Tulsi Gabbard vs. ‘Regime Change’ Wars

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a rare member of Congress willing to take heat for challenging U.S. “regime change” projects, in part, because as an Iraq War vet she saw the damage these schemes do, as retired Col. Ann Wright explains.

By Ann Wright

Source: Consortium News

I support Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, going to Syria and meeting with President Bashar al-Assad because the congresswoman is a brave person willing to take criticism for challenging U.S. policies that she believes are wrong.

It is important that we have representatives in our government who will go to countries where the United States is either killing citizens directly by U.S. intervention or indirectly by support of militia groups or by sanctions.

We need representatives to sift through what the U.S. government says and what the media reports to find out for themselves the truth, the shades of truth and the untruths.

We need representatives willing to take the heat from both their fellow members of Congress and from the media pundits who will not go to those areas and talk with those directly affected by U.S. actions. We need representatives who will be our eyes and ears to go to places where most citizens cannot go.

Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran who has seen first-hand the chaos that can come from misguided “regime change” projects, is not the first international observer to come back with an assessment about the tragic effects of U.S. support for lethal “regime change” in Syria.

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire began traveling to Syria three years ago and now having made three trips to Syria. She has come back hearing many of the same comments from Syrians that Rep. Gabbard heard — that U.S. support for “regime change” against the secular government of Syria is contributing to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and – if the “regime change” succeeded – might result in the takeover by armed religious-driven fanatics who would slaughter many more Syrians and cause a mass migration of millions fleeing the carnage.

Since 2011, the Obama administration supported various rebel groups fighting for “regime change” in Syria while U.S. allies – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – backed jihadist groups including Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, some of the same extremists whom the U.S. military is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. If Assad were overthrown, these extremists might take power and create even worse conditions for Syrians.

This possibility of jihadists imposing perverted extremist religious views on the secular state of Syria remains high due to international meddling in the internal affairs of Syria. This “regime change” project also drew in Russia to provide air support for the Syrian military.

Critical of Obama’s ‘Regime Change’

During the Obama administration, Rep. Gabbard spoke critically of the U.S. propensity to attempt “regime change” in countries and thus provoking chaos and loss of civilian life.

On Dec. 8, 2016, she introduced a bill entitled the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” which would prohibit the U.S. government from using U.S. funds to provide funding, weapons, training, and intelligence support to extremists groups, such as the ones fighting in Syria – or to countries that are providing direct or indirect support to those groups.

In the first days of the Trump administration, Rep. Gabbard traveled to Syria to see the effects of the attempted “regime change” and to offer a solution to reduce the deaths of civilians and the end of the war in Syria. A national organization Veterans For Peace, to which I belong, has endorsed her trip as a step toward resolution to the Syrian conflict.

Not surprisingly, back in Washington, Rep. Gabbard came under attack for the trip and for her meeting with President Assad, similar to criticism that I have faced because of visits that I have made to countries where the U.S. government did not want me to go — to Cuba, Iran, Gaza, Yemen, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia and back to Afghanistan, where I was assigned as a U.S. diplomat.

I served my country for 29 years in the U.S. Army/ Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. I also served 16 years in the U.S. diplomatic corps in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. I resigned from the U.S. government nearly 14 years ago in March 2003 in opposition to President George W. Bush’s “regime change” war on Iraq.

In my travels since my resignation, I didn’t agree with many of the policies of the governments in power in those countries. But I wanted to see the effects of U.S. government policies and, in particular, the effects of attempts at “regime change.”

I wanted to talk with citizens and government officials about the effects of U.S. sanctions and whether the sanctions “worked” to lessen their support for the government that the U.S. was attempting to change or overthrow.

For making those trips, I have been criticized strongly. I have been called an apologist for the governments in power. Critics have said that my trips have given legitimacy to the abuses by those governments. And I have been called a traitor to the United States to dare question or challenge its policy of “regime change.”

But I am not an apologist, nor am I a traitor … nor is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for her recent trip to Syria.

 

Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. She also was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war in Iraq. She has lived in Honolulu since 2003. [A version of this story originally appeared at

Posted in Activism, anti-war, culture, Empire, Geopolitics, History, news, society, war, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Embedded beings: how we blended our minds with our devices

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By Saskia K Nagel  & Peter B Reiner

(aeon)

Like life itself, technologies evolve. So it is that the telephone became the smartphone, that near-at-hand portal to the information superhighway. We have held these powerful devices in the palms of our hands for the better part of a decade now, but there is a palpable sense that in recent years something has shifted, that our relationship with technology is becoming more intimate. Some people worry that one day soon we might physically attach computer chips to our minds, but we don’t actually need to plug ourselves in: proximity is a red herring. The real issue is the seamless way in which we are already hybridising our cognitive space with our devices. In ways both quotidian and profound, they are becoming extensions of our minds.

To get a sense of this, imagine being out with a group of friends when the subject of a movie comes up. One person wonders aloud who the director was. Unless everyone is a movie buff, guesses ensue. In no time at all, someone responds with: ‘I’ll just Google that.’ What is remarkable about this chain of events is just how unremarkable it has become. Our devices are so deeply enmeshed in our lives that we anticipate them being there at all times with access to the full range of the internet’s offerings.

This process of blending our minds with our devices has forced us to take stock of who we are and who we want to be. Consider the issue of autonomy, perhaps the most cherished of the rights we have inherited from the Enlightenment. The word means self-rule, and refers to our ability to make decisions for ourselves, by ourselves. It is a hard-earned form of personal freedom and, at least in Western societies over the past 300 years, the overall trajectory has been towards more power to the individual and less to institutions.

The first inkling that modern technology might threaten autonomy came in 1957 when an American marketing executive called James Vicary claimed to have increased sales of food and drinks at a movie theatre by flashing the subliminal messages ‘Drink Coca-Cola’ and ‘Hungry? Eat Popcorn’. The story turned out to be a hoax, but after attending a demonstration of sorts, The New Yorker reported that minds had been ‘softly broken and entered’. These days, we regularly hear news stories about neuromarketing, an insidious strategy by which marketers tap findings in neuropsychology to read our thoughts as they search for the ‘buy button’ in our brains. To date, none of these plots to manipulate us have been successful.

But the threat to autonomy remains. Persuasive technologies, designed to change people’s attitudes and behaviours, are being deployed in every corner of society. Their practitioners are not so much software engineers as they are social engineers. The most benign of these ‘nudge’ us in an attempt to improve decisions about health, wealth and wellbeing. In the world of online commerce, they strive to capture our attention, perhaps doing nothing more nefarious than getting us to linger on a webpage for a few extra moments in the hope that we might buy something. But it is hard not to be cynical when Facebook carries out an experiment on more than 680,000 of its loyal users in which it covertly manipulates their emotions. Or when the choices of undecided voters can be shifted by as much as 20 per cent just by altering the rankings of Google searches. There is, of course, nothing new about persuasion. But the ability to do so in covert fashion exists for one simple reason: we have handed the social engineers access to our minds.

Which leads us to the threat to privacy of thought. Together with his Boston law partner Samuel Warren, the future US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis published the essay ‘The Right to Privacy’ (1890). They suggested that when law was still being developed as codified agreements among early societies, redress was given only for physical interference with life and property. Over time, society came to recognise the value of the inner life of individuals, and protection of physical property expanded to include the products of the mind – trademarks and copyright, for example. But the intrusive technology of the day – apparently, the first paparazzi had appeared on the scene, and there was widespread worry about photographs appearing in newspapers – raised new concerns.

Today’s worries are very similar, except that the photos might be snatched from the privacy of any one of your interconnected devices. Indeed, having institutions gain access to the information on our devices, whether flagrantly or surreptitiously, worries people: 93 per cent of adults say that being in control of who can get information about them is important. But in the post-Snowden era, discussions of privacy in the context of technology might be encompassing too broad a palette of potential violations – what we need is a more pointed conversation that distinguishes between everyday privacy and privacy of thought.

These issues matter, and not just because they represent ethical quandaries. Rather, they highlight the profound implications that conceiving of our minds as an amalgam between brain and device have for our image of ourselves as humans. Andy Clark, the philosopher who more than anyone has advanced the concept of the extended mind, argues that humans are natural-born cyborgs. If that is the case, if we commonly incorporate external tools into our daily routines of thinking and being, then we might have overemphasised the exceptionalism of the human brain for the concept of mind. Perhaps the new, technologically extended mind is not so much something to fear as something to notice.

The fruits of the Enlightenment allowed us to consider ourselves as rugged individuals, navigating the world by our wits alone. This persistent cultural meme has weakened, particularly over the past decade as research in social neuroscience has emphasised our essentially social selves. Our relationship to our devices provides a new wrinkle: we have entered what the US engineer and inventor Danny Hillis has termed ‘the Age of Entanglement’. We are now technologically embedded beings, surrounded and influenced by the tools of modernity, seemingly without pause.

In 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone with the catchphrase ‘this changes everything’. What we didn’t know was that the everything was us.

Posted in conditioning, consciousness, culture, Dystopia, Psychology, Science, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Matinee: Dust (2016)

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Dust is set in a dystopian world where most of humanity lives in walled cities to protect themselves from a chaotic environment where evolution occurs at breakneck speed, creating organisms which can be a deadly plague or miraculous medicine. It’s the job of a tracker to document the changes and, with the help of a black-market merchant, find a cure to save the society which he rejected.

Posted in Art, culture, Dystopia, Film, Video | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Propaganda Techniques of Empire

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By James Petras

Source: Axis of Logic

Introduction
Washington’s quest for perpetual world power is underwritten by systematic and perpetual propaganda wars. Every major and minor war has been preceded, accompanied and followed by unremitting government propaganda designed to secure public approval, exploit victims, slander critics, dehumanize targeted adversaries and justify its allies’ collaboration.

In this paper we will discuss the most common recent techniques used to support ongoing imperial wars.

Propaganda Techniques of Empire

Role Reversal
A common technique, practiced by the imperial publicists, is to accuse the victims of the same crimes, which had been committed against them.  The well documented, deliberate and sustained US-EU aerial bombardment of Syrian government soldiers, engaged in operations against ISIS-terrorist, resulted in the deaths and maiming of almost 200 Syrian troops and allowed ISIS-mercenaries to overrun their camp.   In an attempt to deflect the Pentagon’s role in providing air cover for the very terrorists it claims to oppose, the propaganda organs cranked out lurid, but unsubstantiated, stories of an aerial attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy, first blamed on the Syrian government and then on the Russians.  The evidence that the attack was most likely a ground-based rocket attack by ISIS terrorists did not deter the propaganda mills.  This technique would turn US and European attention away from the documented criminal attack by the imperial bombers and present the victimized Syrian troops and pilots as international human rights criminals.

Hysterical Rants
Faced with world opprobrium for its wanton violation of an international ceasefire agreement in Syria, the imperial public spokespeople frequently resort to irrational outbursts at international meetings in order to intimidate wavering allies into silence and shut down any chance for reasonable debate resolving concrete issues among adversaries.

The current ‘US Ranter-in-Chief’ in the United Nations, is Ambassador Samantha Power, who launched a vitriolic diatribe against the Russians in order to sabotage a proposed General Assembly debate on the US deliberate violation (its criminal attack on Syrian troops) of the recent Syrian ceasefire.  Instead of a reasonable debate among serious diplomats, the rant served to derail the proceedings.

Identity Politics to Neutralize Anti-Imperialist Movements
Empire is commonly identified with the race, gender, religion and ethnicity of its practioners.  Imperial propagandists have frequently resorted to disarming and weakening anti-imperialist movements by co-opting and corrupting black, ethnic minority and women leaders and spokespeople.  The use of such ‘symbolic’ tokens is based on the assumption that these are ‘representatives’ reflecting the true interests of so-called ‘marginalized minorities’ and can therefore presume to ‘speak for  the oppressed peoples of the world’.  The promotion of such compliant and respectable ‘minority members’ to the elite is then propagandized as a ‘revolutionary’, world liberating historical event – witness the ‘election’ of US President Barack Obama.

The rise of Obama to the presidency in 2008 illustrates how the imperial propagandists have used identity politics to undermine class and anti-imperialist struggles.

Under Obama’s historical black presidency, the US pursued seven wars against ‘people of color’ in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.  Over a million men and women of sub-Saharan black origin, whether Libyan citizens or contract workers for neighboring countries, were killed, dispossessed and driven into exile by US allies after the US-EU destroyed the Libyan state – in the name of humanitarian intervention.  Hundreds of thousands of Arabs have been bombed in Yemen, Syria and Iraq under President Obama, the so-called ‘historic black’ president.  Obama’s ‘predator drones’ have killed hundreds of Afghan and Pakistani villagers.  Such is the power of ‘identity politics’ that ignominious Obama was awarded the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’.

Meanwhile, in the United States under Obama, racial inequalities between black and white workers (wages, unemployment, access to housing, health and educational services) have widened.  Police violence against blacks intensified with total impunity for ‘killer cops’.  Over two million immigrant Latino workers have been expelled – breaking up hundreds of thousands of families– and accompanied by a marked increase of repression compared to earlier administrations.  Millions of black and white workers’ home mortgages were foreclosed while all of the corrupt banks were bailed out – at a greater rate than had occurred under white presidents.

This blatant, cynical manipulation of identity politics facilitated the continuation and deepening of imperial wars, class exploitation and racial exclusion.  Symbolic representation undermined class struggles for genuine changes.

Past Suffering to Justify Contemporary Exploitation
Imperial propagandists repeatedly evoke the victims and abuses of the past in order to justify their own aggressive imperial interventions and support for the ‘land grabs’ and ethnic cleansing committed by their colonial allies – like Israel, among others. The victims and crimes of the past are presented as a perpetual presence to justify ongoing brutalities against contemporary subject people.

The case of US-Israeli colonization of Palestine clearly illustrates how rabid criminality, pillage, ethnic cleansing and self-enrichment can be justified and glorified through the language of past victimization.  Propagandists in the US and Israel have created ‘the cult of the Holocaust’, worshiping a near century-old Nazi crime against Jews (as well as captive Slavs, Gypsies and other minorities) in Europe, to justify the bloody conquest and theft of Arab lands and sovereignty and engage in systematic military assaults against Lebanon and Syria.  Millions of Muslim and Christian Palestinians have been driven into perpetual exile.  Elite, wealthy, well-organized and influential zionist Jews, with primary fealty to Israel, have successfully sabotaged every contemporary struggle for peace in the Middle East and have created real barriers for social democracy in the US through their promotion of militarism and empire building.  Those claiming to represent victims of the past have become among the most oppressive of contemporary elites.  Using the language of ‘defense’, they promote aggressive forms of expansion and pillage.  They claim their monopoly on historic ‘suffering’ has given them a ‘special dispensation’ from the rules of civilized conduct:  their cult of the Holocaust allows them to inflict immense pain on others while silencing any criticism with the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ and relentlessly punishing critics.  Their key role in imperial propaganda warfare is based on their claims of an exclusive franchise on suffering and immunity from the norms of justice.

Entertainment Spectacles on Military Platforms
Entertainment spectacles glorify militarism.  Imperial propagandists link the public to unpopular wars promoted by otherwise discredited leaders.  Sports events present soldiers dressed up as war heroes with deafening, emotional displays of ‘flag worship’ to celebrate the ongoing overseas wars of aggression.  These mind-numbing extravaganzas with crude elements of religiosity demand choreographed expressions of national allegiance from the spectators as a cover for continued war crimes abroad and the destruction of citizens’ economic rights at home.

Much admired, multi-millionaire musicians and entertainers of all races and orientations, present war to the masses with a humanitarian facade. The entertainers smiling faces serve genocide just as powerfully as the President’s benign and friendly  face accompanies his embrace of militarism.  The propagandist message for the spectator is that ‘your favorite team or singer is there just for you… because our noble wars and valiant warriors have made you free and now they want you to be entertained.’

The old style of blatant bellicose appeals to the public is obsolete:  the new propaganda conflates entertainment with militarism, allowing the ruling elite to secure tacit support for its wars without disturbing the spectators’ experience.

Conclusion
Do the Imperial Techniques of Propaganda Work?

How effective are the modern imperial propaganda techniques?  The results seem to be mixed.  In recent months, elite black athletes have begun protesting white racism by challenging the requirement for choreographed displays of flag worship. . . opening public controversy into the larger issues of police brutality and sustained marginalization.  Identity politics, which led to the election of Obama, may be giving way to issues of class struggle, racial justice, anti-militarism and the impact of continued imperial wars.  Hysterical rants may still secure international attention, but repeated performances begin to lose their impact and subject the ‘ranter’ to ridicule.

The cult of victimology has become less a rationale for the multi-billion dollar US-tribute to Israel, than the overwhelming political and economic influence and thuggery of billionaire Zionist fundraisers who demand US politicians’ support for the state of Israel.

Brandishing identify politics may have worked the first few times, but inevitably black, Latino, immigrant and all exploited workers, all underpaid and overworked women and mothers reject the empty symbolic gestures and demand substantive socio-economic changes – and here they find common links with the majority of exploited white workers.

In other words, the existing propaganda techniques are losing their edge – the corporate media news is seen as a sham.  Who follows the actor-soldiers and flag-worshipers once the game has begun?

The propagandists of empire are desperate for a new line to grab public attention and obedience.   Could the recent domestic terror bombings in New York and New Jersey provoke mass hysteria and more militarization? Could they serve as cover for more wars abroad . . .?

A recent survey, published in Military Times, reported that the vast majority of active US soldiers oppose more imperial wars. They are calling for defense at home and social justice.  Soldiers and veterans have even formed groups to support the protesting black athletes who have refused to participate in flag worship while unarmed black men are being killed by police in the streets.   Despite the multi-billion dollar electoral propaganda, over sixty percent of the electorate reject both major party candidates.  The reality principle has finally started to undermine State propaganda!

 

Posted in anti-war, Authoritarianism, conditioning, Conspiracy, Corruption, culture, Dystopia, Empire, False Flag, Geopolitics, History, Militarization, Neocons, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, war, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nationalist Propaganda has Many Progressives Demonizing ‘The Russians’

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By Robert Barsocchini

Source: Washington’s Blog

Neocon and neoliberal war propaganda, as exhibited in the Washington Post, New York Times, etc., “has turned much of the liberal/progressive community” in the US “into a pro-New Cold War constituency willing to engage in a new breed of McCarthyism”, Robert Parry notes today.  (This author has personally witnessed similar displays.)

Leading Russia expert Stephen Cohen, a professor at Princeton, observes there has been a possibly ‘unprecedented’ ‘propaganda’ ‘tsunami’ occurring in the US targeting Russia and Putin and increasing the already high risk of nuclear war. (The Nation)  This predates the election and the “unproven allegations that Putin had intervened … to put Trump in the White House”, and largely stems from Russia’s intervention at the behest of the Syrian government to prevent the Western-sponsored overthrow of the Syrian state by what US officials privately say is an insurgency dominated by Islamic terrorists being funded by US-backed Saudi dictator Salman bin Abdulaziz’s cadre and similar parties.

Jeff McMahan, a philosopher at Rutgers, notes of the kind of propaganda observed by Cohen that “the powerful sense of collective identity within a nation is often achieved by contrasting an idealized conception of the national character with caricatures of other nations, whose members are regarded as less important or worthy or, in many cases, are dehumanized and despised as inferior or even odious.”  As Parry noted last week, another example of this is the Washington establishment doctrine, partially a holdover from eugenics scholarship and largely a PR tactic serving overtly stated goals of hegemonic expansion, that Russia as a nation is so inferior that any “equivalence” between it and the US is impossible.

However, the world outside the US doctrinal system sees the matter somewhat differently.  In a Western-run global poll taken during the height of the ongoing Ukraine crisis, the international community considered both Russia and the US, along with other countries, for the title of “greatest threat to world peace”.  The US was voted greatest threat by far, receiving twelve times more votes than Russia and three times more votes than the runner-up, Pakistan.

As author David Swanson recently noted in Foreign Policy Journal, in the 95% of the world that is not the US, it is scarcely a secret “that the United States is (as that Putin stooge Martin Luther King Jr. put it) the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. The United States is the top weapons dealer, the top weapons buyer, the biggest military spender, the most widespread imperial presence, the most frequent war maker, the most prolific overthrower of governments, and from 1945 to 2017 the killer of the most people through war.”

McMahan continues: “When nationalist solidarity is maintained” through the type of nationalism described above (which includes keeping much of what Swanson describes secret from or distorting it for the domestic population) “the result is often brutality and atrocity on an enormous scale.”  The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which includes respected thinkers and sponsors such as Stephen Hawking, notes the world is at an extremely dangerous moment in terms of the potential for nuclear war, and has set its “doomsday clock” to three minutes to midnight.

Somewhat similar to gang membership, nationalism, McMahan concludes, provides people with “a sense of security and belonging and, by merging their individual identities into the larger national identity, enables them to expand the boundaries of the self, thereby enhancing their self-esteem.

“[W]hile nationalist sentiment may have beneficial effects within the nation, these are greatly outweighed from an impartial point of view by the dreadful effects that it has on relations between nations.”*

 

Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter whose interest in propaganda and global force dynamics arose from working as a cross-cultural intermediary for large corporations in the film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. Updates on Twitter.

*McMahan, Jeff. The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life. 6th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp 221. Print.

Posted in Authoritarianism, conditioning, corporate news, culture, Deep State, divide and conquer, Dystopia, Empire, Geopolitics, History, Militarization, Neocons, Neoliberalism, news, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Over Half of Every Tax Dollar You Give to Uncle Sam is Spent on This

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By Phillip Schneider

Source: Waking Times

Most people probably don’t think too much about this, but are you aware of just how much of your income is being used to fuel the military industrial complex?

Conveniently omitted from the corporate/state-run media organizations is the fact that some 53 percent of your tax dollars are spent on the military. That’s right, more than half of the money you give to Uncle Sam for the privilege of being American income is spent directly on military.

In 2011 the budget for the US Government was over 3 trillion dollars, while military spending included a $717 billion request from the pentagon, $200 billion towards “overseas contingency funding” for the two major conflicts we are engaged in, and $40 billion in black budget intelligence which includes the CIA, NSA, and other agencies where the amount of money given is never fully disclosed.

In addition, $94 billion was spent on non-DOD military operations, $100 billion on health care and veterans benefits, and $400 billion was spent paying off the interest on debt raised to pay for past wars. This all adds up to over 1.6 trillion dollars spent on so-called defense. That is more than what was spent during the second world war after being adjusted for inflation.

Defense Spending Or Offense Spending?

Now it is true that defense spending is important to American interests. You might be inclined to think about how much worse off we would be without a military. Without a strong defense, if a country decided to engage us in any sort of negative way militarily we wouldn’t be able to resist or hold our ground.

However, what is typically called “defense spending” is by-and-large nothing offense spending designed to support a policy of military interventionism which exploits many nations for their natural resources and establishes Rothschild controlled central banks wherever and whenever they can.

To see this, one needs not look beyond the excuses for going to war in the first place. From the Gulf of Tonkin incident of August 1964, to the supposed WMD’s in Iraq, to Obama’s attempt in the summer of 2013 to begin bombing campaigns in Syria, nearly each and every war is initiated alongside war propaganda intended to serve the special interests who profit from the lucrative military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address of 1961.

Why would they need to continuously lie to get us into war if there was a plausible reason for “defending ourselves” in the first place?

Drone Bombings Are America’s Slap In The Face To The World

When you take the immediate danger of American soldiers out of the equation, and in some cases any human input at all, it creates a situation where the public generally doesn’t see any problem with bombing the living daylights out of another country because it is out of sight, out of mind. For this reason, the drone program has become one of the military’s most insidious operations in history.

To put the drone program into perspective you have to understand its scale and its ability to remain covert. During the Obama presidency alone, the US has bombed a total of eight countries. Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, and Pakistan. Also, Obama became the worlds first Nobel Peace Prize winner to bomb another Nobel Peace Prize winner when he authorized a strike on a Afghan hospital run by the 1999 Peace Prize recipient Doctors Without Borders, killing at least 22 people. And somehow, bombs somehow keep on falling in places where Obama boasts that he hast ended two wars.

A recent whistle blower exposed the fact that about 90 percent of those killed in drone strikes are not the intended targets. Yes, you heard that right. For every ten people killed by American drones, nine are innocent bystanders, some of which are merely patients in a hospital suspected of harboring terrorists.

“What is war but mass murder on a scale impossible by private police forces?” – Austrian economist Murray Rothbard

This Money Could Be Spent Fixing Our Country, Or Better Yet Not Stolen From Us

In 2014 one fighter jet ended up costing the US $400 billion dollars. That amount of money could have payed for every homeless person in America to have a house worth $600,000. Imagine what that kind of money could have done if it were spent on humanitarian efforts, or better yet, if left in the hands of hardworking Americans who are supporting the economy through their free market decisions.

At the end of the day, we are all cash-cows for Uncle Sam and his globalist military industrial complex.

This short video puts it all nicely into perspective:

Posted in anti-war, black ops, CIA, Conspiracy, Corporate Crime, corporate news, culture, Economics, Empire, False Flag, Geopolitics, History, Militarization, military spending, propaganda, Social Control, society, State Crime, war, war on terror, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two for Tuesday

Zack de la Rocha

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Courage and Free Speech

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Throughout human history there have been individuals who have been ready to risk everything for their beliefs

By Timothy Garton Ash

Source: aeon

‘Nothing is more difficult,’ wrote the German political essayist Kurt Tucholsky in 1921, ‘and nothing requires more character, than to find yourself in open contradiction to your time and loudly to say: No.’ First of all, it is intellectually and psychologically difficult to step outside the received wisdom of your time and place. What has been called ‘the normative power of the given’ persuades us that what we see all around us, what everyone else seems to regard as normal, is in some sense also an ethical norm.

Numerous studies in behavioural psychology show how our individual conviction of what is true or right quails before the massed pressure of our peers. We are, as Mark Twain observed, ‘discreet sheep’. This is what John Stuart Mill picked up when he wrote in On Liberty (1859); that the same causes that make someone a churchman in London would have made him a Buddhist or a Confucian in Beijing. The same truth is gloriously captured in the humorous song ‘The Reluctant Cannibal’ (1960) by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, in which a young cannibal revolts against the settled wisdom of his elders and declares that ‘eating people is wrong’. At the end of the song, one of the elders exclaims, to huge belly laughs all round: ‘Why, you might just as well go around saying: “Don’t fight people!”’ Then he and his colleagues cry in unison: ‘Ridiculous!’

Yet norms change even within a single lifetime, especially as we live longer. So as elderly disc jockeys are arrested for sexual harassment or abuse back in the 1960s, we should be uncomfortably aware that some other activity that people regard as fairly normal now might be viewed as aberrant and abhorrent 50 years hence.

To step outside the established wisdom of your time and place is difficult enough; openly to stand against it is more demanding still. In Freedom for the Thought that We Hate (2007), his fine book on the First Amendment tradition in the United States, Anthony Lewis quotes a 1927 opinion by the Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, which Lewis says ‘many regard as the greatest judicial statement of the case for freedom of speech’.

The passage Lewis quotes begins: ‘Those who won our independence… believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.’ This is magnificent, although it also illustrates the somewhat self-referential, even self-reverential, character of the modern First Amendment tradition.

Lewis cites Brandeis, who credits this thought to the 18th-century founders of the US. But those founders would have been well aware that they got it straight from Pericles’ funeral oration during the Peloponnesian War of the fifth century BCE, as reported – if not invented, or at least much improved upon – by Thucydides. ‘For you now,’ Thucydides’ Pericles admonishes his ancient Athenian audience, after praising the heroic dead, ‘it remains to rival what they have done and, knowing the secret of happiness to be freedom and the secret of freedom a brave heart, not idly to stand aside from the enemy’s onset.’

More directly, the US tradition of courage in the defence of free speech draws on the heritage of the 17th-century English. People such as John Lilburne, for example. In 1638, while still in his early 20s, Lilburne was found guilty by the Star Chamber court of helping to smuggle into England a tract against bishops that had been printed in the Low Countries. He was tied to the back of a cart on a hot summer’s day and unremittingly whipped as he walked with a bare back all the way from the eastern end of Fleet Street to Westminster Palace Yard. One bystander reckoned that he received some 500 blows that, since the executioner wielded a three-thronged whip, made 1,500 stripes.

Lilburne’s untreated shoulders ‘swelled almost as big as a penny loafe with the bruses of the knotted Cords’, and he was then made to stand for two hours in the pillory in Palace Yard. Here, in spite of his wounds and the burning sunshine, he began loudly to tell his story and to rail against bishops. The crowd was reportedly delighted. After half an hour, there came ‘a fat lawyer’ – ah, plus ça change – who bid him stop. The man whom the people of London had already dubbed ‘Free-Born John’ refused to shut up. He was then gagged so roughly that blood spurted from his mouth. Undeterred, he thrust his hands into his pockets and scattered dissident pamphlets to the crowd. No other means of expression being left to him, Free-Born John then stamped his feet until the two hours were up.

As an Englishman, I find particular inspiration in the example of Free-Born John, and those of all our other free-born Johns: John Milton, John Wilkes, John Stuart Mill (and George Orwell, a free-born John in all but name). More broadly, there is no reason to understate, let alone to deny, a specifically Western tradition of courage in the advancement of free speech, one that can be traced from ancient Athens, through England, France and a host of other European countries, to the US, Canada and all the liberal democracies of today’s wider West. But it would be quite wrong to suggest that this habit of the heart is confined to the West. In fact, there have been rather few examples of such sturdy defiance in England in recent times, while we find them in other countries and cultures.

Consider, for instance, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Liu was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment in 2009 for ‘subverting state power’. Both his written response to the charges against him and his final speech in court are, like many of his earlier writings, lucid and courageous affirmations of the central importance of free speech. He definitely does not draw only on Western traditions. For example, in his book No Enemies, No Hatred (2012), he quotes a traditional Chinese 24-character injunction: ‘Say all you know, in every detail; a speaker is blameless, because listeners can think; if the words are true, make your corrections; if they are not, just take note.’

After paying a moving tribute to his wife (‘Armed with your love, dear one, I can face the sentence that I’m about to receive with peace in my heart’), Liu looks forward to the day ‘when our country will be a land of free expression: a country where the words of each citizen will get equal respect, a country where different values, ideas, beliefs and political views can compete with one another even as they peacefully coexist’. The judge cut him short in court before he had finished speaking, but free-born Xiaobo, like free-born John, still got his message out. In his planned peroration, Liu wrote: ‘I hope that I will be the last victim in China’s long record of treating words as crimes. Free expression is the base of human rights, the root of human nature and the mother of truth. To kill free speech is to insult human rights, to stifle human nature and to suppress truth.’

Liu was by this time famous, and that great speech made him more so. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. But perhaps the most inspiring examples of all come from people who are not famous at all: so-called ordinary people doing extraordinary things. People such as the Hamburg shipyard worker who, at the launch of a naval training vessel in 1936, refused to join all those around him in making the Hitler salute. The photograph only achieved wide circulation on the internet more than 60 years later. There he stands amid a forest of outstretched arms, with both his own firmly folded across his chest, a portrait of stubborn worker’s pride. His name was August Landmesser. He had been a Nazi party member but was later expelled from the party for marrying a Jewish woman, and then imprisoned for ‘dishonouring the race’. After his release, he was drafted to fight in the Second World War and never returned.

Again, such moments are emphatically not confined to the West. During the Arab Spring of 2011, a ‘day of rage’ was proclaimed by dissidents in Saudi Arabia. Faced with a massive police presence at the appointed location in the country’s capital Riyadh, almost nobody showed up. But one man, a strongly built, black-haired teacher called Khaled al-Johani, suddenly approached a group of foreign reporters. ‘We need to speak freely,’ he cried, with an explosion of pent-up passion. ‘No one must curb our freedom of expression.’ A BBC Arabic service film clip, which you can watch on YouTube, shows a tall secret policeman, in white robes, headdress and dark glasses, looming in the background as he snoops on al-Johani’s speech. A little further away, armed police mutter into their walkie-talkies. ‘What will happen to you now?’ asks one of the reporters, as they escort the teacher back to his car. ‘They will send me to prison,’ al-Johani says, adding ironically: ‘and I will be happy.’ He was subsequently condemned to 18 months’ imprisonment.

In many places, we can find monuments to the Unknown Soldier, but we should also erect them to the Unknown Speaker.

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