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Meet the New Imperial Court, Same As the Old Imperial Court

By Anonymous - Posted on 03 January 2011

By David Swanson, Euro Atlantic Quarterly

One of the mistakes that foreigners make about the United States, millions of Americans make themselves with much less justification: they overestimate the difference between members of the Democratic and Republican Parties in Washington, D.C.

The two parties scream at each other on television quite a lot and attract supporters who come from two very different cultures. But over half of every dollar of income tax in the United States is spent on the military, and that number reliably increases every single year regardless of who is in power.

The Afghan and Iraq wars were launched with overwhelming support from both parties' officials, and the Iraq War with Democratic control of the Senate. In 2006 U.S. voters told exit-pollsters that their primary motivation for electing Democrats to control both houses of Congress was Iraq war opposition, and Congress proceeded in 2007 to escalate the war on Iraq. War opposition also drove the 2008 elections, after which two Democratic houses and a Democratic president in 2009 escalated the war on Afghanistan.

Americans tell pollsters that ending the wars is their second highest priority after repairing the U.S. economy. (How many understand the close relationship between the two, the wars' negative impact on the domestic economy, is not clear.) Majorities think the Afghan and Iraq wars should never have been launched, but majorities supported launching them at the time in 2001 and 2003. Electing Democrats to act on the will of the new majority has been tried and failed, and now the House is going back to Republican control.

There will be no gridlock on matters of war and foreign relations (two areas that are identical in the understanding of the U.S. government, as made clear by the cables leaked to Wikileaks). To the extent that a minority of Democrats in the House will object to anything on the military's agenda, it will not matter as the President and the Republicans are in complete agreement. In fact, Congress may seek to pass a new "Authorization to Use Military Force" that would strengthen any president's unconstitutional power to wage wars, without any purported connection to the crimes of September 11, 2001, as required by the routinely violated AUMF of 2001. The new bill may also license unconstitutional presidential violations of civil liberties during "war time," a state of affairs that is now understood to be without spatial or temporal limit. Republicans are principled supporters of presidential war powers even when they despise the current president.

Oddly, given these trends of consistent bipartisan support for ever more militarism, the idea of decreasing military spending by $100 billion or more (out of $1 trillion or so per year) is prominently in discussion among elites in Washington right now in a way that we haven't seen in 20 years. The reason is not an understanding of the illegality or immorality of what the war machine does. It is not a realization of the dangers created by weapons sales, nuclear proliferation, and the blowback generated by aggressive wars. It is not recognition of the perilous environmental situation exacerbated by the U.S. military, the world's leading consumer of petroleum. The reason, amazingly, is that rightwing groups in Washington have turned the federal budget deficit into as evil a demon as any foreign dictator of an oil-rich land. Even the president's "Deficit Commission" is recommending major military cutbacks. Its commissioners have asked for a one-third reduction in foreign military bases.

Congress is extremely unlikely to diverge from its path of ever increasing Pentagon expenditures unless a massive public movement pressures it to do so. In 2006 an anti-war movement had gained such popular strength that the Republican minority leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell, according to former president George W. Bush's new book, secretly urged the president to pull the troops out of Iraq. But in 2006 organizations in the United States that take their direction from the Democratic Party were opposing the War on Iraq, because the war was understood to be a Republican war and to be very unpopular. Now the wars are Democratic wars or Bipartisan wars, and the opposition comes only from the principled but under-funded peace groups.

While the White House and the Senate remain in Democratic hands, the House will be Republican-controlled in January, and all of the House committee chairs will be Republicans. This will mean the first aggressive oversight of the U.S. government since the War on Iraq began. Thus far we have had Republican committees overlook the crimes and abuses of the Bush-Cheney regime, Democratic committees pretend to investigate Bush-Cheney but actually abandon the powers of subpoena and impeachment without a struggle, and Democratic committees overlook the crimes and abuses of the Obama White House. Sadly, we will now have Republican committee chairs investigate all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons, bringing back the structure of congressional oversight without actually handling the issues that most need to be addressed. Rather than investigating crimes exposed by Wikileaks, for example, the new House Judiciary Committee will likely offer its rhetorical support for any Justice Department effort to prosecute the media outlet for the crime of journalism.

Congress is likely to pass a 2011 military funding package that includes $160 billion for wars. That is likely to be insufficient. When a "supplemental" spending bill (kept off the books to make the budget look better) is brought up in 2012, we may see a record number of congress members vote against it. The number of members voting No has increased steadily to a high point of 114 this past July (with 218 needed for a majority). Democrats may vote No because the Republican leadership will not offer them -- as Democrats did -- doomed anti-war amendments to vote Yes on before voting Yes on the funding; because popular opposition to the war is on the rise; because congress members are always more willing to vote No on bills that are guaranteed to pass; and because the Democrats in the House may start running away from President Obama. If this happens, the war bills will pass easily every time, just as always, regardless of party. But the wars will come to be seen as a collaboration between the Republicans and the President, with the majority of the Democrats opposed. This scenario could lead to a Democratic Congress and a Republican President in 2012.

But Obama's reelection strategy might be the development of a new war in mid-2012. It's hard to see what other strategy he could have, given his energetic alienation of all of his supporters on domestic issues. That could be very bad news for some unfortunate country, and Iran is certainly high on the list.It would also be very bad news for the rest of the world.

David Swanson is author of the new book "War Is A Lie"


My ninety-year-old parents agree that you have hit the nail on the head. The rest of the family has also been informed that WAR IS A LIE. I intend to make sure that everyone I know who has half a brain at least gets a copy of your book.

We need to make it harder for these criminals to pull of their murderous plans. You have given us the talking points.

And regarding Iran being the possible target of another US-led war if Obama commands one in 2012, Iran's fitting to guess, but maybe North Korea also is. If NK, then the US might not be and perhaps probably would not be the leader of this war in an obvious and open way, but while I haven't seen any articles posted here or at Urukent about the situation, there have been enough at and I believe some at over the past month or so and if relations don't improve or get corrected, then NK may be provoked into militarily acting in a way that would lead to war between SK and NK, and the US would be militarily active on SK's side.

Maybe that situation will be calmed down, but NK is targeted by the US pretty much as much as Iran has been.

Iran and NK seem to be the two most likely targets for another US-made war, based on what I've been seeing from articles by plenty of different people. The US and SK have been acting rather provocatively towards NK, more than the US et al have been towards Iran. With all of the US-led military exercises in the area of the Koreas, the US is acting in criminal and provocative ways towards NK. As for SK acting provocatively towards NK, the US could tell the leader of SK to stop and he'd surely comply.

"North Korea Fumes as South Announces Yet More War Games
Drill to Take Place Along Yellow Sea Border

by Jason Ditz, Jan. 4, 2011

The short article has the needed links.

North Korean officials are fuming again tonight following the announcement that the South Korean military is planning to conduct yet another military drill along the tense border between the two nations, the third major set of war games since a late November clash.

Unlike the previous live-fire drills, the latest drill will involve computer simulated war games. North Korea, however, insists that the latest drill proves the South’s “persistent design for invasion.”

Normally such allegations, particularly from North Korea, are shrugged off as paranoia, but given the South’s determination to launch drill after drill along the border, and their repeated public talk of annexing the North as part of a long-standing goal of reunification, the comments have at least some grounding in reality.

Tensions have been on the rise on both sides of the border over the past two months, but North Korea has recently made offers to restart negotiations. Unfortunately so far it does not appear that such talks are in the offing.

Or so they act.

"The Left Has Nowhere to Go"
by Chris Hedges,, Jan. 4, 2011 (really Jan. 3)


Ralph Nader in a CNN poll a few days before the 2008 presidential election had an estimated 3 percent of the electorate, or about 4 million people, behind his candidacy. But once the votes were counted, his support dwindled to a little over 700,000. Nader believes that many of his supporters entered the polling booth and could not bring themselves to challenge the Democrats and Barack Obama. I suspect Nader is right. And this retreat is another example of the lack of nerve we must overcome if we are going to battle back against the corporate state. A vote for Nader or Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney in 2008 was an act of defiance. A vote for Obama and the Democrats was an act of submission. We cannot afford to be submissive anymore.

“The more outrageous the Republicans become, the weaker the left becomes,” Nader said when I reached him at his home in Connecticut on Sunday. “The more outrageous they become, the more the left has to accept the slightly less outrageous corporate Democrats.”

Nader fears a repeat of the left’s cowardice in the next election, a cowardice that has further empowered the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, maintained the role of the Democratic Party as a lackey for corporations, and accelerated the reconfiguration of the country into a neo-feudalist state. Either we begin to practice a fierce moral autonomy and rise up in multiple acts of physical defiance that have no discernable short-term benefit, or we accept the inevitability of corporate slavery. The choice is that grim.


“The left has nowhere to go,” Nader said. “Obama knows it. The corporate Democrats know it. There will be criticism by the left of Obama this year and then next year they will all close ranks and say ‘Do you want Mitt Romney? Do you want Sarah Palin? Do you want Newt Gingrich?’ It’s very predictable. There will be a year of criticism and then it will all be muted. They don’t understand that even if they do not have any place to go, they ought to fake it. They should fake going somewhere else or staying home to increase the receptivity to their demands. But because they do not make any demands, they are complicit with corporate power."


There is no major difference between a McCain administration, a Bush and an Obama administration. Obama, in fact, is in many ways worse. McCain, like Bush, exposes the naked face of corporate power. Obama, who professes to support core liberal values while carrying out policies that mock these values, mutes and disempowers liberals, progressives and leftists. Environmental and anti-war groups, who plead with Obama to address their issues, are little more than ineffectual supplicants.


Some known writers (I won't name them, but they know who they are) who supported Obama in 2008 said he's a lesser evil and I responded by saying that they're right about being evil, while needing to prove to me that he's lesser; and they either could not or else refused to try. Well, the "proof is in the pudding" after it's been burnt. For those who didn't realize it before hand, the last two years should be enough to be able to see that the "lesser" was bs. I knew it at the time, but these so-called antiwar writers were full of air to be recycled before it was reused, say.

Some of Obama's supporters praising him at the time said he was charismatic, as if this means something good, and I responded by saying that when I heard a tape of Hitler speaking in German, he sounded more strongly charismatic to me; [frighteningly] charismatic. Charlatans and other evil doers sometimes are charismatic. Sometimes people of really good character or quality are also charismatic, but evil can also be charismatic.

Bush was not charismatic, people said that Obama is, and he is a more competent speaker, but competent in what way? Well, people have been saying that he and his administration are worse than Bush and his administration were, so Obama's competency evidently is not a welcome kind at all.

"Lesser evil" means evil and the claim of "lesser" needs to be backed up with real proof.

People claimed and some still claim that Obama opposed recourse to war on Iraq in 2002, but none of the people saying this ever cited the words that he stated. I posted several times telling such Americans to provide quotes of his words or links to where we could read or listen to his words, and these voters refused to do this, so they could not back up their claim. I eventually came across some of Obama's words and they weren't sufficiently in opposition to recourse to war on Iraq. Maybe the citation was falsified, but if it wasn't, then he was not sufficiently and really opposed to the war. And even if he had been, it could've been only as a stage act, to try to draw future electoral supporters, for he surely knew at the time that he was going to run for the Senate. Political candidates regularly lie in their electoral campaigns and preparations for them. Many or most are [charlatans].

John Kerry wasn't opposed to the war; he just argued about the way Bush et al commanded the war. He disregarded the fact that the war could never be justified, never was justifiable, that it was illegal as well as criminal in plain, while essential, moral terms. He would've commanded the criminal war differently. The war was totally criminal, but he didn't care about this (obvious) fact. Yet, some Dem. supporters praised his so-called opposition to the war.

Dem. supporters better wake up. And I've also learned that the Dem. Party was more responsible for US war crimes in the 20th century than the Repub. Party was, but Dem. supporters choose blindness about this, as well.

Both parties are extremely corrupt, rogue, and need to be cleaned up. And considering other candidates who aren't of either of these two parties is a need and should be respected. If others are vettable as well as arguably good candidates, then they and their supporters should be electorally treated with respect. Partisanship leads to blindness.


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