School lunches and all the other domestic frills can wait.
Venomous Politicians, Rotten Planks
Something I learned after being out of the States for a few years was that America’s flaws and deficiencies are not casual. They’re built into the system from its inception. The foundations of American “democracy”–a misnomer enunciated by de Toqueville six decades after the founding of the American republic in 1776 and flogged relentlessly since then–were designed to deceive, not to support. For most of the “liberties” guaranteed by the United States Constitution they included an effective antidote. To counter democracy, considered at that time the feared and despised rule of the unwashed masses, they devised the electoral college, which can override the results of free and fair elections. The revered “checks and balances,” also established in the Constitution, permit the Supreme Court to override the will of both the president and the congress. That anachronism, which has been simmering on the back burner for a couple of hundred years has suddenly become, in the 21st century, a burning issue of life-and-death significance. Over that fire dangles the health and wellbeing of all American women, half the population of the nation. I must emphasize that. HALF THE FUCKING COUNTRY, the better half.
Gerrymandering and the filibuster do not figure in the constitution but they were devised later by devious legislators, just as the Supreme Court came up with the monumental 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision, a monument to slime. And when fate inevitably delivers to the American people a preponderant majority of a venomous President, a complicit Court and a crooked Congress, all under the sway of uber-powerful economic and religious interests, big oil, big arms, big pharma, big everything–the union of church and state is already a reality–the citizens, the country and the world, are all on the edge of the precipice.
What are the rotten planks in America’s philosophical, doctrinal underpinnings and how do they manifest themselves today? Let’s start with “rugged individualism,” the concept that rules the United States and differentiates it from all the normal countries on earth. All governments, unless they are run by serial killers, strive to achieve the wellbeing of their citizens. (I know what you’re thinking. How do we determine whether or not the United States is run by serial killers? That requires some study.) Countries may have more or less success, they may be more or less corrupt, they may go through stages of more or less authoritarianism–which is one of the reasons the US is so devoted to war; it lubricates the gears of authoritarianism–but in essence most of these countries exist for the benefit of their citizens, the commonwealth. Only one of the American states declares itself a commonwealth, and it’s one of the most civilized: Massachusetts.
Who Wouldn’t Buy the My-Country-Is-Best Scam?
Then we have the my-country-is-best-because-I-was-born-here plank: patriotism. This is the most absurd and perhaps the most powerful, most deceptive and most dangerous. It is for this senseless “truth” that American mothers and fathers send their wonderful offspring off to unpronounceable countries to be maimed and killed and returned in plastic bags, not to mention the heinous and irreparable damage done to people in other countries. This I-was-born-in-Alabama-so-I-can-kill-you patriotism is a formidable mechanism for advancing business plans and geopolitical strategies, but for all the countries involved and their people, it is simple criminal insanity. We must admit, however, that American patriotism represents a tribute to their ability to turn reality on its head, by converting the cruelest and vilest possible motivation into one of the pillars of the national ethos. The question that I find most troubling is, why doesn’t anyone seem to notice?
The myth of a “free economy” is another powerful plank. This is one of the myriad of perverted American uses of the word “free” and its noble-sounding derivatives which the American media exploits so handily at every turn: free country, free elections, free offer, freedom fries, though you will never hear American paid killers referred to as “freebooters” or “mercenaries.” They are “contractors.” My grandfather was a contractor, and I clearly remember the smell of stale cigars in his van, but I don’t recall him killing anyone. There was a time when American workers, the vast majority of the population and the principal generators of the national wealth, enjoyed a degree of freedom, assured by an effective union movement. But extreme-right-wing industrial interests have been chipping away at workers’ rights for decades, leaving the union movement a hollow shell at best and, at worst, an accomplice of big everything.
Master Plank Guarantees Long-Term Misery
America’s ongoing strategy of world domination, by military means and otherwise, is the master plank. After World War II, American economic dominance was absolute. It was a giant country, replete with natural resources and native ingenuity which, unlike all the rest of the countries that participated in the war, had not been devastated. The American government recognized that as an opportunity early on and in July of 1944 and convened 44 countries to a conference in the bucolic New Hampshire town of Bretton Woods. When the conference was over the world had adopted a system of defining currencies relative to the American dollar, making the dollar the obligatory currency for world trade. In the process they created the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, two key entities in the American takeover of the world economy.
A key collateral element in the success of the Bretton Woods plan was a military force sufficiently powerful to police the whole world. That was, and remains, expensive, increasingly so as time goes by. Finally, it reached the point where the American government was obliged to make a choice. Do they bet on domestic development–roads, bridges, schools, dams, health and other public services, workers’ rights, maternity and paternity leaves, free education as opposed to loan slavery for the poor? Or do they opt for the financing of now and future wars: military bases abroad, around a thousand of them at a best guess; highly-profitable arms development and manufacture; feeding, clothing and equipping an army, air force, navy and space force; and let’s not forget the massive overlapping spider’s webs of intelligence services. The choice was evident. School lunches and all the other domestic frills can wait.
The question remains, how does a country, no matter how rich and powerful, go about uprooting and replacing such a galaxy of superfluous ideological and material claptrap? As I see it from here, they probably can’t. It would require a concerted (everyone pulling together), forceful (driven by common convictions), egalitarian (the benefits are for everyone), disinterested (a massive effort on behalf not of individuals but the commonwealth). Who can reasonably expect to see something like that happening in the United States in this millennium?
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But this secrecy . . . has become a god in this country, and those people who have secrets travel in a kind of fraternity . . . and they will not speak to anyone else. Its friends are many in the areas of important public influence-the academic world and the communications media. The cult of intelligence is a secret fraternity of the American political aristocracy.
Senator J William Fulbright, Chairman. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, November, 1971
The Marketing of Deception, Death and Destruction
Everybody acknowledges that the Americans are the world’s greatest marketers. They can sell you anything. They made the McDonald’s hamburger the largest selling restaurant food in the world. Anyone who can do that is a force to be reckoned with. But what would happen if that that prodigious force were to go beyond hamburgers, cars and laundry detergents, if it were to pass into the realm of dark geopolitics? We don’t have to wonder, as the Americans have been there for decades.
Marketing has been a key ingredient in their ongoing crusade to take over the world. This may sound like science fiction to some people reading this, but it is rigorously true. Even the most recent of the world’s existential crises—the war in Ukraine—conforms in every respect to the American dark-marketing playbook, as conceived and executed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and their presumably more presentable offshoot, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). This new agency was spun off the CIA in 1983 and quickly became a big success. Even its name smacked of marketing genius: “the National Endowment for Democracy.”
Who can imagine an organization with a name like that dedicating itself to supporting armed groups fighting for regime change in strategically- positioned, non-aligned countries worldwide? Most of NED’s activities are carried out in the light of day in order to distinguish them from their rougher, clandestine big brother (who is never far behind if NED needs him). And their main job is handing out money. Who could object?
Say One Thing, Do the Opposite
When one starts to dig into the long list of operations of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) it becomes clear that the mission of this august-sounding organization is the creation, indoctrination and support of opposition groups in in foreign countries that are not yet on the American bandwagon. This includes countries which declare no specific preference for American-style liberal democracy as well as those which are self-confesssed adversaries–such as Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela, and many more.
That “liberal democracy” moniker that NED bandies about so freely when promoting American values abroad refers to the United States’s corrupt, free-market, militaristic, white-supremacist and non-igualitarian society . That sounds like a negative calling card, but the Americans are, after all, the world’s consummate salesmen. Nor is it clear just who and how many people in each objective country have to be convinced of the beneficence of this proposed atypical “democracy.” If it’s not a significant sector of the candidate country’s society at large, perhaps sufficient American running dogs in high places can be cajoled, bribed or threatened into the American fold. We may never know. It’s secret. NED is a two-headed benefactor; its other head belongs to the CIA.
NED took over the CIA’s apparently-less-sordid activities, such as providing financing and organization skills for opposition groups in countries requiring regime change. Who decides which countries needed their current governments booting out and new, America-friendly regimes installed? Why NED and the CIA, of course.
What if the objective country lacks a well-organized, armed right-wing opposition? Not to worry. NED will create one for them and help them to run it. Those operations must be expensive. Who will pay for them? Not a problem. There is no shortage of American money to undermine leftist governments around the world, and it’s NED’s primary mission to distribute it. Some of NED’s activities around the world could be characterized as the creation and maintenance of proxy armies, whether of demonstrators or soldiers. That takes a lot of the heat–and risk–off NED who, as you can understand, is just an innocent bystander.
Just as important as NED’s control of the streets is the CIA’s work on the world’s news media. How did they get so many reporters and news services on board, and so quickly? The answer is not a secret.
Nowadays the CIA collaboration happens right out in the open, and people are too propagandized to even recognize this as scandalous. Immensely influential outlets like The New York Times uncritically pass on CIA disinfo which is then spun as fact by cable news pundits. The sole owner of The Washington Post is a CIA contractor, and WaPo has never once disclosed this conflict of interest when reporting on US intelligence agencies per standard journalistic protocol. Mass media outlets now openly employ intelligence agency veterans like John Brennan, James Clapper, Chuck Rosenberg, Michael Hayden, Frank Figliuzzi, Fran Townsend, Stephen Hall, Samantha Vinograd, Andrew McCabe, Josh Campbell, Asha Rangappa, Phil Mudd, James Gagliano, Jeremy Bash, Susan Hennessey, Ned Price and Rick Francona, as are known CIA assets like NBC’s Ken Dilanian, as are CIA applicants like Tucker Carlson.
This CIA-NED, one-two punch explains how the Ukrainians wound up with their “spontaneous” anti-elected-government, anti-Russian demonstrations in Kiev’s Maidan Square in 2013. The CIA-NED tandem had been preparing those mass demonstrations since at least the late 1980s. (“NED was there from the beginning, nurturing the active roots of civil society in the 1980’s.” Carl Gershman, NED’s founding director writing on the NED website, ned.org.) According to one solvent source, the CIA has spent more than a billion (with a B) dollars annually in recent years, buying, renting and tuning up reporters and whole media organizations. Money talks and big money talks big.
They were planting their anti-Russian seeds on fertile ground. While 4.4 million Ukrainians fought on the side of the Russians (along with the Allies) in World War II, a substantial number of their compatriots fought on the side of Hitler’s wehrmact, the nastiest among them in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS. The recently-renamed Azov Special Operations Detachment (formerly just the “Asov Batallion”), fighting the Russians in Ukraine today is the direct descendent of those Nazis, though today’s Ukrainian government—which grabbed power after, Viktor Yanukovych, the previous elected president was deposed in 2014 and fled to Russia– prefer this Nazi spawn to be considered loyal anti-Russian patriots. That assures their NED financing, training and armament for the foreseeable future.
In keeping with the American government’s rabid anti-Soviet/Russian policy that dates from the outset of the Truman presidency–if Roosevelt had not died less than three months into his fourth term, on April 12, 1945, the second half of the 20th century would have been very different–the American clandestine services will seize any opportunity to discredit, impoverish and weaken the Russians, economically, politically and militarily. In Ukraine, after baiting the Russians beyond their limits, the American spooks achieved all three objectives. The first to fall was the giant Nordstream 2 gas pipeline project from Russian directly into Germany, in the heart of Europe. Don’t be surprised if, before long, we see the same strategy employed against China, whose response would be measured but perhaps somewhat more rigorous.
Who Has Something to Gain in This Dogfight?
Not the Russians who, due both to their own ineptitude and the rapid reaction of the surrounding NATO countries, also instrumented by the Americans, insofar as NATO is the American Frankenstein’s monster. Incidentally, the birth and rise of NATO was a massive marketing success in its own right. The military commander of NATO has always been, from day one in April of 1949, an American general. With the viral growth of NATO the Americans now pull the strings in roughly half the industrialized world, if a diminishing half, considering the rise of China.
The Ukrainians, with their country reduced to rubble and millions of their citizens being killed and exiled as we speak, are certainly not gaining anything. Who is winning something, then, and how? It’s clear that the Americans not only instigated this war with anti-Russian marketing, financing, training and materiel, but they’re winning it in terms of the prestige gained by great press on the world stage—something they haven’t seen in many decades—and sales of arms and all the rest of the paraphernalia of war, not only in the Ukraine, but around the world. Insecurity begets insecurity—and subsequent arms sales and other lucrative warmongering opportunities.
How Do They Sell That Junk?
Didn’t Australia just buy eight nuclear submarines, presumably for use against their number one trading partner: China. Someone should erect a monument to American marketing prowess in the center of Canberra. How do the Americans pull off those monumental military/commercial deals like those nuclear subs and the ludicrous American F35 Joint Strike Fighter plane. A study by the US government’s FY 2021 Annual Report reveals that half of the F35s in service could not get off the ground due to operating deficiencies. I don’t know precisely how those mega-sales of armament are closed, but my guess is that it has less to do with cost-benefit analysis than the number of American running dogs who can be bribed or threatened in a given government.
There exists in our nation today a powerful and dangerous secret cult-the cult of intelligence. Its holy men are the clandestine professionals of the Central Intelligence Agency. Its patrons and protectors are the highest officials of the federal government. Its membership extending far beyond government circles, reaches into the power centers of industry, commerce , finance , and labor.
Victor Marchetti,The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, 1974
The Bottom Line on Ukraine
John Mearsheimer is one of my favorite American professors and strategic thinkers. I first ran across him in 2008 when he and co-writer Stephen Walt were casting about for a magazine to run a review of their just-published book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. They had no luck in the U.S., but finally managed to get it published in the U.K., in the London Review of Books. From there it bounced back to the States and was quite a hit. Mearsheimer’s definitive comment on the Ukraine mess made three weeks ago on Crux, a Youtube news channel, was brief and to the point.
The Ukraine war has only one winner: China.
John Mearsheimer on Crux
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I have just discovered a declaration by Noam Chomsky on the subject of Ukraine, in the context of many other urgent considerations around the world. I want to put it at the top of this article. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/n2tTFqRtVkA
Not to Worry, It’s Just Business
It might clarify your thinking on the Ukraine war, just to consider it an American entrepreneurial operation, albeit cloaked in sensationalism and falsification. There is no denying, however, that it was brilliantly executed, beginning as far back as the 2014 right-wing coup d’etat in the country. That American-engineered, regime-change operation, directed by Victoria Nuland, President Barak Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State, and the American ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, underlies the current tragic situation in Ukraine. It permitted the Ukranian right to oust a democratically elected neutralist government under President Victor Yanukovych, and install an anti-Russian regime more to American liking.
The Ukraine disaster is a dream come true for the U.S. war-mongers. Now they can affirm, “We were right all along and the current Russian invasion of Ukraine is proof positive.” At least that is what is trumpeted over the orchestrated U.S. media, which stretches around the world. But the truth is not quite so simple. It seldom is. Tragically, though, it’s always innocent civilians–and soldiers–who pay the bill.
It doesn’t take much creativity to discern that American arms manufacturers have three lucrative income streams based on the Russia-Ukraine conflict:
U.S. arms aid to Ukraine. Whoever pays for them, there is always a plump profit for the manufacturers.
The ballooning U.S. defense budget, currently headed over the moon.
And the growing defense budgets in NATO and other European countries.
And, should the U.S. war profiteers decide to try pulling off the same operation on Taiwan, with a little bit of luck they could have another historic armament-sales windfall in the Far East.
U.S. Arms Manufacturers’ Numbers Thus Far
The following graphs from The Motley Fool investment website trace the progress of four principal U.S. arms manufacturers. Click on their respective links to see the rise of their share prices since 2017. All of these arms manufacturers outpace the market. Yes, Virginia, war is good for business.
What’s the response of the American on the street? It ranges from distraction to indifference. Americans in general are more interested in movie-star news (The Oscars slap was an earth-shaking event.), pop culture and the wacky right’s latest power play. Also at work there are generations of anti-communist brainwashing. That campaign originated in the early 1930s–some would say 1918, at the end of World War I. The U.S. was floundering in the middle of the greatest economic depression in its history. But Russian industry was booming to the point where they were offering jobs to desperate U.S. workers. (There are still black people living in Russia today who are descendants of those families.) But it looked to American businessmen as if they were about to be overtaken by the industrious Slavic hordes, and that scare fixed American fear and loathing of Russia for all time. Even today any Russian setback triggers a knee-jerk, salivating, Pavlovian response among American plutocrats.
Ironically, it was precisely the engineers trained, and the industrial base laid down–out in the middle of their vast country, out of range of German bombers–during the thirties that permitted the Russians to determine the outcome the Second World War while Russia’s supposed allies dilly-dallied in North Africa. American and British operations in the desert were incidental to the winning of the war, but vital for the preservation of British colonies. That was Churchill’s first priority, along with continued control of the Middle East oil fields. Churchill’s judgment carried almost as much weight as Roosevelt’s in 1943. The British prime minister’s success was short lived, however. The decolonization of the British Empire began in 1947 with India and culminated with Hong Kong in 1997.
While Churchill watched the Empire disolve like a sugar cube in hot coffee, the Americans grabbed a major piece of the Mideast oil pie. Churchill displayed curious loyalty to Russia, an ally that lost as many as 27 million citizens killed in the process of winning the war on the Eastern Front. When the war was over he suggested to Truman that, before they disbanded their armies, they should turn them against the Soviets and rid themselves of the communist menace once and for all.
The U.S. Encircles the World
Flash forward three quarters of a century, during which Americans dedicated their efforts to taking over the world country by country, and encircling the Russians and other perceived adversaries with a lethal ring of somewhere between 800 and 1,000 military bases, many of them sites for launching missiles with multiple nuclear warheads. Did this make the Russians uneasy? Yes, funnily enough, it did.
All of that warmaking paraphernalia carries the NATO brand, but most of it is Made in U.S.A., along with the authority to deploy it. Make no mistake, the Americans are in charge in NATO. Its commanding officer, since its foundation in 1949, has always been an American general, and the triggers for action are essentially always the same:
A business opportunity
All of the above
Where Does the American Public Stand?
As for the American public, their psychological preset obliges them to follow the flag, no matter how hare-brained an idea the government warhawks and their armament sponsors come up with. Say, for example, invading Iraq or taking over Afghanistan after the Russians had proven it was impossible. In every case, every American except Noam Chomsky leaps on the bandwagon, starting with the pre-cooked media. Instead of trying to defuse tense situations around the world, the Americans immediately leap into the fray–or, more likely, send in their proxies. It’s almost as if the military-industrial complex were in charge.
The Americans are seldom willing to give peace a chance. There is no place in their business plan for that. Like dedicated warmongers they stick to their profitable priorities and work their ticket to the bloody end of the line. No matter how seemingly insignificant the “enemy”–Panama in 1989-90, or the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada in 1983. Grenada’s left-wing government was not prepared for the American invasion–who is?–so the principal defenders were a Cuban construction crew working on the new airport there. It took 7.600 American troops a week to win the battle. The Cuban defenders died to the last man. President Reagan later claimed a great victory, calling it “the first rollback of communist influence since the beginning of the Cold War,” just another example of American heroism.
If the Gringos detect an opportunity, no matter how slim, to change an elected government for a regime managed by one of their running dogs–Shah Reza Pahlaví in Iran, for example, who scourged that oil-rich country for a generation with his SAVAK secret police. That brutal collective was created for him by the CIA and Mossad, after their 1953 ousting of the freely elected president Mohammed Mossadegh, whose “mistake” was to nationalize British oil interests in Iran.
Meanwhile, Back in Ukraine
Russia’s Ukraine incursion didn’t come along suddenly out of a blue sky. The rumblings of the Ukranian right in Maidan Square, (with a little help from their friends, the CIA) began in 2012. Their anti-democratic protests stiffened when they were joined by two hard-right groups, Svoboda (“Freedom”) and “Right Sector” which soon took control of the demonstrations in Kiev. Some members of Svoboda, identified as a fascist organization by Stern in 2012, were pluriemployed both in the Ukraine government and as members of the Svoboda leadership. So, yes, there were fascists involved in the 2014 expulsion of the elected government and takeover of the country.
What is still not clear is, how many? The worst of them is identified as the Asov Batallion, with its longtime close relations with fascism and use of neo-Nazi symbolism. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR, 2016) declared the Azov Battalion guilty of war crimes on multiple accounts. This condemnation was quickly voided, however, when the Azov Batallion became a regular military unit in the Ukrainian armed forces. Is the Asov’s ultimate goal the fascist conquest of Ukraine? The American media do not remember the Nazi takeover of Ukraine (1941-44), but the Russians do. (Source: Sokol, 2016)
All Hell Breaks Loose
The Ukranian killing fields are offering U.S.military-industrial complex not only a tsunami of sales, but a priceless real-war proving ground for their latest products. Now they can sell them as “combat tested.” To these serious American businessmen, Ukraine represents their proxy army and test bed. It’s a convenient solution for them. That way their own army doesn’t have to get its boots soiled.
Add to all of this the Russian claims of years of Ukranian armed harassment of the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass. Vladimir Putin decides to invade Ukraine and put things back in their places, and all hell breaks loose both on the ground and in the world media, portraying Putin as the virtual anti Christ. This brings us full circle. The U.S. responds by upping the intensity of the media campaign and inundating Ukraine with American and British arms. And the profiteering is still far from over.
Murky Casualty Figures Fit the Script
So the Americans got their proxy war and the world continues to turn on its twisted axis. On 2 April 2022, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 3,455 civilian Ukranian casualties in the country: 1,417 killed and 2,038 injured. NATO estimates that Russia has lost between 7,000 and 15,000 soldiers. Wounded who cannot rapidly return to duty generally number about twice the number of dead, according to the NATO estimation. Curiously, no Western source that I could find offers numbers for Ukranian military casualties. If you google “Ukranian military casualties,” you will be led directly to, “Ukranian civilian casualties,” which the Western press is selling exclusively. According to Global Times, Feb. 16, 2022, neither Russia nor Ukraine had any eagerness for going to war, but Washington, with its litany of warnings and dire predictions, and what one commentator has called “performance art,” has still been trying to make the world believe that World War III is imminent. It may or may not be but, if it is, it is primarily due to the relentless efforts of the United States.
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The most illuminated Democrats have also given free rein to their knee-jerk, anti-Russian sentiments and are coming up with apocalyptic solutions to the Ukraine crisis, such as no-fly zones (an act of war) and outright invasions, as if a nuclear World War III were a secondary consideration.
With a Little Bit of (Bad) Luck Here It Comes
I don’t want to seem alarmist but, as I see it, the United States is just one congressional election away from becoming a country run by a lynchmob klan, and that election might well take place in November, 2022. All the Republican Party has to do is to gain a single seat in the Senate and the American pancake is flipped. The implications of that turnover would be blood chilling. As the recent Republican “interviews” with President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Jackson, have shown beyond all doubt, today’s Republicans have reverted to the mentality of the Antebellum South, and they are sizing up ideological hanging trees across the country. And this is even before the Donald Trump contingent enters the playing field. The prospect of a tsunami-grade political sea change, and not a little one, hovers over the country like a big, bad bird. Then come the 2024 presidential elections, which could profoundly affect contemporary American history.
What makes this scenario even scarier is the fact that the Loony Tune Republicans are not alone. The most illuminated of the Democrats (e.g. Democratic strategist, Adam Parkhomenko) have also given free rein to their knee-jerk, anti-Russian sentiments and are coming up with apocalyptic solutions to the Ukraine crisis, such as no-fly zones (an act of war) and outright invasions, as if a nuclear World War III were a secondary consideration. In reality, it would be as unthinkable as going on a hike and stepping into the dark cave of a mother grizzly with a litter of adorable little cubs.
Let’s Think about the Whys
Funnily enough, the illuminated Democrats never mention the two probably most important factors in the Ukraine melee from the American Democrats’ point of view:
A historically profitable armament-sale opportunity, not only in Ukraine, but in the entire world, thanks to the CIA-engineered and executed media frenzy that goes far beyond the usual red-white-and-blue wash over the world’s mass media. It now includes draconian censorship measures. Pulitzer-Prize-winning ex-NY Times, Middle East bureau chief, Chris Hedges, one of the few American journalists who speaks Arabic and has an exemplary conscience, has just had the last six years of his On Contact interview program on the RT news service wiped off Youtube. Who’s next? Because, in times like this, there’s always a next. (See Matt Taibbi’s lucid report on the Chris Hedges case here.) (Update: Progressive journalist and documentalist, Abby Martin has just had 600 programs wiped off Youtube. She was next. See Abby’s interview on The Real News discussing post 9/11 and current Ukranian media blood lust. Here’s the link.)
The imperative necessity for the reelection of a Democratic president. Such is the weight of this factor that one wonders if this isn’t the sine qua non of American strategy in Ukraine, even though President Joe Biden, with his doddering demeanor and his murky history in Ukraine, might not be the ideal candidate to execute it. If you doubt it, just wait to see, when the time comes, the Trumpeteer operatives circling Biden like piranhas in the baby’s bath.
Snuff Films, Anyone?
If you’re not a fan of snuff films I suggest that you try not to think about the implications of a takeover by ultimate-generation Republicans. They are not like President Eisenhower. They’re a new strain, perhaps engendered in one or more of the biological-warfare laboratories that the Americans planted all over Ukraine and are now blaming on the Russians. Do they really expect us to believe that the right-wing Ukranian government, installed by the Americans, themselves, would stand idly by while the Russians established those diabolical death workshops all over the Ukranian geography and staffed them with mortiferous dwarves? Either they’re insulting our intelligence or betraying their own lack of it.
Consider the dystopia that Trump & Co. created in the United States with a minimum electoral mandate. What will he and his semi-literate legions be capable of next time on the strength of an increasingly-possible landslide victory. There goes education, the environment, racial equality, economic justice, Charles Darwin and Row v. Wade and a hell of a lot more. Shall we mount a football-pools-type business on the subject. Winner takes all. Losers, mercifully, get a lobotomy. What could be more American?
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If it weren’t for pond-slime reality TV, Donald Trump would be just another lowbrow real-estate speculator, not an aspiring candidate for a second term as President of the United States of America.
Destructive Patriotism Arises from the Same Irrational Spring as Racism and Is Equally Toxic
It can twist and color everything in your life–and other people’s–and it’s so insidious that you may not even notice. Harmful patriotism–patriotism as a blunt instrument–is so commonplace in the U.S., so internalized, that most people aren’t even aware of it. It’s just another of the givens of that great country.
The surreal by-products of American super patriotism are many and various. Is the deliberate killing with a perfectly legal assault rifle of two innocent citizens, and the wounding of another, on the street in Kenosha, Wisconsin, surreal enough for you? What about the failure of a jury of his peers to convict the perpetrator, who was later publicly received and celebrated by an ex-president of the United States? To normal people from other countries the incident, its legal derivations and social acceptance smacks of grave mental illness, not just the killer’s but of the entire country.
Double Down and You’ve Got Mega Hypocrisy
To this level of mindless brutality on the part of the killer, the judge, the jury and a large part of the American public, we have to add the mega-hypocrisy of the Americans selling themselves as paladins of world democracy. All of this in the face of the massive destruction and mayhem either carried out or sponsored by the U.S. around the world.
It’s possible in part due to the level of K-12 education in the United States, which is not only substandard by international standards, but ideologically slanted in favor of the Americans’ cruel and unusual societal norms. These sick values, and the laws that arise from them, are not embraced by any other modern democracy in the world, with the possible exception of Britain, which has been a virtual American dependency since World War II.
No Matter How Smart, Well Intentioned or Well Informed You Are, You Cannot Escape Your Givens
Many Americans consider themselves to be motivated by clear thinking and good will. That may be true, but there are subliminal factors that underlie all of their givens, their life’s default settings that are burned into their subconscious from infancy. Racism is one of them, but there are lots more. There’s patriotism, temperament, exceptionalism, generosity, altruism, tolerance, love of animals, solidarity and its opposite, greed.
Most people aren’t even aware of their givens; they just respond to them automatically as the occasion arises, like Pavlov’s dog. Watch your own dog’s hackles rise when you meet an old friend on the street and he slaps you on the back. The dog doesn’t have to think on those occasions. His givens come into play instant and automatically, and one of them is “protect your master.” We, ourselves, are not much different from our dogs in this respect. Whenever U.S. plutocrats organize or join in with their dubious allies–Saudi Arabia, for example–in one of their undeclared wars anywhere in the world–in the impoverished, hungry country of Yemen, for example–the American media monster drags out the bandwagon for everyone to get on board. “What, you’re not going to support our troops? What are you, some sort of anti-patriot?” All of the big media outlets are, first and foremost, businesses. They don’t just represent American company interests, they are big businesses themselves, participating in the benefits of U.S. aggressions worldwide. It’s their duty. They have to do their part in exporting American free-market democracy and contributing to the growth of the mythical Free World.
Where Do You Get Your Givens?
Your givens are delivered with your mother’s milk, your father’s distrust of foreigners, your grandfather’s love of guns, your allergy to cat fur, the friends from your neighborhood, the Pledge of Allegiance, Sunday school, war games, team sports, reality TV, admiration of winners and accumulators even if they’re cheaters, imitation of dubious role models, all-pervading greed and commercialism. This being the case, in an ideal world it would be imperative to convey to children a set of sane givens and healthy attitudes. If it weren’t for pond-slime reality TV, Donald Trump would be just another lowbrow real-estate speculator, not an aspiring candidate for a second term as President of the United States of America.
This being the case, any country that aspires to its citizens’ decency and wellbeing must convey to its children a solid set of healthy examples, at home, in school and in their world at large. Though this pursuit of generous values is the basis for the most advanced school systems and consequent societies in the world, from Scandinavia on down, they are conspiculously absent–even directly contradicted–in the United States, the land of ruthless individualism. This truth is reflected in conflict, insults and aggression, from the lowest schoolyard disagreement to any declaration by U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken. He thinks he’s being tough. He’s being ridiculous.
Bill Blum Explains the Naiveness of the American People
William Blum, author of America’s Deadliest Export, was headed for the U.S. Foreign Service as a young man, before the horror of the Vietnam War turned him around. He spent the rest of his life peeling back, layer by layer, America’s rotten foreign policy onion. In this, his last book (2013), he explains in unvarnished terms the American blind spots:
The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.
America’s Deadliest Export, William Blum
To anyone who has read Konrad Lorenz, it’s clear what is happening to those Mafia boss children. They have been imprinted on bogus American values just like Lorenz’s newly-hatched ducklings who would follow the first person or thing they saw moving after they exited their eggs.
It is Bill Blum’s contention that, regardless of the insistence of American politicians–from presidents on down–in filling their mouths with “democracy,” since World War II the U.S. has intervened in the internal affairs of more than 50 foreign governments and interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 more. It was President John F. Kennedy who thwarted the CIA attempt to unseat Fidel Castro in Cuba by negating air cover for the ill-conceived and ill-fated Bay of Pigs operation in April of 1961. Just two and a half years later Kennedy was cut down on a Dallas street. Was that because someone in a high place decided that he lacked the quintessential quality of all American presidents: ultra patriotism?
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I now know now that the Pledge of Allegiance was about the insidious brainwashing of innocent children, and most of those brains cannot be restored.
Are Idiots Born or Created?
Seen from abroad over the past half century, one gets the impression that the United States has embraced a vibrant new tradition. Along with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness they are pursuing stupidity. And they are doing a sensational job of it. A few decades ago this would have sounded like a gratuitous insult, but today it is widely acknowledged as a simple fact of life. Are you reluctant to believe it? Try googling “American stupidity” and you will find think piece after think piece, authored by Americans themselves, dissecting the many facets of widespread US mental deficiencies. They have titles like, “Have We Reached Peak Stupidity,” “Are Americans Just Stupid” and “Americans Just Want to Be Free to be Stupid.”
Isn’t Stupidity Universal?
Is this to suggest that stupidity doesn’t exist in other places? No, of course not, but not to the degree that it thrives in the United States where, due to a unique combination of factors, stupidity rules almost every manifestation of American society: what they value, what they admire, what they aspire to, what they demand, what they vote for, even what they eat. And certainly what they watch, listen to and follow. Nowhere else does the stupidity factor hold such sway. What is the great American stupidity enabler?
Like everything else, it’s the profit motive, and we’ll discuss that later. For now, suffice it to say that in a country whose cherished traditional values include rugged individualism, false exceptionalism, fast money, relentless militarism and distrust of collective solutions. Americans think these solutions smell of socialism and consider them wholly incompatible with their fictional “free world.” I thought Neil Young had razed that place back in 1989, with his song, Rockin’ in the Free World. (“People sleepin’ in their shoes… Keep on rockin’ in the free world.”)
The American Gold Rush Mentality
When grave mental deficiencies are detected in great swaths of the population, the American tendency is not to regard them as people to be helped, rather as opportunities to be exploited. It’s the American gold-rush mentality: “Thar’s gold in them thar hills!” How do they mine those unfortunate souls? Let me count the ways. They put them in private, for-profit prisons where they are obliged to work for an average of 63 cents and hour–and in some states for free. Only 8% of state and federal prisoners are held in private prisons. But 73% of immigration detainees are incarcerated for profit. By cost cutting on everything–installations, staff, staff training, education programs–the private operations manage to undercut the manifestly better state and federal facilities in order to make a profit. (Source: Statista.com)
They lure them into life/death lottery which is the armed forces Even when they’re not in the army or behind bars, members of the American working class are under represented by unions, underpaid and over exploited. A significant part of them does not earn enough money to live a decent life and raise their children in conditions of health and wellbeing. And we’re talking about the richest country in the world. Could someone explain to me how that is possible?
One thing is certain: the United States is the outland in outlandish. And they will, sooner or later, pay the price, not just for inequality and racism but for all the exceptional rest, the mass gun killings and the solitary suicides, the tolerated far-right militias, the discouraged teachers and parents, the holy men who travel in private airliners, the congress people on the payrolls of banks, arms manufacturers and big pharma, the honest business people with accumulation psychosis, the black and brown kids who don’t have a chance…
Societal Failure or Business Opportunity
The authorities don’t consider possibilities for more, better, free schooling for people who have been left behind, or equality programs to raise levels across the whole society, but private prisons and reality TV. It’s not by accident that America’s worst-ever president was a reality TV star. Mediocrity seeks its own level. For every Lincoln or Roosevelt that Americans have enjoyed as their president, they were obliged to suffer dozens of Harry Trumans (who was the only US president not to graduate from college), Ronald Reagans and George W. Bushes.
There is a gleam of hope, however. The most thoughtful commentators on the subject agree that Americans are not born stupider that the rest of humanity. They’re essentially normal as their intelligence quotients compare positively with those of other countries and conform to the familiar bell curve. But wait just a few years and you’ll find that outlandish, senseless, anti-social and counterproductive notions have crept into their heads, such as the Pledge of Allegience to the Flag. I was nurtured on that nonsense through most of grade school and I clearly recall not having any idea what it was about.
I now know now that it was about the insidious brainwashing of innocent children, and most of those brains cannot be restored. It turns out to be the first brick in the wall of American hypernationalism, a baseless concept like the Holy Trinity, that has become God’s absolute truth in America. Once that superstructure was erected, they could hang anything on it, starting with American exceptionalism, the notion that, just by being born Americans they were unique among the citizens of the world, endowed with unique privileges, all of which is, of course, the rankest hogwash. Americans are in no way unique, superior or more entitled that any other race on earth. That notion springs from the same putrid source as white supremacy. It is just a false justification (though many–most?– Americans seem to believe it) for their rampant imperialism around the world.
Mental Damage to Children
Concomitant with these outrages is the irreparable mental damage done to the minds of American young people, which have been precooked by the lies of school and church, Captain America and the American flags flapping outside their front doors. Their exceptionalist beliefs lead them to support the insane and unending litany of bullying, rapine, regime change and exploitation that their country practices for profit around the world.
To mislead and confuse its youth with uber-patriotic nonsense is to condemn a country to a dark future, the one that we are seeing playing out today in the U.S. It was not only other people’s territory and natural resources that interested America’s early international entrepreneurs and still does. It was access to markets in places like Japan and China, access achieved by “gunboat diplomacy.” Today is an interesting time to recall those snippets of history, with China gutting the American industrial base and devouring their markets without having to deploy any gunboats.
There are endless theories to explain the dumbing of America. Ron Jud, writing in the Seattle Times blames it on television, especially in its cheapest, nastiest–and most profitable–form, reality shows. He affirms:
American television has made the country what it is today–fat, lazy, uninterested, selfish, intellectually comatose and uninspired. It was around the mid-’90s… when the sinking feeling began… reality TV, shows that required little cast, sets or the inkling of creative spark God gave a common garden snail. Manna, in other words for the geniucrats running the U.S. entertainment industry.
Seattle Times, 28 August 2021
Another theory traces American stupidity back to the frontier spirit. It’s not actually stupidity. Steven Nadler calls it “a kind of intellectual stubbornness.” Here’s his take on the phenomenon in Time:
The problem is not that the people who don’t believe in climate change or who choose not to vaccinate their children, or who deny evolution by natural selection are necessarily uninformed (although many of them are, and a good deal of what passes for “information” these days comes from highly suspect sources). Rather, it is that in the face of relevant information they have refused to adjust or abandon their beliefs accordingly. We are witnessing a struggle between the dark and light tendencies of the American national psyche. The mask is its symbol.
So it’s not stupidity. But it will do till the real thing comes along.
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In view of their unjust imposition of seven decades of crippling economic sanctions on Cuba, has anybody ever imposed sanctions on the United States? If not, why not?
Just a Few Surreal By-Products of American Exceptionalism
The killing with a perfectly legal assault rifle of two innocent peaceful demonstrators, and the wounding of another, on the street in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Then the failure of a jury of his American peers to convict the perpetrator. Then an ex-president of the United States publically congratulating the killer for getting away with murder. This whole chain of events looks highly irregular–grotesquely so–to non Americans all over the world. To normal people from other countries the incident, its legal derivations and the social acceptance of it smacks of grave nationalistic illness of the sort that affected the German people during Hitler’s Nazi regime.
To this level of mindless brutality–on the part of the killer, the judge and jury and a large part of the American people–we must add the massive hypocrisy of Americans selling themselves as paladins of world democracy and the good life, the mythical shining city on a hill. If they believe that absurd and dangerous commonplace, why shouldn’t we?
The Americans Burden Themselves
Americans are encumbered with a set of anti-social, individualistic values, considered aberrant in most advanced countries, and a low level of education, which also suffers from a cruel ideological slant. Their primary and secondary schools teach children that their country is uniquely blessed by God and thus divinely empowered to impose their way of life on the rest of the world. But the truth is that they are not exceptional. They form a branch of the great apes of the species homo sapiens, just like the rest of the people in the world. Nor is their form of government, in its current state, superior. It is gravely and demonstrably flawed. And their fervent efforts to impose it around the world, while violently suppressing other people’s lifestyle choices, have given rise to at least a century of universal worldwide unease.
Commerce Against Humanity
The pursuit of commercial militarism underlies the system. In order to be even marginally legitimate, wars must be fought in defense of sane principles such as humane values or self defense. Today most wars are fought for the profit of the few: big bankers, big arms makers, big pharma and big everything else. Does anyone know the details of the commercial arrangements underlying all the war materiel that the U.S. and U.K. so liberally bestowed upon Ukraine? Are the Ukranians paying for all that big-ticket armament in comfortable monthly installments or are American and British taxpayers generously making them a gift of all those expensive war toys? If it’s the former, when does military solidarity cross the line into arms profiteering? If it’s the latter, and they are passing the cost of the arsenal to their countries’ citizens, have they bothered to inform them as to where their tax money is going?
The never-ending encroachment of revealed religion in the American government. For the wise American founders “freedom of religion” included freedom from religion. The Constitution of the United States accorded no role for organized religion in the new American republic. That lowbrow religion should have slithered into the American government’s highest offices, in the guise of “spiritual advisors” speaking in tongues, is seen by outsiders as a sad commentary on the state of the nation.
This Is Going to Hurt
The American disregard for human pain, suffering and life itself abounds. This hardly requires comentary. It’s enough just to mention the all-too-familiar names: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Irak, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan… Sometimes the American executioners don’t even need a war to reap tons of pain and discord. These are just some of their alleged victims: John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Malcom (X) Little, Martin Luther King and Black Panther co-founder, Dr. Huey Newton. His Black Panther colleagues, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, were gunned down by 14 police officers as they lay sleeping–or having been drugged; it’s not clear which.
The (In) Human Factor
The killers and facilitators. While we’re at it we should name some of the Americans’ most illustrious killers and facilitators in this atypical history. The most egregious is seldom pointed out. He is the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Heinz Alfred (Henry) Kissinger, President Nixon’s right-hand man during Nixon’s fruitless and unscrupulous last-ditch attempt to win the Vietnam war and the re-election to the U.S. presidency. The Nobel Prize was never the same again. Kissinger’s rapsheet includes cozying up to Latin American military dictators and retarding the Paris Vietnam peace negotiations in benefit of Nixon’s reelection, a delay which cost thousands of American–and many more Vietnamese–lives. For a compelling and detailed account of Kissinger’s time in the White House, see Seymour Hersh’s Kissinger, The Price of Power.
Then there’s Augusto Pinochet, the CIA-annointed dictator of Chile; and Jorge Rafael Videla, the military-junta-appointed president of Argentina between 1976 and 1981, the bloodiest years of fascist repression in that benighted country and further afield. Their outrages included the Operation Condor campaign of assassinations of some 60,000-80,000 suspected leftists all over South America between 1968 and 1989, a project designed by the CIA and carried out by a host of Latin American dictators. Nor must we forget to include in this rogues’ gallery Israel’s on-and-off-again president, Bibi Netanyahu, the architect of the ruthless apartheid regime against the Palestinians.
McNamara and Westmoreland in Vietnam
Robert McNamara’s middle name is “Strange,”as in “Strangelove.” The U.S. Secretary of Defense between 1961 and 1968, he ramped up the Vietnam war unconscionably, and having failed to defeat the Vietnamese communists, moved inexplicably on to a series of prestige appointments beginning with the presidency of the World Bank. McNamara’s mediocrity was superseded only by that of William Westmoreland, the commander of Military Assistance Command-Vietnam (MACV) in 1964. U.S. troop strength on Westmoreland’s watch went from 16,000 when he arrived to its peak of 535,000 in 1968 when he was kicked upstairs to Army chief of staff.
After losing the war to the Vietnamese under, General Vo Nguyen Giap, the American commander permitted himself the luxury of criticizing the incompetence of his enemy. It is summed up in this summary from a 1998 interview for George magazine:
In the 1974 film Hearts and Minds, Westmoreland said that ‘The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful, life is cheap in the Orient.’ “Westmoreland’s view has been heavily criticized by Nick Turse, the author of the book Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. According to Turse, many of the Vietnamese killed were actually innocent civilians, and the Vietnamese casualties were not just caused by military cross-fire but were a direct result of the U.S. policy and tactics, for example the policy ‘kill everything that moves’. He concluded that, after having “spoken to survivors of massacres by United States forces at Phi Phu, Trieu Ai, My Luoc and so many other hamlets, I can say with certainty that Westmoreland’s assessment was false”.
Wait, There’s More
Elliott Abrams was the scourge of Guatemala as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs (a title which deserves a Nobel irony prize) under the Reagan administration. He collaborated with the dictator, General Efraín Rios Montt, in the genocide of the country’s Mayan people between 1982 and 1983. He was also involved in the Iran-Contra operation and twice convicted–later pardoned by George W. Bush–of withholding information from Congress. Abrams was still at it until at least 2021, appointed by President Donald Trump’s atypical Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, as U.S. Special Representive for Venezuela and Iran. They considered that both of those countries required urgent re-directioning. Iran is a thriving Shiite Muslim society in the Middle East, with massive oil deposits. And Venezuela is clearly guilty of being the home of untold natural resources including a sea of petroleum and a mountain of gold, just waiting for someone with the capital and knowhow to exploit them.
There’s one more remorseless bully who’s necessary on this list, George W. Bush, the wholesale butcher of Baghdad, in company with his stellar running dogs, British prime minister, Tony Blair, and José María Aznar, the pathetic extreme-right-wing Spanish president who was desperate to come out in the photo with those he considered loscaudillos.
The Americans haven’t fought on their own ground since the civil war which ended in 1865, but to how many countries have they exported disastrous wars in the past century and a half? How many civilian victims? How many dead and maimed soldiers resulted–including many thousands of their own? That’s indifferent to them; they’ve got an unlimited supply of gold stars for the grieving mothers. Robert McNamara decided to limit the number of college-educated white boys sent to Vietnam, lest they join the anti-war students when they got home. Since the the U.S. armed forces are made up increasingly of black and brown minorities that American plutocrats consider expendable.
In the end, even Colin Powell was sacrificed before the United Nations Security Council in 2003 in the Americans’ ultimately fruitless pursuit of Irak’s fabulous petroleum riches. I have one last question before we leave the subject of the Americans’ tragic story of murder and mayhem around the world. In view of their unjust imposition of seven decades of crippling sanctions on Cuba, has anybody ever imposed economic sanctions on the United States? If not, why not?
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Everything is hunky punky in the Ukraine. Everybody got what they wanted. Putin got to deal with his noisome cousins on the west, and along the way he got to reaffirm Russia as a force not to be taken lightly. He was preternaturally aware for some time that the Americans had been punching above their weight and finally got the opportunity to reply in kind. The Americans were delighted to get the definitive proof that their old bugbear was once more on the march, this time for real. The Russians were clearly threatening world peace–and what’s worse–American hegemony. Now the Yanks can resume peddling their bi-polar version of the world–us and them, cowboys and Indians. You’re one or the other.
The surprising thing to the impartial observer is that almost everybody, but for the few cranks who have been following the story for years, seems to buy into the American narrative. That virtually-world-wide consensus is driven by the mass media. But before swallowing their version whole, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the international media are big businesses, whose aim is to perpetuate the status quo, which is to say, big business. So it’s not surprising that the world’s press, TV and online media should have unanimously grabbed the worn, anti-Russkie ball and run with it. For them it’s a slam-dunk.
Has Anyone Looked at a Map?
Nor is it complicated for them to denounce Russian armed aggression against a neighbor–actually family–and illustrate it with images of bloodied civilians and reports of kindergartens being bombarded (albeit in the middle of the night). It’s clear to them that Russia’s strategy is to encircle Europe and devour it bite by bite. (One sclerotic commentator dared suggest in this morning’s paper that Russia had its eye on Germany.) That cannibalistic assertion is an absurdity that can be dispelled by looking at a map, though there are lots of people who want to believe it.
Biden and Co. are championing NATO as the valid mediator in this fight but NATO is the worst possible solution. It is, among other things, the Americans’ proxy armed forces in Europe and elsewhere, a fraternity of American running dogs. In line with the rationale for its creation at its inception–to protect Europe from Soviet encroachment–it should have been disbanded with the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, something many of us expected. But it remains determinedly dedicated to meddling farther and farther afield and doing more harm than good. (See some of my previous pieces on NATO, here, here and here.)
A Telling Historical View
In the slightly longer view, this whole brouhaha is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fault, for dying at exactly the wrong time and leaving the world in the hands of Winston Churchill–too colonial– Harry Truman–entirely too limited–and Joseph Stalin, beleaguered and outnumbered. Neither the British prime minister nor the American president, were prepared to acknowledge Russia’s World-War-II-winning sacrifices on the eastern front to the tune of some 20-million dead. This posture alone was enough to discolor postwar international relations until our own time.
The Russia voice has seldom been heard over the static of American and British media dominance. Churchill’s overweening first priority, during and after the war, was to preserve the British Empire, which turned out to be a fool’s errand, at an astronomical cost in every respect. Nevertheless, it took the United States-British alliance no time at all to convert their loyal Russian ally (which Roosevelt acknowledged explicitly at the Yalta Conference just before his death) into the bitter enemy of the entire world, a step which was not only grossly unfair, but counterproductive, as we are seeing today.
Russia, until recently, faced all alone with the American military behemoth and all of its nominal allies, has been for generations an outnumbered, outgunned adversary. But in the company of the looming figure of China, the old bear has had his teeth and claws sharpened. This is confirmed by President Biden’s overwhelming response to Putin’s inhuman bombardment and troop movements on Ukranian soil. He canceled Putin’s credit cards.
So what was all that sabre rattling about? China already has Russia’s back economically, which is the key to the castle. Now, even at this early stage in the game, the Russians seem to be able to deal with Ukraine. What is meant by “deal with?” First, it’s about eliminating their ex-province’s capacity to make war, and ending the deadly harassment of the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine. This includes disposing of the weaponry the Americans and British gentlemen have so generously contributed to the mess when they detected the opportunity to harm Russia without getting their hands dirty.
That move in itself afforded sufficient incentive for Putin to put boots on the ground and missiles in the air. Putin, who wasn’t born yesterday, is acutely aware that the Americans/NATO will push him just as far as he will let them. Now they know where that point is. Unfortunately, there will inevitably be civilian casualties. But who can affirm that the Russians are not doing their best to obviate them, unless they should decide to go whole hog and match the American record in Iraq?
Putin is constantly going on about “Ukranian fascists,” and that allegation is not entirely erroneous. Though not all Ukranians are dangerous right wingers, there is a significant number of them nursed on the legacy of the Ukranian divisions that fought on the side of the Nazis in the Second World War. How to deal with them is Putin’s problem now.
As for problems, are the Americans positively sure they haven’t opened another can of worms on the other side of the world? How did Blinken et al, their ace international diplomacy experts, manage not to notice that China is deadly serious on the subject of Taiwan and might take this golden opportunity to harvest it?
P.S. An article by Robyn Dixon and Paul Sonne in today’s Washington Post has this to say:
The attack also carries a direct challenge to the post-Cold War global order. Putin’s sweeping ambition involves hammering out a new international balance, setting the scene for a club of powerful nuclear powers to dominate smaller states and carve out spheres of influence — by force if they see fit.
The Washington Post
Isn’t that precisely what the United States has been doing for decades?
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Did those supposed statesmen pave the way for the rats? No, they were the rats and, over the years, they have dismounted and demolished one of the world’s noblest attempts to create a perfect republic.
When Was the Last Time You Saw It?
As I remember from my 10th-grade civics class (or was it 11th?), the American government was an ideal republic conceived by a group of disinterested “founding fathers” who were not only politically wise but pillars of ethical behavior. They designed and executed a political system that cleverly incorporated “checks and balances” which made it impossible for one of the three branches of government (executive, legislative or judicial) to usurp enough power to derail what was to become the nation that set the standards for democratic normalcy the world over, the shining city on the hill. The founders, more conservative than we see them today, conceived their ideal government as a republic, but over time, and thanks to the exigencies of modern marketing, it became a democracy.
Their republic was so perfectly delineated and constructed that it obviated the possibility of the executive branch ruling by fiat, or even declaring war without the authorization of Congress. Nor could Congress pass any law that countermanded the guidelines laid down in the United States Constitution. That document was sacred. Overseeing the whole operation of the American government was an august Supreme Court of “nine old men,” burdened with the awesome responsibility of constant vigilance over the whole project. It was, in theory, the most perfect system of government ever conceived by the mind of man. In theory…
Time Brought Decline
But just as a small group of highly-principled founders can set a country on the road to liberty and decency, over a couple of hundred years it can be worn down into something quite different. In the two-and-a-half centuries since the Declaration of Independence, industrious rats have had time and no little monetary encouragement to chew through the sinews of the founders’ near-perfect system, leaving it debilitated and vulnerable to larger, industrial-sized predators. It seems those wise democratic theorists had overlooked a critical factor that permitted the decadence and ultimate failure of the country’s much-lauded representative government: the innate venality of American politicians.
Did those supposed statesmen pave the way for the rats? No, they were the rats and, over the years, they have dismounted and demolished one of the world’s noblest attempts to create a perfect republic. Their justification for this demolition job was the objective of getting themselves perpetually reelected. As it turned out, the American founders’ efforts were far from perfect. Their vision of the race question, for example, was singularly insensitive, specifically leaving slavery intact in the Constitution and laying down the underpinnings for two centuries of killer racial descrimination in their country. Slavery was eventually abolished in the US, except as punishment for crime (and that was a tragic loophole), by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution on January 31, 1865. That freed all remaining slaves, about 40,000, in the border slave states that did not secede. Thirty out of thirty-six states voted to ratify it; New Jersey, Delaware, Kentucky, and Mississippi vote against. Mississippi distinguished itself by not officially ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment until 2013, and one suspects they’re still not convinced.
Divide and Conquer
The founders’ genial notion of dividing the power to make laws between the federal and state governments, thus minimizing the evils of an undue accumulation of power, has also given rise to problems. The most recent manifestation of this is the United States’ inability to fashion a coherent, nation-wide response to the Covid pandemic. Their piecemeal attempts to curtail Covid were–and remain–the absolute worst in the world, at a cost of the unnecessary deaths of nearly a million Americans. That’s nine giant stadiums full. China took the opposite approach and the difference in the two results is there for all to see, a poignant reminder that American democracy does not have all the answers.
Opposing centers of power–the federal and state governments–have also contributed to the recent outbreaks of legislation in conservative states to impede access to the polls to selected sectors of their populations, notably people of color and other minorities that tend to vote for Democrats. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, in 2021, an unprecedented year for voting legislation, 19 states enacted 33 laws that made it harder for Americans to vote. (Source: brennancenter.org) At the same time, lawmakers in other states responded to Americans’ eagerness to vote by making it easier for eligible voters to cast their ballots. The perpetuation of the concept of “states’ rights” has also permitted conservative states–and there are not a few of those–to equate patriotism, the quintessential conservative American value, not with social justice, but with agressive war.
Congress Admits Too Much Procedural Blockage
Important proposed legislation frequently does not even get a chance to be voted on in the U.S. Congress. One of the most lurid examples of this is the “hold” procedure in the Senate. Under the Standing Rules of the United States Senate a motion can be prevented from reaching a vote on the Senate floor by just one or more senators. This is what has permitted Mitch McConnell to kill some 400 motions previously passed by the House of Representatives, during his term as Minority Leader of the Senate. The practice was successfully banned in 1997, but only temporarily; it was soon re-instated.
I am reluctant to bore you with minutiae but I don’t want to leave without mentioning a particularly lucid article written by Yascha Mounk and published in The Atlantic on March 15, 2018, in which he describes “a creeping democratic deficit in the land of liberty.” Its title demands your attention: America Is Not a Democracy. My favorite paragraph of this long, brilliant article comments on the Supreme Court’s January 21, 2020, Citizens United v. fec decision that recinded century-old campaign finance restrictions and enabled corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections. This is an issue that has troubled me as one of the great historic threats to American democracy. Mounk says:
Take Citizens United. By overturning legislation that restricted campaign spending by corporations and other private groups, the Supreme Court issued a decision that was unpopular at the time and has remained unpopular since. (In a 2015 poll by Bloomberg, 78 percent of respondents disapproved of the ruling.) It also massively amplified the voice of moneyed interest groups, making it easier for the economic elite to override the preferences of the population for years to come.
It’s not quite clear how American democracy arrived at its present state of disarray. Some observers would say that it precipitated suddenly during the Trump presidency. Others would place the origins in the Nixon/Kissinger incumbency or even before that. However it happened, all agree that it’s in crisis now and something serious must be done, not least because there is an alarming new element in the mix: the rise of China. Nobody knows what will work with China, but I think it’s clear that the Americans’ usual Sturm und Drang is not getting the job done. Quite the opposite. Recent American diplomatic efforts over Ukraine have driven Russia into the arms of China, virtually creating a new, more formidable adversary: Chinussia.
Even so, it may not be too late. China as a world power is still immature, like a precocious baby gorilla around the house, but he’s growing fast. My guess is that a healthy first step would be to be friendly to him. Are the Americans prepared to do that? Probably not. In that case we will all be faced with a powerful, if apocryphal, Chinese curse. “May you live in interesting times.”
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At bottom, American sanctions are a bluff, effective only so far as their military might is capable of intimidating smaller, weaker nations.
And It’s a Rogue
I pick up The Washington Post the other day. It’s a good paper, or used to be. Now it seems to be astride the American war elephant. Where there were formerly sober headlines we now have insults, innuendo, threats and hyperbole. At first glance it seems to be due to an supposed imminent Russian threat to the Ukraine. But I smell a back story.
From the Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2022
In December 2021, Russia presented draft treaties to the US and NATO, demanding a complete overhaul of Europe’s security architecture. Russia stressed the principle of indivisible and equal security for all countries, as agreed by all 56 members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) at Istanbul (1999) and reaffirmed at Astana (Kazakhstan, 2010). Members expressly agreed not to strengthen their security at the expense of other members’ security. The US is a signatory.
President Putin warned that if the West continued its aggressive policies (NATO’s expansion and missile deployment in eastern Europe), Russia would take ‘military-technical’ reciprocal measures. He said, “they have pushed us to a line that we can’t cross.”
The Washington Post Is Not Content
But here The Post shows signs of discontent, beginning with the headline: Xi meets Putin in show of solidarity as U.S. warns against helping Russia evade Ukraine-linked sanctions. So, President Xi of China meets Presiden Putin of Russia, two sovereign nations essentially on opposite ends of the world. The occasion is the inauguration of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. It’s a meet and greet. Why is the U.S. “warning” them. Is it a warning or a threat? It sounds more like the latter.
The rub on the part of the Americans apparently has to do with Russia parking eight divisions of troops on their own territory some 175 kilometers distant from the Ukraine border. The Post seems to find that intolerable. Both Ft. Bliss and Laughlin Air Force Base in the State of Texas sit virtually on the Mexican Border. Does The Post find that intolerable? Of course not. As for “Ukraine-linked sanctions,” what’s the U.S. have to do with Ukraine and Russia’s family feuds, and what gives them the authority to “sanction” the Russians for assembling troops in their own territory or for “showing solidarity” between the Russian and the Chinese maximum leaders. To an impartial observer all of this looks absurd. From here it looks as if the U.S. is primarily interested in tarring Russia with the same old brush, blocking the new Nordstream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany and, voilá, selling American shale gas to Europe.
President Biden Stands Alone
President Biden was not present at the Olympic Inauguration party. He preferred to stand off, ordering a mini boycott of the games ostensibly as a protest against Chinese “human rights abuses.” Meanwhile, from here the Chinese government’s treatment of their Uyghur minority looks less gruesome than that which the American homeless and prison populations suffer at the hands of their own government. Even so, the American-led worldwide media initiative likes to refer to “the “Uyhgur genocide.” They need to document themselves on “genocide.” Ask any Jew.
President Putin took advantage of the absence of the leader of the Free World to offer the Chinese President Xi Jinping a new gas pipeline direct to China. It looks like a perfect capitalistic solution between a country that has too much natural gas and another that has too little.
The Chinese-Russian joint statement at the end of the meeting was quite clear:
Russia and China stand against attempts by external forces to undermine security and stability in their common adjacent regions,” the statement said, and “intend to counter interference by outside forces in the internal affairs of sovereign countries under any pretext.
The Washington Post
Have the Americans forgotten they were the ones who engineered the fall of Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014 and the ensuing ascent of the right-wing, free-market goverment that was in the American script? What, then, has subsequent U.S. diplomacy achieved by organizing the current Ukraine brouhaha? Either not much–Ukraine’s comedian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, himself, is trying to ease his country out of the fray–or a great deal–they have managed to drive their two most significant adversaries into a public statement of mutual military solidarity. That’s quite an achievement. Unfortunately for the Americans, it’s on the wrong side of the ledger.
The Ongoing U.S. Sanctions Issue
For many years we’ve watched the Americans place debilitating–or mortal–sanctions on countries that displease them, the most egregious being the cases of Cuba–which has plagued the lives of the Cuban people for 60 years and continues implacably–and Iraq, where the morbidity toll began with 500,000 children. A recent headline proclaims: “U.S. warns China against helping Russia dodge Ukraine-related sanctions.” On Feb. 3, State Department spokesman Ned Price warned Chinese firms that they would face “consequences” if they sought to help Russia evade potential sanctions. (Reuters) What “consequences are these? China is a first-rate economic power that happens to have the largest army and navy in the world, the fastest and trickiest hypersonic missiles and the coolest commanding heads. And they have recently been driven into the arms of the Russians. Is President Biden sure he wants to threaten them both? An overt threat is, after all, a covert challenge.
With American sanctions ripping around the world like the thunderbolts of Zeus, maybe we should look into their legitimacy. Not surprisingly the only authorizations to be found are those issued by American authorities themselves:
It turns out there are two brands of sanctions, those authorized by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which are the only ones that are granted international legality, and those issued unilaterally by individual nations. The American sanctions belong to the latter group and, therefore, enjoy no legal validity whatsoever on the world stage. They’re just posturing. Ironically, the United States, who looks upon the United Nations with disdain and has failed to join a multitude of UN initiatives, occasionally supports UN resolutions against nations it considers enemies.
At bottom, American sanctions are a bluff, effective only so far as their military might is capable of intimidating smaller, weaker nations. The U.S. rogue elephant is effectively making the citizens of the entire world an offer they can’t refuse. How long will this familiar mafia strategy continue to function? Presumably it will last until another nation–or combination of nations–dares to challenge them, both economically and militarily. Coincidentally, I have just finished a fascinating book that deals with this very subject. Written by British academic, Martin Jacques, it is called When China Rules the World. One wonders, is the elephant edging onto thin ice already?
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“If you can only remember two things, rememember this: ‘Governments lie’. If you can remember three, remember, ‘All governments lie.'” I.F. Stone
Truth and Untruth Both Lurk in Plain Sight
“Oh, him, he’s an anti-vaxxer, a dangerous crazy. Don’t pay any attention to what he says. The 9/11 Truth Movement? Them too. They’re all conspiracy theorists.” Well, not exactly. These are the two contrasting examples cited by Jaron Harambam, the Netherlands sociologist whose specialty is studying the subject of conspiracy theories and who argues in his recent book, Contemporary Conspiracy Culture: Truth and Knowledge in an Era of Epistemic Instability, that “we need to focus on the meaning, diversity and context of different conspiracy theories, as well as the people who suscribe to them.”
That seems to make sense, but how do we distinguish one from the other? That is the problem often posed by controversial affirmations on vital subjects. But is it enough to dismiss questionable truths by merely pasting a “conspiracy theory” label on them without taking a serious look at them? That seems to be the default reaction in the United States. If something is true, but is uncomfortable for important people or institutions, the most expedient way to deal with it is by heaping it with ridicule and denial until it fades out of sight. This procedure requires no research, no independent investigations, nor public debate, and it’s free. Who could ask for a more perfect method for curtailing debate and cloaking the truth?
Which is emphatically not to say that all “conspiracy theories” are baseless. Far from it, but when they all get lumped together in the same trick bag, it’s hard to tell them apart. How do you manage that? You do your homework. You read, compare versions of events, evaluate the sources, and weigh the probabilities. Then you make a considered decision based on all the facts you can muster. Yes, it can be work, but it is the most reliable way of getting to the truth. Admittedly, many conspiracy theories may not stand up to the truth. But, to the dismay of some important people, organizations and institutions, some will.
Harambam charcacterizes the 9/11 Truth Movement as “rather different, people who challenge the mainstream narrative of 9/11 with completely factual and scientific evidence.” He adds, “These activists profess knowledge of physics, construction and explosives, and ground their legitimacy in expertise. Harambam concludes, “Conspiracy theories are not uniform, nor should our engagements with them be.”
Kennedy Deserves Better
Another historic case that belongs alongside the 9/11 Truth Movement for plausibility, after about a half century of rich and varied independent investigation, is that of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. I’m not sure if anyone is prepared to make a firm accusation in the matter, but it should at least be freely aired. That has not happened, and doesn’t look about to. The case carries an additional factor that serves to intensify the smell of conspiracy: government collusion in efforts to occlude evidence relevant to the case. What possible explanation can there be for that, aside from blatant malfeasance?
Yes, there was a hurried and slipshod official investigation, headed by Justice Earl Warren, a pillar of American judicial honesty. But it was neither thorough nor convincing. That brings up another question: can government authorities be trusted to excavate the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or are there some questions of security, diplomacy, or loyalty to be protected at the same time? That would preclude justice. I.F. Stone, the great American independent journalist, is quoted as saying, “If you can only remember two things, rememember this: ‘Governments lie’. If you can remember three, remember, ‘All governments lie.'”
What is truly remarkable in these cases in the United States is the extent to which a massive majority of citizens prefer just not to bother looking into so many vital issues, preferring to consign them to “conspiracy-theory” limbo. A quick Google search on the term will show you just how the playing field is tilted in favor of discrediting virtually everyone who proposes a seemingly unlikely or controversial theory. Almost all the Google articles are derogatory and refer more to “conspiracy theory subcultures” than to the questions at hand, as if anyone who subscribes to any conspiracy theory were an idiot. It’s not clear whether this inability to distinguish between fact and fiction is due to laziness or devious intentions. Coincidentally, almost none of the writers offer much evidence to sustain their affirmations. They don’t have to. Just labeling the issue a “conspiracy theory,” will satisfy the mostly bovine critical sense out there. One thing is certain. The Kennedy case will not be closed until all those papers are released.
While we’re on the subject of government intervention, maybe it’s time to drop one of my favorite conspiracy theories. Isn’t it at least possible that it was one of America’s all-powerful “intelligence” agencies that got the conspiracy-theory ball rolling? If they didn’t, they should have, judging by the wholesale confusion caused by the onslaught of “conspiracy theories” throughout the American population. That forms part of a couple of the spooks’ core skills: propaganda and thought control. What a wonderful, spacious, dark bin in which to tip the government’s dirty laundry, the larger part of which belongs to the intelligence community, itself. All the black ops, all the false flags, the regime change, the surveillance at home and abroad… It might have something to do with them being secret. Never mind. They were most likely just following orders. They’re clean cut American boys. They wouldn’t be involved in anything unchristian. Would they?
At bottom, though the Americans think they’re doing themselves a favor with the conspiracy-theories gambit, in reality they’re just adding liabilities to their assets. Too many people worldwide have done their homework on “theories” like Kennedy and 9/11, just to mention the most egregious cases, and are no longer hoodwinked by slick propaganda maneuvers. At the very minimum it’s clear by now that the Americans cannot be trusted. Just look at Russia’s situation today, hemmed in along their entire western border by NATO military bases and missiles, with the Americans baying for more in Ukraine. This, after American Secretary of State, James Baker, on February 9, 1990, famously assured Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, that NATO wouldn’t move “one inch closer” to Russia. The occasion of that promise, which was repeated several times during the proceedings, was the negotiations over the re-unification of Germany.
The next news we had on that, admittedly verbal, agreement–something that in Russian culture is to be honored–was when the Americans welched on it, alleging that it wasn’t in writing and it was made with the Soviet Union, not Russia. It’s almost as if an American Secretary of State’s word were not his bond. (See the full story here.) One wonders how many world leaders will find such a maneuver despicable. And how many of them will forget it? I don’t think that sort of forgetfulness abounds at the top of world governments, at least those that matter.
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“Take out your entire enemy, virtually risk-free.”
What President Truman Taught Us
It was August 9, 1945 when Harry Truman, President of the United States, proved irrevocably that nothing is unthinkable. Truman had authorized the dropping of two nuclear bombs on Japan. They were loaded on two B29 bombers and flown to the island of Trinian, within striking distance of the Japanese homeland. On that August day they unleashed the second one, playfully called “Fat Boy,” over a second city in Japan. Any normal human being would agree that dropping the first nuclear bomb, which obliterated Hiroshima, was unthinkable, but to drop another one on Nagasaki, just three days later, surpassed all human understanding, thus firmly establishing the certainty that nothing–nichts, nada, niente, rien–was unthinkable.
This comes to mind after watching an eight-minute video on YouTube (Slaughterbots) suggested by Sue Halpern in a New Yorker article, “The Rise of A.I. Fighter Pilots.” The film is a spoof but it demonstrates convincingly the opportunities now offered by artificial intelligence for identifying and eliminating your enemies. An adequate adjective for these “opportunities” has yet to be invented, but we cannot permit ourselves the luxury of rejecting the possibility that the Slaughterbots will, sooner or later, be loosed on the world. President Truman convinced us of that.
Halpern’s New Yorker article traces in minute detail the process of applying artificial intelligence (A.I.) to the development and deployment of a robot fighter plane capable of winning a dogfight against a likely enemy. Actually the aircraft does have a pilot but Halpern makes clear that he or she is mainly set decoration aimed at complying with international regulations that require a human to be included in the killing loop. When push comes to shove we’ll see whether the excess pilot remains in that redundant cockpit. According to Halpern’s report, the robot executes virtually every maneuver faster and better than its human counterpart, and never requires a haircut.
The most fascinating aspect of the article is not the technology. At this stage in the game we can take that for granted. What really impresses is the magnitude of the whole project. There are some 600 firms participating, each one with its budget. One wonders how many more high-priority research programs exist and how many of them are as as unthinkable as the A.I. fighter plane or the Slaughterbots. Little wonder that critical seeds of President Biden’s social programs for the country have fallen on rocky ground.
Unthinkability Yesterday and Today
Herman Khan, a bright young man from Bayonne, New Jersey, raised in New York and Los Angeles, was one of the Rand Corporation’s leading lights in the 1950s, a specialist in war games and strategic futurology whose papers made important contributions to American foreign policy. When he left RAND, he founded his own thinktank, the Hudson Institute, which still functions today as a non-profit entity, a virtual hive of right-wing nationalist dwarves, financed by the usual suspects.
In 1960 Kahn published On Thermonuclear War, in which he looked on the bright side of a theoretical nuclear holocaust. According to his calculations, after an atomic war against Russia, the United States’ enemy of choice, there would still be enough Americans left to bury their dead. He thus became famous as the first strategist to admit to thinking the unthinkable. Insiders affirm that Stanley Kubrick’s extravagant Dr. Strangelove character was a composite based on Herman Kahn, the alleged conceiver of the Doomsday Machine, and the German rocket scientist, Werner von Braun.
Having come this far on the subject of unthinkability, we’re obliged to continue down that dark, crowded rabbit hole. Let’s start from the not-unreasonable premise that a functioning democracy presupposes a certain degree of honesty, decency, and good will among its practitioners. Anything less negates all democratic pretensions. Does the United States meet those vital conditions today? Clearly not. Today there are more weasels than rabbits in the hole, and the first priority of them all is bare-faced self interest–or worse, the interests of sinister movers and shakers–big pharma, big fossil fuels, big armament and big everything else–who formerly lurked in the shadows of Washington’s lobbying firms. Nowadays, thanks to legislation custom-designed by pliable legislators to facilitate the big guys’ sinister agendas, they have carte blanche everywhere and they can see to it that their word is law. How else can one explain a country where the pharmaceutical companies can collect multi-billion-dollar subsidies and then prohibit the government from negotiating the price when they come to purchase medications.
Then There’s Ukraine
Ukraine is all over the news these days, partly because of tensions along their long border with Russia and partly because the United States needs to take the world’s eye off their own lamentable condition. They seem to have realized only recently that the Chinese are winning the worldwide economic development race, and that their beloved country, the United States of America, is facing an imminent future when it will no longer be the world’s only superpower. It’s the first time that observers of Washingtonia have ever seen the American turtle on its back, and it’s unsettling as well as fascinating. They are in check today and will still be in check next week, and the coming checkmate is as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow.
This is America’s gravest geopolitical problem since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. It’s perhaps graver, as their victory over Japan was a foregone conclusion, and the Americans could depend upon the Russians to defenestrate the German Wehrmacht on the eastern front. Will the American response to China be a pondered, negotiated, carefully-cut-the-losses approach, or will they lose their cool and resort to bombast and hyperbole? Not to mention what they consider their strongest suit: war.
Their moves thus far have seemed silly, as well as dangerous. After threatening and insulting the Russians at the negotiating table the US state department has demanded of Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, that Russia retire their troops from the Ukraine border, seemingly unaware that the Russian troops are sitting on their own territory, around 160 miles from the border. Meanwhile the U.S. and U.K. are flying arms and ammunition into Ukraine from stockpiles thousands of miles away in their respective countries, as if that weren’t a provocation. Why is NATO playing a role in this affair, anyway? Neither Ukraine nor Russia belong to NATO. This is a family affair. Furthermore, are the Americans sure Ukraine needs to join NATO? They are already threatening Russia by a semi-circle of missile bases in current NATO countries close by its borders.
Galloway’s Helpful Solution
George Galloway is a former member of the British parliament from Scotland and commentator for RT America. (Full disclosure: RT is a Russian communist English-language news service based in Washington, D.C., not far from the White House.) Galloway has made what he considers a reasonable proposal for resolving the Ukraine deadlock. With his wry Scottish sense of humor, he says that Russia should establish military bases in Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela so the Americans can begin to get the picture.
The Americans Lower the Benchmark
What proper country prioritizes war initiatives over the health, education, and welfare of its own citizens? What decent country has inserted so many loopholes and stumbling blocks in its legislative and judicial processes that laws benefitting its citizens are virtually impossible to pass, while the aforementioned drug companies are writing their own tickets? Can anyone name a modern, industrialized country which lacks even the most elemental standards of equality and opportunity for all of its citizens, regardless of race, religion or sexual inclinations? Or a nation that is currently carrying out a concerted state-by-state campaign to prevent a large segment of the society from being able to vote? I can only think of one. And all of this skullduggery and malfeasance is taking place in that country which is allegedly a beacon of democracy for the entire world, a universal role model. Who alleges that? Well, they do.
But Western Democracy, especially the severely-crippled American version, is not a one-size-fits-all solution for other countries if, indeed, it’s even a viable system for their own. In order to acknowledge that we must desist from considering “democracy” as the worldwide default setting, and stop believing the false equivalence, socialism=evil , when the reality is quite the contrary. There are other valid ways to approach the issue of governance. There’s Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and, yes, China.
Martin Jacques is a celebrated British intellectual who has been taking China seriously for decades. He devotes a lot of space in the new edition of his 2009 book, When China Rules the World, to explaining the legitimacy of China’s brand of communism/state capitalism, based on the singularities of Chinese history. If the proof is in the pudding, he makes a convincing case, after China’s non-democratic government has succeeded, with the massive approval (in the 90+ percentile) of the Chinese people, in lifting more than a billion of their citizens out of ignorance and poverty. That is something that, in 1978, when the Chinese economic comeback was launched, the entire world considered unthinkable.
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Today the United States exports weapons of mass destruction. Cuba exports doctors.
Are You Blind, Deaf and Dumb?
Granada, Spain, Jan. 17, 2022–I ran across this headline the other day in the Washington Post: “In America, a child is shot every hour, and hundreds die.” It was followed by an article about 13 young people–one by one–who had been killed by firearms in America in 2021. I thought I was inured to lurid headlines from the US, but this one jolted me profoundly. It opened the floodgates to outrage that had been building for decades. There were photographs of all the children before they were killed. If you click on their pictures you can read their stories. I read the first one. I couldn’t face the rest.
The Post reports in the same article:
All of them were killed in an epidemic unique to the United States, where, on average, at least one child is shot every hour of every day. Many survive, but many others do not. In the nation’s capital, nine children were killed in gun homicides last year. In Los Angeles, 11 were fatally shot. In Philadelphia: 36. In Chicago: 59. Those figures don’t include the hundreds of other kids who died in accidental shootings and by suicide.
The Washington Post
Wait, There’s More
It’s not just American firearms policy that cries out to heaven–and to the world community. It’s everything else: the prepotency, the inequality, the racism, the prison population, the incessant meddling in other people’s countries, the utter disrespect for everyone everywhere except their own crop of venal magnates and politicians, the cynical arms trafficking, the imposition of American-style faux democracy and “free” markets, their pretensions that their land of ignorance and arrogance is a model for the whole world to follow… What is the world supposed to think about American diplomats at the highest level whose discourse is limited to threats and insults–Blinkenisms? What about all the cynical regime-change operations and other black ops, which Hollywood converts into profit? What demon issued the Americans their license to kill?
They try to cloak all of these 57 flavors of dystopia in a rancid fog of anti-communism and rabid militarism, lies and hypocrisy. They have become masters of the art of converting adversaries into enemies. They would rather bomb your house than talk to your leaders. What about the dead, the maimed, and the refugee families they leave in their wake, millions of them?
The Case of Cuba
Then there’s Cuba, one of the most grotesque examples of inveterate American evil in our time. The story begins in 1959 when Fidel Castro leads a guerilla army to overthrow the seven-year dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista and proclaim a revolutionary socialist state in Cuba. Batista had enjoyed the support of the American government, thanks to his feral anti-socialist policies. In 1960, after Castro nationalizes all foreign assets in Cuba, American President Dwight Eisenhower freezes Cuban assets in the US and imposes a trade embargo which is still in effect in 2022, having been “reinforced” several times over the past six decades. The repercussions on the lives of the Cuban people were predictably grave and have lingered on until today, despite repeated international appeals. The American recalcitrance seems more due to a monumental fit of pique complicated by the usual hysterical anti-communism than to substantive issues.
Besides umpteen CIA-organized attempts on Castro’s life and biological- warfare attacks on Cuban crops, the US backed a full-fledged invasion by some 1,200 CIA-trained-and-financed Cuban-exile troops on April 17, 1961. The invasion was an immediate disaster due both to the Cuban military’s fast and effective response–the pathetic little Cuban air force sank all the invaders’ escort ships in a day–and the lack of local support for the armed exiles. The principal results of the exercise were the strengthening of Fidel Castro’s government at home and its prestige abroad, including closer ties with the Soviet Union, which reinforced Cuba’s defenses. That reinforcement culminated in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, a deadly-serious Keystone Cops confrontation between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier, Nikita Khruschev. President Kennedy was assassinated the following year on the street in Dallas, Texas. Comandante Fidel Castro died in his bed of natural causes 53 years later at the age of 90. Still Cuba resists. Today the United States exports weapons of mass destruction. Cuba exports doctors.
Unlikely Country Steals a March
Meanwhile, while the Americans were busy huffing and puffing and blowing houses down, an unlikely far-off country stole a march on them. When they finally began to wake up from their neo-con dream, they found themselves confronted by the greatest-ever threat to their presumed hegemony: a heretofore backward, irrelevant, communist, atheist country called China. By the time this shocking new reality registered, with the Asian giant’s economic growth rate having approached 10% between 1978 and 1992, China was out of reach.
What now? Having ceded their industrial preeminence to China decades ago, the only recourse left to the American plutocracy is its massive military establishment. Even in that department, however, the Chinese are hard to intimidate, short of resorting to the Americans’ preponderance in nuclear weapons. A nuclear response, of course, is insane. But does anyone with two fingers of forehead consider the American establishment to be even remotely sane? They, themselves, have unabashedly, if tacitly, affirmed the contrary. Look no further than once and possibly-future President Donald Trump, the semi-literate guttersnipe, pockets stuffed with cash, who makes Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini look like Aristotle and Plato.
American military strategy is increasingly dependent on its fleet of giant, nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. These monsters are 333 meters in length, longer than three football fields. There are currently 11 of them and three more are projected. That’s enough, in any case, to virtually corral the entire Chinese east coast in a semi-circle of deadly naval aviation. But that bucket, too, has a hole in it. According to industry experts, China’s DF-ZF hypersonic anti-ship missiles, online since 2019 and which fly unpredictable trajectories at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10 (3,800-7,600 miles per hour), look pretty formidable. Are the American super carriers capable of defending themselves against this Chinese defensive threat? It remains to be seen, but it is in no way assured. According to navalnews.com, China is not the only country to have hypersonic anti-ship missiles. Russia, Iran, and India are also in the race.
American History is a Rap Sheet
When, in the United States, is enough, enough? The recent history of that great country reads like a rap sheet, reflecting every imaginable flavor of criminality. In fact, in the past couple of decades it looks as if the American powers that be have been re-importing their own policies elaborated for castigating the people of enemy countries and applying them to their own citizens. I refer to economic sanctions in the form of skewed tax laws, unreasonable incarceration policies, massive surveillance programs, horrendous wealth inequality, white-supremacist racial injustice, abandonment of basic welfare responsibilities, blockades of health and education opportunities, rigged courts of justice, unsafe and mortally unfair public safety procedures… Americans can no longer trust their police and their courts.
Let’s wind up with another WashingtonPost headline that will make your day. It’s from Hamtramck, Michigan: “Judge shames 72-year-old cancer patient too weak to tend to his lawn.” The article quotes the woman judge as saying, “If I could jail you for this, I would.” Admittedly, the old gentleman had a feeble excuse: “I’m sick.”
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What is American democracy today, but a dried, empty chrysalis after the butterfly has departed? At bottom, democracy is just a means to an end and that end, according to Thomas Jefferson in the American Declaration of Independence, is “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Americans’ egregious lying and deception–pages out of a rancid cold-war playbook–quickly evolve into dangerous brinkmanship that places the entire world in jeopardy.
No Cause for Sabre Rattling? Never Mind, They’ll Improvise One
It is fascinating to see how the United States is impaling itself like a butterfly on a military map of the world. In keeping with their traditional WDWTFWP (We-do-whatever-the-fuck-we-please) agenda, they are busy laying the groundwork for wars far from home on opposite sides of the world, and with both of the most notorious cases based on false pretenses. The Ukraine brouhaha has its roots in the American-sponsored ousting of that country’s democratically-elected president in 2014 and the subsequent CIA-fomented “civil war.” Long experience has taught the Gringos that a proxy war is more profitable than fighting yourself.
As for the Taiwan “emergency,” it is due to the Americans’ bad faith in denying a fact that they specifically agreed to in a September 13, 2016 State Department Fact Sheet: Taiwan is legitimately Chinese territory. Both of these conflicts admitted of negotiated solutions at the outset but in both cases the American response was to rush into the breach with–arms deals. For that is largely what all the American sabre rattling is about: the war business.
It’s Not about Winning Wars
We must keep in mind the principal objective of America’s arms-peddling projects. It’s not to win wars–as they have so lavishly demonstrated in every war they have waged since World War II–but to nourish the hyper-bloated balance sheets of the American war industries. War makes for wonderful business.
In the good old days, before Russia’s decisive armament innovations and China’s rise to economic prominence, the United States essentially cornered the market on military hardware. But in recent years they have increasingly been taken by surprise. The Russians’ new S-500 Prometheus surface-to-air /anti-ballistic missile, with a range of around 600 kilometres (370 miles) is about to go online–and on the market. It is effective against intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as hypersonic cruise missiles and aircraft, and rumor has it, perhaps even satellites. According to The Buzz, a Syria-based S-500 obtained a lock-on on an F-35 on June 20,2021. The S-500 is so superior to its American Patriot counterpart that even US allies–notably Turkey–have placed their order, and India is looking like a potential client.
Russia was also the first country to produce hypersonic missiles that fly at least five times the speed of sound in zig-zag trajectories. The Chinese weren’t far behind, though their hypersonic weapon still requires a bit of tweaking. Last August they flew it on a low trajectory all the way around the world before striking just 19 miles off the target. The hypersonics can allegedly be very effective against aircraft carriers. John Harper writes in National Defense Magazine:
Carrier battle groups include ships equipped with advanced air-and-missile defense systems such as Aegis. But hypersonics pose a unique threat compared to traditional ballistic and cruise missiles, analysts say. Although today’s ballistic missiles can achieve hypersonic speeds, they tend to follow a predictable flight path that is easier to track.
The CSBA report warned that the new missiles would significantly lower or negate the effectiveness of U.S. air defenses even if the carrier strike group were operating as far as 1,000 nautical miles from the launch site. Anti-ship weapons may be able to speed past interceptors, while their flight paths could exploit seams between current high- and low-altitude U.S. air-and-missile defense systems, it explained.
National Defense Magazine
Faced with this daunting new challenge to ships on the high seas, posed by both Russia and China, how does the Pentagon decide to proceed? They are currently programming the construction of three new Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs)–at something like $13 billion a pop. I am not a naval strategist but I am already asking myself approximately how many hours can those American super carriers be expected to survive in a 21st-century shooting war.
USA–How and Where to Strut Their Stuff
The US currently has 11 nuclear aircraft carriers, more than any other country in the world. They’re also the largest; their total deck area is more that double that of all the rest of the world’s carriers together. Three new ones will bring the total up to 14. Where do they propose to float all these extravagant boats? Let’s look at where are they currently concentrating their naval resources. Curiously, it’s in the Black Sea, which is Russia’s Caribbean, and the South China Sea, whose name speaks for itself. These are purely defensive measures, mind you, not intended in any way as provocations. It’s only as if the Chinese were pacifically strutting their naval power off the coasts of Maryland and California.
All of this armed arrogance is reminiscent of the time after the Second World War when the United States was the undisputed preeminent military power in the world, when most of the rest of the world was flat on its back. But times have changed. It’s as if they haven’t noticed. Or they don’t want to acknowlege the new realities, believing desperately that jacking up the massive “defense” budget every year will save them and their splendid way of life. One is reminded of the mega-nostalgia that Great Britain harbored for the Empire, until it dragged them into Brexit’s blind alley. Today “Great Britain” sounds like a serious misnomer for a chilly, damp, lonely, little island lost in the North Atlantic. Is the United States convinced it should be following the same game plan?
The Waning Power of the Same Old Lies
The Americans’ egregious lying and deception–pages out of a rancid cold-war playbook–quickly evolve into dangerous brinkmanship that places the entire world in jeopardy. Other countries are overtaking the United States on all fronts, and by leaps and bounds. Britain’s eminent China specialist, Martin Jacques, the author of The Post-Western World, commented the other day on The Thinkers’ Forum, that, by the experts’ best estimates, in 2035 the Chinese economy would be double that of the US. That’s just 14 Christmases away.
Meanwhile, the American response to evolving world events is a combination of petulance and nostalgia summed up in the shopworn, “The Russians are coming…” That story may find buyers in Idaho and Mississippi, but it has lost most of its gloss in the real world. What we are seeing these days on the part of the American leadership is panic induced by myopia. They are blinded by the fear of the rising status of both Russia and China. The Yanks being Yanks, the only response they can conceive of is military, the exact worst possible choice.
Neither of their formidable adversaries has spent its time and treasure in the past few decades waging fruitless ideological wars nor surrounding their adversaries with military bases, nor delivering democracy via intelligent drones. China has not saddled itself with the conflicts and complications of religion: no freebooting, down-dumbing megachurches, no private-airliner televangelists, no horny chief executives with racy “spiritual advisors,” no heads of diplomacy bovinely awaiting “the rapture.” China is thus free of politicians at the highest levels of government awaiting–and promoting–an imminent Armageddon, unlike the illuminated American leaders who feel they needn’t bother about solving the problems of the here and now. As they see it, their important work begins after we–and they–are all dead.
Permanent War Is an American Scam
Although there’s no profit in losing wars, the shrewder Americans don’t need victories to make astronomical profits. All they need is for their brilliant communications industry, the greatest creators of public opinion since the New Testament–to sow danger and instability around the world.
They warn of the imminent Russian threat to Europe, the Islamic terrorism threat to the Middle East–and Manhattan–and the wily Chinese threat to the Far East and further afield. It’s an arms peddlar’s paradise out there, and the Americans have been exploiting it adroitly for more than half a century. Every one of those perceived or invented threats to the “Free World” requires its corresponding counterthreat. And that presents one of history’s most lucrative business opportunities. So the wheels of the US arms industry never stop. Never mind that most of these perceived dangers are contrived. In fact, the principal danger is that posed by the Americans themselves, armed to the teeth and led by sociopathic leaders nurtured in a culture of agression, hypocrisy, and deception, while embracing a demented, take-over-the-world agenda. America’s leaders are just as much victims of the prevailing exceptionalist myths as the rest of the country. They went to the same schools.
NATO: Protection Racket, Distribution Center and More
The Americans have been singularly successful selling their world view and all the glittering death toys that accompany it. One of their principal distributors is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an American-engendered military alliance created in 1949 in the wake of the 1947 National Security Act. This enabling legislation opened the doors, a couple of years later, to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), regime-change and black ops specialists, and the National Security Agency (NSA), the world’s foremost wire tapper, signals grabber and hacker. The NSA allegedly has more personnel and a bigger budget than the CIA. Nobody really knows what goes on at the bottom those two murky ponds. What little we do know is thanks to brave and selfless whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. Will we ever know all the facts? Not if the US government’s latest foot-dragging on the release of the JFK assassination papers is any indicator.
Though NATO was theoretically created as an anti-communist defensive pact (anti-communism is the magic elixir), it soon became clear that it was much more than that. NATO talking points unceasingly revolved around the imminent danger of Soviet arms and ill intentions, and the fact that NATO nations were dangerously under-armed. Not to worry, the Americans would sell them all the materiel they needed.
NATO began with 12 founding members and has since reached a total of 30, the most recent additions being Montenegro in 2017 and North Macedonia in 2020. The boost in membership was largely thanks to a NATO recruiting campaign among ex-Soviet satellite states after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The principal byproduct of this initiative is a string of NATO (American in essence; NATO’s chief military officer, the supreme Allied commander Europe, has always been an American) bases forming a semicircle around western Russia. NATO maintains that this array of missiles close to the Russian border is a strictly defensive measure. Russia, understandably, does not agree. A report from The Guardian (30 Nov. 2021) features Russian president, Vladimir Putin saying:
“You asked about Ukraine, where are these red lines?” he said in televised remarks during an investment conference. “They are above all in the creation of threats to us which could come from [Ukraine].”
In particular, he warned against the stationing in Ukraine of missile defence systems similar to those in Romania and Poland. Putin claimed they could serve as cover to deploy offensive weapons such as Tomahawk missiles capable of reaching Moscow in minutes.
“We would have to create a similar threat for those who are threatening us,” he said, warning that Russia could deploy hypersonic missiles. “And we can do that already now,” he added.
The frosting on the NATO cake is their terrorist-program-in-Europe initiative that poisoned European politics for decades and may have left some of its operatives on the loose. When it came to light in the Italian courts in 1990 they dubbed it “Operation Gladio.” I wrote a long piece on it in April of 2020.
American Arms Business Not Limited to Europe
American wheeling and dealing in armament is not limited to European countries. The latest succulent operations to surface in the world media are the deals made with Taiwan and Australia. The former is Chinese territory by common agreement since 1971 so that issue settles itself, but Australia? And to the tune of eight nuclear submarines? How do the Americans manage to close these fantasmagoric arms deals and enroll these unlikely allies against shadowy enemies? It’s almost as if the Americans are trying to provoke China to behave as a dangerous enemy.I want to propose a Congressional Medal of Honor for the genius who closed that submarine deal on the Aussies. China is Australia’s most important trading partner–providing a substantial chunk of their economy. The Chinese also have the largest armed forces in the world. Do the Aussies really want to provoke them? It doesn’t make sense.
It doesn’t have to. The world is ruled by whims and miffs, business deals and interests, not sense. Let’s just look for the simplest possible solution. There’s always a thriving market for running dogs avid for ever-juicier bones. It is through them that powerful economic interests can influence geopolitical outcomes. All that these powerful interests–governments, industries, banks, big farma, big anything–have to do is to bribe a few well-placed government power brokers in order to influence key decisions. Some of these operations are kept secret, but some of them are flaunted in the world media. The Australian submarine deal is one of these. The Aussies are proud of themselves, like a six-year-old who has just managed to pull the pin on a hand grenade.
Back to Reality
The American portrayal of Chinese policy is the exact opposite of the truth. The Chinese are not the warmongers. They are not surrounding their adversaries with military bases, nor constructing fanciful “defensive alliances” to coerce them. China’s remarkable success in economic development is based not on military threats and black ops but on respect and mutually beneficial cooperation with developing countries–71 at last count.
It is precisely the wealth not misspent on militarism that has permitted the Chinese to invest in their country’s future. The American policy of creating military threats that oblige them to bankrupt themselves matching the Americans in an arms race cannot work on the Chinese the way it worked on the Russians. It was deployed too late. The Chinese were already off and running, and the Americans already trillions of dollars in debt to them.
Then there’s the US propaganda attack on China for its brutal treatment of their Uyghur Muslim minority. This is the ultimate surreal example of the American pot calling the Chinese kettle black. The Americans’ grave concern over civil rights violations in Xinjiang province’s Tarim Basin smell moldy indeed in view of their own heinous racist abuses from Mississippi to Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, Serbia, Libya, and countless other places. Do the Chinese even have a word for “lynching,” or do they have to borrow it from the American language?
Pre-Cooked American Public Opinion
Where the American yarn spinners can sell their tainted goods is in their own country. American public opinion is pre-cooked. All the lies and myths are readily at hand, the exceptionalism, the uber-patriotism, the racism, the wily Chinese communist enemies, and the “brotherhood from sea to shining sea.” With all this previous conditioning, it’s easy for the Pentagon to send American young people into harm’s way in pointless ideological and commercial wars. And once they get there the support-the-troops pavlovian phenomenon clicks in at home.
The CIA, which orchestrates much of the patriotic drumbeat is virtually a hermetic country unto itself. Its existence is built on foundations of absolute secrecy used to obfuscate the highest elected offices in the land. How do they manage to keep vital secrets from the US Congress and the President himself? They are partial to a ploy called “plausible denial.” By not informing the country’s elected elites of their most egregious operations such as their bloody regime-change operations abroad and domestic surveillance at home, the CIA and the NSA allege that they are not depriving the highest levels of government of vital strategic information. They are actually shielding them from responsibility for some of the country’s most heinous and far-reaching black ops. When they eventually come to light, the response is, “The President knew nothing of this program.” That’s plausible deniability.
What’s Next? Will It Be the End?
The simple truth is: we don’t know if the end is near. If the President of the United States himself can be kept in the dark, how are the citizens of the US and the world supposed to know anything? We have to guess. And given the intellectual and moral stature of America’s leaders, and their behind-the-scenes big-bucks handlers, an impartial outside observer cannot venture even to guess what comes next, nor when. The fact that their American backs are against the wall might encourage them to take desperate measures. Will they try taking on Russian and China in tandem. We can only hope not, and try to forget the depressing old truism: “hope is not a strategy, and a wish is not a plan.”
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Don’t they realize that they will ultimately be swept up in their own maelstrom?
The Grimmest Fairy Tale
We’re accustomed to talking glibly about “the future” as if it were a given. “There always has been a future, hasn’t there,” you may say. Yes, it always has been something we could take for granted, but now it’s not. Now life as we know it on this planet is not assured a future.
How did that happen? One thing is certain: it didn’t happen by “fate” or accident. It didn’t happen due to puerile biblical prophesies, and it didn’t happen by natural disasters, not in the first place, anyway. Those natural disasters were provoked by mankind. (I’m going to permit myself this gender transgression, as most of the floods and firestorms, droughts and extinctions, were caused, directly or indirectly, by men, not women.)
But it’s not complicated. What threw the future of the world into grave uncertainty was greed, but not any old greed. It was–and is–greed hyped up by technology the way the garden shovel was superceded by the bulldozer and the power shovel. It’s a terrifying, mortal, previously unthinkable greed that ruthless men have loosed upon the world.
As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his 1933 inaugural address about an earlier generation of Republican obstructionists: “They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
How Stupid Are These Consummate Businessmen, Anyway?
Don’t they realize that they will ultimately be swept up in their own maelstrom? No, they don’t. They think their astronomical treasure will protect them but it won’t. They are convinced of that because they’re drunk on wealth, power and self deception. Just as they have left us bereft of a future they have done the same for themselves. Cold consolation for us.
Where do these mega-cannibals come from? These shrewd exploiters come principally from an upstart nation that was founded two-and-a-half brief centuries ago in a broad, green, far-off land populated by tribes of primitive peoples living wholesome–which is not to say warless–subsistence lives. The founders of this new nation promptly dispatched the natives to the happy hunting grounds. By the mid-19th century they had conquered that broad, green land from coast to coast. They called it the United States of America.
Sadly for history, that procedure of genocide and spiralling profit off the rich land became the playbook for the Americans. (They called themselves “Americans” as if the sum of two entire continents belonged exclusively to them.) The world had seen many conquerors before, but these self-styled Americans added a new ingredient to the recipe. They told the world they were not conquerors, but liberators. They took something they called “freedom” and a primitive, warmed-over miracle religion they called “christianity” with them. These seemingly inoccuous innovations not only promised their victims a pleasant life on earth but also a dandy afterlife.
This sort of balderdash can be labeled “voodoo hypocrisy,” as none of it was true nor ever would be. Instead it became one of the most fearful arms in the American arsenal, thanks more to their outstanding-if-mendacious salesmanship, than to the merit of their product.
Greed Makes the World Go Round
Greed, as we know, is ongoing, like a perpetual-motion machine, only better. Not only does it continue to run; it continues to grow, like compound interest. That’s how unscrupulous American speculators and usurpers coopted everyone’s future and started playing fast and loose with it. They discovered that the most lucrative business of all was the arms trade. It’s the only enterprise where the products are promptly blown to smithereens, creating a perpetual market for the violent death of mainly people with funny names in far-off countries. The flaw in this impeccable plan was the same one all over again. These free-market freebooters discovered the atomic bomb and, by extension, the one winter–the nuclear winter–that not even the Eskimos can escape from. So the exploiters are now in the same boat with those they exploit. Nevertheless, they pretend not to notice. The bizness must go on.
Throughout this entire historical process–though historically it wasn’t actually very long–these unspeakable American men covered themselves with a magical blanket of legitimacy. They were, after all, constructing the Free World. How did they manage to achieve that respectability? The same way they managed everything else. They bought it. They didn’t mess around. They went straight to the Congress of the United States. And they bought it.
Which Brings Us to the Brink
Today humankind’s future on this earth rests on a knife’s edge that can cut either way, but not with equal probability. With those slick American entrepreneurs ferreting around the known world provoking powerful potential enemies by ringing them with warships and nuclear-missile bases, the odds look decidedly in favor of some sort of imperialist Armageddon. Why would they do such foolish things? You don’t even need to ask. Just refer to their agenda, which is their deadly script. Your possibilities of surviving? They’re nearing zero.
The plain laws of probability tell us that, after so many near misses on so many fronts, including so many slip ups, from near nuclear launches to the three-trillion-dollar, fruitless-for-all-but-the-parasites Afghan War, the definitive wipeout is now approaching inevitability.
Above us, on Olympus, from where we thought the gods looked after the wellbeing of humanity, it turns out there are only malevolent, self-serving dwarves. What do you think your chances are with them? How do we know who they are? It’s easy, just read the paper. You will have to discard the words but you’ll get the drift just humming along with the music and watching the shit that’s going down.
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The flag is just a rag but America remains enslaved to the atavistic mental claptrap of patriotism, imperialism and militarism that it supposedly represents.
They’re Fixing the System So the Less Educated and Most Gullible Vote for Them
In the good old days the more wealth an American had the more likely he or she was to vote Republican. It made sense. The Grand Old Party was the one that coddled the rich, protecting them from regulations on their businesses and high taxes on their incomes. Today in the US, although richer citizens are still more likely to vote than poorer people, there is a new element in the mix–the stupidity factor–that is gaining weight in the struggle. That factor has to do with the educational level of voters. Some astute Republicans have discovered this relatively new development in election trends over the past 30 years, and it has occurred to them to look at the upside of the phenomenon for their party.
If voters with less education and higher stupidity quotients are more inclined to vote Republican, the secret of winning elections is to foment less education and more stupidity. This fact should vastly improve Republican results in elections at all levels, local, state and national. The brief Trump Era added another variable to the election equation, the dumbed-down factor. The Republican thinkers have discovered that just three straightforward measures will permit the GOP to win a mass of new votes in upcoming elections from a notably undereducated and highly racist sector of American citizenry.
The first step in this Dumb-Down Strategy has been underway for decades, so all the Republicans have to do is to continue to foment it. It’s the lowering of standards in American K-12 schools because, though the US has some of the world’s most distinguished institutions of higher education, their K-12 schools are lamentable by international standards, placing 26th in a ranking headed by China, America’s bitter pill.
According to Keri D. Ingraham, director and fellow of the American Center for Transforming Education:
Here’s the sad truth. Twenty-five countries outperform U.S. K-12 students. Those leading the way are China, Hong Kong, Finland, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Canada. China’s students not only place first overall, but they dominate each individual subject as well. U.S. students straggle in at 33rd in math, 23rd in science, and 17th in reading.
The majority of U.S. public school students do not achieve grade level proficiency. The Nation’s Report Card reveals that only 28.7 percent of 4th-graders, 26.4 percent of 8th-graders, and a mere 22.8 percent of 12th-graders reach basic proficiency levels averaged across seven subjects (civics, geography, mathematics, reading, science, U.S. history, and writing) on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests. In other words, over 71 percent of our students lack basic academic proficiencies at the end of their 13-year K-12 schooling.
Discovery.org–Dumbing Down K-12 Education by Keri Ingraham
The second step in the plan to take electoral advantage of America’s dumbed-down electorate is to pitch the election discourse to the least educated Americans. As we might expect, these are the voters who respond best to populist, racist demagogic rhetoric. Donald J. Trump was, of course, sent from heaven to deliver those messages. Step three is to implement, state by state, a meticulous set of restrictive voting laws designed to limit severely access to the polls by groups most likely to vote against the Republicans. That is black and brown Americans and other minorities. This furibund program is being implemented all over America as we speak. Unless it is halted by the courts, an unlikely outcome given their carefully prepared, right-wing composition, both the 2022 mid-term and the 2024 presidential elections will have interesting outcomes.
These Are the Indicators
Young people hardly read any more. They are too busy being entertained in an all-enveloping universe of electronic devices. “Pop culture” carries the day. The young people who are the future of America will soon be travelling–and leading–without a map or a compass, without criteria to guide them. A cursory look at today’s United States Congress tells us that this process is already under way. The whole Trumpian ethos–which has left a profound imprint on American politics, and may be back in 2024–has its roots in profound, arrogant ignorance.
Neighborhood bookstores are disappearing. Those warm, cosseting places where one could stroll and sample, actually pick up and savor a variety of books at leisure, are gone. Those places fomented reading, learning and quiet reflection, and they have been supplanted by the Amazon delivery robot.
Intellectual crutches are available to everybody online. As long as we have Google nobody needs to know anything. It’s all there–for free. As for reading 1,000 pages of Tolstoy, who needs it? Those twenty bucks can more profitably be spent on the lottery.
Perhaps the most pernicious factor in this whole vortex of ignorance is the milieu. Not only does a young person not read; none of his friends do, nor any of theirs. Nor do his parents, nor the former and possibly next President of the United States.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Reminds Us (in a book) of the Danger of the Stupidity Epidemic
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a young Lutheran pastor Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was outspoken from the beginning in his opposition to Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich. Arrested at his parents’ home on April 4, 1943 he was shunted from prison to a series of concentration camps before being hanged at Flossenbürg concentration camp on April 9, 1945, at the age of 39, just two weeks before Allied troops liberated the camp. While he awaited his execution he wrote Letters and Papers from Prison. One of these essays, entitled On Stupidity, records some of the problems which Bonhoeffer saw at work in Hitler’s rise to power. Though Bonhoeffer and his work have lately been- coopted by the evangelical right, his life and work speak eloquently for themselves. He comments in his essay, On Stupidity:
“Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. … The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.”
This warning/condemnation of harmful herd stupidity is as relevant today in the United States as it was in the Germany of the 1940s. The proof of the pudding would become clear to many misled Americans if ex-President Donald Trump were to win the Republican candidacy and the Presidency in the 2024 presidential election. By then it would be too late and dumbed-down America’s experience of manipulated voters and rigged elections would enter into history as the definitive case study of massive election success based on a deliberately dumbed-down electorate.
Umair Haque, who publishes today’s most lucid commentary regarding the American nosedive, on Medium.com, has written recently:
To say that little Johnny shouldn’t have to learn about slavery is only to say that he should be able to on being ignorant, and perhaps a bigot, like his parents — the Trumpists — are. And if he beats up a few minorities at school, harasses them, insults them…well, that’s just boys being boys. Just like, apparently, only white dudes get to be CEOs because everyone else is dumber than them, I guess. You see my point.
These are old, old fears. You have to understand them that way to really know them. White Americans have lived with these fears since they colonised the land. The Natives were attacking them. The slaves would rebel. They’re coming for our wives and kids are the oldest, most primal fears in the white American imagination. And here they are, being used to drive white America into a mindless rage, all over again.
The American sea of ignorance provides rich fishing for glad handers, witch doctors, militarists and other opportunists in the United States Congress. Their agendas all coincide on one point: re-election is the ultimate good, and they pursue it at all costs. Big business interests knew that for a long time but couldn’t take full advantage of the situation until the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision (January 21, 2010), which gave corporations and some other institutions the status of persons with the same right to contribute freely to election campaigns. Money can buy elections and that decision opened the floodgates to a massive symbiotic relationship between big business and the country’s legislators at all levels.
Before long one of the principal roles of many (most?) lawmakers was as agents of powerful economic interests. The most egregious examples of this phenomenon today are the cases of Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Lea Sinema of Arizona, both captives of fossil fuel interests to the detriment of their party and constituents nationwide. There are many others, enough to to carry the day on any issue, from “defense” spending to coal, oil and natural gas subsidies. It’s a bi-partisan tradition. You can find legislators from both parties on the wrong side of the street, especially on issues of social justice, racism, militarism and voting rights, to name a few.
Tricking the Turkeys
The leitmotif that ran through the Trump administration was the dismounting of “big government,” and they were alarmingly successful at it. This is evident in Trump’s selection of members for his cabinet, ideologues instead of experts. Their job across the board was to cripple or eliminate government agencies that were vital to the health and wellbeing of the country and potentiate freebooter capitalism. The country has not recovered yet, neither in practical nor ideological terms. A lot of fallout from the Trump years has not been mopped up. Worse than that, a lot of Americans still think Trump was right, even though they were the first victims of his strip-the-country-of-its-defenses policies, and would vote for him if he were a candidate in 2024 .
It’s a classic case of the turkeys voting for Thanksgiving. How do unscrupulous, self-serving politicians convince the turkeys to vote in favor of their own extermination, whether figurative or, in the case of the military, literal. The flag is just a rag but America remains enslaved to the atavistic mental claptrap of patriotism, imperialism and militarism that it supposedly represents.
In the first place candidates for the Thanksgiving table have to be turkeys, i.e. undereducated. Eagles would not fall for such an obvious con. The explanation for such unthinkable barnyard gullibility lies in America’s traditions, myths, mores and folkways. It boils down to different flavors of myopic patriotism, baseless exceptionalism, and bare-faced mendacity on the part of America’s leaders, all part of the compost that fertilizes the American stupidity whose victims voted for a crooked, carnival barker President once–and may well do so again.
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Is there any hope for a great country that has painted itself into a dark corner where the rich have been permitted to buy the democracy and tailor it to their own dubious purposes?
Did They Drop the Ball?
Meet Antony Blinken, the Secretary State that President Joe Biden appointed when he took office in January of this year. Blinken had a unique opportunity to shine on the world stage at the Anchorage (Alaska) meetings between China and the US.
CNN reported on the welcome accorded the Chinese: “In his opening remarks, Blinken initially said the US intends to defend the “rules-based order” without which there would be a “much more violent world” and said that Chinese activities in places like Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as its cyber attacks on the US and economic coercion of US allies, “threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability.”
In keeping with President Donald Trump’s benchmark diplomatic style, Antony Blinken opened the US-China meetings, with an aggresive litany of China’s supposed abuses in their region. Some observers at the event likened these remarks to China condemning US actions in Florida, Texas and Mississippi, insofar as all of the places mentioned by Blinken are, under international law and mutual agreement, subject to Chinese sovereignty. What about Taiwan? In a 1979 Joint Communique issued with the People’s Republic of China, the State Department of the United States “recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.” (Source: US Department of State)
China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi did not hold back in his rebuttal to Blinken: “We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image, and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world… Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.”
As I see it, any normal person reading this account of the American welcome to a high-level foreign representation whom they invited to travel thousands of miles to a vitally important meeting, would conclude that the American greeting was awkward, illogical and ultimately counterproductive. It doesn’t seem to make sense on any level: intellectual, social, strategic, and, least of all, diplomatic. What were the American representatives thinking? Have they so little intelligence, such a lack of sensibility, and a deficient sense of decency, that they are incapable of offering a simple welcome for openers?
I doubt that Blinken is unintelligent nor that his mother didn’t inculcate in him notions of sensibility, decency and simple good manners. But those niceties are shelved when it comes time to sit down face to face with someone the ruling magnates in his country consider an enemy. Because militarized America doesn’t have adversaries, it has enemies. And its officials don’t respond to logic, decency or common sense when they sit down at a meeting, only to the script incorporated into their country’s belligerent agenda. And that agenda includes military solutions almost exclusively. The business of America is war, and Secretary Blinken is not about to change that fact.
The Americans and the British never had much regard for China. Granted it was a huge country with rich resources, but it was half a world away as well as impoverished, disperse and its people were vexed for being exploited by foreigners. When we first hear the term “opium wars” most of us conjure up visions of the Imperial British authorities waging war to prevent those degenerate Chinamen from downgrading the country through widespread drug use. Later we learn that the truth was all the contrary. The British fought the opium wars in order to guarantee themselves the “right” to peddle opium to the Chinese, who were fighting to protect their countrymen from the degenerate British drug businessmen. Nothing ever changes. Colonialism is still about business.
Then came the Japanese imperialists with their hideous rape of Nanking in 1937-38. Curiously, neither the British nor the Japanese seemed aware that, during the previous twenty centuries of human history, China had dominated eighteen. That is not an insignificant historical anecdote. It is a telling clue to the future. And the future is now.
Over the past half century the Chinese have made massive advances with a minimum of military interventions. China is again in motion and, despite having the world’s largest army, the Chinese follow a non-violent game plan, advancing without truculence or bombast. Their emphasis is on hard work, bargaining and sharing. Their Belt and Road initiative is about trade, not war, about mutual benefits, not destruction. Instead of mounting a vast network of military bases across the world, they invested in China and the Chinese, elevating a sector of 800 million people out of deep poverty.
They knew it was going to be a long march but they are accustomed to that. Mao Zedong’s year-long, 5,600-mile retreat in the face of Chaing Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang Army in 1934-35 set the benchmark for Long Marches. Of the 100-200,000 men who set off from Jaangxi Province with Mao, only 8,000 reached the destination in Yan’an in Shaanxi Province in northern China a year later. From there the Chinese communists came back after 22 years to send the Chinese nationalist army fleeing to the Chinese island of Formosa (today Taiwan) and take over the ruling of the country. This heroic feat both inspired China’s communists and elevated Mao to the party’s leadership. The great Chinese comeback was under way.
They still have a ways to go, but they’re working on it, propelled by a real annual GDP growth rate between six and 10 percent since the mid-70s. The following figures help to explain why China makes the Americans nervous. They’re the comparative yearly figures for economic growth China-US for 2013-2018 (Data from IMF WEO Database, April 2020):
These numbers sing a powerful song. At this rate China can be expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy sometime between 2028 and 2032. China is America’s most important source of imports and the US is indebted to them (as of 2021) $1.1 trillion. (Source: US Treasury Report)
The United States is China’s most important trading partner and China is the US’s third most important, after Mexico and Canada. Seen by an impartial observer China and the United States can be conceived as virtual Siamese twins, linked at their spines and with shared interests in virtually all fields, though they can never see eye to eye. Both are living in the critical era of the Covid 19 pandemic, each in their own way, the US with the highest Covid statistics in the world and China the lowest. Aren’t there things the US can learn from China in this field and others? Shouldn’t they be cooperating? The American agenda seems to preclude that possibility.
The Pentagon and the big American weapons providers don’t see the benefits of cooperation with China. They see just another opportunity to provoke a war and reap the usual harvest of profit and disaster. Never mind that this might be the Big One. They prefer to insult and threaten the Chinese, not only verbally but by converting the South China Sea into a playpool for American gunboats, and whipping up contrived “defense” alliances like the recent AUKUS initiative. This frankenstinian spawn unites the United States; their loyal Sancho Panza, Great Britain; and Australia in a palpably anti-China conglomerate. What do the Australians think they have to gain by offending their principal trading partner. Here are recent figures for Australia’s exports.
China: US$90.6 billion (43% of total Australian exports) Japan: $19 billion (9%) United States: $13.1 billion (6.2%)
The AUKUS agreement also includes the purchase of up to six nuclear-powered submarines from the US, the better to provoke the Chinese dragon. The aims of this trilateral defense initiative seem to be muddled from the outset. Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, is quoted in The Guardian on September 16, 2021: “But let me be clear. Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability,” as if an atomic submarine were not a nuclear weapon. Will the AUKUS “defense” partnership, which at bottom is a massive American arms deal, lead to a cold-war-style arms race? It would be remarkable if it didn’t.
At this point in the game the same question always arises: how do the Americans manage to dupe their allies into leaping carelessly into the ugliest stewpots? The Aussies also took part in the disastrous Vietnam debacle in the 60s and 70s. And in 2014, in a highly dubious decision, they committed US$11.5 billion to the purchase of 58 American-made, problem plagued F-35A Lightning II fighters. Since 2001, Australian forces suffered 38 combat deaths in the Americans’ Afghanistan clownshow. Do the Aussies never learn? Observed from afar this American penchant for implicating their friends in their military adventures seems utterly gratuitous. “But Australia is obliged to collaborate with the United States under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” the Aussie collaborators will say. “North Atlantic?” Yes, of course.
The Forever War Scam
Not all of the treasure lavished on America’s perpetual war project is lost. Part of it returns to American coffers in the form of payment for their ever-more-sophisticated and deadly armaments. Unfortunately, the American people at large never see nor benefit from the wealth generated by the arms trade. In fact, the arms trafficking merry go round amounts to an elaborate procedure to funnel America’s wealth from the wallets of taxpayers who finance the research and pay for the country’s formidable stockpile of arms and their delivery systems, into the exclusive pockets of the armament magnates.
Who are they? According to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics, five of the nation’s biggest defense contractors — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies and General Dynamics — generated enough profit in 2020 to spend a combined $60 million to influence American foreign policy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. OpenSecrets.org (Feb. 25, 2021), reveals that America’s armament industry skims a bit of the cream off the top of their earnings to keep the political pussycat lubricated. Over the last two decades they have given $285 million in campaign contributions and spent $2.5 billion on lobbying.
No Wonder Uncle Sam’s Alarmed
Part of the secret of China’s meteoric rise in the world is the money they didn’t have to spend on waging wars near and far, nor establishing hundreds of military bases around the world or sponsoring endless false-flag regime change operations. Add to the money not misspent the vast number of enemies not made by not invading anybody. Do the Americans think their regime-change penchant hasn’t created expensive enemies?
The Chinese won their civil war (1927-1949) and have spent their time since then building a prosperous peacetime. During the same period that the US was squandering tens of trillions (with a T) on bellicose follies, China was investing in its country and its people. Today they are extending their prosperity projects to the Middle East and Africa, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. Their strategy is to share, not invade, and it’s working, much to the chagrin of the American oligarchs.
China’s biggest international trade project was announced in 2013 and pursued enthusiastically since then. It is their Belt and Road Initiative and it is already achieving significant advances. According to its website, BRI is a transcontinental long-term policy and investment program which aims at infrastructure development and acceleration of the economic integration of countries along the route of the historic Silk Road. That silk road now crosses the Atlantic to bring economic development to countries such as Chile and Cuba, among others. According to the Belt and Road site, 71 countries are currently taking part in the Initiative, together representing more than a third of the world`s GDP and two thirds of the world`s population.
Is there any hope for a great country that has painted itself into a dark corner where the rich have been permitted to buy the democracy and tailor it to their own dubious purposes, relegating the onetime government to a merely decorative role? What happens when a society weaned on competition foresees a future in which it can no longer compete? Can it still learn valuable lessons from gentler, more humane and egalitarian countries? Or will it resort to even more desperate measures? These are the operative questions. Will the Americans find the answers in time?
Stupidity denotes the inability of a person to understand something due to insufficient intelligence, thus leading to the misinterpretation of a fact. (Thesaurus.com)
How Does The United States Manage to Remain World Leader in Covid 19 Mismanagement?
It’s a magical mix of of stupidity and greed in the most advanced country in the world that makes this seemingly impossible outcome inevitable. Every-man-for-himself, rugged-individualist Americans cannot win against a widespread, highly-contagious virus, regardless of their high tech and bags of money. Winning in this case requires an everyone-pulling-together effort for the common good. It sounds like socialism, doesn’t it. That’s because it is like socialism. Could that be why large segments of Americans are rejecting the collective effort–the masks, the social distancing and prophylactic measures? Whatever the case, stupidity rules.
Like everything else that’s mortally wrong with American society, the collosal losing response to the Covid 19 epidemic is a result of faulty philosophy. As much as Americans love a shooting war, there are no military solutions to a pandemic. Fighting a virus on the rampage requires the rigorous and uniform application of boring preventive measures that are disastrous for the economy in the short term. “Uniform” refers to all sections of the country, all creeds and political persuasions, rich and poor, black and white and all colors in between. America’s current approach to the problem–overlapping and conflicting authority at the federal, state and local levels, and tolerating organized resistence to vital public health measures–is a recipe for disaster. The current disaster has claimed 648,000 lives–and counting–thus far. More than 600,000 unnecessary deaths boggle the mind. This price is far too high. Even so, the country marches stupidly on.
Is this stupidity catching? Yes, and it is highly contagious, thanks principally to the actions and omissions of low people in high places. The word and example of any state governor, legislator, or member of the United States Congress has a following, by default. They are, after all, elected by thousands or even millions of voters. What motivates these seemingly short-sighted politicians to lead their innocent followers into the hell of fatally-flawed public health policies?
Their justification conforms to mindless right-wing, laissez-faire agendas that extend to every aspect of American life, from hands-off-everything government policy to iron-clad opposition to regulating business. Political campaign planners rely on varied agendas to assure the fidelity of their candidates’ followers. These agendas may be ambitious like the megalomaniac Project for a New American Century or simple campaign slogans like “Make America Great Again.”
Everyone with two fingers of forehead understands these problems and their fatal outcomes, but too many adepts of ultra-conservative ideologies prefer to overrule common sense and sane public health policies with their noxious agendas. They not only harm themselves but do untold damage to people near and far (starting with their own elderly family members) by perpetuating the spread of the virus through deadly chain reactions. This is the stupidity of the thoughtless application of the Americans’ sacrosanct “individual freedom.” They are riding that tired old horse into their early graves.
The other collective that wields an unnatural–and unnaturally stupid– influence in American society is that of the merely rich. An American billionaire, no matter how crass, venal or damaging to others, enjoys massive admiration and support in that benighted country, though his or her only merit is posessing a lot of money, no matter how they came by it nor what foolish–or actually dangerous–initiatives they sponsor with it.
Stupidity Goes Hand in Hand with Other Undesirables
Supine stupidity does not come along by itself. It is usually accompanied by a group of undesirable friends and allies with equally noxious effects on American society. Hyper patriotism (and its first cousin, exceptionalism), and primitive religious cults are usually found in first rank of the mix. None of these phenomena are dangerous in and of themselves. As we used to say when we were kids, “It’s a free country.” However, taken together, they contribute to a mode of baseless, unfounded thinking that is not really thinking, rather the parroting of false premises that are useful to ruling elite. The most sinister friend of that group is militarism, fabulously profitable for a few, but mortally dangerous for millions in America and around the world. The patriotic and militarist lies, so easy to propagate in a naive society, have deep roots in America, and will take a long time, if ever, to uproot.
Who Suffers from the Pandemic?
Everybody suffers, some catastrophically, some less, but, directly or indirectly, everybody suffers. Nobody gets off scot-free… except the Chinese, who took universal, rational measures against the pandemic from day one, and never looked back.
The people and organizations who benefit from America’s current level of public-health stupidity are the usual suspects, the same elements who foment and reap benefits from an ignorant, arrogant and bigoted electorate on other playing fields. They’re the country’s smash-and-grab political demagogues first and foremost. Then, of course, there’s Big Pharma, already blessed with an iron-clad law (the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003), that prohibits the government from negotiating prices on medications sold to the Medicare system. Unless that legislation is amended, the economic results for drug companies from Covid vaccines and treatments can be expected to take their profits into another dimension.
What’s to Be Done?
The cure for countries that are occupied by stupidity is not hard to prescribe: it’s educating the country’s young people for life among one’s fellow human beings. The rest is secondary and falls into place once the matter of cordial coexistence is in hand. Though it’s not hard to recommend, this solution is one of life’s most difficult tasks to achieve. This is especially true in a country like the United States with a set of national values based on laser-beam self interest and darkest Darwinian competitiveness, with all of its powerful industrial and economic interests tearing through the society like an amoral buzz saw. Then there’s the question of size. Effecting any change in a land so extensive and varied is a monumental order. All of these elements coinciding make the most fundamental element in the mix–a willingness to convene among people of all types, conditions, and opinions–virtually unachievable. Until that first step is taken, however, nothing is possible. Will the Americans be able to make that move in time? Thereon hinges the future of their country–and the entire world–for better or for worse.
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There’s a line from a great John Lee Hooker song that pops up at our house from time to time and always gets a big laugh: “This is nineteen and fifty-two, baby, I’m gonna turn over a brand new leaf…”
If you’re over the age of 16, you may have discovered by now that it’s not always easy to turn that leaf over, especially if you live in the United States. Large parts of the rest of the world are substantially different. The differences have to do with sovereignty and priorities. In most European countries the citizens rule their own countries by means of highly-respected, honest, and closely monitored democratic governments. As for their criteria, most of them have to do with the wellbeing of the citizens.
In the United States sovereignty rests, through devious indirect control of all three branches of government, in the hands of big interests: Big Oil, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Banks, Big Tobacco, Big Defense Industries… Everthing that could conceivably be privatized has been privatized. Most Americans perceive this as normal. The all-powerful private sector is erroneously seen as a given, but it’s not. It’s a choice. Why would the citizens of an advanced society entrust the running of their country to a small minority of mega-wealthy money jugglers and industrialists with one priority: the absolute rule of the greatest country in the world, with policies that benefit only themselves? What could persuade a sovereign people living under a democratic Constitution to relinquish the rule of the their country to such a band of parasites?
The answer is both simple and complicated. The people have been tricked. It’s been a long time coming, but today big business’s dominance of the United States is pretty much absolute. Who’s going to turn over the new leaf now? And how? And when? One great uncertainty hovers over all the rest: Is it already too late?
All for Profit in the Past, Present and Future
All the trappings of a modern democratic government in the United States are just a shadown drama of shifting kimonos on a rickety, ill-lit stage. In all matters of fundamental importance, American business calls the shots. And we don’t have to guess at their priorities. They are all about securing their own rule and maximizing profit for their managers and stockholders with little or no regard for the hopes and aspirations–and at times the very survival–of everyday people, both at home and abroad. Who are the stockholders, anyway? Curiously it’s mainly the bankers, industrialists and their congressional facilitators, themselves.
Other kinds of issues are considered vital in more truly advanced countries, beginning with the character of their maximum leaders and the impression of sanity and seriousness they project at home and abroad. Every American president since George W. Bush has been perceived by discerning observers, in greater or lesser degree, as a sinister clown. Then there are the principal subjects of concern in any truly advanced country: education, public health, equality of opportunity, racial justice, the climate crisis, truth and decency in dealings with their world neighbors–issues that hardly enter into American government calculations, regardless of which of their political parties–Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee–is in office.
Do you doubt it? Ask any black or brown American. Ask any American family living in a car or on the street, or any head of a family who works two McJobs and still can’t afford to rent a decent home. Question any Iraqi, Afghan, Libyan, Iranian, Somali, Central or South American. Inquire of China, or even Japan, whom America ushered into the history books as the first country to endure not one but two surprise nuclear bombings. (Why two? Because America had two different bomb models, playfully dubbed “Fat Man” and “Little Boy,” and President Truman wanted to test them both in real-world situations.)
A History of Exploitation, Genocide, and Other Iniquities
American colonists from the very beginning felt that they had a God-given right to eliminate the heathen Native Americans. The few that survive today are just a result of a slipshod genocide. Slavery in America rested on the same God-given foundations. Despite a series of poorly-executed laws to end the horrors of slavery after the Civil War, it didn’t die. It mutated. Thanks to Jim Crow laws, passed in all southern states and given a wink and nod from Washington, black people in the south suffered decades more of brutal exploitation. Nor is that sordid heritage over yet. Today the American penal system–the largest in the world–has picked up where Jim Crow left off, disproportionally incarcerating and exploiting black citizens in similar or worse conditions than their slaveholder forbears.
America’s special brand of racism has broken the back of their democracy, a fact that has been highlighted by the recent spate of voter suppression initiatives around the country. The US is home to so many–and such virulent–racists that they can severely limit voting rights through democratic processes alone: racist-majority state legislatures, courts, juries, and police, not to mention the majority of race haters militating in the Republican Party.
Where America Excels
There is one field in which American technology is unsurpassed, and that is the business of communications, persuasion and salesmanship. They have never been bettered in the business of mind twisting, devious salesmanship and the diffusion of false “facts.” They have convinced the majority of American citizens that their country is a hilltop beacon of freedom and democracy with the sacred obligation to take that enviable model abroad to less fortunate countries.
That basic “truth” has given rise to myriad bastard offspring, including the subversion of legitimate governments and “regime change,” assassinations of legitimate political leaders included (Guatemala, Iran, the Republic of the Congo, Chile…). Nor were they averse to outright invasions (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia); along with those that are currently/still brewing (Yemen, Libya, another Afghanistan, Syria, Taiwan, Cuba, Venezuela, another Iraq…)
The American salesmanship voodoo is wonderfully exemplified in the decades-long campaign to involve allied defense establishments in the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II project to develop an advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft. This endeavor began its life in 1992 as a congressional pork-barrel operation situating manufacturing operations in 48 of the 50 states. This is standard operating procedure both for winning widespread backing in Congress and creating a project that would be too big to fail. They were right on both counts, as the project is still stumbling forward 20 years later.
The product is a multi-faulty multi-service fighter plane with expensive and ungainly separate versions for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. It also resembles a textbook fraud, by casting all prospective clients as partners, thereby making them co-responsible for the aircraft’s myriad development glitches, holdups, and astronomical cost overruns. It is, in short, a big-B boondoggle, the most expensive weapons system in military history, to the tune of $1.7 trillion. Aviation and military procurement insiders refer to it as “the fighter plane that sank the Pentagon.” According to an article in Forbes (Feb. 23, 2021), the US Air Force has just declared the F-35 unfit for duty. “The 25-ton stealth warplane has become the very problem it was supposed to solve. And now America needs a new fighter to solve that F-35 problem.” One wonders about the experts from other countries who signed on to the program. What convinced them, the carrot or the stick? Do they have important stock portfolios? Do their kids go to elite schools in America?
A Grisly Endgame
American business had its demise dialled into its DNA. As companies became more concentrated and monopolistic, with more advantages and fewer controls engineered by their legislative arm, more of their domestic competitors were driven to the wall. That led to layoffs and deteriorating conditions for workers. Little by little big business in America was killing the market it needed to stay afloat and now the job is almost finished. Ironically, this process, while stifling trade in America, opened up fabulous opportunities for the Chinese, who are creating millions of jobs and getting rich as America’s manufacturing arm.
China’s annual Gross Domestic Product growth rate has hovered just under 10% since 1978 when they began reforming their economy, never dropping below 7.9%, even during the pandemic. By way of comparison, the US GDP growth rate over that same period never reached 5%. These numbers go a long way towards explaining America’s perception of China today as an arch enemy. The Americans have always had trouble distinguishing between adversaries and enemies. The difference seems to be: you can bomb the latter. This last graph reflects the growth of Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States over the past two decades. They’re buying up their last viable competitor.
Two of the sectors that still thrive in the US are the so-called “defense industries” and financial services. The needs of the former dictate America’s policy of forever war, making defense a distinctly risky business. The latter are essential to the management of the fortunes of America’s 20.27 million millionaires and 724 billionaires, none of whom sleep in their cars nor on the street.
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Let’s start with “exceptional.” It’s not complicated. Something exceptional is out of the ordinary, usually on the positive side: an exceptional athlete, an exceptional writer or teacher or mechanic… From there to American Exceptionalism in the current sense is a long leap.
Stephen M. Walt is a professor of international relations at Harvard University. Writing on ForeignPolicy.com, October 11, 2011, Walt characterizes America’s unique exceptionalism with cool realism:
Most statements of “American exceptionalism” presume that America’s values, political system, and history are unique and worthy of universal admiration. They also imply that the United States is both destined and entitled to play a distinct and positive role on the world stage.
The only thing wrong with this self-congratulatory portrait of America’s global role is that it is mostly a myth. Although the United States possesses certain unique qualities — from high levels of religiosity to a political culture that privileges individual freedom — the conduct of U.S. foreign policy has been determined primarily by its relative power and by the inherently competitive nature of international politics. By focusing on their supposedly exceptional qualities, Americans blind themselves to the ways that they are a lot like everyone else.
Nevertheless, Americans are undoubtedly exceptional, if not always in good ways. As Walt points out, they’re uniquely unaware of the ways they are like everyone else. That fact alone negates most of the exceptional rights Americans–especially those in power–like to arrogate to themselves in their dealings with other countries. Manifest Destiny didn’t disappear with the Mexican War nor the snatching of Hawaii. It’s still alive and kicking, though a long series of American governments have pretended–and continue to pretend–not to notice. They prefer to emphasize the supposed democratizing effects of American intervention. That is a bald lie of course, but they’ve been peddling it more or less successfully for generations. Lately, however, it’s growing exceptionally thin.
Under the immense influence of the military/industrial complex and loose-cannon, high-tech American billionaires like Robert Mercer with his sinister election-meddling dwarves, American government–and ultimately American society–changed radically. With virtually absolute power over America’s priorities this new ruling clique permitted itself the luxury of taking off the gloves and baring its fists both at home and abroad. As a consequence people, both east and west, are living worse lives, if they’re living at all.
The American power elite consider their military supremacy a determining factor, the definitive justification for imposing their truculent rule everywhere. But they hadn’t counted on the remarkable resilience of poor people defending their homelands, nor the rise of China, nor the implications of a China-Russia coalition. And when the Taliban reared its turbanned head last week and booted the occupiers out of Afghanistan after 20 years, the geopolitical world experienced a sea change. America’s undisputed world suzerainty had ended.
It’s no mystery that the United States has always been a place where the playing field was tilted in favor of big enterprise. The American rich can now purchase politicians and, through them, impose their wills on the country and the world. This reality goes a long way towards explaining why many foreign countries look askance at American-style democracy, which suddenly doesn’t have any clothes on.
How Are They Exceptional? Let Me Count the Ways
The Americans are exceptional for still trying to sell the “Free World,” which Neil Young dismounted utterly in 1989 with his brilliantly cheeky “Rockin’ in the Free World.” To mention the Free World today in enlightened company elicits a snort-beer-through-the-nose hilarity.
They’re exceptional for losing wars one after another to theoretically much weaker countries. How do they manage that?
Their response to the Covid-19 pandemic was so exceptional–the worst in the world–that I won’t bother elaborating on it. The interesting sidebar on this story is how the pandemic revealed a major flaw in American-style democracy. Americans have so much “freedom” that the government couldn’t implement an effective universal plan to fight the virus, and they paid the consequences with more than half a million deaths. China, on the other hand, an unvarnished dictatorship, dictated a set of regulations that stopped the virus in its tracks and permitted social and economic life in their country to go on as usual and steal a march on the rest of the world in the process.
Their firearms policies, which are careening from the ridiculous to the sublimely insane, are unique in the world, truly exceptional. Though school shootings figure first in American press coverage, gun suicide numbers are much higher, especially among war veterans. All of them should have been prevented decades ago. The Second Amendment is just a smokescreen.
Their recent foreign-policy blunders, at the hands of Antony Blinken, a truly exceptional Secretary of State, are making observers around the world ask themselves about the qualifications of the man who appointed him.
Their exceptional education system precludes most young Americans, including black and brown youth, from getting college educations. And those who do manage to graduate are saddled with terminally debilitating college debt.
Their responce to hard-core American racism–in all of its manifestations, from police brutality on the streets, to mandatory sentencing in the courts and disproportionate presence of minority inmates in American prisons–is pathetically exceptional.
You Can Take the Boy Out of the Country…
Even the most liberal Americans are tarred by their country’s uber-patriotic, exceptionalist brush. It was inevitable. They were all born and raised under the American bell jar, obliged to breathe toxic air and drink tainted water, both literally and figuratively. Even the best efforts of left-wing professors are incapable of changing those perceptions. America is where young Americans got their first driver’s license, their best friend, their first kiss. In all fairness, America has undeniable attractions–the mountains and seashores, those amber waves of grain. It’s a land of opportunity, if only for a fast-diminishing few. It has brilliant, committed minds like those of Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges and all the other clear-eyed thinkers and truth tellers. But it doesn’t have enough of them to offset the dream of the quick buck, glittering consumerism, the greatest brain-washing operation the world has ever seen, and the promise of eternity up in heaven, speaking in tongues.
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The fallout from Biden’s decision to pull his troops out of Afghanistan has left a new balance of winners and losers in the 20-year-old Afghan game.
President Biden’s Abrupt Decision to Pull Out Has Repositioned the World
The Taliban have just taken Kabul without firing a shot. It’s not a joke, though it certainly plays out like one. Who facilitated this grave and unexpected sea change in the delicate Afghanistan situation? It was President Biden, actually, by telegraphing his intention to pull all American troops out of that beleaguered country by September 11, thereby leaving the gates of Kabul wide open to Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Commander of the Taliban Faithful. Akhundzada’s troops are fortuitiously reinforced lately by all the great American war-making equipment they recovered from fleeing Afghan troops. Get used to the Taliban leader’s name. You’re going to be seeing and hearing it a lot in the future.
As things stand right now 11:30 a.m., Granada time, Tuesday, August 17, 2021, American and Taliban soldiers have managed to clear the airstrip at Bagram Airport where masses of people are waiting–hoping against hope–to be airlifted out. Planes are now landing and taking off at a brisk pace, essentially the time it takes them to load. The first flight out this morning was a C-17 transport plane carrying 120 Indian diplomats and embassy workers. It landed at the Indian Air Force base at Jamnagar, the largest city on the western side of India, at 11:15 a.m. local time.
President Joe Biden has lost none of his American chutzpah during these trying times. This morning he was reported as threatening the Taliban with immediate retaliation to any attempt on America or American interests. With American aircraft taking off and landing by the mercy of Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada (remember him?) and with his 6,000 troops surrounded by some 85,000 Taliban fighters, high on victory, Biden’s bravado sounds a bit foolhardy.
The fallout from Biden’s decision to pull his troops out of Afghanistan has left a new balance of winners and losers in the 20-year-old Afghan game. Let’s look at them in order of merit:
The Taliban have fought relentlessly for military and political dominance of their country for nearly 20 years. In the eyes of many of their countrymen they are the heroes who have finally managed to boot out the foreign invaders.
The Chinese, who have deployed and continue to deploy a sane, sensible foreign policy–no war, no bases, no threats, offering just mutually beneficial development and infrustructure assistance to Afghanistan and other appropriate countries around the world. (What is meant by “appropriate?” It means countries with valuable natural resources who need help to exploit them and otherwise develop their countries.)
Donald Trump and his sector of the Republican Party. With so much at stake and so much of that up in the air, the ex-president’s credibility, vis a vis that of the current president, has taken a massive leap forward, a step that significantly advances his cause in the 2022 mid-term elections and beyond.
All of America’s adversaries, whose objectives instantly shine a little bit brighter.
Ironically, we are obliged to add to this list of potential winners the American Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex. Despite their ongoing 20-year cockup in Afghanistan and their recent blindness to emerging Afghan geopolitical realities, American governments will always place their trust in military solutions. So the great arms developers, manufacturers and traffickers will no doubt continue their lugubrious triunfal march. Will they convince President Biden that, given his latest world-class fumble and its repercussions for American prestige around the world, he might recover some of his credibility by going back to war against the Taliban? Almost nobody has any confidence in his proposed “counterterrorism-from- over-the-horizon solution.”
USNews.com paints a rock-and-a-hard-place metaphor:
This defining moment for Biden’s legacy has been met with growing speculation that the U.S. may have to return to its longest war zone as the Taliban continues to take ground, execute America’s local allies and, many fear, position itself to overrun the U.S.-backed government in Kabul. But the situation on the ground, along with the domestic appetite for furthering U.S. conflicts abroad, make that impossible. Political and logistical realities have shifted dramatically in and around the country, and other powers in the region, namely Russia and China, are actively working to prevent the U.S. from ever re-entering.
President Joe Biden. As if he didn’t have enough problems already, President Biden has committed a massive–and massively evident–mistake. He has left himself, his country, his allies and the Afghan people at the mercy of the Taliban, a dangerous, fanatical religious movement that now seems to hold all of Afghanistan in its grip.
The Democratic party, inextricably linked to Biden and his mega-faux pas.
For the American people, who are not feeling terrible buoyant right now, this turn of events can only increase their feelings of instability and uncertainty.
The US intelligence services. These may not be as intelligent as we thought.
The Afghan people. The magnitude of this loss will depend upon the severity of the Taliban regime.
Many of the world’s investors, right down to the IMF, who will find Afghanistan’s fabulous mineral riches not quite such a sure investment as they were three days ago. Afghanistan has over 1,400 mineral fields, containing barite, chromite, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, naturalgas, petroleum, precious and semi-precious stones, salt, sulfur, talc, and zinc, among many other minerals. Gemstones include high-quality emerald, lapis lazuli, red garnet and ruby. According to a joint study by The Pentagon and the United States Geological Survey, Afghanistan has an estimated US$1 trillion of untapped minerals. (Source: Wikipedia)
President Biden’s Image Chipped and Tarnished
For many of us, Joe Biden has been on thin ice from the outset of his presidency. It was clear that he was nobody’s first choice, with the possible exception of the Democratic National Committee. They would prefer a reliable old pol from the entrails of the machine. But he’s too old. He’s doddering a little bit. The backup he gets from his staff is lackluster at best. At this point in his trajectory he badly needs a resounding victory, not an abject defeat. The worst of this situation is that it’s not just a personal setback. It’s a humiliation for his country. And his country is the United States of America.
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It has been 10 years since then-president Donald Trump made his despective remarks about “shithole countries” that raised such a brouhaha at home and abroad. According to the LA Times on the following day the offending words were:
“What do we want Haitians here for?” the president asked, according to the people briefed. “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?” Then he added ludicrously, “We should have people from places like Norway.”
LA Times, Jan. 11, 2018
I think it’s time to deconstruct the declaration. ·What, exactly, is a shithole country? What are its salient characteristics? How do we identify it? What, if anything, can we learn from the former president’s declaration? What do the shithole countries tend to have in common. Shall we make a list?
Getting a Grip on the Elusive Shithole
They tend to be run by a coterie of dishonest and ruthless politicos who serve at the behest of shadowy monied interests.
They skim so much wealth off the top of their country’s economy that there is virtually nothing left for basic services and infrastructures for the society at large.
They are run along military/police lines. These two sectors have carte blanche.
What little wealth generated is siphoned off by non-resident, usually foreign owners.
Their communication with their citizens have nothing to do with truth or utility, rather political expediency.
The court of last resort in most of these countries has little to do with the judiciary. It’s often the clandestine services.
Education–the key to true democracy–in these countries is disconsidered and underfinanced. Schools for the children of the masses of the population are left to crumble and teachers are underrated, under-equipped and underpaid. Think of the importance good teachers had in your own life. Where would you be without them? The sons and daughters of the ruling elite have the option to attend exclusive schools, abroad.
Firearms policies in the worst of these countries are notoriously lax or unenforced. Legally-armed crazies roam the streets unsettling and destabilizing the citizens, who find themselves perpetually on the wrong foot. “Will I make it safely home from work today. Will I be gunned down in my workplace? Will my children be safe at school? Will they make it home safely? Shall I buy them bullet-proof book bags?” The absurdity of the non-regulation of firearms reinforces the absurdity all the other potential dangers the government fails to regulate: rents, living wages, killer capitalism, and everything else designed to clog the prosperity funnel that drains wealth from the poor to the rich. The trickle-down theory is shithole economics.
Exaggerated levels of nationalism and a perverted “patriotism” permeate the worst of these societies from cradle to grave, and degrade its values. A noxious by-product of these is the default justification of heinous human-rights abuses in other people’s countries. The ultimate expression of this thinking is overweening, forever-war militarism.
Besides being a plague on their neighbors, these countries show utter disregard for the rights and welfare of their own citizens, as if these were a burden on national resources, not the exact opposite: the very essence and reason-for-being of an honest and truly democratic government. The most egregious examples of this phenomenon are racial minorities, who are the brunt of the worst injustices that flawed countries can dish out, whether at home, in the streets on in the prisons.
Wait, There’s More
The usual trope of shithole countries is some sort of castrated, conditional so-called democracy with its hands tied by self-seeking politicos engendering democracy-crippling legislation like the Patriot Acts or high court decisions like Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.
A pervading climate of hate permeates all. The left hates the right, the right hates the left. The rich hate the poor and vice versa. The whites hate the blacks and everybody hates the Russians, who also happen to put their trousers on one leg at a time. In these militarized societies nobody seems to be able to distinguish between adversaries and enemies. To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Poverty is weaponized. A father or mother who is worrying about where their children’s next meal is coming from, or whether they’re going to be evicted at the end of the month, is in no condition to demand decent social services or a living wage. It is this impoverished lumpenproletariat (Source: Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto) that pays the price of justification of paupers’ conditions for the whole society. Without them the ruling thugs have no-one to point to as examples of just how sordid they can make your life.
Where to Apply These Damning Epithets
That’s up to you, dear reader. You are the jury and the judge.You must decide where to direct your hammer. But before you strike, permit me the luxury of citing a few words from the poet, Robert Burns. They’re archly familiar and seem to me to be particularly apt in this case:
O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us!