The total acceptability of militarism extends well beyond the neoconservatives, the racists, the Republicans, the liberal humanitarian warriors, the Democrats, and the masses of political "independents" who find any talk of dismantling the U.S. military scandalous. Fredric Jameson is an otherwise leftist intellectual who's put out a book, edited by Slavoj Zizek, in which he proposes universal conscription into the military for every U.S. resident. In subsequent chapters, other purportedly leftist intellectuals critique Jameson's proposal with hardly a hint of concern at such an expansion of a machine of mass murder. Jameson adds an Epilogue in which he mentions the problem not at all.
What Jameson wants is a vision of Utopia. His book is called An American Utopia: Dual Power and the Universal Army. He wants to nationalize banks and insurance companies, seize and presumably shut down fossil fuel operations, impose draconian taxes on large corporations, abolish inheritance, create a guaranteed basic income, abolish NATO, create popular control of the media, ban rightwing propaganda, create universal Wi-Fi, make college free, pay teachers well, make healthcare free, etc.
Sounds great! Where do I sign up?
Jameson's answer is: at the Army recruiting station. To which I reply: go get yourself a different subservient order-taker willing to participate in mass murder.
Ah, but Jameson says his military won't fight any wars. Except for the wars it fights. Or something.
Utopianism is seriously much needed. But this is pathetic desperation. This is a thousand times more desperate than Ralph Nader asking the billionaires to save us. This is Clinton voters. This is Trump voters.
And this is U.S. blindness to the merits of the rest of the world. Few other countries in any way approach the militarized environmental destruction and death generated by the United States. This country lags very far behind in sustainability, peace, education, health, security, and happiness. The first step toward Utopia need not be such a harebrained scheme as a total takeover by the military. The first step should be catching up with places like Scandinavia in the realm of economics, or Costa Rica in the realm of demilitarization -- or indeed realizing full compliance with Japan's Article Nine, as mentioned in Zizek's book. (For how Scandinavia got where it is, read Viking Economics by George Lakey. It had nothing to do with forcing kids, grandparents, and peace advocates into an out of control imperial military.)
In the United States, it is the liberals in Congress who want to impose selective service on women, and who celebrate every new demographic admitted into greater status in the military. The "progressive" vision is now of slightly or radically leftist economics, side by side with a heaping platter of militarized nationalism (to the tune of $1 trillion per year) -- with the very idea of internationalism banished from consideration. The reformist view of the ever expanding American Dream is of the gradual democratization of mass murder. Bombing victims across the world may soon be able to look forward to being bombed by the first female U.S. president. Jameson's proposal is a radical advance in this same direction.
I hesitate to call attention to Jameson's book because it is so bad and this trend so insidious. But, in fact, the bits of his essay and of those critiquing it that address universal conscription, despite its centrality to Jameson's project, are few and far between. They could be contained in a small brochure. The rest of the book is a rambling assortment of observations on everything from psychoanalysis to Marxism to whatever cultural abomination Zizek just stumbled across. Much of this other material is useful or entertaining, but it stands in contrast to the apparently dim-witted acceptance of the inevitability of militarism.
Jameson is adamant that we can reject the inevitability of capitalism, and of just about anything else we see fit. "Human nature" he points out, quite rightly, does not exist. And yet, the notion that the only place where a U.S. government could ever put any serious money is the military is silently accepted for many pages and then explicitly stated as fact: "[A] civilian population -- or its government -- is unlikely to spend the tax money warfare demands on purely abstract and theoretical peacetime research."
That sounds like a description of the current U.S. government, not all governments past and future. A civilian population is unlikely as hell to accept universal permanent conscription into a military. That, not investment in peaceful industries, would be unprecedented.
Jameson, you'll notice, relies on "warfare" to motivate the power of his idea of using the military for social and political change. That makes sense, as a military is, by definition, an institution used for waging war. And yet, Jameson imagines that his military won't wage wars -- sort of -- but will for some reason go on being funded anyway -- and with a dramatic increase.
A military, Jameson maintains, is a way to compel people to mix with each other and form a community across all the usual lines of division. It's also a way to compel people to do exactly what they are ordered to do at every hour of the day and night, from what to eat to when to defecate, and to condition them to commit atrocities on command without stopping to think. That's not incidental to what a military is. Jameson hardly addresses the question of why he wants a universal military rather than, say, a universal civilian conservation corps. He describes his proposal as "the conscription of the entire population into some glorified National Guard." Could the existing National Guard be more glorified than its advertisements now depict it? It's so misleadingly glorified already that Jameson mistakenly suggests that the Guard answers only to state governments, even as Washington has sent it off to foreign wars with virtually no resistance from the states.
The United States has troops in 175 nations. Would it dramatically add to them? Expand into the remaining holdouts? Bring all the troops home? Jameson doesn't say. The United States is bombing seven nations that we know of. Would that increase or decrease? Here's all that Jameson says:
"[T]he body of eligible draftees would be increased by including everyone from sixteen to fifty, or if you prefer, sixty years of age: that is, virtually the entire adult population. [I can hear the cries of discrimination against 61 year-olds coming, can't you?] Such an unmanageable body would henceforth be incapable of waging foreign wars, let alone carrying out successful coups. In order to emphasize the universality of the process, let's add that the handicapped would all be found appropriate positions in the system, and that pacifists and conscientious objectors would be places in control of arms development, arms storage, and the like."
And that's it. Because the military would have more troops, it would be "incapable" of fighting wars. Can you imagine presenting that idea to the Pentagon? I would expect a response of "Yeeeeeeaaaah, sure, that's exactly what it would take to shut us down. Just give us a couple hundred million more troops and all will be well. We'll just do a bit of global tidying up, first, but there'll be peace in no time. Guaranteed."
And the "pacifists" and people with consciences would be assigned to work on weaponry? And they'd accept that? Millions of them? And the weaponry would be needed for the wars that wouldn't be happening any more?
Jameson, like many a well-meaning peace activist, would like the military to do the sort of stuff you see in National Guard ads: disaster relief, humanitarian aid. But the military does that only when and only as far as it's useful to its campaign to violently dominate the Earth. And doing disaster relief does not require total abject subservience. Participants in that kind of work don't have to be conditioned to kill and face death. They can be treated with the sort of respect that helps make them participants in a democratic-socialist utopia, rather than the sort of contempt that helps lead them to committing suicide outside a VA hospital admissions office.
Jameson praises the idea of "an essentially defensive war" which he attributes to Jaurès, and the importance of "discipline" which he attributes to Trotsky. Jameson likes the military, and he stresses that in his utopia the "universal military" would be the end-state, not a transition period. In that end-state, the military would take over everything else from education to healthcare.
Jameson comes close to acknowledging that there might be some people who would object to this on the grounds that the military industrial complex generates mass murder. He says that he is up against two fears: fear of the military and fear of any utopia. He then addresses the latter, dragging in Freud, Trotsky, Kant, and others to help him. He doesn't spare one word for the former. He later claims that the real reason people are resistant to the idea of using the military is because within the military people are compelled to associate with those from other social classes. (Oh the horror!)
But, fifty-six pages in, Jameson "reminds" the reader of something he hadn't previously touched on: "It is worth reminding the reader that the universal army here proposed is no longer the professional army responsible for any number of bloody and reactionary coups d'etat in recent times, whose ruthlessness and authoritarian or dictatorial mentality cannot but inspire horror and whose still vivid memory will certainly astonish anyone at the prospect of entrusting a state or an entire society to its control." But why is the new military nothing like the old one? What makes it different? How, for that matter, is it controlled at all, as it takes over power from the civilian government? Is it imagined as a direct democracy?
Then why don't we just imagine a direct democracy without the military, and work to achieve it, which seems far more likely to be done in a civilian context?
In Jameson's militarized future, he mentions -- again, as if we should have already known it -- that "everyone is trained in the use of weapons and nobody is allowed to possess them except in limited and carefully specified situations." Such as in wars? Check out this passage from Zizek's "critique" of Jameson:
"Jameson's army is, of course, a 'barred army,' an army with no wars . . . (And how would this army operate in an actual war, which is becoming more and more likely in today's multicentric world?)"
Did you catch that? Zizek claims this army will fight no wars. Then he wonders exactly how it will fight its wars. And while the U.S. military has troops and bombing campaigns underway in seven countries, and "special" forces fighting in dozens more, Zizek is worried that there might be a war someday.
And would that war be driven by weapons sales? By military provocation? By militarized culture? By hostile "diplomacy" grounded in imperialistic militarism? No, it couldn't possibly be. For one thing, none of the words involved are as fancy as "multicentric." Surely the problem -- albeit a minor and tangential one -- is that the multicentric nature of the world may start a war soon. Zizek goes on to state that, at a public event, Jameson has envisioned the means of creating his universal army in strictly Shock Doctrine terms, as an opportunistic response to a disaster or upheaval.
I agree with Jameson only on the premise with which he begins his hunt for a utopia, namely that the usual strategies are sterile or dead. But that's no reason to invent a guaranteed catastrophe and seek to impose it by the most antidemocratic means, especially when numerous other nations are already pointing the way toward a better world. The way to a progressive economic future in which the rich are taxed and the poor can prosper can only come through redirecting the unfathomable funds that are being dumped into war preparations. That Republicans and Democrats universally ignore that is no reason for Jameson to join them.
Shortly after the Democratic Party’s platform committee concluded its deliberations this July, Bernie Sanders announced: “Thanks to the millions of people across the country who got involved in the political process . . . we now have the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Even in politics, where alarming perversions too often parade as acceptable standards, it is pretty astounding for a politician to assert that inadvertent error is the reason for his failure to report receipt of gifts and other free items valued at $160,050 over a five-year period.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
ABC Television's 20/20 will air a program on Friday called "The Girl Left Behind," the main thrust of which is already apparent on ABC's website.
The horribly tragic story is that of Kayla Mueller, an American held hostage and reportedly raped and tortured by ISIS before dying -- it's unclear how, possibly at the hands of ISIS, possibly killed by bombs dropped by U.S. ally Jordan.
Another hostage who was freed reported that ISIS blamed Kayla Mueller for U.S. actions in the Middle East. Among those actions, we learned this week, was imprisoning future ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at Abu Ghraib, not just at Camp Bucca as previously reported.
Mueller, like fellow ISIS victim James Foley, meant well and was in Syria to try to help people nonviolently. But U.S. policy has made it unsafe for Americans to travel to many places.
ABC will seek to pin blame for what happened to Mueller on Doctors Without Borders. She was kidnapped out of a Doctors Without Borders car, and that organization negotiated the freedom of its employees while refusing to help Mueller or even to trust her family enough to share with them information intended for them from ISIS.
But Doctors Without Borders was in Syria to help people and appears to have meant well. Blaming the doctors is easy to overdo here, and not just because the United States has been bombing its hospitals -- acts that may not involve rape or torture, but do involve murder and maiming. The U.S. government could have helped Mueller by never having destroyed Iraq in the first place, never having sought to overthrow Syria, never having overthrown Libya, or never having flooded the region with weapons. Or the U.S. government could have negotiated with ISIS or allowed victims' families to do so -- something it now allows, too late for Kayla Mueller. Or the U.S. government could have announced new policies that ISIS would likely have accepted as ransom.
ISIS asked, in exchange for Mueller's freedom, for the freedom of Aafia Siddiqui or $5 million Euros. If the U.S. government had, instead, offered an apology to the victims of its wars and prison camps, and massive reparations to the region, ISIS might very well have responded in kind. Instead, the U.S. government proceeded to bomb people, including many civilians, for a cost many times greater than $5 million Euros.
The telling of Mueller's story is, in itself, worthwhile. But the focus on an American victim of a war that is victimizing all kinds of people fuels dangerous attitudes. Focusing on the crimes of ISIS, but not of Saudi Arabia or Bahrain or, for that matter, the United States, looks like propaganda for more war. When a New Yorker like Jeffrey Epstein rapes, nobody proposes to bomb New York, but when Baghdadi allegedly rapes, the appropriate response is widely understood to be bombing people.
I don't think the suffering of Kayla Mueller or James Foley should be used to justify the infliction of more suffering. As 9/11 victims have been used as a justification to kill hundreds of times the number of people killed on 9/11, some of the victims' relatives have pushed back. James Foley is pushing back from the grave. Posted online is a video of Foley talking about the lies that are needed to launch wars, including the manipulation of people into thinking of foreigners as less than human. Foley's killers may have thought of him as less than human. He may not have viewed them the same way.
The video shows Foley in Chicago helping the late Haskell Wexler with his film Four Days in Chicago -- a film about a protest of NATO. I was there in Chicago for the march and rally against NATO. And I met Wexler who tried unsuccessfully to find funding for a film version of my book War Is A Lie.
In the video you can watch Foley discussing the limitations of embedded reporting, the power of veteran resistance, veterans he met at Occupy, the absence of a good justification for the wars, the dehumanization needed before people can be killed, the shallowness of media coverage -- watch all of that and then try to imagine James Foley accepting the use of his killing as propaganda for more fighting.
When Foley's mother sought to ransom him, the U.S. government repeatedly threatened her with prosecution. So, instead of Foley's mother paying a relatively small amount and possibly saving her son, ISIS goes on getting its funding from oil sales and supporters in the Gulf and free weapons from, among elsewhere, the United States and its allies. And we're going to collectively spend millions, probably billions, and likely trillions of dollars furthering the cycle of violence that Foley risked his life to expose.
By Norman Solomon
While Bernie Sanders was doing a brilliant job of ripping into the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the livestreamed launch of the Our Revolution organization on Wednesday night, CNN was airing a phone interview with Hillary Clinton and MSNBC was interviewing Donald Trump’s campaign manager.
That sums up the contrast between the enduring value of the Bernie campaign and the corporate media’s fixation on the political establishment. Fortunately, Our Revolution won’t depend on mainline media. That said, the group’s debut foreshadowed not only great potential but also real pitfalls.
Even the best election campaigns aren’t really “movements.” Ideally, campaigns strengthen movements and vice versa. As Bernie has often pointed out, essential changes don’t come from Congress simply because of who has been elected; those changes depend on strong grassroots pressure for the long haul.
It’s all to the good that Our Revolution is encouraging progressives around the country to plan far ahead for effective electoral races, whether for school board, city council, state legislature or Congress. Too many progressives have treated election campaigns as impulse items, like candy bars in a checkout line.
Opportunities await for campaigns that might be well-funded much as Bernie’s presidential race was funded, from many small online donations. But except for presidential races, the politics of elections are overwhelmingly local -- and therein lies a hazard for Our Revolution.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
By Ed Adelman
Editor's Note: Official Washington’s disdain for international law – when its doing the lawbreaking – was underscored by ex-CIA acting director Morell reiterating plans for murdering Iranians and Syrians in Syria, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says.
By Ray McGovern
On Aug. 17, TV interviewer Charlie Rose gave former acting CIA Director Michael Morell a “mulligan” for an earlier wayward drive on Aug. 8 that sliced deep into the rough and even stirred up some nonviolent animals by advocating the murder of Russians and Iranians. But, alas, Morell duffed the second drive, too.
Unrepentant, always wrong, U.S. warmongers Michael O'Hanlon and David Petraeus have authored "America’s Awesome Military: And How to Make It Even Better," to explain to the rest of us that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the greatest American frack-yeah military ever AND that it is in such a pitiably weak state that if trillions more aren't wasted on it we're all going to die.
Remember, this is the same military of which a single branch has just recently misplaced $6.5 trillion. And it needs more money. Why? Because it's soooooooooo damn awesome!
In fact it's about to win the wars it's embroiled in in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Libya, but if you don't fork over trillions more it will lose badly and it'll be all your fault and the ghosts of the betrayed and sacred troops will haunt you instead of haunting the admissions offices of broken down VA hospitals.
Meanwhile Bill McKibben wants, as we've all long wanted, a "war" against the danger of climate destruction, only without taking the money out of the only place it can come from, the preparations for actual wars, and while hyping the awesomeness of the military to make sure the money stays there.
But, back to our favorite war mongers. Petraeus and O'Hanlon fill us in on the following secrets (and we didn't even have to have sex with them!):
"The United States has the best military in the world today, by far. U.S. forces have few, if any, weaknesses, and in many areas—from naval warfare to precision-strike capabilities, to airpower, to intelligence and reconnaissance, to special operations—they play in a totally different league from the militaries of other countries. Nor is this situation likely to change anytime soon, as U.S. defense spending is almost three times as large as that of the United States’ closest competitor, China, and accounts for about one-third of all global military expenditures—with another third coming from U.S. allies and partners."
This understates U.S. spending while overstating the idea that it serves some purpose other than ginning up terrorism and suffering, but you get the idea. Here comes the "nevertheless":
"Nevertheless, 15 years of war and five years of budget cuts and Washington dysfunction have taken their toll. The military is certainly neither broken nor unready for combat, but its size and resource levels are less than is advisable given the range of contemporary threats and the missions for which it has to prepare. No radical changes or major buildups are needed. But the trend of budget cuts should stop and indeed be modestly reversed, and defense appropriations should be handled more rationally and professionally than has been the case in recent years."
This is based on the lie that U.S. military spending has been decreasing. It has not. It's also based on denial of the existence of arms races and reverse arms races. Global spending follows U.S. spending up and could as easily follow it down. This is also based on denial of the U.S. role as not just far and away top spending on weaponry but also far and away top dealer of weaponry to the rest of the world, arming the hatred its own wars fuel, generating opportunities for more wars.
"Most major elements of U.S. defense policy are on reasonably solid ground, despite innumerable squabbles among experts over many of the details. Throughout the post–Cold War era, some variant of a two-war planning framework (with caveats) has enjoyed bipartisan support and should continue to do so for many years to come."
Good thing the U.S. is only in seven wars!
"Those who worry about an American military supposedly in decline should relax. The current U.S. defense budget of just over $600 billion a year exceeds the Cold War average of about $525 billion (in 2016 dollars) and greatly exceeds the pre-9/11 defense budget of some $400 billion. It is true that defense spending from 2011 through 2020 has been cut by a cumulative total of about $1 trillion (not counting reductions in war-related costs). But there were legitimate reasons for most of those reductions, and the cuts were made to a budget at a historically very high level."
Note that $1 trillion over 10 years is, in plain English, $100 billion, and in plainer English, false. Note also that the $600 billion leaves out the Department of so-called Homeland so-called Security, the Department of Energy, the State Department, the Veterans Administration, etc., etc. But why are we back to not worrying again? Can we just stop with that half of the propaganda and not switch back to fear mongering?
This week, the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced what polls it will utilize in excluding candidates from its debates.
The CPD says candidates like the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein must get 15 percent in polls conducted by “five national public opinion polling organizations” — ABC/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, and NBC/Wall Street Journal.
Not only — as several have correctly argued — is the 15 percent threshold arbitrary and exclusionary, but these polls don’t actually ask voter preferences at all.
They all ask “If the presidential election were being held today for whom would you vote?” or some minor variation of that.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
New York Times shames itself: Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange for Doing What Journalists are Supposed to Do
By Dave Lindorff
While I periodically have written commentaries dissecting and pillorying news articles in the New York Times to expose their bias, hypocrisy half-truths and lies, I generally ignore their editorials since these are overtly opinions of the management, and one expects them to display the elitist and neo-liberal perspective of the paper’s publisher and senior editors.
By Jim Hartz
We seem on the verge of arriving at our final destination, the terminus of our “voyage of discovery,” initiated by Christopher Columbus and his merry band of Bible-thumping genocidal lunatics, five centuries ago.
Like a Tyrannosaur armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and hyper-alert to an impending sense it might be on the verge of extinction, we are very dangerous, capable of anything. We would incinerate the entire universe rather than lose; we would destroy the world in order to save it. Our God must prevail. Otherwise, we don’t exist—we would be non-existent, little specks of dust blown away in the wind like Fred Dobbs’ gold dust in Treasure of the Sierre Madre.
The exhilaration we feel, the rush of adrenalin to defend our dialectically reasoned Sky God perched atop a throne of skulls at the apex of the universe, watching over our carefully stacked piles of loot down below, a mummy with a Happy Face pasted over His grimace, fills us with a sense of awe and power brimming over with a desire to defend our territory, our wealth, our sense of privilege, our gloriousness, to the bitter end.
We are the embodiment of Goodness, of Smartness, of “Compassion,” and we cannot allow the followers of a Lesser God to impede our way to complete and total victory, to Global Dominion, so we can get down to the more serious task, our real work: conquering the rest of the universe! We might be microscopic, but we think Big.
So, this is a fight to the death, and we have the weapons to “get the job done.” So, who will soon lead us at this crucial juncture in our gallant and epiphanic march to spread “democracy” to the rest of the universe: a genuine bigot; a two-faced warmonger; or a decent, intelligent good-hearted and brave human being who will do her best to put an end to this madness?
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT ASSOCIATES NONVIOLENT DEMONSTRATORS WITH “HATE GROUPS”
PATTERN OF POLICE HARASSMENT ALLEGED
By Joy First
FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 1:00 pm
Juneau County District Court
200 Oak Street
On Friday Brian Terrell will stand trial in Juneau County District Court for his part in a February 23 protest at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard facility near Camp Douglas. The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars has, for more than four years, sponsored monthly protest vigils calling attention to the Volk Field facility that trains soldiers to use remotely controlled “Shadow Drones.” These drones have been instrumental in the targeted assassination program, labelled as a war crime by many legal experts. Many military experts say that drone warfare recruits more enemies for our country than it kills.
Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, and Kathy Kelly of Chicago, both co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, were arrested by Juneau County Sheriff’s deputies on February 23, 2016, as they attempted to enter the base with a loaf of bread and a letter for the base commander. The commander has not answered several letters mailed to him by members of the Coalition in recent years, expressing their opposition to drone warfare.
I realize that, living here in the United States, the nation doing the most in the world to create wars, proliferate nukes, and destroy the habitability of the earth's climate, I really have a duty to pick someone in the United States as the worst individual human being alive.
But the United States operates by incestuous swarm. We have another Cheney running for Congress and another Clinton running for president. We have Trump's campaign manager in trouble for taking money from Russians, much of which he funneled to Hillary Clinton's campaign chair's brother. Meanwhile, Trump's daughter has been hauled before a virtual Un-American Activities Committee for vacationing with the supposed girlfriend of Vladimir Putin who may or may not have cheated on Rupert Murdoch with Tony Blair -- Yes, the same Rupert Murdoch who raises funds for Hillary Clinton, and yes, that Tony Blair -- the one whose corrupt deal with Murdoch put him in power in the first place.
These characters, including Blair, are at least honorary Americans. But Blair is something even worse than the worst of the worst of them. Blair did to the Labour Party what Bill Clinton did to the Democratic Party -- what Jeremy Corbin is trying to undo and Hillary Clinton trying to permanently entomb. Blair did to Kosovo and Afghanistan and Iraq what Clinton, Bush, and Obama did to those places. But while Bush went home to paint pictures of himself in the bathtub, Blair went on a Clintonite mission to get rich and evangelize for war and corruption.
I don't know if it's fair to hold this against him, but Blair took into wars on Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, a nation with far greater resistance to such lawless mass killing than the United States had. That is, he had people telling him openly that his actions would be criminal and reprehensible. He may now be the least popular person in Britain. He can't go outside without being protested. George W. Bush, like his daddy, in contrast, is just another respectable old retired emperor.
I do think, however, that it is perfectly fair to hold against Blair the fact that he shifted from mass killing straight into mass money making while promoting more death and destruction. Money grubbing British prime ministers from now on will know that they can become stinking rich upon retirement if they do the bidding of their corporate and foreign overlords while in office.
If you think I'm exaggerating, go watch George Galloway's new film, The Killing$ Of Tony Blair. This film tells the story of Blair's whole career, and it's ugly. He cuts a deal with Murdoch to allow media monopolies in exchange for press support. He takes money from a car racing plutocrat in exchange for allowing tobacco ads at car races. He sells out to corporations left and right. He peddles BAE jets to Indonesia for killing people in East Timor. He sells BAE air traffic control systems to Tanzania which has no air force. He simply shuts down a prosecutorial investigation of BAE's Saudi corruption in the deal that saw Bandar Bush pocket $2 billion. He privatizes schools and hospitals, anything that can make a buck for anybody who knows how to kick some back.
Blair joins with Clinton the First and then Obama in the killing in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and then shifts into former-prime-minister-now-"consultant" mode, taking millions from JP Morgan Chase, Petro Saudi, and other companies for providing his connections to other corrupt people around the world. He takes obscene speaking fees. He hires himself out to dictators in Kazakhstan, Egypt, Kuwait, and Libya. The film juxtaposes their atrocities with Blair's purchased praise of their many merits. Blair persuaded Bush to protect Gadaffi from lawsuits by alleged victims, but apparently forgot to tell Hillary not to bomb Gadaffi or get him killed.
What really wins Blair the prize of worst person on earth, though, is his acceptance of an appointment as Middle East Peace Envoy to Israel and Palestine, a job he apparently held right up until enough people realized it wasn't a fake report meant to be funny but an actual no-kidding job that he was actually engaged in.
For years and years, activists demanded that the U.S. government make public 28 (turned out to be 29) pages it had censored from a report, because it was suspected they would show a Saudi Arabian role in funding and facilitating the crimes of September 11, 2001. When the pages were finally made public, they showed a great deal of evidence of exactly that. But the U.S. government and its pet media outlets buried the story on a Friday evening, declared that verily this is that, and moved on.
If you happen to have caught wind of this and smelled a rat, you'll be interested in another 203 pages, those making up Medea Benjamin's new book, Kingdom of the Unjust. If you live in the United States, you should be aware of how much effort your government puts into facilitating and defending the crimes of Saudi Arabia in the United States, in Saudi Arabia, and in places like Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Nigeria, etc. If you pay U.S. taxes, you should know what you're buying. If you work for a U.S. weapons maker, you should know who's buying what you make, and what they're using it for. If you drive a car, you may be helping to destroy the earth's climate while funding the Saudi royalty.
The Saudi royals keep millions poor while blowing fortunes. They send religion police around to beat the hell out of people, while they themselves party with alcohol, cocaine, prostitutes, and gambling. Like many a televangelist closer to home, they don't believe their own bull, but they use it to abuse the people of Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The religious police don't just want you to be religious. In fact most religions are banned and you can be imprisoned, tortured, mutilated, or beheaded for being a follower of them. And they don't just want you to be a fundamentalist Muslim of the proper variety. They want puritanical misogynist conformity -- or death. They beat a man to death for possessing alcohol, locked up a woman for riding alone in a taxi, and killed 15 girls by refusing to allow them to flee a burning building because they were not wearing their abayas, garments to completely hide their bodies.
With U.S. support, Saudi Arabia manages to be both the only nation that bans all churches and any non-Muslim religious building, and the leading proponent of global terrorism. Saudi Arabia actually bans Jews from entering the country, perhaps inspiring Donald Trump's plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States, while still creating at least an inconvenience for U.S. humanitarian warriors who are constantly wanting to bomb new countries in order to supposedly avoid a repeat of the holocaust -- even while urging Saudi Arabia to spend more on wars (as Trump and Bernie Sanders and President Barack Obama have done most prominently). In fact, Saudi Arabia spends three times as much per person as the U.S. does on its military, and it spends the biggest chunk of it buying weapons from U.S. profiteers.
An "indefinite waiver" upheld by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama lets Saudi Arabia off the hook in the U.S. State Department for its religious cruelty. Waivers by Bush and Obama also allow the U.S. military to go on training the Saudi military. A waiver created by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton allows U.S. weapons sales. Clinton made that her personal mission after Saudi Arabia put at least $10 million into the Clinton Foundation. As the U.S. State Department was and is well aware, there are no civil liberties in Saudi Arabia. People are jailed, whipped, and killed for speech, and speech is tightly censored. Saudi Arabia didn't even ban slavery until 1962 and maintains a labor system referred to as "a culture of slavery." The "sharia law" that U.S. bigots are constantly fearing will appear in their town actually takes a truly nasty form in Saudi Arabia under a brutal government propped up by U.S. funds and arms.
MEDEA BENJAMIN AT A RALLY
Saudi Arabia doesn't put its own atrocities on Youtube the way ISIS does, and doing so is a tremendous risk for ordinary people in Saudi Arabia. Nonetheless it is starting, and there are outrages you can watch if you are so inclined.
Saudi Arabia has yet to become a target of the Clintonite cabal of philanthropic warriors claiming to overthrow governments for women's rights, yet Saudi Arabia practices gender apartheid, with women forbidden most of the rights of men, women controlled by men utterly, women's testimony in court sometimes valued at half the worth of men's, and a woman's reporting of an attack by a man is considered to be a crime by the woman. You don't see Saudi women at the Olympics because they are forbidden to wear the attire required for the competitions. Saudi restaurants have front and back sections, with the front for men only. Saudi Arabia lives off fueling cars, yet is the only country in the world where women are forbidden to drive.
Are Saudi's made happy by their sadistic society? There are many indications otherwise, including emigration, travel, courageous protest, and including this: men who practice polygamy in Saudi Arabia are four times more likely to have heart disease.
Happy or not, Saudis have been proficient at exporting their madness. Hollywood could take lessons (and has helped out). Saudi schools have helped to create branches of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups across Western Asia and Northern Africa at least since the joint U.S.-Saudi operation in Afghanistan that created the Taliban, not to mention the Saudi role in Iran-Contra, but also including Boko Haram in Nigeria, and including in Europe. The terrorists who attacked in Paris last year and in Belgium this year came from an area in Belgium with strong Saudi influence. In 2014 the Saudi Interior Ministry conservatively estimated 1,200 Saudis had gone to Syria to join ISIS. A 2014 study by the Washington Institute found that private Saudi donations were critical to the growth of ISIS.
Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a 2009 cable (thank you, WikiLeaks), "Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. . . . More needs to be done. . . ." So, what did Clinton do? Sold Saudi Arabia more weapons, of course! Saudi Arabia is now the biggest weapons customer for the United States, and therefore for anyone. That includes about $100 billion in U.S. weapons sales under the Obama regime, with more pending. Benjamin quotes Obama officials who have praised these sales as a means of creating jobs. This is of course despite the fact that peaceful spending creates more jobs, and the fact that the weapons create something else as well: death.
The United States keeps rushing more weapons to Saudi Arabia as it uses them -- with help from the U.S. military -- to bomb houses, hospitals, and schools in Yemen, killing civilians by the thousands and non-civilians by the thousands, including with the use of cluster bombs.
When Tunisia overthrew a dictatorship without a war in 2011, Saudi's royal thugs got excited. They offered refuge to the Tunisian ruler. They sent funds to Jordan and Morocco to prop up their brutal governments. They backed a military coup in Egypt. They smashed a nonviolent popular uprising in Bahrain with murder, torture, and imprisonment -- still underway. And, of course, they started bombing Yemen, once U.S. drone killings had done their damage and helped to distabilize that country. In fact, U.S. drones flying over Yemen take off from a U.S. base in Saudi Arabia, something Obama created after Bush pulled U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia and closed the bases -- a move motivated by the crimes of 9/11 and the explicit and widely available answer to the stupid lament "Why do they hate us?" They said what they hated: the U.S. bases that Bush The First had put in Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia had refused to kick them out when bin Laden demanded it because the Saudi government depends on the United States to maintain its unjust existence.
Obama, who recreated this fuel for violence, and who claims to be outraged by Saudi Arabia's atrocities, claims to back Saudi Arabia for the cause of "stability." "Sometimes," says Obama, "we have to balance our need to speak to them about human rights issues with immediate concerns that we have in terms of countering terrorism or dealing with regional stability." Yet Saudi Arabia is possibly the biggest cause (outside of the United States itself) of instability in its region, al Qaeda and ISIS are wreaking havoc within Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi government itself is about as stable as a cork in a volcano. To Obama's credit, he hardly ever means anything he says, and in fact he has backed down on holding Saudi Arabia to account when the Saudis have threatened to pull investments out of the United States, not when they have somehow appeared to be a source of stability and safety.
Still, some would take offense when a foreign government and its elites backed terrorism in your country (on 9/11) and then threatened to hurt you financially if you even said anything about it. But why doesn't anyone say anything about it? In 2015, according to The Hill, the Saudis employed eight DC lobbying firms including the Podesta Group, run by top Hillary Clinton fundraiser Tony Podesta, and cofounded by Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Saudi Arabia dumps money into U.S. "think tanks" that would be forbidden to exist in Saudi Arabia, and other institutions including the Middle East Institute, Harvard, Yale, the Clinton Foundation, the Carter Center, etc.
For a further 275 Saudi Pages try Robert Vitalis's America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier. But start with Medea Benjamin's 203, which even includes some thoughts on what can be done moving forward. Saudi Arabia's oil, plus all the fossil fuels from everywhere else, is going to make Saudi Arabia uninhabitable long before much of the United States becomes so. Really looking forward, I think, means looking at the future of over 30 million refugees and our capacity to understand the society they are fleeing, our own role in creating it, and our responsibility to welcome them.
Photo by Thomas Good.
It's not hard to do. You can probably accomplish it at home quite easily. In These Times just published an article, for example, that calls Veterans For Peace, United National Antiwar Coalition, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Seymour Hersh, Gareth Porter, Kathy Kelly, Counterpunch, Consortiumnews, Antiwar.com, and many more, including me supporters of Bashar al Assad.
How did I win this honor? I spent years denouncing war making by all parties in Syria. I wrote article and books questioning the hypocrisy that held Assad to have been a good torturer when he was working for the United States but a bad torturer now. I severely criticized my fellow peace activists when some of them cheered for Russian bombings in Syria. I even went after Russia for its warmaking in Syria repeatedly on Russian television. I wrote not one article or blog post and gave not one speech defending Assad's atrocities in any way, shape, or form. That record ought to have been enough, I suppose, to get me accused of supporting Assad and Putin. No good deed goes unpunished and all that.
But I also made the truly fateful mistake of trying to accommodate the "You're an Assad lover" crowd. Someone named Andy Berman sent me nasty messages with that false accusation. I proposed that he write down exactly what he thought I had been so nefariously censoring. He did. And I published it with my own response afterwards but with not a word or a comma edited. Here was an attempt at civil discourse over an issue that has divided peace activists, and what did it get me?
Andy Berman's wife, Terry Burke, is listed as the author of the attack piece for In These Times accusing me of all the same tired old lies. She didn't contact me. No editor, if In These Times has those, contacted me. There's no quote or paraphrase of anything I supposedly said. Instead, there's a denunciation of having been a speaker at a rally. But, as I would have pointed out if asked, I wasn't at the rally at all or within 500 miles of it. It was, however, a rally that I had helped promote before it happened. Burke might have looked at those promotions, rather than at what someone showed up at the rally waving, in order to figure out what I was for or against.
Clearly that would have been too much to ask. Others became Assad lovers on even less basis. Some were denounced for having gone to Syria and met with Assad. I interviewed someone who went on that trip and asked her whether they had confronted Assad with his crimes. You can listen to the response on my website. Clearly Burke didn't bother to even contact the people she libeled. But most of those condemned as Assadites by In These Times are so condemned on no stated basis whatsoever.
Now this is getting very tiresome after all of these years of it, and a couple of dangers loom ahead for activists who can't seem to graduate from preschool mentalities. The fact is, of course, as many of us are sick to death of having to explain, that denouncing the war making by all parties in Syria does not put you in the camp of cheering for whichever party somebody else has chosen as the Bad Guy.
If the United States and Russia escalate a joint bombing campaign in Syria, things will go from very bad to even worse for those not killed in the process. Will those who have thus far believed that bombing by only one of those parties or the other is evil come to grips with the evil in bombing conducted by the pair of them?
And if Hillary Clinton launches a greatly escalated effort to overthrow the Syrian government by bombing campaign, will those who oppose that criminal catastrophe have to listen to more chants of "Assad lover!" "Assad lover!" Does criticizing Hillary Clinton about anything win one the accusation of "privilege" anyway? As if living in one of the countries she doesn't want to bomb isn't a huge privilege for all of us!
This was my response to Berman's article:
Thank you to Andy Berman for giving me and Code Pink a bit of credit in this article. I think more credit is do more groups and individuals. In particular, I think the public pressure in the U.S., UK, and elsewhere that stopped a massive U.S. bombing campaign of Syria in 2013 deserves a great deal of credit and far from being an example of a peace movement that has completely failed constitutes the most noteworthy success for peace of recent years. Of course it was incomplete. Of course the U.S. went ahead with arming and training and bombing on a much smaller scale. Of course Russia joined in, killing even more Syrians with its bombs than the United States was doing, and it was indeed deeply disturbing to see U.S. peace activists cheer for that. Of course the Syrian government went on with its bombings and other crimes, and of course it’s disturbing that some refuse to criticize those horrors, just as it’s disturbing that others refuse to criticize the U.S. or Russian horrors or both, or refuse to criticize Saudi Arabia or Turkey or Iran or Israel.
All of this selectivity in moral outrage breeds suspicion and cynicism, so that when I criticize U.S. bombing I’m immediately accused of cheering for Syrian bombing. And when I read an article like this one that makes no mention of the 2013 bombing plan, no mention of Hillary Clinton’s desired “no fly zone,” no mention of her position that failure to massively bomb in 2013 was a mistake, etc., I have to struggle not to wonder why. Then when it comes to what we ought to do about this war, I’d love to have seen some acknowledgment that the party that has repeatedly blocked exactly what is proposed in point #5 (a negotiated settlement) has been the United States, including rejecting a Russian proposal in 2012 that included Assad stepping down — rejected because the U.S. preferred a violent overthrow and believed it was imminent.
I would also like to have seen greater recognition that people usually have the most influence over their own governments, as opposed to over the governments of others. I think one also has to have a view of U.S. imperialism to explain U.S. actions in Syria, including its failure to condemn Russian cluster bombs and incendiary bombs while U.S. cluster bombs are falling in Yemen, and while Fallujah is newly under siege. One has to have an understanding of Iraq and Libya to know where ISIS and its weapons and much of the weaponry of other fighters in Syria come from, as well as to understand the conflicted U.S. policy that can’t choose between attacking the Syrian government or its enemies and that has resulted in CIA and DOD trained troops fighting each other. I also think a negotiated settlement has to include an arms embargo and that the greatest resistance to that comes from the greatest arms dealer. But I think the broader point here, that we should oppose and be aware of and work to end war, regardless of who is doing it, is the right one. And I think part of making that work will be both including a comprehensive list of criticisms of all parties in any mention we make of a conflict, and giving each other the benefit of the doubt rather than making accusing each other our top priority.
Coleen Rowley added this comment to my response:
"A good place for Berman to look to regain some of his own dignity would be to stop pushing for U.S. “regime change” in Syria and elsewhere. When he parroted the official pre-condition for any peace negotiations that “Assad must go,” and when he constantly promoted speakers and writers, even neocon groups, engaged in the bloody effort to topple the Syrian government, they essentially doomed Syria to continuing and worsening war and the destabilizing vacuum that allowed ISIS to grow. From the start, Berman sided with speakers who advised not to worry about the al Qaeda presence among the “rebels” but to focus only on toppling the Syrian government. In any event, here is an article that Margaret Safrajoy and I co-wrote in December 2014 when this sick hypocrisy had become so painfully clear: https://consortiumnews.com/2014/12/25/selling-peace-groups-on-us-led-wars/
"Another sign of Berman’s constant pushing for more US military intervention on the side of the “rebels” (which includes jihadists aligned with Al Qaeda) can be seen in his social media posts encouraging people to contact members of Congress to support HR 5732, the “Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act.” The bill would be great if it actually would serve to protect civilians but in actuality, it increases sanctions against Syria and requires the U.S. President to present proposals regarding the establishment of safe zones and a no-fly zone as U.S. policy options in Syria. (“No fly zone” being a code used by “humanitarian war hawks” for bombing a country to smithereens if you recall what happened to Libya.)
"(Naturally) MN Rep Ellison who supported the previously announced plan to bomb Syria in 2013 (and I think even supported the earlier US-NATO bombing of Libya) is one of 17 co-sponsors of H.R 5237, which bill was introduced by Israel’s best friend, Eliot Engel, with uber-hawk Ros-Lehtinen another co-sponsor."
Judy Bello (pictured) is on the Administrative Committee of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) and is a founding member of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. In the previous decade she has traveled with Peace Delegations to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria. She has just returned from a fact finding mission in Syria with a delegation from the U.S. Peace Council.
Gar Alperovitz has had a distinguished career as a historian, political economist, activist, writer, and government official. He's been a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, and is a former Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University and Harvard’s Institute of Politics. He is the author of critically acclaimed books on the atomic bomb and atomic diplomacy. Alperovitz has served as a legislative director in both houses of Congress and as a special assistant in the State Department. He is also the president of the National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives and is a co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative and co-chair of the Next System Project. And he will be speaking at No War 2016, a conference we are organizing in September in Washington DC through World Beyond War. See worldbeyondwar.org.
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Here is a concise summary of the major weak points of Hillary Clinton which can cause a drop in her poll numbers:
Hillary Clinton is the candidate of Wall Streets banks, characterized by financial mismanagement, theft and fraud. She is the candidate of companies ready to outsource more jobs abroad in low-wage countries. She is the candidate of overpaid corporate CEOs and managers who enrich themselves at the expense of company employees and shareholders. In general she is the candidate of powerful special interest groups who influence legislative and government policy to seek benefits and privileges often contrary to the national interest. Bill and Hillary speaking and consulting fees are a testament of the deep-rooted, enduring relationship between the Clintons and the corporate world. In a short period of time the Clintons have become multimilionaires.
Hillary Clinton advocated war, regime change and toppling governments in Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. causing death, destruction, migration and the rise of the Islamic State. If elected President, Hillary Clinton will raise tensions with Russia to a dangerous level. She will establish no-fly zones and arm Syrian rebels who aim to overthrow Assad, thus creating the risk of a US military confrontation with Russia. She will assist, finance and maybe arm the Ukrainian government in its struggle against its Eastern Russian speaking population which is supported by Putin. She will promote the NATO troop and missile deployment in Eastern Europe near the Russia border. Conflicts with Russia would be a calamity for the US military which is strained, if not demoralized, after so many years of wars and sacrifices. On top of this, her policies will divert resources that are instead needed to defeat Islamic State.
It looks like Hillary Clinton was able to weather the Benghazi and private emails scandals with an helping hand by her friends, unless there are new revelations and the disclosing of the 30,000 deleted emails. But the Clinton Foundation remains an open issue that deserve an intense public scrutiny. Calls must be renewed of an official investigation of the foundation including a speeding resolution of the IRS inquiry. According to a recent Bloomberg poll 'more than half said that the Clinton Foundation’s acceptance of foreign contributions while she was secretary of state bothers them a lot.’ In addition to the shady, unethical and maybe illegal fundraising activities, the Clinton Foundation must be held accountable for how the donated money was spent. How much of that money was allocated to the needy and how much was pocketed by Bill, Hillary and their cronies to pay for high salaries, pricey meetings, luxury travel expenses, etc? The majority of voters regard Hillary as dishonest and untrustworthy.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the following people and entities would like the United States to begin a nuclear war: Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the U.K., France, Japan, South Korea, and Germany. If any of those people or entities believe they can prove a case of libel, it might be a huge one. (Are you listening, Rupert?)
According to Mr. Murdoch's newspaper, the White House has been discussing the possibility of declaring that the United States no longer has a policy of engaging in the first use of nuclear bombs. The trouble is that those individuals and nations named above object. They insist, we are told, that the United States should have the policy of beginning a nuclear war.
Have the people of the UK, France, Japan, South Korea, Germany, or the United States itself been polled on this? Has any legislature pretending to represent any of those populations voted on this? Of course not. But what we could do, perhaps, is amend the policy to read: "When the United States begins the nuclear war, it shall announce that it is doing so in the name of democracy." That should be good.
Has Mr. Kerry, Mr. Carter, or Mr. Moniz been evaluated by a psychiatrist? Was Mr. Kerry against this before he was for it? The important question, I believe, is whether they want to start the nuclear war with any hatred or bigotry in mind. If what they intend is a loving, tolerant, and multicultural nuclear war, then really what we ought to be worrying about is the unfathomable evil of Donald Trump who has said that he'd like to kill families -- and particular types of families.
Now, I am not claiming to have fathomed the evil of Mr. Trump, but it has been U.S. policy since before there was a United States to kill families. And it is my strong suspicion that a nuclear war and the nuclear winter and nuclear famine it would bring to the earth would harm at least some families of every existing type.
The non-nuclear nations of this off-its-axis planet have been moving forward on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. That sort of strong and sane proposal could have something to do with the White House interest in advancing something as weak as a statement of no longer planning to be the first to start the apocalypse. But you can see the logic of the profiteers quite clearly. The same White House has laid out a plan to dump a trillion dollars in the coming years into building smaller, more "usable," nukes. If the United States commits to not using them first, as other nuclear nations have already done, and if that commitment becomes universal, well, then nobody will ever use them, and at some point in the 23rd century it might occur to some bureaucrat that if nobody's ever going to use them, it might not be the best use of unfathomable levels of spending to keep building them, and then where would we be?
But, not to worry, the Wall Street Journal and a pair of aspiring politicians have got you covered, because "a decision by Mr. Obama to press ahead with the declaration appears unlikely in his remaining months, given the controversy it would stir in the midst of a presidential election." If you believe Mr. Obama is against controversy in the election, I've got an argument for the deterrent value of nuclear weapons to sell you. If Hillary Clinton were against first-use, so would Obama be. But she isn't. Neither is His Huckstership, the Republican nominee.
Opening presidential election debates to include Jill Stein would create the controversy on this and other issues that Mr. Murdoch and his fellow media overlords would prefer to avoid. And Obama would find himself on the same side of that controversy as anyone else who has completely and utterly lost all sense of human decency.
There is a long history of anti-war and peace activism. Much of this activism has focused on ending a particular war. Some of this activism has been directed at ending a particular aspect of war, such as the use of a type of weapon. Some of it has aimed to prevent a type of war, such as 'aggressive war' or nuclear war. For those activists who regard war as the scourge of human existence, however, 'the holy grail' has always been much deeper: to end war.