Sunday, May 03, 2015
Bombs away from who?
Let me see if I can get this right the first time. Those of you that don’t care what is happening in the middle east. Well, all I can say is you best awaken because it is coming back to roost on your door steps sooner than you think.
Ok, here I go, The Sunni Saudis are bombing the Shia Yemenis and the Shia Iranians are bombing the Sunni Iraqis. The Sunni Egyptians are bombing Sunni Libyans, it’s true, and the Jordanian Sunnis are bombing Iraqi Sunnis. But the Shia-supported Syrian government forces are bombing their Sunni Syrian enemies and the Lebanese Hezbollah – Shia to a man – are fighting the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Sunni enemies, along with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and an ever-larger number of Afghan Shia men in Syrian uniforms. Now have you figured all that mess out? Of course not, after all it is not close enogh after all it’s just bombings right? Wrong!
And if you want to taste the sectarianism of all this, just take a look at Saudi Arabia’s latest request to send more Pakistani troops to protect the kingdom (and possibly help to invade Yemen), which came from the new Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman who at only 34 is not much older than his fighter pilots. But the Saudis added an outrageous second request: that the Pakistanis send only Sunni Muslim soldiers. Pakistani Shia Muslim officers and men (30 per cent of the Pakistani armed forces) would not be welcome. Confused yet? Thought so!
It’s worth remembering that Pakistani soldiers were killed by the Iraqi army in the battle for the Saudi town of Khafji in 1991. Were they all Sunnis, I wonder?
And then, of course, there are the really big winners in all this blood, the weapons manufacturers. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin supplied £1.3bn of missiles to the Saudis only last year. But three years ago, Der Spiegel claimed the European Union was Saudi Arabia’s most important arms supplier and last week France announced the sale of 24 Rafale fighter jets to Qatar at a cost of around £5.7bn. Egypt has just bought another 24 Rafales.
It’s worth remembering at this point that the Congressional Research Services in the US estimate that most of Isis’s budget comes from “private donors” in – you guessed it – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait. More than a decade after “Mission Accomplished”, Barack Obama says that half of the senior commanders in Isis have been liquidated. To that I say bullshit, as most of the Middle East s in a state of “total decay”.
It’s no secret that the U.S. is most certainly not the most loved country in the world because of its government’s long history of highly aggressive military actions, as well as its interference in the internal affairs of countless nations. But what we are seeing today is that an increasing number of nations are turning against the U.S. and taking various actions to rid themselves of its presence and influence.
Latin American nations are standing up to the United States. Some have kicked out its bases and ceased sending students to the School of the Americas. People are protesting at US bases in Italy, South Korea, England, and at US embassies in the Philippines, Czech Republic, and Ukraine. German courts are hearing charges that it is illegally participating in US drone wars.
The U.S. government’s extremely aggressive military policies are making new enemies at an alarming rate. The Middle East is in flames from Syria to Iraq to Yemen with more and more militant factions in those countries rising up in anger and frustration after being subjected to decades of oppression by foreign powers, including the U.S. Fighting is raging in these three countries and could easily spread to Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, and any number of other Middle Eastern countries.
There’s a saying from the Christian Bible, “Those that live by the sword shall die by the sword.” Its meaning is, of course, that those who use violence against others will find that this same violence will eventually be used against them. That’s similar to another saying, “You will reap what you have sown.” And it’s happening as we speak.
Those in positions of power and responsibility would do well to understand that it’s time that to read the handwriting on the wall and act accordingly; that is, before it’s too late.
But, guess what that is not happening as you cn see the government also wanting to take over it’s own people or citizens as slaves. After all how blind can you be until the day it is knocking on your door. Best wake up as things are not looking that bright for the New World Order at lease from the United States side of things. Learning to speak Chinese yet? Maybe a little Russia would not be so bad as well! I know, all the sheep are just tumbled over with smiles and laughter. After all what does an old man from the Viet Nam war era know anyway. Well, he knows what it is like from being invaded, no fresh water, or even goods that seem to be plenty for all now days. Wake up Sheep!
Worth noting that 57% of the US discretionary federal budget is dedicated to warfare. Did you see what I said 57% of the Federal budget is used for WARFARE!
The situation has become so absurd, that the Pentagon is unable to even account for how it spends its money. The Air Force decision to base its newest generation of planes in Burlington is a tribute to the Vermont Air National Guard, which is the finest in the nation. It reflects the Guard’s dedication to its mission and long record of outstanding performance. The Air Force has made clear that this aircraft, which will anchor our national air defenses, is the Air Force’s future. Now the men and women of Vermont’s Air National Guard have been chosen for a vital role in that future. The decision ensures the Vermont Air Guard’s continuing mission and protects hundreds of jobs and educational opportunities for Vermonters while securing its significant contribution to the local economy. We appreciate the Guard’s commitment to continue working with its airport neighbors to address legitimate concerns about noise and other environmental concerns.
To be sure, those seeking social change in the US cannot have their cake and eat it too. The unions in the US still haven’t learned their lesson, as the vast majority refuse to seriously challenge the US Empire or militarism abroad. To me, none of this is surprising, as most of unions cannot seem to muster the courage to speak out against the murder of young black people within the US, let alone those we kill overseas. Oh did I hit closer to home now. Stay tuned as I am not done, in fact I am on a roll!
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Baltimore, the injured police, and especially the family of Freddie Gray. What is happening there reminds us of the challenges of inequality and unease in America that we must address.
The labor movement is a part of the community and we stand with working families who seek constructive dialogue and long term community change. As we have said before, we are committed to combatting long term issues of racism, inequality and discrimination. And our work will continue long after the cameras have left.
Without a serious movement aimed at dismantling the US Empire, which includes the Surveillance and Police State, we cannot expect candidates to organically come to the conclusion that US Empire must be opposed.
As a result, activists shouldn’t expect much, especially from someone who hails from a state that’s all too willing to capitulate to the needs of the military industrial complex. Turns out, nationalists and those who are politically and financially dependent on the US Military-Industrial-Complex aren’t willing to oppose the US Empire. Imagine that.
Of course, there is room for optimism as young activists and organizers hit the streets across the nation in opposition to militarized policing. Hopefully, they can inject a critique of US Empire into the ongoing discussion surrounding domestic militarism. “Billions for Wars, Nothing for the Poor.”
Fortunately, for the rest of the world, there are principled activists and organizers in the US who are dedicating themselves to the very difficult project of growing a robust, vibrant and sophisticated anti-Imperialist movement in the belly of the Empire. In my opinion, those roots are already taking form in Baltimore, Ferguson and elsewhere. People are talking about policing and militarization. The leap from domestic policing to international policing isn’t a drastic one, and it’s already been discussed.
People are starting to talk about Gaza and Baltimore, Guantanamo Bay and Pelican Bay, Iraq and Chiraq in the same breath. Therein lies the hope: people connecting struggles and working effectively to resist domination and oppression. Still much more to get off my big chest!
Over the past 10 years, thousands of innocent Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Yemenis and other inhabitants of the area generally designated as the Middle East, as well as parts of Africa such as Somalia, have been killed by American drones. They are the folks our government casually writes off as “collateral damage.” Wedding parties and funerals have been attacked, and young men dressed a certain way are automatically assumed to be “terrorists” and, hence, fair game. Finally from my own heart this last bit.
There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. The fortieth anniversary of the ugly end of the U.S. adventure in Vietnam is a time to speak – and especially of the squandered opportunities that existed earlier in the war to blow the whistle and stop the killing.
I waited even longer – until my own truth-telling no longer really mattered for the bloodshed in Vietnam. My hope is that there may be a chance this reminiscence might matter now – if only as a painful example of what I could and should have done, had I the courage back then. Opportunities to blow the whistle in time now confront a new generation of intelligence analysts – whether they work on Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, ISIS or Iran.
Don’t just wring your hands, with an “I did everything I could to get the truth out.” Chances are you have not done all you can. Ponder the stakes – the lives ended too early; the bodies and minds damaged forever; the hatred engendered against the United States; and the long-term harm to U.S. national interests – and think about blowing the whistle publicly to prevent unnecessary carnage and alienation.
certainly wish I had done so about what I learned of the unconscionable betrayal by senior military and intelligence officers regarding Vietnam. More recently, I know that several of you intelligence analysts with a conscience wish you had blown the whistle on the fraud “justifying” war on Iraq. Spreading some truth around is precisely what you need to do now on Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and the “war on terror,” for example.
I thought that by describing my own experience – negative as it is – and the remorse I continue to live with, I might assist those of you now pondering whether to step up to the plate and blow the whistle now, before it is again too late. So below is an article that I might call “Vietnam and Me.”
My hope is to spare you the remorse of having to write, a decade or two from now, your own “Ukraine and Me” or “Syria and Me” or “Iraq and Me” or “Libya and Me” or “The War on Terror and Me.” My article, from 2010, was entitled “How Truth Can Save Lives” and it began:
If independent-minded Web sites, like WikiLeaks or, say, Consortiumnews.com, existed 43 years ago, I might have risen to the occasion and helped save the lives of some 25,000 U.S. soldiers, and a million Vietnamese, by exposing the lies contained in just one SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Saigon.
I need to speak out now because I have been sickened watching the herculean effort by Official Washington and our Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) to divert attention from the violence and deceit in Afghanistan, reflected in thousands of U.S. Army documents, by shooting the messenger(s) — WikiLeaks and Pvt. Bradley Manning.
After all the indiscriminate death and destruction from nearly nine years of war, the hypocrisy is all too transparent when WikiLeaks and suspected leaker Manning are accused of risking lives by exposing too much truth. Besides, I still have a guilty conscience for what I chose NOT to do in exposing facts about the Vietnam War that might have saved lives.
The sad-but-true story recounted below is offered in the hope that those in similar circumstances today might show more courage than I was able to muster in 1967, and take full advantage of the incredible advancements in technology since then.
I have an all-too-distinct memory of a long silence over coffee, as each of us ruminated on what might be done. I recall thinking to myself; someone should take the Abrams cable down to the New York Times (at the time an independent-minded newspaper).
Clearly, the only reason for the cable’s SECRET/EYES ONLY classification was to hide deliberate deception of our most senior generals regarding “progress” in the war and deprive the American people of the chance to know the truth.
Going to the press was, of course, antithetical to the culture of secrecy in which we had been trained. Besides, you would likely be caught at your next polygraph examination. Better not to stick your neck out.
Better to keep quiet for now, grow in gravitas, and live on to slay other dragons. Right?
One can, I suppose, always find excuses for not sticking one’s neck out. The neck, after all, is a convenient connection between head and torso, albeit the “neck” that was the focus of my concern was a figurative one, suggesting possible loss of career, money and status – not the literal “necks” of both Americans and Vietnamese that were on the line daily in the war.
But if there is nothing for which you would risk your career “neck” – like, say, saving the lives of soldiers and civilians in a war zone – your “neck” has become your idol, and your career is not worthy of that. I now regret giving such worship to my own neck. Not only did I fail the neck test. I had not thought things through very rigorously from a moral point of view.
As a condition of employment, I had signed a promise not to divulge classified information so as not to endanger sources, methods or national security. Promises are important, and one should not lightly violate them.
It is not good to operate in a moral vacuum, oblivious to the reality that there exists a hierarchy of values and that circumstances often determine the morality of a course of action. How does a written promise to keep secret everything with a classified stamp on it square with one’s moral responsibility to stop a war based on lies? Does stopping a misbegotten war not supersede a secrecy promise?
Ethicists use the words “supervening value” for this; the concept makes sense to me. And is there yet another value?
And it’s not just the WikiLeaks documents that have caused consternation inside the U.S. government.
“WikiLeaks’s webpage constitutes a brazen solicitation to U.S. government officials, including our military, to break the law. WikiLeaks’s public assertion that submitting confidential material to WikiLeaks is safe, easy and protected by law is materially false and misleading. The Department of Defense therefore also demands that WikiLeaks discontinue any solicitation of this type.”
Rest assured that the Defense Department will do all it can to make it unsafe for any government official to provide WikiLeaks with sensitive material. But it is contending with a clever group of hi-tech experts who have built in precautions to allow information to be submitted anonymously. That the Pentagon will prevail anytime soon is far from certain.
Also, in a ludicrous attempt to close the barn door after tens of thousands of classified documents had already escaped, Morrell insisted that WikiLeaks give back all the documents and electronic media in its possession. Even the normally docile Pentagon press corps could not suppress a collective laugh, irritating the Pentagon spokesman no end. The impression gained was one of a Pentagon Gulliver tied down by terabytes of Lilliputians.
Meanwhile, this way of exposing information that people in a democracy should know will continue to be sorely tempting — and a lot easier than taking the risk of being photographed lunching with someone from the New York Times.
From what I have learned over these past 43 years, supervening moral values can, and should, trump lesser promises. Today, I would be determined to “do the right thing,” if I had access.
If the next president decides he wants to torture prisoners, all he needs is a stroke of his pen. We need legislation that will permanently and formally outlaw torture. Most Americans agree with using a drone to kill one of their fellow citizens if they have joined a terrorist association, according to a recent poll.
I think and I am not convinced the US is near its end. While I may say it is possiblle I see no evidence that we can not turn it around with the right leadership.