Tag Archives: Iraq

Hey Iraqis: How’s that “Liberation” Stuff Workin’ Out For Ya?

Center for a Stateless Society

building public awareness of left-wing market anarchism

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  on Mar 21, 2013

On March 19 Donald Rumsfeld, former US “Defense” Secretary and ongoing sociopath and moral leper, celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War with this tweet: “10 yrs ago began the long, difficult work of liberating 25 mil Iraqis. All who played a role in history deserve our respect & appreciation.”

Just what “liberation” meant to Rummy, Dummy and Scummy can be seen from the agenda Paul Bremer implemented as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq. Imagine the kind of “What I Would Do If I Were Absolute Dictator For A Year” list an entire army of ALEC staffers and Heritage Foundation interns would come up with, with the RIAA, MPAA, Monsanto, Halliburton and Blackwater egging them on, and that’s basically what Bremer did to Iraq.

Bremer’s CPA was a classic “night watchman state.” Remember all those priceless historical treasures the looters “liberated” from the National Museum while the U.S. looked the other way? With Night Watchman Bremer’s go-ahead, global corporate looters gave the Iraqi economy just as thorough a ransacking.

Bremer’s infamous “100 Orders” repealed virtually all of the Saddam-era legal structure — except for the 1987 Labor Code, which prohibited collective bargaining in the state sector. The state sector encompassed two hundred state-owned firms (a major chunk of the industrial economy), and Bremer wanted to “privatize” them in insider sweetheart deals with crony capitalists. Legalizing unions might gum up the works.

The CPA refused to unfreeze the assets of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU). Bremer ordered US troops to storm the IFTU headquarters and kept it closed down for months. A local American commander helpfully told an imprisoned union organizer that Iraq was not a sovereign country, and that so long as it was under the administration of the CPA Bremer didn’t want unions.

Bremer’s 100 Orders also included Order 81 on “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety,” which updated “intellectual property” law to “meet current internationally-recognized standards of protection” like the WIPO Copyright Treaty and Uruguay Round TRIPS Accord (which the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act was also passed to implement). Among other things, the new law criminalized saving seeds for the next year.

The entire legal regime Bremer implemented by decree was to remain the law of the land even after the restoration of sovereignty, until — and unless — it was supervened by a new constitution. The so-called “transfer of sovereignty” was to a government appointed by the CPA, enabling Bremer to evade the restriction in international law against a conqueror directly selling off state assets — while also leaving in place an “interim constitution” based on Bremer’s 100 Orders.

Article 26 of Bremer’s Constitution, stated that “[t]he laws, regulations, orders and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority … shall remain in force” under the interim government, until the “sovereign” puppet regime was replaced by general elections. As Naomi Klein observed in “Baghdad Year Zero” (Harper’s, September 2004):

“Bremer had found his legal loophole: There would be a window — seven months — when the occupation was officially over but before general elections were scheduled to take place. Within this window, the Hague and Geneva Conventions’ bans on privatization would no longer apply, but Bremer’s own laws, thanks to Article 26, would stand. During these seven months, foreign investors could come to Iraq and sign forty-year contracts to buy up Iraqi assets. If a future elected Iraqi government decided to change the rules, investors could sue for compensation.”

The “interim constitution” was designed to make its own replacement by referendum extremely difficult — among other things, requiring any new constitution actually approved by the people of Iraq (as opposed to decreed by Bremer’s fiat) to receive  at least thirty percent of the vote in sixteen of Iraq’s eighteen provinces.

On top of everything else, Bremer appointed a whole slew of ministerial officials to five-year terms that would override any later decisions by an independent government.

Meanwhile, a “debt forgiveness” plan negotiated with creditor nations under IMF auspices used debt contracted by Saddam — debt that should have been treated as odious, and hence null and void — as a whip to coerce adherence to the Washington Consensus economic agenda.

This is the “liberation” agenda for which Rumsfeld and his fellow war criminals murdered hundreds of thousands, and physically crippled or psychologically scarred untold hundreds of thousands more. If that’s the kind of “liberation” you like, may you soon join Rumsfeld in hell.

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Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political EconomyOrganization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation, and his own Mutualist Blog.


The Humiliation of Palestinian Refugees (Full Movie)

The story we never hear. How the Arabs really treat the Palestinians when they live in their countries. (E)


Wrong Ideas Are Sinking America

by Michael S. Rozeff

Recently by Michael S. Rozeff: Get Off the Road to War: Stop the Sanctions on Iran

The beliefs of America’s leaders are deeply ingrained. They have been recruited and made leaders because they have those beliefs and hold them quite inflexibly. For example, American leaders believe in making wars conducted by the state, including such military wars as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and such social wars as the war on drugs and the war on poverty. In this belief, America’s leaders are supported by large numbers of Americans, enough so that they can institute and carry on these wars.

Military wars entail the suspension of ordinary morality. They are viewed as extraordinary events in which ordinary people don uniforms, take up arms, fly airplanes, launch bombs, throw grenades and routinely kill other people without fear of punishment. War is supposedly a case when the ends justify nasty and immoral means. By creating the appearance of wars or semi-wars or crusades against drugs, poverty, terror, discrimination, obesity and diseases, to name a few causes, the same kind of suspension of morality can be invoked. The leaders make it seem “all right” to suspend people’s rights and to force them to do what they want.

Look at what the war on terror has done in this respect. It now is supposed to be all right to detain suspects, torture them, hide them away in prisons in foreign countries without charges, trials or due process of law. The President is taken to be doing the right thing by assassinating whom he wants to or arresting whom he wants to, even if they are Americans, and if only he suspects them of terrorist wrongdoing. The TSA is allowed to assault travelers sexually. Travelers are forced to pass through x-ray machines. Police have become militarized. Searches and seizures face vanishing barriers. Probable cause is a memory. Border crossings are no longer routine.

And all of this and more are things that America’s leaders want us to think are right. Well, they are not. They are wrong. They are as wrong as the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. They are as wrong as every one of the social wars instituted by the U.S. government. All of them violate rights. All of them violate any decent morality. All of them are pragmatically wrong as well.

By now it is or should be obvious that all of these wars, without exception, have been and still are losing propositions for America. This is beyond debate, but neither Democrat nor Republican partisans, who criticize the policies of their opponents, admit that their particular hobby-horses are failures. Both sides are always ready to tinker around the edges with a government program or add to it, but neither side presents radical criticism of longstanding assumptions and institutions. Meanwhile, the American people are largely fast asleep at the wheel. They present no systematic resistance to the immoralities of their state and empire.

Consistent failure of their wars does not sway America’s leaders, who are now prepared to start an aggressive war on Iran. The very concept of such a war is wrong. The policy of domination of Iran that goes back well over 50 years is wrong. It should be replaced, but this is not obvious to America’s leaders because they have been taught otherwise and have taken power while firmly believing the opposite. A notable exception occurred when Nixon went to China.

Obama hasn’t gone to Iran. He completely failed to follow up on his 2009 “new beginning” speech in which he mentioned a sound basis from which to proceed with Iran, namely, “mutual respect”. He and his appointees instead followed through with the very threats that he said at that time wouldn’t work: “This process will not be advanced by threats.” Is it any wonder the Iranians suspect duplicity?

In making all of its wars, military and social, the American leadership regards people as mere names and numbers, mere parts of a social puzzle that can be moved around and manipulated at their will. This is a wrong idea in practice and it is a wrong idea morally. It is at root immoral, since it is anti-person and anti-humanity. America’s leaders do not see their wars in that way.

America’s leaders believe in their own power and superiority, and this implies that they believe in the powerlessness and inferiority of the masses in America. A fortiori, they regard foreign states and their peoples as inferior and objects to be manipulated. These ideas are also wrong morally and practically. There is literally nothing that endows America’s leaders with an inherent superiority that justifies treating others as inferiors. Their power doesn’t make them superior. A robber who points a big gun at one’s head has power, but that doesn’t make him better or superior. His aggression in fact makes him morally suspect. Nor does the decision to pursue or attain power make one superior any more than does the decision to become a robber. Treating others as fodder for American bombs or as political or economic pawns that are subject to threats and manipulation is bound to backfire in the long run.

America’s leaders believe in their ability to achieve their ends, and they believe in the rightness of their having the power to choose and shape these ends. These too are erroneous ideas. Anyone but them can see easily that their wars have been failures for mankind. Had they been successful as leaders, these wars would have not occurred. They would not even have been regarded, even mistakenly regarded, as needed.

It is surely not right to believe that one or a few persons should have the power as leaders to choose the ends of everyone else or the power to shape those ends. Such an idea is obviously directly at odds with the idea of liberty for every person.

All of these wrong-headed ideas and beliefs of the American leadership are more and more clashing with reality. The false and immoral beliefs outlined above when put into practice are bankrupting the nation, causing misery and retarding the progress of Americans. More and more it is evident, even to the true believing leaders, that something is rotten in their empire. Some see the light and abandon their unworkable ideas. They leave government. Others remain but become cynical. Others retain their statist faith but are unsure what the sources of the rot are. They keep up the heart and soul of their failing philosophy of power while making cosmetic changes. They continue to repeat the past errors. They even redouble their failing efforts out of the erroneous belief that others before them just didn’t try hard enough.

Americans need to understand that there are educational and media institutions in place that support the state and empire by continually raising new crops of leaders who keep up these false beliefs and wrong ideas.

Class after class of American youth have been taught that Americans may kill other peoples to achieve American political aims and that this is good, for other peoples are children or savages or inept or ignorant or inferior, while the American ways are superior. Americans have in the past imagined themselves the reluctant killers and victors, without the aims of conquest of past civilizations. They have imagined themselves as the kind, generous, and beneficent empire while not counting those whom they have murdered. For America is good. It has a big heart. It may make mistakes, but its intent is noble. It has a good heart. These have been the myths cultivated in the breeding grounds of those who man the machinery of empire.

The murderous intentions and false ideas are coming more and more out into the open. The reluctance to kill is disappearing. How many Americans joke about “nuking” other peoples? In the 2007 movie “In the Valley of Elah,” one young soldier back from Iraq has these lines:

“You know Mike, he loved the army. Couldn’t wait to get there, save the good guys and hurt the bad guys.

“They shouldn’t send heroes to places like Iraq.

“Everything there’s f****d up.

“Before I went, I’d never say this, but you ask me now…they should just nuke it and watch it all turn back to dust.”

This captures a naive belief in American superiority and a belief that it was right to invade Iraq as if the invasion were some kind of heroic rescue operation. It also captures the psychology of blaming the victims and wanting to nuke them. Get them out of one’s mind. Remove the burden of having lived through war’s horrors and not having achieved anything.

Laurence Vance quotes from the deadliest American sniper in Iraq:

“Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy ‘savages.’ There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there. People ask me all the time, ‘How many people have you killed?’ My standard response is, ‘Does the answer make me less, or more, of a man?’ The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives. Everyone I shot in Iraq was trying to harm Americans or Iraqis loyal to the new government.”

This soldier believes in his right to kill, under the American flag, even if uninvited to a foreign land. He believes in the rightness of the American presence and cause, and therefore if someone is trying to kill Americans in Iraq, to him they must be evil savages. And he believes the converse as well. Since they are savages, we have a right to fight and kill them. The sniper’s account is valuable. It expresses openly a few of the hidden immoral presumptions of American leaders. It expresses the hidden beliefs of a great many Americans who, with their leaders, usually hide them.

Generations of Americans have been schooled in myths that have subverted mankind’s moral knowledge and replaced it with a devotion to the state and to empire, all the while proclaiming that Americans were doing God’s work. A system was erected by which youths were selected who were the most willing and able supporters of state and empire. Internships were granted as were scholarships and fellowships. Universities were funded to act as ways to filter and credential those willing to support the state. Military service became one route to election. The myth of public service was cultivated. Military service was made out to be attractive to young men (and women) with the requisite propensities.

A deep belief in the goodness of the state and of government was inculcated. A deep distrust of the masses and of freedom naturally accompanied it.

A system of ensuring the continuity of the empire and its guiding myths was built up. Now centered in Washington, D.C. but with tentacles that reach deeply into every major university and into a ring of centers, foundations, think tanks and the like, America raises up generation after generation of men and women of empire. The moral influences from other sources are dwarfed by the devotion of these cadres to their careers and to state and empire. While there are numerous cynics among them, many of them believe in the goodness and rightness of their chosen course. This is what allows them to be part of the machinery within which they pay others mercilessly to murder foreign peoples when they decide to. This belief in their own rightness and goodness is what allows them to cloak their deep immorality in the language of the morality that they have rejected and that is absent from their hearts, having been extinguished by long years of the opposite training.

By no accident, America is a ship headed for the rocks. This course has been built into America and Americans for many years. Entire generations have been born and bred to man the government that is steering the ship to its final collision. Generations of Americans have been born and bred to accept state and empire.

America’s leaders charted this course for America many decades before 9/11. For years the seas looked calm and the winds favorable. Most Americans were blind to the collision course, supported it and applauded it. Even as large an event as the Vietnam War did not cure the blindness. Economic woes have not cured it. An event like 9/11 made matters worse. Far from being a warning beacon to change course, 9/11 has been a Siren luring America to its destruction. In one of the worst decades for liberty in American history, Americans turned to aggressive wars, to more and more intense monetary and economic manipulations, to new forms of welfare, and to the destruction of the Bill of Rights. The ship is being torn apart on reefs and draws closer to the jagged rocks that threaten to sink it altogether.

America’s leaders are now bringing America again to the brink of a new war, with Iran the target.

The two options regarding Iran are now and always have been the same: develop peaceful relations based on mutual respect, live and let live, peace, neutrality and non-interference; or else attempt to control and dominate Iran for the U.S.’s own ends.

Option 2 is the empire’s option of choice. It is an option consistent with its immorality, self-righteous attitudes and long held assumptions.

Following option 1 means a comprehensive settlement of the issues relating to Israel. The U.S. keeps rejecting offers to negotiate such a settlement, not only because the U.S. prefers power plays, but also because U.S. foreign policy is catering to Israel in important respects, and any such settlement will have to settle thorny issues such as thenature and characterof the state of Israel that Israel’s leaders prefer to avoid. They’d have to give up something in order to get some of the things they want.

It is the responsibility of all those states that participated in Israel’s creation, those peoples who have been most affected by it, and those that have a stake in the region to settle these issues by negotiation. For the U.S. (or Israel) to go to war with Iran partly as an indirect result of failing to confront the issues is both morally wrong and irresponsible, being unresponsive to the underlying problem, which is the nature of Israel and its relations with its neighbors.

The wrong ideas of America’s leaders got us to this point, and now, if these ideas do not change or if Americans do not rise up and stop them from being put into practice, the leaders are going to pursue them to their logical and destructive end. A disaster for America and Americans looms directly ahead because a military attack on Iran opens up all kinds of unpredictable consequences, some of which could last for another 100 years. This is no way to build a constructive world.

February 4, 2012

Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.

Copyright © 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

The Best of Michael S. Rozeff


Blood on Whose Hands?

Chase Madar

English: Slogan for the support of the persecu...

Lawyer, writer

Bradley Manning, Washington, and the Blood of Civilians

Who in their right mind wants to talk about, think about, or read a short essay about… civilian war casualties?  What a bummer, this topic, especially since our Afghan, Iraq, and other ongoing wars were advertised as uplifting acts of philanthropy: wars to spread security, freedom, democracy, human rights, gender equality, the rule of law, etc.

A couple hundred thousand dead civilians have a way of making such noble ideals seem like dollar-store tinsel.  And so, throughout our decade-long foreign policy debacle in the Greater Middle East, we in the U.S. have generally agreed that no one shall commit the gaucherie of dwelling on (and “dwelling on” = fleetingly mentioned) civilian casualties. Washington elites may squabble over some things, but as for foreigners killed by our numerous wars, our Beltway crew adheres to a sullen code of omertà.

Club rules do, however, permit one loophole: Washington officials may bemoan the nightmare of civilian casualties — but only if they can be pinned on a 24-year-old Army private first class named Bradley Manning.

Pfc. Manning, you will remember, is the young soldier who is soon to be court-martialed for passing some 750,000 military and diplomatic documents, a large chunk of them classified, to the website WikiLeaks.  Among those leaks, there was indeed some serious stuff about how Americans dealt with civilians in invaded countries.  For instance, the documents revealed that the U.S. military, then the occupying force in Iraq, did little or nothing to prevent Iraqi authorities from torturing prisoners in a variety of gruesome ways, sometimes to death.

Then there was that gun-sight video — unclassified but buried in classified material — of an American Apache helicopter opening fire on a crowd on a Baghdad street, gunning down a dozen men, including two Reuters employees, and injuring more, including children.  There were also those field reports about how jumpy American soldiers repeatedly shot down civilians at roadside checkpoints; about night raids gone wrong both in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a count of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, a tally whose existence the U.S. military had previously denied possessing.

Together, these leaks and many others offered a composite portrait of military and political debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan whose grinding theme has been civilian casualties, a fact not much noted here in the U.S.  A tiny number of low-ranking American soldiers have been held to account for rare instances of premeditated murder of civilians, but most of the troops who kill civilians in the midst of the chaos of war are not tried, much less convicted.  We don’t talk about these cases a lot either.  On the other hand, officials of all types make free with lusty condemnations of Bradley Manning, whose leaks are luridly credited with potential (though not actual) deaths.

Putting Lives in Danger

“[WikiLeaks] might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the release of the Afghan War Logs in July 2010.  This was, of course, the same Admiral Mullen who had endorsed a major escalation of the war in Afghanistan, which would lead to a tremendous “surge” in casualties among civilians and soldiers alike.  Here are counts — undoubtedly undercounts, in fact — of real Afghan corpses that, at least in part, resulted from the policy he supported: 2,412 in 2009, 2,777 in 2010, 1,462 in the first half 2011, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan.  As far as anyone knows, here are the corpses that resulted from the release of those WikiLeaks documents: 0.  (And don’t forget, the stalemate war with the Taliban has not budged in the period since that surge.)  Who, then, has blood on his hands, Pfc. Manning — or Admiral Mullen?

Of course the admiral is hardly alone.  In fact, whole tabernacle choirs have joined in the condemnation of Manning and WikiLeaks for “causing” carnage, thanks to their disclosures.

Robert Gates, who served as secretary of defense under George W. Bush and then Barack Obama, also spoke sternly of Manning’s leaks, accusing him of “moral culpability.”  He added, “And that’s where I think the verdict is ‘guilty’ on WikiLeaks. They have put this out without any regard whatsoever for the consequences.”

This was, of course, the same Robert Gates who pushed for escalation in Afghanistan in 2009 and, in March 2011, flew to the Kingdom of Bahrain to offer his own personal “reassurance of support” to a ruling monarchy already busy shooting and torturing nonviolent civilian protesters.  So again, when it comes to blood and indifference to consequences, Bradley Manning — or Robert Gates?

Nor have such attitudes been confined to the military. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Manning’s (alleged) leak of 250,000 diplomatic cables of being “an attack on the international community” that “puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.”

As a senator, of course, she supported the invasion of Iraq in flagrant contravention of the U.N. Charter.  She was subsequently a leading hawkwhen it came to escalating and expanding the Afghan War, and is now responsible for disbursing an annual $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt’s ruling junta whose forces have repeatedly opened fire on nonviolent civilian protesters.  So who’s been attacking the international community and putting lives in danger, Bradley Manning — or Hillary Clinton?

Harold Koh, former Yale Law School dean, liberal lion, and currently the State Department’s top legal adviser, has announced that the same leaked diplomatic cables “could place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals — from journalists to human rights activists and bloggers to soldiers to individuals providing information to further peace and security.”

This is the same Harold Koh who, in March 2010, provided a tortured legal rationale for the Obama administration’s drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, despite the inevitable and well-documented civilian casualties they cause.  So who is risking the lives of countless innocent individuals, Bradley Manning — or Harold Koh?

Much of the media have clambered aboard the bandwagon, blaming WikiLeaks and Manning for damage done by wars they once energetically cheered on.

In early 2011, to pick just one example from the ranks of journalism, New Yorker writer George Packerprofessed his horror that WikiLeaks had released a memo marked “secret/noforn” listing spots throughout the world of vital strategic or economic interest to the United States.  Asked by radio host Brian Lehrer whether this disclosure had crossed a new line by making a gratuitous gift to terrorists, Packer replied with an appalled yes.

Now, among the “secrets” contained in this document are the facts that the Strait of Gibraltar is a vital shipping lane and that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in minerals. Have we Americans become so infantilized that factoids of basic geography must be considered state secrets?  (Maybe best not to answer that question.)  The “threat” of this document’s release has since been roundly debunkedby various military intellectuals.

Nevertheless, Packer’s response was instructive.  Here was a typical liberal hawk, who had can-canned to the post-9/11 drumbeat of war as a therapeutic wake-up call from “the bland comforts of peace,” now affronted by WikiLeaks’ supposed recklessness.  Civilian casualties do not seem to have been on Packer’s mind when he supported the invasion of Iraq, nor has he written much about them since.

In an enthusiastic 2006 New Yorker essay on counterinsurgency warfare, for example, the very words “civilian casualties” never come up, despite their centrality to COIN theory, practice, and history.  It is a fact that, as Operation Enduring Freedom shifted to counterinsurgency tactics in 2009, civilian casualties in Afghanistan skyrocketed.  So, for that matter, have American military casualties.  (More than half of U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan occurred in the past three years.)

Liberal hawks like Packer may consider WikiLeaks out of bounds, but really, who in these last years has been the most reckless, Bradley Manning — or George Packer and some of his pro-war colleagues at theNew Yorker like Jeffrey Goldberg (who has since left for the Atlantic Monthly, where he’s been busilyclearing a path for war with Iran) and editor David Remnick?

Centrist and liberal nonprofit think tanks have been no less selectively blind when it comes to civilian carnage. Liza Goitein, a lawyer at the liberal-minded Brennan Center at NYU Law School, has also taken out after Bradley Manning.  In the midst of an otherwise deft diagnosis of Washington’s compulsive urge to over-classify everything — the federal government classifies an amazing 77 million documents a year — she pauses just long enough to accuse Manning of “criminal recklessness” for putting civilians named in the Afghan War logs in peril — “a disclosure,” as she puts it, “that surely endangers their safety.”

It’s worth noting that, until the moment Goitein made this charge, not a single report or press release issued by the Brennan Center has ever so much as uttered a mention of civilian casualties caused by the U.S. military.  The absence of civilian casualties is almost palpable in the work of the Brennan Center’s program in  “Liberty and National Security.”  For example, this program’s 2011 report “Rethinking Radicalization,” which explored effective, lawful ways to prevent American Muslims from turning terrorist, makes not a single reference to the tens of thousands of well-documented civilian casualties caused by American military force in the Muslim world, which according to many scholars is the prime mover of terrorist blowback.  The report on how to combat the threat of Muslim terrorists, written by Pakistan-born Faiza Patel, does not, in fact, even contain the words “Iraq,” “Afghanistan,” “drone strike,” “Pakistan” or “civilian casualties.”

This is almost incredible, because terrorists themselves have freely confessed that what motivated their acts of wanton violence has been the damage done by foreign military occupation back home or simply in the Muslim world.  Asked by a federal judge why he tried to blow up Times Square with a car bomb in May 2010, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad answered that he was motivated by the civilian carnage the U.S. had caused in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  How could any report about “rethinking radicalization” fail to mention this?  Although the Brennan Center does much valuable work, Goitein’s selective finger-pointing on civilian casualties is emblematic of a blindness to war’s consequences widespread among American institutions.

American Military Whistleblowers

Knowledge may indeed have its risks, but how many civilian deaths can actually be traced to the WikiLeaks revelations?  How many military deaths?  To the best of anyone’s knowledge, not a single one.  After much huffing and puffing, the Pentagon has quietly denied — and then denied again — that there is any evidence at all of the Taliban targeting the Afghan civilians named in the leaked war logs.

In the end, the “grave risks” involved in the publication of the War Logs and of those State Department documents have been wildly exaggerated.  Embarrassment, yes.  A look inside two grim wars and the workings of imperial diplomacy, yes.  Blood, no.

On the other hand, the grave risks that were hidden in those leaked documents, as well as in all the other government distortions, cover-ups, and lies of the past decade, have been graphically illustrated in aortal red.  The civilian carnage caused by our rush to war in Iraq and by our deeply entrenched stalemate of a war in Afghanistan (and the Pakistani tribal borderlands) is not speculative or theoretical but all-too real.

And yet no one anywhere has been held to much account: not in the political class, not in the military, not in the think tanks, not among the scholars, nor the media.  Only one individual, it seems, will pay, even if he actually spilled none of the blood.  Our foreign policy elites seem to think Bradley Manning is well-cast for the role of fall guy and scapegoat.  This is an injustice.

Someday, it will be clearer to Americans that Pfc. Manning has joined the ranks of great American military whistleblowers like Dan Ellsberg (who was first in his class at Marine officer training school); Vietnam War infantryman Ron Ridenhour, who blew the whistle on the My Lai massacre; and the sailors and marines who, in 1777, reported the torture of British captives by their politically connected commanding officer.  These servicemen, too, were vilified in their times. Today, we honor them, as someday Pfc. Manning will be honored.

Chase Madar is the author of The Passion of Bradley Manning, to be published by OR Books in February.  He is an attorney in New York, a TomDispatch regular, and a frequent contributor to theLondon Review of BooksLe Monde DiplomatiqueAmerican Conservative Magazine, andCounterPunch.  (To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Madar discusses the coming trial of Bradley Manning, click here, or download it to your iPod here.) He tweets @ChMadar.

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Almost Gone by Graham Nash and James Raymond

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A Must Read

If I receive permission I will post this later. In the meantime, You really need to Read this: http://fredoneverything.net/Oo-rah.shtml      

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More Evidence That Reasons Given For Iraq War Have Been a Dismal Failure!

Getting Rid Of Saddam Has Made The Conditions For Women Worse in Iraq

 

 

Women suffering from ‘worst violence in history of modern Iraq’

June 8th, 2011 in Other Sciences / Social Sciences
 

(PhysOrg.com) — Women have been left defenceless and at the mercy of militia groups in the aftermath of the Iraq war in 2003 according to research from the University of Birmingham.

The struggle taking place in  and its impact on  following the dismantling of the state has been investigated by a senior academic in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Birmingham who suggests the war has had detrimental consequences for  and women’s rights.

Dr. Haifaa Jawad’s paper, ‘From liberation to resistance; women in Iraq’ examines the involvement of women in the resistance movement, both Islamist and secular, through the eyes and experiences of women present at the scene and subjected to patriarchal and political forces.

Dr. Jawad commented: “The 2003 war on Iraq which aimed among other things, to improve human rights, has had a negative impact on women who are now suffering the worst violence in the history of modern Iraq. The struggle currently taking place in Iraq at the hands of militia groups who have introduced their own laws is having a devastating impact on women.”

Dr. Jawad will be presenting this research during a one-day conference taking place at the University of Birmingham on Monday 27 June, where specialists from across the country will explore the current discourse between women, Islamism and resistance in the Middle East.

Hosted by the Centre for Islamic Studies, ‘Women, Islamism and resistance in the Arab world will incorporate a series of lectures delivered by experts from universities across the country. Key themes set to be explored include feminism in Egypt, the right of Palestinian women to resist and Islamic doctrine and praxis in the contemporary world.

Dr. Jawad explained: “The relationship between women and Islamism in the Arab world is very complicated. The emergence of Islamism in recent decades calls into question women’s rights. Some claim that Islamism has the ability to empower women and allow them to play a broad public role,  but whether this is actually occurring will be explored by a group of respected specialists during this one-day event.”

Experts from the University of Birmingham and the Universities of Cambridge, Lancaster and Westminster will be discussing and debating the current discourse between women, Islamism and female forms of resistance in the Arab world. Highlights will include University of Birmingham Research Fellow Dr Laura McDonald’s exploration of Islamist Women in the Middle East and the implications they have on Muslim women’s activisms in the West and PhD researcher Elisabeth Buergener’s discussion on the post-Islamist revivalism, Syrian women and the Da’wa movement.

Provided by University of Birmingham

 

“Women suffering from ‘worst violence in history of modern Iraq’.” June 8th, 2011. http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-women-worst-violence-history-modern.html

 


The Shame of Being an American

 

by Paul Craig Roberts

Recently by Paul Craig Roberts: Has There Been an Egyptian Revolution?

Source: http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts293.html

The United States government has overestimated the amount of shame that it and American citizens can live down. On February 15 “the indispensable people” had to suffer the hypocrisy of the U.S. Secretary of State delivering a speech about America’s commitment to Internet freedom while the U.S.Department of Justice (sic) brought unconstitutional action against Twitter to reveal any connection between WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning, the American hero who, in keeping with the U.S. Military Code, exposed U.S. government war crimes and who is being held in punishing conditions not permitted by the U.S. Constitution. The corrupt U.S. government is trying to create a “conspiracy” case against Julian Assange in order to punish him for revealing U.S. government documents that prove beyond every doubt the mendacity of the U.S. government.

This is pretty bad, but it pales in comparison to the implications revealed on February 15 in the British newspaper, The Guardian.

The Guardian obtained an interview with “Curveball,” the source for Colin Powell’s speech of total lies to the United Nations about Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. Colin Powell’s speech created the stage for the illegal American invasion of Iraq.The Guardian describes “Curveball” as “the man who pulled off one of the greatest confidence tricks in the history of modern intelligence.” As The Guardian puts it, “Curveball” “manufactured a tale of dread.”

U.S. “intelligence” never interviewed “Curveball.” The Americans started a war based on second-hand information given to them by incompetent German intelligence, which fell for “Curveball’s” lies that today German intelligence disbelieves.

As the world now knows, Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The Bush/Cheney Regime, of course, knew this, but “Curveball’s” lies were useful to their undeclared agenda. In his interview with The Guardian, “Curveball,” Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, admitted that he made the whole story up. He wanted to do in Saddam Hussein and told whatever fantasy lie he could make up that would serve his purpose.

If the Bush/Cheney Regime had really believed that Saddam Hussein had world-threatening weapons of mass destruction, it would have been a criminal act to concentrate America’s invading force in a small area of Kuwait where a few WMD could have wiped out the entire U.S. invasion force, thus ending the war before it began.

Some Americans are so thoughtless that they would say that Saddam Hussein would never have used the weapons, because we would have done this and that to Iraq, even nuking Baghdad. But why would Saddam Hussein care if he and his regime were already marked for death? Why would a doomed man desist from inflicting an extraordinary defeat on the American Superpower, thus encouraging Arabs everywhere? Moreover, if Saddam Hussein was unwilling to use his WMD against an invading force, when would he ever use them? It was completely obvious to the U.S. government that no such weapons existed. The weapons inspectors made that completely clear to the Bush/Cheney Regime. There were no Iraqi WMD, and everyone in the U.S. government was apprised of that fact.

Why was there no wonder or comment in the “free” media that the White House accused Iraq of possession of terrible weapons of mass destruction, but nevertheless concentrated its invasion force in such a small area that such weapons could easily have wiped out the invading force?

Does democracy really exist in a land where the media is incompetent and the government is unaccountable and lies through its teeth every time if opens its mouth?

“Curveball” represents a new level of immorality. Rafid al-Janabi shares responsibility for one million dead Iraqis, 4 million displaced Iraqis, a destroyed country, 4,754 dead American troops, 40,000 wounded and maimed American troops, $3 trillion of wasted US resources, every dollar of which is a debt burden to the American population and a threat to the dollar as reserve currency, ten years of propaganda and lies about terrorism and al Qaeda connections, an American “war on terror” that is destroying countless lives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and which has targeted Iran, and which has destroyed the Bill of Rights, the US Constitution, and the civil liberties that they guarantee. And the piece of lying excrement, Rafid al-Janabi, is proud that he brought Saddam Hussein’s downfall at such enormous expense.

Now that Rafid al-Janabi is revealed in the Guardian interview, how safe is he? There are millions of Iraqis capable of exterminating him for their suffering, and tens of thousands of Americans whose lives have been ruined by Rafid al-Janabi’s lies.

Why does the U.S. government pursue Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for telling the truth when “Curveball,” whose lies wiped out huge numbers of people along with America’s reputation, thinks he can start a political party in Iraq? If the piece of excrement, Rafid al-Janabi, is not killed the minute he appears in Iraq, it will be a miracle.

So we are left to contemplate that a totally incompetent American government has bought enormous instability to its puppet states in the Middle East, because it desperately wanted to believe faulty “intelligence” from Germany that an immoralist provided evidence that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

And America is a superpower, an indispensable nation.

What a total joke!

February 17, 2010

Paul Craig Roberts [send him mail], a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, has been released by Random House.

Copyright © 2010 Paul Craig Roberts

The Best of Paul Craig Roberts

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Muslims Are Not The Enemy!

I am so tired of people, especially supposed believers in Yahshua, saying that all muslims are our enemies. Look folks Messiah came for everyone. We need to accept that  He came for them as much as us. They are not all terrorists. as a matter of fact only a tiny portion are involved in terrorism. Although the American governments’ actions against innocents in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and who knows where else is contributing to the recruiting efforts of the few.

That is not terrorism though. That is defending your homeland and people. Open your eyes people. You are being duped. While the elitists continue to enslave you they keep you focused on a contrived enemy. One day you will wake up and realize who the real enemies are. But IT WILL BE TOO LATE…

For more information on who the real terrorists are listen and watch to some of William Cooper’s audio on this blog as well as Dr. Bill Deagle’s videos

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‘We’re the Government – We’ll Catch You’

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by William Norman Grigg
by William Norman Grigg
Recently by William Norman Grigg: Slaughter as ‘Stimulus’

There is …no human right, natural or Constitutional, that we have not seen nullified by the United States Government.

Of all the crimes that are committed for gain or revenge, there is not one that we have not seen it commit – murder, mayhem, arson, robbery, fraud, criminal collusion and connivance.

~ Albert Jay Nock, Our Enemy, the State

“If you ever f**k with me, you know who we are,” arms dealer Nicholas Bickle told an associate during a drive in the Nevada desert. “We’re the government, we’ll catch you.”

Prior to his arrest in October, Bickle was a Navy SEAL who allegedly ran a small arms smuggling ring, importing at least 80 AK-47s from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the machine guns – which were manufactured in Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Iraq – were embossed with the letter “j,” an abbreviation of the Arabic word “jaesh,” which refers to the military. The ATF has charged Bickle and two of his colleagues – Andrew Kaufman, Jr. and Richard Paul – with violations of federal firearms registration laws.

Apparently, selling firearms without government permission is a far more serious offense than murdering people abroad on the government’s orders.

“There’s still Iraqi sand in this sh*t,” Paul boasted to a supposed buyer who was actually a federal informant. The task of importing the untraceable weapons was simplified by the fact that SEALs don’t have to submit their personal effects for inspection when they fly into the country. In addition to the machine guns, Bickle’s little group also sold American-made, military-issue handguns. A search of Paul’s home in Colorado turned up night-vision goggles and a small stash of C-4. At least some of the weaponry was reportedly destined for Mexico.

Bickle’s little business was busted in familiar fashion: One of his customers was a “Cooperating Informant” on the ATF’s payroll. A fourth member of Bickle’s organization, a convicted drug trafficker facing charges of domestic violence and robbery in Nevada and referred to as “Co-Conspirator A” in the indictment, also cooperated with the ATF.

The whole affair seems like the plot of a bad episode of NCIS (as if there were any other kind). The showbiz vibe is enhanced by the odd but somehow appropriate fact that Bickle conducted some of his sales meetings by cell phone while in Chicago working on the set of Transformers III (alas, Bickle’s arrest won’t prevent Michael Bay‘s impending cinematic atrocity).

As is so often the case with the disposable diversions peddled by Hollywood, the most interesting aspects of this melodrama – the backstory, as it were – is being left on the cutting-room floor. It’s entirely possible that the smuggled weapons could have eventually found their way into the hands of criminal gangs here or in Mexico. But there’s a much stronger possibility that they’ve already been used by U.S.-created death squads overseas.

Five years ago, as resistance to the U.S. occupation coalesced within Iraq, the Bush Junta began discussing what it blatantly called the “El Salvador Option”: The creation of U.S.-equipped sectarian death squads that would do the filthy work of beating down Sunni insurgents.

To that end, Special Forces teams – acting under the orders of the Sainted General David Petraeus – trained and equipped Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Shi’ite guerrillas, and unleashed them to slaughter, torture, and terrorize Sunni villages and neighborhoods. The most notorious of those death squads, the “Wolf Brigade,” acquired such a fearsome reputation that American interrogators were able to break recalcitrant prisoners with the mere suggestion that they would be delivered into the hands of the Iraqi unit.

Organized in October 2004, the Wolf Brigade was commanded by a Shia general known by the nom de guerre Abu Walled. The unit was filled with vengeful Shias recruited from the slums of Sadr City.  Like the Badr Corps, the Wolf Brigade was aligned with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), whose leader, the Ayatollah Muhammad Bark al-Hakim, returned from Iranian exile in May 2003.

Elements of the 2,000-man Wolf Brigade were frequently seen patrolling alongside U.S. troops in Baghdad and Mosul, where they were given free rein to kill anyone who “needed killing.”

“We were at home [the night of June 25, 2005],” recalls Omar Salem Shehab, a resident of Baghdad’s Dora enclave whose home was visited by the Wolf Brigade. “We were three brothers sleeping above my ice-cream shop. We were woken by soldiers entering our house by force. They came with Americans. They said we were wanted and produced a document. The Americans took our pictures, then the soldiers we now knew were the Wolf Brigade took us to the Seventh Division camp [of the Iraqi army].”

After a day in the custody of the Iraqi army, the brothers were transferred to Baghdad’s main prison, where they endured a month of relentless torture.

“We were never investigated, just tortured,” Shehab recalls. After one of his brothers died – the official cause of death was “kidney failure,” rather than the unremitting abuse attested by the wounds mottling his body – Omar and another brother were released.

Muataz Salah Ahmed, who worked as a hotel manager in Mosul, had a similar experience in January 2005. Armed men dressed in red berets and balaclavas burst into the building and “arrested us all,” Ahmed recounts. “There was an Iranian officer, his name was Ali. Many other officers with him were proud to tell us they were not police, but Wolf Brigade. One officer threatened to rape my wife. He tore at her dress and four of my colleagues were killed in front of my eyes. They drilled holes in my legs and arms and did all many of things to me.”

These are just two of the thousands of incidents of summary arrest, torture, and murder covered up by U.S. military officials under “Frago 242,” a directive issued in June 2004. As the Guardian of London summarizes:

“A frago is a ‘fragmentary order’ which summarises a complex requirement. This one, issued in June 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, orders coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi on Iraqi, ‘only an initial report will be made … No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ.'”

Thus were U.S.-equipped death squads such as the Wolf Brigade granted a plenary indulgence to do whatever they wanted to whomever they chose. It’s entirely possible that some of the weaponry smuggled into the United States by Nicholas Bickle had passed through the hands of Iraq mercenaries who carried out missions of that kind as the “El Salvador Option” was put into play.

The “El Salvador Option” was an exercise in ethnic cleansing-by-proxy, with U.S.-organized death squads clearing territory that was then occupied, in relative safety, by American forces who consolidated the “peace” by buying off a handful of influential Sunni leaders. This was the formula behind the much-extolled “surge” in Iraq.

Petraeus and his comrades in the CIA are now applying a variation of El Salvador Option to Afghanistan. Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward’s most recent exercise in Pentagon stenography, reveals that the CIA has assembled a 3,000-man death squad based in Pakistan that is carrying out assassinations of suspected Taliban and guerrilla leaders in Afghanistan. Veteran war correspondent Eric Margolis, who has reported extensively from the region, describes that force as being composed of “Afghan Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazara – all traditional enemies of the majority Pashtun – as well as renegades, common criminals, and mercenaries.”

While there certainly are continuities between the “El Salvador Option” (whether applied in Latin America or the Near East) and the CIA’s “Phoenix Program” in Vietnam, an even better parallel might be to the strategy Stalin employed in his conquest of Poland at the end of World War II: Stalin employed a “hired razor” – the German Wehrmacht – to cut down potential resistance.

“When the Red Army fought to within a few miles of Warsaw … the Soviets encouraged the Home Army in Warsaw to rise up against the Nazis, promising aid and implying that Soviet troops would then move to Warsaw,” recalls R.J. Rummel in his study Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1917.

Stalin’s blandishments drew the Home Army into the open, where they were slaughtered by the Nazis while the Red Army prevented allied forces from coming to the aid of the Poles. “By a feat of masterly inactivity Stalin had allowed Hitler to perform the task of liquidating over 150,000 independent-minded Poles who he might otherwise have had to liquidate himself,” comments biographer Ronald Hingley. This removed all potential opposition to the “Lublin Gang,” an assortment of criminals, deviants, and Quislings that had been assembled by the Soviets and who were immediately recognized by Stalin as the “legitimate” government of Poland.

Washington has installed “Lublin Gang”-style regimes in both Baghdad and Kabul, and its approach to “reconciliation” in Afghanistan savors strongly of Stalin’s strategy in Poland.

“The US strategy seems to be to force the Taliban to the table through a fierce killing campaign,” observes Jeremy Scahill of The Nation in a detailed and infuriating on-scene report. “According to the US military, over a ninety-day period this past summer, US and coalition Special Operations Forces killed or captured more than 2,900 ‘insurgents,’ with an estimated dozen killed a day.”

According to official accounts, between July 4, when Gen. David Petraeus assumed command in Kabul, and early October, “US and Afghan Special Operations Forces killed more than 300 Taliban commanders and more than 900 foot soldiers in 1,500 raids,” Scahill observes.

While US Special Operations groups and their allies in local death squads are doing plenty of killing, most of it involves non-combatants or even Taliban leaders who have accepted official invitations to lay down their arms and negotiate. To illustrate, Scahill refers to the January 14 killing of Mullah Sahib Jan, a Taliban leader from Logar province.

On March 26, 2009, Jan “walked into the [Afghan government’s] reconciliation office [and] publicly announced that he and his Taliban colleagues had agreed to work with the government on a peace process,” Scahill continues. The Taliban cleric’s sole condition was that the Afghan government obtain assurances from U.S. and NATO military leaders that the murderous night raids would end. “If the killing and arrests of people were not stopped … we would withdraw our support to the government and the foreign forces,” Jan promised.

Jan abandoned his calling as a Mullah, joining the official reconciliation effort as an emissary to regions loyal to the Taliban. According to Mohamed Anwar, director of the reconciliation commission for Logar Province, Mullah Jan “was preaching to the Taliban, encouraging them to come to the government, telling the fighters there were a lot of benefits to laying down their arms.”

Jan was eager to bring an end to the war, but his strong independent streak apparently earned the fatal disapproval of occupation authorities. Accordingly, a Special Forces unit was sent to raid Jan’s home at about 1:30 in the morning last January 14.

“They broke down the doors of our house,” Jan’s 18-year-old son Haider told Scahill. “My father was in one room, and we were in another. We don’t know exactly when the US soldiers entered our house, we just know they took our father and killed him. They killed our father outside our house, a short ways away. We don’t know if they killed him from a helicopter or if commandos killed him.”

One group of Washington’s heroic missionaries of global democracy made themselves busy murdering Sahib Jan. Others passed the time by terrorizing his sons and brutalizing his wife and daughters. Haider and his siblings were bound and abused for several hours. Finally, at about 6:00 a.m., an Afghan translator appeared with a photograph of Jan and announced to his sons: “This is the man we killed.”

U.S. military officials insisted that there was “no record” of the raid on Jan’s home, despite the fact that Scahill (who worked as an un-“embedded” correspondent) had no difficulty finding eyewitnesses. One of them, a man named Azmuddin who worked at a gas station next to the Jan residence, was seized by Special Forces operators and imprisoned at the Tor Prison (a classified “black site”) before being transferred to Bagram prison for four months.

It isn’t surprising to learn that most Afghans believe the Karzai government “exists only for facilitating the corruption of powerful warlords, drug dealers and war criminals,” as Scahill observes. Nor should we be surprised to learn – as we almost certainly will – that some of those given the task of arming and equipping Washington’s death squads abroad have gone into business for themselves.

As Albert J. Nock pointed out, those in charge of the State aren’t opposed to corruption; they simply seek to monopolize it. Thus the agents of official corruption focus on the unauthorized crimes of a Nicholas Bickle – or the soldiers accused of unsanctioned “thrill killings” in Afghanistan – with the same conspicuous sanctimony displayed by Shakespeare’s Henry V as he ordered that Bardolph be hanged for looting a church during the English invasion of France.

That was the same Henry, of course, who engaged in undisguised state terrorism to compel the village of Harfleur to surrender. As depicted by Shakespeare, Henry entreated Harfleur’s governor to exploit the invading English king’s mercy “whiles yet my soldiers are in my command”; otherwise, “the flesh’d soldier, rough and hard of heart, in liberty of bloody hand shall rage,” and the English army would be permitted to rampage as an undisguised death squad:

“… in a moment, look to see the blind and bloody soldier with foul hand defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters; your fathers taken by the silver beards, and their most reverend head dash’d to the walls; your naked infants spitted upon pikes, whiles the mad mothers, with their howls confused, do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry at Herod’s bloody-handed slaughtermen.”

“What say you?” demanded Henry, who was the aggressor in the conflict. “Will you yield, and this avoid? Or guilty in defense, be thus destroy’d?”

For a king to threaten the destruction of an entire city, complete with rapine and child slaughter, was an act of state policy; for a mere soldier to pilfer a few precious items from a church was a hanging offense. Those who understand the point the Bard was making in that juxtaposition aren’t surprised to learn that the same Regime capable of slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan would seek to make an example out of Nicholas Bickle and his little arms smuggling ring.

November 9, 2010

William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.

Copyright © 2010 William Norman Grigg

The Best of William Norman Grigg

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WikiLeaks and Assange Honored

From Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence
October 24, 2010

Editor’s Note: WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange have received the 2010 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence award for releasing secret U.S. military reports on the Iraq and Afghan wars.
The award from the group – named after legendary CIA analyst Sam Adams – was presented to Assange on Saturday in London where he was speaking about WikiLeaks’ recent release of almost 400,000 classified battlefield reports from Iraq. The award reads as follows:

It seems altogether fitting and proper that this year’s award be presented in London, where Edmund Burke coined the expression “Fourth Estate.” Comparing the function of the press to that of the three Houses then in Parliament, Burke said:

“… but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sits a Fourth Estate more important far then they all.”

The year was 1787 — the year the U.S. Constitution was adopted. The First Amendment, approved four years later, aimed at ensuring that the press would be free of government interference. That was then.

With the Fourth Estate now on life support, there is a high premium on the fledgling Fifth Estate, which uses the ether and is not susceptible of government or corporation control. Small wonder that governments with lots to hide feel very threatened.

It has been said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” WikiLeaks is helping make that possible by publishing documents that do not lie.

Last spring, when we chose WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for this award, Julian said he would accept only “on behalf of our sources, without which WikiLeaks’ contributions are of no significance.”

We do not know if Pvt. Bradley Manning gave WikiLeaks the gun-barrel video of July 12, 2007 called “Collateral Murder.” Whoever did provide that graphic footage, showing the brutality of the celebrated “surge” in Iraq, was certainly far more a patriot than the “mainstream” journalist embedded in that same Army unit. He suppressed what happened in Baghdad that day, dismissed it as simply “one bad day in a surge that was filled with such days,” and then had the temerity to lavish praise on the unit in a book he called The Good Soldiers.

Julian is right to emphasize that the world is deeply indebted to patriotic truth-tellers like the sources who provided the gun-barrel footage and the many documents on Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks. We hope to have a chance to honor them in person in the future.

Today we honor WikiLeaks, and one of its leaders, Julian Assange, for their ingenuity in creating a new highway by which important documentary evidence can make its way, quickly and confidentially, through the ether and into our in-boxes. Long live the Fifth Estate!

Presented this 23rd day of October 2010 in London, England by admirers of the example set by former CIA analyst, Sam Adams.

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence is a movement of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. Sam did precisely that, and in honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a member of the intelligence profession exemplifying Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences.

It was Adams who discovered in 1967 that there were 500,000 Vietnamese Communists under arms — more than twice the number that our military in Saigon would admit to in the “war of attrition.”  Gen. William Westmoreland had put an artificial limit on the number that Army intelligence was allowed to carry on its books. And Gen. Creighton Abrams specifically warned Washington that the press would have a field day if Adam’s numbers were released, and that this would weaken the war effort.

Westmoreland’s figures were shown to be bogus in January/February 1968, when Communist troops mounted a surprise countrywide offensive in numbers that proved that Adams’ analysis had been correct. But because Sam was reluctant to go “outside channels,” the CIA and Army were able to keep the American people in the dark.

After the Tet offensive, however, Daniel Ellsberg learned that Westmoreland had asked for 206,000 more troops to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam — right up to the border with China, and perhaps beyond. In his first such act, Ellsberg leaked Sam Adams’ data to the then-independent New York Times on March 19, 1968. Dan’s timely truth telling, and that of the Times’ Neil Sheehan, won the day.

On March 25, President Johnson complained to a small gathering, “The leaks to the New York Times hurt us…We have no support for the war. This is caused by the 206,000 troop request [by Westmoreland] and the leaks…I would have given Westy the 206,000 men.” On March 31, Johnson introduced a bombing pause, opted for negotiations, and announced that he would not run for another term in November 1968.

Sam Adams continued to press for honesty and accountability but stayed “inside channels” — and failed. He was not able to see that the supervening value of ending unnecessary killing trumped the secrecy agreement he had signed as a condition of employment. Nagged by remorse, Adams died at 55 of a sudden heart attack. He could not shake the thought that, had he not let himself be diddled, the entire left wall of the Vietnam memorial would not exist. There would have been no new names to chisel into such a wall.

In the past, the annual Sam Adams Award has been given to truth tellers Coleen Rowley of the FBI; Katharine Gun of British Intelligence; Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; former US Army Sgt. Sam Provance, who told the truth about Abu Ghraib; and Maj. Frank Grevil of Danish Army Intelligence, who exposed his government’s eagerness to conspire with the Bush administration in advertising non-existent weapons of mass destruction in order to “justify” the invasion of Iraq — and went to prison for it; and Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Secretary Colin Powell at the State Department, who exposed the powers behind many of the crimes of the Bush administration — first and foremost what he called the “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal;” in Washington, DC.


Ray McGovern on WikiLeaks Assault

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By RT America
October 27, 2010

The U.S. news media is framing the debate about the WikiLeaks revelations of the Iraq War‘s savagery as a story about the alleged misconduct of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, in an attempt to destroy the message by discrediting the messenger, says former CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

In an interview with RT America, McGovern criticized the U.S. media‘s focus on Assange and whether he should be prosecuted for releasing the secrets, rather than on the grisly details about the war contained in nearly 400,000 secret military field reports that WikiLeaks released last weekend.

(The story summary continues below.)

*

McGovern suggests that the reason for this concentration on Assange instead of what the documents reveal is that otherwise the U.S. press corps would have to come to grips with the fact that the U.S. government committed “the supreme international crime” by invading Iraq and thus touching off the barbarity that the documents recount.

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War Is Murder

by Karen Kwiatkowski

Recently by Karen Kwiatkowski: The Wolf You Feed

Well, it sure is murder for our boys in desert cammy. Five of our finest are now charged with running an unauthorized hit team, targeting random Afghan civilians for a little stress-relieving target practice. What’s the problem here? The CIA has been doing this for years with its own militarized groups. The DoD is doing this with its own special forces. Xe and other contractors do this with the holy blessing of both DoD and CIA. The President and the Congress have authorized this kind of thing, separately and together. Obama even asserted that he is comfortable and righteous in his role as decider-in-chief on which American citizens may live or die. I just don’t get the outrage. There should be none, given the public adoration of Petraeus and anyone else “serving his or her country” in uniform. These military enlistees, from great states like Montana, Alaska, Idaho and Florida, are doing not only the job they have been trained to do, but they are conducting themselves in the same spirit as their commanders.

A spirit of brutality, righteous judgment, self-pity because we want so much to “do good” to the ungrateful, a spirit of hate, and a spirit of self-indulgence. That’s American foreign policy in a nutshell, and it’s not new.

United States foreign policy is brutal. Just ask (if you can find any) native Americans who trace ancestry back to the geography of the Appalachians or the Great Plains. The great mass murderers on both sides of the War between the States in the 1860s had practiced their craft on Native Americans for years, and Mexicans too, for good measure. During and after Reconstruction, these senior officers and their lieutenants continued their era of extermination of those we held in contempt, those who lived on land we wanted, and those who would not conform to our religious, economic and social world order.

Skip Hawaii, our reconstruction of the former Spanish Empire, and the bloody mysteries of American-prosecuted war that has continued unabated since the formation of the Washington printing press, that wonderful liberator of the state and its wickedly brilliant elites, the Federal Reserve. There’s way too much blood in this racket for polite people to see. We don’t want to know.

But today, we speak of murder. Coldblooded, just for fun, gangland-style, trophy-hunting, punch drunk, hilarious murder.

And predictably – the Army cannot explain how the lack of a strategic or even clearly tactical mission in Afghanistan and Iraq has created a stagnant spreading cesspool where soldiering ethics are slowly churned and degraded until our own people don’t know up from down. The Army brass promotes Afghan “democracy” and “voting” and bemoans the fact that this bit of bad news (along with untold murder of Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis, and Yemenis as ordered) somehow detracts from Washington’s Overall Successful Occupation.

The Army says only that these soldiers were a few bad apples. Rogue, but not like Sarah Palin rogue, not like the character Rogue in the X-Men movies, not like the popular Nissan Rogue, but you know, bad rogues. The ones who get caught and hung out to dry.

In the grand scheme of things, these rogue murders have a silver lining. Not for the unlucky sons of bitches who served as target practice, of course. And the reporting of these atrocities by the mainstream media is not likely to improve. Old media can’t see past its dinner at the state table. Alarm, shock, and muted outrage will be dutifully followed by the bad-appleness of it all and a comfortable burial under the twin pillars of “we can’t do anything about it” and “it was for national security.”

Indeed, can anyone swear – given six degrees of separation – that these recent Afghan victims (and those of the authorized murders conducted by CIA, DoD and contracted teams) were not in some way related to terrorism against the United States? I myself heartily disapprove of the criminally insane US foreign policy, and I hate our modern government, with its unlimited separated powers of bankster, shyster, and huckster. I would applaud loudly the bringing down of such a state. I count myself as a spiritual sister to those the US government has murdered, and I am angry at my powerlessness. I have the budding heart of a terrorist. Thank goodness, I’m part of a much larger group of Americans, young and old, who generally feel the same way. When we become a force to be reckoned with, the state will negotiate, or concede.

Until that time, the state recognizes as enemy, and as potential terrorist, any person, any idea, and any emotion that challenges its legitimacy. The state has no ability to be benevolent, because it deals with minimizing risk. In the end, a potential terrorist is as good a target as a trained and practiced one. Families, sharing beliefs, bonds and emotions, are little different than a trained terrorist cell, in the eyes of an empowered state bureaucracy. Thus, when the state throws down the “terrorist threat” strawman, and tells us that the soldier/murderers of the moment felt threatened and terrorized (even by so simple an act as an unarmed Afghan man walking alone along a street in his own neighborhood) most of the American public can only stare and mumble.

Afghans, and Iraqis too, are learning a lesson – perhaps a refresher of one learned in previous eras of conquest by massive, seemingly invincible, alien kingdoms. That lesson, if I may be so bold, includes the evolution of resistance and the fine-tuning of rage and hatred into better means of opposition, enhanced methods of sabotage, improved ability to maneuver, to kill, to weaken and to terrorize the occupier.

This news-blip regarding murder and the collection of Afghan body parts leaves most Americans who see it with mild concern about our offensive policy around the world, and perhaps a vague sense of anxiety about what we will face as these soldiers come home to live in our neighborhood, to serve as our police forces and city inspectors, to marry our daughters and father our grandchildren.

We will forget. This happened far away, and we have other problems, both local and national. The Afghans, on the other hand, will not. They are way ahead of us in terms of suffering at the hands of the Washington ruling elite. They are way ahead of us in terms of figuring out how to survive and deal with a brutal military and political occupation for the sake not of democracy or women’s rights or “the children” but for the sustainment of the US military industrial complex, and expansion and stability of the US-centered commodities/currency dynamic, and as leverage for coming national defaults.

We are murdering and warring for a Middle East that is safe for the complementary goals of Israel’s economic expansion into and US military domination of the region. The Daily Bell explains: “[Afghanistan is] a regional war that pits Pakistan against India as well as the Taliban against the current Afghan central government. The reality is clearly that the West wishes to extend and cement its control over the Middle East via military power. Even the upcoming war with Iran, if it comes to that, may be seen as an extension of this unstated but obvious policy.”

The silver lining is that while this policy is unstated, it is becoming increasingly obvious – to the parties involved and to the rest of the world. An indebted, morally exhausted, and globally disrespected 21st century United States needs friends more than ever, to get through our current national predicament in one piece. The silver lining – due to the fluttering of the murderous wings half a world away – is that our own American evolution towards small, independent, self-governing, and peaceful republics is hastened.

September 21, 2010

LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty and Power and The Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here or join her Facebook page.

Copyright © 2010 Karen Kwiatkowski

The Best of Karen Kwiatkowski





Now We Know the Cause of Islamic Terrorism

by Jim Cox

Recently by Jim Cox: Man-Made Global-Warming Quiz

President Obama in warning against the Florida pastor’s plan to burn the Koran stated,

“This is a recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities.”

It’s funny how B.O. (or his predecessor) never cited past American government policies as being a recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda. Only a handful of misguided activists at the Florida church using their own property and their privately acquired copies of the Koran have such an effect in the President’s view.

Here is a partial list of the past as well as some on-going American foreign policy interventions that – by official standards – have had no influence in empowering al Qaeda:

1. The combined British/American overthrow of the democratically elected head of government in Iran in 1953, replacing him with the hated Shah and his secret police who the U.S. trained to murder thousands of Iranians.


2. In 1987 the U.S. militarily supported Saddam Hussein in the Iraqi war with Iran.

3. In 1988 the U.S. ship Vincennes, stationed in the Persian Gulf, shot down a commercial jetliner, killing 290 Iranian civilians.

4. After the Gulf War, the U.S. led an embargo against Iraq, allowing no humanitarian or medical aid. The results, according to UN estimates: 10,000 Iraqi deaths per month with the toll including more than 300,000 children. Then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright when asked said it was “worth it.” Albright never retracted her statement nor was it ever repudiated by an American president.

5. In 1998 President Clinton bombed an aspirin factory in Sudan. A number of totally innocent civilians were killed.

6. European armies, rather than native peoples, drew many of the borders in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and southwest Asia.

7. The Saudi government, the Kuwaiti government, and the Afghani government are actively supported with foreign aid by the U.S. despite the fact that they routinely oppress their people.


8. The war in Iraq since 2003 that has resulted in a minimum of 97,000 civilian deaths as well as the displacement of more than a million civilians.

9. The war in Afghanistan since 2001 that has resulted in a minimum of 6,000 civilian deaths.

10. Predator strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.

But, again according to the official bi-partisan view, none of these actions have caused blowback against Americans or Europeans.

Finally, we know what the CIA meant when it coined the term “blowback” – hostility over Koran burning. Also, we now know what Noam Chomsky, 9-11; Rick Maybury, The Thousand Year War; Robin Wright, Sacred Rage; and Chalmers Johnson, Blowback must have had in mind when the penned their works.

It’s refreshing to know that Koran burning is the provocation that incites the Islamic world and is the only thing we have to end to protect Americans from more terrorism – our imperialistic foreign policy, now under Barack Obama, can continue without any consequence whatsoever.

September 11, 2010

Jim Cox is a professor of economics and is the author of The Concise Guide to Economics and Minimum Wage, Maximum Damage.

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.


When Will the Bad Dream End?

by Anthony Gregory

In a normal country, war is front-page news. It is a big deal to invade and bomb another nation. Most of the world’s people can probably name all the foreign governments their own government is at war with. If any other industrialized nation were bombing Pakistan, for example, and displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, the average taxpayer would be aware. It would be the biggest news story. If you are a typical person living in a normal country, and your government threatens to invade, say, Eritrea, you would probably hear something about it. And you would probably even want to know where Eritrea is on a map.

The United States is not a normal country. If it ever was one, it certainly isn’t now. Its imperial foreign policy has long made it special, and now that it’s the world’s lone superpower – with an effective monopoly on aerial warfare, calling the shots as to who can have nukes, claiming the unilateral right to start wars against anyone – the U.S. government has become so belligerent, and especially in remote lands, that American wars have become routine, its casualties relegated to the back page.

This decade has obviously been especially bad. Nine years ago, the Twin Towers fell, the Pentagon was hit, and the United States, its government and political culture, fell under a spell of mass delusion that still shows no signs of abating. It has been nine whole years since 9/11, and it is starting to look like the “post-9/11” insanity that marked America under Bush has become a permanent feature of the American landscape.


Looking around at what has happened in these last nine years, we are reminded of what a long period of time this is in the modern age. iPods took the world by storm and became obsolete. Such movies as the Lord of the Rings trilogy forever changed film in ways we now take for granted. Trashy reality TV conquered most of the airwaves, but television has at the same time blossomed into a bona fide art form, with HBO, Showtime and even network TV producing programs of a quality previously unimagined. The internet has gone from being a ubiquitous convenience to becoming the major network of all communication, to which practically every other communicative and technological medium is to be connected.

In nine years, we’ve seen the housing market boom and bust. We’ve seen, according to the hyperbolic media, our nation’s greatest environmental disaster, one of the worst natural disasters, and a nearly unprecedented financial collapse. And speaking of the old media, the giant newspapers still seemed like leaders in 2001. Now they look like a dying breed, with whole enterprises selling for literally less than a single issue at a newsstand price. Meanwhile, many consumer goods, including food staples, have nearly doubled in cost.  China is now the second biggest economy in the world.

And certainly, nine years is quite some time in the lives of actual people. We all know folks who’ve had children or passed away. Kids have grown from losing their baby teeth to taking their SATs. We’ve been to many weddings.

On the political scene, in the last nine years we have watched nearly two full terms of one president and half a term of another – two presidents who represent different parties, opposing sides of the culture war and, ostensibly, contrasting approaches on how to govern the country. We’ve seen the Republicans capture the federal legislature and then lose it all again. We’ve seen both parties undergo significant rhetorical makeovers.

But one thing that hasn’t changed at all is U.S. foreign policy, and the entire American style of responding to supposed threats abroad with the brute force of war and the continual expansion of government power at home.


This is not to say that there was a qualitative break in U.S. policy nine years ago, not even as far as the Muslim world was concerned. The U.S. overthrew Iran’s government in 1953, installed a dictator and taught his goons how to torture. The U.S. backed Saddam and his ilk from the late 50s through the 1980s. The U.S. engineered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and continued to meddle in that country, radicalizing Islamist fighters and helping to create the modern fanaticism there. In the 1980s, the U.S. government bombed Libya and encouraged Saddam to invade Iran, even as President Reagan secretly sent weapons to Iran. In 1990, the U.S. government started a war with Iraq that has essentially continued to this day. Clinton bombed Iraq and Afghanistan. In the decades leading to 9/11, it is fair to say that the U.S. government directly or indirectly murdered millions of innocent people in its interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia. Every president from Eisenhower through Clinton shares some of the blame.

But there has been something particularly insane about U.S. policy since the events of 9/11. Previous limits upon imperial boldness, even if they existed only out of pragmatic concerns, have been swept aside. What was once considered beyond the pale is now accepted as normal.

Abroad, there is the war with Iraq that seems crazy even for the U.S. empire. It used to take something like the Soviet Menace, with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons – or someone like Hitler or Tojo, with some of the mightiest militaries on earth – to scare the living daylights out of Americans. But the Iraq war showed that the most ludicrous of pretenses – that a lame duck dictator like Saddam, who had never attacked the United States and showed no signs of doing so, was somehow a threat to America – could now be used to justify a project to “liberate” and bring democracy to a whole nation that itself was cobbled together by the West, held precariously intact under a brutal strongman, and that would inevitably fall short of American dreams of democracy no matter how many times its people voted.


Then there’s the fact that the U.S. government now goes to war, and is peripherally involved in even more wars, without anyone in America seeming to care. This is an era when threatening Eritrea is the least of it. The U.S. supports an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia – barely a blip in the news. The U.S. backs an ally, Israel, that invades its other ally, Lebanon, and maybe the talking heads care for about a day. The U.S. is essentially at war with its own nuclear-armed ally, Pakistan – and many Americans have no clue. The U.S. backs suicide bombers in Iran with possible ties to al Qaeda who are bent on changing Tehran’s government – not that most Americans even know the difference between Iran and al Qaeda, Persians and Arabs or Sunni and Shi’ia. And then, when an airplane passenger fails in his attempt to kill Americans on Christmas Day with explosives hidden in his underwear, the media scream that perhaps it’s time to wage war on Yemen. No one of prominence even mentions that Obama was already bombing Yemen, days before the underwear bomber almost struck.

But Afghanistan has got to be the most insane example of what’s going on. This is the war that marks the shift since 9/11 – even more than Iraq. The U.S. realists, in one of their only foreign policy successes ever, used Afghanistan against the Soviets, knowing it was the graveyard of invading empires. Now the U.S. is, in the midst of a recession, tripling down on a completely unjust and completely unwinnable project to save Afghanistan from its own tribal people, win the war on drugs there, bring freedom to the land and defeat a terrorist network that barely even exists in the country.

This is a reminder of why it’s so important to oppose a war before it begins. The Afghanistan war was always a terrible idea. Nine years ago, a few Americans stood up and pointed out that the 9/11 attacks were retaliation for U.S. foreign policy, which must be changed if we are ever to address the problem of terrorism. But these voices were in the minority. More than 90% of Americans cheered the invasion of Afghanistan. Now many on the left think it was folly, but the U.S. can’t pull out. Or they are quiet because their beloved president is doing the killing.

The Democrats practically all backed this war, and in both 2004 and 2008 attacked Bush for “neglecting” Afghanistan. Obama always promised us he’d be even worse on this war than his predecessor. It almost inspires nostalgia for Bush, who was essentially no more aggressive than Obama but who seemed to get away with less.


Obama has meanwhile “ended” the war in Iraq by keeping 50,000 troops there – troops involved in shooting and killing. Then there are the 100,000 contractors and permanent bases. Americans are snoozing. Who cares about Iraq? That’s so 2003. And on the civil liberties front – detention, rendition, surveillance, even the unilateral presidential right to assassinate US citizens he deems terrorists – Obama has pushed the envelope further than Bush. But what’s the big deal? Even conservatives who think Obama a totalitarian tyrant don’t seem to care about these, his most totalitarian and tyrannical policies.

As for the national debate about U.S. foreign policy, there is none. The idea that the minority was pushing even on 9/12 – that the attacks were blowback from decades of U.S. aggression – is still hardly more discussed than it was back then. Ron Paul made it a somewhat common point of discussion back in 2007, but since then, who has even touched upon the fundamental nature of 9/11? Instead, Americans are divided as to whether to blame all of Islam or whether to blame radical Islam, when revenge over U.S. aggression is the true motivation behind the anti-U.S. attacks, and stopping the wars is the only answer.

But far from finally being open to the truth of blowback and the insanity of the Afghanistan project, and far from having learned from Iraq to distrust U.S. war propaganda, the American people appear to have forgotten about these wars, to have stopped caring about U.S. foreign policy, except to be worried, once in a while, about the next supposed foreign threat. The media claim, without justification, that Iran is getting close to having a nuke. The press, year after year, spins a story up about how Iran is just one year away, but there is no proof this is even an Iranian goal, and practically no one ever talks about the Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran is a signatory, except to dishonestly imply that Iran has violated it. A poll this year reveals that 70% of Americans believe Iran already has a nuclear weapon – an astonishing accusation that the U.S. establishment has never outright articulated. But just as the Bush administration, without ever saying it, got Americans to believe that Saddam was behind 9/11, the powers that be are now doing nothing to dissuade the American public from these dangerous misconceptions about Iran. Indeed, all the actual aggressiveness is coming from Washington, in the form of sanctions and threats, and is directed against the Iranians – not the other way around.


Will the U.S. really go to war with Iran – a nation that has never attacked America, a nation that offered its support right after 9/11 in the fight against al Qaeda, a nation that would be even more unconquerable than Iraq and could become the trip wire for world conflict? Is the government going to challenge another country when it’s already in the middle of more than two wars with no end in sight? In a normal country, this would be an easier question to answer.

It is just an accepted fact that the wars and siege mentality must continue, that we cannot give up the empire lest we surrender to the terrorists. Instead, we must give away more and more of our freedoms for which we are supposedly hated. And how much longer can this charade go on? How much longer will the president be seen as the proper arbiter of life or death for all people everywhere, the judge, jury and executioner at the top of the U.S. justice system, with no territorial bounds on his power? How much longer will we deal with increasing humiliations at the airports, the rapid militarization of our police, the economy-crushing Pentagon that seems to double in size every few years, the demonization of Muslims that has become so commonplace? Will the U.S. be occupying Afghanistan nine years from now?

And it goes without saying that the U.S. government hasn’t even caught Osama bin Laden. Not that his capture would vindicate the million killed, the trillions squandered and the liberties smashed in this war. This would be obvious to people in a normal country.

But the madness will end, eventually. The bad dream that is post-9/11 America must at last give way to something else. If the people don’t get sick of it and demand that it end, or military defeat doesn’t do it, the U.S. empire will simply run out of money. Its days are numbered. It’s just tragic and sickening that many more will die before that happens.

September 11, 2010

Anthony Gregory [send him mail] is a research analyst at the Independent Institute. He lives in Oakland, California. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

The Best of Anthony Gregory



Must We Do Something, Anything, about Global Warming?

Mises Daily: Friday, September 10, 2010 by

A friend of mine sent me a link to a video labeled “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See.” According to YouTube, this video has been viewed over 3.5 million times. Narrator Greg Craven, a high-school science teacher, presents an application of the precautionary principle to the debate over anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Craven claims to have found an argument that does not depend on the resolution of the scientific controversy — a “silver bullet argument,” an argument that leads to an “inescapable conclusion,” one “that even the most hardened skeptic and the most panicked activist can agree on.”

I beg to differ.

Craven starts out with the premise that we can reduce the problem to one of four possible outcomes, which he places on a grid (as shown below). The rows represent the proposition that the worst outcome of AGW (the end of human life on earth) is on its way or is not. The columns represent the choice to do something or do nothing.

Craven then proceeds to examine the implications of ending up in each one of his four quadrants. I have written an abbreviation of his conclusion in the cells of the table:

Do Something Do Nothing
AGW – true avert total disaster total disaster
AGW – false wasted resources avoid waste of resources

According to Craven, because we cannot be totally certain about the science, we need to find another way to choose our course of action. And Craven aims to show that this is possible. He states that “we begin by acknowledging that no one can know with absolute certainty what the future will bring.” This argument is a variant of Pascal’s Wager, which structures the issue of belief in God the same way, with punishment for nonbelievers as the worst case.

Pascal's wager

Craven’s reasoning is that the objective of our decision-making process should be to avoid the top right cell. He observes that we cannot control which row we are in because we don’t know for sure the outcome of the science; but we can avoid the top right cell (total disaster) because we can control which column we are in. We should choose to “do something” to ensure that we end up in the right column rather than the left column.

There are many problems with this approach.

The first problem is that this argument proves too much. The premise — that something really, really bad might happen — is undoubtedly true: there is a virtually unlimited supply of hypotheses about things that might go wrong. The less evidence required for any particular catastrophe, the longer the list of bad things we can make. Craven’s mode of argument could be used to prove that we should “do something” about any — or all — of them.

Go through the entire video and replace “global warming” with “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction”:

Saddam Hussein might have WMDs, which he could be planning to use against the United States. No one can prove that he does not because, as members of the neocon war party enjoyed pointing out, you can’t prove a negative.

Even trying to use reason to figure out whether or not Saddam has WMDs is what Mr. Craven would call “row thinking,” while what we need in dark times such as these is “column thinking.”

As Craven would undoubtedly agree, we don’t know whether Saddam has WMDs or not. In the worst case, Saddam has WMDs and he will use them against the United States. If we “take action” by invading Iraq and deposing Saddam, then we can eliminate the worst case. If we “do nothing” through “inaction” then the worst case might happen anyway.

It is true that we will incur costs by invading Iraq: dollars, some American deaths. Maybe we disrupt the lives of Iraqis a bit. But the cost of the worst case is incalculable.

The conclusion is therefore inescapable to all rational and right-minded people: we must invade Iraq.

Glenn Greenwald, in a recent piece, points out that this exact argument is being used to defend the decision to go to war in Iraq.  And now the war party is using the same argument to lie the country into a war with Iran (“we cannot allow a nuclear Iran“) even though there is no credible evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program — it takes Scott Horton less than seven minutes to debunk the propaganda on this issue.

The second problem I will address is that Craven’s argument proves nothing at all. His objective is to show that we should do something to avoid the worst case. But to prove that we must “do something” is to prove nothing. He organizes the problem around a set of abstract choices. But in life, we face only concrete choices, not abstract ones. While deciding to “do something” about an issue in your life that you have been ignoring might be an important psychological step, it is still not an actionable decision. What to do is the real decision and cannot be separated from the decision to “do something.”

Another way of saying this is that the grid describing reality has more than two columns. It has infinitely many columns representing the infinite range of choices that exist in the real world. Craven’s mode of argument provides no guidance as to how many resources should be expended or in what direction to address the problem.

The aim of Craven’s argument is to show that we can avoid the worse case without resolving the science. But this is only true if we choose a concrete plan that has the desired result. We have an infinite range of choices that all involve doing something — and some other choices that involve watching and waiting. Because our resources are finite, we could not adopt all policy proposals. To avoid the worse case, we would have to evaluate whether each proposal might have any benefits at all and whether the benefits outweigh the costs. Should we choose one staggeringly expensive plan that might work? Or ten less expensive plans that each have a chance of working?

If we use up a vast amount of resources on one very small risk, then we will be in a worse position to deal with other problems that do materialize. Maybe the best course is to do nothing right now, relying on economic growth to increase our wealth and therefore our range of choices in the future?

The argument can be used to prove whatever conclusion you want, depending on what you posit as the worst case.  For example, try using the argument on the following worst case: we implement restrictive carbon-emission legislation and that causes even worse climate change.  Or this: destroy the world’s economy fighting a problem that doesn’t exist (AGW), and then a very real — and much bigger — crisis emerges (and, as Mr. Craven points out, science cannot prove whether this will or will not happen), but we have no more wealth left to address it. Craven’s contention proves that we should do nothing now so that we can address the real worst case that has not yet shown its face.

This brings us to another gross deficiency in Craven’s argument: the choice among the many concrete options that we have depends on our understanding the cause and effect of each choice. To “do something” is for us to create some causes that we believe have certain effects. We cannot evaluate the effect of any cause without relying on the science of the issue. The science applied to any concrete proposal is essentially the same controversial science that Craven claims we don’t need in order to reach a conclusion about what to do.

As the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) explains in their excellent commentary on the precautionary principle,

[t]he precautionary principle is, however, a very useful one for consumer activists precisely because it prevents scientific debate. The burden of evidence and proof is taken away from those who make unjustified and often whimsical claims and placed on the scientific community which, because it proceeds logically and rationally, is often powerless to respond. This is what makes the principle so dangerous. It generates a quasi-religious bigotry which history should have has [sic] taught us to fear. Its inherent irrationality renders it unsustainable.

The deficiency is illustrated this way. If the goal is to avoid the worst possible outcome, then “do something” is not enough. We must do something effective. Some of the actions we might take would not be very costly but would also (probably) not meet Mr. Craven’s criteria for effectiveness.

Suppose that we all wore Whip Global Warming Now buttons? Would that help us avoid the worst case? Some might say so, but the strongest objection to that plan would be that there is no scientific basis for the belief that wearing buttons has any impact on global climate change.

Suppose that I agreed with Craven’s conclusion and suggested as the solution that we lengthen our commutes to work so we can drive more, and that we increase the use of coal-fired power plants. Oh, but that won’t work, he might say, because it would increase carbon emissions. But this is only a constructive response if carbon emissions are really the cause of AGW. Without any science linking cause and effect, how do we know that reducing (not increasing) carbon emissions will help?

Though Craven doesn’t present a concrete proposal, clearly he has something in mind — probably Cap and Tax or a similar scheme — because he is able to fill in the lower left quadrant of his grid with various economic costs — depression, lost jobs, lower wages, and the like. Similar legislative proposals would incur the absolutely stupefying cost of reducing carbon emissions to preindustrial levels.

So far I have been focusing on the columns. But there are also a lot more rows than Craven shows. His two rows representing AGW true/false correspond to the cases that either nothing much happens or it’s the end of civilization. But there are a lot of points in between — something happens but it is benign, something bad happens but it is manageable, something really bad happens but it is not the end of human life altogether, etc.

Craven claims that the risk of inaction outweighs the risk of action. But as I have shown, an analysis entirely in terms of the abstract categories he uses does not reach any meaningful conclusion. Relative costs can only be understood in terms of the concrete choices and their actual or estimated costs. While it is true that it might be worth taking action to avoid a very small risk with a very high cost, rationality requires an estimation of the risk and the cost.

Think about how you face the risk of extinction in your own life. Your life could end suddenly for many reasons — a car accident, an airplane crash, a predator-drone strike (just kidding), or even a 16-ton weight falling on your head. What is a rational approach to managing these risks? Some of them are, for most of us, too remote to think about, while others justify modest costs to reduce them. You could avoid all risk of car accidents by staying at home all the time, but for most people that cost is too high.

Mr. Craven compares the problem to that of buying a lottery ticket, but a rational approach to even lottery-ticket purchases requires a calculation in terms of the cost of each ticket against the probability of winning and the expected winnings.

The point of Craven’s argument is to reach a conclusion that we should support carbon-trading permits or some other incredible central-planning scheme that would fundamentally alter human society and economics without having to win on the science.

AGW promoters have good reason for steering people away from the science. Once you start to tug on that ball of yarn, the entire politically motivated fraud starts to unravel.

Robert Blumen is an independent enterprise software consultant based in San Francisco. Send him mail. See Robert Blumen’s article archives.

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