It is amusing to see how eagerly the establishment media have welcomed Steven Pinker’s 2011 tome, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,[1] which explains not only that “violence has been in decline for long stretches of time,” but that “we may be living in the most peaceful era in our species’ existence.”[2] 

A professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University since 2002 and a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist in the general nonfiction category,[3] Pinker’s lovable theme coincides with the Nobel Peace Laureate’s current engagement in wars on at least four separate continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America); his regretful partial withdrawal from invaded and occupied Iraq; his victorious termination of the 2011 war in Libya; his buildup and threats to engage in even larger wars with Syria and Iran, both already underway with aggressive sanctions and an array of covert actions;[4] his semi-secret and ever-widening use of remote-controlled aerial gunships and death squads in global killing operations;[5] and his declaration of the right to kill any person anywhere for “national security” reasons—officially making the entire world a U.S. free-fire-zone.[6]  The Barack Obama regime, and before it the Bush-Cheney regime, have also supported and protected Israel’s escalated ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and the hostile U.S. actions and threats involving Iran and Syria are closely geared with those of Israel. 

Whereas in Pinker’s view there has been a “Long Peace” since the end of the Second World War,[7]  in the real world there has been a series of long and devastating U.S. wars: in the Koreas (1950-1953), Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia (1954-1975), Iraq (1990-), Afghanistan (2001- or, arguably, 1979-), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1996-), with the heavy direct involvement of U.S. clients from Rwanda (Paul Kagame) and Uganda (Yoweri Museveni) in large-scale Congo killings; and Israel’s outbursts in Lebanon (1982 and 2006), to name a few.  There were also very deadly wars in Iran, invaded by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (1980-1988), with Western encouragement and support.  And with the stimulus-excuse of 9/11, the U.S. political and “defense” establishment was able to declare a global “War on Terror,” open-ended and still ongoing, to assure that the “Long Peace” would not be interrupted by a conflict that met the Pinkerian standards for a real war.

In the same time frame as Pinker’s “New Peace,” alleged to have begun with the dissolution of the Soviet bloc, the Warsaw Pact, and of the Soviet Union itself (1989-1991), we have also witnessed the relentless expansion of the U.S.-led NATO bloc, its 1990s war on and dismantlement of Yugoslavia,[8] its acceptance of new “out of area” responsibilities for “security,”[9] its steadily enlarging membership from 16 to 28 states, including the Baltic and former Eastern European satellites of the Soviet Union, and a growing U.S. and NATO encirclement of and threats to China and Russia.[10]  And during the first decade of the 21st century, the United States openly embarked on the systematic use of  “enhanced interrogations” (i.e., torture) and the frequent resort to “extraordinary renditions” that send captives to torture-prone clients for some not-so-angelic working over.[11]

Pinker’s standard for an interruption of the “Long Peace” would be a war between the “great powers,” and it is true that the major Axis and Allied powers that fought each other during World War II have not made war among themselves since 1945.  But Pinker carries this line of thought even further: He contends not only that the “democracies avoid disputes with each other,” but that they “tend to stay out of disputes across the board,” (283) an idea he refers to as the “Democratic Peace.”[12] (278-284)  This will surely come as a surprise to the many victims of U.S. assassinations, sanctions, subversions, bombings and invasions since 1945.[13]  For Pinker, no attack on a lesser power by one or more of the great democracies counts as a real war or confutes the “Democratic Peace,” no matter how many people die.

“Among respectable countries,” Pinker writes, “conquest is no longer a thinkable option.  A politician in a democracy today who suggested conquering another country would be met not with counterarguments but with puzzlement, embarrassment, or laughter.” (260)  This is an extremely silly assertion.  Presumably, when George Bush and Tony Blair sent U.S. and British forces to attack Iraq in 2003, ousted its government, and replaced it with one operating under laws drafted by the Coalition Provisional Authority, this did not count as “conquest,” as these leaders never stated that they launched the war to “conquer” Iraq, but rather “to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”[14]  What conqueror has ever pronounced as his goal something other than self-defense and the protection of life and limb?  It is on the basis of devices such as this that Pinker’s “Long Peace,” “New Peace,” and “Democratic Peace” rest.  (See “Massaging the Numbers,” below.)

And it is in this kind of context Pinker throws-in his “gentle commerce” theme by advancing the so-called “Golden Arches Peace” idea—that “no two countries with a McDonald’s have ever fought in a war.”  The “only unambiguous” exception that he can name occurred in 1999, “when NATO briefly bombed Yugoslavia.” (285)  In an endnote he mentions that an “earlier marginal exception was the U.S. attack on Panama in 1989,” but he dismisses this U.S. war as too insignificant to make the grade—“its death count falls short of the minimum required for a war according to the standard definition,”[15] though according to the UN Charter and customary international law, there was nothing sub-standard about this unambiguous U.S. aggression against a sovereign country.  Here as in many other places, Pinker selects the estimated death toll that minimizes the U.S.-inflicted casualties and fits his political agenda.[16]

Pinker mentions in passing that the post-World War II peace among the giants was possibly a result of the immense cost of wars that might involve a nuclear exchange—and it did extend to the Soviet Union during its post-World War II life—but his explanation focuses mainly on the cultural evolution and biological adaptations of the Civilized,[17] in contrast with the Uncivilized of the Third World.  Why this new peaceableness of the Civilized does not stop their violent interventions abroad he fails to explain.  The exclusion of wars against the Uncivilized from his definition of a “Long Peace” reflects gross political bias.

Pinker attributes the sense of increased violence to multiple “illusions,” one of which he believes is caused by the development of media and other advanced forms of communication that allow a rushing to the spot of bloody events, and recording them and transmitting them to the world.   As he explained in a guest appearance on CBS TV’s The Early Show in mid-December 2011: “Not only can we send a helicopter with a film crew to any troubled spot in the world but now anyone with a cell phone is an instant reporter.  They can broadcast color footage of bloodshed wherever it occurs and so we’re very aware of it.”[18]  Apparently Pinker believes that the media cover the world on a non-discriminatory basis, reporting on Guatemalan peasants slaughtered by their army, civilian victims of U.S. drone warfare in Afghanistan, Honduran protesters shot dead by their own military, and dead and injured U.S. soldiers as aggressively as they report on civilian protesters shot dead on the streets of Tehran, or the victims of the Syrian government or of the late Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.[19]  The naiveté here is staggering.

Pinker’s “Long Peace” and “New Peace” and their alleged declines of violence not only coincide with the numerous and ongoing attacks by the giants on the midgets, the huge expansion in arms, and the new “burgeoning” of  torture,[20] but runs parallel with the increasing structural violence of a global class war that has resulted in growing inequality within and between countries, systematic dispossession of vast numbers, a widespread seizure of the commons, major migrations, growing cities of slums, increased ethnic tensions and anti-Islamic fervor, deliberately stoked in a troubled, receptive environment, mass incarceration of minority populations, and more vocal oppositional forces both here and abroad.[21]  These do not constitute “violence” in Pinker’s accounting system.

Pinker’s “Cold War”

Although Pinker covers a great deal of ground from the earliest humans to the present, with numerous figures and learned citations, Better Angels is an overwhelmingly ideological work, with biases that reveal themselves at every level—sourcing, language, framing, historical and political context, and substance—and on all topics.

Consider this example:

You would think that the disappearance of the gravest threat in the history of humanity [i.e., a NATO-Warsaw Pact nuclear war] would bring a sigh of relief among commentators on world affairs.  Contrary to expert predictions, there was no invasion of Western Europe by Soviet tanks, no escalation of a crisis in Cuba or Berlin or the Middle East to a nuclear holocaust.  The cities of the world were not vaporized; the atmosphere was not poisoned by radioactive fallout or choked with debris that blacked out the sun and sent Homo sapiens the way of the dinosaurs.  Not only that, but a reunited Germany did not turn into the fourth reich, democracy did not go the way of monarchy, and the great powers and developed nations did not fall into a third world war but rather a long peace, which keeps getting longer. (295)

This is of course rhetoric, but it is saturated with political bias, straw persons, and literal errors: The nuclear war-threat has not disappeared, and two cities of the world were vaporized, with a quarter of a million civilians killed in two quick strokes, but this was done by Pinker’s home country, just as nuclear war remains “on the table” and  nuclear arms continue to be an integral part of  the arsenal of the United States, NATO, Israel, and India (the last shielded outside the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons by the new “strategic partnership” between the United States and India since July 2005[22])—and all despite the United States’ and the other four original nuclear weapons-states’ promise in 1968 to work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.[23]

Pinker is also misinformed that “expert predictions” were that Soviet tanks would occupy Europe—he confuses expert opinion and Cold War propaganda.  The Soviet Union had been devastated during World War II, and sought loans from the United States in the post-war negotiations; it was a conservative and cautious international actor, and had no nuclear weapon till 1949.  John Foster Dulles himself noted that “I do not know of any responsible high official, military or civilian…who believes that the Soviet now plans conquest by open military aggression” (i.e., via Pinker’s “invasion of Western Europe by Soviet tanks”).[24]  Writing in 1946-1947, U.S. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes clearly did not expect any Soviet military attacks on Western Europe.[25]  He, Dulles, and other officials were mainly worried about Soviet political influence over Western publics, local leaders, and “infiltration” and “subversion,” which they countered with money, arms, agreements with local leaders, and their own “infiltrators” and “subversion.”  Few if any real experts expected the resulting Federal Republic of Germany to turn into a “fourth Reich,” but some may have been surprised when the United States and West Germany violated early promises to Mikhail Gorbachev and his Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in early 1990 not to extend NATO further to the east, in exchange for Moscow’s acquiescence to the reunification of East and West Germany later in 1990.[26]  Pinker fails to discuss this peace-threatening development, or even mention the existence of the early promise to Moscow.  Indeed, he comments that German reunification and NATO expansion “had no discernible effect on the Long Peace among developed countries, and it presaged a New Peace among developing ones.”  (674)

In another blatant display of internalized Cold War ideology, Pinker writes that a “romantic, militarized communism inspired the expansionist programs of the Soviet Union and China, who wanted to give a helping hand to the dialectical process by which the proletariat or peasantry would vanquish the bourgeoisie and establish a dictatorship in country after country.  The Cold War was the product of the determination of the United States to contain this movement at something close to its boundaries at the end of World War II.” (244-245)   So, just as no U.S. politician would suggest “conquering” another country, the U.S. foreign policy regime has been strictly defensive, containing the expansionist enemy.

This is an Orwellian inversion of real history, as neither the Soviet Union nor China displayed any “expansionist program” after World War II—the Soviet Union never expanded beyond its postwar boundaries and the settlement at Yalta.  They did give some modest, mainly rhetorical support to leftist and anti-U.S. forces at a distance, but the United States not only planned a postwar imperial expansion during World War II in its “Grand Area” strategies,[27] it actually did expand across the globe, as it fought to contain indigenous nationalist, independence, and social democratic movements, supporting counterrevolution and numerous rightwing and authoritarian regimes on every continent.[28]  There are important publicly available documents describing U.S. plans and programs to destabilize, subvert and replace the Soviet Union,[29] and to intervene to shape and reshape the Third World in a manner that Pinker would surely call subversion and democracy-busting if attributable to communist powers.[30]  But Pinker does not mention them.  And for Pinker, the United States never pursued a “romantic” or self-serving agenda during the “Long Peace,” and it gave no “helping hand” to those who, like Mobutu in Zaire, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Suharto in Indonesia, and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, would support a “free [even if corrupt] market” and investor rights.  The United States only responded to communist plans and threats.

But the Soviets made no distant moves comparable to the U.S. overthrow of Mossadegh and the installation of the Shah dictatorship in Iran in 1953,[31] its Korean and Indochinese wars, its close support of the Indonesian military coup and massacres in 1965-1966, its support of the South African apartheid regimes in Angola, Namibia and Mozambique, as well as South Africa itself (recall the CIA role in capturing and imprisoning Nelson Mandela), and its heavy involvement in the establishment of military and terror regimes in Brazil, Chile, and throughout Latin America in the post-World War II era.[32]  In the case of the central U.S. role in the violent overthrow of a democratic government of Guatemala in 1954, there was a loud official and media claim of a Soviet threat there, but this was a false propaganda cover for the desire to control and establish a completely subservient client in place of one that contested the United Fruit Company’s huge influence over policy.[33]  But in the U.S. establishment ideology of the Cold War, which Pinker has internalized and repeats throughout his Better Angels, the United States was simply defending the Free World against communist expansionism!

Disappearing Imperialism, the Military-Industrial Complex, and Institutional Imperatives

Pinker’s remarkable inversion of  reality in portraying the post-World War II period as a “Long Peace,” with residual violence stemming from communist ideology and actions, points up the relevance of Chalmers Johnson’s comment that “When imperialist activities produce unmentionable outcomes,…then ideological thinking kicks in.”[34]  It kicks in for Pinker with communist expansionism and U.S. “containment.”  It also kicks in with his notion that communism, but not capitalism, was both “utopian” and “essentialist,” “submerge[ing] individuals into moralized categories,” and causing some of the worst atrocities of the modern period. (328-329)  But weren’t the racism and anticommunism of the Western powers and in particular the United States “essentialist” ideologies in the Pinkerian sense, and wedded to the “full destructive might” of these powers?  And didn’t these ideologies justify exterminations and massive ethnic cleansings of inferior and threatening peoples, replacing them with advanced peoples and cultures who put resources to a higher use?  Weren’t Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and many other members of the Chicago School of Economics “free-market” ideologues?

The U.S. push for markets and investor rights and political control, sometimes called Imperialism, is for Pinker just natural and doing good, taking advantage of positive-sum business games with “gentle commerce,” as well as containing those with ideology who kill people freely. “The very idea of a capitalist peace is a shock to those who remember when capitalists were considered ‘merchants of death’ and ‘masters of war’,” (288) to give one example of Pinker’s perspective.[35]  Pinker doesn’t mention any such thing as “aggressive commerce” or discuss the possibility (and reality) of the cross-border seizure of property by the more powerful states.  There are 17 citations to “gentle commerce” in his Index, and writers who promulgate the related ideas of “gentle commerce,” “Democratic Peace,” “Liberal Peace,” “Capitalist Peace,” and “Kantian Peace” (in the Pinker-friendly version of it) are featured and referenced lavishly.  But there are zero indexed citations to the word “imperialism” in Better Angels, and no mentions of Jagdish Bhagwati and Hugh Patrick’s Aggressive Unilateralism, John Hobson’s Imperialism, John Ellis’ The Social History of the Machine Gun, Mike Davis’ Late Victorian Holocausts, Penny Lernoux’s Cry of the People, Gabriel Kolko’s Confronting the Third World, Noam Chomsky’s Deterring Democracy, Robert Engler’s The Politics of Oil, or David Harvey’s The New Imperialism.

Pinker’s ideological thinking stresses the development of positive and humane attitudes by individuals—in the Civilized states—moving them towards humane policy, opposition to slavery, concern for civilians in war, and moves toward democracy, while he essentially ignores the development of institutional forces that might overwhelm these individual factors and make for serious violence.

In addition to his neglect of “aggressive commerce” and cross-border seizures of people, property, and resources, Pinker ignores the post-World War II growth of U.S. militarism, with its vested interests in weapons and warfare, and the expanding and self-reinforcing power of the ”iron triangle” of the military-industrial-complex to shape national policy.  This may be why he never mentions, let alone discusses, the classics on this topic by Seymour Melman, Gordon Adams, Richard Kaufman, and Tom Gervasi,[36] or the more recent work of Chalmers Johnson, Andrew Bacevich, Henry Giroux, Nick Turse, and Winslow Wheeler.[37]  These very knowledgeable individuals believe that Eisenhower’s warning in his 1960 Farewell Address about the threat of the military-industrial complex was on target, that the United States is dominated by an institutional structure with a huge vested interest in war rather than peace, and one that has succeeded in making this country into a war-demanding and war-making system.  These and other analysts have also featured the encroachment of the permanent-war system on civil liberties and democracy,[38] suggesting that any neo-Fukuyaman perspective on “end-of-history” liberalism and Pinker’s streaky but steady decline in violence is Panglossian nonsense grounded in ideological thinking.

Pinker prefers James Sheehan to Chalmers Johnson and Andrew Bacevich.  Sheehan’s theme in Where Have All the Soldiers Gone: The Transformation of Modern Europe[39] is that Europeans have changed their very conception of the state, and made the state “no longer the proprietor of military force” but rather “a provisioner of social security and material well-being” (in Pinker’s  summary of the book (268)).  But the soldiers are still there, NATO is still expanding, Modern Europe is contributing troops and bombs to the Afghan war, was heavily involved in the 2011 war in Libya, and along with the United States, currently threatens Syria and Iran.  Europe’s social security systems have been under attack for years, and the well-being of ordinary citizens seems to be a declining objective of Europe’s leaders, as well as those in the United States.  Following the U.S. lead, Europe is moving from “cradle-to-grave nurturance” back to “military prowess”—exactly the opposite direction from that Pinker believes they have taken. (685)

Vietnam and the Antiwar Protests

Pinker’s proof of a march toward peace has other amusing features.  He says that “another historic  upheaval in the landscape of 20th century values was a resistance by the populations of the democratic nations to their leaders’ plans for war,” (263) and he spends a fair amount of space describing the growth of peace movement activism in the 1960s and in advance of the war on Iraq.  Yet, elsewhere in his book he blames the 1960s movements for their “decivilizing” impact (see our section on “Class, Race, and the ‘Science of Self-Control’”), but in the present context they allow him to claim their actions as evidence of the march toward the “Long Peace.”  Pinker claims that in the 1960s the peace movement helped elect Nixon, who “shifted the country’s war plans from a military victory to a face-saving withdrawal (though not before another twenty thousand Americans and a million Vietnamese had died in the fighting).” (264)  Elsewhere in his book Pinker writes that the “war was ferociously prosecuted” by Nixon—and that plus 20,000 Americans and a million more Vietnamese would seem like big-time war-making. (683)  But the peace movement’s alleged help in getting Nixon elected is Pinker’s evidence for the advance of the “better angels.”

Pinker fails to explain why before, during, and after the Vietnam war the elites have been so little influenced by the masses marching in the streets.  Why must the masses even march in the streets?   Why must the elites continue to engage in military buildups and serious violence, at heavy economic cost, when according to his preferred expert James Sheehan the state is abandoning military force and focusing on the material well-being of the public?  If institutional forces are not the explanation, why don’t the “better angels” trickle up to the leadership, especially when in his view the higher morality trickles down from the elite to the general population?

According to Pinker, “The three deadliest postwar conflicts were fueled by Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese communist regimes that had a fanatical dedication to outlasting their opponents.” (308)  As regards Vietnam, he goes on to show that the Vietnamese were willing to absorb large casualties inflicted on them by the U.S. invaders.  For Pinker, this is the fanaticism that fueled the Vietnam war.  There is not a word of criticism of the invaders who were willing to inflict those deaths in a distant land; certainly nothing “fanatical,” no mention of the UN Charter, no word like aggression is applied to this attack; and there is no mention anywhere in the book that the United States had supported the French effort at re-colonization, then supported a dictatorship of  its own choosing; and that U.S. officials recognized that those fanatical resisters had majority support as we killed vast numbers of them to keep in power our imposed minority government.  While acknowledging 800,000 or more “civilian battle deaths” in the Vietnam war, Pinker does not stop to explain how vast numbers of civilians could be killed in “battle” and whether these deaths might possibly represent a gross violation of the laws of war, or how this could happen in an era of rising morality and humanistic feelings, and carried out so ruthlessly by the dominant Civilized power.

Nowhere does Pinker mention the massive U.S. chemical warfare in Vietnam (1961-1970), and the estimated “three million Vietnamese, including 500,000 children,…suffering from the effects of toxic chemicals” used during this ugly and very unangelic form of warfare.[40] What makes this suppression especially interesting is that Pinker cites the outlawing and non-use of chemical and biological weapons as evidence of the new evolving higher morality and decline of violence (273-277)—so his dodging of the facts on the massive use of such weapons in Operation Ranch Hand and other U.S. programs in Vietnam is remarkable dishonesty.

Pinker would never think of accepting Vietnamese communist estimates of casualties, just as he does not hesitate to use numbers provided by the U.S. State Department.[41]  But nowhere are Pinker’s biases more blatantly obvious than in this allocation of Vietnamese “civilian battle deaths” to the fanaticism of the communist resistance in not surrendering to an invader unleashing incredible violence from abroad for reasons its own leaders had difficulty settling on.

Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Pinker’s bias is also extremely clear when he gets to explaining the new morality applied by his country in assaulting Iraq.  According to Pinker, the “Vietnam syndrome” has caused the U.S. leadership to shy away from wars that will cause many U.S. casualties or impose massive civilian casualties on foreigners. He writes that “Military leaders at all levels have become aware that gratuitous killing is a public relations disaster at home and counterproductive abroad alienating allies and emboldening enemies. The Marine Corps has therefore instituted a martial-arts program in which leathernecks are indoctrinated in a new mode of honor, the Ethical Marine Warrior,” whose “catechism” is that the warrior is a “protector of life,” including not just self  and others but “all others.” (264-265)  After he recounts a long story (“allegory”) with a humanistic touch applied to the behavior of U.S. soldiers, Pinker says that “The code of the Ethnical Warrior, even as an aspiration, shows that the American armed forces have come a long way from a time when its soldiers referred to Vietnamese peasants as gooks, slops, and slants and when the military was slow to investigate  atrocities against civilians such as the massacre at My Lai.” (265-266)

Pinker provides no evidence that U.S. warriors today don’t refer to Iraqis and other invaded peoples with derogatory terms (e.g., “Haji”[42]), or that the Marine Warrior Code is even a genuine “aspiration” as opposed to a P.R. effort, or that it is actually “indoctrinated,” let alone taken seriously.  He ignores the fact that back at the time of the Vietnam War there was a written military code as well as international law on the treatment of civilians that had no apparent impact on actual policy.[43]

He also offers no evidence that the military is more ready now than in the past to investigate atrocities, or that they don’t see the main route to dealing with gratuitous (or strategically convenient and useful) civilian killings as non-investigation, denial, and cover-up.  Pinker does not mention the repeated official assertion by Gen. Tommy Franks, the original commander of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, that “we don’t do body counts,”[44] nor does he discuss the U.S. brutalities and blatantly illegal actions in the destruction of Fallujah in 2004,[45]  the cold-blooded killing in 2005 of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines in the city of Haditha and its long cover-up,[46] or former U.S. Afghanistan force commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s admission before his own troops in 2010 that they had “shot an amazing number” of innocent Afghanis at checkpoints, “but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.”[47]  Pinker does mention WikiLeaks, but only once and in relation to what he describes as a “previously classified civilian casualty database of the American-led military coalition,” that not surprisingly attributed the “majority (around 80 percent) [to] Taliban insurgents rather than coalition forces.” (267)  He does not discuss the well-publicized WikiLeaks release of the formerly “classified U.S. military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad.”[48]  Nor does he mention any of WikiLeaks’ other substantial troves of documents.[49]

In short, for this stream of pro-war apologetics Pinker relies on pure assertion, the uncritical acceptance of official and implausible claims, and a refusal to report inconvenient evidence.

However, when he deals with claims of mass civilian deaths brought about by U.S. policy in Iraq Pinker  becomes much more demanding on the quality of evidence and methodology.  One device that he uses here and elsewhere is to distinguish between the aggression-based killings by the United States during the initial stage he calls “quick” and “low in battle deaths,” and deaths during the “intercommunal violence in the anarchy that followed.” (266)  He fails to mention the Nuremberg condemnation of aggression that ties it closely to deaths that follow:  “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”[50]  He ignores the facts that the civil conflicts were unleashed by the U.S. attack, and that the United States was an ongoing and large direct killer long after the “mission” was declared “accomplished” by George Bush on May 1, 2003.  Fallujah and Haditha were just two of many U.S.-inflicted horrors that followed the announcement of an accomplished mission, and the U.S. invader-occupier was also an active manipulator of the civil conflicts that it unleashed.  On the assumption that Nuremberg principles apply, this entire death-dealing and hugely violent enterprise is the legal and moral responsibility of Pinker’s home country leaders—a point that Pinker evades.

Pinker goes to some pains to discredit the higher-end mortality estimates for both the Iraqi theater of conflict under the U.S. war and occupation and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after its 1996 invasion by Rwanda and Uganda, two key U.S. allies in Central Africa.  Specifically, he criticizes the work of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers, published in the British medical journal The Lancet in October 2006, which reported that 655,000 Iraqis had died during the roughly 40-month period from the March 20, 2003 U.S. invasion through July 2006, with some 601,000 of these deaths due to violence.[51]  He also criticizes the January 2008 report by the Brussels-based International Rescue Committee and the Burnet Institute of the University of Melbourne, which estimated 5.4 million excess deaths from all causes in the eastern DRC for the period 1998 to April 2007.[52]

Pinker asserts that these mortality estimates are “not credible,” and refers to both of them with the derogatory term “revisionist” (his emphasis).  “Revisionist” in this case means essentially not in accord with estimates that Pinker prefers.  “Rather than counting bodies from media reports and nongovernmental organizations,” Pinker writes, “surveyors ask a sample of people whether they know someone who was killed, then extrapolate the proportion to the population as a whole….Without meticulous criteria for selecting a sample, extrapolations to an entire population can be wildly off.” (317-318)   Thus in these two cases he rejects a method that is the current standard in epidemiological research—and that Pinker himself uses when it serves his methodological purposes (see “Massaging the Numbers,” below)—and that in our opinion is the soundest way of estimating mortality rates in large-scale armed conflicts, with their dangerous, high-risk settings and the frequent unreliability of governmental record-keeping.

Pinker and his preferred sources contend that the John Hopkins survey suffered from a “main street bias” that caused a substantial overestimation of Iraqi deaths.[53]  These critics fail to mention that the John Hopkins team deliberately excluded the city of Fallujah from their sample.  Fallujah had suffered two major U.S. military assaults in 2004, the second, in November and December, having devastated this city of some 250,000 people.  When the Johns Hopkins team carried out its first survey of Iraqi mortality rates in September 2004, no fewer than two-thirds of all the violent deaths that it found for all of Iraq were reported in just one cluster of households in Fallujah.  The researchers decided to exclude the Fallujah data from their 2004 mortality estimate, believing that its inclusion would skew the overall results;[54] and when they carried out their second, more extensive survey in 2006, they excluded Fallujah altogether.   This gave their estimate a substantial downward bias.[55]

Pinker prefers the estimates produced by Iraq Body Count, an organization that relies largely on newspaper reports, and admittedly undercounts deaths with this unscientific methodology.[56]  For the same period covered by the John Hopkins study (March 2003 – July 2006), IBC estimated 53,373 Iraqi deaths due to violence,[57] making the Johns Hopkins estimate of deaths caused by violence (601,000) more than eleven-times greater than the IBC’s.  As Gilbert Burnham, who led the second of the Johns Hopkins teams, observes, “I can’t think of any country that would estimate its national mortality rates by obituary notices in the newspapers.”[58]  Pinker also favors the 2008 report by the Iraq Family Health Survey Study Group—essentially, by employees of the puppet government of the U.S. military occupation—that estimated the number of violent deaths in Iraq to have been 151,000 from March 2003 through June 2006 (or roughly the same period as covered by the Johns Hopkins study).[59]  Unlike the Johns Hopkins team, the Iraq Family Health Survey did not request copies of death certificates from surviving family members to help verify their claims; and the field research was carried out by employees of highly politicized Iraqi ministries serving under the U.S. occupation regime.  So again here as elsewhere, Pinker uses the preferential method of research, selecting his sources on the basis of their congenial findings, accepting methodologies that are often laughable, and admonishing researchers who come up with the wrong conclusions for the technical flaws in methods entirely ignored by the Truthers.

In what on Pinkerian logic might be described as the ultimate in “revisionism,” Pinker completely ignores the “sanctions of mass destruction” imposed on Iraq by the UN but under U.S.-dominant influence and command, which in varying degrees of severity lasted from August 1990 into the U.S. invasion-occupation of 2003.  It has been estimated that these sanctions may have caused a million Iraqi deaths, and in a notable incident, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright said in a 60 Minutes interview in 1996 that the sanctions-based deaths of an estimated “half a million” Iraqi children were “worth it.”[60]  In another notable statement on the Iraq sanctions, John Mueller and Karl Mueller wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs that this sanctions regime caused more deaths than “all so-called weapons of mass destruction throughout history.”[61]  U.S. officials knew that their destruction of Iraqi sanitation and water facilities by bombing raids during the 1991 war might well cause disease and deaths, but this did not impede the bombing or prevent the follow-up refusal to allow Iraq to buy replacement equipment during the sanctions era.[62]  Pinker never mentions these unangelic sanctions and this massive death toll,  and though he thanks John Mueller in his Preface to Better Angels and cites Mueller 20 times in his Index and lists 10 different works by Mueller in his References, Pinker somehow misses Mueller’s co-authored Foreign Affairs article that throws grisly light on a major case of mass killing—but by the United States, hence invisible to Pinker.

Pinker is equally committed to minimizing the human cost of the violence in the DRC, and therefore dismissive of higher-end estimates of mortality rates there.  John O’Shea of the Irish relief agency GOAL has called the DRC the “worst humanitarian tragedy since the Holocaust,”[63] and Reuters contends that the war in the DRC “has claimed at least 10 times as many lives as the December [2004] tsunami yet remains almost unheard of outside of Africa.”[64]  As of 2005, the eastern DRC already had suffered a decade of violence, and the August 2010 UN “mapping exercise” on the most serious violations of human rights in the DRC reported that the “apparently systematic and widespread nature of the attacks, which targeted very large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees and members of the Hutu civilian population, resulting in their death, reveal a number of damning elements that, if they were proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide.”[65]

But Pinker’s preferred sources on the DRC—the International Peace Research Institute of Oslo, Norway; the Uppsala Conflict Data Program in Sweden;  and the Human Security Report Project at Simon Fraser University in Canada—are alike in contending that, in Pinker’s words, the IRC-Burnet estimate was “inflated” by “about thirty-five times the PRIO battle-death estimate,” and by more than six-times the estimate produced by the HSRP (which includes both direct and indirect causes of deaths).  (317)  In their reliance on “public sources” such as international and non-governmental organizations, and most important, news agencies,[66] the “passive surveillance” methods employed by both PRIO and UCDP parallel Iraq Body Count’s methods, and HSRP largely depends on the work of PRIO and UCDP.  But no matter how many different media sources one checks, even working from comprehensive databases such as Factiva and Nexis, this is a limited and unscientific methodology, almost guaranteed to yield undercounts, especially in large-scale, multiyear theaters of conflict such as the DRC and Iraq.  With its estimates of mortality restricted to the category of “battle-related deaths,”[67] we believe that the adoption of this methodology is motivated to serve political ends.  (For more on PRIO and the UCDP, see “Sources and Methods,” below.)

Following the lead of the Human Security Report Project’s 2009/2010 The Causes of Peace and the Shrinking Costs of War (which thanks Pinker by name in its acknowledgements section), Pinker charges the IRC-Burnet estimate with working from a “prewar death rate that was far too low,” and “subtracting it from an estimate of the rate during the war that was far too high.”[68] (319)  The HSRP, Pinker adds, “cautions against accepting estimates of excess deaths from retrospective survey data, since in addition to all of their sampling pitfalls, they require dubious conjectures about what would have happened if a war had not taken place.” (319)

The IRC-Burnet researchers produced compelling replies to these charges, pointing out that even if they had used the higher baseline mortality rate of 2.0 deaths per 1,000 preferred by HSRP and Pinker, the “estimated deaths would be 3.3 million since 1998”[69]—nearly four times as many as the HSRP’s “best estimate” of 860,000 deaths for the shorter period from May 2001 through April 2007.[70]  But these competing claims have no bearing on a separate survey on behalf of the UN, which had already estimated that through September 2002, some 3.5 million excess deaths had occurred in the eastern provinces as a “direct result of the occupation of the DRC by Rwanda and Uganda.”[71]  We should add that, just as the Johns Hopkins surveys excluded Fallujah, thereby injecting a conservative factor into their results, the IRC-Burnet survey excluded from its samples locations where the violence and the risk to the researchers were greater than in the locations included in the samples, giving the IRC-Burnet results a conservative tilt as well.

But something else is almost surely at work behind Pinker’s advocacy for lower death tolls in Iraq and the DRC, and his reliance on sources that attack the work of researchers who have produced the higher-end estimates.  Namely, his “New Peace” and “waning-of-war” agenda requires it.  Two large-scale bloodbaths like those in Iraq and the DRC must be downsized to fit his agenda.  Pinker therefore locates the lower-end numbers that he wants, ignores the “sanctions of mass destruction” in Iraq, attributes responsibility for the Iraq invasion-occupation deaths to “intercommunal” violence, thereby taking the United States off-the-hook, and clings to a “battle death” estimate for the DRC that ignores the many more indirect deaths from malnutrition and otherwise treatable diseases that characterized life in the eastern DRC over much of the past two decades, and comprise the major component of the DRC toll.

Afghanistan

In the case of Afghanistan, once again Pinker’s apologetics for his own country’s violence is noteworthy. He tells us that as in Iraq “the interstate war phase was quick,” (266) but he fails to mention that the follow-up pacification process involved continued warfare and violence for at least the next decade, and was hardly “intrastate”—it was mainly military operations by the United States, helped along by its NATO allies, and extending into warfare operations in Pakistan.  This not-very-quick assault was sufficiently violent and inept to provide the basis for a Taliban recovery and resurgence.  Amusingly, and paralleling his claims about  the new humanitarian “aspirations” of the Marines in Iraq, Pinker also finds a new ethical component in U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, with “humanitarian protocols” applicable to the anti-Taliban bombing campaign. (266)  He quotes a Wired Magazine article[72] about a Human Rights Watch report written by senior military analyst Marc Garlasco that lauded the U.S. Air Force for its “very good record of minimizing harm to civilians.”[73] (266)  William Arkin, a leading Human Rights Watch analyst who has also taught at the U.S Air Force School of Advanced Airpower Studies, puts the word “victims” in quotation marks when referring to Afghan civilian casualties, and he resents the excessive attention given this subject.  Arkin asks Afghans: “When are you going to pay the US for the cost of the bombs and the jet fuel and the American lives selflessly given to topple the Taliban and rout Al Qaeda, all done so that you can have a future?”[74]

Before joining HRW, Marc Garlasco was for some years a target selector for the US Air Force.  The use of such analysts helps us understand why HRW is notorious for its apologetics for U.S. wars and for its consistently low-end estimates of casualties inflicted by U.S. forces.[75]  Given this, and Pinker’s bias, it does not surprise that while Pinker was quick to contest the methods and findings of the Johns Hopkins group on Iraq and the IRC-Burnet report on the DRC, he raises no questions about HRW’s methodology. He also completely ignores alternative sources that claim larger numbers of civilian killings in Afghanistan.  Most notably, he never mentions Marc Herold’s detailed studies of these numbers, which yielded at least triple HRW’s estimates and pointed to targeting practices that assured a high civilian toll. In one study, Herold identified 12 mosques struck by U.S. bombs just between October 10 and December 20, 2001, only two claimed by the Pentagon to have been “mistakes.”  Herold listed by name several hundred separate villages struck by U.S. bombs, some repeatedly, all of which suffered civilian casualties; his count of documented deaths ran to over 3,000 just between October 7, 2001 and March 30, 2002.[76]   The idea that most of these civilians were killed by “errant” bombs or “targeting errors” is not credible—they were killed in accord with a deliberate policy of sending missiles to, and dropping bombs on, targets in populated areas based on reports of a Taliban or al Qaeda presence.

“Every vehicle is a target for the American bombers as they hunt down the stragglers of the Taliban and Al Qaeda,” Suzanne Goldenberg reported from Zhawar, an area of mountain hamlets where the villagers described to her the indiscriminate devastation they suffered: “The village [Shudiaki] is completely flattened. My house was destroyed and my neighbors were killed….The dead remain there in the village. Everybody else has left.”[77] One air assault was based on the sighting of a tall man who seemed to be authoritative, therefore maybe Bin Laden, and no more information was needed to kill six peasants.

Pinker not only ignores such alternative sources as these, he ignores statements by U.S. officials themselves that suggest that “humanitarian protocols” were P.R. for the benefit of the media and people like Pinker. “This is an area of enormous sympathy for the Taliban and Al Qaeda,” said General Gregory Newbold, about the killings at the wedding ceremony at Kakrak; or “The people in the vicinity clearly were connected to those activities,” as Donald Rumsfeld said about a mass killing of civilians at Karam village; or even that “The people there are dead because we wanted them dead,” as an unidentified Pentagon official asserted on CNN about the scores of civilian killed at Chowkar-Karez).[78]  The media never pressed them on such remarks or considered their relevance to evaluating Pentagon claims of care to avoid civilians.  And of course Steven Pinker never mentions them any more than he does Herold.

“Genocide”

In his treatment of “genocide,” (320-343) Pinker’s selectivity—his focus on Western target-victims and neglect of the victims of the West itself—and his gullible and ignorant treatment of the facts are remarkable.  For example, he repeatedly refers to Bosnian deaths in 1992-1995 as a case of genocide, and at one point he gives 225,000 as the number of victims. (340)  Although he writes in an accompanying endnote that the “Bosnian massacres…probably killed closer to 100,000 than 200,000 people,”[79] in his text, he adds parenthetically that though “Recent studies have shown that some of [the figures he uses for ‘genocides’] may be overestimates, [he] will stick with the datasets” in which the overestimates are to be found!  (340)  But two establishment studies of the deaths in Bosnia during the 1992-1995 period of armed conflict, one undertaken on behalf of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the other funded by the Norwegian government, respectively, lowered the earlier propaganda-based estimates of Bosnian deaths on all sides to 100,000, and Bosnian Muslim civilians killed to approximately 33,000.[80]  Furthermore, when Pinker introduces the topic of genocide, he speaks of the awfulness “that someone would want to slaughter millions of innocents, including women, children and the elderly…[and that it] shocks the imagination by the sheer number of its victims” (320-321)  But Bosnia hardly involved “millions,” and in the most famous episode there, at Srebrenica in July 1995, the Serbs bussed all the women, children and elderly to safety.

Pinker also follows the party-line on Rwanda.  He takes it as unquestionable that mass killings of 1994 were a Hutu-based slaughter of “700,000 Tutsis…in just four months by about 10,000 [Hutu] men with machetes….,” and that poor Bill Clinton “was haunted by his own failure to act” to stop the killings. (339)  Pinker is clearly unaware of the fact that Clinton did act—to get the UN to remove its troops just as the mass killing was escalating in April 1994, contrary to the desires of the Hutu leaders, but in line with the demands and interests of the U.S.-supported and militarily dominant Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by the Tutsi Paul Kagame.[81]  Pinker is also evidently ignorant of the facts that Paul Kagame was responsible for the April 6, 1994 shooting-down of the jet carrying Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana that triggered the mass killing, that Kagame’s forces moved into action within two hours of the shoot-down, and easily conquered Rwanda within one hundred days; and that the Clinton administration then and U.S. officials now are staunch supporters of the Kagame regime.[82]  There is good reason to believe that more Hutus than Tutsis were killed during this Kagame conquest of state power in Rwanda.[83]  Pinker also fails to tie this successful U.S.-supported conquest and genocide with the sequel Kagame invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was the second U.S.-supported genocide in this region.  It is no coincidence that here also, as with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Pinker takes issue with higher-end estimates of the death toll.

Each of the Iraq cases—the “sanctions of mass destruction,” then the U.S. invasion-occupation—involved vastly larger killings than in Bosnia, but they were initiated and largely carried out by the wrong parties, so we will not find the word “genocide” applied to these cases by Steven Pinker.  It is amusing to read his description of a world “aghast” at Saddam Hussein’s swallowing of Kuwait and making “short work of pushing him out.” (260)  But although millions marched in the streets before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Pinker shows not the slightest indignation at this attack and he fails to note that although the public may have been “aghast” at the prospect of the violence of choice by his government, there was no effort to “push Bush out” of that invaded, occupied, and devastated country.  Pinker is aligned with his leaders here, and uses a word like “aghast,” as with “genocide,” only when it is consistent with their actions.

A much larger number of civilians were killed in the 600-plus massacres of Mayan Indians in Guatemala in the early 1980s than during the civil wars in Bosnia, 1992-1995, with the total number of Mayan victims uncertain but possibly 200,000 or more.  These killings, which included many women and children, were described in a 1999 Truth Commission report as “scorched-earth operations…planned by the State, [and resulting] in the complete extermination of many Mayan communities.”[84]  This Truth Commission concluded that “many massacres and other human rights violations committed against these groups obeyed a higher, strategically planned policy, manifested in actions which had a logical and coherent sequence,” adding that “agents of the State of Guatemala, within the framework of counterinsurgency operations carried out between 1981 and 1983, committed acts of genocide against groups of Mayan people.”[85]  But Guatemala is and was a U.S. client state, and the killings in Guatemala are never mentioned anywhere in Pinker’s book.

Pinker also fails to discuss the 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor in his section on “genocide.”  The death-toll from this 24-year military campaign against the former Portuguese colony after it had won its independence was perhaps 200,000 people overall, and for the most violent years, from 1975 through 1981, between 150,000 and 170,000 out of an initial population of approximately 700,000.[86]  This means that over a quarter of the Timorese may have perished at that time,[87] making East Timor the number one case of genocide since World War II, its percentage toll exceeding that of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and vastly greater than that of the famines in the Soviet Union and China during the Stalin and Mao years.  (See “Communism versus Capitalism,” below.)

But in Better Angels, Pinker mentions East Timor twice only and with great brevity and apologetic slant.  The first time he tells his readers that the “Indonesian takeover of East Timor” was a case of “conquest” that eventually was “reversed,” (259) sparing them any information on the casualties there or any negative language attaching to Indonesia.  The second time he mentions East Timor, Pinker asserts that the “infamous civil wars and genocides of the 1990s were largely perpetrated by gangs of drugged or drunken hooligans.” (312)   For Pinker to list East Timor among the “civil wars” in this manner is to engage once more in a multi-leveled deception: There was no “civil war” in East Timor at any time from 1975 through 1999, when the Timorese finally freed themselves from Indonesia, but rather an initial war of resistance and a later war of liberation to throw-off the Indonesian occupation and yoke; and the so-called “hooligans” rampaging across East Timor in the late 1990s were agents of Indonesia, trained by the Indonesians, on their payroll, and under their general command.  Nowhere in his book does Pinker mention that it was the Indonesian army that carried out the mass killings that began in East Timor in 1975.  Nor does he mention that this invasion and occupation were supported by the United States right from the start[88]—a fact that might explain his lack of interest in this real genocide.

Pinker does mention a “regression analysis of 122 civil wars between 1945 and 1999,” (312) whose authors explain why they categorized the Timorese resistance to Indonesia’s military occupation as a “civil war”: “If a state seeks to incorporate and govern territory that is not a recognized state, we consider it a ‘civil war’ only if the fighting continues after the state begins to govern the territory (thus, Indonesia/East Timor 1975, yes…).”[89]  So here Pinker manages to find a source that rationalizes Indonesia’s invasion-occupation, and buries its genocidal results beneath some fabricated notion of a “civil war”: Indonesia could not have invaded East Timor, because in 1975 East Timor was not a recognized “state,” even though the Timorese went on fighting and dying after Indonesia seized their territory by force, and international law is explicit that “No territorial acquisition or special advantage resulting from aggression is or shall be recognized as lawful.”[90]  So via his preferred source, Pinker ignores the law on aggression.  Pinker also misses the fact that Indonesia’s invasion and genocidal rampage across this tiny island was motivated by Timor’s off-shore oil reserves—a case of “aggressive commerce” driven home by the 1989 Timor Gap Oil Treaty between Indonesia and Australia, a treaty that granted Australian firms the right to drill in the oil-rich “Indonesian province of East Timor,”[91] hence unmentionable by Pinker.

“Terrorism”

Pinker mentions “terrorism” frequently in Better Angels, and as with “genocide,” devotes a section to the topic, (344-361) but here again he sticks closely to the party-line of the Western establishment in which terror is violence carried out only by nonstate actors and opponents of the West, engaging in “asymmetrical warfare,” a “tactic of the weak against the strong,” (345) and striving to attract attention to their cause.

However, there is also a tactic of the strong against the weak called “state terrorism,” sometimes called “wholesale” as opposed to “retail” terrorism,[92] but Pinker ignores it, although “state terrorism” involves the killing of more people and the use of more ferocious means of violence—such as torture—than does the nonstate terrorism on which Pinker focuses.[93]  Thus Pinker never allows that U.S. “shock and awe” bombing or other direct or indirect attacks on civilian sites such as are now carried out by remote-controlled aerial gunships, or Israeli attacks on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as in Israel’s 2009 war on the Gaza Palestinians, where schools and hospitals were targeted and some 1,400 Palestinians killed, were acts of terrorism, although these attacks were designed to traumatize the population as well as kill people.  Nor does the extremely violent nature of U.S. and Israeli actions cause him to use other invidious words, such as “aggression” or “mass murder,” to describe them.  No, it is implied that the U.S. and Israeli violence is in some way justified, whether “defensive,” or “policing actions,” or perhaps “retaliation,” so words like “terrorism,” “murder,” and “genocide” are reserved for the actions of Western targets.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defined terrorism as the “deliberate and systematic murder of innocent civilians to inspire fear for political ends,”[94] and U.S. law defines it even more explicitly according to its intent “to intimidate or coerce a civilian population” and to “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion….”[95]  Netanyahu and U.S. lawmakers like their definitions because they allow a focus of attention on victims of hijackings and shootings in airports, who are frequently not even known to the terrorists and clearly innocent.  But the civilians killed by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, or by Israel in its Gaza bombing raids, or in army and death-squad slaughters in Guatemala and Sri Lanka, are also innocents, and they vastly outnumber the highly publicized victims of hijackers and airport attackers.  These considerations are ignored by Pinker as he follows the party-line in using this invidious word.

“Islamic violence” 

Pinker’s treatment of the “Muslim world” is also perfectly aligned with that of his government’s and Israel’s policy, and seriously misrepresents past and current events.  In what we regard as no better than an anti-Muslim rant, he devotes six pages to Islam’s alleged historical, political, and cultural backwardness, as well as to its violent proclivities—and even its “genocidal” ideology.[96] (362-368)

He imagines “four threats to the New Peace,” and assesses their likelihood: These include a “civilizational clash with Islam, nuclear terrorism, a nuclear Iran, and climate change.” (362)  Although he dismisses the gravity of the last three, Pinker believes that the first of them, “militant Islamism,” as he calls it in one place, (377) poses the gravest threat to international peace and security going forward.

In a remarkable feat of suppressing facts that conflict with his beliefs, Pinker never mentions that it has been centuries since a regime governing a Muslim population has attacked the territory of a Western country, and that there is no Muslim regime in the world today that occupies a Western country.  No Muslim regime administers an international network of rendition and torture centers—though some do participate in the U.S.-organized “spider’s web” that does these things.[97]  No Muslim regime sends remote-controlled aerial gunships to strike targets in the United States or its allies.  Nor in contrast to the sanctions imposed by Western regimes during the past two decades on Muslim countries such as Libya, Iraq, Somalia, the Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria, the “Muslim world” has not held a Western country under economic siege.  These are among the many categories of mass violence and criminality that the “Muslim world” does not need to outgrow, because no Muslim regime is guilty of engaging in them.

“Though about a fifth of the world’s population is Muslim,” Pinker writes, “and about a quarter of the world’s countries have a Muslim majority, more than half of the armed conflicts in 2008 embroiled Muslim countries or insurgencies.” (362-363)   But was Poland “embroiled” in an armed conflict with Germany in 1939?  Was Lebanon “embroiled” with Israel in 1982 and again in 2006?  Can a street victim be “embroiled” with his assailant?  Pinker’s use of the word “embroiled” in relation to “Muslim countries or insurgencies” obscures the difference between perpetrator and victim, such that the victim appears as a co-belligerent in an armed conflict.

Here Pinker is echoing the work of PRIO, UCDP, HSRP, and other researchers closely aligned with a decades-old U.S. and Western agenda, accepting that, in the words of PRIO’s Nils Petter Gleditsch, “in the general trend towards more peace, Muslim countries and Islamic opposition groups seem to be lagging behind….”[98]  In an endnote, Pinker cites the UCDP-PRIO database for 2008,[99] and list the 19 armed conflicts that he alleges “involved a Muslim country,” but he fails to mention that in many of the 19 cases listed, the United States or its clients also were crucially implicated.[100]  These were either armed movements resisting violent U.S.- and allied-directed state repression in countries where the victim population is Muslim (e.g., Iraq, the Philippines, Turkey), or U.S. and allied-supported insurgencies that fly Islamic banners in countries where the United States seeks to destabilize a regime (e.g., the Justice and Equality Movement in the Sudan, the Jandullah in Iran).  In another endnote, Pinker writes that “Thirty of 44 foreign terrorist organizations in the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2008” were “Muslim terrorist organizations,” underscoring yet again his Islam-equals-violence theme, while in this case parroting the State Department’s official designation of who engages in “terrorism,” and who suffers from it.[101]

The UCDP-PRIO database upon which Pinker relies is systematically and crudely biased.  Thus for example it lists the U.S.-led war and occupation in Afghanistan for 2008 as an “internationalized internal” armed conflict[102] between the government of Afghanistan and two opposition groups, the Hezb-i-Islam and the Taliban.[103]  The armed forces of the United States and indeed the entire NATO bloc are classified as “secondary” parties to this conflict,[104] merely lending their support to an Afghan government that is a puppet they installed following the October 2001 invasion of the country, and continued to prop-up through 2008 (and now 2012).  Similarly for 2008, the UCDP-PRIO lists the U.S.-led war and occupation in Iraq as an “internationalized internal” armed conflict between the government of Iraq and two opposition groups, the Al-Madhi Army and the umbrella organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq, which includes Al-Qaeda as well as several other armed resistance groups.[105]  Here again the UCDP-PRIO classified the U.S. and allied role in Iraq as that of “secondary” parties to the conflict, lending their support to the Iraqi government, rather than as the invader-occupier that had driven the previous regime from power and unleashed huge and ongoing violence in the country.  But for the UCDP-PRIO as well as for Pinker, Afghanistan and Iraq were two of the 19 theaters where alleged “Islamic” conflicts were taking place in 2008, and this helps to show that an “increasing proportion of the world’s armed conflicts have involved Islamic countries and insurgencies over the past two decades, while the rest of the world got more peaceful.” (366)  This carries Pinker beyond the preferential method of research.

In contrast with the UCDP, PRIO, and Pinker, Robert Pape (whose name never appears in Pinker’s book) and his Project on Security and Terrorism at the University of Chicago have shown that the number one factor instigating what Pinker mislabels “Islamic” violence is not something about Islam, but about the fact that the United States wages wars against “Islamic” countries, militarily occupies them, terrorizes and kills lots of Islamic  peoples, and frequently supports dictatorships in their countries to enforce the political outcomes it wants. “[S]uicide terrorism such as that of 9/11 is particularly sensitive to foreign military occupation, and not Islamic fundamentalism or any ideology independent of this crucial circumstance,” Pape writes in a summary of his findings.  “[T]otal suicide attacks worldwide have risen dramatically” since the launching of the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq—“from about 300 from 1980 to 2003, to 1,800 from 2004 to 2009….[O]ver 90 percent of suicide attacks worldwide are now anti-American.” [106]  So-called “militant Islamism” is not a cause of violence inside Muslim countries—much less an “endogenous” variable in the modern world, to use the kind of language Pinker enjoys—but a simple effect of the many decades of brutal and bloody Western interference in them—and, crucially, the U.S.-led NATO bloc’s ratcheting-up of its violence since the collapse of the Soviet bloc and especially since 2001.

In another classic of  misrepresentation, Pinker writes that “In defiance of the rising tide of democracy, only about a quarter of Islamic countries elect their governments, and most of them are only dubiously democratic….The laws and practices of many Muslim countries seem to have missed out on the Humanitarian Revolution….” (363)  Pinker fails to mention that for decades the United States and its allies have supported unelected governments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Morocco, Tunisia, Pakistan, and even Iraq (through August 2, 1990); that they overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953, and installed a dictatorship; that they rejected the results of free elections in Palestine in 2006 won by Hamas, imposed sanctions on the Gaza Palestinians to punish them, and launched covert operations against Hamas;[107] and that the “Arab” contributions to the “Global Spring” were and remain largely outbursts of popular revolts against unelected, U.S.-supported and -aided regimes.[108]  This is one more case of the Civilized West working to decivilize the weaker societies, but Pinker claims that the consequences are all rooted in Islamic culture.

“The Muslim world…is sitting out the decline of violence,” Pinker writes.  “More than two decades of headlines have shocked Westerners with acts of barbarity in the name of Islam.”  (362)  His catalog of headline-grabbing barbarisms include the “1989 clerical death threat against Salman Rushdie,” the “fatal stabbing in 2004 of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh,” the “lethal 2005 riots after a Danish newspaper printed editorial cartoons that were disrespectful to the prophet,” and, of course, 9/11.

Here again Pinker takes the Western media’s headlines and choruses of moral outrage as unbiased, and he apparently believes that equivalent or far more deadly events that they do not feature are properly downplayed or ignored.   But if the New York Times and CNN rank the threat of violence against Salman Rushdie as more important and newsworthy than the actual U.S. bombing of mosques in Afghanistan, or warehouses bearing Red Cross insignia, or wedding parties, or broadcasting facilities, or episodes of mass killing in Iraq and the growing evidence of extensive genetic damage to babies born in Fallujah since this city of some 250,000 inhabitants was destroyed by U.S. forces in 2004,[109] this speaks far more to the U.S. and Western media’s biases and propagandistic role than it does to the inherent importance of the Rushdie affair.  No serious analyst or scholar would take U.S. media headline-treatment as the proper and authentic measure of the importance of global events.

“The impression that the Muslim world indulges kinds of violence that the West has outgrown is not a symptom of Islamophobia or Orientalism but is borne out by the numbers,” (362) Pinker reassures us. “The historian Bernard Lewis is not the only one who has asked, ‘What went wrong?’…Whatever the historical reasons, a large chasm appears to separate Western and Islamic cultures today.”  (364-365)

In fact, the “chasm” was Western-created, and what really went wrong over the past two centuries was that the West developed far more lethal military weapons than did Islamic regimes, and Western regimes have long been deploying these lavishly against Islamic territories and peoples, who have suffered far greater losses than their more violent and domineering tormentors.  But now these victimized peoples are standing-up against the undemocratic and repressive regimes sponsored and supported by the Civilized.  They seek their own Humanitarian Revolution, though they continue to run up against Western interests, interventions, and growing Islamophobia.  Pinker proudly carries the Western torch against “Militant Islam” and helps enlarge the chasm.

Class, Race, and the “Science of Self-Control”

It should come as no surprise that in a work defending the imperial states as benevolent, with declining rates of violence internally and the alleged “democratic peace” between them serving as a model for the lesser peoples and powers of the world, we find a racist underpinning.

“The Rights Revolutions are the liberal revolutions,” Pinker tells us.  “Each has been associated with liberal movements, and each is currently distributed along a gradient that runs, more or less, from Western Europe to the blue American states to the red American states to the democracies of Latin America and Asia and then to the more authoritarian countries, with Africa and most of the Islamic world pulling up the rear.” (475)  We doubt that the canonical Orientalist map of the world has ever been expressed more succinctly.[110]

Within the Western imperial powers, Pinker believes that a similar process runs from the earliest civilizers among the upper strata of society (royalty and aristocrats and elites in general) downward to the “lower strata of the socioeconomic scale,” the savages in whom the “Civilizing process never fully penetrated,” (81) with many of them ending up behind bars—where Pinker thinks a lot of them belong.[111] He acknowledges that the “Civilizing Process did not eliminate violence” altogether but, he adds, “it did relegate it to the socioeconomic margins,” as it “spread not only downward along the socioeconomic scale, but outward across the geographic scale, from a Western European epicenter.”[112] (85)

Pinker’s notion of the “Civilizing Process” is based in part on his reading of a book originally published in Germany in 1939, titled The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations.[113]   This book’s author, Norbert Elias, Pinker calls the “most important thinker you have never heard of.” (59; 64-81)  Something called “self-control” is the central component of this alleged process.  Better Angels contains many paeans to “self-control.”

Conveniently for Pinker’s decline-of-violence stories, “self-control” is a fuzzy notion—a many-headed metaphor that, like “terrorism,” can be used as a weapon either to denigrate targets (Palestinians, “Islamists,” young inner-city black males) or to cover-up the sins of favored parties (the United States and its allies, power-elites throughout the West).  Pinker maintains that “self-control” is a variable trait that is heritable, and that those who possess more “self-control” generally do better in the world than do those who possess less of it.  Following Elias, he argues that the consolidation of states in Europe (fewer and fewer discrete political units, larger and more centralized authorities) and an “economic revolution” that replaced “zero-sum plunder” with “positive-sum cooperation” (a division of labor, money, markets, and “gentle commerce”) were the two “exogenous factors” that triggered the “Civilizing Process” over many centuries, and reduced homicide rates.  “And to prosper within that whole,” Pinker adds, “one had to cultivate faculties of empathy and self-control until they became, as [Elias] put it, second nature.” (78)

Pinker has no serious evidence for this neatly-tailored story, even though his sources’ evidence for the decline in homicide rates in European countries over many centuries is solid.[114]  Nevertheless, he goes on to devote a section of his book to the so-called “science of self-control.” (592-611)  “Lapses of self-control can…cause violence on a larger scale,” he tells us.  “The burning and looting of African-American neighborhoods by their own residents following the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, and Israel’s pulverizing of the infrastructure of Lebanon following a raid by Hezbollah in 2006, are just two examples.”  (592)  But might not the widespread riots that occurred after King’s death have been the final result of unbearable social conditions needing only a spark to ignite them, as were the major riots four years earlier in New York City (Harlem), North Philadelphia, and Los Angeles (Watts),  and not the result of some kind of maladaptive impulses among the rioting savages?  Was the July-August 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon really an uncontrolled response to a provocation, or was the alleged provocation an excuse for an already planned, large-scale military action?  In each of these cases, Pinker’s “lapses of self-control” substitutes a psychologizing about what makes human individuals tick for serious institutional analysis.  The results are gross misrepresentations of history.

In his 1997 book, How the Mind Works, Pinker had likened “IQ” to “some crude consumer index,” and observed dismissively of James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein’s 1985 book Crime and Human Nature that they “attributed [the cause of crime] to low intelligence.” Neither innate nor historical differences were at the forefront of Pinker’s 700-page tract.  His definition of “intelligence” as an “ability to attain goals in the face of obstacles by means of decisions based on rational (truth-obeying) rules” made no use of “IQ.”  Nor did he discuss “intelligence” in relation to “racial” categories that have long been at the forefront of the “mismeasures of man,” and conspicuously display racist biases.[115]

But in his 2002 book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Pinker sought to vindicate in the language of evolutionary biology whole sets of junk-scientific claims about human psychology as well as the economic, social, and political arrangements that he prefers.  This was especially clear in his attacks on what he called the “hard-left ideology” of the “radical science movement” of the previous three decades, whose partisans had criticized “sociobiology”[116] and whom Pinker accused of running from scientific truths about the “innate differences among people,” because they feared the “political implications” these differences might entail.[117]  “Moral” and “scientific” doctrines have been so badly “conflated,” he charged, that genuine “discoveries about human nature [have been] greeted with fear and loathing because they were thought to threaten progressive ideals.”  Indeed, “politically motivated reactions to the new sciences of human nature” sought to deny that such a thing as human nature exists.[118]

In contrast with his earlier views on this subject, Pinker now treated “IQ” as a real “trait that can vary,” not as a “’reification’ unrelated to the brain, personality and social behavior without any genetic basis,” in his successive misrepresentations of Stephen Jay Gould (1981) and a work jointly-authored by Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, and Leon Kamin (1985).[119]  Of course, none of these figures—nor any other serious figure from the history of inquiry into human affairs—has ever believed anything like the “blank slate” conjured-up by Pinker.  But it was rhetorically necessary for him to pretend that “blank slatists” were running the academy and policing its fields of research into human psychology and behavior so that he could ride to the rescue of the new “discoveries”—the old “sociobiology” and its more recent “adaptationist” offshoots.[120]

Now Richard Herrnstein’s work (whether individually or jointly with Charles Murray or James Q. Wilson) was not dismissed but cited favorably.  Pinker wrote that Herrnstein’s work on “IQ” in particular, as expressed by his notorious “syllogism,” should be accepted because it is “banal” rather than controversial, and “based on a mathematical necessity: as the proportion of variance in social status caused by nongenetic factors goes down, the proportion caused by genetic factors has to go up….[W]hen a society becomes more just, it will also become more stratified along genetic lines.  Smarter people will tend to float into the higher strata, and their children will tend to stay there.”[121]   That the numbers for all factors, and the “IQ” tests themselves, reflect self-fulfilling cultural influences, is rejected by Pinker, as he fully embraces a crude biological determinism.  Also, he never suggests that the Herrnstein-Murray findings might reflect a “hard-right” bias favoring policies that protect class and racist inequities, cutbacks in social spending, and an end to affirmative action-type programs.  These writers are serious scientists, after all, like Pinker himself—not human-nature-denying, politically-driven leftists!

“[T]he people who commit crimes are those with the least self-control,” Pinker writes, mentioning again the work of Richard Herrnstein and James Q. Wilson, along with others who engage in the classic method of blaming-the-victims. (600)   “Self-control is partly correlated with intelligence (with a coefficient of about 0.23 on a scale of -1 to 1),” Pinker continues.  “Intelligence itself is highly correlated with crime—duller people commit more violent crimes and are more likely to be the victims of a violent crime….” (601)   But Pinker is referring to street-crimes only, not the crimes of speculators, self-dealing looters, or war criminals, all of whom are exempt from Pinker’s analysis of “self-control”—unless they stick-up a 7-Eleven or shoot somebody in a crack-cocaine turf war.

“[O]rganisms are equipped with an internal variable, like an adjustable interest rate, that governs how steeply they discount the future,” Pinker writes, citing the work of Martin Daley and Margo Wilson.  “[T]he shorter the expected life span (from all causes of violence), the higher the rate of violent crime.” (607)  But doesn’t street-crime also correlate with poverty and the systematic lack of educational and job alternatives for an underclass?   And when one shifts one’s perspective to the higher violent crimes, like making war and killing people with troops and bombs in cities from Hiroshima to Fallujah, how would Pinker explain the ferocity of the larger-scale violence of Harry Truman, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and David Petraeus, given their longer expected life spans?

“I think [James Q.] Wilson was on to something when he linked the 1960s crime boom to a kind of intergenerational decivilizing process,” Pinker writes.  “In many ways the new generation tried to push back against the eight-century movement described by Norbert Elias.” (109)  Much of what Pinker contends in this and the next section ranks among the most laughable material in Better Angels.  “The Civilizing Process had been a flow of norms and manners from the upper classes downward,” he continues.  “But as Western countries became more democratic, the upper classes became increasingly discredited as moral paragons, and hierarchies of taste and manners were leveled.” (109-110)

Pinker claims that as U.S. society became more egalitarian and democratic, it also became less civilized (“Decivilization in the 1960s”); then he argues later that as U.S. society became less egalitarian and democratic, and considerably more repressive and reactionary, it was recivilized (“Recivilization in the 1990s”).  But the Sixties saw the height of the U.S. Civil Rights movement, the rise of feminism, and growing demands of ordinary citizens to participate in political decision-making—a “crisis of democracy” in the eyes of elites and, in their corner, Steven Pinker.[122]

Pinker quotes both Charles Murray and Daniel Patrick Moynihan to support his view: “[O]ne side effect [of the decivilizing 1960s] was to undermine the prestige of aristocratic and bourgeois lifestyles that had…become less violent than those of the working class and underclass.  Instead of values trickling down from the court, they bubbled up from the street, a process that was later called ‘proletarianization’ [Murray] and ‘defining deviancy down’ [Moynihan].”[123] (110)  Moynihan’s 1965 report for the Johnson administration, The Negro Family: The Case For National Action, with its “tangle of pathology” rhetoric, and its warning that the “matriarchal structure” of the black American family, the “reversed roles of husband and wife,” spelled doom for black Americans below the middle class,[124] was “eventually vindicated,” Pinker contends.  “The decivilizing effects hit African American communities particularly hard.” (115)

It wasn’t until three decades later, in the 1990s, that “civilizing offensives” started to right the listing Leviathan.  The homicide rate in the United States was in fact higher in 1980 than in 2010 (i.e., 10.2 homicides per 100,000 people compared to 4.8).  For Pinker, “two overarching explanations” account for the decline.  “The first is that the Leviathan got bigger, smarter, and more effective.  The second is that the Civilizing Process, which the counterculture had tried to reverse in the 1960s, was restored to its forward direction.  Indeed, it seems to have entered a new phase.” (121)

In real-world terms, this meant “putting more men behind bars for longer periods of time…especially African Americans.” (121-122)   It also meant a “ballooning of the police” in the 1990s. (123)  But above all, it meant “difficult-to-quantify cultural and psychological changes” that, Pinker believes, “can fairly be called a recivilizing process.” (125)  The “licentiousness” and “informalization” and leveling of the 1960s were reversed.  “Deviancy” stopped being “defined downward.”  The “perverse incentives” of the welfare state were removed.   “Self-control” as a positive value was restored.   So was “trust” in official institutions—cops in particular.  The federal and state law enforcement agencies engaged in the “second stage of a civilizing process, enhancing the legitimacy of government force.” (126)   Potential criminals not yet living behind bars learned that the risk of an arrest, conviction, and punishment for illegal conduct was greater than it had been since the mid-1960s.[125]  Not only did homicide decline in the 1990s, but “so did other indicators of social pathology, such as divorce, welfare dependency, teenage pregnancy, dropping out of school, sexually transmitted disease, and teenage auto accidents and gun accidents.”  (127)

Never mind that by the end of 2010, the adult U.S. prison population stood at 2,266,800 (or one out of every 104 adults), with an additional 7,076,200 adults on parole or probation.[126]  Racial and ethnic minorities have borne the brunt of this “recivilizing process,” with blacks and Hispanics accounting for at least 60 percent of all inmates today.  Under the badly mislabeled 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act and the racially discriminatory “War on Drugs,” the number of people behind bars for non-violent “drug crimes” rose by 1,137 percent from 1980 to 2010, and some two-thirds of this exploding prison population were blacks.  Although it was finally overturned in June 2012 by the U.S. Supreme Court,[127] more than 25 years of mandatory minimum prison terms for the possession of one-one-hundredth as much crack as would similarly penalize the possession of powdered cocaine caused a situation in which black males had a 1-in-3 chance of winding up behind bars at some point in their lifetimes, compared to 1-in-6 for Hispanic males, and 1-in-17 for white males.[128]  By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, roughly 23 percent of all prisoners in the world languished behind bars in the United States, this country boasting the “highest prison population rate in the world.”[129]  But there are no lamentations from Pinker about the lack of “self-control” running amok among U.S. lawmakers and the enforcers of the criminal justice system.  As one group of critics noted about the rise of the “penal state” in America: “No thug, no dictator, no psychopathic madman anywhere in the world can touch the United States in this department.”[130]

The criminologist Randall Shelden (whose name appears nowhere in Pinker’s book) has written that the new millennium began as the previous one had ended, with the institutional growth, spread, and deepening of the “crime-control industry,” its many state and private subsidiaries engaged in a self-perpetuating struggle for resources—more inmates and tax dollars above all.  “What has occurred during the last one third of the twentieth century,” Shelden observes, “is that crime and its control has become one of the fastest-growing businesses in world history.  As the manufacturing base of America has declined, we have seen in its place the rise of a fast-growing service industry.”[131]  In ranking the “order of importance” of the eleven factors that contribute to jail overcrowding in the United States, Jerome Miller ranked the “actual amount of crime committed” eleventh overall—dead-last.[132]  A “recivilizing process” indeed.

Communism versus Capitalism

Pinker’s establishment ideology kicks-in very clearly in his comparative treatment of communism, on the one hand, and democracy and capitalism, on the other.  He is explicit that whereas communism is a “utopian” and dangerous “ideology” from which most of the world’s serious violence allegedly flowed during the past century, democracy, capitalism, “markets,” “gentle commerce,” and the like, are all tied to liberalism—or more exactly to “classical liberalism.”[133]  These institutional forms are not the result of ideologies, much less utopian and dangerous; they are the historically more advanced permutations of the Leviathan that help to elicit those components of the neurobiology of peaceableness (or “better angels” as opposed to “inner demons”) for which the human brain has been naturally selected over evolutionary time.  Hence, they are sources of the alleged decline in violence, and their spread is a force for positive and more peaceful change in the world.[134]

Not so communism.  At the outset of Chapter 6, “The New Peace,” Pinker approvingly quotes Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s line that, unlike the communists, “Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses [b]ecause they had no ideology” driving them. (295)  In discussing the alleged mental traits of the members of a society mobilized to commit genocide, he argues that “Utopian creeds that submerge individuals into moralized categories may take root in powerful regimes and engage their full destructive might,” and highlights “Marxism during the purges, expulsions, and terror-famines in Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia.” (328)  In his 2002 book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, he devoted several pages to what he called the “Marxist genocides of the twentieth century,” and noted that “Historians are currently debating whether the Communists’ mass-executions, forced marches, slave labor, and man-made famines led to one hundred million deaths or ‘only’ twenty-five million.”[135]  And in the section of the current book titled “The Trajectory of Genocide,” Pinker cites the authority of the “democratic peace” theorist and “atrocitologist” Rudolph Rummel, who in his 1994 book Death By Government wrote that whereas “totalitarian communist governments slaughter their people by the tens of millions[,]…many democracies can barely bring themselves to execute serial murderers.”[136] (357)

As we have seen, Pinker rewrites history to accommodate this familiar establishment perspective, so that the Cold War was rooted in communist expansionism and U.S. efforts at containment, and the several million deaths in the Korean and Vietnam wars were attributable to the communists’ fanatical unwillingness to surrender to superior force, not to anti-communist and racist attitudes that facilitated the U.S. military’s mass killings of distant peoples.  He deals with U.S. state-capitalism’s support and sponsorship of the corrupt open-door dictatorships of Suharto, Marcos, Mobutu, Pinochet, Diem, the Greek Colonels, and the National Security States of Latin America (among many others), and the “burgeoning” of torture following the end of the Cold War, by eye aversion.

In Pinker’s view, the Third World’s troubled areas are suffering from their failure to absorb the civilizing lessons modeled for them in the United States and other advanced countries.  He ignores the eight-decades-long massive U.S. investment in the military and ideological training, political takeovers, and subsequent support of Third World dictators in numerous U.S. client terror states, including Guatemala, transformed from a democracy to terror state in 1954, Brazil, shifted from a democracy to military dictatorship in 1964, the Philippines in 1972, and Chile the same in 1973, among many others.  A tabulation by one of the present authors in 1979 found that 26 of the 35 states in that era that used torture on an administrative basis were U.S. clients, all of them recipients of U.S. military and economic aid.[137]  These clients were capitalist in structure, but threatened and employed force to keep the lower orders disorganized and more serviceable to the local elites and transnational corporations investing there.  One Latin American Church document of that period spoke of the local U.S.-supported regimes as imposing an economic model so repressive that it “provoked a revolution that did not exist.”[138]  This was a deliberate “decivilizing” process, with the civilized serving as co-managers.

We have seen that Pinker finds the modern era peaceful by focusing on the absence of war between the major powers, downplaying the many murderous wars carried out by the West (and mainly the United States) against small countries, and falsely suggesting that the lesser-country conflicts are home-grown, even where, as in the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, it was U.S. military assaults that precipitated the internal armed conflicts, with the United States then actively participating in them.  The Israeli occupation and multi-decade ethnic cleansing of Palestine he misrepresents as a “cycle of deadly revenge,” with only Israel fighting against “terrorism” in this cycle.  He speaks of Islamic and communist ideology as displaying violent tendencies, and congratulates the U.S. military for allegedly overcoming the kind of racist attitudes reported at the time of the Vietnam war (U.S. soldiers referring to Vietnamese as “gooks,” slopes,” and the like)—but the military’s new humanism is another piece of Pinker misinformation and pro-war propaganda.  And he fails to cite the numerous instances of Israeli leaders referring to Palestinians as “grasshoppers,” “beasts walking on two legs,” “crocodiles,” “insects,” and a “cancer,” or Israeli rabbis decrying them as the “Amalekites” of the present era, calling for extermination of these unchosen people.[139]

As regards Israel, Pinker never mentions the Israeli belief in a “promised land” and “chosen people” who may be fulfilling God’s will in dispossessing Palestinians.[140]  Although the lack of angelic behavior in these assaults and this language, ethnic cleansing, and dispossession process is dramatic, and has had important effects on the attitudes and behavior of Islamic peoples, it fails to fit Pinker’s ideological system and political agenda, and therefore is not a case of conflict with ideological roots.

For Pinker, there is also nothing ideological in the “miracle of the market” (Reagan), no “stark utopia” in  Friedrich von Hayek’s assertion that the “particulars of a spontaneous order cannot be just or unjust,”[141] no ideology in the faith that an unconstrained free market will not produce intolerable inequalities and majority resistance that in turn require the likes of Pinochet, Suharto, or Hitler to reassert the requisite “stability.”  It is simply outside of Pinker’s orbit of thought that liberalism and neoliberalism in the post-Soviet world are ideologies that have serviced an elite in a class war; that the major struggles and crises that we have witnessed, over climate change, the massive upward redistribution of income and wealth, the global surge of disposable workers, and the enlargement of NATO and the police-and-surveillance state, are features of a revitalized consolidation of class power, under more angelic names like “reform,” “free markets,” “flexibility,” “stability,” and “fiscal discipline.”  For Pinker, the huge growth of the prison population shows the lack of “self-control” of the incarcerated savages still with us; and it is one merit of the liberal state that it gets the bad guys off the streets.

Another device that Pinker uses when weighing capitalism versus communism is to take notorious state abuses committed in the name of communism (e.g., under Joseph Stalin), not as perversions of communism, but as inherent in its ideology, and flowing directly from it.  Many historians and leftists have long argued that Stalinism constituted a radical betrayal and perversion of genuine communism, and that it emerged out of crises and stresses that made anything approaching genuine communism unreachable.[142]  Pinker never addresses this kind of explanation and exemption of real-world communism, but he does this implicitly for real-world degenerate forms of capitalism.  Thus, Nazi Germany and its mass murders are not credited to capitalism’s account, even though Germany under the Nazis was still capitalist in economic form and surely a variant of capitalism arising under stress and threat from below, with important business support.[143]  Suharto’s Indonesia and Pinochet’s Chile could be said to fit this same pattern.  Rightwing believers in the crucial importance of free markets, such as Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman, approved of Pinochet’s rule, which ended political freedom and freedom of thought, but worked undeviatingly for corporate interests and rights.  But it took only one decade of the Chicago Boys’ privatizations and other “reforms” for Chile’s economy and financial system to collapse.  In the harsh depression that ensued, the banks were re-nationalized and their foreign creditors bailed-out in a process sometimes called the “Chicago Road to Socialism,” but then shortly thereafter they were re-privatized all over again, at bargain-basement prices.[144]  (Pinochet does not show up in Pinker’s index; Chile does, but never as a free market state loved by von Hayek, Friedman, and the Chicago School of Economics, and supported by the United States.)

In one of his book’s more outlandish moments, Pinker even allocates Nazism and the holocaust to communism.  He writes that since “Hitler read Marx in 1913,” Marxism led definitively if “more circuitously” to the “[dekamegamurders] committed by the Nazi regime in Germany.”[145] (343)  But while there is no evidence that Hitler really examined Marx or accepted any of his or his fellow Marxist writers’ ideas,[146] it is  incontestable fact that Hitler held Marxism in contempt, and that communism and communists ranked very high among Hitler’s and the Nazi’s demons and targets (along with Jews) when they held power in Germany.[147]  So is the fact that racist theories and “mismeasure of man” literature in the Houston Stewart Chamberlain tradition—of which Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray arguably are heirs—were fanatically embraced by Hitler, and therefore linked to Nazism—and not very “circuitously,” either.

Pinker not only doesn’t credit the Nazi holocaust to capitalism, he also fails to give capitalism credit for the extermination of the Native Americans in the Western Hemisphere and the huge death tolls from the Slave Trades,[148] which should have been prevented by the rising “better angels.”  As noted, he also ignores democratic capitalism’s responsibility for the surge of colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries, the associated holocausts,[149] and the death-dealing and exploitation of the Western-sponsored terror states in Indonesia, the Philippines, Latin America and elsewhere.  He also fails to address the huge toll of structural violence under capitalism flowing from its domestic and global dispossession processes, and, interestingly, intensifying with the post-1979 transformation of China and the breakup of the Soviet bloc and Soviet Union (1989-1991), which reduced any need on the part of Western capitalism to show concern for the well-being of its own working class majority.  This helps explain the significant global increases in inequality and dispossession and slum-city enlargement over the past two decades, a period that Pinker calls the “New Peace” and depicts as an age of accelerating “Civilization”!

Pinker refers to the deaths during China’s Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) as a “Mao masterminded…famine that killed between 20 million and 30 million people.”[150] (331)  For Pinker, clearly, the dead were victims of a deliberate policy that demonstrates the evil behind communist ideology.  But as the development economists Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen have pointed out, China under Mao installed a massive and effective system of public medical services, as well as literacy and nutrition programs that greatly benefitted the general population in the years prior to the famine—a fact that is difficult to reconcile with the allegation that Mao regarded mass starvation as an acceptable means to some other end.  Instead, Drèze and Sen blamed this tragedy on the lack of democracy in China, with the absence of pressure from below and a lack of timely knowledge of policy failure significantly offsetting the life-saving benefits of communist China’s medical and other social welfare programs.[151]

Drèze and Sen also compared the number of deaths caused by this famine under Mao with the number of deaths caused by what they called the “endemic undernutrition and deprivation” that afflicts India’s population year-in and year-out.  “Estimates of extra mortality [from China’s famine] vary from 16.5 million to 29.5 million,” they wrote, “arguably the largest in terms of total excess mortality in recorded history.”[152]  But “despite the gigantic size of excess mortality in the Chinese famine,” they continued, the “extra mortality in India from regular deprivation in normal times vastly overshadows the former.  Comparing India’s death rate of 12 per thousand with China’s 7 per thousand, and applying that difference to India’s population of 781 million in 1986, we get an estimate of excess normal mortality in India of 3.9 million per year.  This implies that every eight years or so more people die in India because of its higher death rate than died in China in the gigantic famine….India seems to manage to fill its cupboard with more skeletons every eight years than China put there in its years of famine.”[153]  Indeed, by 2005, some 46 percent (or 31 million) of India’s children were underweight, and 79 percent suffered anemia.  “Forty years of efforts to raise how much food-grains Indians are able to eat has been destroyed by a mere dozen years of economic reform,” Jawaharal Nehru University economist Utsa Patnaik observes.[154]

China’s death rate increased after 1979, with the surge of capitalist reforms and the associated sharp reduction in public medical services.[155]  A recent a review of China’s past and current demographic trends showed that its rate of death was higher in 2010 than in 1982, and that the greatest declines in mortality occurred well prior to the reforms, with a national decline occurring even during the decade that included the famine (1953-1964).[156]

So Pinker misrepresents the truths at a number of levels in dealing with the Chinese starvation episode. He avoids the need to reconcile allegedly deliberate starvation deaths with a prior and continuous Chinese state policy of helping the masses by simply not discussing the subject.  He ignores the evidence that policy failure and ignorance rather than murderous intent was the source of those deaths.  He fails to mention the rise in mortality rates under the post-Mao new capitalist order.  And Pinker carefully avoids Drèze and Sen’s China-India comparison, which suggests that every eight years or so since India won its independence in 1947, its democratic capitalist system may well have caused greater levels of excess mortality than did China under the worst years of its famine—a lesson that could be extrapolated to other theaters of structural violence, were the author’s concern with such outcomes less driven by his own ideology.

Similarly, while Pinker regularly cites killings and genocide under communist rule in the Soviet Union, he never mentions the huge body count in Russia after the overthrow of communism and the installation of a capitalist state from 1992 onward, with aggressive social re-engineering pressed by the democratic states of the West.  This “failed crusade”[157] was deliberately imposed on Russia, its human costs thought acceptable by Western sponsors and their local collaborators (most notably Boris Yeltsin) in order to assure the irreversibility of the overthrow of socialism.

The destruction of the social welfare and health-care institutions of communism made Russia perhaps the “first country” in history to undergo a spike in mortality rates “for reasons other than war, famine or disease,” the Russian specialist David Powell wrote in 2002.[158]  Noam Chomsky observed that as the UN Development Program had estimated “ten million excess male deaths during the 1990s,” this death toll was “approximately the toll of Stalin’s purges sixty years earlier, if these figures [were] near accurate….The general collapse [was] so severe that even monstrous Stalin [was] remembered with some appreciation: more than half of Russians ‘believe Stalin’s role in Russian history was positive, while only a third disagreed’, polls indicated in early 2003.”[159]  As David Kotz and Fred Weir described the impact of the “reforms,” “There is no place for most of Russia’s population in the new economic system.”[160]

Now more than a decade after this initial flood of human deaths, arguments rage over how far Russia’s demographic crisis will cause its national population to fall by 2030 or mid-century, all due to the catastrophic shocks of the 1990s.[161]  Not only is there no mention in Better Angels of a Western-sponsored neoliberal shock-therapy killing millions of Russians during the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st, but the only Russia that interests Pinker is the one from the early 17th century (i.e., the “Time of Troubles”) or the one from early last century, which fought in World War I and ended up with communism.

Sources and Methods 

 

As we have noted, Pinker employs the “preferential method” of research, uncritically using sources that support his claims and ideological agenda, and ignoring or criticizing harshly those that take positions incompatible with his.   In our favorite example, he often cites John Mueller’s work, but never mentions this same author’s 1999 article with Karl Mueller that claims the UN-U.S. “sanctions of mass destruction” against Iraq were historically unique mass killers of civilians, a strategic silence almost surely determined by the fact that the U.S. and its democratic allies were the killers.[162]

Pinker never mentions Amartya Sen or Jean Drèze, both distinguished scholars whose work often covers ground similar to Pinker’s in Better Angels, again almost surely because Sen and Drèze deal with structural violence under capitalism, do not regard the Mao-era famine in China as a case of deliberate mass killing, and contend that deaths in India under the “endemic undernutrition and deprivation” of its capitalist system greatly exceeded China’s famine deaths.  Separately, Sen also stresses the diversity and tradition of tolerance within Islam, as Pinker never does, and writes that the “hard sell of ‘Western liberalism’” notwithstanding, the “valuing of freedom is not confined to one culture only, and the Western traditions are not the only ones that prepare us for a freedom-based approach to social understanding,”[163]  Instead, Pinker and his sources focus only on Islam’s backwardness and violent proclivities, and “What went wrong?”

There is no index reference to Sen or Drèze in Better Angels, but there are eight indexed references to Rudolf Rummel in Pinker’s book, and four works by Rummel are listed in Pinker’s bibliography, including the website for Rummel’s work at the University of Hawaii.  A far-right fanatic, Rummel’s blog, A Freedomist View, rivals that of the Birchers.  In the first year of the Obama presidency, Rummel called Obama a “1960’s anti-war, socialist-radical activist” who believes “in love not war,” and he assailed Obama for putting a crimp in the use of torture, thereby “undermining intelligence operations” by the good guys.  Rummel also warned that Obama’s plans called for “unnecessarily closing Guantanamo detention camp by January 22, 2010 as a sop to world and domestic leftist opinion”—a fear that has yet to be realized.[164]  Rummel even wrote that Obama and his associates were carrying out a coup d’etat in the United States, and he was worried that under leftwing pressure the United States might fail to save Afghanistan, just as the left had forced a regrettable U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam four decades earlier.[165]

In what purports to be his scholarly work, Rummel writes that “U.S. democide in [the Vietnam] war is most difficult to calculate,” but finds that “A prudent figure may be 5,500 overall.”[166]  In contrast, he estimated that the “communist” government of North Vietnam was responsible for 1,669,000 democidal deaths in the war, or more than 300 times as many as killed by the U.S. war machine.  This remarkable pair of claims is based on two factors: Rummel’s requirement that in order for deaths to count as “democide,” the killing of non-combatants must be carried out by agents acting on behalf of a government, with the clear intent to kill members of a targeted population;[167] and Rummel’s own deep ideological belief that whereas communist regimes target and kill non-combatants on a regular and systematic basis, the U.S. government meticulously upholds the laws of war and strives to protect civilians (with the rarest exceptions).  Free-fire zones,[168] high-level saturation bombing, destruction of villages in order to “save them,” napalm, cluster bombs, the use of “six times” the tonnage of “bombs and shells” against Vietnam (South and North) than it used during all of World War II (acknowledged by Rummel[169]), and the widespread application of chemical weapons to destroy civilian crops (Operation Ranch Hand), the last causing crippling damage to hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese children,[170] fail to resonate with Rummel, for whom it remains an article of faith that the United States did not deliberately harm civilians in the war (and does not as a matter of policy).  “[W]hat many…sources label as [U.S.] atrocities or massacres may, by the Geneva Conventions and other accepted rules of warfare, be legitimate military actions or accidents of war,” he counters.  Indeed, the “most important fact of this bombing was the scrupulous care with which targets were selected and bombed,” with the United States limiting “attacks to purely military targets….”  “Civilians were killed,” he concedes, “but these deaths were collateral to bombing military targets….”[171]  These are truths that Rummel accepts for no reason other than that they pertain to his government and to the communist enemy, and possess a kind of self-evident status for him.  This is extreme fanaticism masquerading as scholarship.

In contrast with Sen and Drèze, Rummel writes that more than 35 million people were “murdered” in the “Chinese Communist Anthill,” and of the famine victims he writes that “27 million starved to death,” every one of  them “sacrificed for the most massive, total social engineering projects ever forced on any society in modern history….”[172]  But Rummel says what Pinker wants to hear, so while Sen is ignored, Rummel is promoted to serious authority and his numbers are used profusely and uncritically in Better Angels.

In a similar fashion, Pinker makes lavish use of the estimates of a contingent of mainly government- and foundation-funded experts devoted, like him, to showing that war has been declining in importance—especially in the more civilized, lighter-skinned parts of the world—and is becoming less harmful even to the darker-skinned peoples in the countries under attack.  The claims of these individuals and groups are often as preposterous as Rummel’s—even if they are better at keeping their right-wing biases under wraps.

One of Pinker’s major government-funded sources is the Human Security Report Project (HSRP) at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada).[173]  HSRP’s Report 2009/2010 advanced many of the global themes reiterated in Better Angels, in particular the decline of interstate wars since the “end of the Cold War” and the development of a new “global security architecture.”[174]  It is revealing that HSRP makes only one mention of NATO in its entire report: As one of the “international organizations…[that] have increased the number of their peace operations” during the same years.[175]

Like Pinker, HSRP lauds the alleged “democratic peace” that has seen the number of “democracies” double while the number of dictatorships was cut-in-half.   HSRP admits that the “democratic peace thesis” has some holes in it, because although “democracies” no longer fight wars among themselves, “they frequently fight nondemocracies.”[176]  Never-mind who starts these wars, what real purposes they advance, and whether they are consistent with the UN Charter and international law, their targets are bad guys—“non-democracies,” “rogue states,” “failed states,” “terrorist havens,” and the like.  The 50 NATO member and partner states contributing troops and materiel to the U.S. war in Afghanistan as of early 2012[177] were engaged in “counterterrorism,” “peacemaking,” “security,” and “state-” and “democracy-building.”  The fact that troops from this many countries were participating in these alleged missions thus cannot be regarded as counter-evidence for the “New Peace” and the “democratic peace,” but rather as support for both of them.[178]  The Western Great Powers are good.

The development of “Islamic political violence” is a “particular source of disquiet for security planners in the West,” the HSPR adds, as “in 2008 four of the five most deadly conflicts in the world—Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia—pitted Islamic insurgents against national governments and their U.S. and other supporters.”[179]  Like the “democratic peace,” which remains peaceful even though the “democracies” go right on attacking other countries, the Iraqi, Afghan, Pakistani, and Somali theaters remain deadly due to “Islamic political violence,” not due to the attacks by the United States and its allies.

Among Pinker’s sources, definitional sleights-of-hand such as these abound.  A 2011 paper by the International Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) concluded in its comparison of its own work and that carried out by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program in Sweden (UCDP) that both “datasets agree that the severity of war, as measured by the annual battle deaths, has decreased over the past twenty years,” and that “it seems evident that war is waning.”[180]  But the strength of these claims is exaggerated greatly by the fact that the UCDP and PRIO focus on direct or “battle-related deaths” to the exclusion of deaths that can be far more numerous during wartime, but are not directly related to actual battles.[181]  “Direct deaths…conform to our basic intuition of what it means for an agent to be responsible for an effect that it causes,” Pinker argues in defense of this method, “namely that the agent foresees the effect, intends for it to happen, and makes it happen via a chain of events that does not have too many uncontrollable intervening variables.”  He continues:[182]

The problem with estimating indirect [or non-battle-related] deaths is that it requires us to undertake the philosophical exercise of stimulating in our imagination the possible world in which the war didn’t occur and estimating the number of deaths that took place in that world, which then is used as a baseline.  And that requires something close to omniscience….If Saddam Hussein had not been deposed, would he have gone on to kill more political enemies than the number of people who died in the intercommunal violence following his defeat?…Estimating indirect deaths requires answering these sorts of questions in a consistent way for hundreds of conflicts, an impossible undertaking.  (299-300)

Not only is this a disingenuous argument, and Pinker’s counter-example of Iraq outlandish, but Pinker himself doesn’t believe it, as he and his sources violate it whenever they deal with communist regimes.  For these regimes (e.g., Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot), attributing indirect, non-combat-related deaths to a deliberate plan requires no imaginative leap at all—the communists are maximally guilty for all of them, and estimating deaths poses no methodological problems.  (See “Communism versus Capitalism,” above.)

Like Rummel, the HSRP, UCDP, and PRIO minimize U.S.- and Western-led warmaking and killing.  Indeed, so systematic are the UCDP and PRIO labors to this end[183] that they treat the U.S. role in the wars in the Koreas (1950-1953)[184] and Vietnam (1954-1975)[185] as “secondary,” that is, as merely providing support to the governments of South Korea and South Vietnam, even though the United States established these governments (in 1945 and 1954), and bore overwhelming responsibility for most of the killing and destruction in the wars.   (Also see “’Islamic Violence’,” above, for how the UCDP-PRIO minimizes the U.S. role in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past decade.)

In the same dataset, the U.S. overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 is treated as an “internal” armed conflict between the Arbenz government and the “Forces of Carlos Castillo Armas,” with the U.S. role suppressed.[186]  The violence generated by the counterinsurgency regimes of Guatemala (1965-1995)[187] and El Salvador (1979-1991)[188] is once again treated as the result of “internal” armed conflicts, with no mention of the crucial U.S. role in arming, training, and supporting these regimes.  In Nicaragua, the U.S. role first in supporting the Somoza dictatorship against the Sandinistas rebels (1978-1979) and later in creating and supporting the Contras and the FDN against the Sandinista government (1980-1989) is also suppressed.[189]   Many other examples could be added.

In contrast, the Soviet role in Hungary (1956)[190] and later Afghanistan (1979)[191] is treated as “primary,” with these armed conflicts classified as “interstate,” that is, as occurring between the Soviet Union and Hungary and Afghanistan, with both initiated by acts of cross-border Soviet aggression.

It is on the basis of methodologies as politicized as these that the “Long Peace,” the “New Peace,” and the “Democratic Peace” have been constructed.  Among Pinker and the rest of the “waning of war” cadre, the imperial role of the United States simply disappears.

Massaging the Numbers: Pinker’s Non-Proofs of Long-Term Violence Reduction

Better Angels contains 115 “Figures” (line graphs and point graphs, tables, charts, and diagrams)—roughly one for every six pages of text.  With statistical flourishes on this scale, Pinker creates the impression of an author in command of a powerful numeracy.  Indeed, this is one of Better Angels’ most successful illusions.  But the book’s figures frequently fail to teach the lessons that Pinker claims they do, and quite often their lack of substance is disguised by the bravado with which he discusses them.

Given limited space, we will zero-in on four of Pinker’s most important figures.

The first is Figure 2-2, “Percentage of deaths in warfare in nonstate and state societies” (49), a bar diagram that purports to show the various odds that a “person died at the hands of another person rather than passing away of natural causes” at different times and places in history.[192] (48)

The distinction between “state” and “nonstate” carries a heavy burden in Better Angels.  Against the belief that “humans are peaceable by nature and corrupted by modern institutions,”[193] and that the “world we made has contaminated us, perhaps irretrievably,”[194] (xxi)  ideas that he identifies with “romantic” writers such as Rousseau,[195] Pinker argues that a “logic of violence”[196] (31-36) pervades human affairs, and that humans spent almost their entire life on the planet trapped in a violent world.  Invoking Hobbes, Pinker agrees that the “natural state of men, before they entered into Society, was a mere War, and that not simply, but a War of all men, against all men.”[197]  Hence the symbolic and emotional significance of “nonstate” and “state” for Pinker: The first means a ubiquitous war of all against all stretching back into the dark and distant past; the second, humans learning to live more peaceably as they developed agriculture and permanent settlements, and the central authority of states replaced the “state of anarchy.”[198]

In Figure 2-2, Pinker purports to illustrate this grand scheme.  He does this by comparing the percentages of violent deaths from 39 graves he identifies with “nonstate” societies, and the percentages in eight “state” societies.  Needless to say, the reported percentages in the 39 “nonstate” graves, on average, are dramatically higher than in the “state” societies.  Pinker then provides the lesson that he wants us to learn from Figure 2-2: “The major cleft in the graph”—that is, between the higher and lower percentages of deaths caused by violence—“separates the anarchical [nonstate] bands and tribes from the governed states.” (51)

Some of Pinker’s small number of early critics noted how misleading it is to lump the disparate human groups associated with the first 39 graves into the same “nonstate” category, as even the most complete forensic inquiry into their mortal remains could hardly tell the story of what life and death had been like prior to the advent of “civilization.”[199]

Also revealing is the cavalier attitude that he takes towards his data, and the huge fudge-factors he entertains.  He offers a 0-to-60 percent range for the bodies recovered from one subset of 21 “nonstate” graves he labels “Prehistoric,” and claims that this series of estimates that are literally all over the map can be reduced to a meaningful final average of 15 percent.  Similarly, he offers a 14 percent average for violent deaths among the 8 graves he designates as “Hunter-gatherers,” and a 24.5 percent average for the 10 “Hunter-horticulturalists” graves.

But were the bodies that Pinker alleges can be associated with violent deaths combat-related deaths, sacrifices, or accidents?  Were the artifacts recovered with these bodies evidence of weapons or other kinds of tools?  In cases when they are clearly weapons, were they also causes of death or the purely symbolic accoutrements of burial?    Indeed, in one careful assessment of “Pinker’s List” of the 21 “Prehistoric” graves, the anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson concludes that this list “consists of cherry-picked cases with high casualties,” and that in passing-off these “highly unusual cases” as representative of “prehistory,” Pinker distorts “war’s antiquity and lethality.”[200]

Recall that when Pinker deals with the Johns Hopkins research into Iraqi mortality rates under the U.S. war and military occupation, he is quick to dismiss their work because of its alleged “main street bias”!   Also that in rejecting the careful work of these researchers, his stated reasons included the complaint that, “Without meticulous criteria for selecting a sample, extrapolations to an entire population can be wildly off”—unless, of course, the extrapolation is from 39 graves out of an unknown but vast population base to the claim that humans had been making war forever.

Still other fundamental problems afflict Pinker’s story.  In Better Angels, he argues that the violent potential for which he believes the components of human intelligence and the emotions had been naturally selected over evolutionary time have been softened or “pacified” by the development of permanent human settlements (cities) and the centralized authorities that governed them during the past 10,000 to 12,000 years.  The “logic of the Leviathan” displaced the “logic of violence” wherever central authorities took hold. (41-42)

But in one of the rare informed reviews of this “trite Hobbesian message,” the anthropologist Douglas P. Fry argued that Pinker’s history of violence and war is upside-down.  “[T]the archaeological facts speak clearly,” Fry noted, “showing for particular geographic areas exactly when war began.  And in all cases this was recent, not ancient activity—occurring after complex forms of social organization supplanted nomadic hunting and gathering.”[201]  Among the “artifices of civilization” we must count war.

In fact, a whole alternative expert literature rejects Pinker’s view on this matter.[202]  “[W]arfare is largely a development of the past 10,000 years,” R. Brian Ferguson has written.  “[T]he multiple archaeological indicators of war are absent until the development of a more sedentary existence and/or increasing sociopolitical complexity, usually in combination with some form of ecological crisis and/or steep ecological gradients.”[203]  Other crucial factors falling under the “complexity” rubric were the earliest manifestations and subsequent development of class structures, divisions of labor and social status, concentrations of wealth and poverty, and hierarchies of power and subordination, including religious and military power structures—all of the sins still very much with us in the modern world.

Thus while a certain “logic of violence” may be natural to human life at an interpersonal level, there is no evidence that violence and war were central to the development of humans for the first 95 percent of the past 200,000 years—or any time before.  In “reverse-engineering” Homo sapiens and projecting war forever backwards, “older than the human species,” something that “our ancestors have been practicing war for at least 6 million years,” and turning war into a “selective pressure acting on the chimpanzee-hominid common ancestors and their descendants,” the academic survivalists among Pinker’s sources are playing “Time Machine,” transporting humans whose psyches have been distorted by modern civilization back into the past.[204]  Pinker’s theory that the development and spread of central governments associated with the early cities “ushered in the first major historical decline in violence” (35) fails its test—and fails it spectacularly.

The second figure that we want to look at is not indexed among the book’s “List of Figures” (xvii-xx).   However, it appears in a section where Pinker purports to answer the question, “Was the 20th Century Really the Worst?” (193-200)   “[T]he enduring moral trend of the [twentieth] century,” he writes, “was a violence-averse humanism that originated in the Enlightenment, became overshadowed by counter-Enlightenment ideologies wedded to agents of growing destructive power, and regained momentum in the wake of World War II.” (192)  Proving this point, and proving that the massive death toll, suffering, and destruction associated with the Second World War does not blow-holes in his declining-violence/“better-angels” narrative, are two of the purposes of the longest chapter in his book, “The Long Peace.”

Pinker calls this figure “(Possibly) The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other.” (194)  Adapted from the work of the “atrocitologist” Matthew White, the table lists 21 “hemoclysms” (“blood floods”), attributes each one to a “cause” (e.g., the Second World War, the Fall of Rome), provides an estimated death toll for each one, and adjusts these estimates from the world’s population at the time of each “hemoclysm,” up to their “mid-20th century equivalent”—the world’s population as of 1950, when it stood at roughly 2.5 billion people.  (Today, only 62 years later, it officially stands at slightly above 7 billion.[205])

Perhaps the most striking feature of this figure is that whereas in his own book, White ranks the Second World War in the Number One spot with 66,000,000 deaths, calls it the “most destructive man-made event in history,”[206] and rejects the method of adjusting death tolls to reflect a constant world population, under Pinker’s adjusted rankings, the Second World War ranks no higher than ninth place overall, less lethal than the An Lushan Revolt, the Mongol Conquests, the Mideast Slave Trade, the Fall of the Ming Dynasty, the Fall of Rome, the reign of Timur Lenk (Tamerlane), the Annihilation of the American Indians, and the Atlantic Slave Trade.

Pinker insists that adjusted-rankings are needed to correct for two illusions.  “The first is that while the 20th century certainly had more violent deaths than earlier ones, it also had more people.”  (193)  The other is what he calls “historical myopia” (also “availability bias”): The further in the past an era is from our own, the fewer details we know about it.  Taking the An Lushan Revolt, Pinker claims that it would have cost the lives of 429,000,000 people, adjusted from the world’s population around 750 AD to 1950.  As Pinker credits World War II with an unadjusted 55,000,000 deaths, this means that by his reckoning, World War II was only one-eighth as lethal as the An Lushan Revolt.[207]  Hence our technologically more advanced modern era has not been the most violent after all.  Our thinking is rife with “illusions.”

But once again serious problems abound with Pinker’s reasoning and data.  In what sense are his earlier destructive events genuinely and consistently events?  Whereas World War II is relatively easy for us to define, four of Pinker’s higher-ranking “hemoclysms” span multiple centuries—the Mideast Slave Trade, the Fall of Rome, the Annihilation of the American Indians, and the Atlantic Slave Trade.  If this is how he wants us to think about “violence,” then we should also enumerate the structural violence of the kind that Sen and Drèze analyze, and that takes into account the human losses which follow from the policy actions and inactions of the global capitalist structures, but which Pinker passes over because it falls outside his conception of violence.  (Though not where he can associate the structural violence with “Marxism” and “communism.”)  Given that many more people are alive today, and that our scientific and technological capacities would enable us to remedy much of the avoidable suffering and loss that remains with us, were our political capacities equally as developed, surely our modern world is awash in unacknowledged hemoclysms.[208]

Also important is the fact that the estimated death tolls in well over half of the cases Pinker lists in this figure are extremely uncertain, but he can live with them—it is only the higher-end mortality estimates for Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo in our day that he feels compelled to challenge on technical grounds of exactitude.

Perhaps most important, the absolute numbers of people who die because of armed conflicts are a first-order measure of the true human cost of violence, and we should never permit the moral gravity of this loss and suffering to be relativized by the juggling of numbers until they all match the same global population in any given year.[209]  After all, what relationship did the mass deaths in the China of the 750s and 760s A.D. have with the human population then spread across the rest of the earth, whatever its size?  Similarly, what relevance did the large population of Asia in the first-half of the 20th century (accounting for more than one-in-two people worldwide) have to the fact that the machinery of death available at the time of the Second World War set new records in mass violence, with the most civilized countries leading the killing process?  Should the Nazi holocaust be downgraded in importance because the populations of China and India were so large?

Pinker’s population adjustments enable him to achieve two ends: To inflate death tolls from the past and to minimize those in the modern period.  But he is not suffering from some kind of reverse-historical myopia or expanding-denominator illusion.  Rather, he is massaging the numbers.  As another one of the rare critical reviews of Pinker’s book to have appeared in an establishment source put the matter: “Pinker plays down the technical ability of modern societies to support greater numbers of human lives.  If carrying capacity increases faster than mass murder, this looks like moral improvement on the charts, but it might mean only that fertilizers and antibiotics are outpacing machine guns and machetes—for now.”[210]  And nuclear weapons.

This brings us to the third figure that we want to examine: Figure 5-3, “100 worst wars and atrocities of human history.” (197)

In his treatment of this scatter plot of 100 datapoints, Pinker’s discussion is perhaps the most dishonest in his book.  (Though his handling of Figure 5-6, discussed below, may be tied with it.)  Based on Matthew White’s list of the “one hundred events with the largest man-made death tolls,”[211] and arranged in chronological order from the earliest to the most recent, Pinker introduces one crucial change in White’s numbers: Pinker adjusts each reported death toll to its percentage of the world’s population around the time the event occurred.  As we saw above, the effect of this kind of adjustment is decisive: It makes smaller death tolls appear much larger when the world’s population was much smaller; and it makes larger death tolls appear much smaller when the world’s population was much larger.  To express the same criticism in a different way: The further away from the year 2000 (i.e., our era) an event is plotted, the greater its death toll will appear; and the closer to the year 2000 an event is plotted, the smaller will be its apparent death toll.

Thus Figure 5-3 plots ten events that in Pinker’s adjusted rankings turn out to be more lethal than the First and Second World Wars.  “Circled dots [at the very top of this figure] represent events with death rates higher than the 20th century world wars,” Pinker explains: From left to right, these are associated with the Xin Dynasty (9-24 A.D.), the Three Kingdoms of China (189-280), the Fall of the Western Roman Empire (395-455), the An Lushan Revolt (755-763), the reign of Genghis Khan (1206-1257), the Mideast Slave Trade (7th-19th centuries), the reign of Timur Lenk (1370-1405), the Atlantic Slave Trade (1452-1807), the Fall of the Ming Dynasty (1635-1662), and the Conquest of the Americas (1492-).[212] (197)

Because the data are plotted on a base-ten logarithmic scale, what numerical values the datapoints represent on the vertical axis are impossible to determine.  Nevertheless, Figure 5-3 conveys visually and with an air of statistical certitude the two main points that Pinker wants to drive-home about the 20th century: That it wasn’t the most violent overall, and that World War II wasn’t the “most destructive man-made event in history” (contrary to what White himself writes).  But this is methodology with a political rather than scientific purpose.  Pinker adopts it not because it helps him to illuminate atrocities throughout human history, but because it enables him to reduce the apparent scale of atrocities in the recent past.

In his discussion of Figure 5-3, Pinker writes that the “cloud of data tapers rightward and downward into smaller and smaller conflicts for years that are closer to the present,” and he asks: “How can we explain this funnel?” (198)  But in asking this question, Pinker is admitting that Figure 5-3 shows that a greater number of “hemoclysms” have occurred in the recent past than in the distant past, with their frequency accelerating over the past 100-200 years.  Simply looking at what Pinker calls the “funnel,” in the lower right-hand-corner, below the 100 deaths per 100,000 line, we can see that roughly one-half of this graph’s total of 100 datapoints are plotted there.  This means that Figure 5-3 shows the opposite of what Pinker contends it does: The frequency and absolute levels of violence have been increasing into the modern era, as more and more datapoints cluster there.  This is what explains the “funnel.”

And poor Pinker cannot explain what went wrong.  So once again he resorts to our alleged “historical myopia.” (198)  He quotes the speculation of Matthew White: “Maybe the only reason it appears that so many were killed in the past 200 years is because we have more records from that period.” (198)  And he adds to this his own speculation, as well as that of the political scientist James Payne:[213]

[O]f course for every massacre that was recorded by some chronicler and then overlooked or dismissed, there must have been many others that were never chronicled in the first place…..As James Payne has noted, any study that claims to show an increase in wars over time without correcting for historical myopia only shows that “the Associated Press is a more comprehensive source of information about battles around the world than were sixteenth-century monks.” (198)

But this, too, is methodology with a political purpose—and with it, Pinker has done no better than resort to a Donald Rumsfeld-class excuse for the missing “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq: the “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”   In fact, in his treatment of Figure 5-3’s failure to show what he claims that it shows, Pinker outdoes even Rumsfeld: the absence of evidence counts as veritable proof.  “[A]s you go back into the past,” he pleads, “historical coverage hurtles exponentially downward for two and a half centuries, then falls with a gentler but still exponential decline for the three millennia before….If more conflicts fell beneath the military horizon in the anarchic feudal societies, frontiers, and tribal lands of the early periods than in the clashes between Leviathans of the later ones, then the earlier periods would appear less violent to us than they really were.” (199)

For Pinker, war simply must have been more frequent and more lethal in the distant past than in the modern era.  When the 100 datapoints of his own graph not only fail to show this, but show the opposite, they must be explained-away as the result of “historical myopia”—and Pinker dismisses Figure 5-3 even as he hangs onto it.  In the words of the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, Pinker’s excuses are “not even wrong.”

The last figure that we want to examine is Figure 5-6, “Richardson’s data,” (205) which alludes to the work of the 20th century mathematician, meteorologist, and pacifist Lewis Fry Richardson.  Pinker is quite fond of Richardson, whose posthumously published—and ponderous—Statistics of Deadly Quarrels[214] is featured prominently in Better Angels.

Pinker devotes two dense sections to Richardson’s work, one on the “Timing of Wars” (200-210) and the other on the “Magnitude of Wars.” (210-222)  Figure 5-6 depicts the 315 wars (civil as well as interstate) that Richardson identified as having either ended or started sometime between 1820 and 1950.[215] (205)

On the page in Pinker’s book where Figure 5-6 appears, many of the 315 lines of data are a blur to the eye, just as they are here.  But as the lessons that Pinker strains to impose on these data are even blurrier, let Pinker explain them:

The segments in figure 5-6 represent events of various durations, and they are arranged from left to right in time and from bottom to top in magnitude.  Richardson showed that the events are governed by a Poisson-process: they stop and start at random.  Your eye may discern some patterns—for example, a scarcity of segments at the top left [1800-1900], and the two floaters at the top right [WW I and WWII].  But by now you have learned to distrust these apparitions.  And indeed Richardson showed that there was no statistically significant trend in the distribution of magnitudes from the beginning of the sequence to the end [1800-1950].  Cover up the two outliers [WWI and WW II] with your thumb, and the impression of randomness is total. (204-205)

These are remarkably deceptive claims—and no amount of hocus-pocus can save them.

Recall that in his discussion of Figure 5-3, Pinker acknowledges but then dismisses the dramatic increase in datapoints marking armed conflicts in the recent past, and he speculates about the occurrence of conflicts in the distant past for which he has no evidence.

So it is with Figure 5-6: He acknowledges that the two most lethal conflicts in the past several hundred years were the First and Second World Wars, but he dismisses this fact by labeling them “floaters” and “apparitions,” dazzles his readers with “Poisson processes,”[216] “cognitive illusions,” and “power-law distributions,”[217] and urges us to “cover up the two outliers with [our] thumbs.”  Voila!  They disappear.  Both world wars were “statistical illusions.” (222)

Throughout, Pinker contends that the alleged “randomness” of events such as the Second World War renders both its timing (in the living memory of some of us) and its magnitude (unprecedented and in some ways unimaginable) irrelevant to our understanding of it.  He pretends that Figure 5-3 and Figure 5-6 show what they manifestly do not show, and that they don’t show what they really do.  He asks us to believe that as the “randomness” of World War I and World War II is “total,” and the fact that they occurred in modern times teaches us nothing about the modern world.  And he ignores his own contention that since our “better angels” are gradually triumphing over our “inner demons,” and that modern institutions are the major “exogenous” cause of this victory, then our “better angels” should be skewing this data over time towards fewer and smaller wars, rather than leaving “random” results.

What is more, in writing about the “drivers of war,” those “psychological or game-theoretic dynamics that govern whether quarreling coalitions will threaten, back down, bluff, engage, escalate, fight on, or surrender apply whether the coalitions are street gangs, militias, or armies of great powers,” Pinker concludes that “size doesn’t matter” (his emphasis (216)).  He offers a number of eccentric comparisons between war and forest fires and landslides (“self-organized criticality”), game theory (the “War of Attrition” game),[218] Weber’s Law, and the Pareto Principle, all in the hope of persuading his readers that, to repeat his point again, war “involves a set of underlying processes in which size doesn’t matter.” (220)  And he adds that war escapes our “desire for a coherent historical narrative,” our “tendency to see meaningful clusters in randomly spaced events,” and the “bell-curve mindset that makes extreme values seem astronomically unlikely, so when we come across an extreme event, we reason that there must have been extraordinary design behind it….The two world wars were, in a sense, horrifically unlucky samples from a statistical distribution that stretches across a vast range of destruction.” (222)

Pinker wants us to believe that the relative power of warmakers and the institutional forces developing within and between them don’t matter.  After all, was it not the emergence and consolidation of Leviathans that made it possible for our “better angels” to assert themselves and peaceableness to grow?  Manchuria was just as likely to invade Japan in 1931 as was Japan to invade Manchuria; Poland just as likely to invade Germany in 1939 as Germany to invade Poland; and Iraq just as likely to invade the United States in 2003 as the United States to invade Iraq.  He also wants us to believe that the existence of a military-industrial complex, rooted in the richest and most powerful country to emerge from the ruins of the Second World War, is irrelevant to the probability that it will engage in wars, and to the deadliness of the wars in which it does.  (At least Richardson could plead that he died in 1952, and was no longer around to analyze the institutions and practices of permanent warmaking.[219])

“Suppose,” Pinker writes, “for the sake of argument, that World War II was the most destructive event in history….What does that tell us about long-term trends in war and peace?  The answer is: nothing.  The most destructive event in history had to take place in some century, and it could be embedded in any of a large number of very different long-term trends.” (191)

With comments such as these, Pinker is imploring us to ignore major pieces of evidence that violence has reached new and more lethal heights in modern times.

This is the final triumph of ideology.

Concluding Note

Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined  is a terrible book, both as a technical work of scholarship and as a moral tract and guide.  But it is extremely well-attuned to the demands of U.S. and Western elites at the start of the 21st century, with its optimistic message that the “better angels” of their nature are taking charge, and its lament over the other peoples of the world, whose “inner demons” and cultural backwardness have prevented them from keeping-up.

With his country engaged in a record-breaking number of simultaneous wars and interventions on four continents, with NATO expanding and asserting its military dominance globally, with Israeli settlement and dispossession policies unabated on the West Bank, with the United States and Israel threatening to attack Iran, and with some critics (not cited by Pinker) expressing profound concern over a deteriorating institutional environment in which it has become “hard to imagine any president or Congress standing up to the powerful vested interests of the Pentagon, the secret intelligence agencies and the military industrial complex,”[220] along comes Pinker bearing his 832-page gift on the declining relevance of war.

Pinker’s book also coincides with the surprising emergence of an Occupy Movement that is protesting a wide range of political, economic, and social developments that have increased human insecurity, inequality, and unemployment, filled U.S. prisons, and diminished the democratic substance of elections and political power.  This is also a period in which civil liberties have been under serious attack, the right to Habeas Corpus suspended, torture openly employed and given legal sanction by the executive branch, and free speech rights of protest subject to increasing restriction.

The convenience of Pinker’s themes and the warm reception of his work reminds us of the similar treatment of Claire Sterling’s book The Terror Network back in 1981,[221] when her stress on an alleged Soviet responsibility for cross-border terrorism fit so well the Reagan administration’s intensified focus on terrorism and the threats posed by the “Evil Empire.”  Sterling’s work was ludicrously sourced and biased (e.g., she had the Apartheid regime of South Africa combating the African National Congress’ and Nelson Mandela’s “terrorism,” but not itself engaging in terrorism), and easily shown to be intellectually indefensible,[222] but The Terror Network was given great attention and treated with respect in the media, and excerpts from it were published in establishment journals and presented as credible and authoritative.[223]

It is true that Pinker’s book employs a much larger scholarly apparatus, but this is a misleading façade.  He relies heavily on the work of the International Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) as well as the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP)—two organizations whose findings largely overlap and, as we have seen, categorize the overwhelming U.S. role in the Afghan and Iraqi theaters of violence over the last decade as “secondary” to internal and “intercommunal” warfare.[224]  Pinker also relies on the Vancouver-based Human Security Report Project (HSRP), whose work draws heavily from that of PRIO and UCDP, and whose interrelated themes of a decline in great-power violence and the “shrinking costs of war,” reversed in recent years by a surge in “Islamist political violence,”[225] fit well the foreign and domestic policies of the Western imperial powers.

Pinker relies also on the work of Matthew White, who in his own book on the worst atrocities in history asserts that the “Western philosophy of war-making tries to avoid killing civilians.”  Under this philosophy, White explains, the “1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima is justified as a legitimate act of war, while the 1983 suicide bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut is condemned as terrorism.”  The “key difference,” White adds, was that “one was performed openly against a declared enemy who had the opportunity to fight back or surrender, while the other was sneaky”[226]—that is, not an act of resistance to occupying armies that had just killed some 20,000 people and were still indiscriminately shelling the hills around Beirut.  Pinker also relies on Rudolph Rummel’s work, a man who believes that Barack Obama is a left-wing appeaser of global tyrants, and busily engineering a coup d’état in the United States.[227]  Rummel’s twin-volumes on “democide” are so badly deformed by bias that he estimated that all but 5,500 Vietnamese civilians killed by U.S. forces during the war were “collateral damage” and thus the unintended victims of a civilian-protective war policy, whereas North Vietnam had deliberately targeted and killed vastly greater numbers, all as a matter of policy.[228]  Pinker himself claims that “at least 800,000 civilians died” in Vietnam, (267) but he also adds that these were “battle deaths,”[229] and that the deaths ultimately were a result of the Vietnamese Communists’ “fanatical dedication to outlasting their opponents”—that is, to their refusal to submit to superior force. (308)

Better Angels has been received even more warmly than was Claire Sterling’s book, garnering many positive reviews and its author invited to lecture about it and to appear on numerous radio, television, and Podcast interviews.[230]  The New York Times treated the book to at least five prominent mentions prior to the flattering front-page account it received in the Sunday Book Review in early October 2011 by  philosopher Peter Singer, in which Singer called it “supremely important“ and a “masterly achievement.”[231]  Overall, the Times reviewed, excerpted, discussed, blogged, mentioned, or invited Pinker himself to reiterate its themes in more than 20 different items.[232]  That was quite a positive push by the United States’ most prominent newspaper.

Even more noteworthy is the fact that so many liberals and leftists have been taken-in by Better Angels.  The British philosopher Simon Blackburn praised the “riveting and myth-destroying” book, with its “positive history of humanity” and its “wealth of historical, anthropological and geographical data.”[233]   The British political scientist David Runciman called it a “brilliant, mind-altering book,” and swallowed “Pinker’s careful, compelling account of why the 20th century does not invalidate his thesis that violence is in a long decline”—because the “violence of the 20th century is best understood as a series of random spasms,” according to Runciman, and because the “two world wars were essentially freak events, driven by contingency and in some cases lunacy.”[234]  Both reviewers display the same inability or unwillingness to engage in serious institutional analysis as does Pinker.

In this country, Stephen Colbert had Pinker as a guest on his popular Comedy Central program, but asked him no serious questions; Pinker himself repeated without challenge his mantra that “we may be living in the most peaceful era in our species’ existence.”[235]  Colbert did, however, find the courage to add that “Stalin killed 20 million people.  Mao killed 70 million people.  Hitler racked-up six million Jews alone and then like a cluster-of-millions of everybody else he didn’t care for….”

David Sirota also interviewed Pinker on his Colorado-based radio show.  Sirota’s webpage at the KKZN radio station announces that Pinker’s book is “startling and engaging,” and adds in what appears to have been reproduced from the promotional literature of the Pinker camp that “Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps)…[that] we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.”[236]

In introducing Pinker on his MSNBC show, The Nation’s Chris Hayes called Better Angels a “phenomenal book,” and added later that the book is “very persuasive that things are getting better, that humans are actually getting less violent.”  Hayes asked no challenging questions about this book during his two-hour show.  And in the show’s closing “You should know” segment, Pinker said that the audience should know that “The rate of death in war has been going down since 1946”—to which Hayes added that, yes, all of us “should know that it’s getting better, even in really bad weeks it’s getting better.”[237]

But do Colbert, Sirota, and Hayes (et al.) really go along with Pinker’s view that the 1960s was a decade of “decivilization,” and that the mushrooming of the U.S. prison population over the past 35 years is a sign of progress, as it further thinned the ranks of the Uncivilized roaming the streets?  Do they accept that what those “overly indulgent” and future-discounting savages had suffered from was a lack of “self-control,” rather than adverse social conditions?  And that the “recivilizing” process from the 1990s on—which included intensive policing, mass incarceration, and the reduction of welfare-state pampering—was the key to this improvement?

Do they also accept Pinker’s accolades to Charles Murray, Richard Herrnstein, James Q. Wilson, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan for emphasizing the alleged sociobiological roots of the class structure and inequality of U.S. society, and go along with his denunciations of the “hard-left” deniers of human nature whom,[238] in contrast to Pinker and his allies, have “radical” political agendas and want to protect the welfare state’s undermining of “self-control” and reversal of the “Civilizing Process”?  Are they not aware that Pinker completely ignores the structural violence of the global class war that has increased inequality and interacted with systems of state violence to enlarge “internal security” operations and prison populations?  That many of the Western so-called “democracies” are really national security states?  And that Pinker classifies these as the advanced-guard of the “Civilizing Process”?

Do they accept that the post-World War II era was a “Long Peace,” and for Pinker’s reason that the great powers fought no wars among themselves?  Do they buy-into Pinker’s view that the role of the United States in this era was merely the “containment” of an expansionist Communist enemy, and had no self-interested purpose or ideological base?  Do they agree with his shifting of responsibility for Korean and Vietnamese civilian deaths in those distant wars from the United States to the communist sides?  What do they think about Pinker’s citing the peace movements of the 1960s and during the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as evidence of the growth of our “better angels,” while failing to explain why those “angels” neither prevented nor stopped the wars?  Could it be that institutional factors—the global interests of transnational corporations and the military-industrial complex, the refusal of the nuclear weapons-states to give up their advantage, a permanent-war system that is more resource-commanding than ever, and possesses the potential for unprecedented destruction—carry more weight in policy decisions than does the sociobiological expansion in the powers of reason and empathy speculatively asserted by Pinker, but impossible to prove?

Can they not see the inversion of reality in the notion that it is a “militant Islam” that is the cause of Western intervention in Islamic countries?  And that the “Islamic threat” that Pinker elevates to ominous levels is contrived and, like Soviet “containment,” an excuse for a violent and forward-looking policy, necessary to meet Western institutional demands?

This critical failure to understand Pinker’s misrepresentations no doubt rests in part on the sheer volume of the purported evidence that he throws at his readers, with more than 1,950 endnotes, some 1,100 references, and roughly one figure for every six pages of text.  But selectivity and ideological bias dominate throughout, and his key evidence does not withstand close scrutiny.

We have shown that Pinker’s most basic idea, that humans moved from a Hobbesian condition of chronic warfare via the growth of civilization and the Leviathan state to a slowly and unevenly developing peaceableness, is not sustained by credible evidence.  In fact, the extant archaeological record flatly contradicts it, and in his review of Better Angels, the anthropologist Douglas P. Fry referred to this as “Pinker’s Big Lie.”[239]  But without the counter-myth of the Violent Savage, there could be no “Pacification Process,” and his story about the “better angels of our nature” would take on an entirely different cast than the one he gives us, in which “human history contains an arrow” and “violence meanders downward.” (694)

Pinker calls the belief that the “twentieth century was the bloodiest in history” a “cliché” and an “illusion.” (193)  He deals with the fact that World War II was the historical peak in war-related deaths, and World War I a big-time killer as well, by several tricks.  One is to relativize deaths by adjusting the numbers killed in earlier conflicts to later and much larger population bases, so that although the absolute death toll from World War II tops all others, he can depict it as far less deadly than several other wars and conflagrations from centuries long ago.  But while Pinker makes violence into a relative matter in order to prove his main theme, he often mentions the long historical diminution in violence without making explicit that he is talking about relative, not absolute, levels of violence.  But increases in absolute levels of violence might well be independent of the sizes of the population base.  Surely the U.S. attacks on Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq were rooted in independent factors, not the number of people then living on the planet.  Nor was there any link between the Nazi holocaust and the population of China.

Another Pinker-device is to claim that the great wars of the 20th century were “random” events, and in his book’s many figures where he cannot avoid the deadliness of the First and Second World Wars, he waves-off their magnitude as “statistical illusions”—they are “outliers” and even “apparitions”—and he urges us to forget that they both occurred in the past 100 years.  They are unrelated to “modernity,” whose “forces” for the “reduction of violence” remain sacrosanct in spite of these and subsequent wars—and the evident failure of the “better angels” to do their work.

Yet another trick is to start the “Long Peace” conveniently at the end of World War II, and to define it as a period in which there have been no wars between the great powers.  But the First and especially the Second World War had taught them that with their advancing and life-threatening means of self-destruction, they could not go on playing their favorite game of mutual slaughter any longer.  But this didn’t prevent them from carrying out numerous and deadly wars against the Third World, which filled-in the great-power war-gap nicely.  Thus the “Long Peace”—a brief 67 years through 2012—has been peaceful only in a Pinkerian sense, and it appears to have very shallow or even no roots in our “better angels.”  Furthermore, as we have stressed, it is increasingly threatened by a Western elite-instigated global class war and a permanent-war system fueled by “threats” manufactured by institutional structures that continue to overwhelm these “better angels.”

In the final analysis, The Better Angels of Our Nature is an inflated political tract that misuses data and rewrites history in accord with its author’s clear ideological biases, while finding ideology at work only in the actions of his opponents.  Pinker fears that readers will find his book “Whiggish and presentist and historically naïve,” (692) but this secular theodicy is animated by the spirit of Dr. Pangloss more than anyone else,[240] and with its deep commitments to an elitist, Western-imperial point of view, it transcends even Voltaire’s character in the fantasy that everything done by the Holy State and its minions is leading to the best of all actual worlds.

Small wonder, then, that the message of Better Angels pleases so well the editors of the New York Times and the large U.S. permanent-war establishment.  It is regrettable that despite its manifest problems, the book has bamboozled so many other people who should know better.

Edward S. Herman is professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and has written extensively on economics, political economy, and the media. Among his books are Corporate Control, Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 1981), The Real Terror Network (South End Press, 1982), and, with Noam Chomsky, The Political Economy of Human Rights (South End Press, 1979), and Manufacturing Consent (Pantheon, 2002). 

David Peterson is an independent journalist and researcher based in Chicago.  Together they are the co-authors of The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press, 2nd Ed., 2011).

 NOTES 

 [1] Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Viking, 2011).  Hereafter, we will refer to this book as Better Angels, and to the idea behind the book as “better angels.”

 [2] Asked in an email interview by the British journalist John Naughton “to explain in a nutshell what the book [Better Angels] is about,” this was part of Pinker’s reply.—Pinker continued: “The decline [in violence] has not been steady; it has not brought violence down to zero; and it is not guaranteed to continue. But it is a persistent historical development, visible on scales from millennia to years, from world wars and genocides to the spanking of children and the treatment of animals.  The fact that violence is so pervasive in history, but nonetheless can be brought down, tells us that human nature includes both inclinations toward violence and inclinations toward peace—what Lincoln called ‘the better angels of our nature’—and that historical changes have increasingly favoured our better angels. These changes include the development of government, commerce, literacy, and the mixing of ideas and peoples, all of which encourage people to inhibit their impulses, expand their empathy, extricate themselves from their parochial vantage points, and treat violence as a problem to be solved rather than as a contest to be won.”  (“Steven Pinker: Fighting talk from the prophet of peace,” The Guardian, October 15, 2011.)

 [3] Pinker was twice a “finalist” in the running for the Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category: In 1998 for his book How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton & Company, 1997); and in 2003, for his book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Penguin Books, 2002).

 [4] On Iran, see, e.g., Seymour M. Hersh, “The Redirection,” New Yorker, March 5, 2007; Seymour M. Hersh, “Preparing the Battlefield,” New Yorker, July 7, 2008; Seymour M. Hersh, “Iran and the Bomb: How real is the nuclear threat?New Yorker, June 6, 2011; Leonid Savin, “The Conundrum of Iran,” Strategic Culture Foundation, January 27, 2012; William Maclean, “Not-so-covert Iran war buys West time but raises tension,” Reuters, January 18, 2012; and Richard Engel and Robert Windrem, “Israel Teams With Terror Group to Kill Iran’s Nuclear Scientists, U.S. officials tell NBC News,” NBC News, February 9, 2012.  On Syria, see, e.g., Tony Cartalucci, “Extremists Ravaging Syria Created by US in 2007,” Information Clearing House, May 11, 2012; Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly, “Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors’ money, U.S. coordination,” Washington Post, May 15, 2012; Jay Newton-Small, “Hillary’s Little Startup: How the U.S. Is Using Technology to Aid Syria’s Rebels,” TimeWorld, June 13, 2012;  “Syria: The Military Nuances of the Conflict,” Stratfor, June 15, 2012; Scott Stewart, “Are Syria’s Rebels Getting Foreign Support?Stratfor, June 21, 2012; Charles Glass, “Syria’s many new friends are a self-interested bunch,” The National, July 11, 2012; Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper, “Stymied at U.N., U.S. Refines Plan to Remove Assad,” New York Times, July 22, 2012; and Adam Entous et al., “U.S. Mounts Quiet Effort To Weaken Assad’s Rule,” Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2012.

 [5] See, e.g., Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt, Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 (Dispatch Books, 2012).

 [6] See, e.g., Tom Engelhardt, “Obama’s Bush-League World,” TomDispatch, July 11, 2011; Jonathan Turley, “Obama’s Kill Doctrine,” Foreign Policy Blog, March 6, 2012; Tom Engelhardt, “America as a Shining Drone Upon a Hill,” TomDispatch, May 13, 2012; and Nick Turse, “The New Obama Doctrine, A Six-Point Plan for Global War,” TomDispatch, June 14, 2012.

 [7] See John Lewis Gaddis, “The Long Peace: Elements of Stability in the Postwar International System,” International Security, Vol. 10, No. 4, Spring, 1986; and The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War (Oxford University Press, 1989).

 [8] See Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia: A Study in Inhumanitarian Intervention,” Monthly Review, Vol. 59, No. 5, September, 2007.

 [9] “Out of area” operations are also referred to as “non-Article 5” operations, Article 5 referring to the “collective self-defense” article of the North Atlantic Treaty of April 4, 1949.  See The Alliance’s Strategic Concept, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Washington, D.C., April 24, 1999, para. 47-49.

 [10] See, e.g., Rick Rozoff, “Central Asia: U.S. Military Buildup On Chinese, Iranian, and Russian Borders,” Stop NATO, August 11, 2010; Diana Johnstone, “Encircling Russia, Targeting China: NATO’s True Role in US Grand Strategy,” CounterPunch, November 18, 2010; Rick Rozoff, “North Korea As Pretext: U.S. Builds Asian Military Alliance Against China And Russia,” Stop NATO, December 3, 2010; and Rick Rozoff, “U.S. Tightens Missile Shield Encirclement Of China And Russia,” Stop NATO, March 4, 2012. 

 [11] See, e.g., Dick Marty et al., Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states (Doc. 10957), Council of Europe, June 12, 2006.  Also see Christos Pourgourides et al., Enforced Disappearances (Doc. 10679), Council of Europe, September 19, 2005; and Dick Marty et al., Secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states: Second report (AS/Jur/2007/36), Council of Europe, June 7, 2007.

 [12] When advocating for the “Democratic Peace” theory in Better Angels, Pinker primarily cites the book by Bruce Russett and John Oneal, Triangulating Peace: Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations (W.W. Norton & Co., 2001).

 [13] See, e.g., the webpage maintained by William Blum, “United States waging war/military action, either directly or in conjunction with a proxy army.”

 [14] “President Bush Addresses the Nation,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, March 19, 2003.

 [15] Pinker, Better Angels, n. 234, p. 712.  Pinker adds that he is using the definition of “war” used by the International Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) and the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), according to whom a “war” requires “at least 1,000 battle-related deaths in a given year” as measured by one 12-month calendar period.  (See Nils Petter Gleditsch et al., UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset Codebook, Version 4, 2009, section 3.10, p. 7.)

 [16] For an alternative treatment of the civilian death toll from the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, see Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy (Hill and Wang, 1992), pp. 163-167. 

 [17] In Better Angels, the most important chapters on matters related to ”human nature” and  the “evolved” human mind are Ch. 8, “Inner Demons,” pp. 482-570; Ch. 9, “Better Angels,” pp. 571-670; and Ch. 10, “On Angels’ Wings,” pp. 671-696.  

 [18] Interview with Steven Pinker, The Early Show, CBS TV, December 16, 2011.

 [19] See Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon Books, 2nd. Ed., 2002), Ch. 2, “Worthy and Unworthy Victims,” pp. 37-86.   Also see Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “Legitimizing versus Delegitimizing Elections: Honduras and Iran,”  in Gerald Sussman, Ed., The Propaganda Society: Promotional Culture and Politics in Global Context (Peter Lang, 2011), pp. 194-212; esp. pp. 203-207.

 [20] See Gareth Peirce, Dispatches from the Dark Side: On Torture and the Death of Justice (Verso, 2nd. Ed. 2012).

 [21] See, e.g., Jeff Faux, The Global Class War: How America’s Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future—and What It Will Take to Win It Back (Wiley, 2006); David Harvey,  A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press, 2005); Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (Verso, 2007); and David Bollier, Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth (Routledge, 2003). 

 [22] Beginning with the July 2005 Joint Statement on civilian energy cooperation between the Bush administration and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, and culminating in the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act of October 2008, the United States has effectively underwritten the survival of India’s civilian and military nuclear programs outside the NPT, creating India-specific exemptions under the 1954 U.S. Atomic Energy Act that will enable the United States to export nuclear technology and material to India, and pressuring the Nuclear Suppliers Group to lift its ban on the export of fissile material to India.  The United States also pressured the International Atomic Energy Agency to negotiate a watered-down “safeguards” agreement with India, but only on condition that India not be forced to join the NPT.  The Hindu’s Siddharth Varadarajan cited the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Ashley Tellis, who in 2005 had explained the logic behind United States’ preferential treatment of India as follows: “[D]on’t jettison the [non-proliferation] regime ‘but, rather, selectively [apply] it in practice’.  In other words, different countries should be treated differently ‘based on their friendship and value to the U.S.’  With one stroke of the pen, India has become something more than a ‘major non-NATO ally’ of the U.S.  It has joined the Free World.  It has gone from being a victim of nuclear discrimination to a beneficiary.  India is not alone.  Israel is already there to give it company.”  (See Siddharth Varadarajan, “The truth behind the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal,” The Hindu, July 29, 2005.  Also see Esther Pan and Jayshree Bajoria, “The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal,” Council on Foreign Relations – Backgrounder, October 2, 2008.)        

 [23] See the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, adopted June 12, 1968; the Treaty entered into force on March 5, 1970.  Article VI states: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”  At the time the Treaty went into force, the world’s five declared nuclear weapons states were the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, France, and China, and Article VI applied to them specifically.

 [24] In Richard J. Barnet, The Alliance: America-Europe-Japan: Makers of the Post-War World (Simon and Schuster, 1985), p. 130.  Barnet adds that the year was 1949, and Dulles, then a U.S. Senator from New York, was addressing Senate hearings on the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

 [25] See James F. Byrnes, Speaking Frankly (Harper & Brothers, 1947), esp. pp. 294-295.

 [26] See Mark Kramer, “The Myth of a No-NATO-Enlargement Pledge to Russia,” Washington Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 2, April, 2009, pp. 39-61; esp. pp. 47-49.  Also see Mary Elise Sarotte, 1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe (Princeton University Press, 2009), esp. “NATO’s Jurisdiction Would Not Shift One Inch Eastward,” pp. 107-115; and Mary Elise Sarotte, “Not One Inch Eastward?  Bush, Baker, Kohl, Genscher, Gorbachev, and the Origin of Russian Resentment toward NATO Enlargement in February 1990,” Diplomatic History, Vol. 34, No. 1, January, 2010, pp. 119-140.  And see the summary of this scholarship in Noam Chomsky, Hopes and Prospects (Haymarket Books, 2010), pp. 278-280.  Kramer—whose actual findings belie the title of his article—quotes West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (Jan., 1990), who at a Washington press conference following talks with U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, said that they “were in full agreement that there is no intention to extend the NATO area of defense and security toward the East.”  He quotes Baker, who said to Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in Moscow (Feb., 1990) that “NATO’s jurisdiction or forces would not move eastward.”  And he quotes both Soviet and U.S. transcripts of Baker saying to Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow (Feb., 1990) that “if the United States maintains its military presence in Germany within the NATO framework, there will be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction or military presence one inch to the East” (according to the Soviet transcription), and that “there would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction or NATO’s forces one inch to the East’” (according to Baker aide Dennis Ross’s notes from the meeting).  (Kramer, pp. 47-49.)  Sarotte writes that when he was in Moscow, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (Feb., 1990) “assured Gorbachev that ‘naturally NATO could not expand its territory to the current territory of the GDR [East Germany]’,” but, Sarotte adds, that “Gorbachev did something unwise—namely, fulfilling at least some of his part of the bargain without getting written assurances that the other side would do the same….But he did not, and by the end of February it would be apparent that he would never get them.”  (Sarotte, 1989, pp. 112-114.)  “Rather than bringing an end to the history that culminated in the Cold War, they had perpetuated key parts of it instead,” Sarotte writes in the Conclusion to her book.  “As British Foreign Minister [Douglas] Hurd concluded, they did not remake the world.  Rather, the struggle to recast Europe after the momentous upheaval of 1989 resulted in prefabricated structures from before the upheaval moving eastward and securing a future for themselves.  Americans and West Germans had successfully entrenched the institutions born of the old geopolitics of the Cold War world—ones that the already dominated, most notably NATO—in the new era.” (Ibid., p. 201.)  Today, of course, the NATO bloc has also begun to move southward as well, into Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, with no end to its expansion in sight. 

 [27] See, e.g., Noam Chomsky, On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures (South End Press, 1987), esp. Ch. 1, “The Overall Framework of Order,” pp. 5-26; and Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, esp. the Introduction and Ch. 1, “Cold War: Fact and Fancy,” pp. 1-68.

 [28] See, e.g., Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (South End Press, 1979); Gabriel Kolko, Confronting the Third World: United States Foreign Policy 1945-1980 (Pantheon Books, 1988); and Audrey R. Kahin and George McTurnan Kahin, Subversion as Foreign Policy: The Secret Eisenhower and Dulles Debacle in Indonesia (The New Press, 1995).

 [29] See United States Programs and Objectives for National Security (NSC-68), April 7, 1950, in Foreign Relations of the United States, Vol. I, U.S. Department of State, 1950.

 [30] See, e.g., United States Objectives And Courses Of Action With Respect To Latin America (NSC 144/1), March 18, 1953, in Foreign Relations of the United States, Vol. IV, U.S. Department of State, 1952-1954;  U.S. Policy in the Event of Guatemalan Aggression in Latin America (NSC 5419/1), May 28, 1954, in Ibid.; Memorandum from Secretary of Defense McNamara to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy), June 11, 1965, in Foreign Relations of the United States, Vol. XXXI, U.S. Department of State, 1964-1968; Memorandum from the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy), October 26, 1964, in Ibid.; and Record of Discussion and Decisions of 22nd Meeting of the Senior Interdepartmental Group, September 28, 1967, in Ibid.

 [31] See, e.g., Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne, Eds., Mohammad Mossadeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran (Syracuse University Press, 2004). 

 [32] Also see Chomsky and Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism; Penny Lernoux, Cry of the People: United States Involvement in the Rise of Fascism, Torture and Murder and the Persecution of the Catholic Church in Latin America (Doubleday, 1980);  Michael McClintock, The American Connection: State Terror and Popular Resistance in El Salvador (Zed Books, 1985); and Michael McClintock, The American Connection: State Terror and Popular Resistance in Guatemala (Zed Books, 1985).

 [33] See, e.g., Piero Gleijeses, Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1949-1954 (Princeton University Press, 1991).   

 [34] Chalmers Johnson, Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope (Metropolitan Books, 2010), p. 90.

 [35] Pinker adds: “The irony was not lost on the eminent peace researcher Nils Petter Gleditsch, who ended his 2008 presidential address to the International Studies Association with an updating of the 1960s peace slogan: ‘Make money, not war’.”  (Better Angels, p. 288)

 [36] See Seymour Melman, The Permanent War Economy: American Capitalism in Decline (Touchstone, Rev. Ed., 1985);  Gordon Adams , The Politics of Defense Contracting: The Iron Triangle (Transaction Publishers, 1981); Richard F. Kaufman, The War Profiteers (Doubleday, 1972); and Tom Gervasi, The Myth of Soviet Military Supremacy (Harpercollins, 1987).

 [37] See Chalmers A. Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Metropolitan Books, 2nd. Ed., 2007); Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (Metropolitan Books, 2004); and Johnson, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (Metropolitan Books, 2008 ); Andrew J. Bacevich,  The Long War: A New History of U.S. National Security Policy Since World War II (Columbia University Press, 2009); Henry A. Giroux, The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex (Paradigm Publishers, 2007); Nick Turse, The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (Metropolitan Books, 2009); and Winslow T. Wheeler, The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2004).

 [38] See, e.g., Jonathan Turley, “Final Curtain: Obama Signs Indefinite Detention of Citizens Into Law As Final Act of 2011,” Jonathan Turley Blog, January 2, 2012; Turley, “10 Reasons The U.S. Is No Longer The Land Of The Free,” Jonathan Turley Blog, January 15, 2012; and Glenn Greenwald, “Federal court enjoins NDAA,” Salon, May 16, 2012.

 [39] James J. Sheehan, Where Have All the Soldiers Gone? The Transformation of Modern Europe (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008).

 [40] Fred A. Wilcox, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (Seven Stories Press, 2011), p. 35.  Also see Seymour M. Hersh, Chemical and Biological Warfare: America’s Hidden Arsenal (Doubleday, 1969); and Peter Waldman, “Body Count: In Vietnam, the Agony Of Birth Defects Calls An Old War to Mind,” Wall Street Journal, December 12, 1997.  And see the webpage maintained by the Canadian environmental research firm, Hatfield Consultants, which is devoted to the firm’s Agent Orange Reports and Presentations from 1997 through the present.

 [41] See our discussion of Pinker’s reliance on the U.S. Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism to designate the “terrorists” for him in “’Islamic Violence’,” below.

 [42] One compilation of the uses of “Haji” by U.S. military personnel includes the following uses: “1: Arabic word for someone who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca; 2: used by the American military for an Iraqi, anyone of arab decent, or even of a brownish skin tone, be they afghanis, or even bangladeshis; 3: the word many soldiers use derogatorily for the enemy.”  This list continues: “haji armor: improvised armor, installed by troops hiring Iraqis to update the vehicles by welding any available metal to the sides of Humvees;” “haji mart: any small store operated by Iraqis to sell small items to Americans;” “haji patrol: 1: escort detail; 2: Local National unit is also referred to as the Haji patrol, with all the projects that are being performed by the local nationals;” “haji shop: even the smallest base has some form of what soldiers call a ‘haji shop’ or, in more politically correct terms, a shop run by locals. Frequently near the PX, the ‘Haji’ shop would sell everything from cigarettes to knockoff sunglasses to pirated DVDs.”  (See “Slang from Operation Iraqi Freedom,”  GlobalSecurity.org.)  We have no doubt that this list could be expanded.

 [43] At the time of the U.S. war on Vietnam, the U.S. Army’s Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare, contained extensive rules and citations from the Geneva and Hague conventions pertaining to the proper conduct of occupying forces and the treatment of prisoners of war as well as civilians and the like.  (See Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare, U.S. Department of the Army, July 15, 1956.)  But there is massive evidence that these rules were systematically violated, with the violations known and even on occasion reported in the media, institutionalized and implicitly approved from above.  From among a vast literature on this topic, see John Duffett, Ed., Against the Crime of Silence: Proceedings of the International War Crimes Tribunal (Simon and Schuster, 1970); and Richard A. Falk, Gabriel Kolko, and Robert Jay Lifton, Eds., Crimes of War: A legal, political-documentary, and psychological inquiry into the responsibility of leaders, citizens, and soldiers for criminal acts in war (Vintage Books, 1971).

 [44] Dexter Filkins and James Dao, “Afghan Battle Declared Over And Successful,” New York Times, March 19, 2002.

 [45] See the “Resources” webpage as compiled by The Justice for Fallujah Project, 2010.  Also see Remembering Fallujah: A dossier of the BRussells Tribunal, 2007.

 [46] “US Marine to serve no time over Haditha killings,” Agence France Presse, January 24, 2012.  In a travesty of justice, Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich was permitted to plead guilty to one count of “negligent dereliction of duty” and was sentenced to no time behind bars; his seven Marine co-defendants all were acquitted.  The Los Angeles Times noted that the “Haditha case, like other notorious instances of civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. troops or contractors, had come to symbolize what many Iraqis viewed as the impunity of American forces.”  (Scott Gold and Carol J. Williams, “Critics Say Haditha Sends Message That U.S. Won’t Punish Military,” Los Angeles Times Blog, January 23, 2012.)

 [47] Richard A. Oppel Jr., “Tighter Rules Fail to Stem Deaths of Innocent Afghans at Checkpoints,” New York Times, March 27, 2010.    

 [48] See “Collateral Murder,” WikiLeaks, April 5, 2010. 

 [49] See the WikiLeaks homepage

 [50] See “The Common Plan or Conspiracy and Aggressive War,” Final Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of Major German War Criminals, September 30, 1946 (as posted to the website of the Avalon Project, Yale Law School).

 [51] Gilbert Burnham et al., “The Human Costs of the War in Iraq: A Mortality Study, 2002-2006,”  as posted to the website, Iraq: the Human Cost, MIT.  (Originally published in The Lancet, Vol. 368, No. 9545, October 21, 2006, without the appendices.)

 [52] Benjamin Coghlan et al., Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo: An Ongoing Crisis, International Rescue Committee – Burnet Institute, January, 2008. 

 [53] See Neil F. Johnson et al., “Bias in Epidemiological Studies of Conflict Mortality,” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 45, No. 5, September 2008.

 [54] Les Roberts et al., “Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey,” The Lancet, October 29, 2004.  As these authors explained: “[T]he Falluja cluster is an obvious outlier and might not belong with the others. When included, we estimate that the rate of death increased 2.5-fold after the invasion (relative risk 2.5 [95% CI1·6–4.2]) compared with before the war. When Falluja was excluded, we estimated the relative risk of death for the rest of the country was 1.5 (95% CI 1.1–2.3).” (p. 5)  “The cluster survey methodology we used may have, by chance, missed small areas where a disproportionate number of deaths occurred, or conversely, selected a neighbourhood that was so severely affected by the war that it represents virtually none of the population and thus has skewed the mortality estimate too high. The results from Falluja merit extra consideration in this regard.” (p. 6)  “In Falluja, the team noted that vast areas of the city had been devastated to an equal or worse degree than the area they had randomly chosen to survey. We suspect that a random sample of 33 Iraqi locations is likely to encounter one or a couple of particularly devastated areas. Nonetheless, since 52 of 73 (71%) violent deaths and 53 of 142 (37%) deaths during the conflict occurred in one cluster, it is possible that by extraordinary chance, the survey mortality estimate has been skewed upward.” (p. 7) 

 [55] Also unmentioned by Pinker and his sources is the fact that the 2006 survey covered the same 18 months as did the 2004 survey (as well as an additional 22 months beyond it).  For those original 18 months, the 2006 survey estimated 112,000 Iraqi deaths, roughly replicating the 98,000 deaths estimated for those same 18 months by the 2004 survey.  See Burnhan et al., “The Human Costs of the War in Iraq,” p. 6.

 [56] Iraq Body Count explains that its estimates are “drawn from crosschecked media reports of violent events leading to the death of civilians, or of bodies being found, and…supplemented by the careful review and integration of hospital, morgue, NGO and official figures.”   See “About the Iraq Body Count Project,” IBC website.

 [57] See the “Monthly Table” option, on the “Documented civilian deaths from violence” Database, Iraq Body Count.  Here we’ve added the IBC’s monthly totals for the period March 2003, through July, 2006.

 [58] Personal communication via email, January 23, 2012.  For a comparison of the two competing methodologies (i.e., population survey-based versus news media report-based) as they apply to Iraqi mortality rates under the U.S. invasion and occupation, see Christine Tapp et al., “Iraq War mortality estimates: A systematic review,” Conflict and Health, Vol. 2, No. 1, March 7, 2008.

 [59] Mohamed Ali et al., Iraq Family Health Survey Study Group, “Violence-Related Mortality in Iraq from 2002 to 2006,” New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 358, No. 5, January 31, 2008.  In commenting on this survey, Pinker adds that the 151,000 number “required inflating the original estimate by a fudge factor of 35 percent to compensate for lying, moves, and memory lapses.  Their unadjusted figure, around 110,000, is far closes to the battle-death body count.” (319)  In point of fact, the Iraq Family Health Survey’s so-called “fudge factor” was 100 percent, not 35 percent.

 [60] Lesley Stahl, “Punishing Saddam,” 60 Minutes, CBS TV, May 12, 1996.

 [61] John Mueller and Karl Mueller, “Sanctions of Mass Destruction,” Foreign Affairs, May/June, 1999.

 [62] See, e.g., Hans C. von Sponeck, A Different Kind of War: The UN Sanctions Regime in Iraq (New York: Berghahn Books, 2006).  Von Sponeck resigned as the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq in 2000 in protest of the U.S. and U.K. abuse of the sanctions regime and its catastrophic effect on Iraq’s population, which he regarded as genocidal.  Importantly, von Sponeck’s predecessor to the same UN office, Denis Halliday, also had resigned in 1998 to protest what he regarded as the genocidal impact of the sanctions regime.

 [63] “Congo war tops AlertNet Poll of ‘forgotten crises’,” Reuters, March 10, 2005. 

 [64] “Tsunami coverage dwarfs ‘forgotten’ crises—research,” Reuters, March 10, 2005.

 [65] Democratic Republic of Congo, 1993-2003: Report of the Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between March 1993 and June 2003, , United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,  August, 2010, para. 515.

 [66] See the description of PRIO and UCDP sources and methods in Ralph Sundberg, UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset Codebook: Definitions, sources and methods for the UCDP Battle-related death estimates, Version 5, August 1, 2011, Uppsala Conflict Data Program.   The author writes: “One important caveat is that the precision of the numbers belies the uncertainty of the estimates; while UCDP estimates are based on aggregated totals of all incidents recorded in our sources, we acknowledge that numerous events are not reported in the media.” (pp. 6-7)

 [67] Both PRIO and UCDP define “battle-related deaths” as “deaths caused by warring parties that can be directly related to combat over the contested incompatibility….The target for the attack is either the military forces or representatives for the parties, though there is often substantial collateral damage in the form of civilians killed in the crossfire, indiscriminate bombings, etc.  All fatalities—military as well as civilian—incurred in such situations are counted as battle-related deaths.”  In a footnote, the author adds: “Battle-related deaths, which concern direct deaths, are not the same as war-related deaths, which includes both direct as well as indirect deaths due to disease and starvation or attacks deliberately directed against civilians only (one-sided violence).” (Ibid., p. 6.)

 [68] See Andrew Mack et al., Human Security Report 2009/2010: The Causes of Peace and the Shrinking Costs of War (Oxford University Press, 2011), Ch. 7, “The Death Toll in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” pp. 123-131.

 [69] IRC and the Burnet Institute Strongly Affirm Congo Mortality Study Findings, unpublished response to the Human Security Report Project’s criticism, 2010. 

 [70] See Mack et al., Human Security Report 2009/2010, Ch. 7, pp. 129-131.—Whichever baseline mortality rate one uses (IRC-Burnet’s 1.5 deaths per 1,000, or the HSRP’s 2.0 deaths per 1,000), is it undeniably wrong of the HSRP to start its estimate as late as May 2001, as this misses the truly lethal period from 1996 on.  In contrast, the UN “mapping exercise,” cited above, begins its survey as early as 1993.  

 [71] Mahmoud Kassem et al., Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo (S/2002/1146), UN Security Council, October, 2002, para. 96.

 [72] See Noah Schachtman, “How the Afghanistan Air War Got Stuck in the Sky,” Wired Magazine, December 8, 2009.

 [73] See Marc Garlasco et al., “Troops in Contact”: Airstrikes and Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan (Human Rights Watch, September, 2009), p. 29.

 [74] William M. Arkin, “Checking on Civilian Casualties,” Washington Post, April 9, 2002.

 [75] For a critique of Human Rights Watch’s systematic apologetics for U.S. wars, see Edward S. Herman, David Peterson, and George Szamuely, “Human Rights Watch in Service to the War Party,” Electric Politics, February 26, 2007.

 [76] See Marc W. Herold, A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan, Rev. Webpage  Ed.; and Marc W. Herold, “Matrix of Death:  A new dossier on the (im)precision of U.S. bombing and the (under)valuation of Afghan lives,” Frontline (India), Vol. 26, No. 21,  October 11-24, 2008.

 [77] Suzanne Goldenberg, Day 100: another raid in the bombing war without end,” The Guardian, January 15, 2002.

 [78] Catherine Callaway et al., “U.S. Bombing Runs Against Frontline Taliban Troop Positions Today; Pentagon Spokeswoman Says Small Afghan Village was a Terrorist Target,” Live at Daybreak, CNN, November 2, 2001.   

 [79] Pinker, Better Angels, n. 166, p. 716.

 [80] See See Ewa Tabeau and Jakub Bijak, “War-related Deaths in the 1992–1995 Armed Conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Critique of Previous Estimates and Recent Results,” European Journal of Population, Vol. 21, June, 2005, pp. 187-215.—In section 3.3., “Overall Numbers” (pp. 205-207), they estimated 102,622 total war-related deaths on all sides, of which 55,261 (54%) were civilians at the time of death, and 47,360 (46%) were military or combatants (p. 207).  Also see Patrick Ball et al., The Bosnian Book of the Dead: Assessment of the Database, Research and Documentation Center, Sarajevo, June, 2007.  Ball et al. estimate 96,895 total war-related deaths, of which 56,662 were military or combatants at the time of death (58.5%), and 39,199 were civilians (40.5%), with 1,034 (1.1%) listed as Policemen.  (See Table 23a, “Victims Reported in BBD by Status in War,” p. 30.)  Out of the 64,003 Muslims who perished in these wars, approximately 33,000 were civilians, and 31,000 combatants.  (See Table 19, “Ethnicity of Victims Reported in BBD,” p. 29.)

 [81] See Peter Erlinder, “The U.N. Security Council Tribunal for Rwanda: International Justice, or Juridically-Constructed ‘Victor’s Impunity’?Journal of Social Justice, Vol. 4, No. 1, Fall 2010, pp. 131-214; esp. “RPF Military Superiority Established: January 1991-February 1993,” pp. 171-174.—As Erlinder describes the military superiority of the Tutsi forces: “By the time of the RPF’s [February] 1993 assault on Kigali the invading RPF had grown from the 3,000-4,000 Ugandan ‘deserters’ in late 1990, to a light infantry fighting force of at least 20,000 troops with unquestioned military superiority.  By contrast, the defending FAR [Armed Forces of Rwanda] had the 6,000-7,000 ‘real’ troops who had defeated the initial small RPF/Ugandan invasion in late 1990, augmented by some 25-30,000 recent recruits, which the U.N. commander of U.N. troops, U.N. General Dallaire, characterized as ‘rabble’” (pp. 172-173).   

 [82] See Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press, 2nd Ed., 2011), pp. 51-68.  

 [83] Ibid., pp. 58-59.  Also see David Peterson, , “Rwanda’s 1991 Census,” ZBlogs, June 17, 2011.

 [84] Christian Tomuschat et al., Guatemala: Memory of Silence: Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification (Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification, February 1999), specifically the “Conclusions,” para. 86, and “Map: Number of Massacres by Department.”

 [85] Ibid., specifically “Conclusions,” para. 120; para. 122.

 [86] See Ben Kiernan, “The Demography of Genocide in Southeast Asia: The Death Tolls in Cambodia, 1975-1979, and East Timor, 1975-80,” Critical Asian Studies, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2003, pp. 585-597; here pp. 593-594. 

 [87] As Kiernan explains: “[A] toll of 150,000 [for the 1975-1980 period] is likely close to the truth.  If we include victims of post-1980 massacres and of the 1981-82 famine, the figure is substantially higher. Gabriel Defert, assuming a 1970-75 growth rate of 2.2 percent and 1.1 percent for 1975-81, calculates a toll of 170,000 deaths by December 1981.  This would represent 24 to 26 percent of East Timor’s 1975 population.” (Ibid., p. 594)

 [88] See the treatment given to Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor in Chomsky and Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, “East Timor: Genocide on the Sly,” pp. 129-204; and in Noam Chomsky, Powers and Prospects: Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order (South End Press, 1996), esp. Ch. 8, “East Timor and World order,” pp. 204-221.

 [89] James D. Fearon and David D. Laitin, “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War,” American Political Science Review, Vol. 97, No. 1, February, 2003, pp. 75-90; here n. 4, p. 76.

 [90] See “Definition of Aggression,” UN General Assembly Resolution 3314, Twenty-ninth Session, December 14, 1974, Art. 5, para. 3.

 [91] See John Pilger’s documentary film, Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy (Carlton Television, 1994).—As Pilger explains: “Perhaps ‘genocide’ is too often used these days, but by any standards, that’s what happened here.  And it happened mostly beyond the reach of the TV camera and the satellite dish, and with the connivance and complicity of Western governments—the same governments that were prepared to go to war against Saddam Hussein, but were not prepared under almost parallel circumstances to stop a rapacious invader that had broken every provision in the United Nations Charter, and that had defied no less than 10 United Nations sanctions resolutions calling on it to withdraw from East Timor….[T]he governments of Britain, the United States, Australia, and others supplied the means by which the regime in Jakarta has bled East Timor.”

 [92] See Edward S. Herman, The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda (South End Press, 1982).

 [93] See Ibid.  Also see William D. Perdue, Terrorism and the State: A Critique of Domination Through Fear (Praeger, 1989);  Alexander George, Ed., Western State Terrorism (Routledge, 1991); and Noam Chomsky, Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism in the Real World (South End Press, Rev. Ed., 2003).

 [94] Benjamin Netanyahu, Terrorism: How the West Can Win (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986), p. 9. 

 [95] United States Code, Title 18, Part I, Ch. 113B, Section 2331, 1984.

 [96] In Pinker’s exact words: “The radical fringe of Islam harbors an ideology that is classically genocidal: history is seen as a violent struggle that will culminate in the glorious subjugation of an irredeemably evil class of people.”  (Better Angels, pp. 363-364.) 

 [97] See Marty et al., Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states (Doc. 10957), Council of Europe, June 12, 2006,  Annex, “The global ‘spider’s web’.”  

 [98] Nils Petter Gleditsch, “The Liberal Moment Fifteen Years On,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 4, December, 2008, p. 702. 

 [99] See “Main Conflict Table,” Armed Conflicts Version 4-2009, UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset. 

 [100] Pinker, Better Angels, n. 241, p. 718.  According to Pinker, the 19 alleged “armed conflicts…[that] involved a Muslim country” in 2008 were: Israel-Hamas, Iraq-Al-Mahdi, Philippines-MILF, Sudan-JEM, Pakistan-BLA, Afghanistan-Taliban, Somalia-Al-Shabaab, Iran-Jandullah, Turkey-PKK,  India-Kashmir Insurgents, Mali-ATNMC, Algeria-AQIM, Pakistan-TTP, United States-Al Qaeda, Thailand-Pattani Insurgents, Niger-MNJ, Russia-Caucasus Emirate, India-PULF, and Djibouti-Eritrea.  

 [101] Ibid., n. 243, p. 718.

 [102] According to the UCDP/PRIO nomenclature, an “Internationalized internal armed conflict occurs between the government of a state and one or more internal opposition group(s) with intervention from other states (secondary parties) on one or both sides.”  (Nils Petter Gleditsch et al., UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset Codebook, Version 4, 2009 (Uppsala Conflict Data Program / International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, 2002), p. 7.)

 [103] See “Main Conflict Table,” Armed Conflicts Version 4-2009, Row 1423, Column L, and Columns C, D, and E, respectively. 

 [104] According to the UCDP/PRIO nomenclature, “UCDP distinguishes between primary and secondary parties [to armed conflicts].  Primary parties are those that form an incompatibility by stating incompatible positions….At least one of the primary parties is the government of a state.  Secondary parties are states that enter a conflict with troops to actively support one of the primary parties.  The secondary party must share the position of the primary party it is supporting in the incompatibility.” (Gleditsch et al., UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset Codebook, Version 4, 2009, p. 2.)

 [105] See “Main Conflict Table,” Armed Conflicts Version 4-2009, Row 618, Column L, and Columns C, D, and E, respectively.

 [106] See Robert A. Pape, “It’s the Occupation, Stupid,” Foreign Policy, October 18, 2010.   Also see Robert A. Pape, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (Random House, 2005); and Robert A. Pape and James K. Feldman, Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It (University of Chicago Press, 2010).    

 [107] See David Rose, “The Gaza Bombshell,” Vanity Fair, April, 2008; also see Seumas Milne, To blame the victims for this killing spree defies both morality and sense,” The Guardian, March 5, 2008; and Henry Siegman, “Bring In Hamas,” New York Times, March 5, 2008.  By the last days of December 2008, Israel would directly launch a major military offensive against the Gaza Palestinians in order to punish them further, killing some 1,400 people in three weeks, mostly civilians.

 [108] See, e.g., Anya Schiffrin and Eamon Kircher-Allen, Eds., From Cairo to Wall Street: Voices from the Global Spring (The New Press, 2012).

 [109] See, e.g., Chris Busby et al., Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq, 2005-2009, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Vol. 7, No. 7. July 6, 2010.  Also see Martin Chulov, “Research links rise in Falluja birth defects and cancers to US assault,” The Guardian, December 31, 2010; Mujahid Kamran, “US use of DU: A war crime,”  The Nation (Pakistan), January 4, 2011; Karlos Zurutuza, “Those Laboratory Mice Were Children,” Inter Press Service, April 13, 2012;and Robert Fisk, “The Children of Fallujah,” Four-Part Special Report, The Independent, April 25-27, 2012.

 [110] In describing the “absolute demarcation between East and West,” to which we in our day might add the demarcation between the South and the North, Edward Said wrote that a major “feature of Oriental-European relations was that Europe was always in a position of strength, not to say domination.…True, the relationship of strong and weak could be disguised or mitigated….But the essential relationship…was seen…to be one between a strong and a weak partner.”  Said added: “To say simply that Orientalism was a rationalization of colonial rule is to ignore the extent to which colonial rule was justified in advance by Orientalism, rather than after the fact.”   (Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Vintage Books, 1979), p. 40, p. 39.)  Steven Pinker’s power-oriented map of the “Civilizing Process” immediately leaps to mind.

 [111] “[T]here is an optimum rate of incarceration,” Pinker believes.  But this rate is not at or very near zero, as many progressives believe.  On the contrary: “Once the most violent individuals have been locked up, imprisoning more of them rapidly reaches a point of diminishing returns, because each additional prisoner becomes less and less dangerous, and pulling them off the streets makes a smaller and smaller dent in the violence rate.  Also, since people tend to get less violent as they get older, keeping men in prison beyond a certain point does little to reduce crime.  For all these reasons, there is an optimum rate of incarceration.” (Better Angels, p. 123)

 [112] Again, notice where Pinker thinks morally superior ideas and practices have originated, and notice the direction in which he thinks they have moved: From the top to the bottom and the center to the periphery; from the greater to the lesser powers and the strong to the weak; above all, from the few to the many.  Throughout Better Angels, elite-oriented structures such as these animate and inform much of Pinker’s story. 

 [113] Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations, Trans. Edmund Jephcott (Blackwell Publishing, Rev. Ed., 2000).  A kind of systems-theorist of European table manners, Elias believed that the “standard and pattern of affect controls in societies at different stages of development, and even in different strata of the same society, can differ.”  He also believed that it is “possible to relate this long-term change in personality structures with long-term structural changes in society as a whole, which likewise tend in a particular direction, toward a higher level of social differentiation and integration.”  He believed that the “process of state formation…is an example of this kind of structural change.”  And he believed that the “civilizing process” entailed “long-term change in human personality structures towards a consolidation and differentiation of affect controls,” as well as “long-term change in the figurations which people form with one another towards a higher level of differentiation and integration”—a “lengthening of the chains of interdependence and a consolidation of ‘state controls’.”  (See the “Postscript,” which in fact Elias wrote in 1968 to serve as the Introduction to the reprint of his German original; here pp.  449-451.) 

 [114] See, e.g., Manuel Eisner, “Long-Term Historical Trend in Violent Crime,” Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, Vol. 30 (University of Chicago Press, 2003), pp. 83-142.—In Eisner’s estimate, there was a “Europe-wide massive drop—roughly by a factor of 10:1 to 50:1 over the period from the fifteenth to the twentieth century—in lethal interpersonal violence….By around 1950, most European countries experienced their lowest historically known levels of homicide rates.  Since then, an increasing trend has prevailed.” (p. 88)  But, as Eisner concludes:  “Thus far, attempts at explanation were primarily post hoc interpretations in the light of cultural, social, and political covariates of the secular trend in homicide rates.” (p. 133)

 [115] Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton & Company, 1997), p. 34, p. 395, p. 62. 

 [116] In an open letter criticizing E.O. Wilson’s 1975 book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, a group of colleagues and friends that included Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin wrote: “We are not denying that there are genetic components to human behavior.  But we suspect that human biological universals are to be discovered more in the generalities of eating, excreting and sleeping than in such specific and highly variable habits as warfare, sexual exploitation of women and the use of money as a medium of exchange. What Wilson’s book illustrates to us is the enormous difficulty in separating out not only the effects of environment (e.g., cultural transmission) but also the personal and social class prejudice of the researcher. Wilson joins the long parade of biological determinists whose work has served to buttress the institutions of their society by exonerating them from responsibility for social problems.  From what we have seen of the social and political impact of such theories in the past, we feel strongly that we should speak out against them. We must take ‘Sociobiology’ seriously, then, not because we feel that it provides a scientific basis for its discussion of human behavior, but because it appears to signal a new wave of biological determinist theories.”  (“Against ‘Sociobiology’,” New York Review of Books, November 13, 1975.)

 [117] Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Penguin Books, 2002).  See esp. chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 16, and 17, pp. 103-173, and pp. 281-336. 

 [118] Ibid., pp. 103-104.

 [119] Ibid., p. 145, pp. 134-135.  Pinker was attacking Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (W.W. Norton & Company, 1981 ); and R.C. Lewontin, Steven Rose, and Leon Kamin, Not In Our Genes: Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature (Pantheon Books, 1985).

 [120] See, e.g., Jerome H. Barkow, Leda Cosmides, and John Tooby, Eds., The Adapted Mind: Evolutionar y Psychology and the Generation of Culture (Oxford University Press, 1992).  Also see John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, “Conceptual Foundations of Evolutionary Psychology,” in David M. Buss, Ed., The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (John Wiley & Sons, 2005), pp. 5-67.

 [121] Pinker, The Blank Slate, pp. 106-107.—In their book, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (The Free Press, 1994), Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray summarized Herrnstein’s earlier argument for a “future in which socioeconomic status would increasingly be [genetically] inherited.”  This “syllogism” ran as follows: “If differences in mental abilities are inherited, and…If success requires those abilities, and…If earnings and prestige depend on success,…Then social standing (which reflects earnings and prestige) will be based to some extent on inherited differences among people.”  (See “Genetic Partitioning,” pp. 105-113; here p. 105.)

 [122] See Michel J. Crozier et al., The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission (New York University Press, 1975).  As Noam Chomsky described the elitist perspective of this work: “The crisis of democracy to which they refer arises from the fact that during the 1960s, segments of the normally quiescent masses of the population became politically mobilized and began to press their demands, thus creating a crisis, since naturally these demands cannot be met, at least without significant redistribution of wealth and power, which is not to be contemplated.  The trilateral scholars, quite consistently, therefore urge more ‘moderation in democracy’.”  (Noam Chomsky, Towards A New Cold War: Essays on the Current Crisis and How We Got There (Pantheon Books, 1982), p. 68.) 

 [123] See Charles Murray, “Prole Models,” Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2001; Murray writes that he took the phrase “proletarianization” from Arnold Toynbee.  Also see Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Defining Deviancy Down: How we’ve become accustomed to alarming levels of crime and destructive behavior,” The American Scholar, Winter, 1993.  

 [124] Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Negro Family: The Case For National Action, United States Department of Labor, March, 1965, Ch. IV, “The Tangle of Pathology.”  “The fundamental problem,” Moynihan wrote, “is family structure….[T]he Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling.”

 [125] Let us quote Pinker’s exact words here: The criminal justice system learned to better “[exploit] two features of our psychology.  One is that people—especially the people who are likely to get in trouble with the law—steeply discount the future, and respond to more certain and immediate punishments than to hypothetical and delayed ones.  The other is that people conceive of their relationships with other people and institutions in moral terms, categorizing them either as contests of raw dominance or as contracts governed by reciprocity and fairness.”  (Better Angels, p. 126)  At n. 176 and n. 177 (p. 703), Pinker’s multiple sources for these claims are academics that include the psychologists Martin Daley and his late wife Margo Wilson, the criminologists Travis Hirschi and Michael R. Gottfredson, the late criminologist James Q. Wilson and the late psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein, and the anthropologist Alan Fiske. 

 [126] See Lauren E. Glaze, “Correctional Population in the United States, 2010,” Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, U.S. Department of Justice, December 2011.

 [127] See Dorsey v. United States (11-5683) and Hill v. United States (11-5721), Supreme Court of the United States, June 21, 2012.  In delivering the Majority Opinion of the Court by a narrow 5-to-4 margin, Justice Stephen Breyer noted that “Until 2010, the relevant statute imposed upon an offender who dealt in powder cocaine the same sentence it imposed upon an offender who dealt in one one-hundredth that amount of crack cocaine.” (p. 1.)

 [128] See Trends in U.S. Corrections, The Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C., May, 2012.  Also see Jerome G. Miller, Search and Destroy: African-American Males in the Criminal Justice System (Cambridge University Press, 1996).

 [129] See Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List (Eighth Edition), International Centre for Prison Studies, King’s College London, January, 2009.

 [130] Hannah Holleman et al., “The Penal State in an Age of Crisis,” Monthly Review, Vol. 61, No. 2, June, 2009.

 [131] Randall G. Shelden, Controlling the Dangerous Classes: A History of Criminal Justice in America (Allyn & Bacon, 1st. Ed., 2001), p. 269.  Also see Shelden, Our Punitive Society: Race, Class, Gender and Punishment in America (Waveland Press, Inc., 2010).

 [132] Jerome G. Miller, “American Gulag,” Yes Magazine, Fall, 2000.  Also see Steven R. Donzinger, Ed., The Real War on Crime: The Report of the National Criminal Justice Commission (HarperPerennial, 1996).

 [133] See Pinker’s “seven links…between reasoning ability and peaceable values” (Better Angels, pp. 661-667).  Pinker believes that “intelligence causes, rather than correlates with, classical liberal attitudes” (Ibid., p 663), and in the third of his “seven links,” which he calls “Intelligence and Liberalism,” he writes not only that “smarter people are more liberal,” but emphasizes that that “intelligence leads to classical rather than left-libertarianism.”  He continues: “[S]ince intelligence is correlated with social class, any correlation with liberalism, if not statistically controlled, could simply reflect the political prejudices of the upper middle class.  But the key qualification is that the escalator of reason predicts only that intelligence should be correlated with classical liberalism, which values the autonomy and well-being of individuals over the constraints of tribe, authority, and tradition.  Intelligence is expected to correlate with classical liberalism because classical liberalism is itself a consequence of the interchangeability of perspectives that is inherent to reason itself.  Intelligence need not correlate with other ideologies that get lumped into contemporary left-of-center political coalitions, such as populism, socialism, political correctness, identify politics, and the Green movement.   Indeed, classical liberalism is sometimes congenial to the libertarian and anti-political-correctness factions in today’s right-of-center coalitions….[I]ntelligence tracks classical liberalism more closely than left-liberalism.”  (Ibid., pp. 662-663).  We believe these are extravagant claims, with Pinker’s own deep ideological commitments hidden behind the mask of  “evolutionary psychology.”

 [134] In summarizing work on the human sense of right and wrong by figures such as the University of Chicago psychologist Richard Shweder, the University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt, and especially that of the UCLA anthropologist Alan Fiske, Pinker makes the claim that “One can line up [Fiske’s relational] models…along a scale that more or less reflects their order or emergence in evolution, child development, and history: Communal Sharing > Authority Ranking > Equality Matching > Market Pricing.” (See Pinker, “Morality and Taboo,” Ibid, pp. 622-642, esp. p. 624-629; here p. 628.)  Here again, we believe these claims about a neatly defined taxonomy of human relations, with the most advanced being one called “Market Pricing,” are extravagant, and that Pinker’s own as well as his sources’ deep ideological commitments are hiding behind the mask of  “evolutionary psychology.”

 [135] Pinker, The Blank Slate, pp. 155-158; and n. 34, p. 448.

 [136] See R. J. Rummel, Death By Government (Transaction Publishers, 1994), p. 2.

 [137] See Chomsky and Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism.

 [138] Voice From Northeastern Brazil to III Conference of Bishops, International Movement of Catholic Intellectuals and Professionals, Mexico, November, 1977.   This document continued: “In order to impose the model of development which gives privilege to small minorities, it was necessary to create or maintain a repressive State which in turn provokes a situation of civil war.  The very theoreticians of the system insist on the necessary link between development and security; they recognize that the development they wish to impose on the country can only provoke indignation among the people….If there were any type of freedom left, the cries of protest would be so great that the only solution has been to impose absolute silence.”  (In Ibid., p. 54.)

 [139] See, e.g., Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years (Pluto Press, 1994; AAARGH Internet Edition, 2005), esp. Ch. 2, “Prejudice and Prevarication,” pp. 16-29.   

 [140] See Ibid., esp. “The Ideology of ‘Redeemed’ Land” and “Israeli Expansionism,” pp. 9-13.

 [141] Quoted favorably by Pinker himself in The Blank Slate, p. 291.

 [142] See, e.g., Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (South End Press, 1989), pp. 45-47.  As Chomsky wrote: “One notable doctrine of Soviet propaganda is that the elimination by Lenin and Trotsky of any vestige of control over production by producers and of popular involvement in determining social policy constitutes a triumph of socialism.  The purpose of this exercise in Newspeak is to exploit the moral appeal of the ideals that were being successfully demolished; Western propaganda leaped to the same opportunity, identifying the dismantling of socialist forms as the establishment of socialism, so as to undermine left-libertarian ideals by associating them with the practices of the grim Red bureaucracy.  To this day, both systems of propaganda adopt the terminology, for their different purposes.  When both major world systems of propaganda are in accord, it is usually difficult for the individual to escape their tentacles.  The blow to freedom and democracy throughout the world has been immense.” (p. 45)

 [143] See Robert A. Brady, The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism (Howard Fertig, Inc., 1969 (originally 1937)); also see Franz Neumann, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, 1933-1944 (Ivan R. Dee, 2009 (originally1944)).

 [144] See, e.g., David Felix, “On Financial Blowups and Authoritarian Regimes in Latin America,” in Jonathan Hartlyn and Samuel A. Morley, Eds., Latin American Political Economy: Financial Crisis and Political Change  (Westview Press, 1986), pp.  85-125.  Referring to the impact of the Chicago Boys on Pinochet’s Chile from 1973 through the onset of the Latin American debt crisis in the early 1980s, Felix noted that “virtually the entire banking system has been taken over by the government and is now operated by government-appointed managers.  A wisecrack…is that the transition from Allende to Pinochet has been a transition from utopian to scientific socialism, since the means of production are ending up in the hands of the state” (n. 14, p. 120).  He adds that this has “led some observers to dub [the Chicago Boys] ‘Marxists of the right’” (n. 7, p. 119).  Also see Greg Grandin, Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, The United States, and The Rise of the New Imperialism (Metropolitan Books, 2006), Ch. 5, “The Third Conquest of Latin America: The Economics of the New Imperialism,” pp. 159-194.

 [145] Here Pinker reprises an argument that he offered nine years earlier in The Blank Slate, on the “ideological connection between Marxist socialism and National Socialism,” with “Hitler [having] read Marx carefully while living in Munich in 1913…” (p. 157).  

 [146] In his catalog of Hitler’s “private library,” the historian Timothy Ryback wrote that though “Ernst Hanfstaengl ascribed to the idled Nazi leader a more ambitious intellectual fare that allegedly included the philosophers Arthur Schopenhauer, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche,…[though] none of these individuals are represented among the surviving books from Hitler’s prison years.”  (See Timothy W. Ryback, Hitler’s Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), pp. 67-68.)  Of course Hitler did not miss the fact that many of the most accomplished socialist and communist intellectuals were Jewish. 

 [147] To quote Hitler’s own words, referring to his years in Vienna, prior to World War I: “It was during this period that my eyes were opened to two perils, the names of which I scarcely knew hitherto and had no notion whatsoever of their terrible significance for the existence of the German people.  These two perils were Marxism and Judaism.”  (Mein Kampf (My Struggle), Trans. James Murphy and Abbots Langley (Fredonia Classics, 2003), p. 21.) 

 [148] Pinker lists both the “Mideast Slave Trade” and the “Atlantic Slave Trade” in the figure that appears in  Better Angels, p. 195.

 [149] See Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World (Verso, 2002).

 [150] In Better Angels, Pinker separately attributes a higher death-toll of 40 million to Mao, but this higher number includes the famine-related deaths as well as deaths in the armed conflict that led to the communists’ takeover of China in 1948 and deaths during the “Cultural Revolution” period of the 1960s.  See “(Possibly) The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done To Each Other,” Better Angels, p. 195.  For Pinker’s source in this case, see Matthew White, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things (W.W. Norton & Company, 2012),  pp. 429-438.

 [151] Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen, Hunger and Public Action (Clarendon Press, 1989), Ch. 11, “China and India,” pp. 204-225; esp. pp. 210-215.

 [152] Ibid.,p. 210.

 [153] Ibid., pp. 214-215.  Drèze and Sen have written elsewhere that the “success of the Chinese economic and social policies have depended on the concerns and commitments of the leadership.  Because of its radical commitments to the elimination of poverty and to improving living conditions—a commitment in which Maoist as well as Marxist ideas and ideals played an important part—China did achieve many things that the Indian leadership failed to press for and pursue with any vigour.  The elimination of widespread hunger, illiteracy, and ill health falls solidly in this category.  When state action operates in the right direction, the results can be quite remarkable, as is illustrated by the social achievements of the pre-reform period.”  (Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen, India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity (Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 77.)  In contrast to the kind of interest that Pinker takes in the alleged “Mao masterminded…famine” of the Great Leap Forward period, surely there must have been some alternative plan at work there to have benefitted China’s general population so dramatically.  (Also see Amartya Sen, “Indian Development: Lessons and Non-Lessons,” Daedalus, Vol. 118, No. 4, Fall, 1989, pp. 369-392.) 

 [154] In Mehul Srivastava and Adi Narayan, “Early Death Assured in India Where 900M Don’t Eat Enough,” Bloomberg, June 13, 2012.

 [155] As Drèze and Sen added: “The ‘support-led security’ on the basis of which China had achieved so much prior to the reforms has been weakened rather than strengthened in some important ways by the reforms affecting the economy and the society….There is a clear weakening of commitment to public support measures, which may be partly ideological, related to the recent passion for economic liberalism….” (Hunger and Public Action, p. 219.)

 [156] See Xihze Peng, “China’s Demographic History and Future Challenges,” Science, Vol. 333, No. 6042, July 29, 2011, pp. 581-587.  Table 1, “Major demographic indicators for mainland China” (p. 581), recounts China’s death- rate per 1,000 people according to its last six National Population Censuses.  These death- rates were: 1953 (14.0); 1964 (11.5); 1982 (6.6); 1990 (6.7); 2000 (6.5); and 2010 (7.1). 

 [157] See Stephen F. Cohen, Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia (W.W. Norton & Company, 2000).

 [158] In Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (Metropolitan Books, 2003), p. 147.

 [159] Ibid., p. 147

 [160] See David M. Kotz and Fred Weir, Russia’s Path from Gorbachev to Putin: The demise of the Soviet system and the new Russia (Routledge, Rev. Ed., 2007), especially pp. 151-258.   As these authors wrote: “A strong case can be made that Russia’s public health crisis and its demographic decline are a result of the neoliberal transition strategy and the economic and social effects it has produced, such as the impoverishment of a large part of the population, rising unemployment, sharply reduced access to health care, a collapse of the public health system, and a breakdown in public order….There is no place for most of Russia’s population in this new economic system.” (p. 257)  

 [161] See, e.g., Stephan Sievert, Sergey Zakharov and Reiner Klingholz, The Waning World Power: The demographic future of Russia and the other Soviet successor states, The Institute for Strategic, Political, Security and Economic Consultancy, Berlin, 2011.  These authors estimate that, “had it not been for immigration, population losses [in Russia] would have reached 11.5 million” by 2011 (p. 1).

 [162] On the impact of the Iraqi sanctions regime, see von Sponeck, A Different Kind of War

 [163] Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), “Islamic Tolerance,” pp. 238-240. 

 [164] R.J. Rummel, “Was the Democratic Peace Killed? Part IV, Death by Obama,” A Freedomist View, September 15, 2009.

 [165] R.J. Rummel, “Tyranny Closing In—The Stealth Coup,” A Freedomist View, August 8, 2009; and R.J Rummel, “Tyranny In View—The Not So Stealth Obama Coup,” A Freedomist View, October 6, 2009.

 [166] R.J. Rummel, Death By Government, pp. 276-277.   Also see Table 11.1, “Vietnamese War Dead and Democide, 1945-87,” p. 243, where Rummel attributes 6,000 Vietnamese deaths to U.S. “democide.” 

 [167] For Rummel’s definition of “democide,” see Ibid., Ch. 2, “The New Concept of Democide,” pp. 31-43, esp. p. 42.  

 [168] See the series by Nick Turse, Deborah Nelson, and Janet Lundblad, “Vietnam—The War Crimes Files,” Los Angeles Times, August 6 and August 20, 2006.

 [169] Rummel, Death By Government, p. 273.

 [170] See n. 40, above.

 [171] Rummel, Death By Government, p. 272 and p. 274.  For more of Rummel’s elaborate rationalizations for his egregiously low estimate of the U.S. “democide” in Vietnam, see pp. 271-277, a passage that is remarkable for its author’s complete rejection of his own definition of the term “democide” wherever U.S. violence in Vietnam (South or North) is the issue. 

 [172] Ibid., p. 91; pp. 97-98.

 [173] In Andrew Mack et al., Human Security Report 2009/2010,  the HSRP acknowledged the “generous support” that it received from the British, Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Swiss governments.  The HSRP also thanked its “collaborators” at the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (Sweden) and the International Peace Research Institute Oslo (Norway). (p. iv.) 

 [174] According to the HSRP, this new “[global security architecture] comprises a loose but ever-expanding network of international organizations, donor and other governments, inter-agency committees, informal clusters of like-minded states…, think-tanks, and large numbers of national and international NGOs,” all “grounded in a growing normative consensus that the international community has a responsibility to prevent war, to help stop wars that cannot be prevented, and to try and prevent those that have stopped from starting again.” (Ibid., p. 79.)   If over the past two decades this “normative consensus” has been applied to U.S.-led violence with as much force as it has to the targets under attack by U.S. violence, we’d like to see the HSRP’s evidence for it.  Of course there is none.

 [175] Ibid., p. 70.

 [176] Ibid., p. 28.

 [177] See International Security Assistance Force (ISAF): Key Facts and Figures, NATO, January 9, 2012.

 [178] In Pinker’s usage, the politicization of “democracy” versus “nondemocracy” is even more evident.  “Not only do democracies avoid disputes with each other, but there is a suggestion that they tend to stay out of disputes across the board,” he writes.  “The Democratic Peace held not only over the entire 115 years spanned by the dataset [i.e., the Correlates of War Project’s Militarized Interstate Disputes 2.1 Dataset] but also in the subspans from 1900 to 1939 and from 1989 to 2001.  That shows that the Democratic Peace is not a by-product of the Pax Americana during the Cold War.  In fact, there were never any signs of a Pax Americana or a Pax Britannica: the years when one of these countries was the world’s dominant military power were no more peaceful than the years in which it was just one power among many….[Bruce] Russett and [John] Oneal [in Triangulating Peace: Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations] found only one restriction on the Democratic Peace: it kicked in only around 1900, as one might have expected from the plethora of 19th century counterexamples.” (Better Angels, p. 283-284.)

 [179] Mack et al., Human Security Report 2009/2010,  p. 10.

 [180] Gerdis Wischnath and Nils Petter Gleditsch, “Battle deaths—comparing the UCDP and PRIO data,” Peace Research Institute of Oslo, March 10, 2011, p. 13.    

 [181] In the Wischnath-Gleditsch paper, both the UCDP and PRIO definitions of “battle deaths” are given. To simplify, “battle-related deaths” for the UCDP “refer to those deaths caused by the warring parties that can be directly related to combat over the contested incompatibility” (e.g., a territory or a government), and include both “traditional battlefield fighting” as well as what “does not resemble what happens on a battlefield.”  For PRIO, the category includes “all people, soldiers and civilians, killed in combat,” but no one killed in “one-sided violence”—in massacres, for example.  (Ibid., n. 7, p. 8.)

 [182] Also see Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought (Viking, 2007), pp. 65-73; and pp. 208-225. 

 [183] See “Main Conflict Table,” Armed Conflicts Version 4-2009. This version of the UCDP-PRIO armed conflicts dataset lists 260 armed conflicts for the years 1946-2008, and consists of 1957 rows (from Row 2 through Row 1958) and 26 columns,  in which the system of classifying armed conflicts is broken down. 

 [184] Ibid., “North Korea/South Korea,” Rows 490-493.

 [185] Ibid., “South Vietnam,” Rows 554-563, and “North Vietnam/South Vietnam,” Rows 1004-1014.—It is important to add that the UCDP-PRIO dataset makes no mention of any U.S. role in Vietnam for the years 1955-1961.  

 [186] Ibid., “Guatemala,” Row 400.

 [187] Ibid., “Guatemala,” Rows 401-431.

 [188] Ibid., “El Salvador,” Rows 1225-1237.

 [189] Ibid., “Nicaragua,” Rows 1456-1466.

 [190] Ibid., “Hungary,” Row 564.

 [191] Ibid., “Afghanistan,” Row 1953.

 [192] In the same section of the book, Pinker provides two other bar diagrams that convey information of similar import: Figure 2-3, “Rate of death in warfare in nonstate and state societies” (p. 53), and Figure 2-4, “Homicide rates in the least violent nonstate societies compared to state societies” (p. 55).  The line of criticism that we develop here applies to these figures as well.

 [193] Steven Pinker, “A History of Violence,” New Republic, March 19, 2007.

 [194] The seven writers whom Pinker cites as purveyors of “grim diagnoses of modernity” are Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, Zygmunt Bauman, Edmund Husserl, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Jean-François Lyotard.  (See Better Angels, n. 6, p. 707.)  

 [195] The exact passage in Rousseau reads: “The example of savages, which people have almost all found alike on this point, confirms that the human race was made to rest in this state forever, that it is the true youth of the world, and that all later progress has apparently been so many steps towards the perfection of the individual but has, in fact, been towards the decrepitude of the species.”  (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and the Foundations of Inequality Among Men, 1754, Trans. Ian Johnston (eBooks@Adelaide, The University of Adelaide Library, 2009), Second Part.

 [196] In Pinker’s game-theory-laden way of expressing himself, he writes: “Any organism that has evolved to be violent is a member of a species whose other members, on average, have evolved to be just as violent….When a tendency towards violence evolves, it is always strategic.  Organisms are selected to deploy violence only in circumstances where the expected benefits outweigh the expected costs.  That discernment is especially true of intelligent species, whose large brains make them sensitive to the expected benefits and costs in a particular situation, rather than just to the odds averaged over evolutionary time…. If you have reason to suspect that your neighbor is inclined to eliminate you, then you will be inclined to protect yourself by eliminating him first in a preemptive strike.…The tragedy is that your competitor has every reason to crank through the same calculation, even if he is the kind of person who wouldn’t hurt of fly.  In fact, even if he knew that you started out with no aggressive designs on him, he might legitimately worry that you are tempted to neutralize him out of fear that he will neutralize you first, which gives you an incentive to neutralize him before that, ad infinitum.” (Better Angels, p. 32-34)

 [197] Thomas Hobbes, De Cive: Philosophicall Rudiments Concerning Government and Sociiety (1651), Ch. I, “Of the state of men without Civill Society,” para. XII.  As Hobbes reiterated this point some years later in his Leviathan: “Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man.  For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather.  For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary.  All other time is peace.  Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  (Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or the Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil (1660), Ch. XIII, “On the Natural Condition of Mankind As Concerning Their Felicity and Misery.”)

 [198] For a discussion of the symbolic uses of the names “Rousseau” and “Hobbes,” see Andrew Lawler, “The Battle Over Violence,” Science, Vol.  336, May 18, 2012.

 [199] See, e.g., the early criticism of Pinker by Christopher Ryan, “Steven Pinker’s Stinker on the Origins of War,” Psychology Today, March 29, 2011, which was based on Pinker’s 2007 TED lecture on the same topic; Neil L. Whitehead, “How Reason Has Trumped Violence,” Toronto Globe and Mail, October 14, 2011; Brendan Moody, “A Long History of Something or Other (Part I): Anecdotes and Anthropology,” Notes from a Crackpot, October 21, 2011; and Christopher Ryan, “Pinker’s Dirty War on Prehistoric Peace,” Huffington Post, January 9, 2012.

 [200] R. Brian Ferguson, “Pinker’s List: Exaggerating Prehistoric War Mortality,” which is scheduled to appear in a collection edited by Douglas P. Fry, War, Peace, and Human Nature: The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).  Also see Ferguson, “The Prehistory of War and Peace in Europe and the Near East,” which will appear in the same Fry-edited collection.

 [201] Douglas P. Fry, “Peace in Our Time,” Book Forum, December/January, 2012.

 [202] Among the most important sources for Pinker’s claims in this section are the economist Samuel Bowles, the sociobiologist Johan M. G. van der Dennen, the political scientist Azar Gat, the anthropologist Lawrence Keeley, the anthropologists Grant McCall and Nancy Shields, the economists Richard Steckel and John Wallis, the archaeologist I.J.N. Thorpe, and the anthropologist Phillip L. Walker.

 [203] Here quoting two articles by R. Brian Ferguson: “The Birth of War,” Natural History, July/August, 2003; and “On Evolved Motivations for War,” Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 73, No. 3, July, 2000, which was Ferguson’s review of a book by one of Pinker’s sources on the alleged violence and warfare among hunter-gatherer humans, Azer Gat.  Also see R. Brian Ferguson, “Born To Live: Challenging Killer Myths,” in Robert W. Sussman and C. Robert Cloninger, Eds., Origins of Altrusim and Cooperation (Springer, 2011), pp. 249-270.    

 [204] See, e.g., John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, “Groups in Mind: The Coalitional Roots of War and Morality,” in Henrik Høgh-Olesen, Ed., Human Morality & Sociality: Evolutionary & Comparative Perspectives (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010), pp. 191-234; here pp. 191-192.

 [205] See Babatunde Osotimehin et al., State of the World Population 2011: People and possibilities in a world of 7 billion (United Nations Population Fund, 2011), pp. 1-7.

 [206] White, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things, pp. 400-421; p. 560.

 [207] In an endnote, Pinker admits that with respect to the An Lushan Revolt, Matthew White “notes that the [death toll] is controversial.”  (Pinker, Better Angels, n.13, “An Lushan Revolt,” p. 707.)  But what White actually writes is that of the five sources whom he uses to produce his estimate of the An Lushan Revolt, two express “major doubt” about the accuracy of the death tolls, one “slight doubt,” one “apparent acceptance,” and one “acceptance.”  (White, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things, n. 17, pp. 575-576.)  This means is that the evidence for the death toll related to the An Lushan Revolt is largely junk—and so on for the other major “hemoclysms” that Pinker promotes in order to show show that World War II was not the bloodiest event in human history. 

 [208] As Johan Galtung has written: “We shall refer to the type of violence where there is an actor that commits the violence as personal or direct, and to violence where there is no such actor as structural or indirect.  In both cases individuals may be killed or mutilated, hit or hurt in both senses of these words, and manipulated by means of stick or carrot strategies.  But whereas in the first case these consequences can be traced back to concrete persons as actors, in the second case this is no longer meaningful. There may not be any person who directly harms another person in the structure. The violence is built into the structure and shows up as unequal power and consequently as unequal life chances…. The important point here is that if people are starving when this is objectively avoidable, then violence is committed,…as in the way world economic relations are organized today.”  (Johan Galtung, “Violence, Peace, and Peace Research,” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 6, No. 3, 1969, pp. 170-171.)

 [209] Pinker adopts a philosophical guise, and asks whether he should use actual (absolute) or adjusted (relativized) numbers.  His response is that the “choice confronts us with the moral imponderable of whether it is worse for 50 percent of a population of one hundred to be killed or 1 percent of a population of one billion.”  But he is satisfied with the conclusion that “in comparing the harmfulness of violence across societies, we should focus on the rate, rather than the number, of violent acts.” (Better Angels, p. 47)  We call this  Pinker’s expanding-denominator deceit

 [210] Timothy Snyder, “War No More: Why the World Has Become More Peaceful,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 91, No. 1, January/February, 2012.  Further illuminating Pinker’s expanding-denominator deceit, Synder asks: “Is it preferable for ten people in a group of 1,000 to die violent deaths or for ten million in a group of one billion?  For Pinker, the two scenarios are exactly the same, since in both, an individual person has a 99 percent chance of dying peacefully.”

 [211] White, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things, p. xiv.

 [212] See “Ranking: The One Hundred Deadliest Multicides,” Ibid., pp. 529-531.

 [213] See James L. Payne, A History of Force: Exploring the Worldwide Movement Against Habits of Coercion, Bloodshed, and Mayhem  (Lytton Publishing Company, 2003).

 [214] Lewis F. Richardson, Statistics of Deadly Quarrels, Quincy Wright and C.C. Lineau, Eds. (The Boxwood Press, 1960).

 [215] Pinker takes Figure 5-6 from Brian Hayes, “Computing Science: Statistics of Deadly Quarrels,” American Scientist, Vol. 90, No. 1, January/February, 2002.

 [216] About “Poisson processes,” Pinker explains: “In a Poisson process, events occur continuously, randomly, and independently of one another.  Every instant the lord of the sky, Jupiter, rolls the dice, and if they land snake eyes he hurls a thunderbolt.  The next instant he rolls them again, with no memory of what happened the moment before….[T]he intervals between events are distributed exponentially: there are lots of short intervals and fewer and fewer of them as they get longer and longer.  That implies that events that occur at random will seem to come in clusters, because it would take a nonrandom process to space them out.”  (Better Angels, p. 203.)

 [217] About “power-law distributions,” Pinker explains: “Piles of data in which the log of the frequency of a certain kind of entity is proportional to the log of the size of that entity, so that a plot on log-log paper looks like a straight line, are called power-law distributions.  The name comes from the fact that when you put away the logarithms and go back to the original numbers, the probability of an entity showing up in the data is proportional to the size of that entity raised to some power (which translates visually to the slope of the line in the log-log plot), plus a constant.” (Ibid., p. 211.)

 [218] Pinker’s major source at this point is John Maynard Smith, Evolution and the Theory of Games (Cambridge University Press, 1982).  Calling Smith the “biologist who first applied game theory to evolution,” Pinker explains: “A game of attrition is mathematically equivalent to an auction in which the highest bidder wins the prize and both sides have to pay the loser’s low bid.  And of course it can be analogized to a war in which the expenditure is reckoned in the lives of soldiers.  The War of Attrition is one of those paradoxical scenarios in game theory (like the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the Tragedy of the Commons, and the Dollar Auction) in which a set of rational actors pursuing their interests end up worse off than if they had put their heads together and come to a collective and binding agreement….Thanks to the perverse logic of the attrition game, in which the loser pays too, the bidders may keep bidding after the point at which the expenditure exceeds the value of the prize.  They can no longer win, but each side hopes not to lose as much.  The technical term for this outcome in game theory is ‘a ruinous situation’.  It is also called a ‘Pyrrhic victory’; the military analogy is profound.”  (Better Angels, pp. 217-218.)  

 [219] See Lewis F. Richardson, Arms and Insecurity: A Mathematical Study of the Causes and Origins of War, Nicolas Rashevsky and Ernesto Trucco, Eds. (The Boxwod Press, 1960).  Note that Richardson completed this study in 1940.

 [220] Johnson, Nemesis, p. 9.

 [221] Claire Sterling, The Terror Network: The Secret War on International Terrorism (Henry Holt & Co., 1981).

 [222] For critiques of Claire Sterling’s work, see, e.g., Herman, The Real Terror Network, pp. 49-65; Edward S. Herman and Frank Brodhead, The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection (Sheridan Square Publications, 1986), pp. 123-146; and Edward S. Herman and Gerry O’Sullivan, The “Terrorism” Industry: The Experts and Institutions That Shape Our View of Terror (Pantheon Books, 1989), p. 63; pp. 170-173.  As Herman and O’Sullivan wrote: “[T]he core evidence in Sterling’s work rested on CIA disinformation ‘blown back’ to the U.S. public, and to [William] Casey and [Alexander] Haig, via Sterling.  Bob Woodward reports that a senior review panel, appointed by Casey to assess CIA estimates of Soviet involvement in terrorism, discovered that Sterling had relayed a story that ‘was part of an old, small-scale CIA covert propaganda operation….[Lincoln Gordon, chairman of the review panel] found the sequence particularly telling: from CIA propaganda to Sterling’s book galleys, to Haig’s reading of the galleys, to Haig’s press conference, then Haig’s comments picked up in the New York Times article by Sterling, then finally in Sterling’s book’.  Intelligence analyst Gregory Treverton contends that the CIA analysts assigned the task of checking out Sterling’s sources found that ‘virtually all of them were CIA disinformation—articles planted by covert operators in various media’.”  (The “Terrorism” Industry, p. 63.)

 [223] On the media’s treatment of Sterling, see Herman and Brodhead, The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection, pp. 181-202.     

 [224] See “’Islamic Violence’,” above.

 [225] Mack et al., Human Security Report 2009/2010, Part II, “The Shrinking Costs of War,” pp. 102-152; and Part III, “Trends in Human Insecurity,”  pp. 156-187.

 [226] White, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things, pp. 337-338.

 [227] See “Sources and Methods,” above.

 [228] Rummel, Death by Government, pp. 277-278; and Table 11.1, “Vietnamese War Dead and Democide, 1945-87,” p. 243.

 [229] Pinker, Better Angels, n. 184, p. 711. 

 [230] For a list of some of the positive media fare that has greeted Pinker’s book, Pinker maintains several webpages devoted to Better Angels.  See <http://stevenpinker.com/>.

 [231] Peter Singer, “Is Violence History?New York Times, October 9, 2011. 

 [232] We ran Nexis database searches of the New York Times for the twelve-month period from May 1, 2011 through April 30, 2012.  The search parameters were ‘Pinker’ and ‘Better Angels’.  Between Patricia Cohen, “Genetic Basis for Crime: A New Look,” June 20, 2011, which quoted Pinker at length and mentioned his forthcoming book, and Stanley Fish, “Citing Chapter and Verse: Which Scripture Is the Right One?“ (online exclusive), March 26, 2012, at least 23 different non-trivial items (i.e., exclusive of “Best Seller” mentions and letters to the editor) were published in the Times’s print and online editions that dealt positively with Pinker’s book .

 [233] Simon Blackburn, “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” New Statesman, October 24, 2011.

 [234] David Runciman, “The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker,” The Guardian, September 24, 2011.

 [235] The Colbert Report, Comedy Central, October 18, 2011.

 [236] David Sirota, Interview with Steven Pinker, Colorado Progressive Talk Radio, KKZN-AM760, October 19, 2011.

 [237] Up w/Chris Hayes, MSNBC, March 25, 2012.

 [238] See our section on “Class, Race, and the ‘Science of Self-Control’.”  The four scientists Pinker has in mind here are Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin, Leon Kamin, and Steven Rose.

 [239] Fry, “Peace in Our Time.”

 [240] Although they were writing nine years before the publication of The Better Angels of Our Nature, and sharing their reflections on the life and work of the late Stephen Jay Gould, who died in 2002, what Richard C. Lewontin and Richard Levins wrote back then about Gould’s dislike of “Panglossian adaptationism” in the study of evolution (or what Gould himself once called the “blinkered view that evolutionary explanations must identify adaptation produced by natural selection”) applies quite aptly to Steven Pinker’s book: “Another aspect of Gould’s radicalism in science was in the form of his general approach to evolutionary explanation.  Most biologists concerned with the history of life and its present geographical and ecological distribution assume that natural selection is the cause of all features of living and extinct organisms and that the task of the biologist, insofar as it is to provide explanations, is to come up with a reasonable story of why any particular feature of a species was favored by natural selection.  If, when the human species lost most of its body hair in evolving from its ape-like ancestor, it still held on to eyebrows, then eyebrows must be good things. A great emphasis of Steve’s scientific writing was to reject this simplistic Panglossian adaptationism, and to go back to the variety of fundamental biological processes in the search for the causes of evolutionary change.”   (“Stephen Jay Gould: What Does it Mean to Be a Radical?Monthly Review, Vol. 54, No. 6, November, 2002.)  

Media Disinformation and “Manufactured Dissent”

June 28th, 2014 by Prof. James F. Tracy

chossudovskyJames Tracy is joined by Michel Chossudovsky, award-winning author and editor of Global Research. Together they discuss the phenomenon of manufactured dissent, contemporary independent news media , and the prospects for challenging corporate media disinformation, American imperialism, and the New World Order.

Chossudovsky received his doctorate in economics from the University of North Carolina. He is Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and Editor of Global Research.ca. Based in Montreal, Global Research is one of the most well-known alternative news outlets in the world.

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Dr. Chossudovsky’s writings have been translated into more than twenty languages. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003), America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005), and Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011). Chossudovsky is a regular commentator on economic and geopolitical issues in various news media throughout the world.

Iraqi Hydrocarbon Prize of U.S. Invasion in Danger?

June 28th, 2014 by Nicola Nasser

Excluding “boots on the ground” and leaving combat missions to local and regional “partners,” President Barak Obama and his administration say the United States keeps “all options on the table” to respond militarily to the terrorists’ threat to “American interests” in Iraq, which are now in “danger.”

Similarly, former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on TV screens and in print has recently urged western governments to “put aside the differences of the past and act now” and to intervene militarily in Iraq “to save the future” because “we do have interests in this.”

Both men refrained from indicating what are exactly the “American” and “western” interests in Iraq that need military intervention to defend, but the major prize of their invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the country’s hydrocarbon assets. There lies their “interests.

On June 13 however, Obama hinted to a possible major “disruption” in Iraqi oil output and urged “other producers in the Gulf” to be “able to pick up the slack.”

The United States has already moved the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, escorted by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun, from the northern Arabian Sea into the Arabian Gulf (Persian according to Iran) “to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq,” according to Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, on June 14. Media is reporting that U.S. intelligence units and air reconnaissance are already operating in Iraq.

The unfolding collapse of the U.S. proxy government in Baghdad has cut short a process of legalizing the de-nationalization of the hydrocarbon industry in Iraq, which became within reach with the latest electoral victory of the Iraqi prime minister since 2006, Noori al-Maliki.Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki

Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki

Anti-American armed resistance to the U.S. proxy ruling regime in Baghdad, especially the Baath-led backbone, is on record as seeking to return to the status quo ante with regard to the country’s strategic hydrocarbon assets, i.e. nationalization.

De-nationalization and privatization of the Iraqi oil and gas industry began with the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003. Al-Maliki for eight years could not pass a hydrocarbons law through the parliament. Popular opposition and a political system based on sectarian distribution of power and “federal” distribution of oil revenues blocked its adoption. Ruling by political majority instead by sectarian consensus was al-Maliki’s declared hope to enact the law.

 Al-Maliki’s plans towards this end together with his political ambitions for a third term were cut short by the fall to armed opposition on this June 10 of Mosul, the capital of the northern Ninawa governorate and second only to Baghdad as Iraq’s largest metropolitan area.

Three days on, with the fighting moving on to the gates of Baghdad, “the most important priority for Baghdad right now is to secure its capital and oil infrastructure,” a Stratfor analysis on June 11 concluded.

The raging war in Iraq now will determine whether Iraqi hydrocarbons are a national asset or multinational loot. Any U.S. military support to the regime it installed in Baghdad should be viewed within this context. Meanwhile this national wealth is still being pillaged as spoils of war.

Al-Maliki is not now preoccupied even with maintaining Iraq as OPEC’s No. 2 oil producer, but with maintaining a level of oil output sufficient to bring in enough revenues to finance a defensive war that left his capital besieged and his government with southern Iraq only to rule, may be not for too long.

Even this modest goal is in doubt. Al-Maliki is left with oil exports from the south only, the disruption of which is highly possible any time now.

Worries that fighting would spread to the southern city of Basra or Baghdad have already sent oil prices to nine-month high on Thursday.

Legalizing the de-nationalization of Iraqi hydrocarbon industry has thus become more elusive than it has ever been since 2003.

On June 1 forty two years ago the process of the nationalization of the hydrocarbon industry kicked off in Iraq. Now Iraq is an open field for looting its only strategic asset.

On April 15 last year the CNN, reviewing “The Iraq war, 10 years on,” reported: “Yes, the Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with winners: Big Oil.”

“Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s domestic oil industry was fully nationalized and closed to Western oil companies. A decade of war later, it is largely privatized and utterly dominated by foreign firms,” the CNN report concluded, indicating that, “From ExxonMobil and Chevron to BP and Shell, the West’s largest oil companies have set up shop in Iraq. So have a slew of American oil service companies, including Halliburton, the Texas-based firm Dick Cheney ran before becoming George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000.

The international rush for the Iraqi “black gold” by trans-national oil and gas corporations is at its height with no national law or competent central authority to regulate it.

Iraq’s “oil industry” now “operates, gold rush–style, in an almost complete absence of oversight or regulation,” Greg Muttitt wrote in The Nation on August 23, 2012.

Nothing changed since except that the “rush” was accelerating and the de-nationalization process was taking roots, squandering the bloody sacrifices of the Iraqis over eighty two years to uproot the foreign hold on their major strategic asset. The ongoing fighting is threatening to cut this process short.

Tip of iceberg

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq has been awarding hydrocarbon contracts to foreign firms independently without reference to the central government in Baghdad.

pipeline

Since early 2014, it has been pumping crude to Turkey via its own independent pipeline built last December. On this June 4, Turkey and the KRG announced the signing of a 50-year deal to export Iraqi oil from Kurdistan via Turkey.

Hussein al-Shahristani, Iraq’s deputy prime minister, threatened legal action against firms that purchased “smuggled oil” via the Turkish-KRG arrangements; he accused Turkey of “greed” and trying “to lay (its) hands on cheap Iraqi oil.

Baghdad filed for arbitration against Turkey’s state-owned pipeline operator BOTAS with the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris.

Baghdad says those Turkish-KRG arrangements are illegal and unconstitutional, but its own contract awarding is also unlawful. Should a change of guard occur in Baghdad, al-Maliki and his government would be held accountable and probably prosecuted.

The dispute between Baghdad on the one hand and Turkey and the KRG on the other is only the surfacing tip of the iceberg of the “gold rush–style” looting of Iraq’s national wealth.

One of the main priorities of al-Maliki all along has been to legalize the de-nationalization and privatization process.

Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, wrote a few months before al-Maliki assumed his first premiership that American and British governments made sure the candidates for prime minister knew what their first priority had to be: To pass a law legalizing the return of the foreign multinationals. This would be the vital biggest prize of the U.S. 2003 invasion.

Al-Maliki is the right man to secure a pro-privatization government in Baghdad. Thomas L. Friedman described him in the New York Times on this June 4 as “our guy,” “an American-installed autocrat” and a “big gift” the U.S. occupation “left behind in Iraq.”

Various drafts of hydrocarbon privatization laws failed to gain consensus among the proxy sectarian parties to the U.S.-engineered “political process” and the “federal” entities of Iraq’s U.S.-drafted constitution.

Al-Maliki’s government endorsed the first draft of a privatization law in February 2007 and on August 28, 2011 endorsed an amended draft which the parliament has yet to adopt.

Iraqi trade unions, amid popular protests, opposed and fought the privatization draft laws. Their offices were raided, computers confiscated, equipment smashed and their leaders arrested and prosecuted. Nonetheless, the parliament could not pass the law.

Al-Maliki government began awarding contracts to international oil and gas giants without a law in place. They are illegal contracts, but valid as long as there is a pro-privatization government in Baghdad.

U.S. Executive Order 13303

 Former British and U.S. leaders of the invasion of Iraq, Tony Blair and George Bush junior, were on record to deny that the invasion had anything to do with oil, but the U.S. President Barak Obama has just refuted their claim.

On last May 16, Obama signed an Executive Order to extend the national emergency with respect to Iraq for one year. His predecessor Bush signed this “order” for the first time on May 22, 2003 “to deal with the … threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by obstacles to the continued reconstruction of Iraq.”

Details of Bush’s Executive Order (EO) No. 13303 are still kept out of media spotlight. It declared that future legal claims on Iraq’s oil wealth constitute “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Section 1(b) eliminates all judicial process for “all Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, and interests therein, and proceeds, obligations or any financial instruments of any nature whatsoever arising from or related to the sale or marketing thereof, and interests therein, in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons.”

EO 13303 was rubber-stamped by the UN Security Council Resolution No. 1483, which protected the U.S.-controlled governmental institutions in Iraq.

Muttitt wrote in August 2012:

“In 2011, after nearly nine years of war and occupation, U.S. troops finally left Iraq. In their place, Big Oil is now present in force.”

“Big Oil” is now the only guarantor of the survival of the U.S. proxy government in Baghdad, but the survival of “Big Oil” itself is now threatened by the escalating and rapidly expanding armed opposition.

Obama said the “threats” and “obstacles” to U.S, interests in Iraq have not changed eleven years after the invasion; Iraq has not enacted yet a hydrocarbon law to legalize the privatization of its oil and gas industry.

The developments of the last week in Iraq vindicate Obama’s renewal of EO 13303. The U.S. war on Iraq is not over and it is not won yet. Hence Obama’s recent extension of the national emergency with respect to Iraq for one year.

Since Great Britain granted Iraq its restricted independence in 1932, the nationalization of Iraqi oil wealth was the national and popular battle cry for complete sovereignty. It is now the battle cry of the armed opposition.

Iraq has been targeted by western powers since the “republic” under the late Abd al-Karim Qasim enacted law No. 80 of 1961, which deprived foreign companies of the right to explore in 99.5% of the Iraqi territory, but mainly since the Baath regime led by the late Saddam Hussein decided to nationalize the hydrocarbon industry on June 1, 1972.

The Ukrainian government is deploying paramilitary groups in close cooperation with the army against opposition in the eastern part of the country. This collaboration has been largely ignored by Western media. While the armed actions of pro-Russian separatists are dealt with at length in the media, there is no discussion of the fascist terror against political opponents of the Kiev regime and the civilian population.

In February, armed groups from the Right Sector and the fascist Svoboda party played a decisive role in the putsch against then-President Viktor Yanukovych. Svoboda was rewarded for this with several ministerial posts and high-ranking positions in the state. Although Svoboda’s presidential candidate, Oleh Tyahnybok, received only 1.2 percent of the vote in the May election, Svoboda continues to be prominently represented in the government.

These paramilitary groups operate with the official protection of the state. At the beginning of March, the parliament decided to build a 60,000-man national guard, principally made up of volunteers recruited from the so-called Maidan self-defense groups.

On April 13, Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov released a decree that allows the formation of special units for the purpose of countering separatist currents. Since then, a number of battalions, officially operating under the Ministry of the Interior, have been founded with the financial support of certain oligarchs.

The best-known is the Azov Battalion. The “Black Men,” as they have been termed on Russian-language web sites, have played a key role in several of the so-called “anti-terror operations” carried out by the Kiev government.

The Azov Battalion is based in Mariupol and is responsible for the majority of the brutal battles that have taken place there. According to official estimates, between May 10 and May 13 at least 20 people died as a result of violent confrontations in the city on the Azov Sea, whose population is 500,000. Although it is difficult to verify their authenticity, videos on YouTube purport to show that unarmed civilians in the area have been intentionally targeted.

Conflicts have continued in Mariupol. On June 13, the Azov forces, together with the battalion “Ukraina” and special units of the army, stormed the city center, which was held by separatists. In this operation, dozens of separatists were killed and wounded.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has claimed that the Azov Battalion was involved in the storming of the Russian embassy in Kiev.

Members of the battalion regularly boast on Twitter of killing civilians and separatists, giving numbers of alleged victims. Despite the fact that these announcements are not always easy to confirm, they say a great deal about the character of these fascist bands.

At the beginning of June, Yaroslav Honchar, a cofounder of the battalion, was removed from the leadership after he publicly accused the Azov forces of torturing people and stealing property belonging to ex-president Yanukovych’s family. According to Honchar, the battalion is largely made up of Right Sector members.

The Azov battalion was founded on May 5 by Oleh Lyashko, a member of parliament representing the ultra-right Radical Party, Igor Kryvoruchko, a leading member of Right Sector, and the well-known fascist Dmitro Korchynsky. According to Wikipedia, the battalion had about 300 members in June.

Many of its members came from the organization “Patriots of Ukraine,” which is part of the Right Sector. According to an Al-Jazeera article, the battalion is also affiliated with fascists from Russia, Italy and Sweden. What unifies the fighters is their adherence to National Socialism. New recruits to Azov are trained by the Interior Ministry before they are deployed in eastern Ukraine.

The battalion clearly enjoys the support of Washington and the regime. A YouTube video from Radio Free Europe, which is financed by the US Congress, shows Azov militiamen at a shooting practice.

The pro-government Ukrainian media reports positively about the paramilitary groups and celebrates them as “Heroes of Ukraine.” Members of the battalion take every opportunity to declare that they do not view their opponents as people and seek to “destroy” them.

According to accounts in the press, the battalion is financed by the oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi. With a total worth of $3 billion, Kolomoyskyi was the third richest man in Ukraine in 2012, according to Forbes .

The Russian newspaper Correspondent estimates his worth at $6.2 billion. He is a co-owner of Private Bank, the largest bank in Ukraine. He is also one of the biggest operators in the Ukrainian oil, mining and air transport industries. At the beginning of March, Kolomoyskyi was named governor of the eastern Ukrainian state of Dnepopetrovsk.

Kolomoyskyi has politically and financially supported the pro-Western opposition for many years. He was one of the main financiers of the UDAR Party of boxer Vitali Klitschko. Previously, Kolomoyskyi was one of the most important oligarchs behind the opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko. He also purportedly financed the head of Svoboda, Oleh Tyahnybok, who has, however, denied this in the Ukrainian press.

According to accounts in the Frankfurter Rundschau and the Kiev Post, Kolomoyskyi is behind the “Dnepr” and “Donbass” battalions, which spread terror in eastern Ukraine. These units recruit mainly from fascist organizations and former soldiers.

Dnepopetrovsk has been transformed under Kolomoyskyi into an organizational center of paramilitary forces used by the Kiev regime to combat opposition in the eastern part of the country.

The news agency Reuters reports that at the end of May, Kolomoyskyi used several dozen millions of US dollars to prevent the region from falling into the hands of separatists. With this money, a “National Defense Unit” was built comprising 15,000 men. These included 2,000 battle-ready soldiers divided into four battalions.

Igor Beresa, commander of the National Defense Unit, told Reuters that the battalions are accepting formal orders from the Ukrainian army and security forces, although the battalions receive an income twice as high and are better equipped.

Kolomoyskyi’s second-in-command, Boris Filatov, explained to Reuters: “We are doing all this in agreement with the central government. We coordinate and cooperate with Kiev. They accept that we are influential as a consolidating factor in the east.”

The Right Sector, which is also active as an independent formation in armed confrontations, shifted its headquarters to Dniepopetrovsk at the end of April. At the time, its leader, Dmitro Yarosh, boasted in an interview with Spiegel Online, “Our battalions are part of the new territorial defense. We have good relations with everybody, apart from the police.”

Yarosh regularly posts information about his operation and troops on Facebook and Twitter. At the end of May, the Right Sector assisted the Donbass Battalion in its efforts to take control of the eastern Ukrainian town of Karlivka. The village is still under siege.

There can be no doubt that the fascist battalions are responsible for a considerable proportion of the casualties of the civil war in Ukraine. According to United Nations reports, since May 7 alone, a total of 356 people in eastern Ukraine have been killed. The vast majority, 257, were civilians.

The signing of a trade and political partnership between Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova and the European Union (EU) marks a new stage in the plan to economically and militarily encircle Russia. It raises the immediate prospect of an escalation in the military offensive being waged in the east of Ukraine by the Western-backed regime in Kiev.

The Association Agreement, the economic element of a political agreement signed in March following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, was signed by Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko. It will need to be ratified by every national parliament in the EU by this autumn. Georgia and Moldova signed both the political and economic parts.

Moscow has economic concerns over the agreement being used to push cheap EU imports into Russia via Ukraine, but its major concern is geo-strategic—the incorporation of all the states that once constituted its “near abroad” into a Western military and economic bloc. Poroshenko made this clear when he declared that “Ukraine is underlining its sovereign choice in favour of membership of the EU.”

The refusal of Ukraine’s then-president, Viktor Yanukovych, to sign the deal last November was used by the United States and Germany to initiate a coup led by pro-Western oligarchs and fascist forces such as Svoboda and the Right Sector.

Such high-sounding rhetoric as Poroshenko’s description of the deal as a “symbol of faith and unbreakable will” cannot conceal the predatory aims of the European powers. The Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement Ukraine signed with the EU in 1998. The aim is to incorporate the maximum number of former Soviet Republics into the EU free trade zone, leaving only Armenia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in Russia’s Eurasian Customs Union.

The cost extracted from Ukraine for membership is vast. It threatens $500 billion in lost trade with Russia and possible bans on Ukrainian imports. Yanukovych, when he refused to sign, estimated costs of an additional $104 billion to adopt new trade laws and comply with EU standards.

The EU states and global companies will be the main beneficiaries of free trade—wiping out much local business. In 2013, EU exports to Ukraine were worth €23.9 billion. They were made up of industrial equipment, chemicals and manufactured goods, whereas Ukraine exported €13.8 billion to the EU, mostly in raw materials such as iron, steel and minerals. This highly unequal relationship, which is similar for Georgia and Moldova, will only worsen.

Described by the BBC as “Ukraine’s sink or swim EU agreement,” it could wipe out many smaller businesses. But its worst effects will be felt by the working class of all three states, which already faces some of the deepest levels of poverty and worst working conditions in Europe.

A report released this month by the Clean Clothes Campaign, made up of trade unions and NGOs in 16 European countries, found that in 10 Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, working conditions are sometimes worse than in China and Indonesia.

The report added that “nearly all those producing clothes for major European retailers such as Hugo Boss, Adidas, Zara, H&M or Benetton are paid below the poverty line, and many have to rely on subsistence agriculture or a second job just to survive.” Legal minimum wages cover only a fraction of a basic living wage—just 14 percent in Ukraine. Moldova and Ukraine have the lowest net minimum wage, at €71 and €80 a month, respectively.

However, the greatest danger arising from the Association Agreement is the degree to which it deliberately brings conflicts between the Western powers and Russia to a new peak of intensity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is desperately seeking an accommodation with the Kiev regime and its backers in Washington. On Tuesday, he backed up his appeal for an extension of the ceasefire announced last week by Poroshenko, due to end yesterday, by calling on Russia’s parliament to rescind a March resolution authorizing the use of Russia’s armed forces to protect Russian speakers and citizens in eastern Ukraine.

Nevertheless, speaking at a ceremony for foreign diplomats in the Kremlin, Putin warned, “The anti-constitutional coup in Kiev and the attempts to impose on the Ukrainian people an artificial choice between Europe and Russia pushed society towards a schism, a painful internal confrontation … In the southeast of the country, blood is flowing, there is a real humanitarian catastrophe, tens of thousands of refugees are forced to seek shelter, including in Russia.”

A long-term ceasefire, he said, was “a necessary condition for substantive talks between the authorities in Kiev and representatives of the southeastern regions.”

Putin’s statement was borne out by the United Nations in a report describing the terrible cost of the conflict. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday that 110,000 people had fled from Ukraine to Russia this year, with 9,500 seeking refugee status. The number of people displaced internally has reached 54,400, with 16,400 fleeing fighting last week alone, the UN said. Some 700 others went to Poland, Belarus, the Czech Republic and Romania.

The UN stated that at least 423 civilians and fighters had been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but the separatist leadership in Donetsk has said that a much higher number of its fighters—around 800—and around 250 civilians have been killed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

This contrasts with Poroshenko’s statement in Strasbourg that almost 150 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed by rebels, and indicates the unequal character of the conflicting forces in Ukraine that is masked by the media’s almost exclusive focus on the far smaller military actions carried out by the separatists.

Poroshenko and Ukraine’s National Security Council initially only reluctantly agreed to extend the ceasefire by 12 hours until 10 pm yesterday—reportedly under pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had spoken twice to Putin. He threatened that “if our conditions for the peace plan are not accepted, then we will make a very important decision” and would switch to a “detailed Plan B.”

At the Council of Europe, Poroshenko accused Russia of backing the insurgency, stating, “Instead of them calling back their mercenaries, even more new, well-equipped and motivated fighters are arriving from the Russian Federation.” A normalisation of relations with Russia was impossible, he added, without Moscow returning the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine.

In an interview with European newspapers, Poroshenko said separatists had carried out “more than 150 attacks” against government troops since the ceasefire began on June 20. “Russia is the leader of these banned groups,” he said. We are talking of Russian citizens, Russian officers, Russian soldiers-of-fortune.”

On his return to Kiev, Poroshenko announced that the ceasefire would be extended until Monday. The EU warned that Russia has until Monday to take (unspecified) concrete steps towards securing a peace agreement or face sanctions against sectors of its economy, including energy, finance and defence.

Ukraine Interior Minister Arsen Avakov spelled out that Poroshenko’s “Plan B” is a savage attack on the east when he warned of an “adequate and harsh” response to all those who did not lay down their arms within the extended deadline.

The Western-backed Al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS, has made its way to Iraq through Turkey and over the northeastern border of Syria. This new terror campaign appears to have been rolled out with a decades old objective, which is wrought with violence, propaganda and destabilization funding from the usual sponsors…

We’ve learned that much of Iraq has ‘fallen’ into the hands of Sunni militants, as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has pushed their way through to Iraq five months ago, while both Britain’s MI6, as well as the CIA, had prior knowledge of the well-funded terror group’s movements - allowing their apparent death march to continue after being warned well in advance. According to a Telegraph news release entitled,”Britain and US neglected alert to Iraq jihadist takeover” Kurdish intelligence had specifically disclosed that ISIS displayed a growing terror-grip in the region and that there was a “planned takeover of northern Iraq“:

“The head of intelligence for the autonomous Kurdish regional government, which has links with the West, said he had repeatedly tried to send warnings both to the central government in Baghdad and to its allies, Britain and America.

But despite repeated attempts to impress on Washington and London the seriousness of the unfolding situation, he said there was no response from either government.”

This information also comes on the heels as nearly 500 British-born fighters apparently made their way to fight alongside ISIS – in addition to 15 Somali-Americans, according to intelligence reports. It has been said that one of the men who is has subsequently joined up with ISIS, Rayeed Kahn, lived just a few doors down from four men who plead guilty to an “Al-Qaeda inspired plot” to destroy London’s Stock Exchange a couple years back.

In a cleanly shot video production apparently by ISIS radicals, Kahn is seen dazed and possibly drugged, in a video that is being branded as a recruitment tool for the terror outfit. Kahn was recently accepted to study at Midinah University in Saudi Arabia in 2013/14, just prior to his life taking an apparent extremist turn.

In 2012, along with five others, Abdul Malik Miah, Gurukanth Desai, Shah Mohammed Lutfar Rahman and Mohammed Moksudur Rahman Chowdhury, all plead guilty in a plot to detonate bombs within London’s Stock Exchange, other alleged targets included Big Ben and the Church of Scientology. The group was said to be tied to a training facility in Pakistan and had apparently obtained instructions from Al-Qaeda’s ‘Inspire’ publication and CIA linked Anwar  Al-Awlaki, who if you remember, had been invited to lunch at the Pentagon in the aftermath of 9/11,  meeting with top military personnel. Al-Awlaki, was a US born citizen and became a target after being named an ‘operations leader’ for Al-Qaeda, he was subsequently killed in a drone strike in Yemen. Recently a redacted version of the memo used to conduct a military strike on Al-Awlaki was revealed by a New York court. (Photo static.guim.co.uk)

Western Complicity & Occupation by Proxy

In March of 2013, it was reported that the US, UK and France were training Syrian opposition members in Jordan, focusing on heavy artillery and urban warfare skills. The training base is said to be near the borders of Iraq and Syria, in a northern town called Safawi. While plenty of media outlets have reported that there were FSA facilities in Jordan in the past, there’s been a growing suspicion about the CIA’s involvement in the province, as evidence has come to light that there was an ISIS connection with the rebels being trained there, as reported by SyrianTruth.org , which was then covered here at 21Wire, that displayed a relationship between a Turkish paramilitary group called “Front Victory” and ISIS after its seizure of chlorine gas. Front Victory is said to have a history of “violent insurgency,” and experience using chlorine as a chemical weapon, many of the groups founders have come out of ISIS – who were first installed in Syria in 2011:

“Jordanian intelligence proceeded to facilitate the smuggling of chlorine gas from Jordan to the organization known as “Islamic State of Iraq”, the first to use chlorine gas technology (with the help of Jordanian Intelligence and Saudi Arabia) as a “chemical weapon” – a taboo issue in the media in the context of covering genocide….

Given the fact that the “first generation” and “second generation” of the founders and staff of “Front Victory” hailed originally out of the “Islamic State of Iraq” organisation, they were the only ones among the insurgent Syrians who are schooled in this technique. In addition, the organization “Islamic State of Iraq” deliberately to be the first installments of his gunmen who were sent to Syria as of fall 2011…

Weeks ago, “Front Victory” are reported to have begun manufacturing chlorine gas shells to be used in mortars and homemade rockets around Aleppo, utilizing the stock from the chlorine gas plant. Note that the said missile was launched from an area “Kafr Daal” in northwest of Aleppo.”

We’re being told that the black-clad ISIS jihadists have been burning and beheading their way through Iraq and after taking control of an oil stronghold within the Mosul region, a clearer picture has emerged as to those who stand to benefit the most by supporting such awful carnage in the second-largest oil state in world. Well-known geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant, William Engdahl states in his latest release, “ISIS in Iraq stinks of CIA/NATO ‘dirty war’ op,” that their is a decidedly Western bend to the propaganda and violence seen coming out about ISIS:

“The very details of the ISIS military success in the key Iraqi oil center, Mosul, are suspect. According to well-informed Iraqi journalists, ISIS overran the strategic Mosul region, site of some of the world’s most prolific oilfields, with barely a shot fired in resistance. According to one report, residents of Tikrit reported remarkable displays of “soldiers handing over their weapons and uniforms peacefully to militants who ordinarily would have been expected to kill government soldiers on the spot.”

We are told that ISIS masked psychopaths captured “arms and ammunition from the fleeing security forces” - arms and ammunition supplied by the American government. The offensive coincides with a successful campaign by ISIS in eastern Syria. According to Iraqi journalists, Sunni tribal chiefs in the region had been convinced to side with ISIS against the Shiite Al-Maliki government in Baghdad. They were promised a better deal under ISIS Sunni Sharia than with Baghdad anti-Sunni rule.”

When looking for the motive in any ‘global crime’ we must always consider what natural resources are being fought over and those that are being pillaged, as they are often followed by some sort of destabilization campaign prompting media to declare a one-sided call to action as a remedy for an already destructive process. We should also  examine the motivations of foreign aid or weaponry given to destabilized regions of the world as it often coincides with a future ‘regime change’ about to take place. It should be noted that last year Syrian oil field’s had also been seized by an Al-Qaeda affiliate - which would directly benefit the wider geopolitical and transnational corporate interests of the West.

Also, what kind of compliance is expected from groups receiving aid from Western interests and how will they seek to inflame and polarize audiences by utilizing the existing rift between Shia-Sunni denominations?

Additionally, the West attempts to gain a foothold on the Middle East by strengthening Sunni terror brigades, clamping down on the Shia sect. Western interests also want the Shia-dominated Maliki government out of power in Baghdad.

In November 2013, according to the FBI dozens of  terrorists were allowed to come to the US under refugee status and in 2009, they discovered two Al-Qaeda terrorists living in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Why were known terrorists allowed to come to the US? There appears to be an substantial effort to bring terror to Western countries. Why? Is it so that they can justify their expensive war theater?


IMAGE: ‘The Burning of Babylon’ – ISIS has made a violent push through Turkey and the northeastern edge of Syria. Following NATO’s hostile intervention in Libya in 2011, we learned that AQIM had joined forces with the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) – all of which are inexorably tied to the CIA and British intelligence agencies since Al Qaeda’s inception after the Soviet war in Afghanistan during the late 80′s (Photo irishmirror.ie)

The current terror creation ISIS, seems to have benefited from US, UK and  France with its FSA counterparts having received western military arms and training in Jordan. ISIS appears to have swallowed up large swaths of Iraq in violence, using it as brutal breeding ground to be pitted simultaneously against Syria and other Western targets such as Iran.

In the article entitled, “Al Qaeda and the War on Terrorism” from Professor Michel Chossudovsky, the Western intelligence infrastructure is fully exposed and in particular the role of the US:

“The US intelligence apparatus has created it own terrorist organizations. And at the same time, it creates its own terrorist warnings concerning the terrorist organizations which it has itself created. Meanwhile, a cohesive multibillion dollar counterterrorism program “to go after” these terrorist organizations has been put in place.”

When you put Professor Chossudovsky’s thoughts into context with what routinely occurs when there is a sudden ‘lighting war’ in the Middle East, we see how Western operations benefit from their own nightmare fantasies of consolidation and control by increasing funding for the next branch of Al-Qaeda, while simultaneously appearing to condemn the group for its actions, calling for more profit-based war efforts through different alphabet programs and defense contracting work. This was evident in the “Friend’s of Syria“ conference in Paris, supported by Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State, among others, where a violent Western backed campaign was outlined for Syria in July of 2012.


IMAGE: ‘Something wicked this way come’ –  Notice the spotless white athletic shoes – hardly combat-ready, or perhaps those of actors? Where are they really from? (Photo telegraph.co.uk)

The fact that Israel is kept in the shadows of media coverage regarding these events is telling. The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham or ISIS, complete with masked identities, making advances since Israel’s air strikes on Syria, which appear to have provided air coverage for the terrorists. An SCF Altai tanker delivered a large amount of Kurdish oil to Israel for the first time on June 20th, and many believe this is directly attributed to the terror controlled oil field’s in Iraq. An Israeli energy ministry declined to disclose a comment on the crude oil deal with the Kurdish Regional Government. It should be stated that Iraq has boycotted Israel and has no official oil contract with them.

 NATO’s Death Squads & ISIS Propaganda – Supported by the West

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan banned YouTube following a conversation that he had with The Head of Turkish Intelligence Hakan Fidan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that was leaked in March of 2014. International Business Times released the transcript of that conversation, which included creating a need for United Nations involvement by manufacturing a war:

“The leaked call details Erdogan’s thoughts that an attack on Syria “must be seen as an opportunity for us [Turkey]“.

In the conversation, intelligence chief Fidan says that he will send four men from Syria to attack Turkey to “make up a cause of war”.

Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Yaşar Güler replies that Fidan’s projected actions are “a direct cause of war…what you’re going to do is a direct cause of war”.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said the leaked recording of top officials discussing the Syria operation was “partially manipulated” and is a “wretched attack” on national security.“

Turkish Intelligence Head Fidan also added:

“I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”

The Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu followed that statement by suggesting they notify the “United Nations and the Istanbul Consulate of the Syrian regime.”

Far from securing an Ottoman Empire tomb, this plot could be seen as Turkey’s direct involvement in the Syrian conflict through the north as ISIS continues its Western guided trail of blood, supporting the claims that the Iraqi government may call for NATO assistance, as geopolitical researcher and writer for the New Eastern Outlook, Tony Cartalucci has stated in an recent article entitled, “NATO’s Terror Hordes in Iraq a Pretext for Syria Invasion“:

“The alleged territorial holdings of ISIS cross over both Syrian and Iraqi borders meaning that any campaign to eradicate them from Iraqi territory can easily spill over into Syria’s borders. And that is exactly the point. With ISIS having ravaged Mosul, Iraq near the Turkish border and moving south in a terror blitzkrieg now threatening the Iraqi capital of Baghdad itself, the Iraqi government is allegedly considering calling for US and/or NATO assistance to break the terror wave.

Adding to the pretext, ISIS, defying any sound tactical or strategic thinking, has seized a Turkish consulate in Mosul, taking over 80 Turkish hostages - serendipitously (or so it seems) giving Turkey not only a new pretext to invade northern Iraq as it has done many times in pursuit of alleged Kurdish militants, but to invade Syrian territory where ISIS is also based.”

Higher Oil Prices – Same Old Story

Incredibly, there have been reports of ISIS seizing some $429 million from the Mosul Central bank – yes that’s right, the same globalist owned and backed banking institutions you see throughout the world. Media reports have given the highly stylized terror group the perfect cover for future terror advances – now that we know they are heavily funded. Recently, it was suggested that ISIS may have taken over Iraq’s largest oil refinery after it was apparently abandoned in the town of Baiji. If this is the case, you can expect prices at the pump to skyrocket in the west and the US in particular, sparking fabricated fears of a gas shortage – the West will use the soaring gas rates as a pretext for larger military action, to try and gain public support through economic subterfuge.

Israel is Involved

On June 22nd, Israel launched airstrikes against Syria in what appears to have been cover for ISIS, with a fabricated story that Syria had sent a rocket to the Golan Heights border – a story which could only fly in Tel Aviv and Washington DC, but somehow that was enough. There has been zero evidence to suggest this rocket came from Syria or the Syrian government. In an SCG news release, they cautioned the danger of turning Syria and Iraq into rabid regions of extremist violence as well as the real motivations of Israel:

“Israel’s continued attacks on the Syrian government are particularly bizarre considering the current context. With ISIS rapidly gaining influence in both Iraq and Syria (they just took 4 new towns in Iraq over the weekend), it would behoove Israel to consider what would actually happen if Assad fell. Do they actually want a rabid extremist group to establish an Islamic caliphate on their border?”

Obama’s Cash Injection for ‘ISIS Crisis’

Consider the uncanny timing of this recent ‘terror bailout’ by President Obama. In May of 2014, the Obama administration proposed a $5 billion dollar fund to be sent to Syrian rebels. It stands to reason that this money would have been funneled through the Jordanian training facility which ISIS is linked too.

ISIS also has a savvy marketing department. It has also been released that social media donations supposedly through Twitter, have aided extremist radicals and outpaced a multiple nation collective that has given billions to fund terror outfits for decades. There has even been a merchandising angle, as ISIS or their sponsors, have been selling t-shirts, hoodies and action figurines for their apparent cause. Disgustingly, their items can be purchased through the CIA-front Facebook as there is a decidedly glossy-look to these violent radicals while their being pimped out like an MTV pop band online and on phone apps globally.

In addition, both Facebook and Twitter somehow allowed ISIS to use their platforms as a marketing springboard, showcasing beheadings, murders and other criminal imagery used for fundraising, and to recruit more foreign terrorists for the Syrian Civil War.

Here is a YouTube video from Red Pill Revolution displaying various media clips that ‘shed light’ on the role of the West in Iraq and the foreknowledge of an ISIS terror rise…

Watch how Western media continues to spin the information coming out of Iraq, Syria and Iran. Western backed proxy wars steer the type of propaganda we see in most major media outlets today…

 “If all the world is a stage,” as William Shakespeare once said, then the current mainstream media narrative on Syria must be the comedy act; this time, however, it isn’t very funny. Having spent the last three years failing to exert their desire for regime change in Syria, the western imperialist, globalist powers and the corporate financier interests that sustain them are becoming increasingly desperate for a change in the geopolitical tide. Beginning in 2014, they have constantly attempted to leverage any potential outlet as a means of toppling Assad and proceeding in the implementation of their hegemonic agenda across the Middle East and Eurasia.

 One example was their attempt to spin the Geneva II communiqué to falsely imply that it mandated Assad should step down. This was done in context to the fact that the Syrian National Council was vastly shedding any remaining legitimacy it may have had; one must not forget an excellent Guardian piece by Charlie Skelton titled, “The Syrian Opposition: Whose Doing the Talking?”, which documented the clear connections between the leading Syrian National Council front-group members and western corporate-financier interest. By January 2014, many members were resigning over the illegitimacy of the council as noted by Nile Bowie who stated:

In a recent letter explaining his resignation, former SNC Secretary-General Mustafa al-Sabbagh concedes that the organization failed to extend humanitarian relief efforts and to make any political or military progress; he describes the SNC as “a body that is entirely separate from the Syrian domestic arena.” Former member Mohammad Bassam Imadi’s description is no less critical; he stated in a recent interview that the SNC “…was only some expatriates who were living outside Syria, they lost touch with reality in Syria. They didn’t know what was going on… They thought that within a few months they will become presidents or ministers so they were not interested in doing anything other than contacting the foreign powers…”

The Issue of “Moderate Rebels”

That was in January 2014. It was in this context that the increasingly militant Syrian opposition forces on the ground were increasingly being exposed as primarily driven by Al Qaeda aligned militants that were the outgrowth of western financing and geopolitical posturing. Whatever multiplicity of identities and splinter groups that exist among the opposition on the ground, the primary driving force had become the Islamists as noted in the New York Times’ “Islamist Rebels Create Dilemma on Syria Policy.” As the article notes, “Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.

 Furthermore, Reuters has admitted that the military command of the allegedly moderate, western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), is dominated by Islamists. One has yet to name me any viable moderate opposition force on the ground of sizable influence that is not in one way or another tied to Islamist groups from Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise Jabhat Al-Nusra to the Islamic Front which is heavily active on the ground. The paradigm presented in the mainstream media depicting a distinction between jihadis, who are described as being small-numbered and mostly foreign, and indigenous “democracy” factions is patently false. An 2012 interview with Omar Gharba’, a Wahhabi cleric and member of the US-backed “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) who had previously been seen smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary in Idlib, demonstrates clearly the FSA mentality

The FSA boasts various unorganized brigades that serve as a magnet for extremist foot-soldiers including the “Osama Bin Laden Brigade” of the Souqour Dimashq (Hawks of Damascus) Battalion in the FSA. Furthermore, one must not ignore the role of western intelligence in propping up and commandeering the FSA as was acknowledged by Saddam al-Jamal, leader of the FSA Eastern Front and a member of the FSA Staff Board or Supreme Military Council who defected to join the even more extremist entity, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Syria (ISIL/ISIS). His previous involvement with the Supreme Military Council umbrella group is particularly notable considering the New York Times’ statement that its formation was anticipated by the west for potentially playing a role in sidelining the radicals; on the contrary, it is “stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.”

 The FSA, touted as the west’s last hope against the radicals, frequently cooperates with the Al-Qaeda “Jabhat Al-Nusra” as was done in the Christian town of Sadad in late November 2013. Prominent rebel leader Jamal Maarouf of the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF), seen as moderate by the west, admitted to The Independent that he carries out joint operations with Al Qaeda and has no problem with them; he said, “this is a problem outside of Syria.”

Syrian Christians have also been severely affected because of the inherent extremism that characterizes the militarized Syrian opposition Syrian Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo expressed dissatisfaction with US support for Islamist force in an interview with the French-language station, KTO, of the Archbishop of Paris. New York Times’ “Christians Squeezed Out by Violent Struggle in North Syria” documents the plight of Syrian Christians, particularly in the east, that were fleeing from Arab Islamist rebel gangs. The rebels were also noted to be heavily entrenched in the refugee camps in Turkey who would force young men in groups of 20 to 30 to be drafted into their armed groups. Kurdish militias that controlled the region were seen as preferable to the rebels.

 Another point amiss in the mainstream media narrative is with regards to the beginning and nature of the crisis in Syria. The mainstream media attempts to imply the Syrian uprising began as a peaceful, nonviolent struggle that was subsequently suppressed by a violent crackdown by the government. Missed in this simplistic, reductionist approach is the broader reality of a concerted, foreign-sponsored insurrection, with the opposition being armed and violent from the beginning. Numerous reports establish this including Sharmine Narwani’s report “Syria: The Hidden Massacre” which notes the armed nature of the uprising form the beginning. Murdered Dutch Priest Father Frans van der Lugt , working on the ground in Syria and having lived there since 1966, had made similar points clearly undermining the western narrative through various publications he has made. Among his most critical conclusions was that

From the start, the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.

He also concluded regarding media coverage of the situation:

In the first place, it has to be said that it is very difficult to provide a nuanced and objective account of what is happening. Many journalists fall into describing matters in black and white. For them, good and evil are not interwoven, but are clearly separated. They demonize the one side and glorify the other. Thus, for example, it is not true that our [the Syrian] government has only bad sides and the opposition only good ones. But because the US, Europe and certain Arab countries support the opposition, they endeavor, whether consciously or unconsciously, to idealize it as much as possible, without engaging in any careful analysis of the real situation. Certain interests are obscuring our view of the real situation and contaminating the description of it.

 An independent investigative mission by the Arab League, comprising of over 160 monitors in November 2011 produced a reality different from media exaggerations and spin put forth by the opposition. Unsurprisingly, the report was buried by Qatar, who along with Saudi Arabia, was working with the west and proxies in Lebanon to undermine and overthrow the Syrian government and spread their hegemony across the Middle East.

 The Council on Foreign Relations, one of the corporate-financier think-tanks that drive US and NATO foreign policy also admitted:

 The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime’s superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.

The Dire Significance

It is significant to belabor this point in light of recent statements by the US that it was pledging $500 million to the Syrian opposition, an absolute moral outrage considering the systematic dismantling of the Syrian state that the rebels had done, carrying out the directive of their western backers. Political football issues thrown around in the media about whether the US should go back into Iraq or not or whether we should have armed the Syrian rebels earlier or not misses the point and poses a danger to humanity as a whole.

The point is the fact that the US had been funding Syrian opposition groups since 2005 under Bush as revealed by Wikileak cables. Obama is essentially carrying out “Bush’s wars” in the Middle East through a different political cover; however, it would be erroneous to describe these as simply “Bush’s wars” but rather the wars of a corporate-financier elite that dominates the west and whose agenda has been coming full circle since 1991, merely disguised with updated political spin to cater to the dominant public opinion.

Democracy in the west has become rule by intellectual confusion; imperialism is a system that has evolved to grant global corporate-financier domination in all major world theaters, with the Middle East being the pivotal theater to secure access into Eurasia and secure western hegemony versus Russia and China which is the stated objective of former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezinzski’s “The Grand Chessboard” and the Neo-Conservatives’ “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.” “Pax Americana” is the phrase employed by the Neo-Cons but can we honestly say that what we are observing today from Libya to Syria is in anyway making the world more peaceful?

Enter the Jester

The media jester here enters the world with foolishness that is incredibly transparent to those who are aware of the reality at play. The comedy act is that the Syrian rebels were deliberately transformed into the extremist hordes that they are now, not by deliberate financing by the west, but by Assad collaborating with the extremists against the moderates and seculars. This has become official US State Department dogma; the claim had appeared around January 2014 in the The Telegraph and has been repeated by Al Jazeera who stated:

Sources told the UK-based newspaper that the aim of the double game played by Assad was to convince Western countries that the Syrian uprising was sponsored by “Islamist militants” in order to hinder international support for it.

“Jabhat al-Nusra, and the even more extreme Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS), the two al-Qaeda affiliates operating in Syria, have both been financed by selling oil and gas from wells under their control to and through the regime, The Daily Telegraph quoted an anonymous intelligence source as saying.

“The regime is paying al-Nusra to protect oil and gas pipelines under al-Nusra’s control in the north and east of the country, and is also allowing the transport of oil to regime-held areas,” the source was quoted as saying. “We are also now starting to see evidence of oil and gas facilities under ISIS control.”

The Daily Telegraph also reported that Syrian military defectors and rebels said that the government “deliberately released militant prisoners” who joined the extremist groups that are combating moderate rebel forces.

This is hardly reliable considering that the sources included western intelligence officials and anonymous, unverifiable activist accounts which in context to other, well-documented facts, makes them unconvincing. Dr. Joshua Landis, who is hardly a pro-Assad figure, does an excellent job at poking holes in some of the specifics of these accusations but misses some significant points. In reality, it is the west that has deliberately created the political context that made the rise of Islamists in Syria and across the greater Middle East possible. Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh documented in his 2007 piece in the New Yorker titled “The Redirection” that the US government, then under Bush, was working with Saudi Arabia and the Hariri political faction in Lebanon to undermine Syria and Iran’s influence in the region through the means of playing upon sectarian and ethnic lines to reorient the region in their own image. Let’s not forget that it has the European Union who had lifted its oil embargo on Syria in order to purchase oil from oil fields clearly documented to be held by Islamist rebels in a bid to further their destabilization of Syria.

 Tony Cartalucci has written extensively of the implications of Hersh’s work in the context of Syria today, citing very prophetic quotes from “The Redirection” that predicted the engineered quagmire today. As Cartalucci revealed, Seymour Hersh notes:

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh

 Hersh’s report would also note:

“Robert Baer, a former longtime C.I.A. agent in Lebanon, has been a severe critic of Hezbollah and has warned of its links to Iranian-sponsored terrorism. But now, he told me, “we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh

 On the role of the Hariri faction, much was noted in the fact that Lebanon would be used as a staging ground to organize Sunni militants to undermine Syria. Also included is the fact that Walid Jumblatt, a Druze member of the Hariri faction, would meet with Dick Cheney in 2006 and recommend using the Muslim Brotherhood in any attempt to undermine Assad. Hersh noted how US support was already helping the Islamists:

 There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.

And as if to dispel any claims by critics who fail the read the report in its entirety and try to claim that this support is passive and not active, Hersh noted:

“…[Saudi Arabia's] Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh

 What must be noted is the intimate relationship of Saudi Arabian interests to the corporate-financier, globalist interests in the west and the joint-investment by both forces to perpetuate their hegemony across the Middle East at the expense of Iranian, Chinese, and Russian influence. Saudi Arabia is also the primary underwriter of Islamist forces in the world, financing the most violent of groups, and is used as a “Swiss Army knife” to undermine nations against the western geopolitical objective from Mali to Pakistan. Also to be noted is that Dick Cheney is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as well Hillary Clinton, both who carried out the same agenda of undermining Syria under two supposedly different political administrations. Hillary Clinton has basically admitted that the CFR runs American policy, a fact that has been documented in the work of renowned Dr. Carroll Quigley in “Tragedy and Hope.”

 Democrats and Republicans; in terms of mainstream foreign policy and who benefits, there is no different. The US has a historic role in supporting groups like the Muslim Brotherhood against secular nationalist leaders to destabilize targeted countries. There is also the role of “color revolutions” used to create protest movements through US government and corporate funded NGOs that capitalize on legitimate social dissent in places like the Middle East to push forward proxies into power (see also “The Revolution Business”). When that fails, you get armed insurgencies; a classic case study of this was the NATO destabilization of Libya and the manner in which the media attempted to spin it on political lines as documented in this article, along with its connection to Syria.

Breaking Free From the Matrix

The reality is clear before us. We can continue to entertain the media jester fooling our intelligence with acts of intellectual comedy and foolery or we can rise up and say no more and work to spread true information at the grassroots level. The establishment does not seek what is in our interest and the western corporate-financier agenda is not only the enemy of those it attacks in the east but also its own people it is fooling and robbing in the west.

 The way to undermine this agenda is to boycott the corporate interests driving it and replace them with local, self-sufficient options outside of the global economic scam of corporatized globalization. That is the only way to reclaim political power and redistribute it into the hands of the people. Otherwise, we are only spinning a political hamster wheel of faux-democracy, depriving us of the right of sovereignty under the very illusion that we have it. We must tip the balance of power in our favor. Otherwise, the media jester will continue dancing on the world stage before our eyes and mocking our intelligence with its foolishness. It is an act of intellectual comedy so detached from reality that those who are awake almost feel to urge to laugh but are stopped by the thought of the utter depravity that has become the current world order.

Sam Muhho is a student of history at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) and is an advocate of anti-imperialism and anti-globalism. He can be reached at [email protected].

The Obama Administration has been pursuing a policy of covert support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other insurgent movements in the Middle East since 2010.  MEB has obtained a just-released U.S. State Department document through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that confirms the Obama Administration’s pro-active campaign for regime change throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.

The October 22, 2010 document, titled “Middle East Partnership Initiative: Overview,” spells out an elaborate structure of State Department programs aimed at directly building “civil society” organizations, particularly non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to alter the internal politics of the targeted countries in favor of U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives.

The five-page document, while using diplomatic language, makes clear that the goal is promoting and steering political change in the targeted countries:

“The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is a regional program that empowers citizens in the Middle East and North Africa to develop more pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous societies.  As the figures in this overview illustrate, MEPI has evolved from its origins in 2002 into a flexible, region-wide tool for direct support to indigenous civil society that mainstreams that support into the daily business of USG diplomacy in the region.  MEPI engages all the countries of the NEA region except Iran.  In the seven of NEA’s eighteen countries and territories with USAID missions, country-level discussions and communication between MEPI and USAID in Washington ensure that programming efforts are integrated and complementary.”

In a section of the document titled “How MEPI Works,” three core elements of the program were spelled out:  region-wide and multi-country programming, local grants, and country-specific projects.  The objectives of the region-wide and multi-country programming were described as:

“builds networks of reformers to learn from and support one another, and to catalyze progressive change in the region.”  The local grants “provide direct support to indigenous civic groups, and now represent more than half of MEPI’s projects.”

Under the country-specific aspect of the program, designated officers of the U.S. embassies manage the funding and work as direct liaisons to the various funded local NGOs and other civil society groups.   The “country-specific projects” are tasked “to respond to local developments and local needs, as identified by our embassies, local reformers, and our own field analysis.  Political developments in a country may produce new opportunities or challenges for USG policy goals, and MEPI will shift funds to respond to these needs.”

According to the October 2010 document, the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at every U.S. embassy in the MENA (Middle East/North Africa) is in charge of the MEPI program, giving it a clear high priority.  The document makes clear that the Middle East Partnership Initiative is not coordinated with host governments:

“MEPI works primarily with civil society, through NGO implementers based in the United States and in the region.  MEPI does not provide funds to foreign governments, and does not negotiate bilateral assistance agreements.  As a regional program, MEPI can shift funds across countries and to new issue-areas as needed.”

The document makes clear that special priority, as early as 2010, was given to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain, and that project headquarters in Abu Dhabi and Tunis were overall coordinating centers for the entire regional program.  Within a year of its inception, Libya and Syria were added to the list of countries on the priority list for civil society intervention.

The State Department document was released as part of an FOIA suit focused on Presidential Study Directive 11, which remains classified “secret” and has not yet been released to the public.  According to MEB sources, PSD-11 spelled out the Obama Administration’s plans to support the Muslim Brotherhood and other allied “political Islam” movements believed at the time to be compatible with U.S. foreign policy objectives in the region.

The MEPI is currently directed by Paul Sutphin, who was previously U.S. consul general in Erbil, Iraq and more recently, Director of the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs at the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.  His deputy is Catherin Bourgeois, who was first assigned to MEPI in February 2009 as Division Chief of Policy and Programming.  Her past State Department assignments have involved the development of Information Technology uses in advancing U.S. foreign policy goals.

Two other senior State Department officials have overseen the development and expansion of the program since the drafting of the October 2010 MEPI document, spelling out its transformation into a regime-change force.  Tomicah S. Tillemann is the Senior Advisor for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies, appointed to that post by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in October 2010.  He remains in that post under Secretary John Kerry.  He was the founder of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, itself an NGO named after Tilleman’s grandfather, the former U.S. Congressman, Tom Lantos.

In September 2011, Ambassador William B. Taylor was appointed to head the then-newly established Office of the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions, after having served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine during the “Orange Revolution” of 2006-2009.  According to a State Department paper,

“The Office of the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions (D/MET), established in September 2011, coordinates United States Government assistance to incipient democracies arising from popular revolts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  The Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions implements a coordinated interagency strategy to support designated MENA countries undergoing transitions to democracy—currently, Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.”

The complete State Department documents released under the FOIA will soon be available as part of a comprehensive MEB Special Report now in production on the regime-change program and its consequences for the region.   For upcoming details on this report, check the MEB website.

Copyright Middle East Briefing 2014

In psychology our belief system shapes our perceptions of the world around us, in fact becoming our very sense of reality. Our primary caregivers, most often our parents, project their view of us and their world onto us and we in turn internalize their views as our own sense of developing self and world view. In this last century the influence of mass media has also come to increasingly shape our world and self-concept. As adolescents and young adults we often change and modify our perceptions of the world based on our own interpersonal experience particularly with peers and movement to finding resonance with a more authentic, individuated self in relation to our surrounding world. But with time and more adult experience often comes an existential dilemma and/or crisis if and when we encounter growing dissonance between what we thought we knew and changing reality input increasingly at odds with our old world view.

Currently in America and many places throughout the world many of us are undergoing a fundamental change in our belief system as we come to realize what we have been taught as reality turns out anything but. Many of us on the planet are currently undergoing a mind-altering, transformative shift in how we view life and our world, in effect causing a simultaneous global shift of belief amongst a sizeable portion of the earth’s population. An unprecedented shift is moving away from what we humans have traditionally and historically been told is the truth to a state of mounting disbelief, skepticism and doubt in what our political leaders, mainstream media and educational systems have been feeding us since we were young. Today more and more people around the globe are waking up to the new emerging reality and insight that what we have historically been taught, socialized and raised to believe politically as the truth is but a crock of outright bullshit.

Trends and polls in recent years have documented this shift in world view consciousness, consistently showing a growing distrust toward the federal government in both the US and Europe. The Edelman poll from January this year found that nearly two out of three Americans distrust their government and the Reason-Rupe poll from April 2014 indicates three out of four Americans believe their politicians are corrupt. Last October Pew Research Center discovered that more than four out of five Americans do not trust their own government either at all or most of the time, a near all time high level for measuring government distrust.

Declaring results from last month’s parliamentary election a complete and utter failure for the European Union to become “the next United States of Europe,” (as European Commission Vice
President Viviane Reding refers to her EU government), a surging backlash of vehement anti-EU voters from all over Europe sent fringe elements from both the left and right to Brussels with the specific agenda to get rid of the European Union once and for all. The voters’ ire was heard from the stagnant economy of France and austerity-wary Greece, through Denmark all the way to Britain. A strong push for Ireland to opt out of the EU is in process. Many residents in especially southern Europe hit hardest with severe austerity measures imposed by powerful Germany are blaming the continental government. Oil-rich Scotland is even leading a separatist movement seeking independence from Britain. Many Europeans expressed contempt for big government that they blame for high unemployment and failed policies deemed unresponsive to meeting their localized needs. Beyond the US and Europe, more citizens around the globe are growing angrier with their elected officials, realizing politicians’ priority is to serve the needs of their oligarch puppet master over the needs of their own people.

Similar negative sentiments toward mainstream media also represent an across the boards distrust toward corporatized media coverage of world events. Recently more people are seeking alternative online news sources for their information in response to growing public awareness that corporate media has become a mere extension of the government as its chief propagandist disinformation outlet. Even such traditionally prestigious and reputable newspapers like the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal are now regarded as in-bed, embedded journalism fused with the government. As such, last year’s June Gallup poll indicated that a whopping 80% of Americans aged 21 to 64 find mainstream media lacks credibility. All these results reflect a growing trend that an increasing segment of both the US and global population has come to believe and accept that they are systematically and regularly lied to and misinformed by their corrupt leaders in both government as well as corporate media.

As products of their social and cultural environments, humans raised in the West have been victims of a massive global brainwash forced into a world of duplicitous dualism to “choose” sides, of course choosing the political side of their own nation, culture, ethnicity and/or religion, conned into automatically accepting that their nation/culture/religion is far more righteous and superior in comparison to others on the opposing side.

Since World War II those of us in North America have been dished the demonized view of Communist nations Russia and China, and now with cold war part two in full swing, they have come full circle again at our so called enemies. Then after the fall of the Soviet empire, and the 9/11 neocon false flag attack, came the new US manufactured villain Osama bin Laden and his band of evil bad guys, the al Qaeda terrorist network. Always those who appear most foreign and different from us are deemed the bad guys of the world.

Fortunately over time this oversimplified, black and white rerun version of the world has been challenged and exposed as jingoistic bias and distortion of how our complicated world actually is. Many of us have intuitively known all along that as members of the same human species, the striking similarities of our common human nature that bind us together far outweigh whatever differences in culture, skin color, nationality, political ideology, global region or religion. What many of us are increasingly realizing both here in America as well as in other nations around the globe is that we have been purposely and methodically lied to and manipulated for a very long time. The education system in America is more about socializing, programming and brainwashing young people into becoming obedient, mindless, robotic adults than learning any real truth or learning to cultivate and use their critical faculties to seek the truth amidst the world of illusion.

This “us versus them,” “you’re either with us or against us” dichotomy has been forever used as an artificial manmade device to separate humans into an in-group versus out-group duality. Unfortunately it has been operating nonstop ever since cavemen first emerged from their caves and encountered other human tribes. Through human migration and modern technology of air travel and most recently internet travel, more than any time prior in man’s relative short history on earth, Canadian communications philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s concept of the world seen as a “global village” has shrunk the earth into a here and now everyday accepted reality.

As a result, in recent years the world view of nations and continents has become somewhat more homogenized, made more accessible by mass media technology that transcends both geography and culture. Learning and communicating with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds have brought the world closer. That said, conversely the earth today is geopolitically moving rapidly toward more fragmented polarization, driven by a single globalization economy owned, controlled and operated by a global oligarchy. Its perverse vision of a New World Order currently has much of the global population brainwashed to fear, mistrust, hate and kill each other with unparalleled potential. But not all of us are being fooled by such divisively spun projections from a shadowy elite madly pulling their deceptive spin levers cloaked behind their gold curtain. An honest look at what is actually happening now around the world exposes the oligarch agenda to purposely increase worldwide tension, division and conflict.

Last February’s notorious power grabbing political coup pulled off by the US in Ukraine installing a weak, corrupt and vicious fascist government certainly was no accident. Neither was the IMF loan immediately slapped on the Ukrainian people. Neither is the current civil war raging in eastern Ukraine where government forces are committing war atrocities and ethnic cleansing against a majority population of ethnic Russians. Nor for that matter is the ongoing political crisis occurring this entire year long in Venezuela a mere random accident.

By carefully orchestrated design, the US-EU-NATO alliance is obediently carrying out the oligarch high command to destabilize, polarize and militarize every continent on earth, pitting regional adversaries against each other in a global offensive with the West jabbing and baiting the East into military conflict from the Arctic to every corner of the globe. Right now in Asia tensions are mounting between China and North Korea on the one side and on the other US allied neighbors Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam where a new US naval base is planned.

Then there is the perennial hotbed of a mess exploding right now in the Middle East. The same war pattern has been raging in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. And with covert predator drone operations likewise going on for years in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the US is extending its imperialistic military foothold and hegemony further south with Special Operations stretching deep into Sub-Saharan Africa.

For well over three years Washington has been using US taxpayer dollars to arm, bankroll and train al Qaeda extremist militants throughout the Middle East and Africa to fight as its proxy mercenaries against Syrian leader Assad’s government forces as an obvious precursor to launching war against Syria’s foremost ally Iran. Obama just pledged another half billion dollars in arms to those same al Qaeda rebels in Syria.

But recently with the Syrian army gaining the upper hand, Washington made the decision to seek yet another regime change in Iraq, sending the so called Islamic Soldiers of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sweeping downward from Syria into Iraq, taking over every major city in that country except the Shiite stronghold in the capital Baghdad. A major bloodbath awaits as the sectarian civil war America created years ago shifts into bloody regime-change overdrive. The US is guilty of backing both opposing sides in Iraq, ISIS and its weak Maliki puppet government, not unlike how oligarchs back both Republicans and Democrats using the old, highly effective, deceptive divide and conquer strategy.

Of course a similar situation in Afghanistan has the Taliban enemy controlling most of the nation’s territory, waiting six more months for US troops to withdraw by the end of the year. The 9800 US designated soldiers left behind will supposedly be in an advisory role for the Afghan National Army. The US war on drugs has bolstered the pockets of both the US drug smuggling operation as well as raising millions of dollars for the Taliban cause that controls the poppy field heroin production. The current undoing of ten years of costly American war and occupation of Iraq will more than likely be replicated in Afghanistan in 2015 as the surging Taliban will then be closing in on the capital Kabul.

In the meantime, virtually every other so called Arab spring CIA-Special Ops-induced regime change has been disastrous for the native populations. For example, in Egypt a third US supported government is run by an over-the-top, oppressive military dictatorship. Meanwhile, the US has created a highly chaotic, lawless, and violent failed state now in Libya. The oligarch planetary vision of destabilizing every Third World nation on earth is currently working according to plan now at an accelerated pace.

In recent decades America has moved from a corporatized pseudo-democracy to a full fledge oligarchy where oligarchs owning the most powerful transnational corporations have merged with virtually all national governments, regardless of ideology and culture. More than ever these days, money buys power. No longer does the US President, the US Congress, nor the US Supreme Court represent the interests of the American people but as hand-picked players operating within a corrupt oligarchy, they are all beholding to the powerbrokers that have made them their political puppets in charge of doing their evil bidding. As such, virtually all of the key political players today are treasonous traitors guilty of betraying the US Constitution that under oath they all swore to protect and uphold, and also betraying US citizens for failing to represent the very people who voted them into power.

Through the process of globalization and privatization, a parallel process to America has been unfolding with nearly every nation and national government on every continent on earth. Deploying US-EU-NATO power, the oligarchs have had their way with all governments. Thus the people on this planet have little to no say or power over their lives since a morally bankrupt global economic system of indentured servitude and slavery keep people drowning in insurmountable debt. These days people find themselves working longer and harder for less money just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table for their families. However, in this growing era of severe global austerity and impoverishment, increasing pressures of providing for their families have too many people barely able to survive, and regretfully many around the globe are not.

Mounting inequality and disparity between the rich and poor are also accelerating to unprecedented levels globally. The elite 1% of oligarchs and their power-broking stewards continue growing exceedingly richer at the expense of the rest of us have-nots on the planet. War, poverty and illness are becoming the new normal far beyond Third World nations. EU countries throughout southern Europe as well as the US are on an ominous fast track to economic collapse. Led by cold war enemies and strongest BRICS nations Russia and China, a growing international movement is afoot to dump the US dollar as the standard international currency, which amounts to an approaching fiscal cliff for America.

Over 40% and rising of America’s adult working age population have not been working when the real unemployment rate include the growing masses who stopped looking for jobs that no longer exist for them. During the last couple decades, mothers as single parents have been struggling to raise America’s children, for the first time replacing the two parent nuclear family as head of household majority. More than half of US adults up to age 25 still live with their parents. But due to increasing financial necessity, a growing trend of even older adults and their children are being forced to move back in with parents at never before seen rates. US college students and young graduates today are mired in college loan debt now exceeding a trillion dollars, as of 2010 even surpassing the nation’s credit card debt. Upwardly mobile progress is long gone in America as the younger adult generations now for the first time can no longer expect to enjoy the same higher standard of living as their parents. The fast changing sociological economic dynamics of the family structure and how younger generations of Americans are being raised in an increasing climate of uncertainty and despair is far different and far bleaker than all previous generations throughout American history.

Without a manufacturing sector left in the US and a decimated middle class from funding an overstretched American Empire waging too many wars around the world, America is a debtor nation dependent as a consumer society on cheap outsourced products mostly from China. US permanent war policy with its conveniently fabricated “war on terror” has drained the middle class during a severe recession still floundering without recovery, chiefly caused by greedy banksters and Wall Street criminals who further gouged already emaciated taxpayers with enormous “too big to fail” bailouts. The national priority in the US has clearly been to not take care of its own citizens but instead wage the longest running wars in US history to ensure that the military security complex as the sole profiteers of war get filthily richer while reeking havoc all over the world with destabilizing regime changes, massive death and global destruction.

Meanwhile, the overburdened middle class shrinks to an all time low as the poor in America reach an all time high while decaying inner city war zones and rotting domestic infrastructure remain long neglected disasters waiting to happen. As a result of all this blatant theft, gross mismanagement of dwindling resources and pervasive criminal malfeasance, America is hopelessly stalled and a long ways from recovering from the 2008 bubble burst. Since 2008 the world’s total government debt has increased by 40% while the largest bailed out banks have grown by a hefty 37% just in the last six years alone. Yet for all its criminal theft and human suffering caused, not one bankster or corporate executive has been indicted or gone to prison for nearly bankrupting the richest, most powerful nation on earth.

Meanwhile, predatory worldwide IMF and world bank loans have opportunistically straight-jacketed Third World nations into debts they have no chance of repaying, leaving them defenseless against their homelands being plundered by predatory privatizing transnationals bent on extracting and stealing every last ounce of underground natural resource available on the planet.

This calculated, sinister process of globalization, privatization and increasing militarization bringing more wars to the planet is all part of the preplanned oligarch agenda to literally squeeze the life out of the world’s population of seven billion people, eugenically thinning the human herd down to anywhere from just a meager half to one billion people. This means that up to 13 out of 14 of us currently living on planet earth right now are slated to be mass murdered within the next few years. This is how the oligarchic plan for a New World Order will be fulfilled, complete with implanted micro-chips in the less than a billion people left on earth as the calculated number of humans still needed to serve as the oligarch’s subservient lackey class. This is their diabolical agenda currently being methodically executed to make life on planet earth over the long haul more sustainable for them and them only.

With all this increasing theft, death and destruction on every continent reaching such an explosive, unprecedented scale where World War III is all but impending, by now every alert citizen of the world should recognize what a handful of wealthy oligarch families have been doing for centuries to this planet - manipulating and enslaving the global masses through centuries of imperialist empire hegemony and controlling international economies at will though war making.

How can so few number of humans control and willfully destroy so many humans? Very evilly as psychopaths. But then they have had centuries of practice, skillfully, secretively operating in back shadows, using their puppet front men as their government leaders to lie constantly to the people. And of course for quite awhile they have had mass media bombarding us with nonstop lies, propaganda, disinformation and deceit just to make certain populations are kept in the dark. Today with big sports, video games, celebrity worship and digital toys galore, their ploy is to keep the masses distracted and ignorant of what has been really going on for a very, very long time. Through whitewashed history books that purposely cover up this same dark truth through the ages, Americans have long been brainwashed and mesmerized into accepting their illusion of democracy, equality, freedom and justice, but for only a few, not all of us as we were always led to believe.

But as demonstrated most recently by the world focus on the latest annual Bilderberg gathering in Copenhagen, the oligarchs are unable to pull the strings from afar any longer without our noticing. Though they wield ultimate power over all the most prominent governments and corporations on earth, there are seven billion human beings who are beginning to wake up now and are onto their evil agenda. Oligarchs taking notice and fast becoming nervous as their Oz-like curtain is finally being lifted once and for all. And behind that curtain we find a handful of wrinkled, prune faced, feeble old white men who look like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons still calling all the shots, but ultimately exposed naked like never before. With more and more of us world citizens every single day becoming aware of their vicious and heinous crimes against humanity, against all of us on this earth, like never before we are in a unique position of burgeoning power to call them on their diabolical plan and evildoing.

We have at our collective disposal much more power than we even know at this relatively early stage of mindful resistance. As globally aware, ethically-motivated, humane and compassionate citizens of the world, we possess the opportunity to finally break free of the shackles that have stifled and enslaved humanity for far too long. Overwhelming similarities are currently binding us earthlings together as richly diverse members of the same humanoid family as well as like minded world citizen-activists committed to doing our collective active best in bringing about peace and justice to our ailing, only planet, before the handful of hugely outnumbered oligarchs destroy everything we hold most dear and sacred. It is up to us ordinary decent people to recognize the truth and bravely act on that truth in unified solidarity for the sake of preserving life on earth in the way that God intended. Again, our beliefs and our actions will determine our reality.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.

Since leaving the White House, the Clintons have earned at least 100 million dollars and currently have a net worth of up to 50 million dollars.  So why in the world do the taxpayers need to give Bill Clinton $944,000 to fund his extravagant lifestyle in 2014?  If ordinary Americans truly understood how much money many former politicians are being handed every year they would go bananas. 

According to a Congressional Research Service report that was published earlier this year, the federal government has given a total of nearly 16 million dollars to Bill Clinton since 2001.  Each one of those dollars is a dollar that some U.S. taxpayer worked really hard for or that we had to borrow.  Yes, we don’t want our former presidents to go broke for a whole bunch of reasons, but it is absolutely absurd that we are showering them with millions upon millions of dollars.

Yesterday, I wrote about the trouble that Hillary has caused for herself by claiming that the Clintons were “dead broke” when they left the White House.

The way things have been set up, there is no way in the world that any former president is going to be “dead broke” ever again unless the law is changed.

According to the Washington Post, Bill Clinton has been receiving about a million dollars a year “for office space, staff, and a pension” since he left office…

According to an April report from the Congressional Research Service, Bill Clinton has received nearly $16 million in pensions and benefits from the federal government since leaving office. That includes $944,000 in fiscal year 2014 for office space, staff, and a pension.

That is insanely wasteful.

But wait, there’s more.

George W. Bush is actually receiving more money from the taxpayers than Clinton is each year

Bush the younger is costing taxpayers $1.28 million this year, and averages 4 per cent more annual than Clinton.

The government’s General Services Administration inexplicably budgeted $102,000 for Bush’s telephone expenses in 2014, and planned to spend $135,000 more on furniture, computers, office supplies and other miscellany.

How in the world is George W. Bush racking up $102,000 in phone expenses a year?

Does he have the world’s worst calling plan?

And of course what we spend on our former presidents is peanuts compared to what we spend on our current president.

According to author Robert Keith Gray, approximately 1.4 billion dollars is spent on the Obamas every year.  Here are just a few nuggets from his book

-The Obamas have the “biggest staff in history at the highest wages ever“.

-Obama has 469 senior staff working directly under him, and 226 of them make more than $100,000 a year.

-There is always at least one projectionist at the White House 24 hours a day just in case there is someone that wants to watch a movie.

-The “dog handler” for the family dog Bo reportedly makes $102,000 per year and sometimes he is even flown to where the family is vacationing so that he can care for the dog.

Yes, the White House needs a large staff.

But at this point we spend more on our presidents than any nation on the planet does on their entire royal families.

Over the years, the political elite have tilted the rules of the game dramatically in their favor.  Neither political party objects because they both benefit from riding on the endless gravy train.

If you can believe it, there are close to 15,000 retired federal employees that are currently collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  This list includes names such as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

And most people are astounded to hear that more than 4 million dollars a year is spent on the “personal” and “office” expenses of each U.S. Senator.

Not that they need the money.  As I wrote about recently, more than half of the members of Congress are millionaires at this point, and nearly 200 of them are multimillionaires.

Politics in America has become a game that is played by the elite for the benefit of the elite.  If it seems like they are “out of touch” with ordinary Americans that is because they are.

Meanwhile, things just continue to get even tougher for the middle class.  Even though money is flowing like wine in Washington D.C. for the moment, a brand new Gallup survey discovered that 58 percent of Americans believe that the economy is getting worse.

It is shameful that our politicians are living like rock stars while tens of millions of American families are suffering so deeply.  For example, consider the case of Andrew and Kristen Cummins

Andrew and Kristen Cummins and their 8-year-old son Colton have been in and out of homelessness for the past four years.

It all started when Andrew moved to Indiana for a temporary warehouse job that was supposed to turn into a full-time job. But instead he said he was let go as soon as the company would have had to start providing him with full-time benefits.

Since then, he has worked at several other temporary jobs that haven’t turned into full-time work either.

Kristen has been in the same position: She has also had temporary jobs, but nothing has stuck.

So for now, the three stay at a local homeless shelter called the Haven House. Since women and men are required to sleep in separate areas, Andrew doesn’t get to see his wife or son after 9 p.m. each night.

There are millions of other families just like them that are scratching and clawing their way through life the best that they can.

Perhaps our politicians should actually do something to help them instead of sitting back and living the high life at our expense.

The Metamorphosis of Hillary Clinton

June 28th, 2014 by James McEnteer

Once upon a time, Hillary Rodham, the 1969 Wellesley valedictorian, studied the organizing tactics of Saul Alinsky and backed Eugene McCarthy’s presidential run. At commencement, she spoke of a conservative strain in New Left protests that harked back to old values and ideals, and she dared to challenge the United States Senator who preceded her on the podium.

Were she still among us, that passionate young woman would surely oppose the nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) for the U.S. presidency.

The former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State no doubt concurs with the nineteenth century French politician who said (more or less): “If a person is not a socialist at 20, he has no heart. If he is still a socialist at 50 he has no head.” Of course, idealism is impractical, an unaffordable luxury for career politicians, who must learn to play ball with the powers that be if they wish to survive in public life. And HRC is a political survivor par excellence.

Marrying Bill Clinton and moving to Arkansas, Hillary Rodham learned the art of compromise, beginning her own metamorphosis into the corporate entity, HRC. When Clinton ran for president in 1992, kicking off a long national soap opera, HRC learned to lie in public on venues like Sixty Minutes.

Heading the Clinton White House Task Force on National Health Care Reform, HRC suffered an embarrassing public defeat at the hands of entrenched health care and insurance interests and their Congressional minions. HRC’s principled activism as First Lady was muted by the rabid efforts of Independent Prosecutor Kenneth Starr to implicate her in one scandal or another: Whitewater, Vince Foster, Travelgate or Filegate. Despite Starr’s marathon efforts, at huge public expense, no charges stuck.

Both Clintons, but especially HRC, infuriated their Republican opponents with an intensity not seen since the days of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, like their later blinding hatred of Barack Obama. HRC’s gender seemed to be the real problem for conservatives, like Obama’s race, challenging and offending the white male power establishment. Ultimately Starr’s pursuit proved superfluous. Bill Clinton’s libido sabotaged his presidency more effectively than any of his many foes.

As the sordid saga of the President’s dalliance with an intern led to his public humiliation and impeachment, HRC’s public approval ratings shot up to 70 percent. She seized an opportunity to get out from under her husband’s shadow and make her own way. Running a smart, incredibly expensive campaign, blessed with weak opposition, HRC was elected to the Senate from New York.

Chastened by her exhausting persecution as First Lady, HRC apparently decided as a member of Congress to go along to get along. During her first term in office she voted for every bellicose bit of war legislation the Bush administration saw fit to ram down the throats of the American people in the wake of 9/11: military action against Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, the Iraq War Resolution. Not until her second term, when the deadly, misbegotten blunders of the Bush-Cheney junta became apparent to all but the most unregenerate jingos, did HRC modify her war support. By then it was too late.

As Secretary of State in the Obama administration, HRC supported the troop surge in Afghanistan and concurred with Obama policies which continued Bush-Cheney policies. Wikileaks revealed that HRC, like Condoleeza Rice before her, ordered U.S. diplomats to spy on United Nations officials, including representatives of friendly countries and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. HRC called the Wikileaks document release “an attack on the international community.”

HRC also criticized Bradley Manning for his disclosures of U.S. war crimes and illegal State Department collusion with foreign oil companies. Of Edward Snowden, she said, “I don’t understand why he couldn’t have been part of the debate at home… because we have all these protections for whistleblowers.” But President Obama, while promising to protect whistleblowers, has prosecuted more leaks of classified information than all previous administrations combined. HRC’s disingenuous remarks about Snowden reveal either her own ignorance or her assumption of ours.

HRC’s successor, Secretary of State John Kerry, accused Snowden of helping terrorists and endangering lives. Kerry told him to “man up” and return home. The brave young Vietnam war veteran, who tossed his medals on the Capitol steps and told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” was another idealist later betrayed by his older, long-embedded, sold-out soul.

Regarding war and civil rights, Hillary Rodham and HRC share scant common ground. The heart of the 22 year-old liberal lies buried deep beneath the travel-worn head of the 66 year-old pragmatist. In 2008 Barack Obama promised Hope and Change. But he failed to deliver. As would Hillary.

HRC holds an appeal for voters who want the first female president. But President HRC would practice the very “politics as usual” that the first Wellesley student commencement speaker challenged to change.

 

James McEnteer is the author of Shooting the Truth: the Rise of American Documentaries (Praeger 2006). He lives in Quito, Ecuador.

Hundreds of Israeli forces encircled al-Araqib village at 9:30am on 12 June; by 11:30am police had demolished most of the homes of the twenty remaining residents of al-Araqib who have lived in dire conditions since July 2010 when their village was first razed to the ground.

The village of al-Araqib, a Bedouin community in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of present-day Israel, was razed to the ground by state authorities for the sixty-ninth time since July 2010 last week. This demolition marked the first time police destroyed homes erected within the cemetery area of the village.

At 9:30am on Thursday, 12 June, approximately 350 police officers and special forces encircled the village and rounded up inhabitants in the makeshift mosque. Homes were bulldozed to the ground in about three hours and the rubble cleared away by 4:30pm.

Police then forcibly entered the makeshift mosque, arresting seven Bedouin and Jewish Israeli activists, amongst them two minors. Authorities demolished the mosque’s minaret and then left.

Villagers vow to remain. Since Thursday night they have been sleeping in the open with only trees and the sky as shelter. Police are permanently stationed outside the cemetery.

“We have no water, no beds, no kitchen, no bathroom. We have nothing but we are staying,” said Haqima Abumadegham al-Turi, mother of nine.

Al-Araqib is one of 35 unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Naqab. The state does not recognize the right of the Bedouin to live on the lands of al-Araqib and does not provide any basic services to them such as water or electricity.

Despite a protracted and ongoing legal battle between the village and the Israel Land Authority over ownership of the land, a government master plan sees al-Araqib classified as a recreational area. The Israel Land Authority and the Jewish National Fund have begun planting a forest on the Bedouin’s ancestral lands.

The village was first demolished on 26 July 2010, when roughly 300 people were left homeless. Since January 2011 twenty people have remained, building their homes within the village’s cemetery area. While demolition continued for structures built outside the cemetery perimeter, inside it the families found a safe haven.

All this changed on 21 May this year when police handed eviction orders to Sheikh Sayah al-Turi, head of the village. Despite a successful appeal by the village’s lawyer against the eviction orders, police lodged a new request, this time for a demolition order.

The court was due to convene to discuss the new request on Thursday afternoon but early that morning, the state was pushing the court to allow demolition of the homes.

As the village lawyer challenged the police’s request for permission to demolish that morning, state authorities ran against the clock to complete destruction of all homes before the district court ordered a halt to the operation.

Activists present say that police prevented villagers from showing them the court order and continued with the demolition, in contempt of the judge’s decision.

Most of the residents and activists arrested were released between Thursday night and Friday morning. Hani Abumadegham al-Turi, 19, was released on 17 June.

Police officers survey clean-up operations.

A fire breaks out in one of the evacuated homes during the demolition.

Activist and historian Gadi Algazi receives news of the new appeal filed by the village’s lawyer to halt the demolition. Police refuse to stop operations while the district court in Ramle convenes.

Sheikh Sayah al-Turi gives an interview with Palestinian media in Israel. “We will remain,” he vowed throughout the day.

Villagers were rounded up inside the makeshift mosque as soon as state authorities entered al-Araqib in the morning. Police forces surrounded the mosque throughout demolition operations.

Men pray in the makeshift mosque.

Police storm the mosque and forcibly arrest seven.

Representatives of the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority survey the situation. Al-Araqib is classified as a recreational area in the Israeli government master plan.

Police demolish the mosque’s minaret.

Shelters for residents’ livestock were destroyed during the demolition.

A Bedouin woman awaits news of her arrested son, 14-year-old Fayez Abumaegham al-Turi. He was released in the early hours of Friday morning.

Halia Abumadegham al-Turi, 17, films the demolition of her home.

After emptying water tanks, police load them onto trucks and took them away, leaving villagers, amongst them many children, without water in high temperatures.

Sujoud Abumadegham al-Turi, 7, loads some of her belongings in the family van before the police enter her village.

Police recorded villagers and activists throughout the day.

An Israeli flag, probably fallen from one of the police cars, lies on the ground of al-Araqib. “They want to create a moon landscape,” said activist Gadi Algazi, “as if no one had ever been here.”

Silvia Boarini is a photojournalist based in Beer Sheva and is currently working on a documentary on Naqab Bedouins.

A bulldozer demolishes a Palestinian home in Jerusalem in February 2012. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

The Israeli army’s rampage across the West Bank is the largest operation since the second Palestinian uprising, and has brought to mind Intifada-era images of Israeli soldiers waging battle on the streets of Palestinian cities.  The return to Intifada-era policies may soon get worse for Palestinians.

Since the reported abduction of three Israeli youths from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc on June 12th, Israel has stepped up raids and arrests during an operation that human rights groups are calling “collective punishment.”  Israeli officials are threatening to escalate that collective punishment by destroying the homes of the families of Palestinian militants.

Earlier this week, the Jerusalem Post‘s Herb Keinon and Yonah Jeremy Bob reported that unnamed sources told the paper that the once-abandoned policy of destroying the homes of alleged militants involved in attacks–and thus harming suspects’ families–would return. An official told the paper that the policy “levels the playing field somewhat.”

This was a hallmark of Israeli policy during the Second Intifada–a measure that, as+972 Magazine’s Michael Omer-Man points out, violates the Geneva Conventions, which only allows demolitions that are necessary for military operations.  According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, Israeli soldiers demolished 664 Palestinian homes as punishment for crimes against soldiers or civilians from 2001-2005.  Those destroyed homes were in addition to other homes destroyed across other areas–notably Jerusalem–for building without a permit (which is hard to come by for Palestinians).

Israel stopped using home demolitions for punitive purposes in 2005, though there was one case of the army doing so in 2009, according to B’Tselem.  But Israel is reportedly looking for a court to approve their desire to destroy the family homes of two Palestinians convicted of killing police officer Baruch Mizrahi near Hebron in April.  In a statement, B’Tselem criticized Israel’s intention of harming family members, who are not guilty of any crime. The planned demolitions would impact 13 people, including 8 children.

“Years ago, the army concluded that punitive home demolitions are not an effective measure to deter attacks against Israelis, and there are even indications that they achieve the opposite effect,” the human rights group said. “It seems therefore that the motives are reaping revenge and politically capitalizing on the current public mood in Israel, in light of the abduction.”

In a separate development, Israeli news outlets reported last week that the Attorney General had given permission to the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, to use abusive interrogation tactics on the detainees picked up during recent raids meant to strike a blow at Hamas and gather intelligence on the reported abduction.

In 1999, the Israeli High Court outlawed the torture regime the Shin Bet used for years, though human rights groups have said Israel has continued to torture some detainees. The court decision also allowed for abusive means–”moderate physical pressure” (MPP) in the court’s words–to be used on “ticking time bombs,” which refers to detainees who had information on imminent threats to Israel life. These abusive means have included the “shabach” position–tying a prisoner’s arms and legs to chairs–beatings and sleep deprivation.

In response to the reports that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had authorized tactics that constitute ill-treatement of prisoners, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Adalah, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel released a statement criticizing the decision:

MPP is a euphemistic term for practices that constitute torture or ill-treatment, which are strictly prohibited by international law. The sweeping designation of the new detainees as ticking bombs therefore means that MPP can be used during their interrogations by Israeli security authorities…

In light of these developments, the human rights organizations reassert that there is never an acceptable reason for the use of torture or ill-treatment, and that force-feeding and “enhanced interrogations” are nothing less than a guise for the use of torture.

Alex Kane is an assistant editor for Mondoweiss and the World editor for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

This article by the late Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri was first published on Global Research on July 13, 2012.

Over the past two years, there has been mounting medical and scientific evidence of the grave biological dangers to humans from so-called “Smart” Meters exposure that are being installed by the hundreds of thousands all over North America and Europe. Scientists have been documenting the EMF/RF exposure effects for decades. However, it is only in the last two years, with the constant wireless electromagnetic radiation exposure to these new meters, that other medical evidence (down to the cellular level) has been reported. In the US, there has never been a mandate to force these utility meters on millions of unsuspecting people. There has been no Precautionary Principle used, while corporate greed has abounded. Various utility companies have not told their customers of the dangers. What they told their customers about these new meters was that it would update the grid and help them control individual usage. Customers have not been told about the serious health problems that these RF pulsing meters cause. We have been given no informed consent to this dangerous but invisible exposure.

With broken and unethical global social mores, this is considered standard business practice: to deceive customers, while gaining enormous profits. As long as a “revolving-door” policy remains between corporations and [no longer] public agencies, citizens will not have their medically validated concerns ever addressed. The corporate bottom line, profit, is what counts –not our well-being and safety. Further, the synergistic effects of various wireless technologies combined with other environmental toxins to which we all are exposed daily have not been tested.

Over the past year, I have already personally seen the damage these dangerous meters have done to numerous people and several animals I know –all across the US. Although not generally reported by mainstream media, the serious impacts on peoples’ health are already evident. A short list includes: neurological impairment, ear pain and hearing problems, breathing dysfunctions, chest pains and heart ailments, burning skin, sleep disturbances, headaches, depression, vision troubles, blood pressure changes, sterility, autism, and neurodegenerative diseases. There are numerous reports of people who are completely incapacitated from EMF exposure. Several people I know are almost constantly debilitated and housebound, due to city-wide exposure to cell towers and Wi-Fi that has become ubiquitous. Most allopathic physicians are not trained in environmental medicine, and so often symptoms are mis-diagnosed.

On July 8, Global Research published Prof. Tracy’s important Smart Meter update, “Looming Health Crisis: Wireless Technology and the Toxification of America”:
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31816

Although Dr. David O. Carpenter notes below that the “evidence of the link between long-term cell phone use and brain cancer comes primarily from Northern Europe”, I know personally of two people who have died from glioma cancer. The glioma cancer originated behind the ear where the cell phone was held. This used to be a rare form of malignant brain cancer. It is now thought to be epidemic, but not reported by the media, as more than 6-billion cell phones are in use globally. Senator Ted Kennedy died of glioma cancer.

There is a very long history of “expendable” customers [we’re no longer called citizens or people], while multi-national corporations continue to make tremendous profits on dangerous drugs and technologies: toxic shock syndrome; Vioxx; thalidomide, HPV vaccines. This list is very long and well documented. For example, in September 2011, the Los Angeles Time reported “that [prescription] drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in US.” See: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/17/local/la-me-drugs-epidemic-20110918

What is now termed Electro-Hypersensitivty (EHS), and is recognized in Sweden as a documented debilitating illness, can actually be called poisoning, as humans and all other living organisms are being damaged by these meters’ moment-to-moment RF pulsing rates. For more than 30 years, distinguished professor Olle Johansson, of the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, has been a highly visible and ardent advocate for those who have been harmed by this technology. His scientific research is ground-breaking. In Sweden, more than 248,000 people are ill from EHS. Most laws are completely outdated to address this crisis. In the US and Canada, many poisoned customers cannot op-out. Or, if this is available to them, customers are charged high op-out fees as well as monthly fees. It is a win-win situation financially for the various utility companies, while customers are being harmed daily. The corporate bottom line takes precedence over health and safety.

In a Canadian magazine, La maison du 21e siècle [the house of the 21st century], Dr. David O. Carpenter, a distinguished physician and former founding dean of the School of Public Health, State University, Albany (New York), has just published a letter called “Smart Meters: Correcting the Gross Misinformation.”(**) It is here reproduced in its entirety:

“We, the undersigned are a group of scientists and health professionals who together have coauthored hundreds of peer-reviewed studies.

We wish to correct some of the gross misinformation found in the letter regarding wireless “smart” meters that was published in the Montreal daily Le Devoir on May 24. Submitted by a group Quebec engineers, physicists and chemists, the letter in question reflects an obvious lack of understanding of the science behind the health impacts of the radiofrequency (RF)/microwave EMFs emitted by these meters.
The statement that “Thousands of studies, both epidemiological and experimental in humans, show no increase in cancer cases as a result of exposure to radio waves of low intensity…” is false(1).

In fact, only a few such studies — two dozen case-control studies of mobile phone use, certainly not thousands, have reported no elevations of cancer, and most were funded by the wireless industry. In addition, these reassuring studies contained significant experimental design flaws, mainly the fact that the populations followed were too small and were followed for a too short period of time.
Non industry-funded studies have clearly demonstrated a significant increase in cancer cases among individuals who have suffered from prolonged exposure to low-level microwaves, transmitted notably by radio antennas. The effects were best documented in meta-analyses that have been published and that include grouped results from several different studies: these analyses consistently showed an increased risk of brain cancer among regular users of a cell phone who have been exposed to microwaves for at least ten years.

Brain Cancer Rates

Furthermore, the argument that brain cancer rates do not indicate an overall increase in incidence is not evidence that cell phones are safe: the latency for brain cancer in adults after environmental exposure can be long, up to 20-30 years. Most North Americans haven’t used cell phones extensively for that long. The evidence of the link between long-term cell phone use and brain cancer comes primarily from Northern Europe, where cell phones have been commonly used since the 1990s.

Children are especially at risk. In May 2012, the U.K.’s Office of National Statistics reported a 50 percent increase in incidence of frontal and temporal lobe tumors in children between 1999 and 2009. This statistic is especially disturbing since in May 2011, after reviewing the published scientific literature regarding cancers affecting cell phone users, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency radiation as a 2B, possible human carcinogen. Despite the absence of scientific consensus, the evidence is sufficiently compelling for any cautious parent to want to reduce their loved one’s exposure to RF/microwave emissions as much as possible, as recommended by various countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Electrosensitivity

Public fears about wireless smart meters are well-founded. They are backed by various medical authorities such as the Public Health Departments of Santa Cruz County (California) and of Salzburg State (Austria). These authorities are worried about the growing number of citizens who say they have developed electrohypersensitivity (EHS), especially since for many of them, the symptoms developed after the installation of such meters (it takes some time for most people to link the two events).

Since the turn of the millennium, people are increasingly affected by ambient microwaves due to the growing popularity of wireless devices such as cell phones and Wi-Fi Internet. Therefore, the mass deployment of smart grids could expose large chunks of the general population to alarming risk scenarios without their consent. According to seven surveys done in six European countries between 2002 and 2004, about 10% of Europeans have become electrosensitive, and experts fear that percentage could reach 50% by 2017. The most famous person to publicly reveal her electrosensitivity is Gro Harlem Brundtland, formerly Prime Minister of Norway and retired Director of the World Health Organization (WHO).

While there is no consensus on the origins and mechanisms of EHS, many physicians and other specialists around the world have become aware that EHS symptoms (neurological dermatological, acoustical, etc.) seem to be triggered by exposure to EMF levels well below current international exposure limits, which are established solely on short-term thermal effects.(2) Organizations such as the Austrian Medical Association and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine have recognized that the ideal way to treat of EHS is to reduce EMF exposure.

Therefore, caution is warranted because the growing variety of RF/microwave emissions produced by many wireless devices such as smart meters have never been tested for their potential biological effects.

Well-known bioeffects

While the specific pathways to cancer are not fully understood, it is scientifically unacceptable to deny the weight of the evidence regarding the increase in cancer cases in humans that are exposed to high levels of RF/microwave radiation.

The statement that “there is no established mechanism by which a radio wave could induce an adverse effect on human tissue other than by heating” is incorrect, and reflects a lack of awareness and understanding of the scientific literature on the subject. In fact, more than a thousand studies done on low intensity, high frequency, non-ionizing radiation, going back at least fifty years, show that some biological mechanisms of effect do not involve heat. This radiation sends signals to living tissue that stimulate biochemical changes, which can generate various symptoms and may lead to diseases such as cancer.

Even though RF/microwaves don’t have the energy to directly break chemical bonds, unlike ionizing radiation such as X-rays, there is scientific evidence that this energy can cause DNA damage indirectly leading to cancer by a combination of biological effects. Recent publications have documented the generation of free radicals, increased permeability of the blood brain barrier allowing potentially toxic chemicals to enter the brain, induction of genes, as well as altered electrical and metabolic activity in human brains upon application of cell phone RF/microwaves similar to those produced by smart meters.

These effects are cumulative and depend on many factors including RF/microwave levels, frequency, waveform, exposure time, bio-variability between individuals and combination with other toxic agents. Clear evidence that these microwaves are indeed bioactive has been shown by the fact that low-intensity EMFs have proven clinically useful in some circumstances. Pulsed EMFs have long been used to successfully treat bone fractures that are resistant to other forms of therapy. More recently, frequency-specific, amplitude-modulated EMFs have been found useful to treat advanced carcinoma and chronic pain.

High frequency EMFs such as the microwaves used in cell phones, smart meters, Wi-Fi and cordless ‘‘DECT’’ phones, appear to be the most damaging when used commonly. Most of their biological effects, including symptoms of electrohypersensitivity, can be seen in the damage done to cellular membranes by the loss of structurally-important calcium ions. Prolonged exposure to these high frequencies may eventually lead to cellular malfunction and death.

Furthermore, malfunction of the parathyroid gland, located in the neck just inches from where one holds a cell phone, may actually cause electrohypersensitivity in some people by reducing the background level of calcium ions in the blood. RF/microwave radiation is also known to decrease the production of melatonin, which protects against cancer, and to promote the growth of existing cancer cells.

Early warning scientists attacked

In recommending that the Precautionary Principle be applied in EMF matters, the European Environment Agency’s Director Jacqueline McGlade wrote in 2009: “We have noted from previous health hazard histories such as that of lead in petrol, and methyl mercury, that ‘early warning’ scientists frequently suffer from discrimination, from loss of research funds, and from unduly personal attacks on their scientific integrity. It would be surprising if this is not already a feature of the present EMF controversy…” Such unfortunate consequences have indeed occurred.

The statement in the Le Devoir letter that “if we consider that a debate should take place, it should focus exclusively on the effects of cell phones on health” is basically an acknowledgement that there is at least some reason to be concerned about cell phones. However, while the immediate exposure from a cell phone is of much greater intensity than the exposure from smart meters, cell phone use is temporary.

Smart meters

Wireless smart meters typically produce atypical, relatively potent and very short pulsed RF/microwaves whose biological effects have never been fully tested. They emit these millisecond-long RF bursts on average 9,600 times a day with a maximum of 190,000 daily transmissions and a peak level emission two and a half times higher than the stated safety signal [Perlingieri’s italics], as the California utility Pacific Gas & Electric recognized before that State’s Public Utilities Commission. Thus people in proximity to a smart meter are at risk of significantly greater aggregate exposure than with a cell phone, not to mention the cumulative levels of RF/microwaves that people living near several meters are exposed to.

People are exposed to cell phone microwaves primarily in the head and neck, and only when they use their device. With smart meters, the entire body is exposed to the microwaves, which increases the risk of overexposure to many organs.

In addition to these erratic bursts of modulated microwaves coming from smart meters that are transferring usage data to electric, gas and water utilities, wireless and wired smart (powerline communication) meters are also a major source of ‘’dirty electricity’’ (electrical interference of high frequency voltage transients typically of kilohertz frequencies). Indeed, some scientists, such as American epidemiologist Sam Milham, believe that many of the health complaints about smart meters may also be caused by dirty electricity generated by the “switching” power supply activating all smart meters. Since the installation of filters to reduce dirty electricity circulating on house wiring has been found to relieve symptoms of EHS in some people, this method should be considered among the priorities aimed at reducing potential adverse impacts.

Rather be safe than sorry

The apparent adverse health effects noted with smart meter exposure are likely to be further exacerbated if smart appliances that use wireless communications become the norm and further increase unwarranted exposure.
To date, there have been few independent studies of the health effects of such sources of more continuous but lower intensity microwaves. However, we know after decades of studies of hazardous chemical substances, that chronic exposure to low concentrations of microwaves can cause equal or even greater harm than an acute exposure to high concentrations of the same microwaves.

This is why so many scientists and medical experts urgently recommend that measures following the Precautionary Principle be applied immediately — such as using wired meters — to reduce biologically inappropriate microwave exposure. We are not advocating the abolishment of RF technologies, only the use of common sense and the development and implementation of best practices in using these technologies in order to reduce exposure and risk of health hazards.

Notes

1. Scientific papers on EMF health effects:
www.powerwatch.org.uk/science/studies.asp

2. Explanation and studies on electrosensitivity:
www.powerwatch.org.uk/health/sensitivity.asp

3. Governments and organizations that ban or warn against wireless technology:
www.cellphonetaskforce.org/?page_id=128

[Letter signed by:]

*David O. Carpenter, MD, Director, Institute for Health & the Environment, University at Albany, USA
*Jennifer Armstrong, MD, Past President, Canadian Society of Environmental Medicine, Founder, Ottawa Environmental Health Clinic, Ontario, Canada
*Pierre L. Auger, M. D., FRCPC, Occupational medicine, Multiclinique des accidentés 1464, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
*Fiorella Belpoggi, Director, Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center, Ramazzini Institute, Bologna, Italy
*Martin Blank, PhD, former President, Bioelectromagnetics Society, Special Lecturer, Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, USA
*Barry Breger, MD, Centre d’intégration somatosophique (orthomolecular medicine), Montreal, Quebec
*John Cline, MD, Professor, Institute for Functional Medicine, Federal Way, WA, USA, Medical Director, Cline Medical Centre, Nanaimo, BC, Canada
*Alvaro Augusto de Salles, PhD, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil
*Christos Georgiou, Prof. Biochemistry, Biology Department, University of Patras, Greece
*Andrew Goldsworthy, PhD, Honorary lecturer in Biology, Imperial College, London, UK
*Claudio Gómez-Perretta, MD, PhD, Director, Centro de Investigación, Hospital Universitario LA Fe, Valencia, Spain
*Livio Giuliani, PhD, Senior Researcher, National Insurance Institute (INAIL), Chief of Radiation and Ultrasounds Research Unit, Rome, Italy
*Yury Grigoriev, PhD, Chair Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, Moscow, Russia
*Settimio Grimaldi, PhD, Director, Institute of Translational Pharmacology (Neurobiology and molecular medicine), National Research Council, Rome, Italy
*Magda Havas, PhD, Centre for Health Studies, Trent University, Canada
*Lennart Hardell, MD, Professor of Oncology, University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden
*Denis L. Henshaw, PhD, Professor of Physics, Head of The Human Radiation Effects Group, University of Bristol, UK
*Ronald B. Herberman, MD, Chairman of Board, Environmental Health Trust, and Founding Director emeritus, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, USA
*Isaac Jamieson, PhD Environmental Science (electromagnetic phenomena in the built environment), independent architect, scientist and environmental consultant, Hertfordshire, UK
*Olle Johansson, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience (Experimental Dermatology Unit), Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
*Yury Kronn, PhD, Soviet authority on physics of nonlinear vibrations and high frequency electromagnetic vibrations, founder of Energy Tools International, Oregon, USA
*Henry Lai, PhD, Professor of Bioengineering, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA
*Abraham R. Liboff, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, USA
*Don Maisch, PhD, Researcher on radiation exposure standards for telecommunications frequency, EMFacts Consultancy, Tasmania, Australia
*Andrew A. Marino, MD, PhD, JD, Professor of Neurology, LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA, USA
*Karl Maret, MD, M.Eng., President, Dove Health Alliance, Aptos, CA, USA
*Sam Milham, MD, former chief epidemiologist, Washington State Department of Health, USA
*Joel M. Moskowitz, PhD, Director, Center for Family and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley
*Gerd Oberfeld, MD, Public Health Department, Salzburg State Government, Austria
*Jerry L. Phillips, PhD, Director, Center for Excellence in Science, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, USA
*John Podd, PhD, Professor of Psychology (experimental neuropsychology), Massey University, New-Zeland
*William J. Rea, MD, thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon, founder of the Environmental Health Center, Dallas, Tx, USA
*Elihu D. Richter, MD, Professor, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel
*Leif G. Salford, MD, Senior Professor of Neurosurgery, Lund University, Sweden
*Nesrin Seyhan, MD, Founder and Chair of Biophysics, Medical Faculty of Gazi University, Turkey
*Cyril W. Smith, PhD, lead author of “Electromagnetic Man”, retired from Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University of Salford, UK
*Morando Soffritti, MD, Scientific Director of the European Foundation for Oncology and Environmental Sciences “B. Ramazzini” in Bologna, Italy
*Antoinette “Toni” Stein, PhD, Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE-EMF Working Group), Co-Coordinator, Berkeley, CA, USA
*Stanislaw Szmigielski, MD, PhD, Professor of Pathophysiology, Consulting Expert, former director of Microwave Safety, Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Warsaw, Poland
*Bradford S. Weeks, MD, Director, The Weeks Clinic, Clinton, WA, USA
*Stelios A. Zinelis, MD, Vice-President, Hellenic Cancer Society, Cefallonia, Greece

Maison Saine. 11 July, 2012. Quebec-based magazine La Maison du 21e siècle asked physician David O. Carpenter, former founding dean of the University at Albany (NY)’s School of Public Health, to comment on a letter published in the Montreal daily Le Devoir last May 24. This letter claimed wireless smart meters pose no risk to public health. Some forty international experts contributed to the following rebuttal. See, Dr. David O. Carpenter:
http://maisonsaine.ca/smart-meters-correcting-the-gross-misinformation/#comment-120283

NOTE: This original article link (above) also has numerous medical links.

Also see:

“The Invisible Hazards of Smart Meters”: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26082

“Smart Meter Dangers Update”:
http://consciouslifenews/com/smart-meter-dangers-update-scientific-proof-hazards/1124466

Jerry Day. “We are EMR Guinea Pigs”:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX-mdciSUC0

Gunni Nordström. “The Invisible Disease. The Dangers of
Environmental Illnesses caused by Electromagnetic Fields and Chemical Emissions”

“There’s a Reason Cell Rhymes with Hell.” The Electromagnetic Effects of Cell Phones and Other Wireless Devices:
http://archivesmb.wordpress.com/the-electromagnetic-effects-of-cell-phones

Educator and environmental writer Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “The Uterine Crisis.” London’s The Ecologist call this book an ”inspiration”

Global Cooling is Here

June 28th, 2014 by Prof. Don J. Easterbrook

Global Research Editor’s note

The following article represents an alternative view and analysis of global climate change, which challenges the dominant Global Warming Consensus.

Global Research does not necessarily endorse the proposition of “Global Cooling”, nor does it accept at face value the Consensus on Global Warming. Our purpose is to encourage a more balanced debate on the topic of global climate change.

[Article originally published by Global Research in November 2008]

INTRODUCTION

Despite no global warming in 10 years and recording setting cold in 2007-2008, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC) and computer modelers who believe that CO2 is the cause of global warming still predict the Earth is in store for catastrophic warming in this century. IPCC computer models have predicted global warming of 1° F per decade and 5-6° C (10-11° F) by 2100 (Fig. 1), which would cause global catastrophe with ramifications for human life, natural habitat, energy and water resources, and food production. All of this is predicated on the assumption that global warming is caused by increasing atmospheric CO2 and that CO2 will continue to rise rapidly.

 

Figure 1. A. IPCC prediction of global warming early in the 21st century. B. IPCC prediction of global warming to 2100. (Sources: IPCC website)

However, records of past climate changes suggest an altogether different scenario for the 21st century. Rather than drastic global warming at a rate of 0.5 ° C (1° F) per decade, historic records of past natural cycles suggest global cooling for the first several decades of the 21st century to about 2030, followed by global warming from about 2030 to about 2060, and renewed global cooling from 2060 to 2090 (Easterbrook, D.J., 2005, 2006a, b, 2007, 2008a, b); Easterbrook and Kovanen, 2000, 2001). Climatic fluctuations over the past several hundred years suggest ~30 year climatic cycles of global warming and cooling, on a general rising trend from the Little Ice Age.

PREDICTIONS BASED ON PAST CLIMATE PATTERNS

Global climate changes have been far more intense (12 to 20 times as intense in some cases) than the global warming of the past century, and they took place in as little as 20–100 years. Global warming of the past century (0.8° C) is virtually insignificant when compared to the magnitude of at least 10 global climate changes in the past 15,000 years. None of these sudden global climate changes could possibly have been caused by human CO2 input to the atmosphere because they all took place long before anthropogenic CO2 emissions began. The cause of the ten earlier ‘natural’ climate changes was most likely the same as the cause of global warming from 1977 to 1998.

Figure 2. Climate changes in the past 17,000 years from the GISP2 Greenland ice core. Red = warming, blue = cooling. (Modified from Cuffy and Clow, 1997)

Climatic fluctuations over the past several hundred years suggest ~30 year climatic cycles of global warming and cooling (Figure 3) on a generally rising trend from the Little Ice Age about 500 years ago.


Figure 3. Alternating warm and cool cycles since 1470 AD. Blue = cool, red = warm. Based on oxygen isotope ratios from the GISP2 Greenland ice core.

Relationships between glacial fluctuations, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and global climate change.

After several decades of studying alpine glacier fluctuations in the North Cascade Range, my research showed a distinct pattern of glacial advances and retreats (the Glacial Decadal Oscillation, GDO) that correlated well with climate records. In 1992, Mantua published the Pacific Decadal Oscillation curve showing warming and cooling of the Pacific Ocean that correlated remarkably well with glacial fluctuations. Both the GDA and the PDO matched global temperature records and were obviously related (Fig. 4). All but the latest 30 years of changes occurred prior to significant CO2 emissions so they were clearly unrelated to atmospheric CO2.


Figure 4. Correspondence of the GDO, PDO, and global temperature variations.

The significance of the correlation between the GDO, PDO, and global temperature is that once this connection has been made, climatic changes during the past century can be understood, and the pattern of glacial and climatic fluctuations over the past millennia can be reconstructed. These patterns can then be used to project climatic changes in the future. Using the pattern established for the past several hundred years, in 1998 I projected the temperature curve for the past century into the next century and came up with curve ‘A’ in Figure 5 as an approximation of what might be in store for the world if the pattern of past climate changes continued. Ironically, that prediction was made in the warmest year of the past three decades and at the acme of the 1977-1998 warm period. At that time, the projected curved indicated global cooling beginning about 2005 ± 3-5 years until about 2030, then renewed warming from about 2030 to about 2060 (unrelated to CO2—just continuation of the natural cycle), then another cool period from about 2060 to about 2090. This was admittedly an approximation, but it was radically different from the 1° F per decade warming called for by the IPCC. Because the prediction was so different from the IPCC prediction, time would obviously show which projection was ultimately correct.

Now a decade later, the global climate has not warmed 1° F as forecast by the IPCC but has cooled slightly until 2007-08 when global temperatures turned sharply downward. In 2008, NASA satellite imagery (Figure 6) confirmed that the Pacific Ocean had switched from the warm mode it had been in since 1977 to its cool mode, similar to that of the 1945-1977 global cooling period. The shift strongly suggests that the next several decades will be cooler, not warmer as predicted by the IPCC. 

Figure 5.Global temperature projection for the coming century, based on warming/cooling cycles of the past several centuries. ‘A’ projection based on assuming next cool phase will be similar to the 1945-1977 cool phase. ‘B’ projection based on assuming next cool phase will be similar to the 1880-1915 cool phase. The predicted warm cycle from 2030 to 2060 is based on projection of the 1977 to 1998 warm phase and the cooling phase from 2060 to 2090 is based on projection of the 1945 to 1977 cool cycle.

Implications of PDO, NAO, GDO, and sun spot cycles for global climate in coming decades

The IPCC prediction of global temperatures, 1° F warmer by 2011 and 2° F by 2038 (Fig. 1), stand little chance of being correct. NASA’s imagery showing that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has shifted to its cool phase is right on schedule as predicted by past climate and PDO changes (Easterbrook, 2001, 2006, 2007). The PDO typically lasts 25-30 years and assures North America of cool, wetter climates during its cool phases and warmer, drier climates during its warm phases. The establishment of the cool PDO, together with similar cooling of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), virtually assures several decades of global cooling and the end of the past 30-year warm phase. It also means that the IPCC predictions of catastrophic global warming this century were highly inaccurate.

The switch of PDO cool mode to warm mode in 1977 initiated several decades of global warming. The PDO has now switched from its warm mode (where it had been since 1977) into its cool mode. As shown on the graph above, each time this had happened in the past century, global temperature has followed. The upper map shows cool ocean temperatures in blue (note the North American west coast). The lower diagram shows how the PDO has switched back and forth from warm to cool modes in the past century, each time causing global temperature to follow. Comparisons of historic global climate warming and cooling over the past century with PDO and NAO oscillations, glacial fluctuations, and sun spot activity show strong correlations and provide a solid data base for future climate change projections.

The Pacific Ocean has a warm temperature mode and a cool temperature mode, and in the past century, has switched back forth between these two modes every 25-30 years (known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation or PDO). In 1977 the Pacific abruptly shifted from its cool mode (where it had been since about 1945) into its warm mode, and this initiated global warming from 1977 to 1998. The correlation between the PDO and global climate is well established. The announcement by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) had shifted to its cool phase is right on schedule as predicted by past climate and PDO changes (Easterbrook, 2001, 2006, 2007). The PDO typically lasts 25-30 years and assures North America of cool, wetter climates during its cool phases and warmer, drier climates during its warm phases. The establishment of the cool PDO, together with similar cooling of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), virtually assures several decades of global cooling and the end of the past 30-year warm phase.

 

Figure 6. Switch of PDO cool mode to warm mode in 1977 initiated several decades of global warming. The PDO has now switched from its warm mode (where it had been since 1977) into its cool mode. As shown on the graph above, each time this has happened in the past century, global temperature has followed. The upper map shows cool ocean temperatures in blue (note the North American west coast). The lower diagram shows how the PDO has switched back and forth from warm to cool modes in the past century, each time causing global temperature to follow. Projection of the past pattern (right end of graph) assures 30 yrs of global cooling

Comparisons of historic global climate warming and cooling over the past century with PDO and NAO oscillations, glacial fluctuations, and sun spot activity show strong correlations and provide a solid data base for future climate change projections. As shown by the historic pattern of GDOs and PDOs over the past century and by corresponding global warming and cooling, the pattern is part of ongoing warm/cool cycles that last 25-30 years. The global cooling phase from 1880 to 1910, characterized by advance of glaciers worldwide, was followed by a shift to the warm-phase PDO for 30 years, global warming and rapid glacier recession. The cool-phase PDO returned in ~1945 accompanied by global cooling and glacial advance for 30 years. Shift to the warm-phase PDO in 1977 initiated global warming and recession of glaciers that persisted until 1998. Recent establishment of the PDO cool phase appeared right on target and assuming that its effect will be similar to past history, global climates can be expected to cool over the next 25-30 years. The global warming of this century is exactly in phase with the normal climatic pattern of cyclic warming and cooling and we have now switched from a warm phase to a cool phase right at the predicted time (Fig. 5)

The ramifications of the global cooling cycle for the next 30 years are far reaching―e.g., failure of crops in critical agricultural areas (it’s already happening this year), increasing energy demands, transportation difficulties, and habitat change. All this during which global population will increase from six billion to about nine billion. The real danger in spending trillions of dollars trying to reduce atmospheric CO2 is that little will be left to deal with the very real problems engendered by global cooling.

CONCLUSIONS

Global warming (i.e, the warming since 1977) is over. The minute increase of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere (0.008%) was not the cause of the warming—it was a continuation of natural cycles that occurred over the past 500 years.

The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling, perhaps much deeper than the global cooling from about 1945 to 1977. Just how much cooler the global climate will be during this cool cycle is uncertain. Recent solar changes suggest that it could be fairly severe, perhaps more like the 1880 to 1915 cool cycle than the more moderate 1945-1977 cool cycle. A more drastic cooling, similar to that during the Dalton and Maunder minimums, could plunge the Earth into another Little Ice Age, but only time will tell if that is likely.

Don J. Easterbrook is Professor Emeritus of Geology at Western Washington University. Bellingham, WA. He has published extensively on issues pertaining to global climate change. For further details see his list of publications

Saddam-Glaspie meeting

Transcript of Meeting Between Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie. – July 25, 1990 (Eight days before the August 2, 1990 Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait)

(published on GR on March 5, 2012)

July 25, 1990 – Presidential Palace – Baghdad

U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – I have direct instructions from President Bush to improve our relations with Iraq. We have considerable sympathy for your quest for higher oil prices, the immediate cause of your confrontation with Kuwait. (pause) As you know, I lived here for years and admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country. We know you need funds. We understand that, and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. (pause) We can see that you have deployed massive numbers of troops in the south. Normally that would be none of our business, but when this happens in the context of your threat s against Kuwait, then it would be reasonable for us to be concerned. For this reason, I have received an instruction to ask you, in the spirit of friendship – not confrontation – regarding your intentions: Why are your troops massed so very close to Kuwait’s borders?

Saddam Hussein - As you know, for years now I have made every effort to reach a settlement on our dispute with Kuwait. There is to be a meeting in two days; I am prepared to give negotiations only this one more brief chance. (pause) When we (the Iraqis) meet (with the Kuwaitis) and we see there is hope, then nothing will happen. But if we are unable to find a solution, then it will be natural that Iraq will not accept death.

U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – What solutions would be acceptable?

Saddam Hussein - If we could keep the whole of the Shatt al Arab – our strategic goal in our war with Iran – we will make concessions (to the Kuwaitis). But, if we are forced to choose between keeping half of the Shatt and the whole of Iraq (i.e., in Saddam s view, including Kuwait ) then we will give up all of the Shatt to defend our claims on Kuwait to keep the whole of Iraq in the shape we wish it to be. (pause) What is the United States’ opinion on this?

U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – We have no opinion on your Arab – Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960′s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America. (Saddam smiles)

On August 2, 1990, Saddam massed troops to invade and occupy Kuwait. _____

Baghdad, September 2, 1990, U.S. Embassy

One month later, British journalists obtain the the above tape and transcript of the Saddam – Glaspie meeting of July 29, 1990. Astounded, they confront Ms. Glaspie as she leaves the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Journalist 1 – Are the transcripts (holding them up) correct, Madam Ambassador?(Ambassador Glaspie does not respond)

Journalist 2 – You knew Saddam was going to invade (Kuwait ) but you didn’t warn him not to. You didn’t tell him America would defend Kuwait. You told him the opposite – that America was not associated with Kuwait.

Journalist 1 – You encouraged this aggression – his invasion. What were you thinking?

U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – Obviously, I didn’t think, and nobody else did, that the Iraqis were going to take all of Kuwait.

Journalist 1 – You thought he was just going to take some of it? But, how could you? Saddam told you that, if negotiations failed , he would give up his Iran (Shatt al Arab waterway) goal for the Whole of Iraq, in the shape we wish it to be. You know that includes Kuwait, which the Iraqis have always viewed as an historic part of their country!

Journalist 1 – American green-lighted the invasion. At a minimum, you admit signaling Saddam that some aggression was okay – that the U.S. would not oppose a grab of the al-Rumeilah oil field, the disputed border strip and the Gulf Islands (including Bubiyan) – the territories claimed by Iraq?

(Ambassador Glaspie says nothing as a limousine door closed behind her and the car drives off.)

Apparently the people who know best about what’s happening in Ukraine are US government officials who won’t let their names be printed in the newspaper.

New York Times report by Andrew Roth (6/23/14) notes that while Russian President Vladimir Putin was sending supportive messages about a possible peace deal, “the United States said last week that it had evidence that Russia was preparing to send more tanks and artillery to the fighters in eastern Ukraine.”

If Russia is “preparing to send more,” that implies that it’s already sent some–and that the New York Times has evidence that this is the case.  There has been no shortage of coverage attempting to explicitly link Russia to these rebel groups, but the stories have often fallen apart under examination (FAIR Blog, 4/23/14).

Michael GordonBut that doesn’t stop the Times from letting government officials float these stories. In a June 20 piece, the Times granted a US official anonymity to lay out a rather detailed scenario of Russian subterfuge. Under the headline “As Ukraine Announces Cease-Fire, White House Points Finger at Russia,” reporters Michael Gordon and David Herszenhorn wrote that that the White House was “accusing the Kremlin of continuing to covertly arm the rebels.” Of course, if you are “continuing” to do something, you are already doing it. (For those keeping score, Gordon was the reporter who had to walk back his “scoop” about Russian troops in Ukraine, and was one of the Times‘ most prominent reporters on its bogus Iraq WMD stories).

The new case the Times laid out was based entirely on anonymous claims from the US government–or, as the Times put it, “American officials added another element to an increasingly complex situation.” The paper spells it out:

“We have information that Russia has redeployed significant military forces to its border with Ukraine,” a senior Obama administration official told reporters on Friday. “Russian Special Forces are also maintaining points along the Ukrainian border to provide support to separatist fighters.”

The paper then alluded to an earlier State Department accusation that “three aging Russian T-64 tanks had been sent to Ukraine,” and that the Ukrainian government was claiming that there were 10 more tanks. The Times also noted:

Adding to Western concerns, the senior Obama administration official said, artillery has been moved to a deployment site inside southwest Russia and may soon be shipped across the border.

Not only are the anonymous claims of one official the source of the information–they also provide the analysis of that information, floating a slightly-too-perfect theory that Russia is handing over old equipment in order to make it seem like they’re not actually doing so:

American officials said Russia was providing older weapons that its forces had phased out but that were known to remain in the Ukrainian military’s inventory.

“The desire here is to mask the Russian hand” by allowing Ukrainian separatists to claim the weapons were captured on the battlefield, the administration official said. The official asked not to be identified by name, in line with the Obama administration’s protocol for briefing reporters.

Mr. Putin appears to be calculating that he can continue to provide military support to the separatists without triggering tough economic reprisals as long as the Kremlin denies that it is involved and avoids obvious provocations, like sending conventional Russian military units into eastern Ukraine, American officials said.

Spy (Antonio Prohias)

This line jumps out: “The official asked not to be identified by name, in line with the Obama administration’s protocol for briefing reporters.” While there’s no reason to doubt that the official didn’t wish to be named, it’s worth remembering that the Times has its own set of guidelines about granting sources anonymity, a privilege that is supposed to happen rarely and should be accompanied by some explanation.

The Timesguidelines state that “we should try to state tersely what kind of understanding was actually reached by reporter and source, especially when we can shed light on the source’s reasons.”

The Times piece throws in more background from their source because…well, why not:

The senior Obama administration official told reporters that some Russian forces near Ukraine had taken up positions that “are within a handful of kilometers of Ukrainian territory, the closest that they’ve been since the invasion of Crimea.”

“We also have information that additional forces are due to arrive in coming weeks,” the senior administration official added.

Earlier this year, Times public editor Margaret Sullivan (3/18/14) wrote that she was going to start paying closer attention to this with a series called “Anonywatch.” In a recent blog post (6/17/14), she noted, “When sources are nameless, they are also unaccountable. There is no price for them to pay when they get it wrong. But readers—and the Times‘ credibility—do suffer.”

You can quote her on that.

First published by Global Research on August 30, 2010

The politics of terror are the greatest covert operation ever.

In explaining why, I’ll begin by defining some terms, because, when discussing the covert op called “the politics of terror,” words and their management are all important.

How are politics and terror actually defined: how are these meanings manipulated; for what purposes, and by whom?

Terrorism is defined as “violence against civilians intended to obtain a political purpose.” This is an ambiguous phrase, which begs the questions: what are politics and violence?

Politics is defined as “the process by which groups of people make collective decisions.” And violence is the use of force to compel a person or group to do or think something against their will.  That includes the violence of words – of threatening to hurt – and of social structures, as well as the violence of deeds.

So, by definition, terrorism is political violence – hurting people, or threatening to hurt them, in order to make them govern themselves against their will.

In America , terrorism is always condemned by the government, and, accordingly, America is never a perpetrator of terrorism, but always the victims of it.  The US war on terror is the ultimate expression of this principle: it is a military response to terrorism; violence in self-defense, not (ostensibly) violence for a political purpose.

That’s the official story – the assumption.  But I’m going to show that America does engage in terrorism – violence against civilians for political purposes.  This “state” terrorism, however, is covert, in so far as it is equated with national security, and thanks to that built-in ambiguity, it has both stated and unstated purpose.

The State and Unstated Policy in America

Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions.  But who really makes the overarching political decisions in America ?   Who governs us?

The two political parties represent the people and they compete for control of the government.  Republicans generally favor business and Democrats favor labor.  The political division is, generally, class based.

Now, the government can be controlled by either political party; but the state endures –  “the state” being the nation’s indispensable industries and infrastructure (banking, auto industry, insurance, Microsoft), and the institutions which defend the nation’s enduring interests: the military, law enforcement, the intelligence & security services.

In Europe they often, cynically, refer to the state as “industry” or Big Business.  In America we tend to call “the state” the Establishment – an ambiguous word that needs to be defined.

The dictionary defines Establishment as, “An exclusive group of powerful people who rule a government or society by means of private agreements and decisions.”  I would venture to say that the interests of the state and the Establishment are the same, and that the definition of Establishment with a capital E is the pivotal phrase in discussing “state” terrorism.

Consider this: there is the politics of the two parties vying for control of the government, and there is the Establishment, the state, making the covert (ostensibly non-political) decisions that effectively govern America .

Many of those covert decisions concern national security: they are unstated policy.

Moreover, these covert policy decisions about national security are made by people who control the military, law enforcement, and intelligence & security services.  These guardians of “the state” are collectively called the National Security Establishment.

Like the Establishment that secretly rules the “state,” the National Security Establishment is an exclusive group that is not accountable to the political whims of the people.

These professional guardians of the state – the Establishment – are assumed to be above partisan politics.  Their loyalty is assumed to be to the law or national security.  And that assumption is the Big Lie upon which state terrorism is based.

Yes, it is true that the National Security Establishment is not accountable to the people: and, in fact, it has built a series of ever-larger, concentric moats around itself called the National Security State , precisely to keep the people out of its business.

The National Security Establishment rules the National Security State , with an iron fist, but it is pure propaganda that the National Security Establishment and State are not political.

In order to get inside the National Security Establishment, and rise to a position of authority within it, one must be born there (like Bush – make a billion like Gates), or submit to years of right-wing political indoctrination calibrated to a series of increasingly restrictive security clearances.

Political indoctrination – adopting the correct right-wing ideology – and security clearances represent the drawbridge across the moats.

The National Security State is the covert social structure of the Establishment, and it has as its job not just defending the Establishment from foreign enemies, but also expanding the Establishment’s economic and military influence abroad, while preserving its class prerogatives at home.

By “class prerogatives,” I mean the National Security State is designed to keep the lower class from exerting any political control over the state; especially, redistributing the Establishment’s private wealth.

To these unstated ends – imperialism abroad and repression at home – the National Security State engages in terrorism – political violence – on behalf of the Establishment.

Indeed, the National Security State is political violence, terrorism, in its purest form.

The Establishment and its National Security State as Terrorism

The lower classes in America have little voice in making government or state policy.  Some are hopeless, others content: but in either case, voter turnout is a mere 54%.

Whether hopeless or content, they know they cannot fight conventional thinking.  For example, when the Establishment exerts its influence, it is not considered politics; it is simply the status quo.  The rich create jobs and must be accommodated with trillion dollar bailouts, paid for by workers taking furloughs.

That’s just the way it is.  Politicians in the service of the Establishment, for over-arching reasons of national security, have to keep the capitalist financial system afloat.

It is the same thing with the National Security Establishment: America invaded Iraq , and there was nothing the people do about it.  The decision was made for them.  Peace activists, least of all, had no voice in the decision, because they are assumed to have no stake in national security.  You will not find peace activists in the National Security Establishment; and that political repression is covert state terrorism.

Likewise, if labor seeks to exercise influence, its efforts are described as exploiting the state for more than it deserves, because it does not have an enduring stake in the state.

It is a fact: only Establishment wealth – ownership – is equated with national security.

Consider the immortal words of Leona Helmsley: “Only the little people pay taxes.”

That injustice in the tax code is political repression and, in so far as it makes the people fearful, it is state terrorism.  The Establishment fears losing its loopholes, while workers and the poor fear losing their homes: two types of terror, one for each class, one stated, one unstated.

The Establishment engages imperialism and political repression through propaganda (word management violence) and social structures.  This state terrorism is unstated, covert.

Only when the people rebel and challenge the Establishment is the word terrorism applied.

Likewise, the military, police or intelligence causes of rebellion, or responses to it, are never called terrorism: they are national security.

And that’s how the management of words helps to repress the lower classes.

Language and the Psychology of State Terror

America’s industrial sized war machine was never said to terrorize Iraq ; the invasion was not political – because the war machine is owned by the Establishment.  The Establishment profiting from war is not politics; it is ideological neutral “profits.”

In fact, America exerts its unwanted political influence overseas, through the state terror of aircraft carrier fleets, bombers, nuclear subs, shock and awe invasions, pacification programs, the overthrow of governments, and support of repressive puppet regimes.

This state terrorism, which you never hear about, is the biggest covert psychological warfare operation of all time.  This psywar operation depends on narrowly defining terrorism as a suicide bomber, a hijacked plane, the decapitated body of a collaborator: the “selective terrorism” of rebels and nationalists who, outgunned, and outlawed in their own country, have no other options, other than submission.

The purpose of selective terror is psychological: to isolate collaborators, while demonstrating to the people the ability of the rebels to strike at their oppressors. Shock and Awe, and brutal pacification cam­paigns – state terrorism – prevent people from making a living – selective terrorism does not. That’s a big, meaningful “class” difference.

The National Security Establishment understands that selective terror achieves political and psychological goals that state terror does not – that it rallies people to revolutionary ideals.  So the National Security Establishment engages in selective terror too, by targeting the rebel, his family and friends in their homes.

This is the selective terror con­ducted by counter-terrorists.  But don’t be confused: it is terrorism.   All terror is psychological and political; state terror by immobilizing people and making them responsive, submissive, apathetic, and/or ostensibly “content.”

The National Security Establishment fully understands that once people have been terrorized, they have been politically defeated, without necessarily receiving bullets.

As former Director of Central Intelligence William Colby once said: “The implication or latent threat of terror was sufficient to insure that the people would comply.”

This principle of the psychological use of “the implication or latent threat of terror” is what brings us back to America and the business of terror.

The Business of Terror

State terror – colonization abroad and political repression at home – is a key means of extracting profits and maintaining ownership of property.   Ask the American Indian.

In its colonies, the US engages in state terrorism by removing all legal protections for rebels; detention, torture, and summary execution are the price for rebellion against US policy.

State terrorism overseas, imperialism, is never acknowledged by the media, because the media is a big business; indeed, two of the major networks are owned by defense contractors.

And state terrorism applied domestically to ensure “internal” security is never acknowledged – America says it has no political prisoners.  But the National Security State is well thought out, by professionals in language management, and political and psychological warfare, aimed at you.

“Personal violence is for the amateur in dominance,” says two-time Nobel Prize winner Johan Galtung, but “structural violence is the tool of the professional. The amateur who wants to dominate uses guns; the professional uses social structure. The legal criminality of the social system and its institutions, of government…is tacit violence. Structural violence is a structure of exploitation and social injustice.”

As Colby said: “The implication or latent threat is enough to insure people will comply.”

The war on terror and its domestic version “homeland security” are the law of the land – America ‘s new legally criminal social structure based on administrative detention, enshrined in The Patriot Act and a number of executive orders, some secret.

This lack of due process comes on top of a justice system already skewed to protect the propertied elite and pack the prisons with the poor, through “structural violence,” mainly the drug wars.

The Establishment’s new anti-terror and anti-drug laws make the National Security State the most fearsome covert political and psywar machine the world has ever seen.  And the National Security State is growing: the “Top Secret America” series in the Washington Post put it at 750,000 cadres.

This secret state within a state extends into the homeland’s critical infrastructure and beyond.  For example, the arms industry provides good jobs, making American imperial aggression seem a positive value.

And this is how the psyched-out people become one of the moats.

As it is modeled on the totalitarian corporate paradigm, the National Security State in al its manifestations fits the classic definition of a fascist dictatorship.  And we know what its intentions are.  They have been stated.

In the days after 9-11, right wing Republican stalwart Kenneth W. Starr, the Clinton inquisitor, said the danger of terrorism requires “deference to the judgments of the political branches with respect to matters of national security.”

But is there an on-going emergency that requires defer to the political branches, meaning the right-wing ideologues who rule the National Security State ? And what does it mean for Establishment opponents if due process is completely abandoned at home, and subjected to politics?

Michael Ledeen, a former counter-terror expert on Reagan’s National Security Council, blamed 9-11 on Clinton “for failing to properly organize our nation’s security apparatus.” Ledeen’s solution to the problem of those who sneered at security was “to stamp out” the “corrupt habits of mind.”  By which he means Liberalism.

In other words, the reactionary right wing that owns the National Security State wants to impose its total rule on the people in order to create a security conscious, uniform citizenry – marching in lock step, flags waving – that is necessary to win the war on terror. This is how the National Security professionals are incrementally creating the requisite fascist social structure – through terror, the best organizing principle ever. “This is time for the old motto, ‘kill them all, let God sort ‘em out.’ New times require new people with new standards,” Ledeen asserted. “The entire political world will understand it and applaud it. And it will give us a chance to prevail.”

When Ledeen says “political” world he means the “owners of the business” of state terror, the right wing ideologues who pack the National Security State and the capitalist Establishment they serve.

And they have won the propaganda war, folks.

First published by GR on September 23, 2010.

Abstract:

While it is recognized that through the use of meta-analysis and randomized controlled trials the standard of excellence in evidenced-based medicine (EBM) stands alone on a pinnacle, there is nonetheless an evidence-based methodology that can be applied across the board in other decision-making areas. Though research into the events of 9/11 has not yet attained the rigor achieved by EBM, it is still possible to rank the research in this field according to evidence-based principles. This article explains the principles, points to sources that exemplify them, and argues the ethical obligation of librarians and journalists to advance those sources .

Nine-eleven has done more to change the world’s political landscape than any other event since World War II.

And 9/11 is far from over: it triggered what Western leaders have declared an “endless” or “generational” war on terror. Even President Obama stated in March 2009 that the Afghan-Pakistan border region “has become the most dangerous place in the world” for the American people.[1]

Increasingly, however, the official account of its cause has come under rigorous scientific scrutiny and doubt. In Europe, strong media coverage followed the unchallenged 2009 discovery of high-tech military explosives in the World Trade Center dust.[2]

Given the enormous international expense, suffering, and death that continue to hemorrhage from the wound of 9/11, it is vital that librarians and media professionals acquire the knowledge and ethical support to perform their part in addressing the rising tide of doubt.

1. Is there good reason to doubt the official account of 9/11?

Though the imagery of the events of September 11, 2001, is profoundly etched in the collective human memory, there is a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that these events were not brought about in the manner described by The 9/11 Commission Report of 2004.[3i]

Harper’s magazine referred to the Commission’s report as:

“a cheat and a fraud. It stands as a series of evasive maneuvers that infantilize the audience, transform candor into iniquity, and conceal realities that demand immediate inspection and confrontation.”[4]

The 9/11 Commissioners themselves reported the obstruction of their mandate by the C.I.A., in a New York Times editorial:

“What we do know is that government officials decided not to inform a lawfully constituted body, created by Congress and the president, to investigate one the greatest tragedies to confront this country. We call that obstruction.”[5]

Indeed a vast body of evidence refuting the official account has been compiled in the encyclopedic work The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, which was awarded Publishers Weekly’s “Pick of the Week” in November, 2008.[6]

Its author, Dr. David Ray Griffin, was nominated in 2008 and 2009 for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on 9/11.

Dr. Griffin is controversial in the press, however. In September 2009, the New Statesman cited him as number 41 of “The 50 People Who Matter Today,” complaining that his books had given “a sheen of respectability” to “one of the most pernicious global myths.”[vii] The impact of the growing evidence – as revealed through 9/11 conferences, demonstrations, and public opinion polls – caused Guardian columnist George Monbiot to bemoan that “the anti-war movement has been largely co-opted in many places by the 9/11 Truth movement.”[8]

Though controversial, the persistent questions about the 9/11 Commission findings show that the matter is far from settled – indeed thousands of professional people are calling for a transparent re-investigation into 9/11, with full subpoena power.[9]

2. Why is it important that the events of 9/11 be properly understood?

The September 11th attacks have done more to shape world conflict in this century than any other event. More resources are being committed to the resulting “war on terror” than to the foundational issue of the survival of our eco-system. Additionally, the “war on terror” is being waged in the oil-rich Middle East, whose promise of vast oil supplies is delaying the development of alternative energy sources.

As we saw above, in the past year new scientific information has pointed strongly to the use of a high-tech military explosive (nanothermite) in the vertical free-fall collapses of the Twin Towers and Building 7. Many firefighters heard explosions in the basements, and nine years later, organized firefighters are strongly urging a new investigation.[10] The cell phone calls from the airliners are now seriously in doubt,[11] and it has recently been demonstrated that Osama bin Laden probably died in December 2001.[12] The FBI, in any case, offers no evidence for his responsibility in the attacks.[xiii] The two 9/11 Commission heads, and its senior counsel, have declared that the Commission was lied to.[14]

It is therefore imperative that the truth about 9/11 be established with certainty. It is urgent and essential that all professionals who convey information about 9/11 to the public be equipped with the best possible evidence, so that decision-making about our most pressing issues is based on sound knowledge.

3. Sound knowledge: What is evidence-based practice?

Evidence-based practice is a methodology for clinical medical practice whose application has expanded, since it first appeared in the early 1990’s, to guide professional decision-making in many other research-based fields.[15]

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is “a way of providing health care that is guided by a thoughtful integration of the best available scientific knowledge with clinical expertise.”[16] It integrates three streams of evidence: patient reports, physician observations, and current research that is continually updated into clinical practice guidelines.

EBM offers the medical community a point-of-care gold standard of consensus on the diagnosis and treatment of each condition. Where it is readily available, there is no longer any reason why a physician should claim ignorance of the best available information in the treatment of his or her patients.

Evidence-Based Practice in the Library Setting

Information specialist Andrew Booth defines evidence-based library practice as

“an approach to information science that promotes the collection, interpretation, and integration of valid, important and applicable user-reported, librarian-observed, and research-derived evidence. The best available evidence moderated by user needs and preferences, is applied to improve the quality of professional judgments.”[17]

The journal Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice is now in its fifth year of publication, and is reporting advances in everything from the peer review of electronic search strategies to critical appraisal checklists[xviii] that test the validity of study design, data collection, and outcomes.

The Fifth International Evidence Based Library & Information Practice Conference declared:

· that “information literacy is a fundamental human right,”

· the need to address “ineffective comprehension and use of information that continue to plague human society,”

· the profession’s responsibility “to remain in touch with the evidence base for library and information practice,”

· “a professional imperative – a need to demonstrate that by making our services more evidence based we can make a difference.”[19]

Librarians thus strive to operate in the real world, using evidence-based librarianship (EBL) as applied science. And science is a state of mind: questioning, open, balanced, respectful of evidence, and on the alert for bias.

Evidence-Based Practice in the Media Setting

Newspapers are facing bankruptcy[xx] in the wake of the Internet and social media revolutions, and must adapt or die. This is particularly true with regard to the resounding silence about the 9/11 controversy in the American press. In the face of vigilant on-the-spot citizen videotaping and wiki-leaks of official wrong-doing, it no longer suffices to simply hand off government and corporate newswire releases as the dominant source of reality.

A paternal top-down corporate-owned press no longer constructs the political reality. The global Internet brain, with its synapses firing through Google, YouTube, Facebook and a host of other social media, is gutting the media monopoly over our collective sense of reality.

A monumental correction is in progress, and deservedly so.

The media has failed to ask the tough questions in time: about 9/11, the illegal Middle East wars, Katrina, and the banking scandals.

The media underestimated its truth-hungry consumers – insulted them by withholding analysis and historical context – and now the hunt for reality on serious issues has led to grassroots sources that go far beyond the old “he said, she said” and “yellow journalism” models that have been offered up as good enough.

Philip Meyer, Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of North Carolina, and author of “The Vanishing Newspaper,” foresees the newspaper of the future as a virtual textbook model of evidence-based practice:

“The newspapers that survive will probably do so with some kind of hybrid content: analysis, interpretation and investigative reporting in a print product that appears less than daily, combined with constant updating and reader interaction on the Web.”[xxi]

Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC’s World Service and Global News, states, “I maintain we need evidence, fact-based reporting more than ever in a world awash with information, rumour, and opinion.”[22]

In summary: To address the sensitive issues of national security and foreign policy, society requires, from its library science and media professionals, reliable evidence-based information that will satisfy the public responsibility to judge and act upon the critical issues at hand.

4. Public interest in 9/11 information: What do the polls show?

There have been dozens of reputable polls, in the United States, Canada, and other countries, measuring public beliefs about responsibility for 9/11.[23]

These polls consistently show that 30-40% of people either doubt the official story, or believe that the US government allowed the attacks to happen, or that the government was directly complicit.

A 2006 Time Magazine article reported:

“A Scripps-Howard poll of 1,010 adults last month found that 36% of Americans consider it “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that government officials either allowed the attacks to be carried out or carried out the attacks themselves. Thirty-six percent adds up to a lot of people. This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a mainstream political reality.”[24]

A 2008 World Public Opinion poll of 17 nations outside the United States found that majorities in only nine of the countries believe Al Qaeda carried out the attacks.[25]

In contrast to this widespread public skepticism, very little of the scientific literature on 9/11 (which is listed in Part 6 below) has been reviewed in the mainstream press. The public has thus had minimal access to research materials in libraries (owing to the absence of reviews) or to balanced media investigations into the emerging evidence.

The demand for such information may be seen by searching the Google News Archive for “9/11 truth”.[26] The top-ranked article for 2010 dealt with 18 case studies of objective European, British and Canadian mainstream treatments of 9/11 during the past year.[27]

I turn now to the question of the ethical responsibility of media and information professionals to offer an evidence-based approach to the 9/11 debate that is rumbling along below the radar.

5. The ethics of delivering evidence-based journalism and library services on the events of September 11

On the home page for the American Library Association (ALA) “Code of Ethics is written:

“Ethical dilemmas occur when values are in conflict.”[28]

Indeed, values come into sudden grim conflict when a person looks squarely, for the first time, at the (largely unreported) evidence surrounding the 9/11 attacks.

Doubts about September 11th, which bears the hallmark characteristics of a false flag operation,[29] constitute precisely the sort of dilemma that codes of ethics were designed to handle.

The ALA ethical statements provide guidance:

· We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.

· We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.

· We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.[30]

Similarly, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) states that “respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.”[31]

The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) states that:

“the primary purpose of gathering and distributing news and opinion is to serve the general welfare by informing the people and enabling them to make judgments on the issues of the time.”[32]

ASNE adds that:

“freedom of the press belongs to the people. It must be defended against encroachment or assault from any quarter, public or private. Journalists must be constantly alert to see that the public’s business is conducted in public. They must be vigilant against all who would exploit the press for selfish purposes.”[33]

The IFJ defines press freedom as:

“that freedom from restraint which is essential to enable journalists, editors, publishers and broadcasters to advance the public interest by publishing, broadcasting or circulating facts and opinions without which a democratic electorate cannot make responsible judgments.”[34]

The IFJ “Clause of Conscience” even seeks to protect journalists, by stating that:

“No journalist should be directed by an employer or any person acting on behalf of the employer to commit any act or thing that the journalist believes would breach his or her professional ethics…No journalist can be disciplined in any way for asserting his or her rights to act according [to] their conscience.”[35]

Thus we see that librarians and media professionals have both the responsibility and the ethical support of their associations to seriously question 9/11, especially if that responsibility is the public wish – and the polls indicate that it is.

To recap: A parallel can be drawn between evidence-based medicine, which provides a standard of information for human health, and evidence-based library science and journalism, which could equally provide a standard of information for democratic and political health.

Using the scientific method, EBM ranks various types of evidence according to their freedom from bias. In reporting on controversies relating to the events of September 11, library science and journalism could equally draw on types of evidence that are free from bias.

Whether or not these professionals have a realizable ethical responsibility to provide the best evidence to their clients can only be gauged by determining whether they have access to such evidence.

I turn now to an examination of the available sources of evidence-based knowledge on the events of September 11.

6. Evidence-Based 9/11 Literature Sources

The literature of 9/11 can be divided into US government documents, which support the official account of 9/11, and the body of literature that has emerged from the professional research community through dissatisfaction with this account.

Government Documents Advancing the Official Story of September 11th

A 9/11 investigation was resisted by the White House[36] and only granted under pressure from the surviving families nearly two years after the event. The 9/11 Commission was a low-budget affair (costing a fraction of the Monica Lewinsky investigation) and tightly controlled by a White House insider, Philip Zelikow.[37]

Commissioner Lee Hamilton said the 9/11 Commission was “set up to fail.” Commissioner Timothy Roemer was “extremely frustrated with the false statements” coming from the Pentagon, and former commissioner Max Cleland resigned, calling it a “national scandal.”[38]

Among 115 other omissions, [39] The 9/11 Commission Report failed to mention the sudden straight-down collapse at 5:30 PM of nearby WTC Building 7, an enormous steel-frame skyscraper 47 stories high that was not hit by an airplane.

Thus the Report, which is incomplete, lacks peer review, and has been shunned by its own Commissioners, can hardly be viewed as an evidence-based study.

The other central documents in the official account were prepared over a seven-year period by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in an attempt to explain the strange vertical, nearly free-fall collapses of the Twin Towers and Building 7.[40] There was no consideration given to a controlled demolition hypothesis, though the attending firefighters and TV anchors (including CBS anchor Dan Rather and ABC anchor Peter Jennings[41]) suggested the uncanny similarity at the time.

The NIST reports were not peer-reviewed. Sixty days were given for public comment on the first draft, but the comments, and many serious concerns that were raised, were almost entirely ignored in writing the final report.[42]

As the building collapse reports were not peer-reviewed, they cannot be judged as evidence-based.

Independent Scientific Research Opposing the Official Story of September 11th

Perhaps the best evidence challenging the official story has been compiled by Prof. Emeritus Dr. David Ray Griffin, who was mentioned above. Griffin taught theology and the philosophy of religion, with a heavy focus on the relation between religion and science, for 35 years, and has written nine carefully researched and documented books that together represent “the known” in relation to verifiable knowledge about 9/11.

At the present time, a website offering Dr. Griffin’s books, videotaped lectures, and online essays is the best single source of online evidence-based knowledge on 9/11.[43]

Published scientific articles include, in addition to the nanothermite study,[44]

· six papers in the February 2010 American Behavioral Scientist, indexed by 67 databases, and published as a whole issue on State Crimes Against Democracy, with 9/11 used as a primary example;[45]

· an article in The Environmentalist, “Environmental Anomalies at the World Trade Center: Evidence for Energetic Materials;”[46]

· a paper, “Extremely High Temperatures during the World Trade Center Destruction;”[47]

· a science article countering popular myths about the WTC collapses;[48]

· 59 peer-reviewed papers on the physics of 9/11 events, published since 2006 in the Journal of 9/11 Studies, and 67 letters between members of the academic community;[49]

· 9 scholarly papers published as a compendium in 2006 by Elsevier Science Press, suggesting US complicity in a false flag operation.[l] The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 was never reviewed in the mainstream press.

Other resources include Morgan and Henshall’s 9/11 Revealed[li] and Flight 93 Revealed;[lii] two books by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism”,[53] and War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11;[liv] and the Complete 9/11 Timeline investigative project.[55]

An association of professional architects and engineers held a worldwide press conference in February 2010, to announce 1000 members calling for a new investigation into 9/11 – based on the way the Twin Towers and Building 7 fell.[56]

In late 2009, Canada’s flagship investigative journalism program, CBC’s Fifth Estate, explored both sides of the 9/11 controversy in depth – the first balanced documentary in North America to do so.[57]

In summary, though the foregoing evidence against the official story has not been distilled into the systematic reviews and practice guidelines that are the products of evidence-based medicine, each claim has been either multiply peer-reviewed or substantially documented. All claims are based on continually updated and ongoing research.

This qualifies the independent research cited above as the best available evidence concerning the events of September 11.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, librarians and journalists face the dilemma that CBS anchorman Dan Rather described to the BBC to account for the failure of journalists to properly investigate 9/11:

“There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people’s necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions.”[58]

The words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu offer moral direction for this dilemma: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”[59]

Librarians and journalists therefore have a solemn duty to their democracies to present the 9/11 issue as a scientific controversy worthy of debate.

Notes

[1] The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. “Remarks by the President on a New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” March 27, 2009 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-a-New-Strategy-for-Afghanistan-and-Pakistan/).

[2] Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, et al., “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,” Open Chemical Physics Journal, Vol. 2 (April 3, 2009): 7-31 (http://www.bentham.org/open/tocpj/openaccess2.htm). The media follow-up is documented in: Elizabeth Woodworth, “The Media Response to the Growing Influence of the 9/11 Truth Movement. Part II: A Survey of Attitude Change in 2009-2010,” Global Research, February 15, 2010 (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?aid=17624&context=va ).

[3] A thorough study of the Commission’s failings is available in: David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, Olive Branch Press, 2004. An online list of 115 failings may be seen in: David Ray Griffin, “The 9/11 Commission Report: A 571 Page Lie,” Global Research, September 8, 2005 (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=907).

[4] Benjamin DeMott, “Whitewash as public service: How The 9/11 Commission Report defrauds the nation,” Harper’s Magazine, October, 2004 (http://www.harpers.org/archive/2004/10/0080234 ).

[5] Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, “Stonewalled by the C.I.A.,” New York Times, January 2, 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/02/opinion/02kean.html .

[6] David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé, Interlink/Olive Branch, 2008. The PW review is at: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/1-legacy/15-web-exclusive-book-reviews/article/6017-web-exclusive-reviews-week-of-11-24-2008-.html.  

[7] New Statesman. “The 50 people who matter today,” September 24, 2009 (http://www.newstatesman.com/global-issues/2009/09/world-fashion-gay-india-church).  

[8] Peter Barber, “The Truth is Out There,” Financial Times, June 8 2008 (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/8d66e778-3128-11dd-ab22-000077b07658.html).  

[9] Patriots Question 9/11. “Responsible Criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report” (http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/).  

[10] Firefighters for 9/11 Truth (http://firefightersfor911truth.org/).  

[11] FBI evidence presented at the 2006 Zacarias Moussaoui Prosecution Trial revealed that Barbara Olson’s single call to her husband Ted Olson, Solicitor General of the United States, lasted “zero seconds”. See graphic at http://911research.wtc7.net/planes/evidence/docs/calls/Flight77/BarbaraOlson.jpg  

[12] David Ray Griffin, Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? Olive Branch Press, 2009.

[13] FBI, “FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive[s], Usama bin Laden. (http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/fugitives/laden.htm).  

[14] Kean and Hamilton, “Stonewalled by the C.I.A.;” John Farmer, “The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11,” Riverhead, 2009, p. 4.

[15] As a Canadian health sciences librarian, I spent many years delivering “best evidence” to health professionals in the British Columbia Ministry of Health.

[16] United States. National Library of Medicine. “Evidence-Based Practice and Health Technology Assessment,” Medical Subject Headings, 2009. (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hsrinfo/evidence_based_practice.html).  

[17] Booth, A., and Brice, A., Evidence-Based Practice for Information Professionals: A handbook, London, Facet Publishing, 2004.

[18] Virginia Wilson, “An Introduction to Critical Appraisal,” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice,” February 5, 2010

(http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/7458/6438).  

[19] 5th International Evidence Based Library & Information Practice Conference, Stockholm, June 29th – July 3rd 2009 (http://blogs.kib.ki.se/eblip5/).  

[20] “The 10 Most Endangered Newspapers in America,” Time Magazine, March 9, 2009 (http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1883785,00.html).  

[21] Philip Meyer, “The Elite Newpaper of the Future,” American Journalism Review, October/November 2008 (http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=4605).  

[22] Richard Sambrook, “What’s So Funny About News, Comment, and Understanding?” May 5, 2009 (http://sambrook.typepad.com/sacredfacts/2009/05/whats-so-funny-about-news-comment-and-understanding.html).  

[23] Wikipedia. “September 11 attacks opinion polls,” May 25, 2010 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks_opinion_polls). 

[24] Lev Grossman. Why the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Won’t Go Away,” Time Magazine, September 3, 2006
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1531304-1,00.html .

[25] WorldPublicOpinion.org, “International Poll: No Consensus On Who Was Behind 9/11,” September 10. 2008
http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/international_security_bt/535.php?nid=&id=&pnt=535&lb=btis .

[26] See: http://news.google.com/archivesearch?q=9/11+truth&scoring=a&sa=N&sugg=d&as_ldate=2010&as_hdate=2014&lnav=hist10.  

[27] Woodworth, “The Media Response to the Growing Influence of the 9/11 Truth Movement.”

[28] Code of Ethics of the American Library Association, 2008
http://staging.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/statementspols/codeofethics/codeethics.cfm.

[29] “A false flag operation is a staged attack, such as on a US ship, which is used to gain popular support for war against a predetermined enemy.” Ralph Lopez, Truth in the Age of Bushism, 2nd ed., CreateSpace, p. 97.

[30] Code of Ethics of the ALA.

[31] “Status of Journalists and Journalism Ethics: IFJ Principles,” May 2003 (http://www.ifj.org/en/articles/status-of-journalists-and-journalism-ethics-ifj-principles).  

[32] American Society of Newspaper Editors, “Statement of Principles,” 1975 (http://www2.sabew.org/sabewweb.nsf/8247d0ca4c256f7286256ad800773610/880622dc72b8016086256bf1006d227b!OpenDocument).  

[33] Ibid.

[34] “Status of Journalists and Journalism Ethics: IFJ Principles.”

[35] Ibid.

[36] Pete Brush, “Bush Opposes 9/11 Query Panel,” CBS News, May 23, 2002 (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/05/15/attack/main509096.shtml).  

[37] Philip Shenon, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, Twelve, 2008.

[38] George Washington’s Blog, “Whitewash,” January 17, 2008 (http://georgewashington.blogspot.com/2008/01/whitewash.html).  

[39] David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions.

[40] These reports are available at http://wtc.nist.gov/.  

[41] Dan Rather, CBS News, “9/11: Dan Rather Says WTC Collapses Look Like Demolitions,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nvx904dAw0o) ; Peter Jennings, ABC News, “9/11: Controlled Demolition Comparison,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ptvvbaR0-U).  

[42] NIST. WTC 7 Public Comments Received (2008) (http://wtc.nist.gov/comments08/).  

[43] See http://davidraygriffin.com.  

[44] Niels H. Harrit, et al., “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe.”  

[45] See February 2010 issue at http://abs.sagepub.com/content/vol53/issue6/. The print issue is available for $24 from Sage Journals at [email protected], telephone 1-800-818-7243.  

[46] Kevin R. Ryan, James R. Gourley, and Steven E. Jones, “Environmental Anomalies at the World Trade Center: Evidence for Energetic Materials,” The Environmentalist, 29 (2009): 56-63.

[47] Steven E. Jones et al., “Extremely High Temperatures during the World Trade Center Destruction,” Journal of 9/11 Studies, January 2008 (http://journalof911studies.com/articles/WTCHighTemp2.pdf).  

[48] Steven E. Jones, et al., “Fourteen Points of Agreement with Official Government Reports on the World Trade Center Destruction,”

The Open Civil Engineering Journal, vol. 2, 2008 (http://www.bentham-open.org/pages/content.php?TOCIEJ/2008/00000002/00000001/35TOCIEJ.SGM).  

[49] Journal of 9/11 Studies, http://www.journalof911studies.com/.  The letters are published at http://www.journalof911studies.com/letters.html  

[50] Zarembka, Paul, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11-2001, Elsevier, 2006 (http://econpapers.repec.org/bookchap/rpevolume/volm23.htm).  A second edition (paperback) from Seven Stories Press appeared in 2008, http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-History-9-11-Paul-Zarembka/dp/B002YX0BUU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274834040&sr=8-1.  

[51] Rowland Morgan and Ian Henshall, 9/11 Revealed: The Unanswered Questions, Carrol & Graf, 2005.

[52] Rowland Morgan and Ian Henshall, Flight 93 Revealed: What Really Happened on the 9/11 Let’s Roll Flight? Carroll & Graf, 2006.

[53] Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism,” Global Research, 2005.

[54] Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11, Global Outlook, 2002.

[55] History Commons, Complete 9/11 Timeline, (http://www.historycommons.org/project.jsp?project=911_project).  

[56] Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, now has 1200 members. (http://www.ae911truth.org).  

[57] CBC, Fifth Estate, “The Unofficial Story,” November 27, 2009. This program drew a record 377 public comments, ref. http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/discussion/2009/11/the_unofficial_story.html.  Outside Canada, the documentary may be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkYlbpS-vVI.  

[58] Matthew Engel, “US media cowed by patriotic fever, says CBS star,” The Guardian, May 17, 2002 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2002/may/17/terrorismandthemedia.broadcasting).  

[59] Rosemarie Jarski, Words from the Wise, Skyhorse Publishing, 2007, p. 353.

This article was first published by Washington Blog and Global Research on January 21, 2011

President Eisenhower’s warned us about the growing threat from the powerful military-industrial complex – and it’s threat to our prosperity – 50 years ago.

As NPR notes:

On Jan. 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower gave the nation a dire warning about what he described as a threat to democratic government. He called it the military-industrial complex, a formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces.

Eisenhower, a retired five-star Army general, the man who led the allies on D-Day, made the remarks in his farewell speech from the White House.

***

Eisenhower used the speech to warn about “the immense military establishment” that had joined with “a large arms industry.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

***

Eisenhower was worried about the costs of an arms race with the Soviet Union, and the resources it would take from other areas — such as building hospitals and schools.

***

Another concern … was the possibility that as the military and the arms industry gained power, they would be a threat to democracy, with civilians losing control of the military-industrial complex.

Eisenhower also said:

Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

As James Ledbetter wrote in the New York Times last month:

It is not a stretch to believe that this armaments industry — which profits not only from domestic sales but also from tens of billions of dollars in annual exports — manipulates public policy to perpetuate itself. But Eisenhower was concerned about more than just the military’s size; he also worried about its relationship to the American economy and society, and that the economy risked becoming a subsidiary of the military.

***

Eisenhower warned that the influence of the military-industrial complex was “economic, political, even spiritual” and that it was “felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government.” He exhorted Americans to break away from our reliance on military might as a guarantor of liberty and “use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.”

On this score, Eisenhower may well have seen today’s America as losing the battle against the darker aspects of the military-industrial complex. He was no pacifist, but he was a lifelong opponent of what he called a “garrison state,” in which policy and rights are defined by the shadowy needs of an all-powerful military elite.

The United States isn’t quite a garrison state today. But Eisenhower would likely have been deeply troubled, in the past decade, by the torture at Abu Ghraib, the use of martial authority to wiretap Americans without warrants and the multiyear detention of suspects at Guantánamo Bay without due process.

Finally, even if the economy can bear the immediate costs of the military, Eisenhower would be shocked at its mounting long-term costs. Most of the Iraq war expenses were paid for by borrowing, and Americans will shoulder those costs, plus interest, for many years to come.

A strong believer in a balanced budget, Eisenhower in his farewell address also told Americans to “avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow.” Too many of today’s so-called fiscal conservatives conveniently overlook the budgetary consequences of military spending.

The Independent pointed out Monday:

If you doubt, half a century on, that Dwight Eisenhower had it right, then consider the advertisements on WTOP, the Washington region’s all-news radio station. Every big metro area in the US has one, where car dealerships tout their bargains, and fast food chains promote a new special offer.

WTOP has all that. But it boasts other advertisers too, with names such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

***

These almost otherworldly ads, with patriotic music playing softly in the background, are aimed at a very restricted audience: the government that is their only customer for such wares. For the rest of us, they are proof that in the capital of the world’s richest democracy, the defence industry is a very big player indeed.

***

Adjusted for inflation, US national security spending has more than doubled since Eisenhower left office. Year after year, the defence budget seems to rise – irrespective of whether the country is actually fighting major wars, regardless of the fact that the Soviet Union, the country’s former global adversary, has ceased to be, and no matter which party controls the White House and Congress.

One common thread however exists: the military-industrial complex, or perhaps (as Eisenhower himself described it in a draft of his speech that was later amended) the military-industrial-congressional complex. Others have referred to the beast as the “Iron Triangle”.

In one corner of the triangle stands the arms industry. The second is constituted by the government, or more precisely the Pentagon, the end-consumer of the industry’s output. In a totalitarian state, such as the Soviet Union, that combination would be sufficient. The US however is a democracy, and a third corner is required – an elected legislature to vote funds to pay for the arms. This is Congress, made up of members who rely on the defence industry for many jobs in their states and districts, and for money to help finance their every more expensive re-election campaigns.

***

A treasure trove of old documents, covered with dirt and pine needles and discovered last year at a cabin in Minnesota once owned by Eisenhower’s chief speechwriter Malcolm Moos, reveals that the 34th president had been working on the speech since mid-1959. It went through at least 21 drafts; in a later one, the “congressional” reference was struck out because, it is supposed, Ike did not want to upset old friends on Capitol Hill. But the “military” part was there from the outset.

***

In reality, the dangers of Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” are not new; from the earliest days of the Republic, political leaders have warned of them. “Overgrown military establishments,” George Washington said in his own farewell address of 1796, “are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty.” 

***

Once again, one might note, Eisenhower hit the mark in January 1961. Back then, budgets were more or less balanced, and the possibilities of the future seemingly boundless. Even so he urged his countrymen to “avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow“. That of course is what has happened with the “credit card” wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose costs will burden American taxpayers for years to come.

As the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundationtold Democracy Now today, the big defense contractors “recycle our money into the political system”. He pointed to one example:

[The Lockheed companies] spend about $12 million per election cycle, either on lobbying or on candidates. And they have people like Buck McKeon, who runs the Armed Services Committee now. They’re the biggest donor to him. They’re the biggest donor to Daniel Inouye, who runs the Appropriations Committee in the Senate.

And investment legend Jeremy Grantham’s most recent newsletter argues that President Eisenhower’s worst fear have come true, and makes some hard-hitting points about finance and government as well:

Historians may well look back on this period, say, from 1960 on, as the “Selfish Era” – a time when individualism and materialism steadily took precedence over social responsibility. (To be fair, in the period from 1960 to 1980, the deterioration was slow, and the social contract dating back to the mid-1930s was more or less intact.) Personal debt grew slowly at first but steadily accelerated, even though it can be easily demonstrated that consumers collectively are better off saving to buy and that the only beneficiary of a heavy debt society is the financial industry, whose growth throughout this period was massive, multiplying its share of a growing pie by a remarkable 2.2 times…

The financial industry, with its incestuous relationships with government agencies, runs a close second to the energy industry. In the last 10 years or so, their machine, led by the famously failed economic consultant Alan Greenspan – one of the few businessmen ever to be laughed out of business – seemed perhaps the most effective. It lacks, though, the multi-decadal attitude-changing propaganda of the oil industry. Still, in finance they had the “regulators,” deregulating up a storm, to the enormous profit of their industry. Even with the biggest-ever financial fiasco, entirely brought on by the collective incompetence they produced (“they” being the financial regulators and the financial industry leaders working together in some strange, would-be symbiotic relationship), reform is still difficult. Even with everyone hating them, the financial industry comes out smelling like a rose with less competition, profits higher than ever, and not just too big to fail, but bigger still.

Other industries, to be sure, are in there swinging: insurance and health care come to mind, but they seem like pikers in comparison. No, it’s energy and finance in coequal first place, military-related companies an honorable third, and the rest of the field not even in contention. And now, adding the icing to the corporate cake, we have the Supreme Court. Formerly the jewel in the American Crown, they have managed to find five Justices capable of making Eisenhower’s worst nightmare come true. They have put the seal of approval on corporate domination of politics, and done so in a way that can be kept secret. The swing-vote Senator can now be sand-bagged by a vicious advertising program on television, financed by unknown parties, and approved by no stockholders at all!

All in all it appears that Eisenhower’s worst fears have been realized and his remarkable and unique warnings given for naught. From now on, we should tread more carefully. Honoring President Eisenhower’s unique warnings, we should perhaps not take this 50-year slide lying down. Squawking loudly seems preferable.

Reduce Militarism or we are Doomed

June 27th, 2014 by Jan Oberg

Both NATO and the EU has just announced that their members will now invest more in the military. It’s indicative of the lack of creativity in both organisations, it is self-defeating and counter-productive.

But have you seen it put on top of any agenda and debated? You haven’t, it is so normal – and the argument is that we are threatened. That’s called fearology: Making tax payers pay even more by making them scared.

The military sector is a parasite on society

The military sector produces much less employment than the civilian per invested dollar. It’s a huge burden on the economy because it swallows creativity, research and development badly used to solve humankind’s real problems.

Weapons don’t belong to a market, there is no competition – the state is the only buyer – and thus tax payers must cover the systematic cost overruns.

We are told that there is economic crisis and we must cut down on hospitals, schools and human care everywhere. But this we can afford?

But what if the military did solve our problems?

Well, look at Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and today’s Iraq: Where is it the use of armies and arms have made the world better? Where is the human security we provided?

No, whatever the question, the military and its philosophical base in violence is not the solution.

No cold war and no threat – but it goes on

We are told there is no Cold War. Well-informed people know that Russia’s military expenditures is 7% of NATO’s. Russia is a de facto military dwarf in the ‘correlation of forces.’

In spite of that, today’s global military level is much higher than at the time of the Cold War, measured in constant dollars. And now the creatives in NATO and the EU can find better options than saying: More! That is, more weapons, arms races, arms export, more killing – and more economic weakness and social problems?

It’s the enigma of our times that educated people are allowed in so-called democracies to practise such  fundamental destructiveness.

What if the world is getting more peaceful?

You’ve surely come across books and columnists who argue that “we are living in the most peaceful time ever in human history” – like Steven Pinker and the Peace Index which ought to be challenged in terms of both theory, concepts and methodology.

But we would all love it to be true, wouldn’t we?

That is why such arguments get a wide media coverage. In addition, they legitimate the ongoing militarist mind-set and the absurd military expenditures – US $ 1700 billion versus 30 for everything the whole UN system does.

Worse, they make us reduce the importance of the ongoing 40 or so wars. Do you know that there are now more people killed in Congo than Jews during the Second World War? But how much attention do they get?

It’s the MIMAC, stupid !

There is only one rational explanation of this dangerous madness: MIMAC = the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex.

The vested interests shared by elites in these sectors are obvious. No matter what the world looks like – more or less peaceful – MIMAC keeps growing. There is a word for it: autism.

And whether politicians like it or not, they obey, see no alternatives to acquiring more arms – like a junkie wanting yet another shot. And some benefit through corruption and later well-paid board posts in the military industry.

No relations between threat and armament

It’s about 45 years now that peace and conflict research pointed out that if one of the super powers disappeared, the other would quickly find another enemy to legitimize its MIMAC with.

And we know how things developed after 1989.

There is no relation between threats and MIMAC and it’s the latter with its academic and media elites that justifies its further growth by pointing to new ‘threats’ and the necessity to be able to conduct wars all the time.

Threats are constructued to fit MIMAC’s insatiable needs. MIMAC is not a service to make society secure. And peace won’t grow out of it – because:

When you have the weapons, you tend to use them – rather than think and seek diplomatic solutions and genuine conflict-resolution.

Most media avoid militarism as an issue – however not Russia Today

It’s deeply controversial and strong power groups  will even kill people – physically or mediawise – who criticize militarism.

I was therefore grateful to be invited recently by RT – Russia Today and – without prior planning – talk about the MIMAC and why we should reduce it and invest, instead, in intelligent conflict-resolution.

RT has 650 million viewers worldwide, albeit “Worlds Apart” is of course only one program. The two videos on YouTube have been seen by more than 30.000 in a couple of weeks and I have received 500+ personal reactions from people around the world, all without exception positive.

My criticism is general, and it’s understood that Russia certainly also has a MIMAC.

One may wonder why it is RT that can take up this civilisational issue and not BBC, CNN, AlJazeera or your own country’s leading media. No one in Denmark or Sweden where I happen to be has addressed militarism the way RT does here for as long as I can remember.

The choice is clear

Either we stop the gigantic MIMAC parasite growth outside democratic control or humanity will be its victim and perish. If armament continues, wars fail and nuclar weapons are used (a related issue no one talks about anymore), you can forget about the environment, justice, democracy, Global Millennium Goals and all the rest.

Welcome to watch and discuss MIMAC and other issues (including Sweden where we begin) on RT’s program:

“Militaries are outdated, should go like cannibalism and slavery.” 

Largely overshadowed by events in Iraq and Syria, the Obama administration is dropping its pretense at displeasure with the military junta in Egypt and restoring full support for the regime that so recently quashed the country’s faltering attempt at democracy.

Secretary of State John Kerry, en route to troubled Baghdad, stopped in Cairo, where he announced that Washington would soon release a briefly withheld portion of the more than a billion dollars in aid that the Egyptian military receives each year from American taxpayers.

Kerry affirmed the “historic partnership” between the U.S. and Egyptian governments, while expressing confidence “that the [10] Apaches [helicopter gunships] will come, and that they will come very, very soon.” The New York Times noted that “the Egyptian military has been especially eager” to receive the gunships.

Considering how the military government treats the Egyptian people, one can fully believe it.

Let’s remember that in 2011, when Egyptians took to the streets to demand an end to the decades-long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, the Obama administration — in particular then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton — stood by Mubarak until the bitter end. Two years earlier, when asked about Mubarak’s despicable human-rights record, which was documented in State Department reports, Clinton said, “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family. So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States.” That statement led some to wonder if she was the right person to be handling the Egyptian crisis for the U.S. government.

Moreover, the New York Times reported, State Department cables given to WikiLeaks revealed that “relations with Mr. Mubarak warmed up because President Obama played down the public ‘name and shame’ approach of the Bush administration.” (Behind the scenes, the Timesreported, diplomats repeatedly “raised concerns with Egyptian officials about jailed dissidents and bloggers, and kept tabs on reports of torture by the police.”) Military aid to the government continued to flow.

When Mubarak’s ouster was inevitable, the administration backed an abortive “compromise” that would have put Mubarak’s chief enforcer in charge. Thus the U.S. government’s claim that it supported the popular Arab Spring was exposed as a sham.

The Egyptian people’s uprising led to their first elections and a victory for candidates associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which, despite its reputation among American hawks, had forsworn violence decades before. The administration of President Mohammed Morsi (June 2012 – July 2013) was marred by repression, exclusion, incompetence, an uncooperative opposition, and public discontent, but that did not justify what followed: a military coup, the suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition, violence against peaceful demonstrators, silencing of opposition media, jailing of journalists on the thinnest of pretexts, and death sentences for hundreds of Egyptians, including the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. All this was topped off this past spring by the election of former general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as president, with a suspicious 95 percent of the vote.

This is the regime that Kerry and Obama wish to work with in pursuit of their “historic partnership.” Do they think the world is blind and deaf?

The U.S. ruling elite has long seen Egypt’s military as a bulwark against the sort of popular political change that would conflict with the regional hegemonic program of American administrations and their ally Israel. For example, in 1978 Israel and Egypt signed an accord at Camp David under prodding by then-president Jimmy Carter in return for billions of dollars in annual military aid from America’s taxpayers. With the two countries putting aside their historic differences, Egypt was removed as an ally of the Palestinians in their struggle for an independent state on the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967, and in the Gaza Strip, whose borders are controlled by Israel. Mubarak helped enforce the brutal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed in 2007. For that reason, Palestinians welcomed the dictator’s ouster and the election of Morsi, and received the news of the coup against Morsi with apprehension.

But the coup — which the Obama administration was reluctant to identify as such — served U.S. government interests. Its alliance with Egypt’s military dictatorship shows the hypocrisy of Barack Obama’s paeans to freedom and self-government. Americans should be embarrassed.

 

Sheldon Richman is vice president of The Future of Freedom Foundation and editor of FFF’s monthly journal, Future of Freedom. For 15 years he was editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York. He is the author of FFF’s award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families; Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax; and Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State. 

Estados Unidos se apresta a sancionar con una multa récord al banco francés más importante por sus relaciones comerciales con Cuba y otros países bajo embargo. Ello, en flagrante violación con el Derecho Internacional y de la soberanía de Francia.

Tras sancionar al banco Crédit Suisse con una multa récord de 2,6 millones de dólares en mayo de 2014, Estados Unidos prevé sancionar al banco francés BNP Paribas con una multa de 10.000 millones de dólares y una supresión temporal de su licencia bancaria en su territorio. Washington reprocha a la entidad financiera realizar transacciones en dólares – moneda usada en los intercambios internacionales – con países bajo embargo, particularmente Cuba, entre 2002 y 2009.

En efecto, Cuba es víctima de un estado de sitio económico desde hace más de medio siglo, el cual afecta todos los sectores de la sociedad y a las categorías más vulnerables de la población, a saber, los niños, las mujeres y los ancianos. Además de prohibir todo comercio bilateral con escasas excepciones entre la isla del Caribe y Estados Unidos, las sanciones económicas impuestas en 1960 disponen de un carácter extraterritorial y constituyen un obstáculo al desarrollo de las relaciones comerciales y financieras de Cuba con el resto del mundo.

No obstante, según el Derecho Internacional, está terminantemente prohibido aplicar de modo extraterritorial una legislación nacional. La ley francesa no puede aplicarse en Alemania y la ley brasileña no puede aplicarse en Argentina. Ahora bien, la legislación estadounidense sobre las sanciones económicas contra Cuba (y otros países bajo embargo) se aplica en todo el mundo y afecta a BNP Paribas.

Según la legislación francesa y el Derecho Internacional, BNP Paribas no ha cometido ninguna irregularidad. El establecimiento financiero siendo un banco francés, no tiene que someterse de ningún modo a la ley estadounidense, en nombre de un principio fundamental del derecho internacional que es la no extraterritorialidad de las leyes. La legislación estadounidense sólo puede aplicarse en el territorio nacional y no puede cruzar las fronteras. Por otra parte, las transacciones citadas por Washington se realizaron a partir de subsidiarias de la BPN Paribas de Europa y no de Estados Unidos.

Christian Noyer, gobernador del Banco de Francia, fue claro al respecto: “Hemos verificado que todas las transacciones incriminadas estaban conformes a las reglas, leyes, reglamentaciones, a niveles europeo y francés”. No hay “ninguna contravención de esas reglas, ni de las reglas de las Naciones Unidas” por parte de BNP Paribas.[1]

BNP Paribas ya fue obligada a despedir a los responsables implicados en esos intercambios litigiosos para las autoridades estadounidenses y prevé negociar una sanción menos severa usando el proceso del reconocimiento de culpabilidad, aunque no se ha cometido ninguna falta.[2]

En cambio, la posición oficial de Francia es sumamente preocupante. En efecto, en vez de defender los intereses de una gran empresa que no cometió ningún delito según la legislación nacional y el derecho internacional, el gobierno del Presidente François Hollande aceptó el punto de vista estadounidense reconociendo la “infracción cometida” y sólo se contenta con denunciar el “carácter desproporcionado de las sanciones previstas”. En vez de defender la soberanía nacional y condenar la aplicación extraterritorial e ilegal de la ley estadounidense contra los intereses fundamentales de la nación, París se limita a implorar un castigo menos severo. Al plegarse tan dócilmente a las órdenes de Washington, Francia renuncia a su independencia y empaña durablemente su imagen en la escena internacional.[3]

Salim Lamrani

 

Docteur ès Etudes Ibériques et Latino-américaines de l’Université Paris IV-Sorbonne, Salim Lamrani est Maître de conférences à l’Université de La Réunion, et journaliste, spécialiste des relations entre Cuba et les Etats-Unis.

Son nouvel ouvrage s’intitule Cuba. Les médias face au défi de l’impartialité, Paris, Editions Estrella, 2013 et comporte une préface d’Eduardo Galeano.

http://www.amazon.fr/Cuba-m%C3%A9dias-face-d%C3%A9fi-limpartialit%C3%A9/dp/2953128433/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376731937&sr=1-1

Contacto : [email protected] ; [email protected]

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[1] Les Echos, « Les Etats-Unis font monter la pression sur BNP Paribas », 29 mai 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Le Monde, « Sanctions contre BNP Paribas : Paris met le traité de libre-échange dans la balance », 5 juin 2014.

Depois de sancionar o banco Credit Suisse com uma multa recorde de 2,6 milhões de dólares em maio de 2014, os Estados Unidos preveem sancionar o banco francês BNP Paribas com uma multa de 10 bilhões de dólares e a supressão temporária de sua licença bancária em seu território. Washington reprova a entidade financeira por realizar transações em dólares – moeda usada nas operações internacionais – com países sob embargo econômico, particularmente Cuba, entre 2002 e 2009.

Segundo a lei francesa e o direito internacional, o BNP Paribas não cometeu nenhuma irregularidade

De fato, Cuba é vítima de um estado de sítio econômico há mais de meio século, o qual afeta todos os setores da sociedade e as categorias mais vulneráveis da população, ou seja, as crianças, as mulheres e os idosos. Além de proibir todo o comércio bilateral, com escassas exceções, entre a ilha do Caribe e os EUA, as sanções econômicas impostas em 1960 dispõem de um caráter extraterritorial e constituem um obstáculo para o desenvolvimento das relações comerciais e financeiras de Cuba com o restante do mundo.

Entretanto, segundo o direito internacional, está terminantemente proibido aplicar de modo extraterritorial uma lei nacional. A lei francesa não pode ser aplicada na Alemanha e a lei brasileira não pode ser aplicada na Argentina. Contudo, a lei estadunidense sobre as sanções econômicas contra Cuba (e outros países sob embargo econômico) é aplicada em todo o mundo e afeta o BNP Paribas.

O estabelecimento financeiro, sendo um banco francês, não tem de se submeter de forma alguma à lei estadunidense, em nome de um princípio fundamental do direito internacional que é a extraterritorialidade das leis. A lei estadunidense somente pode ser aplicada no território nacional e não pode cruzar fronteiras. Por outro lado, as transações citadas por Washington foram realizadas a partir de subsidiárias da BNP Paribas da Europa e dos EUA.

Christian Noyer, governador do Banco da França, foi claro a respeito: “Verificamos que todas as transações incriminadas estavam dentro das regras, leis e regulamentações em nível europeu e francês”. Não há “nenhuma contravenção dessas regras, nem das regras das Nações Unidos”, por parte do BNP Paribas. 1

O BNP Paribas já foi obrigado a despedir os responsáveis implicados nessas transações litigiosas pelas autoridades estadunidenses e prevê negociar uma sanção menos severa usando o processo de reconhecimento de culpabilidade, ainda que não tenha cometido falta alguma. 2

Por sua vez, a posição oficial da França é extremamente preocupante. De fato, em vez de defender os interesses de uma grande empresa que não cometeu nenhum delito segundo a legislação internacional, o governo do presidente François Hollande aceitou o ponto de vista estadunidense reconhecendo a “infração cometida” e somente se contenta em denunciar o “caráter desproporcional das sanções previstas”. Em vez de defender a soberania nacional e condenar a aplicação extraterritorial e ilegal da lei estadunidense contra os interesses fundamentais da nação, Paris se limita a implorar um castigo menos severo. Ao se curvar tão docilmente às ordens de Washington, a França renuncia à sua independência e imprime uma mancha duradoura à sua imagem no cenário internacional. 3

Salim Lamrani

1. Les Echos, « Les Etats-Unis font monter la pression sur BNP Paribas », 29 de maio de 2014.
2. Ibid.
3. Le Monde, « Sanctions contre BNP Paribas : Paris met le traité de libre-échange dans la balance », 5 de junho de 2014.

 

 

Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos, Salim Lamrani é professor-titular da Universidade de la Reunión e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro se chama Cuba. Les médias face au défi de l’impartialité, Paris, Editions Estrella, 2013, com prólogo de Eduardo Galeano.

Contato: [email protected] ; [email protected]

Página no Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

Speaking in Paris Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a fresh ultimatum to the government of Russia, warning that it had to demonstrate “within hours” that it is acting to end the revolt in eastern Ukraine against the Western-installed government in Kiev or face the consequences.

“We are in full agreement that it is critical for Russia to show in the next hours, literally, that they are moving to help disarm the separatists,” Kerry said. He added that “the European Community will be meeting on their component of the sanctions. We all agree that they need to be ready.”

Kerry’s warning came in the context of a NATO foreign minister’s meeting that wrapped up in Brussels Thursday and a European Union summit scheduled for today in the Belgian city and World War I battle site of Ypres.

The US Secretary of State delivered his remarks alongside French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who was clearly acting on a somewhat different agenda, not to mention timetable. Fabius spoke of a “de-escalation” in Ukraine and of commitments that Russian President Vladimir Putin had made the day before in a four-way telephone conference that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. France, he said, hoped that Russia’s promises would be fulfilled “in the coming days.”

While Washington is manifestly seeking to ratchet up the confrontation with Russia, the Western European powers are showing somewhat less enthusiasm for such an escalation. Meanwhile, it is far from clear that there has been any “de-escalation” of the situation on the ground in Ukraine, which is turning into a major humanitarian crisis, largely ignored by Western governments and media.

A so-called ceasefire announced by Poroshenko last week has in practice functioned as an ultimatum to the forces that have declared themselves independent from the Kiev regime in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to lay down their arms or be “destroyed.”

The separatists in eastern Ukraine have reported continued attacks, including air strikes and artillery barrages against Slavyansk and other civilian population centers throughout the so-called ceasefire. Meanwhile, the Kiev regime has also reported troop losses, including nine soldiers killed in the downing of a military helicopter. Kerry charged Wednesday—with absolutely no evidence—that the weapon used to bring down the copter had been supplied by Russia, an accusation that Moscow denied.

Increasingly desperate conditions in the east and fear that the formal end of the ceasefire on Friday will spell a violent escalation of the US-backed government’s military offensive has sent a wave of refugees toward the Russian border.

“There are still lots of people in Slavyansk—moms, kids and elderly people,” an aid volunteer in Slavyansk told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. “They’ve run out of money as they haven’t received any for more than two months. The town has been left without water or electricity. There is no gas in some districts. Famine may break out soon. People should be evacuated.”

Residents of Slavyansk reported that families attempting to leave the city had been turned back at checkpoints manned by the National Guard, the ranks of which have filled in large measure with members of the Right Sector and other neo-fascist and extreme nationalist elements who spearheaded the Western-backed coup that ousted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February.

Nonetheless, the Associated Press reported, “Thousands of Ukrainians in cars stuffed with belongings lined up Thursday at the eastern border to cross into Russia, with some saying they felt betrayed by their government and vowing never to return.” Russia’s migration service reports that 90,000 Ukrainians had crossed the border seeking refuge since the fighting began.

Talks are to be held today between rebel leaders and representatives of the Ukrainian regime, Russia and the EU on a possible extension of the so-called ceasefire.

On Wednesday, the NATO ministers’ conference approved a package of additional military support for the Ukrainian regime that was said to include aid areas such as logistics, command and control and cyber defense. Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen voiced unqualified support for Kiev, declaring it had “a clear vision for rebuilding its defense and security sector and a clear strategy for resolving the crisis.”

For its part, Russia denounced the NATO move as a further provocation. NATO had set a “provocative course to build up Ukraine’s military potential which has been used, as we know, against civilians in the southeast of the country,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Thursday. “Under the pretext of the events in Ukraine, [they] are pushing for the escalation of military-political tensions near the Russian border,” she added.

The Russian government has taken a number of steps to defuse the confrontation, including the rescinding Wednesday of legislation passed in March granting Putin the power to intervene in eastern Ukraine in defense of its ethnic Russian population. The Putin government

has also pulled troops back from the border, recognized Poroshenko as Ukraine’s president and conducted talks with him on a so-called peace plan. Moscow’s climb-down is directed in large measure at protecting the interests of the country’s billionaire oligarchs, whose wealth is tied closely to the West. Nonetheless, Washington has shown no inclination to turn from a policy of confrontation with—and military pressure against—Moscow.

It seems unlikely that the European Union summit will decide on the kind of “sectoral sanctions” favored by Washington, which would target whole areas of the Russian economy such as energy, defense and finance. The EU does nearly 12 times as much business with Russia as the US and is dependent upon Russia for 30 percent of its gas. Any sweeping measures against the Russian economy could well throw the EU’s own economies into deeper crisis.

Citing American officials, the New York Times reported that even Washington has rejected “Iran-style sanctions” for fear of “disrupting global markets.” The Financial Times of London reported Thursday that, based on draft documents it had seen, the EU is preparing only to warn Moscow that it could face unspecified “targeted measures” if events in Ukraine merited them.

There have also been rumblings within the US corporate and financial establishment over the proposed sanctions. The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturing took out joint newspaper ads in the US press warning against “a course of sanctions that history shows hurts American interests’’ and “would harm American manufacturers and cost American jobs.’’

Particularly concerned are big energy conglomerates that are looking to Russia as a major source of profits. Companies like Exxon and Halliburton stand to lose out on lucrative contracts to European rivals such as Total and Schlumberger if the Obama administration were to impose unilateral sanctions.

Nonetheless, there are indications that the US ruling political establishment is prepared to press ahead with the confrontation with Russia, which Washington views as a significant obstacle to its drive to assert hegemony in Eurasia.

“There are times where our foreign policy interests trump individual mercantile interests, and now is one of those times,” Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican on the banking and foreign relations committees, told Bloomberg News.

On the sidelines of today’s EU summit, the Ukrainian regime is to sign the economic portion of an Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, which will effectively create a largely one-sided free trade zone, opening up the Ukrainian market to Western European goods under conditions in which there is virtually no market in Western Europe for Ukrainian products.

It was the backing away from signing such an accord by Yanucovych—who feared the social unrest that such a deal would unleash—that triggered the US and EU-orchestrated and fascist-spearheaded coup that ousted him from power.

Syria’s permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari criticized a statement of the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, describing it as “out of context”.

Al-Jaafari was speaking during a United Nations’ Security Council session to discuss the implementation of the Security Council resolution no.2139 on humanitarian aid delivery in Syria.

Al-Jaafari particularly lashed out at using the term “armed opposition” in the report to refer to organizations that the UN Security Council designated as terrorist groups, describing it as scandalous.

Prior to Dr. al-Jaafari’s speech, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs had submitted a report in which she said “armed opposition” groups targeted infrastructures and destroyed facilities in Syria in a spate of attacks against civilians that have increased recently.

He said the report is full of “dangerous fallacies and gaps” that, he said “border on the scandalous.”

Al-Jaafari called into question the real intentions behind using the term which, he affirmed, was not “an unintended slip of the tongue or pen,” as the UN Secretary-General’s official spokesman has been using it despite “numerous official letters we addressed to the United Nations Secretariat.”

Al-Jaafari urged Amos to “call a spade a spade”, questioning the real motives as to why her report would stop short of calling these groups by their real names.

Syria’s permanent representative to the UN expressed bewilderment at the “magnified and exaggerated” numbers of the needy in Syria compared to previous reports, saying that their numbers have jumped out of the blue, according to the report, to become 10.8 million, up by one and a half million from the previous reports.

Al-Jafari indicated the Syrian government has notified the resident coordinator of the UN activities in Syria about its dissatisfaction over the way senior UN officials have come up with “astronomical, surreal and unverified” figures about the humanitarian situation in Syria which, he said, raises doubts about the real intensions behind it.

Al-Jaafari hit out at the report for touching on the issue of presidential elections in Syria. “Those who prepared the report have exceeded their humanitarian mandate by speaking about presidential vote, which has nothing to do with resolution no. 2139,” he said.

Syria’s UN representative lambasted as a glaring paradox the failure of the report to provide verified information about the presence of non-Syrian fighters and their activities in Syria despite hundreds of letters that the Syrian government has sent to the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council, not to mention many western reports and statements in this regard.

The report, furthermore, ignores the root cause behind the worsening humanitarian situation in Syria which is, al-Jaafari said the emergence and rising terrorist activities.

“Terrorist groups have targeted civilian areas, displaced the locals, destroyed infrastructures and damaged the states’ service institutions,” he said, citing a need to address terrorism as being the root cause of humanitarian crisis in some hot spots in Syria.

Instead of questioning the presence of foreign terrorists and the workability of the Syrian government’s tackling of humanitarian needs, al-Jaafari said the report should have clearly named the countries supporting terrorism, including Israel, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The fact that the report has refrained from mentioning that some countries had imposed illegal unilateral measures against the Syrian people is yet another paradox which, he went on to say, exposed the double standards of some UN secretariat’s officials.

Al-Jaafari said some countries which feign care for the Syrian people have chosen to pump large amounts of money to finance arms deals with terrorists and facilitate the entrance of terrorists to Syria that, he said, should have been otherwise dispended to finance the cash-strapped 2014 humanitarian response plan.

He  defended the Syrian government’s efforts as it is responsible for the bulk of humanitarian aid distributed in Syria by 75 percent of the distributed aid.

“We find it reprehensible that the report ignored the primary reason behind a worsening of humanitarian situation in Syria, which is the stepped-up terrorist attacks,” al-Jaafari said, affirming that handling the crisis in Syria cannot be done through humanitarian assistance only, citing instead a pressing need to tackle the root cause of the problem being “foreign-backed terrorism.”

Syria’s permanent representative to the UN said the Syrian government has facilitated the access of UN organizations to some hard-to-teach areas, namely Aleppo, Idleb and Damascus countryside, an approach, he said, the Syrian government is committed to pursue for easing the humanitarian crisis of the Syrian people.

Al-Jaafari welcomed a UN positive role in delivering humanitarian assistance in Syria. “But,” he added, “we decisively reject using the UN for settling scores with certain states.”

Syria’s representative concluded by stressing that the Syrian government is fully committed to its duties and responsibilities to ease the humanitarian burden on the Syrian people and willing to leave no stone unturned for that end, provided that these efforts do not breach Syrian laws and sovereignty.

Americans are told that we live in a “post-9/11 reality” that requires mass surveillance.

But the NSA was already conducting mass surveillance prior to 9/11 … including surveillance on the 9/11 hijackers.

And top security experts – including the highest-level government officials and the top university experts – say that mass surveillance actually increases terrorism and hurts security. And they say that our government failed to stop the Boston bombing because they were too busy spying on millions of innocent Americans instead of focusing on actual bad guys.

So why is the government conducting mass surveillance on the American people?

5,000 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent

For thousands of years, tyrants have spied on their own people in order to crush dissent.

Keith Laidler – a PhD anthropologist, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a past member of the Scientific Exploration Society – explains:

The rise of city states and empires … meant that each needed to know not only the disposition and morale of their enemy, but also the loyalty and general sentiment of their own population.

The Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence and Security notes:

Espionage is one of the oldest, and most well documented, political and military arts. The rise of the great ancient civilizations, beginning 6,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, begat institutions and persons devoted to the security and preservation of their ruling regimes.

***

Early Egyptian pharos [some 5,000 years ago] employed agents of espionage to ferret-out disloyal subject and to locate tribes that could be conquered and enslaved.

***

The Roman Empire possessed a fondness for the practice of political espionage. Spies engaged in both foreign and domestic political operations, gauging the political climate of the Empire and surrounding lands by eavesdropping in the Forum or in public market spaces. Several ancient accounts, especially those of the A.D. first century, mention the presence of a secret police force, the frumentarii . By the third century, Roman authors noted the pervasiveness and excessive censorship of the secret police forces, likening them to an authoritative force or an occupational army.

The BBC notes:

In the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church was more powerful than most governments – and it had a powerful surveillance network to match.

French Bishop Bernard Gui was a noted author and one of the leading architects of the Inquisition in the late 13th and early 14th Centuries. For 15 years, he served as head inquisitor of Toulouse, where he convicted more than 900 individuals of heresy.

A noted author and historian, Gui was best known for the Conduct of the Inquisition into Heretical Depravity, written in 1323-24, in which he outlined the means for identifying, interrogating and punishing heretics.

The U.S. Supreme Court noted in Stanford v. Texas (1965):

While the Fourth Amendment [of the U.S. Constitution] was most immediately the product of contemporary revulsion against a regime of writs of assistance, its roots go far deeper. Its adoption in the Constitution of this new Nation reflected the culmination in England a few years earlier of a struggle against oppression which had endured for centuries. The story of that struggle has been fully chronicled in the pages of this Court’s reports, and it would be a needless exercise in pedantry to review again the detailed history of the use of general warrants as instruments of oppression from the time of the Tudors, through the Star Chamber, the Long Parliament, the Restoration, and beyond.

What is significant to note is that this history is largely a history of conflict between the Crown and the press. It was in enforcing the laws licensing the publication of literature and, later, in prosecutions for seditious libel, that general warrants were systematically used in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. In Tudor England, officers of the Crown were given roving commissions to search where they pleased in order to suppress and destroy the literature of dissent, both Catholic and Puritan. In later years, warrants were sometimes more specific in content, but they typically authorized of all persons connected of the premises of all persons connected with the publication of a particular libel, or the arrest and seizure of all the papers of a named person thought to be connected with a libel.

By “libel”, the court is referring to a critique of the British government which the King or his ministers didn’t like … they would label such criticism “libel” and then seize all of the author’s papers.

The Supreme Court provided interesting historical details in the case of Marcus v. Search Warrant(1961):

The use by government of the power of search and seizure as an adjunct to a system for the suppression of objectionable publications … was a principal instrument for the enforcement of the Tudor licensing system. The Stationers’ Company was incorporated in 1557 to help implement that system, and was empowered

“to make search whenever it shall please them in any place, shop, house, chamber, or building or any printer, binder or bookseller whatever within our kingdom of England or the dominions of the same of or for any books or things printed, or to be printed, and to seize, take hold, burn, or turn to the proper use of the aforesaid community, all and several those books and things which are or shall be printed contrary to the form of any statute, act, or proclamation, made or to be made. . . .

An order of counsel confirmed and expanded the Company’s power in 1566, and the Star Chamber reaffirmed it in 1586 by a decree

“That it shall be lawful for the wardens of the said Company for the time being or any two of the said Company thereto deputed by the said wardens, to make search in all workhouses, shops, warehouses of printers, booksellers, bookbinders, or where they shall have reasonable cause of suspicion, and all books [etc.] . . . contrary to . . . these present ordinances to stay and take to her Majesty’s use. . . . ”

Books thus seized were taken to Stationers’ Hall where they were inspected by ecclesiastical officers, who decided whether they should be burnt. These powers were exercised under the Tudor censorship to suppress both Catholic and Puritan dissenting literature.

Each succeeding regime during turbulent Seventeenth Century England used the search and seizure power to suppress publications. James I commissioned the ecclesiastical judges comprising the Court of High Commission

“to enquire and search for . . . all heretical, schismatical and seditious books, libels, and writings, and all other books, pamphlets and portraitures offensive to the state or set forth without sufficient and lawful authority in that behalf, . . . and the same books [etc.] and their printing presses themselves likewise to seize and so to order and dispose of them . . . as they may not after serve or be employed for any such unlawful use. . . .”

The Star Chamber decree of 1637, reenacting the requirement that all books be licensed, continued the broad powers of the Stationers’ Company to enforce the licensing laws. During the political overturn of the 1640′s, Parliament on several occasions asserted the necessity of a broad search and seizure power to control printing. Thus, an order of 1648 gave power to the searchers

“to search in any house or place where there is just cause of suspicion that Presses are kept and employed in the printing of Scandalous and lying Pamphlets, . . . [and] to seize such scandalous and lying pamphlets as they find upon search. . . .”

The Restoration brought a new licensing act in 1662. Under its authority, “messengers of the press” operated under the secretaries of state, who issued executive warrants for the seizure of persons and papers. These warrants, while sometimes specific in content, often gave the most general discretionary authority. For example, a warrant to Roger L’Estrange, the Surveyor of the Press, empowered him to “seize all seditious books and libels and to apprehend the authors, contrivers, printers, publishers, and dispersers of them,” and to

“search any house, shop, printing room, chamber, warehouse, etc. for seditious, scandalous or unlicensed pictures, books, or papers, to bring away or deface the same, and the letter press, taking away all the copies. . . .]”

***

Although increasingly attacked, the licensing system was continued in effect for a time even after the Revolution of 1688, and executive warrants continued to issue for the search for and seizure of offending books. The Stationers’ Company was also ordered

“to make often and diligent searches in all such places you or any of you shall know or have any probable reason to suspect, and to seize all unlicensed, scandalous books and pamphlets. . . .”

And even when the device of prosecution for seditious libel replaced licensing as the principal governmental control of the press, it too was enforced with the aid of general warrants — authorizing either the arrest of all persons connected with the publication of a particular libel and the search of their premises or the seizure of all the papers of a named person alleged to be connected with the publication of a libel.

And see this.

General warrants were largely declared illegal in Britain in 1765. But the British continued to use general warrants in the American colonies. In fact, the Revolutionary War was largely launched to stop the use of general warrants in the colonies. King George gave various excuses of why general warrants were needed for the public good, of course … but such excuses were all hollow.

The New York Review of Books notes that the American government did not start to conduct mass surveillance against the American people until long after the Revolutionary War ended … but once started, the purpose was to crush dissent:

In the United States, political spying by the federal government began in the early part of the twentieth century, with the creation of the Bureau of Investigation in the Department of Justice on July 1, 1908. In more than one sense, the new agency was a descendant of the surveillance practices developed in France a century earlier, since it was initiated by US Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte, a great nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, who created it during a Congressional recess. Its establishment was denounced by Congressman Walter Smith of Iowa, who argued that “No general system of spying upon and espionage of the people, such as has prevailed in Russia, in France under the Empire, and at one time in Ireland, should be allowed to grow up.”

Nonetheless, the new Bureau became deeply engaged in political surveillance during World War I when federal authorities sought to gather information on those opposing American entry into the war and those opposing the draft. As a result of this surveillance, many hundreds of people were prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Sedition Act for the peaceful expression of opinion about the war and the draft.

But it was during the Vietnam War that political surveillance in the United States reached its peak. Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and, to an even greater extent, Richard Nixon, there was a systematic effort by various agencies, including the United States Army, to gather information on those involved in anti-war protests. Millions of Americans took part in such protests and the federal government—as well as many state and local agencies—gathered enormous amounts of information on them. Here are just three of the numerous examples of political surveillance in that era:

  • In the 1960s in Rochester, New York, the local police department launched Operation SAFE (Scout Awareness for Emergency). It involved twenty thousand boy scouts living in the vicinity of Rochester. They got identification cards marked with their thumb prints. On the cards were the telephone numbers of the local police and the FBI. The scouts participating in the program were given a list of suspicious activities that they were to report.
  • In 1969, the FBI learned that one of the sponsors of an anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC, was a New York City-based organization, the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade Committee, that chartered buses to take protesters to the event. The FBI visited the bank where the organization maintained its account to get photocopies of the checks written to reserve places on the buses and, thereby, to identify participants in the demonstration. One of the other federal agencies given the information by the FBI was the Internal Revenue Service.

***

The National Security Agency was involved in the domestic political surveillance of that era as well. Decades before the Internet, under the direction of President Nixon, the NSA made arrangements with the major communications firms of the time such as RCA Global and Western Union to obtain copies of telegrams. When the matter came before the courts, the Nixon Administration argued that the president had inherent authority to protect the country against subversion. In a unanimous decision in 1972, however, the US Supreme Court rejected the claim that the president had the authority to disregard the requirement of the Fourth Amendment for a judicial warrant.

***

Much of the political surveillance of the 1960s and the 1970s and of the period going back to World War I consisted in efforts to identifyorganizations that were critical of government policies, or that were proponents of various causes the government didn’t like, and to gather information on their adherents. It was not always clear how this information was used. As best it is possible to establish, the main use was to block some of those who were identified with certain causes from obtaining public employment or some kinds of private employment. Those who were victimized in this way rarely discovered the reason they had been excluded.

Efforts to protect civil liberties during that era eventually led to the destruction of many of these records, sometimes after those whose activities were monitored were given an opportunity to examine them. In many cases, this prevented surveillance records from being used to harm those who were spied on. Yet great vigilance by organizations such as the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought a large number of court cases challenging political surveillance, was required to safeguard rights. The collection of data concerning the activities of US citizens did not take place for benign purposes.

***

Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a program known as COINTELPRO, for Counter Intelligence Program. Its purpose was to interfere with the activities of the organizations and individuals who were its targets or, in the words of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” them. The first target was the Communist Party of the United States, but subsequent targets ranged from the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference to organizations espousing women’s rights to right wing organizations such as the National States Rights Party.

A well-known example of COINTELPRO was the FBI’s planting in 1964 of false documents about William Albertson, a long-time Communist Party official, that persuaded the Communist Party that Albertson was an FBI informant. Amid major publicity, Albertson was expelled from the party, lost all his friends, and was fired from his job. Until his death in an automobile accident in 1972, he tried to prove that he was not a snitch, but the case was not resolved until 1989, when the FBI agreed to payAlbertson’s widow $170,000 to settle her lawsuit against the government.

COINTELPRO was eventually halted by J. Edgar Hoover after activists broke into a small FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, in 1971, and released stolen documents about the program to the press. The lesson of COINTELPRO is that any government agency that is able to gather information through political surveillance will be tempted to use that information. After a time, the passive accumulation of data may seem insufficient and it may be used aggressively. This may take place long after the information is initially collected and may involve officials who had nothing to do with the original decision to engage in surveillance.

The East German Stasi obviously used mass surveillance to crush dissent and keep it’s officials in check(and falsely claimed that spying was necessary to protect people against vague threats.)

In 1972, the CIA director .

During the Vietnam war, the NSA spied on Senator Frank Church because of his criticism of the Vietnam War. The NSA also spied on Senator Howard Baker.

Senator Church – the head of a congressional committee investigating Cointelpro – warned in 1975:

[NSA's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

This is, in fact, what’s happened …

Initially, American constitutional law experts say that the NSA is doing exactly the same thing to the American people today which King George did to the Colonists … using “general warrant” type spying.

And it is clear that the government is using its massive spy programs in order to track those who question government policies. See thisthisthis and this.

Todd Gitlin – chair of the PhD program in communications at Columbia University, and a professor of journalism and sociology – notes:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) has unearthed documents showing that, in 2011 and 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies were busy surveilling and worrying about a good number of Occupy groups — during the very time that they were missing actual warnings about actual terrorist actions.

From its beginnings, the Occupy movement was of considerable interest to the DHS, the FBI, and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, while true terrorists were slipping past the nets they cast in the wrong places. In the fall of 2011, the DHS specifically asked its regional affiliates to report on “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations, in addition to reporting on domestic terrorist acts and ‘significant criminal activity.’”

Aware that Occupy was overwhelmingly peaceful, the federally funded Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), one of 77 coordination centers known generically as “fusion centers,” was busy monitoring Occupy Boston daily. As the investigative journalist Michael Isikoff recently reported, they were not only tracking Occupy-related Facebook pages and websites but “writing reports on the movement’s potential impact on ‘commercial and financial sector assets.’”

It was in this period that the FBI received the second of two Russian police warnings about the extremist Islamist activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the future Boston Marathon bomber. That city’s police commissioner later testified that the federal authorities did not pass any information at all about the Tsarnaev brothers on to him, though there’s no point in letting the Boston police off the hook either. The ACLU has uncovered documents showing that, during the same period, they were paying close attention to the internal workings of…Code Pink and Veterans for Peace.

***

In Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, intelligence was not only pooled among public law enforcement agencies, but shared with private corporations — and vice versa.

Nationally, in 2011, the FBI and DHS were, in the words of Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, “treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.” Last December using FOIA, PCJF obtained 112 pages of documents (heavily redacted) revealing a good deal of evidence for what might otherwise seem like an outlandish charge: that federal authorities were, in Verheyden-Hilliard’s words, “functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.” Consider these examples from PCJF’s summary of federal agencies working directly not only with local authorities but on behalf of the private sector:

• “As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldn’t start for another month. By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest.”

• “The FBI in Albany and the Syracuse Joint Terrorism Task Force disseminated information to… [22] campus police officials… A representative of the State University of New York at Oswego contacted the FBI for information on the OWS protests and reported to the FBI on the SUNY-Oswego Occupy encampment made up of students and professors.”

• An entity called the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector,” sent around information regarding Occupy protests at West Coast ports [on Nov. 2, 2011] to “raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.” The DSAC report contained “a ‘handling notice’ that the information is ‘meant for use primarily within the corporate security community. Such messages shall not be released in either written or oral form to the media, the general public or other personnel…’ Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) reported to DSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor.”

• DSAC gave tips to its corporate clients on “civil unrest,” which it defined as running the gamut from “small, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrations and rioting.” ***

• The FBI in Anchorage, Jacksonville, Tampa, Richmond, Memphis, Milwaukee, and Birmingham also gathered information and briefed local officials on wholly peaceful Occupy activities.

• In Jackson, Mississippi, FBI agents “attended a meeting with the Bank Security Group in Biloxi, MS with multiple private banks and the Biloxi Police Department, in which they discussed an announced protest for ‘National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day’ on December 7, 2011.” Also in Jackson, “the Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a ‘Counterterrorism Preparedness’ alert” that, despite heavy redactions, notes the need to ‘document…the Occupy Wall Street Movement.’”

***

In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee learned … that the Tennessee Fusion Center was “highlighting on its website map of ‘Terrorism Events and Other Suspicious Activity’ a recent ACLU-TN letter to school superintendents. The letter encourages schools to be supportive of all religious beliefs during the holiday season.”

***

Consider an “intelligence report” from the North Central Texas fusion center, which in a 2009 “Prevention Awareness Bulletin” described, in the ACLU’s words, “a purportedconspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, a former U.S. Congresswoman, the U.S. Treasury Department, and hip hop bands to spread tolerance in the United States, which would ‘provide an environment for terrorist organizations to flourish.’”

***

And those Virginia and Texas fusion centers were hardly alone in expanding the definition of “terrorist” to fit just about anyone who might oppose government policies. According to a 2010 report in the Los Angeles Times, the Justice Department Inspector General found that “FBI agents improperly opened investigations into Greenpeace and several other domestic advocacy groups after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and put the names of some of their members on terrorist watch lists based on evidence that turned out to be ‘factually weak.’” The Inspector General called “troubling” what the Los Angeles Times described as “singling out some of the domestic groups for investigations that lasted up to five years, and were extended ‘without adequate basis.’

Subsequently, the FBI continued to maintain investigative files on groups like Greenpeace, the Catholic Worker, and the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, cases where (in the politely put words of the Inspector General’s report) “there was little indication of any possible federal crimes… In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘acts of terrorism’ classification.”

***

In Pittsburgh, on the day after Thanksgiving 2002 (“a slow work day” in the Justice Department Inspector General’s estimation), a rookie FBI agent was outfitted with a camera, sent to an antiwar rally, and told to look for terrorism suspects. The “possibility that any useful information would result from this make-work assignment was remote,” the report added drily.

“The agent was unable to identify any terrorism subjects at the event, but he photographed a woman in order to have something to show his supervisor. He told us he had spoken to a woman leafletter at the rally who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, and that she was probably the person he photographed.”

The sequel was not quite so droll. The Inspector General found that FBI officials, including their chief lawyer in Pittsburgh, manufactured postdated “routing slips” and the rest of a phony paper trail to justify this surveillance retroactively.

Moreover, at least one fusion center has involved military intelligence in civilian law enforcement. In 2009, a military operative from Fort Lewis, Washington, worked undercover collecting information on peace groups in the Northwest. In fact, he helped run the Port Militarization Resistance group’s Listserv. Once uncovered, he told activists there were others doing similar work in the Army. How much the military spies on American citizens is unknown and, at the moment at least, unknowable.

Do we hear an echo from the abyss of the counterintelligence programs of the 1960s and 1970s, when FBI memos — I have some in my own heavily redacted files obtained through an FOIA request — were routinely copied to military intelligence units? Then, too, military intelligence operatives spied on activists who violated no laws, were not suspected of violating laws, and had they violated laws, would not have been under military jurisdiction in any case. During those years, more than 1,500 Army intelligence agents in plain clothes were spying, undercover, on domestic political groups (according to Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics, 1967-70, an unpublished dissertation by former Army intelligence captain Christopher H. Pyle). They posed as students, sometimes growing long hair and beards for the purpose, or as reporters and camera crews. They recorded speeches and conversations on concealed tape recorders. The Army lied about their purposes, claiming they were interested solely in “civil disturbance planning.”

Mass surveillance is also being conducted to stop peaceful boycotts.

Glenn Greenwald notes that the list of people targeted for mass surveillance by the American government have included:

  • “Anyone who uses online tools to promote political ideals”
  • Those who express “radical” ideas
  • “Americans opposed to the Iraq war, including Quakers and student groups“
  • “Non-violent protesters”
  • “Political opponents”
  • “Environmental activists, broad swaths of anti-government rightwing groups, anti-war activists, and associations organised around Palestinian rights
  • “Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, … environmentalists”
  • “The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, black nationalist movements, socialist and communist organizations, … and various rightwing groups”

And the head of the NSA’s digital communications surveillance program, a high-level NSA executive, theNSA whistleblower who was the source of the New York Times’ groundbreaking expose on spying andEdward Snowden have all said that NSA spying is about crushing dissent … not protecting us from terrorists.

A Key Characteristic of Fascism

Naomi Wolf notes that mass surveillance is one of the 10 key characteristics of fascism:

In Mussolini’s Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China – in every closed society – secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours.

***

In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about “national security”; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.

The Constitution Society points out:

The methods used to overthrow a constitutional order and establish a tyranny are well-known.

***

Internal spying and surveillance is the beginning. A sign is false prosecutions of their leaders

Glenn Greenwald writes:

“Doing something wrong” in the eyes of [authoritarian] institutions encompasses far more than illegal acts, violent behaviour and terrorist plots. It typically extends tomeaningful dissent and any genuine challenge. It is the nature of authority to equate dissent with wrongdoing, or at least with a threat.

Even the quintessential defender of the status quo for the powers-that-be – Cass Sunstein – notes that benevolent rulers don’t need to spy on their own people like tyrants do:

As a general rule, tyrants, far more than democratic rulers, need guns, ammunition, spies, and police officers. Their decrees will rarely be self-implementing. Terror is required.

Note: For ease of reading, we deleted the footnotes from the two Supreme Court opinions.

This article was published by the UN Observer and Global Research on November 9, 2007.

“God seems to have left the receiver off the hook – and time is running out.” Arthur Koestler, “Astride the Two Cultures”

Iraq is now threatened with a flood of biblical proportions. The Mosul dam, thirty miles north of Iraq’s ancient third city is likely to burst, due to the mismanagement and potential fraud relating to the $27 million “donated” by the United States for its repair, according to a Report by Stuart Bowen, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, released on Tuesday, 30th October.

In September 2006, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) stated: “In terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world …. If a small problem (at) Mosul Dam occurs, failure is likely.” The dam is the largest in Iraq and the fourth largest in the Middle East. Were the dam breached, the ACE estimate that Mosul city (2002 population 1.7 million) would be engulfed in a wall of water twenty metres (sixty six feet) high, which would flood all in its path down to Baghdad. In May this year, General David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker, wrote to “Prime Minister” Nuri Maliki, urging him to make the repair of the dam a “national priority”. Maliki’s U.S., puppet, corruption ridden, government is playing down the dangers – it is thought to avoid causing panic – and next to nothing has been done by way of action.

The Mosul region in Nineveh province, has been continually inhabited for eight thousand years and incorporates the ancient city of Nineveh, named after the god Nina and was capitol of the Assyrian empire, built around 3,700 BC. Jewellery, combs and the “oldest dice know to history”, have been found there.* The region and people’s stretch back to Mesopotamia’s dawn. Mosul is known variously as “The city of two springs” (Um Al-Rabi’ain); Autumn and Spring being so similar, when the fertile land nearby is carpeted with anemones, periwinkles, wild tulips and a vibrant tapestry of flora. It is also called Al-Faiha, (The Paradise) Al-Khadra (The Green) and The Pearl of the North. Al-Mosul means “The Linking Point”. It was long on history’s “Silk Road” from China to the West and now is connected by road to Syria (of whose capitol, Damascus, the Prophet, legend has it, turned his face from, saying: “No one should enter Paradise twice.”) and Iran (Persia) and Turkey, “Gateway to the Orient”.

Mosul is also known as “God’s City” and “City of the Prophets”, reflecting the wealth of places of worship and of Saints and Prophets believed lived and buried here. The Mosque of the resting place of the Prophet Jerjis, was last renovated in 1393 AD., its eye-wateringly beautiful reliefs and its marble body were described by the explorer Ibn Jubair, in the 12th century. The Mujadidi Mosque, with its beautiful dome, dates back to the 12th century. The Prophet Jonah is believed buried in the mosque which bears his name, rising over Nineveh’s ruins, where, it is said, a tooth of the whale who so tried him, is also hidden. Muslims and Christians alike paid homage here. Pre-invasion, the area teemed with vendors of everything from souvenirs to falafel and tiny glasses of cardamon flavoured coffee, hand-made artefacts – and families picnicked on the grassy slopes below, in the mosque’s shadow, after school, taking photographs of a favourite day out.

The Great Mosque (known as the Nurid Mosque) was built in A.D. 1172, by Nuriddin Zangi. It is famed for its fifty two metre high, bent minaret, which towers above the trees; Iraq’s leaning tower of Pisa, with its exquisitely patterned brick work and also named Al-Hadra – “The Humped”. The Mashad (shrine) of Yabya Abdul Kassem is another 13th century gem, with conical dome, brickwork a delicate art form and calligraphy fashioned in blue Mosul marble. It has stood over eight hundred years on the bank of the Tigris, surviving and being even revered by Mesopotamia’s occupiers. Will it survive Bush, Blair and Brown’s “Christian soldiers” and their useless puppets?

Ancient churches include the 13th century Church of Simon Peter and that of Saint Thomas, thought to be from the same era. Saint Benham’s Monastery (also called Deir al-Jubb – the Cistern Monastery) on the Nineveh Plain, where Nimrud flourished, also dates to the 12th or 13th century. A unique place of pilgrimage, as written of before in these columns, is the 4th century AD., Monastery of Saint Matthew, where he is believed buried and has eternal healing powers, where the sick are brought and laid by his tomb, in a tiny chancel, as candles are lit and prayers said – by all religious denominations.

But as the 13th century Black Palace, whose remains include the delicate arched twin entrances, surrounded by brickwork wondrously minute and fine, these are “modern” buildings.

Nineveh’s walls still stand, testimony to architectural genius pre-dating Christ and the Prophet. In 619-626 B.C., Assur-bani-pal made the city the centre of the civilised world and filled it with gardens, orchards and imported rare trees. This was possible because before him, the ruler Sennacherib had brought water in an eighty km., canal and built a dam for water regulation. Unlike the present incompetents, the engineers of yesteryear also knew how to control it.

Nineveh’s walls – so far – remain, testimony to their expertise.

The remains of Sennacherib’s palace also still exist, with seventy-one chambers and halls and twenty-seven entrances, guarded by winged bulls and lions. The bas-reliefs on the walls were removed and taken to the British Museum, in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

Mesopotamia has suffered uniquely in the rape of her heritage, at the hands of invaders.

The second capitol of the region was Nimrud, where between 858-824 B.C., Shalmaneser III, constructed a ziggurat, similar to the great Malwiya of Samarra, now damaged as the result of U.S. soldiers using it as a snipers’ eyrie. Unspeakable sacrilege – and a war crime under the Hague Convention.

Shalmaneser’s creations also included the Temple of Ninurta. From Nimrud too, wonders look out across the millennia. the ivory head of a beauty, from 720 B.C., known as the “Mona Lisa of Nimrud”. One building is the Temple of Nadu, God of Wisdom, Arts and Sciences (built sometime between 810-782 B.C.) As all Iraq, gems from the womb of history, abound, too numerous to mention.

Now, as the vandalism since 2003 continues, all are in danger of being swept away, with half a million souls, who have already suffered so unimaginably from the actions of America and Britain.

Mosul is where muslin, that most delicate of fabrics, was created. It is a region where the delicacy of all – architecture, ancient and modern, traditional dishes, dress, antiques, jewellery – strikes the visitor. A favourite hotel has the most delicate of fountains, a wonder to behold, in the reception area. The staff laughed, as I could never resist running my hand under the cool lace, that its patterns created. “It represents the eternality of the Tigris, Madam”, I was told.

Under the West’s watch, the revered Tigris now – potentially – threatens all in its path.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is reportedly sending fifty thousand playing cards to troops (what is it about the Pentagon and playing cards?) with pictures of archaeological sites and tips as to how to protect them. (Tip from planet Earth: Don’t build bases on them; don’t drop bombs on or near them; don’t use them to fire from. Guard them, don’t loot them – and above all, treat them as the fragile, precious jewels that are the wondrous history of civilisation itself – utterly sacred.)

There is one imponderable. During the 1991 Gulf war, U.S. ally Turkey, reduced the flow of the Tigris by over fifty percent, from its own dams, at source, causing severe damage to agriculture. In Mosul the great river was so depleted that lorries drove in to collect silt and it was sometimes so low it could be near waded across. As a temporary measure, why cannot Turkey be asked to do this again, the lesser of the evils, taking to weight of millions of gallons, off the ailing Mosul Dam until a solution can be found.

Further, why are the U.S., and U.K. Engineering Corps unable to solve the problem, when under Saddam Hussein, even under the restrictions on materials under the embargo, had no such problems?

I put the questions to the (U.K.) Ministry of Defence (“Is Mosul in the north of Iraq?” they asked) who then said queries should be addressed to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, whose spokesman said that the Iraqi government seemed to: “…have taken a view that it may not be as bad as reported”. Were they to make a request for help, it would, of course be considered. No urgency then – and protection of the population and history is incumbent, in international law, on the occupying forces.

Also sanguine, is Iraq’s “Minister” of Water Resources, Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid, who said on Wednesday 7th November, that the ACE assessment of the Dam was: “exaggerated and swelled …”

So, a people and a region of historic treasure, lauded through time and poetry ( Kipling: “At one with Neneveh and Tyre”; Masefield: “Quinquireme of Nineveh, from distant Ophir …”) seems set, short of a miracle, to be left to Fate.

The region hosts the shrine of the Old Testament prophet Nahum, “Nahum the Elkoshite”, in the Bible. He foretold the fall of Nineveh: “… their nobles shall lay in the dust. Nineveh laid waste, who is going to pity her?” Not, it seems, the new crusaders and their puppets.

“The legacy of Iraq is unassailable, legendary, glorious, immortal”, wrote Henrietta McCall. Now to be another “Paradise Lost”?

Notes

* The indispensable “From Sumer to Saddam”, Geoff Simons, Macmillan.1994.
http://www.amazon.com/Iraq-Sumer-Saddam-Geoff-Simons/dp/1403917701

Astride the Two Cultures: Arthur Koestler at 70
http://www.alibris.com/search/books/qwork/470972/
used/Astride%20the%20Two%20Cultures:%20Arthur%20Koestler%20at%2070

Please also see “Iraq – The Bradt Travel Guide”, Karen Dabrowska, 2002.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Iraq-Bradt-Travel-Karen-Dabrowska/dp/1841620270

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger’s award-winning documentary, “Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq”. http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partID=4  and author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of “Baghdad” in the “Great Cities” series, for World Almanac Books (2006.)

http://www.amazon.com/Baghdad-Great-Cities-World-Nikki/dp/0836850491/sr=1-5/qid=1171018142/ref=sr_1_5/105-9176229-7042804?ie=UTF8&s=books

Washington’s official Ukraine narrative has been that it was all Vladimir Putin’s fault, that the Russian president staged the crisis to restore the Russian empire, a storyline that never made sense and is now being rearranged to explain why Putin is seeking peace.

It’s always interesting when the New York Times promotes a false narrative – as it has on Ukraine by blaming the crisis all on “Russian aggression” – and then has to shift its storyline when events move in a different direction, like President Vladimir Putin’s recent peacemaking initiatives.

On Thursday, the Times explained Putin’s call for an extended ceasefire as a case of him caving in to U.S. pressure. Correspondents Andrew Roth and David S. Herszenhorn wrote:

“Faced with the threat of additional economic sanctions from Washington, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia discussed an extension of the cease-fire, which is to expire on Friday, in a telephone call with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President François Hollande of France and Ukraine’s new president, Petro O. Poroshenko.”

The article then continued the tough-guy, ultimatum-threatening chest-pounding that has become de rigueurfor the State Department and the mainstream U.S. news media. The Times article noted:

“The Obama administration has drawn up plans to escalate sanctions against Russia if it does not back the current peace plan by halting the flow of weapons and fighters across the Russian border. The sanctions could target some of Russia’s largest banks, or energy and defense firms.”

The Times also reported, without skepticism, the unverified allegations that the Russian government is supplying heavy weapons to the eastern Ukrainian separatists who rebelled after violent protests by western Ukrainians ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22.

The U.S. government has repeatedly made allegations about “Russian aggression” in eastern Ukraine but has failed to present any verifiable proof to support the claims. One State Department attempt, which involved getting the Times to run a lead article citing photos purportedly proving that Russian military personnel were operating in Ukraine, collapsed under scrutiny and was later retracted by the Times.

Nevertheless, the Times still conveys the State Department’s claims without noting the absence of evidence, itself evidence of the Times’ unstinting bias in its coverage of the Ukraine crisis. For instance, the Times reported:

“On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry began a news conference at NATO in Brussels by calling for Mr. Putin ‘to stop the flow of weapons and fighters across the border.’ Mr. Kerry said that the missile launcher that brought down the [Ukrainian military] helicopter on Tuesday was Russian-made and urged Mr. Putin to call for separatist forces to lay down their arms. A senior administration official said Friday that several tanks under rebel possession had come from Russia.”

Normally, when one party in a dispute makes an allegation and fails to provide meaningful evidence to support it, news organizations add something like: “However, the claim could not be independently verified” or the Times might have noted that “similar claims by the State Department in the past have proven to be false.”

But the Times simply can’t seem to deviate from its four-month display of an extraordinary lack of balance, which brings us back to the Times’ attempt to explain Putin’s peacemaking as a development that could only be explained as him caving in to U.S. pressure. [For more on the Times’ bias, see Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT’s One-Sided Ukraine Narrative.” For more on Herszenhorn’s bias, see “Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass.”]

Putin’s Thinking

There is, of course, an alternative explanation for Putin’s recent behavior: that he never sought the Ukraine crisis and surely did not plan it; it resulted, in part, from U.S. and European provocations designed to put Putin in a corner in his own corner of the world; Putin reacted to this Western maneuver but was always willing to compromise as long as the end result was not a strategic threat to Russia.

I’m told that Putin, like many historic Russian leaders, has wanted to see Russia accepted as a member of the First World and took personal pride in helping President Barack Obama defuse crises in Syria and Iran last year. Arguably, it was Putin’s assistance on those crises that made him a target of Washington’s still influential neocons who had hoped instead for U.S. bombing campaigns against Syria and Iran.

By late September 2013 – on the heels of Obama rejecting plans to bomb Syria – leading neocons, such as National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, identified Ukraine as a key piece on the chessboard to checkmate Putin. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

The Ukraine crisis really emerged from the European Union’s offer of an association agreement that President Yanukovych was initially inclined to accept. But it was accompanied by harsh austerity demands from the International Monetary Fund, which would have made the hard life for the average Ukrainian even harder.

Because of those IMF demands and a more generous $15 billion loan offer from Russia, Yanukovych backed away from the EU association, angering many western Ukrainians and creating an opening for U.S. neocons, such as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain, to urge on protests to unseat Yanukovych.

In February, as the Ukraine crisis worsened, Putin was preoccupied with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but he went along with a compromise plan on Feb. 21 in which Yanukovych agreed to reduced powers and early elections (so he could be voted out of office) as well as to pull back the police. That opened the way for violent attacks by neo-Nazi militias who overran government buildings on Feb. 22 and forced Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives.

With the U.S. State Department endorsing the coup as “legitimate,” a right-wing government quickly took shape under the leadership of Nuland’s hand-picked prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Four ministries were given to the neo-Nazis in appreciation of their key role in the coup, including the appointment of Andriy Parubiy as chief of national security.

The new regime immediately displayed hostility toward the ethnic Russians in the east and south, including sending wealthy “oligarchs” to serve as the new regional governors and dispatching neo-Nazi militias – reconstituted as the National Guard – to crackdown on dissent.

The regional government of Crimea, a longtime part of Russia and home of the Russian naval base at Sevastopol, organized a referendum to secede from Ukraine and to rejoin Russia, a move supported by Putin and aided by the thousands of Russian troops already in Crimea under a basing agreement with Ukraine.

Crimea’s secession was treated by the mainstream U.S. media as a Russian “invasion” and an act of “aggression,” though the reunification with Russia clearly had overwhelming support from the people of Crimea as expressed in the referendum and in opinion polls.

Still, across Official Washington, the narrative took hold that Putin had ginned up the Ukraine crisis so he could seize territory and begin to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. Right-wing and neocon pundits raised the specter of Putin attacking the Baltic states. The U.S. news media lost all perspective on the actual events in Ukraine.

The reality was that Putin was reacting to a Western provocation on his border, a coup d’etat to pry Ukraine away from its traditional relationship with its neighbor Russia and into the embrace of the European Union and NATO. Putin himself noted the threat to Russian national security if NATO’s nuclear-missile-bearing ships were berthed in Sevastopol.

From the beginning, Putin hoped to resolve this crisis through discussions with his erstwhile collaborator, Barack Obama, but – with the U.S. media in a frenzy demonizing Putin – Obama would not even come to the phone at first, I’m told. Afraid of being called “weak,” Obama followed the lead of the State Department’s hawks who were lusting for Cold War II.

Gradually, with Europe’s fragile economic recovery at risk if Russia’s natural gas supplies were disrupted, cooler heads began to prevail. Obama eventually took Putin’s phone calls and the two met face-to-face during the ceremonies around the 70th anniversary of D-Day in France. Putin also viewed chocolate manufacturer Petro Poroshenko as a reasonable choice to fill the slot of Ukraine’s new president.

Poroshenko and Putin found common ground in their desire to deescalate the crisis although neither leader has been able to fully control the hardliners, not Poroshenko in trying to rein in the Right Sektor which has taken a lead role in killing ethnic Russians in Odessa and other cities, nor Putin in convincing the separatists that they have a future in the post-coup Ukraine.

But Putin continues to signal support for Poroshenko’s stated intent to respect the rights of eastern Ukrainians by offering more self-rule and respecting their use of Russian as an official language. In a sign of good faith, Putin has even sought to rescind the permission from the Russian legislature to intervene militarily to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine.

However, these developments created a dilemma for the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream U.S. news media. If the Ukraine crisis had been just an excuse for Putin to seize territory and revive the “Russian empire,” why would he be so eager to work out a peaceful settlement? The opposite should be true. If the MSM had it right, Putin would be escalating the crisis.

So, we now have this new version: Yes, Putin precipitated the Ukraine crisis so he could conquer Eastern Europe. But he backed down because of tough talk from Official Washington (including on the MSM’s op-ed pages). In other words, the MSM had it right but tough-guy-ism and the threat of sanctions scared Putin into retreat.

That this analysis makes little sense – since it was the European Union that was most unnerved by the prospects of U.S.-driven sanctions disrupting Russia’s natural gas supplies and plunging the Continent into a recessionary relapse – was of little regard to the U.S. press corps. The new false narrative was simply a necessary way to cover for the old false narrative.

It could never be acknowledged that the New York Times and the other esteemed U.S. journals had gotten another major international story wrong, that another “group think” had led the MSM down another rabbit hole of mistakes and misunderstanding. Instead, all that was needed was some creative tinkering with the storyline.

 

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). 

Kiev Is Starting a War to Avoid a Revolution

June 27th, 2014 by Olga Shedrova

Despite its peaceful declarations, Kiev is gradually transitioning from massacring civilians and bombing Donbas cities to direct provocations on the Russian border and attacks on diplomatic missions of the Russian Federation. In international practice, such actions are an incitement to war. But Kiev does not have the slightest chance of winning a military conflict with Russia. What is prompting Poroshenko to embark on this scheme?

While the Kiev junta is waging war against its own people in the Southeast, throughout the country protests are growing due to a catastrophic drop in the standard of living of the populace. An increase in all utility rates is coming July 1. In particular, gas prices for the population of Ukraine will go up by 55-70%; hot water and heating by 40%; electricity by 10-40%, depending on consumption volumes; and centralized water supply and sewage by 78-96%. The greatest increase is expected in Kiev, where on July 1 the price of hot water for Kievans will increase by almost 70% and the price of centralized heating will increase by almost 60%.  And this is only the first stage of price increases for utilities, which will continue to grow incrementally until 2017. According to First Deputy Head of the Budget Committee of the Verkhovna Rada Oksana Kaletnik, in 2015 utility rates will increase by 40%, and in 2016 and 2017 by another 20% per year. The veracity of these figures is dubious, since as of May 1, 2014, for example, the public was paying only 24% of the actual costs for production, transmission and delivery of electricity.

At the same time, the IMF is demanding a rise in rates for the public “to an economically justified level”, that is, total elimination of the system of state subsidies in the utilities field. Given that even now the total debt of the population of Kiev, the richest city in Ukraine, is approaching $80 million, the new rates will be completely unbearable for Ukrainians. And this threatens a real disaster for all vital services systems. Its scale can by estimated judged according to the fact that currently, even before the rate hike, the company Kievenergo is cutting off hot water supplies to 754 apartment buildings in connection with critical indebtedness, and electricity cutoffs have begun in the Pechersk, Holosiiv and Shevchenko districts of the city. Meanwhile, winter is approaching. With the stoppage of supplies of Russian gas, the government is declaring an energy emergency, which could result in frozen residential buildings and hospitals.

But that’s not all. As a result of a drop in the exchange rate of the national currency and an agricultural crisis in the country, some food products now cost twice as much, and medications 60-70% as much. These are the figures officially acknowledged by Minister of Finance A. Shlapak. In fact, consumers are noticing that the price of some imported medications has doubled or tripled.

At the same time, as Ukrainian Prime Minister A. Yatsenyuk has stated, the government will freeze the amount of the minimum wage and the poverty line. According to the conclusions of the authoritative Razumkov Centre,

“the freezing of pay raises, pensions and social benefits is connected with the fact that the economy in Ukraine is not working. A decline can be observed, both in industry and in other areas… In such a situation neither Ukrainian businesses nor the state budget have the resources to raise wages in order to support the population. This year real income and real wages are decreasing, which is creating an additional social problem in the country.”

Furthermore, the government is stubbornly spreading rumors that workers in the public sector and public servants will lose all bonuses. And although that bill has for now been removed from the parliament’s agenda, in some regions public sector employees have already lost the bonuses they are entitled to by law. For example, instructors and librarians in Nova Kakhovka (Kherson region) lost a 50% salary uplift, and teachers in Berdyansk (Zaporozhye region) only avoided a pay cut by threatening to strike. Since March 1, 2014 bonuses for continuous service and exemplary execution of duties, amounting to around 40% of salary, were discontinued for public sector employees.

If bonuses are in fact discontinued, the salary of library workers, for example, will be a little over 1,000 hryvnias ($83) per month, for doctors 1200 hryvnias ($100), and for municipal civil servants 1500 hryvnias ($125). But the average utility bill will reach 1100 hryvnias.

The situation is no better in the production sector. “We have been told that starting June 1 the work week will be four days, that is, we will lose 1,000 hryvnias from our salaries,” said a source in the accounting department of the Dneprospetsstal plant in Zaporozhye. The workers of Azovmash in Mariupol are being put on unpaid leave. Ukrainian Member of Parliament Yuri Shapoval has reported that in Kremenchug production has almost completely come to a halt, since the Russian market, which was the main consumer for Kremenchug’s products, has been lost. There remain only tourism, real estate and wholesale trading.

People are simply being deprived of all chances for survival. According to a survey on the employment portal HeadHunter, 54% of men and 58% of women systematically cannot “make it to payday”. One out of five experiences financial difficulties at least once every 3 months, and only 20% of men and 11% of women say that payday is not critical for them.

Yatsenyuk’s government does not conceal the fact that this kind of “price genocide” is being conducted in Ukraine on the demand of the IMF and completely copies the austerity measures in the European Union, with which Ukraine plans to sign an association agreement on June 27. In a speech in parliament, Yatsenyuk noted that the size of social benefits and public sector salaries need to be reduced as was done in Greece and Italy. I don’t think it needs to be recounted how that ended in Greece and Italy.

While depriving its citizens of their last piece of bread, the government has no trouble finding the funds for a war against its own people. According to expert estimates, one day of the so-called anti-terrorist operations being conducted by the Ukrainian military in the southeast of the country costs around $3 million. If military action intensifies, this amount will increase. It also must be considered that the men who have been drafted into the armed forces or joined the ranks of the private punitive armies are excluded from the economic life of the country, which clearly will not help the Ukrainian budget to recover. Furthermore, massive casualties among the Ukrainian military and horrible service conditions have already sparked mass protests in the western regions of Ukraine, which are most loyal to the Kiev junta. The mothers and wives of Ukrainian soldiers are blocking international highways in the Rovno, Ternopol, Lvov and Khmelnitsky regions. It is highly likely that the furious women will march on Kiev if their loved ones do not return from the army soon.

One cannot but welcome the peace talks which have begun in Donetsk under the aegis of Russia and the OSCE. But one also cannot ignore the fact that time is working against the Kiev junta, making an economic disaster in the country inevitable. That is why a war with Russia, making it possible to blame the total failure of the current government on “Moscow’s aggression”, is vital for the junta. This explains the provocations on the border and the ceasefire which does not reflect the actual situation, as the intensity of the battles is only increasing.

Whether or not Kiev has given up the tactic of inciting a war will become apparent from its position at the Donetsk talks.

Portuguese Hearing of the World Tribunal on Iraq

June 27th, 2014 by BRussells Tribunal

Based on independent social media and the testimony of Iraqis living inside and outside Iraq, the Portuguese Iraq Tribunal reports the following information:

1. The military success of the insurrection and the collapse of the armed forces of the government of Nuri al-Maliki prove that the Iraqi population is fed up with the regime. The general sentiment is that “nothing could be worse than what we have.” Lacking support, the regime has reached a breaking point.

2. The struggle has the participation of different organizations and political forces. Both in the combats and in the governments of the liberated cities, the action has been coordinated by a Revolutionary Military Council made up of former Iraqi officers, young revolutionaries and tribal members.

3. The participation in the movement of the Ba’ath Party, the Revolutionary Brigades of 1920, the military leaders of the former Iraqi armed forces, the Islamic organizations of resistance belie the exclusive role that the western political media has given to organizations like the ISIL-ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). This distortion of the facts, quickly repeated by the social media, is aimed at making it easier to neutralize public opinion with the charge that what is going on is a “terrorist” movement and thus justify a military intervention with troops or for indiscriminate bombings carried out by the regime installed in Baghdad.

4. The targets of the insurrection are clear: the government and all of the power structure led by Maliki, who is the heir of the political system imposed by the U.S. occupation – and, along with this, the domination exercised by U.S. imperialism and the influences of all external forces that have been involved in the Iraqi conflict.

5. The insurrection underway has a nationalist and patriotic character. The last communiqué of the Revolutionary Military Council (June 14) specified the following objectives of the popular uprising:

– To restore justice and not to seek revenge. All settling of accounts must be done according to the law and through a fair trial.

– To respect neighboring states and their sovereignty.
– To end the sectarianism and political repression that the occupation implanted. — To begin a constitutional process that will represent all Iraqis. ”

6. Eyewitness reports from the liberated cities reveal that the population is participating in the organization of daily life. There is no news of massacres or acts of revenge. The presence of non-Iraqi forces is insignificant. Barriers to the movement of people have been removed. The population that fled at the beginning of the insurrection, especially from Mosul, is now returning home. Its major worry is that the Maliki government or the U.S. military will respond with bombing raids, as was done in Fallujah and Ramadi.

7. Different organizations, both religious and secular, have declared support for the revolt and called up the population and on the combatants to maintain unity, reject sectarian actions and treat the population of the liberated cities with extreme care in order that “these cities become a model that others wish to emulate” (open letter from the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq).

The events of the last few days were only surprising by the lightning-like nature of the military actions of the insurgents. But they are not stunning if one takes into account the extent of the suffering of the Iraqi population in the last 10 years and the resistance that has opposed the occupation and the barbarous regime that followed it. What is happening now is the culmination of the armed resistance of 2003-2006, the mass demonstrations of 2011, the generalized protests of 2012-2013 repressed by the regime with live gunfire. And it answers the miserable living conditions, the arbitrary massacres and the theft of the national resources. In these 10 years conditions matured for an enormous change within Iraq.

So writes Patrick Cockburn, the veteran Middle East correspondent for the Independent in London. A fierce critic of the US-British War on Iraq he is now urging the US and Iran to collaborate in stopping the ISIS or ISIL forces that are sweeping through Iraq, a country he loves more than any of the despotic politicians who have run it now or then.

The American media has taken up the cry—not for cooperation with Iran that has heartily denounced the latest round of US intervention in the country it warred with for seven years—but with lurid coverage of the force at first labeled “terrorists,” and now ”insurgents or just “militants.” The difference is that ISIS/ISIL seizes and holds territory operating like an army, not hit and run faction.

It is said to be connected to Al Qaeda but we don’t know how or if Qaeda still exists. Separating truth from propaganda has never been more difficult.

Even as ISIS portrays itself more as a corporation than a gang of brigands, all we see or hear about in our media are bloody killings and beheadings as if savagery is uniquely to be found in the Islamic world.

Never mind the reporting of the McClatchy newspapers explaining that

“The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria sprang from a largely self-funded, corporation-style prototype…The militant group Baghdadi inherited had in place a sophisticated bureaucracy that was almost obsessive about record-keeping. Its middle-managers detailed, for example, the number of wives and children each fighter had, to gauge compensation rates upon death or capture, and listed expenditures in neat Excel spreadsheets that noted payments to an “assassination platoon” and “Al Mustafa Explosives Company.”

Too bad, our corporations don’t disclose, much less quantify, the metrics of the negative social impacts they cause, and what that costs society or the world.

The more lurid the reporting on the butchery now underway, the more we forget the one million plus dead as a result of the 2003 US invasion and occupation or how state violence inevitably inspires a violence of resistance. It is a violence that anti-colonial theorists like Franz Fanon approved of in his “The Wretched of the Earth,” because of he believed it has a positive psychological impact on the oppressed.

Selective reporting on the atrocities of the other side always emboldens a sense of righteousness, even as our counter-violence assumes the form of less visible and far more deadly ‘shock and aweful’ airpower, or the use of weapons with nuclear materials like depleted uranium.

Throughout this war, there have been few reports on U.S. war crimes in our controlled media with its history of loyal embeds and patriotic correctness.

No one in the mainstream media here has reminded us of the US torturers of Abu Ghraib prison or the counter terror campaigns we waged against towns like Fallujah and the people we demonized as “bad guys.”

It may also be time revisit our own baggage, by going deeper into our own history, the history before the imperial era and the U.S. invasions of The Philippines, Haiti and Vietnam.

Pick up a copy of the latest edition of the NY Review of Books to read about the unspeakable crimes that Americans imposed on each other during the civil war, supposedly the war for freedom against slavery.

Civil war expert James M. McPherson tells us about professional historian Michael C.C. Adam’s new book, Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War (Johns Hopkins University Press.) It is an American story of gore, not glory in which black solders who surrender are slaughtered and POWs on both sides perish in unspeakably horrific prison camps on both sides.

“The guerrilla warfare that wracked parts of the South and the border states,” notes McPherson, “was especially vicious, sometimes featuring ‘the burning alive of enemy civilians thrown into flaming buildings as well as random torturing and killing accompanied by grisly trophies including ears, genitals, scalps.” Rape and plunder was pervasive, justified as the “spoils” of war. (Adams wrote an earlier book with similar evidence in a dissection of the myth of World War 11. See his, The Best War Ever: America and World War 11, 2004.)

The point here is not to rationalize ISIS brutality, but to take the luster off US hypocrisy, to make the old point about who is calling the kettle black? In our faith in American “exceptionalism,” recently re-enunciated by President Obama, most of our media and educators ignore crimes committed but rarely acknowledged in our name.

Our failure to demand or take part in a truth and reconciliation process in Iraq not only makes us culpable, but assured the spectacle that we are seeing.  In fact, according to journalist Dahr Jamail, US policymakers systematically pursued divide and conquer policies reinforcing a Sunni/Shia divide.

To complain now that Iraq President al Maliki is not representative of all communities there is a disgrace, especially after President Obama and his predecessor hailed our great victory in Iraq. Al Makiki was pushed into prominence by a former U.S. Ambassador.

Saddam Hussein and his era suddenly looks far better than the legacy of our war for “Iraqi Freedom.”

Who helped create and fund ISIS? Is Rand Paul correct in suggesting the US played a role? What role was played by our “allies,” the Kuwaitis, Saudis and Qataris? Shouldn’t the media try to find out?  Why are ordinary Iraqis telling reporters that they prefer ISIS to the brutal Iraqi Army, even welcoming them in some areas as liberators.

When did “we” know about ISIS attack plans? According the Telegraph in London as relayed by VICE news:

“…Kurdish sources tipped off US and UK intelligence agencies about ISIS plans five months ago. Apparently, a plan to seize northern Iraqi cities and move on Baghdad had been in the works for months. The Telegraph quotes a senior Kurdish intelligence official as saying “We had this information then, and we passed it on to your [British] government and the US government. We used our official liaisons. “We knew exactly what strategy they were going to use, we knew the military planners. It fell on deaf ears.”

Why are ISIS people saying they welcome US air strikes because they will once again demonstrate Washington’s complicity with the hated al-Maliki dictatorship? (Their forces are apparently well dispersed to neutralize the effectiveness of targeted bombing.)

Does anyone remember the media hype around “democratic elections” in Iraq with all those voters with purple inked fingers waving them aloft for the cameras? Were those elections free and fair? Apparently not!

Those fraudulent exercises only postponed the inevitable counter-push that may not prevail but will leave Iraq even more devastated, if not dismembered.

Israel is cheering on the country’s break-up now that Kurdish oil is flowing to Tel Aviv’s pipelines. Oil is once again at the center of this conflict everywhere but in the media.

Not surprisingly, Israeli commentators like Isi Leibler who writes in Israel Hayom (“This is Where We Stand”), “Our Adversaries are inhuman barbarians.”

He argues, “The major problem today is that the international community denies the barbaric nature of Islamic fundamentalism … the whole region is a scorpions’ den of barbaric activity.”

Bear in mind that the term “barbarian” is commonly used to refer to the “uncivilized.” It is always a reference to “the others,’ the never quite humans we demonize and stereotype before seeking to kill.

And now, the Iranians are said to be moving militarily to support Shia groups using drones they built on our designs, and shipping weapons to the border so this conflict promises to escalate into a regional war.

Significantly, at the same time, the organizers of a film festival in Iran are calling attention to an anniversary: the shooting down of the (civilian) Iran air flight 655 by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes on July 3, 1988. The US never apologized for the incident and the ship’s commanders won recognition.

To recognize the anniversary The Ammar Popular Film Festival has prepared some posters with a brief summary of the crimes they say US governments have committed against humanity:

USA crimes Against American: http://en.ammarfilm.ir/gall.php?id=36
USA crimes against Iranian: http://en.ammarfilm.ir/gall.php?id=37
USA crimes in the world: http://en.ammarfilm.ir/gall.php?id=38

Once you see them, you realize how the past is never past, and that hatred of past crimes, in the absence of power sharing through negotiations and justice for war criminals, easily turns into fuel for future ones.

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at Newsdissector.net and works on Mediachannel.org.  He has directed a film and written two books on media complicity in the Iraq War. Comments to dissector at mediachannel.org.

“Poverty and income inequality, Scott, are shaping up to be key issues, not just here in the capital this year but at the White House as well.”

——Reporter Nancy Cordes to anchor Scott Pelley (CBS Evening News, 1/8/14)

With poverty at 15 percent, inequality rising and Republican politicians talking about addressing the problem by cutting federal programs that help the poor, one might expect poverty to occupy a solid spot on media agendas.

This isn’t the case, according to a new FAIR study of nightly network news shows. The study looked at ABC World News, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News for a 14-month period (1/1/13– 2/28/14) in the wake of the 2012 elections. FAIR examined stories in the Nexis news database that included and discussed the terms “poverty,” “low income,” “food stamps,” “welfare” or “homeless.” (Stories that included only passing mentions of these terms, without even a minimal discussion, were excluded.)

Jeff Bezos on NBC News

Image: Billionaires like to own media “because they believe in quality work and a robust press,” NBC informed viewers.

A total of 23 such segments were found, three of which were “rip and read” briefs, anchor-read stories containing no sources. The other pieces included a total of 54 sources, less than half of which—22—were people personally affected by poverty. That means, on average, someone affected by poverty appeared on any nightly news show only once every 20 days.

By comparison, over the same period the network news shows aired almost four times as many stories, 82, that included the term “billionaire.” There are 482 billionaires in the US, compared to nearly 50 million living in poverty, according to Census standards, which some scholars say greatly undercount the poor (Extra!, 9/12).

Stories on the rich often painted them in a favorable light. NBC Nightly News (8/5/13) aired a story about the recent trend of billionaires, including Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos, buying up newspapers—in “many cases,” anchor Brian Williams explained, “because they believe in quality work and a robust press.”

ABC World News (1/26/14) aired a story on billionaire Tom Perkins’ claim that there’s a war against the rich in the US. In the piece, Perkins compared criticism of the wealthy to Kristallnacht, the murderous 1938 Nazi rampage against German Jews.

An average of just 2.7 seconds per 22-minute nightly news program was devoted to segments where poverty was mentioned. This overstates the coverage, as many of these segments were not primarily about poverty, but included only a brief discussion of the subject. For instance, in a 130-second CBS Evening News segment about Congress passing a bill to get air traffic controllers furloughed by the sequester back to work, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Mary-land) was quoted in an 14-second soundbite criticizing the narrowness of the bill:

Seventy thousand children will be kicked out of Head Start. Nothing in this bill deals with them. Four million fewer Meals on Wheels for WIC. Six hundred thousand people dropped off WIC, nothing in here for them.

CBS Evening News featured the most segments discussing poverty, with 12, followed by NBC with eight. Throughout 2013, NBC featured a poverty-focused feature called “In Plain Sight,” underwritten by the Ford Foundation*, that accounted for five of the network’s eight poverty segments. (Much of the feature’s content was online-only.) ABC discussed poverty in just three stories in the 14-month period—a rate of one story every 20 weeks.

NBC News reports on a food bank.

Image: NBC’s “In Plain Sight” went to a food bank in Lincoln, Nebraska. “It takes a lot of time and effort to be poor,” said one client.

The depth of coverage varied widely, from some relatively long and informative segments that shed light on conditions and remedies, to segments that were almost uselessly brief or even dismissive.

For instance, a 150-second NBC Nightly News “In Plain Sight” segment (11/1/13), long by nightly news standards, featured reporter Mike Taibbi examining how the expiration of a food stamp subsidy affected three families in dire economic straits.

Contrast that with an awkward, 40-word “rip and read” by ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer (2/4/14), who seemed to minimize the $8 billion in cuts to the EBT program (better known as the food stamp program) included in the recently passed Farm Bill:

After a two-year fight today, the Senate passed a farm bill which cuts $8 billion from the food stamp program. But that’s far less than the $40 billion Republicans wanted to cut. And the president is expected to sign this bill.

In a longer segment that included some of those affected, it would have been harder to look on the bright side of an $8 billion cut in food aid.

Of 54 sources, nine were politicians, two were academics/experts, seven were public interest advocates and four were volunteers. Three were clergy members working at food pantries. As noted, less than half, 22, were sources affected by poverty. Twenty-five of all sources were women, including 11 of the sources affected by poverty.

Thirty-nine of the 54 sources, or 72 percent, were white, 12 were black and three were Latino. Of the sources affected by poverty, 13 were white, six were black and two were Latino.

In 2007, FAIR (Extra!, 9/07) conducted a similar study, using the same search terms and parameters. The results show very little change. The recent study shows a tiny increase in the frequency of poverty stories: In 2007, there were 58 stories over the course of a 38-month study, for a rate of 1.5 poverty segments each month on the three networks combined. The current study shows 23 segments on the same shows over the course of 14 months, for a rate of 1.6 stories each month.

In 2007 (9/07), we quoted the Tyndall Report’s finding that there were just 2.5 seconds of poverty coverage in the average 22-minute nightly newscast in the months leading up to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. FAIR’s 2007 study looked at how well network news fulfilled the promise of television journalists like NBC’s Brian Williams, who, after witnessing the crucial role economic hardship played in the suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina and the government’s response to it, vowed to make an extra effort to pay attention to poverty (Extra!, 8/06).

According to the 2007 study, that effort resulted in the average nightly news increasing coverage slightly, to four seconds per newscast. FAIR’s current study shows that the coverage, at 2.7 seconds per nightly newscast, has nearly returned to its 2005 low point.

FAIR’s study (Extra!, 9/12) of how poverty was covered during the 2012 political campaign cited a dodge journalists occasionally employ to justify not covering a crucial issue: How can we pay attention to something politicians aren’t talking about? And it was true that the almost nonexistent coverage of poverty in the campaign corresponded with a failure of either major party to make poverty an issue.

That has not been the case during the period of the current study. While Democrats may have been silent, Republicans have attempted to make an issue of poverty, arguing for cutting federal poverty programs and transferring their funds to the states (CBS Evening News, 1/8/14). Now that politicians are talking about poverty, media have run out of excuses.

*Ford has provided grant money to FAIR.

Research assistance by Melanie Nakashian and Lane Wollerton.

Agricultural Pesticides Linked to Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders

June 27th, 2014 by Environmental Health Perspectives

The following text is the Abstract of a detailed scientific study by Environmental Health Perspectives

Read the full report here

Background: Gestational exposure to several common agricultural pesticides can induce developmental neurotoxicity in humans, and has been associated with developmental delay and autism.

Objectives: To evaluate whether residential proximity to agricultural pesticides during pregnancy is associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or developmental delay (DD) in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE) Study.

Methods: The CHARGE study is a population-based case-control study of ASD, developmental delay (DD), and typical development. For 970 participants, commercial pesticide application data from the California Pesticide Use Report (1997-2008) were linked to the addresses during pregnancy. Pounds of active ingredient applied for organophophates, organochlorines, pyrethroids, and carbamates were aggregated within 1.25km, 1.5km, and 1.75km buffer distances from the home. Multinomial logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) of exposure comparing confirmed cases of ASD (n = 486) or DD (n = 168) with typically developing referents (n = 316).

Results: Approximately one-third of CHARGE Study mothers lived, during pregnancy, within 1.5 km (just under one mile) of an agricultural pesticide application. Proximity to organophosphates at some point during gestation was associated with a 60% increased risk for ASD, higher for 3rd trimester exposures [OR = 2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) = (1.1, 3.6)], and 2nd trimester chlorpyrifos applications: OR = 3.3 [95% CI = (1.5, 7.4)]. Children of mothers residing near pyrethroid insecticide applications just prior to conception or during 3rd trimester were at greater risk for both ASD and DD, with OR’s ranging from 1.7 to 2.3. Risk for DD was increased in those near carbamate applications, but no specific vulnerable period was identified.

Conclusions: This study of ASD strengthens the evidence linking neurodevelopmental disorders with gestational pesticide exposures, and particularly, organophosphates and provides novel results of ASD and DD associations with, respectively, pyrethroids and carbamates.

Read the full report here

Tweet This! The ISIS Terrorists and Social Media

June 26th, 2014 by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

Few people, if any, would argue the existence of the ISIS terrorists.  Fewer still doubt the origins and motivation of the group.  Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said: “I think we have to understand first how we got here,” …..”I think one of the reasons why ISIS has been emboldened is because we have been arming their allies. We have been allied with ISIS in Syria.”   ISIS features prominently in every new outlet around the world – but what’s with the Twitter?

 Curiously, while the conflict in Syria has destroyed its infrastructure, amidst the bombing, fleeing, starvation, power cuts and fuel shortages, mainstream media would have us believe that ISIS has successfully set up shop in Syria to recruit “jihadist” using Google Chat, Skype, and Twitter (CNN).   Clearly, these terrorists are tech-savvy and know how to use in Twitter Digital Terrorism.

 In their study, Burson-Marsteller concluded that Twitter was ‘a powerful channel for digital diplomacy’ – but what of propaganda?  To borrow from President Eisenhower, surely, Twitter propaganda ‘has proved its right to a place of dignity in our military arsenal.’

Let us recall the role Twitter played in Iran’s 2009 presidential elections. While the mainstream media in the US hailed the success of “Twitter Revolution” in Iran, Wired Magazine  dispelled the notion in an aptly titled article “Iran: Before You Have That Twitter-Gasm…” pointing to the origins of the tweets (US) and their irregularity.  Elsewhere, it was revealed that much of the mischief behind the ‘newsfeed’ from Iran traced back to Israel.

Egypt was another example.  The Western media contributed to the success of the Egyptian revolution to social media, Facebook and Twitter, earning Google boy Wael Ghonim a glorious, albeit fleeting moment in history.   This narrative obfuscated America’s role in the uprisings. Freedom House had provided “advanced training on civic mobilization, strategic thinking, new media, advocacy and outreach“.   In 2010, Freedom House boasted of teaching new media tools to Egypt’s “hope”.

This much said, what is the purpose behind tweeting gruesome images of mass killings in Iraq; proposing that Westerners are being recruited, and in some cases, ‘ordered to go back to Britain’ to continue the ‘jihad’; prompting the British PM David Cameron to warn that ‘jihadist were planning to attack Britain’ (The Telegraph)? Regardless of where these tweets are being originated, one must surely wonder Cui bono?

To understand to whose benefit, we must look at the potential impact of these messages.  Without a doubt, the fear instilled by seeing images of these atrocities could break down or weaken resistance.  This is an old tactic using modern technology.   For example, during the Persian Gulf War of 1991, PSYOP units dropped over 29 million leaflets to encourage Iraqi soldiers to surrender, usually by stressing the inevitability of their defeat.   Estimates show that “nearly 98% of all Iraqi prisoners acknowledged having seen a leaflet; 88% said they believed the message; and 70% said the leaflets affected their decision to surrender.” Of the estimated 100,000 soldiers who deserted or surrendered, many were found carrying leaflets in their hands or carrying them in their clothes[i].  It is plausible that surrender is a motive behind these tweets.

Additionally, both fear-induced surrender and revenge could serve to draw in fighters to side with one group or another, lubricating the killing machine.   As importantly, if not more so, the tweets promoted by mainstream media are intended not only for Western audiences, but also as far and wide as the media’s reach takes it.   Accompanied by propagandist commentaries and language such as another 9/11 is upon us, the US (with help from some allies) has presented a justification for intervention and occupation of sovereign lands – a plan in the making for decades (see Terror in Iraq; Roots and Motivation).

 In all this, there is another prize.  The US-led countries that devastated Iraq, Libya, and Syria in the last decade alone have been harshly criticized for barring refugees from entering their country, even those Iraqi interpreters who helped the allied forces.    The ‘threat’ of “jihadists” going to Britain (France, Germany, or elsewhere) ensures that that door is slammed shut in the faces of those who escape from the mayhem created by the “free and civilized world” (with help from local allies).

It may well be that these tactics are not without some forethought. In 2006, Max Boot who was introduced to a gathering at the Milken Institute as one of the top 500 most influential people in the making of US foreign policy in America, addressed the matter of  ‘homebound terrorists’.  Using 21st century terminology ‘Jihadist’, he was referring to the 1859 invasion of Sudan by the British and the ease with which the crazy ‘jihadist Mahdi’ and his followers were gunned down without any fear of repercussion that the enemy – Sudanese who had been terrorized,  would follow them back to England.  In his view, these days, open borders posed a problem which could open the door to ‘enemy Jihadists’ retaliating.    Rest easy Max.  Twitter has solved the problem for you.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups in influencing US foreign policy.

Editor’s note: This story is one in a continuing series on Washington, D.C.’s information industry. The series seeks to illuminate the sometimes-misleading methods used by special interest groups to gain support for their agendas from government and average Americans.

When Arthur C. Brooks stepped on stage in December, the influential conservative’s mission was simple, yet ambitious: “If I do my job,” Brooks began his speech, “in the next few minutes I’m going to give you the secret to happiness.”

Standing before large block letters that spelled “H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S,” the charismatic president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, explained how genetics, major life events and choices all contribute to one’s well-being.

Brooks mentioned the importance of forging close relationships with family, promoted charitable giving and emphasized that “money doesn’t buy happiness.”

Nearing the end of his nearly 20-minute speech, Brooks said happiness also depends on … free markets?

“The earned-success system that brings you happiness is the system of free enterprise that lifts people out of poverty,” Brooks said. “Don’t work for the stateism, the collectivism that suppresses this,” he added. “Work for the free enterprise that makes this possible.”

Don’t worry, be happy

Proponents say the free market system encourages investment, stimulates innovation and increases efficiency. But according to Brooks, it also makes you happy and improves your well-being — even if you’re poor.

The message appears to be part of a new public relations initiative spearheaded by America’s most high-profile free-market advocates: Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who have built a powerful political empire based on libertarian principles.

Brooks, whose high-profile think tank receives Koch funding, was recently tapped to serve on the advisory board of the Charles Koch Institute’s “Well-Being Initiative,” which “aims to advance our understanding of the meaning, foundations, and drivers of human flourishing” through research, education and discussion.

The initiative may be billed as a way to explore well-being, but some critics of the Koch brothers are skeptical.

“The question needs to be: Whose well-being are we talking about?” asks Tony Carrk, a director at the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group that serves as a counterweight to the Koch brothers’ political operation. “The policies that the Koch brothers have promoted and put forward seem to only benefit those at the very top, at the expense of everyone else.”

Officials from the Charles Koch Institute did not respond to requests for comment.

The Kochs oversee a political ecosystem whose influence stretches far and wide — from think tanks and universities to trade associations and political action committees. As their public profile has risen, so too has criticism.

In January, Koch Industries, America’s second-largest privately held company, hired Steve Lombardo of global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller as “part of an effort by the Koch brothers to tell their story better,” according to Politico.

“Koch Industries is working to improve the daily life of people around the world,” he said, “and I look forward to working with the team to bring this story to the global marketplace.”

In May, Politico reported on a memo from the Koch brothers’ powerful political group Americans for Prosperity, which laid the groundwork for its future political operations.

“[W]e consistently see that Americans in general are concerned that free-market policy — and its advocates — benefit the rich and powerful more than the most vulnerable of society,” the memo read. “We must correct this misconception.”

Koch and the ‘true nature of well-being’

Charles Koch informally introduced the Well-Being Initiative in a January blog post titled, “The importance of well-being.”

“Through sound research, broad education and robust discussion, the Initiative aims to advance understanding of what it means to flourish, how to understand and measure the various aspects of well-being, and how to empower individuals to live better lives,” he wrote.

The Charles Koch Foundation, a separate nonprofit from Koch Institute and supporter of the Well-Being Initiative, recently posted on its website calls for research proposals, seeking “doctoral students interested in contributing to the academic exploration of the role free societies play in advancing human well-being and prosperity,” one proposal request states.

Before it recently underwent a redesign and many old links died, the Charles Koch Institute’s website had highlighted past well-being events and work published by Brooks and other board members dating back to last fall. It also linked to Brooks’ “Secret to Happiness” speech.

In December, Brooks published an op-ed in The New York Times titled, “A Formula for Happiness,” which mirrored his American Enterprise Institute speech. A few months later, in a Times op-ed about income inequality and what he referred to as the “rising sympathy for income redistribution,” he argued that there is “a strong link between economic envy and unhappiness.”

And in February, Brooks even managed to pull off the unthinkable: He got the Dalai Lama, a self-described socialist, to visit the American Enterprise Institute, which decries socialism.

The title of the panel discussion featuring the Tibetan leader: “Happiness, free enterprise, and human flourishing.”

Brooks did not respond to requests for comment.

Some recent well-being forums sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute have featured panel discussions on the economycriminal justice and higher education, among others.

On Wednesday, the Charles Koch Institute will host what it’s calling its “Inaugural Well-Being Forum” at the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C.

Not-so-diverse board

The five-member advisory board of the Well-Being Initiative includes Ángel Cabrera, president of George Mason University and Tyler Cowen, a popular libertarian professor at the school who has been dubbed “America’s Hottest Economist.”

As the Center reported in March, two of the six private charitable foundations the Koch brothers control and personally fund combined in 2012 to pump more than $12.7 million into colleges and universities. George Mason University has received more Koch money than any other school.

“The Charles Koch Foundation has been generous to the university, and they have supported various efforts in areas that are important to us, so this time around they wanted my guidance and advice, and I thought it would be a great thing to do,” Cabrera told the Center for Public Integrity in an interview.

Cabrera — not a libertarian, he says — explained that the Koch’s Well-Being Initiative lines up with the university’s strategic plan, which includes a well-being component. He refuted the idea that this initiative was all about promoting the Koch brothers’ libertarian ideology.

“If they had a pre-defined definition or ideology that they wanted to push with this effort, the last thing you want is free, independent thinkers telling you what to do,” he pointed out.

The initiative seeks to explore various research areas, including something called “neuroeconomics” — a field of study that merges brain science and economics to explore economic decision-making.

Advisory board member Paul Zak, aka “Dr. Love,” is a neuroeconomist and founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He is widely known for his research into the brain chemical oxytocin — which he calls the “moral molecule” that is key to improving social interactions, including those involving financial transactions.

Zak has concluded in his research that free markets are inherently moral.

In an interview, Zak told The Center for Public Integrity that he had reservations about joining the advisory board when he was first approached by Koch Institute officials about nine months ago.

“I said, ‘You guys have kind of a dicey reputation,’” Zak recalled, noting that he disagrees with some of the Koch brothers’ political efforts. “And they said, ‘Yeah, we know, and we want to start funding some good science so that we can allow people to draw their own conclusions.’”

Zak said officials convinced him that the Well-Being Initiative is apolitical.

“It seems non-agenda driven,” he said.

“We really want to understand [well-being] better and we want lots of people to use this. Let’s try to make a really global, useful, broad index and just see what it tells us about government policies, about economic growth, about all of these things that can affect people’s well-being.”

Still, Zak acknowledges that the initiative’s advisory board is dominated by libertarians. “Could [the board] be more diverse?” he asked. “Probably.”

More libertarianism

The other two advisory board member positions are filled by William Inboden, a professor of public affairs at the University of Texas-Austin, and Chris Rufer, the president and founder of the Morning Star Company.

A former fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Inboden was previously the senior vice president of the London-based Legatum Institute, which publishes the “Prosperity Index,” ranking countries based on wealth, economic growth and quality of life.

Rufer is a board member of the Free to Choose Network, which produces broadcast programs that air on PBS stations. Last November, the network produced “Economic Freedom in Action: Changing Lives,” a documentary about how the “rise in economic freedom has led to increased prosperity and longevity, allowing more people to rise out of poverty and build positive futures for themselves and their children.”

The program, funded in part by Chris Rufer and his wife, aired on stations all across the country.

In an interview with the Center, Rufer said the Koch brothers’ message has been misinterpreted by the liberal media.

“Is it a PR move?” he asked. “Call it PR. What do you do when you put on a better shirt so you think the girls will look at you? Is that fraud? It’s not fraud. You’re just trying to represent yourself.”

This initiative, though, is good PR to a good end, he said.

“If you’re maliciously trying to deceive, well that’s bad,” he said. “But look at well-being and look at libertarianism and I think you’ll see it’s pretty consistent … because that is the objective of libertarianism: human welfare.”

Erin Quinn contributed to this story.

The wealthiest nation in the world cannot house its own people. Capitalist greed has eroded the stock of affordable housing, while bankers’ servants in government have systematically demolished public housing. State “homeless” programs blame the victims, assuming “that people experiencing homelessness are in some way individually inept.”

Murdering and brutalizing people sleeping in public space is this system’s primary response to its homelessness problem.

The problem of homelessness in the US is a crime of the capitalist system. Since US capitalism entered its last stage of neo-liberal imperialism beginning in the late 1970′s, the US ruling class has waged an all-out offensive on the working class and poor. Gains won through collective working class struggle in the early to mid-20th century went straight to Washington’s chopping block beginning in the 1980′s. Over the same period, the social necessity of housing became a lucrative market for speculative financial capitalists looking to turn a quick profit through predatory mortgage lending. The combination of these racist and exploitative practices has created a permanent and growing homelessness problem for the working class and poor in the so-called richest nation-state empire on the planet.

Homelessness has its roots in the 77 percent decrease in HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funding instituted by the Reagan Administration in 1983. Federal dollars for new low-income housing units were stopped. The remaining funds were invested in  ”homeless programs” legislated into official policy through the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act (1987). This Act reinforced the racist and anti-poor ideology of neo-liberal imperialism. Instead of building new public housing units, Washington diverted funds into state and locally “targeted” emergency shelters, transitional programs, and “supportive services” as defined by the Act. Each “homeless” program rested on the assumption that people experiencing homelessness were in some way individually inept.  It was implied (and enforced) through these piece-meal services that what people experiencing homelessness needed was a reduction in personal “defect” rather than a home to live in.

Homelessness has its roots in the 77 percent decrease in HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funding instituted by the Reagan Administration in 1983.”

Perpetual reductions in federal housing assistance and the shift to targeted homeless policies paved a clear path for finance capital to consolidate its rule over the housing market. Not only did imperialist banks red-line neighborhoods through racially discriminatory mortgage lending and create the conditions for the financial collapse of 2008, but the same financial institutions were also began their move to privatize public housing in collaboration with Washington. In 1992, Congress funded a program called Urban Revitalization Demonstration (URD), which in 1999 became the HOPE IV program. This program was advertised as a renovation project for public housing units. However, it was clear that both programs were Washington’s policy excuse to demolish existing public housing units at the request of the capitalist class.

Racism, as usual, justified the displacement of the poor. Advocates in Washington claimed that HOPE IV would alleviate “concentrated poverty” in US cities, comforting white hopes of displacing the Black community for resettlement and gentrification. Since 1995, 150,000 public housing units have been lost to demolition or sale and 300,000 project-based section-8 units have closed due to private ownership opting out of contracts with the Federal government. For the last three decades, the ruling class’s war on the poor and working class has created a growing sector of displaced persons who can neither afford privately owned houses and apartments nor access disintegrating subsidized housing programs. This is the primary cause of homelessness in the belly of US imperialism.

Recent counts conducted yearly of individuals experiencing homelessness in the US have totaled around 3.5 million. This number does not include families and only counts the number of emergency shelter beds and individuals sleeping on the streets in one particular day of January.  Meanwhile, there are eighteen million vacant homes in the US. To put this atrocity in perspective, capitalist Bill Gates has enough accumulated income to purchase every home in the city of Boston. Instead of ending the assault on public housing, opening vacant homes for the millions of people sleeping on the streets or shelters, and jailing the bankers responsible for both the austerity and foreclosure crisis, the US imperial state has criminalized homelessness with deadly consequences.  Police harassment, public humiliation, and in the case of the UK and Canada, concrete spikes in public spaces are daily punishments for being homeless in the US.  In 2011, Kelly Thomas was homeless when he was beaten to death by a swarm of police in Fullerton, California. This year, Albuquerque police murdered a homeless man, lethally shooting him outside of his outdoor encampment. The rulers of US neo-liberal imperialism have made it clear that murdering and brutalizing people sleeping in public space is this system’s primary response to its homelessness problem.

The US imperial state has criminalized homelessness with deadly consequences.”

What allows the atrocities that stem from homelessness to occur is neo-liberal imperialism’s racist ideological foundation. Austerity, privatization, militarized policing, imperialist war, and economic “globalization” are all guided and justified by white settler racism. This diseased mentality conditions white superiority into the fabric of US imperial society. Poor and working class people are taught by the neo-liberal imperialist social structure to hate themselves and, for the white working class, to see all social safety net programs as a “hand-out” for Black Americans and darker skinned peoples who “choose” to live off “the system.” Such neo-liberal, racist ideology distorts the facts and divides poor and working class people from each other. Under these conditions, homelessness is normalized to the extent that many people experiencing it are more likely to blame Black people and immigrants for their plight than the US capitalist power structure responsible for the problem.

I work with people experiencing homelessness everyday. And each day, I see how the ideological and material conditions of US neo-liberal imperialism have stunted the political development of the very people experiencing homelessness. Many people I work with do not believe they deserve the right to a home.  This is a crime. Washington and the corporate ruling class are the guilty culprits. Neo-liberal imperialism possesses zero ability to address the housing crisis it created. For the working class and poor subjected to homelessness, this means that the US ruling circle will not stop its ideological and economic assault until the people stop it. Housing is a human right but it won’t be until we have power to make it so.

Danny Haiphong is an activist and case manager in the Greater Boston area. You can contact Danny at: [email protected]

The anger that erupted in the streets of Port-au-Prince on Jun. 5,10, and 19 also flared in the streets of New York on Thursday, Jun. 19, 2014.

Over 100 Haitians and North American activists, mobilized with only 48 hours notice, protested against the Happy Hearts Fund of super-model Petra Nemcova awarding Haitian President Michel Martelly a prize for his “leadership in education” in a sumptuous Manhattan ceremony. The foundation also gave the former President Bill Clinton a “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

One of the main chants of the demonstrators on 42nd Street outside the Cipriani restaurant was “Clinton, where is the money for reconstruction?” The answer was “in whose pockets?”

Clinton was responsible for overseeing the billions of dollars in aid pledged to Haiti after the devastating earthquake there four years ago. While rubble has finally been cleared from the streets, some 200,000 people still live in tents. Only a fraction of the permanent housing promised and needed has been built. Those built are often poorly designed, badly located, or incomplete.

Some schools and other public buildings have been replaced. The jobs promised shortly after the disaster were scattered and temporary.

Some of the demonstrators’ signs and chants charged that President Barack Obama has continued the Clinton policy toward Haiti i.e. neo-liberalism.

Image: From left to right, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, President Michel Martelly, and singer Sheryl Crow at one of the fundraiser’s 52 tables. The event brought in $2.5 million for the Happy Hearts Fund

Another issue raised both in Port-au-Prince and New York was the United Nations “peacekeeping” force, which has now been in Haiti over a decade. Haiti is at peace, demonstrators point out; the UN is just in Haiti to “enforce” the U.S. agenda there. Events in both Haiti and New York called for the MINUSTAH military occupation of the UN to leave Haiti immediately. Clinton is the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Haiti.

In October 2010, the UN brought cholera to Haiti by the dumping untreated feces in Haiti’s largest river. To date, more than 830,000 Haitians have been sickened from cholera, while more than 8,000 have died. Despite the overwhelming evidence of its guilt, the UN has refused any form of redress for Haitian cholera victims with strong support from the United States and other imperialist powers on the UN Security Council.

As one sign said: “Reparations: the UN is standing on a lie. The UN knows, the UN is responsible, the UN is guilty!”

For the Jun. 19 protesters, the prize given to Martelly for his “initiative” in the domain of education is an “insult” not just to the Haitian diaspora in the United States but to the people living in Haiti.

Another charge raised in both Haiti and New York is that Martelly is a thief. Although the theft is unlikely to be proven in a court of law while he is president (a judge investigating his corruption suspiciously died one year ago), it is clear that President Martelly loves ostentatious luxury in the numerous trips abroad he makes. He reportedly gives himself a per diem expense account of $20,000. (Haiti Sentinel, December 13, 2012). This per diem does not cover other regular members of his entourage, like his wife. They get their own.

Image: On June 19, demonstrators rallied outside the Cipriani restaurant on 42nd Street to denounce the ceremony honoring Haitian president Michel Martelly and former US president Bill Clinton

“The ceremony inside the Cipriani restaurant is disgusting and hypocritical,” said Ray Laforest of the International Support Haiti Network (ISHN), one of the organizations that called the New York rally.

“Petra Nemcova, as Prime Minister Lamothe’s girlfriend, is a part of the Martelly government. Martelly himself calls her his Ambassador. The Martelly government is just giving itself an award, carrying out yet another charade, thinking that we Haitians are to stupid to understand the bluff. We hope that some of the clueless celebrities inside hear our voices.”

Many protesters in Port-au-Prince were teachers who have not been paid for months and students who came to support them.

The Cipriani restaurant, where the ceremony took place prize, is owned by an international company with a long history of conflict with Local 6 of the union UNITE-HERE and has been repeatedly prosecuted for how it distributes tips and salaries. It is often used for bourgeois celebrations.

The ceremony itself was conducted by Petra Nemcova, who founded the Happy Hearts Fund ten years ago. The event attracted a number of celebrities such as actress Naomi Watts, figure skater Scott Hamilton, radio personality Dr. Ruth, singers Sheryl Crow and Bono, and members of the musical group Black Eyed Peas.

According to the”Page 6″ column of the New York Post, “when Nemcova auctioned off a trip to Ibiza on a private jet (complete with a seven-night stay on a yacht) for $85,000, she said she’d throw in a kiss, but then brandished a red ruler and told the crowd she’d spank the lucky winner if they ponied up $100,000.”

With tickets sales and the auction, the foundation raised $2.5 million, according to the Daily News.

Designer Donna Karan, reading from a script clearly given to her by the government, claimed that the Martelly government “has increased school attendance from 46% in 2012 to 83% in 2013 while subsidizing over 1.4 million school children’s tuition,” statistics which are as precise as they are suspicious. The Martelly/Lamothe government is infamous for throwing out concocted figures to give their propaganda an allure of reality. Martelly has “truly uplifted the country,” Ms. Karan said.

She then presented the award to Martelly, who took the floor to say that “today I am here to talk about children’s education, which is the centerpiece of my vision for Haiti.” To prove it, Martelly explained that “my first act on May 14, 2011 was to inaugurate with Petra the Happy Hearts School.” Making the inauguration of the school of his business partner’s girlfriend’s NGO is not exactly presidential.

During the ceremony, President Martelly sang two duets with Haitian singer Wyclef Jean: “Let It Be Me” and “No Woman, No Cry.” Protesters booed Wyclef when he entered the restaurant. Martelly, Lamothe, and Clinton found it wiser to enter through a rear door.

Mr. Clinton, presented by Ms. Nemcova, also spoke after receiving his award.

The Dessalines Coordination (KOD), KAKOLA, and ISHN were among the Haitian groups sponsoring the New York rally, which also included many members of the Lavalas Family chapter in New York. The International Action Center, the ANSWER Coalition, Harlem Tenants Council, and Socialist Action were among the North American groups who supported and came out for the rally.

Maude Barlow, founder of the Blue Planet Project and Chair of Food & Water Watch, recently visited Detroit, Michigan in the United States and heard firsthand accounts from residents who were having their water services cut off by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). This report was produced from information gathered by Maude Barlow, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, and the Detroit People’s Water Board. The Detroit People’s Water Board is campaigning to have these essential services restored to the thousands of households currently without water service pursuant to a just and affordable rate structure, and to prevent future cut-offs.

About the Detroit People’s Water Board

The Detroit People’s Water Board is a coalition that includes AFSCME Local 207, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Detroit Green Party, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Food & Water Watch, For Love Of Water (FLOW), Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, Matrix Theater, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, Sierra Club and Voices for Earth Justice. The coalition advocates for access, protection, and conservation of water and promotes the human right to water.

About the Blue Planet Project

The Blue Planet Project is a global initiative that works with organizations and activists around the world to promote water as a human right and a commons. This includes working with local organi-zations and activists on grassroots struggles to protect democratic, community control of water, and building a movement to see the full implementation of the human right to water and sanitation. The Blue Planet Project is affiliated with international networks including Friends of the Earth Interna-tional, Red Vida (the Americas Network on the Right to Water) and the People’s Health Movement.

About Food & Water Watch

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping the global commons – our shared resources – under public control.

About the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization

The Michigan Welfare Rights Organization represents and fights for the victims of poverty. We organize to eliminate poverty and to stop the war against the poor. We are working with people to deal with the current water crisis in the City of Detroit by advocating for low income people to demand fair treatment, registering complaints against the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), organizing protests at the DWSD offices and Detroit local government buildings, alerting people to resources – when available – to help with their water bills, and speaking out on the human right to water in the media and at public events.

Violation of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in the  City of Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Context:

The City of Detroit is facing a major water crisis as a result of decades of policies that have put corporate business and profit ahead of the public good and human rights. Social programs and investments in essential infrastructure have been slashed. According to the Detroit News, the City of Detroit’s water department runs a chronic deficit and, like many other public water infrastructure systems, needs more than $5 billion for urgently needed upgrades to the city’s water system.1

In 2009, the DWSD asked the state regulatory authority, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), to modify its permit to eliminate the release of raw sewage into the Detroit and Rouge Rivers. The DWSD claimed economic hardship, contending that upgrades to its aging sewer system would place an undue financial burden on the system. MDEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed, allowing the DWSD to cut costs by giving the department more time to comply with the Clean Water Act.

Until recently, every winter, hundreds of aging pipes spewed water from leaks as the water had not been turned off in thousands of abandoned houses and boarded-up businesses. While there have been efforts to address this recently, it continues to be an ongoing problem.

With globalization and the hollowing out of the once mighty auto industry, wealth and businesses fled to the suburbs in Detroit, draining the city of its tax base and the water department of its revenues. There are now 1 million fewer people living in Detroit than there were in the 1950s.

The case of water cut-offs in the City of Detroit speaks to the deep racial divides and intractable economic and social inequality in access to services within the United States. The burden of paying for city services has fallen onto the residents who have stayed within the economically depressed city, most of whom are African-American. These residents have seen water rates rise by 119 per cent within the last decade. With official, understated unemployment rates at a record high and the official, understated poverty rate at about 40 per cent, Detroit water bills are unaffordable to a significant portion of the population.

The City of Detroit declared bankruptcy in the summer of 2013. A high-priced bankruptcy lawyer was named its Emergency Manager with a mandate to get the city back on its feet financially by imposing a savage austerity regime. Nothing is off the chopping block, including water utilities, which are being considered for regionalization, sale, lease, and/or a public-private partnership and are currently subject to mediation by a federal district judge. The Detroit People’s Water Board fears that authorities see people’s unpaid water bills as a “bad debt” and want to sweeten the pot for a private investor by imposing even more of the costs of the system on those least able to bear them. The service cut-offs for anyone more than two months behind in payments appear to be the city’s last-ditch attempt to make up for lost revenues. A contract with a private operator seeking prof-its will only lead to greater hikes in service fees and even less affordable, more unjust barriers to equitable access to vital water. That this massive human rights atrocity is occurring near the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet, with very little media attention, is a foreboding sign of the times.

The Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO) argues that these water cut-offs to poor Detroit households need to be understood within a broader context of Detroit’s appeal in the real estate market. With its proximity to the Great Lakes and the Canadian border, the city is considered prime real estate, and is available at fire sale prices. People’s overdue water bills are being transferred to their property taxes and people are losing their homes as a result. Given the utility’s lack of interest in cutting costs or generating revenues by collecting on the arrears of business users, fixing leaking pipes, and cutting off services to abandoned homes, the organization sees the crackdown as a ploy to drive poor people of color out of the city to facilitate gentrification – what the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization refers to as a “land-grab.”

Water cut-offs

In March 2014, the water and sewer department announced it would begin shutting off water service for 1,500 to 3,000 customers per week.2

According to a DWSD document obtained by the Sierra Club, there are more than 179,000 residential water accounts in Detroit. By April 30, 2014, more than 83,000 of them were past due. The aver-age amount owed per household was just over $540.3

In a report by the DWSD’s Director, dated May 28, 2014, it is noted there were “44,273 notices sent to customers in April 2014, resulting in 3,025 shut-offs for non-payment.”4 The water department has said it will turn the water off to all residences that owe money by the end of the summer.

In a phone conversation, city spokesperson Greg Eno confirmed that the city would be ramping up cut-offs to 3,000 residents per week starting June 2. The city would not confirm exact figures over the phone of how many people in Detroit are without water, and did not respond to a follow-up email request.

The Detroit People’s Water Board is hearing directly from people impacted by the water cut-offs who say they were given no warning and had no time to fill buckets, sinks and tubs before losing access to water. In some cases, the cut-offs occurred before the deadline given in notices sent by the city. Sick people have been left without running water and working toilets. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe and parents cannot cook.

The MWRO is working with people who have been affected by the crisis. According to the MWRO, mass water shut-offs began in April. The organization estimates that as many as 30,000 households will have had water shut off over the next few months.

The MWRO was contacted in June by a woman who had been living without water since February. She applied for State Emergency Relief, but was denied because she has no income, having reached the 60-month time limit on her welfare benefits. She was living on loans from friends and her church.

According to the organization, there are thousands of other people in similar situations who have exceeded the five-year limit on their welfare benefits. Many have been told that they don’t qualify for disability benefits even though they are disabled.

With two-thirds of the water cut-offs happening in homes with children, families are concerned and afraid to speak out. They understandably fear, based on experience, that child welfare authorities will remove children from their homes in accordance with state policy that there be working utilities in all homes housing children.

Detroit Free Press

According to an article in the , there are many low-income families that are struggling to keep their utilities on.“The need is huge,” said Mia Cupp, Director of Development and Communications for the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, one organization that is trying to assist families. “There are families that have gone months and months without water.”5

The MWRO says some families have been living without water for over a year and eventually be-come homeless as a result. These people are forced to abandon their homes after they run into problems with cracked pipes in the winter. Once people leave their homes, the houses get broken into, are stripped of valuable materials and become unsafe to return to.

Families concerned about children being taken away by authorities due to lack of water and sanitation services in the home have been sending their children to live with relatives and friends, which has an impact on school attendance and related activities. Teachers and social workers are required to contact authorities when they become aware that children are living without water at home.

The Blue Planet Project was contacted by a teenager whose home had its water services disconnected for a day and a half. The family had to purchase bottled water to meet their basic needs and was unable to prepare food.

The MWRO says that even when people make efforts to pay a portion of their water bill, the water department will not turn their water back on unless they pay 30 per cent of the amount owing, which in many cases is thousands of dollars. In fact, the amount owing on people’s bills is often in dispute, and the water department is unwilling to restore service (or to halt the shut-off process) while the dispute is being resolved.

The MWRO was recently contacted by a woman who moved in to care for her ailing father, who had received a shut-off notice from the DWSD. She offered to make the full payment, but was told the DWSD would not accept the payment because the bill was in her father’s name and she did not have papers to show she was his representative. Her picture I.D. has the same address as his, but the DWSD would not accept payment.

The MWRO reports similar concerns of unnecessary administrative barriers for people who try to get their connection restored after moving into new homes. Once your connection is shut off, the administrative and monetary requirements for getting connections restored have kept people cut off for longer than necessary.

One person whose water was cut off recently offered the following statement in an e-mail to the MWRO on May 27, 2014:

“Yes, my water has been off since Friday, May 16, and I have paid my full bill in full ($320) on Monday, [May] 19, and still do not have water due to the extreme hurdle one has to comply with to get it turned back on, [including producing a] deed to the property, lease agreement-notarized, mortgage documents, tax records, driver’s licence, social security cards, notarized statements from the owners of the property, background checks, etc. My father’s house is in probate court and I cannot have the water turned on!”

According to Maureen Taylor, Chairperson of the MWRO, the DWSD is issuing past due notices that have a red line across the front of the bill. Notices are issued when bills reportedly reach $150 or more, with a 10-day window before water shut-offs can happen.

When Maude Barlow spoke to groups campaigning for water connections to be restored, she was told that as a cost-cutting measure, the water department stopped sending bills, expecting residents to figure out their own bills. It then installed “smart meters” that read retroactively and many families were hit with bills for thousands of dollars. Many of these bills were from former tenants, and many included water bills from nearby abandoned houses, but that didn’t matter to the authorities. The MWRO recently spoke to a woman whose water was shut off without any notice from the city. She reported that when she and her Department of Human Services worker called the water department, she was informed that if people have outstanding bills for more than two months no advance notice is required. In another instance, a woman was sent a shut-off notice, and then the contractor (the water department has private contractors doing the shut-offs) showed up two days prior to the date indicated on the notice. She reported that the contractor refused to give her or her pregnant neighbor time to fill any containers before they shut off the water.

The MWRO has heard from people who are being charged as much as $500 per month for water. One member estimated the average water bill for a family of four is $150 to $200 per month. The MWRO says, “for thousands of people in this city – and in the surrounding suburbs as well – this represents as much as 20 per cent of their monthly income.” These bills include two charges: one for water service and another charge for sewerage service. The sewerage charges are about twice the water charges.

A MWRO volunteer explains:

“Many poor people are forced to accept payment plans that they know they can’t afford just to keep their water on (or lights, gas, telephone) until the next shut-off notice. They end up defaulting on these agreements, try to set up new ones and the next one is worse. The utility companies ask for a higher deposit and higher payment plan.”

Many corporations and institutions are also in arrears on their bills, but have not been targeted in the same way as residential users. A Sierra Club representative attended one of the department’s finance committees and learned that 57 per cent of “city commercial” users had not paid their water bills (10,042 out of 18,057) with an average bill totaling $1,976.98. Fifty-five per cent of “city industrial” users were delinquent (869 out of 1,588) with an average bill totaling $10,817.96. In total, there are 10, 911 delinquent commercial and industrial users owing the city $29,253,599.93. The Detroit People’s Water Board argues it would be more just and efficient for the DWSD to spend its resources collecting unpaid bills from commercial and industrial users than depriving house-holds of basic services.

Conclusion

The Blue Planet Project, Food & Water Watch, the Detroit People’s Water Board and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization are outraged about the violation of the human right to water and sanitation in the City of Detroit and call on the authorities to take immediate action to restore water services and stop further cut-offs.

Recommendations:

1.We call on the State of Michigan and the U.S. government to respect the human right to water and sanitation.

2. We call on the city to restore services to households that have been cut off immediately.

3. We call on the city to abandon its plan for further cut-offs.

4. We call on the federal and state governments to work with the city to ensure a sustainable public financing plan and rate structure that would prevent a transfer of the utility’s financial burden onto residents who are currently paying exorbitant rates for their water services.

5. We call for fair water rates for the residents of Detroit.

6. We call on the City of Detroit to implement the original water affordability program immediately.

 

Notes:

1 Detroit News, Editorial: Water cut-offs send notice to scofflaws, March 26, 2014.

2 http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/investigations/sinking-in-unpaid-water-bills-dwsd-owed-118-mil- lion/25370670

3 Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Retail Delinquency Report by Sales Class – accounts billed between April 1 and April 30, 2014.

4 http://dwsd.org/downloads_n/about_dwsd/director/directors_report_2014-05-28.pdf

5 http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014303220010

The United Nations has condemned the administration of the US city of Detroit for violating the basic human rights of its citizens by turning off their water taps.

On Monday, a coalition of activist groups appealed to the UN’s special rapporteur over reports that cash-strapped residents in Detroit are being disconnected from water services.

According to reports, about half of the Detroit Water and Sewerage customers have not paid their bills.

The department has started cutting off water supplies to these customers on a large scale, three UN rights experts said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights,” the experts said.

“The households which suffered unjustified disconnections must be immediately reconnected,” they added.

In July 2013, Detroit, the birthplace of the US auto industry, became the largest American city to ever file for bankruptcy protection.

In December 2013, a federal judge ruled that Detroit was eligible for bankruptcy in what has become the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. The city is $18.5 billion in debt.

Catarina de Albuquerque, an expert on the right to water and sanitation, called on the US government take action to help protect families living in poverty against disconnections.

“When there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections,” she said.

Leilani Farha, the expert on the right to adequate housing, said that water shutoffs were having devastating consequences, with social services removing children from their homes.

And “if these water disconnections disproportionately affect African Americans they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the United States has ratified,” she noted.

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Detroit and Iraq: Plundered by the Same Bandits

June 26th, 2014 by Margaret Kimberley

The Race to the Bottom under global, militarized capitalism creates communities of shared misery. Increasingly, it is almost as dangerous to be inside U.S. borders as on the outside. “Iraq was invaded with soldiers, guns and bombs. Detroit was invaded by the corporate ‘suits’ who made a fast buck for themselves.” Both are plundered by the same bandits.

All of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s incompetence could not have created the ongoing occupation of Detroit by the thieves in high places.”

The ugly face of empire and disaster capitalism is visible all over the world. Detroit, Michigan, was once a thriving city but was sent into a tailspin by the deindustrialization of the United States, white flight, and institutional racism which blamed black people who were in fact the victims of catastrophe. The coup de grace was delivered by big banks like UBS, Bank of America and Barclays, which sold risky derivatives schemes to corrupt Detroit politicians. When the financial deal inevitably headed south, the banks were the creditors first in line for a payout.

Far back in that line were the workers and people of Detroit. The emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, whose very position they had voted against establishing, rules the city. The new mayor is a figurehead and the people have no representation as the Republican governor and emergency manager remake the city for capital and the gentrifying settler class.

A world away in Iraq, a nation is crumbling under the weight of eleven years of violent occupation by the United States. The once developing nation is now a ruin, with all of its infrastructure and systems from health care to education destroyed by western avarice. The prime minister who was chosen with America’s blessing, Nouri al-Maliki, has now become an inconvenience and faces a bleak fate.

“In the United States, residents of a major city must plead to the international community for the right to access water.”

The Bush administration and now the Obama team determined that promoting one side in sectarian political disputes would make for a smooth running and profitable occupation. Instead they brought war between Sunni and Shia and with goal of knocking down more dominoes, continued to fund jihadists who always upset their plans. Now Maliki is being told to get out of office if he wants help in crushing the enemies that America made for his country.

Just as Iraq’s infrastructure has been destroyed, Detroit residents now live without basic services which ought to be regarded as the right of every human being. In the United States, a country which boasts of its high level of advancement, residents of a major city must plead to the international community for the right to access water.

In a city already on the brink, the powers that be chose to pressure struggling people to pay increased fees for water. They have also used harsh and sometimes improper methods to deprive even those who have paid their bills. No one can survive at all without water to drink, and one cannot survive very well without water for cooking, cleaning and sanitation. Very powerful people in boardrooms and government offices made decisions that turned Detroit into an Iraq in America’s midst and now sneer at pleas for mercy.

Desperate Detroiters represented by the Blue Planet Project, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Food & Water Watch and the Detroit People’s Water Board, have made their case to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water. They issued a report which outlines the latest scheme to destroy Detroit as a city and as a home to poor and working people. The plan will ultimately privatize the water system and make Detroit another location for prime real estate and riches for the few.

Very powerful people in boardrooms and government offices made decisions that turned Detroit into an Iraq in America’s midst and now sneer at pleas for mercy.”

President Obama and his cohorts in the Democratic and Republican parties will go to any lengths to prop up the empire, but do little to help people in need. American allies in Ukraine or Iraq and other countries receive astronomical sums of money in order to help maintain Manifest Destiny. Poor people in Detroit and the rest of the country are not so lucky. They are seen only as obstacles to putting the rule of capital firmly in place.

Iraq was invaded with soldiers, guns and bombs. Detroit was invaded by the corporate “suits” who made a fast buck for themselves. The end result is the same for Michiganders and Iraqis alike. They end up suffering in a plundered society while other people make out like the bandits that they really are.

The organizations which reached out to the U.N. took an important step in changing the Detroit narrative. Politicians and the corporate media dismiss the city’s troubles as the fault of incompetent black people. All of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s incompetence could not have created the ongoing occupation of Detroit by the thieves in high places. The outreach to the United Nations is important for another reason. It points out that millions of Americans live an existence far from the myth of the great country. They are struggling to survive just like millions in the so-called third world. It is the gangsters who run the show in Baghdad and in Michigan too.

 

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com.  

Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Paul Singer, the billionaire hedge fund manager, has claimed victory in a lawsuit to force Argentina to fork out almost 17 times more than he paid to buy bonds issued by the country.

After Argentina’s economy crashed in 2001 and it defaulted on $80 billion in bonds, Singer’s Elliott Capital Management paid $49 million to buy $220 million in Argentine debt. Over the last 13 years, the value of these bonds has risen to $832 million which Singer wants paid off in full. Singer has been joined by several other Wall Street speculators such as Aurelius Capital Management and Blue Angel who together hold a total of $1.3 billion in Argentine debt.

In the meantime, after extensive negotiations, almost all other holders of Argentina’s total $93 billion in debt agreed to forgive as much as 70 percent of what they were owed, recognizing that the country was in dire financial straits.

“Society needs a way to allow people to start over again. This is why we have bankruptcy,” writes Martin Wolf in the Financial Times. “Indeed, we allow the most important private actors in our economies – companies – to enjoy limited liability. The ease with which US corporations can walk away from their creditors is breathtaking. A similar logic applies to countries.”

Image: Protest outside Elliott Capital Management offices in New York. Photo: Jubilee Debt Campaign. Used under Creative Commons license.

But there is no international bankruptcy court for countries. Instead, beginning in 2009, Singer and his friends took advantage of the fact that much of the debt was issued under New York laws and went after Argentina in U.S. courts.

This is not the first time that Singer, a lawyer trained at Harvard, has taken advantage of governments in dire straits. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was forced to pay him $90 million for $20 million in debt in 2002 and Peru had to pay him $58 million for debt he bought for $11 million in 1995.

But Argentina has refused to play ball so far. “We will not reward loan sharks who bought defaulted bonds for next to nothing and have refused a deal that would have represented a clear profit, asking much more, even several times the amount they spent,” wrote Hector Timerman, the Argentine minister of foreign affairs in the Huffington Post.

“If Argentina beats Paul Singer and others, the consequence may well be a world where vulture funds’ actions against developing countries are history. A place free of these scavengers would benefit not only my country, but also other poor nations in Africa and Latin America.”

It has been an uphill struggle for Argentina, however. In November 2012, a U.S. court ruled that the country to pay all the bondholders at the same time. The problem with this ruling that if Argentina paid Singer and his friends the full amount they want, other creditors could well want to be paid in full also, making the country liable for as much as $15 billion immediately, more than half the country’s reserves. All told Argentina might face a total debt of some $120 billion.

Argentina appealed the decision at the U.S. Supreme Court but the judges refused to hear the case last week. Now Argentina faces a June 30 deadline when it is supposed to pay the next installment of interest to all bondholders.

Other countries have waded into this battle. Brazil, France and Mexico supported Argentina in its losing bid at the U.S. Supreme Court while a Ghanian court allowed Singer’s group to seize an Argentine vessel ARA Libertad last October.

Despite Argentina’s court losses, progressives say that its citizens are vastly better off today because of the country’s hard-nosed negotiations with bond holders to date and its refusal to cut social spending to pay off its debt back in 2001.

“For comparison, look at Greece,” writes Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

“After six years of austerity-driven recession, which included a 40 percent cut in health care spending, the unemployment rate stands at 26.8 percent (and more than double that rate for youth) and the net public debt has grown to 169 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.”

Over the past two dozen years, the massive damage that the U.S. has inflicted on Iraq’s population, infrastructure and environment includes the residue from American “depleted uranium” weapons that can cause cancer and other illnesses.

A new report from the Netherlands based on U.S. Air Force firing coördinates shows that the U.S. military fired its armor-piercing munitions  ¾  made of waste uranium-238 which is called “depleted uranium” or DU  ¾  into civilian areas of Iraq and at Iraqi troops during the 2003 invasion and occupation, defying the U.S. Air Force’s own legal advice that the toxic and radioactive ammunition be used only against hardened targets in compliance with the Laws of War.

The study, “Laid to Waste,” by the Dutch organization PAX found that the lack of legal obligations on U.S.-led militaries in Iraq to help clean-up after using DU weapons has resulted in Iraqi civilians and workers continuing to be exposed to the highly toxic heavy metal years after the war. The health risks posed by the inadequate management of Iraq’s DU contamination are unclear because neither U.S.-led forces nor the Iraqi government have supported health research into civilian DU exposures.

President George W. Bush and members of his national security team in Iraq in 2007

President George W. Bush and members of his national security team in Iraq in 2007

High-risk groups include people living near or working on dozens of Iraqi scrap metal sites where thousands of military vehicles  ¾ destroyed in the 1991 and 2003 bombardments  ¾  are stored or processed. Waste sites often lack official oversight and in places it has taken more than 10 years to decontaminate military wreckage from residential neighborhoods.

Hundreds of locations that were hit by the weapons, many of which are in populated areas, remain undocumented, and concern among Iraqi civilians over potential health effects from exposure, ingestion and inhalation is widespread.

“To help clean-up we urgently need to know the location and quantities of DU fired,” said the report’s author Wim Zwijnenburg. “The Iraqi government is also in dire need of technical support to help manage the many scrap metal sites where contaminated vehicles are stored.”

The ongoing refusal by the United States to release targeting information continues to hinder the assessment and management of DU in Iraq. The Dutch military contributed a few thousand troops to the Coalition Forces in Iraq, and peacekeepers in Kosovo, and raised alarms over contamination in 2001 and 2006.

A handful of U.S. targeting coordinates held by the Dutch Ministry of Defense, and released after a Freedom of Information Act request, show that U.S. war planes used DU weapons against a far wider range of targets and sites than previously suspected, including Iraqi troops. The U.S. and British governments have long asserted that DU is only for use against armored vehicles. They have often been called “tank busters.”

Depleted Uranium, a by-product of uranium enrichment for reactor fuel and H-bombs, is categorized as an intermediate-level radioactive waste; contaminated rubble and scrap metal are considered low-level radioactive waste. The Dutch study finds that international guidelines for dealing with both kinds of waste  ¾  from the International Commission on Radiological Protection  ¾ were ignored and that the Iraqi government did not have the technical capacity to safely manage such contamination.

Unlike anti-personnel landmines and other explosive remnants of war, no treaty currently obliges DU users to help clean-up after the war. However, civil radiation protection standards place the responsibility firmly at the foot of the polluters.

Low estimates suggest that at least 440,000 kilograms (488 tons) of DU was fired by the United States in both Gulf Wars in 1991 and 2003. Civilians living near contaminated sites, scrap-yard workers, Iraqi doctors and researchers have repeatedly voiced concerns over the effects of DU on health and the environment.

Hans von Sponeck, a former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN humanitarian coördinator for Iraq, told the Guardian last October, “There is definitive evidence of an alarming rise in birth defects, leukemia, cancer and other carcinogenic diseases in Iraq after the war.”

“In 2001, I saw in Geneva how a World Health Organization mission to conduct on-spot assessments in Basra and southern Iraq, where DU had led to devastating environmental health problems, was aborted under U.S. political pressure,” Sponeck said.

 

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, edits its quarterly newsletter, and writes for PeaceVoice.

Douglas Valentine’s The Phoenix Program is vital for understanding the history of terrorism and its role in political warfare. Few other historical accounts provide as much detail on how the U.S. government and the CIA began to use programs for counterterrorism to implement political policy through secretive, coldblooded actions. Understanding such history is critical to making sense of what is happening in our world today.

Although implemented as a means of countering terrorism, Valentine shows how the Phoenix Program was in practice a CIA-controlled campaign of terror in Vietnam. Hidden behind terms like pacification and neutralization, Phoenix implemented a program of terror and psychological warfare against the civilian population. Under the guise of counter terrorism, tens of thousands of civilians were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered.

Valentine explains how the purpose of Phoenix was to terrorize the people into submission, not only causing them to fear any possible association with the enemy but also as a means to crush dissent. Unfortunately for many Vietnamese peasants, they were caught in a world in which they were terrorized by both sides in the long-lasting conflict. Using psychological warfare techniques, Phoenix promised to protect the people from terrorism while simultaneously terrorizing them.

The book describes the history of the program well. Phoenix and its precursor ICEX aligned the CIA-supported Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs) with police and paramilitary programs to create a system for capturing or killing suspects in targeted ways. Once captured and brought in for interrogation, the suspect was as good as dead. The growing fear of this program led to further abuses including false accusations and payoffs. The contractor Pacific Architects and Engineers built interrogation centers in every province and doubled as an employment front for other CIA operatives.

The U.S. Army’s participation in Phoenix led to the military purposefully targeting civilians. In 1968, Defense Secretary Clark Clifford called for Phoenix to be “pursued more vigorously.” In March of that year 504 men, women and children were killed in My Lai. Although it was covered up, Valentine argues that My Lai was a product of Phoenix, under CIA control.

Many of the characters in Valentine’s book went on to play infamous roles in other scandals. Clark Clifford, for example, went on to lead the notorious Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), discovered to be a CIA-controlled terrorist network. Clayton McManaway, hired by William Colby as a Phoenix program manager, later became a principal advisor in the ransacking of Iraq under L. Paul Bremer in 2003. Most remarkably, control of Phoenix was transferred to Ted Shackley in 1969. Shackley would become the leader of the “CIA within the CIA,” and was implicated in events like the Iran-Contra crimes. These facts demonstrate that once something like Phoenix is created and allowed to flourish, the philosophy and machinery behind it does not go away.

This book is well written and every page holds the reader’s attention. More importantly, it provides great historical background and analysis that is crucial to understanding terrorism and how it drives government policy today.

The Phoenix Program is now part of a new series edited by Mark Crispin Miller called the Forbidden Bookshelf.

Hillary Clinton, indeed, speaks out strongly for and supports women’s rights – except when they get in the way of the true top interest of Clinton and people like her: US plutocratic gain.

Thus, Hillary Clinton has supported or, despite her huge platform, done nothing to oppose, the most extreme crimes against women (and everyone else) throughout her political ascension.

Policies Hillary Clinton has supported or been unopposed to have killed, maimed, crippled, scarred, made homeless, and orphaned millions of little girls and women. See various sections in this record.

Here are two particularly egregious examples of Clinton’s specific prioritization of US plutocratic gain over women’s rights:

Afghanistan / Saudi Arabia:

While acting as a bastion of women’s rights, Hillary Clinton utters barely a peep about major US allies, like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, who wickedly repress women and others through murder, beatings, floggings, stoning, torture, and other forms.

Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are not allowed to drive.

When asked about women trying to obtain the right to drive cars in US-backed Saudi Arabia, Clinton made some mild statements, outside of Saudi Arabia, and the Obama/Clinton regime continued to heavily support (biggest weapons shipments in US history) and work closely with (arming jihadists) Saudi Arabia, which Clinton herself stated in a (leaked) diplomatic cable is the world’s biggest supporter of Sunni terrorism, as well as the Taliban and Al Qaeda (see “Terrorism” section).

Clinton’s mild rhetoric regarding extremist repression of women by this major US ally (and others) stands in stark contrast to her rhetoric about leaders of US-deterrent states. This applies to Putin, regarding his bloodless absorption of Crimea (which faces far less opposition from the international community than annexation (Israel) and criminal sanction (Cuba) policies supported by the USA). For Crimea, Clinton referred to Putin as Hitler. She saves her strong rhetoric for people who stand in the way of US imperial domination goals, not for US allies who abuse women, ethnically cleanse, commit genocide, torture children, and the like. (See various sections herein.) Nor is Clinton’s strong rhetoric used for US officials (including herself) who commit torture, aggression, terrorism, genocide, occupation, annexation, and sponsor systematic abusers of women like the Saudis, the Taliban, and various other jihadists.

Clinton’s record, in virtually every instance, consists of prioritizing forceful US domination of the world over women’s rights, human rights, democracy, and the like. Those terms are good for propaganda, but when they present obstacles to the real interests of US power, the concepts are ignored, blocked, prevented, and/or intentionally destroyed.

On Hillary Clinton and support for the Taliban from Bill Clinton and US corporations, such as dirty energy company “Unocal”:

“[W]hen a [Bill] Clinton official was reminded that the Taliban persecuted women, he said, “We can live with that.” (here)

As Hillary Clinton, despite her huge platform, remained silent on numerous acts of terror and genocide committed by the USA, thus passively supporting or accepting those acts (see various sections herein), she remained silent, when she was supposed to, on support for the Taliban from her husband and US corporations:

“…a strong campaign [was] waged by rights activists in America, particularly the Feminist Majority led by Eleanor Smeal and Mavis Leno, which lobbied Hilary Clinton and Madeleine Albright very fiercely to stop the Unocal project and come out against the Taliban’s repression of women. [But] the Clinton administration viewed the Taliban’s rise favorably… [because, in addition to two other strategic reasons] the U.S. wanted to build this pipeline. There was a lot of support from the Pentagon and the State Department for the Unocal effort.” (here)

Thus, for US plutocratic gain and imperial strategic reasons, Hillary Clinton, champion of “women’s rights”, dutifully kept her mouth shut, and outright refused to open it and take advantage of her platform as First Lady, while the Taliban brutally abused women and others, with US support.

“As it became clearer that Taliban policy-makers were beginning to lean toward Bridas [a non-US oil company] by late 1997, the Clinton administration responded by suddenly paying heed to human rights/women’s groups who had been protesting Taliban conduct for the past two years. In November 1997, after years of relative quiet, Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright publicly condemned the Taliban’s treatment of women… [but] it was only when absolute [US] control of that oil was challenged that the Taliban regime was openly discredited…” (here)

The Bill Clinton regime, including Hillary Clinton, used women as a tool of US imperial, plutocratic gain. Maybe this was one of Hillary’s “hard choices”, or maybe supporting the brutalization of women to try to secure a gas project for some US company was a no-brainer.

Also note: the USA’s sponsorship of the terrorist jihadists who eventually became the Taliban started in the mid to late 1970s, before, and specifically to incite, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. As late as the 2000s, the USA, still trying to make a partner of the Taliban, was trying to get the terrorist fundamentalists to expand their brutal regime to cover all of Afghanistan. Details and sources here.

For an extensive record of Hillary Clinton’s support for war and other depravities, see here.

 

Robert Barsocchini is a historical researcher, investigative journalist, and writer for the film industry.

Iraq vuelve a ser noticia de portada. Y una vez más la imagen que se nos presenta en los medios dominantes occidentales es una mezcla de medias verdades, falsedades, desinformación y propaganda. Los medios dominantes no le dirán que Estados Unidos está apoyando a ambos bandos en el conflicto iraquí. Washington apoya abiertamente al gobierno chií iraquí al tiempo que de forma encubierta adiestra, arma y financia al sunní Estado Islámico de Iraq y Siria (ISIS, por sus siglas en inglés). Apoyar la entrada de brigadas terroristas a Iraq es un acto de agresión extranjera. Pero los medios dominantes le dirán que el gobierno de Obama está “preocupado” por los actos que cometen los terroristas.

El relato favorito en los medios dominantes estadounidenses y de la mayor parte de Occidente es que la situación actual se debe a la “retirada” estadounidense que acabó en diciembre de 2011 (en Iraq permanecen más de 200 soldados y asesores militares estadounidenses). Este retrato de los hechos en el que la retirada estadounidense es la culpable de la insurgencia no establece relación alguna entre la invasión estadounidense de 2003 y la ocupación que hubo a continuación. También ignora los escuadrones de la muerte adiestrados por asesores estadounidenses en Iraq tras la invasión y que son clave en la situación actual.

Como de costumbre, los medios dominantes no quieren que usted entienda lo que está sucediendo. Su objetivo es dar forma a percepciones y opiniones elaborando un punto de vista del mundo que sirve a intereses poderosos. Por lo que se refiere a Iraq, le dirán que se trata de una guerra civil.

Lo que se está llevando a cabo es un proceso de “caos constructivo” urdido por Occidente. La desestabilización de Iraq y su fragmentación se planearon hace tiempo y forma parte de “la ‘hoja de ruta militar’ anglo-israelo-estadounidense para Oriente Próximo”, como explicaba este artículo en 2006:

“[...] Este proyecto, que se había estado fraguando durante varios años, consiste en crear un campo de inestabilidad, de caos y de violencia que se extienda desde Líbano, Palestina y Siria a Iraq, el Golfo Pérsico, Irán y las fronteras del Afganistán que mantiene la OTAN.

Washington y Tel Aviv presentaron públicamente el proyecto del “Nuevo Oriente Próximo” con la esperanza de que Líbano fuera el punto de tensión para la reorganización total de Oriente Próximo y de ese modo desencadenar las fuerzas del “caos constructivo”. Por su parte, este “caos constructivo” -que genera condiciones de violencia y de guerra en toda la región- será utilizado para que Estados Unidos, Gran Bretaña e Israel puedan retrazar el mapa de Oriente Próximo en función de sus necesidades y objetivos estratégicos. [...]

Retrazar y desmembrar Oriente Próximo, desde las orillas mediterráneas orientales de Líbano y Siria hasta Anatolia (Asia Menor), Arabia, el Golfo Pérsico y la llanura iraní responde a amplios objetivos económicos, estratégicos y militares que forman parte de una ya antigua agenda anglo-israelo-estadounidense en la región. [...]

De una guerra más amplia en Oriente Próximo pueden resultar unas fronteras estratégicamente retrazadas ventajosas para los intereses anglo-israelo-estadounidenses. [...]

Los intentos de crear intencionadamente animosidad entre los diferentes grupos étnico-culturales y religiosos de Oriente Próximo han sido sistemáticos. De hecho, forman parte de una agenda de inteligencia oculta cuidadosamente diseñada.

Mucho más inquietante, muchos gobiernos de Oriente Próximo, como el de Arabia Saudí, ayudan a Washington a fomentar divisiones entre las poblaciones de Oriente Próximo. El objetivo final es debilitar el movimiento de resistencia contra la ocupación extranjera por medio de la “estrategia del divide y vencerás” que sirve a los intereses anglo-israelo-estadounidenses en toda la región.” (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”, noviembre 2006 [Traducción al castellano, El proyecto de un "Nuevo Oriente Próximo": Planes de retrazado de Oriente Próximo].

Aunque la estrategia de divide y vencerás no es nueva, sigue funcionando gracias a las cortinas de humo de los medios.

[Leyenda del mapa: países que gana territorio en negro, los que lo pierden en rojo y los que permanecen igual en gris.]

Fraguar una guerra civil es la mejor manera de dividir un país en varios territorios. Funcionó en los Balcanes y está bien documentado que se utilizaron las tensiones étnicas, y se abusó de ellas, para destruir Yugoslavia y dividirla en siete entidades diferentes.

A todas luches hoy estamos asistiendo a la balcanización de Iraq con la ayuda de la herramienta favorita del imperialismo, esto es, las milicias armadas, a las que se califica de oposición democrática o de terroristas dependiendo del contexto y del papel que han desempeñado en la psicología colectiva.

Los medios y gobiernos occidentales no las definen por quienes son, sino por quién lucha contra ellas. En Siria constituyen una “oposición legítima, luchadores por la libertad que luchan por la democracia en contra de una dictadura brutal”, mientras que en Iraq son “terroristas que luchan contra un gobierno elegido democráticamente y apoyado por Estados Unidos”:

“Como es sabido y está documentado, Estados Unidos y la OTAN utilizaron en muchos conflictos a entidades afiliadas a Al Qaeda como ‘bazas de inteligencia’ desde el momento de auge de la guerra soviético-afgana. En Siria los rebeldes de Al Nusrah [Rama siria del ISIS. N. de la t.] y del ISIS son los soldados de a pie de la alianza militar occidental, que supervisa y controla el reclutamiento y adiestramiento de las fuerzas paramilitares.

Washington decidió enviar su apoyo (de manera encubierta) a una entidad terrorista que opera tanto en Siria como en Iraq, y que tiene bases logísticas en ambos países. El califato sunní del Estado Islámico de Iraq y de al-Sham coincide un viejo proyecto estadounidense de dividir tanto Iraq como Siria en tres territorios diferentes: un califato islamista sunní, un república árabe chií y una república del Kurdistán.

Mientras que el gobierno de Bagdad (un representante de Estados Unidos) compra armamento moderno a Estados Unidos, incluidos aviones de combate F16 comprados a Lockheed Martin, la inteligencia occidental apoya de forma encubierta al Estado Islámico de Iraq y de al-Sham, que lucha contra las fuerzas del gobierno iraquí. El objetivo es fraguar una guerra civil en Iraq en la que ambos bandos estén controlados indirectamente por Estados Unidos y la OTAN.

El escenario es armar y equipar a ambos bandos con armamento moderno y entonces ‘dejarles luchar’. […]

Bajo la bandera de una guerra civil se está luchando una guerra de agresión secreta que fundamentalmente contribuye a destruir aún más todo el país, sus instituciones y su económica. Esta operación secreta forma parte de un plan de inteligencia, un proceso planificado que consiste en transformar Iraq en un territorio abierto.

Mientras tanto se lleva a la opinión pública a creer que lo que está en juego es una confrontación entre chiíes y sunníes.” (Michel Chossudovsky, The Engineered Destruction and Political Fragmentation of Iraq. Towards the Creation of a US Sponsored Islamist Caliphate, 14 de junio de 2014)

Antes del inicio de la guerra contra el terrorismo sabíamos bien que Arabia Saudí era uno de los apoyos principales del terrorismo islámico. Pero como es un aliado incondicional de Estados Unidos, Arabia Saudí es la excepción de la regla proclamada por George W. Bush después de los atentados terroristas del 11 de septiembre: “No haremos distinción alguna entre quienes cometan estos actos y quienes los protejan”.

El hecho es que siempre hacen esa distinción cuando se trata de Arabia Saudí. Pero aunque los medios dominantes reconocen su apoyo al terrorismo, estos medios ignoran el hecho de que Estados Unidos esté apoyando (indirectamente) a entidades terroristas. Además, los periodistas de los medios dominantes nunca abordan la razón por la que Estados Unidos no reacciona ante el apoyo saudí a los terroristas. Los hechos son claros: Estados Unidos está apoyando el terrorismo a través de aliados como Arabia Saudí y Qatar. El hecho de que quienes dan forma al discurso en los medios dominantes no establezcan una relación entre diferentes hechos se debe únicamente a que no quieren hacerlo.

En Oriente Próximo, Arabia Saudí sirve tanto a los intereses estadounidenses como a los suyos propios. La alianza de Estados Unidos con Arabia Saudí muestra el desprecio que Estados Unidos en realidad tiene por la democracia. Solo esta alianza indica claramente que el objetivo de la invasión estadounidense de Iraq no era llevar la democracia y la libertad a los iraquíes. Para Arabia Saudí, un Iraq democrático hubiera sido una pesadilla y una amenaza para su represivo régimen monárquico:

“Desde el derrocamiento del régimen de Saddam en 2003, el régimen saudí ha sido rotundamente hostil a Iraq. Este se debe fundamentalmente a su profundamente arraigado miedo a que el éxito de la democracia en Iraq sin lugar a dudas inspirara a su propio pueblo. Otra razón es el profundamente arraigado odio a lo chií que siente la extremista clase dirigente religiosa wahhabí salafista de Arabia Saudí. El régimen saudí también acusa a Maliki de dar carta blanca a Irán para aumentar de manera exponencial su influencia sobre Iraq. El régimen no oculta que su prioridad absoluta es minar gravemente lo que considera una extremadamente peligrosa aunque creciente influencia iraní.

A pesar de que el régimen saudí se oponía vehementemente a la retirada estadounidense de Iraq, sin embargo en diciembre de 2011 Siria se convirtió en vez de Iraq en el principal objetivo de Arabia Saudí para el cambio de régimen. El régimen saudí siempre ha considerado al régimen sirio de Bashar Al Assad un insustituible aliado estratégico de su enemigo principal, Irán. Los saudíes se precipitaron a apoyar a los insurgentes armados desplegando sus servicios de inteligencia, cuyo papel fundamental en el establecimiento del Frente Al Nusra puso de relieve una revista de inteligencia publicada en París en enero de 2013. El régimen saudí también utilizó su enorme influencia no solo sobre los líderes tribales sunníes en el oeste de Iraq, sino también sobre los miembros saudíes del Al Qaeda en Iraq (AQI) y los convenció de que su principal campo de batalla debía ser Siria y que su fin último tenía que ser derrocar al régimen alawuita de Bashar Al Assad ya que su derrocamiento rompería el eje del gobierno iraquí dirigido por chiíes e inevitablemente disminuiría la influencia iraní sobre Iraq.” (Zayd Alisa, Resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Fuelled by Saudi Arabia, 3 de marzo de 2014) 

De Paul Bremer a John Negroponte

Pero la pieza más importante del rompecabezas iraquí es el apoyo encubierto de Washington a los terroristas. Para entender mejor la violencia sectaria que asola el país actualmente, tenemos que entender lo que Estados Unidos estuvo haciendo durante la ocupación. Paul Bremer, autor de My year in Iraq, the Struggle to Build a Future of Hope [Mi año en Iraq, la lucha para construir un futuro de esperanza], desempeñó un papel fundamental cuando fue Gobernador Civil de Iraq en 2003 y 2004. Cuando se ve lo que hizo durante aquel año habría que preguntarse para quién era un futuro lleno de esperanza. Sin lugar a dudas, no para los y las iraquíes:

“Cuando Paul Bremer disolvió la seguridad nacional y las fuerzas de policía iraquíes, formó otras con mercenarios y milicias sectarias que apoyaban la ocupación. En realidad, el motivo principal de las muertes de la violencia sectaria los años 2006 y 2007 fueron los espantosos crímenes cometidos por estas fuerzas.

Según los Protocolos de la Convención de Ginebra, la ocupación representada por Bremer no solo no cumplió con su deber de proteger a la población del país ocupado, sino que oficialmente formó milicias y bandas armadas para ayudarle a controlar el país.

Paul Bremer cometió crímenes contra la humanidad y un acto de limpieza [étnica] y de genocidio en Iraq al atacar a miles de civiles inocentes por medio del ministerio del Interior y los comandos de fuerzas especiales.” (Prof. Souad N. Al-Azzawi, US Sponsored Commandos Responsible for Abducting, Torturing and Killing Iraqis. The Role of Paul Bremer, 4 de enero de 2014)

En 2004-2005, el embajador estadounidense John Negroponte continuó el trabajo de Bremer. Con su experiencia en aplastar a la disidencia en América [Central] con la ayuda de los sangrientos escuadrones de la muerte en la década de 1980, Negroponte era “el hombre indicado para la tarea” en Iraq:

“Los escuadrones de la muerte patrocinados por Estados Unidos fueron reclutados en Iraq a partir de 2004-2005 en una iniciativa lanzada bajo la dirección del embajador de Estados Unidos John Negroponte, que fue enviado a Bagdad por el Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos en junio de 2004.

Negroponte era el “hombre indicado” para esa tarea. Como embajador de Estados Unidos en Honduras de 1981 a 1985, Negroponte desempeñó un papel clave en el apoyo y la supervisión de la Contra nicaragüense basada en Honduras, así como en la supervisión de las actividades de los escuadrones de la muerte militares hondureños. [...]

En enero de 2005, el Pentágono confirmó que estaba considerando:

“la formación de escuadrones de asesinos de combatientes kurdos y chiíes para atacar a dirigentes de la insurgencia iraquí [Resistencia] en un giro estratégico copiado de la lucha estadounidense contra guerrillas izquierdistas en Centroamérica hace 20 años” .

Bajo la así llamada “Opción El Salvador”, fuerzas iraquíes y estadounidenses fueron enviadas para matar o secuestrar a dirigentes de la insurgencia, incluso en Siria, donde se piensa que algunos se refugiaron. […]

Los escuadrones serían controvertidos y probablemente secretos.

Aunque el objetivo declarado de la “Opción Salvador en Iraq” era “eliminar a la insurgencia”, en la práctica las brigadas terroristas patrocinadas por Estados Unidos estaban involucradas en los asesinatos rutinarios de civiles a fin de fomentar la violencia sectaria. Por su parte, la CIA y MI6 estaban supervisando unidades de “Al Qaeda en Iraq” involucradas en asesinatos selectivos dirigidos contra la población chií. Es importante señalar que los escuadrones de la muerte estaban integrados y asesorados por Fuerzas Especiales de Estados Unidos encubiertas.” (Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Terrorism with a “Human Face”: The History of America’s Death Squads, 4 de enero de 2013, [Traducción a l castellano, “Terrorismo con “cara humana”: La historia de los escuadrones de la muerte de EE.UU.”].

Ahora se nos dice que el ISIS ha logrado hacerse con sofisticadas armas elaboradas en Estados Unidos. No hay que confundirse, estas armas no llegaron ahí por casualidad. Estados Unidos sabía perfectamente lo que hacía cuando armó y financió a la “oposición” en Libia y Siria. Lo que hacía no era insensato. Sabía qué iba a ocurrir y eso era lo que quería. Algunos medios progresistas hablaron de le había salido el tiro por la culata, cuando una acción de inteligencia va en contra de sus patrocinadores. No hay nada de eso. Si es lo que es, es un “tiro por la culata” cuidadosamente planificado. 

La política exterior estadounidense, ¿fallida, estúpida o diabólica?

Algunas personas afirmarán que la política exterior estadounidense en Oriente Próximo es una política “fallida”, que los políticos son “estúpidos”. No es un fracaso y no son estúpidos. Eso es lo que quieren que usted crea porque creen que usted es estúpido.

Lo que ocurre ahora se planificó hace mucho tiempo. La verdad es que la política exterior estadounidense es diabólica, brutalmente represiva, criminal y no democrática. Y la única manera de salir de este sangriento caos es “volver a la ley”:

“Solo hay un antídoto para la “guerra civil” que divide Iraq y es una volver a la ley e invocar justicia. La guerra emprendida por los dirigentes del gobierno en 2003 contra el pueblo de Iraq no fue un error, fue un crimen. Y había que llevar a esos dirigentes ante la justicia por las decisiones que tomaron.” (Inder Comar, Iraq: The US Sponsored Sectarian “Civil War” is a “War of Aggression”, The “Supreme International Crime”, 18 de junio de 2014) 

Selección de artículos

Los siguientes artículos de Global Research proporcionan una valoración detallada de los recientes acontecimientos en Iraq. También señalamos a nuestros lectores Global Research’s Iraq Report, que contiene un extenso archivo de artículos compuesto por más de mil artículos.

The Iraq Report (archive of over 700 GR articles and reports, in reverse chronological order (2003-2014) ,

The Engineered Destruction and Political Fragmentation of Iraq. Towards the Creation of a US Sponsored Islamist Caliphate, Michel Chossudovsky,

Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, [traducción al castellano, El proyecto de un "Nuevo Oriente Próximo": Planes de retrazado de Oriente Próximo].

Resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Fuelled by Saudi Arabia, Zayd Alisa,

The Truth About US Troops “Sent to Iraq” , Tony Cartalucci,

Terrorism with a “Human Face”: The History of America’s Death Squads, Michel Chossudovsky, [traducción al castellano, “Terrorismo con “cara humana”: La historia de los escuadrones de la muerte de EE.UU.”],

The Iraq ISIS Insurgency and the Anglo-American Battle For Oil, Felicity Arbuthnot,

American Imperialism and Non-Conventional Warfare in Iraq: Premeditated Covert Operations and the ISIS Insurgency, Phil Greaves,

Iraq: ISIS Terrorists Target Native Assyrian Christians in Nineveh, The Assyrian American Association,

ISIS “Made in USA”. Iraq “Geopolitical Arsonists” Seek to Burn Region, Tony Cartalucci,

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS): An Instrument of the Western Military Alliance, Michel Chossudovsky,

US Sponsored Commandos Responsible for Abducting, Torturing and Killing Iraqis. The Role of Paul Bremer, Prof Souad N. Al-Azzawi,

Iraq: The US Sponsored Sectarian “Civil War” is a “War of Aggression”, The “Supreme International Crime”, Inder Comar,

Al Qaeda: The Database, Pierre-Henri Bunel.

 

Fuente: http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-sponsored-terrorism-in-iraq-and-constructive-chaos-in-the-middle-east/5387653

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos.

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, gave this talk at the summit of the Group of 77 plus China, meeting in Santa Clara, Bolivia, on June 14, 2014.

Fifty years ago, great leaders raised the flags of the anticolonial struggle and decided to join with their peoples in a march along the path of sovereignty and independence.

The world superpowers and transnationals were competing for control of territories and natural resources in order to continue expanding at the cost of impoverishing the peoples of the South.

In that context, on June 15, 1964, at the conclusion of an UNCTAD[3] meeting, 77 countries from the South (we are now 133 plus China) met to enhance their trade bargaining capacities, by acting in a bloc to advance their collective interests while respecting their individual sovereign decisions.

Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Group of 77 For a New World Order for Living Well Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Plurinational State of Bolivia, 14 and 15 June 2014

During the past 50 years, these countries went beyond their statements and promoted resolutions at the United Nations and joint action in favor of development underpinned by South-South cooperation, a new world economic order, a responsible approach to climate change, and economic relations based on preferential treatment.

In this journey the struggle for decolonization as well as for the peoples’ self-determination and sovereignty over their natural resources must be highlighted.

Notwithstanding these efforts and struggles for equality and justice for the world’s peoples, the hierarchies and inequalities in the world have increased.

Today, 10 countries in the world control 40% of the world’s total wealth and 15 transnational corporations control 50% of global output.

Today, as 100 years ago, acting in the name of the free market and democracy, a handful of imperial powers invades countries, blocks trade, imposes prices on the rest of the world, chokes national economies, plots against progressive governments and resorts to espionage against the inhabitants of this planet.

A tiny elite of countries and transnational corporations controls, in an authoritarian fashion, the destinies of the world, its economies and its natural resources.

The economic and social inequality between regions, between countries, between social classes and between individuals has grown outrageously.

About 0.1% of the world’s population owns 20% of humanity’s assets. In 1920, a business manager in the United States made 20 times the wage of a worker, but today he is paid 331 times that wage.

This unfair concentration of wealth and predatory destruction of nature are also generating a structural crisis that is becoming unsustainable over time.

It is indeed a structural crisis. It impacts every component of capitalist development. In other words, it is a mutually reinforcing crisis affecting international finance, energy, climate, water, food, institutions and values. It is a crisis inherent to capitalist civilization.

The financial crisis was prompted by the greedy pursuit of profits from financial capital that led to profound international financial speculation, a practice that favored certain groups, transnational corporations or power centers that amassed great wealth.

The financial bubbles that generate speculative gains eventually burst, and in the process they plunged into poverty the workers who had received cheap credit, the middle-class savings-account holders who had trusted their deposits to greedy speculators. The latter overnight went bankrupt or took their capital to other countries, thus leading entire nations into bankruptcy.

We are also faced with an energy crisis that is driven by excessive consumption in developed countries, pollution from energy sources and the energy hoarding practices of the transnational corporations.

Parallel with this, we witness a global reduction in reserves and high costs of oil and gas development, while productive capacity drops due to the gradual depletion of fossil fuels and global climate change.

The climate crisis is caused by the anarchy of capitalist production, with consumption levels and unharnessed industrialization that have resulted in excessive emissions of polluting gases that in turn have led to global warming and natural disasters affecting the entire world.

For more than 15,000 years prior to the era of capitalist industrialization, greenhouse gases did not amount to more than 250 parts per million molecules in the atmosphere.

Since the 19th century, and in particular in the 20th and 21st centuries, thanks to the actions of predatory capitalism, this count has risen to 400 ppm, and global warming has become an irreversible process along with weather disasters the primary impacts of which are felt in the poorest and most vulnerable countries of the South, and in particular the island nations, as a result of the thawing of the glaciers.

In turn, global warming is generating a water supply crisis that is compounded by privatization, depletion of sources and commercialization of fresh water. As a consequence, the number of people without access to potable water is growing apace.

The water shortage in many parts of the planet is leading to armed conflicts and wars that further aggravate the lack of availability of this non-renewable resource.

The world population is growing while food production is dropping, and these trends are leading to a food crisis.

Add to these issues the reduction of food-producing lands, the imbalances between urban and rural areas, the monopoly exercised by transnational corporations over the marketing of seeds and agricultural inputs, and the speculation in food prices.

The imperial model of concentration and speculation has also caused an institutional crisis that is characterized by an unequal and unjust distribution of power in the world in particular within the UN system, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.

As a result of all these developments, peoples’ social rights are endangered. The promise of equality and justice for the whole world becomes more and more remote and nature itself is threatened with extinction.

We have reached a limit, and global action is urgently needed to save society, humanity and Mother Earth.

Bolivia has started to take steps to address these issues. Up to 2005, Bolivia applied a neoliberal policy that resulted in concentration of wealth, social inequality and poverty, increasing marginalization, discrimination and social exclusion.

In Bolivia, the historic struggles waged by social movements, in particular the indigenous peasant movement, have allowed us to initiate a Democratic and Cultural Revolution, through the ballot box and without the use of violence. This revolution is rooting out exclusion, exploitation, hunger and hatred, and it is rebuilding the path of balance, complementarity, and consensus with its own identity, Vivir Bien.

Beginning in 2006, the Bolivian government introduced a new economic and social policy, enshrined in a new community-based socioeconomic and productive model, the pillars of which are nationalization of natural resources, recovery of the economic surplus for the benefit of all Bolivians, redistribution of the wealth, and active participation of the State in the economy.

In 2006, the Bolivian government and people made their most significant political, economic and social decision: nationalization of the country’s hydrocarbons, the central axis of our revolution. The state thereby participates in and controls the ownership of our hydrocarbons and processes our natural gas.

Contrary to the neoliberal prescription that economic growth ought to be based on external market demand (“export or die”), our new model has relied on a combination of exports with a domestic market growth that is primarily driven by income-redistribution policies, successive increases in the national minimum wage, annual salary increases in excess of the inflation rate, cross subsidies and conditional cash transfers to the neediest.

As a consequence, the Bolivian GDP has increased from $9 billion to over $30 billion over the past eight years.

Our nationalized hydrocarbons, economic growth and cost austerity policy have helped the country generate budget surpluses for eight years in a row, in sharp contrast with the recurrent budget deficits experienced by Bolivia for more than 66 years.

When we took over the country’s administration, the ratio between the wealthiest and poorest Bolivians was 128 fold. This ratio has been cut down to 46 fold. Bolivia now is one of the top six countries in our region with the best income distribution.

It has been shown that the peoples have options and that we can overcome the fate imposed by colonialism and neoliberalism.

These achievements produced in such a short span are attributable to the social and political awareness of the Bolivian people.

We have recovered our nation for all of us. Ours was a nation that had been alienated by the neoliberal model, a nation that lived under the old and evil system of political parties, a nation that was ruled from abroad, as if we were a colony.

We are no longer an unviable country as we were described by the international financial institutions. We are no longer an ungovernable country as the US empire would have us believe.

Today, the Bolivian people have recovered their dignity and pride, and we believe in our strength, our destiny and ourselves.

I want to tell the entire world in the most humble terms that the only wise architects who can change their future are the peoples themselves.

Therefore, we intend to build another world, and several tasks have been designed to establish the society of Vivir Bien.

First: We must move from sustainable development to comprehensive development [desarrollo integral] so that we can live well and in harmony and balance with Mother Earth

We need to construct a vision that is different from the western capitalist development model. We must move from the sustainable development paradigm to the Bien Vivir comprehensive development approach that seeks not only a balance among human beings, but also a balance and harmony with our Mother Earth.

No development model can be sustainable if production destroys Mother Earth as a source of life and our own existence. No economy can be long lasting if it generates inequalities and exclusions.

No progress is just and desirable if the well-being of some is at the expense of the exploitation and impoverishment of others.

Vivir Bien Comprehensive Development means providing well-being for everyone, without exclusions. It means respect for the diversity of economies of our societies. It means respect for local knowledges. It means respect for Mother Earth and its biodiversity as a source of nurture for future generations.

Vivir Bien Comprehensive Development also means production to satisfy actual needs, and not to expand profits infinitely.

It means distributing wealth and healing the wounds caused by inequality, rather than widening injustice.

It means combining modern science with the age-old technological wisdom held by the indigenous, native and peasant peoples who interact respectfully with nature.

It means listening to the people, rather than the financial markets.

It means placing Nature at the core of life and regarding the human being as just another creature of Nature.

The Vivir Bien Comprehensive Development model of respect for Mother Earth is not an ecologist economy for poor countries alone, while the rich nations expand inequality and destroy Nature.

Comprehensive development is only viable if applied worldwide, if the states, in conjunction with their respective peoples, exercise control over all of their energy resources.

We need technologies, investments, production and credits, as well as companies and markets, but we shall not subordinate them to the dictatorship of profits and luxury. Instead, we must place them at the service of the peoples to satisfy their needs and to expand our common goods and services.

Second: Sovereignty exercised over natural resources and strategic areas

Countries that have raw materials should and can take sovereign control over production and processing of those materials.

Nationalization of strategic companies and areas can help the state take over the management of production, exercise sovereign control over its wealth, embark on a planning process that leads to the processing of raw materials, and distribute the profit among its people.

Exercising sovereignty over natural resources and strategic areas does not mean isolation from global markets; rather, it means connecting to those markets for the benefit of our countries, and not for the benefit of a few private owners. Sovereignty over natural resources and strategic areas does not mean preventing foreign capital and technologies from participating. It means subordinating these investments and technologies to the needs of each country.

Third: Well-being for everyone and the provision of basic services as a human right

The worst tyranny faced by humankind is allowing basic services to be under the control of transnational corporations. This practice subjugates humanity to the specific interests and commercial aims of a minority who become rich and powerful at the expense of the life and security of other persons.

This is why we claim that basic services are inherent to the human condition. How can a human being live without potable water, electrical energy or communications? If human rights are to make us all equal, this equality can only be realized through universal access to basic services. Our need for water, like our need for light and communications, makes us all equal.

The resolution of social inequities requires that both international law and the national legislation of each country define basic services (such as water, power supply, communications and basic health care) as a fundamental human right of every individual.

This means that states have a legal obligation to secure the universal provision of basic services, irrespective of costs or profits.

Fourth: Emancipation from the existing international financial system and construction of a new financial architecture

We propose that we free ourselves from the international financial yoke by building a new financial system that prioritizes the requirements of the productive operations in the countries of the South, within the context of comprehensive development.

We must incorporate and enhance banks of the South that support industrial development projects, reinforce regional and domestic markets, and promote trade among our countries, but on the basis of complementarity and solidarity.

We also need to promote sovereign regulation over the global financial transactions that threaten the stability of our national economies.

We must design an international mechanism for restructuring our debts, which serve to reinforce the dependence of the peoples of the South and strangle their development possibilities.

We must replace international financial institutions such as the IMF with other entities that provide for a better and broader participation of the countries of the South in their decision-making structures that are currently in the grip of imperial powers.

We also need to define limits to gains from speculation and to excessive accumulation of wealth.

Fifth: Build a major economic, scientific, technological and cultural partnership among the members of the Group of 77 plus China

After centuries under colonial rule, transfers of wealth to imperial metropolises and impoverishment of our economies, the countries of the South have begun to regain decisive importance in the performance of the world economy.

Asia, Africa and Latin America are not only home to 77% of the world’s population, but they also account for nearly 43% of the world economy. And this importance is on the rise. The peoples of the South are the future of the world.

Immediate actions must be taken to reinforce and plan this inescapable global trend.

We need to expand trade among the countries of the South. We also need to gear our productive operations to the requirements of other economies in the South on the basis of complementarity of needs and capacities.

We need to implement technology transfer programs among the countries of the South. Not every country acting on its own can achieve the technological sovereignty and leadership that are critical for a new global economy based on justice.

Science must be an asset of humanity as a whole. Science must be placed at the service of everyone’s well-being, without exclusions or hegemonies. A decent future for all the peoples around the world will require integration for liberation, rather than cooperation for domination.

To discharge these worthy tasks to the benefit of the peoples of the world, we have invited Russia and other foreign countries that are our brothers in needs and commitments to join the Group of 77.

Our Group of 77 alliance does not have an institution of its own to give effect to the approaches, statements and action plans of our countries. For this reason, Bolivia proposes that an Institute For Decolonization and South-South Co-operation be established.

This institute will be charged with provision of technical assistance to the countries of the South, as well as further implementation of the proposals made by the Group of 77 plus China.

The institute will also supply technical and capacity-building assistance for development and self-determination, and it will help conduct research projects. We propose that this institute be headquartered in Bolivia.

Sixth: Eradicate hunger among the world’s peoples

It is imperative that hunger be eradicated and that the human right to food be fully exercised and enforced.

Food production must be prioritized with the involvement of small growers and indigenous peasant communities that hold age-old knowledge in regard to this activity.

To be successful in hunger eradication, the countries of the South must lay down the conditions for democratic and equitable access to land ownership, so that monopolies over this resource are not allowed to persist in the form of latifundia. However, fragmentation into small and unproductive plots must not be encouraged either.

Food sovereignty and security must be enhanced through access to healthy foods for the benefit of the people.

The monopoly held by transnational corporations over the supply of farm inputs must be eliminated as a way to foster food security and sovereignty.

Each country must make sure that the supply of the basic food staples consumed by its people is secured by enhancing productive, cultural and environmental practices, and by promoting people-to-people exchanges on the basis of solidarity. Governments have an obligation to ensure the supply of power, the availability of road connections and access to water and organic fertilizers.

Seventh: Strengthen the sovereignty of states free from foreign interference, intervention and/or espionage

Within the framework of the United Nations, a new institutional structure must be promoted in support of a New World Order for Vivir Bien.

The institutions that emerged after World War II, including the United Nations, are in need of a thorough reform today.

International agencies that promote peace, eliminate global hegemonism and advance equality among states are required.

For this reason, the UN Security Council must be abolished. Rather than fostering peace among nations, this body has promoted wars and invasions by imperial powers in their quest for the natural resources available in the invaded countries. Instead of a Security Council, today we have an insecurity council of imperial wars.

No country, no institution and no interest can justify the invasion of one country by another. The sovereignty of states and the internal resolution of the conflicts that exist in any country are the foundation of peace and of the United Nations.

I stand here to denounce the unjust economic blockade imposed on Cuba and the aggressive and illegal policies pursued by the US government against Venezuela, including a legislative initiative offered at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee designed to apply sanctions to that country to the detriment of its sovereignty and political independence, a clear breach of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter.

These forms of persecution and internationally driven coups are the traits of modern colonialism, the colonial practices of our era.

These are our times, the times of the South. We must be able to overcome and heal the wounds caused by fratricidal wars stirred by foreign capitalist interests. We must strengthen our integration schemes in support of our peaceful coexistence, our development and our faith in shared values, such as justice.

Only by standing together will we be able to give decent lives to our peoples.

Eighth: Democratic renewal of our states

The era of empires, colonial hierarchies and financial oligarchies is coming to an end. Everywhere we look, we see peoples around the world calling for their right to play their leading role in history.

The 21st century must be the century of the peoples, the workers, the farmers, the indigenous communities, the youth and the women. In other words, it must be the century of the oppressed.

The realization of the peoples’ leading role requires that democracy be renewed and strengthened. We must supplement electoral democracy with participatory and community-based democracy.

We must move away from limited parliamentary and party-based governance and into the social governance of democracy.

This means that the decision-making process in any state must take into consideration its parliamentary deliberations, but also the deliberations by the social movements that incorporate the life-giving energy of our peoples.

The renovation of democracy in this century also requires that political action represents a full and permanent service to life. This service constitutes an ethical, humane and moral commitment to our peoples, to the humblest masses.

For this purpose, we must reinstate the codes of our ancestors: no robar, no mentir, no ser flujo y no ser adulón [do not steal, do not lie, do not be weak and do not flatter].

Democracy also means distribution of wealth and expansion of the common goods shared by society.

Democracy means subordination of rulers to the decisions of the ruled.

Democracy is not a personal benefit vested in the rulers, nor is it abuse of power. Democracy means serving the people with love and self-sacrifice. Democracy means dedication of time, knowledge, effort and even life itself in the pursuit of the well-being of the peoples and humanity.

Ninth: A new world rising from the South for the whole of humanity

The time has come for the nations of the South.

In the past, we were colonized and enslaved. Our stolen labour built empires in the North.

Today, with every step we take for our liberation, the empires grow decadent and begin to crumble.

However, our liberation is not only the emancipation of the peoples of the South. Our liberation is also for the whole of humanity. We are not fighting to dominate anyone. We are fighting to ensure that no one becomes dominated.

Only we can save the source of life and society: Mother Earth. Our planet is under a death threat from the greed of predatory and insane capitalism.

Today, another world is not only possible, it is indispensable.

Today, another world is indispensable because, otherwise, no world will be possible.

And that other world of equality, complementarity and organic coexistence with Mother Earth can only emerge from the thousands of languages, colours and cultures existing in brotherhood and sisterhood among the Peoples of the South.

 

Evo Morales Ayma, president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia and pro-tempore president of the Group of 77 plus China

Notes

[1] For a recent discussion of this concept, see Raúl Zibechi, Brasil Potencia, now available in English.

[2] A common error of G77 members is to equate anti-imperialist solidarity with political support of member governments. A glaring example was provided by Bolivia’s parliament immediately after the summit, when it awarded a human rights medal to the president of Sri Lanka, whose government is notorious for waging a genocidal war against the country’s minority Tamil nation — strange conduct indeed by Bolivia’s “Plurinational Legislative Assembly.”

[3] United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz planned regime change in Iraq more than 20 years ago … in 1991.

But the goal wasn’t just regime change (or oil).  The goal was to break up the country, and to do away with the sovereignty of Iraq as a separate nation.

The Guardian noted in 2003:

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted devastating consequences for the Middle East if Iraq is attacked. “We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region,” he said.

***

They are probably still splitting their sides with laughter in the Pentagon. But Mr Mubarak and the [Pentagon] hawks do agree on one thing: war with Iraq could spell disaster for several regimes in the Middle East. Mr Mubarak believes that would be bad.The hawks, though, believe it would be good.

For the hawks, disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan.

***

The “skittles theory” of the Middle East – that one ball aimed at Iraq can knock down several regimes – has been around for some time on the wilder fringes of politics but has come to the fore in the United States on the back of the “war against terrorism”.

Its roots can be traced, at least in part, to a paper published in 1996 by an Israeli thinktank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Entitled “A clean break: a new strategy for securing the realm”, it was intended as a political blueprint for the incoming government of Binyamin Netanyahu. As the title indicates, it advised the right-wing Mr Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy “based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism …”

***

The paper set out a plan by which Israel would “shape its strategic environment”, beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad.

With Saddam out of the way and Iraq thus brought under Jordanian Hashemite influence, Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and “roll back” Syria. Jordan, it suggested, could also sort out Lebanon by “weaning” the Shia Muslim population away from Syria and Iran, and re-establishing their former ties with the Shia in the new Hashemite kingdom of Iraq. “Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them”, the paper concluded.

***

The leader of the “prominent opinion makers” who wrote it was Richard Perle – now chairman of the Defence Policy Board at the Pentagon.

Also among the eight-person team was Douglas Feith, a neo-conservative lawyer, who now holds one of the top four posts at the Pentagon as under-secretary of policy.

***

Two other opinion-makers in the team were David Wurmser and his wife, Meyrav (see US thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy, August 19). Mrs Wurmser was co-founder of Memri, a Washington-based charity that distributes articles translated from Arabic newspapers portraying Arabs in a bad light. After working with Mr Perle at the American Enterprise Institute, David Wurmser is now at the State Department, as a special assistant to John Bolton, the under-secretary for arms control and international security.

A fifth member of the team was James Colbert, of the Washington-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Jinsa) – a bastion of neo-conservative hawkery whose advisory board was previously graced by Dick Cheney (now US vice-president), John Bolton and Douglas Feith.

***

With several of the “Clean Break” paper’s authors now holding key positions in Washington, the plan for Israel to “transcend” its foes by reshaping the Middle East looks a good deal more achievable today than it did in 1996. Americans may even be persuaded to give up their lives to achieve it.

(Before assuming prominent roles in the Bush administration, many of the same people – includingRichard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, John Bolton and others – advocated their imperial views during the Clinton administration via their American think tank, the “Project for a New American Century”.)

Thomas Harrington – professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut – writes:

[While there are some good articles on the chaos in Iraq, none of them] consider whetherthe chaos now enveloping the region might, in fact, be the desired aim of policy planners in Washington and Tel Aviv.

***

One of the prime goals of every empire is to foment ongoing internecine conflict in the territories whose resources and/or strategic outposts they covet.

***

The most efficient way of sparking such open-ended internecine conflict is to brutally smash the target country’s social matrix and physical infrastructure.

***

Ongoing unrest has the additional perk of justifying the maintenance and expansion of the military machine that feeds the financial and political fortunes of the metropolitan elite.

In short … divide and rule is about as close as it gets to a universal recourse the imperial game and that it is, therefore, as important to bear it in mind today as it was in the times of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, the Spanish Conquistadors and the British Raj.

To those—and I suspect there are still many out there—for whom all this seems too neat or too conspiratorial, I would suggest a careful side-by side reading of:

a) the “Clean Break” manifesto generated by the Jerusalem-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS) in 1996

and

b) the “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” paper generated by The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in 2000, a US group with deep personal and institutional links to the aforementioned Israeli think tank, and with the ascension of  George Bush Junior to the White House, to the most exclusive  sanctums of the US foreign policy apparatus.

To read the cold-blooded imperial reasoning in both of these documents—which speak, in the first case, quite openly of the need to destabilize the region so as to reshape Israel’s “strategic environment” and, in the second of the need to dramatically increase the number of US “forward bases” in the region ….

To do so now, after the US’s systematic destruction of Iraq and Libya—two notably oil-rich countries whose delicate ethnic and religious balances were well known to anyone in or out of government with more than passing interest in history—, and after the its carefully calibrated efforts to generate and maintain murderous and civilization-destroying stalemates in Syria and Egypt (something that is easily substantiated despite our media’s deafening silence on the subject), is downright blood-curdling.

And yet, it seems that for even very well-informed analysts, it is beyond the pale to raise the possibility that foreign policy elites in the US and Israel, like all virtually all the ambitious hegemons before them on the world stage, might have quite coldly and consciously fomented open-ended chaos in order to achieve their overlapping strategic objectives in this part of the world.

Antiwar’s Justin Raimondo notes:

Iraq’s fate was sealed from the moment we invaded: it has no future as a unitary state. As I pointed out again and again in the early days of the conflict, Iraq is fated to split apart into at least three separate states: the Shi’ite areas around Baghdad and to the south, the Sunni regions to the northwest, and the Kurdish enclave which was itching for independence since well before the US invasion. This was the War Party’s real if unexpressed goal from the very beginning: the atomization of Iraq, and indeed the entire Middle East. Their goal, in short, was chaos – and that is precisely what we are seeing today.

***

As I put it years ago:

“[T]he actual purpose was to blow the country to smithereens: to atomize it, and crush it, so that it would never rise again.

“When we invaded and occupied Iraq, we didn’t just militarily defeat Iraq’s armed forces – we dismantled their army, and their police force, along with all the other institutions that held the country together. The educational system was destroyed, and not reconstituted. The infrastructure was pulverized, and never restored. Even the physical hallmarks of a civilized society – roadsbridgeselectrical plantswater facilitiesmuseumsschools – were bombed out of existence or else left to fall into disrepair. Along with that, the spiritual and psychological infrastructure that enables a society to function – the bonds of trust, allegiance, and custom – was dissolved, leaving Iraqis to fend for themselves in a war of all against all.

“… What we are witnessing in post-Saddam Iraq is the erasure of an entire country. We can say, with confidence: We came, we saw, we atomized.”

Why? This is the question that inevitably arises in the wake of such an analysis: why deliberately destroy an entire country whose people were civilized while our European ancestors were living in trees?

The people who planned, agitated for, and executed this war are the very same people who have advanced Israeli interests – at America’s expense – at every opportunity. In “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” a 1996 document prepared by a gaggle of neocons – Perle, Douglas Feith, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was urged to “break out” of Israel’s alleged stagnation and undertake a campaign of “regime change” across the Middle East, targeting Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and eventually Iran. With the exception of Iran – and that one’s still cooking on the back burner – this is precisely what has occurred. In 2003, in the immediate wake of our Pyrrhic “victory” in Iraq, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared to a visiting delegation of American members of Congress that these “rogue states” – Iran, Libya, and Syria – would have to be next on the War Party’s target list.

(Indeed.)

And Michel Chossudovsky points out:

The division of Iraq along sectarian-ethnic lines has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than 10 years.

What is envisaged by Washington is the outright suppression of the Baghdad regime and the institutions of the central government, leading to a process of political fracturing andthe elimination of Iraq as a country.

This process of political fracturing in Iraq along sectarian lines will inevitably have an impact on Syria, where the US-NATO sponsored terrorists have in large part been defeated.

Destabilization and political fragmentation in Syria is also contemplated: Washington’s intent is no longer to pursue the narrow objective of “regime change” in Damascus. What is contemplated is the break up of both Iraq and Syria along sectarian-ethnic lines.

The formation of the caliphate may be the first step towards a broader conflict in the Middle East, bearing in mind that Iran is supportive of the al-Maliki government and the US ploy may indeed be to encourage the intervention of Iran.

The proposed re-division of both Iraq and Syria is broadly modeled on that of the Federation of Yugoslavia which was split up into seven “independent states” (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia (FYRM), Slovenia, Montenegro, Kosovo).

According to Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, the re division of Iraq into three separate states is part of a broader process of redrawing the Map of the Middle East.

The above map was prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters. It was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006, Peters is a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy. (Map Copyright Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters 2006).

Although the map does not officially reflect Pentagon doctrine, it has been used in a training program at NATO’s Defense College for senior military officers”. (See Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East” By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Global Research, November 2006)

Notes: While a senior Bush adviser said that the Iraq war was launched to protect Israel, that is too simplistic an explanation. The architects of foreign policy in both the U.S. and Israel are either literally one and the same – e.g. Richard Perle – or see things identically.

And if you think things are different under the Obama administration, please note that not only are the Neocons back, they never actually left.

On June 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed down a ruling that will serve as important precedent for the ongoing federal legal battles over the Keystone XL and Flanagan South tar sands pipelines.

In the Delaware Riverkeeper v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) case, judges ruled that a continuous pipeline project cannot be segmented into multiple parts to avoid a comprehensive National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. This is what Kinder Morgan proposed and did for its Northeast Upgrade Project.

As reported on DeSmogBlog, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did the same thing to streamline permitting for both the southern leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL and Enbridge’s Flanagan South. Sierra Club and co-plaintiffs were denied injunctions for both pipelines in October and November 2013, respectively.

Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC dealt with breaking up a new 40-mile long pipeline upgrade into four segments. For the other two cases, the Army Corps of Engineers shape-shifted the two projects — both hundreds of miles long each — into thousands of “single and complete” projects for permitting purposes.

On the day of the Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC decision, Sierra Club attorney Doug Hayes submitted the case as supplemental authority for the ongoing Flanagan South case.

On May 5, Hayes also submitted paperwork to appeal the Keystone XL South decision in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which was docketed by the clerk of Ccurt the next day.

Hayes told DeSmogBlog his side will file an opening brief for the appeal on July 30. It seems likely Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC will be a key part of that appeal.

In a sign of the importance of the outcome for the oil and gas industry, the American Petroleum Institute (API) entered the Sierra Club v. Army Corps of Engineers case on Keystone XL as an intervenor on May 16, represented by corporate law firm Hunton & Williams.

At the federal level, Hunton & Williams lobbies on behalf of Koch Industries, a company with a major stake in tar sands leases and refining.

“No Uncertain Terms”

Hayes told DeSmogBlog that Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC could prove a game-changer for the Keystone XL southern leg (now dubbed the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project) appeal, the Flanagan South decision and far beyond.

“Delaware Riverkeeper is important in many respects,” Hayes said.

“In general, the D.C. Circuit is considered the second most powerful court in the country and here it held, in no uncertain terms, that agencies must analyze all parts of these interrelated projects under NEPA to get the full picture of the environmental impacts.”

Photo Credit: C-Span Screenshot

The case depicts a collision between long-standing principles of environmental law and President Barack Obama’s March 2012 Executive Order expediting pipeline reviews — an order issued six days after delivering a speech in front of the pipe segments that would two years later be pieced together as Keystone XL South, now open for business.

Executive Order 13604

Executive Order 13604, signed on March 28, 2012, said

“agencies shall…coordinate and expedite their reviews…as necessary to expedite decisions related to domestic pipeline infrastructure projects that would contribute to a more efficient domestic pipeline system for the transportation of crude oil.”

The Army Corps of Engineers’ deployment of Nationwide Permit 12 — usually reserved for smaller infrastructure projects — served as the weapon of choice to “coordinate and expedite their reviews” for TransCanada‘s Gulf Coast Pipeline Project and Enbridge‘s Flanagan South.

In fulfilling the dictates of Executive Order 13604, both TransCanada and Enbridge have dodged doing a more robust NEPA analysis.

“The oil industry has gone to great lengths to break projects into thousands of smaller pieces to avoid a true analysis of pipelines’ environmental impacts,” Hayes said.

Doug Hayes; Photo Credit: Sierra Club Environmental Law Program

“This has been especially true of the Enbridge system, and of pipelines that are approved by the Corps using Nationwide Permit 12. In Flanagan South, NEPA was unquestionably triggered because the agencies prepared three separate EAs for different parts of the pipeline.”

In other words, the approach called for by Executive Order 13604 may no longer hold legal water.

“The issue is whether agencies can segment a project into smaller pieces, and prepare a narrow analysis for each part, without looking at an entire project in a single NEPA analysis,” said Hayes.

“The Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC decision was a resounding ‘no.’ It held that a linear pipeline can only be ‘segmented’ into smaller components if the individual parts would have independent utility.”

Pipeline companies put “on notice”

Aaron Stemplewicz, Delaware Riverkeeper’s attorney for the case, said the court’s precedent-setting decision should put all pipeline companies “on notice.”

“The D.C. Circuit’s decision today should put other pipeline companies on notice that the practice of segmenting pipeline projects before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will no longer be tolerated,” he told New Jersey’s Star-Ledger.

As evidenced by the May 16 API intervention in the Sierra Club v. Army Corps of Engineers case, the oil industry has taken notice. So too has corporate law firm giant K&L Gates, issuing a memo on the Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC ruling published June 20, just two weeks after the decision was handed down.

“Some may say, so what?,” wrote K&L Gates.

“The projects are already built, so if the agency has to go through an academic and theoretical exercise, it has no real world implications. Those who think this do so at their own peril.”

“Future investors and developers should be concerned…[that] these decisions may well impact how FERC, and other agencies, consider future ‘related’ projects.”

Hunton & Williams, API’s counsel for Sierra Club v. Army Corps of Engineersalso issued its own client alert on Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC, serving as a prelude to what will be its ongoing involvement in chipping away at the ruling.

Clearly, both sides have taken notice. With both billions of dollars of industry profits and a sustainable planet at stake, to the victors go the spoils.

It looked just like an infomercial, but with a lot more frowning.

In an example of Orwellian newspeak, the CNN show The Lead with Jake Tapper took on Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth over its decision to distribute information pamphlets outside the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero in New York City. The pamphlets mimic the design of the “official” ones, but instead of the official story, they contain key scientific forensic evidence indicating that the three World Trade Center towers were brought down with explosives and incendiaries. Unlike the official version, the photo on the cover of the AE pamphlet shows the Twin Towers and Building 7.

The Tapper report is a hysterical compendium of all the empty slogans and anti-conspiracy-theory talking points that make up the mainstream media’s continuing attack on the 9/11 Truth Movement. It didn’t take more than a couple of seconds into the report to see how Tapper was going to play the story.

CNN Fake OutHe tells us that “the conspiracy group” AE911Truth plans to stand outside the museum and hand out fake museum pamphlets that look exactly like the real ones. The volunteers handing them out are described as “so-called truthers,” and the whole exercise is labeled an “affront to the victims’ families.”

“Can’t these people give it a rest for one day out of respect for the families?” an exasperated Tapper queries, adding that the 9/11 memorial is “sacred.” Indeed, since 9/11 itself, the grounds have been transformed from a place of truth-seeking to a pathologically sacred shrine to “not asking questions about 9/11.”

Tapper contends that truthers are using the opening of the museum as an opportunity to spread their lies about the attacks. He reads from the AE pamphlet: “Welcome to the other 9/11 story,” but then adds, “the false one.”

Of AE, he says:

“Of course they don’t prove anything except for man’s capacity to believe crazy things and man’s insensitivity to, for instance, the families of the approximately 3,000 people killed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in a field in Pennsylvania by Islamic terrorists with al-Qaeda, as every credible investigation has actually proven.”

CNN-brochure comparison scareBrochure comparison: Official vs Unofficial

I’m not sure if he’s talking about the 9/11 Commission Report, which even commission members have called a “cover-up,” or the NIST report, which the 2,100 technical and building professionals with Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth have shown to be rooted in fantasy, not science.

Tapper had on the air as his guest Emily Bazelon, a senior editor of Slate magazine, whose job it was to help Tapper figure out just what is psychologically motivating all these “truthers.”

She says,

“Usually, with a conspiracy theory, you imagine that people are trying to make sense of the senseless. But with 9/11, we have a real conspiracy called al-Qaeda. And so, one has to imagine that the anti-government motivation of the 9/11 truthers is really what’s driving this. Because if you could imagine the government made up 9/11 as a hoax, then the government is completely monstrous, and there’s no reason to believe anything any federal official says, and certainly no reason to pay your taxes.”

Wow. This “journalist” does a lot of imagining.

First, she admits that her pet theory about making sense of the senseless (which we hear regularly from the official story apologists) doesn’t fit the situation. But that doesn’t deter her, as her remarks then take a turn toward the surreal. In her world, if you don’t unquestioningly swallow whole the story of Islamic terrorists with box cutters, then you must think every government official is in on it, and therefore you don’t have to continue funding that government.

Perhaps Ms. Bazelon, who seems to pluck her theories out of thin air with absolutely no basis in fact or evidence, could provide us with even one example of a 9/11 truther whose views have their genesis in an anti-government sentiment or in a desire to avoid paying taxes. I wonder if either Bazelon or Tapper could come up with anything at all to back up anything they say in this report.

Still frowning, Tapper asks, “What happens when this nonsense hits the echo chamber of the Internet?” This prompts more incoherence from Bazelon:

“You see these dark corners of the Internet where people pile on, and there’s this minute parsing of the technicalities of the supposed evidence, and more and more detail gets added and accumulated, and it kind of feeds on itself,” she responds.

HCNN Bazelon Newspeakuh? Is that sort of like saying that people on the Internet examine all the evidence and accumulate and discuss their findings? Perhaps if the mainstream media did some examining of evidence, then the truth about 9/11 might be clearer to everyone by now, including their viewers. But that doesn’t appear to be their role in this scenario.

Not to be outdone, Tapper risks straining himself with some political analysis.

“Historically, we see that these conspiracies come after very upsetting events like the Kennedy assassination, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. – is there a pattern there?”

Could it be that people get upset by conspiracies to kill public figures for political reasons, and they get just as upset when the government and media collaborate in covering them up? And could it be that one of the reasons these events are so upsetting is that the conventional explanations for them are so transparently fraudulent?

Furthermore, these explanations are always wrapped in phony emotion so that the rational doesn’t have to be addressed. Do we all see that pattern? Our “journalist” friends would have us believe that the only appropriate way that we can and should react to an event like 9/11 is emotionally. The museum itself focuses on the heroism and the emotion of the day – whatever it takes to stay away from the facts, which overwhelmingly contradict the paper-thin official story.

Tapper attempts to clarify just what truthers are actually saying:

“And the idea here is not just that the three buildings were destroyed by explosives, but that it’s all part of this grand conspiracy where the U.S. government – and let me state, if I haven’t made it clear enough, none of this is true, this is all just crazy talk – that the U.S. government faked it, killed all these people intentionally, and it was just to start a war in Iraq and another one in Afghanistan. Is that the idea they’re going for here?”

Here’s where even Bazelon has to admit there were some problems with how the Iraq war started.

“That’s the idea, and just to state it is to show how horrifying it is. I suppose that given that the American government did put forward some false ideas to motivate going into Iraq – in particular the whole idea that there were weapons of mass destruction there – that’s the tiny, tiny kernel of truth that is in some way related to this completely crazy theory.”

“Some false ideas.” Bazelon can’t even bring herself to state that the governmentlied to the American people to go to war. She minimizes the importance of these “false ideas,” which have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and she makes sure to get the word “crazy” in there to counter her subtle admission that the war was started under false pretenses.

Up to this point in the report, the really big gun hasn’t been brought out, but Tapper takes care of that with his predictable accusation that truthers are motivated by anti-Semitism.

“There’s also a lot of scapegoating with the 9/11 truther stuff,” he says. “There’s anti-Semitism, anti-Israel, anti-corporations.”

Anti-corporations? Is that exclusive to 9/11 truthers? Are we to understand that being critical of corporations now pegs one as a conspiracy theorist as well? From her place in the official story echo chamber, Bazelon responds:

“Exactly. And I think you see these virulent strains that are related to each other from familiar right-wing talk, and they all get weirdly braided together in this particular theory.”

The anti-Semitism charge is a common one, and it seems to be thrown at truthers more and more often as time goes on (the theme of “contagion” with the term “virulent strains” is also a part of this). The physics of 9/11 are not anti-Semitic; neither is anything else on the popular 9/11 Truth Movement website,AE911Truth.org.

During his recent Canadian tour, AE911Truth founder Richard Gage, AIA, was interviewed by Sun News journalist Michael Coren, who accused truthers in general and Gage in particular of believing that all the Jews were told to stay away from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Coren even used the word “virulent.” Of course, Gage has never made such a comment (I covered this in two recent articles on my blog, Truth and Shadowshere and here). All the same talking points that we see in the CNN piece were there in Coren’s report.

This propaganda masquerading as news is actually a carefully crafted attack on anyone who questions what the media tell us and on anyone who is not satisfied with the official cover-up of 9/11, and it is far from the only recent example. Newsweek, for example, has just produced a cover story ominously entitled, “The plots to destroy America.” In this attack on “conspiracy theorists,” we are told that it goes beyond craziness and insensitivity – that public health and public policy are threatened by those who question the official line.

It seems that those of us who question 9/11 must be making progress if the mainstream media have to pull out this kind of propaganda against the Movement. It also seems that the purveyors of the 9/11 official story may have assumed enormous risk in deciding to enshrine their story in a museum of glass, steel, and concrete, because now they have given the Truth Movement a focal point on which to direct their efforts to expose the fraudulent events and criminal perpetrators of 9/11.

Craig McKee is a journalist and the creator of the blog Truth and Shadows

A final number for real US GDP growth in the first quarter of 2014 was released today. The number is not the 2.6% growth rate predicted by the know-nothing economists in January of this year. The number is a decline in GDP of -2.9 percent.

The negative growth rate of -2.9 percent is itself an understatement. This number was achieved by deflating nominal GDP with an understated measure of inflation. During the Clinton regime, the Boskin Commission rigged the inflation measure in order to cheat Social Security recipients out of their cost-of-living adjustments. Anyone who purchases food, fuel, or anything knows that inflation is much higher than the officially reported number.

It is possible that the drop in first quarter real GDP is three times the official number.

Regardless, the difference is large between the January forecast of +2.6 percent growth and the decline as of the end of March of -2.9 percent.

Any economist who is real and unpaid by Wall Street, the government, or the Establishment knew that the +2.6 percent forecast was a crock. Americans’ incomes have not grown except for the one percent, and the only credit growth is in student loans, as those many who cannot find jobs mistakenly turn to “education is the answer.”

In an economy based on consumer demand, the absence of income and credit growth means no economic growth.

The US economy cannot grow because corporations pushed by Wall Street have moved the US economy offshore. US manufactured products are made offshore.

Look at the labels on your clothes, your shoes, your eating and cooking utensils, your computers, whatever. US professional jobs such as software engineering have been moved offshore. An economy with an offshored economy is not an economy.  All of this happened in full view, while well-paid free market shills declared that Americans were benefiting from giving America’s middle class jobs to China and India.

I have been exposing these lies for a decade or two, which is why I am no longer invited to speak at American universities or to American economic associations. Economists love the money that they receive for lying. A truth teller is the last thing that they want in their midst.

An official decline of -2.9 percent in the first quarter implies a second quarter GDP decline. Two declines in a row is the definition of recession.

Imagine the consequences of a recession. It means that years of unprecedented Quantitative Easing failed to revive the economy. It means that years of Keynesian fiscal deficits failed to revive the economy. Neither fiscal nor monetary policy worked. What then can revive the economy

Nothing except to force the return of the economy that the anti-American corporations moved offshore. This would require credible government. Unfortunately, the US government has been losing credibility since the second term of the Clinton regime. It has none left.

Today no one anywhere in the world believes the US government except the brain dead Americans who read and listen to the “mainstream media.” Washington’s propaganda dominates the minds of Americans, but produces laughter and scorn everywhere else.

The poor US economic outlook has brought America’s two largest business lobbies–the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (or what is left of them) into conflict with the Obama regime’s threat of further sanctions against Russia.

According to Bloomberg News, beginning tomorrow (June 26), the business groups will run advertisements in the New York Times, Wall St Journal, and Washington Post opposing any further sanctions on Russia. The US business organizations say that the sanctions will harm their profits and result in layoffs of American workers.

Thus, America’s two largest business organizations, important sources of political campaign contributions, have finally added their voice to the voices of German, French, and Italian business.

Everyone, except the brainwashed American public, knows that the “crisis in Ukraine” is entirely the work of Washington. European and American businesses are asking: “why should our profits and our workers take hits in behalf of Washington’s propaganda against Russia.”

Obama has no answer. Perhaps his neocon scum, Victoria Nuland, Samantha Powers, and Susan Rice can come up with an answer. Obama can look to the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Weekly Standard to explain why millions of Americans and Europeans should suffer in order that Washington’s theft of Ukraine is not endangered.

Washington’s lies are catching up with Obama. German chancellor Merkel is Washington’s complete whore, but German industry is telling Washington’s whore that they value their business with Russia more than they value suffering in behalf of Washington’s empire. French businessmen are asking Hollande what he proposes to do with their unemployed workers if Holland goes along with Washington. Italian businesses are reminding that government, to the extent that Italy has one, that uncouth Americans have no tastes and that sanctions on Russia mean a hit to Italy’s most famous and best recognized economic sector–high style luxury products.

Dissent with Washington and Washington’s two-bit puppet rulers in Europe is spreading. The latest poll in Germany reveals that three-quarters of Germany’s population reject permanent NATO bases in Poland and the Baltic states. The former Czechoslovakia, currently Slovakia and the Czech Republic, although NATO members, have rejected NATO and American troops and bases on their territory. Recently, a German minister said that pleasing Washington required giving free oral sex for nothing in return.

The strains that Washington’s morons are putting on NATO might break the organization apart. Pray that it does. NATO’s excuse for existence disappeared with the Soviet collapse 23 years ago. Yet, Washington has increased NATO far beyond the borders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO now runs from the Baltics to Central Asia. In order to have a reason for NATO’s continued expensive operation, Washington has had to construct an enemy out of Russia.

Russia has no intention of being Washington’s or NATO’s enemy and has made that perfectly clear. But Washington’s military/security complex, which absorbs about $1 trillion annually of US hard-pressed taxpayers’ money, needs an excuse to keep the profits flowing.

Unfortunately the Washington morons picked a dangerous enemy. Russia is a nuclear armed power, a country of vast dimensions, and with a strategic alliance with China.

Only a government drowning in arrogance and hubris or a government run by psychopaths and sociopaths would pick such an enemy.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has pointed out to Europe that Washington’s policies in the Middle East and Libya are not merely total failures but also devastatingly harmful to Europe and Russia.  The fools in Washington have removed the governments that suppressed the jihadists. Now the violent jihadists are unleashed. In the Middle East the jihadists are at work remaking the artificial boundaries set by the British and French in the aftermath of World War I.

Europe, Russia and China have Muslim populations and now must worry if the violence that Washington has unleashed will bring destabilization to regions of Europe, Russia and China.

No one anywhere in the world has any reason to love Washington. Least of all Americans, who are being bled dry in order that Washington can parade military force around the world.  Obama’s approval rating is a dismal 41 percent and no one wants Obama to remain in office once his second term is complete. In contrast, two-thirds of the Russian population want Putin to remain president after 2018.

In March the poling agency, Public Opinion Research Center, released a report that Putin’s approval rating stood at 76 percent despite the agitation against him by the US financed Russian NGOs, hundreds of fifth column institutions that Washington established in Russia during the past two decades.

On top of US political troubles, the US dollar is in trouble. The dollar is kept afloat by rigged financial markets and Washington’s pressure on its vassal states to support the dollar’s value by printing their own currencies and purchasing dollars. In order to keep the dollar afloat, much of the world will be inflated. When people finally catch on and rush into gold, the Chinese will have it all.

Sergey Glazyev, an adviser to President Putin, has told the Russian president than only an anti-dollar alliance that crashes the US dollar can halt Washington’s aggression. That has long been my opinion. There can be no peace as long as Washington can print more money with which to finance more wars.

As the Chinese government stated, it is time to “de-Americanize the world.” Washington’s leadership has totally failed the world, producing nothing but lies, violence, death, and the promise of more violence. America is exceptional only in the fact that Washington has, without remorse, destroyed in whole or part seven countries in the new 21st century. Unless Washington is replaced with more humane leadership, life on earth has no future.

The letter from Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights is followed by the statement from 11 human rights organisations.

 

For the attention of: Right Hon William Hague MP

Right Hon William Hague MP
Foreign Secretary
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
City of Westminster
London
SW1A 2AH

Email: [email protected]

24 June 2014

Dear Mr. Hague,

Re: Unnecessary violation of fundamental human rights and collective punishment by Israeli military during Operation Brother’s Keeper

We write further to disturbing reports of Israel’s recent extensive military activity in the occupied West Bank which raise serious concerns regarding unnecessary violation of fundamental human rights and collective punishment. We urge the British government to ensure that Israel’s military cease actions which disregard the safety, welfare and basic rights of the Palestinian population.

Reports of widespread rights violations during Operation Brother’s Keeper

Human rights organisations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory have been documenting Israel’s extensive military incursions in the West Bank as part of their action called Operation Brother’s Keeper, beginning 12 June 2014, and the associated harm caused to Palestinian individuals and communities. These reports indicate that the current military action being implemented to gain the safe return of the abducted Israeli teenagers – Eyal Yifrah, Naftali and Gil-Ad Shaar – is being conducted without full adherence to relevant human rights norms of international law.

Military incursions, mass arrests and house raids

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported on 21 June 2014 that the Israeli military had conducted more than 220 incursions into Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps in the West Bank, and arrested at least 320 Palestinian civilians, including the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and six of its members. The Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association report that ‘none of those arrested have been charged, in direct violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides that all those arrested should be informed of their charges upon arrest.’

B’Tselem reports there have been over 1,000 house raids and that, in some cases, the Israeli military has appeared to have also caused damage to property.

Fatalities and injuries to Palestinian civilians

Two Palestinian youths have been killed by the alleged firing of live ammunition by the Israeli military: 15 year old Mohammed Dudin from Dura, a minor, and 20 year old Ahmad Samada from Jalazoun. A third Palestinian civilian, 27 year old Ahmad Said Khalid from al-‘Ein Refugee Camp, was reportedly shot dead by the Israeli military at close range when on his way to a mosque for dawn prayers, because he did not obey orders to stop. His family reports that he suffered from mental health problems and epilepsy.

There have additionally been several reported injuries from military house raids and clashes according to corroborated reports from human rights organisations.

Severe movement restrictions

Severe movement restrictions have been imposed on Palestinian residents of Hebron, including preventing all Hebron residents under age 50 from leaving Israel via the Allenby border terminal and preventing entry to Israel for work. Gisha reports that the already severe restrictions on movement of persons and goods to and from Gaza have been intensified.

Administrative detention

B’Tselem reports that the Israeli Minister of Internal Security has been authorized to set guidelines for making prison conditions harsher and that family visits have been cancelled for all Palestinian prisoners. In addition, according to information published by Addameer on 19 June 2014, 77 Palestinians have been apprehended as administrative detainees since the start of Operation Brother’s Keeper.

LPHR has long had serious concerns over Israel’s normalised use of detention without charge or trial on the basis of secret information. Figures published by Addameer show that on 1 May 2014 there were 192 Palestinian administrative detainees in Israeli custody. This huge figure, which is significantly inflated since the commencement of Operation Brother’s Keeper, strongly suggests that Israel is utilising administrative detention as a matter of routine practice in breach of international law, rather than as a permissible exceptional measure.

Urgent intervention required to protect the Palestinian population during Operation Brother’s Keeper

The various extensive actions taken by the Israeli military as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper raise serious concerns of disproportionate and unnecessary violations of basic rights. of Palestinians under international law, including the right to life. Moreover, their cumulativeffect appears to amount to the implementation of collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population of the West Bank and Gaza, which is absolutely prohibited by international humanitarian law.

We therefore respectfully request the following steps are urgently undertaken by the British government:

1. Urge the Israeli government to fully adhere to their international legal obligations to respect the welfare and safety of the Palestinian population by ceasing action which violate basic rights and appears to amount to the implementation of collective punishment;

2. Urge the Israeli government to ensure that the Israeli military commence thorough, credible and transparent criminal investigations into the deaths and serious injuries caused to Palestinian civilians during the course of Operation Brother’s Keeper, including: Mohammed Dudin, Ahmad Samada, and Ahmad Said Khalid;

3. Urge the Israeli government to immediately withdraw the reported harsher conditions imposed on Palestinian prisoners held in the West Bank and in Israel; and

4. Urge the Israeli government to release all administrative detainees or prosecute them in accordance with the standards of due process for the offences allegedly committed.

We look forward to your urgent intervention and for your written response.

Yours sincerely,

Tareq Shrourou
Director, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights


Image: What are the principles of intervention? “We could not and did not turn a blind eye when Gaddafi turned his forces against innocent civilians” said British foreign secretary William Hague, here in Benghazi, June 2011, where he travelled in order to offer judicious support to the Libyan rebels against Gaddafi. Photo by Ian Nicholson/AFP/Getty Images

 

Human Rights Organizations: “Refrain from Collectively Punishing Palestinians.”

Media release from 11 human rights’ organisations
June 22, 2014

Concern that many of the military’s actions in the Occupied Territories do not directly serve the aim of locating and returning the three abducted Israelis and are severely and unnecessarily violating basic human rights.


Image: IDF soldiers still on armed patrols/searches in Hebron, Thursday, June 19, 2014. Photo by Majdi Mohammed / AP

This morning, 22 June 2014, human rights organizations active in the Occupied Territories sent an urgent letter to the heads of the Israeli security establishment and military commanders in the West Bank, demanding that they refrain from collectively punishing the civilian Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper. The letter also demanded that the more stringent restrictions imposed on the detention conditions of Palestinian prisoners be withdrawn.

The letter – by the directors of Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Gisha, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Yesh Din, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights and Breaking the Silence – was sent to the Minister of Defense and Minister of Public Security and made clear that the abductions constitute a violation of the fundamental principles of law and morals and must be condemned. The need to return the abducted Israelis safe and sound to their homes and families is clear. Yet, there is concern that many of the actions undertaken harm the Palestinian population and do not serve this purpose.

The large number of raids and arrests over the last week raises concerns that some of these operations are not the result of pressing operational needs. Overall, the measures adopted and their extent do not seem to serve a military need that can justify the damage they have caused. This is the case in terms of the military activity that has taken place in city centers as well as the sweeping and arbitrary travel restrictions. These actions have caused, and continue to cause, disproportionate harm to the basic rights of Palestinians, including the right to safety, health, freedom of movement and the right to earn a living.

Furthermore, the imposition of restrictive and punitive conditions on Palestinian prisoners solely because of their organizational affiliation is a blatant violation of the prohibition against collective punishment. Similarly, in terms of administrative detainees, it is hard not to question if there is really an immediate, essential military need that entailed the swift detention without trial of dozens of people.

The undersigned organizations emphasize that actions designed to intimidate and pressure the local population are illegal and untenable.

The following organizations signed the letter:

Amnesty International, B’Tselem,
Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement,
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel,
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel,
HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual,
Yesh Din, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel,
Rabbis for Human Rights, Breaking the Silence.

The first of a new generation of genetically modified crops is poised to win government approval in the United States, igniting a controversy that may continue for years, and foreshadowing the future of genetically modified crops.

The agribusiness industry says the plants—soy and corn engineered to tolerate two herbicides, rather than one—are a safe, necessary tool to help farmers fight so-called superweeds. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture appear to agree.

However, many health and environmental groups say the crops represent yet another step on what they call a pesticide treadmill: an approach to farming that relies on ever-larger amounts of chemical use, threatening to create even more superweeds and flood America’s landscapes with potentially harmful compounds.

Public comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft review of the crops will be accepted until June 30. As of now, both the EPA and USDA’s reviews favor approval. Their final decisions are expected later this summer.

“We’re at a crossroads here,” said Bill Freese, a science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group. “With these, we’re dramatically increasing farmer dependence on herbicides.” In a letter to the USDA, the Center and 143 other public-interest and environmental groups warned of a “chemical arms race with weeds,” in which the new crops offer “at best temporary relief.”

The crops under consideration were engineered by Dow AgroSciences, a Dow Chemical Company subsidiary. They’re part of what Dow calls the Enlist Weed Control System: Enlist, a proprietary mixture of glyphosate and 2,4-D herbicides, and the plants onto which Enlist can be sprayed without causing them harm as it kills surrounding weeds.

A similar approach to designing solely glyphosate-tolerant crops—Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait—has made glyphosate the most widely-used herbicide in the United States. Those crops now account for more than 80 percent of U.S. corn and cotton, and 93 percent of all American soybeans.

When Roundup Ready crops were first introduced in the 1990s, some scientists warned that weeds would eventually evolve tolerance to glyphosate: After all, any herbicide-hardy weed would have an enormous reproductive advantage. Monsanto said that wouldn’t happen. It did, sooner rather than later. Such weeds are now an enormous problem, infesting roughly 75 million acres of fields, an area roughly equivalent to the size of Arizona.

Farmers have been sent scrambling for solutions, and products like Enlist andsimilar multiple herbicide-resistant crops developed by other companies are the agriculture industry’s solution. “Enlist Duo herbicide will help solve the tremendous weed control challenges growers are facing,” said Damon Palmer, the U.S. commercial leader for Enlist, in a press release accompanying the EPA’s draft announcement.

According to Dow, weed resistance can be forestalled this time around. But critics say it’s inevitable, and that applying 2,4-D at the anticipated landscape scales could harm both humans and the natural environment. The companies consider those fears to be overblown and based on a biased interpretation of the science. That is also what critics say of them.

If there’s any common ground, it’s this: If the Enlist system is approved, much more herbicide will be used in the United States. According to the USDA, somewhere between 78 and 176 million pounds of additional 2,4-D could be used on U.S. crops by 2020, up from 26 million in 2011.

Herbicides and Health

Among the galaxy of chemicals found in agriculture and everyday modern life, 2,4-D is comparatively well-researched. Scores of studies over the last several decades have looked for population-level patterns linking exposures to human health problems, or described the effects on animals experimentally exposed to 2,4-D.

Considerable disagreement exists, however, on how to interpret that research. Critics of the 2,4-D resistant crops emphasize the population-level epidemiology, which raises cause for concern. Dow and the EPA place much more weight on results from laboratory animal exposures, from which the effects of anticipated human exposures are extrapolated.

Based on the animal research, “we have looked at the possibility that Enlist could be used on every acre of corn and soybeans and concluded there would be no human health risk from such use,” the EPA said in a statement provided to WIRED.

Their evaluation fits with the state of the science as described by Dow toxicologist and former Society of Toxicology president James Bus, who said that even farm workers who handle 2,4-D on a daily basis are exposed to levels “that are 1,000-fold below doses which in animals cause no effect.”

“Almost all the key toxicology studies are in the peer-reviewed public literature. They’re not hidden in company files,” said Bus, who described the misgivings of Enlist’s critics as resulting from a lack of familiarity with the literature, or giving too much credence to findings of harm that involved unrealistically high doses or impure 2,4-D formulations.

In turn, the Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy group, said in a June 4 letter to the EPA that the agency’s health reviews were flawed, incomplete and “significantly underestimate the real harm to human health.”

Broadly speaking, health concerns fall into two categories: whether 2,4-d might cause cancer, and whether 2,4-D might disrupt the human endocrine system, perhaps causing reproductive or neurological damage. On a possible link to cancer, most research suggests otherwise: Both the EPA and World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer Research have previously declared that 2,4-D does not appear to be carcinogenic to humans.

more recent review of the epidemiology by two WHO cancer researchers did find a significant link between 2,4-D exposures and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Dow’s own review of the epidemiology, published in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, found no connection.

On the risk of endocrine disruption, however, the science is more ambiguous. The EPA acknowledged in a 2005 evaluation of 2,4-D that, based on experimental effects on animal thyroids and gonads, “there is concern regarding its endocrine disruption potential.” But Bus pointed to a recent Dow-run study of rat exposures that figured prominently in the EPA’s evaluation and was published last September in the journal Toxicological Sciences. In those experiments, damage arose only at exposure levels far higher than is found in real-world settings.

Some research has pointed in a different direction, though. In a 2012 letter to the EPA, a group of 70 public health scientists and health professionals cited several population-level epidemiological studies that linked 2,4-D exposures and birth defects in several midwestern states.

Epidemiology shows statistical correlations, not cause-and-effect, and is necessarily messy: It can be hard to isolate one chemical’s signal from a sea of variable factors. On the other hand, epidemiology deals with real-world dynamics, and for 2,4-D resonates with some experimental observations. In a 2008Environmental Health article researchers wrote that “even though the evidence is sparse, some chlorophenoxy herbicides, in particular 2,4-D, have neurotoxic potentials and may cause developmental neurotoxicity.”

One of the study’s authors was environmental health professor Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health. Asked whether he still stood by that claim, Grandjean said that he does. “We know too little about the risks of developmental neurotoxicity” to dismiss concerns, he said.

A 2009 Archives of Neurology study also found suggestions of a link between 2,4-D exposures and Parkinson’s disease, though the number of cases was small. According to EPA, such reports will continue to be monitored as Enlist use is periodically reviewed, but may have resulted from older 2,4-D formulations that were contaminated by dioxin, an extremely toxic compound generated as a byproduct of 2,4-D manufacture.

Dioxin contamination is “no longer a factor in the modern manufacturing processes for 2,4-D,” said the EPA in its draft review. Again, critics are not reassured. “When you’re cooking it up, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up with dioxins being formed,” said Lynn Carroll, senior scientist at the nonprofit Endocrine Disruption Exchange.

A 2010 Environmental Science & Technology study by Australian toxicologists of dioxin contamination in 2,4-D found it to be an ongoing concern, though Enlist was not among the formulations evaluated. While buyers of Enlist seeds will be contractually obligated to use Dow’s reportedly cleaner formulations, Freese worries that farmers will evade those restrictions. “Based on general knowledge of enforcement of regulations in the field, it seems extremely likely that a lot of 2,4-D use will involve generic versions,” he said.

Schematic showing possible routes of 2,4-D through the environment.

Schematic showing possible routes of 2,4-D through the environment.  EPA

Environmental Impacts

In addition to possible human health impacts, many questions remain about the effects of 2,4-D on ecological health. In its statement to WIRED, the EPA said, “We are confident that there will be no off-site exposure to the choline salt of 2,4-D”—Dow’s new formulation—”that would be of concern for effects to plant or animals.”

But the agency’s own ecological risk assessment strikes a more uncertain tone: While stating that 2,4-D poses no direct poisoning threat to birds, fish, aquatic plants or insects, it noted a lack of empirical information about risks to mammals and terrestrial plants. “There is insufficient information to determine how the proposed new uses of 2,4-D choline salt will directly affect mammals … and terrestrial plants, and indirectly affect all taxonomic groups,” wrote the EPA’s ecologists.

That plants in areas adjacent to farm fields, or receiving soil-runoff water expected to contain 2,4-D, could be at risk seems self-evident: After all, 2,4-D is a herbicide, toxic to most plants that don’t have needles for leaves. “There are more and more concerns being raised about the drift problem,” said agroecologist Bruce Maxwell of Montana State University.

“These field edges are some of the last remaining harbors” of biodiversity in the midwestern United States, Maxwell said. They provide vital habitat and forage to many animals, in particular pollinators such as bees and butterflies, populations of which are in precipitous decline. The collapse of monarch butterflies has already been tied to the rise of glyphosate use.

The EPA’s draft review of Enlist, which emphasized the “practically non-toxic” direct effect of 2,4-D on bees, gave little weight to indirect effects, in part because the agency assumes farmers will use Enlist in ways that minimize its accidental spread beyond field edges. “If this product is used according to the label directions, no unreasonable adverse effects would result,” said the EPA in its statement.

It may be unreasonable, though, to expect farmers to always follow those directions, which include recommendations that Enlist not be sprayed closer than 30 feet to field edges, when wind is blowing above 2 and below 10 miles per hour, or when it’s too hot and dry. “Everyone knows these assumptions are unreal,” said Freese.

The Future of Superweeds

Such tensions between intentions and expediency are also evident in arguments over the potential for weeds to evolve in response to heavy 2,4-D and glyphosate use, just as they did in response to glyphosate alone.

According to Dow, this is unlikely, both because 2,4-D resistance is a relatively difficult trait for plants to acquire and because the company is committed to promoting growing practices—such as crop rotations and non-chemical weed control measures—that reduce selection pressures favoring herbicide-tolerant weeds.

Yet tolerance to 2,4-D has already been documented in several weed species that have elsewhere become glyphosate-resistant superweeds, including waterhempand horseweed. Particularly troubling, said Maxwell, is the existence of mutations that confer broad-spectrum herbicide tolerance. These could spread through weed populations much more rapidly than constellations of several mutations, each conferring a piecemeal defense.

Weeds that can survive doses of multiple herbicides have already been found—not 2,4-D and glyphosate, at least not yet, but the potential is clearly there. “Stacking up tolerance traits may delay the appearance of resistant weeds, but probably not for long,” concluded a recent Nature editorial, which also argued that real-world practicalities may preclude good intentions.

“A farmer making good money in the age of biofuel crop subsidies may be loath to switch to a different crop,” wrote Nature‘s editors. “And farmers may be hesitant to invest the money needed to properly manage weeds, when their farms could end up infested with weeds from less-assiduous neighbours.”

Herbicide resistance expert Pat Tranel of the University of Illinois said that multiple herbicide-resistant crops like Enlist could be useful tools for farmers, “but we’re concerned that, as with any new tool, it will be overused.”

Ideally, said Tranel, “we’d be using herbicides as part of a system, and using other strategies such as crop rotation and more-diversified cropping.” Indeed, research by Tranel’s colleague Adam Davis has demonstrated the industrial-scale potentialof such a balanced approach. But for now, said Tranel, “that’s not perceived as an economic alternative.”

The EPA’s draft assessment does not require farmers to rotate Enlist and non-Enlist crops. Instead, responsibility for slowing the rise of future superweeds is given largely to Dow. Farmers will be asked to scout their fields, reporting signs of Enlist-resistant weeds to Dow, which will investigate and decide whether to notify the EPA.

That raises obvious conflict-of-interest concerns, said Freese, citing as precedent Monsanto’s poor track record in monitoring the evolution of rootworm tolerance to genetically-engineered Bt corn. That was ultimately verified by independent academic researchers, not industry investigators. And even if Dow’s monitoring system is thorough, it may be insufficient.

“You can have the best surveillance system in the world, and the numbers are going to get you,” said Maxwell. “Resistance is going to be there. It will escape notice. And once it occurs at even a low, recognizable level, it’s going to continue to be there.”

Should that happen, the next logical step—at least from a commercial perspective—is to develop crops resistant to even more herbicides. Another of Dow’s soybean varieties, now being reviewed by the USDA, tolerates three herbicides; also in the regulatory pipeline are multiple herbicide-resistant crops from Monsanto and Syngenta, as well as crops that tolerate both herbicides and pesticides.

Freese pointed one of Dow’s patents, for a mechanism that would allow up to nine types of herbicide resistance to be engineered into a single plant. A patent claim is no guarantee that a technology will be used, but it may be an apt symbol for the near future of agricultural biotechnology.

“In the end, we’re going to render most of our chemical solutions obsolete,” said Maxwell. “In the meantime, unfortunately, we’re going to do some damage.”

What’s really happening in Eastern Ukraine” What are the people in Donbass fighting for?

This video focuses on the criminal punitive operation waged by the Kiev regime, directed against the people of Eastern Ukraine.

Supported by the West, the Kiev regime says that these people are “terrorists” and “subhumans”.  The western media applauds.

The National Guard largely made of Right Sector Neo-Nazis has committed countless atrocities.

It’s called “Western style democracy”.

Save Donbass.

Save the Children of Eastern Ukraine.

Spread the word.

Support Truth in Media.

Michel Chossudovsky GR Editor, June 25, 2014

by Gilles-Eric Séralini1*, Emilie Clair1, Robin Mesnage1, Steeve Gress1, Nicolas Defarge1, Manuela Malatesta2, Didier Hennequin3 and Joël Spiroux de Vendômois1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Biology, EA 2608 and CRIIGEN and Risk Pole, MRSH-CNRS, Esplanade de la Paix, University of Caen, Caen 14032, Cedex, France

2 Department of Neurological, Neuropsychological, Morphological and Motor Sciences, University of Verona, Verona 37134, Italy

3 Risk Pole, MRSH-CNRS, Esplanade de la Paix, University of Caen, Caen 14032, Cedex, France

We bring to the attention of GR readers the abstract of this important scientific study.
To consult the full article click here: http://www.enveurope.com/content/26/1/14
.

Abstract

Background

The health effects of a Roundup-tolerant NK603 genetically modified (GM) maize (from 11% in the diet), cultivated with or without Roundup application and Roundup alone (from 0.1 ppb of the full pesticide containing glyphosate and adjuvants) in drinking water, were evaluated for 2 years in rats. This study constitutes a follow-up investigation of a 90-day feeding study conducted by Monsanto in order to obtain commercial release of this GMO, employing the same rat strain and analyzing biochemical parameters on the same number of animals per group as our investigation.

Our research represents the first chronic study on these substances, in which all observations including tumors are reported chronologically. Thus, it was not designed as a carcinogenicity study. We report the major findings with 34 organs observed and 56 parameters analyzed at 11 time points for most organs.

Results

Biochemical analyses confirmed very significant chronic kidney deficiencies, for all treatments and both sexes; 76% of the altered parameters were kidney-related. In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5 to 5.5 times higher. Marked and severe nephropathies were also generally 1.3 to 2.3 times greater. In females, all treatment groups showed a two- to threefold increase in mortality, and deaths were earlier. This difference was also evident in three male groups fed with GM maize. All results were hormone- and sex-dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable. Females developed large mammary tumors more frequently and before controls; the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by consumption of GM maize and Roundup treatments.

Males presented up to four times more large palpable tumors starting 600 days earlier than in the control group, in which only one tumor was noted. These results may be explained by not only the non-linear endocrine-disrupting effects of Roundup but also by the overexpression of the EPSPS transgene or other mutational effects in the GM maize and their metabolic consequences.

Conclusion

Our findings imply that long-term (2 year) feeding trials need to be conducted to thoroughly evaluate the safety of GM foods and pesticides in their full commercial formulations.

by Gilles-Eric Séralini1*, Emilie Clair1, Robin Mesnage1, Steeve Gress1, Nicolas Defarge1, Manuela Malatesta2, Didier Hennequin3 and Joël Spiroux de Vendômois1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Biology, EA 2608 and CRIIGEN and Risk Pole, MRSH-CNRS, Esplanade de la Paix, University of Caen, Caen 14032, Cedex, France

2 Department of Neurological, Neuropsychological, Morphological and Motor Sciences, University of Verona, Verona 37134, Italy

3 Risk Pole, MRSH-CNRS, Esplanade de la Paix, University of Caen, Caen 14032, Cedex, France

© 2014 Séralini et al.; licensee Springer

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Farming for the Future

June 25th, 2014 by Dahr Jamail

(Photos: Dahr Jamail; Edited: JR / TO)

As the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) continue to escalate, drought, wildfires, flooding and other extreme weather events continue to intensify and last longer as a result.

In parts of Africa, the sociopolitical translation of this means wars over water, crops and animals, as drought and theensuing conflict spinning out of it have become the norm.

In the United States, this looks like ever-increasing food prices, growing evidence of overt animosity towards the government, and increasing economic and health concerns about what the future holds as drought, wildfires and temperature extremes continue to intensify.

As a growing number of US citizens wonder what they might be able to do to take care of themselves as this dystopian future comes into focus, silver linings are emerging from the darkening clouds.

One of them is a small farm on the outskirts of one of the largest cities in the country.

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

More Than a Farm

The 23-acre Blackwood Educational Land Institute grows everything from peaches, pears and plums to kale, broccoli and figs, constitutes three ecosystems (Piney Woods, Black Prairieland and Savannah Post Oak), runs a community-supported agriculture (CSA) operation, and hosts yoga retreats, wilderness first-responder training and children’s education programs.

One would not expect a place like this to be only a half-hour drive from downtown Houston, Texas, nestled within an area not known for having progressive politics, let alone making advanced preparations for ACD.

Hans Hansen, the horticulturist who oversees the gardening operations at Blackwood, told Truthout he is already acutely aware of the need to make adjustments for what is already well underway.

Horticulturist Hans Hansen, with the Blackwood Educational Land Institute since it started in 1989, hopes their work creates a "basic language to communicate to as many sectors of the community as we can." (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Horticulturist Hans Hansen, with the Blackwood Educational Land Institute since it started in 1989, hopes their work creates a “basic language to communicate to as many sectors of the community as we can.” (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

“We’re having to adapt our crops and techniques to climate change and the growing season changes that it is causing,” Hansen explained. “And my goal is to raise consciousness levels in Southeast Texas in regards to our relationship with the planet, as well as growing food.”

The institute, founded in 1989, is small-scale, sustainable, organic and functions as a CSA: It provides regular shipments of food to distribution points in Houston so that people there have access to affordable, organic produce.

Hansen is optimistic about the future of agriculture on a local level, in that he believes Houston “has shifted in recent years from post-modern thinking to having sectors that are taking a leadership role in sustainable food and where it intersects with the culinary world.”

Cath Conlon, the president and CEO of the institute, believes that not only will we be healthier and happier if we learn how to feed ourselves, but that we must also concentrate on learning other skills for self-sufficiency.

“We provide Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training to all our [nature camp] counselors,” she said. “But also with kids who come here who are graduating college. Look at our medical system . . . people don’t know how they are going to be taken care of. So hopefully by giving training, we can help alleviate that concern.”

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Cath Conlon, the president and CEO of the Blackwood Educational Land Institute. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Currently Blackwood has direct working relationships with eight middle and high schools, which have incorporated the institute’s work into their curriculum.

Conlon believes society needs people within every workplace environment who know how to take care of themselves and others during an emergency, as well as on an organic, basic living level.

“We offer that kind of training here, in that we grow our own food, we offer the WFR training, we compost, and we stress conscious living,” she said. “We also model social justice, supporting environmental issues, and how to support our health and spirit. I don’t know of other places around here that teach all this.”

The institute is sustained, according to Conlon, by “grants, gifts, and hard work. But mostly hard work.”

Using permaculture and biodynamic farming, the institute aims to “work towards creating the world we want to live in, here and now,” Conlon said.

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Conlon showing the water level of all the rainwater harvesting tanks used at the institute. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Nine people work at the institute and on the farm, which also harvests rainwater for all of its drinking and irrigation needs.

When the farm hosts nature camps, WFR trainings, yoga retreats and gardening classes, all of the participants are fed directly from what the farm produces.

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

In addition to being a CSA provider, the farm feeds everyone who attends workshops and retreats at the institute. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

“We teach folks about riparian corridors, how to manage a canoe and kayak, water safety, how to cook, religious tolerance, and conflict management,” Conlon added. “We also bring in 20 kids from Taiwan and mix them in with local kids for mutual learning, in something we call the Mandarin Camp.”

The institute also participates in Bioneers, a group that describes itself as working to provide and promote “visionary solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges.” Bioneers does so, in part, by holding annual national and local conferences, hosting radio programs and engaging in extensive media outreach.

Conservation and Renewal

“The garden is like someone’s body,” Conlon explained. “All our land here was raped because they used fertilizers and grew hay which locked up the natural process. So we had to rehab this land, just as humans sometimes need drug rehab, the land goes through the same processes.”

Hansen agreed.

“Our theme is the parallels with the body of the earth and the human body, and soil is like the microflora in our gut,” he said. “I like to have people relate to the land as part of their body and to integrate this understanding.”

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Teachings and practices at the institute meld spirit, mind, body and earth. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Hansen aims to do all the work at the institute “with a sense of spirit, intelligence and compassion” in the hope that these values might spread.

However, as the city of Houston continues to undergo another economic boom driven by fracking and the ongoing expansion of the oil and gas industry, both Hansen and Conlon are worried about encroachment as the city grows.

“I would think others around here would be concerned about the encroachment too,” Conlon said. “I mean, where will kids go to be able to see how food grows?”

Nevertheless, the institute’s work continues to grow; it already has several students from nearby high schools who want to work there, and apparently that is what will be necessary as the institute looks to the future.

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Although small, the institute continues to slowly grow in size and personnel over time. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

“It takes every person here to keep all the moving parts working,” Conlon said. “And we’re always looking at how we can stay ahead of the curve, to keep learning and growing and adapting, along with the planet.”

Given the advancement of ACD and what this means for our ability to feed and care for ourselves, Blackwood farm could well be a model for our collective future.

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted witht permission.

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

A highly controversial paper by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini and colleagues has been republished after a stringent peer review process.

The chronic toxicity study examines the health impacts on rats of eating  a commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize, Monsanto’s NK603 glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup.

The original study, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) in September 2012, found severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances in rats fed the GM maize and low levels of Roundup that are below those permitted in drinking water in the EU.

However it was retracted by the editor-in-chief of the Journal in November 2013 after asustained campaign of criticism and defamation by pro-GMO scientists.

Toxic effects were found from the GM maize tested alone, as well as from Roundup tested alone and together with the maize. Additional unexpected findings were higher rates of large tumours and mortality in most treatment groups.

Criticisms addressed in the new version

Now the study has been republished by Environmental Sciences Europe. The republished version contains extra material addressing criticisms of the original publication.

The raw data underlying the study’s findings are also published – unlike the raw data for the industry studies that underlie regulatory approvals of Roundup, which are kept secret. However, the new paper presents the same results as before and the conclusions are unchanged.

The republication restores the study to the peer-reviewed literature so that it can be consulted and built upon by other scientists.

The republished study is accompanied by a separate commentary by Prof Séralini’s teamdescribing the lobbying efforts of GMO crop supporters to force the editor of FCT to retract the original publication.

The authors explain that the retraction was ”a historic example of conflicts of interest in the scientific assessments of products commercialized worldwide.”

“We also show that the decision to retract cannot be rationalized on any discernible scientific or ethical grounds. Censorship of research into health risks undermines the value and the credibility of science; thus, we republish our paper.”

Paper subjected to extraordinary scrutiny and peer review

Claire Robinson, editor of GMOSeralini.org, commented: ”This study has now successfully passed no less than three rounds of rigorous peer review.”

First the paper was peer reviewed for its initial publication in Food and Chemical Toxicology, and according to the authors it passed with only minor revisions.

The second review involved a non-transparent examination of Prof Séralini’s raw data by a secret panel of unnamed persons organized by the editor-in-chief of FCT, A. Wallace Hayes, in response to criticisms of the study by pro-GMO scientists.

In a letter to Prof Séralini, Hayes admitted that the anonymous reviewers found nothing incorrect about the results, but argued that the tumour and mortality observations in the paper were “inconclusive”, and this justified his decision to retract the study:

“A more in-depth look at the raw data revealed that no definitive conclusions can be reached with this small sample size regarding the role of either NK603 or glyphosate in regards to overall mortality or tumor incidence. Given the known high incidence of tumors in the Sprague-Dawley rat, normal variability cannot be excluded as the cause of the higher mortality and incidence observed in the treated groups.”

“The rationale given for the retraction was widely criticized by scientists as an act of censorship and a bow to the interests of the GMO industry”, says Robinson.

“Some scientists pointed out that numerous published scientific papers contain inconclusive findings, including Monsanto’s own short (90-day) study on the same GM maize, and have not been retracted.[9] The retraction was even condemned by a former member of the editorial board of FCT.”

Now the study has passed a third peer review arranged by the journal that is republishing the study, Environmental Sciences Europe.

Let the critics carry out their own studies

Dr Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist based in London, commented, ”Few studies would survive such intensive scrutiny by fellow scientists.

“The republication of the study after three expert reviews is a testament to its rigour, as well as to the integrity of the researchers. If anyone still doubts the quality of this study, they should simply read the republished paper. The science speaks for itself.

“If even then they refuse to accept the results, they should launch their own research study on these two toxic products that have now been in the human food and animal feed chain for many years.”

Dr Jack A Heinemann, Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Canterbury New Zealand, said: ”I applaud Environmental Sciences Europe for submitting the work to yet another round of rigorous blind peer review and then bravely standing by the process and the recommendations of its reviewers, especially after witnessing the events surrounding the first publication.

“This study has arguably prevailed through the most comprehensive and independent review process to which any scientific study on GMOs has ever been subjected.”

‘Significant biochemical disturbances and physiological failures’

The study examines the health effects on rats of eating Roundup-tolerant NK603 genetically modified (GM) maize (from 11% in the diet), cultivated with or without Roundup application, and Roundup alone (from 0.1 ppb of the full pesticide containing glyphosate and adjuvants) in drinking water. It found:

* “Biochemical analyses confirmed very significant chronic kidney deficiencies, for all treatments and both sexes; 76% of the altered parameters were kidney-related.

* “In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5 to 5.5 times higher. Marked and severe nephropathies were also generally 1.3 to 2.3 times greater.

* “In females, all treatment groups showed a two- to threefold increase in mortality, and deaths were earlier.

* “This difference was also evident in three male groups fed with GM maize.

* “All results were hormone- and sex-dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable.

* “Females developed large mammary tumors more frequently and before controls;

* “the pituitary was the second most disabled organ;

“the sex hormonal balance was modified by consumption of GM maize and Roundup treatments.

“Males presented up to four times more large palpable tumors starting 600 days earlier than in the control group, in which only one tumor was noted.

“These results may be explained by not only the non-linear endocrine-disrupting effects of Roundup but also by the overexpression of the EPSPS transgene or other mutational effects in the GM maize and their metabolic consequences.

“Our findings imply that long-term (2 year) feeding trials need to be conducted to thoroughly evaluate the safety of GM foods and pesticides in their full commercial formulations.”

The paper concludes:

”Taken together, the significant biochemical disturbances and physiological failures documented in this work reveal the pathological effects of these GMO and R treatments in both sexes, with different amplitudes.

“They also show that the conclusion of the Monsanto authors that the initial indications of organ toxicity found in their 90-day experiment were not ‘biologically meaningful’ is not justifiable.

“We propose that agricultural edible GMOs and complete pesticide formulations must be evaluated thoroughly in long-term studies to measure their potential toxic effects.”

Regulators must take these results seriously

Dr Heinemann commented: 

”The work provides important new knowledge that must be taken into account by the community that evaluates and reports upon the risks of genetically modified organisms, indeed upon all sources of pesticide in our food and feed chains.”

According to Patrick Holden, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) the study highlights the inadequacy of current safety testing:

”The most obvious deficiency relates to the fact that the current approval process is based on animal feeding trials of only 90 days, a totally inadequate duration when one considers that chronic diseases in animals and humans do not usually manifest until mid-life.”

A second deficiency, he added, relates to the newly emerging science of epigenetics – which demonstrates that endocrine systems can be seriously disrupted by the presence of chemical residues at concentrations as low as a few parts per billion.

“This turns on its head the logic of an approval process based on MRL (maximum residue levels), since it is becoming increasingly apparent that these chemicals have patterns of non-linear response.”

An ‘urgent review’ of pesticide licensing is needed

Given these concerns, said Holden,

”there is a strong case for an urgent review of the regulatory process for licensing both the herbicide Roundup and the neonicotinoid class of insecticides. A fundamental review of the entire process for licensing agricultural chemicals is required to ensure that in future the public interest is better served.”

Professor Pete Myers, Chief Executive of Environmental Health Sciences and scientific advisor to the SFT points out that only ”the tiniest fraction of agricultural chemicals” have been studied for health effects by independent scientists:

“Over the last two-decades there has been a revolution in environmental health sciences that suggests the proportion of diseases attributable to chemical exposures is far bigger and more significant than previously understood.

“The tools we have available to us to say what is safe and not safe are deeply flawed. They are not based on two decades of development in the fields of endocrine disruption and epigenetics, but instead on tests developed in the 1950s.

“They do not reflect the complexity of mixtures, or the way in which chemicals interact.”

Oliver Tickell edits The Ecologist

In the wake of a Bundy Ranch crisis sparked by a militarized federal land-grab effort in Nevada, it seems that the Department of Interior has set its sights on a new prize - this time targeting once protected Indian reservation land on Pine Ridge in South Dakota.

The Oglala Sioux and Lakota Sioux of the reservation have been told by the Federal Government that the National Parks Service will be taking land that comprises the South Unit of the Badlands National Park as a new ‘Tribal National Park’, only the wording in the bill clearly indicates that it will be a federally managed national park under the Department of Interior, giving mere lip service to its tribal title. The Congressional bill has already been written, and if passed through Congress, both tribal members and non tribal members will be stripped of their deeded land – at a price set by the federal government. If owners do not accept Washington’s offer (expected to be a meager one), the land can be acquired at no cost because the measure has waived all appraisal rights and stipulates that Washington can simply take Indian land by force under ‘eminent domain’.

Thousands of tribe members will be affected by the land-grab. Some residents will be forced to relocate, and many more others will lose their income from grazing allotments on the land – a result which will ultimately force any remaining independent cattle ranchers out of business. In addition to all this, Tribal members will lose their share of income from entrance fees collected at the adjacent North Gate of the Badlands National Park – a punitive measure which will further compound the existing economic depression on a reservation where the average annual income is around $8,000 per year.

Washington may be pining for yet another ‘Wounded Knee’, as many residents and tribal members are prepared to stand their ground in the face of a federal imperialist policy inside US borders - a trend which many Americans have experienced first-hand, particularly in western states like Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Bud-May-Pine-Ridge

Pine Ridge and Sioux cattle rancher Bud May with father Avery (Photo credit: Bud May)

Tribal member and local cattle rancher Bud May believes the issue is not confined to Pine Ridge.

May states, “There is a feeling of common cause between attached parties on this issue – namely tribes and other reservations. The bottom line is we’ll all be under dictatorial control if something is not done quick”.

The federal move initially gained traction after a Tribal Ordinance passed by the Tribal Council in the spring of 2013. Many Tribal members have been frustrated with the tribal council, which has gone against the will of the people to back the park. All 9 districts on the reservation have passed unanimous resolutions against the park along with the Shannon County Commissioners and several South Dakota State legislators.

Badlands-Pine-Ridge

Badlands’ located on the Pine Ridge Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota (Photo Credit: Bud May)

To add insult to injury, it appears that all landowners were only notified of the measure until after it had passed, with their first news of the federal plan coming in the form of eviction notices issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Land Operations department in the fall of 2013.

The Tribal Council of 19 has yet to allow a democratic referendum on the federal takeover, although sources confirm that the referendum option is on the agenda for next month’s council meeting.

‘Cowboys and Indian’ in Common Cause

The federal land-grab crisis was elevated to national news in April when Nevada independent rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters stood toe to toe in an armed standoff with the the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over Bundy’s private property and land rights which trace back to 1870′s.

Lory Storm, a Nebraska radio host who has been following recent developments at Pine Ridge describes the synergy now happening between what were previously strange bedfellows. Storm explains,

“The difference between this situation and the Bundy Ranch conflict? It will be the first time in the history of our Country that the Cowboys and Indians pose a united front against a federal government that is used to winning battles by first dividing and then conquering.”

Already, many land owners are taking the position that they will not comply with the latest order from the government – leaving many to wonder whether this potential standoff will become the third ‘Wounded Knee’ incident involving a standoff between the Sioux Nation and the US Federal government.

June 25th is the anniversary of the infamous conflict at the Little Big Horn between General Custer, the Northern Cheyenne and the Lakota Sioux, and this year’s anniversary will see residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation along with other protesters gathering again Wounded Knee to protest the theft of their land by the Federal Government.

Crowds will gather to protest and a symbolic ride will take place today, where tribal riders will be joined by riders from ranches in Nebraska and South Dakota in the afternoon at the Gordon Legion in a show of solidarity on the issue of private property rights and grazing rights.

A number of new reports confirm that the European economy continues to stagnate and is threatened with a deflationary spiral.

The latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which measures the future purchasing plans of key companies in the euro zone, registered a downturn in June for two of the continent’s key economies. The PMI index estimate for June hit a six-month low of 52.8, with both services and manufacturing branches declining.

Europe’s second biggest economy, France, registered a PMI of 48. Any figure under 50 represents a contraction. The June figure means that the French private sector has now contracted for four of the last six months. The PMI figure for Germany, while above 50, was also down. A separate statistic for Germany, the Ifo business climate index, also fell in June to its lowest level since December 2013.

Following years of economic decline in many countries throughout Europe as a result of the harsh austerity policies dictated by the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the growth recorded in Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, was regarded as a positive exception to the continental trend.

The latest figures, however, confirm that the economic crisis is increasingly shifting from the periphery to the core of Europe.

France is Germany’s single biggest trading partner, and its contraction has a negative affect on Germany’s leading export industries. Another factor cited by the business press for the slowdown in Germany, however, is the continuing crisis in Ukraine, which threatens the country’s energy supplies and its extensive interests in eastern Europe. Moreover, the crisis in Iraq has pushed up the price of oil and increased costs for many industries.

The latest figures contradict a series of media reports and declarations by economic institutions that the European economy was emerging from recession. In its April economic report, the OECD declared: “The euro area economies, including those most heavily hit by the crisis, appear to be turning the corner after many years of low and uneven growth.”

In fact. the European Central Bank has already downgraded its modest estimate for growth in the euro zone in 2014 to just 1 percent. The downgrade came after figures released at the start of this month revealed that inflation across the euro zone had fallen to 0.5 percent in May, down from 0.7 percent in April. The figure for inflation considered by the ECB to be compatible with economic growth is 2 percent.

In a separate report released on June 16, the Center for Economic Policy Research declared that the “extremely weak economic developments since early 2013” indicate that the euro zone recession was not over.

While austerity cuts into spending throughout the continent, levels of private and public debt continue to soar. Unemployment throughout Europe remains at the highest levels since figures have been collected. The extent of the social devastation in Europe was most recently recorded in the June report from the International Labour Organisation.

Every intervention by the European Central Bank, such as its recent decision to introduce a negative interest rate, has only encouraged the hedge funds and major investors to engage in even more risky forms of speculation. It is this process of providing cheap money to speculators that has driven up stock markets, such as the German DAX, to record levels in recent weeks.

There is nothing accidental about this process

At the heart of the economic developments in Europe is a massive redistribution of wealth from the working population to a tiny elite of millionaires and billionaires who have been able to massively expand their portfolios over the past five years.

The latest discussions in Brussels over future economic policy and the haggling over a new president for the EU commission are directed at intensifying this process.

The European finance and political elite are intent on imposing in France and Italy the type of political reforms to the labour market that were introduced by a Social Democratic Party government in Germany a decade ago. The Agenda 2010 program introduced by Gerhard Schröder resulted in a massive cheap wage sector that has driven down wage levels and maximized profits for German companies and banks.

In addition, the Agenda 2010 program slashed German government spending as a ratio of GDP. Now, the same process is to be undertaken in France, Italy and throughout the continent.

Behind all the current platitudes from European leaders on the need for jobs and growth, the European Commission is preparing a fresh round of even more devastating attacks on the working class.

At the beginning, the video shows a bus with children leaving their home with tears in their eyes. Their parents and relatives are standing beside the bus. 

Then the video shows what the people of Slavyansk have to go through during artillery and bombing attacks by the Kiev regime.  This “government” which is integrated by two Neo-Nazi parties is supported by the self-proclaimed international community.

The “anti-terrorist operation” in Eastern Ukraine is coordinated by the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU). (Рада національної безпеки і оборони України), which is controlled by Svoboda and Right Sector.

Dmytro Yarosh, Neo-Nazi leader of the Right Sector delegation in the parliament, oversees the National Guard, a loyal civilian militia created in March with the support of Western military advisers.

The Western media has described the Neo-Nazi Brown shirts as “freedom fighters”.

While the media presents the crisis as a confrontation between “pro-Russian” and “Ukrainian nationalists”, the grassroots movement in Eastern Ukraine is largely directed against the Neo-Nazi Kiev regime supported by the West.

Meanwhile, new reports inform  us that there is democracy in Ukraine, with the advent of a duly elected president and that Russia is the Aggressor.

Save the People in Donbass, Save the Children,

Spread the word far and wide. Support Truth in media.

Michel Chossudovsky, GR Editor