You are hereBlogs

Blogs


What Next in Syria?

 

What Next in Syria?

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

A war of words accompanies conflict on the ground. On August 14, Reuters headlined "Assad's rule disintegrating, ex PM says after defecting," saying:

 

Former prime minister Riad Hijab claims Assad "controls less than a third of Syria and his power is crumbling."

Join Us in Charlotte to Stop the Crimes of Our Government

Early in September, Obama and the Democrats, who have carried forward some of the very crimes so hated under Bush, will gather at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC to affirm, bless, and continue US aggression around the world and unjust policies at home.

If you believed that wars of aggression, indefinite detention, torture, drone bombings, a presidential “kill list,” the outrageous suspension of core civil liberties, and the wars on immigrants and women were wrong under Bush, then they are just as wrong under Obama.

TSA hassles pilot, calls cops

A Southwest Airlines pilot had a run-in with the TSA in Manchester, New Hampshire the other day. 

Democracies Don't Start Wars, But Fake Democracies Sure Do!

 

 

By Dave Lindorff


We’ve all heard it said by our teachers when we were in school, we’ve all heard it said by politicians, including presidents: “Democracies don’t start wars.”


TSA: Why get your bits groped when you can just row up with a warhead? by Amy Alkon

The 58,401 Stooges (aka TSA employees) are so busy pretending to administer security that they fail to actually do it. In New York, a jet-skier, stranded in Jamaica Bay, swam to shore and easily breached all the supposed security they have between the Bay and the terminal.

READ THE REST AT TSA NEWS.

War Without Mercy in Syria

 

War Without Mercy in Syria

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

If wars had labels, Syria's conflict would be called Made in America. 

 

Paul Wolfowitz and other Project for the New American Century (PNAC) ideologues planned it years ago. They also targeted half a dozen or more other countries.

Goldman Sachs Free to Keep Stealing

 

Goldman Sachs Free to Keep Stealing

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Goldman again got off scot-free. On August 9, the Justice Department dropped criminal fraud charges. Evidence the equivalent of enough firepower to sink a carrier battle group was buried and forgotten. More on what happened below.

 

What if the Empire Project Fails in Syria?

By Michael Collins

Al Jazeera's weekend coverage of the critical battle for Aleppo, Syria reveals a major obstacle for the United States-NATO Empire Project. Hardly anyone in Aleppo is signing up to fight with rebels.

Syrian rebels get limited support in Aleppo, Al Jazeera, August 11

Reporter Anita McNaught: "[The rebels] know they have to win if the revolution is to succeed but Aleppo was slow to demonstrate any widespread support for the opposition." The reticence was due to fear of Syria's intelligence service a local claimed.

McNaught followed up: "Why now, when the Free Syrian Army was so quickly consolidating its hold, were its ranks not being swelled by volunteers from the city?"

One of the rebels (gesturing in image) responded: "They are afraid of the situation now. It's new to them. It's not like the countryside all around here which has had time to get used to the fighting."  Trauma requires practice.

NBC's Celebrity Warriors: "They barely survived the first week!"

If you sat through the two-hour debut of NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes" on Monday, you heard the promotion for next week's show: "They barely survived the first week!"  And you thought to yourself: "Uh, no, that was me."

What intolerable filth!  In this "reality" show, "celebrities" we've mostly never heard of are paired off with current or former members of the U.S. military to "play" at "missions reminiscent of counterinsurgencies that have taken place all over the world."  It's war for fun.  This sport has all the excitement of golf, but without the same level of danger.  Nobody "barely survived."  Nobody killed anybody.  Nobody's suffering moral anguish from what they've seen and done.  Nobody's lost any limbs.  And nobody's a suicide risk, with the possible exception of the producer.

Just prior to the show's debut, nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates, not including the one whose "counterinsurgencies" the show reenacts, released a statement demanding the show's removal from the air:

"Real war is down in the dirt deadly.  People -- military and civilians -- die in ways that are anything but entertaining.  Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence.  War, whether relatively short-lived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome – if ever.  Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public."

In other words, we're dealing here with the crime of war propaganda, not for any particular war, but for the normalization of eternal war on the borders of the empire. 

A crowd protested the show at NBC headquarters in New York on Monday evening, chanting "Shame, Shame, War is not a Game," and delivering a petition bearing thousands of signatures.

The show's first episode opened with co-host and retired general Wesley Clark claiming that soldiers sacrifice for the rest of us.  Dean Cain, an actor who played Superman, remarks that he had never before had to "be a superhero for real."  Numerous other voices go on and on about soldiers' heroism, claiming that they "do this" "for our freedom."  But the "this" turns out to be a game that the contestants describe themselves as "playing."

One of the military "operatives" paired with a celebrity brags about having killed 160 people.  That split-second comment is the only appearance in the two-hour marathon of the enemies or victims of war.  One celebrity asks their partner if he's ever killed anyone, and he replies, "We don't talk about that."  Neither does NBC.  The people whom U.S. troops slaughter in our one-sided occupations or wars are never brought up.

The episode involved training for a mission and then performing the mission as a contest with four people on each team.  The "mission" was to "infiltrate a hostile encampment."  This meant that they had to ride in a helicopter, jump in a lake, climb in a boat, pretend to be shot at by "enemies" not actually shooting or appearing, blow up a guard tower with no guard in it, shoot human-sized paper targets, wade through mud, locate a box of ammunition and move it into a building, and blow up the building by pushing a button.

This stupidity is chock full of exclamations and commentary about real bullets and real explosives that are really real.  It may be the noise of their own voices that prevents anyone involved from discovering that they aren't actually shooting at anyone and no one is actually shooting at them.

Kicking in doors is a big focus of the mission.  This ought to inform thoughtful viewers about what "battlefields" look like in "counter insurgencies."  Our wars are fought in people's homes.  But when these celebrities and the tough guys they worship kick in doors there are no screaming children behind them.  This act of terrorism is transformed into an act of athletic accomplishment.  Blowing up a poor person's house is transformed into an act of special effects, creating a gigantic explosion with the push of a button while being lifted on a rope tied to a helicopter.  When, at the end of the show, it is time to eliminate the worst warrior from future programs, the two worst warmakers thus far pair off in a contest that involves kicking in a door, entering a room, and shooting a bunch of humanoid targets in the head.  I wonder which missions that is reminiscent of.

Muhammad Ali famously remarked, when refusing to participate in war: "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. . . .  No Viet Cong ever called me nigger."  His daughter Laila Ali is a Stars Earn Stripes celebrity contestant blissfully unconcerned about whether or not she has a quarrel with the people who theoretically might inhabit the buildings she's shooting up.  War lovers must feel some satisfaction in having brought Ali's daughter into the fold, along with the late football star and soldier Pat Tillman, who had turned against our wars but for whose charity one of the Stars Earn Stripes celebrities is competing.  When one of the celebrities lies, "I know there's a chance I could die," one imagines he must have in mind friendly fire.  Like Tillman, he would die with no enemy present.  To make the show seem dangerous, the producers show one celebrity, Dolvett Quince, having trouble swimming.

The losing team in each mission/sporting event loses by completing the mission with the slowest time.  Yet the show itself is almost unbearably slow, repetitive (literally replaying the same little snippets of "action"), and so packed with commercial breaks that it's hard to imagine people waiting through them voluntarily.  But the whole thing is a commercial for war, the business of 49% NBC owner General Electric.  No matter how small the audience for this slime, it is likely to be disproportionately made up of young people contemplating enlistment.  And what a massive and deadly lie this show is to them!

These celebrities are unlikely to suffer PTSD or to die in the most common way in which actual members of the military die (suicide).  There's no fear, no horror, no revulsion, no moral crisis.  Asked what their biggest concerns are prior to their "mission" they say things like "how high the helicopter will fly."  This is beyond promoting war as a hell that is somehow necessary as a last resort.  This is war as exciting sport with no moral component, no killing, no dying, no downside.  Now we don't have to be sociopaths to support the military as a jobs program; we can be patrons of the arts (or the sports anyway).

At one point, one of the celebrities, Eve Torres, in tears, says that she appreciates those who do such difficult stunts "every day" as their job. "We do this for fun," she says.  Yet, when her heroes practice these extreme sports they do so with real victims in real nations, generating real enemies.  NBC doesn't include that complication.  Nowhere in Stars Earn Stripes do we hear about the list of countries that Wesley Clark said the Pentagon wanted to attack and overthrow right after 9-11: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.  And of course we are not told what he said the motivation for those attacks would be, namely trying to look strong and to dominate the globe.  Clark was outraged to learn that "the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments, it's not to deter conflict; we're going to have to invade countries, and you know my mind was spinning; they wanted us to destabilize the Middle East . . . . They could hardly wait to finish Iraq so that they could move into Syria."  Clark was talking then about the same sort of people who are running the U.S. military now.

Stars Earn Strips could have gone differently.  Imagine if the "mission" were to put out a fire or rescue people from a storm.  Or the mission could have been to save our atmosphere.  Or how about a mission to see who is fastest at building the fastest and most energy efficient trains?  Or . . . anything useful in any way!

The excitement (such as it is) of NBC's "reality show" lies precisely in its being "reminiscent" of war, and not of some beneficial project.  And yet it is not war.  And it may be doomed to low ratings.  If it were war, however, its ratings wouldn't necessarily rise.  Americans don't want to see families slaughtered, children mutilated, whole regions of the world ruined for human life, refugees struggling to survive, cluster bombs and depleted uranium killing for generations.  What's fun about that?

If NBC would like to show the uglier side of war, we've provided resources to get them started at http://StarsEarnStripes.org

Big Peace Gathering in New York State August 17-18

The 14th Annual Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference will be held in upstate New York on August 17-18, 2012.

Speakers including Thomas Gumbleton, Kathy Kelly, John Horgan, Clare Grady, David Swanson, Matt Southworth, Walt Chura, and James Ricks will address the topic of revolutionary love.

Learn more: http://kateripeaceconference.org/2012Conference/2012-conference

Racial profiling by TSA

After repeated reports about racial and ethnic profiling by the TSA, from the “Mexicutioners” of Honolulu to the “Mexican hunters” of Newark, not to mention countless personal reports by passengers, finally we have a front-page story in the New York Times about this practice. And finally we have TSA employees themselves blowing the whistle. 

READ THE REST AT TSA NEWS.

Drumbeat for War on Iran

 

Drumbeat for War on Iran

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Haaretz knows better. Still it misreports on Iran. On August 12, its editorial headlined "Netanyahu's dangerous demagoguery on Iran" saying:

 

"Iranian nuclear weapons are a threat to Israel - but its leaders' demagoguery is just as dangerous."

Paul Ryan's Socially Destructive Agenda

 

Paul Ryan's Socially Destructive Agenda 

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Ryan and other Republican House Budget Committee members call it "The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal."

 

Batten Down the Hatches: Israel Likely to Strike Iran Before November

Israel’s ‘Bomb Iran’ Timetable

August 12, 2012

Editor Note: As the clock ticks down to the U.S. elections in November, another clock is ticking in Israel. There is increasing evidence that Israel's leaders plan to get hostilities going with Iran in the coming weeks, in the expectation that Obama will have no alternative but to commit U.S. forces to support Israel.

By Ray McGovern

More Washington insiders are coming to the conclusion that Israel’s leaders are planning to attack Iran before the U.S. election in November in the expectation that American forces will be drawn in. There is widespread recognition that, without U.S. military involvement, an Israeli attack would be highly risky and, at best, only marginally successful.

Iran War Weekly - August 12, 2012

Iran War Weekly

August 12, 2012

Hello All – Negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program remain suspended, as the US-led opposition to Iran focuses on the effect of sanctions (economic war) on Iran and the possibility that the sanctions will coerce Iran to modify it negotiating positions.  The good/useful reading linked below includes several essays on the devastating and (often) hidden impact of sanctions on ordinary people.

Taking It Out on the Kids (Again): US Sanctions on Iran are Hurting the Young and the Sick

The latest from ThisCantBeHappening.net


Taking It Out on the Kids:

US Sanctions on Iran are Hurting the Young and the Sick


Austerity Hastens Economic Decline

 

Austerity Hastens Economic Decline

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Obama and other Western leaders face Depression conditions. Roosevelt addressed them in the 1930s. Imagine how austerity then would have imposed greater hardships.

 

Instead Americans got Social Security, homeowners loan refinancing, and moratoriums on foreclosures. Small farmers were helped unlike current subsidies earmarked for agribusiness. 

Bahrain's War on Freedom

 

Bahrain's War on Freedom

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

In February 2011, major protests erupted. Bahrainis challenged despotic rule nonviolently. Daily they protest. Police state harshness confronts them. 

 

At issue is King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa's regime. Bahrainis want popularly elected leadership replacing him.

 

What Paul Ryan Has and Obama Wants

According to the Huffington Post, "President Barack Obama's reelection campaign and Democratic political groups have been eager for Romney to pick Ryan, the architect of plans to slash government spending and overhaul entitlement programs that Democrats believe are political losers."  ABC agrees: "The selection of  Ryan as running mate makes it far more likely that Medicare, Social Security, and dramatic spending cuts will be as central to the campaign conversation this fall as jobs and the economy. Adding some of those famed political third rails into the mix is not just a potential risk Romney is willing to take, it is also clearly a potential risk he felt he had to take."

So, cutting Medicare and Social Security are unpopular, and Obama benefits from Romney's risky move in picking a runningmate willing to cut them.  That's the story.

Now, however, read this from the New York Times: "The news media have played a crucial role in Mr. Obama’s career, helping to make him a national star not long after he had been an anonymous state legislator. As president, however, he has come to believe the news media have had a role in frustrating his ambitions to change the terms of the country’s political discussion. He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security, while Republicans oppose almost any tax increase to reduce the deficit."

So Obama too is willing to take the political risk of cutting the popular programs called Medicare and Social Security.  In fact, what Obama wants is not to protect these programs from cuts, but rather to receive appropriate credit from the media corporations for his willingness to cut them.  This, we are about to be told endlessly, is in stark contrast to Romney-Ryan's willingness to cut Medicare and Social Security.  But the biggest contrast seems to be that the media gives Romney and Ryan the credit that Obama covets.

Oh no, Obama supporters will reply, there's a big difference.  Romney wants to cut these programs, while Obama is willing to cut them. Romney is evil, while Obama is noble and gracious in his appeasing of evil.  I'm sorry, but won't the catfood that grandma lives on taste as bitter regardless of whether her income was removed maliciously or accommodatingly?

Oh, but Romney-and-Ryan want to cut more than Obama wants to cut. 

Are you sure?  RR need only triple their demand for Obama to double his.  The longer the debate goes on, the more old people Obama wants to starve to demonstrate his willingness to accommodate.  In fact, exactly how many old people starve -- whether Iranians living under sanctions or Americans living under austerity -- is hardly relevant.  The important thing is to have gone further toward meeting RR's demand than RR went toward meeting yours. 

But what about the demand of the majority of the country that Social Security and Medicare be expanded rather than cut?  What about the popularity of lifting the cap on payroll taxes, lowering the retirement age, and expanding Medicare to include us all?  Will that agenda be advanced by cheering for a compromiser over an unapologetic crapitalist?

Of course not.  What would move both of these reprehensible candidates away from deeper cuts to decent programs, and toward deeper cuts in the war machine, the fossil fuel funding, the bankster bailouts, and the "Bush" tax cuts is an independent movement that makes its minimum demand an absolute bar on any cuts to Social Security or Medicare whatsoever. 

If you don't soon see progressive groups advancing that demand, expect bad times ahead, regardless of who wins the world's worst reality drama.

Unconscionable Media Warmongering

 

Unconscionable Media Warmongering

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Washington needs media support to wage wars and plan new ones. Broadcast and print scoundrels oblige. 

 

Paid liars infest Western media. Managed news misinformation creates enemies. Fear is stoked. War is cheerled, glorified, and sanitized to suppress truths too grim to report.

 

Israel's Neoliberal Hammer Strikes

 

Israel's Neoliberal Hammer Strikes

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

In America and across Europe, austerity is official policy. It's also true in Israel. 

 

Among developed countries, America, Britain, and Israel are the most socially unjust. Street protests rail against public policy. Favored corporations and rich elites alone benefit. Most Jews suffer, Israeli Arabs most of all.

Lies, Damn Lies, and War Lies

Prepared remarks for Veterans For Peace Convention 2012.
Prepared to follow remarks by Nicolas "Sandy" Davies
Convention theme: "Liberating the Americas: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean"
Remarks theme: "U.S. Military Expansion since the End of the Cold War"
Accompanying powerpoint:  
http://warisacrime.org/downloads/misleading2.pptx

At my house I can see a hill out the window, and a house on it.  And if I go to that house, I can see another house on the next hill.  The first house is Thomas Jefferson's, and the second James Monroe's.  Jefferson's record is quite mixed, not just as the slave owner for equality and freedom, but also as a developer of the disastrous two-party system and of an even more disastrous U.S. navy and a U.S. military with a centuries' old tradition now of attacking Libya.  Jefferson's version of that attack also introduced suicide-bombing to that region of the globe, as a U.S. ship full of sailors intentionally blew itself up in port.

But it's hard to put that record of blood-drenched hypocrisy up against the record of the doctrine that bears the name of President Monroe.  In fact, there is already something terrifyingly dishonest about calling a barbaric shout of dominance a doctrine, as seems to happen with each president now.  Declaring a bunch of nations independent of another bunch of nations can sound innocent only to those making the declaration, and only if they've already begun to convince themselves that the whole world is their territory, a notion made explicit by Theodore Roosevelt's corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.  Latin America was not to be attacked by bad attackers, only by good attackers, meaning either the U.S. military or private U.S. entrepreneurial imperialists seeking nations to rule.

Roosevelt looked beyond Latin America, of course, as the United States, heartbroken at having reached the Pacific and run out of Native American nations to destroy, had moved into the Pacific as well as the Caribbean.  The nation of Japan had put an end to war, with others or itself, in 1614, and remained peaceful for two centuries, developing the sort of culture that flourishes in peace -- an action that has occurred too many times in human history to take seriously the desperate moans of those who like to pretend that war is in our biology.  (And if it were, wouldn't we suffer PTSD from its absence, not its presence?)  In 1872, U.S. General Charles LeGendre had been trying unsuccessfully to get China to attack and occupy Taiwan.  He made the same pitch to the Japanese and found them far more interested.  LeGendre told the Japanese that they needed a Monroe Doctrine for their area of the world, meaning Japanese dominance at the expense of any competitors.  LeGendre pushed the Japanese to attack Taiwan and Okinawa and Korea, actions that shocked the people of Asia.  

U.S. policy became promotion of U.S. imperialism as far as it could reach, and Japanese imperialism beyond that.  Theodore Roosevelt pushed the Monroe Doctrine idea on the Japanese, and by 1905 was openly advocating a Japanese Monroe Doctrine in speeches.  But he expected the Japanese to both adopt the worldview of conquering civilizers, and respect limits -- including by respecting U.S. possessions such as the Philippines, and Hawaii.  Hawaii had been grabbed by the United States as a function of the original Monroe Doctrine, the argument being that the Monroe Doctrine required grabbing Hawaii before the British did -- regardless of whether Hawaii was actually part of the Americas.  President McKinley explained the need to occupy the Philippines as the only means to keep Spain, Germany, or France from taking over a barbaric people who obviously could not be left to their own devices.  But Roosevelt managed, in the end, to simultaneously give the Japanese Korea and turn the Japanese against the United States.  Japanese imperialism became a rival to the United States, up until World War II when another Roosevelt successfully provoked a Japanese attack on U.S. pacific territories in order to persuade the U.S. public to enter another war in Europe.

White House yanks TSA petition

EPIC reports that the White House suddenly cut off the time period allotted for signatures to an anti-TSA petition that has been gaining steam and pulled the petition off its website.

READ THE REST AT TSA NEWS.

More thoughts on the TSA Gallup poll by Philip Weber

In the course of my lifetime I’ve had more than a passing acquaintance with ham sandwiches. To my knowledge, not a single one has ever committed a crime.

READ THE REST AT TSA NEWS.

Speaking Events

David Swanson at St. Michael’s College, Colchester, VT, October 5, 2016.

David Swanson in Fairbanks, Alaska, October 22, 2016.

Find Events Here.

CHOOSE LANGUAGE

Support This Site

Donate.

Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.

 

Sponsors:

Speaking Truth to Empire

***

Families United

***

Ray McGovern

***

Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.