Monday, June 28, 2010

Is Petraeus McChrystal’s Replacement or Obama’s At This FUBAR Moment? Wikileaks Readies Another One & Israel Going Down Tubes Without Iran War?

(EXTRA: If anyone could make a contribution to my PayPal account (or otherwise - contact me for further info), it will be really, really, really appreciated as I'm in quite a pickle financially right now. I sincerely appreciate everything that my kind readers have done for me in the past financially and otherwise. Especially, otherwise, as the support group for this blog is beyond belief. Again, my heartfelt thanks. . . and now . . . back to your regular viewing.)

William Pitt speaks for me as well as for almost everyone I know. This doesn't make us glad to read this almost heartbreaking essay of lost hope that he has written for our edification and ultimate enlightenment. It's good to say this out loud every now and then, though isn't it? It's like being on one of the trains bound for the camps, but still able to say publicly that you hope it's going to change direction without being beaten up too much by the guards before it gets there. And having that foolish smile on your face (and in your heart) that all can still be made well somehow. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

I was not lured into believing the 2008 presidential election was going to mark the beginning of a sea change in American politics. I approach politics and politicians with one simple rule in mind: if I have heard of a politician, count on that politician being deeply and perhaps irredeemably compromised. In order to achieve the kind of notoriety and financing required to be successful in politics, politicians have to sign their names on a number of dotted lines that are not in any way in the best interests of the people. There are exceptions to this, of course - Sen. Paul Wellstone was one, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich is another - but for the most part, a politician who has reached the lofty heights of genuine power and influence does so by donating themselves to the crooked interests that donated to them on the way up.

President Obama is no different. He took money from BP, which is killing the Gulf as we speak. He took money from the big banks and investment houses that raped our future even as they laughed their way into massive and undeserved bonuses. He is a creature of the "defense" industry, just like every president before him going back to Truman. He is an American politician who reached the highest possible position, and I knew going in that he would be, in the main, another compromised disappointment. Better, but not by much.

I thought I was prepared for this, but a year and a half into this brave new world, I feel...I don't know exactly what. I am glad Obama is the president, I am glad McCain is not, I am glad the derangement of Republican rule has been upended, I am pleased with a number of policy initiatives that have been undertaken, and yet there are these empty spaces in my mind and heart that actually, literally, ache. A few things are better, a lot of things are worse, and most things remain exactly the same. I knew it would be like this, but still, the emptiness is there.

My role is to chronicle these times. During all the years I have done so, I have been clinging to a belief that has managed to sustain me even on the darkest of days, a belief that has always filled some of that emptiness. It is a belief I fear our president has allowed himself to forget amid the cacophony of corporate power, military mayhem and runaway greed which binds him to a familiar course that, if left unchecked, will come to be the end of us all.

This belief is simple: America is an idea. We have borders, roads, cities, farms, armies, but that is not America. The idea that is America was forged in the crucible of Europe, when kings could mandate a state religion and incarcerate or kill whoever disagreed, when rights only existed if the powerful deemed them so. The idea that is America was forged upon the premise that these things were wrong on their face, that people are endowed with rights that cannot be taken away by fiat. At no time in history had any nation premised its existence on the bedrock truth that all of us are created equal until the Founders did so in Philadelphia, and in doing so, they created a self-improving process of national growth and redemption that functions through the will of the people alone.

We are an idea, and all of us are bound to it through the ink that explains us on old pieces of parchment. We are an idea, and in that idea, we can locate our nobility, our strength, and the better angels of our nature. Too many of us, including our president and congressional representatives, have forgotten this.

Perhaps, if we remind them in strong enough terms, if we make We The People a true force for right instead of a catch-phrase, things would get better. Until then, the idea that is America will continue to wither, and the empty spaces within will endure.

I've had the idea since the beginning of the McChrystal Firing Charade that something else was probably operating in the background. After all, these guys largely agreed on outcomes. It was just the specfic paths they had some trouble navigating competently as a duo. (I want to apologize for the length of this post, but it includes many links to relevant essays on these topics, and since I've been interrupted more than several times in the days I spent compiling them, it does run very long.) My guess is that Paul Craig Roberts is closer to the truth than any of us want to acknowledge. Brrrrrr. As the guy said, is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

Is Petraeus McChrystal’s Replacement or Obama's?

By Paul Craig Roberts

June 24, 2010 Our petulant president’s ego can’t handle a general letting off steam. Neither can any of the spoiled children who comprise “our” government in DC, the capital of the “superpower.” Generals have to fight wars that civilians start, either from the incompetence of their diplomacy or the arrogance of their hubris. Generals have to get young troops killed because of the stupidity or ambition or corruption of civilian government officials. All McChrystal did was to let off steam. A real president would have realized that and let it go. Don’t get me wrong. McChrystal is a militarist, and I am pleased to see him gone. However, McChrystal didn’t restart America’s aggression against Afghanistan. The Obama moron did. People elected Obama, because they were tired of Bush’s wars based on lies. So Obama gave us a new war in Pakistan and reignited the Afghan war. No one knows what these wars are about or why the bankrupt US government is wasting vast sums of money, which it has to borrow from foreigners, in order to murder the citizenry in two countries that have never done anything to us. Just as Bush/Cheney and their criminal neocon government deceived the world that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” that threatened white people everywhere, Obama has conflated the Taliban with al Qaeda. Obama has sold the tale to white countries that unless the US determines how Afghanistan is ruled and by whom, white people are in danger of being exterminated by al Qaeda Taliban terrorists. The most telling aspect of the McChrystal-Obama contretemps is that it has caused no one in the US government, or media, to ask why the US is still killing women and children in Afghanistan after 9 years. The US government is prepared for everyone except itself to be tried at the War Crimes Tribunal. Fred Branfman writing in AlterNet on June 22 reminds us that five million Iraqis were killed, maimed, tortured and displaced by an American invasion based on lies told by the highest officials in the American government. Yet, no one has been held accountable. But Gen. McChrystal is held accountable for letting off steam. Once the Roman senate, the legislative branch, collapsed, the caesars, the executive branch, became the captives of the military. Now with Gen. Petraeus once again moved to the fore as McChrystal’s replacement in Afghanistan, we have the Obama moron elevating Petraeus to the Republican presidential nomination in the next election. Thus has Obama replaced himself with a man who will unify the military and executive branch. Associated Press writers Jennifer Loven and Anne Gearan write (June 23) about the “admired and tightly disciplined Gen. David Petraeus,” the “architect of the Iraq war turnaround,” who is “once again to take hands-on leadership of a troubled war effort.”Petraeus is an evolved form of general. He “won” in Iraq by paying protection money to the Sunnis who were effectively resisting the US occupation. Petraeus figured out that it was far cheaper and more efficient to put the Sunnis on the US military payroll and to pay them to stop fighting, which is how the war between the Sunnis and the Americans ended. To keep the Americans out of the ongoing large scale sectarian violence that continues to slaughter Iraqis, the US military was confined to remote bases. If history is a guide, the Afghans will also accept Petraeus’ protection money, and Petraeus has just enough time to buy the Afghan war before the next presidential election. The Afghans will, of course, take the money and wait us out, just as the Iraqis are doing. All of this drama is playing out despite the continuing lack of any valid reason for the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Washington idiots, trying to dictate how Iraq and Afghanistan are governed, are destroying constitutional government in the United States. In our hubris to determine how Iraq and Afghanistan are ruled, we are losing our own government.

And, of course, there's "mass spying" going on for those of us who might take offense at this further government subversion of the public will.

WikiLeaks Founder Drops 'Mass Spying' Hint

By Andrew Fowler June 24, 2010 "ABC" - WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has given his strongest indication yet about the next big leak from his whistleblower organisation.There has been rampant speculation about WikiLeaks' next revelation following its recent release of a top secret military video showing an attack in Baghdad which killed more than a dozen people, including two employees of the Reuters news agency. Bradley Manning, a US military intelligence officer based in Iraq, has been arrested on suspicion of leaking the video but it is also claimed that Manning bragged online that he had handed WikiLeaks 260,000 secret US State Department cables. In an interview with the ABC's Foreign Correspondent, Mr Assange said cryptically of WikiLeaks' current project: "I can give an analogy. If there had been mass spying that had affected many, many people and organisations and the details of that mass spying were released then that is something that would reveal that the interests of many people had been abused." He agreed it would be of the "calibre" of publishing information about the way the top secret Echelon system - the US-UK electronic spying network which eavesdrops on worldwide communications traffic - had been used. Mr Assange also confirmed that WikiLeaks has a copy of a video showing a US military bombing of a western Afghan township which killed dozens of people, including children. He noted, though, it was a very intricate case "substantially more complex" than the Iraq material WikiLeaks had released - referring to the gunship video.

European news media are reporting that Mr Assange has "surfaced from almost a month in hiding", speaking at a freedom of information seminar at the European parliament in Brussels. But during the course of the past month, Mr Assange has been talking to Foreign Correspondent for a program examining the efficacy of the WikiLeaks model."What we want to create is a system where there is guaranteed free press across the world, the entire world, that every individual in the world has the ability to publish materials that is meaningful," he said. Whistleblower speaks The program has also spoken directly to former computer hacker Adrian Lamo who blew the whistle on Bradley Manning after a boastful online discussion in which Lamo alleges the military intelligence adviser revealed himself as a significant WikiLeaks source."He proceeded to identify himself as an intelligence analyst and pose the question: What would you do if you have unprecedented access to classified data 14 hours a day seven days a week?" Mr Lamo said. "He (Manning) was firing bullets into the air without thought to consequence of where they might land or who they might hit. "WikiLeaks has built an information repository it thinks is foolproof. Instead of secret documents physically changing hands, they are anonymously sent to digital drop boxes and stored on servers around the world. Finally, they are posted on the WikiLeaks site.

During Foreign Correspondent's assignment Mr Assange had been preparing to fly to New York to meet his hero - Daniel Ellsberg - the former US military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers which amounted to a devastating expose of the Vietnam War. Instead, concerned about travelling in the US and attracting the interest of authorities, he used Skype to speak to the conference. He told the crowd: "Leaking is inherently an anti-authoritarian act. It's inherently an anarchist act."Mr Assange has been quoted as saying he feels perfectly safe in Europe, "but I have been advised by my lawyers not to travel to the US during this period". Daniel Ellsberg, named by Henry Kissinger as "the most dangerous man in America", told Foreign Correspondent that Mr Assange was "a good candidate for being the most dangerous man in the world, in the eyes of people like the one who gave me that award". "I'm sure that Assange is now regarded as one of the very most dangerous men and he should be quite proud of that."

Butler Shaffer helps us make everything that has occurred lately "McChrystal Clear." And everyone should understand by now that the much talked of "kill switch" for the internet has existed since the first Executive Security Order. It won't take any new legislation.

Making It McChrystal Clear

June 24, 2010

The war system’s response to Gen. McChrystal’s Rolling Stone interview is instructive. It is a reminder that every Memorial Day should begin by honoring the first victim of every war: truth. But as all wars are grounded in lies – the bloodier the war the more enormous the falsity of its foundation – truth becomes not only a casualty, but the enemy itself.

Whether McChrystal’s assessment was correct is not the point: it is the threat to the war racket of having insiders purporting to address the reality of war that so disturbs the state. Men of the general’s stature are expected to have greater access to evidence supporting their opinions, thus enhancing their credibility. The public acceptance of war is the default position that perpetuates its insanity. "Truth" is the input that "does not compute" within the logic of the war system, and the state undertakes every precaution – such as censorship, labeling documents and other discomforting facts as "top secret" – to silence any doubts that might be raised as to the validity of the propagandized campaign on behalf of death and destruction.

The annual ritual of gathering at the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" – is there even a body within it? – is a convenient way of reinvesting popular commitments to hazy purposes. The uncertainties and contradictions that attend the "fog of war" are more easily overlookedor ignoredwhen the fallen soldiers, themselves, can be enshrouded in the cloak of being "unknown." If the soldiers who die are unfamiliar to us – fungible nonbeings who, like ourselves, have been conditioned to serve the statehow can the rest of us be expected to cut our ways through the cloudiness?

As long as we are prepared to insist upon the protection of our ignorance; to wave our flags when the cheerleaders so direct us; and to regard war as but the expression of some imagined sense of "human nature," this evil, institutionally-profitable racket will continue unabated. The entire mess can then be synthesized into such an incoherent hodgepodge of confusing complexity that no one can be expected to make any sense of it. As in trying to unravel the causation of recessions, depressions, and other dislocations – an effort that requires a basic understanding of economic principles that most of us have learned to dismiss as the "dismal science," whose intricacies and subtleties are best left to institutional wizards and czars – Boobus can take comfort in his ignorance of the critical events in his life.

Gen. McChrystal has discovered what so many others before him learned – from Socrates to Thomas More to Gen. Smedley Butler to Sophie Scholl to Daniel Ellsberg to Seymour Hersh to untold governmental "whistleblowers" – even, more recently to Helen Thomas – that it is dangerous to speak truth not to power, but to ordinary people. The owners of the political establishment know the truth; they are fully aware of the lies they have fabricated; the deceptions they – along with their obliging media and academic supporters – have carefully manipulated into a perception of "truth."

The owners don’t want you to know what they know. Those who would dare to so inform you get labeled as "paranoid conspiracy theorists," "disgruntled former employees," "racists," or "anti-Semitic." When I am asked if I believe in "conspiracy theories" of history, I respond – in the words of the late Chris Tame – "I am not interested in conspiracy theories, but in the facts of conspiracies."

There is one voice the establishment owners have been reluctant to silence, even years after his death. Former President Eisenhower – who personified the "hero" of World War II to such a degree that both the Republican and Democratic parties wanted to nominate him – declared, in his farewell address that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." Perhaps it was his hands-on familiarity with warunlike so many war-loving lounge-generals who never heard a shot fired in anger – that left within him such a distaste for the system. But you and I are not to think such thoughts, nor to listen to those who do. We are to believe the great lie that our family members and friends died to protect us, rather than to profit the corporate-state interests who create and manage the institutionalized carnage.

The institutionalized order cannot tolerate any deviation from the mindset it has worked so hard to maintain. At least since the time of Gutenberg, it has been at war with any expressions that undermine the status quo. Because life is a constant process of response to changing environments, practices that inhibit such resiliency can only diminish life. This is why there is nothing so liberating as the free flow of information which, coupled with respect for the inviolability of property, allows people to engage in self-interested adaptations to their world.

As the political establishment continues to collapse, its war against the transformative nature of information becomes intensified. Efforts are currently being made by some politicians and governmental agencies to control the Internet; to give to the president a "kill switch" that would allow him to shut down, on his dictatorial whim, this decentralized and unrestrained engine of communication whenever he considers it necessary for the interests of national security. That Sen. Lieberman – the sponsor of such a bill – justifies the measure on the grounds that the Chinese government has such power, is indicative of just how strongly the established order feels threatened by free minds!

It is not that the existing power structure is concerned that "false" ideas, or "untrue" statements might be loosed upon society – it has long thrived on such practices – but that speakers and writers might step outside the permitted circle of opinion certified as "safe" by and for the guardians of our minds. It was not that Helen Thomas’s comments were objectionable – I, for one, criticized them on the grounds of the collectivist premise underlying them – but that she crossed the line about what free men and women are allowed to think about and discuss. In this, as in all other matters, I remain an anarchist: people should be free to control their own lives and property – including the content of their minds – as they find useful to their own ends.

Perhaps former President Eisenhower can once again be called upon to advise the Liebermans, the Hillary Clintons, the Sen. Jay Rockefellers, and others who have predilections for tyrannizing the minds of their neighbors: "Don’t join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed."

Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law. He is the author of the newly-released In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918–1938 and of Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival. His latest book is Boundaries of Order.

Tom Hayden has been a little bit too silent until now on these most pressing issues - 'xplain it to us, Tom! We're waiting . . . .
Petraeus And The Politics Of Afghanistan By Tom Hayden

June 24, 2010

President Obama may have saved his reputation as commander-in-chief by firing Stanley McChrystal today, but he deepened his Afghan quagmire by choosing David Petraeus as the replacement.

There may be immediate pressure on Congress to pass the Afghanistan war supplemental under the pretext of showing national resolve. The measure by Rep. Jim McGovern, which requires an exit strategy including a withdrawal timeline, awaits House action after the Senate killed an identical bill by Sen. Russ Feingold two weeks ago. The Feingold measure was supported by 18 senators, an initial gauge of anti-war sentiment. Support for the McGovern bill hovers around 100 House members.

Perhaps the most important thing we know about Petraeus is not that he was the author of the Iraq surge, but that he is a political general, who openly pays attention to two "clocks" - that of events on the ground and that of domestic public opinion as well. The Iraq surge strategy was meant to speed up the Iraq clock [throwing more troops into battle] while slowing the American clock [convincing elites and voters alike that the war was ending, more gradually than peace advocates wanted, but with a timetable that was opposed by the Bush-Cheney administration and neo-con believers in the Long War].

In the case of Afghanistan, Petraeus will want to speed up the Afghan clock by the summer-fall military escalation in southern Afghanistan, and, according to recent testimony, slow down the American clock - now ticking toward a July 2011 deadline to "begin" US troop withdrawals.

On a parallel diplomatic track, Petraeus will support very gradual steps toward talks with the insurgents.

There could be friction with the White House if Petraeus and his allies insist on a "conditions-based" troop withdrawal plan. Over the weekend, Rahm Emmanual emphasized in interviews that the July 2011 deadline for initial withdrawals was a firm one.

By that time most, if not all, of America's NATO allies will be withdrawing their troops and heading for an exit strategy. The multilateral cover will be gone.

Obama may well want to run for re-election in 2012 on a platform of having ended the Iraq War and begun the end of the Afghanistan one. The greatest leverage that the broad peace movement may have is the power of mass disaffection. Obama won the 2008 Democratic primaries on his promise to end the Iraq war, which Hillary Clinton had voted to authorize. In fact, Obama virtually began his campaign with an anti-war speech at a rally organized by the local anti-war coalition in Chicago.But in trying to win in Afghanistan, Obama definitely risks losing most of the peace movement and the larger bloc of peace voters. This loss of support may not be orchestrated, but be measured in disillusionment, apathy, lack of energy, volunteers and grass-roots participation in states where the election will be close.

Republicans have a political strategy of branding Afghanistan as Obama's war and blaming him for not winning. I talked with a member of Congress this week [who declined to be named] who predicted that Republicans will force the Congressional Democratic majority to vote for Afghanistan funding in the coming days, thus co-owning Obama's war, then "hammer [Obama] with it" and try to "use it as the last nail in the coffin."

That brave woman patriot, Cindy Sheehan, puts the nail in the coffin of this Afghanistan FUBAR moment. And I certainly don't think either that McChrystal f*cked up inadvertently. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Offically FUBAR
By Cindy Sheehan

"If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular," a senior adviser to head of NATO ops in Afghanistan.

General Stanley McChrystal (via Rolling Stone)

June 24, 2010 - FUBAR: Military slang for: Fu#ked Up Beyond All/Any Repair/Recognition. FUBAR also has a close military acronym: SNAFU: Situation Normal All Fu#ked Up.

FUBAR and SNAFU can be traced back to WWII — you know that war. That’s the war (the last constitutionally declared by Congress) that, along with the US Civil War, is the war that is held up as the shining example of the goodness, nay GREATNESS of the United States of America. The war where we freed the entire planet of fascism, Nazism, imperialism and made the world safe for FREEDOM (and freedom’s Siamese Twin: DEMOCRACY)!

So, if the people who were actually in the trenches were recognizing the war, even the GREAT ONE was FUBAR — then we have only gone rapidly downhill from there. Even Marine Major General Smedley Butler (War is a Racket) pointed out that the “War to end all Wars” (WWI) just led to WWII and after he passed away in 1940: Korea, Vietnam, the Balkans, the First Gulf War and now our stains in the Middle East. As a matter of fact, since WWII, we have NEVER been at peace. The SNAFU over the Rolling Stone article where Stanley is openly and disrespectfully critical of Obama, Biden, Ambassador Eikenberry and others is indicative of a few things to me:

First of all, there is a little known aspect of this developing story: McChrystal was given final approval over the version of the story that appeared in the Rolling Stone — a person that achieves the elevated status in the elite world of McChrystal’s rarely rises to the top without knowing the rules and without knowing how to play the game. And trust me, this is a “game.” Does anyone believe that this story was a surprise to anyone in the Obama regime, or to McChrystal? No, obviously it wasn’t — so why now?

Secondly — with a cataclysm off of our very shores that is further proof that our Military-Corporate Complex is not equipped to handle catastrophes — this SNAFU proves that the Military-Corporate Complex is not even equipped to handle wars.

The Empire is crumbling, and it’s crumbling even faster than I would imagine than I predicted — so I have to celebrate the news that just demonstrates how FUBAR things are in Afghanistan. Of course, the stats of civilian deaths (yeah, right - we are protecting civilians) and NATO and US troop deaths are there. There can be no disputing facts. No matter how much one wants to think that Obama is “better than Bush” or is “better than McCain” really has to look no farther than these hard-core facts.

All of this posturing and speechifying is nothing but a distraction from the fact that our economy is FUBAR, the Gulf of Mexico is FUBAR, the wars are FUBAR and Wikileaks is set to come out soon with another video of a bombing incident that killed over 100 civilians in Afghanistan and was covered up. When Obama appointed McChrystal to this job, he knew that he had already covered up the murder of Spc. Pat Tillman.

Also, on the heels of the Marjah Offensive (“bleeding ulcer” according to McChrystal), the Kandahar offensive is approaching and with June already being a deadly month, things will only get worse.

Thirdly, of course McChrystal is offering himself up as the sacrificial lamb of the FUBAR Empire. Already, I am getting Democrats emailing me and telling me that it is “wonderful” that McChrystal is resigning because he “made Obama send more troops to Afghanistan.”

Again — are you serious? Obama made gave top billing to the fact that he was going to send more troops to Afghanistan, as a campaign promise. When the “leak” came out that McChrystal wanted more troops near the end of 2009, all that did was give Obama the political space to do what he promised to do all along. “See, I didn’t really want to send more troops to a mission that was FUBAR from the beginning, but my top-ranking General in the field made me!”

“As the Iraq war winds down, Obama said, he wants to see troops redirected to Afghanistan. He said the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda was a war ‘we have to win’ and repeated his call for two more combat brigades in Afghanistan to counteract "deteriorating" conditions.” (LA Times July 16, 2008).

The problem is — and has been for decadesthe Military-Corporate Complex. However, if we want valid change, we also have to look deeper.

Five months shy of two years ago, many of you went to the polls and voted for Obama because you were from mildly disappointed to wildly angry at the Bush administration. I get that emotion — I do. But even I realized that Bush was not THE problem, but only A problem.

The real problem is the system that keeps killing our children and the children of other nations and cultures. It has been doing it from the beginning of our time and it will be doing it until our end if we don’t recognize that an Empire exists to feed on others to enrich, empower and give itself health. We cannot be a healthy society when we live in an Empire — no matter who sits on the throne.

The wars are FUBAR — the Empire is FUBAR. Even in the beginning it was a system for the elite. Now, we are not only the downtrodden, but the trodden on. Trampled on, but not defeated yet.

Peace of the Action is calling you to come to Washington DC to confront the bleeding ulcers in the Gulf and in the Middle East and Asia. We also have to confront and come to terms with the fact that we are an Empire and it will be good in the long-term if it crumbles — and we are already feeling the gross-effects of the collapse in our homes and communities — conditions in the economy and ecology will undoubtedly get far worse before they get better, but if we deal with these issues as a caring community — not as a class at war with itself — we can, and shall overcome.

Peace of the Action is also calling on all troops of good conscience to refuse to participate in these international war crimes against humanity — please don’t allow yourself to be used as a token in this elitist game of destruction and death for profit! It’s far better to pay consequences for being a conscientious objector, than to be dead at a very young age — or to kill innocent people.

If you can’t make it to DC — please donate to keep us going!

Breaking news: As I was writing this, Obama announced that he accepted McChrystal’s resignation and that General David Petraeus would be taking over. Swell — another insider of the Military-Corporate Complex. Of course, in Obama’s speech, he never even hinted that the mission was FUBAR — or that it will be re-evaluated — the Empire rolls on, just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. There is nothing “salvageable” about this disaster.

Go Cindy! And on another front . . . (yes, Lisa, stop reading now - take a break . . . then come back and read some more later if you have the time). . . (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

Things Have Never Been Worse for Israel

Ignoring the Tsunami

The superpower under whose patronage we shelter is becoming increasingly weak and increasingly distant, and the Middle East is becoming unstable.

By Ari Shavit

June 24, 2010 "Haaretz"

Things have never been better: The number of millionaires in the country soared by 43 percent between 2008 and 2009, with 2,519 new ones joining the 5,900 we already had, for a total of 8,419 Israeli millionaires.

Their total net assets rose by about 41 percent, from $30.1 billion at the end of 2008 to $42.4 billion at the end of 2009. No wonder it's impossible to find a luxury apartment to buy or to reserve a table at a top restaurant in Tel Aviv, or that tickets for "Nabucco" were so hard to get. Never was so much owned by so few Israelis.

Never has life been so good here for so wealthy an elite, as the country is poised at the brink of the abyss. Things have never been worse. The superpower under whose patronage we shelter is becoming increasingly weak and increasingly distant. As a result of these two mutually amplifying processes the Middle East is becoming unstable.

There is no one to stop Iran's rise or Turkey's growing extremism, or to provide security for the moderates in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine. The states to the east fear the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, while those to the north are building up their forces in anticipation of a nuclear Iran. And a firestorm of hatred for Israel raging throughout the world.

Israel's legitimacy as well as its deterrence are eroding. It's no wonder that the national security adviser is nostalgic for the first term of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or that the army chief of staff pines for the days when Ehud Barak was chief of staff. The geostrategic situation is grave. And we are partying on the beach while ignoring the tsunami already visible on the horizon.

Read on if you have the stomach to hear their bad news. (And ours.)

And then, of course, there are the real facts to consider. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

War Makes Us Poor
Far from rescuing the economy from recession or depression, needless conflicts drain capital from productive uses.

By David R. Henderson

June 24, 2010 "The American Conservative"

Many people who aren’t comfortable with the U.S. invading other countries reassure themselves with the belief that at least war creates jobs for Americans. But is military conflict really good for the economy of the country that engages in it? Basic economics answers a resounding “no.”

In a 1953 speech, President Dwight Eisenhower noted, “The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.”

His point, quite simply: money not spent on the military could be spent elsewhere.

This also applies to human resources. The more than 200,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan could be doing something valuable at home.

Why is this hard to understand? The first reason is a point 19th-century French economic journalist Frederic Bastiat made in his essay, “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” Everyone can see that soldiers are employed. But we cannot see the jobs and the other creative pursuits they could be engaged in were they not in the military.

The second reason is that when economic times are tough and unemployment is high, it’s easy to assume that other jobs could not exist. But they can. This gets to an argument Bastiat made in discussing demobilization of French soldiers after Napoleon’s downfall. He pointed out that when government cuts the size of the military, it frees up not only manpower but also money. The money that would have gone to pay soldiers can instead be used to hire them as civilian workers. That can happen in three ways, either individually or in combination: (1) a tax cut; (2) a reduction in the deficit; or (3) an increase in other government spending.

If taxes are cut, more money remains in the hands of taxpayers, who can use it to hire the people who were previously soldiers. If taxes aren’t cut but the deficit is, then the government doesn’t need to borrow as much. The money that the government would have borrowed is now available to hire these former soldiers. Finally, if neither taxation nor the deficit is cut, government has more money to hire these former soldiers in civilian pursuits.

Of course, those who get this money will not necessarily want to spend it on what these particular former soldiers produce. But a complex chain of substitutions will take place, and the former soldiers will gradually be reemployed.

Consider the U.S. experience after World War II. Between 1945, when the war ended, and 1947, when substantial demobilization occurred, the military fell from about 11.4 million people to around 1.6 million, a drop of 9.8 million people. But the number of unemployed people increased by only 1 million, about 10 percent of those demobilized. To be sure, many women who had entered the labor force during the war to replace men who were drafted decided to return to work in the home. But the number of females in the labor force fell by only 2.4 million.

And remember that before demobilization, the military employed a whopping 17 percent of the U.S. labor force. Today, it employs less than 1 percent, if we count active-duty military, and less than 2 percent if we count active-duty plus reserves. That smaller percentage makes laid-off troops that much easier to integrate into the civilian economy today.

Read on for the encouraging facts about ending the occupations.

And if you got this far, you won't be sorry as I'm finally giving light to some of the most interesting research done on what happened on 9/11 that didn't make it into the "official" reports. Yep. It's got some doozies in there. And, no, this is about the aftereffects that we've suffered from not knowing all the facts (although the part about the timing of 9/11 does give one pause about that "mysterious/lummoxed look" in Dumbya's eyes at the time, doesn't it?).

The public has widely assumed, due to misleading claims, 59 that the names of the alleged hijackers were on the flight manifests for the four flights, and also that the autopsy report from the Pentagon contained the names of the hijackers said to have been on American Flight 77. However, the passenger manifests for the four airliners did not contain the names of any of the alleged hijackers and, moreover, they contained no Arab names whatsoever.60 Also, as a psychiatrist who was able to obtain a copy of the Pentagon autopsy report through a FOIA request discovered, it contained none of the names of the hijackers for American Flight 77 and, in fact, no Arab names whatsoever.

. . . although every other steel-frame building that has collapsed did so because explosives (perhaps along with incendiaries) were used to destroy its support columns, NIST said, in effect: “We think fire brought down WTC 7.” To understand why NIST started with this hypothesis, it helps to know that it is an agency of the Commerce Department, which means that all the years it was working on its World Trade Center reports, it was an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration. Also, a scientist who had worked for NIST reported that by 2001 it had been “fully hijacked from the scientific into the political realm,” so that scientists working there had “lost [their] scientific independence, and became little more than ‘hired guns.’”

Did 9/11 Justify the War in Afghanistan?

Using the McChrystal Moment to Raise a Forbidden Question

by Prof. David Ray Griffin

Global Research

June 25, 2010

There are many questions to ask about the war in Afghanistan. One that has been widely asked is whether it will turn out to be “Obama’s Vietnam.” This question implies another: Is this war winnable, or is it destined to be a quagmire, like Vietnam? These questions are motivated in part by the widespread agreement that the Afghan government, under Hamid Karzai, is at least as corrupt and incompetent as the government the United States tried to prop up in South Vietnam for 20 years. Although there are many similarities between these two wars, there is also a big difference: This time, there is no draft. If there were a draft, so that college students and their friends back home were being sent to Afghanistan, there would be huge demonstrations against this war on campuses all across this country. If the sons and daughters of wealthy and middle-class parents were coming home in boxes, or with permanent injuries or post-traumatic stress syndrome, this war would have surely been stopped long ago. People have often asked: Did we learn any of the “lessons of Vietnam”? The US government learned one: If you’re going to fight unpopular wars, don’t have a draft – hire mercenaries! There are many other questions that have been, and should be, asked about this war, but in this essay, I focus on only one: Did the 9/11 attacks justify the war in Afghanistan? This question has thus far been considered off-limits, not to be raised in polite company, and certainly not in the mainstream media. It has been permissible, to be sure, to ask whether the war during the past several years has been justified by those attacks so many years ago. But one has not been allowed to ask whether the original invasion was justified by the 9/11 attacks. However, what can be designated the “McChrystal Moment” – the probably brief period during which the media are again focused on the war in Afghanistan in the wake of the Rolling Stone story about General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, which led to his resignation – provides the best opportunity for some time to raise fundamental questions about this war. Various commentators have already been asking some pretty basic questions: about the effectiveness and affordability of the present “counterinsurgency strategy” and even whether American fighting forces should remain in Afghanistan at all. But I am interested in an even more fundamental question: Whether this war was ever really justified by the publicly given reason: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This question has two parts: First, did these attacks provide a legal justification for the invasion of Afghanistan? Second, if not, did they at least provide a moral justification? I. Did 9/11 Provide Legal Justification for the War in Afghanistan? Since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, international law with regard to war has been defined by the UN Charter. Measured by this standard, the US-led war in Afghanistan has been illegal from the outset. Marjorie Cohn, a well-known professor of international law, wrote in November 2001:

“[T]he bombings of Afghanistan by the United States and the United Kingdom are illegal.” In 2008, Cohn repeated this argument in an article entitled “Afghanistan: The Other Illegal War.” The point of the title was that, although it was by then widely accepted that the war in Iraq was illegal, the war in Afghanistan, in spite of the fact that many Americans did not realize it, was equally illegal. Her argument was based on the following facts: First, according to international law as codified in the UN Charter, disputes are to be brought to the UN Security Council, which alone may authorize the use of force. Without this authorization, any military activity against another country is illegal. Second, there are two exceptions: One is that, if your nation has been subjected to an armed attack by another nation, you may respond militarily in self-defense. This condition was not fulfilled by the 9/11 attacks, however, because they were not carried out by another nation: Afghanistan did not attack the United States. Indeed, the 19 men charged with the crime were not Afghans. The other exception occurs when one nation has certain knowledge that an armed attack by another nation is imminent – too imminent to bring the matter to the Security Council. The need for self-defense must be, in the generally accepted phrase, "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” Although the US government claimed that its military operations in Afghanistan were justified by the need to prevent a second attack, this need, even if real, was clearly not urgent, as shown by the fact that the Pentagon did not launch its invasion until almost a month later. US political leaders have claimed, to be sure, that the UN did authorize the US attack on Afghanistan. This claim, originally made by the Bush-Cheney administration, was repeated by President Obama in his West Point speech of December 1, 2009, in which he said: “The United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks,” so US troops went to Afghanistan “[u]nder the banner of . . . international legitimacy.” However, the language of “all necessary steps” is from UN Security Council Resolution 1368, in which the Council, taking note of its own “responsibilities under the Charter," expressed its own readiness “to take all necessary steps to respond to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.” Of course, the UN Security Council might have determined that one of these necessary steps was to authorize an attack on Afghanistan by the United States. But it did not. Resolution 1373, the only other Security Council resolution about this issue, laid out various responses, but these included matters such as freezing assets, criminalizing the support of terrorists, exchanging police information 
about terrorists, and prosecuting terrorists. The use of military force was not mentioned. The US war in Afghanistan was not authorized by the UN Security Council in 2001 or at any time since, so this war began as an illegal war and remains an illegal war today. Our government’s claim to the contrary is false. This war has been illegal, moreover, not only under international law, but also under US law. The UN Charter is a treaty, which was ratified by the United States, and, according to Article VI of the US Constitution, any treaty ratified by the United States is part of the “supreme law of the land.” The war in Afghanistan, therefore, has from the beginning been in violation of US as well as international law. It could not be more illegal. II. Did 9/11 Provide Moral Justification for the War in Afghanistan? The American public has for the most part probably been unaware of the illegality of this war, because this is not something our political leaders or our corporate media have been anxious to point out. So most people simply do not know. If they were informed, however, many Americans would be inclined to argue that, even if technically illegal, the US military effort in Afghanistan has been morally justified, or at least it was in the beginning, by the attacks of 9/11. For a summary statement of this argument, we can turn again to the West Point speech of President Obama, who has taken over the Bush-Cheney account of 9/11. Answering the question of “why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place,” Obama said:

“We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women and children without regard to their faith or race or station. . . . As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda – a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam. . . . [A]fter the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden - we sent our troops into Afghanistan.” This standard account can be summarized in terms of three points: 1. The attacks were carried out by 19 Muslim members of al-Qaeda. 2. The attacks had been authorized by the founder of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, who was in Afghanistan. 3. The US invasion of Afghanistan was necessary because the Taliban, which was in control of Afghanistan, refused to turn bin Laden over to US authorities. On the basis of these three points, our political leaders have claimed that the United States had the moral right, arising from the universal right of self-defense, to attempt to capture or kill bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network to prevent them from launching another attack on our country. The only problem with this argument is that all three points are false. I will show this by looking at these points in reverse order. 1. Did the United States Attack Afghanistan because the Taliban Refused to Turn Over Bin Laden? The claim that the Taliban refused to turn over Bin Laden has been repeatedly made by political leaders and our mainstream media. Reports from the time, however, show the truth to be very different. A. Who Refused Whom? Ten days after the 9/11 attacks, CNN reported:

“The Taliban . . . refus[ed] to hand over bin Laden without proof or evidence that he was involved in last week's attacks on the United States. . . . The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan . . . said Friday that deporting him without proof would amount to an ‘insult to Islam.’"

CNN also made clear that the Taliban’s demand for proof was not made without reason, saying:

“Bin Laden himself has already denied he had anything to do with the attacks, and Taliban officials repeatedly said he could not have been involved in the attacks.” Bush, however, “said the demands were not open to negotiation or discussion.”

With this refusal to provide any evidence of bin Laden’s responsibility, the Bush administration made it impossible for the Taliban to turn him over. As Afghan experts quoted by the Washington Post pointed out, the Taliban, in order to turn over a fellow Muslim to an “infidel” Western nation, needed a “face-saving formula.” Milton Bearden, who had been the CIA station chief in Afghanistan in the 1980s, put it this way: While the United States was demanding, “Give up bin Laden,” the Taliban were saying, “Do something to help us give him up.” But the Bush administration refused. After the bombing began in October, moreover, the Taliban tried again, offering to turn bin Laden over to a third country if the United States would stop the bombing and provide evidence of his guilt. But Bush replied: "There's no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he's guilty." An article in London’s Guardian, which reported this development, was entitled: “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand Bin Laden Over.” So it was the Bush administration, not the Taliban, that was responsible for the fact that bin Laden was not turned over. In August of 2009, President Obama, who had criticized the US invasion of Iraq as a war of choice, said of the US involvement in Afghanistan: “This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity.” But the evidence shows, as we have seen, that it, like the one in Iraq, is a war of choice. B. What Was the Motive for the Invasion? This conclusion is reinforced by reports indicating that the United States had made the decision to invade Afghanistan two months before the 9/11 attacks. At least part of the background to this decision was the United States’ long-time support for UNOCAL’s proposed pipeline, which would transport oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea region to the Indian Ocean through Afghanistan and Pakistan. This project had been stymied through the 1990s because of the civil war that had been going on in Afghanistan since the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. In the mid-1990s, the US government had supported the Taliban with the hope that its military strength would enable it to unify the country and provide a stable government, which could protect the pipeline. By the late 1990s, however, the Clinton administration had given up on the Taliban. When the Bush administration came to power, it decided to give the Taliban one last chance. During a four-day meeting in Berlin in July 2001, representatives of the Bush administration insisted that the Taliban must create a government of “national unity” by sharing power with factions friendly to the United States. The US representatives reportedly said: “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.” After the Taliban refused this offer, US officials told a former Pakistani foreign secretary that “military action against Afghanistan would go ahead . . . before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.” And, indeed, given the fact that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon occurred when they did, the US military was able to mobilize to begin its attack on Afghanistan by October 7. It appears, therefore, that the United States invaded Afghanistan for reasons far different from the official rationale, according to which we were there to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. 2. Has Good Evidence of Bin Laden’s Responsibility Been Provided? I turn now to the second point: the claim that Osama bin Laden had authorized the attacks. Even if it refused to give the Taliban evidence for this claim, the Bush administration surely – most Americans probably assume – had such evidence and provided it to those who needed it. Again, however, reports from the time indicate otherwise. A. The Bush Administration Two weeks after 9/11, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that he expected “in the near future . . . to put out . . . a document that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking [bin Laden] to this attack.” But at a joint press conference with President Bush the next morning, Powell withdrew this pledge, saying that “most of [the evidence] is classified.” Seymour Hersh, citing officials from both the CIA and the Department of Justice, said the real reason why Powell withdrew the pledge was a “lack of solid information.” B. The British Government The following week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a document to show that “Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terrorist network which he heads, planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001.” Blair’s report, however, began by saying: “This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama Bin Laden in a court of law.”22 So, the case was good enough to go to war, but not good enough to take to court. The next day, the BBC emphasized this weakness, saying: “There is no direct evidence in the public domain linking Osama Bin Laden to the 11 September attacks.” C. The FBI What about our own FBI? Its “Most Wanted Terrorist” webpage on “Usama bin Ladendoes not list 9/11 as one of the terrorist acts for which he is wanted. When asked why not, the FBI’s chief of investigative publicity replied: “because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.” D. The 9/11Commission What about the 9/11 Commission? Its entire report is based on the assumption that bin Laden was behind the attacks. However, the report’s evidence to support this premise has been disowned by the Commission’s own co-chairs, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton. This evidence consisted of testimony that had reportedly been elicited by the CIA from al-Qaeda operatives. The most important of these operatives was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – generally known simply as “KSM” – who has been called the “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks. If you read the 9/11 Commission’s account of how bin Laden planned the attacks, and then check the notes, you will find that almost every note says that the information came from KSM. In 2006, Kean and Hamilton wrote a book giving “the inside story of the 9/11 Commission,” in which they called this information untrustworthy. They had no success, they reported, in “obtaining access to star witnesses in custody . . . , most notably Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.” Besides not being allowed by the CIA to interview KSM, they were not permitted to observe his interrogation through one-way glass. They were not even allowed to talk to the interrogators. Therefore, Kean and Hamilton complained:

“We . . . had no way of evaluating the credibility of detainee information. How could we tell if someone such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed . . . was telling us the truth?”

They could not. Accordingly, neither the Bush administration, the British government, the FBI, nor the 9/11 Commission ever provided good evidence of bin Laden’s responsibility for the attacks.

(David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books on various topics, including philosophy, theology, philosophy of science, and 9/11. His 2008 book, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé, was named a “Pick of the Week” by Publishers Weekly. In September 2009, The New Statesman ranked him #41 among “The 50 People Who Matter Today.” His most recent book is The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False (2009). His next book will be Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee’s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory (September 2010).)

Much more to read here.

And, "Thanks!" for reading this far if you could make it. I shouldn't have another post this long ever again.

Suzan ____________________


Anonymous said...

The author of the first article misses the point in a couple of places:

Kucinich is now compromised, at best. I can no longer hold him up as the yardstick of comparison.

Secondly, to say that McCain would be worse than Obama is a stretch (keep in mind that I couldn't and WOULDN'T for for either of them). I know there is no difference, except skin color.

He begins the article by saying he didn't really expect any difference and that he believes they are all compromised.

Well, fucking, "duh"!

I contend there would be very little difference in a McCain presidency over Obama's. It may actually have been even more bearable since most would have expected out of him what we are currently getting.

In the case of Sotero, it is even worse, cause of all the stupid assed lemmings that still support what is easily Bush II (or III, depending if you count the old man).

Paul Craig Roberts, on the other hand, nails it. Unless there is a huge mess up by Betrayus, he will be the next reTHUGlican to run for POTUS.

And the clamoring red meat eaters will jizz themselves into a coma (if luck would help us).

Suzan said...

You know I almost agree with you, BMan, except about McCain (and I'm thinking that the way Dennis was compromised will be a big story that will make our hair stand on end eventually - although I share the upset at losing him as a singular brave political figure around whom to rally).

IMHO, with McCain (or Hillary), we'd have been bombing Iran now for over a year - selectively - to be sure because after all, the Rethugs just want to kill off the troublesome population over there (ha - is there a song in there somewhere?) and have no care at all about anyone else's safety, but I do not believe (still - attribute it to his wife's influence) Obama will be anywhere near that murder-driven.

Just my opinion, of course, although I said with those early financial appointments and then the torture decisions that he's easily Bush III.

But heck. When we heard about the Goldman Sachs moolah being thrown at his candidacy, didn't we know that then?

Thanks for commenting, sweetie.


I contend there would be very little difference in a McCain presidency over Obama's. It may actually have been even more bearable since most would have expected out of him what we are currently getting.