WHY AMERICA IS RIPE FOR A REVOLUTION!

WHY AMERICA IS RIPE FOR A REVOLUTION!

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‘Mad As Hell’ In Madison

By Ralph Nader

 

The large demonstrations at the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin are driven by a middle class awakening to the spectre of its destruction by the corporate reactionaries and their toady Governor Scott Walker.

For years the middle class has watched the plutocrats stomp on the poor while listening to the two parties regale the great middle class, but never mentioning the tens of millions of poor Americans. And for years, the middle class was shrinking due significantly to corporate globalization shipping good-paying jobs overseas to repressive dictatorships like China. It took Governor Walker’s legislative proposal to do away with most collective bargaining rights for most public employee unions to jolt people to hit the streets.

Republicans take rigged elections awash in corporatist campaign cash seriously. When they win, they aggressively move their corporate agenda, unlike the wishy-washy Democrats who flutter weakly after a victory. Republicans mean business. A ram rod wins against a straw all the time.

Governor Walker won his election, along with other Republicans in Wisconsin, on mass-media driven Tea Party rhetoric. His platform was deceitful enough to get the endorsement of the police, and firefighters unions, which the latter have now indignantly withdrawn.

These unions should have known better. The Walker Republicans were following the Reagan playbook. The air traffic controllers union endorsed Reagan in 1980. The next year he fired 12,000 of them during a labor dispute. (This made flying unnecessarily dangerous.)

Then Reagan pushed for tax cuts—primarily for the wealthy—which led to larger deficits to turn the screws on programs benefitting the people. Reagan, though years earlier opposed to corporate welfare, not only maintained these taxpayer subsidies but created a government deficit, over eight years, that was double that of all the accumulated deficits from George Washington to Jimmy Carter.

Maybe the unions that endorsed Walker will soon realize that not even being a “Reagan Democrat” will save them from being losers under the boot of the corporate supremacists.

The rumble of the people in Madison illustrates the following:

1. There is an ideological plan driving these corporatists. They create “useful crisis” and then hammer the unorganized people to benefit the wealthy classes. Governor Walker last year gave $140 million in tax breaks to corporations. This fiscal year’s deficit is $137 million. Note this oft-repeated dynamic. President Obama caved to the Minority party Republicans in Congress last December by going along with the deficit-deepening extension of the huge dollar volume tax cuts for the rich. Now the Republicans want drastic cuts in programs that help the poor.

2. Whatever non-union or private union workers, who are giving ground or losing jobs, think of the sometimes better pay and benefits of unionized public employees, they need to close ranks without giving up their opposition to government waste. For corporate lobbyists and their corporate governments are going after all collective bargaining rights for all workers and they want to further weaken The National Labor Relations Board.

3. Whenever corporations and government want to cut workers’ incomes, the corporate tax abatements, bloated contracts, handouts and bailouts should be pulled into the public debate. What should go first?

4. For the public university students in these rallies, they might ponder their own tuition bills and high interest loans, compared to students in Western Europe, and question why they have to bear the burden of massive corporate welfare payouts—foodstamps for the rich. What should go first?

5. The bigger picture should be part of the more localized dispute. Governor Walker also wants weaker safety and environmental regulations, bargain-basement sell-outs of state public power plants and other taxpayer assets.

6. The mega-billionaire Koch brothers are in the news. They are bankrolling politicians and rump advocacy groups and funding media campaigns in Wisconsin and all over the country. Koch Industries designs and builds facilities for the natural gas industry. Neither the company nor the brothers like the publicity they deserve to get every time their role is exposed. Always put the spotlight on the backroom boys.

7. Focusing on the larger struggle between the people and the plutocracy should be part and parcel of every march, demonstration or any other kind of mass mobilization. The signs at the Madison rallies make the point, to wit—“2/3 of Wisconsin Corporations Pay No Taxes,” “Why Should Public Workers Pay For Wall Street’s Mess?”, “Corporate Greed Did the Deed.”

8. Look how little energy it took for these tens of thousands of people to sound the national alarm for hard-pressed Americans. Just showing up is democracy’s barn raiser. This should persuade people that a big start for a better America can begin with a little effort and a well-attended rally. Imagine what even more civic energy could produce!

Showing up lets people feel their potential power to subordinate corporatism to the sovereignty of the people. After all, the Constitution’s preamble begins with “We the People,” not “We the Corporations.” In fact, the founders never put the word “corporation” or “company” in our constitution which was designed for real people.

As for Governor Walker’s projected two-year $3.6 billion deficit, read what Jon Peacock of the respected nonprofit Wisconsin Budget Project writes at: http://www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org about how to handle the state budget without adopting the draconian measures now before the legislature.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book – and first novel – is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

 

Russia To Introduce National ID/Debit Card

Russia plans universal ID-payment card to cut red tape (Update 1)

15:49 28/02/2011
MOSCOW, February 28 (RIA Novosti) – Russia plans to introduce a universal identity-payment card for all of its citizens, Kremlin aide and chief presidential economics advisor Arkady Dvorkovich said on Monday.The proposed card, which would look similar to a regular bank card, would contain an electronic chip with the holder’s personal information, including fingerprints and a photograph, Dvorkovich told a news conference on Monday. It could also be used to pay utilities, transportation and medical bills.

Dvorkovich said the cost of the project, spread over the next five years, would be around 150-200 billion rubles ($5.2-$6.9 bln).

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev praised the idea, saying the card would ease Russia’s complicated registration rules, which currently require Russians to register with the local authorities when they move to a new city.

The card could also be combined with driver’s licenses, medical insurance, and school and university ID cards, the president said during a modernization committee meeting.

“Chechnya In the West” Belarus Allegedly Breaks UN Embargo, Supplies Helicopters to Ivory Coast

Bloomberg

UN Warns Belarus About Supplying Helicopters to Ivory Coast

By Mike Cohen

Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) — Belarus’s reported delivery of three attack helicopters to the forces of Ivory Coast’s incumbent leader, Laurent Gbagbo, would violate an arms embargo that has been in place since 2004, the United Nations said.

The first delivery reportedly arrived last night and others are expected today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

“The violation has been immediately brought to the attention of the Security Council’s committee charged with the responsibility for sanctions against Ivory Coast,” he said.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, has been divided between a government-controlled south and a rebel-held north since a 2002 uprising of army soldiers. The insurgents back Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 election. Gbagbo, who has led the West African nation for the past decade, refuses to cede power, alleging voter fraud in parts of the north.

Ban did not provide details about the origin of the reports about the helicopter deliveries. Alexander Timoshenko, a spokesman for Belarus Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich, did not immediately answer calls today seeking comment.

Ban demanded “full compliance” with the arms embargo and warned both the supplier of the military equipment and Gbagbo that “appropriate action” would be taken if it were violated.

U.N. forces based in Ivory Coast have been instructed to monitor the situation closely and take all necessary action, within their mandate, to ensure that any delivered helicopters are not put into use, he said.

–With assistance from Paul Abelsky in Moscow. Editors: Karl Maier, Jennifer Freedman.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.

The Psychopathology of Terrorism: A Cultural V-Spot

[The new focus of the Rand Institute.  One of the CIA’s favorite sources for justifying the evil that it does.]

The Psychopathology of Terrorism:  A Cultural V-Spot

by Joan Lachkar, Ph.D.

“. . . (J)ust as couples think they are battling over sex, money, or custody (external events), the issues are really over internal self-identity boundaries, dependency needs, rivalry, betrayal, abandonment anxiety, and entitlement fantasies. Similarly, contentions in the Middle East are not really over land or occupied territories, but over shame, control/domination, victimization, saving face, betrayal, Oedipal rivals, and self-identity.”
–The author

Do terrorists have a psychological disorder? Where do psychoanalysis and psychohistory meet? Do we have the right to diagnose a group of people from our Western couches? I believe the answer is yes. To penetrate these seemingly impermeable borders, we must take into account aspects such as (1) childrearing practices, ideology, mythology: and (2) psychodynamics such as shame, guilt, envy, jealousy, control/domination, and dependency, and how they are qualitatively and culturally experienced. Now there are some who proclaim that terrorists are highly intelligent, sane, very focused, and use terror as a political weapon to achieve their geopolitical aims. It is noteworthy to mention there is a difference between a political/ Islamic Fascist Muslim and a religious Muslim.
In this article, I am introducing the concept of the “V-spot” (vulnerable spot), a unique term I devised for couple therapy to describe what happens when partners “push each other’s buttons.” In psychological terms this is known as the archaic injury. It is suggested that cultures also share collective group myths and fantasies based on early unresolved archaic injuries or “V-spots” very much like couples we see in clinical practice.
In noting the parallels between marital and political conflict, the first point I would like to make is that cultures/nations (like couples and individuals) also have V-spots/archaic injuries traumatically bonded through wars, loss, or a lifetime of governmental violations of human rights abuses keeping them forever embroiled in endless feuds. Not a far cry from couples who engage in painful destructive on-going interactions that go on and on round and round without reaching any conflict resolution. In many of my earlier writings I have referred to this as “the dance.”
The second point I would like to make is that there is a psychological link between terrorism and mental illness. Is there such a thing as a cultural V-spot? More specifically the parallels I see between terrorists and the borderline personality disorder. Both share many defense mechanisms such as splitting, projection, projective identification, shame, blame, guilt, envy, jealousy, control/submission and domination. The most pervasive trait is the dominance of envy, shame, abandonment and annihilation anxieties. Through a process of projective identification, they project a state of total paralysis (as opposed to ordinary fear (Mason, personal communication 2005). Although abusers we see in our practices are not terrorists, abusive partners can also project into their spouses a state of absolute terror (Lachkar, 1998). “If you don’t do as I say, I will cut you off financially and beat you to pieces.”

WHAT OTHERS HAVE WRITTEN

Tarek Heggy in The Arab Mind (2005) suggests that Arab defects are culturally induced. Heggy argues these deficiencies develop over time as a combination of cultural attributes deriving from historical, political, economic, social and educational factors which like any acquired attributes are amenable to change. Lloyd deMause refutes Clark McCauley’s statement in that “30 years of research finding very little evidence that terrorists are suffering from psychopathology” (cited in Lachkar, 2006, p. 311). To go along with this preposterous “research” as clinicians and psychohistorians would be joining in a collusive bond or folie à deux.

In contrast to the popular view, deMause (2002), Korbin (forthcoming), and Lachkar (2002c, 2006) argue that terrorists actually do suffer from severe mental illness. Kobrin goes as far to describe them as psychotic. More specifically, I am stating that terrorists share many of the same attributes, states, traits, and characteristics of borderline patients we observe in clinical practice. In “Primitive Defenses in the Middle East,” I discussed the most dominant defenses as mentioned earlier including paranoid anxiety, a predominance of envy, magical thinking , omnipotent denial, grandiosity, and massive depression.

HOW THIS WORK CAME ABOUT

My interest in psychohistory began with my first article, “The Arab-Israeli Conflict: (Lachkar, 1983, 1991) wherein battles between Arabs and Jews appeared to have striking similarities to conflicts I observed in clinical practice. Here, I ventured into psychohistory delving into the Middle East, examining the historical, mythological, psychological, and religious past of the Arabs and Jews. I saw Jews and Arabs as a Narcissistic/Borderline Couple (not a real couple, a mythological or ”biblical” couple).

A key point I would like to make is that just as couples think they are battling over sex, money, or custody (external events), the issues are really over internal self-identity,boundaries, dependency needs, rivalry, betrayal, abandonment anxiety, and entitlement fantasies. Similarly, contentions in the Middle East are not really over land or occupied territories, but over shame, control/domination, victimization, saving face, betrayal, Oedipal rivals, and self-identity. The confluence of psychoanalysis and psychohistory led me to consider that we have a universal need to master pre-oedipal rivals (relational or political) and to preserve our self-identity or the collective group identity. The preservation of the collective group self becomes more pervasive than life itself (Lachkar, 2004).
Based on the myths of the Jews and the Arabs, Jews being “God’s Chosen” people, and the special child of God, and Arabs the abandoned orphans or the split off child of God, I tentatively diagnosed the Jews as having a collective narcissistic diagnosis, and Arabs a collective borderline — very similar to couples. It has always been very baffling why people stay bonded to pain, why groups, nations, couples, individuals stay in painful conflictual relations, and even when peace or conflict resolution is offered, it is refused. The answer may lie in childhood experiences emanating from early trauma. This compelled me to study what it is that binds these groups in ongoing, circular, painful, on-going destructive battles that make conflict resolution virtually impossible. I think that Fairbairn more than anyone helps us understand why people will forever stay bonded to a bad internal object and forever stay faithfully loyal to it This may sound a bit grandiose, but without sounding too narcissistic myself, if could understand Arabs and Jews why not other battling political relationships?

DEFINING THE V-SPOT

The concept of the “The V-Spot” or “vulnerable spot” is a unique term I devised for couple therapy to describe the most sensitive area of emotional vulnerability. It is the raw spot of early childhood traumatic experience that gets aroused when one partner triggers an emotional sensitive spot in the other. The V-spot is designed to parallel the G-spot (G-spot equals pleasure, the V-spot equals pain). In fact, it is the title of my new book, The V-Spot: Healing Your Vulnerable Spot from the Trauma of Emotional Abuse. It is marked by the slightest provocation: one wrong word/movement and it’s off. It blows! It is the epicenter of our most fragile area known in psychoanalytic literature as the “archaic injury,” a product of early trauma that one unwittingly holds onto and keeps throughout adult life. I like the term because it is more user friendly than “archaic injury” and makes it easier to pinpoint the exact area of vulnerability of pain and trauma that people relentlessly hold onto. Now let us turn to the myths.

THE MYTHS (THE CHOSEN VS ORPHAN/DISPLACED CHILD)

In my earlier work, I postulated two reoccurring myths in the Bible and the Koran that have had significance in fueling the Arab-Israeli conflict. First, the myth of the Jews as “God’s Chosen People,” provided them with a narcissistic collective diagnosis, while the Arabs were abandoned/orphan-children, a collective borderline diagnosis. Stemming from these mythic origins and oedipal rivals are age-old sentiments, passions, and feelings that continually resurface giving rise to many shared, collective group-fantasies. If there is such a thing as a cultural “V-spot” or collective archaic injury , one might suggest that Isaac was the narcissistic entitled child given the birthright, whereas Ishmael, the abandoned one sent off to the desert, later became the abandoned child victimized by his fate. So Jews got the “good breast,” the land of milk and honey, wherein the Arabs got the “bad breast,” the dry barren one, leaving both groups in a state of endless rivalry and unsolvable conflicts. Could we say that the Arabs have never reconciled or come to terms with loss or mourned for what they felt was their basic entitlement?

THE CULTURAL V-SPOT

When Gaza settlers were forced from their homes as residents of Netzer Hazana, Yuval and his family were some of the last remaining settlers to leave. Instead of mourning the loss and realizing he must leave his home, he and others sat around waiting for some miracle. Instead of packing, they began to cook, play guitar, and engage in sing-along songs. The psychohistorian might interpret leaving Gaza not as an external event representing the loss of homes, but as commemorating the burning of the first, and second Jewish temples, an experience from which the Jews never recovered. So now we have a double V-spot. First. the trauma, of having your Temple burned down by non-Jews, and later to be betrayed by your own people. In the final blow, Israeli soldiers finally arrive at Yuval’s home and personally pull him and his family out by force. Let me take a moment to define a narcissistic/borderline relationship.

DEFINING A NARCISSISTIC/BORDERLINE RELATIONSHIP

In narcissistic/borderline couples I describe what happens when a narcissist and a borderline join together in a marital bond or “bind,” how each one stirs up some unresolved conflict in the other, and how each identify or over-identify with that which is being projected into them. These two personality types who enter into a psychological “dance” consciously or unconsciously stir up highly charged feelings that fulfill many early unresolved conflicts in the other, interactions that go round and round without ever reaching any conflict resolution. Each partner needs the other to play out his or her own personal relational drama. It is suggested that a person with a borderline character is inclined to attract as an object choice a narcissistic personality.

More important than why and how they attract one another is what it is that bonds them together, whereas two narcissists or two borderlines do not make it, do not “do the dance,” because of their dynamics and defenses, but when paired, these opposing types appear to maintain a bond. Since this paper equates terrorism with the borderline personality disorder, let us take a moment to describe the borderline and then the narcissist.

THE BORDERLINE

The borderline is the one dominated by shame/blame defenses, persecutory and abandonment anxieties, and such primitive defenses as splitting, projection, projective identification, omnipotent denial and magical thinking. Borderline patients often form parasitic bonds to maintain some semblance of relatedness (addictions, abusive relations, suicidal threats, and psychosomatic illness). Because the borderline does not have much of a sense of self, they tend to fuse, collude or go along with their objects. “I’ll do anything, just don’t leave me!”

Unlike the narcissist, the borderline does not feel entitled, is continually questioning his/her identity, and will do anything to prove they exist. The bonding with a painful object often becomes the replacement for an intimate attachment to offset internal deadness. “When I mutilate myself, it hurts, but at least I know I’m alive.” For a short while, the borderline will comply, but when threatened or betrayed will suddenly lash out with retaliatory responses (Lachkar, 1992, 1998), and will spend the rest of their lives getting even to those who have betrayed or abandoned them (real or imagined). As a consequence the borderline personality has poor impulse control, poor reality testing, impaired judgment, and cannot learn from experience. Borderlines frequently perpetuate the cycle by repeating the same traumatic experience.

THE NARCISSIST

The narcissist is the one who has excessive entitlement fantasies, exaggerated sense of self and is dominated by such defenses as guilt, idealization, omnipotence, grandiosity, and when not properly mirrored will withdraw. They value such things as fame, physical beauty, wealth, material positions, and power. The narcissist feels he belongs to a privileged class, is the entitlement lover, the special child of God — or, as Freud referred to him, as “His Majesty the Narcissist.” When narcissistically hurt or injured they will withdraw, isolate themselves, and relentlessly hold on/ harbor resentment toward the one who personally injured them. The narcissist is overly preoccupied with self, and when not properly admired, appreciated, or given a sufficient amount of attention they will withdraw and isolate the self in a kind of narcissistic retreat.

They are characterized by a lack of empathy, devoid of sensitivity and to the feelings of others. The most common archaic injury is the mother who usurped this special baby from its “throne,” its high chair, to make way for a new sibling. Often the narcissist will spend the rest of his or her life in a kind of nostalgia, yearning to recapture the time (or the fantasy) when mommy and baby were one living in harmony and symbiotic bliss.. This is commonly referred to as the original archaic injury or narcissistic injury. In yearning to recreate the early experience or wish of being mother’s special child, the narcissist will then spend the rest of his life living a kind of “narcissistic nostalgia,” yearning to go back to the time when mommy and baby were imagined as one in total symbiotic bliss and harmony. Any threat or reminder of this early trauma triggers profound feelings of not feeling special or being “the only one.” A common statement concern addressing the mental status of a terrorist is that many are highly skilled and educated men. Why then would intelligent, brilliant men do such brainless things? This brings us to the discussion of the ego which helps explain what happens to the ego when it gets overwhelmed and why bright people do or say “stupid things.”

THE EGO AND ITS DYSFUNCTIONALITY

What happens to the ego when it gets overwhelmed is that it goes into fragmentation or “ego default.” This helps us understand why intelligent people do stupid things. This leads us to a brief description of the ego and what happens to the thought process or rational thinking when the ego gets flooded or overwhelmed with persecutory anxiety.

The concept of the ego is very well developed in the work of Freud, Klein and Bion. Melanie Klein’s work is particularly significant because she notes that one of the most pervasive features that occur in the paranoid schizoid position is the splitting of the ego whereby one sees things as either all good or all bad. Not a far cry from terrorists who view the world as all good or all evil. Allah is good and United States is Satan and evil. Another salient features is envy — the desire to destroy that which is most desired or enviable (referred to by Klein as primitive envy). “I want the breast, therefore I will attack it.” “I want the woman therefore I will demean and brutalize her.” “I want peace, therefore I shall create terror.” With all of this the first thing that goes is the ego. The ego is the seat of consciousness, the superior agent responsible for memory, perception, judgment, reality testing and thinking. It is the mediating agent that provides entree to the unconscious. Rational thinking goes down the drain. Overall we’re talking about the impact that defense mechanisms have over the ego. Morrack (2002) refers to the term “the quadrophobic syndrome” (p. 2), as the failure to see that which does not exist.
It is okay to say the Holocaust never existed but it is not okay to draw cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. If I were to say to you I think I am Marilyn Monroe you can quickly detect a faulty incapacitated ego. The task of the ego is to present a picture of the external world by eliminating old memory traces left by earlier impressions and perceptions. The ego is an amazing apparatus, often not user friendly in that it resists what it “knows.” The ego absorbs information, integrates it and learns how to sort out good from bad, what is helpful or what is destructive. It has its own internal agent with the capacity to seek out the real from the unreal through the process of reality testing.

PSYCHODYNAMICS AND QUALITATIVE DIFFERENCES

Is it fair to say Islam is a borderline society? The response to this question is not so simple, but it is astonishing how they seem to share many of the same traits, states and characteristics as the clinical borderline personality disorder (splitting, projection, projective identification, magical thinking, shame/blame, envy, paranoia, obsessive idealization of God). The narcissist shares a certain grandiosity and exaggerated sense of entitlement. Governmental abuses and violations must extend beyond the political parameters to encompass the emotional borders with the appreciation of variants between their psychodynamics.

One main difference between the two is shame. In fact, Middle Eastern and Asian societies have been termed by many to be shame cultures (Berton, Lachkar, 1997), as opposed to, say, Germany, which is a guilt culture. These differences are important. Take for example the meanings of self. What self expression means in the West has completely different meaning in Middle Eastern and Asian societies (the “we self” vs. the “me self”). What dependency represents in Japan (amae) has completely different meaning in our culture. Some have referred to both Asian and Middle Eastern societies as shame cultures.
In analyzing group-fantasies around acts of terrorism, I am particularly impressed with Robins and Post (1998) in their book Political Paranoia they view terrorist acts as a perverse way of connecting to the world. They maintain that innocent people are fueled by paranoid delusional leaders who latch onto a piece of reality to justify their causes — e.g., the enviable or “evil” Westerner. Paranoids have enemies; they do not have rivals or adversaries. Enemies are not to be defeated or compromised, but destroyed. People who are paranoid tend to project their hatred and hostility onto others, and they believe their lies are the truth. Leaders like Hussein, Arafat, Milosevic or Bin Laden, under the guise of religion, or “the good cause,” act out their most heinous crimes. Thus their grandiose schemes and omnipotent fantasies find a way to project terror into their objects (us). We become paralyzed: not just fearful but terrorized. After studying such tyrannical leaders such as Hitler, Stalin or Ayatollah Khomeini, researchers find that projection and paranoia are common denominators. If they are projecting, what is it they are projecting? Shame? Guilt? No, envy. Envy is the most salient feature of the borderline personality.

SHOCKING EVENT

While writing this article, the world has just experienced the most shocking event. Israel took an aggressive stand against the Hezbollah who on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 captured two of their Israeli soldiers and killed others when the Hezbollah trespassed into Israel. Israel viewed this as an “act of war,” while Prime Minister Ehud Omert of Israel demanded the return of the two captured soldiers and vowed military aggression would not stop until they were safely returned. Syria and Iran was also held responsible for the attack and escalation of aggression. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah alleged no threat of war or killing would obtain their return.

From a psychohistorical perspective, some question: “Did Israel provoke a war to invite a disaster upon themselves?” In my view the Israel’s found justification in standing up for themselves as a manic defense against an earlier time of victimization and vowed to themselves “Never again!” The larger question is what is it about Jews that incite others to hate them and want to destroy them? How does the role of being the “Chosen ones” fit with the rest of the world? Does this mean the rest of the world is chopped liver?
Because of their narcissism and omnipotent/entitlement fantasies, Jews were able to outshine and go beyond their “Choseness.” They have reached unprecedented levels of achievement (science, medicine, music, entertainment). In the final analysis, Jews got the good breast, the fertile land, the land of Milk and Honey, while the Arabs got the dry barren breast. Because Israel represents democracy, freedom, economic expansion, music and fun “Mitzvahs,” this evokes profound states of envy, hatred, and paranoia, fueling sadistic attacks upon the object of desire, Israel. Thus the projected “Motherland” — the provider of all nurturing capacities — is the poison/toxic breast that must be destroyed. Now Islamic fundamental terrorists are getting some mileage usurping Israel’s entitlement, making Islam into their own creation, a magical world flying high on the wings of Allah.
Since many Arab leaders are a product of very traumatic childhoods with severe deprivation, it likely that they defend against shame by projecting their shameful “dirty” immoral or “bad boy” parts into their external objects to rid themselves of their internal “badness.” These authors note that to accomplish their mission they have to invent or create imaginary enemies to persecute and oppress. DeMause reminds us throughout his work of “war leaders who are poison containers (projection objects/fusion with powerful parents), which he claims is a defense against real punishing parents in childhood making it necessary to defend against inner depression. Another dominant feature is shame. Shame is the preoccupation with what others think and has to do with conformity. Those who fail to comply with the groups’ ideologies are ousted from the group as “infidels.” Shame is persecutory in nature and is associated with isolation and fear of annihilation by the group.
Peter Loewenberg (1986) displays the understanding of group projection in his article, “The Kristallnacht as a Public Degradation in Ritual,” where he illustrates how the Nazis had to evacuate onto the Jews their own dirty parts by projecting onto the Jews as filthy, infectious, parasites to rid themselves of their bad internal introjects, claiming that Jews were ruining German purity. The same paranoid strain may be applied to the enemies of Islam: the infidels are viewed as dangerous invaders into Arab harmony and anyone who intrudes into this space will infect and contaminate them.

CULTURAL RELATIVISM

There are two ways to look at culture. One way is from within (cross-cultural) and the other is looking from without (transcultural). Some critics of human rights abuses attributed them to cultural relativism. They argue that there are traditions, laws, ideologies that justifies the aggression (as long as it is rooted in culture and religion). Endleman (1989) disputes this argument claiming that there is no society in which oedipal involvement is absent, and the mother is the primary object to the young infant. He distinguishes the transcultural from the more commonly used term, “cross-cultural.” The term “transcultural” attests to the position that basic psychic universalities are applicable to all human beings. Needless to say, cultural traditions are not to be neglected, but aggression and mistreatment of women, children and basic human rights are not to be condoned.

This brings up the question often asked: who are we to say that our childrearing practices are better, or even that democracy is better. We might also question how much research and studies on infant/child development in Bagdad or Saudia Arabia has been done? Even the concept of amae in Japanese societies defies all infant developmental studies in terms of the natural sequence of development toward separation-individuation (Berton and Lachkar 1997). To assist us we must turn to the concept of cultural relativism.

CHILDREARING PRACTICES

According to deMause, the roots of terrorism are inextricably linked to childrearing practices, and are a result of an abundance of screaming, neglected, abandoned orphans. He offers a chilling account of life in Islamic fundamentalist societies filled with violence, cruelty, and routine sexual exploitation of children. These are familiar themes in countries that do not stress the importance of healthy child development.

This paper supports the position that both parents are responsible for the child’s development and ego or self identity. It also holds that the Oedipus complex is universal, and that all children go through the similar states of development as described by Western psychologists. Ideally, the mother provides the nurturing and protective capacity while the father helps the child separate and individuate. In the Winnicottian sense, it is the father who provides the “holding environment” and the “transitional space” to help wean the child away from mother to the outer world (Winnicott, 1965). But if the father is emotionally absent, or if the holding environment is damaged or defected, the child’s momentum to drive forward during crucial phases of the separation process becomes thwarted.
In addition, the proclivity toward borderline organization is greatly increased. It is noteworthy that children raised in neglectful, abusive, traumatic environments grow up with defective bonding relations and stay forever connected to the “Mother of Pain,” forming relational bonds that are destructive and painful (traumatic bonding). This takes us to the heart of the matter. As horrific as the pain is, it is preferable to a black hole (Grotstein, 1990). The emptiness is often experienced by the borderline as a black hole, the epicenter of the conflict — anything that gives them some semblance of belonging. “At least I know I am alive. I feel excited. I have meaning and purpose to my life. Better to be an addict, a killer, a rapist, a terrorist, than to vanish into the abyss!”
Kaufman (LA Times B13) states” there is something psychologically profound about Hamas abducting an Israeli soldier. Perhaps without the soldier in their midst, the Palestinians in and of themselves feel no existential purpose.” What would they do without the perpetual agony of conflict with Israel?
Fairbairn more than anyone helps explain why people stay bonded and loyal to their bad internal objects (the rejecting object, the unavailable object, the enviable object). Melanie Klein expanded on the destructive nature of envy; that is, the need to destroy that which is most enviable, desirable, or unattainable. She claims that children who grow up healthy grow up thinking the world is a good, happy and healthy place (the “good breast”). On the other hand, children who grow up with abuse, deprivation/privation, and abandonment grow up thinking the world is bad, dark, dangerous, and persecutory place (the “bad breast”). This leads to splitting. What follows is a wonderful illustration of envy written in an earlier work as “The Psychological Love Dance between Osama and “She America'” (Kobrin and Lachkar, 2002) This is not a far cry from couples traumatically bonded in marital conflict.

THE PATHOLOGICAL ‘LOVE DANCE’
Osama and ‘She’ America

Osama views the US as the Great Satan, the evil partner responsible for all the wrong doings in the world. So envious is Osama of America that he confuses America (his wife) with a piece of property to be owned and controlled. But America has her own life, and because she chooses not to be submissive, suicide bombers and terrorists must destroy her. Because she is the exciting object she is also the “threatening” one (the dangerous enviable domineering materialistic America who intrudes and disrupts Arab unity). Osama submitted his holy self to Allah, yet his other self maintains a lustful attachment with “HER,” America.

MUSLIMS AS AN ORPHAN SOCIETY

The Koran makes many references to orphans. Many leaders in Muslim world have actually been orphaned early in their lives. The Prophet Mohammad himself was an orphan, as were many leaders in the Muslim world. including Yasar Arafat and Saddam Hussein. Both had very traumatic childhoods. It is therefore easy for innocent Muslims to form identification with powerful leaders who offer the group-fantasy of being the ‘good daddy,’ the messiah or messianic savior to a group of abandoned, screaming babies. The abandonment aspects are particularly significant in terms of understanding how many abandoned babies in the Arab world find compensation in bonding or forming an identification with leaders who not only concretize the mythology but are the ones that perpetuate the conflict.

Moussaoui presents a perfect profile for the upbringing of a terrorist. His mother was undernourished and physically and emotionally ill while he was in utero, and his father was a violent alcoholic who abused the family and finally abandoned them (LA Times, A5). Samm Hussein al-Tikriti was born April 18, 1937, in a village of mud-brick huts outside Tikrit, a backwater north of Baghdad. Biographers describe Hussein’s parents as dirt-poor farmers. Others say he was a member from the “petit bourgeoise.” Hussein’s father is said to have died before his birth. Saddam was not wanted by his mother,. He was then given away by her to be raised by a terrorist uncle. His mother remarried. His earliest influence was with his Uncle Khagrallah Tulfah, an army officer stripped of rank by the British after he joined a failed 1941 coup. Not having a father, Hussein’s apparently formed an intense identification with his uncle and tried to please him. Taking the 10-year old Hussein to Baghdad, the older man became his guide through the political maelstrom of postwar Iraq. According to the same reporter, Tulfah had definite theories about Iraqi society. He made them part of the boy’s political education. Later, Tulfah expounded on them in a pamphlet, “Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews and Flies.”

IDENTIFICATION WITH LEADERS

Earlier I mentioned how many leaders in the Muslim world were abandoned orphans (ranging from Ishmael to the Prophet Mohammed). It is striking how many experienced horrific abusive childhoods. Saddam Hussein and Arafat are good examples of children who were raised by violent caretakers after the loss or death of a parent. Bin Laden, for example, was one of fifteen children by one of his father’s wives, with another 35 siblings from his father’s other wives. He occasionally met his father. Even they like many Arab youths in polygamist societies, in which there are many children, the father is perceived as absent.

To compare, let’s take Stalin’s and Hilter’s father: even they though they were violent and abusive drunks, their fathers were still perceived as having a strong presence. When an Arab man takes another woman, she doesn’t live with the former wife and her husband, but in another house, or tent, and there she raises her children. Every group of children rotates not around the father but around the mother. The husband may go there once a week or once a month. If she is not the preferred one, her children will never meet or play with their father. Allah becomes the symbolic father that fills the void/ black hole and becomes the replacement for him. Distorted as this may seem, as bad as Hilter’s and Stalin’s fathers were, at least, for Hilter, their sexuality was their German and Russian women never had imposed veils and chadors.
Zacarias Moussaoui pleaded guilty for the September 9/11 plot. His profile fits with many other terrorists in the Muslim world. Moussaoui ran away from a violent alcoholic father. Young, vulnerable, insecure, isolated, he was perfect prey for recruits looking for young Muslim men to join Jihad. Psychohistorians and governmental analysts are continually trying to understand why such young susceptible boys become terrorists and why others identify and idealize them. I believe the answer lies in group psychology and the psychodynamics of cults. Paul R. Martin (LA Times, p. A 4 2006), an expert on cults, reports Moussaoui presents the classic case of a susceptible young man brainwashed by Islamic radicals in London during the mid-1990’s who get swept away by the seduction of the recruits who offer them power, prestige, and a sense of belonging or any promise or semblance of bonding (Lachkar 1993; Mayer 1993, pp. 332–348), even if it means loss, death, self-destruction or self-sacrifice. “I am no longer an outcast!”
The Jihad offers a perfect container for someone like Moussaoui to translocate pent up rage and hatred. In order to maintain this bond, people in groups who are dominated by primitive defenses need to find an enemy into which to project their inner sense of badness. Israel is the projected target or any country that supports Israel. “Israel is our enemy! They are the interlopers into Arab unification and symbiotic harmony between our brotherhood. We must get rid of them and drive the Jews into the sea!” Not all leaders reinforce aggression; Gandhi, for one, was a champion of “peace for all.” Leaders who are the most likely to survive and who inflame the conflict and aggression are the ones who best perpetuate the group’s ideologies, mythologies, and collective group-fantasies.
Just as an individual can identify with certain abusive destructive partners in a domestic relationship, people in groups can identify with destructive leaders. At the macro level, a paranoid leader may not be a far cry from a partner in a domestic relationship. Groups form a “trance,” an intense identification with a delusional leader that reinforces the group’s mythological fantasies. However, in reality there is a duality; the leader who can be cruel and sadistic can also be loving and kind. Aggression and cruelty reinforce the libidinal ties in the group as long as there are outsiders (or “bad” insiders) onto whom envy can be projected. Often these are charismatic, albeit pathologically disturbed, leaders who are paranoid and/or schizophrenic. They offer the group a collective fantasy or mythological fantasy of being their “savior daddy.” Classic examples of such leaders are Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic, for instance, is a pathological narcissist with antisocial features, a fascist, and a psychopath (Doder 1999).
Leaders who play out the pervading myths express the group’s dysfunctionality and form a most powerful and intimate connection with the group. The leader knows how to play on the group’s omnipresent fear of imminent danger (real or imagined) from outside forces. In regressive dependency groups, the dominant features are blame, attack, getting back at any cost. Themes such as “Drive the Jews into the Sea,” “Return to the Land of Milk and Honey,” Land for Peace,” “Save Serbia,” are too familiar themes. When tensions surge, members resort to shame/blame, fight/flight, and scapegoating. The group searches for an enemy to blame and a leader/messiah who will save the group from calamity.
Plagued by this way of thinking, the psychohistorian might ask such questions as: How can a country like Germany, so heavily invested in morality, Christian values, and orderliness, suddenly create a sea of horror, a flood of blood, diarrhea and filth? Similarly, how can a country such as Japan, so invested in saving face, in displaying obedience and respect for elders, suddenly engage in unspeakable brutalities and atrocities with the Chinese and Koreans?

ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD

No discussion about the Middle East would be complete without mention of the position of women in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, this would require another paper; nevertheless the role of women in the Middle East is well known, in that their subjugation to men is still widespread. The Koran teaches men have authority over women because Allah had made man to be superior. She has no rights, no vote and very little self esteem. In Iraq, many women live in virtual terror ; in fact, several women activists, businesswomen, or those who dressed immodestly have been attacked and killed.

Women are your fields, go to them into your field as you please. (Koran, 2:2223).

Women’s issues are not only prevalent in the Middle East, they are universal concerns. According to Kernberg, (1994) masochism is more prevalent among men. Men tend to form fusion with the rejecting mother which creates deep-rooted fears and threats to their masculinity. Men who feel insecure/inadequate worry that that they will act like mother, and vigorously defend against this is two ways: through the disparagement of her or by grandiosity – blowing up their own masculinity, becoming tough, powerful, aggressive, and for the most part unemotional and insensitive. Kernberg (1994) claims that men tend to be more sadistic in nature than women.
Women around the world carry very different perceptions as to the meaning of abuse: what constitutes abuse? In Saudi Arabia, Muslim women view American women as being abused and sexually exploited by having to live in isolation, without extended families providing a community, by their domains of single family dwellings, by having to work while raising a family, by having to live in a society increasingly dominated by a drug culture, climbing divorce rates. Conversely, American women view these Muslim women as being abused by having to be submissive to men, treated as second class citizens, in other words, seen as men’s possessions or “cattle.”
In noting the differences between American and Muslim women, American woman will be hard pressed to understand a Saudi Arabian woman who, for example, has a child taken away from her. In the United States, the American woman would fight to her last breath for her child; yet, in Saudi Arabia the woman will deal with her loss within her own group, using the group as a “container” to ward off her pain either through repression or denial. Subject to systematic discrimination by cultural customs that relegate her to an inferior and unequal status, she will accept her “fate.” In Middle Eastern and Eastern cultures, cultural transgressions are enacted masochistically with the child’s, either extreme compliance and submission or extreme aggression and violence toward parents or others (“hard work” sacrificial self, or the “saving face” self , neurotically externalized in sadistic or perverse fashions (Nakikuki, 1994).

CONCLUSION 1

If a Muslim advocates peace they are considered as traitors, someone fighting against peace and betraying God (Allah). If they confront the hypocrisy, they are ridiculed, shamed, ostracized or even killed. If they advocate peace they are admonished for being infidels. This presents a bitter paradox. We can continue diplomacy, with dialogues, face to face discussion meetings with the enemy. Or one can try to enter peace discussions through the back door, bonding with the enemy through art, music, books, food, fashion, stories, and dance. The Muslims can suppress art and creativity in their country, but in no way can they obliterate it here. Other than China under the rule of the Quin/Gh’ing Dynansty, no other country oppressed their people as much by shutting down all artistic endeavors.

So what do we do with terrorists and leaders who support acts of terror and human rights violations? There are no simple answers. Psychohistory ventures beyond the political, social and historical aspects to help explain the unconscious motivational forces. We may not have the answers about how to negotiate with a terrorist or paranoid leaders, but what I have been attempting to illustrate in this article is a discussion about the borderline personality as presenting one of the most difficult therapeutic challenges, and hopefully this understanding can lead to new ways to bond with our enemy.
First, because of the tendency to bond with pain (internal bad objects), there is the the bizarre tendency to reject anything good that is offered, and even when it is accepted it is never enough. They become insatiable. More drugs, more food, more sex, More land!. “More! More! ” Give an inch they’ll take a mile. Secondly, because of the tendency to distort, project and their reliance on magical thinking, promises are never a promise. It is the will of Allah! Inshallah! Thirdly, because, unlike the narcissist, borderlines do not respond to empathy, interpretation, compassion and often confuse empathy with weakness, they need strict boundaries, hard objects and tough love to provide the containment they require (as opposed to the narcissist who responds more to mirroring. .Lastly, they suffer from ego dysfuntionality. Any reminder of betrayal/abandonment can stir up early reminders of immense emotional trauma. Furthermore, they will twist, distort, self sacrifice, retaliate, get even or do anything at any cost to prove they exist.

In 2000, Arafat rejected a generous offer for a West Bank/Gaza Strip Palestinian state and billions of dollars in compensation at both the Camp David summit and in the Clinton plan. Instead, he led the Palestinians to five more years of disastrous war, which not only left them with more casualties but also with a wrecked infrastructure and shattered international image.

On a more positive note this in no way should hinder our continual efforts for peace negotiation, through diplomacy, negotiations, and peace dialogues. We must continue our efforts to bond, through culture exchanges, dance, music, art, cooking fashion, and even perhaps by using techniques similar to those used in marital therapy. Most importantly, we must continue our support for women, children and human rights throughout the Arab world, and to continue our work with peace counselors as strongly proposed by psychohistorians.
Peace counselors are trained diplomats in the arena of international relations and negotiations who are also trained in psychotherapy and family therapy, as described by deMause in his article on “Peace counseling: A New Profession” (2005). In other words, if we are to cure our enemies, we must first find ways to understand them, and to sit down with them over a period of time. And when representatives from both sides do meet, the mediators of these panels should first and foremost address their mutual cultural V-spots as would a marriage counselor.
Where Inshallah was, ego shall be!

Conclusion 2

Does the key to understanding the Arab-Israeli conflict go back to ancient biblical times? Have only time and space changed? Has the Arab-Israeli conflict had a set of emotional configurations which remain the same? Is each new “trauma” or “injury” but a reminder or a reenactment of the original experience, as in the biblical stories, like a post-traumatic stress disorder? Mythologically speaking, Arabs are viewed as the dark children of God, the split off brothers of the Jews. Unlike Jews, the myth implies that Arabs were cheated out of their birthright, a special experience with God. Both Arabs and share similar defenses, both may feel displaced, and abandoned, but how that abandonment experienced or acted out is what accounts for their pervasive differences. Again, not all Arabs and Jews adhere to these myths, but the ones who do are the directors and choreographers of their own wars, both real and fantasized.
_____________________

Joan Lachkar, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in private practice in Brentwood and Tarzana, California, is the author of The Narcissistic/Borderline Couple: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Marital Treatment (2nd Edition), The Many Faces of Abuse: Treating the Emotional Abuse of the High -Functioning Women The “V” Spot ( forthcoming), How to Talk to a Narcissist (forthcoming), and numerous publications on marital and political conflict. She is an affiliate member and instructor at the New Center for Psychoanalysis, an adjunct professor at Mount Saint Mary’s College, a psychohistorian, on the editorial board of the Journal of Emotional Abuse, and is currently writing her new book on Aggression and Cruelty in Cross-Cultural Couple.

The author’s, The Psychopathology of Terrorism: A Cultural V Spot, was published in the Fall, 2006, (Vol. 34, No.2) issue of The Journal of Psychohistory.

Now For the Other Secret American Contractor In Pakistan’s Courts

Peshawar court rejects bail for US national

Aaron Mark De HavenUS national Aaron Mark De Haven. — Photo by APP

PESHAWAR: A court in northwest Pakistan Monday rejected the bail application of an American said to have been working for a private security company who is accused of overstaying his visa.

“The bail application of Aaron Mark De Haven has been rejected because he had no legal documents,” public prosecutor Javed Ali told AFP in Peshawar.

Relations between Pakistan and the United States are already strained over the arrest last month of a CIA contractor identified as Raymond Davis, who has been charged with murder for shooting dead two men in Lahore.

The United States, insisting that Davis has diplomatic immunity, is demanding his release.

De Haven was taken into custody on Friday from the Falcon Complex, a residential area in Peshawar.

Police say his Pakistani visa had expired in October, and that he was working for security contractor Catalyst Services, providing security and accommodation to foreigners working on development projects in the region.

On Saturday a court remanded De Haven in custody for 14 days and on Monday, a magistrate rejected defence lawyer Sardar Raza’s argument that he should be freed on bail because he had no prior criminal record.

The US embassy in Islamabad said Saturday that consular representatives had met De Haven, “as they would with any private American citizen”.

“We appreciate the cooperation of the Pakistani authorities and respect the Pakistani legal process,” an embassy statement said.

Water–the Most Serious Issue for Pakistan

[SEE: Central Asia Warring Over Water]

The more serious issue

AS I write this, the wheels are in motion to resolve the Raymond Davis impasse. Ambassador Hussain Haqqani has met US special envoy Marc Grossman in Washington; Gen Kayani has met Adm Mike Mullen in Oman. No doubt, US and Pakistani government officials are thrashing out the details of a mutually palatable resolution to the diplomatic fiasco.

For the first time in weeks, the conversation among Pakistan observers in Washington does not revolve around Davis. Instead, it focuses on a new US Senate Foreign Relations Committee report about the impact of water scarcity on regional stability in South Asia. The juxtaposition of these two issues — Davis and dams — should give Pakistanis pause to think.

The lesson from the Davis affair — no matter how it concludes — is that realpolitik will triumph over petty politics. By the latter, I am referring to the manner in which our diplomacy has been conducted over the past month, not its validity, nor the merits and demerits of its outcome. Certainly, the Davis case has raised extremely serious issues about US-Pakistan relations: US ground presence within our borders, intelligence-sharing protocols, inter-ministry and inter-agency transparency and more. These must be investigated and addressed in a prompt manner. But the Pakistani establishment’s handling of the case also deserves scrutiny.

As Davis’s incarceration presented more complications, the authorities created an echo chamber of anti-Americanism as a political strategy of bilateral engagement. The national media — rather than diplomatic cables — was used to transmit messages between the concerned governments. Pakistan’s intelligence agencies allegedly leaked reports to both local and international media outlets in order to air grievances with the CIA.

For their part, senior Pakistani politicians used the media to highlight disagreements with each other, their political parties and the US government. All the while, journalists enjoyed free rein to demonise Davis and disseminate the wildest conspiracy theories about the particulars of his case.

In short, Pakistan took its strategy of using public opinion as a tool of foreign relations a few steps too far.

But populism and emotionalism are the tricks of amateur politics. As one senior Pakistani government official put it, politicians may think they are playing to the gallery to win approval, but they are inadvertently creating galleries with divergent interests and expectations. The Davis case drives home this point: although the Pakistan government and military remain willing to engage with the US, the public has been hardened against the notion of a strategic partnership — and that’s putting it mildly. The takeaway here is that sensationalism cannot substitute for statecraft.

And this brings us to the second issue of water scarcity and security. If the reliance on manipulated and mediated politics is a reflection of our civilian officials’ capacity for handling sensitive, high-stakes foreign policy predicaments, then we’re in real trouble. The fact is, the presence of Raymond Davises in Pakistan (if indeed they exist in significant number) poses far less a threat to the country — its integrity, sovereignty, and prosperity — than the very real problem of water scarcity.

Pakistan is estimated to be a water-scarce country by 2025, with only 1,000 per capita cubic metres of internal renewable water (down from 2,961 cubic metres in 2000). The current water table is falling by more than two metres per year. Almost 97 per cent of all withdrawals from the Indus waters are for agricultural irrigation purposes. That means water scarcity will quickly translate into food insecurity — a terrifying prospect in a nation where 77 million are already going hungry and 45 million are chronically malnourished. The Pakistan Army has already expressed concerns about water scarcity, pointing to a future in which access to water is seen as a benchmark of national security.

Many of the solutions to Pakistan’s water problems are internal, involving improved irrigation infrastructure, efficiency and management. But as our Foreign Office was quick to point out, the US Senate report also confirms Pakistan’s concerns about India’s ability to limit water supply to Pakistan in the future. In theory, the report suggests, India could use the cumulative capacity of 33 projects — currently at various stages of development — to Pakistan’s detriment.

Given the trans-border dimensions of Pakistan’s water problems, our politicians must be open to discussion, compromise and agreements. The needs of the hour are collaborative projects such as joint river basin analysis, glacial monitoring, monsoon prediction and agriculture policy reform. The Indus Water Treaty may need to be revisited in light of climate change, glacial melt, evolving energy needs and demographic booms in both Pakistan and India. Productive engagement on these issues and initiatives, the report emphasises, could be a basis for peace and cooperation rather than conflict.

If the Davis case is anything to go by, however, our establishment may choose to handle water tensions through a vilification campaign. A precedent for this has already been set: in the wake of the 2010 flooding, Pakistanis accused India of releasing excess water into the Chenab River to exacerbate the inundation. Conversely and perversely, Pakistan has previously complained that India has hoarded water. As climate change causes more erratic water levels in coming years, can we expect more heated rhetoric, leaked statements, and pointed fingers?

If the Pakistani authorities are truly investing in promoting and securing the national interest, they will have to develop a culture of mature politics. Rather than game-playing, they will have to assemble a diplomatic toolbox that can facilitate game-changing. It will take more than hysteria, media savvy and personalised attacks to successfully engage in international diplomacy, especially on issues as primal as water supply. Ultimately, if Pakistan hopes to achieve its foreign policy objectives, its politicians will have to promote an appreciation for realpolitik rather than reality TV among constituents.

The writer is the Pakistan Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, D.C.

huma.yusuf@gmail.com

‘Revolution Movement’: Youths protest against US presence

Members of the Pakistan Revolution Movement hold a demonstration in Lahore on February 27, 2011. PHOTO: NNI

LAHORE: Two demonstrations by young people protesting various aspects of the American presence in Pakistan were staged in the city on Sunday. The organisers of both protests vowed to hold much larger rallies next month.

Around 250 people gathered at Liberty roundabout under the banner of a group called the Pakistan Future Forum to protest at the Raymond Davis killings. They gave speeches condemning American policies and expressing sympathy with Davis’ alleged victims. Some emphasised that they condemned American policies but were not trying to incite anti-Americanism.

Advocate Adnan Ahsan Khan, a member of the forum, said that this was the third meeting of the group, organised via Facebook and Twitter, and each meeting had been larger than the previous ones. “Today’s meeting was to let the members of the forum raise their concerns, decide the future agenda and delegate duties,” he said

He said 30,000 people had pledged online to attend the next meeting, planned for March 3, and he expected that number to grow to 50,000. He said that the next target of the group’s protest would be the present government system. “We will change the culture of corruption and bribery,” he said.

Some 150 people calling themselves the Pakistan Revolution Movement gathered at the Lahore Press Club, in another protest organised on Facebook. The protesters, who included Khaksaar Tehreek activists, chanted slogans demanding that all American spies be kicked out of Pakistan and marched towards the US consulate.

The protesters demanded that Davis be tried and hanged in Pakistan and that the government not try to grant him diplomatic immunity.

They vowed to hold a bigger rally on March 23 when they would march on Islamabad and urged young people, particularly fresh graduates with professional degrees, to join them.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2011.

Battle In Wisconsin: Protesters Locked In Defiant Capital

Battle In Wisconsin: Protesters Locked In Defiant Capital

wisconsin-protests1For the last two weeks, within the dense halls of Wisconsin’s Capitol building, a battle has been raging. While originally stirred after Republican Governor Scott Walker introduced a controversial budget bill, the conflict has evolved into a state suffocating brawl; one, that has pitted public sector employees and their union supporters against Republican politicians. Two weeks ago, in a bold maneuver designed to prevent the labor bill from passing, union workers and lay citizens seized the Wisconsin Capitol building, and Democratic senators fled the state. Early this morning, protesters were given until 4pm to leave the capital buildings, after which time police were to be called in to remove remaining protesters by force. Despite calls for calm, as the day rolled on, the probability of conflict escalated. As one labor union leader noted, “We have the right to be here. This is the people’s house. This is a house of labor. This is a house that Wisconsin built!” Yet in a somewhat anti-climactic manner, 4pm came and passed with little activity. Shortly after 4pm, a temporary impasse was reached, with the authorities notifying protesters that they could remain in the Capitol buildings until tomorrow. So what’s next? Well for one, while both sides rest, the quiet night has given many the opportunity to stop and wrestle with the important questions raised by this pivotal political and economic stalemate. Are the proposed changes to union bargaining rights necessary – as the governor has argued – to stop an over-zealous union who has been accused of using its strength to bludgeon required fiscal reform initiatives? Is the legislation proposed by governor Walker a genuine attack on individual rights and personal freedoms; one, which may be indicative of changes to labor bargaining power which may emerge in other states facing budgetary reform? And finally, what compromises, if any, must be made to bring this prickly issue to a quick and productive conclusion?

When one surveys the crisis, one thing that continues to stand out is the diversity and strength of opinions held by the various actors. Tonight for example, despite defiant challenges from opposition Democratic leaders and union spokespeople, Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker remained assertive, arguing that the proposed legislation contained the right tools necessary for long term fiscal reform and sustainability within the state. In an interview with NBC, the governor argued that “Wisconsin is broke, and unions consistently use their power to block necessary cost-saving measures. It’s about time somebody stood up and told the truth in this state, and said, ‘Here’s our problem, here’s the solution,’ and acted on it. Because if we don’t, we fail to make a commitment to the future.”

While some were sympathetic, others continued to struggle with this position, arguing that the accusations surrounding union blockages were over-stated. In fact, as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka argued later, “This isn’t about the budget crisis.” Rather, as he suggested, these protests are in response to a fundamental assault on collective bargaining rights that are vitally important for the long term productivity of the state and the nation. As Trumka clarified, “Protesters are fundamentally upset with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attack on collective bargaining rights. Governors that are willing to sit down and work with their employees can work out problems. We can solve them. But that’s not what Governor Walker is doing. He says, ‘I won’t talk to you.’ ” This strong tone follows similar perspectives expressed by many other union leaders who agree that the governor is using financial arguments as a deceit. In fact, as Randi Weingarten noted in an interview with the American Federation of Teachers, “Workers have already said publicly that they would take the cuts to take-home pay that he has asked for here. So this is a ruse to shift power to his friends, because at the same time what he said was that he wanted to give tax breaks to the friends who put him into power.” So who is correct?

For starters, it is hard to argue that the proposed legislation does not attack the right of workers to collectively bargain. In fact, after reading the Republican bill passed by the Wisconsin Assembly, it is clear that passing of this bill would see the bulk of state workers collective-bargaining rights reduced. As one CNN analyst noted, “Among other things, the measure would require workers — with the exception of police and firefighters — to cover more of their health care premiums and pension contributions. Collective bargaining would be limited to wages, though any pay increases beyond the inflation rate would be subject to voter approval.” On the other hand, a close examination of the state’s public financial records reveals that Wisconsin faced a budget shortfall that requires decisive, coordinated action. Unfortunately, while many residents of the state admit that fiscal revisions are necessary – and are willing to support these changes – the strong rhetoric coming out of many coffee shops, towns, and cities across Wisconsin hint at the fact that many Wisconsin citizens do not believe that Governor Walker’s plan will change the fate of Wisconsin for the better. In fact, many seem willing to wait for a better outcome. Both citizens and political critics have openly criticized Governor Walker as being an idealist who is secretly looking to end the collective bargaining power of employees. These criticisms have prevented the governor from having constructive debate regarding the financial future of the state. Furthermore, many others disagree fundamentally with the argument that reductions in the ability to bargain will lead to increases in fiscal productivity. As one individual noted, that message “is ridiculous because collective bargaining is the way to increase quality, not reduce it.”

With such diametrically opposed opinions, the challenge of predicting how, and when the conflict might be resolved, remains difficult. In fact, as tensions rise and time passes, it is reasonable to believe that a major conflict between the two sides is likely to erupt before the end comes near. With both sides unwilling to bend, the biggest question centers around timing. For now, the best thing that supporters can do is hunker down and wait while the Republican state leadership decides which hand to play next. One can only hope that, for the sake of the state, the people, its businesses, and its children, when those cards are played, the results will help bridge, rather than widen, the economic and political divisions emerging within Wisconsin.

Nathaniel Payne is a researcher and teaching assistant at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. He is also an instructor in the School of Business at The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).

Still Crankin’ Out Nukes After 65 Years of Production

U.S. trims its nuclear arsenal while upgrading production

By DONALD BRADLEY

The Kansas City Star

The construction site of the new billion-dollar Honeywell plant in south Kansas City is quite the head-turner.

Workers everywhere, trucks scurrying about like mice, monster earth movers, cranes reaching to the sky and enough trailers to start a retirement community. All on 185 acres inside a perimeter fence and under a wind-whipped Old Glory.

But drive past the former bean field on Missouri 150 enough times and the thought occurs: Kansas City produces parts for every nuclear weapon now in our arsenal. The country is making more nuclear bombs, has been building them virtually non-stop for 65 years, hasn’t used one against an enemy since 1945, and a significant new arms reduction treaty went into effect just this month.

Nine thousand warheads, about a quarter capable of being triggered tomorrow, is a lot of product sitting around.

Any is too many, critics said. “Modernization” is a joke, just more of the world-threatening, same-old, same-old madness.

Others counter that the world cannot “disinvent” the bomb. What the country needs, they said, is to scrap the big nukes in the stockpile — hardly a deterrent — for smaller, tactical ones that potential enemies think we would actually use.

The $85 billion upgrade of our bomb-making infrastructure in Kansas City with Honeywell and at other locations is occurring 50 years after President Dwight Eisenhower warned in his farewell address of the military-industrial complex and its “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power.”

It’s also taking place two years after President Barack Obama told the world in a speech in Prague, Czech Republic, that the United States was committed to ridding itself of nuclear weapons.

“Today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” he said to the cheers of 20,000 people.

He had the backing of the so-called “Gang of Four” — former secretaries of state George Shultz, William Perry and Henry Kissinger and former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, all foreign policy heavyweights — who called in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2007 for worldwide nuclear disarmament.

Then late last year, Obama won Senate approval of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). Under it, strategic nuclear missile launchers will be cut in half in seven years. More than 100 missile silos, bomber wings and submarine launch tubes will be taken off-line.

America’s immediately usable warheads will be halved to 1,550, with the option of possibly jamming a few hundred more onto bombers.

So what happened? How did the administration get from Prague to that soybean field in south Kansas City, where ever more non-nuclear warhead components — the electronics, arming, fusing, firing packages — will be churned out?

The answer, said experts, even those opposed to nuclear weapons, is that no matter how many START treaties are ratified, complete disarmament is unlikely to ever happen because the knowledge and technology are in the open.

The realistic and responsible course now is to maintain a safe, reliable deterrent to nuclear attack, they said.

More specifically, the experts go on, Obama needed Republican votes to get New START approved, so he agreed to continue the expensive modernization plan.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, in explaining his vote on the Senate floor in December made no effort to make the deal sound anything but quid pro quo:

“I will vote to ratify the New START treaty with Russia because it leaves our country with enough nuclear warheads to blow any attacker to kingdom come and because the president has committed to an $85 billion, 10-year plan to make sure that those weapons work.”

A major protest by Midwest Catholic Worker groups is scheduled for May 2 at the new Honeywell site. Frank Cordaro, a Des Moines anti-nuke protester who has been arrested at the construction site, agrees a deal was made.

“Obama needed the war mongrels to go along,” Cordaro said. “It was easy to flim flam Americans because the public is so militarized, so caught up in being an empire.”

But James Carafano, a defense expert for the Heritage Foundation, said talk of a nuclear-free world was fantasy.

“Disarmament is like cops giving up their guns,” he said.

Noting that a nuclear blast over a major American city would kill thousands and cost trillions, he said, “The consequences of getting it wrong are too great.

“If you ask people if they want nuclear weapons to be safe and reliable, they’re going to say yes. Old ones that may or may not work are not a credible deterrent.”

Experts agree that Obama’s Prague speech was more global posturing than realistic policy goal and that our nation is unlikely ever to fold its top hand in the high stakes game of nuclear deterrent.

Uncertain shelf life

Since August 1945, when “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” ushered in the nuclear age, the United States and the Soviet Union have spent billions of dollars building and stockpiling nuclear weapons.

The U.S. arsenal peaked with about 30,000 warheads in the 1960s; the Soviets topped out at about 40,000 in the 1980s.

Conventional wisdom is that a nuclear bomb has a shelf life. They go bad … maybe … we think. Since nuclear testing has been banned since 1991, it’s hard to know for sure.

The uncertainty has kept plants like Kansas City’s busy. The military didn’t want to risk “duds,” so bombs routinely were refit with new parts.

“We used to think parts wore out after 20 years or so,” said Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. “So we were constantly dismantling and putting on new parts.”

Having even less confidence in their bombs, the Soviets assumed a 10-year shelf life.

Now, most experts think the U.S. components actually could be good for a hundred years.

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 didn’t change much, although Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine decided against being nuclear powers and turned their warheads over to Moscow.

Still, the nuclear club has grown, from the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China originally, then India, Pakistan, Israel and, most worrisome, North Korea.

Iran reportedly is enriching uranium but is believed to be some years from its first warhead.

Owen Cote at Massachusetts Institute of Technology said it may be good politics to talk disarmament but the worry was that some weapons states could agree to dismantle but then keep those parts close to alert status.

“We can’t create conditions to get to zero,” Cote said.

Cordaro disagrees. Other countries are simply following the U.S. lead, he argued.

“Those other countries are no threats to us,” he said. “They are only aping us. They would stop if we would.”

Although anti-missile systems are being debated and deployed against some nations, many believe the first nuclear attack on U.S. soil is more likely from an enemy undeterred by what sits in our silos or undersea-launch tubes.

The biggest worry is that a terrorist group, such as al-Qaida, could lay hands on a black market nuke or create a radiation-spewing “dirty bomb.” Even in that case, it would be hard to find a target at which to fire nuclear weapons in response.

Terrorism is a poor man’s war, Cordaro noted. War is a rich man’s terrorism.

The modernizing effort

On Feb. 18, 1943, with the outcome of World War II unsettled, ground was broken in Bear Creek Valley in rural Tennessee for a factory to enrich plutonium. A month later, J. Robert Oppenheimer arrived in New Mexico to discover that Los Alamos housing for his bomb designers wasn’t ready, but the Army had arranged stays at dude ranches.

Sixty-five years later, those two facilities today remain vital to America’s nuclear weapons infrastructure.

The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge will get $6 billion in improvements and expansion as part of the modernization. The plant, which employs about 6,000 workers, makes the “secondary” for bombs — the part that makes them thermonuclear.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory, with 11,700 employees, is home to the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility, which is key to creating new plutonium pits, the “primary” components of warheads. New facilities there will cost about $5 billion.

The rest of the modernization funding will go over time for smaller facilities, clean-ups and for the new or refurbished weapons themselves.

From 2000 to 2010, the Kansas City plant shipped nearly 1,000 MSAD (mechanical safe arming detonator) kits, a safety component that prevents accidental or unintended detonation of a nuclear warhead.

According to the National Nuclear Security Administration, in recent years the plant, built during World War II to make engines for Navy fighter planes, has evolved into “science-based manufacturing.”

Now the facility is under fire by current and former employees, environmentalists and residents about issues of massive pollution and illnesses that remain unresolved. A cleanup could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Here’s a quirk about the new plant:

“Kansas City will be the only city in world that owns a weapons plant — let alone a nuclear weapons plant,” said Chris Paine of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a national environmental group.

“There is absolutely no reason to build this plant. This place will have ponds and bike paths, a suburban monument to nuclear weapons.”

Jay Coghlan of Nukewatch said the Clinton administration considered closing the Kansas City plant.

“This terrified Kansas City politicians, even though it made no sense to build the new plant. They wanted to keep those jobs.”

Bombs at Whiteman

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, formed by Manhattan Project veterans who started the Doomsday Clock, more than 9,000 warheads are stored at 18 locations in 12 states and six European countries.

Today, about 2,700 are considered operational, 2,500 in reserve and the rest awaiting dismantlement.

The biggest concentration of the operational nukes is at the Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific at Bangor, Wash., which sends out Ohio-class submarines operating in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The Air Force has about 500 warheads on long-range bombers, such as the B-2A Spirits clustered at Whiteman Air Force Base east of Kansas City.

An additional 450 or so warheads are on ballistic missiles in the American West; the remainder at eight military bases spread through Europe. The United States is the only country that deploys nuclear weapons in other countries.

That means the push for more sophisticated weapons and delivery systems will continue because, as if in response to the famous Rodney King question, no, countries of the world cannot all get along.

But then doesn’t that mean that this country will forever be building nuclear bombs?

Not forever, Carafano said.

“Some day the sun’s going to burn out.”


How many nukes?
The exact number of nuclear weapons is not known, as each country guards the number closely. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that the global nuclear inventory is approximately 22,400. Most are in possession by the United States or Russia.12,000

Nukes in Russia’s arsenal

9,400

Nukes in the United States’ arsenal

To reach Donald Bradley, call 816-234-4182 or send e-mail to dbradley@kcstar.com. Source: Federation of American Scientists


Gwadar: An unfulfilled dream

Gwadar: An unfulfilled dream

My trip to the ‘dream city’ of Gwadar is preceded by a reality check: “The situation here is volatile,” warns my friend, “Baloch political activists routinely disappear and are killed.”

But that does nothing to deter me. Balochistan is a province with rich deposits of oil, gas, gold, copper and rare earth metals and Gwadar, one of its largest cities, is the hub that crystallises its potential. Despite the constant barrage of bad news from the province — “militants blow up gas pipeline” is now a staple news item — Gwadar still conjures up images of pristine beaches and rugged mountains and evokes the same mood of optimism that was generated eight years ago when the development of the port city first begun.

The Gwadar deep-sea port project was announced in 2002, when former Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf promised to transform Balochistan’s destiny by an equitable distribution of resources. Inaugurating it in March 2007, the autocratic leader not only ensured the timely completion of the mega project, he also got the Chinese government to finance and execute the development of the port’s facilities. So far, an estimated Rs5 billion ($264 million) have been poured into the project for the construction of three multi-purpose berths with a capacity to handle ships of up to 50,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT).

But when I visit the port, I see the cranes lying idle and deserted. A port official informs me that the cargo handling cranes received a large fertiliser shipment some five months. Nothing much has moved since.

Instead, the harbour has become a hub of oil smuggling thanks to the absence of regulated petroleum products in the city. Launches from Iran arrive at the harbour loaded with cheap petrol and diesel. The cheap Iranian oil provides livelihoods to thousands of people who fetch the shipments from the Iranian border and dispatch it to other parts of Balochistan.

This inferior oil’s popularity is soaring thanks to increasing petroleum prices in Pakistan. According to Wasim (not his real name), an oil smuggler, the Pakistani Coast Guard, Pakistan Customs, Levies and other border control agencies are in on the game. “All a smuggler needs to do is to grease the palms of the ‘law-enforcement’ officers to get their shipments smuggled anywhere without hassle,” he claimed, pointing out large yellow petroleum cans that were being off-loaded from a launch.

Most of the locals in the area are fishermen, but they face a two-pronged challenge: first, they have to deal with the smugglers who pollute the water by plying oil in their launches, and secondly they have to deal with poachers who trawl illegally in Pakistan’s maritime waters, denying local fishermen their catch. “Local fishermen are suffering terribly… illegal foreign launches trawl in our water and snatch away their livelihood,” says Qambar Nisar, a fisheries department officer.  “We don’t have the means to defend our coast. Sometimes we carry fake weapons and limited fuel to ward off attacks by well-equipped invaders. We fear for our lives.”

The mega development of Gwadar offered mega dreams on sale. Not long after the deep-sea port project was announced, the property market boomed with Gwadar’s prime land up for grabs. Locals sold their land at throwaway prices to real estate developers who rebranded the estates and sold them to investors from other provinces at many times the original price. The elite lined up to purchase acres of residential and commercial land in what was touted as ‘Pakistan’s future Dubai’.

The property bubble burst when Baloch leader Akbar Bugti was killed in his hideout in the hills of Dera Bugti in 2006. Strikes erupted across the region, and law and order (the writ of the state) in the province collapsed, with enraged political activists joining the insurgents and staging attacks on the security apparatus in the province.

“I used to have a booming property business but it is all gone now. Investors withdrew their capital and fled the market,” says Qambar Nisar who now works for Gwadar Fisheries. “Every other day we hear about the disappearance of young Baloch activists. Their mutilated bodies are later discovered in isolated places,” he laments the worsening situation. “Sometimes Baloch towns and cities remain closed for three days in mourning. How can we do business in this situation?”

In New Town and Sangar — the city’s prime housing estates —land lay idle with little or no construction going on. Some government projects were being worked on at a snail’s pace. Wealthy buyers keep this land as an investment while many of the mid-level buyers have sold it cheaply in order to recover their money. Everyone, it seems, lacks trust in the government.

Gwadar does have a -star hotel for those who fancy a luxury vacation but it closed recently because of deteriorating law and order. Brand new dual carriageways, a hospital, a college, courts, and residential complexes have been built but are yet to be operational. The Gwadar Development Authority has overseen the development of the new city since 2003, but has not touched the old city since it had not been given the mandate to uplift old Gwadar. As a result, the city’s main Airport Road lies in ruins. The Federal Government in Islamabad decides the city’s fate and releases the funds ‘when and where needed’.

Meanwhile, locals no longer trust policy makers. After selling their land cheaply, they are concerned that the changing demographics will make them an ethnic minority in their own province. The port construction projects did not generate employment for the local Balochs who, despite lacking the technical skills and experience, were determined to become the backbone of development.

However, the contractors preferred the cheaper and better-trained labour from other parts of the country. The denial of jobs to the locals, as a result, generated frustration and fanned the flames of ethnic conflict.

“The people living in Gwadar are genuinely concerned about the demographic shift after the development of the port. They fear the port city’s massive growth will sideline them and they’ll lose their houses, lands and livelihood,” says Shey Mansoor, an official at the Gwadar Development Authority.

It wasn’t always so. When Gwadar was incorporated into Pakistan in September 1958, with the Sultan of Oman ceding control to General Ayub Khan, the local population welcomed the change. “I was a child at the time but I remember how Gwadar’s people celebrated when the peninsula joined the rest of Balochistan and Pakistan,” says Khuda Bukhsh, a former local government officer. “Back then we were happy to be part of Pakistan and believed things would change. Not a lot has changed for the better though. Yesterday we were happy to be part of you and today we’re unhappy. Something must have gone wrong in between, don’t you think?” he quizzes.

This resentment is born of a feeling of exploitation that resonates from the shores of Arabian Sea in the south to the Chagai Hills in the north. Most Baloch people are of the view that the province has almost become a colony for the rest of Pakistan providing gas, oil, copper, uranium, gold, coal and other minerals but receiving next to nothing in return. Sui gas field accounts for at least a third of Pakistan’s total gas production but many of Balochistan’s own towns and cities, including Gwadar, lack gas supply through pipelines. In contrast, most cities in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa receive gas through pipelines that power industries and houses. “I don’t care if there is a gas shortage in parts of Pakistan, because we produce the gas and yet we do not have it,” says Jalil Dashti, a young business studies graduate.

Not a single day passes without news of bullet-riddled bodies of Baloch activists found in isolated places of Balochistan or a gas-pipeline blown up by so-called ‘miscreants’. Rag-tag Baloch rebels claim responsibility for the attacks and blame the Pakistani government for exploiting the region’s resources and enriching other parts of the country, especially Punjab, at Balochistan’s expense. Islamabad, in response, says these people are Indian-sponsored agents bent on undermining the writ of the Islamic Republic.

Gwadar has become a hub of political activities for many Baloch nationalist parties which advocate the idea of an ‘independent Balochistan’ that develops its own resources and spends the income generated only on its citizens. Some political parties also demand provincial autonomy under the 1973 constitution, which ensures complete rights over the resources of the region. Activists from Baloch nationalist parties face abductions, imprisonment, torture and extra-judicial killings on a routine basis. Nor are the insurgents forgiving of those who defy their dictates, routinely shooting down those who oppose their agenda. Caught between the insurgents and the state, the Baloch people seem to be running out of options.

Despite all the damage and destruction, there remains a glimmer of hope: if this exploitation is stopped, peace and reconciliation are still possible. Otherwise, we just need to open our history book, turn a few pages and read what happened 40 years ago when Pakistan faced a similar situation in its eastern wing…

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, February 27th, 2011.

 

Clinton Making Move Towards Rebels In Libya,

U.S. reaching out to rebel forces in Libya, Clinton says

BY NANCY A. YOUSSEF, WARREN P. STROBEL AND MARGARET TALEV

MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS

BENGHAZI, Libya — The Obama administration appeared Sunday to welcome the formation of a national opposition government in Libya, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying “we’ve been reaching out” to forces trying to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi and are prepared “to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.”

Clinton’s comments came as former high-ranking Libyan aides to Gadhafi who resigned since the uprising and his bloody crackdown began 12 days ago met behind closed doors in rebel-held Benghazi in eastern Libya, the country’s second-largest city, to create an alternative national government. Organizers said the government will include liberated cities and towns and emphasized it was temporary.

With an unconfirmed death toll estimated in the hundreds to the thousands, Gadhafi still held the capital of Tripoli on Sunday. Residents of nearby Zawiya said Gadhafi’s forces were circling the outskirts of their city after being run out days ago.

Two men told McClatchy in separate interviews by cell phone that Gadhafi forces were attacking on the edges of the city but had not re-entered the center, but that they feared that could happen at any time. The men spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. One of the men also said there had been about two dozen kidnappings in the city since Friday.

It was unclear how high level the U.S. overtures to the opposition have been – or just what sort of aid has been offered or accepted and whether that includes military assistance.

Clinton spoke with reporters before departing for Geneva, Switzerland, where she’ll discuss the Libyan situation at a meeting Monday of the United Nations Human Rights Council. President Barack Obama is to meet Monday in Washington to discuss the situation with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Clinton did not explicitly endorse the opposition government. She said the discussion is “just at the beginning of what will follow Gadhafi.”

 

“First we have to see the end of his regime with no further violence and bloodshed, which is a big challenge in front of all of us,” she said. “But we’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well. I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.”

 

A spokesman for the opposition government, Abdulhafid Gouqa, said at a news conference in Benghazi on Sunday that the organizers were not talking to foreign governments and were not interested in outside intervention.

He also emphasized that the government was still being shaped and that he could not offer many specifics, but he insisted there would be no negotiations with Gadhafi’s regime. “Our blood cannot be negotiated,” he said.

More anti-government protests were reported across the Middle East on Sunday. At least one protester was killed by security forces in Oman, according to news service reports. The Tunisian prime minister agreed to step down, after reports of at least five protesters being killed since Friday. Thousands also protested against the king in Bahrain

Back in the United States, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, urged Obama to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, which would prevent Gadhafi from flying military aircraft to attack rebel territory, and to offer aid to the provisional Libyan government being formed in liberated areas in the country’s east.

The senators told CNN that Obama’s response to the crisis has not been tough enough, notwithstanding the need to get U.S. diplomats and other citizens out of the country.

“I understand that America’s security and safety of American citizens is our highest priority. It is not our only priority,” McCain said.

 

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of the dictator, told ABC News in an interview aired Sunday that “we didn’t use force,” that the media was falsely reporting the situation, that Gadhafi wasn’t stepping down, that aides who defected are “hypocrites” and that what Gadhafi does is none of the United States’ business.

Tareq, a Libyan-American who left Tripoli on Friday aboard a U.S. government-chartered ferry to Malta, said in a telephone interview from London on Sunday that what is taking shape is not a civil war as Gadhafi and his sons have insisted. He asked that his last name be withheld to protect family still in Libya.

He said Libyans overwhelmingly are against their leader. “If this is a war, it’s a war of the people against the Libyan regime.”

He said there were pockets of resistance to Gadhafi throughout Tripoli, in the neighborhoods of Fashloom, Zawiya el-Dihmani and Souq al-Jouma, but that those still were being met with deadly force, and that ongoing military transports from the airbase outside Tripoli suggest Gadhafi is still importing African mercenaries to fight.

 

therearenosunglasses–Feb. 27, TWO DAYS WORTH OF NEWS

FROM ALTERNATE SITE:  NO SUNGLASSES

Sunday, February 27, 2011

THE WRECKING OF NORTH AFRICA

THE WRECKING OF NORTH AFRICA

SAS enters Libya (Mail on Sunday).

Libya, once one of the poorest countries in the world, now has the highest Human Development Index score in Africa. (Wikipedia.)

It is well ahead of certain countries in Europe, thanks to Gaddafi.

On 26 February 2011, at the UK’s Independent, Peter Popham had an article entitled “Tribalism is key to the Libya’s future”. (Thanks to Blackwatch for the link)

Popham makes the following points:

1. Gaddafi came to power as a force for modernisation.

2. He “turned the desert green … and raised the literacy rate from 17% to 80%.

3. He called for an end to tribalism.

Tribalisms influence has weakened, “as more modern ties of schooling and urban neighbourhoods gained in importance.”

According to former British ambassador Sir Richard Dalton: “Tribal origins have no existence in Libyan institutions or in public affairs.”


Tripoli by gordontour

BUT, Gaddafi opposed the New World Order, and so his country has to be wrecked.

On 27th February 2011 we read that the UK’s notorious SAS are in Libya.

“The Special Forces soldiers landed in two C130 Hercules military transport aircraft on a landing strip … south of the eastern port of Benghazi…

“A senior source confirmed that an advance party of SAS men had been in Libya for several days…

“The SAS party had sneaked into Libya in plain clothes on commercial flights…

The UK’s HMS Cumberland “is due to return to Benghazi”.

Another Royal Navy ship, the destroyer HMS York, “has also been deployed on standby”.


Tunisians by patduncan10

On 26 February 2011, three people were killed in clashes in Tunisia’s capital: (ministry)

Now that Tunisia has been wrecked, thousands are fleeing. (Chaos, militant Islam and thousands fleeing Tunisia.)

According to the Mail on Sunday:

On 20 February 2011 demonstrations continued in Tunisia.

“I see one father with his son, aged five.

“As the police fire warning bullets into the blue sky, I ask him if he is afraid for his child.

“He unzips the boy’s jacket to expose his chest.

“‘My son is ready to take a bullet to the heart for freedom,’ he says.

“The child’s face crumples…”


Booming Tripoli by TAR3K

“I meet 36-year-old Muhammed.

“He also dreams of getting rich, but not in Tunisia.

“He is unemployed and does not care about the revolution…

“‘A few days ago, I heard from a friend of a boat going from Zarzis to Italy.

“I paid $1,800…

“What about the revolution? I ask him.

“‘I don’t care about revolution. My dream is Italy,’ he says”

The Italian government says 300,000 may try to reach Europe…

Tunisia … was renowned for being the most liberal of Muslim countries.

“There are troubling signs … A Polish priest had his throat slit in a suburb of Tunis…

“The Vatican news agency said he was beheaded.”

Afghanistan

The Pentagon plan may be to make North Africa just like Afghanistan.

“The gangsters, both foreign and Afghan, are the ones now in control of Afghanistan,” says General Ali Shah Paktiawol, the former head of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department. (How to make a killing in Kabul.)


By TAR3K

World cheers as the CIA plunges Libya into chaos, part 2.

World cheers as the CIA plunges Libya into chaos

“Class War” In Wisconsin

Battle over union rights boils over

IN Lansing: Supporters of workers’ rights hold signs outside the state Capitol at a protest in opposition to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recent legislation on public workers’ rights. About 2,000 attended the rally. / AL GOLDIS/Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON — The battle over unions — public and private — has been brewing for years. With the heat turned up by the recession, all it needed was a flashpoint to boil over.

It came with the 2010 elections, in which Republicans, many antagonistic to labor unions, won control of state legislatures and governor’s mansions — many in the Midwest.

The question then became whether battles would be focused on benefits that critics say were pricey giveaways during Democratic control, or whether emboldened Republicans would declare all-out war on labor.

Last week, protests reached a crescendo in Wisconsin and Ohio over efforts to end state workers’ collective-bargaining rights that some argue brought some states to the brink.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has said repeatedly he has no interest in tampering with collective-bargaining rights. Even so, Michigan unionists rallied in Lansing last week and Saturday against bills they say amount to union-busting.

In Madison, Wis., Katrina Ladopoulous, an area teacher, skipped school to take her 4-year-old son to daily rallies at the Capitol.

“If we don’t stand strong here, bargaining rights will fall,” she said.

Union battle goes national

WASHINGTON — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is willing to make enemies: His budget plan picks more than its share of political fights. But his decision to stay out of a growing national fight over whether public employeesshould be able to negotiate hours and benefits, go on strike and otherwise collectively bargain may be wiser than he knows.

Michigan has a bigger percentage of workers who are union members — 16.5% — than all but California, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington state in the continental U.S., according to the AFL-CIO.

Snyder is asking for concessions, and he’s supportive of legislation that would give emergency fiscal managers appointed to oversee municipal finances the power to break contracts. But, as draconian as those measures might be seen among labor’s friends, they are a far cry from what has been proposed in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, where more fundamental questions about the right to collectively bargain are being asked.

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“Al-CIAda” Is Late for the Revolution

[The guy fronting this message is another former alumnus graduate of the US Govt. brainwashing academy at Guantanamo. He wants us to think that now “al-CIAda” is supposedly supporting the revolution. Such garbage!

He reported from the Israeli disinformation center SITE, which also promotes videos from suspected Mossad agent, Adam Gadahn , better known by another alias, Azzam Al-Amrika. Usually, fake “al-Qaeda” is much more on the ball than this, instead of so obviously playing catch-up.

If running psyops seem to be out of sync, then one of them must have either sped-up or changed directions. If the two CIA psyops, “Islamists” and Arab democratic revolutions, seem to be at cross purposes to each other, it is because they really are. The luxury of having secret operations is the element of deniability they bring with them. If the time comes when a secret psyop, such as American backed “Islamists,” outlives its usefulness, then there is no reason not to pursue a more peaceful operation, like the Middle East revolutions. We have seen it before, when the US went from supporting bin Laden and the Taliban to opposing them (before 911). Leaders like Pakistan’s Gen. Musharraf had to accept a new paradigm–fight the men that you have been training, arming and supporting for so many years.–WHAT THE HECK?

We are experiencing another WHAT THE HECK moment.]

Al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen urged Muslims to revolt against Arab rulers and establish governments based on Islamic law, according to an audio tape posted Saturday on militant websites.The appeal came at a time of growing political unrest in the Arab world. Popular uprisings have deposed the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, and anti-government protests are gaining momentum in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain.

The speaker on the audio tape is identified as Ibrahim al-Rubeish, a former detainee at the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay lockup. The tape was produced by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based offshoot of the terror network, according to the SITE Intel group, a U.S.-based group that monitors extremist websites.

In the 10-minute recording, Al-Rubeish criticized Saudi Arabia for providing a haven for deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

He also said toppling longtime rulers is not enough and that new governments must be established based on Islamic religious law, or Shariah.

“One tyrant goes, only to be replaced another who may fix for the people some of their worldly issues by offering job opportunities and increasing their income, but the greater problem remains,” al-Rubeish said, according to a translation provided by SITE.


Playing God in the Middle East

[Do the ongoing Arab revolutions raise the price tag of our crimes against Iraq? If it turns-out that the wave of popular revolutions would have also swept Saddam Hussein from power, then does that make our criminal aggression twice as bad?]
Playing God in the Middle East
WRITTEN BY MICHAEL BRENNER
POSTED: 27 FEBRUARY 2011 00:00
Accounting for the Human Toll in Iraq

We are now in the 10th year of the first decade of the ‘war on terror.’ So the inevitable anniversary assessments are beginning to appear. Iraq reappraisals specifically are back in vogue. They favor the drawing of balance sheets. Most will be skewed in an alchemic attempt to put the face of success on an unmitigated disaster. Even a more tempered approach at calculating cost/benefits, though, leaves something missing – something of paramount importance. It is the effects on Iraqis themselves. Not Iraqis in the abstract, not as figures in a statistical tabulation of sects. Rather, as flesh and blood and feeling persons. Frankly, most of the discourse about Iraq from day one has had a disengaged quality to it. That is the norm for dominant powers on the world stage, and for the seminar strategist. That was not always the norm by which Americans referenced war and violence abroad in the 20th century when we truly believed in our proclaimed ideals.

To illuminate the point, here are some too readily slighted facts. 100,000 – 150,000 Iraqis are dead as the consequence of our invasion and occupation. That is the conservative estimate. Untold thousands are maimed and orphaned. 2 million are uprooted refugees in neighboring lands. Another 2 million are displaced persons internally. The availability of potable water and electricity is somewhat less than it was in February 2003. The comparable numbers for the United States would be 1.1 – 1.6 million dead; an equal number infirmed; 22 million refugees eking out a precarious existence in Mexico and Canada; 22 million displaced persons within the country. We did not do all the killing and maiming; we did most of the destruction of infrastructure. To all these tragedies we are accessories before and during the fact.

Digits make less of an impact on us than observed reality. That is always the case. And very few have been in a position to see the human effects of our actions first hand – or even second-hand given censorship on filming casualties. So let me suggest a couple of ways to approximate that experience. Step one. Go to RFK stadium, imagine it full. Do that 3 times and then imagine them all – men, women and children – in their graves. Repeat the exercise – this time imagine them hobbling on one leg, lying crippled or blind on a cot in a cinderblock house. Imagine them as Americans – men, women and children – who placed USA stickers on their cars, chanted USA! USA! watching the Olympics, eating hot dogs and drinking Coke. Imagine them now six feet under. Imagine them all as the victims of an invasion and occupation by Iraqi Muslims who were deceived by their lying leaders who hid their own dark purposes. An occupation that featured the likes of L. Ahmed Chelabi IV and run amok Bashi Bazouks. Imagine that these altruistic Iraqis keep a Vice-Regal Embassy on the banks of the Potomac, giant airbases scattered around the country, and 550,000 troops (proportional) – all out of concern for our health and safety. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Imagine your counterparts in Baghdad now drawing up balance sheets.

Step two: go back to the study and reconstruct your own Iraq balance sheet.

Does this imply that pacifism is the only ethically acceptable conduct? No – but it does give us a better fix on the true meaning of our shameful adventure in Iraq. Moreover, keep in mind that the Iraqis never gave us permission to do those things to them. We willfully imposed ourselves on them, did so based on the accusation of a fabricated threat that never existed.

Who assigns value in the equation to the dead, the maimed, the orphaned, the distressed, the uprooted? Who assigns value to being free of Saddam’s police? Who distributes the values among Shia, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and Turcomen? Who decides on the relevant time frame? Who determines what constitutes sufficient evidence to support any of these judgments?

Who has the right, the authority, the legitimacy to do this? To do so before the event? To do so after the event in a post hoc justification of the acts that produced these effects?

Who is prepared to reach a definitive judgment? Is it God? Or is it those who instigated and supported those actions in the self-righteous conceit that they were acting as His surrogate? Personally, I place myself in neither category.

“Let humanity be the ultimate measure of all that you do” is a Confucian admonition meant to guide the behavior of officials. America today pays it scant regard.

Michael Brenner is a Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.

25 February, 2011

Counterpunch.org

Terror hearings fuel anti-Muslim fears

 

Terror hearings fuel anti-Muslim fears

Misguided targeting will do little to make U.S. more secure.

 

Star Tribune Editorial

Next month, the chair of the U.S. HouseCommittee on Homeland Security plans to launch hearings on so-called domestic Islamic terrorism.

To justify the hearings, Rep. Peter King, R-New York, has made grossly irresponsible statements to right-wing broadcasters — claiming that 80 percent of U.S. mosques are extremist hotbeds and that Muslims aren’t cooperating with law enforcement.

He’s even found right-wing Muslims to testify to those claims. In turn, a broad swath of political, religious and human-rights organizations, rightly alarmed by King’s tone, are calling the hearings modern-day McCarthyism.

“These hearings will almost certainly increase widespread suspicion and mistrust of the American Muslim community and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment,” leaders of 51 organizations, from Baptists to Unitarians, said in a protest letter.

Key law enforcement officials, from California to Minnesota, also say King’s claims are off-base. In Minneapolis, FBI Special Agent Ralph Boelter, who investigated the Somalis who fled Minnesota to join the al-Shabab terror group, said Muslim-Americans couldn’t have been more helpful.

Indeed, a new University of North Carolina study says 48 of 120 Muslims suspected of plotting domestic terrorist attacks since 2001 were caught because other Muslims reported them.

It’s easy to imagine the chilling effect King’s hearing could have on that kind of cooperation.

Americans should also be concerned about how the world will view the hearings. Rather than creating a more-secure America, King runs the risk of fanning anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and elsewhere if he doesn’t change his tone.

Only a few months ago, Florida Pastor Terry Jones stirred an international uproar by calling for the burning of Qur’ans. Anti-Muslim bigotry also fueled outcry over a proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero and other U.S. mosque projects.

Sadly, as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, American Muslims continue to be scapegoated for the actions of Al-Qaida, an overseas terrorist network that U.S. Islamic organizations have repeatedly denounced.

Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in their attacks, including American Muslims.Muslims were also among the 9/11 first responders, the firefighters and emergency medical crews at the scene.

“Many American policymakers seem to have accepted Al-Qaida’s claim that it acts on behalf of Muslims in general, but the numbers indicate that the group is at war with Muslims as much as it is with the United States,” a Los Angeles Times editorial said.

It cited a West Point study that said 85 percent of Al-Qaida’s victims around the world between 2004 and 2008 were Muslim.

After 9/11, from Sept. 12 to Dec. 31, 2001, crimes against U.S. Muslims spiked from 28 to 481, including several murders.

Rather than promoting violence, American Muslims today are more likely to bevictims of hate crimes or harassment — sometimes at the hands of police who are supposed to protect them. If some fear the police, it’s understandable.

Last year, a New York cabbie’s throat was slashed by a passenger, reportedly because he was a Muslim. A Florida mosque was firebombed while 60 Muslims prayed inside. Arson fires ravaged mosques in Tennessee and Oregon.

Oklahoma voters passed a “Save Our State” referendum prohibiting judges from considering sharia law in rulings. In Tennessee, some lawmakers are trying not only to outlaw sharia, moral and religious rules that guide Muslim living, but also to make following them a felony.

In short, anti-Muslim rhetoric is fueling anti-Muslim violence and alienating American Muslims.

President Obama and former President Bush understood this, which is why they made numerous public statements to help diffuse the bigotry. “The war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims,” Bush said.

If Congress cares about violent domestic extremists, perhaps it should broaden its investigative scope to the larger threat: right-wing militias, neo-Nazis and “Patriot” groups that spew racist, antigovernment ideology — often in the name of Christianity. Their ideology led to the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building bombing.

A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows that these radical hate groups are growing at an alarming rate. The paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement grew from 130 to 330 groups over the past year.

U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, a Muslim, and Betty McCollum, both Minnesota Democrats, recently told the Star Tribune Editorial Board that King’s hearingsappeared to be an anti-Muslim “witch hunt.”

Although he disagrees with the hearings’ premise, Ellison hopes to testify, if only to counter negative stereotyping and misstatements about Muslims.

“Peter thinks he’s doing something good,” Ellison said. “He doesn’t realize that what he’s doing is isolating and implicitly blaming a community. If he lets me participate and forward names of people to testify, as he said he would, this could be a moment of education for a lot of people.”

Readers, what do you think? To be considered for publication as a letter to the editor, write a thoughful response no more than 250 words toopinion@startribune.com. Include your name and the city where you live.

Follow us on Twitter @StribOpinion

The Pentagon Wants You to Doubt That Hakeemullah Killed Col. Imam

Disclaimer

CentralAsiaOnline.com is a website sponsored by USCENTCOM; that is, U.S. Central Command

 

The following article from Centcom’s website challenges the idea that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud ordered the execution of Col. Imam, legendary trainer and friend of the Afghan Taliban, even though the leaked video clearly shows both men, Mehsud giving the terrorist an order and the ISI general being shot dead. There is no room for doubt here, unless it was a Hollywood-type of production.

The big question remains: Why would the US military care if the bloodthirsty TTP made a severe mistake that would alienate them from both the Pakistani people and their alleged partners, the Afghan Taliban?

The answer is: If the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban were really allies, then the Pakistani leader would never murder one of Mullah Omar’s oldest and most trusted friends.

The fact that the US military’s “hasbara” website doesn’t want viewers to believe their own eyes, reveals a greater hidden truth, that the Imperial warlords want harmony to prevail between the two “Taliban” groups. Obviously the Pentagon wishes the video of Col. Imam’s execution had never been made public.

 

 

Col. Imam murder video’s authenticity doubted by some

By Javed Aziz Khan
For CentralAsiaOnline.com
2011-02-24

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakeemullah Mehsud (centre), is shown in a February 19 militant video as he orders a masked gunman to kill a man identified as former ISI official Col. Imam (seated). Some analysts doubt the corpse shown later in the video is that of Imam, and say the video was produced to show that Mehsud is still alive. [Video screen grab courtesy Javed Khan]

PESHAWAR – The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is saying that Col. Imam is dead, but many observers question the credibility of the video the TTP released February 19.
About 11 months after the kidnapping of Brig. (ret.) Sultan Ameer Tarar, known as Col. Imam, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) released a video that it claims shows the former ISI official’s slaying in the presence of TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud.
That was followed by reports February 21 that Imam’s body had turned up on a street near Mir Ali. But his family had not received his body or any belongings as of February 24.
The TTP claimed responsibility for the murder of Col. Imam. In the video, filmed in an unknown, mountainous area, a militant shoots him five times as Hakeemullah watches. Some media had reported in 2010 that Hakeemullah had been killed.
Before the release of the video February 19, TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan called journalists to notify them of Col. Imam’s slaying.

“Videos of the flogging of women, slaughtering of foreigners and now the execution of Col. Imam, considered to be godfather of militants, are causing hate among the public against the brutalities of militants,” Saleh said.

“The main purpose of airing the video of the murder of Col. Imam was to produce Hakeemullah Mehsud before the public and end controversy regarding his killing,” Deputy Bureau Chief of Mashaal Radio Khalid Khan told Central Asia Online.
Khalid, who covers events in tribal areas, expressed some doubts over the video’s authenticity as nobody has found the body of Col. Imam, nor has anything else has been heard about him after the video. If the video proves authentic, it will increase public anger with the TTP, he predicted.

 

US, Nato forces in covert deals with Afghan Taliban

LAHORE – The United States-led NATO and Afghan forces in Kabul are gravely worried of the heightened activities of the Taliban in the war-torn region. To save themselves, they are engaged in unsoldierly businesses.
‘Now, the US, NATO and Afghan forces are in deals with warlords and Taliban to keep them dormant, thus indirectly funding the Taliban fighting potential’, well-informed diplomatic sources confided to The Nation on Friday.
A well-placed Afghan official, based in Kabul, had startling disclosures about the underhand deals and concessions offered to Taliban in various provinces of Afghanistan in the recent past as public pressure is mounting in the West to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, said to be the ‘graveyard of great empires.’
According to him, the US and NATO are fighting Taliban freedom fighters on one hand but at the same time they are paying huge amount of cash and weapons to Taliban to buy local safety and safe passages.
‘Afghan officials like Governor Balkh Ustad Atta Muhammad and others pay millions of Afghanis and provide large number of weapons to representatives of Taliban in their areas. In return, this ‘Attaya’ force of the Taliban guarantee safety to the officials and their families’, the source disclosed to this reporter, seeking anonymity.
Another Kabul based official also revealed that certain government officials were in league with the Taliban and other Opposition groups to defame government of President Hamid Karzai on one pretext or the other.

 

The combat alliance of 46 countries deployed in different provinces of Afghanistan, have evolved their respective mechanism to ensure safety to their troops and supply convoys.
This is like an open secret in Kabul that ‘Germany, France, Holland and the UK, all have brokered local peace deals with the Taliban to avoid casualties. Does it portray a reluctance of the military to face the adversary?’ questioned the Afghan official.
Often, the front remains the security companies who deal on behalf of US and NATO with Taliban and broker a safe passage or occasional calm in the local areas, he maintained. Sources further said that this outcome was then portrayed at international level as an operational success of US and NATO.
In December 2009, the US Congress in a wide-ranging probe confirmed that private security companies, hired to protect defence convoys in Afghanistan, were paying off Taliban and warlords for safe passage.
This remains a testimony about the US and NATO double standards; paying for local securities being unable to cover their operational vulnerabilities with all their air power and military might.
Out of operational compulsions, US and NATO are infact, feeding the Taliban and warlords to use the same money to perpetuate their activities, or in other words ‘keep the ball rolling’.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rally in 50 states to support Wisconsin protesters

[If Americans aren’t really dead from the neck up they will see that this is our Middle East moment, the opportunity to recall the independent spirit that made this country great and stand together against a tyrannical govt. move to destroy the labor union movement. People forget that labor unions won the right to such things as minimum wage, 8-hour days, child labor laws. The wave of Reaganism threatened in Wisconsin is just what this country needs if we have all become suicidal.]

Rallies in 50 states support Wisconsin protesters

By the CNN Wire Staff

CNN) — A coalition spearheaded by liberal advocacy group Moveon.org held rallies across the country Saturday in support of public employees and others outraged at the Wisconsin budget-cutting bill they consider an attack on unions.

MoveOn.org and other liberal and labor groups held noon events at all 50 state capitals.

“Save the dream, we are reunited,” a group shouted in Washington, D.C.

The focal point of the protests was the Wisconsin Capitol, where a light snow and cold temperatures failed Saturday to deter about 70,000 who drummed, chanted and marched.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Governor Walker has got to go,” chanted the group rallying in Madison.

There were no incidents during the protest, said Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department

The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a Republican bill that would strip most state workers of the bulk of their collective-bargaining rights.

Among other things, the measure would require workers — with the exception of police and firefighters — to cover more of their health care premiums and pension contributions. Collective bargaining would be limited to wages, though any pay increases beyond the inflation rate would be subject to voter approval.

In Olympia, Washington, two raucous competing rallies over the union fight in Wisconsin drew more than 2,000 people, according to CNN Seattle affiliate KIRO.

More than a half dozen union members decried the bill, while a smaller protest of Tea Party members and conservative groups was held on the Washington Capitol steps. Many of those demonstrators filled petitions to “Stand with Walker.”

Saturday’s marchers in Wisconsin got a boost from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who also wants to cut collective bargaining rights, “aren’t just asking workers to tighten their belts, they’re demanding they give up their uniquely American rights as workers.”

Solis, attending a meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., said public employees should be “treated with respect and dignity.” They have made concessions in several states, she said.

The fight over the Wisconsin bill appears far from over. It still must clear the Wisconsin Senate, a step that is likely to prove far more contentious.

Fourteen Democratic senators have fled to neighboring Illinois to prevent a quorum from voting on the issue.

Walker on Friday reiterated his call for Democrats to return to the Legislature, defending the bill.

“Collective bargaining is a fiscal matter,” said Walker, who toured multiple state districts Friday in an effort to pressure the absentee lawmakers. Democrats said the governor’s proposal is tantamount to union-busting.

Saturday’s protesters in Wisconsin continued their refrain against the governor.

“What they’re doing here is trying to kill unions, period,” said Jean Ross, a Minnesota nurse who came to show solidarity. “They’ve created a fiscal crisis and blamed the victims. Well, we are all victims here.”

At a Thursday night news conference, Walker said if the Legislature does not pass his budget bill, state aid to local governments could be cut, brushing off critics who said the legislation will destroy public employee unions in the state.

“Wisconsin state employees have the strongest civil protections in the country. That’s not going to change in this bill,” Walker said. “It’s not about the union boss coming in from other parts of the country. It’s about whether we protect the taxpayers and the workers.”

The state had faced a suggested deadline Friday to balance the budget. The crucial date is March 16, state officials said. Wisconsin is confronted with a $137 million budget shortfall by June 30 and a $3.6 billion gap by 2013.

CNN’s David Ariosto, Ted Rowlands and Eric Fiegel contributed to this report

Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators

FEBRUARY 23, 2011 11:55 PM ET

The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in “psychological operations” to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.

The Runaway General: The Rolling Stone Profile of Stanley McChrystal That Changed History

The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as “information operations” at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.

“My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,” says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of the IO unit, who received an official reprimand after bucking orders. “I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line.”

Photos: Psy-Ops and the General

The list of targeted visitors was long, according to interviews with members of the IO team and internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone. Those singled out in the campaign included senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin; Rep. Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee; Adm. Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Czech ambassador to Afghanistan; the German interior minister, and a host of influential think-tank analysts.

The incident offers an indication of just how desperate the U.S. command in Afghanistan is to spin American civilian leaders into supporting an increasingly unpopular war. According to the Defense Department’s own definition, psy-ops – the use of propaganda and psychological tactics to influence emotions and behaviors – are supposed to be used exclusively on “hostile foreign groups.” Federal law forbids the military from practicing psy-ops on Americans, and each defense authorization bill comes with a “propaganda rider” that also prohibits such manipulation. “Everyone in the psy-ops, intel, and IO community knows you’re not supposed to target Americans,” says a veteran member of another psy-ops team who has run operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s what you learn on day one.”

King David’s War: How Gen. Petraeus Is Doubling Down on a Failed Strategy

When Holmes and his four-man team arrived in Afghanistan in November 2009, their mission was to assess the effects of U.S. propaganda on the Taliban and the local Afghan population. But the following month, Holmes began receiving orders from Caldwell’s staff to direct his expertise on a new target: visiting Americans. At first, the orders were administered verbally. According to Holmes, who attended at least a dozen meetings with Caldwell to discuss the operation, the general wanted the IO unit to do the kind of seemingly innocuous work usually delegated to the two dozen members of his public affairs staff: compiling detailed profiles of the VIPs, including their voting records, their likes and dislikes, and their “hot-button issues.” In one email to Holmes, Caldwell’s staff also wanted to know how to shape the general’s presentations to the visiting dignitaries, and how best to “refine our messaging.”

Congressional delegations – known in military jargon as CODELs – are no strangers to spin. U.S. lawmakers routinely take trips to the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they receive carefully orchestrated briefings and visit local markets before posing for souvenir photos in helmets and flak jackets. Informally, the trips are a way for generals to lobby congressmen and provide first-hand updates on the war. But what Caldwell was looking for was more than the usual background briefings on senators. According to Holmes, the general wanted the IO team to provide a “deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds.” The general’s chief of staff also asked Holmes how Caldwell could secretly manipulate the U.S. lawmakers without their knowledge. “How do we get these guys to give us more people?” he demanded. “What do I have to plant inside their heads?”

Special forces swoop on Libya to pull Britons to safety

Special forces swoop on Libya to pull Britons to safety

A daring rescue operation by Special Forces flew scores of British citizens out of Libya last night as the net closed in on Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Image 1 of 2
A Hercules aircraft sits on the runway at Malta International Airport after returning from Benghazi Photo: EPA
By Nick Meo in Al Bayda, Melissa Kite in London and Philip Sherwell in New York 9:34PM GMT 26 Feb 2011

In a daylight mission, the RAF, Special Air Service and Special Boat Service used two specially equipped Hercules aircraft to snatch Britons from the country. However, 300 oil workers from Britain remained stranded in desert camps last night.

The rescue teams, who flew out of bases in Malta, searched an area four times the size of Britain to locate workers before evacuating them back to Valletta in Malta last night.

They were given food and water and medical assistance before being taken to hotels to rest. They will begin arriving home today.

Within hours of them arriving back to safety, the international community ratcheted up the pressure on the Libyan dictator as the security situation in the country deteriorated. The British embassy in Tripoli was closed and its staff hurriedly evacuated.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, disclosed that a major international diplomatic offensive against the dictator was starting.

As the violence worsened, with reports of hundreds being killed, Mr Hague told The Sunday Telegraph: “In the next few days, we will intensify the pressure on the Libyan regime.”

In a series of developments:

• Witnesses in Tripoli told of deaths at mosques and of armed men around the city. Elsewhere in the country, pro-Gaddafi forces were said to have fired on civilians from helicopters.

The Sunday Telegraph met captured African mercenaries who Col Gaddafi had paid to prop up his regime, including a 16-year-old boy handed a gun and then told to go out and massacre protesters.

• Billions of pounds of Libyan assets are set to be frozen in Britain, including shareholdings in a major publishing company and large amounts of property.

• The Government is pushing for an arms embargo, a travel ban and a war crimes investigation into the crackdown on demonstrators, which appears to be reaching new heights of brutality.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, suggested yesterday that 1,000 or more had died since the rebellion against Col Gaddafi’s 42-year rule began last week.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and Mr Hague held talks over the phone with a series of world leaders yesterday including those of France and Russia, after which officials made clear that the brutality of the Gaddafi regime “would not be tolerated”. President Barack Obama said Gaddafi had “lost the legitimacy to rule” and should step down immediately.

In a separate move, The Sunday Telegraph understands that British diplomats have privately urged Nato and the UN to start thinking about the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone.

Humanitarian specialists were also on the ground in Egypt and making their way to the Libyan border, officials said.

The team were assessing how Britain and the international community could best assist the region as the situation worsens. “We are monitoring the movement of refugees from Libya to Tunisia and Egypt,” a spokesman said.

The stance reflects a significant toughening of the British Government’s position after an initially slow response to the crisis. Ministers faced criticism for a sluggish response to the need for evacuation but rescue efforts have sped up in recent days.

As diplomatic efforts to remove Col Gaddafi intensify, Mr Hague will meet Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to discuss the crisis tomorrow.

The rescues took place south of Benghazi, which has fallen to the rebels, and involved members of the SAS and SBS and support troops.

The Hercules aircraft, believed to be from RAF 47 Squadron (Special Forces Flight), flew from a base on Malta where they had assembled on Friday as concern grew about the safety of the British workers.

SAS and SBS units are on standby to evacuate more Britons.

A final evacuation by the frigate HMS Cumberland is expected early this morning when it docks at Benghazi for any remaining Britons.

Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, revealed the mission after the two planes landed in Malta shortly after 6pm last night.

“I can confirm that two RAF C130 Hercules aircraft have evacuated around 150 civilians from desert locations south of Benghazi,” he said. “HMS York has arrived in Valletta to take on board stores so it can assist the evacuation effort if required.

“And a number of other military assets remain available to support the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] led efforts to return civilians from Libya.”

The majority of the 150 civilians rescued were British but other nationalities were also plucked to safety.

During the mission, two RAF Hercules, which can carry up to four heavily armed SAS Land Rovers, landed on improvised desert airstrips.

There were reports that Special Forces personnel were landed in Libya by HMS Cumberland when it docked in Benghazi on Thursday and fanned south into the country’s desert. They picked Britons, almost all of whom had barricaded themselves in compounds around the Libyan desert as law and order collapsed.

Many had said they were living in fear of their lives and had been faced with armed looters, while some had been robbed at gunpoint.

The wives of some of the stranded men had complained about a lack of action by the Foreign Office – although they could not be warned of plans for the rescue in order to keep it secret.

In New York, the noose tightened on the Libyan dictator as world powers finalised plans at the United Nations for financial and weapons sanctions against his clan and key regime officials.

The US pressed ahead with its own sanctions in tandem with the international effort, aiming to peel away remaining members of Col Gaddafi’s inner circle after several high-profile defections last week.

If the embattled Libyan leader is not brought down by a coup, then his fate seems set to be determined by a bloody showdown for his base in the capital. Much of the rest of the country is either occupied by rebels or under no control.

Helicopter-borne pro-Gaddafi mercenaries fired on protesters attending a funeral in the western city of Misurata, a witness said. With the sound of heavy weapons fire audible in the background, he said the fighters opened fire on mourners outside a mosque in the city, 90 miles east of the capital.

Residents of Tripoli said they had seen Gaddafi followers leaving the regime’s Revolutionary Committee headquarters armed with newly-issued weapons.

Others reported pro-Gaddafi militiamen wearing green headbands being driven through the city by trucks and manning roadblocks to control movement.

The capital remained quiet for much of the day after the bloodshed on Friday when pro-Gaddafi security forces opened fire on the largest anti-government marches in the city since the revolt broke out.

In Tripoli’s Tajoura district, a hub of anti-regime protests, residents barricaded streets with concrete blocks and chopped-down palm trees to keep out vehicles filled with young pro-Gaddafi fighters wielding automatic weapons.

Saif al-Islam, Col Gaddafi’s son, told foreign journalists invited on a government propaganda tour that the capital was “calm” and there were no casualties there.

“Everything is peaceful,” he said. “Peace is coming back to our country.” He insisted that the regime wanted negotiations with the opposition and said there were nothing more than “minor problems” in the cities of Misurata and Zawiya, where “we are dealing with terrorist people”.

The spectre of a bloodbath in Tripoli was hanging over world diplomats as they met for an unusual Saturday session to discuss a British-French plan for an immediate arms embargo, freezing of assets and travel ban on the Gaddafi family and senior government figures.

The US moved quickly to impose its own sanctions on Libya, with President Obama issuing an executive order to freeze assets and ban weapons sales.

In a symbol of Col Gaddafi’s loosening grip on power, the “busty” Ukrainian nurse revealed to have been the dictator’s constant companion was said to be returning to her family in Europe.

Posted by peter chamberlin at 2:21 PM 0 comments Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook

The Seduction of the Knowledge-Based Society

The Seduction of the Knowledge-Based Society

Jeff Gates”

The most promising trend in geopolitics is the transition from hydrocarbon-based economies to knowledge-based societies. Leadership for that change is emerging from Arab nations.

The appeal of the Knowledge Society is apparent. Who could object to nations preparing their citizens for the 21st century? Yet unless knowledge is changed, the result could worsen an already dangerous situation.

The sharing of values and knowledge has long been the best way to bridge cultures and promote peace. That strategy is now essential to counter the success of those promoting The Clash of Civilizations.

Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are breaking new ground with education models that build on state-of-the-art information and communication technologies.

This is the inevitable path for the Middle East and North Africa. Yet despite the best of intentions, if knowledge itself is not changed, the impact on Arab societies could aggravate trends that undermine progress.

Just consider the costs when knowledge is corrupted….

How Zionists Corrupt Knowledge

Those who induced the U.S. to war in the Middle East deployed knowledge like a weapon. With lengthy pre-staging, a narrative emerged that made it appear plausible—even desirable—to invade Iraq in response to the provocation of 911.

In retrospect, we now know that the knowledge on which the U.S. relied was false. All of it.

Iraqi WMD. Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda. Iraqi meetings in Prague with Al Qaeda. Iraqi yellowcake uranium from Niger. Iraqi mobile biological laboratories. All false, all traceable to pro-Israelis and all portrayed as true by media outlets dominated by pro-Israelis.

The Knowledge Society holds great potential to connect the Arab world globally. And to build with the West cross-border understanding and empathy. That is the Knowledge Society at its best. At its worse, knowledge can be exploited to manipulate behavior.

The ongoing manipulation of thought and emotion in the U.S. typifies the danger. When Arab nations grasp the common source of the false knowledge that brought war to the region, both the perils and the promise of the Knowledge Society will become apparent.

Yet even the risk of being seduced to war understates the threat. In the modern era, psychological operations (“psy-ops”) are routinely deployed to create consensus opinions and generally accepted truths—akin to the truth of Iraqi WMD.

Mindset Manipulation

The modern-day battlefield is the shared field of consciousness. Where else could consensus opinions reside? Or generally accepted truths. There too are found “field-based” phenomena such as credibility and celebrity that are also deployed to exploit thought and emotion.

When waging field-based warfare, the power of association ranks near the top as effective weaponry. For example, with global public opinion the target, Zionists arranged for U.N. testimony in February 2003 by Secretary of State Colin Powell who vouched for intelligence showing that Iraq had mobile biological weapons laboratories.

When the U.N. Security Council and a global television audience watched the testimony of this former four-star general, what they saw was his reputation for honesty. By the power of association, his credibility “bled over” to grant legitimacy to phony intelligence.
General Powell was only a celebrity prop in an elaborately staged play meant to enhance the plausibility of a global war on terrorism. That war began six weeks later.
Where other than in plain sight could such duplicity succeed? You can be watching field-based warfare and still not see it.

Even now, Powell may not yet grasp how two field-based properties (credibility and celebrity) were key to the psy-ops that seduced the U.S. to war for an Israeli agenda.

Freedom from Deceit

Mental and emotional exploitation lie at the heart of how knowledge is corrupted to catalyze conflicts, manipulate behavior and influence affairs from afar.

With a solid grasp of the methodology of deceit, the Knowledge Society can expose and, by design, displace those complicit in this cunning form of combat.

In preparing for the 21st Century, Arab nations have an opportunity to free their citizens from the exploitation of those who for centuries have abused knowledge for their selfish ends.

Much of that abuse now proceeds through the unfettered freedom allowed finance. Educated over decades in a “consensus” mindset, lawmakers worldwide now believe in financial freedom as a proxy for personal freedom—regardless of the real-world results.

For the Knowledge Society to realize its potential, modern-day information and communication technologies must make these various forms of duplicity apparent and the perpetrators transparent.

Only with widespread knowledge of how facts can be displaced with false beliefs can the Knowledge Society be protected from such treachery.

Jeff Gates is author of Guilt By Association—How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War. See www.criminalstate.com

Consciousness Rising, World Fading

Consciousness Rising, World Fading

By Robert Jensen

25 February, 2011
Countercurrents.org

Our stories of awakenings — whether moral, intellectual, religious, artistic, or sexual — are tricky. Honest self-reflection doesn’t come easy, and self-satisfied accounts are the norm; we love to be the heroes of our own epics.

That’s true of accounts of political awakening as well, especially for those of us born into unearned privilege as a result of systems of illegitimate authority. Not only do we love to tell stories in which we come out looking good, but we know how to decorate the narrative with the trappings of humility to avoid seeming arrogant.  We use our failures to set up the story of our transformation; even when we speak of our limitations we are highlighting our wisdom in seeing those limitations.

So, when I got a request from a researcher to tell my story about how my political consciousness was raised, I was hesitant. I don’t like feeling like a fraud, and something always feels a bit fraudulent about my account, even when I am being as honest as I can. But, like most people, I feel driven to tell my story, mostly to try to explain myself to myself. So, here I go again:

As a teenager coming of age in the 1970s in mainstream culture in the upper Midwest, I missed the United States’ radicalizing movements by a decade and several hundred miles. I developed conventional liberal politics in reaction to the conventional conservative politics of my father and his generation. But in a more basic sense, I grew up depoliticized — like most contemporary Americans, I was never taught to analyze systems and structures of power, and so my banal liberal positions seemed like cutting edge critique to me. After college I worked as a journalist at mainstream newspapers, which further retarded my ability to think critically about power; reporters who don’t have a political consciousness coming into the field are unlikely to develop one in an industry that claims neutrality but is fanatically devoted to the conventional wisdom.

The raising of my consciousness began when I started a journalism/mass communication doctoral program in 1988, a time when U.S. universities were somewhat more intellectually and politically open than today. After years of the daily grind in newsrooms, I felt liberated by the freedom to read, think, and talk to others about all the new ideas I was encountering. My study of the First Amendment led me to the feminist critique of pornography, which at the time was an important focus for debate about the meaning of freedom of expression. My first graduate courses were taught by liberal defenders of pornography, who were the norm in the academy then and now. But I also began talking with activists in a local group that was fighting the sexual-exploitation industries (pornography, prostitution, stripping), and I realized there was a rich, complex, and exciting feminist critique, which required me to rethink what I thought I knew about freedom, choice, and liberation.

As a result of those first conversations, I started reading feminist work and taking feminist classes, and I kept talking with folks from the community group, which led me to get involved in their educational activities. I didn’t make those choices with any sense that I was constructing a radical philosophical and political framework. I was just following the ideas that seemed the most compelling intellectually and the people who seemed the most decent personally. Those ad hoc decisions changed my life, in two ways.

First, they opened up to me an alternative to the suffocating conventional wisdom, in which liberals and conservatives argue within narrow ideological boundaries. This exposure to feminist thinking, especially those people and ideas most commonly described as radical feminist, allowed me to step outside those boundaries and ask two simple questions: Where does real power lie and how does it operate, in both formal institutions and informal arrangements?

Second, they helped me realize the importance of always having a political life outside the university. Instead of putting all my energy into my teaching and research, I was anchored in a community project and connected to people who weren’t preoccupied with publishing marginally relevant research in marginally relevant academic journals. Although I had to publish scholarly articles for my first six years as an assistant professor, once I got tenure and job security I immediately returned to community organizing and ignored the pseudo-intellectual pretensions that dominate in most of the so-called scholarly world in the social sciences and humanities. I had developed respect for rigorous and relevant scholarship but had come to realize how little of it there was in my fields in the contemporary academy.

From those first inquiries into the sexual-exploitation industries and the role of a pornographic culture in men’s violence, I continued to think about how power is organized and operates around other dimensions of our identities and statuses in the world. After opening the gender door, it was inevitable that I would have to open the race door. From there, questions about the inherent economic injustice in capitalism and the violence required for U.S. imperial domination of the world became central. Finally, I began thinking more about how human domination of the living world is destroying the ecosphere’s capacity to sustain life as we know it.

All of those inquiries led me to the same conclusion: We live in a world structured by illegitimate hierarchies and based on a domination/subordination dynamic. For those of us with unearned privilege, the rewards for ignoring this conclusion are whatever status and money we can squeeze out of the system, while the cost of capitulation to power is a surrender of some essential part of our humanity. More than 20 years after embarking on this investigation, I can see that clearly. But when I first started confronting these issues, I only knew that the conventional wisdom seemed inadequate, that the platitudes uttered by people in power seemed empty, and that the rationalizations offered by the intellectuals in the service of power seemed self-serving. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I didn’t want that kind of career or life.

All that seems clear to me now, but it wasn’t at the start. The researcher’s query that prompted this essay asked about my “earliest consciousness-raising memory.” I have no simple answer, because my awakening was such a gradual process. But there were some moments along the way, such as the day I read Andrea Dworkin’s 1983 speech entitled “I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape,” in which she asked men for “one day in which no new bodies are piled up, one day in which no new agony is added to the old.” [1] In that speech she pointed out that feminists don’t hate men, but instead “believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.” [2]

I also remember the crucial role of one friend in the anti-pornography group, a white man who was older than I and was a part of not only the feminist movement but the civil-rights, anti-war, and environmental struggles. He provided me with a model for how someone with privilege could contribute to radical politics in a principled fashion. In my book on pornography, I wrote about one particularly important moment with Jim Koplin, when we talked about my motivation in volunteering with the group:

“If you want to be part of this because you want to save women, we don’t want you,” he said. At first I was confused — wasn’t the point of critiquing the sexual exploitation of women in pornography to help women? Yes, Jim explained, but too many men who get involved in such work see themselves as knights in shining armor, riding in like the hero to save women, and they usually turn out not to be trustworthy allies. They are in it for themselves, not to challenge masculinity but to play out the role of heroic man in a new, pseudo-feminist context. You have to be in it for yourself, but in a different way, he said.

“You have to be here to save your own life,” Jim told me.

I didn’t understand exactly what he meant at that moment, but something about those words resonated in my gut. This is what feminism offered men — not just a way to help those being hurt, but a way to understand that the same system of male dominance the hurt so many women also made it impossible for men to be fully human. [3]

Jim challenged me to ask myself why I was there and what I hoped to gain, and I came to understand that my interest in feminist politics was driven in large part by my own alienation from traditional definitions of masculinity. For me to tell a simple story about doing the right thing, implying nobility on my part, wasn’t going to cut it.

More than 20 years later, I’m still wrestling with these questions about why I make the choices I make. I am a man who is part of a feminist movement and a white guy who critiques the white supremacy deeply embedded in mainstream culture. I am an American who opposes U.S. imperial foreign policy and a middle-class academic working with a local group that organizes immigrant workers. For these efforts, I get attention and praise that is disproportionate to my effort and ability, a fact I point out as often as possible. People sometimes listen to me not because I’m smarter than feminist women, but because I am a man. My writing on race is not better than the work of non-white authors, but I’m appreciated because I’m white.

This is the tricky part of my awakening story. I was lucky to learn to see the world from the point of view of those who struggle against power, and I’m rewarded in many ways when I speak, write, or act in public in these movements. But I recognize that those rewards are unfair, and so my professed humility becomes another mark of my alleged sophistication. Yet if I were to refuse to use my privilege — if I dealt with this angst by fading into the background — I would be throwing away resources that come with my position in the world and which I can offer to these movements.

I am trapped, yet I am trapped in a system that makes my life relatively easy. Even when there is some threat of punishment for my political activities, such as during the fallout from critical essays about U.S. war crimes that I wrote after 9/11, I have so much support from outside the power structure and so much privilege as an educated white guy that I never really felt threatened. Even if I had been fired from my university position after 9/11, I likely would have landed on my feet.

I realize not all who adopt a critical perspective, even those in privileged categories, fare as well as I have. But in recent decades in the United States, in which dissent by people who look like me is mostly tolerated, there has been no widespread repression of people in the privileged sectors. People in targeted groups (particularly immigrants, Muslims, Arabs) have had to be careful, and there’s no guarantee that a more widespread repression won’t return to the United States, especially as U.S. power continues to decline around the world and elites get nervous. But for now, white men with U.S. citizenship are pretty safe. We may risk losing a job, but that’s trivial compared with the fates suffered by radicals in other eras in U.S. history or in other places today.

So, here’s my consciousness raising story summarized: I wandered through the first 30 years of my life mostly oblivious to the workings of power, protected by my privilege. For the past 20 years I’ve been struggling to contribute to a variety of movements for social justice and ecological sustainability, getting my consciousness raised on a regular basis whenever I seek out new experiences that push me beyond what I have come to take for granted (lately for me that has been happening at 5604 Manor, our progressive community center in Austin, TX, http://5604manor.org/ ). Although I love teaching and put considerable energy into my job as a professor, my community and political activities are just as important to me — and a greater source of intellectual vitality. If consciousness-raising is an ongoing project, it’s not likely to happen in moribund institutions such as universities but will come through engagement with people taking real risks in political work.

That’s as accurate an account as I can offer about how I became, and continue becoming, the political person I am. But telling this story always makes me a bit queasy; I have yet to find a way to describe my political development that doesn’t sound self-aggrandizing, as if I am casting myself as an epic hero.

That longstanding discomfort in telling my story is further complicated by new concerns in the past few years. More than ever I’m aware that no matter how high anyone’s consciousness in the United States is raised, there may be very little we can do to reverse the consequences of modern industrial society’s assault on the living world. I don’t mean that there is nothing we can or should do to promote ecological sustainability, but only that the processes set in motion during the industrial era may be beyond the point of no return, that the health of the ecosphere that makes our own lives possible may be compromised beyond recovery.

In contemporary left/progressive organizing, we typically focus on those small victories we achieve in the moment and on a vision for social change that sustains us over the long haul. With no revolution on the horizon, we pursue reforms within existing systems but hold onto radical ideals that inform those activities. We are willing to work without guarantees, bolstered by a faith that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” [4] That’s supposed to get us through; even if our movements don’t prevail in our own lifetime, we contribute to a better future.

But what if we are no longer bending toward justice? What if the arc of the moral universe has bent back and the cascading ecological crises will eventually overwhelm our collective moral capacities? Put bluntly: What if homo sapiens are an evolutionary dead-end?

That’s the central problem with my consciousness-raising story. When I was politicized 20 years ago, I made a commitment to facing the truth to the best of my ability, even when that truth is unpleasant and painful. My ideals haven’t changed and my commitment to organizing hasn’t waned, but the weight of the evidence suggests to me that our species is moving into a period of permanent decline during which much of what we have learned will be swamped by rapidly worsening ecological conditions. I think we’re in more trouble than most are willing to acknowledge.

This is not an argument for giving up on or dropping out of radical politics. It’s simply a description of what seems true to me, and I can’t see how our movements can afford to avoid these issues. I’m not sure I’m right about everything, though I am sure this analysis is plausible and should be on our agenda. Yet it’s my experience that most people want to push it out of view.

In trying to make sense of my political consciousness-raising, I try to avoid the temptation to cast myself as an epic hero who overcomes adversity to see the truth. That’s a struggle but is possible when one is part of a vibrant political community in which people hold each other accountable, and for all my fretting in this essay, I think I’ve done a reasonably good job of keeping on track. We can overcome our individual arrogance.

More difficult is facing the possibility that the human species has been cast as a tragic hero. Tragic heroes aren’t characters who have just run into a bit of bad luck but are protagonists brought down by an error in judgment that results from inherent flaws in their character. The arrogance with which we modern humans have treated the living world — the hubris of the high-energy/high-technology era — may well turn out to be that tragic flaw. Surrounded by the big majestic buildings and tiny sophisticated electronic gadgets created through human cleverness, it’s easy for us to believe we are smart enough to run a complex world. But cleverness is not wisdom, and the ability to create does not guarantee the ability to control the destruction we have unleashed.

Not every human society has gone down this road, but we live in a world dominated by those who not only exhibit that arrogance but embrace it, refusing to accept the reality of decline. That means our individual awakenings may be taking place within a much larger dying. To face that is to live in a profound state of grief. To stay true to a radical political consciousness is to face that grief.

———————–

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin, one of the partners in the community center “5604 Manor,” http://5604manor.org/ .

He is the author of All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, (Soft Skull Press, 2009); Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity(South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights, 2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2002).

Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film “Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing,” which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist. Information about the film, distributed by the Media Education Foundation, and an extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff are online athttp://thirdcoastactivist.org/osheroff.html .

Jensen can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu and his articles can be found online athttp://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/index.html . To join an email list to receive articles by Jensen, go to http://www.thirdcoastactivist.org/jensenupdates-info.html .

First He Called Rumsfeld a Liar On Live TV, Then He Disses Hillary On Air–Ray McGovern, Gotta Love Him.

Standing Up to War and Hillary Clinton

By Ray McGovern
February 23, 2011

It was not until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walked to the George Washington University podium last week to enthusiastic applause that I decided I had to dissociate myself from the obsequious adulation of a person responsible for so much death, suffering and destruction.

I was reminded of a spring day in Atlanta almost five years earlier when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld strutted onto a similar stage to loud acclaim from another enraptured audience.

Introducing Rumsfeld on May 4, 2006, the president of the Southern Center for International Policy in Atlanta highlighted his “honesty.” I had just reviewed my notes for an address I was scheduled to give that evening in Atlanta and, alas, the notes demonstrated his dishonesty.

I thought to myself, if there’s an opportunity for Q & A after his speech I might try to stand and ask a question, which is what happened. I engaged in a four-minute impromptu debate with Rumsfeld on Iraq War lies, an exchange that was carried on cable TV.

That experience leaped to mind on Feb. 15, as Secretary Clinton strode onstage amid similar adulation.

The fulsome praise for Clinton from GW’s president and the loud, sustained applause also brought to mind a phrase that – as a former Soviet analyst at CIA – I often read in Pravda. When reprinting the text of speeches by high Soviet officials, the Communist Party newspaper would regularly insert, in italicized parentheses:  “Burniye applaudismenti; vce stoyat” —  Stormy applause; all rise.

With the others at Clinton’s talk, I stood. I even clapped politely. But as the applause dragged on, I began to feel like a real phony. So, when the others finally sat down, I remained standing silently, motionless, wearing my “Veterans for Peace” T-shirt, with my eyes fixed narrowly on the rear of the auditorium and my back to the Secretary.

I did not expect what followed: a violent assault in full view of madam secretary by what we Soviet analysts used to call the “organs of state security.”  The rest is history, as they say.  A short account of the incident can be found here.

Callous Aplomb

As the video of the event shows, Secretary Clinton did not miss a beat in her speech as she called for authoritarian governments to show respect for dissent and to refrain from violence. She spoke with what seemed to be an especially chilly sang froid, as she ignored my silent protest and the violent assault which took place right in front of her.

The experience gave me personal confirmation of the impression that I reluctantly had drawn from watching her behavior and its consequences over the past decade. The incident was a kind of metaphor of the much worse violence that Secretary Clinton has coolly countenanced against others.

Again and again, Hillary Clinton – both as a U.S. senator and as Secretary of State – has demonstrated a nonchalant readiness to unleash the vast destructiveness of American military power. The charitable explanation, I suppose, is that she knows nothing of war from direct personal experience.

And that is also true of her husband, her colleague Robert Gates at the Defense Department, President Barack Obama, and most of the White House functionaries blithely making decisions to squander the lives and limbs of young soldiers in foreign adventures — conflicts that even the top brass admit cannot be won with weapons.

The analogy to Vietnam is inescapable. As White House tapes from the 1960s show, President Lyndon Johnson knew that the Vietnam War could not be “won” in any meaningful way.

Nonetheless, Johnson kept throwing hundreds of thousands into the battle lest someone accuse him of being soft on communism. I had an inside seat watching Johnson do that. And I did nothing.

Now, with an even more jittery president, a hawkish Secretary of State, the much-acclaimed field marshal David Petraeus, and various Republican presidential hopefuls – all jockeying for political position as the 2012 election draws near – the country is in even deeper trouble today.

No one on this political merry-go-round can afford to appear weak on terrorism. So, they all have covered their bets. And we all know who pays the price for these political calculations.

This time, I would NOT do nothing.

My colleagues in Veterans for Peace and I have known far too many comrades-in-arms and their families whose lives have been shattered or ended as a result of such crass political maneuvering.

Many of us veterans know more than we wish to know about war and killing. But — try as we may with letters and other appeals — we cannot get through to President Obama. And Secretary Clinton turns her own deaf ear to our entreaties and those from others who oppose unnecessary warfare, a pattern that she also followed in her days as a U.S. senator from New York.

See No Evil

In the summer of 2002, as the Senate was preparing to conduct hearings about alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq and the possibility of war, former Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq and U.S. Marine Major, Scott Ritter, came down to Washington from his home in upstate New York to share his first-hand knowledge with as many senators as possible.

To those that let him in the door, he showed that the “intelligence” adduced to support U.S. claims that Iraq still had WMD was fatally flawed. This was the same “intelligence” that Senate Intelligence Committee chair Jay Rockefeller later branded “unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

Sen. Hillary Clinton would not let Ritter in her door. Despite his unique insights as a U.N. inspector and his status as a constituent, Sen. Clinton gave him the royal run-around. Her message was clear: “Don’t bother me with the facts.” She had already made up her mind.

I had a direct line into her inner circle at the time, and was assured that several of my op-eds and other commentaries skeptical of George W. Bush’s planned invasion were given to Clinton, but no matter.

Sen. Clinton reportedly was not among the handful of legislators who took the trouble to read the National Intelligence Estimate on WMD in Iraq that was issued on Oct. 1, 2002, just ten days before she voted to authorize war.

In short, she chose not to perform the due diligence required prior to making a decision having life-or-death consequences for thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. She knew whom she needed to cater to, and what she felt she had to do.

But, bright as she is, Hillary Clinton is prone to huge mistakes — political, as well as strategic. In dissing those of us who were trying to warn her that an attack on Iraq would have catastrophic consequences, she simply willed us to be wrong.

Clearly, her calculation was that she had to appear super-strong on defense in order to win the Democratic nomination and then the presidency in 2008. Just as clearly, courting Israel and the Likud Lobby was also important to her political ambitions.

Blair Admits Israeli Role

Any lingering doubt that Israel played a major role in the U.S.- U.K. decision to attack Iraq was dispelled a year ago when former Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke publicly about the Israeli input into the all-important Bush-Blair deliberations on Iraq in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002.

Inexplicably, Blair forgot his usual discretion when it comes to disclosing important facts to the public and blurted out some truth at the Chilcot hearings in London regarding the origins of the Iraq War:

“As I recall that [April 2002] discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us [Bush and Blair], whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”

According to Philip Zelikow – a former member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and later counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – the “real threat” from Iraq was not to the United States.

Zelikow told an audience at the University of Virginia in September 2002, the “unstated threat” from Iraq was the “threat against Israel.” He added, “The American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell.”

But it wasn’t as though leading Israelis were disguising their war aims. The current Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu published a pre-invasion piece titled “The case for Toppling Saddam” in the Wall Street Journal.

“Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do,” Netanyahu declared. “I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis in supporting a pre-emptive strike against Saddam’s regime.”

The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported in February 2003, “the military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq.”

As a retired Israeli general later put it, “Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq’s non-conventional [WMD] capabilities.”

In the United States, neoconservatives also pushed for war thinking that taking out Saddam Hussein would make Israel more secure.

These Israeli leaders and their neocon allies got their wish on March 19, 2003, with the U.S.-U.K. invasion.

Of course, pressure from Israel and its Lobby was not the only factor behind the invasion of Iraq — think also oil, military bases, various political ambitions, revenge, etc. — but the Israeli factor was critical.

A Calculating Senator

I’m afraid, though, that these calculations aimed at enhancing Israeli security may ultimately have the opposite effect. The Iraq War and the anti-Americanism that it has engendered across the Middle East seem sure to make Israel’s position in the region even more precarious.

If the Iraq War does end up making the region more dangerous for Israel, the fault will lie with Israel’s hard-line leaders, as well as with those American officials (and media pundits) who so eagerly clambered onboard for the attack on Iraq.

One of those U.S. officials was the calculating senator from New York.

In a kind of poetic justice, Clinton’s politically motivated warmongering became a key factor in her losing the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, who as a young state senator in Illinois spoke out against the war.

Though she bet wrong in 2002-03, Clinton keeps doubling down in her apparent belief that her greater political vulnerability comes from being perceived as “weak” against U.S. adversaries. So, she’s emerged as one of the Obama administration’s leading hawks on Afghanistan and Iran.

I suspect she still has her eye on what she considers the crucial centers of financial, media and other power that could support a possible future run for president, whether in 2012 if the Obama administration unravels or in 2016.

Another explanation, I suppose, could be that the Secretary of State genuinely believes that the United States should fight wars favored by right-wing Israelis and their influential supporters in the U.S.

Whichever interpretation you prefer, there’s no doubt that she has put herself in the forefront of American leaders threatening Iran over its alleged “nuclear weapons” program, a “weapons” program that Iran denies exists and for which the U.S. intelligence community has found little or no evidence.

Bête Noire Iran

As a former CIA analyst myself, it strikes me as odd that Clinton’s speeches never reflect the consistent, unanimous judgment of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, issued formally (and with “high confidence”) in November 2007 that Iran stopped working on a nuclear weapon in the fall of 2003 and had not yet decided whether or not to resume that work.

Less than two weeks ago (on Feb. 10), in a formal appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, National Intelligence Director James Clapper testified:

“We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons….

“We continue to judge Iran’s nuclear decisionmaking is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran.”

Who’s in Charge Here?

Yet, in her determination to come across as hard-line, Clinton has undercut promising initiatives that might have constrained Iran from having enough low-enriched uranium to even be tempted to build a nuclear arsenal.

Last year, when – at the urging of President Obama – the leaders of Turkey and Brazil worked out an agreement with Iran, under which Iran agreed to ship about half of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) out of country, Clinton immediately rejected it in favor of more severe economic sanctions.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were left wondering who exactly was in charge in Washington — Hillary and her pro-Israeli friends, or Obama.

Brazil released a three-page letter that Obama had sent to Lula da Silva a month earlier in which Obama said the proposed uranium transfer “would build confidence and reduce regional tensions by substantially reducing Iran’s” stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

The contrast between Obama’s support for the initiative and the opposition from various hardliners (including Clinton) caused “some puzzlement,” one senior Brazilian official told the New York Times. After all, this official said, the supportive “letter came from the highest authority and was very clear.”

It was a particularly telling episode. Clinton basked in the applause of Israeli leaders and neocon pundits for blocking the uranium transfer and securing more restrictive U.N. sanctions on Iran – and since then Iran appears to have dug in its heals on additional negotiations over its nuclear program.

Secretary Clinton is almost as assiduous as Netanyahu in never missing a chance to paint the Iranians in the darkest colors – even if that ends up painting the entire region into a more dangerous corner.

More Hypocrisy

On Feb. 15, Clinton continued giving hypocrisy a bad name, with her GW speech regarding the importance of governments respecting peaceful dissent.

Five short paragraphs after she watched me snatched out of the audience Blackwater-style, she said, “Iran is awful because it is a government that routinely violates the rights of its people.” It was like something straight out of Franz Kafka.

Today, given the growing instability in the Middle East – and Netanyahu’s strident talk about Iran’s dangerous influence – it may take yet another Herculean effort by Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen to disabuse Netanyahu of the notion that Israel can somehow provoke the kind of confrontation with Iran that would suck Obama into the conflict on Israel’s side.

At each such turning point, Secretary Clinton predictably sides with the hard-line Israeli position and shows remarkably little sympathy for the Palestinians or any other group that finds itself in Israel’s way.

It is now clear, not only from the WikiLeaks documents, but even more so from the “Palestine Papers” disclosed by Al Jazeera, that Washington has long been playing a thoroughly dishonest “honest-broker” role between Israel and the Palestinians.

But those documents don’t stand alone. Clinton also rejected the Goldstone Report’s criticism of Israel’s bloody attack on Gaza in 2008-09; she waffled on Israel’s fatal commando raid on a Turkish relief flotilla on its way to Gaza in 2010; and she rallied to the defense of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak this month when Israeli leaders raised alarms about what might follow him.

Just last week, Clinton oversaw the casting of the U.S. veto to kill a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Israel to stop colonizing territories it occupied in 1967. That vote was 14 to 1, marking the first such veto by the Obama administration. Netanyahu was quick to state that he “deeply appreciated” the U.S. stance.

Silent Witness

In the face of such callous disregard for what the Founders called “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind,” words failed me — literally — on Feb. 15.

The op-eds, the speeches, the interviews that I and others have done about needless war and feckless politicians may have done some good but, surely, they have not done enough. And America’s Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) is the embodiment of a Fourth Estate that is dead in the water.

I counted about 20 TV cameras at the Clinton speech and reporters galore. Not one thought to come outside to watch what was happening to me, and zero reporting on the incident has found its way into the FCM, save a couple of brief and misleading accounts.

A Fox News story claimed that “a heckler interrupted” Clinton’s speech and then “was escorted from the room.” Fox News added that I “was, perhaps, trying to hold up a sign.” CNN posted a brief clip with a similar insistence that I had “interrupted” Clinton’s speech, though the video shows me saying nothing until after I’m dragged away (or “escorted”) when I say, “So this is America.” There also was no sign.

Disappointing, but not surprising. I guess I really do believe that the good is worth doing because it is good. It shouldn’t matter that there is little or no guarantee of success — or even a truthful recounting of what happened.

One of my friends, in a good-natured attempt to make light of my arrest and brief imprisonment, commented that I must be used to it by now.

I thought of how anti-war prophet, Fr. Dan Berrigan, responded to that kind of observation in his testimony at the Plowshares Eight trial 31 years ago. I feel blessed by his witness and fully identify with what he said about “the push of conscience”:

“With every cowardly bone in my body, I wished I hadn’t had to do it. That has been true every time I have been arrested. My stomach turns over. I feel sick. I feel afraid. I hate jail. I don’t do well there physically.

“But I have read that we must not kill. I have read that children, above all, are threatened by this. I have read that Christ our Lord underwent death rather than inflict it. And I’m supposed to be a disciple.

“The push of conscience is a terrible thing.”

As Fr. Berrigan clearly understood, the suffering of the victims of war is so much worse than the shock and discomfort of arrest.

For her part, Sen. and/or Secretary Clinton seems never to have encountered a war that she didn’t immediately embrace on behalf of some geopolitical justification, apparently following Henry Kissinger’s dictum that soldiers are “just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”

And beyond even the human suffering of those caught up in war, there’s what’s in store for the rest of us. As recent rhetoric and disclosures of leaked documents have made clear, what lies ahead is a permanent warfare state, including occupation of foreign lands and new military bases around the globe — unless we have the courage to stand up this time.

Also to be expected will be the curtailment of our rights at home. “A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny,” wrote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn — one who knew.

Perhaps we need to bear in mind that we are part of a long line of those who have taken a stand on these issues.

As for those of us who have served abroad to protect the rights of U.S. citizens — well, maybe we have a particular mandate to do what we can to keep protecting them.

For us Veterans for Peace, we’ve been there, done that. And so, enough already!

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing ministry of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early Sixties and then served as a CIA analyst for 27 years. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Blackwater/XE Coming to Lebanon to Arrest/Kidnap STL Suspects?

In Re Barak, “Bullahs,” Blackwater, Bounties & the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)

Franklin Lamb

Beirut

Originally publisshed in Al Manar English

When the US marines were in and out of Lebanon in 1983-1984 some of those I met, when visiting their barracks with American journalist Janet Stevens, to discuss Israel’s use of American cluster bombs against civilians had the habit, as did sailors from the USS New Jersey, of referring  to the Lebanese Capital simply as “Root.” Or sometimes they would call it: “The Root” as in, “We came to “The Root” to kick some butt!”

The Marines were responsible for unexploded ordnance clearance in the area around Beirut airport while Italian, French and a small British force worked in adjoining areas of West Beirut, following the Israeli siege, which sometimes included intensive carpet shelling. The Marines did a good job in their area trying to make it safe for civilians and took 12 casualties, two fatal, from Israeli dropped American cluster bombs. Unfortunately President Reagan ordered the American forces to support the Israeli backed Phalange government of Amin Gemayel against the popular Lebanese resistance and the marines were soon viewed as being partisan participants in a domestic conflict. This led to the Marines departure following events of October 1983 and despite recent Israeli proposals, it is fairly unlikely that either American or NATO forces will arrive in Lebanon anytime soon.

But Blackwater USA just might.

Despite a series of publicly announced “disassociations” periodically issued from the media offices at the Pentagon and State Department, plus a couple of image polishing name changes including currently,  Xe Services LLC ( Xe being short for Xena, the mythical goddess of war) the hydra headed Blackwater (BW), founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark is still quite active.

BW continues to sign US tax payer funded contracts whilst spreading its tentacles around the region, ever scanning the horizon and sniffing out softer underbelly money makers to meet the payroll of its $500 per day operatives. Prince told the US Congress last year that his organization is “A professional organization serving as a solutions provider to the U.S. government. We operate in the defense, training, logistics, and intelligence spaces, priding ourselves on getting the job done right”.

Two weeks ago in Leidschendam-Voorburg, which abuts The Hague and is the site of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Blackwater USA representatives looking to land a lucrative bounty hunter contract with the STL’s registrar’s office, preferred to label Hezbollah simply as ‘Bullahs’. Apparently it’s some sort of BW macho lingo term from the organizations combat training bases in North Carolina and California.  Some Blackwater mercenaries also used the “Bullahs” label in Iraq in addition to racist terms like “Ragheads”, “Hajiis”, and “Sand Niggers.”

In addition, Black water representatives, presumably offering “to get the job done right,” have reportedly met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and will again during Barak’s current visit to Washington.  According to an email message from a Congressional Staffer who works for a Committee that receives intelligence briefings, BW has been getting cozy with Israel and may be in the process of setting up a BW “training center” in occupied Palestine north of Kabri which is about 20 miles south of UNIFIL’s HQ in Naqoura along the Lebanon-Palestine ‘blue line’.

Barak, according to the same source, will meet on February 26 with National Security chief Tom Donilon and Dennis Ross to discuss Iran, Hezbollah the STL and the impact of recent regional events on the Israeli-Iranian strategic balance in the region. During his meetings with BW representatives his message to BW may be along the lines of “Hey, don’t worry. We’ll hold your coats” as Israel increasingly considers following the American lead and hires mercenaries to confront its enemies.

Barak may in point of fact have a job for BW.

Based on sources who attended the recent Special Tribunal for Lebanon media briefings, as well as sources in Congress and North Carolina, it appears that the STL Registrar’s 1/17/11 announcement that the Court might be seeking help of the International community to arrest and deliver to the Hague those against whom Judge Daniel Frensen is widely expected to issue arrest warrants, is indeed generating applications.

Following the STL’s implied job announcement, Blackwater’s HQ, still based in Moyock, North Carolina was abuzz with talk of “business opportunities.”  According to a stringer for the Daily Southerner in nearby Tarboro, NC, who claims that she dates “BW special forces guys”: “Who better to go after the terrorists with arrest warrants from that Court than our local Confederate bounty hunters par excellence?”

By the morning of 1/20/11 and again on 1/21/11, Blackwater representatives, who arrived two days earlier in The Hague on a flight from Israel, tried to convince the Office of the STL Registrar, and, that evening, anyone listening in the nearby Hilton Hotel Grand Café Pearl, that Blackwater could do the job better than Interpol.  All they needed to know was that the proposed per head bounty dollar amount was guaranteed and they would do the rest.

After a dinner of pan fried wild sea bass and enjoying bottles of German wine, the more they drank and partied, which reportedly lasted until the wee hours, the more the Blackwater reps claimed to actually relish a long overdue fight with “Bullahs.” One BW operative, according to two Dutch journalists who were present for part of the evening, told  the groups  ”tourist hostess”  attractive dates, “ when even one of them “Bullahs” needs to get his butt busted, cuffed, and dragged to the Hague, we can do the job young ladies!  Ya got our word on that!”

Will Blackwater help I reoccupy Lebanon?

Ehud Barak’s statements this week about Israel reoccupying south Lebanon might lead some to muse whether the Defense Minister perhaps forgot why, when he was prime minister, he ordered the precipitous Israeli nighttime stealth pullout,  during which some local villagers claim they saw some elements of the Golani brigade  literally skidding down the hill at Maron al Ras during the night of May 23, 2000  on their back sides as other IDF units fled across the  exits points south of Aita Schab and Bint Jbeil with resistance fighters hot on their tails.

In fact the reason then Israeli Prime Minister Barak ordered the IDF out of Lebanon, was partially under electoral pressure from the Israeli public, because Israeli casualties were skyrocketing. Barak also acted on the advice of his well-paid campaign advisor and Bill Clinton confidant, James Carville who advised Barak that ‘moderate Israelis’ would vote for him if he did. As it turned out James underestimated the number of ‘moderate Israelis’, and Barak lost the election by a wide margin to Ariel Sharon who got 1,698,077 (62.39%) to Barak’s 1,023,944 (37.61%).

“Funny Jimmy” as he’s known in the Big Easy where he grew up, returned to the “James Carville and Mary Matlin show.”  Not one to easily give up on lost causes, it is being rumored in Washington that James, the apparent eternal devotee of Le and La Clinton, is spending much of his time these days trying to figure out how to get Hilary elected President and he is studying the odds for the 2012 Democratic primary. Carville, and others including remnants of his former campaign team in Israel, see the possibility of the Democrats dumping Obama, as doable if former IDF reservist, Rahm Emanuel, the new Mayor of Chicago, will dump Obama, sign on with Hilary, and bring the US Israeli lobby and their cash with him.

In his free time James is working as an adman for Miracle Whip in a TV commercial which features “ Funny Jimmy”  Carville and others expressing either their love or hate for the imitation mayonnaise spread.  “If you’ve got these fancy, dancy mustards and stuff like that, that’s kind of an elite thing,” says Carville. “Miracle Whip is the essence of America. We are a simple people, very trusting and only wanting to do God’s will.”

Contrary to the Israeli lobby spin that Israel left Lebanon in May of 2000 as a unilateral goodwill gesture to advance the fake “peace process”, IDF statistics leading up to Hezbollah’s expulsion of the IDF and the collapse of its collaborationist South Lebanese Army (SLA) match those explained recently by Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General, former chemistry professor Naim Qassim who is perhaps the leading expert on exactly what transpired in South Lebanon during this period. Professor Qassim’s book, “Hezbollah from Within” is the most authoritative volume on the subject of Hezbollah…to date.

Also, Israeli TV audiences had grown weary of watching footage-often courtesy of Al Manar, of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon as a result of Resistance operations. Even today, fighters who were on the scene in the spring of 2000, report that they were surprised at the Israeli debacle as were the Israeli SLA Lebanese collaborators. In some instances, retreating Israeli soldiers used their former Lebanese “partners and brothers” as human shields hoping that the Lebanese resistance would not fire on fellow Lebanese as the Israelis fled. The IDF did not inform their SLA allies that they were withdrawing. Ever hopeful of igniting a civil war in Lebanon, the new IDF Chief of Staff  Benny Gantz and Israeli intelligence meticulously left behind lists of the names of many of its Lebanese collaborators, hoping for a Lebanese-Lebanese bloodbath. As it turned out Hezbollah quickly, and some say reluctantly, instructed their units to adhere to a strict policy or no retribution and to “let bygones be bygones.”  Only modest punishment was administered by the Lebanese State Judiciary partly because the number of Israeli (US taxpayer) paid killers was high and there was not enough prison space to house them and also because Hezbollah wanted to avoid sectarian strife since a large percentage of the collaborators were from one Lebanese sect and cries of “sectarian targeting” were predictable. The issue of whether Hezbollah was too lenient with these collaborators following the expulsion of the IDF is, eleven years later, still sometimes discussed in Southern villages among families who lost loved ones to the turncoats.—many of the latter living today, as next door neighbors to their victims’ families.

If the STL does decide to hire Blackwater USA to execute any arrest warrants in Lebanon or if Israel decides to hire ”seek and kill” Blackwater units during its predicted coming invasion, whatever that does for Xe’s Stock prices, its BW’s stock of mercenaries that will be eagarly anticipated in Lebanon.

As for Baraks boast that the new IDF Chief Benny Gantz “knows south Lebanon” the career assassin might want to recall, as he remembers why Israel withdrew from Lebanon in May of 2000, that as one Hezbollah veteran told this observer this week, “South Lebanon knows Benny Gantz”.

 

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached c/o fplamb@gmail.com

Pity the Nation…That Needs Heroes

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Pity the nation…

Two mutilated bodies of Baloch political workers — Mehboob Wadela of the Baloch National Movement (BNM) and Rehman Arif of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) — were found in Gwadar district on Wednesday. Mr Wadela went missing in April 2010 from Karachi while Mr Arif was abducted four months ago. On the one hand the number of disappeared Baloch keeps increasing with every passing day while on the other hand the bullet-riddled bodies of the ‘missing’ Baloch people keep appearing in every nook and corner of Balochistan. In its recent report on Balochistan, Amnesty International (AI) called on the government to “immediately provide accountability for the alarming number of killings and abductions in Balochistan attributed to government forces in recent months”. According to the information compiled by AI, “In the last four months, at least 90 Baloch activists, teachers, journalists and lawyers have disappeared or been murdered, many in ‘kill and dump’ operations…Their bullet-ridden bodies, most bearing torture marks, have been recovered across Balochistan.” This report should have raised alarm bells in the power corridors but as is usual in this province’s case, our ruling elite has chosen to stay quiet.

Balochistan may be the largest province of Pakistan but it is also the province that has suffered the most in the last six decades. The Baloch were alienated right from the beginning when Balochistan was forcefully annexed to Pakistan. The state could have made things better but it chose not to. The powerful military establishment, which is mostly dominated by Punjabis, created further trouble by conducting military operations in Balochistan on a number of occasions. During Musharraf’s regime, the woes of the Baloch increased manifold after he launched another military operation just to satisfy his ego when rockets were fired in protest at his arrival in Kohlu. He publicly vowed to take revenge and created a parallel government in the province by deploying the Frontier Corps (FC) there. Since then there has been no looking back. Nawab Akbar Bugti’s assassination by the military forces was ‘celebrated’ by General (retd) Musharraf. When the PPP government came to power in 2008 and Musharraf was later ousted as the president, the people of Balochistan thought that some relief might come their way but it was not to be. Despite the NFC Award and the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package, the condition of the Baloch still remains the same. Thousands of Baloch are missing and their families are still waiting for justice. Previously, only the Baloch separatists were targeted by the military establishment but now even moderate Baloch nationalists are not being spared. Targeting the moderate Baloch nationalists is a dangerous trend and could lead to grave consequences for the federation because it will increase extreme views and separatist sentiment. The democratically elected government remains powerless while the powerful establishment calls the shots.

The Baloch have only been asking for their rights all these years. Our state has failed to address their grievances. By refusing to give in to their just demands and killing the Baloch people left, right and centre, the state has not done any favour to either the federation or Balochistan. We must not forget what happened back in 1971 when West Pakistan refused to address the grievances of East Pakistan. It is hoped that we will not make the same mistake again. It is time that the government talks to all Baloch leaders, those in exile and those in Pakistan. Unless and until a political solution is reached, the Baloch will not give up armed insurgency. The Baloch have suffered enough. It is time to bring back peace in the lives of the people of Balochistan.

Egyptian and Other Revolutions Take Steam Out of Zawahiri’s Sails

[Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Zawahiri’s terror group have been at the center of all American “Islamist” terror groups since the beginning, before there was an “al-Qaeda” or the American Mujahedeen “base,” “al Q eidat.” The reality of an Egyptian revolution, taking place because of a bunch of kids and “moderate Muslims” may become too much for the old terrorist to bear.  If he were not an American puppet, the group we know as “al-Qaeda” would now be planning a massive awakening for the Egyptian masses.  But that would likely put the old murderer on the other side of America’s “red line” separating old “Islamist” paradigm from new moderate revolutionaries.  The days ahead for the Egyptians may prove to be even more chaotic than the ones seen so far.

Everyday is an adventure in “Zombieland.”]

Al-Qaida’s Embarrassment

Revolutions Mark Setback for Terror Group

By Yassin Musharbash

Pcitured here is Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri. Another al-Qaida leader said: "It is true the revolution is not entirely what we had envisioned."


AFP/ SITE

Pcitured here is Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri. Another al-Qaida leader said: “It is true the revolution is not entirely what we had envisioned.”

Ben Ali has fled, Mubarak has been overthrown and Gadhafi is faltering, but al-Qaida is frustrated, because jihadists have played no role whatsoever in the great revolution in the Arab world. The terrorist organization has repeatedly tried to use propaganda to take credit for the revolts, but no one is listening.

One of the side effects of the Arab revolt is that the jihad bubble has burst, at least for now. The popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have impressively demonstrated how little jihadists have to say in Arab societies. Contrary to the propaganda they have been spreading for decades, their mobilization potential is virtually nonexistent.

Their original goal — the overthrow of the secular regimes in the Arab world — has been achieved by others, including groups that are among the declared enemies of al-Qaida and its allies: secularists, students with a Western orientation, politically active women, people who support democracy and moderate Islamists. It isn’t al-Qaida that has proven to be a vanguard, but the secular, Internet-savvy youth of the Arab world. And no one on the squares and streets, from Tunis to Benghazi, has called for a Taliban-esque theocracy, al-Qaida’s vision for the Islamic world.

What an embarrassing revelation!

But because those who live in the universe of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his associates refuse to accept this reality, an effort is already underway to reinterpret recent events in the Arab world. At first, it seemed as if the terrorist network hadn’t found any words to comment on the massive upheavals. But now al-Qaida’s spin on the events in the Middle East is gradually becoming clear.

Al-Qaida is serving up a mixture of currying favor and issuing dire warnings. On Thursday, the North African branch of the organization, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), declared its support for the revolt in Libya. Of course, that revolt is being portrayed as “jihad,” while al-Qaida insists that it makes sense for the Libyans to be rising up against dictator Moammar Gadhafi because he is an “enemy of God.” Besides, as AQIM claims with some audacity, “we have consistently fought solely for your defense.”

The Divide Between Real and Wannabe Revolutionaries

Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida’s second-in-command and one of the Egyptian jihadists who has spent a lifetime fighting against the “godless” regime there, issued a statement on the situation in Egypt on Feb. 18. He too congratulated the revolutionaries, but the first thing he felt compelled to say about his native Egypt was that it is “secular and democratic,” and that this is what must change.

This is remarkable. While hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets precisely because the regime was only outwardly democratic, this is exactly the issue Zawahiri emphasizes as a reason for a revolt! The divide that is apparent here between the real and the wannabe revolutionaries is enormous and embarrassing, even for the occasional hardcore Islamist, especially when Zawahiri ups the ante and accuses Mubarak of having rigged elections. This isn’t exactly a coherent analysis.

Meanwhile, also on Thursday, the Libyan-born al-Qaida ideologue Attiyat Allah addressed the uprisings in North Africa and his native Libya. At least he was honest enough to admit that “it is true that this revolution is not entirely what we had envisioned.”

But he too had little more to offer than the warning not to ignore the Koran as a guideline for action. He suggested that the newly won freedoms in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya be used for missionary work and activism to help shape the future in a jihadist sense.

It is unlikely that this will transpire. It is far more likely that moderate Islamists will play this role, which, of course, would not mesh with al-Qaida’s goals, either.

But as humiliated as al-Qaida and its allies may be at the moment, this is not necessarily a permanent state of affairs. It is easier to fight democratic governments than despots, and chaos has always been a fertile breeding ground for jihadists. Jihadism hasn’t been defeated yet. Thanks to the revolts, it has only become recognizable for what it is: the ideology and bloody practice of a very small minority among Arabs and Muslims.

German News Reports Second Suspected Syrian Nuclear Facility Identified

Report: Second Suspected Syrian Nuclear Facility Identified

(RTTNews) – Western intelligence agencies have identified a second suspected nuclear site in Syria which, they believe, was set up to produce fuel for the country’s secret nuclear program, a German newspaper reported on Thursday.

Munich’s ‘Sueddeutsche Zeitung’ newspaper claimed in its report that photos taken from inside two buildings near Damascus, obtained by Western intelligence agencies, showed equipment characteristic for uranium conversion.

According to the report, experts have expressed doubts that facilities were used to make fuel for Syria’s suspected al-Kibar nuclear reactor, which was destroyed in an Israeli bombing in September 2007.

A later inspection by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had found traces of unnatural uranium at the site of the suspected reactor. Syria, however, maintains that the traces of uranium found were residue from missiles used to destroy the site by the Israelis.

The IAEA inspectors had collected samples from a suspected nuclear facility in June 2008 after the U.S. alleged that Syria had secretly built the nuclear reactor with North Korean help in the country’s remote eastern desert.

U.S. intelligence agencies claim the site resembled to Yongbyon reactor in North Korea and say that the facility could produce weapon-grade nuclear material if it was not destroyed in the Israeli air raid.

Syria rejected the U.S. allegations, saying that the building destroyed in the Israeli air strike was an unused military facility under construction. Damascus also insists that it is not pursuing a clandestine development program as alleged by Western countries.

The IAEA had said in an earlier report that the destroyed Syrian site had the characteristics of a nuclear reactor. The U.N. nuclear watchdog, however, did not rule out the possibility that the site was being used for non-nuclear purposes when it was destroyed in the bombing.

Although Syria had allowed IAEA inspectors to take samples from the site of the suspected nuclear reactor in 2008, it later blocked them from making follow-up visits to the site. The agency says that Syria is yet to answer some questions regarding the suspected nuclear facility.

Also, Damascus has since denied IAEA inspectors access to several buildings which it suspects to be associated with Syria’s secret nuclear program. Those buildings reportedly included the possible uranium conversion sites mentioned in the German newspaper report.

The IAEA refused to comment on the report but it had earlier made attempts to identify the source of fuel for the so-called al-Kibar nuclear reactor.

The latest developments come as the IAEA is preparing for a meeting of its governing board early next month to discuss several issues, including Syria’s continued refusal to allow its inspectors access to suspected nuclear facilities.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com

 

Kyrgyz Intelligence Agency Catch Another Member of Radical Islamist Group

Kyrgyz intelligence agency detain a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir

25/02-2011 09:09, Bishkek – 24.kg news agency

Kyrgyz intelligence agency reported about detainment of another active member of extremist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir.

According to Kyrgyzstan’s State National Security Committee (GKNB), during the operative investigation activities on reveal and suppression of the activities of outlawed religious extremist organizations Hizb ut-Tahrir, one of the active members of the organization was detained in one of the residential areas of Bishkek city.

“Large amount of extremist literature was found and confiscated during the house-check,” reported in the GKNB.

Criminal proceedings were instituted on the elements of crime under Article 299 (Inciting national, racial, religious or inter-regional hostility) of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic. The detainee was also charged with “organized activity towards inciting national, racial, religious or inter-regional hatred” and “possession, transportation and shipment of extremist materials for distribution or their manufacturing and distribution, as well as the deliberate use of symbols or paraphernalia of extremist organizations.”

OSS-Declassified–Simple Sabotage Field Manual

[“Citizen-Sabateur” equals “terrorist-lite,” one step above the “Gladio” type of terrorist being implanted all over Europe and Asia after WWII.  The frank discussions within this field manual on the science of anarchy are chilling in their implications, especially after being honed in secret for sixty years or more.]

OSS-Declassified–Simple Sabotage Field Manual

(excerpt below)

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Gates on Libya: Not Making Sense

[Either Robert Gates is up to his usual spy doublespeak here, or CIA/military “mindfuck” agents are close to losing control of all their boiling cauldrons of treachery in the Middle East and Africa. (There really is no better way to describe the jobs of professional mind-twisters, or “mind-rapers” than this new word.)  In their wildest dreams they could not have imagined the ease with which the revolution has spread across Northern Africa.  In their worst nightmares, they should have foreseen what is about to happen in American-controlled countries like Iraq (and believe it or not, possibly even in Israel itself).

America’s puppets may be about to have their strings cut.  Gates knows.  He has been a CIA insider since American foreign policy first went off track and began to employ mercenaries and “Islamist” militants to do our dirty work for us.  At some point, it becomes necessary for the American side to disengage from this dirty war, especially if Islamist allies are exposed.  If the Iraq provisional govt. of Iraq falls, then the files in govt. offices that stretch all the way back to Iraq’s early days, will be laid bare.  If that really happens, then everyone will forget all about “Wikileaks.”

America’s intelligence war is about to blow-up in our faces.]

Gates on Libya: Not Making Sense

BY J.E. DYER
I had a hard time getting past the first sentence of this:

Defense secretary Robert Gates says the United States has not had discussions with its NATO partners about how to handle the unfolding crisis in Libya, and he believes that the United States could not quickly enforce a no-fly zone in the country to keep military jets from shooting on the citizens they’re meant to protect.

Regarding the second clause of the sentence, I would say there are valid and understandable considerations, even if I would have put the matter in different terms.  More on that in a moment.

The first part of the statement cannot be accounted for in any positive way.  Libya sits 300-some miles across the water from NATO member Italy, which is already scrambling to deal with a massive influx of refugees from North Africa.  The rapidly failing state keeps ejecting random military weapon systems – pilots defecting with Mirage F-1 fighters, at least one warship – while its insane dictator, along with bombing his own people, is threatening to destroy the Libyan oilfields, whose output makes the nation OPEC’s tenth largest producer.  Crude futures have been climbing for days.  Egypt has now moved troops to her border with Libya.

Moreover, the alarming fact is that we have even less of an idea what might happen in Libya if Qaddafi is killed – or otherwise relieved of his duties – than we have of what the future holds for neighboring Tunisia and Egypt.  This is the very definition of a NATO security issue.

And yet we haven’t talked to NATO about how to respond to this situation?  Seriously?  It’s not like we don’t have constant contact with our NATO allies through the NATO Council in Belgium and multiple allied commands. I’m not sure I see how we could avoid talking to NATO about Libya.  It would have been cost-free for Secretary Gates to say we had done so, even if he had no specific conclusions or plans to report.  It simply makes no sense to convey to a group of opinion writers the truly bizarre message that there has been no consultation.

At any rate, regarding the second clause of the sentence, it’s true that establishing a no-fly zone (NFZ) would not be as easy as it sounds.  For one thing, it’s not clear that Italy would agree to host the air forces that would be required.  Italy – Libya’s last colonial master and closest European partner – has been cagey about condemning Qaddafi.  Italy has a key undersea natural gas line with Libya, and hasn’t wanted to provoke any action against it.  We could waste time deploring Italy for this, but it’s a fact on the ground, and could be an obstacle to setting up a no-fly zone.

Gates is right that the speed with which events are moving militates against comprehensive planning.  By the time we got an NFZ set up, we might not need it anymore.  I have thought the same thing in the last couple of days, as I imagine most people with experience of military air operations have.

That said, however, it wouldn’t have taken as long to set up an NFZ as Gates’ words imply.  NATO Europe is stuffed full of fighter and strike-fighter aircraft, and absolutely crawling with command and control centers.  The level of military activity Qaddafi could mount is overkill against unarmed civilians, but would hardly put a dent in a NATO force, however hastily assembled.  The French carrier Charles de Gaulle, with its air wing, is back from its deployment to the Indian Ocean; the USSEnterprise (CVN-65), with its four squadrons of strike-fighters, is in the Horn of Africa area and could have been back in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Libya, by now.  One or two aircraft carriers could not sustain a 24-hour NFZ presence for more than a couple of days, but NATO could have scrambled its more numerous land-based air forces as well.  If Italy declined to allow the use of its airfields, France, Greece, and even Tunisia might well have been more cooperative.  NATO could arrange for in-air refueling.

The point is not that we should have established an NFZ, it’s that we could have.  The deficit here is not in what NATO forces could have been assigned or assembled to do.  That much is a simple, unarguable fact.  The deficit appears to be in what the US leadership has considered appropriate or even thinkable.  I would understand if Gates had said, “We’ve looked at a no-fly zone, but it was becoming clear that by the time we got one in place, the situation would probably have changed again.  Our goal is to stay ahead of the problem.”

But he didn’t.  What he said instead was that we hadn’t discussed handling Libya with our NATO allies at all.  Nothing about that makes sense.

J.E. Dyer blogs at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions” and as The Optimistic Conservative.  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.

On Bullshit–Harry G. Frankfurt

On Bullshit

Harry G. Frankfurt

 

This groundbreaking work explores the philosophical meanings of bullshit, why there is so much around and how it differs from other sorts of untruths.

Frankfurt argues that bullshitting is not the same thing as lying, but both are an abuse of the truth. In his words,

“It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”

NATO calls emergency council meeting on Finishing-Off “Col. Brother”

[Since Libya is the jackpot in N. Africa and Col. Qaddafi is the “joker,” NATO calls emergency meeting.  Ideas being leaked to the press so far involve making Libya into a “no fly zone,” or launching selective air strikes, to tip the balance in the people’s favor.  The US military has been wanting to remove “Col. Brother” for so long that they must have practiced both solutions many times in the past.]

NATO calls emergency council meeting on Libya

BUDAPEST Feb 25 (Reuters) – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he had called an emergency NATO council meeting for Friday afternoon to discuss the situation in Libya.”I have convened an emergency meeting in the NATO council this afternoon to consult on this fast-moving situation. So I will return to Brussels in a few hours,” he told Reuters during a visit to Budapest on Friday. 

“Before I do so, I will meet with EU defence ministers and discuss with them how we in a pragmatic way can help those in need and limit the consequences of these events.”

He said priority must be given to evacuation and possibly humanitarian assistance.

“It’s a bit premature to go into specifics but it’s well-known that NATO has assets that can be used in a situation like this and NATO can act as an enabler and coordinator if and when individual member states want to take action,” he said.

On Thursday, the United States said it was looking at all options, including enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, and did not rule out military action in its response to the crisis.

British Defence Secretary Liam Fox said Britain had been discussing with the NATO leadership how better to coordinate efforts to get people from a number of different countries out of Libya over the next few days.

In Brussels, senior officials said the European Union was weighing a range of options to evacuate 5,000-6,000 EU citizens still in Libya, many of them oil company employees, and said one possibility was a military humanitarian intervention force. (Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; editing by Andrew Roche)

Slamming the Door Shut On “Workers’ Rights”

Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.

By PAUL KRUGMAN

Here’s a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn’t Cairo after all. Maybe it’s Baghdad — specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Paul Krugman

As many readers may recall, the results were spectacular — in a bad way. Instead of focusing on the urgent problems of a shattered economy and society, which would soon descend into a murderous civil war, those Bush appointees were obsessed with imposing a conservative ideological vision. Indeed, with looters still prowling the streets of Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, the American viceroy, told a Washington Post reporter that one of his top priorities was to “corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises” — Mr. Bremer’s words, not the reporter’s — and to “wean people from the idea the state supports everything.”

The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.

In recent weeks, Madison has been the scene of large demonstrations against the governor’s budget bill, which would deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers. Gov. Scott Walker claims that he needs to pass his bill to deal with the state’s fiscal problems. But his attack on unions has nothing to do with the budget. In fact, those unions have already indicated their willingness to make substantial financial concessions — an offer the governor has rejected.

What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab — an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.

For example, the bill includes language that would allow officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process.

And then there’s this: “Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).”

What’s that about? The state of Wisconsin owns a number of plants supplying heating, cooling, and electricity to state-run facilities (like the University of Wisconsin). The language in the budget bill would, in effect, let the governor privatize any or all of these facilities at whim. Not only that, he could sell them, without taking bids, to anyone he chooses. And note that any such sale would, by definition, be “considered to be in the public interest.”

If this sounds to you like a perfect setup for cronyism and profiteering — remember those missing billions in Iraq? — you’re not alone. Indeed, there are enough suspicious minds out there that Koch Industries, owned by the billionaire brothers who are playing such a large role in Mr. Walker’s anti-union push, felt compelled to issue a denial that it’s interested in purchasing any of those power plants. Are you reassured?

The good news from Wisconsin is that the upsurge of public outrage — aided by the maneuvering of Democrats in the State Senate, who absented themselves to deny Republicans a quorum — has slowed the bum’s rush. If Mr. Walker’s plan was to push his bill through before anyone had a chance to realize his true goals, that plan has been foiled. And events in Wisconsin may have given pause to other Republican governors, who seem to be backing off similar moves.

But don’t expect either Mr. Walker or the rest of his party to change those goals. Union-busting and privatization remain G.O.P. priorities, and the party will continue its efforts to smuggle those priorities through in the name of balanced budgets.

The Fuse for Synthetic Revolution Is Lit In Iraq–Whether Obama Likes It or Not

Authorities Obliged to Protect Peaceful Protests

Promises by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to allow protests are meaningless when we see vicious attacks like the one on February 21. Iraqi authorities should hold police who allowed this attack to happen accountable.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – Iraqi police allowed dozens of assailants to beat and stab peaceful protesters in Baghdad on February 21, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. Security forces have an obligation to protect the right to assemble peacefully and to use only the minimum necessary force to protect lives if violence erupts, Human Rights Watch said.

In the early hours of February 21 dozens of men, some wielding knives and clubs, attacked about 50 protesters who had set up two tents in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. The assailants stabbed and beat at least 20 of the protesters who were intending to camp in the square until February 25, when groups have called for national protests similar to the “Day of Anger” in Egypt. The attack came directly after the police had withdrawn from the square, and witnesses suggested the assailants were in discussion with the police before they attacked.

“Promises by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to allow protests are meaningless when we see vicious attacks like the one on February 21,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Iraqi authorities should hold police who allowed this attack to happen accountable.”

Scores of demonstrations have taken place across the country since early February, mainly focused on the chronic lack of basic services and perceived widespread corruption. Since February 16, security forces have killed at least five protesters and injured more than 100 at demonstrations throughout Iraq. Armed men have also targeted opposition groups and media. In Sulaimaniya, assailants set fire to multiple buildings of the opposition Goran (“change”) party and the headquarters of a newly established TV and radio station that broadcast video of the protests.

Protests in Baghdad

Shortly after 1 a.m. on February 21 police vehicles on duty at Tahrir Square, in the center of Baghdad, suddenly vacated the area, a dozen witnesses told Human Rights Watch. Immediately afterward, four military Humvees parked on a distant side of the square, while several black SUVs pulled up and parked on an adjoining street. A standing curfew bans all civilian vehicular traffic on Baghdad’s roads between midnight and 5 a.m., and vehicles in the Tahrir Square area encounter numerous military checkpoints and patrols.

After the vehicles arrived, streetlights surrounding the square went out, and the people in the Humvees turned on floodlights attached to their vehicles. One protest organizer told Human Right Watch that dozens of men wearing civilian shirts, but all with similar dark-colored military-style pants, quickly approached the sleeping protesters, many brandishing knives, batons, and stun-guns, and fanned out around the tents. One asked the organizer if he had a permit for the demonstration, and began to interrogate him.

Another witness said a surprised policeman from a nearby checkpoint approached the square with his gun drawn, but when one of the armed men whispered something in his ear, the policeman quickly nodded and withdrew. “At that point, one of them gave a signal, and they all started beating us and running into the tents,” said the witness, who asked not to be named for safety reasons. “I heard people screaming in pain, so I yelled out for everyone to run.”

A protester bearing stab wounds, now in hiding, told Human Rights Watch: “I woke up with the pain of the knife sticking in me and everyone yelling. The man who stabbed me told me that I wasn’t supposed to be in the square, and that I had to leave, or he would stab me again. He then hit me in the head. I got up as best as I could, and other protesters helped me run away.”

Another protester with large bruises on his back and a long laceration on the side of his left leg told Human Rights Watch, “They were punching and stabbing us as we were trying to run from them.”

Other witnesses gave consistent accounts of the attack. They said they believed the violence was meant to frighten and disperse the protesters rather than to kill them, although they were all shocked at the brutality of the attack. Various protesters who had encountered police at checkpoints while fleeing into the alleys of the adjoining Betuine neighborhood said the police told them they “were not allowed to intervene.” One protester said a policeman told him they were powerless because the assailants were “from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.”

Human Rights Watch observed lacerations or bruises on seven protesters. Witnesses’ testimony was also consistent with video viewed by Human Rights Watch, shot at the scene in the hours before the attack, and then of wounded protesters the next morning.

At earlier protests in Tahrir Square, Human Rights Watch observed Iraqi security forces intimidating peaceful protesters by filming them and threatening to arrest them, and in one instance saying, “Now, we know who you are.” On February 11 and 13 security forces filmed the faces of participants who were chanting peacefully and told them they would be arrested. On February 23 Human Rights Watch also saw security forces preventing Iraqi journalists from filming or taking photos of the protests.

Protests in Kurdistan

Since February 17, clashes with security forces have killed three demonstrators in Sulaimaniya. Thousands of demonstrators have continued their protest against alleged corruption and the political dominance of the two ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

A 25-year-old resident of Sulaimaniya told Human Rights Watch that he visited the protest area in that city out of curiosity on February 17. Without warning, he said, KDP guards began firing into the crowd from the building’s roof. “I heard gunshots and started to run when a bullet hit the back of my right shoulder,” he said, adding that he spent three days in the hospital.

A protester who took part in the February 17 demonstration in Sulaimaniya told Human Rights Watch: “We threw some stones at the KDP office, but then they actually opened fire against us. I have never seen such scenes here since the end of the violent war between the KDP and PUK” in the 1990s.

Also on February 17 assailants ransacked or torched offices of the opposition Goran party in the Kurdistan Regional Government-administered cities of Erbil, Dohuk, and Soran. On the same day, Hawlati, an independent bi-weekly newspaper, evacuated its offices after receiving threats from uniformed security forces stationed at a nearby KDP office. On February 19 armed men stormed the headquarters of Nalia Television in Sulaimaniya, shooting up broadcasting equipment, wounding a guard, and burning the building down, according to staff of the station. Nalia Television had begun its first broadcast two days earlier with footage of the protests.

In a February 17 press statement, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani, condemned the protesters’ behavior, but not that of the security forces who shot at them. At a news conference the following day, Fazil Mirani, head of the KDP politburo, blamed security forces for not protecting his party’s offices from the protesters’ rock-throwing. “Disrespecting our offices comes with a heavy price, and we will do whatever we can to cut the hands of those who are aggressive toward us.” he said.

“The reaction of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s officials to the protester violence is deplorable,” Stork said. “Instead of threatening protesters, officials need to rein in their security forces to prevent further violence.”

Upcoming Protest

Numerous internet groups have urged Iraqis to take to the streets on February 25, one month after a similar “Day of Anger” in Egypt that ultimately led to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak from the presidency.

On June 25, 2010, in response to thousands of Iraqis who took to the streets to protest a chronic lack of government services, the interior ministry issued regulations with onerous provisions that effectively impeded Iraqis from organizing lawful protests. The regulations required organizers to get “written approval of both the minister of interior and the provincial governor” before submitting an application to the relevant police department, not less than 72 hours before a planned event.

Iraq’s constitution guarantees “freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration.”As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iraq is obligated to protect the rights to life and security of the person, and the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. Iraq should also abide by the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, which state that lethal force may only be used when strictly unavoidable to protect life, and must be exercised with restraint and proportionality. The principles also require governments to “ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offense under their law.”

Human rights law on the right to life, including Article 6 of the ICCPR, requires an effective and transparent investigation when deaths may have been caused by state officials, leading to the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators of any crimes that took place.

A Tale of Three Nations: Freedom, Religion and the Rights of Women

A Tale of Three Nations: Freedom, Religion and the Rights of Women

William John Cox

Media With Conscience – February 24, 2011

As the youth-led Freedom Movement of 2011 spreads rapidly across the Middle East and around the world, one can only wonder what would be happening in Iraq today if the U.S. had not invaded eight years ago. What does the movement portend for the rights of women in other nations, such as Tunisia and in the United States?

The rights of women continue to deteriorate in Iraq under the U.S. installed Shiite government; their status is now threatened by Islamists in Tunisia, the most secular of Arab nations; and their personal liberties are under a full-scale assault in the United States by Christian fundamentalist politicians.

Iraq

Under the Ba’athist government led by Saddam Hussein, Iraqi women enjoyed greater freedomthan women in most other Arab nations and they played an active role in the political, economic and educational development of the nation.

The 1970 Constitution formally guaranteed equal rights to women and ensured their right to obtain an education, own property, vote and be elected to political offices. Iraq acceded to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1986.

At a cost of more than one trillion dollars, “Operation Iraqi Freedom” has slaughtered more than 100,000 Iraqis, including thousands of children, and taken away the existing rights of women.

President Bush often bragged that “Iraq is free of rape rooms;” however, his illegal invasion of Iraq not only exposed its women to rape by U.S. soldiers and mercenaries, but rape is “increasingly used as a weapon by warring tribal factions.”

The new Iraqi constitution adopted after the invasion requires that women hold 25% of the seats in the parliament; however, it also provides that no law can contradict the “established rulings of Islam.” Thus, the personal rights of women are subject to the interpretation of religious leaders, and they are being officially curtailed by the Shiite-controlled government.

Iraqi women must now submit to any male authority, including boys as young as 12 years old, and they are being attacked and murdered “for working, dressing inappropriately or attending university.” There are more than three million widows in Iraq today, and sex trafficking has become widespread, as there is no little or no opportunity for other employment.

Opposition to the corrupt and failed Iraqi government has led to recent freedom demonstrations by thousands of protesters in the cities of Sulaimaniya, Falluja, and Nassiriya Province, and Baghdad. These demonstrations are being suppressed by the Iraqi security forces using U.S. supplied weapons and intimidation tactics, including raids on the office of the Iraqi organization that monitors press freedom.

The U.S. mainstream media and the Obama Administration have been largely silent about the Iraqi demonstrations; however, fair-minded Americans, liberal and conservative alike, should conclude that, absent the invasion, the young people of Iraq would be in the forefront of the Freedom Movement of 2011.

Given other choices, thousands of human lives would not have been wasted; billions of dollars would have been better spent in the improvement, rather than the destruction of those lives; and the United States would enjoy greater respect for the freedoms it purports to support and defend.

Tunisia

The site of ancient Cartage and the breadbasket of the Roman Empire, Tunisiaobtained its independence from the “protection” of France in 1957. Habib Bourguiba, the leader of the independence movement and the Destourian Socialist Party, was elected president, and for the next 30 years he presided over a largely secular government.

Bourguiba was succeeded in 1987 by Zine Ben Ali, the minister of national security, who had been trained as a military officer in France and the United States. Receiving financial support from the United States, President Zine established a repressive police state and used police action again militant Islamic groups.

Relying upon a broad anti-terrorism law passed in 2003, President Zine supported the U.S. war on terrorism by making hundreds of arbitrary arrests and engaging in official torture. Zine increasingly controlled news, information, and the Internet, and he targeted journalists with harassment, violence and constant surveillance.

Originally founded upon socialist principles, modern Tunisia developed a large middle class and encouraged the liberation of women. One-third of its university professors are women, as are 58% of its university students, more than one-fourth of its judges, and 23% of its members of parliament.

Even since its independence, Tunisia has promulgated the most progressive policies on women found in Arab nations. The Code of Personal Status adopted in 1956 abolished polygamy, prohibited husbands from unilaterally obtaining divorces, gave their wives greater custody rights and allowed them to vote. Tunisian women can legally obtain government-subsidized abortions without their husband’s permission.

The liberal nationalists who established the government believed that the improvement of women’s rights was an integral part of creating a modern country free from “anachronistic traditions and backward mentalities.”

Tunisia signed the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1980 and ratified it in 1985.

Educated women with a mature appreciation of their civil rights were at the vanguard of those marching for freedom in Tunisia; however, they are also the ones with the most to lose, if religious fundamentalists come to power and those freedoms are erased. Concerned protestors carried signs that read, “Politics ruins religion and religion ruins politics.”

Security forces have already been deployed to protect legally-sanctioned brothels from a mob of religious zealots, and there is concern about the rights of women who wear western dress, including bikinis on beaches. The unsettled conditions have caused many women to be afraid to walk outside alone at night.

The leadership of Ennahdha, a political movement allied with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, has stated it is opposed to the imposition of Islamic law in Tunisia. However, women have witnessed the loss of progressive women’s rights in three other Islamic nations, including Iran after the fall of the Shah, Afghanistan with the rise of the Taliban, and Iraq following the U.S. invasion.

To a certain extent, Tunisian women were protected from Islamic extremists by the repressive Zine government; however, for now, they can only wait and see how the Jasmine Revolution evolves.

United States

Ronald Reagan once said that “America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere;” however, the reality is that the United States has come to be controlled by a military-industrial oligarchy to which both major political parties are subservient.

Instead of a beacon of liberty, the United States supports the suppression of freedom in other countries and increasingly denies the constitutional rights of its own citizens, particularly women.

The United States Constitution was established by the “We the People;” however, neither it nor the subsequent Bill of Rights embraced slaves or women within its protection.

The Civil War resulted in the 13th and 14th Amendments that abolished slavery and prohibited the states from abridging the rights of their “citizens,” and the 15th Amendment that guaranteed the right to vote to former slaves.

Efforts to guarantee the right of women suffrage was blocked by Southern conservatives in the U.S. Senate, forcing women activists to secure the amendment of every single state constitutionAfter almost 800 separate political campaigns, women received the universal right to vote in 1920 with passage of the 19th Amendment.

Today, 90 years later, the U.S. Congress only seats 17 women senators (17%) and 72 women representatives (16.6%). These percentages are far less than the number of women legislators in either Iraq or Tunisia.

In 1980, former President Jimmy Carter signed the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; however the treaty has never been brought before the full Senate for a vote Indeed, the U.S. is one of only seven countries which has not ratified the treaty. (The other nations are Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Palau, Nauru and Tonga.) Although President Obama proclaimed the treaty to be a priority in May 2009, he has made no visible effort to secure its ratification by the Senate.

After gaining the right to vote, many women activists continued to believe the U.S. Constitution needed to be amended to ensure freedom from legal sex discrimination against women and to ensure the equal application of the Constitution to all citizens.

Commencing in the early 1940s, both Democrats and Republicans added support for an Equal Rights Amendment to their platforms; however, it was not until 1972 that pressure from organized labor and other mainstream groups caused Congress to pass ERA legislation.

As proposed to the states for ratification, the 27th Amendment simply says, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

The usual seven-year deadline for ratification was not included in the words of the ERA itself, but in its proposing clause. Congress subsequently extended the deadline to 1982, but thus far only 35 of the required 38 states have ratified it.

The ERA continues to be reintroduced in each Congressional session, and a coalition of women’s organizations are now working on a “3-state strategy,” in which, because of the ambiguity in the deadline language, ratification by only three of the remaining 15 states could add the amendment to the Constitution.

During the 1970s, one of the main objections to the ERA by conservative religious and political organizations was that women would no longer be exempt from compulsory military service and combat duty; however women are now fighting in almost every element of the “War on Terrorism,” except “close combat” troops including infantry, armor and special forces. The CongressionalMilitary Leadership Diversity Commission is currently preparing to recommend that even these restrictions be lifted.

Women are flying strike fighters and helicopter gun ships, they are “manning” machine guns and mortars, and they are protecting convoys being attacked by roadside bombs. More than 134 women soldiers have been killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq and more than 721 have been wounded in action.

Perhaps the most grievous injuries suffered by women in the military is the widespread incident of rape and murder by fellow soldiers. The Department of Defense (DoD) reports that one in three women in the military will be sexually assaulted or raped by men in the military. Of these, an alarming number are dying after being raped.

“8 women soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas (six from the Fourth Infantry Division and two from the 1st Armored Cavalry Division) have died of ‘non-combat related injuries’ on the same base, Camp Taji, and three were raped before their deaths. Two were raped immediately before their deaths and another raped prior to arriving in Iraq. Two military women have died of suspicious ‘non-combat related injuries’ on Balad base, and one was raped before she died. Four deaths have been classified as ‘suicides.'” (Ann Wright – Common Dreams)

The rate of sexual assault and rape in the military is double the civilian rate. Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.) has testified that, “Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.”

Harman’s testimony is confirmed by the DoD, which admits that 80% of all rapes in the military are not reported because the victims fear ostracism, punishment and loss of careers. Half of all reported cases receive no official action, a third are dismissed, and only 8% are referred to Court Martial. Even then, the majority of those ultimately convicted receive only mild punishments.

It is often heard in the United States that “Muslim men abuse their women;” however In 2006,almost a quarter of a million American women reported to the police that they had been raped or sexually assaulted. Women suffer 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapesannually in the U.S., and one-third of the more than 1,100 women who are murdered each year arekilled by an intimate partner.

In spite of these gruesome statistics, legislative efforts are directed toward the further punishment and humiliation of women and are more driven by religious fundamentalism than logic. Women are being denied basic contraception and are being punished for becoming pregnant:

●A South Dakota legislature bill would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include the killing of abortion providers, and the Ohio legislature is entertaining a law which would make it illegal for women to seek abortions as soon as 18 days after conception.

●Although Planned Parenthood does not currently spend any federal money on abortion services, House Republicans just voted to deny any funding to the organization, cutting money for contraceptives, HIV test, cancer screening and reproductive health services.

●A Republican-sponsored bill in the House of Representatives would deny any federal funding for abortions except in cases of “forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.” Under the law, a 12-year-old girl coerced and impregnated by her step-father or a young woman subjected to date rape would be forced to bear the child.

●The Health Care Reform act contains provisions that are likely to cause the elimination of all private as well as public insurance coverage for abortions, and President Obama issued an executive order supporting the anti-choice provisions.

Lady Liberty Weeps

Twelve-year-old boys can tell an adult woman what to do in Iraq, while 12-year-old girls in the United States are forced to suffer rape and sexual assault and to endure the pregnancies that result.

The evils of the Iraqi rape rooms that Bush boasted about eliminating were merely transferred to the actions of warring soldiers, both U.S. and tribal, and by the rape and murder of innocent civilian women and fellow female soldiers.

The United States is already a nation which requires women to work outside the home in order to support an adequate standard of living for a family, without providing safe and nurturing daycare for their young children.

Now, as sexual education for women regarding their bodies and reproductive health and choices is eliminated, punishment for becoming pregnant is increased by making abortion illegal and shameful, and by eliminating funding for organizations that provide contraceptives and health care for pregnant women.

The U.S. uses images of the plight of women in the Middle East to justify its illegal wars of aggression, while figuratively stoning its own women and cutting off their noses by curtailing theirrights to determine the fate of their own bodies and by failing to protect them from sexual assaults.

Once again, the banner of Christianity leads another crusade – this time against women and children in the United States. For women subjected to medieval practices, there is little difference between Christian and Muslim fundamentalism.

As the tsunami of freedom spreads around the world and upon American shores, women and girls can only hope and pray that it can deliver them from the repression and violence that victimizes them in their Citadel of Freedom.

William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer, author and political activist. His efforts to promote a peaceful political evolution can be found at VotersEvolt.com, his writings are collected at WilliamJohnCox.com and he can be contacted at u2cox@msn.com.

Photo Credit: supportamericansoldiers.com

Another Pakistani Drone Strike Within Sight of Durand Line

[Another bluff strike, carried-out to blunt criticism of Davis as Predator-killer key.]

Suspected US Drone Strikes Kill At Least 7 In Pakistan

(RTTNews) – As many as seven people have been killed in two attacks by US pilotless aircraft in Pakistan’s volatile north-western tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, reports said on Thursday.

An unnamed security official told media that three missiles were fired at a residential compound in Dattakhel Mohammedkhel area near Miranshah in North Waziristan. Five people died in the attack which completely demolished the house.

However, he said the identity of those killed could not be ascertained as the site of the incident was agog with preparations for burying the dead.

According to another official, who too requested anonymity, two people were killed when a missile strike from another drone hit a vehicle proceeding towards the house that was targeted earlier.

The US had lately suspended attacks by drone aircraft in order to contain a possible backlash following the killing of two men in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore by an American embassy staff. The embassy official, later identified as Raymond Davis, had claimed that he had acted in self-defense as the two men had tried to rob him.

Despite repeated pleas from the US for a military push in the militant stronghold of North Waziristan, the Pakistani army has pleaded its inability to launch a full-fledged operation citing lack of sufficient manpower.

Mean Regressive Politics

Mean Regression

The Tea Party is turning states into little Ayn Rand laboratories.

The last few months of 2010 have been illuminating when it comes to the priorities of the Republican Party. By jumping at the Obama-McConnell tax deal, Republicans underscored the fact that protecting the marginal tax rates of high earners—not reducing the federal deficit, and not even denying Obama legislative success—is their party’s primary focus at the federal level. It says something that most conservatives who opposed the tax deal did so on the grounds that it was not permanent, or that it did not completely eliminate the estate tax. As ever, to paraphrase Dick Cheney, Republicans seem to think deficits don’t matter.

Yet that’s not the half of it. For a true litmus test of the lengths Republicans will and will not go to in order defend the incomes of the very rich, you have to look to the states, where budget deficits are generally not allowed. There, a new crop of Republican governors and lawmakers—huge numbers of which rode to power on the Tea Party wave—are focused not just on preserving upper-income tax cuts, but actually cutting taxes for the rich while slashing services and raising taxes on the poor and middle class. All this is happening at a crucial time, since the most dire fiscal conditions in decades are about get vastly worse, as federal stimulus dollars run out.

One of the GOP’s biggest 2010 rock stars, Governor-elect Nikki Haley of South Carolina, is an especially instructive example: During the campaign, Haley came out for abolition of the state corporate-income tax. Facing an enormous and chronic state budget shortfall, she breezily suggested that her tax cut might be paid for by eliminating a recently enacted state sales-tax exemption for food purchases, because the exemption “didn’t create one job.” This statement, which seems to imply that eating is an economically useless activity, takes conservative disdain for consumption as a growth generator to new heights. Instead of trying to keep food on South Carolinians’ tables and consumer demand high, Haley is betting on a tax code tilted to “producers” and “job creators.” As Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey recently explained:

We are a right-to-work state. We keep the unions out. And if we become a no-­corporate-income-tax state as well, we will become a magnet for businesses to come to South Carolina. And that means more jobs for our citizens, more con­tracts for our small busi­nesses, and more growth for our economy.

It’s hard to imagine a more enthusiastic endorsement of the old moonlight-and-magnolias approach of making lower business costs—including taxes, wages, and all those inconvenient regulations aimed at protecting the workforce or the environment—the sole strategy for economic development, at the expense of other public and private goods.

A similar thing is happening next door in Georgia, where outgoing Republican Governor Sonny Perdue created a heavily loaded fiscal commission tasked with addressing the state’s massive budget gap. (Incoming Republican Governor Nathan Deal is expected to embrace the report.) It suggests “redirecting the state’s taxing emphasis to what people buy and the services they use rather than the income they earn,” meaning adoption of a higher sales tax, paired with corporate and upper-income tax cuts and cuts in government services, and speaks somewhat dismissively of “advocates for the poor and elderly [who] stress that those groups spend a higher percentage of their income on goods and services that would be taxed under the Republicans’ scenario.” And Florida’s state budget situation may be even worse than South Carolina’s and Georgia’s—education costs for Haitian refugees are a major new problem—but Governor-elect Rick Scott is committed to both the elimination of corporate taxes and major reductions in property taxes that support local schools.

This trend is by no means confined to the South. Newly elected Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is insistently pushing for reductions in business taxes, which would double the state’s current $1.5 billion budget shortfall. In Pennsylvania, Governor-elect Tom Corbett is determined to cut corporate taxes by nearly one-third while increasing business deductions. Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker, who made headlines by turning down $810 million in federal money for a high-speed rail connection between Milwaukee and Madison, has pledged to cut corporate taxes for smaller employers, and also wants to give a state tax break that will encourage people to snap up those hardy conservative pet rocks, health savings accounts. Walker is facing a two-year, $3 billion budget shortfall. Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich, who, like Walker, turned down federal high-speed rail money, is pushing to restore a previously delayed state income-tax cut, even though his two-year budget shortfall is about $8 billion.

This is what Americans got when they voted for the Tea Party. When the last comparable wave of state-level Republicans took office, in 1994, it happened to coincide with the beginning of the long boom of the ‘90s, which allowed GOP officeholders to make popular tax cuts without reducing popular spending. Not this time: Across the country, Republicans are assuring that budget adjustments will be real and painful for everybody but the rich.

The Tax Revolt That Failed–September 1, 1997

The Tax Revolt That Failed

William A. Niskanen

September 1, 1997

The tax revolt that began 20 years ago has so far been a failure. For all the sound and fury over tax cuts, the average rates of federal, state, and local taxation are slightly higher than 20 years ago. True, top marginal rates have fallen steeply, even after accounting for the significant increases of the Bush and Clinton years. But otherwise the modern tax-limitation movement has achieved few of its objectives. This failure continues with the modest and incoherent tax reductions included in the 1997 federal budget agreement.

The modern tax-limitation movement was born in late 1972 when Governor Ronald Reagan convened a small group, of which I was a member, at his Century Plaza office in Los Angeles. Reagan observed that, notwithstanding the recent landslide re-election of a Republican president, conventional political processes would be insufficient to restrain the growth of government spending. Indeed, even real spending in Reagan’s own state was growing at a record rate during his tenure as governor of California. He asked us to consider an unconventional measure–a constitutional amendment to limit the spending and taxing authority of the state government.

A committee of his advisers drafted a ballot initiative for a state constitutional amendment, called Proposition 1, to limit the spending and taxing authority of the state of California. The first political tests of these proposals were discouraging. Proposition 1 lost narrowly in 1973, and a similar amendment was defeated in Michigan in 1976. The first “supply-side” tax-cut proposal, offered as a substitute for President Carter’s fiscal stimulus proposal, was defeated in Congress in 1977.

The breakthrough for tax limitation came in 1978, when Tennessee passed a general spending and tax-limitation amendment. California voters then approved Proposition 13, an amendment that substantially reduced local property tax rates while also, unfortunately, centralizing school authority and financing. Soon thereafter, Michigan voters approved a general spending and tax-limitation amendment. In later years, similar amendments were approved in six other states.

Breakthroughs in federal fiscal policy also occurred in 1978. Congress approved a reduction in the capital-gains tax rate over the opposition of the Carter administration. The Senate also approved a measure that combined a 30 percent cut in income-tax rates with a general limit on federal spending; it withered under Carter’s veto threat. The annual report of Congress’s bipartisan Joint Economic Committee endorsed this new supply-side fiscal policy in both 1979 and 1980. In 1980, the Senate Finance Committee approved a tax measure very similar to that proposed by Reagan, then a presidential candidate. A bipartisan consensus for the tax cuts later proposed by President Reagan formed before he was even inaugurated.

The growing tax revolt led to the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA) of 1981, the first major reduction in federal tax rates since the Kennedy years. This legislation reduced federal income tax rates from a range of 14 to 70 percent to a range of 11 to 50 percent, indexed the personal exemption and tax brackets for inflation, and included a complex package of investment incentives.

Since 1981, however, Congress has enacted six major changes in federal tax policy, and here the record is mixed. Most of the investment incentives in ERTA were reversed in 1982, 1984, or 1986. The social-security legislation of 1983 accelerated a scheduled increase in payroll tax rates. The major tax-reform legislation in 1986 broadened the tax base, increased the personal exemption, and set two income-tax rates of 15 and 28 percent. After that, however, the pattern of rate reductions reversed. President George “no new taxes” Bush signed a 1990 tax bill that increased the top rate to 31 percent. And the Clinton tax legislation of 1993 increased the top income-tax rate to 39.6 percent and, by broadening the Medicare tax base to all earnings, increased the top rate on earnings to 42.5 percent.

All this legislative turmoil has made little difference to taxpayers. As Figure 1 illustrates, average tax rates as a percentage of net national output of goods and services have been remarkably stable since 1978. A much finer scale (Figure 2) is necessary to identify any significant trend or variation. Average federal tax rates have risen and fallen with little apparent trend; most of the variation has been due to changes in the employment rate and (before 1985) to the inflation rate. Contrary to the charge that the Reagan tax cuts eroded the federal revenue base, the average federal tax rate was slightly higher in 1989 than at a comparable stage of the business cycle in 1979.

The average state and local tax rates, in contrast, have been less variable but have increased slightly over this period. Overall, the average total tax rate has stayed essentially the same over this period, in part because the average federal tax revenues tend to move in inverse, cyclical relation to average state and local tax revenues.

The composition of taxes has also not changed very much. Figure 3 illustrates the average tax rates (also as a percentage of net national output) by major type of tax. Average individual income-tax rates are about the same as at the beginning of this period, although lower than the inflation-affected rates of the early 1980s. Average payroll-tax rates increased by more than 1 percentage point of national output by 1988 and have been roughly stable since then. The sum of all other types of taxes (on corporate income, sales, property, excises, and so on) has been a roughly stable share of national output over this period; some decline in the average corporate and property tax rates have been offset by an increase in the average sales tax rate.

The most important change in taxes during this period has been the structure of federal tax rates on labor income (Figure 4). The top marginal tax rate was sharply reduced by both the 1981 and 1986 tax laws, though it has increased by 14.5 percentage points since 1990. For lower-income workers subject to both the payroll tax and the individual income tax (but ineligible for the earned income tax credit), however, the effective marginal tax rate has risen by about 4 percentage points. For the five years from 1988 through 1992, the marginal federal tax rate on labor income was roughly flat for all brackets (except for a fairly small group of middle-income taxpayers subject to both the payroll tax and the 28 percent income tax rate). The tax revolt, in other words, did reduce substantially the progressivity of federal tax rates, but even this gain has been mostly offset in recent years.

Some of my friends suggest that the tax limitation movement has at least succeeded in stopping the growth of taxation, even if it hasn’t led to actual reductions. Maybe so, but that is a difficult hypothesis to test. Maybe the reduction in marginal tax rates makes the whole effort worthwhile, but again that is difficult to test because economic growth is also affected by a number of other conditions. In fact, productivity growth during this period, at least as conventionally measured, has been much lower than during the 1960s, so the economic advantage of lower marginal tax rates has been insufficient to offset other conditions that hurt productivity growth. But this analysis is complicated, because our conventional measure of output understates productivity growth.


The failure to reduce government spending relative to
national output is the primary reason for the
stability of average tax rates.


 

Four major lessons can be learned from the failure of the tax revolt over the past 20 years:

  • Tax cuts are unlikely to last unless they are matched by a reduction in government spending. The failure to reduce government spending relative to national output is the primary reason for the remarkable stability of average tax rates over the past 20 years. Any substantial tax cut should be made contingent on a roughly equal reduction in government spending.
  • Tax cuts do not necessarily lead to reduction in government spending. The issue of whether government spending rises or falls in response to a reduction in tax revenues has been debated and tested for this whole period without resolution. Nobel laureates Milton Friedman and James Buchanan are on opposite sides of this issue, and the empirical studies are also mixed. My own recent statistical estimates conclude that changes in real total federal spending between 1949 and 1996 were independent of prior changes in real total federal revenues. If tax cuts do not reduce government spending, of course, and end up increasing the budget deficit, they shift part of the burden of current spending to the next generation.
  • Tax cuts do not necessarily increase economic growth. The net economic effect of a tax cut depends on the type and rate of the tax, the type and level of spending that is reduced, and whether government subsequently alters its borrowing; the net effect may help or hinder growth. To increase economic growth, we should reduce those marginal tax rates that have the largest negative effect per dollar of tax revenue-combined with a reduction of spending for those programs with the lowest marginal value.
  • A narrow focus on tax cuts is not a sufficient economic program for the Republican party. Sooner or later, there is no way to avoid taking a position on what types of taxes to cut, what spending programs should be reduced, under what conditions a deficit may be appropriate, and the variety of other policies that affect the economy. A general bias in favor of tax cuts is commendable, but Republican politicians are often perceived as “Johnny One Note”s, proposing some type of tax cut to address almost any problem. The incoherent mishmash of the tax cuts in this year’s budget deal is only the latest example of this problem.

The trivial tax cuts in the 1997 bipartisan budget agreement make it clear that the tax revolt has run out of steam at the federal level. But the tax revolt is reviving in the states. Almost all of the state constitutions require that the operating budget be balanced, and a large number of states now have a constitutional or statutory tax limitation. Increasing concern about interstate competition, and prodding by the Cato Institute’s annual “fiscal report card,” has recently led some of the highest tax states such as New York to reduce their tax rates. Twenty-five governors have proposed net tax cuts for the coming fiscal year. If this momentum is to be sustained in the states, and returned to the federal government, it will have to be accompanied by serious efforts to reduce government spending.

William A. Niskanen is the chairman of the Cato Institute and a founder of the National Tax Limitation Committee. He was a member of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Reagan’s Ghost and the Wisconsin’s Manufactured Budget Crisis

[Walkers’ reliance on Reaganomics as the centerpiece of govt. has brought-on this crisis just as it has in every place where the damned doctrine was tried (SEE: The Tax Revolt That Failed).  Since it was a Reagan doctrine, it was first used in California, where he tax cut and privatized the state into bankruptcy.  His tax cuts for the rich brought a temporary jolt to upper incomes, but produced a hole in state revenues that had to be filled with general tax raises, which largely transferred much of the state tax burden to the middle and lower classes–and Californians have been paying for it ever since.

If Wisconsins allow Mr. Walker to decimate unions to pay for years of failed pro-business policies, then the rest of the country will quickly follow suit and the American union movement and all it stands for will forever be gone.

Scott Walker’s Manufactured Wisconsin Budget Crisis

By DJ Pangburn

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker cut $117 million in taxes for businesses, and then asks state labor unions to take the hit.  What is wrong here?

UPDATE: It has been pointed out to us that Walker’s $117 million in business tax breaks are not part of Wisconsin’s $137 million budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2011, ending June 30, 2011.  It will, however, create a budget shortfall for the 2011-2013 two-year budget.  The state is expected to overspend by $258 million, through a combination of healthcare expenditures for the poor, prisons and debts to Minnesota.  (If the $258 million is not spent, then Wisconsin will have a budget surplus of $121 million).  It is these expenditures that Walker is looking to cut, and is attempting to do so by unilaterally short-circuiting the state labor unions’ collective bargaining rights.

Wisconsin’s resident dictator has made a national name for himself by focusing Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled government on attacking state labor unions.  Walker could have avoided villain status by actually allowing the unions to collectively bargain and asking them to take some cuts while the economy is in the toilet—but he chose to go another way and make what amounts to an opening salvo in the 2012 elections.

The unions would probably have agreed to some cuts — reasonable cuts, that is.  Having been in Wisconsin recently, with family members on both sides of the debate (business owners, teachers), I can tell all of my readers from first-hand experience that non-union workers and business owners believe it is reasonable for unions to take some cuts.  And the union members aren’t so much pissed about the proposed cuts (they understand economics), as they are that Walker decided to unilaterally take away their collective bargaining rights.

Why join a union if it is powerless to negotiate?  The issues here are literally putting Wisconsin families at odds with one another.

What many Wisconsin residents don’t know, however, is that the budget deficit that so concerns Walker is self-inflicted.  It is manufactured, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by a pro-corporate philosophy that rewards wealthy businessmen and does virtually nothing for average workers.

Why haven’t Wisconsin’s voters been up in arms that Walker cut $117 million in taxes for businesses, which will create a budget shortfall in the next two fiscal years?  If this sort of information were blazing across Wisconsin television screens and on the cover of newspapers, it would certainly neutralize Walker’s political gamesmanship.

Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau (the equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO) predicted a budget surplus (see update above).  And not only does he remain silent about his actions with the business tax cuts, he has the audacity to use it as a means of neutralizing unions on behalf of business owners.

Walker might have scored some points with Wisconsin voters if he had publicly stated, “I gave tax cuts to businesses in an effort to stimulate the economy,” and then took aim at wasteful government spending elsewhere, while bringing the unions to the table to negotiate pensions and healthcare.  He could have brought the Democrats into the process, and democracy could have served its intended purpose.

But he hijacked the entire process, sending Wisconsin’s Democratic Senators scattering to others states.

Walker’s actions amount to a pro-business, anti-union stance that cannot be chalked up to mere austerity measures. It is electoral gamesmanship—an opening chess move for the 2012 elections.

Everyone would like to see businesses do well and for workers to benefit from a healthy economy—but not by the dismantling of unions, which, though they have their problems like any large organization, do serve a purpose: allowing them to check their employers and guard against the sort of tyranny that Walker has embraced.

Pakistan’s intelligence ready to split with CIA

Pakistan’s intelligence ready to split with CIA

(AP)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s ISI spy agency is ready to split with the CIA because of its frustration over what it calls heavy-handed pressure and its anger over what it believes is a covert U.S. operation involving hundreds of contract spies, according to an internal document obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with U.S. and Pakistani officials.

Such a move could seriously damage the U.S war effort in Afghanistan, limit a program targeting al-Qaida insurgents along the Pakistan frontier, and restrict Washington’s access to information in the nuclear-armed country.

According to a statement drafted by the ISI, supported by interviews with officials, an already-fragile relationship between the two agencies collapsed following the shooting death of two Pakistanis by Raymond Davis, a U.S. contracted spy who is in jail in Pakistan facing possible multiple murder charges.

“Post-incident conduct of the CIA has virtually put the partnership into question,” said a media statement prepared by the ISI but never released. A copy was obtained this week by the AP.

The statement accused the CIA of using pressure tactics to free Davis.

“It is hard to predict if the relationship will ever reach the level at which it was prior to the Davis episode,” the statement said. “The onus of not stalling this relationship between the two agencies now squarely lies on the CIA.”

The ISI fears there are hundreds of CIA contracted spies operating in Pakistan without the knowledge of either the Pakistan government or the intelligence agency, a senior Pakistani intelligence official told the AP in an interview. He spoke only on condition he not be identified on grounds that exposure would compromise his security.

Pakistan intelligence had no idea who Davis was or what he was doing when he was arrested, the official said, adding that there are concerns about “how many more Raymond Davises are out there.”

Davis was arrested Jan. 27 in Lahore after shooting two Pakistanis. A third Pakistani was killed by a U.S. Consulate vehicle coming to assist the American. Pakistan demanded the driver be handed over, but the AP has learned the two U.S. employees in the car now are in the United States.

Davis has pleaded self-defense, but the Lahore police upon completing their investigation said they would seek murder charges. The ISI official told the AP that Davis had contacts in the tribal regions and knew both the men he shot. He said the ISI is investigating the possibility that the encounter on the streets of Lahore stemmed from a meeting or from threats to Davis.

The CIA repeatedly has tried to penetrate the ISI and learn more about Pakistan’s nuclear program. The ISI has mounted its own operations to gather intelligence on the CIA’s counterterrorism activities

The ISI is now scouring thousands of visas issued to U.S. employees in Pakistan. The ISI official said Davis’ visa application contains bogus references and phone numbers. He said thousands of visas were issued to U.S. Embassy employees over the past five months following a government directive to the Pakistan Embassy in Washington to issue visas without the usual vetting by the interior ministry and the ISI. The same directive was issued to the Pakistan embassies in Britain and the United Arab Emirates, he said.

Within two days of receiving that directive, the Pakistani Embassy issued 400 visas and since then thousands more have been issued, said the ISI official. A Western diplomat in Pakistan agreed that a “floodgate” opened for U.S. Embassy employees requesting Pakistani visas.

The ISI official said his agency knows and works with “the bona fide CIA people in Pakistan” but is upset that the CIA would send others over behind its back. For now, he said, his agency is not talking with the CIA at any level, including the most senior.

To regain support and assistance, he said, “they have to start showing respect, not belittling us, not being belligerent to us, not treating us like we are their lackeys.”

NATO and U.S. operations in Afghanistan could be adversely effected by a split between the ISI and the CIA. Washington complains bitterly about Pakistan’s refusal to go after the Pakistani-headquartered Haqqani network, which is believed to be the strongest fighting force in Afghanistan and closely allied with al-Qaida.

The ISI official said Pakistan is fed up with Washington’s complaints, and he accused the CIA of planting stories about ISI assistance to the Haqqani network.

Relations between the CIA and ISI have been on a downward slide since the name of the U.S. agency’s station chief in Pakistan was leaked in a lawsuit accusing him of killing civilians in a drone strike.

Fearing for his safety, the CIA eventually pulled the station chief out of the country. ISI leaders balked at allegations that they outed the CIA top spy in their country. Former and current U..S. officials believe the station chief fell out of favor, but the Pakistanis say this is not the case

Those accusations and the naming of ISI chief Shujah Pasha in a civil lawsuit in the United States — filed by family members of victims of a November 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, by insurgents — started the downslide in relations, the ISI official said.

To help repair the crucial relationship, the CIA earlier this year dispatched a very senior officer to be the new station chief who was previously the head of the European Division, one of the most important jobs in the National Clandestine Service, the agency’s spy arm.

The spy agencies have overcome lows before. During President George W. Bush’s first term, the ISI became enraged after it shared intelligence with the United States, only to learn that the then-CIA station chief passed that information to the British. The incident caused a serious row, one that threatened the CIA’s relationship with the ISI and deepened the levels of distrust between the two sides. At the time Pakistan almost threw the CIA station chief out of the country.

CIA spokesman George Little said “issues” between the two agencies will be sorted out.

“The CIA works closely with our Pakistani counterparts on a wide range of security challenges, including our common fight against al-Qaida and its terrorist allies,” he said. “The agency’s ties to ISI have been strong over the years, and when there are issues to sort out, we work through them. That’s the sign of a healthy partnership,” he said.

Adam Goldman reported from Washington. Kathy Gannon is AP special regional correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Conspiracy Theories—Sunstein and Vermeule

Conspiracy Theories.pdf

Cass R. Sunstein*

Adrian Vermeule**

Abstract
Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories; they believe that powerful
people have worked together in order to withhold the truth about some important
practice or some terrible event. A recent example is the belief, widespread in some parts
of the world, that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out not by Al Qaeda, but by Israel or
the United States. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks,
including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant
challenges for policy and law. The first challenge is to understand the mechanisms by
which conspiracy theories prosper; the second challenge is to understand how such
theories might be undermined. Such theories typically spread as a result of identifiable
cognitive blunders, operating in conjunction with informational and reputational
influences. A distinctive feature of conspiracy theories is their self-sealing quality.
Conspiracy theorists are not likely to be persuaded by an attempt to dispel their theories;
they may even characterize that very attempt as further proof of the conspiracy. Because
those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a “crippled epistemology,” in
accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in
cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. Various policy dilemmas, such as the question
whether it is better for government to rebut conspiracy theories or to ignore them, are
explored in this light.”  (read HERE)

Leo Strauss and the Noble Lie: The Neo-Cons at War

“The global reach of American [mass] culture threatened to trivialize life and turn it into entertainment. This is as terrifying as a specter for Strauss as it was for Alexandre Kojève and Carl Schmidt… All three of them were convinced that
liberal economics …destroys politics; all three understood politics as a conflict between mutually hostile groups willing to fight each other to the death… In short, they all thought that man’s humanity depended on his willingness to rush naked into battle and headlong to his death. Only perpetual war can overturn the modern project with its emphasis on self- preservation and creature comforts. [Through war] Life can be politicized once more, and man’s humanity can be restored. This terrifying vision fits perfectly well with the desire for honor and glory that the neo-conservative gentlemen covet. The combination of religion and nationalism is the elixir that Strauss advocates as the way to turn natural, relaxed, hedonistic men into devout nationalists willing to fight and die for their God and country. I never imagined when I wrote my first book on Strauss that the unscrupulous elite that he celebrates would ever come so close to political power… But fear is the greatest ally of tyranny.”[vi]

Leo Strauss and the Noble Lie: The Neo-Cons at War

by
John G. Mason

A

s our Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once noted in an off the cuff remark, strategic truths sometimes need be defended by a “bodyguard of lies.”[i] Here Rumsfeld was thinking no doubt of Churchill’s famous quip defending Operation Fortitude, the mock invasion force aimed at Calais that drew the attention of Herr Hitler and his high command away from the Normandy beaches and hid the Allies’ operational plans in the summer of 1944. Rumsfeld’s critics in Washington and London, however, have in mind more the history of contemporary philosophy than the history of WWII.

In the past few months, the “bodyguard of lies” metaphor has been redeployed and used to characterize the Bush Administration’s raw manipulation of the CIA and other intelligence agencies for propaganda purposes and for the gross deceit that seems to characterize the rationales put forward for their Iraq policy. Of these there were many–WMDs, a suspected connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda, or the humanitarian rescue of the Iraqi people. They shifted depending on their intended audience and perhaps the day of the week. The “imminent threat” of WMD’s were emphasized for the British public while links to “Al Qaeda-like terrorism” were stressed at home – where the fiction that Saddam was directly involved in the September 2001 attacks has been firmly embraced by over two thirds of the American public. As Olivier Roy rightly noted last May, ”Washington’s stated war goals were not logically coherent, and its more intellectually compelling arguments were usually played down or denied.” [ii]

By the summer of 2003 – when the hunt for banned Iraqi WMD’s had gone nowhere and the Al Qaeda connection to Saddam had disappeared into thin air along with Saddam and Osama themselves, the cumulative disappointment shook the official rationale for the Anglo American invasion of Iraq. This placed Mr. Rumsfeld and the civilian policy makers in his Pentagon group on the defensive and set them up for the critics who had been waiting impatiently in the wings during the short but triumphal march to Baghdad. Secretary Rumsfeld’s credibility problems had now become Blair’s and Bush’s nightmare—provoking a transatlantic media storm that has touched the political establishments of the co-belligerents.

In London this affair has mainly raised questions about the honesty of Mr. Blair and his press and defense secretaries. In Washington it has done so as well, and the prevailing view of the Administration’s war policy among its critics is summed up succulently by the United for Peace slogan: “Bush lies—Americans die.” But this affair has also a raised a related and perhaps even more troubling question about the philosophical roots of the ideology that’s driving the “counter-revolution” in foreign and domestic policy within the Bush Administration. In short, the relation between strategic disinformation and political truth has been very much on our minds of late—along with some concerns about the lessons taught by Leo Strauss to the brilliant group of his former students who now occupy the seats of power in Washington

A Crisis of Intelligence

Last May that Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia gave the speech on the Senate floor that marked the moment when Bush’s Iraq policy began to seriously unravel. “The truth,” he said, “has a way of asserting itself despite all attempts to obscure it. Regarding the situation in Iraq, it appears to this Senator that the American people have been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation, in violation of long-standing international law, under false premises.” He concluded,  “We just fought a war that didn’t need to be fought.” And of course, Byrd assumes that “unnecessary wars” can never be just. But if proven this charge alone would constitute technical grounds for the impeachment of the President for “high crimes and misdemeanours”—as Senator Bob Graham of Florida pointed out last July.

The principal false premise in question was the claim that Saddam possessed an arsenal of chemical and biological terror weapons that was both operational in March and an immediate threat to the security of the United States, that is, an “imminent threat.” This is no small matter. This was the central claim made by Colin Powell and Jack Straw at the UN Security Council in order to justify the immediate use of military force against the Iraqi regime. This was the claim that justified the charges of disloyalty and unfaithfulness that put Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder and Hans Blix on trial in the American and the British media for three long months. And finally this was the claim that—along with the baseless assertion that Saddam was a full partner with bin Laden’s terrorists in the attacks on New York and Washington—finally persuaded a reluctant and divided American public to rally behind their President during the Second Iraq War. But since the invasion ended, as we all know, these claims have been very much in doubt. Both on the ground in Iraq where American weapons inspectors reported having found nothing after a fruitless search for the missing chemical and nuclear arsenal and in London and Washington where this “intelligence failure” has become a major political scandal.

By June, the “policy and intelligence fiasco” had triggered a flood of leaks from the CIA, the DIA and the State Department as the battle between Rumsfeld’s Neo-Con warriors in the Pentagon and the “realists” in Powell’s State Department and the CIA broke into the public arena.[iii] And it was revealed that last year our Secretary of Defence set up his own in-house intelligence service, The Office of Special Plans (nicknamed the “Cabal”) to compete with both the CIA and the DIA. In the policy battles that raged throughout the summer and fall of 2002 within an administration deeply divided over its Iraq policy, this Pentagon group won almost all of the policy fights and as we say, “got their war on.”

But by this past Spring retired intelligence officers from the CIA and senior diplomats from the State department had begun to complain that Rumsfeld’s Pentagon “hot garbage” from Iraqi defectors around Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress directly to the White house in an exercise of “faith-based intelligence” where the Pentagon knew beforehand “what they wanted the intelligence to show.” They argued that the Neo-Conservative faction in the Pentagon was guilty of “grossly manipulating” intelligence data in order to shape public opinion. In the view of groups like “Veteran Intelligence Agents for Sanity,” Rumsfeld’s decision to create his own intelligence service with a “ stovepipe” leading directly to Oval Office set the stage for “hyping” to the national media whatever reports supported the Rumsfeld line on Iraq and eventually to passing off forged documents like the infamous Niger uranium memo to the highest levels of the Administration, to the U.S. Congress and eventually to the UN Security Council. They said this to anyone who would listen, and among those who did was Nicholas Kristof who put their charges against the “Pentagon crazies” on the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times—the main newspaper of the establishment opposition.

The flap over intelligence issues in the summer of 2003 immediately recalled to mind the controversy over the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence which had flared up in the Spring of 2002 with regard to Donald Rumsfeld’s proposal to conduct orchestrated media campaigns to achieve “strategic influence” with foreign public opinion. The manipulation of intelligence reports was seen as but one piece of a broader campaign of “information warfare”—where the Pentagon and British MOD jointly managed media stories before and during the Iraq conflict in ways that targeted the American and British domestic opinion. Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force Colonel and professor at the National War College, analysed some fifty different stories in the U.S. and UK that were planted in the press as part of a strategic information warfare campaign to win public support for the war and to isolate and punish opponents. We should note in passing that among the privileged targets of this disinformation campaign were the French and German governments—who were subjected to a mean spirited but very effective campaign of disinformation which helped stoke public anger in the U.S. against “Old Europe” and spark consumer and travel boycotts against these two countries.

These operations were carried out by the Pentagon “Office of Strategic Influence” which after being announced in the Spring of 2002, was dissolved—officially—in the Fall in the face of the public reaction against the idea that the US Government would knowingly plant false stories in the foreign press. But apparently the disinformation campaign went ahead as planned even after the office was disbanded—only with a different target audience in view. As Donald Rumsfeld remarked in a November 2002 press conference: ”If you want to savage this thing, fine, I’ll give you the corpse…but I’m gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.” And we can be sure that he did it with a smile.

In May 2003, the charges that U.S. Intelligence had been politically compromised were reinforced in by an inept attempt by Under-Secretary Wolfowitz to downplay the importance of the missing WMDs when he told Vanity Fair that the issue of Iraqi WMDs had been emphasised in the run-up to the war only “for bureaucratic reasons. It was the one reason everyone could agree on.” This effort at political damage control backfired and in a matter of days, the issue of the missing WMDs went from being a story told on the back pages to the lead article for TimeNewsweek and US News and World Report. Newsweek for example, gave the story to Michael Isikoff, their top investigative reporter who had dogged the Clintons for years throughout the Whitewater and Monicagate scandals. Clearly by this July, blood was in the water and the media sharks were circling Rumsfeld’s Pentagon.

The next step in the evolution of this affair followed from Seymour Hersh’s report in the May 5th issue ofThe New Yorker that the head of Rumsfeld disinformation operation was none other than one Adam Shulsky, a “Straussian” conservative,” who had once co-authored an article on Leo Strauss and role of deception in intelligence operations. The significance of this link went beyond Strauss’ belief that the inter-state relations were characterized by rivalries that often dealt in the currency of deceit and deception. What cut to the heart of the current affair was his belief, as William Pfaff put it, “that the essential truths about society and history should be held by an elite, and withheld from others who lack the fortitude to deal with truth. Society, Strauss thought, needs consoling lies.”[iv] This concept of the “consoling lie” became the journalistic key to how and why the Office of Special Operations had in the words of one of its staffers, Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, carried off: what she describes as “a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a co-optation through deceit of a large segment of the Congress.”

Neo Conservatives and the Strauss Connection

Hersh’s report gave the unfolding story of bureaucratic competition and deception campaigns a new philosophical twist. Not content to denounce a neo-conservative cabal for the disinformation campaign that helped them sell the Iraq war to the Bush Administration, the Congress and finally the American and British publics, critics now drew the philosophical pedigree of Rumsfeld’s Pentagon group into the debate. Quickly the members of the Cabal were dubbed the “Leo-Cons” in The New York Times to highlight their connection to political philosophy of Leo-Strauss—an émigré German professor of political philosophy who had taught at the University of Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s.

But other political pedigrees have been suggested for this group. Michael Lind for instance traced their roots back to the right wing Shactmanite faction of the American Trotskyite movement who entered the Democratic Party in the 1960s and then split with the Left over the Vietnam War. Many members of this group continued their rightward itinerary by rallying to Senator Scoop Jackson’s campaign against the New Democrats. Some finished with the Democratic Leadership Council, while others found a home in the Reagan and now the Bush fils administrations. Other critics who promote an “Iran-Contra bis” scenario for the current flap over intelligence trace the group back to the policy cabal that had promoted the Contra war against the Sandinistas and who had lost their power and influence in the second Reagan Administration as a result of the Iran-Contra hearings of the late 1980s.

But in the midst of the growing press fury, it was the Straussian connection that stuck and the one writer who appeared as the most reliable guide to whom critics and journalists turned was Shadia B. Dury, the Canadian academic who had published her Leo Strauss and the American Right in 1999. Long quotes citing her as an authoritative source soon began to appear in the progressive press. At the same time, conservative critics dismissed her as a “liberal academic” who had “made a career of writing anti-Straussian exposés,” and in particular, one self-declared Straussian, Robert Locke, criticized her Leo-Strauss and the American Rightas a “snide, careless and inaccurate piece of liberal boilerplate.” More to the point, Dury’s recent claims about the links between Strauss, Straussians and Bush’s Foreign Policy have been rejected by Mark Blitz, (Professor at Claremont’s McKenna College and former Associate Director of the USUA under Reagan), because “Despite … Dury’s bluster, she give no coherent reason why Strauss’ students in the Bush Administration support the war in Iraq.[v]” As we shall see, Strauss, the Straussians and their critics as well have all been drawn into latest edition of America’s “culture wars” and find themselves at the epicenter of a distinct media storm of their own that has grown into an international affaire.

The Neo-Con Network and the Strauss School

In any case, Dury is quite right to point out that many of the most visible Neo Conservative figures within the ranks of the Bush Administration and among its house intellectuals who reside at the American Enterprise Institute and write for the Weekly Standard, have some kind of connection with Leo Strauss. Or if not with the Master himself, then at least with his most visible disciple, Allan Bloom, who taught at the University of Chicago in the 1970s and 1980s. Dury sums up her case about the Straussians connection to the Iraq war plainly: ” Leo Strauss was a great believer in the efficacy and usefulness of lies in politics. Public support for the Iraq war rested on lies about Iraq posing an imminent threat to the United State. Now that the lies have been exposed, Paul Wolfowitz and other in the war party are denying that these were the real reasons for the war.” Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense, and one of the accused, freely admits to having taken one course with Allan Bloom, but denounces the whole idea of a Neo-Straussian cabal as “the product of fevered minds who seem incapable of understanding that 9/11 changed a lot of things and who search for a conspiracy theory to explain it.”

But whatever their relation to the authentic thought of Strauss, the Straussians represent a distinct generational cohort. Among their alumni are other Pentagon officials, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, the Chair of the National Defense Policy Board, Stephen Cambone, the Under Secretary of Intelligence, Elliot Abrams of the National Security Council and Adam Shulsky already mentioned. These are members of coherent neo-conservative group of policy makers that have served together in since the Reagan administration and who often socialize together as well. And given their willingness to look out for one another’s offspring, the network has a multi-generational dimension that passes membership and ideological belief from father to son as is the case, for instance, with Irving Kristol of Commentary who begat William Kristol of the Weekly Standard.

As William Pfaff notes, before the Straussians’ entry into their ranks, Republican conservatives were distinguished mainly by their intellectual poverty, and for that the brilliant “inverted Trotskyism” of the Straussians provided a remedy. Today they represent a broad network that cuts across the neo-conservative wing of the Republican Party as well as a distinct intellectual school that has colonized Political Science and History departments as well as Law school faculties. The list of Straussian students in an impressive one at least for their political influence if not always for their intellectual coherence: Justice Clarence Thomas: Robert Bork, Supreme Court nominee: Alan Keyes former Assistant Secretary of State and Anti-Abortion Presidential candidate; William Bennett, former Education Secretary; John Podhoretz, the former New York Post Editorialist, and John T. Agresto, former National Endowment for the Humanities Deputy Chair, among others. They represent the warrior elite of the Intellectual Right of the Reagan era who especially distinguished themselves in their service in the long but ultimately failed campaign to hunt down President Clinton in the 1990s and thereby to reverse the cultural settlement of the post 1960s. In the wake of 9/11, many were called out of retirement to rally the country behind the “War on Terrorism” and do battle in the media with the “Blame America first crowd” among liberal academics.

All and all then, the Straussians are an exceptional intellectual and social movement. As Karl Jahn observes: “The greatest peculiarity of Straussianism is that there is such a thing. Not a single other “conservative thinker” has inspired a following remotely comparable, in size, continuity and influence to that of Leo Strauss. There is a Straussian School as there is no Weaverian or Burnhamite or Meryeran or Kendallist school. And this school has its own interest, ideas and purposes, which are clearly distinct from mainstream conservatism.”

But their influence is especially strong in the right wing policy think tanks in Washington—most notably the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—set up by conservative foundations such as the Lynde and Harry Braddley Foundation. President Bush saluted the AEI as the home to “twenty of the best minds” in his administration, and it was their annual dinner in February 2003 that he give his clearest defense of his invasion of Iraq. Echoing the Wolfowitz argument for regime change in Iraq as the key to regional transformation, Bush declared that the liberation of Iraq was about bringing democracy to an entire region and Islam into the modern world. The audience at the American Enterprise Institute was understandably thrilled because his speech meant that the “Richard Perle School” had won its battle for the President’s heart and mind at least for the duration of the war. Radiating the sublime self-certainty that can only come from the place where evangelical faith meets worldly inexperience, our Warrior President committed us to making over not just one Arab dictatorship but all of them at once.

The importance of this speech then was as much about where it was said as what was said. The AEI is the Washington think tank that housed most of the strategic thinkers—Perle, Donnelly, Muravchik, and others—who lead the charge for war with Iraq during their years of exile under Clinton. Home base for the “Project for a New American Century,” whose authors dominate decision-making at the Bush Pentagon, this group has also been instrumental in aligning the administration’s Mid East policy with that of Ariel Sharon’s Likud. In the view of many critics the political kinship with Likud is as or more important than any lingering association with Leo Strauss for explaining the Neo-Conservative worldview.

In the reigning neo-conservative view, then, the Iraq war was a “a bold and daring project” to reshape the map of the Middle East by applying the “shock and awe” of battle to break down barriers to westernization—as though western armies from Napoleon to Dayan hadn’t already tried the application of brute force in 1799, 1918, 1956, and 1967. But for the Neo-con theorists, warfare remains the preferred means for administering shock therapy to the Mid East. In the event, things have turned out somewhat differently than expected. Conquering Iraq proved easier than occupying it, and far from breaking Islamist morale, the Bush conquest has instead turned Iraq into a magnet for violence attracting every available fedayin in the Middle East.

But the Iraq project is questionable on other grounds than its sheer political naiveté, for if we are to believe Shadia Dury, the Neo-Khans’ preference for belligerence is as much philosophical as it is political and has less to do with the defense of liberal democracy than some might think. She argues that we should treat Neo-Conservative enthusiasm for the spread of democracy with great skepticism because: “The idea that Strauss was a great defender of democracy is laughable. I suppose that Strauss disciples consider it a noble lie. Yet many in the media have been gullible enough to believe it. How could an admirer of Plato and Nietzsche be a Liberal democrat? The ancient philosophers whom Strauss most cherished believed that the unwashed masses were not fit for either truth or liberty.”

In explaining the real appeal of “Shock and Awe” demonstrations of military force, Dury points out that like Karl Schmidt, Strauss believed firmly that politics and the State are rooted in the maintenance of the “Friend/Foe” distinction. As she argues in her interview with Postel, for Strauss,

The global reach of American [mass] culture threatened to trivialize life and turn it into entertainment. This is as terrifying as a specter for Strauss as it was for Alexandre Kojève and Carl Schmidt… All three of them were convinced that liberal economics …destroys politics; all three understood politics as a conflict between mutually hostile groups willing to fight each other to the death… In short, they all thought that man’s humanity depended on his willingness to rush naked into battle and headlong to his death. Only perpetual war can overturn the modern project with its emphasis on self- preservation and creature comforts. [Through war] Life can be politicized once more, and man’s humanity can be restored. This terrifying vision fits perfectly well with the desire for honor and glory that the neo-conservative gentlemen covet. The combination of religion and nationalism is the elixir that Strauss advocates as the way to turn natural, relaxed, hedonistic men into devout nationalists willing to fight and die for their God and country. I never imagined when I wrote my first book on Strauss that the unscrupulous elite that he celebrates would ever come so close to political power… But fear is the greatest ally of tyranny.[vi]

In other words, Dury claims that Strauss believes that Men by their nature are inherently aggressive and can only restrained by a powerful nationalist state. “Because mankind is intrinsically wicked,” Strauss once wrote, “ he has to be governed. Such governance can only be established, however, when men are united – and they can only be united against other people.” And Dury adds that this means: “ If no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured.” Heroic values are required for the accomplishment of this struggle and for this the egoism and utilitarianism of modern liberalism is both an inadequate and unworthy foundation. Apparently this was shown to Strauss’s satisfaction by the utter failure of Weimar Republic to resist the rise of Hitler. In his view, Weimar’s fate is the doom of all liberal democracies given enough time.

For Straussians like Mark Blitz, however, the American Republic has a unique chance of escaping this fate precisely because of its cultural and political “exceptionalism”—that is, because American political culture retained many pre-modern and illiberal cultural elements that have been lost in the rest of the modern world. Writing from a safe distance in Paris, Carole Widmaier in Paris defends Strauss from his disciples’ nationalist excesses; denouncing their americano-centric, “point de vue absolutisé d’une nation ou d’une culture particulière… Il est moins grec que barbare.” And citing Strauss’ maxim that “ le barbare étant défini comme celui qui croit que ‘toutes les questions ont été résolues par son propre tradition ancestrale,’ “Widmaier condemns the Straussians that have come to power in America as much for their barbarism as having reduced Strauss’ esoteric philosophy to vulgar ideology.

After listening her defense of Strauss’s critique of tyranny grounded in a close reading of his texts, one can imagine Leo Strauss repeating after Karl Marx, “Quant à moi, je ne suis pas Straussian.” But then again, perhaps, Leo Strauss’ attitude toward American power in world was not so distant from that of his unilateralist disciples as Widmaier would have us believe, and certainly no less “heroic” in its potential imperial applications. Dury states that whenever he discussed contemporary international relations, Strauss was fond of repeating the story of Gulliver and the Lilliputians. And more precisely of how: “When Lilliput was on fire, Gulliver urinated over the city, including the palace. In so doing, he saved all of Lilliput from catastrophe, but the Lilliputians were outraged and appalled by such a show of disrespect.” An apt image, then, for an American Gulliver today who shows strong exhibitionist tendencies and whose militarist urges push him to play the “pompier pyromane” around the world while “Old Europe” looks on in disbelief.

The Straussian Neo-Cons, then adopt a peculiar stance in the “Quarrel of the Ancients with the Moderns.” Essentially they argue that modern liberals are myopic dwarfs who actually have nowhere to stand philosophically – and certainly not on any ancient giants’ shoulders. For the Straussians modernity since Machiavelli has been a straight path to nihilism where all understanding of political virtue has been lost along with respect for a social hierarchy rooted in aristocratic values. To rediscover Virtue’s true meaning, they argue we must return to the classical schoolroom and the pagan philosophers where moral teaching began – but this is a path is only open to a select few. For the rest of us, a return to organized religion, what Strauss called a “pious fraud,” along with uplifting patriotic fables, are our only hope of avoiding the fall into total anomie. Given their rejection of modernity, it’s not surprising that Straussians should endorse a religious faith they don’t share as a necessary fiction needed to maintain good order among the masses. It is perhaps from this that comes the embrace of the Evangelical Christian Right by secular intellectual Jews as political allies within the Republican Party and of “Christian Zionists” by their Likud friends from Israel.

Dury work forces us to ask what qualifications if any the Neo-Straussians have for undertaking the democratic modernization of the Mid-East as a “generational project”—given their own skepticism about democracy and liberal modernity as a political projects. “They really have no use for liberalism and democracy, “Dury remarks,” but they’re conquering the world in their name…” This suggests that the Neo-Cons are something more complicated than the Wilsoniens bottés that Pierre Hassner has dubbed them. They’re too wedded to a radical critique of liberal modernity and to their alliances with Protestant fundamentalists Ayatollahs to be considered reliable friends of democracy in the Middle East or indeed anywhere else – and most especially at home.

In helping us pose these political questions, Shadia Dury may sometimes slip into a partisan, polemical mode—as her critics suggest—but perhaps we might forgive her blunt Canadian way of speaking. In America, the Neo-Cons and the Religious Right are winning our culture wars, and the hour is already late. Liberal democrats in North America no longer have the time or the luxury of arguing the other side’s position better than their opponents. Indeed, they must first understand their own position and argue it without reservation. This is something at least that Shadia Dury does not hesitate to do.


Notes


[i] See Donald Rumsfeld, News Briefing, U.S. Dept of Defense, September 25, 2001, p. 1.

[ii] On the conflict between the official diplomatic line and real strategic rationale for the invasion see Olivier Roy’s Op-Ed column, “Europe will not be fooled again, “The New York Times, May 13, 2003.

[iii] See Sonni Efron, “Diplomats on the Defensive,” The Los Angeles Times, May 8,2003www.latimes.com.

[iv] William Pfaff, “The Long Reach of Leo Strauss,” Op-Ed, International Herald Tribune, May 15, 2003.

[v] See Mark Blitz’s reply to Dury, “Leo Strauss, the Straussians and American Foreign Policy,” Open Democracy, November 14th, 2003, www.openDemocracy.net, p. 1.

[vi] Danny Postel, “Noble lies and perpetual war: Leo Strauss, the neo-cons, and Iraq,”
www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-2-95-1542.jsp.

John G. Mason is Professor of Political Science at William Paterson University and has been a Visiting Professor (Professeur Invité) at l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in 2001 and at l’Université de Paris VIII in 2002 and 2003. He is a regular contributor to Esprit in Paris and Tribune in London. This article first appeared in French translation in Critique, March 2004.


Democratic-Revolution, Imperial regime change formula

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Democracy promotion: America’s new regime change formula

Washington’s formula for regime change underwent a makover in the 1980s. In a bid to ensure US political and economic interests were safeguarded, CIA backed coup d’états ousted democratically elected leaders from Iran to Chile.

In their place were brutal dictatorships and governments that committed heinous crimes against their people.

By the 1980s, the reign of terror that blazed across Latin America was too much for most people to stomach. From death squads to torture chambers and various massacres, the Latin American generals who trained in the US to spread democracy around the world quickly gained reputations for major human rights abuses.

To replace the overt support for dictatorships, a new concept for regime change was born; one that sounds and looks better – democracy promotion.

The concept of democracy promotion is simple; finance, train, and politically back local opposition forces around the world that support the American agenda.

Dr. William Robinson is one of the foremost experts on Washington’s democracy promotion initiatives, he wrote the book ‘Promoting Polyarhcy.’

In Latin America, in Eastern Europe with the Velvet Revolutions, in Africa, in the Middle East, really all over the world, the U.S. set up these different mechanisms now for penetrating these civil societies in the political systems of countries that are going to be intervened and to assure the outcome is going to be pleasing to Washington’s foreign policy objectives,” said Robinson.

Lawrence Wilkerson, the former Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “We do this through surrogates and nongovernmental organization and through people who are less suspecting of the evil that may lurk behind their actions than perhaps they were before. Have we learned some lessons in that regard? You bet! Do we do it better? You bet? Is it still just as heinous as it has always been? You bet!

So while the goal remains the same, it’s no longer the CIA but the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and its partners spearheading the effort.

Allen Weintein, one of the founders of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) explained to the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do now was done covertly by the CIA 25 years ago.”

And like the CIA, USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy and a number of similar organizations receive funding from Congress.

Millions and millions of U.S. tax payer dollars go every year into funding for political organizations and campaigns in different countries in the world that promote US agenda. Most U.S. citizens are unaware of the fact that that is how their money is being spent, to meddle, and to influence and to interfere in other nation’s affairs,” said Eva Golinger who has been investigating the US’s democracy promotion efforts in Venezuela.

The concept of facilitating regime change through democracy promotion has garnered wide criticism not just abroad but also at home in the United States.

Congressman Ron Paul once wrote “It is particularly Orwellian to call US manipulation of foreign elections ‘promoting democracy.’ How would we Americans feel if for example the Chinese arrived with millions of dollars to support certain candidates deemed friendly to China?

I think it’s terrible, we use taxpayer’s money to go over and use our military and the CIA these programs that say ‘this is what you outta do’ and influence them. There is no authority for that, it doesn’t work, it teaches a lot of people to despise us,” Congressman Paul told RT.

Funding and how it operates

Democracy promotion has been a long standing element of US foreign policy. It operates as a key component of soft power linked to the diplomacy apparatus of Washington.

The moneys go from the U.S. State because we need to see this starts with the U.S. state.They go into the country that is going to be intervened and inside that country they identify a series of groups that are going to receive this money but also receive this kind of political influence that comes with giving money and comes with on the ground operatives tied to this money,” explained Robinson. “When the U.S. starts an interventionist program, they identify the different sectors it wants to organize.So it’s identifies the trades union movement and where are the pliant parts, the objective is to marginalize radical trade unions and bolster conservative trade unions.They identify women movements, marginalize radical movements and mobilize conservative women moments.Then they do the same with youth.All sectors of civil society will be identified and those that can be brought on board to the US interventionist project will be brought on board and funded.

One of many examples is the color revolutions in Eastern Europe.

As I saw happen for example in Ukraine, as I saw happen in Georgia, as I see happening in other places too, they don’t just propagandize or attempt to help with words and rhetoric that opposition, they actually do things that give that opposition more power,” said Wilkerson, recalling the involvement of USAID and NED.

William Blum, a US historian and the author of the book “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since WW II” said, “They copy from one area to another, the first one that was successful was the one in Serbia and they borrowed things from that revolution.Certain slogan, symbols and colors, and they use it again and again.”

Analysts recall the similarities in the color revolutions where youth groups were energized, rock bands lined up, and laser shows put on. The movements were marketed as cool.

The objective was to make them into a national passion, a national fad if you well,” said Blum.

Student leaders of the Serbian youth group Otpor who played a key role in the 2000 ousting of Slobodan Milosevic met 7 to 10 times with officials from USAID affiliates, according to the NY Times. The same group also received several hundred thousand dollars for demonstration material, t-shirts and stickers.

On the other side of the world, in Latin America, some of the most active and capable programs have and continue to flourish in countries where Capitalism isn’t the agenda.

Blum contends, “Venezuela, easily, that is the place where they send the most money.Chavez is enemy number one.

One opposition lawmaker that has been a key figure in Washington’s democracy promotion model in Venezuela is Maria Corina Machado; a woman who is by many standards and to plenty of critics, a product of US interventionism.Machado rose to fame with an NGO known as Sumate, an organization that received hundreds of thousands of dollars from USAID and NED. Sumate led fierce campaigns against democratically elected President Chavez and his Bolivarian Revolution, including a referendum against the President in 2004.

In our case, we did receive funding from NED as did several, tens of organizations here in Venezuela,” Machador confessed.

Like Georgia’s Saakashvili, foreign financing bolstered Machado’s image on the national and international stage, even granting her a meeting with President George W. Bush.

This is about promoting an individual; this is about promoting someone who has the capacity to rise to power and share US agenda,” said Golinger.

Since 2000, USAID has activated more than 620 programs in Venezuela alone, costing up to $20 million dollars.

In 2002, a government document from USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives explained a possible coup against Chavez was in the making. The author of the memo, OTI director Russell Porter wrote about the urgency of “sending an assessment team to Venezuela as soon as possible with a prejudice toward starting an active program to support civil society and the media.”

Another 2003 declassified memo drafted by USAID’s OTI in relation to the 2004 referendum said, “the overarching strategic objectives of the program remain the same: that is supporting the continuation of stable, free-market orientated democracy in Venezuela.”

Other documents declassified through Freedom of Information Acts show USAID affiliates NDI and IRI were awarded $500,000 each for campaign schools in Venezuela.These campaign school s were responsible for campaign strategy and organization, message development, outreach, fund-raising, public relations, get-out the-vote techniques, and candidate selection. That same cable also cites the importance of co-opting Venezuela’s poor, with the barrios as the main target. The barrios have long been known as Chavez strongholds.

In Latin American, democracy promotion programs target governments or organizations that have a socialist, anti-free market leaning.

The President of NED Carl Gershman insists democracy promotion does not mean regime change.

To him [Gershman], Democracy equates to Capitalism, the idea of socialism and democracy is alien to him, if he is working against a socialist government or movement, he is working for democracy,” said Blum.

Funding democracy with US taxpayer dollars

Democracy, US-style, doesn’t come cheap. Most of the money flows to forces in line with US interests. Washington has spent a far amount of money spread democracy worldwide.

We’re talking here about hundreds of millions of dollars, and over the years since this policy was consolidated, we’re talking about billions. The State Department will have an appropriation of several billion dollars for what it called the Office of Transition Initiatives. The Congress will have an appropriation hundreds of millions of dollars for the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID will have its own budget as well,” said Robinson.

Over the past two decades, USAID has spent 9 billion dollars promoting Washington’s democracy initiatives.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) received $132 million dollars during 2009; nearly all of the money came from U.S. government agencies.

However, USAID and NED are not the only ones. There is an entire network of organizations involved in the democracy promotion business such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the American Center for International Labor, the Center for International Private Enterprise and Freedom House.

But these are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s an entire network of organizations involved in the democracy promotion business.

Although all the organizations insist there is no political affiliation, the board of directors for both NDI and IRI suggest otherwise.

Both boards consist of former Secretaries of State, national security advisers, members of Congress, and even Clinton, Bush and Reagan administration officials.

They all have a history in Washington. One deeply rooted in sustaining the current foreign policy priorities.

Blum said, “to understand US foreign policy, one must understand a very basic fact; the US government wants to dominate the world.”

He insists the soft money working behind scenes is directly linked to the CIA.

They had to have a new organization with a nice sounding name, with the word democracy, which would be free of the taint of the CIA, and that’s why the NED was created,” Blum added.

One of the key areas the democracy promotion network has invested in is Central America, where there is a rising tide in leftist, socialist ideologies.

According to the North American Congress on Latin America, USAID’s latest $2 million disbursement to Honduras was based on proposals to make the Central American country economically competitive on the global market.Since 2004, the United States has spent over $18 million on democracy promotion in Honduras.

While USAID requests $800,000 for more democracy promotion programs in Honduras for FY 2011, journalists and activists are being brutalized and killed under the U.S. backed government

In Egypt, a revolt against the US backed policies of Hosni Mubarak regime has mobilized these agencies to co-opt opposition groups to ensure the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections are beneficial to Washington.

Wael Nawara of the opposition party Al Ghad told RT funding and guidance from NED, NDI, IRI and USAID has increased in the past two years, and that NDI and IRI are operating in Egypt illegally.

Other countries the US has intervened in include the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, Ecuador, El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, and the Palestinian territories.

The USAID has implemented so called democracy promotion initiatives in over 100 countries in the past 25 years. This year’s budget is $1 billion dollars. According to USAID’s website, spending $10 million in a target country increases its amount of democratic change fivefold.

Blum insists there is pure hypocrisy in Washington’s democracy promotion agenda. “We have a very clear law on the books prohibiting foreign governments from interfering in our elections of supporting any candidates with money.So we do exactly abroad what we prohibit here at home,” he said.

Encouraging transparency is a stated core element of the US government’s democracy promotion efforts in foreign countries. But here at home the agencies themselves are far from transparent. Detailed program budgets and information are unavailable to the public and contact with the media is limited. Over the last six weeks, RT repeatedly requested interviews from USAID, NED, IRI and NDI. All of these requests were denied or unanswered.

Pepe Escobar, a South America based journalist for the Asia Times said US democracy promotion programs use political or other grievances in countries to push and coordinate their own agenda.

They use the locals,” said Escobar. “They mix their preoccupations and their grievances with the classic full spectrum dominance Washington agenda.”

The US targets nations who are strategic competitors and regimes that antagonize the United States. It utilizes the Pentagon and CIA strategy of full spectrum dominance.

Escobar explained that anti-government messages are often propelled through mainstream corporate media outlets in Brazil and Venezuela that are indirectly linked and influenced by US organizations like Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy.

He argued that over time it is possible other nations, like China, will use their growth to influence US elections; however that could take some time.

They [China] still do not understand the notion of soft power and smart power,” Escobar said. “Maybe it’s going to take a generation to understand how the West thinks.”

Jacob Hornberger, the president of The Future of Freedom Foundation explained that this policy of democracy promotion is not merely an Obama or Bush policy, but instead a systemic issue in overall US policy.

This is essentially US foreign policy and has been for decades,” he said. “They funnel money into elections, they engage in invasions, assassinations, coups, regime change operations. That’s what foreign policy has been about for a long time.”

Those who feel the policy is truly the promotion of democracy are operating under a lie, Hornberger argued.

The Government has no more commitment to democracy than it does to dictatorship,” he said.

The US government supports those who best serve their interest at a given time, including having supported leaders Saddam Hussein in the past.

They’re trying to get their people in public office in countries all over the world,” Hornberger said. “They will stop at nothing to affect that kind of regime change when the administration in that country isn’t towing the official line.

With the government on the brink of bankruptcy, Americans should be more outspoken against these programs which spend millions in US taxpayer dollars.

The US has entered the realm of imperialism and needs to return to the republican form of governance it was founded on, argued Hornberger.

This is not the limited government paradigm on which our country was founded. It’s a paradigm based on an empire from which our nation was born in resistance to empire,” he said.

What Americans have to decide is what do we want? Do we want an empire that is bankrupting this country?” asked Hornberger. “Or do we want to restore a republic and a sense of normality and peace and prosperity to America?

 

U.S, Pakistan military chiefs hold secret talks in Oman–(Stars and Stripes)

[Are the US/Pakistani militaries preparing to clean-up the awful mess that they have made in Pakistan?]

U.S., Pakistan military chiefs hold secret talks in Oman

By KEVIN BARON

Stars and Stripes
Published: February 23, 2011

MUSCAT, Oman — Several of the most senior leaders of the U.S. military, the Afghanistan War, and the Pakistani armed forces held a daylong secret meeting Wednesday at a secluded luxury resort along the Omani shores of the Persian Gulf.

One U.S. official in attendance described the meeting as “very candid and cordial, and very productive discussions.”

Sunburned European tourists splashed about just yards away from a closely guarded conference room in which Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. David Petraeus, commander of International Security Assistance Force; Adm. Eric Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; and Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, met with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s chief of army staff, and Maj. Gen. Javed Iqbal, director general of military operations.

“I was very grateful for General Kayani’s time and the opportunity to continue the dialogue and the relationship at this very critical time in the effort,” Mullen told reporters traveling with him.

The meeting, planned several months ago, is the third such gathering of high-level American and Pakistani officials since August 2008 to discuss the war, according to a military official in the U.S. party.

“I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with American officers the progress we have made fighting extremists in our country and to offer them my thoughts about how our two sides might better cooperate,” Kayani said, in a statement released Wednesday by Pakistan’s military. “Pakistan’s soldiers have fought bravely and accomplished much at great cost. We must honor those sacrifices by making sure our military operations are understood.”

Both sides gave operational updates and emphasized the need for better cross-border communication, information-sharing and physical infrastructure development, such as roads, according to both parties. No other details were provided.

With attention focused on the region’s uprisings, Mullen is on a long-scheduled Persian Gulf tour that also has touched down in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, with plans to visit Djibouti, Bahrain and Kuwait before returning to Washington.

U.S.-Pakistani relations on the whole have improved on many fronts since 2009. In the past two years, the Obama administration and military leaders have praised Pakistan for sending 140,000 troops to fight the Taliban, terrorists and other insurgent groups along its border regions with Afghanistan.

But in 2010, Pakistan stalled its advances citing heavy losses and needing time to renew its forces. Meanwhile, the U.S. has increased its use of drone strikes to kill insurgents inside Pakistan. The strikes, however, remain largely unpopular among Pakistanis. An editorial in Pakistan’s “Daily Times” questioned the efficacy of imprecise drone strikes, concluding, “The political fallout of blunt attacks will not achieve the purpose of winning hearts and minds of the people in the counter-insurgency efforts of the U.S.”

Additionally, relations between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services are at their lowest in years, to the point of missing chances to target senior terrorists, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. Any deterioration could endanger U.S. troops who frequently confront Pakistan-based terrorists and insurgent fighters sent into Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence has stopped giving CIA drone operators information to target terrorists inside Pakistan, according to the Journal, including those with the notorious Haqqani network the ISI has long supported.

In December, CIA’s station chief was outed publicly, forcing him to leave Pakistan. And this week, tensions heightened further as it was revealed former Special Forces soldier Raymond Davis, who is accused of shooting two Pakistani men in Lahore he said were trying to rob him, was working for the CIA at the time. President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials insisted he was a diplomat in efforts to win his release.

Moreover, in November, news accounts of U.S. diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks confirmed small numbers of U.S. special operations forces had been operating on the ground inside Pakistan’s borders.

In Congress last week, Gates said Pakistan is a “mixed picture….and it is something we just need to keep working at.”

Mullen, at the same hearing, praised Pakistan’s military performance, but worried about many other factors from the struggling economy to the stream of terrorists flocking there.

“The vector is going in the wrong direction overall for the country.  We are very unpopular there,” he said. “…I am as concerned as I have ever been.”

Mullen, for his part, has made it a personal mission to try and bend Pakistan toward U.S. views, making more than 20 trips to visit Kayani during his term as the top U.S. military officer and senior military advisor to the president.

“The chairman believes this kind of dialogue is vital to improving coordination and communications between our two militaries,” the official said. “He believes [the Pakistan military] continues to do a remarkable job battling extremists inside their borders.”

baronk@stripes.osd.mil

 

An Attack From Harvard Law on the Escalating 9/11 Truth Movement

An Attack From Harvard Law on the Escalating 9/11 Truth Movement

Those who have read the Fellowship’s Statement of Principles will recognize that the work of Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, described in the article below by Bill Willers,  directly opposes our religious principles which state, in brief, the following, extracted from Section 4.0 – Ponerology:

We recognize that the roots of human evil, though originating at the Cosmic level, are primarily psychobiological in nature and a product of humanity‘s evolutionary history. {…}  In the case of building blocks missing in the substrate, the extreme of psychopathy represents a near complete deficit of social emotions: trust, honor, love, compassion, empathy, care, duty, allegiance, respect, gratitude, justice. In contrast, the qualities of the psychopath, including cold-heartedness, a ―lying tongue‖, superficial charm, emotional manipulation, arrogance, self-centeredness, lack of remorse, and sadism, have all been known historically as qualities of Evil. {…}

We recognize that psychopathy is the root cause in the cycles of inter-generational and trans-generational social Evil and is the primary player in the mechanical entropic tendency of Cosmic Evil to hinder human development and thus stamp out the full potential of Spirit in this world. As a natural expression of Cosmic Duality and Variation, psychopaths traumatize and distort the minds of those who fall under their influence (see 4.3. On Ponerization) and who, in turn, continue the cycle of Evil. {…}

In a culture blind to their existence and nature, psychopaths are able to take advantage of and subvert the best of human qualities and to achieve positions of authority and domination in our world, whether in family, business, academic, religious, or political structures. They exemplify human Evil and its corrupting, poneric (from the Greek poneros) influence. {…}

We recognize that psychopaths have an insidious and corrupting influence on the minds of normal humanity, dulling our ability to think and feel in humane categories. Psychopaths perceive the world with a distorted, ―dog-eat-dog‖ mentality, in which weakness, innocence, and naiveté are qualities to be ruthlessly exploited. This foreign worldview inspires a traumatizing shock reaction in the human psyche and makes us increasingly susceptible to emotional manipulation via pseudo- or para-moralisms and political–religious propaganda. This influence is cleverly hidden behind the psychopath‘s ―Mask of Sanity‖ (see Sources, H. Cleckley), and our blindness to its root cause allows psychopaths to infiltrate and corrupt human groups (see 4.4. On Ponerogenesis). The problem reaches mass proportions when ponerized political groups achieve control of vast geographical regions, as was the case in the empires of the Hittites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Khazars, Christian Orthodoxies, Nazis, Soviets, and most recently, religiously conservative Americans (see 4.5. On Pathocracy). In each of these cases, religion and government have worked hand in hand (Communism being a type of materialistic religion) to manipulate large groups of people to seek to destroy other groups… {…}

We recognize that the ultimate outcome of Ponerogenesis is the emergence of Pathocracy. Whereas in healthy societies, normal humanity would naturally recognize and isolate psychopathy, in a ponerized society such as exists at the present time, psychopaths isolate and persecute normal humanity. Inspired by their foreign and callous worldview, psychopaths imagine a system of government where the expression of their pathological desires is not blocked. Exploiting popular and humanitarian ideologies as a ―cover‖ or ―mask‖, psychopaths achieve domination through a corruption of moral content of these ideologies that is often so slow and subtle that it is difficult to recognize its progress. They then go about a process of mass indoctrination and terror, defining the limits of human expression and forbidding the normal human revulsion to an anti-human system of oppression, injustice, and mendacity. In such a society, the vast majority of psychopaths rise to the top, from the heads of government down to all important positions of authority and influence at the local level (see Sources, A. Łobaczewski). Their ranks are supported and augmented by other personality disordered individuals, authoritarian personalities, and individuals who have been psychologically wounded personally and/or socially, all of whom contribute to a system of totalitarian rule. {…}

We recognize that there is little possibility of expressing unorthodox views on scientific method and practice or on how the social structure negatively affects science without a venue for robust self-criticism, as has existed within the academic discipline of philosophy. Journals providing outlets where scientists could express their views on how their field serves their own needs as researchers, and society‘s needs as the beneficiary of their ideas, have ceased to exist under pressure from the scientific establishment or have been re-aligned to carry only ―pure research. Thus, there is no venue for the study of the influence of the prevailing social structure of science within which scientists work, and even less for the examination of the ways in which this structure is used in negative ways to hinder innovative research and even destroy the careers of those who dare to step outside the dogmatic scientific paradigms.

We recognize the difficulties faced daily by well-qualified scientists who challenge scientific orthodoxy and the illicit, shameful censorship and blacklisting of scientists. In light of these problems, we recognize that scientific disciplines have been ponerized by pathocratic influences, directing scientific research primarily to areas of corporative and military research and blocking research that contradicts or threatens their aims. Anonymity in the peer review system is particularly susceptible to corruption and interferes with the objective examination of extraordinary ideas on their own merits.

These problems of science are global and even more present in rich, industrial nations where science is increasingly corporatized and forms the backbone of political power and control. The problems are widespread in all fields of science, including physics, astronomy, medicine, and psychology, and in all areas of research performed by humans where the First Criterion of ponerogenesis is ever present. Whether the ideas that are suppressed or ignored are correct is a different matter and subject to the use of a robust feedback mechanism. We recognize that suppression of new ideas and free and open discussion is not the way to filter science and promote progress in human knowledge, and is harmful to the search for Truth. We recognize that the state of science today is that of decay proceeding to death and we declare our right – the right of humanity – to academic and scientific freedom. {…}

We recognize that knowledge of politics and current events in this world is essential for spiritual growth. Ignorance of political and social pathodynamics, whether in the form of corporate influence, government or religious leadership, is tacit acceptance of Evil and thus equates to a refusal to choose Good. The political systems of this world
are the primary method by which the forces of Evil subvert human growth and creativity. The forces that act to subvert Freedom and accrue power and influence are ever-present, and an ability to discern the forces of Good from Evil necessitates a willingness to see their Effects in the domain of politics. We recognize that a love for Truth and Justice necessitates an awareness of their opposite: Machiavellian politics as an eternal tool for domination.

By Bill Willers

OpEd News

A wide appreciation of the implications of “Conspiracy Theories” by Harvard law professors Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule has been slow in coming. What makes the article and the views expressed therein all the more significant is that author Sunstein in 2009 was made Administrator of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget by President Obama. (See HERE)

(Note: The 2008 article at the Social Science Research Network’s website appeared in virtually identical form in the Journal of Political Philosophy 17(2), 2009, pgs 202-227, except that the Journal’s version, which carries the title “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures”, lacks several terminal pages dealing largely with 9/11 theories outside the U.S.. References to pages below are for the easily downloaded online article for those who want the entire article. The actual Journal is scarce and requires $41 for a download.)

While the article’s title suggests conspiracy theories broadly, the 9/11 Truth Movement is the paper’s focus, and it reveals substantial concern regarding that Movement’s ongoing advance. Particularly ominous is that the authors, who use “theorists” and “extremists” interchangeably, limit their focus “to potentially harmful theories”. To whom, one might wonder, would the 9/11 Truth Movement, so “worrisome” for the authors, be harmful? And why do the authors consider the 9/11 Truth Movement such a “serious threat” that it should be “broken up or at least muted by government action”? (pg 21)

The authors contend that conspiracy theorists suffer from “cognitive blunders” and “crippled epistemology”. Using psycho-philosophic parlance they are saying those failing to accept the official story of the 9/11 Commission, leading members of which admitted it was “set up to fail”, cannot think straight. But the “theorists/extremists” they wish to censure include by now thousands of physicists, architects and engineers using only physical facts and data; substantial figures in theology and philosophy applying elementary logic; military, political and intelligence personnel from all over the world with lifetimes of experience in how the system — including its underbelly — functions.

So, what is proposed? “Practically speaking”, the authors write, “government might do well to maintain a more vigorous counter-disinformation establishment.” (pg 19) They recommend that government officials respond “to more rather than fewer conspiracy theories [which] has a kind of synergy benefit: it reduces the legitimating effect of responding to any one of them, because it dilutes the contrast with unrebutted theories.” (pgs 15, 29) Such advice assumes that all theories — or aspects of a single theory — are essentially equal in validity or lack of validity — an odd position for legal minds supposedly sensitive to fine distinctions. But that would not matter when the point is simply to defeat citizen efforts.

More menacing, however is that the authors suggest “planting doubts [to] undermine the crippled epistemology [through] cognitive infiltration” of groups by governmental agents or by forces appointed by government. (pgs 3, 14, 15, 22, 29) “Government agents (and their allies)”, they write, “might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories.” In light of such proposals for dealing with citizens seeking truth, that Cass Sunstein is “one of America’s leading constitutional scholars” (See above link to the White House announcement) is appalling.

The authors contend that “crippled epistemology” arises from the “sharply limited number of (relevant) informational sources” used by conspiracy theorists, this making the theories “especially hard to undermine or dislodge; they have a self-sealing quality, rendering them particularly immune to challenge.” (pg 3) This drips with irony, for information coming from the expertise found within the 9/11 Truth Movement, while both extensive and diverse, has been limited only through censoring by the U.S. Government. What’s more, there has rarely been a “theory” more resistant to opposing information — more absolutely and officially “self-sealing” — than the mockery that is the official 9/11 Commission Report.

As one reads through the Sunstein/Vermeule article it is clear that the authors, while aware of the now infamous Popular Mechanics article — that absurd prop for the official governmental account (pg 18) — have carefully avoided any relevant material from within the mountain of easily available credible information that would dash their thesis. For academics ostensibly wedded to truth this is shameful.

Consider from page 20 the following misrepresentation of the position of the 9/11 Truth Movement:

“After 9/11, one complex of conspiracy theories involved American Airlines Flight 77, which hijackers crashed into the Pentagon. Some theorists claimed that no plane had hit the Pentagon; even after the Department of Defense released video frames showing Flight 77 approaching the building and a later explosion cloud, theorists pointed out that the actual moment of impact was absent from the video, in order to keep alive their claim that the plane had never hit the building. (In reality the moment of impact was not captured because the video had a low number of frames per second.”

This is a classic “straw man” set up to be knocked down. The intensely grainy few frames made available (of the many certainly detailed security camera records that exist) were not adequate to identify Flight 77. But in this instance it is beside the point anyway, because ‘moment of impact on the video’ was never a central issue in a case consisting of an abundance of strong evidence. The authors certainly know this as they seek to create the false impression that ‘moment of impact on the video’ is the centerpiece of the 9/11 Truth Movement’s case, an impression the authors can then refute.

And the authors continue:

“Moreover, even those conspiracists who were persuaded that the Flight 77 conspiracy theories were wrong folded that view into a larger conspiracy theory. The problem with the theory that no plane hit the Pentagon, they said, is that the theory was too transparently false, disproved by multiple witnesses and much physical evidence. Thus the theory must have been a straw man initially planted by the government, in order to discredit other conspiracy theories and theorists by association.”

This convolution is rife with falsehood. Witnesses have been conflicting, but of greater import is that abundant physical evidence actually points in a direction contrary to the official narrative. After creating one straw man, the authors cite (manufacture?) “conspiracists” who, once convinced that Flight 77  hit the Pentagon, now see the contrary view as a government-sponsored straw man. Sunstein and Vermeule thereby create scenarios that carefully avoid the considerable evidence countering the government’s explanation of 9/11.

The authors flit between conspiracy theory generally and 9/11 specifically, in this way suggesting connections that denigrate the 9/11 Truth Movement through association with people “mentally ill and subject to delusions” (pg 9), “conspiracy entrepreneurs — who profit directly or indirectly from propagating their theories” (pg 9), and, most disturbingly, Holocaust deniers. (pgs 7,8) While some have sought to connect the 9/11 Truth Movement with Holocaust denial (e.g., the former head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, who made the association twice in the same interview –click here) there is no such relation either in the inclination of researchers, or in the thought processes involved, or in fact. One suspects therefore that such association is simply one more attempt to silence a movement that is alarming certain powers because if its seemingly unstoppable growth.

Readers of the article are guided toward a false impression that 9/11 conspiracy theories outside the U.S. are virtually limited to the Arab -Muslim world. The authors write that it is likely “that the virulence of conspiracy theorizing in Muslim nations has a great deal to do with social cascades and group polarization, and with weak civil liberties and lack of a robust market for ideas in many of those nations.” (pg 26) As to the prospect that elements of the U.S. Government might be involved in such an incident as 9/11, the authors maintain that for many people in Islamic nations “it is far from jarring to believe that responsibility lies with the United States (or Israel)”. (Parenthesis around “or Israel” in the original, pg. 10)

The implication that the 9/11 Truth Movement outside the U.S. is fundamentally a Muslim/Arab phenomenon is an extraordinary lie of omission, because the 9/11 Truth Movement is indeed global and incorporates experts of every sort, including scientists and demolition specialists, a past president of Italy and even the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. And what, one might ask, of the protests at European Union Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium that have drawn demonstrators from all over Europe? What of the open discussions on the very floor of the Japanese Parliament that reveal agreement with the 9/11 Truth Movement?

“Extra resistance to correction through simple techniques”, the authors write, “is what makes conspiracy theories distinctly worrisome.” (pg 5) “Worrisome”? Their concern is mirrored by Philip Zelikow, who was appointed by Bush to direct the 9/11 Commission and who became the primary instrument in the prevention of information flow to the Commission, and hence its planned failure as declared by Commission members. They quote Zelikow thus: “Our worry is when things become infectious …..”.

Bill Willers is emeritus professor of biology, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh now living in Middleton, WI. He is founder of Superior Wilderness Action Network (SWAN) and editor of Learning to Listen to the Land and Unmanaged Landscapes, both from Island Press.

The American Tapeworm

A Tapeworm’s Triumph

The other day, a natural healing practitioner explained the strategy used by a tapeworm to prosper. A tapeworm, she said, injected a chemical into its host that triggered a craving by the host for what the tapeworm wished for its dinner. By managing it’s hosts desire, a tapeworm manipulated its host to set aside self-interest and please its parasite. And so the tapeworm proceeded to consume its host’s energy and health, with the host doing most of the work.

The story of how a tapeworm parasitically eats away at its ecosystem came at a moment when the math lover in me was having an adverse reaction to the description of America as the new Roman Empire that seems to be inspired by the recent occupation of Iraq. The investment economics of American imperial conquest work more along the lines of the tapeworm than of the Romans.

If my rudimentary understanding of the rise and fall of ancient empires is useful, the Roman Empire brought an advancement of science, infrastructure, technology and material progress to many of the poorer lands that it conquered. In essence, Rome’s territory grew in part from its ability to increase the ‘return on investment” of many of the places it conquered.

While those who believe in self-determination may not approve of the Romans right to do so, or their methods, those of us who appreciate roads, bridges and infrastructure understand the positive investment yields that the introduction of intellectual capital to a place can generate. From one point of view, Rome financed its conquests not just by ransacking them — but by making places smarter in the material sense.

The tapeworm — a parasite that over time eats its host —can more accurately describe the demonic patterns of stripping places of intellectual capital that come with American imperial conquest. The “dumbing down” so often complained about within America’s borders is a phenomenon that our military appears to be implementing globally. We seem intent on removing spiritual power and intellectual IQ as we depopulate globally, moving out the honest and competent and putting the corrupt and bureaucratic in charge.

One of the things that is most disturbing about the American tapeworm is that it has organized its leadership around private banks and defense contractors and its governance and intellectual air cover around think tanks and private universities and their tax-exempt endowments.

In so doing it has done a marvelous job of getting the intellectual resources of the nation disengaged from dealing with what is happening and engaged –if not financially dependent on— producing chemicals for injection into the body politic through a highly centralized corporate media that will feed the tapeworm’s desire.

The Harvard Watch reports description of Harvard academics creating the public policy justifications for Enron’s frauds while the Harvard endowment fed at the trough illuminated a perfect example of how the tapeworm gets the host to act against its own self-interest.

The “Break It-Fix It” Subsidy of a Negative Return on Investment Economy

For several years, I have been studying and writing on the corporate and banking economic warfare model of globalization. Just from a case study of one private investor, Pug Winokur, and his investments in and with DynCorp, Enron and Harvard, examples abound.

  • US neighborhoods are overrun with narcotics trafficking and HUD financial fraud while systematically worked by enforcement, seizure and War on Drugs teams supported by DynCorp and generating profits for the Harvard Endowment;
  • Latin American pipelines, water and other assets are sold for significant discounts to market value to Enron and other multinational investors while DynCorp helps War on Drugs military teams move peasants off the lands;
  • Russian banks and pension funds are emptied out by organized crime and laundered through NY Fed member banks while Harvard as financial advisor helps privatize Russian oil companies over to their endowment investment network;
  • DynCorp personnel supplying police and aircraft maintenance are active with local mafia in Eastern Europe and practice buying and selling children as slaves which they use for sex;
  • $3.3 trillion is missing from the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing Development where Lockheed, DynCorp & AMS are active managing computer systems and Harvard supplies appointees and contract services.
  • Manipulation of the gold markets by the US Treasury and NY Fed member banks are led by Larry Summers, Secretary of the Treasury, and now President of Harvard and his predecessor Robert Rubin, Secretary of Treasury, and now member of the Harvard Corporation Board.

These shenanigans are well documented by a series of courageous reporters and market commentators, including Anne Williamson, Greg Palast, Kelly O’Meara, William Murphy and Chris Sanders.

This tapeworm operates globally. It has been winning at economic warfare because those opposed to it cannot see it clearly and are not yet networked globally to move people, places and capital out of its reach. My pastor, Bishop Alfred Owens, says, “If we can face it, God can fix it.” Indeed, divine authority is hamstrung– waiting for the necessary global networks to align around a common map of the real deal about global consolidation of economic and political power — and the resulting liquidation of wealth.

This tapeworm is managed tightly by the cartels that syndicate around central banking and warfare and it has four phases:

  • Phase One–Break It: Private syndicates make money destroying a place through organized crime, covert operations, warfare or a variety of both;
  • Phase Two- Buy It: The profit generated from breaking it is used to buy or seize “legal control” at a discount;
  • Phase Three- Fix It: Government funding, credit and subsidies are then used to “fix it” while harvesting remaining assets, including with narcotics trafficking, sex slavery and any other form of liquidating the human, intellectual, environmental and physical capital in a place:
  • Phase Four—Declare Victory: Victory is then declared and a flow of foundation and academic grants funded by the “break it-fix it” profits generate awards, photo opportunities and official archives and documentation for the perpetrators to be admired for their bringing of advanced civilization to the natives.

What emerges from an investment banker’s analysis of billions of transactions involved in situation after situation, in place after place, in year after year, is surprisingly simple.

We are watching a global first world economy that has a negative return on investment.

For example, in 1997 I lead an analysis of US federal expenditures and credit activities in the Philadelphia area for a group of US pension fund leaders. After analysis of the detailed data resulting from $10 billion of government reengineering and $400 billion of federal credit portfolio strategy managed by my company, the evidence was overwhelming —the federal investment in Philadelphia had a negative return on investment. In short, government budgets were rigging profits and income for companies and people in the area. After each year of government investment, Philadelphia spent more time doing things that were fundamentally not productive and so had been paid to grow “stupider.”

The deterioration in environment, culture, infrastructure and quality of life in Philadelphia that was obvious from walking around the city matched the numbers rather than the spin in the corporate news that the economy was doing well. Equity yields were falling steadily and only cooked government and corporate books could make it look otherwise. The primary thing on the rise was the smugness of the leaders of Philadelphia institutions as their success at covert management and personal “personnel benefits” grew ever stronger.

The Giant Sucking Sound as the Tapeworm Consumes Global Capital

Another way of saying this is that the banking and corporate model as currently constituted does not work. Banks and corporations are entirely dependent on rigged government budgets, government contracts, federal credit arbitrage and corrupt regulation in way that generates a negative return on investment for taxpayers. In addition, as corporations and banks become dependent on such government intervention they become progressively less able to function in a free market. Their culture becomes progressively soviet.

The combination of negative returns to taxpayers and increasingly non-market worthy private organizations is steadily lowering productivity. Add to this the increasingly power of organized crime as a % of GNP and a determinant of who sits in power on Wall Street and Washington, and fundamental productivity does not have a chance.

This state of affairs can go on as long as it can be financed. Hence, as long as America can continue to export dollars, export Treasury bills and mortgage backed and other federally supported credit, and lead in global organized crime and warfare, a negative return economy can continue.

Another way to say this is that rather than let markets adjust in a manner that would hold banks and corporations accountable, the central banks and military and enforcement machinery will guarantee markets by offsetting ever less productivity with ever greater amounts of debt and the liquidation of planetary assets – people, places, and all living things.

Which leads us to Iraq.

The Tapeworm Ransacking of Iraq

The economic desperation that lead up to the invasion of Iraq has been eloquently described by Chris Sanders of Sanders Research Associates and fits the patterns that SRA colleague, John Laughland and his colleagues at the British Helskinki Human Rights Group, have documented in Eastern Europe. Assuming the patterns that we have seen throughout the world apply, that tapeworm’s economic desperation will feed on Iraq as follows:

  • The first meal to be harvested on Iraq is the profits of invasion — from government contracts and arms trafficking to media coverage.
  • The second meal to be harvested on Iraq is the resulting control of assets, including gold, oil, bank accounts and antiquities. Iraq will be stripped, shipped, or otherwise switched to new ownership. Occupiers will use Iraqi assets to leverage more debt that generates more contracts and business for the inside companies. The antiquities in Iraq and this area of the world have a special meaning and attraction for the American and British leadership networks so don’t underestimate the value of these. The gold bugs at LeMetropole Café reported that the Americans have captured $1 billion of gold which was quite relevant as the NY Fed Banks particularly JP Morgan, Goldman, Citibank, are running significant short positions to suppress the gold price. Such a replenishment of their stocks (or the US Treasury who they may be trading on the account of — they usually simply move the shorts over to the taxpayers on all these types of situations) will be quite refreshing.
  • The third meal on Iraq to be harvested will be occupation management. If Eastern Europe is representative, America will partner with local and global organized crime and other intelligence agencies to significantly increase organized crime profits from the place. Attractive children will be culled from the population for shipment to Europe and other areas for sex slavery and pedophilia. Narcotics trafficking will increase as it has in Afghanistan. The award to CSC DynCorp of a $500 million sole source contract to run police, courts and judiciary in Iraq is an important signal. My question after years of research is whether CSC DynCorp’s core competencies relates to enforcement infrastructure designed for places with growing financial fraud, narcotics trafficking, sex slavery and control of leadership through “control files.” These are the talents that America needs to strip mine the assets to feed its economic desperation.
  • The fourth meal to be harvested on Iraq will be fixing it and declaring victory. This will involve significant government contracts to bring Western Civilization as defined by building those things that ensure the assets that the private corporations and investors have now acquired have the largest increase in value at no expense to themselves. A careful analysis will show expenditure rations in the soviet style—that is we will spend much more than necessary to get anything done. The banks will acquire an entirely new market. Critical to the fixing it phase is the financing of the occupation with the requirement that Iraq use the US dollar. We will print dollars and the Iraqi’s will use them. This is free financing for us. Next will come the payback for the not for profit groups. Because Christianity is an essential political support base for legitimizing the de-population of the Moslem territories, a flow of resources to the right church groups to support an expansion of their missionary ministries is likely. Progressive groups will bid for contracts to bring the rule of law and economic development and things like “the rights of women.” There will be a flow of money from foundations and universities to study how to help Iraq and to justify what we are doing.

As the corporations and banks are digesting Iraq, the American tapeworm will be setting its sights for the next meal. The money will be flowing to the right think tanks, academia and media apparatus for the preparation of the next injection into the body politic.

The lethal combination of a debt based financial system, falling productivity and the absence of meaningful feedback systems means that the magic of compound interest will dictate that the American tapeworm’s hunger for more capital is accelerating.

Where is the Tapeworm’s Brain?

The great mystery in all of this is who is really in charge. On one hand, we are watching an official action of the American governmental apparatus. On the other hand, that governmental apparatus is now run by the private companies and banks that operate the apparatus accounts and systems and finance its ever-growing debts. The investors behind these entities are global, not American. This is not a picture of a sovereign government or leaders loyal to the American people. A review of global insurance risk positions, debt and capital markets would show more about who is managing what than American politics. Indeed, Greg Palast of the BBC has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bush lost the election – something of no practical consequence thanks to the Supreme Court and the corporate media.

The tapeworm is in control and eating into the people of America as it is eating into the people of Iraq. Federal accounts are missing $3.3 trillion, pension funds have been stripped by pump and dump stock fraud and neighborhoods are overrun with narcotics trafficking. There are increasingly numbers of American citizens who have more in common with the people of Iraq than with the leadership of Wall Street and Washington.

With the takeover of American digital data by defense contractors and banks managing governmental functions, economic warfare takes on a whole new meaning. What is supposed to be private is not as those in the know have total access. What is supposed to be transparent is private, except for those in the know who are free to use it to advantage. With total defense contractor information awareness, people can be adjusted to ensure that markets do not have to adjust.

The American tapeworm is a symptom that the central banking-warfare model that has created the supremacy of the English-speaking people since the time of Queen Elizabeth I is dying. It is dying not because it is wrong but because it is weak. It is dying because — like a tapeworm – it has begun to create a rapidly weaker system. Hence it is incumbent upon the English-speaking people to reinvent themselves by engaging globally to invent a new model.

Yet, the opportunity to move to a new model requires the ability to see where we are and to outline a vision to those in the system that there is hope. Doing so becomes progressively more important as who is in charge is less important than how many of us are dependent for our bread and butter on a negative return on investment economy as it tapeworms its way towards planetary extinction — and all of us with it.

In short, the primary problem is not that the folks in charge are centralizing wealth in a destructive way or that some have too much money. That’s a problem – but a secondary one. The problem is that from the point of view of the dolphins, the plants and the trees, the planet is worse off for the presence of humans.

All solutions are found when we realize that this is something you and I can correct without wasting more time trying to find someone in charge of the tapeworm to persuade them to change its ways. It can’t change — its too busy finding food to feed all of us.
Return to the Tapeworm Economics Archive

Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana protesters: ‘Kill the bill!’

Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana protesters: ‘Kill the bill!’

Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana protesters: 'Kill the bill!'

Tens of thousands of protesters are rallying in Wisconsin.

 

Thousands of protesters are chanting, drumming, singing, locking arms and waging campaigns against bills that would affect union rights in Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana. CNN’s iReporters are there, capturing the demonstrations from within the crowds.

Wisconsin: Facebook, Twitter and e-mail are playing a huge role in student involvement in the massive protests outside the state Capitol building in Madison. Watch protesters chant, “Kill the bill!” Three student walkouts were reportedly sparked by Facebook invitations that were sent across the University of Wisconsin-Madison Facebook page. Thousands are now standing, shouting and chanting in the city Wednesday, voicing their opposition to what Republican Gov. Scott Wilson calls a “Budget Repair” bill that would force state workers to increase their contributions to their pensions and health insurance benefits. Wilson said the bill must pass to head off a $3.6 billion budget gap by 2013 – and layoffs.

University of Wisconsin students have protested alongside teachers. Health care workers have shown up to rally, and dozens of other state employees are literally beating drums to express their opposition to the bill that would eliminate collective bargaining rights. Even Rage Against the Machine’s guitarist is there.He wrote about why he’s joined the demonstrators for CNN.com. And CNN’s Tom Foreman penned this note to President Barack Obama about the protests. All-but-declared presidential candidate Rick Santorum compared protesters to drug addicts.

Indiana: Democratic members of the state House walked out yesterday on a Republican-supported bill that would reduce private-sector union rights and prevent unions from requiring workers to pay dues. Labor unions shouted, “You’re fired!” at Republicans on Tuesday, according to the Indianpolis Star-Tribune. The paper filed a Q & A about the bill. The battle in this state is all about politics at this point – a political standstill.

Ohio: For the second week, crowds of teachers gathered in Columbus, shouting and chanting “Kill the bill!” Ohio is facing an $8 billion budget shortfall, and Republican Gov. John Kasich says that it has to pass to restore “balance” to the budget. Demonstrators have been yelling, “Teachers, yes! Kasich, no!” The measure is not about destroying unions, Kasich has repeatedly said. The legislation would allow school administrators to be able to ignore tenure when considering whether to lay someone off. The bill would also mandate that workers pay at least 20 percent of their health insurance premiums. Merit-based pay – though it’s unclear how merit would be measured – would be given to some public employees.

Indiana Official: “Use Live Ammunition” Against Wisconsin Protesters

Indiana Official: “Use Live Ammunition” Against Wisconsin Protesters

A conservative deputy AG let his emotions get out of hand. It wasn’t the first time.

— By Adam Weinstein

On Saturday night, when Mother Jones staffers tweeted a report that riot police might soon sweep demonstrators out of the Wisconsin capitol building—something that didn’t end up happening—one Twitter user sent out a chilling public response: “Use live ammunition.”From my own Twitter account, I confronted the user, JCCentCom. He tweeted back that the demonstrators were “political enemies” and “thugs” who were “physically threatening legally elected officials.” In response to such behavior, he said, “You’re damned right I advocate deadly force.” He later called me a “typical leftist,” adding, “liberals hate police.

Only later did we realize that JCCentCom was a deputy attorney general for the state of Indiana.

As one of 144 attorneys in that office, Jeff Cox has represented the people of his state for 10 years. And for much of that time, it turns out, he’s vented similar feelings on Twitter and on his blog, Pro Cynic. In his nonpolitical tweets and blog posts, Cox displays a keen litigator’s mind, writing sharply and often wittily on military history and professional basketball. But he evinces contempt for political opponents—from labeling President Obama an “incompetent and treasonous” enemy of the nation to comparing “enviro-Nazis” to Osama bin Laden, likening ex-Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Service Employees International Union members to Nazi “brownshirts” on multiple occasions, and referring to an Indianapolis teen as “a black teenage thug who was (deservedly) beaten up” by local police. A “sensible policy for handling Afghanistan,” he offered, could be summed up as: “KILL! KILL! ANNIHILATE!

Early Sunday, Mother Jones sent an email to Cox’s work address at the Indiana attorney general’s office, asking if the Twitter and blog comments were his, and if he could provide context for some of them. He responded shortly after from a personal email address: “For ‘context?’ Or to silence me? All my comments on twitter & my blog are my own and no one else’s. And I can defend them all.

“[Y]ou will probably try to demonize me,” he wrote, “but that comes with the territory.”

To be sure, in the current political climate, partisan rhetoric has run hot online—and the Constitution guarantees everyone’s right to such rhetoric. Nonetheless, a spokesman for the Indiana attorney general’s office, Bryan Corbin, told Mother Jones that Cox’s statements were “inflammatory,” and he promised “an immediate review” of the matter. “We do not condone any comments that would threaten or imply violence or intimidation toward anyone,” Corbin added.

The incident seems all the more troubling now that the public-sector union fight playing out in Wisconsin is now headed to other states—including Indiana, where GOP senators Tuesday passed a bill that would abolish collective bargaining for state teachers. (Indiana’s Republican governor walked back his support of the measure Tuesday after taking stock of the opposition.) Cox’s public writings made it clear that he isn’t a member of a public-service union, and he has no love for those who are.

“Individuals have the First Amendment right to post their own personal views in online forums on their own time,” Corbin wrote to Mother Jones, “but as public servants, state employees also should strive to conduct themselves with professionalism and appropriate decorum in their interactions with the public.” Cox had been contacted by the office, Corbin added: “We have reiterated to the employee the standards of professional conduct expected for all licensed attorneys and for employees of the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. After all the relevant information is obtained, this agency then will determine whether there has been any violation of the personnel handbook.”

In the meantime, we hoped to give Cox a chance to explain his thoughts in greater detail. In his initial email to Mother Jones, Cox had written, “Ask what questions you want & I will do my best to answer. Maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe I’ll learn something.” So we emailed him a list of questions:

What did he mean when he tweeted: “Planned Parenthood could help themselves if the only abortions they performed were retroactive”?

In referring to President Obama, why did he use a George W. Bush line once directed at the Iraqi people: “Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country”?

Were members of the SEIU really like Hitler’s Sturmabteilung, and did he stand by his headline, “Putting the ‘Reich’ in Robert Reich“?

We never heard back.

Adam Weinstein is Mother Jones’ copy editor. For more of his stories, click here or follow him on Twitter. Get Adam Weinstein’s RSS feed.

Mexican President Interview On US Agencies’ Rivalries Obstructing Drug War

FCH: states evade combat crime

U.S. ambassadors have hurt the relationship, he says. PAN-PRD alliance defends against undemocratic rulers. Read the full interview here.

The president defended the relevance of the alliance of the PAN and PRD ante governors representing a democratic regression ” (Photo: LUCIA GODINEZ / EL UNIVERSAL) 

Felipe Calderón Hinojosa was wearing yesterday with the intention of those who have determined to weigh his words, calculate impact, fine embroidery.

Extended a distant look on the issues ofpartisan politics , although licenses were allowed in areas that evidently exasperated, as the passivity of the governors againstorganized crime or criticism of diplomacy in the United States.

“They themselves are like ‘Borondongo’…, Barnabas gave the CIA and the DEA or ICE really not coordinated, even compete with each other …”.

The man who with his colleagues frequently says that we must choose the battles that they agree that the fight against drug trafficking was “inevitable.” Receiving recommendations suggests that “do not mess around …”, but the president argues that” the country that sin has brought repentance. ”

Warning that not all parties and presidential candidates have the same level of commitment in the fight against organized crime, so that voters must determine who to support.

Not surprisingly, when Calderón referred to as bitter pages of their fatal accident management Juan Camilo Mouriño and the crisis of the new influenza virus, but when you take away from Elba Esther Gordillo, leader of the National Union of Education Workers on which says that the only alliance that holds it is “the pursuit of educational quality.”

Shown speaking formal partnerships PAN and PRD, but make sure you leave the door open when state governments exist for their excesses and closure ‘represents an authoritative regression, contrary to democracy. ”

Felipe Calderon is in the beginning of the final stretch of his administration. Here, excerpts from his conversation with EL UNIVERSAL

What is the most difficult time that management has to live, and what the brightest?

On November 8, 2008, when Juan Camilo Mouriño died in 2008, was an affectation of government, because it was the Interior Minister at that time, also social, personal and because he had a close relationship with him. Really meant literally irreparable loss. Also, the time we had knowledge of influenza and the dimensions of risk involved for the country. The scene spoke of the possibility of up to 20 million dead. Another was also the most difficult moments and each day, to publicize the death of soldiers, police and civilian deaths they are always difficult challenges for a president.

“In government takes great satisfaction from the first day of inauguration. I think it was a great day for taking risks, having decided not to give in to blackmail and betrayal, violence, and take possession on campus Congress, I remember with great joy and pride. The day that could be consummated making facilities Luz y Fuerza, in half the time than we anticipated and without any violent incident. ”

Did you think any time you may succeed Juan Camilo Mouriño in 2012?

He had great qualities, was very capable, very intelligent, very charismatic. I had given instructions, as I did with other secretaries of Interior, which could not possibly be thinking or planning action … even thinking. But I know I would face the issue of being born in Spain but has been registered in Mexico. That would have complicated their chances.

Once you have completed your management, what do you think that will be remembered by Mexicans?

It is very difficult, very difficult. I would like to be remembered as a president who transformed Mexico, a president who could initiate a turning point in many things, a president who achieved universal health coverage … in short, or a president committed to the environment, which is my favorite subject. But I also know that one should not measure their actions by the ability to be remembered, is to do what must be done. Bear in mind that the policy is shortsighted and the story is grossly unfair. The only trial to which we aspire and that objectivity is the trial will show that we have to conclude our lives, is the only trial to which we must abide.

On the security issue, when he took the decision on what diagnosis to make this task a top priority of his government?

Never decided it would be the main task, but it has been the most prominent being the most visible, most obviously, the most striking. In fact, the triggering factor that put the emphasis on safety arose just in the transition period, to be gathering the reports, information on the behavior of gangs, and in particular the case of Michoacán.

But remember that in 2004, in elections in Sinaloa and Tamaulipas, alerted to the problem. Tamaulipas said that if there was no government to be responsible for the fundamental task of the safety of Tamaulipas, in the future who would rule would be neither the PAN or the PRI, will be Los Zetas.

Sometimes it seems that this is a task only the federal government, state governments circumvent a specific role … Makes an enormous lack assume that this issue with responsibility, because it is easy throw the ball to the president of the republic, when it is in accordance with the Constitution, a responsibility is a task that corresponds to the mayors and governors, not just the president. I think if we had all taken with the same integrity the task of dealing with crime in a while we were living a much more encouraging in Mexico, and I mean not just organized crime, we must remember that the theft is 83% of crimes committed in Mexico. People who suffer crime in the country who steal the public transport portfolio, is that he got to his house, which was assaulted in the street. That crime has little or nothing to do with organized crime, but neither is combat.

“This issue is conditioning a time scraping with the U.S.?

Complex always has been, and particularly on this issue. I have found both President Bush and with President Obama cooperation in this matter, but obviously institutional cooperation ends up being well enough.

What Americans need to cooperate?

In reducing drug consumption, not reduced. And two, to stop the flow of weapons, and have not decreased but have increased.

What is your opinion on the cables that exhibited WikiLeaks?

There the ambassadors who cast him cables generated a lot of cream to her heels. Always wanted to raise their own agendas in their own heads, and have done so much damage to the stories they tell and the truth, distort.There are many cases that is not worth talking.

Can you cite a particular cable?

Those who spoke of the lack of coordination between different agencies. I the U.S. ambassador that I have not tell you how many times I meet with the security cabinet or what I say, the truth is that it is a matter for them. I do not accept or tolerate any kind of intervention. But ignorance of Mr. results in a distortion of what happens in Mexico and falls in an affectation and a nuisance in our own team.

Where if there is lack of coordination among security agencies in the United States. We see that the DEA, CIA and the ICE always have a policy of “Borondongo gave Barnabas … The truth is that they are coordinated and other rivals.

Does the next government, regardless of which party is, follow this line of work, or are concerned about a shift in strategy?

I think that whoever becomes the next president or president can not resign, can not give in, to protect citizens.Now, is there any risk? Yes I see the same degree of commitment from candidates and parties, but it is a subject that touches distinguish the voters, and eventually decide whom to support.

In times of former President Diaz Ordaz ordered people in the streets asking people what they thought of the president, because the media were silent. Today they say the President all, in almost all media, including on his personal life.

How do I live this reality?

I’ve always been someone who believes in freedom, but I think that freedom must be accompanied with responsibility. I think that freedom of expression has to be done responsibly and that is unfortunate when there is so exercised. But more unfortunate would not have it. I was a candidate for the first time at 21 years of age, virtually all my life I have been under political scrutiny and have also been subject to intense and comprehensive attack those who just plain are not happy that I won. That does not bother me much, my principle is to follow what conscience dictates. When there is any libel or fib, which are so common among those with no arguments, I focus on talking with my children and keep an affectation.

They are about to begin the pre-campaign towards 2012. In 2006, his party had an alliance with SNTE and its leader, Elba Esther Gordillo, which resulted in this government in government positions to people close to her.

“This alliance has been discontinued or modified?

The essence of my agreement with the SNTE weighs heavily on an alliance for quality education … But there was an alliance in the electoral … Yes, but that varies depending on the circumstances and conditions. The party most identified with teachers is New Alliance, which has been in recent years various alliances … With different parties … particularly with the PRI. And surely make more in the future in the sense that is most appropriate to their interests.

Do you not foresee a new partnership with them and the PAN, in 2012?

That depends on what the PAN, the truth is that in that sense I’ve been respectful of all political parties, including mine. I can not venture what will happen in 2012.

What is your position on alliances with the PRD, PAN, in some states, especially that which could be in the State of Mexico?

It is a very complicated issue. Generate benefits for some parties who perform in some cases. I think the PRI and the Green Ecological Party of Mexico have been very fruitful partnership and a long time ago. I have a certain reluctance to subject the risk that these partnerships generate a conflict in terms of party identification and policy options.

But I think, on the other hand, much depends on the agreements of the party leaders.

But you would like or not the PAN was in alliance with the PRD in the State of Mexico?

I will respect the decision made by the National Action Party. Obviously as a man of the match I would like the PAN had its own political capacity to apply their own candidates. But I understand when the subject is placed in the perspective of pending democracy in Mexico.

It seems that state election machinery still have much to explain in terms of transparency to the citizens, when they are truly unimaginable amounts of resources in favor of candidate organizational capabilities that hardly a party can assemble their own, without other support. In that sense, I understand the logic that has led some to ally those concerns in mind, to put it shortly, authoritarian regression.

“When two or more parties have a common concern with a return or an authoritarian regression by means of the crush, so do not democratic elections, without saying if you agree, I do understand the logic of their arguments.”

Calderon aims fury at U.S. diplomats

Calderon aims fury at U.S. diplomats

Leaked cables contain remarks that undermine relations, he says

By DUDLEY ALTHAUS
HOUSTON CHRONICLE

MEXICO CITY — As officials from both countries vow to jointly avenge the murder of a U.S. federal agent, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has accused senior American diplomats of damaging the cross-border relationship with criticism of Mexico‘s public security forces.

In a wide-ranging interview published Tuesday in El Universal, one of Mexico City’s leading newspapers, Calderon charged that U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual‘s “ignorance has translated into a distortion of what is happening in Mexico” that has caused “an impact and an irritation in our own team.”

Calderon was reacting to a barrage of analytic cables – some signed by Pascual, others by senior embassy officials – that discuss the perceived shortcomings of Mexico’s intelligence services, the conduct of its army in Calderon’s anti-crime campaign and the inability of its security forces to work well with one another.

The U.S. Embassy offered no immediate reaction to the interview.

The cables, some classified secret, have been published by the website WikiLeaks, with still more appearing this week. Until Tuesday, Mexican officials have responded to the cables with shrugs and condemnations of WikiLeaks rather than the diplomats.

Not any more.

“They have done a lot of damage with the stories they tell and that, in truth, they distort,” Calderon said of the cables in the interview.

Frustration festering

Calderon’s remarks came just a week after Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Jaime Zapata, 32, was shot to death on a central Mexican highway, presumably by gangsters. ICE agent Victor Avila, was injured in the attack. Zapata was buried Tuesday in Brownsville.

U.S. and Mexican officials have continually stressed the two countries’ close cooperation in Calderon’s offensive on organized crime cartels, whose ensuing violence has claimed nearly 35,000 lives in little more than four years. The U.S. government has committed more than $1.4 billion in training, equipment and other assistance.

Now, with Calderon entering the final third of his six year term – and doubts growing whether his successor will continue the fight – neither the criminal gangs nor the violence seem close to being extinguished.

Frustration festers on both sides of the border.

Criminal ‘insurgency’

In addition to the U.S. diplomats, Calderon accused Mexico’s local and state governors of failing to do their part against the gangsters.

“If we all had assumed the task of confronting crime with the same integrity,” Calderon said, “we long ago would have been living a much more encouraging scenario in Mexico.”

Mexican officials were angered more than two years ago when a U.S. agency issued a report suggesting the country was on the verge of becoming a “failed state.” They were riled again a few weeks ago when a U.S. undersecretary of the Army publicly repeated concerns in Washington of a criminal “insurgency” threatening Mexico.

“Although operational cooperation is much better today than it was a decade or two ago, the same nationalist sentiments continue to bubble up to the top of the political debate in both countries,” said Andrew Selee, a Mexico specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

“We will see the relationship become more tense over the next year and a half as the Mexican election approaches and frustrations mount in the Calderon administration over lack of immediate progress in containing the violence.”

As he has in the past, Calderon complained to El Universal that the U.S. government has done little to curb either American demand for the drugs produced or smuggled through Mexico or the flow of weapons south across the border.

“The institutional cooperation ends up being notoriously insufficient,” Calderon said. He also complained that U.S. agencies have often failed to work together and in view one another as rivals.

Two years, 60 deaths

Still, scores of U.S. federal agents work with Mexican counterparts throughout the country in advisory and support roles. A U.S. Embassy cable from early 2009 revealed that more than 60 Mexican agents who had worked closely with the Americans had been killed in just the first two years of Calderon’s crackdown.

Zapata was the first U.S. agent slain by Mexican gangsters since Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985. But U.S. officials had feared such an attack as the ties with Mexican agencies grew closer.

“The threat to U.S. personnel could increase if the violence continues to escalate and more high-level government officials and political leaders are targeted,” the cable warned. “A reaction may be triggered if traffickers perceive their losses are due to U.S. support to the (Mexican government’s) counternarcotics efforts.”

dudley.althaus@chron.com

Kayani Still Denying Responsibility for Anything Bad In Balochistan

[The scary part is that the head warlord is grasping at straws concerning both Pakistan and Afghanistan, denying the Army hand in Balochistan and denial of meeting with Haqqani leadership over cross-border issues.  The Army does no wrong, period.  Lest anyone forget, the ISI is Army intelligence, just as surely as CIA is US military.  If CIA is in error in either Pakistan or Afghanistan, it is the US military that is wrong in the end.  If ISI is guilty of something (perhaps the abduction, torture and murder of Baloch dissidents?), then it the Army’s responsibility.  The missing of Balochistan is an Army matter, whether Gen. Kayani will admit that or not.  If it is not, then perhaps it should be.]

Baloch Hal Editorial: A Futile Visit

If the purpose of army chief General Parvez Ashraf Kayani’s one-day visit to Balochistan was the economic uplift of the province then there is surely something wrong with our democracy. If it was intended to promote education in the province, it definitely highlighted the faults in our civilian government and its failure to deliver public services. If the high-profile visit was destined to heal the Baloch wounds, the guilt was never admitted nor was a solution offered.

As ardent believers in democracy, we have always advised the military to stay away from economic ventures anywhere in the country.This is a job for the elected federal and provincial governments to perform.  The military has a professional role which is to guard the country’s frontiers. This task needs to be performed very professionally in the wake of the robust threat of  religious extremists from all over the world endeavoring to cross our borders to take the whole country hostage.

However, the army chief still has an undesired “right” to make political statements given the deep involvement of the military in the country’s polity. General Kayani categorically stated that nowhere in Balochistan was an operation taking place. His remarks came two days after the killing of two Baloch political activists by the Frontier Corps (FC) in Khuzdar district. As we write this editorial, there are unconfirmed reports about the recovery of the dead bodies of two more Baoch missing persons, including that of Mehboob Wadela, near Ormara coastal area.

Political observers have always admired General Kayani for his frigid political ambitions. Ever since taking charge of his office from General Musharraf, who captured power in 1999 through a bloodless coup, Kayani has largely stayed away from politics. Our fledgling democracy has been dwindling in the recent times but he still preferred to provide politicians a chance to learn from their mistakes and keep the democratic process continue.

General Kayani’s visit to volatile Balochistan was being seen with great anticipation that he would take serious notice of the uncontrollable role of the secrete services inside the province. He has certainly read about more than a hundred missing Baloch persons  whose dead bodies have been found from all corners of Baloch-populated districts of  the province. Most of these victims were educated, middle class students and professionals who were shot dead brutally and dumped in in isolated places.

A similar reminder was given to General Kayani by Balochistan governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi during his last visit to the province when Magsi drew the attention of the army chief about the worsening phenomenon of kill and dump policy of the secrete services. Sadly, Chief Minister Raisani did not raise this matter with the Army Chief though it was his prime responsibility as the head of the government. Nonetheless, the army chief has a crucial role to play in deescalating tensions in Balochistan. He has to publicly call of all  overt and covert operations in Balochistan.

We believe no one but General Kayani has the capability to restore order in Balochistan. While talking of the restoration of order we must be mindful of the fact that this objective cannot be attained by applying force, a blunder General Musharraf committed in futility. This time the army chief has to take personal notice of the missing person’s cases and dig out all the disappeared activists who have been kept in illegal detention centers. Only the army can save or lose Balochistan. It is for General Kayani to decide whether he wants Balochistan to become another Bangladesh or a happily accommodated, developed and stable province of the federation.

Based on the exclusion of the most outstanding issues confronting Balochistan, General Kayani’s this week’s trip to Balochistan was a disappointment and a sheer wastage of another opportunity to reconcile with the Baloch. To say no operation is taking place at a time when the missing persons’ dead bodies are recovering on regular basis is in fact tantamount to escaping responsibility. No doubt, Balochistan faces multiple problems ranging from economic deprivation to lack of ample representation in the country’s army but right now the most pressing issue that requires urgent attention is that of the missing persons. After the failure of the civilian government and the so-called independent judiciary, the army chief is the only person who can offer some hope to resolve this issue. He has to intervene and settle the issue once and for all.

Security Forces Attacked in Gwadar, Khuzdar, Nushki

[These sites were all mentioned as targets in the original warnings we had been given about US/NATO intentions to create a “strategic corridor” in western Balochistan in the NCA (NewsCentralAsia) reports, ‘Final Solution’ Frenzy – Part Four: Final Solution for Pakistan ]

Security Forces Attacked in Gwadar, Khuzdar, Nushki

The Baloch Hal News

QUETTA: At least five security personnel were wounded in a remote control bomb attack in the port city of Gwadar on Tuesday while unidentified people attacked a Frontier Corps (FC) check post with hand grenade in Khuzdar and a rocket was fired in Nushki.

According to sources, a vehicle carrying security personnel were passing from Fish Harbour Road of Gwadar when an explosive device planted with a motorbike parked on the road exploded soon after vehicle of security personnel passed by the area. As a result, five security personnel received serious wounds and were moved to nearby hospital for medical aid. The blast badly damaged vehicle and scattered windowpanes of nearby buildings. “Explosives were detonated through a remote control device and the vehicle of security personnel was the main target of saboteurs,” a police official said.

Soon after the blast, law enforcement agencies reached the site and cordoned off the area.

Eyewitnesses said that security personnel fired gunshots in the air after the blast that created panic in the area.

Sources said that some injured personnel were shifted to Turbat from where they would be shifted to Karachi by airplane for further treatment. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack till filing this report.

In another incident, unidentified people attacked a check post of Frontier Corps with a hand grenade in Khuzdar located on southeast of Quetta.

As per reports, unidentified people riding a motorbike threw hand grenade at FC check post set up on the RCD Highway near FC mess. Hand grenade exploded, however, caused no injuries.

FC personnel opened fire after the blast that forced the attackers to escape from the site.

Meanwhile, a rocket fired by unidentified people from undisclosed location landed nearby ground of District Police Officer’s office, in Nushki town some 148 KM away from Quetta. Rocked exploded with a big bang and caused panic amongst the people of the area. However, no loss of life and damage to property was reported in the blast.

Jail Superintendent Fired for Attempt to Help Davis Retrieve Data from USB Memory Stick

[It seems that the jailor was asked to provide hard copies of whatever was hidden on chip,  so that Davis could refresh his memory before questioning.]

Asst. Superintendent Jail sacked for providing facilities to Davis

US official Raymond Davis, in custody of Pakistani officials. – File Photo by Reuters

LAHORE: Assistant Superintendent Kot Lakhpat Jail and a prison constable were allegedly dismissed from their posts for providing facilities to US official Raymond Davis, who is detained for killing two Pakistani nationals, DawnNews reported.

According to sources, Naved Asghar posted as an assistant superintendent at the Kot Lakhpat prison allegedly tried to provide Davis with a universal serial bus (USB) memory stick with the help of a constable, Hafiz Hussain, posted in the high security zone of the Information Technology (IT) department of the prison.

The USB stick was recovered from Hussain when he was trying to enter high security cells. During investigation, he disclosed that Asghar had asked him to take the memory stick in the high security cells.

However, Asghar told officials during investigations that he had asked Hussain to take a print-out of the data of the USB stick, but he took it to the high security cells instead and did so of his own volition.

According to sources, senior officials dismissed both accused and handed investigation responsibilities to an intelligence organisation.

Indonesian Espionage Incident Exposes Internal Feud Within S, Korean Spy Agency, NIS

Infighting and feud with military cited as factors in NIS debacle

Lawmakers say the NIS was divided before the incident between Won and an official associated with the president’s elder brother
» The door of the Lotte Hotel room 1961 entered by National Intelligence Agents remains open as cleaning workers clean up the room, Feb. 22. (Photo by Kim Myoung-jin)
By Shin Seung-keun, Staff Writer and Hwang Chun-hwa 

What was behind the farcical incident in which National Intelligence Service (NIS) agents seeking to collect industrial information were caught infiltrating the room of an overseas delegation of special envoys visiting South Korea?

Observers within and close to the political sector say the incident was the product of a power battle within the NIS, inappropriate organizational changes, and competition and conflict between the military and NIS. Analysts suggest that another major factor may have been an excessive emphasis on results, with a determination to use any means necessary to realize President Lee Myung-bak’s long-cherished wish of exporting advanced training aircraft.

According to accounts from various ruling and opposition party figures familiar with the intelligence sector, at the time Won Sei-hoon took over as NIS director in February 2009, so-called “TK” connections from the Daegu (Taegu)-North Gyeongsang (Kyungbuk) Province area gained control of the NIS, handling matters such as appointments. At the center of this group was Policy Office Director Kim Ju-seong, an associate of Grand National Party Lawmaker Lee Sang-deuk, who is the older brother of President Lee Myung-bak. In response, sources report, Won carried out wide-ranging appointments in September 2010, during which a large number of TK figures received transfers to outlying provinces.

“TK figures in the NIS unanimously called for Won’s firing after the NIS reported during a National Assembly intelligence committee meeting in December of last year that it had collected intelligence about a North Korean provocation in August, three months before the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island,” said a Democratic Party (DP) lawmaker and member of the Intelligence Committee.

“It looks like the TK move to unseat Won was behind this incident,” the lawmaker said.

A ruling party lawmaker on the committee said, “Judging from the media reports, which are extremely specific, there seems to be a battle within the NIS between the contingent that is trying to unseat Won and move into key posts in the service and the side that is already holding the reins.”
Other observers say the system for intelligence collection and administration has broken down because of large-scale organizational changes effected after Won took office.

“Won really shook up the areas of intelligence and investigation in the name of reforms,” said a source familiar with the NIS situation.

“Intelligence activity is not something you do according to a manual,” the source said. “The reality of the NIS is the transmission of practices in a kind of apprenticeship system through years of know-how and connections, and internal disorder arose when they disregarded this.”

“To hear the talk coming from the NIS now, the working level there is a big mess,” the source added. “The talk about a power battle may be partially true, but the biggest problem is the collapse of the internal system.”

Another interpretation from overseas is that this major incident erupted after reckless competition between the Ministry of National Defense and the NIS over weapons exports. A Defense Ministry source said, “When President Lee Myung-bak visited Indonesia last December, he thought there would be progress with the exportation of the Korean-made T-50 advanced training aircraft, and after the other side showed its reluctance, he was very upset when he came back to Korea.”

“After seeing the president enraged like that, the NIS tried to show extra loyalty and ended up overreaching,” the source said.

Meanwhile, sources reported NIS employees have been disgruntled that an incident that might have been quietly ignored blew up after the military needlessly informed the police. The military and NIS have been in conflict repeatedly over critical situations such as the sinking of the Cheonan in April 2010 and the Yeonpyeong Island attack in November.

Some observers are questioning whether the decision to rashly pursue a major coup arose in the process of keeping step with the president, someone who likes the production of visible results quickly.

Shin Kuhn, a Democratic Party lawmaker and NIS director during the Kim Dae-jung administration, said, “The NIS committed this reckless action because it was caught up in the focus on results, the idea that they simply need to produce results, whatever the means or methods.”

Meanwhile, it was reported that the NIS is operating a “safe house” at a major hotel in downtown Seoul, where it is routinely and aggressively gathering intelligence. An official with Lotte Hotel said, “There is a room where NIS employees are permanently stationed, and one employee is always at the hotel.”

Sources said the NIS has used this safe house to gather intelligence on major foreign guests staying at Lotte Hotel.

An official who took part in the handling of this case said, “In the past as well, NIS employees would secretly gather intelligence at the lodgings of guests, but as far as I know this is the first time they have been caught by the other party.”

Other sources say that NIS has similar safe houses at most major hotels in downtown Seoul and that intelligence gathering efforts using them have become more aggressive since the Lee administration took office. An official at one luxury hotel in downtown Seoul said, “Up until the time of the Kim Young-sam administration, intelligence organizations used two to three rooms year round, but this practice went away for the most part during the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations.”

“The NIS’s year-round use of hotel rooms made a comeback when the Lee administration took office,” the official said.

 

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

Common Purpose/Common Scam

Common Purpose

Link to Stop Common Purpose Home Page

 

This mind map gives an overview of Common Purpose.

Imagemap
CP Britain 2010s Background New World Order Agenda 21 Smart Growth European Union USA What is CP? Change agent Hidden agenda Objectives Destroy Britain Social control Create a communitarian society Create a technocracy Power and money Philosophy Communitarianism Fabians Frankfurt School of Cultural Marxism Controllers Julia Middleton Sir David Bell Hidden hands Criminal activities Corruption Abuse of public funds Fraud Tax evasion Breaches of data protection laws Seven Principles Ultra vires Members Police Media BBC Media Standards Trust Government Local National Charities Characteristics Want power Lack of integrity Corrupt Secretive Untrustworthy Methods Social engineering Neuro Linguistic Programming Political correctness Manipulating consensus Orwellian doublespeak Problem - Reaction - Solution Trojan mice Manipulating systems

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In 1973 the UK joined the Common Market and in the 1975 referendum the people of Britain were conned into voting in favour of staying in the Common Market. link [1.1]

Prime Minister Heath, whose government entered into the accession treaty, and Prime Minister Wilson, who arranged the referendum, both knew that the Common Market was simply a stage in the development of the European Union.

At some point, those behind the take-over of Britain by the EU realised that they needed people whom they could trust to manage the new bureaucracy.

Enter Common Purpose, which was established to recruit and train the commissars and apparatchiks needed to run this bureaucracy.

The Hidden Agenda

From 1997, the New Labour government worked to two agendas. Firstly, the open agenda as laid out in their manifestos and secondly, their hidden agenda.

The objective of the hidden agenda is the creation of a communitarian society controlled by the EU collective.

In order to achieve this objective, the New Labour government ran a parallel administration made up of QUANGOs and fake charities. A fake charity is legally a charity but effectively operates as a government department, receiving a substantial amount of funding directly or indirectly from government and operating as a government department.

The hidden agenda continues to operate under the coalition government.

The British parliament has become just a puppet organization. They merely go through the motions – the pretense of acting like a governing body, but the reality is they are just rubber-stamping the programmes of the New World Order global communitarian technocrats.

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This project has been in the works for decades. Its main objectives are:

1. The creation of a One World Government with a unified monetary system under their direction;

2. To bring about the utter destruction of all national identity and national pride;

3. To bring about the end to all industrialization in what they call ‘the post-industrial zero-growth society’.

Quisling Plan for Change

Quisling Plan for Change

Brian Gerrish

Hover your mouse over the image above to zoom in. Right click and “save image as …” to download the full image.

We have consistently warned that Britain is being attacked by our own government, and under the front page headline of our last edition, “Dark Actors Playing Games”, we exposed that there was a hidden agenda between the Tory Cabinet Office and the political charity Common Purpose.

In lifting the lid on the dirty deals, insider dealing, lies and cover-ups surrounding the Cabinet Office’s plan to use Common Purpose to “reframe” the Top 200 Civil Servants, we also demonstrated that there was no difference in the Tory political agenda to that of Blair / Brown NuLabour. Since the Lid Dems have now been subsumed into the Conservatives, they can also be seen to be in the same political bed.

If we continue to naively believe the traditional political model of Conservative, Labour and LibDem, which suggests that each of the three main parties has a unique and discrete brand of politics, then we will find it hard to accept that forces much deeper are acting against us. If, however, we ask a simple question – Just how can a top ‘right wing’ Conservative like Francis Maude MP work hand in hand with an extreme Fabian left-wing Socialist such as Julia Middleton, the CEO of Common Purpose? – we start to see through the smoke and mirrors. The truth is they are all working to a ‘common purpose’, have been for many years, and that purpose is overwhelmingly hostile to a sovereign British nation and our historic values, laws and customs.

An elitest dictatorship is emerging from the shadows with increasing speed. Call it socialist, communitarian or fascist it is still a dictatorship with supranational and One World Government goals.

When an attack is subversive, devious and hidden, just how do you expose it for what it is? We can write thousands of words and hundreds of articles trying to explain what is happening, but the old adage that a picture paints a thousand words is still so true. Battles are fought, won and lost on maps, and today the military uses a myriad of electronic means to produce pictures of the enemy and his tactics.  If we can’t see the enemy we can’t fight.

Our centre page diagram sets out as simply as we can the political change network at work at the heart of government. Though even the expression ‘government’ is a misnomer, since government is not a simple seat of democratic power in Westminster and the House of Lords – government is now buried in a morass of unaccountable charities, think-tanks, non-governmental organisations, pressure groups and ‘change agents’ – Cameron’s so called Big Society. The devil is in the detail of it (all).

The first revelation in the diagram is that the Prime Minister and his Chief Cabinet Office aid Francis Maude are controlled by those above. In recent weeks Head of the Civil Service, Gus o’Donnell has demonstrated that he is above our constitutional law. He has single-handedly produced the ‘Cabinet Manual’ – a so called compendium of the laws, conventions and constitutional underpinning of the UK system of government. His directives allowed Brown to remain in post after the public had voted him out at the last general election, and at the same time blocked Cameron from taking office. More recently O’Donnell was able to refuse to disclose critical information at Chilcott inquiry – just who is this man, and from where does his power come?

Closely linked to O’Donnell are Geoff Mulgan (Young Foundation) and Julia Middleton (Common Purpose). Perhaps surprisingly for true conservatives, both are spawn of the marxist based think tank Demos, and are driving a hard line socialist communitarian agenda. Aside from driving Blair’s Forward Strategy Unit, Mulgan’s plans also include the remaking of charities to suite a new political agenda. Through the Young Foundation, he is a key socialist policy driver, exerting almost guru-like influence through the spectrum of government training organisations such as the National School of Government, Institute for Government and others. He appears to have powerful and willing financial backers for his initiatives.

Happy to quote Marx in her book Beyond Authority, Middleton is desperate to change adult and children’s behaviour to create ‘new leaders’ in society. She is a personal friend of Maude, and believes that a fifth column can be used to achieve political change. Also great friends with the top international banks ranging from Deutsche Bank to the now defunct Lehman Brothers, as well as media moguls, and the rich, great and good, Julia is also happy to quote and use East German tactics of exploiting ‘useful idiots’, to achieve her political agenda. Cameron and Maude are active with both the Young Foundation and Common Purpose. Yet they are supposedly Tories?

Having exposed direct links between Common Purpose and the Cabinet Office, it came as no surprise to discover a Behavioural Change Unit within the Cabinet Office. Shown in the box at the bottom of the diagram, we feature the Director, Dr Halpen, and expose many other names that the Cabinet Press office tried to hide. Their agenda is psychological reprogramming / reframing of the British public to achieve political and social change. Their agenda is well suited to the Common Purpose model. Other significant and surprising links shown include the Young Foundation, the Franco British Council, the DEMOS Advisory Panel for Progressive Conservatism and the White House.

Most explosive in our network diagram is the powerful position of the Franco British Council (FBC), now shown to be driving British political policy, including defence (in conjunction with the Royal United Services Institute, RUSI). As a registered charity, working to political ends, FBC fits both the Mulgan and Middleton model. Much more sinister is the fact that Cameron has used FBC within 10 Downing Street to plan yet more psychological and behavioural change initiatives for the British general public – even using French President Sarkozy’s top neuro expert Prof. Olivier Ouillier.

Central to the quisling network is the public sector, such as DWP, Dept Health and Ministry of Defence, shown with logos in the centre of the diagram. Documents seen by the UK Column indicate that the staff within these departments are to be politically and socially re-framed as a priority by means of internal Behavioural Change Units. Once this process has been completed, the ‘reframed’ departments will then be better placed to run Behavioural Change programmes for the public and the wider spread of Charities, Trusts, Local Government, Local Government Training Organisations, and NGOs of the Third Sector. Highly active within this mix is the Oxford Said Business school, itself linked to Common Purpose and French NLP experts.

The Cabinet Office has already lied about contracts with Common Purpose. To date the Cabinet Office has also refused to reveal the value of the Common Purpose behavioural training received by the Top 200 Civil Servants. The press office has also totally denied the use of Neuro Linguistic Programming NLP, although we are already aware of contracts by NLP World, Coaching Leaders NLP and Life Coach NLP. Why would the Cabinet office want to lie? As a further example of the pressure to implement behavioural training, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spent some £25 million on behavioural change under the guidance of Helen Ghosh, even before setting up their Behavioural Unit. Ghosh is now Permanent Secretary of the Home Office.

So secret are the Behavioural Reframing Units that, just as with the Cabinet Office media team, the Defra press office refused to reveal to the UK Column who was in charge, how many were in the team and what their annual budget was. Welcome to Cameron’s transparency in government.
Just what is all this behavioural reframing about? Our diagram shows top right that both the public sector and the Big Society initiative are being used to change the values, behaviour and beliefs of every single member of society. Most worryingly for parents, Lord Wei has been parachuted in by Cameron to lead the Big Society. His connections and interests lie with children and he is an advisor to the Government Office for Civil Society. Only 33 years old, we wonder where his knowledge or wisdom to lead society come from? Certainly he will be well aquainted with the immensely powerful industrial military firms such as Vickers and BAE Systems that are lining up to take control of the Academy System (ARK) schools. Taking children from pre-school to 18 years old, the Academy system will include on site Children’s Services and behavioural ‘therapy’ – sounds familiar doesn’t it?

The British public – individuals and families – men, women and children are the target of the “Quisling Brainwashing Network.”  Alongside the political lies, corrupt courts, fraudulent banks and heavy-handed police, we are now to be psychologically attacked not just to obey the new political elite, but to be happy doing so. The danger is real and obvious. Talk about it, tell your friends, laugh at it, refuse to be conned, bring your MP to account. Say no! The use of psychological manipulation without your permission is assault.

Need we say more?

The Coming Shutdowns and Showdowns: What’s really at stake

[SEE: Competing Wisconsin protests draw thousands]

The Coming Shutdowns

By Robert Reich

The Coming Shutdowns and Showdowns: What’s really at stake.

isconsin is in a showdown. Washington is headed for a government shutdown.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won’t budge. He insists on delivering a knockout blow to public unions in his state (except for those, like the police, who supported his election).

In DC, House Republicans won’t budge on the $61 billion cut they pushed through last week, saying they’ll okay a temporary resolution to keep things running in Washington beyond March 4 only if it includes many of their steep cuts – among which are several that the middle class and poor depend on.

Republicans say “we’ve” been spending too much, and they’re determined to end the spending with a scorched-earth policies in the states (Republican governors in Ohio, Indiana, and New Jersey are reading similar plans to decimate public unions) and shutdowns in Washington.

There’s no doubt that government budgets are in trouble. The big lie is that the reason is excessive spending.

Public budgets are in trouble because revenues plummeted over the last two years of the Great Recession.

They’re also in trouble because of tax giveaways to the rich.

Before Wisconsin’s budget went bust, Governor Walker signed $117 million in corporate tax breaks. Wisconsin’s immediate budge shortfall is $137 million. That’s his pretext for socking it to Wisconsin’s public unions.

Nationally, you remember, Republicans demanded and received an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich. They’ve made it clear they’re intent on extending them for the next ten years, at a cost of $900 billion. They’ve also led the way on cutting the estate tax, and on protecting Wall Street private equity and hedge-fund managers whose earnings are taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent. And the last thing they’d tolerate is an increase in the top marginal tax rate on the super-rich.

Meanwhile, of course, more and more of the nation’s income and wealth has been concentrating at the top. In the late 1970s, the top 1 percent got 9 percent of total income. Now it gets more than 20 percent.

So the problem isn’t that “we’ve” been spending too much. It’s that most Americans have been getting a steadily smaller share of the nation’s total income.

At the same time, the super-rich have been contributing a steadily-declining share of their own incomes in taxes to support what the nation needs – both at the federal and at the state levels.

The coming showdowns and shutdowns must not mask what’s going on. Democrats should make sure the public understands what’s really at stake.

Yes, of course, wasteful and unnecessary spending should be cut. That means much of the defense budget, along with agricultural subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare.

But America is the richest nation in the world, and “we’ve” never been richer. There’s no reason for us to turn on our teachers, our unionized workers, our poor and needy, and our elderly. The notion that “we” can no longer afford it is claptrap.


Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including “The Work of Nations,” “Locked in the Cabinet,” “Supercapitalism” and his latest book, “AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America’s Future.” His ‘Marketplace’ commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes.

Failure To Compromise By Deadline Threatens Federal Shutdown on Mar. 4

“There is a growing danger the federal government will close down on March 4 if a compromise short-term spending deal cannot be struck.”

US shutdown looms as budget war rages

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warns that the Republican Party’s deal to slash budget by $61bn will hit the economy’s fragile recovery

President Obama has already pledged to veto the aggressive cuts
By Philip Sherwell

Fears over the strength of the US economic recovery were growing last night after a highly unusual all-night session of the Republican House of Representatives agreed to slash the federal budget by $61bn by the end of September.

The deal, thrashed out in the early hours, was immediately condemned by US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who said the cuts would hit the fragile economy.

It now appears there will be a potentially damaging stand-off between President Barack Obama and Republican leaders with a possible shut-down of the federal government if agreement cannot be reached in the next fortnight.

“The continuing resolution as passed by the House would undermine and damage our capacity to create jobs and expand the economy,” Mr Geithner said at the G20 summit in Paris yesterday.

President Obama has already pledged to veto the aggressive cuts. The proposal must now be debated by the Senate, the upper chamber of Congress, where Democrats hold a slim majority. There is a growing danger the federal government will close down on March 4 if a compromise short-term spending deal cannot be struck between the White House and two houses of Congress. Such paralysis is likely to damage US economic prospects and therefore the chances of continuing global recovery.

Mr Obama is likely to push for a budget extension freezing spending at 2010 levels while deeper cuts are negotiated. The multi-billion dollar cuts package reveals the big division between US political parties on how to support growth. Republicans say the deficit must be brought under control if America is to experience a strong recovery.

The House Speaker, John Boehner, said the legislation was part of Republican efforts “to liberate our economy from the shackles of out-of-control spending”. But Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, said the Republican-backed bill would damage the economy.

“They have made matters worse – passing a spending bill that destroys jobs, weakens the middle class, hurts schools and young adults, eliminates assistance to homeless veterans, and diminishes critical investments in our future,” she said. Republicans crushed the Democrats in November’s mid-term elections after a campaign mainly fought on government spending. Emboldened by that win and with their ranks buoyed by fiscal conservatives from the Tea Party movement, the Republicans insist cuts must be made immediately.

The vote paves the way for fiscal policy clashes up to the 2012 presidential election. Republicans have vowed to cut the size of government, a direct challenge to the Keynesian economics pursed by the White House as the US struggles with the deepest downturn since the Great Depression eight decades ago.

“The American people have spoken,” said Republican congressman Tim Huelskamp, saying that the people wanted Washington to stop its out-of-control spending now.

Congress is in recess this week after tomorrow’s President’s Day holiday, leaving five working days to forge a deal before the current budget expires on Friday, March 4.

If no compromise can be reached, the government will be forced to close – the so-called “nuclear option”. That last happened in 1995 in a budget row between President Bill Clinton and House speaker, Newt Gingrich. With several states also embroiled in battles over cuts, Wall Street is watching the current clashes over the deficit nervously.

US stocks continued their steady upward progress last week on all the major market indices. But against a backdrop of turmoil in the Middle East, the sovereign debt crisis in some European economies, stubbornly high US unemployment and now the federal and state budget showdowns in the US, some analysts are predicting a retrenchment.

The IMF has previously predicted that US gross public debt would nearly double from 62pc of GDP in 2007 to 111pc by 2015.

Lukashenko Threatens International Meddlers, “Chechnya in the West,” In Order To Survive

Tetyana Melnychuk

Russian Service of BBC, Minsk

Александр ЛукашенкоAlexander Lukashenko threatens enemies – until the words

President and Chief of the Armed Forces of Belarus has threatened its neighbors, “Chechnya in the West,” and said that he could use the army to restore order in the country.

A series of “offensive” statements, Alexander Lukashenko, made by visiting the second engineer brigade of the armed forces of Belarus.

“If the situation is turned around so that over the country were in grave danger, I would not stop before going to use the armed forces. If it was under the threat of the ten millionth people. But, thank God, we do not have to involve the army,” – said Lukashenko , speaking about developments in Belarus following the presidential elections on 19 December last year.

In the elections, according to official figures, Lukashenko has supported almost 80% of voters. However, the opposition and rival for the presidency was named the official results were falsified. In the evening on election day in central Minsk Protest protest, in which, according to various sources, participated from 25 to 40 thousand people.

The use of force against participants in peaceful protest and the subsequent mass arrests of opposition provoked condemnation from the West. EU and U.S. imposed visa sanctions against a hundred Belarusian officials, including Lukashenko and his older sons.

“Pohlesche than Kosovo”

Judging by statements made by Belarusian President Lukashenko fears that the use of sanctions may have recourse, and Russia.

I do not saber-rattling, but this stuff we have enough

Alexander Lukashenko
President of Belarus

“Now we are under pressure, scare economic sanctions. If someone wants to have in our environment in Belarus, Chechnya, the West, it is not a problem. It will be more complicated than Chechnya. I think it’s anybody is not necessary. If someone wants to have here pohlesche than Kosovo, I think this is not a problem, “- said Alexander Lukashenko, speaking to the military.

“If someone wants to try an economic war with Belarus, it will cost so dearly” – promised the head of state.

Lukashenko is sure that no one is given the right to “decide for us how to live.” “We do not want to be in Belarus, someone was talking to a position of strength and the language of ultimatums, and then never know, we will be able to respond in kind” – quoted Lukashenko’s official news agency has learned.

“I’m not to escalate the situation, a situation not in now. But if it arises, and we will act appropriately – added the President. – I do not saber-rattling, but that’s good enough for us.”

In the ring of enemies

According to analyst Alexander Klaskovsky Minsk, the Belarusian president’s offensive rhetoric primarily designed to maintain “the image of strong-arm the country.

No one can believe anyone can not rely only on themselves

Alexander Lukashenko
President of Belarus

“In the eyes of European leaders, Lukashenko is seeking to increase their bets. He demonstrates an aggressive style that, during the political bargaining with the West have the opportunity to maneuver and roll back” – notes Klaskouski.

Experts in Minsk noted that after the presidential election, Alexander Lukashenko, shows an image of “fortress surrounded by enemies.”

Arguing on the causes of the revolutionary crisis in northern Africa and the “plot” of the West against the official Minsk, Lukashenko reiterated: “No you can not believe anyone can not rely only on themselves.”

Chief of the Belarusian armed forces said, however, that “despite some difficult moments in recent years, the military cooperation between Belarus and Russia is developing successfully.”

As head of the Presidency of the CSTO, Lukashenko believes that “must be activated study the mechanism of the Organization of Collective Security Treaty in crisis situations.”

The Scout for the Imperial Revolution Sizes-Up Turkmenistan

Deputy Secretary of State Robert Blake arrives in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

 

From 14 to 19 February 2011 will be the visit of Deputy Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, according to U.S. Department of State. Mr. Blake will lead an interagency delegation and attend the annual bilateral consultations.
February 16 in Ashgabat, the Deputy Secretary of State will review the annual bilateral consultations and meet with representatives of government, business and civil society in Turkmenistan. 17-18 February, Mr. Blake will represent the U.S. side in Tashkent at the second annual bilateral consultations. Business delegation, which included representatives of leading U.S. firms, will accompany Mr. Blake on the Uzbek-American Business Forum to be held on February 18. Deputy Secretary of State will also meet with government representatives and civil society.

United States began to hold annual bilateral consultations with the countries of Central Asia in 2009, the purpose of these meetings is to discuss the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, including issues of strategic cooperation, human rights, economic issues and regional challenges.