Aletho News


Osborne called university fees ‘very unfair’ in 2003… but was happy to triple them in 2010

RT | May 17, 2016

Well, that’s embarrassing. Chancellor George Osborne said university tuition fees were a “tax on learning” and “very unfair” in a letter he wrote 13 years ago – but that didn’t stop him from tripling fees after taking office in 2010.

The letter, sent by Osborne when he was a Tory whip, criticised the then-Labour government’s plan to triple fees to £3,000 (about US$4,350), and pledged to scrap fees totally. Osborne wrote:

“To my mind, this is a tax on learning and is very unfair.”

“There is a lot of evidence that it is this fear of going into debt that puts most people from poorer backgrounds off going to university.

“I thought you would be interested to know that the Conservatives have just announced that we will scrap tuition fees altogether when we are next in government.”

How he must regret making that pledge all those years ago.

When the Tories came to power in coalition with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, one of Osborne’s first acts was to triple tuition fees from £3,000 per year to £9,000 per year.

The chancellor’s embarrassing letter has re-emerged a day after a new government white paper suggested universities that meet certain ‘high standards’ will soon be allowed to raise fees yet again in line with inflation.

Violinist Rosy Williams posted the letter on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon after finding it in storage.

“Rooted through a box of old letters last night and discovered this brief exchange … with a young, up and coming MP by the name of George Osborne.

“So glad he made sure our ‘voices were heard in parliament.’”

Labour’s shadow business secretary, Angela Eagle, told the Mirror :

“This letter exposes George Osborne’s rank hypocrisy. He called the tuition fees a ‘tax on learning.’

“Then, when he was Chancellor, he trebled them. He warned of the fear of debt putting young people off, but on his watch, students are leaving university owing tens of thousands of pounds.”


Read more:

£9,000 not enough? University fees may rise again under new Tory white paper

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , | Leave a comment

Dear Sony Music: It’s Not “Fee Use,” But “Fair Use”

By Mitch Stoltz | EFF | May 16, 2016

We’re pleased to report that Sony Music backtracked on its accusation of copyright infringement against the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association, and HVBA’s educational video remains freely available to the public. But the music label’s response leads us to think that Sony’s misuse of copyright and of YouTube’s automated enforcement system will continue.

We wrote last week about how YouTube’s system, Content ID, incorrectly flagged HVBA’s own video as infringing. The video, an hour-long lecture on the history of bluegrass music, triggered the Content ID filters because it contained three clips of bluegrass recordings copyrighted by Sony, each around 30 seconds and surrounded by a discussion of the music and its historical relevance. That’s an obvious fair use under copyright law, one that any human reviewer with minimal training would recognize.

A fair use doesn’t require permission from the copyright holder, or a fee. It’s the sort of use that’s free to all. But when HVBA’s webmaster wrote to Sony Music and asked them to withdraw the Content ID match, the company responded by asking for a $500 “administrative fee” and detailed information about HVBA’s use of the song clips. Fortunately, HVBA’s webmaster knew her rights, and after some prodding—and a post by EFF—Sony Music agreed to withdraw its claim.

We’re glad Sony stopped trying to block or monetize HVBA’s video. But the company’s response is troubling all the same. A Sony executive emailed HVBA to say that the company “has decided to withdraw its objection to the use of its two sound recordings” and “will waive Sony Music’s administrat[ive] fee.” That sounds like Sony was simply acting out of courtesy, when in fact the company had no right to demand a fee, by any name, for an obvious fair use. Other YouTube users with less knowledge of the law may have been convinced to pay Sony $500 or more, and provide detailed information, for uses of the music that the law makes free to all.

As Congress and the Copyright Office review the law and examine the effectiveness of automated systems like Content ID, they should keep in mind that automated flagging or filtering combined with misleading statements about a company’s legal rights can lead to abuse. That’s another reason why YouTube-style automatic filtering should never be mandated by law, and why we need real penalties for false takedowns.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | Leave a comment

18 forbidden verses: German court bans most of Erdogan-mocking poem

RT | May 17, 2016

A court in Hamburg has issued a preliminary injunction banning 18 of the 24 verses in a German comedian’s satirical poem lampooning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for being “abusive and defaming.”

The court order issued on Tuesday applies to the whole of Germany, Reuters reported.

“Through the poem’s reference to racist prejudice and religious slander as well as sexual habits, the verses in question go beyond what the petitioner [Erdogan] can be expected to tolerate,” the Hamburg court wrote.

The court said the decision was necessary to balance the right to artistic freedom and the personal rights of Turkey’s leader, but added that its ruling could be appealed.

Violating the decision could result in a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($282,000) or administrative detention of up to six months, Germany’s Spiegel Online reported.

Erdogan’s lawyer said he was content with the ruling, RIA Novosti reported, while the comedian’s defender stressed that the poem must be considered as a whole, claiming its verses had been taken out of context.

The poem, which was recited on German television by comedian Jan Boehmermann in late March, has become a bone of contention for Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as European audiences and the media.

After Erdogan demanded that German authorities press charges against the comedian for allegedly insulting him as Turkish President, Merkel allowed her prosecutors to pursue the case against Boehmermann.

A separate complaint being dealt with in the western German city of Mainz is still being processed, with prosecutors saying it is as yet unclear when a decision is to be made on whether to go ahead with the case, according to Reuters.


‘Turkish method of silencing criticism being exported to Europe’

‘Inconsistency & cowardice’: German activists decry Merkel’s collaboration with ‘despot Erdogan’

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Leave a comment

PLC member Abdel Jaber Fuqaha arrested by Israeli occupation forces in dawn raid


Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – May 17, 2016

Abdel Jaber Fuqaha, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was attacked and arrested by Israeli occupation forces on Tuesday, 15 May, after a dawn raid by occupation forces on his home. Fuqaha, 49, who has been arrested several times and has spent years in Israeli prison, most frequently under administrative detention without charge or trial, is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council representing the Change and Reform Bloc, allied with Hamas.

After Fuqaha’s release in 2011 after 27 months of administrative detention, he was arrested again in 2012, and then again in June 2013. He was last released in April 2015. He has spent over six years in Israeli prison; he was beaten during his arrest and his home ransacked. He is one of seven members of the Palestinian Legislative Council currently imprisoned in Israeli jails, including prominent Palestinian leaders Ahmad Sa’adat, Marwan Barghouthi, Khalida Jarrar, and Hassan Yousef.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli attacks mount on Palestinian fishers in Gaza


Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – May 17, 2016

Two more Palestinian fishers were attacked and detained off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, 17 May, Ma’an News reported. Samih and Ibrahim Zayid were attacked by an Israeli gunboat while fishing, ordered off the boat, and detained; their boat was towed to the Ashdod port.

This comes after the detention and boat confiscation of 10 Palestinian fishers on Sunday, 15 May. Two of the fishers, Khamis Baker and Hasan Madi, remained imprisoned while the other eight were released. Two more fishing boats were confiscated on Sunday. Another fishing boat was damaged and submerged by the gunboat’s attack; the damaged boat was later recovered by Palestinian fishers. Dozens of shells were fired at the fishers and their boats; the fishers were ordered to take off their clothes, jump into the water, and swim toward the gunboats.

While Israeli authorities in April expanded the fishing zone designated for Palestinian fishermen to nine nautical miles in the southern Gaza Strip, and retained the six-mile zone in the north, fishermen regularly report detentions, live fire, and boat confiscation within these limits,” reported Ma’an.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Israeli forces detained 71 fishermen and confiscated 22 fishing boats throughout 2015, and opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at least 139 times over the course of the year.

PCHR noted that it “considers that attack as a grave violation of the fishermen’s right to sail and fish freely and to protect their property in the Gaza waters. Moreover, PCHR believes that such attacks against Palestinian fishermen constitute a form of collective punishment against them which aims to target fishermen and their livelihood. Furthermore, PCHR calls upon the international community to provide protection for Palestinian fishermen and their right to sail and fish freely, and to stop all forms of collective punishment against fishermen and their property which violate the international humanitarian law and the international human rights law.”

The Union of Agricultural Work Committees, a Palestinian grassroots organization, works with fishers and farmers in Palestine to defend their land and seas and their right to farm and fish in the face of occupation attacks. Saad al-Deen Ziadah of UAWC said that “Most of these attacks and violations occurred within the allowed fishing area by Israeli navy forces. These arrests are generally carried out under very intense situations – the Israeli navy shooting bullets and shells at the fishermen and their boats. It has been recorded that the Israeli navy targets the outboard engine of the boats, which is the ‘soul of the boat’, as the fishers say.”

UAWC video on Palestinian fishers in Gaza:

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Jewish extremist arrested in Dawabsha murders case to be released in two weeks

By Lily Leach | Ma’an | May 17, 2016

BETHLEHEM – A Jewish extremist arrested in the wake of a deadly arson attack that killed three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family in the occupied West Bank last summer is to be released from Israeli custody, it was revealed on Tuesday.

Israeli state prosecutors decided not to extend the administrative detention of Meir Ettinger — Israeli security agency Shin Bet’s leading suspect for the case — when his remand expires at the end of May, Israeli media reported.

Two Israeli suspects were indicted for murder for the incident in January, five months after suspects belonging to a Jewish terror organization set the home of the Dawabsha family ablaze, killing 18-month-old Ali Saad immediately.

The infant’s parents, Riham and Saad, later died from severe burns, leaving 4-year-old Ahmad Dawabsha the only surviving member of the family.

Ettinger, 23, was detained in August among several suspected Israeli extremists in raids following mounting outrage and calls for a crackdown on Jewish extremism in the wake of the arson attack.

He was allegedly detained “because of his activities in a Jewish extremist organization,” Shin Bet said at the time. Police said he was suspected of “nationalist crimes,” but did not accuse him of direct involvement in the attack in which the toddler died.

Ettinger was reportedly the brains behind a June 18 arson attack on a shrine in northern Israel where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and wrote a “manifesto” calling for the destruction of the modern state of Israel.

Ettinger’s coming release was seen by many as emblematic of what activists and rights groups have called a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians, while also providing a unique example of administrative detention being used against an Israeli.

He was among the first Jewish extremists to be held in administrative detention by Israel.

Israel’s widely-condemned policy of administrative detention is almost exclusively used against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory, with numerous rights groups claiming it represents a grave violation of human rights and contravenes international law.

The policy allows the Israeli army to hold prisoners indefinitely without charging them or allowing them to stand trial, as Israeli authorities can renew a prisoner’s detention every three to six months without reason.

“Administrative detention and all other administrative steps taken by Israeli law enforcement are anti democratic and against all human rights — for Palestinian and Israeli suspects,” Gilad Grossman, spokesperson for the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, told Ma’an on Tuesday.

“If there is evidence (Ettinger) was involved with the Duma case or any other criminal act, charges should have been filed and the court allowed to rule.”

Because administrative detainees are held under secret information and evidence that cannot be accessed by the detainees or their lawyers, any connection between Ettinger and the Duma case is purely speculative, Grossman noted.

The Israeli authorities’ decision not to conduct a transparent investigation into Ettinger’s suspected role the case is also indicative of the general lack of law enforcement in the occupied West Bank.

According to Yesh Din, over 85 percent of investigations into violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians are closed without indictments and only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli settler attacks result in a conviction.

According to Grossman, the dearth of adequate policing by Israeli forces in the West Bank is largely due to lack of ability as well as willingness to address ideologically-motivated crimes against Palestinians.

Attacks by settlers are often carried out under the armed protection of Israeli forces who rarely make efforts to protect Palestinians from such attacks.

Over 500,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 221 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2015.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘No new military base in Palmyra’ – Russian Defense Ministry refutes AP report

RT | May 17, 2016

The Russian Defense Ministry has denied allegations reported by the AP that Russia is constructing an army base in the ancient city of Palmyra, which has recently been freed from Islamic State.

“There are no ‘new army bases’ on the territory of the Syrian town of Palmyra and there will never be,” Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in an official statement on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the AP news agency came out with a  stating that the Russian military is building an army base in Palmyra within the zone listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site, and without permission from authorities. The agency cited an “American heritage organization” and a “top Syrian archaeologist” as its sources, as well as satellite images that appear to show some construction on the edge of the ancient site.

Yet, as General Konashenkov states, the pictures show something else entirely.

“The satellite pictures of this area posted by UNESCO, which were mentioned by AP, show the temporary camp of the International Demining Center of Russia’s Defense Forces, which were demining the archaeological monument of Palmyra, and now the broader area of Tadmor city.”

The installation of this temporary camp until the area is cleared of explosives has been approved at the Ministry of Culture and other official departments of the Syrian State,” Konashenkov pointed out.

Furthermore, Maamoun Abdulkarim, head of the Antiquities and Museums Department in Damascus, who the AP cited as its source, told the agency himself “that IS [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL] is close to the town and the presence of Russian and Syrian troops is important to ensure that the site remains in government hands.”

Palmyra was captured by jihadist in May of 2015. The Syrian Army backed by Russian forces managed to recapture the city on March 27th of this year, an event largely viewed as a victory and turning point in the war against the terrorists in Syria.

During 10 months of brigandry, executions, and other types of savagery, many ancient monuments were damaged to a worse extent than during all of the centuries they had stood there. A number of remarkable monuments, including the Arch of Triumph, the Temple of Baalshamin, and the iconic 2,000-year-old Bel Temple, are now in ruins.

Moreover, the city and adjacent territories were left ridden with explosive devices, which have now been largely demined by Russian sappers. A Russian-drafted resolution on the role of UNESCO in restoring the devastated ancient city of Palmyra back to its former glory was unanimously approved by the organization in April, with restoration work set to begin when the area is fully cleared of mines.

Read more:

US reporters ignore first journalist tour of liberated Palmyra organized by Russian military – MoD

UNESCO unanimously approves Russian resolution on Palmyra restoration

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

A Framework for Reclaiming Reality

By Jonathan Revusky • Unz Review • May 16, 2016

I believe I first read George Orwell’s essay, Politics and the English Language, as part of the reading list for an English 101 college class. I was a teenager at the time and I don’t believe I really understood what Orwell was getting at. I think my understanding was at the superficial level. I mostly just took it to be a screed against crappy writing — which it is, of course. But it is much more than that. Some of the ideas in that essay were later developed in his magnum opus, the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, wherein the government of Oceania are designing a new language called Newspeak, which brings to mind the current-day scourge of “political correctness”. Come to think of it, Nineteen Eighty-Four is also something I first read around that time but did not fully understand.

Now, here we are, 66 years after Orwell’s untimely death and many of these ideas he explores in his writing are still topical and relevant. In fact, increasingly so. When it comes to understanding the pervasive propaganda matrix, one important aspect is seeing how language is manipulated to frame issues. Much of this is quite blatant. Anybody paying the slightest attention ought to notice how different words are used depending on the desired framing. Thus, Osama Bin Laden was a “freedom fighter” when he was fighting the Soviet Union, but when he started opposing the United States, he became a “terrorist”. Likewise, if an enemy uses a torture method like water-boarding, it is simply called torture and is utterly deplorable. When we do it, it is “enhanced interrogation”.

I wonder what Orwell would have made of what happened to the word “gay”. Surely, in his time, it was perfectly normal to say: “You seem in a very gay mood today!” Nowadays, not so much. Granted, language is a living, dynamic thing, and thus tends to evolve over time. However, I don’t think this particular change of meaning happened organically. It seems to be an example of deliberate framing. While there already was a perfectly good, neutral term, “homosexual”, and we still have that word, it seems there was a conscious attempt to promote “gay” as an alternative term with a more positive connotation, what with its normal meaning of “merry” or “cheerful”.

The case where Orwell would have had a field day, though, is with the word “conspiracy”. The official dictionary definition has not changed since Orwell’s day. From the Merriam-Webster dictionary online:

  • a secret plan made by two or more people to do something harmful or illegal
  • the act of secretly planning to do something that is harmful or illegal

By that definition, a conspiracy theory would just mean some theory that posits that two or more people planned in secret to do some shit. Nonetheless, the very same Merriam-Webster dictionary has a separate entry for “conspiracy theory”.

  • a theory that explains an event or situation as the result of a secret plan by usually powerful people or groups

Truth told, I don’t think the above definition of “conspiracy theory” is really adequate, at least assuming that the purpose of a dictionary is to document how words are actually used. This definition comes nowhere near fully capturing to what extent this has become a term of derision. In popular usage, the person who believes in conspiracies, the conspiracy theorist, is taken to be self-evidently crazy and anything he says can be dismissed out of hand.

I assume that Orwell would note that the way this term is used contains built-in question-begging. By all means, tell me that what I am saying is absurd and crazy, be my guest. Except, now, you do have to demonstrate that it is!

Well, apparently not… When somebody says: “Oh, that’s just a conspiracy theory!” don’t hold your breath waiting for the explanation of why the theory is wrong. ‘Cause it ain’t coming! No, somehow the person who trots out this cliché is relieved of any obligation to demonstrate, using facts and logic, that an idea is mistaken. It’s enough to just say “Conspiracy theory!” like some sort of magical incantation that short-circuits all the necessary debate.

Actually, it is well established that this state of affairs did not come about on its own, but rather, was deliberately engineered by the CIA in the wake of the Kennedy assassination. Nonetheless, I do wonder whether they anticipated just how successful they would be in implanting this notion in the public mind — that believing in so-called “conspiracies” was the hallmark of a nutter.

We can read old novels and characters say things like: “I’m feeling a bit queer, it must be something I ate.” But nowadays, most of us find some other way to express the idea. Rage, by all means, that yet another perfectly innocent English word has suffered an identity theft. But know that it serves no purpose. Once you recognize that a word has become effectively unusable, you just have to look for an alternative term to use. In the case of “conspiracy”, I would propose that we talk more in terms of “deep events” and “deep politics”. Using that framing, the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 are quintessential “deep events” that require a “deep political analysis” to be properly understood. I think this is a good counter-framing of the question. If you say, quite correctly, that Lee Harvey Oswald was just a patsy and there was a high-level conspiracy to kill Kennedy, you’ve all but conceded the debate, given how the word “conspiracy” has been hijacked. If you say, on the other hand, that the JFK assassination was a “deep event” that requires a “deep political analysis”, you are implicitly saying that the people repeating this discredited “Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone” nonsense are not engaging in a deep political analysis, but rather a shallow analysis. I mean to say, there really is the need to think about how they manipulate language to frame these questions and to come up with a counter to that.

When it comes to this sort of framing, aside from the overloading of already existing words, like “conspiracy” or “gay”, there is also the invention of new words — neologisms to use the more academic term. For our purposes here, there is nothing particularly interesting about the cases where a new word is invented to describe something that really did not exist before and now does — like “smartphone”. What we need to examine are the cases where new words enter common usage for propaganda or framing purposes.

In this vein, the term “blowback” really merits some careful consideration. The aforementioned Merriam-Webster dictionary claims that the first known use of the word is from 1973, while the wikipedia page on the term cites CIA internal documents from 1954. Said documents expressed the concern that the CIA operation to overthrow the government of Mossadegh in Iran could lead to “blowback”. (Boy, did it ever!)

It seems that the discrepancy between Wikipedia’s first usage of the term in 1954 and Merriam-Webster saying that it was 1973 is that Merriam Webster was referring to public usage. It does not seem under dispute that “blowback” began as internal CIA shorthand that meant unintended (and undesirable) consequences of CIA covert operations.

The “Blowback” theory of terrorism

At this point in time, the term “blowback” seems to have gone from being internal CIA jargon to being a sort of shibboleth of the left-liberal intelligentsia. The basic idea is that the major terrorist events of recent history, such as 9/11 or 7/7 in London or the recent events in Paris and Brussels, are a natural (yet unintended) result of the brutal policies of Western governments in far off (largely Muslim) countries. Anybody listening to these people would surely conclude that this is a well established phenomenon. But what is odd is that when you step back and look at this with ample historical perspective, the whole concept looks pretty dubious. Let’s consider certain key facts:

The British Empire…

Some people look back on it fondly, but it is safe to say that a lot of people around the world really did not appreciate it; they had their reasons… So, if “blowback terrorism” is a real, important phenomenon, the British Empire should have had a huge “blowback” problem, no? Surely angry Indians or Africans or Arabs were plotting how they would make their way to London and kill some random Brits to express their dissatisfaction with British government policies, no? And surely, the local authorities in the home country of Britain were on constant guard against this “blowback”, right?

Well…. not exactly….

The police departments of American cities have been acquiring military grade weaponry to deal with an alleged terrorism threat, yet throughout the entire period of the British empire, English cops felt no need to even carry a firearm. Ain’t that something?

What is striking about this is that, not only were the authorities of the time not concerned about “blowback”, they did not even have a word for it! The very word had not been invented yet! This phenomenon, disgruntled people showing up in London or Paris or New York and carrying out terrorist attacks as a result of whatever meddling in their country — there was not even a word for it!

Well, the sun set on the British Empire a while back and it could be that something happened since then such that blowback terrorism became a big problem. Scan forward a bit…. the United States carpet bombed villagers throughout Southeast Asia, killing literally millions of innocents, yet I cannot recall a single “blowback” terrorism incident, where somebody who lost his entire family, entire village, decided to get even by blowing up some Americans in California. It never happened, I think not even once. There are large ethnic Vietnamese populations in the U.S. and all it would take is one embittered person, but no… nothing.

Fast forward to the 1980′s and we can make some similar comments about very brutal U.S. policies in Central America, the support for Nicaraguan contras or the Salvadoran death squads. Surely the U.S. suffered a wave of “blowback terrorism” as a result, no? Uh,.. no. There was a large population of refugees from those countries. Most of them, in my own personal experience, are very nice people, but out of hundreds of thousands of them, surely all it would take is one person with a grudge to do a suicide bombing or some such thing. But it doesn’t seem to have happened.

So, on the face of it, so-called “blowback terrorism” is a very dubious concept, no? There are so many situations where, by all rights, there should have been plenty of “blowback terrorism”, or some amount anyway, but it just never happened! And I don’t mean to say that it was rare. No, there simply was not a single case! I think it bears repeating: it was so rare that nobody had yet bothered to invent a word for it!

Magical Incantations

In the above, I referred to the term “conspiracy theory” as a magical incantation of a sort. Another way of putting this is that the use of the term contains built-in question-begging. The person using this loaded term is strongly implying that the so-called “conspiracy theory” is self-evidently crazy. However, that is precisely what needs to be demonstrated!

The term “blowback” is similar. It contains an implicit theory of events that there should be a need to demonstrate. Specifically, the concept of “blowback” is that a certain outcome is an unfortunate, and unintended consequence of whatever policy. Thus, the rise of these “jihadist” or “islamist” groups such as Al Qaeda or ISIS/Daesh was an unanticipated consequence of U.S. policy. Or to put it another way, this is a bug, as opposed to a feature.

But is that true? Well, maybe… but that is precisely what there is a need to demonstrate, no? The person using this “blowback” term is simply begging the question, assuming the proposition that needs to be proven, that whatever phenomenon is an unintended consequence of the government’s foreign policy — as opposed to it being an intended result.

Of course, more importantly, the people using the term “blowback terrorism” assume invariably that the people whom the authorities claim carried out the terrorist attacks in question actually did so! They always seem to be willfully ignorant of all of the independent research that shows that the people in question were just patsies. But hey, that’s what the other magical incantation, “conspiracy theory”, is for: to dismiss all of that independent research! Don’t even bother to look at any of that. Those are all just “conspiracy theories”.

Now, the foregoing discussion leads us two key questions — well, I think they are two separate questions, albeit rather entangled with one another:

  • Given that the “blowback” theory of terrorism is quite tenuous at best (since in situations where there should have been a lot of blowback terrorism, there was none) then why is the entire American “intelligentsia” so invested in this explanation? In particular, figures such as Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges and many others (practically anybody who writes for Counterpunch and other such “alternative media”) never tire of telling us that an event such as 9/11 is “blowback”. Likewise for the recent events in France and Belgium.
  • The aforementioned people are not stupid. So, must we conclude that they are being consciously dishonest when they use these magical incantations such as “blowback” or “conspiracy theory”?

I think the first question can be answered with some level of confidence. As for the second question, whether these people are being consciously dishonest, it is hard, maybe impossible, to come to any determination on that. Possibly these various intellectual gatekeepers are not even being consciously dishonest for the most part. In their own minds, they are honest, but they have internalized a kind of tortuous mental gymnastics to such a degree that it has become second nature to them. This is the phenomenon that I shall now explore.

The HIQI revisited and introducing the concept of TITT

In a previous article, I introduced the concept of the HIQI, which is the “High IQ Idiot”. A HIQI is a person with a fairly high IQ and typically a high level of formal education (the two things usually go together obviously…) who has an abysmally low BDQ, Bullshit Detection Quotient.

Now, nobody really took much issue with the HIQI or BDQ concepts. I guess it corresponds to most people’s casual observation: somebody can have an arbitrarily high IQ and still be utterly incapable of seeing through political propaganda (a.k.a. bullshit). In fact, the bullshit can be really laughably absurd, cartoonish — hence my terminology of RRN, Roger Rabbit Narrative — yet the HIQI in question cannot see through it. So I made that observation in the article and I don’t think hardly anybody really disagreed with me, but what I didn’t do was make any attempt to explain why.

Well, actually, I don’t even presume to know fully the reasons why so many high IQ people are so easily taken in by absurd political propaganda. What I’ll attempt to do though is to lay some groundwork that could be useful in exploring the question. What I shall do now is go off on what looks like a tangent and introduce a sort of archetypal situation. My point may not be initially obvious but please bear with me.

Let us consider an intellectual figure in the Middle Ages, who has a great interest in understanding celestial phenomena. Let’s say this early astronomer has developed a theory to explain a certain phenomenon — the solar eclipse, let’s say. Let us call this theory A.

Theory A is a very clear, very elegant model of the solar eclipse. However, it has a very major problem. Theory A is based on the heliocentric model, i.e. the earth revolves around the sun. Well, that is not the problem precisely. After all, the earth does revolve around the sun. The problem is that, at this point in time, this was considered to be heresy. (Heresy, by the way, is the older term, what they used to call inconvenient truths, long before the CIA came up with the term “conspiracy theory”.)

Or, alternatively, the real problem is that our medieval astronomer does not fancy getting burnt at the stake, which is what they used to do to conspiracy theorists heretics back then. (Medical knowledge was not as advanced as it is now, but it was generally understood that this was not good for one’s health.)

So what is one to do? Well, let’s say that the not so heroic hero of our story decides to tear up his elegant theory A and comes up with a new theory, theory B.

Theory B is very inelegant and complicated compared to theory A. It has a very contrived feel about it. Despite having invented the theory himself, our astronomer is not really very happy with it, thinking that it is actually kind of self-contradictory and doesn’t withstand very much scrutiny at all.

The advantage of theory B — actually its only positive point — is that it is not heretical. Theory B is based on the sun revolving around the earth, as Church doctrine claims. What happens now in the story is that, much to this person’s surprise, theory B is widely lauded and accepted by the leading minds of the day.

Okay, this is the story and we can make certain observations about it. First of all, we do not need to introduce any new terminology to describe theory A. Theory A is simply the correct explanation, the truth. Yes, it runs counter to Catholic Church dogma, but hey, guys, check out this radical concept:

Objective reality simply exists. It is not the slightest bit constrained by Catholic Church dogma… OR any other dogma!

Now, theory B is, of course, not the correct explanation. In fact, it only comes into existence because the correct explanation, theory A, is taboo, heresy. And that, obviously, is why the leading thinkers of the day rush to endorse theory B and disavow theory A. Theory B is not a very good theory, it doesn’t withstand much serious scrutiny, but it won’t get you burnt at the stake!

Now for some new terminology. The phenomenon that the above story illustrates is Taboo Induced Tortuous Thinking (or Theorizing) which we can call TITT for short. Such tortuous thinking leads to Taboo Induced Tortuous Theories, or TITTs, of which theory B above is an example. (As for the approved pronunciation of TITT, I’m not going to be very prescriptive. I always assumed that the pronunciation of HIQI was pretty clearly “hickey”. As for TITT, if the final T is pronounced separately, it is Tit-Tee. If the term really catches on, we could have a vote. It does not strike me as such an important matter to resolve in any case. For example, if British readers prefer to think that BDQ stands for “Bollocks Detection Quotient”, I have no particular objection. A native speaker of Spanish would tend to pronounce TITT more like “teat”, which also seems appropriate. So I’m willing to leave this up to the reader.)

Grasping TITT

Now, once you understand this concept, then (as per Doctor Freud) you start seeing TITTs everywhere! You open the op-ed page of the New York Times or some such mainstream publication and you just see nothing but TITTs — explanations for events that are very tortuous and contrived and you realize they are necessary because the correct, simpler explanation is a taboo. It dawns on you that many of the conventional explanations of events that you were taught as part of your (mis)education are actually just examples of Taboo Induced Tortuous Thinking. Thus:

  • The mainstream history of the Second World War is chock full of TITTs.
  • The Warren Commission explanation of the Kennedy assassination is a TITT.
  • The 9/11 Commission Report is a TITT.
  • All the mainstream media explanation of what happened in Ukraine in the past few years is TITT.
  • The theory of “Blowback Terrorism” is a TITT.

This is a very incomplete list, of course…

Yes, WW2, a.k.a. the “Good War”. I was hesitant to go there for obvious reasons, but aspects of the conventional history are such major examples of TITT that I think we really need to examine it a moment. So here goes:

On 22 June 1941, Germany launched an invasion of the Soviet Union. Some months later, the German army was occupying a large part of the country, had encircled major Soviet army groups, taking millions of prisoners. And not long after that, German troops were on the outskirts of Moscow and Leningrad. So, at this historical juncture, when this country, the Soviet Union, the flagbearer of international communism, was on the verge of collapse, what did the major capitalist countries do?

  1. Simply stay out of it and hope that Hitler’s Germany would finish off the USSR, and thus remove the specter of communism for good
  2. Actively join in with Germany to make sure they finished off the USSR
  3. Pull out all the stops in order to save the USSR, economic aid, lend-lease, sending supplies and equipment…

Well, it’s a silly question, right? You all know the answer. (I hope to hell you know the answer. If you don’t, go get some remedial education…) What happened is number 3. The question to consider, though, is this: let’s say you didn’t know that the answer was 3, let’s say you are Rumpelstiltskin and you went to sleep on 21 June 1941 and just woke up. And now you are catching up on the last 75 years of history, what would you guess?

I put it to you that option 3 is very surprising. In particular, why would the United States, the pre-eminent capitalist power in the world, be so intent on saving the Soviet Union? My own guess would be that option 1 is the most likely as there is no strong reason for the U.S. in particular to want the Soviet Union to survive. Surely the owners of the country, the capitalist corporate elite, would very much like to the see the Soviet Union destroyed.

Now, option 2 seems less likely than option 1 because, okay, they may not like the German regime that much either, not enough to actively ally with it. In any case, in principle, you need a positive reason to actually get involved in a fight; simply remaining neutral in a conflict so far away is the default option, no? So option 2 seems less likely than option 1. However, a priori, option 3 seems even less likely, since it is very hard to understand why the capitalist elite of the U.S.A. would prefer Stalin over Hitler, certainly not enough to get involved actively on Stalin’s side.

Yet we know what happened: option 3. But why? It is pretty well established that Hitler never had any designs against the West and his war aims were in the East. In 1941, Hitler would have been delighted to make a separate peace with Churchill, thus freeing him to concentrate on smashing the Soviet Union. He hated the idea of a two-front war which had been Germany’s downfall in the previous war. No, certainly after Germany invaded the USSR, Britain was, effectively, staying in the war against Germany specifically to save the USSR, to save Stalin.


Well, the intent of this essay is not to be a lesson in World War 2 history any more than to discuss medieval astronomy. I just want to make a simple point here.

If you believe that you can explain this episode of history without any reference to the political power of world Jewry, I believe you have your work cut out for you.

I suppose few readers need it explained to them that Jewish power generally is a very major taboo. To engage in “conspiracy theories” is one thing, but to engage in “anti-semitic conspiracy theories”? Hardly the way to advance your academic career if you are an ambitious historian, eh?

So, again, just like the medieval astronomer who does not want to be branded as a heretic, you must come up with an alternative explanation that avoids the taboo. So you engage in some “Taboo Induced Tortuous Thinking”. You publish some TITT. Pass Go, collect tenure….

Now, okay, if you were up to that, and you’ve come up with your TITT explanation of why Britain and the U.S. helped Joe Stalin in his hour of need, it’s time for the next exercise in TITT and… boy, it’s a doozy:

Explain how, some 60 years later, the same countries basically, America and Britain, got embroiled in something called the Global War on Terror, all of these disastrous military adventures in Muslim countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria…. (Actually, one should mention Iran, where they have tried but not been successful in getting something going. Yet….)

Explain how we got into this huge mess BUT:

  • WITHOUT any mention of the Jewish lobby, a.k.a. the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC, to use the term of James Petras)
  • WITHOUT any mention of false flag terrorism (specifically as a tool to manipulate public opinion in favor of the disastrous wars)

I welcome you to have a go at it, but I am pretty sure that any explanation that you come up with which fails to mention both the ZPC and false flag terrorism will be yet another example of pure TITT.

Earlier, I posed the question: given how tenuous and implausible the blowback theory of terrorism is when you examine it, why is the the left-liberal intelligentsia in the U.S.A. so committed to it? Well, I think the foregoing analysis basically answers the question. “Blowback” is a perfect example of TITT in action, Taboo Induced Tortuous Thinking. The correct explanation is taboo so there is a need to come up with an alternative. The “Blowback” theory of terrorism is a TITT but there are many other examples of TITT as well.

Doublethink, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Emperor’s New Clothes

When you reach a certain adult understanding of the world, sometimes you look back on stories you heard or read as a child with a much greater understanding. We all probably heard some version of the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in our childhood. We have the little naive child who just says: “That man is naked”. And we have the adults in the story, courtiers… sycophants… who fulsomely praise the emperor’s fine new clothes. I suppose that the idea is that the sycophants in the story know perfectly well that the king is naked but pretend that he is clothed. What I wonder nowadays is whether the courtiers, at least some of them, actually believe somehow that the king is clothed despite the fact that their own eyes tell them that he is not! In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell introduces doublethink, the capacity of the indoctrinated person to hold contradictory views at the same time.

So, applying it to this story, doublethink would allow somebody to see a naked man right in front of him with his own two eyes and simultaneously believe — I mean sincerely believe — that he is dressed in a fine set of clothes! In light of this, I now wonder whether some of the courtiers really possess this Orwellian doublethink capability and thus believe (on some level, somehow) that the king really is wearing clothes, while others are just pretending.

In this whole doublethink/emperor’s new clothes vein, consider a video that I found quite appealing, entitled “This is an Orange”:

I later learned that the man who created that video, the late Anthony Lawson, was a retired advertising professional. It shows. In just over two minutes, he really gets to the heart of the issue. At the end, he shows the viewer an orange and basically says: “Are you going to believe somebody if they say this is an apple?” That is a rhetorical question obviously, but I guess the retort could be: “Damn right. I’ve gotten so good at doublethink that you can show me an orange and I can sincerely believe it is an apple.” (Okay, I know these people would never really say that. They aren’t that self-aware!)

The other question I posed above is whether the people pushing the “blowback” and the other TITT explanations are being consciously dishonest. This is a tough question. How many people, for example, really believe in “gender fluidity”? Do so many people sincerely believe that Bruce Jenner is really, somehow a woman? I have no idea, it’s mind-boggling. There really is this problem when you live in a society that is so utterly suffused with… drenched in… bullshit; it can be very hard to know who really believes all of it and who is just playing along. There can be massive rewards for going along with all the bullshit, and though they no longer burn people at the stake, the personal cost people pay for going against it can be very high. My own speculation is that, in most cases, somebody whose entire career in academia or as a commentator is based on espousing TITTs is never going to admit even to himself that he is basically a charlatan. That is simply too disturbing. If so, this means that many people really have mastered doublethink. The problem is that doublethink produces a lot of mental tension. In fact, there is a technical word in psychology for this: cognitive dissonance.

TITT Monger Tactics (TMTs)

Now, regardless of whether they are being consciously dishonest or really have mastered Orwellian doublethink, the various intellectual gatekeepers, the TITT mongers, do not debate in an intellectually honest manner. Their discourse is invariably chock full of all manner of illegitimate argumentation: straw men, arguments from ignorance, you name it. Especially question-begging. They just constantly assume as a given the proposition that they need to demonstrate.

The basic problem they have is that they are espousing an explanation of events that does not really fit the available facts. Not only that, but there is usually a competing explanation (the taboo explanation like the earth going round the sun) that does fit the facts. In my last article, I wrote a section about how the most basic HIQI approach to defending ridiculous stories (WOP, Wings on Pigs narratives) is that they simply never cede the initiative. So there is always an onus on you to respond to them, but they never have to respond to you. I got a fair bit of positive feedback about that and I think that it is maybe the most practically useful part of the article.

As infuriating as it is, one should probably not take it too personally. When somebody is up bullshit creek without a paddle, they must resort to illegitimate tactics. They have no other option. So, as a public service, it could be useful to outline the basic tactics they use. Also, I find it useful, just for myself, to sit down and delineate it all.

So, let’s look at it from their point of view. If you are committed to your TITTs, you will typically resort to a set of basic tactics. These, we can call “TITT Monger Tactics” or TMTs for short:

  1. Guard the Gate! Suppress or disallow the competing explanation that actually does explain the facts.
  2. The Memory Hole. Suppress or ignore the facts that do not conform to your explanation.
  3. Coincidence Theory. Also Lower the Bar. Recognize the facts that do not fit your theory but attribute it all to “coincidence”. What you will typically need to do is to “lower the bar” such that you no longer need to prove that your theory is true, just that it is possible.
  4. Blowhard Tactics. This is a grab-all category, a varied repertoire of bullying methods — pseudo-intellectual browbeating, hyper-emotionalism… Also, never concede a debating point.

The first tactic above, guard the gate, is self-explanatory. Actually, it’s not really a debating tactic per se; you just don’t let the other people into the debate. Typically, you just say that’s a “conspiracy theory” and it’s like: “We’re a respectable venue, we don’t discuss conspiracy theories here!” Well, if they do discuss a so-called “conspiracy theory”, it’s some sort of hit piece in which a straw-man version of the theory is presented and then lampooned. The actual independent researchers (whom they call “conspiracy theorists”) will never be allowed to present and defend their case in an open, intellectually honest setting.

The next TMT, the memory hole, comes from Orwell of course. The protagonist of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith, works in the Ministry of Truth (sic) and when he comes across some item, like a photo or news clipping that contains one of these pesky facts that do not support the current official dogma, it goes down the memory hole. I think the single most glaring example in recent history of this is the collapse of the third building, WTC7, on the day of 9/11. How do they explain the fact that a third building collapsed into its own footprint and was definitely not hit by a plane? The most important component of the establishment strategy is simply to suppress the fact, just never mention it. In fact, the 9/11 Commission issued a report and simply never mentioned the third building.

Another example of the memory hole in action is when the coup in Ukraine against the constitutional, elected government, is presented as some sort of popular revolution. People who depend solely on Western mainstream media for their information are not likely to know about this:

Yes, two American functionaries discussing who will form the next Ukrainian government after the U.S. instigated armed coup popular revolution.

In this vein, “doublethink” (again from Orwell) can be understood as a fallback. Let’s say some pesky little fact, like the above video, pops out of the “memory hole” and you are confronted with it. (Poor little things, they must hate it when that happens.) Now, if you are one of these TITT mongers, obviously you never concede that this pesky little fact refutes your TITT. For example, in this case, the TITT you would be embracing is that there was a popular revolution in Ukraine and that the new government was put in there by the Ukrainian people. Say you are shown the above video, two unelected American officials deciding who will be in the next Ukrainian government, with no input from any Ukrainian. Of course, you will never admit that it is what is clearly is, proof that “Yatz” is an American-installed puppet leader of a puppet regime. No, you just keep hanging onto the TITT. When shown the orange, you maintain that it is an apple. Maybe you can give way a tiny bit to appear reasonable. “Okay, I know it looks a little bit like an orange, and yeah, I can see why an uneducated person such as yourself would be duped into thinking that it is, but I’m a Harvard-educated expert and I can assure you that this is definitely an apple.” So, there, you make a show of being open-minded and reasonable while still maintaining the appropriate arrogant condescending tone. Anyway, you can vary the parameters on all that a fair bit, but of course, I’m sure you understand, whatever you do, you never admit that the orange actually is an orange! “The collapse of building 7 does look a tiny bit like a controlled demolition and those “conspiracy theorists” try to make a big deal out of that, but we know those people are all whack jobs….”

Coincidence Theory

The other major approach to pesky facts is coincidence theory; you explain away the pesky fact by saying that it is some sort of “coincidence”. Well, of course, what that really means is that your TITT offers no explanation of the fact. Now, in a normal, non-corrupted intellectual process, if a theory doesn’t fit the facts and another theory does, you eventually must abandon the first theory in favor of the second one. But that doesn’t happen here. (Surprise, surprise…) No, if you’re committed to your TITT — “blowback” or “lone nut gunman who self-radicalized” — you never let go of it. But you do have a problem. What you need to do now is you need to drastically lower the bar. Rather than having to prove that your theory, your TITT, is true — or even likely — you only need argue that it is within the limits of the possible. That’s a great trick because all kinds of utterly far-fetched things are still possible. For example, if I told you that a monkey banged away at a keyboard randomly and produced a Shakespeare sonnet, you would (quite reasonably) say that this is impossible. But no! It’s not absolutely impossible! So in a mode of absolute logical rigor, we cannot say it is impossible. The problem is that the probability, while not a true absolute zero, is so infinitesimal that, in terms of everyday common-sense use of language, it is perfectly reasonable to say that this is simply impossible!

So if your TITT, to be viable, requires some event of a very low order of probability, you simply argue that it is possible, i.e. it is not absolutely impossible….

So…. therefore it happened.

(Did you catch the sleight of hand there?)

And then you dance your victory dance, chant your victory chant: “I really showed those conspiracy theorists, kicked their asses!

The classic example of “lowering the bar” would surely be the “single bullet theory”, which is part of the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President Kennedy. The JFK research community tends to call this the “magic bullet theory”, to emphasize the far-fetched nature of the story, one bullet causing seven different wounds on two men.

In any case, this “single/magic bullet theory”, proposed by an ambitious young lawyer by the name of Arlen Specter, is really an archetypal TITT. The task of the Warren Commission was to issue a report saying there was only one shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, who was acting alone. They had some thorny problems though. Oswald’s alleged murder weapon was a cheap Italian-made WW2 surplus bolt action rifle. Given the very short window of time, Oswald could only have fired at most three shots (and even that is in dispute) yet they had to explain eight wounds on two different men, Kennedy and John Connally. The utterly obvious explanation is that, in fact, there were other people shooting. However, that is the theory that could not be admitted, it’s the taboo, thus the need for this very contrived explanation, the TITT, the magic bullet theory.

Now, I do not know offhand precisely how unlikely the magic bullet story is — assuming that it even is possible. However, I think it is quite safe to say that it is pretty damned unlikely — sufficiently unlikely that a reasonable, honest person, given the available facts, would conclude that Oswald could not have acted alone. What you’ll notice when you look at the arguments of people who defend the Warren Commission story is that they have set the bar very low for themselves. They don’t even try to argue that the single bullet theory is particularly likely, or that it is more likely than the alternative theory of more than one shooter. They simply set out to argue that it is possible. Nothing more. It’s possible, therefore it happened, so I win the argument…. And, of course, you should know that, not only do they set the bar very low for themselves, but they also set the bar impossibly high for anybody on the other side of the debate.

With so many of these deep events, they are running a drill of the event on the same day. If this were a crime mystery from Agatha Christie, surely something like this would be a very big clue. For example, with the Sandy Hook shooting, Adam Lanza (for no obvious reason) decides to get a gun and shoot his momma and then go to the nearest primary school and shoot a bunch of cute little kids. On the very same day, they are running a “live shooter drill” which is a simulacrum of the event that actually happens. This was also the case with 9/11. The actual attacks coincided with large-scale drills in which a scenario being drilled is multiple plane hijackings.

Here is an article I came across a couple of years ago and I think I belly laughed when I read it.

The author of the article, one Mike Rothschild, outlines a large number of cases in which a terrorist attack coincides with a drill, at a level that it is beyond belief that this is a pure coincidence, and then argues that the so-called “conspiracy theorists” are crazy because they do not accept that all this is just a coincidence. It’s a funny article because the author seems so oblivious to the fact that what he has written refutes itself! In any case, it’s the same sort of thing. The rock-solid chain of reasoning goes something like this: “It is possible that the conjunction of drills and real events is a coincidence, therefore it is, therefore people who suggest otherwise are crazy.”

Blowhard Tactics

What I call blowhard tactics is really a set of different things. I already outlined some of them in my previous essay. One is simply never relinquishing the initiative. Now, any game or sport with formalized rules is structured in a fair manner. Consider tennis. The serve (the initiative) alternates: if I play a tennis match with you, and in this game, I am the one serving, then the next game, you serve. Well, needless to say, to the people we are talking about here, a fairly structured situation like that is anathema. They need to play a rigged game. So, for them, it’s more like a tennis match in which they always get to serve, and even if their opponent executes a perfect return of serve, they don’t recognize any need to respond to that. They just grab another ball and serve again and never concede the previous point. Actually, this is what characterizes the blowhard tactics in a debate generally speaking: never, ever concede a point. Like so:

Monty Python meant this as a comedy skit, but little did they know that it would prove to be invaluable training material for participants on Sunday morning talk shows.

Actually, thinking of Sunday morning talk shows, this immediately brings to mind another major blowhard tactic, the resort to hyper-emotionalism. Basically, you affect that you are infuriated at the person who brings up whatever uncomfortable fact. For example, somebody asks legitimate questions about 9/11 and you angrily claim that they are dishonoring the memory of the victims of that day. Don’t concern yourself that it doesn’t make any sense. (Does it have to? Does it make sense to say that an orange is an apple?) The idea is that if somebody’s brother or best friend died in some murky incident, then a person who investigates and tries to get to the bottom of what happened is dishonoring their loved one’s memory. Or, conversely, the people who are trying to cover up the circumstances of the death of one’s spouse or family member are honoring them?! Go figure that one out.

The key thing to understand here is that if you can say something, even something nonsensical, with enough emotional intensity, it somehow becomes convincing — for weak-minded people, I suppose, but that is most people and is good enough. They’ll tell you as much in any sales training course: emotional intensity sells… excitement… So this is well understood by sales people. It is less well understood by bookish, intellectual types.

Counter-Tactics, Turning the Tables, Fighting Fire with Fire

While I think it is already somewhat empowering to outline all the illegitimate tactics these people use, the real question is now how to counter this. I don’t presume to have all the answers. It’s easier to say what not to do than what to do. The old adage that the best defense is a good offense has a real core of truth to it. As I said in my previous essay, regardless of the game or contest, a passive, reactive stance is almost never a winning strategy — in any activity. Another way of putting this is that we must be on the lookout as to how to seize the initiative — to turn the tables. What this amounts to, I think, is not accepting the preset framing of the issue and finding the appropriate counter-framing.

Take the JFK assassination, which is really the canonical “conspiracy”. After all, the whole weaponized “conspiracy theory” construct was created by the CIA as part of the subsequent cover-up. What has happened is that they have managed to create such a stigma around the term “conspiracy” that, as I point out earlier, we probably should do our best to avoid using the very word — just like we avoid using “gay” or “queer” for their original meanings.

One does have to hand it to them. They really have created a bizarro inverted world. A HIQI can fall for any bullshit and there is really no attached stigma. He can believe in the magic bullet that caused seven wounds on two people. He can find it perfectly normal that a reporter announces the collapse of a steel-framed skyscraper (from fire) before it happens. He can believe that cartoon characters portrayed by actors, like Jihadi John and Jihadi Joseph, are real people. He can fall for any crude hoax and nobody questions his sanity. But if you say that there was a “conspiracy” to kill Kennedy (when there obviously was) then you are crazy. Go figure…

I guess the perceptive reader will have noticed that I have invented some rather… well… silly sounding terminology. The High IQ Idiot, the HIQI… or, a Taboo Induced Tortuous Theory, i.e. a TITT. And saying that somebody who espouses such theories however badly they fit the facts is “grasping TITTs”. This is not just sophomoric humor (though, okay, there is a bit of that) but rather, an attempt to turn the tables. They say: “You’re crazy, you believe in conspiracies”. Now we can say: “Get real, you HIQIs. Let go of the TITTs.” So, yes, I am very consciously inventing terminology to cast these people in a ridiculous light. If they are going to have these question-begging magical incantations, like “conspiracy theory” to smear us as crazy for telling the truth, then it’s high time we fight fire with fire. Rather than deal with the truth, that these are Deep State false flag operations, they invent these pathetic silly theories like “blowback”. To call their silly explanations TITTs and refer to these people as “TITT mongers” seems right and proper to me. Who knows? Maybe other people feel the same way and my terminology will catch on.

Reclaiming Reality

In my last essay, I started with the Matrix, and developed the idea of the Roger Rabbit mental world, in which cartoons are superimposed on reality. In this essay, I started by riffing on George Orwell and ended up developing the idea of magical incantations and TITT. Somehow this reminds me of the proverb of the blind men and the elephant. Are we not all blind men groping at the same creature and reporting different things? Or finding different terms to describe the same thing? There is Orwell with “doublethink” and the “memory hole”. Ron Unz refers to “American Pravda”. Here I am with Roger Rabbit narratives and Taboo Induced Tortuous Theories. Well, hey, there is nothing wrong with having more than one term to refer to roughly the same thing — slime, ooze, goo… twaddle, nonsense, bullshit, bollocks… Whether you call it the Matrix or the Roger Rabbit mental world, or American Pravda, there is this feeling of a need to reclaim reality.

We live in a world of great specialization. Given the vastness of human knowledge at this point in time, few people can have expert domain knowledge in more than one or two fields. The optimal career strategy for most people (assuming they have the capacity and the follow-through) is to develop deep expertise in some fairly narrow field. This means that, when it comes to anything outside that narrow field in which you are a specialist, you would defer to the corresponding experts in that domain. In principle, that sounds right, but as we see, there really is a need to be able to detect bullshit, to be able to discern when the alleged experts are bullshitting you. But how can you tell if you are not an expert in the relevant field (or fields)?

For example, suppose we are watching CNN and some general or expert on military affairs is on there explaining how they had to incinerate some isolated village in the Hindu Kush, using a drone or cruise missile or whatever…. in order to defend America. I ask you: do we need domain expertise to know that this is absolute bullshit?! (Criminally insane bullshit to boot…)

Or suppose some economist from Harvard or some place comes on espousing “austerity economics”, telling us, essentially, that the way a country gets rich is by impoverishing itself. Can a non-specialist, a generalist, figure out that the prestigious professor is, in fact, talking shit?

Obviously, I think the answer to the above two questions is yes. Yes, I believe that, armed with only generalist knowledge and a certain baseline BDQ level, we can state that the aforementioned “experts” are full of shit. (Shout after me: Yes, we can!) It occurs to me that some of what I’m talking about here, the HIQI/BDQ concept, is reclaiming the ability of the generalist to come to some understanding of the world. We need not (and must not) be so utterly defenseless against all this pompous bullshit.

If we were to form a new 12-step group, HIQIs anonymous, the redemption of the chronic HIQI must start with some first step, and what would that be? Well, I guess like with Alcoholics Anonymous, it would start with a recognition of the problem.

HIQI: Hi, my name is Jon and I’m a HIQI.

Group: Hi, Jon. (in unison)

HIQI: You know, I used to read the New York Times every morning.

Group: OMG! (collective gasp)

HIQI: Yeah, and I believed every word of it.

Group: (another collective gasp)

HIQI: Yep, I ate up all that shit with a spoon — every morning with my corn flakes. etcetera, etecetera

Step by step. Reclaim reality. There are things one can know without being a specialist. Pigs cannot fly. If a naked man is standing in front of you, you believe what you see. If somebody tries to tell you otherwise, he’s bullshitting you. If somebody tries to tell you that an orange is an apple, it doesn’t matter how many phD’s he’s got, he’s talking shit… Just tentatively, these might be some initial steps towards reclaiming reality.

When they show you something that is basically a cartoon and ask you to accept that this is real, you do not need domain expertise to reject it. This is for a very simple reason: a grownup knows that the real world ain’t a cartoon. And getting back to a main theme of this essay, TITT issue, a theory is a TITT if the only reason for its existence is to avoid a taboo, i.e. it’s taboo-induced. So another rule could be:

If you can see that something is a TITT, then you don’t need specialized domain knowledge to know that the theory is not correct.

Or, to put it more succintly, TITTs are always bullshit. (A Brit would say that TITTs are always bollocks, which, I know doesn’t make a lot of sense to the uninitiated, but never mind…)

Concluding Remarks

I must make a point about one aspect of this essay. I’m quite aware that I broke a major taboo by alluding to the revisionist history of the Second World War. Asking people to reconsider the conventional analysis of WW2 is akin to heresy. Well, actually, it is not akin to heresy. It is heresy! The History Channel Atlanticist version of WW2 is, to all intents and purposes, a secular religion at this point in time.

Arguably, I did not have to go there at all. There are so many examples of what I call Taboo Induced Tortuous Thinking, TITT, that I did not need to use this one. But, finally, I think I did have to go there because it makes no sense to decry all these taboos and then consciously skirt around one, especially when it is the biggest taboo of them all.

Now, if you want to attack what I am saying, feel free. However, I would dissuade you from one particular line of attack (that I already anticipate). I anticipate people asking me (quite aggressively) why I think I am such an expert on the Second World War. Since I anticipate the question, I answer it in advance.

No, I do not consider myself very knowledgeable about WW2. In fact, many people who comment on this very website have a much more detailed knowledge of the history of that period. But, you see, that is a completely invalid critique of my point in this article. My first example of what I call TITT was the medieval astronomer. Was I implying at all that I myself have any expertise in astronomy? No, actually, I was implying the opposite! I was saying that, even given my lack of expertise, I can say with absolute confidence that an explanation of the solar eclipse that is based on the sun going round the earth cannot be correct.

So, if your line of attack is that I am not an expert in WW2 history, or that I lack expertise in whatever other thing, then you might as well save us both the bother. In fact, such a critique would mean that you don’t understand what I am saying. You see, I’m not claiming any particular expertise in anything. I am reclaiming the ability of the generalist, with a certain level of BDQ, to come to some understanding of the world. We have to stop being so defenseless against all the bullshit, stop being such HIQIs. Truth told, all the right/left sorts of debates are starting to bore me. I now tend to believe that the central front in the battle for the future is…. Roger Rabbit!!!

Now, when it comes to all these various big honking issues — capitalism versus socialism, religion versus secularism, ethno-nationalism versus multiculturalism, right to bear arms versus gun control, spank your kids or don’t spank your kids… — I don’t mean that these various debates are not important. The problem is that I have this growing, gnawing sense that one cannot really debate these things or anything else if one does not escape from the Roger Rabbit mental universe. In other words, when people end up allowing the various debates to be framed for them by the MSM via Roger Rabbit narratives, the situation is hopeless from the get-go. Whatever your mix of views on these issues, if you insist on believing in cartoons, you can really only be part of the problem, not any solution. Not to say that taking the red pill or putting on the sunglasses solves things on its own. It’s not sufficient, but it is a necessary initial step.

On or around September 11 of every year, we have articles that come out, especially in the left-liberal media, decrying what has happened since that fateful day over a decade ago. What has become of the country: the loss of basic constitutional freedoms, the perpetual paranoia and state of warfare, the criminality, the wars, the torture… But such articles will still pretend that the official Roger Rabbit narrative is true — the bearded religious fanatic in the cave and the nineteen suicide hijackers.

Well, guys, if you really care so much, really care — I mean care more about it than about your career in the commentariat — maybe it’s time to let go of all the TITTs and grow yourselves a pair of bollocks.

Fan mail (as well as hate mail) can be directed to revusky at gmail.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , | 2 Comments

Trump blasts Tony Blair for Iraq War ‘disaster’

Press TV – May 17, 2016

US presidential candidate Donald Trump says British leaders should put the needs of their own country before that of the United States, and should not act as Washington’s poodles.

In an interview broadcast on Tuesday, Trump censured former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his collusion with former US President George W. Bush over the 2003 Iraq invasion.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said Blair did a “terrible job” by invading Iraq, adding that he should have stood up to Bush. He also warned the Chilcot inquiry will be a “disaster” for the Labour Party’s prime minister.

The Chilcot inquiry was launched in 2009 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown into the Iraq invasion by the United States and the UK and its aftermath that saw British forces remained in the Arab country for six years. The 2.6 million-word report will finally be published on July 6.

“I don’t see it as war crimes,” Trump said. “I just think he goes down as somebody who did a terrible job. Bush got us into it, that’s a terrible, terrible thing that happened.”

The billionaire businessman said he would respect a UK prime minister who ignored America’s wishes and paid attention to the interests of the British people. “It should be for the people, it shouldn’t be a word about the relationship.”

“I’m surprised somebody would see the Bush relationship as being that important,” he said.

“Tony Blair made a mistake. You can’t just go in haphazardly. You folks got involved in that mess just as we did and now look at it,” Trump added.

According to a White House memo, titled “Secret… Memorandum for the President”, Blair had agreed to support the war a year before the invasion even started, while publicly the British prime minister was working to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

The document, which was sent by then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell to President Bush on March 28, 2002, also disclosed that Blair agreed to act as a spin doctor for Bush and convince a skeptical public that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction, which actually did not exist.

In response, Bush would flatter Blair and give the impression that London was not Washington’s poodle but an equal partner in the “special relationship.”

Powell told Bush that Blair “will be with us” on the Iraq war, and assured the president that “the UK will follow our lead in the Middle East.”

Blair has always denied the claim that he and Bush signed a deal “in blood” at Crawford, Texas, to launch a war against Iraq that began on March 20, 2003, that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The Powell memo, however, showed how Blair and Bush secretly prepared the Iraq war plot behind closed doors at Crawford.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

As NATO Beckons, Ukraine Signs Military Cooperation Plan With Turkey

Sputnik – 16.05.2016

KIEV – Ukraine and Turkey have signed on Monday a military cooperation plan, Ukrainian General Staff said.

“Taking into account the geopolitical situation in the Black Sea region, we are continuing to develop military cooperation with Turkey as a Ukrainian strategic partner. In recent time the cooperation between Ankara and Kiev gained additional weight. Today Ukrainian and Turkish Armed Forces signed an implementation plan of military cooperation,” the General Staff said in a statement.

The General Staff says the document would determine areas of military cooperation between the states until 2020. It is also said to contain a number of steps aimed at improving operational capabilities of the Ukrainian army.

“Implementation of practical measures in the military sphere will allow, on the one hand, to strengthen the ties with our southern neighbor, and, on the other hand, to focus efforts on the final goal – Ukrainian readiness to join the NATO in 2020,” the General Staff added.

In December 2014, the Ukrainian parliament amended two laws rejecting its neutral status. Ukraine set the goal to be ready for joining NATO in 2020. In mid-December 2015, Ukraine and NATO signed a roadmap on defense-technical cooperation.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Architects of disastrous Iraq War still at large

By Neil Clark | RT | May 16, 2016

Bombs going off in Iraq? Well, it happens all the time – what’s there to see? Let’s all move along shall we?

On Thursday, at least 13 people were killed in a ISIS attack on a café in Baghdad for the ‘crime’ of watching a football match. The day before at least 88 people were killed in three explosions across Baghdad; scores were injured.

Yes, these events got some coverage on Western news channels, but they weren’t the main stories.

The neocon war lobby, who, remember, couldn’t stop talking about Iraq in 2002/3, and saying what a terrible threat the country’s WMDs posed to us, would of course like us to forget the country altogether now. They’ve told us lots of times we need to ‘move on’ from talking about the 2003 invasion and instead focus on more important things – like how we can topple a secular Syrian president who’s fighting the very same terrorists who are bombing Baghdad.

The next few months though are going to be very tricky for the ‘Don’t Mention the Iraq war’ clique. After years of delay, the Chilcot report into the war, is finally coming out in Britain in July.

There are legitimate fears, bearing in mind the composition of the panel, that Chilcot will seek to whitewash those who took us to war. Another Establishment cover-up certainly can’t be discounted.

But if Sir John does try and tell us that the war was all an ‘honest mistake’, he and his panel will be a laughing stock. Whatever Chilcot’s conclusions are, the important thing is that Iraq will be back in the news headlines, and this represents a great opportunity for those of us who opposed the 2003 invasion to ensure that justice is finally done.

It’s surely clear to almost everyone now that we were lied into an illegal war which not only destroyed an entire country, but which also led directly to the rise of IS and helped bring terrorism to Europe too.

We don’t need Sir John to tell us that Bush and Blair knew there were no WMDs in Iraq – as common sense and logic tells us that the deadly duo would never have invaded if they had genuinely believed the lurid claims contained in the decidedly dodgy dossiers.

Everything we were told by the neocons in the lead-up to war was false. To quote the title of a book by the antiwar British MP Peter Kilfoyle, there were Lies, Damned Lies and Iraq.

‘Saddam has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes’.

Horse manure.

‘Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction program is active, detailed and growing’.


‘Saddam Hussein… has the wherewithal to develop smallpox’.


‘We know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade… We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases’.


‘The threat is very real and it is a threat not just to America or the international community but to Britain.’ Has the trash been collected yet?

Yet up to now- the people who peddled this bullsh** – bullsh** which led to the deaths of up to 1m people and made the Middle East and the world a far more dangerous place – have got off scot-free.

Tony Blair did step down as British Prime Minister in 2007, but remains a free man. Almost every week, we read in the newspapers about the vast fortune he has accumulated, with much of the money coming from governments and countries which benefited from the toppling of Saddam.

Blair’s partner in crime, George W. Bush, also remains at liberty.

Politicians who voted for an illegal war and who have failed to offer us a mea culpa for doing so – have advanced – but not to the jailhouse. In 2005, as I explained here, the pro-war David Cameron was fast-tracked by the neocons to become Conservative leader – at the expense of the more popular anti-war Ken Clarke.

In the US, the pro-Iraq war Hillary Clinton is the current odds-on favorite to succeed Barack Obama in the White House.

Disgustingly, obscenely, and outrageously, some of the most vociferous opponents of the Iraq war – the people who correctly predicted the disasters that would occur if Iraq was invaded – have seen their careers go into reverse because of the stance they took.

In Britain, George Galloway, the antiwar socialist who toured the country warning us what would happen if we listened to Bush and Blair, has become an outcast. The man who was branded as a ‘traitor’ by the pro-war Blairites for his stance on Iraq, is still waiting for his expulsion from the Labour Party to be rescinded. In the US, as anti-war activist Don Debar pointed out on Crosstalk this week, people of note who had opposed the Iraq war resolution – including Cynthia McKinney and Dennis Kucinich – had been ‘driven out of Congress by one mechanism or another’.

Meanwhile, in the media, the journalists and neocon think-tankers who fed us with conspiracy theories about Saddam’s non-existent WMDs and his non-existent links with Al Qaeda, continue to push pro-war propaganda. They are regular guests on Establishment friendly current affairs programmes on both sides of the Atlantic, imparting their ‘expertise’ on Syria and other foreign policy issues. No one ever has the courage to ask them: ‘Whatever happened to those WMDs you told us that Iraq had?

At the same time, the journalists who called Iraq right – like the great John Pilger – are absent from Western television news and current affairs programs. You’ve got to tune in to channels like RT – which the hawks would dearly love to see taken off air – to see them.

I’m sure that future generations will be shocked and appalled at how the Iraq war brigade were able to get away with it for so long.

Iraq, in the words of John Pilger, was an ‘epic crime against humanity’, yet its perpetrators and enablers, are still there, thirteen years on, making money before our very eyes.

How have we allowed this to happen?

The pro-Iraq war clique have attempted to use political correctness to their advantage. As part of what Media Lens calls ‘demonising dissent’ – the fourth component of a ’Propaganda Blitz’, principled opponents of western foreign policy are smeared as ‘sexist’ ‘misogynist‘, ‘racist’ ‘conspiracy theorists’ ‘genocide deniers’ and even ‘dictator apologists’ -in the hope that no one will draw attention to the ‘morally virtuous’ attacker’s support for wars which have led to over 1m people losing their lives.

Identity politics has played into the war lobby’s hands. The neocons and Blairites are able to pose as ‘progressives’ who care deeply about the rights of women and gay people- while all the time pushing for wars which will kill women and gay people in great numbers.

To deflect attention away from their crimes, the Iraq war clique- who have clearly read their Orwell- also encourage us to focus on the alleged crimes of ‘Official Enemies’. We’re supposed to feel outraged over a non-existent ‘Russian invasion of the Ukraine’, while forgetting about the all too real invasion of Iraq and its catastrophic consequences.

Cowardly Establishment-friendly ‘leftists’, who wouldn‘t retweet or cite with approval an article published by RT because of fear they’d be excommunicated from the ‘Elite Journos Club’, happily engage with unrepentant pro-Iraq war propagandists on social media.

In doing so these western faux-progressives are effectively saying that the deaths of up to 1m Iraqis don’t matter. They’re sticking a big two fingers up at the people of the global south who have been the victims of neocon wars and destabilization campaigns.

The Nuremberg Judgement was quite clear: To launch a war of aggression, as the Iraq war clearly was, ‘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.’

If we have retain any proper sense of right and wrong, then it is those who carried out the ‘supreme international crime’ – and their supporters – who should be treated as pariahs, and not those who opposed the crime.

We don’t just need to campaign for Bush and Blair and their cohorts to stand trial (a website here offers a reward for those who attempt a peaceful citizen’s arrest of Blair), but also to work for a new law to bar those who supported the ‘supreme international crime’ and who have not publicly apologized for their actions, from holding public office in Britain and America.

In Germany after WW2, Denazification took place to remove Nazis from positions of power and influence. We need similar action today against the serial warmongers of the 21st century.

In Britain, the publication of Chilcot in July should provide the perfect opportunity for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who opposed the Iraq invasion, to go on the front foot against his pro-war critics in the party who have worked tirelessly to undermine his democratic mandate.

There’s still hope too that in America, Hillary the Hawk can be defeated.

Let’s talk about Iraq. Let’s talk about it incessantly. Let’s make sure that there is a reckoning, at long last, in 2016. Because if we want justice for the 1m or so people who lost their lives because of pack of lies nothing else will do.

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

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May 17, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poof! It’s Forgotten

Five Ways the Newest Story in Iraq and Syria is… That There Is No New Story

By Peter Van Buren | TomDispatch | May 15, 2016

One of the most popular apps these days is Snapchat. It allows the sender to set a timer for any photo dispatched via the app, so that a few seconds after the recipient opens the message, the photo is automatically deleted. The evidence of what you did at that party last night is seen and then disappears. POOF!

I hope you’ll forgive me if I suggest that the Iraq-Syria War against the Islamic State (ISIS) is being conveyed to us via Snapchat. Important things happen, they appear in front of us, and then… POOF!… they’re gone. No one seems to remember them. Who cares that they’ve happened at all, when there’s a new snap already arriving for your attention? As with most of what flows through the real Snapchat, what’s of some interest at first makes no difference in the long run.

Just because we now have terrifyingly short memories does not, however, mean that things did not happen. Despite the POOF! effect, events that genuinely mattered when it comes to the region in which Washington has, since the 1980s, been embroiled in four wars, actually did occur last week, last month, a war or two ago, or, in some cases, more than half a century in the past. What follows are just some of the things we’ve forgotten that couldn’t matter more.

It’s a Limited Mission — POOF!

Perhaps General David Petraeus’s all-time sharpest comment came in the earliest days of Iraq War 2.0. “Tell me how this ends,” he said, referring to the Bush administration’s invasion. At the time, he was already worried that there was no endgame.

That question should be asked daily in Washington. It and the underlying assumption that there must be a clear scope and duration to America’s wars are too easily forgotten. It took eight long years until the last American combat troops were withdrawn from Iraq. Though there were no ticker tape parades or iconic photos of sailors smooching their gals in Times Square in 2011, the war was indeed finally over and Barack Obama’s campaign promise fulfilled…

Until, of course, it wasn’t, and in 2014 the same president restarted the war, claiming that a genocide against the Yazidis, a group hitherto unknown to most of us and since largely forgotten, was in process. Air strikes were authorized to support a “limited” rescue mission. Then, more — limited — American military power was needed to stop the Islamic State from conquering Iraq. Then more air strikes, along with limited numbers of military advisers and trainers, were sure to wrap things up, and somehow, by May 2016, the U.S. has 5,400 military personnel, including Special Operations forces, on the ground across Iraq and Syria, with expectations that more would soon be needed, even as a massive regional air campaign drags on. That’s how Washington’s wars seem to go these days, with no real debate, no Congressional declaration, just, if we’re lucky, a news item announcing what’s happened.

Starting wars under murky circumstances and then watching limited commitments expand exponentially is by now so ingrained in America’s global strategy that it’s barely noticed. Recall, for instance, those weapons of mass destruction that justified George W. Bush’s initial invasion of Iraq, the one that turned into eight years of occupation and “nation-building”? Or to step a couple of no-less-forgettable years further into the past, bring to mind the 2001 U.S. mission that was to quickly defeat the ragged Taliban and kill Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. That’s now heading into its 16th year as the situation there only continues to disintegrate.

For those who prefer an even more forgotten view of history, America’s war in Vietnam kicked into high gear thanks to then-President Lyndon Johnson’s false claim about an attack on American warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. The early stages of that war followed a path somewhat similar to the one on which we now seem to be staggering along in Iraq War 3.0 — from a limited number of advisers to the full deployment of almost all the available tools of war.

Or for those who like to look ahead, the U.S. has just put troops back on the ground in Yemen, part of what the Pentagon is describing as “limited support” for the U.S.-backed war the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates launched in that country.

The new story is also the old story: just as you can’t be a little pregnant, the mission never really turns out to be “limited,” and if Washington doesn’t know where the exit is, it’s going to be trapped yet again inside its own war, spinning in unpredictable and disturbing directions.

No Boots on the Ground — POOF!

Having steadfastly maintained since the beginning of Iraq War 3.0 that it would never put “American boots on the ground,” the Obama administration has deepened its military campaign against the Islamic State by increasing the number of Special Operations forces in Syria from 50 to 300. The administration also recently authorized the use of Apache attack helicopters, long stationed in Iraq to protect U.S. troops, as offensive weapons.

American advisers are increasingly involved in actual fighting in Iraq, even as the U.S. deployed B-52 bombers to an air base in Qatar before promptly sending them into combat over Iraq and Syria. Another group of Marines was dispatched to help defend the American Embassy in Baghdad after the Green Zone, in the heart of that city, was recently breached by masses of protesters. Of all those moves, at least some have to qualify as “boots on the ground.”

The word play involved in maintaining the official no-boots fiction has been a high-wire act. Following the loss of an American in Iraqi Kurdistan recently, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter labeled it a “combat death.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest then tried to explain how an American who was not on a combat mission could be killed in combat. “He was killed, and he was killed in combat. But that was not part of his mission,” Earnest told reporters.

Much more quietly, the U.S. surged — “surge” being the replacement word for the Vietnam-era “escalate” — the number of private contractors working in Iraq; their ranks have grown eight-fold over the past year, to the point where there are an estimated 2,000 of them working directly for the Department of Defense and 5,800 working for the Department of State inside Iraq. And don’t be too sanguine about those State Department contractors. While some of them are undoubtedly cleaning diplomatic toilets and preparing elegant receptions, many are working as military trainers, paramilitary police advisers, and force protection personnel. Even some aircraft maintenance crews and CIA paramilitaries fall under the State Department’s organizational chart.

The new story in Iraq and Syria when it comes to boots on the ground is the old story: air power alone has never won wars, advisers and trainers never turn out to be just that, and for every soldier in the fight you need five or more support people behind him.

We’re Winning — POOF!

We’ve been winning in Iraq for some time now — a quarter-century of successes, from 1991’s triumphant Operation Desert Storm to 2003’s soaring Mission Accomplished moment to just about right now in the upbeat third iteration of America’s Iraq wars. But in each case, in a Snapchat version of victory, success has never seemed to catch on.

At the end of April, for instance, Army Colonel Steve Warren, a U.S. military spokesperson, hailed the way American air power had set fire to $500 million of ISIS’s money, actual cash that its militants had apparently forgotten to disperse or hide in some reasonable place. He was similarly positive about other recent gains, including the taking of the Iraqi city of Hit, which, he swore, was “a linchpin for ISIL.” In this, he echoed the language used when ISIS-occupied Ramadi (and Baiji and Sinjar and…) fell, language undoubtedly no less useful when the next town is liberated. In the same fashion, USA Today quoted an anonymous U.S. official as saying that American actions had cut ISIS’s oil revenues by an estimated 50%, forcing them to ration fuel in some areas, while cutting pay to its fighters and support staff.

Only a month ago, National Security Adviser Susan Rice let us know that, “day by day, mile by mile, strike by strike, we are making substantial progress. Every few days, we’re taking out another key ISIL leader, hampering ISIL’s ability to plan attacks or launch new offensives.” She even cited a poll indicating that nearly 80% of young Muslims across the Middle East are strongly opposed to that group and its caliphate.

In the early spring, Brett McGurk, U.S. special envoy to the global coalition to counter the Islamic State, took to Twitter to assure everyone that “terrorists are now trapped and desperate on Mosul fronts.” Speaking at a security forum I attended, retired general Chuck Jacoby, the last multinational force commander for Iraq 2.0, described another sign of progress, insisting that Iraq today is a “maturing state.” On the same panel, Douglas Ollivant, a member of former Iraq commander General David Petraeus’s “brain trust of warrior-intellectuals,” talked about “streams of hope” in Iraq.

Above all, however, there is one sign of success often invoked in relation to the war in Iraq and Syria: the body count, an infamous supposed measure of success in the Vietnam War. Washington spokespeople regularly offer stunning figures on the deaths of ISIS members, claiming that 10,000 to 25,000 Islamic State fighters have been wiped out via air strikes. The CIA has estimated that, in 2014, the Islamic State had only perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 fighters under arms. If such victory statistics are accurate, somewhere between a third and all of them should now be gone.

Other U.S. intelligence reports, clearly working off a different set of data, suggest that there once were more than 30,000 foreign fighters in the Islamic State’s ranks. Now, the Pentagon tells us, the flow of new foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria has been staunched, dropping over the past year from roughly 2,000 to 200 a month, further incontrovertible proof of the Islamic State’s declining stature. One anonymous American official typically insisted: “We’re actually a little bit ahead of where we wanted to be.”

Yet despite success after American success, ISIS evidently isn’t broke, or running out of fighters, or too desperate to stay in the fray, and despite all the upbeat news there are few signs of hope in the Iraqi body politic or its military.

The new story is again a very old story: when you have to repeatedly explain how much you’re winning, you’re likely not winning much of anything at all.

It’s Up to the Iraqis — POOF!

From the early days of Iraq War 2.0, one key to success for Washington has been assigning the Iraqis a to-do list based on America’s foreign policy goals. They were to hold decisive elections, write a unifying Constitution, take charge of their future, share their oil with each other, share their government with each other, and then defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, and later, the Islamic State.

As each item failed to get done properly, it became the Iraqis’ fault that Washington hadn’t achieved its goals. A classic example was “the surge” of 2007, when the Bush administration sent in a significant number of additional troops to whip the Iraqis into shape and just plain whip al-Qaeda, and so open up the space for Shiites and Sunnis to come together in an American-sponsored state of national unity. The Iraqis, of course, screwed up the works with their sectarian politics and so lost the stunning potential gains in freedom we had won them, leaving the Americans heading for the exit.

In Iraq War 3.0, the Obama administration again began shuffling leaders in Baghdad to suit its purposes, helping force aside once-golden boy Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and pushing forward new golden boy Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to — you guessed it — unify Iraq. “Today, Iraqis took another major step forward in uniting their country,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said as Abadi took office.

Of course, unity did not transpire, thanks to Abadi, not us. “It would be disastrous,” editorialized the New York Times, “if Americans, Iraqis, and their partners were to succeed in the military campaign against the Islamic State only to have the politicians in Baghdad squander another chance to build a better future.” The Times added: “More than 13 years since Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, there’s less and less reason to be optimistic.”

The latest Iraqi “screw-up” came on April 30th, when dissident Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s supporters broke into the previously sacrosanct Green Zone established by the Americans in Iraq War 2.0 and stormed Iraq’s parliament. Sadr clearly remembers his history better than most Americans. In 2004, he emboldened his militias, then fighting the U.S. military, by reminding them of how irregular forces had defeated the Americans in Vietnam. This time, he was apparently diplomatic enough not to mention that Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese 41 years ago on the day of the Green Zone incursion.

Sadr’s supporters crossed into the enclave to protest Prime Minister Abadi’s failure to reform a disastrous government, rein in corruption (you can buy command of an entire army division and plunder its budget indefinitely for about $2 million), and provide basic services like water and electricity to Baghdadis. The tens of billions of dollars that U.S. officials spent “reconstructing” Iraq during the American occupation of 2003 to 2011 were supposed to make such services effective, but did not.

And anything said about Iraqi governmental failures might be applied no less accurately to the Iraqi army.

Despite the estimated $26 billion the U.S. spent training and equipping that military between 2003 and 2011, whole units broke, shed their uniforms, ditched their American equipment, and fled when faced with relatively small numbers of ISIS militants in June 2014, abandoning four northern cities, including Mosul. This, of course, created the need for yet more training, the ostensible role of many of the U.S. troops now in Iraq. Since most of the new Iraqi units are still only almost ready to fight, however, those American ground troops and generals and Special Operations forces and forward air controllers and planners and logistics personnel and close air support pilots are still needed for the fight to come.

The inability of the U.S. to midwife a popularly supported government or a confident citizen’s army, Washington’s twin critical failures of Iraq War 2.0, may once again ensure that its latest efforts implode. Few Iraqis are left who imagine that the U.S. can be an honest broker in their country. A recent State Department report found that one-third of Iraqis believe the United States is actually supporting ISIS, while 40% are convinced that the United States is trying to destabilize Iraq for its own purposes.

The new story is again the old story: corrupt governments imposed by an outside power fail. And in the Iraq case, every problem that can’t be remedied by aerial bombardment and Special Forces must be the Iraqis’ fault.

Same Leadership, Same Results — POOF!

With the last four presidents all having made war in Iraq, and little doubt that the next president will dive in, keep another forgotten aspect of Washington’s Iraq in mind: some of the same American leadership figures have been in place under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and they will initially still be in place when Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump enters the Oval Office.

Start with Brett McGurk, the current special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS. His résumé is practically a Wikipedia page for America’s Iraq, 2003-2016: Deputy Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran from August 2013 until his current appointment. Before that, Senior Advisor in the State Department for Iraq, a special advisor to the National Security Staff, Senior Advisor to Ambassadors to Iraq Ryan Crocker, Christopher Hill, and James Jeffrey. McGurk participated in President Obama’s 2009 review of Iraq policy and the transition following the U.S. military departure from Iraq. During the Bush administration, McGurk served as Director for Iraq, then as Special Assistant to the President, and also Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008 McGurk was the lead negotiator with the Iraqi Government on both a long-term Strategic Framework Agreement and a Security Agreement to govern the presence of U.S. forces. He was also one of the chief Washington-based architects of The Surge, having earlier served as a legal advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority from nearly the first shots of 2003.

A little lower down the chain of command is Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland.  He is now leading Sunni “tribal coordination” to help defeat ISIS, as well as serving as commanding general of the Combined Joint Task Force. As a colonel back in 2006, MacFarland similarly helped organize the surge’s Anbar Sunni Awakening movement against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

And on the ground level, you can be sure that some of the current colonels were majors in Iraq War 2.0, and some of their subordinates put their boots on the same ground they’re on now.

In other words, the new story is the old story: some of the same people have been losing this war for Washington since 2003, with neither accountability nor culpability in play.

What If They Gave a War and No One Remembered?

All those American memories lost to oblivion. Such forgetfulness only allows our war makers to do yet more of the same things in Iraq and Syria, acts that someone on the ground will be forced to remember forever, perhaps under the shadow of a drone overhead.

Placing our service people in harm’s way, spending our money in prodigious amounts, and laying the country’s credibility on the line once required at least the pretext that some national interest was at stake. Not any more. Anytime some group we don’t like threatens a group we care not so much about, the United States must act to save a proud people, stop a humanitarian crisis, take down a brutal leader, put an end to genocide, whatever will briefly engage the public and spin up some vague facsimile of war fever.

But back to Snapchat. It turns out that while the app was carefully designed to make whatever is transmitted quickly disappear, some clever folks have since found ways to preserve the information. If only the same could be said of our Snapchat wars. How soon we forget. Until the next time…

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during the “reconstruction” of Iraq in his book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. He writes about current events at We Meant Well. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent. His next work will be a novel, Hooper’s War.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment