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Tuesday 26 June 2012

NATO: What's in a name? II

We've had a few comments from people who agree that there is a certain irony in NATO's name but pointing out that we're actually confusing NATO with the various Partners for which it is a kind of umbrella organization. People have also observed that it's unfair to criticize NATO for existing under a name which no longer seems to correspond to its true function - corporations, for example, often evolve far beyond their original business specialty. True. But corporations also  sometimes evolve their names - if not to reflect what they do, at least not to contradict it. Others point out that ultimately, an organization should not be judged by its name, or by what it says it does, but by what it does.

Fair enough. In fact we urge you all to learn as much as you can about what NATO, or whatever you want to call it (a name containing, say, "Peace", Dialogue," or Cooperation") has done and is doing. Read Rick Rozoff's blog.  Start with the post about the meeting being held in Brussels today, June 26, 2012. Read William Blum's work - start with "We came, we saw, we destroyed, we forgot." Read this post that appeared on yesterday.

The business of America is business. Fine. But we all need to learn about, and think about, what that business really is.

Monday 25 June 2012

NATO: What's in a name?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has now expanded to include South America. And into countries with no Atlantic coast at all, let alone on the North Atlantic. Unless you count the Caribbean...

Rick Rozoff, in a post entitled "NATO Expands Military Network To All Continents," reports on the recent Strategic Military Partnership Conference held in Zagreb and reveals that:

The South American nation(s) were not identified, but NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Admiral James Stavridis, recently identified El Salvador in Central America and Colombia in South America, respectively, as current and future NATO partners and troop contributors...

Of course, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are members of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, a NATO Partner. And Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Tunisia (and soon, possibly, Libya) are members of Mediterranean Dialogue, also a NATO Partner. None of them have an Atlantic coast either. And Admiral Stavridis, Rozoff reports, also told Congress in March that Brazil and India also were potential NATO partnership states. India?

Rozoff points out that: The inclusion of South America marks the crossing of a new threshold for NATO: It now has members and partners on all six inhabited continents, accounting for over a third of the nations in the world.

NATO's name is likely to become something of a PR handicap if it continues this expansion. We hereby launch a challenge to our many readers: come up with a new name to fit the existing acronym. A friend has already jokingly suggested "New American Terrorism Overseas," but of course he was engaging in irony. We all know that NATO is an international organization, that its purpose is peace and the protection of civilian populations, and that it is not in the business of advancing the cause of US foreign policy and arms sales for US manufacturers... Though we have to admit that there is at least a hint of that in NATO's language: As NATO has remarked of the Connected Forces Initiative, it is "aimed at ensuring that NATO retains and builds on the valuable gains of interoperability among Allies and partners as a result of NATO’s recent operations."

Still, Rozoff's article should be read by anyone who finds it curious that NATO even continues to exist, let alone expand. And everyone with a nervous system capable of engaging with the outside world should read his last paragraph:

The steady expansion of NATO military partnerships and operations around the world, which now include all populated continents, has no precedent in history. This is the first attempt to establish an international military alliance that is capable of and prepared to intervene in any nation and region it chooses to for the geopolitical benefit of its leading member states.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Hillary slaps, Grayson flips

The following is from a friend who forwarded an e-mail from the campaign of Alan Grayson, of whom he was a supporter, along with his two outraged responses to it. The names have been changed to protect the innocent…


Well, another one bites the dust. A record flip-flop. It only took Alan Grayson of all people, 24 hours to turn himself inside out from Mr. Anti-War into Gen. Buck Turgidson. 
When they ignore it, I'm gonna take this one all the way to the bank. Maybe his accountant will mention it to him if I ask for all my money back.

Subject: Refund my $30, per your grotesque flip-flop RE: A Not-Dumb War
Date: Sat, 12 May 2012 11:06:04 -0500

The e-mail below states why I want (demand) refund of my $30 contributed to you on 5/10/12, ref. # DW254772014. 

What appears to have happened is that you got slapped quick&hard by Madame Secretary's office for daring to say a critical thing (yr 'A Dumb War' piece) about her bloody interventionist policies. Well, if you can't take the slap, don't make the comment. Especially if you're going to let it box & flip-flop you into then making a statement more cold&bloody than what most of us have heard from any politician anywhere. 


We haven't had Gingrich, McCain or even David Duke actually voice that a war turned out well with 25k killed ’cause it was done on the cheap w/o us getting our hair mussed much. You stole a major script line from _Dr. Strangelove_--and YOU don't seem to have been kiddin’.         


Regarding the several hundred $ I've previously given you, I may write that off ’cause you looked like you were very articulate and a cut above. Then I'll wait and see if you recover from the strange kool-aid somebody gave you after your criticisms of elements of the foriegn policy of my President and his Sec. Of State (they DO need to resurrect the “Sec. Of War” moniker for Hilary). 


Subject: RE: A Not-Dumb War
Date: Fri, 11 May 2012 09:19:49 -0500

So 25,000 Libyans dead in order to save them from being brutalized is not dumb?! Wow. I'd say that's MORE than dumb--it's obscene and a 'groundbreaking' bloody hypocrisy. I think I want my money back that I just donated. 


Date: Thu, 10 May 2012 16:33:29 -0400
Subject: A Not-Dumb War

Dollar Sign

Not Cheap.


Dear Will:

Yesterday, I wrote about President Obama's announcement last week that he had signed an agreement to extend the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan for twelve more years. I said that at this point, the war in Afghanistan very much resembles what, in October 2002, State Senator Barack Obama called a "dumb war."

Which begs this question: what is not a "dumb war"? Well, we just saw a good example of a not-dumb war, at least if you happen to be French.

Last year, Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, decided that he was going to take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. I'm not going to argue whether that was right or wrong; that's not the point. The point is that France won that war, at very minimal cost.

So the French Air Force bombed Libyan targets. But France also enlisted NATO support. In fact, France's NATO allies bore 80% of the cost of the war in Libya.

The actual cost to France was 320 million euros, which equals around $415 million. And not one French soldier died. (I'm aware of the fact that around 25,000 Libyans died, but again, that's not the point.)

Assuming that you buy into the goal, the French war in Libya was a smart war. Very smart.

Now let's compare that to the war in Iraq. Same stated goal: remove the dictator. And same result: dictator removed.

But the war in Iraq cost $4 trillion ($4,000,000,000,000), according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. More than World War II. 4,487 American soldiers died (and maybe 500,000 Iraqis).

The war in Iraq dragged on for eight years and nine months. During that period, U.S. taxpayers spent $415 million on the war in Iraq every eight hours. And an average of 10 American soldiers were killed every week.

Now that is a dumb war. Really dumb.

And the war in Afghanistan is no different from the war in Iraq. We are spending almost $1 million a year for each American soldier in Afghanistan.

Another dumb war.

So I agree with State Senator Barack Obama. "That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war."


Alan Grayson

"All we are saying is give peace a chance." – John Lennon (1969).

8419 Oak Park Road, Orlando, FL 32819

Paid for and Authorized by the Committee to Elect Alan Grayson


Tuesday 17 April 2012

NATO Summit: Obama To Fete 50-Nation Expeditionary Military Force

by Rick Rozoff of StopNATO

Last week the Sun-Times, one of Chicago's two major dailies, reported that the president and his wife will host complementary receptions during next month's North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit attended by the heads of state and government (presidents and prime ministers), defense ministers and foreign ministers of fifty countries supplying troops for NATO's International Security Assistance Force war effort in Afghanistan.
On May 20 President Obama is to host a working dinner with the heads of state of NATO's 28 member states at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears football team; the same night a dinner for perhaps all 22 non-NATO countries providing troops for the alliance's over decade-long military campaign in Afghanistan will be held at the Field Museum of Natural History not far away from sports stadium.
First Lady Michelle Obama is to officiate over a "spouse dinner" with NATO's women's auxiliary the same evening, possibly at the Symphony Center complex.
The fifty nations with troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan are collectively referred to in NATOese as Troop Contributing Nations.
The Sun-Times listed the contributors in alphabetical order and the roster is both impressive and not a little alarming: Never before have armed forces from so many states participated in one war, surely not on one side under a unified command and in a single war theater, much less in one country.
The NATO nations are Albania, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the United States.
The non-NATO (or rather not yet NATO) contributors are in almost all instances members of one or more NATO military partnership programs, listed in parentheses below:
Armenia (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan), Australia (Contact Country), Austria (Partnership for Peace), Azerbaijan (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan), Bahrain (Istanbul Cooperation Initiative), Bosnia (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan) El Salvador, Finland (Partnership for Peace), Georgia (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan, NATO-Georgia Commission), Ireland (Partnership for Peace), Jordan (Mediterranean Dialogue), Macedonia (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan), Malaysia, Mongolia (Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme), Montenegro (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan candidate), New Zealand (Contact Country), Singapore, South Korea (Contact Country), Sweden (Partnership for Peace), Tonga, Ukraine (Partnership for Peace, NATO-Ukraine Commission) and the United Arab Emirates (Istanbul Cooperation
Other nations that are providing or have provided (Switzerland until 2008) military and security personnel for ISAF and for the Afghanistan-Pakistan war front in general include Afghanistan (Afghanistan-Pakistan-International Security Assistance Force Tripartite Commission, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan) Colombia, Egypt (Mediterranean Dialogue), Japan (Contact Country), Kazakhstan (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan), Moldova (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan) Pakistan (Afghanistan-Pakistan-International Security Assistance Force Tripartite Commission) and Switzerland (Partnership for Peace).
That is, military forces from all six inhabited continents.
In addition, NATO troops are stationed in military bases in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and the bloc has transit centers in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, all five Central Asian countries being members of NATO's Partnership for Peace program.
The war in Afghanistan has been employed as the longest, largest and most ambitious effort to date by the U.S. and NATO to consolidate an integrated expeditionary military force ready for global deployments.
That effort has built upon three previous stages in the development of the above objective: In Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.
With Bosnia, in 1996 NATO led 60,000 troops under its Stabilisation Force command from its current 28 members, although 12 of those would join in the decade of 1999-2009 after proving their mettle in the missions in Bosnia and later Kosovo. They were joined by contingents from Australia, Austria, Egypt, Finland, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand and Sweden among others.
Three years later NATO moved into the Serbian province of Kosovo in charge of the 50,000-troop Kosovo Force with soldiers from its then-19 members, nine more which would join in the following decade and several partnership members which would later send troops to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, including Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Mongolia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine. 
From 2004-2010 the U.S.-led Multi-National Force – Iraq consisted of troops from 22 of NATO's current 28 members, all but Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg and Turkey. Canada, France and Germany compensated by increasing their troop strength in Afghanistan, where they among the largest contributors after the U.S. and Britain.
The twelve new NATO states - Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia - all had troops in Iraq during the period of most intense combat, for the most part in the Polish-led South-Central zone which was supported by NATO.
NATO partner states in addition to the nine that joined the alliance in 2004 and 2009 also served their apprenticeship in Iraq: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Australia, Bosnia, Georgia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Tonga and Ukraine.
In 2008 the above nations started withdrawing their contingents from Iraq ahead of redeploying them to Afghanistan, where they remain.
The steady military involvement of the same fifty or so nations over the past sixteen years in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya (Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, an Istanbul Cooperation Initiative member, provided warplanes for NATO's six-month air war last year) demonstrate how the U.S. has used NATO in the post-Cold War period to forge an international intervention force unparalleled in history, working together in active and post-conflict war zones under the same command, often in integrated units, with interoperability of weapons, tactics and language.
Over the past decade the U.S. and NATO allies have conducted annual military operations in two of the three countries that border both Russia and China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan - Operation Khaan Quest and Operation Steppe Eagle - to advance that global integration. Last month Mongolia became the first nation to join NATO's Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme instituted a year ago.
The 50 heads of state gathering in Chicago next month, like the chiefs of defense staff and military experts from 66 countries (over a third of the world's nations) that met at NATO headquarters in late January, represent a growing U.S.-led military network that is the main threat to world peace.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

"The Military-Petroleum Complex" by Nick Turse

In "The Military-Petroleum Complex," Nick Turse (author of the essential The Complex) points out that the amount of oil consumed by the Pentagon (I don't know if that includes NATO allies' consumption) exceeds the entire national consumption of Sweden and amounts to 5.46 billion gallons annnually, according to the Pentagon itself.


The Pentagon needs two things to survive: war and oil. And it can’t make the first if it doesn’t have the second. In fact, the Pentagon’s methods of mass destruction -- fighters, bombers, tanks, Humvees, and other vehicles -- burn 75 percent of the fuel used by the DoD. For example, B-52 bombers consume 47,000 gallons per mission over Afghanistan. But don’t expect big oil (or even smaller petroplayers) to turn off the tap for peace. Such corporations are just as wedded to war as their most loyal junkie. After all, every time an F-16 fighter “kicks in its afterburners and blasts through the sound barrier,” it burns through $300 worth of fuel a minute, while each of those B-52 missions means a $100,000 tax-funded payout.

According to retired lieutenant general Lawrence P. Farrell Jr., the president of the National Defense Industrial Association (“America’s leading Defense Industry association promoting National Security”), the Pentagon is “the single largest consumer of petroleum fuels in the United States.” In fact, it’s the world’s largest energy consumer, according to Shachtman. That, alone, guarantees the military-petroleum complex isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon – just some fuel for thought next time you head out to a Shell, BP, Exxon, or Mobil station to fill ’er up.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

How the New American Empire Really Works

I’ve often said that the reason behind the US/NATO’s military adventures is control of resources – including pools of cheap labor – and strategic points on the globe. That last point leads us back to the origin – the purpose of the military is the military. We are in a circular process. The serpent of American exceptionality fellates its own tail, mutes its own warning.
In How the New American Empire Really Works, Paul Craig Roberts nails that circularity to the wall: The military-security-financial complex is not only a means of ensuring the extraction of wealth from the peoples of the world. It is itself the means of extracting the wealth of the American people. And one way to explain what James Petras calls the crisis of labor – essentially, government by capital, for capital – is the refusal of Americans to learn history and their fatal weakness (which at the same time is their great strength) of empathy, best shown in their empathy with the families of “those who serve” when they lose a loved one. They close ranks, as they did in September of 2001. Yet among our ranks were those who were not – are not – above using such a tragedy to extend the very machine whose diabolical operation resulted in the blowback of 9/11. And as Roberts points out with such startling clarity, ultimately the purpose of that machine is to extract wealth.

[...] America’s wars are very expensive. Bush and Obama have doubled the national debt, and the American people have no benefits from it. No riches, no bread and circuses flow to Americans from Washington’s wars. So what is it all about? The answer is that Washington’s empire extracts resources from the American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America. The military-security complex, Wall Street, agri-business and the Israel Lobby use the government to extract resources from Americans to serve their profits and power. The US Constitution has been extracted in the interests of the Security State, and Americans’ incomes have been redirected to the pockets of the 1 percent. That is how the American Empire functions. The New Empire is different. It happens without achieving conquest. The American military did not conquer Iraq and has been forced out politically by the government that Washington established. There is no victory in Afghanistan, and after a decade the American military does not control the country. In the New Empire success at war no longer matters. The extraction takes place by being at war. Huge sums of American taxpayers’ money have flowed into the American armaments industries and huge amounts of power into Homeland Security. The American empire works by stripping Americans of wealth and liberty. This is why the wars cannot end, or if one does end another starts. [...]

Saturday 31 March 2012

US turns blind eye on own violation of human rights

Eric Sommer in the Tanzania Citizen

US media and political figures constantly attack China for alleged human rights violations, while conveniently turning a blind eye to human rights violations perpetrated by the United States in the name of its war on terror, for instance the use of torture at Abu Ghraib, the illegal detention of suspects at Guantanamo, the apprehension and extrajudicial transfer of individuals from one state to another, and the unauthorised surveillance of citizens are just some of the US' well-documented human rights abuses.

And as important as rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of religion may be, these rights pale in significance beside the most fundamental of human rights, which is the right to live, with its corollary of security from actions or conditions which threaten life, such as military aggression, criminal acts, or similar threats that put people's lives at risk.

With this in mind let's compare China and the US, to see who is the real human rights violator.
US military forces have been responsible for thousands, possibly millions, of civilian deaths around the world in the past decade.While there are no accurate figures for the civilian death toll in Iraq, household surveys have been conducted asking Iraqis to list the family members they have lost and the results then extrapolated to the total population to give a nationwide estimate.

The prominent British medical journal, the Lancet, ran into a storm of controversy when it published an article by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore which extrapolated the results of a survey of a randomly chosen sample of 1,849 households to the total Iraqi population and estimated that there were 655,000 deaths between April 2003 and June 2006.

Yet in 2007, the British polling firm Opinion Research Business surveyed 1,720 Iraqi adults and extrapolated a figure that was even higher - a "minimum of 733,158 to a maximum of 1,446,063" - Iraqi civilaians killed.

The independent UK-based research group, the Iraq Body Count, which only counts civilan deaths where there is documentary evidence, such as cross-checked media reports, hospital, and morgue records - which is likely to be the minority seeing as so few bodies are recovered - has a minimum civilian death toll of 105,753.

Nor is there a single figure for the overall number of civilians killed by the 10-year war in Afghanistan, but according to the latest report from the United Nations, 12,793 have been killed in just the past six years.

And these figures do not include those that have been injured in the two wars, nor those killed or injured by the US military in Pakistan and Libya.

The US military, supported by the US government, defines its goal as "full spectrum" - that is global land, sea and air and indeed space - military dominance. In support of this goal, the US military is deployed in more than 150 countries and according to an official Pentagon accounting of US military bases, the Base Structure Report, Fiscal 2010 Baseline the US has at least 662 overseas bases in 38 foreign countries, although the figure is more because the list excludes bases in several nations integral to active operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Chinese government has emphasized that the Chinese military's role is strictly defensive: protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful economic development. China adheres to a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and during the same period it has had no military conflicts with other countries.

It also has no military bases in other countries. The US' rate of imprisonment is the highest in the world: about 760 out of every 100,000 US citizens are in jail. China, with a population very nearly four times as big, has a rate of imprisonment that is one-seventh that of the US, about 118 out of every 100,000 of its citizens are in jail.
In the US there is unofficial media censorship by the central government -which seeks control over news content relating to its military operations.

Mr Somer, a Canadian independent researcher, filed this analysis for Xinhua from Beijing

Monday 19 March 2012

DemocracyNow! ... Truth later?

Another massacre, another series of "facts" to be extracted from the "reality" of the US/NATO occupation of large areas of the world. Naturally I went to DemocracyNow! to try to find out as much as could about it without - or in spite of? - the built-in filters. 

I’ve been a follower of DemocracyNow!...  for several years now. When I first discovered the program, I was convinced I had found THE alternative to the filtered-at-the-source news available on TV and in the press. Then I saw with chagrin that DN had more or less swallowed whole the US/NATO/mainstream media take on Libya – that NATO was on a humanitarian mission to free a people of a sanguinary dictator – without seeming to consider the real geopolitical stakes: Iraq’s rich oil deposits, Khaddafy’s determination to aid and promote a free and independent Africa, the US AFRICOM’s need for a foothold on the African continent, etc. In other words, DN seems to have fallen for the meme wherein the US/NATO military and the corporate-financial complex it supports are basically well-meaning if at times heavy-handed. By then I had begun to find and regularly consult other sources of information – which probably explains my wariness at DN’s take on Libya –, and, more importantly, to realize that, convenient and reassuring as it might be to be able to count on ONE source of news, there is really no alternative to the patient effort to find new sources and, more importantly, to develop one’s own critical sense about what those various sources are putting forward. Having said that, DN continues to be among the sources I consult, and it is still an invaluable one.
Nevertheless, when I read the transcript of DN’s interview with Neil Shea about the massacre in Panjwai (which no source anywhere seems to suggest was anything but a massacre), I felt that something was wrong. I’ll go through the transcript of the interview and try to point out a few things that lit the warning light in my head, and go on to draw a few conclusions:

We speak with journalist Neil Shea, who has reported on Afghanistan and Iraq since 2006 for Stars and Stripes and other publications.

Ordinarily, I would not tend to trust a reporter who writes for an official Pentagon newspaper. But the fact that he is being interviewed by DN gives him credibility…

Shea discusses his experiences witnessing disturbing behavior during his travels with U.S. troops in Afghanistan and offers insight into understanding the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians. "When we cycle our soldiers and marines through these wars that don’t really have a clear purpose over years and years...we expect light-switch control over their aggression," Shea says. "We expect to be able to turn them into killers and then turn them back into winners of hearts and minds. And when you do that to a man or a woman over many years, that light-switch control begins to fray." [includes rush transcript]


Neil Shea has reported on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2006 for Stars and Stripes and The Christian Science Monitor, among other publications. His latest article in The American Scholar is called "Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace: Traveling with U.S. Troops Gives Insights into the Recent Massacre."


JUAN GONZALEZ: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is set to meet today with the families of 16 civilians killed in a massacre allegedly committed by a single U.S. soldier. Yesterday Karzai called on U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghan villages. Meanwhile, the Taliban has announced they’re suspending peace talks, even as U.S. officials say they hope to stick around to a 2014 withdrawal schedule for troops in Afghanistan.

After meeting with Karzai, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta again promised the unnamed suspect in the shooting rampage that killed mostly women and children would be brought to justice

DEFENSE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: I assured him that, first and foremost, that I shared his regrets about what took place, that we extended our deepest condolences to the families, to the villages and to the Afghan people over what occurred. And I again pledged to him that we are—we are proceeding with a full investigation here, and that “we will bring the individual involved to justice”. And he accepted that.

The first thing I noticed is that the clip shown is from the news conference given by Secy. Panetta following his discussion with President Karzai, during which he said “We will bring the individual involved to justice.” This is the version DN chooses to quote. The official Department of Defense news release, however, quotes Panetta as saying “we will bring those responsible to justice.”

JUAN GONZALEZ: That was Defense Secretary Panetta.
Many Afghans have raised questions about the U.S. military’s statements on the massacre. On Thursday, the Pajhwok Afghan News agency reported an Afghan parliamentary probe determined up to 20 U.S. troops were involved in the massacre. The Afghan lawmaker Hamizai Lali told the agency, quote, “We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most of them children and women, have been killed by the two groups.”

It is not mentioned that the victims (including small children) were reportedly killed by a shot to the head and that in the first location, their bodies were piled together in one room and an attempt was made to burn them. The similarity to previous night raids is unmistakable, in addition to the fact that both details argue against the “lone crazed killer” idea and in favor of coordination and pre-planning. Additional evidence that there may well have been more than one killer lies in Sec’y Panetta’s being quoted in the DOD release as having said “We will bring those responsible to justice,” but altering the phrase to “we will bring the individual involved to justice.” [Update: The official version is now saying that the witnesses who saw multiple soldiers may have in fact seen members of a a search party that was sent to look for Bales. I could have sworn that that sentence about the search party was not in the stories I read a couple of days ago.] Goodman follows the quote from the leader of the Afghan investigative team – “We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people” – by leading off with “The US soldier accused in the massacre…”

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. soldier accused in the massacre has been flown out of Afghanistan to a detention center in Kuwait despite several Afghan lawmakers and residents saying he should have been tried in Afghanistan. A senior U.S. commander defended the move, saying it was made to help ensure a proper investigation and trial. The suspected killer’s name has not been released, but he has been identified as a 38-year-old staff sergeant who served three tours of duty in Iraq, where he suffered a head injury. This was his fourth tour of duty, in Afghanistan.

Couldn't she have said "a US soldier..."? The identity of the accused “lone killer” has, of course, now been released (he is Staff Sgt. Robert Bales), along with the fact that he has been flown to the USA. We are told that removing him physically from Afghanistan will “help ensure a proper investigation and trial,” with no answer to the obvious question that arises: How will removing him from Afghanistan help ensure a proper investigation? Will it not rather ensure that no one anywhere near the events will be able to testify in the supposed trial? [Update: The official line on Bales’s being moved to Leavenworth has changed. Now we are told that he was moved not because moving him would “help ensure a proper investigation and trial,” but because “there was no appropriate detention facility to hold him in Afghanistan.”]
What follows tell us that Bales’s attorney implies that his family feels that the massacre – which we are being led to believe was the work of a single individual who “snapped” – was caused at least in part by his dissatisfaction with an overloaded and dysfunctional US military command:

Yesterday, prominent Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne announced he will represent the soldier. Browne’s past clients include serial burglar Colton Harris-Moore and serial killer Ted Bundy. At a news conference in Seattle, Browne said the soldier’s family was shocked at what happened.
JOHN HENRY BROWNE: He was told that he was not going to be redeployed. And they were—the family was counting on him not being redeployed. And so, he and the family were told that his tours in the Middle East were over. And then, literally overnight, that changed. So I think that it would be fair to say that he and the family were not happy that he was going back…
Oh, they were totally shocked. He’s never said anything antagonistic about Muslims. He’s never said anything antagonistic about Middle Eastern individuals. He’s, in general, been very mild-mannered. So, they were very shocked by this.

Yet somehow the fact that the lawyer who is to defend Bales was also the defender of serial murderer Ted Bundy suggests that a (temporary) insanity plea is being envisaged.
Now Goodman introduces Shea and provides background on Shea’s recent article in American Scholar

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by journalist Neil Shea. He’s joining us from Raleigh, North Carolina, has reported on Afghanistan for many years for Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper, and The Christian Science Monitor, among others. His latest article in The American Scholar is called “Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace: Traveling with U.S. Troops Gives Insights into the Recent Massacre.”
We welcome you, Neil, to Democracy Now! Yours is an extremely disturbing article. Tell us what you have found. Just walk us through the descriptions you share in your piece.
NEIL SHEA: Well, good morning, Amy and Juan.
I found that during one of my last trips to Afghanistan, I met up with a group of soldiers who were the first I had ever come across who made me feel pretty nervous about what I was going to see while I was with them. And I spent a few days with them and came to just really understand that they had gotten to the edge of violence, as we understand it, in Afghanistan, and they seemed ready and capable of doing some pretty bad things. I didn’t actually witness them do anything too terrible, but the way that they talked and the way that they acted toward Afghan civilians and animals and property in the country was sort of stunning to me. And that’s what I describe in the article. It’s talking about these—this group of soldiers and sort of their mental state during a multi-day mission in a central part of Afghanistan that was supposed to be a Taliban stronghold. Many of these guys seemed like they had reached the end of their rope in terms of stability and controlling their aggression.

Now if one reads the article in question, I think it's fair to say that nowhere in it does anything Shea reports about their speech and behavior imply that the men he encountered have been “pushed to the edge of violence.” What emerges about them is rather that their overall attitude toward the lives and property of Afghans and the dignity of Afghan women is one of extreme callousness. Shea allows for the possibility that their talk can be discounted as the equivalent of locker-room braggadocio, but adds that "In speech we give ideas life." Several of them joke about killing their ex-wife or ex-girlfriend once back in the States. One states that the only thing that kept him from killing a prisoner was the fear of a prison sentence. Yet Shea writes “I felt I was watching some of the men unravel toward serious crimes…,” and makes a point of saying that the men of what he calls “Destroyer platoon” “were the first I had ever come across who made me feel pretty nervous.” It is as if he sees the generalized callousness and amorality he witnessed as evidence of a deteriorated state of mind brought on by the stress of war or by faulty command (Bales’s camp, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is allegedly “dysfunctional”) rather than an unavoidable reaction to taking part in a war that is itself dysfunctional and the product of a dysfunctional foreign policy. Juan Gonzalez pursues this in his next question, and Shea answers by citing further examples,

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Neil, what I found amazing about your story is, as you say, you focus not on any high-profile event that might be considered something illegal done by the troops or a war crime, but on the everyday occurrences that created greater and greater distance between this particular group of U.S. soldiers and the civilian population. At one point, you write, “Evil or atrocity often explodes from a furnace built by the steady accretion of small, unchallenged wrongs. Some men in Destroyer platoon had been drifting that way for a long time.” Can you talk about some of those incidents that you witnessed that were part of this buildup of the psychological perspective, viewpoint of these men?
NEIL SHEA: Sure, Juan. In some ways, this article was a culmination of things that I’ve seen since 2006, when I first started covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And during those years, I’ve seen soldiers and marines sort of build up through these cycles of aggression, to the point where they start doing—they begin with small things. They’ll insult Iraqis or Afghans behind their backs, and that’s sort of the very mild beginning of it. And then they sort of move up the chain, if we can call it that, into more serious acts of aggression, where they’ll kill animals or they’ll beat somebody or treat them roughly, and it sort of builds up from there.

and leads up to a revealing point:

What I saw with these guys in Afghanistan when I was with them was that several of them had already been through multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they had reached a point where they hated Afghans, they hated the country, and they were really not interested in doing any of the hearts and minds stuff anymore that’s a crucial part of the mission.

In other words, “the hearts and minds stuff” is a crucial part of the mission (the very phrase Shea uses seems to belie that), but our troops in Afghanistan are not interested in doing it because they are overworked and suffering from stress due to multiple missions, possibly the fault of dysfunctional command. The solution would seem to be clear – simply provide more troops, give them the means to fight under better, more human conditions – by providing recreational facilities and female companionship, perhaps? Nowhere is there the suggestion that the fundamental reasons for the presence of these troops in Afghanistan may be wrong, that “the hearts and minds stuff” is not some optional aspect of the troops’ mission, however crucial, that occupying a country militarily is simply not the way to win its people’s hearts and minds.

So by the time I reached these guys, they had already been sort of—they had been building up anger and aggression in strange ways for a number of years. And when I saw them, they had just shot a dog that had been a pet in an Afghan home that they had confiscated during the mission, and they treated Afghan civilians fairly roughly, and they took a few prisoners and treated them very roughly, as well. Nothing that would rise to necessarily the—sort of a crime at that time, but the way that they talked about things and the way that they sort of handled themselves was really aggressive. And it was only—it seemed to me only to be barely kept in check.
So it’s just this small—when we cycle our soldiers and marines through these wars that don’t really have a clear purpose over years and years, I write in the article that we begin—we expect light-switch control over their aggression. We expect to be able to turn them into killers and then turn them back into winners of hearts and minds. And when you do that to a man or a woman over many years, that light-switch control begins to fray. And that’s what I believe I was seeing with these guys in Afghanistan.

Shea seems to miss an essential point: These wars do have a clear purpose. That purpose is neocolonial domination by a military machine. But that purpose cannot be admitted. And so the endless cycle of massacres of civilians and plausible denials continues. Here, we have not the usual bad apple – if the pattern is followed, it will surely be admitted that more than one individual took part in the massacre – but one barrel of rotten apples in the huge storehouse that is the US/NATO military machine, whose overall purpose, while at times not clear, must surely be benevolent.

JUAN GONZALEZ: You also mention something that I don’t think many Americans here realize, that when these platoons go out, especially on multi-day patrols, that they often just take over the homes of Afghans, evict them, and give them a few dollars and basically order them out of their homes and take them over for their own—for their own refuge. And this creates—you quote one soldier saying, “Well, we helped create more Taliban today,” because of—the soldiers themselves recognizing that their actions were creating enormous hostility in the population.
NEIL SHEA: Right. This is—this was a fairly standard practice in Afghanistan, and even in Iraq. When platoons were moving out through really rural areas or even some urban areas, they needed a place to bed down for the night. They’d try to find either an abandoned house or, if they couldn’t find an abandoned one, they would move into a place that was relatively secure, and they’d sort of kick the family out and try to pay them for their trouble. In this particular case, I was told that the Afghans didn’t take the money from the American troops, because they didn’t want anyone in the region to think that they were siding with the Americans. They were afraid that by taking the money, they’d be seen as American sort of collaborators and perhaps killed later.
But the point I was trying to make when I talked about—when I quoted that soldier as saying that they were on a Taliban recruiting drive, he was actually talking about the fact that they had—they had treated the Afghans so badly during the mission that the Afghans were going to obviously choose the side of the Taliban, because now they hated the Afghan army and they hated the Americans. So the brutal treatment that the Americans had sort of pushed upon them drove these civilians into the arms of the Taliban. And that’s what that particular soldier was talking about. And American soldiers all across Afghanistan run into that problem, just as they did in Iraq, where they have a job to do, but sometimes they have to do it so roughly that the civilian population actually turns against them. And so, that’s what that was about.

Amy Goodman then quotes one of the soldiers Shea encountered and whom he focuses on in the American Scholar article:

AMY GOODMAN: Neil Shea, you quote an American Army sergeant, who said to you, “This is where I come to do f*****-up things.”

But she fails to quote him fully. The actual quote is : “‘This is where I come to do fucked-up things,’ Givens said. ‘So I don’t do them at home.’” What this seems to imply is that the US military, rather than employing wholesome, red-blooded American young men and women, is reduced to using social misfits who might very well eventually erupt into mass murder in the US. This would seem to imply that if indeed there is a benevolent mission, the military is having a very hard time convincing young Americans that it is worth signing onto, even with the added inducement of employment in a time of economic crisis at home. But Goodman seems to miss the fact that the soldier is showing a certain lucidity – not about his own sociopathy, but about the attitude of a military who he at least seem to perceive as no longer even trying to convince anyone of the benevolence of the mission. This same sergeant is the one who is quoted in Shea’s article as saying “Yeah, we definitely made some Taliban out here. […] It was like a week-long Taliban recruiting drive. And we had fun doing it. I love recruiting for the Taliban. It’s called job security.” This demonstrates a lucidity that is not in line with Shea’s overall portrayal of these men as being at the brink of elemental savagery. This man seems to be more lucid, at any rate, about the real purpose of his presence in Afghanistan than Shea is. Shea sees the problem as a “lack of clarity about the mission.” This soldier sees that in fact there is no mission – no mission, that is, other than to justify the presence of US/NATO troops in Afghanistan, and by extension the US/NATO presence around the globe.
Goodman continues:

And I wanted to ask you about this report we can’t confirm that says “Up to 20 U.S. Troops Executed Panjwai Massacre: Probe” by Bashir Ahmad Naadimon. And it’s from Kandahar city (PAN). It says, “A parliamentary probe team on Thursday said up to 20 American troops were involved in Sunday’s killing of 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province.” Now, all the information that we are getting about what took place is from the military—you know, who this man is; the number of tours of duty—he had three in Iraq, one in Afghanistan; that he had a TBI, a traumatic brain injury, in a rollover in Iraq; and now he’s been taken out, so we don’t have any access to him. So that’s what the U.S. is saying. And the New York Times spoke to family members of some of the people who were killed, so we know what happened to some of the people killed. But what about this kind of story that is going around in Afghanistan? Do you find it credible, the idea that it was more than one person who did the killing?

Notice that although Goodman identifies the source of the allegation that up to 20 troops were involved as coming from an investigative team sent in by the Afghan legislature (the Wolesi Jirga or House of the People), she ends by referring to the source as “this kind of story that is going around in Afghanistan.” Are we to assume that there is a better way to get to the truth than to move in quickly and perform an investigation on the ground before the trails are cold – despite the fact that the alleged lone killer has been removed from any possibility of being interviewed – and that the Afghan legislature is not the competent body to conduct that investigation? And notice that Goodman, rather than asking whether Shea disagrees that an investigative team sent in by the Afghan legislature is at least as believable as the official line of the US military – given its history of systematic coverups of such “incidents,” beginning with My Lai and on up to the present – asks whether Shea feels that “this kind of story” is credible.

NEIL SHEA: At this point, I don’t really think that it’s credible. While it still is possible that it was more than just this one soldier who were involved in it, I think that the idea that it was 20 soldiers from one particular unit going into a village to just sort of slaughter people, that actually sounds very far off base to me. And I do know that in Afghan culture, at least from my observations, rumors travel very quickly, and they take on their sort of—they gather facts as they go, in sort of like a game of telephone. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if this story was sort of exaggerated and built up by this point. It would really shock me if it was an organized effort by a group of 20 U.S. soldiers, because—well, for the simple reasons that it would be difficult for—to keep a heinous crime like that so quiet. Even though the U.S. military is sometimes good at keeping things quiet, that would be almost too big for them to squash.

So, having been prompted to doubt the credibility of the Afghan legislative investigation, Shea further undermines that credibility by pointing to an aspect of “Afghan culture” we viewers may not know about – that “rumors travel very quickly” and “gather facts as they go.” The inherent racism and colonial attitude of such a statement is rather startling. On the grounds that rumors are an inherent part of their culture, we are being asked to believe that a group of Afghans – not ignorant villagers, but members of the country’s national legislature – trying to find out who actually killed 16 of their people is less believable than the colonial power that is occupying their country and that, time and time again, has been guilty of murdering innocent civilians? That the on-the-ground testimony of eyewitnesses, gathered by professional investigators and reported by an international news organization, is somehow less believable than the official line of the US military, which time and time again has covered up such events and systematically denied each element of proof until it was no longer deniable? 

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Neil, I’d like to ask you—you’ve been reporting, as you say, from Iraq and Afghanistan now for several years—the length of this war in Afghanistan, more than 10 years now, what it’s done to the American military?
NEIL SHEA: Well, I was asking—when I was there last time, I was actually asking specific soldiers about this, what they thought the military—what damage had been done to the military during the war. And many of them felt that the military had actually been broken by this continued cycle of war. These were usually staff sergeants, command sergeants, mid-level sergeants who are sort of the backbone, as they call them, of the Army. And they really felt that the—a lot of things had deteriorated and eroded during the last 10 years. And soldiers and marines, even airmen in the other branches, told me this. So I think that there’s been a great degree of strain on the American military, particularly in Afghanistan. And that’s partly because, since the beginning of the war, the goal has changed, and the mission has changed, so every few years the military is having to adapt to something new. And there doesn’t really seem to be a clear exit strategy. And so, just sort of constantly refitting itself to adapt to a changing set of demands has created incredible strain.

No clear exit strategy: Even though we had no real reason for going in in the first place, all we need is an “exit strategy”; the issue of why we are there in the first place doesn’t seem to be on the table.
Now Goodman raises the obvious point of the US military’s history of systematic lying and cover-up, to the point that there is no longer any question of real credibility. The US denies what it can get away with denying, admits what it has no choice but to admit, issues heartfelt apologies and compensation payments to the surviving family, if any, of those it kills, and waits for the “incident” to fade from public memory.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, the—you know, how we know what we know right now about what’s happened. Of course, there was the story of Pat Tillman, the belief—originally, the U.S. military put out that he was killed by enemy fire, and ultimately, of course, it was, if you call it, "friendly fire." It was fellow soldiers. And then taking that to this story.
NEIL SHEA: So I guess you’re asking about whether or not it could be sort of a cover-up, or the nature of information?
AMY GOODMAN: Right, not trying to figure out how we know what we know, as the people in the United States and Afghanistan deal with what took place.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to be very aware of what our source of information is, that we don’t have independent confirmation.
NEIL SHEA: Yeah, indeed. I think that it’s entirely possible that right now we’re just sort of being led along with the thinnest of facts. So I’m reluctant to talk about this too much. But, you know, the U.S. military does have a history of trying to keep things under wraps, and particularly something like this. I know the temptation is very strong for them to sort of try to control the story and the message very tightly. So it will be very difficult for journalists to get into this story and sort of crack it open, but absolutely necessary for us to understand not only what happened in Kandahar, but what’s happening to the men and women that we ask to go fight this war.

I can only agree with Amy Goodman that we need to be aware of the fact that we don’t have independent confirmation. And I agree with Neil Shea that journalists need to crack this story open, and that the US military will try to control it. If the past is any indication, each item of deliberately false information that proves to be not plausibly deniable will be spun into something else. In this way, a certain number of layers will be peeled away as we try to get at the truth. But if we continue to assume that at some point we will reach the truth of why we are “fighting this war,” I think that we are mistaken. As with Peer Gynt’s onion, once we reach the last layer, we will see that there is nothing there. There is no justification for the war that might make young Americans want to fight. The original pretext for going to Afghanistan – finding Usama bin Laden – was false, just as the pretext for invading Iraq was false. Behind the lies and the pretexts there is nothing. Or rather, there is what always been there, but can never be named for what it is: An ongoing process of global domination in order to secure resources, yes, but in the end even that is a pretext. The real “reason” behind the US/NATO’s ongoing push toward global domination is nothing other than the very existence of the war machine itself. It is self-perpetuating. Now that the most recent atrocity has been revealed, we are told that the Taliban have cut off talks with the US. We are told that they are threatening to behead American soldiers if any fall into their hands. There will undoubtedly be further attacks on the occupying troops. And that will somehow justify their presence in the country. And so the endless cycle repeats itself. The Taliban were encouraged and funded by the US indirectly through its secret services, but became the enemy, accused of harboring the terrorist bin Laden, himself at one point a clandestine ally of the US. Then the Taliban again became a negotiating partner when it was time for the war machine to begin marshalling its forces against another enemy – Iran, an enemy the US indirectly created through its interference in Iran’s affairs long ago. Just as the emphasis was shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan when it became expedient. Meanwhile, the US/NATO is setting the stage for further interventions, further movements of troops and materiel, further development of weapons systems, through its strategic deployments against Russia – a former ally – and China. Just as the Cold War and the arms race grew out of the desire for military domination. Just as the “war on terror” was created when the supposed “Communist threat” was no longer believable. And there will be more atrocities, because that is what war machines create in their ordinary functioning. And again we will be told that sadly, war sometimes pushes the men and women who fight it to extremes. And that yes, a “good family man,” sadly, can be pushed to the point of being capable of shooting little children in the head. But that his act “does not represent the exceptional character of our military.”

AMY GOODMAN: Neil, we want to thank you very much for being with us. Neil Shea has reported in Afghanistan for many years for Stars and Stripes, The Christian Science Monitor, among others. His latest article is in The American Scholar; it’s called "Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace: Traveling with U.S. Troops Gives Insights into the Recent Massacre." We will link to it at our website, Neil is speaking to us from Raleigh, North Carolina.

Monday 12 March 2012

NATO to hold big sales convention in Chicago

In this interview on Chicago TV, Rick Rozoff of StopNATO succinctly explains how NATO's ongoing expansion and aggression just make good economic sense for a country whose manufacturing base is now pretty much reduced to military hardware. Notice that Rozoff talks about how NATO has dragged a lot of the Eastern European countries into its club, requiring them to spend 2% of GDP on guns and planes from the good old USA. Note also that Greece has been a NATO client since 'way back, and that at least part of the billions the Greek taxpayers (a group which, remember, excludes all of Greece's elite shipowners et al) are being made to pay back are for forced sales of US planes, French frigates, and German submarines. Now the salesmen and their biggest customers are getting ready to hold a bang-up convention in Chi in May - unless it gets relocated to Camp David too...

Saturday 10 March 2012

Juan and Drawn: Due Process

Monday 6 February 2012

Juan and John

Monday 23 January 2012

Glenn Greenwald on Due Process in the USA

Glenn Greenwald comments on the illusion of due process in the US and the Megaupload shutdown:

Contrary to how it was portrayed, the Obama administration’s threatened veto of the NDAA rested largely on the assertion that they did not need a law vesting them with indefinite detention powers because they already have full power to detain people without a trial: not because any actual law expressly vested that power, but because the Bush and Obama DOJs both claimed the 2001 AUMF silently (“implicitly”) authorized it and deferential courts have largely acquiesced to that claim. Thus, Obama argued about indefinite detention in his NDAA veto threat that “the authorities codified in this section already exist” and therefore “the Administration does not believe codification is necessary,” and in his Signing Statement the President similarly asserted that “the executive branch already has the authority to detain in military custody” accused Terrorists “and as Commander in Chief I have directed the military to do so where appropriate.” In other words: we don’t need any law expressly stating that we can imprison people without charges: we do it when we want without that law.

That’s more or less what happened with the SOPA fight. It’s true that website-seizures-without-trials are not quite as lawless as indefinite detentions, since there are actual statutes conferring this power. But it nonetheless sends a very clear message when citizens celebrate a rare victory in denying the Government a power it seeks — the power to shut down websites without a trial — only for the Government to turn around the very next day and shut down one of the world’s largest and best-known sites. Whether intended or not, the message is unmistakable: Congratulations, citizens, on your cute little “democracy” victory in denying us the power to shut down websites without a trial: we’re now going to shut down one of your most popular websites without a trial.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

WW III - View from India

US, not Iran, is to blame

by Sandhya Jain

“We now have two contending worldviews. One buys what it desires by negotiating the price; the other grabs (or tries to) what it desires regardless of the price it (and others) may have to pay. Should a Third World War break out, it would differ from the First and Second World Wars where rival colonial factions fought for hegemony. This time, the winners of the two Wars are on the rampage; they have lost the propaganda war as their naked greed has been exposed in the public arena and their opponents are not colonial raiders.”

As America escalates tension with Iran, the world should stand by Tehran and the UN must cease to behave like the handmaiden of the West.

The Government of India has moved with commendable alacrity to clarify that it has not asked oil firms to reduce crude imports from Tehran. Iran remains this country’s second largest crude oil supplier despite India twice voting that the International Atomic Energy Commission refer Iran’s nuclear issue to the US Security Council in February 2006 and November 2009. Both times India could have abstained; the mindless quest for a strategic partnership with America nearly compromised our national interest.

The need for caution has doubled. As Washington, DC escalates tension with Tehran, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta admitted on CBS’s Face the Nation programme on January 8 that despite the rhetoric, America is aware that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons but is only pursuing “a nuclear capability”.

Yet the Obama Administration last December enacted a law under which the US can impose sanctions on any financial institution dealing with Iran’s central bank, its main clearing house for oil payments. This could jeopardise India’s oil payment system which is currently routed through Turkey’s Halkbank; a delegation to Tehran is expected to take up the matter.

The Washington-Tehran face-off is causing unease in world capitals as the Iranian resistance is likely to be superior to what America and its allies faced in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. In all these theatres, the Western allies bludgeoned the states with brute military force, but had no strategy to hold the ground thereafter. Hence America ran from Iraq and is trying to quit Afghanistan; the Libya story has yet to unfold.

A conflict with Iran will not be one-sided. For one, Russia under Mr Vladimir Putin, aligned with China and Iran, with silent approval from nations like India and Germany that seek energy security by peaceful means, may resist US-led Western hegemony more forcefully. Both Moscow and Beijing feel remorse at permitting the shoddy politics in the UN and handing over Libya and Muammar Gaddafi to the oil-hungry Nato powers.

Already amidst escalating uncertainties, China, Russia, Iran, India, Brazil, Venezuela and other countries have moved to do bilateral trade in their own currencies and avoid using the dollar as the reserve currency. Indeed, Saddam Hussein’s decision not to sell oil in dollars and Muammar Gaddafi’s quest for the Arab gold dinar led to their deaths and the ruination of their countries. Now Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmad-inejad also seeks an alternate currency to the dollar, causing Washington to stride towards a showdown with Tehran.

Nevertheless, the US will have to come to terms with the fact that its currency —once the world’s reserve currency — is losing traction in international trade. China and Japan now trade in bilateral currencies and Russia is making similar deals with major trading partners. In fact, one reason why the US attacked the Euro in 2009 was to nix its emergence as the new international reserve currency. But this has failed to restore the dollar’s hegemony.

Once he becomes Russia’s President, Mr  Putin is likely to resist the US on Iran and also address the issue of Nato’s encirclement of Russia with ballistic missile installations. He will almost certainly intensify energy politics via pipeline diplomacy with Nato members such as Germany, France and Italy to woo them away from the US.

That leaves America with only formidable military power, which is not enough without commensurate economic might. The US could fund the fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and other places because China and other trade surplus nations invested in America’s treasury debt. They will now shift, cutting the US adrift at a time when it needs to throttle the emerging Russia-China-Iran axis.

The core issue is that as the need for energy security increases the mutual interdependence of countries, the US seeks monopolistic control over the raw materials of others. Confrontation and conflict are built into this 19th century style buccaneering ideal; as a result, war clouds loom over Iran.

We now have two contending worldviews. One buys what it desires by negotiating the price; the other grabs (or tries to) what it desires regardless of the price it (and others) may have to pay. Should a Third World War break out, it would differ from the First and Second World Wars where rival colonial factions fought for hegemony. This time, the winners of the two Wars are on the rampage; they have lost the propaganda war as their naked greed has been exposed in the public arena and their opponents are not colonial raiders.

The Strait of Hormuz that links the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean has emerged as the axis mundi of international politics. Twenty per cent of the world’s daily energy supply (17 million barrels of oil) passes through this waterway which is the sole maritime link between oil-producing Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the rest of the world. Last month, Tehran threatened to block the strait in anger at Washington’s new sanctions against Iranian oil exports. A lengthy closure could cause a 50 per cent spurt in oil prices and wreck the global economy.

Attitudes have hardened with the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists with chilling regularity over the past two years. In January 2010, a remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcycle killed Masoud Ali Moham-madi, 50; he taught neutron physics at Tehran University. In November 2010, two separate car bombs exploded on the same day — one killed nuclear scientist Majid Shahriar and injured his wife; the other wounded nuclear scientist Fereidoun Abbasi and his wife.

In July 2011, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation member Darioush Rezaei, 35, was shot dead and his wife injured by two gunmen firing from motorcycles outside their daughter’s kindergarten; he was a specialist in neutron transport which lies at the core of nuclear chain reactions in reactors. On January 11, Professor Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, 32, was killed when a magnetic bomb attached to his car by motorcycle-borne person went off.

Iran is justly enraged and will fight for its honour and sovereignty. Recently, it conducted naval exercises in the Arabian Sea near the Strait of Hormuz and sternly warned American aircraft carrier, USS John C Stennis, which had just left the Gulf, not to return. The world cannot afford the ruination that an Iran war could wreak upon us all. De-escalation of the crisis is imperative. For a start, the major capitals must ensure that the UN ceases to behave like a handmaiden of Western colonial interests.

Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - 4 April 1967, New York City

“Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”

"Beyond Vietnam" 
Address delivered to the Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam, at Riverside Church 
4 April 1967 New York City

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. I also want to say that I consider it a great honor to share this program with Dr. Bennett, Dr. Commager, and Rabbi Heschel, some of the distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation. And of course it's always good to come back to Riverside Church. Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it is always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit.

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?" "Peace and civil rights don't mix," they say. "Aren't you hurting the cause of your people?" they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in the successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides. Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans.

Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, "What about Vietnam?" They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes, I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath --
America will be!

Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read "Vietnam." It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that "America will be" are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1954.* And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.

But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men -- for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood. Because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1954 -- in 1945 rather -- after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China -- for whom the Vietnamese have no great love -- but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva Agreement. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. The peasants watched as all of this was presided over by United States influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.

Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call "fortified hamlets." The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers.

Perhaps a more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front, that strangely anonymous group we call "VC" or "communists"? What must they think of the United States of America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem, which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the South? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the North" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings, even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent communist, and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam, and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will not have a part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them, the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of a new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the North, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French Commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again. When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered.

Also, it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva Agreement concerning foreign troops. They remind us that they did not begin to send troops in large numbers and even supplies into the South until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the North. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than eight hundred, or rather, eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called "enemy," I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote:

Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.


If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.

I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

  • Number one: End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.
  • Number two: Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
  • Three: Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
  • Four: Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and any future Vietnam government.
  • Five: Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement. [sustained applause]

Part of our ongoing [applause continues], part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary. Meanwhile [applause], meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service, we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. [sustained applause] I am pleased to say that this is a path now chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. [applause] Moreover, I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. [applause] These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

Now there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing.

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality [applause], and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. [sustained applause] So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." [applause] Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin [applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. [applause]

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. [sustained applause]

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. [applause] War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and, through their misguided passions, urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not engage in a negative anticommunism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy [applause], realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity, and injustice, which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions.

It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch antirevolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low [Audience:] (Yes); the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I'm not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: "Let us love one another (Yes), for love is God. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us." Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word." Unquote.

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on."

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message -- of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation comes a moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever `twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet `tis truth alone is strong
Though her portions be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. [sustained applause]



Monday 2 January 2012

WW III, continued

Saturday 10 December 2011

WW III, continued

You didn't think the US's leaders would declare war on the middle class. And you probably didn't think they'd start the Cold War over again:

Obama Raises the Military Stakes: Confrontation on the Frontiers of China and Russia

by  James Petras


The speeches and pronouncements of Obama and Clinton reek of nostalgia for a past of neo-colonial overseers and comprador collaborators – a mindless delusion.  Their attempts at political realism, in finally recognizing Asia as the economic pivot of the present world order, takes a bizarre turn in imagining that military posturing and projections of armed force will reduce China to a marginal player in the region.

Obama’s Escalation of Confrontation with Russia

The Obama regime has launched a major frontal military thrust on Russia’s borders.  The US has moved forward missile sites and Air Force bases in Poland, Rumania, Turkey, Spain, Czech Republic and Bulgaria:  Patriot PAC-3 anti-aircraft missile complexes in Poland; advanced radar AN/TPY-2 in Turkey; and several missile (SM-3 IA) loaded warships in Spain are among the prominent weapons encircling Russia, most only minutes away from it strategic heartland.  Secondly, the Obama regime has mounted an all-out effort to secure and expand US military bases in Central Asia among former Soviet republics.  Thirdly, Washington, via NATO, has launched major economic and military operations against Russia’s major trading partners in North Africa and the Middle East.  The NATO war against Libya, which ousted the Gadhafi regime, has paralyzed or nullified multi-billion dollar Russian oil and gas investments, arms sales and substituted a NATO puppet for the former Russia-friendly regime.

The UN-NATO economic sanctions and US-Israeli clandestine terrorist activity aimed at Iran has undermined Russia’s lucrative billion-dollar nuclear trade and joint oil ventures.  NATO, including Turkey, backed by the Gulf monarchical dictatorships, has implemented harsh sanctions and funded terrorist assaults on Syria, Russia’s last remaining ally in the region and where it has a sole naval facility (Tartus) on the Mediterranean Sea.  Russia’s previous collaboration with NATO in weakening its own economic and security position is a product of the monumental misreading of NATO and especially Obama’s imperial policies. Russian President Medvedev and his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mistakenly assumed (like Gorbachev and Yeltsin before them) that backing US-NATO policies against Russia’s trading partners would result in some sort of “reciprocity”:  US dismantling its offensive “missile shield” on its frontiers and support for Russia’s admission into the World Trade Organization.  Medvedev, following his liberal pro-western illusions, fell into line and backed US-Israeli sanctions against Iran, believing the tales of a “nuclear weapons programs”. Then Lavrov fell for the NATO line of “no fly zones to protect Libyan civilian lives” and voted in favor, only to feebly “protest”, much too late, that NATO was “exceeding its mandate” by bombing Libya into the Middle Ages and installing a pro-NATO puppet regime of rogues and fundamentalists.  Finally when the US aimed a cleaver at Russia’s heartland by pushing ahead with an all-out effort to install missile launch sites 5 minutes by air from Moscow while organizing mass and armed assaults on Syria, did the Medvedev-Lavrov duet awake from its stupor and oppose UN sanctions.  Medvedev threatened to abandon the nuclear missile reduction treaty (START) and to place medium-range missiles with 5 minute launch-time from Berlin, Paris and London.

Medvedev-Lavrov’s policy of consolidation and co-operation based on Obama’s rhetoric of “resetting relations” invited aggressive empire building:  Each capitulation led to a further aggression.  As a result, Russia is surrounded by missiles on its western frontier; it has suffered losses among its major trading partners in the Middle East and faces US bases in southwest and Central Asia.

Belatedly Russian officials have moved to replace the delusional Medvedev for the realist Putin, as next President.  This shift to a political realist has predictably evoked a wave of hostility toward Putin in all the Western media.  Obama’s aggressive policy to isolate Russia by undermining independent regimes has, however, not affected Russia’s status as a nuclear weapons power.  It has only heightened tensions in Europe and perhaps ended any future chance of peaceful nuclear weapons reduction or efforts to secure a UN Security Council consensus on issues of peaceful conflict resolution.  Washington, under Obama-Clinton, has turned Russia from a pliant client to a major adversary.

Putin looks to deepening and expanding ties with the East, namely China, in the face of threats from the West.  The combination of Russian advanced weapons technology and energy resources and Chinese dynamic manufacturing and industrial growth are more than a match for crisis-ridden EU-USA economies wallowing in stagnation.


read the entire article

Thursday 8 December 2011

Osawatomie - A Message From President Obama's Campaign Manager

(Jim, I appreciate your e-mails as always. I don't always have time to pass them along to my friends and acquaintances, but this one is so important that I took the time to post it here - and I've added a few clarifications of my own as my contribution to the campaign.)

Friend --

If you didn't catch any of the President's speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, you should watch or read it now:

President Obama laid out an approach to rebuilding the economy that will inform every discussion we have with undecided voters over the next year. So we put together a highlight reel you can share with anyone you think needs to hear this message:

This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class. And we need to make sure that what is left of the middle class believes that we are acting in their interests.

Our country is still recovering from the greatest economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression - to which the Bush Jr. administration, with the President's approving vote, contributed by giving trillions of dollars of your money to banks. And when he took office the President put more or less the same people responsible for the financial crisis, the beneficiaries of that unprecedented transfer of public funds to the private sector, in charge of the Treasury Department.

Oh, he believes that Americans should be able to earn enough to raise a family, send their kids to school, own a home, and secure their retirement - so long as in struggling harder and harder to achieve those things, they continue to let the private sector drain off the products of their labor.

Here's how he put it: "This country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. These aren't Democratic values or Republican values. These aren't 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They're American values. And we have to reclaim them."

Those are the values we want you to believe we're fighting for in this election. And believe me, no matter who our opponent is, he or she won't fight for them any more than we will -- the candidates from both sides want to let Wall Street write its own rules and keep the country's wealth - the wealth all of you create by working and by spending - concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite, the millionaires and billionaires. And as anyone who understands these things the way we do knows, we must continue to concentrate that wealth. That is simply how the system works.

We've seen how that kind of economic plan plays out. We Democrats have been part of the problem. We've participated in the plan all along. We're just a bit more clever than the Republicans are at portraying ourselves as politicians who have the interests of working people at heart. As President Obama said yesterday: "It doesn't work. It has never worked. It didn't work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression ... And it didn't work when we tried it during the last decade."

That's the message we'll need to drive home in our communities over the next several months - that the "other side," our "opponents," are responsible for the war against the "middle class." Keep harping on that idea of the "middle class," and try to keep people's attention away from the fact that what was the largest and most comfortable middle class in history is quickly becoming what history has destined it to be: an impoverished class living on the edge of dispossession and willing to do almost anything to survive. That is how the system works.

Because just as surely, as the President said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, as we will never be able to end war in anyone's lifetime, we will never be able to end domination and the poverty and suffering it brings. But what we can do is to try to put a kindler, gentler face on it.

So join us. Help us cover up the contradictions of our position: Ignore the fact that with the wealth you allow us to accumulate, we continue to extend the most destructive military-diplomatic machine the world has ever seen, and that the domination of which that machine is the instrument is depriving people just like you all over the planet of the opportunity to earn enough to raise a family, send their kids to school, own a home, and so on. There is just no other way. Join us. Do it for yourselves, but also for your families, your children, and their children... Watch the video we put together -- and pass it along:


*** *******
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

Tuesday 6 December 2011

World War III

World War III: The Launching of a Preemptive Nuclear War against Iran

by Michel Chossudovsky
on Global Research

In an earlier post here, I mentioned that there seems to a blind spot among otherwise highly aware Occupy activists and sympathizers about what used to be called the "military-industrial complex." As I mentioned, people I run into and have fruitful, inspiring talks with often take the attitude that "oh, all that stuff about the US trying to dominate the world is just conspiracy theory." If you read Michel Chossudovsky's article and use it as a starting point for some research, you'll start to realize that the "conspiracy theory" is not something put together with a few facts, a taste for shadowy plots, and a large dose of old-time pacifism; in fact such ideas as, for example, using mini-nuclear warheads as "bunker busters" against probably nonexistent superhardened underground palaces built by Muammar Ghaddafi are not the stuff of paranoid fantasy. They have been actively, clearheadedly, and minutely planned, and such equally insane ideas are now being actively, clearheadedly, and minutely planned - this time against Iran. And have been minutely, clearheadedly, and actively planned more or less continuously since before Hiroshima, through the Korean War and the Cold War and Vietnam and the War on Instability and the War on Terror.

Read Chossudovsky's piece and, as I say, do your research. Separate the wheat from the chaff. Think the whole thing over, and then ask yourself the old question: cui bono? Who has more to gain? The defense contractors and the generals and colonels who enter and exit the revolving doors between the Pentagon, the boardrooms, the media studios, and the halls of Congress like the figures in one of the astronomical clocks found in Europe's cathedrals (such figures as Death, the Fool - smiling at the flower in his hand as he steps into the abyss - and so on)? Or we old-fashioned, well-intentioned-but-naif, and slightly paranoid pacifists?

Dr. Chossudovsky has a message for us in the second half of his piece:

The antiwar movement is in crisis: civil society organizations are misinformed, manipulated or co-opted.  A large segment of "progressive" opinion is supportive of NATO's  R2P "humanitarian"  mandate to extent that these war plans are being carried out with the "rubber stamp" of civil society.  

There is a definite need to rebuild the antiwar movement on entirely new premises.

The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well organized grassroots antiwar network, across the land, nationally and internationally, which challenges the structures of power and authority. People must mobilize not only against the military agenda; the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.

Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled: “We must fight against evil in all its forms as a means to preserving the Western way of life.”

Breaking the "big lie" which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

Now allow me to paraphrase slightly one of his sentences:

"A broad and well organized grassroots anti-Wall Street network, across the land, nationally and internationally, which challenges the structures of power and authority. People must mobilize not only against the financial agenda; the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.

Now let me suggest that  "military-industrial complex" should be amended to "military-financial complex" as a means of making it clearer that the economy of the United States is fundamentally a war economy and that what Chossudovsky calls the "profit-driven military agenda" is inextricable from the issue of finance and banking and their control over the political process.

Let me end by quoting from an edited version of the seminal Declaration of the Occupation of New York City that I saw somewhere:

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have participated in maintaining a war economy and a global military presence in order to ensure access to resources, including cheap labor, thus perpetuating colonialism at home and abroad, supporting repressive regimes and overthrowing legitimate governments, thus participating in the repression of free speech and the imprisonment, torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.

I say to all of you, anti-war activists and Occupiers, as the drums of war again beat and the US and its allies prepare once again to pervert the sacred legacy of the United Nations for the perpetuation of the business of global militarism, that we are fighting the same battle.

Friday 2 December 2011

Two Indignados Arrested at the camp in Nantes - 30 November 2011

Press Release - Arrests in Nantes 12/01/11

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Cold War II

New post on Stop NATO

Hypersonic Missiles: Who Is The Target?

by richardrozoff

Voice of Russia
November 28, 2011

Hypersonic missile: who is the target?
John Robles

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global


The first thing that is on everybody’s minds is President Medvedev’s statement regarding NATO. Why at this late date exactly, at this juncture?

In a rather alarming manner we’ve seen an expanding recruitment for the U.S. missile system in Europe, through the mechanism of NATO, in the last couple of months where, in addition to the countries where we know there are going to be US interceptor missiles stationed, the deployment of a Forward-Based X-Band Radar facility in Turkey has been confirmed.

We’ve also seen the recruitment of nations like Spain, the Netherlands and others into what the White House and the Pentagon refer to as the European Phased Adaptive Approach missile system, one that is going to proceed in four phases, the third and fourth phases with the introduction of very advanced-stage Standard Missile-3 land-based interceptors, with the understanding that these can be employed not strictly for defensive purposes but to target all Russian strategic deterrent forces and capabilities in Europe.

Recently, the U.S. and NATO conducted tests for their new hypersonic missile. Could you tell the listeners a little bit about that?

Earlier this month, the US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) did just that. It’s actually an interdepartmental weapon system, its part of what’s called Conventional Prompt Global Strike, or sometimes simply Prompt Global Strike.

Last year, for example, the Obama administration asked for somewhere in the neighbourhood of a quarter of a billion dollars for this year to develop the capacity. It’s meant to deliver conventional weapon attacks to any site on the planet within no more than 60 minutes. And what happened earlier this month was that the U.S. Army tested the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), which traveled an estimated 7,400 km/h, which is over six times the speed of sound.

In August, an unsuccessful test of an AHW-related component was to have traveled at 27,000 km/h, which is over MACH 20 – that is 20 times the speed of sound. To be hypersonic one has to exceed MACH 5, or five times the speed of sound.

The day before President Medvedev’s statement about moving mobile ISKANDER missiles into the Kaliningrad District, but also potentially into Belarus and into the southern Krasnodar region, which would be closer to US missiles in Romania and to the NATO radar facility in Turkey, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov mentioned that Russia’s new air-defense systems are capable of intercepting any kind of missiles, including U.S. interceptor missiles but also, he explicitly mentioned, hypersonic weapons.

He said that explicitly? Hypersonic?

Yes, he said it specifically in reference to the test that had been conducted a week earlier by the U.S.

You mentioned earlier this was a part of the Prompt Global Strike system? Is this a first-strike system?

I’ll read you a comment that was made a couple of years ago by a person who is now retired, then-Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Cartwright, who stated that the proclaimed intent of the Prompt Global Strike program was to deliver strikes by conventional missiles or heavy bombers – long-range bombers – anywhere on the face of the Earth within an hour.

Marine General James Cartwright stated: “At the high end, strikes could be delivered in 300 milliseconds,” which is a fraction of a second.

There was also a comment by another person who is now retired, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense William Lynn, who stated roughly the same thing a year and a half ago. He said: “The next air warfare priority for the Pentagon is developing a next-generation, deep-penetrating strike capability that can overcome air defenses,” meaning again that a first-strike capability or part of a general first-strike capability that would permit the US to strike fast, deep and undetected presumably into the interior of countries that have advanced air defense systems. I can only think of three countries that would match that description – Iran, to a lesser extent, and Russia and China, to a greater.

How would this all tie in with the Cyber Warfare Center that’s been active recently in Estonia?

Yes, in 2008, NATO set up one of what they call, what NATO calls, a Center of Excellence, a Cyber Defense Centre in the capital of Estonia, in reaction to cyber attacks, real or alleged.

So we have three components being integrated, one of them being the so-called global missile shield. But, first of all, there is no real assurance that the missiles in fact pack a non-explosive warhead. They are supposed to be what are called kinetic or hit-to-kill missiles, but at any time that the U.S. chooses I suspect it can put a strategic warhead on one of these missiles after they are deployed in Poland or Romania and no one would be the wiser.

We know that the momentous statement by President Medvedev on Wednesday cited the fact that Russia was not consulted about anything. In his own words, the U.S. rather blithely announces developments after the fact or rather the president or defense minister of Russia have to read in Western newspapers information concerning U.S. plans to deploy, under NATO auspices, 48 Standard Missile-3 interceptors in Romania and Poland, 24 each, and, as he put it, it’s presented to Russia as an accomplished fact.

With that lack of consultation, with that lack of openness, transparency, one would be justified in fearing the ultimate purpose of U.S. missiles in nations like Poland and Romania or ship-based versions of Standard Missile-3 interceptors that will be deployed in the Baltic Sea and may well find their way into the Barents, Norwegian and Black Seas.

richardrozoff | November 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

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