Category Archives: Empire

Needed Urgently! New US National Myth

Lenin dismantled in Berdiansk, Ukraine. Confederacy President Jefferson Davis in Richmond. Lieutenant-general Cornwallis in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Empires rise and fall. And usually burn themselves out rather quickly. What else is new? ‘American decline’ is a Wikipedia page. You can feel it in the air. One greets it with dread or hope, or better dread-hope. America’s sins are adding up, yet the US is a behemoth for well over two centuries and will not go in peace.

It’s biblical in dimensions: elites brazenly steal from the poor, then use the money to lobby, privatization, to make ever more money, with God’s wrath hovering like a sword overhead, as such vile behaviour undermines the whole system.

It’s so painful to watch, yet again, how perverse capitalism makes people act. How it rewards scoundrels unimaginable fortunes. It’s the same with atom-splitting, computers, drones, what happens to good leaders everywhere who don’t follow the script, in short: everything capitalism touches (which is by now just about everything, including sex, now retouched as gender) turns to sh*t.

And what about the US? It presides over this bacchanalia, consuming/ destroying all it touches (consumption is derived from the Latin ‘destroy’, so I could just leave it at ‘destroy’). And what does America produce? Not an awful lot in real terms, and less and less all the time. Actual industrial output in the US has been falling for decades. What the US is producing is more and more debt. The world ‘buys’ US debt and sells it consumer goods, chained as it is to US dollars. I.e., chained to US debt. But Americans themselves are slaves to personal debt. Now, as the US totters on, ruling the waves and waving the rules, the world has reached an apotheosis.

A quick history of the American story/ epic/ saga is:

*20,000 years of tribal hunter gatherers, in harmony with nature,

*settler colonialism, i.e., war, theft, genocide,

*declaration of bourgeois revolution promising life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (scaled back to life, liberty and private property in the constitution),

*2 centuries of wild, uncontrolled, ‘creative destruction’, using and discarding resources at an insane pace, blanketing the continent in square grids of endless roads, cookie-cutter suburbs, cities turning into ghost towns, arriving at

*a car-choked dead end, where the threat of nuclear war and environmental Armageddon loom ever closer.

There is already a cottage industry of Chicken Littles on US collapse, collapsarianism, Dmitry Orlov the oldest and most celebrated. Orlov is a Russian American engineer, born in 1962 in Leningrad. He emigrated with his parents in 1970s. Like the Soviet Union, the US collapse will be the result of huge military budgets, government deficits, an unresponsive political system, plus, for the US, declining oil production. Orlov’s Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects (2008, 2011) and  The Five Stages of Collapse (2013) are entertaining as well as informative, as is his legendary 2006 article ‘Closing the ‘Collapse Gap: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US’ which brought the collapsarianism into the mainstream.

Martyanov, like Orlov, was born in the 1960s, though Martyanov hails from Baku, and studied at the Caspian (Kirov) Naval Academy. Their writings are both polemics by engineers. Sort-of Marxist:

Orlov: *When faced with a collapsing economy, one should stop thinking of wealth in terms of money.

Martyanov: *The Republican embrace of China in the 2000s shows how the capitalist will sell the very rope on which he will be hanged.

*America’s cultural and political decline are direct consequences of its precipitously diminishing ability to make—produce, that is—things which matter and that Americans need.

Ex-Soviets are tough nuts. And they pull no punches. Engineers, more so. Having had to bite their lips too many times pre-fall, they are unqualified in their openness and critical faculties, and generally love/hate America in equal portions. A popular saying of the day in the USSR was: “They tell us that capitalism stinks, but what a delightful smell.” Orlov enjoys the stink. (His blog ClubOrlov’s latest: Why are empires, especially dying ones, drawn to Afghanistan like moths to a flame?)

Martyanov is unrelentless and unapologetically contrarian. He has a lot of bones to pick, with lots of detours into modern Russia.

*He argues Germany’s economy is in free fall, overburdened by a green energy chimera, refusing to air condition airports. (Greta Thunberg is dismissed as an ‘illiterate girl from Sweden’).

*He (and, news to me, Putin) insist climate warming is not due to human activity (not a shred of viable evidence, except for ever unreliable models, that humanity’s activity drives climate change), (p71)

*Covid is a fraud,

*American environmentalists are pushing an agenda which undermines the very foundation of modern human civilization.

US mass culture a straitjacket

He is right, though, to argue that consumerism as an ideology is a straitjacket. The rise of postmodernism since WWII has accelerated the decline of American culture. Harold Bloom observes that “instead of the pursuit of truth, there is an adolescent certainty that all is uncertain.” He criticizes such cultural icons as Mick Jagger, who portrays himself as  a nihilistic rebel, both hetero and homosexual, embracing drugs and “the rock ideal of universal classless society founded on love.” Because youth bond with such decadent anti-heroes, they miss embracing the positive heroes of the past, never achieving a deep love for culture.

Weimar Germany is the classic example of decadent culture before the deluge. Rome in its later years was famous for its decadence, sexual promiscuity and homosexuality. It’s happening again before our very eyes. The current obsession with transsexualism, and the reforming of our sexuality according to a radical critique of ‘hetero-patriarchy’ and its replacement with an array of designer sexualities, is perhaps the strongest indicator of imminent collapse.

Saul Bellow’s The Dean’s December (1982) chronicles the state of urban culture and race relations in Chicago in the 1960s as compared to socialist eastern Europe, where traditional culture ruled. Already by the 1980s, within sight of the collapse behind the Iron Curtain, their culture was beginning to look good to outsider Bellow. The farther we ‘progress’ from those days, the better things there look.

Just as the Soviet Union denounced western decadence, Russia too is the empire’s spoilsport. Again, today’s news: the European Court of Human Rights determined that Russian law, which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, breached the right to private and family life enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.The decision obliges the country to legislate for recognition of LGBT+ marriages. The Court also awarded €2,200 in costs to the claimants.

The backlash against the new sexuality being promoted by the West has begun, with protest politics in Hungary, Poland, and half the US pitted against the other half, with sexual politics at the centre of the divide. It seems Putin’s rush to change the constitution to limit marriage to male-female last year was just in the knick of time.

On the consumer side of ideology, Veblen identified the importance that status takes on in a consumer-oriented society, where spending more on goods is a status symbol, the Veblen effect. This effect cancels the upper limit on personal consumption. The sky is literally the limit, as the billionaires Bezos and Branson  with their trips into outerspace a mere drop in their financial buckets. Where one’s worth is measured solely in money, society becomes a stage for moneyed giants to act out for the rest of society, who worship these successful, glamorous idols. And feel worthless.  With the ascendancy of Black Lives Matters, with the gay liberation forces martialed behind it, US culture lies in shreds. Consumption as the be all and end all is literally destroying the planet. Help!

Magic numbers

Having dispensed with lots of damned MAGA lies, we are left with statistics. When Simon Kuznets invented GDP in the 1930s (I’m not joking), he deliberately left two industries out of this then novel, revolutionary idea of a national income: finance and advertising. Kuznets’ logic was simple, not mere opinion, but analytical fact: finance and advertising do not create new value, they only allocate, or distribute existing value (Marx’s unproductive labour), in the same way that a loan to buy a television isn’t the television, or an ad for healthcare isn’t healthcare. They are only means to goods, not goods themselves.

Congress ignored Kuznets, and included advertising and finance in the statistic. As a result, actual American GDP is formed primarily by non-productive sectors such as finance, insurance, and real estate, known as the FIRE economy. (I’m not joking, though I can’t resist fantasizing about lighting a match to all that paper ‘wealth’.)

Martyanov’s Soviet education allows him to step back from the appearance (illusion) of wealth in US stats, and recognize that real wealth is not in financial ‘services’ — mutual shining of each other’s boots by two close friends and then paying each other $10 for doing this does not produce $20 of value, something that seems to escape most American economists.

All the above does is yet further monetize our lives. Real value resides in food on the table, a roof over your head, a secure job and good education. There are lots of modern day shoe shiners, busily shining every day, inflating statistics, but producing no value. Viewed in real teams, the US looks more and more like a 3rd world country.

Subtract finance and advertising from GDP, and what’s left? Well, since more than 50% every year of GDP comes from finance and advertising,  we would immediately see that the economic ‘growth’ that the US chases never actually existed at all, that the actual size of the American economy is grossly inflated. Growth itself has only been an illusion, a trick of numbers. I.e., the economy is a hollow shell. When the dollar goes, it will take the US ‘economy’ with it. That explains the consistent pattern of the ever-increasing overall trade deficit for the United States since 1970, when Nixon took the US off the gold standard.

Food insecurity

Martyanov and Orlov are weak on ways out of our dead end. That’s not their purpose. (Orlov: hope that the rest of the world manages to come together and build at least the scaffolding of a functional imperial replacement) but we need to prepare.

Orlov urges us to look to Soviet experience for lessons. There is already a germ of Soviet thinking at play in food banks. Any national crisis (WWII, today) pushes us towards a communal (i.e., socialist) answer. Covid-era news has highlighted the growing  importance of food banks throughout the US, where lines of cars circled the block and shelves were constantly depleted.

It’s as if Basic Income was being invented out of dire necessity. 30+% of Americans have food insecurity. This phenomenal growth of food banks is a clear symptom of decline, dread-hope. My foodbank is called the ‘Essentials Market’, and is always stocked with bread, some vegetables (in season or as spillover from imports from Mexico and the US), plus bizarre things like chicken flavoured peanuts. This week, sweat peas, delicious but with black spots. Also goods with package flaws, or funny shaped potatoes and carrots. It was bi-weekly before covid but is now weekly and looks like this will continue. Portions are equal, and quantity depending on supply.

It is much more enjoyable shopping than at a ‘super’market. i donate monthly, so i’m probably not saving much on what I take home. I only go to Loblaws for frozen orange juice and canned pineapple.

I lived in Soviet Union in its twilight years, when ”defitsiti’ were the norm, but even then, shopping was an adventure, a hunt, and your spoils brought a feeling of accomplishment. Gift parcels at work were a cause for celebration. We are programmed to think that mind-numbing, ice-cold supermarkets are the pinnacle of personal happiness, but there are other ways of structuring consumption: solidarity, social justice, modesty, gifting.

You share or trade with others what you don’t really want. The fact that money doesn’t enter into the equation (or in Soviet times, was not important), makes it more like a social gathering. But then my foodbank is small, well-run and adequately funded. Large foodbanks are less welcoming but still provide an essential service for free. There isn’t a lot of waste — if a big load of toothpaste comes in, you might get two tubes. If you are lucky, you might get the last cake or brick of cheese, but there’s always tofu, frozen meat, potatoes and carrots.

As for food production, while the US is roughly balanced on food imports/ exports now, there are serious problems of water access and increasing wild fires which will lead to troubles, even if government starts right now to address them.

National myth? Israel?

Martyanov makes an unwieldy comparison of US and Russia on the culture front. He approves of the new Russian constitution where the State language on all the territory of the Russian Federation is the Russian (Russkii) language, the language of the State-founding people. That it helps bind the nation. He then argues that nowadays in America anything even remotely comparable to acknowledging that Euro-Americans represent the core nationality of the United States would be an anathema for the primarily globalist establishment. 

His logic should mean recognizing the natives as the founding people. No one invited the white settlers, who Martyanov seems to be arguing are the ‘founding nation’. Russian nation building was radically different, where Russians lived more or less peacefully alongside natives across Siberia, so fit well with the first ‘founding fathers’. And his attempt to square the Trumpian circle is to include black slaves and hispanics and forget the Philippinos, Vietnamese and other flotsam, doesn’t work either. Captives and other settlers are no more ‘founding peoples’ than these other settlers.

But he’s right that America’s lack of a myth-that-fits-all is at the heart of its disintegration, and that Russia indeed has big advantage as it limps along, trying to recover. It has many moments that all Russian citizens can relate to, though the two images that stand out as icons in all Russians’ minds are surely these.

Russians are powerful myth makers, and even look back fondly on their Soviet experience and increasingly honour it. Their Soviet national myth crashed on the hidden rocks of commodity fetishism. The ‘soviet man’ was supposed to be ascetic, a consumer minimalist, devoting himself to study, self-improvement, social activities, preserving nature, things we all wish we had time for but don’t, until retirement, when you are too old and lame to be much good to anyone. That’s good for priests and revolutionaries, maybe 10%, but not as a founding myth.

Though flawed, Martyanov is worth reading for his details, the Russia asides. It’s fascinating to see a sharp Soviet-Russian mind at work, deconstructing the US. Martyanov would probably be writing the same book if he were still Soviet, living in still extant socialism. I’m sure Putin’s advisers think along similar lines.

What really is missing in both Orlov and Martyanov is a chapter on how Israel contributes to US disintegration. Or rather a framing of the whole topic as referring to US-Israel, as they function as siamese twins, joined at the hip, with two heads, one much more clever than the other. Israel has pushed the US for the past 7 decades to do much self-harm, to discredit the US on the world stage, to push the entire Middle East into ceaseless, tragic turmoil. Without Israel, the US would be in much better shape, perhaps not even disintegrating.

Hopeful signs

If politicians heeded Hudson on debt forgiveness, maybe we could reboot the US. But it would still mean revolution.The Bezoses and Bransons stick out like sore thumbs. In the meantime, decline is relentless. There are good signs in the slow-motion US disintegration:

*Biden’s backing off Nord Stream 2 allowing Europe to manage its own energy,

*Biden’s bid to nab corporations in tax havens. Even Canada and Europe are on board. Can this plug the hole in the dyke propping up the rise sea of toxic dollars? As with the climate, storms are more frequent and more lethal. It’s hard to see a happy ending in all this but it won’t hurt.

*Pride Month’s black eye, when Supreme Court allowed the Catholic church to exclude same sex couples in adoption in Philadelphia,

*a groundswell of support, with young people at the forefront on global warming and against Israeli apartheid. As with South Africa in the 1980s, the world is slowly mobilizing to bring the Israeli part of US-Israel to justice.

These groundswells, which Martyanov got wrong, ignores or belittles, are the seeds of a new, better post-US-imperialism. Martyanov and Orlov are engineers, not writers. Just as Martyanov dismisses nonengineers from climate policy, we can’t take engineer think as the last word to resolve the complex problems engineers have created that brought us to this fix. Orlov, dubbed a survivalist, currently is producing affordable house boats for apres le deluge.

As for a credible founding myth, it’s not going to happen, unless you go back to the distant past. 1619+ meant slavery and genocide, 1776 meant a bourgeois revolution glorifying profit, wealth, and reaffirming slavery and genocide, 1899 seizing Philippines meant empire, though now minus slavery. Canada doesn’t have the slavery baggage, [Myth? See “Canada’s slavery secret: The whitewashing of 200 years of enslavement” — DV Ed] but the native genocide was pretty much the same. This year’s Canada Day on July 1 was without major fireworks, more a day of reflection, contrition. We’re already wrestling with a new national myth. It’s not easy. But it’s gonna be a lot hard south of the border.

Inspired by Trump’s angry circus performance at Mount Rushmore [the renaming of what the Lakota people called Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe, Six Grandfathers — DV Ed],last year, a landback movement has begun. We land’owners’ can give back our lands to natives whose land it really is, and let them be custodians, our high priests. We must embrace the native cultures where we live. That should be our founding myth. Such a post-consumer-settler-colonial society has a chance. We can do our accounting according to a happiness index, ridding ourselves of the financial intermediaries sucking up the real wealth and leaving only debt.

The post Needed Urgently! New US National Myth first appeared on Dissident Voice.

W’s Chickens Coming Home to Roost, yet the Media Cocks Aren’t Crowing

Censorship comes in many forms. One of [them] is a colossal moral indifference to official crimes at the highest levels of our government.

— Ralph Nader, April 17, 2021, Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Disclaimer: This is not a traditional mainstream or even left-stream book review. However, Steven C. Markoff’s book does play as the impetus and linchpin to my essay, more of an analysis/reaction to his book.  I give The Case Against George W. Bush, high marks. Read Steve’s book. Press your respective legislators to push for an investigation of W.’s crimes. Markoff sets out in the book about how those crimes were committed. I reference those. He completes his case: The evidence is there to prosecute and find guilty the 43rd President of the USA, George W. Bush.

Nader’s Raiders of the Lost Warriors

I was hitting the old Ralph Nader podcast a week ago when I stumbled upon Steven C. Markoff’s book, The Case Against George W. Bush. Nader had Markoff on his podcast, and both talked about the crimes of W Bush, and even more pertinently, the lack of a criminal case against George W. Bush, as well as the crickets in the so-called liberal media (SCLM) as well in the left press concerning Steve’s book.

I quickly emailed Steve for a copy of his book to review, and he came back at me with a PDF of this book which, as I have stated, has been iced out of mainstream media: no interviews, no reviews let alone getting Steve into a room one-on-one, or onto a Zoom call with other guests to parse his well-researched, well-quoted book on the crimes of George W. Bush.

The Case Against George W. Bush by Steven C. Markoff, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

Of course, those crimes are more than crimes of omission, or crimes of secret rendition and torture sites, or the crimes of Abu Ghraib “prison” and Guantanamo. The crime was more than just all the lies about WMD’s and Saddam murdering babies. The big crime was Bush and his Regime of psychotic sociopaths of the neocon variety completely derailing valid, active and clear intelligence that Osama bin Laden was about to make a huge fiery asymmetrical splash on the world stage.

Markoff lays out the daily briefs, the back and forth communiqués, the speeches Bush and others on his team made which all provides evidence of what “we” know about Osama bin Laden. The entire gambit goes back to the Soviet Union’s role in Afghanistan, then with Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior, Clinton and leading up to the ex-governor of Texas, W Bush.

Carter Doctrine 25 years before 9/11

Unfortunately, Jimmy Carter’s man  got the Soviet Union and then USA, all tangled up in Afghanistan.

The best way for us to understand Afghanistan is to look at the record of American involvement going back four decades and to look at the record requires a reexamination of President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski. From the start, U.S. policy formation surrounding Afghanistan has lived in a realm of magical thinking that has produced nothing but a catastrophe of nightmarish proportions. Brzezinski impacted the future of American foreign policy by monopolizing the Carter administration in ways that few outside the White House understand. In his role as national security advisor he put himself in a position to control information into and out of the White House and when it came to Afghanistan – to use it for whatever purposes he saw fit.

“Brzezinski was an obsessive Russia-hater to the end. That led to the monumental failures of Carter’s term in office; the hatreds Brzezinski released had an impact which continues to be catastrophic for the rest of the world.” Helmer wrote in 2017, “To Brzezinski goes the credit for starting most of the ills – the organization, financing, and armament of the mujahedeen the Islamic fundamentalists who have metastasized – with US money and arms still – into Islamic terrorist armies operating far from Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Brzezinski started them off.”

— ‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

The Clinton “team” briefed the incoming George W. Bush “team” before his January 2001 inauguration about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. For the younger Bush, he repudiated the evidence trail from so many intelligence sources. His eyes were on Operation Iraqi Freedom, but first called, O.I.L,  which was propagated by Jay Leno incessantly after it was blurted out from the source:

On the afternoon of March 24, 2003 days after the U.S launched missiles at Baghdad to start the illegal war, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer held a press briefing. After a few minutes, a couple of sentences into the briefing, he verbally stumbled on the name of Bush’s war, stating, “Operation Iraqi, uh, Liberation.”

Calling it “Operation Iraqi Freedom” officially is just more War is Peace, Lies are Truth bullshit. And that 2001 invasion of Afghanistan ― “Operation Enduring Freedom” – is yet more of the PT Barnum spin, all catalogued in the annals of United States Central Command and U.S. Army War College.

Trail of Tears, Trails of Evidence

Markoff’s book is a straightforward record of myriad published records – taped speeches, newspaper articles/Op-Eds, sections from books, redacted memos and top secret records. As a buttress to the asymmetrical history of what happened leading up to and during the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequently all that went wrong in the Middle East, this upcoming 20th anniversary of 9/11, Markoff’s book should be required reading.

But reading isn’t enough for just consuming Markoff’s book, and reading it is not enough for those of us who have been fighting the wars, those in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all the others. What we need is a truth and reconciliation hearing for all those murdered in the September 11 attacks (around 3,000) as well as the countless hundreds of thousands (several million some estimates determine up to today) killed when the USA bombed and razed Iraq.

The deep links between terror attacks and Southwest Florida - News - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sarasota, FL

Remember that famous photo of Bush reading about a goat to kids in Florida:

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Bush was at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota County, Florida, reading “My Pet Goat.”

Oh, his dedication to inner-city first graders and listening to them recite the goat story is golden. Earlier, Bush had been on the way from his hotel to the school in his motorcade when it was reported to him a passenger jet had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. Old commander in Chief Bush believed the crash was an accident caused, perhaps, by pilot error.

That old goat, man, what a story, so much so that when Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, entered the classroom at 9:06 to tell this president a second airplane had struck the South Tower and that the nation was under attack, Bush stayed on his duff for seven more minutes, following along as the children finished reading the book.

“Class Goat”

Goat may be an old West Point term for the man/woman graduating last in his/her class, but one infamous George the Goat from the Army Academy is none other than George Armstrong Custer.

Unfortunately, the proverbial goat in America’s eyes is the million people murdered and millions more suffering because of the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Steve’s book lays out the three legal frameworks or cases for prosecuting Bush (and solely Bush, not Bush and Company LLC) for crimes against humanity (in Iraq and Afghanistan) and Bush’s own responsibility for those several thousand who died on that fateful day, September 11, 2001.

Mathematician Finally Solves Goat Problem: Here's the Answer

Here’s part of a blurb on the book’s web site, Rare Bird Lit:

Steven C. Markoff presents sourced evidence of three crimes committed by George W. Bush during his presidency: his failure to take warnings of coming terror attacks on our country seriously; taking the United States, by deception, into an unnecessary and disastrous 2003 war with Iraq; costing the lives of more than 4,000 Americans and 500,000 others; and breaking domestic and international laws by approving the torture as means to extract information. While Markoff lays out his case of the crimes, he leaves it up to the reader to decide the probable guilt of George W. Bush and his actions regarding the alleged crimes.

Casualties of War — Truth, Honor, Duty to Protect 

I had cut my teeth as a reporter in El Paso and elsewhere covering and following that other container ship of lies – Reagan’s crew of felons and thugs who philandered the American public with their special form of Murder Incorporated in Central America, and notably, Nicaragua. Or the illegal invasion of Panama under George H. W. Bush. Oh, those invasions, coups, clandestine bombings, proxy wars, incursions, secret operations, PsyOps.

I even ended up “down south,” in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua running into all sorts of odd fellows in the “drugs for guns” continuing criminal enterprise involving some of this country’s more nefarious “diplomats” and “generals” and CIA/NSA scum. Oh, those yellow belly Contras, murdering civilians and bombing schools and clinics for Reagan and Company. Those freedom fighters, AKA, the biggest lying cheats in recent times in Central America, Los Contras.

And the dead horse isn’t dead, and another author, like Markoff, just couldn’t buy the bs on those Contras:

Thus, in his 2012 book, The Manufacturing of a President, Wayne Madsen claims, based upon his numerous intelligence sources, that the CIA and Mossad have both been funding these rearmed Contras, and that they have been shipping these Contras arms over both the Honduran and Costa Rican borders.  He claims also that the Honduran government which came to power through the 2009 coup – a coup which the Obama Administration actively aided and abetted to unseat a leftist government which, by the way, happened to be friendly to Daniel Ortega – has been key to helping both support the Contras as well as to provide a staging ground for the covert operations to bring down the Sandinista government.  In other words, Honduras is playing the very same role it did in the 1980s, and the US-backed coup in 2009 – a mere 2 years after Ortega was elected – was crucial to this role.

Dan Kovalik

Of course, the Bush Family Legacy was also all written over that fiasco, and again, it was easy for me to continue my penchant for understanding how rotten the United States is as I am the son of a Vietnam War regular army veteran, who put in 31 years in uniform.

Lords of War, the Racket that is General Smedley Butler’s war warnings. Or Gary Webb, killing the messenger, the same CIA-infused Washington Post, New York Times and LA Times, to just name a few of the publications that corrupted the real work of Webb uncovering that entire drugs for guns Mafiosi.

Robert Parry, deceased now, but a journalist who started Consortium News in 1994, with Webb as one of his big stories on how bad the US government is, and how bad the mainstream media has become.

Here, Parry:

So what I was seeking by the mid-1990s was some solid ground in which to plant a flag for honest journalism, rather than constantly being forced into retreat, pulled by nervous editors and producers looking over their shoulders out of fear of right-wing retaliation. From solid ground, I thought, we could produce journalism that simply assessed the facts and made independent judgments regardless of who might be offended.

In 1995, it was my oldest son, Sam, who suggested the then-novel idea of “a Web site.” I didn’t fully understand what a Web site was and Sam was no techie but he demonstrated extraordinary patience in building our original Internet presence. (Back then, there were no templates; you had to start from scratch.) We married old-fashioned investigative reporting with the new technology of the Internet and began publishing groundbreaking investigative articles.

We followed evidence where it went, even when it flew in the face of the conventional wisdom, such as our work on the 1980 October Surprise issue of whether Reagan and Bush went behind President Jimmy Carter’s back during his Iran-hostage negotiations, much the way Nixon had in sabotaging Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968.

Not only did we present our own original work but we buttressed investigations by other serious journalists, such as Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News when, in 1996, he revived Ronald Reagan’s Contra-cocaine scandal. When the major newspapers set out to destroy Webb and discredit his revelations, Consortiumnews was one outlet that took on the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Yes, we were outgunned. Despite showing that Webb was not only right but actually understated the problem of Contra-cocaine trafficking, we still could not save Webb from having his career destroyed and then watching the big newspapers essentially high-five each other for having helped cover up a serious crime of state.

The Three Crimes of the POTUS #43 (Secret Service called him Trailblazer)

I am not going astray here, kind reader. What Steven talked a lot about on the Ralph Nader podcast was how that same media, the So-called Liberal Press, has virtually gone silent on his book, a type of passive censorship that can eat at the soul of any author.

In reality, the “case against Bush” is the case against mainstream media/press and their close ties to not just the chambers of power, but within their “embeddedness,” inside the ranks, as well as their allegiance to, and participation in, the national security state’s various bureaus of hit men and hit women.

When I finished the book, I offered the book to everybody that I had quoted, which was… around ninety authors. I offered it to Condoleezza Rice, I offered it to Dick Cheney, I offered it to the [George W.] Bush [Presidential] Library. I haven’t heard from one person about the book.

— Steven Markoff stated on Nader’s show.

Interestingly, Markoff incorporates Richard Clarke’s words as a preface to this book. Clarke actually strips culpability from Rumsfeld, Cheney, and others laying the blame on Bush personally. Here, early in Markoff’s book, Clarke puts it clearly in his mind.

While I may be considered by some to be prejudiced in my judgment, there are facts that any objective observer must accept.

• First, Bush ignored warnings about the serious threat from Al Qaeda prior to 9/11.
• Second, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in violation of international law, when Iraq had been uninvolved in 9/11 and offered no imminent threat to the United States.
• Third, Bush authorized the use of torture and denied prisoners due process, both acts in violation of international law.

Note that in each case I say that Bush did these things, not the Bush administration. There is a revisionist school that seeks to place the blame on Bush’s vice president, Richard B. Cheney. While there can be little doubt that Cheney encouraged Bush to take many of these actions, it is not true that the president was merely a tool of a mendacious and scheming subordinate.

The evidence is now clear that Bush agreed with his vice president and knew full well what he was doing. He was an enthusiastic participant, a believer in the war on terror and the war on Iraq. It is true, however, that he did not master or manage the details of either war until the last few years of his eight-year presidency.

— Richard A. Clarke, in the Forward of Markoff’s book.

[In 1992, President George H. W. Bush appointed Richard A. Clarke to chair the Counterterrorism Security Group and to a seat on the United States National Security Council. President Bill Clinton retained Clarke and in 1998 promoted him to the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism. Under President George W. Bush, Clarke initially continued in the same position and later became the special advisor to the president on cyber security. He left his government position prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.]

Markoff uses Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, as a touchstone of sorts. That was in 2007.

Importantly, Clarke had the necessary government background, involvement, and position to know about what he wrote. When I finished Clarke’s book, I was shocked. Could Bush have really disregarded threats of bin Laden and Al-Qaeda prior to 9/11? If so, was there a compelling reason that Bush spent his political capital and energy going after Hussein? Could it be that George W. Bush’s Iraq War was about oil?

It occurred to me that while Clarke seemed knowledgeable about terrorists, 9/11, and the run up to our 2003 invasion of Iraq, he was just one person, and his knowledge was limited to what he had personally seen and learned.

I thought that if I combined details from Clarke’s book with related information from other diverse sources with inside or special knowledge of those times and places, that combined information could produce new and clearer insights about 9/11 and the Iraq War. I then set out to find what additional facts and information were available on those and related topics.

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

Torture, Rendition, Yellow Cake, WMD’s

I remember protesting U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales June 27, 2007, in Spokane, when he showed up to talk about his department under Bush. Many of us were there to protest publicly Gonzales and the Bush administration, for many things, including that 2002 memo written by Gonzales that said Bush had the right to waive anti-torture laws and treaties that protect prisoners of war.

Oh, the long arm of the “law” that Wednesday afternoon took a good friend down to the ground, arborist Dan Treecraft. He did nothing wrong, but Dan along with another person, was arrested for public disturbance.

I was there with students of mine from two community colleges where I taught, and alas, even those two respective presidents and chairs of the department where I taught thought they had the right to tell a faculty member what he could and couldn’t do as part of a class assignment on “what it’s like to come out and protest a representative of your/our government who states torture is okay.”

Ironically, he was in Spokane to talk about “gang enforcement,” and Gonzales  wasn’t alluding to the biggest continuing criminal enterprise Gang called the United States of America.

Steve’s book is a guide, a probable pathway for lawmakers, voters, and others, including the Press, to ratchet up the attention on George W. Bush the War Criminal, and to put to rest the fawning and ameliorating reputation of Bush as The Painter (sic) Friend of Michelle Obama and Ellen.

The kicker in Markoff’s book, says it all, quite damningly, but the reality is that the War is a Racket machine is a very fine tuned complex – Big Business Complex: Burger King, et al; Home Depot, et al; Mercenaries ‘R Us, et al; paint, air conditioning, roads, drywall, vehicles, depleted uranium, fuel, water, food suppliers, et al; all those financial products, that medical complex et al; Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Chemical, Big Prison et al, all in the manner of the for-profit system that is subsidized – welfare-ized – by the US taxpayer. Insanity we have already seen in other wars, and that War on Vietnam, not enough lessons learned there? I’ve been up close and personal with that war, in Vietnam as a civilian, and as a son of a wounded regular Army officer, social worker for wounded veterans, homeless vets and their families, instructor of college writing for Vietnam veterans.

There is no urban legend attributed to those $200 hammers and $600 toilet seats and $2000 each bolts holding the shrouding of Patriot missiles. War is graft central, and how many millionaires and billionaires were created after World War I? Read General Butler’s, War is a Racket.

Evidence of Crimes as Eight Bullet Points

This shit is personal to me, as well, since I have had friends and students coming back from Bush’s wars, full of trauma, fucked up beyond repair, walking PTSD warriors with all that resentment, anger and physical outbursts, and nowhere to go. Here is Steve’s book, again, near the end:

Could the following quote from Payback, a book by David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton, in part on the strategy of redirected aggression, explain Bush’s taking our country to war on his misleading and false premises?

“George W. Bush and his Administration were not stooges at all, but quite brilliant. They read the need of most Americans at the time: to hit someone, hard, so as to redirect their suffering and anger [from 9/11]. The evidence is overwhelming that for the Bush Administration’s ‘neocons,’ the September 11 attacks were not the reason for the Iraq War; rather, it was a convenient excuse for doing something upon which they had already decided. Their accomplishment—if such is the correct word—was identifying the post-9/11 mood of the American people, and manipulating this mood, brilliantly, toward war.”

It’s difficult to fathom the extent of the death and destruction caused by George W. Bush’s three crimes, but his legacy of death and destruction are of Olympic proportions.

  •  An estimated 2,977 people killed by the attacks on 9/11, and thousands more injured or incapacitated that day. In addition, hundreds if not thousands have died and will die early from the toxic air from the collapse of the Twin Towers and its aftermath.
  • By one count, there were 4,400 United States personnel killed and 30,000 wounded in the Iraq War as of August 31, 2010; tens of thousands more wounded physically and emotionally crippled by participating in that war; millions of Americans and their families destroyed, devastated, and/or traumatized by 9/11 and Bush’s 2003 Iraq War.
  •  As many as 650,000 deaths or more from Bush’s Iraq War, deaths that wouldn’t have occurred but for that war.
  •  Many of our civil rights, and the civil rights of others around the world, were curtailed due to the fear created by 9/11, a fear used by some as an opportunity to weaken our liberties.
  •  Three to seven trillion dollars in costs to our country from 9/11 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Those unnecessary trillions were and will be added to our national debt, a sum burdening our future, the future of our children, and perhaps of generations to come.
  •  Bush’s torture of prisoners puts American soldiers captured in future wars at greater risk of being tortured.
  •  The loss of America’s prestige and moral authority from Bush’s unnecessary Iraq War and torturing prisoners will hurt our country in the years ahead.
  •  Sixteen different US spy agencies on September 24, 2006, concluded that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq since March 2003 has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicals— effectively increasing the terror threat in the years after 9/11—and that the Bush administration tortured detainees and that torture wasn’t effective in securing intel otherwise unavailable.

Because America invaded a sovereign country without credible reason and tortured prisoners, how can we say without hypocrisy that other countries shouldn’t do the same to other nations or to us? What moral authority do we have to tell others it is wrong to torture?

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

Pretty damning, and as I file this review/analysis/rant, that W is at it again, and his stupidity is the stunt, no, smart as a fox, or pet-painting war criminal?

George W Bush shakes hands with Condoleezza Rice in Washington DC on 5 January 2006.

In a People interview, the former president said he told his former secretary of state he had written for her. “She knows it,” said Bush, 74, “But she told me she would refuse to accept the office.”

Bush has been doing press to support the release of his book, Out of Many, One, which features his painted portraits of American immigrants and the stories of their lives.

He called current-day Republicans “isolationist, protectionist, and, to a certain extent, nativist.”

“Really what I should have said — there’s loud voices who are isolationists, protectionists and nativists, something, by the way, I talked about when I was president,” Bush said. “My concerns [are] about those -isms, but I painted with too broad a brush … because by saying what I said, it excluded a lot of Republicans who believe we can fix the problem.”

Shadow of War — Ghosts of the Dead

We’ll see if People magazine interviews Markoff, and gets a bit under the skin of his fine book, all 360 pages, with a decent bibliography and works cited section.

His conclusion:

Regardless of how I or others see what I submit are Bush’s criminal acts, some will continue to argue that while he wasn’t a perfect president, at least he rid the world of the tyrant, Hussein. Yes, he did, but for what reason, by what method, and at what cost?

In addition to the unnecessary deaths and wounding of thousands of brave Americans, hundreds of thousands of others died and were injured from Bush’s unnecessary Iraq invasion. The trillions of dollars Bush’s war has cost has and will continue to be added to our national debt. A debt saddling our future.

In conclusion, I believe the evidence in this book shows Bush’s three crimes were reckless, dishonest, and tragically unnecessary.

I rest my case.

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

Of course, there are gross inaccuracies when it comes to US-induced casualties, and the first casualty of war is truth, for sure:

Of the countries where the U.S. and its allies have been waging war since 2001, Iraq is the only one where epidemiologists have actually conducted comprehensive mortality studies based on the best practices that they have developed in war zones such as Angola, Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda. In all these countries, as in Iraq, the results of comprehensive epidemiological studies revealed 5 to 20 times more deaths than previously published figures based on “passive” reporting by journalists, NGOs or governments.

Taking ORB’s estimate of 1.033 million killed by June 2007, then applying a variation of Just Foreign Policy’s methodology from July 2007 to the present using revised figures from Iraq Body Count, we estimate that 2.4 million Iraqis have been killed since 2003 as a result of our country’s illegal invasion, with a minimum of 1.5 million and a maximum of 3.4 million.

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies, March 19, 2018

main article image

[Civil protection rescue teams work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the body of people killed in an airstrike during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants on the western side of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)]

For Markoff, it’s the lives that were destroyed by Bush. That is the echo in his words, and the ghosts of those murdered are the shadows between the lines in The Case Against George W. Bush. 

Roots of Zionism and U.S. Liberty to Iraq and Now Iran

Alas, I am ending this analysis/response to Markoff’s book, The Case Against George W. Bush, by slogging through another quagmire, and then some reference to books on just who was lobbying to attack Iraq. We have Markoff trying to open up a case against W. Bush, and his book is clear, focused, not one we’d expect in the pantheon of history books or investigative research/journalistic screeds.

Some writers, thinkers, educators and journalists (such as myself), however, were already looking into the scope of this terror campaign, the implications of US Patriot Act, the entire mess that is Israel’s murderous mucking about in the Middle East with Israel-Firster American corporate heads, administration wonks, politicians and more clandestine and nefarious actors behind the scenes, supreme puppet masters and Svengali types.

All those Israeli wars led to the destruction of Lebanon, Syria and the biggest obstacle at the time, Iraq.

And, here I go again, tangentially putting more fuel into the fires that immolated Iraq and which have blazed through the Middle East before and during and since W. Bush and his Klan invaded the Middle East.

Here, I reference a recent piece by Timothy Alexander Guzman who briefly alludes to the AIPAC/Israel/Israel-firster connection to the invasion(s) of Iraq in his piece, “The Prospect of a Major False-Flag Operation in the Middle-East Grows by the Day: Remembering June 8th, 1967 the Day Israel Attacked the USS Liberty: “It’s was all part of the long-term plan and Iraq was part of that plan, in fact, the most powerful lobby in Washington is AIPAC and the Bush neoconservatives including Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, Elliot Abrams and others who pushed Washington into a war with Iraq. According to John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)  was a major supporter for the War on Iraq”:

AIPAC usually supports what Israel wants, and Israel certainly wanted the United States to invade Iraq. Nathan Guttman made this very connection in his reporting [in Haaretz, April 2003] on AIPAC’s annual conference in the spring of 2003, shortly after the war started: “AIPAC is wont to support whatever is good for Israel, and so long as Israel supports the war, so too do the thousands of the AIPAC lobbyists who convened in the American capital.” AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr’s statement to the New York Sun in January 2003 is even more revealing, as he acknowledged “‘quietly’ lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq” was one of “AIPAC’s successes over the past year.” And in a lengthy New Yorker profile of Steven J. Rosen, who was AIPAC’s policy director during the run-up to the Iraq war, Jeffrey Goldberg reported that “AIPAC lobbied Congress in favor of the Iraq war.”

— John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

 

Liberty Survivors Say US Still Downplays Israel's Attack on Ship | Military.com

[Oh, that anniversary, of the attack by Israel on the Liberty, June 8th (1967)]

I suppose this entire mess that Markoff catalogues in his book, as a triumvirate of crimes by George W. Bush, could for me, personally, be summed up, in my mind, with President George W. Bush, speaking at the annual AIPAC conference in May of 2004:

You’ve always understood and warned against the evil ambition of terrorism and their networks. In a dangerous new century, your work is more vital than ever.

Steven Markoff doesn’t go there, for sure, and that is what makes Markoff’s book unique, too:  a clean record of the mess and blunder and murderous trail George W. Bush left in his wake as leader of the so-called “free world.”

The post W’s Chickens Coming Home to Roost, yet the Media Cocks Aren’t Crowing first appeared on Dissident Voice.

A Knee on the Neck of Long-term Political Prisoners

The line between clearly defined political prisoners and prisoners targeted to make points for the political power structure is hidden. Criminalization is a standard tool of racial supremacists. George Floyd’s death is familiar a thousand times over because it restates the predominant ethic of law enforcement’s historical treatment of a minority population as revealed in the examples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton.

But consider the less well known and large number of former Black Panther and other community activists serving intolerable prison terms which have taken away their normal lives in trials that can’t match objective standards of justice or international law. Guilty verdicts thrived on the targeting mechanisms of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation, withheld testimony, ‘bought’ witnesses, rights violations, and obvious misidentifications suggesting that U.S. law enforcement has a difficulty telling black people apart. At particular risk of injustice were those who converted to Islam and were targeted for destruction.

Two troubling examples: (aka Hubert Gerold Brown) Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin was a target of CONTELPRO. It’s hard to explore the facts and conviction in his case without understanding that another has confessed to the crime he was convicted of and the crime’s perpetrator as described by witnesses bore little resemblance to Al-Amin. The likelihood of his innocence becomes law enforcement’s shame. Serving a sentence of life without parole, afflicted after confinement with a rare form of bone cancer, an imam deprived of his community, Al Amin’s most recent appeal to the Supreme Court was denied in April 2020.

Consider Jeff Fort (aka Abdul Malik Ka’bah) of Chicago, whose case and 168 year sentence have become so buried in history the reader may not have heard of him. Fort, a founder of Chicago’s Blackstone Rangers, the Black P. Stones, and El Rukn, is considered the first American convicted on charges of terrorism. His life is the story of a community leader and gang leader, surviving under the knee of supremacist law enforcement which made its final judgement with the intentionally unbearable sentences he currently serves. Wikipedia notes that currently he’s confined at the Florence Colorado supermax since 2006 under a “no-human contact order since his arrival.” An alternative judgement to law enforcement’s was his mother’s, quoted here from an ancient piece (“The Making of Jeff Fort,” 1988) by Tom Brune and James Ylisela, who wrote:

Fort’s mother recited parables. “We lived on 63rd Street, and there was an alley you could go through. In those days, it wasn’t dope fiends, it was old men being wineheads. I would cook [for her ten children] and when I would go into the parlor and sit down and come back, all my food is gone. I’m thinking somebody’s coming in getting my food. I didn’t have no dream that it was Jeff taking the food out there and feeding those people.

“He was out there, giving all of them a plate. He just couldn’t stand seeing people hungry. I just sat there and tears ran down. I said, ‘This child is an unusual child.’

Former Los Angeles Black Panther Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald died March 28, 2021, shackled in hospital following his second stroke. He served over fifty years of two life sentences and was eligible for parole. There was and remains more than reasonable doubt of his guilt in the crimes he was charged with.

Sentenced to fifty years for knocking the gun out of a police officer’s hand in Texas, Xinachtli (aka Alvaro Luna Hernandez) is eligible for parole July 18, 2021.

Finally released from 49 years in prison after eleven denials of parole, Jalil Muntaqim, tried to register to vote but technically before he was eligible to vote again. Arrested on charges connected to voter fraud, the charges were pressed by the District Attorney which would have returned Muntaqim to prison for the rest of his life but the country grand jury refused to indict him.

A veteran of military service in Germany and Vietnam and a former Black Panther leader in Omaha, Edward Poindexter, is serving the fiftieth year of a life sentence in Nebraska’s State Penitentiary for alleged involvement in bombing a policeman. There is a strong possibility that Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, (AKA David Rice) his co-convicted, were and are entirely innocent. Mondo we Langa has already died in prison. Poindexter, a diabetic with triple-bypass heart surgery and a eye cataract, uses a wheelchair. Petitions continue to urge the Nebraska Pardons Board to commute Poindexter’s sentence to time already served.

Imprisoned since 1973, under a life sentence, a model prisoner without betraying his beliefs Sundiata Acoli (Clark Edward Squire) is still held in prison and denied the parole he was first eligible for in 1992. The mechanism of his incarceration could be one of vengeance and extra-judicial punishment to extract information. The legal system apparently considers him to have information about the escape from prison to Cuba of Assata Shakur. Marilyn Buck, considered an accomplice to Ms. Shakur’s escape was released from prison to die from a cancer which was too slow to be treated at federal Prison in California. Dr. Mutulu Shakur, considered the escape’s mastermind has been fighting cancer after repeated unjust denials of parole and release. Acoli at 84 has had COVID and suffers from dementia among other illnesses. A petition to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy asks to commute the sentence and bring Sundiata Acoli home. It is hard enough to be an elder outside of prison.

With a judicial ruling allowing a review of previously filed appeals in his case, Mumia Abu Jamal’s current attorneys have filed actions supporting his claims. Recently he was shackled during his hospitalization for COVID and congestive heart failure. He has also reported an excruciating skin condition. In a letter published in The Jamal Journal urging protest of medical neglect in the treatment of Mumia Abu Jamal, Ramona Africa cites medical neglect as contributing factors in the deaths of Delbert Africa, Phil Africa, and Merle Africa. (see the Move 9).

North Americans rarely speak of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, born in Pakistan, a Muslim mother and neuroscientist who studied at the University of Houston Texas, then transferred to take her BA from M.I.T., and PhD from Brandeis. Her field of expertise included areas of biological warfare and viruses and all information about her could be ‘constructed’. She was a terrorist suspect wanted by the FBI for questioning when she was disappeared in Pakistan, March 2003. She was subsequently identified as prisoner 650 held at Bagram Air Force Base. Prisoner 650 was reportedly continuously raped by the prison officers at Bagram. There is strong evidence she was tortured. She has claimed she was kidnapped by the intelligence agencies of the U.S. and Pakistan. Shortly after being reported as in American custody for four years, in 2008 she reappeared with her son at age 12 to be arrested in Afghanistan on suspicion of terrorism. In 2010 she was tried and sentenced in New York City to eighty-six years in prison for allegedly attempting to shoot at the entourage of U.S. military and law enforcement personnel which held her prisoner under detention in 2008. U.S. personnel were untouched by bullets. Dr. Siddiqui was shot in the torso. With no powder marks from firing a weapon on her clothes or self, evidence against her is non-existent, far-fetched, and unlikely. Her family fears she has been tortured within the U.S. prison system. She is said to have been in solitary confinement for twelve years. Incarcerated at Carswell Medical prison, she has refused to see lawyers and communicate with her family. Two of her children survived her initial arrest in 2003 and were held in criminal circumstances. Her son Muhammad, age seven at arrest in 2003, was reportedly kept in F.B.I. custody from 2003 to 2009. Her daughter Mariam, age five at arrest was reportedly kept in a “cold dark room” at Bagram Air Force base before return to the Siddiqui family in 2010. A third child, Suleman was only six months old when taken from his mother and was never returned and is feared dead. The facts of Dr. Siddiqui’s case are so publicly outrageous that either she was pre-empted for covert uses by U.S. and allied intelligence operations or elements of the war on terror are run by Nazis.

There’s an absence of mercy in unbearable sentences.

The post A Knee on the Neck of Long-term Political Prisoners first appeared on Dissident Voice.

How to Respond to the Evils of Our Age

The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.—Martin Luther King Jr. (A Knock at Midnight, June 11, 1967)

In every age, we find ourselves wrestling with the question of how Jesus Christ—the itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist who died challenging the police state of his time, namely, the Roman Empire—would respond to the moral questions of our day.

For instance, would Jesus advocate, as so many evangelical Christian leaders have done in recent years, for congregants to “submit to your leaders and those in authority,” which in the American police state translates to complying, conforming, submitting, obeying orders, deferring to authority and generally doing whatever a government official tells you to do?

What would Jesus do?

Study the life and teachings of Jesus, and you may be surprised at how relevant he is to our modern age.

A radical nonconformist who challenged authority at every turn, Jesus spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire, and providing a blueprint for standing up to tyranny that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him.

Those living through this present age of government lockdowns, immunity passports, militarized police, SWAT team raids, police shootings of unarmed citizens, roadside strip searches, invasive surveillance and the like might feel as if these events are unprecedented. However, the characteristics of a police state and its reasons for being are no different today than they were in Jesus’ lifetime: control, power and money.

Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day was characterized by secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars, a military empire, martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state.

A police state extends far beyond the actions of law enforcement.  In fact, a police state “is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”

Indeed, the police state in which Jesus lived (and died) and its striking similarities to modern-day America are beyond troubling.

Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the elite. As the chasm between the wealthy and poor grew wider in the Roman Empire, the ruling class and the wealthy class became synonymous, while the lower classes, increasingly deprived of their political freedoms, grew disinterested in the government and easily distracted by “bread and circuses.” Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. The resulting state-wide surveillance was primarily carried out by the military, which acted as investigators, enforcers, torturers, policemen, executioners and jailers. Today that role is fulfilled by the NSA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the increasingly militarized police forces across the country.

Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants for minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud.

Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government. As states and localities are brought under direct control by federal agencies and regulations, a sense of learned helplessness grips the nation.

Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist ethos provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well. In addition to significant foreign threats, wars were waged against inchoate, unstructured and socially inferior foes.

Martial law. Eventually, Rome established a permanent military dictatorship that left the citizens at the mercy of an unreachable and oppressive totalitarian regime. In the absence of resources to establish civic police forces, the Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict or upheaval in provinces, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their martial law training drills on American soil, militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.

A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. The insurrectionist was seen as directly challenging the Emperor.  A “bandit,” or revolutionist, was seen as capable of overturning the empire, was always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment. Bandits were usually punished publicly and cruelly as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state.  Jesus’ execution was one such public punishment.

Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Starting with his act of civil disobedience at the Jewish temple, the site of the administrative headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, Jesus branded himself a political revolutionary. When Jesus “with the help of his disciples, blocks the entrance to the courtyard” and forbids “anyone carrying goods for sale or trade from entering the Temple,” he committed a blatantly criminal and seditious act, an act “that undoubtedly precipitated his arrest and execution.” Because the commercial events were sponsored by the religious hierarchy, which in turn was operated by consent of the Roman government, Jesus’ attack on the money chargers and traders can be seen as an attack on Rome itself, an unmistakable declaration of political and social independence from the Roman oppression.

Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Jesus’ arrest account testifies to the fact that the Romans perceived Him as a revolutionary. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers.  Rather than merely asking for Jesus when they came to arrest him, his pursuers collaborated beforehand with Judas. Acting as a government informant, Judas concocted a kiss as a secret identification marker, hinting that a level of deception and trickery must be used to obtain this seemingly “dangerous revolutionist’s” cooperation.

Torture and capital punishment. In Jesus’ day, religious preachers, self-proclaimed prophets and nonviolent protesters were not summarily arrested and executed. Indeed, the high priests and Roman governors normally allowed a protest, particularly a small-scale one, to run its course. However, government authorities were quick to dispose of leaders and movements that appeared to threaten the Roman Empire. The charges leveled against Jesus—that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King—were purely political, not religious. To the Romans, any one of these charges was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for slaves, non-Romans, radicals, revolutionaries and the worst criminals.

Jesus was presented to Pontius Pilate “as a disturber of the political peace,” a leader of a rebellion, a political threat, and most gravely—a claimant to kingship, a “king of the revolutionary type.” After Jesus is formally condemned by Pilate, he is sentenced to death by crucifixion, “the Roman means of executing criminals convicted of high treason.”  The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal, as it was an immensely public statement intended to visually warn all those who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was reserved solely for the most extreme political crimes: treason, rebellion, sedition, and banditry. After being ruthlessly whipped and mocked, Jesus was nailed to a cross.

As Professor Mark Lewis Taylor observed:

The cross within Roman politics and culture was a marker of shame, of being a criminal. If you were put to the cross, you were marked as shameful, as criminal, but especially as subversive. And there were thousands of people put to the cross. The cross was actually positioned at many crossroads, and, as New Testament scholar Paula Fredricksen has reminded us, it served as kind of a public service announcement that said, “Act like this person did, and this is how you will end up.”

Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, controlling people, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government but because he undercut their claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so could—and often did—cost a person his life.

Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics.

Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.

Ultimately, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus—the one who stood up to the Roman Empire and was crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be—is to be an example for our modern age.

After all, there is so much suffering and injustice in the world, and so much good that can be done by those who truly aspire to follow Jesus Christ’s example.

We must decide whether we will follow the path of least resistance—willing to turn a blind eye to what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the “evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination, to the moral degeneracy of religious bigotry and the corroding effects of narrow sectarianism, to economic conditions that deprive men of work and food, and to the insanities of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence”—or whether we will be transformed nonconformists “dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

As King explained in a powerful sermon delivered in 1954, “This command not to conform comes … [from] Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.”

Furthermore:

We need to recapture the gospel glow of the early Christians, who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word and refused to shape their witness according to the mundane patterns of the world.  Willingly they sacrificed fame, fortune, and life itself in behalf of a cause they knew to be right.  Quantitatively small, they were qualitatively giants.  Their powerful gospel put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests.  Finally, they captured the Roman Empire for Jesus Christ… The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.  The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists.  In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!

…Honesty impels me to admit that transformed nonconformity, which is always costly and never altogether comfortable, may mean walking through the valley of the shadow of suffering, losing a job, or having a six-year-old daughter ask, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?”  But we are gravely mistaken to think that Christianity protects us from the pain and agony of mortal existence.  Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear.  To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through suffering.

In these days of worldwide confusion, there is a dire need for men and women who will courageously do battle for truth.  We must make a choice. Will we continue to march to the drumbeat of conformity and respectability, or will we, listening to the beat of a more distant drum, move to its echoing sounds?  Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul saving music of eternity?

The post How to Respond to the Evils of Our Age first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Mechanism of Invisible Hand, Invisible Cage, and Invisible Empire over Humanity and Nature

When the whole society becomes a theater of absurdity, the puppeteers become kings and queens of insanity. The society loses its logic, history, facts, honesty, sincerity, creativity and imagination, as the monstrous imaginations of the insane kings and queens devour humanity and nature.

The invisible cage of authoritarianism comes in the shape of a bottomless pyramid.  Fear and hopelessness fill the dimly lit bottom layers. Layers and layers separate us, alienate us and dehumanize us. The​ pain of “others” becomes your gain.  The power of oppressors becomes your safety: The safety of living in the dangerous imaginations of the kings and queens.

But​ such a thought vanishes as quickly as our minds get flooded back with the numbing noises of the insane theater, while our remaining logic, seriousness and honesty are ridiculed and attacked by fearful fellow humans with cynicism, hopelessness and cowardliness.

The world doesn’t look like that at all for those who belong to the club of kings and queens. The unruly mass with no understanding of the righteous path of “humanity” has been inherently expendable for them. This has been shown over and over: colonization of natives by Europeans, enslavement of African people, genocides of many sorts.

But one also sees the same blunt inhumanity embedded among us today:  homelessness, deaths by treatable diseases, hunger, deaths by substance abuse, suicide, poverty, refugees, mass incarceration, state violence, the psychological torture of alienation.  The kings and queens don’t recognize those as issues to be solved with their resources.  Instead those issues represent forms of punishment for those who fail to secure viable positions within the capitalist hierarchy.  The fear of the punishment and the fear of the authority work together to lock us in positions in the hierarchy, forcing us to protect our positions which systemically and structurally threaten our well-being 24/7; we live in a system of structural extortion.

As we have become free-range people in the “divine farm” of modern-day kings and queens, we have lost our access to the fundamental material reality. A sterile cage with screens, mandatory injections, electronic tracking within the invisible fence; human mice for profits, feed for data harvesting, an ever greater degree of spiritual death. It is not hard to start connecting the dots to see how things can lead into a grim future.

But what does such a fear do to the population, which has tolerated an assortment of abuses as their “punishment”? To those who manage to ignore their fellow humans living on the streets as invisible beings or fail to feel the pain of those being cornered into substance use and desperate acts of self-destruction?

Would they believe the words of those who question, or the words of the ruling class promising a glorious future of AI, green capitalism, genetic engineering, digitization and financialization?

And before we ask such a question, one must wonder if such a question is even allowed when the socioeconomic/political trajectory of the empire has been firmly within the imperial framework of the two capitalist political parties.

The capitalist hierarchy absorbs what it needs by allocating special positions within it:  Natural resources, narratives, facts, history, people, political ideologies or anything that sits in time and space.  The kings and queens monopolize them— material resources as well as people with skills and knowledge are captured to serve.  Once monopolized, the valued items are commodified, to be distributed in ways that benefit those same kings and queens.

Meanwhile such a process occurs in layers and layers, projecting myths, exploitative narratives, false history and erroneous facts onto our collective consciousness—a fake reality which covers our eyes while we push our mortal bodies around in the real world.

The images projected onto our psyche vary according to our positions in the hierarchy.  Each narrative validates and justifies our positions in the hierarchy. Kings and queens find themselves to be worthy rulers of the universe, while the masses see themselves as freedom loving people who do their best in a world of opportunities.

In such an equation authoritarianism presents itself as a swinging pendulum between fascism and social democracy as it moves forward on the capitalist path in space and time.  The carrot and stick carefully manage projected images to stay within the capitalist framework of acceptable ideas. Corporate politics and corporate activism play crucial roles in making the pendulum swing, therefore ensuring that the capitalist interests always go forward while appearing to be “democratic”.

Those who rely on terrorist tactics of various sorts attempt to resist the system by attacking the valuable, captured elements that work for the system.  The damage compromises social dynamics in ways that deprive those who are already deprived, while dividing the population that should be uniting to dismantle the oppressive system.

Guided by agent provocateurs and corporate NGOs, righteous anger against oppressors turns into a justification for draconian measures, destruction of communities for urban renewal, and a catalyst for new projects of exploitation.

As a set of capitalist imperatives pushes the capitalist contradiction to the limit, completely depriving people’s ability to reconcile the false perceptions and the material reality, it is time for an urgent mobilization to change the trajectory of exploitation into a new field with a new set of rules.  We are told that enemies are coming, a natural disaster is coming or a disease is coming, forcing us to mobilize ourselves to adjust to a new path of plundering for the kings and queens.

Any crisis, real or not, against the backdrop of a hierarchical structure imposes two sets of momentum that keep us within the capitalist farm. The first set has to do with fear of the authority, which keeps our frustration directed against ourselves, each other and oppressed “others”.  The second set has to do with the material constraints imposed by the particular crisis—we become enemies to each other fighting among ourselves to survive.  We are put in the capitalist cage. And we are forced to protect our cage, which is constructed with vertical strength to withstand fear of the authority, horizontal strength to withstand  attacks by competitors, and a solid floor to prevent one from falling down from the position in the hierarchy.

“The Great Reset”

“The Great Reset” is packaged as a “great solution”.  Just like how the ruling class has marketed “green capitalism”—carbon trading, carbon capture, reforestation, and other resource exhausting green schemes and technologies for profit, it’s designed to prop up capitalism but it is also intended to transform capitalism to have more effective control of social relations while keeping the capitalist hierarchy intact.  Capitalism is getting a new OS, and it needs to be restarted.  Just as “green capitalism” has destroyed real environmentalism in the name of saving the planet, it is designed to destroy anti-capitalist activism in the name of “revolution”.

One of the prominent leftist tools under a capitalist framework has been grass roots activism to affect state regulations and state guidelines to contain momentums of exploitation and subjugation created by Wall Street as well as capitalist social institutions.  The stock market guided economy (falsely advertised as the only system that works) allows the ruling class to dominate social policies according to their interests; it prioritizes ruling class wealth accumulation while sacrificing social relations among the general population; it is extremely inefficient, unstable and economically unjust. The capitalist state has been a great tool in ensuring the interests of the ruling class to be a priority. The socialist revolution takes over the capitalist state, it nationalizes corporate entities and sets up the economy, education and the rest of social institutions and social relations to be guided by people’s interests.  Various incarnations of the above strategies to counter capitalist exploitation and encroaching imperial hegemony have attempted to do two major things. First, they have prioritized people’s interests by emphasizing projects that benefit the general population while providing social safety nets, infrastructure for the people, environmental regulations and so on. Second, they have allowed economic activities based on people’s needs which can grow organic community dynamics based on humanity and nature.

“The Great Reset,” on the other hand, is a project of the ruling class meant to take away those measures from the people and utilize them to further solidify their dominance over the people.  Since the owners of the farm are plenty rich already, they won’t need a big farm. Their social engineering skills as well as the greater control over the economy will be put to a test in building a sustainable farming business with a smaller herd.

This is why it seems that all activism has turned into enforcing or defying the various virus lockdown measures which have been instrumental in enforcing the trajectory of “The Great Reset.” Remember how all environmental activism was swallowed by the single idea of reducing carbon emission? Fearmongering slogans of apocalyptic narratives involving climate change, strong NGO guided activism, and corporate science emphasizing the topic of global warming have created the huge snowballing momentum to fight climate change at all costs, sidelining and co-opting all other important environmental activism. This has also contributed to the idea that it is no longer relevant to insist on being a part of systematic efforts in dismantling the capitalist system and building an alternate system which allows humanity and nature to prevail in harmony;  we are told that we don’t have time to build socialism anymore. We are encouraged to be a part of green solutions by the capitalists as a result.

We are being told that casino capitalism for profits must end to introduce “stakeholder capitalism”.  But of course, since the notion is coming from the profiteers who have colonized, corporatized, militarized and financialized, we can presume that they are talking about ensuring their own interests by directly guiding the economic decisions instead of continuing the show called the economy by the “invisible hand.” We are told that we should be provided with universal basic income, free housing and other social services as long as we follow the regulations and policies of public-private partnership.  What sort of conditioning will we be subjected to after being deprived of our inherent relationships to ourselves, to each other, to our communities and to nature, forced to be a part of destructive industrial farming, digitalization of everything with massive resource extraction, colonization of our communities with multinational franchises and enslavement of our souls in the invisible cage of indoctrination and propaganda?  We already have such a system in the US—it’s called mass incarceration in the private prison system.  We are being told that the economy must not be merely guided by growth and it must be replaced by a sustainable one.  However, coming from those who have greatly restricted meaningful economic growth among the general population in order to subject livelihoods to the brutal capitalist framework, what they really mean is to restrict productive social relations among the people so that they must subsist with bare minimum requirements, eventually cornered to be a smaller herd, more manageable with less resources—an economic solution which can only be conceived by criminal minds. Who knows what role vaccines will play in it.  Who knows what sort of living hell people will be subjected to as our lives are treated like numbers in high frequency trading, or our entire lives are put on hold by AI customer representatives.

Note how the policies will be designed to be achieved by co-opting leftist agendas.  The invisible hand has been busy building a brand new invisible cage to perpetuate the violent reign of kings and queens in the name of “revolution”—a fascist revolution that is.

Now, I would like to emphasize that these trajectories are not set in stone. The problem is that those possibilities are highly unlikely to be examined by concerned people within the capitalist framework. There is a structural problem in the system. Let me go back to the pendulum.  Just like any other capitalist social institution, the capitalist political institution serves the ruling class;  it can serve as a crime laundering devise. As soon as a topic involving criminal activities is destined to be “political”—it dissociates itself from criminal elements and becomes “legitimate”. Various social institutions kick in to support such a view since they are all funded by the ruling class—media presents it as such, legislature codifies it as such, executive branch executes it as such, judicial branch judges it as such, academics support it as such, educational institution cements it as such and so on. It becomes normalized to be a part of social policies. Once the topic is on the political table embellished with a glorious history and myths of the nationhood of the United States of America, the topic becomes officially “political”, not criminal, and it is now safely and generously handled by the corporate entities.

The rendered topic floats in an artificial realm of political myths, tradition, and the gladiator battle culture of political authorities as a commodified symbol representing a fictitious version of the actual topic. Ordinary people can’t approach it coherently for what it is anymore unless they are rich and influential enough to access all moneyed social institutions.  Moreover, all the criminal records of officials are discarded, forgiven and forgotten as a new regime comes in every four years.

This is how destructive foreign policies of colonialism, corporatism and militarism, and exploitative predatory domestic policies of all sorts have been implemented against people in the name of freedom, justice and humanity.  This is how environmental concerns have turned into “green capitalism”.  This is how we are being mobilized today under the guise of virus lockdowns.

People watch and cheer the pendulum swing between political extremes within the capitalist framework.  Bits and pieces of awareness beyond the imperial framework can only be perceived with tools approved by the framework, effectively keeping those with the awareness within the ideas of the ruling class.  If you hold a world view that does not fit in it, you end up being categorized as a supporter of a political villain or simply labeled as “fascist”, “communist” and so on.  Needless to say those terms are solely defined by acceptable ideas, acceptable history and acceptable myths of the capitalist hegemony.  The fact that the US government has supported fascist regimes across the globe while brutally intervening against socialist countries across the globe won’t be admitted for instance.

How Capitalist Hierarchy Shapes Ideas

If one holds a view that defies the prevalent narrative, the individual can become a target of the authority as well as a target of multiple political extremes within the capitalist hegemony.  For instance, if you oppose Israeli war crimes from an anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist position, you can be persecuted as a dissident by the establishment, while being labeled as anti-Semitic by supporters of Israeli policies. (You may also be labeled a Zionist shill by those who believe that Jews are taking over the world and so on).  The position that points out that Israel is a crucial part of the imperial structure, serving the imperial hierarchy while benefiting from its generous support, cannot be fully discussed due to how narratives are formed by the network of the imperial institutions.

The political pendulum doesn’t only create an illusion of “democracy”, it also defines what is acceptable while tearing communities apart. It utilizes its violence as a springboard to perpetuate and strengthen its grip on the exploited. That’s why the living hell for Palestinian people keeps functioning as a devise for imperialism—the more Palestinians suffer, the more anti-Semitic sentiment emerges, which in turn justifies Israeli violence, which in turn serves the imperial agendas. That’s why victims of Katarina had to be victimized by “urban renewal” after going through the gravely tragic event. Capitalist hegemony does not allow an honest discussion because imperialism is kept invisible by default, the capitalist cage is invisible and the guiding hand of capitalists is invisible. The capitalist framework simply corners people into having dead-end arguments. Period.

With the virus situation, we are told that there are good people who wear masks and stay home and bad people who selfishly defy the rules and spread “conspiracy theories”.  The dynamics among acceptable narratives within the capitalist framework create the circular arguments of a screaming match. These dynamics exclude and belittle any understanding which goes beyond the artificial range of ideas created by the capitalist institutions:  you are fake news, you are a denier, you are a conspiracy theorist, you are a grandma killer, communists are taking over and so on. Without recognizing this mechanism, any attempt to unify the momentums will result in a populism which emulates the existing social structure—another reactionary revolution at best, but more likely it will create more divisions and destabilization among the people, resulting in perpetuation of the capitalist hierarchy. This is why there is no discussion of accountability for the death and suffering created by lockdown measures and there is no discussion about the meaning of why we are going through a structural shift.  And when the deaths and sufferings will be put on the political table, financial vultures will devour them in the emerging social impact bond markets (see studies by Wrench in the Gears).

The invisible hand that is supposed to guide us to freedom, justice and humanity has created an empire ruled by the unprecedented accumulation of power for the few.  The invisible hand has created an invisible cage over us, and it has been blinding us and dividing us, allowing the ruling class to exploit us and subjugate us.

Now, it must be clearly stated that what we perceive as the dystopian future of The Fourth Industrial Revolution—AI, blockchain, digitalization, financialization, green capitalism and so on—can’t be separated from the invisible hand and the invisible cage. It cannot be allowed to be defined by capitalist institutions as a “legitimate political topic” instead of what it really is. The newly built cage hasn’t been built, but if we fail to see it for what it is in its context, we will simply be forced to embrace some version of it as one of the “legitimate” capitalist trajectories. That’s how it works when our society is a theater of absurdity.

I want to live a life that breaks open the invisible cage and firmly shake hands with nature and humanity.  If you have stuck around this far with me, I trust that you feel the same…or not. Either way, we must start our conversations.

Further Readings

Wrong Kind of Green Website

John Steppling Website

Winter Oak Website

Wrench in the Gear Website

The post The Mechanism of Invisible Hand, Invisible Cage, and Invisible Empire over Humanity and Nature first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

Image:  Calvin Shen

In 2004, journalist Ron Susskind quoted a Bush White House advisor, reportedly Karl Rove, as boasting, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” He dismissed Susskind’s assumption that public policy must be rooted in “the reality-based community.” “We’re history’s actors,” the advisor told him, “…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Sixteen years later, the American wars and war crimes launched by the Bush administration have only spread chaos and violence far and wide, and this historic conjunction of criminality and failure has predictably undermined America’s international power and authority. Back in the imperial heartland, the political marketing industry that Rove and his colleagues were part of has had more success dividing and ruling the hearts and minds of Americans than of Iraqis, Russians or Chinese.

The irony of the Bush administration’s imperial pretensions was that America has been an empire from its very founding, and that a White House staffer’s political use of the term “empire” in 2004 was not emblematic of a new and rising empire as he claimed, but of a decadent, declining empire stumbling blindly into an agonizing death spiral.

Americans were not always so ignorant of the imperial nature of their country’s ambitions. George Washington described New York as “the seat of an empire,” and his military campaign against British forces there as the “pathway to empire.” New Yorkers eagerly embraced their state’s identity as the Empire State, which is still enshrined in the Empire State Building and on New York State license plates.

The expansion of America’s territorial sovereignty over Native American lands, the Louisiana Purchase and the annexation of northern Mexico in the Mexican-American War built an empire that far outstripped the one that George Washington built. But that imperial expansion was more controversial than most Americans realize. Fourteen out of fifty-two U.S. senators voted against the 1848 treaty to annex most of Mexico, without which Americans might still be visiting California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Utah and most of Colorado as exotic Mexican travel spots.

In the full flowering of the American empire after the Second World War, its leaders understood the skill and subtlety required to exercise imperial power in a post-colonial world. No country fighting for independence from the U.K. or France was going to welcome imperial invaders from America. So America’s leaders developed a system of neocolonialism through which they exercised overarching imperial sovereignty over much of the world, while scrupulously avoiding terms like “empire” or “imperialism” that would undermine their post-colonial credentials.

It was left to critics like President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to seriously examine the imperial control that wealthy countries still exercised over nominally independent post-colonial countries like his. In his book, Neo-Colonialism: the Last Stage of Imperialism, Nkrumah condemned neocolonialism as “the worst form of imperialism.” “For those who practice it,” he wrote, “it means power without responsibility, and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress.”

So post-World War Two Americans grew up in carefully crafted ignorance of the very fact of American empire, and the myths woven to disguise it provide fertile soil for today’s political divisions and disintegration. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and Biden’s promise to “restore American leadership” are both appeals to nostalgia for the fruits of American empire.

Past blame games over who lost China or Vietnam or Cuba have come home to roost in an argument over who lost America and who can somehow restore its mythical former greatness or leadership. Even as America leads the world in allowing a pandemic to ravage its people and economy, neither party’s leaders are ready for a more realistic debate over how to redefine and rebuild America as a post-imperial nation in today’s multipolar world.

Every successful empire has expanded, ruled and exploited its far-flung territories through a combination of economic and military power. Even in the American empire’s neocolonial phase, the role of the U.S. military and the CIA was to kick open doors through which American businessmen could “follow the flag” to set up shop and develop new markets.

But now U.S. militarism and America’s economic interests have diverged. Apart from a few military contractors, American businesses have not followed the flag into the ruins of Iraq or America’s other current war-zones in any lasting way. Eighteen years after the U.S. invasion, Iraq’s largest trading partner is China, while Afghanistan’s is Pakistan, Somalia’s is the UAE (United Arab Emirates), and Libya’s is the European Union (EU).

Instead of opening doors for American big business or supporting America’s diplomatic position in the world, the U.S. war machine has become a bull in the global china shop, wielding purely destructive power to destabilize countries and wreck their economies, closing doors to economic opportunity instead of opening them, diverting resources from real needs at home, and damaging America’s international standing instead of enhancing it.

When President Eisenhower warned against the “unwarranted influence” of America’s military-industrial complex, he was predicting precisely this kind of dangerous dichotomy between the real economic and social needs of the American people and a war machine that costs more than the next ten militaries in the world put together but cannot win a war or vanquish a virus, let alone reconquer a lost empire.

China and the EU have become the major trading partners of most countries in the world. The United States is still a regional economic power, but even in South America, most countries now trade more with China. America’s militarism has accelerated these trends by squandering our resources on weapons and wars, while China and the EU have invested in peaceful economic development and 21st century infrastructure.

For example, China has built the largest high-speed rail network in the world in just 10 years (2008-2018), and Europe has been building and expanding its high-speed network since the 1990s, but high-speed rail is still only on the drawing board in America.

China has lifted 800 million people out of poverty, while America’s poverty rate has barely budged in 50 years and child poverty has increased. America still has the weakest social safety net of any developed country and no universal healthcare system, and the inequalities of wealth and power caused by extreme neoliberalism have left half of Americans with little or no savings to live on in retirement or to weather any disruption in their lives.

Our leaders’ insistence on siphoning off 66% of U.S. federal discretionary spending to preserve and expand a war machine that has long outlived any useful role in America’s declining economic empire is a debilitating waste of resources that jeopardizes our future.

Decades ago Martin Luther King Jr. warned us that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

As our government debates whether we can “afford” COVID relief, a Green New Deal and universal healthcare, we would be wise to recognize that our only hope of transforming this decadent, declining empire into a dynamic and prosperous post-imperial nation is to rapidly and profoundly shift our national priorities from irrelevant, destructive militarism to the programs of social uplift that Dr. King called for.

The post The Decline and Fall of the American Empire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Regime Change within Empire

Hundreds of protesters breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, forcing lockdowns as the US Congress was convening a joint session to count the certified 2020 Electoral College votes. The entire episode, although with a few gaps, was in the mainstream media. Death number, arrests, etc. accompanied. There are some more things. What came out was an exhibition of bourgeois politics. A part of a show of regime change in an advanced bourgeois democracy it was, also.

Some of the protesters breached hallways, offices and even the Senate chamber, forcing evacuations. Others broke windows to get inside. Capitol police had to draw guns inside in an armed standoff near the door to the House floor. Lawmakers were instructed to put on protective gas masks because police had deployed chemical irritants in Statuary Hall. They were told to lie down on floor.

In total 5 died, and more than 50 were arrested during the series of incidents, according to the corporate media. A curfew was ordered Washington DC wide.

According to some media reports, Trump, who had spoken at a rally of his supporters earlier in the day urging demonstrators to surround the Capitol, was reportedly watching the mayhem unfold from the White House dining room. Trump released a video telling demonstrators to “go home.” The video was subsequently blocked by Facebook and Twitter.

The Washington, DC mayor has extended the public emergency order for a total of 15 days to beyond January 20.

Interestingly, astonishingly also, strange utterances were made.

Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, addressed his colleagues on the Senate floor after it reconvened Wednesday evening: “What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the President of the United States.”

No confusion, please. “[A]n insurrection incited by the President of the United States.” A senator makes the claim, and a senator can never be irresponsible, at all irresponsible, neither in his words nor in actions.

Leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer each condemned the actions of Trump supporters. Schumer repeatedly referred to those who breached the Capitol as “thugs.”

A president assembles “thugs” to charge the legislative assembly!

Senator Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., said: “The violence, the lawlessness and siege of the halls of Congress are abhorrent […]”

Oh ho, violence goes on there!

Vice President Mike Pence returned to the Senate floor Wednesday night, and said: “Today was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.”

A dark day it’s! Is it a bolt from the blue? How was it engendered? All on a sudden, by a single person? No source, nothing behind this “dark day”?

Former POTUS Barack Obama in a statement presented an explanation to the questions: “History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation. But we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise.”

Reference to history is useful. History will look into a lot instead of an individual and a few acts. History will also look at the process, the inner-game, the gambling with power, the persons representing factions running the process. History will be harsh.

Jim Mattis, POTUS Trump’s former defense secretary, said in statement: “Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump. His use of the Presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice. […] Mr. Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country.”

A president foments a mob to subjugate a democracy, and the president was elected, not a usurper, and the elected person was entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the constitution of the republic, and the president had also the responsibility of the commander-in-chief, who had fingers on buttons of nuclear arsenal! Is it a problem with the president or with the system?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose office on Capitol Hill was among those overtaken by Trump’s supporters, sent a letter to colleagues: “Today, a shameful assault was made on our democracy. It was anointed at the highest level of government. [….]”

She said: “We now will be part of history, as such a shameful picture of our country was put out to the world, instigated at the highest level.”

No doubt that all, persons, processes and incidents, will be part of a history – the history of politics of a group in a particular type of democracy in a declining empire.

Former POTUS George W. Bush said in a statement: “Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our Nation’s government in disbelief and dismay. It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement. The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions are inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes. Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation. In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law. To those who are disappointed in the results of the election: Our country is more important than the politics of the moment.”

The fact has been unearthed: A banana republic has crept in the heart of an empire, considered the most advanced, the most sophisticated political system in the world. Who created the banana republics in other regions? How were those created? Why an a banana republic turns a banana republic? Any country is more important than politics of the moment of the concerned country. But, politics doesn’t grow without a country as a country with its economy creates politics of a moment and of moments. It’s not a politics of a moment; it’s politics of factions of a ruling regime – a system with purse and people having the purse.

US president-elect Joe Biden said in a statement Wednesday: “It’s not a protest. It’s an insurrection.”

No statement from a president should be taken casually. So, goes the claim: “It’s an insurrection.” An insurrection? Why such an insurrection? Is there any failure behind this insurrection? What’s its  source? And, its connections? Factional fight leads a faction to organize an insurrection? Was not there any alternative? Why was not there any alternative to the insurrection? Why a faction resorts to such path to settle factional contradiction?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following joint statement Wednesday: “We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the US Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.”

To push out protestors, POTUS is needed!

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., told CNN Wednesday: “I haven’t seen anything like this since I was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008. This is America and this is what is happening right now.”

Nothing to disagree with the comparison. Regime change in Iraq had a different style. Iraq witnessed intrigues, cruise missiles, bombardments, and killings – a shower of brutality. That was not the factional fight of the Empire’s ruling classes. That was a pure and unadulterated imperialist aggression.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell excoriated his GOP colleagues:

“If this election were overturned by objections from the losing side, our democracy would be in a death spiral.

“We cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes with a separate set of facts and separate realities.”

Has not that spiral begun yet? What does the process and incidents tell? The spiral will appear stark if an insight is thrown at the core.

In a rally prior to charging of the capitol, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said he wants a “trial by combat” over the election results.

“Combat” turns out as a word of politics that relies on constitutionality.

According to a news report, “[a] newly elected lawmaker from West Virginia was among the hundreds of people who stormed the Capitol building Wednesday. Republican Rep. Derrick Evans posted a now-deleted livestream video to Facebook that shows him moving through the building as people in Trump hats mill about.

“‘We’re in! We’re in!’ he yells at one point.”

“In one video posted Wednesday morning, Evans can be heard saying ‘Stop the steal baby.’”

A lawmaker storming the Capitol!

Another news-report said:

“A Virginia state senator said Wednesday’s storming of the US Capitol signaled the beginning of a ‘revolution.’

“In a Facebook live post broadcast hours after speaking at the D.C. rally that preceded the riot, Virginia State Sen. Amanda F. Chase said supporters should not believe media reports of riots at the Capitol, as ‘most of it’s not even true.’

Chase said she saw the rioters as “many patriots that have already said we’ve had enough.”

“I support peaceful protests,” she said in the post Wednesday night, “but I’m telling you when you back people in Virginia and across the United States of America into a corner, you will end up with a revolution. And I believe that’s what you’re starting to see.”

So, there’s change in narratives, that carries meaning. It also is significant.

One man charging the Capitol said: “This is epic, epic. We’re taking the Capitol back, thank God.”

Why a person makes such a claim? Is it from thin air?

Another person shouted an F word. Another person yelled: “The president invited us here and we’re not leaving.”

A president invites such persons? Why such persons?

Why is there such a rage? Why a president invites such persons to charge a legislative assembly?

According to other news-reports, “[b]y late afternoon, an almost festival atmosphere prevailed outside the Capitol: participants celebrated the storming of the building and traded stories about getting tear-gassed. Vendors sold popcorn and pretzels, and some departing participants rode off in bicycle rickshaws.

“Several participants carried ‘Election fraud is treason’ signs. They declined to specify who they believed should be punished, but pointed out a nearby gallows. Closing in on 4 p.m., thousands of participants streamed away from the Capitol building, many laughing and jeering the politicians they had intimidated.

Gallows? For whom the gallows wait?

Chad Heuer, 45, said he traveled from southern Michigan to watch Trump speak because he wants members of Congress to listen to what Trump supporters say. “We have a constitution. Let’s uphold it,” Heuer said.

Michele Haynes from Las Vegas, unwilling to accept the reality that Joe Biden will become president, said she’s “sure there are other options” for Trump to remain in office regardless of what happens in Congress. She said Americans won’t accept Biden as president. “They have more,” she said of allegations of voter fraud. “It’s going to be revealed.”

Sherri Lynn Womack, a member of the Lee County board of education in North Carolina, said she traveled to Washington to demand better election security and stronger voter ID laws. She cited what she believes are “suspicious” videos of ballot counting in Georgia. “I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists,” she said. “But these are legitimate questions that need to be asked.”

David Tate, 32, a truck driver from New Hampshire, said he drove 14 hours because he doesn’t want his three children to grow up under a Biden administration. He said he doesn’t believe Biden could have gotten the amount of votes he did because of the massive crowds Trump drew compared to the smaller events held by Biden. “It’s kind of our right and our duty as American citizens to stand up against this naked treason,” he said.

Among those on the National Mall was Angela Strong, 41, a sixth-generation Texan who said she had ancestors on the Mayflower and others who fought in the Civil War. “If they were willing to sacrifice everything to defend liberty and freedom, I could come down to support the cause for freedom,” Strong said. She said debate has been stifled in America, and people who disagree can’t have a conversation without arguing.

Strong said she couldn’t speak to Trump’s claims of voter fraud because Texas was not that close of a race, but added that concerns raised by people in other states such as Pennsylvania should be heard. Experts have agreed, however, that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. “If their citizens and legislators are questioning it in any contested state, it shouldn’t be ignored,” she said. “We have to give those voices the opportunity to say how they feel and why it is they feel that way.”

What do these voices mean? Are these to be ignored or not? What do these voices signify? What’s the identity of these voices? Do they represent anything? Alternatively, are they nothing more than a bunch of individuals? Are the utterances, official and non-official, establishment and non-establishment, to be considered for an analysis of the state of the Empire? Whatever is done – taken into account, analyzed or ignored – a part of regime change in the Empire has come out in front of the mass media audience around the world, and that part is not that much of a joyful one. Rather, it says some disease is there, which will resurface repeatedly until fully cured.

The post Regime Change within Empire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Suckered into Stupid Wars

Unknown to most Americans, the US ‘totally destroyed’ North Korea once before” — Irish Times

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later that someone of high notoriety would blurt out the truth about the American genocide in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and lift for a moment the curtain of imbecility that keeps why-me-worry silly American society, self-indulgent in sales and sports, gung-ho slap-happily accepting what its criminal media tells it about being proud of its Vietnam War veterans and proud of today’s American soldiers, who have invaded whatever little countries on criminal orders or are stationed in active duty in 150 countries.1

What comes to mind are photos of dead babies and their mothers lying in a ditch in South Vietnam shot point blank by American soldiers; of America soldiers setting fire to the straw roofs of village homes with their cigarette lighters; of an American tank dragging a roped Vietnamese ‘enemy’ behind it down the road; of naked children with burnt skin running from fiery napalm dropped from an American fighter plane over farm houses … of photos of B-52 bombers high-altitude carpet bombing ‘free fire zones’; of planes dropping Agent-Orange to destroy whole forests in South Vietnam; of super heroes like US Senator and presidential-candidate-to-be pilot John McCain, who dropped bombs for months on Hanoi city before being shot down, and who Nuremberg Trial Prosecutor Gen.Telford Taylor would have prosecuted as a war criminal.2

We were wrong, terribly wrong,” the former Secretary of Defense broke down in tears. 

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara from 1961 to 1968, formerly President of the Ford Motor Company, had pushed so hard for deeper American military involvement in Vietnam that the US conflict in French Indochina became nicknamed “McNamara’s War,” but 20 years after the US embarrassingly mortifying withdrawal in 1975, he wrote a book in which he confessed “We were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why.” He broke down in tears while talking to Diane Sawyer of ABC News.

McNamara claimed he once sent President Johnson a note warning, ”There may be limits beyond which many Americans and much of the world will not permit the United States to go. The picture of the world’s greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1,000 noncombatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission … is not a pretty one.” After presiding for years as the Devil incarnate over the deaths of millions, McNamara, upon his resignation, was appointed President of the World Bank! (In America, war seems to be just business and money, while life, on the other hand, is cheap. Like many Americans, McNamara was emotional about the Americans who died because of his decisions but never seem to care about the nearly a hundred times more Vietnamese who died because of his commands.)

Recently, more than a half-century after the US lifted its years of cruel international sanctions on Communist Vietnam, an American president reportedly called the American war in Vietnam “a stupid war.” From Associated Press and according to one former senior Trump administration official: “When the President spoke about the Vietnam War, he said, ‘It was a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker.’” Jennifer Griffin, a national security correspondent for Fox News, confirmed the president’s remarks. What is important is how something critical said about the Vietnam debacle that took millions of lives has been ridiculed and characterized as wrong headed and improper by America’s criminal media which lied about that war in its time and continues to lie about it even today.

What did today’s US president have in mind when he reportedly referred to the war as “stupid”

#1. Why “stupid?

The war was supposed to prevent a communist run government in Vietnam.

Today the Communist Party of Vietnam runs Vietnam which is currently America’s 8th biggest trading partner at $9 billion worth of goods traded per year. So why did Americans bring death to all those millions of fellow human beings. For what? For nothing. All that mega colossal amount of grief and sorrow and pain. For what? Stupid right? Why is a Communist Vietnam okay now, but before was worth murdering millions of people to block Communism and protect Capitalism — French Colonial Capitalism at that?

#2. “Stupid?” Before sending in American armed forces, President Truman brought back the French Colonial Army in US ships, and America funded eight years of France’s bloody war to reconquer Vietnam. That French Colonial Army had been Vichy French fascist, an ally of Nazi Germany. It had run Vietnam for the Japanese, causing a million Vietnamese to starve because the Japanese took away rice to feed their soldiers. Stupid? Americans on the side of racist murdering former fascist French military colonialism? How infamously brutal the French were in Haiti and Algeria and on into in Indochina. (Oh, the French were so joyous when US troops liberated Paris from the Nazi Germans.)

#3 “Stupid?” America betrayed its Vietnamese WW II ally Ho Chi Minh, who the US awarded a medal for his work saving the lives of American downed airmen. A high America officer had stood by Ho Chi Minh’s side as he declared Vietnam independent. Then Americans murderously betrayed their Vietnamese heroic WW II ally! 

#4. “Stupid?” After the Vietnamese, at a great cost of lives, had defeated the US backed French Colonial Army, President Eisenhower blocked the election for president of all of Vietnam that he admitted Ho Chi Minh would have won with 80+% of the vote. “Stupid?” Or were, are, Americans undemocratic by nature and imperialists in trying to have made the South of Vietnam a separate country and a US neo-colonial satellite. (Eisenhower also had both Congo and Guatemalan democracies murderously overthrown and Laos bombed. Ike was very beholden to the Military-Industrial-Complex he warned against.) No, not stupid! Undemocratic! and a crime against humanity.

#5 “Stupid?” Six US Presidents oversaw 30 years of genocidal slaughter of the soft-spoken Buddhist, basically farming population of the three French colonies of the Indochinese peninsula, first by the US-backed French and afterward with the Americans dropping three times the amount of bombs the US dropped during all of the Second World War in Europe and Asia,3  while eventually introducing a half-million US troops with tanks, helicopters, river patrol boats, and state-of-the-art military equipment. Then Americans ignominiously gave up and enacted cruel international sanctions on the then liberated Communist Party-run Vietnam. In retrospect, super stupid, just plain daft, and genocidal! 

#6 “Stupid” for an American fascination with body counts 

58,310 American troops were reported ‘Killed in Action.’

These 58,310, plus two and a half million more American troops, who didn’t die, executed a 15-year invasion and occupation war that brought death to ten times that number: 587,000 poor Vietnamese civilians and death to 1.1 million of the amazingly brave and patriotic Vietnamese, who fought against the American invaders.4 Were Americans just highly stupid or just enthralled with killing? Were many Americans cruel people then, during their Vietnam debacle war, or are many still, rotten, uncaring people today causing children in Yemen to die of starvation or American guided missiles, while American soldiers kill in Afghanistan and Somalia.

#7 “Stupid” or evil?

Unexploded illegal anti-personnel cluster bombs dropped by Americans from planes so many years ago, continue to detonate and kill people today. The Vietnamese government claims that unexploded ordnance has killed some 42,000 people since the official end of the war in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia according to Vietnamese government databases. Horrible birth deformities and cancers by the thousands continue to occur from Agent Orange. Were Americans, are Americans, inhumanly irresponsible in their behavior?

The current US President also is reported to have said regarding Vietnam, “Anyone who went was a sucker.”

Since the TV channels of America’s CIA overseen six giant entertainment/news controlling conglomerates still hail Vietnam veterans as heroes, let’s try to imagine what today’s US president had in mind when he reportedly insinuated that Vietnam War veterans were all “suckers.” Let us consider the President calling Vietnam veterans ‘suckers’ in the context of Americans seeming to love, or at least accept, watching their military continually bomb and invade smaller countries.

Did the current American president actually mean, “Anyone who went” to risk his life to participate in what turned out to be the slaughter of upwards of 3 million Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian men, women and children, “was a sucker” for believing his government was decent and would not send him to kill poor and innocent people? Or was he “a sucker” for not knowing what his government was doing in French Indochina or a sucker for not wanting to be threatened with time in prison if he refused to be drafted into the US Army?

Well, apparently, half-million guys refused to be suckered into killing anyone, because during the Vietnam War, approximately 570,000 young men, more than half a million, were classified as draft offenders,5  and approximately 210,000 were accused of draft violations; however, only 8,750 were convicted and only 3,250 were jailed.

Some draft eligible men were angry enough at the government’s attempt to sucker them into war to publicly burned their draft cards, but the Justice Department brought charges against only 50, of whom 40 were convicted.

Those who were drafted made up more than one third of the 3,403,100 (including 514,300 offshore) personnel, who served in the Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, including flight crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters).

World Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali’s draft board statement should have been guidance for all prospective draftees: “I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.”

If we take the word of the only American whose birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, then guys who participated in the merciless slaughter of the men, women and children of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia did not ‘serve’ their country. No, what they did to poor people in France’s Indochina colonies shamed their country, and was worse, much worse behavior than that of those Americans who Martin Luther King said betrayed their country at home by their silence.

In his world shaking New York sermon a year before he was shot dead, King pointed out, “So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They languish under our bombs …primarily women and children and the aged as we herd them into concentration camps. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. They see their children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food, see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.” 

Anybody who let themselves be suckered into participating in the genocide that was an American war on Vietnam is to be pitied. Sure men were being drafted and threatened with jail time if they refused induction into the US Army, but 20 or 30 thousand just moved to Canada. Thousands more demanded and got deferment as conscientious objectors. Few went to jail.

Huge percent of GIs in combat realizing that they had been ‘had’ turned to drugs and some turned to ‘fragging’ their officers.

A great percentage of GIs, in constant danger of being killed or maimed in combat, realized that they had been suckered into a deadly and ignominious trap to kill people fighting in and for their own country. These GIs turned to illegal drugs and quite a number covertly murdered their immediate officers or non-commissioned officers in what was called “fragging,” being that fragmentation hand grenades were the usual weapon of choice. A well calculated estimate is that 1,017 fragging incidents may have taken place in Vietnam causing 86 deaths and 714 injuries of U.S. military personnel, the majority officers and NCOs.6

According to a 1971 report by the Department of Defense, 51% of the armed forces had smoked marijuana, 31% had used psychedelics, such as LSD, mescaline and psilocybin mushrooms, and an additional 28% percent had taken hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. But drug usage wasn’t just limited by what enlistees could illicitly buy on the black market. Their military command also heavily prescribed amphetamines, which were used to boost endurance on long missions, sedatives were prescribed to help relieve anxiety and prevent mental breakdowns. In his book Shooting Up: A Short History of Drugs and War, author Lukasz Kamienski argues that amphetamine withdrawal may be partly to blame for some of the atrocities committed against Vietnam’s civilian population, with strung-out young servicemen overreacting to the already stressful conditions of war.

How many veterans committed suicide out of shame for what they did in Vietnam? More U.S. veterans have committed suicide between 2008 and 2017 than the number of U.S. soldiers that died during the entire Vietnam War. According to the defense news site Military.com, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) shared these alarming rates in a September 2019 report. The U.S. suffered around 58,000 fatalities over the course of the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1955 to 1975. This number has now been eclipsed by the more than 60,000 U.S. veteran suicides in a recent span of just 10 years. More than 6,000 veterans committed suicide every year during that timeframe. Many were veterans of horror in Iraq, Afghanistan, Dominican Republic, Panama or Somalia, but a lot of suicides were by Vietnam vets.7

In “Shame, Guilt, Self-Hatred and Remorse in the Psychotherapy of Vietnam Combat Veterans Who Committed Atrocities,” Mel Singer, L.C.S.W. describes the plight of a subgroup of Vietnam veterans suffering from combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who committed atrocities while serving in Vietnam.

Years after their service in Vietnam ended, certain veterans continue to exhibit shame, guilt, self-hatred and a sense of being interminably unforgivable, all feelings related to the atrocities they committed. …Some have committed suicide and others remain at risk. … The American combat soldier in Vietnam averaged between 19 and 20 years of age and had little more than a high school diploma.

One suffering veteran’s guilt was apparent as manifested by emerging themes of retaliation. He believed that it was only natural for his enemy to kill him. After all, if they did to him what he had done to them, wouldn’t he be seeking revenge?

The impossible-to-describe amount of suffering caused by Americans willingly, though some against their will, to Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians in French Indochina must be brought to attention.

Calling that unjustifiable genocidal American war in French Indochina “stupid” is a mega vast understatement, inappropriately dismissive sounding regarding the crimes against humanity Americans committed.

Calling the unfortunate Americans who went there, some to die, some to be crippled and all to kill, “suckers” trivializes the inestimable suffering and seems dismissive of the deadly crimes of those who went and those who sent them to make war on poor and innocent people.

This Writer Was Himself ’a Sucker’ During the American War in Korea

The writer of this article can give a personal parallel experience, because in 1952, he, with his 19 year old head filled with thoughts of women, music and making his pals laugh, let himself be drafted into the US Army during the Korean War without even attempting to find out what that war was about and didn’t even read the newspaper and as didn’t realize his government was killing Koreans by the hundreds of thousands in their very own country.

I was a sucker to believe in my government. I know now that the North Korean army had overthrown the American Army-created mass-murdering police state in South Korea in a just few weeks. Then the Americans invaded the South while it bombed flat all 38 cities of the North.8

I was so distracted by the healthy routines and camaraderie of basic training that I never once had the thought that the weapons I was practicing with could kill somebody, and never thought about Korea while having fun training in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

I could have wound up killing relatives of the Korean students I came to be teaching in subsequent years. I could also have wound up having my dead body thrown into a pit in North Korea as did four bunkmates and members of my squad from basic training. My poor buddies had never even heard of Korea before being sent there to fight and die.

I was a sucker to believe my government was not a criminal war investors run government and to have allowed myself to be drafted and be part of its killer war machine, but ignorance is never a legal or moral excuse. I was fortunate to have been sent to be part of the occupation forces in former Nazi Germany, while my buddies were sent to kill and be killed in Korea.

I was so blind and ignorant to have been comfortable in my US Army uniform, but I was stationed in what had been criminally insane Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany, which most of the world including America had to fight a war with. I didn’t know then what I know now that it was American industrialists that had armed Nazi Germany by heavily investing in, and joint venturing with, a financially prostate and completely disarmed Germany building Hitler’s army up to world’s number one military power in five short years. But I only learned of American tycoons backing of Hitler to attack Communist Russia many years later. In 1952, I was a patriotic sucker, indulging in my youthful life and not much interested in my government’s anti-communist war in Korea.

Another famous African-American gave succinct guidance for those, who like your author, were foolishly asleep to the reality of a murderous war yawning. Malcolm X reasoned, “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.” 

Of Importance

This writer has sought to take advantage of a inadvertent awkward slip-up by a high official lackey of the deep state investors in war who control our existence. Apparently, a criminal American President, just one in a long series of criminal US Presidents, let himself be overheard making an off-hand truthful remark that contradicts what the CIA overseen criminal media tells the world in excusing America’s genocidal crimes against humanity. 

When a crack in the deep state wall of TV inculcated self-indulgence, dis- and mis-information and limitless militant subservient patriotism opens up, with an awkward truth jutting out, jump on it! Don’t let smiling commentators make a joke out of some truth about America’s genocides that accidentally slipped out in relaxed conversation. No, don’t let a truth that slipped out and contradicts the lies told on TV about Vietnam and Vietnam veterans be forgotten. 

Remember how “they” made a joke about Senator Barack Obama’s family pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s anguished cry, “God bless America? No, no, God Damn America for killing innocent people!” 

Remember how American peace activists failed to take the ball from presidential candidate Ron Paul, and run with it, failed to keep repeating what he said on prime time coverage of the presidential candidates debate: “All the bombings and invasions beginning with Korea were illegal, unconstitutional and a horrific loss of life! ”The silence of the rest of the candidates and the commentators was striking, but seemed to fit the public apathy. Our war torn world continually threatened with nuclear winter is our payment for public apathy.

Whether anyone actually called the Vietnam war stupid and its veterans suckers is not what is important. Important is how criminal media sought to ridicule someone saying something truthful about the genocide of poor and innocent men, women and children Americans committed in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and keeps calling Americans, who participated in that horrific genocidal crime of Holocaust proportion, heroes.

Call attention to that crack in the wall within your family, among friends and acquaintances! Humankind is in an ugly period of suffering in the bloody hands of imbecilic investors in war, who own our governments and media and who cannot stop themselves from planning war, even terminal nuclear war, since they know from centuries of experience that wars make money. 

If and when we can have the resources and money the reigning investors in war dedicate to war and preparation for more war to use for maintenance of the planet and feeding well the starving, what a happy world it will be! 

Let’s have a New Year’s resolution to start talking about our Democratic and Republican parties’ immensely dangerous subservience to the investors in war! Would that being  independent of political party affiliation were compulsory for all candidates for public office!

  1. “’Endless Wars,’ Here’s Where About 200,000 Troops Remain,” New York Times, Oct. 21, 2019.
  2. Gen. Telford Taylor, a chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, is reported as having said that he would be proud to lead the prosecution of U.S. pilots captured in Vietnam. Robert Richter, an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, and political director for CBS News from 1965 to 1968 wrote in Bomber Pilot McCain: War Heroism or War Crimes? published by Institute for Public Accuracy, October 15, 2008: “I will never forget how stunned I was when Gen. Telford Taylor, a chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials after World War Two, told me that he strongly supported the idea of trying the U.S. pilots captured in North Vietnam as war criminals — and that he would be proud to lead in their prosecution.” History News Network. Jay Janson, “U.S. Nuremberg Trials Prosecutor Would Have Proudly Prosecuted McCain As a War Criminal,” OpEdNews.com, 10-19-08
  3. Clodfelter, Micheal Vietnam in Military Statistics: A History of the Indochina Wars, 1792—1991. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 1995): p. 225.
  4. Lewy, Guenter. America in Vietnam. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978). Appendix 1, p. 450–53.
  5. Cortright, David. Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008): p. 164–165.
  6. Gabriel, Richard A. and Savage, Paul L., Crisis in Command, (New York: Hill & Wang, 1978): p. 183. Lepre, George. Fragging: Why U.S. Soldiers Assaulted their Officers in Vietnam. (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2011).
  7. Marco Margaritoff, “More U.S. Veterans Have Committed Suicide in the Last Decade Than Died in the Vietnam War,” November 11, 2019, Updated April 13, 2020.
  8. South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung (once condemned to death under military governments), established the first Truth Commission in 2000. When this Commission completed its work in 2004, the Parliament felt that a further, much broader Truth and Reconciliation Commission was needed to examine Japanese colonialism, the partition of the Peninsula, and decades-long anticommunist dictatorships. In 2005, the South Korean Assembly therefore enacted a law establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    Here are excerpts of Commission member of five years Prof. Kim Dong-choon’s article for Asia-Pacific Journal, March 1, 2010, titled: “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Korea: Uncovering the Hidden Korean War -The Other War: Korean War Massacres”:

    “Few are aware that the South Korean authorities as well as US and allied forces massacred hundreds of thousands of South Korean civilians at the dawn of the Korean War on June 25, 1950. The official records of government, military and police, as well as survivor testimonies, reveal that mass killings committed by South Korean and U.N forces occurred before and during the Korean War (June 1950 to July 1953). These incidents may be categorized into four types.

    The first category involves summary executions of civilians and political prisoners suspected of opposing or posing a threat to the ROK (Republic of Korea) regime.The second category involves the arrest and execution of suspected North Korean collaborators by the ROK police and rightist youth groups. …

    The third category includes killings conducted during ROK counterinsurgency operations against Jay Janson is an archival research peoples historian activist, musician and writer; has lived and worked on all continents; articles on media published in China, Italy, UK, India and in the US by Dissident Voice, Global Research; Information Clearing House; Counter Currents, Minority Perspective, UK and others; now resides in NYC; First effort was a series of articles on deadly cultural pollution endangering seven areas of life emanating from Western corporate owned commercial media published in Hong Kong’s Window Magazine 1993; Howard Zinn lent his name to various projects of his; Weekly column, South China Morning Post, 1986-87; reviews for Ta Kung Bao; article China Daily, 1989. Is coordinator of the Howard Zinn co-founded King Condemned US Wars International Awareness Campaign, and website historian of the Ramsey Clark co-founded Prosecute US Crimes Against Humanity Now Campaign, which Dissident Voice supports with link at the end of each issue of its newsletter.communist guerillas.The ROK employed a three-all policy (kill‐all, burn‐all, loot‐all), which was a scorched earth policy used by Japanese Imperial forces while suppressing anti‐Japanese forces in China. [Officers of the Southern armed forces were made up of Koreans who fought in the Japanese Army, whereas the cadre of the Northern armed forces were Korean guerrillas who had distinguished themselves fighting the Japanese in Manchuria.]

    Counterinsurgency atrocities also occurred in North Korean occupied territory. As the ROK police and rightist youth groups followed the U.S. military across the 38th parallel, they encountered people they suspected to be communists and collaborators. A typical massacre occurred in Sinchon (a county located in southern North Korea). North Korea accused American troops of killing 35,380 civilians, but newly released documents disclose that right‐wing civilian security police, assisted by a youth group, perpetrated the massacre.

    The fourth category involves civilian and refugee deaths from bombings and shootings in U.S. combat operations.

    A History of Silencing Bereaved Families and Oppressing Memories of Atrocities

    The Jeju Island April 3 incident of 1948 occurred shortly before the first general election, and was unique in the number of victims, and the lasting effect on the Jeju Island. Since the incident occurred during the period of US military government, the operation, which resulted in numerous civilian deaths, was conducted under the sponsorship of U.S forces. Embedded in a strong collective regional identity, the Jeju people’s tragedy became a popular theme for novels and poems. The world’s most famous artist Pablo Picasso painted his masterpiece Massacre in Korea. There is a wall in Jeju Island Peace Memorial Park with the names of the estimated 30,000 Jeju uprising victims. While the final report of committees of investigation failed to confirm or spell out a US or UN role, it concluded that 86% of the 14,373 deaths reported were committed by security forces including the National Guard, National Police, and rightist groups. …

    Frantic anti-communism paralleled the rise of McCarthyism in the U.S., heavily influencing South Korea’s political atmosphere from 1953 onward and resulting in society’s collective amnesia over the mass killings committed by ROK and U.S. troops. …

    In 2008, President Ro Moo-Hyun made an official apology on behalf of the state for the massacres of the Korean War.

    In 1996, Chun Doo-hwan, former South Korean army general who ruled as the President of South Korea from 1979 to 1988, ruling as an unelected coup leader was sentenced to death for his role in the Gwangju Massacre of 1980. His successor as president, Roh Tae Woo, was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison. The Gwangju Uprising, alternatively called May 18 Democratic Uprising by UNESCO, and also known as May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement. This past February 2018, it was revealed for the first time that the army had used McDonnell Douglas MD500 Defender and Bell UH-1 Iroquois attack helicopters to fire on civilians. Defense Minister Song Young-moo made an apology.

The post Suckered into Stupid Wars first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Keeping the Empire Running: Britain’s Global Military Footprint

A few nostalgic types still believe that the Union Jack continues to flutter to sighs and reverence over outposts of the world, from the tropics to the desert.  They would be right, if only to a point.  Britain, it turns out, has a rather expansive global reach when it comes to bases, military installations and testing sites.  While not having the obese heft and lumbering brawn of the United States, it makes a good go of it.  Globally, the UK military has a presence in 145 sites in 42 countries.  Such figures tally with Ian Cobain’s prickly observation in The History Thieves: that the British were the only people “perpetually at war.”

Phil Miller’s rich overview of Britain’s military footprint for Declassified UK shows it to be heavy.  “The size of the global military presence is far larger than previously thought and is likely to mean that the UK has the second largest military network in the world, after the United States.”  The UK military, for instance, has a presence in five countries in the Asia-Pacific: naval facilities in Singapore; garrisons in Brunei, drone testing facilities in Australia; three facilities in Nepal; a quick reaction force in Afghanistan.  Cyprus remains a favourite with 17 military installations.  In Africa, British personnel can be found in Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Mali.  Then come the ever dubious ties to Arab monarchies.

The nature of having such bases is to be kind to your host, despite him being theocratic, barking mad, or an old fashioned despot with fetishes. Despite the often silly pronouncements by British policy makers that they take issue with authoritarians, exceptions numerous in number abound.  The UK has never had a problem with authoritarians it can work with or despots it can coddle.  A closer look at such relations usually reveal the same ingredients: capital, commerce, perceptions of military necessity.  The approach to Oman, a state marked by absolute rule, is a case in point.

Since 1798, Britain has had a hand in ensuring the success, and the survivability, of the House of Al Said.  On September 12, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced that a further £23.8 million would go to enhancing the British Joint Logistics Support Base at Duqm port, thereby tripling “the size of the existing UK base and help facilitate Royal Navy deployments to the Indian Ocean”.  The Ministry of Defence also went so far as to describe a “renewal” of a “hugely valuable relationship,” despite the signing of a new Joint Defence Agreement in February 2019.

The agreement had been one of the swan song acts of the ailing Sultan Qaboos bin Said, whose passing this year was genuinely mourned in British political circles.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson called him “an exceptionally wise and respected leader who will be missed enormously.”  Papers of record wrote in praise of a reformer and a developer.  “The longest serving Arab ruler,” observed a sycophantic column in The Guardian, “Qaboos was an absolute monarch, albeit a relatively benevolent and popular one.”

The same Sultan, it should be said, had little fondness for freedom of expression, assembly and association, encouraged the arrests and harassment of government critics and condoned sex discrimination. But he was of the “one of us” labels: trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, an unwavering Anglophile, installed on the throne by Britain in the 1970 palace coup during the all but forgotten Dhofar Rebellion.  “Strategically,” Cobain reminds us, “the Dhofar war was one of the most important conflicts of the 20th century, as the victors could expect to control the Strait of Hormuz and the flow of oil.”  The British made sure their man won.

Public mention of greater British military involvement in foreign theatres can be found, though they rarely make front page acts.  The business of projecting such power, especially in the Britannic model, should be careful, considered, even gnomic.  Britain, for instance, is rallying to the US-led call to contain the Yellow Peril in the Asia Pacific, a nice reminder to Beijing that old imperial misdeeds should never be a bar to repetition.  The head of the British Army, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, spoke in September about there being “a market for a more persistent presence from the British Army (in Asia).  It’s an area that saw a much more consistent Army presence in the Eighties, but with 9/11 we naturally receded from it.”  The time had come “to redress that imbalance”.

The UK Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, prefers to be more enigmatic about the “future of Global Britain.”  To deal with an “ever more complex and dynamic strategic context,” he suggests the “Integrated Operating Concept”.  Britain had to “compete below the threshold of war in order to deter war, and to prevent one’s adversaries from achieving their objectives in fait accompli strategies.”

Gone are the old thuggeries of imperial snatch and grab; evident are matters of flexibility in terms of competition. “Competing involves a campaign posture that includes continuous operating on our terms and in places of our choosing.”  This entails a thought process involving “several dimensions to escalate and deescalate up and down multiple ladders – as if it were a spider’s web.”  The general attempts to illustrate this gibberish with the following example:  “One might actively constrain in the cyber domain to protect critical national infrastructure in the maritime Domain.”

In 2017, there were already more than just murmurings from Johnson, then Foreign Secretary, and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, that a greater British presence in the Asia-Pacific was warranted.  Fallon was keen to stress the reasons for deeper involvement, listing them to a group of Australian journalists. “The tensions have been rising in the region, not just from the tests by North Korea but also escalating tension in the South China Sea with the building program that’s gone there on the islands and the need to keep those routes open.”

With such chatter about the China threat you could be forgiven for believing that British presence in the Asia-Pacific was minimal.  But that would ignore, for instance, the naval logistics base at Singapore’s Sembawang Wharf, permanently staffed by eight British military personnel with an eye on the busy Malacca Strait.  A more substantial presence can also be found in the Sultanate of Brunei, comprising an infantry battalion of Gurkhas and an Army Air Corps Flight of Bell 212 helicopters.  The MOD is particularly keen on the surroundings, as they offer “tropical climate and terrain … well suited to jungle training”.

Over the next four years, the UK military can expect to get an extra £16.5 billion – a 10% increase in funding and a fond salute to militarists.  “I have decided that the era of cutting our defence budget must end, and ends now,” declared Johnson.  “Our plans will safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs in the defence industry, protecting livelihoods across the UK and keeping the British people safe.”

The prime minister was hoping to make that announcement accompanied by the “Integrated Defence and Security Review” long championed by his now departed chief special adviser, Dominic Cummings.  Cummings might have been ejected from the gladiatorial arena of Downing Street politics, but the ideas in the Review are unlikely to buck old imperial trends.  At the very least, there will be a promise of more military bases to reflect a posture General Carter describes rather obscurely as “engaged and forward deployed”.

The post Keeping the Empire Running: Britain’s Global Military Footprint first appeared on Dissident Voice.