Money as debt is the control grid

If you want to truly understand what’s going on in the United States, and in fact, the entire world, then you must understand the concept of usury, or as we’ve come to call it, fractional reserve banking.

This knowledge, combined with an understanding that the Federal Reserve (and nearly every other Central Bank in the word) is a cartel of private banks, earning interest on the money it loans to your government, will make it absolutely clear to you who is really in control.

One need look no further than the father of central banking, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, who once famously stated:

“Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.”

With that in mind, please watch Money As Debt, which is presented below.   After that, do yourself a huge favor and watch The Money Masters, which is Money As Debt ON STEROIDS.

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Bill Maher: Tea Baggers are racist sore losers

On his HBO show, Bill Maher recently spent four and a half minutes demonizing the Tea Party movement.  Of course, this isn’t particularly shocking, as marginalizing dissent and protecting the status quo is the full time job of the corporate media.  Just ask Ralph Nader, who has done more for working and middle class Americans than anybody else over the past 50 years.  He’s been marginalized and demonized by the press to the point where he is now the universal symbol for why we should NOT pursue truly independent 3rd parties, and real change.  It’s quite the mindfuck, actually.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the the Tea Party is perfect, or that it’s even close to perfect.  The aim of this post is to point out the underhanded methods used to discredit movements that threaten the status quo, NOT to promote the Tea Party, which, as I pointed out here, has been infiltrated and hijacked by the GOP in order to ensure that it never becomes a viable option for “mainstream” voters.

Mission accomplished.

What began last year as a bipartisan movement against illegal wars of empire, multi-trillion dollar national debts, and bailouts for the very people who destroyed our entire economy, has come to be caricatured as an armed group of toothless, confused, right-wing, white power, neo nazis.  This caricature has been presented so often at this point, that it no longer even matters if it’s accurate.  After all, we are a nation raised by advertisers and public relations firms.  Media dictates reality.

Are there some confused idiots in the Tea Party movement?  Yup.  Are there racists in the Tea Party movement?  Absolutely, but the same can be said about ANY movement, including the Democrats and the Republicans.

Think about it.  Who has been in power over the past ten years, while the United States military has been marauding through Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, in illegal, undeclared wars begun under false pretenses?  And what do all of those countries have in common?  If you answered that they are all Muslim nations, then you get a Pop Tart.

And who has been in power since 1948, as the United States has provided financial and military support to Israel as they’ve stolen the land of the Palestinians, and turned Gaza into a modern day version of the Warsaw Ghetto?

The answer to both of the above questions, of course, is Democrats and Republicans, and it really wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that support of those two wars, and of Israel’s ongoing apartheid antics equals RACISM.

But somehow, the media caricature of Democrats and Republicans is not one of Arab-hating, gun-toting, bulldozer-driving Zionists.

Do you see what I’m driving at here?

The Tea Partiers are CONSTANTLY referred to as gun-toting racists, while the Democrats and Republicans, who actually USE their guns (and bombs, and tanks, and fighter planes, and aircraft carriers, and drones, and missiles) to kill people of particular racial or religious groups, while robbing them of their liberties and stealing their resources, get away scott free.

Why do you think that is?

I believe that it’s because the Democrats and the Republicans do not ever, under any circumstances, challenge the corporate status quo, while the Tea Party movement came into existence last year as an INDEPENDENT, grassroots, bipartisan movement, specifically to protest the multi-trillion dollar bailouts of the very banks that ruined the world’s economy, and the two illegal wars of aggression that have been going on for close to NINE YEARS, all of which made them very dangerous to the corporate status quo.   In fact, many of the Tea Party’s members consider themselves to be political independents, who still cite those issues, and (gasp) completely nutty ideas like food sovereignty and support of the Constitution as their main issues.  All of this meant that they needed to be infiltrated, co-opted, and marginalized.

So let’s examine the Bill Maher segment.

Maher begins by citing a very real problem that has been created exclusively by Democrats and Republicans.

That problem is the crippling national debt.

Maher goes on to take a very predictable cheap shot at what has come to be the caricatured physical appearance of the amorphous group that he not particularly cleverly refers to as “Tea-baggers,” instead of the Tea Party (get it, it’s a racy sex joke!).

“The problem with the Tea Party movement, besides their almost universal rejection of dentistry, is that they want money for nothing and chicks for free.”

Maher continues:

“They want a deregulated market, and for their jobs to stay here in the US.

They want guaranteed heath coverage, regardless of preexisting conditions, but without a big government mandate.

And of course, they want big tax cuts along with deficit reduction.”

Never mind that plenty of Democrats and Republicans often make the exact same types of demands.  Oh wait, Maher goes on to admit just that:

“Now, in fairness, this isn’t just the Tea Baggers.  Ask the American people how they want to tame the deficit, by raising taxes, or by cutting spending, and cutting spending wins, always…”

He then goes on to accurately refer to the United States as “an empire” that “costs 1 trillion dollars per year to maintain”, and he says that “this is a welfare program for defense workers to build crap that we don’t need.”

And he’s absolutely right about all of that.  Just as the “Tea Baggers” who have been saying the same thing are right about it.

Maher finishes with this:

“So Tea Baggers, if you’re unwilling to cut defense and give up the empire, you don’t really care about the debt, and you have to admit that you’re just a racist sore loser.”

See?  Only the “Tea Baggers” are racists.  Nobody else.  Not even the people who have actually been in power, and have been responsible for over 1 million dead Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan since we invaded them close to nine years ago.  Not the people who have supported apartheid Israel for the past 62 years.   Certainly not Barack Obama, who, the last time I checked, most definitely hasn’t shown a “willingness to cut defense and give up the empire.”  Not even the majority of “American people,” whom Maher pointed out, share many of the exact same views he attributed to the “Tea Baggers.”

None of those people are racist sore losers.  Only the “Tea Baggers.”

This is exactly how false realities are created by the corporate media.

This is how the status quo is protected.

It’s enough to make you chew your own fucking leg off.

Carl Levin’s s-bombs and his vote on Gramm-Leach-Bliley

Everybody’s talking about the multiple s-bombs dropped by Carl Levin yesterday during his public shaming of Goldman Sachs for, you know, sort of ruining the world’s economy, while facilitating a wealth transfer to the rich and powerful the likes of which hadn’t been seen in all of recorded history.

I was in the process of explaining my point of view to a friend (who’s no slouch, herself), that this type of hollow theatrics is dangerous because it serves to satisfy the public’s bloodlust, while simultaneously doing absolutely nothing of substance to solve the underlying problem, which in this case, is the government deregulation that allowed Goldman’s shenanigans in the first place.

It was at this point, that I began to search for Carl Levin’s vote on the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley act, which repealed the depression era Glass-Steagall act, which had admirably served since 1933 to prevent banks from acting like fucking casinos.  In my search for this confirmation, I discovered that, of course, Levin voted FOR the deregulation, and I also ran across this piece from Tyler Durden on Zero Hedge, where he makes the exact same point.

So, yeah, here you go…

And While We Are Discussing Corruption… Perhaps Carl Levin Can Disclose His Yea Vote For Gramm-Leach-Bliley (S.900)

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/27/2010 17:52 -0500

Does Goldman deserve the theatrical roasting it has been subjected to all day? Of course. Will anything come out of it? Not too likely, especially with our president, who made a whirlwind global tour on the Volcker Rule, and now is aggressively backtracking behind the shadow of his teleprompter (or at least until the next Massachussettes emerges, and the next, and the next). Yet in order to keep a fair and balanced perspective on things, it may behoove those watching Carl Levin’s sanctimonious monologues to realize that the November 4, 1999 vote on S. 900, better known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, received Senator Levin’s full endorsement. If Goldman is the pure, unadulterated evil it is today, it is so only because of idiotic Senators who were corrupt, or stupid enough, or both, to let GLB pass when it did, and usher in the era of unbridled prop trading/hedge funding by banks with full access to the discount window and taxpayer bailouts.

Any attempt at fixing Goldman must begin with reinstating Glass-Steagal – period. Anything and everything else is smoke and mirrors. Yes it will be painful (for the banks), and yes it will cost massive equity losses due to forced spin offs (for bank shareholders), but it will prevent the next scapegoating circus after the fact. How about we preempt these things from happening for once? That said, we applaud the 8 out of 100 senators who had the foresight to not sell their country’s future to the banking cabal.

Chris Hedges: The New Secessionists

From Chris Hedges‘ most recent piece:

“The only way we will ever stop these wars is when we stop paying for them,” Naylor told me. “Vermont contributes about $1.5 billion to the Pentagon’s budget. Do we want to keep supporting these wars? If not, let’s pull out. We have two objectives. The first is returning Vermont to its status as an independent republic. The second is the peaceful dissolution of the empire. I see these as being mutually complementary.”

“The U.S. government has lost its moral authority,” he went on. “It is corrupt to the core. It is owned, operated and controlled by Wall Street and corporate America. Its foreign policy is controlled by the Israeli lobby. It is unsustainable economically, socially, morally, militarily and environmentally. It is ungovernable and therefore unfixable. The question is, do you go down with the Titanic or do you seek other options?”

This is the situation that faces us. The United States government is a rogue entity that is destroying itself with massive, unsustainable debt, while running roughshod over the entire globe, and its fuel is the tacit approval of its citizens.

That means you and me.

And why do we allow it to continue?

Well, I believe that part of it is simply media-induced apathy, but I also believe that our two-party political system guarantees that no significant change can ever happen.

Here’s the way it works:

There are two teams.  One is red and one is blue.  The two teams used to stand for different ideologies, and they’ve built up tremendous brand loyalty based on those original differences.  Somewhere along the way, though, both teams figured out that their checks were all signed by the same corporate shareholders, so they all started working exclusively for those shareholders.  They still pretend to be very different from one another, and some of them even are different on a few social issues, but both sides are in lock step with the shareholders on every issue where corporate profits are at stake, like health care, and banking, and war, regardless of what the masses want.

For a while, Team Blue gets to be in power, and Team Red points at Team Blue and blames them for everything that’s wrong.  Before too long, though, the tables are turned, and Team Red takes control, at which point, Team Blue dog piles on Team Red.  This system guarantees that half of the population always feel as if they’re winning, while the other half is strung along, content in their knowledge that their time will soon come.  It also gives the illusion of choice.

The big problem with all of this, of course, is that the color is the only thing that really ever changes any more.  The corporo-militarist elite continue to gain power and wealth at the expense of the masses, regardless of which color is in control at any given moment.  Over the past twenty years, this mechanism has been utilized to perfection to almost completely destroy the American working class.  Now the middle class is squarely in the cross hairs, and neither of these two teams can be counted on to rectify the situation.  In fact, they’ve repeatedly demonstrated that they will do everything in their power to make matters worse for regular people.  This recently became even more painfully evident when the supreme court removed all restrictions on corporate campaign spending in elections.  I’m very interested to see who the first Representative from the district of Wal Mart is going to be.

How has this happened?

Well, that’s a complicated question, as there are multiple factors, but the simplest answer begins with Bill Clinton’s signing of NAFTA and the WTO in the mid-nineties. Those of you old enough to have lived through it will remember Ross Perot describing a “giant sucking sound” in his debates with Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. during the run-up to the 1992 Presidential election. The sucking sound, Perot assured us, would be produced by American jobs escaping across the border into Mexico if NAFTA was signed. Of course, it was right about this time that the corporate media circled their wagons and began painting Perot as a crackpot, because as I’ve said in this space several times before, the system will not tolerate anybody or anything that threatens the accumulation of more and more power by the corporo-militarist elite.

Watch this clip, where Perot laid out all of the problems that would result from the corporation-friendly trade agreements, including the destruction of America’s working class, the destruction of America’s production capacity, the creation of foreign sweatshops, and the promotion of pollution due to the lack of environmental controls in third-world countries.

Everything that Perot said in that clip has come true. All of it. And he wasn’t some rare genius either. He simply understood the logic of the situation, and was independent enough of the power structure to be able to talk about it. If rich, powerful MUTI-NATIONAL (and this is key) captains of industry are given the chance to increase their profits, they will take advantage of it. And they will do it at the expense of America, and its productive capacity, and its working class, and its middle class, and the global environment, and foreign worker’s rights, and in fact, just about anything.  Countries do not matter to people who control multi-national corporations.  Profits matter.  Period.

And none of these direct results of NAFTA took anybody by surprise, either. Well, at least not anybody who was paying attention. They were the extremely predictable results of legislation that blatantly favored the rights of the few over the rights of the many, and the candidate that accurately predicted all of this was immediately marginalized by the press, who instead chose to slather their appreciation on Bill Clinton, who, surprise, surprise, continued to bomb Iraq, began bombing Kosovo, and went on to not only sign NAFTA, but also to join the World Trade Organization, with very similar results. And if all of that isn’t enough, Clinton also signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed the Glass-Steagall act, which laid the groundwork for the global financial collapse that is still going on even as I type this.

Every once in a while, MSNBC allows some truth to sneak out, and it usually comes from Dylan Ratigan. This clip does a really good job of explaining exactly how Gramm-Leach-Bliley has gotten the world into the fine mess it’s in today.

Now, I really don’t mean to pick on Democrats exclusively, as I deplore both parties with equal zeal, so I will mention here that the two illegal wars of aggression, begun under false pretenses, by George W. Bush have also gone a long way towards creating our current financial situation with their accompanying world record military and intelligence budgets.  And Bush was also responsible for the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, the Military Commissions Act, and many other unconstitutional erosions of our civil liberties.

And in January of 2009, in stepped Barack Obama, who seems to be following the same script as his predecessors, with the continued illegal occupation of Iraq, a stepping up of the war in Afghanistan, the signing of the No Insurance Company left Behind Act of 2010 (the healthcare “reform” bill), trillions more in Wall Street bailouts, re-upping the Patriot Act, and the creation of an extrajudicial White House Assassination Policy that applies to anybody the President deems a “terrorist,” including American citizens.

All of which brings us back to the Chris Hedges piece that I quoted at the beginning of this post:

“The only way we will ever stop these wars is when we stop paying for them,” Naylor told me. “Vermont contributes about $1.5 billion to the Pentagon’s budget. Do we want to keep supporting these wars? If not, let’s pull out. We have two objectives. The first is returning Vermont to its status as an independent republic. The second is the peaceful dissolution of the empire. I see these as being mutually complementary.”

“The U.S. government has lost its moral authority,” he went on. “It is corrupt to the core. It is owned, operated and controlled by Wall Street and corporate America. Its foreign policy is controlled by the Israeli lobby. It is unsustainable economically, socially, morally, militarily and environmentally. It is ungovernable and therefore unfixable. The question is, do you go down with the Titanic or do you seek other options?”

Indeed.  That is the question.  And I think the answer is that we all need to seek other options, because voting Democrat or Republican at this point is like trying to get your money back from a three card Monte table by playing another round of three card Monte.  Participation in a corrupt system is NOT the way to fix a corrupt system.  Especially when the system in question has been specifically designed to keep you from fixing it, or even figuring out that it needs to be fixed in the first place.  The way I see it, we need to start thinking in new ways like the secessionist movement in the Hedges article, or at the very least, another attempt at the creation of a TRULY independent 3rd party like the one that Ross Perot almost succeeded with before the corporate media torpedoed him.  But since we now know that any truly independent 3rd party will be marginalized by the media, the first step needs to be education.  Everybody needs to understand that the corporate media is not there to educate.  It is there to misdirect, and to promote the agenda of the corporate elite who own it, while silencing and or discrediting any movement that threatens them.  Spreading THAT message was the goal of this previous post as well, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the single most important aspect of any plan to end the policies that are ruining the lives of so many Americans, while killing millions of innocents in completely unnecessary wars of aggression.

Here’s the Chris Hedges article.

The New Secessionists
Posted on Apr 26, 2010

By Chris Hedges

Acts of rebellion which promote moral and political change must be nonviolent. And one of the most potent nonviolent alternatives in the country, which defies the corporate state and calls for an end to imperial wars, is the secessionist movement bubbling up in some two dozen states including Vermont, Texas, Alaska and Hawaii. These movements do not always embrace liberal values. Most of the groups in the South champion a “neo-Confederacy” and are often exclusively male and white. Secessionists, who call for statewide referendums to secede, do not advocate the use of force. It is unclear, however, if some will turn to force if the federal structure ever denies them independence. These groups at least grasp that the old divisions between liberals and conservatives are obsolete and meaningless. They understand that corporations have carried out a coup d’état. They recognize that our permanent war economy and costly and futile imperial wars are unsustainable and they demand that we take popular action to prevent citizens from being further impoverished and robbed by Wall Street speculators and corporations. “The defining characteristic of the Second Vermont Republic is that there are two enemies, the United States government and corporate America,” Thomas Naylor, who founded Vermont’s secessionist movement, told me when I reached him by phone at his home 10 miles south of Burlington. “One owns the other one. We are not like the tea party. The underlying premise of the tea party movement is that the system is fixable.” Naylor rattles off the stark indicators of the nation’s decline, noting that the United States stands near the bottom among industrialized countries in voter turnout, last in health care, last in education and highest in homicide rates, mortality, STDs among juveniles, youth pregnancy, abortion and divorce. The nation, he notes grimly, has trillions in deficits it can never repay, is beset by staggering income disparities, has destroyed its manufacturing base and is the planet’s most egregious polluter and greediest consumer of fossil fuels. With some 40 million Americans living in poverty, tens of millions more in a category called “near poverty” and a permanent underclass trapped by a real unemployment rate of 17 percent, there is ample tinder for internal combustion. If we do not undertake a dramatic reversal soon, he asserts, the country and the global environment will implode with catastrophic consequences. The secessionist movement is gaining ground in several states, especially Texas, where elected officials increasingly have to contend with secessionist sentiments.

“Our membership has grown tremendously since the bailouts, since the tail end of the Bush administration,” said Daniel Miller, the leader of the Texas Nationalist Movement, when I spoke with him by telephone from his home in the small town of Nederland, Texas. “There is a feeling in Texas that we are being spent into oblivion. We are operating as the cash cow for the states that cannot manage their budgets. With this Congress, Texas has been squarely in their cross hairs, from cap and trade to the alien transfer and exit program. So many legislative pieces coming down the pike are offensive to people here in Texas. The sentiment for independence here is very high. The sentiment inside the Legislature and state capital is one of guarded optimism. There are scores of folks within state government who are supportive of what we are doing, although there is a need to see the public support in a more tangible way. This is why we launched our Let Texas Decide petition drive. We intend to deliver over a million signatures on the opening day of the [state legislative] session on Jan. 11, 2011.”

Miller, like Naylor, expects many in the tea party to migrate to secessionist movements once they realize that they cannot alter the structure or power of the corporate state through electoral politics. Polls in Texas show the secessionists have support from about 35 percent of the state’s population, and Vermont is not far behind.

Naylor, who taught economics at Duke University for 30 years, is, along with Kirkpatrick Sale and Donald Livingston, one of the intellectual godfathers of the secessionist movement. His writing can be found on The Second Vermont Republic website, on the website Secession News and in postings on the Middlebury Institute website. Naylor first proposed secession in his 1997 book “Downsizing the USA.” He comes out of the “small is beautiful” movement, as does Sale. Naylor lives with his wife in the Vermont village of Charlotte.

The Second Vermont Republic arose from the statewide anti-war protests in 2003. It embraces a left-wing populism that makes it unique among the national movements, which usually veer more toward Ron Paul libertarianism. The Vermont movement, like the Texas and Alaska movements, is well organized. It has a bimonthly newspaper called The Vermont Commons, which champions sustainable agriculture and energy supplies based on wind and water, and calls for locally owned banks which will open lines of credit to their communities. Dennis Steele, who is campaigning for governor as a secessionist, runs Radio Free Vermont, which gives a venue to Vermont musicians and groups as well as being a voice of the movement. Vermont, like Texas, was an independent republic, but on March 4, 1791, voted to enter the union. Supporters of the Second Vermont Republic commemorate the anniversary by holding a mock funeral procession through the state capital, Montpelier, with a casket marked “Vermont.” Secessionist candidates in Vermont are currently running for governor, lieutenant governor, eight Senate seats and two House seats.

“The movement, at its core, is anti-authoritarian,” said Sale, who works closely with Naylor and spoke with me from his home in Charleston, S.C. “It includes those who are libertarians and those who are on the anarchic community side. In traditional terms these people are left and right, but they have come very close together in their anti-authoritarianism. Left and right no longer have meaning.”

The movement correctly views the corporate state as a force that has so corrupted the economy, as well as the electoral and judicial process, that it cannot be defeated through traditional routes. It also knows that the corporate state, which looks at the natural world and human beings as commodities to be exploited until exhaustion or collapse occurs, is rapidly cannibalizing the nation and pushing the planet toward irrevocable crisis. And it argues that the corporate state can be dismantled only through radical forms of nonviolent revolt and the dissolution of the United States. As an act of revolt it has many attributes.

“The only way we will ever stop these wars is when we stop paying for them,” Naylor told me. “Vermont contributes about $1.5 billion to the Pentagon’s budget. Do we want to keep supporting these wars? If not, let’s pull out. We have two objectives. The first is returning Vermont to its status as an independent republic. The second is the peaceful dissolution of the empire. I see these as being mutually complementary.”

“The U.S. government has lost its moral authority,” he went on. “It is corrupt to the core. It is owned, operated and controlled by Wall Street and corporate America. Its foreign policy is controlled by the Israeli lobby. It is unsustainable economically, socially, morally, militarily and environmentally. It is ungovernable and therefore unfixable. The question is, do you go down with the Titanic or do you seek other options?”

The leaders of the movement concede that sentiment still outstrips organization. There has not been a large proliferation of new groups, and a few old groups have folded because of a lack of leadership and support. But they insist that an increasing number of Americans are receptive to their ideas.

“The number of groups has not grown as I hoped it would when I started having congresses,” said Sale, who addresses groups around the country. “But the number of people, of individuals, of websites and the number of libertarians who have come around has grown leaps and bounds. Many of those who were disappointed by the treatment of Ron Paul have come to the conclusion that they cannot have a Libertarian Party or a libertarian Republican. They are beginning to talk about secession.”

“Secessionists have to be very careful not to be militaristic,” Sale warned. “This cannot be won by the gun. You can be emphatic in your secessionism, but it won’t happen by carrying guns. I don’t know what the tea party people think they are going to accomplish with guns. I guess it is a statement against the federal government and the fear that Obama is about to have gun control. It appears to be an assertion of individual rights. But the tea party people have not yet understood how they are going to get their view across. They still believe they can elect people, either Republicans or declared conservatives, to office in Washington and have an effect, as if you can escape the culture of Washington and the characteristics of government that has only gotten bigger and will only continue to get bigger. Electing people to the House and Senate is not going to change the characteristics of the system.”

The most pressing problem is that the movement harbors within its ranks Southern secessionists who wrap themselves in the Confederate flag, begin their meetings singing Dixie and celebrate the slave culture of the antebellum South. Secessionist groups such as the Southern National Congress and the more radical League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a “racist hate group,” openly embrace a return to uncontested white, male power. And this aspect of the movement deeply disturbs leaders such as Naylor, Sale and Miller.

What all these movements grasp, however, is that the American empire is over. It cannot be sustained. They understand that we must disengage peacefully, learn to speak with a new humility and live with a new simplicity, or see an economic collapse that could trigger a perverted Christian fascism, a ruthless police state and internecine violence.

“There are three or four possible scenarios that will bring down the empire,” Naylor said. “One possibility is a war with Iran. Another will see the Chinese pull the plug on Treasury bills. Even if these do not happen, the infrastructure of the country is decaying. This is a slower process. And they do not have the economy fixed. It is smoke and mirrors. This is why the price of gold is so high. The economy and the inability to stop the wars will alone be enough to bring us down. There is no escape now from our imperial overstretch.”

Demonizing Iran

I don’t have much time to comment at the moment, but this is an important story by one of my favorite writers.

U.S. Media Continue Beating War Drums

Demonizing Iran

By DAVE LINDORFF

Just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal had a lead story about Israeli planning to possibly “go it alone” in an attack on Iran if the US were not to “succeed” in its diplomatic efforts to get Iran to “stop” it’s alleged attempts to develop a nuclear weapon capability.

Aside from the fact that there is no hard evidence that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb or even to refine uranium to obtain nuclear-grade material, the paper ignored one crucial point: Israel cannot “go it alone” in any strike on Iran, since its key weapons–American fighter-bombers–are supplied to it, and kept flying, thanks to the equipment and spare parts provided by the United States. Indeed the entire Israeli military machine is largely financed and armed by the US.

No Israeli military effort can go forward without the full backing of the US, and to say otherwise is to simply perpetrate a fraud on the American public, implying that Israel is an independent actor on the world stage. It is not.

Another example of media warmongering came in an interview by Terri Gross on her program “Fresh Air,” which I believe is the most widely syndicated and popular program on National Public Radio, produced here in Philadelphia at the studios of NPR affiliate WHYY.  Listening to “Fresh Air” this week, which featured an interview with New York Times war correspondent Dexter Filkins, a generally excellent reporter who distinguished himself for his reporting on the Iraq War, and particularly on the brutal US assault on the city of Fallujah, I heard Filkins refer casually to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as “America’s arch-enemy.”

Now it’s possible, and I certainly do hope it’s the case, that Filkens was being ironic here. But Terri Gross allowed this characterization of Iran’s president pass without comment.

America’s arch-enemy? Really? On what basis?

What, exactly, has Iran or Ahmadinejad done to make itself America’s arch- enemy? It has backed the same Shi’ite led government in Iraq that the US has been backing, and indeed, to the extent that Iraq has stabilized, it is largely Iran’s doing.  It provided key help to the US in the early invasion of Afghanistan and the routing of the Taliban government, which was never favored by the Iranians.

We know also that two years before the election of Ahmadinejad to the presidency, Iran made an offer to the US to recognize Israel, help broker a two-state peace solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and end Iran’s support of armed groups in the Middle East region, all in return for the US accepting Iran as what the 70-million population nation unarguably is: a legitimate power in the region. That offer was slapped down by the Bush/Cheney administration, which had as its goal not peace in Palestine or with Iran, but the occupation and control of Iraq, and perhaps ultimately a war against Iran. In fact, since the Iraq invasion, the US is known to have been financing and helping to organize a terror campaign inside Iran that has led to many deaths by bombings. If any country is acting towards the other in an aggressive and warlike fashion, it is the US, towards Iran, and not the reverse.

It needs to be said, but somehow never is in the establishment US media, whether corporate or not-for-profit, that Iran historically is not an aggressive, expansive nation (can that be said with a straight face about our own country?). Though it is, by dint of its oil reserves and its population, one of the biggest and most powerful countries in the Middle East, Iran has not invaded another country since the 18th century, and there is no indication that it plans to invade any other country now.

Even nuclear experts scoff at the notion that a nuclear Iran would initiate an attack on Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East, with an estimated 200 high-grade nuclear weapons, and a first-rate delivery system of missiles and supersonic bombers.  For Iran to launch a crude nuke at Israel would be an act of national suicide, and while individual terrorists may kill themselves, nations don’t commit suicide. They may miscalculate, with devastating consequences, but they don’t deliberately self-immolate.

None of this makes its way into the US media, which continues the drumbeat for war, whether by Israel, with US backing, or by the US, with reports that Secretary of Defense (sic) Robert Gates is presenting the president with Iran attack options, and that the White House, while “preferring a diplomatic solution” to Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions, is “keeping all options on the table.”

Most media reports refer to Iran’s “ability to produce bomb-grade uranium” within a year, without mentioning that there is no evidence that the country intends to do this (Iran insists it has no such plans). The New York Times, for instance, was reporting, incorrectly, back in 2008 that Iran had enough enriched uranium to make “one nuclear bomb.” Those reports, quoting Pentagon and CIA sources, now quote “experts” as saying that Iran could develop a bomb within three to four years, again generally failing to add that there is no evidence that Iran is trying to do that, or is even considering doing it.

And yet Iran is consistently portrayed as America’s “enemy” or even as its “arch-enemy”–a term that harks back to the Bush/Cheney claim that Iran was, along with Iraq and North Korea, part of a three-nation “Axis of Evil.”

On its face the idea that Iran is America’s arch-enemy is ludicrous. We are talking here about a third-rate country with an economy the size of Finland’s, with a third-rate military, the total budget of which, at $4.8 billion, is less than the annual replacement cost for the US military’s Chinook and Seahawk helicopter fleet, and which would be totally decimated in any all-out attack by the US.

Iran has no ability to attack the US, and even its ability to threaten US forces in Iraq or Afghanistan is severely limited, not to mention the fact that should it be foolhardy enough to initiate any such action, it would bring down the full force of the US military on its head in an instant.

Reading and watching American reporting on Iran reminds me of nothing so much as reading the Chinese state media about Taiwan when I was living in China back in the 1990s. It’s all pathetic nonsense, manufactured paranoia, and bluster.  But at least the average Chinese citizen has enough sense to recognize that she or he is being fed a lot of propaganda. Americans, all to often, seem to ready to buy the garbage they hear and read about Iran. They may not be able to show you where on the globe Iran is, or tell you anything about the country other than perhaps that it is Muslim, but they will accept, uncritically, that it is our “arch-enemy.”

Note to Filkins: If, as I hope, you were being ironic on “Fresh Air,” please understand that irony requires a modicum of sophistication on the part of the listener–something I’m not sure you can count on with Times readers or NPR listeners.

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation Into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu Jamal. He can be reached at dlindorff@mindspring.com

They (don’t) hate us for our freedom

Prof. Alfred W. McCoy has written a very important article outlining the impact of U.S. imperialism on foreign countries.   The piece goes a long way towards debunking the “they hate us for our freedom” myth that’s been shoved down our throats on a daily basis by the corporate media.

They don’t hate us for our freedom.  In fact, they hate us because we are constantly fucking with them, and by “fucking with them,” I mean toppling their governments, installing strongman dictators, stoking their illicit drug production, killing their indigenous populations, and stealing their resources, which, come to think of it, is sort of how the U.S. came into existence in the first place.

From Vietnam to Afghanistan: America and the Dictators

by Prof. Alfred W. McCoy

From Ngo Dinh Diem to Hamid Karzai

The crisis has come suddenly, almost without warning. At the far edge of American power in Asia, things are going from bad to much worse than anyone could have imagined. The insurgents are spreading fast across the countryside. Corruption is rampant. Local military forces, recipients of countless millions of dollars in U.S. aid, shirk combat and are despised by local villagers. American casualties are rising. Our soldiers seem to move in a fog through a hostile, unfamiliar terrain, with no idea of who is friend and who is foe.

After years of lavishing American aid on him, the leader of this country, our close ally, has isolated himself inside the presidential palace, becoming an inadequate partner for a failing war effort. His brother is reportedly a genuine prince of darkness, dealing in drugs, covert intrigues, and electoral manipulation. The U.S. Embassy demands reform, the ouster of his brother, the appointment of honest local officials, something, anything that will demonstrate even a scintilla of progress.

After all, nine years earlier U.S. envoys had taken a huge gamble: rescuing this president from exile and political obscurity, installing him in the palace, and ousting a legitimate monarch whose family had ruled the country for centuries. Now, he repays this political debt by taunting America.  He insists on untrammeled sovereignty and threatens to ally with our enemies if we continue to demand reforms of him. Yet Washington is so deeply identified with the counterinsurgency campaign in his country that walking away no longer seems like an option.

This scenario is obviously a description of the Obama administration’s devolving relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul this April. It is also an eerie summary of relations between the Kennedy administration and South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon nearly half a century earlier, in August 1963. If these parallels are troubling, they reveal the central paradox of American power over the past half-century in its dealings with embattled autocrats like Karzai and Diem across that vast, impoverished swath of the globe once known as the Third World.

Our Man in Kabul

With his volatile mix of dependence and independence, Hamid Karzai seems the archetype of all the autocrats Washington has backed in Asia, Africa, and Latin America since European empires began disintegrating after World War II. When the CIA mobilized Afghan warlords to topple the Taliban in October 2001, the country’s capital, Kabul, was ours for the taking — and the giving. In the midst of this chaos, Hamid Karzai, an obscure exile living in Pakistan, gathered a handful of followers and plunged into Afghanistan on a doomed CIA-supported mission to rally the tribes for revolt.  It proved a quixotic effort that required rescue by Navy SEALs who snatched him back to safety in Pakistan.

Desperate for a reliable post-invasion ally, the Bush administration engaged in what one expert has called “bribes, secret deals, and arm twisting” to install Karzai in power.  This process took place not through a democratic election in Kabul, but by lobbying foreign diplomats at a donors’ conference in Bonn, Germany, to appoint him interim president. When King Zahir Shah, a respected figure whose family had ruled Afghanistan for more than 200 years, returned to offer his services as acting head of state, the U.S. ambassador had a “showdown” with the monarch, forcing him back into exile.  In this way, Karzai’s “authority,” which came directly and almost solely from the Bush administration, remained unchecked. For his first months in office, the president had so little trust in his nominal Afghan allies that he was guarded by American security.

In the years that followed, the Karzai regime slid into an ever deepening state of corruption and incompetence, while NATO allies rushed to fill the void with their manpower and material, a de facto endorsement of the president’s low road to power. As billions in international development aid poured into Kabul, a mere trickle escaped the capital’s bottomless bureaucracy to reach impoverished villages in the countryside. In 2009, Transparency International ranked Afghanistan as the world’s second most corrupt nation, just a notch below Somalia.

As opium production soared from 185 tons in 2001 to 8,200 tons just six years later — a remarkable 53% of the country’s entire economy — drug corruption metastasized, reaching provincial governors, the police, cabinet ministers, and the president’s own brother, also his close adviser. Indeed, as a senior U.S. antinarcotics official assigned to Afghanistan described the situation in 2006, “Narco corruption went to the very top of the Afghan government.”  Earlier this year, the U.N. estimated that ordinary Afghans spend $2.5 billion annually, a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product, simply to bribe the police and government officials.

Last August’s presidential elections were an apt index of the country’s progress. Karzai’s campaign team, the so-called warlord ticket, included Abdul Dostum, an Uzbek warlord who slaughtered countless prisoners in 2001; vice presidential candidate Muhammed Fahim, a former defense minister linked to drugs and human rights abuses; Sher Muhammed Akhundzada, the former governor of Helmand Province, who was caught with nine tons of drugs in his compound back in 2005; and the president’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, reputedly the reigning drug lord and family fixer in Kandahar. “The Karzai family has opium and blood on their hands,” one Western intelligence official told the New York Times during the campaign.

Desperate to capture an outright 50% majority in the first round of balloting, Karzai’s warlord coalition made use of an extraordinary array of electoral chicanery. After two months of counting and checking, the U.N.’s Electoral Complaints Commission announced in October 2009 that more than a million of his votes, 28% of his total, were fraudulent, pushing the president’s tally well below the winning margin. Calling the election a “foreseeable train wreck,” the deputy U.N. envoy Peter Galbraith said, “The fraud has handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners.”

Galbraith, however, was sacked and silenced as U.S. pressure extinguished the simmering flames of electoral protest.  The runner-up soon withdrew from the run-off election that Washington had favored as a face-saving, post-fraud compromise, and Karzai was declared the outright winner by default. In the wake of the farcical election, Karzai not surprisingly tried to stack the five-man Electoral Complaints Commission, an independent body meant to vet electoral complaints, replacing the three foreign experts with his own Afghan appointees. When the parliament rejected his proposal, Karzai lashed out with bizarre charges, accusing the U.N. of wanting a “puppet government” and blaming all the electoral fraud on “massive interference from foreigners.” In a meeting with members of parliament, he reportedly told them: “If you and the international community pressure me more, I swear that I am going to join the Taliban.”

Amid this tempest in an electoral teapot, as American reinforcements poured into Afghanistan, Washington’s escalating pressure for “reform” only served to inflame Karzai. As Air Force One headed for Kabul on March 28th, National Security Adviser James Jones bluntly told reporters aboard that, in his meeting with Karzai, President Obama would insist that he prioritize “battling corruption, taking the fight to the narco-traffickers.” It was time for the new administration in Washington, ever more deeply committed to its escalating counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan, to bring our man in Kabul back into line.

A week filled with inflammatory, angry outbursts from Karzai followed before the White House changed tack, concluding that it had no alternative to Karzai and began to retreat.  Jones now began telling reporters soothingly that, during his visit to Kabul, President Obama had been “generally impressed with the quality of the [Afghan] ministers and the seriousness with which they’re approaching their job.”

All of this might have seemed so new and bewildering in the American experience, if it weren’t actually so old.

Our Man in Saigon

The sorry history of the autocratic regime of Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon (1954-1963) offers an earlier cautionary roadmap that helps explain why Washington has so often found itself in such an impossibly contradictory position with its authoritarian allies.

Landing in Saigon in mid-1954 after years of exile in the United States and Europe, Diem had no real political base.  He could, however, count on powerful patrons in Washington, notably Democratic senators Mike Mansfield and John F. Kennedy. One of the few people to greet Diem at the airport that day was the legendary CIA operative Edward Lansdale, Washington’s master of political manipulation in Southeast Asia. Amid the chaos accompanying France’s defeat in its long, bloody Indochina War, Lansdale maneuvered brilliantly to secure Diem’s tenuous hold on power in the southern part of Vietnam.  In the meantime, U.S. diplomats sent his rival, the Emperor Bao Dai, packing for Paris. Within months, thanks to Washington’s backing, Diem won an absurd 98.2% of a rigged vote for the presidency and promptly promulgated a new constitution that ended the Vietnamese monarchy after a millennium.

Channeling all aid payments through Diem, Washington managed to destroy the last vestiges of French colonial support for any of his potential rivals in the south, while winning the president a narrow political base within the army, among civil servants, and in the minority Catholic community. Backed by a seeming cornucopia of American support, Diem proceeded to deal harshly with South Vietnam’s Buddhist sects, harassed the Viet Minh veterans of the war against the French, and resisted the implementation of rural reforms that might have won him broader support among the country’s peasant population.

When the U.S. Embassy pressed for reforms, he simply stalled, convinced that Washington, having already invested so much of its prestige in his regime, would be unable to withhold support. Like Karzai in Kabul, Diem’s ultimate weapon was his weakness — the threat that his government, shaky as it was, might simply collapse if pushed too hard.

In the end, the Americans invariably backed down, sacrificing any hope of real change in order to maintain the ongoing war effort against the local Viet Cong rebels and their North Vietnamese backers. As rebellion and dissent rose in the south, Washington ratcheted up its military aid to battle the communists, inadvertently giving Diem more weapons to wield against his own people, communist and non-communist alike.

Working through his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu — and this should have an eerie resonance today — the Diems took control of Saigon’s drug racket, pocketing significant profits as they built up a nexus of secret police, prisons, and concentration camps to deal with suspected dissidents. At the time of Diem’s downfall in 1963, there were some 50,000 prisoners in his gulag.

Nonetheless, from 1960 to 1963, the regime only weakened as resistance sparked repression and repression redoubled resistance.  Soon South Vietnam was wracked by Buddhist riots in the cities and a spreading Communist revolution in the countryside. Moving after dark, Viet Cong guerrillas slowly began to encircle Saigon, assassinating Diem’s unpopular village headmen by the thousands.

In this three-year period, the US military mission in Saigon tried every conceivable counterinsurgency strategy.  They brought in helicopters and armored vehicles to improve conventional mobility, deployed the Green Berets for unconventional combat, built up regional militias for localized security, constructed “strategic hamlets” in order to isolate eight million peasants inside supposedly secure fortified compounds, and ratcheted up CIA assassinations of suspected Viet Cong leaders. Nothing worked. Even the best military strategy could not fix the underlying political problem. By 1963, the Viet Cong had grown from a handful of fighters into a guerrilla army that controlled more than half the countryside.

When protesting Buddhist monk Quang Duc assumed the lotus position on a Saigon street in June 1963 and held the posture while followers lit his gasoline-soaked robes which erupted in fatal flames, the Kennedy administration could no longer ignore the crisis. As Diem’s batons cracked the heads of Buddhist demonstrators and Nhu’s wife applauded what she called “monk barbecues,” Washington began to officially protest the ruthless repression. Instead of responding, Diem (shades of Karzai) began working through his brother Nhu to open negotiations with the communists in Hanoi, signaling Washington that he was perfectly willing to betray the U.S. war effort and possibly form a coalition with North Vietnam.

In the midst of this crisis, a newly appointed American ambassador, Henry Cabot Lodge, arrived in Saigon and within days approved a plan for a CIA-backed coup to overthrow Diem. For the next few months, Lansdale’s CIA understudy Lucien Conein met regularly with Saigon’s generals to hatch an elaborate plot that was unleashed with devastating effect on November 1, 1963.

As rebel troops stormed the palace, Diem and his brother Nhu fled to a safe house in Saigon’s Chinatown. Flushed from hiding by promises of safe conduct into exile, Diem climbed aboard a military convoy for what he thought was a ride to the airport. But CIA operative Conein had vetoed the flight plans.  A military assassin intercepted the convoy, spraying Diem’s body with bullets and stabbing his bleeding corpse in a coup de grâce.

Although Ambassador Lodge hosted an embassy celebration for the rebel officers and cabled President Kennedy that Diem’s death would mean a “shorter war,” the country soon collapsed into a series of military coups and counter-coups that crippled army operations. Over the next 32 months, Saigon had nine new governments and a change of cabinet every 15 weeks — all incompetent, corrupt, and ineffective.

After spending a decade building up Diem’s regime and a day destroying it, the U.S. had seemingly irrevocably linked its own power and prestige to the Saigon government — any government. The “best and brightest” in Washington were convinced that they could not just withdraw from South Vietnam without striking a devastating blow against American “credibility.” As South Vietnam slid toward defeat in the two years following Diem’s death, the first of 540,000 U.S. combat troops began arriving, ensuring that Vietnam would be transformed from an American-backed war into an American war.

Under the circumstances, Washington searched desperately for anyone who could provide sufficient stability to prosecute the war against the communists and eventually, with palpable relief, embraced a military junta headed by General Nguyen Van Thieu. Installed and sustained in power by American aid, Thieu had no popular following and ruled through military repression, repeating the same mistakes that led to Diem’s downfall. But chastened by its experience after the assassination of Diem, the U.S. Embassy decided to ignore Thieu’s unpopularity and continue to build his army. Once Washington began to reduce its aid after 1973, Thieu found that his troops simply would not fight to defend his unpopular government. In April 1975, he carried a hoard of stolen gold into exile while his army collapsed with stunning speed, suffering one of the most devastating collapses in military history.

In pursuit of its Vietnam War effort, Washington required a Saigon government responsive to its demands, yet popular with its own peasantry, strong enough to wage a war in the villages, yet sensitive to the needs of the country’s poor villagers.  These were hopelessly contradictory political requisites. Finding that civilian regimes engaged in impossible-to-control intrigues, the U.S. ultimately settled for authoritarian military rule which, acceptable as it proved in Washington, was disdained by the Vietnamese peasantry.

Death or Exile?

So is President Karzai, like Diem, doomed to die on the streets of Kabul or will he, one day, find himself like Thieu boarding a midnight flight into exile?

History, or at least our awareness of its lessons, does change things, albeit in complex, unpredictable ways.  Today, senior U.S. envoys have Diem’s cautionary tale encoded in their diplomatic DNA, which undoubtedly precludes any literal replay of his fate. After sanctioning Diem’s assassination, Washington watched in dismay as South Vietnam plunged into chaos. So chastened was the U.S. Embassy by this dismal outcome that it backed the subsequent military regime to a fault.

A decade later, the Senate’s Church Committee uncovered other U.S. attempts at assassination-cum-regime-change in the Congo, Chile, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic that further stigmatized this option. In effect, antibodies from the disastrous CIA coup against Diem, still in Washington’s political bloodstream, reduce the possibility of any similar move against Karzai today.

Ironically, those who seek to avoid the past may be doomed to repeat it. By accepting Karzai’s massive electoral fraud and refusing to consider alternatives last August, Washington has, like it or not, put its stamp of approval on his spreading corruption and the political instability that accompanies it.  In this way, the Obama administration in its early days invited a sad denouement to its Afghan adventure, one potentially akin to Vietnam after Diem’s death.  America’s representatives in Kabul are once again hurtling down history’s highway, eyes fixed on the rear-view mirror, not the precipice that lies dead ahead.

In the experiences of both Ngo Dinh Diem and Hamid Karzai lurks a self-defeating pattern common to Washington’s alliances with dictators throughout the Third World, then and now.  Selected and often installed in office by Washington, or at least backed by massive American military aid, these client figures become desperately dependent, even as they fail to implement the sorts of reforms that might enable them to build an independent political base. Torn between pleasing their foreign patrons or their own people, they wind up pleasing neither. As opposition to their rule grows, a downward spiral of repression and corruption often ends in collapse; while, for all its power, Washington descends into frustration and despair, unable to force its allies to adopt reforms which might allow them to survive. Such a collapse is a major crisis for the White House, but often — Diem’s case is obviously an exception — little more than an airplane ride into exile for the local autocrat or dictator.

There was — and is — a fundamental structural flaw in any American alliance with these autocrats. Inherent in these unequal alliances is a peculiar dynamic that makes the eventual collapse of such American-anointed leaders almost inevitable. At the outset, Washington selects a client who seems pliant enough to do its bidding. Such a client, in turn, opts for Washington’s support not because he is strong, but precisely because he needs foreign patronage to gain and hold office.

Once installed, the client, no matter how reluctant, has little choice but to make Washington’s demands his top priority, investing his slender political resources in placating foreign envoys. Responding to an American political agenda on civil and military matters, these autocrats often fail to devote sufficient energy, attention, and resources to cultivating a following; Diem found himself isolated in his Saigon palace, while Karzai has become a “president” justly, if derisively, nicknamed “the mayor of Kabul.”  Caught between the demands of a powerful foreign patron and countervailing local needs and desires, both leaders let guerrillas capture the countryside, while struggling uncomfortably, and in the end angrily, as well as resentfully, in the foreign embrace.

Nor are such parallels limited to Afghanistan today or Vietnam almost half a century ago. Since the end of World War II, many of the sharpest crises in U.S. foreign policy have arisen from just such problematic relationships with authoritarian client regimes. As a start, it was a similarly close relationship with General Fulgencio Batista of Cuba in the 1950s which inspired the Cuban revolution.  That culminated, of course, in Fidel Castro’s rebels capturing the Cuban capital, Havana, in 1959, which in turn led the Kennedy administration into the catastrophic Bay of Pigs invasion and then the Cuban Missile Crisis.

For a full quarter-century, the U.S. played international patron to the Shah of Iran, intervening to save his regime from the threat of democracy in the early 1950s and later massively arming his police and military while making him Washington’s proxy power in the Persian Gulf. His fall in the Islamic revolution of 1979 not only removed the cornerstone of American power in this strategic region, but plunged Washington into a succession of foreign policy confrontations with Iran that have yet to end.

After a half-century as a similarly loyal client in Central America, the regime of Nicaragua’s Anastasio Somoza fell in the Sandinista revolution of 1979, creating a foreign policy problem marked by the CIA’s contra operation against the new Sandinista government and the seamy Iran-Contra scandal that roiled President Reagan’s second term.

Just last week, Washington’s anointed autocrat in Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, fled the presidential palace when his riot police, despite firing live ammunition and killing more than 80 of his citizens, failed to stop opposition protesters from taking control of the capital, Bishkek. Although his rule was brutal and corrupt, last year the Obama administration courted Bakiyev sedulously and successfully to preserve U.S. use of the old Soviet air base at Manas critical for supply flights into Afghanistan. Even as riot police were beating the opposition into submission to prepare for Bakiyev’s “landslide victory” in last July’s elections, President Obama sent him a personal letter praising his support for the Afghan war. With Washington’s imprimatur, there was nothing to stop Bakiyev’s political slide into murderous repression and his ultimate fall from power.

Why have so many American alliances with Third World dictators collapsed in such a spectacular fashion, producing divisive recriminations at home and policy disasters abroad?

During Britain’s century of dominion, its self-confident servants of empire, from viceroys in plumed hats to district officers in khaki shorts, ruled much of Africa and Asia through an imperial system of protectorates, indirect rule, and direct colonial rule. In the succeeding American “half century” of hegemony, Washington carried the burden of global power without a formal colonial system, substituting its military advisers for imperial viceroys.

In this new landscape of sovereign states that emerged after World War II, Washington has had to pursue a contradictory policy as it dealt with the leaders of nominally independent nations that were also deeply dependent on foreign economic and military aid. After identifying its own prestige with these fragile regimes, Washington usually tries to coax, chide, or threaten its allies into embracing what it considers needed reforms. Even when this counsel fails and prudence might dictate the start of a staged withdrawal, as in Saigon in 1963 and Kabul today, American envoys simply cannot let go of their unrepentant, resentful allies, as the long slide into disaster gains momentum.

With few choices between diplomatic niceties and a destabilizing coup, Washington invariably ends up defaulting to an inflexible foreign policy at the edge of paralysis that often ends with the collapse of our authoritarian allies, whether Diem in Saigon, the Shah in Tehran, or on some dismal day yet to come, Hamid Karzai in Kabul. To avoid this impending debacle, our only realistic option in Afghanistan today may well be the one we wish we had taken in Saigon back in August 1963 — a staged withdrawal of U.S. forces.


Alfred W. McCoy
is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of
The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, which probes the conjuncture of illicit narcotics and covert operations over the past 50 years. His latest book, Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, explores the influence of overseas counterinsurgency operations on the spread of internal security measures here at home.

CNN: Genuine dissent is crazy, dangerous, or both

“I think people need to start sitting down, taking a deep breath, and understanding that we’re all concerned about what’s going on in this country.  Everyone can feel it.  People are hungry, people are scared, and we need to start working together as human beings, and stop labelling and dividing.

There you have it.  The ravings of a wacky, conservative, conspiracy theorist tea bagger.

Just imagine the chaos that would ensue in this country if we all took a serious look at what’s going on and realized that we all need to work together as human beings.  And do I even have to mention how treasonous it is to suggest that we stop labeling and dividing?

If the above sentiments were taken seriously by even 50% of the population, it would most likely spell DOOM for the system as it is currently constructed.

Wait, that doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, unless, of course, you’re one of the corporo-militarist leeches who has been exploiting the current system, while profiting off of war and misery.  In that case, it IS a terrible thing. Thank goodness we have the corporate lamestream media to tell us all how crazy it is to investigate what’s going on, and to try to unite in the interests of people who are hungry and scared.

By the way, the quote at the top of the page is from Catherine Bleish, a leader of the Liberty Restoration Project.

What does the Liberty Restoration Project stand for?

Well, it’s easy enough to find out.  Here’s what the about page on their website says:

The Liberty Restoration Project is composed of a politically diverse group of concerned citizens who have decided to throw down the arbitrary barriers (such as political parties) that divide us and work together as American Citizens to improve our country, starting as locally as possible.

The Liberty Restoration Project believes the only way to facilitate positive sustainable changes to our socioeconomic, cultural, and political sphere is to empower the general public through education. We provide the citizens of our local community with relevant information through training classes, sign waves/rallies, literature distribution, video blogs, and a newsletter to name a few.  Our top priority is communicating with members of the general public as well as elected officials and candidates in a direct, face to face, environment about the Constitutional role of government.

The list of issues they are fighting for is long.  In the interest of brevity, I’m not going to list it in its entirety, but you’d be hard pressed to find any of it to be anything other than sensible.

Food Sovereignty is the idea that all people should have access to a dependable and nutritious supply of nourishment close to where they live.  This is the foundation on which a healthy and productive society is formed. Today we suffer from a corporate controlled food industry with ties to the military-industrial complex. Small family farms cannot compete with the government-subsidized mega-corporations who have industrialized the very things which give us life.

The presence of troops in 120 Countries around the globe is unsustainable and should be reevaluated in light of realistic security concerns. We also call upon our fellow citizens to join us in helping our veterans by strongly encouraging State Representatives to provide much needed medical help and assistance.

ANY legislation that violates the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is an assault against the civil liberties of Americans and cannot be tolerated in a nation that purports to uphold the Natural Rights of its citizens.

We oppose the power of the President to issue executive orders that have the force of law. We see this as a violation of the separation of powers that potentially allows the Executive to unilaterally “legislate” to the detriment of and without regard to the wishes of the citizenry.

We believe the “War on Drugs” is an unnecessary intervention by the Federal Government, the same as any other ill-conceived and undeclared war.  We believe that drug addiction is a medical issue and should be treated as such.

I know, I know.  Crazy stuff, right?  Especially if you agree with George W. Bush and believe that the constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper.

But it doesn’t end there.  Have you heard about this nutcase named Stewart Rhodes who founded the wack job organization called Oath Keepers?

Like the Liberty Restoration Project, the Oath Keepers have the temerity to call themselves a non-partisan association.  Can you believe that?  How the fuck are we supposed to know if they’re on our side or not if they won’t even choose a freaking side?

As their website clearly states:

The Oath Keepers are made up of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, peace officers, fire-fighters, and veterans who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic … and meant it.  We won’t “just follow orders.”

Did you catch that sly Nazi reference about following orders? VERY subversive, I know.  But not nearly as alarming as the idea that when a person swears an oath to uphold the Constitution that they should, you know, UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION.

The Oath Keepers have drafted something they call the Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey.  You can view the entire list at their site, but here are just a few of them:

We will NOT obey any order to disarm the American people.

We will NOT obey any order to conduct warrantless searches of the American people, their homes, vehicles, papers, or effects — such as warrantless house-to house searches for weapons or persons.

We will NOT obey any order to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to trial by military tribunal.

We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.

We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

Scandalous!  Simply scandalous.

But enough about the Oath Keepers.  Have you heard about Bob Shultz?  He’s been trying to explain to people for over thirty years that the Federal Reserve is a cartel of private banks, accountable to nobody, that has usurped Congress’s Constitutionally granted power to coin money and to regulate the value thereof.  He’s also been trying to inform the public that the Federal income tax was created specifically to service the debt that the United States owes to this private banking cartel, since it gave up its Constitutionally granted power to coin its own interest free currency.  After all, why do that when you can borrow money, at interest, from private banks????

But apparently, that’s all just kooky conspiracy theory.

He’s also trying to establish a Continental Congress in order to discuss our Federal government’s multiple violations of the Constitution.

Again…….kooky with a capital KOOK.

Anyone who doesn’t just grin and bear it while eating their government issued shit sandwich is insane, dangerous, or both.  Questioning authority is bad.  Just ask the Germans of the 1930’s and 40’s.

Do as you’re told by your betters.  It’s disrespectful to question your Lords and King.

Follow orders.

So anyway, now that you’ve read a little bit about these people, I’d like you to watch this CNN clip from the Anderson Vanderbilt, oops, I mean the Anderson Cooper show.  The story is titled ‘Patriots’ dangerous to government?, but the tone and dishonest smear of the piece make it absolutely clear that the question mark is merely aesthetic, and that you are supposed to be very, very afraid of these people.

So let’s analyze this clip, shall we?

CNN’s Drew Griffin introduces us to Catherine Bleish, who is described as a leader of an “anti-war, pro-community garden, extremely anti-Obama, conservative movement.”

Anti-war seems like a good thing to me, but I’m insane, so we’ll give him that one.

Pro-community garden? Well, I can’t believe that she’s walking the streets a free woman with views like that.

Extremely anti-Obama? Considering he presents no evidence to support that claim, I won’t present any evidence to refute it.

Conservative? Again, he presents no evidence of that, but her group’s web site clearly states that “the Liberty Restoration Project is composed of a politically diverse group of concerned citizens who have decided to throw down the arbitrary barriers (such as political parties) that divide us and work together as American Citizens to improve our country, starting as locally as possible.”  I’m really not sure how that can be classified as “conservative,” so I’m just going to call a liar a liar.

Moving on…

He says that “she believes that we the people are being unfairly taxed, illegally spied upon, and more and more controlled by a Federal government that’s starting to look like other governments (cut to the following book covers: “Overthrowing Fascism,” “Conscientious Objections,” “Wars of Mass Deception,” “Year of the Rat.” and “Unlimited Access, An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House”.

Unfairly taxed: See my comments above about the Federal Reserve, and think long and hard about the trillions spent on what is now continuous war.  Suddenly, taxation without representation is far more than a Schoolhouse Rock song.

Illegally spied upon: Obama has done nothing to put a stop to the warrantless wiretapping program begun under George W. Bush.

More and more controlled by a Federal government that’s starting to look like other governments? Again, he presents no evidence to back up this extremely vague claim (other than the sweeping shot of the book covers), so I really don’t think there’s a need to refute it.

Moving on…

He notes that “Bleish is not a militant, is not violent, but she is a tea partier, a patriot, and sees nothing wrong with the number of gun-toting militias in this country.”

To which she responds: “If you look around in this society, who is actually committing acts of violence right now?  Is it the people who are advocating individual gun ownership (a second amendment right, incidentally), or is it our government?”

I’ll let two wars of aggression, lasting going on nine years, a “war on drugs” that guarantees the same sort of organized crime as prohibition did, extrajudicial assassination of American citizens, and the almost daily reports of police brutality answer that question.

At this point, I’ve only gone through 1:40 of the 5 minute clip, but you’ve watched it too, and I really don’t want to be too pedantic about this.  Suffice it to say that the remainder of the clip is so chock full of the same type of misleading generalities and outright lies that CNN should be embarrassed to call itself a news organization, and Drew Griffin should be embarrassed to call himself a journalist.

It’s crystal clear to me that the purpose of this piece was to conflate genuine, justified disapproval of our government with the wingnut racism and potential for violence (gun owners, militias) that exists on the fringes of the tea party movement, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, EVERY single political movement known to man.

This is all part and parcel of the media/think tank generated echo chamber of phonyness that I touched on here, here, and especially here, where I said the following:

“The tea party movement started out as a bipartisan grass roots movement, by people for whom the multi-trillion dollar “bailouts” and Obama’s continuation of most of the Bush administration’s empire expanding policies and civil liberties destruction were the last of many straws.  I was at the first event in NYC, and it was mostly people who understood that the phrase “too big to fail” really meant socialism for the rich while screwing the poor and the middle class, which really means corporatism, which was Mussolini’s definition of fascism.

Many of them were extremely bright, well informed people who have had it with both existing parties because they understand that they are both complicit in the destruction of this country’s poor and  middle class at the expense of international corporations, while killing and maiming millions of innocent civilians in foreign countries in order to expand corporate profits and power.

The movement was quickly co-opted by the GOP though, and the corporate media jumped on the “all tea partiers are wack-job right wingers” meme because they understood that a real grass roots bipartisan movement of people who had figured out that the real game is militarist empire expansion for the sake of international corporate profits, was dangerous to their system.”

This CNN “news” story is the perfect example of the phenomenon that I described above.  Unfortunately though, it is only one of many.  Just turn on any of the corporate “news” programs and leave it on for more than 30 minutes and you’re almost certain to come across one or more propaganda hit pieces exactly like this one.  You need to either turn off your TV, or do your own research to confirm or deny what it is that they’re feeding you, because there’s always an agenda, and unless you’re a multinational banker, a politician, or a corporate bigwig, it isn’t for your benefit.  It is to misinform you in ways that allow the current system to continue raping the masses for the profit and power of the few, and understanding that is the first step towards changing it.