Empire Burlesque
Too Many Devils Pitchforking My Brain
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Thursday, 26 August 2010 22:49

"Midnight Vow": a video, of sorts. One for the late shift....

 

 

 
The Taste of Hope and Change: Progressive Sensitivity in U.S. Concentration Camp
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Thursday, 26 August 2010 00:15

altNever, ever let it be said that the Peacer Laureate's administration is not one of progressivistic enlightenment. I mean, just look at the sensitivity being displayed by the Obama administration toward its captives in its Guantanamo concentration camp. The Miami Herald reports:

Here's a new twist in the U.S. military's Islamic sensitivity effort in the prison camps for suspected terrorists at the Guantánamo Bay Navy base: Military medical staff are force-feeding a secret number of prisoners on hunger strike between dusk and dawn during the Muslim fasting holiday of Ramadan.

The prison camps spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Bradley Fagan: ... "Detainees who are fasting get their meals before dawn,'' he said Wednesday, disclosing only the hours of that day's feeding "in observance of the Ramadan schedule'' -- before 5:26 a.m. and after 7:28 p.m."


Now what about that, all you progressive critics of Obama? He only force-feeds those held for years in indefinite captivity after the sun goes down during Ramadan. What exquisite tact, what a remarkable sensitivity to human rights, eh? Why, they ought to give this guy a Nobel Peace Prize or something!

And it doesn't stop there. Obama is now force-feeding his Gitmo captives -- those that have been so maddened by years of captivity without charges that they have adopted this desperate and self-destructive method of protest, the only act of individual volition that's been left to them by their captors -- with some really tasty flavors of liquid pumped into their stomachs by force:

To demystify it a bit, Navy prison camp hospital workers some years back created a display of different flavored supplements and let visiting reporters handle a sample yellow rubber feeding tube. By last summer, staff were pointing to Butter Pecan flavored Ensure as popular with the chair-shackled captives. Flavor made no difference going down, one nurse explained, but a captive could taste it if he burped later.

Think of that! The Peacer is pumping tasty butter pecan delicacies into the guts of his prisoners in perpetuity in his still unclosed Guantanamo concentration camp! Sure, they can't really taste the concoction as it pours down the hard rubber tube jammed into their orifices -- but if they happen to burp later, they can savor that deep, rich flavor.


That, my friends, is progressivism you can taste!

 
Talking Shop: Burlesque on the Radio
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Tuesday, 24 August 2010 00:52

altTo borrow once more the immortal words of As'ad AbuKhalil, "for those who care and do not care," my recent interview with Scott Horton at Antiwar Radio is now up.

As you can see from these comments (by "eppie") attached to the Antiwar post of the interview, my intellectual acumen really wowed the folks out there. To wit:

It wasn't necessarily 'luck' that brought us a 'second Pearl Harbor', but I wouldn't expect a pseudointellectual like Floyd to recognize that.

And it's perfectly obvious at this point that Obama has pivoted decisively towards war with Iran, and it's clear that the reported hiring of Kagan is perfectly in sync with that, with the process we've already seen where the Obama Regime pushes blame for what's wrong in Afghanistan and Iraq towards Iran, simultaneously making excuses for its failures, while building its bogus case for the next war based on lies ... but yeah, I recognize that it's too much to expect a great 'intellectual' like Floyd to be able to think ahead that far, or to use enough critical judgement to figure any of that out. Nope, it's important for 'illustrious intellectuals' to stay well behind the curve, commenting vociferously ON WHAT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED.

And so it's not surprising to hear Floyd's facile reassurance that the US High Command could never get away with the nakedly massive and brutal tactics they used in Vietnam. Of course, it's perfectly obvious that once the war with Iran starts, all restraints will be cast aside throughout what we so euphemistically call the 'theater'. We'll see tactics of massive violence throughout the Bloody Arc from Somalia to Iran.

You say it's not dark yet, Floyd? My God, how dark do you want it to be before you say 'it's hellishly dark'? Ah yes, I get it. The 'intellectual' must always wait until it is far too late for portentious 'intellectual' pronouncements to do any good.


Yep, this irony-free individual has nailed me dead to rights. I'm ashamed that I've never once mentioned the bipartisan American elite's yearning -- and planning -- for a war with Iran (not even here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and dozens of other places where I utterly failed to deal with issue), nor h
ave I ever spoken a single word about the massive, even hellish violence that could result from such an act of aggression. Too much silly-billy shilly-shallying with my Wittgenstein monographs, I reckon.

In any case, if you care (or do not care) to hear a rather ragged and weary pseudo-intellectual rambling on for half an hour -- sometimes about THINGS THAT HAVE ALREADY HAPPENED -- here's your chance.

 alt 

 
The Peacer's Prayer: War Without End, Amen
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Tuesday, 24 August 2010 16:13

The Peace Laureate and his apologists – along with all the well-wadded neoconmen and their strange bedfellows, the liberal interventionists – may like to proclaim that the Iraq War is over (and we won!), but those actually fighting the war know that – as Cab Calloway liked to say of the stories you’re liable to read in the Bible – it ain’t necessarily so. From the Army Times: Combat brigades in Iraq under different name.

As the final convoy of the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., entered Kuwait early Thursday, a different Stryker brigade remained in Iraq.

Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division are deployed in Iraq as members of an Advise and Assist Brigade, the Army’s designation for brigades selected to conduct security force assistance.

So while the “last full U.S. combat brigade” have left Iraq, just under 50,000 soldiers from specially trained heavy, infantry and Stryker brigades will stay, as well as two combat aviation brigades ...

There are seven Advise and Assist Brigades in Iraq, as well as two additional National Guard infantry brigades “for security,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Craig Ratcliff. ...

The Army selected brigade combat teams as the unit upon which to build advisory brigades partly because they would be able to retain their inherent capability to conduct offensive and defensive operations, according to the Army’s security force assistance field manual, which came out in May 2009. This way, the brigade can shift the bulk of its operational focus from security force assistance to combat operations if necessary.


That is to say, they can do what combat troops throughout history have always been able to do: ride herd on a conquered people when they're down (or "provide security force assistance," in our demure modern parlance), and lash out with heavy power when the natives get restless.

Or to put it another way, what we have in Iraq now is 50,000+ combat troops doing what combat troops do. And forty tons of lipstick won't obscure the swinish nature of this continuing war crime.

In any case, the Peacer's war leader in the aggression-ravaged country says that we can always more amounts of combat troops back into Iraq to join the combat troops still there in the highly unlikely event that the "security forces" of the local client government should -- perish the thought -- prove to be inadequate to the task of making the country safe for Halliburton and Shell. As Jason Ditz reports (see original for links):

Though the Obama Administration’s claims that the war in Iraq is “over” is a myth to begin with, top US Commander in Iraq Gen. Ray Odierno today detailed the possibility of US forces “returning” to Iraq in larger numbers.

Odierno insists this would “only” happen if Iraq’s security forces suffer a complete failure in the ability to provide security in Iraq. And while Odierno insists “we don’t see that happening,” the reality on the ground makes this all the more plausible.


Oh and of course, we will also keep our combat troops in Iraq if the client government we installed asks us too -- surely yet another astronomically unlikely scenario, but hey, you never know, do you?

Odierno added that he was certain the US would consider staying in Iraq beyond 2011 if asked by the Iraqi government. But clearly as the situation worsens on the ground the question of spinning the drawdown as the “end” of the war will transition more into the question of “reinvading” Iraq ....


The hell we have made in Iraq -- "between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums ... the killing of innocent people ... part of daily life," as Adil Shamoo aptly puts it -- is far from over. And if our militarist elites have their way, it will never end.

To such people, one can only echo Tolstoy's damning words:

"And do not say that you do what you do for the people: that is untrue. All the horrible things you do, you do for yourself, for your own mercenary, vainglorious, vengeful, personal reasons, so that you can live a bit longer in that state of corruption in which you live, and which seems to you a blessing."


*Quotation taken from William Nickell's remarkable new book, The Death of Tolstoy: Russia on the Eve, Astapovo Station, 1910.

 
The Laureate and the Leaker: Swedish Warrant a Salvo in Team Obama's War on Wikileaks
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Saturday, 21 August 2010 21:58

Here it comes: with the bizarre "rape-no rape" charges against Julian Assange, the War Machine's assault against Wikileaks has now begun in earnest.

These days, the powers-that-be don't go straight to the shiv in the back or the poison in the drink or the faked suicide or the tragic car accident on a dark road; no, today we are a bit more circumspect in taking down high-profile irritants of empire. The modern way is to begin the takedown with a smear campaign -- preferably some sort of ""moral turpitude" to sully their public image and discredit their entire cause.

And so on late Friday we had the announcement that Swedish authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on charges of rape and molestation. This was followed a few hours later -- after Wikileaks mounted a ferocious defense against the charges, and promised to carry on with its work regardless -- by a sudden decision to withdraw the warrant, with officials now saying the rape charge was unfounded -- although they said nothing about the lesser charge of molestation, leaving that vague but turpitudishly resonant charge hanging in the air for the moment.

This rigmarole is about as blatant a smear as can be imagined, coming as it does just after the Obama Administration has been caught out in an outright lie about Wikileaks attempts to redact its next release of classified war documents to ensure that no Afghans named in the papers will be put at risk. Not only has the Peace Laureate's minions been lying about Wikileaks' earnest efforts in the regard, but this deceit has been actively abetted by the New York Times, whose own reporter passed along Wikileaks' offer to the Pentagon -- then publicly dismissed the claim that Wikileaks had made the good-faith offer. (Glenn Greenwald has the story on this egregious -- if depressingly standard -- malefaction by the imperial servitors in the media.)

Wikileaks made the offer to ward off the criticism it received after the last release; i.e., that it had "blood on its hands" because Afghan insurgents would strike at any Afghans named in the documents as cooperating with the occupation forces. This "blood libel" was trumpeted all over the media by Obama officials -- while their own hands were absolutely pouring with the blood of innocent Afghans murdered at their command. The fact is, of course, that not a single case of such retribution has been reported; and the charge itself is based on the ludicrous assumption that the Taliban does not already know who is cooperating with the occupation forces. (In any case, many if not most Afghans cooperating with Americans do it quite openly, as part of the Afghan government, for example, or in liaising with military commanders in their region, or working for the occupation's vast base-building projects, distribution networks and reconstruction programs, etc.)

But this initial blood libel -- belched forth by such longtime butchers as Obama's favorite Bush Family factotum, Bob Gates -- did not really take hold. The revelations continued to pour forth from the 92,000 documents unveiled by Wikileaks last month -- such as this remarkable story by Pratap Chatterjee at TomDispatch, detailing the operations of the American death squad, Task Force 373, whose existence was revealed in the Wikileaks trove. These professional assassins are a key element of the Peace Laureate's strategy in Afghanistan -- and an example of a large-scale trend in the War Machine's ever-evolving "philosophy" of Terror War.

Indeed, many of the proponents of Obama's "surge" in assassination liken it -- favorably! -- to the murderous Phoenix Program in Vietnam directed by the CIA, which killed at least 20,000 people, by the Agency's own admission. (Other, more independent examinations put the the true death count of those slaughtered in these non-combat, "extrajudicial killings" at in the range of 40,000 to 70,000. For more on the Phoenix Program, and on Obama's grand "continuity" with imperial atrocities past, see here.) As Chatterjee notes:

President Obama has, by all accounts, expanded military intelligence gathering and “capture/kill” programs globally in tandem with an escalation of drone-strike operations by the CIA.

There are quite a few outspoken supporters of the “capture/kill” doctrine. Columbia University Professor Austin Long is one academic who has jumped on the F3EA bandwagon. Noting its similarity to the Phoenix assassination program, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the U.S. war in Vietnam (which he defends), he has called for a shrinking of the U.S. military “footprint” in Afghanistan to 13,000 Special Forces troops who would focus exclusively on counter-terrorism, particularly assassination operations. “Phoenix suggests that intelligence coordination and the integration of intelligence with an action arm can have a powerful effect on even extremely large and capable armed groups,” he and his co-author William Rosenau wrote in a July 2009 Rand Institute monograph entitled” “The Phoenix Program and Contemporary Counterinsurgency.”

Others are even more aggressively inclined. Lieutenant George Crawford, who retired from the position of “lead strategist” for the Special Forces Command to go work for Archimedes Global, Inc., a Washington consulting firm, has suggested that F3EA be replaced by one term: “Manhunting.” In a monograph published by the Joint Special Operations University in September 2009, “Manhunting: Counter-Network Organization for Irregular Warfare,” Crawford spells out “how to best address the responsibility to develop manhunting as a capability for American national security.”


This then is where we are. We have the President of the United States -- who has already openly proclaimed his "right" to assassinate anyone on earth, including American citizens, without the slightest due process of law, simply at his arbitrary command -- now feverishly expanding the use of death squads, whose stealthy night raids on sleeping villages have already killed a vast number of innocent civilians in Afghanistan (as the Wikileaks documents show). This same administration is now running "black ops," secret armies, proxy wars and other covert activities in more than 75 countries around the world. That is to say, the Obama Administration is now murdering people in their beds, fomenting bloody ethnic conflict, supporting and/or carrying out acts of terrorism, spreading corruption, assisting dictators, arming warlords, spreading hate and suffering all over the world -- and doing it knowingly, proudly. ("Evil in broad daylight" indeed, as Arthur Silber details here.)

And these are the moral paragons who have now turned their machinery of lies and smears against Wikileaks. For make no mistake; although the rape charges were manufactured in Sweden -- which, incidentally, is where some of Wikileaks' servers are located -- they emanate from the proud deathlords in Washington. Indeed, didn't we hear just a few weeks ago that the Peace Laureate's people had launched a campaign of pressuring foreign governments to put fetters on Assange and his organization? Now Sweden's center-right government -- no, Rush, Sweden is no longer the super-socialist fairyland of your nightmares -- has obviously hearkened to the master's voice.

But although this first foray has been rebuffed, it is certain that what we are seeing is the beginning of a concerted effort to destroy Assange as a public figure and thereby discredit the work of Wikileaks -- and by extension, the truth of its revelations.

And smearing, of course, is just the first step. If that doesn't work ... well, the avowed and openly proclaimed proponents of assassination certainly have other, more "prejudicial" methods at their disposal, nicht war?

II.
John Pilger, writing before this latest assault, speaks strongly about the need to defend and support Wikileaks' mission. Of course, no one has spoken more eloquently, insightfully and to the point on this issue than Arthur Silber, whose multi-part series on the manifold implications of Wikileaks' efforts is absolutely essential reading. (See also here and here.)

I'd like to take this chance to say that I now believe that my initial response to Wikileaks' Afghan Papers release (see here) was almost entirely wrong. I fell into the all-too-common trap of discussing the issue in the terms that power itself had set: i.e, how the revelations could be spun by the War Machine for its advantage, instead of standing back and seeing the larger picture of just what such an act of defiance -- unstoppable due to its invisible dissemination via the internet -- really meant. Yet Silber wisely pointed out a salient fact of our time: that our warlords will use anything and everything -- and nothing at all -- to advance their agenda. The substance of any given story doesn't matter to them: they will spin it into a reason to continue the Terror War and the agenda of domination. But this basic truth somehow escaped me.

I seized upon the very first stories in the mainstream press about the leaks, noting -- with righteous fury -- that they told us nothing we had not already heard before. I was writing literally within a couple of hours of the first look at a gargantuan storehouse of 92,000 documents -- yet I was certain that I knew just what the trove contained, and what it meant. I downplayed their significance, tossing off the "savvy" observation that these were "no Pentagon Papers." But scant hours after this confident proclamation, there was the man behind the Pentagon Papers himself, Daniel Ellsberg, making precisely that comparison.

With a hasty, thoughtless rush to judgment -- and with a focus far too fixed on the "media narrative," and on the need to get my uniformed opinion out there -- I did what I now feel was a great disservice to an event that was in fact a significant blow against the empire; a significance confirmed by the empire's panicked reaction to it.

It is easy to sit on the sidelines and pontificate. Over the years, I've spoken out as forthrightly as I know how, but I'm no activist, I haven't risked much; all it has cost me is a few journalism gigs. But the people at Wikileaks are putting their liberties -- and their lives -- on the line, to take practical action to try to bring some of the horrors of the Terror War to an end. It's not a question of romanticizing any one organization, or any one man, seeing them as paragons whose every action or statement is sacrosanct; nobody needs that, and it never accomplishes anything. It just gets in the way of the task at hand.

But when people are putting everything on the line to stand up against the ravages of power -- against war, against aggression, against assassination and atrocity -- then  I want to stand with those people, and stand by those people. As the old gospel song says, "I want to be there in that number."

 
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