Category Archives: United States

New York Times Advises China on Covid-19: Abandon Success, Try Failure

The recent outbreak of the Delta variant in China “shows that its strategy no longer fits. It is time for China to change tack.”

So declared a lead essay atop the New York Times Opinion/Editorial section on September  7 by Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Delta outbreak that “changed the game” in Huang’s words emerged after an outbreak at Nanjing international airport in July traced to a flight from Russia.  Did this outbreak change anything, in fact?

Let’s do the numbers.

Let’s do something that Huang did not; let’s look at the numbers from July 1 until September 7, the date of the article, a period that brackets the Delta outbreak cited by Huang.

During that period China experienced 273 new cases, about 4 per day, and no new deaths. That hardly seems like a failure.

To get some perspective on these numbers, during that same July1-September 7 period, the US, a country one fourth China’s size, reported 6,560,588 new cases (96,479 per day) and 45,054 new deaths (662 per day).

The same contrast can be seen for the entire period of the pandemic.  From the pandemic’s initial Wuhan outbreak in January, 2020, until September 7, 2021:

China had a sum total of 95,512 cases and 4,629 deaths;

The US had 40,196,953 cases and 648,146 deaths.

There have been two previous outbreaks of the Delta variant in China, one in Guangdong and another in Yunnan near the Myanmar border before the one arising in Nanjing.  The Delta variant was contained in each case. None of the three has turned out to be a “game changer,” as Huang incorrectly maintains.

Perhaps it is the U.S. that needs “to change tack.”

To anticipate an objection that has largely faded but persists in some quarters, can we believe the case and mortality count China gives us?  There are now many first-hand accounts of what life has been like in China these days that make the official tallies quite reasonable.  And quantitative evidence supporting China’s data is available in a peer-reviewed study in the prestigious British Medical Journal; it is summarized and discussed here.   Carried out by groups at Oxford University and China’s CDC, the study compares excess deaths in Wuhan and also in the rest of China during the period of the lockdown, and it finds that the official counts are remarkably accurate.

Do China’s life-saving measures imperil its economy?

China would need a very good reason to abandon its public health measures of massive, rapid testing, tracing and, where necessary, quarantining.  Are there any such reasons?  Mr. Huang states that the life-saving measures now “threaten overall economic growth in China”.  Does this prognostication fit the facts?

China’s GDP grew more slowly in 2020, but still it grew by 2.27%, the only major economy in the world not to contract.  In contrast the US economy contracted by 3.51%.  (Even China’s slowed growth in 2020 matched the US economy in normal times, which grew at an average rate of 2.3% in the four pre-pandemic years, 2016-2019.)

What about the future?  Economies are set to rebound in 2021 from their 2020 lows, with recent projections giving China an 8.4% bounce before settling in to an average growth of 6% over the following 5 years. For comparison the US jump in 2021 is estimated to be 6.4%, dropping to a 1.9% average over the following 5 years.

In terms of the economy present and future, China’s policies appear to be doing quite well, better, in fact, than any other major economy.  Mr. Huang has advanced a thesis that is unencumbered by the facts.

Why is the media’s failure to report on China’s success a threat to our very lives?

At every step of the way, China’s successes with Covid-19 have been met in the U.S. media with silence, denigration or a prediction that the success cannot continue (FAIR provides a brief survey here).  As a result, China’s measures are not widely known or understood.

China’s success with its public health measures is important for us now, because the pandemic is far from over. We don’t know what surprises viral evolution will have in store for us.  If a new variant emerges that is resistant to existing vaccines, then we have only public health measures to protect us until we catch up.  That is also true for future pandemics which will surely come our way. For us to be kept in ignorance of those measures or to have them dismissed, as Yanzhong Huang does, poses a threat to our very lives.

We might also wonder what would happen if the people of the West, including the U.S., understood clearly that measures were possible which could have protected us from the millions of deaths we have suffered.  Governments have toppled from far less.  Mr. Huang, the New York Times and the mass media, whatever else they are doing, are certainly protecting our Establishment from a rage that might have most unpleasant consequences.

The post New York Times Advises China on Covid-19: Abandon Success, Try Failure first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Nuclear White Elephants: Australia’s New Submarine Deal

It does not get any messier or more chaotic than this.  Since 2009, when Australia’s Future Submarine Program (FSP) known as Project SEA 1000, began to take shape, strategists and policy makers have been keen to pursue the next big White Elephant of defence spending.  And few areas of an already wasteful area of public expenditure are more costly – often mindlessly so – than submarines.

The Australian effort here is particularly impressive.  Pick a real winner by signing a contract for a yet to be designed attack class submarine, supposedly necessary in an increasingly dangerous region.  Ensure that this design is based on a nuclear model and remove that attribute, aptly described as “dumbing down a nuclear submarine by removing the whole basis of its superior capability, and then charging at least twice as much for a far less capable submarine.”

Just to make things interesting, make sure the order is for 12 of these yet to be designed and built creatures.  Make sure, as well, that they are only ready sometime in the 2030s, by which time they risk being obsolete in a field of other contending submarines with superior capabilities.

The dubious honour for this monumentally foolish contract, with an initial cost of AU$50 billion, fell to the French submarine company DCNS (now called Naval Group). It nudged out German and Japanese contenders with pre-existing designs.  “The decision,” a government announcement in April 2016 explained, “was driven by DCNS’s ability to best meet all of the Australian Government requirements.  These included superior sensor performance and stealth characteristics, as well as range and endurance similar to the Collins class submarine.  The Government’s considerations also included cost, schedule, program execution, through-life support and Australian industry involvement.”

The contract warmed the French military establishment.  It was praised as the “contract of the century”.  Le Parisien’s editorial lauded the prospect of thousands of jobs.  President François Hollande could say that he was also capable of pulling off a contract to aid the French military industrial complex, despite being a socialist.  A “50-year marriage”, claimed French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with honeymoon exuberance, had begun.

The post-nuptials were not promising.  Rear Admiral Greg Sammut had to concede in an estimates hearing before Australian senators that another AU$50 billion would be required to sustain the submarines for the duration of their operating life.  “Many of the detailed costs of acquisition and sustainment will be determined during the design process through choices made but at this point early estimation of the sustainment costs for the fleet are of the order of up to $50 billion on a constant price basis.”

Tiffs and disagreements over distribution of labour and further costs started to bite.  How much of the work would actually be undertaken by labour based in Australia?  Would the French company be keeping the lion’s share?  With such problems, and the pace of development, another idea started to gain momentum in the halls of defence: a competing, cheaper design, based on a rejigged version of Australia’s existing Collins Class submarine, might be a suitable alternative.  In the meantime, perhaps a German alternative might also figure, namely the Type 214 diesel electric submarine developed by Howaldtswerker-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW).

In May, Naval Group’s Transfer of Technology program manager Fabrice Leduc solemnly told his staff that the submarine project had been subjected to a “political timeline” following a change of minister in the Australian Defence portfolio.  The new occupant, Peter Dutton, was biding his time because “he wanted to have some strong warranties from the industry and especially Naval Group in terms of cost and schedule.”  The marriage had truly soured.

On September 15, the press gallery in Canberra was awash with rumours that a divorce was being proposed.  In the early hours of the following day, the question as to whether Australia would be dissolving its union with Naval Group was answered. In place of that union would be a ménage à trois with the United States and United Kingdom, a security three-way with Australia as the subordinate partner.  The glue that will hold this union together is a common suspicion: China.  In place of the Attack Class submarine: a nuclear powered alternative with Anglo-American blessing, based on the US Virginia class or UK Astute class.

In their joint statement announcing the creation of AUKUS, a name deserving a place in a science fiction glossary, the joint leaders of the three countries “guided” by their “enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order” had resolved “to deepen diplomatic, security, and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.”  AUKUS would be a new “enhanced trilateral security partnership” to further such goals.

The agreement is nothing less than an announcement to powers in the region that the Anglophone bloc intends to police, oversee and, if necessary, punish.  The three countries will “promote deeper information and technology.”  Security, science relating to defence, technology, industrial bases and supply chains will be further integrated.  Deeper cooperation would take place “on a range of security and defence capabilities.”

The first initiative of the agreement stands out: “we commit to a shared ambition to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.”  Expertise to “bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date” from the submarine programs of both the US and the UK would be drawn on.  AUKUS unmistakably ties the countries into the same security orbit, meshing them to principles of “interoperability, commonality, and mutual benefit.”

Australia’s submarine policy has previously eschewed nuclear propulsion. Now, as a dowry for receiving such largesse, Canberra is offering up Australia as a confirmed US asset in policing the Indo-Pacific. In any conflict situation, the wallahs of the antipodes are unlikely to say no to any request to do battle with the Middle Kingdom.  US Navy commanders will also be smacking their lips at maintaining attack vessels in Australia as part of the arrangement.

In the meantime, neighbours will be troubled, despite assurances that the vessels will only have a conventional weapons capability.  Nearby Indonesia is unlikely to be glowing in admiration.

The dissolution of the union with Naval Group will also be costly, with the defence company bound to push for a generous compensation package.  (AU$400 million is a suggested figure, though this is unlikely to satisfy either Naval Group or the Parisian overlords)  To this can be added AU$2 billion already spent.

As the divorce costs are sorted, some Australian politicians have pledged to make dissenting noises, with the Greens leader Adam Bandt already warning that the decision promised to “put floating Chernobyls in the heart of Australia’s cities.”  Protests from anti-nuclear activists and advocates are in the offing.

Then arises that enduring problem of actually building these naval beasts.  US lawmakers will be rooting for the construction of the submarines on home soil, a situation which promises to mirror the headaches caused by the Naval Group contract.  Australia also lacks a shipyard able to build or maintain such vessels.

In playing its part in the creation of AUKUS, Canberra has exchanged one white elephant of the sea for another.  But in doing so, Australia has done so in manner more threatening, and more significant, than anything associated with the Naval Group Contract.  The small space Australian diplomats might have had in keeping Canberra out of any foolish conflict in the Indo-Pacific has become miniscule.  The war mongers will be dewily ecstatic.

The post Nuclear White Elephants: Australia’s New Submarine Deal first appeared on Dissident Voice.

9/11 Collapsed Towers… And Empire

AFP 2021 / Seth McAllister

The United States’ 245-year history as a political entity has been one long trail of wars and more wars. It is estimated that nearly 95 percent of that historical span has seen the nation involved in either all-out wars, proxy conflicts, or other military subterfuges.

But since the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, the US has gone into hyper-war mode. Twenty years ago, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan ushered in multiple other American wars and covert operations from Asia to Africa, from the Middle East to the Americas.

At one point, the former Obama administration was bombing seven countries simultaneously all in the name of “fighting terrorism”. Hundreds of US bombs rain down somewhere on the planet every day.

What is rather sickening is how the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 event this weekend is marked with solemn speeches by US president Joe Biden and his British counterpart Boris Johnson – the two countries that spearheaded the “War on Terror” era.

Biden claims that 9/11 demonstrates the “unity and resilience” of the American people, while Johnson blusters with platitudes about 9/11 showing that “terrorists did not defeat Western democracy and freedoms”. This self-indulgent piffle is contemptible and nauseating.

Two decades after the US and Britain launched their criminal blitzkrieg on Afghanistan and the rest of the world, those two nations are more financially broke than ever. Internally, they are more bitterly divided than ever. More evidently, their so-called democracies are in reality oligarchies where a tiny rich elite rule over a mass of impoverished people who are spied on and treated like serfs by unaccountable secret agencies and a mass media in hock with oligarchic masters.

If there was a genuine commemoration of 9/11 it would entail a mass uprising by the people to overthrow the war-mongering class system that Biden and Johnson serve as frontmen.

Just this week – of all weeks – the American and British states are in effect admitting that their societies are collapsing from vast economic inequality and crumbling infrastructure. The Biden administration is trying to release a budget of up to $4.5 trillion to alleviate poverty and repair decrepit roads, bridges, buildings and other public utilities.

The Johnson regime in Britain is forced to admit that the National Health Service is overwhelmed by a chronic lack of funding. Taxes are being hiked that will hit low-income workers in order to pay for the £12 billion ($16bn) needed to prop up the enfeebled health service.

All of the cost for trying to repair the US and Britain to make these countries a modicum of decency for its citizens to live in could have been covered by the expenditure on wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere that the US and Britain have directly or indirectly been involved in.

A new estimate of the cost for the “war on terror” by the United States alone is put at $8 trillion. This is roughly double the infrastructure bill that Biden is trying to get passed by Congress. American politicians are objecting to the extravagance of that “rescue budget”, yet they had no qualms about spending $8 trillion on wars. It is also estimated that for Britain its military adventurism in Afghanistan alone cost a total of $30 billion. Again, just imagine how British society might be better off if that money had been spent instead on attending to the health needs of its citizens.

But 9/11 also ushered in wanton warmongering regimes in Washington and London that have bled the American and British public of finances and democratic rights. In 2001, the US national debt was about $6 trillion. This year that debt burden on future American generations has escalated to $28 trillion – a crushing, unsustainable burden largely driven by criminal wars.

The healthcare costs for American military veterans wounded and maimed from the wars on terror are projected at $2 trillion. Over 30,000 US service members and veterans are reckoned to have committed suicide over the past 20 years. That’s 10 times the number of American people who died on the day of 9/11.

Untold millions of innocent civilians were killed by the wars that the US and British launched after 9/11. Such suffering and destruction all for nothing except for the enrichment of war-profiteering corporations and the oligarchic elite.

fThe United States and Britain have been so deformed by criminal wars they have become dysfunctional and dystopian. They have inflicted failed states around the world, but none more so than on their own people. The towers that fell on 9/11 were a premonition of much bigger collapse.

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Patriotic Snitch: Bob Hawke as US Informant

Larrikin is a word often, and inaccurately used, in Australian political lingo.  Australia’s longest serving Labor Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, was known as one such figure.  He was praised as the great communicator and healer between the forces of labour and capital, enjoyed imbibing, his sports and varied female company.  He could also be vain and ruthless.

In June, a rather unremarkable revelation was made that Hawke had been something of an errand boy for the US imperium, a spiller of the beans and something of what Australians would call a “dobber”.  Cameron Coventry, in an article published that month, makes much of embassy and diplomatic cables covering the late Hawke between 1973 and 1979.  “During this time, he divulged information [to the US] about the Whitlam government (1972-75), the Fraser government (1975-83), Labor, and the labour movement.”  What is less than flattering for the Australian establishment is that snitching and informing on colleagues and their various circles was more than an errant pastime: it was entrenched practice.

The image of Hawke as an eager informant for US officials had already attained form in the release of US state department cables by Wikileaks.  During the turbulent times of the Labor government of Gough Whitlam, Hawke, according to embassy accounts, speaks of a party left in “bad financial shape” by their leader, one afflicted by “stupidity”.  The acrimony between Prime Minister Whitlam and Hawke also registers with some frequency.  This was of interest, given the very specific concerns from Washington that Whitlam was going wobbly on the alliance due to pressure from within his own party.  His growing weakness was particularly troubling given “his basic moderation and support of US defence facilities and other US interests”, as one embassy cable notes in August 1974.

Hawke, for his part, was happy to pile upon Whitlam in his disclosures to the embassy, often with intense colour.  An embassy official notes, in one cable in 1973, that, “Direct quotations in this report will be difficult as Hawke used short words of emphasis not suitable for family newspaper.”  Whitlam, according to Hawke, was “egocentric” though a poor judge: having sought voting and funding support from the Jewish community, he proceeded to treat Jewish elders in a “completely unsatisfactory and humiliating way”.

Two versions of Hawke emerge.  There is the Hawke who publicly believed that Australia could find much in the context of independent non-alignment.  (Even then, this would have been laughable, given the firm security cord binding Canberra to Washington.)  Hawke the US informant and snitch preferred deeper and closer integration into the American machine, wishing to expand the ANZUS alliance beyond its “purely defensive military” character.

Given that Australia had become a rather nice bit of strategic realty for the US, there was much appreciation for his efforts to take the sting out of any potential threats posed by the Left in general and the trade union movement in particular.  An important component to this was the relationship with the US Labour Attaché, a position long occupied by intelligence officers.  The occupants of the position took much interest in the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), of which Hawke would become president.  With his election, things got rosy, with US diplomats keen to push the ACTU into a sympathetic political orbit with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

The Labour Attaché would also contact Hawke on various occasions to intervene in industrial disputes.  In 1973, Hawke was asked about a potential disagreement at the Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station in Western Australia.  Hawke, the cable reports, “volunteered to intervene formally”, having felt “concern and surprise at the militancy” of workers on the site.

What emerges in the cables scrutinised by Coventry is a concerted strategy from Washington to encourage Hawke to abandon Keynesian economics in favour of more neoliberal policies. By the end of the 1970s, in Coventry’s assessment, Hawke came to “believe the maintenance of full employment was secondary to controlling inflation; that wage restraint was pivotal to the inflation fight; and that tripartism [an accord between unions, employers and the government] was needed to enact macroeconomic reform.”

It did take some time to warm up to Hawke.  Initially, as historian David McKnight writes, US officials “were unnerved by his militant aspirations and his association with communists.” When he threw his hat in the ring for ACTU leadership in 1969, Labor Attaché Emil Lindahl observed that, while he was “brilliant and effective”, detractors had taken issue with his “subjects to flights of irresponsibility, including drunkenness, playing around with women, and brawling”. Despite this, he could be counted, along with then ACTU President Harold Souter, “friends of the US”.

In 1978, Hawke the great defender of US interests and neutraliser of threats to Washington was appraised in another cable.  “Hawke has a lively and sometimes critical interest in the United States and has been a friend of Labor attaches and US officials in Australia […]. [I]in 1973 he told a US official that Australia and the US must remain close for a long time to come.”  A few years later, the cable further notes, Hawke “said that his personal attitude on foreign policy questions was very close to the United States.”  No wonder that Hawke, on becoming prime minister in 1983, made any criticism of the Australian-US relationship an offence worthy of political stoning.

These latest, ably compiled revelations should be damning.  But like long spells of selective amnesia, heroes in the pantheon of politics will be spared public scrutiny.  Hawke hagiographers will simply find, in their hero, a straight thinking fellow keen to stay in the good books of a great power in order to protect Australian interests.  That this seemed almost treasonous will never be countenanced.

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Blinken Says No to Greenland Real Estate

In May, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a visit to Greenland.  In a rather unedifying way, he was called ‘Tony’ by his hosts, a disarming point that was bound to open the floodgates of insincerity.  For all the convivial stuffing, there was a certain sting to the occasion: the previous Trump administration had revisited a fantasy long nurtured in the corridors of Washington and power crazed pundits.  Greenland, went the dreamers, might someday become a part of the US imperium.

President Donald Trump, in reigniting the issue with a businessman’s bumbling delight, noted in 2019 that Denmark “essentially” owned it. “We’re very good allies with Denmark, we protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world.  So the concept came up and I said, ‘Certainly I’d be [interested in purchasing Greenland].’  Strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested but we’ll talk to them a little bit.”  The Danish response to his appraisal – that Greenland was potentially part of “a large real estate deal”, was dismissive. Trump harrumphed.

So what has happened to Trump’s ideas regarding this icy territory?  The press conference began cordially enough. Blinken was welcomed by the autonomous territory’s premier Mute Egede who reminded him that celebrations would be held commemorating Kangerlussuaq’s 80-years anniversary, built by the US Air Force in 1941. “What began as a military base is now an important civilian airport for Greenland.” From a world at war, the relationship with the US had “evolved to a cooperation in science and mutual interest and understanding the health of our planet.”

This was laying it on a bit thick, but Blinken obliged with due soppiness. “I’m in Greenland because the United States deeply values our partnership and wants to make it even stronger.”  The consulate in Nuuk, after a seven decade hiatus, had been reopened for that reason.

To the press members gathered, he explained how the US was willing to part with cash in developing the island (“about $12 million in programming in the first year, and plans for additional funding.”)  This covered sustainable tourism, fishing, land management, and cooperation between universities. But then came the question: “Can you definitely say that the United States does not seek to buy Greenland?” To this question posed by John Hudson of the Washington Post, Blinken could only assert its accuracy.

Greenland’s Minister for Trade, Foreign Affairs and Climate, Pele Broberg, was also clear that Greenland, while significant in terms of “geo-location” and of “utmost importance for the defence of the United States”, was not part of any “real estate deal” with Washington.  But Broberg’s interpretation as to what constituted real estate was curious enough.  “Real estate means land with nothing on it, nobody on it.”  This observation was a prelude to something less than convincing.  “Secretary Blinken has made it clear that he is here for the people living in the Arctic, for the people living in Greenland.”

Over various periods of history, that grand cold expanse of Greenland has interested US prospectors of political realty.  The US imperium had grown rich through a combination of purchases and predatory conquest, repudiating those warnings made by George Washington about the perils of an enlarged empire.

During the administration of Andrew Jackson, the territorially-minded expansionist William Seward went on a bidding spree, pursuing that old coveted goal of acquiring Canada from the British Empire and naval assets in the Caribbean.  Returns followed for the US Secretary of State.  The Alaska purchase, with the Russians imprudently parting with land they thought was of little value, was truly something of a steal.  In the summer of 1867, Seward also commissioned former treasury secretary Robert J. Walker to look into the issue of whether Denmark might be willing to part with both Greenland and Iceland.  Walker had already made good progress in acquiring the Danish possessions of St. Thomas and St. John through treaty.

In his introduction to a report for the State Department, compiled by the superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, Benjamin Peirce, Walker is eye-popping with praise for this “largest island in the world.”  (The Trump vernacular is all too present.)  You can sense the aggrandising inner voice: “Its area, thus elongated, would be about 1,800,000 square miles, or largely more than half the size of all Europe, but with a far greater shoreline.”  He acknowledges those “vast fisheries and extensive coasts and numerous harbors, especially with abundant good coal there [which] must greatly antedate the period when the United States will command the commerce of the World.”  Acquire Greenland today, and a rich tomorrow is assured.

The Truman administration, eyeing strategic advantages in its Cold War standoff with the Soviet Union, was another bidder, offering $100 million for the island territory in 1946.  As John Hickerson of the State Department noted in a memo, “practically every member” of the planning and strategy committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed that a purchase should take place.  It was also “indispensable to the safety of the United States” while being “completely worthless to Denmark”.  The Danish Foreign Minister Gustav Rasmussen was less than impressed with this imperial imposition when approached by Secretary of State James Byrnes in December 1946.

Happily for Copenhagen, the advent of NATO alleviated any pressing need to show the Danes the money.  US military planners got what they wanted: a defence treaty in 1951 permitting the building of the Thule Air Base.  To facilitate this agreement, the Danish government relocated the indigenous Inughuit community with assured callousness.  It was all a crude demonstration of empire by concealment and obfuscation, a point made with some force by Daniel Immerwahr’s How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.

With the Biden administration looking inwards, expressions of interest for Greenland, at least from the US, have closed.  This is unlikely to be a permanent state of affairs.  The ice is melting; global warming is a terror for the environment but a delicious commercial boon for strategists hoping for easier access to the Arctic.  Russia is proving a more than formidable player.  China, along with Russia, dream of the Ice Silk Road.  US officials fret that Beijing might get a military foothold on the island.  This real estate story is far from over.

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On Propaganda and Failed Narratives: New Understanding of Afghanistan is a Must

For twenty years, two dominant narratives have shaped our view of the illegal US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, and neither one of these narratives would readily accept the use of such terms as ‘illegal’, ‘invasion’ and ‘occupation.’

The framing of the US ‘military intervention’ in Afghanistan, starting on October 7, 2001, as the official start of what was dubbed as a global ‘war on terror’ was left almost entirely to US government strategists. Former President, George W. Bush, his Vice President, Dick Cheney, his Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld and an army of spokespersons, neoconservative ‘intellectuals’, journalists and so on, championed the military option as a way to rid Afghanistan of its terrorists, make the world a safe place and, as a bonus, bring democracy to Afghanistan and free its oppressed women.

For that crowd, the US war in an already war-torn and extremely impoverished country was a just cause, maybe violent at times, but ultimately humanistic.

Another narrative, also a western one, challenged the gung-ho approach used by the Bush administration, argued that democracy cannot be imposed by force, reminded Washington of Bill Clinton’s multilateral approach to international politics, warned against the ‘cut and run’ style of foreign policymaking, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere.

Although both narratives may have seemed at odds at times, in actuality they accepted the basic premise that the United States is capable of being a moral force in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Whether those who may refer to themselves as ‘antiwar’ realize this or not, they, too, subscribe to the same notion of American exceptionalism and ‘Manifest Destiny’ that Washington continues to assign to itself.

The main difference between both of these narratives is that of methodology and approach and not whether the US has the right to ‘intervene’ in the affairs of another country, whether to ‘eradicate terrorism’ or to supposedly help a victim population, incapable of helping themselves and desperate for a western savior.

However, the humiliating defeat suffered by the US in Afghanistan should inspire a whole new way of thinking, one that challenges all Western narratives, without exception, in Afghanistan and throughout the world.

Obviously, the US has failed in Afghanistan, not only militarily and politically – let alone in terms of ‘state-building’ and every other way – the US-Western narratives on Afghanistan were, themselves, a failure. Mainstream media, which for two decades have reported on the country with a palpable sense of moral urgency, now seem befuddled. US ‘experts’ are as confused as ordinary people regarding the hasty retreat from Kabul, the bloody mayhem at the airport or why the US was in Afghanistan in the first place.

Meanwhile, the ‘humanistic interventionists’ are more concerned with Washington’s ‘betrayal’ of the Afghan people, ‘leaving them to their fate’, as if the Afghans are irrational beings with no agency of their own, or as if the Afghan people have called on the Americans to invade their country or have ‘elected’ American generals as their democratic representatives.

The US-Western propaganda, which has afflicted our collective understanding of Afghanistan for twenty years and counting, has been so overpowering to the point that we are left without the slightest understanding of the dynamics that led to the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country. The latter group is presented in the media as if entirely alien to the socio-economic fabric of Afghanistan. This is why the Taliban’s ultimate victory seemed, not only shocking but extremely confusing as well.

For twenty years, the very little we knew about the Taliban has been communicated to us through Western media analyses and military intelligence assessments. With the Taliban’s viewpoint completely removed from any political discourse pertaining to Afghanistan, an alternative Afghan national narrative was carefully constructed by the US and its NATO partners. These were the ‘good Afghans’, we were told, ones who dress up in Western-style clothes, speak English, attend international conferences and, supposedly, respect women. These were also the Afghans who welcomed the US occupation of their country, as they benefited greatly from Washington’s generosity.

If those ‘good Afghans’ truly represented Afghan society, why did their army of 300,000 men drop their weapons and flee the country, along with their President, without a serious fight? And if the 75,000 poorly-armed and, at times, malnourished Taliban seemed to merely represent themselves, why then did they manage to defeat formidable enemies in a matter of days?

There can be no argument that an inferior military power, like that of the Taliban, could have possibly persisted, and ultimately won, such a brutal war over the course of many years, without substantial grassroots support pouring in from the Afghan people in large swathes of the country. The majority of the Taliban recruits who have entered Kabul on August 15 were either children, or were not even born, when the US invaded their country, all those years ago. What compelled them to carry arms? To fight a seemingly unwinnable war? To kill and be killed? And why did they not join the more lucrative business of working for the Americans, like many others have?

We are just beginning to understand the Taliban narrative, as their spokespersons are slowly communicating a political discourse that is almost entirely unfamiliar to most of us. A discourse that we were not allowed to hear, interact with or understand.

Now that the US and its NATO allies are leaving Afghanistan, unable to justify or even explain why their supposed humanitarian mission led to such an embarrassing defeat, the Afghan people are left with the challenge of weaving their own national narrative, one that must transcend the Taliban and their enemies to include all Afghans, regardless of their politics or ideology.

Afghanistan is now in urgent need of a government that truly represents the people of that country. It must grant rights to education, to minorities and to political dissidents, not to acquire a Western nod of approval, but because the Afghan people deserve to be respected, cared for and treated as equals. This is the true national narrative of Afghanistan that must be nurtured outside the confines of the self-serving Western mischaracterization of Afghanistan and her people.

The post On Propaganda and Failed Narratives: New Understanding of Afghanistan is a Must first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Little Deaths . . . Finding Solace Inside One’s Heart

The consensus is in — no choice, no life, no job, no nothing, without a passport. That medical, DNA scan, the retina scan, all biological systems covered, that all-encompassing passport that lists every move, every moment, every job, every purchase, every fine, penalty, tax, rental, home, significant or insignificant emotional and economic and familial event, captured in a chip. Americans are spoiled, for sure, as are Europeans, and Canadians. That mostly encompasses the Great White Hopes of those respective “countries.” The rest of us, in these “first world” environs are struggling, even with debit and credit and La-La Land accoutrements ad infinitum.

These new times in the west are old times, bubbling up, really, from the early conquest days of razing Indian families, destroying and taking over and plowing through villages, lands, territories. Entire rooms at elite Ivy League universities and museums with drawers and boxes of Native American skulls, bones, skins, eyes, belongings, sacred objects. It is the way of the Egyptologists, and it is the way of the Crusades. Pillage, set villages on fire, and now, set states and countries on fire with fear and terror campaigns in order to exact total compliancy. Services, labor, debt, future payments, extracted from us, capitalism’s marks. Victims. Useless eaters-breeders-breathers-squatters.

Here, from David Rovics, musician and protestor, with some great stuff on Dissident Voice over the years, just coming back from Denmark (and other countries in his gig line). He embraces progressivism and the forced jabs. He is a good fellow, who interviewed me, and we talked about other things tied to the ugly side of leftists and their canceling culture, censorship, etc., but this conversation about jab/mask/remote lockup mandates has not happened yet. I still have room in my brain to listen to what he says, though he misses so many points here:

Despite the prevalence of disinformation platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube being as popular in Denmark as anywhere else that doesn’t have the good sense to ban them, the anti-vaccine movement and anti-lockdown movement in Denmark never grew to the proportions of such movements in the US, Germany, France and elsewhere. But unlike those aforementioned countries, in Denmark most people have a well-founded reason to trust the government on matters of public health and safety.

In Denmark, if anyone jaywalks, they’re usually either a foreigner or an antisocial type. The overwhelming majority of Danes would never do that. This is also true in Germany and some other countries. Americans and Brits and others visiting from abroad tend to make typically American and British individualistic, antisocial assumptions about this conformist behavior. They see a crowd of Germans or Danes standing at a crosswalk, waiting for the “walk” signal, even if there’s no traffic in any direction, and they see something scary, from Children of the Corn or some other horror movie, a bunch of zombies who can’t think for themselves, or are afraid of getting a ticket. (source — David Rovics)

That’s a whole other set of discussion points from this tour he had in Denmark about what democratic socialism is, what society is, how science and government should be trusted (really?). Jaywalking and shoot, tossing banana peels on the side of the road. How dare us lazy, supercilious and egotistical North Americans! Yankees!

The unfolding global hysteria is congealing into even more lovely by-products of Big Pharma as Dictatorship. It comes in many forms and offshoots, for sure. The main functions of Western society are broken — neoliberal and conservative values (sic) have gutted infrastructure, have thrown trillions of bucks-euros to the few, have propped up this society into a very effective kleptocracy, have imbued a dog eat dog set of beliefs into a slew of folks.

We are at the point where billionaires and their lackeys in high places set the narrative, tone, and write the legislation, laws and force zero delimits on corporations and government in this “we the people” system we supposedly “fought” for. There is collapse, after collapse, after collapse, and it is apparent in the lack of governance over decades, and the adventures of imperial overreach, too.

In daily lives, professional managerial class actors are hitting the middle/upper middle class stratum, economically, through the systems of pain, fines, fees, tolls, penalties, regressive taxation, permits and litigation that eat at us, the 80 percent, from the soul and the brain and the body. We are in a time of most people not being able to navigate “the system,” and that can be any system — school, medical, social security, DMV, courts, and any number of systems of oppression and subjugation. So it is a time of chaos, now Covid Chaos, moving into more Chaos.

Teachers should be a priority for Covid vaccines, unions and others say - POLITICO

“People are fed up,” says Winni Paul, a management consultant whose clients have included campuses and higher-education groups. “The graciousness, the compassion, the ‘we do it for the students, we do it for the work’ — that’s gone.”

And I am with a group of teachers from many states, who are now scrambling to figure out what to do with the forced jabs, the forced proof of jabs, the forced masking, all of that, and many will not submit to the experimental mRNA, many have looked into these DNA-alternating medical devices, and they feel alone, big time. Their AFT (American Federation of Teachers) union has caved, and they see in big cities and small, all venues requiring, soon, a passport, CDC-approved vaccination card.

Delta airlines is forcing non-vaccinated employees to pay an additional $200 a month premium, AKA fine for not being jabbed. Oh, that was yesterday (August 25), and that will not be the end of it. Fools like Thom Hartman advocate ER physicians having the right to refuse treatment to anyone coming in — motorcycle accident, heart attack, broken leg, stroke — who are not vaccinated.

This is the Brave New World already outlined by the eugenicists of the 1920s, of the Modest Proposal of Swift’s time, of the middle passage days of tossing overboard hundreds of sick shackled slaves in one one-way crossing. Multiply that by hundreds of ships, tossing human beings for the sharks, alive, shackled in chains. It is the genocidal policies of empires and their corporate thugs (overlords) in despoiling cultures, murdering millions, and enslaving regions for their rubber, silver, gold, lithium, any number of things the capitalists call loot and booty. Pirates compared to the thieves from history and today seem like Fred McFeely Rogers in comparison.

See the source image

Even a saint, Fauci, he is a titan of terror in his old man’s way — “over his 50-year career with the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to address the cause, to prevent or cure the exploding epidemics of allergies and chronic disease that Congress charged him with curtailing. The chronic disease pandemic is his enduring legacy. Those ailments now debilitate 54% of American children compared to 6% when he joined NIAD.” (source — RFK Jr.)

See the source image

In this group of teachers, daily there are emails announcing more and more statewide jab mandates, and the teachers that have to pay twice-a-week tests, if not jabbed, well, it is filling up those school districts; and many now in this group want out, since their email boxes are filling up. Teachers, youngish and not, with no money in the bank, really, and no place to go, since I predict all new rental agreements throughout the land (except in some Breaking Bad locales) will require proof of jab x, jab y, jab z, jab infinity.

The playing field shifts hourly, and while I have a literary reading manana, in Portland, for this hour, at least, the restaurant and community room demands all to be masked. There is no shot record demand, YET, but that’s on the horizon, since Oregon is the first state to reinstate mandatory outside masking policies. But the venue’s other locations, well, the rock and roll and progressives, they want to see vax cards or proof of SARS-CoV2 free tests. The Crystal Ballroom

It doesn’t matter how many millions of people worldwide are not happy with mRNA experimental chemicals forced into the bloodstream and across the blood-brain barrier;  not happy with the bioweaponry aspect of Operation Warp Speed; not happy with the therapeutics that have been disavowed and censored, which could have saved millions of lives, possibly. One size fits all, baby. This news aggregator and news maker site, well, it is almost scrubbed from all search engines:

These stories above and below are verboten in the minds of tens of millions, hundreds of millions Westerners — even though there are robust stories on other topics, besides Fauci, jabs and mRNA, and fascism in this places.

I am finding people fighting, for sure, against mandates. Hell, my one time with the doctor recently points to this: “While I did get the vaccination, I am against mandates. I am against forcing people against their will to get this. I am of the mind that people have the right to make up their own minds.” He’s older, maybe 70, is a DO, and I know the university where he adjunct taught and matriculated from, Touro University Nevada (TUN) (a private university in Henderson, Nevada. It is part of the Touro College and University System. Touro University Nevada is a branch campus of its sister campus Touro University California.)

My niece is there, in her second year, and my DO stated, his one word of advice for her is, Cash. “Tell her to write notes to family and friends, and state: ‘please send cash.’” The doctor likes me, and he’s a jokester. He told me reads a lot, and that he did work in Amazonian for years, “saving one life at a time.” He is looking at my recent stress test, and alas, getting a cardiologist on board to maybe do more investigation on some electrical anomalies when I got up to 160 beats per minute, that is another example of the failed capitalist system: there are none here on Highway 101 on the central coast, and getting one to see me could take weeks, out of the cities of Salem or Corvallis. This is the state of medicine, after decades of gutting taxation of the rich and the corporations (who are getting us sick) and years turning medicine into a bizarre insurance scam, where doctors spend more time on the computer screen than with the patient.

So, this next reset is all about pushing more and more people into fewer and fewer public spheres, pushing people away from outliers or those defiant and dissident like me and millions. It is about controlling the masses, setting forth sophisticated bandwagon forms of propaganda, and setting afire all forms of community gatherings and robust discussions of the millions of topics of the day.

With this teachers’ group, the messages are coming in:

  • Governor Pritzker just announced mandatory vax for all IL teachers
  • Here is Dr. Peter McCullough talking about the dangers of vaccines, among other things: Basically, the vaxxed are projecting all the havoc they themselves are wreaking even as “life is pretty much back to normal among the vaccinated,” as many are bragging onto the unvaxxed. Many op-eds in publications like WaPo and the NYT are filling their pages with doctors martyring themselves and declaring they won’t treat unvaxxed anymore (to cheers from bots and humans alike in the comments section) and normalizing ending friendships based on vaccination status. But they are the super spreaders. They are the ones making children and Grandma sick. This is scapegoating at its finest.
  • Some great work is being done by Mike Williams @ Sage of Quay. Also, great Common Law shows being done by Crrow777 Radio Alfonso Faggiola and Lena Pu.
  • Want to see a man stand up to the controllers? Check out Paul Unslaved . You can also gain a little insight from some of the good First Amendment auditors like Long Island Audit.
  • California AB455 – this bill, if passed, will mandate the C19 vaccine for all CA employees and for CA citizens to enter any establishment except church and grocery stores:
Doctor McCullough video.
  • Rally against this action set for September 8th
  • Some good news: a touching video of resistance to vaccine mandates in France (i cant verify the authenticity but hope it is real)
  • Lastly, ICYMI – Illinois’ Vax Verify – vaccination verification is tied to Experian – meaning residents will have to go through a one-time verification process through Experian to access their vaccination records. So stating the obvious – this is opening the door increasingly towards a social credit system.

Then this from one of the people on this list wanting the mandates and the draconian measures stopped:

Just a quick note: This Sunday will mark 58 years of me being active in the political sphere. Back in ’64, it was as a Goldwater volunteer. Some 6 years later, i switched sides, a consequence of the Vietnam War, the counterculture, ecological crisis,…  And became much more of an activist. I have no love whatsoever for the right.  But I’ve also seen the “left” act at critical points as a defender of the capitalist status quo, particularly as a consequence of the dominant tendency within the left to accept the state as if it were an institution acting on behalf of society as a whole, rather than the instrument of class power it has been since it emerged in history thousands of years ago. Both left and right (and “center”) are fully on board with the onrushing police state, while each proclaims itself to be defending the interests of humanity against the others. People need to look to themselves for solutions, and learn from historical movements, including anarchists and anti-statist socialists.

Connecting the dots is easy on one hand, but to get people to see this entire terror theater as planned is another can of GMO worms. Here, this is certainly a global, or EU, story worth a million lines of digital ink: Why do the experts on Science Advice for Policy by European Academies fight for higher pesticide exposure by Rosemary Mason

I heartily accept the motto,—”That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe,—”That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men and women are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

— Henry David Thoreau, Resistance to Civil Government, 1849

Succinctly, Communist approaches to anti-statism center on the relationship between political rule and class struggle. Karl Marx defined the state as the institution used by the ruling class of a country to maintain the conditions of its rule. To this extent, the ultimate goal of communist society was theorized as both stateless and classless.

We are at 8 billion, and the planet is run by Blackstone and BlackRock and around 30 financial organizations, and around 140 corporations. The bottleneck is what the planned pandemic was all about — getting people to run away from sanity, common sense, and running into the various insane asylums. For anyone to question why some of us — who are way beyond just coming out from under the Capitalist-Media-Education rock — might doubt the purveyors of capital, scientism, control, policing, finance and corrupt drug companies, well, that is where I am now — “since the majority of people are in line for the jab, what’s your fucking lunatic problem?”

Here, Chris Williams, and, yes, on ecosocialism — hmm:

The distortions that go on under capitalism are so obscene it’s hard to wrap your head around it sometimes, on a micro level as well as a macro level. I was riding on the subway and I took a couple of trains and I was looking at the ads. The average American sees about 3,000 ads a day. One ad was for a credit card, and this is the slogan for the credit card—“Less plastic, more human—Discover it is human.” Discover is the card that they were advertising. In other words, you can actually be more human by having this type of credit card. Another ad, and this gets to the quality of life, that I pass by was about online delivery of food—how you can order online instead of having to phone somebody—and the ad read, “You’ve perfected the odds of getting to third base faster. Food delivery date night.” The obscenity and depravity of capitalism knows no depths to which it will not plumb.

This is something that Karl Marx talked about quite a bit. He was speaking at the anniversary of the People’s Paper in 1856, and I think this resonates far more with us now than it did even in his time.

On the one hand, there have started into life industrial and scientific forces, which no epoch of the former human history had ever suspected. On the other hand, there exist symptoms of decay, far surpassing the horrors recorded of the latter times of the Roman Empire.

That kind of sense of decay pervades our world as it is currently structured. He goes on:

In our days, everything seems pregnant with its contrary: Machinery, gifted with the wonderful power of shortening and fructifying human labor, we behold starving and overworking it; The newfangled sources of wealth, by some strange weird spell, are turned into sources of want; The victories of art seem bought by the loss of character.

At the same pace that mankind masters nature, man seems to become enslaved to other men or to his own infamy. Even the pure light of science seems unable to shine but on the dark background of ignorance. All our invention and progress seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and in stultifying human life into a material force.

John Bellamy Foster on ecosocialism:  “Ecological resistance in the twenty-first century has more and more been informed by the development of Marxian ecology and ecosocialism more generally. However, as ecosocialist analysis has grown, various divergent branches of thought have emerged, often in conflict with each other. Based on the conviction that clarity about capitalism’s relation to the environment is indispensable for the strategic understanding of present-day struggles, this talk will present some of the new research within Marxian ecology, bringing together the core issues of the expropriation of nature and the metabolic rift, and seeking to unite the ecosocialist movements of our time.”

Another set of notes from another teacher on this V is for Vendetta Vaccines email group — I’m calling it that as a joke:

  • I just attended a workshop for religious exemptions, and will forward the email for any of those who wish to attend. I am also happy to share insights and notes I took to help out anyone who wishes to take this route. However, I would like to share some notes and important information discussed in this workshop.
  • First, if you are part a union or teachers union, Collective Bargaining needs to take place. Many unions did not have a seat at the table and have sent cease and desist letters that could delay the mandates. Remember the unions represent both the majority and the minority of their union members and even if there is only 15 percent against the mandates, those individuals should be represented. It was recommended to call your Labor Relations Representative or Union Rep to see  if they have sent a cease and desist letter or are planning on it. Key word is the Collective Bargaining aspect of the unions and you may be able to ask them to do so.
  • Additionally, I think if you are able to file for a religious exemption it is a good way to buy time. The common law approach may be a good option for those who do not have an option. Realistically, for Californians we are a Right to Work state, and employers have the right to fire and hire at will.  With either method there is a possibility of job termination which has to be considered, and I do not know exactly how the outcome has been going for individuals who have filed religious vs. common law approaches. That said I do know there have been many religious exemptions accepted and there is an appeals process if denied. If you are on a timetable and need to be vaccinated by a date that is closely approaching, the religious exemption is probably more likely to be one way to hold onto employment a little longer.  My understanding of the common law approach is that it can be more time consuming because legal notices have times frames for notices, responses, and actions to take place and may not work with your deadline which again can lead to termination. Because California is an At Will Work state there may be risk to filing for any unemployment as well, so all these things should be considered before deciding which route to take.
  • I am not saying one option is better than the other, I am just presenting them as Option A or  Option B, because I think we all have differences in our personal situations. One may work better for you personally than the other. That said, we should also have our plan B  in place if neither work. Helping each other is essential and it will be good to share with one another what has worked and what hasn’t, and I do not want to argue either method, just help out in any way possible. Our differences in ideology are unimportant to me at this time. I believe there is a good portion of us, who are strong personalities, opinionated and intelligence — and these may be the wonderful unifying qualities that have brought us together at this critical time to fight for our humanity.

GoFundMe for a new novel, or old one, I am fixing up to get published!

Take up the White Man’s Burden, send for the best ye breed,
Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives need –
new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child…
Take up the White Man’s burden, the savage wars of peace.

— Rudyard Kipling (1899)

The post Little Deaths . . . Finding Solace Inside One’s Heart first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Abandoned and Alone: Lamenting the US-Australian Alliance

Listening to Australian pundits talk about the relationship of their country with the US – at least from a strategic perspective – can be a trying exercise.  It is filled with angst, Freudian fears of abandonment, the strident megalomania of Australian self-importance.  Critics of this complex are shouted down as Sinophiles or in the pay of some foreign power.

This unequal and distinctly unhealthy relationship has been marked by a certain outsourcing tendency.  Australian foreign policy is a model example of expectation: that other powers will carry its weight: processing refugees; aiding Australians stranded or persecuted overseas; reliance on that fiction known as the extended nuclear deterrent.  Self-reliance is discouraged in favour of what Barry Posen calls a “cheap ride”.

In recent years, the Australian security-military apparatus has been more than ingratiating regarding its alliance with Washington, despite such sombre warnings as those from the late Malcom Fraser.  In 2014, the former prime minister argued that Australia, at the end of the Cold War, was presented with an opportunity to pursue a policy of “peace, cooperation, and trust” in the region.  Instead, Canberra opted to cling on to a foreign war machine that found itself bloodied and bruised in the Middle East.  Now, Australia risked needlessly going to war against China on the side of the US.  Best to, he suggested, shut down US training bases in the Northern Territory and close the Pine Gap signals centre as soon as feasible.

During the Trump administration, a more than usually cringe worthy effort was made to be Washington’s stalking horse in the Asia-Pacific region.  Poking China on such matters as COVID-19 was seen as very sensible fare, as it might invite a more solid commitment of the United States to the region.  But the momentum for an easing of some US global commitments was impossible to reverse.  The country was looking inward (the ravages of the COVID contagion, a country riven by protest and the toxic and intoxicating drug of identity politics).  Those in Canberra were left worried.

This state of affairs has prompted the glum lament from the veteran strategist Hugh White that Australia’s politicians lack imagination in the face of the most significant change in its foreign relations since British settlement.  They refuse to accept that China is there, not to be contained but to be accommodated in some form. The Pacific pond will have to accept two hegemons rather than one, a point the Washington-hugging types in Canberra find not only impermissible but terrifying.

The fall of Kabul offered further stimulus for panic.  The Western war adventurers had been defeated and instead of asking why Australians were ever in Afghanistan, the focus shifted to the umbilical cord with Washington.  In conducting interviews with four former Australian Prime Ministers, Paul Kelly of The Australian, being more woolly-headed than usual, saw Biden’s withdrawal as “so devoid of judgment and courage that it raises a fog of doubt about Biden himself and about America’s democratic sustenance as a reliable great power.”

Of the former prime ministers interviewed, the undying pugilist Tony Abbott wondered what “fight” was left in “Biden’s America”.  There might well be some in the reserves, he speculated, but US allies had to adjust.  Australia had to show “more spine” in the alliance.

Kevin Rudd, himself an old China hand, wanted to impress upon the Australian public and body politic that “we are in the midst of a profound paradigm shift in global and regional geopolitics.”  The US continued to question itself about what strategic role it would play in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of China’s inexorable rise.  Australia had to plan for the “best” and the “worst”: the former entailing “a robust regionally and globally engaged America”; the latter, “an America that begins to retreat.”  On August 14, Rudd had urged the Biden administration to “reverse the course of its final military withdrawal”.

Malcolm Turnbull opted for the small troop thesis: “America should have retained a garrison force in Afghanistan.”  Doing so might have provided sufficient assurance for Afghan national forces and prevented a Taliban victory.  “It was not palatable to have kept forces there, but what we have seen now is even less palatable.”  The US, he noted, had retained forces across European states, Japan and South Korea “for decades”.  (Turnbull misses a beat here on such shaky comparisons, given that the Taliban would have never tolerated the presence of such a garrison.)

Trump comes in for a lecturing: “The [US-Taliban] talks should never have occurred in the absence of the Afghan government and their effect was to delegitimise that government.”  In all fairness to the Trump administration, there was little by way of legitimacy in the Afghan national government to begin with.  Negotiating with the Taliban was simply an admission as to where the bullets and bombs were actually coming from, not to mention how untenable the existence of the Kabul regime had become.

As for John Howard, the man who sent Australian forces to Afghanistan to begin with, the garrison thesis held even greater merit.  Again, the false analogy of other US imperial footprints was drawn: if Washington can station 30,000 troops in South Korea for seven decades after the end of hostilities, why not Afghanistan?  Hopefully, this “bungle” would remain confined to the handling of Afghanistan and not affect the US-Australian alliance.  “I believe if it were put to the test, the Americans would honour the ANZUS treaty.”

Such reflections, part moaning, part regret, should provide brickwork for a more independent foreign policy.  Alison Broinowski, former diplomat and Vice-President of Australians for War Powers Reform, offers some level-headed advice.  “If Australians ignore the change in the global power balance that is happening before our eyes,” she writes, “we will suffer the consequences.  If we can’t defeat the Taliban, how will we prevail in a war against China?”  Such a question, given the terrifying answer that follows, is not even worth asking.

The post Abandoned and Alone: Lamenting the US-Australian Alliance first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Fight them on the beaches

Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, gives new and shameful meaning to Winston Churchill’s rousing speech about fighting an enemy on the beaches.

While the Taliban were sweeping to victory in Afghanistan at the weekend, Raab was reportedly lounging on a sun-splashed beach on the Greek island of Crete.

The arrogant Raab – who is prone to lecture Russia and China over alleged misconduct – tried to make out he was being fully briefed by intelligence agencies on the unfolding chaos in Afghanistan, no doubt while he was topping up his piña coladas and sunscreen.

His boss, prime minister Boris Johnson, has also come under fire for being on holiday at a time when the British-backed regime in Afghanistan imploded.

Raab claims he, like many other world leaders, was caught by surprise with the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban insurgents. Since the United States, Britain and other NATO members announced their military withdrawal from the Central Asian country several months ago, the Taliban have made dramatic gains culminating in the collapse of the Western-backed regime in Kabul on Sunday.

After 20 years of waging war in Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands of lives lost, the Americans and British are fleeing the country like rats of a sinking ship – and with the Taliban back in power.

This is an ignominious debacle of epic proportions. The virtuous and nauseating pretensions of the United States and Britain are laid bare for the criminal lies that they are. President Joe Biden and his British lackeys are trying to spin the fiasco as a failure by the Afghan security forces.

But even the dutiful US and British news media cannot conceal the hideous reality. After trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money and public services slashed to pay for that, the reality is the Western military-industrial complexes made a rip-off fortune from weapons that are now in the hands of the supposed sworn enemy of the Taliban.

As CNN candidly editorialised: “The imagery from Afghanistan is deeply damaging to Biden politically and paints a disastrous picture of a nation that has long seen itself as a global leader and guardian of democracy, human rights and humanitarianism”.

Indeed the imagery is devastating for the hypocritical posturing by the US and Britain. Henceforth, those two culprit nations should never be able to lecture other nations about “rules-based order”, international law and human rights.

Desperate scenes of Afghans clinging on to US military cargo planes as they take off from Kabul airport – and subsequently falling to their deaths – speaks of the horrific, callous debacle for American imperialism. After two decades of destroying a country along with Britain and other NATO powers, in the end, it’s a heartless, cowardly, hurried retreat in which Afghans are abandoned to a miserable fate.

Comparisons are being made with the Fall of Saigon when the United States fled in a hurry from South Vietnam in 1975 at the end of a war in which millions of Vietnamese were killed by American carpet bombing and scorched-earth raids. Incredibly, Biden and his aides are in abject denial, saying there is no such comparison with Afghanistan.

Not only Vietnam but comparisons can also be made with many other nations that the US and its allies have destroyed over the decades with their military machinations only to be finally forced to quit in defeat. Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and others.

Afghanistan is perhaps the clearest, most damning demonstration of the criminal conduct of US imperialism along with its lapdogs in NATO. The United States is a warmongering tyranny and scourge on the planet.

And complicit in the war crimes is the corporate news media. For 20 years, the Western mainstream media have whitewashed and laundered the ludicrous, cynical lies of the US government and accomplices about what they were doing in Afghanistan. Fighting terrorism? Nation-building? Supporting democracy? Sickening sycophancy is the only fit description for such media.

How absurd and grotesque that Western media spun such narratives in the face of all the evidence of criminal military occupation. The proof of that is the fiasco of American, British and NATO now scurrying away from their 20-year disaster.

And nothing is more fitting than Biden trying to blame Afghans for the mess and British politicians lounging on Greek island beaches.

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Children’s Teeth, Collected Decades Ago, Can Show the Damage of Nuclear Testing

Nuclear Weapon Test, Bikini Atoll, 1954

In 2020, Harvard University’s T. C. Chan School of Public Health began a five-year study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, that will examine the connection between early life exposure to toxic metals and later-life risk of neurological disease. A collaborator with Harvard, the Radiation and Public Health Project, will analyze the relationship of strontium-90 (a radioactive element in nuclear weapons explosions) and disease risk in later life.

The centerpiece of the study is a collection of nearly 100,000 baby teeth, gathered in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the St. Louis Committee for Nuclear Information.

The collection of these teeth occurred during a time of intense public agitation over the escalating nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Soviet governments that featured the new hydrogen bomb (H-bomb), a weapon more than a thousand times as powerful as the bomb that had annihilated Hiroshima.  To prepare themselves for nuclear war, the two Cold War rivals conducted well-publicized, sometimes televised nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere—434 of them between 1945 and 1963.  These tests sent vast clouds of radioactive debris aloft where, carried along by the winds, it often traveled substantial distances before it fell to earth and was absorbed by the soil, plants, animals, and human beings.

The hazards of nuclear testing were underscored by the U.S. government’s March 1, 1954 explosion of an H-bomb on Bikini Atoll, located in the Marshall Islands.  Although an area the size of New England had been staked out as a danger zone around the test site, a heavy dose of nuclear fallout descended on four inhabited islands of the Marshall grouping and on a Japanese fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon—all substantially outside the danger zone—with disastrous results.

Criticism of the nuclear arms race, and especially nuclear testing, quickly escalated.  Prominent individuals, including Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, and Benjamin Spock, issued spirited warnings.  New mass membership organizations arose, among them the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) in the United States, the National Council for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Tests (which morphed into the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) in Britain, and the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs.

The public grew alarmed, particularly by the fact that strontium-90 from nuclear tests was transmitted from the grass, to cattle, to milk, and finally to human bodies—with special concern as it built up in children’s bones and teeth.  By the late 1950s, polls found that most Americans considered fallout a “real danger.”

Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, emerged as one of the most trenchant and effective American critics, circulating anti-testing petitions signed by thousands of U.S. scientists and even larger numbers of scientists abroad.  Pauling charged that the nuclear bomb tests through 1958 would ultimately produce about 1 million seriously defective children and some 2 million embryonic and neonatal deaths.

Determined to maintain its nuclear weapons program, the U.S. government was horrified by the popular uproar and anxious to suppress it.  U.S. intelligence agencies and congressional investigations were unleashed against groups like SANE and antinuclear leaders like Pauling, while U.S. information agencies and government officials publicly minimized the dangers of nuclear testing.  In a Life magazine article, Edward Teller, often called “the father of the H-bomb,” insisted that nuclear test radiation “need not necessarily be harmful,” but “may conceivably be helpful.”

Even so, public concern grew.  In August 1958, Herman Kalckar, a biologist at the National Institutes of Health, published an article in the journal Nature, calling on public health agencies in multiple nations to engage in large-scale collection of baby teeth. Kalckar proposed testing teeth for strontium-90 from bomb fallout, as children are most vulnerable to the toxic effects of radioactivity.

Washington University scientists recognized that a tooth study could change public policy. In December 1958, they joined with leaders of the Committee for Nuclear Information, a citizen group opposed to nuclear war and above-ground bomb tests, and adopted a proposal to collect and test teeth for strontium-90 concentrations.

For the next 12 years, the Committee worked furiously, soliciting tooth donations through community-based institutions like schools, churches, scout groups, libraries, and dental offices. A total of 320,000 teeth were collected, and a Washington University lab measured strontium-90.

Results clearly showed a massive increase in strontium-90 as testing continued. Children born in 1963 (the height of bomb tests) had an average of 50 times more than those born in 1951 (when large-scale tests began). Medical journal articles detailed results.  Information on the tooth study was sent to Jerome Wiesner, science advisor to President John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy, already seeking a test ban treaty, was clearly influenced by the uproar over the fate of children.  In his July 1963 speech announcing the successful conclusion of test ban negotiations by the governments of the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom, he argued that governments could not be indifferent to the catastrophe of nuclear war or to “children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs.”  The outcome was the Partial Test Ban Treaty, which banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water.

According to the ongoing tooth study, the average strontium-90 in baby teeth dropped by half in just four years after the test ban. With their goal apparently accomplished, the Committee on Nuclear Information and the University halted tooth collection and testing.  Soon thereafter, the Committee dissolved.

Three decades later, Washington University staff discovered thousands of abandoned baby teeth that had gone untested. The school donated the teeth to the Radiation and Public Health Project, which was conducting a study of strontium-90 in teeth of U.S. children near nuclear reactors.

Now, using strontium-90 still present in teeth, the Radiation and Public Health Project will conduct an analysis of health risk, which was not addressed in the original tooth study, and minimally addressed by government agencies.  Based on actual radiation exposure in bodies, the issue of how many Americans suffered from cancer and other diseases from nuclear testing fallout will be clarified.

The post Children’s Teeth, Collected Decades Ago, Can Show the Damage of Nuclear Testing first appeared on Dissident Voice.