• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 31 juli 2010

Afghanistan

Ondankbare Afghanen

afghan2Na een verkeersincident, waarbij vrijdag een personenauto getorpedeerd werd door een SUV afkomstig uit een konvooi auto's van de Amerikaanse ambassade en 4 Afgaanse inzittenden van de personenauto om het leven kwamen, zijn rellen uitgebroken in Kabul.
Het incident vond plaats op de weg tussen Kabul en het vliegveld. Zie ook Daarin vertellen (sommige) ooggetuigen dat er na de aanrijding op de inzittenden van de personenauto geschoten is door de Amerikanen. Mensen die kwamen kijken wat er gebeurde, zijn vervolgens in woede ontstoken. Ze vielen de auto's van de ambassade aan en staken er twee in brand. Leuzen die aangeheven werden richtten zich tegen de VS en Karzai. Militairen van de NAVO-macht ISAF en van het Afghaanse leger hebben (in de lucht?) geschoten om de menigte te verspreiden.

afghan1Tenminste een van de vehikels was van het particuliere militaire bedrijf DynCorp, dat diensten levert aan het Amerikaanse leger. Personeel van DynCorp moest door militairen ontzet worden. DynCorp is berucht om rambogedrag, net als de collega's van Blackwater die het in Irak zo bont maakten dat ze hun werk daar moesten staken (het werd overigens grotendeels overgenomen door DynCorp).

In  mei 2006 was er een vergelijkbaar drama in Kabul toen een militaire vrachtwagen 12 auto's raakte en er massale rellen uitbraken. (bron)

Volgens een stuk op indymedia-Duitsland zijn er in het hele land voortdurend protesten tegen het door de - voornamelijke buitenlandse - militairen doodschieten van burgers. In de provincie Helmand werd afgelopen dinsdag het lichaam van een 65-jarige man door een grote groep mensen naar het kantoor van de Gouverneur gedragen. Ze verklaarden dat de man door NAVO-militairen doodgeschoten was, en eisten een onderzoek en het vertrek van de militairen uit hun gebied. Een week geleden werden 52 burgers in een dorp in Helmand gedood toen ze een NAVO-mortier op zich afgevuurd kregen. Het betrof voornamelijke vrouwen en kinderen die zich probeerden te bergen voor gevechten tussen leger en taliban in de buurt.

Dergelijke protesten (en de bloedbaden die eraan vorafgaan) krijgen nauwelijks aandacht van westerse media. Een verklaring daarvoor is dat zo'n beetje alle journalisten 'embedded' bij de NAVO-eenheden opereren, en die militairen durven niet eens meer naar de dorpen waar ze de bloedbaden aanrichten. "We told them: 'Where were you shot from and where did you strike? Are you killing the Taliban or you are killing us? Come with us and look at who you killed.' But they were afraid and didn't want to come with us," Rahim says. "Yesterday I told them: 'Three people will guarantee your safety. Come with us to look at our damages and the people killed. Have you come to protect us or to kill us?'" (bron, overigens bron afkomstig van 'Radio Free Afghanistan', dat naar het voorbeeld van Free Europe en andere nieuwszenders door de VS opgezet is...)

Een van de zaken die blijkt uit de omstreden uitgelekte documenten die op Wikileaks gepubliceerd zijn, is dat het aantal burgerdoden in Afghanistan stelselmatig verdoezeld is.

(Voor een actueel overzicht Engelstalige berichten over Afghanistan zie: www.aopnews.com)

Israel as a Rogue State 79

Middle East history buff Hague whitewashes Israel’s villainy on the high seas

"We have to be steeped in the Middle East, way back to historical matters. Because you can't understand it without the history”

By Stuart Littlewood

31 July 2010

Stuart Littlewood views British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s weasel words on the siege of Gaza and his consistent rear-guard defence of Israeli crimes, which show that Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent reference to the Gaza Strip as a “prison camp” should not be interpreted as signalling a change in the UK’s slavishly pro-Israel policies.

My MP, a Foreign Office minister in the shiny new coalition government, has written to me saying he believes the foreign secretary was "extremely fair, tough and statesmanlike" in his reaction to Israel's murderous assault on the vessel Mavi Marmara and the rest of the Free Gaza flotilla.
“Mr Hague doesn’t seem to grasp that the violence was committed by Israeli stormtroopers dropping from helicopters with guns blazing under cover of darkness.”
So I re-read William Hague's statement to the House of Commons on 2 June, and it struck me as something the Israeli government spin doctor, Mark Regev, might have penned. Here are some extracts:
  • "Our clear advice to British nationals is not to travel to Gaza."
Just what Israel wants to hear. This “advice” serves to legitimize Israel’s illegal sea blockade and use of lethal force against unarmed British citizens and other nationals peacefully going about their lawful business in international waters.
  • "We deeply deplore the loss of life…"
There must be stinging consequences for this latest barbaric act. The word "deplore" is for the spineless, do-nothing handwringers.
  • "Their welfare [meaning the British nationals on board] is our top priority."
Mr Hague must have been alerted to advance warnings that Israel would go to any lengths, including violence, to stop the mercy ships but he took no precautionary action. Where is the mighty Royal Navy when not cruising the Caribbean or sunning itself in the Gulf? When consular access was then denied to some of the 37 Britishers abducted and jailed by Israel, the Foreign Office meekly accepted the insult.
  • "...those individuals who are allegedly involved in violence against Israeli servicemen during the boarding."
Mr Hague doesn’t seem to grasp that the violence was committed by Israeli stormtroopers dropping from helicopters with guns blazing under cover of darkness.
  • "Restrictions on Gaza should be lifted – a view confirmed in United Nations Security Council resolution 1860."
Resolution 1860 goes much further and calls for the sustained reopening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, which provides for
  • the reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank
  • *bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza
  • *the building of a new seaport in Gaza
  • *reopening of the airport in Gaza
Nearly eight months ago the European Council repeated the EU’s call for “an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza” and for “full implementation of The Agreement on Movement and Access”.

What is the point of mouthing this stuff again and again and not backing it up with ACTION?
  • "Hamas now has near total control of the economy".
Perhaps our Treasury people should take lessons from them.
  • "We will, therefore, continue to press the Israeli government to lift the closure of Gaza, and plan early discussions ... about what more can be done to ensure an unfettered flow of aid."
“The Foreign Office is exceedingly well practised at pressing and urging. However, ‘unfettered flow’ is not going to happen without a naval escort and/or sanctions.”
The Foreign Office is exceedingly well practised at pressing and urging. However, “unfettered flow” is not going to happen without a naval escort and/or sanctions. If Mr Hague hasn’t learned this he hasn’t been paying attention.
  • "The House should not forget the role played by Hamas in this conflict. They continue to pursue an ideology of violence and directly to undermine prospects for peace in the region."
Mr Hague must take everyone for fools. Hamas won the 2006 elections fair and square and has been subjected to a relentless blockade, armed incursions, air strikes, sanctions, assassinations, an attempted putsch and a devastating 22-day blitzkrieg. Continually accusing Hamas of undermining prospects for peace is the ultimate absurdity.
  • "Violence has continued in recent days, with rocket fire from militants in Gaza and Israeli military incursions and air strikes in response."
On the question of who provokes and who responds Mr Hague should consider how Israel violated the cease-fire to pave the way to the Gaza war of December 2008 and still carries out air-strikes on a daily basis.
  • "We call on Hamas to make immediate and concrete steps towards the quartet principles – unconditionally to release Gilad Shalit."
“Something like 11,000 Palestinian civilians are held (and believed tortured) in Israeli jails, many without charge. Why isn’t Mr Hague calling for their release? [Gilad] Shalit is a tank gunner captured in 2006.”
Something like 11,000 Palestinian civilians are held (and believed tortured) in Israeli jails, many without charge. Why isn’t Mr Hague calling for their release? Shalit is a tank gunner captured in 2006. In the three years following Israel's troop withdrawal to Gaza's perimeter in 2005 some 1,250 Gazans, including 222 children, were killed by tank gunners and other Israeli military personnel while 11 Israelis were killed by Palestinian rocket fire.
  • "The only long-term and sustainable solution to the conflict which produced these tragic events is a two-state solution."
Politicians like Hague have stood back and allowed Israel to seize so much key Palestinian territory and establish so many “facts on the ground” that the chances of a viable Palestinian state are vanishing fast.
  • "The proximity talks that are currently underway are more important than ever."
Is he serious? How credible are “talks” when one party has a gun to the other's head and continues to steal its land, colonize its territory and murder its citizens? What honest broker would be party to such a farce?

William Hague is our top international representative. He has the power to heavily influence whether Britain makes war or peace, whether we make friends or enemies, and whether our soldiers live or needlessly die. Yet he seems to have trouble interpreting intelligence. One can see how the poor chap got his knickers in a fearful twist over Iraq and voted enthusiastically to get us mired in that shameful war... And did anyone hear him speak out against the folly of invading Afghanistan when it was his duty, as a leading opposition figure at the time, to hold our lunatic Labour government to account?

Now he rattles his sabre at Iran and wants to turn Britain into a safe haven for Israel’s war criminals.

All things considered the guy is a big worry.
“Prime Minister David Cameron was a little nearer the mark when he called the blockaded Gaza Strip a ‘prison camp’... but Cameron, like Hague, is an avid admirer of Israel and calls himself a Zionist.”
Prime Minister David Cameron was a little nearer the mark when he called the blockaded Gaza Strip a "prison camp". That brought loud squawks from the usual suspects. Plain speaking earns him a cheer but Cameron, like Hague, is an avid admirer of Israel and calls himself a Zionist. He too only talked of "humanitarian access", failing to acknowledge that Gazans are not allowed to export anything and therefore cannot make a living.
He has nothing to say about the 3,500 licensed fishermen who are shot up by Israeli patrol boats whenever they put to sea. Or Gaza's students who are blocked from studying at their West Bank universities.

Or all the Christians and their Muslim brothers and sisters who are prevented from worshipping at their holy places in Jerusalem.

Or even Gaza’s marine gas field, which Israel has its greedy eyes on and Palestinians can’t go near.

Mr Hague, according to the Jewish Chronicle, told David Cameron as soon as he became Conservative party leader in 2005 that a deep understanding of the Middle East would be crucial to his claims to be taken seriously as a statesman. "We have to be steeped in the Middle East, way back to historical matters. Because you can't understand it without the history. That's been one of the failings sometimes with the Western governments."

Yes, but when is the history lesson, and the story of the West’s betrayal, going to sink in?

Finally, Viva Palestina has just sent this message:
Despite the recent claims by Israel that they have “eased” the siege on Gaza, vital medical supplies and equipment are still prohibited from entering the besieged region. In June, the World Health Organization reported that Israel blocked the delivery of essential medical equipment, including a CT scanner, defibrillators and monitors.

In addition, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Israel confiscated seven oxygen machines, donated by a Norwegian development agency, and refused to allow delivery of x-ray machines, claiming they could be used for military purposes.
Consequently, says the message, there is a critical shortage of vital medicines and essential life-saving equipment, and other supplies are expected to run out very soon.

What does it take for Cameron, Hague and Britain’s limp-wristed Foreign Office to run out of patience and forcibly smash this cruel blockade?

Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visitwww.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.

Daphne Meijer 33

Meer dan twee weken geleden publiceerde ik dit:


donderdag 15 juli 2010


Daphne Meijer 32

Daphne heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "Daphne Meijer 31" achtergelaten: 

Stan, zullen we eens in het openbaar debatteren? Dan kan ik reageren op wat jij over mij zegt, kan ik iets over jouw standpunten en motieven zeggen, en komen we misschien een stap verder. Ik vermoed dat ik niet de enige ben die in de door jou geschetste 'meta-positie' verkeert. Het is een dilemma dat natuurlijk niet nieuw is, en waar vele joden een vorm voor proberen te vinden. The Magnes Zionist zit in Jeruzalem, dus dat is wellicht te hoog gegrepen, maar misschien zou Abu Pessoptimist mee kunnen debatteren?

Ik zie via de pingback wanneer je naar iets van me linkt. Dat is uiteraard okee. Ik zou het leuk vinden wanneer je de volgende keer ook een berichtje achterlaat, met een link of zo, zodat de lezers van mijn blog kunnen zien hoe jij verder borduurt op wat ik schrijf. 

@ AdR: Dat is de makke van blogs. Je moet je eigen eindredacteur zijn. Je bent van harte uitgenodigd om correcties voor te stellen. 

@ anzi Speer und Er? Ken ik niet. Kennen wij elkaar? Want kennelijk denk je wel aan me. 



Daphne,


Ga je gang. Mijn weblog is 'openbaar', toegankelijk voor iedereen. Geschreven tekst is daarbij veel beter dan gesproken woord, omdat je langer kunt nadenken over een antwoord. Ik zit op dit moment voor enkele maanden in de VS om mensen te interviewen, dus ik kan niet elke dag reageren, maar ik stel voor: begin te discussieren met me.

Ik heb nog steeds niets van de zioniste Daphne Meijer vernomen, terwijl ik haar toch heb uitgenodigd om op mijn weblog met mij te discussieren. Nu zijn er twee mogelijkheden:

1. Daphne Meijer wil niet discussieren.
2. Of Daphne Mijer durft niet te discussieren.

In beide gevallen speelt Daphne Meijer een spelletje niet alleen met mij, maar ook met de lezers van mijn weblog en uiteindelijk speelt ze ook een spelletje met zichzelf. En dat laatste is misschien nog wel het meest kwalijke, want het joods slachtofferisme dat ook zij predikt leidt tot het vermoorden en terroriseren van Palestijnse burgers. Daphne Meijer, mijn vraag aan jou nu is: waarom word je niet volwassen? In afwachting van je antwoord.

The Jewish Lobby 2

The Real Aim of Israel’s Bomb Iran Campaign

By Gareth Porter
July 30, 2010 "Information Clearing House-- Reuel Marc Gerecht's screed justifying an Israeli bombing attack on Iran coincides with the opening of  the new Israel lobby campaign marked by the introduction of House Resolution 1553 expressing full support for such an Israeli attack. 
What is important to understand about this campaign is that the aim of Gerecht and of the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu is to support an attack by Israel so that the United States can be drawn into direct, full-scale war with Iran.
That has long been the Israeli strategy for Iran, because Israel cannot fight a war with Iran without full U.S. involvement. Israel needs to know that the United States will finish the war that Israel wants to start. 
Gerecht openly expresses the hope that any Iranian response to the Israeli attack would trigger full-scale U.S. war against Iran. "If Khamenei has a death-wish, he'll let the Revolutionary Guards mine the strait, the entrance to the Persian Gulf," writes Gerecht. "It might be the only thing that would push President Obama to strike Iran militarily...." Gerecht suggest that the same logic would apply to any Iranian "terrorism against the United States after an Israeli strike," by which we really means any attack on a U.S. target in the Middle East. Gerecht writes that Obama might be "obliged" to threaten major retaliation "immediately after an Israeli surprise attack."  
That's the key sentence in this very long Gerecht argument. Obama is not going to be "obliged" to join Israeli aggression against Iran unless he feels that domestic political pressures to do so are too strong to resist. That's why the Israelis are determined to line up a strong majority in Congress and public opinion for war to foreclose Obama's options. 
In the absence of confidence that Obama would be ready to come into the war fully behind Israel, there cannot be an Israeli strike. 
Gerecht's argument for war relies on a fanciful nightmare scenario of Iran doling out nuclear weapons to Islamic extremists all over the Middle East. But the real concern of the Israelis and their lobbyists, as Gerecht's past writing has explicitly stated, is to destroy Iran's Islamic regime in a paroxysm of U.S. military violence.   
Gerecht first revealed this Israeli-neocon fantasy as early as 2000, before the Iranian nuclear program was even taken seriously, in an essay written for a book published by the Project for a New American Century.  Gerecht argued that, if Iran could be caught in a "terrorist act," the U.S. Navy should "retaliate with fury". The purpose of such a military response, he wrote, should be to "strike with truly devastating effect against the ruling mullahs and the repressive institutions that maintain them." 
And lest anyone fail to understand what he meant by that, Gerecht was more explicit: "That is, no cruise missiles at midnight to minimize the body count. The clerics will almost certainly strike back unless Washington uses overwhelming, paralyzing force." 
In 2006-07, the Israeli war party had reason to believed that it could hijack U.S. policy long enough to get the war it wanted, because it had placed one of its most militant agents, David Wurmser, in a strategic position to influence that policy.
We now know that Wurmser, formerly a close adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu and during that period Vice President Dick Cheney's main adviser on the Middle East, urged a policy of overwhelming U.S. military force against Iran.  After leaving the administration in 2007, Wurmser revealed that he had advocated a U.S. war on Iran, not to set back the nuclear program but to achieve regime change. 
"Only if what we do is placed in the framework of a fundamental assault on the survival of the regime will it have a pick-up among ordinary Iranians," Wurmser told The Telegraph.  The U.S. attack was not to be limited to nuclear targets but was to be quite thorough and massively destructive. "If we start shooting, we must be prepared to fire the last shot. Don't shoot a bear if you're not going to kill it." 
Of course, that kind of war could not be launched out of the blue.  It would have required a casus belli to justify a limited initial attack that would then allow a rapid escalation of U.S. military force.  In 2007, Cheney acted on Wurmser's advice and tried to get Bush to provoke a war with Iran over Iraq, but it was foiled by the Pentagon.
As Wurmser was beginning to whisper that advice in Cheney's ear in 2006, Gerecht was making the same argument in The Weekly Standard:  
Bombing the nuclear facilities once would mean we were declaring war on the clerical regime. We shouldn't have any illusions about that. We could not stand idly by and watch the mullahs build other sites. If the ruling mullahs were to go forward with rebuilding what they'd lost--and it would be surprising to discover the clerical regime knuckling after an initial bombing run--we'd have to strike until they stopped. And if we had any doubt about where their new facilities were (and it's a good bet the clerical regime would try to bury new sites deep under heavily populated areas), and we were reasonably suspicious they were building again, we'd have to consider, at a minimum, using special-operations forces to penetrate suspected sites.
The idea of waging a U.S. war of destruction against Iran is obvious lunacy, which is why U.S. military leaders have strongly resisted it both during the Bush and Obama administrations.  But  Gerecht makes it clear that Israel believes it can use its control of Congress to pound Obama into submission. Democrats in Congress, he boasts, "are mentally in a different galaxy than they were under President Bush." Even though Israel has increasingly been regarded around the world as a rogue state after its Gaza atrocities and the commando killings of unarmed civilians on board the Mavi Marmara, its grip on the U.S. Congressappears as strong as ever.  
Moreover, polling data for 2010 show that a majority of Americans have already been manipulated into supporting war against Iran - in large part because more than two-thirds of those polled have gotten the impression that Iran already has nuclear weapons.  The Israelis are apparently hoping to exploit that advantage. "If the Israelis bomb now, American public opinion will probably be with them," writes Gerecht. "Perhaps decisively so."   Netanyahu must be feeling good about the prospects for pressuring Barack Obama to join an Israeli war of aggression against Iran.  It was Netanyahu, after all, who declared in 2001, "I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won't get in the way."
Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist on U.S. national security policy


http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26051.htm

The Empire 617

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faces the WikiLeaks firestorm, 07/26/10. (photo: Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faces the WikiLeaks firestorm, 07/26/10. (photo: Getty Images)
 Reader Supported News | Perspective
here is the old argument put forth by the National Rifle Association that it is not guns that kill, it is the people who pull the trigger. This, of course, is at best a half-truth. What does the NRA think guns are manufactured for? The downing of clay pigeons? Nonsense. They are made to kill and maim. Be the targets men or lesser animals, be they used in the course of defense or offense, guns are designed and manufactured to inflict deadly harm.
One can say the same thing for armies. They are not put together for marching in parades. They are designed to kill and maim on a large scale. You can change the name of that part of the government that manages professional carnage from the Department of War to the Department of Defense (as the US government did in 1949) but it makes no real difference. Once the military is engaged, the inevitable consequence (and the consequence clearly known to those who run the show) is mayhem. Ask anyone who has gone through basic training about the amount of effort given to learning how not to kill civilians. It will not be insignificant or irrelevant because, unless the fighting is in a desert or on the moon, it is virtually impossible within the framework of modern warfare not to kill non-combatants. Ask a platoon leader what priority he gives to assuring that his targets are not civilians. If the answer is an honest one it will be a rare event when such a consideration even approaches the standard priorities of achieving the mission while "taking care of your men." You might say that this is just how war is. Historically speaking this is true. In terms of ethics it is a flat out indefensible position.
Just how indefensible was revealed this week by the courageous work of WikiLeaks, a website that has carried on the work begun by Daniel Ellsberg when he leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Viet Nam War. This week saw the release of 92,000 records detailing the bloody savagery of American military action in Afghanistan. If one is old enough, this revelation brings on a disturbing episode of deja vu. For those who lived through Viet Nam know that what these records reveal is nothing new. It has all happened before. No doubt it will all happen again. In fact, it must happen again and again as long as war is waged as it is now.
That is why one can only feel nausea when the professionals, from military spokesmen, to "embedded" journalists, to politicians talk of "collateral damage," as if the pulverized bodies of civilians that the US military (and all similar armies the world over) leaves in its wake are somehow accidents. They are not. No matter what the so-called "rules of engagement," the nature of the weapons used and the training of the average enlistee (which emphasizes ever more ruthlessness as one is brought into "special forces") guarantees these civilian deaths. In the modern age of warfare their fate follows like 2+2=4.
Thus, it is significant, and so revealing of our national mentality, that the savagery revealed in the leaked reports is not what most of our leaders are focusing on. Rather, it is the accusation that the reports suggest that the war is being lost. Thus, from the White House to Congress, to the media talk shows, their defense is that this is old data, reflecting the state of the war prior to the president's introduction of a new strategy and a surge in troop strength. While I believe that the war in Afghanistan is, just like Viet Nam, an unwinnable affair, this sort of debate misses the point of these revelations. It is not about winning or losing. It is about utter destruction. It is about the tens of thousands of human beings who have already irredeemably lost this war.
In the United States, war is a massive industry. We ignored Dwight Eisenhower's warning about the growing military-industrial complex and so this vast interlinked network is now one of the foundations of the US economy. The vested interests involved here are of every class and every ethnicity. To rapidly dismantle this complex risks depression for the nation. To come to a clear recognition of this situation is like looking into the abyss. Indeed, the vast majority of people will refuse to look. And they will support the hunting down of those who have invited them to look (Julian Assange, co-founder of WikiLeaks, is now a wanted man). The government will label them traitors, put them in prison and throw away the key.
Frederic Nietzsche tells us the parable of the death of god. A madman shows up in a town one day and proclaims the death of god and identifies the murderers as we the people. The implication here is that the modern age is what really did god in. Moderns have ceased to pay anything but lip service to god and so he, she or it is really just a dead idol. We can extend the parable to ethics. The people at WikiLeaks are the madmen who have come to town to tell us that we have no ethics; that our pitiful claim to be civilized is just an act of self-delusion because the nature of modern warfare has murdered ethics. By the way, in Nietzsche's story the messenger is simply dismissed as insane. As noted above, the WikiLeaks people will have a much rougher time of it.
Finally, on Armistice Day in 1948, a colleague of Dwight Eisenhower, General Omar Bradley, made a speech in which he said "The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience....." It was not a particularly original observation, for in one form or another it has been said many times before and many times since. The implication is that tomorrow will probably look very much like today. And so it will. As a wise swamp possum once observed, "We have met the enemy ... and he is us."

Lawrence Davidson is a professor of Middle East history at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, and author of the works listed below.
Contributing Editor: Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture
http://www.logosjournal.com
"Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest"
http://www.kentuckypress.com/viewbook.cfm?Category_ID=I&Group=55&ID=1490
"America's Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood"
http://www.upf.com/authorbooks.asp?lname=Davidson&fname=Lawrence
Keep your eye on the language: When South Africa assigned rights according to race they called it apartheid. When Israel assigns rights according to religion they call it the only democracy in the Middle East.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion/74-74/2546-wikileaks-reveals-the-enemy--and-its-us

The Empire 616

Trends to Barbarism and Prospects for Socialism
By James Petras
July 30, 2010 "Information Clearing House-- Western societies and states are moving inexorably toward conditions resembling barbarism; structural changes are reversing decades of social welfare and subjecting labor, natural resources and the wealth of nations to raw exploitation, pillage and plunder, driving living standards downward and provoking unprecedented levels of discontent.
 We will proceed by outlining the economic political and military processes driving this process of decay and decomposition and follow with an account of the mass popular responses to their own deteriorating conditions.  The deep structural changes accompanying the rise of barbarism become the basis for considering the prospects for socialism in the 21st century.
The Rising Tide of Barbarism
In ancient society ‘barbarism’ and its carriers  ‘the barbarians’ were envisioned as threats by outside invaders from outlying regions descending on Rome or Athens.  In contemporary Western societies, the barbarians came from within, among the elite of society, intent on imposing a new order which destroys the social fabric and productive base of society, converting stable livelihoods into insecure deteriorating conditions of daily life.
            The key to contemporary barbarism is found in the deep structures of the imperial state and economy.  These include:
  1. The ascendancy of a financial-speculative elite which has pillaged trillions of dollars from savers, investors, mortgage carriers, consumers and the state, siphoning enormous resources from the productive economy into the hands of a parasitic elite embedded in the state and paper economy.
  2. The militaristic political elite overseeing a state of permanent warfare since the middle of the last century.  Endless wars, cross border assassinations, state terror and the suspension of traditional constitutional guarantees have led to the concentration of dictatorial powers, arbitrary jailing, torture and the denial of habeas corpus.
  3. In the midst of a deep economic recession and stagnation, high levels of state spending on economic and military empire building at the expense of the domestic economy and living standards, reflects the subordination of the local economy to the activities of the imperial state.
  4. Corruption at the top in all aspects of state and business activity – from state procurement to privatization to subsidies for the super-rich – encourages the growth of international crime from top to bottom, the lumpenization of the capitalist class and a state where law and order have fallen into disrepute.
  5. As a result of the high costs of empire building and the pillage by the financial oligarchy, the socio-economic burden has been placed directly on the shoulders of wage and salaried workers, pensioners and the self-employed resulting in long-term, large-scale downward mobility.  With job losses and the disappearance of well paying jobs, home foreclosures skyrocket and the stable middle and working classes shrink and are forced to extend their hours of labor and years of work.
  6. As imperial wars spread across the world targeting entire populations, via sustained bombings and clandestine terror operations, they generate opposing terrorist networks, which also target civilians in markets, transport and public spaces.  The world resembles a Hobbesian world of ‘all against all’.
  7. Rising ethno-religious extremism linked to militarism is found among Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, replacing international class solidarity with doctrines of racial supremacy and penetrating the deep structures of states and societies.
  8. The demise of European and Asian welfare collectivism – in the ex USSR and China – has lifted the competitive pressures on Western capitalism and encouraged them to revoke all the welfare concessions conceded to labor in the post World War II period.
  9. The demise of “Communism” and the integration of social democracy into the capitalist system have led to a severe weakening of the Left, which the sporadic protests of the social movements have failed to replace.
  10. In the face of the current large scale assault on workers’ and middle class’ living standards, there are only sporadic protests at best and political impotence at worst.
  11. Massive exploitation of labor in post-revolutionary capitalist societies, like China and Vietnam, includes the exclusion of hundreds of millions of migrant workers from elementary public educational and health services.  The unprecedented pillage and seizure by domestic oligarchs and foreign multinationals of thousands of lucrative strategic public enterprises in Russia, the ex-Soviet republics, Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Baltic countries was the greatest transfer of public to private wealth in the shortest time in all of history.
In summary, ‘barbarism’ has emerged as a defining reality, product of the ascendancy of a militarist and parasitic financial ruling class.  The barbarians are here and now, present within the frontiers of Western societies and states.  They are dominant and aggressively pursuing an agenda which is continually reducing living standards, transferring public wealth to their private coffers, pillaging public resources, savaging constitutional rights in their pursuit of imperial wars, segregating and persecuting millions of immigrant workers and promoting the disintegration and diminution of the stable working and middle class.  More than at any time in recent history, the top 1% of the population controls an increasing share of national wealth and income.
Myths and Realities of Historical Capitalism
            The sustained, large scale roll back of social rights and welfare provisions, wages, job security, pensions and salaries demonstrates the falsity of the idea of the linear progress of capitalism.  The reversal, product of the heightened power of the capitalist class, demonstrates the validity of the Marxist proposition that class struggle is the motor force of history – at least, in so far, as the human condition is considered the centerpiece of history.
            The second false assumption is that states based on ‘market economies’ require peace and the corollary that ‘markets’ trump militarism, is disproven by the fact that the premier market economy, the United States has been in a constant state of war since the early 1940’s, actively engaged in wars on four continents, to the present day, with new bigger and bloodier wars on the horizon.  The cause and consequence of permanent warfare, is the growth of a monstrous ‘national security state’ which recognizes no national borders and absorbs the greater part of the national budget.
            The third myth of ‘advanced’ mature capitalism is that it constantly revolutionizes production through innovation and technology.  With the rise of the militarist – financial speculative elite, productive forces have been pillaged and ‘innovation’ is largely in the elaboration of financial instruments which exploit investors, strip assets and wipe out productive employment.
            As the empire grows, the domestic economy diminishes, power is centralized in the executive, legislative powers are diminished and the citizenry is denied effective representation or even a veto via electoral processes.
Mass Responses to Rise of Barbarism
            The rise of barbarism in our midst has provoked public revulsion against its principal practitioners.  Surveys have repeatedly found
(1) Profound disgust and revulsion against all political parties.
 (2) Huge majorities harbor profound distrust of the corporate and political elite.
(3) Majorities reject the concentration of corporate power and the abuse of that power, especially among bankers and financiers.
 (4) There is widespread questioning of the democratic credentials of political leaders who act at the behest of the corporate elite and promote the repressive policies of the national security state.
(5) A large majority rejects the pillage of the state treasury to bail out banks and financial elite, while imposing regressive austerity programs on the working and middle class.
Prospects for Socialism
            The capitalist offensive has certainly had a major impact on the objective and subjective conditions of the working and middle classes, increasing impoverishment and provoking a rising tide of personal discontent but not yet massive anti-capitalist movements or even dynamic organized resistance.
            Major structural changes require a coming-to-terms with the current adverse circumstances and the identification of new agencies and modes of class struggle and transformation.
            One key problem is the need to recreate a productive economy and to reconstruct a new industrial working class in the face of years of financial plunder and de-industrialization, not necessarily the ‘dirty’ industries of the past, but certainly new industries using and inventing clean energy sources.
            Secondly, the highly indebted capitalist societies require a fundamental shift from high-cost militarism and empire building toward a kind of class-based austerity that impose  sacrifice  and structural reforms on the banking, financial and big retail commercial sectors, substituting local production for cheap consumer imports.
            Thirdly, downsizing the financial and retail sector requires the upgrading of skills of the displaced workers and employees as well as shifts in the IT sector to accommodate the shifts in the economy.  Paradigmatic shifts from the money wage to the social wage, in which free public education to the highest levels and universal health care and comprehensive pensions replace debt-financed consumerism. This can become the basis for strengthening class consciousness against individual consumerism.
            The question is how do we move from weakened, fragmented labor and social movements in retreat or on the defensive, to a position capable of launching an anti-capitalist offensive?
            Several subjective and objective factors are possibly working in this direction.  First, there is the growing negativity of vast majorities to political incumbents and, in particular, to the financial and economic elites who are clearly identified as responsible for the decline in living standards.  Secondly, there is the popular view, shared by millions, that the current austerity programs are clearly unjust – having the workers pay for the crises that the capitalist class brought forth.  As yet these majorities are more “anti” status quo than “pro” transformation.  The transition from private discontent to collective action is an open question as to who and how, but the opportunity exists.
            Several objective factors could trigger a qualitative shift from passive angry discontent to a massive anti-capitalist movement.  A “double dip” recession, the end of the present anemic recovery and the onset of a more profound and prolonged recession/depression, could further discredit current rulers and their economic backers.
            Secondly, a period of unending and deepening austerity could discredit the current ruling class notion of “necessary pain for future gain” and open minds and move bodies to seek political solutions to achieve current gains by inflicting pain on the economic elites.
            Unending and unwinnable imperial wars that bleed the economy, and working class could ultimately create a consciousness that the ruling class has “sacrificed the nation” for ‘no useful purpose’.
            Likely, the combination of a new phase of the recession, perpetual austerity and mindless imperial wars can turn the current mass malaise and diffuse hostility against the economic and political elite toward socialist movements, parties and trade unions.
James Petras has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 1973-76 he was a member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. He received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Depleted Uranium

Document Reveals Military Was Concerned About Gulf War Vets' Exposure to Depleted Uranium

by: Mike Ludwig, t r u t h o u t | Report
For years, the government has denied that depleted uranium (DU), a radioactive toxic waste left over from nuclear fission and added to munitions used in the Persian Gulf and Iraq wars, poisoned Iraqi civilians and veterans.
But a little-known 1993 Defense Department document written by then-Brigadier Gen. Eric Shinseki, now the secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), shows that the Pentagon was concerned about DU contamination and the agency had ordered medical testing on all personnel that were exposed to the toxic substance.
Shinseki's memo, under the subject line, "Review of Draft to Congress - Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium in the U.S. Army -- Action Memorandum," makes some small revisions to the details of these three orders from the DoD:
1. Provide adequate training for personnel who may come in contact with DU contaminated equipment.
2. Complete medical testing of all personnel exposed to DU in the Persian Gulf War.
3. Develop a plan for DU contaminated equipment recovery during future operations.
The VA, however, never conducted the medical tests, which may have deprived hundreds of thousands of veterans from receiving medical care to treat cancer and other diseases that result from exposure to DU.
The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center recently reported that ten years of data confirm that service members tend to have higher rates of certain cancers compared to civilians, according to the Army Times. While researchers suspected that service members are diagnosed with cancer more often and at a younger age because they have guaranteed access to health care and mandatory exams, the data does not explain the disparities in diagnosis among branches of the military. For example, the rate of lung cancer among sailors is twice that of other branches, while Marines have much lower cancer rates across the board.
On Tuesday, the VA's ongoing failure to treat and diagnose Gulf War related illnesses came up during a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee hearing where a veterans advocacy group urged Shinseki to undertake comprehensive research on the correlation between chronic illness and exposure to DU in munitions during the Gulf War.
Armed with Shinseki's August 19, 1993 memo, Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), said the VA, and Shinseki in particular, have "a rare opportunity for a second chance."
"In military terms, VCS asks VA for a ceasefire," said Paul Sullivan, the executive director for VCS. "VCS urges VA leadership to stop and listen to our veterans before time runs out, as VA is killing veterans slowly with bureaucratic delays and mismanaged research that prevent us from receiving treatments or benefits in a timely manner."
Sullivan, himself a Gulf War veteran, told the subcommittee that the VA has refused to listen to scientists and veterans who are concerned about DU, leaving thousands of veterans suffering from chronic illnesses related to the conflict unsure if they will ever receive a solid diagnosis to justify the benefits and treatment they need.
Of the 697,000 men and woman who served in Gulf War operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield between 1990 and 1991, about 250,000 suffer from symptoms collectively known as "Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses." The symptoms include fatigue, weakness, gastrointestinal problems, cognitive dysfunction, sleep disturbances, persistent headaches, skin rashes, respiratory conditions and mood changes, according to the VA.
The VCS also petitioned Shinseki to investigate the 2009 termination of a $75 million research project on Gulf War illnesses at the University of Texas medical center. Last year the VCS filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records of the "internal sabotage" of Gulf War Veterans Illnesses research and the intentional delaying of research and treatment, according to Sullivan. The VA has yet to release any documents about the impeded research, and VCS filed a FOIA appeal on June 29.
Sullivan said the VCS simply wants the government to support independent testing on veterans exposed to DU, but the Department of Defense prefers a "don't look, don't find policy."
"As a Gulf War veteran, I have watched too many of my friends die without answers, without treatment, and without benefits," Sullivan said. "In a few cases, veterans completed suicide due to Gulf War illness and the frustration of dealing with VA."
Sullivan testified as disturbing reports have emerged in recent months from Fallujah, Iraq, about the skyrocketing rates of birth defects and cancer,  which are being blamed on DU-laced bombs and munitions used by US and British forces during a brutal coalition assault on the city in 2004. Iraqi human rights officials are reportedly planning to file a lawsuit.
DU is a dense metal added to munitions and bombs to pierce tanks and armor, and the military seems to chose unrestricted use of the radioactive substance over its soldiers' safety. Sullivan told Truthout that original medical tests ordered in a 1993 memo, which also called for personnel to be trained in dealing with contaminated equipment, were canceled after a training video scared soldiers.
"It was pulled after [the training video] was seen by some soldiers who became upset when they saw soldiers in moon suits holding Geiger counters, and the military realized that the training could present a problem in the battlefield where soldiers need to disregard exposure issues while trying to kill the enemy," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said that the DU "follow-up" program the VA consistently references was inadequate as it consisted of sporadic studies on only a small fraction of estimated 400,000 veterans exposed to the radioactive heavy metal.
"The VA does not listen to expert scientists. The VA does not even listen to Congress," Sullivan said in his testimony. "Two decades of inaction have already passed. Gulf War veterans urgently want to avoid the four decades of endless suffering endured by our Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange."
Sullivan said it took 40 years and an act of Congress to fund and sanction independent studies that proved the VA was responsible for providing benefits to soldier suffering from Agent Orange-related diseases.
The VA now recognizes that exposure to Agent Orange, an herbicide sprayed across Vietnam to kill foliage and expose guerrilla fighters, has plagued veterans with several deadly diseases and disorders.
VCS also advocated for the research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that became the foundation of new PTSD rules, making it easier for veterans to receive benefits.
Last week, the VA announced $2.8 million worth of research on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, a sum Sullivan called "paltry." A VA press release announcing the research does not mention DU. The release references a recent Institute of Medicine report that identified the quarter million veterans affected by various symptoms associated with Gulf War illness, which "cannot be ascribed to any psychiatric disorder and likely result from genetic and environmental factors, although the data are not strong enough to draw conclusions about specific causes."
Popular medical science holds that kidney damage is the primary health problem associated with exposure to high amounts of DU. The heavy metal is 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium, and is also linked to lung cancer in some cases and leukemia in even fewer cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Some critics have claimed that the WHO and governments have suppressed links between DU and cancer.
The debate over the use of DU in conventional warfare will rage on as the Fallujah fallout continues, but according to Sullivan, there is only one way for thousands of Gulf War veterans at home to know the truth and receive the relief they deserve.
"After 20 years of waiting, we refuse to wait on more empty promises from VA. The first step is for Secretary Shinseki and Chief of Staff Gingrich to immediately clean house of VA bureaucrats who have so utterly and miserably failed our veterans for too long," said Sullivan, vowing to petition Congress if the VA refuses to respond. "Our waiting must end now."