New York Times brands Russia an “outlaw state”

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30 September 2016

Amid mounting public threats that the US is preparing an escalation of its military intervention in Syria, the New York Times Thursday published a lead editorial branding Russia as an “outlaw state.”

This ratcheting up of rhetoric that has grown increasingly hysterical in regard to Russia is a response to the debacle suffered by US imperialism in its over five-year-long proxy war for regime change in Syria. Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, appear to be on the brink of retaking all of the eastern portion of Aleppo, the last major bastion of the US-backed “rebels,” composed principally of Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamist militias.

Secretary of State John Kerry issued an ultimatum to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov Wednesday: either Russia grounds both its own and the Syrian government’s warplanes, or Washington will break off all negotiations with Moscow on Syria.

The significance of this threat was further spelled out in a press briefing by State Department spokesman John Kirby, who told reporters that as a consequence of Russia failing to bow to US demands, “extremists and extremist groups will continue to…expand their operations, which will include, no question, attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities, and Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags, and they will continue to lose resources—even, perhaps, more aircraft.”

The provocative and utterly reckless character of Kirby’s remarks was no accident. That Washington intended to communicate a threat to unleash CIA-sponsored terrorism against Russia was underscored by a Washington Postcolumn by Philip Gordon, who until last year was the White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf. The piece, which warned in its headline that “Russia will pay the price,” used almost identical language, stating that continued Russian action in Syria “could very well result in terrorist attacks against Russia.”

Gordon went on to warn that the Obama administration could take actions to “increase costs on Russia,” adding, “Arming the opposition with shoulder-fired missiles capable of hitting Russian and Syrian planes over Aleppo is among the options.”

The ex-White House aide finally cautioned Moscow that if “Hillary Clinton becomes the next U.S. president, Putin could be facing a U.S. leader who has long supported a no-fly zone in Syria and robust support for the opposition, has expressed skepticism about Russia’s intentions in Syria, and will be looking to more clearly reassert American leadership in the Middle East.”

It is evident, however, that the question of whether an escalation of the US intervention in Syria can wait until after the US election of November 8 has become the subject of heated debate within the US ruling establishment.

The Reuters news agency cited unnamed senior officials as saying that the Obama administration is considering “tougher responses to the Russian-backed Syrian government assault, including military options,” including the provision of heavier weaponry to the Al Qaeda-linked “rebels” and air strikes on Syrian government positions. (This second option was already put into practice with the September 17 US bombing that killed and wounded close to 200 Syrian troops near Deir Ezzor, which Washington claimed was an accident.)

With its editorial denunciation of Russia as an “outlaw state,” the New York Times is effectively weighing in on the debate within America ruling circles over the US intervention in Syria. It wants a military escalation and it wants it now—against Russia.

The Times writes: “President Obama has long refused to approve direct military intervention in Syria. And Mr. Putin may be assuming that Mr. Obama is unlikely to confront Russia in his final months and with an American election season in full swing. But with the rebel stronghold in Aleppo under threat of falling to the government, administration officials said that such a response is again under consideration.”

To bolster its case, the Times throws in unsubstantiated charges made in an investigation driven entirely by “evidence” supplied by the Ukrainian secret police that Russia was responsible for the July 2014 shootdown of a Malaysia Airline jet over the war-torn Donbass region.

Putin, the newspaper declares, is guilty of “butchering civilians in Syria and Ukraine, annexing Crimea, computer-hacking American government agencies,” and “crushing dissent at home.”

Putin’s government represents Russia’s ruling oligarchy, which enriched itself through the theft of state property during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the restoration of capitalism. Its intervention in Syria, though of a defensive character, in response to US attempts to encircle and isolate Russia, represents the interests of this oligarchy and provides no progressive solution to the catastrophe unleashed by imperialism on Syria and the broader Middle East.

That being said, the crimes of Putin pale in the face of those carried out by successive US administrations, all of them with the complicity and propaganda support of the New York Times.

The US government is responsible for over a million deaths in Iraq and hundreds of thousands more from Afghanistan to Libya and Yemen. It instigated the regime-change operations in both Ukraine and Syria that gave rise to the “butchery” in those countries, much of it inflicted with weapons supplied by the CIA.

Moreover, even as the Times attacked the Russians’ “butchery” in Syria, the Pentagon announced that it is sending another 600 US troops to Iraq to prepare for a siege of Mosul, which, like the previous assaults on Fallujah and Ramadi, will entail massive crimes against the civilian population.

As for Russian computer hacking, the Times speaks on behalf of the US government, which, through the NSA, engages in the most massive spying operation the world has ever seen. And as for “crushing dissent at home,” the US, it should be recalled, is a country where the police murder over 1,000 people every year and the so-called “justice system” keeps some 2 million people behind bars. In brief, the Times editorial is a piece of war propaganda.

The term “outlaw state” was first put into official use by Ronald Reagan. It was later rendered as “rogue state” under Bill Clinton and, then, under George W. Bush, became the “axis of evil.” Invariably, these terms were used to describe oppressed, semi-colonial countries targeted by US imperialism for war and conquest: Nicaragua, Grenada, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, North Korea, Iran, etc.

Now, in the pages of the New York Times, the term is used to describe Russia, a country of 146 million people armed with nuclear weapons. The implications could not be more ominous.

While the motivations of the Times editors may include short-term political considerations—the possibility of an “October surprise” in Syria boosting the prospects of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton—the anti-Russia propaganda campaign that the newspaper is leading has far deeper roots in the crisis of American capitalism and the protracted drive by US imperialism to overcome its historic decline through the instrument of militarism.

If words have any meaning, the Times editorial is a warning: behind the backs of the people of the United States and the entire planet, the preparations for a third world war are advancing rapidly.

Bill Van Auken

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/09/30/pers-s30.html

Black Lives Matter Founder on Charlotte: We Need ‘Police-Free Communities’

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BY ANDREW WHITE

Editorial intern at Complex. Sharing life’s narratives from a passionate perspective for Complex Life.

SEP 23, 2016

Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

Three days after the new broke that Keith Scott was killed by a police officer in Charlotte, Alicia Garza, one of three founders of the Black Lives Matter organization, says she hasn’t watched videos of the incident that have made the rounds through media and fueled intense protests.

“I’ve chosen not to,” Garza told Complex in an exclusive interview. “I think we know what it looks like when somebody is murdered.”

Instead, Garza says she’s has been paying attention to the protests that began Tuesday evening. Those protests turned violent Wednesday with the fatal shooting of one protester by another civilian. Despite the previous night’s shooting, protesters were back out Thursday and continued to demand justice for Scott.

Garza says, with so much media focus on the violent elements of the protests in Charlotte, many have lost sight on the injustice that sparked them.

“The thing that people get so concerned about is how do we stop the violence in Charlotte, but yet we’re not thinking about the fact that there’s been violence in Charlotte since way before whatever is happening there has happened,” Garza says. “The brother who was killed is a form of state violence. He was killed and the police will not release the video. The police are not taking accountability for the violence that they enact in our communities and yet there isn’t as much outrage about that as there is about some broken windows and lost property.”

According to Garza, those who are concerned with violent protests in Charlotte should focus instead on the conditions that create them. Indeed, studies find that not only is the city of Charlotte intensely segregated by race and income but as of 2014, 70 of Charlotte’s 79 high-poverty tracts were majority non-white. In fact, the median income for white families in the city is 86 percent higher than for black and Latino ones.

“How do we stop violence, looting, and riots? The way that we stop that is by making sure that people have the things that they need to thrive,” Garza says. “When people are systematically denied their right to adequate housing, adequate schools, to adequate food, to dignity—this is a response and a reaction that we should absolutely expect.”

Garza also proposes an unconventional solution to brutality by law enforcement in Charlotte and around the country: “police-free communities.”

“Ultimately, policing in and of itself is problematic,” Garza says. “I know that in this country we give a lot of veneration to police. In the ethos of this country, police can do no wrong. And if and when police do wrong, it’s a case of individual bad apples, as opposed to a corroded and corrupt system… Quite frankly, many of our [Black Lives Matter] members are continuing to investigate what it would mean to have police-free communities. I think what we’ve continued to see over time is that no moral appeal is actually stopping the deaths of black people, whether they be armed or unarmed.”

Finally, Garza told Complex that in the midst of so much attention paid to cases of black men killed by police, it’s important that those interested in the movement for black lives not lose sight of the black women who’ve also lost their lives to violence, like Korryn Gaines in Baltimore and Kayla Moore in Berkley.

“This is a perfect moment for us to have each other’s backs,” Garza says, “to call out the names of people who have been killed like the brother who was killed in Charlotte and the brother who was killed in Tulsa, but to also remember that this isn’t just a problem impacting black men, but it’s a problem that is impacting black people. For us to advance on this front, we have to bring everyone along with us.”

Complex

The dismal U.S. military record: Killing people, breaking things and America’s winless wars

“We have not shown an ability to achieve our stated political aims in a conclusive way at an acceptable cost”

Killing people, breaking things and America's winless wars: Details of the dismal U.S. military record
Nellis Air Force Base military police block the road at the intersection of North Las Vegas Boulevard and North Hollywood Boulevard after an aircraft crash near the area on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Las Vegas. An official says a veteran pilot had just completed an exercise with a military weapons school at an Air Force base near Las Vegas when he ejected as the plane went down. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)(Credit: AP)

This piece originally appeared on TomDispatch.

Winning: it’s written into the DNA of the U.S.A. After all, what’s more American than football legend Vince Lombardi’s famous (if purloinedmaxim: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”?

Americans expect to be number one. First Lady Michelle Obama recently called the United States the “greatest country on Earth.” (Take that, world public opinion, and your choice of Germany!) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went even further, touting America as “the greatest country that has ever been created.” Her rival, Donald Trump, who for political gain badmouths the country that made him rich and famous, does so in the hope of returning America to supposedly halcyon days of unparalleled greatness. He’s predicted that his presidency might lead to an actual winning overload. “We’re going to win so much,” he told supporters. “You’re going to get tired of winning. You’re going to say, ‘Please, Mr. President … don’t win so much’ … And I’m going to say, ‘No, we have to make America great again … We’re gonna keep winning.’”

As Trump well knows, Americans take winning very seriously. Look no further than the U.S. gold medal count at the recent Rio Olympics: 46. The next highest total? Great Britain’s 27, almost 20 fewer than those of the country whose upstart rebels bested them in the eighteenth century, the nation’s ur-victory. The young United States then beat back the Brits in the early 1800s, and twice bailed them out in victorious world wars during the twentieth century.

In the intervening years, the United States built up a gaudy military record — slaughtering native tribes, punishing Mexico, pummeling Spain — but the best was yet to come. “Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world,”boasted President Barack Obama in this year’s State of the Union address. In this he echoed his predecessor, George W. Bush, who, in May 2001, declared that “America today has the finest [military] the world has ever seen.”

In the years between those two moments of high-flown rhetoric, the U.S. military fought in nine conflicts, according to a 2015 briefing produced by U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), the umbrella organization for America’s most elite forces including Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets. The record of the greatest fighting force in the history of the world, according to SOCOM: zero wins, two losses and seven ties.

This dismal record is catalogued in a briefing slide produced by SOCOM’s Intelligence Directorate last September and obtained by TomDispatch via the Freedom of Information Act. “A Century of War and Gray Zone Challenges” — a timeline of conflicts ranked as wins, losses and ties — examines the last 100 years of America’s wars and interventions.

“Gray zone” is an increasingly popular term of the trade for operations conducted somewhere on the continuum between war and peace. “Traditional war is the paradigm,” the briefing slide asserts. “Gray zone conflict is the norm.”

While he finds a great deal to fault in SOCOM’s analysis, retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, believes its assessment of post-9/11 conflicts “is quite accurate.” Although American politicians like Hillary Clinton regularly insist that the United States possesses “the greatest military” on the planet, they avoid addressing the question of what the country’s armed interventions have actually accomplished when it comes to policy goals — the true measure of success in war. “We have not shown an ability to achieve our stated political aims in a conclusive way at an acceptable cost,” Bacevich says. “That’s simply a fact.”

The greatest journeyman military in history?

Twelve wins and nine losses. In baseball, it’s the annual record of a journeyman pitcher like Bill Caudill of the Seattle Mariners in 1982, Dave LaPoint of the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1983, or Norm Charlton of the Cincinnati Reds in 1990, to mention just three examples. It’s certainly not the record of an ace.

Likewise, 12 victories and nine losses is a far-from-dazzling stat when it comes to warfare, especially for a nation that prides itself on its martial prowess. But that was the SOCOM Intelligence Directorate’s assessment of the last century of American war: 12 and nine with a mind-boggling 43 “ties.”

Among those 64 conflicts, the command counts just five full-fledged wars in which the United States has come up with three wins (World War I, World War II and Desert Storm), one loss (Vietnam) and one tie (Korea). In the gray zone — what SOCOM calls “the norm” when it comes to conflict — the record is far bleaker, the barest of winning percentages at nine victories, eight losses and 42 draws.

“If you accept the terms of analysis, that things can be reduced to win, loss and tie, then this record is not very good,” Bacevich says. “While there aren’t many losses — according to how they code — there’s a hell of a lot of ties, which would beg the question of why, based on these criteria, U.S. policy has seemingly been so ineffective.”

The assessments of, and in some instances the very inclusion of, numerous operations, missions and interventions by SOCOM are dubious. Bacevich, for example, questions its decision to include pre-World War II U.S. military missions in China (a draw according to the command). “I don’t know on what basis one would say ‘China, 1912 to 1941’ qualifies as a tie,” he adds, noting on the other hand that a good case could be made for classifying two of SOCOM’S gray zone “ties” — in Haiti and Nicaragua — during the same era as wins instead of draws based on the achievement of policy aims alone.

It’s even harder to imagine why, for example, limited assistance to Chad in its conflict with Libya and indigenous rebels in 1983 or military assistance in evacuating U.S. personnel from Albania in 1997 should make the list. Meanwhile, America’s so-calledlongest war, in Afghanistan, inexplicably ends in 2014 on SOCOM’S timeline. (That was, of course, the year that the Obama administration formally ended the “combat mission” in that country, but it would assuredly be news to the 8,400 troops, including special operators, still conducting missions there today.) Beyond that, for reasons unexplained, SOCOM doesn’t even classify Afghanistan as a “war.” Instead, it’s considered one of 59 gray-zone challenges, on a par with the 1948-1949 Berlin Airlift or small-scale deployments to the restive Congo in the 1960s. No less bizarre, the command categorizes America’s 2003-2011 occupation of Iraq in a similar fashion. “It deserves to be in the same category as Korea and Vietnam,” says Bacevich, the author of “America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.”

Killing people and breaking things

Can the post-9/11 U.S. military simultaneously be the finest fighting force in history and unable to win wars or quasi-wars? It may depend on our understanding of what exactly the Department of Defense and its military services are meant to do.

While the 1789 act that established its precursor, the Department of War, is sparse on details about its raison d’être, the very name suggests its purpose — presumably preparing for, fighting and winning wars. The 1947 legislation creating its successor, the “National Military Establishment” was similarly light on specifics concerning the ultimate aims of the organization, as were the amendments of 1949 that recast it as the Department of Defense (DoD).

During a Republican primary debate earlier this year, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee offered his own definition. He asserted that the “purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.” Some in the armed forces took umbrage at that, though the military has, in fact, done both to great effect in a great many places for a very long time. For its part, the DoD sees its purpose quite differently: “The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.”

If, in SOCOM’s accounting, the United States has engaged in relatively few actual wars, don’t credit “deterrence.” Instead, the command has done its best to simply redefine war out of existence, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, in favor of those “gray zone challenges.” If one accepts that quasi-wars are actually war, then the Defense Department has done little to deter conflict. The United States has, in fact, been involved in some kind of military action — by SOCOM’s definition — in every year since 1980.

Beyond its single sentence mission statement, a DoD directive delineating the “functions of the Department of Defense and its major components” provides slightly more details. The DoD, it states, “shall maintain and use armed forces to:

a. Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
b. Ensure, by timely and effective military action, the security of the United States, its possessions and areas vital to its interest.
c. Uphold and advance the national policies and interests of the United States.”

Since the Department of Defense came into existence, the United States has — as the SOCOM briefing slide notes  — carried out deployments, interventions and other undertakings in Lebanon (1958), Congo (1964 and 1967), the Dominican Republic (1965), Cambodia (1975), Iran (1980), El Salvador (1980-1992), Grenada (1983), Chad (1983), Libya (1986), the Persian Gulf (1987-1988), Honduras (1988), Panama (1989), Somalia (1992-1995), Haiti (1994-1995) and Albania (1997), among other countries.

You may have no memory of some (perhaps many) of these interventions, no less a sense of why they occurred or their results — and that might be the most salient take-away from SOCOM’s list. So many of these conflicts have, by now, disappeared into the gray zone of American memory.

Were these operations targeting enemies which actually posed a threat to the U.S. Constitution? Did ceaseless operations across the globe actually ensure the safety and security of the United States? Did they truly advance U.S. policy interests and if so, how?

From the above list, according to SOCOM, only El Salvador, Grenada, Libya and Panama were “wins,” but what, exactly, did America win? Did any of these quasi-wars fully meet the Defense Department’s own criteria? What about the Korean War (tie), the Bay of Pigs (loss), the Vietnam War (loss) or the not-so-secret “secret war” in Laos (loss)? And have any of SOCOM’s eight losses or ties in the post-9/11 era accomplished the Defense Department’s stated mission?

“I have killed people and broken things in war, but, as a military officer, that was never the end. There was a purpose, a reason, a goal,” wrote Major Matt Cavanaugh, a U.S. Army strategist, in response to Huckabee’s comment. He then drew attention to the fact that “Joint Publication 1: Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States” asserts that “military power is integrated with other instruments of national power to advance and defend U.S. values, interests and objectives.”

Did the wars in Vietnam or Laos defend those same values? What about the war waged in Iraq by the “finest fighting force” in world history?

In March 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld laid out U.S aims for that conflict. “Our goal is to defend the American people, and to eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and to liberate the Iraqi people,” he said, before offering even more specific objectives, such as having U.S. troops “search for, capture [and] drive out terrorists who have found safe harbor in Iraq.” Of course, the invasion and occupation of Iraq would turn that country into a terrorist magnet, leading to theultimate safe harbor; a terror caliphate extending over swaths of that country and neighboring Syria. The elimination of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction would prove impossible for obvious reasons. The “liberation” of its people would lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands; the forced displacement of millions; and a country divided along sectarian lines, where up to 50 percent of its 33 million inhabitants may suffer from the effects of trauma brought on by the last few decades of war. And what about the defense of the American people? They certainly don’t feel defended. According to recent polling, more Americans fear terrorism today than just after 9/11. And the particular threat Americans fear most? The terror group born and bredin America’s Iraqi prison camps: ISIS.

This record seems to matter little to the presidential candidate who, as a senator, voted for the invasion of Iraq. Regarding that war and other military missions, Hillary Clinton, as Bacevich notes, continues to avoid asking the most obvious question: “Is the use of the American military conclusively, and at reasonable costs, achieving our political objectives?”

Trump’s perspective seems to better fit SOCOM’s assessment when it comes to America’s warfighting prowess in these years. “We don’t win. We can’t beat ISIS. Can you imagine General Douglas MacArthur or General Patton? Can [you] imagine they are spinning in their grave right now when they see the way we fight,” he recentlytold FOX News’s Bill O’Reilly, invoking the names of those military luminaries who both served in a “draw” in Mexico in the 1910s and U.S. victories in World Wars I and II, and in the case of MacArthur a stalemate in Korea as well.

Neither the Clinton nor Trump campaigns responded to TomDispatch’s requests for comment. SOCOM similarly failed to respond before publication to questions about the conclusions to be drawn from its timeline, but its figures alone — especially regarding post-9/11 conflicts — speak volumes.

“In order to evaluate our recent military history and the gap between the rhetoric and the results,” says Bacevich, “the angle of analysis must be one that acknowledges our capacity to break things and kill people, indeed that acknowledges that U.S. forces have performed brilliantly at breaking things and killing people, whether it be breaking a building — by putting a precision missile through the window — or breaking countries by invading them and producing chaos as a consequence.”

SOCOM’s briefing slide seems to recognize this fact. The United States has carried out a century of conflict, killing people from Nicaragua and Haiti to Germany and Japan; battering countries from the Koreas and Vietnams to Iraq and Afghanistan; fighting on a constant basis since 1980. All that death and devastation, however, led to few victories. Worse yet for the armed forces, the win-loss record of this highly professionalized, technologically sophisticated and exceptionally well-funded military has, since assuming the mantle of the finest fighting force in the history of the world, plummeted precipitously, as SOCOM’s Intelligence Directorate points out.

An American century of carnage and combat has yielded many lessons learned, but not, it seems, the most important one when it comes to military conflict. “We can kill people, we can break things,” Bacevich observes, “but we don’t accomplish our political goals.”

Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch.com and a fellow at the Nation Institute.  An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Timesthe Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author/editor of several books, including the newly published “Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, War and Survival in South Sudan.”

Keep Calm and Vote Green: Fascism Is Not Coming

Posted on Sep 23, 2016

By Paul Street

  Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka—the Green Party’s presidential ticket—propose a Green New Deal, a “visionary agenda to tackle the interconnected problems of climate change and the economy.”(Dennis Van Tine / STAR MAX / AP)

Thinking about the upcoming United States presidential election contest between two of the most widely hated people in the nation, I am reminded of the old Aesop’s fable about “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” The tale concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly fools his village neighbors into thinking a wolf is attacking his flock.

The first few times he does this, the villagers come running to drive off the imaginary wolf. Finally, a real wolf actually appears, and the boy again calls for help. But the villagers believe it is another false alarm and stay put. The sheep are eaten by the wolf. In some later versions of the fable, the boy himself is devoured.

READ: Jill Stein’s Green New Deal Deserves to Heard by Widest Audience Possible

The moral of the story is stated at the end of the Greek version: This shows how liars are rewarded—even if they tell the truth, no one believes them. As Aristotle is supposed to have said, when those who tell lies “speak truth, they are not believed.”

Every four years, liberal-left politicos scream wolf about how the Republicans are going to wreak plutocratic, racist, ecocidal, sexist, repressive and war-mongering hell if they win “this, the most important election in American history.” The politicos conveniently ignore the plutocratic, racist, ecocidal, sexist, repressive and military-imperial havoc that Democrats inflict at home and abroad in dark, co-dependent alliance with the ever more radically reactionary Republicans. Democrats fail to acknowledge their preferred party’s responsibility for sustaining the Republicans’ continuing power, which feeds on the “dismal” Dems’ neoliberal abandonment of the nation’s working-class majority in service to transnational Wall Street and corporate America. They commonly exaggerate the danger posed by the right-most major party and (especially) the progressivism of the not-so-left-most one.

It’s not that the liberal and progressive politicos lie about the presence of wolves. The wolves are out there. But they include Democratic wolves in fake sheep’s clothing joined with Republicans in what Washington journalist Mark Leibovich calls “the ultimate Green Party.” The nation’s capital, Leibovich notes, has “become a determinedly bipartisan team when there is money to be made. … ‘No Democrats and Republicans in Washington anymore,’ goes the maxim, ‘only millionaires.’ ”

LISTEN: Robert Scheer Speaks With Jill Stein About the Green Party and 2016 Election

It’s nothing new, which is part of why I have third-party-protest-voted in all but one (2004) of the nine U.S. presidential elections for which I have been eligible. This includes two of the last three, the only ones in which I have voted in a “contested state” (Iowa)—a state where the major-party outcome is in play.

So why might a serious left progressive living in a contested state (someone like this writer) consider following the venerable left political scientist Adolph Reed Jr.’s advice this year to “vote for the lying neoliberal warmonger” Hillary Clinton? Part of it could be that lefty’s sense that it is better for “the U.S. Left” (insofar as it exists) and the development of the dedicated, day-to-day, grass-roots social movement we desperately need in place beneath and beyond the election cycle when a corporate Democrat occupies the White House. The presence of a Democrat in the nominal top U.S. job is usefully instructive. It helps demonstrate the richly bipartisan nature of the American plutocracy and empire. Young workers and students especially need to see and experience how the misery and oppression imposed by capitalism and its evil twin imperialism live on when Democrats hold the Oval Office.

At the same time, the presence of a Republican in the White House tends to fuel the sense among progressives and liberals that the main problem in the country is that the “wrong party” holds executive power and that all energy and activism must be directed at fixing that by putting the “right party” back in. Everything progressive gets sucked into a giant “Get Out the Vote” project for the next faux-progressive Democratic savior, brandishing the promises of “hope” and “change” (campaign keywords for the neoliberal imperialist Bill Clinton in 1992 and the neoliberal imperialist Barack Obama in 2008).

Hillary will be much less capable than the more charismatic Obama (under whom there has been more popular organizing and protest than some lefties like to acknowledge) of bamboozling progressives into thinking they’ve got a friend in the White House. Unlike Obama in 2008, she’s got a long corporatist and imperialist track record that connects her to the establishment and is hard to deny.

WATCH: What Makes Jill Stein Qualified to Be President

It is an urban myth that Republican presidents spark and energize progressive and left activism. True, they’ve done outrageous things that can put lots of folks in the streets for a bit. One thinks of Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and Bush Jr.’s invasion of Iraq. But the waves of protest recede, followed by repression, and everything tends to get channeled into the holy electoral quest to put Democrats back in executive-branch power. The second George W. Bush term was no activist heyday, thanks in significant measure to the great co-optive and demobilizing impact of Democratic Party electoral politics and the deceptive, not-so “antiwar” Obama phenomenon.

But the main reason it is easy to understand why many intelligent lefties stuck behind contested state lines might follow Reed’s advice is that Trump is no ordinary Republican wolf. By some dire portside reckonings (including Reed’s), “the Donald” is something like a real fascist threat worthy of mention in the same breath as Hitler and Mussolini. He’s a really bad version of the wolf who finally appears to devour the sheep in the ancient fable. Look at the following semi-viral jeremiad recently posted across “social media” by the longtime left journalist Arun Gupta—a spine-chilling reflection on what he fears a Trump presidency would mean:

I know it’s the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, but there is little to celebrate at such a grim moment. That being the likelihood Trump may very well win.
Black Lives Matter will be declared a domestic terrorist outfit. … Trump and Attorney General [Rudy] Giuliani would relish using the National Guard to crush blockades of oil pipelines and trains, and indigenous people defending their lands.

An English-only law would likely be passed, DACA be withdrawn, and sanctuary cities outlawed. White supremacists, Neo-Nazis, the Klan, and the Alt-Right would all be welcome into his administration, overtly or covertly.

There would be an all-out assault on reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood. Significant gains made at the National Labor Relations Board in the last few years will be overturned.

Huge swaths of the West under federal control will be turned over to logging, ranching, mining, and oil and gas industries.

Tens of millions would go from inadequate healthcare to no healthcare.

… Massive voter suppression becomes the norm. There will be organized vigilante violence, perhaps even mini-pogroms, against Muslim and Mexican communities with the state turning a blind eye.

…As soon as a recession hits, Trump would immediately go hunting for scapegoats to distract his followers. This could include a ban on Muslim immigration, a registration program, and mass round-ups of immigrants, meaning concentration camps to hold them before they were ousted, overseen by his ‘deportation force’ of Brownshirts.

There is a quaint notion on the left that somehow Trump is hot air. This ignores the dynamics he’s set in motion that will make new types of state-sponsored racial violence all but inevitable. … all the recent organizing gains will wither as the left is forced to wage losing defensive struggles against violent white nationalists. …

… there is a bizarre faith on the left that the ruling class will somehow keep him in check, despite the fact he will have control over every branch of government. …No one will be able to stop his dictatorial, white supremacist agenda. Congress won’t stop him. He will have a majority on the Supreme Court, and while sections of the ruling class may be deeply unhappy, they will still be safe and obscenely wealthy and can always escape.

In warning about Trump and instructing lefties not to vote third-party this time, Reed reminds us of the German Community Party’s fateful error: choosing not to ally with the German Social Democrats against the Nazi Party during the early 1930s. The moral of the story is clear: All sane left progressives need to report to duty to protect the flock under the banner of the admittedly horrid (good of Reed to admit that) Hillary.

CONTINUED:

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/keep_calm_and_vote_green_fascism_is_not_coming_20160923

Chris Hedges on the Role of the Media in Perpetuating ‘Endless War in the Middle East’

Posted on Sep 20, 2016
Screen shot via YouTube

Over the weekend, possible terrorist attacks in Manhattan, Minnesota and New Jersey startled the nation and renewed the political debate on national security and foreign policy. Truthdig contributorChris Hedges, who has years of experience reporting on the Middle East, joined Jaisal Noor of The Real News Network for an interview to discuss the political reactions to this recent spate of violent events.

At the beginning of the interview, Noor asks Hedges how the presidential nominees should respond to these types of attacks. “Their response should be the end of the occupation in the Middle East and the cessation of saturation bombing by drones and military aircrafts and missiles in parts of Iraq and Syria and Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia,” Hedges responds. He goes on to explain how decades of foreign policy decisions made by both parties have created the circumstances for terrorist attacks:

The Clintons, along with Barack Obama, along with George W. Bush, are the people who created this process of endless war in the Middle East. … The rhetoric of a Trump, the rhetoric of a Clinton is largely irrelevant to [Islamic State]. They don’t need it. People in cities like Raqqah are being attacked by sorties of U.S. jets almost on a daily basis. Militarized drones are terrorizing people in whole parts of the Middle East. Cruise missiles [are being] launched primarily from ships onto Libya and other parts of Iraq and Syria. The rhetoric is the least of it. The kind of widespread killing that’s been going on now for 15 years has radicalized whole segments and is kind of the most potent recruiting weapon that the jihadists have.

But, Hedges argues, the past several decades of U.S. foreign policy are not the only factor behind the increase in domestic terrorist attacks; he says that the media are also to blame. “I think that we’re woefully unaware, and it’s not our fault—it’s the fault of the press,” he says, before arguing that “people who would critique our military adventurism abroad” are “just not heard.”

Watch the entire interview below:

TRUTHDIG http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/chris_hedges_media_political_rhetoric_endless_war_middle_east_20160920

No One Is Asking Clinton or Trump About the No. 1 Threat to Security

Published on
by

The Washington Post

Matt Lauer and Hillary Clinton at NBC News’s Commander-in-Chief Forum on Sept. 7 in New York. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Last week we saw another installment of the media malpractice that has plagued the 2016 campaign. NBC’s Matt Lauer was widely criticized for his performance moderating the network’s Commander-in-Chief Forum, especially his failure to correct Donald Trump’s repetition of the lie that he opposed the invasion of Iraq. But another mistake has been getting far less attention. The nationally televised event yielded little serious debate about the many great security challenges facing the United States today, including perhaps the single most urgent threat on the planet: nuclear weapons.

Though Hillary Clinton was asked about the Iran nuclear deal, there was no discussion of nonproliferation or the perils of nuclear weapons in general. For that, to be fair, Lauer is only partially to blame. The unfortunate reality is that, at a time when experts have warned that the danger of a nuclear disaster is on the rise, neither of the major-party nominees has said much about it.

The nuclear threat was briefly in the headlines this summer when MSNBC’S Joe Scarborough rather melodramatically reported that Trump, in a private briefing, had repeatedly asked a national security expert why the United States could not use its nuclear weapons. The Trump campaign denied the report, but his comments on the record are similarly frightening. As Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione has said of Trump, “He talks about nuclear weapons very loosely, casually — as if they’re just another tool in the toolbox.”

For instance, Trump has stated on multiple occasions that “you want to be unpredictable” with nuclear weapons. If the Islamic State strikes in the United States, he has suggested we should “fight back with a nuke.” He declined to rule out deploying nuclear weapons in Europe, saying, “Europe is a big place. I’m not going to take cards off the table.” And he explicitly said he would not object to Japan acquiring a nuclear weapon because “it’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them.”

Clinton has seized on Trump’s reckless comments as evidence that he isn’t fit to command our nuclear arsenal. “A man you can bait with a tweet,” she has taken to saying, “is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

For a candidate so fond of touting her plans, though, Clinton has offered very few details about how she would approach the nuclear threat if elected. As of late last month, the “Issues” section of Clinton’s website featured 65 briefs totaling 112,735 words. (Trump’s, by contrast, tallied around 9,000 words.) But as Columbia University journalism and sociology professor Todd Gitlin recently documented, there were only three mentions of nuclear weapons among Clinton’s many position statements: two related to the Iran deal and one referencing the New START treaty negotiated with Russia during her tenure at the State Department.

Trump’s nuclear rhetoric is clearly alarming, but so is the nuclear status quo. There aremore than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, with the United States and Russia keeping nearly 2,000 on hair-trigger alert. Though the treaty with Russia included significant weapons reductions, the Obama administration has also committed to “modernizing” our nuclear arsenal at a cost of $1 trillion over three decades. The National Nuclear Security Administration announced last month that it had completed development and testing of the United States’ first “smart” nuclear bomb, slated for full-scale production in 2020.

And despite rumors that President Obama would pursue “major nuclear policy changes” as part of his legacy over the final months of his term, he has reportedly decided against declaring “no first use” of nuclear weapons, long an unwritten rule, as official U.S. policy. Certifying that the United States will only use nuclear weapons as a last resort would be especially significant given the possibility that Trump could end up with unchecked power to launch a nuclear strike.

Now, eight years after Obama campaigned on his vision of “a world without nuclear weapons,” the nuclear threat is escalating. “The danger of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger,”warns William J. Perry, defense secretary under Bill Clinton. Likewise, Eric Schlosser — whose 2013 book, “Command and Control,” has been turned into an important newdocumentary — says that “pure luck” is the main reason there has not been a nuclear disaster already.

In an election dominated by spectacle and confrontation, many policy issues have fallen by the wayside. But as the nuclear peril intensifies, we desperately need to have a real debate about issues such as the first use of nuclear weapons, taking our nuclear arsenal off hair-trigger alert, and at last ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that President Clinton signed 20 years ago this month. Reports that North Korea conducted a nuclear test in recent days underscore the need for a new approach to this challenge.

And while there is no doubt that Trump is unfit, Clinton should put forward a serious nuclear weapons policy that doesn’t fit in a tweet. To start, she can reaffirm her support for Obama’s vision during her time as secretary of state, when she argued, “We can’t afford to continue relying on recycled Cold War thinking.” Clinton should make it clear that nonproliferation and elimination of nuclear weapons are not a utopian dream, but a security imperative, and that she meant it when she said, “We are sincere in our pursuit of a secure peaceful world without nuclear weapons.”

What Did 9/11 Inaugurate?

9-11 Calamity

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Viktor Vasnetsov)

On this 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, we should ask ourselves what those attacks inaugurated.  In a word, calamity.  The wildly successful actions of Al Qaeda, combined with the wild overreactions of the Bush/Cheney administration, marked the 21st century as one that will likely become known to future historians as calamitous.

The wild overreactions of the Bush/Cheney administration, essentially continued by Obama and the present national security state, have played into the hands of those seeking a crusade/jihad in the Greater Middle East.

In thinking about the 9/11 attacks, as an Air Force officer, what struck me then, and still does now, is the psychological blow.  We Americans like to think we invented flight (not just that the Wright Brothers succeeded in the first powered flight that was both sustained and controlled).  We like to think that airpower is uniquely American.  We take great pride that many airliners are still “Made in the USA,” unlike most other manufactured goods nowadays.

To see our airliners turned into precision missiles against our skyscrapers, another potent image of American power, by a terrorist foe (that was once an ally against Soviet forces in Afghanistan) staggered our collective psyche.  That’s what I mean when I say Al Qaeda’s attacks were “successful.”  They created an enormous shock from which our nation has yet to recover.

This shock produced, as Tom Engelhardt notes in his latest article at TomDispatch.com, a form of government psychosis for vengeance via airpower.  The problem, of course, is that the terrorist enemy (first Al Qaeda, then the Taliban, now ISIS) simply doesn’t offer big targets like skyscrapers or the Pentagon.  The best the U.S. can do via airpower is to strike at training camps or small teams or even individuals, all of which matter little in the big scheme of things.  Meanwhile, U.S. air strikes (and subsequent land invasions by ground troops) arguably strengthen the enemy strategically.  Why?  Because they lend credence to the enemy’s propaganda that the USA is launching jihad against the Muslim world.

The wild overreactions of the Bush/Cheney administration, essentially continued by Obama and the present national security state, have played into the hands of those seeking a crusade/jihad in the Greater Middle East.  What we have now, so the experts say, is a generational or long war, with no foreseeable end point.  Its product, however, is obvious: chaos, whether in Iraq or Libya or Yemen or Syria.  And this chaos is likely to be aggravated by critical resource shortages (oil, water, food) as global warming accelerates in the next few decades.

We are in the early throes of the calamitous 21st century, and it all began fifteen years ago on 9/11/2001.

William J. Astore

What Did 9/11 Inaugurate?