The most promising trend in geopolitics is the transition from hydrocarbon-based economies to knowledge-based societies. Leadership for that change is emerging from Arab nations.
The appeal of the Knowledge Society is apparent. Who could object to nations preparing their citizens for the 21st century? Yet unless knowledge is changed, the result could worsen an already dangerous situation.
The sharing of values and knowledge has long been the best way to bridge cultures and promote peace. That strategy is now essential to counter the success of those promoting The Clash of Civilizations.
Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are breaking new ground with education models that build on state-of-the-art information and communication technologies.
This is the inevitable path for the Middle East and North Africa. Yet despite the best of intentions, if knowledge itself is not changed, the impact on Arab societies could aggravate trends that undermine progress.
Just consider the costs when knowledge is corrupted….
How Zionists Corrupt Knowledge
Those who induced the U.S. to war in the Middle East deployed knowledge like a weapon. With lengthy pre-staging, a narrative emerged that made it appear plausible—even desirable—to invade Iraq in response to the provocation of 911.
In retrospect, we now know that the knowledge on which the U.S. relied was false. All of it.
Iraqi WMD. Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda. Iraqi meetings in Prague with Al Qaeda. Iraqi yellowcake uranium from Niger. Iraqi mobile biological laboratories. All false, all traceable to pro-Israelis and all portrayed as true by media outlets dominated by pro-Israelis.
The Knowledge Society holds great potential to connect the Arab world globally. And to build with the West cross-border understanding and empathy. That is the Knowledge Society at its best. At its worse, knowledge can be exploited to manipulate behavior.
The ongoing manipulation of thought and emotion in the U.S. typifies the danger. When Arab nations grasp the common source of the false knowledge that brought war to the region, both the perils and the promise of the Knowledge Society will become apparent.
Yet even the risk of being seduced to war understates the threat. In the modern era, psychological operations (“psy-ops”) are routinely deployed to create consensus opinions and generally accepted truths—akin to the truth of Iraqi WMD.
The modern-day battlefield is the shared field of consciousness. Where else could consensus opinions reside? Or generally accepted truths. There too are found “field-based” phenomena such as credibility and celebrity that are also deployed to exploit thought and emotion.
When waging field-based warfare, the power of association ranks near the top as effective weaponry. For example, with global public opinion the target, Zionists arranged for U.N. testimony in February 2003 by Secretary of State Colin Powell who vouched for intelligence showing that Iraq had mobile biological weapons laboratories.
When the U.N. Security Council and a global television audience watched the testimony of this former four-star general, what they saw was his reputation for honesty. By the power of association, his credibility “bled over” to grant legitimacy to phony intelligence.
General Powell was only a celebrity prop in an elaborately staged play meant to enhance the plausibility of a global war on terrorism. That war began six weeks later.
Where other than in plain sight could such duplicity succeed? You can be watching field-based warfare and still not see it.
Even now, Powell may not yet grasp how two field-based properties (credibility and celebrity) were key to the psy-ops that seduced the U.S. to war for an Israeli agenda.
Freedom from Deceit
Mental and emotional exploitation lie at the heart of how knowledge is corrupted to catalyze conflicts, manipulate behavior and influence affairs from afar.
With a solid grasp of the methodology of deceit, the Knowledge Society can expose and, by design, displace those complicit in this cunning form of combat.
In preparing for the 21st Century, Arab nations have an opportunity to free their citizens from the exploitation of those who for centuries have abused knowledge for their selfish ends.
Much of that abuse now proceeds through the unfettered freedom allowed finance. Educated over decades in a “consensus” mindset, lawmakers worldwide now believe in financial freedom as a proxy for personal freedom—regardless of the real-world results.
For the Knowledge Society to realize its potential, modern-day information and communication technologies must make these various forms of duplicity apparent and the perpetrators transparent.
Only with widespread knowledge of how facts can be displaced with false beliefs can the Knowledge Society be protected from such treachery.
Jeff Gates is author of Guilt By Association—How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War. See www.criminalstate.com
By Robert Jensen
25 February, 2011
Our stories of awakenings — whether moral, intellectual, religious, artistic, or sexual — are tricky. Honest self-reflection doesn’t come easy, and self-satisfied accounts are the norm; we love to be the heroes of our own epics.
That’s true of accounts of political awakening as well, especially for those of us born into unearned privilege as a result of systems of illegitimate authority. Not only do we love to tell stories in which we come out looking good, but we know how to decorate the narrative with the trappings of humility to avoid seeming arrogant. We use our failures to set up the story of our transformation; even when we speak of our limitations we are highlighting our wisdom in seeing those limitations.
So, when I got a request from a researcher to tell my story about how my political consciousness was raised, I was hesitant. I don’t like feeling like a fraud, and something always feels a bit fraudulent about my account, even when I am being as honest as I can. But, like most people, I feel driven to tell my story, mostly to try to explain myself to myself. So, here I go again:
As a teenager coming of age in the 1970s in mainstream culture in the upper Midwest, I missed the United States’ radicalizing movements by a decade and several hundred miles. I developed conventional liberal politics in reaction to the conventional conservative politics of my father and his generation. But in a more basic sense, I grew up depoliticized — like most contemporary Americans, I was never taught to analyze systems and structures of power, and so my banal liberal positions seemed like cutting edge critique to me. After college I worked as a journalist at mainstream newspapers, which further retarded my ability to think critically about power; reporters who don’t have a political consciousness coming into the field are unlikely to develop one in an industry that claims neutrality but is fanatically devoted to the conventional wisdom.
The raising of my consciousness began when I started a journalism/mass communication doctoral program in 1988, a time when U.S. universities were somewhat more intellectually and politically open than today. After years of the daily grind in newsrooms, I felt liberated by the freedom to read, think, and talk to others about all the new ideas I was encountering. My study of the First Amendment led me to the feminist critique of pornography, which at the time was an important focus for debate about the meaning of freedom of expression. My first graduate courses were taught by liberal defenders of pornography, who were the norm in the academy then and now. But I also began talking with activists in a local group that was fighting the sexual-exploitation industries (pornography, prostitution, stripping), and I realized there was a rich, complex, and exciting feminist critique, which required me to rethink what I thought I knew about freedom, choice, and liberation.
As a result of those first conversations, I started reading feminist work and taking feminist classes, and I kept talking with folks from the community group, which led me to get involved in their educational activities. I didn’t make those choices with any sense that I was constructing a radical philosophical and political framework. I was just following the ideas that seemed the most compelling intellectually and the people who seemed the most decent personally. Those ad hoc decisions changed my life, in two ways.
First, they opened up to me an alternative to the suffocating conventional wisdom, in which liberals and conservatives argue within narrow ideological boundaries. This exposure to feminist thinking, especially those people and ideas most commonly described as radical feminist, allowed me to step outside those boundaries and ask two simple questions: Where does real power lie and how does it operate, in both formal institutions and informal arrangements?
Second, they helped me realize the importance of always having a political life outside the university. Instead of putting all my energy into my teaching and research, I was anchored in a community project and connected to people who weren’t preoccupied with publishing marginally relevant research in marginally relevant academic journals. Although I had to publish scholarly articles for my first six years as an assistant professor, once I got tenure and job security I immediately returned to community organizing and ignored the pseudo-intellectual pretensions that dominate in most of the so-called scholarly world in the social sciences and humanities. I had developed respect for rigorous and relevant scholarship but had come to realize how little of it there was in my fields in the contemporary academy.
From those first inquiries into the sexual-exploitation industries and the role of a pornographic culture in men’s violence, I continued to think about how power is organized and operates around other dimensions of our identities and statuses in the world. After opening the gender door, it was inevitable that I would have to open the race door. From there, questions about the inherent economic injustice in capitalism and the violence required for U.S. imperial domination of the world became central. Finally, I began thinking more about how human domination of the living world is destroying the ecosphere’s capacity to sustain life as we know it.
All of those inquiries led me to the same conclusion: We live in a world structured by illegitimate hierarchies and based on a domination/subordination dynamic. For those of us with unearned privilege, the rewards for ignoring this conclusion are whatever status and money we can squeeze out of the system, while the cost of capitulation to power is a surrender of some essential part of our humanity. More than 20 years after embarking on this investigation, I can see that clearly. But when I first started confronting these issues, I only knew that the conventional wisdom seemed inadequate, that the platitudes uttered by people in power seemed empty, and that the rationalizations offered by the intellectuals in the service of power seemed self-serving. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I didn’t want that kind of career or life.
All that seems clear to me now, but it wasn’t at the start. The researcher’s query that prompted this essay asked about my “earliest consciousness-raising memory.” I have no simple answer, because my awakening was such a gradual process. But there were some moments along the way, such as the day I read Andrea Dworkin’s 1983 speech entitled “I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape,” in which she asked men for “one day in which no new bodies are piled up, one day in which no new agony is added to the old.”  In that speech she pointed out that feminists don’t hate men, but instead “believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.” 
I also remember the crucial role of one friend in the anti-pornography group, a white man who was older than I and was a part of not only the feminist movement but the civil-rights, anti-war, and environmental struggles. He provided me with a model for how someone with privilege could contribute to radical politics in a principled fashion. In my book on pornography, I wrote about one particularly important moment with Jim Koplin, when we talked about my motivation in volunteering with the group:
“If you want to be part of this because you want to save women, we don’t want you,” he said. At first I was confused — wasn’t the point of critiquing the sexual exploitation of women in pornography to help women? Yes, Jim explained, but too many men who get involved in such work see themselves as knights in shining armor, riding in like the hero to save women, and they usually turn out not to be trustworthy allies. They are in it for themselves, not to challenge masculinity but to play out the role of heroic man in a new, pseudo-feminist context. You have to be in it for yourself, but in a different way, he said.
“You have to be here to save your own life,” Jim told me.
I didn’t understand exactly what he meant at that moment, but something about those words resonated in my gut. This is what feminism offered men — not just a way to help those being hurt, but a way to understand that the same system of male dominance the hurt so many women also made it impossible for men to be fully human. 
Jim challenged me to ask myself why I was there and what I hoped to gain, and I came to understand that my interest in feminist politics was driven in large part by my own alienation from traditional definitions of masculinity. For me to tell a simple story about doing the right thing, implying nobility on my part, wasn’t going to cut it.
More than 20 years later, I’m still wrestling with these questions about why I make the choices I make. I am a man who is part of a feminist movement and a white guy who critiques the white supremacy deeply embedded in mainstream culture. I am an American who opposes U.S. imperial foreign policy and a middle-class academic working with a local group that organizes immigrant workers. For these efforts, I get attention and praise that is disproportionate to my effort and ability, a fact I point out as often as possible. People sometimes listen to me not because I’m smarter than feminist women, but because I am a man. My writing on race is not better than the work of non-white authors, but I’m appreciated because I’m white.
This is the tricky part of my awakening story. I was lucky to learn to see the world from the point of view of those who struggle against power, and I’m rewarded in many ways when I speak, write, or act in public in these movements. But I recognize that those rewards are unfair, and so my professed humility becomes another mark of my alleged sophistication. Yet if I were to refuse to use my privilege — if I dealt with this angst by fading into the background — I would be throwing away resources that come with my position in the world and which I can offer to these movements.
I am trapped, yet I am trapped in a system that makes my life relatively easy. Even when there is some threat of punishment for my political activities, such as during the fallout from critical essays about U.S. war crimes that I wrote after 9/11, I have so much support from outside the power structure and so much privilege as an educated white guy that I never really felt threatened. Even if I had been fired from my university position after 9/11, I likely would have landed on my feet.
I realize not all who adopt a critical perspective, even those in privileged categories, fare as well as I have. But in recent decades in the United States, in which dissent by people who look like me is mostly tolerated, there has been no widespread repression of people in the privileged sectors. People in targeted groups (particularly immigrants, Muslims, Arabs) have had to be careful, and there’s no guarantee that a more widespread repression won’t return to the United States, especially as U.S. power continues to decline around the world and elites get nervous. But for now, white men with U.S. citizenship are pretty safe. We may risk losing a job, but that’s trivial compared with the fates suffered by radicals in other eras in U.S. history or in other places today.
So, here’s my consciousness raising story summarized: I wandered through the first 30 years of my life mostly oblivious to the workings of power, protected by my privilege. For the past 20 years I’ve been struggling to contribute to a variety of movements for social justice and ecological sustainability, getting my consciousness raised on a regular basis whenever I seek out new experiences that push me beyond what I have come to take for granted (lately for me that has been happening at 5604 Manor, our progressive community center in Austin, TX, http://5604manor.org/ ). Although I love teaching and put considerable energy into my job as a professor, my community and political activities are just as important to me — and a greater source of intellectual vitality. If consciousness-raising is an ongoing project, it’s not likely to happen in moribund institutions such as universities but will come through engagement with people taking real risks in political work.
That’s as accurate an account as I can offer about how I became, and continue becoming, the political person I am. But telling this story always makes me a bit queasy; I have yet to find a way to describe my political development that doesn’t sound self-aggrandizing, as if I am casting myself as an epic hero.
That longstanding discomfort in telling my story is further complicated by new concerns in the past few years. More than ever I’m aware that no matter how high anyone’s consciousness in the United States is raised, there may be very little we can do to reverse the consequences of modern industrial society’s assault on the living world. I don’t mean that there is nothing we can or should do to promote ecological sustainability, but only that the processes set in motion during the industrial era may be beyond the point of no return, that the health of the ecosphere that makes our own lives possible may be compromised beyond recovery.
In contemporary left/progressive organizing, we typically focus on those small victories we achieve in the moment and on a vision for social change that sustains us over the long haul. With no revolution on the horizon, we pursue reforms within existing systems but hold onto radical ideals that inform those activities. We are willing to work without guarantees, bolstered by a faith that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  That’s supposed to get us through; even if our movements don’t prevail in our own lifetime, we contribute to a better future.
But what if we are no longer bending toward justice? What if the arc of the moral universe has bent back and the cascading ecological crises will eventually overwhelm our collective moral capacities? Put bluntly: What if homo sapiens are an evolutionary dead-end?
That’s the central problem with my consciousness-raising story. When I was politicized 20 years ago, I made a commitment to facing the truth to the best of my ability, even when that truth is unpleasant and painful. My ideals haven’t changed and my commitment to organizing hasn’t waned, but the weight of the evidence suggests to me that our species is moving into a period of permanent decline during which much of what we have learned will be swamped by rapidly worsening ecological conditions. I think we’re in more trouble than most are willing to acknowledge.
This is not an argument for giving up on or dropping out of radical politics. It’s simply a description of what seems true to me, and I can’t see how our movements can afford to avoid these issues. I’m not sure I’m right about everything, though I am sure this analysis is plausible and should be on our agenda. Yet it’s my experience that most people want to push it out of view.
In trying to make sense of my political consciousness-raising, I try to avoid the temptation to cast myself as an epic hero who overcomes adversity to see the truth. That’s a struggle but is possible when one is part of a vibrant political community in which people hold each other accountable, and for all my fretting in this essay, I think I’ve done a reasonably good job of keeping on track. We can overcome our individual arrogance.
More difficult is facing the possibility that the human species has been cast as a tragic hero. Tragic heroes aren’t characters who have just run into a bit of bad luck but are protagonists brought down by an error in judgment that results from inherent flaws in their character. The arrogance with which we modern humans have treated the living world — the hubris of the high-energy/high-technology era — may well turn out to be that tragic flaw. Surrounded by the big majestic buildings and tiny sophisticated electronic gadgets created through human cleverness, it’s easy for us to believe we are smart enough to run a complex world. But cleverness is not wisdom, and the ability to create does not guarantee the ability to control the destruction we have unleashed.
Not every human society has gone down this road, but we live in a world dominated by those who not only exhibit that arrogance but embrace it, refusing to accept the reality of decline. That means our individual awakenings may be taking place within a much larger dying. To face that is to live in a profound state of grief. To stay true to a radical political consciousness is to face that grief.
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin, one of the partners in the community center “5604 Manor,” http://5604manor.org/ .
He is the author of All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, (Soft Skull Press, 2009); Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity(South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights, 2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2002).
Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film “Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing,” which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist. Information about the film, distributed by the Media Education Foundation, and an extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff are online athttp://thirdcoastactivist.org/osheroff.html .
Jensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and his articles can be found online athttp://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/index.html . To join an email list to receive articles by Jensen, go to http://www.thirdcoastactivist.org/jensenupdates-info.html .
By Ray McGovern
It was not until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walked to the George Washington University podium last week to enthusiastic applause that I decided I had to dissociate myself from the obsequious adulation of a person responsible for so much death, suffering and destruction.
I was reminded of a spring day in Atlanta almost five years earlier when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld strutted onto a similar stage to loud acclaim from another enraptured audience.
Introducing Rumsfeld on May 4, 2006, the president of the Southern Center for International Policy in Atlanta highlighted his “honesty.” I had just reviewed my notes for an address I was scheduled to give that evening in Atlanta and, alas, the notes demonstrated his dishonesty.
I thought to myself, if there’s an opportunity for Q & A after his speech I might try to stand and ask a question, which is what happened. I engaged in a four-minute impromptu debate with Rumsfeld on Iraq War lies, an exchange that was carried on cable TV.
That experience leaped to mind on Feb. 15, as Secretary Clinton strode onstage amid similar adulation.
The fulsome praise for Clinton from GW’s president and the loud, sustained applause also brought to mind a phrase that – as a former Soviet analyst at CIA – I often read in Pravda. When reprinting the text of speeches by high Soviet officials, the Communist Party newspaper would regularly insert, in italicized parentheses: “Burniye applaudismenti; vce stoyat” — Stormy applause; all rise.
With the others at Clinton’s talk, I stood. I even clapped politely. But as the applause dragged on, I began to feel like a real phony. So, when the others finally sat down, I remained standing silently, motionless, wearing my “Veterans for Peace” T-shirt, with my eyes fixed narrowly on the rear of the auditorium and my back to the Secretary.
I did not expect what followed: a violent assault in full view of madam secretary by what we Soviet analysts used to call the “organs of state security.” The rest is history, as they say. A short account of the incident can be found here.
As the video of the event shows, Secretary Clinton did not miss a beat in her speech as she called for authoritarian governments to show respect for dissent and to refrain from violence. She spoke with what seemed to be an especially chilly sang froid, as she ignored my silent protest and the violent assault which took place right in front of her.
The experience gave me personal confirmation of the impression that I reluctantly had drawn from watching her behavior and its consequences over the past decade. The incident was a kind of metaphor of the much worse violence that Secretary Clinton has coolly countenanced against others.
Again and again, Hillary Clinton – both as a U.S. senator and as Secretary of State – has demonstrated a nonchalant readiness to unleash the vast destructiveness of American military power. The charitable explanation, I suppose, is that she knows nothing of war from direct personal experience.
And that is also true of her husband, her colleague Robert Gates at the Defense Department, President Barack Obama, and most of the White House functionaries blithely making decisions to squander the lives and limbs of young soldiers in foreign adventures — conflicts that even the top brass admit cannot be won with weapons.
The analogy to Vietnam is inescapable. As White House tapes from the 1960s show, President Lyndon Johnson knew that the Vietnam War could not be “won” in any meaningful way.
Nonetheless, Johnson kept throwing hundreds of thousands into the battle lest someone accuse him of being soft on communism. I had an inside seat watching Johnson do that. And I did nothing.
Now, with an even more jittery president, a hawkish Secretary of State, the much-acclaimed field marshal David Petraeus, and various Republican presidential hopefuls – all jockeying for political position as the 2012 election draws near – the country is in even deeper trouble today.
No one on this political merry-go-round can afford to appear weak on terrorism. So, they all have covered their bets. And we all know who pays the price for these political calculations.
This time, I would NOT do nothing.
My colleagues in Veterans for Peace and I have known far too many comrades-in-arms and their families whose lives have been shattered or ended as a result of such crass political maneuvering.
Many of us veterans know more than we wish to know about war and killing. But — try as we may with letters and other appeals — we cannot get through to President Obama. And Secretary Clinton turns her own deaf ear to our entreaties and those from others who oppose unnecessary warfare, a pattern that she also followed in her days as a U.S. senator from New York.
See No Evil
In the summer of 2002, as the Senate was preparing to conduct hearings about alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq and the possibility of war, former Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq and U.S. Marine Major, Scott Ritter, came down to Washington from his home in upstate New York to share his first-hand knowledge with as many senators as possible.
To those that let him in the door, he showed that the “intelligence” adduced to support U.S. claims that Iraq still had WMD was fatally flawed. This was the same “intelligence” that Senate Intelligence Committee chair Jay Rockefeller later branded “unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”
Sen. Hillary Clinton would not let Ritter in her door. Despite his unique insights as a U.N. inspector and his status as a constituent, Sen. Clinton gave him the royal run-around. Her message was clear: “Don’t bother me with the facts.” She had already made up her mind.
I had a direct line into her inner circle at the time, and was assured that several of my op-eds and other commentaries skeptical of George W. Bush’s planned invasion were given to Clinton, but no matter.
Sen. Clinton reportedly was not among the handful of legislators who took the trouble to read the National Intelligence Estimate on WMD in Iraq that was issued on Oct. 1, 2002, just ten days before she voted to authorize war.
In short, she chose not to perform the due diligence required prior to making a decision having life-or-death consequences for thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. She knew whom she needed to cater to, and what she felt she had to do.
But, bright as she is, Hillary Clinton is prone to huge mistakes — political, as well as strategic. In dissing those of us who were trying to warn her that an attack on Iraq would have catastrophic consequences, she simply willed us to be wrong.
Clearly, her calculation was that she had to appear super-strong on defense in order to win the Democratic nomination and then the presidency in 2008. Just as clearly, courting Israel and the Likud Lobby was also important to her political ambitions.
Blair Admits Israeli Role
Any lingering doubt that Israel played a major role in the U.S.- U.K. decision to attack Iraq was dispelled a year ago when former Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke publicly about the Israeli input into the all-important Bush-Blair deliberations on Iraq in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002.
Inexplicably, Blair forgot his usual discretion when it comes to disclosing important facts to the public and blurted out some truth at the Chilcot hearings in London regarding the origins of the Iraq War:
“As I recall that [April 2002] discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us [Bush and Blair], whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”
According to Philip Zelikow – a former member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and later counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – the “real threat” from Iraq was not to the United States.
Zelikow told an audience at the University of Virginia in September 2002, the “unstated threat” from Iraq was the “threat against Israel.” He added, “The American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell.”
But it wasn’t as though leading Israelis were disguising their war aims. The current Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu published a pre-invasion piece titled “The case for Toppling Saddam” in the Wall Street Journal.
“Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do,” Netanyahu declared. “I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis in supporting a pre-emptive strike against Saddam’s regime.”
The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported in February 2003, “the military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq.”
As a retired Israeli general later put it, “Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq’s non-conventional [WMD] capabilities.”
In the United States, neoconservatives also pushed for war thinking that taking out Saddam Hussein would make Israel more secure.
These Israeli leaders and their neocon allies got their wish on March 19, 2003, with the U.S.-U.K. invasion.
Of course, pressure from Israel and its Lobby was not the only factor behind the invasion of Iraq — think also oil, military bases, various political ambitions, revenge, etc. — but the Israeli factor was critical.
A Calculating Senator
I’m afraid, though, that these calculations aimed at enhancing Israeli security may ultimately have the opposite effect. The Iraq War and the anti-Americanism that it has engendered across the Middle East seem sure to make Israel’s position in the region even more precarious.
If the Iraq War does end up making the region more dangerous for Israel, the fault will lie with Israel’s hard-line leaders, as well as with those American officials (and media pundits) who so eagerly clambered onboard for the attack on Iraq.
One of those U.S. officials was the calculating senator from New York.
In a kind of poetic justice, Clinton’s politically motivated warmongering became a key factor in her losing the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, who as a young state senator in Illinois spoke out against the war.
Though she bet wrong in 2002-03, Clinton keeps doubling down in her apparent belief that her greater political vulnerability comes from being perceived as “weak” against U.S. adversaries. So, she’s emerged as one of the Obama administration’s leading hawks on Afghanistan and Iran.
I suspect she still has her eye on what she considers the crucial centers of financial, media and other power that could support a possible future run for president, whether in 2012 if the Obama administration unravels or in 2016.
Another explanation, I suppose, could be that the Secretary of State genuinely believes that the United States should fight wars favored by right-wing Israelis and their influential supporters in the U.S.
Whichever interpretation you prefer, there’s no doubt that she has put herself in the forefront of American leaders threatening Iran over its alleged “nuclear weapons” program, a “weapons” program that Iran denies exists and for which the U.S. intelligence community has found little or no evidence.
Bête Noire Iran
As a former CIA analyst myself, it strikes me as odd that Clinton’s speeches never reflect the consistent, unanimous judgment of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, issued formally (and with “high confidence”) in November 2007 that Iran stopped working on a nuclear weapon in the fall of 2003 and had not yet decided whether or not to resume that work.
Less than two weeks ago (on Feb. 10), in a formal appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, National Intelligence Director James Clapper testified:
“We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons….
“We continue to judge Iran’s nuclear decisionmaking is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran.”
Who’s in Charge Here?
Yet, in her determination to come across as hard-line, Clinton has undercut promising initiatives that might have constrained Iran from having enough low-enriched uranium to even be tempted to build a nuclear arsenal.
Last year, when – at the urging of President Obama – the leaders of Turkey and Brazil worked out an agreement with Iran, under which Iran agreed to ship about half of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) out of country, Clinton immediately rejected it in favor of more severe economic sanctions.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were left wondering who exactly was in charge in Washington — Hillary and her pro-Israeli friends, or Obama.
Brazil released a three-page letter that Obama had sent to Lula da Silva a month earlier in which Obama said the proposed uranium transfer “would build confidence and reduce regional tensions by substantially reducing Iran’s” stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
The contrast between Obama’s support for the initiative and the opposition from various hardliners (including Clinton) caused “some puzzlement,” one senior Brazilian official told the New York Times. After all, this official said, the supportive “letter came from the highest authority and was very clear.”
It was a particularly telling episode. Clinton basked in the applause of Israeli leaders and neocon pundits for blocking the uranium transfer and securing more restrictive U.N. sanctions on Iran – and since then Iran appears to have dug in its heals on additional negotiations over its nuclear program.
Secretary Clinton is almost as assiduous as Netanyahu in never missing a chance to paint the Iranians in the darkest colors – even if that ends up painting the entire region into a more dangerous corner.
On Feb. 15, Clinton continued giving hypocrisy a bad name, with her GW speech regarding the importance of governments respecting peaceful dissent.
Five short paragraphs after she watched me snatched out of the audience Blackwater-style, she said, “Iran is awful because it is a government that routinely violates the rights of its people.” It was like something straight out of Franz Kafka.
Today, given the growing instability in the Middle East – and Netanyahu’s strident talk about Iran’s dangerous influence – it may take yet another Herculean effort by Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen to disabuse Netanyahu of the notion that Israel can somehow provoke the kind of confrontation with Iran that would suck Obama into the conflict on Israel’s side.
At each such turning point, Secretary Clinton predictably sides with the hard-line Israeli position and shows remarkably little sympathy for the Palestinians or any other group that finds itself in Israel’s way.
It is now clear, not only from the WikiLeaks documents, but even more so from the “Palestine Papers” disclosed by Al Jazeera, that Washington has long been playing a thoroughly dishonest “honest-broker” role between Israel and the Palestinians.
But those documents don’t stand alone. Clinton also rejected the Goldstone Report’s criticism of Israel’s bloody attack on Gaza in 2008-09; she waffled on Israel’s fatal commando raid on a Turkish relief flotilla on its way to Gaza in 2010; and she rallied to the defense of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak this month when Israeli leaders raised alarms about what might follow him.
Just last week, Clinton oversaw the casting of the U.S. veto to kill a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Israel to stop colonizing territories it occupied in 1967. That vote was 14 to 1, marking the first such veto by the Obama administration. Netanyahu was quick to state that he “deeply appreciated” the U.S. stance.
In the face of such callous disregard for what the Founders called “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind,” words failed me — literally — on Feb. 15.
The op-eds, the speeches, the interviews that I and others have done about needless war and feckless politicians may have done some good but, surely, they have not done enough. And America’s Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) is the embodiment of a Fourth Estate that is dead in the water.
I counted about 20 TV cameras at the Clinton speech and reporters galore. Not one thought to come outside to watch what was happening to me, and zero reporting on the incident has found its way into the FCM, save a couple of brief and misleading accounts.
A Fox News story claimed that “a heckler interrupted” Clinton’s speech and then “was escorted from the room.” Fox News added that I “was, perhaps, trying to hold up a sign.” CNN posted a brief clip with a similar insistence that I had “interrupted” Clinton’s speech, though the video shows me saying nothing until after I’m dragged away (or “escorted”) when I say, “So this is America.” There also was no sign.
Disappointing, but not surprising. I guess I really do believe that the good is worth doing because it is good. It shouldn’t matter that there is little or no guarantee of success — or even a truthful recounting of what happened.
One of my friends, in a good-natured attempt to make light of my arrest and brief imprisonment, commented that I must be used to it by now.
I thought of how anti-war prophet, Fr. Dan Berrigan, responded to that kind of observation in his testimony at the Plowshares Eight trial 31 years ago. I feel blessed by his witness and fully identify with what he said about “the push of conscience”:
“With every cowardly bone in my body, I wished I hadn’t had to do it. That has been true every time I have been arrested. My stomach turns over. I feel sick. I feel afraid. I hate jail. I don’t do well there physically.
“But I have read that we must not kill. I have read that children, above all, are threatened by this. I have read that Christ our Lord underwent death rather than inflict it. And I’m supposed to be a disciple.
“The push of conscience is a terrible thing.”
As Fr. Berrigan clearly understood, the suffering of the victims of war is so much worse than the shock and discomfort of arrest.
For her part, Sen. and/or Secretary Clinton seems never to have encountered a war that she didn’t immediately embrace on behalf of some geopolitical justification, apparently following Henry Kissinger’s dictum that soldiers are “just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”
And beyond even the human suffering of those caught up in war, there’s what’s in store for the rest of us. As recent rhetoric and disclosures of leaked documents have made clear, what lies ahead is a permanent warfare state, including occupation of foreign lands and new military bases around the globe — unless we have the courage to stand up this time.
Also to be expected will be the curtailment of our rights at home. “A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny,” wrote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn — one who knew.
Perhaps we need to bear in mind that we are part of a long line of those who have taken a stand on these issues.
As for those of us who have served abroad to protect the rights of U.S. citizens — well, maybe we have a particular mandate to do what we can to keep protecting them.
For us Veterans for Peace, we’ve been there, done that. And so, enough already!
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing ministry of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early Sixties and then served as a CIA analyst for 27 years. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Originally publisshed in Al Manar English
When the US marines were in and out of Lebanon in 1983-1984 some of those I met, when visiting their barracks with American journalist Janet Stevens, to discuss Israel’s use of American cluster bombs against civilians had the habit, as did sailors from the USS New Jersey, of referring to the Lebanese Capital simply as “Root.” Or sometimes they would call it: “The Root” as in, “We came to “The Root” to kick some butt!”
The Marines were responsible for unexploded ordnance clearance in the area around Beirut airport while Italian, French and a small British force worked in adjoining areas of West Beirut, following the Israeli siege, which sometimes included intensive carpet shelling. The Marines did a good job in their area trying to make it safe for civilians and took 12 casualties, two fatal, from Israeli dropped American cluster bombs. Unfortunately President Reagan ordered the American forces to support the Israeli backed Phalange government of Amin Gemayel against the popular Lebanese resistance and the marines were soon viewed as being partisan participants in a domestic conflict. This led to the Marines departure following events of October 1983 and despite recent Israeli proposals, it is fairly unlikely that either American or NATO forces will arrive in Lebanon anytime soon.
But Blackwater USA just might.
Despite a series of publicly announced “disassociations” periodically issued from the media offices at the Pentagon and State Department, plus a couple of image polishing name changes including currently, Xe Services LLC ( Xe being short for Xena, the mythical goddess of war) the hydra headed Blackwater (BW), founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark is still quite active.
BW continues to sign US tax payer funded contracts whilst spreading its tentacles around the region, ever scanning the horizon and sniffing out softer underbelly money makers to meet the payroll of its $500 per day operatives. Prince told the US Congress last year that his organization is “A professional organization serving as a solutions provider to the U.S. government. We operate in the defense, training, logistics, and intelligence spaces, priding ourselves on getting the job done right”.
Two weeks ago in Leidschendam-Voorburg, which abuts The Hague and is the site of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Blackwater USA representatives looking to land a lucrative bounty hunter contract with the STL’s registrar’s office, preferred to label Hezbollah simply as ‘Bullahs’. Apparently it’s some sort of BW macho lingo term from the organizations combat training bases in North Carolina and California. Some Blackwater mercenaries also used the “Bullahs” label in Iraq in addition to racist terms like “Ragheads”, “Hajiis”, and “Sand Niggers.”
In addition, Black water representatives, presumably offering “to get the job done right,” have reportedly met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and will again during Barak’s current visit to Washington. According to an email message from a Congressional Staffer who works for a Committee that receives intelligence briefings, BW has been getting cozy with Israel and may be in the process of setting up a BW “training center” in occupied Palestine north of Kabri which is about 20 miles south of UNIFIL’s HQ in Naqoura along the Lebanon-Palestine ‘blue line’.
Barak, according to the same source, will meet on February 26 with National Security chief Tom Donilon and Dennis Ross to discuss Iran, Hezbollah the STL and the impact of recent regional events on the Israeli-Iranian strategic balance in the region. During his meetings with BW representatives his message to BW may be along the lines of “Hey, don’t worry. We’ll hold your coats” as Israel increasingly considers following the American lead and hires mercenaries to confront its enemies.
Barak may in point of fact have a job for BW.
Based on sources who attended the recent Special Tribunal for Lebanon media briefings, as well as sources in Congress and North Carolina, it appears that the STL Registrar’s 1/17/11 announcement that the Court might be seeking help of the International community to arrest and deliver to the Hague those against whom Judge Daniel Frensen is widely expected to issue arrest warrants, is indeed generating applications.
Following the STL’s implied job announcement, Blackwater’s HQ, still based in Moyock, North Carolina was abuzz with talk of “business opportunities.” According to a stringer for the Daily Southerner in nearby Tarboro, NC, who claims that she dates “BW special forces guys”: “Who better to go after the terrorists with arrest warrants from that Court than our local Confederate bounty hunters par excellence?”
By the morning of 1/20/11 and again on 1/21/11, Blackwater representatives, who arrived two days earlier in The Hague on a flight from Israel, tried to convince the Office of the STL Registrar, and, that evening, anyone listening in the nearby Hilton Hotel Grand Café Pearl, that Blackwater could do the job better than Interpol. All they needed to know was that the proposed per head bounty dollar amount was guaranteed and they would do the rest.
After a dinner of pan fried wild sea bass and enjoying bottles of German wine, the more they drank and partied, which reportedly lasted until the wee hours, the more the Blackwater reps claimed to actually relish a long overdue fight with “Bullahs.” One BW operative, according to two Dutch journalists who were present for part of the evening, told the groups ”tourist hostess” attractive dates, “ when even one of them “Bullahs” needs to get his butt busted, cuffed, and dragged to the Hague, we can do the job young ladies! Ya got our word on that!”
Will Blackwater help I reoccupy Lebanon?
Ehud Barak’s statements this week about Israel reoccupying south Lebanon might lead some to muse whether the Defense Minister perhaps forgot why, when he was prime minister, he ordered the precipitous Israeli nighttime stealth pullout, during which some local villagers claim they saw some elements of the Golani brigade literally skidding down the hill at Maron al Ras during the night of May 23, 2000 on their back sides as other IDF units fled across the exits points south of Aita Schab and Bint Jbeil with resistance fighters hot on their tails.
In fact the reason then Israeli Prime Minister Barak ordered the IDF out of Lebanon, was partially under electoral pressure from the Israeli public, because Israeli casualties were skyrocketing. Barak also acted on the advice of his well-paid campaign advisor and Bill Clinton confidant, James Carville who advised Barak that ‘moderate Israelis’ would vote for him if he did. As it turned out James underestimated the number of ‘moderate Israelis’, and Barak lost the election by a wide margin to Ariel Sharon who got 1,698,077 (62.39%) to Barak’s 1,023,944 (37.61%).
“Funny Jimmy” as he’s known in the Big Easy where he grew up, returned to the “James Carville and Mary Matlin show.” Not one to easily give up on lost causes, it is being rumored in Washington that James, the apparent eternal devotee of Le and La Clinton, is spending much of his time these days trying to figure out how to get Hilary elected President and he is studying the odds for the 2012 Democratic primary. Carville, and others including remnants of his former campaign team in Israel, see the possibility of the Democrats dumping Obama, as doable if former IDF reservist, Rahm Emanuel, the new Mayor of Chicago, will dump Obama, sign on with Hilary, and bring the US Israeli lobby and their cash with him.
In his free time James is working as an adman for Miracle Whip in a TV commercial which features “ Funny Jimmy” Carville and others expressing either their love or hate for the imitation mayonnaise spread. ”If you’ve got these fancy, dancy mustards and stuff like that, that’s kind of an elite thing,” says Carville. “Miracle Whip is the essence of America. We are a simple people, very trusting and only wanting to do God’s will.”
Contrary to the Israeli lobby spin that Israel left Lebanon in May of 2000 as a unilateral goodwill gesture to advance the fake “peace process”, IDF statistics leading up to Hezbollah’s expulsion of the IDF and the collapse of its collaborationist South Lebanese Army (SLA) match those explained recently by Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General, former chemistry professor Naim Qassim who is perhaps the leading expert on exactly what transpired in South Lebanon during this period. Professor Qassim’s book, “Hezbollah from Within” is the most authoritative volume on the subject of Hezbollah…to date.
Also, Israeli TV audiences had grown weary of watching footage-often courtesy of Al Manar, of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon as a result of Resistance operations. Even today, fighters who were on the scene in the spring of 2000, report that they were surprised at the Israeli debacle as were the Israeli SLA Lebanese collaborators. In some instances, retreating Israeli soldiers used their former Lebanese “partners and brothers” as human shields hoping that the Lebanese resistance would not fire on fellow Lebanese as the Israelis fled. The IDF did not inform their SLA allies that they were withdrawing. Ever hopeful of igniting a civil war in Lebanon, the new IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Israeli intelligence meticulously left behind lists of the names of many of its Lebanese collaborators, hoping for a Lebanese-Lebanese bloodbath. As it turned out Hezbollah quickly, and some say reluctantly, instructed their units to adhere to a strict policy or no retribution and to “let bygones be bygones.” Only modest punishment was administered by the Lebanese State Judiciary partly because the number of Israeli (US taxpayer) paid killers was high and there was not enough prison space to house them and also because Hezbollah wanted to avoid sectarian strife since a large percentage of the collaborators were from one Lebanese sect and cries of “sectarian targeting” were predictable. The issue of whether Hezbollah was too lenient with these collaborators following the expulsion of the IDF is, eleven years later, still sometimes discussed in Southern villages among families who lost loved ones to the turncoats.—many of the latter living today, as next door neighbors to their victims’ families.
If the STL does decide to hire Blackwater USA to execute any arrest warrants in Lebanon or if Israel decides to hire ”seek and kill” Blackwater units during its predicted coming invasion, whatever that does for Xe’s Stock prices, its BW’s stock of mercenaries that will be eagarly anticipated in Lebanon.
As for Baraks boast that the new IDF Chief Benny Gantz “knows south Lebanon” the career assassin might want to recall, as he remembers why Israel withdrew from Lebanon in May of 2000, that as one Hezbollah veteran told this observer this week, “South Lebanon knows Benny Gantz”.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached c/o email@example.com