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Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

US military deaths in Afghanistan hit 2,000

Posted by Admin on October 1, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/us-military-deaths-afghanistan-hit-2-000-063934010.html

By PATRICK QUINN | Associated Press – 3 hrs ago

FILE– In this file photograph made on July 29, 2010, upon landing after a helicopter rescue mission, Tech. Sgt. Jeff Hedglin, right, an Air Force Pararescueman, or PJ, drapes an American flag over the remains of the first of two U.S. soldiers killed minutes earlier in an IED attack, assisted by fellow PJs, Senior Airman Robert Dieguez, center, and 1st Lt. Matthew Carlisle, in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan have surpassed 2,000, a grim reminder that a war which began nearly 11 years ago shows no signs of slowing down despite an American decision to begin the withdrawal of most of its combat forces. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The killing of an American serviceman in an exchange of fire with allied Afghan soldiers pushed U.S. military deaths in the war to 2,000, a cold reminder of the perils that remain after an 11-year conflict that now garners little public interest at home.

The toll has climbed steadily in recent months with a spate of attacks by Afghan army and police — supposed allies — against American and NATO troops. That has raised troubling questions about whether countries in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan will achieve their aim of helping the government in Kabul and its forces stand on their own after most foreign troops depart in little more than two years.

“The tally is modest by the standards of war historically, but every fatality is a tragedy and 11 years is too long,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “All that is internalized, however, in an American public that has been watching this campaign for a long time. More newsworthy right now are the insider attacks and the sense of hopelessness they convey to many. “

Attacks by Afghan soldiers or police — or insurgents disguised in their uniforms — have killed 52 American and other NATO troops so far this year.

“We have to get on top of this. It is a very serious threat to the campaign,” the U.S. military’s top officer, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said about the insider threat.

The top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, was blunter.

“I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you,” Allen told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday. “It reverberates everywhere across the United States. You know, we’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.”

The insider attacks are considered one of the most serious threats to the U.S. exit strategy from the country. In its latest incarnation, that strategy has focused on training Afghan forces to take over security nationwide — allowing most foreign troops to go home by the end of 2014.

As part of that drawdown, the first 33,000 U.S. troops withdrew by the end of September, leaving 68,000 still in Afghanistan. A decision on how many U.S. troops will remain next year will be taken after the American presidential elections. NATO currently has 108,000 troops in Afghanistan — including U.S. forces — down from nearly 150,000 at its peak last year.

The program to train and equip 350,000 Afghan policemen and soldiers has cost the American taxpayer more than $22 billion in the past three years.

The most recent attack came just days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said most U.S. and coalition combat units in Afghanistan returned to their practice of partnering with Afghan forces, nearly two weeks after the top U.S. commander put restrictions on such cooperation.

Like so many other deaths in Afghanistan, the latest were shrouded in confusion and conflicting accounts.

On Sunday, U.S. officials confirmed the deaths of two Americans, a service member and a civilian contractor killed late Saturday.

The fighting started when insurgents attacked a checkpoint set up by U.S. forces in eastern Wardak province, said Shahidullah Shahid, a provincial government spokesman. He said the insurgents apparently used mortars in the attack. The Americans thought they were under attack from their allies at a nearby Afghan army checkpoint and fired on it. The Afghan soldiers returned fire, Shahid said.

The Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman said the shooting broke out as a result of a “misunderstanding” while ISAF forces were on patrol near an Afghan army checkpoint.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, commonly referred to as ISAF, gave a different account of the fighting in Sayd Abad district.

“After a short conversation took place between (Afghan army) and ISAF personnel, firing occurred which resulted in the fatal wounding of an ISAF soldier and the death of his civilian colleague,” the coalition said in a statement. It said the three Afghan soldiers died “in an ensuing exchange of fire.”

NATO did not say whether it considered this an “insider” attack on foreign forces by Afghan allies.

In Washington, Pentagon press secretary George Little said 2,000 deaths is one of the “arbitrary milestones defined by others ” that the U.S. administration does not mark.

“We honor all courageous Americans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan to make the American people more secure,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that America is safer because of all of those who have served in this war, including our fallen heroes.”

In addition to the 2,000 Americans killed since the Afghan war began on Oct. 7, 2001, at least 1,190 more coalition troops from other countries have also died, according to iCasualties.org, an independent organization that tracks the deaths.

According to the Afghanistan index kept by Brookings, about 40 percent of the American deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices. The majority of those were after 2009, when President Barack Obama ordered a surge that sent in 33,000 additional troops to combat heightened Taliban activity. The surge brought the total number of American troops to 101,000, the peak for the entire war.

According to Brookings, hostile fire was the second most common cause of death, accounting for nearly 31 percent of Americans killed.

Tracking deaths of Afghan civilians is much more difficult. According to the U.N., 13,431 civilians were killed in the Afghan conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began keeping statistics, and the end of August. Going back to the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, most estimates put the number of Afghan civilian deaths in the war at more than 20,000.

In recent years, some of those casualties have generated a great deal of criticism from President Hamid Karzai and changed the way NATO forces carry out airstrikes. The overwhelming majority of civilian casualties are caused by insurgents — with the United Nations blaming them for more than 80 percent of the deaths and NATO putting that figure at more than 90 percent.

The number of American dead reflects an Associated Press count of those members of the armed services killed inside Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion began. Some other news organizations use a count that also includes those killed outside Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the global anti-terror campaign led by then-President George W. Bush.

The 2001 invasion targeted al-Qaida and its Taliban allies shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, which claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

Victory in Afghanistan seemed to come quickly. Kabul fell within weeks, and the hardline Taliban regime was toppled with few U.S. casualties.

But the Bush administration’s shift toward war with Iraq left the Western powers without enough resources on the ground, so by 2006 the Taliban had regrouped into a serious military threat.

Obama deployed more troops to Afghanistan, and casualties increased sharply in the last several years. But the American public grew weary of having its military in a perpetual state of conflict, especially after the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq at the end of last year. That war, which began with a U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein, cost the lives of nearly 4,500 U.S. troops, more than twice as many as have died in Afghanistan so far.

Although Obama has pledged that most U.S. combat troops will leave by the end of 2014, American, NATO and allied troops are still dying in Afghanistan at a rate of one a day.

Even with 33,000 American troops back home, the U.S.-led coalition will still have 108,000 troops — including 68,000 from the U.S. — fighting in Afghanistan at the end of this year. Many of those will be training the Afghan National Security Forces that are to replace them.

“There is a challenge for the administration,” O’Hanlon said, “to remind people in the face of such bad news why this campaign requires more perseverance.”

___

Associated Press writers Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez in Kabul and researcher Monika Mathour in Washington contributed to this report.

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The Globalization of War: The “Military Roadmap” to World War III ONLINE INTERACTIVE E-READER

Posted by Admin on December 20, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28254

by Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham

Global Research, December 18, 2011

Note to Readers: Remember to bookmark this page for future reference.
Please Forward the E-Reader far and wide. Post it on Facebook.

[scroll down for E-Reader’s Table of Contents]

GLOBAL RESEARCH ONLINE INTERACTIVE E-READER No.  2


The Globalization of War

The “Military Roadmap” to World War III 

Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham (Editors)

December 2011

INTRODUCTION

[scroll down for Reader’s Table of Contents]

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest.

The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

The concept of the “Long War” has characterized US military doctrine since the end of World War II. The broader objective of global military dominance in support of an imperial project was first formulated under the Truman administration in the late 1940s at the outset of the Cold War.

In September 1990, some five weeks after Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait, US President and Commander in Chief George Herbert Walker Bush delivered a historical address to a joint session of the US Congress and the Senate in which he proclaimed a New World Order emerging from the rubble of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union.

Bush Senior had envisaged a world of “peaceful international co-operation”, one which was no longer locked into the confrontation between competing super powers, under the shadow of the doctrine of  “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) which had characterized the Cold War era.

George H Walker Bush addressed a Joint Session
of the US Congress and the Senate, September 1990

Bush declared emphatically at the outset of what became known as “the post-Cold War era” that:

“a new partnership of nations has begun, and we stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times… a new world order can emerge: A new era freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, east and west, north and south, can prosper and live in harmony.”

Of course, speeches by American presidents are often occasions for cynical platitudes and contradictions that should not be taken at face value. After all, President Bush was holding forth on international law and justice only months after his country had invaded Panama in December 1989 causing the deaths of several thousand citizens – committing crimes comparable to what Saddam Hussein would be accused of and supposedly held to account for. Also in 1991, the US and its NATO allies went on to unleash, under a “humanitarian” mantle, a protracted war against Yugoslavia, leading to the destruction, fragmentation and impoverishment of an entire country.

Nevertheless, it is instructive to use Bush Senior’s slanted vision of a “New World Order” as a reference point for how dramatically the world has changed in the intervening 20 years of the so-called post-Cold War era, and in particular how unilaterally degenerate the contemporary international conduct of the US has become under the Clinton, G. W. Bush Junior and Obama administrations.

Bush Senior’s “promise” of world peace has opened up, in the wake of the Cold War, an age of continuous warfare accompanied by a process of economic dislocation, social devastation and environmental degradation.

In a bitter irony, this concept of peaceful international co-operation and partnership was used as a pretext to unleash The Gulf War, which consisted in  “defending the sovereignty” of Kuwait and “upholding international law” following the Iraqi 1990 invasion.

Global Warfare

We are dealing with a global military agenda, namely “Global Warfare”. Far from a world of peaceful cooperation, we are living in a dystopian world of permanent wars – wars that are being waged in flagrant contravention of international law and against public opinion and interest.

Far from a “new era more secure in the quest for peace” we may see a world more akin to George Orwell’s 1984, dominated by perpetual conflict, insecurity, authoritarian surveillance, doublethink and public mind control.

A problem for many citizens is that “doublethink and mind control” have become so deeply embedded and disseminated by the mass media, including the so-called quality free press, such as The New York Times and The Guardian.

The Post 9/11 Era: America’s Doctrine of Pre-emptive Warfare

Allegedly sponsored by Al Qaeda, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon played a central role in molding public opinion.  One of the main objectives of war propaganda is to “fabricate an enemy”. The “outside enemy” personified by Osama bin Laden is “threatening America”.

Pre-emptive war directed against “Islamic terrorists” is required to defend the Homeland. Realities are turned upside down: America is under attack.

In the wake of 9/11, the creation of this “outside enemy” served to obfuscate the real economic and strategic objectives behind the American-led wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. Waged on the grounds of self-defense, the pre-emptive war is upheld as a “just war” with a humanitarian mandate.

“The Outside Enemy” Osama bin Laden, portrayed by the mainstream
media

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in the early 1980s, the US intelligence apparatus has supported the formation of the “Islamic brigades”. Propaganda purports to erase the history of Al Qaeda, drown the truth and “kill the evidence” on how this “outside enemy” was fabricated and transformed into “Enemy Number One”.

The US intelligence apparatus has created it own terrorist organizations. And at the same time, it creates its own terrorist warnings concerning the terrorist organizations which it has itself created. Meanwhile, a cohesive multibillion dollar counterterrorism program “to go after” these terrorist organizations has been put in place.

Instead of “war” or “state terrorism”, we are told of “humanitarian intervention” directed against “terrorists”.

Instead of “offence”, we are told of “defense” or “protection”.

Instead of “mass murder” we are told of “collateral damage”.

A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled: “We must fight against evil in all its forms as a means to preserving the Western way of life.”

Breaking the “Big Lie” which presents war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

Spawning Militarism: “War is Normal”

In truth, as this new Interactive Reader from Global Research will demonstrate, we are living in an era hallmarked by “The Globalization of War” conducted by the very states that proclaim to be defenders of democratic rights and international law.

The chief protagonist of this globalized war is the United States of America. The US, along with its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Britain, France, Canada and Germany among others, as well as an array of proxies – such as the Persian Gulf Arab states – is now emboldened to strike militarily in any region of the world.

It should be noted that on a tour of the Asia-Pacific region in November 2011, US President Barack Obama’s rhetoric was laden with bellicose statements towards China, citing the latter as a military threat to the hemisphere that the United States was ready to confront. Obama’s aggressive rhetoric towards Beijing should have been widely seen as unprecedented and unacceptable. But from a reading of the Western mainstream media, the warmongering by the US president was somehow made into normal, reasonable discourse.

This spawning militarism is rationalized with a variety of seemingly palatable pretexts: securing the world against “Islamic terrorism”, as in Afghanistan; securing the world against “weapons of mass destruction”, as in Saddam’s Iraq and currently Iran; defending human rights, as in Libya; humanitarian intervention, as in Somalia; and protecting small nations, as in confronting China on behalf of Southeast Asian states, or constructing a Ballistic Missile Defense system along the Eastern European borders of Russia. And again, the Western mainstream media plays a huge role in rationalizing the irrational, normalizing the abnormal, justifying the unjustifiable – akin to the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984.

We may accept these pretexts at face value and attempt to “normalize” a world of seemingly chaotic conflicts, as the Western mainstream media would have us. Or we can choose to see the world as it really is, that is, one where such wars and war-making are correctly understood as abominations of international law and human relations.

It is our objective in this Interactive Reader to help citizens free themselves from the indoctrinated doublethink of “wars as normal”. In a global survey, we will show that the US and its allies are fulfilling an agenda of “full spectrum dominance” in which no nation deemed to be obstructing that agenda for domination by the US and its allies is tolerated, and is in fact made a target for war.

The dynamic for globalized war has deep historical roots in the imperialism of capitalist governments. Rivalry for the raw materials of capitalist economies and geopolitical control were at the root of World Wars I and II – See the essays by Jacques Pauwels on the role of corporate America in supporting both Britain  and Nazi Germany. The same impetus lay behind countless invasions and proxy wars in Latin America, Asia and Africa by the US since World War II under the guise of “defending the free world from the Evil Soviet empire”.

But with the collapse of the Soviet Union as a countervailing power, the US and its allies have become uninhibited over the past two decades to “go it alone” to assert imperial dominance. This dynamic has only been reinforced by the economic exhaustion of the capitalist powers since the onset of the financial crisis of 2008. Indeed, the rise of militarism can be seen as a compensatory corollary of their economic demise – a demise that is structural and deeply protracted beyond anything that may be deemed as the usual “end of business cycle”. We are perhaps witnessing an historic collapse in the capitalist system far greater in scope than the Great Depression. And with that, disturbingly, the rise of militarism takes on a much greater significance.

Crucial to the global control of resources are the raw materials of energy: oil and gas. Whether it is wars in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, or confrontation with Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, the fundamental point of contention is control over this lifeblood of the capitalist economy. All other espoused pretexts are mere window dressing, regardless of what the mainstream media would have us believe.

World War III Scenario

The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran – which has the world’s third largest known reserves of oil behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq – has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon since 2005.

If such a war were to be launched, the entire Middle East/Central Asia region would be drawn into a conflagration. Humanity would be precipitated into a World War III scenario.

Incredibly, the very real danger of World War III is not front-page news. The mainstream media has excluded in-depth analysis and debate on the implications of these war plans. The onslaught of World War III, were it to be carried out, would be casually described as a “no-fly zone”, an operation under NATO’s “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) with minimal “collateral damage” or as “surgical” punitive bombings against specific military targets, all of which purport to support “global security” as well as “democracy” and human rights in the targeted country.

NATO’s “Humanitarian Intervention”
Mandate defined in an ICISS report on R2P

Public opinion is largely unaware of the grave implications of these war plans, which contemplate the use of nuclear weapons, ironically in retaliation to Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program. Moreover, 21st Century military technology combines an array of sophisticated weapons systems whose destructive power would overshadow the nuclear holocausts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Lest we forget, the United States is the only country to have used nuclear weapons against civilians.

Militarization at the global level is instrumented through the US military’s Unified Command structure: the entire planet is divided up into geographic Combatant Commands under the control of the Pentagon. According to former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consists of a sequence of war theaters: “[The] five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.” Like a cancer, the US war unleashed in 2003 on Iraq is mutating into a global disease.

While  The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets hailed 15 December 2011 as marking the “official” end of the nearly nine-year US war in Iraq, in reality that devastated country will remain an American war theater for the foreseeable future. Pentagon military advisers and contractors will continue to reside there and the people of Iraq will for generations be left with a legacy of US-imposed conflict and barbarity. The Pentagon’s “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq may have subsided, but its repercussions and criminal precedents are still very much extant, not only in Iraq but in the wider region and, increasingly, globally.

The 2000 Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which was the backbone of the NeoCon’s agenda, was predicated on “waging a war without borders”. The PNAC’s declared objectives were to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars” in different regions of the world as well as perform the so-called military “constabulary” duties “associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions”. Global constabulary implies a worldwide process of military policing and interventionism, including covert operations and “regime change”.

This diabolical military project formulated by the NeoCons was adopted and implemented from the very outset of the Obama administration. With a new team of military and foreign policy advisers, Obama has been far more effective in fostering military escalation than his White House predecessor, George Bush Junior, who has recently been condemned by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal for “Crimes against the Peace”.

This continuum of military agenda testifies to the fact that the two governing parties in the US, Democrat and Republican, are but two sides of a centrally planned military-industrial complex that is impregnable to the opinions, desires and interests of the American electorate.

Military Escalation and Preview of this Book

Contrary to the myth of “the good war”, we show in this Interactive Reader that the US entry into World War II was a deliberate strategy for self-serving imperialist gains. While the men and women who fought that war may have had moral convictions, the planners in Washington were operating on calculations of geopolitical control that had little to do with morals or legal principles – see the essays by Jacques Pauwels. The dropping of atomic bombs on Japan by the US in August 1945, obliterating hundreds of thousands of civilians, was an act of heinous barbarity that reflected the callousness of America’s imperial design. The nuclear holocaust also set the nefarious parameters of the subsequent Cold War that gripped the world for nearly five decades following World War II. Essays by Brian Willson, Alfred McCoy and Michel Chossudovsky illustrate how the Pentagon’s genocidal wars in Asia were a continuation of America’s imperialist design – albeit under the cover of the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

Hiroshima mushroom cloud. By executive order of President
Harry S. Truman, the U.S. dropped the nuclear bomb “Little Boy”
on Hiroshima, Monday, August 6, 1945

Nagasaki, August 9, 1945

Survivors: August 1945. In the wake of Hiroshima

The fall of the Soviet Union may have brought an end to the Cold War, but soon the US would find new pretexts for waging war on the world and asserting hegemony on behalf of its capitalist allies. These new pretexts included “upholding international law” as in the First Gulf War against Iraq that Bush Senior embarked on in 1990, presaging the Second Gulf War that Bush Junior would reprise in 2003. And the US planners innovated the “humanitarian” pretext for the invasion of Somalia in 1991 and NATO’s war on Yugoslavia – see the essay by Sean Gervasi among others. In many ways, the “humanitarian war” in Yugoslavia served as the prototype for NATO’s 2011 military attack on Libya and what appears to be an imminent onslaught against Syria – see essays by Rick Rozoff and Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya.

To the Pentagon’s silo of propaganda justifying “wars without borders” we have the additional pretexts of  the “global war on terrorism”  and “pre-emptive strikes against weapons of mass destruction”. Fittingly, as Washington’s wars multiply, so too it seems have the phony pretexts for these wars, as the essays on Iraq and Afghanistan by Felicity Arbuthnot and Jack Smith reveal.

Permanent Belligerence: The Globalization of War

In Part VII, which also serves as the title of this Online Interactive E-Reader, The Globalization of War, we show how American-led imperialism has evolved from bloody bouts of episodic militarism over several decades to the present day state of permanent belligerence, with wars or war-making stretching from North and East Africa into the Middle East and Central Asia and beyond to Eurasia (Russia), the Far East (China) and Arctic (Russia again) – See the essays by James Petras, Rick Rozoff,  Peter Dale Scott, F. William Engdahl, Finian Cunningham, the interview with Fidel Castro, Michel Chossudovsky and Jules Dufour.

Of most immediate concern are the ongoing American-led war plans within the broader Middle East/Central Asian region involving coordinated actions against Iran, Syria and Pakistan – see essays by Michel Chossudovsky, Tom Burghardt, Rick Rozoff and Mahdi Nazemroaya.

Were these war plans to be carried out, this would lead to an extended regional war theater. The three existing and distinct war theaters (Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine) would merge into a broad regional war extending from the Lebanese-Syrian East Mediterranean coastline to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border with Western China. Israel, Lebanon and Turkey would be engulfed in a conflict that would herald World War III.   

Building an Effective Antiwar Movement

Meanwhile, the antiwar movement is in crisis: civil society organizations are misinformed, manipulated or co-opted. A large segment of “progressive” opinion is supportive of NATO’s R2P “humanitarian” mandate to the extent that these war plans are being carried out with the “rubber stamp” of civil society.

There is an urgent need to rebuild the antiwar movement on entirely new premises.

The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well-organized grassroots antiwar network, across the land, nationally and internationally, which challenges the structures of power and authority. People must mobilize not only against the military agenda – the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.

Challenging and defeating the US/NATO global war agenda is profoundly predicated on the mass of people in Western countries asserting democratic governance and the genuine “rule of the people”. It will involve the mass of people breaking out of the two-party charade that hitherto passes for “democracy” – not only in the US but also in other Western states ­– to form new political organizations that truly represent the needs and interests of the majority of people. War-making, as with servile abeyance to corporate and financial elites, is endemic to the dominant political parties. It must be realized that voting for these same parties has become futile as a means to effect democratic change.

One practical way forward is for citizens to empower themselves legally. It should be understood that whatever its justification, war is a “Crime against the Peace” under Nuremberg. George Walker Bush and former British Prime Minister Anthony L. Blair have been condemned by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal for waging a criminal war of aggression against Iraq. They are war criminals and citizens’ initiatives that are growing across the world for the arraignment of Bush and Blair are one practical step towards mobilizing a popular challenge to the war system.

War crimes, however, are not limited to the former US president and British prime minister. There are “New War Criminals on the Block“. They include the current president of the United States, Barack Obama, among others. The acting heads of state and heads of government who support US-NATO-Israel wars of aggression are also war criminals under international law. This proposition, which consists in unseating the war criminals in high office, is central to the waging of an effective antiwar movement.

It is also our intention to show citizens that the root cause of war lies in the prevailing, but failing, global capitalist economic system – the very system that is not only destroying lives in foreign countries but which is destroying the material and moral foundations of Western society.

We hope that this Interactive Reader, The Globalisation of War, will empower citizens to mount an all-encompassing social movement against this diabolical military agenda and for the establishment of real democracy.

Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham, December 2011

In the face of blatant media disinformation, a “Re-Learning Process” must be launched.

It is our hope that the Interactive Reader Series will become a useful tool for high school, college and university students.

=====================================================================================================================================================

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART I.  THE HISTORY OF WAR: FROM WORLD WAR II TO THE COLD WAR ERA

– by Jacques R. Pauwels – 2011-12-11
65 years ago, August 6 and 9, 1945: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
– by Jacques R. Pauwels – 2010-08-06

The unspoken objective of the atomic bomb was US Hegemony in Asia and the Pacific

 

– by Brian S. Willson – 2006-10-12
“Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population [of North Korea]” (General Curtis Lemay)

– by Prof. Alfred W. McCoy – 2010-04-18
– by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2005-04-26

Vietnam never received war reparations payments from the U.S. for the massive loss of life and destruction, yet an agreement reached in Paris in 1993 required Hanoi to recognize the debts of the defunct Saigon regime. This agreement is in many regards tantamount to obliging Vietnam to compensate Washington for the costs of war.

 

PART II. NATO’S WAR IN THE BALKANS

– by Sean Gervasi – 2010-09-12
The late Sean Gervasi had tremendous foresight. He understood NATO enlargement several years before it actually unfolded into a formidable military force.
NATO’s Reign of Terror in Kosovo

– by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2008-02-25
State Terrorism in Kosovo is an integral part of NATO’s design
NATO’s Kosovo War, 11 Years Later

– by James Bissett – 2010-03-24

PART III.  THE POST 9/11 ERA: AMERICA’S “WAR ON TERRORISM”

Al Qaeda and the “War on Terrorism”

– by Michel Chossudovsky – 2008-01-20
Ironically, Al Qaeda –the “outside enemy of America”– is a creation of the CIA.
The Central Role of Al Qaeda in Bush’s National Security Doctrine

“Revealing the Lies” on 9/11 Perpetuates the “Big Lie”
– by Michel Chossudovsky – 2007-07-12
9/11 Paved the Way for America’s Permanent Wars of Aggression

– by Finian Cunningham – 2011-09-11

PART IV. IRAQ AND THE AF-PAK WARS

America’s Endless Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

– by Jack A. Smith – 2011-10-25
The illusion of military success…
US Afghan Strategy: Senseless and Merciless

– by Rick Rozoff – 2011-07-22
U.S. And NATO Escalate World’s Deadliest War On Both Sides Of Afghan-Pakistani Border

– by Rick Rozoff – 2011-03-01
Drone missile attacks conducted by the CIA killed in the neighborhood of 1,000 people in Pakistan last year
The War on Iraq : Five US Presidents, Five British Prime Ministers, Thirty Years of Duplicity, and Counting….

– by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2010-08-06
Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. He had walked into possibly the biggest trap in modern history
US-NATO Military Agenda: The Destabilization of Pakistan

– by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2009-04-17

PART V. THE CONQUEST OF AFRICA

America’s War in the Horn of Africa: “Drone Alley” – a Harbinger of Western Power across the African Continent

US Military Confirms Washington’s Secret New War in Somalia Despite Official Denials
– by Finian Cunningham – 2011-10-29
US Military Confirms Washington’s Secret New War in Somalia Despite Official Denials
Israel and Libya: Preparing Africa for the “Clash of Civilizations”

Introduction by Cynthia McKinney
– by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – 2011-10-11
“An attempt to separate the merging point of an Arab and African identity is underway.”

PART VI. US NATO-ISRAELI THREATS: PRE-EMPTIVE WAR AGAINST IRAN AND SYRIA 

World War III: The Launching of a Preemptive Nuclear War against Iran

– by Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-12-04
World War III is not front-page news. The mainstream media has excluded in-depth analysis and debate on the implications of these war plans.
U.S. Arms Persian Gulf Allies For Conflict With Iran

– by Rick Rozoff – 2011-11-18
THE CLOCK IS TICKING: “Shadow War” Heating Up. War With Iran: A Provocation Away?

– by Tom Burghardt – 2011-12-05
Amid conflicting reports that a huge explosion at Iran’s uranium conversion facility in Isfahan occurred last week, speculation was rife that Israel and the US were stepping-up covert attacks against defense and nuclear installations
Using Fake Intelligence to Justify War on Iran

– by Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-11-09
Iran: “Regime Change” or All Out War?

– by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – 2011-06-
America’s Next War Theater: Syria and Lebanon?

– by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – 2011-06-10

PART VII. THE GLOBALIZATION OF WAR

Obama Raises the Military Stakes: Confrontation on the Borders with China and Russia

– by Prof. James Petras – 2011-12-10
Obama has embraced a policy of encirclement and provocations against China, the world’s second largest economy and the US’s most important creditor, and Russia, the European Union’s principle oil and gas provider and the world’s second most powerful nuclear weapons power.
Conversations with Fidel Castro: The Dangers of a Nuclear War

– by Fidel Castro Ruz, Michel Chossudovsky – 2010-11-13
If a war breaks out in Iran, it will inevitably become a nuclear war and a global war.
The Real Grand Chessboard and the Profiteers of War

– by Prof. Peter Dale Scott – 2009-08-11
The provision of private entrepreneurial violence and intelligence
Why Moscow does not Trust Washington on Missile Defense. Towards a Pre-emptive Nuclear War?

– by F. William Engdahl – 2011-12-02
Most in the civilized world are blissfully unaware that we are marching ineluctably towards an increasingly likely pre-emptive nuclear war…
“War Without Borders”: Washington Intensifies Push Into Central Asia

– by Rick Rozoff – 2011-01-30
The U.S. and NATO have over 150,000 troops planted directly south of three Central Asian nations.
Asia-Pacific: US Ramps Up Global War Agenda

– by Finian Cunningham – 2011-11-17
China’s “military advances” are prompting US concerns…Washington is the one beating the war drums.
North American Integration and the Militarization of the Arctic

– by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2007-08-20
The Battle for the Arctic is part of a global military agenda of conquest and territorial control, a New Cold War between Russia and America.
Review Article: The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases

The Global Deployment of US Military Personnel
– by Prof. Jules Dufour – 2007-07-01
The Global Deployment of US Military Personnel

About the Editors

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa. He is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Editor of the globalresearch.ca  website. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism”(2005). His most recent book is entitled Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011). He has taught as Visiting Professor at universities in Western Europe, South East Asia and Latin America, acted as an adviser to governments of developing countries and as a consultant for the several international organizations. Prof. Chossudovsky is a signatory of the Kuala Lumpur declaration to criminalize war and recipient of the Human Rights Prize of the Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and Human Dignity (GBM), Berlin, Germany. He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

Finian Cunningham is currently Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent. He has written extensively on international affairs. Previously, he was based in Bahrain and witnessed the upheavals in the Persian Gulf kingdom during 2011 as well as the subsequent Saudi-led brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protests. He is now based in East Africa.


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Posted in Economic Upheavals, Geo-Politics, Global Research, War Quotient | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Globalization of War: The “Military Roadmap” to World War III ONLINE INTERACTIVE E-READER

The Ideological Crisis of Western Capitalism

Posted by Admin on July 10, 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/ideological-crisis-western-capitalism/1310127895

 

(Photo: emperley3)

Just a few years ago, a powerful ideology – the belief in free and unfettered markets – brought the world to the brink of ruin. Even in its hey-day, from the early 1980’s until 2007, American-style deregulated capitalism brought greater material well-being only to the very richest in the richest country of the world. Indeed, over the course of this ideology’s 30-year ascendance, most Americans saw their incomes decline or stagnate year after year.

Moreover, output growth in the United States was not economically sustainable. With so much of US national income going to so few, growth could continue only through consumption financed by a mounting pile of debt.

I was among those who hoped that, somehow, the financial crisis would teach Americans (and others) a lesson about the need for greater equality, stronger regulation, and a better balance between the market and government. Alas, that has not been the case. On the contrary, a resurgence of right-wing economics, driven, as always, by ideology and special interests, once again threatens the global economy – or at least the economies of Europe and America, where these ideas continue to flourish.

In the US, this right-wing resurgence, whose adherents evidently seek to repeal the basic laws of math and economics, is threatening to force a default on the national debt. If Congress mandates expenditures that exceed revenues, there will be a deficit, and that deficit has to be financed. Rather than carefully balancing the benefits of each government expenditure program with the costs of raising taxes to finance those benefits, the right seeks to use a sledgehammer – not allowing the national debt to increase forces expenditures to be limited to taxes.

This leaves open the question of which expenditures get priority – and if expenditures to pay interest on the national debt do not, a default is inevitable. Moreover, to cut back expenditures now, in the midst of an ongoing crisis brought on by free-market ideology, would inevitably simply prolong the downturn.

A decade ago, in the midst of an economic boom, the US faced a surplus so large that it threatened to eliminate the national debt. Unaffordable tax cuts and wars, a major recession, and soaring health-care costs – fueled in part by the commitment of George W. Bush’s administration to giving drug companies free rein in setting prices, even with government money at stake – quickly transformed a huge surplus into record peacetime deficits.

The remedies to the US deficit follow immediately from this diagnosis: put America back to work by stimulating the economy; end the mindless wars; rein in military and drug costs; and raise taxes, at least on the very rich. But the right will have none of this, and instead is pushing for even more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, together with expenditure cuts in investments and social protection that put the future of the US economy in peril and that shred what remains of the social contract. Meanwhile, the US financial sector has been lobbying hard to free itself of regulations, so that it can return to its previous, disastrously carefree, ways.

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But matters are little better in Europe. As Greece and others face crises, the medicine du jour is simply timeworn austerity packages and privatization, which will merely leave the countries that embrace them poorer and more vulnerable. This medicine failed in East Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere, and it will fail in Europe this time around, too. Indeed, it has already failed in Ireland, Latvia, and Greece.

There is an alternative: an economic-growth strategy supported by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Growth would restore confidence that Greece could repay its debts, causing interest rates to fall and leaving more fiscal room for further growth-enhancing investments. Growth itself increases tax revenues and reduces the need for social expenditures, such as unemployment benefits. And the confidence that this engenders leads to still further growth.

Regrettably, the financial markets and right-wing economists have gotten the problem exactly backwards: they believe that austerity produces confidence, and that confidence will produce growth. But austerity undermines growth, worsening the government’s fiscal position, or at least yielding less improvement than austerity’s advocates promise. On both counts, confidence is undermined, and a downward spiral is set in motion.

Do we really need another costly experiment with ideas that have failed repeatedly? We shouldn’t, but increasingly it appears that we will have to endure another one nonetheless. A failure of either Europe or the US to return to robust growth would be bad for the global economy. A failure in both would be disastrous – even if the major emerging-market countries have attained self-sustaining growth. Unfortunately, unless wiser heads prevail, that is the way the world is heading.

For a podcast of this commentary in English, please use thislink.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011.

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JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ

Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University, a Nobel laureate in Economics, and the author of Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy.

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No government shutdown, but what do we have instead?

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc5e4ce47210febe920c47d5a943478694.html

So we have a deal and a government, and the eighth-graders visiting Washington (by tradition in the US, it’s in the eighth grade, or form as you call it, when students take their field trips to the capital) can go to the Smithsonian today. That’s all nice.

Also nice is that the offensive (and offensive it was) against Planned Parenthood failed, so at least we haven’t yet reached the point as a society that poor women must die of cervical cancer to satisfy the ideological itches of a few men, although fear not, we’re getting there.

But the $38 billion cut is the largest single-year cut in the history of the country, according to the president, who taped a three-minute video statement shortly after 11 pm Friday night, when the deal was announced by Speaker John Boehner.

It’ll be next week, I’d reckon, before we know exactly what was cut and by how much. As those details come out, an already disgruntled liberal base is just going to get angrier.

I understand what Obama is doing when he talks, as he does in the video, about the government needing to live within its means. I’m sure it polls well with independents, and as I’ve said many times, he needs to rebuild his standing among independents. We all get this.

But but but: to hear Obama kinda-sorta boasting about overseeing a domestic spending cut on a scale that even Ronald Reagan never managed leaves one wondering where and over what he might someday draw a line in the sand.

Last December, he signed George W. Bush’s tax cuts. Then he introduced his own budget, which include a five-year pay freeze for federal employees and cut funding for a couple of subsidy programs for poor and elderly people.

Finally, during this whole process, he never once that I can remember made a forceful public statement singling out a GOP cut as severe or unwise, never defended family planning initiatives, never pointed to one thing and said, this I will not brook.

Yes, I understand, liberals are outnumbered. I’m more understanding of that than most liberals I know, believe me. And Republicans have power now, and they’re extreme, and this is the way it’s going to be for a little while at least. But any skillful politician can find ways to communicate to the middle and his base simultaneously. He just has to want to.

Barack Obama US federal government shutdown US Congress Michael Tomasky Guardian News & Media Limited 2011

 

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March 22, 2011- White Hats Report #15

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

http://tdarkcabal.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 22, 2011- White Hats Report #15

Bush and the CIA’s Fraud Conspiracy Exposed. Today, the TRUTH they all thought would stay buried. 

The Dewhurst Files – Part 2

As part of the on-going saga of scheming perpetrated against so many trusting investors like Edward Falcone by Bush Senior and his cohorts, we are now exposing new information as the prosecution evidence is being assembled and the case moves towards the first writs being served and potential arrests being made.  Mr.Falcone has the signed Bush contract with Don Nevin, passport copy attached, representing Bush in the contractual undertaking.  A bonfire of arrogance may await them when the punitive damages are assessed.   Aligned to the missing TARP Funds and all indications of failed Infrastructure Projects, a lot of questions are already arising with the Political control of DC and State funds. The criminal actions now unfolding will end a few careers.

Having stolen vast Billions previously from Mr.Falcone, Bush Sr, operating via Don Nevin, fronting for his brother David Dewhurst Lt. Governor of Texas who was instrumental in setting up the contract for Bush using Don Nevin, then tried to induce Edward Falcone to put up a further $500 million dollars into a joint Monaco Bank account. Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, operating through his brother Don Nevin assured him it would facilitate the immediate release of the long overdue funds owed to him. This was against their original Settlement agreement which they had also breached 2 years previously. An agreement negotiated and signed by ex-President George W. Bush before he left office and then recorded with the CIA for Leon Panetta to perform against.

The demand from Nevin for more money was then increased to $550M.  Part of the new $550M now being demanded, involved a fee of $275M from these funds, to be split equally between David Dewhurst and his brother Don Nevin. A Payoff demanded in writing from Nevin.  Having been a previous victim of 5 broken Bush promises, Edward Falcone wisely declined.  The last agreement was also approved for payment by President Obama and the CIA, but defaulted on yet again.  Why would parties failing to perform on so many occasions then expect a further $550M from Mr. Falcone to perform what was already contractually committed as their responsibility?  He refused, as he and his Legal Advisors saw it as another dangerous fraud scheme move by dubious operators. They then agreed to release his money without the $550M now being demanded, but again failed to pay what was long overdue.   Their intent was clear. As with all ruthless fraud operators, it was to steal another $550M from Mr. Falcone.   A clear, criminal conspiracy.

Bush Sr, his associates and the CIA, had previously ordered the release of settlement money to Mr. Falcone by sending out 5 CHIPS (Clearing House Interbank Payments System) allocated in his name for trading as the beneficiary, for payment owed to him which he also never received. His CHIP funds were diverted in delivery and used by the conspirators to circumvent him, directed instead to multiple bank platform accounts of their own for trading Medium Term Notes, using his named CHIP funds for their own benefit. The attorneys and investigators hold this evidence: records, Traders’ names, amounts and trades.

They stole his lawful entitlement of profits and continued to further utilize his cash accounts and CHIPS in conjunction with HSBC, Josef Ackermann Chairman of Deutsche Bank, Bush Sr, Bush Jr, the CIA, Paulson and Greenspan, time after time. There were also further parties participating in addition for each of the individual CHIPS.

Other banks were also used for Cash deals.  Parties such as George H. W. Bush Sr., George W Bush Jr., Mitt Romney, Michael Herzog, Paul Guinette and others were cross involved in cash platforms, in conjunction with the CIA again. They blatantly stole $650M from Mr. Falcone’s account, using his cash funds criminally for their own benefit, including in conjunction again with Josef Ackermann of Deutsche Bank, a renowned banker of questionable repute who has previously been fined heavily and publicly admonished for conduct unbecoming of a Banker. Ackermann also set up the key Credit Lines at the Bank of Austria for the non-CHIP cash program element for the first year of trading for all the group of names listed above.

We exhibit for you below just some of his CHIPS utilized in their blatant deception;

CHIP 1) Wachovia Bank & Bank of America  $4.3 Billion
CHIP 2) Wachovia Bank & Bank of America  $4.3 Billion
CHIP 3) Wachovia Bank & Bank of America  $4.3 Billion
CHIP 4) Bank of New York                           $10.5 Billion
CHIP 5) Citi Bank Singapore to Tyler Texas   $12.5 Billion

Over and above the parties declared above, further benefiting parties also include Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden being bribed for $200M by Clinton to delay the Falcone settlements, Geithner, and others we will expose and name when due.

A question, at what stage should guilty Trading Banks also be held complicit and accountable for the clear and amoral Duty of Care and their Compliance Diligence failure? Multiple bank accounts around the world are being closely monitored for use of prosecutors. This is going to create serious problems for the Capital markets.

The profits accrued from Falcone funds for the CIA have been predominantly directed to Barclays Bank and Citibank, Singapore. The Bank of England’s own cross involvement will also be exposed in this sordid chain of events.  Bush Sr. and the many guilty parties have multiple bank accounts around the world which are currently being monitored, ready for Congressional, Prosecution and developing mainstream media exposure.

On every occasion, Edward Falcone was denied his rightful and lawful investment share. They got rich using his money by fraud, theft and deception. He received nothing.

Bank Officers will attest to Congress and the Courts. Worse, so will numerous parties now cross entangled to save themselves, as we will display. Michael Herzog, an associate of both the Bush and Clintons, has already threatened on record if he is made to pay back his share of what was stolen from Edward Falcone, he will expose all his records of multiple Bush conspiracies he fronted for them over many years. When thieves fall out?

Bush commandeered United States Government planes using CIA agents to fly around the world over 10 weeks. The sole agenda of the Bush directed Agency team was to move money from bank to bank, changing their offshore bank records to attempt to hide and falsify the trading records from Falcone’s pursuing investigators. All now identified with incriminating records waiting for Prosecutors to confront and indict this CIA Agency laundering team.

Prior to the last election, Public approval rate for Congresses had slumped to only 9%. That means 91 out of every 100 Americans had lost confidence in their Congressman and considered “The Hill” not fit for purpose to execute the Constitution and the Laws of the United States.  If we allow endemic abuse of one American then we all lose. By taking this campaign up to Congress to investigate, will restore America’s faith in The Hill. We have offered Congress a Prime example of corruption, endemic abuse of privileged positions by Senior Government and CIA Agency Officers, Bankers and the failures of Regulatory agencies such as the FBI, Homeland Security and the US Federal Reserve, to uphold the law and investigate clear abuse. These agencies, who are dominated by the same people, are sadly compromised, denying justice for the Bushes, their associates and their transgressions. What we are portraying is happening live, it is happening today, it is happening in our America, and it is happening to our own people … our fellow Americans. 

Key issues for Congress and the media to consider and pursue on Public record:

  • Who authorized the use of these planes used by Bush to attempt to protect Biden and the Bushes from pursuing investigators? Who paid? Who knew?
  • Who authorized these CIA Agents, who we know and will name, to be used in such a way? This is a moral imperative being closely followed now by world leaders who all know. The Global media knows and won’t be muzzled forever.
  • How much money from each use of these trading CHIPS, and the cash in addition, has the CIA now made? What has been taken in personal wealth?
  • Please consider this is just one case alone. This is a small but easy-to-indict criminal corruption case. Betrayal of Trust by Public officials. We can and will evidence also many more. Vast amounts have been sequestered which should have been helping our people, our economy and our trusting GLOBAL Investors. Our Leaders, instead of helping our people, they have helped themselves; denying recovery and project investment aid for our nation as a direct result of their orgy of financial greed.
  • Texas, Lt. David Dewhurst and his brother, Don Nevin, are both now being challenged with so much about to break regarding incriminating signed contracts and letters. Mitt Romney is being challenged on his Presidency campaign trail, so his vetting problems increase for the same reason he was denied an opportunity for the Vice Presidency with John McCain. Joe Biden is being protected by Obama and the Bushes, but it won’t stop the wrath of the Global media which is building. When the dam breaks, just remember Watergate! This is so, so much bigger!  Does Congress even understand what has happened to Edward Falcone is happening on a vastly larger scale perpetrated by the same player?

The Falcone story is only one of the many stories just like it that we are tracking and waiting to present to Congress and the Court system. Our case is simple. It’s not about one man. It’s a basic case of our Law needing to encompass all particularly former and current Presidents.

George H. W. Bush has a long history of public service starting in the early 1960’s. Is it a stretch to think that 50 years in politics is too much for one person? What we see from the inside is a man, although perhaps still exhorted by many, who has spent his life learning the pertinent government systems and the methods and procedures to subvert the system for his own benefit.

It is an issue when you personally turn from moral to amoral in your dealings and the acts you associate yourself with.   It is a problem when you desire to be the wealthiest and most powerful family in the world and are willing to do anything to accomplish this.  When the oath of the President of the United States means nothing to you and you believe, because of the office you once held, you can operate illegally with impunity and without consequence…..in this case, there are consequences and it starts with a Congressional Inquiry.

”Be you ever so mighty, The Law is above you!”

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US drone attacks are no laughing matter, Mr Obama

Posted by Admin on December 31, 2010

drone

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc537c4f0415b3bbdf7218ade83cf2648c.html

The president’s backing of indiscriminate slaughter in Pakistan can only encourage new�waves of militancy

Speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in May, Barack Obama spotted teen pop band the Jonas Brothers in the audience. “Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but, boys, don’t get any ideas,” deadpanned the president, referring to his daughters. “Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.” The crowd laughed, Obama smiled, the dinner continued. Few questioned the wisdom of making such a tasteless joke; of the US commander-in-chief showing such casual disregard for the countless lives lost abroad through US drone attacks.

From the moment he stepped foot inside the White House, Obama set about expanding and escalating a covert CIA programme of “targeted killings” inside Pakistan, using Predator and Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles (who comes up with these names?) that had been started by the Bush administration in 2004. On 23 January 2009, just three days after being sworn in, Obama ordered his first set of air strikes inside Pakistan; one is said to have killed four Arab fighters linked to al-Qaida but the other hit the house of a pro-government tribal leader, killing him and four members of his family, including a five-year-old child. Obama’s own daughter, Sasha, was seven at the time.

But America’s Nobel-peace-prize-winning president did not look back. During his first nine months in office he authorised as many aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W Bush did in his final three years in the job. And this year has seen an unprecedented number of air strikes. Forget Mark Zuckerberg or the iPhone 4 – 2010 was the year of the drone. According to the New America Foundation thinktank in Washington DC, the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan more than doubled in 2010, to 115. That is an astonishing rate of around one bombing every three days inside a country with which the US is not at war.

And the carnage continues. On Monday, CIA drones fired six missiles at two vehicles in a “Taliban stronghold” in north Waziristan, on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, killing 18 “militants” . Or so said “Pakistani intelligence officials”, speaking under condition of anonymity to the Associated Press. Today another round of drone strikes is thought to have killed at least 15 “militants” in the same area.

These attacks by unmanned aircraft may have succeeded in eliminating hundreds of dangerous militants, but the truth is that they also kill innocent civilians indiscriminately and in large numbers. According to the New America Foundation, one in four of those killed by drones since 2004 has been an innocent. The Brookings Institute, however, has calculated a much higher civilian-to-militant ratio of 10:1. Meanwhile, figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities suggest US strikes killed 701 people between January 2006 and April 2009, of which 14 were al-Qaida militants and 687 were civilians. That produces a hit rate of just 2% – or 50 civilians dead for every militant killed.

The majority of Pakistanis are against the use of drones in the tribal areas on the Afghan border. Their own government, however, despite public opposition to the bombings, has in private expressed support for America’s drones. “I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people,” Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is quoted as saying, in a 2008 cable released by WikiLeaks. ” We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it .”

This is not a left/right issue; criticisms of the drone strikes have come from figures as diverse as Sir Brian Burridge, the UK’s former air chief marshal in Iraq, who has described the aerial slaughter inflicted from afar by unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft as a “virtueless war”; and Andrew Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert and former adviser to General David Petraeus, who says that each innocent victim of a drone strike “represents an alienated family, a new revenge feud, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially as drone strikes have increased”.

Kilcullen is spot on. The cold-blooded killing of Pakistani civilians in a push-button, PlayStation-style drone war is not just immoral and perhaps illegal, it is futile and self-defeating from a security point of view. Take Faisal Shahzad , the so-called Times Square bomber. One of the first things the Pakistani-born US citizen said upon his arrest was: “How would you feel if people attacked the United States? You are attacking a sovereign Pakistan.” Asked by the judge at his trial as to how he could justify planting a bomb near innocent women and children, Shahzad responded by saying that US drone strikes “don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody.”

But the innocent victims of America’s secret drone war have become “unpeople”, in the words of the historian Mark Curtis – those whose lives are seen as expendable in the pursuit of the west’s foreign policy goals. Killed via remote control, they remain unseen and unremembered. Forgive me, Mr President, for not seeing the funny side.

Pakistan Barack Obama al-Qaida Global terrorism United States US foreign policy Mehdi Hasan

 

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The Horror of Bush and the Problem for the Rest of Us

Posted by Admin on November 28, 2010

 

Bush Laden

Bush Laden

Friday 26 November 2010

by: Richard Lichtman, t r u t h o u t | Op-ed

I have long been an avid reader of the writings of William Rivers Pitt, whose strong moral voice and incisive intellect have never been more necessary than in this time of horrendous political and cultural corruption. And I have no doubt that his assessment of Bush and his reign of destruction will resonate strongly with many readers of his account. Everything Pitt notes seems to me to be true: Bush’s class-derived economic policy and its ensuing national chaos; the instigation of a completely contrived war that has already led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the displacement of millions more; the Alfred E. Newmanesque vapidity that marked his original disavowal of national danger and the consequent politicization of fear as an instrument of social policy – the modern, centralized, secular version of the Puritan Jememiad; the overt dishonesty that thrived in the petri dish of contaminating theories of expediently constructed truths; a complete disavowal of the notion of constitutional democracy; the willful, racist abandonment of New Orleans‘ Black population during and after Katrina; the totalitarian inflation of the role of president – and so on into the dark night of disintegration and despair.

What then is there to write about when it has all been said? But something is missing from Mr. Pitt’s essay that is as significant as the consequence of the Bush administration‘s policy. It is the very fact that he became president, that he was voted into office in a purported “democracy,” that so many millions chose to support his candidacy. I do not deny that the election of 2000 was pilfered and that it involved the allied corruption of the Supreme Court, or that significant acts of manipulation occurred in 2004. Hitler also came to power with the aid of terror and overt violence, but it cannot be denied that a plurality of Germans supported him. The actual total of voters who supported Bush in his two elections may never be exactly known, and, in 2000, certainly did not constitute a plurality. The terrible fact remains that he received the enormous support he did not once, but, even more incredibly, twice, and in the context of the devastating war he waged without justification.

The question that has not been asked seriously enough is how this catastrophe could have occurred. After the condemnation of Bush has been certified and recorded, one would have expected an attempt at explanation. What is the nature of the populace that permitted this “small fraction of a man” to prevail? What is the social-psychological disposition of the American people that has furthered the nightmare of willfully chosen subordination? What is the history of America as it stretches back into the recesses of early Puritanism? Consider this passage from Sacvan Bercovitch‘s The American Jeremiad:

Only in the United States has nationalism carried with it the Christian meaning of the sacred. Only America, of all national designations, has assumed the combined force of eschatology and chauvinism. Many societies have defended the status quo by reference to religious values … But only the American Way, of all modern ideologies, has managed to circumvent the paradoxes inherent in these approaches. Of all symbols of identity, only America has united nationality and universality, civic and spiritual selfhood, secular and redemptive history, the country’s past and paradise to be, in a single synthetic ideal. [1]

 

Is there not something of this Puritan view in contemporary American culture and politics, particularly on the right wing of the political spectrum? And have there not, over the generations since that time, been other sediments that have encrusted the nature of the American self and sunk deeper and deeper into its identity? Is it not the case, therefore, that to understand ourselves as a people in our unity and across the complexity of views that mark us as a nation, across all our diversity and contradiction, we need to excavate the layers of political personhood that have led us to the point at which we now find ourselves?

Of course this is a formidable task, but it is made even more difficult by two factors:

First, the social systems that have followed each other in time are sufficiently different from each other so as to act as transformations of the selfhood that has been bequeathed them. In other words, the early Puritan tendency cannot be traced straight through without recognizing the manner in which succeeding epochs of American social and industrial history altered its nature, saving something of its punitive grandiosity, but acquiring new aspects of corporate subordination, fierce individual competitiveness and unmoored anxiety. I am not proposing that old and misleading cliche that to know ourselves we must know what our past has been; rather, I propose that the past is continually present, continually growing within what we recognize as our current identities.

Second, there is the paradoxical fact that we know more about how to approach this history as we have acquired perspectives and comprehensions that previous generations lacked. We know more about political economy, particularly the contribution made available by Marxist theory as it attunes our awareness to the facts of class structure, accumulation, domination of the media and the structures of the political system that are themselves heavily influenced by the underlying systems of corporate power. On the side of “subjectivity,” we have learned a great deal regarding the nature of mental development and its pathologies, so that we can no longer merely read the surface of our society while discarding everything we have learned from psychoanalytic theory and its variations. We have abandoned theological explanations, although there remain sizable constituencies who continue to cling to these remnants of the ancient codes that view society in terms of the hierarchical power of wealth, ethnic identity and gender emanating from transcendent spiritual forces and whose political identity represents much less a “party” – since they lack any entry into the contemporary world – than a terrified embrace of each other and a disdainful rejection of the major tenets of the Enlightenment.

The paradox that I alluded to derives from the fact that, as we know more, we also have more work to do if we are to make full use of our knowledge. If we wish to understand why those on the right abhor science, are terrified by the growing equality of women and ethnic minorities, genuflect to power and cruelty, worship tradition, detest distinction and diversity and glorify “the people” while acting to destroy the protection of individual rights, we will have to bring together these theoretical systems of political economy and psychology. This is not to say that efforts of this sort have been completely lacking, only that they are relatively scarce in proportion to the danger that threatens us. It also seems that very few works even purport to possess the same power as the writings of the Frankfurt School that brought together in one opus the considerations of economics, politics, culture, media, history and psychology that are all so relevant to our current situation. This has become an age of specialization in which most intellectuals know one subject well to the detriment of their understanding of – or even interest in – cognate concerns.

How did this happen? The easy answer is that we know so much more now and, consequently, cannot expect any individual to master the entire relevant corpus needed to reach a comprehensive truth. But this answer is shortsighted and inverted. It is not that the part is easier to understand than the whole; it is difficult or impossible to understand individual subjects when they are isolated from their larger contexts. How would we attempt to understand the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s by concentrating solely on economics, for example? Even if it were the case that the chaos of capitalism in the post- World War I period was enough to explain the ensuing breakdown of traditional order, how would this consideration explain the rise of Hitler? Without knowing a good deal of previous German history, culture, religion, family structure, psychological tendencies, and their reciprocal influences, we would remain at a considerable loss. The idea that the part is easier to understand than the whole is a misconception of our age, a symptom of a tendency toward atomization that has infected modern understanding.

The imperative need to understand the range of relevant disciplines is as true in attempting to understand the current situation in the United States as it was in relation to Nazi Germany. At this moment, current movements to the “right” are explained on the basis of economic chaos – the loss of jobs and homes and the ensuing anxiety they produce. There is no denying that the particular assault on the lives of so many during the current recession is some important part of the explanation for the current passivity and idiocy of our political reality. However, this occasion itself needs to be explained, and we are consequently forced back to prior historical occurrences that have led to massive public apathy: such circumstances as the wrenching decline of the labor movement, the rise of manipulative mass media, the increasing tendency toward fragmented labor, the autonomy of technology, the disintegration of the traditional family and the buying and selling of current political mythology by capitalist elites and their oxymoronically labeled “think tanks.”

It is also true that devoid of any coherent “left” movement, individuals who regard themselves as socialists, progressives, Marxists or other dissenters from the main currents of American life tend to speak from the purview of their own individual life experiences. We lack any coherent, multifaceted, institutionalized organizations in which individuals of different skills and sensibilities can come together to share views, debate the various issues of our time and publish works of value to the larger community. Lacking such an organized stream of reflection fed by many diverse and complementary orders of intelligence, it is no wonder that simple explanations have come to suffice.

The economic explanation of inaction and despair by an appeal to the immediate effects of the current economic crisis seems relevant, until one asks why it is still not enough to produce resistance. Certainly, some part of the answer must be that in a capitalist society with limited experience in organized opposition and even less capacity to remember the resistance that has occurred, we tend to be thrown back upon the circuits of capitalism itself, whereby individuals move in and out of compliance and resentment depending on their experience of the business cycle. Certainly no persistent opposition to capitalism can be founded on the basis of its own determinations. For this reason alone, economic factors cannot provide the motivational foundation of a living, critical perspective, and we must turn to larger currents of social existence to explain our own responses – or lack of them – to what we know to be an ongoing catastrophe.

Understanding ourselves is a complex project, and as we are made up of such aspects of our existence as our history, culture, psychology, economic activity and social life, we are obligated to learn of their nature and influence if we wish to be their agents rather than the mere recipients of their influence. It is certainly necessary and proper to condemn Bush, but it is far from sufficient. Why have we tolerated, accepted and even chosen this egregious monstrosity with so few manifestations of overt opposition? Relevant answers to this question throw light not only on the meaning of Bush’s presidency but also on the relation of the “left” to Obama and his failures, in which, once again, we are so deeply implicated.

How many politically thoughtful friends do you know who were deceived by the promises made by the president during his political campaign – by the empty rhetoric, by the financial support of banking and insurance interests? How many progressives succumbed to the thrill of an apparently progressive candidate ready-made – one they could support, but did not have to labor to know and accept at a level more trenchant than a promise of hope and change. And how many took the opportunity to permit Obama to stand in the realm of their fantasy of American history as the reconciliation of Black and White interests and the resolution of racist antagonisms, the promise of effortless transcendence and the consequent proof of American virtue, and, of course, by implication, of their own – our own. And yet, at this moment, Black impoverishment remains at least twice that of Whites and is not on a course of improvement, for race cannot be separated from the economy and from the long, sordid history of American social injustice and projected fantasies of evil, those parts of ourselves we cannot tolerate and prefer to locate in the lives of others. It is time to pursue these larger truths, for we are constituted out of them and cannot transcend their dehumanizing limits without this most serious struggle.

I hope it is clear that I do not possess the answers to the questions that lie behind my reflections. What I know is that these questions regarding compliance with corruption are difficult and will require the collective efforts of many of us acting in concert. The exercise of this effort will in turn require the capacity to endure in the face of such rot as Bush embodied.

One of Weber’s most trenchant essays ends this way:

It would be nice if matters turned out in such a way that Shakespeare’s Sonnet should hold true:

Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays;
As Philomel in summer’s font doth sing,
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days.

But such is not the case … Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective… Only he has the calling
for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer … . [2]

 

We have never known this “new spring,” and yet we shall assuredly meet with what will seem to us endless stupidity and inhumanity. In the embrace of a collective life, we may approach some sense of the ripeness we have not known politically. Our task is to persist in the “boring of hard boards” until they give way to a more hospitable home for our “passion and perspective.”

 

1. Sacvan Bercovitch;   The American Jeremiad;  The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison Wisconsin, 1978, p. 176.

2. H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, editors, From Max Weber;  A Galaxy Book, New York, 1958, p. 128.

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Richard Lichtman is a philosopher who specializes in the relationship between the social and psychological dimensions of human life. His approach is broadly interdisciplinary: he has taught in departments of philosophy (University of California, Berkeley), humanities (San Francisco State University), sociology (University of California, Santa Cruz) and psychology (The Wright Institute, California School of Professional Psychology, etc.) and has been a faculty member of the Council on Educational Development (CED) program at the University of California, Los Angeles. His books also indicate the range of his interests: Essays in Critical Social Theory covers a broad range of topics in economic, social, and political theory, while The Production of Desire is a detailed analysis of the works of Marx and Freud.

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    Ruling on Behalf of Wall Street’s “Super Rich”: The Financial End Time has Arrived

    Posted by Admin on November 23, 2010

    Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

    Hobin Rood!

    by Prof. Michael Hudson

    Global Research, November 16, 2010

    Now that President Obama is almost celebrating his bipartisan willingness to renew the tax cuts for the super-rich enacted under George Bush ten years ago, it is time for Democrats to ask themselves how strongly they are willing to oppose an administration that looks like Bush-Cheney III. Is this what they expected by Mr. Obama’s promise to rise above partisan politics – by ruling on behalf of Wall Street, now that it is the major campaign backer of both parties?

    It is a reflection of how one-sided today’s class war has become that Warren Buffet has quipped that “his” side is winning without a real fight being waged. No gauntlet has been thrown down over the trial balloon that the president and his advisor David Axelrod have sent up over the past two weeks to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% for “just” two more years. For all practical purposes the euphemism “two years” means forever – at least, long enough to let the super-rich siphon off enough more money to bankroll enough more Republicans to be elected to make the tax cuts permanent.

    Mr. Obama seems to be campaigning for his own defeat! Thanks largely to the $13 trillion Wall Street bailout – while keeping the debt overhead in place for America’s “bottom 98%” – this happy 2% of the population now receives an estimated three quarters (~75%) of the returns to wealth (interest, dividends, rent and capital gains). This is nearly double what it received a generation ago. The rest of the population is being squeezed, and foreclosures are rising.

    Charles Baudelaire quipped that the devil wins at the point where he manages to convince the world that he doesn’t exist. Today’s financial elites will win the class war at the point where voters believe it doesn’t exist – and believe that Mr. Obama is trying to help them rather than shepherd them into debt peonage as the economy settles into debt deflation.

    We are dealing with shameless demagogy. The financial End Time has arrived, but Mr. Obama’s happy-talk pretends that “two years” will get us through the current debt-induced depression. The Republican plan is to make more Congressional and Senate gains in 2012 as Mr. Obama’s former supporters “vote with their backsides” and stay home, as they did earlier this month. So “two years” means forever in politician-talk. Why vote for a politician who promises “change” but is merely an exclamation mark for the Bush-Cheney policies from Afghanistan and Iraq to Wall Street’s Democratic Leadership Council on the party’s right wing? One of its leaders, after all, was Mr. Obama’s Senate mentor, Joe Lieberman.

    The second pretense is that cutting taxes for the super-rich is necessary to win Republican support for including the middle class in the tax cuts. It is as if the Democrats never won a plurality in Congress. (One remembers George W. Bush with his mere 50+%, pushing forward his extremist policies on the logic that: “I’ve got capital, and I’m using it.” What he had, of course, was Democratic Leadership Committee support.) The pretense is “to create jobs,” evidently to be headed by employment of shipyard workers to build yachts for the nouveau riches and sheriff’s deputies to foreclose on the ten million Americans whose mortgage payments have fallen into arrears. It sounds Keynesian, but is more reminiscent of Thomas Robert Malthus’s lugubrious claim (speaking for Britain’s landed aristocracy) that landlords would keep the economy going by using their rental income (to be protected by high agricultural tariffs) to hire footmen and butlers, tailors and carriage-makers.

    It gets worse. Mr. Obama’s “Bush” tax cut is only Part I of a one-two punch to shift taxes onto wage earners. Congressional economists estimate that extending the tax cuts to the top 2% will cost $700 to $750 billion over the next decade or so. “How are we going to go out and borrow $700 billion?” Mr. Obama asked Steve Croft on his Sixty Minutes interview on CBS last week.

    It was a rhetorical question. The President has appointed a bipartisan commission (right-wingers on both sides of the aisle) to “cure” the federal budget deficit by cutting back social spending – to pay yet more bailouts to the economy’s financial wreckers. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform might better be called the New Class War Commission to Scale Back Social Security and Medicare Payments to Labor in Order to Leave more Tax Revenue Available to Give Away to the Super-Rich. A longer title than the Deficit-Reduction Commission used by media friendlies, but sometimes it takes more words to get to the heart of matters.

    The political axiom at work is “Big fish eat little fish.” There’s not enough tax money to continue swelling the fortunes of the super-rich pretending to save enough to pay the pensions and related social support that North American and European employees have been promised. Something must give – and the rich have shown themselves sufficiently foresighted to seize the initiative. For a preview of what’s in line for the United States, watch neoliberal Europe’s fight against the middle and working class in Greece, Ireland and Latvia; or better yet, Pinochet’s Chile, whose privatized Social Security accounts were quickly wiped out in the late 1970s by the kleptocracy advised by the Chicago Boys, to whose monetarist double-think Mr. Obama’s appointee Ben Bernanke has just re-pledged his loyalty.

    What is needed to put Mr. Obama’s sell-out in perspective is the pro-Wall Street advisors he has chosen – not only Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke (who last week reaffirmed his loyalty to Milton Friedman’s Chicago School monetarism), but by stacking his Deficit Reduction Commission with outspoken advocates of cutting back Social Security, Medicare and other social spending. Their ploy is to frighten the public with a nightmare of $1 trillion deficit to pay retirement income over the next half century – as if the Treasury and Fed have not just given Wall Street $13 trillion in bailouts without blinking an eye. President Obama’s $750 billion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 2% is mere icing on the cake that the rich will be eating when the bread lines get too long.

    To put matters in perspective, bear in mind that interest on the public debt (that Reagan-Bush quadrupled and Bush-Obama redoubled) soon will amount to $1 trillion annually. This is tribute levied on labor – increasing the economy’s cost of living and doing business – paid for losing the fight for economic reform and replacing progressive taxation with regressive neoliberal tax policy. As for military spending in the Near East, Asia and other regions responsible for much of the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, Congress will always rise to the occasion and defer to whatever foreign threat is conjured up requiring new armed force.

    It’s all junk economics. Running a budget deficit is how modern governments inject the credit and purchasing power needed by economies to grow. When governments run surpluses, as they did under Bill Clinton (1993-2000), credit must be created by banks. And the problem with bank credit is that most is lent, at interest, against collateral already in place. The effect is to inflate real estate and stock market prices. This creates capital gains – which the “original” 1913 U.S. income tax treated as normal income, but which today are taxed at only 15% (when they are collected at all, which is rarely in the case of commercial real estate). So today’s tax system subsidizes the inflation of debt-leveraged financial and real estate bubbles.

    The giveaway: the Commission’s position on tax deductibility for mortgage interest

    The Obama “Regressive Tax” commission spills the beans with its proposal to remove the tax subsidy for high housing prices financed by mortgage debt. The proposal moves only against homeowners – “the middle class” – not absentee owners, commercial real estate investors, corporate raiders or other prime bank customers.

    The IRS permits mortgage interest to be tax-deductible on the pretense that it is a necessary cost of doing business. In reality it is a subsidy for debt leveraging. This tax bias for debt rather than equity investment (using one’s own money) is largely responsible for loading down the U.S. economy with debt. It encourages corporate raiding with junk bonds, thereby adding interest to the cost of doing business. This subsidy for debt leveraging also is the government’s largest giveaway to the banks, while causing the debt deflation that is locking the economy into depression – violating every precept of the classical drive for “free markets” in the 19th-century. (A “free market” meant freedom from extractive rentier income, leading toward what Keynes gently called “euthanasia of the rentier.” The Obama Commission endows rentiers atop the economy with a tax system to bolster their power, not check it – while shrinking the economy below them.)

    Table 7.11 of the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) reports that total monetary interest paid in the U.S. economy amounted to $3,240 billion in 2009. Homeowners paid just under a sixth of this amount ($572 billion) on the homes they occupied. Mr. Obama’s commission estimates that removing the tax credit on this interest would yield the Treasury $131 billion in 2012.

    There is in fact a good logic for stopping this tax credit. The mortgage-interest tax deduction does not really save homeowners money. It is a shortsighted illusion. What the government gives to “the homeowner” on one hand is passed on to the mortgage banker by “the market” process that leads bidders for property to pledge the net available rental value to the banks in order to obtain a loan to buy the home (or an office building, or an entire industrial company, for that matter.) “Equilibrium” is achieved at the point where whatever rental value the tax collector relinquishes becomes available to be capitalized into bank loans.

    This means that what appears at first as “helping homeowner” afford to pay mortgages turns out merely to enable them to afford to pay more interest to their bankers. The tax giveaway uses homebuyers as “throughputs” to transfer tax favoritism to the banks.

    It gets worse. By removing the traditional tax on real estate, state, local and federal governments need to tax labor and industry more, by transforming the property tax onto income and sales taxes. For banks, this is transmuting tax revenue into gold – into interest. And as for the home-owning middle class, it now has to pay the former property tax to the banker as interest, and also to pay the new taxes on income and sales that are levied to make up for the tax shift.

    I support removing the tax favoritism for debt leveraging. The problem with the Deficit Commission is that it does not extend this reform to the rest of the economy – to the commercial real estate sector, and to the corporate sector.

    The argument is made that “The rich create jobs.” After all, somebody has to build the yachts. What is missing is the more general principle: Wealth and income inequality destroy job creation. This is because beyond the wealthy soon reach a limit on how much they can consume. They spend their money buying financial securities – mainly bonds, which end up indebting the economy. And the debt overhead is what is pushing today’s economy into deepening depression.

    Since the 1980s, corporate raiders have borrowed high-interest “junk bond” credit to take over companies and make money by stripping assets, cutting back long-term investment, research and development, and paying out depreciation credit to their financiers. Financially parasitized companies use corporate income to buy back their stock to support its price – and hence, the value of stock options that financial managers give themselves – and borrow yet more money for stock buybacks or simply to pay out as dividends. When the process has run its course, they threaten their work force with bankruptcy that will wipe out its pension benefits if employees do not agree to “downsize” their claims and replace defined-benefit plans with defined-contribution plans (in which all that employees know is how much they pay in each month, not what they will get in the end). By the time this point has been reached, the financial managers have paid themselves outsized salaries and bonuses, and cashed in their stock options – all subsidized by the government’s favorable tax treatment of debt leveraging.

    The attempted raids on McDonalds and other companies in recent years provide object lessons in this destructive financial policy of “shareholder activists.” Yet Mr. Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission is restricting its removal of tax favoritism for debt leveraging only for middle class homeowners, not for the financial sector across the board. What makes this particularly absurd is that two thirds of homeowners do not even itemize their deductions. The fiscal loss resulting from tax deductibility of interest stems mainly from commercial investors.

    If the argument is correct (and I think it is) that permitting interest to be tax deductible merely “frees” more revenue to pay interest to banks – to capitalize into yet higher loans – then why isn’t this principle even more applicable to the Donald Trumps and other absentee owners who seek always to use “other peoples’ money” rather than their own? In practice, the “money” turns out to be bank credit whose cost to the banks is now under 1%. The financial-fiscal system is siphoning off rental value from commercial real estate investment, increasing the price of rental properties, commercial real estate, and indeed, industry and agriculture.

    Alas, the Obama administration has backed the Geithner-Bernanke policy that “the economy” cannot recover without saving the debt overhead. The reality is that it is the debt overhead that is destroying the economy. So we are dealing with the irreconcilable fact that the Obama position threatens to lower living standards from 10% to 20% over the coming few years – making the United States look more like Greece, Ireland and Latvia than what was promised in the last presidential election.

    Something has to give politically if the economy is to change course. More to the point, what has to give is favoritism for Wall Street at the expense of the economy at large. What has made the U.S. economy uncompetitive is primarily the degree to which debt service has been built into the cost of living and doing business. Post-classical “junk economics” treats interest and fees as payment for the “service” for providing credit. But interest (like economic rent and monopoly price extraction) is a transfer payment to bankers with the privilege of credit creation. The beneficiaries of providing tax favoritism for debt are the super-rich at the top of the economic pyramid – the 2% whom Mr. Obama’s tax giveaway will benefit by over $700 billion.

    If the present direction of tax “reform” is not reversed, Mr. Obama will shed crocodile tears for the middle class as he sponsors the Deficit Reduction Commission’s program of cutting back Social Security and revenue sharing to save states and cities from defaulting on their pensions. One third of U.S. real estate already is reported to have sunk into negative equity, squeezing state and local tax collection, forcing a choice to be made between bankruptcy, debt default, or shifting the losses onto the shoulders of labor, off those of the wealthy creditor layer of the economy responsible for loading it down with debt.

    Critics of the Obama-Bush agenda recall how America’s Gilded Age of the late 19th century was an era of economic polarization and class war. At that time the Democratic leader William Jennings Bryan accused Wall Street and Eastern creditors of crucifying the American economy on a cross of gold. Restoration of gold at its pre-Civil War price led to a financial war in the form of debt deflation as falling prices and incomes received by farmers and wage labor made the burden of paying their mortgage debts heavier. The Income Tax law of 1913 sought to rectify this by only falling on the wealthiest 1% of the population – the only ones obliged to file tax returns. Capital gains were taxed at normal rates. Most of the tax burden therefore fell on finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector.

    The vested interests have spent a century fighting back. They now see victory within reach, by perpetuating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%, phasing out of the estate tax on wealth, the tax shift off property onto labor income and consumer sales, and slashing public spending on anything except more bailouts and subsidies for the emerging financial oligarchy that has become Mr. Obama’s “bipartisan” constituency.

    What we need is a Futures Commission to forecast just what will the rich do with the victory they have won. As administered by President Obama and his designated appointees Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke, their policy is financially and fiscally unsustainable. Providing tax incentives for debt leveraging – for most of the population to go into debt to the rich, whose taxes are all but abolished – is shrinking the economy. This will lead to even deeper financial crises, employer defaults and fiscal insolvency at the state, local and federal levels. Future presidents will call for new bailouts, using a strategy much like going to military war. A financial war requires an emergency to rush through Congress, as occurred in 2008-09. Mr. Obama’s appointees are turning the U.S. economy into a Permanent Emergency, a Perpetual Ponzi Scheme requiring injections of more and more Quantitative Easing to to rescue “the economy” (Mr. Obama’s euphemism for creditors at the top of the economic pyramid) from being pushed into insolvency. Mr. Bernanke’s helicopter flies only over Wall Street. It does not drop monetary relief on the population at large.

    “The Wurst of Obama: He’s Carving the Middle Class into Sausage Filler as a Super-Meal for the Rich.”

    Michael Hudson is a frequent contributor to Global Research.Click here for Global Research Articles by Michael Hudson

     

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    US moves into final military phase in Iraq

    Posted by Admin on September 1, 2010

    Iraq header 1

    Image via Wikipedia

    BAGHDAD – The U.S. on Wednesday moved into the final phase of its military involvement in Iraq, with administration officials saying the war was ending even as the new commander of the remaining 50,000 troops warned of the ongoing threat from “hostile elements.”

    The transfer of authority came a day after President Barack Obama announced the shift from combat operations to preparing Iraqi forces to assume responsibility for their own security. Obama made clear in Tuesday’s speech that this was no victory celebration.

    A six-month stalemate over forming a new Iraqi government has raised concerns about the country’s stability and questions over whether the leadership can cope with a diminished but still dangerous insurgency.

    Newly promoted Army Gen. Lloyd Austin also maintained a somber tone as he took the reins of the some 50,000 American troops who remain in Iraq, with a deadline for a full withdrawal by the end of next year.

    He noted “hostile enemies” continue to threaten Iraq and pledged that “our national commitment to Iraq will not change.”

    “Although challenges remain, we will face these challenges together,” Austin said during the ceremony at the opulent al-Faw palace of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

    Austin, who most recently served in Iraq as commander of troop operations from 2008-09, replaces Gen. Ray Odierno, who is heading to Virginia to take over the Joint Forces Command after about five years in Iraq.

    “This period in Iraq’s history will probably be remembered for sacrifice, resilience and change,” Odierno said. “However, I remember it as a time in which the Iraqi people stood up against tyranny, terrorism and extremism, and decided to determine their own destiny as a people and as a democratic state.”

    Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen presided over the ceremony, which was held at the main U.S. military headquarters on the southwestern outskirts of Baghdad.

    Gates, visiting American troops in the Iraqi city of Ramadi Wednesday, said history will judge whether the fight was worth it for the United States.

    “The problem with this war, I think, for many Americans, is that the premise on which we justified going to war turned out not to be valid,” he said. “Even if the outcome is a good one from the standpoint of the United States, it’ll always be clouded by how it began.”

    Claiming that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, then-President George W. Bush ordered the invasion with approval of a Congress still reeling from the 9/11 attacks. Bush’s claims were based on faulty intelligence, and the weapons were never found.

    Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said his country is grateful for what the Americans have done, but it is now time for Iraqis to secure their own future.

    “We appreciate the sacrifices the U.S. military and the American people made while standing with us in these very, very difficult times,” Zebari told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “The war for Iraq’s future is ongoing and it should be fought and won by the Iraqi people and their leaders,” Zebari said.

    Obama acknowledged the ambiguous nature of the war in which American forces quickly ousted Saddam but were never able to fully control the Sunni Muslim insurgency against the Shiite-dominated establishment that even now threatens to re-ignite.

    Still, he said the time had come to close this divisive chapter in U.S. history.

    “We have met our responsibility,” Obama said. “Now it is time to turn the page.”

    Avoiding any hint of claiming victory in a war he once called a major mistake, the president recognized the sacrifices of America’s military. More than 4,400 American troops and an estimated 100,000 Iraqis were killed at a cost of billions of dollars.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, said Tuesday the end of U.S. combat operations was a return to sovereignty for the battered country and he reassured his people that their own security forces could defend them.

    Iraqi forces on Wednesday appeared to be on heightened alert, spread out at checkpoints across the city intended to reassure the populace and ward off insurgent attacks.

    Just under 50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq — down from a peak of about 170,000 at the height in 2007. Those forces will not be able to go on combat missions unless requested and accompanied by Iraqi forces.

    But drawing a line between what is and is not combat may not be easy. All American forces carry weapons and they still come under attack from insurgents near daily. Earlier this month, for example, Sgt. Brandon E. Maggart, 24, of Kirksville, Mo. was killed near the southern city of Basra on Aug. 22 — a few days after the last combat brigade rolled across the border into Kuwait.

    Iraq is also far from the stable democracy once depicted by the Bush administration and hoped for by Obama when he laid out his timeline for withdrawing American troops shortly after he took office in 2009.

    Half a year has passed since Iraq’s March 7 elections and the country’s political leaders have so far failed to form a new government.

    While Iraqis are generally happy to see the U.S. military pulling back, they are also apprehensive the withdrawal may be premature as militants hammer local security forces. Iraqis also say they fear their country may still revert to a dictatorship or split along religious and ethnic fault lines.

    ___

    AP National Security Correspondent Anne Gearan in Ramadi and AP Writer Barbara Surk in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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    So, Who Won the War in Iraq? Iran.

    Posted by Admin on August 31, 2010

    Original caption:"Shaking Hands: Iraqi Pr...

    Image via Wikipedia

    by: Mohamad Bazzi  |  GlobalPost | News Analysis

    Beirut, Lebanon – In February 2003, as he marshaled the United States for war, President George W. Bush declared: “A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.”

    Now, as the U.S. military concludes its combat role — which President Barack Obama will formally announce from the Oval Office on Tuesday — Iraq is indeed a dramatic example for the Middle East, but not in the ways that Bush and his administration envisioned. Iraq did not become a beacon of democracy, nor did it create a domino effect that toppled other dictatorial regimes in the Arab world. Instead, the Iraq war has unleashed a new wave of sectarian hatred and upset the Persian Gulf’s strategic balance, helping Iran consolidate its role as the dominant regional power.

    The Bush administration argued that its goal was to protect U.S. interests and security in the long run. But the region is far more unstable and combustible than it was when U.S. forces began their march to Baghdad seven years ago. Throughout the Middle East, relations between Sunnis and Shiites are badly strained by the sectarian bloodletting in Iraq. Sunnis are worried about the regional ascendance of the Shiite-led regime in Iran; its nuclear program; its growing influence on the Iraqi leadership; and its meddling in other countries with large Shiite communities, especially Lebanon.

    Iran is the biggest beneficiary of the American misadventure in Iraq. The U.S. ousted Tehran’s sworn enemy, Saddam Hussein, from power. Then Washington helped install a Shiite government for the first time in Iraq’s modern history. As U.S. troops became mired in fighting an insurgency and containing a civil war, Iran extended its influence over all of Iraq’s Shiite factions.

    Today’s Middle East has been shaped by several proxy wars. In Iraq, neighboring Sunni regimes backed Sunni militants, while Iran supported Shiite militias. In Lebanon, an alliance between Washington and authoritarian Sunni Arab regimes — Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries — backed a Sunni-led government against Hezbollah, a Shiite militia funded by Iran. And in the Palestinian territories, Iran and Syria supported the militant Hamas, while the U.S. and its Arab allies backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement.

    In 2007, at the height of the insurgency and sectarian conflict in Iraq, I went to see Marwan Kabalan, a political scientist at Damascus University. He explained the regional dynamics better than anyone else. “Everyone is fighting battles through local proxies. It’s like the Cold War,” he told me. “All regimes in the Middle East recognize that America has lost the war in Iraq. They’re all maneuvering to protect their interests and to gain something out of the American defeat.”

    With U.S. influence waning and Iran ascendant, Iraq’s other neighbors are still jockeying to gain a foothold with the new government in Baghdad. For example, Saudi Arabia’s ruling Al-Saud dynasty views itself as the rightful leader of the Muslim world, but Iran is challenging that leadership right now. Although Saudi Arabia has a Sunni majority, its rulers fear Iran’s potential influence over a sizable and sometimes-restive Shiite population concentrated in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province. In Bahrain (another American ally in the Persian Gulf), the Shiite majority is chafing under Sunni rulers who also fear Iran’s reach.

    Even worse, the brutal war between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni minority unleashed sectarian hatreds that are difficult to contain. This blowback has been most keenly felt in Lebanon, a small country with a history of religious strife. During Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990, the sectarian divide was between Muslims and Christians. This time, the conflict is mainly between Sunnis and Shiites — and it is fueled, in part, by the bloodbath in Iraq.

    After Saddam was executed in December 2006, Sunnis saw the U.S. and the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government as killing off the last vestiges of Arab nationalism. Although Saddam was once a dependable ally of the West, by the 1990s he was among the few Arab leaders who defied the United States and European powers. In the Sunni view, America and its allies eradicated the idea of a glorious Arab past without offering any replacement for it — other than sectarianism.

    In 2007 and 2008, Lebanese Sunnis felt besieged as they watched news from Iraq of Shiite death squads executing Sunnis and driving them out of Baghdad neighborhoods. At the same time, Hezbollah was trying to topple the Sunni-led Lebanese government by staging street protests and a massive sit-in that paralyzed downtown Beirut. In January 2007, as they confronted Hezbollah supporters during a nationwide strike, groups of Sunnis waved posters of Saddam and chanted his name in front of TV cameras.

    It was a rich contradiction: American-allied Sunnis in Lebanon carrying posters of Saddam, a dictator the U.S. had spent billions of dollars and lost thousands of lives to depose. But it was also a declaration of war. Saddam, after all, killed hundreds of thousands of Shiites in Iraq. Many Lebanese Shiites have relatives in Iraq, and the two communities have had close ties for centuries. Lebanon’s political factions eventually compromised on a new government, but the underlying sectarian tensions are still in place, with everyone keeping a wary eye on Iraq.

    As Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds argue over sharing power and the country’s oil wealth, violence is on the rise yet again. The latest elections produced a deadlocked parliament in Baghdad that has not been able to agree on a new government. Far from becoming a model of freedom and religious coexistence, Iraq remains a powder keg that could ignite sectarian conflict across the Middle East.

    Mohamad Bazzi is a journalism professor at New York University and an adjunct senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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