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

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 11 september 2010

The Empire 654

The Self-Inflicted Wounds of 9/11

by: Melvin A. Goodman, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis
The attacks on Washington and New York City nine years ago extracted a terrible price in terms of blood and treasure. Unfortunately, the adverse US reaction to 9/11 has also extracted a terrible price with no end in sight. Although al-Qaeda is no longer a sophisticated terrorist organization capable of launching large-scale operations and is merely one of many jihadist groups based in Pakistan, the United States has thrown itself into the briar patch called Afghanistan.
Nearly twice as many Americans have died fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than were lost in the 9/11 attacks. The total cost of these long wars will be in the trillions of dollars. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, the cost of oil was less than $25 a barrel; the price reached $140 a barrel in 2008 and, currently, the price is still three times the 2001 levels. The entire national security system has suffered as a result of the wrong-headed actions of the Bush administration in Iraq and the Obama administration in Afghanistan. The Iraq war marked the greatest travesty of all, based on a series of official lies that linked Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden and Iraq to weapons of mass destruction. As we knew seven years ago, there were no such links and no such weapons.
President Barack Obama declared last week that the US combat role in Iraq was over, but Americans continue to die in military action there, and 50,000 American servicemen and women will remain at least until the end of next year. President Obama inherited the war in Afghanistan, but last year he unwisely redefined and expanded it when he bowed to the demands of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Pentagon to send more than 30,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan. The president has defended this action as being part of the struggle against bin Laden and al-Qaeda, but we have been told authoritatively that there are only 50-100 al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan. In both wars, we have aligned ourselves with corrupt governments that are dysfunctional.
These wars have been used to dramatically increase the size of the defense and intelligence budgets, which find the United States now spending more than the rest of the world in both categories. The $708 billion defense budget for FY 2011 is higher than at any point in our post-World War II history. In constant dollars it is 16 percent higher than the 1952 Korean War budget peak and 36 percent higher than the 1968 Vietnam War budget peak. Secretary of Defense Gates argues that the budget plan "rebalances" spending by putting an emphasis on the near-term challenges of counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and stabilization operations, but the plan makes no effort to prioritize these near-term commitments against funding for long-term commitments. The Pentagon's role in so-called nation building assures continued high defense budgets, and already we hear demands for an increased military role in Yemen and Somalia.
The defense budget is, in fact, out of control, increasing funding for both near-term and long-term programs and activities. Overall procurement spending would rise by nearly eight percent in the 2011 budget, buying virtually all of the equipment the services want. Historically, the costs to operate and maintain the US military tend to grow at about 2.5 percent a year. Not this year! The defense budget request for Operations and Maintenance is more than $200 billion, which represents an 8.5 percent increase. President Dwight David Eisenhower's warnings about the military-industrial complex and the need for commanders in chief who actually understand the Pentagon's clarion calls have never been more germane.
In addition to unprecedented military spending, the Pentagon has gained increased leverage over the $75 billion intelligence community as well as increased influence over the national security and foreign policies of the United States. As the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency decline in influence, the Pentagon's role in intelligence, nation building and third world assistance grows significantly. The armed services committees of the Senate and House of Representatives have become sounding boards for the interests of the Pentagon, and the increased absence of military experience on the part of Congressional representatives contributes to an absence of oversight. No genuine Congressional oversight of the intelligence community has been conducted since 9/11, and the Obama administration has made sure that the only internal oversight process at the CIA, the Office of the Inspector General, cannot function in any meaningful way.
The unfortunate creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) in the wake of 9/11 has led to a more sclerotic policy process as well as the growth of contractors who have been a drain on the national treasury. DHS has weakened key government agencies.; it took Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to expose the bureaucratic mess at DHS. Spending on intelligence has tripled since 9/11, marking the rise of a national security state that finds all branches of government, even the judiciary, bowing to the demands of the military and intelligence communities. Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration used the state secrets privilege to block a lawsuit by former CIA prisoners who were tortured in overseas prisons.
We have had four directors of national intelligence in the past five years, and they have failed to correct the decline in strategic intelligence or strengthen the overall intelligence apparatus. The ability of the Nigerian "Christmas Day" bomber, who should have been a poster boy for the "No-Fly List," to board a commercial airline in December 2009 demonstrated the confused lines of authority in the intelligence community as well as the failure to learn lessons from 9/11. President Obama has so little confidence in the DNI and CIA that he did not even request a National Intelligence Estimate before making his wrong-headed decisions on Afghanistan. The intelligence community, moreover, has been unable to complete an estimate on Iran's nuclear program, which was promised nearly two years ago.
George Kennan wrote in his memoirs 60 years ago that it is the "shadows rather than the substance of things that move the hearts, and sway the deeds of statesmen." In his memoirs, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara finally acknowledged that "wars generate their own momentum and follow the law of unanticipated consequences." Since 9/11, the national security process has been in a state of decline with a dearth of statesmen and an abundance of shadows on issues dealing with Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, insurgency and, now, cyber-war that are swaying the actions of American policymakers. President Eisenhower warned that the fears of the cold war were distorted and exploited for political advantage. Similar distortions have taken place in the wake of 9/11. As a result, we are on a glide path that has bankrupted US national security policy and threatens to bankrupt its treasury as well.

vrijdag 10 september 2010

Amnesty International 3


Sonja heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "Amnesty International 2" achtergelaten:

10
Ter attentie:
Steun Amnesty Nederland en boek een hotel in een Israëlische nederzetting (2)

Lijstje van de 8 hotels in het volgens Amnesty Nederland "omstreden gebied" de Golanhoogten, en 2 hotels op de Westelijke Jordaanoever.



Obama 179

The Political Consequences of Stagnation

September 2010

Progressives should not take comfort from the dead end offered by tea party economics. They should try to understand what has led to the failure of Obama’s pallid Keynesianism.
My apologies to T. S. Eliot, but September, not April, is the cruelest month. Before 9/11/2001, there was 9/11/1973, when Gen. Pinochet toppled the Allende government in Chile and ushered in a 17-year reign of terror. More recently, on 9/15/2008, Lehman Brothers went bust and torpedoed the global economy, turning what had been a Wall Street crisis into a near-death experience for the global financial system.
Two years later, the global economy remains very fragile. The signs of recovery that desperate policymakers claimed to have detected late in 2009 and early this year have proven to be mirages. In Europe, four million people are unemployed and the austerity programs imposed on highly indebted countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy, and Ireland will add hundreds of thousands more to the dole. Germany is an exception to the dismal rule.
Although technically the United States isn't in recession, recovery is a distant prospect in the world’s biggest economy, which contracted by 2.9 percent in 2009. This is the message of the anemic second-quarter GDP growth rate of 1.6 percent and a real unemployment above the 9.6 percent official rate if one factors in those who have given up looking for work. Firms continue to refrain from investing, banks continue not to lend, and consumers continue to refuse to spend. And the absence of a new stimulus program, as the impact of the $787 billion Washington injected into the economy in 2009 peters out, virtually ensures that the much-feared double-dip recession will become a reality.
That the American consumer does not spend has implications not only for the U.S. economy, but for the global economy. The debt-fuelled spending of Americans was the motor of the pre-crisis globalized economy, and nobody else has stepped in to replace them since the crisis began. Consumer spending in China, fuelled by a government stimulus of $585 billion, has temporarily reversed contractionary trends in that country and East Asia. It has also had some impact in Africa and Latin America. But it has not been strong enough to pull the United States and Europe from stagnation. Moreover, in the absence of a new stimulus package in China, a relapse into low growth, stagnation, or recession is very real in East Asia.
To Cut or to Stimulate
Meanwhile, the debate in western policy circles has divided into two camps. One group sees the threat of government default as a bigger problem than stagnation and refuses to countenance any more stimulus spending. The other thinks stagnation is the greater threat and demands more stimulus to counter it. At the G20 meeting in Toronto in June, the two sides collided. Germany’s Angela Merkel advocated tightening, pointing to the threat of a default by Germany’s debt-laden satellite economies in southern Europe, particularly Greece. President Obama, on the other hand, facing an intractably high unemployment rate, wanted to continue expansionary policies, though he lacked the political clout to sustain them.
To the pro-spending people, the anti-deficit people don’t have much of an argument.  At a time when deflation is the big threat, fear of government spending stoking inflation is misplaced. The idea of burdening future generations with debt is odd since the best way to benefit tomorrow’s citizens is to ensure that they inherit healthy, growing economies. Deficit spending now is the means to achieve this growth. Moreover, government default is not a real threat for countries that borrow in currencies they control, like the United States, since, as a last option, they can repay their debts simply by having their central bank print more money.
Perhaps the most vocal pro-stimulus advocate is Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate, who has become the bête noire of many on the right. For Krugman, the problem was that the original stimulus was not big enough. Yet how big is the extra stimulus needed, and what other anti-stagnation measures can the government take? On these questions Krugman betrays some unease, perhaps realizing that traditional Keynesianism has its limits: “Nobody can be sure how well these measures would work, but it’s better to try something that might not work than to make excuses while workers suffer.”  The stark alternative to more aggressive deficit spending is “permanent stagnation and high unemployment,” says Krugman.
Krugman may have reason on his side, but reason has taken a backseat to ideology, interests, and politics. Despite high rates of unemployment, the anti-big government, anti-deficit forces have the initiative in three key Western countries: in Britain, where the Conservatives won on a platform of reducing government; in Germany, where the image of spendthrift Greeks and Spaniards financed with loans from hardworking Germans became the powerful horse Merkel’s party rode to maintain power; and in the United States.
The Obama Debacle
The anti-deficit perspective has gained ascendancy in the United States despite high unemployment for a number of reasons for this. First of all, the anti-deficit stand appeals to the anti-big government sentiments of the American middle class. Second, Wall Street has opportunistically embraced anti-deficit policies to derail Washington’s efforts to regulate it. Big government is the problem, it screams, not the big banks. Third and not to be underestimated is the reemergence of the ideological influence of doctrinaire neoliberals, including those who, as Martin Wolf puts it, “believe a deep slump would purge past excesses, and so lead to healthier economies and societies.” Fourth, the anti-spending economics has a mass base, the tea party movement. In contrast, the stimulus position is advocated by progressive intellectuals without a base or whose potential base has become disillusioned with Obama.
Still, the triumph of the hawks was not foreordained. According to Anatole Kaletsky, the economic commentator of the Times of London and someone not exactly sympathetic to the progressive point of view, the ascendancy of the anti-deficit forces stems from a major tactical mistake on the part of Obama coupled with the progressives’ failure to offer a convincing narrative for the crisis. The blunder was Obama’s taking responsibility for the crisis in a gesture of bipartisanship, in contrast to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who “refused to take any blame for the economic hardships.” Reagan and Thatcher devoted “the early years of their government to convincing voters that economic disaster was entirely the responsibility of previous left-wing governments, militant unions, and liberal progressive elites.”
But even more problematic, says Kaletsky, was the Obama narrative, which was a contradictory one that put the blame on greedy bankers while maintaining that the banks were too big to fail. “With banks recovering from the crisis more profitably and quickly than voters had been led to expect,” he argues in his book Capitalism 4.0,  “politicians of all parties have been branded by public sentiment as stooges of the very bankers they tried to blame.” Indeed, the Democrats’ finance reform package that recently passed in Congress can only reinforce this public perception of their being coopted or intimidated by the very people they denounce. It lacks provisions with teeth : a Glass-Steagall type of provision preventing commercial banks from doubling as investment banks; the banning of trading in derivatives, which Warren Buffett called “weapons of mass destruction;” a global financial transactions tax or Tobin Tax; and a strong lid on executive pay, bonuses, and stock options.
For Kaletsky, Obama should have portrayed the economic crisis as one created “by the polarized and oversimplified philosophy of market fundamentalism, not by bankers’ and regulators’ personality flaws. By offering such a systemic account of the crisis, politicians could capture the public imagination with a post-crisis narrative than the lynching of greedy bankers — and ultimately more dramatic.” But with aides like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, neither of whom had broken completely with neoliberalism, such a systemic account was simply not in the cards.
Toward a Progressive Strategy
The right wing has the momentum now and will probably win big in the U.S. elections in November. They will tie Obama and the Democrats so firmly to the crisis that people will forget it exploded during the reign of market fundamentalist George Bush. But with their primeval market economics, the fiscal hawks and tea partiers are unlikely to provide an alternative to what they have caricatured as Obama’s “socialism.” Allowing the economy to implode in order to be ideologically correct will invite an even greater repudiation from an economically insecure population.
But progressives should not take comfort from the dead end offered by tea party economics. They should try to understand what has led to the failure of Obama’s pallid Keynesianism. Beyond the tactical mistake of taking responsibility for the crisis and the failure to advance an aggressive anti-neoliberal narrative to explain it, the central problem that has plagued Obama and his team is their failure to offer an inspiring alternative to neoliberalism.
The technical elements of a progressive solution to the crisis have been thrashed out by Keynesian and other progressive economists: a much bigger stimulus, tighter regulation of the banks, loose monetary policies, higher taxes on the rich, rebuilding the national infrastructure, an industrial policy promoting green industries, controls on speculative capital flows, controls on outward bound foreign investment, a global currency, and a new global central bank.
The Obama administration has tried to enact some of these measures. But owing to its eagerness for bipartisanship, the ties of some of its prominent people to the economic elites, and the failure of key technocrats like Summers and Geithner to break with the neoliberal paradigm, it failed to present them as elements of a broader program of social reform aimed at democratizing control and management of the economy.
For progressives, the lesson to be derived from the stalling of Obamanomics is that technocratic management is not enough. Keynesian moves must be part of a broader vision and program. This strategy must have three key thrusts: democratic decision-making at all levels of the economy, from the enterprise to macroeconomic planning; second, greater equality in the distribution of wealth and income to make up for lower growth rates dictated by economic and environmental constraints; and third, a more cooperative, as opposed to competitive ethic, in production, distribution, and consumption.
Moreover, such a program cannot simply be dished out from above by a technocratic elite, as has been the fashion in this administration, one of whose greatest mistakes was to allow the mass movement that brought it to power to wither away. The people must be enlisted in the construction of the new economy, and here progressives have a lot to learn from the Tea Party movement that they must inevitably compete against in a life-and-death struggle for grassroots America.
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Krugman predicts that the likely electoral results in November “will paralyze policy for years to come.” But nature abhors a vacuum, and the common failure of both market fundamentalists and technocratic Keynesians so far to address the fears of the unemployed, the about-to-be unemployed, and the vast numbers of economically insecure people will most likely produce social forces that would tackle their fears and problems head-on.
A failure of the left to innovatively fill this space will inevitably spawn a reinvigorated right with fewer apprehensions about state intervention, one that could combine technocratic Keynesian initiatives with a populist but reactionary social and cultural program.There is a term for such a regime: fascist. As Roger Bootle, author of The Trouble with Markets, reminds us, millions of Germans were disillusioned with the free market and capitalism during the Great Depression. But with the failure of the left to provide a viable alternative, they became vulnerable to the rhetoric of a party that, once it came to power, combined Keynesian pump-priming measures that brought unemployment down to 3 percent with a devastating counterrevolutionary social and cultural program.
Fascism in the United States? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.
My apologies to T. S. Eliot, but September, not April, is the cruelest month. Before 9/11/2001, there was 9/11/1973, when Gen. Pinochet toppled the Allende government in Chile and ushered in a 17-year reign of terror. More recently, on 9/15/2008, Lehman Brothers went bust and torpedoed the global economy, turning what had been a Wall Street crisis into a near-death experience for the global financial system.
Two years later, the global economy remains very fragile. The signs of recovery that desperate policymakers claimed to have detected late in 2009 and early this year have proven to be mirages. In Europe, four million people are unemployed and the austerity programs imposed on highly indebted countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy, and Ireland will add hundreds of thousands more to the dole. Germany is an exception to the dismal rule.
Although technically the United States isn't in recession, recovery is a distant prospect in the world’s biggest economy, which contracted by 2.9 percent in 2009. This is the message of the anemic second-quarter GDP growth rate of 1.6 percent and a real unemployment above the 9.6 percent official rate if one factors in those who have given up looking for work. Firms continue to refrain from investing, banks continue not to lend, and consumers continue to refuse to spend. And the absence of a new stimulus program, as the impact of the $787 billion Washington injected into the economy in 2009 peters out, virtually ensures that the much-feared double-dip recession will become a reality.
That the American consumer does not spend has implications not only for the U.S. economy, but for the global economy. The debt-fuelled spending of Americans was the motor of the pre-crisis globalized economy, and nobody else has stepped in to replace them since the crisis began. Consumer spending in China, fuelled by a government stimulus of $585 billion, has temporarily reversed contractionary trends in that country and East Asia. It has also had some impact in Africa and Latin America. But it has not been strong enough to pull the United States and Europe from stagnation. Moreover, in the absence of a new stimulus package in China, a relapse into low growth, stagnation, or recession is very real in East Asia.
To Cut or to Stimulate
Meanwhile, the debate in western policy circles has divided into two camps. One group sees the threat of government default as a bigger problem than stagnation and refuses to countenance any more stimulus spending. The other thinks stagnation is the greater threat and demands more stimulus to counter it. At the G20 meeting in Toronto in June, the two sides collided. Germany’s Angela Merkel advocated tightening, pointing to the threat of a default by Germany’s debt-laden satellite economies in southern Europe, particularly Greece. President Obama, on the other hand, facing an intractably high unemployment rate, wanted to continue expansionary policies, though he lacked the political clout to sustain them.
To the pro-spending people, the anti-deficit people don’t have much of an argument.  At a time when deflation is the big threat, fear of government spending stoking inflation is misplaced. The idea of burdening future generations with debt is odd since the best way to benefit tomorrow’s citizens is to ensure that they inherit healthy, growing economies. Deficit spending now is the means to achieve this growth. Moreover, government default is not a real threat for countries that borrow in currencies they control, like the United States, since, as a last option, they can repay their debts simply by having their central bank print more money.
Perhaps the most vocal pro-stimulus advocate is Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate, who has become the bête noire of many on the right. For Krugman, the problem was that the original stimulus was not big enough. Yet how big is the extra stimulus needed, and what other anti-stagnation measures can the government take? On these questions Krugman betrays some unease, perhaps realizing that traditional Keynesianism has its limits: “Nobody can be sure how well these measures would work, but it’s better to try something that might not work than to make excuses while workers suffer.”  The stark alternative to more aggressive deficit spending is “permanent stagnation and high unemployment,” says Krugman.
Krugman may have reason on his side, but reason has taken a backseat to ideology, interests, and politics. Despite high rates of unemployment, the anti-big government, anti-deficit forces have the initiative in three key Western countries: in Britain, where the Conservatives won on a platform of reducing government; in Germany, where the image of spendthrift Greeks and Spaniards financed with loans from hardworking Germans became the powerful horse Merkel’s party rode to maintain power; and in the United States.
The Obama Debacle
The anti-deficit perspective has gained ascendancy in the United States despite high unemployment for a number of reasons for this. First of all, the anti-deficit stand appeals to the anti-big government sentiments of the American middle class. Second, Wall Street has opportunistically embraced anti-deficit policies to derail Washington’s efforts to regulate it. Big government is the problem, it screams, not the big banks. Third and not to be underestimated is the reemergence of the ideological influence of doctrinaire neoliberals, including those who, as Martin Wolf puts it, “believe a deep slump would purge past excesses, and so lead to healthier economies and societies.” Fourth, the anti-spending economics has a mass base, the tea party movement. In contrast, the stimulus position is advocated by progressive intellectuals without a base or whose potential base has become disillusioned with Obama.
Still, the triumph of the hawks was not foreordained. According to Anatole Kaletsky, the economic commentator of the Times of London and someone not exactly sympathetic to the progressive point of view, the ascendancy of the anti-deficit forces stems from a major tactical mistake on the part of Obama coupled with the progressives’ failure to offer a convincing narrative for the crisis. The blunder was Obama’s taking responsibility for the crisis in a gesture of bipartisanship, in contrast to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who “refused to take any blame for the economic hardships.” Reagan and Thatcher devoted “the early years of their government to convincing voters that economic disaster was entirely the responsibility of previous left-wing governments, militant unions, and liberal progressive elites.”
But even more problematic, says Kaletsky, was the Obama narrative, which was a contradictory one that put the blame on greedy bankers while maintaining that the banks were too big to fail. “With banks recovering from the crisis more profitably and quickly than voters had been led to expect,” he argues in his book Capitalism 4.0,  “politicians of all parties have been branded by public sentiment as stooges of the very bankers they tried to blame.” Indeed, the Democrats’ finance reform package that recently passed in Congress can only reinforce this public perception of their being coopted or intimidated by the very people they denounce. It lacks provisions with teeth : a Glass-Steagall type of provision preventing commercial banks from doubling as investment banks; the banning of trading in derivatives, which Warren Buffett called “weapons of mass destruction;” a global financial transactions tax or Tobin Tax; and a strong lid on executive pay, bonuses, and stock options.
For Kaletsky, Obama should have portrayed the economic crisis as one created “by the polarized and oversimplified philosophy of market fundamentalism, not by bankers’ and regulators’ personality flaws. By offering such a systemic account of the crisis, politicians could capture the public imagination with a post-crisis narrative than the lynching of greedy bankers — and ultimately more dramatic.” But with aides like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, neither of whom had broken completely with neoliberalism, such a systemic account was simply not in the cards.
Toward a Progressive Strategy
The right wing has the momentum now and will probably win big in the U.S. elections in November. They will tie Obama and the Democrats so firmly to the crisis that people will forget it exploded during the reign of market fundamentalist George Bush. But with their primeval market economics, the fiscal hawks and tea partiers are unlikely to provide an alternative to what they have caricatured as Obama’s “socialism.” Allowing the economy to implode in order to be ideologically correct will invite an even greater repudiation from an economically insecure population.
But progressives should not take comfort from the dead end offered by tea party economics. They should try to understand what has led to the failure of Obama’s pallid Keynesianism. Beyond the tactical mistake of taking responsibility for the crisis and the failure to advance an aggressive anti-neoliberal narrative to explain it, the central problem that has plagued Obama and his team is their failure to offer an inspiring alternative to neoliberalism.
The technical elements of a progressive solution to the crisis have been thrashed out by Keynesian and other progressive economists: a much bigger stimulus, tighter regulation of the banks, loose monetary policies, higher taxes on the rich, rebuilding the national infrastructure, an industrial policy promoting green industries, controls on speculative capital flows, controls on outward bound foreign investment, a global currency, and a new global central bank.
The Obama administration has tried to enact some of these measures. But owing to its eagerness for bipartisanship, the ties of some of its prominent people to the economic elites, and the failure of key technocrats like Summers and Geithner to break with the neoliberal paradigm, it failed to present them as elements of a broader program of social reform aimed at democratizing control and management of the economy.
For progressives, the lesson to be derived from the stalling of Obamanomics is that technocratic management is not enough. Keynesian moves must be part of a broader vision and program. This strategy must have three key thrusts: democratic decision-making at all levels of the economy, from the enterprise to macroeconomic planning; second, greater equality in the distribution of wealth and income to make up for lower growth rates dictated by economic and environmental constraints; and third, a more cooperative, as opposed to competitive ethic, in production, distribution, and consumption.
Moreover, such a program cannot simply be dished out from above by a technocratic elite, as has been the fashion in this administration, one of whose greatest mistakes was to allow the mass movement that brought it to power to wither away. The people must be enlisted in the construction of the new economy, and here progressives have a lot to learn from the Tea Party movement that they must inevitably compete against in a life-and-death struggle for grassroots America.
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Krugman predicts that the likely electoral results in November “will paralyze policy for years to come.” But nature abhors a vacuum, and the common failure of both market fundamentalists and technocratic Keynesians so far to address the fears of the unemployed, the about-to-be unemployed, and the vast numbers of economically insecure people will most likely produce social forces that would tackle their fears and problems head-on.
A failure of the left to innovatively fill this space will inevitably spawn a reinvigorated right with fewer apprehensions about state intervention, one that could combine technocratic Keynesian initiatives with a populist but reactionary social and cultural program.There is a term for such a regime: fascist. As Roger Bootle, author of The Trouble with Markets, reminds us, millions of Germans were disillusioned with the free market and capitalism during the Great Depression. But with the failure of the left to provide a viable alternative, they became vulnerable to the rhetoric of a party that, once it came to power, combined Keynesian pump-priming measures that brought unemployment down to 3 percent with a devastating counterrevolutionary social and cultural program.
Fascism in the United States? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.
Senior analyst at Philippine think-tank Focus on the Global South, TNI fellow and Akbayan representative in the Filipino Congress.
Author of more than 14 books, Bello was awarded the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) in 2003 for "... outstanding efforts in educating civil society about the effects of corporate globalisation, and how alternatives to it can be implemented." Bello has been described by the Economist as the man “who popularised a new term: deglobalisation.”
Bello predicted the financial crisis several years prior to the current meltdown and is a globally respected figure within the alternative globalisation movement. Canadian author Naomi Klein called him the "world's leading no-nonsense revolutionary."

donderdag 9 september 2010

Christian Terrorists


US soldiers 'killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies'

Soldiers face charges over secret 'kill team' which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war
Stryker soldiers who allegedly plotted to kill Afghan civilians.
Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon, Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield are four of the five Stryker soldiers who face murder charges. Photograph: Public Domain
Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret "kill team" that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.
Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.
In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.
According to investigators and legal documents, discussion of killing Afghan civilians began after the arrival of Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs at forward operating base Ramrod last November. Other soldiers told the army's criminal investigation command that Gibbs boasted of the things he got away with while serving in Iraq and said how easy it would be to "toss a grenade at someone and kill them".
One soldier said he believed Gibbs was "feeling out the platoon".
Investigators said Gibbs, 25, hatched a plan with another soldier, Jeremy Morlock, 22, and other members of the unit to form a "kill team". While on patrol over the following months they allegedly killed at least three Afghan civilians. According to the charge sheet, the first target was Gul Mudin, who was killed "by means of throwing a fragmentary grenade at him and shooting him with a rifle", when the patrol entered the village of La Mohammed Kalay in January.
Morlock and another soldier, Andrew Holmes, were on guard at the edge of a poppy field when Mudin emerged and stopped on the other side of a wall from the soldiers. Gibbs allegedly handed Morlock a grenade who armed it and dropped it over the wall next to the Afghan and dived for cover. Holmes, 19, then allegedly fired over the wall.
Later in the day, Morlock is alleged to have told Holmes that the killing was for fun and threatened him if he told anyone.
The second victim, Marach Agha, was shot and killed the following month. Gibbs is alleged to have shot him and placed a Kalashnikov next to the body to justify the killing. In May Mullah Adadhdad was killed after being shot and attacked with a grenade.
The Army Times reported that a least one of the soldiers collected the fingers of the victims as souvenirs and that some of them posed for photographs with the bodies.
Five soldiers – Gibbs, Morlock, Holmes, Michael Wagnon and Adam Winfield – are accused of murder and aggravated assault among other charges. All of the soldiers have denied the charges. They face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.
The killings came to light in May after the army began investigating a brutal assault on a soldier who told superiors that members of his unit were smoking hashish. The Army Times reported that members of the unit regularly smoked the drug on duty and sometimes stole it from civilians.
The soldier, who was straight out of basic training and has not been named, said he witnessed the smoking of hashish and drinking of smuggled alcohol but initially did not report it out of loyalty to his comrades. But when he returned from an assignment at an army headquarters and discovered soldiers using the shipping container in which he was billeted to smoke hashish he reported it.
Two days later members of his platoon, including Gibbs and Morlock, accused him of "snitching", gave him a beating and told him to keep his mouth shut. The soldier reported the beating and threats to his officers and then told investigators what he knew of the "kill team".
Following the arrest of the original five accused in June, seven other soldiers were charged last month with attempting to cover up the killings and violent assault on the soldier who reported the smoking of hashish. The charges will be considered by a military grand jury later this month which will decide if there is enough evidence for a court martial. Army investigators say Morlock has admitted his involvement in the killings and given details about the role of others including Gibbs. But his lawyer, Michael Waddington, is seeking to have that confession suppressed because he says his client was interviewed while under the influence of prescription drugs taken for battlefield injuries and that he was also suffering from traumatic brain injury.
"Our position is that his statements were incoherent, and taken while he was under a cocktail of drugs that shouldn't have been mixed," Waddington told the Seattle Times.

Michael Moore

OpenMike -- My New Blog -- Blasts Off on MichaelMoore.com
Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hey Everybody,
Though I'm in the middle of my next project, I, like you, can feel the ill wind blowing across the country as the crazy Right is already suited up and ready to ride into town in November. I don't have any magic tricks to show Mr. Obama, so I've decided instead to start a brand new unstoppable, unapproved, uncompromising, and utterly unruly daily blog on my site (MichaelMoore.com). And sometimes I'll write about what's really on my mind (sports, Marion Cotillard, lost episodes of "F-Troop" and "Rat Patrol," the weather in Portland).
Actually, a lot is on my mind these days, and I thought you'd like to hear my take on things. But before I launch into the Republicans, I remember the nuns taught us to clean up our own backyard first. So, in addition to my previous offer to move in to the White House and work for free, I'll now be sharing my thoughts with the President and with you on my new daily blog.
I'm calling it OpenMike, and I'd love for you to make a habit of checking it out every day -- and posting your own comments for the President and the voting public to see. Very soon we'll have some live chats and some other new additions to my site (like an uncensored "Ask Me ANYTHING FAQ," and some little daily subversive missions I'll send you on). Foreign visitors who are scared sh*tless that the bad old days are coming back are also welcome to join in.
Here are the first two days of my new blog (from Monday and Wednesday). I've reprinted Wednesday's below in full. Monday's has language I, um, never use, but I got inspired by Rahm Emanuel and I wanted him to read it (so I had to speak in his tongue). Some teens (and younger) may have parents who won't want them to read it, so kids, check with mom and dad as you always do.
I am so sincerely disappointed at how Obama and the Dems have blown much of the first 20 months of holding absolute power. (This is not to say they haven't done a lot of good, but stop any five people on the street and ask them to name the "great accomplishments" of Obama's first term and watch what happens.) The administration's bend-over-backwards, can't-we-all-get-along attitude may win them points at a 4-H Club fair, but their opponents are ruthless cutthroats and have rammed our good country right down the toilet -- and they want to be back in power so they can continue the final flush of everything we used to have and stood for. This likely debacle is less than 8 weeks away.
But it doesn't have to happen. Obama's speech Wednesday -- click here -- was awesome and showed the balls we've been waiting to see since January 2009. Do the Democrats deserve what they're about to get? Absolutely. But we don't. We'll be the ones who will have to suffer; they'll all have cushy lobbying jobs. So do we now have to save them from themselves? How much longer will we have to play this stupid charade? Or do we just let them crash and burn and then start something new out of their wreckage?
I believe our first African-American president deserves a couple more years to try to get it right. After all, he didn't create the disasters he inherited. I think someone's just got to light a fire under him. So I'll strike my match every day on this new blog. And I invite you to join me and do the same.
Anyways, enjoy my blogs, enjoy the site (it carries a lot of the buried news you may miss from the mainstream media every day, and it has some other cool things). Thanks to millions of you on my email list, to my 300,000 friends on Facebook and the nearly 700,000 of you who follow me on Twitter where I tweet and tweet and never sleep.
Thanks!
Michael
'A Week of Proclamations'

By Michael Moore

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 2:45 PM

Last week, President Obama addressed the nation, declaring the war in Iraq to be over and that combat troops were all home. Yesterday, two American soldiers were killed in Iraq -- by an Iraqi government soldier. This followed an attack on Sunday on a U.S. base in Baghdad. It all seemed a bit confusing to me because I always thought that when a President declares something, it's supposed to happen. Now I'm worried about the other proclamations Mr. Obama made this past week:

Tuesday, August 31:
"Today, I am announcing that combat operations have ceased in Iraq. There will be no more combat. Combat is over. Done. Finished."

Wednesday, September 1:
"I am here today to declare an end to global warming. Don't ask me how I did it. And there's no reason to look at thermometers or the polar ice caps anymore, because I just told you everything's great. Just send me another Nobel Peace Prize."

Thursday, September 2:
"Today I am announcing there is no more unemployment in America. Everyone else just got a big raise and fantastic health coverage. And all 37 million outsourced jobs are back. (Don't ask your bosses about the raise tomorrow, they'll just be embarrassed.)"

Friday, September 3:
"Today I am announcing that mosquitoes and all insects smaller than a centimeter will heretofore go away and stop biting hard working Americans."

Saturday, September 4:
"After today's victory over UConn, the Michigan Wolverines will cease playing effective football for the rest of the college season."

Sunday, September 5:
"From this day forward, I hereby declare an end to Formica and all other prefabricated counter toppings. Not for me to judge, but: Nobel Peace Prize?"

Monday, September 6:
"As your President, I hereby declare an end to Delaware."

Tuesday, September 7:
"Democratic Party combat operations have ended. Actually, they never started. We've refused to stand up to the Republicans for the past 20 months -- uh, sorry, make that 20 years -- I mean 30 years -- and we see no reason to start now. Republicans will organize a government after November and I'm just hoping they'll give me a few months to pack before they impeach me for being a Muslim atheist."

Wednesday, September 8:
"Today I am declaring an end to the slogans 'Yes We Can!,' 'Change We Can Believe In,' and 'Hope.' The truth is this: No we can't, there's not much change you can believe in, and my only hope is to find a way to turn the clock back to January of 2009 so I can start over and fight like the champ the American people thought they were electing. That is all. I will have no further proclamations."

the Empire 653

Two Multibillionaire Brothers Are Remaking America for Their Own Benefit

by: Jim Hightower, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
There's a difference between being paranoid and being suspicious. Paranoia is mental disturbance; suspicion is a rational deduction.
For example, if you suspect that America's economy, politics, government, media, judiciary and practically every other system has been wired to favor corporate interests over every other interest in our country, you're deducing, not hallucinating. From the infamous Wall Street bailout to the Supreme Court's shameful decree that corporations have more political rights than humans, we see again and again that corporate might overwhelms what's right.
This is not by accident, but by the deliberate, relentless efforts of corporatists to bend our nation's institutions to their will. Take one huge corporation you've probably never heard of, even though your consumer dollars are financing its right-wing agenda.
Do you buy Northern tissue, Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups or Vanity Fair napkins? These well-known brands are owned and produced by Koch Industries (pronounced "coke") in Wichita, Kan. Koch is also a major producer of oil, gas, timber, coal, cattle, refined petroleum, asphalt, polyethylene plastic ... and much, much more.
Charles and David Koch, who control this family-owned empire, have a net worth of $14 billion each, ranking both in a tie for the 19th richest person on the planet. They boast of being "self-made" billionaires, though they had a little help from Daddy. Fred Koch started this namesake business, and his sons got a leg up on their climb to billionairedom by inheriting Fred's company. They also inherited something else: a burning ideological commitment to right-wing politics (Daddy Fred helped found the John Birch Society).
Charles and David have used the wealth they draw from Koch Industries to fuel a network of three Koch Family Foundations, which have set up and financed a secretive army of political operatives dedicated to achieving the brothers' antigovernment, corporate-controlled vision for America.
This force includes national and state-level think tanks, Astroturf front groups, academic shills, university centers, political-training programs, fundraising clearinghouses, publications, lobbyists and various other units useful to their ideological cause. They spend freely on dozens of ideologically grounded right-wing groups to influence schoolteachers and high-school curricula, state and federal judges, lawyers and legal scholars, conservative policy thinkers and media producers, city-council candidates and local party activists.
Their aim is to shove the country's national debate to the hard right, discombobulate the public's progressive wishes, and alter government policies to advance corporate interests generally and the Kochs' own interests specifically.
Americans for Prosperity, the third-largest recipient of Koch foundation largesse, is the brothers' overtly political unit. Essentially, it is a front group for mass-producing front groups. Much like McDonald's churns out Big Mac franchises, AFP can pop out a grass-rootsy-looking, cookie-cutter political operation on demand. Its menu includes such garnishes as hoked-up studies, alarmist talking points, deceptive attack ads, divisive hate messages, celebrity and religious endorsers, and a menagerie of media stunts.
Consider the "tea bag" rebellion. No one professes more hatred for the two-party, business-as-usual political system in Washington than those angry Americans who're caught up in the tea-bag rallies. Yet unbeknownst to most of the mad-as-hellers who have showed up, it was AFP's Republican-tied lobbyists and political functionaries who cynically financed, organized and orchestrated the very first tea-bag protest. AFP has steadily co-opted the tea-bag faction to make it a front for the corporate agenda, and many of the tea-bag groups have devolved into subsidiaries of the Republican Party.
Indeed, AFP has become the Astroturf-to-Go Store, fabricating and spreading fake grass-roots organizations all across the country, including Patients United Now (anti-health care reform), Hot Air Tour (anti-global warming), Free Our Energy (pro-offshore drilling), No Stimulus (tried to kill Obama's economic recovery plan) and Save My Ballot Tour (tries to keep workers from joining unions).
It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you -- and they are! While such corporate elites as the Kochs are a tiny minority of Americans, they are able to hide their own selfish agenda behind front groups, surreptitiously skewing our public debate, agenda and policies to serve themselves. Ultimately, what they are out to get is nothing less than America's essential uniting ethic of the common good, replacing our democracy with their corporate kleptocracy.
National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

Israel as a Rogue State 97

New on REDRESS INFORMATION & ANALYSIS website:

TWO  ARTICLES:

ARTICLE 1 - "The boycott of Israel is "gaining speed".

LOCATION (URL) -
http://www.redress.cc/palestine/ldavidson20100909

SYNOPSIS - Lawrence Davidson outlines the reasons why the boycott of Israel is
gaining speed, from “the horrors of the Israeli occupation and its
ghettoizing of the people of Gaza”, to the segregation and economic and
social discrimination against Israel’s non-Jewish population, to the
corrupting influences of Zionism on policy-making institutions of Western
governments, especially those of the United States.
--

ARTICLE 2 - “Iran’s President Ahmadinejad should desist from harmful
rhetoric."

LOCATION (URL) -
http://www.redress.cc/global/pjballes20100909

SYNOPSIS - Paul J. Balles argues that Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric on Israel and the US is pointless and
counter-productive: “While one may sympathize with the reasons for his verbal
attacks, Ahmadinejad would do well for himself, the Gulf and the world if he
bit his tongue occasionally and restrained his inordinate pride.”

--

Redress Information & Analysis
Website  - http://www.redress.cc
Newsblog - http://redressnewsblog.blogspot.com
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/redressvideo
blip.tv channel - http://redress.blip.tv
Twitter channel - http://twitter.com/redress

Redress Information & Analysis is dedicated to exposing injustice,
disinformation and bigotry and to providing thought-provoking interpretations
of current affairs.

woensdag 8 september 2010

Amnesty International 2

Bij Amnesty International in Nederland raakt men steeds meer in verwarring. Leest u dit eens:


r.dewijs@amnesty.nl

 aan mijinfow.lankampA.Hooijsmak.vanlieshout

Aan Stan van Houcke en Karel van Broekhoven




Geachte heren, 


Ik werd vorige week geattendeerd op het bericht hieronder door Wim Lankamp. Hierin lijkt AI positief te adviseren over hotels in Israël/ Westbank w.o.  Kibbutz Kalia. Ik heb onze website doorgekamd, maar kan dit bericht nergens vinden onder onze vaste rubrieken. Kunt u mij meer info geven m.b.t. de bron (bijv. een uitgebreide URL) van dit bericht.
 Ik wil dan onmiddellijk informeren in Adam over hoe dit bericht ooit vanuit AI geplaatst heeft kunnen worden. Het is zeker geen AI beleid om zulke advertenties te plaatsen onder de AI-logo.

Bij voorbaat dank voor uw medewerking. 
Ik kom z.s.m. terug op deze zaak.

Met vr. groet,

Ruth de Wijs
Landenspecialiste Israël/Bezette Gebieden/Palestijnse Autoriteit
tel. 033-4614334
mob. 06-53615768


r.dewijs@amnesty.nl aan info, mij, w.lankamp, A.Hooijsma, k.vanlieshout
details weergeven 07:11 (2 uren geleden)
Afbeeldingen worden niet weergegeven.
Afbeeldingen hieronder weergeven - Afbeeldingen van r.dewijs@amnesty.nl altijd weergeven
Beste Karel,

Hieronder een reactie van onze Midden-Oosten coördinator, Koen van Lieshout i.z. de hotel aanbevelingen m.b.t. locaties op het door Israël bezet gebied.
Zoals je kunt lezen, schijnt het om een fondswerving methode te gaan. Helaas wellicht niet zo goed doordacht i.z. adressen in de Oost- Mediterraan, waar de door Israël bezette gebieden liggen.
Koen en ons hoofd van Externe Zaken, Lars van Troost, zijn bezig met een onderzoek naar de achtergrond van deze actie. Ik ben bang dat het hier om een ondoordachte actie gaat dat op een of andere manier zonder autorisatie van de directie op de website is gekomen.

Je wordt op de hoogte gehouden.

Met vriendelijke groet,

Ruth de Wijs

-----Doorgestuurd door Ruth de Wijs/NL/Amnesty International op 09/08/2010 12:45PM -----
Aan: Ruth de Wijs/NL/Amnesty International
Van: Koen van Lieshout/NL/Amnesty International
Datum: 09/08/2010 11:34AM
cc: Alexander Hooijsma/NL/Amnesty International
Onderwerp: Re: Fw: via Amnesty een hotel boeken - urgent!

Dag Ruth en Alexander,

...

Zojuist sprak ik Lars over dat gebeuren met het hotel. Het is dus niet zo dat AI specifiek hotels in Israël aanbeveelt, maar blijkbaar is er met oog op fondsenwerving een deal gesloten met bookings.com. Ik ben met jullie eens dat de associatie met een hotel in een nederzetting echt niet kan. Nu is de vraag of we uberhaupt in zee moeten gaan met zo'n website. Lars neemt dit op met de afdeling die dat heeft georganiseerd. Mochten er nog vragen komen dan houd het er maar op dat we de associatie met Kibbutz Kalia onwenselijk vinden en dat hieraan gewerkt wordt. Neem aan dat er een contract is gesloten met bookings.com, dus ben benieuwd of we daar zomaar onderuit kunnen. Ik houd jullie op de hoogte.

......

Gr.,
Koen





Tot zover Amnesty.

Vooral deze zin is opmerkelijk: 'Nu is de vraag of we uberhaupt in zee moeten gaan met zo'n website.' Sinds wanneer is het een vraag voor Amnesty om al dan niet mee te doen aan een actie die lijdt tot deelname aan het schenden van mensenrechten? Mijn advies is te stoppen met steun aan deze mensenrechten organisatie totdat men daar beseft dat het meedoen aan het schenden van mensenrechten niet meer kan.