Thursday, May 20, 2010

A new war for the Empire

At the end of an informative rant about the current economic woes of his birthplace Greece, Taki Theodoracopulos concludes, in his usual witty fashion:

Thinking about it, we Greeks are not all that bad. At least our leaders have not sent young men to die for the glory of Bush and Blair and Brown, despite enormous pressure to do so. So what’s a little stealing from the crooks of the EU, with a little help from Goldman Sachs, that is.

Yes, Greece could be a worse villain and in worse than just financial trouble. It could be acting like an Empire that has assumed the responsibility of monitoring the entire planet, along with the cosmos, sort of like the role the United States plays.

Let's see now. We only have three wars going on at the moment -- Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan -- with Iran on hold. But what's that over there in the East? That looks like Korea acting up again, with its North throwing missiles at the South. This is the signal for the Empire to hop to it. Oh boy, another war!

Surely, we can offer some of our inventive military equipment, troops, and other resources to bombing the stuffings out of Korea. Why not bomb both Koreas this time? After all, we should return and finish the job that was left incomplete in the 1950s, right? It's our moral duty.

We know we can count on those faithful Evangelical Christians to send more of their sons to die or be maimed. There are so many young American men still to be sent overseas to "protect our freedoms." What are they doing out of uniform anyway, sitting around playing with their iPods, watching TV, hiding out in college with musty, old books. Let's give them something substantial to do!

Let's send more units of soldiers as emissaries and give another part of the world reasons to hate us, as they are blown up by IEDs, or whatever the Koreans might think invaders deserve. We know those good capitalist Evangelicals will be thrilled to keep the prosthetic industry fat and prosperous, while assuring us that they Support the Troops. USA! USA! USA! Who can we go and kill today? Our own young men in another worthless conflict.
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Who's the Commander-in-Chief?

David Wood foresees a dismal future for Afghanistan, since there seems to be no joint political strategy between the White House and Afghan leaders. In Obama's Afghanistan: No Political Strategy, No Benchmarks, No End Point, Wood speculates on the results of President Obama's recent meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

He writes, "Neither Karzai nor administration officials defined what they want Afghanistan to look like in one year, or five, or 10. Nor did anyone mention benchmarks that could help chart progress or lack of progress toward that goal." The main stated goal, of course, is the elimination of al-Qaida. But how can any force insure that the Afghan people will possess the will to maintain the new institutions that are now being intruded into their customs?

The hubris on the part of the Americans is astounding. With their mighty fire power, the Western bully entered another man's world and centuries-old culture, yet eight years later the foreigners are setting up unfamiliar political structures, while discussing their "key goals" to "make local government more able and willing to respond to local needs and grievances." Wood informs us that "Thousands of U.S. troops and civilians are working in Afghanistan today training local officials to draw up budgets and plan and manage projects."

For now, Afghans must cooperate with the Western bully, but will they want those structures and alien institutions once the bully has left their land? Stephen Biddle, in the Washington Post, claims that a system of bribery, even blackmail, using the carrot and stick approach, will probably be employed by the Obama administration. Since Afghanistan is "critically reliant on the United States for life support," he writes, "aid programs can be accelerated or slowed, ... logistical support can be provided or withheld, ... visas can be granted or denied." He claims, "The possibilities are nearly endless."

Yes, carrot and stick should make for a good foundation between the governments of the two countries. After all, it's worked before.

Whatever dreams there might be for the future, the present reality is a gruesome one and will be held in the long memories of Afghans for many years to come. It will take a lot of mental purging to forget what Westerners have done in their midst for almost a decade.

For instance, we learn from The New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh news that previously has been confirmed by soldiers in the field. In "US Troops Carrying Out Battlefield Executions," Hersh, in a videotaped conference discussion, tells of outright executions of prisoners by soldiers. "They're being executed on the battlefield." [See post below this one, Get out of our country, for comments of two soldiers.] Hersh explains it this way:

What they've done in the field now is, they tell the troops, you have to make a determination within a day or two or so whether or not the prisoners you have, the detainees, are Taliban. You must extract whatever tactical intelligence you can get, as opposed to strategic, long-range intelligence, immediately. And if you cannot conclude they're Taliban, you must turn them free. What it means is, and I've been told this anecdotally by five or six different people, battlefield executions are taking place. Well, if they can't prove they're Taliban, bam! If we don't do it ourselves, we turn them over to the nearby Afghan troops and, by the time we walk three feet, the bullets are flying. And that's going on now.

What long, long memories of the American invader the Afghans, and the Iraqis, will hold.

On another grim note, it would seem that Obama, the boy wonder President, similar to the previous boy wonder, George W. Bush, isn't exactly in charge of things. Hersh claims that Obama is "looking the other way," when it comes to atrocities being committed, because he is "dominated by the military." Obama is in real trouble, says Hersh, when it comes to geopolitics. "The military are dominating him on the important issues of the world: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Is the boy wonder the Commander-in-Chief, or isn't he? Who's in charge here, anyway?
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Get out of our country

It's hard to believe that grown-up men are still reciting George W. Bush's juvenile mantra of "why they hate us." You know, "because of our freedoms." Pat Buchanan nails the reason why this hackneyed refrain gets repeated, long after intelligent people have gained enough knowledge to know better.

For centuries, Muslims sat over in their part of the world hurling anathema at the licentious West for its immoral, decadent ways, while Westerners, in turn, scorned the Muslims' "backward" traditions. For years, there existed a grudging live and let live peace between the two diametrically opposed cultures. In recent decades, if there were Muslim oligarchs who would have liked to stir up trouble with the West, the weaponry of the Western nations, especially that of the United States, kept such notions in check. It was not until the United States, after being drawn into partisan conflicts in the Middle East and physically intruding into Muslim territories that their curses turned brutally vengeful.

In Is the War Coming Home?, Buchanan considers the factors that radicalized the men who most recently expressed their outrage through violent actions – the passenger who tried to blow up an airliner, the soldier who shot dead 13 fellow soldiers, another who sought to massacre scores of people in Times Square, and the imam who acts as inspiration to Muslims to commit jihad against Americans.

Were these men lifetime haters of the United States, including the one who was born here, and the other who became a naturalized citizen? Buchanan observes that, "All were converted in manhood into haters of America ... And the probability is high that there are many more like them living amongst us who wish to bring the war in the Af-Pak here to America."

Instead of working to decipher what in the minds of Muslims is behind this current burst of violence, immature American ideologues continue reciting their feeble clichés, none of which explains why Muslims, after centuries of non-violence towards the West, have reverted to horrific assaults from a bygone era. New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently added his canny insight, by explaining that we are hated because "this country is so great." And Wall Street Journal pundit Bret Stephens would like to believe that Muslim hatred is rooted in our "popular culture." It's because of "Lady Gaga," he writes, along with Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, and a host of other Hollywood sexpots, as well as Playboy, the pill, women's lib and gay rights.

Buchanan calls such rationalizations "comforting thoughts" to those who hold them, because they absolve us of the need to think. "Yet, this is as self-delusional," he writes, "as saying the FLN [National Liberation Front] set off bombs in movie theaters and cafes in Algiers to kill the French because of what Brigitte Bardot was doing on screen in And God Created Woman.

No doubt, this country's toxic culture gives devout Muslims reason to despise our way of life, but, says Buchanan, "It is not why they come here to kill us." In reality, "Mohammad Atta's friends did not target Hollywood, but centers and symbols of U.S. military and political power."

Buchanan reminds us that "U.S. Marines [in 1983] were not attacked by Hezbollah until we inserted those Marines into Lebanon's civil war. No Iraqi committed an act of terror against us before we invaded Iraq." He writes:

Osama bin Laden declared war on us, first and foremost, to end the massive U.S. presence on sacred Saudi soil that is home to Mecca and Medina. Some may insist this was not his real motive. But, apparently, the Saudis believed him, for they quickly kicked us out of Prince Sultan Air Base.

As for the Taliban ... their stated grievance is the same as Gen. Washington's in our war with the British: If you want this war to end, get out of our country.

What all of these angry men have in common is their desire to exact retribution for our killing their fellow Muslims. "We are being attacked over here because we are over there," declares Buchanan. Unlike the skimpy media coverage in this country that is given to the wars and occupation, Muslims all over the world are well informed of what is going on "over there." As reported to Lew Rockwell by an American soldier stationed in Afghanistan, here is the type of scenario that is raising the consciousness of people throughout Europe and Asia:

It is like the Wild West – no one cares what you do; we are just driving and walking around the desert shooting at dudes on motorcycles and getting shot and blown up by IEDs and RPGs. We are like 50 miles from the next patrol base and no one gives a f--k about what we do here.

And a soldier's letter to Laurence Vance, also at the Lew Rockwell site:

I wanted to let you know that as a current member of the U.S. military who has been deployed five times to the Middle East, we ARE NOT fighting to defend America's freedom – we are murdering innocent people and those just fighting to protect their family and livelihoods. My enlistment is up in just over a month and I cannot wait to get out there and be more vocal against this murderous evil empire. I hope that my being a veteran will help give me some credibility.

This is the manner in which the world's Greatest Super Power conducts its "wars." No accountability and random murder, not unlike the aggressions of ghetto gangbangers.

And they hate us for our "freedoms?"
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Monday, May 10, 2010

A new role for the military

Oh, my, the big chiefs of the military have a real problem. What to do? What to do?

According to journalist Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post, the Pentagon is begging Congress to cease dropping so much money on the troops, since this will eventually drain away resources for weapons and equipment maintenance.

It seems that our illustrious Senators and Representatives, the warmongers responsible for the two wars (or is it three?) in which American troops are engaged, are falling all over one another to show how much they "care" about the health and overall welfare of military personnel. These personnel expenses, that include health care costs, allowances for housing, and increased wages, constitute about one-quarter of defense spending.

Whitlock writes that "Pentagon officials see fiscal calamity" ahead. And, "In the midst of two long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense officials are increasingly worried that the government's generosity is unsustainable and that it will leave them with less money to buy weapons and take care of equipment." Will a decision have to be made to use funds to produce more killing machines, while finding more victims to use them on? Or will the choice be to simply provide for the multitudes of maimed and soon-to-be-maimed soldiers and their families?

California Rep. Susan Davis asks, "Are we going to fund weapons or are we going to fund people?" What to do? What to do?

If we're lucky, perhaps the military will transform itself into a new institution that does nothing more than take care of men and women who have few prospects for employment in the private sector. Perhaps it could be turned into an organization whose members are deployed to regions within the United States, where they are needed for rescue service, to assist firemen, police departments, border agents, and to act as overall chivalrous commandos to deal with unexpected crises and catastrophes, and other Acts of God. Right here, within the USA.

And, as a side consequence of the military's transformation, perhaps the world might be spared the next onslaught of American fire power that's required when bringing our peculiar version of "democracy" abroad. Maybe the citizens of one more country might be spared the horror of experiencing the benefits of U.S. style "nation building." And perhaps by intruding less into other people's territories and cultures, we wind up tamping down the escalating hatred and resentment towards this country, and minimizing future quests for revenge.
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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Is the government really "us"?

I guess the naive is still within me. Even with the knowledge of this government's dastardly treatment of Randy Weaver and his family and its extermination of the Waco religious sect, I still puzzled over the arrest of the members of the Hutaree militia. What possible case could be made, I wondered, of the expression of words, unaccompanied by deeds? How is it possible that these citizens would not be granted bail, at least, to await the judgment of the court? Are we really to believe that these eccentrics are too "dangerous" to return to their homes for this interim period?

And then I remembered another case, that of the "dangerous" Alex Curtis, who, for several months in 2000, was denied bail, and then spent three years in jail for nothing more than a series of harmless pranks. There should be little doubt that, when it comes to the targeted enemies of our government, no matter which presidential administration rules, anything can be contrived.

On May 1, President Barack Hussein Obama, in his commencement speech to graduates of the University of Michigan, berated Americans who persist in railing against government. Government should not be looked upon as a "menacing entity," he told his audience, and explained that those who fulminate against it have the effect of comparing it to "authoritarian, even murderous regimes." Obama claimed that the citizenry should not be so critical, since the government is "us."

So, it's "us" who murdered Randy Weaver's son and then his wife, as she stood in that doorway holding her baby. And it's "us" who, after an inhumane 50-day siege, murdered that little band of believers in Waco. And it's "us" who currently hand out 10-year prison sentences to youth who dare burn a cross on a lawn.

Is it also "us," as jack-booted swat teams, kick down doors in mistaken raids on the homes of innocent citizens? Is it "us" who allow an alien power, via its lobbyists and devotees, to set this country's foreign policy, that results in the unnecessary slaughter of American soldiers?

Do most of the vociferous protesters against government say there should be no government at all? Of course they don't. Even the Tea Party crazies and their ilk have never had any problem with the existence of government. In fact, they generally have no complaints about punitive treatment of citizens at the hands of federal, state or municipal governments. Most of the Partiers typically live by the "where there's smoke, there's fire" rule.

Think back to those horrendous days of Randy Weaver's troubles in the woods, and the later vile assaults on the Davidians at Waco. Throughout the harassment of each of these unfortunate victims, no right wing talk show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh and, here in New York, Bob Grant, could be roused by callers to add their influential voices to the protests against the atrocities being perpetrated by the God-almighty government. If anything, both of these fraudulent "constitutionalist" radio blabbers made it clear that the Waco "kooks" deserved what they got, for resisting government intervention. After all, if you are determined not to follow the rules, you should be prepared to be kicked around.

And now we have the Hutaree militia. Long-time government observer William Norman Grigg writes below about a Judge who probably possesses a memory of past injustices, and considers it her duty not to allow a repeat on her watch. (If one says, "Some day, I sure would like to get rid of that Sheriff Jones," is that the same as plotting to get rid of Jones?)

In The Hutaree Case Falls Apart, Grigg offers an update. Below are excerpts:
• • •

Federal District Judge Victoria Roberts has ruled that the nine members of the so-called Hutaree Militia accused of plotting to wage war against the Regime can be released on bail. Prosecutors had argued that bail should be denied because the group posed a severe danger to public safety.

The Hutaree group is accused of “seditious conspiracy” — specifically, plotting to murder a law enforcement officer and then follow up with opportunistic attacks on other LEOs who would attend the funeral. This would supposedly precipitate a wide-scale revolt.

Conversations discussing that scenario were reported by a federal informant who infiltrated the group and thoughtfully offered to teach them how to make improvised explosive devices. While federal prosecutors have provided ample evidence that members of the Hutaree are passionately anti-government — what decent person isn’t? — they haven’t been able to demonstrate that the group did anything more than engage in survivalist training and indulge in apocalyptic rhetoric. ...

Judge Roberts didn’t find the government’s case compelling.
“Discussions about killing local law enforcement officers — and even discussions about killing members of the judicial branch of government — do not translate to conspiring to overthrow, or levy war against, the United States government,” she wrote, ordering that the Hutaree suspects be released on bail.

Since the federal case against the Hutaree rests entirely on what was said by the suspects, rather than anything specific that was done by them, it’s difficult to see what’s left of it.

Read entire article here.

See also:

The Myth of the Menacing Militias, by Jesse Walker, Reason magazine

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