Reagan’s Rotten Legacy Shatters in Egypt

The political crisis sweeping the Middle East is another part of Ronald Reagan’s dark legacy that is shattering into chaos even as the United States prepares to lavishly celebrate his 100th birthday.

Upon taking office in 1981, Reagan turned the United States onto a new course, away from Jimmy Carter’s intensive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and toward tolerance of the Likud strategy of expanding settlements on the West Bank and lashing out at Israel’s enemies in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories.

This Reagan-Likud cooperation also affected politics and media inside the United States. In the early 1980s, with Reagan’s assistance and blessings, a group of articulate operatives known as neoconservatives emerged as a powerful political/media force. Their dual role was to buttress U.S. support for the security interests of Israel and to rebuild a consensus around the U.S. global agenda, which had been shattered by the Vietnam War.

The neocons – through their work inside the Reagan administration and in key parts of the U.S. news media, such as The New Republic and the Washington Post’s opinion section – became, in essence, the arbiters of Washington’s conventional wisdom, setting the parameters of acceptable debate.

Even before the days of Fox News, their voices were prominent on the TV talk shows, the likes of Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes and William Kristol, or as publishers of influential opinion journals, such as Martin Peretz, Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz.

As the Reagan era advanced in the 1980s, journalists and politicians who showed skepticism about U.S. foreign policy — the sort of attitude that had been common in the 1970s — were dismissed as “blame America firsters,” a phrase coined by Reagan’s UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Skeptics who continued to insist on challenging the Reagan/neocon propaganda saw their careers damaged or destroyed.

More malleable journalists ensured their status in the well-paying world of Washington media by bending to the prevailing winds. Many politicians did the same, recognizing the trouble they could get into by crossing Reagan’s team and its ideological heirs.

Reagan’s Middle East policy shifts — and the influence of the neocons — created space for Israel’s Likudniks to pay lip service to granting Palestinians a homeland while systematically encroaching onto more and more Palestinian land, a process that Likud called “changing the facts on the ground.” The expanding settlements essentially killed chances for a viable Palestinian state.

Reagan’s approach, in effect, turned the Middle East into a political pressure cooker with the Arab “street” steaming over the humiliations of the Palestinians and furious over the timidity of bought-off Arab leaders.

As the pressure built – with occasional outbursts of Muslim outrage, including acts of terrorism – Washington’s desire for “stability” required ever more repression. The Reagan administration stepped up security assistance to the region’s dictators.

Leading to Invasion

The cumulative effect of Reagan’s tough-guy legacy – and the neocons’ climb to the top of Washington’s opinion hierarchy – paved the way for George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq with remarkably little resistance from the U.S. media/political elite.

The Iraq invasion represented the fulfillment of the idea that American force could bring into line Muslim governments that resisted U.S. dictates or that threatened Israel.

In the heady days after Saddam Hussein was knocked from power, the neocons joked about whether to turn next to Syria or Iran. The thinking went that once those nation-state targets were neutralized Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas would have no choice but to beg for peace on whatever terms Israel deigned to offer.

However, events didn’t work out quite the way the neocons had diagrammed. After the initial victory in Iraq, the war went badly. The dreams of imposing pro-U.S./pro-Israeli regimes in Syria and Iran had to be deferred. Indeed, the U.S. ouster of Sunni leader Saddam Hussein in Iraq ended up increasing the relative power of Shiite-ruled Iran.

Closer to Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas – rather than pleading for mercy – grew stronger, while pro-U.S. dictators in places like Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Jordan grew more unpopular. Many Egyptians sharply criticized President Hosni Mubarak for standing aside while Israel’s military pummeled Gaza in a brutal campaign in late 2008 and early 2009.

Meanwhile, the global financial collapse that marked the end of Bush’s Reagan-redux presidency added more steam to the Middle East pressure cooker, which was getting ready to blow. The only question was when.

The explosion started with a popular uprising in Tunisia, where the longtime dictator Ben Ali resigned and fled into exile. The popular revolt soon spread to Egypt, the most populous Arab country.

There, massive street demonstrations forced Mubarak to agree not to seek reelection, though protesters have kept up their demands that he leave immediately. Monarchies in Jordan and Saudi Arabia were shaken, too.

So, even as a lavish celebration is readied for Reagan’s 100th birthday — including a special act of homage to the late president at the Super Bowl — the Middle East is becoming just the latest part of his legacy to come undone.

The region now appears to be careening toward potentially bloody upheavals and possibly future war, especially if Israel with its high-tech weapons (and nuclear arsenal) fears its survival is threatened.

A Different Narrative

Things could have been very different if Reagan had not succeeded in wresting the White House from Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Carter was pushing a starkly different approach to the region, pressuring Israel to surrender Arab lands conquered in 1967 in exchange for peace agreements with its neighbors.

In 1978, Carter secured the first step in this peace process, the Camp David Accords in which Israel’s Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin agreed to return the Sinai to Egypt in a peace deal.

However, Begin was furious, feeling that Carter had bullied him into accepting the arrangement. Beyond that resentment, Begin feared that Carter would use his second term to push Israel into accepting a Palestinian state on West Bank lands that Likud considered part of Israel’s divinely granted territory.

Former Mossad and Foreign Ministry official David Kimche described Begin’s fury in the 1991 book, The Last Option.

Kimche wrote that Israeli officials had gotten wind of “collusion” between Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat “to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Kimche continued, “This plan – prepared behind Israel’s back and without her knowledge – must rank as a unique attempt in United States’s diplomatic history of short-changing a friend and ally by deceit and manipulation.”

However, Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, “he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.”

In his 1992 memoir, Profits of War, Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli military intelligence officer who worked with Likud, agreed that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt.

“Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David,” Ben-Menashe wrote. “As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israel’s back.”

So, in order to buy time for Israel to move more Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carter’s reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.

The evidence is now clear that Begin found that new partnership with Ronald Reagan and his foreign policy team. Begin would do what he could to help Reagan defeat Carter in 1980, finally sliencing Carter’s incessant nagging.

Though Carter may not have understood his predicament, his position was even more precarious because he had made other powerful enemies, including the CIA’s “Old Boys” network. His CIA director, Stansfield Turner, had reined in their operations and cashiered some of their leaders, the likes of Ted Shackley who left the operations directorate and went to work for the campaign of former CIA Director George H.W. Bush.

In the Republican primaries, Bush competed with Reagan for the nomination but ultimately accepted the second spot on the GOP ticket, bringing along Shackley and a host of other disgruntled CIA veterans who were itching for payback against Jimmy Carter.

Carter’s human rights lectures also had riled America’s right-wing and anti-communist allies, especially after the brutal Shah of Iran was driven from power by a popular uprising in late 1978 only to get replaced by the similarly brutal Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Carter was viewed as a bumbling do-gooder who needed to be shown the door for the good of the Western world. Reagan, a former B-movie actor, may not have been the optimal replacement, but he was surrounded by Republican national security experts, including Bush, who knew their way around the global chessboard.

‘CIA Within the CIA’

In 1990, looking back on those events, legendary CIA officer Miles Copeland told me that “the CIA within the CIA” – the inner-most circle of powerful intelligence figures who felt they understood best the strategic needs of the United States – believed Carter and his naïve faith in American democratic ideals represented a grave threat to the nation.

“Carter really believed in all the principles that we talk about in the West,” Copeland said, shaking his mane of white hair. “As smart as Carter is, he did believe in Mom, apple pie and the corner drug store. And those things that are good in America are good everywhere else. …

“Carter, I say, was not a stupid man,” Copeland said, adding that Carter had an even worse flaw: “He was a principled man.”

The anti-Carter sentiments of “the CIA within the CIA” and Begin’s Likudniks appeared to stem from their genuine beliefs that they needed to protect what they regarded as vital interests of their respective countries. The CIA Old Boys thought they understood the true strategic needs of the United States – and Likud believed fervently in a “Greater Israel.”

Both groups saw Carter as a dangerous threat.

But the lingering mystery of Campaign 1980 is whether these two groups followed their strongly held feelings into a secret operation in league with Republicans to prevent Carter from gaining the release of 52 U.S. hostages then held in Iran and thus torpedoing his reelection hopes.

Carter’s inability to resolve that hostage crisis did set the stage for Reagan’s landslide victory in November 1980 as American voters reacted to the long-running hostage humiliation by turning to a candidate they believed would be a tougher player vis-à-vis America’s enemies.

Reagan’s macho image was reinforced when the Iranians released the hostages immediately after he was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 1981, ending the 444-day standoff.

The coincidence of timing, which Reagan’s supporters cited as proof that foreign enemies feared the new president, gave momentum to Reagan’s larger agenda, including sweeping tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy, reduced government regulation of corporations, and renewed reliance on fossil fuels. (Carter’s solar panels were removed from the White House roof.)

Reagan’s victory also was great news for CIA cold-warriors who were rewarded with the choice of World War II spymaster (and dedicated cold-warrior) William Casey to be CIA director.

Casey then purged CIA analysts who were detecting a declining Soviet Union that desired détente. He replaced them with people like the young and ambitious Robert Gates, who agreed that the Soviets were on the march and that the United States needed a massive military expansion to counter them.

Casey also embraced old-time CIA swashbuckling in Third World countries and took pleasure in misleading or berating members of Congress when they insisted on the CIA oversight that had been forced on President Gerald Ford and had been accepted by President Carter. To Casey, CIA oversight became a game of hide-and-seek.

Time for Expansion

As for Israel, Begin was pleased to find the Reagan administration far less demanding about peace deals with the Arabs, giving Israel time to expand its West Bank settlements.

Reagan and his team also acquiesced to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, a drive north that expelled the Palestine Liberation Organization but also led to the slaughters at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Israel’s Lebanon invasion eventually drew U.S. troops into the Lebanese civil war, with 241 getting killed by a suicide bombing on Oct. 23, 1983.

Behind the scenes, Reagan also gave a green light to Israeli weapons shipments to Iran (which was fighting a war with Israel’s greater enemy, Iraq). The weapons sales helped Israel rebuild its network of contacts inside Iran while creating large profits which helped finance West Bank settlements.

In another significant move, Reagan credentialed a new generation of pro-Israeli American ideologues known as the neocons. That paid big dividends for Israel as these bright operatives fought for Likud’s interests both inside the U.S. government and through their opinion-leading roles in the major American news media.

In other words, if the disgruntled CIA Old Boys and the determined Likudniks did participate in the so-called October Surprise scheme to sabotage Carter’s Iran-hostage negotiations and thus seal his doom, they surely got much of what they wanted.

Yet, while motive is an important element in solving a mystery, it does not constitute proof by itself. What must be examined is whether there is evidence that the motive was acted upon, whether Begin’s government and disaffected CIA officers covertly assisted the Reagan campaign in contacting Iranian officials to thwart Carter’s hostage negotiations.

This evidence is strong though perhaps not ironclad. A well-supported narrative does exist describing how the October Surprise scheme may have occurred with the help of CIA personnel, Begin’s government, some right-wing intelligence figures in Europe, and a handful of other powerbrokers in the United States. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “CIA/Likud Sinking of Jimmy Carter” or Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

It’s also clear that Reagan – after becoming president – did nothing to retaliate against Iran for the hostage-taking and instead rewarded Khomeini’s regime by secretly approving Israeli arms shipments to Iran. That hidden reality became apparent to some U.S. government officials after one of Israel’s supply planes crashed just inside Soviet territory on July 18, 1981.

In a PBS interview nearly a decade later, Nicholas Veliotes, Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, said he looked into the incident by talking to top administration officials who insisted that the State Department issue misleading guidance to the press.

“It was clear to me after my conversations with people on high that indeed we had agreed that the Israelis could transship to Iran some American-origin military equipment,” Veliotes said.

In checking out the Israeli flight, Veliotes came to believe that the Reagan camp’s dealings with Iran dated back to before the 1980 election.

“It seems to have started in earnest in the period probably prior to the election of 1980, as the Israelis had identified who would become the new players in the national security area in the Reagan administration,” Veliotes said. “And I understand some contacts were made at that time.”

If the October Surprise narrative is true, then Reagan’s Iran-Contra arms deals in 1984-86 would have been essentially a sequel, not a stand-alone story, with Iran getting more weapons in exchange for its help in freeing other American hostages then held in Lebanon.

Yet, whatever one thinks of the October Surprise story – whether you believe that the Republicans sabotaged President Carter or not – there can be little doubt that the shattering events of that period propelled the Middle East down a course that changed the region’s history – and has today left the world at another dangerous crossroads.

A three-decade epoch was begun with the neocons and the Reaganites emerging as the dominant forces in Washington; with stepped-up security protecting autocratic Arab leaders from the angry “street”; with Shiite-ruled Iran supplying militant Muslim organizations to undercut the mostly Sunni autocrats and to pressure Israel; and with Likud and its vision of a Greater Israel guaranteeing little sustainable progress toward a Palestinian state.

It was an epoch that Ronald Reagan and his foreign policy team helped launched in 1980-81; it was an epoch that Jimmy Carter’s second term might have prevented; and it is an epoch that may be collapsing into violence and disorder now.

[For more on these topics, see Robert Parry’s Lost History andSecrecy & Privilege, which are now available with Neck Deep, in a three-book set for the discount price of only $29. For details, click here.]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

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Sarkozy’s Little Nazi plan thrown out by French senate

Sarkozy’s ‘Nazi themed’ immigration plan thrown out by French senate

From ANI

London, Feb 5(ANI): French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans for one of the toughest immigration laws in Europe has been thrown out by lawmakers, with one likening it to the Vichy regime in France that collaborated with the Nazis.

French MPs had approved the law last year to strip people or their French nationality if they had been citizens for less than ten years and threatened the police.

The proposed rules would also have seen immigrants expelled if they were an ‘unreasonable’ strain on the welfare state or guilty of ‘aggressive begging’.

The law presented by then-Immigration Minister Eric Besson had Sarkozy’s full backing, but members of French senate rejected the law by an overwhelming 182 votes to 156.

“It was the Vichy regime of occupied France which invented denaturalization,” the Daily Mail quoted Nathalie Goulet, as saying during the debate.

Goulet told how members of her own family were stripped of their nationality in 1941 before being sent to Auschwitz.

David Assouline, a Socialist said: “The National Front party has made proposals for a similar law, which would create two categories of French citizens.”

The rejection of the law has been hailed as a “victory over inhumanity” by French immigrants’ rights.
Copyright Asian News International/DailyIndia.com

Sabotage of Egypt to Israel Gas Line

[Israel is in for one bumpy ride.  Evidently, from their meddling to stir-up shit in the Arab world, that is just what they wanted.]

‘Terrorists’ Attack Egypt-Israel Gas Pipeline

Sam Kiley, security editor in Jerusalem

Egyptian officials blamed “terrorists” for an explosion which tore into a gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel and Jordan, and sent flames towering into the sky near the Gaza Strip.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The governor of the region, Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, said he suspected “sabotage”, but provided no details.

State television quoted an official as saying that the “situation is very dangerous and explosions were continuing from one spot to another” along the pipeline.

The blast came as a two-week-old popular uprising has engulfed Cairo and Alexandria.

Last week, Egypt reinforced the Sinai peninsular with two battalions of troops to protect tourists at Red Sea resorts and to support police who continue to help Israel maintain the long standing siege on Gaza, home to a million Palestinians.

Israel has a 15-year contract to import gas from Egypt worth billions – but the deal, signed in 2008, has been unpopular with many Egyptians.

The fire after the explosion could be seen 44 miles awayThe massive fire following the explosion could be seen from 44 miles away

Last week, the main Egyptian shareholder in pipeline company EMG, Hussein Salem, was reported to have fled Cairo on one of 19 private jets which carried wealthy Egyptians to Dubai.

The Sinai Peninsula, home to Bedouin tribesmen, has been the scene of clashes between residents and security forces because tribesmen complain that they are missing out on development opportunities.

The explosion went off early Saturday at a gas terminal in the northern Sinai town of el-Arish, several hundred yards away from the local airport.

Mr Mabrouk told Egypt’s Nile News TV that the fire was brought under control by mid-morning, after valves allowing the flow of gas from the terminal into pipelines were shut off.

At this stage, the gas supply to Israel was stopped according to procedure in emergency scenarios

Chen Ben Lulu, spokesman for Israel’s infrastructure ministry

The pipeline attacked was carrying gas to Jordan but Israel temporarily shut down, officials said, as “a precaution”.

Jordan said gas supplies from Egypt were expected to remain halted for a week until the pipeline was repaired.

A Jordanian energy source said the kingdom had switched power generating stations to burning fuel oil and diesel as a precaution, after the cut-off of the Egyptian supply.

The blaze shooting vertically in the air was visible from rooftops of homes next to the Gaza-Egypt border, about 44 miles away.

The pipelines transport gas from Egypt’s Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to Israel and Jordan and supplies about 25% of the gas used to generate Israel’s electrical power.

The explosion and fire occurred near pipelines to Israel and JordanThe fire occurred near gas branch lines to Jordan and Israel

“At this stage, the gas supply to Israel was stopped according to procedure in emergency scenarios,” Chen Ben Lulu, spokesman of Israel’s Infrastructure Ministry, said.

“We are not sure what caused the explosion.”

If the explosion is the result of terrorism it comes as Israelis watch events anxiously in Cairo where a change of regime, many believe, could undermine Israel’s 30-year peace treaty with the Jewish state’s neighbour.

Last week, dozens of alleged Hamas activists held in Egyptian jails escaped amid the chaos and are believed to have made their way back into Gaza through secret smuggling tunnels.

Some may have stayed behind to embarrass the embattled Egyptian government.

America Is A Police State–and We Don’t Even Know It

[Jack Douglas really hits a home run in his descriptions of the layers of the secret police state.  His concluding statement is just as “spot-on,” pointing-out the inevitability of a future American rebellion against the corruption of the state.  There is no denying the fact that the People will try to overthrow the State in the near future.  Whenever it becomes obvious to the masses that our government’s war is far more important than our lives, saving our homes, our families and our communities here in the Homeland, then Americans will either take to the streets, or to the hills (with their personal arsenals).  Whether we choose to defend ourselves with signs or with guns will be determined by how long it takes to agitate us to that breaking point.

That is the exact reason why peace activists, such as myself, have been telling everyone who would listen, that we must make the revolution happen sooner, rather than later.  The longer the powers that be can forestall our revolution, the bloodier ours will surely be.]

Egypt, Like Its U.S. Model, Is a Totalitarian Secret and Indirect Police State

Dr. Jack Douglas, PhD.
Vast numbers of American tourists pour into Egypt, mostly into Cairo, every year to see the incredible pyramids and the other historical wonders and beauties of Egypt. They are generally intrigued by the friendly people who speak pretty good English within the tourist enclave of Egyptian society, the world of taxi drivers, hotels, restaurants, and the historical sites. 

They sometimes get a glimpse of the vast Lower Depths of Egyptian society, the tens of millions of very poor people living literally on the margin of subsistence, commonly about $2 a day for a typical family earned each day. But few seem to realize that Egypt is one of the most terrible police states in the world.

The vastly secret Interior ministry, which to Americans sounds like a benevolent department of government running national parks, is said to have about one and a half million people spying on Egyptians and everyone else and “maintaining law and order” by ordinary policing, torture, and murder. And the Egyptian “siloviki” [Russian for all the present and former members of the secret security forces working together] are far more omnipresent and unseen.

It is these “plainclothes” secret police who pose as gang members to beat and disappear anyone who protests too loudly, as they did in these current revolutionary eruptions.

Tourists would almost never realize the “thugs” beating young protestors are really professional secret police like the FBI, CIA, ATF, DEA, etc., etc. Once in a while the American secret police get caught on camera attacking and even murdering young people, even women and children, as happened at Waco, Texas Siege of 1993, when U.S. president Bill Clinton and his Attorney General, Janet Reno, sent them in with heavy arms, including tanks belching fire to set the building on fire to burn the women and children alive. But these brutal attacks by the secret police are far more common in Egypt and most of the other puppet regime tyrannies in the Middle East built up by the U.S. over many decades to protect Big Oil interests.

Egypt looks like a pretty free society, since people can come and go and taxi drivers seem to talk freely, if not often about the secret police or Mubarak’s totalitarian tyranny. It seems on the surface to be in that way an “open society.” But it is a society with a smiling, partially open surface behind which lurks a vast tyranny of the government and oligarchs made “secure” by the vast secret police who may be literally anywhere and everywhere, but not seen, blending into the everyday life more than Soviet KGB agents commonly did in their much more limited numbers inside the USSR borders.

The totalitarian police state of Egypt is largely built on the U.S. Model of Secret-Systemic Totalitarianism. In some ways it is less totalitarian than the U.S. and in some ways it is more so.

There are always variations around the Prime Model of Totalitarianism at any time, as we saw in all of the Marxist-Socialist-Communist states from the USSR to China and North Korea and Cuba and so on.

Egypt has a large prison population, but Prison Nation U.S.A. is the extreme Prison Nation when you look at all of the massive juvenile prisons, halfway houses, house arrest, drug knock downs, psychiatric wards and drug-controls, parole, probation, investigation, arraignment, trials, sentences, imprisonments, jailings, and so on. But Egypt has more systematic and blatant torture chambers, so much so that the U.S. has used them to do U.S. torturing in many instances [such as CIA “Renditions”]. The U.S. tortures prisoners more by using drugs, putting weak prisoners in with strong homosexual rapists, etc., to hide its tortures far better.

All of these totalitarian systems, as I have shown over decades, watch each other closely for ways to better hide their totalitarian powers, secret police, failings, tortures, etc., and to learn new, more effective techniques of deceiving and lying in the Media without getting caught, torturing to inflict maximum pain with the least visible wounds and the best data, etc. They copy each other when it seems useful, just  like any professionals in any occupation.

TOTALITARIAN SECRET POLICE ARE AMONG THE BIGGEST PROFESSIONS IN THE MODERN WORLD AND THEY USE ALL THE EFFECTIVE DEVICES OF PROFESSIONALISM, INCLUDING JOURNALS, RESEARCH, ETC.

Egypt has obviously followed the U.S. Model far more than the U.S. has followed their newer and far less professional and scientific model of totalitarian research and work.

But the U.S. has recently been rushing under Obama’s Party regime to get control of the internet and all means of communications for the day when the slaves revolt and in doing so they are apparently following in Egypt’s footsteps, though I think the basic research and plans for total MEDIA CONTROLS IN EMERGENCIES LIKE SLAVE REVOLTS were developed in the U.S. earlier. The U.S. plans were exposed to the slaves and that created Public Relations (PR) problems, so they have been searching for “New Rationalizations” to deceive the slaves.

The Egyptians put it into effect more quietly and easily, and are using those plans and technical methods right now. The U.S. pros are there watching to learn how to do it better and acting as secret consultants for the Egyptian secret police and Army psyops [psychological operations] and cyber-warriors. Count on it. That’s how real pros work.

As I  have also argued for decades, the U.S. text books and Media present absurdly extreme ideas to Americans about what “totalitarianism” is.

They pretend a society is only a totalitarian police state when the police spy directly on everyone, including children on parents in the home, and are always invading homes and hauling people off for torture because they say “evil things” about the regime or Big Brother. Even Albania and East Germany could not achieve that extreme! The great majority of Germans were more free from secret police observation and controls than most Americans are today. The Gestapo had very limited manpower and none of the massive, secret electronic spying the U.S. sixteen secret police armies at the federal level alone use to spy on our communications and analyze them with A.I. [Artificial Intelligence] software to find “dangerous” things.

A far smaller percentage of the German population was in the open-air concentration camps than Americans in the concrete and steel dungeons and they used almost no drugs to knock people down or silence them. [The six million people murdered in secret death camps were almost all in top secret camps abroad and the people who were killed were from a huge part of Europe and from specific groups–Jews mostly, homosexuals, gypsies, mentally retarded….] The American torture and death camps are also mostly done abroad to “enemies.”

ALMOST ALL OF THE  MODERN TOTALITARIAN POLICE STATES TODAY RELY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ON THE MOST INDIRECT AND MOST EFFECTIVE MEANS OF SPYING, TORTURING, IMPRISONING, AND MURDERING WHICH THEY CAN DEVELOP WITH SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH.

The U.S. found long ago that taxation hurts less and is less resisted if it is “withheld” before the “donor” receives the money. They learned also that using inflation, by pouring out more paper dollars for the same amount of economic transactions, is the most indirect, least seen, least understood form of taxation. And having The Fed [Federal Reserve or central bank of U.S.] set interest rates to drain money from savers like old people to give it to the very rich in the Big Banks and other Big Corps. and Hedge Fund speculators, etc., is almost never understood by ordinary Americans, so the government has gone to more and more indirect ways of taxing and expropriating from one group to give to another. The same is true of central planning. If you massively plan the lives of people in detail, as Gosplan did to a large degree in the USSR in the early days of the Stalinist high tyranny, they get mad as hell and revolt.

So the government moved more and more to using “indicative central planning” by which the government plans and controls general indices and activities which create a general, wrap-around situation of choice of the citizens. They get to choose, but only within the context set by the government and its vast legal and regulatory agencies, so they wind up choosing only from the alternatives which the government approves of—plans and controls by determining the wrap-around situations.

The U.S. has the most vast spying and secret police system in the history of the world. Most of the spying is done indirectly and very secretly by the NSA [National Security Agency] and all of the other fifteen known federal secret police armies. The NSA spies on the U.S. and the entire world through vast systems using all of the media known to mankind, from billions of telephone intercepts every day to spy satellites circling the globe to listening devices under the oceans to drone TV and plane radar and radio interception to massive internet and other print surveys, including secret surveys and analyses of all major financial transactions.

Even vast armies of  government workers who do not look like secret police feed masses of personal, supposedly private data into this immense system of U.S. Omni-Spying. Internal Revenue and overt police date of all kinds feed into this System. The vast “private” security cameras now placed almost everywhere in our stores, schools, hospitals, apartments, and streets are almost instantly available to the Omni-Spying System of the U.S.

NO SOCIETY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD HAS BEEN SECRETLY, INDIRECTLY SPIED ON TO THE VAST DEGREE AMERICANS ARE SPIED ON BY THE FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.

As any data search worker can tell you, there is almost nothing about Americans in print, sound, or videos that is not easily accessed and surveyed and used to control you directly or indirectly.

NO SOCIETY IN HISTORY HAS HAD SUCH AN IMMENSE PROPORTION OF ITS POPULATION INVOLVED IN PROFESSIONAL SECRET POLICE AND OVERT POLICE AND CONTROLLERS OF ALL KINDS AT THE FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL LEVELS.

A few states infamous for their direct totalitarianism, such as Albania and East Germany and North Korea, may at times have had a greater proportion of civilian, part-time spies in neighborhoods, but the U.S. relies overwhelmingly on the far more indirect, secret Omni-Spying of the NSA and other secret armies of professionals.

I AND MANY OTHER PEOPLE HAVE BEEN WRITING ABOUT THIS RAPID GROWTH OF THE OMNI-SPYING AND INDIRECT, WRAP-AROUND TOTALITARIAN SYSTEM OF THE U.S. SECRET POLICE STATE FOR DECADES.

Almost all intelligent academics, scientists, intellectuals, journalists, and higher level government workers know about it in some vague way, just as was true in Nazi Germany, the communist USSR, and other societies. But they  have almost all chosen to play deaf and dumb and blind and stupid to what is happening because anyone who deals with it in major public settings is “banished” by the modern disappearance from the System, which can be devastating to one’s life in all ways. Some pretend we need this System for our own safety and well being, but that is as insane as shooting yourself in the head to save yourself from a sore foot.

This vast, growing central planning and control of American lives directly and indirectly by all possible means, including the immense spying and secret police activities, have distorted our society more and more, pushed us into vast inflationary-deflationary Booms and Busts, and is now destroying the foundations of our economy and more and more of  our lives. The inflation-deflation cycles obscure the fact that we are trending down faster and faster in all basic ways, from education and science and technology to jobs, incomes, and health. The Fed is quietly rigging the whole system of paper money, finance, and credit to move incomes away from the middle classes to the very rich—the Oligarchs.

People are suffering more and more across a growing spectrum of life and are getting more and more depressed, anxious, and enraged. We seem clearly to be in a Great Crisis produced by the government planning, controls, and expropriating money by the Fed to build the immense wealth of the Oligarchy. We are trapped in the spiral downward that led to the crash and implosion of the Soviet Global Empire, except that we are suffering far greater Bubbles of inflation which are very destructive. Since the Republicrat Party controls the laws to prevent the emergence of an independent political reform party, just as the Soviets and Egyptians did but in different ways, the “reforms” of the System even in this Great Crisis are absurd charades which will only make things worse.

It seems very clear that at some point the U.S. will face the same kind of mass revolt of the people we  have seen in the USSR, Egypt, and many other societies in recent decades.


* Dr. Jack D. Douglas is professor emeritus of sociology at University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

As Tahrir Square goes so goes the Middle East?

As Tahrir Square goes so goes the Middle East?

Franklin Lamb


Beirut


It is difficult to overstate the potential for Egyptian citizens advancing universal aspirations for freedom, dignity and basic human rights now spreading from the determination of those who for more than a week have risked their lives while inspiring much of the World at Cairo’s Tahrir (“Liberation”) Square.  Tahrir public plaza near central Cairo has been the traditional site for numerous major protests and demonstrations over the years, including during the 1977 Egyptian Bread Riots and the March 2003 protests against the American war in Iraq. Washington DC and Tel Aviv are reportedly shocked by the rapidly unfolding and unpredictable revolution.

One can  quickly recall a long list of geographic place names that are indelibly etched in the annals of humanity’s quest for freedom and whose very geographical place name connotes resistance to aggression,  oppression, occupation and tyranny.   Names like Le Place de la Resistance, Tiananmen Square, the Gdansk Shipyards, Bunker Hill, Iran’s Azadi Square, Bogside, Martyr’s Square, Karbala, Aita Shaab, among scores of others.  Tahrir Square has become a name symbolizing every people’s willingness, indeed insistence, to make personal, potentially life taking, sacrifices to achieve freedom from an illegitimate, corrupt, brutal, treasonous dictatorship or from occupiers or aggressors.

Less than one week after few outside Egypt had heard of  or much less could locate on a blank map of Cairo,  “Tahrir Square” the World now  realizes it as the epicenter of the Middle East’s unfolding and unpredictable earthquake event.  The Tahrir Square uprising has led to one Arab diplomat, currently posted to Beirut, observing yesterday: “If there were to be an Arab League meeting this week attended by all the Arab Heads to State, an honest participant might suggest to the assembled potentates to look to their right and then look to their left and realize that in perhaps 24 months close one third may not be attending subsequent Arab League summits.

The Tahrir uprising may, following a cursory examination, appear unconnected with much outside the Egyptian publics urgent longings to escape poverty, unemployment, lack of educational opportunities,  caused by decades of regime economic mismanagement, police brutality and government torture chambers, and pervasive corruption that has seeped into nearly every aspect of Egyptian life. But increasingly it appears that other forces are influencing recent events as noted below.

The eyes, hope and solidarity of  much of the Middle East are on Tahrir Square and the bloodied but unbowed Egyptian people,  who, old and young,  religious and secular, illiterates and lettered,  paupers  and moneyed, all of whom today, following upon the glow of a  spontaneous intifada in the cradle of civilization stand to win or lose so much for the region.

As the Mubarak regime plots a path for the beleaguered President to stay in power  it is employing the well tested bromide of  most despots including citing the need for stability, orderly transition, prevention of religious fanatics and  extremists from taking over and the need for  fighting “terrorism.” The pro-Mubarak Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabah is claiming that Hamas is behind much of the instigation to violence in Tahriri Square and other areas of the country.

Not buying all of these scare tactics,  the Obama Administration’s is revving up its “now means three days ago and counting” demands.  Mr .Mubarak told CNN on 2/3/11 that he’s fed up and  would like nothing better than to step down but chaos and the Muslim Brotherhood would surely follow. His closest political confident and  just appointed Vice-President Omar Suleiman also predicted chaos if Mr Mubarak resigned, saying it would leave a body without a head. The White House is still leaning toward Omar Suleiman but believes that  Suleiman was aware of the  campaign in recent days to intimidate the opposition, and are staffers are wondering whether he is still an  acceptable choice. Late word from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is that the Obama Administration may support  Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who has joined anti-Mubarak protests in Tahrir Square, and is hinting he may run for president in the upcoming election. Israel would support him over Mohammad al Baradei  who many view as pro-Iranian.

Still, the Mubarak regime is not without supporters. Former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer has defended Egyptian President Hosni Mubrak, saying his collapse will be  a “tremendous loss” for Israel. The former army general praised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for supporting Israel for thirty years, Israel’s Arutz Shevanewspaper reported.  “When I watched his speech in which he said he would step down, it pained me to see his collapse,” Ben-Eliezer said on 2/2/11 about Mubarak.

Both Washington and Tel Aviv are were reported shocked by the speed of  the Egyptian revolt and their intelligences agencies admit not seeing it coming. Much of the American reaction is being scripted by AIPAC and other Israel lobby agents who regularly contribute campaign cash to 90 percent of the  US Congress , including  390 of  the 435 Members of the House of Representative ( 89.7%)  who voted to support Israel after it committed repeatedly condemned  serial murders of innocent civilians and myriad crimes against humanity in Gaza. These Israeli-pushed “American”  initiatives will likely range from possibly terminating aid to Lebanon ( some Obama Administration friends of Israel claim there is a  a link between the  South Beirut Hezbollah neighborhood of Dahiyeh and Cairo’s Tahir Square events ) and cutting off  Egypt’s  nearly 30 years of annual multi-billion dollar cash grants as well as massive military hardware.

The US-Israel imperative appears designed to immediately regain control and co-opt the Tahrir uprising  and quickly channel  the uprising into a political cul de sac until Egypt can be returned to “normal”, meaning US-Israel shared hegemony.

What will ultimately determine  in which ways the Middle East moves following Tahrir Square events is not the armed might of the regional super power or the weapons of the global superpower. Both Israel and the US can have a short term impact but the former is shaking  while the latter, equally impotent to subdue 83 million Egyptians and perhaps soon millions of Palestinians, Jordanians, Yemenis and others, is trying to stall any major regime change in favor of  cosmetic adjustments to the current government. Even the Obama Administrations current public choice, Omar Sulieman is meeting with increasing resistance in Washington as details of his CV emerged including being a torture specialist and possibly a Mossad agent.

What  both Israel and the US  fear most is a determined and successful grass roots movement than will liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation. The Obama administration can be expected to continue  to temporize events as best it can while calculating how to insert its choice of a compliant President in Mubarak’s palace. As one Congressional commented by email: “ The last thing the White House or Israel want is an Egyptian Chavez, or even someone like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Completely unacceptable would be anyone with even the hint of pro-Iranian or Hezbollah leanings.  The  State Department favors another strong man, with an essentially rubber stamp Parliament after “free elections” as long as there are no  troublesome Algerian, Gaza, or Lebanon style  election results. The US-Israel bottom line is that Egypt’s next government must be one that  will  guarantee that the 1979  Camp David Accords and Egypt’s willingness to  continue accepting a total of more than three billions in US taxpayer dollars annually as bribe money to collaborate with Israel against Palestine.

History is filled with ironies. One of them is the coincidence that two of the fundamental causes of the unfolding Egyptian revolution happened within months of each other both 30 years ago— soon to be followed by the beginning of the current Mubarak dictatorship—the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the US sponsored Camp David Accord. The Camp David giveaway and cave-in to colonialist Israel was never accepted by the Egyptian people, by the Islamic Republic, or by any but a small percentage of the people of the Middle East.

The hegemonic objectives of  the 1979 Camp David have rolled across the region for three decades, being  rejected and increasingly confronted by a growing culture of Resistance set in motion with the 1979 Imam Khomeini-led revolution.  Both 1979 events fueled myriad other more immediate causes  including those noted above and significantly inspired the current  Egyptian  eruptions, some of  the paths of which are predictable while the  results are unknown.

There are many other Tahrir Squares in the Middle East. One of which is  Al Aksa square in Jerusalem,  the eternal and indivisible capital of Palestine. It remains to be seen when or if Palestinians will revive Jerusalem as a  modern day resistance place name and whether like Tahrir Square, Egypt, Jerusalem will rise up in support of increasing cries for Palestinian liberation as the inspiration and revolution of  their neighbors in Tahrir Square spreads.

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