Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Flinty Hearts: America's Coast-to-Coast Municipal Toxic Crises

Two, Three... Many Flints: America’s Coast-to-Coast Toxic Crisis

by David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz - TomDispatch


February 9, 2016
I know if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself if my kids’ health could be at risk,” said President Obama on a recent trip to Michigan. “Up there” was Flint, a rusting industrial city in the grip of a “water crisis” brought on by a government austerity scheme. 
To save a couple of million dollars, that city switched its source of water from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a long-time industrial dumping ground for the toxic industries that had once made their home along its banks. Now, the city is enveloped in a public health emergency, with elevated levels of lead in its water supply and in the blood of its children.

The price tag for replacing the lead pipes that contaminated its drinking water, thanks to the corrosive toxins found in the Flint River, is now estimated at up to $1.5 billion. 
No one knows where that money will come from or when it will arrive. In the meantime, the cost to the children of Flint has been and will be incalculable. As little as a few specks of lead in the water children drink or in flakes of paint that come off the walls of old houses and are ingested can change the course of a life. The amount of lead dust that covers a thumbnail is enough to send a child into a coma or into convulsions leading to death. It takes less than a tenth of that amount to cause IQ loss, hearing loss, or behavioral problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the government agency responsible for tracking and protecting the nation’s health, says simply, “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.” 

Tomgram: Rosner and Markowitz, Welcome to the United States of Flint

Talk about nightmares: the children of a city, thousands of them, may have been poisoned by lead in its drinking water in a process set off by adults intent on saving a little money, who learned of the dangers and then ignored the warnings of scientists, revealed nothing to the public about the risks to their health, insisted on the water’s safety, and in some cases suppressed information about its actual state. As anyone who has picked up a paper or turned on the TV news in recent weeks knows, this is a basic description of the ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan, in which “austerity” economics dictated that a city switch to extremely corrosive water that often came out of the tap discolored, and sometimes left those who bathed in it with severe rashes. You undoubtedly also know that an anti-corrosive agent which might have prevented most of the corrosion in the city’s water pipes, and so the lead poisoning of untold numbers of its residents, was skipped at a savings of approximately $100 a day. And lest you think that any lessons have been learned, Republicans in Congress, eager (like Michigan Governor Rick Snyder) to save a few bucks at whatever cost to the health of people they could care less about, refuse to fund a fix to the problem. As Reuters reported recently, “Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, said aid to Flint must not add to U.S. budget deficits for 'what is a local and state problem.'"

And while we’re on the topic, the activist group Progress Michigan uncovered a revealing document from Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. By January 2015, 10 months before the administration of Governor Snyder admitted that Flint’s water was unsafe to drink, the state had already begun trucking water into that city and setting up water coolers next to drinking fountains in state buildings “so that state workers could choose to continue to drink Flint water or a safe alternative.”

In such a grim situation, is there a ray of hope to be found? Let me suggest one in a group of workers who may feel austerity-bound in their own lives but haven’t let that affect their sense of generosity to their fellow human beings. For months, from across Michigan, union plumbers by the hundreds have been driving to Flint and volunteering their time and skills to install filters and faucets that will help get at least some of the lead out of the water flowing into people’s homes. Unfortunately, they can’t replace the corroded pipes in the city’s water system on a volunteer basis.

Today, TomDispatch has called on two of this country’s top experts on the corrosive effects of lead on human health and on the ways in which corporations have profited from the use of lead while covering up its effects. David Rosner -- the first guest author ever to pen a TomDispatch piece back in December 2002 -- and Gerald Markowitz, authors of Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children, survey the situation not just in Flint, but nationally when it comes to ways in which Americans, particularly our children, are being poisoned by lead. Without a doubt, it’s the story from hell. Tom 

 

Two, Three... Many Flints: 

America’s Coast-to-Coast Toxic Crisis

by David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz


President Obama would have good reason to worry if his kids lived in Flint. But the city’s children are hardly the only ones threatened by this public health crisis. There’s a lead crisis for children in Baltimore, Maryland, Herculaneum, Missouri, Sebring, Ohio, and even the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and that’s just to begin a list. State reports suggest, for instance, that "18 cities in Pennsylvania and 11 in New Jersey may have an even higher share of children with dangerously elevated levels of lead than does Flint." Today, scientists agree that there is no safe level of lead for children and at least half of American children have some of this neurotoxin in their blood. The CDC is especially concerned about the more than 500,000 American children who have substantial amounts of lead in their bodies. Over the past century, an untold number have had their IQs reduced, their school performances limited, their behaviors altered, and their neurological development undermined. From coast to coast, from the Sun Belt to the Rust Belt, children have been and continue to be imperiled by a century of industrial production, commercial gluttony, and abandonment by the local, state, and federal governments that should have protected them. Unlike in Flint, the “crisis” seldom comes to public attention. 

Two, Three... Many Flints


In Flint, the origins of the current crisis lay in the history of auto giant General Motors (GM) and its rise in the middle decades of the twentieth century to the status of the world’s largest corporation. GM’s Buick plant alone once occupied “an area almost a mile and a half long and half a mile wide,” according to the Chicago Tribune, and several Chevrolet and other GM plants literally covered the waterfront of “this automotive city.” Into the Flint River went the toxic wastes of factories large and small, which once supplied batteries, paints, solders, glass, fabrics, oils, lubricating fluids, and a multitude of other materials that made up the modern car. In these plants strung out along the banks of the Flint and Saginaw rivers and their detritus lay the origins of the present public health emergency.

The crisis that attracted President Obama’s attention is certainly horrifying, but the children of Flint have been poisoned in one way or another for at least 80 years. Three generations of those children living around Chevrolet Avenue in the old industrial heart of the city experienced an environment filled with heavy metal toxins that cause neurological conditions in them and cardiovascular problems in adults.

As Michael Moore documented in his film Roger and Me, GM abandoned Flint in a vain attempt to stave off financial disaster. Having sucked its people dry, the company ditched the city, leaving it to deal with a polluted hell without the means to do so. Like other industrial cities that have suffered this kind of abandonment, Flint’s population is majority African American and Latino, and has a disproportionate number of families living below the poverty line. Of its 100,000 residents, 65% are African American and Latino and 42% are mired in poverty.

The president should be worried about Flint’s children and local, state, and federal authorities need to fix the pipes, sewers, and water supply of the city. Technically, this is a feasible, if expensive, proposition. It’s already clear, however, that the political will is just not there even for this one community. Gina McCarthy, the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, has refused to provide Flint’s residents with even a prospective timetable for replacing their pipes and making their water safe. There is, however, a far graver problem that is even less easy to fix: the mix of racism and corporate greed that have put lead and other pollutants into millions of homes in the United States. The scores of endangered kids in Flint are just the tip of a vast, toxic iceberg. Even Baltimore, which first identified its lead poisoning epidemic in the 1930s, still faces a crisis, especially in largely African American communities, when it comes to the lead paint in its older housing stock.

Just this month, Maryland’s secretary of housing, community, and development, Kenneth C. Holt, dismissed the never-ending lead crisis in Baltimore by callously suggesting that it might all be a shuck. A mother, he said, might fake such poisoning by putting “a lead fishing weight in her child's mouth [and] then take the child in for testing.” Such a tactic, he indicated, without any kind of proof, was aimed at making landlords “liable for providing the child with [better] housing.” Unfortunately, the attitudes of Holt and Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan have proven all too typical of the ways in which America’s civic and state leaders have tended to ignore, dismiss, or simply deny the real suffering of children, especially those who are black and Latino, when it comes to lead and other toxic chemicals.

There is, in fact, a grim broader history of lead poisoning in America. It was probably the most widely dispersed environmental toxin that affected children in this country. In part, this was because, for decades during the middle of the twentieth century, it was marketed as an essential ingredient in industrial society, something without which none of us could get along comfortably. Those toxic pipes in Flint are hardly the only, or even the primary, source of danger to children left over from that era.

In the 1920s, tetraethyl lead was introduced as an additive for gasoline. It was lauded at the time as a "gift of God" by a representative of the Ethyl Corporation, a creation of GM, Standard Oil, and Dupont, the companies that invented, produced, and marketed the stuff. Despite warnings that this industrial toxin might pollute the planet, which it did, almost three-quarters of a century would pass before it was removed from gasoline in the United States. During that time, spewed out of the tailpipes of hundreds of millions of cars and trucks, it tainted the soil that children played in and was tracked onto floors that toddlers touched. Banned from use in the 1980s, it still lurks in the environment today.

Meanwhile, homes across the country were tainted by lead in quite a different way. Lead carbonate, a white powder, was mixed with linseed oil to create the paint that was used in the nation’s homes, hospitals, schools, and other buildings until 1978. Though its power to harm and even kill children who sucked on lead-painted windowsills, toys, cribs, and woodwork had long been known, it was only in that year that the federal government banned its use in household paints.

Hundreds of tons of the lead in paint that covered the walls of houses, apartment buildings, and workplaces across the United States remains in place almost four decades later, especially in poorer neighborhoods where millions of African American and Latino children currently live. Right now, most middle class white families feel relatively immune from the dangers of lead, although the gentrification of old neighborhoods and the renovation of old homes can still expose their children to dangerous levels of lead dust from the old paint on those walls. However, economically and politically vulnerable black and Hispanic children, many of whom inhabit dilapidated older housing, still suffer disproportionately from the devastating effects of the toxin. This is the meaning of institutional racism in action today. As with the water flowing into homes from the pipes of Flint’s water system, so the walls of its apartment complexes, not to mention those in poor neighborhoods of Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, and virtually every other older urban center in the country, continue to poison children exposed to lead-polluted dust, chips, soil, and air.

Over the course of the past century, tens of millions of children have been poisoned by lead and millions more remain in danger of it today. Add to this the risks these same children face from industrial toxins like mercury, asbestos, and polychlorinated biphenyls (better known as PCBs) and you have an ongoing recipe for a Flint-like disaster but on a national scale.

In truth, the United States has scores of “Flints” awaiting their moments. Think of them as ticking toxic time bombs -- just an austerity scheme or some official’s poor decision away from a public health disaster. Given this, it’s remarkable, even in the wake of Flint, how little attention or publicity such threats receive. Not surprisingly, then, there seems to be virtually no political will to ensure that future generations of children will not suffer the same fate as those in Flint.

The Future of America’s Toxic Past


A series of decisions by state and local officials turned Flint’s chronic post-industrial crisis into a total public health disaster. If clueless, corrupt, or heartless government officials get all the blame for this (and blame they do deserve), the larger point will unfortunately be missed -- that there are many post-industrial Flints, many other hidden tragedies affecting America’s children that await their moments in the news. Treat Flint as an anomaly and you condemn families nationwide to bear the damage to their children alone, abandoned by a society unwilling to invest in cleaning up a century of industrial pollution, or even to acknowledge the injustice involved.

Flint may be years away from a solution to its current crisis, but in a few cities elsewhere in the country there is at least a modicum of hope when it comes to developing ways to begin to address this country’s poisonous past. In California, for example, 10 cities and counties, including San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Oakland, have successfully sued and won an initial judgment against three lead pigment manufacturers for $1.15 billion. That money will be invested in removing lead paint from the walls of homes in these cities. If this judgment is upheld on appeal, it would be an unprecedented and pathbreaking victory, since it would force a polluting industry to clean up the mess it created and from which it profited.

There have been other partial victories, too. In Herculaneum, Missouri, for instance, where half the children within a mile of the nation’s largest lead smelter suffered lead poisoning, jurors returned a $320 million verdict against Fluor Corporation, one of the world’s largest construction and engineering firms. That verdict is also on appeal, while the company has moved its smelter to Peru where whole new populations are undoubtedly being poisoned.

President Obama hit the nail on the head with his recent comments on Flint, but he also missed the larger point. There he was just a few dozen miles from that city’s damaged water system when he spoke in Detroit, another symbol of corporate abandonment with its own grim toxic legacy. Thousands of homes in the Motor City, the former capital of the auto industry, are still lead paint disaster areas. Perhaps it’s time to widen the canvas when it comes to the poisoning of America’s children and face the terrible human toll caused by “the American century.”

David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, TomDispatch regulars, are co-authors and co-editors of seven books and 85 articles on a variety of industrial and occupational hazards, including Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution and, most recently, Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children. Rosner is a professor of sociomedical sciences and history at Columbia University and co-director of the Center for the History of Public Health at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. Markowitz is a professor of history at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Both have been awarded a certificate of appreciation by the United States Senate through the office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who has recognized the importance of their work on lead and industrial poisoning.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2016 David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz

Meanwhile...In Gaza: Waiting for the Next Onslaught

Next Onslaught in Gaza: Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War

by Ramzy Baroud  - PalestineChronicle.com


Feb. 9, 2016

It is not true that only three wars have taken place since Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Other wars that were deemed insignificant or ‘skirmishes’ also took place. Operation Returning Echo in March 2012, for example, killed and wounded over 100 people. But since the death toll, relative to the other major onslaughts seemed trivial, it was not cited as 'war', per se.

According to this logic, so-called operations Cast Lead (2008-9), Pillar of Defense (2012) and the deadliest of them all, Protective Edge (2014) were serious enough to be included in any relevant discussion, especially when the prospective new Israeli war on Gaza is considered.

It is important to denote that most of the media, mainstream or other, adheres to Israel's designations of the war, not those of Palestinians. For example, Gazans refer to their last confrontation with Israel as the ‘Al-Furqan Battle’, a term we almost never hear repeated with reference to the war.

Observing the Israeli war discourse as the central factor in understanding the war against the Resistance surpasses that of language into other areas. The suffering in Gaza has never ceased, not since the last war, the previous one or the one before that. But only when Israel begins to mull over war as a real option, do many of us return to Gaza to discuss the various violent possibilities that lie ahead.

The problem of relegating Gaza until Israeli bombs begin to fall is part and parcel of Israeli collective thinking - government and society, alike. Gideon Levy, one of the very few sympathetic Israeli journalists in mainstream newspapers wrote about this in a recent article in Haaretz.

"The addiction to fear and the eternal wallowing in terror in Israel suddenly reminded one of the existence of the neighboring ghetto," he wrote in reference to Gaza and sounding of Israeli war drums.

"Only thus are we here reminded of Gaza. When it shoots, or at least digs ... (only then) we recall its existence. Iran dropped off the agenda. Sweden isn’t scary enough. Hezbollah is busy. So we return to Gaza."

In fact, Israel's exceedingly violent past in Gaza does not hinge on Hamas' relative control of the terribly poor and besieged place, nor is it, as per conventional wisdom, also related to Palestinian factionalism. Certainly, Hamas' strength there is hardly an incentive for Israel to leave Gaza alone, and Palestinians' pitiful factionalism rarely help the situation. However, Israel's problem is with the very idea that there is a single Palestinian entity that dares challenge Israel's dominance, and dares to resist.

Moreover, the argument that armed resistance, in particular, infuriates Israel the most is also incorrect. Violent resistance may speed up Israel's retaliation and the intensity of its violence, but as we are currently witnessing in the West Bank, no form of resistance has ever been permissible, not now, not since the Palestinian Authority was essentially contracted to control the Palestinian population, and certainly not since the start of the Israeli military occupation in 1967.

Israel wants to have complete monopoly over violence, and that is the bottom line. A quick scan of Israel's history against Palestinian Resistance in all of its forms is indicative that the Israel vs. Hamas narrative has always be reductionist, due partly to it being politically convenient for Israel, but also useful in the Palestinians’ own infighting.

Fatah, which was Palestine's largest political party until Hamas won 76 out of the legislative council’s 132 seats in the early 2006 elections, has played a major rule in constructing that misleading narrative, one that sees the past wars and the current conflict as an exclusive fight between Hamas, as political rival, and Israel.

When seven of Hamas fighters were recently killed after a tunnel collapsed - which was destroyed during the 2014 war by Israel and was being rebuilt - Fatah issued a statement that appeared on Facebook. The statement did not declare solidarity with the various resistance movements which have operated under horrendously painful circumstances and unremitting siege for years, but chastised the 'war merchants' – in reference to Hamas - who, according to Fatah, "know nothing but burying their young people in ashes."

But what other options does the Resistance in Gaza actually have?


The unity government which was agreed on by both Fatah and Hamas in the Beach Refugee Camp agreement in the summer of 2014 yielded no practical outcomes, leaving Gaza with no functioning government, and a worsening siege. That reality, for now, seals the fate of a political solution involving a unified Palestinian leadership.

Submitting to Israel is the worst possible option. If the Resistance is Gaza was to lay down its arms, Israel would attempt to recreate the post-1982 Lebanon war scenario, when they pacified their enemies using extreme violence and then entrusted their collaborating allies to rearrange the subsequent political landscape. While some Palestinians could readily offer to fill that disreputable role, the Gaza society is likely to shun them entirely.

A third scenario in which Gaza is both free and the Palestinian people’s political wishes are respected is also unlikely to materialize soon, considering the fact that Israel has no reason to submit to this option, at least for now.

This leaves the war option as the only real, tragic possibility. Israeli analyst, Amost Harel highlighted in his article, “Hamas' Desire to Increase West Bank Attacks Could Trigger New Gaza War” the reasoning behind this logic.

"To date, Israel and Palestinian Authority security forces have succeeded in scuttling most of Hamas’ schemes," he wrote, referring to his allegations that Hamas is attempting to co-opt the ongoing uprising in the West Bank.

In one of several scenarios he offered, “The first is that a successful Hamas attack in the West Bank will spur an Israeli response against the group in Gaza, which will lead the parties into a confrontation.”

In most of Israeli media analyses, there is almost total disregard for Palestinian motives, aside from some random inclination to commit acts of ‘terror.’ Of course, reality is rarely close to Israel’s self-centered version of events, as rightly pointed out by Israeli writer Gideon Levy.

After his most recent visit to Gaza, Robert Piper, UN envoy and humanitarian coordinator for the Occupied Territories, left the Strip with a grim assessment: only 859 of homes destroyed in the last war have been rebuilt. He blamed the blockade for Gaza's suffering, but also the lack of communication between the Ramallah-based government and Hamas movement in Gaza.

"There's no changes to the underlying fragility of Gaza," he told AFP, and the situation "remains on a frankly disastrous trajectory of de-development and radicalization, as far as I can tell."

Of the blockade, he said, “It is a blockade that prevents students from getting to universities to further their studies in other places. It's a blockade that prevents sick people from getting the health care that they need.”

Under these circumstance, it is difficult to imagine that another war is not looming. Israel’s strategic, political and military tactics, as it stands today, will not allow Gaza to live with a minimal degree of dignity. On the other hand, the history of Gaza’s resistance makes it impossible to imagine a scenario in which the Strip raises a white flag and awaits its allotted punishment.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books include ‘Searching Jenin’, ‘The Second Palestinian Intifada’ and his latest ‘My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story’. His website is: www.ramzybaroud.net.

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Ingmar Lee, Gearóid Ó Colmáin, Janine Bandcroft Feb. 10, 2016

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com


February 9, 2016


Last week, the Clark government announced a new policy concerning mining, logging, and the recreational use of the Great Bear Rainforest.

The so-called GBR agreement follows a pattern of inviting selected Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations and First Nations representatives into the backrooms where resource allocation decisions between industry and government are crafted.

The deal has divided environmentalists, as did the first of its kind that created what's now known as the Great Bear Rainforest, prompting praise and criticism on both the front and editorial pages.

Ingmar Lee lives along British Columbia's mid-coast, in an area the GBR encompasses. He's a long-time, BC-based environment defender whose past efforts to save the forests and watershed ecosystems of Vancouver Island include being among the few who took to the trees in the iconic Cathedral Grove, (and remaining for two years) fighting the destruction of the suburban forest for highways in Langford, scaling the BC Legislature flag pole to garner press in opposition to the Enbridge pipeline scheme, and dismantling seismic explosives in the heart of Sandhill Crane nesting grounds on Denny Island. Ingmar also created and maintains the Facebook site, 10,000 Ton Tanker, the only sustained media effort to bring attention to regular foreign oil tanker traffic within BC's supposed tanker moratorium area.

Ingmar Lee in the first half.

And; this week, Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau reiterated his government's decision to cease the country's direct participation in the bombing flat of Syria. He reassured the howling opposition, and his NATO allies, Canada's JTF2 Special Forces would compensate, its numbers in Iraq increasing by some 180 in-country members; ostensibly to aid in training Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State. The news has media pundits and spin doctors at home scrambling to make sense again of shifting tides and tales of the Syria debacle, some five years on. Meanwhile, the great tide of human misery caused by the war is shoring up in Europe in the form of a refugee crisis the scale of which has not been seen since the last century's Second World War. But is this disaster merely happenstance, the predictable result of a war gone on too long, or is there more to the exodus than meets the eye?

Gearóid Ó Colmáin is a Paris-based journalist and political analyst, whose work focuses on globalization, geopolitics and class struggle. He's a regular contributor to Global Research, Russia Today International, Press TV, Sputnik Radio France, Sputnik English, and Dissident Voice where his eleven part series, 'Coercive Engineered Migration: Zionism's War on Europe' appears.

Gearóid Ó Colmáin and examining the ramifications of a "divide and rule policy of artificial mass migrations" in Europe in the second half.


And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of good doings and otherwise planned for the streets of our town in the coming week; and beyond there too. But first, Ingmar Lee and the facts and fictions of the Great Bear Rainforest agreement.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca.  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/
G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

The Hidden War to Weaken Europe: Engineering Continental Refugee Migration

Pseudo-leftist Cognitive Policing on Race - Coercive Engineered Migration: Zionism's War on Europe (Part 7 of an 11 Part Series)

by Gearóid Ó Colmáin - Dissident Voice


February 5th, 2016


In order to fully comprehend the implications of the US/Israeli strategy of weakening Europe through a divide and rule policy of artificial mass migrations, the questions of race and demography need to be looked at more closely. For Israel is a racist nation-state. It is the world’s only nation state based on a strict interpretation of racial identity. Yet it is a state, which, through its myriad lobbies and think tanks across the world, has managed to direct US foreign policy in its interests for many decades, in spite of the fact that the US is a multiracial, multicultural federal state.

It must be noted that political correctness has rendered all rational discussions of race and identity impossible. In Germany, for example, Internet users who publish comments on Facebook, deemed by the authorities to constitute ‘anti-foreigner’ or racist sentiment, could be liable to prosecution resulting in the confiscation of their children by the state. Post something on Facebook which the German state – a state which supplies Israel with tanks and submarines — deems ‘anti-foreigner’, and you could see your children being abducted by the agencies of that state.

We have already mentioned in previous parts of this series that General Barnett’s Wikstrat is a key strategic partner of Africom, US/African Command. In US geopolitical strategy, preventing Russian/European integration also requires bringing Africa under US/Israeli control. The mass exodus from Africa to Europe is not only intended to destabilise Europe but also to keep Africa in a state of dependency and poverty, pillaging its resources, while draining the continent of many of its brightest citizens through the weaponisation of refugees. This is an age-old imperial policy of dividing and conquering African nations by fomenting religious and ethnic divisions. The United States and Israel intend to use Europe and in particular France for this purpose, while utilising the consequences of European imperialism to keep Europe weak, divided and hopelessly subservient to the Zionist Empire’s interests.

In his monumental book on Sudan, Al Bashir et Darfour la Contre Enquete, Franco-Camerounian author Charles Onana shows that human rights organisations financed by Jewish Lobbies both in France and the United States are at the forefront of covert wars against the people of Africa, where Christians, Muslims, Animists and other religious communities and ethnicities are being pitched against each other by the Mossad in order to divide and conquer the continent on behalf of corporations closely linked to the Jewish State. In order to deflect attention from Israel’s covert wars in Africa, however, ‘anti-racist’ organisations such as SOS Racisme in France and Antifa — a supposedly ‘anti-fascist’ outfit — attack genuine peace activists and anti-imperialists with calumny, defamation and sometimes physical intimidation. This has become quite apparent during recent NATO wars against Libya and Syria.’Anti-racism’ and ‘anti-fascism’ have become key words of Zionist war propaganda.

African intellectuals are, for the most part, systematically excluded from French public discourse on Africa. Only African pundits willing to toe the neo-colonialist line can expect to be invited on French TV. A similar code of exclusion prevails in French universities with the result that students of working class and predominantly émigré universities such as Paris VIII often have to endure lectures by white academics on the positive role of French colonialism in Africa as well as seminars on France’s ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’ mission on the ‘dark continent.’ This author has recorded numerous testimonies of African diaspora students who have deliberately imbibed and regurgitated neo-colonialist discourse in order to get their sociology and political science degrees.

At the same time French university campus walls are lined with posters of fake left-wing, pro-imperialist parties and organisations such as NPA and Front de Gauche, while young black intellectuals are harassed and threatened by Wahhabised Arab youth in increasingly ghettoized suburbs of French and European cities. This Salafist lumpen proletariat is increasingly opposed by white skinhead hooligans in a society descending into dystopian chaos. Resistance to imperialism has never been more difficult than in this era of total counter-revolution.

Meanwhile, the Zionist ruling class are promoting an an aggressive racial integration agenda throughout Western Europe. Television and radio discussions extolling the importance of ‘metissage’, or miscegenation abound. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is of Jewish ancestry, has said miscegenation is a matter of life and death for the survival of the French nation.

Sarkozy is married to the aristocrat Carla Bruni, whose father was Jewish. Bruni has said she is “crazy about Israel”.

Sarkozy has close links to Rabbi David Zaoui of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish movement, who believe all non-Jews are sub-human.

The founder of the Chabad Lubavitch movement Rabbi Schneerson is on record stating that the mass murder of Arab women and children is justified.

Rabbi Zaoui has praised Sarkozy for his advocacy of the deeply controversial Noahide Laws, which we will discuss in the next parts of this series.

The obsession of Europe’s Jewish elite with their Jewishness and their adherence and devotion to the racist Jewish state contrasts disturbingly with their advocacy of multiculturalism for everyone else. In fact, Arabs in Israel have been imprisoned for having sexual relations with Jewish women. Yet, the Zionist advocates of multiculturalism in Europe never mention this.

Many of the video clips posted on You Tube on Jewish supremacy come from ‘white identity’ racist groups, which prevents a lot of people from objective and rational analysis of this phenomenon. For example, one post reads ‘Jews admit to destroying the white race’. It features an interview with Barbara Lerner Spectre, the head of Paideia, a Jewish advocacy group in Sweden, who claims that multiculturalism is inevitable in Europe and that “Jews will be resented because of our leading role”. This comes from a Zionist who previously made her aliyah to Israel. So, one race is to impose multiculturalism on all other races and those races who oppose the “leading role” of that race are anti-Semitic, racists!

All of this is happening as the Jewish state, through its proxy forces, systematically attacks and destroys every functioning multi-ethnic society in the developing world. For example, Libya was a multiracial society with significant immigration from Europe. Racist rumours about Gaddafi’s ‘black mercenaries’ were used by the Zionist controlled mass media to launch a war of aggression which reduced Africa’s richest and most promising nation to rubble.

Miscegenation is becoming an obsession for France’s predominantly Jewish ruling class, that is to say miscegenation for the “gentiles”, but not, of course, for Jews. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has said that if France’s multiple races do not miscegenate, the French government will have to use more “forceful methods” to implement this social policy.

White nationalists such as David Duke and Kevin MacDonald are nostalgic for the days when White Christians ruled the world, oppressing all the other races, Jews included. These writers focus exclusively on the evils of ‘Jewish supremacy’ while ignoring the long and brutal history of White Christian supremacy.

Furthermore, there is no class analysis in this genre of anti-Zionist discourse. Instead, their followers are led to believe that the world’s problems would be solved if Jewish supremacy were defeated. But here there is no discussion of political economy. This ‘white nationalist’ discourse on Zionism ignores the material basis of class domination, the material structures that form the basis, the fons et origo for the domination of the world by Zionist bankers. In order to justify their anti-communism these authors use every Cold-War anti-communist lie from the handbook of Cold War pseudo-sovietology; lies about the Soviet Union that have long been refuted, such as the Holodomar; the Katyn Massacre; the Red Terror, the USSR’s demography and penal system, and many more.

It is astonishing to find that so many people believe communism was a Jewish conpiracy and that the current political system most resembles communism. There were certainly many Jews in the Bolshevik party and Zionism was a major problem for the USSR. But anti-communists fail to realise that Lenin and the Bolshevik party conducted a long and vigorous struggle against the Jewish Bund and Leon Trotsky for many years before the October Revolution of 1917. They also fail to realise that those Jewish conspirators they call ‘communists’ were tried and convicted by the Soviet Government from 1936-1938, for conducting a terrorist campaign in the USSR in preparation for a coup d’etat following the planned Nazi invasion. There was extensive collaboration between Zionists and Nazis. At the head of this conspiracy was Leon Trotsky. Nicolai Yezhov was the head of Soviet state security at the time. He was also a Nazi agent, who deliberately murdered thousands of innocent communists in order to turn soviet citizens against the state in preparation for a Nazi invasion.

When the Nazis finally did invade, Nazi minister of propaganda Goebbels admitted using Trotskyite propaganda in an effort to deceive Soviet workers. What anti-communists refer to as socialism is, in fact, Trotskyism. The oft-cited book by Antony Sutton Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution, claims that Trotsky was a German agent. There is much evidence for this claim. However, the author does not claim that Lenin was agent of imperialism, as there is no evidence for this claim.

Anti-Zionists who defend capitalism would do well to read Werner Sombart’s book Die Juden und das Wirtschaftsleben translated as The Jews and Modern Capitalism. Frederich Engels claimed that Sombart was the only German professor of his time who fully understood Marx’s work. Sombart argues convincingly that the Jews invented modern capitalism.

While Marx certainly had Jewish roots, Engels came from a protestant family and the latter is just as important as the former for communists. Anticommunists who propagate the lie that communism was a Jewish conspiracy clearly know next to nothing about communism and the long philosophical, non-Jewish European tradition from Saint Simon and Fourrier to Thomson and Connolly, from which communist ideology stems. In fact, communism is far more Christian than Jewish. Perhaps referring to Acts 2.44, St Ambrose once wrote:

Nature furnishes it wealth to all men in common. God beneficently has created all things that their enjoyment be common to all living beings, and that the earth become the common property of all… Only unjust usurpation has created the right of private property.

One of the slogans of the Bolsheviks upon seizing power came straight out of Thessalonians 3.10: ‘If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat’.

Marx, in his essay, “On the Jewish Question“, says that the only salvation for the Jews would be the abandonment of Judaism, which for Marx meant the ideology of usury. While Zionist intrigue did much to infiltrate the communist movement, it would be far more plausible if anti-communists were to describe the October Revolution as a Christian conspiracy, rather than a Judaic one!

However, racist theorists aside, the question of Jewish racial supremacy and the Zionist subversion of anti-racist discourse should be a matter of concern to those opposed to slavery and racism. And in this discussion the voice of non-Jews is particularly important. We are entitled to ask why Jewish supremacists such as Sarkozy, Jacques Attali and their Zionist cohorts are so enthusiastic about miscegenation for the “gentiles”, while openly practicing the opposite themselves and refusing to criticize the overtly racist ideology of the Jewish state. It behooves all non Jews, Black, White, Asian or other to ponder this question.

Richard Nikolas Coudenove-Kalergi was an Austrian-Japanese politician and philosopher of Jewish descent who is often referred to as the “founding father” of the European Union. In his book Practical Idealism, Coudenove-Kalergi predicted that a Eurasian-Negroid race would emerge in the future from the miscegenation of all the races, thereby integrating Mackinder’s “World Island” with a new Universal Race similar in appearance to the Ancient Egyptians.

It is a vision of a Homo Novus in a Brave New World but not all races will participate in this demotic evolution. Jews, in Coudenove-Kalergi’s vision, are to become a new sacerdotal, Herrenvolk ruling over this new Eurasian-Negroid race. He writes:

Instead of destroying European Jewry, Europe, against its own will, refined and educated this people into a future leader-nation through this artificial selection process. No wonder that this people, that escaped Ghetto-Prison, developed into a spiritual nobility of Europe. Therefore a gracious Providence provided Europe with a new race of nobility by the Grace of Spirit. This happened at the moment when Europe’s feudal aristocracy became dilapidated, and thanks to Jewish emancipation.

It is a vision indubitably close to that of Sweden’s aforementioned multicultural ‘leader’ Barbara Lerner Spectre.

The Coudanvoe Kalergi Prize is distributed every two years and Angela Merkel has been rewarded this prize for her services to ‘European integration.

And for those who oppose this plan to ethnically cleanse all of Europe?

General Thomas PM Barnett in his book Blueprint for Action advocates the assassination of all those who oppose Kalergi’s vision of a “multicultural” society ruled over by a Jewish nobility.

Referring specifically to resistance to this ‘New World Order,’ Barnett writes:

As we seek to shrink what remains of the Gap over the next several decades, we will rarely find societies adequately prepared- either intellectually or emotionally- for the travails that lie ahead. Instead, the elements most prepared will be those most willing to wage bloody resistance against this process: educated, worldly young men who are familiar with the future we offer and have already decided that it is corrupting beyond all reason. So yes, I do account for nonrational actors in my worldview. And when they threaten violence against the global order, I say: Kill them. (p.282)


Gearóid Ó Colmáin is a journalist and political analyst based in Paris. His work focuses on globalization, geopolitics and class struggle. He is a regular contributor to Dissident Voice, Global Research, Russia Today International, Press TV, Sputnik Radio France, Sputnik English, Al Etijah TV, Sahar TV, and has also appeared on Al Jazeera and Al Mayadeen. He writes in English, Gaelic, and French. Read other articles by Gearóid, or visit Gearóid's website.

Taking the Great Bear Piecemeal

Slicing Up The Great Bear Pie

by Dr Brian L. Horejsi, Penticton - Focus-online

I’d like to think that most British Columbians have heard of the Great Bear Rainforest—one of the most biologically productive landscapes in the world, stretching from the Yukon-Alaska-BC corner all the way south to Bute Inlet, from the interior coastal range west to the Pacific. It harbours runs of salmon in the millions, great bears and wolves, birds that nest only in ancient trees, rainfall that can reach four metres annually, and extensive forests hundreds of years old.

Remarkably, you and I—and all British Columbians—still own the Great Bear, although we are morally and ethically obligated to hold it in trust for all of Canada and the rest of the world.

Its presumed protection and management rests in Victoria with people like Premier Clark, Forests Minister Steve Thompson and an entrenched public service historically steeped in resource exploitation.

For 50 years it has been managed almost exclusively for the timber industry; a half century of insider politics have effectively left the people of BC on the outside looking in. Roughly one-tenth of the area was designated Protected Areas in the ’90s, then a series of land-resource management plans carved up the remainder for various forms of “management,” almost all it based on logging and road building.

Some of you are familiar with the fraudulent insider committee originally set up to massage public comment on the South Okanagan park plan; you have seen the offensive and absurd conditions Minister of Environment Mary Polak has set for Park designation; hunting, off-roading, grazing, helicopter intrusions, all protected. The message is “What’s left, the rest of you—the ‘crazies’ as one Liberal MLA calls engaged citizens—can have.”

Early in 2016 the “government” will hand us a Great Bear Rainforest plan conceived through the same kind of ideological scheme proposed for the Okanagan. Hand-picked enviros, regional Indian bands, commercial interests and the timber industry—annointed by government—have sliced up the Great Bear pie without having ever done an environmental impact assessment, without an open process for incorporating public scrutiny, and “free” of the best conservation science. Citizens who did submit comment saw it disappear into the maw of government who fed it to the insider participants.

The Great Bear “plan” capitulates to vested interests like all insider deals do. Scientifically sound conservation measures are disembowelled by pro-business and timber industry bias in legislation and management plans that state habitat protection is acceptable only if it can be implemented “without unduly reducing the supply of timber from British Columbia’s forests.” The Liberal government commissioned a report by MLA Mike Morris—“Improving wildlife habitat management in BC”—that rightly recognizes the timber supply protection clause “significantly lowers the threshold protecting our biodiversity” and  This…has contributed to a degradation of biodiversity.”

British Columbians want to be optimistic about 2016. We know we are entitled to a great deal more “democracy” but we’re going to have to battle for it.

Dr Brian L. Horejsi, Penticton

Hoka Hey Great Bear: Who Agrees This Is Conservation?

The Greatest Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred

by Kristin Kolb  - CounterPunch


February 9, 2016

I recently moved to Orcas, in the northwest corner of Washington state. This horse-shoe-shaped island is the largest and most mountainous of the San Juans, a haven for weirdos, rich retirees, hippies and DIY hipster farmers. It’s a strange mix of the rich and the poor, almost a fiefdom, if the rich did not mix so well with the poor. It’s confusing. The lines blur. We support each other, because we all fiercely love this place, this community, and we choose to be here at the expense of many urbane luxuries and status symbols.

About a month ago, I was walking the docks on a far corner of the island, and, as is Orcas culture, I ran into an older man, white beard, salty, typical, and waved. He looked at me and said, “You have a good spirit.”

I said, “Who are you and where are you from?”

This is the way of the Northwest Coast, once you head off I-5. It’s different from the cities, where they examine resumes and musical tastes. Here, you look at someone in the eye and ask, “Are you my people?”

We became friends. I visited his beautiful boat, the Orina. I read his book, Inside the Inside Passage, about his long trips every summer for 30 years from here to Alaska, which includes, of, course, the coast of British Columbia. And from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the border of Alaska, environmentalists renamed this huge swath of pristine land “The Great Bear Rainforest.”

I hadn’t really thought much about the Great Bear since the early 00’s, when I worked as the communications advisor on the campaign to conserve this place and, ultimately, leave it in the hands of the people who live there – the First Nations, the native people, the Indians, of the B.C. Coast. I left that campaign deflated. I saw how politics are really done. It’s not pretty. (For more about that, you can read the piece I wrote for CounterPunch, Behind the Big Green Door.)

My new friend here on Orcas, Captain Joseph, 80 years old, cranky, lover of Ed Abbey and Jim Harrison, living on his boat, practicing a curmudgeonly wise brand of Buddhism, reminded me of the beauty of the Great Bear Rainforest and how I fell deeply in love with the place, through our conversations and sharing our written stories. It was like revisiting an old love affair years later, after the wounds healed, or rather, the scars formed and faded.

Joseph took CounterPuncher Doug Peacock (Abbey’s inspiration for Hayduke in The Monkey Wrench Gang) up the coast on his boat one time. He also took many Big Green enviro groups through the Great Bear Rainforest for scientific and publicity trips.

So, about a month ago, I began to recall places like the Koeye, in Heiltsuk Territory, where I first saw wolf prints on the beach, and then a river teeming with salmon at dawn, canoeing up its waters, the mist rising.

And cruising on a zodiac into the Khutze, a steep mountain fjord where grizzlies play in the grass.

And Princess Royal Island, where I tried, and failed, to see a Spirit Bear – a genetically unique, white, black bear. (But I did see the black-bear cousins ripping out the eyes and brains of salmon swimming upstream to die.)

There are calm, small villages, in deeply beautiful settings: Klemtu and Hartley Bay and Bella Bella, homes of some of the First Nations of the Great Bear Rainforest. In Klemtu, I met a little boy fishing happily off the wet, neat boardwalk, and learned about rock art in their territory. (I also ate some awful Chinese food). In Hartley Bay, I met grandmas who made beautiful spruce root baskets in an imposing and stunning community longhouse, and marveled at contemporary shell middens. In Bella Bella, I attended a tense meeting with the tribal council among my environmentalist employers about the negotiations between government, Big Green, and big logging companies, underway, and the First Nations’ demand to have a real seat at the table, not just a word and a photo-op in a press release. (At that time, in Bella Bella, suicide was an epidemic, as was alcoholism and despair.)

I saw humpback whales breach. I ate fresh crab, just out of the trap. I met tribal elders and witnessed beautiful totem carvings. I cruised on a Heiltsuk elder’s rusty fishing boat on a crisp fall day, and he showed me his regalia, wool blankets of sea shells sewn in patterns. When I was four months pregnant, I traveled through the Great Bear Rainforest on the Maple Leaf, a gorgeous sail boat, with my environmentalist colleagues, on a big donor trip. After that, I thought my daughter would be a child of the Great Bear Rainforest, due to her experiencing whales and bears and salty sea, and deep fjords, through my body.

So it meant a lot to me, 12 years after that trip, and one month after remembering my passionate love of a place, to learn that the final Great Bear Rainforest Agreement has been signed. It only took 20 years of rapacious negotiations, hundreds of millions of dollars in fundraising, many careers vaulted into great wealth and prestige and political largesse – a lot of consultants made a lot of money, that’s for sure, and some just got fed up, like I did, and walked away from it all. Still, many, many people over the years working their asses off, on all sides – government, loggers, environmentalists, and natives. And, from what I hear, something lasting happened.

Last Monday, a week ago, Canada, First Nations of the coast, big logging companies and the big three environmental groups – Greenpeace, Forest Ethics, and the Sierra Club – announced another agreement, one of many over the years, to conserve this magnificent place. The press, if not in the USA, has saturated Canada and the UK – the Globe and Mail, the BBC, the Guardian, the CBC.

I was around for the first agreement, in 2001. And I’m hoping, 15 years later, that this agreement solidifies the promises from way back when. I read that 85 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest will be conserved, with only a mythological determination called “ecosystem-based management,” by a band of so-called scientists, to keep the saws from the trees. I still don’t know what EBM means. I tried to understand it 15 years ago, for PR purposes. Shrug.

In fact, I was surprised, no, not surprised, I was following the money, sigh, when I saw that the small web site, formerly called Vancouver Observer, now called the National Observer (surprise!), was publishing a 10-part PR series about this agreement.

And the underwriters for the series, just before the announcement? Tides Canada (the umbrella group for all Big Green organizations in British Columbia), Teck Cominco, a MINING COMPANY, and Van City, an big bank.

Wow. What impressive independent journalism.

Still, what I trust, and what I have trusted since I have moved to the coast, and immediately landed among the big negotiators of the Great, Greater, and Greatest Bear Rainforest Agreement over the years, is a group called Pacific Wild.

Pacific Wild, once called Raincoast – these were the people I trusted to keep things honest, even as I worked for others more lucrative. And, to this day, I believe them. You can get their take on the Greatest Bear Rainforest Agreement here.

Ian and Karen McAllister, friends of my friend Captain Joseph, are the real deal. True, hard-knuckled activists. They have lived and worked in this place for two decades, and they know both the lay of the land and the lay of the negotiations. They express love for this place, not just careerism.

Here’s a bit about what they say regarding this, the latest Great Bear Rainforest Agreement:

1. 85 percent of the forest is protected:

Ian says: “We need look no further than the southern-most tip of the Great Bear Rainforest, where despite the EBM (ecosystem-based management) framework that has been in place for a number of years, Timber West continues to log the last remaining old growth enclaves.”

2. Large carnivores are protected.

No, Grizzly hunting, to rich men and women who want a rug or a head, continues in the Great Bear Rainforest. As Ian says, “[T]rophy hunting – not just of grizzly bears but all large carnivores – is still allowed by provincial legislation in the Great Bear Rainforest, including in most of the newly established protected areas. First Nations are left to enforce the ban on trophy hunting with their own resources, in defiance of the province’s regulations.

I, as much as anyone who has spend even a day in the Great Bear Rainforest, wants a real solution, that protects the forest and the animals, and those who live there. I’m sad to say that I’ve been witnessing this for drama of press and ceremony and money for 15 years. I sincerely hope this leads to lasting solutions. What a drama.

In fact, I left the Great Bear Rainforest Campaign, or my place as a staff member, one night on Greenpeace’s imposing, formidable, huge Rainbow Warrior. The ship was returning south after an action in Alaska’s Tongass, stopping to refuel before a sojourn to Costa Rica.

I was three days shy of my due date, very, overwhelmingly pregnant, and despite all the entreatments of champagne and appetizers on the boat, I just waddled around looking for the heads. I climbed down that ladder in Vancouver’s harbor and immediately went into labor once I hit the pavement. Simone , my child, was born 24 hours later.

I tell my child, now, that she was born from that place. She is blessed.

That was many years ago. And still the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement remains amended, like a software update. I think: 10.1.11. or whatever.

I also think now about my recent travels in South Dakota, and the defeat of the KXL Pipeline. There are many similarities between the two fights. In B.C., Big Green poured, literally, hundreds of millions of dollars into agreement after agreement.

In South Dakota, Big Green poured millions into stopping the KXL Pipelline.

For that, they must be congratulated.

But what of the people on the ground? The people like Ian and Karen, in the Great Bear Rainforest, and for the matter, the Lakota on Rosebud who set up action camps – women like Paula Antoine, Shenna Fortner, and Leota Eastman, who made a difference, even among abject poverty and, well, for certain, there was no Rainbow Warrior with hor d’ouerves there on cold nights, in front of a fire on the plains of South Dakota.

So I turn to the Lakota, to the KXL. This, is where the true battle is being fought. Forget the money and the press. The Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, as much as I admire it, is a sale to the highest bidder. And those who live and work on the land, those like my Lakota friends on Rosebud, they deserve your support.

it’s worth the fight. for our children, for my child, so that we have a place to call wild, or at least free.

Despite my cynicism, let’s hope this is not the last damned Great Bear Rainforest Agreement. Because there is more to do. Let’s hope it does not take 20 years, and hundreds of millions of dollars, this time. Let’s hope for a spirit of community, walking on the docks, or the legislative aisles, or the conference room tables at the posh hotels, or on the road to tipis, looking each other in the eye, and saying, “You seem like good people.”

If not, as the Lakota say, “Hoka Hey.”

I’d rather do so than compromise these places I love so much. And I did not bring my child into this earth for more logging, the trophy hunting of magnificent bears, or the political career of the “Liberal” B.C. government, which, ironically is fighting for it’s life just after this “Final Agreement” was signed.

How odd.

Hoka hey indeed.

More articles by:Kristin Kolb

Monday, February 08, 2016

Please, Spare My Beautiful Mind Your Endless Election

Please Do Not Poison My Brain With The US Elections!

by Andre Vltchek - NEO


Feb. 2, 2016

I am consecutively stuffing my ears with various airline earplugs, in order not to hear the news blasted on the radio.

I am closing my eyes when the topic appears on TV, even on RT or Press TV.

I skip newspaper headlines.

I beg my friends, comrades and relatives not to bring up the subject in front of me.

I don’t want to know anything about the US Presidential elections!

It is not some sort of pose or “rebellion”; it is just an honest, powerful fear of having my brain damaged, my thoughts derailed from searching for alternative humanistic and political concepts.

I see no need to know who, from all those already pre-approved by the Regime and therefore allowed to “compete”, is going to get nominated by his or her political gang, and who will be finally mounting the saddle of that static wooden horse which is as a rule galloping nowhere, inspires no one and only jumps around crushing with its heavy murderous horseshoes everything and everyone who dares to demand true freedom.

Go and follow elections; even participate in them! If you believe in Western multi-party “democracy”, good for you! Or bad!


Decades, in fact centuries, of the terrible stagnant political scene in North America and Europe has taught you nothing? Then go for it and stick those pieces of marked paper into a carton box!

It was done for ages, that paper insertion. The same thing, when slaves were being chained and shifted from Africa to that “New World”, when hundreds of millions were exterminated by Western colonialism, when the Chinese people were brought to North America for horrible labor, and treated like animals. It was done when the first and the second generation of Europeans were annihilating almost the entire native population of North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.

The West created elections. So that the elites from within the white race, as well as the white race in general, could justify the brutality with which they have been ruling the world. They need to feel that they are fulfilling the wishes of the world, or at least of their own citizens.

The moneyed and bellicose clans always get elected; there are ways to assure it.

Several Greek philosophers protested: they were defending direct democracy, the direct “rule of the people”. They were sidelined, or silenced altogether.

*

During the previous US Presidential elections I was in Nairobi, Kenya, where my good friend, an Indian bookseller at Yaya Center, was pushing on me several Greek classics.

“Why?” I asked him.

“So you see even clearly what is happening across the Ocean.”

“And what is happening?”

He mentioned the elections. I had no clue … I had been blocking them successfully from my mind. While filming in the Democratic Republic or Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, while writing intensively about Zimbabwe, South Africa, Egypt and Somalia, I was developing an extremely clear picture of what the Empire was doing, and how it was liquidating tens of millions of innocent people. I did not need elections to understand. There was no necessity to know who is actually warming the chairs with their buts inside the White House.

I knew plenty about Obama’s Kenyan connection (I even knew, personally, his grandmother), including his father’s deadly involvement in Kenyan politics, when he was acting on behalf of the West and helping to destroy the African Left. I knew about his Indonesian stepfather, a military officer who was participating in the horrendous purges of 1965/66, right after the US-backed military coup, which killed between 2 and 3 million people.

Obama or Clinton, one Bush or another… Could someone still honestly believe that it matters who is the President?


Or is this voting and “following the elections” just some expression of extreme intellectual laziness, of the need for entertainment of the lowest grade? Is gazing at television screens and listening to the debates really so much different from just statically watching baseball or football games? If Mr. Trump or Ms. Clinton wins, it would most likely make the same difference as if the ball flew in between three poles, on the right or left side of the field.

For some people it matters. Tens of millions of fans in Europe, North and South America see their lives revolving around games. Real games or video games… It is a matter of life and death. And so are the elections, even if they are meaningless and change nothing.

*

If I submerge myself into analyses of that entertainment and propaganda farce, the real meaning of what is happening in the world would escape me.

It is simply designed that way: concentrate on games, pop and junk, as well as elections, and forget about the big picture – what the Empire is doing to our World.

I always want to ask my readers in California, New York or Texas: did something significant change in your life just because G.W. Bush ascended to the White House, or maybe Obama? Apart from those irrational and religious whispers like “Yes We Can!”

The Regime has nothing to do with those “elected leaders”; it only produces them, as it produces ISIS, or propaganda or Western supremacist feelings. They are simply screened by the system, then pitched against each other like fighting roosters, then paraded as some religious symbol with hardly any power. They are like some huge advertisement boards promoting the Western Global Dictatorship, and frankly, I hate advertisement.

And so I beg to be spared this appalling circus.

I work in the real world, where millions are dying, actually right now, at this very moment, in order to feed the West – to aliment its corporations, military and citizens.

And their screams and agony resonate in my ears every single day, every hour. I do not want victims to be muted or overpowered by some pre-chewed speeches and advertisement gigs.

Like ancient Greeks, like the Vietnamese or Chinese, like the Cubans, I don’t believe in “representative democracy”, be it in the United States, Europe, Indonesia or India.

In the past, I played that game. I played it long enough. I did not vote, but I wrote about elections.

I finally understood the limitations. I managed to get totally disgusted with the concept. “Democracy” as promoted by the West, is serving just a tiny minority, the few rotten members of the “elite”.

The rest has to serve, or suffer, or even die! Of course in the West people are free to choose which of their “leaders” will be raping Africa, the Middle East or Asia.

Who will be overthrowing the truly democratic governments in independent countries? Who will be whipping the buttocks of the patriots? Who will be looting Congo and Papua?

They can choose the face, like in some violent video game. The engine, the system behind that face (or call it a mask), is permanent. It does not change.

To understand the world, to grasp how it ticks, one has to go to the real countries, talk to real people, and discuss real issues. The answers are not in the pre-election debates. They are buried in Afghanistan, Bolivia, and Papua, Yemen and in so many devastated places.

It is essential to understand how the Empire, the monolith, really rules, loots, rapes and controls.

The color of the surface of the machine of violence, the mask that is glued over its control tower, is irrelevant. Male or female face… Who cares? Republican or Democrat? What difference does it make?

I ignore it, like others who do not believe in some primitive fairytales.

Like my comrades, I have to think about how to get us out of this filthy shit created by the Empire! For that, I cannot waste time on the US elections!

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist, he’s a creator of Vltchek’s World an a dedicated Twitter user, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
http://journal-neo.org/2016/02/06/please-do-not-poison-my-brain-with-the-us-elections-2/

Privatization Army: The Anglo-American Plot to Take Russia

Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia

by Paul Craig Roberts/Michael Hudson - CounterPunch


February 8, 2016

Two years ago, Russian officials discussed plans to privatize a group of national enterprises headed by the oil producer Rosneft, the VTB Bank, Aeroflot, and Russian Railways. The stated objective was to streamline management of these companies, and also to induce oligarchs to begin bringing their two decades of capital flight back to invest in the Russia economy. Foreign participation was sought in cases where Western technology transfer and management techniques would be likely to help the economy.

However, the Russian economic outlook deteriorated as the United States pushed Western governments to impose economic sanctions against Russia and oil prices declined. This has made the Russian economy less attractive to foreign investors. So sale of these companies will bring much lower prices today than would have been likely in 2014.

Meanwhile, the combination of a rising domestic budget deficit and balance-of-payments deficit has given Russian advocates of privatization an argument to press ahead with the sell-offs. The flaw in their logic is their neoliberal assumption that Russia cannot simply monetize its deficit, but needs to survive by selling off more major assets. We warn against Russia being so gullible as to accept this dangerous neoliberal argument. Privatization will not help re-industrialize Russia’s economy, but will aggravate its turn into a rentier economy from which profits are extracted for the benefit of foreign owners.

To be sure, President Putin set a number of conditions on February 1 to prevent new privatizations from being like the Yeltsin era’s disastrous selloffs. This time the assets would not be sold at knockdown prices, but would have to reflect prospective real value. The firms being sold off would remain under Russian jurisdiction, not operated by offshore owners. Foreigners were invited to participate, but the companies would remain subject to Russian laws and regulations, including restrictions to keep their capital within Russia.

Also, the firms to be privatized cannot be bought with domestic state bank credit. The aim is to draw “hard cash” into the buyouts – ideally from the foreign currency holdings by oligarchs in London and elsewhere.

Putin wisely ruled out selling Russia’s largest bank, Sperbank, which holds much of the nation’s retail savings accounts. Banking evidently is to remain largely a public utility, which it should because the ability to create credit as money is a natural monopoly and inherently public in character.

Despite these protections that President Putin added, there are serious reasons not to go ahead with the newly-announced privatizations. These reasons go beyond the fact that they would be sold under conditions of economic recession as a result of the Western economic sanctions and falling oil prices.

The excuse being cited by Russian officials for selling these companies at the present time is to finance the domestic budget deficit. This excuse shows that Russia has still not recovered from the disastrous Western Atlanticist myth that Russia must depend on foreign banks and bondholders to create money, as if the Russian central bank cannot do this itself by monetizing the budget deficit.

Monetization of budget deficits is precisely what the United States government has done, and what Western central banks have been doing in the post World War II era. Debt monetization is common practice in the West. Governments can help revive the economy by printing money instead of indebting the country to private creditors which drains the public sector of funds via interest payments to private creditors.

There is no valid reason to raise money from private banks to provide the government with money when a central bank can create the same money without having to pay interest on loans. However, Russian economists have been inculcated with the Western belief that only commercial banks should create money and that governments should sell interest-bearing bonds in order to raise funds. The incorrect belief that only private banks should create money by making loans is leading the Russian government down the same path that has led the eurozone into a dead end economy. By privatizing credit creation, Europe has shifted economic planning from democratically elected governments to the banking sector.

There is no need for Russia to accept this pro-rentier economic philosophy that bleeds a country of public revenues. Neoliberals are promoting it not to help Russia, but to bring Russia to its knees.

Essentially, those Russians allied with the West—“Atlanticist Integrationists”— who want Russia to sacrifice its sovereignty to integration with the Western empire are using neoliberal economics to entrap Putin and breach Russia’s control over its own economy that Putin reestablished after the Yeltsin years when Russia was looted by foreign interests.

Despite some success in reducing the power of the oligarchs who arose from the Yeltsin privatizations, the Russian government needs to retain national enterprises as a countervailing economic power. The reason governments operate railways and other basic infrastructure is to lower the cost of living and doing business. The aim of private owners, by contrast, is to raise the prices as high as they can.

This is called “rent extraction.” Private owners put up tollbooths to raise the cost of infrastructure services that are being privatized. This is the opposite of what the classical economists meant by “free market.”

There is talk of a deal being made with the oligarchs. The oligarchs will buy ownership in the Russian state companies with money they have stashed abroad from previous privatizations, and get another “deal of the century” when Russia’s economy recovers by enough to enable more excessive gains to be made.

The problem is that the more economic power moves from government to private control, the less countervailing power the government has against private interests. From this standpoint, no privatizations should be permitted at this time.

Much less should foreigners be permitted to acquire ownership of Russian national assets. In order to collect a one-time payment of foreign currency, the Russian government will be turning over to foreigners future income streams that can, and will be, extracted from Russia and sent abroad. This “repatriation” of dividends would occur even if management and control remains geographically in Russia.

Selling public assets in exchange for a one-time payment is what the city of Chicago government did when it sold the 75 year revenue stream of its parking meters for a one-time payment. The Chicago government got money for one year by giving up 75 years of revenues. By sacrificing public revenues, the Chicago government saved real estate and private wealth from being taxed and also allowed Wall Street investment banks to make a fortune.

It also created a public outcry against the giveaway. The new buyers sharply raised street parking fees, and sued Chicago’s government for damages when the city closed the street for public parades or holidays, thereby “interfering” with the rentiers’ parking-meter business. Instead of helping Chicago, it helped push the city toward bankruptcy. No wonder Atlanticists would like to see Russia suffer the same fate.

Using privatization to cover a short-term budget problem creates a larger long-term problem. The profits of Russian companies would flow out of the country, reducing the ruble’s exchange rate. If the profits are paid in rubles, the rubles can be dumped in the foreign exchange market and exchanged for dollars. This will depress the ruble’s exchange rate and raise the dollar’s exchange value. In effect, allowing foreigners to acquire Russia’s national assets helps foreigners to speculate against the Russian ruble.

Of course, the new Russian owners of the privatized assets also could send their profits abroad. But at least the Russian government realizes that owners subject to Russian jurisdiction are more easily regulated than are owners who are able to control companies from abroad and keep their working capital in London or other foreign banking centers (all subject to U.S. diplomatic leverage and New Cold War sanctions).

At the root of the privatization discussion should be the question of what is money and why should it be created by private banks instead of central banks. The Russian government should finance its budget deficit by having the central bank create the necessary money, just as the US and UK do. It is not necessary for the Russian government to give away future revenue streams in perpetuity merely in order to cover one year’s deficit. That is a path to impoverishment and to loss of economic and political independence.

Globalization was invented as a tool of American Empire. Russia should be shielding itself from globalization, not opening itself to it. Privatization is the vehicle to undercut economic sovereignty and increase profits by raising prices.

Just as Western-financed NGOs operating in Russia are a fifth column operating against Russian national interests, so are Russia’s neoliberal economists, whether or not they realize it. Russia will not be safe from Western manipulation until its economy is closed to Western attempts to reshape Russia’s economy in the interest of Washington and not in the interest of Russia.

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.
Michael Hudson’s new book, Killing the Host is published in e-format by CounterPunch Books and in print by Islet. He can be reached via his website, mh@michael-hudson.com

Sunday, February 07, 2016

"The Finest Fighting Force in the History of the World" Drops the Bomb

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda: The U.S. Military Bombs in the Twenty-First Century

by Tom Engelhardt - TomDispatch

 
Here’s my twenty-first-century rule of thumb about this country: if you have to say it over and over, it probably ain’t so. Which is why I’d think twice every time we’re told how “exceptional” or “indispensable” the United States is. For someone like me who can still remember a moment when Americans assumed that was so, but no sitting president, presidential candidate, or politician felt you had to say the obvious, such lines reverberate with defensiveness. They seem to incorporate other voices you can almost hear whispering that we’re ever less exceptional, more dispensable, no longer (to quote the greatest of them all by his own estimate) “the greatest.”

In this vein, consider a commonplace line running around Washington (as it has for years): the U.S. military is “the finest fighting force in the history of the world.” Uh, folks, if that’s so, then why the hell can’t it win a damn thing 14-plus years later?

If you don’t mind a little what-if history lesson, it’s just possible that events might have turned out differently and, instead of repeating that “finest fighting force” stuff endlessly, our leaders might actually believe it. After all, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it took the Bush administration only a month to let the CIA, special forces advisers, and the U.S. Air Force loose against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s supporters in Afghanistan. The results were crushing. The first moments of what that administration would grandiloquently (and ominously) bill as a “global war on terror” were, destructively speaking, glorious.

If you want to get a sense of just how crushing those forces and their Afghan proxies were, read journalist Anand Gopal’s No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes, the best book yet written on how (and how quickly) that war on terror went desperately, disastrously awry. One of the Afghans Gopal spent time with was a Taliban military commander nicknamed -- for his whip of choice -- Mullah Cable, who offered a riveting account of just how decisive the U.S. air assault on that movement was. In recalling his days on the front lines of what, until then, had been an Afghan civil war, he described his first look at what American bombs could do: 

“He drove into the basin and turned the corner and then stepped out of the vehicle. Oh my God, he thought. There were headless torsos and torso-less arms, cooked slivers of scalp and flayed skin. The stones were crimson, the sand ocher from all the blood. Coal-black lumps of melted steel and plastic marked the remains of his friends’ vehicles.
“Closing his eyes, he steadied himself. In the five years of fighting he had seen his share of death, but never lives disposed of so easily, so completely, so mercilessly, in mere seconds.”

The next day, he addressed his men. “Go home,” he said. “Get yourselves away from here. Don’t contact each other.”

“Not a soul,” writes Gopal, “protested.”

Mullah Cable took his own advice and headed for Kabul, the Afghan capital. “If he somehow could make it out alive, he promised himself that he would abandon politics forever.” And he was typical. As Gopal reports, the Taliban quickly broke under the strain of war with the last superpower on the planet. Its foot soldiers put down their arms and, like Mullah Cable, fled for home. Its leaders began to try to surrender. In Afghan fashion, they were ready to go back to their native villages, make peace, shuffle their allegiances, and hope for better times. Within a couple of months, in other words, it was, or at least shoulda, woulda, coulda been all over, even the shouting.

The U.S. military and its Afghan proxies, if you remember, believed that they had trapped Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda fighters somewhere in the mountainous Tora Bora region. If the U.S. had concentrated all its resources on him at that moment, it’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t have been in American custody or dead sooner rather than later. And that would have been that. The U.S. military could have gone home victorious. The Taliban, along with bin Laden, would have been history. Stop the cameras there and what a tale of triumph would surely have been told.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Keeping the Cameras Rolling


There was, of course, a catch. Like their Bush administration mentors, the American military men who arrived in Afghanistan were determined to fight that global war on terror forever and a day. So, as Gopal reports, they essentially refused to let the Taliban surrender. They hounded that movement’s leaders and fighters until they had little choice but to pick up their guns again and, in the phrase of the moment, “go back to work.”

It was a time of triumph and of Guantánamo, and it went to everyone’s head. Among those in power in Washington and those running the military, who didn’t believe that a set of genuine global triumphs lay in store? With such a fighting force, such awesome destructive power, how could it not? And so, in Afghanistan, the American counterterror types kept right on targeting the “terrorists” whenever their Afghan warlord allies pointed them out -- and if many of them turned out to be local enemies of those same rising warlords, who cared?

It would be the first, but hardly the last time that, in killing significant numbers of people, the U.S. military had a hand in creating its own future enemies. In the process, the Americans managed to revive the very movement they had crushed and which, so many years later, is at the edge of seizing a dominant military position in the country.

And keep in mind that, while producing a recipe for future disaster there, the Bush administration’s top officials had far bigger fish to fry. For them and for the finest fighting force etc., etc., Afghanistan was a hopeless backwater -- especially with Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein there in Baghdad at the crossroads of the oil heartlands of the planet with a target on his back. As they saw it, control of much of the Greater Middle East was at stake. To hell with Osama bin Laden.

And so, in March 2003, less than a year and a half later, they launched the invasion of Iraq, another glorious success for that triple-F force. Saddam’s military was crushed in an instant and his capital, burning and looted, was occupied by American troops in next to no time at all.

Stop the cameras there and you’re still talking about the dominant military of this, if not any other century. But of course the cameras didn’t stop. The Bush administration had no intention of shutting them off, not when it saw a Middle Eastern (and possibly even a global) Pax Americana in its future and wanted to garrison Iraq until hell froze over. It already assumed that the next stop after Baghdad on the Occident Express would be either Damascus or Tehran, that America’s enemies in the region would go down like ten pins, and that the oil heartlands of the planet would become an American dominion. (As the neocon quip of that moment had it, “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”)

It was a hell of a dream, with an emphasis on hell. It would, in fact, prove a nightmare of the first order, and the cameras just kept rolling and rolling for nearly 13 years while (I think it’s time for an acronym here) the FFFIHW, also known as the Finest Fighting Force etc., etc., proved that it could not successfully:

*Defeat determined, if lightly armed, minority insurgencies.

*Train proxy armies to do its bidding.

*Fight a war based on sectarian versions of Islam or a war of ideas.

*Help reconstruct a society in the Greater Middle East, no matter how much money it pumped in.

*Create much of anything but failed states and deeply corrupt ruling elites in the region.

*Bomb an insurgent movement into surrender.

*Drone-kill terror leaders until their groups collapsed.

*Intervene anywhere in the Greater Middle East in just about any fashion, by land or air, and end up with a world in any way to its liking.

Send in the...


It’s probably accurate to say that in the course of one disappointment or disaster after another from Afghanistan to Libya, Somalia to Iraq, Yemen to Pakistan, the U.S. military never actually lost an encounter on the battlefield. But nowhere was it truly triumphant on the battlefield either, not in a way that turned out to mean anything. Nowhere, in fact, did a military move of any sort truly pay off in the long run. Whatever was done by the FFFIHW and the CIA (with its wildly counterproductive drone assassination campaigns across the region) only seemed to create more enemies and more problems.

To sum up, the finest you-know-what in the history of you-know-where has proven to be a clumsy, largely worthless weapon of choice in Washington’s terror wars -- and increasingly its leadership seems to know it. In private, its commanders are clearly growing anxious. If you want a witness to that anxiety, go no further than Washington Post columnist and power pundit David Ignatius. In mid-January, after a visit to U.S. Central Command, which oversees Washington’s military presence in the Greater Middle East, he wrote a column grimly headlined: “The ugly truth: Defeating the Islamic State will take decades.” Its first paragraph went: “There’s a scary disconnect between the somber warnings you hear privately from military leaders about the war against the Islamic State and the glib debating points coming from Republican and Democratic politicians.”

For Ignatius, channeling his high-level sources in Central Command (whom he couldn’t identify), things could hardly have been gloomier. And yet, bleak as his report was, it still qualified as an upbeat view. His sources clearly believed that, if Washington was willing to commit to a long, hard military slog and the training of proxy forces in the region not over “a few months” but a “generation,” success would follow some distant, golden day. The last 14-plus years suggest otherwise.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what those worried CENTCOM commanders, the folks at the Pentagon, and the Obama administration are planning for the FFFIHW in the near future. Perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that, with almost a decade and a half of grisly military lessons under their belts, they are evidently going to pursue exactly the kinds of actions that have, for some time, made the U.S. military look like neither the finest, nor the greatest anything. Here’s a little been-there-done-that rundown of what might read like past history but is evidently still to come:

Afghanistan: So many years after the Bush administration loosed the U.S. Air Force and its Special Operations forces on that country and “liberated” it, the situation, according to the latest U.S. general to be put in command of the war zone, is “deteriorating.” Meanwhile, in 2015, casualties suffered by the American-built Afghan security forces reached “unsustainable” levels. The Taliban now control more territory than at any time since 2001, and the Islamic State (IS) has established itself in parts of the country. In response, more than a year after President Obama announced the ending of the U.S. “combat mission” there, the latest plans are to further slow the withdrawal of U.S. forces, while sending in the U.S. Air Force and special operations teams, particularly against the new IS fighters.

Libya: Almost five years ago, the Obama administration (with its NATO allies) dispatched overwhelming air power and drones to Libyan skies to help take down that country’s autocrat, Muammar Gaddafi. In the wake of his death and the fall of his regime, his arsenals were looted and advanced weapons were dispatched to terror groups from Mali to the Sinai Peninsula. In the ensuing years, Libya has been transformed not into a thriving democracy but a desperately failed state filled with competing sectarian militias, Islamic extremist outfits, and a fast-growing Islamic State offshoot. As the situation there continues to deteriorate, the Obama administration is now reportedly considering a “new” strategy involving “decisive military action” that will be focused on... you guessed it, air and drone strikes and possibly special operations raids on Islamic State operations.

Iraq: Another country in which the situation is again deteriorating as oil prices plunge -- oil money makes up 90% of the government budget -- and the Islamic State continues to hold significant territory. Meanwhile, Iraqis die monthly in prodigious numbers in bloody acts of war and terror, as Shiite-Sunni grievances seem only to sharpen. It’s almost 13 years since the U.S. loosed its air power and its army against Saddam Hussein, disbanded his military, trained another one (significant parts of which collapsed in the face of relatively small numbers of Islamic State fighters in 2014 and 2015), and brought together much of the future leadership of the Islamic State in a U.S. military prison. It’s almost four years since the U.S. “ended” its war there and left. Since August 2014, however, it has again loosed its Air Force on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, while dispatching at least 3,700 (and possibly almost 4,500) military personnel to Iraq to help train up a new version of that country’s army and support it as it retakes (or in fact reduces to rubble) cities still in IS hands. In this context, the Obama administration now seems to be planning for a kind of endless mission creep in which “hundreds more trainers, advisers, and commandos” will be sent to that country and neighboring Syria in the coming months. Increasingly, some of those advisers and other personnel will officially be considered “boots on the ground” and will focus on helping “the Iraqi army mount the kind of conventional warfare operations needed to defeat Islamic State militants.” It’s even possible that American advisers will, in the end, be allowed to engage directly in combat operations, while American Apache helicopter pilots might at some point begin flying close support missions for Iraqi troops fighting in urban areas. (And if this is all beginning to sound strangely familiar, what a surprise!)

Syria: Give Syria credit for one thing. It can’t be classified as a three-peat or even a repeat performance, since the FFFIHW wasn’t there the previous 14 years. Still, it’s hard not to feel as if we’ve been through all this before: the loosing of American air power on the Islamic State (with effects that devastate but somehow don’t destroy the object of Washington’s desire), disastrous attempts to train proxy forces in the American mold, the arrival of special ops forces on the scene, and so on.

In other words, everything proven over the years, from Afghanistan to Libya, not to bring victory or much of anything else worthwhile will be tried yet again -- from Afghanistan to Libya. Above all, of course, a near-religious faith in the efficacy of bombing and of drone strikes will remain crucial to American efforts, even though in the past such military-first approaches have only helped to spread terror outfits, chaos, and failed states across this vast region. Will any of it work this time? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Declaring Defeat and Coming Home


At some point, as the Vietnam War dragged on, Republican Senator George Aiken of Vermont suggested -- so the legend goes -- that the U.S. declare victory and simply come home. (In fact, he never did such a thing, but no matter.) Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and their adviser Henry Kissinger might, however, be said to have done something similar in the end. And despite wartime fears -- no less rabid than those about the Islamic State today -- that a Vietnamese communist victory would cause “dominoes” to “fall” and communism to triumph across the Third World, remarkably little happened that displeased, no less endangered, the United States. Four decades later, in fact, Washington and Vietnam are allied increasingly closely against a rising China.

In a similar fashion, our worst nightmares of the present moment -- magnified in the recent Republican debates -- are likely to have little basis in reality. The Islamic State is indeed a brutal and extreme sectarian movement, the incarnation of the whirlwind of chaos the U.S. let loose in the region. As a movement, however, it has its limits. Its appeal is far too sectarian and extreme to sweep the Greater Middle East.

Its future suppression, however, is unlikely to have much to do with the efforts of the finest fighting force in the history of the world. Quite the opposite, the Islamic State and its al-Qaeda-linked doppelgangers still spreading in the region thrive on the destructive attentions of the FFFIHW. They need that force to be eternally on their trail and tail.

There are (or at least should be) moments in history when ruling elites suddenly add two and two and miraculously come up with four. This doesn’t seem to be one of them or else the Obama administration wouldn’t be doubling down on a militarized version of the same-old same-old in the Greater Middle East, while its Republican and neocon opponents call for making the sand “glow in the dark,” sending in the Marines (all of them), and bombing the hell out of everything.

Under the circumstances, what politician in present-day Washington would have the nerve to suggest the obvious? Isn’t it finally time to pull the U.S. military back from the Greater Middle East and put an end to our disastrous temptation to intervene ever more destructively in ever more repetitious ways in that region? That would, of course, mean, among other things, dismantling the vast structure of military bases Washington has built up across the Persian Gulf and the rest of the Greater Middle East.

Maybe it’s time to adopt some version of Senator Aiken’s mythical strategy. Maybe Washington should bluntly declare not victory, but defeat, and bring the U.S. military home. Maybe if we stopped claiming that we were the greatest, most exceptional, most indispensable nation ever and that the U.S. military was the finest fighting force in the history of the world, both we and the world might be better off and modestly more peaceful. Unfortunately, you can toss that set of thoughts in the trash can that holds all the other untested experiments of history. One thing we can be sure of, given the politics of our moment, is that we’ll never know.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

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Copyright 2016 Tom Engelhardt