Archive for the ‘Political Philosophy’ Category

Tomgram: Mark Engler, How to Rule the World After Bush

May 19, 2008

Tomgram: Mark Engler, How to Rule the World After Bush

A mere eight months to go until George W. Bush and Dick Cheney leave office — though, given the cast of characters, it could seem like a lifetime. Still, it’s a reasonable moment to begin to look back over the last years — and also toward the post-Bush era. What a crater we’ll have to climb out of by then!

My last post, “Kiss American Security Goodbye,” was meant to mark the beginning of what will, over the coming months, be a number of Bush legacy pieces at Tomdispatch. So consider that series officially inaugurated by Foreign Policy in Focus analyst Mark Engler, who has just authored a new book that couldn’t be more relevant to our looming moment of transition: How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy.

The question Engler is curious to have answered is this: If Bush-style “imperial globalization” is rejected in January, what will American ruling elites try to turn to — Clinton-style economic globalization? Certainly, as Engler points out, many in the business and financial communities are now rallying to the Democrats. After all, while John Edwards received the headlines this week for throwing his support behind Barack Obama, that presidential candidate also got the nod from three former Securities and Exchange Commission chairmen — William Donaldson, David Ruder, and Clinton appointee Arthur Levitt Jr. The campaign promptly “released a joint statement by the former SEC chiefs, as well as former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, that praised Obama’s ‘positive leadership and judgment’ on economic issues.”

The United States, however, is a very different creature than it was in the confident years when these men rode high. Now, the world is looking at things much differently. Let Engler explain… Tom

Globalizers, Neocons, or…?

The World After Bush
By Mark EnglerPicture January 20, 2009, the day George W. Bush has to vacate the Oval Office.

It’s easy enough to imagine a party marking this fine occasion, with antiwar protestors, civil libertarians, community leaders, environmentalists, health-care advocates, and trade unionists clinking glasses to toast the end of an unfortunate era. Even Americans not normally inclined to political life might be tempted to join the festivities, bringing their own bottles of bubbly to the party. Given that presidential job approval ratings have rarely broken 40% for two years and now remain obdurately around or below 30% — historic lows — it would not be surprising if this were a sizeable celebration.

More surprising, however, might be the number of people in the crowd drinking finer brands of champagne. Amid the populist gala, one might well spot figures of high standing in the corporate world, individuals who once would have looked forward to the reign of an MBA president but now believe that neocon bravado is no way to run an empire.

One of the more curious aspects of the Bush years is that the self-proclaimed “uniter” polarized not only American society, but also its business and political elites. These are the types who gather at the annual, ultra-exclusive World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and have their assistants trade business cards for them. Yet, despite their sometime chumminess, these powerful few are now in disagreement over how American power should be shaped in the post-Bush era and increasing numbers of them are jumping ship when it comes to the course the Republicans have chosen to advance these last years. They are now engaged in a debate about how to rule the world.

Don’t think of this as some conspiratorial plot, but as a perfectly commonsensical debate over what policies are in the best interests of those who hire phalanxes of Washington lobbyists and fill the coffers of presidential and congressional campaigns. Many business leaders have fond memories of the “free trade” years of the Clinton administration, when CEO salaries soared and the global influence of multinational corporations surged. Rejecting neoconservative unilateralism, they want to see a renewed focus on American “soft power” and its instruments of economic control, such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Trade Organization (WTO) — the multilateral institutions that formed what was known in international policy circles as “the Washington Consensus.” These corporate globalists are making a bid to control the direction of economic policy under a new Democratic administration.

There is little question that the majority of people on the planet — those who suffered under both the corporate globalization of the Clinton years and the imperial globalization of George W. Bush — deserve something better. However, it is far from certain that social justice advocates who want to encourage a more democratic approach to world affairs and global economic well-being will be able to sway a new administration. On the other hand, the damage inflicted by eight years of neocon rule and the challenges of an increasingly daunting geopolitical scene present a conundrum to the corporate globalizers: Is it even possible to go back to the way things were?

The Revolt of the Corporatists

Throughout their time in office, despite fulsome evidence of failure, George Bush and Dick Cheney have maintained a blithe self-confidence about their ability to successfully promote the interests of the United States, or at least those of their high-rolling “Pioneer”-class donors. Every so often, though, the public receives notice that loyalists are indeed scurrying to abandon the administration’s sinking ship of state. In October 2007, for instance, in a front-page story entitled “GOP Is Losing Grip On Core Business Vote,” the Wall Street Journal reported that the party could be facing a brand crisis as “[s]ome business leaders are drifting away from the party because of the war in Iraq, the growing federal debt and a conservative social agenda they don’t share.”

When it comes to corporate responses to the President’s Global War on Terror, we mostly hear about the likes of Halliburton and Blackwater — companies directly implicated in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and with the mentality of looters. Such firms have done their best to score quick profits from the military machine. However, there was always a faction of realist, business-oriented Republicans who opposed the invasion from the start, in part because they believed it would negatively impact the U.S. economy. As the administration adventure in Iraq has descended into the morass, the ranks of corporate complainers have only grown.

The “free trade” elite have become particularly upset about the administration’s focus on go-it-alone nationalism and its disregard for multilateral means of securing influence. This belligerent approach to foreign affairs, they believe, has thwarted the advance of corporate globalization. In an April 2006 column in the Washington Post, globalist cheerleader Sebastian Mallaby laid blame for “why globalization has stalled” at the feet of the Bush administration. The White House, Mallaby charged, was unwilling to invest any political capital in the IMF, the World Bank, or the WTO. He wrote:

“Fifteen years ago, there were hopes that the end of Cold War splits would allow international institutions to acquire a new cohesion. But the great powers of today are simply not interested in creating a resilient multilateral system…. The United States remains the only plausible quarterback for the multilateral system. But the Bush administration has alienated too many players to lead the team effectively. Its strident foreign policy started out as an understandable response to the fecklessness of other powers. But unilateralism has tragically backfired, destroying whatever slim chance there might have been of a workable multilateral alternative.”

Frustrated by Bush’s failures, many in the business elite want to return to the softer empire of corporate globalization and, increasingly, they are looking to the Democrats to navigate this return. As a measure of this — the capitalist equivalent of voting with their feet — political analyst Kevin Phillips notes in his new book, Bad Money, that, in 2007, “[h]edge fund employees’ contributions to the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee outnumbered those to its Republican rival by roughly nine to one.”

This quiet revolt of the corporatists is already causing interesting reverberations on the campaign trail. The base of the Democratic Party has clearly rejected the “free trade” version of trickle-down economics, which has done far more to help those hedge-fund managers and private-jet-hopping executives than anyone further down the economic ladder. As a result, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are running as opponents of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and of a newer bilateral trade deal with Colombia, a country in which organizing a union or vocally advocating for human rights can easily cost you your life. The tenor of the current campaign represents a significant shift from the 1990s, when top Democrats were constantly trying to establish their corporate bona fides and “triangulate” their way into conservative economic policy.

Still, both candidates are surrounded by business-friendly advisors whose views fit nicely within an older, pre-Bush administration paradigm of corporate globalization. The tension between the anti-NAFTA activists at the base of the Party and those in the campaign war rooms has resulted in some embarrassing gaffes during the primary contest.

For Hillary Clinton, the most notable involved one of her chief strategists, Mark Penn, a man with a long, nefarious record defending corporate abuses as a Washington lobbyist. As it turned out, Penn’s consulting firm received $300,000 in 2007 to support the “free trade” agreement with Colombia. Even as Clinton was proclaiming her heartfelt opposition to the deal and highlighting the “history of suppression and targeted killings of labor organizers” in that country, a key player in her campaign was charting strategy with Colombian government officials in order to get the pact passed.

The Obama campaign found itself in similar discomfort in February. While the candidate was running in the Ohio primary as an opponent of NAFTA, calling that trade deal a “mistake” that has harmed working people, his senior economic policy adviser, University of Chicago professor Austan Goolsbee, was meeting with Canadian government officials to explain, as a memo by the Canadians reported, that Obama’s charges were merely “political positioning.” Goolsbee quickly claimed that his position had been mischaracterized, but the incident naturally raised questions. Why, for example, had Goolsbee, senior economist to the Democratic Leadership Council, the leading organization on the corporate-friendly rightwing of the party, and a person praised as “a valuable source of free-trade advice over almost a decade,” been positioned to mold Obama’s economic stances in the first place?

If pressure from the base of the party lets up after the elections, it would hardly be surprising to see a victorious candidate revert to Bill Clinton’s corporate model for how to rule the world. However, a return to a pre-Bush-style of international politics may be easier dreamed than done.

The Neocon Paradox

To the chagrin of the “free trade” elite, the market fundamentalist ideas that have dominated international development thinking for at least the last 25 years are now under attack globally. This is largely because the economic prescriptions of deregulation, privatization, open markets, and cuts to social services so often made (and enforced) by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have proven catastrophic.

In 2003, the United Nations’ Human Development Report (UNHDP) explained that 54 already poor countries had actually grown even poorer during the “free trade” era of the 1990s. The British Guardian summarized well the essence of this report:

“Taking issue with those who have argued that the ‘tough love’ policies of the past two decades have spawned the growth of a new global middle class, the report says the world became ever more divided between the super-rich and the desperately poor. The richest 1% of the world’s population (around 60 million) now receives as much income as the poorest 57%, while the income of the richest 25 million Americans is the equivalent of that of almost 2 billion of the world’s poorest people.”

Such findings led UNDP administrator Mark Malloch Brown, in a remarkably blunt statement, to call for a “guerilla assault on the Washington Consensus.”

In fact, in 2008, such an assault is already well under way — and Washington is in a far weaker position economically to deal with it. The countries burned by the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, for instance, are now building up huge currency reserves so they never again have to come begging to the International Monetary Fund (and so suffer diktats from Washington) in times of crisis. Moreover, virtually the whole of Latin America is in revolt. Over 500 million people reside in that region, and over two-thirds of them now live under governments elected since 2000 on mandates to split with “free trade” economics, declare independence from Washington, and pursue policies that actually benefit the poor.

In late April, economist Mark Weisbrot noted that, with so many countries breaking free of its grasp, the IMF, which once dictated economic policy to strapped governments around the world, is now but a shadow of its former self. In the past four years, its loan portfolio has plummeted from $105 billion to less than $10 billion, the bulk of which now goes to just two countries, Turkey and Pakistan. This leaves the U.S. Treasury, which used the body to control foreign economies, with far less power than in past decades. “The IMF’s loss of influence,” Weisbrot writes, “is probably the most important change in the international financial system in more than half a century.”

It is a historic irony that Bush administration neocons, smitten with U.S. military power, itching to launch their wars in Central Asia and the Middle East, and eschewing multinational institutions, actually helped to foster a global situation in which U.S. influence is waning and countries are increasingly seeking independent paths. Back in 2005, British journalist George Monbiot dubbed this “the unacknowledged paradox in neocon thinking.” He wrote:

“They want to drag down the old, multilateral order and replace it with a new, U.S. one. What they fail to understand is that the ‘multilateral’ system is in fact a projection of U.S. unilateralism, cleverly packaged to grant other nations just enough slack to prevent them from fighting it. Like their opponents, the neocons fail to understand how well [Presidents] Roosevelt and Truman stitched up the international order. They are seeking to replace a hegemonic system that is enduring and effective with one that is untested and (because other nations must fight it) unstable.”

Battered by losing wars and economic crisis, the United States is now a superpower visibly on the skids. And yet, there is no guarantee that the coming era will produce a change for the better. In a world in which the value of the dollar is plummeting, oil is growing ever more scarce relative to demand, and foreign states are rising as rivals to American power, the possibility of either going ahead with the Bush/Cheney style of unilateralism or successfully returning to the “enduring and effective” multilateral corporatism of the 1990s may no longer exist. But the failure of these options will undoubtedly not be for lack of trying. Even with corporate globalization on the decline, multinational businesses will attempt to consolidate or expand their power. And even with the imperial model of globalization discredited, an overextended U.S. military may still try to hold on with violence.

The true Bush administration legacy may be to leave us in a world that is at once far more open to change and also far more dangerous. Such prospects should hardly discourage the long-awaited celebration in January. But they suggest that a new era of globalization battles — struggles to build a world order based neither on corporate influence, nor imperial might — will have only just begun.

Mark Engler, an analyst with Foreign Policy in Focus, is the author of How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy (just published by Nation Books). He can be reached via the website Democracy Uprising.

Copyright 2008 Mark Engler


Close Encounters with the Conservative Kind

February 15, 2008

Close Encounters with the Conservative Kind
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Dick Cheney kicked off the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week with a preemptory analysis of President Bush’s legacy. It was a speech chock full of the self-serving misrepresentations the American public—which now rejects Bush’s leadership by a huge majority—has come to expect from the administration. But this was CPAC, an annual gathering of hard-core right-wing activists from across the country who are, in Cheney’s words, “the heart and soul of the conservative community.”

Attendees cheered when Cheney said that President Bush “faces challenges squarely” without “passing them on to future generations”— ignoring the ongoing war in Iraq and the record deficit that will be created by the president’s latest budget. Cheney claimed that letting the Bush tax cuts expire would be one of the “largest government money grabs in American history” because it would supposedly raise taxes an average of $1,800, even though the vast majority of American taxpayers wouldn’t see anything close to that tax hike. Cheney got a standing ovation when he insisted that the administration’s overseas interrogation program (the program that introduced rendition, black sites, and “we do not torture” into our national vernacular) has obtained important and useful information. At one point during the speech, the audience chanted “Four more years!”

Later, while the crowd waited for Mitt Romney and John McCain to speak, a conservative book seminar began, and panelists extolled the virtues of Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. “The heroes of Atlas Shrugged were businessmen! Absolutely astonishing!” said Edward Hudgins, executive director of the Atlas Society, an organization that champions Rand’s philosophy of “rational, principled individualism.” Rand, Hudgins said, instructed her readers to protect their lives, their privacy, and their businesses as they protect their children. “How would you feel if the government decided to molest your children?” he asked.

Over the course of day one, Mitt Romney dropped out of the presidential race and John McCain got booed. (Other things that got booed: Keith Olbermann, France, universal health care, and the idea of a “living Constitution.”) The candidates’ appearances have been well-covered elsewhere, so I’ll only mention that many attendees told me that they will refuse to vote for John McCain, seeing him as not conservative enough. One young man, who must have been born in the late ’80s, said that he would write in Ronald Reagan’s name.

Griping, in fact, was a major activity at the conference. The fact that a supposed false conservative was about to don the mantle of the Republican Party was irksome enough, but there were also Hillary Clinton, Hollywood, and the liberal media to contend with. Right around the corner, it seemed, waited a welfare/nanny state, attacks from radical jihadists, and a legion of activist judges determined to pervert American society.

And then there are immigrants. After McCain’s speech, a man handed out flyers to audience members as they exited the auditorium. “Amerixianada?? Meximerianada??” it read. “Whatever they might call it, we must STOP the gradual, planned merging of America with Mexico and Canada.” I asked the man what he thought about John McCain. He snorted. I asked him who he would vote for. “Maybe a third party,” he said. “Someone who will really secure the borders.” As we were talking, a glowering, heavyset gentleman glanced at the flyer and stopped in his tracks. He poked the man I was speaking with in the chest. “Unless white people like you start having more children, you can kiss this country goodbye,” he said.

Day two started with President Bush’s address to the conference at 7:15 am. Doors opened at 5 a.m., and attendees stumbled into the ballroom bleary-eyed but excited. At the front of the room, a young man named Dayton sat next to a row of sleeping college students. I asked him how early he and his friends had gotten in line. “Oh, about 3 a.m.,” he said cheerfully. “A lot of people just stayed up.” During his speech, the president ticked off his accomplishments, but concluded by insisting that he isn’t concerned with his legacy because “history’s verdict takes time to reveal itself.” Bush’s speech, like Cheney’s, received chants of “Four more years!”

“I think President Bush has been a superb president, probably the best in history,” Frances Rice, chairman of the National Black Republican Association, told me afterward, when I asked her whether she would prefer another Bush term to a potential McCain administration. “I have not been a supporter of John McCain, but if he is our nominee I will definitely support him.”

Another attendee told me, in reference to McCain, that the worst Republican is better than the best Democrat.

Later, I wandered into the CPAC exhibition hall, a good place to take the pulse of the CPAC crowd. It is the only space in the convention not stage-managed by the event’s media-savvy organizers. There, attendees could purchase every book ever written by Ayn Rand and Ann Coulter, or, if they were in the mood for less weighty fare, the Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam. They could buy a Hillary Clinton bobblehead, featuring Hillary’s face mounted on donkey’s body, or bumper stickers that said, “Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Deportation” and “KFC Hillary Special: 2 Fat Thighs, 2 Small Breasts, Left Wing.” There was also a t-shirt that read, “I’d rather be waterboarded than vote for John McCain.”

A booth staffed by a friendly young man working for an anti-abortion group called the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, offered a flyer entitled “10 Reasons Why Abortion is Wrong.” Number nine: “Addressing an abortionist. Once you were an enchanting child, as all babies are. Today you are an abortionist, a killer of babies. Do you not regret your wicked deeds? Do you not see the innocent blood of our children that stains your hands and cries out to God?” And an organization called America’s Majority offered literature aimed at college students giving tips on how to “Defeat Radical Islam on YOUR Campus.”

Unlike the speaking venues, which were crawling with reporters, the exhibition hall was primarily filled with conference attendees from around the country. I asked John Curry from Virginia for his take on the Democratic candidates. “Hillary is just a criminal, that’s all,” he said. “A criminal. She just wants to get back in the White House so she can steal the rest of the furnishings.”

What about Obama? “I think if Obama becomes the obvious frontrunner, he will meet with a horrible accident like the other people that have perished because of the Clinton’s animosity towards him. He’ll be offed,” he said. He paused. “Also, he doesn’t have the experience to run this country.”

During a 15-minute conversation, during which Curry managed to use the words “pakis,” “japs,” and “sandniggers,” he delivered a lengthy discourse on the fallacy of global warming, blaming climate change on ice age cycles, sun spot activity, and the currents of the Artic Ocean reversing directions.

On a television screen nearby, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton was wrapping up a foreign policy presentation, claiming that the administration has proof that North Korea is assisting Syria with a nuclear program. (For evidence to the contrary, read Seymour Hersh’s latest piece in the New Yorker.)

Next on the conference agenda was a panel discussion on the “Future of the Life Debate,” headlined by Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America; Nigel Cameron, president of the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future; and Representatives Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.). Wright spoke first, claiming that the world is awash in contraceptives—and that global family planning efforts are hopelessly ineffective because people in Third World countries are simply not using them. In the Philippines, she said, there are so many birth control pills that people use them to fertilize their orchids; in India, people use their extra condoms to waterproof roofs. She also suggested that Roe v. Wade “demands” sex selection abortion.

Cameron, speaking on how new technologies challenge the “culture of life,” told the audience that scientific advancements giving people more information about their unborn children will create a “new eugenics,” that will grade people on a number of different criteria, including intelligence and physical fitness. He also made references to potential technological developments that currently exist only in science fiction novels, such as blurring the human/animal line and downloading the human consciousness onto a computer hard drive. After Cameron’s presentation, Trent Franks’ remarks comparing abortion to the Holocaust and to slavery seemed relatively mild.

Later that day, Ann Coulter, who’d previously pledged to throw her support behind Hillary Clinton if McCain became the Republican nominee, told a room full of college students that Barack Obama’s only notable achievement was “being born half-black” and that John McCain’s greatest accomplishment was getting captured by the Vietnamese. “I know plenty of Republican POWs,” she said. “We’re not going to make them all president.” Coulter got a huge round of applause when she advocated torturing terrorists. Afterward, I asked a young attendee named Katie about the “I want Ann Coulter” sticker she was wearing. “I love Ann Coulter,” she said. “I think she’s a role model for young women.”

Jonathan Stein is a reporter in Mother Jones‘ Washington, D.C., bureau.


February 15, 2008

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Thursday, 14 February 2008
Four years ago, I wrote “Why I Will Not Vote In 2004” for which a number of readers thanked me profusely while another segment of readers sent scathing emails questioning how I could be so cynical and unpatriotic.

My intent in writing that article was not cynicism but honest questioning and exposure of what the voting process in this nation has become in recent years. It was authentic and sprang from genuine issues I had at the time regarding the wisdom of voting in a federal election. Since then, my skepticism of the integrity of the electronic voting machine process has deepened exponentially. And since then, Bev Harris of Black Box Voting produced an HBO documentary “Hacking Democracy” which exposes the jaw-dropping abuses of the electronic voting system and calls into question the veracity of any outcomes produced by it.

In fact, as recently as the New Hampshire primary, 2008, Black Box Voting and others have illumined spurious results in electronic voting in that state. Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis painstakingly researched the 2004 election and concluded in 2005 that, “The latest critical confirmation of key indicators that the election of 2004 was stolen comes in an extremely powerful, penetrating report from the Government Accountability Office that has gotten virtually no mainstream media coverage.” In 2007, Wasserman shared his irrefutable confirmation of a stolen 2004 election in an exclusive interview on Democracy Now.

As I’ve frequently stated, I will never again vote in an election where I cannot use a paper ballot. For me to do otherwise, I believe, is to engage in a shell game of smoke and mirrors to which I will not sacrifice the preciousness of my right to vote in a so-called democratic republic.

As for my 2004 article, the world is remarkably different than it was then, and so am I. A larger, bleaker picture has emerged since then-one which for me calls into question the very process of selecting and electing candidates in the context of empire-in a culture of fascism, genocide, greed, corruption, and ecoside. It is that larger scenario that this article addresses.

For me, the first issue is the political system itself which is indistinguishable from the corporatocracy. The Democratic and Republican parties are de facto extensions of corporate America. Unless a candidate is systemically embedded in the corporatocracy, not only for the purpose of raising money, but in order to insure electability, she/he cannot succeed. Candidates from the Green Party or others such as Kucinich and Paul, are unequivocally consigned to the periphery, and while they may add fascinating nuances from the media-image perspective, they have exactly a snowball’s chance in hell of prevailing. And while I could cast my vote for one of the peripheral candidates as a moral statement, it would be meaningless in terms of affecting change. In summary, if my vote won’t make a difference, I’m not willing to cast it.

Mass Trance-It

Now let’s examine more closely the notion of affecting change, and let’s be painfully honest about whether the current political system in America is even remotely capable of it. If only candidates embedded in the corporatocracy have any chance of winning, what is the purpose of voting? Choosing the “lesser evil” you say? Holding one’s nose and voting? Those very expressions belie the political, moral, philosophical, and cultural sewer into which the nation has deteriorated. They also belie the magnitude of the situation, the surface of which could not even be scratched by the most uncorrupted candidate, let alone a corporate clone. You really must have a great deal of blind faith and uncritical thinking when playing in this system; in fact, you must be swimming in raging rivers of denial in order to even engage with it.

But that should not surprise any of us. We live in an extraordinarily adolescent culture. The election charade that occurs every four years has been constructed by an emotionally pubescent media, creating and gratifying a puerile citizenry, which like the sixteen year-old male drooling over the prospect of owning a Hummer, cares about absolutely nothing but image. The level on which problems are even perceived, let alone addressed, is not even adolescent, it’s downright infantile. An essential aspect of childhood is fantasy, and the infantile/adolescent fantasy of America is that a corporate clone, obligated to his/her ruling elite handlers and contributors, willing to say or do anything to get elected, needing to address only a narrow spectrum of issues in order to prevail, is capable of meaningfully confronting issues such as climate change, energy depletion, population overshoot, species extinction, and global economic cataclysm.

And who benefits from an infantilized citizenry? Quite simply, the street smart adolescent gang leaders with names like Bernanke, Paulson, Citigroup, and J.P. Morgan Chase. Even now, as adult economists are willing to admit the reality of global financial collapse, the home boys, Ben and Hank, are telling us there will be no recession in 2008, no doubt hoping that their prey will spend their forthcoming rebate checks (translation: hush money) on more stuff instead of paying off their debts.

If I sound incensed, it’s because I am. America’s political candidates are colluding in the mass delusion-the collective trance in which a willfully ignorant citizenry is somnambulating on the edge of a precipice, and the ones who have the backing of the corporatocracy are enabling the chimera. I’m insulted by their cluelessness about the state of this planet and their inability to analyze or address any issues from the reality of ecoside-that is, the collective murder of the earth by its human inhabitants. And dear readers, please do not fill my inbox with emails telling me that ecoside isn’t really happening because climate change is a hoax not caused by humans but perpetrated by nasty tyrants in order to take away my freedom. For me, this issue is not up for debate or discussion because the earth, not you or I or any other mortals, will have the last word, and it is having it even as you read these words.

What more proof does one need as a result of the performance of both political parties in the past 16 years that there is only one of them? Progressives love to rant about the “Bush crime family” yet appear unable to comprehend that the American political system is exactly as I named it in my 2006 article “Godfather Government.” Mike Ruppert said it best in “America From Freedom To Fascism” when he stated that the choice is between the Genoveses and the Gambinos with both crime families feigning vast differences between them but unequivocally joining forces the moment anything appears to threaten their collective racket.

What I would ask every reader of this article to consider is: If you are planning to vote in the 2008 presidential election, what is your need to engage with that system? How is it that you believe you have a valid, authentic choice between two divergent political and philosophical positions? What keeps you tethered to the charade? It’s not important that I know your answer, but very important that you do.

Local Solutions: If It Isn’t Local, It Isn’t A Solution

An essential ingredient of the collective trance is that we must act nationally to address problems that candidates aren’t even talking about. In true adolescent fashion, like pubescent males who live for bigger engines, bigger rock concerts, and bigger genitalia, we still believe that issues must be addressed by a change in mass consciousness and federal programs that allow the system to continue functioning as an empire-this based on ignorance or denial that the empire is collapsing and that a Second Great Depression is about to engulf the United States and the world. Conversely, a mature, awake adult is more likely to comprehend that the imperial miscreant is crumbling into myriad pieces and that this is not something to be mourned but celebrated-that our work now as grown-ups is to take the crumbled fragment that is our local community, hold it close to our breasts, caress and cherish it, and remake it for the wellbeing of ourselves, our families, and our bioregion. In this way, we assist ourselves and our loved ones in preparing for the collapse of the larger system and in the process, make it possible to create seed communities that can truly bring forth an authentic antidote to empire.

Some passionate citizens of the state of Vermont have taken this concept to the next level and have organized a Vermont Independence secession movement. I have no idea how successful they might ultimately be, nor do they, but I do know that theirs is a model that buys out of empire and into local, community-based, community-determined autonomy. Other communities across America would do well to learn from their efforts.

I love it when people say, “But we need leadership.” Yes we do-our own. What we don’t need is a feel-good celebrity candidate, owned by corporations, whored by handlers, clueless about the magnitude of the issues (if even aware of what the issues are), narrowly focused on the federal system, whose only mission in life is to get and stay elected. Alternatively, we need to focus on our local bioregions, work in concert and consensus with others who see and feel as passionately about the transformation of our communities as we do, and become our own leaders and team players.

Who Really Owns These Candidates?

In 2007 I reviewed Daniel Estulin’s True Story of the Bildergerg Group, an expose of that group and two related monster organizations of the ruling elite, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. With control of central banks, discount rates, interest rates and gold prices, the core members of these organizations, Estulin demonstrates, have set out to loot the planet-and they are doing just that. The current mortgage crisis and ensuing global economic meltdown, as I stated in my review, is due to the stupendous success of the Big Three’s strategy for planetary economic hegemony as the cacophony of their carefully engineered global economic cataclysm reverberates across America and around the world. It was never about home buyers who didn’t read the fine print when taking out liar loans. It was always about silver-tongued, ruling elite politicians and financial systems which ultimately and skillfully stole and continue to steal governments from people and replace them with transnational corporations. No, I’m not making that up. One of the explicit goals of the Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Trilateral Commision is the ultimate dissolution of nation-states to be replaced by global corporate hegemony.

In addition to Estulin’s excellent expose of the Bilderberg Group, I highly recommend Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management, edited by Holly Sklar (1980) An overview of the book may be read at the Third World Traveler website.

The Trilateral Task Force Report of 1977, “Toward A Renovated International System” states:

The public and leaders of most countries continue to live in a mental universe which no longer exists-a world of separate nations-and have great difficulties thinking in terms of global perspectives and interdependence.

Holly Sklar summarizes: “In other words: “(1) the people, governments, and economies of all nations must serve the needs of multinational banks and corporations; (2) control over economic resources spells power in modern politics (and of course, good citizens are supposed to believe as they are taught; namely, that political equality exists in Western democracies whatever the degree of economic inequality); and (3) the leaders of capitalist democracies-systems where economic control and profit, and thus political power, rest with the few-must resist movement toward a truly popular democracy. In short, trilateralism is the current attempt by ruling elites to manage both dependence and democracy-at home and abroad.” (4)

What is more, every American president since the inception of the Big Three has been a member of one or more them. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton are Bilderberg members, and Barack Obama and his wife are members of the Council on Foreign Relations, Michelle Obama currently serving on the board of the Chicago Council of Global Affairs.

Specifically, in regard to Obama’s foreign policy, Los Angeles writer, Juan Santos, notes:

With respect to Black interests, Obama would be a silenced Black ruler: A muzzled Black emperor. A Black man at the head of the White Amerikkkan State – one who’s unwilling to speak truth to power, but more than willing, like a Condi Rice or a Colin Powell, to become that power and to launch wars of aggression against other people of color.

In Obama’s case the targets will be Iran (which he has threatened with “surgical” missile strikes) and Pakistan, rather than Iraq. That’s the only difference between Obama and Rice and Powell, or Bush, for that matter.

Even ABC News notes that “Obama, one of the more liberal candidates in the race, is proposing a geopolitical posture that is more aggressive than that of President Bush.” Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan, in a column entitled “Obama, the Intervensionist,” cites Obama’s claim that “he wants the American military to ‘stay on the offense, from Djibouti to Kandahar.'” To help the empire stay on the offensive, and despite the fact that US military spending is breaking the bank at over $1 trillion a year, and far outstrips the spending of any potential imperial rival, Obama wants to beef up military spending, adding 65,000 troops to the Army and 27,000 more Marines beyond the obscene levels already under arms in the so-called “War on Terror.”

For further insight into the candidate who is a “master of pretending to be progressive”, see Carolyn Kay’s “He Ain’t A Saint: A Citizen’s Guide To Barack Obama“.

The Life And Death Issues Eclipsed By Election Hysteria

Specifically, here is what I would need from a candidate to even consider the possibility of voting for her/him:

•1)    Is that candidate aware of and astutely informed regarding the reality and scope of climate change? Will he in the first month in office convene a worldwide summit on the issue and enact emergency measures in the United States to address it?

•2)    Is the candidate aware of and astutely informed regarding Peak Oil, Peak Natural Gas, Peak Water, and the depletion of all of the earth’s substances which we have come to call “resources”? Will he in the first month in office convene a worldwide summit (in conjunction with a climate change summit) on Peak Oil and other energy depletion issues and enact emergency measures in the U.S. to address them?

•3)    Is the candidate aware of and astutely informed regarding the approximately 4 trillion dollars “missing” from the U.S. Treasury? Will she within the first month in office demand that Congress implement a full-scale investigation of the missing money?

•4)    Is the candidate aware of and astutely informed regarding the creation of the current housing bubble? Will he immediately demand a Congressional investigation of the key players in the current subprime mortgage crisis?

•5)    Only 16% of Americans believe the official story of 9/11. Has the candidate researched the events prior to, during, and after September 11, 2001? Will she immediately demand a Congressional investigation of September 11 in which all sessions of that investigation are open to the American public and in which all individuals who testify are under oath?

•6)    Did this candidate vote for the Patriot Act? In terms of the unprecedented shredding of the Constitution and the evisceration of civil liberties during the Bush II administration, is that candidate willing to demand repeal of the Patriot Act and all Executive Orders signed by George W. Bush.

•7)    Is the candidate fully aware of the catastrophic financial situation in the United States and the world in terms of debt, balance of trade, and fate of the dollar issues? Will he enact emergency measures to return the U.S. to a gold standard and implement a full-scale investigation of the Federal Reserve with the long-term goal of abolishing it?

I know what you’re saying, “Carolyn, you’ve got to be kidding!”

My point exactly: No candidate who is committed to such an agenda has a prayer of getting elected, not only because she/he is owned by the corporatocracy, but because he/she would have to tell the American people thousands of things they refuse to hear, and because they have been unwilling to hear them for the past six decades, they now find themselves on the brink of unimaginable catastrophe.

I am thoroughly pessimistic that on a nationwide scale, Americans will awaken from their collective trance. I concur with Sally Erickson when she references Daniel Quinn‘s statement that “there is a secret plan“, and the plan is that we are going to continue in the direction we’re going until we can’t anymore.

Estrogen Euphoria

Forty years ago I struggled diligently for equal rights for women-as fiercely as I fought for civil rights and against U.S. imperialism and the Vietnam War, and today I proudly call myself a feminist. That does not mean, however, that I am deluded by the assumption that if it’s female, it’s flawless. In fact, in 1996 I was moved to write a book Reclaiming The Dark Feminine in which I argued, among other things, that women can be as treacherous, driven, greedy, aggressive, corrupt, and duplicitous as any man has ever been. For this reason, I am not enamored with the notion of a female chief executive, particularly when it is clear that corporations, not presidents, govern what is left of the nations those corporations are intent on

obliterating-and, when the female candidate in question is irrevocably engaged in assisting those corporations in achieving their agenda.

In addition to the fact that Hillary is a member of the Bilderberg Group, her voting record speaks for itself: Voting for the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, and voting with and for corporations in the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill. In addition, Hillary’s healthcare nightmare, over which the American banking system is salivating, would create more personal debt in America by forcing people to buy health insurance. And what more need we add to her presence on the Walmart board of directors for six years which in itself speaks volumes?

Yet even more egregious are the Clinton ties to Monsanto about which I posted an article on my website on February 3, “An Open Letter To Hillary Clinton” written by a Wellesley alumna and classmate of Hillary’s confronting Bill Clinton’s ties to the genetically engineered and industrialized food giant, as well as Hillary’s connections with Monsanto through her Arkansas Rose Law firm. The letter, written by Linn Cohen-Cole of Atlanta, was superbly documented and offered some of the finest research on the topic that I’ve ever read.

I was aghast, however, when I received an email from a woman who opined that we should not “blame Hillary for her husband’s mistakes”, as if somehow we can discern where Bill ends and Hillary begins. Furthermore, the letter from Cohen-Cole skillfully clarifies Hillary’s specific connections to Monsanto, rather than blathering vaguely about her guilt by association. Yet this email comment is very telling in its unquestioning, naïve, almost sycophantic allegiance to Hillary the woman while disregarding the boots-on-the-ground track record of the shrewd politician who gives new meaning to the words “corporate clone.”

You Have No Right To Complain If You Don’t Vote

This nonsensical and frightening platitude sounds as if it might have been taken from Joseph Goebbel’s propaganda playbook. What kind of tortured logic concludes that I can only complain about a rotting political system if I play by its rules? Whoever invented this notion had undoubtedly never read the Founding Fathers who asserted in no uncertain terms that if my government has become the enemy of the Constitution, it is not only prudent, but obligatory to “alter and abolish it.”

I have every right to complain about “choices” that aren’t really choices and election charades that distract my attention from issues that corporate clones dare not touch-like the 200 species that went extinct today and the million innocent citizens of Iraq who’ve died since 2003 and the unprecedented numbers of U.S. military suicides in the same period of time and the carcinogenic bovine growth hormones in my genetically engineered lunch and the guy down the street who blew his brains out over mortgage foreclosure and bankruptcy resulting from having no health insurance and the polar bears that drowned today because their ice shelves had melted away. All of this happened while the election distraction served the same purpose as mainstream media coverage of Britney Spears’ latest psychotic episode or the true confessions of yet another steroid-crazed athlete.

I will complain-I will scream and rant bitch and whine, and I won’t shut up, and what I will complain most loudly about is a culture where citizens get what they settle for because they refuse to face the reality that the system is completely rigged against them, and they prolong their own agony by hanging on to the fantasy of business as usual as their empire, well into collapse, sucks the last drops of their blood and rides off into a Stage Five smog-alert sunset to rape and pillage and plunder the rest of the planet in the name of things like “democracy”, “the two-party system”, “Super Tuesday”, and let’s not forget, “the first female president.”

No, I won’t be voting for a president of the United States in 2008. Should I be able to use a paper ballot, I may well vote for state and local officials in a venue where authentic choice exists.

But it’s only the nasty Republicans who rig elections, right? Well, have you noticed how cozy Bill Clinton and Poppy Bush have become since Bubba left office? The mind reels imagining those intimate afternoon conversations between Bill and Poppy on Senior’s yacht.

“So what’s on your mind Bill? Do you mind if I call you Bill?”

“No, not at all sir. Well sir, I’ve been thinking a lot about 2008, and I know you know a lot about these things.”

“Yes son, I do, and trust me, everything’s under control.”

Sorry, I couldn’t help verbalizing my fantasy. It’s all so touching. Do you feel the love?

And now Hillary wants to send them off together in the first few weeks of her presidency to repair the damage done around the world by Junior? It’s enough to make one feel warm and fuzzy all over, isn’t it?

I think my cousin said it best when I asked if she planned to vote for a president this year.

“Me vote?” she replied.

“No, not when my only choices are between Satan and the devil.”

Lobby Wars on Gandhi

February 15, 2008

Lobby Wars on Gandhi

By Punyapriya Dasgupta

Punyapriya Dasgupta’s ZSpace Page


The problem the Israelis and their supporters have with Gandhi refuses to go away..  In what they call their pre-State era, they tried to  get  Mahatma Gandhi to endorse their campaign to dispossess the Arabs and transform Palestine into a Jewish homeland.  He not only branded their enterprise unjust but even made comments which lend support to the Palestinian resistance that has been calumniated  more recently by Israel and its American backers as terrorism.  Today, the Israel lobby in America is baying for the blood of Arun Gandhi for his temerity in advising the Jews in Israel that it is time they got over their holocaust fixation and  for their own secure future moved on to build peace and friendship with their neighbours.


Arun Gandhi, a grandson of  the Mahatma, together with his wife Sunanda, founded the M.K.Gandhi Institute of Non-Violence in Memphis to spread the Gandhian philosophy in America and later made it a part of the University of Rochester.    Early last month Arun Gandhi wrote in a Washington Post blog:  “The Jewish identity in the past has been locked into the holocaust experience – a German burden that the Jews have not been able to shed.  It is a very good example of a community that can overplay a historic experience to the point that it begins to repulse friends.  The holocaust was the result of the warped mind of an individual who was able to influence his followers into something dreadful.   But it seems to me that the Jews today not only want the Germans to feel guilty but the whole world must regret what happened to the Jews.  The world did feel sorry for the episode but when an individual or a nation refuses to forgive and move on, the regret turns into anger.  The Jewish identity in the future appears bleak.  Any nation that remains anchored to the past is unable to move ahead and especially a nation that believes its survival can only be ensured by weapons and bombs.  In Tel Aviv in 2004, I had the opportunity to speak to some MPs and peace activists all of whom argued that the wall and the military build up was necessary to protect the nation and the people.  In other words, I asked, you believe that you can create a snake pit with many deadly snakes in it – and expect to live in the pit secure and alive?  What do you mean? they countered.  Well, with your superior weapons and your attitude towards your neighbours would it not be right to say you are creating a snake pit?  Would it not be better to befriend those who hate you?  Can you not reach out to share your technical advantage with your neighbours and build a relationship?”


 This is vintage Gandhian logic about the means to an end.  Arun Gandhi is a true inheritor of Gandhism except in such obsolete externals  as the asceticism the Mahatma espoused in dress to identify himself with the poorest Indian nearly a century ago.  When the Israel lobbyists turned on him for what they regard as sacrilege of the holocaust, Arun responded with more of Gandhism.  He resigned from the presidentship of the institution of non-violence  he had himself founded and issued an apology:

 “My statement on the recent Washington Post blog was couched in language that   was hurtful and contrary to the principle of non-violence.

My intention was to generate a healthy discussion on the proliferation of violence.  Clearly I did not achieve my goal.  Instead, unintentionally, my words have resulted in pain, anger, confusion and embarrassment.  I deeply regret these consequences.

I would like to be a part of as healing process.  The principles of non-violence are founded on love, respect, understanding and compassion.  It is my sincere hope that this situation will give me and others the opportunity to work together and transform anger and negative emotions, create deeper mutual respect and understanding and build more harmonious communities.”


The Zionist response was typical too.  Not only was Arun Gandhi abused as soon as the blog appeared, even his apology was rejected as not enough or inconsequential.  The Anti-Defamation League adjudged him guilty of a classic attempt at blaming the victim. Arun Gandhi was branded anti-semite by the Israel lobbyists The director of the Simon Wiesenthal Institute seized it as a not-to-be lost opportunity to extend his sneer retrospectively to the Mahatma, a revered figure in world history.  Efraim Zuroff was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying:  “Even the great Mohandas Gandhi did not have a monopoly on wisdom, evidence his suggested passive resistance against the Nazis.”  Someone may take this cue and say that Arun Gandhi betrayed poor wisdom for he advised the Palestinians to defeat the Israelis with a massive non-violent march. John Mearsheimer who along with Stephen Walt wrote about the Israel lobby and faced its full fury, offered a consolation to Arun Gandhi with a comment that he would have gotten into serious trouble with the lobby even if he had chosen his words carefully ”simply because he had criticized Israel and its American supporters, which one does at his or her own peril.”


Sixty years after his death Mahatma Gandhi still remains a thorn on  Zionism’s side.  His view, written in 1938, remains in indelible print and sharply relevant even now. “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the Englih or France to the French.  It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs.  What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any code of conduct.  The Mandates have no sanction but that of the last War.  Surely it would be a crime against humanity  to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.  I am not defending the Arab excesses.  I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in  resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarranted encroachment upon their country.  But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.”


Punyapriya Dasgupta, journalist, can be reached at

A Socialist Alternative? Going from Green to Red

February 12, 2008

A Socialist Alternative? Going from Green to Red

The recent election primaries have stolen much of the progressive thunder-badly. Barrack Obama’s stentorian voice and uplifting rhetoric, two qualities often passed as “progressivism” in the United States, gets incredible press while the personal venality of the Clintons and their surrogates, (which mask serious policy choices anathema to a truly progressive agenda) is overly analyzed. Some substance!

Both candidates are imperial Democrats, supporting the 800 or so military bases around the world, and the hegemonic dominance that assures. Both candidates will not support an end to insurance company mobsterism in health care, and instead opt for what most modern Western democracies have: a single-payer health system. Both candidates talk only in the vaguest of generalities about the importance of unions (but neither support an end to Taft-Hartley), the environment (yet both support nuclear power and neither will reign in destructive corporate agriculture), or “working families” (but neither supports a living wage). What all this means is that, simply put, a progressive agenda is once again relegated to the backburner in exchange for the maddeningly inevitable mantra of “change”, which in American politics means changing the prison guards and keeping the Left locked away from mainstream debates.

Here in Iceland where I live, the Left-Green Movement, a Green-Socialist-Feminist coalition, is part of the government, and its leader Steingrímur Sigfússon delivers the most impassioned and inspiring speeches, winning respect from even opponents for his integrity and vision. But they represent only 14.3% of Parliament. The Socialist Alliance, a Social Democratic, center-left coalition (perhaps the equivalent of a more liberal version of New Deal Democrats) holds 26.8% of Parliament and so between them, almost half of the total seats. Together they get attention and more importantly, some legislation passed that fits a progressive description. While this is not the place to recommend a proportional system of representation for the US (though I do) or a whole new way of configuring movements and political parties (which I do), I think it time some of us on the US Left reassess our choice of words (and fear of others) and earnestly support where we can an openly socialist agenda electorally. What this means is giving a new look to an old friend, the Socialist Party-USA (SP-USA).

Even as large numbers of progressives, including socialists joined the Green Parties in the 80´s (and technically there still remains 2, without counting the arcane mergers and configurations within individual states) the Greens have been hobbled by infighting and crass manipulation by Dems in Green clothing. And while Communists (CPUSA) and other socialist parties exist, they have neither the traction (organization or ballot access) nor the independence (the CP, for example, supports the Dems as a tactical, and “practical” endeavor) to make more waves than a pond ripple. For progressives, these are disheartening signs.

In addition, we have seen the movement of radicals, Leftists, and other progressives drift towards the Republican candidacy of Ron Paul. His unswerving opposition to American imperial adventurism and undeclared wars, and strong support of the Constitution make him appealing. Yet many of his other positions are questionable, to say the least. Why aren’t we reassessing a group that has always opposed wars, imperialism and unjust policies at home and abroad?

The Socialist Party is the US´s oldest socialist party, does not favor top down “democratic centralism”, is adaptable to distinctly American political realities and has a platform remarkably consistent with progressive (and Green) views without the nutty baggage that hampers any Left discussion of politics. At one time, in its heyday, the Socialist Party had numerous elected officials in office and Eugene Debs once received almost a million votes—while he was in jail! By openly supporting the Socialist Party, we would be making a statement loud and clear that can push the debate much further to the Left than it is at present.

Yet, if history teaches us anything it’s that movements matter and that unified struggle beats divisive sectarianism. Hopping from one political party to another is now an unfortunate, inevitable consequence of US ballot access laws. Thus, a socialist may have to vote Green in order to have her vote count (or in order to simply be able to vote) or a Green to support an Independent candidacy in order to be heard.

But what if we simply agreed that what we want, at its most basic, is found pretty squarely inside that SP-USA platform and that, wherever possible, by voting Socialist we are helping a noble party get back into the consciousness of Americans and giving an alternative vision the chance it needs to compete. While I have for 20 years committed myself to Green politics, I think it may be time to shift back to where my heart says I should go for me to feel I am not wasting my vote, or my time—to the Socialist Party. And if, and when we can form our version of a Left-Green Alliance, in whatever name, I’ll be right there too.

Rev. José M. Tirado is a poet, priest and writer finishing a PhD in psychology while living in Iceland. Read other articles by José.

9 comments on this article so far …

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  1. Shenanigans said on February 11th, 2008 at 6:18 am #

    I hope the “idealistic” dream of socialism dies a hard and convincing death. Liberalism (classical liberalism) is the only route to true prosperity, true equality and true freedom.

  2. Max Shields said on February 11th, 2008 at 8:02 am #

    José M. Tirado said “Why aren’t we reassessing a group that has always opposed wars, imperialism and unjust policies at home and abroad?”

    The answer is simple: because socialism has been demonized for the better part of 70 years; and Stalinism was for too long its wrong-headed face.

    Woodrow Wilson and his gestapo broke the backs of the US Socialist Party during the run up to WWI (the reason Debbs was in jail).

    I think it’s a mistake to generalize that Greens are socialists and would want to “go back” to the Socialist Party. We don’t have proportional representation as you noted nor a lot of other tools for strong participatory democracy. By mentioning Iceland, you raise a point that seems so easily ignored – SIZE. I would argue that large land/population massed nations are not sized for the kind of lively participatory multi-faceted political representation that a little nation like Iceland (and many others) can sustain.

    Size is a necessary but not sufficient ingrediant to obtaining that mix. A non-hierarchical process can be had on a local level with a good deal of work; but national politics in a China or Russia or India or, yes, USA is much more monolithic with a corporate supporting hierachical cast. The vast majority of Americans believe in the authoritarian leader. India is said to provide some distinction but it has taken on a USA-client relationship that belies so much.

    My response to your post is that while there is much to incorporate from a socialist perspective, it will take a coalition of factions that have key shared values and agendas as well as a way of working. Domination (the hierarchical model) is a powerful organizing principle. It will take a broad coalition to undermine it.

    I believe we can, locally, begin a transformation that carries the best of a number of ideological ideas including socialism.

  3. John Halle said on February 11th, 2008 at 9:10 am #

    Excellent piece. Thank you.

    While I agree that Obama has, as you say, stolen the progressives’ thunder, this may be very temporary. Namely, if Clinton succeeds in stealing the nomination through buying off the super delegates, there will be huge numbers of disgusted Obamaites who will have seen the true face of the Democratic Party and will want to have nothing to do with it in the future.

    Even Chris Bowers, of the establishment Democratic site Open Left, who proclaims himself a ward captain and who has “raised millions of dollars for Democratic candidates” has pledge to quit the party if this happens.

    Bowers and others will be open to an alternative in the event that Clinton is successful. I’m not sure if the SWP or the Greens, or the Labor Party, or the CP, or the Peace and Freedom Party or any existing formation is in a position to provide it. What is needed, probably, is a completely new party or at least a consolidation of existing left parties under a new banner, though it is not impossible that a party like the SWP could be resuscitated.

    In either case, this will require negotiation, flexibility, political sophistication, rationality, tolerance, and the ability to compromise, qualities which do not seem to be in great abundance on the left at the moment, as can be seen from many of the postings on this site.

    The first step is to begin the discussion with articles like this.

  4. Seven said on February 11th, 2008 at 9:27 am #

    Thanks for this piece.

    As I see it, the problem with Leftist and independent American politics is that everyone feels that they can change the world by themselves, no one is uniting and compromising to create a truly powerful political entity.

    If everyone is trying to play the hero, nothing changes.

  5. Rev. José M. Tirado said on February 11th, 2008 at 1:12 pm #

    Thank you all for your comments.

    To “Seven”, you are 100% right. This remains a huge problem the Left has been faced with for as long as I can remember and, studying history, for as long as the “Left” has existed. Divisions, purity, factionalism, envy, rigidity, racial divides and cultural divides: these are not new to the Left at all. They are part of the history of teh USAmerican Left and we should acknowledge this openly. That said, what do we do? Certainly attempts have been made. For me, looking again at the history made me conclude, as I wrote above, that the SP-USA deserves serious reconsideration. They have weathered vicious storms and have survived with a platform I don´t have to pick and choose in order to support.

    To John, what you say will probably come true but it happens regularly within the Democratic Party, every time a new “spokesperson” gets attention (and, more importantly, votes) and threatens the Dems basically center-right-corporate agenda. The Democratic Party in the US is to the RIGHT of many European centrist parties, such as the Christian Democrats. Sure, many will leave but then what? Will they coalesce again elsewhere? I am unsure.

    To Max, much of what you say is true. But here is one instance where size doesn´t matter.
    What Icelanders did, like so many Europeans did after the second World War, is unite their progressive agenda to the traditionally (here it´d be the SP-USA) Left parties which were not supporters of Stanlinism. They knew the world they wanted was a socialist one where health care and education were free, where industry did not run government and where representation was proportional to the population. Sure they wanted more but the CIA did much to prevent this movement from going any further Leftwards than it achieved. (William Blums´”Killing Hope” is an excellent resource in this matter). And even then it was a struggle and people died for the gains they presently are celebrating (all the wealthier industrialized nations have single payer for example, in addition to freer and more equal access to education, etc.) So I don´t think just because things are smaller here they were more easily had.

    On the contrary, considering imperial domination of many smaller countries by bigger ones after the war, the utter devastation and poverty most countries suffered and the reluctance of people to piss off the US too much (or the USSR, for that matter, such as Hungary in its attempts to create a “socialism with a human face”) creating a better society took unity, vision and work. The SOcialist Parties were instrumental.

    As far as Greens not being socialist, for sure that´s true. But I´d say 80% of the Greens I knew and worked with in the US would gladly have been socialists were there such a chance being labelled one wouldn´t keep them from jobs or cause social pariahship.

    For me the journey was painful but was illuminated by living in Europe for the past 6 years (and my first exposure in the 1980’s when I lived in Japan for almost 5). “Socialism” remains a grand ideal, a promise of a better world and an attempt to create that world with no apologies. These people are and were idealists, to be sure, but they also were union members and felt solidarity with other workers. They believed compromise inevitable and they achieved some gains (like I mentioned above) we from the US could only dream of. They kept the name and worked until the system gave in and througout Europe Socialists are a part of the governmental systems and more importantly, are part of the regular debates in society.

    Oh, the world still looks Green to me. but the Socialists around the world got that message too and have adjusted accordingly. I guess it´s a personal thing for me. In this last third (if I´m lucky) of my life (I´ll be 49 this summer) I want to hold my head high and stay with what I believe is the right vision for the world I live in and for my children and children everywhere. At one time the USAmerican Left dared to dream of a better world. Why have we stopped that? Well, for one, the very name socialism makes people squawk in the US.

    Yet what do they want? No imperialism, no militarism, free education and health care, decentralized, democratic control of resources without corporate interference, a living wage, a cleaner, safer environment in which to live: these are the traditional ideas of the original Left, a socialist Left. Instead of trying to wrest control of the Dems (we keep doing this election after election and look where we are) or the Reps (e.g. Ron Paul) or even the Greens whose pillars are visionary and great but whose own thunder is squeezed out by Dems and whose vision is squeezed in by the media, why not just remember where these dreams came from and work from there?
    Just my thoughts…

  6. Don Hawkins said on February 11th, 2008 at 2:57 pm #

    No one is uniting and compromising to create a truly powerful political entity.
    Click on one degree and then two degrees. We are only two tenths of a degree away from one degree right now. In 8 years two degrees. We have seven years to keep CO 2 levels below 450ppm. Can it be done ,yes. The word is getting out.

  7. Max Shields said on February 11th, 2008 at 3:04 pm #

    Rev. José M. Tirado, I don’t disagree with much of what you’ve said.

    My point about size is that there is a critical mass that works against what you expressed in your post – non-hierachical organization. Americans (in general) share the hyper-individualism with the authoritarian search for a leader (persuasive or certain). A strange but real cultural mix. Re-building community is what’s needed. The relationship between state and locality has undermined community, the spiritual, economic and overall quality of life of our communities.

    That said…

    There are nations which are off the hegemonic table. Iceland is one as is Switzerland, and a whole host of others. Why? Because they do not possess what imperialism requires to keep the machine rolling – scarce resources. The USA is neither small nor without resources, but our history is one of 2 monolithic parties with hair splitting differences, and a monolithic corporate media. This is the result of the journey from inception to our current state. There were choices along the way, you can mark them in the actions taken. It wasn’t inevitable, but it was forged from a narrative that continues to sustain it. It is the predominate narrative which must be transformed.

    As an ideology, socialism has no currency in the USA. Single payer does. But call it socialism and you’ve killed it. As I said we can create solutions which and must include social and economic justice. Organizations struggle with identity. The Green Party is no different; and in a two party “world” any idea outside the mainstream is readily marginalized. That is why I think local is the only dynamic that works for social and economic justice. If we reconsider our approach, building community from the inside out we have the opportunity for that end we share with or without calling it socialism.

    On the national stage the battle is futile. The old saying in boxing goes, “keep hitting the body and the head will fall”. In political terms it’s grass-roots transformation and the pyramid will topple. This is perhaps the one point that Obama makes that I agree with: bottom up.


  8. Max Shields said on February 11th, 2008 at 5:36 pm #

    Just one more emphasized point, Jose. It is best not to underestimate the deep cultural underpinnings in the USA. This is an extremely individualistic, material driven, and, frequently, politically disengaged society (that is democracy is an occasion, not a way of life).

    The socialism you hope for will take much more than a new leader or a party. You mentioned the need for movement. That’s true but that movement must be built on top of a transformed culture. And again I think our best hope for that transformation is at the local level.

    When we’ve ideology (those times in our history like the early 20th century and 60s) has led the way, it has been undermined by our deep cultural characteristics. Capitalism, profits, competition are in the cultural “DNA”.

    I am optimistic that there are signs at the local level. But the work is huge.

  9. Rev. José M. Tirado said on February 12th, 2008 at 2:50 am #

    Hi Max,
    I think this is misleading. The Germanic/Scandinavian countries are hardly known for their “collective” mentality. On the contrary, ever since Roman times, the Germanic peoples were known (and admired) for their radical individuality and competitiveness. So I think the argument that the US is somehow more immune to “collective” ideas, particularly socialist ones, is inaccurate.

    The constant demonization of such intellectual sentiments, however, has made within the latter part of the 20th century socialist ideas harder to get out there. (McCarthyism, the first Red scare of the 1920´s, etc.) You can´t talk about the 8 hour work day, “weekends”, feminist rights, labor rights, etc. in the history of the US without noting that the socialists, particularly the Socialist Party, played a hugely significant role. FDR, scion of one of the wealthiest families in the US met with socialists during his first terms and is widely reported to have said “Look, I agree with what you are saying, now go out there and make me do it.” So the idea that somehow socialist ideas don´t get into USAmericans consciousness is historically wrong too.

    USAmericans get it. And more and more many are willing to look again at such ideas. I mean, let´s face it, every one of the “best places to live” as generally listed: Canada, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, etc. all have vigorous socialist policies in effect (single payer, paid maternity/paternity, 4-6 weeks paid vacation per year, etc.) and vibrant socialist parties. That´s no coincidence. They have mixed capitalist/socialist national economies, a greener emphasis, and a social contract that emphasizes people over profits and deemphasizes militarism and instead promotes negotiation. They didn´t suddenly wake up one morning and get those ideas. They had people fighting tooth and nail for years to get them.

    Thus, I absolutely agree that organizing “from below” is essential. But the quintessential USAmerican tendency to reinvent the wheel anytime an intellectual challenge arises, and to forget history and its lessons (and to ignore our own vibrant Left history) is killing us. Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein, Helen Keller among many, many others all espoused democratic socialist ideas in ways USAmericans understood and, more importantly, agreed with. Socialism, in that respect, is as “American” as compettition. The narrative depends upon one´s own adopted set of ideals.

    All I am suggesting is that we sit down and take a look at where many of our greatest ideas came from and revitalize that sector of the Left rather than giving up and saying “it can´t happen here” or hoping a few progressive Democrats appear on the horizon to lead us to the promised land. It won´t happen that way. For a start, I suggest reading Michael Harrington, Howard Zinn, Paul Foner, etc., or getting The Encyclopedia of the American Left just to see how exciting and vibrant our radical Left traditions were. Then check out the Socialist Party platform and seriously give it some thought.

How Did Western Civilization Get A Monopoly On “Moral Conscience” When It Has No Morality? By Paul Craig Roberts

January 24, 2008

How Did Western Civilization Get A Monopoly On “Moral Conscience” When It Has No Morality? By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
January 22, 2008

“The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.”

Five Western military leaders.

I read the statement three times trying to figure out the typo. Then it hit me, the West has now out-Orwelled Orwell: The West must nuke other countries in order to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction! In Westernspeak, the West nuking other countries does not qualify as the use of weapons of mass destruction.

The astounding statement comes from a paper prepared for a Nato summit in April by five top military leaders–an American, a German, a Dutchman, a Frenchman, and a Brit. It can be found here: [Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told, By Ian Traynor, The Guardian, January 22, 2008 ]

The paper, prepared by men regarded as distinguished leaders and not as escapees from insane asylums, argues that “the West’s values and way of life are under threat, but the West is struggling to summon the will to defend them.” The leaders find that the UN is in the way of the West’s will, as is the European Union which is obstructing NATO and “NATO’s credibility is at stake in Afghanistan.”

And that’s a serious matter. If NATO loses its credibility in Afghanistan, Western civilization will collapse just like the Soviet Union. The West just doesn’t realize how weak it is. To strengthen itself, it needs to drop more and larger bombs.

The German military leader blames the Merkel government for contributing to the West’s inability to defend its values by standing in the way of a revival of German militarism. How can Germany be “a reliable partner” for America, he asks, if the German government insists on “special rules” limiting the combat use of its forces in Afghanistan?

Ron Asmus, head of the German Marshall Fund and a former US State Department official, welcomed the paper as “a wake-up call.” Asmus means a call to wake-up to the threats from the brutal world, not to the lunacy of Western leaders.

Who, what is threatening the West’s values and way of life? Political fanaticism, religious fundamentalism, and the imminent spread of nuclear weapons, answer the five asylum escapees.

By political fanaticism, do they mean the neoconservatives who believe that the future of humanity depends on the US establishing its hegemony over the world? By religious fundamentalism, do they mean “rapture evangelicals” agitating for Armageddon or Christian and Israeli Zionists demanding a nuclear attack on Iran? By spread of nuclear weapons, do they mean Israel’s undeclared and illegal possession of several hundred nuclear weapons?

No. The paranoid military leaders see all the fanaticism, religious and otherwise, and all the threats to humanity as residing outside Western civilization (Israel is inside). The “increasingly brutal world,” of which the leaders warn, is “over there.” Only Muslims are fanatics. All us white guys are rational and sane.

There is nothing brutal about the US/Nato bombing of Serbia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, or the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, or the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, or the genocide Israel hopes to commit against Palestinians in Gaza.

All of this, as well as America’s bombing of Somalia, America’s torture dungeons, show trials of “detainees,” and overthrow of elected governments and installation of puppet rulers, is the West’s necessary response to keep the brutal world at bay.

Brutal things happen in the “brutal world” and are entirely the fault of those in the brutal world. None of this would happen if the inhabitants of the brutal world would just do as they are told. How can the civilized world with its monopoly on morality allow people in the brutal world to behave independently? I mean, really! God forbid, they might attack some innocent country.

The “brutal world” consists of those immoral fanatics who object to being marginalized by the West and who reply to mass bombings from the air and to the death and destruction inflicted on them through myriad ways by strapping on a suicide bomb.

Unable to impose its will on countries it has invaded with conventional arms, the West’s military leaders are now prepared to force compliance with the moral world’s will by threatening to nuke those who resist. You see, since the West has the monopoly on morality, truth, and justice, those in the outside world are obviously evil, wicked and brutal. Therefore, as President Bush tells us, it is a simple choice between good and evil, and there’s no better candidate than evil for being nuked. The sooner we can get rid of the brutal world, the sooner we will have “freedom and democracy” everywhere that’s left.

Meanwhile, the United States, the great moral light unto the world, has just prevented the United Nations from censuring Israel, the world’s other great moral light, for cutting off food supplies, medical supplies, and electric power to Gaza. You see, Gaza is in the outside world and is a home of the bad guys. Moreover, the wicked Palestinians there tricked the US when the US allowed them to hold a free election. Instead of electing the US candidate, the wicked voters elected a government that would represent them. The US and Israel overturned the Palestinian election in the West Bank, but those in Gaza clung to the government that they had elected. Now they are going to suffer and die until they elect the government that the US and Israel wants. I mean, how can we expect people in the brutal world to know what’s best for them?

The fact that the UN tried to stop Israel’s just punishment of the Gazans shows how right the five leaders’ report is about the UN being a threat to Western values and way of life. The UN is really against us. This puts the UN in the outside world and makes it a candidate for being nuked if not an outright terrorist organization. As our president said, “you are with us or against us.”

The US and Israel need a puppet government in Palestine so that a ghettoized remnant of Palestine can be turned into a “two state solution.” The two states will be Israel incorporating the stolen West Bank and a Palestinian ghetto without an economy, water, or contiguous borders.

This is necessary in order to protect Israel from the brutal outside world.

Inhabitants of the brutal world are confused about the “self-determination” advocated by Western leaders. It doesn’t mean that those outside Western civilization and Israel should decide for themselves. “Self” means American. The term, so familiar to us, means “American-determination.” The US determines and others obey.

It is the brutal world that causes all the trouble by not obeying.


Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

Bombed if you do, Bombed if you Don’t By Ron Paul

December 12, 2007

Bombed if you do, Bombed if you Don’t By Ron Paul

Dandelion Salad

By Ron Paul
12/11/07 “ICH

The latest National Intelligence Estimate has been greeted by a mixture of relief and alarm. As I have been saying all along, Iran indeed poses no quantifiable imminent nuclear threat to us or her neighbors. It is with much alarm, however, that we see the administration continue to ratchet up the war rhetoric as if nothing has changed.

Indeed nothing has changed from the administration’s perspective, as they have had this latest intelligence report for some time. Only this week has it been made known to the public. They want it both ways with Iran. On the one hand, they discredit the report entirely, despite it being one of the most comprehensive intelligence reports on the subject, with over 1,000 source notes in the document. On the other hand, when discrediting it fails, they claim that the timing of the abandonment of the weapons program, just as we were invading Iraq, means our pressure must have worked, so we must keep it up with a new round of even tougher sanctions. Russia and China are not buying this, apparently, and again we are finding ourselves on a lonely tenuous platform on the world stage.

The truth is Iran is being asked to do the logically impossible feat of proving a negative. They are being presumed guilty until proven innocent because there is no evidence with which to indict them. There is still no evidence that Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has ever violated the treaty’s terms – and the terms clearly state that Iran is allowed to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful, civilian energy needs. The United States cannot unilaterally change the terms of the treaty, and it is unfair and unwise diplomatically to impose sanctions for no legitimate reason.

Are we to think that Iran hasn’t noticed the duplicitous treatment being received by so-called nuclear threats around the globe? If they have been paying attention, and I think they have, they would see that if countries do have a nuclear weapon, they tend to be left alone, or possibly get a subsidy, but if they do not gain such a weapon then we threaten them. Why wouldn’t they want to pursue a nuclear weapon if that is our current foreign policy? The fact remains, there is no evidence they actually have one, or could have one any time soon, even if they immediately resumed a weapons program.

Our badly misguided foreign policy has already driven this country’s economy to the brink of bankruptcy with one war based on misinformation. It is unthinkable that despite lack of any evidence of a threat, some are still charging headstrong into yet another war in the Middle East when what we ought to be doing is coming home from Iraq, coming home from Korea, coming home from Germany and defending our own soil. We do not need to be interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and waging war when honest trade, friendship, and diplomacy are the true paths to peace and prosperity.

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The “Great Game”: Eurasia and the History of War by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

December 3, 2007

The “Great Game”: Eurasia and the History of War by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Dandelion Salad

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, December 3, 2007

The History of War

History is often self-repeating. Those who are oblivious to the lessons of history are, by virtue of ignorance, doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Samuel P. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations,” is an outright camouflage, an ideological instrument used to reach geo-political objectives.  This “conflict notion” is part of a broad strategy which has been used throughout history to divide, conquer, and rule.

By Huntington’s definitions, nine diverse civilizations co-inhabit Eurasia; establishing conflict between them is a means towards controlling them and eventually absorbing them in the Spencerian sense of war and the social evolution of nation-states and societies, as defined by British sociologist Herbert Spencer.

Is humanity witness once again to a gradual march towards a large-scale international war like the Second World War, as Vladimir Putin has warned the Russian people? Or is fear being used to push forward otherwise unacceptable global economic policies?

If the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the dual-thrones of Austria and Hungary (the Austro-Hungarian Empire), on June 28, 1914 was the cause of the First World War why then was there talk of a major war throughout Europe in 1905?

It was on the eve of the First World War that radical changes were made to the banking system in the U.S. and on the eve of the Second World War that otherwise unpopular economic reforms were implemented in Britain. War allows otherwise unpopular measures to be accepted by domestic populations or gives them stealthy means for execution.

Mackinder’s Warnings: Divide the Continentals (Eurasians)

Mackinder warned British strategists about preventing Eurasian unification:

“What if the Great Continent, the whole World-Island [Africa and Eurasia] or a large part of it [e.g., Russia, China, Iran, and India] were at some future time to become a single and united base of sea-power? Would not the other insular bases [e.g., Britain, the U.S., and Japan] be outbuilt [sic] as regards [to] ships and outmanned as regards [to] seamen?” [1]

Mackinder also went on to instruct Britain to prevent this unification from ever happening: a policy of balkanization was adopted by London, with a strategic aim of preventing Eurasian unification.

In addition, Mackinder also warned about the large populations of Eurasia. Mackinder argued that lasting empires were based on manpower:

“[The] vast Saracen [Arab] design of a northward and southward Dominion of Camel-men crossed by a westward and eastward Dominion of Shipmen was vitiated by one fatal defect; it lacked in its Arabian base the necessary man-power to make it good. But no student of the realities about which must turn the strategical thought of any government aspiring to world-power can afford to lose sight of the warning thus given by History.” [2]

Mackinder also makes the same observation about the short-lived empires of the peoples’ of the Eurasian steppes, such as the Mongols:

“When the Russian Cossacks first policed the steppes at the close of the Middle Ages, a great revolution was effected, for the Tartars, like the Arabs, had lacked the necessary man-power upon which to found a lasting Empire, but behind the Cossacks were the Russian ploughman, who have to-day [1905] grown to be a people of a hundred millions on the fertile plains of the Black and Baltic Seas.” [3]

Population is clearly an important geo-strategic issue. Under this scheme Russia, China, and India are viewed as threats. This is also why the U.S. will never give up its nuclear weapons. Aside from military superiority and nuclear weapons, how can the generally less populated NATO states keep a balance of power with such heavily populated states? It should also be noted that one of the reasons for European conquests and colonial expansion was also the fact that, at the time, European countries had (in relative terms) large populations.

Dividing, balkanizing, and finlandizing Eurasia, from Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R. to the Middle East and India, is consistent with these historical objectives outlined by Britain prior to the First World War. This is one of the reasons why Britain, France, and America gave refuge prior to World War I to various separatist movements from within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and Czarist Russia. Today, the U.S. and Britain are harbouring similar political groups against Iran, Sudan, Turkey, Russia, Serbia, China, and India. Nothing has changed. Only today Zbigniew Brzezinski makes these warnings and not Halford Mackinder.

Learning from History: The Prevention of the German Ostbewegung

In 1848, at St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt there was an attempt to create a single and large Central-Eastern European, German-dominated nation. This project did not move forward until half a century later, because of the opposition of the Habsburg Dynasty and the rivalry between Prussia and Austria.

Britain feared the German Drang nach Osten, the “drive to the East,” or the Ostbewegung or “eastward movement.”

For the most part this eastward movement, which started in 1200 with the extension of long distance trade, was not part of any German imperial ambitions. [4] The fear in British circles was that some form of unification between the two dominant powers in the Eurasian Heartland, namely Germany and Russia would occur. The fear in the Twenty-First Century is the unification of Russia, China, India, and Iran.

Before the First World War, British strategists believed that Germany was making important inroads towards becoming a global superpower. All that was required to elevate Germany was industrial control over Russia and the Ottoman Empire, which was well underway. Germany was already taking over British markets and threatening the U.S. and Britain economically.

Historically, Eastern Europe has been sandwiched between two great nations, Germany and Russia. After the Napoleonic era and up until the First World War, Eastern Europe was dominated by the Russians and then the Germans. Historically, British strategy was aimed at weakening Czarist Russia until Germany replaced Russia as the dominant power in Eastern Europe. This is one of the reasons why Britain and France supported the Ottoman Turks in their wars against the Russians.

German influence in Eastern Europe was secured under a partnership between the Hungarians (Magyars) and Austrians. German influence had also been growing economically, politically, and industrially under the Ottoman Turks in the Middle East. In Czarist Russia, before the First World War, German influence was politically and economically significant. The Russian capital, St. Petersburg, was in a Germanized area of the Russian Czardom and many Russian aristocrats and nobles were Germanized and German speaking.

German industrial colonies or settlements were also established in the Ukraine and the Caucasus within the territory of Czarist Russia. Similarly German settlements were established in the Levant, within the territory of the Ottoman Turks. The Ostbewegung was more about economics and a united and strong Eurasian industrial base under the control of Germany than it was about the myth of German colonization of all Eurasia.

However, Germany’s means of economic expansion did change about half a century later with the rise of Adolph Hitler in Berlin, who tried to force a German-driven form of globalization in Eurasia by military means. Is this being repeated by those who hold power in Washington, D.C. and London?

A Lesson from History: Playing the Russians and the Germans in War

Economics and industrial competition was the real key behind the tensions that resulted in the First World War. Mackinder also states this. In reality the truth of the matter was that the Germans were from an economic standpoint expanding eastwards. The German demographic push to the East was also over exaggerated. Historically, in many cases Germans were invited as merchants and craftsmen by Eastern European states, such as Bohemia and Hungary, before the unification of Germany under Prince Otto von Bismarck the Prime Minister of Prussia.

Mackinder and others in Britain saw this all as part of a gradual trend that would unify the Eurasian Heartland under a single and powerful player.

The key to stopping the emergence of a single powerful player in the Heartland was to play the Germans against the Russians:

“In East Europe there are also two principle elements, the Teutonic [German] and the Slavonic, but no equilibrium has been established between them as between the Romance [Latin-based speaking] and Teutonic elements of West Europe. The key to the whole situation in East Europe — and it is a fact which cannot be laid to heart at the present moment — is the German claim to dominance over the Slavs. Vienna and Berlin, just beyond the boundary of West Europe, stand already within territory that was Slav in the earlier Middle Ages; they represent the first step of the German out of his native country as a conqueror eastward.” [5]

In the eyes of Britain, playing the Russians and the Germans against one another was vital to keeping the Continentals from uniting.

The Roots of an Anglo-American Compact

The British and the U.S. were clearly trying to weaken both Germany and Czarist Russia. This is evident from British and American support for the Japanese “when it [meaning Britain] kept the [naval] ring round the Russo-Japanese War,” in 1904 to 1905. [6]

By the time  of the Russo-Japanese War the Anglo-American alliance had already formed between the U.S. and Britain as Mackinder notes:

“Those events began some twenty years ago [in 1898] with three great victories won by the British fleet without the firing of a gun. The first was at Manila [in the Philippines], in the Pacific Ocean, when a German squadron threatened to intervene to protect a Spanish squadron [in the Spanish-American War], which was defeated by an American squadron, and a British squadron stood by the Americans.”[7]

In Mackinder’s words “So was the first step taken towards the reconciliation of British and American hearts.” [8] This was also the point in history where the U.S. became a major imperialist power.

It should also be noted that the Spanish-American War is believed by some historians to have been started under a false pretext. The U.S. government started the war, blaming the Spanish for the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Cuba, from whence comes the quote that was used to build American public support against the Spanish: “Remember the Maine!

The Second World War: Playing the Soviets against the Germans

The strategy of playing the main players in Eurasia against one another continued into the Second World War. Germany, France, and the Soviet Union were played against one another just as Germany, Czarist Russia, and the Ottoman Empire were before the First World War.

This is evident from the fact that Britain and France only declared war on Germany when both Germany and the U.S.S.R. invaded Poland in 1939. The Locarno Pacts and Hoare-Laval Plan were used by the British government to push the Germans eastward to confront the Soviets by neutralizing France and allowing Germany to militarize, while appeasement under Neville Chamberlain was a calculated move aimed at liquidating any states between Germany and the Soviet Union and establishing a common German-Soviet border. [9]

Both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were aware of Anglo-American policy. Both countries signed a non-aggression pact prior to the Second World War, largely in response to the Anglo-American stance. In the end it was because of Soviet and German distrust for one another that the Soviet-German alliance collapsed. Presently, the U.S. government is using the same strategies in regards to Russia, China, Iran, India, and other Eurasian players.

The Roots of Strategic Balkanization: Preventing the Unification of Eurasia 

Mackinder stipulated that the Eurasian Heartland started in Eastern Europe and on the frontiers of Germany. It was from Eastern Europe that a foothold could be established for entrance into the Eurasian interior.

London’s greatest fear, until the division of Austria-Hungary and a creation of a buffer zone between the Germans and the Russians with the emergence of several new states after 1918, was the unification of the Germans and the Slavs as a single Eurasian entity.

British balkanization policy was a synergy of colonial policy, power politics, economics, and historical observation.

Strategic balkanization probably came to maturity when Italy and Germany became unified nation-states and the British realized the dangers that centralized and strong states in Europe could pose. Once again, economics was a driving force. Before this period balkanization was used for colonial means. After the formation, or rather unification, of Germany and Italy balkanization also became a means to neutralize potential British rivals.

František Palacký, the famous Czech historian, is quoted as stating: “If Austria [meaning the Habsburg or Austro-Hungarian Empire] did not exist, it would be necessary to create her, in the interests of humanity itself.”

This is a noteworthy statement because Palacký was a Slav, who defended the Austro-Hungarian Empire due to its multi-ethnic characteristics.

The Habsburg Empire was a regional synthesis between the Germans, the Hungarians (Magyar), and the Slavs. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, like the former Yugoslavia that would spring from its ashes, was also religiously diverse. Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived within its borders and in 1912 Islam became a state religion, alongside the Roman Catholic denomination of Christianity. The British feared that this model under the leadership of German industrial might could be extended to Germany, Austria-Hungary and Czarist Russia, thereby creating a powerful German-Slavic political entity in the Eurasian Heartland. [10] The synthesis was already underway, with the inclusion of the Ottoman Empire, until the First World War stopped it. As already stated this process was part of a historical fusion. Austria-Hungary had to be dismantled in the eyes of London, with a view to obstructing any unification process between the Continentals.

For these reasons separatist nationalist movements were utilized and manipulated. Czechoslovak leaders, such as Milan Rastislav Štefánik, fought for the French and British during the First World War. It should also be noted that in September 1918, the U.S. government recognized Czechoslovakia before it was even created and that the Pittsburgh Agreement, which paved the way for breaking up the Austro-Hungarian Empire and creating Czechoslovakia, was signed in Pennsylvania with the support of the British and U.S. governments. Three “Czecho-Slovak” legions were also formed to fight Germany and the Austro-Hungarians by Britain and France in the First World War.

Redrawing Eastern Europe and the Middle East: The Template for Iraq

Since the First World War instability has been continuously fueled from Kosovo in the Balkans to the province of Xinjiang, which constitutes China’s Western frontier. This is an important fact that manifests itself from events such as the division of India to the division of Yugoslavia.

The rationale for establishing new states in Eastern Europe is also explained by Mackinder:

“Securely independent the Polish and Bohemian [the Czech and Slovak] nations cannot be unless as the apex of a broad wedge of independence, extending from the Adriatic and Black Seas to the Baltic; but seven independent States, with a total of more than sixty million people, traversed by railways linking them securely with one another, and having access through the Adriatic, Black, and Baltic Seas with the [Atlantic] Ocean, will together effectively balance the Germans of Prussia [meaning Germany] and Austria, and nothing less will suffice for that purpose.” [11]

Although Bohemia is properly a reference to the Czechs, in this case Mackinder is using it to mean both the Czechs and the Slovaks or Czechoslovakia.

By 1914, the Germans had already secured significant inroads into the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire had to be dismantled too. However, in the eyes of British strategists, Russia and Germany were the two main long-term opponents. To undermine the process of unification between the Germans and Russians, a shatter-belt region had to be created in Eastern Europe between Germany and Russia.

After the First World War, Anglo-American planners projected the replacement of Germany by the Soviet Union, the player that emerged from the ashes of Czarist Russia, as the most powerful player in Eurasia. Creating a shatter-belt zone around the western portion of the Soviet Union from the Baltic to the Balkans and the Persian Gulf became a strategic objective for the British. This is one of the reasons why so many new nations were created in Eastern Europe and the Middle East after the First World War and again in Eastern Europe and Central Asia after the Cold War.

As Anglo-American strategists started looking at global strategy in a holistic view they adopted the concept of trans-continental encirclement.

The Rimland is the concept of a geographic area adjacent or circling the Eurasian “Heartland.” Western Europe, Central Europe, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia, and the Far East comprise this area from Western Eurasia to Eastern Eurasia. Nicholas Spykman’s Rimland helps give an objective and historical context to the present zones of conflict encircling Russia, China, and Iran that start from the Balkans, the Kurdish areas of the Middle East, Iraq, Caucasia, and go through NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan, Kashmir, Indo-China, and finish in the Korean Peninsula. The geographic locations of these areas say much as to which countries or players are disturbed.

Iraq is being redrawn in a step by step fashion, but firstly though its political landscape and a system of soft federalism. This holistic concept is also getting stronger and the existence of European and Asiatic missile shield projects are connected to this approach as is the brinkmanship to create an American-dominated global military alliance.

The Pirenne Thesis

In his book, Mohammed and Charlemagne, Belgian historian Henri Pirenne, states that Charlemagne and the Frankish Empire would never have existed if it were not for the period of Arab expansion in the Mediterranean region. Henri Pirenne became known for his thesis that the Germanic barbarians, such as the Franks and Goths, that were traditionally credited by historians for the fall of the Western Roman Empire in reality merged themselves with the Western Roman Empire and that the economic and institutional templates of Western Rome continued and stayed intact. Pirenne challenged the traditional historic narrative that the Germanic barbarians were the reason for the decline of Western Rome.

Pirenne seems correct in the basis of his theory. In most cases Western Roman ways were maintained by the Germanic kingdoms. The facts that the Franks, a Germanic people, adopted Latin (which eventually evolved into French over time) as their language or that the Roman Church stayed intact as an important societal institution supports his observations and thesis.

The decline of Rome is more probably based on an end to an economy based on imperial expansion, slavery, over-militarization, and political corruption as its main factors. The decline of the Western European economy was not because the Arabs were unwilling to continue trade with Western Europe, but because of militarism and the de-centralization that went with it, hand-in-hand; the end result being European feudalism. Is this process repeating itself today?

To Pirenne, it was clear that the economic framework of the Roman Empire, Western and Eastern (Byzantine), was fixed around the economy and trade of the Mediterranean Sea. Western Rome only transformed from a politically centralized entity to a network of politically separate kingdoms and states, but with the same economic framework, fixed on the Mediterranean, intact.

Pirenne theorized that the real decline in the Western Roman entity was brought about by the rapid expansion of the Arabs. The Levant, Egypt, various Mediterranean islands, portions of Anatolia (Asia Minor), Spain, Portugal, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, which were all Mediterranean regions, were all incorporated within the vast cosmopolitan realm of the Arabs. According to Pirenne, the reason that this decline was brought about was the cut in ties between the integrated economies of most of the Mediterranean and Western Europe that was brought about by the Arabs. Western Europe effectively degenerated into a marginalized economic hinterland.

Another factor that should be added to Pirenne’s theory about the economic decline of Western Europe after the fall of Rome was that Eastern Rome (Byzantium) also diverted its trade, or reduced its level, from Western Europe due to economic realities brought about by the Arab expansion in the Mediterranean. Also in part the dissolved economic links between Western Europe and the Byzantines was because of the differences and rivalry between the Western Christian Church and the Eastern Christian Church that developed with time. Animosity also existed between the authorities in Constantinople and Western Europe and further effected economic ties. These tensions were also in many cases economic in origin.

The Pirenne Thesis states that Western Europe was transformed into a series of farm-based economies, which slowly gave rise to European feudalism, due to Arab expansion. Raw resources were being exported outwards with little imports to Western Europe, whereas before items and resources such as valuable metals and Egyptian papyrus would enter Western Europe. This was because the economy of Western Europe was cut off from the rest of the globe. The European voyages of discovery that occur later can also be traced to this period as a means to reverse this process.

The Eurasians Strike Back: The New Silk Road

Today, across Eurasia there is a renewed drive at economic and socio-political cooperation and integration. The Silk Road is being revived. Iran, Russia, and China are the most important forces in this project. Kazakhstan is also playing a very important role. Railway networks, transport corridors, electric grids, and various forms of infrastructure are being developed, linked, and built in an effort to integrate Eurasia.

Central Asia is set to become the mid-axis and the heartland of a series of north-south and west-east corridors. A strategic triangle between Russia, Iran, and China will set the border for a Eurasian trade zone that can eventually bring Africa and chunks of Europe into its orbit. Latin America has already anticipated this shift and is preparing to redirect part of its trade from the U.S. and E.U. towards this area.

China is a global centre of labour while Russia, Iran, and Central Asia hold 15% or more of global oil reserves and 50% of the world’s reserves of natural gas. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) also holds half the planet’s estimated population. Together these areas also have vast and important markets.

Eurasia is coming together in a wave of regional integration and cross-border trade. Russia and Kazakhstan have also made proposals for the eventual formation of a Eurasian Union. The customs union established between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan is a step towards this Eurasian Union. Iran has also made proposals for the formation of a so-called Islamic Union between nations with Muslim populations.

This is all effectively a re-introduction of the Pirenne Thesis in a modern context. In this second round of the Pirennian cycle it is the trade-dependent economies of Western Europe and the U.S., the players of the Eurasian periphery and the maritime realms, that are under threat of being marginalized like the former areas of Western Rome were during the Arab expansion in the Mediterranean. The Eurasians are striking back; they realize that it is not them who needs the U.S. or E.U., but the other way around.

A Mediterranean Union and an Islamic Union: The West versus the Eurasian Heartland

Reflecting on the Pirenne Thesis, it is also not historically ironic that the E.U. is pushing for the establishment of a Mediterranean Union, which would economically merge the nations of the Mediterranean and E.U. together with both Israel and Turkey playing key roles. This is a Western answer to the growing strength and cohesion in the Eurasian Heartland between Russia, Iran, and China.

To counter this drive Russia, China, and Iran have been courting the nations of the Mediterranean. In fact after Nicholas Sarkozy’s trip to Algeria, as part of a tour to promote the creation of a Mediterranean Union, an Iranian delegation led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived with a counter-proposal for the creation of an alternative bloc; this was what the Iranians called an Islamic Union.

The Islamic Union is essentially a rival economic project to the Mediterranean Union in the Mediterranean lands of North Africa and the Middle East, rather than the institutionalization of Islam within any of these states. Undoubtedly, the Iranian proposal must have had some backdoor support from Moscow. It is more than likely that the Islamic Union will be linked in some form to the Eurasian Union proposed by Russia and Kazakhstan. These regional blocs can be overlapping and countries like Iran can hypothetically belong to the Eurasian Union and the Islamic Union, just as how France and Italy could belong to the E.U. and the proposed Mediterranean Union. This is also part of the brinkmanship of turning several regions into supranational entities and ultimately into super-national entities that would merge with like entities.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict and the so-called Mid-East Peace Process, essentially including the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, are tied to the joint American-E.U. economic project that is the Mediterranean Union, which will see the integration of the economies of the Arab World with that of Israel in a network of regionalized economic relations that will ultimately merge the economies of Europe, Israel, Turkey, and the Arab World. The Mediterranean Union is a project that was drafted years before the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. The deep ties between Turkey and Israel have been a preparatory step towards eventually establishing this Mediterranean Union with the participation and full involvement of Israel as one of its pillars.

The Bloc Concept and Regionalization: Orwellian Showdown between Oceania and Eurasia?

The players of the Eurasian Heartland realize what is happening. Moreover, France and Germany, like India, are being courted by the players of the Eurasian Heartland to encourage them to de-link themselves from the Anglo-American axis.  This is probably why the euro is not being targeted on international currency markets by Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and China in the same way as the U.S. dollar. Or is this because America is the immediate threat to these countries?

The Eurasians are slowly prying the hold of Western financial centres on global transactions. The establishment of a petro-ruble system in Russia and the republics of the former U.S.S.R., as well as the establishment of an international Iranian energy bourse on Kish Island are part of this trend.

However, it seems too late to end the concord between the Franco-German and Anglo-American sides. Franco-German interests appear to have become entrenched with Anglo-American interests. A deal has been reached to eventually merge, with regard to trading systems, the economies of the E.U. and North America that will guarantee the interests of Britain, the U.S., France, and Germany.[12] This deal will also allow the four major powers within the so-called Western World to challenge the Eurasian Heartland as it merges into a single powerful bloc or player.

Whenever a dominate player has started to emerge in the Eurasian Heartland there have historically been wars fought — even the fear of the emergence of one has been the cause of conflict — to prevent the ascendancy of such a power or player. These different stages of regionalism and regionalized mergers mean several things, but what this can mean in Orwellian terms is that Oceania and Eurasia are preparing to challenge one another. [13]


This article is a continuation of The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’ Ambitions in Eurasia (Nazemroaya, 26.08.2007) and lightly touches on the concept of the Mediterranean Union, which is covered in an article yet to be released.

[1] Halford John Mackinder, Chap. 3 (The Seaman’s Point of View), in Democratic Ideals and Reality (London, U.K.: Constables and Company Ltd., 1919), p.91.

[2] Ibid., Chap. 4 (The Landman’s Point of View), p.121.

Note: This chapter in Democratic Ideals and Reality is based on an essay, Man-power as a Measure of National and Imperial Strength, that Mackinder wrote for the National Review (U.K.) in 1905. It should also be noted that Mackinder and various circles in London viewed the large populations of Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Czardom of Russia as threats that should be addressed. If one reads the full works of Mackinder they will come to realize that he advocated for some form of Social Darwinism amongst nations, and saw democratic idealism as a subject that should be put aside to preserve the British imperial order. Mackinder even states that the commerce that the British enjoyed was due to the use of British guns and force (Chap. 5, pp.187-188).

[3] Ibid., p.142.

[4] Lonnie R. Johnson, Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends, 2nd ed. (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 37-42.

[5] Mackinder, Democratic Ideals, Op. cit., Chap. 5 (The Rivalry of Empires), pp.160-161.

[6] Ibid., Chap. 3, p.78.

[7] Ibid., pp.77-78.

[8] Ibid., p.78.

[9] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden (San Pedro, California: GSG & Associates Publishers, 1981), pp. 233-235, 237-248, 253, 264-281, 285-302.

“…from 1920 to 1938 [the aims were] the same: to maintain the balance of power in Europe by building up Germany against France and [the Soviet Union]; to increase Britain’s weight in that balance by aligning with her the Dominions [e.g., Australia and Canada] and the United States; to refuse any commitments (especially any commitments through the League of Nations, and above all any commitments to aid France) beyond those existing in 1919; to keep British freedom of action; to drive Germany eastward against [the Soviet Union] if either or both of these two powers became a threat to the peace [probably meaning economic strength] of Western Europe (p.240).”

“…the Locarno agreements guaranteed the frontier of Germany with France and Belgium with the powers of these three states plus Britain and Italy. In reality the agreements gave France nothing, while they gave Britain a veto over French fulfillment of her alliances with Poland and the Little Entente. The French accepted these deceptive documents for reason of internal politics (…) This trap [the Locarno agreements] consisted of several interlocking factors. In the first place, the agreements did not guarantee the German frontier and the demilitarized condition of the Rhineland against German actions, but against the actions of either Germany or France. This, at one stroke, gave Britain the right to oppose any French action against Germany in support of her allies to the east of Germany. This meant that if Germany moved east against Czechoslovakia, Poland, and eventually [the Soviet Union], and if France attacked Germany’s western frontier in support of Czechoslovakia or Poland, as her alliances bound her to do, Great Britain, Belgium, and Italy might be bound by the Locarno Pacts to come to the aid of Germany (p.264).”

“This event of March 1936, by which Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland, was the most crucial event in the whole history of appeasement. So long as the territory west of the Rhine and a strip fifty kilometers wide on the east bank of the river were demilitarized, as provided in the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pacts, Hitler would never have dared to move against Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. He would not have dared because, with western Germany unfortified and denuded of German soldiers, France could have easily driven into the Ruhr industrial area and crippled Germany so that it would be impossible to go eastward. And by this date [1936], certain members of the Milner Group and of the British Conservative government had reached the fantastic idea that they could kill two birds with one stone by setting Germany and [the Soviet Union] against one another in Eastern Europe. In this way they felt that two enemies would stalemate one another, or that Germany would become satisfied with the oil of Rumania and the wheat of the Ukraine. It never occurred to anyone in a responsible position that Germany and [the Soviet Union] might make common cause, even temporarily, against the West. Even less did it occur to them that [the Soviet Union] might beat Germany and thus open all Central Europe to Bolshevism (p.265).”

“In order to carry out this plan of allowing Germany to drive eastward against [the Soviet Union], it was necessary to do three things: (1) to liquidate all the countries standing between Germany and Russia; (2) to prevent France from honoring her alliances with these countries [i.e., Czechoslovakia and Poland]; and (3) to hoodwink the [British] people into accepeting this as a necessary, indeed, the only solution to the international problem. The Chamberlain group were so successful in all three of these things that they came within an ace of succeeding, and failed only because of the obstinacy of the Poles, the unseemly haste of Hitler, and the fact that at the eleventh hour the Milner Group realized the [geo-strategic] implications of their policy and tried to reverse it (p.266).”

“Four days later, Hitler announced Germany’s rearmament, and ten days after that, Britain condoned the act by sending Sir John Simon on a state visit to Berlin. When France tried to counterbalance Germany’s rearmament by bringing the Soviet Union into her eastern alliance system in May 1935, the British counteracted this by making the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 18 June 1935. This agreement, concluded by Simon, allowed Germany to build up to 35 percent of the size of the British Navy (and up to 100 percent in submarines). This was a deadly stab in the back of France, for it gave Germany a navy considerably larger than the French in the important categories of ships (capital ships and aircraft carriers), because France was bound by treaty to only 33 percent of Britain’s; and France in addition, had a worldwide empire to protect and the unfriendly Italian Navy off her Mediterranean coast. This agreement put the French Atlantic coast so completely at the mercy of the German Navy that France became completely dependent on the British fleet for protection in this area (pp.269-270).”

“The liquidation of the countries between Germany and [the Soviet Union] could proceed as soon as the Rhineland was fortified, without fear on Germany’s part that France would be able to attack her in the west while she was occupied in the east (p.272).”

“The countries marked for liquidation included Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, but did not include Greece and Turkey, since the [Milner] Group had no intention of allowing Germany to get down onto the Mediterranean ‘lifeline.’ Indeed, the purpose of the Hoare-Laval Plan of 1935, which wrecked the collective-security system by seeking to give most Ethiopia to Italy, was intended to bring an appeased Italy in position alongside [Britain], in order to block any movement of Germany southward rather than eastward [towards the Soviet Union] (p.273).”

[10] Mackinder, Democratic Ideals, Op. cit., Chap. 5, pp.160-168.

[11] Ibid., Chap. 6 (The Freedom of Nations), pp. 214-215.

[12] US and EU agree ’single market,’ British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), April 30, 2007.

[13] Critical thinking should be applied to this last statement and the level of cooperation between both sides should be carefully examined.

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Mushy: Handsome in Uniform

November 8, 2007

November 7, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

Mushy: Handsome in Uniform


President Bush came to the steps of the Capitol yesterday for a Second Inaugural do-over. Here is the text of his revised speech:

ON this day, when we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, we must remember: Constitutions don’t work for everyone. It’s not a one-size-fits-all type deal.

We are led, by recent events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the repression of liberty in other lands.

Once I thought my daddy was a wimp for cuddlin’ up real close with dictators, tradin’ stability for freedom. But now I gotta admit, that’s a darn fair trade. As I told Mushy last night on that cool, high-tech videophone I got in the Sit Room, the best hope for expanding peace is expanding dictators.

In America’s ideal of freedom, we are ennobled by a heart for the weak. But we must also have a heart for the strongmen.

Sometimes when the soul of a nation speaks, we must listen. But if that soul is housed in a bunch of trial lawyers wearing identical dark suits and calling my man Mushy a “dog,” I say, bring on the batons. Police tear-gassing lawyers is really just a foreign version of tort reform, which I support.

Those lawyers should be in jail. Mushy told me they were reckonin’ to represent Osama when General-General catches him. Which will be any day now. He’s a man of his word.

I don’t blame Mushy for dissolving that disloyal Supreme Court. When I needed to subvert the democratic process during the 2000 recount, my Supreme Court was totally supportive.

House arrest for that fired chief justice sounds very relaxin’, especially if he’s got a feather pillow.

I think Mushy should put Benazir Bhutto under house arrest in Karachi. They call her “a kleptocrat in an Hermès scarf.” I call her a chaos magnet.

She’s slippery. One minute she’s overlooking Mushy’s flaws, the next she’s appalled by them. I’m not even sure what nickname to use. Her friends called her Pinky at Harvard and Bibi later. I think I like Pinky. From the day of our foundin’, we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.

But I looked into Mushy’s eyes and saw a master, a man committed to helping us fight terror. And sometimes we must fight terror with tyranny. He promised me he’d be a more low-key autocrat, stop wearing that scary uniform — at least when he’s playing tennis.

From now on, it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of tyrannical movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending democracy in our world so liberty can thrive.

We will persistently clarify the moral choice before every ruler and nation: Choose oppression, which can work, as we see with our Arab allies, or freedom, which — O.K., I admit it this once — we can’t make work in Iraq.

America’s influence is not unlimited. And unfortunately for the oppressed, Mushy’s open defiance is helping to further undermine America’s influence. But we will use what influence we have left to pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains and that human beings aspire to live at the mercy of bullies.

I’m gonna have to sweet-talk Laura on coming around on Burma. I might even have to kiss her hand, like Sarko.

Condi was very worried about Mushy suspending the Constitution, but Vice says Constitutions are for sissies. He doesn’t see anything wrong with Mushy’s press blackout. He thinks we can learn a few lessons from him.

Vice says if we had someone decisive like Mushy in Iraq instead of those floppy Iranian puppets we put in power, we’d be a lot better off.

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will ignore your oppression and excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will not stand with you.

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to mistrust them. Stop your journey of progress and justice, and America will not only walk at your side, we’ll give you billions of dollars and lots of big-ticket stuff, like F-16s — no strings attached. And we’ll take you at your word that you have no intention of using them against India.

In the long run, there is justice without freedom, and there can be human rights once the human rights activists have been thrown in the pokey.

Three years ago, I believed that the most important question history would ask us was: Did our generation advance the cause of freedom?

But now I am older and wiser. I know that the most important question history will ask us is: What’s a little martial law between friends?

On the Eve of Destruction By Scott Ritter

October 23, 2007

On the Eve of Destruction By Scott Ritter

By Scott Ritter
Oct 22, 2007

Don’t worry, the White House is telling us. The world’s most powerful leader was simply making a rhetorical point. At a White House press conference last week, just in case you haven’t heard, President Bush informed the American people that he had told world leaders “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” World War III. That is certainly some rhetorical point, especially coming from the man singularly most capable of making such an event reality.

Pundits have raised their eyebrows and comics are busy writing jokes, but the president’s reference to Armageddon, no matter how cavalierly uttered and subsequently brushed away, suggests an alarming context. Some might note that the comment was simply an offhand response to a reporter’s question, the kind of free-thinking scenario that baffles Bush so. In a way, this makes what the president said even more disturbing, since we now have an insight into the vision, and related terminology, which hovers just below the horizon in the brain of George W. Bush.

When I was a weapons inspector with the United Nations, there was a jostling that took place at the end of each day, when decisions needed to be made and authorization documents needed to be signed. In an environment of competing agendas, each of us who championed a position sought to be the “last man in,” namely the person who got to imprint the executive chairman (our decision maker) with the final point of view for the day. Failure to do so could find an inspection or point of investigation sidetracked for days or weeks after the executive chairman became distracted by a competing vision. I understand the concept of “imprinting,” and have seen it in action. What is clear from the president’s remarks is that, far from an innocent rhetorical fumble, his words, and the context in which he employed them, are a clear indication of the imprinting which is taking place behind the scenes at the White House. If the president mentions World War III in the context of Iran’s nuclear program, one can be certain that this is the very sort of discussion that is taking place in the Oval Office.

A critical question, therefore, is who was the last person to “imprint” the president prior to his public allusion to World War III? During his press conference, Bush noted that he awaited the opportunity to confer with his defense secretary, Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice following their recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. So clearly the president hadn’t been imprinted recently by either of the principle players in the formulation of defense and foreign policy. The suspects, then, are quickly whittled down to three: National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Vice President Dick Cheney, and God.

Hadley is a long-established neoconservative thinker who has for the most part operated “in the shadows” when it comes to the formulation of Iran policy in the Bush administration. In 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Hadley (then the deputy national security adviser) instituted what has been referred to as the “Hadley Rules,” a corollary of which is that no move will be made which alters the ideological positioning of Iran as a mortal enemy of the United States. These “rules” shut down every effort undertaken by Iran to seek a moderation of relations between it and the United States, and prohibited American policymakers from responding favorably to Iranian offers to assist with the fight against al-Qaida; they also blocked the grand offer of May 2003 in which Iran outlined a dramatic diplomatic initiative, including a normalization of relations with Israel. The Hadley Rules are at play today, in an even more nefarious manner, with the National Security Council becoming involved in the muzzling of former Bush administration officials who are speaking out on the issue of Iran. Hadley is blocking Flynt Leverett, formerly of the National Security Council, from publishing an Op-Ed piece critical of the Bush administration on the grounds that any insight into the machinations of policymaking (or lack thereof) somehow strengthens Iran’s hand. Leverett’s article would simply underscore the fact that the Bush administration has spurned every opportunity to improve relations with Iran while deliberately exaggerating the threat to U.S. interests posed by the Iranian theocracy.

The silencing of informed critics is in keeping with Hadley’s deliberate policy obfuscation. There is still no official policy in place within the administration concerning Iran. While a more sober-minded national security bureaucracy works to marginalize the hawkish posturing of the neocons, the administration has decided that the best policy is in fact no policy, which is a policy decision in its own right. Hadley has forgone the normal procedures of governance, in which decisions impacting the nation are written down, using official channels, and made subject to review and oversight by those legally and constitutionally mandated and obligated to do so. A policy of no policy results in secret policy, which means, according to Hadley himself, the Bush administration simply does whatever it wants to, regardless. In the case of Iran, this means pushing for regime change in Tehran at any cost, even if it means World War III.

But Hadley is simply a facilitator, bureaucratic “grease” to ease policy formulated elsewhere down the gullet of a national security infrastructure increasingly kept in the dark about the true intent of the Bush administration when it comes to Iran. With the Department of State and the Pentagon now considered unfriendly ground by the remaining hard-core neoconservative thinkers still in power, policy formulation is more and more concentrated in the person of Vice President Cheney and the constitutionally nebulous “Office of the Vice President.”

Cheney and his cohorts have constructed a never-never land of oversight deniability, claiming immunity from both executive and legislative checks and balances. With an unchallenged ability to classify anything and everything as secret, and then claim that there is no authority inherent in government to oversee that which has been thus classified, the Office of the Vice President has transformed itself into a free republic’s worst nightmare, assuming Caesar-like dictatorial authority over almost every aspect of American national security policy at home and abroad. From torture to illegal wiretapping, to arms control (or lack of it) to Iran, Dick Cheney is the undisputed center of policy power in America today. While there are some who will claim that in this time of post-9/11 crisis such a process of bureaucratic streamlining is essential for the common good, the reality is far different.
It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this has never been truer than in the case of Cheney. What Cheney is doing behind his shield of secrecy can be simply defined: planning and implementing a preemptive war of aggression. During the Nuremberg tribunal in the aftermath of World War II, the chief American prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, stated, “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Today, we have a vice president who articulates publicly about global conflict, and who speaks in not-so-veiled language about a looming Armageddon. If there is such a future for America and the world, let one thing be certain; World War III, as postulated by Dick Cheney, would be an elective war, and not a conflict of tragic necessity. This makes the crime even greater.

Sadly, Judge Jackson’s words are but an empty shell. The global community lacks a legally binding definition of what constitutes a war of aggression, or even an act of aggression. But that isn’t the point. America should never find itself in a position where it is being judged by the global community regarding the legality of its actions. Judge Jackson established a precedent of jurisprudence concerning aggression based upon American principles and values, something the international community endorsed. The fact that current American indifference to the rule of law prevents the international community from certifying a definition of criminality when it comes to aggression, whether it be parsed as “war” or simply an “act,” does not change the fact that the Bush administration, in the person of Dick Cheney, is actively engaged in the committing of the “supreme [war] crime,” which makes Cheney the supreme war criminal. If the world is not empowered to judge him as such, then let the mantle of judgment fall to the American people. Through their elected representatives in Congress, they should not only bring this reign of unrestrained abuse of power to an end, but ensure that such abuse never again is attempted by an American official by holding to account, to the full extent of the law, those who have trampled on the Constitution of the United States and the ideals and principles it enshrines.

But what use is the rule of law, even if fairly and properly implemented, if in the end he who is entrusted with executive power takes his instructions from an even higher authority? President Bush’s relationship with “God” (or that which he refers to as God) is a matter of public record. The president himself has stated that “God speaks through me” (he acknowledged this before a group of Amish in Pennsylvania in the summer of 2004). Exactly how God speaks through him, and what precisely God says, is not a matter of speculation. According to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, President Bush told him and others that “God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.” As such, at least in the president’s mind, God has ordered Bush to transform himself into a modern incarnation of St. Michael, smiting all that is evil before him. “We are in a conflict between good and evil. And America will call evil by its name,” the president told West Point cadets in a speech in 2002.

The matter of how and when an individual chooses to practice his faith, or lack thereof, is a deeply personal matter, one which should be kept from public discourse. For a president to so openly impose his personal religious beliefs, as Bush has done, on American policy formulation and implementation represents a fundamental departure from not only constitutional intent concerning the separation of church and state but also constitutional mandate concerning the imposition of checks and balances required by the American system of governance. The increasing embrace by this president of the notion of a unitary executive takes on an even more sinister aspect when one realizes that not only does the Bush administration seek to nullify the will of the people through the shackling of the people’s representatives in Congress, but that the president has forgone even the appearance of constitutional constraint by evoking the word of his personal deity, as expressed through his person, as the highest form of consultation on a matter as serious as war. As such, the president has made his faith, and how he practices it, a subject not only of public curiosity but of national survival.

That George W. Bush is a born-again Christian is not a national secret. Neither is the fact that his brand of Christianity, evangelicalism, embraces the notion of the “end of days,” the coming of the Apocalypse as foretold (so they say) in the Book of Revelations and elsewhere in the Bible. President Bush’s frequent reference to “the evil one” suggests that he not only believes in the Antichrist but actively proselytizes on the Antichrist’s physical presence on Earth at this time. If one takes in the writing and speeches of those in the evangelical community today concerning the “rapture,” the numerous references to the current situation in the Middle East, especially on the events unfolding around Iran and its nuclear program, make it very clear that, at least in the minds of these evangelicals, there is a clear link between the “end of days” prophesy and U.S.-Iran policy. That James Dobson, one of the most powerful and influential evangelical voices in America today, would be invited to the White House with like-minded clergy to discuss President Bush’s Iran policy is absurd unless one makes the link between Bush’s personal faith, the extreme religious beliefs of Dobson and the potential of Armageddon-like conflict (World War III). At this point, the absurd becomes unthinkable, except it is all too real.

Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s greatest founders, made the separation of church and state an underlying principle upon which the United States was built. This separation was all-inclusive, meaning that not only should government stay out of religion, but likewise religion should be excluded from government. “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself,” Jefferson wrote in a letter to Francis Hopkinson in 1789. “Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.” If only President Bush would abide by such wisdom, avoiding the addictive narcotic of religious fervor when carrying out the people’s business. Instead, he chooses as his drug one which threatens to destroy us all in a conflagration derived not from celestial intervention but individual ignorance and arrogance. Again Jefferson, in a letter written in 1825: “It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it [the Apocalypse], and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.”

Nightmares, more aptly, unless something can be done to change the direction Bush and Dobson are taking us. The problem is that far too many Americans openly espouse not only the faith of George W. Bush but also the underlying philosophy which permits this faith to be intertwined with the governance of the land. “God bless America” has become a rallying cry for this crowd, and those too ignorant and/or afraid to speak out in opposition. If this statement has merit, what does it say for the 6.8 billion others in the world today who are not Americans? That God condemns them? The American embrace of divine destiny is not unique in history (one only has to recall that the belt buckles of the German army during World War II read “God is with us”). But for a nation born of the age of reason to collectively fall victim to the most base of fear-induced theology is a clear indication that America currently fails to live up to its founding principles. Rather than turning to Dobson and his ilk for guidance in these troubled times, Americans would be well served to reflect on President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, delivered in the middle of a horrific civil war which makes all of the conflict America finds itself in today pale in comparison:

“Both [North and South] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. … The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. … [T]hat He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?”

God is not on our side, or the side of any single nation or people. To believe such is the ultimate expression of national hubris. To invoke such, if one is a true believer, is to embrace sacrilege and heresy. This, of course, is an individual right, granted as an extension of religious freedom. But it is not a collective right, nor is it a right born of governance, especially in a land protected by the separation of church and state.

The issue of Iran is a national problem which requires a collective debate, discussion and dialogue inclusive of all the facts, and stripped of all ideology and theocracy which would seek to deny reasoned thought conducted within a framework of accepted laws and ideals. It is grossly irresponsible of an American president to invoke the imagery of World War III without first sharing with the American people the framework of thought that produced such a comparison. Such openness will not be forthcoming from this administration or president. Not in the form of Stephen Hadley’s policy of no policy, designed with intent to avoid and subvert both bureaucratic and legislative process and oversight, or Dick Cheney’s secret government within a government, operating above and beyond the law and in a manner which violates both legal and moral norms and values, and certainly not in the president’s own private conversations with “God,” either directly or through the medium of lunatic evangelicals who embrace the termination of all we stand for, and especially the future of our next generation, in a fiery holocaust born from the fraudulent writings of centuries past. The processes which compelled George W. Bush to speak of a World War III are intentionally not transparent to the American people. The president has much to explain, and it would be incumbent upon every venue of civic and public pressure to demand that such an explanation be forthcoming in the near future. The stakes regarding Iran have always been high, but never more so than when a nation’s leader invokes the end of days as a solution.

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