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Archive for May, 2011

Reader, Interrupted

Posted by Admin on May 28, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/blogs/opinions/reader-interrupted-070551236.html

By Sanjay Sipahimalani | Opinions – Fri, May 27, 2011

One of the aims of the novelist, writes John Gardner in his The Art of Fiction, is to create for the reader “a vivid and continuous dream”. Well, these days, I find that dream to be full of interruptions.

I’m not referring to doorbells, phone calls and mysterious thumps from next door. Rather, it’s the distraction caused by having access to the Internet. The lurking sense that there are e-mails to be checked, tweets to be followed, status updates to be noted, headlines to be scanned or new videos of Rebecca Black to be made fun of.

The ease with which all of this can be accomplished means that it’s a temptation to be constantly wrestled with, and more often than not, I find myself pinned to the ground. And the more often one enters that kinetic, frenetic arena, the more difficult it is to settle down for a period of sustained, single-minded attention.

Nicholas Carr, in his much-discussed The Shallows, maintains that the Web destroys focus, quoting neurological studies to prove that it rewires the brain. “Because it disrupts concentration,” he writes, “such activity weakens comprehension”. Concentration, comprehension: without these qualities, the act of reading is imperiled. Bandwidth comes at the expense of mindwidth.

As with others, there are two states I swing between when reading a novel. The first, of immersion: of being drawn into and inhabiting the author’s world, one that supplants ordinary laws of time and space. The other, of being aware that I am reading: of peripheral vision, of turning the pages and of occasionally checking to see how many more are left. Sadly, it’s the latter state that prevails and more and more nowadays. (The problem resolves itself if it’s a novel I dislike, in which case I simply skim.)

When much younger, this quality of immersion was so much more pronounced. Succumbing to one of his usual fits of nostalgia, Proust has written, “There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we believe we left without having lived them, those we spent with a favorite book”. He goes on to state that memories of those times even bring alive the surroundings: “If we still happen today to leaf through those books of another time, it is for no other reason than that they are the only calendars we have kept of days that have vanished, and we hope to see reflected on their pages the dwellings and the ponds which no longer exist”. Every such book, then, becomes a diary of the past.

To return to the 21st century, there’s the added complication, as many have pointed out, that Web pages simply aren’t conducive to reading at length. Bite-sized pieces are all we absorb before clicking and moving on, and this habit can persist when we return to the printed page. (Paradoxically, though, it’s the Web that’s being credited with something of a revival of long-form journalism, be it through curation sites such as LongForm.org, save-for-later services such as Instapaper, or Kindle Singles. Content is selected, distractions are eliminated. Dedicated e-book readers, too, have that advantage — which is why I think the Kindle should simply do away with the rudimentary Web access it currently provides.)

Which leads to the speculation that, when it comes to the novel, we’ll return to the time of the Victorians, with authors writing in monthly installments that appear on e-readers and periodicals, subsequently being issued as one large, complete volume. James Buzard, MIT literature professor, makes this sound trendy when he says that such serials “encourage a different social engagement” with books,talking of it as a form of “viral marketing” where readers have the time to exchange views on the work in progress with each other and with the novelist. (“But, Charles, did you really have to let Little Nell die?”)

While we wait for these and other necessities-turned-virtues to materialise, I’m left with an immediate, unresolved problem. There are more than 150 unread pages of a book that I have to review, and if I persist in turning to one of the many screens that surround my life, I’m never going to meet the deadline.

Sanjay Sipahimalani is a writer with an advertising agency in Mumbai. His reviews are collected at Antiblurbs.

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Yemen on brink of civil war as clashes spread

Posted by Admin on May 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110527/wl_nm/us_yemen

By Samia Nakhoul and Mohammed Ghobari Fri May 27, 4:16 pm ET

SANAA (Reuters) – Yemeni tribesmen said they wrested a military compound from elite troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh outside the capital Sanaa on Friday as fighting spread, threatening to tip the country into civil war.

Yemeni fighter jets broke the sound barrier as they swooped over Sanaa, where battles between Saleh loyalists and the Hashed tribal alliance led by Sadeq al-Ahmar erupted this week after failure of a deal to ease the president out.

Clashes spread northeast of Sanaa on Friday, where tribes said in addition to seizing a military post in the Nahm region, they were also fighting government troops at two other positions south of the capital.

In Sanaa, tens of thousands of people gathered after Friday prayers for what they branded a “Friday of Peaceful Revolution” against Saleh, releasing white doves and carrying the coffins of about 30 people killed in clashes this week.

Tens of thousands turned out for the rally, inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, though their numbers had dwindled compared to previous weeks after thousands fled Sanaa and the government closed roads around the city to keep out tribes trying to reinforce the Ahmars.

Machinegun fire and sporadic blasts rattled the city before fighting eased after mediation efforts. Ahmar’s fighters evacuated government ministry buildings they had grabbed this week in return for a ceasefire and troops quitting their area.

“We are now in mediation and there has been a ceasefire between the two sides,” Ahmar, close to an Islamist opposition party, told protesters in “Change Square.” “But if Ali Abdullah Saleh returns (to fighting) then we are ready. We are steadfast and victorious.”

“We wanted it (revolution) to be peaceful but Saleh, his sons and his clique wanted war. We will not leave them the opportunity to turn it into a civil war,” Ahmar told Reuters.

But in a sign of hostility between the sides, a government source ridiculed Ahmar for his grandiose statements, saying the state had taught him a “small lesson” and urging him and “his gangs” to turn themselves in to face justice.

Battles this week, the worst since protests began in January, killed around 115 people and let Saleh grab back the initiative, overshadowing the protest movement with the threat of civil war. Yet protesters were determined to see him go.

“We are here to renew our resolve for a peaceful revolution. We reject violence or being dragged into civil war,” said Yahya Abdulla at the anti-Saleh protest camp, where armed vehicles were deployed to protect those praying.

A few kilometres (miles) away, government loyalists staged a short rally, waving Yemeni flags and pictures of Saleh, who has ruled the Arabian Peninsula state for nearly 33 years.

Worries are growing that Yemen, already a safe haven for al Qaeda and on the verge of financial ruin, could become a failed state that would erode regional security and pose a serious risk to neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.

The United States and Saudi Arabia, both targets of foiled attacks by a wing of al Qaeda based in Yemen, are concerned any spread of anarchy could embolden the militant group.

BATTLE AT MILITARY COMPOUND

In Nahm, 100 km (60 miles) northeast of Sanaa, a tribal leader said fierce fighting over three military posts killed 19 and wounded dozens. He said tribesmen had seized one post and were battling for two more as military planes bombed the area.

“There had been some skirmishes between the tribesmen supporting the youth revolution from time to time, but today it became a big armed confrontation,” Sheikh Hamid Asim said.

He had earlier said anti-Saleh fighters killed the commander of the military post they seized. A separate tribal source said the Yemeni air force dropped bombs to prevent the tribesmen from seizing an arms cache there.

The defense ministry blamed the opposition coalition, comprised of Islamists and leftists, for the fighting in Nahm. State television, citing a military source, denied any posts were seized. “These are lies with no basis in truth,” Yemen TV quoted him as saying.

If confirmed, the Republican Guard’s loss of a military post to tribesmen armed with machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades would be an embarrassing setback for Saleh, whose country has become the poorest in the region.

Mediators have been increasingly exasperated with Saleh, saying he had repeatedly imposed new conditions each time a Gulf-led transition agreement was due for signing, mostly recently demanding a public signing ceremony.

Leaders of the G8 leading industrialized nations called on Saleh to step down during a summit in France, but analysts said global powers have little leverage in Yemen, located on a shipping lane through which 3 million barrels of oil pass daily.

FEAR OF CIVIL WAR

Sanaa residents had been streaming out of the capital by the thousands to escape escalating violence in recent days. Others stocked up on essentials and waited in trepidation.

“There is absolute poverty because of this regime. We want change,” said Abdulrahman al-Fawli, 42, an engineer. “But I’m terrified of civil war. I dread this prospect.”

The recent fighting between tribal fighters and loyalists has ignored a commitment to peaceful demonstrations by protesters, many of whom are sceptical about the vested interests of both sides in the armed conflict.

“Saleh and his forces and the al-Ahmar tribe cannot make the civilian state that the protesters want. They stole the limelight of the revolution and undermined it with their fighting,” said Ali Mohammed Subaihy, a doctor.

In the south, dozens of armed men believed to be from al Qaeda stormed into the city of Zinjibar in the flashpoint province of Abyan, chasing out security forces while seizing several government buildings and setting off blasts in others, residents said.

The army had withdrawn from Zinjibar after a battle with militants in March, but later regained control.

Friday’s violence, which killed at least seven people including a civilian, sent hundreds of families fleeing their neighborhoods as shelling continued and warplanes roared overhead. Smoke billowed from a military building.

Similar clashes broke out in Lawdar, also in the south, a government official said.

Saleh has said his removal would be a boon to al Qaeda, but the opposition, which includes the Islamist party Islah, accuses him of exploiting militancy to keep his foreign backing and argues that it would be better placed to fight al Qaeda.

Washington, which long treated Saleh as an ally against al Qaeda, has said it now wants him to go. Saleh’s attempts to stop protests by force have so far killed around 280 people.

(Additional reporting by Mohamed Sudam and Khaled al-Mahdy in Sanaa, Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden, Erika Solomon in Dubai and from Barbara Lewis in Geneva; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Louise Ireland)

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Fresh NATO raids target Libyan capital

Posted by Admin on May 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110528/ts_afp/libyaconflict_20110528083220

Fresh NATO raids target Libyan capital
 Smoke billows behind the trees following an air raid on the area of Tajura, east of Tripoli on May 24
by Imed Lamloum 51 mins ago

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Fresh NATO-led air strikes on Saturday targeted the district of Tripoli where Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi has his residence, after G8 world powers intensified the pressure on the strongman to step down.

For the fourth successive night, powerful blasts rocked Bab Al-Aziziya near the city centre, an AFP correspondent said as Libyan state media reported air raids on the Al-Qariet region south of the capital.

The strikes came after US President Barack Obama told a summit of G8 world powers that the United States and France were committed to finishing the job in Libya, as Russia finally joined explicit calls for Kadhafi to go.

Russia’s dramatic shift — and an offer to mediate — came as British Prime Minister David Cameron said the NATO mission against Kadhafi was entering a new phase with the deployment of helicopter gunships to the conflict.

“We are joined in our resolve to finish the job,” Obama said after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the G8 summit of industrialised democracies in the French resort of Deauville.

But the US leader warned the “UN mandate of civilian protection cannot be accomplished when Kadhafi remains in Libya directing his forces in acts of aggression against the Libyan people.”

G8 leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US called in their final statement for Kadhafi to step down after more than 40 years, in the face of pro-democracy protests turned full-fledged armed revolt.

“Kadhafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfil their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go,” it said.

But the Libyan regime rejected the call and said any initiative to resolve the crisis would have to go through the African Union.

“The G8 is an economic summit. We are not concerned by its decisions,” said Libya’s deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaaim.

Tripoli also rejected Russian mediation and will “not accept any mediation which marginalises the peace plan of the African Union,” he said. “We are an African country. Any initiative outside the AU framework will be rejected.”

Kaaim said it had no confirmation of a change in Moscow’s position after President Dmitry Medvedev toughened Russia’s stance at the G8 meeting by declaring: “The world community does not see him as the Libyan leader.”

African leaders at a summit in Addis Ababa on Thursday called for an end to NATO air strikes on Libya to pave the way for a political solution to the conflict.

The pan-African bloc also sought a stronger say in resolving the conflict.

Kaaim meanwhile confirmed the visit on Monday of South African President Jacob Zuma, without indicating whether the exit of Kadhafi from power would be discussed as the South Africans have claimed.

On Thursday, the Libyan regime said Tripoli wanted a monitored ceasefire.

But NATO insisted it would keep up its air raids in Libya until Kadhafi’s forces stop attacking civilians and until the regime’s proposed ceasefire is matched by its actions on the ground.

Meanwhile Kadhafi’s wife Sofia on Friday slammed strikes against the Libyan leader and his family, and accused NATO forces of “committing war crimes” with its action against the regime.

Arab League chief Amr Mussa said there was a yawning gap between Tripoli and the rebel National Transitional Council on Kadhafi’s fate, with the rebels demanding he go immediately and the regime saving his exit for “later.”

“I was not there. But I wished that I was so I may die with him,” she told CNN in a telephone interview, describing the reported death of her son Seif al-Arab from a NATO air strike.

“My son never missed an evening prayer. We had strikes every day, and the strikes would start at evening prayer. Four rockets on one house!” she said in the rare interview.

International forces, which have been attacking Kadhafi forces under the terms of a UN resolution to protect civilians, “are looking for excuses to target Moamer. What has he done to deserve this?” asked Sofia.

NATO, she said, is “committing war crimes” in the North Africa country.

“They killed my son and the Libyan people. They are defaming our reputation, she said.

“Forty countries are against us. Life has no value anymore,” she lamented, in the wake of her son’s death.

Doubts have been raised in recent days of the veracity of reports on Seif al-Arab, Kadhafi’s youngest son, being dead.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pointed out Wednesday that the international coalition had no information on his demise, and said the report from a Libyan government spokesman was “propaganda.”

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Indians in Yemen asked to leave the country

Posted by Admin on May 28, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/indians-yemen-asked-leave-country-092650143.html

New Delhi, May 27 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs has advised Indian nationals living in Yemen to exit the country through whatever commercial means available keeping in view the evolving situation and the increase in violent incidents.

The Indian nationals have also been advised not to venture out except under absolutely unavoidable circumstances till the time they are able to exit from Yemen.

“The Embassy of India and our Ambassador in Yemen will continue to function in Sanaa and can be contacted for any assistance by Indian nationals till such time they are able to exit the country,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) release said.

In the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, gun battles raged on Monday between government forces and fighters loyal to powerful tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar, who has sided with the growing opposition movement that has demanded an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh‘s 32-year-long rule. (ANI)

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There Is Much More to Say

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2011

Monday 23 May 2011

After the assassination of bin Laden I received such a deluge of requests for comment that I was unable to respond individually, and on May 4 and later I sent an unedited form response instead, not intending for it to be posted, and expecting to write it up more fully and carefully later on. But it was posted, then circulated. It can now be found, reposted, at http://www.zcommunications.org/my-reaction-to-osama-bin-laden-s-death-by-noam-chomsky.

That was followed but a deluge of reactions from all over the world. It is far from a scientific sample of course, but nevertheless, the tendencies may be of some interest. Overwhelmingly, those from the “third world” were on the order of “thanks for saying what we think.”  There were similar ones from the US, but many others were infuriated, often virtually hysterical, with almost no relation to the actual content of the posted form letter. That was true in particular of the posted or published responses brought to my attention. I have received a few requests to comment on several of these. Frankly, it seems to me superfluous. If there is any interest, I’ll nevertheless find some time to do so.

The original letter ends with the comment that “There is much more to say, but even the most obvious and elementary facts should provide us with a good deal to think about.” Here I will fill in some of the gaps, leaving the original otherwise unchanged in all essentials.

Noam Chomsky

May 2011

On May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden was kil­led in his vir­tual­ly un­protec­ted com­pound by a raid­ing mis­s­ion of 79 Navy Seals, who en­tered Pakis­tan by helicopt­er. After many lurid sto­ries were pro­vided by the govern­ment and with­drawn, of­fici­al re­ports made it in­creasing­ly clear that the op­era­tion was a plan­ned as­sas­sina­tion, multi­p­ly violat­ing elemen­ta­ry norms of in­ter­nation­al law, be­ginn­ing with the in­vas­ion it­self.

There ap­pears to have been no at­tempt to apprehend the un­ar­med vic­tim, as pre­sumab­ly could have been done by 79 com­man­dos fac­ing no op­posi­tion – ex­cept, they re­port, from his wife, also un­ar­med, who they shot in self-defense when she “lun­ged” at them (ac­cord­ing to the White House).

A plausib­le re­construc­tion of the events is pro­vided by veteran Mid­dle East cor­res­pondent Yochi Dreaz­en and col­leagues in the At­lantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/05/goal-was-never-to-capture-bin-laden/238330/). Dreaz­en, for­mer­ly the milita­ry cor­res­pondent for the Wall Street Journ­al, is sen­ior cor­res­pondent for the Nation­al Journ­al Group co­ver­ing milita­ry af­fairs and nation­al secur­ity. Ac­cord­ing to their in­ves­tiga­tion, White House plann­ing ap­pears not to have con­sidered the opt­ion of cap­tur­ing OBL alive: “The ad­ministra­tion had made clear to the military’s clan­destine Joint Speci­al Op­era­tions Com­mand that it wan­ted bin Laden dead, ac­cord­ing to a sen­ior U.S. of­fici­al with know­ledge of the dis­cuss­ions. A high-ranking milita­ry of­fic­er briefed on the as­sault said the SEALs knew their mis­s­ion was not to take him alive.”

The aut­hors add: “For many at the Pen­tagon and the Centr­al In­tel­lig­ence Agen­cy who had spent near­ly a de­cade hunt­ing bin Laden, kill­ing the militant was a neces­sa­ry and just­ified act of ven­gean­ce.” Further­more, “Cap­tur­ing bin Laden alive would have also pre­sen­ted the ad­ministra­tion with an array of nettlesome legal and polit­ical chal­lenges.” Bet­t­er, then, to as­sas­sinate him, dump­ing his body into the sea with­out the auto­psy con­sidered es­senti­al after a kill­ing, wheth­er con­sidered just­ified or not – an act that pre­dic­tab­ly pro­voked both anger and skep­tic­ism in much of the Mus­lim world.

As the At­lantic in­qui­ry ob­ser­ves, “The de­cis­ion to kill bin Laden out­right was the clearest il­lustra­tion to date of a little-noticed as­pect of the Obama ad­ministration’s co­un­terter­ror poli­cy. The Bush ad­ministra­tion cap­tured thousands of sus­pec­ted militants and sent them to de­ten­tion camps in Afghanis­tan, Iraq, and Guan­tanamo Bay. The Obama ad­ministra­tion, by contra­st, has focused on eliminat­ing in­dividu­al ter­ror­ists rath­er than at­tempt­ing to take them alive.” That is one sig­nificant dif­fer­ence bet­ween Bush and Obama. The aut­hors quote form­er West Ger­man Chan­cellor Hel­mut Schmidt, who “told Ger­man TV that the U.S. raid was ‘quite clear­ly a viola­tion of in­ter­nation­al law’ and that bin Laden should have been de­tained and put on trial,” contra­st­ing Schmidt with US At­torney Gener­al Eric Hold­er, who “de­fen­ded the de­cis­ion to kill bin Laden al­though he didn’t pose an im­mediate threat to the Navy SEALs, tell­ing a House panel on Tues­day that the as­sault had been ‘law­ful, legitimate and approp­riate in every way’.”

The dis­pos­al of the body with­out auto­psy was also criticized by al­l­ies. The high­ly re­gar­ded British bar­rist­er Geoffrey Robertson, who sup­por­ted the in­ter­ven­tion and op­posed the ex­ecu­tion lar­ge­ly on prag­matic grounds, nevertheless de­scribed Obama’s claim that “just­ice was done” as an “ab­surd­ity” that should have been ob­vi­ous to a form­er pro­fes­sor of con­stitution­al law (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-03/osama-bin-laden-death-why-he-should-have-been-captured-not-killed/). Pakis­tan law “re­quires a col­oni­al in­quest on violent death, and in­ter­nation­al human rights law in­s­ists that the ‘right to life’ man­dates an in­qui­ry whenev­er violent death oc­curs from govern­ment or police ac­tion. The U.S. is therefore under a duty to hold an in­qui­ry that will satis­fy the world as to the true cir­cumstan­ces of this kill­ing.” Robertson adds that “The law per­mits crimin­als to be shot in self-defense if they (or their ac­complices) re­s­ist ar­rest in ways that end­ang­er those striv­ing to apprehend them. They should, if pos­sible, be given the op­por­tun­ity to sur­rend­er, but even if they do not come out with their hands up, they must be taken alive if that can be ac­hieved with­out risk. Ex­act­ly how bin Laden came to be ‘shot in the head’ (es­pecial­ly if it was the back of his head, execution-style) therefore re­quires ex­plana­tion. Why a hasty ‘buri­al at sea’ with­out a post mor­tem, as the law re­quires?”

Help Trut­hout close out the year strong! Make a tax-deductible con­tribu­tion to brave, in­depen­dent jour­nal­ism today.

Robertson attributes the murd­er to “America’s ob­ses­sive be­lief in capit­al punishment—alone among ad­vanced nations—[which] is re­flec­ted in its re­joic­ing at the man­n­er of bin Laden’s de­m­ise.” For ex­am­ple, Na­tioncol­umn­ist Eric Al­ter­man writes that “The kill­ing of Osama bin Laden was a just and neces­sa­ry un­der­tak­ing.”

Robertson useful­ly re­minds us that “It was not al­ways thus. When the time came to con­sid­er the fate of men much more steeped in wic­ked­ness than Osama bin Laden — name­ly the Nazi leadership — the British govern­ment wan­ted them han­ged with­in six hours of cap­ture. Pre­sident Truman de­mur­red, cit­ing the con­clus­ion of Just­ice Robert Jackson that sum­ma­ry ex­ecu­tion ‘would not sit eas­i­ly on the American con­sci­ence or be re­mem­bered by our childr­en with pride…the only co­ur­se is to de­ter­mine the in­noc­ence or guilt of the ac­cused after a hear­ing as dis­pas­sionate as the times will per­mit and upon a re­cord that will leave our rea­sons and motives clear’.”

The editors of the Daily Beast com­ment that “The joy is un­derstand­able, but to many out­sid­ers, un­attrac­tive. It end­or­ses what looks in­creasing­ly like a cold-blooded as­sas­sina­tion as the White House is now for­ced to admitthat Osama bin Laden was un­ar­med when he was shot twice in the head.”

In societ­ies that pro­fess some re­spect for law, sus­pects are apprehen­ded and brought to fair trial. I stress “sus­pects.” In June 2002, FBI head Robert Muell­er, in what the Was­hington Post de­scribed as “among his most de­tailed pub­lic com­ments on the origins of the at­tacks,” could say only that “in­ves­tigators be­lieve the idea of the Sept. 11 at­tacks on the World Trade Cent­er and Pen­tagon came from al Qaeda lead­ers in Afghanis­tan, the ac­tu­al plott­ing was done in Ger­many, and the fin­anc­ing came through the Uni­ted Arab Em­irates from sour­ces in Afghanis­tan…. We think the mas­terminds of it were in Afghanis­tan, high in the al Qaeda leadership.” What the FBI be­lieved and thought in June 2002 they didn’t know eight months ear­li­er, when Was­hington dis­mis­sed ten­tative of­f­ers by the Taliban (how seri­ous, we do not know) to extra­dite bin Laden if they were pre­sen­ted with evi­d­ence. Thus it is not true, as the Pre­sident claimed in his White House state­ment, that “We quick­ly lear­ned that the 9/11 at­tacks were car­ried out by al Qaeda.”

There has never been any rea­son to doubt what the FBI be­lieved in mid-2002, but that leaves us far from the proof of guilt re­quired in civilized societ­ies – and whatev­er the evi­d­ence might be, it does not war­rant mur­der­ing a sus­pect who could, it seems, have been eas­i­ly apprehen­ded and brought to trial. Much the same is true of evi­d­ence pro­vided since. Thus the 9/11 Com­miss­ion pro­vided ex­ten­sive cir­cumstan­ti­al evi­d­ence of bin Laden’s role in 9/11, based primari­ly on what it had been told about con­fess­ions by prison­ers in Guan­tanamo. It is doubt­ful that much of that would hold up in an in­depen­dent court, con­sider­ing the ways con­fess­ions were elicited. But in any event, the con­clus­ions of a con­gres­sional­ly aut­horized in­ves­tiga­tion, howev­er con­vinc­ing one finds them, plain­ly fall short of a sen­t­ence by a credib­le court, which is what shifts the cat­ego­ry of the ac­cused from sus­pect to con­vic­ted. There is much talk of bin Laden’s “con­fess­ion,” but that was a boast, not a con­fess­ion, with as much credibil­ity as my “con­fess­ion” that I won the Bos­ton marat­hon. The boast tells us a lot about his charact­er, but noth­ing about his re­spon­sibil­ity for what he re­gar­ded as a great ac­hieve­ment, for which he wan­ted to take credit.

Again, all of this is, trans­parent­ly, quite in­depen­dent of one’s judg­ments about his re­spon­sibil­ity, which seemed clear im­mediate­ly, even be­fore the FBI in­qui­ry, and still does.

It is worth add­ing that bin Laden’s re­spon­sibil­ity was re­cog­nized in much of the Mus­lim world, and con­dem­ned. One sig­nificant ex­am­ple is the dis­tin­guis­hed Lebanese cleric Sheikh Fad­lallah, great­ly re­spec­ted by Hiz­bollah and Shia groups general­ly, out­side Lebanon as well. He too had been tar­geted for as­sas­sina­tion: by a truck bomb out­side a mos­que, in a CIA-organized op­era­tion in 1985. He es­caped, but 80 oth­ers were kil­led, most­ly women and girls, as they left the mos­que – one of those in­numer­able crimes that do not enter the an­n­als of ter­ror be­cause of the fal­la­cy of “wrong agen­cy.” Sheikh Fad­lallah sharp­ly con­dem­ned the 9/11 at­tacks, as did many other lead­ing figures in the Mus­lim world, with­in the Jihadi move­ment as well. Among oth­ers, the head of Hiz­bollah, Sayyid Has­san Nas­rallah, sharp­ly con­dem­ned bin Laden and Jihadi ideology.

One of the lead­ing special­ists on the Jihadi move­ment, Fawaz Ger­ges, sug­gests that the move­ment might have been split at that time had the US ex­ploited the op­por­tun­ity in­stead of mobiliz­ing the move­ment, par­ticular­ly by the at­tack on Iraq, a great boon to bin Laden, which led to a sharp in­crease in ter­ror, as in­tel­lig­ence agen­cies had anti­cipated. That con­clus­ion was con­fir­med by the form­er head of Britain’s domes­tic in­tel­lig­ence agen­cy MI5 at the Chil­cot hear­ings in­ves­tigat­ing the background for the war. Con­firm­ing other an­alyses, she tes­tified that both British and US in­tel­lig­ence were aware that Sad­dam posed no seri­ous threat and that the in­vas­ion was li­ke­ly to in­crease ter­ror; and that the in­vas­ions of Iraq and Afghanis­tan had radicalized parts of a genera­tion of Mus­lims who saw the milita­ry ac­tions as an “at­tack on Islam.” As is often the case, secur­ity was not a high prior­ity for state ac­tion.

It might be in­struc­tive to ask our­selves how we would be rea­ct­ing if Iraqi com­man­dos lan­ded at Geor­ge W. Bush’s com­pound, as­sas­sinated him, and dum­ped his body in the At­lantic (after pro­p­er buri­al rites, of co­ur­se). Un­controver­sial­ly, he is not a “sus­pect” but the “de­cid­er” who gave the ord­ers to in­vade Iraq — that is, to com­mit the “sup­reme in­ter­nation­al crime dif­fer­ing only from other war crimes in that it con­tains with­in it­self the ac­cumulated evil of the whole” (quot­ing the Nurem­berg Tri­bun­al) for which Nazi crimin­als were han­ged: in Iraq, the hundreds of thousands of de­aths, mill­ions of re­fugees, de­struc­tion of much of the co­unt­ry and the nation­al heritage, and the mur­der­ous sec­tarian con­flict that has now spread to the rest of the re­g­ion. Equal­ly un­controver­sial­ly, these crimes vast­ly ex­ceed an­yth­ing attributed to bin Laden.

To say that all of this is un­controver­si­al, as it is, is not to imply that it is not de­nied. The ex­ist­ence of flat earth­ers does not chan­ge the fact that, un­controver­sial­ly, the earth is not flat. Similar­ly, it is un­controver­si­al that Stalin and Hitl­er were re­spon­sible for hor­rend­ous crimes, though loyal­ists deny it. All of this should, again, be too ob­vi­ous for com­ment, and would be, ex­cept in an at­mosphere of hyst­eria so ex­treme that it blocks ration­al thought.

Similar­ly, it is un­controver­si­al that Bush and as­sociates did com­mit the “sup­reme in­ter­nation­al crime,” the crime of aggress­ion, at least if we take the Nurem­berg Tri­bun­al serious­ly. The crime of aggress­ion was de­fined clear­ly en­ough by Just­ice Robert Jackson, Chief of Co­un­sel for the Uni­ted States at Nurem­berg, re­iterated in an aut­horitative Gener­al As­semb­ly re­solu­tion. An “aggres­sor,” Jackson pro­posed to the Tri­bun­al in his op­en­ing state­ment, is a state that is the first to com­mit such ac­tions as “In­vas­ion of its armed for­ces, with or with­out a de­clara­tion of war, of the ter­rito­ry of an­oth­er State….” No one, even the most ex­treme sup­port­er of the aggress­ion, de­n­ies that Bush and as­sociates did just that.

We might also do well to re­call Jackson’s eloquent words at Nurem­berg on the prin­ci­ple of uni­ver­sal­ity: “If cer­tain acts of viola­tion of treat­ies are crimes, they are crimes wheth­er the Uni­ted States does them or wheth­er Ger­many does them, and we are not pre­pared to lay down a rule of crimin­al con­duct against oth­ers which we would not be will­ing to have in­voked against us.” And el­sewhere: “We must never for­get that the re­cord on which we judge these de­fen­dants is the re­cord on which his­to­ry will judge us tomor­row. To pass these de­fen­dants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well.”

It is also clear that al­leged in­ten­tions are ir­relevant. Japanese fasc­ists ap­parent­ly did be­lieve that by ravag­ing China they were labor­ing to turn it into an “earth­ly para­d­ise.” We don’t know wheth­er Hitl­er be­lieved that he was de­fend­ing Ger­many from the “wild ter­ror” of the Poles, or was tak­ing over Czec­hoslovakia to pro­tect its popula­tion from ethnic con­flict and pro­vide them with the be­nefits of a super­ior cul­ture, or was sav­ing the glo­ries of the civiliza­tion of the Greeks from bar­barians of East and West, as his acolytes claimed (Mar­tin Heidegg­er). And it’s even con­ceiv­able that Bush and com­pany be­lieved that they were pro­tect­ing the world from de­struc­tion by Sad­dam’s nuc­lear weapons. All ir­relevant, though ar­dent loyal­ists on all sides may try to con­vin­ce them­selves ot­herw­ise.

We are left with two choices: eith­er Bush and as­sociates are guil­ty of the “sup­reme in­ter­nation­al crime” in­clud­ing all the evils that fol­low, crimes that go vast­ly be­yond an­yth­ing attributed to bin Laden; or else we de­clare that the Nurem­berg pro­ceed­ings were a farce and that the al­l­ies were guil­ty of judici­al murd­er. Again, that is en­tire­ly in­depen­dent of the ques­tion of the guilt of those char­ged: es­tablis­hed by the Nurem­berg Tri­bun­al in the case of the Nazi crimin­als, plausib­ly sur­mised from the out­set in the case of bin Laden.

A few days be­fore the bin Laden as­sas­sina­tion, Or­lando Bosch died peaceful­ly in Florida, where he re­sided along with his ter­ror­ist ac­complice Luis Posada Caril­les, and many oth­ers. After he was ac­cused of dozens of ter­ror­ist crimes by the FBI, Bosch was gran­ted a pre­siden­ti­al par­don by Bush I over the ob­jec­tions of the Just­ice De­part­ment, which found the con­clus­ion “in­es­cap­able that it would be pre­judici­al to the pub­lic in­terest for the Uni­ted States to pro­vide a safe haven for Bosch. ”The co­in­cid­ence of de­aths at once calls to mind the Bush II doctrine, which has “al­ready be­come a de facto rule of in­ter­nation­al re­la­tions,” ac­cord­ing to the noted Har­vard in­ter­nation­al re­la­tions special­ist Graham Al­lison. The doctrine re­vokes “the sovereignty of states that pro­vide sanctua­ry to ter­ror­ists,” Al­lison writes, re­ferr­ing to the pro­noun­ce­ment of Bush II that “those who har­bor ter­ror­ists are as guil­ty as the ter­ror­ists them­selves,” di­rec­ted to the Taliban. Such states, therefore, have lost their sovereignty and are fit tar­gets for bomb­ing and ter­ror; for ex­am­ple, the state that har­bored Bosch and his as­sociate — not to men­tion some rath­er more sig­nificant can­didates. When Bush is­sued this new “de facto rule of in­ter­nation­al re­la­tions,” no one seemed to notice that he was call­ing for in­vas­ion and de­struc­tion of the US and murd­er of its crimin­al pre­sidents.

None of this is pro­blematic, of co­ur­se, if we re­ject Just­ice Jackson’s prin­ci­ple of uni­ver­sal­ity, and adopt in­stead the prin­ci­ple that the US is self-immunized against in­ter­nation­al law and con­ven­tions — as, in fact, the govern­ment has frequent­ly made very clear, an im­por­tant fact, much too lit­tle un­derstood.

It is also worth think­ing about the name given to the op­era­tion: Op­era­tion Geronimo. The im­peri­al men­tal­ity is so pro­found that few seem able to per­ceive that the White House is glorify­ing bin Laden by call­ing him “Geronimo” — the lead­er of co­urage­ous re­sis­tance to the in­vad­ers who sought to con­sign his peo­ple to the fate of “that hap­less race of native Americans, which we are ex­ter­minat­ing with such mer­ciless and per­fidi­ous cruel­ty, among the hein­ous sins of this na­tion, for which I be­lieve God will one day bring [it] to jud­ge­ment,” in the words of the great grand strateg­ist John Quin­cy Adams, the in­tel­lectu­al architect of man­ifest de­stiny, long after his own con­tribu­tions to these sins had pas­sed. Some did com­prehend, not sur­prising­ly. The re­mnants of that hap­less race pro­tes­ted vigorous­ly. Choice of the name is re­minis­cent of the ease with which we name our­murd­er weapons after vic­tims of our crimes: Apac­he, Blackhawk. Tomahawk,… We might react dif­ferent­ly if the Luftwaf­fe were to call its fight­er planes “Jew” and “Gypsy”.

The ex­am­ples men­tioned would fall under the cat­ego­ry “American ex­cep­tional­ism,” were it not for the fact that easy sup­press­ion of one’s own crimes is vir­tual­ly ubiquit­ous among power­ful states, at least those that are not de­feated and for­ced to acknow­ledge rea­l­ity. Other cur­rent il­lustra­tions are too numer­ous to men­tion. To take just one, of great cur­rent sig­nifican­ce, con­sid­er Obama’s ter­ror weapons (drones) in Pakis­tan. Sup­pose that dur­ing the 1980s, when they were oc­cupy­ing Afghanis­tan, the Rus­sians had car­ried out tar­geted as­sas­sina­tions in Pakis­tan aimed at those who were fin­anc­ing, arm­ing and train­ing the in­sur­gents – quite pro­ud­ly and op­en­ly. For ex­am­ple, tar­get­ing the CIA sta­tion chief in Is­lamabad, who ex­plained that he “loved” the “noble goal” of his mis­s­ion: to “kill Soviet Sol­diers…not to li­berate Afghanis­tan.” There is no need to im­agine the rea­c­tion, but there is a cruci­al dis­tinc­tion: that was them, this is us.

What are the li­ke­ly con­sequ­ences of the kill­ing of bin Laden? For the Arab world, it will pro­bab­ly mean lit­tle. He had long been a fad­ing pre­s­ence, and in the past few months was ec­lipsed by the Arab Spr­ing. His sig­nifican­ce in the Arab world is cap­tured by the head­line in the New York Times for an op-ed by Mid­dle East/al Qaeda special­ist Gil­les Kepel; “Bin Laden was Dead Al­ready.” Kepel writes that few in the Arab world are li­ke­ly to care. That head­line might have been dated far ear­li­er, had the US not mobilized the Jihadi move­ment by the at­tacks on Afghanis­tan and Iraq, as sug­gested by the in­tel­lig­ence agen­cies and scholarship. As for the Jihadi move­ment, with­in it bin Laden was doubtless a venerated sym­bol, but ap­parent­ly did not play much more of a role for this “net­work of net­works,” as an­alysts call it, which un­der­take most­ly in­depen­dent op­era­tions.

The most im­mediate and sig­nificant con­sequ­ences are li­ke­ly to be in Pakis­tan. There is much dis­cuss­ion of Was­hington’s anger that Pakis­tan didn’t turn over bin Laden. Less is said about the fury in Pakis­tan that the US in­vaded their ter­rito­ry to carry out a polit­ical as­sas­sina­tion. Anti-American fer­vor had al­ready rea­ched a very high peak in Pakis­tan, and these events are li­ke­ly to ex­acer­bate it.

Pakis­tan is the most dan­ger­ous co­unt­ry on earth, also the world’s fas­test grow­ing nuc­lear power, with a huge ar­sen­al. It is held togeth­er by one st­able in­stitu­tion, the milita­ry. One of the lead­ing special­ists on Pakis­tan and its milita­ry, An­atol Li­ev­en, writes that “if the US ever put Pakis­tani sol­di­ers in a posi­tion where they felt that honour and pat­riot­ism re­quired them to fight America, many would be very glad to do so.” And if Pakis­tan col­lap­sed, an “ab­solute­ly in­evit­able re­sult would be the flow of large numb­ers of high­ly trained ex-soldiers, in­clud­ing ex­plosive ex­perts and en­gine­ers, to ex­trem­ist groups.” That is the prima­ry threat he sees of leakage of fis­sile materi­als to Jihadi hands, a hor­rend­ous even­tual­ity.

The Pakis­tani milita­ry have al­ready been pus­hed to the edge by US at­tacks on Pakis­tani sovereignty. One fac­tor is the drone at­tacks in Pakis­tan that Obama es­calated im­mediate­ly after the kill­ing of bin Laden, rubb­ing salt in the wounds. But there is much more, in­clud­ing the de­mand that the Pakis­tani milita­ry co­operate in the US war against the Afghan Taliban, whom the over­whelm­ing major­ity of Pakis­tanis, the milita­ry in­cluded, see as fight­ing a just war of re­sis­tance against an in­vad­ing army, ac­cord­ing to Li­ev­en.

The bin Laden op­era­tion could have been the spark that set off a con­flag­ra­tion, with dire con­sequ­ences, par­ticular­ly if the in­vad­ing force had been com­pel­led to fight its way out, as was anti­cipated. Per­haps the as­sas­sina­tion was per­ceived as an “act of ven­gean­ce,” as Robertson con­cludes. Whatev­er the motive was, it could hard­ly have been secur­ity. As in the case of the “sup­reme in­ter­nation­al crime” in Iraq, the bin Laden as­sas­sina­tion il­lustrates that secur­ity is often not a high prior­ity for state ac­tion, contra­ry to re­ceived doctrine.

There is much more to say, but even the most ob­vi­ous and elemen­ta­ry facts should pro­vide us with a good deal to think about.

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Former Head of IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn accuses Vladimir Putin of Being Part of a Plot to Have him Fired from his Post

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2011

Global Research, May 23, 2011

The former chief of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has reportedly accused the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, of being part of a plot to have him fired from his post.

­The British Daily Mail newspaper has claimed that before his arrest on sexual abuse charges, Strauss-Kahn voiced concerns that he could fall victim to a conspiracy.

In an interview with a French TV channel, Strauss-Kahn’s colleague, Claude Bartolone, said the ex-IMF chief told him that Russia and France were trying to stop him running for the French presidency.

“He had to watch out and be careful. They could have tapped the phone. He said the Russians, and notably Putin had allied themselves with France to try to have him fired from the IMF, to stop him running for the presidency. He said that by not leaving the IMF ‘cleanly’ he would no longer be able to announce his candidacy,” Bartolone told BFMTV on April 29.

Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has called the accusations entirely baseless.

“I’ve been secretary to Prime Minister Putin for the last three years and I’ve never heard such weird, such crazy, allegations that simply don’t have any sense in the background,” he stressed.

Peskov added that Bartolone’s confession had failed to become big news in France and now after one British had paper picked it up, he doesn’t believe that the story will have any continuation because “it’s something that has nothing to do even with a sense of humor.”

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is currently awaiting trial in New York.

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Protests continue in Spain as ruling Socialist Party suffers electoral defeat

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2011

by Paul Mitchell

Global Research, May 23, 2011

Tens of thousands of protestors continued to occupy Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and other centres in numerous cities and towns across Spain through the weekend, despite a government ban. Spain held regional and municipal elections on Sunday, which returned a big defeat for the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government of José Luis Zapatero.

The main driving force behind the PSOE’s defeat was the massive austerity measures imposed by the government, which have compounded the economic crisis. Early results showed the PSOE won less than 28 percent of the vote.

The biggest beneficiary of the collapse in support for the PSOE was its main rival, the right-wing Popular Party, which won 38 percent. The PP also supports the attack on the working class. The PSOE also lost control of the country’s second largest city, Barcelona, for the first time in more than 30 years, with a coalition including Catalan nationalists taking power.

“The results show that the Socialist Party has clearly lost today’s elections”, Zapatero said on Sunday. He blamed the economic crisis for the defeat, as if the policies of the PSOE government had nothing to do with the disastrous conditions facing Spanish workers and youth.

The elections were overshadowed by the protests, known as the M-15 movement, the day they were first called by social network and Internet groups. They have drawn a big response from younger workers, students, the unemployed and broad sectors of Spanish working people. Organisers have indicated that they will continue the protests past the election.

The protests were banned by various local electoral boards and the central election commission ahead of yesterday’s elections. Spanish law prohibits party political activity on election day and the preceding 24 hours, which are designated a “day of reflection”. This does not cover the M-15 protests, but has been the pretext for the ban. So far, the PSOE government has refrained from sending in police to enforce the ban, although there have been reports of police intimidation and violence.

The opposition right-wing Popular Party (PP) is demanding tough action to break up the “illegal” encampments that protesters have said will continue past the elections.

The majority of the demonstrators, dubbed “los indignados” [the angry ones], have been young people who have been hit especially hard hit by the crisis. Almost half of 18 to 25-year-old Spaniards are out of work, more than double the European Union average. Most of those that are able to find work end up on temporary contracts.

However, increasing numbers of families and older workers have joined the occupations in Madrid and other cities including Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza and Bilbao, in protest over unemployment, government austerity measures and a political system that serves only the banks and big business.

Those participating in the protests have said that they are hostile to all of Spain’s major political parties. Over the weekend, they urged people not to vote for either of Spain’s two main parties, the PSOE or the PP.

Puerta del Sol serves as one large assembly, with many discussions taking place over what to do after the elections. Some have called for the occupation to become permanent, and that the movement should be broadened by creating popular assemblies throughout Madrid. Several committees have been set up looking after food supplies, legal matters and communications.

The Puerta del Sol assembly has adopted a list of 16 demands, including the democratisation of the election process; the proclamation of basic rights, such as housing, health care and education; greater government control over banks and businesses; reduced military spending; and the renationalisation of privatised public enterprises.

One protester, Alejandro, told the BBC, “I hope this changes our situation. We have a right to regular jobs, a future and a decent salary, to more opportunities in life, the chance to get a house, to pay for that house without being enslaved, but especially a better quality of life”.

Carlos Gomez said, “We have no option but to vote for the two biggest parties in Spain, who are more or less the same. They are unable to solve any problem; it is just a nest of corruption. We are tired. In short, we want a working democracy. We want a change”.

Milena Almagro García added, “These protests are not only about unemployment. They are about the unfair political situation that exists in Spain. We protest against the political situation that allows more than 100 people who are accused of corruption across the country to stand in the next elections.

The demonstrations and the election results expose the vast gulf between the interests and sentiments of the majority of the population and the policies dictated by the financial elite and supported by all the official parties―in Spain and throughout Europe.

While the organising forces behind the protests have claimed to be apolitical, they do have a political perspective, namely that mass demonstrations by themselves can force the political system to change. This is false. As the European debt crisis enters a new stage, the ruling class is determined to enforce even more brutal austerity measures, which will increasingly require the abrogation of the most basic democratic rights.

The PSOE government has already imposed one of the most brutal programmes in all of Europe, introducing a €15 billion package of spending cuts that includes 5 to 15 percent cuts in civil servants’ salaries, attacks on pensions and reformed labour protection laws.

As part of the campaign to force deeper cuts, financial markets have sent Spanish interests rates to their highest level since January. Regional governments, which are responsible for one third of public spending, have carried out cuts in healthcare, education and other essential public services. There are indications that this week newly-elected regional governments will begin to reveal debts much higher than previously published, which will only escalate the pressure for more austerity.

To combat this drive, the working class needs its own organisations of struggle. Noticeably absent in the protests over the past week have been the official trade unions, which have worked closely with the PSOE in enforcing cuts and demobilising the mass resistance that erupted last year. These unions represent barely 14 percent of the workforce according to data from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

To carry forward a struggle, workers must build independent rank-and-file committees to unite all sections of the working class with unemployed youth.

Above all, a new political party must be built–on the basis of an uncompromising revolutionary and internationalist perspective. It is not only a question of protest, but of building a new leadership to fight for the socialist transformation of the economy in Spain, throughout Europe and internationally.

Global Research Articles by Paul Mitchell

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Does America have a Culture?

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2011

Global Research, May 24, 2011

The culture of the United States is said to be a youth culture, which is defined in terms of entertainment: sex, rock music or its current equivalent, violent video games, sports, and TV reality shows. This culture has transformed the country and appears on the verge of transforming the rest of the world. There are even indications that secularized Arab and Iranian youth can’t wait to be liberated and to partake of this culture of porn-rock.

America’s former culture–accountable government, rule of law and presumption of innocence, respect for others and for principles, and manners–has gone by the wayside. Many Americans, especially younger ones, are not aware of what they have lost, because they don’t know what they had.

This was brought home to me yet again by some reader responses to my recent columns in which I pointed out that Strauss-Kahn, the IMF director (now former) accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid, was denied the presumption of innocence. I pointed out that the legal principle of innocent until proven guilty was violated by the police and media, and that Strauss-Kahn was convicted in the media not only prior to trial but also prior to his indictment.

From readers’ responses I learned that there are people who do not know that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty by evidence in a public trial. As one wrote, “if he wasn’t guilty, he wouldn’t be charged.” Some thought that by “presumption of innocence” I was saying that Strauss-Kahn was innocent. I was accused of being a woman-hater and received feminist lectures. Some American women are more familiar with feminist mantras than they are with the legal principles that are the foundation of our society.

Many males also confused my defense of the presumption of innocence with a defense of Strauss-Kahn, or if they knew about “innocent until proven guilty,” didn’t care. Right-wingers wanted Strauss-Kahn out of the picture because he was the socialist party candidate likely to defeat the American puppet, Sarkozy, in the French presidential election. With Sarkozy, Washington finally has a French president who has abandoned all interest in an independent or semi-independent French foreign policy. Didn’t I realize that if we lost Sarkozy, the French might revert to not going along with our invasions, as they refused to do when we had to get Saddam Hussein? With Sarkozy, the French are doing our bidding in Libya. Why in the world did I think Strauss-Kahn and some silly doctrine like the presumption of innocence were more important than French support for our wars?

Many left-wingers were just as indifferent to a legal principle that protects the innocent. They wanted Strauss-Kahn’s blood, because he is a rich member of the establishment and as IMF director had made the poor in Greece, Ireland, and Spain pay for the mistakes of the rich. What did I mean, “presumption of innocence”? How could any member of the ruling establishment be innocent? One left-winger even wrote that I had “reverted to type,” and that my babbling about presumption of innocence proved that I was still a Reaganite defending the rich from the consequences of their crimes.

It evidently did not cause the feminist, the right-wing or the left-wing to wonder that if such a powerful member of the establishment, as they regard Strauss-Kahn to be, can be denied the presumption of innocence, what would be their fate?

Independent thought is not a concept with which very many Americans are familiar or comfortable. Most want to have their emotions stroked, to be told what they want to hear. They already know what they think. A writer’s job is to validate it, and if the writer doesn’t, he is, depending on the ideology of the reader, a misogynist, a pinko-liberal commie, or an operative for the fascist establishment. All will agree that he is a no good SOB.

As I wrote a while back, respect for truth has fallen and taken everything down with it.

Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Paul Craig Roberts

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The World Today: Exposing the Lies of Mainstream Media The mainstream media is owned by bankers and corporate kingpins

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2011

“Truth has to be repeated constantly, because Error also is being preached all the time, and not just by a few, but by the multitude.  In the Press and Encyclopaedias, in Schools and Universities, everywhere Error holds sway, feeling happy and comfortable in the knowledge of having Majority on its side.”   —Goethe

Dear Readers,

Thank you for visiting Global Research! We are reassured to know that you have come to this site because you are looking to find the truth, the REAL truth behind the “news”, to understand the political, social and economic forces shaping the world you live in.

Though Goethe made his insightful observation two hundred years ago, his words hold more meaning today than ever in history. Error can indeed be found throughout stories in the mainstream press, in “official reports” and coming from the very mouths of world leaders, many “democratically” elected. But what even Goethe could not have predicted is the broad extent to which these errors are knowingly, deceptively and insidiously woven into our daily news, effectively subverting the masses and keeping them blind and apathetic to the empirically-driven motives of the world’s elite.

If you are visiting this site, it is because you have realized that things aren’t “adding up”, that what world leaders and influential figures are telling us, as conveyed by mainstream media, does not accurately reflect the picture of the world today. You have seen that the only way to find the “truth” is to go to independent sources that aren’t funded and manipulated by corporate and political interests.

The aims of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and Global Research are to battle the tidal waves of misinformation and propaganda washing our minds on a daily basis. We have separated ourselves from the corporate-controlled mainstream news, whose only objective is to serve their corporate masters. We take no assistance from the major foundations such as Rockefeller, Ford, and MacArthur, who act as patrons (and thus pacifiers) of the alternative and critical voices challenging the forces of globalization.

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Disclosure and Deceit: Secrecy as the Manipulation of History, not its Concealment

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2011

by Dr. T. P. Wilkinson

Global Research, May 21, 2011

The declassification of official secrets is often seen as either a challenge or a prerequisite for obtaining accurate data on the history of political and economic events. Yet at the same time high government intelligence officials have said that their policy is one of ‘plausible deniability‘. Official US government policy for example is never to acknowledge or deny the presence of nuclear weapons anywhere its forces are deployed, especially its naval forces. The British have their ‘Official Secrets’ Act. When the Wikileaks site was launched in 2007 and attained notoriety for publication of infamous actions by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, this platform was heralded and condemned for its disclosures and exposures.

Julian Assange is quoted as saying that when he receives documents classified under the UK Official Secrets Act he responds in accordance with the letter of the law – since it is forbidden to withhold or destroy, his only option is to publish. The question remains for historians, investigators, and educated citizens: what is the real value of disclosures or declassification? Given the practice of plausible deniablity, does disclosure or declassification constitute proof, and if so by what criteria? Both facts and non-facts can be concealed or disclosed.

Information is not self-defining Ultimately there remain two questions: does the secret document (now public) really constitute the ‘secret’? What is the ‘secret’ for which we use the document to actually refer? Is secrecy the difference between the known and unknown, or the known and untold?

Some benefit can be found by borrowing theological concepts. We can distinguish between a mystery revealed and a supernatural truth which, by its very nature, lies above the finite intelligence. But a secret is something unknowable either by accident or on account of accessibility. I believe that the popularised form of disclosure embodied in Wikileaks should force us to distinguish between those beliefs we have about the nature of official action and the conduct of people working within those institutions and the data produced. Wikileaks is clearly a platform for publishing data but much of the response to these documents is more based on mystery than on secrecy. That is to say that the disclosures are treated as revelation in the religious sense – and not as discovery in the sense of scientia – knowledge. Why is this so? Wikileaks is described as a continuation of the ethical and social responsibility of journalism as an instrument to educate and inform the public – based on the principle that an informed public is essential to a democracy and self-governance. By collecting, collating and disclosing documents ‘leaked’ to it, Wikileaks also attacks what Assange calls the invisible government, the people and institutions who rule by concealing their activities from the people – and brings to light their wrongdoing.

There are two traditions involved here that partially overlap. In the US the prime examples are the ‘muckraking journalism’ originating in the so-called Progressive Era, spanning from 1890s to 1920s, and more recently the publication of the Pentagon Papers through Daniel Ellsberg. While liberals treat both of these examples favourably, their histories, however, are far more ambivalent than sentimentally presented. To understand this ambivalence, itself a sort of plausible deniability, it is necessary to sketch the history of journalism in the US – the emergence of an unnamed but essential political actor – and some of the goals of US foreign policy since the end of the 19th century. This very brief sketch offers what I call the preponderance of facticity – as opposed to an unimpeachable explanation for the overt and covert actions of the US.

First of all it is necessary to acknowledge that in 1886 the US Supreme Court endowed the modern business corporation with all the properties of citizenship in the US – a ruling reiterated with more vehemence this year by another Supreme Court decision. As of 1886, business corporations in the US had more civil rights than freed slaves or women. By the end of the First World War, the business corporation had eclipsed the natural person as a political actor in the US. By 1924 US immigration law and the actions of the FBI had succeeded in damming the flow of European radicalism and suppressing domestic challenges to corporate supremacy. Thus by the time Franklin Roosevelt was elected, the US had been fully constituted as a corporatist state. US government policy was thereafter made mainly by and for business corporations and their representatives. Second, professional journalism emerged from the conflict between partisan media tied to social movements and those tied to business. The first journalism school was founded in 1908 at the University of Missouri with money from newspaper baron Joseph Pulitzer. As in all other emerging professions at that time, it was claimed that uniform training within an academic curriculum would produce writers who were neutral, objective, and dispassionate – that is to say somehow scientific in their writing.

A professional journalist would not allow his or her writing to be corrupted by bribery or political allegiances. These professional journalists would work for commercial enterprises but be trained to produce value-free texts for publication.. The US has always refused to call itself an empire or to acknowledge that its expansion from the very beginning was imperial. The dogma of manifest destiny sought to resolve this contradiction by stipulating that domestic conquest was not imperial. Control of the Western hemisphere has always been defined as national security, not of asserting US domination. Likewise, it is impossible to understand the actions of the US government in Asia since 1910 without acknowledging that the US is an empire and recognising its imperial interests in the Asia–Pacific region. It is also impossible to understand the period called the Cold War without knowing that the US invaded the Soviet Union in 1918 with 13,000 troops along with some 40,000 British troops and thousands of troops recruited by the ‘West’ to support the Tsarist armies and fascist Siberian Republic. It is essential to bear these over-arching contextual points in mind when considering the value of classified US documents and their disclosure, whether by Wikileaks or Bob Woodward. It is essential to bear these points in mind because the value or the ambivalence of ‘leaks’ or declassification depends entirely on whether the data is viewed as ‘revelation’ or as mere scientific data to be interpreted.

Revelation and heresy For the most part the disclosures by Wikileaks have been and continue to be treated as ‘revelation’ and the disclosure itself as heresy. This is particularly the case in the batches of State Department cables containing diplomatic jargon and liturgy. The ‘revelation’ comprises the emotional response to scripture generated by members of the US foreign service and the confirmation this scripture appears to give to opinions held about the US – whether justified or not. Just as reading books and even the bible was a capital offence for those without ecclesiastical license in the high Middle Ages, the response of the US government is comprehensible. It is bound to assert that Wikileaks is criminal activity and to compel punishment. Yet there is another reason why the US government reaction is so intense. As argued above, the primary political actor in the US polity is the business corporation. In Europe and North America at least it is understood: (1) that the ultimate values for state action are those which serve the interests of private property; and (2) that the business corporation is the representative form of private property.

This in turn means that information rights are in fact property rights manifest as patents, copyrights, and trade or industrial secrets. Since the state is the guardian of the corporation, it argues that the disclosure of government documents should only be allowed where the government itself has surrendered some of its privacy rights. This is quite different from the arguments for feudal diplomatic privilege, even though business corporations have superseded princely states. The argument for state secrecy now is that the democratic state constituted by business corporations is obliged to protect the rights and privileges of those citizens as embodied in their private property rights – rights deemed to be even more absolute than those historically attributed to natural persons, if for no other reason than that corporations enjoy limited liability and immortality, unlike natural persons. When the US government says it is necessary for other states to treat Assange as an outlaw and Wikileaks as a criminal activity, it is appealing on one hand to the global corporate citizenry and on the other, asserting its role – not unlike the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages – as the sole arbiter of those rights and privileges subsumed by Democracy in the world. Many of those who lack a religious commitment to the American way of life have still recognised the appeal to privacy and ultimately to private property which are now deemed the highest values in the world – so that trade, the commerce in private property, takes precedence over every other human activity and supersedes even human rights, not to mention civil rights.

Ellsberg In 1971 Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, which began their publication. This leak was treated as a landmark, although it would take several years before the US withdrew its forces from Vietnam and many more before hostilities were formally ended. What then was the significance of the ‘leak’? The documents generally point to the failures of the military, omitting the role of the CIA almost entirely. Today it is still largely unknown that Ellsberg was working with the CIA in counter-insurgency programs in Vietnam. Did the Pentagon Papers thus serve the interests of plausible deniability – a disclosure of secrets designed not to reveal truth, but to conceal a larger truth by revealing smaller ones? On the other hand, the collection of essays, Dirty Work, edited by Philip Agee and Lou Wolf, showed how the identity of CIA officers could be deciphered from their official biographies, especially as published in the Foreign Service List and other government registers. This type of disclosure allows the competent researcher to recognise ‘real’ Foreign Service officers as opposed to CIA officers operating under diplomatic cover. Agee and his colleague Lou Wolf maintained that disclosure of CIA activities was not a matter of lifting secrets but of recognising the context in which disparate information has to be viewed to allow its interpretation.

To put it trivially: in order to find something you have to know the thing for which you are searching. In order to be meaningful, disclosures of intelligence information must explain that intelligence information seeks to deceive the US public. For example, the CIA and those in the multi-agency task forces under its control produced an enormous amount of reports and documentation to show what was being done to fulfil the official US policy objectives in Vietnam. One of these programs was called Rural Development. This CIA program was run ostensibly by the USAID and the State Department to support the economic and social development of the countryside. This policy was articulated in Washington to fit with the dominant ‘development’ paradigm – to package the US policy as aid and not military occupation. And yet, as Douglas Valentine shows in his book The Phoenix Program, Rural Development was a cover for counterinsurgency from the beginning. The Phoenix Program only became known in the US after 1971, and then only superficially. The information released to the US Congress and reported in the major media outlets lacked sufficient context to allow interpretation. There was so little context that the same people who worked in the Phoenix program in Vietnam as 20-year-olds have been able to continue careers operating the same kinds of programmes in other countries with almost no scrutiny.

Two people come to mind: John Negroponte, who is alleged to have provided support to death squads in Honduras during the US war against Nicaragua and later served as ambassador to occupied Iraq, began his foreign service career in Vietnam with one of the agencies instrumental in Phoenix. The other person died recently: Richard Holbrooke began his career with USAID in Vietnam, went on to advise the Indonesian dictatorship, went to manage the ‘diplomatic’ part of the US war in Yugoslavia and finally served as a kind of pro-consul for Central Asia with responsibility for the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. As the secret weapon in US imperial policy, the counterinsurgency or rural development or ‘surge’ policies of the US government never include an examination of the professionals who managed them. It used to be said among some critics that one could follow General Vernon Walters’ travel itinerary and predict military coups. But that was not something ‘leaked’ and it did not appear in the mainstream media analysis.

The illusion of objective neutrality So if much of what we see ‘leaked’ is gossip in the service of plausible deniability, what separates the important gossip from the trivial? I suggest it is a return to consciously interested, humanistic values in historical research. We have to abandon the idea that the perfect form of knowledge is embodied in the privilege of corporate ownership of ideas, and domination of the state. We also have to abandon the illusion of objective neutrality inherited from Positivism and Progressivism, with its exclusionary professionalism. Until such time as human beings can be restored to the centre of social, political and economic history we have to recognise the full consequences of the enfranchisement of the business corporation and the subordination of the individual to role of a mere consumer. If we take the business corporation, an irresponsible and immortal entity, endowed with absolute property rights and absolved of any liability for its actions or those of its officers and agents, as the subject of history it has become, then we have to disclose more than diplomatic cables. We have to analyse its actions just as historians have tried to understand the behaviour of princes and dynasties in the past. This is too rarely done and when often only in a superficial way. I would like to provide an example, a sketch if you will, of one such historical analysis, taking the business corporation and not the natural person as the focus of action.

In 1945, George Orwell referred to the threat of nuclear war between the West and the Soviet Union as a ‘cold war’. He made no reference to the 1918 invasion of the Soviet Union by British troops. In 1947, US Secretary of State Bernard Baruch gave a speech in South Carolina saying ‘Let us not be deceived: we are today in the midst of a cold war’. The speech had been written by a rich newspaperman named Herbert Swope. In 1947, George Kennan published his containment essay, ‘The Sources of Soviet Conduct’, in Foreign Affairs under the name ‘X’. In it he describes a supposed innate expansionist tendency of the Soviet Union – also no mention of the US invasion or the devastation of WWII, which virtually destroyed the Soviet Union’s manpower and industrial base. In April 1950, NSC 68 is published – classified top secret until 1975 – outlining the necessity for the US to massively rearm to assert and maintain its role as the world’s superpower. At the end of summer 1950, war breaks out in Korea. President Truman declared an emergency and gets UN Security Council approval for a war that lasts three years, killing at least 3 million Koreans – most of whom die as a result of US Air Force saturation bombing of Korea north of the 38th parallel. Truman proclaims that US intervention will be used to prevent the expansion of the Soviet Union or as Ronald Reagan put it then – Russian aggression. After being utterly routed by the army of North Korea, the US bombs its way to the Yalu only to be thrown back to the 38th parallel by China. In 1954, the US organises the overthrow of the Arbenz regime in Guatemala and begins its aid and covert intervention in Vietnam beginning a war that only ends in 1976. Meanwhile Britain suppresses the Malaysian independence movement. Between 1960 and 1968, nationalist governments have been overthrown in Indonesia, Congo, Ghana, Brazil. Cuba is the great surprise amidst the literally hundreds of nationalist, anti-colonial movements and governments suppressed by the US.

William Blum has catalogued the enormous number of overt and covert interventions by the US in his book Killing Hope. The amazing thing about much of what Blum compiled is that it was not ‘secret’. It was simply not reported or misreported. Blum makes clear – what should be obvious – that the Soviet Union was not a party to a single war or coup from 1945 to 1989 and that the US government knew this. Much of this early action took place when John Foster Dulles was US Secretary of State and his brother was head of the CIA. The Dulles brothers were intimately connected to corporations they represented in their capacity as ‘white shoe’ lawyers in New York. In fact the founder of the OSS, the CIA’s predecessor, William Donovan, was also a corporate lawyer both before and after his service in the OSS. In other words the people who have commanded these foreign policy instruments have almost without exception been the direct representatives of major US business corporations. In each case the public pretext has been the threat of communism or Soviet expansion. Yet the only consistent quality all of these actions had was the suppression of governments that restricted the activities of US or UK corporations. Of course, communism has long been merely a term for any opposition to the unrestricted rights of business corporations.

One could say people like Donovan or Dulles were seconded to government office. However, the direct financial benefit that someone like Dulles obtained when he succeeded in deposing Arbenz in Guatemala came from his shareholding in United Fruit, the instigator and financial backer of the CIA co-ordinated coup. Perhaps the more accurate interpretation of this secret activity is that the business corporation, which previously employed law firms and Pinkertons, had shifted the burden of implementing corporate foreign policy to the taxpayer and the state. Now the interest of the US in Latin America has been well researched and documented. But the persistence of the Vietnam War and the silence about the Korean War have only been matched by the virtual absence of debate about the overthrow of Sukarno and the Philippine insurgency. The Philippines became a footnote in the controversy about US torture methods in Iraq and elsewhere as it was shown that the ‘water cure’ was applied rigorously by American troops when suppressing the Philippine independence movement at the beginning of the 20th century.

Lack of context not knowledge The study of each of these Asian countries – and one can add the so-called Golden Triangle; and I would argue Afghanistan now – has been clouded not by lack of evidence or documentation but by lack of context. If the supposed threat posed by communism, especially Soviet communism is taken at face value – as also reiterated in innumerable official documents both originally public and originally confidential – then the US actions in Asia seem like mere religious fanaticism. The government officials and military and those who work with them are so indoctrinated that they will do anything to oppose communism in whatever form. Thus even respected scholars of these wars will focus on the delusions or information deficits or ideological blinders of the actors. This leads to a confused and incoherent perception of US relations in Asia and the Pacific. The virtual absence of any coherent criticism of the Afghanistan War, let alone the so-called War on Terror, is symptomatic not of inadequate information, leaked or otherwise. It is a result of failure to establish the context necessary for evaluating the data available. It should not surprise anyone that ‘counter-terror’ practices by US Forces are ‘discovered’ in Afghanistan or Iraq, if the professional careers of the theatre and field commanders (in and out of uniform) are seriously examined.

Virtually all those responsible for fighting the war in Central Asia come from Special Operations/CIA backgrounds. That is what they have been trained to do. If we shift our attention for a moment to the economic basis of this region, it has been said that the war against drugs is also being fought there. However, this is counterfactual. Since the 1840s the region from Afghanistan to Indochina has been part of what was originally the British opium industry. China tried to suppress the opium trade twice leading to war with Britain – wars China lost. The bulk of the Hong Kong banking sector developed out of the British opium trade protected by the British army and Royal Navy. Throughout World War II and especially the Vietnam War the opium trade expanded to become an important economic sector in Southern Asia – under the protection of the secret services of the US, primarily the CIA. Respected scholars have documented this history to the present day. However it does not appear to play any role in interpreting the policies of the US government whether publicly or confidentially documented. Is it because, as a senior UN official reported last year, major parts of the global financial sector – headquartered in New York and London – were saved by billions in drug money in 2008? Does the fact that Japan exploited both Korea and Vietnam to provide cheap food for its industrial labour force have any bearing on the US decision to invade those countries when its official Asia policy was to rebuild Japan as an Asian platform for US corporations – before China became re-accessible (deemed lost to the Communists in 1948)? Did the importance of Korean tungsten for the US steel industry contribute to the willingness of people like Preston Goodfellow, a CIA officer in Korea, to introduce a right-wing Korean to rule as a dictator of the US occupied zone? Is there continuity between Admiral Dewey’s refusal to recognise the Philippine Republic after Spain’s defeat – because the 1898 treaty with Spain ceded the archipelago to the US – and the refusal of General Hodge to recognise the Korean People’s Republic in Seoul when he led the occupation of Korea in 1945? As John Pilger suggests, were the million people massacred by Suharto with US and UK support a small price to pay for controlling the richest archipelago in the Pacific? Was the Pol Pot regime not itself a creation of the US war against Vietnam – by other means?

Is it an accident that while the US was firmly anchored in Subic Bay, armed and funded Jakarta, occupied Japan and half of Korea, that the US was prepared to bomb the Vietnamese nationalists ‘into the Stone Age’? It only makes sense if the US is understood as an empire and its corporate interests are taken seriously when researching the history of the US attempts to create and hold an Asian empire. The resistance to this perception can be explained and it is not because of an impenetrable veil of secrecy. It is not because of the accidentally or inaccessibly unknown. Rather it is because US policy and practice in the world remains a ‘mystery’, a supernatural truth, one that of its very nature lies above the finite intelligence. The quasi-divine status of the universal democracy for which the USA is supposed to stand is an obstacle of faith.

Engineering consent In the twentieth century two conflicting tendencies can be identified. The first was the emergence of mass democratic movements. The second was the emergence of the international business corporation. When the Great War ended in 1918, the struggle between these two forces crystallised in the mass audience or consumer on one hand and the mass production and communication on the other. As Edward Bernays put it: ‘This is an age of mass production. In the mass production of materials a broad technique has been developed and applied to their distribution. In this age too there must be a technique for the mass distribution of ideas.’ In his book, Propaganda, he wrote ‘The conscious and intelligent manipulation of organised habits and opinions of the masses…’ was necessary in a democracy, calling that ‘invisible government’.

Like his contemporary Walter Lippmann, a journalist, he believed that democracy was a technique for ‘engineering the consent’ of the masses to those policies and practices adopted by the country’s elite – the rulers of its great business corporations. By the 1980s the state throughout the West – and after 1989 in the former Soviet bloc – was being defined only by ‘business criteria’, e.g. efficiency, profitability, cost minimisation, shareholder value, consumer satisfaction, etc. Political and social criteria such as participatory rights or income equity or equality, provision of basic needs such as education, work, housing, nutrition, healthcare on a universal basis had been transformed from citizenship to consumerism. The individual lost status in return for means tested access to the ‘market’. In order for the state to function like a business it had to adopt both the organisational and ethical forms of the business corporation – a non-democratic system, usually dictatorial, at best operating as an expert system. As an extension of the property-holding entities upon which it was to be remodelled, the state converted its power into secretive, jealous, and rigid hierarchies driven by the highest ethical value of the corporation – profit.

Journalists and ‘corporate stenographers’ While historical research should not be merely deductive, it is dependent on documents. The veracity of those documents depends among other things on authenticity, judgements as to the status, knowledge or competence of the author, the preponderance of reported data corresponding to data reported elsewhere or in other media. A public document is tested against a private or confidential document – hence the great interest in memoirs, diaries and private correspondence. There is an assumption that the private document is more sincere or even reliable than public documents. This is merely axiomatic since there is no way to determine from a document itself whether its author lied, distorted or concealed in his private correspondence, too. Discrepancies can be explained in part by accepting that every author is a limited informant or interpreter. The assumptions about the integrity of the author shape the historical evaluation. In contemporary history – especially since the emergence of industrial-scale communications – the journalist has become the model and nexus of data collection, author, analyst, and investigator. Here the journalist is most like a scholar. The journalist is also a vicarious observer.

The journalist is supposed to share precisely those attributes of the people to whom or about whom he reports. This has given us the plethora of reality TV, talk shows, embedded reporters, and the revolving door between media journalists and corporate/state press officers. In the latter the journalist straddles the chasm between salesman and consumer. This is the role that the Creel Committee and the public relations industry learned to exploit. The journalist George Creel called his memoir of the Committee on Public Information he chaired – formed by Woodrow Wilson to sell US entry into World War I – How We Advertised America. The campaign was successful in gaining mass support for a policy designed to assure that Britain and France would be able to repay the billions borrowed from J. P. Morgan & Co. to finance their war against Germany and seize the Mesopotamian oilfields from the Ottoman Empire. Industrial communications techniques were applied to sell the political product of the dominant financial and industrial corporations of the day. The professional journalist, freed from any social movement or popular ideology, had already become a mercenary for corporate mass media.

The profession eased access to secure employment and to the rich and powerful. The journalists’ job was to produce ideas for mass distribution – either for the state or for the business corporation. Supporting private enterprise was at the very least a recognition that one’s job depended on the media owner. Editorial independence meant writers and editors could write whatever they pleased as long as it sold and did not challenge the economic or political foundation of the media enterprise itself. In sum the notion of the independent, truth-finding, investigative journalist is naïve at best. We must be careful to distinguish between journalists and what John Pilger has called ‘corporate stenographers’. This does not mean that no journalists supply us with useful information or provide us access to meaningful data. It means that journalism, as institution, as praxis, is flawed – because it too is subordinated to the business corporation and its immoral imperatives. Wikileaks takes as its frame of reference the journalism as it emerged in the Positivist – Progressive Era – a profession ripe with contradictions, as I have attempted to illustrate.

Were Wikileaks to fulfil that Positivist–Progressive model, it would still risk overwhelming us with the apparently objective and unbiased data – facts deemed to stand for themselves. Without a historical framework – and I believe such a framework must also be humanist – the mass of data produced or collated by such a platform as Wikileaks may sate but not nourish us. We have to be responsible for our interpretation. We can only be responsible however when we are aware of the foundations and framework for the data we analyse. The deliberate choice of framework forces us to be conscious of our own values and commitments. This stands in contrast to a hypothetically neutral, objective, or non-partisan foundation that risks decaying into opportunism – and a flood of deceit from which no mountain of disclosure can save us.

Global Research Articles by T. P. Wilkinson

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Imperialism: Bankers, Drug Wars and Genocide Mexico’s Descent in the Inferno

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2011

by Prof. James Petras

Global Research, May 19, 2011

In May 2011, Mexican investigators uncovered another mass clandestine grave with dozens of mutilated corpses; bringing the total number of victims to 40,000 killed since 2006 when the Calderon regime announced its “war on drug traffickers”. Backed by advisers, agents and arms, the White House has been the principal promotor of a ‘war’ that has totally decimated Mexico ’s society and economy.

If Washington has been the driving force for the regime’s war, Wall Street banks have been the main instruments ensuring the profits of the drug cartels. Every major US bank has been deeply involved in laundering hundreds of billions of dollars in drug profits, for the better part of the past decade.

Mexico ’s descent into this inferno has been engineered by the leading US financial and political institutions, each supporting ‘one side or the other’ in the bloody “total war” which spares no one, no place and no moment in time. While the Pentagon arms the Mexican government and the US Drug Enforcement Agency enforces the “military solution”, the biggest US banks receive, launder and transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to the drug lords’ accounts, who then buy modern arms, pay private armies of assassins and corrupt untold numbers of political and law enforcement officials on both sides of the border.

Mexico’s Descent in the Inferno

Everyday scores, if not hundreds, of corpses – appear in streets and or are found in unmarked graves; dozens are murdered in their homes, cars, public transport, offices and even hospitals; known and unknown victims in the hundreds are kidnapped and disappear; school children, parents, teachers, doctors and businesspeople are seized in broad daylight and held for ransom or murdered in retaliation. Thousands of migrant workers are kidnapped, robbed, ransomed, murdered and evidence is emerging that some are sold into the illegal ‘organ trade’. The police are barricaded in their commissaries; the military, if and when it arrives, takes out its frustration on entire cities, shooting more civilians than cartel soldiers. Everyday life revolves around surviving the daily death toll; threats are everywhere, the armed gangs and military patrols fire and kill with virtual impunity. People live in fear and anger.

The Free Trade Agreement: The Sparks that lit the Inferno

In the late 1980’s, Mexico was in crisis, but the people chose a legal way out: they elected a President, Cuahtemoc Cardenas, on the basis of his national program to promote the economic revitalization of agriculture and industry. The Mexican elite, led by Carlos Salinas of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) chose otherwise and subverted the election: The electorate was denied its victory; the peaceful mass protests were ignored. Salinas and subsequent Mexican presidents vigorously pursued a free trade agreement (NAFTA) with the US and Canada , which rapidly drove millions of Mexican farmers, ranchers and small business people into bankruptcy. Devastation led to the flight of millions of immigrant workers. Rural movements of debtors flourished and ebbed, were co-opted or repressed. The misery of the legal economy contrasted with the burgeoning wealth of the traffickers of drugs and people, which generated a growing demand for well-paid armed auxiliaries as soldiers for the cartels. The regional drug syndicates emerged out of the local affluence.

In the new millennium, popular movements and a new electoral hope arose: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). By 2006 a vast peaceful electoral movement promised substantial social and economic reforms to ‘integrate millions of disaffected youth’. In the parallel economy, the drug cartels were expanding and benefiting from the misery of millions of workers and peasants marginalized by the Mexican elite, who had plundered the public treasury, speculated in real estate, robbed the oil industry and created enormous privatized monopolies in the communication and banking sectors.

In 2006, millions of Mexican voters were once again denied their electoral victory: The last best hope for a peaceful transformation was dashed. Backed by the US Administration, Felipe Calderon stole the election and proceeded to launch the “War on Drug Traffickers” strategy dictated by Washington .

The War Strategy Escalates the Drug War: The Banking Crises Deepens the Ties with Drug Traffickers

The massive escalation of homicides and violence in Mexico began with the declaration of a war on the drug cartels by the fraudulently elected President Calderon, a policy pushed initially by the Bush Administration and subsequently strongly backed by the Obama – Clinton regime. Over 40,000 Mexican soldiers filled the streets, towns and barrios – violently assaulting citizens – especially young people. The cartels retaliated by escalating their armed assaults on police. The war spread to all the major cities and along the major highways and rural roads; murders multiplied and Mexico descended further into a Dantesque inferno. Meanwhile, the Obama regime ‘reaffirmed’ its support for a militarist solution on both sides of the border: Over 500,000 Mexican immigrants were seized and expelled from the US ; heavily armed border patrols multiplied. Cross border gun sales grew exponentially .The US “market” for Mexican manufactured goods and agricultural products shrank, further widening the pool for cartel recruits while the supply of high powered weapons increased. White House gun and drug policies strengthened both sides in this maniacal murderous cycle: The US government armed the Calderon regime and the American gun manufacturers sold guns to the cartels through both legal and underground arms sales. Steady or increasing demand for drugs in the US – and the grotesque profits derived from trafficking and sales— remained the primary driving force behind the tidal wave of violence and societal disintegration in Mexico .

Drug profits, in the most basic sense, are secured through the ability of the cartels to launder and transfer billions of dollars through the US banking system. The scale and scope of the US banking-drug cartel alliance surpasses any other economic activity of the US private banking system. According to US Justice Department records, one bank alone, Wachovia Bank (now owned by Wells Fargo), laundered $378.3 billion dollars between May 1, 2004 and May 31, 2007 (The Guardian, May 11, 2011). Every major bank in the US has served as an active financial partner of the murderous drug cartels – including Bank of America, Citibank, and JP Morgan, as well as overseas banks operating out of New York , Miami and Los Angeles , as well as London .

While the White House pays the Mexican state and army to kill Mexicans suspected of drug trafficking, the US Justice Department belatedly slaps a relatively small fine on the major US financial accomplice to the murderous drug trade, Wachovia Bank, spares its bank officials from any jail time and allows major cases to lapse into dismissal.

The major agency of the US Treasury involved in investigating money laundering, the Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, deliberately ignored the blatant collaboration of US banks with drug terrorists, concentrating almost their entire staff and resources on enforcing sanctions against Iran . For seven years, Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey used his power as head of the Department for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence to pursue Israel ’s phony “war on terrorism” against Iran , rather than shut down Wachovia’s money-laundering operations with the Mexican drug terrorists. In this period of time an estimated 40,000 Mexican civilian have been killed by the cartels and the army.

Without US arms and financial services supporting both the illegitimate Mexican regimes and the drug cartels – there could be no “drug war”, no mass killings and no state terror. The simple acts of stopping the flood of cheap subsidized US agriculture products into Mexico and de-criminalizing the use and purchase of cocaine in the US would dry up the pool of ‘cartel soldiers’ from the bankrupted Mexican peasantry and the cut back the profits and demand for illegal drugs in the US market.

The Drug Traffickers, the Banks and the White House

If the major US banks are the financial engines which allow the billion dollar drug empires to operate, the White House, the US Congress and the law enforcement agencies are the basic protectors of these banks. Despite the deep and pervasive involvement of the major banks in laundering hundreds of billions of dollars in illicit funds, the “court settlements” pursued by US prosecutors have led to no jail time for the bankers. One court’s settlement amounted to a fine of $50 million dollars, less than 0.5% of one of the banks (the Wachovia/Wells Fargo bank) $12.3 billion profits for 2009 (The Guardian, May 11, 2011). Despite the death of tens of thousands of Mexican civilians, US executive branch directed the DEA, the federal prosecutors and judges to impose such a laughable ‘punishment’ on Wachovia for its illegal services to the drug cartels. The most prominent economic officials of the Bush and Obama regimes, including Summers, Paulson, Geithner, Greenspan, Bernacke et al, are all long term associates, advisers and members of the leading financial houses and banks implicated in laundering the billions of drug profits.

Laundering drug money is one of the most lucrative sources of profit for Wall Street; the banks charge hefty commissions on the transfer of drug profits, which they then lend to borrowing institutions at interest rates far above what – if any – they pay to drug trafficker depositors. Awash in sanitized drug profits, these US titans of the finance world can easily buy their own elected officials to perpetuate the system.

Even more important and less obvious is the role of drug money in the recent financial meltdown, especially during its most critical first few weeks.

According to the head of United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, “In many instances, drug money (was)… currently the only liquid investment capital…. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor…interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities… (there were) signs that some banks were rescued in that way.” (Reuters, January 25,2009. US edition). Capital flows from the drug billionaires were key to floating Wachovia and other leading banks. In a word: the drug billionaires saved the capitalist financial system from collapse!

Conclusion

By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, it has become clear that capital accumulation, at least in North America, is intimately linked to generalized violence and drug trafficking. Because capital accumulation is dependent on financial capital, and the latter is dependent on the industry profits from the multi-hundred-billion dollar drug trade, the entire ensemble is embedded in the ‘total war’ over drug profits. In times of deep crises the very survival of the US financial system – and through it, the world banking system – is linked to the liquidity of the drug “industry”.

At the most superficial level the destruction of Mexican and Central American societies – encompassing over 100 million people – is a result of a conflict between drug cartels and the political regimes of the region. At a deeper level there is a multiplier or “ripple effect” related to their collaboration: the cartels draw on the support of the US banks to realize their profits; they spend hundreds of millions on the US arms industry and others to secure their supplies, transport and markets; they employ tens of thousands of recruits for their vast private armies and civilian networks and they purchase the compliance of political and military officials on both sides of the borders

For its part, the Mexican government acts as a conduit for US Pentagon/Federal police, Homeland Security, drug enforcement and political apparatuses prosecuting the ‘war’, which has put Mexican lives, property and security at risk. The White House stands at the strategic center of operations – the Mexican regime serves as the front-line executioners.

On one side of the “war on drugs” are the major Wall Street banks; on the other side, the White House and its imperial military strategists and in the ‘middle’ are 90 million Mexicans and 40,000 murder victims and counting.

Relying on political fraud to impose economic deregulation in the 1990’s (neo-liberalism), the US policies led directly to the social disintegration, criminalization and militarization of the current decade. The sophisticated narco-finance economy has now become the most advanced stage of neo-liberalism. When the respectable become criminals, the criminals become respectable.

The issue of genocide in Mexico has been determined by the empire and its “knowing” bankers and cynical rulers.

Global Research Articles by James Petras

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