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Category Archives: Afghanistan

The oligarchs are hosting an election.

The oligarchs and corporatocracy are hosting an election in the United States this year.  They have chosen the candidates, the issues to be discussed, the methods of voting, the perimeters of the voting districts, and dictated what the media will say about the event.  You, as a member of the “voting public”, are invited to attend the event or just watch from a distance.  It hardly matters, since it is unlikely the outcome depends upon your participation.

This week-end, the media is exclusively talking about, in exhausting and tedious interviews with “the experts”, the potential results of the Iowa caucuses; the first in our series of caucuses or primary elections (depending on the state) that will decide the nominees for the Democrat and Republican parties.  I wasn’t sure how a caucus worked as Maryland is a primary state, so I dug up some information on the subject.  Turns out it is a fairly useless procedure which actually goes on for months in caucus states, although the pundits only pay attention to the first round of the affair.  The fact that the way the public votes during this first of the series of caucuses may not be proportionally represented once the Dem. and Rep. delegates make it to the National Conventions to cast their vote for the nominee goes completely unremarked.  Everyone eligible to vote during the general election can go to the caucuses, which are held in school auditoriums, churches, or even private homes.  Well, assuming there is not a blizzard in Iowa that night, that you have a babysitter – these things take hours – that you aren’t sick and that you don’t have to work that evening. There are close to 1700 precincts in this first round of caucuses.  Usually only about 20% of the voters show up, and Iowa is not one of our more populous states in any case; these facts do not deter the “experts” from declaring that the Iowa caucuses are really, really, really important.

So how do caucuses work?  Here’s the quick and dirty.  To start with, at the initial caucus, a delegate is chosen to represent the voting outcome at the next level of caucuses/conventions.  After the precinct caucus, there are the county conventions, the district conventions, the state convention and then the DNC or RNC national convention.  Are you beginning to get how silly it is to consider the first in this series of caucuses to be the most important?  The national committees of each of the two major parties decide the caucus rules, so how they are run differs.  The Republicans have a simple process.  First they say the Pledge of Allegiance.  Because, duh, they’re Republicans, and wherever two or more Republicans are gathered, there will be a flag and everyone will pledge to it.  Close scrutiny is given as to whether all those present appear sincere during the Holy Recitation.  [Aside: I always wondered about the idea of pledging to a flag rather than just the country, but that’s just me.  It appears that we are the only country that routinely uses a pledge like this, and certainly the only country which has schoolchildren doing a pledge of any sort, with the exception of North Korea, where the kids start their day pledging allegiance to their Dear Leader.  Originally, when Americans recited the pledge, people were expected to raise their right hands toward the sky while speaking, but after Hitler rose to prominence in Germany, that started to look, rather obviously, like the Heil Hitler salute, so the gesture was changed.]  Anyway, after reciting the pledge, the caucus-goers are treated to some speeches from someone or another.  Then they have a secret ballot where everyone writes down his/her choice for the nominee.  Some places use ballots, some just scraps of paper.  The votes are tallied and reported to the RNC.  Everyone goes home, except for the chosen delegate of that precinct and some party leaders, who shoot the shit a while longer.

The Democrats have a much more complicated system.  The voters arrive and are separated into groups depending on whom they support.  Then the various factions scream campaign slogans at each other, trying to convince anyone who doesn’t support their candidate to switch sides.  They throw water balloons at each other until a gong sounds, at which point, everyone scrambles for the limited number of seats available in the middle of the room.  Well, okay, I made up the part about the water balloons and the musical chairs, but the rest is pretty much correct.  After a designated time, people have to sort themselves out according to how they have decided to vote and a count is taken.  If the guy your side supports has less than 15% of the votes, he’s out.

If your guy has been tagged out for the rest of the game, you will then be harangued to join someone else’s group.  Eventually, someone calls a welcome end to this part of the process and a final tally is taken.  There is no secret ballot here: all your neighbors can see which group you are standing with.  The number of delegates to represent each candidate are chosen in proportion to the number of voters who chose him, and the delegates go on to the next round of caucuses at the county level, etc.   The delegates can switch their votes around to some other candidate at the later levels of caucus, and some delegates to the Democratic national convention are simply assigned by the DNC, so it would appear that there is absolutely no meaning in any of this.  For all I know, bags of money are left on doorsteps to convince the delegates to switch their votes later.

At both the Dem and the Rep caucuses, ties are sometimes settled by tossing a coin.  Maybe they should just start with the coin toss from the get-go.  If you want to read more about this stuff, you can go here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iowa_caucuses

For the rest of us, there are primary elections where people go into their polling place and cast a ballot.  A number of states don’t allow Independents to vote in the primaries, since they are used to vote for the Dem and Rep nominees.  Delegates to the Rep and Dem national conventions, where they will vote for the final candidate of each party, are supposed to be chosen in proportion with the voter’s choices, but here you run into the issue of the strange “electoral college” system we use.  No-one knows how it works.  It has appeared in past elections that the delegates can vote randomly or that their votes can be over-ridden by the national committees.  In any case, after all that hoopla, everyone goes on to the national elections to vote for a president.  At that point, you can vote for whomever you want, although there will be names on the ballot you don’t recognize because the media has never mentioned them.  You can hope the voting machines aren’t rigged at either the primary or the general election level, but chances are about equal that they are.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34607-will-the-2016-primaries-be-electronically-rigged

I mentioned that the caucuses use paper ballots or simply a head count, so you might think that those votes can’t be rigged; however, this year both parties have been given a free app from Microsoft so that party leaders can calculate the totals instantly and send them in to the press.  Thank you, Bill Fucking Gates!  You just never sleep, do ya?  Bernie Sanders, no dummy, is a mite suspicious about the motivation behind this free Gates swag offered to the process, and his team has built its own reporting system to verify the results.

The 2016 election, no matter who “wins”, will have the intended effect of shooting the hostages.  Those hostages would be us; the workers slaving away to the rules written by the oligarchs and corporate cartels and never able to catch up, the people unlucky enough to be living in  oil- and resource-rich countries (including the US – we just haven’t glommed onto the fact yet that our resources are vastly more important to the elites than we are; a truth that we will only dimly perceive and that, way too late), and those who try to protest the alarming rise of Monsanto, Exxon, Goldman Sachs, et al, and protest their enablers in the various houses of governments around the planet.  The protesters will be silenced by any means the cartels deem necessary.  These huge corporations and the bankers are in control of not only our human activities, but the natural world as well, and whomever wins the presidential election is unlikely to stand up for us.  At the congressional level, it is certain that a mere handful of “our elected representatives” gives a damn about the “voters”.  They will sell us down the river, as they have done for a long time now.  No matter which nominal candidate wins, the cartels and warmongers will be the actual winners.  This is the final Great Taking, and they will have it all – the money, the assets, the lands, the resources – and we are expendable.

The situation is far simpler than the media pundits and self-proclaimed experts would have you believe.  We are in the middle of a class war.  The rich versus all.  There is a secondary class war; that of the middle class versus the poor, which has been strategically engineered by the elites for decades.  The middle classes are narrowing and are, on the one hand, being taught to believe that the poor are the enemy and are to be despised as lazy and useless; and on the other hand, convinced that one day, they too will make it to financial success.  Liberals want to pretend the class war between the middle class and the poor doesn’t exist, or that it all about race.  Conservatives push the narrative that there is no class war at all, that we can all be rich if we just work hard enough.  We could have had a national discussion about our poverty crisis, but Obama was probably the last chance we had at seeing that happen.  And he doesn’t seem to notice, much less care about the issue.  The Democrats in Congress have agreed to all the austerity measures put to a vote, and finished off 2015 by nodding to the virtual end the food stamps for the elderly and the disabled and lowering these benefits drastically for the poor; the Republicans never wanted anyone to have food stamps or such in the first place.

The statistics on food poverty in the US are really staggering.  We currently have the highest level of food insecurity since the 1970s.  We had almost entirely eradicated hunger in our country back then.  Right now, one in six Americans is going hungry every day, while 30% of Americans are described as “food insecure” – meaning they can’t guarantee they have a way to put food on the table.

The low interest rates imposed by our economic policies (decided by a bunch of former big bank executives in cooperation with the private Fed) has resulted in zero interest income for Americans who try to save some money, and the same zero interest is realized on the skimpy retirement funds older people may have set aside.  Congress has basically done away with the annual cost of living increases given to those living on social security by using fake numbers for the rate of inflation.

Only two of the candidates, Sanders and strangely, Trump, talk about unemployment.  The real unemployment rate, if it were to be accounted for accurately, would be around 25%, not the 5% currently claimed by the Labor Department.  Wages have been stagnant for decades, and according to the last Oxfam report, “the 62 richest billionaires now own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population.”  Just wait until the TPP trade agreement and the wonders of automation, technology, and robotics strips what’s left of the jobs right out from under our feet.  As economist Michael Whitney said:

[…] Obama and the Republican-led Congress have done everything in their power to keep things just the way they are by slashing government spending to make sure the economy stays weak as possible, so inflation is suppressed, the Fed isn’t forced to raise rates, and the cheap money continues to flow to Wall Street. That’s the whole scam in a nutshell: Starve the workerbees while providing more welfare to the slobs at the big investment banks and brokerage houses.  It’s a system that policymakers have nearly perfected as a new Oxfam report shows. […]

Wealth like that, “ain’t no accident”, brother. It’s the policy.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44014.htm

Want to know how much the average person in the US earns?  The candidates won’t talk about it, but I will.

The Social Security Administration has released its data for 2014. Their chart shows actual W-2 earnings in the US as given by the IRS records based on tax returns for 2014.

The numbers are pretty abysmal. The median wage was under $29,000, meaning that half of American workers earned under that amount. The “average wage” is higher than that at $44,569, but is so skewed by the few on the highest income bracket that it is not a really meaningful number, in my opinion.  (The 134 people who earned over $50 mm last year can really alter that average; even taking that into account, 67% earned under the $44,569 “average wage” in 2014.)  In 2014:

-38 % of all American workers made less than $20,000
-51 % of all American workers made less than $30,000
-62 % of all American workers made less than $40,000
-71 % of all American workers made less than $50,000

Since the SSA and the IRS reports are based on each “wage-earner’s” tax-return total earnings rather than counting each and every W-2 turned in to the IRS as a discrete “wage”, this means that the data does not give any information on what the average job might pay and one should not make the mistake of coming to any conclusions about that. In other words, a “wage-earner” may have earned $30,000 in 2014, but might have had to work two or three jobs to earn that amount.  The SSA charts are easy to read, and there is a tool you can click on to look at charts from previous years.

https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2014

This time around, the oligarchy has trotted out some of the most repugnant, bizarre, and downright ignorant candidates to which we have ever been treated.  Their motto for 2016 is: “2016 – the year we won’t give you any lesser evils to choose from.”  But this is the end result of the capitalist system on display, and we are a capitalist country on its down trajectory; at this point, Americans will buy dog shit if it is packaged properly and advertised heavily.

None of the candidates will cut any of the Pentagon’s budget, nor will any of them consider the possibility that we ought to end the crusades against foreign nations, none of which actually threaten us and with none of whom we are legally at war.  Last year, we dropped an estimated total of over 23,000 bombs in six countries.  This breeds terrorism, for the obvious reasons.  ISIS was a creation of the US; of our policies and actions, if not a direct creation of the CIA and secret ops in conjunction with mercenaries.  Yet according to the people running for president, what we need is more bombs, more American forces killing people abroad, and more help in the fight from “allies” like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.  There could be another way to fight terrorism, as one might note that in socially balanced societies, terrorism does not thrive, but we seem incapable of considering an alternative to bloodshed.  We are addicted to it now.

This has resulted in a flood of refugees and/or terrorists to the EU which did not exist prior to the destruction of law and order in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria – before the “strong men” who ruled and did not tolerate bombings and mayhem by religious zealots were murdered by the US.  Now we are bent on some ridiculous quest to further “contain the Middle East” and kill those who are determined to avenge their loved ones. As always, the innocent on both sides get fried, while the war machine enjoys the profits.

Even Sanders thinks the [illegal] drone-bombing should continue; I wonder if he will feel okay about carrying out the “Terror Tuesday” duties should he become president?  Will he be surprised to find that he is just as adept and casual at ordering the murders of strangers across the planet as Obama has been?

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Sunday that if elected president he would not end the U.S.’s controversial drone program in the Middle East.

Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos ” that he would continue with the targeted killing campaign but suggested he would somehow reform the program so that drones don’t kill innocent people abroad.

“I think we have to use drones very, very selectively and effectively. That has not always been the case,” Sanders said. […]

http://www.hngn.com/articles/124393/20150830/bernie-sanders-will-end-drone-program-elected-president.htm

We are going back in to Libya, as if we hadn’t already destroyed that once thriving country and created a failed state.  See “Pentagon prepares another war in Libya”:

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/01/29/pers-j29.html

We have never left Afghanistan and have re-entered Iraq.  We are the main drivers behind the destabilization and bloodshed in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Ukraine.  We are aiming for Russia, Iran, and China.  Oh, Jesus, forget it; I can’t even begin to list all the countries we are bombing, invading, attempting to destabilize, ruin economically, or instigate coups in now.

Why do Americans approve of drone-bombing, ignore the CIA-instigated terrorism around the globe, seemingly enjoy being at war against countries that don’t threaten us, see the warrior class as superior and deserving of accolades and perqs despite the fact that they are engaged in killing people while we are legally at war with no nation, and scream with approval when some political demagogue talks about “keeping us safe” and nuking the rest of the world into submission?  Why is the public satisfied with the selection offered us in presidential candidates in which even the nominally Democratic “front-runner” is a woman who wants to invade yet another country and do away with their elected leader and who constantly threatens a multitude of other countries?   Why do none of the “candidates” talk about reducing the Pentagon’s budget, getting rid of the Fed, overturning the Patriot Act, or – at the least, for God’s sake – dislodging the most egregiously unconstitutional clauses in the NDAA?  Why do our “Christian” ministers approve of the “war on terror”?  Why do the pundits and the politicians promote violence against everyone and why does the public apparently agree with this as though it were reasonable and of some necessity?

Because in this country we have been taught that greed and theft are virtues, that bullying is the sum total of diplomacy, that other cultures are inherently dangerous and to even examine and consider their viewpoints is subversive. We have been taught that every country on the planet is inferior to our own.  The corporate oligarchs and their courtiers in Congress love ignorance, racism, and herd mentality and have worked very hard to see that Americans are poorly educated and even more poorly informed.

But we sure got Iraq’s gold. And Libya’s. And Ukraine’s. Wanted their oil, too, but it is proving to be a little more difficult to wrest complete control over the oil fields, because we created ISIS (in the case of Iraq and Libya), who are interfering in the process (which may be on purpose to hurt the Dread Russians, under the rather abstruse economic theory that harming Russia’s economy is worth the cost of harming ours) and because we created Nuland’s Nazis Civil War (in the case of Ukraine), which has so far blocked completion of the Biden Bid for Oil Takeover of Eastern Ukraine.

Even so-called “liberal” writers add their voices to the propaganda in support of more war, although they do it a little more subtly than the conservative pundits.  This is from the “liberal media” at Salon, reprinted by the “liberal media” compiler at Alternet, in an article ostensibly about the one of the GOP debates:

 […] Oh, the candidates know that Bashar al-Assad is on one side and ISIS is on the other and that Vladimir Putin is being a dick, all of which is probably more understanding than the typical Republican voter has regarding the whole thing. But memorizing these little factoids is hardly relevant when you still think the solution to an intricate civil war that mostly isn’t about us at all is to stand around declaring how tough you are. […]

http://www.alternet.org/comments/news-amp-politics/gop-debate-scorecard-big-winner-wasnt-anyone-stage-it-was-democrats#disqus_thread

Uh-huh. Those aren’t “factoids”; they’re bullshit.  While the rest of the article about the GOP debate that night is probably true and is certainly funny, this bit is typical blase media propaganda stupidity and why I quit reading Salon, which supposedly offers the liberal viewpoint of things.  Facts:  al-Assad is on one side.  ISIS, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the CIA, and the weapons’ manufacturers are on the other. Putin is not being a dick; Russia is the only country that is helping the legitimate government in Syria legally right now. Let’s say that again: Russia is there legally. The rest of the countries currently bombing Syria to hell and gone are not. Russia and al-Assad are trying to get the US-created and US-armed terrorists out of there.

Apparently, Sanders and O’Malley are the only two amongst the candidates who think that we should uphold the nuclear deal with Iran (which was not trying to develop nuclear weapons anyway), while even our former Sec. of State is of the opinion that we ought to show the Iranians just what dickhead liars we are and sanction them again; retroactively, mind you, since the ballistic missile test that has caused the uproar was carried out prior to our agreement with them.  The missiles tested by Iran were incapable of carrying a nuclear payload and so wouldn’t have broken the agreement no matter when it was signed at any rate.  Nonetheless, as soon as Clinton called for further sanctions, Obama signed an executive order to do just that.

US Treasury imposes new ballistic missile sanctions on Iran:

https://www.rt.com/usa/329240-us-sanctions-iran-ballistic/

Once again we have shown that we cannot keep our “agreements”, “treaties”, or “deals” for more than one second after the ink dries.  The only reason any country even “negotiates” with us any more is that they are aware that if they don’t, we will invade their country and bomb the fuck out of it.  As a nation, we have no morals, no rigorous intellect, and no diplomatic abilities.  As a nation, we are liars, thieves, and murderers, completely bereft of the normal human empathy, the ability to compromise, and the honest self-assessment required to interact in a mutually beneficial way with other societies.

How long before some other nation says, “basta!” and drops a Fat Man on our asses?

All the candidates swear undying support for Israel, none more vociferously than Clinton, as though this were some purity test they have to undergo, and sadly, many Americans see it just that way.  America is exceptional in this way: its politicians place allegiance to a foreign country above loyalty to their own, and the only promises they keep are the ones they make to that foreign country.  And sometimes that oath to serve the interests of the other country above their own nation is the tipping point to get them elected.

What this says about the political system, the politicians, and the electorate in the US is appalling and embarrassing.

So we are being offered for our viewing pleasure an assortment of motley con men and corporate stooges.  Sanders may be the exception to some extent and the fact that the media and the other candidates are busy red-baiting him and regularly try to dismiss his positions out of hand bolsters my belief in his sincerity in some measure.  As I said, however, he isn’t going to dismantle the war machine, and that is a large part of all the other problems this country has.

Then you have the narcissistic Trump, billionaire and game-show host, who has picked up on the unrest out in the flyover zones and plays to it with gusto.  It’s hard to tell what he would do if elected, since he can barely keep his proposals and ideas straight in his own head.  His speeches frequently contradict things he has said before, but it is hard for people to get through all his verbiage to pick up on that.  He’s so loquacious you’d think he was being paid by the word.  He was recently endorsed by our other great orator, Sarah Palin, who left off tending her miscreant brood to offer up this bit of gloss: “Where, in the private sector, you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main thing, the main thing, and he knows the main thing: a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily. He knows the main thing, and he knows how to lead the charge.”  You just know the two of them spent their time while waiting in the green room before the great endorsement speech fighting over who was hogging the mirror.  But Trump himself is one of the rich elite who has made his jack off the capitalist system; he isn’t going to gore that ox.  On the other hand, he probably wouldn’t start a hot war with Russia, so there’s that.

There is the skeevy and very creepy Ted Cruz, who was doubtless the Grand Inquisitor in Spain during his last incarnation on this earth.  He is in a fight with the establishment Republicans and neocons, or so we are told to believe, although his ideas about carpet-bombing the Middle East and “lifting the rules of engagement” in the fight with ISIS suggest he fits right in with the PNAC crowd.  He is talking here about illegal methods of warfare and getting rid of the Geneva Conventions, but that doesn’t bother too many of the people in charge, most of whom supported the same ideas when offered by George W. Bush.  Cruz is like some crazed fundamentalist faith-healer who wants to pray the gays away and damn it all, get his chance to nuke some shit for Jesus.  He responded to the Flint, Michigan water crisis by donating bottled water… teaming up with the anti-abortion group Flint Right to Life, with instructions that the water go exclusively to crisis pregnancy centers.  These centers are anti-abortion organizations that try to manipulate women into keeping their pregnancies.  Tough shit about those already-born children and adults who have been drinking toxins in Flint for the last few years.  He, like all the Republicans, wants to cut taxes for corporations, get rid of all bank regulations, privatize everything that could possibly turn a profit for the corporate world, doesn’t support any minimum-wage increases, and has a tax plan that completely decimates the poor and middle class while ass-kissing the wealthy.  He sort of forgot to report his Goldman Sachs campaign contributions to the FEC, and his wife works there; we have yet to see if anyone cares.  Cruz appeals to a certain evangelical, but hawkish, subset of the American public.   Despite their professed “Christian” faith, if Cruz and his base were given the choice between Jesus and that other guy, they’d be screaming, “Free Barabbas!” at the top of their lungs.

Marco Rubio sometimes rattles off sound-bytes like he’s on amphetamines, but he is not saying anything we haven’t heard from the farthest right of the right-wing; he’s just saying it hysterically.  Lots of people think he is cute and endearing, but the dude is one rabid neocon.  He loves the spy programs, Homeland Security, the Pentagon, and torture, and hates the needy, the LGBT community, and Muslims.  That’s his platform.

Chris Christie ruined his own home state and now wants to have a go at the rest of the country. He calls himself the “disaster governor” with pride (I put a different twist on the title than he does, I gather) while at the same time refusing to help the victims of the two disasters that have hit New Jersey since he’s been in office.  We just had a huge blizzard here on the East Coast, and parts of NJ were inundated with flood waters along with the snow.  He happily chirped that there was no “residual damage” because the flood had receded, although it’s quite obvious that buildings that have had 5 feet of water and icebergs wash through them are going to be left with damage, if not have to be outright condemned and torn down.  Not to mention the other stuff that got majorly fucked up in the flood.  We can guess what kind of relief he’s going to offer the affected cities.  He’s said some other things on the campaign trail.  I couldn’t say for sure what, though.

Carly Fiorina is just vicious as a wolverine with rabies, and Ben Carson thinks it would be okay to bomb children on general principles.  When asked if he would order airstrikes that might kill innocent children by the thousands, he mentioned operating on kids with brain tumors and how they hated it but later on loved him, and finished his comments by saying,”and by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.”   So in other words, Ben Carson thinks bombing civilians and children is somehow merciful because it finishes the job quickly.  The crowd applauded the twisted fuck for his bedside manner.

Jeb Bush is running and may end up being the Republican nominee if the oligarchy can finesse the situation properly.  This might not make him very happy, actually, as he seems most intent on making himself invisible.  He’s like the chubby kid who tried out for the soccer team because his daddy made him.

O’Malley has some fine ideas about the economy and doesn’t seem to be too enthusiastic about continuing the efforts to take over the world, so he will be quickly taken off the scene.  Poor guy barely made in on the scene, so eager are the Democrats to waylay one of their own.

I wrote an entire post about the war-pig Hillary Clinton, who is currently busy trying to paint Sanders as a Commie, so I’ll try not to repeat all the same stuff here.  She is so sure she will be the Democratic nominee, as are the pundits and mainstream media, that she hasn’t bothered to reciprocate to Sanders’ pledge to back the eventual nominee.  I think the media and the talking heads totally fail to understand the rancor and pure loathing felt for her at the street level.  If one reads the comment section on any article about the candidates, even articles supporting Mad Hillary, one sees the same thing over and over: people hate her.  People do not trust her.  People do not intend to vote for her even as “the lesser of two evils”; she is not seen as the lesser evil in any line-up.  To the public, she is defective and never should have made it through quality control.  Clinton is the least sincere candidate we have ever had running for office, and the people sense that.  She will sign the TPP into law given the chance, and you can be sure that she would reneg on all her promises, except the ones where she promises to bomb other countries, as quick as shit through a goose should she be elected.  She has a neocon’s view point toward the use of military power, which she and the media insist on referring to as “foreign affairs”, thus mistaking military policy with diplomacy and foreign policy, a viewpoint that made her such a bad and dangerous Sec. of State.  She felt her job in the State Dept. was to threaten other countries and to work arms deals instead of promoting civil discourse between nations.  She, in fact, gets “foreign policy guidance” from the same firm that advises Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.  (Which may help explain why all the ideas Clinton and the Republicans have for dealing with terrorist issues are similar in that they are illegal by US law, in violation of international laws, and break numerous treaties and agreements.)  The media that promotes her jabbers on about the “commander-in-chief” part of the president’s job because even they recognize in some part of their reptilian brains that Bernie Sanders’ domestic policies appeal to the voters more than hers do.  They – and she – hope that by presenting her as a hard and tough predator, she will gain some popularity with the fearful.  The constant talk about terrorism and terrorists, from all the candidates, serves to keep most of us focused away from the neglected and dismal state of things in our own country.

She may be running into trouble now.  With any luck, and with the assumption that some agencies in the US are still willing to do their jobs, she may be facing criminal charges.  God knows, she should have been jerked up short by the DoJ long before now.  I was very interested to see that one of the major legal threats to her involves the use of her position at the State Dept. to garner donations to the Clinton Foundation, and that Haiti is specifically mentioned.  I brought these things up in my last post about her.

Hillary Clinton’s Coming Legal Crisis

by Charles Lipson
January 13, 2016

The latest release of Hillary Clinton emails entails real risks for her, churning just beneath the surface of her successful primary campaign. True, Democratic voters have shown little interest, and the mainstream media only a bit more. Their focus, when they do look, is on the number of documents now considered classified, their foreign-policy revelations, and the political damage they might cause. These are vital issues, but Clinton faces a far bigger problem. She and her closest aides could be indicted criminally.

Secretary Clinton is exposed twice over. First, she used an unsecured, home-brew server to send and store reams of classified materials. Second, in her official capacity, she worked closely with major donors to the Clinton Foundation. Each poses legal risks, with potential ramifications for the Democratic frontrunner, her party, and the Obama administration.

To understand the gravity of these issues, it is important to recognize that this is not just an “email scandal.” It is an “email + server + foundation” scandal.” Secretary Clinton didn’t just send sensitive (and now-classified) emails over open lines, she stored them on private servers that didn’t meet the government’s cyber-security standards for sensitive documents. On its face, retaining classified materials in such vulnerable settings is a criminal violation. Senior intelligence officials have been charged for less – far less. Storing some 1,300 classified documents on a personal server, and doing it for years, poses a special problem because it shows the mishandling was not inadvertent. It was Clinton’s standard operating procedure.

The State Department has done everything it can to protect its former boss. When it finally received her documents, it flatly refused to comply with long-standing Freedom of Information Act requests by releasing them. It took several court orders for the agency to begin trickling out small batches with large sections blacked out. The redactions only underscore why the documents should never have been held on private, unsecured servers in the first place.

The latest document dump shows why the State Department is so skittish. One reveals the secretary of state telling a senior department official, Jake Sullivan, to strip all the security markings off one document and send it to her on an insecure connection. We don’t yet know if Sullivan actually complied, but, if he did, both he and Clinton face serious legal jeopardy.

Beside these national-security matters, the emails reveal obvious conflict-of-interest issues pertaining to the significant overlap between Clinton’s official duties and her family foundation’s operations.

Major donors to the foundation often had business before the State Department, and they sometimes received help. After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for instance, Bill Clinton was named co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, and, according to the Wall Street Journal, “the State Department began directing parties interested in competing for Haiti contracts to the Clinton Foundation.”

Not surprisingly, many contractors became foundation donors, or were already. The FBI now has to decide if any of this was a “pay to play” arrangement. Proving a quid pro quo is notoriously difficult, but Fox News reported Monday that public corruption is now a second track in the FBI investigation.

So far, Hillary has suffered only modest political damage from these scandals. Democratic primary voters are mostly indifferent; her main challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, says he’s tired of hearing about it; and, other than Fox News, no major media outlet has done serious investigations.

But that doesn’t mean these messy issues are dead — depending on what happens inside the Justice Department. Clinton is about to face the most serious crisis of her candidacy — a set of legal decisions by the FBI and then the Department of Justice. Those will either kill the issue or kill her chances.

The FBI reportedly has assigned some 100 agents full time to the investigation and another 50 temporarily. The bureau would not commit such massive resources unless the initial investigation raised troubling questions of potential criminality. FBI Director James Comey is monitoring the case closely and coordinating with the intelligence agencies, which have to review the documents. Comey has a reputation for integrity, and it is his call whether to refer charges to the DOJ. Attorney General Loretta Lynch would then decide whether to indict.

Whatever Lynch decides, there will be a maelstrom if FBI agents found substantial evidence of criminal wrongdoing.[…]

Regardless of the attorney general’s decision, if the FBI does recommend criminal charges for Hillary Clinton or any of her associates, she will face two very pointed questions from the media, the electorate, and her Republican challenger.

“Secretary Clinton, if you are elected president, do you unequivocally promise to appoint an independent counsel to investigate these charges and, if warranted, prosecute them?”
“Do you promise you will not pardon anyone before these cases are fully adjudicated?”

She won’t be able to wave these questions off and say, “The attorney general decided all that.” It will look too much like a coverup by a Democratic administration for a Democratic Party leader.

To reach the White House, Hillary Clinton has to get past the coming legal crisis, and she will have to answer those hard questions.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/01/13/hillary_clintons_coming_legal_crisis_129293.html

You should really read the whole article; I left some paragraphs speculating about the potential effects this could have on the elections out of the blockquote due to space.  Another interesting article is a brief one written by Glen Ford at blackagendareport regarding the Clintons’ interference into Haiti’s elections, and gives a bit of a rundown on their unwelcome and colonial-style relationship with Haiti.  See, “The Clintons: We Came, We Stole, Haitians Died”:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44069.htm

I fail to understand how anyone can think we still have a democracy in this country.  When you look at these candidates and take honest stock of what they are offering, how can you find any escape in some sad and outdated notion that this is a government of, by, and for the people?  Hell, the Obama trade agreements, the first of which (the TPP) is quietly coming up for a vote soon if Congress bothers to follow its own legislation, suffice to render our national sovereignty and any pretense of a government “for the people” null and void if they are passed.  I will allow some exception for Sanders in my condemnations, as I think he may actually mean at least some of what he says and is the only one who even affects to worry about how life is going for the average American.  He ought to talk more about the TPP, since it has come out that this dangerous piece of crap posing as a “trade agreement” will probably do away with the UK’s health system and could prevent universal healthcare forever in the US.  As to the rest, when any of those bought-and-paid-for bastards steps up to the podium and lies to the audience about how much he/she really, really cares about the working stiff and has our best interests at heart, I feel nothing but contempt and revulsion.  The corruption at the top of this country is so widespread and so legalized that we cannot avoid another financial catastrophe and perhaps even another world war.  These are the goals of the oligarchy so they can strip the US and the rest of the world of its remaining assets, and the dolts, criminals, grifters, and bullshit artists up there on the stage posing as “presidential material” are willing to lead us right into the pit.

No-one with enough neurons firing to keep breathing can take this election seriously.  I doubt I will bother to take a chance on the voting machines myself.  Seems pointless, unless by some weird happenstance Sanders is on the ballot.  If it comes to a race between Clinton and Trump, that might also motivate me enough to haul my ass out of the chair to go vote for Trump, just to help save us from her.

What a wretched selection we have in front of us.  Who shall we have?  Caligula or Nero?  Choices, choices.

I don’t blame those who think that perhaps it is time to join the dolphins and get the hell out of Dodge.  If only there were a way to escape to some other planet entirely.  A different country on this one may not be far enough – the Powers That Be have their clutches on all of them.

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Iraq then, Iran now.

Remember how we got into Iraq?  All those lies about weapons of mass destruction, which some of us at the time knew were lies, to ruin a country that had nothing to do with 9/11…

We illegally invaded and destroyed a country which had not threatened us, much less mounted an attack against us.  Now that the ten-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion has arrived, there are plenty of articles and op-eds pointing out what was obvious then and is irrefutable to us all now – the war was based on pure fabrication.  Too late for Iraq, however, whose people live in a ruined country with millions displaced and somewhere over 100,000 dead (some estimates are much higher and run up to half a million or more) due to the “war”.  Although I don’t think you can call it a “war” if there is only one side – this was an invasion, pure and simple.

Back in ’02, we read this sort of opinion piece in the papers; this was fairly typical of the war-mongering of the time.

Sept. 11 alerted most Americans to the grave dangers that are now facing our world. Most Americans understand that had al Qaeda possessed an atomic device last September, the city of New York would not exist today. They realize that last week we could have grieved not for thousands of dead, but for millions.

But for others around the world, the power of imagination is apparently not so acute. It appears that these people will have to once again see the unimaginable materialize in front of their eyes before they are willing to do what must be done. For how else can one explain opposition to President Bush’s plan to dismantle Saddam Hussein’s regime?

I do not mean to suggest that there are not legitimate questions about a potential operation against Iraq. Indeed, there are. But the question of whether removing Saddam’s regime is itself legitimate is not one of them. Equally immaterial is the argument that America cannot oust Saddam without prior approval of the international community.

This is a dictator who is rapidly expanding his arsenal of biological and chemical weapons, who has used these weapons of mass destruction against his subjects and his neighbors, and who is feverishly trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

The dangers posed by a nuclear-armed Saddam were understood […] two decades ago[…]

Two decades ago it was possible to thwart Saddam’s nuclear ambitions by bombing a single installation. Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do. For Saddam’s nuclear program has changed. He no longer needs one large reactor to produce the deadly material necessary for atomic bombs. He can produce it in centrifuges the size of washing machines that can be hidden throughout the country — and Iraq is a very big country. Even free and unfettered inspections will not uncover these portable manufacturing sites of mass death.

[…] For in the last gasps of his dying regime, Saddam may well attempt to launch his remaining missiles, with their biological and chemical warheads, at the Jewish state.

[…] For if action is not taken now, we will all be threatened by a much greater peril.[…]

But no gas mask and no vaccine can protect against nuclear weapons. That is why regimes that have no compunction about using weapons of mass destruction, and that will not hesitate to give them to their terror proxies, must never be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. These regimes must be brought down before they possess the power to bring us all down.

If a pre-emptive action will be supported by a broad coalition of free countries and the U.N., all the better. But if such support is not forthcoming, then the U.S. must be prepared to act without it. This will require courage, and I see it abundantly present in President Bush’s bold leadership and in the millions of Americans who have rallied behind him.

[…] Today the terrorists have the will to destroy us but not the power. Today we have the power to destroy them. Now we must summon the will to do so.

Pretty breathless and excited rhetoric, isn’t it?  All of it a tissue of lies, of course, as history has proven.  Who wrote this piece, which was published by the Wall Street Journal in September, 2002?  The fellow sounds like a whackaloon at this late juncture.

It was titled “The Case for Toppling Saddam”, and the author was Benjamin Netanyahu. http://www.potomac-airfield.com/netanyahu.htm

Now he is the main cheerleader behind the calls to invade Iran.  (And here you thought Ahmadinejad was a tad touched.)

Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing his minions at AIPAC via video chat on March 4, spent a bunch of his time saying supposedly scary things about “Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons” and dismissing negotiations.

“I have to tell you the truth,” he told the fawning crowd. “Diplomacy has not worked. Iran ignores all these offers. It is running out the clock.” He continued:  “Iran enriches more and more uranium. It installs faster and faster centrifuges. It’s still not crossed the red line I drew at the United Nations last September. But Iran is getting closer to that line, and it’s putting itself in a position to cross that line very quickly once it decides to do so.”

Netanyahu deliberately ignored the fact that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium remains far from weapons-grade and that Iran has, for over a year now, been systematically converting much of its 19.75% enriched stock to fuel plates that precludes the possibility of being diverted to military purposes.[…]

Netanyahu once again demonstrated his complete disregard for the tenets of the United Nations Charter by calling for Iran to be explicitly threatened with a military attack if it doesn’t comply with absurd Israeli demands. He insisted “with the clarity of my brain” (whatever that means) that “words alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail.”

Addressing the same audience, Vice President Joe Biden also spoke at length about “Iran’s dangerous nuclear weapons program,” which the U.S. intelligence community and its allies, including Israel, have long assessed doesn’t exist. The consensus view of all 16 American intelligence agencies has maintained since 2007 that Iran ceased whatever research into nuclear weaponization it may have conducted by 2003, and has never resumed that work. The NIE has been consistently reaffirmed ever since (in 2009, 2010, and again in 2011). […]

Moreover, the IAEA itself continually confirms that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program and has stated it has “no concrete proof that Iran has or has ever had a nuclear weapons program.”

http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2013/03/biden-time-on-iran-at-aipac.html

The Israeli military and the US military do not believe that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.  The IAEA finds no such program.  Hans Blix, the UN inspector who told us repeatedly ten years ago that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction is warning us today that the same is true of Iran. See: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/03/06-9

The invasion of Iraq was about oil, for the most part.  Not only getting Iraq’s oil, but keeping it off the market to drive up prices.

[…] And that’s how George Bush won the war in Iraq. The invasion was not about “blood for oil”, but something far more sinister: blood for no oil. War to keep supply tight and send prices skyward.

Oil men, whether James Baker or George Bush or Dick Cheney, are not in the business of producing oil. They are in the business of producing profits.

And they’ve succeeded. Iraq, capable of producing six to 12 million barrels of oil a day, still exports well under its old OPEC quota of three million barrels.

The result: As we mark the tenth anniversary of the invasion this month, we also mark the fifth year of crude at $100 a barrel.

As George Bush could proudly say to James Baker: Mission Accomplished!

http://www.gregpalast.com/how-george-bush-won-the-war-in-iraq-really/#more-7963

The same can be said of our destruction of Libya and the same is true of Iran now.  It’s always about the control of the oil.  The US has imposed numerous life-threatening sanctions on Iran, each new set increasing in severity.  One might think that we could have figured out by now that the increase in gas prices here and abroad can partly be blamed on the restrictions of Iranian oil exports these sanctions demand, but we are not very good at adding two and two.  (To be sure, the bulk of the price increases in the US is due to speculation on the market, as we do not purchase that much Iranian oil.  However, the speculators work on the global market, so the decrease in availability of Iran’s oil is partly driving the speculators as well.)  The situation sits well with the US Congress, which would like to see every inch of US soil dug up to get at the oil and natural gas underneath it, rather than investing in renewable energies or doing the hard work – and it will be hard work – of getting the US to understand that we cannot count on fossil fuels and ever-increasing GDP forever.  Even renewables will not fully sustain the way we live, but they would certainly be a better investment than our current game, which will otherwise come to an abrupt halt one day, and sooner rather than later.  We are furthermore at the end of always expanding economic growth; that truth is too hard to face and so we let our country be torn to shreds in a farcical attempt to continue the prosperity (of the few) for a couple of more years.  It’ll only work for a short time and then nature will play its winning hand.  We will have polluted all our water and land beyond repair by then, but I guess the assumption is that we will be dead and unaccountable by that time – it’ll be the next generation’s problem.

At this point, however, we would like to have Iran’s oil and this involves some very strange and twisted imaginings from the brains of various Important People in Charge.  This, for example, is simply one of the weirdest decisions ever handed down by a federal judge: we are now trying to blame Iran for 9/11.

“A federal judge has signed a default judgment finding Iran, the Taliban and al-Qaida liable in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.” – from news article on the decision. (See: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/12/how-many-countries-attacked-us-on-911/ )

9/11 brought us the invasion of Iraq, the Authorized Use of Military Force, Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, the TSA, the continuous State of Emergency, the Continuity of Government Plans, the continued war in Afghanistan (we seem to have forgotten that the Taliban had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, although Congress blames the Taliban for it with greater frequency all the time), the expenditure of between $4 and 6 tt for two unnecessary wars (consider what invading Iran will do to the US financially), Guantanamo Bay, torture, the drone-bombing of more than a dozen countries that we are not at war with, and the police state we live under here at home.  Etc., etc.  Now we are not only talking about starting a war in Iran and “intervention” in Syria, Obama is threatening to sanction Pakistan over their commitment to the IP pipeline. [See: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/15/paki-m15.html ]  I have written about the TAPI and IPI pipelines before; it used to be termed the Iran/Pakistan/India (or IPI) pipeline, but we managed to convince India to drop out.

If Netanyahu, AIPAC, and the current crop of feeble-minded members of Congress have their way and we invade Iran or help Israel do so, imagine the joys that await us.  Change we can believe in, my ass.

Further reading:

Pentagon requests additional $49 mm to “improve” Guantanamo:
http://www.infowars.com/pentagon-requests-49-million-to-build-new-gitmo-prison/

Hunger strike at Guantanamo (” A Yemeni prisoner filed complaints that they are being denied access to clean drinking water and are being kept in freezing temperatures.”):
http://warisacrime.org/content/guantanamo-hunger-strike-gets-attentionand-more-dangerous

On the cost of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars:
http://rt.com/usa/us-wars-most-expensive-109/

On Bagram prison being handed over to Afghanistan control – well, except for 50 of the prisoners and hundreds arrested and held since the agreement was signed in March ’12.  If you hand over the prison, but not the prisoners, does it still count as the same deal? (“[…] But about 50 foreign inmates, which the US considers too dangerous to hand over, will remain under US control, as well as hundreds of Afghans who were arrested since the initial transfer deal was signed in March 2012. […]Although US officials have proudly announced the ‘full transfer’ of the Bagram prison, 50 foreigners not covered by the agreement will continue to remain in US hands — which would again be a violation of last year’s deal.[…]”):
http://rt.com/usa/us-afghanistan-bagram-prison-808/

Obama talks about “peace” in Israel, while threatening war on two countries:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/22/isra-m22.html

‘Falluja Babies’ and Depleted Uranium — America’s Toxic Legacy in Iraq:
http://www.alternet.org/world/falluja-babies-and-depleted-uranium-americas-toxic-legacy-iraq

Plans for military surveillance of Americans’ financial records:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/19/surv-m19.html

Pakistan begins construction of Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/15/paki-m15.html

US threatens Pakistan with sanctions over the IP pipeline:
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/11/u-s-officials-warn-pakistan-risks-sanctions-over-iran-pipeline/

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Afghanistan, fossil fuels, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan

 

Clinton pokes the Bear and the Dragon.

Updated below, Sat., 7 July.

Our top “diplomat”, Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton, is now threatening punishment for Russia and China because they refuse to support regime change in Syria.  Russia and China, let us remember, are founding members of the Shanghai Cooperative Organisation (the SCO), and are working jointly in this economic and military partnership – formed largely to protect themselves and other participating nations from attempted US hegemony.  We are fools to ignore the SCO group and bigger fools to take a sharp stick and poke at them, especially on a matter where we are in the wrong.  Forced regime change by an outside country is illegal under international law.

The situation in Syria is murky at best.  The US, via the CIA, and several other nations are arming the “rebels”.  Reporting is bizarre, with some articles reading that the Syrian military is killing every civilian within range and others pointing out that the Syrian military itself is the target and on the losing side of each confrontation.  Reporting in the US consists mostly of canned quotes from “anonymous” persons in “positions of authority”.  I suspect that this will one of those matters where the truth is brought to light many decades after the events.  Clinton has called for regime change (again – illegal under international law) and baldly stated that Assad’s “days are numbered”.   al Qaeda, as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP, is once again surfacing as the enemy de jour, although the entire al Qaeda brand name is beginning to be questioned in some quarters as a CIA operation.

We were oddly on the same side as al Qaeda in Libya, where the “rebels” were known to be both al Qaeda- and CIA-backed.  Our regime change there has left the country bereft of any meaningful leadership, embroiled in a civil war, mired in lawlessness, with a vigorous turn toward sharia by the “recognized government” the US preferred.  However, the oil derricks are being protected by US troops and the oil is once again beginning to flow under the auspices of the newly enshrined for-profit corporations, so there’s that.  Libya’s oil fields are no longer facing any threat of being nationalized, one of Ghaddafi’s final projects; the profits will go to the multinational companies instead of the Libyan people.  We call this A Success.  This is what we thought was better for Libya than what they had.

Russia and China both state that they do not approve of way Assad rules Syria, but that the issues must be worked out internally and that they cannot participate in the proposed forced regime change.

China joined Russia on Thursday in boycotting a meeting aimed at coordinating efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria, where three senior army officers were among more than 150 people reported killed in 48 hours.

Moscow confirmed that some Western countries had asked it to offer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a haven in exile, saying it had dismissed the idea as a “joke.”

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China would not attend the so-called “Friends of Syria” gathering in Paris on Friday. China “at present does not consider attending the meeting,” Liu said.

Russia has also said it will stay away from the meeting after accusing the West of seeking to distort a weekend deal by world powers in Geneva aimed at achieving a transition of power.

The Paris meeting follows one in Tunis and another in Istanbul, both of which called in vain for tougher action against Assad’s government.

China did not attend either of those meetings, in which the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Arab nations Saudi Arabia and Qatar lead a group of more than 60 members, including most EU states and many Arab League nations.

China backed Russia in Geneva on insisting that Syrians must decide how the transition should be carried out, rather than allow others to dictate their fate, and did not rule out Assad remaining in power in some form.

The West has said Assad should not be part of any new unity government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Western nations had asked Moscow to offer Assad asylum and that the idea was first raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during June 1 talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  “Our side thought this was a joke and responded with a joke — how about you, the Germans, take Mr Assad instead,” Lavrov said during a press appearance with his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle.

Lavrov said he was “quite surprised” when the idea was raised again during the meeting in Geneva on Saturday.

The foreign minister also repeated Russia’s displeasure with the slow pace of reforms pursued by its Soviet-era ally, but again argued that any attempts at forced regime change were doomed to end in even greater violence.

“Yes, the regime bears the main responsibility,” but those who seek regime change “ignore the fact that we are not talking about a few dozen people — as they tell us we are — but a very large part of the Syrian population that ties its security to the current president.”

On the eve of the Paris meeting, Amnesty International called for an immediate arms embargo on the Syrian government and for caution over the supply of weapons to rebels. [Teri’s note: it was Amnesty International France which supplied the original story that Ghaddafi was going to massacre civilians – a story that they later admitted was untrue and based on unfounded rumors, although they carefully did not admit that they themselves had begun the rumors.  It seems they are being a little more careful WRT to Syria.]

“Amid growing reports of abuses by members of the armed opposition, states should also stop arms transfers to the opposition wherever there is a substantial risk that they are likely to be used for war crimes or other human rights abuses,” it said.[…]

http://news.yahoo.com/west-trying-distort-syria-deal-says-russia-032828655.html

Despite their rather reasonable pleas for handling the matter in a way that allows for the national sovereignty of Syria to be honored, Clinton just issued a belligerent threat to both countries today while attending the “Friends of Syria” meeting.

Moscow and Beijing will be punished for supporting the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton harshly stated at the “Friends of Syria” meeting of over 100 Western and Arab nations in Paris on Friday.

“I do not believe that Russia and China are paying any price at all – nothing at all – for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime.  The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price,” Clinton warned.

Russia and China once again opted not to attend the “Friends of Syria” meeting. Neither Moscow nor Beijing believe the meeting in the French capital will be helpful in uniting the Syrian opposition “on a constructive basis”.

“We have frankly laid out the reasons why we have restrained from joining the mechanism, the very name of which has a contradiction between the word and the deed,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier this week.
The US Secretary of State further criticized Russia for the maintenance of Syria’s Soviet-made helicopters. Two weeks ago Hillary Clinton lashed out at Russia for repairing three Syrian helicopters, saying their presence “will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry swiftly refuted the allegations. “In 2008 there was a contract to repair them. They are still to be assembled after delivery”, Lavrov said. ”That entire process will take at least three months. So to speak about something we have just sold to Syria, which is then to be used in action, is not true at all,” he added.

French President Francois Hollande demanded Bashar Assad step [down] while delivering an opening statement at the Friends of Syria meeting on Friday. Hollande believes a transition of political power is the only way to end the 16-month conflict in Syria.  The Friends of Syria meeting comes just a week after a UN-led summit in Geneva where the international community endeavored to reach a consensus on the conflict. They agreed to get behind UN envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for a transition government in Syria.

However, Russia said that western powers were purposely distorting the terms of the agreement to push for the removal of Assad.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that the agreement said Assad must leave office, whereas Moscow claims that the original accord made no allusion to the removal of the Syrian president.

http://on.rt.com/24i1ib

RT further updates its article with the following rumination from someone who actually studies the use of diplomacy:

Mark Almond, a professor of international relations at Bilkent University in Turkey, told RT that the US probably has its own solution for the Syrian problem and is not prepared for any sort of compromise.

“The rhetoric of Mrs Clinton recalls that of the Bush era,” the professor said. “There is a great deal of congeniality in international policy between George Bush and Barack Obama’s administrations,” he said. 

“After all France, Russia and China opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. (Then US Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice threatened (Then French President) Jacques Chirac by name that he would pay a price with the distraction of his reputation and public esteem,” Almond recalled.

“Mrs. Clinton is converting a regional problem, a crisis in Syria and its neighbors, into a potential global problem,” he said. “Those countries that do not agree with every word of Mrs Clinton are to be considered supporters of tyranny and enemies of the good. This is creating a much more dangerous global answer,” he continued.  

“Maybe Mrs. Clinton is simply speaking out of frustration at the fact that her policies have not yet achieved the goal of overthrowing Assad,” Almond argued, adding that Clinton is known for using harsh rhetoric towards people she does not like.

“Remember her comments on Gaddafi. She said ‘We came, we saw, he died’, which was broadcasted on American TV. Falling out with Mrs Clinton can prove fatal,” he concluded.

http://www.rt.com/news/clinton-russia-china-syria-569/

One would think that after the ruin we have imposed on Iraq, Libya, and many South American and African countries through these coups and regime changes that we indulge in, after the obvious bad results wrought by our interference and invasions in foreign lands (think the Philippines, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.) we would stop this sort of thing.  Just stop.  It makes no sense and produces nothing remotely passing for democracy or peace in the nations thus “handled” by the US – if that weren’t obvious before, it certainly should be by now.  Still, we intend to forge ahead in yet another country; and this time we are threatening two nuclear armed giants with “punishment” for not agreeing with the process.

Our leaders are clinically insane.

UPDATE: Sat. 7 July:

This has nothing to do with Russia and China, but with Clinton – and as it comes immediately on the heels of her statements a day or two ago, I am posting it with this article.

Apparently, Hillary and Barrack have just posted a sign in Afghanistan which reads, “Please excuse our mess as we remodel to better serve our customers”.  Clinton just announced that Afghanistan is now a major non-NATO ally of the US.

Mercy.  Slap me on the ass and call me Betsy.  I could have sworn that the United States invaded and has been at war with Afghanistan for over a decade.  Can you call a country an ally if you only like half the people who live there and are doing your best to kill the other half?  We have a rather, um, visible group of military and mercenary forces in Afghanistan and last I heard, they were armed with a vengeance and using those arms against Afghans.  We are also running a number of prisons to house Afghans we don’t like so much.  Guess we will go through neighborhood by neighborhood to decide which ones are allies and which not.  Although, come to think of it, we consider Pakistan and Yemen allies and we are drone-bombing the hell out of certain people in those countries.  Perhaps the fact that we are “accidentally” arming both the Afghans we like and the Afghans we are at war with makes the designation somehow more acceptable and meaningful.  Or maybe not.  Maybe nothing means anything any more.

The truth is, it would seem that by naming Afghanistan an “ally”, Obama and Clinton have just assured that boatloads of US taxpayer dollars will eternally flow into the place and, despite our agreement to withdraw troops by 2014, we will now have cover for keeping forces there forever – as we do in our other “non-Nato ally” countries such as Japan and the Philippines.  Clinton said at a press conference in Kabul, “Please know that the United States will be your friend and your partner. We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan. Quite the opposite.”  Your friend and partnerAbandoning them?  This is what we say to a country we invaded?  They did not, to the best of my recollection, ask us to come in and start a jolly little war.  Yeah, excuse our mess…

(Reuters) – Washington declared Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally on Saturday, a largely symbolic status reinforcing its message to Afghans that they will not be abandoned as the war winds down.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the decision, made by President Barack Obama, during her unannounced visit to Kabul where she met President Hamid Karzai on the eve of a major donors’ conference in Tokyo which will draw pledges for aid.

The status upgrade may help Afghanistan acquire U.S. defense supplies and have greater access to U.S. training as the Afghan army takes more responsibility for the country’s security ahead of the 2014 withdrawal of most NATO combat troops.

“Please know that the United States will be your friend and your partner. We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan. Quite the opposite,” Clinton told a press briefing with Karzai before jetting off to Tokyo.

Obama’s decision meets a pledge he made on a visit to Afghanistan this year to upgrade Kabul to a special security status given to only a limited number of U.S. partners — including close allies like Israel and Japan — which are not members of NATO.

Participants at the Tokyo meeting are expected to commit just under $4 billion annually in development aid for Afghanistan at Sunday’s meeting, though the central bank has said the country needs at least $6 billion a year to foster economic growth over the next decade.

This is on top of the $4.1 billion committed annually by NATO and its partners for Afghanistan’s security forces, pledged at a Chicago summit in May.

U.S. officials with Clinton declined to say how much aid the United States would pledge, which has significantly reduced aid since the peak year of 2010 when more than $6 billion was given, two thirds from Washington.[…]

U.S. officials may be reluctant to cite a specific pledge because the sum actually given is ultimately controlled by Congress, which holds the U.S. government’s purse strings. Enthusiasm for foreign aid has generally waned in Congress because of massive U.S. budget deficits.

(Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/07/us-afghanistan-clinton-idUSBRE86601120120707

 

[…]Clinton announced the new alliance to diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, according to the Associated Press. She was in Afghanistan to meet with President Hamid Karzai.

The White House had informed Karzai of  its plans when President Barack Obama made a secret trip to Afghanistan in May, on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. At the time, a White House statement said the move would “provide a long-term framework for security and defense cooperation.”

The list of major non-NATO allies includes Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.  Notably, these countries are eligible for priority delivery of military hardware and can get U.S. government help to buy arms and equipment.

But the designation does not include the mutual-defense pledge that is at the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance.

NATO has agreed to give Afghan security forces the lead in their strife-torn country by mid-2013, on the road to a full withdrawal by the end of 2014. But Obama has always said that U.S.-Afghan cooperation will continue beyond that date.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/u-anoints-afghanistan-major-non-nato-ally-033404099.html

Welcome to the fold, Afghanistan:

A video has surfaced online that appears to show a US helicopter crew singing “Bye-bye Miss American Pie” before blasting a group of Afghan men with a Hellfire missile.

The footage comes in the wake of a string of damaging videos and pictures showing US forces in Afghanistan urinating on the bodies of dead insurgents, and posing with the remains of both suicide bombers and civilians killed for sport by a group of rogue soldiers.[…]

Men spotted digging in Afghan roads by the US or other foreign forces are likely to fall under suspicion that they are insurgents burying home-made bombs, one of the Taliban’s main weapons.

If the US military is confident it has identified them as insurgents, bombs are sometimes used to kill them, although Afghan officials have accused troops in the past of killing farmers and people working on irrigation ditches when they thought they were targeting people laying bombs.

In the video, after the bomb appears to hit the group, survivors scatter, and the helicopter aims machine gun fire at them.[…]

In April, the Los Angeles Times published pictures that appeared to show American soldiers posing with the bodies of dead Afghans in the south of the country, and the US president, Barack Obama, called for an investigation.[…]

In March a US soldier killed 16 civilians on a solo night-time shooting rampage. Deadly violence erupted in February over the burning of copies of the Qur’an by US troops. In January a video surfaced of marines apparently urinating on Taliban corpses, and last year a group were tried for murdering three Afghan civilians for sport.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/06/u-s-helicopter-crew-sings-bye-bye-miss-american-pie-before-launching-hellfire-missile-in-afghanistan/

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Afghanistan, Libya, MIC, Russia, SCO, State Dept/diplomacy, Syria

 

Dispatching the news.

Updated below.

I have but a few minutes, so this is a fast take on some of the latest news.

Mr. Obama raided the taxpayer cookie jar for an undisclosed amount in order to give a televised speech to US citizens broadcast from Kabul, which is in Afghanistan.  Which is pretty far away from the US mainland.  You can google that.  I didn’t hear much about the reaction from the average Afghan civilian to Obama’s speech….oh, yeah.  Pretty much no-one in Afghanistan has television.  So, anyway, while he was there, he signed some sort of agreement with Karzai about US forces withdrawing from Afghanistan.  (Article opens with obligatory air-kiss to Obama’s manly manness in killing bin Laden.  I think we will see every article which mentions the president’s name from now until election day managing to bring up The Death of Osama bin Laden.  Enjoy the election season; it’s no doubt going to be the last one we get.)

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — President Barack Obama marked the first anniversary of the death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden with an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, signing a long-awaited strategic partnership agreement meant to set the conditions of an American withdrawal from the war-torn nation.

The president reiterated that U.S. forces will not remain “a single day longer” than necessary, that he remains committed to pulling 23,000 troops out of the country by September and that he will stick to a 2014 deadline to fully withdraw from Afghanistan.

We will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling its cities and mountains,” the president said during a nationally televised speech to the U.S. people from Bagram Air Base early on Wednesday (Tuesday evening in the United States). “That will be the job of the Afghan people.” – CNN, link given in final quote from the article.

Oops, too late.  We have already spent a shitload of money building bases in Afghanistan, some of which we have turned over to Afghani control, but in fact we are still building bases and quite a number of them are scheduled for use by US elite forces and drone operations.  Nick Turse points out:

In late December, the lot was just a big blank: a few burgundy metal shipping containers sitting in an expanse of crushed eggshell-colored gravel inside a razor-wire-topped fence.  The American military in Afghanistan doesn’t want to talk about it, but one day soon, it will be a new hub for the American drone war in the Greater Middle East.

Next year, that empty lot will be a two-story concrete intelligence facility for America’s drone war, brightly lit and filled with powerful computers kept in climate-controlled comfort in a country where most of the population has no access to electricity.  It will boast almost 7,000 square feet of offices, briefing and conference rooms, and a large “processing, exploitation, and dissemination” operations center — and, of course, it will be built with American tax dollars.

Nor is it an anomaly.  Despite all the talk of drawdowns and withdrawals, there has been a years-long building boom in Afghanistan that shows little sign of abating.  In early 2010, the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had nearly 400 bases in Afghanistan.  Today, Lieutenant Lauren Rago of ISAF public affairs tells TomDispatch, the number tops 450.

The hush-hush, high-tech, super-secure facility at the massive air base in Kandahar is just one of many building projects the U.S. military currently has planned or underway in Afghanistan.  While some U.S. bases are indeed closing up shop or being transferred to the Afghan government, and there’s talk of combat operations slowing or ending next year, as well as a withdrawal of American combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014, the U.S. military is still preparing for a much longer haul at mega-bases like Kandahar and Bagram airfields. The same is true even of some smaller camps, forward operating bases (FOBs), and combat outposts (COPs) scattered through the country’s backlands.  “Bagram is going through a significant transition during the next year to two years,” Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Gerdes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Bagram Office recently told Freedom Builder, a Corps of Engineers publication.  “We’re transitioning… into a long-term, five-year, 10-year vision for the base.” 

Whether the U.S. military will still be in Afghanistan in five or 10 years remains to be seen, but steps are currently being taken to make that possible.  U.S. military publications, plans and schematics, contracting documents, and other official data examined by TomDispatch catalog hundreds of construction projects worth billions of dollars slated to begin, continue, or conclude in 2012. 

While many of these efforts are geared toward structures for Afghan forces or civilian institutions, a considerable number involve U.S. facilities, some of the most significant being dedicated to the ascendant forms of American warfare: drone operations and missions by elite special operations units.

Recently, the New York Times reported that President Obama is likely to approve a plan to shift much of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan to special operations forces.  These elite troops would then conduct kill/capture missions and train local troops well beyond 2014.  Recent building efforts in the country bear this out.

A major project at Bagram Air Base, for instance, involves the construction of a special operations forces complex, a clandestine base within a base that will afford America’s black ops troops secrecy and near-absolute autonomy from other U.S. and coalition forces.  Begun in 2010, the $29 million project is slated to be completed this May and join roughly 90 locations around the country where troops from Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan have been stationed…

Last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered that the U.S.-run prison at Bagram be transferred to Afghan control.  By the end of January, the U.S. had issued a $36 million contract for the construction, within a year, of a new prison on the base.  While details are sparse, plans for the detention center indicate a thoroughly modern, high-security facility complete with guard towers, advanced surveillance systems, administrative facilities, and the capacity to house about 2,000 prisoners.

At Kandahar Air Field, that new intelligence facility for the drone war will be joined by a similarly-sized structure devoted to administrative operations and maintenance tasks associated with robotic aerial missions.  It will be able to accommodate as many as 180 personnel at a time.  With an estimated combined price tag of up to $5 million, both buildings will be integral to Air Force and possibly CIA operations involving both the MQ-1 Predator drone and its more advanced and more heavily-armed progeny, the MQ-9 Reaper.

The military is keeping information about these drone facilities under extraordinarily tight wraps…

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175501/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_prisons%2C_drones%2C_and_black_ops_in_afghanistan/#more

Back to the CNN article:

An undetermined number of U.S. forces will remain in country past 2014 working as military advisers and counterterrorism forces, but officials have yet to decide for how long…

Speaking to reporters from Turkey after the trip to Afghanistan, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and member Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, pointed to a series of lightening-rod issues expected to be addressed at the summit.

They include hot topics such as Taliban and Haqqani safe havens in Pakistan, Afghan economic dependency on international spending and the grittier details of senior leadership positions within the nation’s armed forces.

One thing we’re going to see if there can be an early retirement of the officer corps to make room for the younger class (of Pashtuns from the country’s restive southern and eastern provinces),” said Levin, noting those groups are underrepresented.

That’s something that’s going to be discussed in Chicago, a retirement incentive,” he said, a subtle nod to lingering questions over the army’s current legitimacy in traditional Taliban strongholds. – from CNN article

Hmm.  So while our President and Congress work on not-so-clandestine plans to decimate Social Security and Medicare for older Americans, we intend to pay for the retirement benefits of the Afghan fighting forces.  How very noble of us.  A sacrifice in which we will all gladly share, I’m sure.  We are just swell like that.

…The president’s trip was his third since taking office and comes amid heightened tensions between the Obama and Karzai governments after a string of incidents involving U.S. personnel.

Among them include an American service member charged with killing of 16 Afghan civilians, Quran burnings at a U.S. military base and the release of photographs of Americans posing with the remains of dead militants. – from CNN article

I would like to point out that the base where the books were burned is a joint US/Afghan base which houses prisoners.  When you see “a few copies of the Quran burned” in any given article, what is actually being referred to is an incident where almost the entire Afghan portion of the prison library was confiscated –  1,652 books and Islamic texts, including 48 copies of the Quran – and “boxed for storage”.  All of these books were “mistakenly” taken to an incinerator to be burned. Several Afghan garbage collectors working at the base reported finding a number of charred books and quickly notified an Afghan National Army commander, who halted the burning.  Whether or not the collection contained “damaged” books, as the US military claims, it seems a minor point.  No-one seems interested in questioning why only the books written in Pashtu or Dari (Afghan Farsi) were taken from the library or why almost the entire collection (the only reading material available for both Afghan guards and prisoners alike) was being removed.
Back to CNN:

… Obama also spoke of a “negotiated peace” and said his administration has been in direct talks with the Taliban. In March, the Afghan Taliban suspended the development of a diplomatic office in Qatar designed to allow them to hold talks with the United States, following public anger over the killing of the 16 civilians.

“We’ve made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence and abide by Afghan laws,” Obama said Wednesday….

He later added that the U.S. “did not come here to claim resources or to claim territory. We came here with a very clear mission to destroy al Qaeda.” – from CNN article

The Taliban are not affiliated with al Qaeda.  We did go into Afghanistan to claim resources; US troops are currently guarding at least one gold mine for JP Morgan bank, and we have intended from the inception of this undeclared war to claim territory on which to build a natural gas pipeline.  Further, as even our top brass admit, there is no al Qaeda presence remaining in Afghanistan.
Back to CNN:

Last week, Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Daftar Spanta and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker initialed the text that outlined the kind of relationship the two countries want in the decade following the NATO withdrawal.

The deal had been long expected after Washington and Kabul found compromises over the thorny issues of “night raids” by U.S. forces on Afghan homes and the transfer of U.S. detainees to Afghan custody.

It seeks to create an enduring partnership that prevents the Taliban from waiting out a U.S. withdrawal to try to regain power, the senior administration officials have said.

All CNN quotes are from this article:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/02/politics/afghanistan-obama/

I have a question – can the President sign an agreement like this without Congress ratifying and consenting to it?  Just asking.  He is, after all, committing the US to an “enduring partnership” with a foreign country, for an indeterminate length of time. [Answer: He is not.  See update below.]  And again, I will point out that the Taliban was not our enemy, nor the reason we went into Afghanistan.  They are currently fighting the US/NATO forces because they see themselves as protecting their country from foreign invaders, which is what we are.

Speaking of Ryan I-am-a-real-man-hear-me-roar Crocker, our top “diplomat” in Afghanistan, let us reflect for a moment on some of his wise and diplomatic language from a couple of weeks ago.

“Mr Crocker, who took up his post in Kabul last year, said al-Qaeda remained a potent threat despite suffering setbacks. ‘We have killed all the slow and stupid ones…’ ”  – http://soc.li/ivBOxHF

The Taliban, as a sign of their objection to the Obama/Karzai long-term pledge, immediately launched an attack on a compound in Kabul that houses some 2000 westerners, killing at least 7 people within two hours of Mr. Obama leaving Afghanistan.  Mr. Crocker had this to say about the attack:

“Mr. Crocker characterized the attack as a feeble attempt to strike a psychological blow to the U.S.-Afghan partnership. ‘It was not exactly a significant military attack,’ he said. ‘This is not Tet 3. If this is the best they can do, they are not exactly winning this war.’ “

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304746604577379263984093608.html

He has clearly read Mrs. Clinton’s book on diplomatic responses to international questions, “Our State Department Today: How to Create, Fund, Arm, and Incite the Enemy de jour in Four Easy Lessons”.

As our top officials dicker over exactly how much money to further squander in this useless exercise in Afghanistan, gleefully building bases and commissioning drone aircraft and “elite” forces, discussing the retirement plans for our Afghan “team-mates”, poverty in America increases to levels never before seen.  I can think of absolutely nothing funny or clever to say about our own hunger situation.

In 1962, Michael Harrington shocked the nation when he wrote The Other America, estimating that 40 million to 50 million Americans—one quarter of the population—lived below the poverty level.

Today, the numbers are more than three times higher. Recent statistics show half the American population—over 150 million people—are either poor or near poor. Millions are forced to turn to food banks to feed their families….

“One in six Americans, 49 million people, including one in five kids, are struggling with hunger,” [Feeding America’s chief communication officer] Daly said. She added that while poverty is the single predominant factor in food insecurity, unemployment is the largest contributor to the condition. “There are so many people already in what we traditionally call the ‘near-poor’ that any loss of a job translates directly into food insecurity.

“Unemployment continues to be at record-level highs. Yes, it has gone down a little in the last two years, but the number of people who are unemployed remains very high.”

Daly pointed to high food and fuel prices and the fact that many people are still suffering from the foreclosure crisis.
“We have serious threats to the safety net,” she added. “Congress is considering drastically cutting SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—food stamps), while at the same time we have seen a 40 percent decline in the amount of food coming in to food banks.”

Daly pointed to a drastic decline in the amount of food available for distribution. She said the government provides 25 percent of the 3.3 billion pounds of FA food. Last year, she said, there was “almost a 50 percent decline in what we call bonus commodities” available to Feeding America.

Daly told the WSWS how the system works: the US Department of Agriculture purchases surplus food when commodity prices drop, to provide a price floor. However as of late, when prices are steadily rising, the government reduces its buys of cheese, flour, corn and other surplus commodities.

As of February 2012, food prices had risen 4.4 percent for the year, with meat, coffee and peanut butter up 9 percent, 19 percent and 27 percent respectively. This has resulted in a significant decline in the food flowing to charities.
“Because food prices are high, the USDA has been making fewer purchases of commodities and therefore there is less food from the federal government flowing through food banks. We have seen about a 50 percent increase in the number of people who need help over the last four years; while at the same time there is less food available from these steady sources.

“That combined is what we in our network call a perfect storm. Need is up, availability of food is down, and the people that we are serving are struggling with more and more challenges in meeting basic needs.
“We have to be careful in discussing food insecurity because we know that two-thirds of those who are food insecure actually are not living below the poverty line.”

The threshold for SNAP is 130 percent of the poverty level. The threshold for WIC and other child nutrition programs is 185 percent of poverty. Daly said that one-quarter of the people in the US who report they are food insecure make more than 185 percent of the poverty income, meaning they don’t qualify for any form of federal assistance. The only place they have to go for food assistance is through the charity system.

“The federal programs are really targeting the poorest of the poor,” she said. “There are millions of people who are living in the ‘near poor’ category and many of those folks are unemployed or underemployed. This is driving the increase in the number of people who are hungry.”
Daly said FA is seeing an increase in food need in every demographic group: “It is happening across the board. Statistically, we feed almost one in four African Americans in the US. We also see a large number of white workers.

“One of the biggest misnomers is that people see hunger as an urban issue, when the reality is that 55 percent of the counties in the US with the highest rate of food insecurity are rural. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a hunger-free community. This is an issue that exists in every county in America.”…

Lucio Guerrero [said], “It’s a shame that this is happening in a country with so much abundance. One in six is the average number of children who are food insecure, but there are communities where it is 50 percent of kids, in some parts of Texas or in the rural South.  It really is affecting every community. Even in places like Palm Springs [California], there are people who are hungry.”

http://wsws.org/articles/2012/may2012/hung-m02.shtml

Update, Wed.:  According to former Congressman Alan Grayson, the President is not authorized to sign an agreement or treaty such as the one he signed with Karzai and doing so violates the Constitution.

From Grayson:

To little fanfare, President Obama announced last week that he signed an agreement to extend the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan for twelve more years. No one noted the irony of this, since under our Constitution, President Obama can be President for no more than another 4 1/2 years.

Also under our Constitution, a treaty requires the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate. (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2). No one in the Obama Administration even took a stab at explaining why this agreement with a foreign power was not being submitted to the Senate for concurrence. But the reason is obvious: the Senate would not concur.

Also under our Constitution, you will search in vain for any provision that authorizes a lengthy military occupation of a foreign country. In fact, the Constitution does not authorize a standing army, much less an army standing in Kabul. In the Bizarro world in which we live, we have 27 Attorneys General challenging the constitutionality of 35 million Americans getting health coverage, but no one challenges the constitutionality of an undeclared war (see Article I, Section 8 on that) that has now entered its second decade.

 
 

Because you can never kill too many.

Afraid that support for the [illegal] [stupefyingly costly] war [for resources and a pipeline] in Afghanistan might be waning, our top “diplomat” to Kabul took time to warn us that al Qaeda might be – tell me if you have heard this one already – secretly building up forces in Afghanistan and could launch an attack on the US Homeland.

Ryan Crocker [the US ambassador to Kabul, Afghanistan] told The Daily Telegraph that if the West was to leave Afghanistan too early, al-Qaeda would be able to increase its presence.

With the US preparing to withdraw the majority of its combat forces from Afghanistan next year, Mr Crocker warned: “If we decide we’re tired, they’ll be back.

“Al-Qaeda is still present in Afghanistan. If the West decides that 10 years in Afghanistan is too long then they will be back, and the next time it will not be New York or Washington, it will be another big Western city.”

Mr Crocker, 62, who previously served as ambassador to Iraq, said that while progress had been made, Afghanistan would need Western support for years to come.

Nato officials believe that up to 100 al-Qaeda fighters have returned to the country, based mainly in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces near the border with Pakistan. Hundreds more are based in Pakistan and could return if circumstances were to change…

Mr Crocker, who took up his post in Kabul last year, said al-Qaeda remained a potent threat despite suffering setbacks. “We have killed all the slow and stupid ones. But that means the ones that are left are totally dedicated,” he said.

“We think we’ve won a campaign before our adversaries have even started to fight. They have patience, and they know that we are short on that.”

http://soc.li/ivBOxHF

 

Ten years is not long enough; after all, it took us these ten years to find just the one guy, Osama bin Laden.  Okay, never mind that he was already dead, by all reliable reports, and forget about the continuing suggestions that “al Qaeda” is actually a CIA group formatted to give us an “enemy” to fight so that the Pentagon can have an excuse to suck up all the taxpayer money and the favored war profiteers can get no-bid contracts to destroy and then rebuild country after country.  Mr. Crocker wants more time to kill more people.  At the rate of one every ten years, one might begin to get a picture of just how long getting all the top al Qaeda leaders will take and some idea of how many civilians will be accidentally killed in the meantime.  By the way, his statement makes our military look really inept – 100,000 troops, ten years, a trillion or so bucks, and yet our adversaries haven’t even started to fight – but he didn’t mean it that way, I’m sure.

The “slow and stupid ones”…would that be the the ones like the little boys we killed while they were out gathering firewood?  The wedding parties?  The funeral processions?  Maybe he means the slow and stupid women and infants that were killed in the massacre just a few weeks ago – they must have been terribly stupid to try and sleep in their own homes while anywhere near a US base.  No, Mr. Crocker clearly only means al Qaeda members; he is not referring to the civilians killed as slow and/or stupid.  He doesn’t mention the accidental killing of civilians at all.  Not important enough to bring up.  Yet his statement seems so poorly worded and repugnant somehow, coming less than a month after the rampage that left 17 innocent Afghans dead.  This is our idea of “diplomacy” now.  All our diplomats sound like gung-ho military jingoists out to threaten the world.

And Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, various other African nations, Pakistan, Yemen, etc., are not enough to sate the blood-lust of our diplomats and military.  They want to be able to invade any country in search of anyone they deem worthy of death, whether they be terrorists or simply criminals.  It is simply not acceptable that other countries are sovereign and want to handle their own problems internally; we need to be unleashed to deal with their scofflaws ourselves.  And, it goes without saying, we want to kill them all, borders and sovereignty be damned.

As the Pentagon begins to wind down the war in Afghanistan, the smaller conflicts elite U.S. forces are fighting around the world are heating up.

But DoD needs more than just men and materiel to meet these challenges. It needs additional authority from Congress to do so.

“Most of the authorities that we have right now are narrowly construed to counterterrorism …  [but] I think for some countries we may need a little bit more flexibility to go in there,” Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The majority of counterterrorism missions by U.S. special forces have been focused on al Qaeda and Taliban cells in Afghanistan and the Middle East region.

But growing numbers and types of threats, particularly in Africa and South America, require a new approach to U.S. counterterrorism operations, Sheehan told members of the Senate Armed Services’ subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities.

If we have a broader range of authorities, we can respond with more agility to each country with a different set of programs,” Sheehan said. “I think that’s the direction we’re thinking.”   Subcommittee chairwoman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and subpanel member Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) pressed Sheehan on what exactly DoD was looking for, in terms of legislative authorities.

While not going into too much detail, Sheehan said the lines between terrorism and crime have become increasingly blurry and current U.S. statutes to address either have not kept up.

Under current federal authorities, counterterrorism is strictly a military operation conducted by DoD. Pursuing transnational criminal groups falls to law enforcement and is done by the Department of Justice.

“Some of these threats are not pure terrorism,” Sheehan explained. DoD needs to be able to go after groups that straddle the line between terrorism and organized crime

“We are looking for some legislative authority … that might be able to give us some broader authorities, legislative authorities and multiyear funding for some of the types of activities that I’d like to do in terms of building coalitions to take on these complex threats,” Sheehan said.  DoD will hand over a slate of potential legislative options being drafted by Sheehan’s office to lawmakers “in the weeks and months ahead,” he added.

However, the Pentagon is already beginning to move ahead with its plans for both continents

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced in February that U.S. special forces and counterinsurgency specialists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will be redeployed to a number of global hot spots, specifically those in Africa and South America. The move was included in the White House’s new national security strategy unveiled that month.

These small bands of special forces and COIN experts will lean upon “innovative methods” learned in Southwest Asia to support local militaries and expand American influence in those two continents, Panetta said at the time.

The U.S. military is pushing more troops into Colombia to assist in that country’s war with insurgent groups and narco-traffickers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Friday.

U.S. forces plan to set up a number of joint task forces inside the country to train and assist the Colombian military. The Pentagon has similar task forces in the Horn of Africa, the Trans-Sahara, Southern Philippines and elsewhere around the world…

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/219343-defense-dept-seeks-new-authorities-for-counterterrorism-fight

 

Here at home, our Dept. of Homeland Security and the Immigration Enforcement people are stocking up on bullets.  Not just any bullets – bullets that will do the maximum damage and lead to the highest “kill ratio”.  These are presumably for use here in the US, since both these departments are internal.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is getting an “indefinite delivery” of an “indefinite quantity” of .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK.

U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over five years, according to a press release on the deal.

The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.”

This refers to the the bullet’s hollow-point tip that passes through barriers and expands for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet getting warped out of shape: “this bullet holds its jacket in the toughest conditions.”

We’ve also learned that the Department has an open bid for a stockpile of rifle ammo. Listed on the federal business opportunities network, they’re looking for up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo to be exact. The .223 is almost exactly the same round used by NATO forces, the 5.56 x 45mm.

The deadline for earlier this month was extended because the right contractor just hadn’t come along.

http://www.businessinsider.com/us-immigration-agents-are-loading-up-on-as-many-as-450-million-new-rounds-of-ammo-2012-3#ixzz1qbWir69B

This is what we have to offer the world.  Police actions, death from bullets, bombs, and drones, all delivered via our very special military forces.  Of course, when we have a president who declares he can, and will, kill or indefinitely detain even Americans as he wishes and a Congress which finds no issue with this circumstance, it should come as no surprise that our military finds people in other lands eminently disposable.  We choose not to spend our money on human life or the sustainability of the planet or searching for paths to peace in a world of increasingly dwindling resources – we choose to spend it on human death.  This is who we have allowed ourselves to become.

 

“These things happen.”

On Sunday, a US soldier left his base in Afghanistan and broke down the doors of three homes in nearby villages, killing all the people he found and setting fire to some of the dead bodies.  4 men, 3 women, and 9 children were murdered.  The story is shape-shifting daily; at first, reports were of several soldiers, a “group of soldiers, laughing and drunk” as they murdered.  Now, US officials claim it was a lone or rogue gunman – one soldier assigned to the Green Berets or the Navy SEALs as part of their “village stability operation”.  I do not think he understood the phrase “hearts and minds” quite the same way most do.  I am also certain that the Afghans consider him a terrorist and not a “rogue” gunman.

 

An Afghan man who said his children were killed in the shooting spree accused soldiers of later burning the bodies…Afghan officials also gave varying accounts of the number of shooters involved. Karzai’s office released a statement quoting a villager as saying “American soldiers woke my family up and shot them in the face.”…

“I saw that all 11 of my relatives were killed, including my children and grandchildren,” said a weeping Haji Samad, who said he had left his home a day earlier…
The walls of the house were blood-splattered.
“They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” Samad told Reuters at the scene.

Neighbors said they had awoken to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, who they described as laughing and drunk.  “They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” said neighbor Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where killings took place.
“Their (the victims’) bodies were riddled with bullets.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/11/us-afghanistan-civilians-idUSBRE82A02V20120311

 

The White House is­sued a writ­ten state­ment from Pres­i­dent Obama. It read:

“I am deeply sad­dened by the re­ported killing and wound­ing of Afghan civil­ians. I offer my con­do­lences … This in­ci­dent is tragic and shock­ing, and does not rep­re­sent the ex­cep­tional char­ac­ter of our mil­i­tary and the re­spect that the United States has for the peo­ple of Afghanistan. I fully sup­port Sec­re­tary Panetta’s and Gen­eral Allen’s com­mit­ment to get the facts as quickly as pos­si­ble and to hold ac­count­able any­one re­spon­si­ble.”

Why can we never step away from the opportunity to assert that we and our military are “exceptional”?  We are exceptional only in the number of countries we have invaded and that we currently bomb.  Any war, but especially wars with no reasonable motives and never-defined endpoints, leads to mental instability and cruelty in the soldiers.

Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, had this to say about the “incident”:

“I understand the frustration, and I understand the anger and the sorrow,” McCain said. “I also understand and we should not forget that the attacks on the United States of America on 9/11 originated in Afghanistan. And if Afghanistan dissolves into a situation where the Taliban were able to take over a chaotic situation, it could easily return to an al-Qaida base for attacks on the United States of America.”

Of course, this is an outright lie.  The attacks on 9/11 were carried out in the main by Saudi Arabians, through whatever oversight allowed them in the US.  Osama bin Laden was thought to be in Afghanistan briefly and the Taliban agreed to turn him over if the US had actual charges against him related to 9/11.  Since there was no actual proof of his involvement, the US never brought any charges and the Taliban refused to lead us to him.  The Taliban itself was not our enemy and had nothing to do with 9/11.

Senator Lindsey Graham said:

“No, I believe, one, this is tragic and will be investigated, and that soldier will be held accountable for his actions under the military justice system. Unfortunately, these things happen in war. You had an Israeli soldier kill worshippers by the Dome of the Rock mosque. You just have to push through these things.

“My recommendation to the public is, listen to General Allen, who comes back in two weeks. The surge of forces has really put the Taliban on the defensive… We can win this thing. We can get it right.”

He also obviously views the Taliban as the reason we went into Afghanistan.  Now that there is no al Qaeda there, we need a new enemy.  But these things happen.  We can win this thing.  Just stay there forever…..

And Harry Reid remarked:

“Well, of course, our hearts go out to these innocent people. One of our soldiers went into a couple of homes and just killed people at random. Very, very sad, especially following that incident dealing with the Korans, just not a good situation.

“Our troops are under such tremendous pressure in Afghanistan. It’s a war like no other war we’ve been involved in. But no one can condone or make any suggestion that what he did was right because it was absolutely wrong.”

Actually, we have been involved in such wars before, wars of aggression, wars where we invaded for no reason, wars where thousands of innocents were killed and countries destroyed.  While we cannot condone such behavior, we usually overlook it.  There have even been times we gave medals of honor for just such actions.

This is what happens when we have never-ending wars of conquest for natural resources and economic gain, when the citizens of the country are taught to believe that we can do no wrong and are always justified in every military adventure dreamed up, that nothing we do is ever as horrible as what “the others” do.  How is it that whistle-blower Bradley Manning is in prison and facing court marshal while we do not even know the names of the soldiers operating the Apache helicopter and gunning down Iraqi civilians in the tape he allegedly brought to light?  Obama claims the right to use military force simply on behalf of our economic interests, not to protect our country from real threat, but to preemptively force economic advantage our way through the use of the Army.  Currently there is talk of invading Iran – just on the mere idea that they may be thinking about making a nuclear weapon.  Not that they have one, are close to having one, have threatened to use one, or much less, have ever actually used one.  We are the only country to have ever used a nuclear bomb.  The claim that Japan had to be bombed to force them to surrender is now known to be false (in any case, Hiroshima was not a military target), and there is no rational explanation for the second bomb dropped on Nagasaki.  Since that time, seven countries have gone nuclear (Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Great Britain and France), and it is widely known that Israel (the unacknowledged eighth country) has nuclear weapons.  No-one seriously considered invading any of these countries as a means to preemptively prevent them from developing nuclear capability.  Now we casually talk about invading Iran, even though our national intelligence concludes that the Iranians are not seeking to build nukes.

Gradually but steadily, we have all been immersed in the Pentagon’s Long War, which leads us to accept and expect a never-ending war scenario.  This is the result.  Lindsey Graham is right; “these things happen”.  Especially in a citizenry neglecting introspection, disregarded completely in decisions of war and peace, and taught to believe that terrorists lurk behind every fencepost.  We have ignored the lessons of war, choosing to think that only our enemies commit the horrible atrocities and yet when, really, have we not had a war going on to learn from?  We let the military justify its increasing presence around the globe and always-expanding budget through the only method it has – waging ever more wars.  We are creating enemies where there were none, threatening and attacking countries which have offered no harm to us, and forgetting the primary reason to have a military: to protect us when threatened from without, not to create a threat from without.  We no longer even use Congress to declare wars.  War was never declared against Iraq, Afghanistan, and certainly not Libya.  In the case of Iraq and Libya, we labeled the leaders “monsters” – even though we formerly supported them when it was useful – invaded the country, and decimated it.  We dropped depleted uranium over both countries, refusing to sign the UN ban on such weaponry.  Against Cuba, we have used sanctions as a form of economic warfare for over fifty years, turning against a country once thought our ally because we felt we needed to force our form of capitalism upon it.  Haiti has been victim of our interference for an even longer time.  In 2004, not content with the damage already done, George W. Bush used the CIA to kidnap their elected President (Aristide) and “exile” him to South Africa.  I don’t know why that was not regarded as an overt act of war against Haiti in the eyes of the rest of the world, but Bush managed to perpetrate this act virtually unnoticed even in our own country, in whose name he was acting. (Bush Sr. had instigated the first coup against Aristide in 1991, a military coup led by our CIA.)

Over the years, we have used covert operations against Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Panama, Chile (the list is too long to even enumerate them all) to overthrow or assassinate heads of state in favor of business and financial interests, none of which spread democracy or freedom, but only devastated the citizens of the countries so favored with our attention.

We could have learned from Vietnam.  We used napalm and Agent Orange indiscriminately; use of these would have been considered as forms of chemical warfare and terrorism had they been deployed against us or our forces.  We thought of them as acceptable forms of warfare.  We taught our soldiers that this was the way we did things.  How could our servicemen possibly be expected to respect the lives of civilians while spreading such biologicals across the landscape, which continue to poison the population to this day?  We chose to financially back and arm the murderous Pol Pot, using the trite rubric that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  One of the best known examples of the crimes our soldiers committed then was the My Lai massacre.  Yet, even in the face of irrefutable proof and after having been found guilty, Lt. William Calley was quickly pardoned.

The events in My Lai had initially been covered up by local divisional command. In April 1969, nearly thirteen months after the massacre, a G.I. who had been with the 11th Brigade wrote letters to the President, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense. In these letters the G.I. described some of the atrocities by the soldiers at My Lai, that he had been told about.

Calley was charged on September 5, 1969, with six specifications of premeditated murder for the deaths of 104 Vietnamese civilians near the village of My Lai, at a hamlet called Son My, more commonly called My Lai in the U.S. press. As many as 500 villagers, mostly women, children, infants and the elderly, had been systematically killed by American soldiers during a bloody rampage on March 16, 1968. Had he been convicted, Calley could have faced the death penalty…
Calley’s trial started on November 17, 1970. It was the military prosecution’s contention that Calley, in defiance of the rules of engagement, ordered his men to deliberately murder unarmed Vietnamese civilians despite the fact that his men were not under enemy fire at all. Testimony revealed that Calley had ordered the men of 1st Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry of the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) to kill everyone in the village…

After deliberating for 79 hours, the six-officer jury (five of whom had served in Vietnam) convicted him on March 29, 1971, of the premeditated murder of 22 Vietnamese civilians. On March 31, 1971, Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment and hard labor at Fort Leavenworth…Of the 26 officers and soldiers initially charged for their part in the My Lai Massacre or the subsequent cover-up, only Calley was convicted. Many saw My Lai as a direct result of the military’s attrition strategy with its emphasis on “body counts” and “kill ratios.”…

On April 1, 1971, only a day after Calley was sentenced, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered him transferred from Leavenworth prison to house arrest at Fort Benning, pending appeal…
Ultimately, Calley served only three and a half years of house arrest in his quarters at Fort Benning… Later in 1974, President Nixon tacitly issued Calley a limited Presidential Pardon. Consequently, his general court-martial conviction and dismissal from the U.S. Army were upheld, however, the prison sentence and subsequent parole obligations were commuted to time served, leaving Calley a free man.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Calley

We could clearly see that the Bataan Death March during WW2 was a war crime committed by the Japanese against us, but cannot examine our consciences about the same done by us to others in the Philippine-American war, or in the Trail of Tears during the Indian wars. (The US “relocated” Indians at gunpoint. The Five Civilized Nations underwent at least a 50% mortality rate during these forced marches.)

Certainly we know about the torture methods used by the Filipinos (the “water torture” was a frequent topic of discussion during the Bush administration; in just a few short years, however, we have “forgotten” our objections), who were fighting for their independence from the US during the Philippine-American war, but we seem to have erased from our minds the awful atrocities we unleashed on the Filipinos.

In light of the massive casualties suffered by the civilian population, Filipino historian E. San Juan, Jr., alleges that the death of 1.4 million Filipinos constitutes an act of genocide on the part of the United States.

Atrocities were committed on both sides. United States attacks into the countryside often included scorched earth campaigns in which entire villages were burned and destroyed, the use of torture (water cure) and the concentration of civilians into “protected zones”. In November 1901, the Manila correspondent of the Philadelphia Ledger reported:”The present war is no bloodless, opera bouffe engagement; our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog.…”

Throughout the entire war American soldiers would write home about the horrors and atrocities which the United States committed in the Philippines. In these letters they would criticize General Otis and the U.S. military; when these letters reached anti-imperialist editors they became national news and forced the War Department to look into their truthfulness.

[An example of]…the letters went as follows:

Corporal Sam Gillis: “We make everyone get into his house by seven p.m., and we only tell a man once. If he refuses we shoot him. We killed over 300 natives the first night. They tried to set the town on fire. If they fire a shot from the house we burn the house down and every house near it, and shoot the natives, so they are pretty quiet in town now.”

However, General Otis’s investigation of the content of these letters consisted of sending a copy of them to the author’s superior and having him force the soldier/author to write a retraction. Then, when a soldier refused to do so, as Private Charles Brenner of the Kansas regiment did, he was, remarkably, court-martialed…

Filipino villagers were forced into concentration camps called reconcentrados which were surrounded by free-fire zones, or in other words “dead zones.” Furthermore, these camps were overcrowded and filled with disease, causing the death rate to be extremely high. Conditions in these “reconcentrados” are generally acknowledged to have been inhumane. Between January and April 1902, 8,350 prisoners of approximately 298,000 died. Some camps incurred death rates as high as 20 percent…In Batangas Province, where General Franklin Bell was responsible for setting up a concentration camp, a correspondent described the operation as “relentless.” General Bell ordered that by December 25, 1901, the entire population of both Batangas Province and Laguna Province had to gather into small areas within the “poblacion” of their respective towns. Barrio families had to bring everything they could carry because anything left behind—including houses, gardens, carts, poultry and animals—was to be burned by the U.S. Army. Anyone found outside the concentration camps was shot…The commandant of one of the camps referred to them as the “suburbs of Hell.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine%E2%80%93American_War

 

We had obviously declined to learn anything from the preceding Civil War and the so-called Indian Wars, which officially lasted over 25 years.  The State militias had been called up to form the Army for the Civil War.  The portion of the Army assigned to General William Tecumseh Sherman was dispatched in 1865 to the West to finally exterminate the Plains Indians in an effort to make way for the railroads.  The  Indian War had already been going in earnest for some time, with several Army units having been assigned to the West during the Civil War.   Sherman was a particularly brutal man who used the word “extermination” frequently in regards to his intentions about the Indians.

We should consider the Indian Wars as an example of what happens when we pursue war simply for economic gain and at the behest of corporations; our interest in the Indian lands was largely driven by the railroad lobby, not (until the media helped whip it up) innate hatred of the Indians by the white settlers.  Interestingly, Canada was able to build its transcontinental railway system without resorting to a policy of complete annihilation, and the Plains Indians from the US sometimes sought their refuge by crossing into Canada.  Thomas DiLorenzo points out, “It is not true that all whites waged a war of extermination against the Plains Indians. As noted earlier and as noted throughout the literature of the Indian Wars, many whites preferred the continuation of the peaceful trade and relations with Indians that had been the norm during the first half of the 19th Century. (Conflicts sometimes occurred, of course, but “trade” dominated “raid” during that era.)” [see: http://www.consortiumnews.com/2010/100610b.html ]

General Sherman ordered the men under him to “kill without restraint” and assured them that any blow back from the public or the media would be handled by him.  That turned out to not be much of a problem, as the media was easily led into a frenzy of anti-Indian sentiment and eagerly seized on each action as justified.  In 1867, Sherman wrote in a letter to Ulysses S. Grant (then Commanding General of the Federal Army) that unrestrained slaughter was his plan for the Final Solution to the Indian Problem.  He used that exact term on several other occasions and, yes, you read that correctly.  “Final Solution” is a phrase more commonly associated with Adolf Hitler; who, it turns out, had quite an early and avid affinity for studying the American west and did indeed base his final solution on the way America handled the Indians.

“Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of British and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination—by starvation and uneven combat—of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.” John Toland, Adolf Hitler (New York: Doubleday, 1976), p. 802.

Later, Sherman was rewarded for his leadership by being made the Army’s Commander General once Grant became President.  The Indian wars were basically a genocide, and the soldiers were allowed to indulge in horrendous actions.  Two of the most famous incidents of the time were the Battle of Sand Creek – hardly a “battle” – and Wounded Knee.  Sand Creek is described in this excerpt [I have left out the worst parts of the account, which are simply too sickening to be borne]:

 

As one of Chivington’s guides said, of the 600 or so in the camp at the time of the attack, there were about “thirty-five braves and some old men, about sixty in all” (the remainder being women and children). Chivington had 700 armed soldiers and artillery….

…the Indians were attacked under both the American and white flags [i.e., the Indians were flying both flags themselves, thinking it afforded them protection]…

While the massacre was a source of outrage among many people, despite an investigation by Congress, no real severe penalty was handed out to anyone involved…

‘I went over the ground soon after the battle. I should judge there were between 400 and 500 Indians killed…. Nearly all, men, women, and children were scalped. I saw one woman whose privates had been mutilated.’
 – Asbury Bird, Company D of the First Colorado Cavalry

‘The bodies were horribly cut up, skulls broken in a good many; I judge they were broken in after they were killed, as they were shot besides. I do not think I saw any but what was scalped; saw fingers cut off [to take rings] saw several bodies with privates cut off, women as well as men.’
 – Sergeant Lucien Palmer, First Cavalry’s Company C…

One last quote, not from a participant:
‘[The Sand Creek Massacre was] as righteous and beneficial a deed as ever took place on the frontier.’
 – Theodore Roosevelt

http://www.operationmorningstar.org/sand_creek_massacre.htm

Note the final sentence from this account of Wounded Knee:

December 29, 1890: Big Foot’s band of Minneconjous try to reach Pine Ridge and the protection of Red Cloud after hearing of Sitting Bull’s death.  Also present were members of the Sioux band led by Chief Spotted Elk. Hungry and exhausted, they had assembled under armed guard as requested to receive the protection of the Government of the United States of America, surrendering their arms and submitting to a forced search of tents and teepees that yielded but two remaining rifles.

Marched to Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota, they were disarmed by the U.S. Army.  A group of 120 men and 230 women and children were counted by Major Samuel Whitside at sundown on December 28, 1890. The next day an unidentified shot rang out and the well-armed 487 U.S. soldiers ringing the defenseless people opened fire. Afterwards, 256 Sioux lay dead and were buried in mass graves.

Twenty (20) Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded the soldiers.

http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/imperialism/notes/nativeamericanchron.html

 

We so condoned this sort of wholesale slaughter that Medals of Honor were awarded to some of the perpetrators.

General George Custer is famous for his role in the Indian wars.  In a sickening little footnote to history, it turns out that Custer liked to have a band to playing an Irish jig called “Garry Owens” during the his attacks on Indian villages; he felt it “gentled” the action and made the killing “more rhythmic”.

We seem to have learned nothing from this history, except that “these things happen”. Today we have a standing army, which we were warned against from the very inception of this country.  For example, James Madison said, “… Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.  Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people..”   He also wrote, “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Prior to WW2, the US Army was raised for periods of two years at a time. The Continental Congress established the Continental Army in 1775 to fight the revolution. The Legion of the United States was established in 1792- 1796 to fight the Native Americans (which means it was established and renewed once).  Congress raised the Army for the War of 1812 and again in 1846 for the Mexican-American War.  The state militias were called to form an army for the Civil War and the Indian Wars, which drifted into the 1890’s.  The state militias were centralized into the National Guard through the Militia Acts of 1903 and 1908, leading to the National Defense Act of 1916; this latter Act largely created the accepted concept of the standing army we have now. The annual Federal subsidy allocated to the armed forces was replaced with an annual budget and the Guardsmen could be drafted into federal service for the first time.  After WW2, and with the onset of the Cold War, the National Security Act of 1947 created the actual working framework for today’s modern military.  At first, this was called the National Military Establishment; in 1949, it was renamed the Department of Defense.  Today, we have 1.43 million active duty military personnel and 848,000 in reserve components.  In other words, we sort of drifted into having a standing army, which now demands the largest portion of our tax monies.

So now we are in a situation where we house soldiers in 800 bases located in 150 different countries.  We are drone-bombing six or seven countries and the drones are operated by four separate agencies of the government, at least one of which does not answer to any Commander-in-Chief.  The use of drones over American land has been authorized at the same time that the current president has declared he has the right to kill American citizens at his whim. (Which makes his comment today regarding the massacre in Afghanistan all the more, well….interesting: “The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens, and our children, who were murdered. We’re heartbroken over the loss of innocent life,” Obama said.)  This is from the same man who recently had three US citizens living abroad, one of them a teen-aged boy, assassinated.

On that subject, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a nominal Democrat, said in conversation to CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday:

CROWLEY: Right. Let me ask you something about — something the attorney general said recently. He was giving a speech to Northwestern University Law School. And he was suggesting — he said, you know, people are arguing that for some reason the president needs to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a U.S. citizen overseas who’s an operational leader in al Qaeda.

He says that’s just not accurate. That due process and judicial process are not one and the same….Do you have any problem with that? Do you understand what that means exactly?

REID: No, I don’t. But I do know this…the American citizens who have been killed overseas who are terrorists, and, frankly, if anyone in the world deserved to be killed, those three did deserve to be killed.

CROWLEY: And these were the three that were killed in Yemen…are you slightly uncomfortable with the idea that the United States president, whoever it may be, can decide that this or that U.S. citizen living abroad is a threat to national security and kill them?

REID: Well, I don’t know what the attorney general meant by saying that. I’d have to study it a little bit. I’ve never heard that term before. But I think the process is in play. I think it’s one that I think we can live with. And I think with the international war on terror that’s going on now, we’re going to have to make sure that we have the tools to get some of these people who are very bad and comply with American law.

CROWLEY: And you think that the president should be able to make that decision in conjunction with the folks in the administration without going to a court, without going to you all, anything?

REID: There is a war going on. There’s no question about that. He’s the commander-in-chief. And there has been guidelines set. And if he follows those, I think he should be able to do it.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1203/11/sotu.01.html

The militarized forces have metamorphosed us into a society that accepts as natural preemptive wars without Congressional votes, “spy on your neighbor” programs, the whole-of-government approach to terrorism (where every agency in the gov’t aids in the search for suspects in the US),  police forces equipped with military hardware, new laws restricting protest, intrusive scans while traveling, government eavesdropping of phone calls and internet use, the indefinite detention of US citizens, and even the assassination of anyone, anywhere in the world at the president’s direction.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of one million Americans are now on the “terror watch lists”.

It is time and beyond time to face who we are and how we got here.  It is time to learn for once and all the lessons we neglected to study in all these years.  Atrocities such as the massacre in Afghanistan over the weekend do not need to just “happen”.

It is time to have an end of this forever war.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Afghanistan, American Indians, Congress, Haiti, MIC

 

The PFUTS plan.

Okay.  After a couple of centuries of working on it, we pretty much have a perfect plan now.  It’s called PFUTS.  Preemptively Fuck Up Their Shit.  It simply means going after The Enemy before they have done anything to us.  Just in case.  Because we want their stuff, or because we want them to have enough sense to choose a different form of government than what they have, or because we need to justify the gross amount of cash we spend on Weapons and Warriors.  Or because we are having an election and aside from taking away birth control, the minimum wage, or social security, the only thing our politicians know how to talk about is war – so they have to create one to talk about.  Or just because we feel like fucking someone up.

The “Their” can be filled in with whomever we choose as the enemy of the day.  Today it’s Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and Syria.  Yesterday, Libya.  The day before, Iraq and Afghanistan.  In Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, we are currently following up the PFUTS operations with the sub-plan, CFUTS, or Continue to Fuck Up Their Shit.  The only reason to follow PFUTS with CFUTS is because we can.  We want to.  We like doing it.  There can be no other explanation.  As we can see in Iraq, for example, we totally decimated the country.  Somewhere around one million of their people were killed, four to six million were displaced and had to flee their own country, their water and soil is poisoned with our depleted uranium, electricity is still not available many hours of the day, schools and hospitals remain closed, and tens of thousands of Iraqi women have turned to prostitution in an effort to feed their children because there are no jobs.  Yet we haven’t quite left yet; our State Department remains with thousands of mercenaries and drones, while we demand war reparations from the country.  We invaded them for no reason, but they have to pay us back for the expenses we incurred on ourselves in the invasion and war.  In Libya, we have sent around 6000 US troops to guard the oil fields while the government we foisted upon them, the NTC, grabs black Africans and former Ghaddafi supporters off the streets, imprisoning and torturing them.  There again, we are demanding that Libya pay for their “liberation” by forfeiting the funds we illegally seized right before we started bombing the crap out of their cities.  In Afghanistan, we have US troops guarding gold mines for JPMorgan, while we continue to drop bombs and engage in “warcraft” with the Taliban.  For some reason (and it is probably just as simple as wanting to give Raytheon and Lockheed a chance to make a few more bucks while we figure out how to get that damn pipeline built) we seem to be arming the Taliban at the same time we are trying to kill them.

Some countries never escape our CFUTS sub-plan.  See, for example, Haiti.  The Philippines.  Japan.  (See, for that matter, Native Americans.)  Although our CFUTS is a little more subtle in those instances than in Libya or Iraq.  It’s a work in progress, only now nearing perfection; and now that the American public seems to really be on board with the whole PFUTS thing, really behind it, the guys in charge of fucking up people’s shit can be a little more obvious.  Obama openly talks about projecting power and the right of the US to exert dominance wherever we feel it is necessary in order to secure our advantage economically.  [See my previous article: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/02/the-2012-defense-strategic-guidance/ ]

They are so obvious about it that we now have a sitting US president bragging about assassinating foreigners (living in countries with which we are not at war), and US citizens at his whim.  Without any charges brought against them, without any legal evidence of their alleged wrong-doing, without trial or sentence.  Our top diplomat can now boldly state that the leader of a sovereign nation should do as we direct and step down because “his days are numbered”. [http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/18/us-syria-usa-clinton-idUSTRE7AH2LQ20111118]

This is different than what NATO did in Libya, Clinton is quick to point out, and she is technically correct.  In Libya, we posted a 2 million dollar on Ghaddafi’s head, directed the “rebels” on where to find him, and then laughed as he was tortured and assassinated.  Assad does not yet have a bounty on his head.

Our PFUTS plan for Iran involves accusing them of doing things they are not doing, sending in the CIA to mess with their people, assassinating their scientists and then imposing sanctions on them, which is an act of aggressive, preemptive economic war.  We have also invaded their air space, sending drones over, one of which crashed onto Iranian soil.  (Somehow that prompted a threat of what we would do if they didn’t return it.)  Now we have them surrounded by land and sea and wonder why in the hell those Persians are not meekly submitting to our “power projections”.  How dare they deny that they are not doing what they are not doing?  How dare they patrol the waters along their own shores, with clever little patrol boats, no less – that is right where we have our warships, damnit.  As you read these passages, notice the discrepancy between our military hardware and that of the Iranian forces.

Nerves were strained as an Iranian patrol boat approached the USS Abraham Lincoln at speed.

A helicopter escort hovered above the vessel in a warning not to get any closer, and the grey boat, tiny compared to the massive U.S. aircraft carrier, eventually turned around.

The encounter involving U.S. and Iranian boats, common in recent weeks, underscores rising tensions in the Gulf region between rival powers since Tehran threatened to close the Hormuz Strait, the world’s most important oil shipping waterway, over Western moves to ban Iranian crude exports….

The fleet, known as “Carrier Strike Group Nine” has been making forays through Hormuz despite the Iranian threats….

With four helicopters circling overhead and two destroyers leading, the carrier entered Hormuz while up in the watch tower, some seven Navy commanding officers, intelligence chiefs and legal experts were gathered in a small but busy control room…

The head of the fleet, Rear Admiral Troy Shoemaker, spotted two small boats, thought to be of smugglers, being battered by the high waves.

“It is going very well, relatively quiet. We have had a couple of surveillance aircraft, a helicopter and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) but nothing in the way of surface activity,” Shoemaker said, referring to activity from Iranian side…

The Iranians make their presence felt every time U.S. forces cross the strait, by almost escorting the fleet either by air or using patrol boats. The U.S. in return reassesses the threat from Iran on regular basis by studying Iranian activity…

Military experts say the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet patrolling the Gulf – which always has at least one giant super carrier accompanied by scores of jets and a fleet of frigates and destroyers – is overwhelmingly more powerful than Iran’s navy.

But it is the small boats that worry the U.S. Navy most. Vice Admiral Fox said last week that Iran had built up its naval forces in the Gulf and prepared boats that could be used in suicide attacks…
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/17/usa-iran-hormuz-idUSL5E8DH38U20120217

In the same article, we see that some of our “warriors” get at least the gist of PFUTS, if not the entire picture.

For many of the sailors, Iran’s threats were not always something they paid attention to. They often saw their mission in simpler terms.

We want that oil to go where it needs to go in this world. We want people in this region to be able to get the products they can buy from Europe, from America, other regions of the world,” said Naval Aviator Matt Driskill, 33, who recently flew fighter planes over Libya and over Iraq in 2004. [from same Reuters article cited above.]

Now see, I really like this young man.  He has thoroughly accepted and internalized the indoctrination that the US has the right to all the oil in Iran and that we are there for the Good of the Whole Entire Earth.  I see stars and shiny things dangling from his lapels in his future.  He hasn’t seemed to grasp that the oil isn’t flowing from Iran because, well, uh, we sanctioned and embargoed them, thus preventing them from trading their oil.  However, he is sanguine in his belief that this is their fault, too, and so he watches for suicide patrol boats and stands prepared to loose the dogs of war.  He is a good soldier.

We all are, now.  We obediently line up to be scanned at the airports, we laugh at videos of people who are tasered unto death by the local police and make jokes about it.  At least 500 people have been killed by tasers to date. [ http://rt.com/usa/news/500-taser-law-enforcement-503/ ]

We listen blandly as our leaders suggest that we should use more weapons, more secret forces, more drones dropping bombs in more countries, drones over our own skies, as they boast of militarized local police forces, and plan the use of the military in our cities and towns.  [See for instance:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/us/admiral-pushes-for-freer-hand-in-special-forces.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 and this: http://wsws.org/articles/2012/feb2012/pers-f14.shtml ]

We have accepted the indoctrination; the words no longer sound strange to us.  “Homeland”, “warriors”, “warrior class”, “special ops”, “black site”, “targeted assassination”, “rendition”, “Patriot Act”, “see something, say something”….

I just saw an ad for a movie, coming soon to a theater near you.  It is entitled, “Act of Valor” and stars real-io, trul-io, live-io Navy SEALs, who, I assume, must remain anonymous in their starring roles.

An unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, Act of Valor stars a group of active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs in a film like no other in Hollywood’s history. A fictionalized account of real life Navy SEAL operations, Act of Valor features a gripping story that takes audiences on an adrenaline-fueled, edge-of-their-seat journey. When a mission to recover a kidnapped CIA operative unexpectedly results in the discovery of an imminent, terrifying global threat, an elite team of highly trained Navy SEALs must immediately embark on a heart-stopping secret operation, the outcome of which will determine the fate of us all. Act of Valor combines stunning combat sequences, up-to-the-minute battlefield technology, and heart-pumping emotion for the ultimate action adventure film-showcasing the skills, training and tenacity of the greatest action heroes of them all: real Navy SEALs. — movie synopsis.

Now, this is open propaganda and indoctrination.  The definition of “valor” is: “exceptional or heroic courage when facing danger (especially in battle)”.  This movie is based on an actual event, the killing of Osama bin Laden.  We sneaked into a sovereign nation after a man who was alleged to be the mastermind of 9/11, although the evidence was so nonexistent that we never even brought charges against him and the tapes purportedly made by him after 9/11 have been proven to be fakes.  It is likely he actually died a decade ago.  But once there in Pakistan, we shot his unarmed wife, shot and killed him as he stood, also unarmed, and dumped his body in the ocean.  There was no battle.  Whomever they shot was some old guy without a weapon of any sort.  What is valorous about that?

Maybe we are just stupid, but we have not seemed to glom onto the fact that the psychopaths running things are also targeting us.  And let me assure you that these people are seriously deranged.  How can anyone not see this?  They are using their PFUOS (Preemptively Fuck Up Our Shit) plan right here at home.  Perhaps we can’t grasp it because our brains have been permanently damaged by the fluoride they put in the water.  [http://www.infowars.com/story-on-mystery-substance-distracts-from-fact-fluoride-is-a-deadly-killer/ ]  Or because our food has lost most of its nutritional value and our brains are starved of vitamins and minerals.  [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss]

Whatever it is, we fail to recognize that the oligarchy is ruining our lives right along with all those foreigners we think we need to hate.  They keep coming up with plans that should ring alarms – yet no-one notices.  The mortgage settlement that Obama announced the other day will cost the taxpayers roughly 20 bb out of the 25 bb.  And, by the way, not one single home will be returned to anyone who was foreclosed on fraudulently.
[See: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/02/09-5 ]

They are giving all of Greece to the big banks, and I have to ask frankly, has it occurred to anyone that we are paying a boat-load of interest on the national debt to the same banks that we just gave 14.7 trillion in bail-outs to?  They want all of the US, too, see, but nowadays, they have you pretty well convinced that the whole economic downturn thing was the fault of poor people trying to own houses.  All it took was a few politicians and newspapers saying or writing complete blathering nonsense for a year or so, and you have totally forgotten how we got into this mess.

If Obama and Congress suggested that the way out of our troubles was to sacrifice virgins to the great god Moloch, I suspect the only argument we would be having would be over which serves the purpose better: “pure” American virgins or the children of immigrants, as a way to solve the “illegal alien problem”.  (Hate to tell you, but Obama is disallowing the LIFO – Last In, First Out – method of accounting in his new budget.)  Anyone who objected to throwing children off the dome of the Capitol on moral grounds would be jeered at as pansy, socialist, bleeding hearts by most of the population.

They got the EPA to approve a pesticide which is probably the cause of the bee colony collapse using fraudulent research; but we mustn’t interfere with Monsanto’s part in the PFUOS.  [  http://grist.org/politics/food-2010-12-10-leaked-documents-show-epa-allowed-bee-toxic-pesticide/ ]  And now, they’ve come up with a plan to sequester carbon – by turning it into liquid and burying it in giant pits a mile underground.  This should sound utterly insane, but we are talking about the same people who poison our water with fracking, tell us Gulf seafood is safe to eat, allow new nuclear facilities to be built with outdated standards, allow new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, overfish the oceans until we are are nearing complete collapse of the fish stock, use massive amounts of antibiotics on feed animals; and we don’t seem to have sense enough to wonder about those either. [http://www.alternet.org/environment/154106]

Go watch “Act of Valor”.  Have some popcorn.  Might as well have some good old-fashioned fun watching guys shoot and maim other guys while the people in charge fuck up your shit.

Bonus thought.  From wikipedia;  “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, called the ‘Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John the Evangelist’ at 6:1-8. The chapter tells of a ‘ ‘book’/’scroll’ in God’s right hand that is sealed with seven seals’. The Lamb of God/Lion of Judah (Jesus Christ) opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons forth four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses. Although some interpretations differ, the four riders are commonly seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine and Death, respectively. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment.”

People in other countries, being closer to the state of sanity than we are, might tremble at the sight of the four horses.  The American response, however, would be, “Oooo-ooo, I’ll take the red horse for 200, Alex!”