Teaching critical thinking to high school students: US Government research/presentation (5.4 of 6)

The following are my teaching assignments on critical thinking for California 12th grade students in the semester-long courses, “US Government” and “Economics.” I offer them for non-profit use:

This is the final action: students explore their interests with research, writing, and presentation to the class. At this point of the course, the previous sections from this article and my sharing of current events have opened students’ minds that the world they thought existed in government and economics was a fairy tale believed by the ignorant. This conclusion is justified from the objective and independently verifiable facts, and young-adult confidence that they really do know some things more powerfully than adults (please recall this fact from when we were their ages).

This last project for student research, writing, and class presentation is divided into four parts:

5.1: Basis in academics and state teaching standards

5.2: Revealing US government history 1

5.3: Revealing US government history 2

5.4: The assignment, supporting historical voices

This is 5.4:

Critical thinking skills in action: policy analysis of current events assignment 

Remember: facts are objective and independently verifiable. Facts are real; they exist in reality. Opinions are not real; they exist only when expressed in language and only as long as someone chooses to express them. Fact and political opinion are separate domains. For example: so-called “waterboarding” is not right or wrong in reality because “right” and “wrong” are opinions that only exist in language. Waterboarding/controlled drowning has facts associated with it that can be evaluated under current law, both in letter and intent. Just as in baseball, there can be “close calls” to evaluate the legality of policies that require scrutiny. And just as in baseball, there are acts that are obviously safe or out.

Remember: the conservative and classical legal standard we’re using to evaluate evidence for current events is prima facie. If the facts cannot be refuted, those are considered our best available explanation and legally admissible. Current events must be acted upon in the present. Regarding time-sensitive decisions, we all make our best determination of the facts as we see them. We understand that future factual disclosures and analysis will help.

Remember: people of intellectual integrity and moral courage help each other get the facts, honor academic and democratic freedom by encouraging multiple points of view while holding each other accountable for factual accuracy, and then welcome multiple policy views. This is what academic freedom means. You have full academic freedom in this class.

Remember: your commitment to get the facts is stronger than your fear of challenging a mistaken belief system.

Remember: history and your own experience inform you that when someone claims that something is true when the objective evidence overwhelmingly proves that such a claim is impossible, the usual reason is simple: the person is lying. The motivation to lie is to prevent getting into trouble, and/or to protect something immorally obtained.

Remember: the point of studying these issues and the point of social science is to build a better future. All of us have that mutual commitment.

Instructions: In order to understand current events, people may have to discern among competing statements regarding facts, meaning, and policy opinions. This assignment has you:

  • Read a history of  US government “current events” that are typically omitted from high school US History texts, included in many AP texts, and always included in comprehensive college courses. These accounts are not contested to my knowledge; that is, non-controversial for factual accuracy. Current events of our present cannot be understood without this history to place the present into context.
  • Research one current, important issue of interest for you. Compare different sources of reports in good faith effort to receive comprehensive facts.
  • Use critical thinking skills to determine the key facts as you best see them, reflect and communicate what the facts mean for you, and state your best policy response from your current understanding in writing.
  • Use your written information as notes to report your findings to the class.

At the end of all the reading, select one current event from the list provided, or propose your own for my approval. Consider my suggested questions and resources for each topic, do your own research, and answer the 12 questions below applied to your chosen topic. I suggest that you access the electronic version. This activates the numerous Internet links, and allows you to cut and paste the questions for your word processing program.

Print a copy of your answers to present your findings to the class.

This assignment is 67 points:

  • 23 for written responses to questions: 1 point per question (10 for #3, a brief), 2 for grammar and spelling.
  • 22 for your oral brief to the class (3-12 only): 1 point per question (5 for #3), 5 for visual element (Prezi, Animoto, video, etc. (up to five extra for great work) 2 for clarity.
  • 22 for reading comprehension short-responses: 2 points per 11 sections.

Questions:

  1. Define “cognitive dissonance.” Explain an example you’ve witnessed where someone emotionally rejected key facts and irrationally clung to their previous beliefs, even when those facts were independently verifiable.
  2. You read detailed US history in this assignment. Explain to what extent you were surprised or shocked by US government historical acts in previous “current events.”
  3. Research your issue. Write the central facts of your chosen issue, as you best see them. Include any competing factual claims, if they exist, and whatever else to best describe your issue with comprehensive accuracy. Refute any opposing factual claims that you can. Document your sources (such as you see in this paper). Use any combination of essay and bullet points to best communicate your findings. This question is ten points!
  4. Explain what you notice about the difference between corporate media reporting and alternative media reporting on your topic with explaining the comprehensive facts.
  5. Explain if this topic is somehow a “political belief” or partisan viewpoint without factual substance, or whether it deals with factual issues that are important to understand.
  6. Explain your analysis of the meaning of your factual finds. This is your interpretation of the data.
  7. Explain your policy position of what we as a nation should do about this issue.
  8. Explain how your policy supports the spirit and laws of the US Constitution (ask some people, research the US Constitution, and think).
  9. Explain the cost-benefit analysis of your policy choice as wise with our taxes.
  10. Explain the responsibility of citizens regarding our nation’s most important policies. To what extent does a democracy demand civic participation? To what extent should we trust our government to make decisions for us? To what extent does the US government lie?
  11. Explain the extent of cognitive dissonance your topic and research evoked in you from a zero to three scale:
  • Zero: None. I was totally cool going after the facts wherever they led.
  • One: Slight. I knew about some of the history and allegations, and was undaunted going for the facts on my topic. But at times I felt a little uncomfortable.
  • Two: Whoa. This is intense. I’m committed to the facts. I did good work to get them. I want the truth. But some of this information triggered cognitive dissonance.
  • Three: Herman, you hate America. Go live with the terrorists. Homeland Security should waterboard you. In fact, I’ll call them now and suggest it.

12. Explain the degree you find this assignment helpful to apply critical thinking skills to understand our most important policy issues. Please explain any improvements you see for this assignment.

**

Note for my own published articles as possible resources: I don’t use my “author” voice within the classroom because it includes interpretations of data and policy positions that I exercise in citizenship for policy advocacy. Teachers shouldn’t advocate interpretations or policy positions.

My “teacher” voice focuses on student development of critical thinking skills for students to discover their own interpretations and policy positions, and therefore minimizes any inclusion of my personal views. As a discussion participant among 2,000+ Advanced Placement Government teachers on our listserve, a question was raised in 2009 whether it was appropriate for teachers to ever share their own political opinions and/or policy positions. Many teachers shared their views. My own view received the most positive comments: teachers of any subject need to model competence in that subject. With civic participation, we as teachers understand that people learn from public conversation to help each other access and understand the facts, discuss various viewpoints of what the data mean, and consider various policy positions of what to do. In my class I do not withhold that competence, but frame it this way: I’ll always share my understanding of the comprehensive facts. I’ll only share the meaning I see in them and/or what I think should be done through policy after at least three students share, and with the understanding that in a democracy, my particular views and policy position are no more or less important than any other individual’s. That is, I feel I should participate and model civil and competent discussion, but only in a way that maximizes students’ benefits to understand how to help each other with the data, and then to encourage and respect diverse views and policy positions. 

So with that said, you’re welcome to read and consider my published work as from any other source. My citizen/author voice includes the same professionalism with which I helped create ~300 policy briefs for members of Congress and heads of state so they could quickly and reliably understand complex issues from their facts, AND includes my personal perspective that is in no way factual and in no way something to be “taught.” Perspective is a personal choice to consider and develop. My professional education voice will only provide assistance to access the comprehensive facts and for students to apply critical thinking skills for their own interpretation and policy preference.

To be clear: please find diverse and multiple voices in order to get the most benefit in learning. You’ve just read a lot from me; find other writers on your topic of choice.

The following are topics in current events many people find of interest to apply critical thinking skills to understand. I’ve found them to be among the most interesting for me to personally research, document, and publish my analyses. You’re welcome to select or reject these topics, select or reject the questions I’ve framed, and select or reject resources I’ve found helpful in my own understanding. If you’d like to research one of these topics, please do. If you’d like to research a current event not on this brief list, please write the topic and why it’s of interest to you. All students need to write their topic and explain its interest to turn in to me.

1. Justifications for war with Iraq (pick one or more of the four sub-topics):

  • First: Iraq’s formerly US-supported dictator, Saddam Hussein, was accused by Bush administration of attempting to purchase enriched uranium from the African nation of Niger in order to restart a nuclear weapons program. President Bush made this claim in his January 2003 State of the Union address in the run-up to war with Iraq in March 2003. In June 2003, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson revealed in an article for the New York Times that the CIA had asked him on behalf of Vice President Cheney to investigate the claim of Saddam’s attempted purchase, found it to be refuted by all available evidence, and that he submitted his report to the CIA and Vice President’s office in 2002. Wilson’s rebuke of President Bush’s claim for war led to Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, being “outed” as a covert CIA agent. This resulted in the criminal prosecution of Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, “Scooter” Libby for obstructing the investigation (President Bush commuted Libby’s sentence). This is also the topic of the 2010 film, “Fair Game.” Questions to consider: What did the US government claim? What was their evidence, and how credible was it? What facts did Mr. Wilson claim?
  • Second: The Bush administration accused Saddam of purchasing aluminum tubes that could “only” be used to enrich uranium in a weapons program. Questions to consider: What did the US Department of Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency report on the validity of those claims? Why did our government reject the strongest expert analyses of the facts from the US and the UN?
  • Third: Vice President Cheney and other leading Bush officials claimed that Saddam had links to Al Qaeda terrorists. Questions: What did all 16 US intelligence agencies say about this claim? What evidence did Mr. Cheney produce to support his claim?
  • Fourth: The Bush administration claimed Iraq had and could use “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD). Questions: What did George Tenet (Director of the CIA) say about the strength of those weapons, delivery systems, Saddam’s motivation to use them, and whether Saddam passed a legal justification for war as a known “imminent threat” (similar to you being on the street and a person pulling a gun on you in a threatening way)? What did the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) say about Iraq being an imminent threat to US national security?

Resources: I started writing and publishing to answer all of the above questions because I found US corporate media did not do so, offering the same “reporting” I showed you of the NY Times with ending poverty. The detailed briefing I wrote for interested members of Congress and publication: War with Iraq and Afghanistan, rhetoric for war with Iran (versions since 2006). Other articles I wrote about these wars that might be helpful: Are US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan well-intended mistakes? What we now know from the evidence (Sept. 9, 2009), How a government teacher easily proves Occupy’s claim of US War Crimes (Feb. 16, 2012), Earth: 248 armed conflicts after WW2; US started 201 (81%), killing 30 million so far (May 17, 2014), US military legal argument for current wars: ‘Self-defense’ is whatever we say (May 13, 2014), US unlawful wars is ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ tragic-comedy: defining ‘clothes,’ ‘wear,’ ‘self-defense’ (May 17, 2014), You’d never allow a favorite sport destroyed by psychopathic ‘officials;’ why allow the US destroyed? (May 3, 2014). In addition: Lara Logan, CBS News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent explains how US corporate media Disneyfies war coverage in this 2008 interview on the Daily Show: The Daily Show: Lara Logan on the US media: ‘I’d just blow my brains out because it would drive me nuts.’ 

2. Justification for war with Afghanistan. Questions: What was the reason the US gave to attack Afghanistan in 2001? What had the UN Security Council resolved to do in two legally-binding resolutions? What did the US demand from Afghanistan before the US chose armed attack? What was the Afghan government response to the US demand? What evidence did the US provide to Afghanistan, or anyone else, to support their claims of who was guilty of the 9/11 attacks on the US?

Resources: see above resources for #1.

3. Legality of war with Afghanistan and Iraq. Questions: How did the US justify armed attack and invasion without UN Security Council approval? What is the law when war is and is not legal? What exactly did Congress authorize for use of force, and what limitation did it remind the President for use of force? Does the evidence show that the US invasion was legal under UN law/US treaty law, or is it an unlawful War of Aggression? What does the Constitution say about US obligation to follow our treaties, including with the UN, under Article Six?

Resources: see resources for #1.

4. Rhetoric for war with Iran (pick one or both of the two sub-topics): 

  • First: What are our government leaders saying about Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s speech of October, 2005 to “wipe Israel off the map”? Read the speech for yourself. What was he talking about in the one paragraph in question? Is this paragraph somehow ambiguous in meaning that justifies different interpretations, or do you find that “wipe Israel off the map” is a lie of commission? What is the purpose of our government and media’s “translation” if you find any lies?
  • What does the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) legally promise regarding nuclear energy and medical isotopes for imaging diagnostics? Is Iran in compliance with NPT? Is the US in compliance? Why don’t most Americans know this information on the simple facts of what NPT says? Is the US rhetoric choice of Iran’s “nuclear program” for factual accuracy or to conflate unlawful nuclear weapons with lawful nuclear power and medical use?

Resources: Here’re my attempts to document and explain: What Iran’s president said about Israel and What IAEA reports on Iran’s nuclear energy/medicine. Here are more of my resources on this topic. 4 and 3-minute videos:  Lie: President of Iran said he wanted to wipe Israel off the mapApologize to the world Mr. Wallace and return that Emmy.

5. 2006 Military Commissions Act (MCA): Questions: What does MCA really say? What Constitutional rights are denied to people who the Executive Branch dictates as “unlawful enemy combatants”? For your analysis, some “why” questions: Why does the Executive Branch seek to declare anyone, including US citizens, “unlawful enemy combatants”? Why did Congress surrendered these Constitutional rights? Why has the media not fully informed the American public? Compare the provisions of MCA with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially Articles 1-13. Why would the US reject Human Rights?

Resources: Washington Post. U.S. can confine citizens without charges, court rules. Markon, J. Sept. 10, 2005:

6. Torture? Questions: How is torture legally defined? What has US courts found with torture and waterboarding? What does the US Constitution say about torture? What interrogation techniques have the Executive Branch approved? What do you think is the meaning of the Obama administration choosing to not prosecute Bush administration figures for torture, and to “look forward” instead? If you waterboarded someone and asked law enforcement to “look forward” and not prosecute you, do you think that would work?

Resources: What I personally found helpful: 6-minute video of Jonathan Turley, leading Constitutional Law professor and author, “Countdown: War Crimes prosecutions possible”,  Atlantic Free Press. Chris Floyd: wrist-slap and tickle: Obama goes mild on CIA torture. Aug, 28, 2009, Washington Post. CIA played larger role in advising Pentagon. Warrick, J. June 18, 2008, CNN. Report: Exams reveal abuse, torture of detainees. June 18, 2008, Washington Post. General accuses WH of War Crimes. June 18, 2008, Global Research. Bush administration post-Constitutional order: “It was real ‘Manchurian Candidate’ Stuff”. Burghardt, T. June 19, 2008, Global Research. Broken laws, broken lives: the consequences of torture. Review of Physicians for Human Rights’ report. Spratley, S. June 20, 2008, 2-minute video of Rep. John Conyers questioning the Bush administration lawyer who advised that “enhanced interrogation” is not torture: Truthdig. Way beyond waterboarding. July 1, 2008, 2-minute video on House testimony of how many detainees died and the number of those who were murdered by the US. Think Progress. Ex-State Dept. official: Hundreds of detainees died in U.S. custody, at least 25 murdered. June 18, 2008, and 10-minute video that is the best of all in previous students’ opinions to communicate this issue: PuppetGov. Obama and the War Criminals.

7. Warrantless spying: What does the Constitution say about searches? What exactly has the Executive Branch authorized with data collection? Why did President Bush threaten to veto extended legislation if it doesn’t promise legal immunity to telecommunications companies? Has Congress abandoned the 4th Amendment, and President Obama for refusing to prosecute anyone? What has insider, Mark Klein, said? What’s the latest with this story?

Resources: Salon.com. Exposing Bush’s historic abuse of power. Shorrock, T. July 23, 2008, 6-minute video with Constitutional Law professor Jonathan Turley: tonchi2a. Countdown: Democrats helpBush cover-up on FISA. July 8, 2008, Prison Planet. Constitutional expert: FISA bill ‘is an evisceration of the Fourth Amendment’. Langewis, N., Edwards, D. June 20, 2008, Alternet. Democrats have legalized Bush’s crimes. Parry, R. June 21, 2008, and Washington Post. A story of surveillance. Nakashima, E. Nov. 7, 2007.

8. $2.3 Trillion missing from the Pentagon: Questions: When Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld acknowledged this on 9/10/01, what investigations have ensued? Even under the scenario of “losing” $100 million per project, how many projects would it take to lose $2.3 trillion? What is the meaning of this “missing” money if not the obvious and first explanation that it was looted? Why hasn’t corporate media reported on this story?

Resources: 9-11 Research. Missing trillions, Solari. The missing money: trillions of dollars are missing from the US government (with two videos). Oct. 7, 2009.

9. Electronic voting machines: Questions: Are these systems accountable with no paper trail and secret proprietary software? Do we have evidence of problems from the 2004 presidential election and other elections? Why did California decertify these machines?

Resources: Explore the home page, and top bar topics of “The Problem” and “The Solution”: Open voting consortium. Wantoknow.info and Elections. The Free Press. Powerful Government Accountability Office report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings. Fitrakis, B., Wasserman, H. Oct. 26, 2005, and Issues section for the movie, Uncounted and trailer. Stanford and Princeton research validate this glaring concern: Stanford News Service. Computerized voting systems pose unacceptable risks unless they provide a voter-verifiable audit trail. Jan. 30, 2003, Princeton University. Researchers reveal ‘extremely serious‘ vulnerabilities in e-voting machines. Riordan, T. Sept. 13, 2006, BlackBoxVoting.org.

10. NSPD-51: Questions: What is NSPD-51? Where does the power of government go if the president declares a national emergency? What happens to checks and balances? Does this document only leave us with “trust” that dictatorial power won’t be abused rather than limited government and separation of powers?

Resources: Global Research. Secret Bush administration plan to suspend US Constitution. Burghardt, T. Oct. 6, 2008, SFGate. Rule by fear or rule by law? Seiler, L., Hamburg, D. Feb. 4, 2008, Information Clearing House. The reality of NSPD-51 is almost as bad as the paranoia. Rosenbaum, R. Oct. 19, 2007, C-SPAN 10-minute video discussion: PSDTeam1. National Security Presidential Directive / NSPD 51. Sep 22, 2008, Global Research. Bush Executive Order: Criminalizing the antiwar movement. Chossudovsky, M. Jul 20, 2007.

11. Useful history? Business Plot, General Smedley Butler, War is a Racket: Questions: What did Congress conclude and what did they do about a fascist plot to overthrow the US government in 1934? What did General Butler say in War is a Racket? What was the Founding Father’s position on the likelihood of recurring tyranny and American citizens’ vigilance? Is a fascist coup impossible in America today?

Resources: Wanttoknow.info. War Cover-up, History Channel. The plot to overthrow FDR, BBC Radio. The Whitehouse Coup. July 23, 2007, Examiner.com. Most decorated US Marine General: purpose of all US wars is billions for insiders’ profits. Herman, C. March 6, 2010.

12. Impeachment: Questions: Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced Impeachment Articles against Vice President Cheney in November, 2007 and against President Bush in June, 2008. What is impeachment? According to the Constitution, is it possible to file criminal or civil charges against an acting President, Vice President or civil officer, or is impeachment hearings the only recourse to investigate possible crimes? Read at least some of the charges (“high crimes and misdemeanors”) that Kucinich alleges. Research for rebuttals, including among Democratic leaders who have declared impeachment “off the table.”  Do the rebuttals address the charges, or give philosophical arguments against impeachment? From your research of the facts involved with the charges, is impeachment justified? Because the Obama administration has continued the same policies, should President Obama be impeached? If so, why did Kucinich not take this action against a president from his own party?

Resources: Washington’s Blog. Conyers tries to kill impeachment hearings before they start. July 23, 2008, The Raw Story. Turley fears Dems will let alleged ‘Bush crimes’ stay buried forever. Edwards, D., Kane, M. July 23, 2008, MSNBC transcript: read interview with Jonathan Turley. ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann’ for Tuesday, June 10, 2008. Global Research. The impeachment process: why not Nancy? Sheehan, C. June 14, 2008. Washington’s Blog. It is NOT too late to impeach. June 16, 2008.

13. Extrajudicial assassination, including of American citizens: Questions: What does the US Constitution promise people (not just citizens) if the US government suspects they’ve committed a crime; that is, what rights of the accused are explicitly stated? What is the Oath of Office of a US President? Is this murder? If it’s murder, what should be done?

Resources: see footnotes on page 19.

14. What is up/down with our economy?! Questions: Given you’re probably jumping into a new topic, what do you see as the key areas of determining success or failure of an economy? What are the facts showing how we’re doing? Given what you’ve read in this assignment, is it also possible/probable that any reporting of economic performance is in danger of lies of omission and commission?

Resources: My best suggestion is to read the Economics class version of this assignment from the school’s website under the Economics class information. An article: How an economics teacher presents Occupy’s economic argument, victory. Jan. 30, 2012. For a film option, watch the 2011 Academy Award-winner for Best Feature Documentary, Inside Job (you’ll have to rent it), or Zeitgeist Addendum online

15. Choose and propose your own topic. What topic in government or economics with current importance do you want to understand? I encourage you to choose what you find the most important and interesting for you.

Great voices in history offer insights for effective citizenry

Quotes on the responsibility of public vigilance to safeguard our Constitutional rights:

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”  – Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, 1738.

“The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men. Of the latter we are in most danger at present: Let us therefore be aware of it. Let us contemplate our forefathers and posterity; and resolve to maintain the rights bequeath’d to us from the former, for the sake of the latter. — Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made, which is the wish of our enemies, the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance. Let us remember that ‘if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.’ It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.” – Samuel Adams, Essay, written under the pseudonym “Candidus,” in The Boston Gazette (14 October 1771).

“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” – John Adams, Notes for an oration at Braintree (Spring 1772), quoted from David McCullough’s John Adams, 2001, page 70.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” – Declaration of Independence

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom – go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!” – Samuel Adams, speech at the State House of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, August 1, 1776. Quoted from Colonial Press’s Orations of American Orators, 1900, page 3.

“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” – Thomas Jefferson, notes on the state of Virginia, Ch. 17, 1781.

On September 18, 1787, just after signing the US Constitution, Benjamin Franklin met with members of the press. He was asked what kind of government America would have. Franklin: “A republic, if you can keep it.” In his speech to the Constitutional Convention, Franklin admonished: “This [U.S. Constitution] is likely to be administered for a course of years and then end in despotism… when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.”  – The Quotable Founding Fathers, pg. 39.

“The right of a nation to kill a tyrant, in cases of necessity, can no more be doubted, than to hang a robber, or kill a flea. But killing one tyrant only makes way for worse, unless the people have sense, spirit and honesty enough to establish and support a constitution guarded at all points against the tyranny of the one, the few, and the many. Let it be the study, therefore, of lawgivers and philosophers, to enlighten the people’s understandings and improve their morals, by good and general education; to enable them to comprehend the scheme of government, and to know upon what points their liberties depend; to dissipate those vulgar prejudices and popular superstitions that oppose themselves to good government; and to teach them that obedience to the laws is as indispensable in them as in lords and kings.” – John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government (1787), Ch. 18.

“A mere demarcation on parchment of the constitutional limits (of government) is not a sufficient guard against those encroachments which lead to a tyrannical concentration of all the powers of government in the same hands.”  – James Madison, Federalist Paper #48, 1788.

“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. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” – James Madison, “Political Observations” 1795; also in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (1865), Vol. IV, p. 491.

The following three paragraphs are from George Washington in his Farewell Address, an open letter to the American public published on September 19, 1796.

“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion…

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.”

“It is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power… Our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go… In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”  – Thomas Jefferson, Draft Kentucky Resolution (1798. ME 17:388)

“I can never join with my voice in the toast which I see in the papers attributed to one of our gallant naval heroes. I cannot ask of heaven’s success, even for my country, in a cause where she should be in the wrong. Fiat justitia, pereat coelum.” – John Quincy Adams, Letter to John Adams (Aug. 1, 1816), speaking of the popular phrase “My Country, Right or Wrong!” The Latin phrase is ancient: “Let justice be done though heaven should fall.”

“A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring, it is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”  – James Madison, Letter to W.T. Barry (Aug. 4, 1822)

The following five paragraphs are from Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum Address, January 27 1838.

“I know the American People are much attached to their Government;–I know they would suffer much for its sake;–I know they would endure evils long and patiently, before they would ever think of exchanging it for another. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence; and to that, sooner or later, it must come.

Here then, is one point at which danger may be expected.

The question recurs, “how shall we fortify against it?” The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;–let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap–let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;–let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

…Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.–Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws.”

“The citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth’s political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal, he is a traitor. That he may be the only one who thinks he sees this decay, does not excuse him: it is his duty to agitate anyway, and it is the duty of others to vote him down if they do not see the matter as he does.”  – Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, 1889, Ch. 13, page 107.

“In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” – Mark Twain, Notebook, 1904.

“The only rational patriotism is loyalty to the Nation ALL the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain, Czar Nicholas II, 1905, Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays, 1891-1910 (1992) ed. Louis J. Budd.

“The loud little handful — as usual — will shout for the war. The pulpit will — warily and cautiously — object — at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, “It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.” Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers — as earlier — but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation — pulpit and all — will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.” – Mark Twain, The Chronicle of Satan, 1905.

“Citizenship? We have none! In place of it we teach patriotism which Samuel Johnson said a hundred and forty or a hundred and fifty years ago was the last refuge of the scoundrel — and I believe that he was right. I remember when I was a boy and I heard repeated time and time again the phrase, ‘My country, right or wrong, my country!’ How absolutely absurd is such an idea. How absolutely absurd to teach this idea to the youth of the country.” – Mark Twain, True Citizenship at the Children’s Theatre, 1907.

“Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people. From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare they have become the tools of corrupt interests, which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics, is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.” – Theodore Roosevelt, “The Progressive Covenant With The People” speech (August, 1912). recording of the speech from the Library of Congress here. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/troosevelt_film/trfpcp.html .

“Since I entered politics I have chiefly had men’s view confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.” – Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom, Section I: The Old Order Changeth, 1913, page 13.

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Kansas City Star, May 7, 1918, page 149.

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.” – H.L. Mencken, famous American writer, Smart Set (December 1919). Of interest: Mencken looks almost exactly like my grandfather.

“All this was inspired by the principle – which is quite true in itself – that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so are brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes.” – Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1925, Ch. 10.

“First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” – unsourced, but attributed to Gandhi

“Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. …voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” – Hermann Goering, 1946 Nuremberg Trial. Quoted by Nuremberg prison psychologist, Gilbert Gustave in Nuremberg Diary, page 278, published by Da Capo Press, 1995  ISBN 0306806614, 9780306806612.

The following five paragraphs are from Dwight Eisenhower in his Presidential Farewell Address, January 17, 1961. The term, “Congressional,” in “military-industrial-Congressional complex” was removed after the final draft was written and just before delivery to placate Congress according to Susan Eisenhower, daughter of Dwight Eisenhower (film clip from “Why We Fight”). Background here.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial-Congressional complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

During the long lane of the history yet to be written, America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent, I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war, as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years, I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

You and I, my fellow citizens, need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nations’ great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing aspiration: We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its few spiritual blessings. Those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibility; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; and that the sources — scourges of poverty, disease, and ignorance will be made [to] disappear from the earth; and that in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”

The following six paragraphs are from President John F. Kennedy in his address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association, April 27, 1961 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NY City. To hear these excerpts, here.

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know…

No President should fear public scrutiny of his programs. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.

I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers–I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed–and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment– the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

This means greater coverage and analysis of international news–for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security–and we intend to do it.

And so it is to the printing press–to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news–that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.”

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.” – Ronald Reagan, address to the annual meeting of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, (March 30, 1961). Another version from his California Gubernatorial Inauguration Speech (Jan. 5, 1967):

“Perhaps you and I have lived with this miracle too long to be properly appreciative.  Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction.  It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people.  Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

“The Trilateral Commission is intended to be the vehicle for multinational consolidation of the commercial and banking interests by seizing control of the political government of the United States. The Trilateral Commission represents a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power political, monetary, intellectual and ecclesiastical. What the Trilateral Commission intends is to create a worldwide economic power superior to the political governments of the nationstates involved. As managers and creators of the system, they will rule the future.” – U.S. Senator and 1964 Republican candidate for President Barry Goldwater in his l964 book: With No Apologies (Morrow, 1979), page 280.

“Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.” – Barry Goldwater, Acceptance Speech as the 1964 Republican Presidential candidate.

“The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements, arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the worlds’ central banks which were themselves private corporations. The growth of financial capitalism made possible a centralization of world economic control and use of this power for the direct benefit of financiers and the indirect injury of all other economic groups.” – Mentor to Bill Clinton and Georgetown University History Professor, Carroll Quigley in Tragedy and Hope, 1966. Recorded interview here.

“Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – Stupid.” – Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, 1965, at a Vietnam press meeting as reported by: Hammond, William M. Reporting Vietnam: Media and Military at War, 1998.

“The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” – Harry Truman, as quoted in Plain Speaking : An Oral Biography of Harry S Truman (1974) by Merle Miller, p. 26.

Background quotes concerning our status of safeguarding Constitutional rights in the present:

“The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example.” – President George W. Bush, June 26, 2003.

“Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.” – President Bush, joking in front of a public audience on March 25, 2004. On video (warning: some graphic war images).

“Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.” – President Bush, speech at Kleinshans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York, April 20, 2004.

“This young century will be liberty’s century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America.” – President Bush, Remarks at 2004 Republican National Convention.

“On United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the United States reaffirms its commitment to the worldwide elimination of torture. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right, and we are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law…Throughout the world, there are many who have been seeking to have their voices heard, to stand up for their right to freedom, and to break the chains of tyranny. Too many of those courageous women and men are paying a terrible price for their brave acts of dissent. Many have been detained, arrested, thrown in prison, and subjected to torture by regimes that fail to understand that their habits of control will not serve them well in the long-term.”  – President Bush, June 27, 2005.

“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”
– General George Washington, letter to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775. Writings of Washington, Vol. 3: To COLONEL BENEDICT ARNOLD Camp at Cambridge.

**

Note: Examiner.com has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers). Some links in my articles are therefore now blocked. If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to http://archive.org/web/, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. Then switch the expired URLs with webarchived ones of that same information. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: here, here).

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The Forgotten War – Understanding The Incredible Debacle Left Behind By NATO In Libya

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold. Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Qaddafi did during his last decade in power, Libya now serves as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the UN, and fueling Syria’s civil war.?

As bad as Libya’s human rights situation was under Qaddafi, it has gotten worse since NATO ousted him. Immediately after taking power, the rebels perpetrated scores of reprisal killings, in addition to torturing, beating, and arbitrarily detaining thousands of suspected Qaddafi supporters. The rebels also expelled 30,000 mostly black residents from the town of Tawergha and burned or looted their homes and shops, on the grounds that some of them supposedly had been mercenaries. Six months after the war, Human Rights Watch declared that the abuses “appear to be so widespread and systematic that they may amount to crimes against humanity.”?

As a consequence of such pervasive violence, the UN estimates that roughly 400,000 Libyans have fled their homes, a quarter of whom have left the country altogether. ?

– From Alan Kuperman’s excellent Foreign Affairs article: Obama’s Libya Debacle

Regular readers will be somewhat familiar with the total chaos NATO left behind in the wake of its so-called “humanitarian” intervention in Libya, but I doubt many of you are aware of just how enormous the disaster actually has become.

Alan J. Kuperman, an Associate Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote an incredible article in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, which is an absolute must read. If the American public and politicians actually wanted to learn from their mistakes and avoid making them in the future, this piece could serve as a comprehensive warning about what not to do.

That said, after reading this article the unfortunate truth becomes apparent; that there are only two logical conclusions that can be reached about American foreign policy leadership in the 21st century.

1) American leadership is ruthlessly pursuing immoral wars all over the world with the intent of creating outside enemies to focus public anger on, as a conscious diversion away from the criminality happening domestically. As an added bonus, the intelligence-military-industrial complex makes an incredible sum of money. The end result: serfs are distracted with inane nationalistic fervor, while the “elites” earn billions.

2) American leadership is completely and totally inept; being easily manipulated into overseas conflicts by ruthless corporate interests and cunning foreign “rebels” in order to advance their own selfish interests, which are in conflict with the interests of the general public.

I can’t come up with any other logical conclusion. Either way, such people have no business running the affairs of these United States, and their actions are merely increasing instability and violence across the planet. The longer they remain in charge with no accountability, the more dangerous this world will become.

From Foreign Affairs:

In March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973, spearheaded by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, authorizing military intervention in Libya. The goal, Obama explained, was to save the lives of peaceful, pro-democracy protesters who found themselves the target of a crackdown by Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi. Not only did Qaddafi endanger the momentum of the nascent Arab Spring, which had recently swept away authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, but he also was poised to commit a bloodbath in the Libyan city where the uprising had started, said the president.

“We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi—a city nearly the size of Charlotte—could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world,” Obama declared. Two days after the UN authorization, the United States and other NATO countries established a no-fly zone throughout Libya and started bombing Qaddafi’s forces. Seven months later, in October 2011, after an extended military campaign with sustained Western support, rebel forces conquered the country and shot Qaddafi dead.

In the immediate wake of the military victory, U.S. officials were triumphant. Writing in these pages in 2012, Ivo Daalder, then the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, and James Stavridis, then supreme allied commander of Europe, declared, “NATO’s operation in Libya has rightly been hailed as a model intervention.” In the Rose Garden after Qaddafi’s death, Obama himself crowed, “Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives.” Indeed, the United States seemed to have scored a hat trick: nurturing the Arab Spring, averting a Rwanda-like genocide, and eliminating Libya as a potential source of terrorism. ?

That verdict, however, turns out to have been premature. In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold. Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Qaddafi did during his last decade in power, Libya now serves as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the UN, and fueling Syria’s civil war.?

Despite what defenders of the mission claim, there was a better policy available—not intervening at all, because peaceful Libyan civilians were not actually being targeted. Had the United States and its allies followed that course, they could have spared Libya from the resulting chaos and given it a chance of progress under Qaddafi’s chosen successor: his relatively liberal, Western-educated son Saif al-Islam. Instead, Libya today is riddled with vicious militias and anti-American terrorists—and thus serves as a cautionary tale of how humanitarian intervention can backfire for both the intervener and those it is intended to help.?

Optimism about Libya reached its apogee in July 2012, when democratic elections brought to power a moderate, secular coalition government—a stark change from Qaddafi’s four decades of dictatorship. But the country quickly slid downhill. Its first elected prime minister, Mustafa Abu Shagour, lasted less than one month in office. His quick ouster foreshadowed the trouble to come: as of this writing, Libya has had seven prime ministers in less than four years.

Islamists came to dominate the first postwar parliament, the General National Congress. Meanwhile, the new government failed to disarm dozens of militias that had arisen during NATO’s seven-month intervention, especially Islamist ones, leading to deadly turf battles between rival tribes and commanders, which continue to this day. In October 2013, secessionists in eastern Libya, where most of the country’s oil is located, declared their own government. That same month, Ali Zeidan, then the country’s prime minister, was kidnapped and held hostage. In light of the growing Islamist influence within Libya’s government, in the spring of 2014, the United States postponed a plan to train an armed force of 6,000–8,000 Libyan troops.?

By May 2014, Libya had come to the brink of a new civil war—between liberals and Islamists. That month, a renegade secular general named Khalifa Hifter seized control of the air force to attack Islamist militias in Benghazi, later expanding his targets to include the Islamist-dominated legislature in Tripoli. Elections last June did nothing to resolve the chaos. Most Libyans had already given up on democracy, as voter turnout dropped from 1.7 million in the previous poll to just 630,000. Secular parties declared victory and formed a new legislature, the House of Representatives, but the Islamists refused to accept that outcome. The result was two competing parliaments, each claiming to be the legitimate one.?

In July, an Islamist militia from the city of Misurata responded to Hifter’s actions by attacking Tripoli, prompting Western embassies to evacuate. After a six-week battle, the Islamists captured the capital in August on behalf of the so-called Libya Dawn coalition, which, together with the defunct legislature, formed what they labeled a “national salvation government.” In October, the newly elected parliament, led by the secular Operation Dignity coalition, fled to the eastern city of Tobruk, where it established a competing interim government, which Libya’s Supreme Court later declared unconstitutional. Libya thus finds itself with two warring governments, each controlling only a fraction of the country’s territory and militias.?

As bad as Libya’s human rights situation was under Qaddafi, it has gotten worse since NATO ousted him. Immediately after taking power, the rebels perpetrated scores of reprisal killings, in addition to torturing, beating, and arbitrarily detaining thousands of suspected Qaddafi supporters. The rebels also expelled 30,000 mostly black residents from the town of Tawergha and burned or looted their homes and shops, on the grounds that some of them supposedly had been mercenaries. Six months after the war, Human Rights Watch declared that the abuses “appear to be so widespread and systematic that they may amount to crimes against humanity.”?

As a consequence of such pervasive violence, the UN estimates that roughly 400,000 Libyans have fled their homes, a quarter of whom have left the country altogether. ?

Libya’s quality of life has been sharply degraded by an economic free fall. That is mainly because the country’s production of oil, its lifeblood, remains severely depressed by the protracted conflict. Prior to the revolution, Libya produced 1.65 million barrels of oil a day, a figure that dropped to zero during NATO’s intervention. Although production temporarily recovered to 85 percent of its previous rate, ever since secessionists seized eastern oil ports in August 2013, output has averaged only 30 percent of the prewar level. Ongoing fighting has closed airports and seaports in Libya’s two biggest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi. In many cities, residents are subjected to massive power outages—up to 18 hours a day in Tripoli. The recent privation represents a stark descent for a country that the UN’s Human Development Index traditionally had ranked as having the highest standard of living in all of Africa.?

So intervention actually destroyed a country that was doing very well compared to the rest of Africa, and turned it into a violent, economic disaster zone/terrorist camp.

Although the White House justified its mission in Libya on humanitarian grounds, the intervention in fact greatly magnified the death toll there. To begin with, Qaddafi’s crackdown turns out to have been much less lethal than media reports indicated at the time. In eastern Libya, where the uprising began as a mix of peaceful and violent protests, Human Rights Watch documented only 233 deaths in the first days of the fighting, not 10,000, as had been reported by the Saudi news channel Al Arabiya. In fact, as I documented in a 2013 International Security article, from mid-February 2011, when the rebellion started, to mid-March 2011, when NATO intervened, only about 1,000 Libyans died, including soldiers and rebels. Although an Al Jazeera article touted by Western media in early 2011 alleged that Qaddafi’s air force had strafed and bombed civilians in Benghazi and Tripoli, “the story was untrue,” revealed an exhaustive examination in the London Review of Booksby Hugh Roberts of Tufts University. Indeed, striving to minimize civilian casualties, Qaddafi’s forces had refrained from indiscriminate violence.?

Saudis lying as usual to get a war going. No surprise there.

Moreover, by the time NATO intervened, Libya’s violence was on the verge of ending. Qaddafi’s well-armed forces had routed the ragtag rebels, who were retreating home. By mid-March 2011, government forces were poised to recapture the last rebel stronghold of Benghazi, thereby ending the one-month conflict at a total cost of just over 1,000 lives. Just then, however, Libyan expatriates in Switzerland affiliated with the rebels issued warnings of an impending “bloodbath” in Benghazi, which Western media duly reported but which in retrospect appear to have been propaganda. In reality, on March 17, Qaddafi pledged to protect the civilians of Benghazi, as he had those of other recaptured cities, adding that his forces had “left the way open” for the rebels to retreat to Egypt. Simply put, the militants were about to lose the war, and so their overseas agents raised the specter of genocide to attract a NATO intervention—which worked like a charm. There is no evidence or reason to believe that Qaddafi had planned or intended to perpetrate a killing campaign. ?

This grim math leads to a depressing but unavoidable conclusion. Before NATO’s intervention, Libya’s civil war was on the verge of ending, at the cost of barely 1,000 lives. Since then, however, Libya has suffered at least 10,000 additional deaths from conflict. In other words, NATO’s intervention appears to have increased the violent death toll more than tenfold.?

Since NATO’s intervention in 2011, however, Libya and its neighbor Mali have turned into terrorist havens. Radical Islamist groups, which Qaddafi had suppressed, emerged under NATO air cover as some of the most competent fighters of the rebellion. Supplied with weapons by sympathetic countries such as Qatar, the militias refused to disarm after Qaddafi fell. Their persistent threat was highlighted in September 2012 when jihadists, including from the group Ansar al-Sharia, attacked the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, killing Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three of his colleagues. Last year, the UN formally declared Ansar al-Sharia a terrorist organization because of its affiliation with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.?

NATO’s intervention also fostered Islamist terrorism elsewhere in the region. When Qaddafi fell, the ethnic Tuaregs of Mali within his security forces fled home with their weapons to launch their own rebellion. That uprising was quickly hijacked by local Islamist forces and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which declared an independent Islamic state in Mali’s northern half. By December 2012, this zone of Mali had become “the largest territory controlled by Islamic extremists in the world,” according to Senator Christopher Coons, chair of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Africa.

The harm from the intervention in Libya extends well beyond the immediate neighborhood. For one thing, by helping overthrow Qaddafi, the United States undercut its own nuclear nonproliferation objectives. In 2003, Qaddafi had voluntarily halted his nuclear and chemical weapons programs and surrendered his arsenals to the United States. His reward, eight years later, was a U.S.-led regime change that culminated in his violent death. That experience has greatly complicated the task of persuading other states to halt or reverse their nuclear programs. Shortly after the air campaign began, North Korea released a statement from an unnamed Foreign Ministry official saying that “the Libyan crisis is teaching the international community a grave lesson” and that North Korea would not fall for the same U.S. “tactic to disarm the country.” Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, likewise noted that Qaddafi had “wrapped up all his nuclear facilities, packed them on a ship, and delivered them to the West.” Another well-connected Iranian, Abbas Abdi, observed: “When Qaddafi was faced with an uprising, all Western leaders dropped him like a brick. Judging from that, our leaders assess that compromise is not helpful.”?

The intervention in Libya may also have fostered violence in Syria. In March 2011, Syria’s uprising was still largely nonviolent, and the Assad government’s response, although criminally disproportionate, was relatively circumscribed, claiming the lives of fewer than 100 Syrians per week. After NATO gave Libya’s rebels the upper hand, however, Syria’s revolutionaries turned to violence in the summer of 2011, perhaps expecting to attract a similar intervention. “It’s similar to Benghazi,” a Syrian rebel told The Washington Post at the time, adding, “We need a no-fly zone.” The result was a massive escalation of the Syrian conflict, leading to at least 1,500 deaths per week by early 2013, a 15-fold increase. ?

NATO’s mission in Libya also hindered peacemaking efforts in Syria by greatly antagonizing Russia. With Moscow’s acquiescence, the UN Security Council had approved the establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya and other measures to protect civilians. But NATO exceeded that mandate to pursue regime change. The coalition targeted Qaddafi’s forces for seven months—even as they retreated, posing no threat to civilians—and armed and trained rebels who rejected peace talks. As Russian President Vladimir Putin complained, NATO forces “frankly violated the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, when instead of imposing the so-called no-fly zone over it they started bombing it too.” His foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, explained that as a result, in Syria, Russia “would never allow the Security Council to authorize anything similar to what happened in Libya.”

Despite the massive turmoil caused by the intervention, some of its unrepentant supporters claim that the alternative—leaving Qaddafi in power—would have been even worse. But Qaddafi was not Libya’s future in any case. Sixty-nine years old and in ill health, he was laying the groundwork for a transition to his son Saif, who for many years had been preparing a reform agenda. “I will not accept any position unless there is a new constitution, new laws, and transparent elections,” Saif declared in 2010. “Everyone should have access to public office. We should not have a monopoly on power.” Saif also convinced his father that the regime should admit culpability for a notorious 1996 prison massacre and pay compensation to the families of hundreds of victims. In addition, in 2008, Saif published testimony from former prisoners alleging torture by revolutionary committees—the regime’s zealous but unofficial watchdogs—whom he demanded be disarmed.?

The “alternative would have been worse” is the shallow response told by status quo criminals the world over when it comes to defending their crimes. It’s the same response peddled by the architects of the “too big to fail” taxpayer bailout of financial oligarchs.

Even after the war began, respected observers voiced confidence in Saif. In a New York Times op-ed, Curt Weldon, a former ten-term Republican U.S. congressman from Pennsylvania, wrote that Saif “could play a constructive role as a member of the committee to devise a new government structure or Constitution.” Instead, NATO-supported militants captured and imprisoned Qaddafi’s son.

Obama also acknowledges regrets about Libya, but unfortunately, he has drawn the wrong lesson. “I think we underestimated . . . the need to come in full force,” the president told the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in August 2014. “If you’re gonna do this,” he elaborated, “there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies.”?

Humanitarian intervention should be reserved for the rare instances in which civilians are being targeted and military action can do more good than harm, such as Rwanda in 1994, where I have estimated that a timely operation could have saved over 100,000 lives. Of course, great powers sometimes may want to use force abroad for other reasons—to fight terrorism, avert nuclear proliferation, or overthrow a noxious dictator. But they should not pretend the resulting war is humanitarian, or be surprised when it gets a lot of innocent civilians killed.

Think about all of this very carefully and deeply. A conflict initiated based purely on lies and propaganda destroyed the lives of millions, destabilized several nations, created a terrorist breeding ground, crushed all incentives for nuclear disarmament, escalated the conflict in Syria, and damaged the U.S.-Russian relationship. Yet, despite all of this, the lesson Obama gleaned from the debacle was:

“I think we underestimated . . . the need to come in full force. If you’re gonna do this there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies.”?

Which is precisely why America will continue to gear up for war after war after war…

*  *  *

For related articles, see:

More Foreign Policy Incompetence – U.S. Humanitarian Aid is Going Directly to ISIS

Leon Panetta, Head of Pentagon and C.I.A. Under Obama, Says Brace for 30 Year War with ISIS

U.S. Propaganda Enters Into Insane, Irrational Overdrive in Attempt to “Sell” War in Syria

Obama’s ISIS War is Not Only Illegal, it Makes George W. Bush Look Like a Constitutional Scholar

The American Public: A Tough Soldier or a Chicken Hawk Cowering in a Cubicle? Some Thoughts on ISIS Intervention

America’s Disastrous Foreign Policy – My Thoughts on Iraq

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The ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Lyrics that get Swept Under the Rug

The US national anthem, the “Star-Spangled Banner”, has four verses, though only one is commonly sung or discussed.  The reason for this becomes apparent when the lyrics are read and the history behind them known.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave

Historian Robin Blackburn writes that these lyrics, from verse three of the four-verse anthem, were an expression of settler pride after having won a major turf war with the British at New Orleans.  Written by a slave owner, staunch anti-abolitionist activist, and co-founder of the “American Colonization Society” (as was the entire song), they offer a ghoulish warning to slaves who were fighting for the British in exchange for freedom, reminding unwilling laborers that escape, or “flight’, from settler-servitude would be terrifying, as they would be hunted (which they were), and that, since the anti-abolitionist settlers were gaining the upper hand, trying to achieve freedom would lead only to “the grave”.

Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

From verse four, these lyrics express a fundamentalist religious belief that the settlers’ god had preserved for them the land they were violently colonizing, and which had been fully utilized and occupied by people for many thousands of years.  Indeed, the top militant commander in the fight at New Orleans, Andrew Jackson, himself waged numerous genocidal assaults on the inhabitants of the land, sometimes skinning them and using their skins to fashion clothing and other objets d’art, a la the serial killer antagonist in Silence of the Lambs.  He rode the glory brought to him by these deeds to the highest position in the settler social hierarchy.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”

Among the causes justifying conquest, or empire-building, are the desire to preserve slavery, fictional commands from the settlers’ deity, and freedom to carry out these missions without British interference, similar to how Israeli settlers of today are held back by their government from committing the full level of genocidal conquest they would like, though the government, too, working with the US, constantly expands the illegal settlements and commits terrorist (UN evaluation, pg. 408, par. 1) massacres against the indigenous peoples under its boot-heel.

In 1783, George Washington, a militant and slaver (some of whose slaves fled to freedom with the British) who, like Jackson, also rode to glory and the highest position in the settler social hierarchy on massacres of indigenous people and rape of indigenous women, proclaimed that his was a “rising empire”, later adding that his “infant empire” would eventually gain some real “weight in the scale of Empires.”

Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and also writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog.  Follow the author and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

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The Entire Case for Sanctions Against Russia Is Pure Lies

Eric Zuesse

U.S. President Barack Obama has stated many times his case against Russia — the reason for the economic sanctions. In his National Security Strategy 2015, he uses the term “aggression” 18 times, and 17 of them are referring specifically to only one country as “aggressive”: Russia. However, not once does he say there what the “aggression” consisted of: what its target was, or what it itself was. He’s vague there on everything except his own target: Russia.

For those things (what Russia’s “aggression” consists of), Obama’s only statement that has been even as lengthy as moderately brief — since he has never presented it at any more length — was his interview with Fareed Zacaria of CNN on 1 February 2015, which happened to be a statement given only three days short of the first anniversary of his agent’s, Victoria Nuland’s, having selected, on 4 February 2014, whom the next leader of Ukraine would be, Arseniy Yatsenyuk (she called him “Yats”) after the democratically elected and sitting Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, would become overthrown, which happened 18 days later, on 22 February 2014. (It was nothing like Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution”. This wasn’t democratic; it was a coup.)

Obama said there, in this CNN interview, that the reason for the sanctions against Russia was that, 

“since Mr. Putin made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine  not because of some grand strategy, but essentially because he was caught off-balance by the protests in the Maidan and Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine  since that time, this improvisation that he’s been doing has getting  has gotten him deeper and deeper into a situation that is a violation of international law, that violates the integrity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, has isolated Russia diplomatically, has made Europe wary of doing business with Russia, has allowed the imposition of sanctions that are crippling Russia’s economy at a time when their oil revenues are dropping. There’s no formula in which this ends up being good for Russia. The annexation of Crimea is a cost, not a benefit, to Russia. The days in which conquest of land somehow was a formula for great nation status is over.”

That’s all; he didn’t mention the subsequent shooting-down of the Malaysian airliner over the conflict-zone in Ukraine on 17 July 2014, which was the incident that he used, after the first set of sanctions, in order to get the European Union to increase the sanctions against Russia (and that incident will be discussed at the end of this article because he simply didn’t mention it in this, his lengthiest statement on the cause of the sanctions). His entire reason there — and no reason at all was given in his National Security Strategy 2015 for calling Russia “aggressive” — was “the annexation of Crimea.”

What, then, are the facts on that matter, of Crimea?

First, we must make note of the fact that this annexation occurred on 16 March 2014, when Crimeans went to the polls and voted in a referendum on whether to remain ruled by the Ukrainian national Government in Kiev, as they had been ruled only since 1954, or instead by the Russian national Government in Moscow, as they had been ruled from 1783 to 1954; and we must also keep in mind that this referendum had occurred as a direct result of Obama’s coup against the man, Viktor Yanukovych, for whom Crimeans had voted at around 75% throughout Crimea. In the United States, that type of election, one in which the leading candidate had received 75% of the vote, would be called a “landslide.” 

How would Americans feel if they had voted 75% for a President in 2010, for a six-year term, only to find him overthrown in an extremely violent coup four years later by a foreign power that they despised and feared as an aggressor, as Crimeans overwhelmingly, and by far more than 75%, felt about the United States? Specifically, if you’ll look there (at that link) at those polls by Gallup (and you can get to each one of them there by just two clicks, so it’s quick), what you’ll find is that even before Obama’s February 2014 coup which overthrew the Ukrainian President whom nearly 80% of Crimeans had voted for, the Crimean people overwhelmingly wanted to secede from Ukraine — and, especially now they did, right after the President for whom they had overwhelmingly voted, Viktor Yanukovych, had been overthrown in this extremely bloody coup. Furthermore, in April 2014, Gallup again polled Crimea, and they found that 71.3% of Crimeans viewed as “Mostly positive” the role of Russia there, and 4.0% viewed it as “Mostly negative”; by contrast, only 2.8% of Crimeans viewed the role of the United States there as “Mostly positive,” and a whopping 76.2% viewed it as “Mostly negative.” During the intervening year (i.e., both before and after Obama’s coup and the resulting secession-referendum), Crimeans’ favorability toward America had plunged down to 2.8%, from its year-earlier 6%. Clearly, what Obama had done in Ukraine (his violent coup in Kiev) had antagonized the Crimeans. And, as if that weren’t enough, the 2014 poll provided yet more evidence: “The 500 people that were sampled in Crimea were asked [and this is crucial] ‘Please tell me if you agree or disagree: The results of the referendum on Crimea’s status [whether to rejoin Russia] reflect the views of most people here.’ 82.8% said ‘Agree.’ 6.7% said ‘Disagree.’”

But there turned out to be even more evidence that the referendum-results in Crimea had been accurate: Even after just one click (not even two) from there, you’ll see the following information, also with a link to its source:

Because both of those two Gallup polls had been paid-for by the U.S. Government, Canada’s Government wanted its own read on the Crimean situation; and, so, they hired a different polling organization to do their own poll. However, the Canadian Government got no better news than the U.S. Government had gotten: 82% of Crimeans “Fully endorse” Crimea’s having become part of Russia; 11% “Mostly endorse” it; 2% “Mostly disapprove”; 3% “Don’t know”; and only 2% “Fully disapprove.” Or, to put it simply: 93% approve; 3% don’t know, and 4% disapprove. The results of the referendum had been 96% to rejoin Russia. 4% voted against. That’s like the 4% who disapproved of the return to Russia, in the Canadian-sponsored poll.

  

In a situation like that, what can one say of President Obama’s statement against Russia: “The days in which conquest of land somehow was a formula for great nation status is over.”

Which country had engaged in conquest here? Did Russia conquer Crimea, as Obama constantly alleges? Or did the United States conquer Ukraine? Is Putin the aggressor? Or is Obama?

Obama knows the answer to that question. He isn’t an ignorant man. He had hired Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to head the State Department, and they had hired Dick Cheney’s chief foreign-policy advisor Victoria Nuland to run the operation to take over Ukraine. (And they kicked off the coup a day earlier than the Maidan demonstrations even started, but the operation had been long planned regardless.) Obama knew that both Clinton and Kerry had voted for the invasion of Iraq and that both have also been lifelong supporters of the CIA’s Gladio operation that hired Hitler’s and Mussolini’s intelligence operatives in order exploit not only anti-communist sentiment but anti-Russian sentiment in Eastern Europe (and here’s the much lengthier BBC documentary on that), so as for the U.S. to take control of Eastern European countries and strip Russia of its western allies and take Russia over, as well, for an unchallenged American Empire, which Obama constantly refers to as “the one indispensable nation,” meaning that all other nations are “dispensable.” Obama has a consistent record as being supportive of the Gladio operation, and of the CIA’s other specifically anti-Russian operations, though his statement to Fareed Zakaria on CNN pretended that Obama had been friendly toward Russia when Dmitry Medvedev was Russia’s President, throughout Obama’s first term. (He can pretend that, because it helps deceive people to think that Putin must be overthrown, that Putin is ‘the problem.’)

All during Obama’s first term, he was continuing the preparations at the CIA, State Department, etc., to conquer Russia by surrounding it with recently recruited hostile NATO member states, thus far: Croatia and Albania in 2009 under Obama; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia in 2004 under Bush; Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in 1999 under Clinton — that’s a total of 12 formerly Russia-friendly nations which have switched to become members of the anti-Russia military club: NATO.

Obama is having trouble bringing Ukraine into that club, because Putin has set a red line at Ukraine, both because of its size and because of its having, ever since 1783, Russia’s key naval base, in Crimea. President Obama knew that he would be crossing this red line by seizing Ukraine as he did in February 2014, but he did it anyway; and Putin responded by using Russia’s existing military in Crimea to protect Crimeans so that they could have a peaceful and honest referendum, which Putin knew, just as well as Obama did, would overwhelmingly favor rejoining Russia.

Yet now, Obama has the nerve to say that it’s Putin instead of Obama who has been the aggressor here and who should be subject to “regime change.” (Of course, if Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush becomes the U.S. President, then there will be continuity of the existing U.S. imperial regime, which actually started in earnest in 1980, long before Putin came to power.)

Regarding the shoot-down of the MH17 Malaysian airliner (the pretext for Obama’s getting the EU to support increased anti-Russian sanctions): the U.S.-Ukrainian account of the downing is that pro-Russian rebels shot it down by mistake, with a missile. For this, Obama blamed Russia, and his agents who run European governments and the EU went along with that and hiked their economic sanctions against Russia; but, nobody in power believed it, because the postulated scenario is absurd to anyone who knows anything. However, even if that scenario had been true, yet still, Obama definitely caused the Malaysian airliner to be downed. Furthermore, the reason why the official ‘investigation’ into the downing is not being made public is that Obama’s own Ukrainian Government was given veto-power over everything that will be in it, and they won’t allow the additional evidence, above and beyond the already dispositive evidence that has been revealed but not publicized, to be included in it; so, the report is not issued. The Ukrainian Government weren’t able to prevent the decisive proof that their own Air Force plane had intentionally shot it down from leaking out; but the Western press have cooperated with Obama to suppress that information. More information keeps leaking out supporting that earlier proof; but, actually, additional proof isn’t even needed. Publication of the existing damning evidence is. However, no one will be able to suppress the ‘findings’ by the official ‘investigation.’ So: it doesn’t yet exist, and maybe it never will.

In other words: President Obama planned and executed an operation to take over Ukraine for the United States; and for then using that country as a springboard to ‘justify’ sanctions against Russia, including sanctions that have been added, on the basis of Obama’s operation shooting down the Malaysian airliner in order to be able to stir up yet more hatred against Russia. And here is how the ‘news’ media in the West have reported on all that.

If it seems like George Orwell’s 1984, that’s because it is.

However, it’s heading toward a far worse ending. And this isn’t fiction.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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China and the Dragon Tail of Marx

The dragon tail of Marx’s end-game of overcapacity and finance capital is about to shred China’s fantasy that the state can micro-manage both capitalism and financialization with no contradictions or consequences.

Longtime readers know my one expertise is annoying the entire ideological spectrum in 1,000 words or less. Today is one of those days, so strap on your blood pressure monitor and prepare for full-spectrum annoyance, regardless of your ideological leanings.

Marxism is typically considered discredited outside of a few protected fiefdoms of academia which tend to engage in obscure debates over the labor theory of value and other signifiers of membership in the inner circle of deep Marxist thinkers.

Outside these cloistered academic circles, Marxism is dismissed for two basic reasons:

1. the predicted final crisis and implosion of capitalism did not occur

2. the vaguely outlined post-capitalist incarnation of a stateless worker’s paradise not only failed to materialize, but was used to justify destructive, murderous totalitarian regimes.

But those egregious failures of Marxist theory should not blind us to the value of his critique of capitalism. After all, he was writing in the first stages of industrialization and global finance (late 19th century), and his failure to detail a scientific socialism beyond capitalism can be chalked up to a mix of naive idealism and a paucity of theoretical models to build on.

Ironically, the one successful state that claims to be founded on Marxist principles, China, is poised to prove his analysis of capitalism’s implosion was fundamentally sound. Consider two major parts of Marx’s analysis of capitalism:

1. the consequences of overcapacity and competition

2. the dominance of finance capital over industrial capital

Marx foresaw that the consequence of overcapacity and competition is the collapse of profits which leads to the collapse of wages and most competitors. If there is any single word that defines China now, it’s overcapacity.

This is not a new dynamic; when I first visited China in 2000, the TV set industry was already suffering from overcapacity/overproduction and a resultant collapse of profits.

What can any enterprise do when competition and overcapacity slash profit margins to near-zero? Slash payrolls and wages. Profit margins are famously razor-thin in most Chinese industries, and despite wages that are a fraction of U.S./E.U. wages, automation of production lines is the only solution to Chinese companies beset by fierce competition and overcapacity in their sector.

Automation only provides a brief competitive advantage, as one’s competitors are busy lowering their input costs by automating production.

Marx understood that the end-game of overcapacity is a reduction of capacity via bankruptcy and the establishment of competition-killing monopolies. This is the stage of collapse that lies just ahead for the majority of Chinese industrial players.

The equally devastating parallel implosion of factory jobs will crush demand. The social safety net in China is threadbare compared to the West; laid off workers get little compensation or retraining; most face a return to rural villages and subsistence incomes from farm work that have dwindled to a few hundred dollars a year as a result of state policies that have made food cheaper for poor urban workers.

If there is any major economy that demonstrates the dominance of finance capital over industrial capital, it’s China. The entire boom since the global financial meltdown in 2008 has been financed by cheap credit, leverage and speculative lending in an opaque shadow banking sector.

Compare China’s bank assets with those of the U.S., which has an economy of roughly the same size:

It doesn’t matter whether the banks are owned by the state or not; the net result is the same: massive malinvestment as productive investment is abandoned in favor of speculation.

If any nation is poised to reap the consequences of rampant financialization, it’s China.In the global downturn that’s just starting, China won’t be able to boost capacity as a solution–the economy is already being crushed by overcapacity in virtually every sector.

It also can’t turn to the financialization save of unlimited expansion of credit and dodgy leverage–financialization has already been pushed to the redline. there is nothing left except diminishing returns on additional expansions of credit and leverage.

Marx is about to demolish the fantasy in China that financialization can be controlled by the state. Losses can be covered over and the next expansion of credit is just around the corner. Nice, but credit doesn’t create jobs lost to overproduction, nor does it generate profits, nor does it generate collateral for the next round of shadow banking speculation.

What Marx did not foresee is the critical role of the state in enforcing private monopolies and the predations of financialization. While Marx understood the parasitic nature of Monopoly Capitalism, he did not anticipate the State’s partnering with Cartel/Crony Capitalism. In effect, the Chinese State is now so dependent on financialization that it stripmines the citizenry to protect the financial sector from the consequences of their business model (excessive credit, leverage, fraud, embezzlement and the misrepresentation of risk). But the Chinese State doesn’t merely enable the predation of its crony financiers; it also stripmines the citizenry to fund its own expansion into every nook and cranny of civil society.

The dragon tail of Marx’s end-game of overcapacity and finance capital is about to shred China’s fantasy that the state can micro-manage both capitalism and financialization with no contradictions or consequences. “Dragon Seeks path. Dragon whips his tail.” The dragon of capitalism isn’t as easy to control as bureaucrats expect.

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Skipping The Speech for All the Wrong Reasons

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to hear that Congress members will skip Netanyahu’s speech no matter what reason they offer. Here are some of them:

It’s too close to Netanyahu’s election. (That doesn’t persuade me. If we had fair, open, publicly funded, un-gerrymandered, verifiably counted elections, then “politics” wouldn’t be a dirty word and we would want politicians to show themselves doing things to try to please us before, during, and after elections. I want them acting that way now, even with our broken system. I don’t want the U.S. interfering in Israeli elections, but allowing a speech is hardly the same as backing coups in Ukraine and Venezuela or giving Israel billions of dollars worth of weapons every year.)

The Speaker didn’t ask the President. (This is likely the big reason that Democrats are promising to skip the speech. I’m actually amazed more of them haven’t made that promise. Netanyahu seemed to me to miss the extent to which the United States has become a term-limited monarchy. Congress typically wants to pass the buck on wars to the President. The President typically controls one of the two parties quite tightly. But do I actually care that Congress didn’t consult the President? Hell no! Imagine if, during the run-up to the 2003 attack on Iraq, Congress had offered a joint-session microphone to El Baradei or Sarkozy or Putin or, indeed, Hussein to denounce all the bogus claims about WMDs in Iraq? Would you have been outraged by the impoliteness toward President Bush or delighted that a million people might not get killed for no damn reason?)

These kinds of reasons do have a practical weakness: they lead to calls for postponing the speech, rather than canceling it. Some other reasons have more serious flaws.

The speech damages bipartisan U.S. support for Israel. (Really? A slim minority of the President’s party skips the speech for a laundry list of lame excuses and suddenly the United States is going to stop providing all the free weapons and vetoing every attempt at legal accountability for the crimes of the Israeli government? And that would be a bad thing if it actually happened?)

The speech hurts the critical effort of negotiations to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. (This is the worst of the bad reasons. It pushes the false idea that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon and threatening to use it. It plays right into Netanyahu’s fantasies of poor helpless nuclear Israel the victim of Iranian aggression. In reality, Iran has not attacked another nation in modern history. If only Israel or the United States could say as much!)

As I said, I’m glad anyone’s skipping the speech for any reason. But I find it deeply disturbing that an enormously important and deeply moral reason to skip the speech is obvious and known to every member of Congress, and while most are acting against it, those acting in accordance with it refuse to articulate it. The reason is this: Netanyahu is coming to spread war propaganda. He told Congress lies about Iraq in 2002 and pushed for a U.S. war. He has been lying, according to leaks this week of his own spies’ information and according to the understanding of the U.S. “intelligence” services, about Iran. It is illegal to spread war propaganda under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. Congress is struggling to keep up with the wars President Obama is continuing, launching, and risking. Here’s one war Obama seems not to want, and Congress is bringing in a foreign leader with a record of war lies to give them their marching orders. Meanwhile, an agency of that same foreign government, AIPAC, is holding its big lobby meeting in Washington.

Now, it is true that nuclear energy facilities create dangerous targets. Those drones flying around French nuclear plants scare the hell out of me. And it is true that nuclear energy places its possessor a short step away from nuclear weaponry. Which is why the U.S. should stop spreading nuclear energy to countries that have no need of it, and why the U.S. should never have given nuclear bomb plans to Iran or sentenced Jeffrey Sterling to prison for allegedly revealing that act. But you can’t accomplish good by using horrific mass murder to avoid horrific mass murder — and that’s what Israeli-U.S. aggression toward Iran means. Stirring up a new cold war with Russia in Syria and Ukraine is dangerous enough without throwing Iran into the mix. But even a war that confined itself to Iran would be horrifying.

Imagine if we had one Congress member who would say, “I’m skipping the speech because I’m opposed to killing Iranians.” I know we have lots of constituents who like to think that their progressive Congress member secretly thinks that. But I’ll believe it when I hear it said.

<--break->

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Actually Qualified Nobel Peace Prize Nominees

Source: http://www.nobelwill.org/index.html?tab=7

The Norwegian Nobel Committee ignores the testament of Nobel. They claim that the “champions of peace” Nobel described in his will no longer exist. To end this charade we have seen no alternative to lifting the curtain of secrecy they hide their waywardness behind.

The Nobel Committee has pursued its own ideas and failed to see how the expressions Nobel used and the promise he gave to Bertha von Suttner to “do something big for the movement” (italics added) leave no room for doubt what “champions of peace” Nobel intended to support. Expressed in modern language:

When Nobel wished to support the “champions of peace,” he meant the movement and the persons who work for a demilitarized world, for law to replace power in international politics, and for all nations to commit to cooperating on the elimination of all weapons instead of competing for military superiority.

This is the content of the prize and as the legally binding scope of all selections it was presented to the Nobel Committee 7 years ago. The committee has never contested this description of the purpose of Nobel, just used their power to ignore it. We think the peace idea of Nobel is of imperative urgency in the world today, and that everyone should know these ideas and be able to see and discuss them. That is why we have decided to publish the following list of qualified candidates.

Below is the list of those we know who are nominated AND qualified, under a wide understanding of the purpose of Nobel, either
1) by direct work for the global disarmament plan Nobel had in mind, or
2) by peace work with high utility and relevance to realizing the Nobel “uniting of disarmed nations,” particularly the work to abolish nuclear weapons, and to promote non-violence, conflict resolution and prevention, develop international law and institutions, etc.
3) by contributing new ideas and research, develop new methods for civilized, non-violent interrelation between peoples that enables a demilitarization of international relations.

The list is not final. We welcome information of nominations we are not aware of or of candidates that we – based on the Nobel purpose – should have included in our list. If you miss certain “champions of peace” in the list this year, please take steps to have them included among the nominations for 2016 – deadline: Feb 1, 2016. The Nobel Peace Prize is happy to give advice and guidance in the hope of realizing Nobel’s true purpose and idea. Contact us

LIST – VALID CANDIDATES FOR THE TRUE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2015

Abolition 2000, Global network organization

Article 9, Japan

Bolkovac, Kathryn, USA

Bryn, Steinar, Norway

Ellsberg, Daniel, USA

Falk, Richard, USA

International Assosiation of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, IALANA, (NY, Geneva, Colombo)

Juristen und Juristinnen gegen atomare, biologische und chemische Waffen , Germany

Krieger, David , USA

Lindner, Evelin, main basis Norway

Mayor, Federico, Spain

Nansen Dialogue Network

Nihon Hidankyo, Japan

Oberg, Jan, Sweden

Snowden, Edward, USA

Swanson, David, USA

Mr. Taniguchi, Sumiteru, Japan

Ms. Thurlow, Setsuko, Canada

UNESCO culture of peace program (Paris)

Ware, Alyn, New Zealand

Weiss, Peter, USA

Women’s international League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF (Geneva)

Waiting list – Insufficient information

The following appear to be nominated, but we have not been able to get
the actual nomination. The list of valid candidates will be supplemented
as soon as we get additional valid nominations.

The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear arms, ICAN

Manning, Chelsea, USA

Sharp, Gene, USA

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Pop Quiz: How Many Constitutional Rights Have We Lost?

http://www.theispot.com/images/source/FredaLibertyUpended1.jpgPainting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com

How Many Constitutional Freedoms Have We Lost?

This post explains the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution – and provides a scorecard on the extent of the loss of each right.

First Amendment

The 1st Amendment protects speech, religion, assembly and the press:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Supreme Court has also interpreted the First Amendment as protecting freedom of association.

However, the government is arresting those speaking out … and violently crushing peaceful assemblies which attempt to petition the government for redress.

A federal judge found that the law allowing indefinite detention of Americans without due process has a “chilling effect” on free speech. And see this and this.

There are also enacted laws allowing the secret service to arrest anyone protesting near the president or other designated folks (that might explain incidents like this).

Mass spying by the NSA violates our freedom of association.

The threat of being labeled a terrorist for exercising our First Amendment rights certainly violates the First Amendment. The government is using laws to crush dissent, and it’s gotten so bad that even U.S. Supreme Court justices are saying that we are descending into tyranny.  (And the U.S. is doing the same things that tyrannical governments have done for 5,000 years to crush dissent.)

For example, the following actions may get an American citizen living on U.S. soil labeled as a “suspected terrorist” today:

And holding the following beliefs may also be considered grounds for suspected terrorism:

And see this. (Of course, Muslims are more or less subject to a separate system of justice in America.)

And 1st Amendment rights are especially chilled when power has become so concentrated that the same agency which spies on all Americans also decides who should be assassinated.

Second Amendment

The 2nd Amendment states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Gun control and gun rights advocates obviously have very different views about whether guns are a force for violence or for good.

But even a top liberal Constitutional law expert reluctantly admits that the right to own a gun is as important a Constitutional right as freedom of speech or religion:

Like many academics, I was happy to blissfully ignore the Second Amendment. It did not fit neatly into my socially liberal agenda.

***

It is hard to read the Second Amendment and not honestly conclude that the Framers intended gun ownership to be an individual right. It is true that the amendment begins with a reference to militias: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Accordingly, it is argued, this amendment protects the right of the militia to bear arms, not the individual.

Yet, if true, the Second Amendment would be effectively declared a defunct provision. The National Guard is not a true militia in the sense of the Second Amendment and, since the District and others believe governments can ban guns entirely, the Second Amendment would be read out of existence.

***

More important, the mere reference to a purpose of the Second Amendment does not alter the fact that an individual right is created. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is stated in the same way as the right to free speech or free press. The statement of a purpose was intended to reaffirm the power of the states and the people against the central government. At the time, many feared the federal government and its national army. Gun ownership was viewed as a deterrent against abuse by the government, which would be less likely to mess with a well-armed populace.

Considering the Framers and their own traditions of hunting and self-defense, it is clear that they would have viewed such ownership as an individual right — consistent with the plain meaning of the amendment.

None of this is easy for someone raised to believe that the Second Amendment was the dividing line between the enlightenment and the dark ages of American culture. Yet, it is time to honestly reconsider this amendment and admit that … here’s the really hard part … the NRA may have been right. This does not mean that Charlton Heston is the new Rosa Parks or that no restrictions can be placed on gun ownership. But it does appear that gun ownership was made a protected right by the Framers and, while we might not celebrate it, it is time that we recognize it.

The gun control debate – including which weapons and magazines are banned – is still in flux …

Third Amendment

The 3rd Amendment prohibits the government forcing people to house soldiers:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

A recent lawsuit by a Nevada family – covered by (Mother Jones, Fox News and Courthouse News – alleges violation of the Third Amendment.

Moreover, the military is arguably quartering “digital” troops within our homes.

 In America, Journalists Are Considered Terrorists
Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

Fourth Amendment

The 4th Amendment prevents unlawful search and seizure:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

But the government is spying on everything we dowithout any real benefit or justification.

Indeed, experts say that the type of spying being carried out by the NSA and other agencies is exactly the kind of thing which King George imposed on the American colonists … which led to the Revolutionary War.

And many Constitutional experts – such as Jonathan Turley – think that the police went too far in Boston with lockdowns and involuntary door-to-door searches.


Paintings by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

Fifth Amendment

The 5th Amendment addresses due process of law, eminent domain, double jeopardy and grand jury:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

But the American government has shredded the 5th Amendment by subjecting us to indefinite detention and taking away our due process rights.

The government claims the right to assassinate or indefinitely detain any American citizen on U.S. citizen without any due process. And see this.

For example, American citizens are being detained in Guantanamo-like conditions in Chicago … including:

  • Brutality
  • Being held in secret
  • Not even telling a suspect’s lawyer whether his client is being held?

And see this, this and this.

As such, the government is certainly depriving people of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

There are additional corruptions of 5th Amendment rights – such as property being taken for private purposes. And the right to remain silent is gone.

The percentage of prosecutions in which a defendant is denied a grand jury is difficult to gauge, as there is so much secrecy surrounding many terrorism trials.

HUNG LIBERTY (NYSE)Image by William Banzai

Sixth Amendment

The 6th Amendment guarantees the right to hear the criminal charges levied against us and to be able to confront the witnesses who have testified against us, as well as speedy criminal trials, and a public defender for those who cannot hire an attorney:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Subjecting people to indefinite detention or assassination obviously violates the 6th Amendment right to a jury trial. In both cases, the defendants is “disposed of” without ever receiving a trial … and often without ever hearing the charges against them.

More and more commonly, the government prosecutes cases based upon “secret evidence” that they don’t show to the defendant … or sometimes even the judge hearing the case.

The government uses “secret evidence” to spy on Americans, prosecute leaking or terrorism charges (even against U.S. soldiers) and even assassinate people. And see this and this.

Secret witnesses are being used in some cases. And sometimes lawyers are not even allowed to read their own briefs.

Indeed, even the laws themselves are now starting to be kept secret. And it’s about to get a lot worse.

Moreover, government is “laundering” information gained through mass surveillance through other agencies, with an agreement that the agencies will “recreate” the evidence in a “parallel construction” … so they don’t have to admit that the evidence came from unconstitutional spying.   A former top NSA official says that this is the opposite of following the Fourth Amendment, but is a “totalitarian process” which shows that we’re in a “police state”.

And there are two systems of justice in America … one for the big banks and other fatcats, and one for everyone else. The government made it official policy not to prosecute fraud, even though fraud is the main business model adopted by Wall Street. Indeed, the biggest financial crime in world history, the largest insider trading scandal of all time, illegal raiding of customer accounts and blatant financing of drug cartels and terrorists have all been committed recently without any real criminal prosecution or jail time.

On the other hand, government prosecutors are using the legal system to crush dissent and to silence whistleblowers.

And some of the nation’s most powerful judges have lost their independence … and are in bed with the powers-that-be.

Seventh Amendment

The 7th Amendment guarantees trial by jury in federal court for civil cases:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

But there are two systems of justice in Americaone for the big banks and other fatcats, and one for everyone else.  So good luck going after the powers-that-be.

And the World Justice Project – a bipartisan, independent group with honorary chairs including numerous current and former Supreme Court Justices – released a report saying that Americans have less access to justice than most wealthy countries …  and many developing nations.  The report finds that Americans have less access to justice than Botswanans,  and that only the wealthy have the resources to protect rights using the court system:

For example, Germans sue equally whether they are rich or poor  … but in America, only the wealthy have the resources to protect rights using the court system:

And the austerity caused by the highest levels of inequality in world history – which are in turn is caused by socialist actions by our government, which have destroyed the Founding Fathers’ vision of prosperity – is causing severe budget cuts to the courts, resulting in the wheels of justice slowing down considerably.

Finally, federal judges have recently decided that they can pre-judge cases before the plaintiff even has the chance to conduct discovery … and throw cases out if they don’t like plaintiff’s case.

Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com

Eighth Amendment

The 8th Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Indefinite detention and assassination are obviously cruel and unusual punishment.

The widespread system of torture carried out in the last 10 years – with the help of other countriesviolates the 8th Amendment. Many want to bring it back … or at least justify its past use.

While Justice Scalia disingenuously argues that torture does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment because it is meant to produce information – not punish – he’s wrong. It’s not only cruel and unusual … it is technically a form of terrorism.

And government whistleblowers are being cruelly and unusually punished with unduly harsh sentences meant to intimidate anyone else from speaking out.

Ninth Amendment

The 9th Amendment provides that people have other rights, even if they aren’t specifically listed in the Constitution:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

We can debate what our inherent rights as human beings are. I believe they include the right to a level playing field, and access to non-toxic food and water. You may disagree.

But everyone agrees that the government should not actively encourage fraud and manipulation. However, the government – through its malignant, symbiotic relation with big corporations – is interfering with our aspirations for economic freedom, safe food and water (instead of arsenic-laden, genetically engineered junk), freedom from undue health hazards such as irradiation due to government support of archaic nuclear power designs, and a level playing field (as opposed to our crony capitalist system in which the little guy has no shot due to redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the super-elite, and government support of white collar criminals).

By working hand-in-glove with giant corporations to defraud us into paying for a lower quality of life, the government is trampling our basic rights as human beings.

Tenth Amendment

The 10th Amendment provides that powers not specifically given to the Federal government are reserved to the states or individual:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Two of the central principles of America’s Founding Fathers are:

(1) The government is created and empowered with the consent of the people

and

(2) Separation of powers

Today, most Americans believe that the government is threatening – rather than protecting – freedom. We’ve become more afraid of our government than of terrorists, and believe that the government is no longer acting with the “consent of the governed“.

And the federal government is trampling the separation of powers by stepping on the toes of the states and the people. For example, former head S&L prosecutor Bill Black – now a professor of law and economics – notes:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the resident examiners and regional staff of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [both] competed to weaken federal regulation and aggressively used the preemption doctrine to try to prevent state investigations of and actions against fraudulent mortgage lenders.

Indeed, the federal government is doing everything it can to stick its nose into every aspect of our lives … and act like Big Brother.

Conclusion: While a few of the liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights still exist, the vast majority are under heavy assault.

Other Constitutional Provisions … and The Declaration of Independence

In addition to the trampling of the Bill of Rights, the government has also trashed the separation of powers enshrined in the main body of the Constitution.

The government is also engaging in activities which the Founding Fathers fought against, such as taxation without representation (here and here), cronyism, deference to central banks, etc.

As the preamble to the Declaration of Independence shows, the American government is still carrying out many of the acts the Founding Fathers found most offensive:

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. [Background here and here]

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. [Background here, here, here, here and here]

***

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: [Background]

***

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences [Background]

***

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. [Background]

***

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. [Background here, here and here]

Posted in Politics / World News | 14 Comments

Ukraine Prepares for an Attack Against Russia

Eric Zuesse

The post-coup leaders of Ukraine have routinely said that Ukraine should destroy Russia; and, now, starting on February 24th, they are placing into position the key prerequisite for doing so, which is the advanced Anti-Ballistic-Missile, or ABM, system, S-300, which is described as follows by wikipedia

“The S-300 is regarded as one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems currently fielded.[3] Its radars have the ability to simultaneously track up to 100 targets while engaging up to 12/24/36 targets. The S-300 deployment time is five minutes.[3] The S-300 missiles are sealed rounds and require no maintenance over their lifetime. An evolved version of the S-300 system is the S-400 (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler), which entered limited service in 2004.”

The S-300 (otherwise called “SAM C-300”) is designed to protect against retaliation. The entire purpose of ABMs is to disable retaliation. In that sense, ABMs are the most aggressive weapons of all. They are specifically designed to prevent retaliation from a nation that has been attacked and that is responding by sending in its own bombers to retaliate.

Here is one report, February 24th, of installation of these ABMs, from the region near Odessa, including a photo of these weapons on a truck:

http://trassae95.com/all/news/2015/02/24/ot-chetyreh-do-shesti-kompleksov-raket-s-300-proehali-po-odesse-foto-20927.html

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 6.26.51 PM

Here is another such report, with videos of the missile-systems being put into place, during the 24th and 25th of February:

http://fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/02/ukrainian-army-deploys-s-300s-in-odessa.html

The likeliest explanation of this would be that the new (ever since the February 2014 coup) anti-Russian Ukrainian Government intends to bring NATO in to invade Russia and to do this by provoking a limited attack from Russia that will then be repelled by these S-300s. After surviving Russia’s response, NATO would then claim Ukraine must be defended from Russia’s aggression; and, then, NATO would take over the task of eliminating Russia — which the present leaders of Ukraine (and their followers) have been very clear that they want to happen.

Other reasons for Ukraine’s positioning these ABMs ready for launch wouldn’t make sense, because the missiles won’t be usable except to block retaliation.

These missiles are purely ‘defensive’ weapons; but the Ukrainian Government isn’t waiting for U.S. President Obama to approve supplying other ‘defensive’ weapons to Ukraine; they’re moving forward with what they’ve already got.

It should also be noted, however, that Russia had set up S-300s in Crimea immediately prior to the 16 March 2014 referendum in Crimea on whether Crimea should return to Russia (of which Crimea had been a part during 1783-1954), or whether it should instead be ruled by the newly installed Ukrainian Government in Kiev. Russia said that this was being done then in order to deter the Ukrainian Air Force from bombing Crimea during the referendum — a referendum that Ukraine was trying to prevent and was threatening to block. Ukraine today might similarly be able to say that their new ABM installations are being done in order to prevent an imminent Russian air invasion into Ukraine.

Whether any ABM-installation can be said to be authentically defensive is thus a judgment that only each individual will make, based on that person’s estimation of the realistic likelihood that the country setting it up is authentically under threat of invasion at that particular moment in time. ABMs are against retaliatory weapons, but when is a threat real, against which are needed ABMs so as to justify the installation of such anti-weapons? If the threat of weapons from the other side is not real, then the threat of the anti-weapons against them is very real: it is then clearly preparation for launching an aggressive attack.

Consequently, whether a ‘defensive weapon’ is actually the most aggressive type of weapon — the preliminary to launching an attack — depends upon whether it is the preliminary to launching an attack, and only each individual observer can judge that question. Ukraine says that the referendum in Crimea was itself an attack against Ukraine. However, Ukraine did not set up ABMs at that time. They now are. Do they really believe that Russia is about to invade Ukraine? They have been saying, since the coup, that Russia is invading. The U.S. Government and its allies have seconded those allegations. But not until now is Ukraine actually preparing for such an invasion from Russia — or else preparing for its allies to launch an invasion of Russia.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

John Pilger: America’s Predatory Ideology – Fascism

John Pilger’s latest essay, a must read for all, is a sweeping review that looks at the “common thread” of US action: fascistic mass murder.  Pilger also highlights the reasons behind the slaughter, detailing the monetary and power-gains made by the controllers, including up through today in Ukraine, where the US war-machine has forced through a Nazi-integrated junta and installed US industrial and financial goons to enforce and exploit cheap labor and resource extraction on Russia’s border, a precursor, Pilger explains, to the desired conquest and breakup of Russia.

The essay covers the US/Euro aggressive slaughter of Libya and Obama’s seizure of $30 billion that was going to be used to strengthen Africa by establishing an African Central Bank.

It surveys the US destruction of Yugoslavia, done for similar reasons, and of Afghanistan, noting that before the US and Pakistan unleashed the Mujaheddin on that country, supplying the jihadists with all forms of aid including hundreds of millions of dollars:

“Every girl,” recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon,

“could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified…”

Pilger ties everything back to the thread of American fascism, noting, for example,

Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s.

Today, the world’s greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama’s victims.

His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains.  Each “hit” is registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.

Pilger also explains how US/Western mass media is an integral part of the tapestry of fascism:

…cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places — just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood’s violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, American Sniper, which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days”.

The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America’s most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently,

“No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established ….If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.”

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media:

“The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack …. In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”

Read Pilger’s essay for many more details (such as how ISIS is the product of US action much like the Khmer Rouge) and his conclusions, based on decades of journalistic field experience and research, about how we should respond.

Posted in General, Politics / World News | 1 Comment

Did Berkeley Just Save Us From Drones or Target Us With Drones?

Cities and states across the United States have been taking various actions against drones, while the federal government rolls ahead with project fill the skies.

Robert L. Meola has been working for years now to get Berkeley to catch up with other localities and claim its usual spot at the forefront of movements to pass good resolutions on major issues. Now Berkeley has acted and Meola says “This is NOT what I/we asked for.”

Here’s what they asked for:

Establishing a Two Year Moratorium on Drones in Berkeley
From: Peace and Justice Commission
Recommendation: Adopt a Resolution adopting a two year moratorium on drones in Berkeley.
Financial Implications: Unknown

And what they got:

Action: 11 speakers.  M/S/C (Bates/Maio) to: 1) adopt a one-year moratorium on the use of unmanned aircraft systems, or “drones” by the Berkeley Police Department, 2) ask the Council to develop a policy for police use of drones, and 3) to authorize the use of drones by the Berkeley Fire Department for disaster response purposes. Vote: Ayes – Maio, Moore, Anderson, Arreguin, Capitelli, Wengraf, Bates; Noes – Droste; Abstain – Worthington.

Meola responds:

“They adopted a ONE year moratorium on POLICE use of drones.  The police have not been interested in getting a drone, according to the last official word from the chief.  But they AUTHORIZED use by the Fire Department, who also has not asked to have a drone.  And if they get one, will it ONLY be used by the Fire Dept. for disaster response purposes??–Maybe.     And they say they will develop a policy for Police USE of drones.  How nice of them.  We have asked for NO DRONES, NO POLICE USE OF DRONES, and their moratorium entails coming up with a policy for POLICE USE OF DRONES while they still haven’t tackled the issues around a comprehensive drone policy for Berkeley.  I spoke.  Others spoke. The ACLU spoke.   The Mayor is slick.  He started out saying two years and ended up with one.  They had a whole list of exceptions that got exchanged for this crappy policy.

“So, if no one is paying attention to the details, the propaganda sounds good:  BERKELEY PASSES ONE YEAR MORATORIUM ON DRONES  Wow! Groovy!   Better maybe not to have done anything!  Kriss Worthington abstained because this doesn’t sound better than doing nothing once you read the details of what they actually passed.

“They ignored all the good stuff in our recommendation re not using info obtained by a drone in  state and federal criminal investigations without a valid warrant based on probable cause.   They ignored asking the state to establish a two year moratorium.

“My time would be better spent organizing for Nonviolent Anarchist Revolution, don’t you think?  Instead I am asking for them to make a law!  And this is the result!  HELP!

“No faith n the system, not even in Berkeley.

“LONG LIVE ANARCHY!”

Hey, Berkeley, your people sure seem to love you. I’ve received several emails today from random people in Berkeley on the theme of how useless your Police Review Commission is. And I live nowhere near Berkeley and hadn’t inquired.

Wouldn’t keeping killer spy robots out of the skies have been an easy way to do something positive?

Posted in General | 3 Comments

Award-Winning Journalist Ben Swann on the Origins of ISIS

Video report: Ben Swann on the origins of ISIS: A product of Direct US Action

ben swann

In the report, Swann discusses how:

  • Politicians and media, with good reason, are not telling you the truth about where ISIS comes from and how it arose.
  • High US figures have said ISIS will be an excuse to keep the US at war for another thirty years (the US already having been waging war for more than 90% of its entire history).
  • ISIS arose out of an Iraq that has been ravaged by the US for decades.
  • However, Swann notes, even with Saddam gone and Iraq destroyed, creating conditions in which militant groups thrive, ISIS still couldn’t have arisen without:
  • The US and its allies giving weapons/training to the Free Syrian Army rebel group, which, as was known, supplied ISIS with its fighters and those very US weapons.
  • ISIS was then able to cross back into Iraq and again grow stronger, due to huge stocks of military equipment the US left sitting unguarded in Iraq, even when the US knew ISIS fighters were capturing that equipment.
  • The US continues to send hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Free Syrian Army, knowing it is one of the biggest suppliers of fighters and weapons to ISIS.  (The US is also openly aiding groups such as the “Islamic Front” in Syria.)
  • In addition to direct US attacks against Iraq, as the report documents, the US in fact helped install Saddam Hussein and helped him wage a war of aggression against and gas Iranians and Kurds, and has previously aided other Islamic groups such as the Mujaheddin.
Posted in General, Politics / World News | 1 Comment

Two Gaza-Related Videos to Check Out

Oxfam today called for Israel to immediately end its illegal blockade of Gaza, and said rebuilding Gaza after Israel’s latest massacre, with the blockade in place, would take 100 years.

Here is an example of what Israel did to Gaza in 2014:

The head of the Red Cross commented that he had never seen such destruction.

In violation of freedom of speech and movement, Israel has blocked Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations from surveying Gaza since Israel’s most recent onslaught, which also killed scores of journalists.

The UN investigation after Israel’s 2008/9 massacre against the Gaza refugee camp concluded that it was an act of terrorism on Israel’s part.  The 08/9 attack killed at minium 1,400 Gazans, overwhelmingly civilians, while the latest attack killed over 2,000, also overwhelmingly civilians.  Israel brutally slaughtered nearly 600 children, and more continue to die due to the destruction.

Here are two films that help give a sense of what Israel and its patron, the US, are putting these people through:

1) Banksy just made a satirical “tourism” trailer for Gaza:

gaza banksy1 gaza banksy 2

2) Valley of the Wolves: Palestine, a 2011 Turkish film that follows a group of Turkish commandos who infiltrate Israeli-occupied Palestine to track down the Israeli militant who ordered the massacre on the Mavi Marmara boat, which was bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza.  (The Israeli massacre on the aid boat is well covered in Max Blumenthal‘s book Goliath.)

 

The film gives a strong visceral sense of what it is like when Israel invades Gaza and Gazans have to fight to the death in the streets for their homes and dignity:

valley 1 valley 3 valley 4

 

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Top Ukrainian Nazi Visits U.S. Congress, Pentagon, Seeks Weapons for Ukraine

Eric Zuesse

The Deputy Speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, Andriy Parubiy, who had been the co-founder of the Nazi-inspired Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine, met in Washington on Wednesday, February 25th, with members of the U.S. House and Senate who support his request that the U.S. Government donate weapons to his virtually bankrupt Government. Parubiy also visited with the Pentagon. Weapons are needed by his Government because his Government is engaged in a civil war against the residents in the area of Ukraine that had voted 90% for the former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Parubiy himself (when he was called “the Mayor of Maidan”) led to overthrow in a violent February 2014 coup.

According to a recent report by Gabriel Gatehouse of the BBC, witness testimony and photographic evidence both conflict with Parubiy’s account of how the overthrow a year ago occurred. The United States Government strongly supported Yanukovych’s overthrow, and denies that it was a coup. The Obama Administration calls it an expression of Ukrainian democracy, and says that the replacement Government was “duly elected” (though by whom was left unsaid by Mr. Obama), and that when elections for a new Ukrainian President were held in northwest Ukraine on 25 May 2014, in which no one in the rebelling region participated, the residents in the rebelling region were terrorists if they refused to accept the election’s winner as being their President. The residents still refused to accept the winner of that election as being their leader. The Government, on 2 May 2014, massacred an estimated 100+ peaceful demonstrators against the Government, in Odessa, and sent troops into the southeast to take over their local governments, and so the civil war started. Mr. Parubiy was a member of the small team that planned the Odessa massacre.

The residents in the area of Ukraine that is being bombed and even firebombed by Parubiy’s Government had opposed the overthrow, because they had voted 90% for the person who was being overthrown; they did not feel that an imposed new leader would be acceptable to them. The continued bombing of them by the replacement Government has thus-far failed to persuade the residents there to support Parubiy’s Government; and, so, those residents have declared their region to be no longer a part of Ukraine. Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, disagrees; he says that they have no right to do that and that they are therefore ‘terrorists’ for seceding from Ukraine. The United States Government supports that position, and Congress voted more than 98% for it. However, U.S. President Barack Obama, whose Administration ran that coup and actually selected the leader of the interim government to replace Yanukovych, Ukraine’s current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, hasn’t yet decided whether to send Ukraine more weapons than he has already sent.

Canada’s Parliament held a Reception, 24 Feb. 2015, for Parubiy:

http://www.ipolitics.ca/2015/02/24/in-the-city-ukrainian-deputy-speaker-hosted-on-the-hill/

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 7.32.55 PM

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Posted in Business / Economics, General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Cost of NSA Spying On the U.S. Economy Is “Incalculable”

Spying Is Destroying the U.S. Economy

We’ve thoroughly documented that unnecessary spying by the U.S. government is costing the American tech sector many billions of dollars … and the U.S. economy as a whole hundreds of billions of dollars.

Things just got a lot worse …

ZDNet notes today:

China is no longer using high-profile US technology brands for state purchases, amid ongoing revelations about mass surveillance and hacking by the US government.

A new report confirmed key brands, including Cisco, Apple, Intel, and McAfee — among others — have been dropped from the Chinese government’s list of authorized brands, a Reuters report said Wednesday.

***

Some reports have attempted to pin a multi-billion dollar figure on the impact of the leaks.

In reality, the figure could be incalculable.

The report confirms what many US technology companies have been saying for the past year: the activities by the NSA are harming their businesses in crucial growth markets, including China.

Mass spying is making a handful of insiders rich … but everyone else is getting poorer.

Posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News | 7 Comments