Impending military confrontation with Russia?

Impending military confrontation with Russia?

Wayne Madsen – Wayne Madsen Report September 8, 2008

WMR has received an “over the transom” warning that in the few months preceding the November 4 presidential election, a rival chain-of-command that operates out of Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and that was previously reported by WMR with regard to the movement of nuclear weapons from North Dakota to Louisiana in August 2007, plans to create a military showdown with Russia.

The rival Cheney chain-of-command, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates successfully purged from the top echelons of the Air Force, also existed within the Army. In his new book, “The War Within,” the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward reveals that Cheney’s rival chain-of-command also penetrated the senior ranks of the U.S. Army. Cheney’s chain via the Army went from former Army Vice Chief of Staff retired General Jack Keane, through loyalists in the Pentagon and in the National Security Council, to General David Petraeus, the commander of coalition forces in Iraq. Previously, Bush fired Petraeus’ predecessor, Gen. George Casey, and the Commander of the U.S. Central Command, General John Abizaid. Later, Bush, once again, carried out Cheney’s wishes by firing Abizaid’s replacement, Admiral William Fallon. Woodward reports that the then-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Mullen, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was concerned that Bush and Cheney were going to have the military “take the fall” for the Iraq debacle.

Cheney used Keane to make trips to Iraq to brief Petraeus. Keane then brought back messages from Petraeus to Cheney, bypassing Fallon, the Joint Chiefs, and Gates, whose appointment by Bush as Defense Secretary to replace Donald Rumsfeld was strongly opposed by Cheney. Bush also used Keane to send “back channel” messages to Petraeus, again bypassing Gates and the Joint Chiefs.

In an effort to create a renewed “Cold War” mentality and benefit the candidacies of John McCain and Sarah Palin, the Cheney loyalists in the U.S. military may be preparing to use a forthcoming worldwide Russian military exercise code named “STABILNOST 2008,” or “STABILITY 2008,” to stage a confrontation between U.S. and Russian military forces. A military source has informed WMR that a “hot” incident between the U.S. and Russia may bring about a Cold War situation that will throw into question the military experience of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Cheney has just completed a trip to Russia’s southern border, visiting Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine, pledging support for Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO and issuing warnings to Moscow from both Tbilisi and Kiev.

Stabilnost 2008 offers the Cheney loyalists in the military a number of scenarios for a staged incident. Stabilnost will begin in late September and continue for two months through late November. Stabilnost forces will face a surge in a U.S. naval presence with the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG) in the northern Arabian Sea, the USS George Washington in the western Pacific, USS Ronald Reagan CSG in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility, and the USS Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) in the Persian Gulf area.

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, in an interview with Russian Defense Ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda on February 22, 2008, outlined the scope of STABILNOST 2008. He said the exercise will “consists of a series of operational and command-staff exercises and training of various levels, which are united by a single concept of operations and are conducted over the course of two months in Russia’s various regions.” Serdyukov was previously the head of Russia’s Federal Tax Service, the agency that has gone after members of the Russian-Israeli oligarchy, many of whom have fled Russia for Britain and Israel, for tax evasion and fraud.

Although there is little more known about STABILNOST 2008 from open sources, the Rossiya TV channel’s news program “Segodnya” on December 1, 2007, stated, “the STABILITY 2008 strategic command-post exercise will become the core event [of 200 large scale exercises]. The Army and Navy will spend two months practicing elimination of armed conflicts in different regions of Russia. The exercise will finish with a command-post drill in command and control over the entire Armed Forces, including the nuclear component.”

Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Alexander Kolmakov was reported by Interfax of April 29, 2008, as stating “all the branches of the armed forces will be involved in it [STABILNOST 2008] The exercise will be held not only at the level of the armed forces, but also at the level of national military structures.” Other news reports stated that Kolmakov said the exercise would include all parts of Russia. Serdyukov told Interfax that STABILNOST 2008 would be “focusing on stamping out armed conflicts ‘along the perimeter’ of Russian borders.” Russia is consolidating its hold on the breakaway Georgian autonomous republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia but Ukraine’s Crimean autonomous region and Moldova’s Transdniestrian Republic may also play into Russia’s military exercise plans. Cheney’s visit to Azerbaijan, from where the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (Turkey) oil pipeline originates, comes after joint U.S.-Azeri naval and air exercises designed to protect Caspian Sea oil installations, were completed. Azerbaijan wants troops from Russia’s CSTO ally Armenia withdrawn from the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, another possible flashpoint between U.S. and Russian forces in what Russia’s considers its sphere or “space.”

Just prior to Georgia’s sneak attack on South Ossetia, the United States held “IMMEDIATE RESPONSE 2008” in Georgia with Azerbaijani, Ukrainian, Armenian, Georgian, and American troops. Russia considered the exercise a provocation and countered with CAUCASUS FRONTIER 2008 in the northern Caucasus, near Georgia, in the Russian North Caucasus Military District.

After Russia’s counter-invasion of South Ossetia and Georgia, the Russian Army captured some American command and control vehicles, as well as intelligence equipment, left behind with Georgian forces and are analyzing them near Moscow. In another provocation aimed at Russia, Ukrainian, Polish, and British are participating in the “COSSACK STEPPE 2008” exercise at the Nova Demba military base in Poland, Poland recently signed an agreement with the United States for the establishment of a missile base in Poland, which also infuriated Moscow. NATO, Ukrainian, and Moldovan forces are also engaged in the “RAPID TRIDENT” exercise near Lviv until September 14.

Serdyukov also spoke of Stabilnost taking place in the “world ocean” and involving the Russian Black Sea, Baltic, Northern, and Pacific Fleets. The U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy pulled out of a joint exercise with the Russian Pacific Fleet, the “FRUKUS” exercise scheduled for late August, over the Georgian situation. A French ship did participate. Russia pulled out of NATO’s “OPEN SPIRIT” exercise in the Baltic Sea held in late August and refused permission for the U.S. Navy frigate, USS Ford, to visit Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky between September 5-9.

On August 22, 2008, Interfax-AVN provided some additional details about Stabilnost 2008. Between September 8-15, 2008, the 15th Motor-Rifle (peacekeeping) Brigade stationed in Samara will begin training at the Safakulevo test range in Kurgan Region. The exercise will be under the command of Major General Oleg Torgashev, commander of the combat training directorate of the Volga-Urals Military District (VUMD). The 2,000-member brigade has responsibility for “keeping or restoring international peace and security.” It is the brigade’s first exercise. Other Russian peacekeeping units are already stationed in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Trandniester. Other mountain motorized-rifle brigades will participate in the Stabilnost exercise in the republics of Dagestan, north of Azerbaijan, where Cheney recently visited; and Karachay-Cherkessia, in the northern Caucasus. Stabilnost also includes Long Range Aviation flights, components of the strategic nuclear forces that fly patrols over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and North Pole, as well as air defense (PVO) forces. Russian long-range cruise missile planes, the Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95MS Bear, have also received permission to use air bases in Cuba, Vietnam, and Cape Verde.

Venezuela announced that from November 10 to 14, four Russian naval ships and 1,000 Russian sailors would participate in joint maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean. It would be the first such exercise for Russia in Latin America. Later, President Hugo Chavez said the exercise would be postponed to late November or December. The United States recently announced the re-creation of the Fourth Fleet, which has Latin America and the Caribbean in its Area of Responsibility.

There are also indications that Stabilnost will include a “strategic front exercise” that will include 32,000 reservists called to active duty. Other countries, part of Commonwealth of Independent States’ Joint Air Defense System, also will participate in Stabilnost 2008, including surface-to-air missile troops. Concurrent to Stabilnost, 4,000 troops from Russia, Armenia, and Tajikistan are participating in “RUBEZH-2008”, or “BORDER 2008” or “FRONTIER 2008,” an exercise conducted under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which also includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kygyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) may also be holding “MIRNAYA MISSIYA” (“PEACE MISSION”)exercises, billed as anti-terrorism exercises. The SCO includes the CSTO states, minus Belarus, and China. On September 5, Russian and Kazakh forces completed “CENTRE 2008,” a live fire artillery and air exercise, at the Cherbakul range in the Chelyabinsk Region of Russia. Centre 2008 also involved Russian Air Force and Interior Ministry troops in the Urals and Volga federal districts.

On September 5, CSTO’s Collective Security Council, represented by the Presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, met in Moscow to arrive at a common position on South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

On September 1, President Dmitry Medvedev signed a presidential directive that authorizes the deployment of 200 Russian peacekeepers and 4 Mi-8MT helicopters to Chad and the Central African Republic. There are reports that the United States is building a large military base in Chad a few miles from the Sudan-Libya-Chad border triangle. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, an anti-Russian hawk, just paid the first visit to Libya by an American Secretary of State since John Foster Dulles. Rice and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi discussed AFRICOM, the new U.S. Africa Command. The United States also recently concluded an agreement with the Central African Republic to establish a military base in that country. The arrival of 200 Russian peacekeepers in both Chad and the Central African Republic is just one of many places where a neocon-directed American action against Russian forces could occur.

With Russian forces about to fan out with planes, ships, and troops around the world and U.S. forces at surge levels, especially in the Middle East and Mediterranean, including the presence of U.S. warships in the Black Sea at numbers violating the 1936 Montreux Convention, which limits to three week tours and 45,000 tons, warships from non-Black Sea nations that enter the waters through the Turkish Straits, the neocons who operate through Cheney appear poised to stage a confrontation with Russia. Turkey has decided to remain neutral in the confrontation between Russia and the United States.
In July, NATO held a naval exercise, “SEA BREEZE 2008, with Ukraine and Georgia, a move that generated complaints from Moscow. Russia and Ukraine are currently at odds over the continued presence of a major Russian naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea, a former Russian peninsula ceded to Ukraine by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 The Russian Navy’s lease on the Sevastopol base expires in 2017 and the neocon Ukrainian government wants Russia to begin preparations to pull out. Russia, along with the large Russian and Tatar population in Crimea, wants to stay in Sevastopol beyond 2017 and Russia is suspicious that with Ukraine eager to join NATO, Sevastopol could eventually become a NATO naval base in its own waters.

Cheney bypassed Turkey on his visit to the region but found time to attend the secretive Ambrosetti Conference in Cernobbio on Lake Como in Italy, where he accused Russia of arming “terrorists.” Cheney met in Cernobbio with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Spain’s former neo-fascist Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, BP’s chairman Peter Sutherland, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, and President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy. Cheney later met in Rome with neo-fascist Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. If Cheney and the neocons are preparing a surprise for Russia during STABILNOST 2008, the recent words of Russian General Valery Yevnevich should be heeded, Yevnevich said, “regardless of the aggressor and whether he receives support from Europe or from beyond the Atlantic, we have everything needed to destroy him and he will be destroyed.” And with word that the United States may be gearing up for a war with Iran, Iran’s Navy Commander in Gorgan, Golestan province, Morteza Saffari, told the Fars News Agency on Sept. 2: “The Americans think they are creating ballyhoo in the Persian Gulf. We thank God that their warships are within our target range and if there will be any threats or aggressions against Iran at any point, the IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps] Navy is ready to give the enemy its first crushing response.” Iranian forces also recently completed a military exercise in west Azerbaijan.

After a demoralizing war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is in a hopeless position to take on Russia, Iran, and their allies in a war. In 1974, a concerned White House Chief of Staff, Gen Alexander Haig, sent a message to all senior military commanders that they were not to carry out any orders from the Commander-in-Chief unless they had his authorization. Haig was concerned that a besieged Richard Nixon might try to start a military crisis to save himself from impeachment over the Watergate scandal. Gates might think about emulating Haig an issue a similar order with Cheney hell bent on starting a crisis with Russia in order to benefit co-neocon ideologue McCain.

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Empire and Imperialism and the USA

Empire and Imperialism and the USA

James Petras

Modern empires and therefore imperialism which constructs them are ubiquitous: Whether through large-scale multinational corporations or through technologically advanced massive military power, the peoples and nations of the worlds confront the problem of great concentration of corporate and state power on an unprecedented scale.

. 09.08.2008

This stark reality and the evidence of US prolonged wars of conquest and occupation has forced a general recognition of the relevance of the concept of imperialism to understanding global power relations. Only a decade ago writers, intellectuals and academics discarded imperialism and empire in favor of ‘globalization’ – to describe the world configuration of power. But globalization with its limited focus on the movement of multinational corporations could not explain the centrality of the state in establishing and imposing favorable conditions for the ‘movement’ or expansion of multinationals. Corporate globalization could not explain wars of conquest, like the first Gulf War, or wars of occupation or colonization, such as the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor could globalization explain the large-scale, long-term expansion of Chinese public corporations throughout Africa and the vast extraction of raw materials and sale of finished goods. By the new millennium, the language of empire even entered the vocabulary of the Right, the practitioners and ideologues of imperialist power. Contemporary imperial conflicts had their effects: Imperialism and empire once again became common language on the Left, but in many cases poorly understood, at least in all of its complexities and structures.

This essay clarifies some of the basic theoretical and practical features of contemporary imperialism, which are poorly understood. There are at least five major aspects of the political economy of imperialism that focus our attention in this book:

(1) Imperialism is a political and economic phenomenon. The multinational corporations (MNC) operate in many countries, but they receive their political support, economic subsidies and military insurance from the imperial state (IS) concerned with the MNC. The IS negotiates or imposes trade and investment agreements favorable to the MNC. At the same time the IS uses the MNC to influence overseas regimes to concede military bases and submit to its sphere of influence. Imperialism is the combined forceful overseas expansion of state and corporations.

(2) There are multiple forms of empire building. While all imperial states possess military and economic apparatuses, the political and economic driving force behind the construction of a global empire vary according to the nature of the governing class of the imperial state. In the contemporary world there are essentially two types of empire building – the US military-driven empire building and the Chinese economic empire. The US governing class today is made up of a powerful militarist-Zionist ideological elite, which prioritizes war and military force as a way of extending its domination and constructing client/colonial regimes. China and other newly aspiring economic empire builders expand overseas via large-scale, long-term overseas investments, loans, trade, technical aid and market shares. Obviously the US militarist approach to empire building is bloodier, more destructive and more reprehensible than market-driven empire building. However the structure of power and exploitation, which result from both types of empire, is a political-economic system, which oppresses and exploits subject peoples and nations.

(3) Imperialism has multiple interacting facets, which mutually reinforce each other: The mass media and culture in general are weapons for securing consent and/or acquiescence of the masses in pursuit of empire building which prejudices their material and spiritual existence. Imperialism cannot be isolated and reduced to simple economic reductionism. Economic exploitation is only possible under conditions of subjective subordination and that refers to education, entertainment, literature and art as terrains of class relations and class struggle linked to the empire.

(4) The social, ideological and political loyalties of the political elite, which direct the imperial state, determines the tactics and strategy which will be pursued in empire building. One cannot automatically assume that the political leadership will prioritize the interests of the MNCs in every region of the world at all times. When imperial leadership has divided loyalties with another state imperial policies may not coincide with the interests of the MNCs. Under these special circumstances of rulers with divided imperial loyalties, the ‘normal’ operations of the imperial state are suspended. The case of Zionist power in the US imperial state is a case in point. Through powerful and wealthy socio-political organizations, representation on powerful Congressional committees and strong presence in senior Executive offices (Pentagon, State Department, National Security Council, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury) and the mass media, the Zionist elite dictates US Middle East policy. The US military serves Israeli colonial-expansionist interests even at the expense of the major US oil companies which are prevented from signing billion-dollar oil contracts with Iran and other oil-rich countries at odds with Israel.

(5) The world of competing imperial countries has created complex international organizations, which conflict, compete and collaborate. They operate on all levels, from the global to the cities and villages of the Third World. Imperialist powers enter and exploit through a chain of collaborator classes from the imperial center through international organizations to local ruling, economic and political classes. The imperial system is only as strong as its local collaborators. Popular uprisings, national anti-colonial struggles and radical mass movements, which oust local collaborators, undermine the empire. Anti imperialists attempt to establish diverse ties among imperial competitors and among the newly emerging powers to isolate the US military-centered empire.

Pakistan Pretends to Fight Taliban, for U.S. Cash

Pakistan Pretends to Fight Taliban, for U.S. Cash

By Noah Shachtman

Perhaps, despite all the evidence, you still believe that Pakistan is an authentic American ally, against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Dexter Filkins’ remarkable story in this week’s New York Times Magazine ought to cure you of any such notions:

So here was Namdar — Taliban chieftain, enforcer of Islamic law, usurper of the Pakistani government and trainer and facilitator of suicide bombers in Afghanistan — sitting at home, not three miles from Peshawar, untouched by the Pakistani military operation that was supposedly unfolding around us.

What’s going on? I asked the warlord. Why aren’t they coming for you?

“I cannot lie to you,” Namdar said, smiling at last. “The army comes in, and they fire at empty buildings. It is a drama — it is just to entertain.”

Entertain whom? I asked.

“America,” he said.

Vying To Be Toughest

Vying To Be Toughest

By Stephen Lendman

08 September, 2008
Countercurrents.org

Ignoring public sentiment, both party nominees stress “national security” and face off on who’s toughest on “terrorism.” For 2009, expect more of the same. A continued right wing agenda. Bigger budgets for militarism. Police state repression for enforcement. Little attention to public needs. No end to wars and occupation. Possible new ones against Iran, Pakistan, elsewhere in Eurasia, and a resurgent confrontation with Russia.

Welcome to the future. Securing it for capital. More of the same after eight years under Bush. New policies the same as failed ones. Hopes again raised and then dashed. Repeating November 2006. Everything changed but stayed the same. New faces, same agenda. All parts interchangeable. A two party duopoly assures it. Get prepared. The new incumbent will disappoint, and if it’s John McCain consider Chalmers Johnson’s advice about a Vancouver condo for safety.  (Read more)

Die, die deeply

Die, die deeply

qanababy3.jpg
Die. Die the way They want you to die. No one will weep.
Die by gunshots, by missiles, by sea shelling, or air strikes.
Die out of starvation. Die under the open sky.
Don�t run, they�ll get you on the roads.
Stay where you are and die, stand still, don�t even attempt to move, just die.
By forbidden arms, by �allowed� arms, die.
And die together, whole family members, so no one will cry when you go.
And down here, we won�t even be able to look at the pictures of your corps.
Silently die, don�t scream.
And stay right where you die, none of us is able to reach you, or to collect your remains from under the rubbles. None of us is able to know how many you are. None of us can protect you from the kind of death that they choose for you.

Baby, go to sleep my darling , and don�t move. I�ll caress your hair through the night and hum your favorite tones, I�ll keep the wolves away .and in the morning , I�ll fix your ripped pants and wash your white shirt.
Sleep my baby, I�ll hold you in my arms, bring your face close to my heart , and whisper to the angels , ask them to tell you fairy tales.
Sing for him Fayrouz (the most famous Lebanese singer who lost a son when he was a toddler). Sing for him as you sang for your son. And sing loud, he�s afraid of the dark. �ya maymti, you�re still so young, you , like the roses , didn�t reach you first year yet��

To Her, why are your eyes open like this? What are you looking for?
Here, there are the remains right in front of you. Your parents� remains .
Is this your mother�s arm? Take it , hug it , smell to find out whether it�s your mom�s or your dad�s �
They�re not exactly open, your eyes. They�re half closed, as if you were getting ready to fall asleep.
You seem to enjoy your nap. Doesn�t that piece of cement on your left foot bother you? Don�t you fear colic pains with your tummy uncovered like this?
I�ll cover you before the night falls, and I�ll undo your pony tail so you don�t get a headache.
Did you ever sleep in the open sky before, your body lying on thorns and rocks? Where do the poor sleep then?
Your face is still white, and your cheek feels like silk. I know. I passed my fingers on it secretly , fearing I�d wake you up.
You�re far from the rest of your family. Who threw you so far away? Who left you alone, in the middle of nowhere?

To Him, Did you know , when you joined the small truck, and stretched your right arm comfortably behind the back of the person sitting next to you , that that hand was to remain there for ever ?
And that feeling of relief that appears in the way your eyes are closed and your mouth is half opened, did you get it the minute you left your burning town? Did you know when you move your head backwards, that it will land on the remains of your loved ones ?
And in your current sleep, and in the wildest dreams you might be having, does it occur to you that some of us would rather not have your pictures published , nor your story told, not to heart their �feelings�.

Die, die deeply.
Go as far away as you can from the poison their air fighters are dropping , and that contained in the words of some of your own people.
And up there , when you meet your god, ask for victory for those who are working so this never happens to you again.

Hanady Salman
As-Safir , July 22nd, 2006

Editors crying while reading their reporters� stories, photographers breaking down, colleagues calling their kids in the middle of the night after seeing pictures from the south, weird sounds during editorial meetings ( you know how men like to hide their tears and emotions) , women wearing black as a �natural reflex�, men growing the beards, even our publisher doesn�t wear suits anymore.

People are sleeping here, somewhere in the basement. Women sleep in the nearby furnished apartment building.
In the morning, we don�t greet each other anymore; we just look deep into each other�s eyes. Some turn their faces away, some lecture about the necessity of being strong. We touch each other a lot. Hugs here, holding hands there, a mere tap on the shoulder.. you name it.


16- 7 � 2006
Dear friends and colleagues,

You will all have to excuse me for sending this. These are pictures of the bodies of babies killed by the Israelis in South Lebanon. They are all burnt. I need your help. I am almost certain these pictures won’t be published in the West, although they are associated press pictures. I need your help exposing them if you can. The problem is these are people who were asked to leave their village , Teir Hafra , this morning , within two hours , or else. … So those who were able to flee went to the closer UN base where they were asked to leave. I think that after the Qana massacres in 1996 when civilians were bombed after they took shelter in UN headquarters, the UN does not want to be responsible for the lives of civilians. A FEW MINUTES AGO, the Israeli asked the people of Al Bustan village in the south to evacuate their homes. I am afraid massacres will keep happening as long as Israeli actions are unchecked. Please help us if you can

To the American Patriots

To the American Patriots

The influence of huge corporations on the democratic system has become so burdensome that democracy is becoming a rubber stamp for the economic giants who increasingly control the interests and workings of the society. They now thrust to take power in every realm. These economic giants are consolidating their rule worldwide. Because all political power will be controlled by these giants, if someone attempts to take a democratic position and do something against corporate domination, they will be destroyed. Such is their power, if they are allowed to have it. What is the alternative that can save the American nation from this fate? Economic democracy. If there is local economic control, local economic empowerment, then democracy will continue as a healthy form of government and the national spirit will remain vital. Economic democracy will cure the undermining of the democratic process by multinational corporate interests. People must be given an alternative. The call for economic democracy should be widely propagated. Multinational corporations will revile it, but the people will like it. They will rally in support, for it is an idea that will restore their dignity, their economic security, and the democratic ideals and freedoms they cherish. Let economic democracy become the cry of the American patriots. – Ravi Logan


by Ravi Logan
World Prout Assembly
August 22, 2008

08/22/08 – “WPA” – Humans organize themselves in social aggregates to meet their collective needs and express their collective potentials. These social units have evolved in size and nature over the course of human existence, going from bands, to tribes, to chiefdoms, to city-states, to nations and empires.

Modern political theory has given special importance to the role of nations. “Nationalism has been the idée force in the political, cultural, and economic life of Western Europe and the Western hemisphere since the late eighteenth century.” [Dictionary of the History of Ideas: s.v. “Nationalism”]

Seminal development of the concept of nation was undertaken by Johann Herder during the Enlightenment Era. Herder replaced the traditional concept of a political state with that of the “folk-nation”, a collective entity that organically emerges and gives expression to a “national spirit” or “volksgeist”.

For Herder, then, a common culture, rather than political boundaries, defines a people. The contemporary conception of nation retains the substance of Herder’s view, nations being viewed as a form of self-defined cultural and social community in which members of the nation share a common identity.

So a nation is not the same as a country or a nation-state. While a country connotes a geographical space, a nation may be without a clearly defined homeland. For example, peoples who have experienced a diaspora, such as the Palestinians, are not settled in a homeland, yet remain a nation. A state possesses clear political sovereignty over a geographical space. Many nations, by contrast, though having a homeland, are without sovereignty. Nations without sovereignty include the Tibetans, Kurds, Scots, Basques, and tribal nations of Africa and the Americas.

A state that is the homeland of a particular nation is called a nation-state. Most modern states are nation-states. However, some states contain within them more than one nation. Great Britain is comprised of four recognized “home nations.” China has several internal nations, most notably the Tibetans. Iraq contains the Kurd, Sunni and Shia nations. In 2006, the Canadian government officially recognized “that the Quebecois form a nation within a united Canada.” And the term first nations has been used to identify groups that share an aboriginal culture and seek official recognition or autonomy.
What Defines National Identity?

Though the idea that all humans are affiliated with national groupings has been prevalent since the Enlightenment, there has not been agreement on what are the factors that that create a national identity. (National identity refers both to the distinguishing features of the group and to the individual’s sense of belonging to it.) Among the factors most commonly identified as giving rise to a national identity are:
common descent or ancestry (ie, ethnicity), common language, common culture, and common religion.

Note that the lack of one or more of these factors does not prevent the creation of a national identity. Switzerland has four national languages. The United States is so multi-ethnic that the mythic sense of “melting pot” is part of its national identity. India possesses greater cultural diversity than does the whole of Europe. And the Indonesian nation is comprised of sizeable populations of Muslims, Hindus and Christians.

Note also that these national identity forming factors may give rise to more than one nation occupying the same geographical space, as is the effect of religion in North Ireland, or tribal ethnicity in Kenya, or language in Spain.

What is more important than the particular factor or factors in creating national identity is that they be shared characteristics, and that they give individuals in the society a sense of belonging to the national group.

Because national identity is ultimately a subjective feeling that creates a shared sense of belonging, Indian philosopher Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar has argued that nations are created not by particular common factors, but by the sentiments they evoke:

In reality a kind of sentiment created either directly or indirectly on the basis of one or more factors — like language, religion, etc. — plays a vital role in forming a nation. The factors themselves are quite unimportant. It is sentiment and nothing else that creates a nation. [To the Patriots, 1960]
India as a Case Study

Sarkar uses the history of India as a rich case study in the way that national identity rises and dissolves, and he draws from his study of Indian national identity important observations about national unity. In particular, he uses Indian history to show that the lack of a strong national identity may leave a people without the cohesion to resist invasion, colonization, or balkanization. The historical cycles of nation formation and dissipation in India that Sarkar describes to illustrate this thesis are worth reviewing for the insights they offer on the nation-building challenges confronting the world today.
1. Aryan / Non-Aryan

The migration of aggressive Aryan people into India, originating probably from the East Caspian Sea region, brought the subjugation of the less aggressive non-Aryans of North India, who had been without a unified social order or national identity.

The Aryans formed a national identity around their Vedic culture and language, and around their Caucasian ethnicity. The subjugated indigenous Indians, in turn, developed their own collective identity based on their subjugated non-Aryan status.

Thus, for some time, North India was divided into two internal nations: the Aryans and the non-Aryans. But over time, there came to be linguistic, cultural and ethnic blending, so that the basis for the two national identities eventually died out. When this occurred, India was again without a strong sense of national unity; it again became nationless.
2. Buddhist / Non-Buddhist

Although Buddhism began around 500 BCE, its presence in India did not become prominent until it came under the sponsorship of Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd Century BCE. Prior to this time, the Buddhists possessed a strong sense of identity and unity, becoming an internal Buddhist nation, while the non-Buddhists of the early Buddhist era were disunited and without national sentiment.

However, after the Buddhists gained the patronage of Ashoka’s regime and began to exercise their power, an anti-Buddhist sentiment developed. This became the basis for a non-Buddhist or Brahminical nation. So, once again, India was comprised of two internal nations.

Several factors — including the revitalization of Brahminical philosophy by Shankaracharya — eventually brought about the downfall of Buddhism in India and the end of the Buddhist national identity. This was underway by about the 9th-10th Century CE. With the downfall of Buddhism, the Brahminical national identity also dissipated, leaving India once again nationless.
3. Muslims / Hindus

Although Islam had become an expansionist force, it was unable to conquer India during the period when India possessed internal cohesion around the Buddhist and Brahminical national sentiments. But after these sentiments dissipated, India became weakened, and was then conquered by the Moguls, who established a dynastic empire in India.

The Moguls brought their national identity, based around their Turkish culture and ethnicity, their Persian language, and their Islamic religion. They also possessed an identity as conquerors, and established a rule that was oppressive to the non-Muslims. The oppression of the non-Muslims united the indigenous population around an anti-Muslim sentiment and around sentimental identification with their Hindu religion and Sanskrit derived languages. India again came to have two internal nations: Muslim and Hindu.

As in the Aryan/non-Aryan period, cultural, linguistic and interethnic blending eventually developed between the Muslims and Hindus. The national sentiment of the Muslims weakened, and with its dissipation the Muslim and Hindu nations died (though the Mogul political administration remained in place). Once again, India was nationless. Eventually, India began to split up into a number of principalities.
4. British / Indian

Beginning in the 18th Century, with India weakened from lack of a strong national identity, the British were easily able to conquer and colonize it. Unlike past conquests of India, not just northern India was conquered, but the whole of the sub-continent.

The British were not an invading people, like the Aryans and Moguls, but colonizers who did not settle in India. So they did not constitute an internal nation. But their colonial rule did cause the whole of India to become united on the basis of an anti-British sentiment. This national identity gained strength from a renewal of pride in India’s indigenous spirituality — promoted by Swami Vivekananda in particular — and a trans-India unity was fostered through the use of the English language as a lingua franca. For the first time in India’s history, a national identity emerged that embraced the whole of India.

With the growth of Indian nationalism, a long, protracted struggle for independence took hold. With its success in 1949 the British were expelled and independence obtained.
5. India / Pakistan

P.R. Sarkar astutely observed that, because the Indian independence movement embraced the goal of attaining political independence (as opposed to economic independence), the Muslim population of India came to feel that, with independence, they would constitute a political minority, subject to the rule of the Hindu majority.

Out of this fear, an Islamic national identity developed, and with it the demand for a separate Muslim state. Hindu independence leaders eventually capitulated to this demand, and the spacially divided nation-state of Pakistan was created, comprised of East and West Pakistan.

Because the Hindu population was a strong majority within India, for the most part they did not develop a sentiment around their religious identity. However, in two border regions — Bengal and Punjab — where the Hindu population would have become subjugated minorities within Pakistan, this sentiment did develop. So, when the partition of India occurred, Bengal and the Punjab were also partitioned.
6. Pakistan / Bangladesh

With the formation of the Muslim state of Pakistan, anti-Hindu sentiment among the Muslims dissipated as a unifying force, and the cultural, linguistic and ethnic differences between the peoples of East and West Pakistan came to the fore. The importance given to these differences was exacerbated by the domination of East Pakistan by West Pakistan.

Eventually a strong anti-West Pakistan national sentiment emerged among the people of East Pakistan, who already possessed a strong identity around their common Bengali culture, and an independence struggle erupted. The success of this struggle resulted in the political break-up of East and West Pakistan in 1972 and the independence of Bangladesh.

Pakistan is not ethnically homogenous, as is Bangladesh, being comprised of several distinct ethnic groups: the Baluchi, Sindhi, Punjabi, Muhajirs and Pathan. Pakistan now lacks a strong sentiment for a cohesive national identity, and so ethnic based sentiments have become more prominent. Ethnic insurgencies are disrupting the nation in both Baluchistan and Waziristan (the Northwest Frontier Province tribal area bordering Afghanistan that has strong pro-Taliban sentiment).
7. Post-independence India

In its post-independence era, India, much like Pakistan, failed to form a strong national identity. Fissiparous tendencies developed within India — a country of huge diversity. These fissiparous tendencies formed around religious, ethnic, regional, and linguistic sentiments.

Early in the post-independence era, the nation’s language policy exacerbated divisiveness. During British rule, English became a lingua franca for the sub-continent, which (as was noted above) facilitated the emergence of an Indian national identity. But post-independence national policy diminished the role of English and promoted use of regional languages. More problematically, language became the sole factor for demarcating state boundaries. These policies inflamed language sentiment, and language competition, at the expense of nation building.

The most conspicuous of India’s internal conflicts have involved religion sentiment. The Sikh rebellion in the Punjab in 1972 was a particularly dramatic example of tensions created around religious sentiment. More significant has been the conflict between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir, a conflict which has led India and Pakistan to war on two occasions, and which almost erupted in a third war three years ago. (Had international pressure on India and Pakistan not contained this powder keg, the use of nuclear weapons, or the involvement of China, could have come into play.)

The corrosive impact of religious sentiment on Indian national identity has also been fueled by a strong Hindu fundamentalist movement. Hindu fundamentalism has fostered a Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva. Several times in recent years, the Hindutva movement has fomented bloody inter-religious strife, most notably between Hindu and Muslim communities in the state of Gujarat.

Can Hindutva provide India a viable sentiment for building a strong national identity and national unity, as is proclaimed by its advocates? The mass slaughter in Gujarat in 2002 indicates that Hindutva is again dividing India into two internal nations — this time one based on the sentiment of Hindu fundamentalism, and one formed on an anti-fundamentalism sentiment.
Developing a Viable National Sentiment

India is not alone in struggling to find a suitable sentiment for building national unity. Many post-colonial nation-states face similar difficulty.

In some cases, this has led to acute crises. Prominent examples in the world today are the situations in Kenya and Iraq. In both of these states, a unifying national sentiment has failed to develop to dissipate divisive ethnic or religious sentiments. In the case of Iraq, the Bush Administration holds faith (or disingenuously asserts) that the sentiments of freedom and democracy will provide the inspiration for nation building. Most informed observers, however, doubt that this will be viable.

In many areas of the Middle East, Islamic fundamentalism is being advocated as a unifying sentiment. In Iran, fundamentalism became a powerful force in the formation of Iran’s Post-Shah Islamic state. But there now appears to be a weakening of the acceptance of this sentiment, requiring that the Islamic state be maintained more by the dictatorial political control of the Mullahs than by popular embracing of Islamic fundamentalism as the basis for Iranian national identity.

Afghanistan, under the rule of the Taliban, also attempted to create an Afghan nation on the basis of Islamic fundamentalism; and the Taliban also had to resort to repressive force to maintain Islamic rule.

For lack of a unifying national sentiment, Somalia has become a failed-state. A number of other African countries have the potential to become failed states — if they have not already — due to the divisiveness of internal tribal identities.

As was noted, the Enlightenment philosopher, Johann Herder, conceived that all humans are divided into national groupings having a national spirit, or volkgeist. But often, these national groupings do not coincide with modern nation-states, but exist within them, leading to discord and even to failed states.

Moreover, as the history of India demonstrates, the shared sentiment needed to form a national identity may not exist, leaving people without a sense of nationhood. Or, a national identity may form around sentiments not shared in common by the inhabitants of a place, giving rise to anti-sentiments and the creation of opposing internal nations.

While a strong national identity can serve to empower, sustain, protect, and inspire a people, developing a proper sentiment for that national identity has been a perennial challenge.
What Future for the American Nation?

Since attaining its independence from England, the United States has experienced both success and challenge in the formation of a national identity. Core values, common cultural traits, and common historical undertakings (eg, manifest destiny, World War II, and the Cold War) have all served to vitalize America’s national spirit. But the cohesion of its national identity has also been frayed at times (eg, during the Indochina War), and, during the Civil War, America became a country with two internal nations: the Union and the Confederacy.

The destruction of the World Trade Center in 2002 produced a spike in national sentiment. The diverse American population felt an uncommon degree of unity. But this unity rapidly dissipated, undermined by partisan politics, a war without sound cause or objective, greed-driven wealth inequality, righteous fundamentalist political agendas, subversion of constitutional principles, growing privatization of the commons, and erosion of the social safety net.

The growing polarization of the American people is evident in the intensity of sentiments expressed in the 2008 Presidential election. A strong current of feeling exists that this election represents a pivotal moment in American history, that two paths to the future are sharply delineated.

In this milieu of polarization and uncertainty, Presidential candidate Barak Obama senses the need for a revitalization of America’s national identity, and he has vigorously projected a positive ideal around which a strengthened national identity might emerge. This is the ideal of faith in the capacities of a united people.

Obama’s effort to project a positive and unifying sentiment is in sharp contrast to the exceptionally partisan and polarizing approach of the Bush Presidency. The neo-conservative agenda of the Bush era Republican Party may be without historical parallel in its corrosive impact on the national spirit.

So Obama’s effort to rally the American people around the audacity of hope and the motto, “Yes, we can,” is a constructive initiative. But is the affirmation of hope sufficient to build a national identity that can meet America’s current challenges?

Hope is necessary, empowerment is necessary, but not sufficient. America’s problems, in the main, arise from the dominant economic system that gives primacy to short term profits over human needs and ecological vitality. The American people require a common sentiment based on a new vision of development. Hope alone will not suffice.
Economic Democracy

At the root of the disempowerment of the American people is corruption of democracy by powerful economic forces, with the collusion of neo-conservatives and, to a lesser extent, religious fundamentalists.

A wide spectrum of progressive forces seeks the return of democracy in America. In so doing, they implicitly seek independence from the growing tyranny of the meta-corporations. But this will not come through “regime change” or, more broadly, through struggle to revitalize political democracy.

P.R. Sarkar observed that the call for political independence in India’s independence movement era was a powerful factor leading, tragically, to the partition of India. He asserted that India would have been served better had its leaders followed the course of China’s revolutionaries and called instead for economic independence.

Just as India could not form a strong national identity on the basis of political independence, so America today cannot revitalize its national identity on the platform of strengthening political democracy.

America’s leaders, and its people, would do well to embrace instead the call for economic democracy. Economic democracy, properly conceived, could rally and empower the American people around a unity of purpose well-suited to their circumstances. That is to say, it would create a common agenda to replace the tyranny of power and profits for the meta-corporations with the economic empowerment and enrichment of the mass.

What is economic democracy? In the expanded conception of this term given by PROUT (the Progressive Utilization Theory), economic democracy has four principle objectives:

First, the minimum requirements and basic amenities of life should be guaranteed to all.

Second, there should be ever-increasing purchasing power enjoyed by all.

Third, economic decision-making power should be vested in the hands of local people, not outside economic or political interests, and should be made primarily on the basis of collective necessity, not profit for investors.

Fourth, locally generated capital should not be drained from the local community.

The influence of huge corporations on the democratic system has become so burdensome that democracy is becoming a rubber stamp for the economic giants who increasingly control the interests and workings of the society. They now thrust to take power in every realm. These economic giants are consolidating their rule worldwide. Because all political power will be controlled by these giants, if someone attempts to take a democratic position and do something against corporate domination, they will be destroyed. Such is their power, if they are allowed to have it.

What is the alternative that can save the American nation from this fate? Economic democracy. If there is local economic control, local economic empowerment, then democracy will continue as a healthy form of government and the national spirit will remain vital. Economic democracy will cure the undermining of the democratic process by multinational corporate interests.

People must be given an alternative. The call for economic democracy should be widely propagated. Multinational corporations will revile it, but the people will like it. They will rally in support, for it is an idea that will restore their dignity, their economic security, and the democratic ideals and freedoms they cherish.

Let economic democracy become the cry of the American patriots.
______________________
Ravi Logan is Associate Director of the Prout Institute (www.proutinstitute.org) and the author of PROUT: A Solutions Oriented Paradigm of Development. See www.proutinstitute.org/books.html to order. He can be reached at rlogan@igc.org.

The Red White and Blue Roots of Terrorism

The Red White and Blue Roots of Terrorism

By: Peter Chamberlin

As far as I know, nobody has focused upon the real roots of the war on terror, which are also the solution to it—American-sponsored terrorism. Paid military extremist types, trained by us to carry-out attack missions upon civilians are terrorists, our terrorists.They attack civilians, often women and children, as an indirect method of warfare, to topple governments who oppose American expansion. Has anybody questioned what military challenge the world would face today, if the US suddenly stopped all of these covert programs that perpetrate most of the world’s “terrorism”?

If the CIA/Mossad simply stopped training, arming, financing and transporting the (mostly Islamic) fighters/mercenaries all over the world (as it has been deeply in the business of doing for the past thirty or more years), would world peace then break-out? If our government was not in the business of killing the people whose relatives then make war against American and allied forces, would our soldiers be fighting anywhere in the world?

Pick any ongoing conflict in the world and see if you do not see the secret hands of the United States/Israel busily at work fanning the flames. These flames are the legends which feed the American homeland political fires, giving the “war on terror” the popular support it must have to continue its churning destruction, which, even now, is escalating.

To those who “have eyes to see,” it is obvious that the secret CIA terrorism that ignites the terror war also drives our electoral process. The hometown “heroes” of the war inspire support for either presidential candidate and his congressional supporters who seem most supportive of the “heroic” war effort. If the CIA minions were not driving the terror war and the fear that fuels national support for the genocidal fight, there would be little to no support for continuing the fight against terrorism. How much “terrorism” would then be left to fight?

The most vital example of American state terrorism being translated into war and regime change is Pakistan, which is also currently the hottest spot in the government plan to ignite world war.It is here where you can clearly see the circular logic that fuels the terror war.American-funded “Islamists” are destabilizing Pakistan to justify American intervention to seize Pakistani nukes before the American-funded “Islamists” can get their hands on them.

The ongoing series of cross-border attacks upon Pakistan and the recent Pakistani/American “brainstorming” session aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Indian Ocean mark a new phase in the war to takeover Pakistan. The escalation of the terror war to include Pakistan was announced by Bush today, where Pakistan was proclaimed a new war theater, like Iraq and Afghanistan:

“They are all theaters in the same overall struggle. In all three places, extremists are using violence and terror in an attempt to impose their ideology on whole populations,” Bush said in the advance text.

[Bush could not have spoken more truthfully if he had tried. The “extremists” who are using violence and terror are America’s extremists. All those who are being accused and targeted by America’s cross-border raiders are the extremists like Jalaluddin Haqqani, whom we have trained and supported in the past. The areas being targeted in Bajaur and S. Waziristan are the locations of our (CIA) former training camps and American/Saudi-funded madrassas. Most of the other raids have targeted Baitullah Mehsud and his men (who are also tied to secret American training programs), who move freely throughout the region promoting the terrorism that will justify American actions, in possession of the most-advanced communication gear and possibly even satellite intelligence. Pakistan’s army should read the signs.]

Bush carried-on with his confession:


“Defeating these terrorist and extremists is in Pakistan’s interest because they pose a mortal threat to Pakistan’s future as a free and democratic nation,” Bush added in the prepared remarks.

“Defeating these terrorist and extremists is also Pakistan’s responsibility because every nation has an obligation to govern its own territory and make certain that it does not become a safe haven for terror,” he reiterated.

If only he had admitted that the extremists were our extremists….

By this line of thinking it seems clear that we can most successfully oppose the war to create an American-dominated New World Order by exposing the American terror component of that war.

peter.chamberlin@yahoo.com