Archive for the ‘American Empire’ Category

Twilight of American Empire

May 4, 2008

The fall of the American empire resembles that of Rome in several areas but primarily –military and economic. The economies of the US and Rome ultimately depended on conquest. To this end, the US was sold to the Military/Industrial complex for whom ‘conquest’ is both an addictive drug and a life’s blood. By the time the Roman Empire was sold at auction to one Didius Julianus, Rome’s currency had already collapsed, as the dollar is likewise endangered. The smart money had already dumped sestercius for Greek Drachmas and the sale of the empire was concluded in Greek currency –not Roman.

Today, the currency of choice is neither the US dollar nor the Euro. It’s oil and because Iran would prefer to sell oil for Euros, nations wishing to buy oil must exchange their dollars for Euros. Iran is threatened because it possesses a precious resource no longer produced economically in the US –oil! Rome was likewise impoverished. The sestercius was essentially worthless. It doesn’t require an economics degree to conclude that Rome invaded Dacia for its gold and that the US will attack Iran for its oil.

Lacking oil, lacking a currency of choice, the American empire is finished! Just like Rome!

The US made of the Military/Industrial complex a cornerstone of its economy as Rome had done. War apparently never paid its own way; Rome compelled its people to ‘render unto Caeser’ beyond the ability of most to do so. Poverty increased with higher prices. Many farmers fled Rome’s tax collector; others lost their farms whilst away on wars of conquest. Dispossessed farmers had no choice but to help swell the population of poor in Rome’s teaming ghettos –one of which birthed the Great Fire in Nero’s reign.

In his Decline and Fall of the American Empire, Gore Vidal called the Pentagon an “economic black hole”. Indeed, a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research makes the convincing case that military spending depresses the economy.

  • After an initial demand stimulus, the effect of increased military spending turns negative around the sixth year. After 10 years of higher defense spending, there would be 464,000 fewer jobs than in the baseline scenario with lower defense spending.
  • Inflation and interest rates are considerably higher. After 5 years, the interest rate on 10-Year Treasury notes is projected to be 0.7 percentage points higher than in the baseline scenario. After 10 years, the gap would rise to 0.9 percentage points.
  • Higher interest rates lead to reduced demand in the interest-sensitive sectors of the economy. After 5 years, annual car and truck sales are projected to go down by 192,200 in the high military spending scenario. After 10 years, the drop is projected to be 323,300 and after 20 years annual sales are projected to be down 731,400.
  • Construction and manufacturing are the sectors that are projected to experience the largest shares of the job loss.– Center for Economic and Policy Research: The Economic Impact of the Iraq War and Higher Military Spending

Military spending is not the only blood sucker loosed on the American economy. At a time when China stocks the shelves at Wal-Mart, Japan supplies the cars and electronic ‘play pretties’, and oil is pumped almost everywhere but in the US, the business of government is the nation’s only business and business thus owns and runs the government. There is a word for this: fascism. ‘Criminal Justice’ is not just an oxymoron, it is among the biggest businesses in Texas, for example. The same would have been true of Rome in its decline.

  • As many as 64 million Americans have arrest records, many of which never resulted in conviction. That means that about 27% of the nation’s adult population have a criminal record. (Source: LAC.org).

  • In 2004, nearly 7 million Americans (3% of adult population) were under some form of correctional supervision: 2.2 million incarcerated in state and federal prisons and local jails; 4.1 million on probation; and 700,000 on parole. (Source: US Department of Justice)

    4/23/08 UPDATE: Inmate Count in US Dwarfs Other Nations’

America likes to boast: “We’re Number One!” I always ask: “in what?”

America by the numbers

  • The United States is 49th in the world in literacy (the New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004).
  • The United States ranked 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).
  • Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the earth. Seventeen percent believe the earth revolves around the sun once a day (The Week, Jan. 7, 2005).
  • “The International Adult Literacy Survey…tound that Americans with less than nine years of education ‘score worse than virtually all of the other countries'” (Jeremy Rifkin’s superbly documented book The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, p.78).
  • Our workers are so ignorant and lack so many basic skills that American businesses spend $30 billion a year on remedial training (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004). No wonder they relocate elsewhere!
  • “The European Union leads the U.S. in…the number of science and engineering graduates; public research and development (R&D) expenditures; and new capital raised” (The European Dream, p.70).
  • “Europe surpassed the United States in the mid-1990s as the largest producer of scientific literature” (The European Dream, p.70).
  • Nevertheless, Congress cut funds to the National Science Foundation. The agency will issue 1,000 fewer research grants this year (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004).
  • Foreign applications to U.S. grad schools declined 28 percent last year. Foreign student enrollment on all levels fell for the first time in three decades, but increased greatly in Europe and China. Last year Chinese grad-school graduates in the U.S. dropped 56 percent, Indians 51 percent, South Koreans 28 percent (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004). We’re not the place to be anymore.
  • The World Health Organization “ranked the countries of the world in terms of overall health performance, and the U.S. [was]…37th.” In the fairness of health care, we’re 54th. “The irony is that the United States spends more per capita for health care than any other nation in the world” (The European Dream, pp.79-80). Pay more, get lots, lots less.
  • “The U.S. and South Africa are the only two developed countries in the world that do not provide health care for all their citizens” (The European Dream, p.80). Excuse me, but since when is South Africa a “developed” country? Anyway, that’s the company we’re keeping.
  • by Michael Ventura

There is a palpable sense of despair throughout the “land of the free” as it becomes clear that Bush still insists upon imposing a dictatorship. In the end, Rome became irrelevant as America is rapidly becoming today. The legions, for example, were efficient killing machines and the work of its engineers can still be found from England to the Middle East. It hardly mattered anymore. Few continued to believe in the Roman ideal.

Today, the US espouses peace, prosperity and Democracy as it breaks the peace, confiscates oil, and imposes a fascist and imperial rule. Yet no one outside the US believes in the ‘American’ ideal and, inside the US, those ‘ideals’ were disdainfully repudiated by a would-be emperor who said of the only document that made of them law: “The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper!” The entire world sees Bush for the fraud he is! Why is he still supported in the nation that he has betrayed?

In wars, there is always a difference between the motives of the soldiers and the motives of the political leaders who send them into battle. My motive, like that of so many, was innocent of imperial ambition. It was to help defeat fascism and create a more decent world, free of aggression, militarism, and racism.

The motive of the US establishment, understood by the aerial gunner I knew, was of a different nature. It was described early in 1941 by Henry Luce, multi-millionaire owner of Time, Life, and Fortune magazines, as the coming of “The American Century.” The time had arrived, he said, for the United States “to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit, and by such means as we see fit.”

–Howard Zinn, Empire or Humanity? What the Classroom Didn’t Teach Me About the American Empire

This response, Zinn argues, is counter-productive. As this blog has pointed out: terrorism is always worse during GOP regimes. Zinn characterizes American foreign policy in a phrase: “an old way of thinking!”. Zinn is right to term it a ‘destructive script’ repeated at Wounded Knee, the invasion of Cuba, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Central American nations such as El Salvador and Nicaragua. According to the US State Department, the US intervened militarily 103 times in foreign countries between 1798 and 1895. Zinn also connects “internal” imperialism with the “external” variety in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Iraq, in Afghanistan, and at home, the position of the globe’s “sole superpower” is visibly fraying. The country that was once proclaimed an “empire lite” has proven increasingly light-headed. The country once hailed as a power greater than that of imperial Rome or imperial Britain, a dominating force beyond anything ever seen on the planet, now can’t seem to make a move in its own interest that isn’t a disaster. The Iraq government’s recent offensive in Basra is but the latest example with — we can be sure — more to come. … It’s called A People’s History of American Empire. It’s a gem and it’s being published today.

Tomgram: Howard Zinn, The End of Empire?

The Emperor Valens, as I have mentioned too often on this blog, could not even raise an army. Nor can the US which recruits among those who cannot find work in the waste-land economy Ronald Reagan left behind. The real ‘dirty work’ is outsourced to mercenaries –just like Rome! Rome’s defeat at Adrianople was, in fact, a battle fought between ‘free barbarians’ and ‘mercenary’ barbarians paid by Rome.

It is ironic that many writers cite the rise of Christianity as a major reason for the fall of Rome. Certainly –many found it impossible to render unto Caesar and unto God and it is equally clear that cultism was rampant throughout the latter empire. The ‘Christians’ were just one of many strange cults and still are. All of them were symptomatic of needs not met by empire. And nothing has changed. A subtle argument –and one that I have toyed with –is that Rome did not fall; it was, rather, supplanted from within and survives still in the form of the Roman Catholic Church. If the many who see this as a conflict between ‘Christianity’ and ‘Islam’ are correct, then, clearly, Bush has taken the bait. The radical fundamentalists who celebrated Bush as a new Richard Coeur de Lion may be in for the shock of several centuries. No one can predict what might arise from the ashes of the short-lived ‘American empire’.

Gore Vidal dates the end of the American empire to a time during the Reagan administration when the US became a net debtor nation. It has been since! If that is true, then, clearly, the American empire must have begun in two acts of needless savagery which equal or surpass even the genocide of the Native American, and that is, the dropping of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The lives of some 200,000 civilians were taken in a flash because imperial Washington wanted to make a point!

But what point? The surrender terms offered before the nukes were dropped are verbatim those signed later on the Battleship Arizona. For what noble principle were the lives of some 200,000 civilians sacrificed?

Leo Szilard, a Hungarian-born scientist who played a major role in the development of the atomic bomb, argued against its use. “Japan was essentially defeated,” he said, and “it would be wrong to attack its cities with atomic bombs as if atomic bombs were simply another military weapon.” In a 1960 magazine article, Szilard wrote: “If the Germans had dropped atomic bombs on cities instead of us, we would have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them.”

–Mark Weber, Was Hiroshima Necessary?

It’s never too late to do the right thing!

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How an Iranian ‘Oil Bourse’ Threatens the American Empire

February 5, 2008

It’s been over seven years since the US had real or competent leadership and now a neo-ape man may precipitate our return to the cave! Iran’s planned oil bourse threatens not only Bush’s simplistic view of the world, it strikes at the the coffers of “big oil”. Isolated by mysteriously cut internet cables, Iran –if it is not nuked –will this month begin trading oil in currencies other than the dollar. Bush’s cave man response: Nuke Iran! Kill, kill!

On September 16 1985, when the Commerce Department announced that the United States had become a debtor nation, the American Empire was as dead, theoretically, as its predecessor, the British. Our empire was seventy-one years old and had been in ill financial health since 1968. Like most modern empires, ours rested not so much on military prowess as on economic primacy.

Gore Vidal, Chapter Three of Imperial America (Nation Books, 2005)

Bush’s response to Iran’s “Oil Bourse”, his response to the end of American empire, is pre-stonge age in nature. Indeed, the US empire will collapse when the dollar collapses. Because we have an ape-man and not a real President, the consequences will be tragic.

A commenter to this blog used the term “sunset fuel” to describe oil and our dependence upon it. The world grows more dangerous as oil becomes increasingly hard to find, more expensive to produce and refine. We should have expected the world to become a much more dangerous place under those conditions. In its decline, oil becomes disproportionately important, nations more desperate, Bush more belligerent.

Monitoring the news today –it is clear that the Middle East cables were deliberately sabotaged and the effect has been to cut Iran off the internet. Isolating a nation by cutting off its systems of communication is a first step preceding a military attack. Bush no longer cares about even the pretense of pre-text! His charge that Iran has weaponized grade fuels is universally and credibly debunked. The real threat is to the poohbahs of US empire –the Military/Industrial complex. Bush doesn’t care. Nuke Iran! Kill, kill!

Like the US today, Rome had currency problems, one of the reasons for its fall. When Rome attacked Dacia, it was for the gold. Much of the history of Rome is the history of how “empire” became “enterprise”, how the Praetorian Guard become the Military/Industrial complex.

The first known Roman “money” was a lump of bronze aptly named “aes grave”, literally, “a heavy lump of bronze”. An “aes grave” weighed about seven pounds. Traded by weight, it required slaves to carry it around.

A more portable medium –the true coin –would not appear until about 89 BC. It was quickly debased with increasingly thin silver plating as more coins were needed in circulation than could be backed up by the “real” wealth of empire. By one AD, a tiny new bronze aes or “as” was introduced. It had no real intrinsic value but it was easy to carry around. One could gain entry to bath houses or free public performances with it. Even then it was just a token to help “ushers” and/or doormen keep track of the number of folk.

By the mid 60s AD, Nero was alloying silver with cheaper metals, a process virtually impossible to detect. Nero thus set the precedent and standard not only for later emperors but politicians of almost every stripe. Briefly, Nero did what almost all politicians do. He swindled the people in order to put more coin into circulation.

By the time the Praetorian Guard auctioned off the empire to Didius Julianus, the transaction would be completed in Drachmas (Greek currency) not Roman the sestercius or the ass. The smart money had already dumped Roman coinage. In the late Empire, it was hoped that new coins –the silver “nummus” and the gold “aureus” — would restore confidence during periods of devastating inflation.

Much is made of the “gold standard”. In fact, it doesn’t matter. If someone like Ron Paul restored the Gold Standard in the US, the economy would melt down for several reasons. First, economies must grow or die. Fixing the currency to a finite standard guarantees that it will be necessary to “debase” to accommodate a growing population, growing demand for money itself. Secondly, given US weakness, encouraging Americans to dump bucks for metals, will only hasten the death cycle of the dollar. Perhaps Paul believes it is already too late –so just kill it off and be done with it. Nevermind, the millions who would literally starve or wind up on the streets.

The “Gold Standard” is a myth that is easily demagogued. In fact, a nation’s currency is really backed up by its total productive capacity. If the nation is at work and productive, we could use monopoly money! And we have been for years. Who the hell would cares for so long as we stay out of jail and pass “Go”? American prosperity was always behind and had always “backed up” the strong dollar. Paulian thinking that we need only jack around with the currency to restore American prosperity is literally “backward”. It doesn’t work that way.

Productivity needs help. US economic expansion had always been fueled by an abundance of natural resources –land, timber, water, farm land, metals, et al. The nation’s history was changed forever when oil was discovered first in Pennsylvania and, when that ran out, Spindletop in Texas. For over a century, US economic expansion was backed up by oil. The US was an oil producing nation. Oil was better than gold or silver in that it had much more intrinsic value than either metal.

Oil not only lubricated the engines, it fueled them. In the process of turning it into gasoline, it was discovered that its plastic properties could make an almost unlimited number of doodads, some of which had utilitarian value and some only value as playthings and baubles.

On a personal note, landing at Kansas City International Airport the other day, my vision of America altered by my in-flight reading of Mr. Berman’s remarkable work, I saw the landscape through new eyes, a landscape I now understood to have been systematically vandalized by the corporatocracy: big box stores, chain hotels and restaurants, strip malls and gas stations, a landscape everywhere repeated across the United States, a landscape we intend to impose upon the world in order to fulfill our destiny as bringer of freedom as expressed through consumption.

–Reader Review of Dark Ages America

From internet reaction to my previous article on the US v Iran:

If Iran is attacked it will have nothing or next to nothing to do with the oil bourse. It will be because the PNACers have targeted Iran, because, like Iraq, it is not a puppet state, and, in the Neocon “mind” thus presents an “existential threat” to the greater Israel that they imagine.

It has everything to do with Neocons who are most certainly supporters of the Military/Industial Complex or, more accurately, the Military/Oil Exploitation complex. Neocons are all about empire and oil is at the heart of American empire. Israel is, in fact, just a convenient ally as were the various puppet, vassel states of Rome –many of which were in the Middle East.

Certainly, when oil is no longer traded in dollars, it is not only the dollar that will collapse. It means that the US –on the bad end of a huge balance of trade deficit –will no longer be able to afford to import goods or services. For a nation that long ago (Reagan years primarily; See Vidal, cited) gave up its role as a manufacturing nation, this collapse will be monumental, catastrophic. The fact that oil had been traded in dollars was the only thing propping up the dollar. That there was a demand for dollars because there was a demand for oil meant that you could continue to buy imported goods with dollars. Now –imagine a world in which no other country need “purchase” dollars in order to import oil! What if oil producing nations agree to accept other currencies? What if they refuse to accept dollars? Go to Wal-Mart or even your local supermarket. Almost everything on the shelves is imported. Imagine a shop owner refusing to accept as payment for anything in the shop your worthless dollars !

As Gore Vidal pointed out, the US empire ended in the eighties, when the US became a net debtor nation. GOP regimes since have only made the situation worse. Just as empire became the business of Rome, empire had become the “business” of the US which no longer produces enough to employ its population let alone export to the rest of the world. Most US consumer goods are imported from China, sold in Warl-Mart, discarded in America. America’s best days are over. We live in the twilight of empire.

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The war on Iraq threatens the US Economy as mass murder ceases to be profitable

August 19, 2007

How Power Without Responsibility Poses a Threat to the World

August 9, 2007

Following is the complete text of an excellent article by Aziz Huq for The Nation, reprinted by CBS News. The very crux of the following article is a theme sounded many times on this blog i.e, the mission of this administration “the transformation of limited government into a government that is not accountable to anyone.” There are two words to describe this. Dictatorship! Tyranny!

After enduring weeks of blistering criticism for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ inartful elisions about the National Security Agency (NSA) spying activities, the Bush administration has successfully forced on Congress a law that largely authorizes open-ended surveillance of Americans’ overseas phone calls and e-mails. How did they do it?

The Protect America Act of 2007 � the title alone ought to be warning that unsavory motives are at work � is the most recent example of the national security waltz, a three-step administration maneuver for taking defeat and turning it into victory.

The waltz starts with a defeat in the courts for administration actions � for example, the Supreme Court’s extension of the rule of law to the US military prison at Guant�namo in the 2004 case of Rasul v. Bush, or its striking down of the military commissions in 2006 in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. The second step does not follow immediately. Rather, some months later, the administration suddenly announces that the ruling has created a security crisis and cries out for urgent remedial legislation. Then (and here’s the coup de gr�ce) the administration rams legislation through Congress � the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, or the Military Commissions Act of 2006 � that not only undoes the good court decision but also inflicts substantial damage to the infrastructure of accountability.

This time, the sordid dance began with a bad ruling for the government, a ruling that demands some context to be understood.

In January the administration suddenly announced that it was submitting the secretive NSA “terrorist surveillance program” to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC, a closed judicial process established by the 1978 FISA law to handle search warrants for foreign intelligence purposes. The move came as federal appellate courts in Ohio and California seemed on the cusp of ruling the NSA’s domestic surveillance efforts illegal as violations of FISA and possibly the Fourth Amendment. It seemed a way to forestall defeat in those cases.

But in early summer, a FISC judge declined to approve part of the NSA’s activities. While the ruling remains classified, it apparently focused on communication that originated overseas but passed through telecom switches in the United States.

Modern telecommunications work by breaking communications into packets of data and routing them through a network of connected computers. Messages do not travel in a linear fashion: A message from Murmansk to Mali might be routed through California. Many of the largest switches routing international data are located in the United States. As USA Today reported in May 2006, the NSA is already tapping those switches. And since January, the government appears to have obtained “basket warrants,” allowing it to trawl this data freely, without any judicial or Congressional oversight.

It seems likely that the judge objected because the NSA was collecting calls that originated overseas but ended in the United States. The NSA can generally get a warrant for such communications � unless there is no evidence that the person under scrutiny is a terrorist. A broad-brush NSA surveillance program, especially one that generates its leads through data-mining, the science of extracting information from large databases, might have exactly this problem.

The second step in the waltz came several months later, with administration allies such as House minority leader John Boehner invoking the FISC ruling on Fox News as justification for a new law. As usual, the administration and its allies had no compunction about using classified information � such as the ruling � when it helped them politically. And as usual, the administration artfully concealed the full details of the ruling even while insisting on it as a spur to immediate action. By waiting for the last week of the Congressional session, the administration in effect cut off the possibility of meaningful debate.

The third step of the waltz has a grim familiarity about it: enactment of a law that is in no way limited to addressing the narrow “problem” created by the FISC ruling. Rather, the Protect America Act is a dramatic, across-the-board expansion of government authority to collect information without judicial oversight. Even though Democrats negotiated a deal with Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell that addressed solely the foreign-to-foreign “problem” created by the FISC ruling, the White House torpedoed that deal and won a far broader law.

To those who have followed this administration’s legal strategy closely, the outcome should be no surprise. The law’s most important effect is arguably not its expansion of raw surveillance power but the sloughing away of judicial or Congressional oversight. In the words of former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, the law provides “unlimited access to currently protected personal information that is already accessible through an oversight procedure.”

Like the Constitution’s Framers, this administration understands that power is accrued through the evisceration of checks and balances. Unlike that of the Framers, its mission is the transformation of limited government into a government that is not accountable to anyone.

On Monday, the administration defended the Protect America Act as a “narrow” fix and rejected accusations that it authorized a “driftnet.” To see how disingenuous these claims are requires some attention to the details of the legislation.

The key term in the Protect America Act is its licensing of “surveillance directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States.” This language has a superficial reasonableness, since domestic surveillance has long been understood to raise the most troubling abuse concerns.

But the trouble with this language is that it permits freewheeling surveillance of Americans’ international calls and e-mails. The problem lies in the words “directed at.” Under this language, the NSA could decide to “direct” its surveillance at Peshawar, Pakistan � and seize all US calls going to and from there. It could focus on Amman, or Cairo, or London, or Paris, or Toronto. Simply put, the law is an open-ended invitation to collect Americans’ international calls and e-mails.

Further, the law does not limit the collection of international calls to security purposes: Rather, it seems the government can seize any international call or e-mail for any reason � even if it’s unrelated to security. Indeed, another provision of the law confirms that national security can be merely one of several purposes of an intelligence collection program. This point alone should sink the administration’s claim to be doing no more than technical fiddling. While the FISA law limited warrantless surveillance absolutely, this law licenses it, not only for national security purposes but also for whatever purpose the government sees fit.

Of further concern is the “reasonably believe” caveat. This means that so long as the NSA “reasonably” believes its antennas are trained overseas, wholly domestic calls can sometimes be collected. And since the NSA uses a filter to separate international calls from wholly domestic calls, it need only “reasonably believe” that it’s getting this right. It’s this new latitude for error that is troubling, especially because this isn’t an administration known for its care when the rights and lives of others are at stake. It remains deeply unclear how much domestic surveillance this allows.

The problems created by this loosening of standards are compounded by the risibly weak oversight procedures contained in the law. Rather than issuing individualized warrants, now the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General can certify yearlong programs for collecting international calls. The program as a whole is placed before the FISA court, which can only invalidate those procedures and claims that are “clearly erroneous.” The government thus has to meet an extraordinarily low standard, in a one-sided judicial procedure in which the court has no access to details of the program’s actual operation.

Congressional oversight is even more laughable. Attorney General Gonzales, that paragon of probity and full disclosure, is required to report not on the program’s overall operations but solely on “incidents of noncompliance.” Of course, given how weak the constraints imposed by the law are, self-reported noncompliance is likely to be minimal.

Finally, some advocates and legislators have taken comfort in the law’s six-month sunset provision. But this means that the act will be up for authorization in the middle of the presidential campaign, an environment in which the pressures to accede to administration demands will be even higher than usual. And the law doesn’t really sunset after six months: The provision is artfully drafted to allow the NSA to continue wielding its new surveillance powers for up to a year afterward.

The Protect America Act, in short, does not live up to its name: It does not enhance security-related surveillance powers. Rather, it allows the government to spy when there is no security justification. And it abandons all but the pretense of oversight. The result, as with so many of this administration’s ill-advised policies, is power without responsibility � and it is by now all too clear how wisely and carefully this administration wields power in the absence of accountability.

One coda to this story is worth adding. The Justice Department is unlikely to take action against Representative Boehner for his partisan invocation of classified information on network news. Newsweek reported this week that former Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm is being investigated apparently in connection to leaks of information about the NSA’s domestic surveillance. So goes Gonzales Justice: Politicized manipulation of classified information gets the green light, while hardworking career officials become targets for speaking out when they see the law being violated.

Power Without Responsibility, Aziz Huq, Reprinted by CBS with permission from The Nation.

There is increasing bi-partisan support for impeachment. Of course, impeachment must begin with both Bush and Cheney to be followed with a wholesale housecleaning of the most corrupt administration in American history.

Is that enough? No –unless Bush’s assault on the Constitution is undone, impeachment is a complete waste of time. Unless Congress reasserts its sole power and authority to wage war and unless Bush’s sorry rewrite of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is undone, impeachment will simply bestow dictatorship upon a successor. It’s not about Bush anymore; we all know him to be an evil fuck up! This is about the kind of nation we will have after Bush is brought to justice for capital crimes.

Rome failed to restore its lost republic. Will that be the story of the US?

News items from Bush’s repressive regime:

Kent officer tickets man for ‘Impeach Bush’ sign

That’s an outrage, of course. We have a right to carry any damn sign we please! But, I have long ago stopped trying to “cover” every outrage against the Bill of Rights, indeed, the very rule of law. Under Bush, they are legion. It is Bushco’s strategy to move against freedom on so many fronts, that it is beyond the ability of media or watchdogs to chronicle every outrage, every abuse, every subversion of law or the very rule of law itself.

Our Un-American Government

FindLaw columnist and human rights attorney Joanne Mariner discusses different definitions of what it means for a practice or belief to be “un-American,” as defined by American figures ranging from Joseph McCarthy to Bill O’Reilly to Donald Rumsfeld. Mariner notes that even after Rumsfeld described the torture perpetrated at Abu Ghraib as “un-American,” the U.S. has continued to condone torture. She argues that in the end, the term “un-American” should be defined in opposition to that which is best in American life — including our regard for human rights. She encourages readers to sign a pledge to this effect, opposing what, she argues, are truly un-American practices such as indefinite detention and other rights violations….

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Is This World War III?

July 15, 2007

The Bush Legacy: One Nation Destroyed; Another Betrayed

July 3, 2007

The Four Biggest Myths about the US War Against the People of Iraq

June 27, 2007


Lies about Iraq are easily disproved. The myths die harder. Bush lied about Iraq in order to attack and invade. The many myths, however, have to do with the geo-political significance of Iraq, US motives and incompetence, and the nature of the resistance to the illegal US occupation.

Myth: Iraq is a failed State.

Iraq is not a failed state, it is a state all but destroyed by the US occupation.

The Failed States Index 2007 published by The Fund for Peace and FOREIGN POLICY magazine states that not all “failed states” “suffer from international neglect”, citing the attention that has been given Iraq and Afghanistan. FP stops short of the obvious conclusion: both states cannot be said to have failed but are prevented from succeeding because of the nature of the “international attention” with which both states have been afflicted. Both nations are described as the two main fronts in a global war on terror but, in both instances, terrorism is said to have increased as the wars have lost focus.

In both cases, the US went to war upon bogus evidence, in the case of Iraq, a pack of blackhearted lies. As the PBS Frontline documentary so accurately points out, there was no “insurgency” in Iraq until the US occupation disbanded the Iraqi army and drove the Baathist party underground with a de-baathification order. Until that time, the Iraq military had been overtly pro-US.

De-Baathification didn’t really pay attention to the lessons of de-Nazification. The Army War College actually had studied this in the fall of ’02 and made the point in a study that de-Nazification was very carefully done from the very bottom up. They went into each village, and they talked to anti-Nazi people about who the Nazis had been, and they compiled information at the village level.

L. Paul Bremer did the opposite. He comes in at the very top and issues a sweeping rule that really doesn’t even have information about who are Baathists, why they were Baathists, and who wasn’t a Baathist. It’s really just almost a casual imposition on the society that’s not particularly informed about the nature of Iraqi society. I think the occupation of Germany was much more an excuse than real analogy. �

Thomas E. Ricks, Author, Fiasco

Paul Bremer, meanwhile, takes the rap for the de-Baathification order.

The mistake I made was turning it over to the Governing Council. I should have turned it over instead to a judicial body of some kind. The Governing Council, in turn, turned it over to Chalabi. I did not turn it over to Chalabi. It is true that once the Governing Council took it over, they started interpreting the policy, implementing the policy much more broadly, and we had to walk the cat back in the spring of 2004.

L. Paul Bremer

There was reason to believe that the US had achieved its objectives in Iraq and US forces could come home.

So I said, “Well, Charlie, what do you think?” To the best of my memory, Charlie said, “Well, if you do this, you’re going to drive 40,000 to 50,000 Baathists underground by nightfall. The number is closer to 50,000 than it is [to] 30,000.”

Lt. Gen. Jay Garner (Ret.)

That was, indeed, the expectation among troops on the ground and on the streets of Baghdad. But, typically, a dispatch by Arab News itself was no closer to understanding the long term effect of “de-baathification” than the US media.

AAmir Taheri (Arab News-Saudi Arabia): The US-led coalition has achieved all its principal objectives in Iraq: The Baathist regime has been dismantled. Democracy seems to be flourishing after several local elections, a constitutional referendum, and two general elections. A one-party system has been replaced with a pluralist one with more than 200 political groups and parties.

It is a mistake, therefore, to conclude that Iraq, since the fall of Saddam, has always been dominated by Iran-linked fundamentalist Shia parties, though The Existentialist Cowboy was critical of that outcome. US ineptitude created the “insurgency” more properly characterized as a guerilla war against a foreign occupation.

No consensus was ever reached, and no clear plan ever devised. Hovering over this entire process was the figure–seldom acknowledged, almost never mentioned–of Ahmad Chalabi. Time and again, during the months leading up to the invasion and for months thereafter, the representatives of the Vice President and Pentagon officials would introduce ideas that were thinly veiled efforts to put Chalabi in charge of post-invasion Iraq. Immediately before the invasion, the effort took the form of a proposal, put forward insistently and repeatedly, to form an Iraqi “government in exile,” comprised of exiles and Kurdish leaders. These exiles would then be installed as a new government once Baghdad fell. My CIA colleagues were aghast. It was as though Defense and the Vice President’s staff wanted to invite comparison with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when Russian troops deposed the existing government and installed Babrak Karmal, whom they had brought with them from Moscow.

‘A Slow-Motion Car Crash’, Time

But for the utter incompetence of the Bush administration, it need not have been that way. Billions of dollars in development and security have already been wasted because the bucks were not backed up with a functioning government, leaders with the support of the Iraqi people, viable plans to address the basic needs of Iraqi citizens. Running water, electricity and other demands on infrastructure were sorely lacking. The US occupation did not merely break a nation, it’s continuing omni-presence most certainly militated against Iraqi progress toward independent and productive state-hood.

But Bremer’s side of the story doesn’t really help his case.

…any thought of using the old army was undercut by conditions on the ground. Before the 2003 war, the army had consisted of about 315,000 miserable draftees, almost all Shiite, serving under a largely Sunni officer corps of about 80,000. The Shiite conscripts were regularly brutalized and abused by their Sunni officers. When the draftees saw which way the war was going, they deserted and, like their officers, went back home. But before the soldiers left, they looted the army’s bases right down to the foundations.

So by the time I arrived in Iraq, there was no Iraqi army to disband. Some in the US military and the CIA’s Baghdad station suggested that we try to recall Hussein’s army. We refused, for overwhelming practical, political and military reasons.

Paul Bremer

It must be pointed out, however, that there “…was no thought of using the old army” primarily because of Bremer’s order. Moreover, the timeline of events clearly shows that the first “attacks” did not occur until after the De-Bathification order and the army dismantled.

“Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.”

�Cicero [1]

Had the US intended to rehabilitate Iraq, one would have thought that the Bush administration would have had a plan. We must conclude, therefore, that rehabilitating Iraq had never been planned because it was never high on the Bush agenda. The theft of Iraqi oil most surely was.

That brings up another myth:

Myth: Bush failed in Iraq because he never defined what it meant to win.

I’ve almost fallen for that one myself. In fact, Bush, or, perhaps Dick Cheney, most certainly defined success in Iraq but neither man dare reveal it to the world. It is nothing less than the grand theft of Iraqi oil. It is highly doubtful that the meeting of Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force was brushing up their geography with the detailed maps of Iraqi oil fields.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch�s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and �Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.� The documents, which are dated March 2001, are available on the Internet at: http://www.JudicialWatch.org.

Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Feature Map of Iraqi Oil Fields, Commerce & State Department Reports to Task Force Detail Oilfield & Gas Projects, Contracts & Exploration, Saudi Arabian & UAE Oil Facilities Profiled As Well

Cheney met with his energy sponsor in 2001. The meeting was attended by executives from the oil and gas industries, including Anadarko Petroleum�s Robert Allison and then-Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay. It is fair to conclude that Bush had been assigned the task of waging war on Iraq, indeed, the Middle East, on behalf of the energy giants which supported this presidency. That brings up Another myth.

Myth: Iraqis are better off without Saddam, an evil dictator.

They are worse off under Bush, an evil dictator. Two words -Abu Ghraib -have shut up Bush’s “rape room” rhetoic.

“The Iraqi people are now free. And they do not have to worry about the secret police coming after them in the middle of the night, and they don’t have to worry about their husbands and brothers being taken off and shot, or their wives being taken to rape rooms. Those days are over.”

–Paul Bremer, Administrator, [Iraq] Coalition Provisional Authority, Sept. 2, 2003

“Iraq is free of rape rooms and torture chambers.”

–President Bush, remarks to 2003 Republican National Committee Presidential Gala, Oct. 8, 2003

“There was an announcement by the Iraqi Governing Council earlier this week about the tribunal that they have set up to hold accountable members of the former regime who were responsible for three decades of brutality and atrocities. We know about the mass graves and the rape rooms and the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein’s regime. We welcome their decision to move forward on a tribunal to hold people accountable for those atrocities.”

-Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan, White House press briefing, Dec. 10, 2003

Evil is a word I used never to use. Evil is found in the most selfish motives of humankind, motives strong and utterly devoid of empathy. Evil is found in Hitler’s boast that he had waged war against the Jew in full view of the world. It is likewise found in the sordid deals cut between Dick Cheney and the robber barons of big oil to whom he auctioned off the United States of America. If Bush had better intentions ever, he compromised them for oil and vainglorious conquest, truly a Faustian pact.

Myth: The US is opposed by a terrorist insurgency!

Evil is the only word to describe the conditions of Abu Ghraib which the US began to fill following the infamous “be-Baathification Order” and the dismantling of the Iraqi army. The US theft of Iraqi resources and the high-handed dismantling of Iraq’s very nationhood inspired a legitimate Iraqi resistance. For their efforts the resistance was labeled “terrorist” though there had been no such resistance prior to US missteps, US crimes, US ineptitude.

The cells of Abu Ghraib were filled again –not by Saddam but by the foreign occupiers. There is no need to recount the horrors save to say that the illegitimate regime of George W. Bush bears the responsibility. George, you had best run and hide. When your term is over, an international movement is afoot and organized to track you down and bring you to justice for war crimes.

Bush was caught flat-footed with the very first “insurgent” attack. Having gone to the well so many times, it is not surprising that Bush would do so again. The attack was a “terrorist” attack, it was said, when, in fact, it was the guerilla resistance to an illegal occupation throwing down the gauntlet. The word “terrorist” was chosen by Bushies because it implies illegitimacy. Bush dared not called them “guerillas”. A guerilla, on his own homeland, opposing an illegal occupancy is not merely legitimate, he has the moral high ground. He has as much moral legitimacy as did George Washington. In fact, most of the resistance to the US is neither terrorist nor an insurgency.

�If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms — never! never! never!�

-William Pitt the elder, (British Statesman 1st Earl of Chatham, Viscount Pitt of Burton-Pynsent, by name The Great Commoner, 1708-1778)

Iraq did not ask to be occupied and the US occupation cannot be justified after-the-fact, though many have tried. Saddam was a bad man, they say. If the US occupation had been benign, that argument would still have been fallacious though more palatable. The brutal nature of the US occupation subverts the idea that the US is somehow absolved ex post facto! There was hope among Bush die hards that a good outcome might counter-balance a failed and evil beginning. That did not happen. Until Bush orders a complete pullout of US troops, the failed war against Iraq is his tar baby. Tragically, Bush’s reasons for staying in Iraq are as evil as his reasons for invading. Don’t expect a happy ending. There isn’t one.

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Iraq: Only Losers Get Charged with War Crimes

June 25, 2007

As the sun sets on America’s would-be Middle Eastern empire, it is clear that this war was wrong and immoral. This war was and remains a crime. No doubt, Bush had hoped that a victory on the ground would have kept the architects of this crime against humanity off the gallows. He was wrong. Again.

The Media Failed America

It’s no secret that the period of time between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq represents one of the greatest collapses in the history of the American media. Every branch of the media failed, from daily newspapers, magazines and Web sites to television networks, cable channels and radio. I’m not going to go into chapter and verse about the media’s specific failures, its credulousness about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds and failure to make clear that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 — they’re too well known to repeat. In any case, the real failing was not in any one area; it was across the board. Bush administration lies and distortions went unchallenged, or were actively promoted. Fundamental and problematic assumptions about terrorism and the “war on terror” were rarely debated or even discussed. Vital historical context was almost never provided. And it wasn’t just a failure of analysis. With some honorable exceptions, good old-fashioned reporting was also absent. …

Bush Failed the Generals

05.01.2007

Washington, DC

Today, two retired Generals who led troops in Iraq expressed outrage at the President’s veto of the US Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act.

The President vetoed our troops and the American people. His stubborn commitment to a failed strategy in Iraq is incomprehensible. He committed our great military to a failed strategy in violation of basic principles of war. His failure to mobilize the nation to defeat world wide Islamic extremism is tragic. We deserve more from our commander-in-chief and his administration.

–Maj. Gen. John Batiste, USA, Ret.

US ‘failed to control’ Iraq oil

A United Nations panel has found that the US-led occupation authority failed to exercise proper controls over Iraq’s oil industry and could not say how much oil had gone missing since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The International Advisory and Monitoring Board report also said there were “important weaknesses” in the management by occupation officials of up to $20bn in Iraqi funds, mostly from oil sales.

US politicians have often accused the UN of incompetence and, perhaps, corruption in its handling of the oil-for-food programme, a scheme to alleviate Iraqi suffering under sanctions before the war. Now the boot is on the other foot. …

US Failed to Foresee the Resistance to Occupation

American and Iraqi efforts to improve security in Baghdad have failed to reduce bloodshed in the increasingly violent Iraqi capital, the senior US military spokesman in Iraq acknowledged on Thursday.

In an uncharacteristically gloomy admission, Major General William Caldwell said the recent surge in violence was �disheartening�. He said US and Iraqi forces would have to �refocus� security measures. The review was demanded by General George Casey, who commands the 140,000 US troops in Iraq.

Gen Caldwell did not specify how security methods might be refocused, but the unusually grim assessment seems in part intended to put pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take political steps that US officers have long said need to accompany military operations. …

The US Failed the Wider War

For the United States, Afghanistan is the sideshow. Iraq is the main event. The staying power of the United States in Afghanistan will largely be determined by what happens in Iraq. If Americans—elites and the people alike—decide that Iraq is a lost cause, they will soon decide the same thing about Afghanistan. An American troop withdrawal from Iraq will be quickly be followed by a withdrawal from Afghanistan. When Canadians consider the future of their Afghan mission, they need to keep an eye on Iraq. What happens there will determine the geo-strategic outlook for Afghanistan.

The following videos are best viewed in order. Three videos made up what was originally broadcast on PBS Frontline in the US. However, since posting this article, someone complained and DailyMotion “pulled” the first episode. I wonder which part of Bush’s criminal administration had been offended by the truth? Since that time, I have found a good selection of excerpts of the entire documentary with which to lead. I really don’t know if these excerpts replace the offending portion of episode number one.

The videos are still best viewed in order, stopping the completed vid before moving on.

When things didn’t work according to preconceived notions, Bush vowed to stay a course that had already failed. Vainly hoping for success but never capable of defining it, Bush fell victim to his own inflexibility, right-wing ideology and visions of vainglorious conquest.



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How George W. Bush and his Neocon Gang Screwed the World

June 24, 2007

People to Bush, the GOP and the Congress: the Constitution is not Negotiable

June 23, 2007