Written by Chris Floyd
Saturday, 20 February 2010 01:22
This is the lesson that the United States government -- the government of the historic progressive, Barack Obama -- taught the children of America today:
"Children, the law is nothing but a rag smeared with blood and shit.
"It is only for suckers, rubes and losers.
"Claw your way to the top -- by any means necessary -- and the law can never touch you.
"This is the American way."
Yes, as the Washington Post reports, the United States government announced today that there will be no penalties whatsoever for the lawyers who were ordered by their superiors, George Bush and Dick Cheney, to write memos "justifying" the tortures that Bush and Cheney wanted to unleash upon captives held indefinitely without charges, without evidence, without trial, without rights.
Dick Cheney has openly confessed to instructing his pathetic little minions, his nasty little modern-day Vyshinksys, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, to write the scraps of paper of twisted legalese meant to pre-emptively exonerate the top officials of the United States government for the unambiguously criminal actions they were to inflict upon their uncharged, untried prisoners -- some of whom had actually been purchased, like slaves, from traffickers in human bodies -- around the world. Cheney boasts openly of supporting and facilitating torture techniques -- such as waterboarding -- which have historically been prosecuted as high crimes by American authorities, and are, in fact, capital crimes under the laws of the United States today.
But on Friday, February 19, 2010, the administration of President Barack Obama declared that not only will it not prosecute the avowed and boastful perpetrators and accomplices of the capital crime of torture, it will not impose even the mildest of administrative or professional reprimands upon them. For the foulest of tortures, reaching even to murder, the government of the United States will do nothing: no investigation, no prosecution, no penalty.
I have run out of words to describe how vile this is. The mind recoils against fully comprehending the moral depravity of our leaders -- and the reeking stench of their pious hypocrisy.
"The kinge is in this worlde without lawe and maye at his own lust doo right and wronge and shall geve acomptes but to God only." Thus William Tyndale, in his 1528 work, Obedience of a Christian Man, helped usher in the doctrine of the "divine right of kings," overthrowing centuries of political, religious and philosophical thought and practice which had insisted that rulers too were fully subject to the law, as A.D. Nuttall points out. In support of the latter, he quotes Richard Hooker -- no radical, but a "profoundly traditional" churchman: "Where the lawe doth give dominion, who doubteth that the King who receiveth it is under the lawe?" (Shakespeare the Thinker, p. 140.)
But in our degenerate day, Hooker's reasonable formulation has been waterboarded into oblivion, and we are back to Tyndale's cringing doctrine. Our bipartisan kinges are indeed without lawe: no penalty, no punishment for these vile malefactors, these barbaric abusers and corrupters of our children.
Written by Chris Floyd
Friday, 19 February 2010 00:25
In an astounding development, the brand-new director of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- who was narrowly elected to the post a few months ago with the strong, one might say insistent, backing of the United States -- has just issued his very first report on Iran's nuclear program. And guess what the new, American-backed director said? Go on, you'll never guess.
Give up? Well, hold on to your hats -- the American-backed director, Yukiya Amano, has "broken with the more cautious style of his predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei" -- you know, the man who was right about Iraq's lack of a nuclear weapons program -- to suggest (sans proof, of course) that there might be "possible military dimensions" to Iran's nuclear program, which just happens to be the most internationally inspected and regulated nuclear power program in history.
That's right; coming just days after Hillary Clinton's fresh bout of fear-mongering about Iran, the American-backed Amano echoed the talking points of the Bush-Obama Administration. (Should we not finally just give the proper name to the "continuity" of our militarist-corporatist rulership?) The Bush-Obama regime has continually proclaimed its unshakable belief that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. So unshakable is this belief that nothing on earth can alter it -- not Iran's willingness to send its uranium to other countries for enrichment, and not the acknowledgment by the White House itself that Iran lacks the technical capability of enriching uranium even to a level far below that needed for weaponization.
But yes, it is true that any nuclear program might have "possible military dimensions" somewhere down the line. That indeed is not outside the realm of possibility. Which means, of course, that the United States and its allies and clients are fully justified in taking any action against Iran they please. Because the Bush-Obama Administration -- indeed, the entire American political and media elite -- now operate entirely on Dick Cheney's "One Percent Doctrine," which was delineated by journalist Ron Suskind. As we noted here awhile back:
As Suskind notes, it was Cheney who enunciated the certifiably paranoid principle that governs the regime's behavior: If there is even a one-percent chance that some state or group might do serious harm to the United States, then America must respond as if that threat were a certainty — with full force, pre-emptively, disregarding any law or institution that might hinder what Bush likes to call the "path of action." Facts and truth are unimportant; the only thing that matters is the projection of unchallengeable power: "It's not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence," said Cheney. "It's about our response."
And make no mistake. Despite the frequent Kabuki-like displays of conflict between the current managers of the Bush-Obama regime and Dick Cheney, they remain united on the essential principles of the modern American state: projecting dominance and protecting the rich. Indeed, one reason why American politics today seems so bitter and vitriolic and personal is because there are no real policy disagreements anymore -- and hence, no real politics. There are only two corrupt factions of imperial courtiers squabbling over the perks and spoils of office. They follow the same policies, feed at the same trough; there is nothing of substance left for them to fight about. And so they spend their time in ever-more frenzied bouts of blaming each other for the disastrous results of the foul and evil principles they both embrace so avidly.
Clinton's blackly comic blather -- denouncing Iran's lack of democracy while praising Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- has been regarded in some quarters as a "shift" in U.S. policy, a move away from the "engagement" with Iran that Barack Obama has supposedly been undertaking. But as Stephen Kinzer notes, this "engagement" has been a transparent and sinister falsehood from the word go:
Hillary Clinton's sudden volley of shots at Iran marks the end of an engagement policy that never really began. She wants to convince the world that the regime in Tehran is opposed to serious talks with the west. That may be true, but we'll probably never know because in fact, no one has offered such talks. ...
Whether the increasingly splintered regime in Iran would or could respond to a serious offer of negotiations is highly uncertain. What is clear, though, is that the regime has not been offered this option. The Obama administration, like its predecessor, has made clear that it is interested in negotiating only one thing: curbs on Iran's nuclear programme. No country, however, would agree to negotiate only on the question that an adversary singles out, without the chance to bring up others that it considers equally urgent. ...
A more promising approach would be to tell Iran what President Nixon told China 35 years ago: if you agree to consider all of our complaints, we will consider all of yours. Clinton has made clear that the US will make no such offer. Instead it clings to the decades-old American policy toward Iran: make demands of the regime, threaten it, pressure it, sanction it, seek to isolate it, and hope for some vaguely defined positive result.
And in a powerful article at Antiwar.com, Peter Casey details both Barack Obama's long-standing bellicosity toward Iran -- and what's more, his administration's move beyond Cheney's One-Percent Doctrine, which, as Casey notes, did require at least the barest modicum of evidence, manufactured or otherwise:
Since the turn of the year, the U.S. has been deploying the heavy machinery needed to put war plans against Iran into action. In January, the Obama administration forced several Gulf countries to agree to install American ballistic-missile defense emplacements on their soil. At the same time, the Pentagon announced a new "first line" of defense in the Persian Gulf, reinforcing the U.S. Navy’s already considerable armada in the region with Aegis cruisers equipped with advanced radar and anti-missile systems. Moreover, under Obama, the plans for missile-shield systems Bush crammed down on Poland and the Czech Republic, which triggered furious protests from Russia, have been modified to concentrate on potential medium and short-range missile attacks from Iran. More recently, the Romanian government reportedly has agreed to accept U.S. anti-missile batteries on its territory to thwart theoretical Iranian rockets. ...
A lot of this recent effort looks and sounds similar to the run-up to Bush-Cheney’s Iraq invasion. There is, however, a profound difference in the current administration’s targeting of Iran. It is essentially following Cheney’s model for preventive war – with one exception: It has dispensed with relying on any tangible facts to "make the case" for war. Instead, it has made the Iranian leadership’s intent the decisive factor.
Bush-Cheney lowered the bar for starting war by adopting the doctrine that in a "post-9/11 world," preventive war is not only permissible but morally imperative. Cheney’s innovation lay in arguing that "failure to act" was inherently the greater risk, even if the likelihood of terrorist or other attack was trifling. ... Cheney’s "1 percent solution," however, had an Achilles heel. It required the putative existence of actual, physical fact. The possibility that WMDs may exist may be small – but it still must exist. But the drawback to any plan based on assertion of fact is the possibility of refutation – maybe not in time to prevent a horror show, but sooner or later. In other words, under the Cheney Doctrine, the casus is subject to falsification, even long after the belli has broken out. Which is, of course, exactly what happened in Iraq.
The Cheney Doctrine’s very low bar for war was bad enough. Obama and his own neoconnish coterie of advisers, however, are tossing away the bar altogether. ... Obama’s advisers also learned from Cheney’s mistakes. Picking up on Iran where Bush-Cheney left off, the Obama hawks are not about to try to justify war based on testable factual claims – or any fact-based claims whatsoever. If the Obama/Netanyahu war factions get their war, they will do so based on the article of faith that "we cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon." To ensure that objective, they have concluded, Iran cannot be permitted to achieve the technological and manufacturing capability to build a bomb. Thus, a plan for war is being built on inherently unverifiable beliefs about what the leadership – more likely, some later leadership – of Iran might decide to do in the future with knowledge, skills, equipment, and infrastructure it has yet to acquire. Under the Cheney Doctrine, the U.S. needed to strike if there was a 1 percent risk that Iraq actually had WMDs. In contrast, the Obama-Netanyahu Doctrine permits military aggression if there is any chance that Iran someday may have the ability to create a nuclear weapon and might then decide to actually make one.
... Obama himself best illustrated this sort of reasoning at a news conference Feb. 9, discussing Iran’s alleged "rejection" of an offer by the U.S. and its Western allies to convert some low-enriched uranium in Iran’s possession into medical isotopes, requiring enrichment to a level just short of weapons-grade. He said: "That indicates to us that, despite their posturing that their nuclear power is only for civilian use, that they in fact continue to pursue a course that would lead to weaponization. And that is not acceptable to the international community, not just to the United States." But virtually any step by Iran to develop nuclear capabilities with is own science and resources could lead to "weaponization." Obama here simply imputes a malicious intent – building the "case for war" based on analysis no better than palm reading.
Now the Bush-Obama administration has inserted its own man at the top of IAEA -- and suddenly the Agency has reversed years of a cautious, evidence-based approach in favor of, yes, palm-reading about what Iran might eventually do someday under optimal conditions that do not exist today and will not exist for the foreseeable future, if ever.
As I wrote here in 2008, following yet another scaremongering "scandal" about Iran's enrichment activities:
There is literally nothing that Iran can do – or not do – to divert the American elite's desire to strike at their land and bring it under domination. And apparently there is nothing that anyone in America with any power or a major platform will do to stop it either.
As I have noted over and over, including here, just a few weeks ago: "No one has laid out the case against attacking Iran with more depth, power, eloquence and persistence than Arthur Silber. What's more, Silber has offered practical steps that even those obsessed with retaining their 'serious' and 'politically savvy" cred could employ.' (For just one example, see this piece, whose title says it all: "So Iran Gets Nukes. So What?"]
But, as noted above, no one has followed up on Silber's suggestions, or on anything remotely like them. And so the Kabuki dance of death in the imperial court goes on -- now aided, appropriately enough, by the Japanese placeman installed at the IAEA by the Bush-Obama Administration.
Written by Chris Floyd
Friday, 19 February 2010 16:35
This week, an angry white man of European heritage flew an airplane into a building in protest against American political policies.
I urge the Department of Homeland Security to immediately institute stringent new visa requirements for all white people of European heritage who come from countries where there is likely to be anger about American policies. We cannot afford to let people like that into this country -- and if they are already here, we must remove them.
Of course, most angry white people of European heritage will not go so far as to commit acts of terrorism. And it is indeed unfortunate that some innocent white people of European heritage might be caught up in the security net. But as long as there is even a one percent chance that someone like that might commit an act of terrorism, we must make the tough choices and act decisively, without worrying about "political correctness."
Or do you want to wake up tomorrow and see the smoking gun of a mushroom cloud in your child's cereal bowl?
For as a wise man once said: "Those who sacrifice liberty for security make the world safe for democracy." Or something like that.
Written by Chris Floyd
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 14:15
A fresh dispatch from the imperial satrapy of Bactria brings word that the Pentagon has ended the eyeblink-brief "suspension" of one of its super-duper missile systems following the "unfortunate" slaughter of 12 civilians, including five children, in the opening hours of the all-out media blitz -- sorry, the "largest military operation of the Afghan war" -- now being inflicted on the city of Marja.
As you'll recall, after this initial child sacrifice to waft the pleasing smell of innocent blood to great Ares, that he might smile upon the bold Achaeans in their martial endeavor, mighty Agamemnon himself -- now robed in the flesh of General Stanley "Black Ops" McChrystal -- stepped forth before the cameras, and with great show of crocodilian regret, declared that the "errant" missile system would be withdrawn from battle forthwith, until such time as it could be determined why it killed all those civilians and, worst of all, gummed up the glowing press which the Pentagon had painstakingly cultivated during the run-up to the attack.
But as the ever-astute Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com notes, the Pentagon concluded its in-depth investigation of the incident in a matter of hours. What's more, the brass found that not only was there no error whatsoever in the hi-tech death-hurling technology, but also that the whole incident was actually the result of the heroic efforts of a clean-limbed young Leatherneck to save the cowering civilians in his tender care.
Yes, that's right. The Pentagon's story now is that it killed 12 civilians in order to save civilians. As Reuters reports:
"We know now that the missile arrived at the target it was supposed to arrive at. It wasn't a rogue missile. There was no technical fault in it," [Major General Nick Carter, the British commander of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan] told reporters ... A young U.S. Marine Corps officer in charge in the area where the rockets were fired was protecting a number of civilians behind his positions, Carter said.
And so he called in the missile strike on the house, because, as another occupation spokesman put it: "It is not unusual for the insurgents to operate in compounds where there are civilians sheltering."
So you kill civilians in order to protect civilians. And every civilian is a potential enemy who might harm civilians -- so you kill them. (Three more civilians in Marja were shot down just yesterday.) Every house is a potential nest of no-goodniks -- and thus a legitimate target for destruction.
And if it turns out that you kill a whole houseful of civilians -- if it turns out you take five children and shatter their skulls, spill their viscera from gaping holes torn across their bellies, and crush their small, undefended bodies beneath rubble and stone -- why, that's OK. Because all that matters is that the weapon functioned in the way it was intended to function. The rules of engagement were followed to the letter. Everything happened as it was supposed to happen.
The five children died because they were supposed to die. The system worked.
This point seems difficult for some to grasp. Oh, how terrible, they say, when these "mistakes" are made! Oh, how these "unfortunate tragedies" detract from the altruistic intentions of our young, progressive president and his humanitarian war machine! Oh, isn't it such a shame when things go wrong!
But nothing is going wrong. When you read of children lying in a broken heap, their lifeblood draining away into dark, coagulated pools -- that means the system is functioning properly. That's what the system does. That is what it is there to do: to kill, destroy and dominate. That's why we have installed the system in Afghanistan.
And what is the ultimate goal of this system, the purpose of the killing, destroying and dominating?
As Frida Berrigan at TomDispatch points out, the United States now owns a virtual monopoly in the ever-burgeoning world market for weapons of death. And under its young, progressive president, Barack Obama, the government is relentlessly pushing to strip away the few remaining fig leaves of regulation hindering this immensely destructive but staggeringly profitable business:
As Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morell explained in January, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants to see "wholesale changes to the rules and regulations on government technology exports" in the name of "competitiveness."
When he says "government technology exports," Morell of course means weapons and other military technologies. "Tinkering with our antiquated, bureaucratic, overly cumbersome system is not enough to maintain our competitiveness in the global economy and also help our friends and allies buy the equipment they need to contribute to global security," he continued, "[Gates] strongly supports the administration’s efforts to completely reform our export control regime, starting ideally with a blank sheet of paper."
... In addition to revising these export controls, the administration is looking at the issue of "dual-use" technologies. These are not weapons. They do not shoot or explode. Included are high-speed computer processors, surveillance and detection networks, and a host of other complex and evolving technologies that could have military as well as civilian applications. This category might also include intangible items like cyber-entities or access to controlled web environments.
This is the world that the Obama Administration is pushing hard to create: a hellish global dystopia of bristling, bloated military-dominated regimes wielding ever-greater control over their populations with ever-more intrusive "security" technology. It is the world described in the nightmare vision voiced, as a warning, by Dwight Eisenhower more than half a century ago:
[A] life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms in not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children ... This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Now that nightmare has become the happy dream of our progressive government. Where Eisenhower, the top general in history's most destructive war, saw that the weapons business was a monstrous waste, an outright theft of the lives, blood, treasure and opportunity of all humankind, Obama and his handpicked Bush holdover Gates see it as a noble enterprise that actually "contributes to global security"! They are not concerned -- even rhetorically -- about the hungry being robbed of food and the cold being stripped of clothing. No, their focus is on "maintaining our competitiveness in the global economy" -- "competitiveness" in a business where, as Berrigan notes, the United States already controls almost 70 percent of the global market.
So that's why no super-duper hi-tech death technology is going to be pulled from the order of battle in Afghanistan for longer than a single news cycle, just long enough to offset the bad headlines that a slaughter of civilians will momentarily produce. These death technologies cost too much money -- and, more importantly, make too much money -- to be set aside for any reason.
Berrigan notes the naked profit motive underlying Obama's grand strategy of "Afghanistanization" -- i.e., building up the military and security forces of the American-implanted Afghan government. As in Iraq, the aim is not so much "nation building" as "market building": setting up yet another conduit to pass American taxpayer money directly to weapons dealers:
"What’s Hot?" is the title of Vice Adm. Jeffrey Wieranga’s blog entry for Jan. 4, 2010. Wieranga is the director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which is charged with overseeing weapons exports, and such pillow talk is evidently more than acceptable – at least when it’s about weapons sales. In fact, Wieranga could barely restrain himself that day, adding: "Afghanistan is really HOT!" Admittedly, on that day the temperature in Kabul was just above freezing, but not at the Pentagon, where arms sales to Afghanistan evidently create a lot of heat.
As Wieranga went on to write, the Obama administration’s new 2010/2011 budget allocates $6 billion in weaponry for Afghan Security Forces. The Afghans will actually get those weapons for free, but U.S. weapons makers will make real money delivering them at taxpayers’ expense and, as the vice admiral pointed out, that "means there is a staggering amount of acquisition work to do."
You ain't just whistlin' Dixie, Vice Admiral. There will be "acquisition work" out the wazoo as the war goes on -- for decades afterward. But of course, these "free" arms sales are just like the samplings that pushers pass around outside the high school gates. Because once the mark is hooked, once the native military and security forces are thoroughly entrenched, they will need constant replenishment with more weapons, new technologies, and more lucrative "training" from American sources, both public and private. This in turn will leave the client state saddled with crippling public debt -- necessitating the usual "shock therapy" of "economic reform," i.e., shredding "inefficient" social programs -- like, education, sanitation, health care, etc. -- and turning the material wealth and natural resources of the country over to a few select private investors, foreign and domestic.
This treatment is not just for client states anymore, by the way. As Michael Hudson points out at CounterPunch, the American people themselves are beginning to get this full treatment. With their economy, communities and social fabric being devoured by a bloated military establishment and voracious elites, the American people are now being told -- by these same voracious elites -- that they must address the "deficit crisis" by giving up their meager "entitlements" and accepting a vastly diminished and degraded way of life ... even as their young, progressive president continues to expand the bloated military establishment in all directions.
But again, this is what the system is intended to do. Like the missile launcher that stole the lives of five children in Marja, the whole militarist-corporatist system is functioning properly in nailing humanity on a cross of iron, diminishing and degrading life all around the world -- for money, for power and profit, for the power and profit of a tiny sliver of privileged elites, so they can strut and preen and gorge themselves in comfort, for a brief time, before they too, like all the rest of us, go down howling into darkness.
That is what it comes to. That is what the system is for. That is what the war is about. That is why the children died. That is why more will die tomorrow.
And that is why your own children's lives -- their opportunities, their hopes, their possibilities for a peaceful, secure, productive, fulfilling life -- are being systematically constricted and degraded before your eyes.
There is no dysfunction in all of this. As we noted here not long ago, quoting Alex Cox: The Purpose of a System is What It Does.
UPDATE: Michael Hudson has more on the glowing future (as in the red glow of smoking ruins) that the system has planned for us, in this new Counterpunch piece.