‘The International’

Through movies like this, the American people and the world are being indoctrinated with the idea that the encroaching American/corporate world state is all-powerful and cannot be stopped. This is total B.S.Resistance is not futile. Do your part to fight the surrender to anything “inevitable.”

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Netanyahu said to OK hundreds of new settlements

Netanyahu said to OK hundreds of new settlements

JERUSALEM : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon authorise hundreds of new homes to be built in the occupied West Bank despite US calls for a settlement freeze, a senior minister said on Sunday.

“The prime minister will announce in the coming days the construction of several hundred additional homes and public buildings,” Transport Minister Yisrael Katz, a close ally of the hawkish premier, told public radio.

Netanyahu plans to authorise between 400 and 600 housing units, according to Israeli media.

On Friday, a senior official said Netanyahu would approve a burst of settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territory before considering a moratorium sought by the United States.

The announcement sparked widespread criticism from the international community and outrage from the Palestinians, who called it “unacceptable.”

Israel’s main ally Washington, which has for months been demanding that the Jewish state freeze all settlement activity in order to kick-start the stalled Middle East peace process, said it regretted the plans.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, home to some half a million Israelis, are among the thorniest issues of the decades-old Middle East conflict and one of the main obstacles to reaching a peace deal.

Confronting Russia? U.S. Marines In The Caucasus

Confronting Russia? U.S. Marines In The Caucasus

by Rick Rozoff


On August 21 the chief of the U.S. Marine Corps, General James Conway, arrived in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to begin the training of his host country’s military for deployment to the Afghan war theater under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
"During the meeting the sides discussed a broad spectrum of Georgian-U.S bilateral relations and the situation in Georgia’s occupied territory." [1] Occupied territory(ies) meant Abkhazia and South Ossetia, now independent nations with Russian troops stationed in both.
Conway met with Georgian Defense Minister Davit (Vasil) Sikharulidze, who on the same day gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said that the training provided by the U.S. Marine Corps could be employed, in addition to counterinsurgency operations in South Asia, in his country’s "very difficult security environment."
Associated Press reported that "Asked if he was referring to the possibility of another war with Russia, he said, ‘In general, yes.’"
The Georgian defense chief added, "This experience will be important for the Georgian armed forces itself — for the level of training." [2]
Sikharulidze was forced to retract his comments within hours of their utterance, and not because they weren’t true but because they were all too accurate. The Pentagon was not eager to have this cat be let out of the bag.
Three days later American military instructors arrived in Georgia on the heels of the visit of Marine Commandant Conway, whose previous campaigns included the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the first assault on Fallujah in that nation in 2004.
Three days after that Georgian Defense Minister Sikharulidze – former ambassador to the United States, head of the NATO division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and deputy head of the Georgian Mission of NATO in Brussels – who was appointed to the post last year by the country’s mercurial leader Mikheil Saakashvili after the disastrous war with Russia last August, was sacked by the same. "Saakashvili criticized [Sikharulidze] for not doing enough to prepare the military ‘to stop an aggressive and dangerous enemy’ in possible future conflicts." [3]
Whatever led to the defense minister’s dismissal and replacement by 28-year-old Bachana (Bacho) Akhalaia it wasn’t due to his bellicose intentions towards Russia. In announcing the transition Saakahshvili said, "We need a tougher approach. Bacho Akhalaia is the right man for the job” [4]
Immediately after being named new defense chief Akhalaia identified "three priorities of the defense Ministry: ensuring peace, modernization of the army, and NATO integration."
In his own words he said: "Modernization envisages the improvement of the Georgian army’s weapons and equipment, as well as the training of soldiers and officers. And NATO integration remains our only way. Georgia should have an army that will not be a burden on NATO, but will strengthen it." [5]
The Civil Georgia web site reported on September 1 that the U.S. Marines in the nation had launched "intensive training" which would "focus on skill sets necessary for Georgian forces to operate in a counterinsurgency environment…."
The same report divulged that "A similar training program was conducted by U.S. military instructors for the Georgian military ahead of their deployment in Iraq. Georgia withdrew about 2,000 of its troops from Iraq during last year’s war with Russia." [6]
The 2,000 U.S.-trained Georgia troops in question constituted the third largest foreign deployment in Iraq last year with only America and Britain providing more occupation forces. They were also stationed near the Iranian border. When Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia last August 7-8 triggered a five-day war with Russia, the Pentagon transported the Georgian soldiers in Iraq back home for combat in the South Caucasus had the conflict not ended on August 12.
The U.S. Defense Department’s training and arming of the Georgian military started long before the deployment to Iraq and that underway for Afghanistan.
In April of 2002 the Pentagon instituted the Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) under the broader Operation Enduring Freedom "Global War on Terror" campaign whose main target was Afghanistan. For the first nine months the GTEP was run by U.S. Army Special Forces – Green Berets – assigned to Special Operations Command Europe. In December of 2002 the program was passed on from the Green Berets to the U.S. Marine Corps.
Later the Pentagon created a Georgian Sustainment & Stability Operations Program (GSSOP) under the aegis of the Defense Department’s European Command, whose top military commander is also NATO Supreme Allied Commander. This program concentrated on training Georgia’s officer staff as well as soldiers for eventual deployment to Iraq, NATO integration and armed assaults against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The GSSOP succeeded in all three of its objectives, though not to the degree intended in the third category.
The redeployment of U.S. Marines to Georgia, then, is indicative of a continuous effort by the Pentagon ranging over more than seven years to prepare the Georgian armed forces – an American and NATO proxy army – for wars abroad and in the South Caucasus alike.
On August 31 the latest mission began: "The ISAF program to train the Georgian military for implementing international missions in Afghanistan started at the National Training Center of the Armed Forces of Georgia in Krtsanisi on August 31. The 31st infantry battalion of the Georgian Armed Forces will pass a six-month intensive training to participate in NATO operations within ISAF, led by an expeditionary brigade of U.S. Marines…." [7]
On September 2 the newly appointed Georgian Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia summoned (or was summoned by) the ambassadors of NATO countries in Georgia and he reiterated his triad of priorities. "The minister presented during the meeting the key challenges of the Ministry and discussed the priorities, such as peace, modernization and NATO integration." [8]
The same day a delegation of the German Bundeswehr arrived in the country and, visiting the Defense Ministry, discussed information technology. "The purpose of the visit is to integrate an informational codification system of the Georgian MoD with the NATO general system," an initiative "implemented within the framework of the Bilateral Cooperation Plan [of] 2009 between Georgia and the Federal Republic of Germany." [9]
During the same time it was announced that the American Marine Corps was sending a delegation to Georgia’s neighbor in the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan, which has also recently been levied for more troops for the U.S.’s and NATO’s war in Afghanistan.
From September 14-18 U.S. Marines will "examine the training of the Azerbaijan Marine Corps" and "according to the bilateral military cooperation program signed between Azerbaijan and the United States, U.S. navy experts will assess the skills of the Azerbaijani naval special forces…." [10]
Another Azerbaijani news source added, "After getting familiar with the combat activities of the marine battalions of the Azerbaijani Naval Forces, they will make their own recommendations." [11]
Azerbaijan’s navy is deployed in the Caspian Sea which is also bordered by Iran and Russia.
A week before, September 7-9, the nation’s Defense Ministry will conduct a meeting of the Coordination Group on Azerbaijan’s Strategic Defense Outline and it announced that on the same precise dates as the visit of the U.S. Marine delegation "A working meeting on creating the Strategic Defense Outline and supporting the preparation of the final document will be held in Baku on September 14-18 with the participation of experts from the US and other countries." [12]
On August 1 the nation’s press revealed that "NATO and Azerbaijan are discussing the possibility of using the country’s air space by the alliance’s contingents to reach Afghanistan.
"’We are holding talks [about using the air space] with several countries including Azerbaijan,’ said a NATO official, who asked to remain anonymous." [13]
The third nation in the South Caucasus, Armenia, is also part of plans by NATO to further integrate the strategically vital region and it too has been recruited for the Alliance’s expanding war in South Asia.
On August 21 the Armenian ambassador to NATO, Samvel Mkrtchyan, met with the bloc’s new Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and "said that Armenia is inclined to develop partnership ties with NATO" [14] and "Armenian servicemen will join the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan shortly." [15]
The expansion of the Afghanistan-Pakistan war by Washington and NATO is pulling in regional states and increasingly vast tracts of Eurasia.
Last month General David Petraeus, Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), which is prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, visited the former Soviet Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. While in Kazakhstan, which shares borders with Russia and China, Petraeus met with his counterpart, Kazakh Minister of Defense Adilbek Zhaksybekov, and "discussions centered around building on the already strong strategic partnership that exists between Kazakhstan and the United States." [16]
He also inspected the U.S. and NATO base at Manas in Kyrgyzstan, which had been closed to the Pentagon and its Alliance allies earlier this year, but the use of which was again secured by Petraeus in August.
On September 5 NATO is to begin a week-long multinational emergency management exercise in Kazakhstan which will include forces from the United States, Germany, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Finland, Britain, Spain, Sweden, Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. That is, a 20-nation exercise in Central Asia whose participants include six former Soviet republics and two former Yugoslav states.
In late August the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the British Armed Forces led a delegation to Turkmenistan to discuss bilateral military cooperation.
The Afghan war is the center of a Western military operation that is broadening into wider and wider circles throughout Eurasia and in varying degrees taking in dozens of nations from the Chinese border and the Indian Ocean to the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea. Nations being absorbed into this military transit, overflight, and troop recruitment and training network include all those in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), the Black Sea region (Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine) and the Southern Balkans (Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) in addition to Afghanistan and Pakistan. With the exception of the Central Asian states (so far), all of those nations mentioned above have sent troops to the war theater or soon will, Serbia alone possibly excepted.
Kuwait and Iraq are also used to transfer troops and equipment to the Afghan war zone.
The above nations include several that border Russia, China, Iran and Syria, four of a small handful of states in the world not subservient to the U.S. and its NATO and Asian NATO allies.
On August 30 it was reported that Bulgarian troops scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan are to train in neighboring Macedonia as part of "Bulgarian-Macedonian-American training in the framework of the Bulgarian-American" joint arrangement for use of the military base in Novo Selo in Bulgaria. [17] At roughly the same time U.S. National Guard troops were in Macedonia training the nation’s special forces is exercises that were described as "enriching and building the battle skills of both armies." [18]
While U.S. and Bulgarian military personnel were training in Macedonia for NATO deployments to Afghanistan and elsewhere, Macedonian troops were participating in an exercise in Serbia "involving medical units…with the participation of officers and units of NATO forces and Partnership for Peace members states." [19]
In the second half of last month American servicemen in the Joint Task
Force-East, which is now based in Romania, trained with Bulgarian and Romanian opposite numbers "to build interoperability capabilities and develop relationships with other militaries in regional security cooperation."
Drills were held in both Eastern European nations and "More than 3,800 Romanian, Bulgarian, U.S. troops and civilians [participated] in
the three-month exercise." [20]
The Pentagon and NATO have acquired seven new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania in recent years, including air bases for the transit of troops and weapons to Georgia and Afghanistan as well as for potential bombing runs against other nations such as Iran.
Last month a Bulgarian news source reported that the Pentagon "will invest in infrastructure and construction projects with a combined price tag of $45 million for their Bulgarian bases" in addition to budgeting $61.15 million a year ago for "construction works at its training area in Novo Selo." [21]
Bulgaria and Romania face the western Black Sea across from Georgia and Abkhazia and offer the U.S. naval and air bases for current and future armed conflicts to the east and the south from the Caucasus to South Asia, the Persian Gulf to Northeast Africa.
Regarding Southeastern Europe in general, the new NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen last week identified the Balkans as a "top priority" and "said that his task is to get all of the Balkan countries into the Euro-Atlantic structure in the coming years." [22]
In late August the U.S.’s European Command held a 40-nation exercise in Bosnia, Combined Endeavour 2009, to further integrate nations from the region and beyond into NATO. The chief military commander of NATO forces in Bosnia, Italian General Sabato Errico, said of the exercise that it was conducted "in the spirit of Partnership for Peace" and that "this exercise offers an excellent opportunity to focus on one of the key elements of the Partnership and the Alliance: interoperability. Allies and partners who participate in NATO-led collective security operations must be able to work together and to communicate effectively – exercises such as Combined Endeavour allow us to practice this." [23]
Last week NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Turkey and pressured his host to provide more troops for the Alliance’s war in Afghanistan, stating that the bloc’s deployment there would last "as long as it takes." [24]
On the same day Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that his country would be more than doubling its troops in Afghanistan from 795 to 1,600. At a joint press conference with NATO’s Rasmusssen Davutoglu added, "We are appealing to NATO countries to take measures against the PKK," alluding to the counterinsurgency war against the Kurdistan Workers Party. [25]
The war in Afghanistan is developing in intensity and in range, in depth and in width. The August 29 edition of the British newspaper The Independent reported that the top military commander of American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, will demand 20,000 more Western soldiers for the war. That is, after last month’s elections, the excuse for  what were presented as temporary U.S. and NATO buildups over the past several months. Other estimates range as high as 40,000 additional forces. [26]
The new Chief of the General Staff of the British Army, General David Richards, last year said "he wanted to see a surge of up to 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, including 5,000 more British soldiers" [27] and is now in a position to deliver on his demand.
Central Command Chief General Petraeus last month announced plans to launch an intelligence training center to be coordinated "with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the (NATO) International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe" that will "train military officers, covert agents and analysts who agree to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan for up to a decade." [28]
Late last month it was announced that the Pentagon was reassigning its 3rd Special Forces Group (U.S. Army Special Forces), which has been deployed to sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, and now the "3rd Special Forces Group will be responsible for Afghanistan and Pakistan under a realignment of where the Army’s Special Forces groups operate."
Moreover, "The 3rd Group’s new area of orientation will include the eastern and northern Middle East, which includes Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan." [29]
U.S. Marines and Green Berets have become regular fixtures in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Kuwait and the Horn of Africa over the past decade. With the widening of the Afghan war they are soon to take up permanent residence in the capital of Pakistan, in the Caucasus, in the Black Sea region and the Caspian Sea Basin among other locales.
1) Trend News Agency, August 24, 2009
2) Associated Press, August 21, 2009
3) Bloomberg News, August 27, 2009
4) Ibid
5) Interfax, August 28, 2009
6) Civil Georgia, September 1, 2009
7) Trend News Agency, August 31, 2009
8) Georgia Ministry of Defence, September 2, 2009
9) Georgia Ministry of Defence, September 2, 2009
10) Azeri Press Agency, September 1, 2009
11) Trend News Agency, September 1, 2009
12) Azeri Press Agency, September 1, 2009
13) Interfax-Azerbaijan, August 31, 2009
14) PanArmenian.net, August 24, 2009
15) News.am, August 24, 2009
16) Partnership for Peace Information Management System, August 24, 2009
17) Focus News Agency, August 30, 2009
18) Makfax, August 26, 2009
19) Makfax, August 31, 2009
20) United States European Command, August 21, 2009
21) Dnevnik.bg, August 22, 2009
22) Tanjug News Agency, August 28, 2009
23) Southeast European Times, August 24, 2009
24) Deutsche Welle, August 28, 2009
25) Trend News Agency, August 28, 2009
26) Russia Today, September 1, 2009
27) Trend News Agency, August 28, 2009
28) Washington Times, August 24, 2009
29) Fayetteville Observer, August 27, 2009

Rick Rozoff is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Rick Rozoff

Power, Illusion, and America’s Last Taboo

Power, Illusion, and America’s Last Taboo

by John Pilger / September 2nd, 2009

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The following article is the text from John Pilger’s address to Socialism 2009 in San Francisco, California on 4 July.

Two years ago, at Socialism 2007 in Chicago, I spoke about an “invisible government,” a term used by Edward Bernays, one of the founders of modern propaganda. It was Bernays who, in the 1920s, invented “public relations” as a euphemism for propaganda. Deploying the ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, Bernays campaigned on behalf of the tobacco industry for American women to take up smoking as an act of feminist liberation; he called cigarettes “torches of freedom.”

The invisible government that Bernays had in mind brought together the power of all media — PR, the press, broadcasting, advertising. It was the power of form: of branding and image-making over substance and truth — and I would like to talk today about this invisible government’s most recent achievement: the rise of Barack Obama and the silencing of the left.

First, I would like to go back some 40 years to a sultry day in Vietnam.

I was a young war correspondent who had just arrived in a village called Tuylon. My assignment was to write about a company of US Marines who had been sent to this village to win hearts and minds.

“My orders”, said the Marine sergeant, “are to sell the American Way of Liberty as stated in the Pacification Handbook. This is designed to win the hearts and minds of folks as stated on page 86.” Page 86 was headed WHAM: Winning Hearts and Minds. The marine unit was a Combined Action Company which, explained the sergeant, “means that we attack these folks on Mondays and win their hearts and minds on Tuesdays”. He was joking, though not quite.

The sergeant, who didn’t speak Vietnamese, had arrived in the village, stood up in a jeep and said through a bullhorn: “Come on out everybody, we got rice and candy and toothbrushes to give you!…”

There was silence.

“Now listen, either you gooks come on out, or we’re going to come right in there and get you!”

The people of Tuylon finally came out, and stood in line to receive packets of Uncle Ben’s Miracle Rice, Hershey bars, party balloons and several thousand toothbrushes. Three portable, battery-operated, yellow flush lavatories were held back for the arrival of the colonel.

And when the colonel arrived that evening, the district chief was summoned, and the yellow flush lavatories were unveiled. The colonel cleared his throat and produced a handwritten speech.

“Mr. District Chief and all you nice people,” he said, “what these gifts represent is more than the sum of their parts. They carry the spirit of America. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no place on earth like America. It’s the land where miracles happen. It’s a guiding light for me, and for you. In America, you see, we count ourselves as real lucky having the greatest democracy the world has ever known, and we want you nice people to share in our good fortune.”

Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, even John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” got a mention. All that was missing was the Star Spangled Banner playing in the background.

Of course, the villagers had no idea what the colonel was talking about. When the Marines clapped, they clapped. When the colonel waved, the children waved. As he departed, the colonel shook the sergeant’s hand and said: “You’ve got plenty of hearts and minds here. Carry on, Sergeant?”


In Vietnam, I witnessed many spectacles like that. I had grown up in faraway Australia on a steady cinematic diet of John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Walt Disney, the Three Stooges and Ronald Reagan. The American Way of Liberty they portrayed might well have been lifted from the WHAM handbook.

I learned that the United States had won World War Two on its own and now led the “free world” as the “chosen” society. It was only much later when I read Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion that I understood something of the power of emotions attached to false ideas and bad history.

Historians call this “exceptionalism” — the notion that the United States has a divine right to bring what it calls liberty to the rest of humanity. Of course, this is a very old refrain; the French and British created and celebrated their own “civilizing mission” while imposing colonial regimes that denied basic civil liberties.

However, the power of the American message is different. Whereas the Europeans were proud imperialists, Americans are trained to deny their imperialism. As Mexico was conquered and the Marines sent to rule Nicaragua, American textbooks referred to an “age of innocence.” American motives were well meaning, moral, exceptional, as the colonel said. There was no ideology, they said; and this is still the received wisdom. Indeed, Americanism is an ideology that is unique because its main element is its denial that it is an ideology. It is both conservative and liberal, both right and left. All else is heresy.

Barack Obama is the embodiment of this “ism”. Since Obama was elected, leading liberals have talked about America returning to its true status as a “nation of moral ideals” — the words of Paul Krugman in the New York Times. In the San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote that, “spiritually advanced people regard the new president as ‘a Lightworker’ . . . who can help usher in a new way of being on the planet.”

Tell that to an Afghan child whose family has been blown away by Obama’s bombs, or a Pakistani child whose family are among the 700 civilians killed by Obama’s drones. Or Tell it to a child in the carnage of Gaza caused by American smart weapons which, disclosed Seymour Hersh, were resupplied to Israel for use in the slaughter “only after the Obama team let it be known it would not object.” The man who stayed silent on Gaza is the man who now condemns Iran.

Obama’s is the myth that is America’s last taboo. His most consistent theme was never change; it was power. The United States, he said, “leads the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good . . . We must lead by building a 21st century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people.” And there is this remarkable statement: “At moments of great peril in the past century our leaders ensured that America, by deed and by example, led and lifted the world, that a we stood and fought for the freedom sought by billions of people beyond their borders.” At the National Archives on May 21, he said: “From Europe to the Pacific, we’ve been the nation that has shut down torture chambers and replaced tyranny with the rule of law.”

Since 1945, “by deed and by example,” the United States has overthrown fifty governments, including democracies, and crushed some 30 liberation movements, and supported tyrannies and set up torture chambers from Egypt to Guatemala. Countless men, women and children have been bombed to death. Bombing is apple pie. And yet, here is the 44th President of the United States, having stacked his government with warmongers and corporate fraudsters and polluters from the Bush and Clinton eras, teasing us while promising more of the same.

Here is the House of Representatives, controlled by Obama’s Democrats, voting to approve $16 billion for three wars and a coming presidential military budget which, in 2009, will exceed any year since the end of World War Two, including the spending peaks of the Korean and Vietnam wars. And here is a peace movement, not all of it but much of it, prepared to look the other way and believe or hope that Obama will restore, as Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times, the “nation of moral ideals.”

Not long ago, I visited the American Museum of History in the celebrated Smithsonian Institute in Washington. One of the most popular exhibitions was called The Price of Freedom: Americans at War. It was holiday time and lines of happy people, including many children, shuffled through a Santa’s grotto of war and conquest, where messages about their nation’s “great mission” were lit up. These included tributes to the quote “exceptional Americans [who] saved a million lives” in Vietnam where they were quote “determined to stop communist expansion.” In Iraq, other brave Americans quote “employed air strikes of unprecedented precision.”

What was shocking was not so much the revisionism of two of the epic crimes of modern times but the sheer routine scale of omission.

Like all US presidents, Bush and Obama have much in common. The wars of both presidents, and the wars of Clinton and Reagan, Carter and Ford, Nixon and Kennedy, are justified by the enduring myth of exceptional America — a myth the late Harold Pinter described as “a brilliant, witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

The clever young man who recently made it to the White House is a very fine hypnotist, partly because it is so extraordinary to see an African-American at the pinnacle of power in the land of slavery. However, this is the 21st century, and race — together with gender and even class — can be very seductive tools of propaganda. For what matters, above race and gender, is the class one serves.

George Bush’s inner circle — from the State Department to the Supreme Court — was perhaps the most multi racial in presidential history. It was PC par excellence. Think Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. It was also the most reactionary.

To many, Obama’s very presence in the White House reaffirms the moral nation. He is a marketing dream. Like Calvin Klein or Benetton, he is a brand that promises something special — something exciting, almost risqué, as if he might be a radical, as if he might enact change. He makes people feel good. He’s postmodern man with no political baggage.

In his book, Dreams From My Father, Obama refers to the job he took after he graduated from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as “a consulting house to multinational corporations.” For some reason, he does not say who his employer was or what he did there. The employer was Business International Corporation, which has a long history of providing cover for the CIA with covert action, and infiltrating unions and the left. I know this because it was especially active in my own country, Australia.

Obama does not say what he did at Business International; and there may be nothing sinister, but it seems worthy of enquiry, and debate, surely, as a clue to whom the man is.

During his brief period in the Senate, Obama voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He voted for the Patriot Act. He refused to support a bill for single-payer health care. He supported the death penalty. As a presidential candidate, he received more corporate backing than John McCain. He promised to close Guantanamo as a priority and has not. Instead, he has excused the perpetrators of torture, reinstated the infamous military commissions, kept the Bush gulag intact and opposed habeus corpus.

Daniel Ellsberg was right when he said that, under Bush, a military coup had taken place in the United States, giving the Pentagon unprecedented powers. These powers have been reinforced by the presence of Robert Gates, a Bush family crony and George W. Bush’s secretary of defense, and by all the Bush Pentagon officials and generals who have kept their jobs under Obama.

In Colombia, Obama is planning to spend $46 million on a new military base that will support a regime backed by death squads and further the tragic history of Washington’s intervention in Latin America.

In a pseudo event staged in Prague, Obama promised a world without nuclear weapons to a global audience mostly unaware that America is building new tactical nuclear weapons designed to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war. Like George Bush, he used the absurdity of Europe threatened by Iran to justify building a missile system aimed at Russia and China.

In a pseudo event at the Annapolis Naval Academy, decked with flags and uniforms, Obama lied that the troops were coming home. The head of the army, General George Casey, says America will be in Iraq for up to a decade; other generals say fifteen years. Units will be relabeled as trainers; mercenaries will take their place. That is how the Vietnam War endured past the American “withdrawal”.

Chris Hedges, author of Empire of Illusion puts it well. “President Obama,” he wrote, “does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertiser wants because of how they can make you feel.” And so you are kept in “a perpetual state of childishness.” He calls this “junk politics.”

The tragedy is that Brand Obama appears to have crippled or absorbed the antiwar movement, the peace movement. Out of 256 Democrats in Congress, thirty are willing to stand against Obama’s and Nancy Pelosi’s war party. On June 16, they voted for $106 billion for more war.

In Washington, the Out of Iraq Caucus is out of action. Its members can’t even come up with a form of words of why they are silent. On March 21, a demonstration at the Pentagon by the once mighty United for Peace and Justice drew only a few thousand. The outgoing president of UPJ, Leslie Cagan, says her people aren’t turning up because, “it’s enough for many of them that Obama has a plan to end the war and that things are moving in the right direction.” And where is the mighty MoveOn these days? Where is its campaign against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? And what exactly was said when, in February, MoveOn’s executive director, Jason Ruben, met President Obama?

Yes, a lot of good people mobilized for Obama. But what did they demand of him — apart from the amorphous “change”? That isn’t activism.

Activism doesn’t give up. Activism is not about identity politics. Activism doesn’t wait to be told. Activism doesn’t rely on the opiate of hope. Woody Allen once said, “I felt a lot better when I gave up hope.” Real activism has little time for identity politics, a distraction that confuses and suckers good people everywhere.

I write for the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, or rather I used to write for it. In February, I sent the foreign editor an article that raised questions about Obama as a progressive force. The article was rejected. Why? I asked. “For the moment,” wrote the editor, “we prefer to maintain a more ‘positive’ approach to the novelty presented by Obama . . . we will take on specific issues . . . but we would not like to say that he will make no difference.”

In other words, an American president drafted to promote the most rapacious system in history is ordained and depoliticized by the left. What is remarkable about this state of affairs is that the so-called radical left has never been more aware, more conscious, of the iniquities of power. The Green Movement, for example, has raised the consciousness of millions of people, so that almost every child knows something about global warming; and yet there is a resistance within the green movement to the notion of power as a military project. Similar observations can be made of the gay and feminist movements; as for the labor movement, is it still breathing?

One of my favorite quotations is from Milan Kundera: “The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” We should never forget that the primary goal of great power is to distract and limit our natural desire for social justice and equity and real democracy. Long ago, Bernays’s invisible government of propaganda elevated big business from its unpopular status as a kind of mafia to that of a patriotic driving force. The American Way of Life began as an advertising slogan. The modern image of Santa Claus was an invention of Coca Cola.

Today, we are presented with an extraordinary opportunity, thanks to the crash of Wall Street and the revelation, for ordinary people, that the free market has nothing to do with freedom. The opportunity is to recognize a stirring in America that is unfamiliar to many on the left, but is related to a great popular movement growing all over the world.

In Latin America, less than 20 years ago, there was the usual despair, the usual divisions of poverty and freedom, the usual thugs in uniforms running unspeakable regimes. There is now a people’s movement based on the revival of indigenous cultures and languages, and a history of popular and revolutionary struggle less affected by ideological distortions than anywhere else.

The recent, amazing achievements in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, El Salvador, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay represent a struggle for community and political rights that is truly historic, with implications for all of us. These successes are expressed perversely in the overthrow of the government of Honduras, for the smaller the country the greater the threat that the contagion of emancipation will follow.

Across the world, social movements and grassroots organizations have emerged to fight free market dogma. They have educated governments in the south that food for export is a problem rather than a solution to global poverty. They have politicized ordinary people to stand up for their rights, as in the Philippines and South Africa. An authentic globalization is growing as never before, and this is exciting.

Consider the remarkable boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign — BDS for short — aimed at Israel, that is sweeping the world. Israeli ships have been turned away from South Africa and western Australia. A French company has been forced to abandon plans to built a railway connecting Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements. Israeli sporting bodies find themselves isolated. Universities have begun to sever ties with Israel, and students are active for the first time in a generation. Thanks to them, Israel’s South Africa moment is approaching, for this is, partly, how apartheid was defeated.

In the 1950s, we never expected the great wind of the 1960s to blow. Feel the breeze today. In the last eight months millions of angry emails, sent by ordinary Americans, have flooded Washington. This has not happened before. People are outraged as their lives are attacked; they bear no resemblance to the massive mass presented by the media.

Look at the polls that are seldom reported. More than two thirds of Americans say the government should care for those who cannot care for themselves; 64 percent would pay higher taxes to guarantee health care for everyone; 59 percent are favorable towards unions; 70 percent want nuclear disarmament; 72 percent want the US completely out of Iraq; and so on.

For too long, ordinary Americans have been cast in stereotypes that are contemptuous. That is why the progressive attitudes of ordinary people are seldom reported in the media. They are not ignorant. They are subversive. They are informed. And they are “anti-American”.

I once asked a friend, the great American war correspondent and humanitarian Martha Gellhorn, to explain “anti-American” to me. “I’ll tell you what ‘anti-American’ is,” she said. “It’s what governments and their vested interested call those who honor America by objecting to war and the theft of resources and believing in all of humanity. There are millions of these anti-Americans in the United States. They are ordinary people who belong to no elite and who judge their government in moral terms, though they would call it common decency. They are not vain. They are the people with a wakeful conscience, the best of America’s citizens. They can be counted on. They were in the south with the Civil Rights movement, ending slavery. They were in the streets, demanding an end to the wars in Asia. Sure, they disappear from view now and then, but they are like seeds beneath the snow. I would say they are truly exceptional.”

A certain populism is once again growing in America and which has a proud, if forgotten past. In the nineteenth century, an authentic grassroots Americanism was expressed in populism’s achievements: women’s suffrage, the campaign for an eight-hour day, graduated income tax and public ownership of railways and communications, and breaking the power of corporate lobbyists.

The American populists were far from perfect; at times they would keep bad company, but they spoke from the ground up, not from the top down. They were betrayed by leaders who urged them to compromise and merge with the Democratic Party. Does that sound familiar?

What Obama and the bankers and the generals, and the IMF and the CIA and CNN fear is ordinary people coming together and acting together. It is a fear as old as democracy: a fear that suddenly people convert their anger to action and are guided by the truth. “At a time of universal deceit,” wrote George Orwell, “telling the truth a revolutionary act.”

John Pilger is an internationally renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker. His latest film is The War on Democracy. His most recent book is Freedom Next Time (Bantam/Random House, 2006). Read other articles by John, or visit John’s website.