|Written by http://www.daily.pk|
|Saturday, 18 October 2008 02:20|
|In Pakistan, a weak government and a blind parliament are leading a nuclear-armed nation behind George W. Bush’s policy of self-destruction.
1. The U.S. wants Pakistan to lessen its focus on Kashmir, ignore how India is using Afghan soil to export terrorism to Pakistan, ignore the Indian water blockade of Pakistan, and focus instead on firmly toeing the U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Basically Washington wants us to protect their back while they refuse to commit to protecting the back of their Pakistani ally. [SEE PRESIDENT ZARDARI’S RECENT INTERACTIONS WITH U.S. OFFICIALS AND PM GILANI’S MEETINGS IN WASHINGTON IN EARLY AUG. 2008, and the U.S. media reports and leaks surrounding these two visits].
2. In order to sell Pakistanis Bush administration’s new policy line that Pakistan should ‘own’ America’s war on terror, the government of President Asif Zardari called a joint session of Parliament in Islamabad that lasted for almost a week in the hope that the politicians from all parties will endorse Washington’s desire to expand the war into Pakistan. The briefing took place in the week ending Oct. 17, 2008.
3. To rope in the Pakistani military, Mr. Zardari’s government invited the army to open the briefing. The military did send a senior officer to give a presentation that was limited to operational issues. But the briefing was not that of a military given to politicians. It was a briefing by a PPP-led government, reflecting PPP policies, which are very close to the U.S. position. Evidence:
3.1 Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the religious JUI-F party, a coalition partner of the PPP government, issued a statement 0n Oct. 15 saying that his party sees the briefing as PPP’s own and that it does not reflect the view of all the coalition parties.
3.2 President Zardari’s statement to a Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens saying India is not a threat to Pakistan and that Kashmiri freedom fighters are terrorists. He also failed to raise the question of India blocking Chenab water. [Times of India published a commentary titled Why Zardari said what America wanted to hear, Oct. 12, where the author says, “Is there any rational explanation for what Zardari definitely told the Wall Street Journal--that those who had picked up the gun and bomb in Kashmir were terrorists, and that India has never been a threat to Pakistan?”]
3.3 The sudden emergence of expensive newspaper and TV advertisement on Pakistani channels and newspapers with the message that America’s war in Afghanistan is ‘Pakistan’s own’. It is not clear who is paying for these ads and who they represent.
3.4 Another evidence that this was a partisan, one-sided briefing is how Indian-occupied Kashmir was shown as part of India in a map during Information Minister Sherry Rehman’s briefing on Oct. 14, 2008. The same day, the Pakistani military distanced itself from the briefing and DG ISPR told The News in a report that the military’s briefing was restricted to the first round and had nothing to do with the Minister’s briefing. The spokesman also said that the military followed the government policy.
4. There is no question that the military cannot take the lead in making public some harsh truths if the PPP government is not prepared to own the consequences, especially regarding the role of some of our allies in fostering secessionism and terrorism inside Pakistan.
5. In his briefing, DG ISI/ex-DGMO alluded to weapons and support to militants inside Pakistan coming from Afghanistan. This implicates a country whose President was invited as a guest of honor when President Zardari was sworn in. How is the PPP government dealing with this challenge? Has it taken up this matter with Kabul and Washington?
6. On 5 Aug., 2008, Geo journalist Kamran Khan reported the following both on his TV show and on the front page of The News: “Impeccable official sources have said that strong evidence and circumstantial evidence of American acquiescence to terrorism inside Pakistan was outlined by President Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Director General Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj in their separate meetings with US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and CIA Deputy Director Stephen R Kappes on July 12 in Rawalpindi.” QUESTION: Did President Zardari or Prime Minister Gilani or the Defense Minister or the Foreign Minister raise this urgent question of our national security when all of them visited Washington in the period between August and September 2008?
7. How come the government’s briefing failed to address what Interior Advisor Rehman Malik told a private TV channel in an interview on July 24, 2008, reported by Pak Tribune news site and I quote: “The Prime Minister’s advisor to Interior Rehman Malik has said that India was supporting the terrorist elements like Bramdagh Bugti in Pakistan, and evidences in this connection will be soon presented.”?
8. How does Rehman Malik’s statement of July 24, 2008 match with President Zardari’s statement of Oct. 4 in the Wall Street Journal where he said “India is not and has never been a threat” to Pakistan?
9. U.S. military’s Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said in a TV interview on Oct. 11, 2008, that U.S. is considering changing its Afghanistan strategy to include India, possibly allowing Indian soldiers to jointly patrol the Pak-Afghan border. This is a serious issue. Why is it that the PPP government kept quiet on it and the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister have not responded to the U.S. official? What is the government policy on Adm. Mullen’s statement?
10. The PPP government wants Pakistanis to make America’s war on terror our own. QUESTION: Is eliminating the Afghan resistance part of our responsibility? Or is our responsibility limited to eliminating the militants who are fighting us on our own territory? What if the coalition fails in political reconciliation inside Afghanistan, leading Afghans to take up arms? Would fighting the entire Afghan population inside Afghanistan be our responsibility too?
11. Why did the PPP government not give the Parliament and the nation the bigger picture: How Washington is drastically changing the strategic outlook in the region in a way that is detrimental to Pakistani interest? There was no discussion about American plans to formalize an expanded Indian intelligence and military presence in Afghanistan, the effort to cut Pakistan’s ability to influence the future of Kashmir, the near-total Indian control over our waters, or the efforts to reduce Pakistan’s ability to protest Indian involvement in future joint patrols of Pak-Afghan border, which is also on the cards.
Eight years to 9/11, Pakistan’s parliament was expected to retake the initiative, declare that Pakistan will not help United States crush the Afghan resistance, which flourishes due to the blunders of U.S. military and the inept regime of Hamid Karzai, declare Baitullah Mehsud and others of his ilk ‘most wanted terrorists’, expose their links to foreign spy agencies so that all Pakistanis recognize their enemy. Instead, we have a government whose leader, President Asif Zardari, declares in Washington that President Bush has made the world a safer place, and then returns to Pakistan to tell Pakistanis that America’s lost war in Afghanistan ‘is our own.’ Ahmed Quraishi
Posted October 24, 2008
Source close to Tzipi Livni, the new head of Israel’s ruling Kadima Party, accused the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party of having “deceived the entire country” in the wake of today’s announcement that they would not be joining a new coalition government headed by the would-be Prime Minister Livni.
Livni said yesterday that she would call for new elections if a coalition deal was not completed by Sunday. A Livni associate said that through last night, Shas had given the impression that they were close to approving a deal that would have made that possible. Kadima is reportedly investigating a coalition without Shas, but with only two days left before her deadline the election seems increasingly more likely.
If the election does happen, polls suggest that Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party would gain significantly, and could be returned to power. Israeli media suggests that a renewed alliance between Netanyahu and Shas may have played a role in the decision.
Netanyahu is considerably more hawkish than Livni. He has called for attacking Iran, claiming the nation is unique in the world in being completely immune to deterrence. He has also vowed to resume settlement building if he retakes the prime ministry, and has publicly condemned the Gaza ceasefire and peace talks with Syria.
Represented by literally hundreds of small denominations and churches today, particularly in America, Christian Zionism is today a formidable force and a major actor in global politics.
Christian Zionism comes in various shades, but the core of its message is total, unflinching support to the state of Israel and the Zionist imperialist project.
Christian Zionists today exercise an enormous clout in the Bush administration. Bush, too, may himself be characterised in some sense as a Christian Zionist, for his policies in the Middle East and elsewhere clearly reflect or tally with the Christian Zionist agenda.
War, conquest and imperialist domination, based on a fanatic insistence on the absolute truth of Christianity and the racial superiority of the Jews lie at the very heart of Christian Zionism.
Christian Zionists believe that the Jews are God’s ‘Chosen People’ and that God has given the Jews the absolute right to complete control over not just Palestine but, indeed, a vast stretch of territory, extending from present-day Egypt to Iraq, the so-called ‘Greater Israel’.
God, they claim, has selected the Jews above all other people. Hence, they insist, those who oppose the imperialist project of the advocates of ‘Greater Israel’ or the Zionist occupation of Palestine are ‘God’s enemies’, deserving to be crushed by every available means, including outright war and decimation.
Advocating Israel does not mean, however, that Christian Zionists accept Judaism as a legitimate means of salvation after Jesus. Nor does it translate into genuine love for the Jews, a departure from the traditional teachings of the Church that, for centuries, viewed Jews as ‘Christ-killers’.
Since Christian Zionists believe that Christianity is the only religion acceptable to God, and that, as the Bible claims, salvation is possible only through Jesus, they insist that Jews cannot be ‘saved’ unless they convert to Christianity.
Yet, because Christian Zionists are dogged defenders of the state of Israel and are fiercely anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, they have been able to establish a close nexus with right-wing Jewish groups and with the Israeli state and are today an integral part of the American-Israeli axis.
Christian Zionism is a call for global war. The belief that Christianity is the sole truth, that all other faiths are ‘Satanic’ or ‘false’, that the Jews must all gather in Palestine to fulfil so-called Biblical prophecies, and that a grand global war will soon erupt leading to the massacre of hundreds of millions and heralding the ‘second coming’ of Jesus, who will establish his Christian kingdom extending till the four corners of the world, clearly indicate the hate-driven, global expansionist project of Christian Zionism.
John Hagee is a prime example of a Christian Zionist zealot. He is the founder and pastor of the Cornerstone Church, in Texas, USA, which claims some 16,000 members. As with numerous other similar American Christian fundamentalist preachers, his church is richly endowed and media savvy.
Hagee is the president of the ‘Global Evangelism’ media company that broadcasts his daily programmes on television and radio throughout the USA and around the world. He is the author of numerous books on Christian Zionism, some of which have been reprinted by Christian fundamentalist publishers abroad as well.
‘Final Dawn Over Jerusalem’ is one of Hagee’s major writings on Christian Zionism that well exemplifies the imperialist agenda that lies at its very core.
The aim of the book is to defend the Israeli occupation of Palestine, to denounce those who seek to protest Israeli atrocities, and to advocate the cause of ‘Greater Israel’, all this in the name of Christianity and premised on the notion of the Jews as being allegedly God’s ‘Chosen People’.
Racism is integral to the Christian Zionist message, as Hagee makes amply clear. The Bible, Hagee, says, describes the Jews as ‘the apple of God’s eye’ [Zech 2:8].
He quotes the Bible as addressing the Jews and declaring, ‘For you are a holy people to the LORD your God’ and ‘the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth’ [Deut.14:2].
This means, so Hagee argues, that those who harm the Jews or the state of Israel or stand in the way of the design of ‘Greater Israel’ will ‘experience the instant wrath of God’. To those who dare to challenge the oppressive Zionist state, Hagee announces, ‘The man or nation that lifts a voice or hand against Israel invites the wrath of God’.
Such people will, Hagee insists, be ‘cursed’ by God. Hagee’s notion of God thus appears to be that of a tribal Jewish deity, who functions as a willing tool in the pursuit of Jewish expansionism.
The Bible was written by Jewish hands, and given that, as many liberal Christians would themselves concede, much of it is a human product, numerous Biblical verses were written in order to legitimise the interests of the community from which its writers were drawn.
This would seem obvious to any discerning layman, but Biblical literalists like Hagee vehemently disagree.
For them every word of the Bible is sacrosanct and divine. Biblical literalism is pressed into the service of the Christian Zionist imperialist and racist agenda. Drawing upon numerous verses of the Bible, Hagee argues, ‘God watches over Israel as a protective parent hovers over an only child’.
The nation of Israel’, he makes so bold as to declare, ‘was created by a sovereign act of God. All other nations were created by an act of war or a declaration of men, but Israel was intentionally created by God so that He would have a physical place of inheritance on the earth’.
Accordingly, Hagee would have us believe that for this god, who is seen as in need of a ‘physical place’ for himself, non-Jews or Gentiles, are second-rate human beings or less, and so can easily be dispensed with if they are seen as coming in the way of Jewish imperialism.
The tribal Jewish version of God that Hagee presents appears entirely unjust and arbitrary, far from being impartial in the way he deals with His creation. Given the fact that the God of the Biblical literalist imagination is a Jewish deity, and not the universal God who looks upon His entire creation impartially, he is seen as blessing Jewish conquests of territories of their enemies.
Thus, quoting the Bible, Hagee writes that God gave the land of ‘Greater Israel’, a vast swathe of land stretching from Egypt all the way till Iraq, to the Jews, descendants of Isaac, forever.
That being the case, Hagee suggests that people living in those territories, millions of Arabs, both Muslims and Christians, have no right to live there or else must accept to live under Jewish rule. Although Hagee does not say this explicitly, what this means is that those who refuse to accept Jewish rule must, therefore, be either killed or expelled.
The god of Hagee’s imagination appears as an entirely whimsical real estate agent. ‘God established Israel’s national geographic boundaries’, Hagee writes. ‘The exact borders of Israel are detailed in Scripture just as our heavenly Father dictated them’, he goes on, adding, ‘The divine Surveyor drove the original stakes into Judean soil and decreed that no one should ever change these property lines.
The real estate contract and lands covenants were signed in blood and stand to this very hour’. Hence, he argues, ‘Jews have the absolute right as mandated by God to the land of Israel and, more specifically, to the city of Jerusalem’.
Hence, he suggests, Palestinians have no claim to their own historical land, and must make way for Jewish occupiers.
Hagee’s defence of Zionist imperialism goes to ridiculous lengths. Laughable as this may sound, he argues, ‘Israel has a Spy in the sky’—God Himself. God, he claims, provides Israel, the Jewish people and the state of Israel, with special protection.
‘No nation in the world can match the defensive force guarding the State of Israel. The archangel Michael has a special assignment to guard Israel’. And those who, for any reason oppose Israel, and this includes Palestinians fighting Israeli occupation and oppression, are said to incur God’s wrath.
‘The Lord stands watch in the darkest night with an eye trained on the nation of Israel and, more specifically, Jerusalem. Those who fight with Israel fight with Him’, Hagee asserts.
So central is Israel to Hagee’s tribalistic version of God that he goes to the extent of arguing that the fate of each and every person on the face of the planet depends essentially on his or her attitude to the Jews.
‘Prosperity or punishment depends on how we treat Israel’, he alleges, because, he claims, the Jews, as descendants of Abraham ‘enjoy heavenly favour’.
To back his claim he quotes the Bible as saying that when God entered into a covenant with Abraham, He gave him an ‘awesome promise’, saying, ‘I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’ [Gen. 12:3].
Hence, Hagee insists, the United States, and, indeed, anyone else who wishes to please God, must consistently engage in ‘compassionate support of the State of Israel’, adding that, ‘The quickest and most effective way to be on God’s side is to stand with the State of Israel and the Jewish people in their hour of need’.
By doing this, he claims, one can win God’s favour, because, ‘God blesses the man or nation that blesses Israel or the Jewish people’.
At no time before, Hagee firmly believes, has support for Israel and Zionist imperialism, been more crucial than today. This is because, he claims, Jesus is returning to the world soon, and Israel must be protected in order to welcome the Messiah.
Hagee’s image of Jesus in his ‘second coming’ bears no resemblance to the familiar notion of the suffering, loving Jesus. Rather, in his description Jesus appears as a fierce warrior, rallying Christians to arms and heralding the final, global war, ironically in the name of the ‘Prince of Peace’.
In the doomsday scenario that Hagee outlines, what he calls ‘fanatical attacks’ by Arabs on Israel, particularly Jerusalem, would mount.
In response, Christians the world over, he says, must rally behind Israel. At this hour, he insists, ‘we must let the world know that if a line has to be drawn, it will be drawn around Christians as well as Jews. We are united and indivisible’.
The city of Jersualem, Hagee believes, is the crux of the final battle before Jesus’ ‘second coming’. This city, considered sacred by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, has been ordained, so Hagee argues, by God to be ‘under the exclusive control of the Jewish people’ until Jesus arrives again.
The final battle of Armageddon will, he writes, be centred on this city, with Arabs or Muslims seeking to wrest control of it from the Jews. In this regard, Hagee says, Christians, for their part, must staunchly defend Israel and must refuse any peace offers, such as allowing for a shared Jerusalem or joint control of the town by Jews and Arabs.
In particular, he appeals to the United States to do everything in its power to back Israel and to crush its opponents, claiming this is the only way to win God’s favour. If America fails to do this, he warns, it would be crushed by God Himself!
Quoting various verses of the Bible, Hagee describes what he sees as the unfolding of events of cosmic proportions, ushering in a global war the like of which has never been witnessed hitherto and heralding the ‘second coming of Jesus’.
In this global war, he says, Muslims, whom he regards as followers of a ‘false’ religion, would ally with the Russians to fight against Israel. This would lead to a global nuclear war, with hundreds of millions being killed. At this point, the ‘Anti-Christ’ will appear, attack Jerusalem and will take over the reigns of the world, falsely claiming to usher in peace.
But, this grand deception will not last long, and, instead, will only lead to even more devastating wars. At this time, Hagee says, Christians must defend, by every means possible, the Jews and Israel, and wage war against the armies of those opposed to God’s ‘Chosen Race’, the Jews. Only then can they be saved, he insists.
After years of global war and terrible destruction, Hagee writes, Jesus will be sent by God to deliver the world. Mounted on a white horse, he will arrive at the battlefield at Armageddon. Defeating the ‘Anti-Christ’ and his army, he will establish his global kingdom with his capital in Jerusalem, there to ‘rule and reign forever’.
Hagee’s description of Jesus’ future global kingdom offers little cause to cheer for non-Christians, including, ironically, even the Jews whom he so ardently defends. It would, as he himself makes clear, be nothing short of a global Christian empire, and an antiquated one at that, with kings and queens and presidents still in place!
How they would continue to be around when Jesus rules the whole world is a mystery that Hagee leaves unsolved.
Ruled by Jesus, Hagee writes, ‘Jerusalem, the apple of God’s eye, will become the joy of the world. The city will become the international worship center, and people from all over the world will make pilgrimages to worship in the holy temple.
Kings, queens, princes and presidents shall come to the Holy City’ to adore Jesus. Presumably, these all will be Christians themselves, for Hagee quotes the Bible as predicting that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’.
As Hagee’s book clearly indicates, Christian Zionism, rooted in tradition of the Crusades and a long history of Church triumphalism, is a recipe for global war and Christian imperialism.
Moreover, it reflects a total lack of genuine spirituality, seeking to reduce the notion of God into a petty, whimsical and racist dictator who willingly urges the slaughter of innocents in order to protect the expansionist designs of his supposedly ‘Chosen People’.
Of course, Christian Zionism is hardly unique in its use of religion for such blatantly political ends, but given the immense clout enjoyed by its advocates today, especially in America, it is a much more menacing threat to world peace than is sometimes imagined and cannot be simply dismissed as the ravings of lunatics on the fringe.
Dr. Yoginder Sikand writes in Mukto-Mona from Bangalore. Yoginder Sikand did his MPhil in sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and his PhD in history from the University of London; he is the author of several books including Sacred Spaces: Exploring Traditions of Shared Faith in India (Penguin, 2003) and Muslims in India Since 1947: Islamic Perspectives on Inter-Faith Relations (Routledge Curzon, 2004). etc.
US-MADE SECOND ATTEMPT AT PALESTINIAN CIVIL WAR GETS UNDERWAY
Posted: 25 October 2008 1812 hrs
HEBRON, West Bank: More than 500 Palestinian security reinforcements were deployed in the southern West Bank town of Hebron on Saturday as part of a widening crackdown in the occupied territory, officials said.
Around 500 Palestinian security forces took up positions before dawn in the flashpoint town without incident, Hebron police chief Samih al-Saifi told AFP.
An Israeli security official confirmed the deployment and said it had taken place with the coordination of the Israeli army.
“Five hundred and fifty extra armed police were deployed in Hebron in coordination with the Israeli army to strengthen the Palestinian Authority in its fight against Hamas,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Israel has long feared a repeat in the West Bank of the Islamist movement’s takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, when it routed forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in a week of bloody battles.
The latest deployment is part of a widening crackdown that has seen hundreds of Palestinian security forces deployed in the northern West Bank towns of Jenin and Nablus, both of which were once militant strongholds.
It is also aimed at underpinning the US-backed Middle East peace process which was formally relaunched nearly a year ago with the aim of creating a Palestinian state – talks which have thus far made little visible progress.
The Palestinians have not said publicly that the security plan is directed at Hamas, and Saifi would only say that the troops in Hebron were there to “provide order and security in the town”.
In recent months, however, Palestinian forces have arrested dozens of members of the Islamist group, shuttered several of its charities and organisations, and confiscated weapons and explosives.
A Hamas spokesman in Gaza condemned the Hebron deployment, saying it “served the Zionist enemy” by targeting the Islamist movement.
“Their role is to curtail Hamas and take aim at the weapons of the resistance, not to enforce the law or protect citizens,” he told AFP.
The conflict between Hamas and Abbas’s secular Fatah movement could worsen in the coming months with the two groups divided on when Abbas’s presidential term expires.
Hamas has said his constitutionally mandated four-year term ends in January, while Abbas’s supporters have said new presidential and parliamentary elections should be held together in January 2010.
With more than 160,000 Palestinian residents, Hebron is the largest town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and has long been a flashpoint in the Middle East conflict because of a settlement of around 800 hardline Jews in the heart of the town.
Settlers and Palestinians have frequently clashed near a tomb in the Old City believed to hold the remains of the biblical patriarch Abraham, a site revered by Jews and Muslims.
In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a US-born Jewish settler, opened fire on Muslims praying inside the Ibrahimi mosque built on the site of the tomb, killing 29 Palestinians, including several women and children.
The settlement and the religious site are guarded by hundreds of Israeli soldiers who will remain in Hebron, despite the deployment of the additional Palestinian forces.
Israel has said its force will continue to operate in all parts of the West Bank to prevent attacks on its citizens and West Bank settlers.
• Parliament vows to end military action on border
• Relations with US will be strained by new strategy
Serious doubts multiplied yesterday about Pakistan‘s commitment to America‘s military campaign against al-Qaida and the Taliban after parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for dialogue with extremist groups and an end to military action.
The new strategy, backed by all parties, emerged after a fierce debate in parliament where most parliamentarians said that Pakistan was paying an unacceptable price for fighting “America’s war”. If implemented by the government, support for Pakistan from international allies would come under severe strain, adding further instability to a country facing a spiral of violence and economic collapse.
“We need to prioritise our own national security interests,” said Raza Rabbani, a leading member of the ruling Pakistan People’s party. “As far as the US is concerned, the message that has gone with this resolution will definitely ring alarm bells, vis-a-vis their policy of bulldozing Pakistan.”
The resolution, passed unanimously in parliament on Wednesday night demanded the abandonment of the use of force against extremists, in favour of negotiation, in what it called “an urgent review of our national security strategy”.
“Dialogue must now be the highest priority, as a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution,” said the resolution. “The military will be replaced as early as possible by civilian law enforcement agencies.” It also said Pakistan would pursue “an independent foreign policy” and, in a pointed reference to US military incursions into Pakistani territory, proclaimed that “the nation stands united against any incursions and invasions of the homeland, and calls upon the government to deal with it effectively”.
The force of the resolution was unclear last night, with differences in interpretation between the ruling People’s party and opposition. The document is not binding on the government even though it was party to it. The army remains the ultimate arbiter of security policy. Some analysts believe that differences between the parties will see a tussle over implementation that could temper the resolution’s thrust. The US response was muted, with officials saying they considered it rhetoric for domestic consumption.
But the intense American pressure on Islamabad to take on the militants was underlined yesterday by another US missile strike inside Pakistani territory, an instance of the heavy-handed intervention that parliament railed against. The attack came in Pakistan’s border area with Afghanistan, at an Islamic school being used by suspected extremists, killing 11. The madrasa was linked to Afghan Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who has an extensive network in Pakistan.
There have been about a dozen US missile strikes inside Pakistan since the beginning of September and a ground assault, fanning widespread anti-Americanism in the country. The US and Nato depend on Pakistan to prevent its tribal area being used as a safe haven for Afghan Taliban.
Past attempts by Pakistan at making peace with militant groups in the tribal area have allowed them to regroup and led to a sharp increase in cross-border attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Yesterday a US official made clear what it expected. “Pakistan needs to and is attacking insurgents in its northern areas,” Patrick Moon, a deputy US assistant secretary of state, said during a visit to Kabul. “Sanctuaries for Afghanistan Taliban in Pakistan complicate our security operations. Pakistani Taliban and other extremists such as al-Qaida are posing a threat to the stability of Pakistan.”
Pakistan is confronting multiple crises, political, security and financial, which threaten to overwhelm the nuclear-armed country and push it into chaos. It is heading towards bankruptcy, forcing Islamabad this week to approach to the International Monetary Fund for a rescue package. But the IMF bailout could be jeopardised if Washington is not on board.
Ordinary people complain that the country feels like it is falling apart, with a severe shortage of electricity causing blackouts of 12 hours or more in many areas, and crippling food price inflation, running at up to 100%, swelling the numbers living below the poverty line.
The country’s north-west, especially its tribal border area with Afghanistan, is under the control of Taliban and al-Qaida, who are connected to militant groups that have networks across the country. Yesterday, in what is now a typical day for Pakistan, aside from the US missile strike, eight anti-Taliban tribal leaders were killed by militants in the Orakzai part of the tribal area, and the army killed 20 fighters in Bajaur, another part of the tribal belt.
In Swat, a valley in the north-west, the headless body was found of a policeman, previously kidnapped by Taliban, and posters went up in Swat warning women against shopping in markets, saying it was “unIslamic”.
“Our country is burning,” said Senator Khurshid Ahmad, a member of Pakistan’s upper house of parliament for Jamaat-e-Islami, a mainstream religious party. “We don’t want Bush to put oil on the fire. We want to extinguish this fire.”
Sherry Rehman, minister for information, said the motion was a “firm resolve to combat terrorism”. But Talat Masood, a retired general and security analyst, said: “The army will be disappointed there was not a clear consensus. I think the army will continue with the existing policy.”
Chicagoans Against Apartheid in Palestine are organizing a major protest of the AIPAC “National Summit” in Chicago. Second only to AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference in DC each Spring, the Summit is one AIPAC’s largest events. Taking place October 26 and 27th, it is for “elite activists” in the pro-war lobby, and is likely to feature luminaries from Congress and the Bush administration (and no doubt, representatives from the religious extreme-right). We could not be happier then to report that Chicagoans Against Apartheid in Palestine are drawing up plans to protest this celebration of war and occupation. Go to their website for more info (or check out the StopAIPAC site). Stop AIPAC has helped in that protest by sending 4,000 promotional postcards that have already been distributed in the last couple weeks.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, we are again planning to protest at the annual AIPAC dinners that come our way. This time we are likely to focus our protest at the San Francisco dinner taking place on the early evening of December 9th (mark your calendar!) at the Hilton Hotel just above Union Square. During the holiday season, this area is packed with people, so this will be an unforgettable protest for a new foreign policy of peace and justice that people demand, and a repudiation of the politics of war that is AIPAC’s agenda.
We also issue a Call to Action on the Hate DVD Obsession.
Do keep in mind, more opportunities for action to defeat AIPAC’s agenda also mean the need for more funding, so don’t miss the appeal below.
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RETURN TO SENDER!
In the past few months, many of you in “swing states” have found hate in your Sunday paper. Not just the kook that had his letter to the editor printed, but a sophisticated and multi-million dollar campaign that had 28 million pieces of DVD’s that promotes fear and hate against our Muslim neighbors. This is not random hate, but organized hate. A Campaign meant to not only sway an election, but ultimately to promote war.
You can read in detail about the Obsession DVD in this excellent paper by Omid Safi. But more importantly, we want you to
Like this important campaign begun by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) we are requesting that if our supporters receive any such mailing or newspaper insert from the non-profit “Clarion Fund”, that folks send that material to us, and it will be returned to AIPAC when it has its “membership dinner” in San Francisco on December 9th. Why to AIPAC? Because it has been promoting many of the speakers featured in the hate DVD, including Daniel Pipes and many others. It is also likely that the funders of the DVD distribution also are big supporters of AIPAC. Sheldon Adelson, one of the world’s richest men, funds the extremist group “Freedom Watch” is rumored to be behind the funding of the DVD, though it is uncertain. Adelson also funded AIPAC’s new headquarters in DC. The important point is, AIPAC works day after day to promote fear and hate, using the most vile propaganda, promoting its worst proponents, such as Rev. Hagee and Daniel Pipes. What better way to say “We reject this” than by marking this trash “Return to Sender” and publicly renouncing this campaign.
Please send any copies of the DVD (either “Obsession” or “The Third Jihad”) you may receive to Stop AIPAC, PO Box 11311, Berkeley, CA 94712, and we will make sure AIPAC (and the larger community) gets the message: America says no to hate!
See our action page to keep up on developments.
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In Rare Defeat for AIPAC, Iran War Resolution Shelved.
Because you acted, AIPAC’s central priority for this legislative session suffered a quiet death. A campaign that began on June 21st of this year, when Daily Kos (mostly a Democratic Party forum) had a post that won top attention, and inspired much action (with thousands looking to the StopAIPAC webpage for more information). Other websites also caught on, followed by calls by groups such as True Majority and Peace Action. Letters/Emails/Phone Calls immediately began flooding the House, and all of the President’s men, the Lobbyists and their associated PAC’s could not stop it. The outrage grew. And it was good. Politicians backtracked. Politicians demurred. AIPAC pushed harder, but still they lost. And it was very good.
Not only have we placed a very important obstacle in this march toward war, we have also tied this extremist piece of legislation to the AIPAC reputation. When people think of who is promoting military confrontation and these extremist policies in the Middle East, many more will now think of “AIPAC”. It was a “teachable moment”.
There is a fine “Obit” of the 362 Resolution here. There is much more work to be done to prevent war with Iran, including a call for global nuclear disarmament that includes both the US and Israel. We are off to a good start.
by Lynn Berry
(NaturalNews) – The world’s biggest leisure activity is watching television. Not walking or reading, not playing games with our children, not engaging with others in outdoor activities. Most of us like to think that television has absolutely no effect on how we think or what we do. We believe that it is a way to relax. Many of us may be surprised to know that television is a controlling medium, relaxing us enough to switch off our analytical brain (the left side of the brain) so that we uncritically, or unlogically, process the information beaming from the television. This means we are less able to make decisions or judgments about what we hear on television.
Our brains undergo a similar process under hypnosis. The similarity between hypnosis and the effects of watching television is unveiled in Dr Aric Sigman’s book called Remotely Controlled. Sigman describes hypnosis as “an altered state of consciousness”; a form of sleepwalking where our mind is influenced by another (the hypnotist or practitioner).
Under hypnosis we become more open to the suggestions of the practitioner and this happens as we are asked to refrain from being critical and relaxed. As we do this, the frontal lobe in our brain alters becoming less connected with the brain so that we switch off. Hypnosis effectively causes a change in the brain so that we use the right side of our brain. What we switch off is the left side used for critical thinking.
While hypnosis may be considered an extreme or unusual solution to certain conditions, it only takes 30 seconds for us to be in a similar state when we switch on the television. Such were the findings from Professor Herbert Krugman in a study conducted in 1971. His conclusion was that we do not think about the information transmitted via television. In other words the way television communicates is a form of brainwashing.
Left in this state for some time can mean that we become less inventive in problem-solving and less able to concentrate. This suits some environments. In the UK, television is used to keep prisoners quiet. It is regarded as one of the best types of control mechanisms by the General Secretary of the Prison Governors’ Association. Prisoners are subjected to the tranquillising effects of television which subdues behaviour, and the other benefit is that it is a cheap and effective way to do that.
The frontal lobe also alters in the brain when watching television. The frontal lobe is an important part of the brain as it is a management type system ensuring that our self-control, moral judgment and attention is planned, organised and sequenced. The concern is that the frontal lobe may be damaged by watching television and this may happen in childhood because the frontal lobe is in a continual stage of development until around 20 years of age.
When children watch television, the frontal lobe is not doing anything with the result that over a period of time this part of the brain doesn’t develop which can then stunt development. A study in The World Federation of Neurology outlined concerns about the impact of visual electronic media (including television) on children because of stunted frontal lobe development which also impacts on their ability to control antisocial behaviour. Playing and interacting with others is recommended to encourage the fibres in the frontal lobe to develop and thicken and to make stronger connections to neurons.
It is not the information itself that causes the problem, but rather the medium. Somehow we are electrically wired to the television enabling information to be absorbed – any information. The medium induces within us a passive state for communication. If we are unconsciously absorbing information, then what is this information doing to the way we think and act? Of course, the medium is a perfect match for advertisers.
How much are we influenced by the opinions of others presented on TV? Ask how you came by that opinion – was it someone else’s opinion that you’ve unconsciously accepted. Is your view of the latest international news event – consider the Russia vs Georgia crisis – shaped by what you hear? For example, I started to believe what I was hearing regarding this ‘crisis’ (ie that one country was the problem), until I was reminded of the history and other related events. Do you find yourself arguing forcefully about an issue then wondered how, or even why, you had that point of view?
The other aspect of television to consider is the amount of negative information that is transmitted. There are a few stories that are uplifting and empowering. Some groups recommend staying away from television particularly the news because of what they see as it’s potential to negatively impact on enthusiasm, positive thinking, and self esteem. Do an experiment and stop watching television for a few days or a week, then assess how you feel in general. Once you start watching television again, reassess.
While we may look after our physical body, eating well and exercising, we also have a duty to look after our mental body, feeding it with positive stimulation. In a positive environment, we become positive, influencing others to be positive.
Source: ‘Weapons of Mass Induction’ an article in Kindred based on an excerpt of a book by Dr Aric Sigman called Remotely Controlled (Kindred 22: Aug 2007 see http://www.kindredmagazine.com.au)
By Max Kantar
When you go to a foreign country, it is common to bring a translation dictionary to help curb the confusion that comes with trying to understand a foreign language. Likewise, in American politics, we also need a translation guide to understand mainstream discussion given the universal double standards, egotistical national chauvinism, and internalized elite values.
Propaganda in the US rests mostly in what is not said, but rather assumed. Such a system of indoctrination is extremely powerful as it serves the purpose of making certain thoughts not so much undesirable, but unthinkable, strikingly reminiscent of Orwell’s depiction of totalitarian control and manipulation of the English language in his novel, 1984.
The language of US propaganda is indeed a foreign tongue to anyone who takes seriously the factual historical record, the nature of powerful institutions, and fundamental human decency with respect for human rights.
Included here is a list of commonly used terminology in American politics and the mainstream media. The definitions provided are the unspoken, assumed meanings of the terms, which are in fact quite different, sometimes diametrically opposed to their dictionary definitions.
For any serious social and political discussion to materialize, it is imperative that we understand the vocabulary put forth by our cultural managers in order to dismantle the prevailing system of thought control and indoctrination.
US Foreign Policy, Israel, and International relations
: Whatever the US is doing at the time 
Department of Defense:
Department of aggression and acceptable terrorism
: 1) Legitimate resistance to the terror/aggression of the US and its clients, or 2) Terrorism committed by those out of favor with Washington
: Terrorism and aggression carried out by the US and its client states
War on Terrorism
: Any violence the US or its client states use to advance the US agenda of global dominance by stifling independent nationalism, assuring control over natural resources, squashing ‘good examples’ of independent economic development, and creating conditions to benefit foreign (US) investors instead of the populations at hand. Basically the ideological twin and subsequent replacement of the rabid anti-communism of the Cold War.
1) Anybody that the US fights against, 2) People who defend themselves from US attack, and 3) Perpetrators of terrorism whose terror doesn’t serve US power
Privately Contracted Security Forces:
Mercenaries or paid killers unaccountable to the public
“Protecting our way of life”
: A justification for US-based violence and economic exploitation that is driven by a desire to ‘protect’ private concentrated wealth of the richest 1% (‘our’) of the country. “
: Usually refers to an unlawful war policy which has come to cost too much money. It reinforces yet again, the imperial rights of the US to use violence at will in violation of human rights, the public will, and international law.
Blunders, Mismanagement, Mistakes, etc:
Terms used to describe US foreign policy when large sectors of business power and the population turn against [the respective policy]…the implication being clear that US initiatives are by definition, rooted in morality and altruism, despite natural human errors of strategy, not of motives, meaning that US foreign policy “means well.”
To “Spread Democracy”:
To extend US control over a foreign country, usually in an attempt to undermine popular democratic efforts that threaten US political, business, and ideological interests.
“Support the Troops”:
Support our policy of unlawful aggression
“The Surge worked”
: The perceived success of the US escalation of the illegal occupation of Iraq renders our initial/continued illegal aggression legitimate according to this proclamation. Nevertheless, this catchphrase also ignores the actual reasons for the decrease in violence including the non-related cease fire maintained by the Shia resistance, increased segregation through extensive ethnic cleansing, and most importantly, significantly less people to kill as half the country is dead, exiled, displaced, mangled, or in prison. 
Refers to a foreign government that favors the interests of elite foreign (US)
investors instead of the respective population
a foreign leader who follows orders from Washington 
a foreign leader who pursues a course independent from Washington’s orders 
Things that the US supports and that our enemies violate
Weapons of Mass Destruction:
Weapons (sometimes nonexistent ones) that are held by states out of favor with Washington. Notice that the US and its clients by definition do not possess anything or pursue anything that would cause “mass destruction.” Therefore the definition of WMD’s is purely ideological, void of physical facts.
Trade policies that favor the ultra wealthy and trample labor rights, ignore environmental regulations, and prevent independent development for the poor nations involved and prevent meaningful democracy for the populations of both the rich country and the poor country in any given case.
Communist, Marxist, Socialist
(concerning foreign political parties or governments): Governments that pursue independent economic development without concern for foreign investor interests or the neoliberal development model.
A term used to describe the final measure taken by the US resort to lawless violence. In other words, when the Clinton administration noted they would act “unilaterally” if they “must,” they meant that the US will act in violation of the UN and international law if international law and the UN don’t support and conform to US military actions and US will.
(concerning various international opinion): 1) Those who oppose US crimes and exploitative economic policies, and 2) Open supporters of applying the standards of international law universally.
An accusation usually used to deflect criticism of Israel’s ongoing war crimes as cited uncontroversially by the UN, Israeli/Jewish human rights groups, and Amnesty International, all in accordance with the Geneva Conventions on human rights.
Israel’s “Right to Exist”:
Israel’s right to continue outwardly racist policies against its Palestinian-Arab citizens within its borders and Israel’s right to maintain a racist apartheid civil/military system in the Palestinian West Bank, a genocidal siege on the heavily populated Gaza Strip, and an illegal military occupation of both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Hamas ‘Militants’ or ‘Terrorists’:
Anybody Israel kills in the occupied territories
Benevolent instruments of peace for US and client states, tyrannical instruments of genocide when held by everyone else.
Terrorist, usually inherently irrational, violent, and deceitful. A hater of freedom, democracy, Christians, and Jews.
Well, who is NOT an Arab then?:
According to the honorable McCain, “decent, family men” who we may or may not have “disagreements” with. By implication, an Arab then cannot be “decent” or family orientated. For further elaboration, see the above definition.
Domestic Politics: Economic policy and Authority
Wall Street Bailout:
Well, this means exactly what it sounds like, which is why the public was opposed to the whole thing. Publicly funded (we pay) bailouts for wall street, and polite condolences for workers, children, the poor, and the sick.
Socialism, Communism, Marxism
(concerning public policy and advocacy): Policies where the public’s tax money is spent on the public welfare, as opposed to transferring public funds to the ultra wealthy.
Market Based Solutions:
“Solutions” to social problems that put profit as the driving force, rather than human need by eliminating the public role in decision making, transferring additional and un-calculated costs to the public and forcing working families and the poor to bare most of the burden of market forces.
The richest of the rich, the elite millionaire/billionaire corporations, investors, and banks—the ones who own the country and are unaccountable to the public. Not a “community” in the friendly sense that we understand it to be. (Does not include small business owners like your local friendly family-run restaurant.)
Due to a significant level of desperation and sizable unemployment in the labor force, conditions are ripe for business managers and owners to slash living wages, cut benefits, disregard reasonable working condition standards, and destroy workers’ unions in order to increase their power and profits.
The use of this word in referring to social programs for the public is chosen specifically to imply that those receiving the much needed social benefits are “freeloaders” and “sponging off of the government.” Refers exclusively to the poor, working class, and middle class. Entitlements for the wealthy, such as tax breaks and other gifts, are not included in this categorization.
Huge sums of money stolen from the pockets of taxpayers received mostly by rich blacks who cheat the government and are too lazy to work.
What? There’s no such thing! And if there was, it would never be exponentially larger than social welfare…
Social Darwinism or the ‘law of the jungle’ for the working class, poor, uninsured, and disenfranchised. Note that “personal responsibility” doesn’t apply to the elite, who enjoy government protection and public safety nets.
Unrestricted free reign for multinational corporations, billionaire investors, and massive banking institutions to run the country in their interests at the expense of the general population whose role is to work, go into debt, and supply the funds (taxes) to erect barriers to market forces for big business. Also commonly known as “liberty“.
A massive government designed in the interests of military dominance and in the interests of the rich, while making sure public dollars cannot be spent on public interests and much needed social programs. Simply put, big government for sectors of power, small government for the needy.
Free Enterprise, Free Market:
An economic system of “public subsidy and private profit,” where the government intervenes in the market regularly to protect elite business interests from market forces. 
The removal of economic institutions from the public sphere into private, unaccountable hands. By definition, a radical reduction of democracy.
‘Hope or Change’:
Change of face and rhetoric, maintenance of the status quo
Democracy, Democratic Process:
Elections every few years between two factions of business representatives, public ratifications of concentrated power.
Balanced Media Coverage:
A lively debate between a “liberal” and a “conservative” within a narrow framework of assumptions that serve the interests of power.
Refers exclusively to small criminals from the lower classes like drug dealers, petty thieves, some violent behavior. Does not include the massive crime and corruption on Wall Street, or the much bigger and more serious war crimes (which have kill millions of people) committed by presidents and congress.
War on Drugs:
a one-trillion-dollar-and-climbing policy of insanity (by Albert Einstein’s definition) which shamefully and disproportionally targets Blacks and Latinos…a policy which is no more a “war” on drug use than the t.v. show “Cheaters” is a “war” on infidelity.
a term used by government officials to calm down an angry population in light of police brutality, political corruption, government misconduct, etc. The “investigation” either produces no results or simply sacrifices a scapegoat for PR reasons, while neglecting to address the deeply rooted institutional problems. 
Getting public unrest “under control”:
Subjugating, often using violence, those who attempt to participate in decision making outside the ballot box.
(in the case that the accused is an American): 1) Those who love their country and aspire to improve it by challenging their government, and/or, 2) Americans who do not identify themselves or their moral values with the Washington-Wall Street power structure.
An all purpose catch phrase used to justify US military aggression and restriction of civil rights.
Corporate interests  and lastly,
Fronts for socializing the cost of Research and Development for corporations and the military. They also serve the invaluable function of making sure that the educated community understands the right version of history, world affairs, and of course, the proper meaning of relevant terminology and the rules of polite discussion.
1 Chomsky, Noam, What Uncle Sam Really Wants, Odonian Press, Berkeley, CA, December 2002.
2 Blum, William, “When is a holocaust not a holocaust?” Counterpunch, October 2008
3 Abu-Jamal, Mumia, All Things Censored, Seven Stories Press, New York, July 2003.
By Alex Taylor, II I- Senior Editor, Fortune
GM plunges 31% as outlook dims
GM and Ford face credit downgrades after new report projects U.S. auto sales will hit recession levels this year; Ford slides nearly 22%.
NEW YORK (Fortune) – Investors cast a shocking vote of no confidence in the future of U.S. automakers Thursday.
After dropping sharply early in the day, GM (GM, Fortune 500) stock closed down 31% to $4.76 a share, while Ford (F, Fortune 500) fell nearly 22% to $2.08. A flurry of bad news was to blame, of which the latest was a declaration by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s that it was putting GM and Ford on credit watch negative “because of the rapidly weakening state of most global auto markets” and weak capital market conditions.
The stock selloff effectively puts both companies on death watch, and it’s easy to see why. The ratings warnings followed a new report by Global Insight that shows U.S. auto sales hitting recession levels this year – and then sinking lower in 2009.
“We won’t get back to where we were in 2006 until 2013,” said George Magliano, director of forecasting for North America for Global Insight. The economic forecasting and consulting firm based outside Boston is forecasting sales of 13.8 million units this year and only 13.4 million in 2009, compared with 16.1 million last year.
The impact of oil prices at the beginning of the year was mild compared to the squeeze from the credit crunch. As Nigel Griffiths, Global Insight’s managing director of global forecasting, points out, expensive oil merely meant that wealth was being transferred to oil-producing countries like Russia from oil-consuming ones like the United States. Now, the credit crunch is destroying wealth and making it impossible for customers to buy.
“The impact is worse than if the price of oil had been sustained at $200 a barrel,” he said.
It turns out that auto finance companies were as guilty as mortgage lenders in providing loans to subprime borrowers – and their generosity is coming back to haunt them. Lenders dramatically cut standards for credit worthiness at the beginning of 2008 and now delinquency rates have been shooting up to levels not seen in 30 years.
“Some 18% of sales volume came from people with bad credit scores,” said Magliano. “Now the subprime buyer has been squeezed out.”
There is little relief overseas. According to Global Insight, at least half a dozen countries in Western Europe experienced greater house-price appreciation over the last 10 years than did the United States. Ireland led the way with a nearly 250% rise and the United Kingdom was not far behind. With that kind of wealth accumulation unlikely to be repeated, sales experienced a “total collapse” in July and have gone into a “violent downshift.”
Nor is Asia likely to provide a safety net. Sales growth in China is slowing markedly and vehicle demand in India is also ebbing. Even the much publicized $3,000 Nano car developed by India’s Tata Motors is off to a slow start. Plans for an assembly plant in India have been scuttled by local opposition and Global Insight says Nano “will only see a big build-up in volumes from 2010.”
“When will the credit crunch free up enough to allow consumers to finance again?” asked Griffiths. “That is the several-trillion-dollar question. It is the core assumption on which all forecasts will be based and it is unforecastable.”
To combat this flood of negative news, GM has adopted the Sarah Palin approach: bypassing the media by communicating directly with customers and investors. GM executives can now be seen in videos posted on its Fast Lane Web site talking about the company.
In the first video, posted Sept. 22, chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner responds to the question “What’s GM’s future look like?” by saying “GM’s future is actually quite bright.” After ticking off progress on new models, technology and sales in developing markets,” he concluded by saying, “though times are challenging, we’re really making sure that we keep planting the seeds for what we think should be a very exciting future for General Motors.”
Three weeks later, you have to wonder what he’d be saying today?
Documentary on the events that led to the economic collapse of Argentina in 2001 which wiped out the middle class and raised the level of poverty to 57.5%. Central to the collapse was the implementation of neo-liberal policies which enabled the swindle of billions of dollars by foreign banks and corporations. Many of Argentina’s assets and resources were shamefully plundered. Its financial system was even used for money laundering by Citibank, Credit Suisse, and JP Morgan. The net result was massive wealth transfers and the impoverishment of society which culminated in many deaths due to oppression and malnutrition. If you want to stop the same thing from happening here, and it is happening here, right now, please join the revolution at the Kick Them All Out Projet http://www.KickThemAllOut.com and the Fire Congress Campaign.
One thing that really bugs defence chiefs is having their troops diverted from other duties to control robots. So having a pack of them controlled by one person makes logistical sense. But I’m concerned about where this technology will end up.
Given that iRobot last year struck a deal with Taser International to mount stun weapons on its military robots, how long before we see packs of droids hunting down pesky demonstrators with paralysing weapons? Or could the packs even be lethally armed? I asked two experts on automated weapons what they thought – click the continue reading link to read what they said.
Steve Wright of Leeds Metropolitan University is an expert on police and military technologies, and last year correctly predicted this pack-hunting mode of operation would happen. “The giveaway here is the phrase ‘a non-cooperative human subject’,” he told me:
“What we have here are the beginnings of something designed to enable robots to hunt down humans like a pack of dogs. Once the software is perfected we can reasonably anticipate that they will become autonomous and become armed.
We can also expect such systems to be equipped with human detection and tracking devices including sensors which detect human breath and the radio waves associated with a human heart beat. These are technologies already developed.”
Another commentator often in the news for his views on military robot autonomy is Noel Sharkey, an AI and robotics engineer at the University of Sheffield. He says he can understand why the military want such technology, but also worries it will be used irresponsibly.
“This is a clear step towards one of the main goals of the US Army’s Future Combat Systems project, which aims to make a single soldier the nexus for a large scale robot attack. Independently, ground and aerial robots have been tested together and once the bits are joined, there will be a robot force under command of a single soldier with potentially dire consequences for innocents around the corner.”
What do you make of this? Are we letting our militaries run technologically amok with our tax dollars? Or can robot soldiers be programmed to be even more ethical than human ones, as some researchers claim?
Paul Marks, technology correspondent
Deployment Erodes Longstanding Separation Between Civilian And Military Government
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today demanded information from the government about reports that an active military unit has been deployed inside the U.S. to help with “civil unrest” and “crowd control” – matters traditionally handled by civilian authorities. This deployment jeopardizes the longstanding separation between civilian and military government, and the public has a right to know where and why the unit has been deployed, according to an ACLU Freedom of Information request filed today.
“The military’s deployment within U.S. borders raises critical questions that must be answered,” said Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “What is the unit’s mission? What functions will it perform? And why was it necessary to deploy the unit rather than rely on civilian agencies and personnel and the National Guard? Given the magnitude of the issues at stake, it is imperative that the American people know the truth about this new and unprecedented intrusion of the military in domestic affairs.”
According to a report in the Army Times, the Army recently deployed an active military unit inside the United States under Northern Command, which was established in 2002 to assist federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities. This deployment marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command.
Civilian authorities, not the military, have historically controlled and directed the internal affairs of the United States. This rule traces its origins to the nation’s founding and has been reaffirmed in landmark statutes including the Posse Comitatus Act, which helps preserve the foundational principles of our Constitution and democracy.
“This is a radical departure from separation of civilian law enforcement and military authority, and could, quite possibly, represent a violation of law,” said Mike German, ACLU national security policy counsel and former FBI Agent. “Our Founding Fathers understood the threat that a standing army could pose to American liberty. While future generations recognized the need for a strong military to defend against increasingly capable foreign threats, they also passed statutory protections to ensure that the Army could not be turned against the American people. The erosion of these protections should concern every American.”
In order to assess the implications of the recent deployment, the ACLU requested the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defense today to immediately make public all legal opinions, executive orders, presidential directives, memos, policy guidance, and other documents that authorize the deployment of military troops for domestic purposes.
Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Department of Defense has dramatically expanded its role in domestic law enforcement and intelligence operations, including the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping programs, the Department of Homeland Security’s use of military spy satellites, and the participation of military personnel in state and local intelligence fusion centers. The ACLU has repeatedly expressed concern about these incremental encroachments of the military into domestic affairs, and the assignment of active duty troops to Northern Command only heightens these concerns.
A copy of the ACLU’s information request is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/general/37272lgl20081021.html
A Banquet For Death
Pray For Me, Father
By Sherwood Ross
October 22, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse“
Pray for me, Father, mine is the sin of cowardice
For I do not set myself on fire at the White House gate
To protest murder. I am a glutton for God’s blue sky.
Pray for me, Father, for my tax dollars set a banquet for Death
With napalm and daisy cutters and snakelike missiles
That blow apart other men and their wives and children
While I walk secure along the shore of the tranquil sea.
Pray for me, Father, and I will pray for you
I will pray for a church that does not decry an Inquisition
Where men are broken and driven mad in the dungeons
Of Bagram, Kabul, Gitmo and Abu Ghraib
A church of priests that recall Golgotha
As if Jesus and Jesus and Jesus by the thousands
Are not being crucified now by the Masters of War
Are not shuffling home on artificial legs
Are not staring sightless from wheelchairs
In VA hospitals into God’s blue sky.
Pray for me, Father, and I will pray for you.
© Sherwood Ross
By Peter Offermann October 22, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse” — I am struggling lately with finding meaningful and rational events to provide a basis for sanity.
The world events that are currently happening are surreal in themselves but what I really struggle with is people’s reaction to them. It appears like most everyone is hypnotized to not see the predator terror birds currently in our living rooms. It’s business as usual as the birds wreak havoc and pick off choice morsels [victims] with impunity.
I guess people can’t cope with the emotional fall from grace of going from feeling invincible to realizing that they are but puny prey to a much more powerful predator. I rarely see anyone these days and when I do I am mostly at a loss for words because my reality is so different from theirs.
My neighbors are mostly nice people but simply see a different world than I do. A few of them are starting to get it and now take me a bit more seriously as they see [then unthinkable] events I told them were going to happen 3 years ago going on around them now. Almost all of them still see this as a temporary blip on the event horizon and continue on about their business assuming the terror birds will transform back into budgies and things will return to normal soon.
What people are going through now is similar to what I went through in 1999 when overnight I went from being wealthy and on top of the world to penniless without influence as a result of a bank fraud.
Current world events are at a stage relative to the first few weeks of my realizing in 1999 that I and 64,000 other people were caught in a bank fraud. First there was optimism that events weren’t as bad as they appeared but this soon changed to the grim realization that “yes” it was indeed that bad. Then for a few months there was hope that the protections built into modern society by our governments would save us from the worst of the events.
This is where the world is now; people realize their lifestyles are imperiled but they still have faith that justice will prevail and that the government they support to protect them will mentor their cause and put right an illegal wrong. There is still hope of returning to the past.
I’ll continue to describe the stages I went through after 1999 as I think world events taking place now will follow the same progression because the same group of people who perpetrated the fraud in 1999 are behind the events taking place now.
Once I realized that the events I was caught in were more than a temporary blip I became proactive in seeking justice. I very quickly came to the shockingly surreal realization from utilizing the official channels of justice that they [channels of justice] were not what they appear to be to naive people like myself. Instead of being constructed to provide justice for all it became obvious that they are designed to protect the privileged few from the rabble like me.
The order our courts keep is mostly to train the rabble to follow the rules. The rules are set in stone for the rabble; however it quickly became apparent that for the chosen few the rules are infinitely flexible. For this elite class of people the courts are designed to manipulate the rabble to allow them, the rulers, whatever they desire. Laws can be/are created, changed or ignored to suit their tastes.
Then as now my life was surreal as those around me continue[d] to live their lives as if the edifices of justice are real. Trying to explain otherwise to people just made them think I was crazy. Sure they saw what happened to me but they assumed I did something wrong and it would/could never happen to them.
I started to research those behind the “isolated” incident I had been caught in and soon came to the even more surreal realization that the incident wasn’t isolated and that the whole world was/is at the mercy of a small group of predators who can do whatever they please, wherever they please, whenever they please. I now realize that any sense of power we have while living within the system they control is nothing more than a mirage. We are completely at their mercy.
While this was playing out emotionally my physical circumstances were dire. I was a foreigner in Mexico with no lifeline to big brother. It was sink or swim on my own even for the most basic necessities such as food and shelter. Even the lowest of the poor were now above me as they at least knew how to get along without money and mostly had minimal shelter.
Obviously I survived. I was mostly shunned by those that had been my contemporaries although a few did give a helping hand in the form of work or shelter in the form of house sitting arrangements. This help was appreciated but it was a huge fall from grace as I now was dependent on the goodwill of others.
I went from being able to have virtually any toy I desired to having nothing but an old truck, a laptop and about $250 in a matter of weeks. It was an emotional struggle but surprisingly as I continued to survive without all the trimmings I began to appreciate that almost everything I had previously owned was excess baggage that weighed me down instead of making me more fit/powerful/happy. I began to rejoice in the freedom of not needing to carry all that weight.
I also realized that our sense of dependence on our “baggage” is what keeps us controllable by our masters. If we fear life without our toys we will tow the line no matter how onerous the task.
A lot of our baggage dependence relates to keeping up with the Jones’ and provides the means to the masters to profit from the labours of those who “need” to keep up with their neighbors.
After spending time among the poor in Mexico I realized that for them their homes and bodies were not temples to be garnished with bangles to make them attractive to their peers, they were simply maintained in usable condition with the least amount of effort possible. Even in Mexico only the very poorest of the poor live this way. Most mexicans have fallen prey to television and revel in conspicuous consumption.
Conspicuous consumption is the norm in the modern world and is what I struggle with the most since returning to Canada after 12 years away. I see the majority of people around me working their butts off in order to conform with some societal ideal of successful living. Most of their activity is now meaningless to me.
I have again become encumbered with a fair amount of baggage but it is with the clear realization that life can and does go on without it if one is prepared to take responsibility for their own lives. This means independence from those intent on managing others for their own benefit. My home and self are now maintained solely to provide maximum benefit/enjoyment to me, not to impress others with my success/power/wealth.
Knowing I can (prefer to) survive without excessive baggage allows me to consider not following the rules/norm of the masters and instead build a life according to my own desires.
It is currently still a very lonely endeavor as the majority still struggles towards a very different goal leaving little in common to communicate about. However I have hopes that as more people realize they have been robbed blind by those who control their society they will come to appreciate the aspects of life which are important to me.
Peter Offermann – email@example.com
By Gabriele Zamparini
“Everything has to change so that nothing changes.” - Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa, Il Gattopardo
The color of money. Senator Barack Obama’s campaign has now raised more than $600 million, almost equaling what all the candidates from both major parties collected in private donations in 2004.
Where do you think that awful lot of money comes from?
“Many of these large donors come from industries with interests in Washington. A New York Times analysis of donors who wrote checks of $25,000 or more to the candidates’ main joint fund-raising committees found, for example, the biggest portion of money for both candidates came from the securities and investments industry, including executives at various firms embroiled in the recent financial crisis like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG. ( . . . ) More than 600 donors contributed $25,000 or more to [Obama] in September alone, roughly three times the number who did the same for Senator John McCain.”
Endorsements, or the big orgy.
Colin Powell, one of the major war criminals with the blood of millions of innocent people on his hands, has endorsed Barack Obama who, in exchange, has endorsed war criminal Powell: Obama told NBC television Monday that Powell was welcome to campaign for him and might have a place in his administration. He said Powell “will have a role as one of my advisers” and that a formal role in his government was “something we’d have to discuss.”
The (ex)change we can believe in.
All the President’s Men. Among Barrack Obama’s godfathers there are: Warren Buffett, the world’s richest man; George Soros, the multibillionaire Good Samaritan affiliated with the Council on Foreign Relations, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, etc.; the diabolical Zbigniew Brzezinski, and the notorious media mogul Rupert Murdock with his nefarious empire. The list goes on and on.
No doubt there will be advantages to having a liberal emperor. Alan Dershowitz explains:
“The reason is because I think it is better for Israel to have a liberal supporter in the White House than to have a conservative supporter in the Oval Office. Obama’s views on Israel will have greater impact on young people, on Europe, on the media and on others who tend to identify with the liberal perspective. Although I believe that centrists liberals in general tend to support Israel, I acknowledge that support from the left seems to be weakening as support from the right strengthens. The election of Barack Obama — a liberal supporter of Israel — will enhance Israel’s position among wavering liberals. As I travel around university campuses both in the United States and abroad, I see radical academics trying to present Israel as the darling of the right and anathema to the left. As a liberal supporter of Israel, I try to combat that false image. Nothing could help more in this important effort to shore up liberal support for Israel than the election of a liberal president who strongly supports Israel and who is admired by liberals throughout the world. That is among the important reasons why I support Barack Obama for president.”
Dershowitz is absolutely right of course. Not to mention Mr. Vice President Joseph “I am a Zionist” Biden, the man in charge of the implementation of an old Zionist dream, the partition of Iraq, and one of Obama’s top foreign policy advisers, Madeleine Bloody Albright, the modern Herod who proudly claimed the responsibility for the massacre of half a million Iraqi innocent babies.
Empires don’t elect presidents, they select emperors. The Empire’s Establishment picked up an unknown politician and made of him a star to save itself and control the masses with the American Democracy Show. Casting a handsome, charming black man (yes! the Establishment played the race card. Remember? Everything has to change so that nothing changes) to cover the ugly face of a bloody, ruthless Empire, the ruling class plans to rebuild the illusion of a respectable civilization, the stars and stripes mythology, the American way. The media — owned by those who control the political process, the same people who control the economy and our lives — played marvelously the game and another Hollywood movie is brainwashing the four corners of the planet.
Killing hopes. A self-complacent politburo with its well-funded progressive think tanks and publications has once again participated in this colossal work of whitewashing and propaganda. The King is dead. Long live the King! No surprise of course. Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan have shown the intellectual and moral collapse of the Western Left, a phantom that continues its long march toward irrelevance.
DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE PATRICK MOON GIVES MOCK PRAISE TO PAKISTANI WAR ON FAKE TALIBAN, WHILE DEFENDING US POLICY THAT ATTACKS SCHOOLS IN PAKISTAN IN ORDER TO DISRUPT PEACE NEGOTIATIONS.
KABUL, Oct 23: Pakistan must attack militants in its northern areas and tackle extremists threatening its stability and complicating international efforts in Afghanistan, a senior US diplomat said on Thursday.
The United States was committed to helping Pakistan fight militants, deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Patrick Moon told reporters in Kabul.
“Pakistan needs to and is attacking insurgents in its northern areas,” Moon told reporters during a visit to Afghanistan to assess efforts to fight a growing Taliban-led campaign.
“Sanctuaries for Afghanistan Taliban in Pakistan complicate our security operations in Afghanistan. Pakistani Taliban elements and other extremists such as Al Qaeda are posing a threat to the stability of Pakistan,” he said.
Moon said the United States was committed to helping Islamabad by improving its army and providing development aid to stimulate economic activity and create jobs as an alternative to insurgent activity.
He said relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan appeared to have improved with the September election of President Asif Ali Zardari, but “much more needs to be done”.
The Pentagon said on Wednesday that fewer foreign fighters were slipping into Afghanistan since Pakistan launched its offensive in August against Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in border tribal regions.
[Pakistani policy of negotiating and attacking intelligence surrogates is helping Afghanistan, but it is still unacceptable.]
But the Pakistani parliament passed a special resolution on Thursday calling for an urgent review of the country’s anti-terror policy, including more talks with militants and a vow to defend its territorial sovereignty.—AFP
By Our Correspondent
MIRAMSHAH, Oct 23: US drones struck a seminary of an Afghan national in North Waziristan early on Thursday, killing 10 people and wounding three others.
The attack came hours after parliament passed a unanimous resolution pledging to defend territorial integrity of the country.
Locals said that two spy drones buzzing overhead targeted seminary Sirajul Uloom in Dandi Derpakhel on the outskirts of Miramshah at about 2.30am. They said that three loud explosions were heard as planes were flying over the area.
Sources said that some outsiders were among the dead. Three wounded persons belonging to Punjab were taken to a government hospital in Miramshah in serious condition. They were identified as Sangeen, Bekhtullah and Rehmatullah.
The bodies were immediately shifted to South Waziristan by their comrades.
The seminary is owned by Afghan national Maulvi Pir Mohammad who is stated to be a close associate of Taliban Commander in Afghanistan Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani.
“Pir Mohammad was one of the trustworthy commanders of Mr Haqqani during the Afghan conflict,” said a source.
Mr Haqqani’s residence and his seminary were targeted by unmanned US planes in the same locality on Sept 8 this year, killing 23 people including his family members and some Arab nationals.
The increasing attacks by US drones have caused anger and frustration among tribesmen. The area elders have threatened to scrap a peace deal with the government if the US attacks were not stopped.
Elders from North Waziristan met NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani in Peshawar on Thursday asking him that the government should take pre-emptive measures to halt drone attacks in the area.
“The jirga members were disappointed over intermittent drone attacks, resulting in the killings of innocent tribesmen and demanded protection from such attacks,” said a handout, quoting an unnamed tribal elder.
Governor Owais assured jirga of the Utmankhel tribe that the government had already realised concern expressed by the elders and it was fully aware of miseries and difficulties of people, and it was taking all necessary steps to rid them off these attacks.
“No doubt, it is a problem of grave concern and the government will address it,” he assured the jirga and reiterated government’s firm stance to protect the country’s frontiers at all costs.
“We must get united and strengthen our rank and file so that we face the challenges with the strength of our unity,” Mr Owais remarked.
“Our enemies are trying to destabilise Pakistan by creating rift in our rank and file and weaken it economically,” he said, adding that these elements would never succeed in their nefarious designs.
The governor was confident that the tribesmen would also take cognizance of the situation and would not only identify such elements but also flush them out. He said that certain misguided elements in Fata were playing in the hands of enemies and we would have to persuade them to come to the right path.
Mr Ghani reminded that right from the beginning Pakistan was stressing for a negotiated settlement of the issues instead of using force.
“Now the entire world is talking of negotiations and is admitting that clue to the solution of Afghan imbroglio can be achieved through negotiations. This is a big success of Pakistan’s principled stance in this regard,” the governor said.
He was hopeful that light could be seen at the end of the tunnel and chances of stability in the region were bright. He also hinted at the meeting of Mini Pak-Afghan jirga to be held in Islamabad next week, saying: “We are hopeful of its success.”
However, he said that Afghan Taliban and other opponent forces in Afghanistan were a reality and they have to be taken on board in any efforts for future political dispensation in Afghanistan.
• Race behind division in US cities, says UN report
• Beijing is most egalitarian place in the world
In a survey of 120 major cities, New York was found to be the ninth most unequal in the world and Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and Miami had similar inequality levels to those of Nairobi, Kenya Abidjan and Ivory Coast. Many were above an internationally recognised acceptable “alert” line used to warn governments.
“High levels of inequality can lead to negative social, economic and political consequences that have a destabilising effect on societies,” said the report. “[They] create social and political fractures that can develop into social unrest and insecurity.”
According to the annual State of the World’s cities report from UN-Habitat, race is one of the most important factors determining levels of inequality in the US and Canada.
“In western New York state nearly 40% of the black, Hispanic and mixed-race households earned less than $15,000 compared with 15% of white households. The life expectancy of African-Americans in the US is about the same as that of people living in China and some states of India, despite the fact that the US is far richer than the other two countries,” it said.
Disparities of wealth were measured on the “Gini co-efficient”, an internationally recognised measure usually only applied to the wealth of countries. The higher the level, the more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer people.
“It is clear that social tension comes from inequality. The trickle down theory [that wealth starts with the rich] has not delivered. Inequality is not good for anybody,” said Anna Tibaijuka, head of UN-Habitat, in London yesterday.
The report found that India was becoming more unequal as a direct result of economic liberalisation and globalisation, and that the most unequal cities were in South Africa and Namibia and Latin America. “The cumulative effect of unequal distribution [of wealth] has been a deep and lasting division between rich and poor. Trade liberalisation did not bring about the expected benefits.”
The report suggested that Beijing was now the most egalitarian city in the world, just ahead of cities such as Jakarta in Indonesia and Dire Dawa in Ethiopia.
In Europe, which was generally more egalitarian than other continents, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Slovenia were classed as the most equal countries with Greece, the UK and Spain among the least. “Disparities are particularly significant in the cities of eastern Europe, larger Spanish cities and in the north of England,” it said.
It documents the seemingly unstoppable move of people away from rural to urban areas. This year it is believed that the number of people living in urban areas exceeded those in the countryside for the first time ever, but the report says there is no sign of the trend slowing.
“The dramatic transition between rural and urban communities is not over. Urbanisation levels will rise dramatically in the next 40 years to reach 70% by 2050,” it predicts.
The most dramatic urbanisation has been taking place in China, with many millions of people moving from the countryside to cities. The report says 49 new cities have been built in the past 18 years. The rapid transition to an urban society has brought great wealth but also many negative results.
“China has attained some of the deepest disparities in the world with urban incomes three times those in rural areas. Inequalities are growing, with disproportionate rewards for the most skilled workers … and serious problems for the unemployed and informal workers.”
Urban growth rates are highest in the developing world, which absorbs an average 5 million new urban residents a month and is responsible for 95% of world urban growth. The report predicts that Asian cities will grow the most in the next 40 years and could have 63% of the world urban population by 2050.
Tokyo is expected to remain the world’s largest mega city, with 36.4m people by 2025. But Mexico City, New York, and Sao Paulo could give way in the league table to Mumbai, Delhi and Dhaka. Kinshasa and Lagos are the two African cities expected to grow the most, with each adding more than 6 million people by 2025.
Rather than countryside to city movement, which has marked rapid population growth in the last 40 years, the UN expects more people to move from city to city.
Capital cities in particular are attracting much more of countries’ investments and are growing fast. Some are becoming home to nearly half a country’s population.
But the report also identified what it believes is the emergence of a new urban trend, with many cities now shrinking in size. The populations of 46 countries, including Germany, Italy, Japan and most former soviet states, are expected to be smaller in 2050 than they are now, and in the past 30 years, says the report, more cities in the developed world have shrunk than grown.
It found that 49 cities in the UK, including Liverpool and other old industrial centres in the north of England, and 100 in Russia reduced in size between 1990 and 2000, mainly because of unemployment. In the US 39 cities are smaller now than they were 10 years ago.
The reasons for the decline of cities was mostly economic, but the report says that the environment is now an important factor.
Air quality and pollution from mines, power plants and oil exploration have been responsible for population losses in India, Mexico and Africa, it says. “Cities tend to struggle most with health-threatening environmental issues, such as the lack of safe water, sanitation and waste.”
|Monday, October 13, 2008
By by Our correspondent
|MIRAMSHAH: The three people killed in the missile attack by the US drones on a house in Machas Colony area here Saturday night were all local tribesmen.
Tribal sources said the dead included Rustam, Munawar and Sakhi, all residents of the area. Five men including Shaider Khan, Faizullah, Muqaddas, Zabiullah and Gul Qadam were injured in the missile strike on a ‘hujra’ at Machas Colony, which used to serve as a camp for Afghan refugees in the past.
Eyewitnesses told The News that four pilot-less Predators were flying in the airspace of Miramshah at the time of the attack. The tribesmen also opened fire on the drones with heavy arms. One guided missile landed in a desert causing no loss.
Some of the tribal elders of the area condemned the government for not taking notice of the missile strike by the US military. Talking to The News, they said the government’s silence over such attacks in Pakistani territory against Pakistani citizens was strange and unbecoming of a sovereign state. They asked the armed forces to resist these attacks and defend the country’s borders against the US aggression.
Most of the injured were shifted to Peshawar due to suspension of power supply to the Agency Headquarters Hospital, Miramshah, where the operation theatre was closed. Medical facilities in North Waziristan have suffered greatly due to the insecure conditions and violence.
There have been 11 missile attacks by the CIA-operated Predator planes in North Waziristan and South Waziristan since mid-August and the number of people killed in these strikes is now more than 100. Most of those killed in these attacks were civilians, including women and children. In some attacks, a few foreign and local militants were also killed.
Echoes Biden comments that Obama will be tested in early days of his term
Colin Powell has made bizarre comments that echo the recent declaration by Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden that there will be an “international crisis” early into Barack Obama’s presidency that will test the new president by forcing him to make unpopular decisions.
Speaking on meet the press two days ago, Powell officially endorsed Obama and also made the following statement:
“The problems will always be there and there’s going to be a crisis which will come along on the 21st, 22nd of January that we don’t even know about right now.
So I think what the President has to start to do is to start using the power of the oval office and the power of his personality to convince the American people and convince the world that America is solid, that America is going to move forward, we are going to fix our economic problems, we’re going to meet out overseas obligations.”
Watch Powell make the comment at 2.35 into the following video:
Is Colin Powell referring to a theoretical crisis that could occur at any time? If so why does he choose a specific date, within the first two days after the inauguration? Also why does he refer to general problems that the new president will have to deal with in a separate context? We are already in an economic crisis, everyone knows that, so what new crisis is Powell talking about?
Whatever you read into Powell’s comments, they sound somewhat bizarre, particularly as they come on the back of Joe Biden’s “guarantee” of a “generated crisis” to “test the mettle” of the new leader within six months of the new presidential term:
What does Biden mean by “generated crisis”? It is an undeniably strange term to use.
His reference to John F. Kennedy indicates that Biden may have been referring some kind of geopolitical crisis in the vain of the Cuban missile crisis of April 1961. The confrontation between the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba at the height of the Cold War came within the first four months of JFK’s presidency.
Obama’s running mate made the comments at a fundraising event in Seattle two days ago, on the same day Powell also spoke of a coming crisis.
We shouldn’t be surprised at Powell’s comments however, given that the former Secretary of State seemingly has a knack for predicting events before they take place.
Previous to the beginning of the Iraq war in February 2003, an audio tape containing a voice described as that of Osama Bin Laden was touted as proof positive of Al Qaeda links with Saddam Hussein.
Hours before the tape was discovered and aired by TV channel Al Jazeera, Powell announced in the US Senate that a “Bin Laden tape is coming proving Iraq’s links with Al-Qaeda.”
This led some to raise the question how does Colin Powell know what Al Jazeera are going to broadcast before they do?
In an amazing and timely coincidence, the tape came barely a week after Powell’s attempts to link Al Qaeda and Saddam in his botched presentation of lies and exaggerations before the UN Security Council.
Senators Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr. seldom see each other as they campaign for the Democratic ticket. And they talk only occasionally. But on Wednesday, Mr. Obama delivered a long-distance message to his running mate.
“I think Joe sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes,” Mr. Obama said, gently chiding the vice-presidential nominee as he sought to sweep aside a dustup Mr. Biden touched off when he predicted that a world crisis would test Mr. Obama during his first six months in office.
“A period of transition in a new administration is always one where we have to be vigilant, we have to be careful,” Mr. Obama said. “We have to be mindful that as we pass the baton in this democracy that others don’t take advantage of it — that’s true whether it’s myself or Senator McCain.”
In his remarks, Mr. Biden told supporters at a Seattle fund-raiser on Sunday that if Mr. Obama was elected, the world’s leaders would test his mettle as a young president, just as they did John F. Kennedy. The comment from Mr. Biden fanned a new line of criticism from Republicans that Mr. Obama is not ready for the presidency.
Mr. Obama convened a meeting of his foreign policy advisers here on Wednesday, which he said was not intended to address that remark, but rather to expand the campaign conversation beyond the economic crisis. Mr. Biden participated in a private portion of the meeting by telephone from Colorado, but did not appear on stage with Mr. Obama.
“I think that his core point was that the next administration is going to be tested, regardless of who it is,” Mr. Obama said, placing his interpretation on Mr. Biden’s comments. “The next administration is going to be inheriting a host of really big problems.”
He added, “The question is, Will the next president meet that test by moving America in a new direction by sending a clear signal to the rest of the world that we are no longer about bluster and unilateralism and ideology?”
Mr. McCain kept up his criticism of the Democratic ticket for Mr. Biden’s remarks. At a rally on Wednesday in Green, Ohio, Mr. McCain told the crowd, “Senator Biden guaranteed that if Senator Obama is elected, we will have an international crisis to test America’s new president!”
“We don’t want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when the economy is in crisis,” Mr. McCain added. “Americans are already fighting in two wars, my friends. Senator Biden referred to how Jack Kennedy was tested in the Cuban missile crisis. I had a little personal experience on that. I was a pilot on board the U.S.S. Enterprise, I was ready to go into combat at any minute, I know how close we came to a nuclear war, and I will not be a president that needs to be tested!”
An Interview With Richard C. Cook: The Challenger Disaster, Financial Collapse And Viable Solutions By Gary Corseri
By Gary Corseri
Oct. 23, 2008
GC: Just a little background: I was reading your articles on the Web, with much interest, getting a lot of information; then, I was pleased to find your favorable comments on something I’d written. I wrote you that, should you find yourself in the D.C. area, give a holler—and, you’re the only guy I ever wrote that to who actually hollered!
GC: So … here we are … I want to get into your ideas—your views on the economy … But first, can you tell us a little about yourself? I’ve read some of your first book, CHALLENGER REVEALED, and I think it’s fair to say that you established your reputation as a whistle-blower back in 1987 in front of the Presidential Commission on the space shuttle disaster. You worked for NASA, you were prescient back then, your warnings were ignored or dismissed. I hope that some of us are a little smarter, and that there are more of us who can better heed your warnings now about our free-falling economy. First, Who is Richard Cook?
RC: When people ask, I say I’m a Native American: I was born in Montana, grew up in Michigan and Virginia. My ancestors have been part of American history; one of them was in the Oklahoma land rush; a great, great, great grandfather was in a Civil War unit that served with Grant; my grandfather and father served in the navy in the World Wars.
When my parents moved to Virginia, my mother worked as a tour guide in colonial Williamsburge, and I learned about American history through her. … I graduated from William and Mary, where I majored in English and studied the history of the Western world, as well as Eastern religions. I became a student of cultures then.
Upon graduation, in 1970, I got a job working for the U.S. civil service commission. It was the height of the Vietnam War—a war I strongly opposed! I worked for the government for a couple of years, then taught history at a private school for two years. I returned to the same civil service agency—I felt a call back to government service. I worked for two more years in planning and evaluation. Then I was offered a job in the Food and Drug Administration.
GC: You’re basically trained as an analyst; you look at figures, examine budgets, you—
RC: I was trained as a writer in college. I wrote a novel for my honors project. When I came to work in D.C., I was a policy analyst. They’d give me a topic—What do we do about lower-grade employees, how to assist their advance up the ladder? I’d talk to the experts, gather information, present my findings. After working at FDA for two years, in 1979, I was given a job in the Carter White House, where I worked on the staff of the special assistant for consumer affairs. When the Reagan administration came in, I got a close-up view of the presidential campaign. Being in the White House office, we saw what was going on; for example, the Reagan campaign stole Jimmy Carter’s briefing book to prep Reagan for the debates. When Reagan won, I was moved out of the old executive office building. I didn’t have much to do for a couple of years; consumer affairs was not a high priority with Reagan.
My wife and I decided to leave Washington; we bought a farm in West Virginia; worked the farm for two years. After a while, I returned to Washington, worked for several months for a defense contractor. I wasn’t making much money and my wife was pregnant! I applied for civil service jobs and was surprised when I got the call from NASA. I had no hard science background. But they hired me as a resource analyst in the comptroller’s office. My first assignment was to go to the office of Space Flight, talk to the engineers about this problem they were having with the solid rocket booster O-rings. These engineers opened up to me and began telling me how dangerous the problem was with the O-rings. They spoke almost in whispers. One of them said “We hold our breath every time this thing goes up.”
GC: What would happen if these O-rings failed?
RC: The space shuttle would blow up. … These were not things I had to dig out of these guys. They wanted to tell me. … I think they were trying to get a message up to headquarters around their own management because there was a sense in the office of Space Flight that bad news should not get out; they wanted to “manage” these problems without publicity.
GC: Pre-emptive cover-up!
RC: Right! Although I did find, after the disaster, that the top people did know about these problems. Not from thick, analytical reports that were documented and went up the line; they knew because somebody told them at a meeting—or in a hallway.
GC: But, the problems weren’t documented … so, they could cover their own asses!
RC: Right. By that time I knew very well how analysis should be done. These problems with the O-rings, etc., should have been the subject of major studies. But the space shuttle program was highly politicized; it was heavily dependent on reimbursement from customers—including foreign governments flying their satellites on the shuttle; and, including the scientific community putting their space probes on the shuttle. … But the most important customer was the Department of Defense. At the DoD, it was the same: the top people might have been told in hallway conversations that certain things were going on—but nothing was documented. … Congress knew nothing about any of this. The press knew nothing. The White House, the OMB knew nothing—I mean, not just the O-ring problems, but other problems such as space shuttle main engines, spare parts shortages, accidents that were occurring at the Kennedy Space center because of the accelerating flight schedule. So, people who funded the program—Congress–, people who oversaw the program—the Executive office, the President—and the Press were very much in the dark. There were a series of problems that could have stopped the program … and I think, they assumed in the Office of Space Flight that something was going to stop it, something was going to fail—
GC: –To blow up?
RC: Right … that sooner or later we’re going to have a disaster and it’ll stop—because we can’t keep going at this pace; sooner or later we’ll have to stop and fix the problems, but we can’t tell our customers we’re not able to fly for them and meet our commitments!
GC: You write about the accelerating flight schedule in your book.
RC: 15 flights a year in 1986. The target was to get it up to two flights per month!
GC: And this was to make the program pay for itself?
RC: By then, no one believed it could pay for itself. But that didn’t mean that the reimbursements that NASA was getting wasn’t … nice. They were getting a billion dollars a year from the DoD. That’s a lot of payroll to meet. They needed the money, but they also needed to maintain their monopoly on the space launches. The purpose of the shuttle was to fly everything. This was to be the launch system for the Free World. All foreign satellites, all space probes, all defense missions were to fly on the shuttle—spy satellites, etc. Yhe pressure was on to fly everything the National Security world needed, everything our scientists needed, everything our foreign allies needed. Nobody was willing to say, We’ve got to stop!
GC: Isn’t this endemic to systems? Whether we’re talking Communist, socialist, capitalist, corporatist—there’s something within the system that builds this pressure to succeed, to justify itself—and that’s where, ideally, people like you come in. … You’re the watchman on the tower and you’re supposed to be saying, “Hey, wait a minute, something’s not right here!” But then, it’s also characteristic of systems that people like you are shunted aside.
RC: We’re the canaries in the mine! I was told when I got to NASA, when I spoke to the Space Flight people, that I was supposed to be an adversary. Adversarial on the budget side. … But, you’re right—the analyst is the one who’s supposed to prick the balloon. But, the system at NASA was a juggernaut. … I was there at the time that Peter Drucker’s ideas on management mission statements had come into vogue. Management set the objectives and everyone was supposed to fall into line. If there were problems, the engineers were supposed to fix them—but without a major re-design.
GC: Because that would slow things down, cost a lot of money?
RC: Right … one of the features of the space shuttle program was that they never tested the way the aeorospace engineering community was used to testing—on a component by component basis. Once you’ve tested your components, you put those together in a unit, then you test the unit, then you build up to a live test. They didn’t do that. They built everything together at once and tested it, then went back and said, If it’s too bad, we might do something, but if it’s little things, we won’t. The shuttle never had a test flight. They built it, put the crew in it and hoped everything work. But on the second flight, they began to see the O-rings fail.
GC: So this is where you come in … You write powerfully in your book about the day of the Challenger disaster; you go rifling through your files; you search your old files; something is ringing in your ears; you’ve seen this in your mind’s eye; and you find your files and it turns out you’ve written about the potential for this disaster and it was ignored or dismissed.
RC: That’s how it happened! My first report was about the potential for failure of the O-rings. And I gave that to my supervisor who asked me to “keep tracking the issue.” I would meet fairly regularly with the engineers, tracking their findings and concerns. What I didn’t know was that in August of 1985, they had called in the engineers from the Thiokol corporation, along with the program office from the Marshall Space Flight Center, and they had this big meeting in Washington where they decided how to try to fix the O-rings joints (They never told me about this before or after!) Ironically, they figured out how to fix the problem then, but they weren’t able to implement these changes before the Challenger launch!
GC: One thing I’d like to get into—because it startled me when I read it. … To understand what this O-ring is, it’s where the segments of the rocket come together, and it allows for the decoupling in space, and that would allow for the re-use of the whole system … and you described how this is put together with putty! That amazed me.
RC: The putty is in there as a heat shield … (Gestures with his hands as he explains the technical aspects of the segmented rocket.)
GC: So, this is the kind of putty I put around my bathtub?
RC: (Laughs.) You can buy O-rings in a hardware store. Yes, heat-resistant putty.
GC: You said the scientists didn’t completely understand the physics—why there had been no charring of the O-rings on the second test-flight. But yet there was this pressure to go on.
RC: That’s right … Around this time, I was given another assignment to look at the Centaur upper stage of the rocket. I was supposed to write a history of the Centaur program. And, as I delved into it, I began to think—Jeez, this is even worse than the O-rings! I became convinced that the Centaur was the immediate threat to the shuttle … (A brief explanation of where the Centaur is located on the shuttle; jet propulsion, etc.) The Centaur was the upper-stage rocket and it was the heaviest, most dangerous upper-stage ever built because it ran on liquid oxygen and hydrogen.
GC: Isn’t that what the Hindenberg was all about?
RC: Yeah, that’s a good analogy. The astronauts would launch while carrying a Hindenberg in the payload bay.
GC: Wow! … Obviously, there’s a lot more of this in your book. … But, for now, I’d like to return to the question of your credibility, which is essential to appreciate your views on the economy. … I see you as somebody who’s somewhat prophetic: you saw the danger, you tried to sound the warning, and, like my friend, Laocoon, you were ignored. And so, tell me just a little bit about that process … Your first report was about the potential failure of the O-rings. You file your report and you’re told to keep track of it. You do so, but nothing changes. Then, the disaster occurs, what next? Before too long you go before Congress and—
RC: –before the Presidential Commission and … What happens is that NASA started a cover-up. They were not going to tell anyone that there was a long history of problems. Eventually, they’d let the technical people come up with a technical explanation. They were never going to let the whole story come out. And I was there with the documents I had, sitting at my farm in West Virginia, and I said to my wife, I can’t go through with this. They expected me to go along. They expected me to be part of the cover-up of one of the greatest disasters in US history. I felt very challenged. I felt indignant. No one ever told me, Rick, we want you to cover this up … but it was obvious. … it was taken for granted that you would go along. There were orders that went out from the head of the agency—not to talk to the press and not to speculate about the causes of the accident. I felt some kind of inner drive to disrupt this. That wasn’t what I’d signed on for when I came to be a civil servant.
GC: You were putting your career at risk?
RC: Oh, yeah. And, even my life. I was told, “They kill people for less than this.”
GC: Who told you that?
RC: A newsman. …
GC: Okay, the bottom line is, you submitted your reports, your sounded the warning, and there’s no real change. The damn thing blows up, kills Christa MacAuliffe and six other astronauts … and then there’s a cover-up. So, what next? You went to the media?
RC: It was thought at first that NASA would investigate itself; but soon afterward, a Presidential Commission was appointed, headed by Donald Regan, Reagan’s chief of staff. I later determined that the Presidential Commission was set up to deflect the investigation from the White House … because the real reason they launched the Challenger that morning was for Reagan’s publicity purposes—particularly for his State of the Union speech where he was going to talk about Christa MacAuliffe. That was where the real pressure came. NASA had a flawed system—a cruddy spaceship that could blow up … but the pressure to launch came from the White House. So, the Presidential Commission was supposed to manage the news and protect the White House. When I saw the cover-up emerging, I took all of my O-ring papers down to the New York Times, met with their science reporter and explained how the whole thing had happened. I gave them my documents, including my memo from the previous July where I was named as the person who had investigated this and had given warnings … When the story came out, the Commission met behind closed doors and decided they were going to discredit me and the O-ring papers. When I got on the stand, the chairman started grilling me, stating that I was a new employee with no technical knowledge—and what was I doing questioning my betters? I stood my ground, went through the history of what I knew. That was the first the world heard that NASA knew what had happened. … I never returned to NASA after that. I had a job offer from Treasury and I reported to Treasury the following week. However, I did continue investigating the issue, on my own, over the next two years. Finally, I tracked how the Reagan White House had actually caused this disaster. I talked to someone who was Reagan’s astrologer [!]—learned how they had recommended to Reagan that he not launch, but he went ahead and did it anyway, in spite of his knowing there was trouble with cold temperature launches. It was Reagan who made the final decision—all that pressure he brought to bear for publicity’s sake … But, by that time, it was out of the news. The media didn’t want to hear about it any more, they gave Reagan a free ride. I put my notes away for 15 years. When I could see the approach of my retirement from government, I got my notes out again and wrote the book, which documents the inside story.
GC: This tells us a lot about this society. … Even when the information is out there, the cover-up continues; the media just ignores it or lets the story die. … We can segue to where we are now, 21 years after the disaster. We’re facing a different kind of disaster, a financial one … and you’ve written a lot about it. Now, you didn’t have a technical background, and yet you were a whistle-blower for technical problems. You don’t have an economics background, but you’re a whistle blower on the economy and the way our economic system works. How do you have credibility in economics?
RC: It just happened that I ended up in NASA … Well, after NASA, it just so happened that I ended up in the Treasury Department—the heart of the beast. I spent 21 years there studying the economic system of the US government—the financial system. I had a lot of time on my hands. I was a pretty good analyst and I could do what they wanted me to do pretty readily. So, I studied in depth. If you look at it going back to colonial days and the history coming out of England—the history of how the governments operated–corporate finance is a big part of Western history. These corporate financial systems really were developed through the Roman Catholic church. Western financial systems came out of the medieval papacy. They were the ones with the money—and they put together a very good system of public finance that has carried down through today.
GC: I’ve got to ask you—where do the Jews come into this? Because many people think it’s all controlled by the Jews.
RC: In medieval days, because the Church prohibited usury, the Jews became the ones who did the dirty work—handling finances for the Pope and the King. Having no religious prohibitions against finance and usury, the Jews became the financial class of Europe. They also became the gold merchants who were the first ones to practice fractional reserve banking. People would place their gold with the gold merchants who would then issue certificates against it, and then they would issue certificates against gold that they didn’t really have—the issuance would exceed the actual reserve.
GC: Fractional reserve is the idea that a bank can lend more than it actually has. Ten times or more. Isn’t it 30 times these days?
RC: It depends on what the reserve requirement is. Today it’s fairly low. … Anyway, that whole system came out of the Middle Ages … When William of Orange came over with the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he brought people with him who set up the Bank of England. The Bank of England has been the model for Central Banks to this day! It was created to loan money to the British government to fight its wars. That’s the model that we have today … it’s the system of our Federal Reserve when it was put in place in 1913. …
At Treasury, we worked very closely with the Fed. The Fed is the fiscal agent for the US Treasury. So, I learned about the Fed and how it worked in the trenches at Treasury. By the time I was getting ready to leave Treasury—around 2002/2003, I began to delve into the monetary reform movement that had existed in the US for a very long time, but which I had just begun to study in some detail. At the Carter White House, I had begun to learn about the British Social Credit Movement which came out of Britain in the 1920s and ‘30s as kind of the first monetary reform movement in the Western world. And all of this fit together in my mind around 2002-3, and I began to post some articles on the Internet under a pen name—though I still worked for Treasury. I also had gotten to know Stephen Zarlenga, the director of the American Monetary Institute, and I advised him on writing his monetary reform legislation—the American Monetary Act that he has in his brief to members of Congress. I also met Dennis Kucinich when he was running for President in 2004, and I gave some briefings to Dennis on US monetary history.
GC: Does Kucinich favor your monetary system?
RC: In fact, in the article I’m writing now, I note that Dennis just came out with a 16-point economic program—and one of the points focuses on the American Monetary Act on which I worked with Zerlanger.
GC: What’s the gist of it?
RC: It’s rather complex … but it starts with nationalizing the Federal Reserve system. Anyway, I never went to grad school in economics, but I learned monetary economics as a practitioner and a student of it in Treasury. I retired in January, 07, and that month I published the Challenger book. Then, I thought, What do I do now? Well, I’d written these Internet articles, I had my briefings for Kucinich, I had another article that I wrote that I posted at Global Research in January, and I thought, well, this is another book!—so I guess I’ll write a monetary book now. It turned out that Global Research, headed by Michel Chossudovsky up in Montreal, really liked my work. So, I had an outlet, and I became one of his chief economics writers. By April, I had digested the Social Credit ideas–based on the “dividend concept” that the way you release money into circulation is through a citizen’s dividend, not through bank-lending, which is the basic idea of the Alaska Permanent Fund. Well, by April, 2007, I had posted an article at Global Research titled, “An Emergency Program of Monetary Reform” because I felt very strongly that we were heading towards a collapse.
GC: And you foresaw this last year?
RC: Yes. … I continued to write these theoretical articles for the next two or three months. Then, in June, based on all of that plus signals I was getting from the Washington Post (which I call the newsletter of the financial elite), I posted an article entitled, “It’s Official: The Crash of the US Economy Has Begun.” That was 07. And, I can tell you, people who began to follow my writing at that time saved themselves a lot of money! I know people who started to get out of the stock market then.
GC: So … why didn’t you let me know?
RC: (Laughs …) Anyway, suddenly, I was now being called the whistle-blower on the US economy! I just had this compulsion to lift up the rocks and see what’s under them.
GC: And you’re looking at the slimy, crawling things. … You remind me again that autodidacts are among my favorite people … because they’re not “institutionalized,” they’re looking at things from the outside, and often are the best truth-tellers. That’s what you were doing at NASA—and now you’re doing it in the economic field. … So, you’ve done the research going back to the Middle Ages and how we’ve evolved this crazy system. You probably go back to colonial times—Hamilton setting his system up, and back to 1913 and the Federal Reserve. You’ve no doubt studied the Great Depression. … So, where are we now? We hear that we’re in the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression; others say this could be worse because it’s now global. Where are we in your analysis? And then we’ll get to “The Cook Plan.”
RC: I think we’re at the beginning of a terrible global depression, a terrible collapse. The problem is not just that the economic indicators point to that. The leading indicator in economics is purchasing power; that is, how much money do members of the economy have to purchase the necessities of life, and where do they get that money? Obviously, one way you get purchasing power is through your job—you earn it; another way is through dividends; another is capital gains; another is to borrow it. An increasing amount of purchasing power, not just for our nation, but for people around the world, has been through borrowing. So, if there’s a collapse in lending—it isn’t just that you can’t get a loan and you need to postpone some purchases; for many people, that means that you can’t live. If you’ve been living off your home equity loans, for example, and that’s gone, what’s going to replace it? Right now, we’re seeing not just a failure of the monied powers—because they’re so over-leveraged—we’re seeing a collapse of purchasing power among the people of the world. If that purchasing power can’t be replaced—the purchasing power that has entered the economy through lending over the past 10, 20, 30 years—where’s it going to come from? There’s no other source of purchasing power; so people can’t pay their mortgages or their utility bills, or buy food. If that happens on a global basis … and the credit economy isn’t filling the gap anymore because they realize that the loans they’re putting out aren’t going to be repaid—that’s the big problem. It’s not that the credit isn’t available because banks and governments can create as much credit as they want. Just off of ledgers. They can conjure up as much money to lend as they want to. The problem is paying the loans back. If people don’t have the money to pay the loans back, where’s it going to come from?
GC: And the housing crisis precipitated all of this?
RC: It was the trigger. It was the spark that lit something that was ready to blow up.
GC: Because a lot of these people were dependent on home equity loans, they’re using their houses as their credit cards, and then the value of their houses declines, and the banks don’t want to extend more credit—is that the way these dominoes have fallen?
RC: Well, yeah, but there are other twists and turns. For example, when the dot.com bubble burst in 2001—that was the Clinton bubble—it was created deliberately; that’s why Clinton looked so good because he made it all the way to 2000 on that bubble. His Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin, engineered that bubble by pulling in huge amounts of foreign capital. When that bubble crashed and George W. Bush was sitting there looking at a long-term recession/depression at the beginning of his term and he was in the process of the first tax-cut for the rich in March of 01—he’s wondering what to do (the Bush Administration). They’ve given away money to the rich and they’re going to fight some really big wars. So, where’s the money coming from? In walks Alan Greenspan. Now, I’ve documented that once Bush became president, Greenspan’s visits to the White House rapidly accelerated. Greenspan began lowering interest rates and that began to free up capital for mortgage lending. People found they could much more easily get money to buy houses. But, also in 2001, I had a long interview that I conducted with a mortgage broker who told me that at that time the word came down through the mortgage industry to start falsifying applications for mortages; to start lying about the applicants’ income. One of my contacts who was borrowing money to buy a house at that time told me that on the mortgage applicant’s income—they would write in a number that was considerably above her real income.
GC: Where do you think word was coming down from? Ultimately from Greenspan?
RC: And Bush. The Bush administration and Greenspan. There was collusion between the Bush White House and the Federal Reserve.
GC: Did they know exactly what they were doing?
GC: They had to finance their wars, make up for the tax cuts to the wealthy. …
RC: It was the economic engine of 2001 to 2006. You know, when Eliot Spitzer–just before he had to resign–he came out with a report that said when he was the attorney general in New York, he and the other attorneys general of the state decided that he had to crack down on mortgage fraud. They were prevented from doing so by a regulation that was put out at that time by the US Treasury Department. There’s also a report about Washington Mutual—it was on ABC of all places … all of their risk analysts who had prevented WM from getting caught up in these bad loans were suddenly told to stop—stop monitoring. The word was passed down: start lending at a much higher rate than before. Now, there’s no way these actions can be done without the regulators knowing it … without the Federal Reserve knowing. At some point, the whole system became a fraud to produce the economic engine for the Bush administration.
GC: And did they not know that there would be a reckoning at some point?
RC: What really triggered the collapse? Well, we say that at some point the sub-prime mortgages simply became untenable. But, what triggered that? It was triggered by two things: One is that part of the lending that was done was through these adjustable rate mortgage escalators where your rate was good for two or three years and then you suddenly find yourself paying $1,000 more each month. Borrowers were told, don’t worry, the value of the house will keep rising and you can sell your house and make some money. So, the fraud was built in not only by falsifying income, but through these adjustable rate mortgages (ARMS) that were time-bombs in the system. Allan Greenspan was behind that; he told people these ARMS were fine. Then, knowing that the ARMS were going to explode, the Fed under Greenspan began to raise interest rates in 2006. He started the bubble and then he blew it up.
GC: To protect the assets of the wealthy?
RC: We don’t quite know yet.
GC: And what about inflation and purchasing power? Doesn’t that kick into this also?
RC: Inflation came through the house values.
GC: And the wealthy hate inflation, right? Because it spoils the value of their assets.
RC: The inflation was in housing assets, and the wealthy were the lenders; so they didn’t care. Because once the plug is pulled and these houses are in foreclosure—and we’re over 4 million now since 2006—it’s the wealthy who come in and buy these houses at the crash prices.
GC: Those who have liquid assets.
RC: Yes … or the banks. The banks now own millions of houses.
GC: You talk about a “gap” … and you don’t mean the clothing store. … What is the gap between prices and purchasing power?
RC: This is the whole theory of Keynsian economics. (I learned a lot more about it on my own than I would have learned in college.) Basically, the problem in modern economics is poverty in the midst of plenty. You would think, with modern industrial methods, you could produce enough for everybody. For decades and longer, people would talk about the “leisure dividend”—everything could be mechanized to produce wealth, people won’t have to work so hard, they’ll have more time off … and it just never happened. Poverty in the midst of plenty has plagued our world ever since the Industrial Revolution really got rolling. Keynes set out to explain the problem. I’ll try to make it simple. … Everything that you produce has a price attached to it. You’re going to charge whatever you need to cover your costs and make a little profit. Profits are not high. In most industries, profits run somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. Part of that is paid in dividends and part is saved. The part that is saved is called “retained earnings.” Retained earnings are a necessity. Because of entropy—or the Law of Diminishing Returns. The idea is that, when you produce something, you’re producing at an efficiency rate that can’t be maintained indefinitely. Because, everything you buy, you’re buying at the best price you can get … but, over time, it gets more expensive because the easy stuff to sell comes first; but, over time, you’re going to incur more costs when you sell it. For example, when you hire people to work for you, you’re going to hire the most capable people and they’ll be the most productive. If you hire more people, they’ll probably need more training or are less capable—so you’ve got a Law of Diminishing Returns—your costs are going to rise. So, in order to cover those cost increases, you need to hold back payment (as retained earnings). That means that the money you pay out—that’s the purchasing power of the community; so the prices that the community is going to pay are always going to be higher than the purchasing power. That’s the gap, that’s the gap that I write about.
GC: And the savings–
C: That’s in the bank. And the bank generally lends for asset purchase, not investment. It’s a storage function, it’s not a capital investment function. In fact, in the last 30 years there’s probably been no growth at all in capital investment in the United States. All of the money that’s gone into the banks has gone into asset appreciation—because they make money on capital gains; that’s the chief source of wealth in our modern banking system—capital gains, which means inflation. At any rate, there’s this gap between prices and purchasing power. Keynes said that the whole system can collapse back to purchasing power, but then you’ll develop another gap and the whole system will keep ratcheting down—and that’s called a depression. During the Great Depression, there wasn’t purchasing power in the system to buy what was produced at the price that had to be charged in order to assure the continuation of the process.
GC: Again, there’s something systemic here … in the entropy. Is there any way around this?
RC: Keynes’ solution was to fill the gap by government debt—by pump-priming. Beginning in the 1930’s, we see Roosevelt running government deficits to fund things like job creation, the civil conservation corps, Works Progress Administration—that type of thing. He also used it to capitalize the Reconstruction Finance Corporation which began to lend at very low rates of interest into the private sector and into state and local governments and into the hands of farmers. Roosevelt essentially took over the credit creation function of government, he took it from the banks. The New Deal was created by government deficit financing. Additionally, he had very high marginal tax rates. The rich paid through the nose during the New Deal. … All of this really took off during World War II. The borrowing there shot up to the highest level we’ve ever had. Even today, we’re not that high, though we may get there in the next year or two! Now, another way you can fill the gap is through a positive trade balance. Because if you’ve got money coming into your system because we’re selling more stuff than we import—that becomes income. So, every nation wants to use trade—and that’s why you’ve got trade rivalries—
GC: Beggar your neighbor.
RC: Exactly. And, of course we saw that before World War I when Britain was fighting a trade war with Germany. After World War II, the US had a tremendous surplus in our balance of trade, which we lost in the 60’s and 70’s. So that was another thing that floated the economy. Still another way to close the gap is through economic growth. Because if you can outgrow your gap or outspend it through the velocity of money you can close it. And, you can close the gap through inflation! If you’ve got $100 in debt and you inflate the currency so it’s only worth $80, then it’s easier to pay off. So, inflation has been a bedrock of government fiscal policy since the 30’s. Why does the government have a cost of living every year for social security and for federal employees? Not to keep up with inflation, but to create inflation. Because its cumulative. Even if inflation is only 3 or 4 percent a year, you’re going to create an exponential curve; so, that’s one reason why—yeah, we may have just given away $750 billion to the banks, but we’re going to inflate the currency so much, we’ll get back $200 billion by the time we’re done … Another thing inflation does—and we saw this with the alternative minimum tax—it drives people into a higher tax bracket. … Now, one other thing about the gap—the gap was known when Keynes was writing, and the Social Credit Movement in Britain knew about it fifteen years earlier. Their solution was to fill the gap through dividends. Because the theory is that the gap is going to exist no matter what you do; but you modify it in some way. That’s what borrowing does in today’s system. You borrow money to modify retained earnings.
GC: Now we’re getting deeper into this. … So, monetizing the gap … I have to admit I’m getting a little fuzzy here … I had a conversation with Stephen Shafarman a month or so ago and he explained some of this, but I wondered: Here’s a government which will not finance universal health care, does not invest in education, and yet, Shafarman and you are proposing that this government will give us $1,000 a month for every adult and $500 a month for every child … where’s the money coming from? I thought money was about having some kind of tangible asset behind it—gold or a house, some kind of collateral. And therefore you could say that more money means more value in the asset. But your proposal is based on something else. You’re saying, print the money and give it to everyone. What am I missing?
RC: We’re not talking about money, we’re talking about credit. Credit is the producing potential of an economy. It’s a way of calling forth production. For example, if I give you—and this is why I’m doing it through vouchers, not cash payments because I don’t want people to take their cash and buy lottery tickets—it’s not productive. But if I give you a voucher, let’s say it’s for $10—let’s say it’s a food stamp. You can take that to the market place, and people will raise food because they’ll get $10 from you. That becomes an incentive for them to produce. What you’re doing when you introduce money into circulation this way, you’re monetizing future production—in response to that, people will do something they didn’t do before. This is the way a huge part of the US economy functioned during the 19th century. Gold and silver were monetized then at a ratio of 12 to 1, gold to silver. The government didn’t buy gold and silver and turn it into coins. The government ran a mint. In that mint, people who owned gold or silver—they brought it into the mint, and the mint would then take your gold and they’d stamp it into coins. And the mint would give it back to you—it was a free service. Now, you had a bag of gold bullion and now you have a hundred dollars in gold coins. You then go and spend that into the economy; and because you have gold now and you’re spending it, that incentivizes production; a whole system of production builds up because now there’s something of value that can be earned. This was why, for example, the California Gold Rush became such a spur to production in the US. … This was why the new cyanide process of extracting gold ore around 1900 was such a tremendous economic boon for the world—because it called forth production. It’s the same reason why the mining of gold and silver by the Spanish in the Americas in the 1500s brought into existence the modern productive economy. Because they were bringing gold and silver back. The government didn’t create that. It was brought back as a monetary commodity, and now suddenly people began to produce and produce and produce. The dividend is exactly the same principle. …
GC: Something you said turned a light on in my head. This phrase: “monetizing future production”. … These vouchers represent the future, they are a stake in the future! I’m going to give you this voucher and you’re going to spend it and this is going to call forth future production. So, how come we’re not already doing that?
RC: Because the banks control the system. The banks would rather loan you the money and extract interest from you than give you a voucher. For example, if you go down to U Street here in D.C., and you see the urban blight; if you began to hand out vouchers to the people who live there that place would be transformed—probably in a few months. It would be based on small business, you would have food products coming in, you would have a lot of new things being done. … This actually happened during the 70s when the community services administration was introducing grants into the inner cities to vitalize the local economy. But, as the 70s progressed, and all of those social programs were killed—that’s when the center cities fell back into the poverty that we see today. And when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in the early 70s to a tremendously high level and killed off our producing economy, they did the same to the inner cities by withdrawing a source of credit that had begun to fuel commerce in those areas and had begun to transform our urban landscape.
GC: So, the banks have been making money on the system as it exists. But, now, the banks are in trouble. They’ve come to the taxpayers for a bailout … to perpetuate the whole system.
RC: The banking system is a parasite that is killing the host.
GC: And, this goes back to the Middle Ages. … You’re talking revolution, aren’t you?
GC: And you’re talking real socialism. And maybe you can get into this a little bit because I think Americans are extremely confused about what socialism is. So, we hear this banter on right wing talk radio about how we’re becoming a socialist country because our government is involved in helping the banks, and taking over A.I.G. and so forth. But I say that’s more about National Socialism—which is what Hitler was all about. Or about Corporatism which is what Mussolini called his system—and it’s really Fascism, but you never hear the right using that term. What you’re talking about, I call it socialism with a small “s.” It’s real socialism that helps people where they live; helps them with the essentials and leads to survival and a thriving community.
RC: These right wingers should read Article One of the Constitution. Article One says that Congress shall regulate interstate commerce. It also says that Congress shall coin money and establish the value thereof. That Congress has not just the right, but the duty to regulate the economy, to regulate the monetary system. To what end? Well, then you go back to the Preamble of the Constitution—
GC: “To insure domestic tranquility”—
RC: “and promote the general welfare.” The people who wrote the Constitution knew that to promote the general welfare, Congress—the elected representatives—had to have the right to regulate interstate commerce and to coin money and establish its value. That’s what we’ve thrown away! For the sake of this right-wing, market nonsense that has totally failed and that has produced a catastrophe.
GC: And it works by creating bubbles, bursting bubbles, creating another bubble. …
RC: The banks really began to take over the economy in a big way in the 70s. That was the transition decade.
GC: When we went off the gold standard?
RC: That opened the door to unlimited inflation of money through the petro-dollar, and allowed the dollar to become the world reserve currency. But, also, interest rates began to climb, began to burst, in the 70s. By the end of the Volker recession interest rates were over 20 percent, which destroyed the US producing economy—and that was deliberate. From then on, every period of economic growth in this country has been a bubble!
GC: What you’re calling the “producing economy,” I’ve heard called the “real economy,” as opposed to the financialized economy.
RC: The guy who’s really defined this best is Dr. Michael Hudson. The producing economy is where people like you and I go to work every day and make stuff. The financial economy is money that’s leant into circulation or that is manipulated for profit without any productive value being created. Hudson calls it the FIRE economy—finance, insurance and real estate. The FIRE economy has killed the producing economy.
GC: As we start our last tape, I want to thank you for this tutorial! There’s a lot more we can talk about, but I’m hearing “time’s wing’d chariot” at my ear, so as we move towards the fire exits, let me ask you, since you’re talking revolution, What are you going to do when they come after you?
RC: (Laughs …) I really don’t think about that. I just do what I feel I’m supposed to do.
GC: It’s your moral commitment. …
GC: You did mention that you studied comparative religions at William and Mary, so this is an important part of who you are. And, along those lines, you’ve also thought about what kind of future communities we might be living in in the US in twenty years. … Tell me about your vision of the future.
RC: Well, you can look at it in one of two ways, I think. One is economics that’s based upon the trickle down philosophy that we got starting with the Reagan years, which was that the rich will invest and produce, and the wealth that comes through that will somehow pass down into the hands of working people through jobs. And that whole idea of a top-down economy is not new; this was essentially what medieval feudalism was all about when the rich lived in their manors and had moats around their castles. (Of course, we see that today with our gated communities!) And the poor just fended for themselves. I think we’re going in that direction now. I think our culture is increasingly aristocratic, increasingly about passing wealth to the rich. And no better means of doing that has ever been invented than bank finance, where, through the magic of compound interest, I don’t work anymore but my money works for me; all the wealth of the community is sucked upward through that vortex up to the hands of the people at the top. We’ve seen this before in history, and we’re seeing it now. … The other way is approaching it from the bottom up. It’s giving people who work for a living the ability not only to survive but to flourish. And to do that, there must be a way of providing access to people in the community for wealth creation—for savings, for investment. Why should we do that? Basically, I believe in the concept that all men are created equal, we’re all equal in the eyes of God, and that every human being has a right to live on this earth and to take part in the life that is possible to us through the opportunity to manifest our potential. I’m a democrat with a small “d,” and I think that those periods of history where that has been possible have been the times when America has truly been a great nation.
GC: When were those times?
RC: One was after 1800, when, through the Louisiana Purchase, the whole West was opened up and people were free to go out and establish a farm or a business. We opened ourselves up to immigration to people from all around the world and I think a tremendous force was unleashed for opportunity, for achievement and for genius that we haven’t had since then.
GC: That’s a long time back!
RC: I think the New Deal was that. My family were New Dealers. My parents got their education through New Deal programs. I got mine through the National Defense Education Act; programs were available so that students from the working or middle class could become part of our social life, part of our economy. And, those days are ending. Increasingly, the only students who can go to college are those who have money or can mortgage their futures with these tremendous student loans—and even those loans are disappearing with the credit crisis. I believe that the true genius of the human race can be unlocked from the bottom—from ordinary people being given the opportunity to fulfill their God-given destiny. I think that, essentially, for me, this is what the teaching of Jesus was about. The best economics is the one based on the principle of doing unto your neighbor as you would have them do unto you. You don’t rob from your neighbor, you give to your neighbor. And I believe our present economic system is robbing from our neighbor. Taking what belongs from them, and essentially enslaving your neighbor into working not for him and his posterity and his family, but for you—because you’re the one who is living off the fat of the land through your compound interest, your financial lending system and all that comes with it.
GC: I agree with you, but let me play devil’s advocate. What I hear, more and more, is that we can’t afford this; because we have to compete with China, India. How can we possibly compete? They have so many more people; they can work so much cheaper. So, how does your system make sense in this emerging world market?
RC: We don’t have to compete with anybody. The reason that China and India appear so competitive is that they’re so poor to begin with. They’re able to throw millions of laborers into making our Christmas tree ornaments! For them to grow from abject poverty to where a portion of them are approaching middle class status looks like great economic growth. And because they’re willing to work so cheaply they can under-price us—if we’re dependent upon a competitive market place in order to earn the money that we need to keep our economy afloat because we’re so in debt to ourselves or our banking system that we can’t produce at that same level of efficiency. Now, a dividend-based economy … well, take farming for example: right now our family farm is dead; a family farm can’t afford to compete in the market place. But, if we were able to monetize our farming economy through dividends where you had the vouchers I’ve been talking about and you could take them down to the farmers’ market, if you could feed money into the system from that source—that would allow people who can’t afford to farm today to begin farming again. … So, the only reason you have these competitive relations between nations is because you have a global economy based upon top-down bank-financing which ultimately is usury and ultimately sucks the cream off the top of the productive system for the benefit and profit of the bankers, the bond-holders, the interest holders—and it impoverishes everyone else. Essentially you’ve got a bunch of starving people in China competing against a bunch of starving people in India competing against a bunch of people who soon are going to be starving in America to get that slight edge in order to allow a top-down, debt-based monetary system to live off the fat of the land. Once you get rid of that system and introduce currency at the grass-roots level, you create a whole new economic paradigm that will change everything. And, you’re right. It’s a political revolution … because the only reason we don’t do that today is because of the increasing power in the hands of the financiers and the politicians they own.
GC: So how are we going to overturn this system? What’s it going to take? A Russian revolution? 20 million dead?
RC: Actually, the Russian revolution was a bankers’ revolution. Lenin and Trotsky were financed by Rothschild and Rockefeller and the big New York banks. Actually, the Romanovs did not have a central bank, the way there was a Federal Reserve or a Bank of England. The Russian economy was being financed by indigenous land banks out in the Russian countryside that would lend based on land mortgages at very little rates of interest. That was creating what was becoming one of the strongest economies in the world. And the Bolsheviks essentially made an agreement with the bankers in the West: if you finance us, we’ll put a central bank in Russia that you will own—and that’s exactly what happened. And Russia afterwards became dependent on Western banking and commerce. In fact, one of the biggest supporters of the growth of Russian industry under Stalin was the Rockefellers. The Rockefellers were granted leases in the Baku oilfields around the Caspian—
GC: Oh man!
RC: Yeah, it’s all very. … So, the kind of revolution I’m talking about is a monetary revolution that would place purchasing power directly in the hands of the people for them to spend as they wish at the local level. Then, once you begin to produce in that way, you do create a certain level of savings, and that savings can then capitalize true capital markets where people pool their resources and savings. We don’t have true capital markets anymore—that kind of pooling of resources by average people where they can make investments. What we have instead is speculators buying stocks on margin or buying whole companies through equity purchases on margin where 90-95%–or more–of capital used in the system is bank leveraging; it’s speculative money that has polluted and poisoned the capital markets.
GC: I understand what you’re saying about a peaceful monetary revolution. But … they’re not going to turn it over to you and to me.
RC: The people have to demand it!
GC: They’ll shoot us in the streets!
RC: I don’t have an answer for this. I can see in the last two years a big change in the number of people who have begun to see things in this way and to identify the banking and financial systems as the root of the problem. I think Ron Paul had a lot to do with it. He’s introduced legislation to abolish the Federal Reserve system. And, the Libertarians, as misguided as some of their solutions are—like, for example, the idea of returning to the gold standard, which is just a red herring—at least they have the idea that the people are capable of running their own affairs without government oversight or interference. That’s one reason I like the Alaska Permanent Fund so much. During the 70s when they were setting this up, the state government wanted to take these royalties from the oil companies and then distribute them to the people through social programs, etc. And there was an outcry among the people: Just give us the money and we’ll decide how to spend it! There was no reason to go through the government bureaucracies and then disburse the money to the people through means testing, etc. The Alaskans had a referendum, and now every year a cash payment is made to every resident there. This last year the payment was $3,269 per resident. Now, if you’re in a household with 4 people, you’re making $13,000 cash, a substantial amount of money that Alaskans have given to them to do whatever they want! There’s no reason why we can’t do that—or even more—for every resident of the United States. And that’s what we should be demanding. People shouldn’t be going up to Congress for more social programs. … When Bush gave out the $600 rebate during the second quarter of 2008, that’s one of the few right things he ever did. That’s what prevented the economy from going into recession during the second quarter. Even that piddling amount. We’ve got substantial movement in this country through the Basic Income Guarantee movement, through Shafarman’s movement, we’ve got the same thing in Europe; we have countries in Latin America which are moving in this direction. There is awareness that can be built on. But at some point the current has to tip in favor of the people over the banks. Who will run the economy of the world—the people who work and hope and sweat and have aspirations, or is it the banks that suck the life out of every economy they’ve ever been associated with? At a certain point people just have to say they’ve had enough. One way or another that’s happening. A lot of people are defaulting on their credit card debts, for example. My daughter was paying over 28% on her cards. She can’t pay it anymore. She doesn’t have the money. They’re gonna kill the economy; they’re gonna kill people who can’t continue to work to support the financial controllers. Something has to change. And if they drive the country into a collapse—and they will—then at some point, people who have the ability to say no are going to have to do it. Through whatever means is available.
GC: You think it’s imminent, or will they manage to pull themselves out again?
RC: I can’t see the system being rescued. Because it’s spread globally. The credit system has collapsed because people cannot pay their loans any more. I mean, if we have a winter where the grocery stores can’t put food on their shelves, people will be starving in this country. There’s already 35 million who are “nutritionally deprived”—the term they use nowadays. Food stamps applications are growing tremendously. Surplus food has declined. Something’s gotta give. This could become tragically serious in one to two years. Unless something is done to revitalize the local, producing economies.
GC: I think we’re especially vulnerable in the winter months.
RC: We could see real starvation coming in the next one to two years. The current level of population in the US exists because of our industrial economy. If that economy collapses, so will our population.
GC: Which has more than doubled in our lifetime.
RC: Yeah. The people who run our government understand the dangers, but they don’t know how to fix it because they’ve been taken over by this cancer which is the financial system.
GC: Maybe they understand, but they’re so vested in it, they’re like the people at NASA—they don’t want to stop it.
RC: I think that’s fair.
GC: Well, on that grim note, I guess we can wrap this up. Now, to go even deeper into this, the good folks ought to read your forthcoming book. The title was?
RC: WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS: THE HOPE OF MONETARY REFORM.
GC: And the press?
RC: Tendril Press.
GC: Thank you very much, Rick. You’ve given us a lot to ponder—and to act on!
Richard C. Cook is the author of Challenger Revealed, and the forthcoming, We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform. His work is widely disseminated on the Internet. Gary Corseri has published novels and poetry collections, had plays produced on Atlanta-PBS and elsewhere, and has performed at the Carter Presidential Library. His work is widely disseminated on the Net.
What “incredibly tough” foreign policy actions is Obama preparing?
By Patrick Martin
22 October 2008
In remarks made over the weekend in Seattle, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden warned that Barack Obama, if elected president, would be compelled to take deeply unpopular actions in both domestic and foreign policy within months of taking office.
In closed-door gatherings with two audiences of Democratic Party insiders and fundraisers, Biden forecast a major international crisis in the first six months of an Obama administration.
He compared Obama to John F. Kennedy, the last senator to be elected president. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy,” Biden said. “The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Watch. We’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”
Biden mentioned the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea and Russia as potential points of conflict, but did not spell out the exact nature of such a crisis, observing, “I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate.” He made it clear that Obama would respond forcefully: “They’re going to want to test him. And they’re going to find out this guy’s got steel in his spine.”
The most politically significant portion of Biden’s remarks came when he admitted that the decisions of an Obama-Biden administration were likely to be deeply unpopular, and he called on the Democratic Party regulars to stand behind the new president even when public opinion turned against him.
“He’s going to need help,” Biden said. “He’s going to need you—not financially to help him—we’re going to need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not going to be apparent initially, it’s not going to be apparent that we’re right.”
He continued, “There are going to be a lot of you who want to go, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don’t know about that decision.’ Because if you think the decision is sound when they’re made, which I believe you will when they’re made, they’re not likely to be as popular as they are sound. Because if they’re popular, they’re probably not sound.”
Here is the voice of a longtime representative of the financial aristocracy, voicing his contempt for public opinion—”if decisions are popular, they’re probably not sound”—and warning his wealthy audience that the new Obama-Biden administration will have to defy public opinion to carry out its policies. Biden’s language suggests that the ferocity of the new administration’s response will shock not only public opinion, but even its own supporters.
In that context, one must point out Biden’s suggestions that nuclear weapons might play a role in one or more of the potential crises. A nuclear-armed Korean Peninsula could lead to “Japan as a nuclear power,” he said, which could push China into expanding its nuclear weaponry. The Pakistan-Afghanistan border is “crawling with Al Qaeda” and “Pakistan is already bristling with nuclear weapons, all of which can hit Israel.” Biden also noted Iran’s alleged drive to build a nuclear weapon.
Foreign policy journals and pundits linked to the Democratic Party have undoubtedly been discussing many such doomsday scenarios, and Biden’s language suggests that the use of the US nuclear arsenal, the world’s largest, is under consideration by those who are formulating the foreign and military policy of an Obama-Biden administration.
Biden himself has been one of the most hawkish on foreign policy among leading congressional Democrats, backing the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and advocating a US-led military intervention in Darfur. During the Democratic presidential primary campaign, he was the most vociferous of all the candidates in denouncing antiwar protest groups seeking a cutoff of funds for the war in Iraq.
Biden’s expectation of widespread popular hostility to an Obama administration applies not only to foreign and military policy, but to domestic policy. He told the Seattle audience, “I promise you, you all are going to be sitting here a year from now going, ‘Oh my God, why are they there in the polls, why is the polling so down, why is this thing so tough?’ We’re going have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years.”
The Democratic candidate did not spell out the exact nature of these “incredibly tough decisions,” other than to refer to the financial and economic crisis and two wars being bequeathed by the Bush administration to its successor.
In the wake of these blunt and ominous comments, there have been disingenuous attempts to explain them away from both parties.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain seized on the suggestion that foreign enemies might seek to test an inexperienced President Obama, citing his own military and foreign policy expertise going back more than 50 years. Right-wing pundits went further, suggesting, as one put it, that “Biden is forecasting inaction by Obama in the face of testing by a dictator.”
This interpretation is preposterous, especially given Biden’s own record as a fervent supporter of US military intervention. Obama’s selection of the Delaware senator as his running mate was itself an effort to reassure the political establishment of his commitment to defend the interests of American imperialism by military force.
The Obama campaign sought to shrug off Biden’s remarks as a mere historical generalization, triggered by the Obama-Kennedy analogy, not a prediction of impending crisis. A campaign spokesman said Biden was referring to Kennedy’s confrontation with Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev in summit talks in Vienna, a few months after he took office—although these talks took place after a US military provocation—the invasion of Cuba by US-trained exiles who were defeated at the Bay of Pigs.
An Obama administration would not be an “innocent abroad,” picked on by dictators out to “test the mettle” of a US president. American imperialism continues from administration to administration, Democratic or Republican. If elected, Obama will take office heading the world’s largest military machine, engaged in violent provocations in dozens of countries, any of which could flare up unexpectedly, especially under the impact of the deepening world economic crisis.
Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination by presenting himself as the more consistent antiwar candidate, and the Democratic ticket in public pledges to end the war in Iraq and adopt a less militaristic stance. But behind closed doors, before select audiences of the financial and political elite, Biden has given a glimpse of the real perspective of the Democratic wing of American imperialism
COLLATERAL DAMAGE IS OK, IF CIVILIANS REFUSE TO FOLLOW ARMY ORDERS AND VACATE THEIR HOMES.
The effort in Afghanistan is going to be the longest campaign of the long war.” — Gen. David Petraeus
The Global War On Terror is an awkward name with the terribly appropriate acronym of GWOT. Those who believe in the romance of war prefer “The Long War” as a name for our current military misadventures against Islamic jihadists. It resonates better in speeches and looks better when printed on a page, and that’s important when selling a war to a nation. There’s no glory in a GWOT, but a Long War evokes the full range of Hollywood war imagery that most Americans have grown to love. As George Carlin always liked to point out, Americans are pretty much a war-like people; we have a war with somebody every few years, so we must like wars. We paid billions of dollars to maintain 761 active military bases in 151 foreign countries this year. We support our troops when they are at war, even when we don’t understand why they’re being sent to fight and to die. And we talk about the invasion and occupation of Iraq as if it were a justifiable war, even though our government broke about a dozen national and international laws when it dropped the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign onto the city of Baghdad.
In May of 2007, 126 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq during a year when U.S. forces averaged nearly four deaths per day. Last month 25 American troops were killed; casualties have dropped to an average of one death per day this year. This represents progress to some people — a sign that we’re “winning” against the resistance to our occupation.
All it really means is that 25 more American citizens died somewhere they never should have been. A true sign of progress would be soldiers coming home to stay, but that isn’t happening yet. When the number of U.S. troops stationed in Iraq does begin to drop, however, it won’t necessarily mean that they’re coming home.
In Afghanistan, coalition forces lost 232 soldiers in 2007, the most in one year since fighting began in 2001. Today, in mid-October, that death toll is already 247 for this year and rising.
Both presidential candidates have said that they’ll continue to send more young men and women into Afghanistan, where some of them will die. Of course, the candidates don’t actually say that; they talk about increasing our troop levels in order to take the battle to the enemy, or some other more appropriate phrasing that doesn’t fully acknowledge the violence and death those troops will endure.
So we know that U.S. troops will be dying in the sands of Iraq for at least more two years after GWB walks away from the White House in January and boards a plane bound for Texas. We know that U.S. troops will still be fighting in the mountain valleys of Afghanistan when the 2012 presidential elections come around.
And that, after all, was part of the Cheney/Rumsfeld invasion plan all along. That’s why those six “enduring camps” in the desert sand, whose construction started immediately after the occupation began, are now acknowledged as full-service air bases that will “endure” for a very long time indeed.
And yet American soldiers will never be welcome on the streets of Iraq by the descendants of the ancient tribal divisions of Mesopotamia, who have long memories and intentions of their own. A significant number of Iraqi people prefer to work out their own destiny without any further outside interference.
It seems as if we’ve forgotten that the people of Iraq are very much like us. We forget that so many have suffered agonizing losses — though no fault of their own. And we don’t seem to understand how many innocents die when our weapons go astray in towns and villages.
Two dozen American soldiers killed each month is a tragedy, but those are small numbers when compared to the number of people — men, women and children, young and old, the innocent along with the guilty — who are killed every month by American weapons in Iraqi and Afghanistan. It’s impossible to know the true numbers, but it’s safe to say that for each U.S. soldier killed in action there have been at least five innocent children killed by mistake.
After five long years, every village, town and city in Iraq and Afghanistan has been deeply affected by sudden, violent death inflicted upon them by Sunni militias or Shia mobs or jihadist bombs — and also by American air strikes.
According to the Afghani government, two U.S. bomb and rocket attacks in July in the northern provinces killed 62 civilians, including a wedding party of mostly women and children. U.S. military investigators concede that more than 30 civilians died in American air strikes on Aug. 22 against a suspected Taliban compound in Azizabad, a village in western Afghanistan.
They raised their initial estimate of 5-7 civilian deaths after seeing numerous bodies pulled out of the rubble of exploded buildings. That’s still far below the number of 90 victims that Afghani and U.N. officials claim is supported by cellphone photos, fresh graves and witnesses who saw the bodies. “Such acts provoke public hatred towards internal and foreign forces and force people to join the enemy who encourages them to carry out terrorist and suicide attacks,” read an editorial in the Afghani Hewad newspaper.
“The Americans will soon face new resistance with new motives if they continue such operations and do not care even a little about the lives of the people,” the daily Anis wrote. Both newspapers are controlled by the government, so their editorial positions reflect the official state position on all issues.
The kind of problems we’re creating in the Middle East go far beyond the accidental deaths that are inevitable in urban warfare. We’ve used cluster bombs and white phosphorus and depleted uranium as weapons, and we’ve used them against civilians — most often by mistake, but there were no mistakes to be made when U.S. forces sought to regain control of the city of Fallujah for the second time in November of 2004.
U.S. military statements at the time reflected a belief that perhaps 5,000 insurgents were hiding among the 300,000 residents of Fallujah. A direct military decision was made to punish the city for stubbornly resisting the occupation and for harboring those insurgents.
The assault was preceded by eight weeks of aerial bombardment. U.S. troops cut off the city’s water, power and food supplies. Two-thirds of the city’s 300,000 residents fled, most of them landing in squatters’ camps without basic facilities.
Anyone left in town once the fighting began was considered to be hostile and a legitimate target. Unit commanders later revealed their troops had orders to shoot all males of fighting age seen on the streets, armed or unarmed. Most of the buildings were leveled, including residential neighborhoods, and an unknown number of children were killed simply because their families didn’t get out in time. By the end of operations, much of the city lay in ruins. Seventy percent of the buildings were damaged, including 30,000 homes. Another 5,000 homes were totally destroyed. Dozens of mosques and schools were hit by rockets or mortar rounds or cannon shells.
Relief agencies and Iraqi medical workers estimate that at least 7,000 people died as a result of Operation Phantom Fury. Most of the dead were young or middle-aged men and presumed to be fighters, but there were a lot of funerals held for women and children after the battle quieted down. Mortar teams fired thousands of rounds of high explosives and white phosphorus bombs into the city for 48 hours before the street fighting began. They never saw what they hit and they had no idea what damage was being done — they were given coordinates over the radio and they targeted their mortars accordingly.
In March of 2005, Field Artillery Magazine published “The Fight for Fallujah,” an article that openly discussed the use of white phosphorous. A former soldier was quoted as saying, “WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and high explosives to take them out.”
The Geneva Protocol bans the use of white phosphorous, “since its use causes indiscriminate and extreme injuries especially when deployed in an urban area.” White phosphorous bombs and rockets were used in Fallujah by our own government’s admission. “Willie Pete,” the soldiers call it. The DOD claims it was used only for illumination purposes, but Iraqi Health Ministry officials reported finding bodies with melted flesh. Willie Pete does that to people, as does napalm.
Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli was the head of the Iraqi Ministry of Health in Fallujah in 2004. He was reported as stating that “… research, prepared by his medical team, prove that U.S. forces used internationally prohibited substances, including mustard gas, nerve gas, napalm and other burning chemicals in their attacks on the war-torn city.”
Dr Shaykhli’s claims are echoed in eyewitness accounts of the street fighting, stating that “…all forms of nature were wiped out in Fallujah” and “…hundreds of dogs, cats, and birds had perished as a result of those gasses” and “…an unidentified chemical was used in the bombing raids that killed every living creature in certain areas of the city.”
That’s the real legacy of the neoconservative movement’s decision to use full military power and “take the gloves off” as we journey “over to the darker side” in our international struggle against violent extremists. In the process, we are making just as many enemies among the people of Iraq and Afghanistan as the Taliban and Al-Queda are.
And so we have The Long War to Keep America Safe. It will always be fought on foreign soil. And innocent foreign children will continue pay the ultimate price of our pursuit of the illusion of safety.
The Arabic-language TV channel al-Arabiya has recently broadcast an interview with Abdul Malik Rigi, the ringleader of the terrorist group Jundollah, which has been active in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan.
The satellite channel also aired footage showing the execution of the Iranian hostages that had been held by the terrorist group. The gruesome pictures were aired without the consideration of the fact that the hostages’ families might be watching the TV channel.
Broadcasting violent pictures is considered a blatant violation of journalistic standards even if there were not any concerns about the hostages’ families, and many TV channels have so far been boycotted for such unprofessional acts.
Al-Arabiya has also been using the term ‘Popular Resistance Movement of Iran’ to name a terrorist organization which according to its leader comprises of nearly 200 gunmen and resembles a criminal gang rather than a political movement. There is no need to be reminded that using the term ‘Popular Resistance Movement of Iran’ may mislead the public into believing that the group represents the Iranian people.
Hassan Fahs, the former head of al-Arabiya’s Tehran office, whose visa was not renewed by Iranian officials, had previously admitted that the satellite station had been providing a ‘special coverage’ of the Jundullah story. He has defended the performance of his news outlet and described it as ‘completely professional’. Of course, nobody asked ‘this professional journalist,’ why al-Arabiya’s reporter never posed the question about how a gang of nearly 200 unpopular bandits could topple one of the most powerful governments of the Middle East.
Let us honestly answer this question: if one of the Iranian-based TV channels aired an interview with Osama bin Laden, wouldn’t we see American tanks marching on the streets of Iranian cities?
In a world where a US Senator proposes that the Iranian Arab-language TV channel al-Alam be blacklisted as a terrorist organization simply because of broadcasting an interview in which a man had ‘threatened a US warship in his remarks,’ no one blames al-Arabiya for its interview with this ‘petty terrorist’, who ran a show of hostage execution. Instead, the satellite channel has been lauded for its professionalism.
Al-Arbaiya TV channel, which belongs to the MBC group and at least is partially funded by the Saudi Royal family, certainly has humane motivations. It is ‘concerned’ about Iran’s Sunni minority who freely practice their religion in the country. It is, of course, humane to ignore Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority, whose members live in a country in which you are not authorized to be anything but a Sunni Muslim.
Shia means trouble, so who cares if no Shia Muslim in Saudi Arabia dares pray based on his or her religion in public.
It was humane motivations that prompted the MBC group to launch a Persian language movie channel which screens ‘Alexander the Great’, the success story of an arch foe of the Persian Empire, who has been known as ‘Gojastak’ (damned or evil) among Iranians over his atrocities in the country.
All Saudi-sponsored measures against Iran and Iranians have been based on philanthropic motivations and the moral principles of the great teachers of ethics like Machiavelli: when we see nobody buys our thoughts and we are losing our leverage in the region, forget humanity, deal a blow to your rival, no matter how unfair your tactic is.
One cannot also ignore the role of Pakistan’s intelligence service (I.S.I) in Rigi’s show. While a ‘simple al-Arabiya reporter’ can easily find Rigi in ‘Iran’s mountains’ (note: Iran’s Mountains is the name of a range of mountains in Pakistan!), how is it that Pakistani security apparatus with its sophisticated equipments and tactics does not know anything about the whereabouts of Rigi, bin Laden, Taliban leaders and tens of other criminals. Even an average person with an average IQ knows that fighting for years (as we have seen in the case of the Taliban) is impossible without logistical, military and intelligence support from a foreign country.
The interesting point is that I.S.I– a shadowy entity which has always been as a government within the government and nobody knows who is in charge of it– is financially supported by Saudi Arabia.
Yet nobody poses the question why we could see the traces of ‘the Kingdom’ in almost all major terrorist activities in the region.
Isn’t it Saudi Arabia that promotes a version of ‘Islam’ which sanctions the execution of prisoners of war, a heinous practice against all Islamic values?
It was just a few years ago that Prince Bandar bin Sultan a.k.a Bandar Bush, (one the best friends of Bush) was widely accused by the media of brokering a deal with al-Qaeda under which Saudi’s would funnel millions of dollars to the terror network ‘to prevent the group from carrying out operations inside the oil-rich kingdom’.
We can easily realize Saudi’s role in supporting the Taliban, a savage group which did not respect the world’s cultural heritage, massacred Hazara civilians over their religious beliefs and showed that it is not committed to any international norms and regulations.
Based on confirmed reports, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, is believed to have had dealings with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan before the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Saudi Arabia is reportedly to mediate the talks between the Taliban and the West. The negotiations would certainly be a black record for the West which has always been adopting the policy of appeasement in dealing with tyrannical regimes, dictators and terrorists throughout history.
The Saudis have had a hand in the recent violence in Lebanon involving Salafi groups. Of course, it is still wise to be aware of ‘the Shia threat’ and join forces with those who are complaining about conspiracies to form an imaginary ‘Shia Crescent’ in the Middle East.
Isn’t there anyone out there to ask who are the real sponsors of terrorism, those who make deals with terrorists across the world or those who are guilty of supporting the Palestinian and Lebanese nations?
Isn’t it true that each petrodollar that Saudi Arabia earns will eventually turns into a bullet to penetrate the body of an innocent or a bomb that would fill the graves with bodies of children and women?
Who does not know that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are a product of the opportunistic policies of Carter, Kissinger, Reagan and other Western politicians plus Saudi money? Of course, there should be an al-Qaeda, otherwise how could the neocons wage their quixotic crusade? How could the West find a pretext to justify its discriminative approach to a Muslim minority in ‘the democratic West’ and the violation of civilian rights and privacy?
Oh, and don’t forget! Everything has a reasonable explanation: we have good terrorists and bad terrorists. Sponsors of terrorism are also categorized into good and bad ones. The good terrorism-sponsors are princes with petrodollars in their pockets and the bad ones are those who call for a referendum in occupied Palestine.
You can run a kingdom in which no woman are allowed to drive or vote and of course nobody will be concerned about human rights situations in the country, because you are a good violator of human rights. You also can choose to live in a republic, a bad violator of human rights, in which women can vote, drive and lead a normal life.
It is easy to be a good human rights violator, just smile at the White House. Try this formula and you will never look back.
In this way you could keep your nukes while witnessing big powers fighting each other over selling advanced nuclear technology to you. Otherwise, even running a nuclear power plant might be dangerous.
By Chris Morris
BBC News, North West Frontier Province
People complain they have lost everything
In a school compound on the outskirts of the town of Nowshera, more than 1,000 people are getting used to a new life.
Living in tents under a sweltering sun, these are the frontline victims of the war on terror.
“It’s so hot here,” said one young man. “We come from the mountains and we’re not used to it.”
They have fled from a huge Pakistani military operation against Islamist militants in the Bajaur tribal area near the border with Afghanistan.
As many as 300,000 people have fled from their homes in a matter of weeks.
We’ve had hostility with India for 60 years and they’ve never bombed us. Now our own government is bombing us with F16s and helicopters. Where does this cruelty and injustice come from?
Some are staying with friends and family in safer areas, but many are relying on temporary camps and assistance from NGOs and the government.
It is a huge challenge.
Water and cooking utensils are being handed out, and tents are sprayed to give some protection against malaria.
An appeal has been made for millions of dollars in aid to help provide food and shelter for people who arrived here with almost nothing.
Understandably, they are bewildered and angry.
“We’ve lost our cattle, all our possessions, all our crops – we’ve lost everything,” complained Niaz Mohammad.
Stop the bombing, stop trying to please America
“We’ve had hostility with India for 60 years and they’ve never bombed us. Now our own government is bombing us with F16s and helicopters. Where does this cruelty and injustice come from?”
“[President Pervez] Musharraf is finished, and this is supposed to be the people’s government,” said Dost Mohammad. “So why hasn’t the war come to an end?”
One of the reasons is that as the Pakistani Taleban’s sphere of influence has expanded, the border region has become a sanctuary for groups linked to al-Qaeda.
The authorities in the North West Frontier Province said that if a military operation had not been launched this month in Bajaur, the area would have been over-run by “Arab, Chechen and Uzbek militants”.
It is the influence of foreign fighters and al-Qaeda that really worries people.
Bajaur has always been one of the places suggested as a possible hiding place for Osama Bin Laden.
I’ve never seen any militants or any government officials dying. It’s people like us – the ordinary man – he’s the one who’s dying
And as a result, many people who have fled from Bajaur feel trapped.
There is little support expressed in the camp for the local Taleban or for their foreign allies.
Sami Khan studied in England for four years before returning home.
Now he has been forced to flee in a hurry.
“It’s a fight between militants and the government,” he said.
“But the thing is I’ve never seen any militants or any government officials dying. It’s people like us – the ordinary man – he’s the one who’s dying.”
Niaz Mohammad wants to know why they have been forced out
And no-one knows quite when it will be safe for them to go back to their villages.
The school in Nowshera is due to reopen soon, so the displaced may have to move on again.
The instability in the tribal areas is spreading into the rest of the country in more dangerous ways as well.
The Taleban has said the double suicide bombing last week, killing more than 60 people outside Pakistan’s main arms factory, was in direct retaliation for the military offensive in Bajaur.
So among the newly displaced in the school field, there is a simple suggestion.
“Stop the bombing, stop trying to please America,” said Abdur Rehman. “The money that Pakistan gets for this will come and go, but the people won’t forgive them. If the people’s hearts are broken, they won’t forget.”
Among these tents, and in this heat, it will be an uphill battle for the government to persuade its citizens that the war against extremism is their war, too.