Monthly Archives: August 2012

Morsi Delivers his Calling Card

By Pepe Escobar

August 31, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – You’d better not mess with Muslim Brother Morsi.

Straight out of “communist” China – where he secured a red carpet welcome from President Hu Jintao and vice-president Xi Jinping – the Egyptian president lands in “evil” Iran as a true Arab world leader. [1]
Imagine conducting a poll in Tampa, Florida, among delegates at the Republican convention anointing the dodgy Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan duo as their presidential ticket. Chances are Morsi would be ranked worse than Hitler (oh no; that was Saddam. Or maybe Osama. Or maybe Ahmadinejad … ) geopolitical divide. On one side, the 1% crowd yelling for blood – be it from Barack Obama or from assorted Muslims. On the other side, the bulk of the real “international community”, practically the whole global South (including observers such as China, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico) refusing to bend over to imperial military/financial diktats. Reaffirming its impeccable journalistic credentials, US corporate media dismisses it all as just “a Third World jamboree”. 
Anyway, the big news is that Egypt is back. In other news, the Washington-Tel Aviv axis is apoplectic. 
Morsi may be walking like the proverbial Egyptian in popular imagination; sideways. In fact he’s advancing all the time. By now it’s clear that Egypt’s new foreign policy if focused on restoring Cairo, historically the intellectual hub of the Arab world, to its leadership position – usurped by the oil-rich barbarians from the House of Saud during those decades when Egypt was a mere lowly servant of Washington’s geopolitical designs. 
Those were the (long gone) days – over three decades ago – when Tehran broke relations with Cairo over Egypt’s signing of the Camp David accords. Morsi’s attendance of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran may not yet signal the return of full diplomatic relations, as Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali has been spinning. But it’s an earth-shattering diplomatic coup. 
Enter the new great game 
A quick recap is in order. Morsi’s first crucial foreign trip was to Saudi Arabia, for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting in Mecca. The House of Saud regards the Muslim Brotherhood with extreme suspicion, to say the least. Right after that Morsi got a personal visit from the Emir of Qatar, and a US$2 billion check with no strings attached; then he immediately sacked the old leadership of the Orwellian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). 
Meanwhile, Morsi had already launched Egypt’s plan to solve the interminable Syrian tragedy; a contact group uniting Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. No Syrian solution will be achieved without these key foreign players – with Egypt being careful to position itself as the mediator between Iran and Turkey/Saudi interests (which amount to the same; in 2008 Turkey struck a strategic, political, economic and security accord with the GCC). 
With just one stroke, Morsi cut off the head of a fake snake being sold to Washington for years by the Jordanian King Playstation and the House of Saud; that of an “evil” Shi’ite crescent from Iran to Lebanon via Iraq and Syria undermining the “stability” of the Middle East. 
What Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and Jordan’s younger Abdullah II in fact fear is the unrest and rage of their own populations, not to mention the mere idea of democracy; it’s easy to blame rampant Shi’ism for everything because Washington is gullible – or expedient – enough to buy it. 
The “Shi’ite crescent” myth can be debunked in a number of ways. Here’s just one – that I have witnessed in person, on the spot, for quite a while during the mid-2000s. Tehran knows that the majority of Iraq’s powerful clergy are totally adverse to the Khomeinist concept of the Islamic Republic. No wonder Tehran is very much worried about the renaissance of Najaf in Iraq as the premier holy city in Shi’ite Islam, to the detriment of Qom in Iran. 
Washington buys this propaganda because it’s right at the heart of the New Great Game. Whatever the administration in place, from Bush to Obama and beyond, a key Washington obsession is to neutralize what is seen as a Shi’ite axis from Lebanon, via Syria and Iraq, across Iran and all the way to Afghanistan. 
A mere look at the map tells us this axis is at center of the humongous US military deployment in Asia – facing China and Russia. Obviously the best intel in Beijing and Moscow has identified it for years. 
The Russians and the Chinese see how the Pentagon “manages” – indirectly – a great deal of the region’s oil reserves, including the Shi’ite northeast of Saudi Arabia. And they see how Iran – as the gravity center of the whole region – cannot but be Washington’s ultimate obsession. The nuclear row is just a pretext – the only one in the market, actually. Ultimately, it’s not a matter of destroying Iran, but of subjugating it to the condition of a docile ally. 
Into this hardcore power play steps in Brother Morsi, reshuffling a deck of cards as lightning quick as a Sheldon Adelson-employed Macau croupier. What might have taken months and perhaps years – the sidelining of the old SCAF leadership, Qatar being privileged to the detriment of Saudi Arabia, a presidential visit to Tehran, Egypt stepping up as a leader of the Arab world – was accomplished in barely two months. 
Of course it will all depend on how the Egypt-Iran relationship develops, and whether Qatar – and even Iran – are able to help the Muslim Brotherhood to keep Egypt from not collapsing (there’s no money for anything; a $36 billion annual deficit; nearly half the population is illiterate; and the country imports half of its food). 
Take me back to Camp David
The immediate problem with Egypt’s contact group for Syria is that Turkey – in yet another stance of its spectacularly counter-productive foreign policy – decided to boycott NAM. Yet Egypt is undeterred, proposing to add Iraq and Algeria to the contact group. [2] 
And in steps Tehran with yet another diplomatic “sweeping” proposal, according to the Foreign Ministry; a NAM troika of Egypt, Iran and Venezuela, plus Syria’s neighbors Iraq and Lebanon. So everybody wants to talk – apart, given the evidence, from Turkey. Tehran’s proposal is fully supported by Russia. 
And just as US corporate media coverage was reveling in the hate speeches at the millionaires’ convention in Tampa, “isolated” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Tehran and calls for a nuclear-free Middle East. [3] 
Not exactly the stance of a “new Hitler” who wants a nuclear bomb … yesterday, as the warmongering Bibi-Barak duo in Israel ceaselessly spin. And certainly a very popular global South denunciation of Washington’s cosmic hypocrisy of willfully ignoring Israel’s nuclear arsenal while squeezing Iran for its nuclear program. 
Needless to say, none of this has been reported by US corporate media. 
Meanwhile, all global South eyes are on Morsi. They way things are moving, it’s not far-fetched to imagine the Muslim Brotherhood playing the Camp David card sooner or later. In that case, expect Washington to go ballistic – and even time travel to 1970s Latin America, as in promoting (yet another) military coup. 
The bottom line is, if the Muslim Brotherhood really articulates an independent foreign policy over the next few months, with even a hint that Camp David should be renegotiated (over 90% of Egyptians would support it), the warmongering Bibi-Barak duo had better get real. 


Notes:
1. See here for China Daily report.
2. See here
3. See here

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan(Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com (Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd.

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China, Egypt Back Palestine’s Statehood

By Xinhua
.

BEIJING, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) — China and Egypt have reaffirmed their support for an independent State of Palestine, according to a joint press communique issued here on Thursday.

The independent state should have full sovereignty established on the basis of the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, said the communique, which also backed Palestine’s participation in the United Nations and other international organizations.
The document was released after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s three-day state visit to China concluded early on Thursday morning.
It said China and Egypt support the international community in intensifying efforts to promote dialogues to finally solve the “Palestine question” through peaceful talks in a comprehensive and justified way.
China has spoken highly of Egypt’s contribution on promoting peace between Palestine and Israel, and the country’s promotion of internal compromise in Palestine, said the communique.
It added that Egypt appreciates China’s efforts on supporting the just cause of the Palestinian people and safeguarding peace and stability in the Middle East.

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Minister for Information who Wants to go Straight Truth will no longer be a casualty of Syria’s civil war

US Acquits CIA of Killing and Torturing of Prisoners

By RT
August 31, 2012 “RT” — The US Justice Department ended a four-year probe into the CIA’s controversial, and at times brutal, treatment of detainees, closing two final homicide investigations without filing charges. The decision sparked outrage among human rights supporters.
US Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday that no charges will be filed in the cases of two terror suspectswho died in CIA custody – one in Iraq in 2003 and another in Afghanistan in 2002. “The admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt,” Holder said.
Gul Rahman died in 2002 at a secret prison in Afghanistan known as the ‘Salt Pit’ after being bound to a wall in near-freezing temperatures. Manadel al-Jamadi, also a suspected militant, died in 2003 in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib, where his corpse was photographed, wrapped in plastic and packed in ice.
The two cases were the final verdicts in a widespread criminal probe by federal prosecutor John Durham into interrogation techniques used during the presidency of George W. Bush. Durham determined that a number of the detainees were never in CIA custody, and all the cases have now been closed without charges.
Durham examined the treatment of 101 detainees who were taken into custody by the US in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. The probe, which lasted more than four years, began in 2008 in the wake of an investigation into the CIA’s destruction of videotapes of interrogations of terror suspects. The case was later expanded to include the deaths of the two prisoners.
Thursday’s decision sparked outrage among human rights groups.
“It is hugely disappointing that with ample evidence of torture, and documented cases of some people actually being tortured to death, that the Justice Department has not been able to mount a successful prosecution and hold people responsible for these crimes,” Human Rights First President Elisa Massimino told The New York Times. “The American people need to know what was done in their name.”
Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, slammed the decision as “nothing short of a scandal,” adding that, “The Justice Department has declined to bring charges against the officials who authorized torture, the lawyers who sought to legitimate it, and the interrogators who used it. It has successfully shut down every legal suit meant to hold officials civilly liable.” 
Jaffer claimed that today’s ruling “sends the dangerous signal to government officials that there will be no consequences for their use of torture and other cruelty.”
CIA Director David Petraeus thanked his team for cooperating with the investigation, Reuters reported. “As intelligence officers, our inclination, of course, is to look ahead to the challenges of the future rather than backwards at those of the past,” he said.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, under whose watch the alleged torture took place, said he was “heartened” that the investigation into the CIA’s conduct and practices had ended. “I am sorry that CIA officers had to go through yet another review of their activities,” he said.

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The United States of Terrorism

Putin Is Demonized While Democracy Fails In Amerika

By Paul Craig Roberts
August 31, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – The latest “rights group” to jump on Russia’s President Putin about Pussy Riot is RootsAction. Following the propaganda line that Washington has established, RootsAction’s appeal for money and petition signers states that the three Russian women were sentenced to two years in prison “for the ‘crime’ of performing a song against Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church.”
This statement is a propagandistic misrepresentation of the offense for which the women were tried and convicted.
I have expressed my sympathies for the convicted women, and as a member of Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union, I support human rights.
But I do not support the use of human rights organizations in behalf of Washington’s propaganda. 
If Putin or some other official has the power to commute the sentences, I hope he uses it. But I do not think that the concerted Western propaganda campaign against Putin encourages that result. Twice as many Russians support the sentence than oppose it.
If the sentence is commuted in response to the Western propaganda campaign against Putin, Russian nationalists will depict Putin as a weak leader unable to stand up to Western intimidation. The more internal dissension there is in Russia, the easier for Washington to marginalize the country and kick it out of Washington’s path to the overthrow of Syria and Iran by brutal human-rights-violating violence, such as Washington has applied to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. 
The State Department, the EU, and human rights groups are sufficiently politically astute to be aware of this fact. Yet, the propaganda continues.
As Putin has said, “we know what Comrade Wolf is up to.” But what about the human rights organizations? What are they up to? Have they been incorporated into Washington’s propaganda machine, like the Western media, or are they latching on to Pussy Riot as a visibility and fundraising issue for themselves? 
Do-good organizations hurt for money, because compassion for others is not in abundant supply. Pussy Riot is a fundraising opportunity. If the Russian government succumbs to the propaganda, it provides an opportunity for human rights organizations to tout their influence. In other words, human rights organizations have independent reasons to align with Washington’s propaganda. Their alignment does not necessarily mean that they are conscious tools of Washington.
You can bet your last dollar that Washington, which dismisses as “collateral damage” the hundreds of thousands of women, children, and village elders murdered in Washington’s wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, and Syria, is not concerned with the three Pussy Riot women’s 2-year prison sentence. 
Washington has kept the American hero, Bradley Manning in prison for two years without a trial. Washington claims the power, strictly prohibited by the US Constitution, that “scrap of paper,” to hold US citizens indefinitely in prison without due process of law and to murder them on suspicion alone without due process of law. Does any sentient person really believe that such a government gives a hoot about a two-year prison sentence for three Russian women?
The Western media is silent about the collapse of the United States into tyranny. But, on cue from Washington, the Western media is loud about the dire plight of Pussy Riot.
For example, this from the UK’s The Week with First Post: “Beyond Pussy Riot: slow death of freedom in Putin’s Russia.” Louisa Loveluck introduces her report: “The Russian government’s distaste for freedom of expression has been in the headlines recently thanks to the trial and subsequent imprisonment of three members of punk collective Pussy Riot. But the persecution of these women forms only a small part of a much broader crackdown on civil liberties in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”
Has Putin, like the Amerikan presidents Bush and Obama, declared that he has the power to throw Russian citizens in a dungeon for life without ever presenting evidence in a court? No, he has not. 
Has Putin, like the Amerikan president Obama, declared that he has the power to assassinate Russian citizens without due process of law? No, he has not.
Has Putin, like the Amerikan president Obama, declared that he has the legal authority to invade any country of which he disapproves and to overthrow its government? No, he has not.
So why is the UK’s Louisa Loveluck going on about a two-year prison sentence in Russia when the UK government, in defiance of international law and in obedience to its Amerikan master, refuses safe passage to Ecuador for Julian Assange, who has been granted political asylum? Even “authoritarian” China grants safe passage to those granted asylum.
The hypocrisy of the West, including the rank hypocrisy of human rights organizations, is nauseating. It makes one ashamed. 
Julian Assange faces life imprisonment in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London because the puppet UK government is helping Washington make an example of what happens to journalists who dare to publish the truth about Washington’s mendacity and war crimes. 
Is Washington paying Louisa Loveluck’s salary or is she, along with the First Post, simply terrified of Washington’s power? Or are Ms. Loveluck and the First Post simply going with the flow and avoiding criticism by not differing from the propaganda line?
No one will investigate, so we will never know.
Meanwhile in “freedom and democracy” america, at their Tampa, Florida, nominating convention, the Republican Party showed its true colors. It is a Brownshirt Party. 
The tyrannical Republican machine refused to allow Ron Paul’s name to be mentioned or his delegate count to be presented. 
Reports from the Republican nomination convention read like reports of Stalin’s takeover of the Communist Party or the Nazi takeover of the German state. Rules adopted at the convention eliminate any grass roots input. The Republican politburo is supreme. The party is subservient, and the members’ voices are eliminated. Mimicking Lenin, the Republicans declared that Republican rule “means neither more nor less than unlimited power, resting directly on force, not limited by anything, not restricted by any laws, nor any absolute rules. Nothing else but that.”
As Mother Jones reported, Ron Paul supporters shouted from the convention floor, “Fuck You, Tyrants!
The Republicans are the party of “freedom and democracy.” The Republicans are the party most controlled by the neoconservatives, who are strongly allied with Israel’s far right-wing government and are most hostile to the US Constitution. The Republicans are the party that gave us the PATRIOT Act, the first massive assault on the US Constitution. The Republicans are the party that gave us 9/11. The Republicans are the party that gave us the $3 trillion war against Iraq based on the Republican party’s lies about “weapons of mass destruction.” The Republicans are the party that gave us the $3 trillion war in Afghanistan based on lies about Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. The Republicans are the party that gave us the supremacy of the President over both the US Constitution and US statutory law; the executive branch is bound by neither according to the Republican Federalist Society members of the US Department of Justice (sic).
Obama is a despicable patsy, a front man for powerful private interests, and Democrats should be totally ashamed to have elevated such a cowardly lowlife. But as awful as Obama is, a vote for Republicans is a vote for Hitler or Stalin. Indeed, the election of Romney and Ryan would be worse than either.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. www.paulcraigroberts.org/

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Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital

If You Vote, You Consent to be Governed

By Melanie Johnson.
August 31, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – Several of my Facebook friends have given a “like” to Mitt Romney, including a few former Ron Paul supporters whom I got to know during our historic “takeover” of the Minnesota GOP conventions earlier this year. To conservatives who don’t think much of Romney (which, according to polls, seems to be a lot of them), I’d like to say “please reconsider.” And to ex-Ron Paul people who are supporting him out of “anybody but Obama” desperation, I’d like to say, “You should know better!”
The conventional wisdom on voting is that you should always vote because it is your “patriotic duty,” and that your vote should be for one of the two major political parties, otherwise you’re “throwing your vote away.” I disagree. I think people should vote their values, which might mean voting for an “unelectable” third party candidate, or perhaps not voting at all.
I had a political science teacher in college who taught this, and it has stayed with me. He said that if people don’t know the issues, they are better off not voting than risking a vote for the wrong candidate. I agree wholeheartedly, and I’ll even take it a step further: when the choice is between two piles of excrement, one only slightly less foul smelling than the other, we do not have to pick one of them out of some misguided sense of patriotic obligation. If the best the major parties have to offer fall short of the principles you believe in, then it is your patriotic duty to not vote for either one of them.
I know that ousting Obama might seem like the most urgent goal, and that conservatives of all colors, shapes, and sizes ought now unite in this common purpose. But let’s think this through, because there are a number of reasons why it might be a bad strategy.
First of all, a vote for Romney does not ensure his victory. Incomprehensible as it may be, Obama is popular enough, and persuasive enough, and politically cunning enough to get re-elected. The cardboard cutout Republican Mr. Mitt is unlikely to inspire the swing voters in the swing states, which is what he needs to do to win. He has neither the charisma nor the policies to do so. People just don’t relate to him, and no amount of GOP marketing is going to fix that in any significant way. In fact, Romney just may be the GOP’s John Kerry, who ran that pointless campaign against Dubya in 2004, despite immense DFL effort to get the vote out.
But more to the point are the ideological issues involved. If we care about these ideological issues, if we have strong beliefs about what’s best for this country and how best to achieve it, then we must ask ourselves this: does the “anybody but Obama” stance support and further our cause–the cause of liberty? How far will it take us toward the goals of restoring personal freedom and having sane fiscal policies, respectful foreign policies, and limited, non-corrupt representation of the people, by the people, and for the people?
All the evidence points to “not very far.” You need only look at the records of the last several presidents to see this. Under every administration since (at least) Woodrow Wilson, economic and personal freedoms have suffered. Government has ballooned to an almost unfathomable size, with no slowdown in sight. Taxes have increased and tax codes have grown more complex and convoluted. Unnecessary wars have been waged, needlessly burdening taxpayers and ending far too many lives at far too young an age. The Federal Reserve gains ever more control over the economy, printing money, setting interest rates, and creating artificial “bubbles” that ultimately end in disaster and each time inch us that much closer to economic apocalypse. The Fed and the Treasury operate hand-in-hand with Wall Street and corporate interests that benefit the powers-that-be at the expense of the middle-class taxpayer. And liberty continues to be trounced on, so much so that outrageous assaults on freedom like the Patriot Act are barely recognized anymore as the fascist, freedom-squelching policies that they are.
And the tragic truth is that both mainstream political parties support these big government policies. Despite all the posturing, mud-slinging, accusations, and general bipartisan nastiness we see in elections, both mainstream candidates are just different sides of the same, corporate-backed, PAC-financed coin. Sure, Romney will institute some different policies; he may lower a tax or two; and he may even abolish such atrocities as Obamacare. But this is vastly different than him having an actual ideology of personal freedom and limited government, which he absolutely does not. Government will not shrink under his watch. Liberty will not be restored. He may end Obama’s wars, but he is likely to start others–and by his own admission, without Congressional consent. He may—may—restore some freedoms taken by Obama, but he will strip others.
Without a foundational ideology of liberty to guide him, it can be no other way.
In order for there to be real change in the federal government, we would have to drastically re-evaluate taxation and, ideally, abolish the IRS and the Federal Reserve. We would have to stop thinking that it is the government’s job to regulate the economy. We would have to stop thinking that it is the job of the United States to police the world, and withdraw our bullies–oops, I mean troops–from countries that don’t want them there. We would have to stop accepting that the leviathan devil’s stranglehold on our personal lives and choices is “business as usual” and “for our own good.” In short, for there to be a real change in the federal government, there would have to be a sea change of attitude in how people view the role of government.
Maybe these changes wouldn’t have to come all at once. But for them to come at all, we have to have leaders who believe in such change, leaders governed by ideological principles about limited government and non-intervention and an unfettered economy. Barack Obama is certainly not one of those leaders, but neither is Mitt Romney. In fact, they both support different visions of a leviathan government, and are thus ideologically opposed to basic principles of liberty. For this reason, I cannot, and will not, in good conscience vote for either one of them.
Where does that leave me and people like me who care about our country’s future? What do we do? Well, here’s a great Hans-Hermann Hoppe quote I found in the article How Can You Think Voting Matters? by Will Aston:
…It is necessary to recognize that the ultimate power of every government – whether of kings or caretakers – rests solely on opinion and not on physical force. The agents of government are never more than a small proportion of the total population under their control. This implies that no government can possibly enforce its will upon the entire population unless it finds widespread support and voluntary cooperation within the nongovernmental public. It implies likewise that every government can be brought down by a mere change in public opinion, i.e., by the withdrawal of the public’s consent and cooperation. (italics added)
So you see, voting is an act of support. It is how we consent to and cooperate with our government. When we vote for someone, we are agreeing to give him certain powers over our lives. If that politician does not share our values, then we become complicit in our own undoing. We become agents of the very state whose policies are antithetical to the cause of liberty. In other words, when we vote for someone who is not an ideological peer, we are supporting and furthering the cause of our own enslavement.
Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils. Don’t fall for partisan rhetoric claiming that Romney and Obama have different ideals because, where it really counts, they do not. Instead, vote for someone who stands for what you believe in. Write in a vote for Ron Paul. Or give your vote to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who, ideologically speaking, is the only Presidential candidate who deserves our support. Or express your dissent by not voting at all. Anything is better than voting for Obama or Romney. And the same can be said for most of the other mainstream GOP/DFL choices, as well.
And above all, don’t worry about “throwing away” your vote. Contrary to popular belief, voting is not a pragmatic activity. Rather, it is a supremely ideological one. It is the best opportunity most of us ever get to voice our beliefs, our values, and our life philosophy. Following your conscience is never wrong, ever. If enough people understand this, real change can and will happen eventually. But it has to start with you and me, and it has to start now.
Melanie Johnson [send her mail] a freelance writer who lives in Minneapolis, MN.
This article was originally posted at Lew Rockwell

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I Don’t Vote Where are all the Bright , Honest Intelligent Americans?

George Carlin  – Video

Where are the bright people of conscience?

Posted August 31, 2012

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32323.htm

Why You’re a Lot Poorer Than You Thought You Were

By Mike Whitney
August 31, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – You’re a lot poorer than you thought you were.
According to a report by Sentier Research “real median annual household income… has fallen by 4.8 percent since the ‘economic recovery’ began in June 2009.”
That’s worse than the 2.6 percent decline that took place during the recession itself. (between July 2007 to June 2009) All told–from the beginning of the slump in 2007 until today–median household income has dropped an eyewatering 7.2 percent. (“Changes in Household Income During the Economic Recovery: June 2009 to June 2012″, Sentier Research)
Like I said, you’re a lot poorer than you thought you were.
The Sentier Research report comes on the heels of a similar report from the Fed which was released in June showing that middle class families saw a nearly 40 percent decline in their net worth between the years 2007 to 2010. The Fed’s 80-page tri-annual Survey of Consumer Finances, points to the Great Recession as the putative cause of the overall decline in wealth, but the Fed’s lopsided policies could be as easily blamed. Low interest rates, lax lending standards and outright fraud generated asset-price bubbles that wiped out 2 decades of economic gains for working people in the US.
The Fed’s survey found that the median net worth of families in the US fell by 38.9 percent between 2007 and 2010, from $126,400 to $77,300. Also, the median value of a US home dropped by 42 percent, from $95,300 to $55,000 in the same period. Plunging housing prices have increased the burden of mortgage debt leaving more than 20 percent of all homeowners with negative equity which greatly increases the probability of default.
Is it any wonder why consumer confidence is at its lowest point since November 2011? Or why mom and pop investors are still fleeing the stock market in record numbers 4 years after Lehman Brothers failed? Or why the yields on 10-year Treasuries are still hovering below 2 percent? Or why bank deposits now vastly exceed loans?
All of these are signs of extreme distress, which is why working people have grown so gloomy about the future. Did you know that (According to the Pew Research Center) 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971, while, today, the number has been shaved to 51 percent? That explains why 85 percent of the people surveyed said “that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today compared with 10 years ago.” The majority of the people also admitted that they’ve had to reduce their spending in the past year.
What all of these reports indicate is that the US middle class is being drawn-and-quartered by economic policies which serve to enrich the few at the cost of the many.
Of course, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is going to “put things right” by launching another round of quantitative easing (QE) which is supposed to boost growth and lower unemployment. Unfortunately, QE doesn’t really work like that, in fact, the Bank of England just released a report that proves that central bank asset purchases disproportionately benefit the rich. Here’s a clip from an article in the Washington Post:
“The richest 10% of households in Britain have seen the value of their assets increase by up to £322,000 [$510,000] as a result of the Bank of England‘s attempts to use electronic money creation to lift the economy out of its deepest post-war slump. …
The Bank of England calculated that the value of shares and bonds had risen by 26% – or £600bn – as a result of the policy, equivalent to £10,000 for each household in the UK. It added, however, that 40% of the gains went to the richest 5% of households.”
It’s not hard to see why this happens. One way the bank’s quantitative easing program works, in theory, by pushing up asset prices in order to support the broader economy. And, according to the Bank of England, the median British household only holds about $2,370 in financial assets. So the direct benefits largely accrue to wealthier households.
What about the United States? Much like in Britain, the distribution of financial assets are also heavily skewed. …. So any move by the Fed to push up asset prices is likely to increase wealth inequality in the short term.” (“Will the Fed’s efforts to boost the economy only benefit the wealthiest?”, Washington Post)
So QE is just a scam to line the pockets of the investor class. Imagine that! It took 4 years and a research team of financial geniuses from the BOE to figure that out.
And here’s something else that’s worth mulling over; working people are getting totally screwed in the deal. Not only are savers and fixed-income retirees being robbed of the puny gains they would have seen if rates were in their normal range instead of zero, but also the prospect of more QE has sent gas futures spiking, while food prices are sure to follow. This is from Bloomberg in an article titled “Bernanke Boosts Oil Bulls to Highest Since May: Energy Markets”:
“Hedge funds raised bullish bets on oil to a three-month high on signs that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will take measures to bolster U.S. economic growth and spur a rally in commodities.
Money managers increased net-long positions, or wagers on rising prices, by 18 percent in the seven days ended Aug. 21, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Commitments of Traders report on Aug. 24. They were at the highest level since the week ended May 1.” (Bloomberg)
Higher prices at the pump. That ought to rev-up consumer spending, don’t you think?
Still, Bernanke and his fellow doves at the Fed aren’t going to be deterred by something as inconsequential as the travails of working people. Oh no. After all, he has his real constituents to consider, the parasitic Wall Street robber barons. Their needs come first, and what they want is another round of funny-money so they refill the larder at the Hamptons with Beluga and bubbly. That’s why members of the Fed have already started chirping for more “more accommodation”. Here’s what Chicago Fed President Charles Evans had to say last week in his ominous-sounding bulletin titled “Some Thoughts on Global Risks and Monetary Policy”:
“Finding a way to deliver more accommodation… is particularly important now because delays in reducing unemployment are costly. An unusually large percentage of the unemployed have been without work for quite an extended period of time; their skills can become less current or even deteriorate, leaving affected workers with permanent scars on their lifetime earnings. And any resulting lower aggregate productivity also weighs on potential output, wages and profits for the economy as a whole. The damage intensifies the longer that unemployment remains high. Failure to act aggressively now could lower the capacity of the economy for many years to come….
Given the risks we face, I think it is vital that we make such moves today. I don’t think we should be in a mode where we are waiting to see what the next few data releases bring. We are well past the threshold for additional action; we should take that action now.”
What gall! Does anyone really believe that a Fed president gives a rat’s ass about lower unemployment? It’s a joke.
And where’s the proof that QE lowers unemployment, increases wages or benefits the economy as a whole? Nowhere. Evans idea of “accommodation” is just another way of shoveling money to his rich friends.
Now get a load of this in the Wall Street Journal:
“During the recession, people who lost long-held jobs struggled to find new employment and often took substantial pay cuts if they did find new work. Little appears to have changed after the recession ended, a new Labor Department report shows.
From 2009 to 2011, 6.1 million workers lost jobs they had held for at least three years. Just over half — 56% — of them were reemployed by this January, the department found in its latest survey of displaced workers. Two years ago, the survey found that 49% of people who lost such jobs from 2007 to 2009 were reemployed.
People lucky enough to find new work are often taking steep wage cuts. Of the displaced workers who lost full-time wage and salary jobs from 2009-2011 and were reemployed by January, just 46% were earning as much or more than they did in their lost job. A third of them reported earnings losses of 20% or more.” (“New Jobs Come With Lower Wages”, Wall Street Journal)
So even the people who were “lucky enough to find work” are worse off than they were before. Hey, but at least they found a job, right? What about the people who weren’t able to find work at all? What will happen to them?
No worries. Obama and his deficit-slashing buddies in the congress have that all figured out. As soon as the election’s over, President Socialist is going to start kicking people off extended unemployment benefits as fast as humanly possible leaving millions of working people without enough money to house or feed their families. Here’s how it’s all going to go down:
“Over 500,000 people have lost extended unemployment benefits since the start of the year, and two million more are scheduled to lose their benefits on January 1, 2013…. Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), is scheduled to end completely on January 1, ending unemployment payments for 2 million more people overnight.
With the start of the new year, there will be no part of the country that offers more than 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. This is far less than the average duration of unemployment, which has hovered near 40 weeks for over a year…..
Despite the disastrous impact of the cuts, it has been largely ignored both by the major media and in the US elections. Moreover, the Obama administration has already let it be known that it will not seek a renewal of extended jobless benefits.” (“Extended jobless benefits end for 500,000 US workers”, World Socialist web Site)
Can you see how nicely this segues with Michelle’s anti-obesity campaign? The administration plans to increase worker “flexibility”, by putting millions of jobless people on a crash diet.
And, don’t kid yourself, unemployment is just one of the many programs that Obama plans to eviscerate following the vote-count. He’s also going to zero-in on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They’re all on the chopping block, every last one of them. That’s what the so called Fiscal Cliff is all about; it’s a public relations hoax to conceal Obama’s plan to dismantle the vital programs that provide medicine, shelter and a meager retirement for the sick, the needy and the elderly, you know, the folks the Republicans refer to as “useless eaters”.
All of these reports (Sentier, Pew, the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances) underline the same point, that the middle class is embroiled in a war-to-the-death with carpetbagging vermin who plan to deprive them of work, strip their assets, foreclose their homes, and leave them penniless to face old age. It’s just good old class warfare–and as Warren Buffett opined–his class is winning.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.
This article was originally posted at Counterpunch

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Wall Street’s War Against the Cities: Why Bondholders Can’t – and Shouldn’t – be Paid

The GOP Goes Hard Right

No-fly zone over Syria ‘not ruled out’ by France, UK

 

Romney’s Flip-Flops: Schizophrenia showing ahead of elex?

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CrossTalk: America Still On Top?

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No-fly zone over Syria ‘not ruled out’ by France, UK

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Council on Foreign Relations Marshals Public Opinion to Tout Syrian Destabilization

By Prof. James F. Tracy

Global Research

In a recent article the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) declares Americans are “appalled by the depredations of the [Bashar al-]Assad regime and seek its removal from power.” Short of committing troops, the US “[p]ublic wants tough action … including the imposition of tougher sanctions, and the creation of safe havens to protect civilians,” the CFR’s Stewart M. Patrick writes.
There are two underlying problems with this claim. First, the CFR is furtively exerting its own policy objectives by pointing to opinion polls the body has had a direct hand in creating. Second, the CFR is gauging the sentiment of a vastly disinformed public on a Syrian destabilization policy the organization vigorously advocates.
The more authoritative polling of US and international opinion cited in the piece was conducted by the CFR, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CFR’s Chicago affiliate), and the University of Maryland’s Program on Policy Attitudes (PIPA). Despite its scholarly veneer, PIPA director Steven Kull and half of the research group’s board of advisers are CFR members. In addition, PIPA receives financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation.[1]
Since its inception in 1921 the CFR has claimed to be “an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher.” Yet over the years the entity has recruited political and corporate leaders closest to the levers of institutional power, exerted decisive influence on US foreign policy throughout the twentieth century, was a central proponent of the postwar national security state, and “believes national boundaries should be obliterated and one-world rule established,” according to CFR historian Carroll Quigley.[2]
The CFR’s efforts to measure and tout public opinion regarding Syria is of particular concern since it has been a strong advocate of destabilizing the Assad regime through recruitment and support of death squads comprised of foreign Al Qaeda and Libyan Islamic Fighting Group mercenaries. “The influx of jihadis,” the CFR recently gloated, “brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results.”
This strategy has continued ceaselessly since February 2011 when the so-called “Arab Spring” began throughout the Middle East. An almost identical strategy was carried out concurrently in Libya, resulting in the August 2011 overthrow of the Muammar Qaddafi regime and its replacement with a fundamentalist Islamic state.
The CFR’s use and interpretation of opinion polling to justify continued terrorism against the Syrian people is illustrative of the psychological and rhetorical trickery employed by Anglo American power elites and their intellectual mouthpieces. Such efforts are intended to muddy the issues, confuse journalists, and thereby disorient the broader public—the same public the organization now solicits to endorse even more widescale bloodshed and destruction. For example, the CFR’s Patrick claimsAmericans and their European counterparts are strangely “ambivalent” over what the next steps in Syria should be. “Americans support a no-fly zone in theory, though oppose bombing air defenses—a necessary component of establishing a no-fly zone.”
A much more honest and forthright line of questioning might include, “Do you believe the US and its allies should be providing the bulk of material and logistical support to Al Qaeda and related terrorist groups so they may carry out grievous atrocities against the Syrian civilian population en route to establishing a nightmarish theocratic state in Syria and throughout the Middle East?”
Notes
 
[1] As James Petras observes, “The CIA uses philanthropic foundations as the most effective conduit to channel large sums of money to Agency projects without alerting the recipients to their source.” Given that the CIA is actively supporting Syria’s rebels, it is not unreasonable to surmise that interpretations of American public opinion may also be incrementally introduced into the public mind to eventually justify overt military action.
[2] Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, GSG and Associates, 1966/1975, 955.

James Tracy is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. He blogs atmemorygap.org.

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Investors Seek To Profit From Privatizing Public Schools

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The GOP Goes Hard Right

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Ron Paul supporters demand justice

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Spain restricts aid to long-term unemployed

Latest Australian refugee disaster worsened by slow response

By Mark Church 
31 August 2012
Another boat carrying refugees to Australia has sunk after sailing from Indonesia. Reports indicate that only 54 people have survived, after being stranded in the water for almost 24 hours before help arrived. The boat was reported to have had 150 passengers from Afghanistan.
An unidentified passenger twice contacted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Rescue Coordination Centre early Wednesday morning, at 4.20 a.m. and 5.05 a.m. AEST, reporting the vessel was in distress. AMSA said the boat was eight nautical miles south-west of Java. Later, it amended that report to correctly estimate that the vessel would have drifted to a location about 50 nautical miles west of Java.
Instead of launching an Australian search and rescue operation, AMSA passed its initial information on to its Indonesian counterpart, BASARNAS, which received the report at 1.30 a.m. its time. BASARNAS, however, lacked night-time search equipment and delayed sending out a search helicopter and two boats until 7.15 a.m. A BASARNAS spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald: “The helicopters are not equipped with devices designed for night-time flying. And in order to dispatch boats we normally must get a permit [from the harbour] but the harbour office doesn’t do it at night time.”
Indonesian search and rescue vessels are also known to be unable to operate far from the coast or in heavy weather between Indonesia and the Australian outpost of Christmas Island, where most refugee boats head.
Indonesian authorities called off the search in the late afternoon, 12 hours after receiving the AMSA report. It was not until 9 p.m. AEST that AMSA sent updated information to rescue authorities, better plotting the likely position of the stricken refugee boat by taking into account drift modelling.
The first six survivors were rescued by the cargo ship APL Bahrain at 3.30 a.m. AEST Thursday. Earlier, the ship had spotted bodies in the water. Captain Manuel Nistorescu reported: “We were doing scheduled searching. At the last moment when I was thinking to abort, I heard some noises, and we spotted them in the water.” The survivors reportedly used whistles and yelling to attract the ship.
According to the survivors, they were stranded in the water after their ship’s engine failed and the pumps became inoperable. Because the Australian government seizes and destroys all intercepted refugee boats, some are poorly maintained or mechanically unsound, significantly increasing the danger for asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia.
AMSA and the Australian Border Protection Command dispatched two planes and the patrol ship HMAS Maitland on Thursday morning to assist the Indonesian authorities and three merchant vessels to conduct search operations. The Maitland arrived at 4 p.m., 33 hours after the ship was reported to have sunk, while the first plane arrived at midday. With four merchant vessels on site, 48 survivors were rescued on Thursday.
When journalists questioned Australian Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare about the poor initial response, he asserted: “Don’t underestimate how difficult this task is; don’t underestimate how big the sea that we’re searching is.” Yet the record demonstrates that accurate plotting was possible. The real issue was the Labor government’s policy, implemented by AMSA, of denying responsibility for search and rescue operations that supposedly occur in Indonesian waters.
The tragedy also exposed the dangerous consequences of the government’s accusations, shared by the Liberal National Opposition, that asylum seekers are resorting to “false alarms” of distress, in order to force the Australian authorities to rescue them and transport them to Christmas Island. The latest boat is the fourth known to have sunk en route to Christmas Island in recent years.
In order to reinforce the Labor government’s determination to wash its hands of refugees in distress, and deter asylum seekers from exercising their right, under international law to seek refuge from persecution, the rescued passengers are being forcibly taken back to Merak, in western Java, rather than to Christmas Island. Minister Clare told a media conference: “Given that this is so close to Indonesia it’s my expectation that the survivors will be taken to Indonesia.”
A BASARNAS spokesman told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation of an overnight plan to transfer the survivors from the HMAS Maitland to Indonesian authorities, so they could be shipped to Merak. In the past, survivors have been taken to Christmas Island, rather than Indonesia, which is not a signatory to the 1951 international refugee convention, and detains and deports even recognised refugees.
At his media conference, Clare reiterated the Labor government’s line of blaming “people-smugglers” for endangering refugees’ lives. He accused boat organisers of stepping up voyages in order to thwart the government’s preparations to consign all asylum seekers to indefinite detention in camps on Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. He claimed that “people-smugglers are running a closing-down sale…They’re telling people: get on the boat before there’s no more chance to come to Australia.”
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government has dispatched military teams to both Nauru and Manus, and is planning to send refugees there as quickly as possible, to live in tents until other temporary accommodation is erected. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said refugees would need to “see planes leaving for Nauru” in order to be deterred. The government has cynically justified its plan to detain refugees for years on Nauru and Manus by falsely claiming that it will prevent drownings and save lives.
These responses only underscore the fact that the latest disaster is the product of Australia’s “border protection policy,” which forces refugees to attempt hazardous journeys to Australian territory in order to gain entry to the country.
This week’s tragedy came just days after more evidence emerged that Australian authorities had delayed action to aid a refugee vessel in distress off Christmas Island in June. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on August 27 that BASARNAS documents showed that the Indonesian authority had requested help from AMSA to rescue survivors from the sinking boat on June 20.
This was eight hours after AMSA had received information on the vessel and transferred responsibility to the Indonesians, claiming it was in their jurisdiction. After BASARNAS raised the alarm that it would be unable to effectively respond to the disaster, it took Australian authorities another 21 hours before they dispatched a rescue vessel. Some 90 people died in the sinking.
These events demonstrate that the Gillard government’s insistence on shifting responsibility for rescues to the Indonesian authorities is causing disasters. Further, the growing numbers of boat sinkings, like the deaths of 353 people aboard the SIEV X refugee boat in 2001, raise questions about whether the Australian government is complicit in permitting tragedies to occur, as a means of deterring asylum seekers.
The author also recommends:
[16 August 2012]
[23 June 2012]

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Brazil’s public workers end strike

By Bill Van Auken 
31 August 2012
The majority of Brazil’s federal unions have called off a nearly four-month strike that pitted as many as 400,000 workers against the Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores–PT) government of President Dilma Rousseff.
The decision to end the walkout followed an ultimatum by Rousseff to accept the government’s offer of a pay raise averaging 15.8 percent over three years—barely covering the rate of inflation—or receive no increase at all.
While the main federal workers’ union, CONDSEF (Confederation of Workers in the Federal Public Service), reported that 80 percent of the workforce would be returning to their jobs on the government’s terms, some sectors rejected the ultimatum, including the civilian Federal Police as well as tax inspectors and Central Bank employees.
CONDSEF Secretary General Josemilton Costa sought to justify the capitulation to the government by declaring, “It is less than we wanted, but it is not a bad deal seeing as how we were forced to begin negotiations at zero—no increase at all.”
The strike was begun on May 17 by the teaching and administrative staff at federally run universities, which were shut down throughout the country. It spread to some 30 federal agencies, involving health and safety inspectors, highway and rail police, immigration and customs agents, and employees of the ministries of Health, Planning, Environment and Justice, as well as various institutions dealing with land reform and other issues.
In the end, the federal strike became one of the largest and longest labor struggles in the country’s history.
The government set the deadline for reaching an overall settlement to coincide with the August 31 deadline for submitting to the Brazilian congress amendments to next year’s budget proposal, including authorization for federal pay.
The Rousseff government from the beginning took a confrontational approach, vowing to cut the pay of striking workers—normally done in Brazil only when the strike is deemed illegal—and issuing an executive decree allowing the use of provincial and municipal workers as strike-breakers.
The strike saw bitter confrontations, including clashes between striking civilian police and their counterparts in the Military Police (PM) outside government buildings in Brasilia.
The government, along with the media, sought to demonize the federal workers as privileged, greedy and irresponsible, attempting to pose their demands as inimical to the living standards and job opportunities of the masses of impoverished working people.
In reality, the wage increases for public employees have in the past provided a benchmark for the demands made by workers in the private sector, including in automobile production, the oil sector and other basic industries. Reflecting the interests of the banks and big business, Brazil’s Central Bank cited demands for increased wages as “an important risk” to containing inflation.
The cynical propaganda against the public workers was aimed at justifying the PT government’s “stimulus” policy, which is directed almost entirely at providing tax breaks, preferential interest rates and privatization deals for foreign and domestic capital. Officials claim that this policy will spur investment and therefore create jobs under conditions in which the world capitalist crisis has slashed the country’s growth rate from 7.5 percent in 2010 to what is projected as less than 2 percent for this year.
These policies only underscore the class nature of the PT, which came into being with the active support of a whole range of pseudo-socialist organizations in Brazil. Today, it constitutes the principal political representative of Brazilian financial and industrial capital, prepared to defend their interests against those of the working class.
Rousseff’s hard line against the federal workers won her substantial praise from the big business media and its commentators. Typical was an editorial in the daily O Estado de Sao Paulo, which stated: “The long, truculent and costly strike by functionaries accustomed to ordering, demanding and grabbing generous raises from the PT government was the hardest test that President Dilma Rousseff has confronted so far. She resisted, affirmed her authority and finally achieved, without backing off her proposal, an agreement with almost all of the workforce.”
The editorial lauded Rousseff for “changing the game and going on the attack.” It added, “In confronting the strikers and resisting their excessive pretensions,” Rousseff had given “the first signal of a change” from the policies of the previous PT government, headed by president and former metalworkers union leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, which cultivated the public sector workers as an important base of support for the PT, expanding their ranks and granting them increases in real wages.
The editorial also backed the reported move by the Rousseff government to seek the implementation of a new law sharply restricting the right to strike for public sector workers. The law would impose such restrictions on public employees for the first time since the end of Brazil’s two-decade-long dictatorship and the drafting of the 1988 constitution that followed the end of military rule.
Rousseff’s predecessor, Lula, had attempted to introduce such legislation in 2007, but backed off of the proposal.
The military seized power in 1964 in large measure to suppress the wave of workers’ struggles that had swept Brazil in the early 1960s. In power, it treated strikes as criminal disruptions of order throughout. The PT itself emerged largely on the back of a strike wave launched in defiance of military rule in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Given this history, Rousseff’s turn toward such measures has unmistakable significance.
The intensification of the world capitalist economic crisis is finding its expression in Brazil in the growth of class tensions that are exposing before ever larger sections of the working class the role played by the Workers Party and the unions that support it in defending capitalism.

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Five Australian soldiers killed in “worst day” in Afghanistan

UN Secretary-General: Washington’s emissary at Tehran summit

South Africa to prosecute strikers targeted by police massacre at Marikana

Romney outlines right-wing agenda in acceptance speech

By Joseph Kishore 
31 August 2012
Mitt Romney officially accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president on Thursday evening, in a speech before the national convention in Tampa, Florida. The speech concluded a three-day convention during which the Republicans put on display the right-wing program upon which they are campaigning.
The Republican platform is significant not simply for what it says about the party—a deeply reactionary organization—but the entire American political system. Amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the ruling class, represented by both big business parties, is moving to escalate attacks on the working class.
In terms of policy, the main focus of the Republican campaign is the “economy”—i.e., demands for further corporate deregulation, the elimination of all constraints on profit-making, and the dismantling of Medicare and other social programs to further enrich the financial aristocracy. The Obama administration has pursued these policies over the past four years, and the Republicans are working to shift the political debate even further to the right.
Romney, a former CEO of an asset-stripping firm with a personal fortune of some $200 million, cynically expressed his concern for high levels of unemployment, declining wages, and record poverty. This comes from a candidate who personifies Wall Street speculation and is on record declaring that he is “not concerned about poor people!”
To supposedly address the economic crisis, Romney outlined a five-point program that includes: the ending of restrictions on energy corporations; “school choice,” i.e., the further dismantling and privatization of public education; a harder line on China and other competitors of US capitalism; a massive program of austerity; and the reduction of taxes on businesses.
Romney repeated Republican calls for repealing and replacing “Obamacare,” the health care reform that the current administration initiated to cut health care costs for business and corporations. Invoking the specter of Greece, where austerity measures dictated by the banks have thrown the country into Depression-level conditions of poverty and unemployment, Romney said: “We will cut the deficits and put America on the path to a balanced budget.”
In his speech on Wednesday, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan elaborated on this theme, declaring, “In this generation, a defining responsibility of government is to steer our nation clear of a debt crisis while there is still time.” He called for limiting federal spending to 20 percent of GDP, which will require massive cuts to social programs—in fact, the virtual elimination of non-defense discretionary spending.
Neither Romney nor Ryan spelled out the devastating impact their proposals would have on Medicare. Instead, they have criticized the Obama administration over its $700 billion in cuts to the health program for the elderly, claiming that their alternative will “save” Medicare. This involves the transformation of the program into a subsidy for private insurance—a program that is, in fact, similar to Obamacare’s own “universal” health care, in that it requires individuals to purchase insurance from private firms.
Little was said by Romney on foreign policy, aside from a brief attempt to outflank Obama on the right in support for Israel and hostility to Iran and Russia.
The New York Times pointed to the basic unanimity between the two parties on the expansion of American militarism, writing: “For decades, starting after the Vietnam War, the Republicans were able to present themselves as the tougher party on foreign and military policy. Mr. Obama has robbed them of that by being aggressive on counterterrorism and by flexing military and diplomatic muscle more successfully than President George W. Bush.”
A notable feature of Romney’s speech and of the entire convention was the heavy dose of identity politics, particularly Romney’s insistence that he favored greater access for women to positions of power and privilege. “Half of my cabinet and senior officials were women,” he said, “and in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies.” Amid ever greater social inequality, such appeals have become an institutional element of American politics, not limited to the Democratic Party.
In general, if the Republicans can present themselves as offering something better for the American people, it is because of the record of the Obama administration, which has been one of complete subordination to the dictates of the financial aristocracy. If anything can be said to be true in Romney’s remarks, it is his comment that “You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job [Obama has] done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.”
To the extent that such comments resonate, it only underscores the complete disconnect of the entire political system from the aspirations of masses of people.
Apart from this, Romney’s speech, like the convention as a whole, was filled with the vacuous sophisms and insipid rhetoric that are universal in American politics. The speech was broken up by chants of “USA! USA!” from the assembled gathering of right-wing delegates, the semi-fascistic detritus of American capitalism.
The initial media reaction was to praise Romney’s remarks, declaring it a “defining” speech, even “the best of Romney’s career.” The festival of reaction that is the Republican National Convention is thus presented as some sort of great and legitimate component of the American “political debate.”
The Republican convention is to be followed next week by the Democratic Party Convention—at which a somewhat different, though no less thorough, lying will be on display.

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France, Turkey push for Syrian no-fly zone at UN

‘NAM summit a direct challenge to US hegemony in region’

‘NAM summit a direct challenge to US hegemony in region’

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Saved to Struggle: ‘Slow death’ for Syria refugees in Jordan camp

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Al Qaeda and NATO’s Pan-Arab Terrorist Blitzkrieg

Al Qaeda and NATO’s Pan-Arab Terrorist Blitzkrieg

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=32560

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The Brahimi Plan

Pentagon is like the Vatican: US Civilian Leadership Fears US Military

The Brahimi Plan

“Bashar must die!”
By Thierry Meyssan
August 30, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – In the aftermath of the second Russian-Chinese veto which formally prohibited foreign intervention in Syria on February 4, the West feigned seeking peace while actively organizing a vast secret war. On the diplomatic front, they appeared to accept the Lavrov-Annan Plan, even as these same countries were facilitating the movement into Syria of tens of thousands of mercenaries and while UN Observers were escorting the leaders of the Free Syrian Army to get them through the roadblocks.
The July 18th attack that decapitated the Syrian military command was intended to open the gates of Damascus for these Contras as part of the West’s pursuit of “regime change.” This did not happen. Given the failure of these forces on the ground, and in open contempt of the third Russian-Chinese veto, the Western allies took things to the next level. Not being able to accomplish “regime change”, the strategic choice is to sew chaos. They therefore sabotaged the Lavrov-Annan Plan and proclaimed their intention to assassinate President Bashar al-Assad. The speeches of Obama and Hollande, both of which delivered sharp ultimatums on Assad’s hypothetical first-use of chemical weapons (in ways flagrantly reminiscent of the Bush Administration’s lies about Iraq) confirm that all forms of war are in play.
The latest operation commenced with organized leaks by the press. Reuters [1], NBC [2], Le Parisien [3], Le Canard Enchaîné [4], The Sunday Times [5], and Bild am Sonntag [6] revealed that Barack Obama had authorized covert military intervention months before and that the U.S., Turkey, France, Britain and Germany were acting in concert. The press announced that the secret war had been coordinated from headquarters established at the NATO base in Incirlik, Turkey.
When the U.S. presidential order was revealed, Kofi Annan resigned from his mission. By his account, it would be futile to demand a ceasefire at the Security Council when the leading Council members were openly identifying themselves as belligerants. The Special Envoy of the U.N. and the Arab League clearly stated that it would be impossible for anyone henceforth to proceed with a peace mission given that the mission itself was illusory because of what he euphemistically termed the “disunity” within the Security Council. [7]
Despite his statement, the Western nations turned again to the Secretary Generals of both the U.N. and the Arab League to provide a veneer of pacific intentions and legality to their imperial ambitions. They designated a new Special Joint Envoy in the person of Lakhdar Brahimi. In the communiqué announcing the nomination, Ban Ki-Moon did not define the new mission as intended to fulfill the Lavrov-Annan plan previously approved by the Security Council. Instead, he signalled that the nominee would employ “his talent and extraordinary experience” to lead Syria toward a “political transition in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.” [8]
To comprehend what is currently underway requires a closer look at the “the talents and experience” of Mr. Brahimi. Son of a collaborator during the WWII occupation of France and not of a hero of the Algerian Independence with the same name as he would have people believe, Lahkdar Brahimi is one of the leading sycophant acolytes of the doctrine “humanitarian intervention”, the new scarcely-veiled substitute for neocolonialism. His name is still attached to the report of the Commission for U.N. Peacekeeping Operations, which he had chaired. He never questioned the legal aberration that allowed the U.N. to create so-called peacekeeping forces in order to impose political solutions against the will of the warring parties rather than overseeing the implementation of peace accords concluded equitably by them. Instead, he has been an active advocate for further consolidating the world governance role of the United Nations on the basis of a doctrine of intervention and the creation of a supranational intelligence service. [9] This was the origin of the “decision support service.” Not long after, and without informing the Security Council, Ban Ki-moon signed on September 23, 2008 a protocol with his NATO counterpart linking this newly-created service to the Atlantic Alliance. [10] So much for Brahimi’s “talents”.
As for Mr. Brahimi’s “experience”, in the late 1980’s he masterminded the Lebanese Confessional System (the Taif Accord ) and, following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Bonn Agreement with put in place the present-day Afghan narco-regime. He also participated in the machinations to “remodel” after the Western invasion of 2003 which sought to partition the country into three districts, one of which a Sunni section where the Hashemite monarchy would be restored. Mixing business with pleasure, he married off his daughter Rym, a CNN journalist, to Prince Ali. Had Ali become king, she would have become the nominal queen of Iraq.
And this is not all. His official biographies neglect to mention that Lakhdar Brahimi, as a “paragon of democracy”, was one of the ten members of the High Security Council who perpetrated the coup d’etat in Algiers in January 11, 1992, nullifying the legislative election results, forcing President Chadli Bendjedid to resign and installing the putchist generals [11] in power. [12] What followed was a civil war—precisely along the model that Washington now hopes to engender in Syria—where both sides are simultaneously manipulated by the U.S. In Algeria, the Islamist leader, Abbassi Madani, now a refugee in Qatar, took as his political advisor the pseudo-secularist Burhan Ghalioun, none other than the future president of the Syrian National Council. The armed Islamist faction, the GSPC [13], renamed in 2007 Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahghreb (AQIM), was engaged in arms training with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, rebranded in 1997 as Al Qaeda in Libya. The majority of the combatants in the two groups have now integrated into the Free Syrian Army.
In these circumstances French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius travelled to inspect the rear-area support bases proliferating in the states bordering Syria. Passing through Jordan, he asserted, “I am conscious of the weight of what I am about to say; Bashar Al-Assad does not deserve to be on Earth.” [14] Without having to give a thumbs down, Emperor Fabius has clearly moved from “Bashar must go” to “Bashar must die!”
The Western nation-states have just one message for Moscow and Bejing. They will not fall back; rather they are determined to press on by any and all means.
Thierry Meyssan, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace Conference. Professor of International Relations at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Damascus. His columns specializing in international relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie and Pentagate.
Translated from French by Michele Stoddard.
Footnotes
[1] “Exclusive : Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels“, by Regan Doherty and Amena Bakr; “Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret U.S. support for Syrian rebels“, by Mark Hosenball, Reuters, 27 July and 1 August 2012.
[2] “Syrian rebels acquire surface-to-air missiles: report“, by Mark Hosenball and Tabassum Zakaria, Reuters, 31 July 2012.
[3] “L’option diplomatique est morte“, interview by Bruno Fanucchi with Richard Labévière, Le Parisien, 6 August 2012.
[4] ” Formation accélérée d’insurgés syriens”, by Claude Angeli, Le Canard enchaîné, 8 August 2012.
[5] “Syria rebels aided by UK intelligence”, by David Leppard and John Follain, The Sunday Times (UK), 19 August 2012.
[6] “Deutsches Spionageschiff kreuzt vor Syrien“, by Martin S. Lambeck and Kayhan Özgenc, Bild am Sonntag, 19 August 2012.
[7] “Press conference by Joint Special Envoy for Syria“, by Kofi Annan, Kofi Annan Foundation, 2 August 2012.
[9] “Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects“, United Nations A/55/305–S/2000/809, 21 August 2000.
[11Editor’s note: Dubbed “janviéristes” in France with reference to the January coup d’état.
[12Islam and democracy: the failure of dialogue in Algeria, by Frédéric Volpi, Pluto Press, 2003 (p. 55 and following pages).
[13] French acronym for Salafist Group for Call and Combat

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Inside Daraya – How a Failed Prisoner Swap Turned Into a Massacre

Israel, Obama and the curse of John Wayne

Obama’s America: Waiting for Blowback

Why Americans Must End America’s Self-Generating Wars

August 30, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – The most urgent political challenge to the world today is how to prevent the so-called “pax Americana” from progressively degenerating, like the 19th-century so-called “pax Britannica” before it, into major global warfare. I say “so-called,” because each “pax,” in its final stages, became less and less peaceful, less and less orderly, more and more a naked imposition of belligerent competitive power based on inequality.
To define this prevention of war as an achievable goal may sound pretentious. But the necessary steps to be taken are above all achievable here at home in America. And what is needed is not some radical and untested new policy, but a much-needed realistic reassessment and progressive scaling back of two discredited policies that are themselves new, and demonstrably counterproductive.
I am referring above all to America’s so-called War on Terror. American politics, both foreign and domestic, are being increasingly deformed by a war on terrorism that is counter-productive, producing more terrorists every year than eliminates. It is also profoundly dishonest, in that Washington’s policies actually contribute to the funding and arming of the jihadists that it nominally opposes.
Above all the War on Terror is a self-generating war, because, as many experts have warned, it produces more terrorists than it eliminates. And it has become inextricably combined with America’s earlier self-generating and hopelessly unwinnable war, the so-called War on Drugs.
The two self-generating wars have in effect become one. By launching a War on Drugs in Colombia and Mexico, America has contributed to a parastate of organized terror in Colombia (the so-called AUC, United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) and an even bloodier reign of terror in Mexico (with 50,000 killed in the last six years).1 By launching a War on Terror in Afghanistan in 2001, America has contributed to a doubling of opium production there, making Afghanistan now the source of 90 percent of the world’s heroin and most of the world’s hashish.2
Americans should be aware of the overall pattern that drug production repeatedly rises where America intervenes militarily – Southeast Asia in the 1950s and 60s, Colombia and Afghanistan since then. (Opium cultivation also increased in Iraq after the 2003 US invasion.)3 And the opposite is also true: where America ceases to intervene militarily, notably in Southeast Asia since the 1970s, drug production declines.4
Both of America’s self-generating wars are lucrative to the private interests that lobby for their continuance.5 At the same time, both of these self-generating wars contribute to increasing insecurity and destabilization in America and in the world.
Thus, by a paradoxical dialectic, America’s New World Order degenerates progressively into a New World Disorder. And at home the seemingly indomitable national security state, beset by the problems of poverty, income disparity, and drugs, becomes, progressively, a national insecurity state and one gripped by political gridlock.

The purpose of this paper is to argue, using the analogy of British errors in the late 19th century, for a progressive return to a more stable and just international order, by a series of concrete steps, some of them incremental. Using the decline of Britain as an example, I hope to demonstrate that the solution cannot be expected from the current party political system, but must come from people outside that system.
The Follies of the Late 19th Century Pax Britannica
The final errors of British imperial leaders are particularly instructive for our predicament today. In both cases power in excess of defense needs led to more and more unjust, and frequently counter-productive, expansions of influence. My account in the following paragraphs is one-sidedly negative, ignoring positive achievements abroad in the areas of health and education. But the consolidation of British power led to the impoverishment abroad of previously wealthy countries like India, and also of British workers at home.6
A main reason for the latter was, as Kevin Phillips has demonstrated, the increasing outward flight of British investment capital and productive capacity:
Thus did Britain slip into circumstances akin to those of the United States in the 1980s and most of the 1990s – slumping nonsupervisory wage levels and declining basic industries on one hand, and at the other end of the scale a heyday for banks, financial services, and securities, a sharp rise in the portion of income coming from investment, and a stunning percentage of income and assets going to the top 1 percent.7
The dangers of increasing income and wealth disparity in Britain were easily recognized at the time, including by the young politician Winston Churchill.8 But only a few noticed the penetrating analysis by John A. Hobson in his bookImperialism (1902), that an untrammeled search for profit that directed capital abroad created a demand for an oversized defense establishment to protect it, leading in turn to wider and wilder use abroad of Britain’s armies. Hobson defined the imperialism of his time, which he dated from about 1870, as “a debasement … of genuine nationalism, by attempts to overflow its natural banks and absorb the near or distant territory of reluctant and inassimilable peoples.”9
The earlier British empire could be said by a British historian in 1883 to have been “acquired in a fit of absence of mind,” but this could not be said of Cecil Rhodes’s advances in Africa. Maldistribution of wealth was an initial cause of British expansion, and also an inevitable consequence of it. Much of Hobson’s book attacked western exploitation of the Third World, especially in Africa and Asia.10 He thus echoed Thucydides description of
how Athens was undone by the overreaching greed (pleonexia) of its unnecessary Sicilian expedition, a folly presaging America’s follies in Vietnam and Iraq [and Britain’s in Afghanistan and the Transvaal]. Thucydides attributed the rise of this folly to the rapid change in Athens after the death of Pericles, and in particular to the rise of a rapacious oligarchy.11
Both the apogee of the British empire and the start of its decline can be dated to the 1850s. In that decade London instituted direct control over India, displacing the nakedly exploitative East India Company.

The British empire during the Victorian Era
But in the same decade Britain sided with France’s nakedly expansionist Napoleon III (and the decadent Ottoman empire) in his ambitions against Russia’s status in the Holy Land. Although Britain was victorious in that war, historians have since judged that victory to be a chief cause of the breakdown in the balance of power that had prevailed in Europe since the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Thus the legacy of the war for Britain was a more modernized and efficient army, together with a more insecure and unstable world. (Historians may in future come to judge that NATO’s Libyan venture of 2011 played a similar role in ending the era of U.S.-Russian détente.)
The Crimean War also saw the emergence of perhaps the world’s first significant antiwar movement in Britain, even though that movement is often remembered chiefly for its role in ending the active political roles of its main leaders, John Cobden and John Bright.12 In the short run, Britain’s governments and leaders moved to the right, leading (for example) to Gladstone’s bombardment of Alexandria in 1882 to recover the debts owed by the Egyptians to private British investors.
Reading Hobson’s economic analysis in the light of Thucydides, we can focus on the moral factor of emergent hubristic greed (pleonexia) fostered by unrestrained British power. In 1886 the discovery of colossal gold deposits in the nominally independent Boer Republic of the Transvaal attracted the attention of Cecil Rhodes, already wealthy from South African diamonds and mining concessions he had acquired by deceit in Matabeleland. Rhodes now saw an opportunity to acquire goldfields in the Transvaal as well, by overthrowing the Boer government with the support of the uitlanders or foreigners who had flocked to the Transvaal.
French caricature of Rhodes, showing him trapped in Kimberley during the Boer War, seen emerging from tower clutching papers with champagne bottle behind his collar.
In 1895, after direct plotting with the uitlanders failed, Rhodes, in his capacity as Prime Minister of the British Cape Colony, sponsored an invasion of Transvaal with the so-called Jameson Raid, a mixed band of Mounted Police and mercenary volunteers. The raid was not only a failure, but a scandal: Rhodes was forced to resign as Prime Minister and his brother went to jail. The details of the Jameson raid and resulting Boer War are too complex to be recounted here; but the end result was that after the Boer War the goldfields fell largely into the hands of Rhodes.
The next step in Rhodes’ well-funded expansiveness was his vision of a Cape-to-Cairo railway through colonies all controlled by Britain. As we shall see in a moment, this vision provoked a competing French vision of an east-east railway, leading to the first of a series of crises from imperial competition that progressively escalated towards World War I.
According to Carroll Quigley, Rhodes also founded a secret society for the further expansion of the British empire, an offshoot of which was the Round Table which in turn generated the Royal Institute of International Affairs. In 1917 some members of the American Round Table also helped found the RIIA’s sister organization, the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).13
Some have found Quigley’s argument overstated. But whether one agrees with him or not, one can see a continuity between the expansionist acquisitiveness of Rhodes in Africa in the 1890s and the post-war acquisitiveness of UK and American oil corporations in the CFR-backed coups in Iran (1953), Indonesia (1965), and Cambodia (1970).14 In all these cases private acquisitive greed (albeit of corporations rather than an individual) led to state violence and/or war as a matter of public policy. And the outcomes enriched and strengthened private corporations in what I have called the American war machine, thus undermining those institutions representing the public interest.
My main point is that the progressive build-up of the British navy and armies provoked, predictably, a responsive build-up from other powers, particularly France and Germany; and this ultimately made World War I (and its sequel, World War II) all but inevitable. In retrospect it is easy to see that the arms build-up contributed, disastrously, not to security but to more and more perilous insecurity, dangerous not just to the imperial powers themselves but to the world. Because American global dominance surpasses what Britain’s ever was, we have not hitherto seen a similar backlash in competitiveness from other states; but we are beginning to see a backlash build-up (or what the media call terrorism) from increasingly oppressed peoples.
In retrospect one can see also that the progressive impoverishment of India and other colonies guaranteed that the empire would become progressively more unstable, and doomed in its last days to be shut down. This was not obvious at the time; and comparatively few Britons in the 19th century, other than Hobson, challenged the political decisions that led from the Long Depression of the 1870s to the European “Scramble for Africa,” and the related arms race.15 Yet when we look back today on these decisions, and the absurd but ominous crises they led to in distant corners of Africa like Fashoda (1898) and Agadir (1911), we have to marvel at the short-sighted and narrow stupidity of the so-called statesmen of that era.16
We also note how international crises could be initially provoked by very small, uncontrolled, bureaucratic cabals. The Fashoda incident in South Sudan involved a small troupe of 132 French officers and soldiers who had trekked for 14 months, in vain hopes of establishing a west-to-east French presence across Africa (thus breaching Rhodes’ vision of a north-to-south British presence.17 The 1911 provocative arrival (in the so-called “Panther leap” or Panzersprung) of the German gunboat Panzer at Agadir in Morocco was the foolish brainchild of a Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs; its chief result was the cementing of the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale, thus contributing to Germany’s defeat in World War I.18
The Pax Americana in the Light of the Pax Britannica
The world is not condemned to repeat this tragedy under the Pax Americana. Global interdependence and above all communications have greatly improved. We possess the knowledge, the abilities, and the incentives to understand historical processes more skillfully than before. Above all it is increasingly evident to a global minority that American hypermilitarism, in the name of security, is becoming – much like British hypermilitarism in the 19th century — a threat to everyone’s security, including America’s, by inducing and increasingly seeking wider and wider wars.
There is one consolation for Americans in this increasing global disequilibrium. As the causes for global insecurity become more and more located in our own country, so also do the remedies. More than their British predecessors, Americans have an opportunity that other peoples do not, to diminish global tensions and move towards a more equitable global regimen. Of course one cannot predict that such a restoration can be achieved. But the disastrous end of the Pax Britannica, and the increasingly heavy burdens borne by Americans, suggest that it is necessary. For American unilateral expansionism, like Britain’s before it, is now contributing to a breakdown of the understandings and international legal arrangements (notably those of the UN Charter) that for some decades contributed to relative stability.
It needs to be stated clearly that the American arms build-up today is the leading cause in the world of a global arms build-up – one that is ominously reminiscent of the arms race, fuelled by the British armaments industry, that led to the 1911 Agadir incident and soon after to World War I. But today’s arms build-up cannot be called an arms race: it is so dominated by America (and its NATO allies, required by NATO policy to have compatible armaments) that the responsive arms sales of Russia and China are small by comparison:
In 2010 …the United States maintained its dominating position in the global arms bazaar, signing $21.3 billion in worldwide arms sales, or 52.7 percent of all weapons deals, ….
Russia was second with $7.8 billion in arms sales in 2010, or 19.3 percent of the market, compared with $12.8 billion in 2009. Following the United States and Russia in sales were France, Britain, China, Germany and Italy.19
A year later America’s total dominance of overseas arms sales had more than doubled, to represent 79 percent of global arms sales:
Overseas weapons sales by the United States totaled $66.3 billion last year, or more than three-quarters of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011. Russia was a distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals.20
And what is NATO’s primary activity today requiring arms? Not defense against Russia, but support for America in its self-generating War on Terror, in Afghanistan as once in Iraq. The War on Terror should be seen for what it really is: a pretext for maintaining a dangerously oversized U.S. military, in an increasingly unstable exercise of unjust power.
In other words America is by far the chief country flooding the world with armaments today. It is imperative that Americans force a reassessment of this incentive to global poverty and insecurity. We need to recall Eisenhower’s famous warning in 1953 that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, is in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”21
It is worth recalling that President Kennedy, in his American University speech of June 10, 1963, called for a vision of peace that would explicitly not be “a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.”22 His vision was wise, if short-lived. After sixty years of the American security system – the so-called “Pax Americana” – America itself is ever more caught up in an increasingly paranoid condition of psychological insecurity. Traditional features of American culture – such as respect for habeas corpus and international law – are being jettisoned at home and abroad because of a so-called terrorist threat that is largely of America’s own making.
The Covert US-Saudi Alliance and the War on Terror
Of the $66.3 billion in U.S. overseas arms sales in 2011, over half, or $33.4 billion, consisted of sales to Saudi Arabia. This included dozens of Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, weapons described by the New York Times, as needed for defense against Iran, but more suitable for Saudi Arabia’s increasing involvement in aggressive asymmetric wars (e.g. in Syria).23
These Saudi arms sales are not incidental; they reflect an agreement between the two countries to offset the flow of US dollars to pay for Saudi oil. During the oil price hikes of 1971 and 1973 Nixon and Kissinger negotiated a deal with both Saudi Arabia and Iran to pay significantly higher prices for crude, on the understanding that the two countries would then recycle the petrodollars by various means, prominently arms deals.24
The wealth of the two nations, America and Saudi Arabia, has become ever more interdependent. This is ironic. In the words of a leaked US cable, “Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda.”25 The Rabita or Muslim World League, launched and largely funded by the Saudi royal family, has provided an international meeting place for international Salafists including some al Qaeda leaders.26
Obama with Saudi King Abdullah, 2010
In short, the wealth generated by the Saudi-American relationship is funding both the al Qaeda-type jihadists of the world today and America’s self-generating war against them. The result is an incremental militarization of the world abroad and America at home, as new warfronts in the so-called War on Terror emerge, predictably, in previously peaceful areas like Mali.
The media tend to present the “War on Terror” as a conflict between lawful governments and fanatical peace-hating Islamist fundamentalists. In fact in most countries, America and Britain not excepted, there is a long history of occasional collaboration with the very forces which at other times they oppose.
Today America’s foreign policies and above all covert operations are increasingly chaotic. In some countries, notably Afghanistan, the US is fighting jihadists that the CIA supported in the 1980s, and that are still supported today by our nominal allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In some countries, notably Libya, we have provided protection and indirect support to the same kind of jihadis. In some countries, notably Kosovo, we have helped bring these jihadis to power.27
One country where American authorities conceded its clients were supporting jihadis is Yemen. As Christopher Boucek reported some years ago to the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace,
Islamist extremism in Yemen is the result of a long and complicated set of developments. A large number of Yemeni nationals participated in the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan during the 1980s. After the Soviet occupation ended, the Yemeni government encouraged its citizens to return and also permitted foreign veterans to settle in Yemen. Many of these Arab Afghans were co-opted by the regime and integrated into the state’s various security apparatuses. Such co-optation was also used with individuals detained by the Yemeni government after the September 11 terrorist attacks. As early as 1993, the U.S. State Department noted in a now-declassified intelligence report that Yemen was becoming an important stop for many fighters leaving Afghanistan. The report also maintained that the Yemeni government was either unwilling or unable to curb their activities. Islamism and Islamist activists were used by the regime throughout the 1980s and 1990s to suppress domestic opponents, and during the 1994 civil war Islamists fought against southern forces.28
In March 2011 the same scholar, Christopher Boucek, observed that America’s war on terror had resulted in the propping up of an unpopular government, thus helping it avoid needed reforms:
Well, I think for — our policy on Yemen has been terrorism — has been terrorism and security and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, to the exclusion of almost everything else. I think, despite what — what people in the administration say, we have been focused on terrorism. We have not been focused on the systemic challenges that Yemen faces: unemployment, governance abuses, corruption. I think these are the things that will bring down the state. It’s not AQAP….. everyone in Yemen sees that we’re supporting the regimes, at the expense of the Yemeni people.29
Stated more bluntly: One major reason why Yemen (like other countries) remains backward and a fertile ground for jihadi terrorism is America’s war on terror itself.
America’s is not the only foreign security policy contributing to the crisis in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has had a stake in reinforcing the jihadi influence in republican Yemen, ever since the Saudi royal family in the 1960s used conservative hill tribes in northern Yemen to repel an attack on southern Saudi Arabia by the Nasser-backed republican Yemeni government.30
These machinations of governments and their intelligence agencies can create conditions of impenetrable obscurity. For example, as Sen. John Kerry has reported, one of the top leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) “is a Saudi citizen who was repatriated to Saudi Arabia from Guantanamo in November 2007 and returned to militancy [in Yemen] after completing a rehabilitation course in Saudi Arabia.”31
Like other nations, America is no stranger to the habit of making deals with al Qaeda jihadis, to aid them to fight abroad in areas of mutual interest — such as Bosnia – in exchange for not acting as terrorists at home. This practice clearly contributed to the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, when at least two of the bombers had been protected from arrest because of their participation in a Brooklyn-based program preparing Islamists for Bosnia. In 1994 the FBI secured the release in Canada of a U.S.-Al Qaeda double agent at the Brooklyn center, Ali Mohamed, who promptly went on to Kenya where (according to the 9/11 Commission Report) he “led” the organizers of the 1998 attack on the U.S. Embassy.32
Saudi Arabian Support for Terrorists
Perhaps the foremost practitioner of this game is Saudi Arabia, which has not only exported jihadis to all parts of the globe but (as previously noted) has financed them, sometimes in alliance with the United States. A New York Times article in 2010 about leaked diplomatic cables quoted from one of the diplomatic dispatches: “Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda.”33
Back in 2007 the London Sunday Times also reported that
wealthy Saudis remain the chief financiers of worldwide terror networks. ‘If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia,’ said Stuart Levey, the US Treasury official in charge of tracking terror financing.34
Similar reports of Saudi funding have come from authorities in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, according to Rachel Ehrenfeld:
Pakistani police reported in 2009 that Saudi Arabia’s charities continue to fund al Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. The report said the Saudis gave $15 million to jihadists, including those responsible for suicide attacks in Pakistan and the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
In May 2010, Buratha News Agency, an independent news source in Iraq, reported on a leaked Saudi intelligence document showing continued Saudi governmental support for al Qaeda in Iraq in the form of cash and weapons…. An article in the May 31, 2010, edition of The Sunday Times in London revealed that the Afghan financial intelligence unit, FinTRACA, reported that since 2006, at least $1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia was smuggled into Afghanistan, headed most probably to the Taliban.”35
However the Saudi backing of al Qaeda was not, according to the Times, limited to funds:
In recent months, Saudi religious scholars have caused consternation in Iraq and Iran by issuing fatwas calling for the destruction of the great Shi’ite shrines in Najaf and Karbala in Iraq, some of which have already been bombed. And while prominent members of the ruling al-Saud dynasty regularly express their abhorrence of terrorism, leading figures within the kingdom who advocate extremism are tolerated.
Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan, the chief justice, who oversees terrorist trials, was recorded on tape in a mosque in 2004, encouraging young men to fight in Iraq. “Entering Iraq has become risky now,” he cautioned. “It requires avoiding those evil satellites and those drone aircraft, which own every corner of the skies over Iraq. If someone knows that he is capable of entering Iraq in order to join the fight, and if his intention is to raise up the word of God, then he is free to do so.”36
The Example of Mali
Something similar is happening today in Africa, where Saudi Wahhabist fundamentalism “has grown in recent years in Mali with young imams returning from studying on the Arab peninsula.”37 The world
press, including Al Jazeera, has reported on the destruction of historic tombs by local jihadis:
Fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked group Ansar Dine, controlling northern Mali, have destroyed two tombs at the ancient Djingareyber mud mosque in Timbuktu, an endangered World Heritage site, witnesses say…. The new destruction comes after attacks last week on other historic and religious landmarks in Timbuktu that UNESCO called “wanton destruction”. Ansar Dine has declared the ancient Muslim shrines “haram”, or forbidden in Islam. The Djingareyber mosque is one of the most important in Timbuktu and was one of the fabled city’s main attractions before the region became a no-go area for tourists. Ansar Dine has vowed to continue destroying all the shrines “without exception” amid an outpouring of grief and outrage both at home and abroad.38
Djingareyber
But most of these stories (including al Jazeera’s) have failed to point out that the destruction of tombs has long been a Wahhabi practice not only endorsed but carried out by the Saudi government:
In 1801 and 1802, the Saudi Wahhabis under Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud attacked and captured the holy Muslim cities of Karbala and Najaf in Iraq, massacred parts of the Muslim population and destroyed the tombs of Husayn ibn Ali who is the grandson of Muhammad, and son of Ali (Ali bin Abu Talib), the son-in-law of Muhammad). In 1803 and 1804 the Saudis captured Makkah and Medina and destroyed historical monuments and various holy Muslim sites and shrines, such as the shrine built over the tomb of Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, and even intended to destroy the grave of Muhammad himself as idolatrous. In 1998 the Saudis bulldozed and poured gasoline over the grave of Aminah bint Wahb, the mother of Muhammad, causing resentment throughout the Muslim World.39
The Chance of Peace and Insecurity, the Chief Impediment to It
Today one must distinguish between the Saudi Arabian Kingdom and the Wahhabism promoted by senior Saudi clerics and some members of the Saudi Royal Family. King Abdullah in particular has reached out to other religions, visiting the Vatican in 2007 and encouraging an interfaith conference with Christian and Jewish leaders, which took place in 2008.
In 2002 Abdullah, as Crown Prince, also submitted a proposal for Arab-Israeli peace to a summit of Arab League nations. The plan, which has been endorsed by Arab League governments on many occasions, called for normalizing relations between the entire Arab region and Israel, in exchange for a complete withdrawal from the occupied territories (including East Jerusalem) and a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee crisis based on UN Resolution 194. It was spurned in 2002 by Israel’s Sharon and also by Bush and Cheney, who at the time were determined to go to war in Iraq. But as David Ottaway of the Woodrow Wilson Center has noted,
Abdullah’s 2002 peace plan remains an intriguing possible basis for U.S.-Saudi cooperation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Abdullah’s proposal was endorsed by the entire Arab League at its 2002 summit; Israeli President Shimon Peres and Olmert both referred to it favorably; and Barack Obama, who chose the Saudi-owned al Arabiya television station for his first interview after taking office, praised Abdullah for his “great courage” in making the peace proposal. However, the presumed new Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has strongly opposed the Saudi plan, particularly the idea that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state.40
The plan has no traction in 2012, with Israel hinting at action against Iran and America paralyzed by an election year. However Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomed the initiative in 2009; and George Mitchell, President Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, announced in the same year that the Obama administration intended to “incorporate” the initiative into its Middle East policy.41
These voices of support indicate that a peace agreement in the Middle East is theoretically possible, but by no means do they make it likely. Any peace settlement would require trust, and trust is difficult when all parties are beset by a sense of insecurity about their nations’ futures. Pro-Zionist commentators like Charles Krauthammer recall that for thirty years before Camp David, the destruction of Israel was “the unanimous goal of the Arab League.”42 Many Palestinians, and most of Hamas, fear that a peace settlement would leave unsatisfied, and indeed extinguish, their demands for a just settlement of grievances.
Insecurity is particularly widespread in the Middle East because of the widespread resentment there against injustice, which insecurity both grows from and propagates. Much of the global status quo has its origins in injustice; but the injustice in the Middle East, on all sides, is extreme, recent, and ongoing. I say this only to offer this advice to Americans: to keep in mind that the issues of security and justice cannot be separated.
Above all, one thing called for is compassion. We as Americans must understand that both Israelis and Palestinians live in conditions not remote from a state of war; yet both have reason to fear that a peace settlement might leave them even worse off than in their present uncomfortable situation. Too many innocent civilians have been killed in the Middle East. American actions should not increase that number.
This sense of insecurity, the major impediment to peace, is not confined to the Middle East. Since 9/11 Americans have experienced the anguish of insecurity, and this is the major reason why there is so little American resistance to the manifest follies of the Bush-Cheney-Obama War on Terror.
The War on Terror promises to make America more secure, yet in fact continues to guarantee the proliferation of America’s terrorist enemies. It also continues to disseminate the War into new battlefields, notably Pakistan and Yemen. By thus creating its own enemies, the War on Terror, now solidly entrenched in bureaucratic inertia, seems likely to continue unabated. In this it is much like the equally ill-considered War on Drugs, dedicated to maintaining the high costs and profits that attract new traffickers.
Above all this contributes to Islamic insecurity as well, causing more and more Muslims to deal with the fear that civilians, not just jihadi terrorists, will be the victims of drone attacks. Insecurity in the Middle East is the major obstacle to peace there. Palestinians live in daily fear of oppression by West Bank settlers and retaliation by the Israeli state. The Israelis live in constant fear of hostile neighbors. So does the Saudi royal family. Insecurity and instability have increased together since 9/11 and the War on Terror.
Middle Eastern insecurity replicates itself on a wider and wider scale. Israeli fear of Iran and Hizbollah is matched by Iranian fear of Israeli threats of massive attacks on its nuclear installations. And recently former U.S. hawks like Zbigniew Brzezinski have warned that an Israeli attack on Iran could lead to a longer war that spreads elsewhere.43
Above all, in my opinion, Americans should fear the insecurity spread by
drone attacks. If not soon stopped, America’s drone attacks threaten to do what America’s atomic attacks did in 1945: lead to a world in which many powers, not just one, possess this weapon and may possibly use it. In this case the most likely new target by far would be the United States.
How long will it be, I wonder, before a prevailable force of Americans will recognize the predictable course of this self-generating war, and mobilize against it?
What Is to Be Done?
This paper has argued, using the analogy of British errors in the late 19th century, for a progressive return to a more stable and just international order, by a series of concrete steps, some of them incremental:
1) a progressive reduction of America’s bloated military and intelligence budgets, over and above that already contemplated for financial reasons.
2) a progressive phase-out of the violent aspects of the so-called war on terror, while retaining traditional law enforcement means for dealing with terrorists
3) Much of the recent intensification of American militarism can be traced to the “state of emergency” proclaimed on September 14, 2001, and renewed annually by American presidents ever since. We need an immediate termination of this state of emergency, and a reassessment of all the so-called “continuity of government” (COG) measures associated with it – warrantless surveillance, warrantless detention, and the militarization of domestic American security.44
4) a return to strategies for dealing with the problem of terrorists that rely primarily on civilian policing and intelligence.
Forty years ago I would have appealed to Congress to take these steps to defuse the state of paranoia we are living under. Today I have come to see that Congress itself is dominated by the powers that profit from what I have called America’s global war machine. The so-called “statesmen” of America are as dedicated to the preservation of American dominance as were their British predecessors.
But to say this is not to despair of America’s ability to change direction. We should keep in mind that four decades ago domestic political protest played a critical role in helping to end an unjustified war in Vietnam. It is true that in 2003 similar protests – involving one million Americans – failed to impede America’s entry into an unjustified war in Iraq. Nevertheless, the large number of protesters, assembled under relatively short notice, was impressive. The question is whether protesters can adapt their tactics to new realities and mount a sustained and effective campaign.
Under the guise of COG planning, the American war machine has been preparing for forty years to neutralize street antiwar protests. Taking cognizance of this, and using the folly of British hypermilitarism as an example, today’s antiwar movement must learn how to apply coordinated pressure within American institutions – not just by “occupying” the streets with the aid of the homeless. It is not enough simply to denounce, as did Churchill in 1908, the increasing disparity of wealth between rich and poor. One must go beyond this to see the origins of this disparity in dysfunctional institutional arrangements that are corrigible. And one of the chief of these is the so-called War on Terror.
No one can predict the success of such a movement. But I believe that global developments will persuade more and more Americans that it is necessary. It should appeal to a broad spectrum of the American electorate, from the viewers of Democracy Now on the left to the libertarian followers of Murray Rothbard, Ron Paul, and Lew Rockwell on the right.
And I believe also that a well-coordinated nonviolent antiwar minority – of from two to five million, acting with the resources of truth and common sense on their side – can win. America’s core political institutions at present are both dysfunctional and unpopular: Congress in particular has an approval rating of about ten percent. A more serious problem is the determined resistance of corporate and personal wealth to reasonable reforms; but the more nakedly wealth shows its undemocratic influence, the more evident will become the need to curb its abuses. Currently wealth has targeted for removal Congress members who have been guilty of compromise to solve government problems. Surely there is an American majority out there to be mobilized for a return to common sense.
Clearly new strategies and techniques of protest will be needed. It is not the purpose here to define them, but future protests – or cyberprotests – will predictably make more skillful use of the Internet.
I repeat that one cannot be confident of victory in the struggle for sanity against special interests and ignorant ideologues. But with the increasing danger of a calamitous international conflict, the need to mobilize for sanity is increasingly clear. The study of history is one of the most effective ways to avoid repeating it.
Are these hopes for protest mere wishful thinking? Very possibly. But, wishful or not, I consider them to be necessary.
Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, and The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here.
Recommended citation: Peter Dale Scott, “Why Americans Must End America’s Self-Generating Wars,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 36, No. 2, September 3, 2012.
Notes
 
1 Oliver Villar and Drew Cottle, Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror: U.S. Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2011); Peter Watt and Roberto Zepeda, Drug War Mexico: Politics, Neoliberalism and Violence in the New Narcoeconomy (London: Zed Books, 2012); Mark Karlin, “How the Militarized War on Drugs in Latin America Benefits Transnational Corporations and Undermines Democracy,” Truthout, August 5, 2012.
2 Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), 217-37.
3 Patrick Cockburn, “Opium: Iraq’s deadly new export,” Independent (London), May 23, 2007.
4 Scott, American War Machine, 134-40.
6 Sekhara Bandyopadhyaya, From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2004), 231.
7 Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich (New York: Broadway Books, 2002), 185.
8 “The seed of imperial ruin and national decay – the unnatural gap between the rich and the poor…. the swift increase of vulgar, jobless luxury – are the enemies of Britain” (Winston Churchill, quoted in Phillips, Wealth and Democracy, 171).
9 John A. Hobson, Imperialism (London: Allen and Unwin, 1902; reprint, 1948), 6. The book’s chief impact in Britain at the time was to permanently stunt Hobson’s career as an economist.
10 Hobson, Imperialism, 12. Cf. Arthur M. Eckstein, “Is There a ‘Hobson–Lenin Thesis’ on Late Nineteenth-Century Colonial Expansion?” Economic History Review, May 1991, 297–318, especially 298-300.
11 Peter Dale Scott, “The Doomsday Project, Deep Events, and the Shrinking of American Democracy,” Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, January 21, 2011, http://japanfocus.org/-Peter_Dale-Scott/3476.
12 See Ralph Raico, “Introduction,” Great Wars and Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal (Auburn, AL: Mises Institute, 2010), http://mises.org/daily/5088/Neither-the-Wars-Nor-the-Leaders-Were-Great.
13 Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (G,S,G, & Associates, 1975); Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment (GSG Associates publishers, 1981), http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/New_World_Order/Anglo_American_Estab.html. Discussion in Laurence H. Shoup and William Minter, The Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations & United States Foreign Policy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977), 12-14; Michael Parenti, Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader , 332.
14 For the little-noticed interest of oil companies in Cambodian offshore oilfields, see Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (Ipswich, MA: Mary Ferrell Foundation, 2008), 216-37.
15 Thomas Pakenham, Scramble for Africa: The White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876-1912 (New York: Random House, 1991).
16 See the various books by Barbara Tuchman, notably The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam (New York: Knopf, 1984).
17 Pakenham, Scramble for Africa.
18 E. Oncken, Panzersprung nach Agadir. Die deutsche Politik wtihrend der zweiten Marokkokrise 1911 (Dilsseldorf, 1981). Panzersprung in German has come to be a metaphor for any gratuitous exhibition of gunboat diplomacy.
19 Thom Shanker, “Global Arms Sales Dropped Sharply in 2010, Study Finds,” New York Times, September 23, 2011.
20 Thom Shanker, “U.S. Arms Sales Make Up Most of Global Market,” New York Times, August 27, 2012.
21 Stephen Ambrose, Eisenhower: Soldier and President (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990), 325,
22 Robert Dallek, An unfinished life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 2003.). 50.
23 Shanker, “U.S. Arms Sales Make Up Most of Global Market,” New York Times, August 27, 2012.
24 Scott, The Road to 9/11, 33-37.
25 Scott Shane and Andrew W. Lehren, “Leaked Cables Offer Raw Look at U.S. Diplomacy,” New York Times, Hovember 29, 2010. Cf. Nick Fielding and Sarah Baxter, “Saudi Arabia is hub of world terror: The desert kingdom supplies the cash and the killers,” Times (London), 2007, http://www.jihadwatch.org/2007/11/saudi-arabia-is-hub-of-world-terror-the-desert-kingdom-supplies-the-cash-and-the-killers.html.
26 The United Nations has listed the branch offices in Indonesia and the Philippines of the Rabita’s affiliate, the International Islamic Relief Organization, as belonging to or associated with al-Qaeda.
27 See Peter Dale Scott, “Bosnia, Kosovo, and Now Libya: The Human Costs of Washington’s On-Going Collusion with Terrorists,” Asian-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, July 29, 2011; also William Blum, “The United States and Its Comrade-in-Arms, Al Qaeda,” Counterpunch, August 13, 2012, http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/13/tales-of-an-empire-gone-mad/.
28 Christopher Boucek, “Yemen: Avoiding a Downward Spiral,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 12.
29 “In Yemen, ‘Too Many Guns and Too Many Grievances’ as President Clings to Power,” PBS Newshour, March 21, 2011, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/world/jan-june11/yemen_03-21.html.
30 Robert Lacey, The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Sa’ud (New York: Avon, 1981), 346-47, 361.
31 John Kerry, Al Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia: A Ticking Time Bomb: a Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations(Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 2010), 10.
32 Scott, The Road to 9/11, 152-56.
33 Scott Shane and Andrew W. Lehren, “Leaked Cables Offer Raw Look at U.S. Diplomacy,” New York Times, November 29, 2010.
34 Nick Fielding and Sarah Baxter“Saudi Arabia is hub of world terror,” Sunday Times (London), November 4, 2007: “Extremist clerics provide a stream of recruits to some of the world’s nastiest trouble spots. An analysis by NBC News suggested that the Saudis make up 55% of foreign fighters in Iraq. They are also among the most uncompromising and militant.”
35 Rachel Ehrenfeld, “Al-Qaeda’s Source of Funding from Drugs and Extortion Little Affected by bin Laden’s Death,” Cutting Edge, May 9, 2011, http://www.thecuttingedgenews.com/index.php?article=51969&pageid=20&pagename=Security.
36 Sunday Times (London), November 4, 2007.
39 The Weekly Standard, May 30, 2005, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/642eforh.asp. Cf. Newsweek, May 30, 2005. Adapted from Hilmi Isik Advice for the Muslim, (Istanbul: Hakikat Kitabevi).
40 David Ottaway, “The King and Us: U.S.-Saudi Relations in the Wake of 9/11, Foreign Affairs, May-June 2009.
41 Barak Ravid, “U.S. Envoy: Arab Peace Initiative Will Be Part of Obama Policy,” Haaretz, April 5, 2009. David Ottaway, “The King and Us Subtitle: U.S.-Saudi Relations in the Wake of 9/11, Foreign Affairs, May-June 2009.
42 Charles Krauthammer, “At Last, Zion: Israel and the Fate of the Jews,” Weekly Standard, May 11, 1998.
43 “We have no idea how such a wald r wouend,” [Brzezinski] said. “Iran has military capabilities, it could retaliate by destabilizing Iraq” (Salon, March 14, 2012).
44 See Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 183-242; Peter Dale Scott, “Is the State of Emergency Superseding our Constitution? Continuity of Government Planning, War and American Society,” Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, November 28, 2010, http:/1/japanfocus.org/-Peter_Dale-Scott/3448 .
This article was originally posted at The Asia-Pacific Journal.


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The Revolution is Over – Long Live the Revolution!

By Bretigne Shaffer 
August 30, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – I’ve seen many posts like this one today, from Antonia Litsinger:
“Well, I’m not going to get into the classic insanity mode – doing things over and over and expecting different results. I’m done with this whole political shit. It was fun for a while and I met a whole bunch of great people in the liberty movement. Let the crooks and the deviants have it. I’ve withdrawn my consent and am turning my back to them all.”
This is good. This is someone waking up. This is someone – and there are many of them – who has put a real effort into changing things for the better through the political system. Many have been doing it since 2007, some even longer. And while some will continue the fight, continue working to get “good people” into bad offices, others are starting to look a little deeper, are starting to recognize that it is the system itself that is broken, not the particular individuals who happen to be heading it up at the moment.  
I shouldn’t be, but I am still surprised when I hear people urging me to support Romney because Obama will be so much worse, or Obama because Romney will be so much worse. I hear this from smart people, people I respect, and I have to do a double take because I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I can’t believe they can’t see that both of these people – or more accurately, the interests that support both of these people – are phenomenally evil and that to support either one is to support driving our country further toward a police state, aggressive military adventurism, economic cronyism and ultimately bankruptcy.
Yet people are so tribal, and so ruled by fear. I don’t know where the tribalism comes from. Some of it is learned, but I fear some of it is innate, and it still astounds me to see how powerful it is, to watch otherwise intelligent and caring people throw their support behind what can only be described as a fascist dictator, all because he’s “one of them”. “He’s a Democrat and I’m a Democrat and Democrats are good!” Or “yes, he’s awful, but the other guy is so much worse!” It is such a powerless position to be in, and is precisely how the power elite maintain their control over our lives – through fear. Fear of the terrorists their own policies incited; fear of “rich” people; fear of “illegal” immigrants; fear of the other guy who might win if you don’t throw your support behind our equally awful candidate.
What struck me, in reading the Tweets of those watching the proceedings, was this: Those who today were cheering because now “Ron Paul will finally retire and we’ll be done with him”, or berating him for not falling in line and supporting Romney like a good Party Member, really don’t get it. It’s not that they don’t “get” Ron Paul, it’s not that they don’t agree with his message or don’t understand why so many people are so passionate about him. It’s not even that they don’t “get” that Romney and Obama are essentially the same. What they don’t get is that the point of the liberty movement is not simply to win elections, and it is certainly not to win elections just for the sake of winning them. The point of the liberty movement is to bring about liberty. And after witnessing the corruption and dishonesty of the 2008 election proceedings and now the 2012 elections so far, it just may be dawning on more than a few in this movement that participating in the establishment’s rigged game is not an effective way of bringing about a free society.
If there is anything good that comes out of the Republican National Convention of 2012, it will be this: That the Republican Party leadership’s blatant disregard for its own procedures, its willingness to change the rules at the last minute to prevent an outcome it does not want, will be instructive to those who still believe in “working within the system to change the system.” It will push more liberty activists to start thinking of more creative ways, more productive ways of bringing about a free society. And it’s about time.
Many of us were cynical about building a free society by using the machinery of the state all along. But we supported Ron Paul because we had to say we tried. For myself, I felt that if his presidncy was even a possibility (even though I don’t even believe in the office of the presidency) I had to do what I could to make it happen, for the sake of the lives that would be saved by reining in an aggressive foreign policy if nothing else. And I did, and I don’t regret it. But now it’s time to get serious about building a free society. The illusion that we can do it through the voting booth should by now be thoroughly discredited. Our focus should now be on building the society we believe in – one that is based on peaceful, voluntary interactions, where violence is only acceptable as a response to violence. The coercive system is failing, and it will only get worse. It’s time for us to get to work.
Bretigne Shaffer is the author of Memoirs of a Gaijin and Why Mommy Loves the State. She blogs at http://www.bretigne.com.

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The Real Convention Is On Romney Yacht

By Cenk Uygur
August 30, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – One of the reasons this Republican convention has been so deathly dull is that the real action isn’t at the convention. It’s at Cracker Bay. That’s the name of the yacht that the Romney team just hosted 50 partiers, including some of his top donors. This was one of about a dozen events outside of the convention where they had private meetings with donors giving more than $1 million dollars to his campaign. Over $1 million a piece. Now, where do you think the real policy gets made?
You think Mitt Romney gives a damn what a delegate thinks? The only delegates that matter were on that yacht. They call this group the “Victory Council.” This is made of people who are literally millionaires and billionaires and who dictate what Mitt Romney’s positions will be. He’s a legendary flip-flopper, but if you want to know what he really thinks you had to be on that boat.
“It was a really nice event. These are good supporters,” said billionaire Wilbur Ross, an energy industry executive,according to ABC News. I bet it was. Mitt Romney just revealed his energy plan a couple of days ago. Are you going to be surprised to find out that it massively helps energy companies? A really nice event is where you pay a million bucks and you get billions back if the candidate you supported wins the presidency.
It’s clear what Mitt Romney owes these people. What do you think he owes you? Ann Romney said that Mitt was a man who would not fail. She’s right; he will not fail his donors. He is a good businessman, so he will give them the service they paid for.
They’re so brazen the boat they were meeting on was flying a Cayman Islands flag. As one local put it, even their yacht doesn’t want to pay taxes. In the old days, you’d be a little embarrassed about things like this and it would be huge news if you got caught. Now people treat it like it’s perfectly normal.
Paul Ryan recently went to get the blessing of billionaire GOP donor Sheldon Adelson. Soon after he was picked and before getting ready for their convention, he had to stop everything and kiss the ring of their boss. This is sick. It is obvious legalized bribery and it’s being done right in front of our eyes. And the press hardly notices as our democracy leaves shore along with that boat full of millionaires.
The candidate with more money wins 93 percent of congressional races. In the Senate, it’s 94 percent. It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican, a liberal or a conservative, it doesn’t matter what your ideas or values are. The only thing that matters is if you’re on that yacht.
This post is part of the HuffPost Shadow Conventions 2012, a series spotlighting three issues that are not being discussed at the national GOP and Democratic conventions: The Drug War, Poverty in America, and Money in Politics.
This article was originally posted at Huffington Post

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