As many readers of this blog know, I’ve spent years collecting research and reporting on the climate harms of militarism. When I began this was an obscure perspective shared by few; it is now mainstream in climate movements (as long as they are not controlled by the Democratic Party, that is).
So it is gratifying to see this fact of modern life represented at last weekend’s big climate march in New York City.
Other points of view also trend in that direction.
If capitalism is the root cause of rapidly warming oceans and extreme weather events, then the wars that are necessary to sustain capitalism are implicated.
But what about war in space, which is already well underway even if few realize it? The proliferation of rocket launches in recent years and the accompanying environmental damage are almost never mentioned in reporting on either space topics or military topics.
This coming weekend I’ll attend Maine’s biggest annual green lifestyle event, the Common Ground Fair. It draws thousands from all over the region for a “celebration of country living” sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association.
On Sunday morning in the political and social action tent a group of us will update fairgoers on plans to build a rocket launch site on the coast of Maine. Steuben is within sight of Acadia National Park, and the floating launch pad proposed would sit amid lobster fishing and seaweed harvesting activities already generating jobs and providing sustenance for the last several decades.
The plan is for up to 30 launches each year between Memorial Day and Labor Day of rockets roughly the height of a mature White Pine.
Noise from tests of the proposed engine developed by blueShift Aerospace in Brunswick is so loud that parents report their child woke up frightened and crying after hearing it in his sleep. Toxic fallout from rocket launches reaches as high as the stratosphere, where soot particles linger and damage ozone. Toxic fallout from rocket launches in other states has polluted wetlands, breeding grounds, and beaches. And when rocket launches fail — as they often do — forests burn and areas several miles wide are littered with debris like concrete.
All rocket site construction involves toxic substances, including the PFAS foam used for fire fighting and stored in vast quantities on site until it may be needed. And when rockets and satellites fall from the sky, they disintegrate into a chemical soup that then falls to Earth. Mass deaths of birds and other animals have been observed at rocket launch sites in other states.
Maine was once considered Vacationland because of its deep forests, clean water, beautiful shoreline, and abundance of foods like lobsters, trout, and clams.
Although organized lobster fishermen in Jonesport blocked the construction of the toxic launch site in their fishing grounds, Steuben has not been so lucky. Resident Larch Hanson is ready to sue blueShift’s CEO for trampling on the democratic process and putting his seaweed harvesting business at risk. The town government of Steuben has squelched discussion of the rocket launch site plan and silenced critics, according to Hanson.
It’s worth noting that a bill rushed through supposedly as “emergency” legislation and passed under the gavel (i.e. without a roll call vote) established a private-public partnership called the Maine Space Corporation to support just this kind of project. So undemocratic methods are a signature of bringing rocket launches to Vacationland.
But isn’t space cool? you may ask. And educational?
All space programs are inherently military in nature, no matter what NASA or the University of Maine tell you. Every rocket launch site built on other pristine coasts such as Kodiak, Alaska or Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand was sold to local residents as non-military but once built has been used extensively and repeatedly to launch military satellites. (More details on that here.)
As a retired educator, I know STEM fans will enthuse about how much science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education will be advanced by projects such as this one. STEM educators in Australia are currently excited about how middle school students will be involved in projects connected to nuclear submarines the U.S. is forcing on them despite considerable pushback from the public.
STEM can be a force for good, but not when it’s used as a cover up for militarizing education and other public resources.
I have been astonished at the lack of interest among environmentalists who I might have expected would oppose building a rocket launch site on the Maine coast. No doubt it’s partly attributable to the slavish reprinting of bluShift press releases as “news” in corporate media.
I’m hopeful that we can raise some awareness of this issue at the Common Ground Fair this weekend.
After reading through the hubristic and misguided Black Sea Strategy paper issued by neo-con think tank The Heritage Foundation, a group of us decided the Pentagon should not send the Coast Guard there until U.S. citizens can find it on a map.
Since this could take a while, we’d better get started.
Map A – This nation, unlike the U.S., actually has an extensive border with the Black Sea.
Map B – This Black Sea bordering nation is referred to in the quote below from Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff’s March 4, 2022 article “Blackwater Mercenaries: NATO’s Secret Weapon in Ukraine War”:
The Machiavellian plan of NATO’s military strategists is to establish refugee settlements with the “humanitarian assistance” in the border regions of Ukraine’s neighboring countries.. and then provide guerrilla warfare training and lethal arms to all able-bodied men of military age in order to “bleed Russia’s security forces” in the protracted irregular warfare.
Map C – Like Ukraine, this Black Sea bordering nation has regions where Russia stepped in during 2008 to protect the lives of Russophone citizens under bombardment from their own government.
Bonus question: What U.S. senator was the first to come to this nation after the events of 2008 to pledge U.S. undying support against Russia?
Map D – In January 2023, this country’s national gas company made a deal with a Turkish energy company to transit 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas each year, about half of the country’s annual consumption. The country had become unable or unwilling to continue buying Russian gas because of a requirement to pay in roubles.
Map E – Making a return appearance to my geography quiz series, this NATO nation is so strategically located in controlling maritime access to the Black Sea that it often risks U.S. wrath to cooperate with Russia, and vice versa.
Map F – This country’s borders have changed significantly over the course of its civil war, and its short border with the Black Sea continues to grow shorter as it wages war against its Russophone citizens and former citizens.
Detail from the graphic novel I Survived the attacks of September 11, 2001
The empire never stops churning out soft propaganda to make sure that the next generations in the U.S. are as confused about their government’s wrongdoings as their forebears were. When do you tell your own children the truth? And how do you present it in terms they are able to understand?
I’ve previously mentioned the publishing company Scholastic which does a lot of the heavy lifting around selling pro-war, pro-imperialism narratives to young children. One of their mechanisms for infiltrating public schools is through book fairs, thoroughly commercial enterprises that reach right into publicly funded school time to sell kids on militarism with books that come with their own set of dog tags. Never too young to start thinking about being cannon fodder for the empire!
A Scholastic series that is very popular with a first grader I love is the I Survived series. Among historical fiction about a character who survives the great molasses flood in Boston or the shark attacks of 1916 we find the title: I SURVIVED THE ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001.
Consuming stories about peril like fairy tales or historical fiction is a way to process our fears as fragile human beings. Preying on this tendency in order to sell imperial narratives is a way to make money while serving the power structures that can make our lives prosperous or miserable.
But what to tell the children?
Australian mom Caitlin Johnstone wrote today:
Humans have two adulthoods: the first is physical maturity, the second is intellectual maturity. The second adulthood is the process of learning that everything you were taught about the world in childhood is false, and discovering the truth of what’s really going on. The first adulthood is thrust upon us by nature and time, while the second is a conscious and deliberate process we choose for ourselves. All humans reach the first adulthood if they live long enough. Very few reach the second.
I prefer the discovery method of education but what is a reasonable response to the barrage of misinformation visited upon a typical American 1st grader?
Well friends, I came right out and said in response to many questions about the details of the 9/11 attack in New York City: Your own government caused 9/11. This news was received with skepticism (hooray!) and then I faced the fundamental pedagogical question, how best to support my claim for this audience?
I went with the amazing coincidence between what the event would come to be called and the three digit emergency services number that all in the U.S. had known for years: dial 911.
Still skeptical (hooray!).
Then I felt it only fair to protect my loved one who is still quite an innocent child by adding: If you say this at school, some people might get mad at you.
You may disagree with my choices. I had the benefit of a father who told me the hard truth about political realities long before most children were thought old enough to handle it. I think this accelerated what Johnstone calls the second adulthood. It’s been a benefit in my life, not a curse.
Sharing a guest post today by a long time activist around the environmental threats of militarism. (Images added.) Newspapers local to Vandenberg SFB didn’t want to publish this fine op-ed, preferring instead to regurgitate government and corporate press releases that boost militarized space programs.
Vandenberg Space Programs Threaten Santa Barbara
by Nina Beety
Why is the ozone layer deteriorating despite international action such as the ban on CFCs? The misleading green and blue on NASA’s maps actually signifies low ozone.
The aerospace industry is a major factor. Dallas et al (2020): [O]zone depletion is one of the largest environmental concerns surrounding rocket launches from Earth.” NASA discovered in 2007 that UV-C and UV-B were already reaching the Earth but failed to act. UV radiation is having lethal effects on species now.
Rockets destroy ozone. Rocket emissions from the four principal fuel types “cause prompt and deep ozone loss (approaching 100%) in the immediate plume wake, caused by the radical emissions, over areas of hundreds of square miles lasting several days after launch. These stratospheric ‘‘ozone mini-holes’’ have been well observed in situ by high altitude aircraft plume sampling campaigns.”(Ross et al, 2009) Radicals are oxides of hydrogen, nitrogen, bromine, and chlorine. “Stratospheric ozone levels are controlled by catalytic chemical reactions driven by only trace amounts of reactive gases and particles…A single radical molecule emitted into the stratosphere, for example, can destroy up to ~105 [100,000] ozone molecules before being deactivated and transported out of the stratosphere. ..[D]irect injection into the stratosphere over a limited area (a rocket plume, for example) will cause a prompt, localized, ozone ‘‘hole.’’
Vandenberg is damaging the ozone layer locally over Santa Barbara County now. Yet the Coastal Commission in June quietly approved SpaceX’s expansion there to 36 launches per year, and in September, will likely approve a new Phantom Space Company space complex at Vandenberg and allow 48 rocket launches per year. That’s 1.5 launches per week, and more projects are coming. Commission staff claim their hands are tied.
The shockwave of de-orbiting debris, satellites, and rockets creates nitric oxide which also destroys ozone.
Further, the sun makes ozone and replenishes the ozone layer in the stratosphere, but rocket pollutants there, including exhaust, water vapor, soot, and alumina, block the sun’s rays from repairing the ozone layer. And those rocket byproducts accumulate with every launch, persisting for up to three years before falling out.
Researchers including Martin Ross, Darin Toohey, and James Vedda have repeatedly warned the industry that public awareness could curtail rocket launches.
The long-lived aerospace pollution also acts like an insulating blanket, trapping Earth’s natural and human-made heat from venting into space. This will cause planetary warming and destabilize the climate.
Other serious problems exist. Aerospace pollution and explosions contaminate land, air, water, and ocean, harming wildlife. Nuclear spacecraft are being developed. Orbital congestion has created collision risks. And when rockets and satellites de-orbit, they burn and disintegrate into dust, gases, and flaming debris that fall down; the FCC proposes a 1 in 10,000 casualty risk from fall-out as “acceptable”.
Satellite systems also increase RF-EMF radiation exposure globally, damaging health and disrupting wildlife’s ability to navigate by Earth’s natural EMF fields. Bees, insects, and birds are particularly vulnerable. The U.S. Department of Interior warned in 2014 about this radiation’s devastating impacts to birds, and in 2020, a New Mexico 5G “live fire” drill by SpaceX and the military may have killed up to several million birds in the region. Emissions just discovered from SpaceX equipment may also interfere with the magnetosphere and Earth’s natural electric circuit, leading to extreme weather.
Federal and state legislators ignore this toxic reality.
In 2020, there were 2000 satellites total in the sky. By 2021, the number rose to 4800, the FCC approved 17,270 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, with 65,912 more applications pending, while governments and private companies planned an additional 30,947+ (Firstenberg, 2022). More are coming. These numbers don’t include medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites or rockets into space.
LEOs are short-lived, needing frequent replacement. Science author Arthur Firstenberg: “In 2021, there were 146 orbital rocket launches to put 1,800 satellites into space. At that rate, to maintain and continually replace 100,000 low-earth-orbit satellites, which have a lifespan of five years, would require more than 1,600 rocket launches per year, or more than four every day, forever into the future.” Aleksandr Dunayev of the Russian Space Agency said in 1991: “About 300 launches of the [space] shuttle each year would be a catastrophe, and the ozone layer would be completely destroyed.”
This is a worldwide problem. There is no environmental oversight. That is unacceptable.
It’s long past time to strip back the curtain and expose the aerospace industry, including space tourism and military programs. Those who want to stop climate change and protect the ozone layer and the Earth must take action.
My friend and neighbor is a past chief of the Penobscot Nation here in Wabanaki territory. He’s been on social media recently harshly criticizing indigenous elders who fly in to big conferences about — well, anything really. His point: flying harms the climate significantly, and anyone who claims to be concerned about the environment should not be flying.
I thought of his long-standing advice when hearing about the Burning Man festival this year being inundated with rain and then immobilized by mud. One person has died out of approximately 70,000 who are locked down in the campsite since motoring, bicycling, or even walking through the thick, soupy mud is nearly impossible. And there’s more rain on the way.
This made me think of another friend, an adventurous grandmother who traveled to Burning Man this year. I hope she’s okay. When she told me she was finally going to attend after years of wanting to, I realized how much I avoid large crowds that I would have gleefully joined in my youth. Maybe it was the experience of attending a solar eclipse festival in India in 1980 with one million people? Or maybe it was traveling to big antiwar demonstrations in various U.S. cities that led me to reflect on why my political advocacy carbon footprint was so big.
Another notable thing about Burning Man 2023 is that the festival opened with an homage to Ukraine. From Evan Haddad writing in the Reno Gazette Journal:
The project was funded by Come Back Alive, a foundation that provides support to service members in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The organization, which was created by Ukraine’s deputy minister of defense, Vitality Deynega, purchases equipment to help equip Ukrainian service members.
The creators probably knew it would play well with a wealthy audience that is heavily invested in the military-industrial complex: “Charter planes are descending on the Nevada desert — and the pop-up Black Rock City airport — as tech bros and billionaires gather for Burning Man” wrote Grace Kay in Business Insider.
But what it reminded me of was this piece I had just seen in Canada’s Globe and Mail: “Ukraine’s substandard medical supplies are endangering soldiers as the war intensifies.”
Vladyslav Wolovin and Anton Skyba posting from Kyiv wrote:
“This guy should have survived,” Dr. Sobolevskyy said, as he recounted treating an injured soldier at a stabilization point in Orikhove, less than five kilometres from the front line in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Despite the short distance, it took several hours for the soldier to be safely evacuated to the medical post. He arrived with three tourniquets that had been tightly wrapped around his legs by fellow soldiers. One was broken. None of them created enough pressure to prevent blood loss. “Simply put, he bled to death because of these substandard tourniquets”
Nowhere in the article is corruption named as a contributing factor, but medical volunteers shared that they’ve tried in vain to go through official channels in Ukraine to remedy the problem of sub-standard medical supplies. Ironically, the very corrupt Biden administration scolded Ukrainian officials over corruption this week and invoked the rule of law (doubtful if the Ukrainians brought up Julian Assange).
We aren’t going to burn, fly, or bomb our way out of climate catastrophe. NATO’s proxy war on Russia in Ukraine has been terrible for the environment, including climate. But hey Lockheed Martin made a lot of money off the Ukrainian people’s suffering! Never mind the globally widespread flooding and off the charts temperatures this summer in the northern hemisphere. Gaze upon your stock portfolio instead!
The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War: Charting the Rise and Fall of U.S. Military Emissions by Dr. Neta Crawford (MIT Press, 2022) could have been called Fully Burdened: The True Cost Of Energy Consumed by the Pentagon. “Fully burdened” is a concept that comes up repeatedly as Crawford examines what raw data she can find on military fuel use and its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
Pentagon white papers define the Fully Burdened Cost of Fuel as:
The commodity price for fuel plus the total cost of all personnel and assets required to move and, when necessary, protect the fuel from the point at which the fuel is received from the commercial supplier to the point of use.
Did you notice that GHG emissions are not included in the Pentagon’s definition of full cost? Therein lies the thesis of Crawford’s book.
As a full professor at Oxford University in Politics & International Relations, and as co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University here in the U.S., Crawford’s research has focused on an attempt to quantify military GHG emissions mostly by extrapolating from fuel purchase and usage data. This is necessary because, in a process detailed in her book, the U.S. has long insisted that the emissions of its military (and even intelligence sector) are privileged information not for the likes of us.
The Pentagon has steadily reduced its GHG emissions over the last two decades (mostly by closing bases and ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), it has developed many alternatives to fossil fuel use, and it extensively studies and prepares for climate crisis events that affect its installations and functions. However, Crawford and the rest of us are unable to account for why an obsession with “security” threatened by global climate change does not translate into an awareness of how the military itself — still, and for years, the biggest consumer of fossil fuels in the federal government AND the biggest single institutional consumer of fossil fuels on the planet — contributes to insecurity.
In the late 1990s, U.S. political leadership had a choice to make. The United States could emphasize national security, which had traditionally been understood as requiring military force to protect national power and shape world events. This is security understood as the capacity to project power everywhere, essentially any time, to preserve U.S. global military dominance and promofte[sic] its economic interests. This was the familiar path, rooted in deep cycles of consumption, fossil fuel demand, military forces to protect access to fossil fuels..and back again, recursively, to ever higher levels of fossil fuel use and emissions.
Or the U.S. government and military leaders could have chosen an alternative path — to take advantage of the end of the Cold War to emphasize human security, which depends on ecological security.
Put this way, it sounds like nationalism is the problem, but that is not something Crawford addresses in her book. Indeed, her apparent acceptance of some of the whoppers told by the U.S. government about its wars e.g. 9/11 was an al-Qaeda operation, or that the U.S. fought, even defeated, ISIS in Iraq and Syria (without mention that with its other hand the U.S. was funding ISIS), reduce Crawford’s credibility as a political scientist.
The fact that she thinks Democrats offer meaningful solutions to the problem also strains credulity. Granted that anthropogenic climate change deniers among Republicans in Congress make it difficult to speak clearly about mitigating the effects of Pentagon emissions, but empty words about greening the military while simultaneously issuing new drilling permits on federal land do nothing to pull us back from the cliff of fatal climate chaos.
Crawford thus accepts some of the Pentagon’s pronouncements about our forever wars but not others. She writes:
Recall that in 1997, the Department of Defense warned the White House of the dire consequences that could flow, not from global warming, but from the Kyoto Protocol. They said that “imposing greenhouse gas emissions limitation on tactical and strategic military systems would…adversely impact operations and readiness.”
Now in 2023, we’re living with the reality of a U.S. Space Force that is hugely polluting, especially in the upper atmosphere where climate effects are longer lasting and more dire (Crawford touches on this briefly).
Mary-Jane Rubenstein, author of Astrotopia: The Dangerous Religion of the Corporate Space Race, said in a recent podcast shared on Truthout:
The environmental damage that the contemporary space race is doing is one of the most under-discussed crises of our contemporary moment.
..Billionaires like Elon Musk have promoted fantasies that humanity’s best hope, in the face of an apocalyptic crisis, lies in the colonization of space. Jeff Bezos has argued that the extractive industrialization of space will ultimately make life on Earth sustainable.
So again we find that the solutions offered to climate catastrophe are actually driving us ever faster toward…climate catastrophe.
Some international scholars and journalists think the solutions lie elsewhere. From the blog and podcast Chronicles of Haiphong on the recent BRICS summit:
Pepe Escobar: In a room in Johannesburg, you have a Cuban who’s the leader of the new non-aligned movement, with all these leaders from the developing world, most of them Africans, meeting exclusively with Xi Jinping to discuss sustainable development. Everything about sustainable development. So this is something that you obviously won’t read in the New York Times or the Washington Post..
Michael Hudson: You also pointed out quite correctly that the key to all of this is indeed oil and energy. That’s what the Western press cannot discuss [emphasis mine] because the center point of all U.S. foreign policy since 1945 has been the international oil industry.
Crawford’s work on computing the true and fully burdened costs of continuing to do business in this fashion will remain useful. I especially appreciated her analysis of the climate impact of military air shows which are frequent insanely polluting prestige events for the military that contribute nothing to national security.
But real solutions to climate chaos will require stepping out of the box of conducting foreign policy as if the U.S. were the center of the world and not just a mere 6% of the total global population. Is U.S. military or political leadership capable of this kind of planetary thinking? I doubt it.
In sharp contrast to the BRICS summit in South Africa ushering in a “multilateral organization that will shape the contours of a new system of international relations,” (Pepe Escobar), the U.S. hosted Japan and South Korea at Camp David to hammer out a three-way military alliance between grossly unequal partners.
The military pact of South Korea and Japan with the U.S. intentionally damages both the South Korean and Japanese economies, as China has been the major trading partner of both countries. However, right-wing militarists in office in each country seem willing to act against their own people’s interests.
The U.S. government has long maintained separate defense pacts with both countries. Based on Japan’s brutal 35-year colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula, from 1910 to 1945, there remains deep hostility among the Korean people toward Japan. Nevertheless, based on U.S. pressure, the regimes have now become “partners” against China.
President Biden commended President Yoon and Prime Minister Kishida for their courageous leadership in transforming relations between Japan and the ROK. With the renewed bonds of friendship—and girded by the ironclad U.S.-Japan and U.S.-ROK alliances—each of our bilateral relationships is now stronger than ever. So too is our trilateral relationship.
My translation: the deeply unpopular President Yoon making nice with colonial exploiter Japan was a prerequisite for the new war pact against China.
In an interesting parallel, it now appears that China and Russia’s brokering of an historic rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran earlier this year paved the way for both nations to join BRICS.
Now being termed BRICS 11 because six nations have joined the original five of the acronym (the other new members are the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Egypt, and Ethiopia).
Here is the Johannesburg II Declaration of the 15th BRICS summit. BRICS 11 is just the start. There’s a long line eager to join; without referring to the dozens of nations (and counting) that have already “expressed their interest”, according to the South Africans, the official list, so far, includes Algeria, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Venezuela, Vietnam, Guinea, Greece, Honduras, Indonesia, Cuba, Kuwait, Morocco, Mexico, Nigeria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkiye and Syria.
So while the bigger, wealthier group forges ahead with a comprehensive agreement to reign in predatory debt mechanisms of the West against the Global South and, incidentally, to reject new members if they sanction existing BRICS nations, the U.S. continues looking for a nation to play the role of Ukraine in its planned war against China.
the recent Sino-Filipino incident that was sparked by Manila’s failed attempt to smuggle construction materials to a disputed reef could have been timed to precede the latest trilateral talks and this week’s joint drills, thus enabling them to be spun as defense measures instead of provocations..
All of this leads to “pacifist” Japan saber-rattling against China in its South Sea on the Philippines’ behalf in support of their shared US patrons’ “rules-based order”, which solidifies their nascent trilateral alliance.. and consequently advances the AUKUS+ agenda of “containing” China.
Meanwhile, the usual suspects have been busy on the information war front.
An investigation by Alan MacLeod of MintPress News found that the FBI and the government of Taiwan have been working together to spread hate against China in the U.S.
Official documents reviewed by “MintPress News” show that the Taiwanese government is attempting to drum up anti-China hostility, influence and intimidate American politicians and is even working with the FBI and other agencies to spy on and prosecute Chinese American citizens.
Key points of this investigation • Taiwanese officials are monitoring Chinese Americans and passing intelligence to the FBI in attempts to have them prosecuted. • Taiwan is working with “friends” in media and politics to create a culture of fear towards China and Chinese people in the US • Taiwanese officials claim they are “directing” and “guiding” certain US politicians. • Taiwan is monitoring and helping to intimidate U.S. politicians they deem to be too pro-China. • The island is spending millions funding US think tanks that inject pro-Taiwan and anti-China talking points into American politics.
Why do nations like Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the Philippines, for whom China is a huge trading partner, submit to U.S. demands that run counter to their own economic interests?
But much of the world is banding together to say Enough! Note that BRICS came out strongly against war in space, and in favor of arms control treaties in what the U.S. predictably rejects in its key “warfighting domain.” Indeed, satellite communications have been integral to the U.S./NATO waging their proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.
Full disclosure: I work for the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space which is prominently featured in Jeremy Kuzmarov’s article.
It appears that war has hastened ongoing cooperation with Russia by many nations — in direct opposition to its stated goal of isolating Putin and his government. For example, check out this speech by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki at the BRICS summit denouncing “U.S. exceptionalism” on the grounds that “it has gravely impaired global progress for over a century now.”
I think we can all agree that century is behind us, and history is now remaking itself.
My representative, Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District (we only have two) is pictured here with two of the other three members of our congressional delegation plus their party leader President Biden. (Senator Susan Collins is missing.) Collectively these people have sent $160 Billion to Ukraine.
The ratio on this (negative comments vs. supportive comments) was enormous. It sounds ignorant enough for me to believe that Golden actually wrote it himself, but such tasks are usually done by comms staffers.
Let’s break down his arguments.
The phrase “radical leftist elites” caused equal parts of hilarity and pushback. In Maine??? Super old, super white, and, in the district he represents, super conservative demographics. Some comments waded into the oxymoron of “leftist elites” but I’m going to give Golden a pass on this one because of years of corporate media claiming that people like him and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-CD1) are “leftist” have deliberately confused many about the meaning of that word.
I am an actual leftist, and I don’t believe in elites. Mostly because this is the kind of garbage government they produce.
Next point: “silence and destroy anyone who disagrees with your views and goals.” This one is highly ironic coming from a person who takes big money from tech giants like Apple who are in the business of silencing dissenting speech at the behest of the federal government. But it’s a dog whistle for his largely MAGA electorate.
He stands by his vote against a paltry $10k student loan forgiveness bill. It’s not unusual for him to vote against the Democratic herd (unless it’s on wars or military, that is). Maybe Golden plans to drop the D in 2024 and run as an “independent” since that’s worked so well for Senator Angus King?
Here’s where the comments really went nuts: “They [college loan recipients] were privileged to have the opportunity and many of them left college well-situated to make six figures for life.” Bre Kidman, an attorney who doesn’t live in Golden’s district:
Okay here’s where he really goes off the rails: “The Twitterati can keep bemoaning their privileged status and demanding handouts all they want…”
Some are opining that an intern wrote this but use of the absurd and laughable term Twitterati implies to me that an older conservative author was responsible. Also who “bemoans” their “privileged status”? The bemoaning I hear in Maine is from people living on the streets who’ve got nothing to eat, or are about to get evicted because their rent has skyrocketed, or can’t believe their insanely high grocery bills. Or can’t afford medical care they desperately need. (Golden abandoned his first campaign promise to support Medicare for All after taking money from the health “care” industry plus tech firms looking to expand into health “care”.)
“…but as far as I’m concerned if they want free money for college, they can join the Marines like I, and so many others, have done in the past and many more will in the future.” Now we arrive at the real point of this ungrammatical post (maybe he did write it himself): making college debt prohibitively high, with no escape route via bankruptcy, is a strategy to boost military recruitment.
Was Golden supposed to say the quiet part out loud?
In any case it’s been an abject failure because currently only 9% of those in the right age band will even consider military enlistment, and the Pentagon is struggling to find enough recruits. Their own research found the reasons that so few want to follow Golden’s example: they don’t want to die or be injured, they don’t want to leave friends and family, and they don’t want to put their lives on hold (in that order).Maybe the decades of U.S. wars where the only winners are the military-industrial complex are a factor? Either way, literate young people who qualify want nothing to do with the U.S. military.Also, much of the pushback on this notion came from disabled Mainers.
Finally, there was a lot of pushback on Golden voting to forgive PPP loans that corporate entities like (checks notes) the biggest law firm in Maine took out in 2020.
All in all, beating up on a generation shackled by predatory loans in an economy where most can’t make a living wage, afford homeownership, or start a family is bully behavior. Way to punch down, forgetting (?) that you represent one of the lowest income areas in the nation.
But not to worry, he’s fundraising in the rich part of Maine.
Rich Men North Of Richmond vs Try That In A Small Town
Two summer anthems of disaffection with decay in the U.S. could not be more different. Yes, they’re both in the country genre and feature male leads but one is a pro-policing screed that couldn’t be slicker, and the other is as genuine as it gets.
Viral hit “Try That In A Small Town” from Jason Aldean’s 11th album was written by a team not including Aldean, recorded in a studio, and then embellished with one of the more incoherent music videos I’ve seen. Granted I don’t see that many music videos, but my impression of this one was that the lead singer is mailing it in while the montage of images behind him — flag-draped White House, looting, assault — do the heavy lifting. Basically a 2nd Amendment commercial laced with the kind of threats you may remember from your elementary school playground.
The artist denies it, but dog whistle racist imagery abounds. It’s possible this song could be construed as a campaign ad for Trump since the disorder depicted is widely viewed by Republicans as occurring under the Biden administration and Democratic mayors of big cities.
(For an insightful discussion of disorder and other electoral issues, I highly recommend Matt Taibbi and Walter Kirn’s “America This Week: Campaign Preview” available here.)
Newer viral hit “Rich Men North Of Richmond” is performed by singer/songwriter Oliver Anthony in a lightly amplified outdoor setting. He nails the aggrieved white working class male lament in a way that the wealthy Aldean’s performance only mimics.
Or maybe it’s not even a particularly white point of view? Rapper TRE TV nodded along in sympathy before sharing his reaction to Anthony’s intro, I been selling my soul, working all day, overtime hours for bullshit pay:
That’s how we all feel. We working, ain’t getting nowhere, the money ain’t adding up. You get your check and you’re like, What. Is. This?…Hell, this thing missing a couple of zeros!
I thought the vocals were tough.. and the message. I give this a 10.
Anthony also takes a potshot at riders on Epstein’s “Lolita Express,” excess taxation, and references the suicide epidemic among young men suffering under top down control from the rich men north of Richmond. An interview with the singer revealed he was specifically thinking of Washington DC swamp monsters when he penned the alliterative line (he appears to like puns, rhyming, and alliteration).
He goes off the rails only once when he engages in fat shaming aimed at food stamp recipients. Hard to know for sure, but maybe he has an ex-girlfriend who’s 5 foot 3, weighs 300 pounds, and is partial to fudge roll?
It cracks me up how conservatives are trying to claim Oliver Anthony for their own. Did they listen to his words? Cue the mainstream media, now in overdrive claiming the song is a big hit with the right but leaving leftists cold. Wealthy media are having to spin extra hard to depict the ballad as a rallying cry for Civil War 2.0. You know, the war the wealthy hope we have instead of the revolution we need.
The problem with their analysis, of course, is that right and especially left have become so diluted in meaning that the terms are increasingly useless. Anthony has shared with journalists that he considers himself a centrist with no allegiance to either of the corporate parties.
Chris Hedges writes searingly about this from time to time. His latest is set in rural Maine aka northern Appalachia where I live and which, this time of year, looks nearly identical to the West Virginia setting of Anthony’s video. “Forgotten Victims of America’s Class War” lays out about as well as anything I’ve read how left vs. right or red vs. blue are increasingly meaningless in a gutted economy that’s failing working people.
My husband is writing the next viral country song: “Try building hypersonic weapons in a country with subpar science.” It may need some wordsmithing, but his concept is solid.
He was inspired after I showed him this tweet of the article above along with a selection of the comments:
“Inept H1B imports” refers to a special visa designation oft used by tech corporations to hire from outside the U.S. based on their claim that they can’t find anyone in country who will accept low wages has the skills to do the job. (I’m not sure why Quaternion Group calls such workers inept — could he do their jobs?)
I would argue that the military-industrial industry is more likely to be brought to its knees by the poisoned seeds it contains within: crony capitalism.
When the head of your military has just resigned his seat on the board of Raytheon, you know he has friends in high places who expect him to scratch their back in return for having scratched his. White House, ditto. And then Congress multiplies this problem several hundred fold. For the past few years it has passed a Pentagon budget higher than what the Pentagon itself requested.
Try that in a small town.
Rep. Adam Smith chairs the House Armed Services Committee and is making a name for himself sharing opinion pieces like this:
The U.S. Department of Defense has spent tens of billions of dollars over the last 25 years on weapons systems that simply have failed to deliver as planned. These systems have wound up way over budget and have been either delivered exceptionally late or canceled outright after the DoD spent billions of dollars on them. Many of the programs that survive to completion, after long delays and cost overruns, have not delivered the capabilities initially desired and promised.
Not for the first time I’m reflecting on the role of late stage capitalism in defunding and privatizing public education.
Finding the best math and science students and giving them all the free education they desire is what countries like Russia and China do. Here’s what the U.S. does:
And, I’ll just leave this artifact of reverse brain drain here:
From the International Business Times:
In April, Carl Schuster, a retired U.S. Navy captain and former director of operations at the Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center in Hawaii, conveyed to CNN that “submarines are one area where the United States retains unchallenged superiority over China.”
But now it’s being reported that a prestigious science journal in China published a study suggesting that existing technology could be used to successfully detect U.S. nuclear submarines. If it pans out, this could significantly affect U.S. military dominance of the world’s oceans.
Two lucky things happened yesterday at Koohan Paik-Mander’s talk in Brunswick: she presented me with a copy of Pentagon, Climate Change, and War by Neta Crawford, inscribed by the author who she had just been on retreat with and 2) a seaweed harvester I’ve corresponded with, Larch Hanson, showed up. His timing was impeccable as I’m just preparing for a talk next month against a proposed rocket launch site on the Maine coast adjacent to Acadia National Park.
Larch and his partner Nina Crocker had come quite a ways to hear Koohan and they were not disappointed.
I suppose it was three lucky things, actually, because Koohan’s talk was so good. I’d heard a version of it before when we worked together on a COP26 People’s Forum webinar about climate and militarism, but the in-person wisdom and additional information were tremendously though- provoking.
Militarization of the oceans is no joke, is well underway, and creates wholesale slaughter of life forms — like the ocean mammals who seem in many ways wiser than humans. By killing off whales or coral reefs, the war machine may actually kill off life on the planet by interfering with the ocean’s basic functions e.g. its ability to sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide.
And as we know, the heavens are now full of the satellites that are integral to modern weapons systems. Koohan described how every archipelago in the Pacific is infested with U.S. military installations, many brand new, and how the Pentagon is rapidly filling the oceans with sonar devices that will link up to satellites in order to threaten nuclear war on China. (Check out this radio interview Koohan did with anti-nuclear activist Bob Anderson in New Mexico recently.)
A slide she shared mapped corporate entities’ plans to put satellites overhead for the next five years:
What could go wrong?
As to why meeting Larch was so lucky, he’s someone I’ve been needing and wanting to work with because he’s from the town being targeted for a rocket launch site. As was discussed in the Q&A at Koohan’s talk, launch sites all over the planet are part of the Pentagon’s plan for full spectrum dominance. From New Zealand to Kodiak, Alaska residents experience the noise, pollution, and habitat destruction of rocket launches that were never going to be for military purposes but then somehow always are used for military purposes.
Here’s an excerpt from the handout Larch shared with us about Steuben, Maine:
I look forward to generating more resistance to using the Maine coast for rocket launches. Bruce Gagnon and I will be speaking at the Common Ground Fair on Sunday September 24 at 9am and we’ve invited Larch to consider joining us as a co-presenter.
With islands around the northern hemisphere burning in the hottest summer yet, rocket launches from the rapidly warming waters off Maine are the next-to-last thing we need.
WW3 with a nuclear-armed nation is the literal last thing we need and the furthest thing from lucky that I can imagine.
Koohan left us with some relevant lines from Alan Ginsburg’s epic poem “Howl“:
Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
“This region of Africa—the Sahel—has faced a cascade of crises: the desiccation of the land due to the climate catastrophe, the rise of Islamic militancy due to the 2011 NATO war in Libya, the increase in smuggling networks to traffic weapons, humans, and drugs across the desert, the appropriation of natural resources—including uranium and gold—by Western companies that have simply not paid adequately for these riches, and the entrenchment of Western military forces through the construction of bases and the operation of these armies with impunity.”
Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea — what do they have in common? Could you find the nations leading the anti-colonial drive in the Sahel region of Africa on a map?
Map A – Led by revolutionary Thomas Sankara from 1983 until his CIA-sponsored assassination in 1987. Currently, Interim President Capt. Ibrahim Traoré has pledged support for Niger in that nation’s efforts to expel French and U.S. military occupiers. Technically not in the Sahel on the map above, but shares a border with nations that are.
Map B – “military leaders of Burkina Faso and [this nation] threatened war if the U.S. and France attacked Niger, even if they did so through the Black face of ECOWAS” Ajamu Baraka, Black Agenda Report
Map C – Technically not in the Sahel in the map above, but shares borders with nations that are and has an anti-colonial government.
Map D – “Following anti-colonial coups, the US and France threaten intervention to re-install a pro-Western regime in [this country], which produces uranium needed for nuclear energy and hosts strategic US drone bases.” Ben Norton, Geopolitical Economy Report
Map E – People of this nation are known as *****ians in contrast to their neighbors who are known as Nigeriens. Part of the ECOWAS alliance, it has already blockaded Niger in response to NATO nations calling for that nation to be punished for ejecting colonial powers France and the U.S.
Map F – “Operation Restore Democracy”, an ECOWAS operation led by [this nation] in 2017, sent troops into The Gambia to impose a new leader friendly to the West. In the map below, The Gambia is surrounded by this nation on three sides, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Map G – Malik Agar, Deputy Chairman of the Sovereign Council, participated in the recent Russian-African summit in Petersburg. The Wagner Group private militia are said to be supporting theparamilitary Rapid Support Forces in the ongoing civil war in [this country], while the U.S., EU, and UK have imposed sanctions. In particular its Darfur region has experienced much violence.
Map H – Destination for refugees from ongoing war in neighboring Sudan, this nation had its own civil war but not to worry! USAID head Samantha Power visited a refugee camp here and pledged lots of monetary support.
Map I – A strong majority voted in 1993 for independence from Ethiopia. Was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2021 for supporting rebels in Ethiopia’s Tigray Regional State.
Map J – Part of the anti-ECOWAS alliance to support Niger’s independence from French and U.S. colonial exploitation.
Map A – Burkina Faso
Map B -Mali
Map C – Mauritania
Map D – Niger
Map E – Nigeria
Map F – Senegal
Map G – Sudan
Map H – Chad
Map I – Eritrea
Map J – Guinea
The US has over 1,000 troops in Niger, put there in 2007 during the Obama years. Are they really there to fight “terrorism”, of a kind that the west supported in Syria, or are they there to advance imperial interests?The US presence in Africa has been disastrous, adding to the very instability that it claims to address, even as African population, natural resources and economic importance are rapidly increasing (with Africa possibly becoming the world’s single greatest economy in the 2060s, according to UN projections).
The violence at the center of the relationship between the European colonizer and the colonized “other” has not changed since Europeans spilled out of Europe into the Americas in 1492, only its forms have taken new shapes.
ERRATA: A reader pointed out that Obama became president in 2009, so the quote I included about troops into Niger under his watch could not have happened in 2007. I’m guessing that was a typo on the part of the author. Certainly AFRICOM / U.S. military presence on the African continent expanded dramatically during the Obama administration.
Yesterday, General Dynamics in collusion with the U.S. Navy held a “christening” of their latest warship, a nuclear-capable Aegis Destroyer attended by elected officials.
After decades of determined protest and, at times, civil disobedience leading to arrests outside Bath Iron Works’ gates, the shipyard’s glorifications of war making are no longer open to the general public. (They’re also announced at the last minute in obscure channels, so how our group is able to get wind of their plans in time to organize a response is anybody’s guess.)
That 24 of us gathered on short notice was one of the things right about yesterday. (Protester Bruce Gagnon’s favorable report is here.)Some of what was wrong:
🕱 Christening is an obnoxious term for naming a ship that will be used to menace China.
Jesus Christ taught turn the other cheek and love one another. Co-opting his name to do pr for your nuclear weapons system is obscene.
🕱 The destroyer is named after a Vietnam war “hero” (an oxymoron if there ever was one) who’s incidentally still living and attended the ceremony. Most people who could remember the moral stain of the U.S. proxy war on China using Vietnam are dead. So, imperial narrative managers figure it’s time to refurbish the reputation of a wildly unpopular war that killed millions, poisoned thousands with chemical weapons, and spread cluster bombs that are still killing people in neighboring Laos and Cambodia.
🕱 The cost to the U.S. taxpayer for this warship: around $2 billion.
🕱 The Pentagon just failed its fifth audit, so we’ll probably never know why the ship cost so much. The U.S. military also just got the biggest budget ever authorized by Congress, a whopping $832 billion, and an undercount at that as nuclear weapons are funded through the Department of Energy budget.
🕱 As a friend pointed out to the reporter for the Times Record yesterday,
Outside the shipyard celebration, Mary Beth Sullivan of Brunswick was one of about 20 people who gathered to protest, holding signs that decried military spending and aggression.”The money should be going to human needs in our own community,” Sullivan, a social worker, said. “We could be building solar panels or windmills. There’re so many other projects we could be building if only we had a different mindset.
There’s so much profit in war.”
🕱 The reporter chose to follow MB’s quote with a rebuttal from Senator Angus King who was in attendance to kiss the ring of General Dynamics:
“There are people who say we shouldn’t spend so much money on defense and we shouldn’t build these ships,” King told the crowd. “The problem is there is evil and aggression in the world. If there’s any doubt of that: Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The whole purpose of building this ship is notifying our adversaries … we have the capacity to punish them if they commit an act of aggression against the United States or its allies.
We are building these ships so they will never have to be used.”
🕱 King was there to demonstrate that no matter whether you have an I (he’s an independent), a D (Governor Janet Mills), or an R (Senator Susan Collins) after your name, the war machine owns you.
🕱 All military contracting is sold to local entities (who are then pressured to cough up tax rebates for the wealthy corporations they are lucky enough to attract) as a good jobs program. It is nothing of the kind, producing the lowest number of jobs generated per dollar invested in various economic sectors.
🕱 Ramping up a World War 3 with China is the Pentagon’s worst idea yet. If an Aegis is capable of carrying nukes, how is China supposed to know that a war ship menacing the South China Sea isn’t about to annihilate Beijing?
🕱 The environmental destruction to places like Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island in South Korea via construction to port U.S. war ships is tragic.
🕱 The climate harms of U.S. militarism are well-documented yet never included in the corporate news reporting that puffs gala events like the war ship celebration.
I’ll leave you with more of what went right:
☮ We did get a bit of coverage in local newspapers, both in advance and on the day of — which amplifies our messages considerably. (Kudos in particular to George and Maureen Ostensen for their publicity efforts.)
☮ A local talk radio show had me on prior to the event to talk about how and why we protest war ships.
☮ A lot of wisdom was shared in our closing circle (depicted above is Mair Honan, who moved many of us by speaking about war-induced grief).
☮ Many hundreds of celebration-goers, cops, security guards, and passers-by saw our messages. Some honked and waved, or thanked us for being there.
☮ Our presence demonstrated that it’s possible to dissent from sailing full speed ahead toward nuclear world war.
I can hear you saying, “I get that OPPENHEIMER could be soft propaganda for nuclear weapons use but BARBIE??” And I’m right there with you — because not everything that comes out of Hollywood is propaganda for the U.S. empire’s war machine.
Unless it is.
Bear with me while I notice that a) BARBIE is stirring up controversy over a map that is glimpsed showing a nine-dash line delineating areas in the South China Sea right off the coast of China and
b) U.S. client countries like the Philippines are lining up to ban BARBIE because they object to where the line is.
Here’s the non-fanciful map that NPR (National Pentagon Radio) served up in early July to accompany their article linked above:
Here’s another map I saw this morning that may have some relevance here:
Pew Research map shows unfavorable views of China are rather uneven worldwide and furthermore suggests that propaganda works. The highest percent of those viewing China unfavorably are in U.S. client states Australia and Japan, followed by U.S. client state Sweden, followed by the U.S. itself. Heck, evenfalse stories about the Barbie movie are helping to fan the flames of the map controversy.
It’s evil, but I have to admire the empire’s narrative management strategies.
To glorify such deadly science and technology as a dramatic character study, is to spit in the face of hundreds of thousands of corpses and survivors scattered throughout the history of the so-called Atomic age.
Think of it this way, for every minute that passes during the film’s 3-hour run time, more than 1,100 citizens in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki died due to Oppenheimer’s weapon of mass destruction. This doesn’t account for those downwind of nuclear tests who were exposed to radioactive fallout (some are protesting screenings), it doesn’t account for those poisoned by uranium mines, it doesn’t account for those killed during nuclear power plant melt-downs, it doesn’t account for those in the Marshall Islands who are forever poisoned.
Of course the real power of propaganda is directing our attention, both away from inconvenient truths and toward a version of reality that benefits the powerful.
I’ll leave you with this example from popular culture aimed at young kids:
This is from a picture book for children, Diary of a Spider, published in 2011 by Scholastic. I could do an entire blog post on that corporate entity’s penetration of U.S. public schools with turn key book fairs that sell a myriad of pro-military and pro-empire books.
What was U.S. Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy so pleased about in this picture? The commissioning of a U.S.-built war ship for Australia to use called the U.S.S. Canberra.It will be ported in Australia as that is much, much closer to China than any U.S. port. And it is festooned with this symbol of Australia’s subservience to the U.S. war machine now doing business as AUKUS:
Does a stars and stripes kangaroo look like a joke to you? You cannot make this stuff up.
A less flashy but probably more egregious violation of Australia’s sovereignty is the news that it is slated to become the nuclear waste dump of the AUKUS alliance.
From Crikey originally but it’s paywalled, so here’s the whole article reposted to MSN.com.
Seeing this news reminded me of an item I saw earlier in the week regarding Australia’s unique global position for rocket launches. At think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), U.S. Space Force director of staff Lieutenant-General Nina Armagno told Aussies, “Australia is sitting on a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for our common national security interests.”
Two major parts of a shared US–Australia space capability centred on surveillance and tracking of objects in space are now up and running near Exmouth in Western Australia. One is a C-band radar that was based in Antigua and has been relocated to WA, and the other is the Space Surveillance Telescope, originally developed by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The telescope is run as a joint facility and recently achieved its initial operating capability.
Who funds ASPI? Australia’s Department of “Defence” plus plenty of corporate entities that would love to get their hands on some of that gold.
More from ASPI:
Australia’s growing space industry will almost certainly welcome any moves to expand US–Australia launch collaboration, especially after a NASA rocket blasted off from the Northern Territory in June.
Old war ships and new rocket ships are all part of the massive international arms buildup for U.S. and its vassals, oops allies, to fight China and its strategic partner Russia.
What does that look like where you live?
Where I live we’ll gather Saturday July 29 at 9:30am to protest the so-called “christening” of a nuclear-capable Aegis Destroyer war ship at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard.
Menacing China with nuclear weapons systems that can be ported in South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, or Australia (and maybe New Zealand?) is the point. Peek below the surface rhetoric and you’ll see that’s what the war in Ukraine is about — weakening Russia in advance of hot war with economic rival China.
I talked about much of this on a talk radio show here in Maine this morning (hear the recorded interview here). One of the hosts challenged my belief that building nuclear weapons systems and spreading them all over the world makes people in Maine less safe, not more safe.
Thirty people and dogs gathered in the state of Maine’s capitol city yesterday for our tenth in a series of statewide coalition protests against funding the war in Ukraine. As has become the norm for these protests, thousands of passing motorists saw our messages and reacted with thumbs up, honks, and waves. We stand at Maine’s busiest intersections to reach as many eyeballs as possible. Next month we’ll stand in Ellsworth (Aug 19), gateway to posh coastal enclaves like Bar Harbor. And in September we’ll be in Unity (Sep 23) to greet the traffic jam occasioned by the hugely popular Common Ground Fair.
A couple of loud men shouted at us about their love for cluster bombs, but many of us held signs objecting to this particular weapon because 1) they mostly kill civilians and children, often for years afterwards and 2) the U.S. public has had a particularly negative reaction to sending Ukraine cluster bombs. And, a few motorists waiting for the light to change asked, What’s a cluster bomb? So we’re always out there educating in the absence of media who long since chose propaganda over helping people know what’s really going on.
As has also become the norm at these monthly coalition protests, new folks joined us for the first time. The newcomers trend young, which this grandmother finds encouraging.
Another great feature is seeing old friends who we’ve stood for peace with in the past. Nancy Blaisdell Baxter said in our closing circle that she was there remembering her late mother, Florence (a high school classmate of my father’s), who I stood with in Skowhegan against the Iraq war 20 years ago.
One of the best aspects of our protest series is gathering for lunch afterwards. This is where we find new people to connect with or catch up with old friends. Yesterday’s topics of conversation ranged from co-sponsor Party for Socialism & Liberation members crashing the governor’s opioid summit to call for effective action on the overdose crisis in our state; local environmental movements; the ongoing housing catastrophe; and the politics of inclusion via the prompt, “What book have you read lately that changed or challenged your thinking?” (Good one, MB.)
Our email list keeps growing. Thanks to the volunteers who help build it! See you next month.Or maybe the proxy war on Russia will be over by then?
I don’t often write about corruption. It’s not that interesting to me as it seems quite predictable. The powerful will feather their own nests in any system that allows it, and most systems do — having been built with this purpose in mind. So, there are a lifetime’s worth of posts about wealth flowing to corrupt leaders from ordinary people who are struggling to get by.
Even in countries where virtue rather than venality is on display it’s easy to find allegations of corruption emanating from the political opposition. It’s sort of like war crimes. All militaries commit them while accusing the other side of committing them, and it doesn’t seem like a good use of my time to sift through third-hand evidence for the truth.
But I’ve got to say that Ukraine’s leaders are so over the top that it’s becoming impossible to ignore. Add in the fact that they have been enriched by U.S. taxpayers more or less directly despite crumbling infrastructure, catastrophic homelessness, apartheid healthcare, and a host of other problems that the U.S. could address with adequate funding.
From RT (whose editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, just survived a second assassination attempt):
On July 7, US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl spoke about a new package of aid from the US which includes cluster munitions – which are banned in 120 countries. The cost was $800 million.This is the 42nd delivery of aid that Ukraine has received from the US in the past year and a half.[emphasis mine] Since the beginning of Russia’s offensive, the US Congress has approved military and economic assistance to Ukraine amounting to over $70 billion – and that’s only counting direct expenses..
“Ukraine needs only one thing… To have someone come to power who won’t steal. Someone who won’t do it himself and won’t allow others to do so. Unfortunately, so far we haven’t been lucky,” [Aleksey Arestovich, former advisor to President Zelensky] said.
Ok, so Arestovich has a motive for trashing the government that used to include him. How about Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. investigative journalist Seymour Hersh? Hersh does not approve of Russia’s entry into the war but he nonetheless published a piece on rampant corruption in Ukraine, “Trading with the Enemy,” back in April.
Zelensky has been buying fuel from Russia, the country with which it, and Washington, are at war, and the Ukrainian president and many in his entourage have been skimming untold millions from the American dollars earmarked for diesel fuel payments. One estimate by analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency put the embezzled funds at $400 million last year, at least; another expert compared the level of corruption in Kiev as approaching that of the Afghan war.
And we’re all familiar with the tale of Hunter Biden’s six figure salary as a director of Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where he played no role other than sitting next to “the big guy.” President Biden was also alleged in chats recovered from Hunter’s infamous laptop to have received 10% of deals made by his son.
“DOD’s inability to adequately track assets risks our military readiness and represents a flagrant disregard for taxpayer funds, even as it receives nearly a trillion dollars annually,” Republican lawmakers wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Liberals will be annoyed with me for quoting a conservative, GOP-aligned media source. Because everything — war, graft, and other corruption — must be viewed through the lens of false dichotomy. If a Republican wins the White House next year, as seems increasingly likely, Democrats will suddenly care (again) about financial malfeasance at the Pentagon and enriching the oligarchs of Ukraine.
Time for those guys to purchase a few more offshore villas before the jig is up.
As the collective West turned its back on a bad actor, Russia turned its back on a grain deal that was supposed to feed the Global South.
Many have commented on — and photoshopped — what is by now an iconic photo from last week’s NATO summit in Vilnius. For example:
This rendition plays on the fact that Ukrainian President Zelensky’s image seems to demand he dress in pseudo Army fatigues at all times, even formal dinners in a European capitol. So, he looks more like the janitor than a power broker. The yellow bucket plays nicely next to Mrs. Zelensky’s blue dress to invoke the ubiquitous flag adopted by liberals in support of the Democratic Party’s signature proxy war. (Said flags are looking rather tattered and faded these days as Ukraine’s spring-no-wait-more-like-summer offensive sputters out with little accomplished.)
President Zelensky was possibly the only person in Vilnius who expected Ukraine to be invited to join NATO. Instead he was rebuffed but told that his real soldiers can keep fighting and dying while the West dials back its financial support and supplies of military equipment. Consolation prize: cluster bombs for Ukraine! These are on the shelf in the U.S. arsenal, mostly because when used they are extremely destructive of both children and public approval.
(Note that Politico’s National Security Daily is brought to you by one of the big dogs of the U.S. military industrial complex, the true winners of the proxy war on Russia via Ukraine.)
President Zelensky lashed out at being snubbed and a UK government official admonished him to show more gratitude for what he’s already received. (President Zelensky has reportedly become immensely wealthy skimming off foreign aid and can easily afford a business suit to wear to these sort of gatherings. His public relations staff no doubt advised against it.)
What was most significant about the NATO summit lay to the east. This surprised no one who has recognized that weakening Russia is merely the prelude to taking on the West’s major competitor, China. Why? “The deepening strategic partnership between the PRC and Russia and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.”
The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values. We remain open to constructive engagement with the PRC, including to build reciprocal transparency, with a view to safeguarding the Alliance’s security interests.
As reported by Shannon Tiezzi in The Diplomat,
NATO leaders called out China for “malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation” and accused Beijing of striving “to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains.” The statement also expressed concern over China’s attempts to “ to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, and strategic materials and supply chains” and “create strategic dependencies.”
Note: the U.S. has relied heavily in recent years on its made-up concept “rules-based international order” which translates to “f**k international law and the UN, the powerful do as they will and the weak submit as they must.”
China was not slow to respond. The Chinese mission to the EU had its spokesperson issue a statement that included the following:
the Communiqué arbitrarily distorts China’s stance and policies, and deliberately smears China. We firmly oppose and reject this accusation..
The trend of the world is surging forward. We urge NATO to go with the trend of the times, listen to the just call of the international community for peace, development and cooperation, correct its misperceptions and policies, and play a constructive role in world peace and stability.
We would like to make it clear to NATO that the Chinese side is firm in its resolve to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests. We firmly oppose NATO’s eastward movement into the Asia-Pacific region and any action that jeopardizes China’s legitimate rights and interests will be met with a resolute response.
Meanwhile, Russia announced it was withdrawing from the cooperative agreement to allow grain shipping through the Black Sea. Intended as a way to mute the effects of the Ukraine war on food supplies in the Global South, instead the deal resulted in Ukraine re-selling the grain to Europe. Russia had warned several times that if the other part of the deal, that of lifting restrictions on their export of food and fertilizer, they would let the agreement expire.
The West can now claim that Russia has abandoned the humanitarian goals of the grain shipping deal. And the heavily propagandized public in NATO nations will eat this analysis up, much like they still cling to the absurd notion that Russia’s entry into Ukraine’s civil war in February 2022 was “unprovoked.”
Some are suggesting that the straw that broke the grain deal’s back was the use of a civilian ship carrying grain to launch drones that blew up the Kerch Strait bridge, injuring a teenager and killing her parents. But actually the cancellation announcement preceded the attack. (Ukraine recently took belated credit for the October 2022 attack on the bridge that links Russia and Crimea, an attack that used a suicide truck bomber rather than underwater drones.)
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed out that NATO players are likely involved, too.
Decisions are made by Ukrainian officials and the military with the direct participation of American and British intelligence agencies and politicians. The U.S. and Britain are in charge of a terrorist state structure.
Meanwhile you may be wondering, who will be the proxy assigned to fight China on behalf of NATO? Taiwan, Japan, and Australia are all in the running. Maybe Hong Kong and New Zealand too? Stay tuned.
A long-awaited documentary on the generational shift in perceptions of Israel by U.S. Jews came to the Maine International Film Festival last night. Seven years in the making, ISRAELISM combines searingly honest interviews with archival material to tell the story of the profound absence of the Palestinian point of view in the training of young Zionists. (Full disclosure: I donated to an early fundraising round for the film, and director Eric Axelman is a childhood friend of one of my kids.)
As he conducts a tour through the occupied West Bank, Baha Hilo of To Be There tells the camera crew, “Jewish Americans would tell me things like, We like you but we don’t like Palestinians. Even though I’m the only Palestinian they know.”
Animations for recalled incidents reminded me of the Israeli film WALTZ WITH BASHIR depicting tormented recollections of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres by a traumatized IDF soldier who participated. Forty years on, this week’s IDF and settler attacks on the Jenin refugee camp will produce the same result: trauma for the Palestinian survivors and for their oppressors. The turning point for young idealists in the IDF who find themselves on the wrong end of a gun is a major theme in both films. And although no one in ISRAELISM uses the term “moral injury” it’s clear that it affects even non-soldiers who witness the brutality of occupation firsthand — in one case, by exiting a Birthright tour funded by older Jews who have made it their life’s work to train kids to be Zionist.
Jewish identity in my lifetime has often focused on issues of justice and equality. When these traditional ethics of Judaism confront apartheid, land and water theft, and violent suppression, it creates friction. Holocaust trauma does not, for many young Jews, justify brutality against the indigenous people of Palestine.
Anchored by the recollections of two young Jews, the film centers Simone Zimmerman and Eitan. We hear Eitan recount why he enlisted in the IDF and how his experiences tormenting Palestinians while “just following orders” turned him against the occupation. We see Zimmerman give details of the indoctrination she experienced in her Jewish day school and summer camps, producing a 10% IDF enlistment rate among her U.S. high school graduating class.
We also see Zimmerman, co-founder of the organization If Not Now, touring the West Bank with Sami Awad of Holy Land Trust. And headlines about how she was hired as Jewish outreach advisor to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and fired only days later for a past social media post critical of Israeli PM Netanyahu.
It’s not the only brush with U.S. presidential politics in the film. Coincidentally, current Green Party candidate Dr. Cornel West appears giving a talk on his views on the spiritual dimensions of Israeli apartheid. (Not incidentally, the pro-Israel views of Democratic primary challengers Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Marianne Williamson have eroded support for both among leftist opinion leaders in the U.S.)
The film succeeds in part because it maintains a sharp focus. It could have widened to include many related topics: why so many politicians and other power brokers in the U.S. are beholden to AIPAC and Israel (cf. Epstein’s black book). The complicity of the corporate media in pushing pro-Israel narratives. The intifadas and ongoing Palestinian resistance could have been covered in more detail. And the film could have addressed the constitutional crisis of the alleged “only democracy in the Middle East” enforcing segregation and ethnic cleansing.
It could have delved into the role of settlers, many of whom are from the U.S., as the opportunistic Zionists who serve as colonizers. One of the most poignant clips in the film is one I’d seen elsewhere: a Palestinian woman confronts a settler saying, “You are stealing my house!” He responds in a U.S. native speaker accent, “And if I don’t steal it, someone else is gonna steal it.” So much for his Jewish ethics.
To my mind Zimmerman gets the last word:
What we’ve been told is the only way that Jews can be safe is if Palestinians are not safe.
The more I learned about that, the more I came to see that as a lie.
This week of rebellion against police brutality in France has the nation reeling and, as of last night, has spread to Switzerland and Belgium — but here’s what the U.S. corporate news feed that came installed on my laptop wants me to think is going on:
But if you can get any real news you know that cities all over France are in flames as protests over the police killing of an unarmed teenage driver spread.
Videos of the encounter show police threatening to shoot 17 year old Nahel S. and then following through. Did they expect the outpouring of rage from France’s permanent underclass of economic migrants, their children, and grandchildren? How much do police worry that French exploitation and vicious repression of its colonies in Algeria will blowback on the domestic scene?
This image from France flips the script on iconic video of police kneeling on George Floyd’s neck long enough to suffocate him, an act which led to a summer of uprisings in Black communities all over the U.S. in 2020.
Here’s the manifesto that two big police unions issued, where they throw down against..the French state?
If you don’t read French, here’s a translation offered by Arnaud Bertrand:
Now that’s enough…
Facing these savage hordes, asking for calm is no longer enough, it must be imposed!
Restoring the republican order and putting the apprehended beyond the capacity to harm should be the only political signals to give.
In the face of such exactions, the police family must stand together.
Our colleagues, like the majority of citizens, can no longer bear the tyranny of these violent minorities.
The time is not for union action, but for combat against these “pests”.
Surrendering, capitulating, and pleasing them by laying down arms are not the solutions in light of the gravity of the situation.
All means must be put in place to restore the rule of law as quickly as possible.
Once restored, we already know that we will relive this mess that we have been enduring for decades.
For these reasons, Alliance Police Nationale and UNSA Police will take their responsibilities and warn the government from now on that at the end, we will be in action and without concrete measures for the legal protection of the Police, an appropriate penal response, significant means provided, the police will judge the extent of the consideration given.
Today the police are in combat because we are at war.
Tomorrow we will be in resistance and the government will have to become aware of it.
Meanwhile, vigilantes joining the side of the police are being welcomed.
Some of the reports — such as vandalism of a Holocaust memorial and the release of zoo animals — suggest to me that instigators are also part of the mix.
This isn’t the first uprising against French colonial violence, nor is it likely to be the last. The colonized are rising up in Palestine against Israel, too. Younger generations living under the constant threat of violence appear to feel their time has come.
Meanwhile, head of state President Macron attended an Elton John concert.
Yesterday was a strange day to be holding a “No War With Russia” banner rather than glued to my news feed. Sixteen of us gathered in Lewiston which is a smaller group than usual; I’m sure the rain was a factor and also perhaps the fact that I have never been to or seen any anti-war activity in a small Maine city dominated by labor and immigration issues.
The Democratic Party long since owned those movements, and this is their proxy war with Russia.
Co-sponsor the Communist Party of Maine had a strong showing making up 1/3 of our group yesterday, many of them younger than most of us old anti-war horses.
We stood at the edge of Veterans Memorial Park which is filled with tanks and warplanes from days gone by. This made our protest even more surreal, at least for me. (And an Army recruiting sign may or may not have gone missing from the busy street where we stood.)
Public reaction was mixed and, as always, interesting. A young African man said “We agree!” from a passing car, while older white ladies nodded and gave thumbs up. A pedestrian who stopped to converse with us said NATO was designed to be the world’s policeman and that U.S. is the only superpower with both Russia and China very weak at this time. Curious about where they were getting their information, I offered to send them a link to my blog.
By the time we had returned home following a friendly but somewhat soggy picnic lunch with some of the protesters, the fizzled coup or perhaps maskirovka psyop (or whatever it was) had concluded.
Wagner Private Military Company is a group of mercenaries that fought really well in Ukraine. But they can’t fight on Russian soil and their leader is a loony guy close to Putin (was his chef, trusted not to poison him) who isn’t even military. He, Prigozhin, apparently became angry when the generals weren’t sending him as much ammo as he wanted. Then, apparently, further infuriated by the directive to sign contracts with the regular Russian military by July 1 or be disbanded (mercenaries and conscripts are barred under Russia’s constitution from fighting on Russian soil, which Donbas is now considered). So he apparently took over a military command center in Rostov and then allegedly marched on Moscow, tricking his troops into participating by claiming they were on a mission ordered by the generals.
Since the whole crisis was averted quickly with the tricked soldiers laying down their arms and Lukashenko of Belarus swooping in to negotiate and lead Prigozhin into exile there, many are seeing this as a fake coup staged to find out who the traitors are.
Others think Westerners like NATO, CIA, etc. had chosen Prigozhin as the next Zelensky and urged him to stage a “Moscow Maidan.” If so, they got very little bang for their buck — but you wouldn’t know that from the gushing headlines in the corporate press claiming civil war in Russia was on. Some who have this opinion think Prigozhin will now destabilize Russia’s ally Belarus from within.
Scott Ritter shared his thoughts mid-coup here; he has just returned from Russia and his views are worth considering.
Really, one needs to return to the infamous 2019 RAND report at times like these. RAND being the think tank for the Pentagon that outlined plans for “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia” five years after the U.S./NATO successful coup in Kyiv. The problem so far is that NATO, not Russia, has been overextended in Ukraine. And yesterday’s unbalancing attempt failed.
Instantly iconic, one of various memes juxtaposing images of two recent sea disasters. A massive effort underway to rescue five billionaires versus nothing for hundreds of migrants, including about 100 children, who were on a boat that capsized in the Mediterranean.
Responses on social media suggest the OceanGate submarine folly is being seen as a “let them eat cake” moment where the uber wealthy thumb their noses at the rest of humanity.
If the current trajectory of planetary ruin for the profits of the few plays out without massive popular uprisings, I will be surprised.
Here’s some of what I’ve seen.
Taxpayer money is being spent to rescue five wealthy fools because of course it is. The military contractors who operate the U.S. government are so wealthy they’re said to be the 1% of the 1%, and the OceanGate guys are their own.
The astounding parallels between the Titanic shipwreck — where the wealthy survived and the workers, by and large, did not — keep coming. Chief among them is hubris. Both the massive ocean liner and the makeshift submarine looking for its wreckage were described by their creators as “unsinkable.” But ramming into an iceberg quickly took out one while running a deep sea operation from an outdated game control device appears to have doomed the other.
Now we learn that the CEO of OceanGate is married to a descendent of two of the wealthy passengers on the Titanic. (Who was the pilot in the Titan with the four other men he doomed.)
One of the things that makes me wonder if we’re at the “let them eat cake” moment is the way that orcas — who have already been teaching each other to attack yachts by deliberately destroying the rudders — quickly became heroes.
So, it was a short step from knowing orcas are attacking yachts to imagining orcas attacking the submarine.
This tweet refers to banging sounds that were detected yesterday during the search for Titan.
(I also saw the abovementioned image on Twitter but I neglected to take a screenshot at the time.)
Maybe class warfare will supplant culture wars even in the heavily propagandized West?
Oops, maybe not.
End note: for those who find it unseemly to joke about the self-inflicted death of billionaires, you could use the search term Blink-182 (the name of a band) to see how one of their family members has been consoling himself during the search.
I’ve been hoping to find a digest of reliable information and analysis about U.S./NATO war plans aimed at China. Here is my second attempt, an imitation of my friend JK’s valiant efforts on Ukraine news (her mini-digest “contains information you are not likely to read/hear in the Western/U.S. media.” If you want to get on her list, message me.)
A lot has happened since my first attempt back in February; but, since I don’t read or speak either dialect of Chinese (or Japanese or Korean), I feel ill-qualified to edit news from China. Maybe someone among the readers here will consider taking this on?
Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister, Carlos Fernández de Cossío Domínguez, called the [Wall Street Journal] reports “totally mendacious and unfounded… Cuba rejects all foreign military presence in Latin America, including the many U.S. bases and troops” and the U.S. occupation of Guantanamo.
NATO is planning to open a liaison office in Japan (likely hosted at Yokota Air Base), the first of its kind in Asia. The station will allow the military alliance to conduct periodic consultations with Japan and key partners in the region such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand as China emerges as ‘a new challenge’
passage of the Inflation Reduction and CHIPS Acts made tangible the ‘deep integration of domestic policy and foreign policy’. Restrictions on the export of crucial AI and semiconductor components to China.. confirmed the drive to monopolize ‘chokepoint’ or ‘stranglehold’ technologies, a veritable declaration of economic war. ‘These actions’, a CSIS analysis concluded, ‘demonstrate an unprecedented degree of US government intervention to not only preserve chokepoint control but also begin a new US policy of actively strangling large segments of the Chinese technology industry – strangling with an intent to kill.’
Conor Gallagher, Naked Capitalism (link is to Popular Resistance share), June 14, 2023
Change is coming to the World Bank.. It’s difficult to predict exactly how the new mission will play out, but one thing is clear: the efforts are being driven by the desire to counter/thwart Beijing’s expanding global influence.. And it looks like the reforms will go hand in hand with pushing the debunked narrative that Chinese lending is a debt trap while also trying to relegate China to the backseat in the growing number of distressed countries.
(Note from LS: Since China kicked butt on accomplishing the “eradicate poverty” goal previously expressed as the World Bank’s mission, PR spin is sorely needed.)
U.S. Think Tank Land – inebriated by their self-created aura of power – always telegraphs in advance what they’re up to. That was the case with Project 9/11 (“We need a new Pearl Harbor”). That was the case with the RAND report on over-extending and unbalancing Russia. And now that’s the case with the incoming American War on BRICS as outlined by the chairman of the New York-based Eurasia Group.
Taiwan’s foreign minister said last week that the US and Taiwan are in talks on the possibility of the island being brought under Washington’s nuclear umbrella, a step that would make a catastrophic war between the US and China much more likely.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu made the comments before Taiwan’s parliament
As part of their strategic partnership agreement for 2021, China reportedly pledged a $400 billion investment in Iran over the next 25 years, while Pakistan hosts the flagship project of the BRI, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It is in this complex security context that the first-ever trilateral anti-terrorist parley between China, Iran, and Pakistan took place last week.
Alan Patience, Pearls & Irritations, June 17, 2023
AUKUS is becoming a rallying point for those who are fed up with the old politics. Local [Australian Labor Party] branches.. are rising up to condemn the Albanese government’s morally flawed commitment to the project. Indeed that commitment is likely to become counterproductive for the government at the next election.
(Note from LS: AUKUS is a military alliance to threaten China — Australia’s largest trading partner — and its provision to station nuclear submarines in Australia is a violation of that nation’s constitution.)
There is no scientific, legal or moral justification for Japan to deliberately contaminate our shared and common marine environment. And concerned citizens, scientists, maritime lawyers, the fishing communities across the Asia-Pacific and the world’s leading oceanography universities and institutes have spread public awareness about the nuclear dangers, something that has rarely been done before.
Rachel Shilke, Breaking News Reporter, Washington Examiner, June 20, 2023
China launched its Tiangong space station in 2022, working as the sole operator and user. Tiangong was created after China was excluded from the [International Space Station], largely because of the U.S.’s reservations over Chinese space programs and their ties to the [People’s Liberation Army].
(Note from LS: “Breaking news” from mainstream media alleges U.S. is “locked in battle” with China for space dominance, but “U.S. remains superior.” Delusional thinking by the declining empire.)
Want to know more about how space figures into plans for war on China?
More details and link to register for a July 15 Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space webinar here. (Note that the NY time should read EDT not EST.)
It’s hard to argue with the view that NATO is a lot better at winning narrative competitions than it is at winning wars. From “How Nato seduced the European Left” by Lily Lynch on Unherd:
Previously, in the Nordic countries, Atlanticists have had to sell war and militarism to largely pacifist publics. This was achieved in part by presenting Nato not as a rapacious, pro-war military alliance, but as an enlightened, “progressive” peace alliance.
Fast forward to last week when a self-styled “peace summit” in Vienna produced the absurd statement shared above, eliciting the following statement from participant Magyar Békekör:
From the final text of the declaration issued by the International Peace Bureau, which emerged from obscurity, even the passage in the original draft, which mentioned NATO’s “co-responsibility”, was omitted.
In their closing statement, the organizers of the conference demand an immediate ceasefire and negotiations to end the war in Ukraine. Civilian diplomatic intervention is envisaged at their countries’ embassies, including the Russian one, while condemning Russia.
The group organizing the peace conference did not demand the opinion of the participants in approving the final declaration, nor did they initiate an open discussion about it. At the end of the “peace summit” it was read aloud, as if meeting with everyone’s agreement. [emphasis mine]
Manufacturing consent for an ongoing war of choice by the U.S./NATO in Ukraine is not peace work, despite window dressing provided by the presence of luminaries of the Democratic Party-aligned “peace” movement in the U.S. like Joseph Gerson and Medea Benjamin.
Lynch, like many, sees the NATO war on the former Yugoslavia as a turning point.
Kosovo changed everything. In 1999 — the 50th anniversary of Nato’s founding — the alliance began what academic Merje Kuus has called a “discursive metamorphosis”. From the mere defensive alliance it was during the Cold War, it was becoming an active military compact concerned with spreading and defending values such as human rights, democracy, peace, and freedom well beyond the borders of its member states. The 78-day Nato bombing of what remained of Yugoslavia, ostensibly to halt war crimes committed by Serbian security forces in Kosovo, would forever transform the German Greens.
I remember a principal from a military family urging me to read a tome on “Responsibility to Protect” when he was my supervisor and I was teaching about genocides, around 2005. I thought the notion absurd at the time and quite possibly dangerous.
Events in the decades since have shown my fear was not misplaced.
As some have argued persuasively, NATO’s purpose is not to win wars but to generate profits for uber wealthy military-industrial titans that own and operate the U.S. government.
So what looks like failure to the general public e.g.
looks like success to them e.g.
Peek into the stock portfolios of Congress or the Supreme Court and you’ll see a built in incentive to keep pushing wars and never mind about winning, or even ending, them.
It gets worse. Lynch on new strategies to prey on younger people:
In February, Nato held its first ever gaming event. A young employee of the alliance joined popular Twitch streamer ZeRoyalViking to play Among Us and casually chat about the danger disinformation poses to democracy.* With them was a mountaineer influencer and environmental activist named Caroline Gleich. As their astronaut avatars navigated a cartoon spaceship, they spoke about Nato in glowing terms. By the event’s end, the stream had turned into a recruitment effort: the alliance employee talked about the perks of his job and encouraged viewers to check the Nato website for employment opportunities in fields such as graphic design and video editing.
I’ve written before about the hollowing out of major “peace” organizations here in the U.S., and about the role of major “environmental” organizations in maintaining consent for the Pentagon’s climate crimes.
This is the result of designating wars as Republican or Democratic Party projects: liberals hate the former while cheerleading for the latter.
I’m part of a small group opposed to all of the U.S./NATO’s many wars — no matter what letter happens to be after the name of the person currently in the White House.
*My note: The “dangers of disinformation” is a signature trope of the DNC-social media-corporate media-narrative- management complex, which others have covered in depth here and here.
Part of building a future of peace for our children is providing them with an education in peacemaking. This can take different forms, occurring both inside and outside of school. It becomes especially important in times of hot wars in an age when peace conferences are canceled because they’re…calling for peace.
A unique event in Maine last week gave me an opportunity to bring a child who is a little too young to walk in a long parade. School-age Samantha Smith was being remembered for her role in bringing about dialogue over preventing nuclear war between the U.S. and the USSR. Some of us know of her work because we’ve taught about it or we’re aware of the Samantha Smith Challenge run by Americans Who Tell The Truth. Now, Maine has named a road after her in the hope that young people will continue to find out what she did and why: she talked to and even visited the “enemy”!
My friend Regis Tremblay, a former Mainer who now lives in Yalta, has told me how widely known and popular Samantha Smith still is, many decades later, in Russia. So when I told him I’d gone to the road dedication ceremony, he wanted to talk to me about it. Here’s the video he made:
(If you’re boycotting YouTube for destroying thousands of videos Regis and other activists have previously shared there, you can also see this interview on Rumble or Bitchute.)
Local tv coverage of the road dedication can be viewed here and here.
See that smile? That’s the shit eating grin of a man who has become wealthy peddling weapons to the U.S. taxpayer. Does going from the board of Raytheon to heading up the Pentagon’s decisions to purchase Raytheon products seem like a conflict of interest? Lloyd Austin says it’s not. (Cue the soundtrack playing in my head since I saw this photo.)
In Austin’s extensive and lucrative catalog of lies we also find that the U.S. envisions a “free, open and secure Indo-Pacific.” He won’t say but we know the U.S. will accomplish this via ongoing coercion and bullying of the Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand…there are more, but you get the idea.
China’s so-called “aggression” toward Taiwan, one of its provinces that the fading U.S. empire has decided to use as the proxy to make war on its biggest economic competitor, is trumpeted by corporate press lackeys like AP constantly now. This collusion between the liars in office and the liars in media means the general public hears such false messages repeatedly and almost nothing to counter them.
I don’t know how much David Rising of the AP gets paid to help pull the wool over your eyes, but he’s earning it by simply repeating nonsense like this from Lloyd Austin: the war in Ukraine “serves to underline how dangerous the world would be if big countries were able to ‘just invade their peaceful neighbors with impunity.'”
Would be? How about is? Big country U.S. has invaded 800+ spots around the globe with their military bases, and has further attacked and occupied scores of nations.
Here’s one way to look at it:
Almost everything President Biden has said about Ukraine has turned out not to be true, but he wasn’t lying when he said that the Nord Stream 2 would never open. But he’s kind of dingy now and as such a much less convincing liar than the architects of World War 3 who he fronts for.
Here’s another major player, one whose lies are regularly reported by government stenographer Politico:
It was difficult to find a picture of Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor, “smiling.”
For gender equity, here are a couple of the smiling liars helping make our warmongering machine look woke.
Victoria Nuland straddles many administrations, D and R, and was smiling when she handed out cookies to coup supporters in Ukraine in 2014 — but I like this picture of her better. Recently she’s been “helping” Pakistan during their lawfare soft coup of hugely popular PM Imran Khan, and “helping” Sudan.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre‘s entire job is managing lies with a straight, if not smiling, face. Lies like: America is helping Ukraine fight for its democracy. With Ukraine as the most corrupt and arguably least democratic nation in Europe, it takes a lot of poise and keeping one’s eye on the ball of future lucrative employment to offer up this gross canard without LOL.
But here’s the thing: nobody will be laughing once we’ve been lied into a nuclear WW3.
With even the policy wonks of the U.S. empire admitting that their collective reputation and influence on “the rest of the world” are in tatters, it’s time for a new world order geography quiz. Multipolarity, here we come!
Can you name the outlined countries on these maps? Answers are at the end with embedded links to recent news of their moves toward independence from U.S. control (or, in one case, flouting public opinion to make a “defense” agreement with the empire).
Map A – recently withdrew from US-led ‘Combined Maritime Forces’ in the Persian Gulf
Map B – U.S. officials claim it is about to be brought under the hegemon’s “nuclear umbrella”
Map C – NATO is on the ground stoking sectarian violence here and appears to be preparing to bomb this nation — again
Map D – university students nationwide staged protests demanding their prime minister not sign a “Defense Cooperation Agreement” with the U.S. before public review occurred (he signed it anyway)
Map E – African National Congress General Secretary Fikile Mbalula hails from this nation; he recently scolded a BBC reporter about British war crimes when criticized for not sanctioning Russia as demanded by the U.S.
Map F – nation with a long coastline on the eponymous Persian Gulf, it recently achieved rapprochement with rival Saudi Arabia in an agreement brokered by China
Map G – this nation’s president sent a letter to President Biden this month complaining that, “the U.S. government, specifically through USAID, has for some time been financing organisations openly against the legal and legitimate government I represent”
Map H – a war-torn nation that recently rejoined the Arab League after a long absence
Map I – agreed with visiting Iranian President to no longer use the U.S. dollar for trade between the two nations
(And in case you missed my first two geography quizzes, you can find them here and here.)
My garden is blooming red, white, and blue for Memorial Day though the red is poppies, a symbol reminiscent of the blood soaked fields of Europe after WWI. The paperwhites remind me of my grandmother who would force bulbs to bloom indoors each year to get through mud season, and they also remind me of the older version of Memorial Day which was more memorial in general and less of a frenzy of patriotism. I now know the holiday originated from ceremonies a Black community held to remember fallen soldiers after the civil war that seems to have involved more flowers than flags.
The blue is provided by forget-me-nots and who could forget the people once near and dear to us now departed?
It is the living dead, the veterans struggling with moral injury, who say year after year how hard this day is for them. The more unjust our imperial wars seem, the fewer people are willing to participate (about 9% these day), and the harder the narrative machine grinds out flags and gushy rhetoric thanking veterans who often don’t wish to be thanked.
Moral injury is often misdiagnosed as PTSD, which is a real injury from wars also but different being about fight-or-flight alarms your brain can’t turn off. Moral injury is about the images burned into your memory of innocents, often children, suffering from the actions of your side who you can no longer see as the good guys. It’s about forgiving yourself for the unforgivable, and on top of it putting up with a culture that insists on glorifying the most shameful episodes of your life.
Cannon fodder is, by definition, of little interest to the empire managers who use bodies to further their business ambitions.
Each year I put flowers on my family gravesite in a nearby town. Not buried there is my maternal grandfather, a conscript sent into Nagasaki after the nuclear bombing there. Not an affluent man, he refused his G.I. benefits on the grounds that he didn’t want anything from a government capable of that level of evil.
My other grandfather is buried nearby. He is the one who told his son who was keen to enlist to fight communism in Korea, Don’t believe them when they say the next war is a good one. There is no such thing. Of course my father went anyway but missed seeing combat, and he passed his father’s observation down through the generations. No one has enlisted since.
This does not stop the local veterans organization from putting a flag in a veteran medallion holder on my younger brother’s grave each year. Likely they’re confusing him with our grandfather due to sharing a first name. I’ve asked them to stop but every year they don’t, and every year I remove all the flags from my ancestors and sibling’s graves.
I even remove the flag from my grandfather’s grandfather’s grave, a veteran of the civil war who shot himself, albeit years later. I’m the only one keeping up the old family graves at this point, so I figure it’s my call.
I put out pots of geraniums and those remind me of my grandmother, too. A white lilac the family planted for my mother is in bloom for Memorial Day, fragrant and ephemeral as life. I’ll march with the peace contingent in a parade tomorrow that required legal action to allow any peace messages at all.
The U.S. as a whole seems to be suffering from moral injury as we destroy country after country in our lust for imperial spoils. Diseases of despair like suicide, depression, and substance use disorders including death by overdose continue to climb. No amount of glorious flag waving changes any of that.
You meet the nicest people when you engage in peace building work. In fact, that’s how I met my husband twenty years ago, and we’re still at it.
Luke is a new friend while Regis and I have known each other for years. I appreciated this opportunity to talk about how the U.S. public perceives the U.S./NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine based on where they seek information, and how we’re bringing our messages of dissent to the general public on Saturdays in Maine.
Interested in learning more about anti-nuclear war ambassador Samantha Smith and her diplomacy with the U.S.S.R.? Check out her page and the educational project associated with her memory on the website Americans Who Tell The Truth.
When I was a kid, police knocked on my door in Los Angeles responding to a complaint by neighbors that I had attacked their son. I explained that the older boy had been throwing rocks under my skates repeatedly despite my demands that he stop. After my busy mother declined to intervene, I grabbed a curtain rod from my garage to make him stop. The police accepted my self-defense argument and went away.
The rock throwing stopped after that, for good.
My toddler grandson started at a new day care recently. The care provider told us that any time a child in her care feels threatened by another child coming too close or trying to grab a toy they’re playing with, she teaches the child to say “SPACE!” accompanied by an outstretched, talk-to-the-hand gesture. “It’s not a question,” she explained. “It’s a demand, and it needs to be respected.”
It seems to me, and to the U.S. intelligence veterans listed below their recent full page ad in the New York Times, that the Russian Federation has been demanding “SPACE!” with regards to NATO since the fall of the Soviet Union. In other words, for decades.
Alice Slater’s cogent response to the recent G7 summit held in Hiroshima as an ominous warning of continued U.S. nuclear belligerence included this reminder:
U.S. allies in nuclear crime include five NATO countries with U.S. nuclear bombs on their territory—Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Turkey—and Japan of all nations, ironically, under its nuclear umbrella which is abandoning its Peace Constitution under US pressure and will become a NATO affiliate instead of urging that all the G7 nations join the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which they have all boycotted and rejected. [emphasis mine]
“The US leads the way in dishonoring its Non-Proliferation Treaty obligation for “good faith efforts” for nuclear disarmament and has never acted in “good faith”.
China is now also having rocks thrown under its skates in Taiwan and the South China Sea. Any response it makes beyond demanding “SPACE!” will be misrepresented in the corporate press most in the U.S. rely on, as a method of building the case for a proxy war on the Belt and Road Initiative leader now commanding the world’s economy.
The U.S. could not subdue insurgents in Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, but pretends it can win against military powers like Russia and China.
Nuclear weapons are likely to be the only way the U.S. could prevail over a Russia-China alliance currently supported by most of the Global South.
And the G7 met in nuclear victim city Hiroshima to remind us, not so subtly, of that grim fact.
Yesterday in Belfast, Maine around 40 peacebuilders came together at a big intersection on Route 1. Our statewide coalition has now brought anti war, pro peace messaging monthly to seven different locations over the course of the costly NATO war against Russia in Ukraine:
I admit that I went grumbling as I wanted a day at home, but I smiled all the way back after standing with several friends I hadn’t seen in a while. And, as with each of these monthly events, I met new friends, most on the younger side; one had just arrived from Florida and came looking for kindred spirits. I felt fortunate, indeed, to be part of the beautiful “conscience of the community” (and it didn’t start to rain until we were almost home).
Our circle round in conclusion produced a few common themes: the role of the military-industrial profiteers in stoking endless wars, and the suffering of people in war zones and war economies where basic needs go unmet. Bring our war dollars home!
One person said that they and their partner are creating a new family and they worry about their child’s future with the threat of nuclear war hanging overhead.
One person was brought to tears telling of the persistent refusal of their church’s congregation to follow its own professed beliefs and criticize war making. Frustrated Christians have been a consistent presence at our protests, with individuals from various denominations expressing some version of, “I came here so that I wouldn’t feel so alone in my opposition to this war.”
One person noted that Flora, Earth Goddess, had joined us, inspired by Bread and Puppet. Her presence warmed the hearts of many who have stood for peace with her over the years.
One person brought the portable megaphone that allows us to include everyone’s voice in our closing circle. Much appreciated!
One person responded to the prompt, Tell us why you’re here, with “Where else would I be?”
Amen to that!
These groups are now co-sponsors of our series of protests: Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Natural Guard, Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick, Communist Party of Maine, Party of Socialism & Liberation Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST), People’s Party of Maine, and Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine.
Peace in Ukraine – No weapons, no money for the Ukraine War
Abolish NATO – End U.S. militarism & sanctions!
Fund people’s needs, not the war machine!
No war with China!
Protect Earth’s environment from the deadly insult of war!
End U.S. aid to racist apartheid Israel!
Fight racism & bigotry not war!
U.S. hands off Haiti!
Protest schedule for summer
Saturday June 24 at 1:30pm Lewiston (Veterans Memorial Park, stand by the bridge)
With German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock cheerleading the proxy war in Ukraine and telling reporters that Russian President Vladimir Putin had better make a 360 degree turn or else, many of us wonder what happened to turn Green Party members in Europe toward supporting NATO’s wars. Now that I’ve read this rich memoir by Diana Johnstone, former press secretary for the Green Group in the European Parliament that preceded the EU, I can see how it happened. And probably why.
Johnstone’s story starts long before the current three party coalition government took power in Germany. When she found herself a divorced single mother in an era when the history department of her state university declared that they didn’t “give teaching positions to women,” she switched disciplines, moved to France, and still found time to join the vibrant expatriate antiwar movement of the Vietnam era. A self-described “timid militant,” Johnstone found herself studying French literature for a Ph.D. and French colonialism in “Indochina” for her own edification.
It wasn’t long before she found her true path: journalism. Reflecting on the conditions she describes for reporters in the mid 20th century compared with today’s harsh, even fatal consequences for authentic reporting shows how profoundly things have changed. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh once received a Pulitzer prize and was published in major outlets eager to share his exposé of events like the My Lai massacre coverup. He’s now spurned by his former publishers and must self-publish in order to report on “How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline.” Johnstone’s long career straddled this divide.
She identifies the moment when the Green Group in Europe lost its soul as occurring in 1995 during NATO’s war to break up the former Yugoslavia. “Something grave..happened to the Greens. They..allowed mass media choice of star personalities to determine a major policy issue.” As mainstream media today continues its shift toward infotainment requiring colorful personalities to cover in lieu of challenging government officials, her experiences seem prescient. A legion of photogenic performers like Foreign Minister Baerbock continue to entertain while the real decisions affecting the fate of the world are made in secret, deep behind the façade of elected personalities.
A quote from Albert Einstein serves as Johnston’s epigram and the source of her title: “As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.” Today, the circumference of darkness is ever widening; in Eurasia with proliferating nuclear weapons, and globally as war moves into outer space, darkness threatens to engulf us.
Two men in my family gave the moms carte blanche to do whatever we wanted to do this morning. So, here goes!
I was tempted to construct this blog post as a series of screenshots from articles recently remembered by the web browser on my phone. It would look something like this:
Mother’s Day in the U.S. has me thinking of the mothers and grandmothers of the children in Gaza targeted by Israeli bombing last week. The kids had to die because their elders are Palestinian resistance leaders, according to Israel.
This hilarious block of Matt Taibbi’s article on censorship — allegedly on the grounds that the article was “hate speech” — has since been lifted following an outcry by Taibbi’s readers.
Mary Beth Sullivan’s excellent letter to the editor is behind a paywall at the Portland Press Herald so here’s a photo from the paper copy:
I write this blog to keep my head from exploding as I consider the news of the day.
The item below has my head continuously exploding as I try to process the marriage of artificial “intelligence” to East German Stasi-style culture where every person is an informer. This coupling is sure to produce multiple Frankenstein’s monsters, but this particular example of our corporate overlords stoking civil war to stave off the revolution we so badly need is chilling to say the least.
As Matt Taibbi and Walter Kirn discuss, the Department of Homeland Security created in the wake of 9/11 now turns its attention to so-called domestic terrorists. In other words, your tax dollars are being used to fund a program that will train your neighbors and their kids to inform on you lest you become a threat to domestic tranquility. Or what’s left of tranquility in a land where there is a mass shooting on average every two weeks, where more people of color are incarcerated than anywhere else on the planet, and where industrial and military pollution render human life tenuous.
After they discuss the so-called Resilience Project and the “DHS OTVTP Choose Your Own Adventure Online” for inter-American spying, Taibbi and Kirn go on to have a literary discussion about a short story. Because they suspect that very soon we will be constrained in discussing political realities and current events, and we’ll have to do so mainly via metaphor.
If this reminds you of what you were taught about life in Soviet Russia, it should. If this doesn’t remind you of what you’re discovering about tech platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and reddit colluding with the U.S. government to surveil and censor users, it should.
A final thought. Am I the only one who thinks the name “substack” for the self-publishing platform I’ve been reading and just began publishing on is reminiscent of the Soviet-era term samizdat?
Noam Chomsky famously called the U.S. population the most propagandized people in history, and one has only to read the comments on this local report of our Saturday antiwar protest to feel this truth. Of course as my good friend Bruce Gagnon pointed out in his post about our protest, the military employs numerous keyboard warriors tasked with leaving derogatory comments on any news of dissent from the Pentagon’s warmongering. (You can thank President Obama for making it legal for U.S. taxpayers to fund our own propaganda. Government-funded propaganda aimed at audiences in other countries is de rigueur, and I don’t want to pay for that, either.)
The reporter interviewed several of us and while I spoke with her at length, I’m thrilled that she chose to quote something I often say about protesting:
“My target audience is the kid in the back seat who asks his parents what we’re doing,” she said. “The young person has seen dissent is possible.”
Our gathering of 40 or so people and dogs again covered the gamut of political opinions but we are united in our objection to sending even one more dollar for the war in Ukraine. Many of us also object to NATO belligerence and the ramping up of aggression aimed at China.
Longtime peace activist and defender of marine life Russell Wray was interviewed as having come the farthest to stand at Maine’s busiest intersection in Portland.
“We’re basically involved in a proxy war with Russia. The risk of getting into actual war with Russia is very high, and that could escalate to nuclear war,” Wray said. “If we get into a war with Russia, that’s it. We have to do what we can to try to prevent this from happening. A war with Russia could end life on this planet.”
But based on our broad demands we saw and heard many dissenting views including that National Press Freedom Day was a farce in the U.S. as the name Julian Assange can pass no government official’s lips. He’s only the most prominent journalist of his generation, certainly the one with the biggest impact on history for revealing the war crimes of the U.S. in Iraq (some, ironically, that targeted journalists).
Portland residents Bill and Ursula Slavick supported the demand that the U.S. taxpayer stops funding apartheid Israel’s brutal war crimes against the Palestinian people.
Tom Nadolski of Brunswick had NO WAR, NO NATO on one side of his sign and the other side referred to the now iconic (but heavily suppressed) report by Pulitzer prize winner Seymour Hersh,”How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline.” I also liked Tom’s quote in the paper a lot (and I appreciated that the reporter talked to some of the younger people among us oldsters who’ve been protesting U.S. lies and wars of aggression since Vietnam).
“I don’t want war. I have a couple of nephews I’d like to see become teenagers,” he said. “I think our billions of dollars could be spent in a more productive way than killing people.”
Up next in our protest series in Maine, we’ll bring our messages to some additional locations:
Saturday May 20 at 1pm in Belfast (route 1 near Hannaford)
Saturday June 24 at 1:30pm in Lewiston-Auburn (Bernard Lown Peace Bridge)
exact date in summer TBD in Ellsworth (Union River Bridge)
Peace in Ukraine – No weapons, no money for the Ukraine War
Abolish NATO – End U.S. militarism & sanctions!
Fund people’s needs, not the war machine!
No war with China!
Protect Earth’s environment from the deadly insult of war!
Just more post about the entertaining parallels between crumbling empires suggested in Nights of Plague by Orhan Pamuk and then I’ll get off this jag I’m on.
When the real deciders are hidden behind multiple layers of ostensible rulers, those playing the roles can be as buffoonish as you like. In fact, the more buffoonish the better! Who doesn’t get distracted by a Punch & Judy show with puppets bashing each other?
Part of the comedy in Pamuk’s book is how rapidly the “head of state” can turn over without really affecting much. When the main requirement of the job is telling lies as if they were plausible, the persons doing the job are interchangeable. Weaselly bureaucrat, revolutionary hero, or princess of the blood all fit the purpose.
In the declining days of the U.S. empire, the homeland and its vassals have had some hugely entertaining characters inhabiting the role of decider. Also some sadder acts like an 80 year old showing signs of dementia having others announce for him that he’ll seek a second term.
In the clown car:
Wants to be top clown again after refusing to admit to losing his last election. Almost does not need clown makeup to look clownish. Brought clowning to social media in a big way.
Sad clown who wanders aimlessly and can’t do press conferences. And a VP clown who can’t run herself because her shtick is hilarious word salads. How could this slapstick duo be in charge of the nuclear hot button that blows up the whole world?
Allegedly a Green, the German minister for foreign affairs is a blurter who comes up with some real doozies. She reminded the EU that they’re not at war with each other they’re at war with Russia, and later told reporters that Russia’s president had better do a 360° turn in Ukraine or else face the consequences. Twice.
The UK prime minister predicted to have a shorter shelf life than a head of lettuce (true at 44 days) who forgot to use her encrypted cell phone to tell her boss in the U.S., “It’s done,” after the Nord Stream pipeline explosion.
These were the three most popular Halloween costumes in Ireland in 2019, according to the Irish Times. It’s enough to give a person coulrophobia (fear of clowns).
What becomes of an empire as it sinks into a depraved desire to expand and, ultimately, survive at any cost? This is the question on my mind since I finished Orhan Pamuk’s tome Nights of Plague which some reviewers called a work in three genres: historical novel, murder mystery, and political allegory.
Pamuk lives and writes in Türkiye, rump of the once powerful Ottoman Empire. He’s often in trouble with his government for not depicting their antecedents splendidly enough — as for instance when he acknowledged the Armenian genocide and was placed under house arrest as a result. This time he’s accused of mocking Atatürk, the founder of modern Türkiye. But the events of his new novel, set as the Ottoman Empire sputters out, are as imaginary as its physical setting: an island besieged by bubonic plague.
It was impossible for me to read this book without noticing the many parallels to my own failing empire.
When spying and surveillance become the way to hold on to power long after rulers have lost the confidence of the ruled, I think of the U.S. Not only informers but technology-based surveillance of every phone call (thank you, Edward Snowden), every email (no thank you, Google), and every social media post is the fuel our sputtering empire runs on. We’ve now seen firsthand evidence that Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms are deeply infested by U.S. alphabet agencies like the CIA, FBI, and NSA — one might even say, controlled by them.
Fake news? Dying empires specialize in it. The inability to reflect on blunders and correct course is baked in to imperial hubris. This guarantees more mistakes and the kind of poor decisions that hasten one’s demise. For example, a series of failed wars in the Middle East and 800+ military outposts in other nations that are economically, morally, and environmentally unsustainable. Extreme weather events batter us while the empire continues pumping greenhouse gasses out at an alarming rate to maintain its self-appointed dominance. And funding failed rocket launches that trash the environment while government entities like the FAA look away.
Inability to manage public health in an atmosphere of suspicion and deliberate misinformation by governments who must proclaim their glory (whether D or R flavored) characterizes our day. When almost no one trusts government at all levels, the only way to get people to cooperate with it is through fear and intimidation. These methods are notoriously bad at promoting healthy outcomes.
Which brings us to torture.
A central conflict is Pamuk’s book is the tension between methods of solving a crime such as murder. The Ottoman method is to decide who the culprits are, then torture them until they confess. The Sherlock Holmes method (the reigning sultan is a fan) is to use deductive reasoning to discover the culprits. Our modern Turkish novelist paints these as “East” versus “West” and indeed this lens was prevalent at the turn of the 20th Century. But is that still accurate today?
Who bombed the Nord Stream pipeline? Only examine the obfuscation and determination not to know the answer to see what “the West” has come to.
Where did SARS-CoV-2 come from? Many have concluded based on the evidence that it was invented in a lab especially its highly significant gain-of-function ability to be spread via aerosols. The U.S. government in particular has distinguished itself in spreading false information and in punishing those who offer a counter narrative, or even those who wonder aloud if the official narrative is plausible.
Julian Assange is the most visible victim of torture inflicted for telling the truth about U.S. war crimes. His torment is meant as a warning to us all: practice actual journalism and prepare to forfeit your freedom, your health, even your life. As the torturers signal their false respect for press freedom and journalists.
Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo stand as exemplars of torture regimes that even an Ottoman sultan would admire. But once instilling fear in others reaches the level of terrorizing, the information gained is practically worthless. The cruelty of extraordinary rendition as a fishing expedition for possible future informants and infiltrators is a source of pride for the twisted individuals responsible.
Plausible deniability is also as U.S.ian today as it was once Ottoman. Pamuk’s sultan gets rid of political enemies by making sure they’re murdered far away from the capitol by agents whose actions cannot be traced back to the head of state. Similarly, the U.S./NATO proxy war on Russia via Ukraine has been a huge disinformation success. My venal senator Susan Collins just sent me email claiming we’re there to defend democracy (in one of the least democratic of European nations) and to respond to Russia’s “unprovoked” invasion of the Donbas region.
But sure let’s keep claiming that Russia is the one shelling the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia that they’ve controlled for a year now. By refusing to see the truth that Ukraine is doing the shelling (with U.S. or NATO equipment), we also refuse to understand how to stave off a possible meltdown.
Our hands are tied by our own lies.
When the application of force is seen as the solution to any and all problems, your society is bound to fail. Because many problems — like pandemics — cannot be solved by force. Education, persuasion, and confidence that leaders can make tough but beneficial public health decisions are the stuff of public health management. In their absence, the infection rages on.
I’m devouring the new Orhan Pamuk book Nights of Plague, an historical novel about an imaginary island where plague management challenges the decaying Ottoman Empire. He’s one of my favorite authors on the power of ideas in contradiction to facts on the ground, and he always makes me laugh as when the nonstop spying of the island’s mythical Department of Scrutinia is headed by a Chief Scrutineer.
Just yesterday I read that a big hospital in the SF Bay Area reinstated a mask mandate due to a surge of covid cases there, and that an average of ten people are still dying of covid in California every day.
Cue the chorus of covid is a hoax, people masking are sheep easily led, more people were injured by the covid vax than saved by it, and so on. The divisiveness of the U.S. empire’s response to this pandemic is a subject I’ve written about before. Originating in a lab, it’s not the first but only the most novel of pathogens weaponized by those who would wield power over restive populations. It turns out that the purpose is murky: smear China via its Wuhan lab? Divide and conquer the U.S. masses seething for change that never comes? Or hasten the information control that kicked off with the post 9/11 Patriot Act and may be cemented into place by claiming free speech can be “weaponized” against the ruling class?
Anyone who joined the Empire’s 65 year old quarantine establishment would quickly realize that their first and most important duty to the Sultan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not so much to stop outbreaks of cholera, as to stop the news of those outbreaks from spreading.
Which reminds me that I was busy with family and did not manage an Earth Day post bemoaning the deadly assault of the empire of capitalism on climate and life. Politically motivated information management abounds in this arena, too, where a billionaire’s rocket uses taxpayer funding to crash and burn on liftoff, allegedly because key safety equipment was deemed too costly by the billionaire himself. Even if Starship had not exploded over the Gulf of Mexico its effect on both climate and coastal environs would have been terrible. All rocket launches, now proliferating rapidly, are terrible for the environment. So space is constantly sold to kids as hooray for science, technology, engineering and math.
Meanwhile, liberal rags like Common Dreams provide sophisticated information management around military harm to the environment, well-documented but largely unaddressed as the U.S. military budget continues to metastasize (Space Force requested a 100% increase in its annual budget to pollute and militarize outer space). I noticed and disliked the subtle bias of CD’s Earth Day article with the ironic headline: “Can you fight for climate justice without being antiwar?” No, you cannot — as some of us have been pointing out for years.
But the author used tried and true grammatical sleight of hand to shield some culprits while vilifying others. The U.S. and NATO conspired over the biggest release of methane, the worst of the greenhouse gases, into the Baltic Sea off Denmark, but that act of war on the environment just happened in the passive voice: “the sabotage of the underwater Nord Stream pipelines.” Ditto “the shelling of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, particularly the Zaporizhzhia plant” as if the shelling had mysterious origins rather than emanating from Ukraine.
The U.S. public has been told in both cases via its subservient corporate press that “Russia did it.” That is, destroy its own newly completed gas pipeline and attempt to blow up a nuclear power plant its military had captured quickly. These lies are easily refuted, but you won’t read about it in Common Dreams or the New York Times.
What you will read or hear in every imperial media “news” channel is the active voice when it comes to their current favorite villain. Common Dreams again: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has mutated the global fuel market.”
See the difference? Grammar matters.
Truth, however, is merely an inconvenience to our imperial rulers. If evidence of the president’s deep involvement in corrupt energy schemes in Ukraine might threaten his election, the press stampedes to suppress it and silence those who don’t go along.
Similarly, if the national conversation is about how best to respond to a deadly pathogen, social media platforms obediently silence dissenting voices at the behest of the federal government. The Twitter files are largely, though not exclusively, about sharing evidence of this.
When Pamuk has an Ottoman public health doctor say, “Quarantine is the art of educating the public in spite of itself, and of teaching it the skill of self-preservation,” he might also be thinking about empires and their strategies for preserving their reign.
Nowadays you can be silenced for pointing out enforcement of the preferred narrative, or just for not agreeing with the imperial version of their destructive, expensive wars.
Prior to Earth Day the FBI and DOJ collaborated on the indictment of four members of the African People’s Socialist Party for allegedly colluding with Russia to affect the outcome of an election. Hmm…
According to HandsOffUhuru.com:
On April 18, 2023, indictments were issued by the U.S. Department of Justice against African People’s Socialist Party Chairman Omali Yeshitela, African People’s Solidarity Committee Chair Penny Hess and Uhuru Solidarity Movement Chair Jesse Nevel.
Today I return to considering the ongoing controversy in Portland, Maine about flaccid police response to a neo Nazi group that assaulted several people on April 1. If local resistance to white supremacy and street violence is not of interest, maybe skip this one. (For background with links to video and eyewitness reports, check out my April 13 blog post on this topic.)
I’ve now had time to review the two hours of testimony from the public at the City Council meeting of April 10, followed by the self-congratulatory — and evasive — remarks of the interim police chief. Also the District Attorney’s public criticism of police inaction and suggestions for improvement in coordination with her office.
Here are some questions I still have:
Why do people with privilege think they are qualified to evaluate how safe or unsafe someone else without that privilege feels?
Why did the police department refuse to take statements from any of the victims who were assaulted by members of the neo Nazi group?
Why did the police appear to order the neo Nazi group to kneel briefly on the sidewalk in front of City Hall?
Why did one officer appear to pull a gun on the group, and what kind of gun was it?
Were the neo Nazi group members carrying guns, as some have alleged?
Why did the police appear to signal to the neo Nazi group that they could depart without being questioned, identified, or charged for the assaults?
When will the police release body cam footage of the incident, and when will the city release surveillance camera footage from Monument Square and City Hall?
When the police say they couldn’t tell “who started it” in reference to one of the physical attacks they witnessed, why does this matter? (I’ve never been a cop but being a teacher on playground duty I often confronted this issue and resolved it by enforcing the consequences for physical violence no matter who started it.)
Were the neo Nazi group members federal agents, as some on social media have suggested? If so, did they coordinate in advance with the Portland police?
What are the likely consequences of showing a neo Nazi group that their presence will be, not just tolerated, but protected in the City of Portland?
What are the likely consequences for tourism, a major revenue source for both Portland and Maine?
How true is the claim that the culture of Portland attracting 5.4 million visitors a year was largely created by LGBTQ and/or people of color? In other words, the very groups targeted with shouted slurs and physical attacks by the neo Nazi group on April 10?
What role does the long history of white supremacist violence in Portland have in informing our understanding of what happened this month?
What role does Portland’s recent history of welcoming immigrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom are Black, have in drawing neo Nazis to Maine?
Councilor Andrew Zarro expressed my sentiments when he said on April 10 :
“I feel like I have more questions ending this evening’s public comment than I did going into it…
What is the next step? How are we going to show the community what the next step on this is?”
About 50 people and 2 dogs turned out April 15, 2023 (not all stayed for our group photo)
A slew of new people, many of them young and many of them first-time protesters, came to our tax day protest yesterday in Topsham, Maine.
One told me they have family in Germany who see the Ukraine war as a reenactment of WWI with its trench warfare stalemate dragging on indefinitely.
One told me they drove almost two hours to join us after seeing me the previous evening on the Jimmy Dore Show promoting the event.
One told me they’d been reading my blog and looking for the next opportunity to get out and protest.
One told me how excited they were to be joined by fellow members of the UU Church.
And a group from the Party of Socialism & Liberation brought cool signs, a megaphone, and indicated they plan on returning each time we do this.
What I learned yesterday: there is a LOT of pent-up desire to resist supporting the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine. And many people don’t know where or how to express it.
In some cases, this is because the groups they belong to don’t object to this war in particular, or imperial wars in general (for example, Peace Action Maine is siding with NATO in the overture to WW3).
In some cases, they’re individuals who engage on social media but for the first time in years came out on the pavement to communicate with the thousands of people who drove through the intersection.
Several people who may not be the expected audience for the Ric Tyler George Hale show listened to my interview there Friday morning, and felt motivated to join us.
It was great to see so many Veterans for Peace out with us yesterday, stalwarts of the resistance to imperial wars for decades now.
One lovely person I’ve been standing with for years observed that passing around the megaphone at our closing circle was a smart idea. They said,
“Some shaky voices spoke up for the first time. Today was a gust of fresh air!”
Portland, Maine’s largest city, is in turmoil about the lack of response from the city and its police force to a neo Nazi group attacking counter protestors on April 1. This occurred on the steps of City Hall and was amply documented and reported in mainstream media here, here, and here.
The police showed up but allowed the masked group to maintain their anonymity and to disperse without being questioned or having charges filed.
I should explain that Portland is not my home but it’s where several people I love call home. Some of them are little kids who attend the public schools alongside students of many ethnicities and races. They tell me they don’t like people “being mean” to (i.e. threatening the physical safety of) the Black city councilor who represents their part of Portland. So, I have a stake in the safety of Portland.
The safety of people of color, along with LGBTQ+ people and people of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, are at risk when neo Nazis show up shouting the racist N word, the homophobic F word, and knocking to the pavement people holding a gay pride banner.
..Leo Hilton, a Portland resident who said he was one of four people who were attacked by Neo-Nazis outside City Hall on April 1.
As Hilton and others at the event described, police officers let the bad actors go without even asking for identification. A spokesperson for the police department said that none of the members of the group were identified on scene, and “none have officially been identified at this point.”..
According to Hilton, the assault occurred on April 1 when he and three others held up a pride flag, and the protesters — who were all masked — tried to tear the flag out of their hands. One member of Hilton’s group was then punched, and Hilton was thrown to the ground.
“They knew they could hit us and get away with it,” Hilton said.
I host a monthly community tv show with Portland City Councilors Victoria Pelletier and Roberto Rodriguez. How the institutions of local government uphold white supremacy is a topic we’ve addressed a few times, most recently in February which show you can view here or listen to as a podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
Since that show, recruiting for neo Nazi and other white rights groups has popped up all over town. Several public demonstrations about white victimhood have been organized, drawing their own counter demonstrations. And Monday night’s city council meeting drew at least a hundred protesters demanding that the city and the police walk the walk rather than just talk the talk of making Portland safe for everyone.
(I’ve been trying to listen to the whole meeting as a zoom recording but the playback is so choppy I gave up. Any readers with tech hints on how I can solve this problem, please post in the comments. Here’s a link to the page listing the recording of the April 10 city council meeting with two hours of testimony from the public.)
I’m starting to think that my most useful contribution to political conversations is examining the conundrum of false dichotomy thinking.
The inherent contradiction of U.S.ians who want to fight neo Nazis over here but support neo Nazis over there is emerging in the state I call home.
To have this discussion we need to address the question: How could Ukraine be run by neo Nazis if its president is Jewish? Investigative journalist Aaron Maté (also Jewish, for what it’s worth) addressed this when he wrote last year about the threats and intimidation President Zelensky received to prevent his implementing the peace platform he ran on.
The U.S. government has forced taxpayers to send over $100 billion to Ukraine’s neo Nazi aligned government and for the most part both Democrats and Republicans have supported this. But Democrats would be the first to denounce hate crimes like attacking people for being openly gay.
Then there are the fragile white rights folks in Maine who say they oppose the war but also say they oppose the city providing services to Black asylum seekers rather than services to white homeless people. They also publicly oppose the notion that Black Lives Matter, countering it with the message “It’s OK to be white.” Councilor Pelletier drew threats of violence back in February when she responded on social media, “When has it not been ok to be white in this country?”
One of the white rights activists posted this mini-manifesto to explain:
This same activist retweets videos glorifying violence, for example, hitting “commies” in the head with a frying pan.
All the false dichotomy ideologies aside, there are economic facts. White people own the vast majority of the wealth in the U.S. by any measure, while neo Nazis in Ukraine become wealthy on hundred of billions provided with no accountability for how it is spent.
The reason that Democrats in the U.S. have become so confused at this point in history is that they fell for the falsehood that the Russia’s President Putin is “Hitler.” This was a natural outgrowth of their conflation of our 45th president and his outspoken white supremacist beliefs with Putin, a descendant of those who literally defeated Hitler in WWII. Many Dems still cling the belief that Russia interfered in 2016 to get Trump elected, even though this has by now been thoroughly debunked by investigative journalists. And when Democrats stay in the echo chamber of corporate media that serves government interests, they don’t have enough real information to draw useful conclusions.
If you agree with me that neo Nazis cross a legal line shouting insults that are followed by assault, it may be time to abandon false dichotomy thinking. I’ve criticized Democrats here, but that doesn’t make me a Republican. I’ve also criticized Ukraine here, but that doesn’t make me a spokesperson for Putin despite being accused of this almost constantly over the past year.
I’ll be out again this Saturday April 15, “tax day.” People from many political parties and tendencies will be with me in Topsham at the corner of Routes 196 and 201 from 1:30pm. Join us to uphold our coalition demands:
Peace in Ukraine – No weapons, no money for the Ukraine War
Abolish NATO – End U.S. militarism & sanctions!
Fund people’s needs, not the war machine!
No war with China!
Protect Earth’s environment from the deadly insult of war!
Stuff like this makes me miss the MAD Magazine of my youth. I flash back to how MAD’s writers in the 1960’s would have satirized this line up. Nowadays, satire is difficult when we’re looking through mirrors (darkly) at concocted truths so outlandish they approach self-parody.
Imagine thinking: Let’s personify the concept of democracy in 2023 with a video call montage of the heads of state of these nations.
Why didn’t they just call it “summit of nations still willing to sort-of support the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine against Russia”?
Their scripted statements remind me of the Cold War-era Spy vs. Spy comic in MAD which often used the theme of how much empires need their enemies.
The inane pronouncements of self-proclaimed “good guys” against alleged “bad guys” make me nostalgic for Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Natasha and Boris Badonov characters.
Because “Get Moose and Squirrel” is about as deep as our imperial spin doctors go in their grasp of current events beyond their control.
In further developments almost impossible to satirize, Twitter today replaced its universally recognized bird logo, one of the strongest brand identifiers on the planet, with a dog.
Maybe it’s an April Fool’s Day joke delayed three days by, um, streamlined staffing at Twitter.
Maybe it’s an attempt to get the cybercurrency Doge, whose logo is this specific dog, to drop its lawsuit against Twitter owner Elon Musk for manipulating the value of Doge.
Maybe it’s just a replay of the situation I used to see in schools all the time: a rich guy comes in and throws a bunch of money around, and suddenly he’s an expert on education. In other words, the final farce of late stage capitalism.
In any case, it’s hard to satirize something that appears to be self-parody.
My recent geography quiz post was such a hit that here’s one I created based on the heads of state image.
Map A – A nation soon to host U.S. nuclear weapons!
Map B – This nation has its first far-right PM since the guy who coined the term “corporatism” to better describe fascism.
Map C – Apartheid nation claiming to be the only “democracy” in the region.
Map D – Invented white supremacy and currently has leader proud of pogroms and Hitler worship.
Map E – Difficult to find a blank map of this nation that is current after three of its eastern regions voted overwhelmingly to join a neighboring country.
Map F – Convener, nation that leads the world in racially motivated incarceration and treats money as protected political speech — in any dialect.
I’m going to make reference to a racist text that deeply influenced my youthful thinking about societies and how they die. Gone With the Wind was around my house and I probably read it when I was 10 or so, seeing the movie only years later. Did I notice that the Black characters only existed to be servants to the white protagonists, for instance, protecting them from the “bad” i.e. not servile Black people? No, I did not. Nowadays, it would be impossible not to notice that aspect of this story published in the 1930’s.
My takeaway from GWTW was something different: the deep denial of citizens of an empire in decline. Confederate adherence to their cause led to blindness and hubris; they still believed they were winning long after they were sure to lose. And the failure to adapt meant literal starvation for many. I’m sure I discussed the book with my parents and they no doubt encouraged me to see the heroine as someone who was able to look reality in the face, adapt, and survive. My mother called the people who failed to adapt dinosaurs.
Possibly my parents sensed that they were preparing me for a future they could but dimly imagine. Which brings us to today.
I can think of no more iconic artifact of the rise of Asia and the fall of the U.S. and Europe as world influencers than this brief exchange between Singaporean Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, and Richard Hudson, a congressman from North Carolina.
Congressman Hudson and the other members of the subcommittee contemplating a ban on TikTok clearly think they are playing hardball with China. Here’s another gem making the rounds under the title, “I’m Singaporean.”
Youthful comics have had a field day making fun of the hearing, while tech commentators have written about how a Congress concerned with egregious data mining should be focusing on all social media platforms, and maybe even on passing laws to protect data privacy such as other countries have.
Meanwhile, and irrespective of this nonsense, China brokered the resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia and possibly an end to proxy war in Syria. China also proposed a peace plan to end the proxy war in Ukraine.
China announced it will launch 13,000 low earth orbit satellites this summer to reserve space in that critical communications field. (Satellites are used by U.S./NATO to target Russian-ethic regions in eastern Ukraine and Russian military forces.)
China, Russia, and India are the C, R, and I in BRICS, the economic powerhouse that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, Argentina, Mexico, and Nigeria now want to join. Negotiations to use a currency other than the dollar to settle energy purchases between nations are well underway, with some saying it will occur as soon as August.
The United Nations Security Council, never quite the independent international body it was claimed to be when given a home in New York City, held a vote on Russia’s resolution to investigate the Nord Stream bombing. The UN’s press department reported:
By a vote of 3 in favour (Brazil, China, Russian Federation) to none against, with 12 abstentions, the Council rejected the draft resolution, owing to a lack of sufficient votes in favour.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning questioned on Tuesday why the US is hesitant about investigating an incident that seriously threatens international peace and security, when it is so enthusiastic about conducting so-called investigations on developing countries.
“It is playing double standards. What is the US afraid of? We expect early progress from relevant investigations so that the world knows what truly happened to hold those responsible accountable,” she said at a news conference in Beijing.
The U.S. empire is in for a rude awakening but it seems to be dreaming of its glory days as it barrels full speed ahead toward a world war it cannot win. That’s why I fear that the dinosaurs will unleash their nuclear weapons when they finally realize their days are numbered.
My late friend Cecile Pineda wrote a powerful book arguing that nuclear war was already with us. As I wrote in my eulogy for Cecile, Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step (Wings Press, 2013) argued a thesis that acted as a tsunami demolishing my lifelong dread of nuclear war. It’s not that I don’t still dread it (and notice it creeping closer with each passing day), it’s that I followed Cecile’s carefully reasoned argument that nuclear holocaust is already here. Constant pollution from radiation leaks, accidents, and deliberate use of ordnance composed with depleted uranium already have global cancer rates and birth defects skyrocketing. Continuing to build nuclear weapon systems without any meaningful plans for containing the waste is collective suicide.
On March 22, China and Russia issued a joint statement of their intention to avoid the use of nuclear weapons.
Within days, Great Britain announced it will ship DU ammunition to Ukraine for use in the proxy war against Russia. Meanwhile, research physicist Chris Busby published data showing elevated levels of uranium in the atmosphere over the British isles. That’s a fact, and his hypothesis about causation is that DU is already present in munitions used by Ukraine.
The British government’s announcement has had several consequences.
☢️ Some commenters wondered if the plan to irradiate Ukraine’s prime agricultural land would sit well with big corporate players like Monsanto that have been buying up real estate there.
☢️ Russia announced it plans to move nuclear weapons into Belarus this summer. (Naturally the U.S. and NATO nations are crying foul without acknowledging that they already have nuclear weapons in position in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye if not Poland, too.)
☢️ More attention was paid to data on the long term effects in Serbia of being bombed with DU munitions by NATO during the Clinton administration e.g. “5,500 out of every 100,000 Serbs suffer from some kind of carcinoma, a rate nearly three times the global average.”
☢️ Same for data on the use of DU by the U.S. and NATO in Iraq, especially concentrated in the area of Fallujah. Clusters of birth defects occurred early there attributed to DU, and these persist.
The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) condemned the UK decision to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine and elaborated thus:
A byproduct of the nuclear enriching process used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, DU emits three quarters of the radioactivity of natural uranium and shares many of its risks and dangers. It is used in armour piercing rounds as it is heavy and can easily penetrate steel. However on impact, toxic or radioactive dust can be released and subsequently inhaled.
DU shells were used extensively by the US and British in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, as well as in the Balkans during the 1990s.
It is thought that the extensive use of these shells is responsible for the sharp rise in the incidence rate of some cancers like breast cancer or lymphoma in the areas they were used. Other illnesses linked to DU include kidney failure, nervous system disorders, lung disease and reproductive problems. However, a lack of reliable data on exposure to DU means no large-scale study on its true impact exists.
DU sidesteps frying its targets to a crisp. In other words, the thermo part of thermonuclear is absent. And that is a good thing.
My friend Fang used to protest during the Iraq war using a sign that said D.U. = war crime. I used to tease him about what passing motorists made of his message, guessing that they read D.U. as the Homer Simpson exclamation, “Duh!”
Recently the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Russian officials including President Putin for allegedly kidnapping and interning thousands of Ukrainian children.
The U.S. has not signed on to the ICC (nor have Russia or Ukraine) and in fact at one point the U.S. threatened to arrest and sanction ICC judges if anyone in the U.S. were to be indicted for war crimes in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, the corporate media that serve as stenographers to the government have widely promoted the ICC news and President Biden used it as a pretext for further vilifying Putin.
Eva Bartlett, a Canadian journalist who covers the war in Ukraine from on site, interviewed a refugee mom in Russia about the alleged kidnappings. The woman shared that her own mother-in-law had heard such claims circulating in Ukraine (where the older parent remained) and was alarmed about her grandchildren’s safety. The kids’ mom reassured grandma that they were fine and allowed to move freely in and out of the refugee camp where they’re staying now.
War propaganda often spreads claims of harm to children by evildoers on the other side. Claims of kidnapping, atrocities, or babies thrown out of incubators are bread and butter propaganda tropes that warmakers never tire of using. Because inflaming emotions with assertions about alleged harm to kids work on an audience driven by sentimental thinking but lacking a clear analysis of facts on the ground.
One of the reasons I have little interest in examining war atrocities reported on either side in the Ukraine war is that I know 1) truth as seen through the fog of war is murky at best; and 2) all armies commit atrocities against civilians in warfare. Just ask the villagers who survived the U.S. Army’s My Lai massacre.
Let’s talk about another real harm to children: recruiting them to fight in wars for conquest.
AOC, a Democrat who represents some of the low income youth of color who reside in the Bronx, is advertising her desire to “be of service” by connecting them with military recruiters.
a former U.S. Central Command commander, recently retired,.. at a closed door meeting in a large, empty conference room with the [1st Marine] division’s officers..shocked many of us when he said, “Marines, there is no ongoing WMD program in Iraq, but you are going to war anyway.”
He paused, and with an exasperated look on his face, said gravely, “The administration is cooking the books on the intel about WMD in Iraq.”
This was a leader who had been in charge of all U.S. military activities in the region for more than three years and had the highest of security clearances.
He let that thought hang for a moment — that the administration was cooking the books — and then continued, “But if you don’t go through the Iraqi Army like a hot knife through butter, I’ll disown every one of you.”
So who’s really guilty of harming children — those who throw them gleefully into the gears of the imperial war machine, or those who escort them and their parents out of war zones?
My friend Pat Taub who lives in Maine wrote to me this morning, “the local NPR station announced for a future series on the military they were soliciting stories from locals re: their military service. I had fantasies of the Pentagon sending out a directive to all NPR stations to broadcast these stories.”
I suspect the mechanism is more likely one of the many new narrative management agencies that Matt Taibbi has been reporting on, but the end result is the same.
Let’s hope the ICC considers who has been shelling civilians in the Donbas since 2014 (that would be the government of Ukraine) as they examine the inflammatory claim of wartime kidnapping.
Then they might move on to indicting someone for half a million Iraqi children dying as the result of sanctions. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, heard here, is dead now, but plenty of the neocons responsible are free, and none have been held responsible for this war crime of mammoth proportions.
The demonstration will make connections between the human and financial toll of U.S. militarism at home and abroad. Key demands include:
Peace in Ukraine – No weapons, no money for the Ukraine War
Abolish NATO – End U.S. militarism & sanctions!
Fund people’s needs, not the war machine!
No war with China!
End U.S. aid to racist apartheid Israel!
Fight racism & bigotry at home!
U.S. hands off Haiti!
End Sanctions on Syria!
From the United National Antiwar Coalition’s flyer for March 18 actions:
The US/NATO proxy war in Ukraine puts the US in an escalating conflict with Russia, a major nuclear power. Now, a coalition of progressive organizations have come together to organize this demonstration. We join with groups around the world that are beginning to build big protests against this war. We join in demanding “no more weapons and no more money for the Ukraine war.”
We are also seeing increasing US aggression against China, another major nuclear power. As Syria recovers from the devastating earthquake, the US has refused to drop the sanctions against Syria and the right-wing government on Israel is increasing its attacks against the Palestinian people, Iran, Syria and has recently bombed the airport at Aleppo, which is used to bring aid to the Syrian earthquake victims.
The US is clearly the main cause of war around the world with bases that surround Russia and China and foreign bases that number 20 times those of all other countries in the world combined. The ever-increasing military budget drains money that could be used for human needs instead of war. Therefore, we must build a strong antiwar movement here in the US, the main imperialist power in the world.
We need a government to support human needs before the war machine. We need those countless $billions for health and education—not death and destruction. After the March 18 protest, we ask you to join with UNAC to build strong local and regional action during the week of April 15 – 22.
If you can’t make it to Washington DC on March 18, there are a number of actions taking place around the country in solidarity. You can find them here.
In Maine or northern New England on March 18?
Protesters against U.S. involvement in Ukraine will gather near Portland in Westbrook, Maine from 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 at the intersection of Stroudwater Street and William Clark Drive. (For GPS try Westbrook Market – 28 Stroudwater Street.)
The Maine event is co-sponsored by: Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Natural Guard, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, Communist Party of Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, Party for Socialism & Liberation Maine, and Maine Veterans for Peace.
If you click the country name it links to an article or video on U.S. meddling in that country. Note that some of the corporate media sources or government-aligned NGOs deny U.S. meddling because of course they do.
Bottom line: why does the U.S. think its vital interests lie all over the planet, and how much does all this meddling cost? It’s nearly impossible to quantify because so much of the cost is hidden in support for foundations, NGOs, or just plain CIA “dark” i.e. invisible activities.
In terms of human suffering, violence, and bad will generated, that, too, is difficult to quantify.
As anecdotal evidence, I’ll leave you with a quote from Caitlin Johnstone’s recent post on the AUKUS submarine deal:
In reality, Australia is not arming itself against China to protect itself from China.
Australia is arming itself against China to protect itself from the United States.
Some events in history seem significant at the time. They often involve explosions (like the bombing of Nord Stream pipelines) or mass deaths (9/11 attack on NYC skyscrapers). But sometimes they are more subtle. When Iran and Saudi Arabia restored diplomatic relations this week with China brokering the agreement, nothing exploded and no one died. Yet this event is evidence of a seismic shift in global power dynamics as the world moves steadily away from domination by the U.S. hegemon and, not incidentally, the U.S. petrodollar. In short, the U.S. can no longer exploit a regional rivalry that has been resolved.
Meanwhile, China announced it was appointing a new head for the People’s Liberation Army. General Li Shangfu has been sanctioned by the U.S. for buying weapons from Russia. Probably more significant is his expertise in aerospace. The Pentagon has long since established it intends outer space to be the next “warfighting domain” and in fact all nations use communications satellites already to connect their military personnel and outposts.
Some of you may remember China earlier this month publishing a gloves-off document detailing the many war crimes and other belligerent actions of the U.S. If you haven’t yet had time to read “U.S. Hegemony and Its Perils“, I recommend you do. It is also likely to be seen in hindsight as historic, a highly significant departure for usually tactful conduct by Chinese officialdom as it is blunt, truthful, and, well, undiplomatic.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. a cycle of bank failures seems to be underway with the first domino to fall being the Silicon Valley Bank. Most of its deposits were uninsured, and several other banks lost millions upon SVB’s descent into insolvency.
Many more tech firms who banked with SVB could also suffer significant losses. RocketLab USA is among them.
Will we see a repeat of the Obama administration’s signature “banks got bailed out, we got sold out” in 2008? Of course we will. It’s already underway. This just in from CNN:
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday instructed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to guarantee Silicon Valley Bank customers will have access to all of their money starting Monday.
By guaranteeing all deposits – even the uninsured money customers kept with the failed bank – the government can ensure public confidence in America’s banking system, Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg said in a joint statement.
Meanwhile, using migrant children as young as 9 to work in meat packing facilities is happening all over the U.S., implicating firms like Whole Foods (owned by Amazon). Some states are even legalizing the practice. Oh, and some in Congress want to raise the Social Security and Medicare retirement age from 65 to 70. So that would amount to six decades of working for the man many earning only a minimum wage that hasn’t risen in decades.
No wonder so many branches of the federal government are engaged in taxpayer-funded thought control via social media platforms. Testimony before a House committee this week by journalist Matt Taibbi went far beyond anything envisioned by Kafka.
The video of the exchange between bonehead reps and a seasoned journalist who believes in both the 1st amendment and protecting his sources is worth watching if only for the astonished expression Taibbi wears throughout much of the hearing. He is clearly struggling not to LOL while remaining respectful in a governmental body that he may have once respected.
If you’re a reader like me, Taibbi’s report after the fact is available here.
Too long, didn’t read? Here’s the executive summary: Multiple agencies of the feds insisted that platforms like Twitter and Facebook shut down user accounts that were telling inconvenient truths or asking inconvenient questions (e.g. Could the covid pathogen been created in a lab rather than evolving in nature?). This was and is done under the guise of combating misinformation, but examining Twitter’s internal documents reveal that it is after all just plain censorship.
The U.S. government does not want people to think thoughts that might threaten its power to rule over us.
Dying empires typically use their remaining strength to control and threaten those who cannot be controlled. While you might think that the U.S. would consolidate its power by regulating banking fraud, railroad safety, and providing for its elderly, you would be wrong. The empire appears determined to keep doubling down until it arrives at nearly zero.
China, Russia, and Iran are mature civilizations whose conduct contrasts sharply with that of the bully who is getting his comeuppance.
Manufacturing consent for U.S. wars by staging Punch and Judy shows of Republicans versus Democrats may be nearing the end of its usefulness.
Now that the U.S. is all out for all war, all the time, these distinctions are beginning to unravel. Case in point is the knock down, drag out fight in Maine’s House of Representatives this week over a resolution expressing support for fighting Russia over there in Ukraine.
A similar resolution a year ago passed almost unanimously, but not this time. Fifty-four representatives from all over the state voted no, while 87 still on the bandwagon voted in favor and it passed.
The sponsor and most of the yes votes are staunch liberal Democrats whose carefully managed corporate news feed leaves them vulnerable to a profound lack of knowledge about a war that actually kicked off in 2014. I say profound because their resolution’s litany of Russian crimes reads like a tabloid.
These are the same people ignoring the obvious war crime and environmental disaster of destroying the Nord Stream pipelines carrying gas from Russia to Germany. Maybe ignorance is bliss but it may be time to wake up: Seymour Hersh has been a trending topic on Twitter all day. Could liberals actually believe that the man who broke the My Lai massacre and Abu Ghraib torture stories is probably just a Putin lover these days?
On the other hand we have kneejerk Republicans who were fine with Trump’s conduct of U.S. wars but are dead set against this war because Dark Brandon started it. And he profits from it through his family’s shady connections in Ukraine’s energy sector. And by forcing Europe to buy fracked gas shipped over from the U.S. at a hugely higher price than the Russian gas formerly flowing through Nord Stream.
The predictable accusations were made in debate over Maine’s resolution. Those who spoke against it were dangerous appeasers a la Neville Chamberlain caving to Hitler in 1938. Those who spoke in favor pointed this out.
It went downhill from there.
Political grandstanding aside, some of us have given legislators our feedback. I agree with my representative on almost nothing domestically but I thanked him for representing my views with his “no” vote.
Another Mainer took it upon himself to write to one of the Democratic representatives who dared to buck their party’s rush to WW3 by voting no.
Hello, Rep. Warren,
I’m from Southwest Harbor, not in your district, but I want to thank you for parting company with the rest of your Dem (my party, which I find increasingly hard to recognize in recent years) colleagues on the Ukraine resolution.
I’m not aware of what your reasoning was, but it has been clear to me and anyone who has paid the slightest attention to Russian and Ukrainian history, to the 8-year bloody aftermath war against ethnic Russian civilians in Ukraine after our overthrow of the Ukrainian government in 2014, and to our prodding NATO into ever-increasing provocation of Russia, would have to think that supporting that far-right quasi-Nazi government we installed is immoral.
The war wouldn’t have happened if we’d listened to Putin’s clear legitimate red-line against NATO encroachment. The terrible toll on civilians would have been almost non-existent had we not been deliberately prolonging an unwinnable war with aid better spent here. And all the suffering in the rest of the world would not exist if it were not for the (ineffective) sanctions we have thrown against Russia.
Whether one approves of Mr. Putin’s approach to foreign policy or not, the resolution’s sponsors’ blame for the horror is inappropriately assigned to him. It is the war-mongers in the US government who are responsible. Thanks again for your vote. I hope your constituents are half as savvy as you are.
I also noticed that an ambitious Republican representative from a town I used to live in voted in favor of the resolution. She is the type of public official who rides any bandwagon that looks likely to make her more famous. I didn’t bother writing to her.
Why do I see a donnybrook in the Maine State House as significant? Because public support for the proxy war on Russia in Ukraine is eroding fast among members of both corporate parties.
And third parties are hanging their hats on opposition to the war. Not just because Ukraine is losing and will lose — that’s been clear all along to people with decent sources of information. But because the costs — moral, financial, and environmental — are skyrocketing, along with the dangers of a nuclear WW3.
What party does this young person belong to? Unknown, but I can guarantee you that elected officials are scared of this happening at their town halls.
And that’s probably why Maine’s congressional delegation hasn’t held a town hall in years.
My critics have already jumped in to lament my aligning with a Tweeter who is “unsavory” despite the fact that I’m not aligning with them on any issue other than dissenting about the Ukraine war and government lies on Nord Stream.
In these perilous times, I can live with that.
My friend Cynthia Howard a year ago in Maine with her homemade banner warning of the dangers of nuclear war. A year later, she’s still out there. Join us March 18 in Westbrook, Maine if you share our concerns and don’t mind standing with the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Natural Guard, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, Communist Party of Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, Party for Socialism & Liberation Maine, and Maine Veterans for Peace.
REVISED March 10 to correct an error:
Thanks to former Rep. Jeff Evangelos who reminded me that last year’s resolution did meet with some principled opposition.
Urgency must replace complacency. The recent decades of tranquillity were not the norm in human affairs, but an aberration.
Australia’s holiday from history is over.
Holiday from history. That is quite a concept. Who the f ever gets a holiday from history? In this instance, I believe the phrase is supposed to mean war is on the horizon and soon. Because history is only a series of wars, and wars are normal, and your complacency is slack.
Pax Australia as enjoyed under the soft authority of Pax Americana is about to come to an end if these authors get their way.
Here’s context for the quote from Caitlin Johnstone:
The report by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age — which former Prime Minister Paul Keating just called “the most egregious and provocative news presentation of any newspaper I have witnessed in over 50 years of active public life” — actually comes close to actually admitting that there’s a concerted propaganda campaign designed to increase hysteria about China and manufacture consent for war. The “expert” panel asserts that there needs to be a “psychological shift” in the public toward this direction which they must be actively persuaded to accept.
“Most important of all is a psychological shift,” the report says. “Urgency must replace complacency. The recent decades of tranquillity were not the norm in human affairs, but an aberration. Australia’s holiday from history is over.”
Plenty of fearful reasons for Australian taxpayers to enrich those guys behind Uncle Sam in the cartoon above.
Some have suggested that Australia, not Taiwan, is slated to be the next Ukraine. Others have suggested it could be Japan.
I haven’t seen any polls but I’m going out on a limb and say that the vast majority of people living in these places which are likely candidates to be selected for a proxy war on China do not want that to happen.
But it’s clear that the empire thinks it can act with impunity at this point in history.
Impunity supported by the profound lack of curiosity about whodunit on Nord Stream evident throughout western media. Imperial control 0f that sector is working well with independent media covertly choked by lawfare, financial attacks, shadow banning, and cancellation. I’ve come to feel that getting authentic information is akin to getting nutritious food — it’s possible, but you have to work at it.
Who else is curious about NATO nuclear weapons and related systems being moved around? I know I am.
Imperial plotters fancy themselves eagles (dark eagles in the service of Dark Brandon, apparently) but the whole world knows they’re really more like pigeons.
My recent interview for the International Friends of Crimea show by Regis Tremblay where Bruce Gagnon and I report on Rage Against the War Machine actions and the current mood in the U.S. after a year of pouring $100 billion into war in Ukraine.
Includes discussion of why liberals and Democrats are gung-ho for a looming World War 3 with both Russia and China, and the threat of nuclear annihilation that entails.
As U.S. social media companies rush to do the bidding of the federal government and restrict dissenting narratives, Regis had his YouTube channel with thousands of followers shut down earlier this year. Some free speech we’ve got, eh?
As we mention in the video, we’re organizing for a sister rally in Maine on the next day of national action, March 18. Co-sponsors include the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, the Maine Natural Guard, and Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick.
In Maine we will hold a ‘No war with Russia’ peace vigil on Saturday, March 18 at 1:30 pm in Westbrook. (Intersection of Stroudwater St. & William Clark Dr. (Westbrook Market & Dunkin are there)
Let us know if your organization would like to be listed as a co-sponsor.
A document published recently on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China is long, well-researched, and worth the time to read in its entirety. I repost it here with that recommendation.
Access it at its source in various languages if your browser allows it:
IV. Technological Hegemony—Monopoly and Suppression
V. Cultural Hegemony—Spreading False Narratives
Since becoming the world’s most powerful country after the two world wars and the Cold War, the United States has acted more boldly to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, pursue, maintain and abuse hegemony, advance subversion and infiltration, and willfully wage wars, bringing harm to the international community.
The United States has developed a hegemonic playbook to stage “color revolutions,” instigate regional disputes, and even directly launch wars under the guise of promoting democracy, freedom and human rights. Clinging to the Cold War mentality, the United States has ramped up bloc politics and stoked conflict and confrontation. It has overstretched the concept of national security, abused export controls and forced unilateral sanctions upon others. It has taken a selective approach to international law and rules, utilizing or discarding them as it sees fit, and has sought to impose rules that serve its own interests in the name of upholding a “rules-based international order.”
This report, by presenting the relevant facts, seeks to expose the U.S. abuse of hegemony in the political, military, economic, financial, technological and cultural fields, and to draw greater international attention to the perils of the U.S. practices to world peace and stability and the well-being of all peoples.
I. Political Hegemony — Throwing Its Weight Around
The United States has long been attempting to mold other countries and the world order with its own values and political system in the name of promoting democracy and human rights.
◆ Instances of U.S. interference in other countries’ internal affairs abound. In the name of “promoting democracy,” the United States practiced a “Neo-Monroe Doctrine” in Latin America, instigated “color revolutions” in Eurasia, and orchestrated the “Arab Spring” in West Asia and North Africa, bringing chaos and disaster to many countries.
In 1823, the United States announced the Monroe Doctrine. While touting an “America for the Americans,” what it truly wanted was an “America for the United States.”
Since then, the policies of successive U.S. governments toward Latin America and the Caribbean Region have been riddled with political interference, military intervention and regime subversion. From its 61-year hostility toward and blockade of Cuba to its overthrow of the Allende government of Chile, U.S. policy on this region has been built on one maxim-those who submit will prosper; those who resist shall perish.
The year 2003 marked the beginning of a succession of “color revolutions” — the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia, the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine and the “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. Department of State openly admitted playing a “central role” in these “regime changes.” The United States also interfered in the internal affairs of the Philippines, ousting President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in 1986 and President Joseph Estrada in 2001 through the so-called “People Power Revolutions.”
In January 2023, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released his new book Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love. He revealed in it that the United States had plotted to intervene in Venezuela. The plan was to force the Maduro government to reach an agreement with the opposition, deprive Venezuela of its ability to sell oil and gold for foreign exchange, exert high pressure on its economy, and influence the 2018 presidential election.
◆ The U.S. exercises double standards on international rules. Placing its self-interest first, the United States has walked away from international treaties and organizations, and put its domestic law above international law. In April 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would cut off all U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with the excuse that the organization “supports, or participates in the management of a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” The United States quit UNESCO twice in 1984 and 2017. In 2017, it announced leaving the Paris Agreement on climate change. In 2018, it announced its exit from the UN Human Rights Council, citing the organization’s “bias” against Israel and failure to protect human rights effectively. In 2019, the United States announced its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to seek unfettered development of advanced weapons. In 2020, it announced pulling out of the Treaty on Open Skies.
The United States has also been a stumbling block to biological arms control by opposing negotiations on a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and impeding international verification of countries’ activities relating to biological weapons. As the only country in possession of a chemical weapons stockpile, the United States has repeatedly delayed the destruction of chemical weapons and remained reluctant in fulfilling its obligations. It has become the biggest obstacle to realizing “a world free of chemical weapons.”
◆ The United States is piecing together small blocs through its alliance system. It has been forcing an “Indo-Pacific Strategy” onto the Asia-Pacific region, assembling exclusive clubs like the Five Eyes, the Quad and AUKUS, and forcing regional countries to take sides. Such practices are essentially meant to create division in the region, stoke confrontation and undermine peace.
◆ The U.S. arbitrarily passes judgment on democracy in other countries, and fabricates a false narrative of “democracy versus authoritarianism” to incite estrangement, division, rivalry and confrontation. In December 2021, the United States hosted the first “Summit for Democracy,” which drew criticism and opposition from many countries for making a mockery of the spirit of democracy and dividing the world. In March 2023, the United States will host another “Summit for Democracy,” which remains unwelcome and will again find no support.
II. Military Hegemony — Wanton Use of Force
The history of the United States is characterized by violence and expansion. Since it gained independence in 1776, the United States has constantly sought expansion by force: it slaughtered Indians, invaded Canada, waged a war against Mexico, instigated the American-Spanish War, and annexed Hawaii. After World War II, the wars either provoked or launched by the United States included the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, the Libyan War and the Syrian War, abusing its military hegemony to pave the way for expansionist objectives. In recent years, the U.S. average annual military budget has exceeded 700 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 40 percent of the world’s total, more than the 15 countries behind it combined. The United States has about 800 overseas military bases, with 173,000 troops deployed in 159 countries.
According to the book America Invades: How We’ve Invaded or been Militarily Involved with almost Every Country on Earth, the United States has fought or been militarily involved with almost all the 190-odd countries recognized by the United Nations with only three exceptions. The three countries were “spared” because the United States did not find them on the map.
◆ As former U.S. President Jimmy Carter put it, the United States is undoubtedly the most warlike nation in the history of the world. According to a Tufts University report, “Introducing the Military Intervention Project: A new Dataset on U.S. Military Interventions, 1776-2019,” the United States undertook nearly 400 military interventions globally between those years, 34 percent of which were in Latin America and the Caribbean, 23 percent in East Asia and the Pacific, 14 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, and 13 percent in Europe. Currently, its military intervention in the Middle East and North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa is on the rise.
Alex Lo, a South China Morning Post columnist, pointed out that the United States has rarely distinguished between diplomacy and war since its founding. It overthrew democratically elected governments in many developing countries in the 20th century and immediately replaced them with pro-American puppet regimes. Today, in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen, the United States is repeating its old tactics of waging proxy, low-intensity, and drone wars.
◆ U.S. military hegemony has caused humanitarian tragedies. Since 2001, the wars and military operations launched by the United States in the name of fighting terrorism have claimed over 900,000 lives with some 335,000 of them civilians, injured millions and displaced tens of millions. The 2003 Iraq War resulted in some 200,000 to 250,000 civilian deaths, including over 16,000 directly killed by the U.S. military, and left more than a million homeless.
The United States has created 37 million refugees around the world. Since 2012, the number of Syrian refugees alone has increased tenfold. Between 2016 and 2019, 33,584 civilian deaths were documented in the Syrian fightings, including 3,833 killed by U.S.-led coalition bombings, half of them women and children. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) reported on 9 November 2018 that the air strikes launched by U.S. forces on Raqqa alone killed 1,600 Syrian civilians.
The two-decades-long war in Afghanistan devastated the country. A total of 47,000 Afghan civilians and 66,000 to 69,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers unrelated to the September 11 attacks were killed in U.S. military operations, and more than 10 million people were displaced. The war in Afghanistan destroyed the foundation of economic development there and plunged the Afghan people into destitution. After the “Kabul debacle” in 2021, the United States announced that it would freeze some 9.5 billion dollars in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank, a move considered as “pure looting.”
In September 2022, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu commented at a rally that the United States has waged a proxy war in Syria, turned Afghanistan into an opium field and heroin factory, thrown Pakistan into turmoil, and left Libya in incessant civil unrest. The United States does whatever it takes to rob and enslave the people of any country with underground resources.
The United States has also adopted appalling methods in war. During the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War, the United States used massive quantities of chemical and biological weapons as well as cluster bombs, fuel-air bombs, graphite bombs and depleted uranium bombs, causing enormous damage on civilian facilities, countless civilian casualties and lasting environmental pollution.
III. Economic Hegemony — Looting and Exploitation
After World War II, the United States led efforts to set up the Bretton Woods System, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which, together with the Marshall Plan, formed the international monetary system centered around the U.S. dollar. In addition, the United States has also established institutional hegemony in the international economic and financial sector by manipulating the weighted voting systems, rules and arrangements of international organizations including “approval by 85 percent majority,” and its domestic trade laws and regulations. By taking advantage of the dollar’s status as the major international reserve currency, the United States is basically collecting “seigniorage” from around the world; and using its control over international organizations, it coerces other countries into serving America’s political and economic strategy.
◆ The United States exploits the world’s wealth with the help of “seigniorage.” It costs only about 17 cents to produce a 100 dollar bill, but other countries had to pony up 100 dollar of actual goods in order to obtain one. It was pointed out more than half a century ago, that the United States enjoyed exorbitant privilege and deficit without tears created by its dollar, and used the worthless paper note to plunder the resources and factories of other nations.
◆ The hegemony of U.S. dollar is the main source of instability and uncertainty in the world economy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States abused its global financial hegemony and injected trillions of dollars into the global market, leaving other countries, especially emerging economies, to pay the price. In 2022, the Fed ended its ultra-easy monetary policy and turned to aggressive interest rate hike, causing turmoil in the international financial market and substantial depreciation of other currencies such as the Euro, many of which dropped to a 20-year low. As a result, a large number of developing countries were challenged by high inflation, currency depreciation and capital outflows. This was exactly what Nixon’s secretary of the treasury John Connally once remarked, with self-satisfaction yet sharp precision, that “the dollar is our currency, but it is your problem.”
◆ With its control over international economic and financial organizations, the United States imposes additional conditions to their assistance to other countries. In order to reduce obstacles to U.S. capital inflow and speculation, the recipient countries are required to advance financial liberalization and open up financial markets so that their economic policies would fall in line with America’s strategy. According to the Review of International Political Economy, along with the 1,550 debt relief programs extended by the IMF to its 131 member countries from 1985 to 2014, as many as 55,465 additional political conditions had been attached.
◆ The United States willfully suppresses its opponents with economic coercion. In the 1980s, to eliminate the economic threat posed by Japan, and to control and use the latter in service of America’s strategic goal of confronting the Soviet Union and dominating the world, the United States leveraged its hegemonic financial power against Japan, and concluded the Plaza Accord. As a result, Yen was pushed up, and Japan was pressed to open up its financial market and reform its financial system. The Plaza Accord dealt a heavy blow to the growth momentum of the Japanese economy, leaving Japan to what was later called “three lost decades.”
◆ America’s economic and financial hegemony has become a geopolitical weapon. Doubling down on unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction,” the United States has enacted such domestic laws as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, and introduced a series of executive orders to sanction specific countries, organizations or individuals. Statistics show that U.S. sanctions against foreign entities increased by 933 percent from 2000 to 2021. The Trump administration alone has imposed more than 3,900 sanctions, which means three sanctions per day. So far, the United States had or has imposed economic sanctions on nearly 40 countries across the world, including Cuba, China, Russia, the DPRK, Iran and Venezuela, affecting nearly half of the world’s population. “The United States of America” has turned itself into “the United States of Sanctions.” And “long-arm jurisdiction” has been reduced to nothing but a tool for the United States to use its means of state power to suppress economic competitors and interfere in normal international business. This is a serious departure from the principles of liberal market economy that the United States has long boasted.
IV. Technological Hegemony — Monopoly and Suppression
The United States seeks to deter other countries’ scientific, technological and economic development by wielding monopoly power, suppression measures and technology restrictions in high-tech fields.
◆ The United States monopolizes intellectual property in the name of protection. Taking advantage of the weak position of other countries, especially developing ones, on intellectual property rights and the institutional vacancy in relevant fields, the United States reaps excessive profits through monopoly. In 1994, the United States pushed forward the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), forcing the Americanized process and standards in intellectual property protection in an attempt to solidify its monopoly on technology.
In the 1980s, to contain the development of Japan’s semiconductor industry, the United States launched the “301” investigation, built bargaining power in bilateral negotiations through multilateral agreements, threatened to label Japan as conducting unfair trade, and imposed retaliatory tariffs, forcing Japan to sign the U.S.-Japan Semiconductor Agreement. As a result, Japanese semiconductor enterprises were almost completely driven out of global competition, and their market share dropped from 50 percent to 10 percent. Meanwhile, with the support of the U.S. government, a large number of U.S. semiconductor enterprises took the opportunity and grabbed larger market share.
◆ The United States politicizes, weaponizes technological issues and uses them as ideological tools. Overstretching the concept of national security, the United States mobilized state power to suppress and sanction Chinese company Huawei, restricted the entry of Huawei products into the U.S. market, cut off its supply of chips and operating systems, and coerced other countries to ban Huawei from undertaking local 5G network construction. It even talked Canada into unwarrantedly detaining Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou for nearly three years.
The United States has fabricated a slew of excuses to clamp down on China’s high-tech enterprises with global competitiveness, and has put more than 1,000 Chinese enterprises on sanction lists. In addition, the United States has also imposed controls on biotechnology, artificial intelligence and other high-end technologies, reinforced export restrictions, tightened investment screening, suppressed Chinese social media apps such as TikTok and WeChat, and lobbied the Netherlands and Japan to restrict exports of chips and related equipment or technology to China.
The United States has also practiced double standards in its policy on China-related technological professionals. To sideline and suppress Chinese researchers, since June 2018, visa validity has been shortened for Chinese students majoring in certain high-tech-related disciplines, repeated cases have occurred where Chinese scholars and students going to the United States for exchange programs and study were unjustifiably denied and harassed, and large-scale investigation on Chinese scholars working in the United States was carried out.
◆ The United States solidifies its technological monopoly in the name of protecting democracy. By building small blocs on technology such as the “chips alliance” and “clean network,” the United States has put “democracy” and “human rights” labels on high-technology, and turned technological issues into political and ideological issues, so as to fabricate excuses for its technological blockade against other countries. In May 2019, the United States enlisted 32 countries to the Prague 5G Security Conference in the Czech Republic and issued the Prague Proposal in an attempt to exclude China’s 5G products. In April 2020, then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the “5G clean path,” a plan designed to build technological alliance in the 5G field with partners bonded by their shared ideology on democracy and the need to protect “cyber security.” The measures, in essence, are the U.S. attempts to maintain its technological hegemony through technological alliances.
◆ The United States abuses its technological hegemony by carrying out cyber attacks and eavesdropping. The United States has long been notorious as an “empire of hackers,” blamed for its rampant acts of cyber theft around the world. It has all kinds of means to enforce pervasive cyber attacks and surveillance, including using analog base station signals to access mobile phones for data theft, manipulating mobile apps, infiltrating cloud servers, and stealing through undersea cables. The list goes on.
U.S. surveillance is indiscriminate. All can be targets of its surveillance, be they rivals or allies, even leaders of allied countries such as former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and several French Presidents. Cyber surveillance and attacks launched by the United States such as “Prism,” “Dirtbox,” “Irritant Horn” and “Telescreen Operation” are all proof that the United States is closely monitoring its allies and partners. Such eavesdropping on allies and partners has already caused worldwide outrage. Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, a website that has exposed U.S. surveillance programs, said that “do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honor or respect. There is only one rule: there are no rules.”
V. Cultural Hegemony — Spreading False Narratives
The global expansion of American culture is an important part of its external strategy. The United States has often used cultural tools to strengthen and maintain its hegemony in the world.
◆ The United States embeds American values in its products such as movies. American values and lifestyle are a tied product to its movies and TV shows, publications, media content, and programs by the government-funded non-profit cultural institutions. It thus shapes a cultural and public opinion space in which American culture reigns and maintains cultural hegemony. In his article The Americanization of the World, John Yemma, an American scholar, exposed the real weapons in U.S. cultural expansion: the Hollywood, the image design factories on Madison Avenue and the production lines of Mattel Company and Coca-Cola.
There are various vehicles the United States uses to keep its cultural hegemony. American movies are the most used; they now occupy more than 70 percent of the world’s market share. The United States skilfully exploits its cultural diversity to appeal to various ethnicities. When Hollywood movies descend on the world, they scream the American values tied to them.
◆ American cultural hegemony not only shows itself in “direct intervention,” but also in “media infiltration” and as “a trumpet for the world.” U.S.-dominated Western media has a particularly important role in shaping global public opinion in favor of U.S. meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.
The U.S. government strictly censors all social media companies and demands their obedience. Twitter CEO Elon Musk admitted on 27 December 2022 that all social media platforms work with the U.S. government to censor content, reported Fox Business Network. Public opinion in the United States is subject to government intervention to restrict all unfavorable remarks. Google often makes pages disappear.
U.S. Department of Defense manipulates social media. In December 2022, The Intercept, an independent U.S. investigative website, revealed that in July 2017, U.S. Central Command official Nathaniel Kahler instructed Twitter’s public policy team to augment the presence of 52 Arabic-language accounts on a list he sent, six of which were to be given priority. One of the six was dedicated to justifying U.S. drone attacks in Yemen, such as by claiming that the attacks were precise and killed only terrorists, not civilians. Following Kahler’s directive, Twitter put those Arabic-language accounts on a “white list” to amplify certain messages.
◆The United States practices double standards on the freedom of the press. It brutally suppresses and silences media of other countries by various means. The United States and Europe bar mainstream Russian media such as Russia Today and the Sputnik from their countries. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube openly restrict official accounts of Russia. Netflix, Apple and Google have removed Russian channels and applications from their services and app stores. Unprecedented draconian censorship is imposed on Russia-related contents.
◆The United States abuses its cultural hegemony to instigate “peaceful evolution” in socialist countries. It sets up news media and cultural outfits targeting socialist countries. It pours staggering amounts of public funds into radio and TV networks to support their ideological infiltration, and these mouthpieces bombard socialist countries in dozens of languages with inflammatory propaganda day and night.
The United States uses misinformation as a spear to attack other countries, and has built an industrial chain around it: there are groups and individuals making up stories, and peddling them worldwide to mislead public opinion with the support of nearly limitless financial resources.
While a just cause wins its champion wide support, an unjust one condemns its pursuer to be an outcast. The hegemonic, domineering, and bullying practices of using strength to intimidate the weak, taking from others by force and subterfuge, and playing zero-sum games are exerting grave harm. The historical trends of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit are unstoppable. The United States has been overriding truth with its power and trampling justice to serve self-interest. These unilateral, egoistic and regressive hegemonic practices have drawn growing, intense criticism and opposition from the international community.
Countries need to respect each other and treat each other as equals. Big countries should behave in a manner befitting their status and take the lead in pursuing a new model of state-to-state relations featuring dialogue and partnership, not confrontation or alliance. China opposes all forms of hegemonism and power politics, and rejects interference in other countries’ internal affairs. The United States must conduct serious soul-searching. It must critically examine what it has done, let go of its arrogance and prejudice, and quit its hegemonic, domineering and bullying practices.
When you’re trying to go about your life without the paralyzing fear of nuclear annihilation hanging overhead, you can use various coping strategies. You can distract yourself, perhaps asking your partner to watch a silly movie. You can compartmentalize e.g. I’ll think about that later but right now I’m concentrating on making dinner. You can rationalize: Pentagon brass and their counterparts around the globe have families, too, and don’t want them burnt to a crisp. You can get active organizing against war as in, all out for March 18!
Or, you can stop reading the news (when I stop doing this you’ll know I’m either dead or senile).
But no matter what I try to do, certain information breaks through my fear barriers.
Bioweapons already unleashed upon the world scare me. Future potential for bioweapons we don’t even know about yet, ditto.
Massive, unusually prolonged earthquakes in less-than-cooperative NATO ally Turkiye following a week when a slew of Western diplomats mysteriously closed embassies there saying a terrorist attack was imminent. (Turkish President Erdogan responded to the diplomats leaving by accusing the West of a psyop or psychological manipulation to instill fear. Guess he was wrong on that one.)
Playing nuclear chicken with the Zaporizhia power plant under Russian occupation and Ukrainian bombardment scares me, as does the claim that a deliberate release of radioactive material in the vicinity of one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants will occur soon as a false flag event.
Oddly, though, what scares me the most is Ukraine war propaganda.
Liberals who are well-meaning but poorly informed have let my local peace community know that they believe Russia is kidnapping Ukrainian children and forcing them into camps for re-education. I clicked through to the petition with its rhetoric at fever pitch (“We can’t abandon Ukraine’s stolen children!”) and found it to be an entirely evidence-free claim. That is, not a shred of documentation, citations, or photographs was offered to support this alarming accusation.
In short, a perfect piece to teach teenagers how to spot propaganda — which I used to do for a living.
From the petition’s website:
Note that none of the bold face type above was linked to anything.
The only evidence offered in support is a photograph with no source and no identifying information.
Why do what appear to be fabrications in service of the U.S./NATO empire’s demonization of Russia scare me so much?
Remember I mentioned I was a history major which means I’ve spent a lot of of time studying what the prelude to wars looks like. And this is the image that immediately came to mind (trigger warning: artist’s rendering of violence against children):
Look familiar? It’s a staple of propaganda from WW1, supporting the claim that Germans were killing babies in Belgium using the bayonets on their rifles.
I also remembered that a similar claim used to whip up support for the first Gulf War, that Saddam Hussein’s forces threw premature infants out of incubators in Kuwait, was later proven false.
Fast forward to today. Children allegedly in Russian re-education camps is propaganda being spread by educated Democrats in my state who you might think would know better. They are on the Friends Committee for Maine Public Policy aka Quakers, who I grew up thinking were pacifists.
Now that even they are salivating for war with Russia, we’re in big trouble.
I have seen several videos said to be of Ukrainian children being trained as soldiers in neo-Nazi camps. Since the empire generally accuses others of its own crimes like harboring weapons of mass destruction, I suppose this is fitting.
As a friend thinking of Leni Reifenstahl said this morning: The bourgeoisie is ready to kill.
Yesterday’s gatherings to rage against the war machine in Maine were among the most interesting I’ve organized. Not only did we get a bunch of new people to fill in the ranks of those missing because they only oppose wars when a Republican is in the White House, but our participants were from a broad range of political parties and tendencies: Green Independent Party of Maine, Communist Party of Maine, Libertarian Party of Maine, and independents were all represented.
Two people said they were Republicans, while two others told me (separately) that they were registered Democrats but did not feel like the party represented their interests and were planning to unenroll.
One person came from New Hampshire to join us, while two others had come up from NYC as one of them has ties to Waterville, Maine.
Professors from the Maine College of Art in Portland and Colby College in Waterville were with us, plus someone who works at the University of New England.
Our messaging was varied and most signs or banners played on one of the nine demands we were organized around for raging on February 19:
Not One More Penny for War in Ukraine
Stop the War Inflation
Global Nuclear De-escalation
Slash the Pentagon Budget
Abolish War and Empire
Restore Civil Liberties
Free Julian Assange
In addition we had a sign made the night before at my house calling out the Biden administration on revelations by investigative reporter Sy Hersh that the Nordstream pipelines were bombed by U.S. and NATO nations working together under cover of so-called “war games.”
I saw another good sign on this theme in the coverage of the Rage event in Washington DC.
Estimates of that crowd range from 3,000-5,000 (crowds are notoriously hard to count). We had 20 in Bath and 15 in Westbrook, with some overlap. Many of the groups represented said their members had traveled to DC for the bigger rally. Honestly, as an anti-war organizer in Maine, I’m please when we have attendance in the double digits.
We also received coverage from Maine Public Radio and I just finished a follow-up radio interview this morning with the Ric Tyler/George Perry Show. Those two media outlets in Maine are as far apart ideologically as our group was. However, since the corporate media ignores us in these days of draconian narrative control, I’m willing to spread our message on whichever platforms are available. (Just to be clear, I don’t align politically with either of those media outlets.)
What’s next? March 18 is the date we agreed to meet again in Westbrook, where response was positive from many of the hundreds of cars that drove by in an hour.
Want to join us next time? Leave your email address in the comments and we’ll be in touch. Because we don’t have to agree on everything to stand together against the real possibility of a nuclear World War 3.
In a week of horrendously bad news mostly not covered by the corporate press — a train wreck in Ohio with a catastrophic chemical spill, and earthquake relief efforts hampered by U.S. sanctions on Syria — there was a little ray of light.
Young people in the U.S. do not want to join the Army.
Like, REALLY don’t want to.
Reporting on marketing-type research, Associated Press said that alleged “wokeness” bandied about in Congress as a reason has almost nothing to do with young people shunning enlistment.
The top reasons not to enlist were, in this order:
Fear of dying
Fear of PTSD
Not willing to leave friends and family
Not willing to put their life “on hold”
And 13% said they expected that women and people of color would experience discrimination in the Army.
Many young people do not know anyone in the Army and are unfamiliar with the jobs or benefits it offers. [Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, head of Army marketing] said trust in government institutions, including the military, has declined, particularly among this group.
“They just don’t perceive the Army as being in touch with the modern, everyday culture that they’re used to,” he said.
Fink said about 10% in the surveys say they do not trust military leadership, based on the way recent events or missions have been handled. That could include the Afghanistan withdrawal or use of the military during racial unrest and protests in the United States.
These surveys were conducted before the Super Bowl ran a misleading video about former NFL player Pat Tillman and his death in Afghanistan. Killed by friendly fire after he turned against the war? Oops, they forgot to mention that.
With WW3 against China and Russia at the same time gathering clouds on the horizon, it’s an inconvenient time for truth.
So Seymour Hersh’s article detailing the who, what, where, when, and why of the NordStream pipeline sabotage was either ignored or ridiculed by the corporate press. Except when the weasly spokesman for the U.S. State Department was directly challenged about it at a press conference.
Honestly, I’m surprised that Ned Price’s nose did not grow right on camera for these whoppers.
UK journalist Craig Murray commented on the silencing of the most accomplished investigative reporter of his generation in “Sy Hersh: The Way We Live Now“:
I learnt something very important about how the Big Lie works.
The secret is not that people genuinely believe an outrageous claim. The secret is that people do genuinely believe that they are in a battle of good against evil, and it is necessary to accept the narrative being promoted, in the interests of fighting evil.
Don’t question, just follow. If you do question, you are promoting evil.
I am sure that is how it works.
State and corporate stenographer journalists are actually intelligent individuals. If they thought about it, they would realise that the narrative that Russia blew up its own pipeline is obvious nonsense.
But they are convinced it is morally wrong to think about it.
Then a little more truth leaked out, this time over the Russiagate deception, in an article by reporter Jeff Gerth in a pretty mainstream publication, the Columbia Journalism Review. An excerpt:
it’s notable that Gerth got Bob Woodward, journalism’s original movie star, to go on record castigating the business over its Trump-Russia reporting. Woodward told Gerth he believed the coverage “wasn’t handled well,” and “urged newsrooms to ‘walk down the painful road of introspection.’” He also described to Gerth how he tried to warn “people who covered this” in the Washington Post newsroom away from certain stories, only to be met with shrugs. “To be honest, there was a lack of curiosity..
the legacy press is still mostly trying to ignore the CJR article. To be fair, dealing with its implications would require a cleanup/retraction process on a scale the business has probably never seen.
Bottom line: propagandists and former journalists can dick around all day telling half truths or denying real truths while still raking in big paychecks.
But young people asked to put their life on the line for the U.S. war machine are not easily fooled. And that is good news, indeed.
Seven years ago I published a list of sources I considered useful for gathering real news as opposed to repackaged Pentagon or State Department talking points posing as news.
The list is much shorter today. Venerables like Democracy Now! have succumbed to the lure of big money and as a result are cheerleading for proxy war in Ukraine. How the mighty have fallen.
With a particular focus on the ginning up of war against China, here’s my current list. The link will take you to an article or episode related to the U.S. pivot to Asia, but the whole publication is worthy of attention. In no particular order:
First off I just have to share the exciting news that my blog has an imposter! I consider this a great compliment in the sense that my contributions to a sane narrative on U.S. wars in general and the war in Ukraine in particular is a threat to the mainstream narrative managers. FBI? CIA? NSA? Who really knows. I usually think of my communications efforts as being small scale enough to fly under the radar, but this indicates that, as of September 2022, that’s no longer the case. Yay!
It’s been a great week overall as I had a very nice note from a board member at Bread & Puppet appreciating my letter to the editor defending B&P’s political theater and shining some light into the abyss of liberal support for the U.S./NATO war in Ukraine.
But there has also been a whole lot of pushback this week on my having organized a Feb 19 “Rage Against the War Machine” event in Maine where I live.
So far the cogent objections to the rally in DC that I have seen are:
o Libertarians are too racist to stand with against war. (If I accepted this I would have to cease doing much of anything political in Maine because there are many Libertarians among us.)
o Organizers failed to add anti-racist demands.
o Organizers failed to add bodily autonomy demands. Have seen this in connection with both pro-abortion and anti-vax activists.
o Some speakers are unacceptable. Probably the most high profile (at least today) is on again, off again, on again, off again Scott Ritter. Arguably the loudest voice against NATO’s war on Russia, Ritter is again being smeared with bogus claims he is a twice convicted pedophile. My response:
Ritter is to “pedophile” as Julian Assange is to “rapist.”
At our Maine event co-sponsored by Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Natural Guard, Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick, Communist Party of Maine, Libertarian Party of Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, and People’s Party of Maine, we will share the demands of the national event:
At our event, there will be no speakers. We are instead standing with signs and banners in two different busy intersections. We will be standing with folks who belong to groups that I dislike and strongly disagree with, for example, Democrats.
With WW3 underway and the distinct threat of it turning nuclear, I am willing to do that.
My fave blogger Caitlin Johnstone had this to say about the Feb 19 coalition controversy:
This evening I’ll be standing against racism in Portland in response to vicious attacks and threats against some Black leaders in our beloved community. I’ll be standing with a lot of people who are so confused that they support the war in Ukraine. Oh well. May they eventually come to see the light.
Corporate media will try very, very hard to make sure that they don’t. That’s why New Yorker magazine, the New York Times, and the Washington Post wouldn’t publish Seymour Hersch’s historic article about how the U.S. blew up the NordStream pipelines with Norway’s help, and they also won’t report on the article other than to say the White House is denying it. To discredit him, corporate media is dragging out all sorts of deep fakes like, Hersch also denied (correctly) that Syria used chemical weapons on its own people.
Hersch won a Pulitzer Prize for his expose of the My Lai massacre, and also broke the story on torture by U.S. Army personnel at Abu Graib prison in Iraq.
But now I expect we will soon be hearing about some sort of sex crime Hersch is alleged to have committed. Stay tuned.
Anti-racist blogger Shay Stewart-Bouley of Black Girl in Maine shared news of white backlash against Black History Month in the U.S. generally and targeting her specifically. She posted the above photo to social media platforms with her commentary and the predictable backlash from terrified, angry white people ensued.
Her analysis of the “It’s OK to be White” message is worth a read.
Coincidentally, my weekend kicked off with my 6 year old grandson sharing that he had watched Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier read a nasty letter she received and decided to publicize on social media.
(Note: I greatly appreciate my grandchildren’s parents for their active anti-racist educational efforts in our mostly white family.)
My grandson remembered Councilor Pelletier from the community television show we do together as he and his mom had been in the studio audience last year. As a young constituent of Portland’s 2nd District, he was concerned that people were “being mean” to Councilor Pelletier.
Yup, me too, and kudos to Pelletier for lifting the rock and showing us the ugly racism that she and other people of color face constantly when elected to public office.
All this on the weekend of the Chinese weather balloon theatrics.
White people locally, nationally, and internationally are expressing their perception of being backed into a corner where their power over others and control of common resources is eroding rapidly.
NATO, a white supremacist military alliance, has bombed, occupied, and pillaged populations around the globe. Now that Ukraine is being used in a proxy war to weaken China’s strongest ally, Russia, the violence is targeting whites — as it did in air strikes on Yugoslavia in the 1990’s.
But NATO and its U.S. masters are watching their economic power slip away.
This is what working class white people are experiencing domestically as well.
Arguments about fairness and equity fall on deaf ears. The fact that Black households in the U.S. have a mere 11% of the household wealth of white households doesn’t matter to these terrified white folks. They can’t afford enough food or heat and are panicking. Their healthcare options are pathetic, and access to luxuries like regular dental care are almost non-existent.
Media owned by billionaires have people in the U.S. trained to blame each other rather than the root of their common problems: corporate government that allows, even facilitates, profit from misery.
Example of a false dichotomy narrative common in the U.S.
Big Pharma and weapons manufacturers spring to mind but there are many more.
The U.S. doing business as NATO is panicking, too. The Ukraine war sanctions on Russia harmed Europe’s economy, not Russia’s, and hastened the abandonment of the U.S. dollar as a currency for international trade. Billions of dollars and weapons later, Ukraine’s military cannot prevail, and it has already lost in the humanitarian sense with neo-Nazis steering the ship of state.
Most likely the PR aspect of hyping this appearance of a hot air balloon (there have been many in the past, but did you ever hear about them?) was to create a pretext for U.S. Secretary of State Blinken to cancel his announced visit to Beijing to meet with President Xi. This small step toward peaceful relations with China had to be stopped by those who want war and are very rapidly arming up in the Pacific region.
White supremacy has had its day.
Delaying tactics are in some cases hastening its demise. Decisions made from fear are often not logical or ultimately beneficial to those making them.
It’s logical to be fearful of losing the major privilege accorded those who appear white. Although they play the victim, white privilege is very much something they benefit from all the time. Enslaving labor plus other plunder of colonized populations and their resources has created an artificial standard of living for white people that could never have endured on a level playing field.
So, as loss of status plus economic disaster overtakes this group, they lash out in myriad ways to stave off the inevitable.
From the micro level where leaders of color are insulted and threatened to the macro level where NATO moves nuclear weapons into place all over the globe and ramps up anti-China rhetoric, white people are running scared.
If imitation is a sincere form of flattery, here is my one-time attempt to imitate my friend JK’s terrifically useful mini-digest on Ukraine. Sent via email a few times a week, containing “information you are not likely to read/hear in the Western/U.S. media,” its author has identified the need for someone to do something similar for news on the war on China the U.S. is planning aka the Obama-Biden pivot to Asia.
I’m unqualified to take on this project because I don’t read Chinese or Japanese beyond the kindergarten level or any other East Asian languages. But, in the spirit of JK’s heroic communication efforts around the U.S. war on Russia, here goes.
(Note from LS: MUST READ. It’s a year old and long, but well worth your time to understand reality behind headlines like “China, Russia partner up against West at Olympics summit” by Reuters or “Russia and China unveil a pact against the West” in the New Yorker.)
Why export the misery to Guam? The indigenous population of Okinawa understands all too well what it’s like to live under Japanese imperialism. And taxpayers in Japan are by no means on board with ramping up military spending and abandoning Article 9 as the U.S. is demanding.
Instead, those who consume corporate media should expect to read more ranting from psychopaths like U.S. Air Force general Michael Minihan. He was in the news this week due to a memo (that the Pentagon disavowed, for what that’s worth) urging preparations for war with China which he predicted will be underway by 2025.
He ordered his underlings to practice shooting targets in the head to prepare.
He’s been quoted as believing that,
“[W]hen you can kill your enemy, every part of your life is better. Your food tastes better. Your marriage is stronger.”
No comment on what we’re all imagining about Minihan’s marriage.
Meanwhile another ex-Marine, weapons inspector Scott Ritter, shared his examination of the shift in U.S./NATO policy toward east Asia and also the “war-fighting domain” of outer space.
A recent statement by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) head Bill Nelson that the US was in a space race with China, when combined with recent moves by both the US and China to militarize space, could send the US on a policy trajectory that transforms established policy regarding space-based activities as being exclusively exploration-driven in nature, to one where conquest and domination become the dominating factors.
Why do I pay attention to these “coulds” when the clear and present danger of Ukraine escalating into a nuclear confrontation grows daily?
Because weakening Russia and overthrowing Putin is the first stage of the neocon plan to take out China as the U.S.’s only feasible economic competitor.
But the sanctions that were supposed to cripple Russia’s economy have instead strengthened it, and boomeranged on the economies of the U.S. and NATO nations.
Early indications are that sanctions on China are having a similar effect: weakening the dollar, and pushing the targeted nation toward more cooperation with others and diversification of its industrial capacity.
[Dutch tech manufacturer] ASML CEO Peter Wennink previously told CNBC that China accounted for around 15 percent of the company’s sales in 2022.
Wennink has said that any restrictions are unlikely to prevent China from building its own versions of the machines eventually. “If they cannot get those machines, they will develop them themselves,” Wennink told Bloomberg. “That will take time, but ultimately they will get there.”
On the Japanese side, the restrictions are expected to impact companies such as Nikon and Tokyo Electron.
As its old ally Germany has suffered under U.S. leadership from helping to conduct war on Russia via Ukraine, I think it’s reasonable to expect Japan to suffer from helping its old enemy conduct a proxy war on China via Taiwan.
Certainly Australians as traditional allies of the U.S. military empire are increasingly concerned about being targeted as a consequence of hosting bases and spying outposts on their soil, and of their economy unraveling if their extensive trade with China is disrupted. And some observers have speculated that neighboring New Zealand saw the recent resignation of PM Jacinda Ardern because she had lost the battle for Kiwis to remain neutral and nuclear-free.
In the U.S. we have half a million people unhoused and at risk of freezing to death this winter. We have 1 in 5 children growing up impoverished and hungry, and the federal government tells us there is no money for universal health care, student loan forgiveness, or to house and feed the people. Yet, at $858 billion for 2023, the military budget is at it highest point ever, and ominously increasing every year.
Historically, wars have caused untold suffering for populations who had little to no interest in pursuing them. War profiteers hijacked their governments and raked in profits while their people starved and died.
Democracy Now!, legacy alternative media for the latte left, has been repeatedly exposed as biased in favor of the U.S./NATO empire. But most who watch DN! cannot tolerate the cognitive dissonance to acknowledge this shift.
Credit for the title of my post — Democracy Then! Propaganda Now — goes to “Diogenes” who posted a version of it commenting on this discussion between Max Blumenthal, Aaron Mate and Randy Credico on The Grayzone’s YouTube channel.
A shorter version of the video can be found attached to this Grayzone tweet, but the longer version (11 or so minutes) is worth watching if only to see Julian Assange lied about to his face as he repeatedly denies the false charge that wikileaks said Donald Trump would be less dangerous as president than Hillary Clinton.
Count how many times Assange says “No, we didn’t” while DN!’s guest talks over him.
Summary of The Grayzone’s charges against Democracy Now!:
John Pilger told Blumenthal he was banned from DN! because their funder the Lannan Foundation did not like Pilger’s views
DN! was wrong on wikileaks & Julian Assange, and has never apologized
DN! was wrong on the Syrian war & the White Helmets
DN! was wrong on Russiagate, which it heavily promoted
DN! was wrong on alleged Uyghur genocide
DN! is wrong on the Ukraine war origins & goals, and clearly biased against Russia
The propaganda of the U.S. empire is, as many have observed, outstandingly effective.
It has split the antiwar movement in the U.S. by capturing many of their sources of information.
I once worked in marketing (for cars) and learned of the strong spending to build brand loyalty among college students. Because research shows that brand loyalties are formed when we are quite young and these loyalties are extremely resistant to change for most people.
This is why it’s effective to lure people into trusting a news outlet like Democracy Now! (or Common Dreams, or NPR, etc. — those are posts for another day). Once trust has been established, the slow drift toward supporting the imperial narrative can begin. Much like the frog in that pot of slowly warming water, most won’t notice and many will employ strong denial tactics to maintain that they’re not being boiled to death.
Some have identified the first sign of Democracy Now!’s rightward drift in their coverage of the unfortunate events of 9/11/01. Since the current nonstop warmongering of the U.S. kicked off using 9/11 as a pretext, that makes a lot of sense. But substantiating that claim would take more research than I have time for at the moment.
In the video you see a simulation of how the pressure wave from a nuclear explosion affects people in a building. Photo: Storyblocks
New computer simulation shows: How to hit the blow from an atomic bomb
UPDATED IDAG 03:47PUBLISHED IDAG 00:49
Those who are many kilometers from a nuclear explosion can manage indoors if they do right, a new study shows. – Take cover far into the building and stay away from windows, researchers say.
What is this bullshit?
Swedish television is presenting nuclear war as if it were winnable, limited, and survivable. Just stay away from the windows exactly like they told me in the 1960’s when I was climbing under my desk at school. It was a big fat lie then, and it’s exponentially more of a big fat lie now.
This spin is built on the central lie that “since the start of the Ukraine war, Russia has rattled its nuclear weapons.” In fact, the opposite is true. The Biden administration moved from following Trump in not signing the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to actually signaling from both government and corporate media channels that “limited” use of “tactical” nuclear weapons was indeed on the table.
Even more alarming than the posturing words of politicians, U.S. nuclear weapons and their delivery systems have been moving steadily into place in Eurasia and the Pacific, including Australia. Then there is the increasingly pro-nuke bellicose rhetoric of key U.S./NATO collaborators like Sweden, South Korea, and Japan. That is ominous.
Normalizing nukes is in no one’s best interest, including the uber wealthy that want to become the super uber wealthy by selling nuclear weapons.
Because they will die and suffer, too, even though they think they won’t.
Some truth from official sources has begun leaking out: Ukraine is losing in the NATO proxy war against Russia. Two Polish officials said so, Condoleeza Rice in the Washington Post said so, and the mainstream/lamestream press began admitting it as well. The wrong conclusion is that more weapons will ensure Ukrainian victory, but that did not stop the U.S. and NATO from pledging more weapons.
Ukraine’s government has come a bit unraveled this week with key advisor Oleksiy Arestovych resigning and then being arrested and put on the Mirotvorets kill list for (accidentally?) admitting that Ukraine caused a Russian missile to go off course and fall on an apartment building killing 44 civilians in Dnipro.
Then there was the mysterious crash of a helicopter carrying all the top officials of the Ministry of the Interior, an accident which killed all aboard plus some children from the kindergarten it fell on.
Next, the president of Ukraine addressed the World Economic Forum at Davos looking pale and strained and claiming to be uncertain whether the president of Russia is actually alive. (Cue the Twitter cocaine addict jokes. Of course substance use disorder is no joke for its sufferers, nor do most of us have any way of knowing if Zelensky is among them.)
But some things remain unchanged. Western cheerleaders of the war effort are falling all over themselves to pledge their support for “democracy” in a country that banned opposition parties and “free speech” in a country that banned the use of Russian, the first language spoken by many of its citizens. Ajamu Baraka’s essay in Black Agenda Report, “The Ukrainian Solidarity Network: The Highest Stage of White Western Social Imperialism” is well worth a read for the context to understand why alleged leftists are siding with the fascists at this time.
My photo of our vigil in Portland, Maine January 19, 2022
So, as part of a week of anti-imperialist and anti-war actions organized by members of UNAC for Martin Luther King, Jr. week (see the full list here) a hardy band of the unconfused stood in Portland, Maine yesterday at the evening commute.
We were on the second shift after a mid-day vigil in nearby Brunswick that occurs weekly. At that event a surprising number of passersby had expressed agreement with our anti-NATO stance remarking “Ukraine is the most corrupt country in Europe” or “Ukraine is full of Nazis” before the light changed and they drove away. This felt like a shift in public opinion, barely discernible but distinct from our past experiences with the public around this issue.
My photo of our vigil in Portland, Maine January 19, 2022
A few positive reactions in Portland were offset by a woman who rolled down her window to claim unspecified atrocities were happening at the hands of the Russian military and then shouted, “You should be ashamed!” before zooming off in her Tesla. Note: we were not ashamed to speak up for the truth as we understand it, Western propaganda on Ukraine notwithstanding.
I’m not sure when we’ll be back in Portland, but the hour-long vigil at 11:30am in front of the Tontine Mall in Brunswick will continue weekly for now.
What an apt metaphor was the top heavy, bare-assed national costume for Miss USA prior to her being crowned Miss Universe 2023. Videos of contestant R’Bonney Gabriel barely managing the unstable weight of U.S. imperial hubris amid plans to colonize the moon and achieve “Full Spectrum Dominance” in space did not meet any of my criteria for beauty. But of course that wasn’t really the point — exaltation of the mighty U.S. was.
The irony that a Filipino American woman would help glorify U.S. imperialism despite her ancestors having suffered brutal colonization by the U.S. in the Philippines is indicative of where we’re at in 2023; without an understanding of history, it can be difficult to detect irony at all.
Gabriel’s costume is a good visual companion to the unsustainable hubris fairly dripping from my last missive from Maine’s Senator Angus King.
No relation to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and, as a wealthy white man, seriously lacking MLK’s insight into the dangers of U.S. militarism, Senator King establishes the low quality of his response to my concerns about nuclear weapons by starting with a quote from…Ronald Reagan.
It goes downhill from there.
Notice how his aides have managed to compose an entire letter on the dangers of nuclear war without once mentioning either Ukraine or Russia. (Or, for that matter, China.) We are meant to decode for ourselves threats it does name: “malign actors” and “potential adversaries.” Quite a feat of obfuscation, wouldn’t you say?
King watchers note, however, that our senator recently traveled to Ukraine and met with the president there, did the obligatory photo op, and made remarks comparing Russian Federation President Putin to Hitler.
King is not a stupid person nor an ignorant one, but he is willfully overlooking the strong presence of actual neo-Nazis in Ukraine’s government and military. He was also quoted while in Ukraine as saying, “Putin has made it very clear his overall goal is to establish the Soviet Union.” That is a bald faced lie, but he’s counting on the ignorance of his audience back in the U.S. to accept it without question.
Does King have his own imperial ambitions? Perhaps to run for president of the U.S. after helping to funnel billions into the coffers of weapons corporations? Stay tuned.
Historians among us might also take a look at this 2014 story about riding on a nuclear submarine under Arctic ice as the Arctic is another area of special interest for King. The story is quite revealing about U.S.-NATO intentions (on Russia’s extensive northern border, but for heavens sake don’t admit that).
As a high school teacher 15 years ago, I showed students the Laura Poitras documentary on Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing and subsequent hair raising escape. They enjoyed the film but were mystified at the excitement. What was the big deal about Snowden’s revelations? they asked me.
It was a big deal because he revealed that the telecom corporations were spying on everybody, I told them.
The reaction of teenagers the second decade of the 21st century? Duh, which is Homer Simpson-speak for only a complete idiot didn’t know that already.
Now I feel like the Twitter files are at least as significant but much of my generation views this as another giant Duh.
Social media platforms are censoring our speech quietly behind the scenes, so what?
In fact it is a huge revelation that numerous government employees (including the delightfully named Elvis Chan of the FBI’s Las Vegas office) spent untold hours of their taxpayer-funded time insisting that Twitter silence dissent. Elvis and the others did this rather than engaging in the law enforcement we’re told the FBI exists to do.
Liberals have gotten quickly caught up in the personalities around the Twitter files dump of internal data — and it’s easy to do. It would appear that billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter for the purpose of revealing the private messages of work colleagues discussing how to handle the U.S. government’s increasing demands for 1) intervention in the debate about the pandemic and how best to respond and 2) intervention in the 2020 presidential election. The sequence of those two interventions is not without significance.
Also, some of the journalists Musk selected to work with are conservative. One exception is investigative reporter Matt Taibbi (who used to publish in Rolling Stone before it was captured by the security state now infiltrating most legacy media). Since Musk is himself a wealthy conservative who thinks it’s okay to overthrow governments of nations with large reserves of the elements needed to make his electric cars, no surprises there. But let’s not fail to understand that Twitter has been systematically silencing not only far-right voices but politically left voices as well. (Silencing both is probably fine with liberals who have monumentally failed to stick up for speech that doesn’t align with their views.)
According to the journalists, they received a large dump of internal communications from Twitter and the only constraints they agreed to on their reporting was the requirement that they “break” their stories on Twitter before publishing elsewhere.
So far this reporting has brought us news of how Twitter worked to suppress the entirely true story of Hunter Biden’s laptop and its contents implicating Senator Joe Biden in corrupt business deals in Ukraine prior to his election as president; how Twitter silenced numerous medical researchers and clinical practitioners debating as scientists do about a novel virus; and how Twitter began designating accounts as “_______ state-affiliated media” where you fill in the blank of the enemy du jour of the U.S. empire.
Some have downplayed the significance of this quiet censorship for years saying, Twitter (or Facebook) is a company not the government so it cannot by definition be in violation of the 1st amendment right to freedom of speech. But what if government was actually pulling the levers of speech repression from behind the scenes?
What if the FBI paid Twitter $3.41 million to censor speech?
Others have made the argument: so what, Facebook is much worse. And indeed Twitter users for a long time cherished the mistaken belief that their favorite platform, the digital town square where ideas were supposedly shared and debated openly (as the founder of Twitter claims was the goal), was in fact free and open. Twitter was the respectable social media platform, the intelligent choice, where policy makers and journalists and the public who were paying attention gathered.
Not everyone believes as I do that information control is the ball to keep your eyes on.
Just look at the war in Ukraine. Information management has all corporate media cheering for our proxy war against Russia, and those of us who dare to dissent find our accounts canceled, with the videos on our YouTube and Vimeo channels disappeared. Despite having tens of thousands of followers; or, perhaps, precisely because the canceled accounts had built up a large number of followers.
Did I mention that the corporate media have pretty much ignored the Twitter Files?
Interest on Twitter itself is strong, however, and likely to remain so as we anticipate the next reveal.
If you’re still not sure that ideas are as powerful as facts on the ground, consider the current campaign to make you believe that a nuclear war is either survivable or winnable. President Biden has said a first-strike with nukes is on the table, a table likely to be reduced to smoldering radioactive ash as WW3 ensues.
I made a colossal blunder yesterday when I described this Ukrainian flag in the hands of the U.S. Vice President and Speaker of the House as being signed by members of Congress. My bad. The flag is actually signed by Ukrainian soldiers and was presented by, not to, President Zelensky.
What Congress actually gave him was a standing ovation.
And the promise of another $44 billion or so for Ukrainians to keep fighting our proxy war against Russia.
Blogger Caitlin Johnstone published a good piece today examining the contradiction between claiming Russia’s entry into the war was “unprovoked” and simultaneously claiming that this war is the perfect opportunity for the U.S. to weaken Russia without a single U.S. soldier freezing or dying.
Notwithstanding the fact that vast numbers of children in poverty are freezing as climate chaos sends temperatures + wind chill plunging into the negative numbers in Texas and the Deep South. And never mind the millions in the U.S. who’ve died without adequate or any health care while Congress goes ka-ching for Raytheon, which just announced a new $412.6 million contract from the Air Force.
Looks like support for Ukraine pays off handsomely!
That weapons manufacturers are showing robust growth while the rest of the stock market is in a slump, and climate crisis largely fueled by militarism spirals out of control, is a snapshot of the state of U.S. empire as 2022 draws to a close.
A hardy band of boomers stood out in snowy Portland, Maine, USA on Sunday at a vigil for peace that recognized the U.S./NATO war against Ukraine is really a war on Russia.
Publicity for the event made it clear that would be our focus, and requested no flags. If only 10 people in the “peace community” of Maine could stand with us on this basis, so be it.
As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, I’m reminded of this wisdom he shared before the U.S. government assassinated him:
Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks: is it politic? Vanity asks: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, politic nor popular – but simply because it is right.
This where the few of us not confused by government propaganda find ourselves these days. I wrote about it here as a guest post for my friend Pat Taub’s blog:
As a blogger I enjoy hearing from readers even when they disagree with me. It’s an indication of reader engagement if someone takes the time to offer a critique.
So, I was glad to hear from an old friend in response to a recent blog post of mine. “Tale of Two Broken Accords: Oslo And Minsk,” written during the recent COP27 climate conference. It was my reflection on how international agreements are often achieved with great effort and announced with great fanfare only to be cast aside.
My friend wrote:
“Lisa: Am I misunderstanding something, or have you become an apologist for Vladimir Putin?”
I have old friends from many walks of life but relatively few who stand beside me in objecting to U.S. wars. This friend, however, was part of the original In Spite of Life Players putting on satirical political plays each 4th of July here in Athens, Maine. These plays routinely lampooned propaganda and U.S. imperial ambitions.
The author appearing as “Senator Susan Snow” in a past 4th of July play
I wrote back:
“If you’d been reading my blog you’d know that I reject the “Putin bad” analysis of the RAND-inspired war on Russia by NATO, with the endgame taking out China’s powerful ally. If that were to be accomplished (i.e., regime change and break up of Russia), Taiwan is sure to become the next Ukraine.
At least in Taiwan the U.S. will not have to arm and otherwise support neo-Nazis. Maybe old Japanese Empire collaborators instead? It’s disappointing that you seem to be ill-informed about what’s going on. May I ask what sources of information you rely on to understand global politics? It’s a sincere question.”
This is a person with a huge collection of books about history and politics and I was reminded about that. But books necessarily lag behind other media in interpreting current events, and I was more interested in what news outlets they were relying on to form opinions.
The New York Times, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Harpers, The Atlantic, and television news were on their list, all of which my friend described as “Mainstream/Lamestream Media.”
But then came the real kicker.
“I’d like to think that I would have the intellectual humility/integrity to reconsider my positions if I found myself espousing the views of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Mike Flynn, and Kevin McCarthy.”
My friend was afraid of being associated with right wing influencers and was warning me of the danger of sounding like I agreed with them!
Will my friend expand their reading following our dialogue? I like to think so but who knows. (Something I’ve found interesting about liberals’ strong disagreement with me over Ukraine is that, when I was running for the U.S. Senate in 2020, they loved my foreign policy analysis in debates.)
The author, Maine’s Green Party candidate for the US Senate, during the 2020 debates
There is strong pressure to conform to the group one identifies with – in this case, critics of the media outlets who promoted the rise of 45. So-called legacy media relentlessly associated 45 with Russian President Putin for years, and the transition from hating 45 to hating Putin was a short trip for many. It has blinded them to the facts on the ground in Ukraine.
How did the rebels of the boomer generation become so conformist? Maybe a joke will help:
Two passengers are flying to New York. The American turns to the Russian and asks, “Why are you coming to America?”
“To study U.S. propaganda.”
Pat shared a comment she received on my guest post:
This was not worth offering a window into her thinking nor a contribution to any debate that defends one country attacking another with out provocation and murdering thousands. Her comments are drivel. This action by Putin is not up for debate. I and many of my friends have been donating to Ukraine so they may survive. I can’t believe a thinking person has another point of view.
If you can’t believe a thinking person has another point of view from yours, maybe you aren’t as much of a thinking person as you think you are.
We’ve all be wrong lots of times; the question is, are we willing to examine our beliefs and sometimes change them in light of new evidence?
From new-to-us, more reliable sources than corporate sources that parrot U.S. press releases.
Pro-tip: if your news source uses the word “unprovoked” about Russia intervening after years of Ukraine killing thousands of Russian-speakers in the Donbas border region, you’re definitely reading U.S. government propaganda. (Ditto China’s alleged “threat” to world peace — but that’s a post for another day.)
If you see someone with a sign like this, maybe ask them what they’re currently reading.
This is a really depressing post, so let’s get to it before the longest, darkest day of the year is upon us a week from now.
What got me started down this dark path is the news that presumed CIA spook Anne Sacoolas failed to appear for trial in the UK after she killed teenager Harry Dunn. The victim was doing nothing wrong, simply riding his motorcycle along on the road near RAF Croughton, used by the Pentagon as a spying outpost.
Sacoolas, with typical imperial hubris, was driving on the wrong side of the road.
Probably a simple tragic accident but Sacoolas turned it to a real crime by fleeing the country. It has taken Dunn’s family three years to have their day in court but they were denied the opportunity to see justice: Sacoolas was acquitted of driving dangerously, convicted of driving carelessly, and received a paltry 8 month sentence which she will not have to serve if she kills no other kids in the coming year. Even if she did, the UK appears unable and/or unwilling to have her extradited to face charges.
Her attorney’s explanation for Sacoolas’ failure to appear in court and hasty departure from the country following the accident: “diplomatic immunity.” According to Sky News:
The court heard that she had been advised by American officials not to fly to the UK, as her return “could place significant US interests at risk”.
If one of Sacoolas’ own three children is murdered someday, I’m sure she will understand that U.S. interests will receive higher priority than bringing the family some justice.
Okay, so one evil lady and her enabling government. What’s the other evidence for my claim?
How about the news — being treated as a blockbuster exposé — that teenagers in places like Detroit, Michigan (i.e. low income with a high proportion of students who are Black or otherwise of color) are enrolled in JROTC programs without their consent. Told if they ask that this Pentagon program requiring them to wear military uniforms and be shouted at by military personnel posing as “teachers” is mandatory. Which is a lie, but if your guidance counselor in 9th grade won’t change your schedule after you request it, becomes a de facto truth.
I know you will be shocked to learn that the textbooks used in middle school and high school JROTC programs paint a rosy picture of the U.S. worldwide empire of military bases. And the intentions behind them.
If I’m not shocked it’s because as a high school teacher for many years I organized against the presence of military recruiters in the lunch room, their access to students during the school day, and the allegedly mandatory ASFAB test harvesting demographic and knowledge base info on teenagers without parental consent. My state does have JROTC programs also though I never taught at a school that had one.
When you look up groomers in the dictionary what you should see is a military recruiter handing a teenager the gift of a cell phone. But, this word has been hijacked by right-wingers claiming teachers are trying to turn students gay or trans.
Speaking of groomers, let’s talk about Jeffrey Epstein’s little black book of contacts none of whom have been outed or charged for actual pedophile crimes. Grooming is a key component of convincing teen girls to have sex with old, powerful men and the currently incarcerated Ghislaine Maxwell was in charge of that operation.
It’s generally understood that Epstein (who supposedly committed suicide in prison when the guards fell asleep and the security cameras malfunctioned) and Maxwell worked for Mossad. Israel’s international spy agency functions as an integral if secretive part of the U.S. imperial system of coercion. (Though NATO’s war against Russia may be weakening this alliance.)
The black book names we do know about, most prominently Prince Andrew of the UK royal family, were only revealed because individual victims like the immensely brave Virginia Giuffre pursued legal action against her rapist. Before Queen Elizabeth II died the monarch had stripped Andrew of his honors and titles, and had UK taxpayers shell out a settlement presumed to be enormous.
Of course teenage girls in nations invaded by imperial troops do not even need to be groomed.
the U.S. is now joining chief thief Israel in illegally occupying land belonging to Palestinian families in Jerusalem;
or, if you prefer,
in addition to stealing land for military bases (e.g. Okinawa, Somalia) and oil theft (e.g. Syria, Iraq), the U.S. now plans to steal land in Jerusalem to construct an embassy.
The advent of neoliberal faker Joe Biden as POTUS has done nothing to halt U.S. enabling of Israel’s violent occupation of the West Bank and bombing of blockaded Gaza. Remember when he told a roomful of oligarchs “nothing will change”? Following on the heels of the most pro-Israel president ever, Biden has in fact kept many of 45’s bad policies in place.
Building an embassy on Palestinian land in Jerusalem is the icing on the cake.
“unshakeable U.S. commitment to Israel’s security, and especially to the maintenance of its qualitative military edge [emphasis mine]”
“The United States further reiterates that these commitments are bipartisan and sacrosanct [emphasis mine]”
(One might wonder how a Democratic administration can pledge the support of Republicans. Or, one might have long since concluded that both the D and the R parties are wings of the same imperial government in service to corporate business interests.)
The statement also contained some astonishing hypocrisy:
“the United States and Israel affirm that among the values the countries share is an unwavering commitment to democracy, the rule of law..[emphasis mine]”
Israel is and has long been an apartheid state with full rights for its Jewish citizens — and even its foreign settlers as long as they profess the correct religion. It detains, tortures, and executes Palestinians, including children, regularly. In May an Israeli military sniper assassinated a U.S. citizen, journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, well-known as an Al Jazeera t.v. correspondent for decades. Succumbing to pressure to investigate the murder of a U.S. citizen by a foreign military, last month the Biden administration announced the FBI will investigate the incident. Not holding their breath for that outcome, Al Jazeera Media Network has requested that the International Criminal Court investigate and prosecute those responsible.
As for the U.S. “commitment to democracy” and “the rule of law” one has only to look at its many coups toppling elected governments (e.g. Ukraine 2014, Australia 1975, Iran 1953) to bely that claim. And the destruction and looting of Iraq beginning in 2003 is emblematic of what the U.S. means when it proclaims it values the rule of law. Or maybe persecution of journalist Julian Assange would be a clearer example of how little the U.S. cares for the law?
Three paragraphs in, we get to the heart of the matter:
The United States stresses that integral to this pledge is the commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome. The United States further affirms the commitment to work together with other partners to confront Iran’s aggression and destabilizing activities..
The U.S. is building new nuclear weapon systems as fast as it can since the Obama administration’s green light, and Israel pretends not to have nuclear weapons though everyone knows it does. But it’s Iran that’s the threat! 45 scuttled the U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement and Biden, despite campaign promises to restore it, is letting the JCPOA sink to the bottom of the sea.
Iran is indeed a threat to U.S. ambitions in Syria where the theft of oil proceeds apace.
So Israel, the wealthiest of nations, receives billions from U.S. taxpayers each year as credit to buy weapons that further enrich the oligarchy that owns and operates Congress and the White House.
Stealing from Palestinians to construct an embassy in Jerusalem is arguably the least of U.S. crimes against an occupied people. By contrast, 45’s closure of the U.S. Consultate General for the Palestinians in Jerusalem remains in effect.
But the land theft for an embassy is highly symbolic of the dangerous alliance between two aggressive nuclear powers.
It’s an alliance the U.S. will go to great lengths to support as the lure of cooperating with Russia beckons amid the global economic meltdown over sanctioned energy supplies and soaring prices.
About a zillion years ago, I earned a history degree from Bowdoin College. I was a scholarship student and incurred some debt, but the price of a college education had not yet climbed into the stratosphere (currently $78,300 per annum).
Today I live in another part of Maine but I often go to Brunswick to vigil for peace near my old campus. Yesterday, I attended the third in a series of talks on Ukraine.
Sponsored by the college’s Russian Department the lecture was, as advertised, an opportunity to bash the Russian Federation. Although I did not attend the first two lectures in the series, several friends did and reported back on delivery of a seamless CIA narrative on Ukraine (seamless except for my friends’ comments during Q & A that is).
On November 18, I had a letter to the editor published in the student paper The Orient on the problem of one-sided information control at a liberal arts college:
I see the college is hosting a series of lectures on Russia-Ukraine, the first of which was already held (virtually) on October 27 when Ukrainian scholar Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed delivered “Russia’s War On Ukraine: Culture, Memory, Politics.”
I missed the lecture, so I can’t be sure how much the Orient’s coverage omitted, but I was troubled by Shpylova-Saeed’s neglect of historical context. She is quoted as saying, “There was very little understanding of what Ukraine was back in 2014,” but I doubt that she is unaware of the CIA’s involvement in a coup that year overthrowing Ukraine’s elected government. That event is well-documented, including the involvement of the U.S., and led directly to the civil war in which tens of thousands died prior to 2022. One may disagree with Russia’s entry into the conflict or argue about its motivations, but to ignore the context entirely while focusing on the “big man theory” that “bad Putin” is responsible for all of the death and suffering in Ukraine is silly.
Ironically, Senior Lecturer in Russian Reed Johnson was quoted as saying of the lecture series, “[we] feel very strongly about the importance of talking and teaching about these events so there’s a better understanding of that context, how we got here.”
May it be so.
Last night’s lecture was similarly disappointing.
Leon Kogan, a Boston College lecturer, titled his talk “Blame it on Pushkin: Rethinking Russian Culture During the War in Ukraine.” The textual focus was a recent poem by Andrey Orlov, “I’ve read to the middle the list of ships,” which Kogan read in Russian while projecting his own translated version in English. (I would love to give you a link to the poem, but I am unable to find one.)
The poet had employed a ships metaphor assigning various (all male) cultural heroes of Russia such as Pushkin, Dostoevsky, et al. and some cultural icons like ballet, to indict Russian imperialism. Kogan deconstructed the poem for us and introduced a related concept from Hannah Arendt about the responsibility of even passive people for the crimes of their empire.
I thought this was highly relevant to those of us sitting in the largest empire on the planet.
My comment to that effect was scoffed at by Kogan.
Two of my friends offered context on the notion of Russia’s alleged imperial designs i.e. the CIA-sponsored coup in Ukraine in 2014, and relentless NATO expansion since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Predictably, these truths were characterized as “conspiracy theories.”
One of my friends distributed a Ukraine issue of Peace & Planet News that we’d brought along. He was warned by a Bowdoin professor that he was “abusing the privilege” of attending the lecture series. “Aren’t they public meetings?” he asked the prof. “They are for now,” she replied.
(This suggests that Bowdoin may go the direction of nearby Bath Iron Works which has steadily restricted access to their public events over the years in response to our truth telling there.)
As an alumna I could probably still wangle an invite. It’s worth the effort because my audience is not a visiting lecturer who’s busy kissing the NATO ring.
Cherishing the hope that I had helped introduce a glimmer of doubt about the prevailing narrative in the minds of even one of the students who were present, I went home satisfied.
I suppose by now we’ve all seen the video of Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of U.S. empire vassal state Canada, schooled by Xi Jinping at the G20 conference in Bali. Because details of their previous private talk had been leaked to the press, the Chinese President was annoyed and expressed it. Trudeau did not even bother to let the interpreter finish translating what Xi said before spouting some talking points he had memorized. To summarize, Trudeau looks forward to warm, mutually beneficial relations with China.
Xi: “Then create the conditions.”
Trudeau’s talking points sounded a lot like those of U.S. President Biden in his private meeting with Xi. According to the Associated Press, “Biden said that when it comes to China, the U.S. would ‘compete vigorously, but I’m not looking for conflict’ and ‘I absolutely believe there need not be a new Cold War.'” He also claimed not to support Tawan independence, and to have no desire to contain Beijing.
Based on recent history, these are hollow words and empty slogans which we have no reason to believe. Not a day goes by without government-sponsored media in the West denigrating China and sabre-rattling over Taiwan (for example, here’s AP’s lead: “President Joe Biden objected directly to China’s ‘coercive and increasingly aggressive actions’ toward Taiwan during the first in-person meeting of his presidency with Xi Jinping.”)
Presumably the core purpose of the meeting was to peel away China’s support of Russia’s defense of Crimea and the Donbas region. I doubt that happened. They did reportedly agree nukes should not be used in Ukraine.
At G20, Canada got the lecture. The times they are a changin’.
Meanwhile, countries are clamoring to join economic cooperation group BRICS and say goodbye to dependence on the U.S. dollar. The economic sanctions the U.S. has wielded against those countries have been coming home to roost, and Russia and China (the R and C in BRICS) are already using their own currencies to for energy transactions.
Pepe Escobar’s “Goodbye G20, Hello BRICS+” in The Cradle is well worth a read as a nation-by-nation analysis of who’s leaving the West-dominated structures of capitalism behind and embarking on new cooperative agreements among the Global South. That link is blocked by Google this morning, but maybe your browser will let you access it. I was able to get back there on my phone to pull this quote on the G20’s final statement:
The collective west, including the Japanese vassal state, was bent on including the war in Ukraine and its “economic impacts” — especially the food and energy crisis — in the statement. Yet without offering even a shade of context related to NATO expansion. What mattered was to blame Russia — for everything.
It was up to this year’s G20 hos Indonesia — and the next host, India — to exercise trademark Asian politeness and consensus building. Jakarta and New Delhi worked extremely hard to find wording that would be acceptable to both Moscow and Beijing.
Call it the Global South effect.
Some analysts have noted that China is steadily divesting from investments in dollars as a sign of one great power descending while another ascends.
Another milestone came as China came ahead of the U.S. in an international chip research venue. According to Yuki Okoshi reporting in Nikkei Asia:
This is the first time China has taken the top spot in papers accepted by the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), which is considered the Olympics of the semiconductor sector. The annual event opens in February in San Francisco.
This occurs in the context of the U.S., home to international scholars for decades now, losing researchers as brains drain back to China.
A survey by the Asian American Scholar Forum of roughly 1,300 Chinese American scientific researchers in the U.S. who are involved in computer science and engineering, math, and other sciences..found that 72% did not feel safe as an academic researcher, 61% had thought about leaving the U.S., and 65% were worried about collaborations with China..
Some scientists of Chinese origin employed by U.S. universities who have used federal grant money to conduct research in the past are reluctant to apply again: 45% of the AASF study participants..
My interpretation of what Xi said to Trudeau is: Respect us if you want to work with us. Disrespect will get you nowhere and you are no longer in a position to act like that.
My interpretation of what Biden said to Xi: Here is a bunch of empty blather we both know conceals the salient facts on the ground. Subtext: We’ve got you surrounded.
Following international climate summit COP26 in Glasgow, with a parallel People’s Summit I participated in, the focus on military emissions and their lethal undercount has faded in the war fever of the alleged battle for “democracy” and “freedom” in Ukraine.
COP27, held in the especially brutal police state of Egypt (thanks, “Arab Spring” color revolution) was swarmed by both fossil fuel lobbyists and private jets.
Activists temporarily blocked private jets from taking off for Egypt from Amsterdam as an expression of the new climate focus that says billionaires and their greenhouse gas emissions are THE problem.
Multi-millionaires who “lead” the big weapon systems manufacturers are THE problem when it comes to climate. Because the revolving door between U.S. government and the military-industrial complex is always spinning, and this ensures non-stop spending on war planes and bombs which both contribute massively to climate disaster. (And that’s just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg.)
I’ve been following this thread for years and compiling a collection of links I find especially useful. Groups like the Veterans for Peace Climate Crisis and Militarism Project and researchers like Dr. Neta Crawford continue to focus on the military aspect of the larger climate problem: wealthy nations cause the crisis while people living the Global South suffer the most dire impacts.
CEOBS researchers have taken on the task of monitoring military emissions by nation, reporting on this in a database we can all use.
Since U.S. military spending is so excessive compared with all other nations, it’s not surprising that the Pentagon fears what the chart at the top of this blog post would look like if military emissions were included in the national total.
It used to be said that the first casualty of war is truth but, in the 21st century,
Following international climate summit COP26 in Glasgow, with a parallel People’s Summit I participated in, the focus on military emissions and their lethal undercount has faded in the war fever of the alleged battle for “democracy” and “freedom” in Ukraine.
COP27, held in the especially brutal police state of Egypt (thanks, “Arab Spring” color revolution) was swarmed by both fossil fuel lobbyists and private jets.
Activists temporarily blocked private jets from taking off for Egypt from Amsterdam as an expression of the new climate focus that says billionaires and their greenhouse gas emissions are THE problem.
Multi-millionaires who “lead” the big weapon systems manufacturers are THE problem when it comes to climate. Because the revolving door between U.S. government and the military-industrial complex is always spinning, and this ensures non-stop spending on war planes and bombs which both contribute massively to climate disaster. (And that’s just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg.)
I’ve been following this thread for years and compiling a collection of links I find especially useful. Groups like the Veterans for Peace Climate Crisis and Militarism Project and researchers like Dr. Neta Crawford continue to focus on the military aspect of the larger climate problem: wealthy nations cause the crisis while people living the Global South suffer the most dire impacts.
CEOBS researchers have taken on the task of monitoring military emissions by nation, reporting on this in a database we can all use.
Since U.S. military spending is so excessive compared with all other nations, it’s not surprising that the Pentagon fears what the chart at the top of this blog post would look like if military emissions were included in the national total.
It used to be said that the first casualty of war is truth.
In the 21st century, the first casualty of war might be climate.
Not since the days when I helped plan satirical plays for a gravel pit in West Athens, Maine have I laughed so hard. The simultaneous meltdown of Twitter’s ability to verify its high profile users and the resulting outburst of creative fun have been a welcome relief from the relentless bad news of the day: bait-and-switch on a few crumbs of student loan forgiveness, simultaneous CIA regime change operations aimed at Russia, China, and Iran, and cold weather approaching while hundreds of thousands in the U.S. are without homes.
The closest thing the U.S. empire has to an emperor is the SpaceX CEO, a man who inexplicably bought a highly successful social media platform in order to .. run it into the ground? It’s likely he thought it would bend to his will because, hey, he’s a billionaire and that’s how things work. But it turns out that’s not how free or even partially free speech works.
In a shocking revelation that legitimacy cannot be purchased (who would have guessed?) the sale of the blue check mark quickly turned into a free for all where, as one wag put it, kids spent their lunch money to impersonate Fortune 500 companies. And this tanked their stocks!
Another thrilling example of an evil, bloodsucking corporation lampooned financially with humor:
Verification on sale for $7.99 a month quickly led to a hall of mirrors as accounts scrambled to claim to be who they said they were (or weren’t, as the case may be).
Needless to say, the emperor himself came in for a lot of impersonation as did his once valuable platform.
Social media is a newish phenomenon, unlike building cars or even rocket ships. But one of its most well-established tenets is: if you’re getting a service for free, then YOU are the product. Because the owners of the platform can sell access to you to their advertisers. Charging you to be the product exhibits the confusion of those who think anything can be monetized to their advantage.
Did I mention that while taking an ax to the free-content-from-famous-people model that built Twitter, the new owner also decided to fire 50% of the workers? The speed with which this was done violated labor laws in several states.
And the new normal at Twitter may entail generating income by selling users’ personal data in ways that are prohibited by law. But not to worry — the emperor’s personal lawyers assured his remaining employees that they would be safe from legal repercussions if they followed his orders. I doubt that many of Twitter’s remaining workers were dumb enough to fall for that.
It takes a special kind of wealth and worldly success to engender the hubris to make these kinds of blunders.
Did I mention that the emperor also tweeted the day before the midterms to vote Republican? But, like many of his tweets as supreme leader of the bird, he took that one back down.
Pessimists are predicting that, without the terminated software engineers to keep the bird aloft, it will lose more feathers each day until it eventually sinks to Earth. Notwithstanding the fact that many who were fired were offered their jobs back almost immediately, you won’t be surprised to hear that many considered themselves well out of the chaos and declined. (A slew of top executives were either fired or resigned, too.)
Free speech used to mean oration and publishing in the press. Then social media came along offering a ton of freedom and reach until the tech bros got cozy with government and began restricting the flow of information quietly, behind the scenes. The emperor’s need to brag went against this tacit agreement about how things are done. He was supposedly good at making money but his new attire reveals his butt hanging out there, slowly twisting in the wind.
I’m old enough to know that most things come to an end no matter how much you love them. The In Spite of Life Players retired from the gravel pit to be seen no more. I still miss them, and I will miss Twitter.
The U.S. has always been an incredibly violent society. Founded on genocide of Native people (ongoing to this day) and slavery (ditto), what chance was there for us to not turn Armistice Day into Veterans Day?
The survivors of the first industrialized war, one where even the wealthy sent their sons to be slaughtered, did not think the price of an entire generation of young men worth it. How many believed they were sending their beloveds off to stop barbarity in its tracks? How many knew that the fight had broken out over competition for the rich colonies of the rapidly failing Ottoman Empire?
As my friend Abby’s grandmother said after returning home from organizing against incipient World War I, the whole thing was about Mosul Oil.
As an adult on 9/11, I watched my own country turn into a jingoistic herd of war mad flag wavers.
Youngsters who remember nothing of that day know this: you dare not be called unpatriotic. Support the troops became a posture that no official hoping to be elected could afford to omit.