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The Legitimacy of Boycotting as a Tactic

Straw men and Resisting Oppression

By Kim Petersen / August 3rd, 2010

Progressivism values solidarity, and within that solidarity there is respect for diversity. It is expected that there will be differences of opinion on the causes of injustices and solutions to the injustice. What best captures the essence of progressivism is its adherence to principles. It seems obvious to declare the right to non-violently resist an occupier/oppressor must be one of those principles. There appears, however, a schism on this principle within the progressivist movement.

One renowned leftist, Noam Chomsky, is against boycotts as a tactic to resist oppression.

Jeffrey Blankfort objected to Chomsky’s stand on boycotts and his stance vis-à-vis Israel.1 Jeremy Hammond objected to Blankfort’s criticism of Chomsky.2

Hammond, who usually writes on social justice issues, began his recent offering in an intemperate manner: “Tirades against Noam Chomsky never cease to amaze me.” One might surmise from Hammond’s opening sentence that he would address tirades against a man who is revered by a segment of the Left. Amazingly, what followed is best described as a tirade against Jeffrey Blankfort who dared to analyze and question the positions of Chomsky. Chomsky is an important thinker, but I do not believe that reasoned questioning of the words and actions of anyone is beyond reproach.

Chomsky, for his part, does not show signs of relishing his celebrity status. Nonetheless, because of the spotlight afforded him, his reputation, and his articulation, his message has reach and influence. Consequently, if Chomsky were to be averse to a form of social justice activism, then the effect would not be beneficial for that activism.

Blankfort, a well-informed thinker and proponent of social justice, examined the struggle of Palestinians and Chomsky’s repudiation of a non-violent form of resistance by Palestinians to their oppression; namely, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Because of Chomsky’s opposition to boycotts, among other points, Blankfort asks whether Chomsky is an asset or a liability to social justice for Palestinians.

Hammond does not directly state that Blankfort’s piece was a tirade, but he accuses Blankfort of ignorance and deliberate misrepresentation. Those are heavy charges, and they should be backed up solidly.

Yet Hammond, himself, appears guilty of deliberate misrepresentation. An example is his discussion of Chomsky’s meeting with Palestinian “prime minister” Salam Fayyad.

Blankfort wishes to know whether Chomsky “considered the Palestine Authority’s endorsement of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, of its attempts to suppress a UN investigation of the Goldstone Report, and of the role played by its US-trained militia in protecting Israel.”

Hammond says that Blankfort implies that Chomsky favors Fayyad. This is a straw man. There is no such implication. Blankfort wonders why Chomsky would meet Fayyad. Given the history surrounding the Palestine Authority (PA), this is a fair question.

Hammond likes to point out omissions, yet he omits mentioning that Fayyad is a member of a government which evades democracy. The electorally mandated term of Abbu Abbas, “president” of Palestine, expired in January 2009.

Now why would a party that heads a government seek to avoid elections? Probably most people would answer that such a government is afraid of losing. Hence, any policies that the PA implements are lacking democratic legitimacy, whether Chomsky considers them “quite sensible” or not.

Contrary to Hammond’s assertion, Blankfort does not portray “Chomsky’s support for a de facto Palestinian state as a blanket endorsement of the PA and all its actions.” Blankfort calls into question the democratic legitimacy of the PA. Without the imprimatur of the Palestinian electorate, who does the PA represent? Many critics point to it as a stooge of Israel and the United States. With such a reputation, is it any wonder that the PA is afraid to face the electorate? The last election for the Palestinian legislature, in 2006, amply revealed how the Palestinian electorate responds to a disloyal government.

Given that whatever democratic legitimacy the PA held had expired, Blankfort asked a serious question: “Why had Chomsky been invited to speak at Bir Zeit in the first place? For those puzzled by that question, be assured that it is meant to be taken quite seriously.” As for democratic legitimacy: how legitimate and representative are elections under occupation? How much credence should people give to such elections?

Chomsky has the right to meet with whoever. He is not a representative of the Palestinians, and he is meeting with the US-backed prime minister (bearing in mind that Chomsky holds the US largely responsible for Israeli-committed crimes in Palestine) whose government is accused of collaborating in Israeli occupation of the West Bank. However, given Chomsky’s opposition to US imperialism and crimes against Palestinians, it is not unusual to wonder why he would meet Fayyad. One should be careful, though, in drawing any conclusions about such a meeting. If I had a chance to honestly dialogue with Fayyad, I would likeliest do so.

Hammond employs the rhetorical device that he accuses Blankfort of throughout his article. Hammond constructs a straw man. He states that Blankfort’s “intended implication, of course, is that Chomsky supports the Zionist theft of Arab land, the Israeli blockade, the blocking of the Goldstone Report, and P.A. collusion with Israel.” In Hammond’s mindset, asking a question carries an implication.

Hammond constructs a straw man, accusing Blankfort of misleading readers on what Chomsky did not mean by being a “supporter of Israel.” Nowhere is such interpretation by Blankfort apparent. Instead Blankfort left it for readers to draw their own conclusions.

Hammond states “taken together with his enormous body of work on the subject, clearly what Chomsky means by saying he is ‘a supporter of Israel’ is not that he supports Israel as a ‘Jewish state’, that he supports Zionism in the contemporary understanding of the word, that he supports the occupation, or any other such asinine nonsense, but just the opposite — that he opposes all of these policies. It’s those who support Israel’s criminal policies, in Chomsky’s view, who in fact are acting against Israel’s own best interests by encouraging its “moral degeneration.” Chomsky bears some responsibility for the lack of clarity. He is a linguist, he must be aware of the connotations carried by his words.

Hammond points to an interview where Chomsky explained what he meant by being a “Zionist”:

What I said was that I remain a Zionist in the sense of Zionism in the 1940s. Zionism has changed. That doesn’t mean my views have.

This is an interesting explanation Hammond points to. Is it a clear statement? Do people understand what a Zionist was in the 1940s? Is it a Zionist like David Ben Gurion – a Zionist in the 1940s? Yitzhak Shamir? How was being a Zionist in the 1940s different from now?

Hammond constructs his next straw man when he insinuates that Blankfort alludes to Chomsky’s work to be lacking in merit on the Palestinian cause. Really? Blankfort wrote, “Chomsky’s background – is a reflection of the political culture of the American Left which was and remains substantially if not predominantly Jewish, particularly in its leadership positions. Support for Israel had become so ingrained and fear of anti-Semitism so deeply embedded in the psyche of American Jewish Leftists in the aftermath of World War 2, that if the Jewish state was to be criticized it had to be by someone from within the tribe who unequivocally supported its existence.”

Through Hammond’s construction of straw men, one might infer that he seeks to evade the points Blankfort raises. Does Hammond deny a Jewish predominance in leadership positions in “political culture of the American Left”? 3Does he deny the fear of pro-Palestinian rights activists of being smeared as an anti-Semite?4

Much of Chomsky’s work on Palestinian issues has merit; surely, Blankfort recognizes that. In Fateful Triangle, Chomsky identifies unequivocally the rampant racism against Arabs and abuses perpetrated against them.5 What would it mean though if someone both aids and hampers a social justice movement?

Hammond constructs another straw man when he writes, “Chomsky has written extensively on which crimes he means, and anyone even modestly familiar with his work knows he is referring to U.S. financial, military, and diplomatic support for Israeli violations of international law…” He adds, “But Blankfort doesn’t turn to anything Chomsky has ever actually written about U.S. support for Israel for examples.” Hammond has widened the scope of discussion.

Of course, the US supports Zionism (along with other western governments), and it supports the Israeli occupation. Blankfort, in his article, focuses on what Israel does to Palestine. Chomsky points to who supplies the gun. Blankfort points to who fires the gun. Israel is the occupying state. It is Israeli soldiers that commit war crimes on behalf of Israel.

Blankfort does not deny that US support for Israeli crimes exists. Yet, this does not restrain Hammond from constructing another straw man argument, alleging that “Chomsky is here blaming Israel for the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 — suggestions for which Blankfort offers no supporting evidence from any of Chomsky’s voluminous writings and talks on the subject.”

Hammond is way off base here. Blankfort does not blame; he mainly asks pertinent questions which Hammond does not deal with. Blankfort says Chomsky is “shifting blame for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians to the US.” Blankfort is arguing against the notion that Israel never acts independently of the US. To illustrate this, Blankfort asks whether the Nakba or the Israeli takeover and occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 were also the fault of the US?

To buttress his argument that Chomsky may be a liability to the Palestinian struggle, Blankfort analyzed an exchange between Alison Weir, of If Americans Knew on Jerusalem Calling, and Chomsky where the latter stated,

What I have opposed, is BDS proposals that harm Palestinians. If we are serious about BDS or any other tactic, we want to ask what the consequences are for the victims. We have to distinguish always in tactical judgments between what you might call ‘feel good’ tactics and ‘do good’ tactics. There are tactics that may make people feel good in doing something, but maybe they harm the victims.

The obvious question that arises from Chomsky’s statement: Why does Chomsky presume to speak on behalf of Palestinians? Do Palestinians not have the right to determine what hardship they would be willing to endure for an end to their occupation? Courageous writer Vittorio Arrigoni, in his eyewitness accounts of Israel’s Cast Lead massacre, lamented, “Gaza’s muted Palestinians survive while others speak for them while they may not speak for themselves.”6

Moreover, how is it that a Palestinian people already having suffered massacres, an illegal siege, and — as Chomsky’s colleague Edward Herman states — a slow-motion genocide might be further harmed by Israel?

Chomsky said, “It is so hypocritical … why boycott Israel and not boycott the United States? The US has a much worse record.”

This is true, and a boycott against the US would be justifiable, but does avoidance of hypocrisy stand up to logical scrutiny?

Extrapolating from Chomsky: if all the criminals are not prosecuted, then none should be. No justice is better than a little justice.

Another extrapolation: It is hypocritical to resist your resistible tormentors, if you do not or cannot defeat all your tormentors at once. This is a strategy doomed to defeat.

Furthermore, a defeat of Zionism would also be a defeat for US imperialism, this by the very fact that it would signal to other people who suffer under the US yoke that US imperialism can still be defeated abroad. So, in effect, the success of the Palestinian-based BDS campaign would strike at the heart of US imperialism.

Chomsky uses tu quoque argumentation.7 Because you do not resist all oppressions equally, does that mean all resistance is illegitimate and/or hypocritical?

A Thought Experiment

Imagine you have two groups of enemies. One group of enemies is three small boys who wake you up in the middle of every night. The second group is a gang of two dozen knife-wielding ruffians who encourage the small boys to carry out their nightly disturbances. You decide that you can deal with the small boys by reporting them to the police, but you fear reporting the gang of ruffians to the police. What do you do? Do you continue suffering the nightly disturbances of the small boys to avoid being a hypocrite?

Chomsky’s argumentation requires that a non-violent resistance be abandoned because there are more deserving calls for resistance elsewhere. This argument serves the Israeli occupiers and the supporters of Israel’s occupation. It does not serve the victims of occupation. Ergo, it could be reasoned that — in some sense — Chomsky sides with the oppressors over the victims of the oppressors.

Nevertheless, to answer Chomsky’s boycott question is futile because — if I understand correctly — he rules out boycotts in every case since a boycott would harm the people of whichever state was being boycotted.

Supporter of Israel

Chomsky said, “I don’t regard myself as a critic of Israel. I regard myself as a supporter of Israel.”

This is a statement that on its face is suggestive, but given the history and meaning attached to “Israel,” it requires further clarification to get at its significance.

Based on Chomsky’s former desire to live in Israel, Blankfort suggests, that Chomsky “seems to have no problem with the Jewish ‘right of return’ to what, until 1948, was Palestine, but considers a similar demand by the Palestinians who were actually born there to be not only unrealistic but potentially dangerous.”

Chomsky did act to “return” to Israel knowing that Palestinians were denied the same right.

Blankfort quotes Chomsky that “… there is no detectable international support for it [the ‘right of return’], and under the (virtually unimaginable) circumstances that such support would develop, …”

Two points: 1) International support? Chomsky must be referring to support expressed by governments. Since Chomsky writes often about and is well aware of US hegemony, that there should be “no detectable international support” for a position contrary to the hegemon should be unsurprising. Does the position of the governments of the international community abrogate the rights of an Indigenous people to land they have occupied for millennia? What does elementary morality posit here? If the international community is defying elementary morality, then why refer to such a community to seemingly exculpate a crime?

2) Virtually unimaginable? Is this not the pessimistic mindset that Chomsky so often battles when he refutes the gainsayers of those seeking social justice — those who point out that resistance is futile and that things will never change — by pointing to gains made by activists against slavery, for the right to vote, worker rights, women’s rights, etc.?

Hammond notes Chomsky’s opposition to BDS is specifically aimed at the boycott while Chomsky supports divestment. He takes issue with Blankfort’s contention and the paucity of his explanation on why “the kind of divestment campaign Chomsky favors — one targeting the U.S” would fail and be harmful to Palestinians.

I do not presume to speak for Blankfort, but he leaves unexplained what should be palpable. As Chomsky has noted, it is the investor class (i.e., the ruling class) that predominately invests. Why would this class move against its interests or desires? Divestment is a call for the ruling class to militate against themselves. Although there are some sizable retirement and union funds, such a call for divestment does, indeed, seem doomed to failure.

Another straw man of Hammond follows:

Blankfort next quotes Chomsky as saying, “once Israel was formed in 1948, my position has consistently been that Israel should have all the rights of every state in the international system, no more and no less.” We are supposed to draw the conclusion, apparently, that Chomsky views Israel’s creation through an act of ethnic cleansing as having been legitimate.

Hammond has drawn a conclusion and presented it. His conclusion is a non sequitur though. Yes, readers are supposed to draw their own conclusions, and writers should grant that readers can consider the facts cited, the views given, check sources, discuss … otherwise writers would only be indoctrinators, of a sort.

But Hammond persists with his straw men through conjuration. He takes issue with Blankfort not informing readers that Chomsky has “explicitly rejected that Israel has a ‘right to exist.’” It is as if Hammond realizes the weight of evidence that Blankfort presents bodes ill for Chomsky — that he has to fish for ways to support his man.

Hammond constructs straw men by alleging straw man building by Blankfort. Hammond claims that “Blankfort chooses to ignore Chomsky’s own specific examples, which he’s written on constantly and documented extensively, of how the U.S. is ‘responsible for a lot of Israel’s criminal behavior’, instead preferring to create a straw man argument by suggesting he was referring to Israeli actions in ’48 and ’67 …” This is disingenuous. It was sufficient to merely posit a few examples that supported his contention that Israel does act on its own initiative. That there are examples that do not suggest otherwise does not nullify what Blankfort stated.

Hammond writes, “Yet, after all this, Blankfort has the chutzpah to accuse Chomsky of “intellectual dishonesty.’” This is bizarre considering that Hammond also has the chutzpah to accuse Blankfort of dishonesty in his article.

Hammond ends with praise for his hero. One certainly can learn much from Chomsky. As for his place as a critic of Israeli crimes and as a supporter of Palestinian rights, that is something that history will decide. He has been a critic of Israeli crimes, and he has supported Palestinian rights. But he does not support the Palestinian right to urge a boycott of Israel. By not supporting the Palestinian-based BDS, Chomsky arguably takes away a non-violent means of resistance that further exposes them to Israeli crimes.

The Gravamen

Blankfort raised an issue, and it is a pertinent issue — despite what Hammond opines — whether a high profile progressive is hampering Palestinians attempt to non-violently resist their occupation.

Whatever other issues are raised by Chomsky to question his support for Palestinian rights, glaring is his lack of support for the BDS campaign.

Thought Experiment 2

Imagine that you and your kith and kin have been dispossessed, your land occupied, and you have endured oppression and massacres for six decades. You are living under a brutal siege where people live in fear, where your children are malnourished … and much, much worse. You are basically disarmed (backyard tin-can rockets hardly count), and your oppressor is a military heavyweight. The governments of the entire western world side with your oppressor. But you remember South Africa, you have heard how boycotts and sanctions brought an end to apartheid in that land. It is a non-violent means of resistance. It is a campaign that provides a profile for your cause. It a campaign that allows the citizens of western countries to reject their government’s collaboration with a racist regime of occupation and oppression by doing something simple: not purchasing products of the occupier. It is a ray of hope for the oppressed people to resist. (And living with a ray of hope beats living with pessimism and despair.)

Then a venerated professor of the Left living overseas in a nation that collaborates steadfastly with your oppressor tells you that a BDS campaign is wrong. He has inflicted a dent in your non-violent means of resistance, and he has given you no substitute means of resistance. The platform is seemingly pulled from under your feet. You wonder why, and you discover because the professor has determined that you will be harmed. It is not for you to decide. The professor has influence. Many people are followers of the professor, and his pronouncements have sway. The BDS campaign has been wounded. How do you as one of the oppressed people living under occupation feel about this?

Palestinians Isolated

Although this writer believes violent resistance to violent oppression is legitimate, BDS appears to be a legitimate, non-violent means to combat the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. Chomsky would seemingly take this non-violent tactic out of the hands of Palestinian resistance because it might harm the people who are behind the occupation and oppression of Palestinians. Since Chomsky rejects a tactic of Palestinian resistance, he should at least proffer a realistic means of ending the occupation and oppression of Palestinians.

Viewing the devastation heaped upon Gazans, Arrogoni decried the absence of “any tangible sign from the international community of a will to boycott these actions.”8

Arrogoni argued, “It’s [sic] now our turn, as ordinary citizens without citizenship … to get away from this hellish contraption.”9

Arrogoni looked to the historical struggle against racism in South Africa: “Refraining from boycotting the regime of apartheid back then was a little like being an accomplice of it. What has changed today?”10

Does Arrogoni capture the will and right of Palestinians to resist their tormentor, or does the logic and elementary morality of the professor stand up to scrutiny?

  1. Jeffrey Blankfort, “Chomsky and Palestine: Asset or Liability?,” Dissident Voice, 23 July 2010.
  2. Jeremy R. Hammond, “Rejoinder to Criticism of Chomsky: Asset or Liability?,” Dissident Voice, 24 July 2010.
  3. Much has been written on this. See, for example, Israel Shamir, “Part Three: The Left,” in Masters of Discourse (New York: Surge Books, 2008); Philip Weiss, “‘Increasingly vocal’ Jewish left is taking over the American Jewish ’street’,” Mondoweiss, 7 June 2010. and “List of Jewish American activists,” Wikipedia.
  4. Norman Solomon, “Bias And Fear Tilting Coverage Of Israel,” FAIR, 19 April 2001.
  5. Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & The Palestinians (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1983, 1999).
  6. Vittorio Arrigoni, Gaza: Stay Human, Translated by Daniela Filippin, (Leichestershire, UK: Kube Publishing, 2010): 113.
  7. “Chomsky’s attempt to rationalize Israel’s ongoing discrimination of those Palestinians who remained after the Nakba, by lumping it together with the forms of racism practiced in the US” is also tu quoque. The fact that a wrong is committed at another time or place does not legitimize commission of the crime in the present instance.
  8. Arrogoni, 64.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid, 66.

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on The Legitimacy of Boycotting as a Tactic

Nuclear U

The University of California and the Nuclear Weapons Business

By NORMAN SOLOMON | August 7, 2010

On my way to the Los Alamos National Laboratory a few years ago, I found it listed in a New Mexico phone book—under “University of California.”

Since the early 1940s, UC has managed the nation’s top laboratories for designing nuclear bombs. Today, California’s public university system is still immersed in the nuclear weapons business.

Sixty-five years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, the University of California imprimatur is an air freshener for the stench of preparations for global annihilation. Nuclear war planners have been pleased to exploit UC’s vast technical expertise and its image of high-minded academic purpose.

During most of WWII, scientists labored in strict secrecy at the isolated Los Alamos lab in the New Mexico desert, making possible the first nuclear weaponry. After the atomic bombings of Japan, UC continued to manage Los Alamos. And in 1952, when the government opened a second nuclear bomb generator, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory east of San Francisco, UC won the prize to manage operations there, too.

A few years into the 21st century, security scandals caused a shakeup. UC lost its exclusive management slots at Los Alamos and Livermore, but retained major roles at both laboratories.

In mid-2006, the Los Alamos lab went under a new management structure, widened to also include Bechtel and a couple of other private firms. A year later, a similar team, likewise including UC and Bechtel, won a deal to jointly manage Livermore.

At Los Alamos, I learned that the new management team was, legally speaking, an LLC, a limited liability corporation. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of “limited liability” for managers of a laboratory that designs nuclear weapons.

Weird, huh? But not any stranger than having the state of California’s top system of higher education devoted to R&D for designing better ways to blow up the planet.

Yes, those laboratories do some nifty ecological research and other laudable things. But nuclear weapons remain central to the labs’ mission. And, lofty rhetoric aside, the federal government is pouring billions more dollars into the continuous high-tech pursuit of nuclear weapons “modernization.”

Last spring, the White House announced plans for this decade that include investing $80 billion “to sustain and modernize the nuclear weapons complex”—in addition to “well over $100 billion in nuclear delivery systems to sustain existing capabilities and modernize some strategic systems.”

In fact, the U.S. government is now on a jag to boost spending for its nuclear arsenal. As the Livermore-based organization Tri-Valley CAREs noted weeks ago, “the 2011 budget request for nuclear weapons is the largest in our nation’s history; bigger than under George W. Bush and a whopping 40 percent higher than the amount spent for nuclear weapons activities on average during the Cold War.”

Credit where due: the UC-managed laboratories for nuclear bombs have been on the cutting edge of digital advancement. Their record recalls a comment from Martin Luther King Jr., who noted the proliferation of “guided missiles and misguided men.”

When I interviewed Los Alamos press officer Kevin Roark, he explained that “this laboratory has been at the forefront of computing research and development” from the Manhattan Project days of slide rules and punch cards to the lab’s present-day computers, with one able to do upwards of 100 trillion calculations per second.

An official website of the University of California boasts that “UC has been involved in the management of these laboratories since their inception—a relationship spanning seven decades—as a public service to the nation.” With a lab on the UC Berkeley campus included in the mix, “the three laboratories have a combined workforce of more than 21,000 and operate on federally financed budgets totaling more than $4 billion.”

For sure, there’s plenty of money sloshing around to reward the masters—and academic servants—of the nuclear weapons industry. But should the University of California be managing laboratories that design the latest technologies for nuclear holocaust?

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | Comments Off on Nuclear U

The U.S. and Yemen’s President: A Lethal Cocktail

By Conn Hallinan | Foreign Policy In Focus |  August 5, 2010

How involved is the U.S. military in Yemen, and is the Obama Administration laying the groundwork for a new foreign adventure? According to several news agencies, including Agence France Presse, UPI and the Washington Post, very involved and likely to be more so in the future.

“U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops,” says Dana Priest, the Post’s ace intelligence and military affairs reporter, including “the U.S. military’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command, whose main mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists.”

The quarry of these assassination teams are supposed leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), but the deepening U.S. alliance with the authoritarian government of Yemen may soon entangle it in two complex civil wars—a rising by disenfranchised Shiites in the north, and an increasingly powerful secession movement in the country’s south.

According to UPI, the White House is quietly expanding “the footprint” of “elite forces inside Yemen.” One military official told the news agency, “The numbers are definitely going to grow.” The Obama administration increased “security” funds for Yemen from $67 million to $150 million.

Navy Seals, Delta Force troops, and intelligence units are working closely with the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, providing weapons, training and intelligence. And sometimes more.

On Dec. 17, 2009, a U.S. BGM-109D Tomahawk cruise missile attacked the village of al-Maajala in south Yemen, killing 55 people, the bulk of them women and children. The Tomahawk—launched from a U.S. surface ship or submarine— was armed with a cluster warhead that spread a storm of razor sharp steel and incendiary material over 500 square feet.

Amnesty International’s Mike Lewis said his organization was “gravely concerned by evidence that cluster munitions appear to have been used in Yemen,” because “cluster munitions have indiscriminate effects and unexploded bomblets threaten lives and livelihoods for years afterwards.”

The target was a supposed al-Qaeda training camp, but the Saleh government draws no distinction between AQAP and the Southern Movement (SM), a group advocating an independent south Yemen. The SM has a long list of grievances reflecting problems going back to 1990 when North Yemen and the southern Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen were unified.

That merger between the conservative north and the better educated and socialist south was never a comfortable one and led to a particularly nasty civil war in 1994. The north won that war by using jihadists freshly returned from fighting the Russians in Afghanistan. Since the end of that four-month war, the SM charges that the north siphons off the south’s oil without adequate compensation, discriminates against southerners on access to jobs, and has cornered the country’s vanishing water supplies. Southern protests are met with tear gas and guns, and, according to SM leaders, some 1,500 “secessionists” have been imprisoned and more than a hundred killed.

According to UPI, “The [Saleh] regime’s heavy-handed response to the southerners has only fueled the demand for independence and encouraged the disparate southern groups to come together.”

Saleh claims the SM is closely tied to AQAP, which immediately gets Washington’s attention, and has allowed his government to tap into the resources of the American “war on terrorism.” Southern independence leaders, like Tariq al-Fadhli, deny any ties to AQAP and say the Southern Movement is non-violent. Whether it will remain so under the Saleh government’s continued assaults is an open question. The December cruise missile strike is not likely to encourage pacifism.

The fighting in the north between the Saleh government based in the capital, Sanaa, and the Shiite Houthi, who inhabit the north’s forbidding terrain, is long-standing. While Saleh and his supporters in Saudi Arabia say Iran is stirring up the trouble, there is no evidence for ties between Iran and the Houthi. The tensions between the Saleh government and the Houthi are local and generally have to do with access to political power. But by bringing Iran into the picture, Saleh can claim he is fighting terrorism, thus making his regime eligible for arms, intelligence, and training.

The U.S. is ratcheting up the use of Special Operations Forces (SOF) worldwide. The administration has increased the number of countries in which SOFs are deployed from 60 to 75, and upped the SOF budget 5.7% to $6.3 billion for 2011. The White House also added an additional $3.5 billion for SOFs to its 2010 budget.

One military official told the Washington Post that the Obama administration had given the military “more access” than former President George W. Bush. “They [the Obama administration] are talking publicly much less but they are acting more. They are willing to get aggressive much more quickly.”

In a recent talk that sounded very much like the Bush administration’s doctrine of pre-emptive war, the White House’s counterterrorism expert John Q. Brennan said that U.S. strategy was not to just “respond after the fact to terrorism,” but to “take the fight to al-Qaeda and its extremist affiliates, whether they plot and train in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and beyond.”

If the U.S. does increase its military footprint in Yemen, it will be expending hundreds of millions of dollars in the poorest country in the region, a country where 40 percent of its 22 million residents are jobless and where water is becoming a scare commodity. The U.S. shares much of the blame for the current economic crisis in Yemen. When Yemen refused to support the 1991 Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, Saudi Arabia expelled 850,000 Yemeni workers, and the U.S. cut $70 million in foreign aid. The effect of both actions was catastrophic, and Yemen never recovered from the one-two blow.

U.S. support for the Saleh regime will inevitably draw it into the conflicts in the north and the south, with disastrous results for all parties.

“In Yemen the U.S. will be intervening on one side in a country which is always in danger of sliding into a civil war,” says the Independent’s Middle East reporter Patrick Cockburn. “This has happened before. In Iraq the U.S. was the supporter of the Shia Arabs and Kurds against the Sunni Arabs. In Afghanistan it is the ally of the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazara against the Pushtun community. Whatever the intentions of Washington, its participation in these civil conflicts destabilizes the country because one side becomes labeled as the quisling supporter of a foreign invader. Communal and nationalist antipathies combine to create a lethal blend.”

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | Comments Off on The U.S. and Yemen’s President: A Lethal Cocktail


By Brigadier Asif Haroon Raja | Pakalert* | August 5, 2010

The period of WikiLeaks revelations covers five years of George W. Bush from January 2004 till December 2008 and one year of Barack Obama from January to December 2009. Looking back in rear-view mirror, one sees that significant changes started to occur in American policy in Afghanistan after December 2009 and talk of reconciliation and negotiations with the Taliban gained currency. Pakistan also began to figure prominently and there was a noticeable change of attitude among US officials. Karzai too started leaning towards Pakistan. A sudden change of direction of wind was not to the liking of India, the Northern Alliance and the  Jewish lobby in USA since it ran counter to their designs against Pakistan.

This change occurred at a time when anti-Pakistan themes drafted by India had reached a maturing stage and had taken the shape of a proper charge sheet. The situation had ripened to put Pakistan on the mat. The USA and western countries drift towards Pakistan took the juice out of the regular supply of source reports furnished by RAW-RAAM agents who whetted the appetite of US military with concocted stories about the Pakistani Army and ISI. Fearing that what had been collated and disseminated may become outdated and get washed away in the humdrum of the final phase which was favorably inclined towards Pakistan, it was considered expedient to leak the classified information. Other than putting Pakistan and its premier institutions in the firing line, it was intended by master planners RAW and Mossad to tarnish the image of US military as well.

Soon after the publication of secret documents by WikiLeaks, an Afghanistan spokesman promptly gave his observations to the press asserting that the documents would help raise awareness on the sanctuaries Pakistan provides for militant groups. He gave this statement under the misplaced impression that the documents would surely help in indicting Pakistan on charges of terrorism. He didn’t realize that all those who were collectively digging a hole for Pakistan would themselves fall into it.

It may be noted that among the over 92,000 secret documents compiled in five years, there is not a single line written about India. The documents are silent about role of RAW, RAAM and Mossad in destabilizing Pakistan. Nobody in the USA or the entire western world has noticed these glaring oddities as to how come the role of three principal players is missing from the radar screen and US documents are blank. Have RAW agents in huge numbers present in every nook and corner of Afghanistan and moving up and down the Pakistan-Afghan border been grazing grass all these years? It indicates that not only did  Indian, Northern Alliance intelligence and Israeli officials have a hand in providing anti-Pakistan information but the trio had also provided copies of documents to WikiLeaks. These hands had a definite role in coloring the perceptions of US leaders against Pakistan. It also proves that the US has unjustly treated Israel and India as holy cows and Pakistan a suspect.

It is also a strange coincidence that the clock of leaked documents remained silent from the end of 2001 till December 2003 and suddenly started ticking from January 2004 onwards. The timing somehow coincided with the signing of the Indo-Pakistan peace treaty. It is a clear cut indication that Indian leaders inked the treaty with ill-motives and soon after gave a green signal to RAW to trigger covert operations against Pakistan using Afghan soil.

I had penned my thoughts on WikiLeaks in Wikileaks-US’s Afghan war diary 2004-2009

I seek answers to some queries related to the leaks.

  • Theft of 92,000 documents including videos and audios from safe vaults was not a day’s work. It must have taken the thief a considerable length of time to steal the desired documents. He must have been moving in and out of the store room umpteen times to lift folders containing incriminating documents about the conduct of the Afghan war. He could not have possibly done so singly but in connivance with some of the persons deputed to act as custodians of top secret documents. Does it imply that the sole super power and its premier institutions have no foolproof system of safety and security of classified documents or they are too careless and irresponsible?
  • There must have been a time lapse between the documents whisked away and their publication by WikiLeaks. Taking into account the fact that revealed documents cover the period up to December 2009 and not up to June 2010, one cannot rule out the possibility that after the theft during 2009 and January 2010, it took Julian Assange five months to be able to get it published through WikiLeaks. It is strange that none among the huge security apparatus learned about the theft until it was disclosed by WikiLeaks. If so, it implies there is no system in existence to carryout spot inspections by duty officers/security officers of files/folders locked up in vaults.
  • In any military unit/HQ of the armed forces, even loss of one classified document creates a massive stir and the concerned unit doesn’t rest till the missing document is traced and culprit punished.  Rationally, a red alert should have been sounded in the USA and all resources geared up to find out all possible details about this embarrassing scandal expeditiously. Oddly, all US officials are in a complacent mood and have adopted a laid-back approach, giving an impression to outsiders that the wardens were part of the crime and leak was intentional to corner Pakistan; or else the Pentagon wants to cover up its officials who were in league with Assange or Bradley Manning.
  • A government which is incapable of safeguarding its top secret documents having a bearing on security and reputation of the nation and its military, will it be able to safeguard its thousands of nuclear warheads and other deadly war munitions?
  • After such a gigantic theft of classified documents having grave ramifications for the US Military’s future conduct in Afghanistan, why has the sole super power not initiated actions to get hold of the thief, the network, insiders and the ones who masterminded the theft?
  • Julian or Bradley could not have possibly procured voluminous documents on a basis of friendship. Afghan National Security might have provided copies of Pakistan specific 180 reports free of cost. For the rest, they must have bribed the handlers of documents so heavily that they agreed to take such a huge risk. If so, who funded Julian/Bradley?
  • While lot of hue and cry has been made over 180 anti-Pakistan source reports, western media, think tanks and analysts are quiet about 91,820 reports, videos and audios portraying inhuman barbarities of American and coalition forces against people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Why are the champions of democracy and human rights tight lipped and why are US officials downplaying this security lapse as if nothing significant has happened?
  • Why have these documents came to light at a critical time when occupation forces in Afghanistan are in dire strait; war on terror has become highly unpopular; demand to end the war is surging; Taliban are carrying out daily attacks and inflicting deaths/ injuries to ISAF troops? July has been the worst month in which 66 ISAF fatalities took place. What is the hidden motive?
  • Is it that the real motive is to put the entire blame of US defeat in Afghanistan at the doorsteps of Pakistan? If so, what next?
  • Notwithstanding sinister designs of adversaries of Pakistan, 70% of revealed documents are uncorroborated and unverified, while the remaining 30% are also debatable and one-sided as claimed by US officials. However, 5-10% of the reports are based on hard facts, which cover in minute details the atrocities of US and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. What if the still to be revealed 15,000 documents are also exposed which are more harmful for USA?

While it is a reality that no US think tank, newspaper or official has ever written a single sentence on an Indo-US-Israeli-Afghanistan nexus and their designs against Pakistan, Wikileaks has lifted the curtain. Although under US pressure the head of this website has attempted to minimize the damage by telling an Indian news reporter that all reports less the ones pertaining to Pakistan were unreliable, it cannot be denied that the US military has suffered the most from this disclosure. What is most worrisome for the US military operating in Afghanistan is the exposure of names of their Afghan informers and some within the Taliban ranks working as double agents. Their fate is sealed since the Taliban would never spare them. This factor will further shrink US battle intelligence capability, thereby compounding their problems during ongoing testing times.

Thanks to a few upright people in the USA and western countries as well as whistle blowing independent websites, the world is now getting more educated about the deepening mess in Afghanistan. Sooner or later, pieces would start falling in the right places and the real picture would emerge, which had been kept hidden all these years.

There have been occasional reports of use of excessive force by the ISAF in Afghanistan, about torture tales in Gitmo, Bagram Base and Abu Gharib jails, but none could imagine the scale and gruesome nature of atrocities against Afghans as disclosed by WikiLeaks. 150 bombing incidents on civilians killing mostly women and children had never been reported. There could be many more incidents purposely not recorded by the ones maintaining logs. Wedding ceremonies, funerals, children school buses and passenger buses have not been spared by trigger happy Yankees. Jets, gunship helicopters and drones have caused maximum casualties. Logs have also indicated the use of Blackwater to capture or kill marked Taliban. Hands of American civil and military leaders are dripping in the blood of innocent Iraqis and Afghans. Wikileaks has provided incriminating material for their trials for committing war crimes.

There were strong reasons for the sacked Gen McChrystal to restrain his swashbuckling cowboys from firing indiscriminately and causing large scale civilian fatalities. Hawks in then Obama Administration had constantly pushed him for quicker results without caring for human destruction. Irked by their haughty behavior, he decided to call it a day. Is there some connection between WikiLeaks-Rolling Stone-McChrystal? Moreover, is there a connection between the Times Square incident, the visit of three rasping top US leaders to Islamabad in July, the WikiLeaks revelations, Cameron’s derogatory remarks and Karzai’s diatribe?

WikiLeaks has inadvertently provided a golden opportunity to Pakistan to expose the hidden designs, subversive activities and black deeds of occupation forces in Afghanistan and to blunt their smear campaign. The world is now eagerly looking toward whistle blowing websites like WikiLeaks to throw light on following ambiguities:

  1. Other than the declared objectives of the USA, what was the hidden motivation to occupy Afghanistan?
  2. What was the purpose behind setting up a huge intelligence centre at Jabal-al Siraj near Kabul comprising six intelligence agencies?
  3. How did Osama bin Laden and the whole lot of Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders’ in Tora Bora slip out in December 2001, which subsequently became the key cause of US intractable troubles in Afghanistan?
  4. Is Osama dead or alive and if alive where is he located?
  5. How did the defeated, ousted fugitive Taliban manage to regroup so speedily and start hitting back at occupation forces from 2003 onwards?
  6. Details of harrowing atrocities committed by Northern Alliance warlords against captured Taliban and Pakistani prisoners after the fall of Taliban regime in December 2001.
  7. Details of $3 billion spent by CIA to win the loyalties of corrupt and ruthless Afghan warlords to help form a government in Kabul under puppet Hamid Karzai.
  8. Details of profits earned from illegal drug trade in Afghanistan and who all shared the profit to run covert operations against Pakistan and Iran.
  9. Particulars of tens of Pakistan specific training camps and intelligence setups of RAW and Mossad in Afghanistan and their methods of indoctrination of suicide bombers.
  10. Idea behind Af-Pak policy and why did it fail to kick off.
  11. How come 16,000 foreign troops coupled with 9,000 Afghan troops backed by jets, helicopters and artillery failed to overpower a few hundred ill-equipped Taliban in Marjah in February-March which has jeopardised the US offensive drive in southern and eastern Afghanistan?

The writer is a retired Brigadier who after retirement remained Honorary Colonel of the Battalion he commanded for eight years and also served as Director Education & Training KRL

* Additional editing for western English by Aletho News

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | 4 Comments

Kola Temperature Reconstruction Shows Solar Correlation – Refutes The Hockey Stick

By P. Gosselin | August 7, 2010

Last week I wrote about a Russian-German temperature reconstruction from 1600 to 2000 derived from tree rings from the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia . The paper appeared in the journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, Vol. 41, No. 4, 2009, pp. 460–468, by Kononov, Friedrich and Boettger.

In response, German media outlets all hollered “RAPIDLY RISING ARCTIC TEMPERATURES!”, focusing solely on one statement that temperatures have been rising since 1990.

It’s a classic example of how a scientific study comes up with Result A, but the public ends up understanding Result Z, all thanks to sloppy and incompetent communication that exists between the two.

The press release here provides the following Kola temperature reconstruction graph for summertime temperatures:

Kola Peninsula tree-ring temperature reconstruction. Source: Stephan Boehme/UFZ

Here it’s plain to see that the temperature reconstruction shows that Arctic temperatures in the Kola Peninsula have been rising since about 1670. This corresponds exceptionally well with Loehle’s 2007 reconstruction using 18 non-tree-ring proxies for the last 2000 years shown as follows:

Both graphics show the Little Ice Age from 1650 to 1750, at which point a warming event ensues. Then it was generally flat from 1750 to about 1920, and then followed by another rise that took place until 1950. Then Kola tree-ring proxies show a cooling up to 1990. Since 1990 warming has occurred again, but it’s  a warming that is completely within the natural range of variation.

The Kola reconstruction (1) agreed with an earlier reconstruction (2) done in the area, see map below.  What’s more, the Kola reconstruction (1) was compared with tree-ring reconstructions from other Arctic regions: Swedish Lapland (3), Yamal (4), and Taimyr (5).

Proxy locations used for Kola comparison. Source: Journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, Vol. 41, No. 4, 2009, pp. 460–468

The result of the comparison:

The reconstructed summer temperatures of the last four centuries from Lapland and the Kola and Taimyr Peninsulas are similar in that all three data series display a temperature peak in the middle of the twentieth century, followed by a cooling of one or two degrees.

Only the Yamal reconstruction differed completely, resembling the shape of a hockey stick with the blade beginning at 1900. The hockey stick is becoming an artifact of activism.

Except for the Yamal reconstruction, all tree-ring and non-tree ring reconstructions appear to agree, and so indicate no correlation between temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration.

So what could be driving temperatures then? The authors compared the tree-ring based reconstructions with historical records of sunspots (Lean et al, 1995; Lean, 2000), and say:

We found that over the whole investigated period fluctuations of summer air temperature reconstructed for the Khibiny Mountains in the central part of the Kola Peninsula have a good consistency (r >0.50) with changes of solar radiation (Fig. 10), especially for the low-frequency signal.

In the paper’s conclusion we read:

The broad similarity between this temperature construction and solar radiation indicates that solar activity is an important driver of centennial to multi-decadal trends in summer temperatures of the Kola Peninsula.

So why did all media reports holler “RAPID TEMPERATURE INCREASE IN THE ARCTIC”. Call it complete communication incompetence by the media players between science and the public.

The Kola reconstructions show no link to atmospheric CO2 concentrations. It all started with a solid scientific paper, and but then was distorted (purposely?) by a vague press release that culminated in alarmist media headlines.

Let’s call that press release incompetence-gate.

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | 2 Comments

Gross Media Negligence

By SAUL LANDAU and NELSON P. VALDES | August 7, 2010

“The average Washington correspondent is content to write what he is spoon-fed by the government’s press officers.”

— I. F. Stone, 1953.

“When the government lies, must the press fib?”

— I. F. Stone, May 3, 1961

The government routinely lies and misleads. The mass media rarely checks government statements for facts or contradictions especially when the “good” guy (USA) attacks a “bad” guy (Cuba).

On July 14, for example, we reported Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Jews to support Alan Gross’ “humanitarian effort” to help the Jewish community improve communication technology.

Gross, arrested in Cuba last December, worked for a company paid by AID (part of the State Department), but used a tourist visa for five consecutive visits to disguise his intention: distribute forbidden satellite phones to government opponents. Several Jewish organizations already provide their Cuban brethren with modern communication technology. Most media failed to report that fact, which would have raised another obvious question: why did Gross distribute expensive satellite technology to a well-supplied community?

Jewish leaders in Havana interviewed by non-Cuban Juan Tamayo of the Miami Herald don’t remember meeting Alan Gross. Perhaps only dissident Jews got his goodies, those who don’t associate with the mainstream Jewish community! Ironically, as Hillary defended Gross’ technology-sharing mission, U.S. Homeland Security seized computers bound for Cuba from U.S. religious groups also claiming desires to upgrade communication technology for non-Jewish religious groups. Did some U.S. government official choose Jews (the “chosen” people) to receive high-tech equipment? Mainstream journalists didn’t catch this obvious contradiction. Indeed, the media routinely fails to check official government assertions. Sometimes they feast on their own failures to check, as when scandal erupted over the recent Shirley Sherrod firing by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack followed by “oops, we didn’t check, but can now squeeze this story for weeks.”

How about squeezing facts and applying them to reporting foreign policy? Reporters might recall Congress passed laws from the 1990s authorizing the “promotion of democracy” in Cuba (meaning overthrow Cuba’s government).

Radio Marti promoted the U.S. way of life, then TV Marti, albeit Cubans have yet to watch it (Cuba jams its signal). The Gross case represents a digital equivalent: Satellite phones, computers, Facebook and Twitter to undermine Cuba’s government.

Media often ignores context (history), especially when high U.S. officials present good (us) v. evil (them) scenarios. In the 1980s, Iran’s theocratic government, now Washington’s maximum enemy and Israel’s nemesis, (Teheran’s nuclear enrichment program could lead to weapons-making) received U.S. missiles from high Reagan officials (the Iran-Contra scandal).

In 2002, Saddam Hussein invited UN Weapons Inspectors to return to prove Iraq had no WMD. The Bush White House sneered, claiming Saddam had evicted the same inspectors in 1998. The major media like White House stenographers reported this “fact.” Four years earlier the very same media organs had correctly reported: the UN had prudently withdrawn the inspectors after President Clinton announced plans to launch missile strikes against Iraq. The effect of the report as fact and the false Bush narrative reinforced the “evil Saddam” image (convenient for mobilizing support for the invasion of Iraq).

Similarly, in July, Hillary lectured Vietnam on its human right failures. There was no mention in the major media of how U.S. armed forces (U.S. military advisers first entered Vietnam in 1950 and the war ended in 1975) had killed several million Vietnamese civilians, many in carpet bombings, which deprived them of all human rights. The media also ignored the fact that Washington does not turn Vietnamese — or Chinese — human rights abuses into pretexts to impose embargoes and travel bans, as it does with Cuba. OK, consistency is the product of small minds!

U.S. officials condemn North Korea for its alleged sinking of South Korea’s ship, Cheonan, in March as if Pyongyang occupied a uniquely sinister place in the list of human rights’ abusers. Did no reporter read Bruce Cummings’ recent book revealing that U.S. forces killed millions of civilians in the Korean War? (The Korean War: A History, Modern Library, 2010)

U.S. “news” media apparently accept as unwritten law that a powerful empire can waive standards for itself that it applies to “lesser” nations, like Cuba. Declassified documents from the early 1960s onward show the CIA supervising 3,000 plus attacks against Cuba, including dozens of assassination attempts. Yet, State has placed Cuba on its terrorist list.

Evidence? Washington has not accused Havana of directing terrorist acts against U.S. targets. Paradoxically, in 1984 Cuban UN diplomat Nestor Garcia told Secret Service officials details of an assassination plot against President Reagan. As a result of the information, Garcia said, the FBI arrested some men, thanked Cuba for its help and “continued business as usual.”

Empires scoff at double standards. So what? U.S. leaders act on the first three words of the old Christian dictum: “Do unto others,” and haven’t absorbed Mark Twain’s wisdom. “There are 869 different forms of lying, but only one of them has been squarely forbidden. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Twain didn’t say “obedient neighbor!”

Saul Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow.  Nelson Valdés is Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico.

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on Gross Media Negligence

What collapsing empire looks like

By Glenn Greenwald | August 7, 2010

As we enter our ninth year of the War in Afghanistan with an escalated force, and continue to occupy Iraq indefinitely, and feed an endlessly growing Surveillance State, reports are emerging of the Deficit Commission hard at work planning how to cut Social Security, Medicare, and now even to freeze military pay.  But a new New York Times article today illustrates as vividly as anything else what a collapsing empire looks like, as it profiles just a few of the budget cuts which cities around the country are being forced to make.  This is a sampling of what one finds:

Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further — it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation.

Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.

Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a dark age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters.

There are some lovely photos accompanying the article, including one showing what a darkened street in Colorado looks like as a result of not being able to afford street lights.  Read the article to revel in the details of this widespread misery.  Meanwhile, the tiniest sliver of the wealthiest — the ones who caused these problems in the first place — continues to thrive.  Let’s recall what former IMF Chief Economist Simon Johnson said last year in The Atlantic about what happens in under-developed and developing countries when an elite-caused financial crises ensues:

Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or — here’s a classic Kremlin bailout technique — the assumption of private debt obligations by the government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk — at least until the riots grow too large.

The real question is whether the American public is too apathetic and trained into submission for that to ever happen.

It’s probably also worth noting this Wall St. Journal article from last month — with a subheadline warning:  “Back to Stone Age” — which describes how “paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue.”  Utah is seriously considering eliminating the 12th grade, or making it optional.  And it was announced this week that “Camden [New Jersey] is preparing to permanently shut its library system by the end of the year, potentially leaving residents of the impoverished city among the few in the United States unable to borrow a library book free.”

Does anyone doubt that once a society ceases to be able to afford schools, public transit, paved roads, libraries and street lights — or once it chooses not to be able to afford those things in pursuit of imperial priorities and the maintenance of a vast Surveillance and National Security State — that a very serious problem has arisen, that things have gone seriously awry, that imperial collapse, by definition, is an imminent inevitability?

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | 2 Comments

‘Fallujah cancer rate up by 3800%’

Press TV – August 7, 2010

One of the scientists, whose study revealed the devastating effect of US weapons in Fallujah, says in some cases cancer rates were 38 times higher than expected among Iraqis.

Dr. Chris Busby a scientist with a three-member team to conduct a study, titled “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009,” discussed some if the aspects of the research with Press TV on Saturday.

“In the case of leukemia…we found that the rates of leukemia were 38 times higher than what we expected in the population that we sampled,” said Busby, the director of the environmental consultancy agency, Green Audit.

“And we had very high levels, 10-fold and so on levels of childhood cancers, breast cancer, lymphomas. All cancer types that were associated with radiation and which were found following the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. But actually these were much higher rates and they occurred much sooner after the event,” told Press TV.

“And the other thing that we found…was this peculiar sex ratio change which is a sure indicator of genetic damage and which was also found after Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Busby said.

As opposed to a normal population, the plagued Iraqis were shown to have given birth to more females than males, he was quoted last-month by British newspaper The Independent as saying. The proportion, the like of which has been found in Hiroshima, shows genetic damage which affects boys more than girls.

“Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009,” survey sampled 4,800 people among the residents of the central Iraqi city that came under two wholesale American attacks in 2004.

The US troops have already admitted using phosphorous munitions during the operations.

When asked what kind of weaponry can bring about the extent of genetic damage in Fallujah, he said, “Well, as a scientist, all we can say is that it is a very serious mutagen. And we are not experts in weaponry, but I am something of an expert in effects of uranium and I have to say that all of these findings would be consistent with exposure to variously large amounts of uranium.”

“To produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred,” he was cited by the daily as saying, referring to the cancers and birth defects.

August 7, 2010 Posted by | War Crimes | Comments Off on ‘Fallujah cancer rate up by 3800%’

Hiroshima urges end of nuclear umbrella

55,000 attend 65th anniversary of bombing

By ERIC JOHNSTON | Japan Times | Aug. 6, 2010

HIROSHIMA — At a memorial ceremony attended for the first time ever by a U.N. secretary general and a U.S. representative, Hiroshima on Friday marked the 65th anniversary of its atomic bombing by calling on Japan to withdraw from the U.S. nuclear umbrella and accelerate the progress made over the past 18 months to eliminate nuclear arms. […]

Earlier this week, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said it is ridiculous for Japan to think about national security policies while still being dependent on America’s nuclear umbrella.

Akiba’s call to turn Japan’s long-standing three nonnuclear principles into law is something antinuclear groups have long desired.

The three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, manufacturing, or introducing nuclear weapons were introduced as a Diet resolution in the late 1960s and adopted in 1971, but have yet to be codified into law.

The mayor also urged Prime Minister Naoto Kan to speak to nuclear weapons states directly and push them to disarm completely by 2020.

Kan, who was once an activist, gave credit to the hibakusha [atomic victims], their next of kin, and citizens’ groups worldwide for their efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and for the recent political progress toward that goal.

“Last May, at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference in New York, nearly 100 hibakusha spoke about their experiences. Over 4,000 cities worldwide, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, belong to the Mayors for Peace Conference, which is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons. It is the activities of citizens and NGOs that have played a critical role in arms reduction,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador Roos laid a memorial wreath at the cenotaph, but did not address the ceremony… Full article

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | Comments Off on Hiroshima urges end of nuclear umbrella