fifth and sixth summits at Port of Spain (2009) and Cartagena (2012) became a battlefield for the debate over the US blockade on Cuba and its expulsion from the OAS. Due to immense pressure from the member states of the OAS, Cuba was invited to the seventh and eighth summits in Panama City (2015) and Lima (2018), against the wishes of the United States.

However, the United States has not invited Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela to the upcoming ninth summit to be held in Los Angeles in June 2022. Several countries – including Bolivia and Mexico – have said that they will not attend the meeting unless all thirty-five countries in the Americas are in attendance. From 8–10 June, a range of progressive organisations will hold a People’s Summit to counter the OAS summit and to amplify the voices of all the peoples of the Americas.

Rufino Tamayo (Mexico), Animals, 1941.

In 2010, the poet Derek Walcott (1930–2017) published ‘The Lost Empire’, a celebration of the Caribbean and of his own island, Saint Lucia, in particular as British imperialism retreated. Walcott grew up with the economic and cultural suffocation imposed by colonialism, the ugliness of being made to feel inferior, and the wretchedness of the poverty that came alongside it. Years later, reflecting on the jubilation of the retreat of British rule, Walcott wrote:

And then there was no more Empire all of a sudden.
Its victories were air, its dominions dirt:
Burma, Canada, Egypt, Africa, India, the Sudan.
The map that had seeped its stain on a schoolboy’s shirt
like red ink on a blotter, battles, long sieges.
Dhows and feluccas, hill stations, outposts, flags
fluttering down in the dusk, their golden aegis
went out with the sun, the last gleam on a great crag,
With tiger-eyed turbaned Sikhs, pennons of the Raj
to a sobbing bugle.

The sun is setting on imperialism as we emerge slowly and delicately into a world that seeks meaningful equality rather than subordination. ‘This small place’, Walcott writes of Saint Lucia, ‘produces nothing but beauty’. That would be true of the entire world if we could get beyond our long, modern history of battles and sieges, warships, and nuclear weapons.

The post And Then There Was No More Empire All of a Sudden first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Do We Have a Failure to Communicate!

Ted Rall gets it right here: The Left Must Continue to Avoid the Ukraine Trap

“Find a way to be against the war in Ukraine, please.” That was the subject line of one of my recent hate emails. “If you look through Mr. Rall’s cartoons for the past month, there isn’t a single one condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” an anonymous online commenter chided. “There’s plenty of ones based around whataboutism condemning us for condemning them but not a single one that just comes right out and says what Russia is doing now is wrong.”

The Right — in the U.S. that includes Republicans, Democrats and corporate media — has set a clever trap for the anti-war Left. The rhetoric in this essay’s first paragraph is an example. If the Left were to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Right would portray us as Russia-loving hypocrites who only oppose wars when the United States starts them. If the Left backed Ukraine, they’d be joining an unholy alliance with a government installed in a CIA-backed coup that pointlessly provoked Russia by asking to join NATO and is so tolerant of neo-Nazism that it allows soldiers wearing Nazi insignia in its military and seems to be trying to set some sort of record for building statues to World War II Nazi collaborators and antisemites. Plus, they’d be helping the Right distract people from the murderous sins of American imperialism, which are ongoing.

So, again, the offensive weapons industry, from the grenade to the guzzling B-1 bomber, from the pant zipper to the propelled hand-held rockets, from the Meals Ready to Eat to the Missiles from the Drones’ Mouth, all of those shell casings and depleted uranium bullet heads, all of that, including Burger Kings for Troops to the Experimental Anthrax Vaccines, all of that, and all the paper-mouse pushers, all the middlewomen and middlemen, all the folks in this military everything industrial complex, that is what the Russian Right to Stop Extremists/Murderers/ Nazis in Ukraine is all about. USA/UK/EU can take out wedding parties, but Russia can’t take out Nazi’s.

So, we have Angela Davis (throw away your blackness black panther card) and Chomsky and Sean Penn and every manner of woke and wise idiot calling Putin a dictator, a thug, an authoritarian leader. Oh, the authoritarian BlackRock and Raytheon and Biden Administration and USA Lobbying Network, and on and on, so, again, tenured professors with book contracts and speaking (paid big bucks) engagements, forget about them.

This is the American Way — Making Money on/off of WAR. The Racket that General Butler talked about is so so more complicated than his experiences in the 1890s through 1940s. These times are filled with buckets of DNA we might think have zero to do with war, but are so attached to the inbreeding of the war machines that every nanosecond of business and every transaction in this society is all tied to WAR. Like embedded energy and life cycle analysis, the military complex, if we really did the true cost of war/warring, the one or six trillion dollars that Brown University comes up with would be factored up by 10 or more.

The 2022 spending bill, which passed both chambers with gleeful bipartisan support last week, included billions of dollars for ships and planes that the Pentagon didn’t ask for, a common occurrence in Congress. Then, here it is — just one angle. Congress authorized $27 billion for Navy ships, including $4 billion for several vessels the Navy didn’t ask for, and $900 million for additional Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets the Navy had hoped to phase out. The bill also provides billions to purchase 20 more Lockheed Martin C-130J transport planes than the Pentagon requested.

And, the details are in the sausage making, from scarred land for corn, to the poisons to grow the corn, to the ponds of pig blood and guts, to the butchering of antibiotic-filled and toxin-laden pigs, to the transportation of poisoned meat, to sausage warehouses, to all of the packaging and happy meal advertisements, and then, of course, the cost of clogged arteries and obesity and colon cancers, all of that, well, figure in a similar cost analysis for every Hellfire missile produced for the profits of the offensive weapons Mafia.

Since the start of the new year, Lockheed Martin’s stock has soared nearly 25 percent, while Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman each saw their stock prices rise by around 12 percent.

In a January earnings call, Lockheed Martin CEO James Taiclet said that the “renewed great power competition” would lead to inflated defense budgets and additional sales. On the same day, Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told investors that the company expected to see “opportunities for international sales” amid the Russian threat.

“The tensions in Eastern Europe, the tensions in the South China Sea, all of those things are putting pressure on some of the defense spending over there,” Hayes said. “So I fully expect we’re going to see some benefit from it.”

The defense lobbyist also predicted a major gain for U.S. defense firms thanks to increased European defense spending.

“As much as many countries have their own defense industrial base, they don’t make everything they need themselves. So they are going to rely on us in many cases for missiles, for aircraft, for ground vehicles,” they said. (source)

These are sociopaths. Read it again and again if you are dense. “…. thanks to increased EU spending . . . .” Or, “. . . . fully expect we’re going to see … benefit from it (wars) . . . ” These are golf course dealing misanthropes. Their kids go to Yale, and they have two or four homes around the country. They attend $500 a ticket Hamilton galas. They are the Titans of Terror.

Alas, the offensive weapons-equipment-PSYOPS-marketing-financing INDUSTRY is the gift (poison, PTSD, maiming, mauling, murdering) that keeps on giving. The sacking of our own personal and collective agency, that is, where is the fight for our poor, for our huddled masses, for our general anxiety disordered citizens? Where are those bandaids and nurses staffing those free drop-in clinics? Where are those hefty checks for clean water systems, R & R-ing lead pipes? Where are those insulating old homes programs? Where are those funds for aging in place programs? Where are the deals for the poor and struggling to get into national parks free? Where are those used tires for aging cars that take mother and daughter to their fast-food/child care/adult care jobs? Where are those food vouchers even the French are handing out? Where is all that help, uh?

Over decades of brainwashing and history scrubbing and agnotology and consumerism and propaganda and plain bad PK12 education. After years of mediocre college degrees, and after throwing money at computer engineers, the AI Hole in the Autism Wall Gang, and after so much celebrity pimping, the American public will pull out a yellow and blue hanky and smear their crocodile tears for a billionaire lying comic ZioLenskyy and wax nostalgic for those Nazi-loving Ukrainians, but never a word for fellow human beings in, well, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Russia.

We wonder about Word Press — a non-profit (sic) that takes $100 a year just for this little shit show? Will the site be hacked, cut, or disengaged because of Russia’s flag above and the UkiNazi image below?

 

Oh, the stories over at Grayzone or Consortium News or Mint Press or Covert Action Magazine, or . . . .

‘Gods of War’: How the US weaponized Ukraine against Russia TJ COLES

And the evil is the shutdown of discourse. True evil. Makes Mossad and CIA and Stasi and KGB look like Keystone Cops:

And, so, Zelenskyy wants hundreds and hundreds of billions in weapons and aid and for his padded luxurious life. Yep, a failure to communicate — the US of A! But there is still some sanity — Black Agenda Report:

Left Voices are Censored

Censorship is supposed to happen in other places, not in the U.S. But big tech, in alliance with the state, is silencing Black and other left voices in the media. The war in Ukraine is bringing this process into high relief and making a mockery of claims of freedom of expression. Jacqueline Luqman, co-host of the Sputnik program, By Any Means Necessary , explains.

The U.S. Crisis Plays Out in Ukraine

Joe Biden travelled to Europe for NATO and G7 meetings one month after Russian troops entered Ukraine. Biden predictably condemned Russia but also suggested he was seeking regime change against Vladimir Putin. Dr. Gerald Horne , author and historian who currently holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, analyses US policy in Ukraine.

The end game is lies, all the spin, the tens of thousands of outlets, the social media monsters, all of the PSYOPS, all the roots of Edward Bernays, Milton Friedman, Madmen, the entire suite of propaganda tools. A failure to communicate is now an avalanche of lies, as in the Empire of Lies. Russia loses that war — information 5.0 USA style, is Russia 1.0. Honesty is a crutch.

We’ve studied this system of propaganda, and it is sophisticated, way before Goebbels, but still, he is the master 2.0. Israel is a killer of a liar. Britain. USA.

Russia’s approach to the Ukraine question is remarkably different from the West’s. As far as Russia is concerned Ukraine is not a pawn on the chessboard but rather a member of the family with whom communication has become impossible due to protracted foreign interference and influence operations. According to Andrei Ilnitsky, an advisor to the Russian Ministry of Defence, Ukraine is the territory where the Russian world lost one of the strategic battles in the cognitive war. Having lost the battle, Russia feels all the more obliged to win the war — a war to undo the damage to a country that historically has always been part of the Russian world and to prevent the same damage at home. It is rather telling that what US-NATO call an “information war” is referred to as “mental’naya voina”, that is cognitive war, by this prominent Russian strategist. Being mainly on the receiving end of information/influence operations, Russia has been studying their deleterious effects. (source)

Marketing 101 is now hyperspace marketing, and the tools of bots, AI, algorithms, etc., they are like neutron info bombs.

  1.  Bandwagon propaganda
  2.  Card Stacking propaganda
  3.  Plain Folk Propaganda
  4.  Testimonial Propaganda
  5.  Glittering Generality Propaganda
  6.  Name Calling Propaganda
  7.  Transfer Propaganda
  8.  Ad nauseam propaganda
  9.  Stereotyping propaganda
  10.  Appeal to prejudice propaganda
  11.  Appeal to fear propaganda

So therefore, this relentless manipulation of people’s emotions and coginitive disassociation and associative thinking has unleashed a dangerous whirlwind of mass insanity.

The most dangerous purveyor of it:

US Propaganda 100 Years ago and how the Media was influenced (3) | by Melmac Politics | Medium

 

The New Age of Propaganda: Understanding Influence Operations in the Digital Age

World Economic Forum Blasted for 'Insane Pro-CRT Propaganda' Video - Miami Standard

Putin's digital aggression is backfiring in Ukraine - The Hill Times

The post Do We Have a Failure to Communicate! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What Happens After the Russia-Ukraine Conflict?

Offering predictions about what will follow the Russia-Ukraine conflict is probably a foolhardy exercise but here a few thoughts that might engender further speculation and discussion.

First, after the Ukraine crisis is resolved we’re likely to see a self-congratulatory period in Washington over its temporarily forcing Western European nations into a closer integration with U.S. imperialism, guaranteeing more European purchases of U.S. weapons and giving an immediate boost to Pentagon spending. The United States will portray the Russian Bear as intent on gobbling up more European countries and every effort will be made to ignite Cold War, Phase 2. These efforts will fail and much to the consternation of the American oligarchy, the dissolution of a unipolar world will continue apace. In fits and starts, perhaps for 2-3 years, Europe will gradually move away from the United States as mutually beneficial relations with Russia and especially with China, prove irresistible. European big business is not inclined toward class suicide and as international relations analyst Michael Hudson has asserted, there’s a limit to how long they will forego the immense opportunity costs — the costs of lost opportunities — of trading with Russia as the price for their continued obedience and vassalage to U.S. geo-strategic ambitions. Meanwhile, Washington will step up its frantic push to militarily encircle China, its primary foe.

Second, acclaimed scholar Alfred McCoy predicts that the United States as the world sole superpower will be eclipsed by China by around 2030. This projection is confirmed by several hard-headed, objective analyses, including the accounting firm PxC (also cited by McCoy) now calculate that the Chinese economy will be 60% larger than the United States by 2030. The period leading up to this rough demarcation line will be exceedingly dangerous because, as opposed to some past empires, it’s far from certain that United States will make a graceful exit from center stage, There is the possibility that in its death throes, the American empire, like the thrashing, violent extinction of Tyrannosaurus Rex, will take down much of the world with it.

Third, those living in the belly of the beast are likely to witness their rulers attempting to employ surrogates as boots on the ground to resist changes in the existing world order, perhaps commencing when Russia and China began trying to expel U.S. bases near Taiwan and in the South China Sea. These tactics will not succeed in stopping China from attaining, at least, parity with the United States. Barring the unthinkable introduction of advanced weapons systems, the call may go out again for U.S. troops to be dispatched to faraway places. Should that happen, one hopes that a strong, rekindled anti-war movement arises with the prominent organizing slogan, “No More Deaths for Nothing.”

Finally, and closely connected, is the fact that except for weapons stocks and a few others, the diminution of U.S. global power will cause an ever falling profit margin for big capital, including potential financial losses for the wealthiest, most powerful segments of society. This will, in turn, require an attempt to impose savage austerity measures that will fall largely on the working class. Private economic interests and their bilateral enablers in government will try to conceal that the roots of the economic crisis lie in neoliberal capitalism and specifically, its need to maintain the U.S. empire. In service to this escalating and corrosive logic of austerity, elites will reach into their seemingly bottomless trick bag and pull out racist dog whistles, appeals to fiscal discipline and personal sacrifice, while castigating the “entitlement mentality.” Flag-waving nationalism aimed at Russian and especially “The Chinese Threat,” will assume a high profile.

We know that austerity politics is class politics and here they will be inextricably woven into the politics of an empire in free fall. Much depends on whether ordinary citizens of the country finally come to realize that the welfare of the well-being of the capitalist class is inimical to their own well-being. And whatever remains of the actual left will have ample opportunity to help connect all the dots and participate in the radical changes that must follow.

Image credit: E-International Relations

The post What Happens After the Russia-Ukraine Conflict? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Requiem for a People-Centered World Dream

My dream is to invite a reader into a room and pour a nice cup of tea . . . and then nail the door shut.

— author Charles Bowden, 2010 NPR interview

There is so much daily that expresses so much about the slippery slopes we are in globally because of predatory-penury-parasitic-pugilistic capitalism.

In the USA, on this continent, north, and south of those colonial and Manifest Destiny “borders,” the amount of both absurdity and abomination is magnified in a world of protracted panic.

It’s there, truly, the panic. Young people are offing themselves with Narcan and with opiates. There are more dreams not only deferred, but dreams turned into nightmares by a thousand cuts.

We have a world where getting into uniform, with a rifle, with a joystick for murder incorporated, is the new abnormal. Hitch up in the killing machine US Army for $50K.

If this isn’t blasphemy, then, you know we have lathered ourselves on that slippery slope of the multi-pronged Faustian Bargain.

Then, more mercenaries recruited for big bonuses: Make that the disgusting US Army,

You know how messed up the USA is, from A to Z, and the news continues to illustrate the dying empire. Paying punks to enlist in the killing machine!

FORT CAMPBELL, KY — The U.S. Army is offering its largest bonus ever for new recruits with up to $50,000 available to qualified individuals who sign on for a six-year active-duty enlistment.

The total incentive package for a new recruit is based on a combination of incentives offered for the selected career field, individual qualifications, length of the enlistment contract, and the ship date for training.

In the past, enlistment incentives for full-time soldiers could not exceed $40,000.

The Army is competing for the same talent as the other services as well as the private sector and must have the ability to generate interest in the current employment environment, according to Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, who leads U.S. Army Recruiting Command in its mission to fill full-time and part-time vacancies in about 150 career fields in the regular Army and the Army Reserve.

“This is an opportunity to entice folks to consider the Army,” said Brig. Gen. John Cushing, who serves as the deputy commanding general for operations under Vereen at USAREC. “We’ve taken a look at the critical (military occupational specialties) we need to fill in order to maintain the training bases, and that is where we place a lot of our emphasis.”

Now run that up against The Man who coined the term Military Industrial Complex, and a new book written by, well, shall we call that person part of the elite, part of the chosen people from Ivy League and East Coast silver spoon roots. And, in the magazine that for many is a sell-out, for sure, Jacobin: Here, the article reviewing the man and the book.

Crisscrossing the country, Butler denounced US warmaking abroad and ruling-class violence at home as two sides of the same bloody coin, telling audiences from Racine to Roanoke that America was divided into “two classes”:

On one side, a class of citizens who were raised to believe that the whole of this country was created for their sole benefit, and on the other side, the other 99 percent of us, the soldier class, the class from which all of you soldiers came.

Butler published a short book, War Is a Racket, collecting the key themes of his orations in 1935. Later, in an essay in the socialist magazine Common Sense, Butler confessed to having been a “racketeer for capitalism,” elaborating that, as “a member of our country’s most agile military force,” he had served as “a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers.” In 1936, Marine Corps informants sent to spy on the ex-general observed him speaking on a panel alongside self-identified Communists and reported that “the General appeared to us to be either insane or an out and out traitor.”

[Major General John A. Lejeune, head of the Marine Corps, calls on General Smedley Butler in camp at Frederick, Maryland in 1922. (Bettmann / Getty Images)]

And, as an aside, but a big ASIDE, we are in a time of collective cholera of the conscious, in this remote work, remote being, remote news world. Just watching the fake left, Amy Goodman, daily (M-F) with an absolute stiff arm to authority, as the Democracy Now newsroom in New York is with Goodman, solo, while her correspondents, including Juan Gonzalez, are stuck in their homes with their laptops and tiny cameras and mic delivering their fear porn.

Young Lords logo.png

Imagine this happening today, 2022 — Verboten, again, in the Zoom Doom of Dead Consciousness. Mask up, sit on your toilet, tune into Zoom, if you are lucky:

[Students at the University of California at Berkeley filing in to listen to Smedley Butler’s Peace Day address in 1939. (Library of Congress)]

I analyzed Juan’s book, News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media, a while back. Remember, Juan was once in the radical group, the Young Lords.

Luís Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway, said “…in Murder City Charles Bowden plunges in head-first, without a parachute. There are moments when the book threatens to burst into flames and burn your hands.”

We are in a time of cholera of the consciousness, of infantalized masses following the dictates of a few chosen people, men and women of those classes, those groupings, the vetted and vaunted few, the ones who have been knighted by the lords of finance insurance real estate, and, more than FIRE, but the complex: Butler, War is a Racket.

Of course, it isn’t put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and “we must all put our shoulders to the wheel,” but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket — and are safely pocketed. Let’s just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people — didn’t one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn’t much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let’s look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump — or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!

Or, let’s take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.

There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let’s look at something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.

Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year.

Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.

Let’s group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000.

A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.

Read the short book, then scale it up to today! Trillions stolen from US taxpayers, and all the apps, all the services of the private money hecklers who have gotten sweetheart contracts with every branch of the government you and I supposedly fought for. All those trillions in bribes and bailouts. Imagine that, a Trump LLC and then a CitiBank Biden BBB. And before these two scoundrels? Do the history, look at the administrations, and figure it out. Here, just one short diatribe featuring one hell of a Satan, Kissinger. Beware of the verbiage I deploy to singe this fellow and those presidents who have utilized this war criminal. I have already gotten emails threatening me for the Blog Post. And notice all those cozy photos of Henry Kissinger with all the tribes of descrutive capitalism, a la war. War on us, war on societies, war on nations, war on children, war on ecology, war on thought, war on agency, war on the human body, war on thought.  “Tribalism Rules.”

So here we are, now, the kernel of this diatribe today — our faces. Oh, how we give up more and more each day, until the chip is in the back of the neck, and those bots are gathered in our organs with graphene building blocks to our souls.

Again, I harp on this one blasphemey, IRS demanding facial recognition — and that agency is for us, right? A truly representative form of democracy demands we the people have a huge say in what happens to us, and that’s not just idiotic voting, but again, “War is a Racket” is now “Banking-AI-Pharma-Med-Entertainment-Science-Education-Prisons-Law-Congress-Energy-Transportation-Chemicals-Engineering-Space-Data” ARE the Racket.” This is yet another single story that comes to us via the Net which is yet another chink in the armor of humanity plucked from our souls:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the US will require people to submit a facial scan through a third party provider to make payments or file taxes online. The system raises obvious privacy concerns.

Currently, users only require a username and password to log into their IRS accounts. But starting the summer of 2022, users will need to verify their identity through a third-party identity verification company called ID.me. The change was first noticed by Krebs on Security.

So you dig a bit, and find out who these millionaires and hedge funders and social impact investors are behind this “third party” (gouging, sick profiteers) outfit, ID Me!

Nader’s good, but he can only go so far. Yesterrday, 1/20, on Democracy Now, a rare media visit for Ralph Nader, who has been locked out of board rooms, out of newsrooms, locked out of so much for decades, when his memory, his insight, his analyses are vital to institutional memory and his own sort of harping against the profiteers.

He has to beat those dead horses, multiple times, year after year . . . dead horses tied to the fact there are no real journalists in the legacy media, and that there are no cops working the FTC or DoJ or EPA or FDA. He is spot on, but he never gets on NPR or PBS or Fox or CBS. Nader is spot on about Republicans being fascistic and messianic. They are, of course, worse:

And the reporters didn’t take him to task there. The reporters, either they’re not doing their homework or they’re full of taboos. I mean, they never raise the corporate supremacy over our country. There isn’t a single agency in the federal government that isn’t influenced maximally by corporate lobbies. And Congress is swarmed by corporate lobbies. You have 500 drug company lobbyists full-time assigned to Congress, and there are 535 members of Congress. And these corporations are strategically commercializing every aspect of our society, commercializing childhood, strategically planning the tax system, the food system, the health system, fighting global warming remedies, the fossil fuel industry, ExxonMobil. They’re planning our genetic inheritance. Commercializing childhood should be a left-right issue, conservative issue. The press never asks about it. The self-censorship of the press is overwhelming. That’s why we have to have a more independent media.

We have to have — I mean, look at the coverage of Ukraine. As Katrina pointed out, if our country was invaded in a span of 40 years from the north, with 50 million casualties, what do you think we would do? Do you think we would just station troops on the northern border? We would have taken over the northern country and annexed it. And that’s why dictator Putin can get away with what he’s doing now, in terms of public opinion of the impoverished Russian people, is because they remember. They have their casualties in their families from the western frontiers, started with Napoleon.

And here we are, expanding a military alliance for arms sales for the military-industrial complex, because, as was pointed out, a condition of joining NATO is to buy the F-16 and other weapons in Eastern European countries. NATO is a military alliance organized against the Soviet Union. And now they’re expanding it in Eastern Europe and putting troops there. It’s, here we go again, a completely preventable conflict. What Putin really wants is Ukraine never to join NATO, no strategic offensive weapons in the Ukraine. He’s asking for ending strategic weapons in Europe — that is not going to happen.

But the press asks war-inciting questions. NPR asked it. David Sanger asked it. They asked war-inciting questions. It’s like Vietnam all over again. It’s like Iraq all over again. They don’t ask peace-inciting questions about diplomacy. And this is a dangerous situation, and the press just isn’t doing its job. It isn’t just Biden.

He can’t communicate how the GOP is opposed to everything that’s defined as human. You don’t make moral appeals to the GOP, like Senator Warnock just did. You show that they are opposed to sending $250 and $300 monthly checks to 65 million children, which has stopped now, and the GOP will not expand it. I mean, that’s a good political item to communicate to the American people. Those 65 million children come from conservative and liberal families who are both deprived. He doesn’t know how to communicate. The GOP knows what it wants. It’s messianic. It’s fascistic. It’s driven. And the communication from the Democrats, from the DNC to the White House, is weak. It’s anemic. And the public senses that. (source)

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Finally, a story NOT covered in legacy media or left wing media. Ralph doesn’t get it yet. He still believes in his book title, how billionaires will save the world.

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He’s dead wrong about the above statement/title of one of his books. And, here it is, again, social impact investing, and the soul of humanity, especially youth, being sucked up by the ultra rich and investment teams for their data and their compliance — The Internet of Bodies and Human Capital Futures Bets In Brazil

In the coming years, global financiers, will attempt to meld dynamic pricing and mobile payments with biometric digital identity, Internet of Body sensors, and blockchain smart contracts and then weave it all into an expansive spatial web meant to control our social and economic relations in both the material world and, through digital assets, rights and privileges, in the Metaverse, as well. Click here to listen to an interview I did with Bonnie Faulkner of Guns and Butter that goes into more detail about how impact investing connects to digital twins, and mixed reality.

Surely it is twisted to view communities as resource deposits of untapped data, but that is the logic of end-stage capitalism. The infrastructure needed to scale human capital finance profit are ICT (Individual Communication Technology) devices including phones, tablets, and inexpensive computers like chrome books; wearable technologies and biosensors; and 5-6G used in combination with data-dashboards that verify impact data against predictions and success metrics laid out in the terms of the deals. These are all things one finds in recreation centers in the United States now, and given inroads made by the Aspen Institute, Stanford, Harvard and the like, they will very likely become standard issue in the favelas, too. Not because any of it is good for children, but because the children’s data has value, and their compliance has value.

The Metaverse will be populated by compliant avatars. Beyond social impact, the conditioning of the young to cyborg life is going full throttle. Meanwhile for portfolio managers, children’s futures are just tranches of investment – data commodities. It’s only business. — Alison McDowell, Wrench in the Gears (dot) com!

Most people I talk with do not have the bandwidth or wherewithal to understand this next stage, end stage, capitalism into our very souls, which is fascism, inverted totalitarianism, all bunched up in a world of chaos, all drawn and quartered on the backs of us, vis-a-vis all these scams of Build Back Better variety, or UN’s sustainability goals and Universal Basic Income propaganda, and the 4IR and WEF — the fourth industrial revolution is part and parcel of the Great Reset.

This sort of stuff Alison writes about does get under many of our skins, but for the most part, I know so many people who have given up, who think that we all are data mined anyways, that we have all our info in the banking-IRS-DMV-insurance-medical-education superhighway of giving up all agency, anyway, so what’s the big deal we are being tracked, and what’s the big deal that our kids are being watched and what’s wrong with our ovaries and prostates and such being monitored by the Internet of Bodies and Nano-Things when we just have to lean back and enjoy this new world?

And I have harped for 17 years here at Dissident Voice, and decades before, in newsrooms, in classrooms, in homeless shelters, in programs for the disenfranchised, on stage, at conferences for sustainability, on my radio show, elsewhere. I have harped and harped about the false flags, about the overlords drilling into our very being, about more and more of our agency stripped from us daily, not as part of a huge democratically controlled system of community building, power to the people organizing, or we are the 80 Percent movements, but to mine our souls so we are ghosts in their machines.

The agency we have given up was with that passport, all those sick people who pressed my ass at various border control passings. Strip searched and body cavity groped twice. Then, all the shot records needed to go here and go there. All the proof of life in school (Iowa IQ tests), the SAT, the LSAT, all the tests (run by the chose people, millionaires) and all the records of accomplishment, of criminal involvement, all the credit scores and all the car blunders, all of that kept for THEM, the Complext, the Insurance, Real Estate, Finance, FIRE, millionaires who get legislation in THEIR favor passed through the tricks of pimping and prostituting and arm twisting and outright bribery.

Imagine, protests and cops rounding us up, and then court cases, appearances, the hassles, the humiliations. Try it out for size.

How many arguments have I had with MD’s who know squat about nutrition and each time challenged me and my vegetarianism? Me, running 6 miles a day, biking 30 and scrambling underwater and up hills?

How man dirty arguments about “that” history, versus a new and improved revisionist history vital to a population from which to rise up and take on the paymasters, the body snatchers, the mind thieves?

Until we are here, 2022, in a chamber of stupidity, all the dumb and worthless stuff out there, all the racists and white-priviledged perspectives out there pounding it in the heads of unsuspecting youth, K12, TikTok, YouTube, all of the Net and WWW. All the Ivy League and Oxford-trained scum who determine not only our futures, but write our histories, and what they write is almost always semi-dead wrong. Because without the voices of the oppressed, those on the streets, in homeless camps, those suffering poverty and the inflammatory disease of capitalism; i.e., fines-tolls-fees-surcharges-service fees-handling charges-tickets-code violations-late fees-taxes-triple taxations-levies-processing fees-mortgages-ball on payments-PayDay loan rigged systems — without their voices at the forefront, and in the newsrooms, inside schools, and in the publishing houses and the actual process of writing their own stories, then we have the tin ear writers and prognosticators and anthropologists and psychologists, the elite, the highly connected, the bias of the white man and white woman writing about us.

They get it wrong 90 percent of the time!

Now, if this graphic doesn’t run chills up and down your spine, then, you are not following the overlords’ script. Catch up please!

UNSIF 17 UNSDGs

Dig down and listen, watch, read: And it’s not pretty, and it’s not slick, and it’s not all east coast, Ivy League, London Bridges Falling Down stuff.

Finally, I was reading about Charles Bowden last night. Found a piece in Literary Hub, and then went backwards to see one of his talks. Rough guy, but an amazing chronicler of people.”Eulogy for a Visionary: On the Grim Narrative Introspection of Charles Bowden — Leath Tonino Considers His Brief Correspondence with the Author of Murder City”

The piece was written and published December 2021, even though Chuck died in 2014.

Here, a gravel-voiced Chuck talking to the California Commonwealth Club. Mostly about the lies around the war on drugs.  I talked with Chuck years ago, in the 199os, in Juarez and El Paso. I was working on things for the two newspapers, and he was working the narcotraficante stories. That’s a whole other story, of my life maybe some autofiction is due, but for now, here, from the young writer who wanted to interview Chuck in Tucson, but never got the chance since Chuck died at 69 in his sleep. His piece is from the heart, and good.

My first thought: Murder City, solid title.

It was 2011 and I was scraping by in San Francisco, spending hours at the public library, tinkering with writing projects, browsing the stacks during breaks. The name on the book’s spine—Charles Bowden—was familiar yet unfamiliar; essayist Rebecca Solnit, a neighbor with whom I’d recently taken a long walk, had referenced Bowden, telling me that “he could make your skin crawl by describing a Q-tips factory.” Uncertain what that meant, but eager to learn, I slipped Murder City from the shelf, intending to start it when I got home, sip some vodka, have myself a relaxed Friday evening.

Little did I know that Bowden, a veteran investigative reporter from the South-west, author of twenty-five-plus books about polluted rivers, crooks in silk suits, flies swarming over pooled blood, collapsing communities, contract killers, rattlesnakes, and desire, had a slightly different plan. In a 2010 NPR interview, he summarized his approach to crafting stories on the page: “My dream is to invite a reader into a room and pour a nice cup of tea . . . and then nail the door shut.”

So, I end with a dead man, his words not dead, the voice alive on YouTube, and what an interesting conversation it would be with him now, as it would be with Andre Vltchek, with Kevin Zeese,  with David Graeber. So many others, long gone, or just gone. Even Gonzo Thompson.

I have been coming to this city [Ciudad Juárez] for thirteen years, and naturally, I have, like everyone here, an investment in the dead. And the living. Here is a story, and like all stories here, like Miss Sinaloa, it tantalizes and floats in the air, and then vanishes. — From Murder City

More from Bowden, at the Lannan Foundation.

Charles Bowden (1945-2014) was the author of scores of books including A Shadow in the City: Confessions of an Undercover Drug WarriorDown By the River: Drugs, Money, Murder and FamilyJuárez: The Laboratory of our Future; and Blood Orchid: An Unnatural History of America.  In Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields, he presented a devastating chronicle of a city in collapse where not just the police and drug cartel members die as violence infects every level of society. Luís Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway, said “…in Murder City Bowden plunges in head-first, without a parachute. There are moments when the book threatens to burst into flames and burn your hands.” Bowden was a contributing editor for GQ and Mother Jones, and also wrote for Harper’sThe New York Times Book Review, and Aperture. Winner of a 1996 Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction, he lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Post Script — One story is worth a thousand points of stabbing (not lights). Two here to end this missive. If you haven’t figured out how ugly the overlords and then the Eichmann’s are, then, gain, read, live, walk the streets:

The queen and her minimum wage payout, oh those billionaires! The pay for the 20-hour-per-week job is £9.50, or the equivalent of $12.96 an hour. That reflects the U.K.’s new minimum wage, which will rise from £8.91 an hour now to £9.50 an hour in April.

Queen Elizabeth II tours Queen Mother Square on October 27, 2016, in Poundbury, England.

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“I apologize to the person who appeared before me and to our entire community for having failed to meet the high standards that we expect of our judicial officers, and that I expect of myself,” Alexis Krot said in a statement posted on the court’s website.

The statement was dated Tuesday, days after she ordered Burhan Chowdhury to pay $100 for failing to get rid of weeds and other vegetation at the rear of his property. The judge’s apology followed a TV report about the case and criticism about how she treated the man.

“Shameful! The neighbors should not have to look at that. You should be ashamed of yourself,” Krot said during the online hearing. “If I could give you jail time on this, I would.”

Chowdhury, a native of Bangladesh, explained that he was weak with cancer. A son, Shibbir Chowdhury, said he helps his father with the yard but was out of the country at the time last year.

The post Requiem for a People-Centered World Dream first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Twenty Years of Teaching Science in Public School Down the Covid Drain

These are snooping, snitching, massive canceling, censorious times.

I just talked with a friend who is in San Francisco who has been working hard as a science teacher. He has opened up the curriculum, has worked to be in his school’s union and he has just gotten married. That’s 55, now, and he has to step down from teaching since the school teacher mandates for California are going into effect January 4 or thereabouts.

He might be against mandates because a mandate is oppressive, a dead-end to critical thinking, critical engagement. The mandates, the masking, the social distancing, the forced PCR tests, the constant fear-fear-fear. He sees what this has done to teaching, teachers, students and staff.

But the cat is out of the bag, because the National Union and his state union all are on the same sheet of Moderna-Pfizer-Fauci music. For a science nerd, someone who ended up in physics at Harvard, who has undertaken teaching high school students science, including physics, well having a one size fits all formula,  without a scientific robust challenge to any theory, sticks in his craw.

Criminalizing thought, that’s what this Planned Pandemic is about: no pushback. We have talked, and I have been the liberal arts dude, with some notion that critical thinking can only be gained from liberal arts within the system of education. STEM is fine, but not in a vacuum. How we got here, today, how we are products of the history of everything.

Here, Hedges and Lowkey, and I am not sure of Hedges’ position on the vaccination mandates, and Lowkey, well, who knows. But the interview is powerful in that both talk about the prison industrial complex, and about education, and about deep thinking, truly. Literacy beyond being a serf of the ruling class and the warehouse employment class system.

Education as a key component of resistence.  Resistence and pushing back on the corporate, elite paradigms. And some of those elites and oppressive paradigms are in academe/academia.

The discussion of topics in science is also something we talked about, how there are off-limits discussion, and we talked about how teachers in the old days, if they were valuable and valiant and honorable and truly mentors, that they were honored. That students and parents looked at teachers as guides, as facilitators of inquiry, learning. Showing the stepping stones to life-long learning. As elements in the pathway from youth to participatory democracy. Giving an open hand to youth as a place of dissident thinking.

But the pressure from this gentleman’s school district, the union, the honchos, is to vax up, mask up, and booster up. Schools, where the least vulnerable are being forced to take not one, not two, but many shots in this grand experiment of the SARS-MERS-CoV2-DARPA kind.

As if refusing to get a vaccination, when he is healthy, and capable of doing his own health screens at home. Imagine, how much the landscape of the Delta, Omicron and now Omega-crons have changed. How it is now a cold, or where oh where do the variants go? The seesaw, yo-yo, 180-degree turnaround of the science. Follow the science.

And he is not going to be forced to vax. And, his 20 years teaching in public school is now ended. i am not sure how much he gets from the 20 year “pension/retirement,” but he states it’s like collecting his unemployment. He has just taken a job at a very very small school.

Charter school, a tuition free charter school covering 7th and 8th grades. Two hundred students. Mostly African-American and Latinx youth. And, my friend says, right now, there is a don’t ask, don’t tell approach to Corona Madness.

You know, no mask mandates, but option. No tracking of health records. No mandates for jabs.

Yet. This is December 30, 2021. The courts have ruled against workers, and the mandates for businesses in places like WA, OR and CA are about to go wide and far. So, he is now ending his public education career.

Newly married, my friend is thinking that he is only biding his time. That the charter school, private, with parents and youth, BIPOC, and in liberal (sic) San Fran-Oakland area will be subject to the mandates.

He thought he’d be retiring at 62 with a semi-decent pension. He doesn’t want to leave the Bay area because he has to. He knows the clock is ticking. He talks of creating a pod of other like-minded teachers to open up a free school. Tutoring.

He knows that I look at things asymetrically. That the reality is this is a universal vaccination, testing, digital dashboard (health, banking, jobs, education, purchases, etc)  future. You can’t get a job without being a member of the test-shot-record-big data frame. No subsidized housing without test-shot-record-big data. Proof of life, test-shot-record-big data frame, for your college course. This proof of compliance, test-shot-record-big data frame, for getting health insurance. Move this test-shot-record-big data frame to car insurance, even getting a driver’s license. Social seruit? Proof of this test-shot-record-big data cohersion compliance.

And, what if these smart students ask my smart friend, their teacher, about virus research, about big tech, about the politics of climate change, and, well, about other things that might go contrary to the test-shot-record-big data frame of things? Questioning any number of paradigms and theories and cultural expectations and prejudices and blind spots? And, these youth, many want to know what they should do after high school. How many will go from a charter school to a public school? How will they navigate mandates? And, what about what to major in if they go to college? Would all those years of school, from age 6 to 22, or to 24 or 28, be worth it? What is the value of things now and what about the future?

We talked about how young people this age want answers, want leaders, want direction, demand options and want to work with alternative solutions to today’s problems, and we know today’s supposed solutions will be problems of tomorrow.

Even questions about climate change, globalization, and where this CoV2 came from. Lab experiment gone bad? Intentional outbreak? These youth are smart.

Elaine DeWar

These kids want answers, and they want to rumble in the jungle, truly, with smart teachers willing to take risks, willing to lead.  Yet, we are in sniping times. We are in superficial thinking times. Black v. White times.

So where oh where do we go with teaching, and now, Charter Schools, and that is one messed up economic and education and investment model in most cases — Dissident Voice, Shawgi Tell!

He talked about getting farther away from urban centers, into red counties, red states, as a way to insulate himself from the inevitable. He is a Marxist, and that has been his huge disappointment — how the left has abandoned questioning authority, science, elites, agendas, mass media, propaganda, prevailing commercial interests, and more!

Of course, we could be dealing with Ayotzinapa, and the Mexican oligarchs and narcos and others hating these rural normal colleges where young people go to learn how to teach in order to teach youth and communities  how to stand up to the powers. Resistance. Worker rights. Land rights!

Mexico: Documentary looks at lives of 43 missing Ayotzinapa students — A documentary will premier this week at Mexico City’s Cineteca Nacional on the lives of the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students. Filmmaker Rafael Rangel says that the full-length documentary, “A Day in Ayotzinapa 43”, featuring first hand accounts of the events and interviews with classmates and family members of the disappeared students, aims to boost awareness of another reality of Mexico that often remains hidden from the broader public.

The petition, which already has more than 1,650 signatures, aims to ensure that the "truth prevails" and that respect is shown to the "memory of the fallen, the injured ... the parents, mothers, sons, daughters, wives, brothers, sisters, friends, colleagues, and for all those who were directly or indirectly affected by that tragic night." EFE/File

So it goes — we can always find other people’s realities much more dramatically harsh than our own. And, teachers get these shots for other things, and, well, there is so much swirling around about how the bat virus got to this highly infectious state, who had the blood and feces of people who got infected almost a decade ago, who was funding the gain of function research. So so much, here, rightly set straight into a world of skepticism.

But, all of them in on it — the vaccination paranoia is real, and the stories, well, we are in a time of shut down, zero critical thinking, echo chambers, and this is a military propaganda campaign.

How many more shots are we to take now that we are in this Virus World?

Here, Sonia Shah, who I interviewed several times in person in Spokane on the stage and in my radio studio. We are talking January 2020. This is a time capsule moment, since so much has changed in two years:

The number of coronavirus cases has overtaken that of the 2003 SARS epidemic. Officials and scientists are racing to track the path of the virus and develop a vaccine. Twenty-two countries have reported finding people sickened with the virus. The WHO has announced a “public health emergency of international concern.”

We’re in a relatively new era of infectious disease outbreak, said prominent science journalist Sonia Shah. Diseases are sequenced faster and tracked more accurately than ever before – but they also arise more frequently, as humankind and nature collide often and with greater intensity.

Shah knows her way around infectious disease outbreaks – along with the public health, epidemiology, and social consequences surrounding them. She’s the author of the 2010 book The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years, along with 2016’s Pandemic: Tracking Contagions from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond.

She sat down with Direct Relief this week to talk about the likely scope of the coronavirus outbreak, the public health response – and the potential impacts.

Direct Relief: Your book, Pandemic, is a look at the major contagious disease outbreaks of modern history, including Ebola, MERS, and SARS. Considering what you’ve seen so far, how does the new coronavirus outbreak compare to other infectious disease outbreaks – in transmission, scope, or public perception?

Shah: It’s obviously one that’s causing a lot of alarm, and there’s been a very vigorous public health response, so in some ways that makes it unusual. There are a lot of outbreaks of a disease where you don’t see a big public health response, so I think that’s actually a positive.

China is doing a lot to contain it. And I think you can debate whether all those measures are worthwhile or not, but there’s no lack of attention to this outbreak.

Direct Relief: How are the epidemics of modern history different from those of, say, the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic? Why are there more frequent disease outbreaks, and what are the challenges of fighting them in the modern world?

Shah: About 60% of these new pathogens that we’re seeing, that have come out in the last 50 years or so, they derive from the bodies of animals. About 70% of those derive from the bodies of wild animals.

And that’s because people and wild animals are coming into novel, intimate contact. That allows the microbes that live in their bodies to cross over into our bodies.

Ebola, Zika virus, SARS, West Nile virus – there are any number of novel pathogens that have emerged in the past few decades that come from the bodies of animals.

Animals and people are coming into new kinds of contact because of a variety of reasons, the biggest one being that we are essentially destroying so much wildlife habitat.

What that means is a lot of animals are going extinct, but the ones that remain have to crowd into ever-tightening little patches of habitat that we leave for them. That’s more frequently not in some distant, intact forest. Instead, it’s our farms and gardens and our towns and cities.

Direct Relief: Are we better at fighting infectious disease over the past couple of decades?

Shah: I think there are some ways in which we’re getting better. The fact that we had a diagnostic for this new coronavirus so fast, that’s amazing, and that means that you can track it.

I think in terms of scientific collaboration, discovery of how these pathogens work, diagnostics, and genotyping, those are happening a lot faster now as the technology gets better. We just have so much more knowledge.

But then I think there are valid questions to be asked about whether we’re using that knowledge effectively. Just because we can know that this novel coronavirus is causing this pneumonia – not some other pathogen – is that actually helping us to contain it, or not?

I don’t think we know the answer to that question yet, and we won’t for some years, until after this whole thing blows over and we have time to analyze how it went down.

We saw this in Haiti with the cholera outbreak after the [2010] earthquake. Cell phones were relatively new at the time and it was possible for people to map how cholera was spreading just based on cell phone data.

They could see, “OK, it’s coming down this road, it’s going to be going down this trucking route, it’s probably going to lead to this village in the next week or two.”

All of that…was amazing, scientifically, but it didn’t actually help anyone prevent cholera from breaking out. We knew it was coming, but it happened anyway.

Direct Relief: Why do you think this virus has inspired such a media frenzy and such widespread fear?

Shah: I think there are some good reasons. One is that it’s similar to SARS – it’s a coronavirus, like SARS – and we know that SARS was very virulent and it spread pretty well and it got pretty far. It got to dozens of countries really rapidly and killed 800 people, and this virus is in the same family.

That said, it’s a pretty big family. There are some coronaviruses that are very mild and some that are very virulent, so just the fact that it’s in that family of viruses doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to kill a lot of people.

And I think the other good reason is that it’s respiratory. There isn’t a lot of evidence that we know how to control the spread of respiratory illnesses. Seasonal flus every year take out hundreds of thousands of people.

We try. We have vaccines, we tell people to wash their hands, we tell people to stay home when they’re sick. Do they make any headway at all? It’s hard to know. With the huge scale of flu every year, it would be hard to argue that those measures actually work.

Direct Relief: If coronavirus continues to spread into a pandemic on the level of SARS, what are the likely long-term economic and social impacts?

Shah: There’s going to be huge economic fallout from this. It’s only just starting. SARS had a huge economic impact, and that wasn’t nearly as widespread as this thing will probably be. China is clamping down on its trade routes and travel routes. How do you function in a global economy without China? We don’t know.

All of these outbreaks, when they go global, just show us again and again how interconnected we are, and how much we really rely on each other for all of our essential services.

Direct Relief: Why do you say it’s going to be bigger than SARS?

Shah: Well, because it’s only just starting. New outbreaks are being seeded right now. We know 5 million people left Wuhan before the travel restrictions were put into place, and that’s a lot of people.

Each of those people could seed new outbreaks if they are carrying the virus, and I think we’re seeing the first signs of that.

It appears to be carried by people who are non-symptomatic. That means it’s going to be really hard to contain it. I don’t think we’re anywhere near the peak or end of this thing. If it goes on on the current trajectory it’s going to be bigger than SARS.

[The virus is] not necessarily more deadly. It always seems more virulent at the beginning, because all you see are the worst cases. So as we get more information, it will probably become clear to us that it’s less virulent than we originally thought, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a huge toll.

Because if something’s really catchy, even if it’s only slightly more deadly than a regular flu or respiratory illness that we’re used to, a lot of people can get sick and can die.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Science, and science journalists. Interesting — “The Coronavirus in Context: A Q&A with Sonia Shah, Author of Pandemic

 

Sonia Shah delivering a TEDMED talk. (Photo courtesy of Sonia Shah)

How does my friend field questions from youth who are on the Internet, who are on social media and the dark web and so on? How does the world shape up with all these curriculum controls, when at times, our times seem chaotic, and fearful? Youth are directionless. Attacked by Democrats and Republicans.

Biggest issues with youth is “the GAD” — generalized anxiety disorder. Big problems with the dirty water, dirty air, polluted food, contaminated oceans and repulsive airwaves and entertainment rackets.

My friend is on his journey, and he is fighting for his small family’s survival. This is not what many of us thought would play out in our lives in our 50s and 60s, but in reality Western Lives/Western Culture/Western Privilege has come at a price — all those billions of people we have stolen futures from. Capitalism. Rapacious consumerism. Rapacious tourism. Wars, war machines, subjugation by proxy.

From 10 years ago — Haeder and Real Change News, Seattle!

Drawing on Plato and Malcom X, West said the death process is part of real education — paideia — a concept developed by Socrates that means deep, critical thinking.

It is the antithesis of contemporary culture: “The problem in American society is we are a culture of death-denying, death-dodging… a joyless culture where pleasure-seeking replaces what it means to be human.”

Fresh from a trip to Occupy Seattle earlier in the day, West praised the movement, which he said represents “a deep democratic awakening where people are finding the courage to find their voice.”

Greed has corroded society, he said.

“Market moralities and mentalities — fueled by economic imperatives to make a profit at nearly any cost — yield unprecedented levels of loneliness, isolation and sadness. Our public life lies in shambles, shot through with icy cynicism and paralyzing pessimism. To put it bluntly, beneath the record-breaking stock markets on Wall Street and bipartisan budget-balancing deals in the White House, lurk ominous clouds of despair across this nation.”

West said that in this age of fear, economic instability and employment challenges, young people must learn “to have a love of wisdom, love of your neighbors and love of justice.”

Such love, embedded in our cultural and social justice traditions, is powerful, he said.

“That Coltrane love, that subversive love. It’s there in the Occupy Wall Street movement. … When it’s organized and mobilized, love is a threat.”

Alas, privatizing schools, for investment and control, especially children, BIPOC, to militarize and technotize their minds, is the goal. Check out this site: Network for Public Education!

And, here, again, Alison McDowell, on monetizing poverty, struggle, students, for not just social control, but Internet of Bodies control.

The post Twenty Years of Teaching Science in Public School Down the Covid Drain first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Afghan Emirate’s Challenge to the World

What happened to news about Afghanistan? After their spectacular sweep of the entire country and overnight victory, there is no news now. And Taliban websites remain closed. Just human interest stuff about traitors/ cowards/ whatevers fleeing to the US or wherever. A convening of Afghan women parliamentarians, holding a mock Afghan parliament in exile (a Greek refugee camp). The hysteria about girls schooling ignores the well-documented but little known fact that almost all the schools (80%) that were supposedly educating girls throughout the country were non-functioning or even non-existent. And those teachers who were actually being paid were just pocketing the money (much of it first taken by local officials, who in turn funneled a portion to warlords).

In fact, all schooling was mostly nonexistent, even for boys, so Afghanistan is actually less literate now, thanks to the US invasion, than it was 20 years ago, and even less literate than in 1978, the last year of peace, when women were going to university and those in Kabul were hijab-less, let alone birqa-less.

Of course, the fault lies entirely with the nasty Taliban, though they didn’t even exist before 1978. War is nasty business and it’s always the other guy’s fault. And when you lose, you just move on, try to forget. So what if you left the scene-of-the-crime a basket case? Where is Afghanistan anyway?

The US has a standard operating procedure: bomb the enemy to smithereens. If that doesn’t work, bomb some more. Then find some civilians who have been riddled with your bullets, fly them to Bagram air base for (the best) emergency treatment, try and fit the body pieces together, and presto! a human interest story highlighting how noble you are, how scientific. If that still doesn’t work and you’re getting flak at home, then cut your losses, pull out, and move on to the next enemy (all the time, boycotting the old enemy so it can’t threaten you). Eventually, as you are the world’s sole superpower now, the enemy will come begging and you can relent a bit.

That was how Vietnam panned out, though it took 20 years to get around to recognizing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It’s a bizarre kind of win-win: even if you lose, the target is reduced to a failed state which is a model for no one, rather a warning for anyone contemplating trying to get out of US clutches. If you win, you can decide just how prosperous the new client state will be. Japan, Korea, and of course Germany got the VIP treatment. (WWI lesson learned: don’t ‘fail’ a big, powerful state). Vietnam managed to recover, and since it is happy to join the US-controlled world economy, it has been allowed to prosper. Reparations are never an option.

That these horrendous wars never seem to bring any peace, let along goodwill, doesn’t faze US ‘planners’. Bombing is easy, and cheap (given that you have a military-industrial complex that is the very engine of your prosperity). It’s the new US norm. ‘It’s what we do.’

The complementary policy to these senseless, horrible wars is the fanatical anti-ideology, which since the days of McCarthyism, seems to run in American veins. There is only one way to live, the American way, and any other option is by definition wrong, mistaken, evil. In the 1950s anti-communism poisoned US culture, and led the US down the proverbial rabbit-hole, destroying any socialist revolution on the globe before it could catch hold, cutting off the one path that can save our civilization from its current road to oblivion. Afghanistan provided the perfect battlefront for the latest US obsession (far away, mostly desert and mountains, good for target practice).

Oh, almost forgot. Lie to enemy, even when they want to surrender. Most Taliban wanted to give up after the US invaded. They weren’t idiots. After a blanket offer by top Taliban leaders to resign was rejected, individuals tried to broker a deal for themselves. After a dozen agreed and were promptly arrested and sent to Bagram, Guantanamo or just tortured and killed, others realized their only future lay in resistance, so they regrouped, some in Pakistan, most just locally where they lived. Sleeper cells were activated and by 2003, as the corruption and murder/ torture by Afghan yes-men blossomed, the rural population started to support the Taliban. Soon half of Afghanistan was being administered by them, providing justice, collecting taxes.

So why no interest in what’s happening now that the US is gone? And was the US project doomed from the start? Were all those trillions of dollars, 100,000s of lives for naught? Is there a Rosebud?

Taliban ‘won’ in 2002

The best way to answer that and what’s happening now is to see what happened under US occupation, but from the Afghan point of view. The Taliban have been governing most of Afghanistan for 15 years now. Anand Gopal’s No Good Men among the Living: America, the Taliban and the War through Afghan Eyes (2014) does this. He follows the lives of a few local heroes from 2001 to 2010, and presents events through their eyes.

The answer starts in the dying days of the communist government, which had started out much like the US occupation, brokering peace with local warlords, having scaled back its development projects as things deteriorated. It held on, annoying the US, but then the peace was signed in 1988, ending arming of both sides–which US promptly ignored. For 3 years after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the CIA kept weapons and money flowing to the mujahedeen, working to block any peace deal between them and the Soviet-funded government. When President Najibullah ran out of arms, the mujahideen took over. That was Bush I’s thank you to Gorbachev for dismantling the Soviet Union. (Lying is ok if you’re lying to the enemy.)

When 9/11 came, Akbar Gul was already a star Taliban fighter, battling the Northern Alliance to the end. When the US invaded, he quit and tried exile, but after being robbed several times in Karachi, he returned to his native Wardak, learned how to fix mobile phones by trial and error, becoming well known as ‘mobile-phone Akbar’. But the US offered no amnesty for those who wanted to leave the movement, and the thieving and violence of the police and Karzai’s stooges, who now were in power and seeking revenge or just riches, became intolerable. A phone call from an old comrade to ‘get to work again’ was heeded.

Between 2003 and 2010, he was the commander in Wardak, just southwest of Kabul, responsible for assassinating government officials, kidnapping policemen, deploying suicide bombs, killing US soldiers. He even hijacked two tanker trailers full of gas, paid off the drivers, bought arms on the black market, and divided the booty among his team. When interviewed the last time in 2010, he was disillusioned with the stressful life and the increasing intra-Taliban squabbles and one-up-manship. But it was also clear that the US had lost almost from the start with its mania to wipe out the enemy, just as it failed in Iraq to wipe out the Baathists, merely turning them into insurgents.

Gopal describes the background to this. The lure of the Taliban in the 1990s held much the same allure by 2003, as ‘a home for unsettled youths,’ repulsed by the chaos their country was descending into. It provided ‘a sense of purpose, a communion with something greater.’ Akbar recalled receiving some instruction once on bomb-making from an Arab, presumably al-Qaeda, but otherwise had no interest in international politics, was barely able to read and write. He resented Mullah Omar’s support for bin Laden and his call to martyrdom following 9/11. Instead, he disbanded his men: ‘Go home. Don’t contact each other.’

How close the US was to victory! If only they had left with their al-Qaeda spoils in 2002, amnestied the Taliban, with a solemn promise not to promote terrorism.

Heela Achakzai graduated from university in the 1990, married her suitor Musqinyar, an idealist but a secular one, a communist. Though not interested in politics, Heela liked the communists for providing services and freedom for women, but as the Soviet troops retreated, the writing was on the wall, and they fled Kabul to Musqinyar’s family home in Khas Uruzgan. Although she was now effectively under house-arrest, complete with burqa and meshr (male guardian), she liked the Taliban for putting an end to tribal practices, including using females to settle feuds. And they didn’t kill her communist husband either. They lived in safety.

When 9/11 brought US soldiers and a return of anti-Taliban warlords, her village descended into violence. Her husband was assassinated by a Karzai crony, local warlord Jan Muhammad Khan. She would have had to marry her brother-in-law as second wife, give him her home and possessions. No way. Her story is rivetting. She fled to the US base in Tirin kot, eventually worked promoting elections and and as a midwife. One villager elder told her that while this type of work wasn’t good for ‘our women, the the villages’ it was fitting for ‘educated women like you.’

Heela also provided medicines to Taliban when they asked, thinking ‘Given Jan Muhammad and Commander Zahir and the others on the government’s side, why wouldn’t they fight?’ Then she was nominated and became a senator, having quietly worked with the Americans. (I presume she was evacuated in August, though she could well return. She is no traitor-coward.)

Jan Muhammad Khan, Khas Uruzban warlord, plotted with Karzai after the Taliban came to power in 1996, and was about to be executed when 9/11 happened. He was appointed governor of Khas Uruzgan and moved quickly to amass wealth, feeding the US intelligence about Taliban, all of it fabricated (there were no Taliban), used to target his rivals. The US was blind to this but the people of Khas Uruzgan weren’t, and the US attempt to rebuild Afghanistan ended up only enriching the new US-backed elite, and turning most people against the Americans.

As the Taliban were the only other choice, they gained support. US backers like Jan created nonexistent Taliban to keep the dollars and arms coming. For a country that prides itself as a model to be emulated around the world, it is hard to understand how the US could be so easily hoodwinked for 20 years at a cost of trillions, almost all of it wasted, enriching a handful of corrupt cronies, creating Potemkin villages and spiriting ill-gotten gains abroad. And, in a final irony, warlords like Jan spirited out at the last minute (Jan was assassinated in 2011) along with girls football teams and other Afghans who trusted the US.

Gopal concludes: the Americans were not fighting a war on terror at all, they were simply targeting those who were not part of the Sherzi clan [another warlord, also later killed by a bomb] and Karzi networks.

US troops fueled insurgency, ISIS

Interestingly, Karzai did not flee in August, as did his successor, Ghani, who fled to Dubai with several suitcases full of cash. Karzai was never an easy ally for the US. During an interview with Voice of America in 2017, he claimed that ISIS in Afghanistan is a tool for the US, that he does not differentiate at all between ISIS and the US. In May 2021, he told Der Spiegel he sympathized with the Taliban, and saw them as “victims of foreign forces” and said that Afghans were being used to be ‘each against the other.’ Clearly hedging his bets.

There were more than a few mass killings by crazed US soldiers, recalling My Lai. Gopal documents the case of Master Sergeant Anthony Pryor, awarded a Silver Star for his cold blooded murder of innocents in Khas Uruzgan. A Google search only turns up glowing reports of Pryor’s heroism, but the truth is he murdered 21 pro-American leaders and workers (which the US admitted), with 26 taken prisoner. Which is not much better than a bullet in the head.

That US troops meant more terrorism, killing, was explained by Eckart Schiewek, political advisor with the UN mission. The same jockeying for power by warlords Dostum and Atta in the north never boiled over. ‘There were no American troops. You couldn’t call on soldiers to settle your feuds.’ By allying with various warlords outside the puppet government, the US undermined the puppet, syphoning funds to pay endless bribes to warlords, and created the petri dish for feuds over who’s closest to the US. A truly vile scenario, especially for a people as fiercely proud and independent as Afghans. By 2005 US fatalities doubled from previous year, and kidnappings and assassinations came in record numbers. Already it was too late. As for poppy elimination, that too became a program to wipe out other tribes’ competition and keep prices high.

Gopal concludes that there were almost no Taliban or ISIS among Guantanamo prisoners, that most prisoners there and in Afghanistan were casualties of warlord-governors’ phony intelligence whose sole purpose was power and money.

Real news

Considering the general news blackout or deliberately anti-Taliban stories, we must look to events during the occupation through the eyes of such as Gopal, Jere Van Dyk, and memoirs of Taliban leaders, and the role of Islam itself in shaping Afghanistan’s future, as this is the bedrock of Taliban thinking and action. To not only respect Islam, but welcome it. “The Taliban was now a part of our family,” said Bowe Bergdahl’s mother Jani, as she waited stoically for news of her hostage son (eventually released). She was just stating a fact and dealing with it, not rejecting or despising it.

First, ‘jurisprudence is part of the Taliban’s DNA, even to a fault,’ as that is their training (12 years for judges). Governing means providing justice. In a village under Taliban control for two years, the malek (mayor) told Gopal that ‘in that time crime had vanished.’ Taliban ‘police’ had captured a known child molester and turned him over to Islamic justice, with ‘judges tarring his face, parading him around Chak, and forcing him to apologize publicly. If caught again, he would be executed.’ People preferred Taliban austerity to government and foreign impunity.

Real world political and economic troubles are pushed aside, or dealt with cavalierly, especially anything smacking of western decadence, as the road to hell is paved with seductive music, images, foods, drugs, etc. So that is what’s happening now. Cleaning the slate, exorcizing society of the demons who latched on to the rich heathen invaders. The Taliban are busy dismantling the US puppet infrastructure, finding warlords and bringing some justice to villages and cities.

Times have changed. Whereas in 1999, it was still possible to smash TVs and radios, keep women off the air, it no longer is. And whereas Afghanistan’s fabulous musical traditions and non-Islamic culture were repressed, destroyed, they are not pushing this any longer. Gopal listened to the Taliban insurgents’ music, watched tapes of Taliban fights with the invader.

All Taliban websites were banned in August, but Deputy Minister for information and broadcasting of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan-IEA Zabihullah Mujahid now has a twitter account. The most recent messages (with lots of insulting comments):

  1. West should not impose its civilization on us, we have an Islamic civilization, and the system of Islamic society that already exists.
  2. Islamic Emirate announces complete ban on the use of foreign currency in the country.
  3. ISIS attack on 400-bed hospital fails, 4 ISIS killed.

There is another twitter account the Emirate, even charging westerners with a Trumpian ‘fake news’ for suggesting ISIS will grow again if sanctions continue. Voice of Jihad was the Taliban’s main English language site till it was closed. Googling Voice of Jihad Islamic Emiirate of Afghanistan, I found
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/Islamic-Emirate-of-Afghanistan which includes more unfiltered news of Taliban. Otherwise Al-Jazeera is the best source.

So what about girls’ education? With no jobs waiting for high school graduates, villagers could only see potential ruin in allowing their daughters outside. Which is the cart and which the horse?

It is wrong to think the Taliban are anti-education. They are ‘students,’ and the highest calling is teaching and administering justice. But they don’t want the US determining what is taught and to whom. They follow sharia, not tribal law, which is much better for women.

The moral of this story?

Justice is the main thing a government can provide, but for Muslims, it means a strict, god-fearing government. Iran, though Shia, had an Islamic revolution too, and as such is in US crosshairs, much like Afghanistan. It has survived 40 years of US-Israel bullying and worse, so its experience will be important for the Taliban. It is big on the death penalty, and the Emirate of Afghanistan most likely will be too. Women must wear scarves but study freely. Music and the arts are low key. This is most likely how Afghanistan will develop.

The US can’t accept that Islamic justice is a worthwhile alternative to our very flawed systems of justice. Just as it couldn’t accept the truth that it’s better to be poor in a socialist society than in a capitalist one. Just ask 70% of Russians and the other orphaned ex-Soviets. The 1% needs to be brought under control, tamed to meet society’s pressing needs. And to take away the unease, resentment that eats away at society where the super rich flaunt their wealth and despise the common folk. This is not an easy task. The Taliban have stated recently there should be limits on wealth. They understand the truth behind the Lorenz curve.

Gopal recounts meeting a one-eyed malek of a village, Garloch, that no longer existed. ‘Nothing you see here in this country belongs to us. You see that road out there? That’s not ours. Everything is borrowed and everything can be taken back.’ Gopal was intrigued by this Sufi wisdom. Garloch’s malek explained the vagaries of existence: First came the Taliban, then US soldiers, then planes killing the wrong suspect, then Taliban, then … until the villagers gave up and left, leaving the old mayor living under a plastic sheet in a gully. His message to Obama: ‘I don’t give a shit about your roads and schools! I want safety for my family.’

Now comes the hard part. While Talib mullahs are busy righting wrongs and bringing a harsh but just communal peace, factions within the Taliban are also marshalling their forces, vying for power, not to mention the many collaborators, dreaming of another invasion. The revolutionary honeymoon is soon over, and the US continues to sit on Afghanistan’s meagre reserves, thinking about giving them away to 9/11 and other victims.

Which of course would leave the Taliban nothing to feed Afghans, who will turn again to poppies to survive, which will lead to more US-led boycotting, etc.

What’s happening now in Afghanistan demands our attention. And not the CNN version of events. It is heartening that such hardy, devoted souls like Gopal really care what happens to Afghans, and truly want the best for them. I want to know what has happened to the villains and heroes of his tale of life behind the lines. Sadly, our age of internet is letting us down on. I can only wish the Taliban well.

*****

Warlord Zaman: This whole land is filled with thieves and liars. This is what you Americans have made. I know this game. I went to the Americans and said, ‘I can find bin Laden. Give me $5m and I’ll bring you his head. Then I went to al-Qaeda and told them, ‘Give me $1m or I’ll turn you over the the Americans.’ So they gave me $1m, and I convinced the Americans to stop the bombing for a little while. I told them we could use the time to find Osama, but really it was so those Arab dogs could escape to Pakistan. Then I went to the ISI and said, ‘Give me $500,000 and I’ll give you al-Qaeda.’ They pulled a gun and told me to get out of their face. You see, they don’t play this game. You can’t buy them. Gopal, p148.

The post Afghan Emirate’s Challenge to the World first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Russia-China-Iran Alliance

NATO, the U.S. Government, and all other “neoconservatives” (adherents to Cecil Rhodes’s 1877 plan for a global U.S. empire that would be run, behind the scenes, by the UK’s aristocracy) have been treating Russia, China, and Iran, as being their enemies. In consequence of this: Russia, China, and Iran, have increasingly been coordinating their international policies, so as to assist each other in withstanding (defending themselves against) the neoconservative efforts that are designed to conquer them, and to add them to the existing U.S. empire.

The U.S. empire is the largest empire that the world has ever known, and has approximately 800 military bases in foreign countries, all over the planet. This is historically unprecedented. But it is — like all historical phenomena — only temporary. However, its many propagandists — not only in the news-media but also in academia and NGOs (and Rhodesists predominate in all of those categories) — allege the U.S. (or UK-U.S.) empire to be permanent, or else to be necessary to become permanent. Many suppose that “the rise and fall of the great powers” won’t necessarily relate to the United States (i.e., that America will never fall from being the world’s dominant power); and, so, they believe that the “American Century” (which has experienced so many disastrous wars, and so many unnecessary wars) will — and even should — last indefinitely, into the future. That viewpoint is the permanent-warfare-for-permanent-peace lie: it asserts that a world in which America’s billionaires, who control the U.S. Government (and the American public now have no influence over their Government whatsoever), should continue their ‘rules-based international order’, in which these billionaires determine what ‘rules’ will be enforced, and what ‘rules’ won’t be enforced; and in which ‘rules-based international order’ international laws (coming from the United Nations) will be enforced ONLY if and when America’s billionaires want them to be enforced. The ideal, to them, is an all-encompassing global dictatorship, by U.S. (& UK) billionaires.

In other words: Russia, China, Iran, and also any nation (such as Syria, Belarus, and Venezuela) whose current government relies upon any of those three for international support, don’t want to become part of the U.S. empire. They don’t want to be occupied by U.S. troops. They don’t want their national security to depend upon serving the interests of America’s billionaires. Basically, they want the U.N. to possess the powers that its inventor, FDR, had intended it to have, which were that it would serve as the one-and-only international democratic republic of nation-states; and, as such, would have the exclusive ultimate control over all nuclear and other strategic weapons and military forces, so that there will be no World War III. Whereas Rhodes wanted a global dictatorship by a unified U.S./UK aristocracy, their ‘enemies’ want a global democracy of nations (FDR named it “the United Nations”), ruling over all international relations, and being settled in U.N.-authorized courts, having jurisdiction over all international-relations issues.

In other words: they don’t want an invasion such as the U.S. and its allies (vassal nations) did against Iraq in 2003 — an invasion without an okay from the U.N Security Council and from the General Assembly — to be able to be perpetrated, ever again, against ANY nation. They want aggressive wars (which U.S.-and-allied aristocracies ‘justify’ as being necessary to impose ‘democracy’ and ‘humanitarian values’ on other nations) to be treated as being the international war-crimes that they actually are.

However, under the prevailing reality — that international law is whatever the U.S. regime says it is — a U.N.-controlled international order doesn’t exist, and maybe never will exist; and, so, the U.S. regime’s declared (or anointed, or appointed) ‘enemies’ (because none of them actually is their enemy — none wants to be in conflict against the U.S.) propose instead a “multilateral order” to replace “the American hegemony” or global dictatorship by the U.S. regime. They want, instead, an international democracy, like FDR had hoped for, but they are willing to settle merely for international pluralism — and this is (and always has been) called “an international balance of powers.” They recognize that this (balance of powers) had produced WW I, and WW II, but — ever since the moment when Harry S. Truman, on 25 July 1945, finally ditched FDR’s intentions for the U.N., and replaced that by the Cold War for the U.S. to conquer the whole world (and then formed NATO, which FDR would have opposed doing) — they want to go back (at least temporarily) to the pre-WW-I balance-of-powers system, instead of to capitulate to the international hegemon (America’s billionaires, the controller of the U.S. empire).

So: the Russia-China-Iran alliance isn’t against the U.S. regime, but is merely doing whatever they can to avoid being conquered by it. They want to retain their national sovereignty, and ultimately to become nation-states within a replacement-U.N. which will be designed to fit FDR’s pattern, instead of Truman’s pattern (the current, powerless, talking-forum U.N.).

Take, as an example of what they fear, not only the case of the Rhodesists’ 2003 invasion of Iraq, but the case of America’s coup against Ukraine, which Obama had started planning by no later than 2011, and which by 2013 entailed his scheme to grab Russia’s top naval base, in Crimea (which had been part of Russia from 1783 to 1954 when the Soviet leader transferred Crimea to Ukraine). Obama installed nazis to run his Ukrainian regime, and he hoped ultimately for Ukraine to be accepted into NATO so that U.S. missiles could be installed there on Russia’s border only a five-minute missile-flight away from Moscow. Alexander Mercouris at The Duran headlined on 4 July 2021, “Ukraine’s Black Sea NATO dilemma”, and he clearly explained the coordinated U.S.-and-allied aggression that was involved in the U.S.-and-allied maneuvering. U.S.-and-allied ‘news’-media hid it. Also that day, Mercouris bannered “In Joint Statement Russia-China Agree Deeper Alliance, Balancing US And NATO,” and he reported a historic agreement between those two countries, to coordinate together to create the very EurAsian superpower that Rhodesists have always dreaded. It’s exactly the opposite of what the U.S.-and-allied regimes had been aiming for. But it was the response to the Rhodesists’ insatiable imperialism.

To drive both Russia and China into a corner was to drive them together. They went into the same corner, not different corners. They were coming together, not coming apart. And Iran made it a threesome.

So: that’s how the U.S. regime’s appointed ‘enemies’ have come to join together into a virtual counterpart to America’s NATO alliance of pro-imperialist nations. It’s a defensive alliance, against an aggressive alliance — an anti-imperialist alliance, against a pro-imperialist alliance. America’s insatiably imperialistic foreign policies have, essentially, forced its ‘enemies’ to form their own alliance. It’s the only way for them to survive as independent nations, given Truman’s abortion of FDR’s plan for the U.N. — the replacement, by Truman of that, by the U.N. that became created, after FDR died on 12 April 1945.

The post The Russia-China-Iran Alliance first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What are the Prospects for Peace?

Events are unfolding at a quickening pace. Facing an alarming escalation in tensions around the world, we are looking to our most respected and renowned thought leaders for an honest assessment of both U.S. foreign and military policy to offer their most current thoughts and insights. We know they have some ideas for improving the prospects for peace.

Dan Kovalik

Dan Kovalik is the author of critically-acclaimed No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using ‘Humanitarian’ Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic InterestsThe Plot to Scapegoat RussiaThe Plot to Attack IranThe Plot to Control the World, and The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela. He has been a labor and human rights lawyer since graduating from Columbia Law School in 1993. He has represented plaintiffs in ATS cases arising out of egregious human rights abuses in Colombia. He received the David W. Mills Mentoring Fellowship from Stanford Law School, and has lectured throughout the world. His responses below are exactly as he provided.

The questions focus on the realities of the international power struggle unfolding in real time. They directly address the role of the U.S. in the escalating tensions and its capacity to reduce them. We also probe the role of everyday citizens in affecting the relationship the U.S. now has and will have with the rest of the world community.

Here is what Dan Kovalik had to say.

*****

John Rachel: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has recently put the hands of the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds before midnight. Midnight means all out war, probably nuclear holocaust. This is the closest it has every been. Do you agree with this dire assessment?

Dan Kovalik: Yes, of course. First of all, after the tragic collapse of the USSR and the assumption of the Soviet Union’s weaponry by the respective, numerous former Soviet Republics, the chances for accidental nuclear war increased greatly.The West recognized this immediately and had offered to help the various Republics secure these weapons, but of course quickly reneged on this promise, making the world ever more dangerous. In addition, the US over the years has taken a more and more aggressive policy towards Russia and China – both nuclear states of course – intensifying the encirclement of Russia through NATO and increasing its provocative acts against China in the South China Sea.  The chances for a Third World War are greater than ever, and with this the risk of accidental or intentional nuclear war.  Finally, we have the elephant in the Middle Eastern living room – Israel – which is a nuclear power without declaring itself to be one. The chances that Israel will file a nuclear weapon to protect its advantage in the Middle East seems a real possibility, especially as the world is beginning to awaken to and reject Israel’s cruel domination of the Palestinian Territories. Israel is left with nothing but brute force to carry out its will, and its nuclear weapons are the greatest fount of this force.

JR: The U.S. always portrays itself as the greatest force on the planet for peace, justice, human rights, racial equality, etc. Polls tell us that most other nations actually regard the U.S. as the greatest threat to stability. What in your view is the truth here?

DK: This is undoubtedly true as international polls acknowledge and as Martin Luther King opined years ago with his famous statement that “the US is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”Jimmy Carter has recently stated this truth, proclaiming that the US is the most war-like nation in the history of the world.  The US has more military bases around the world by far than any Empire in history, with over 800 such bases around the globe. Meanwhile, the US is at war in numerous theatres in one way or another. In total, the US is waging wars, mostly through Special Forces and private contractors, in at least 80 different countries.  And, these wars, carried out exclusively in the developing world of the Global South, are invariably being waged against people of color to deprive them of their right of self-determination and their right to manage and benefit from their own natural resources. These conflicts are making the targeted countries less safe, less stable and less prosperous, and that is the goal. The US has decided that the best way to open up the world to maximum exploitation is by sowing chaos and destroying states abroad in order to take away any resistance to the ability of US corporations to extract valuable resources and exploit labor without limit.  The US is also engaging in such operations through proxies when it is not doing it directly.  One of the more notable examples of this is the DRC where the US has been using African proxies (especially Rwanda and Uganda) to plunder that country beyond recognition.  The result is over 6 million dead – a Holocaustal figure which highlights just how brutal the US Empire has become.

JR: Here’s a chicken-or-egg question: The U.S. accuses both Russia and China of rapidly expanding their military capabilities, claiming its own posturing and increase in weaponry is a response to its hostile adversaries, Russia and China. Both Russia and China claim they are merely responding to intimidation and military threats posed by the U.S. What’s your view? Do Russia and China have imperial ambitions or are they just trying to defend themselves against what they see as an increasingly aggressive U.S. military?

DK: It is undoubtedly true that Russia and China have their own ambitions for increasing power, prestige and influence in the world. However, Russia and China do so largely through means of offering development and infrastructure assistance and business relations to developing countries rather than by dropping bombs on other nations.The US takes the quite opposite tack, opting instead to wage war against other countries to obtain their ends.  Indeed, it is almost laughable that the US government and media panic over China’s “vaccine diplomacy” and Belt and Road Project – two examples of influence-building through constructive means – when the US is bombing other countries into oblivion. It is the US which is the threat to China and Russia, and not the other way around. It is the US which has troops up to the Russian frontier; Russia does not have analogous troops along the US frontier, for this would be unthinkable. It is the US which is provoking China through military manoeuvres in the South China Sea; China is not doing the same off the US coasts. As is its usual wont, the US is projecting its own sins upon others (in this case, China and Russia) so as to deflect blame and soul-searching for its own crimes.

JR: The U.S. always denies that it has imperial ambitions. Most unbiased experts say that by any objective standards, the U.S. is an empire — indeed the most powerful, sprawling empire in history. Does the U.S. have to be an empire to be successful in the world and effectively protect and serve its citizenry?

DK: The US is undoubtedly the greatest Empire that has ever existed in the history of humankind. However, the fact is that the maintenance of this Empire, in addition to devastating the lives of millions of people around the world, is actually counterproductive to the well-being of the American people. First of all, the US is spending over $1 trillion a year to maintain this Empire. These are monies which could otherwise be used to meet the needs of the American people by fixing and maintaining the US’s own crumbling infrastructure, and to provide healthcare, food, affordable education, housing and a social safety net to the millions of Americans in dire need of such things. In addition, the maintenance of the Empire through war as the US has opted to do has devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands of mostly working-class Americans who have been sent to kill, die and/or be maimed abroad. American soldiers who manage to return from the numerous imperial conflicts often return broken, physically and/or emotionally, causing hardships for themselves, their families and their communities. The wars always come home in numerous, devastating ways and this too is a terrible result of Empire.

And of course, as the Democratic Party wisely stated in its party platform of 1900, “no nation can long endure half republic and half empire …”  By now, it is fair to say that the US is no longer a republic; that the Republic has indeed fallen to the Empire. We now have a country in which wars are waged without public consent, and many times without even public knowledge. The US government and compliant press actively collude to keep the American public in the dark about US military operations and motives. This was most recently revealed in the “Afghanistan Papers” which showed that, to a person, those leading the war in Afghanistan actively lied to the American people about the purposes of the war and the prospects for success. Trillions of dollars of US taxpayer dollars were, consequently, funnelled into the coffers of arms manufacturers and private military contractors on a war of twenty years which only the leaders knew was unwinnable because their was no real objective beyond enriching the private defence industry. That is, the war was not meant to be won, it was meant to be unending as George Orwell once pointed out. In this way, truth and democracy, and the well-being of the American people, were undermined. And Afghanistan is just one of many such wars built on lies and deception. We are left, as Jimmy Carter recently acknowledged, with no functioning democracy in our country. Instead, we have a military-industrial complex posing as a republic.

JR: The highest ranking commanders of the U.S. military recently sounded the alarm. They have concluded that the U.S. — widely regarded as the most formidable military power in history — can’t defeat either Russia or China in a war. These military commanders are saying we need to dramatically increase our military capabilities. What do you make of this claim and the resulting demand for more DOD spending?

DK: Such statements are simply madness, rivalling that of the crazy Generals in Dr. Strangelove. While it may be true that the US could not militarily defeat Russia and China, this begs the question of why the US would ever need to defeat them. In this new Cold War in which we are living, it is clear that it is the US which is the aggressor. Russia and China, both of which have known the devastation of war in ways which the US cannot even fathom, have no interest in starting a world conflagration. Indeed, as Jimmy Carter, speaking specifically of China to then President Trump, it is because China has waged no war since 1953 that it has been able to develop so quickly and to build the world’s greatest speed trains. Where are our speed trains, Carter then asked Trump. Of course, there are none because all of our resources are tied up in war. This illustrates the respective priorities of these countries – China (and Russia as well) spending much less on their militaries in order to use their resources to build their economies and infrastructure, and the US having the exact opposite priorities. All of this reveals that the US does not need to build its military to confront China and Russia unless it is the US which is planning to attack these countries. And if that is indeed the plan, we are all doomed.

JR: In 2009, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton announced a reset with Russia, heralding greater cooperation and understanding. By 2014, Obama had made a sharp reversal. A sweeping regime of sanctions has since been imposed on Russia to cripple its economy. Hillary Clinton and the Democrats now relentlessly demonize Russia and Putin, blaming them for every imaginable ill. Both in the media and from official pronouncements by government officials, Russia has become the favorite whipping boy for both the U.S. and its “special friend”, Great Britain.  Why?  What happened?

DK: This is a good question.I think that the break with Russia came when Russia would not go along with, and indeed actively opposed the US foray into Syria. Recall that Russia had assented to a limited intervention by the US/NATO in Libya in 2011 by abstaining on UN Security Council resolutions which, by their terms, allowed for NATO to set up a no-fly zone over Libya and to protect (all) Libyan civilians. This abstention, and China’s too, were conditioned upon NATO refraining from a grander regime-change operation in Libya.  Of course, as we all know, as soon as NATO started intervening in Libya in March of 2011, it made it clear that regime-change was the end game. And, true to this aim, NATO bombed Libya continuously from March to October of 2011 until Gaddafi was toppled and then murdered. Chaos, destruction and even human slavery followed this operation. Russia, and particularly Vladimir Putin, saw this as a huge betrayal. Apparently, Putin watched the video of the brutal sodomizing and killing of Gaddafi twice and with horror. He vowed he would never allow such a thing to happen again, and specifically, he vowed that he would not let the US get away with this in Syria as it was then beginning to do. Putin’s military intervention to counter the US/Israel/Gulf States intervention in Syria is what led to Obama and Clinton to take an adversarial role towards Russia and Putin. Their regime-change plans for Syria were foiled by Russia, and they would never forgive Russia and Putin for this.

JR: The number of spy missions, nuclear-armed bomber flights, and war games near Russia’s borders have vastly increased over the past year. Same with China. Is all of this just business-as-usual geopolitical posturing? Or does it represent a dangerous escalation and a new ominous direction in U.S. strategic positioning? What is the justification for what Russia and China see as provocations and aggressiveness, if not actual preparation for a war?

DK: It is very clear that the US is preparing for war with Russia and/or China, and US leaders are not shy in saying so. Thus, in 2018, Defense News ran a story openly stating that Pentagon was redesigning its forces specifically to plan for war with Russia and China. Many have opined, and I agree, that Trump’s attempt to withdraw from Afghanistan, and Biden’s carrying out this withdrawal, are part of this re-focus on Russia and China; that the US is planning to withdraw forces from the Middle East so it can focus on these two greater adversaries. The next war, if we cannot mobilize to prevent it, will be a world war between the US and one or maybe both of these countries. The powers-that-be in the US know now that the US cannot compete with China, and to a lesser extent Russia. China is now the dominant economic power in the world, and has increasingly greater diplomatic prestige than the US. The only way the US can change this, our leaders believe, is by brute force. Of course, this could lead to nuclear conflagration and the end of the world, and thus must be opposed with every fiber of our being.

JR: Between the FONOPS in the South China Sea and the recently expressed enthusiasm for Taiwan’s independence, the risk of military conflict with China keeps increasing. Where is this headed? If People’s Republic of China decides to use military force for full reunification of Taiwan, do you see the U.S. going to war in an attempt to prevent it?

DK: It could very well be the case that the dispute over Taiwan will be the pretext for the war that the US is seeking with China.While Taiwan is not really the issue – it is China’s dominant economic power which is – a dispute over Taiwan could be the excuse the US will use to start a war.  We must be very vigilant about this.

JR: The U.S. against the clear objections of the government in Syria is occupying valuable land, stealing the country’s oil, and preventing access to the most agriculturally productive region, effectively starving the population. The world sees this for what it is, a cruel game sacrificing innocent people for some perceived geopolitical advantage. Is this the kind of reputation the U.S. wants? Or does it simply no longer care what the rest of the world community thinks?

DK: The US gave up long ago on carrying what the world thinks about its actions.The US government has taken us into war against one country after another (Vietnam, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya … ) as most of the world has looked on in horror and disapproval. The US has made it clear that it will do what it wants around the world because it has the military might to do so; it doesn’t need the approval of the UN Security Council or the nations of the world. And, the US has gone out of its way to show this, for example in the former Yugoslavia and the second Gulf War in which it flouted international law and opinion by simply refusing to seek UN Security Council for its military interventions. The US is now a full-on rogue nation, and proudly so, pulling out of the International Court of Justice and even sanctioning the International Criminal Court for daring to state its intention to investigate US war crimes in Afghanistan. The US continues to stand nearly alone in such things as unconditionally supporting Israel’s brutal occupation over Palestine and in its blockade of Cuba. The US does so just as it stood nearly alone in supporting Apartheid in South Africa until the bitter end. The US believes that it’s might makes right, and it manifests this belief with reckless abandon.

JR: In a democracy, at least in theory citizens have a say in all matters of public policy. Yet, in the end none of the recent military campaigns and undeclared wars seem to achieve much popular favor or support. What is and what should be the role of everyday citizens in determining the foreign policy and military priorities of the country? Or are such matters better left to the “experts”?

DK: Of course, in a real democracy, it is the people who should decide whether or not to go to war. Indeed, this is one of the most important and fateful decisions a country can make, and it is therefore the people – the ones who bear the brunt of the war’s costs and effects – who must decide this. Our so-called “experts” – the Robert McNamara’s, the Donald Rumsfeld’s and the Dick Cheney’s – have proven time and again how little expertise and how little sanity and rational judgment they have when it comes to deciding whether and how to prosecute war.Such “experts” are nothing but war criminals who should have been jailed at The Hague rather than lauded as elder statesemen.

JR: Related to that, the citizenry and most of Congress are kept in the dark with respect to special missions, proxy funding, CIA operations, and swaths of unknown unknowns constituting psyops, cyber ops, and regime change ops, all done in our name as U.S. citizens. The funds to support this sprawling “dark world” of sabotage and terror being inflicted on the rest of the planet, is also a secret. Now there’s pervasive spying on U.S. citizens right here at home. What place does any of this have in “the land of the free”? Does this mean government of the people, by the people, for the people is just a sham?

DK: The US War against Vietnam really taught us how much contempt the US government has for its people.We learned from The Pentagon Papers how US leaders viewed the American people, and especially those in the peace movement, as the enemy which needed to be effectively propagandized, silence or suppressed. The Afghanistan Papers showed us the same. When US wars are waged, the targets of the war – e.g., the Vietnamese, the Iraqis, the Libyans, the Afghans, the Syrians – know what is happening to them, know who is doing it to them and why it is being done. The goal of US domestic intelligence and propaganda operations are aimed at making sure that the American people do not have such an awareness, and that those who do have such awareness are marginalized and silenced. But there is some hope one should have from this recognition. This should prove to us what apparently the US warlords already know – that an informed and mobilized American citizenry can prevent and stop a war. This is quite a comforting thought. We must only make this thought a reality.

JR: Recently we’ve seen some token but precedent-setting direct payments to citizens in the form of Covid relief. There is also the ongoing discussion about reparations to descendants of slaves. If it could be unequivocally established that the government has abused DOD funding, misused and squandered vast sums of money to promote unjustified wars, purchase unneeded equipment, unnecessarily expand U.S. military presence across the globe, and regularly lied to the American public to manufacture consent for these misadventures and fraudulent activities, practical and political considerations aside, do you see any constitutional or other legal barriers to the public identifying, expecting, or even demanding proper compensation? A cash refund or citizen reparations for massive, authenticated abuse of power?

DK: Well, first and foremost, the US owes a great debt to the peoples of the countries it has waged war against.The US is legally and morally obligated to compensate these countries for the infrastructure it has destroyed; the millions of lives that it has destroyed; the babies who continue to be born with birth defects from the chemical and biological agents dropped by the US; and the environmental harms caused. In terms of the US population, all of the veterans and their families are certainly owed reparations for the harms they have endured in the process of fighting wars which they agreed to fight based on lies and deceptions told to them by the US government and media. Compensation is also owed to those who have suffered from drug addiction made possible and indeed likely by the drugs brought into this country as part and parcel of US wars (e.g., those in the inner city who succumbed to the addiction to cocaine which the CIA helped peddle in order to fund the Contras, and those who became addicted to the Afghan heroine which became abundant as a consequence of the US defeat of the Taliban in 2001). Such reparations do not seem fanciful to me at all. Indeed, I believe that there is a good case to be made that all of the weapons manufacturers and private military contractors should be disgorged of the trillions of dollars they made from these wars based on lies, and these monies should be used to compensate the types of victims described above, and to rebuild the infrastructure and health and education systems which were left to rot as the resources needed to build and maintain them were siphoned off by these merchants of death.

The post What are the Prospects for Peace? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What are the Prospects for Peace?

Events are unfolding at a quickening pace. Facing an alarming escalation in tensions around the world, we are looking to our most respected and renowned thought leaders for an honest assessment of both U.S. foreign and military policy to offer their most current thoughts and insights. We know they have some ideas for improving the prospects for peace.

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Abby Martin is an American journalist, TV presenter and activist. She helped found the citizen journalism website Media Roots and serves on the board of directors for the Media Freedom Foundation which manages Project Censored. She hosted Breaking the Set on the Russian state-sponsored network RT America from 2012 to 2015, and then launched The Empire Files in that same year as an investigative documentary and interview series on Telesur, later released as a web series. In 2019, she released the film documentary, The Empire Files: Gaza Fights for Freedom. She continues her work opposing imperialism and promoting peace, as an independent filmmaker and journalist. We are extremely honored that she took the time to talk to us and share her views. Her responses below are exactly as she provided.

The questions here are not philosophical or abstract. They focus on the realities of the international power struggle unfolding in real time. They directly address the role of the U.S. in the escalating tensions and its capacity to reduce them. We also probe the role of everyday citizens in affecting the relationship the U.S. now has and will have with the rest of the world community.

Here is what Abby Martin had to say.

John Rachel:  The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has recently put the hands of the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds before midnight. Midnight means all out war, probably nuclear holocaust. This is the closest it has every been. Do you agree with this dire assessment?

Abby Martin: Just a minuscule percentage of the world’s nuclear arsenal being detonated would have cataclysmic effects, propelling us into a nuclear winter that could eventually end human life on earth. Hydrogen bombs are up to one thousand times stronger than those that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the US has thousands of them.

It’s chilling to face the reality that nuclear war is not some distant Cold War era threat, but a strong possibility in our near future. Due to incompetence or belligerence, any nuclear armed country could initiate this death spiral.

Right now we face an unprecedented ecological crisis in need of global cooperation. Instead of becoming a leader to reduce and dismantle nuclear weapons, the US is spending over a trillion dollars to modernize its nuclear arsenal. And despite being a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, the US is buying hundreds more. In February, the Biden administration secured a contract with Northrop Grumman for 600 new nukes, for no reason other than to line the coffers of the defense industry.

DC think tank policy prescriptions about nuclear weapons are sponsored by the very arms companies rewarded with lucrative contracts for their recommendations, which always result in further militarization. We need to strategize how we can live in a world beyond nukes, because there will never be peace as long as these weapons exist.

JR: The U.S. always portrays itself as the greatest force on the planet for peace, justice, human rights, racial equality, etc. Polls tell us that most other nations actually regard the U.S. as the greatest threat to stability. What in your view is the truth here?

AM: One just has to leave the United States and speak to people in other countries, especially those long subjugated by the US, to see how true this idea really is. The United States is a global Empire, which imposes its world order through military force. A new study reveals that US “counterterrorism” operations have been active in 83 countries in the last three years alone. It does this not to spread “democracy” or “human rights”—a ridiculous assertion for an oligarchy that hosts the largest incarcerated population—but to extract resources and protect capital.

Whatever the US dictates, its junior collaborators follow suit and the rest know the penalty for bucking the beast—genocidal sanctions, coups, invasions and bombing campaigns. These criminal actions depend on a compliant corporate media that make them palatable to the public. But for those living under the sanctions and bombs, it’s clear who the real threat is.

JR:  Here’s a chicken-or-egg question: The U.S. accuses both Russia and China of rapidly expanding their military capabilities, claiming its own posturing and increase in weaponry is a response to its hostile adversaries, Russia and China. Both Russia and China claim they are merely responding to intimidation and military threats posed by the U.S. What’s your view? Do Russia and China have imperial ambitions or are they just trying to defend themselves against what they see as an increasingly aggressive U.S. military?

AM: The US military is bigger and more costly than the next ten countries combined. It is patently absurd to think that it is Russia or China, not the US that is setting the world stage militarily. For example, when the US violated the international treaty on outer space to create Space Force, Russia reacted by announcing it would pursue its own space defense to prepare for US plans.

Almost every think tank that influences US politics has set its sights on China under the great-power competition doctrine, and has articulated that Russia and China need to be the military focus instead of the Middle East. Most of their mapped out policy scenarios end in full blown war, something that would be catastrophic and completely unnecessary.

While both countries clearly have strategic geopolitical ambitions, Russia and China do not share the US’s imperial goals for global hegemony. China spreads its influence through production and financial investments but it only has one military base in Djibouti. When you compare this to the nearly 1,000 US bases littering the earth, the notion that the US is acting defensively is laughable.

JR: The U.S. always denies that it has imperial ambitions. Most unbiased experts say that by any objective standards, the U.S. is an empire — indeed the most powerful, sprawling empire in history. Does the U.S. have to be an empire to be successful in the world and effectively protect and serve its citizenry?

AM: The US is not only an Empire, it is the biggest and most powerful Empire the world has ever seen. It has 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and it bends other countries to its will through sanctions and war. It has interfered to subvert the democratic processes more than 50 times in Latin America alone. The US is not effective at protecting and serving its own citizenry, so it has no moral leg to stand on to justify this global military presence and daily violence. It is only successful if you look at control and domination as merits of success. The system it upholds exists to benefit very few people, which becomes a tinier pool every year, while the vast majority at the bottom suffer and die preventable deaths—structural violence under capitalism.

JR: In 2009, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton announced a reset with Russia, heralding greater cooperation and understanding. By 2014, Obama had made a sharp reversal. A sweeping regime of sanctions has since been imposed on Russia to cripple its economy. Hillary Clinton and the Democrats now relentlessly demonize Russia and Putin, blaming them for every imaginable ill. Both in the media and from official pronouncements by government officials, Russia has become the favorite whipping boy for both the U.S. and its “special friend”, Great Britain. Why? What happened?

AM: Some argue the love affair with Putin ended with his refusal to support the Iraq War and subsequently Russia’s support for US enemies like Assad, but many other factors play into why hostilities with Russia benefit the US. The US political system needs to manufacture consent for its global Empire by directing Americans’ attention and energy away from the corrupt oligarchs and corporate overlords who oppress us here at home to an external threat, like communism, terrorism, and now, Russia and China.

When Donald Trump became president, it was imperative to rationalize how someone so unsavory to liberal sensibilities won a democratic election. Instead of having reflection or accountability for the failures of the Democratic Party, and the anointment of a candidate like Hillary Clinton, the results were blamed on sinister foreign forces like Putin’s Russia, and entities like Russia Today. In fact, the US intelligence community cited my show Breaking the Set, which ended two years prior to the election, as a major factor that “sowed discord” and “fomented radical discontent” within US society, leading to the outcome of Trump’s victory.

Russia and China will continue to be hysterically fear mongered against because the arms industry needs to keep pumping out weapons to sell and the people need something, someone to blame for why our lives continue to degrade, other than our own government.

JR: The number of spy missions, nuclear-armed bomber flights, and war games near Russia’s borders have vastly increased over the past year. Same with China. Is all of this just business-as-usual geopolitical posturing? Or does it represent a dangerous escalation and a new ominous direction in U.S. strategic positioning? What is the justification for what Russia and China see as provocations and aggressiveness, if not actual preparation for a war?

AM: There is no rational justification for the continuous, aggressive US military buildup and maneuvering around Russia and China. The US routinely sends in ships and aircraft into the South China Sea to flex its muscles, which China recently denounced as a “threat to peace.” It is incomprehensible to imagine China conducting military operations in the Gulf of Mexico, but apparently China should accept the US doing this on a regular basis.

The US and its loyalists will defend this insanity by saying that the US is a beacon for good and needs to be on these countries’ doorsteps to keep these “authoritarian dictatorships” at bay, to save the world by preventing them from becoming *the next Empire.* None of this has any bearing in reality. Imperialism has nowhere to go but to expand, imperiling all life on earth. And US capitalism is threatened by China’s growing economic power. It does not want to exist in a multipolar world. It knows eventually it has to come to a head with what it sees as the great competitor, for no other reason than global domination.

JR: Between the FONOPS [Freedom of Navigation Operations] in the South China Sea and the recently expressed enthusiasm for Taiwan’s independence, the risk of military conflict with China keeps increasing. Where is this headed? If the People’s Republic of China decides to use military force for full reunification of Taiwan, do you see the U.S. going to war in an attempt to prevent it?

AM: A majority of Americans now favor using US troops to defend Taiwan if it is invaded by China, according to a recent poll. There is no other rationale to explain this mindset other than corporate media propaganda steadily pumping out anti-China stories and legitimizing it as an adversary.

The US claims it conducts its war games around China in part to bolster its support for Taiwan. Now the narrative being pumped out by Pentagon sources is that these war games often end with China beating the US, calling for further military spending in order to beat China. The inevitability of war with China is a tacitly accepted reality, with rarely any questioning about whether or not the US should be conducting these acts of aggression or militarily backing Taiwan at all. How does any of this protect the American people? Needless to say, all of this points to the very real and growing possibility that the US will start war with China over Taiwan, and we need to speak out against this utter madness before it is too late.

JR: In a democracy, at least in theory citizens have a say in all matters of public policy. Yet, in the end none of the recent military campaigns and undeclared wars seem to achieve much popular favor or support. What is and what should be the role of everyday citizens in determining the foreign policy and military priorities of the country? Or are such matters better left to the “experts”?

AM: The United States functions as an oligarchy rather than a democracy. Policies like are passed not due to public support but corporate interests. The overwhelming majority of people in this country support things like paid maternity leave, free college, and a higher minimum wage. Yet these things are painted as wedge issues that can never be accomplished due to the partisan divide. Corporations control the political process and the conversation around it, and they always win what they want.

This is why during the COVID pandemic, the oligarchs siphoned two trillion dollars from the working class, while one third of small businesses shut down and the poor suffered through mass evictions and joblessness. Due to the neoliberal indoctrination of public education and mass conditioning of American Exceptionalism, most Americans haven’t given a second thought to what the US does in our names around the world.

Many US journalists and politicians acknowledge that climate change is the largest threat facing humanity, but few point to the fact that the US military is the largest institutional polluter, and emitter of carbon emissions, and every single climate treaty excludes their responsibility.

The need for critical media literacy and mass organizing has never been more urgent. If you want to go down the rabbit hole with me to learn more about the true nature of the US go vernment and how we can unite to demilitarize our communities, check out The Empire Files.

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We are grateful to Abby Martin for her thought-provoking views. The interview was arranged by John Rachel, Director of the Peace Dividend Project. This effort embraces a powerful, unprecedented, end-to-end strategy for challenging the tyranny of neocon warmongers in Washington DC, ending the endless wars, and reversing the self-destructive foreign policy and military paradigm which now poisons U.S. relations with the rest of the world. Ms. Martin has also agreed to be interviewed for the full-length Peace Dividend documentary film, a devastating indictment of the corruption and fraud built into our excessive military budgets and imperial overreach. This movie will inform, unite and empower everyday citizens to have a voice in determining the future they want for themselves and their children.

The post What are the Prospects for Peace? first appeared on Dissident Voice.