Category Archives: War

Afghanistan War Outcome: Hope for Sovereign Nations Fighting the Scourge of Neocolonial Imperialism

Photo credit from the archives of Newsonline

Exits of Netanyahu and Trump: chance to dial down Mideast tensions

The Iraqi geopolitical analyst, Ali Fahim, recently said in an interview with The Tehran Times: “The arrival of [newly elected Iranian President] Ebrahim Raisi at the helm of power gives a great moral impetus to the resistance axis.” Further, with new administrations in the United States, Israel, and Iran, another opportunity presents itself to reinstate fully the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement, as well as completely lift the US economic sanctions from Iran.

Let us wait and see after Raisi is in power in August 2021. It is a fact that, since the Trump administration pulled out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, tensions have been on the rise. One can legitimately suspect that the Trump pull-out had as its real intentions: first, to provoke Tehran; second to undo one of the only foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration, which was negotiated by John Kerry for the US. The Trump administration also used unfair economic sanctions on Iran as a squeeze for regime-change purposes. This was a complete fiasco: the Islamic Republic of Iran suffered but held together.

As far as military tensions in the region, there are many countries besides Syria where conflicts between Iran-supported groups and US-supported proxies are simmering, or full blown. The US does its work, not only via Israel in the entire region, but also Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen, and presently Turkey in Syria. Right now conflicts are active in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine, but something could ignite in Lebanon at any time.

Photo credit from the archives of Newsonline

Iran views itself as the lead supporter of the resistance movement, not only through its support for regional allies like Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad, but also beyond the Middle-East, for Maduro in Venezuela. The upcoming Iranian administration does not hide its international ambition. For better or worse, Iran sees itself as a global leader of smaller nonaligned countries that are resisting US imperialism, be it Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Lebanon, or Venezuela. Even though Iran is completely different ideologically, it has replaced the leadership of Yugoslavia’s Tito or Cuba’s Castro. Both were not only Marxists but also leaders of the nonaligned movement during the Cold War, when the US and the USSR were competing to split the world in two. Now the dynamics have shifted because of China’s rising global influence, and the Iran Islamic Republic thinks it has a card to play in this complex geopolitical imbroglio.

Photo credit from the archives of Newsonline

In the US, Europe and Gulf States, Raisi has been categorized as a hardliner cleric and judge, but this gives Raisi more power than he will have as president. In Iran, major foreign policy issues are not merely up to the president to decide but a consensus process involving many. In the end such critical decisions are always signed off by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Khamenei has already indicated that he supports going back to the 2015 nuclear deal. During his electoral campaign, Raisi, who is close to Khamenei despite previous opposition, said that if elected he would uphold the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement.

Photo Credit:  Gilbert Mercier

Ottoman empire revival under Erdogan

Turkey’s President, Recep Erdogan, often behaves as a modern day Sultan. He is shrewd and extremely ambitious. He fancies himself to be the global leader, politically and militarily, of Sunny Islam. Under Erdogan, Turkey has flexed its military muscles, either directly or through Syrian proxies, not only in Syria, but also in Libya, as well as in Turkey’s support for Qatar in the small Gulf State’s recent skirmish with Saudi Arabia. Erdogan thinks he now has a card to play in Afghanistan. More immediately and strategically, the serious issue on Erdogan’s plate is called Idlib.

Photo credit from the archives of Newsonline

The problem of the pocket of Idlib has to be resolved, and unfortunately, for all the civilian population that has been and will be in the crossfire, it can only be solved by a full-on military operation, with troops from Bashar al-Assad and Russia. Turkey is, of course, adamant about keeping a military presence and influence within Syria to prevent a complete Assad victory. Time will tell, but the war of attrition has to end. For this to happen, Russia has to commit to face Turkey from a military standpoint. If Russia is ready for a direct confrontation with Turkey, then Bashar al-Assad’s troops, and Russian forces bringing mainly logistic and air support, should prevail.

What should make this easier is the fact Erdogan has overplayed his hand for quite some time. This includes his tense relationships with his supposed NATO allies, many of whom, including France, Greece and even Germany, would not mind having him out of NATO altogether.

There are important factors that explain, not only why Erdogan is quite popular with Turks, but also why his position could become precarious. Erdogan is playing on the Turkish nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire.

From one Empire to two others: the Sykes-Picot agreement

To understand better this imperial dynamic, we must go back to the middle of World War I, when the Ottoman Empire was allied with Germany. In 1916, the Sykes-Picot secret agreement effectively sealed the fate of post World War I Middle-East. This British-French agreement, in expectation of a final victory, was a de-facto split of the Ottoman Empire. In the resulting colonial or imperial zones of influence, a euphemism for an Anglo-French control of the region, the British would get Palestine, Jordan, Iraq and the Gulf area, while France would take control of Syria and Lebanon. More than 100 years later, the misery created by this imperialist deal lingers in the entire region, from Palestine, with the 1948 English-blessed creation of the Zionist state of Israel, to Iraq. France put in place two protectorates in Syria and Lebanon, in which the respective populations did not fare much better. Even today, French governments still act as if they have a say in Lebanese affairs.

Photo Credit from the archive Magharebia

The weight of history and the nostalgia of 600 years of rule in the Middle-East are why some Turks — especially Erdogan — feel entitled to an intrusive role in the region. The unfortunate story of the Middle-East has been to go from one imperialism to another. With the American empire taking over in the mid-1950s, the only competition during the Cold War became the USSR. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US had carte blanche. It became more blunt about the exploitation of resources, regime-change policies and its role as the eternal champion of the sacred state of Israel. Quickly, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar became the US’ best friends in the Arab world. I have called this alliance between the West, Israel and the oil-rich Gulf states an unholy alliance. It is still at play, mainly against Iran.

Photo Credit: David Stanley

Since the collapse of the USSR, the US empire has tried to assert a worldwide hegemony by mainly two different approaches: support of autocratic regimes like those in the Gulf States, or pursuit of regime change policies to get rid of sovereign nations. This is what I have identified as engineering failed states: a doctrine at play in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Often, Islam soldiers of fortune — called at first freedom fighters as in Afghanistan, or the so-called Free Syrian Army — have mutated down the line into ISIS terrorists. Once the mercenaries developed independent ambitions, they served a dual purpose: firstly, as tools of proxy wars; secondly as a justification for direct military interventions by the empire and its vassals. Since the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq the bottom line results have been the same: death and destruction. Tabula rasa of Iraq, Libya and Syria, with countries left in ruins, millions killed, and millions of others turned into refugees and scattered to the winds. The numbers are mind boggling in the sheer horrors they reflect. According to the remarkable non-partisan Brown University Costs of War project, since the start of the US-led so-called war on terror, post September 11, 2001, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere the direct cost in people killed has been over 801,000. So far, the financial burden for US taxpayers has been $6.4 trillion.

Photo credit from the archives of Newsonline

Does Erdogan think he can do better than Alexander the Great with Afghans?

Apparently Erdogan’s imperial ambitions reach as far as the land of the Pashtuns. The Taliban already control about 85 percent of Afghanistan. While most NATO troops have either left or are in the process of doing so, Erdogan has volunteered Turkish troops to secure Kabul’s airport. Some in the Middle-East speculate, rightly or wrongly, that Erdogan plans to send to Afghanistan some of his available Syrian mercenaries, like those he has used in Libya. Even if this is rubber stamped by regional powers like Pakistan or Iran, which it won’t be, such a direct or proxy occupation will fail. If Turkish or Syrian mercenaries, or any other foreign proxies for that matter, try to get in the way of the Taliban, they will be shredded to bits.

Does Erdogan think he is a modern day version of Alexander the Great? This is plainly laughable! The Taliban are resuming control of Afghanistan, and that is the reality. Something Afghans agree upon is that they want all occupying foreigners out. This will include Turkish and Syrian mercenaries.

Photo Credit:  Gilbert Mercier

Post Netanyahu Israel: more of the same for Palestinians?

For the Palestinians living either in Gaza or in the occupied territories, one element that has changed in Israel is that Netanyahu is no longer in power. It would be naive to think that the new Israeli administration will be less Zionist in its support for Jewish settlers expanding their occupation of Palestinian land, but we might see a small shift, more like a pause in Israel’s bellicose behavior.

Lebanon on the brink: opportunity for Israel to attack Hezbollah?

Despite Lebanon’s dreadful political and economic situation, Israel would be ill advised to consider any military action. Hezbollah is a formidable fighting force of 70,000 men, who have been battle hardened for almost a decade in Syria. Vis a vis Iran, a direct aggression of Israel is even less likely. With Trump gone, it seems that Israel’s hawks have missed out on that opportunity. Furthermore, it would be borderline suicidal for the Jewish state to open up many potential fronts at once against Hezbollah, Hamas, and Bashar al-Assad’s army. All of them would have the backing and logistic support of Iran.

Once the 2015 nuclear agreement is in force again, with the Biden administration, the tensions in the region should significantly decrease. It is probable that in the new negotiations, Iran will request that all the US economic sanctions, which were put in place by the Trump administration, be lifted.

Photo credit from Resolute Support Media archive

Neocolonial imperialism: a scourge that can be defeated

One thing about US administrations that has remained constant pretty much since the end of World War II is an almost absolute continuity in foreign policy. From Bush to Obama, Obama to Trump, and now Trump to Biden, it hardly matters if the US president is a Democrat or Republican. The cornerstone of foreign policy is to maintain, and preferably increase, US hegemony by any means necessary. This assertion of US imperial domination, with help from its NATO vassals, can be blunt like it was with Trump, or more hypocritical with a pseudo humanitarian narrative as during the Obama era.

The imperatives of military and economic dominance have been at the core of US policies, and it is doubtful that this could easily change. Mohammed bin-Salman‘s war in Yemen is part of this scenario. Some naively thought MBS would be pushed aside by the Biden administration. The clout of the Saudis remained intact, however, despite the CIA report on the gruesome assassination of a Washington Post journalist in Turkey. All evidence pointed to bin-Salman, but he was not pushed aside by his father. Under Biden, MBS is still Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and de-facto autocratic ruler. The Saudis’ oil and money still have considerable influence in Washington.

The Saudis understand very well that, since the 1970s, their real geopolitical power has resided in the way they can impact global oil prices. They can still make the barrel price go up or down to serve specific geopolitical interests. For example, recently the Saudis tried to help the US regime change policy in Venezuela by flooding the global market to make oil prices crash. Saudi Arabia and its United Arab Emirates ally have used the black gold as an economic weapon countless times, and very effectively.

The great appetite of the Saudis for expensive weapons systems is another reason why they have a lot of weight in Washington and elsewhere. How can one oppose the will of a major client of the corporate merchants of death of the military-industrial complex?

Photo Credit from archive of DVIDSHUB

History will eventually record the 20-year Afghanistan war as a defeat and perhaps the beginning of the end for the US empire that established its global dominance aspiration in 1945. People from countries like Yemen, Palestine, as well as Mali, Kashmir, and even Haiti, who are fighting against an occupation of their lands, respectively, by the imperial little helpers Saudi Arabia, Israel, France, India and the United Nations, should find hope in what is going on in Afghanistan. My News Junkie Post partner Dady Chery has explained the mechanics of it brilliantly in her book, We Have Dared to Be Free. Yes, occupiers of all stripes can be defeated! No, small sovereign nations or tribes should not despair! The 20-year US-NATO folly in Afghanistan is about to end. The real outcome is a victory of the Pashtuns-Taliban that is entirely against all odds. It is a victory against the most powerful military alliance ever assembled in history. Yemenites, Palestinians, Tuaregs, Kashmiris, Haitians and other proud people, fighting from different form of neocolonial occupations, should find inspiration from it. It can be done!

Photo Credit from the archive of Antonio Marin Segovia

The post Afghanistan War Outcome: Hope for Sovereign Nations Fighting the Scourge of Neocolonial Imperialism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Afghanistan: Deadly Costs of a War for Profit Won by the Taliban

As the United States and NATO‘s war in Afghanistan struggles to end, most observers and commentators, at least in the West, are still either delusional enough or more likely paid enough, not to publicly recognize a basic evidence: the Taliban are in the process of winning the 20-year war, which is the United States’ longest war in the country’s relatively brief history.

Some at least pretend to be puzzled by this turn of events. However, all of it, or at least the final outcome, was completely predictable, almost from the start and definitely for at least a decade. When you look at the numbers, it appears that what truly kept the empire and its NATO vassals in Afghanistan was the financial imperative of the military-industrial complex, the imperative of war for profit.

Now that the war in Afghanistan is almost over, we must look at its vertiginous costs: human and financial. Numbers are abstractions that do not carry any weight in emotions. But when the matter becomes macabre war bookkeeping, the numbers become grim, atrocious and loaded with pain, as they accurately tell the story of 20 years of disproportionate and intense suffering imposed on the Afghan people by the occupiers. The tabulation of misery for Afghans will keep echoing long after the invaders, who brought mostly death and destruction, are gone.

First the number of deaths for NATO: since the invasion in 2001, more than 3,500 NATO troops have died, as well as 3,900 US contractors. This total of 7,400, not to minimize it, represents less than 5 percent of the global death toll during the 20-year war. In other words, more than 95 percent of the deaths were Afghans: either Taliban, Afghan army soldiers, or civilians. The Taliban death toll estimate stands at 51,000. Meanwhile, the NATO-trained Afghan army’s death toll is currently 66,000. More than 47,000 Afghan civilians are estimated to have died in the conflict. Overall, the Brown University Costs of War Project, which has been doing a stellar job at tracking the nasty war numbers, estimates that in all, between 171,000 and 176,000 people were killed in the war.

Further, the war’s side effects include elevated rate of diseases due to malnutrition, lack of clean water, and vastly reduced access to health care. Despite NATO’s propaganda buzzwords about so-called nation building efforts, which in time became the pseudo mission, the life expectancy in Afghanistan is currently 52 years. Every factor correlated to a premature death, such as poverty, malnutrition, poor or no sanitation, and lack of basic health care have been closely associated with the 20-year war.

Let us now focus on the gargantuan financial costs of the war. According to the Pentagon, the US military operations in Afghanistan through two decades have cost $1.00 trillion. According to the Brown University researchers of the Costs of War project, however, the real cost of the war in Afghanistan is a staggering $2.26 trillion.

Over the years, many analysts and even people in the four successive US administrations, as well as military commanders, knew that the war in Afghanistan was unwinnable. In its folly, and arrogant ignorance of the historical nature of Afghanistan as “graveyard of empires,” the US empire and 38 of its vassals embarked in a delusional so-called nation building Afghan project of a massive scale. Of course, because the current empire is Orwellian in nature, just like in Iraq shortly afterward in 2003, nation building was in fact nation wrecking: a perverse geopolitical strategy of engineering failed states in order to justify an endless occupation.

The four administrations: Bush, Obama, Trump and now Biden, are all guilty, but they will never be charged for the countless deaths and mayhem their policies created. As matter of fact, they will never publicly make amends and admit their monumental failures. But the answer for this lack of candid remorse might reside elsewhere. In the context of wars for profit, it hardly matters who wins or loses on the battlefields or the number of innocent people who die and are called collateral damage. This might sound cynical, but what really matters is the bottom line: the profit for the shareholders of the military-industrial complex. Many investors, in the United States and elsewhere, have become incredibly wealthy from the $2.26 trillion “invested” in the Afghanistan war by American taxpayers, largely without their approval or even their knowledge.

I wrote extensively about the Afghanistan/Pakistan war in the 12 years since we started News Junkie Post. In 2012, I drew an analogy with the war in Vietnam in my analysis: “NATO is winning in Afghanistan like the United States was in Vietnam”. It was sarcastic but nonetheless correct. The United States had to admit publicly that it had lost the war in Vietnam in a debacle, because at the time some real reporting was still going on. I don’t think that any US administrations, and their mighty NATO allies, will ever admit that they lost their 20-year war against the Taliban. Some of us remember the US’ dramatic exit from the American embassy under siege in Saigon when it officially lost the Vietnam war. It was live, on prime time, for everybody in the world to see. This was quite a contrast from the US military vacating their sprawling Bagram base near Kabul. A few days ago an Afghan army commander described that the US military left their Bagram Air base in the middle of the night, like thieves. They simply shut down electrical power and left behind a vast amount of discarded equipment, supplies such as bottled water, and random trash.

In this de facto defeat of the US empire, isn’t it embarrassing that such a formidable military force like NATO, so advanced in terms of technology, compared to its enemy, would lose to a ragtag army equipped with Kalashnikovs and mostly, either stolen or makeshift, military equipment like home made improvised explosive devices (IED). In this completely asymmetrical warfare the little guys armed with their shear courage, patience, and remarkable guerrilla-warfare intelligence have prevailed. The ultimate victory of the Taliban, it has to be called that, should be a lesson for future want-to-be Goliaths, a lesson for neocolonial imperial powers that their occupation schemes do not usually end well.

What kind of arrogance and stupidity made the Orwellian Empire and its NATO associates think that they would surely beat Afghanistan’s Pashtuns, considering that Alexander the Great, the British Empire, then the USSR had all failed? The same insane rationale was probably at play in the mind of Adolf Hitler when he thought he could do better than Napoleon against Russia. The near outcome of America longest war is a proof that with organization, skills and pure will power, fighting for one’s land and culture against a foreign occupation can make a people unbeatable. There’s no doubt in my mind that from now on, nobody will dare to invade the land of the Pashtuns.

At its peak, during the Obama/Biden administration, the United States had 100,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Now many of them must realize that they went there for nothing. Or even worse, maybe they came back home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and without a leg or an arm. President Biden has already pushed back the deadline for a complete withdrawal of the US troops from May 1 to September 11, 2021. There are still around 7,000 allied troops in Afghanistan, half of them Americans. Let us hope that the nefarious and powerful military-industrial complex doesn’t find a way to whisper in Biden’s ear that the US military should just stay a little bit longer, or maybe install a CIA drone base in Pakistan. While the US and NATO cannot claim victory, they can still wrongly claim “Mission Accomplished” and leave entirely. The sooner the better for a land they wrecked.

Photograph one from the archive of Newsonline; photographs two and eight from the archive of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; photograph four from the archive of Airman Magazine; photographs three, five, six, seven and ten from the archive of DVIDSHUB; and photograph nine from the archive of Resolute Support Media.

The post Afghanistan: Deadly Costs of a War for Profit Won by the Taliban first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Once a US Soldier, Always Wounded, Always Losing!

What do nations care about the cost of war, if by spending a few hundred millions in steel and gunpowder they can gain a thousand millions in diamonds and cocoa?
W.E.B. DuBois

I Began My Career Working with Homeless Veterans. Here's What I Learned |  Inc.com

He died. In an assisted (sic) care (oxymoron) home (nope) facility/prison (yes). Homeless for a few years; he was a photographer; and his life went to shit in four years. He overspent on photo equipment, a studio, gave away shoots, and alas, he ended up living in his car, putting the entire inventory in an expensive storage unit, and then he tried surviving.

I met him when I was a social worker helping him as a short-term veteran (Army, 12 months, no combat) in a housing program, 24/7, where my job was to get him on his feet, get his VA benefits together, get him back on some financial track, and getting him inspired to live.

He was curious, could run in mixed company, and he was fragile. That is the way of families — estranged, bizarre old men (father) moving on with second and third wives, and just giving shit about offspring.

I worked for the Starvation Army, one bloody year, and you can read about that hell hole of a fake (maybe not) religious wacko institution (poverty pimps): Here, Here and Here, over at Dissident Voice.

The preachers and lecturers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves. Why, a free-spoken man, of sound lungs, cannot draw a long breath without causing your rotten institutions to come toppling down by the vacuum he makes. Your church is a baby-house made of blocks, and so of the state.

…The church, the state, the school, the magazine, think they are liberal and free! It is the freedom of a prison-yard.

― Henry David Thoreau, I to Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

He lost one leg to diabetes, and it was typical – small black dot on his foot, and then, living the rough life, cold weather chills in a vehicle, long walks in the cold when the car broke down. Bad diet, and stress.

They chopped it (the leg) off at the knee. He was having eye/vision issues. He was a smart guy, even did a trivia night for his fellow homeless vets and their families. His memory, though, was flagging. He never wanted to learn how to deal with a prosthetic leg. He was getting more and more confused, obsessed with CNBC-type shit, and anti-trump disease to the max.

He had to be reminded of everything, daily, and we worked on getting him housing vouchers, and, alas, he was finally getting Social Security, and then, the VA took care of some of his stuff.

Nursing home kitchens in 'horrible' condition endanger the elderly,  advocates say

He went to a couple of my fiction readings in Portland, and he was always there for my movie nights to watch some documentary that pushed to push against the military mindset, and he was there to listen to me rail and rail.

He found out his estranged father left some money to him when he died. It was a windfall, and my vet could not handle all the information and financial asides. It took two years to get that money, and he gave one leech a $10,000 loan for some scheme for a new dog food patent (right!), and alas, that leech never paid him back. The vet’s dead, and this deadbeat who pried money from him has no reason to pay back.

Before death, and after the Starvation Army, my vet got into an apartment (with my help), and they screwed him over. The one ground floor apartment with a large step and stoop, impossible for him to navigate his wheelchair, that wasn’t in the bargain. He already signed the lease and wanted out of the Starvation Army. He and I worked on getting the apartment to build a stone or cement pathway from the back slider, to the parking lot, so he could get his Uber or handicap buses trips.

It was another eye opener – largest (now #3) property management company in the USA for apartments, out of Texas, and not one of them responded to my emails or calls. Terrible, since that has never happened to me ever in my life. I have always gotten responses, even harsh ones back. From cops, senators, CEOs, IRS, more. These people are human leeches.

Pinnacle comes in at number three in the rankings for the largest property managers in the country, with 172,000 units under management. The company manages a diverse array of assets, including mixed-use properties, commercial properties, affordable developments, senior properties, and student housing. It also specializes in the turnaround of distressed assets and assisting in the management of HOAs and condo associations. Pinnacle is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and is currently headed by President and CEO Rick L. Graf.

So think about that. He had to pay for this walkway, and it was an improvement for that unit, to say the least, so why should he have to pay? He had volunteers with a construction company and from the Rotary Club, and that Pinnacle nixed it. They had to have their vetted company. We are talking about $500 for the job using volunteers and a bonded contractor, versus the $2500 through Pinnacle’s outfit.

That apartment life did not last long. He was having major choking issues, and cognitive ones. He wasn’t eating right. No phone calls taken, or texts.

We are talking about a man, 68, no family. He had no one but a friend he met at the Rotary Club and acquaintances. And me, his former social worker. Who happened to move on the Coast, so I was 3 hours from him one way, via car.

He had to leave the apartment, to a care center (sic). That apartment would not give him a break, since he had to break the lease because of medical reasons. No big deal he was a veteran.

These are parasites.

Then, he ends up in one of the larger senior living places, and that was a living hell for him as he slipped more and more, had no decent meals, and never had a case manager for months. Then, lockdown, March 2020.

Here it is, Wikipedia

Brookdale Senior Living owns and operates over 700 senior living communities and retirement communities in the United States. Brookdale was established in 1978 and is based in Brentwood, Tennessee. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Fortress Investments became the majority owner of Brookdale, holding approximately 51% of its share. Currently, Glenview Capital Management (a hedge fund) holds the largest number of shares. Brookdale has approximately 70,000 staff members and 100,000 residents. As of 2018, it was the largest operator of senior housing in the United States. In 2021, a New York Times investigation revealed that Brookdale submitted wrong and manipulated data to the government, thus inflating ratings of the quality of care in Brookdale facilities. Shortly thereafter, the state of California filed a lawsuit against Brookdale, alleging that the company manipulated the federal government’s nursing-home ratings system.

 

He was paying out of his social security and this money he got from his father: $4100  a month plus another $2000 for “special services.” There were no “Special services.” This happens every minute in the USA. Imagine, a society with how many aging people? How many with chronic illness? Who the fuck has $6100 a month to pay for these scabies outfits? 

Again, we can either prepare for the ultimate disaster that disaster capitalism gives us, or, put our heads back in that sand:

In 10 years, more than half of middle-income Americans age 75 or older will not be able to afford to pay for yearly assisted living rent or medical expenses, according to a study published Wednesday in Health Affairs.

The researchers used demographic and income data to project estimates of a portion of the senior population, those who will be 75 or older in 2029, with a focus on those in the middle-income range — currently $25,001 to $74,298 per year for those ages 75 to 84.

And it doesn’t look good for that group because of the rising costs of housing and health care. The researchers estimated that the number of middle-income elders in the U.S. will nearly double, growing from 7.9 million to 14.4 million by 2029. They will make up the biggest share of seniors, at 43%.  — Source

This three paragraphs cited above are from a two-year-old article. You think the plandemic has assisted with this? Socialism is about planning for and building out facilities and holistic ways to help the aging, the poor, the sick. Capitalism is about planning for and setting out a million ways to fleece and fleece people. Maybe blood and plasma and bone marrow transplants are the only way to get through. Or, just donating body and soul to Big Pharma for their Mengele stuff. A 10 by 10 room, with a roommate, and mac’n’cheese six days a week, fasting on Thursdays.

This is how America runs, as a continuing criminal enterprise, an elaborate multi-layered system of bilking and outright theft, casino capitalism on steroids, and zero concern by the majority of the people with investments, banks (owners) and the elected officials to make safety nets. Who the hell can afford $6100 a month for a studio apartment? Crappy food? Surly workers (underpaid, over worked)? This is prison on a whole other level.

He had to go to the VA, via ambulance, and with taxis, a few times with this female friend.

Nursing Home and Care Workers Officially the Most Dangerous Job in the U.S.  - Ms. Magazine

She got him to get a will prepared, and to get some things in order, but he was failing, vacant, not there, and alas, he died August 2020 age 70, and that should never have happened. If I had a community, 100 acres, gardens, small (tiny) homes, pets, chickens, and community conversations, he would NOT have died. Life expectancy dropped because he ended up in an apartment, isolated, alone, scared, and with deeper cognitive issues. A supportive community getting him off his duff, getting him involved, would have saved him. Could save millions of Americans. Hundreds of millions of global citizens.

So who owns the land, the farms, the concepts of living and aging in place, intergenerational, cooperatives, decent air and water? Dog-eat-dog. And who thinks that a coronavirus lives and breathes in the summer? Oh, that flu season, now 365 days a year, some rain or shine.

You know, I didn’t get a chance to talk to this vet too much about his concerns around lockdown, the SARS-CoV2, and, well, like many things once a person ages, sometimes talking real stuff about real things is too much for a mind that is going south.

Not all pandemics are caused by the obvious suspects. Though the media have us whipped up into a frenzy over a select cast of superstar pathogens, the villain in the next global drama may be lurking in the unlikeliest of places; perhaps it hasn’t even been discovered yet.

“I think the chances that the next pandemic will be caused by a novel virus are quite good,” says Kevin Olival, a disease ecologist from the EcoHealth Alliance, a US-based organisation that studies the links between human and environmental health. “If you look at Sars, which was the first pandemic of the 21st Century, that was a previously unknown virus before it jumped into people and spread round the world. So there’s a precedent there – there are many, many viruses out there in the families that we’re concerned with.”

Out of millions of viruses on the planet, very few have ever caused a major outbreak
Olival is not alone. Earlier this year, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates warned that the next pandemic could be something we’ve never seen before. He suggested that we prepare for its emergence as we would for a war.

Meanwhile, the WHO is so firmly convinced that they have updated their list of pathogens most likely to cause a massive, deadly outbreak to include “Disease X” – a mystery microorganism which hasn’t yet entered our radar.  By Zaria Gorvett, 13th November 2018

The irony of ironies, I was talking about things like this way before that BBC (bad bad organization) put out these pabulum pieces as quoted about NOV. 2018, a year before the official Wuhan and Italian flu hit (sic).

The death of the vet, of course, create a nightmare for his friend, designated as the executor of his “estate.”

Comcast screwed the estate by keeping service going (charging $90 a month) even though he was dead. He had a storage unit that was charging $215 a month. That Brookdale ended up hitting the estate with more bills in the thousands. The apartment complex, Pinnacle, was looking for several thousand for fees and penalties. The bills came in, and the collection agencies rose to the occasion.

Stop the Cap! » Comcast's Reputation for Bad Customer Service is Legendary  and Never-Ending

And this vet’s friend (sic) who had borrowed the money paid nothing back.

It is May, 2021, and those proceeds to his small estate have not yet been disbursed. Pandemic lockdown has hurt the process. Two of the beneficiaries are a free clinic that attended to this vet’s needs during his hours of need. And a food pantry out of a church who also helped him with food and electricity money.

He probably had $340,000 total, most of it in a Morgan Stanley account. Mind you, this is all from his dead old man, and the vet had not expected that. There are tax filing fees, moving expenses for his stuff to a furniture nonprofit, fees for the storage unit. Some prescription bills and other outstanding bills that should have just vanished. The creditors came out of the woodwork, and because I was not a family member, brother, say, of nephew, all those bills got paid. If I had been that family member, I would/could have wrangled many of the bills into either zeroed out bills, or some with a dime on the dollar. It takes letter writing, advocating, and pounding down these leeches.

Why Morgan Stanley Bet Big on Eaton Vance - The New York Times

As of May 18, 2021, the five beneficiaries – two nonprofits in need – have not seen a cent. Because the executor has had to do so much, and the fact the vet had no family, my vet’s estate is getting whittled down by that great American tick – middle men, fees, penalties, taxes, this and that amount extracted as part of the ugly middle and middle man/woman mentality of the USA.

Some people came up to the plate and did pro bono work, but because I was close to this whole thing, and talked with the executor a lot, I see how the total amount that could have been distributed five ways — $70,000 each – might now be even close to $60,000 each. What the beneficiaries don’t know won’t hurt them, right? All those leeches sucking the dead, well, they just don’t know it. It was money they were not expecting, so what’s the big deal.

That’s not the point. This is a minute-to-minute situation in USA. Millions of people and their families get screwed in the tens of billions each year by the ticks and leeches. I have had to deal with PayDay loan companies, repo men, collection agencies, courts, companies, telecoms and hospitals and others who have their hands out for more and more cuts of many of my clients who were making $730 a month in Social Security, and some way less. I contacted hospitals and businesses and others to get fees and bills reduced or zeroed out.

Young or old, many of the homeless people I worked with could NEVER work in a competitive work environment. Their health and minds are shot to shit. Much of that (PTSD and complex PTSD) was caused by the Armed Forces, and by the systems of punishment that hit these guys and gals after departing that shit hole.

Not everything in their lives is someone else’s fault and responsibility. They made bad choices. Booze and drugs, you betcha, took them down. Bad food, bad thinking smoking, and more, deteriorated them at a young age. Trying to pay rent, evictions, etc., all that adds up to the weathering.

Healthcare | Free Full-Text | Application of the Weathering Framework:  Intersection of Racism, Stigma, and COVID-19 as a Stressful Life Event  among African Americans | HTML

Living in a truck or car or tent or in a garage, that also weathers these people. In the end, pre-Covid and now during it, these people are throwaways. The Stock Market is busting at the seams. Zoom school, and Zoom work for the middle class, the new normal abnormal. The rest of the workforce or citizen? Screwed blued and tattooed.

screwed, blued and tattooed meaning and pronunciation - video Dailymotion

The irony is that my vet friend “made” more money in that investment account dead than when he was alive.  And we know the great history of Morgan Stanley.

I’m writing this because I am delaying something bigger, and poetry, tied to the absolute hell hole that is American Zionism a la Israeli Zionism. War crimes that are ten thousand George Floyd’s “I Can’t Breathe” murder.

And I can’t wrap my head around this in a rural community. No marching here, no groups, and hell, in France and Germany and England, it is illegal to peacefully march for Palestine.

I’m thinking about Canada and USA, supporting murderous arms and murderous policies of that racist “country.” I am thinking about my vet’s account at Morgan Stanley:

The broker got him stocks in Walmart, Northrop Grumman, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Blackstone, BlackRock. This guy was a friend, and asked about investing, and I had a guy in mind, but my buddy went with a friend of the Rotary who said this broker with Morgan Stanley would take care of him. My buddy wanted social responsible investing, and that, alas, is yet another bullshit marketing tool of the masters of the casino capitalist Walled Street.

Northrop Grumman’s medium-caliber cannons boast unrivaled reliability and  effectiveness. When paired with our exceptional training, services, certified accessories and warranties, the result is exceptional value and performance over the entire gun system lifecycle. The company has produced solid propulsion systems for the Ground-based  Midcourse Defense interceptor, as well as for the Trident II D-5 and Minuteman III strategic missiles. Northrop Grumman has 100 percent propulsion success on strategic production motors. For nearly half a century, Northrop Grumman and its heritage companies have been designing and developing bomb fuses that have stayed on pace with the technological advancements of the time.
This is a tan vehicle with the

How many parts in a missile or Bushmaster automatic cannon? Parts equal jobs. Parts designed equal academic jobs. Think of all those people in all those companies, in factories and warehouses, and manufacturing plants, and marketing plants, paint plants, PR plants, all of them down to the web master and the photographer making money on dead Palestinian children. It comes down to that.

I have relatives whose kids (grown adults) are blonde beauties in the sense of USA beauty, and they are tall, and lean, and they are pulling down $120,000 a year as 28 year old’s, working for one of those California based military death companies.

Here, five — to include Raytheon, Northrup Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Flir Systems

More listed here

Here are California Dreaming Death Machine (139) openings for just one hiring site

In 2019, here are the top states, but remember, those figures are not the true amount of money made on death since so much more tied to offensive weapons and space should be factored in. Sort of the multiplier effect of all the businesses service and hard industries making bank because  of those contractors and their employees and their subcontractors and their employees living and eating the California dream, or whichever state listed is the dream. Forget about the billions in Hollywood and their enormous entanglement of people making money off those Tom Clancy, et al crap movies. Death, death, death, even in the form of liberal actors spewing off on this or that thing, but in the end, they love the DoD.

  • California: $66.2 billion
  • Virginia: $60.3 billion
  • Texas: $54.8 billion
  • Florida: $29.8 billion
  • Maryland: $26.1 billion
  • Connecticut: $19.7 billion
  • Pennsylvania: $18.1 billion
  • Washington: $17.8 billion
  • Alabama: $16.0 billion
  • Massachusetts: $15.8 billion

So, I am having a difficult time focusing, with this Industrial Complex tied to killing Palestinians, and so many other people’s of the world, through the training, outfitting, arming, and educating of the despots of the world. This is a telling interview. Malak Mattar, Dan Cohen and Miko Peled join MintCast to discuss the ongoing Israeli violence in the Gaza Strip.  See interview here.

I am still processing all of this, trying to listen to Zoom continuing education credited things like trauma and social service workers in a time of lockdown and Covid-19. Things like that, which are bullshit, really. Just amazing bullshit now on Zoom, most of it. But I am just cruising through these people who believe they are thinking and saying something new.

© 2021. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.

BAR’s poet in residence Raymond Nat Turner is an accomplished performing artist. You can find much more of his work at https://www.youtube.com/user/zigilow

BAR’s poet in residence Raymond Nat Turner is an accomplished performing artist. You can find much more of his work at YouTube. 

+–+

The acrobats are back…(gimme a bleepin’ break!)

The acrobats are back—riding bareback and backwards on Donkeys! They’re back juggling hocus-pocus focus groups; Back, spinning Wall Street straw into fools’ gold for the war- mongering mouth of a punch drunk politician. Back hallucinating on FDR Fairytales. Back somersaulting over scarlet streets, strikes and factory seizures; back vaulting over violence/militant eviction resistance

The acrobats are back—Lilliputian left-Munchkin Marxists—juggling Classless analysis; doing back-flips erasing millions; Tumbling above herds of handcuffed communists, socialists, anarchists, trade unionists who waged pitched battles with Pinkerton-police-national guard-gun thugs. The acrobats are back turning cartwheels; Flipping history on its head— Landing squarely in the laps of generals and statesmen…

The acrobats are back—flipping LBJ minus 34 dead and smoke-filled skies over Watts/43 dead in Detroit/27 dead, 1400 arrests in Newark; LBJ minus millions marching NO to Jim Crow, war/women’s oppression; Minus martyrs—whose M’s include Mickey, Medgar, Malcolm, Martin… The acrobats are back, dancing in donkey dung down the Yellow Brick Road for the Emerald City Intersectional Empire—strangely resembling the Pentagon…

The acrobats are back—daredevils who dangled dangerously for 8 yrs. from the Drone Ranger’s dick. They’re back—Capitalist Hill cartwheels and flips—sticking stealth socialist landings as Comrade Schmo plays them like The Great Oz—ominously warning: “Pay no attention to Wall Street-War-Profiteer- Big Pharma/Fossil Fuel-Credit Card Companies behind my thin blue curtain of Promises!” Then he quietly pulls his pistol and mumbles, ”What’s in your wallet?”

WALL STREET IS WAR STREET: best slogan spotted at #OccupyWallStreet | Not  My Tribe
And the reality is that Wall Street and those Mutual Funds and Exchange Tradeable Funds (ETF’s), all are tied to bombing, booze, tobacco, big pharma, the entire shooting match. Just can’t go to sleep at night, or can’t look myself in the mirror, when thinking about all that time and energy and research and writing, and educating, and the reality is we are what we are — war criminals. Or, read, “Try as You May to Deny, but Evil is in Our DNA“!

Israeli Forces spokesman Zilberman announced the start of the bombing of Gaza, specifying that “80 fighters are taking part in the operation, including the advanced F-35s” (The Times of Israel, May 11, 2021). It is officially the baptism of fire for the US Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation fighter, whose production Italy also participates in as a second-level partner.

Israel has already received twenty-seven F-35s from the US, and last February decided to buy no longer fifty F-35s but seventy-five. To this end the government has decreed a further allocation of 9 billion dollars: 7 were granted by a US to Israel free military “aid” of 28 billion, 2 were granted as a loan by the US Citibank.

While Israeli F-35 pilots were being trained by the U.S. Air Force in Arizona and Israel, the US Army Engineers built in Israel special hardened hangars for the F-35s, suitable for both fighters’ maximum protection on the ground, and their rapid take-off on attack. At the same time, the Israeli military industries (Israel Aerospace and Elbit Systems) in close coordination with Lockheed Martin enhance the fighter renamed “Adir” (Powerful): above all its ability to penetrate enemy defenses and its range of action which was nearly doubled.

These capabilities are certainly not necessary to attack Gaza. Why then are the most advanced fifth-generation fighters used against Palestinians? Because it serves to test F-35s fighters and their pilots in real war action using Gaza homes as targets on a firing range. It does not matter if in the target houses there are entire families.

The F-35s, added to the hundreds of fighter-bombers already supplied by the US to Israel. are designed for nuclear attack particularly with the new B61-12 bomb. The United States will shortly deploy these nuclear bombs in Italy and other European countries, and will also provide them to Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East with an arsenal estimated at 100-400 nuclear weapons. If Israel doubles the range of F-35 fighters and is about to receive eight Boeing Pegasus tankers from the US for refueling the F-35s in flight, it is because it is preparing to launch an attack, even nuclear, against Iran.

 — “F-35s Bombing Gaza

Books - Democracy at Work (d@w)
 
Wolff and I have corresponded.
 
https://youtu.be/ynbgMKclWWc

The coronavirus pandemic, the deepening economic crash, dangerously divisive political responses, and exploding social tensions have thrown an already declining American capitalist system into a tailspin. The consequences of these mounting and intertwined crises will shape our future. In this unique collection of over 50 essays, “The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself,” Richard D. Wolff argues clearly that “returning to normal” no longer responds adequately to the accumulated problems of US capitalism. What is necessary, instead, is transition toward a new economic system that works for all of us.
 
 “A blueprint for how we got here, and a plan for how we will rescue ourselves” – Chris Hedges
 
“A magnificent source of hope and insight.” – Yanis Varoufakis
 
 “In this compelling set of essays, and with his signature clarity, intensity, accessibility and deference to historical and present perspective, Wolff has issued not just a stark warning, but concrete reasoning, as to why this time really should be different.” – Nomi Prins
 
“One of the most powerful and incisive voices in America. As an economist he transcends that “dismal science”, he is a tribune of Main St, a voice of the people.” – George Galloway
 
 “Wolff clearly explains the ways that capitalism exacerbates unemployment, inequality, racism, and patriarchy; and threatens the health and safety of workers and communities – i.e., most of us.” – Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, Ph.D.
 
“If you care about deeper measures of social health as Americans suffer the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, you will find here a wealth of insight, statistics, and other ammunition that we all need in the fight for a more just society.” – Adam Hochschild
 
“The current failed system has a noose around all of our necks. Richard Wolff offers an economic vision that gets our society off the gallows.” – Jimmy Dore
Corporate Welfare Hurts Us All - Imgur
Source.
Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world. — Henry Kissinger, interview with the Observer, 1983, on his book, Years of Upheaval 
New study outlines trillions handed out in U.S. corporate welfare bonanza -  Tax Justice Network Corporate Welfare: How Exactly Does It Affect Us As Americans
The post Once a US Soldier, Always Wounded, Always Losing! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney and the Rule of Law

One could not accuse US Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming of having a sense of irony. For some time, she has felt her party to be the hostage of a ghoulish monster who refuses to be slayed.  And she fears her party has fallen out of love for the rule of law.

In being ousted from the third spot in the leadership of the Republican Conference in the House, Cheney has found a new morality. In her floor speech, she called Donald Trump’s canard of a stolen election a “threat America has never seen before.”  Opposing Trump’s interpretation of the result was a “duty”. “I will not sit back and watch in silence, while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins in the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”  After her speech, she told reporters that she would “do everything” she could “to ensure that the former president never gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”

Cheney’s seemingly shabby treatment led such papers as the Washington Post to remark that truth was again under assault. “Truth is the issue upon which Cheney has made her stand – truth and her unwillingness to be silent for the supposed good of the team.”  Peter Wehner, who served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes, saw the event as a “confirmation that the Republican party is diseased and dangerous, increasingly subversive and illiberal”.  Eric Lutz, writing in Vanity Fair, called the Cheney display “defiant”, laying “bare the cowardice of her colleagues who, with their vote on Wednesday, affirmed what had long been clear: The GOP is the cult of Trump now, and fealty the price of admission.”

This is gruesomely fascinating on a few levels, given that Cheney comes from a family rather snotty about such concepts as the rule of law, verisimilitude and the Constitution.  Her father Dick Cheney, the Vice Presidential dark operator in the administration of George W. Bush, was not exactly strong on such ideas, and proved rather subversive and illiberal in a number of ways. Old Dick, along with his lawyer David Addington and John Yoo of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, did much to read executive power in a manner most imperial in nature.

For Dick Cheney, US executive power needed to be restored after the damaging effects of Watergate and the Vietnam War.  The time that followed, he lamented to reporters on Air Force Two in 2005, proved to be “the nadir of the modern presidency in terms of authority and legitimacy”.

It is true to say that Trump also preferred a broad reading of executive power, one all too readily articulated by former Attorney General William Barr. But Cheney, Addington and Yoo were responsible for views that justified the bypassing and defanging of Congress, wiretapping of US citizens, torture of terrorist suspects, the establishment of military commissions, the breaching of international treaties and the waging of illegal wars.  Such conduct has caused more than a smattering of commentary urging the prosecution of both Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush for a range of offences in both domestic and international law.

It would be churlish to claim that a father’s blackened record should somehow compromise that of his daughter’s.  But the co-authored father and daughter work Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America repeats the old neoconservative interventionist sins that were so important in laying the ground for a Trump victory in 2016.  Father Dick and Daughter Liz supply an apologia for such murderous disasters as Iraq while piling into President Barack Obama whom they stop short of accusing of treason.  “The touchstone of his ideology – that America is to blame, and her power must be restrained – requires a wilful blindness about what America has done in the world.”

In 2009, Liz Cheney, along with fellow neoconservative Bill Kristol, co-founded Keep America Safe, an outfit steeped in a tattered worldview that proceeded to leave many Americans behind.  As Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic noted in a battering piece on Liz Cheney in 2013, “Most Americans understand that investing trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives in Iraq was a historic blunder.”  Not for Liz, who finds wars stirringly necessary.

Over the years, Rep. Cheney barely warranted a mention after securing the seat her father once occupied. As the third-ranking member of minority party leadership, she was a middleweight power with exaggerated expectations.  Then came President Trump.  The neoconservatives were outflanked.  Fires were lit, casting light upon her cause.  That cause, simple as ever, was an anti-Trump, using truth and democracy as crutches of polemical convenience.

To date, Rep. Cheney is pursuing a cause of martyrdom that is, like many such causes, futile.  It was a martyrdom that was “well-planned”, as Republican political consultant Keith Naughton noted in The Hill.  “There are no reports she actually worked the GOP caucus, canvassing and counting heads.  Cheney didn’t fight back, she planned to lose.”  In losing, she hopes to rebuild a neoconservative base that has withered into oblivion.

The post Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney and the Rule of Law first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Global Deep State: A New World Order Brought to You by COVID-19

A psychotic world we live in. The madmen are in power.
― Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle, October 1962

For good or bad, COVID-19 has changed the way we navigate the world.

It is also redrawing the boundaries of our world (and our freedoms) and altering the playing field faster than we can keep up.

Owing in large part to the U.S. government’s deep-seated and, in many cases, top-secret alliances with foreign nations and global corporations, it has become increasingly obvious that we have entered into a new world order—a global world order—made up of international government agencies and corporations.

This powerful international cabal, let’s call it the Global Deep State, is just as real as the corporatized, militarized, industrialized American Deep State, and it poses just as great a threat to our rights as individuals under the U.S. Constitution, if not greater.

We’ve been inching closer to this global world order for the past several decades, but COVID-19, which has seen governmental and corporate interests become even more closely intertwined, has shifted this transformation into high gear.

Fascism has become a global menace.

It remains unclear whether the American Deep State (“a national-security apparatus that holds sway even over the elected leaders notionally in charge of it”) answers to the Global Deep State, or whether the Global Deep State merely empowers the American Deep State. However, there is no denying the extent to which they are intricately and symbiotically enmeshed and interlocked.

Consider the extent to which our lives and liberties are impacted by this international convergence of governmental and profit-driven corporate interests in the surveillance state, the military industrial complex, the private prison industry, the intelligence sector, the security sector, the technology sector, the telecommunications sector, the transportation sector, the pharmaceutical industry and, most recently, by the pharmaceutical-health sector.

All of these sectors are dominated by mega-corporations operating on a global scale and working through government channels to increase their profit margins. The profit-driven policies of these global corporate giants influence everything from legislative policies to economics to environmental issues to medical care.

Global Disease

The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled us into a whole new global frontier. Those hoping to navigate this interconnected and highly technological world of contact tracing, vaccine passports and digital passes will find themselves grappling with issues that touch on deep-seated moral, political, religious and personal questions for which there may be no clear-cut answers.

We are about to find our ability to access, engage and move about in the world dependent on which camp we fall into: those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who have not.

“It is the latest status symbol. Flash it at the people, and you can get access to concerts, sports arenas or long-forbidden restaurant tables. Some day, it may even help you cross a border without having to quarantine,” writes Heather Murphy for the New York Times. “The new platinum card of the Covid age is the vaccine certificate.”

This is what M.I.T. professor Ramesh Raskar refers to as the new “currency for health,” an apt moniker given the potentially lucrative role that Big Business (Big Pharma and Big Tech, especially) will play in establishing this pay-to-play marketplace. The airline industry has been working on a Travel Pass. IBM is developing a Digital Health Pass. And the U.S. government has been all-too-happy to allow the corporate sector to take the lead.

Global Surveillance

Spearheaded by the National Security Agency (NSA), which has shown itself to care little for constitutional limits or privacy, the surveillance state has come to dominate our government and our lives.

Yet the government does not operate alone. It cannot. It requires an accomplice.

Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of our massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental bureaucracy.

Take AT&T, for instance. Through its vast telecommunications network that crisscrosses the globe, AT&T provides the U.S. government with the complex infrastructure it needs for its mass surveillance programs. According to The Intercept:

The NSA considers AT&T to be one of its most trusted partners and has lauded the company’s ‘extreme willingness to help.’ It is a collaboration that dates back decades. Little known, however, is that its scope is not restricted to AT&T’s customers. According to the NSA’s documents, it values AT&T not only because it ‘has access to information that transits the nation,’ but also because it maintains unique relationships with other phone and internet providers. The NSA exploits these relationships for surveillance purposes, commandeering AT&T’s massive infrastructure and using it as a platform to covertly tap into communications processed by other companies.

Now magnify what the U.S. government is doing through AT&T on a global scale, and you have the “14 Eyes Program,” also referred to as the “SIGINT Seniors.” This global spy agency is made up of members from around the world (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, India and all British Overseas Territories).

Surveillance is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these global alliances, however.

Global War Profiteering

War has become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire and its incestuous relationship with a host of international defense contractors, is one of its biggest buyers and sellers.

The American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth. For example, while erecting a security surveillance state in the U.S., the military-industrial complex has perpetuated a worldwide military empire with American troops stationed in 177 countries (over 70% of the countries worldwide).

Although the federal government obscures so much about its defense spending that accurate figures are difficult to procure, we do know that since 2001, the U.S. government has spent more than $1.8 trillion in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (that’s $8.3 million per hour). That doesn’t include wars and military exercises waged around the globe, which are expected to push the total bill upwards of $12 trillion by 2053.

The illicit merger of the global armaments industry and the Pentagon that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us against more than 50 years ago has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation’s fragile infrastructure today. America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour)—and that’s just what the government spends on foreign wars. That does not include the cost of maintaining and staffing the 1000-plus U.S. military bases spread around the globe.

Incredibly, although the U.S. constitutes only 5% of the world’s population, America boasts almost 50% of the world’s total military expenditure,  spending more on the military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined. In fact, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety. There’s a good reason why “bloated,” “corrupt” and “inefficient” are among the words most commonly applied to the government, especially the Department of Defense and its contractors. Price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire.

It’s not just the American economy that is being gouged, unfortunately.

Driven by a greedy defense sector, the American homeland has been transformed into a battlefield with militarized police and weapons better suited to a war zone. President Biden, marching in lockstep with his predecessors, has continued to expand America’s military empire abroad and domestically in a clear bid to pander to the powerful money interests (military, corporate and security) that run the Deep State and hold the government in its clutches.

Global Policing

Glance at pictures of international police forces and you will have a hard time distinguishing between American police and those belonging to other nations. There’s a reason they all look alike, garbed in the militarized, weaponized uniform of a standing army.

There’s a reason why they act alike, too, and speak a common language of force: they belong to a global police force.

For example, Israel—one of America’s closest international allies and one of the primary yearly recipients of more than $3 billion in U.S. foreign military aid—has been at the forefront of a little-publicized exchange program aimed at training American police to act as occupying forces in their communities. As The Intercept sums it up, American police are “essentially taking lessons from agencies that enforce military rule rather than civil law.”

This idea of global policing is reinforced by the Strong Cities Network program, which trains local police agencies across America in how to identify, fight and prevent extremism, as well as address intolerance within their communities, using all of the resources at their disposal. The cities included in the global network include New York City, Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, Paris, London, Montreal, Beirut and Oslo.

The objective is to prevent violent extremism by targeting its source: racism, bigotry, hatred, intolerance, etc. In other words, police—acting as extensions of the United Nations—will identify, monitor and deter individuals who exhibit, express or engage in anything that could be construed as extremist.

Of course, the concern with the government’s anti-extremism program is that it will, in many cases, be utilized to render otherwise lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially extremist.

Keep in mind that the government agencies involved in ferreting out American “extremists” will carry out their objectives—to identify and deter potential extremists—in concert with fusion centers (of which there are 78 nationwide, with partners in the private sector and globally), data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics (in which life experiences alter one’s genetic makeup).

This is pre-crime on an ideological scale and it’s been a long time coming.

Are you starting to get the picture now?

On almost every front, whether it’s the war on drugs, or the sale of weapons, or regulating immigration, or establishing prisons, or advancing technology, or fighting a pandemic, if there is a profit to be made and power to be amassed, you can bet that the government and its global partners have already struck a deal that puts the American people on the losing end of the bargain.

We’ve been losing our freedoms so incrementally for so long—sold to us in the name of national security and global peace, maintained by way of martial law disguised as law and order, and enforced by a standing army of militarized police and a political elite determined to maintain their powers at all costs—that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it all started going downhill, but we’re certainly on that downward trajectory now, and things are moving fast.

The “government of the people, by the people, for the people” has perished.

In its place is a shadow government—a corporatized, militarized, entrenched global bureaucracy—that is fully operational and running the country.

Given the trajectory and dramatic expansion, globalization and merger of governmental and corporate powers, we’re not going to recognize this country 20 years from now.

It’s taken less than a generation for our freedoms to be eroded and the Global Deep State’s structure to be erected, expanded and entrenched.

Mark my words: the U.S. government will not save us from the chains of the Global Deep State.

Now there are those who will tell you that any mention of a New World Order government—a power elite conspiring to rule the world—is the stuff of conspiracy theories.

I am not one of those skeptics.

I wholeheartedly believe that one should always mistrust those in power, take alarm at the first encroachment on one’s liberties, and establish powerful constitutional checks against government mischief and abuse.

I can also attest to the fact that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I have studied enough of this country’s history—and world history—to know that governments (the U.S. government being no exception) are at times indistinguishable from the evil they claim to be fighting, whether that evil takes the form of terrorism, torture, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity.

And I have lived long enough to see many so-called conspiracy theories turn into cold, hard fact.

Remember, people used to scoff at the notion of a Deep State (a.k.a. Shadow Government). They used to doubt that fascism could ever take hold in America, and sneer at any suggestion that the United States was starting to resemble Nazi Germany in the years leading up to Hitler’s rise to power.

As I detail in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we’re beginning to know better, aren’t we?

The post The Global Deep State: A New World Order Brought to You by COVID-19 first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Mike Pezzullo and Giving War a Chance

Those madly titillated by conflict have become bolder of late in the corridors of the isolated Australian capital.  In such spaces, insanity can be nurtured with a sickening attention to detail, much of it fictitious.  One of the most powerful bureaucrats of the Australian Public Service has made a contribution to a war dance he regards as virtually unavoidable.  Mike Pezzullo, Home Affairs Secretary, is keen to shed some blood in combating the China Menace if needed.

The outcome of this wish is always vicarious: others die so that bureaucrats may shuffle papers, consult minutes and scoff the scotch.  This is then justified on the basis that sacrifices are necessary to defend that indefinable property called freedom.

The Secretary’s ANZAC Day message to his staff was stocked with the usual rhetorical trinkets of the barely closeted warmonger.  “Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, thought unlikely to be catalysts for war, let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war”.

War is never caused by these “free nations”; it is provoked by those nasty unfree ones who go around stirring trouble.  Resorting to war “might well be folly, but the greater folly is to wish away the curse by refusing to give it thought and attention, as if in so doing, war might leave us be, forgetting us perhaps.”

In wishing to summon the dogs of war, Pezzullo drew upon a person who was, for all his faults, a formidable general who knew a thing or two about combat.  US Army General Douglas MacArthur, in his address to the West Point Military academy in 1962, explained to cadets that “their mission was to train to fight and, when called upon, to win their nation’s wars – all is entrusted to others”.  One imagines Pezzullo, flushed with pride in using lines best reserved for a military veteran rather than a fantasising civilian.

The bureaucrat’s poor use of history was much in evidence.  Having pinched from MacArthur, he duly did the same to US President Dwight D. Eisenhower who, in 1953, “rallied his fellow Americans to the danger posed by the amassing of Soviet military power, and the new risks of military aggression”.  (He forgets that the same president also warned of the paranoia and dangers associated with the Military-Industrial complex.)  Eisenhower was a good egg, having taken to instilling in “free nations the conviction that as long as there persists tyranny’s threat to freedom they must remain armed, strong and ready for war, even as they lament the course of war.”  The blood-readied formula for Pezzullo: “In a world of perpetual tension and dread, the drums of war beat – sometimes faintly and distantly, and at other times more loudly and ever closer.”

When MacArthur found himself relieved by US President Harry S. Truman, a statement of priorities was made.  The General had been keen to expand the Korean conflict with the use of atomic weaponry, there being no credible substitute for victory.  In fairness to him, Truman had also given him ideas, wishing to threaten the potential use of atomic-capable B-29s should the need arise.  MacArthur saw that need, claiming that 30 to 50 tactical atomic bombs would have done the trick; Truman did not, preferring the bluff.  Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison might do well to consider a similar option regarding Pezzullo, who is making his far from negligible contribution to incitement.

In the context of Australian history, few military engagements have been necessary for existentially sound reasons.  There have been no marauding armies of Huns, Mongols or Tartars to threaten the country, laying waste to villages and towns, and initiating hearty pogroms.  (The same cannot be said for the Indigenous populace, doomed the moment European settlement became a sanguinary reality of massacre, disease and dispossession.)

A pity it is that a more mature constellation of thinkers have not impressed themselves in the field of Australian strategic thinking.  Instead, Australian soldiers have been fighting and dying in a range of operations in profound ignorance of their geography and history.  These recruits supply the needless cannon fodder for empires not their own, placating the officialdom of foreign capitals.

The Australia-China policy, and the insistence on placing Australia on the warpath, is a suicidal wish linked to Washington and based on an alliance that is dangerously unconditional and misplaced.  Unfortunately for Australia’s military and defence establishment, all such alliances, however friendly, remain putatively conditional.  Matters of strategy, resources, and realities, will intrude.

The fall of Singapore to the forces of Imperial Japan in February 1942 was one such jarring reality.  The guarantees of security made by Britain to Australia, assumed since the late eighteenth century, were shredded by a stunningly bold campaign waged by soldiers who had been woefully underestimated.  British naval power was blunted as Japanese prowess grew.  The reassurances of the Empire were dashed by surrender.  “This was a quintessential failure of an alliance,” wrote academic strategist Hugh White in 2017, “and of a strategic policy based on alliances.”

White, far more sensible than Pezzullo on this score, speaks of the Singapore disaster as a telling lesson for Australian strategists.  It was a failure that revealed “an inability to recognise and accept fundamental shifts in the distribution of wealth and power which were transforming both the globe and the regional strategic orders, and undercutting Britain’s place in them.”

The parallels with the US are all too clear.  From 1996 to the mid-2000s, bipartisan politics seemed to accept that Australian security could well be left in the broad, clasping hands of Washington.  But be wary of the shifting patterns of power, warns White, for “America is weaker economically, diplomatically and military than it has been since World War Two, and yet we rely on it more.”

Another factor also lubricates such slavish refusals to accept the changed order of things.  Ignorance is the less than golden raw material that precedes misconceptions.  In time, these misconceptions become policy platforms.  The Australian Public Service (APS) is sorely lacking in much expertise that might sharpen a coherent focus towards the Indo-Pacific.  In 2019, an “independent review” of the APS characteristically tooted that, “The ongoing shift in global economic weight to Asia presents tremendous opportunities for Australia, along with risks and significant challenges.”

Tritely, the review, titled Public Service Our Future, notes that the APS needed to “deepen its experience in, and knowledge of, Asia.”  Those behind making policy required “a more sophisticated understanding of the region, as well as Asian language proficiency.”

For almost a decade now, there has been much chatter about needing to beef up the stock of knowledge of that most complex of continents.  The 2012 Asian Century White Paper was almost banal in stating that Australia was essentially flying blind in the region; there was a pressing need to “broaden and deepen our understanding of Asian cultures and language, to become more Asia literate.”  But the APS review found something quite different: “Coordinated and sustained action to deepen Asia-relevant capabilities was not taken then, and it remains a skills gap across the APS.”  Pezzullo’s barking remarks suggest that illiteracy regarding Asia has become intellectually fashionable and monumentally dangerous.

The post Mike Pezzullo and Giving War a Chance 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.

New Green Deal + Old War Deal = Same Rotten Deal

While a new American administration presides over what many believe is a return to normal after the more openly blatant worship of wealth and Israel of the Trump regime, what’s missed is that what passes for normal is what needs radical change. As long as market normalcy in the USA means hundreds of thousands of people are homeless, millions more live in poverty and millions more than that are so much deeper in personal debt than ever before in our history that the World Bank warns of the possibility of social collapse, what passes for normal is not just highly judgmental but criminally immoral. Especially when a mincing step forward domestically is accompanied by a crippled giant stride backward in foreign policy.

This while more than half a million Americans have died in a pandemic that has already wreaked economic havoc among almost all the general population while some millionaires have become multi millionaires, some multi millionaires have become billionaires and some billionaires approach becoming trillionaires. As this market “normality “awaits the hopeful arrival of a Green New Deal, named after the world war two version which created a middle class by spending billions of public dollars to aid survival of the richest while allowing enough of their money to trickle down to pass for a welfare state form of capitalism, it now actually threatens to bring on even more dreadfulness to an even greater population.

A couple of trillion in government spending is proposed now when tens of trillions are needed but will never be found under the market forces of private profit normalcy. The goal must be a radical restructuring of the political economic value system that treats earth, air, water and human beings as commodities to be bought, sold and rented in pursuit of enormous private profit for an ever shrinking number as hundreds of millions diversely sink lower in class status under the burden of bearing the staggering public loss of dollars, humanity and nature itself.

While this seemingly hopeful program of another new deal for domestic progress is proposed in order to save capitalism once again by muffling if not smothering calls for more radical change, the old deal of the murderous warfare state is even more dangerous than ever, with the amateurs of the Trump regime replaced by more experienced creators of policies of mass murder to preserve the alleged chosen people status of American capital and its servant class of more diverse than ever professionals who arrange minority rule and convince people it‘s democracy.

The old cold war against communism and socialism in Russia and China is more fervently being waged against those now capitalist nations offering a greater menace to what is called “western civilization”. This is defined as peace, democracy and humanism to disguise its base on colonialism, slavery and the mass murders of world wars one, two and the great slaughters that followed in Asia and the rest of the world not worthy enough to be rated as civilization by creatures who would make savage predatory beasts seem humanitarians, poets and lovers by comparison.

Naturally, this new Chinese and Russian capitalism is treated as massive terror and desperately in need of trillions spent on the military, which adequately protects the American troops ringing the Russian border and American ships sailing the South China Sea but is helpless to protect Americans being murdered in America by neighbors, workmates, the police and other patriots.  Nor are they/we protected by having tens of thousands of military personnel at hundreds of military bases thousands of miles from America’s shores. This is sold to a mentally imprisoned population as a defense of America and rationalized by a brilliant leadership that might have trouble understanding that it should put its socks on before not after its shoes while spending trillions on warfare and offering no help at all to tens of millions of Americans without health care or shelter.

Despite the unrelenting intellectual and moral sewage being forced into the mental diet of innocent participants in what is called our sacred democracy, newer generations contain more critical numbers than ever speaking out, organizing and showing signs of no more tolerance for this weaponized mass murdering drivel. Even while under assault reducing the common needs of all to alleged minorities by our ruler imposed doctrines of identity to reduce a majority to squabbling over which group has suffered more with least suffering getting the most, far more are resisting that divide and conquer program to save the system by divisive race, ethnic and sexual bigotry.

Current mind mashing daily bulletins about Putin’s being a murderer and Chinese preforming genocide on Islamic people are part of  the daily diet of intellectual sewage that passes for reporting in the news marketplace, more minds are being destroyed while more wealth is created by the media servants of capital. Daily bulletins inform (?) us that China is brutalizing Islamic Chinese and committing “genocide”, the popular term to use when anybody dies anywhere but where the term and the idea were born, while we lecture them on how to destroy the Islamic world for Israel and capital, commit mass murder and slaughter tens of thousands, destroy nations and reduce millions to poverty. If there were a judgmental, righteous and vindictive deity such as the one created by the more sadistic episodes of Old Testament mythology that had one destroy the planet because of false worship or a bad migraine, there might be a cataclysmic explosion, earthquake, holocaust and plague every fifteen minutes until our nation was obliterated. Luckily, we only have to deal with the largest population of earth dwellers growing fed up with a material reality forced on them by allegedly higher forms of humans practicing a form of political economics that might create a Department of Rape and call it a Ministry of Love

Rather than having to deal with a strengthened coalition of nuclear armed nations sick and tired of suffering abuse from an international bully and able to respond to any attack with their own powers of mass murder, we can only hope that Eastern Capitalist media may soon retaliate by offering lessons in humanity to the western civilization (?) by describing how it is possible to end poverty by investing in people rather than murdering them.

In China, a nation of nearly one and a half billion people, nearly 90% of them own their own homes. In Russia, another brutal capitalist horde assaulting our mythological democracy, which has never elected a president by majority of the electorate, 80% of the people own their homes. Worst of all, the savage state of communist Cuba has 90% of its people in homes they own, and this accomplished under years of brutal economic assault by an alleged  “great power” 90 miles away. Isn’t that terrifying?

A part of Islamic teaching claims there is no god but god, which is a belief system that can work for good or bad because it’s a faith-based belief. Material reality says that there is no race but human and that is a material fact, a scientific reality and not simply a belief. The sooner we rise above good or evil teachings about cultural truths  (?) and face material reality which is just that, we who identify as human beings can create democracy, the best deal for humanity.

In the words of an anonymous Vegas dealer, we don’t need a new deal: we need an entirely new deck. To bring that about, the people will have to take ownership of not just the gambling casino but every aspect of material reality that affects the public good. That sounds strange because it represents democracy, a deal we’ve never had as a people but only a charade of our rulers and their professional – and more “diverse” than ever – servant class. We need to give meaning to the word, and very soon, which means we need a political party that represents the public good, and an economy that does the same. Give that whatever label makes you feel best, but do it soon or we might not have much of a later.

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US President Joe Biden’s Shameful Push for War with China and Russia

One of the most delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory.

Zhou Enlai

In the autumn of 1862, the governments of France and Great Britain proposed to Russia, in a formal but not in an official way, the joint recognition by European powers of the independence of the Confederate States of America. My immediate answer was: `I will not cooperate in such action; and I will not acquiesce. On the contrary, I shall accept the recognition of the independence of the Confederate States by France and Great Britain as a casus belli for Russia. And in order that the governments of France and Great Britain may understand that this is no idle threat; I will send a Pacific fleet to San Francisco and an Atlantic fleet to New York. Sealed orders to both Admirals were given. My fleets arrived at the American ports, there was no recognition of the Confederate States by Great Britain and France. The American rebellion was put down, and the great American Republic continues. All this I did because of love for my own dear Russia, rather than for love of the American Republic. I acted thus because I understood that Russia would have a more serious task to perform if the American Republic, with advanced industrial development were broken up and Great Britain should be left in control of most branches of modern industrial development.

Czar Alexander II

Americans are exact replicas of Stoner Jeff Spicoli, a character played by Sean Penn in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

*****

The new “hot” war  novel 2034 co-authored by Admiral James Stavridis (USN, Ret.) and Elliot Ackerman (US combat veteran) depicts a future war between the US and China. 2034, the movie, cannot be far behind or perhaps the rights to convert the novel into film has already been transacted between the two august military veterans and Hollywood agents. My bet is that this will be cameo filled movie with all the big-name stars of the day, sort of like The Longest Day, a movie depicting the D-Day invasion during WWII.

A similar themed World War III novel was written by Sir John Hackett in 1985 during the height of first Cold War pitting the United States against the former Soviet Union. There are scores of novels on the subject, many of which can be found here at Goodreads.  What is the point of these tomes? What are the Las Vegas gambling odds on WWIII taking place? There are, indeed, gambling sites like Sportsbettingdime.com and @Everythingodds that will at least entertain the probability of WWIII and when it might happen.

Moral Derangement

What a coincidence that 2034 has been released just as President Joe Biden and other US government officials are ramping up the political and economic pressure on China and Russia through sanctions and incendiary verbiage. Pentagon war planners likely consult these works to see if there is any useful information that can be included in the “real” WWIII plans. Who is the target audience for these doomsday works? The World Socialist Website, in a scathing review, makes a case that the preferred readership is policymakers in Washington, DC, defense contractors, think tanks and the US military writ large. They also point out that there are no works of art–books or films—recently produced that hardily critique any presidential administration about the folly of nuclear war with China or Russia. Everyone loses in that scenario.

A normal person, that is, one for whom moral derangement is not a professional requirement, would read Stavridis’ book with horror and do everything to avoid the massive level of death it depicts. But the fact is that, for its intended audience within the Beltway and the Pentagon, the tactical nuclear exchanges depicted in the book, constitute, in the words of Dr. Strangelove’s Gen. Buck Turgidson, “getting our hair mussed”—an entirely acceptable consequence of the use of nuclear weapons. Stanley Kubrick’s masterful Dr. Strangelove, Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe, and, more obliquely, John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May (all released in 1964) were scathing critiques of the military and of nuclear war. No such critical works are being written and produced today, and ground has been ceded to Stavridis’ sanitized depiction of nuclear war from the standpoint of a practitioner.

Fungus

One of the best techniques to prepare for war is to turn an enemy into some sort of sinister fungus and through the use of government propaganda planted in the mainstream media, prepare the dismally educated public for war. Or gin up stories of Russia and China’s meddling in US elections (enough already!). US propaganda must avoid any reference to past friendly or helpful interest-based relations, or conflicts, between the three nations. In this case, Americans are not to be informed that China, Russia, and the United States have very similar economic and human interests. What good would a nuclear—or conventional war–do any of the three powers?

What do US policymakers and military leaders fear? The United States has a string of global military bases and intelligence outposts to which China and Russia have no real answer for, save for maybe nuclear weapons and espionage-cyber-information operations (the US has 17 well funded intelligence agencies to work the latter problem). Plus, the world knows that the US National Security Agency has unmatched signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability to eavesdrop on just about any international communications. Moreover, the US has air, space, sea (an undersea) assets that neither China nor Russia can match without the use of suicidal tactical nuclear weapons. Land forces are a different story: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia; and, going way back, Vietnam have shown that it is capable to bog down US Army forces in irregular warfare. The US spends nearly $1.2 trillion per year on all its military, intelligence, and homeland security needs. At this moment it is modernizing all its strategic nuclear forces and adding intermediate range nuke missiles to the mix.  All of this is ostensibly aimed at “Great Powers” Russia and China. It’s as if the Pentagon brass wants to fight “real” opponents with air-combat, amphibious landings and tanks battles.

Any avid readers in the US taking a look at the New York Times or Washington Post (two mouthpieces for the US government) might think that the US is already at war, at least economically and via espionage, with China and Russia. But it would probably come as a surprise to most Americans that, in the midst of a new Cold War, Russia ranked third in oil exports to the US in 2020.

According to Bloomberg:

Even as Washington champions energy independence and warns European allies against becoming too dependent on Moscow, American refineries are buying more of the country’s oil than ever before…Deprived of access to Venezuelan crude by U.S. sanctions on the regime of Nicolás Maduro, and facing reduced shipments from OPEC nations since the cartel cut output, US refiners turned to Russian oil in 2020 to fill the gap. The buying spree, combined with sharply lower Saudi shipments, catapulted Russia into the position of third-largest oil supplier to the US last year.

Russia was also vital to the Union cause during the US civil war. There is a tendency to think that the US civil war was fought in isolation without any concern of the powers of the day in Europe or Russia (1860-1865). In the geopolitical drama of those years, Britain and France were maneuvering to take advantage of the worst-case scenario of the American Civil War: a victory by the slave-based economy of the Confederacy. They intended to recognize the Confederacy as a distinct country. The perception that Czar Alexander II might come to the aid of  Abraham Lincoln and the Union was disconcerting to Great Britain and France. While the Russian fleet docked in the San Francisco and New York harbors at the time might not have been formidable foes to the surface fleets of Great Britain and France, that and other maneuvers by US diplomat Cassius Clay (appointed by Abraham Lincoln as ambassador to Russia) significantly aided the cause of the Union forces.

Vinegar and Global Corporations in China

China is home to a museum that pays tribute to WWII General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell. Fluent in Chinese he was loosely in charge of all allied forces in the Burma-China-India theater of operations during WWII. Those allies included British and Chinese soldiers. Mao Tse Tung and Zhou Enlai would ultimately put their Red Army under his command. According to Smithsonian Magazine:

…The Stilwell Museum in Chongqing, China, where the general lived while liaising with Chiang Kai-Shek, then fighting both the Japanese and a Communist insurgency that would spiral into China’s long and brutal Civil War, ending in the establishment of the Peoples Republic. While Stilwell was there he grew increasingly disenchanted with corruption and subterfuge in Chiang‘s Nationalist government, ultimately opening communication with the Red Army under Mao Zedong, earning him hero status in contemporary China.

What do these global corporations have in common? Boeing, Walmart, Apple, McDonalds, National Basketball Association, Ford, and Koch Industries are just seven members of the US-China Business Council which lists scores of other American organizations to include law firms, pharmaceutical companies, financial houses, and consultancies that operate in China. Fly on a commercial aircraft lately? Components of the airplane are likely made in China. Likewise, there is the US-Russia Business Council with big names sponsoring the group like Caterpillar, Citi, Microsoft, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, and General Electric.

Does the US want to nuke its own corporations?

Finally, US soldiers met Chinese ground troops in 1950 during the bloody and oft forgotten Korean War. That conflict has still not been settled by peace treaty and resulted in a stalemate. Thinking about waging a successful conventional land war with China is the province of lunatics.

Historical Lesson from 1918-1919

But let’s return to the US Army’s experience fighting the forces of a Leon Trotsky-led Red Army in 1918-1919. That return reminds of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. US soldiers fought with bravery but they were given no specific guidance from Woodrow Wilson in Washington, DC. The US warfighters were caught in a quagmire: the Russian Civil War was afoot and the end of WWI changed the political landscape of Europe and Russia. Troops had no idea what they were doing in Russia. According to Smithsonian Magazine:

Events moved so fast in 1918, they made the mission moot,’ says James Nelson, author of The Polar Bear Expedition. They kept these guys in isolated, naked positions well into 1919. The biggest complaint you heard from the soldiers was, ‘No one can tell us why we’re here,’ especially after the Armistice. Historians tend to see Wilson’s decision to send troops to Russia as one of his worst wartime decisions, and a foreshadowing of other poorly planned American interventions in foreign countries in the century since…’It didn’t really achieve anything—it was ill-conceived,’ says Nelson. The lessons were there that could’ve been applied in Vietnam and could’ve been applied in Iraq. Jonathan Casey, director of archives at the World War I Museum, agrees. ‘We didn’t have clear goals in mind politically or militarily,’ he says. ‘We think we have an interest to protect, but it’s not really our interest to protect, or at least to make a huge effort at it. Maybe there are lessons we should’ve learned.’

 

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Let’s end the insanity of colossal military spending during a global health emergency

Imagine what could be achieved if just a portion of the money spent on military expenditures were pooled into a global fund, and redirected towards ending hunger and massively investing in public health systems. 

*****

If nations had a referendum, asking the public if they want their taxes to go to military weapons that are more efficient in killing than the ones we currently have, or if they would prefer the money to be invested in medical care, social services, education and other critical public needs, what would the response be?

Probably the majority of people would not have to think long and hard, since for many life has become an endless struggle. Even in wealthy countries, the most basic social rights can no longer be taken for granted. Social services are increasingly being turned into commodities, and instead of helping ordinary people they must serve shareholders by providing a healthy profit margin.

The United States is a prime example, where seeing a dentist or any medical doctor is only possible if one has health insurance. Around 46 million Americans cannot afford to pay for quality healthcare—and that is in the richest country of the world.

In less developed nations, a large proportion of people find it hard to access even the most basic resources to ensure a healthy and dignified life. One in nine of the world’s population go hungry. And the Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis of poverty amid plenty, with the number of people facing acute hunger more than doubling.

There are now 240 million people requiring emergency humanitarian assistance, while over 34 million people are already on the brink of starvation.

But the United Nations’ funding appeals are far from being met, condemning thousands to unnecessary deaths from hunger this year. With aid funding falling as humanitarian needs rise, aid agencies are being forced to cut back on life-saving services.

Does it make any sense for our governments to spend billions on defence while fragile health systems are being overwhelmed, and the world is facing its worst humanitarian crisis in generations?

Outrageously misplaced priorities

Global military spending continued to reach record levels in 2020, rising almost 4 percent in real terms to US$1.83 trillion, even despite the severe economic contractions caused by the pandemic. The United States spends two-fifths of the world’s total, more than the next ten countries combined, and still cannot afford to prevent 50 million of its own citizens suffering from food insecurity. Most shamefully, the United Kingdom is massively boosting its arms budget—the largest rise in almost 70 years, including a vast increase to its nuclear weapons stockpile—while cutting aid to the world’s poorest by 30 percent.

Consider what a fraction of military budgets could achieve if that public money was diverted to real human needs, instead of sustaining the corrupt and profitable industry of war:

  • Meeting Goals 1 and 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals— ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’ and ‘Zero hunger’—would barely exceed 3 percent of global annual military spending, according to the UN’s Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
  • With the U.S. military budget of $750 billion in 2020, it could feed the world’s hungry and still spend twice as much on its military than China, writes peace activist Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK.
  • The annual nuclear weapon budget worldwide is 1,000 percent—or 10 times—the combined budget of both the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO), according to the Global Campaign on Military Spending.
  • Just 0.04 percent of global military spending would have funded the WHO’s initial Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, according to Tipping Point North South in its Transform Defence report.
  • It would cost only 0.7 percent of global military spending (an estimated $141.2 billion) to vaccinate all the world’s 7.8 billion inhabitants against Covid-19, according to figures from Oxfam International.

These opportunity costs highlight our outrageously misplaced priorities during an unprecedented global health emergency. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed just how ill-prepared we are to deal with real threats to our societies, and how our ‘national security’ involves a lot more than armies, tanks and bombs. This crisis cannot be addressed by weapons of mass destruction or personnel prepared for war, but only through properly funded healthcare and other public services that protect our collective human security.

It’s time to reallocate bloated defence budgets to basic economic and social needs, as long enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Article 25 points the way forward, underscoring the necessity of guaranteeing adequate food, shelter, healthcare and social security for all.

There is an imperative need for global cooperation to support all nations in recovering and rebuilding from the pandemic. The United Nations and its frontline agencies are critically placed to avert a growing ‘hunger pandemic’, and yet are struggling to receive even minimal funding from governments.

Imagine what could be achieved if just a portion of the money spent on military expenditures were pooled into a global fund, and redirected towards ending hunger and massively investing in public health systems, especially in the most impoverished and war-torn regions.

The common sense of funding ‘peace and development, not arms!’ has long been proclaimed by campaigners, church groups and engaged citizens the world over. But it will never happen unless countless people in every country unify around such an obvious cause, and together press our public representatives to prioritise human life over pointless wars.

In the words of arms trade campaigner Andrew Feinstein:

Perhaps this is an opportunity. Let’s embrace our global humanity, which is how we’re going to get through this crisis. Let’s put aside our obsession with enemies, with conflict. This is an opportunity for peace. This is an opportunity to promote our common humanity.

The post Let’s end the insanity of colossal military spending during a global health emergency first appeared on Dissident Voice.