Friday, September 04, 2009

We Have met The Nazis, And They Are Us

CIA Atrocities Revealed to a National Shrug

We Have met The Nazis, And They Are Us

By Ted Rall

September 04, 2009 "
Information Clearing House" -- NEW YORK--Nazis. Americans are Nazis. We are Nazis.

Godwin's Law be damned--it's impossible to read the newly-released CIA report on the torture of Muslim prisoners without thinking of the Third Reich.

Sadism exists in every culture. A century ago, for example, Western adventurers who visited Tibet reported that the authorities in Lhasa, that supposed capital of pacifism, publicly gouged out criminals' eyes and yanked out their tongues. But Nazi atrocities were stylistically distinct from, say, the Turkish genocide of the Armenians or the Rwandan massacres of the early 1990s. German war crimes were characterized by methodical precision, the application of "rational" technology to increase efficiency, the veneer of legality and the perversion of medical science.

Nazi crimes were also marked by public indifference, which amounted to tacit support. Here and now, only 25 percent of Americans told the latest Pew Research poll that they believe torture is always wrong.

"The CIA's secret interrogation program operated under strict rules, and the rules were dictated from Washington with the painstaking, eye-glazing detail beloved by any bureaucracy," observed The New York Times. We have much in common with the Germans.

"In July 2002," the declassified report reveals, a CIA officer "reportedly used a 'pressure point' technique: with both of his hands on the detainee's neck, [he] manipulated his fingers to restrict the detainee's carotid artery." Another agent "watched his eyes to the point that the detainee would nod and start to pass out; then…shook the detainee to wake him. This process was repeated for a total of three applications on the detainee."
The CIA's rinse-lather-repeat approach to torture is reminiscent of Dr. Sigmund Rascher's experiments at Dachau and a parallel project conducted by the Japanese Imperial Army's infamous Unit 731 in occupied Manchuria in 1942-43. Rascher, who was tried for war crimes after World War II, froze or lashed detainees nearly to death, then revived them over and over. German and Japanese doctors developed detailed protocols governing the severity of exposure to which inmates could be subjected--protocols seized by U.S. occupation forces and turned over to the OSS, predecessor of the CIA.

So it was in the CIA's prisons at Guantánamo, Bagram, Diego Garcia, eastern Europe, Thailand and elsewhere.

(Or, to be more accurate, so it is. Bush publicly banned torture in 2006, but we know it was still going on as of 2007. Obama supposedly banned it again earlier this year, but then his CIA director Leon Panetta told Congress the agency reserves the right to keep doing it. Until the entire secret prison network is dismantled and every single prisoner released, it would be absurd to assume that torture is not continuing.)

Among the verbal treasures in the CIA papers is the "Water Dousing" section of the "Guidelines on Medical and Psychological Support to Detainee Rendition, Interrogation and Detention," which "allow for water to be applied using either a hose connected to tap water, or a bottle or similar container as the water source." Ah, the glorious war on terror. Detainees may be soaked in water as cold as 41 degrees Fahrenheit for as long as 20 minutes--no longer, no colder.

For the record, the CIA's medical expertise is about as reliable as its legal and moral sense. Forty-one degrees is bracingly cold; 41 was the temperature of the Hudson River was when US Airways Flight 1549 crashed into it earlier this year. (Remember the ice floes?) "Generally, a person can survive in 41-degree water for 10, 15 or 20 minutes," Dr. Christopher McStay, an emergency room physician at New York City's Bellevue Hospital told Scientific American magazine.

Like its Gestapo and SS antecedents, the CIA is highly bureaucratic. CIA employees were informed that "Advance Headquarters approval is required to use any physical pressures [against prisoners]." And those permissions came from the very top of the chain of command: the White House, which ordered the Office of Legal Counsel and other legal branches of the federal government to draft "CYA" memoranda. The memos, wrote Joshua L. Dratel in his introduction to "The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib," a compilation of memos authorizing torture of Muslim detainees reflect "a wholly result-oriented system in which policy makers start with an objective and work backward."

Also reminiscent of Nazism is the utter absence of firewalls that has come to characterize the behavior of top government officials. Totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany corrupt the judiciary by using the courts to carry out political policy. Beginning under Bush and now under Obama, judicial independence has been eradicated.

On August 28th The New York Times reported: "In July, Leon E. Panetta, the CIA director, tried to head off the investigation [of the CIA's torture program], administration officials said. He sent the CIA's top lawyer, Stephen W. Preston, to [the Department of] Justice to persuade aides to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to abandon any plans for an inquiry." There's a term for this: Obstruction of Justice. You're not supposed to try to influence the outcome of an investigation. It was count six of the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.

To Holder's credit, he has appointed a special prosecutor. To his discredit, the focus of the investigation is narrow: he will only go after officials who went beyond the Bush Administration's over-the-top torture directives (which allow, as seen above, freezing people to death). He does not plan to go after the worst criminals, who are the Bush Administration lawyers and officials, including Bush and Cheney themselves, who ordered the war crimes--much less those like Obama who are currently covering them up.

He should change his mind. While he's at it, he should throw Leon Panetta in jail.

Holder's brief currently involves just 20 cases, which include detainees who were murdered by the CIA. But even those will be tough to prosecute, reports The New York Times: "Evidence, witnesses and even the bodies of the victims of alleged abuses have not been found in all cases."

Because, you see, the bodies were burned and dumped.
They--the CIA--are Nazis for committing the crimes.

And we are Nazis for not giving a damn. Only a third of Americans told the April 27th CBS News/New York Times poll that there ought to be an investigation of Bush-era war crimes--and they don't care enough to march in the streets, much less break a few windows. So few of my columns on torture have been reprinted by American newspapers or websites that I seriously contemplated not bothering to write this one.

We have met the Nazis, and they are us.

Ted Rall, President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, is author of the books "To Afghanistan and Back" and "Silk Road to Ruin." Visit his website

Thursday, September 03, 2009

US Suspends some aid to Honduras as SOUTHCOM Commander confirms the plane that kidnapped Zelaya took off from the Soto Cano (US air base) in Honduras

US Suspends some aid to Honduras as SOUTHCOM Commander confirms the plane that kidnapped Zelaya took off from the Soto Cano (US air base) in Honduras

Today's press statementfrom the Department of State

"Termination of Assistance and Other Measures Affecting the De Facto Regime in Honduras

Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 3, 2009

The Department of State announces the termination of a broad range of assistance to the government of Honduras as a result of the coup d’etat that took place on June 28. The Secretary already had suspended assistance shortly after the coup.
The Secretary of State has made the decision, consistent with U.S. legislation, recognizing the need for strong measures in light of the continued resistance to the adoption of the San Jose Accord by the de facto regime and continuing failure to restore democratic, constitutional rule to Honduras.

The Department of State recognizes the complicated nature of the actions which led to June 28 coup d’etat in which Honduras’ democratically elected leader, President Zelaya, was removed from office. These events involve complex factual and legal questions and the participation of both the legislative and judicial branches of government as well as the military.

Restoration of the terminated assistance will be predicated upon a return to democratic, constitutional governance in Honduras.

The Department of State further announces that we have identified individual members and supporters of the de facto regime whose visas are in the process of being revoked.

A presidential election is currently scheduled for November. That election must be undertaken in a free, fair and transparent manner. It must also be free of taint and open to all Hondurans to exercise their democratic franchise. At this moment, we would not be able to support the outcome of the scheduled elections. A positive conclusion of the Arias process would provide a sound basis for legitimate elections to proceed. We strongly urge all parties to the San Jose talks to move expeditiously to agreement."

NOTE: Humanitarian aid from USAID still continues to Honduras - so does the aid to "promote democracy", ie fund political parties, groups and NGOs involved in executing the coup and consolidating the dictatorial regime. So, don't see this as any great advance. The National Endowment for Democracy funds via International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute remain in effect and continue to those political groups that have publicly backed the coup regime. Same goes for the large majority (approximately 80%) of USAID funds to Honduras. So, really the DOS decision does not affect most of the funding to political groups in Honduras that promoted the coup.

Ironically, the US seems to be "coming clean" in its own manipulative way regarding the coup in Honduras. SOUTHCOM Commander, General Douglas Fraser, confirmed today what many of us suspected from day one of the coup, that the airplane that forced President Zelaya into exile after kidnapping him violently on June 28th from his residence, actually took off for Costa Rica from the Soto Cano (Palmerola) military base, which has been occupied and run by the Pentagon since 1954 (actively since the early 1980s). Here is a link to an article translated (not perfectly) into English. Strangely, not much English-language press is reporting this most important detail regarding the Honduran coup, which clearly shows US involvement and lying. Up until now the Pentagon had denied the Honduran president's airplane had landed at the Soto Cano (Palmerola) base...

For those who didn't believe in the beginning that the US had a major hand in the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras, the pieces are coming together now, from the belly of the beast.

The Unnecessary Death of My Aunt, Hazel by Cynthia McKinney

The Unnecessary Death of My Aunt, Hazel
by Cynthia McKinney
The author is a former U.S. Representative from Georgia and 2008 Green Party candidate for President of the United States.
My aunt, while still in intensive care, was forced to be transferred to the hospital that had, in my opinion, committed a capital crime.”
I never want you to take the journey that I'm currently on. So, I want to tell you about it.
It starts on the front of the refrigerator. "The Healthiest Foods on Earth." A two-page primer from apple to watermelon, touting immunity to male fertility support. Inside the refrigerator, natural and organic foods only. On the countertop is the Jack LaLanne juicer, the Magic Bullet, the handy food chopper plus, the food saver vacuum sealer--all items familiar to us because they are constantly hawked on the midnight cable channels. Hanging from the kitchen cabinet door are plastic bags for recycling: one for plastics, the other for aluminum cans. The house and car are filled with reusable shopping bags made of recycled materials. By the way, a new car was in the works, and not because of the cash for clunkers program of the Federal Government. An American-made hybrid was preferred--keeping U.S. workers working. In the back seat of her Ford Focus is a booklet, "Living in a Healthy Body: A New Look at Health & Weight." What I'm trying to describe is someone working very hard at changing a typically indulgent "American" lifestyle into one more respectful and healthy for the body, healthy for our earth.
So, in an act of preventive medical care, my aunt Hazel went to the doctor to have a colonoscopy. We are all bombarded with television commercials advising us to have a colonoscopy. I know in the black media, those ads abound. And so, dutifully, my aunt abided by those suggestions for healthy choices and had her first colonoscopy. What the family knows is that her colon was perforated. That's when our journey took us on a wrong turn.
“My aunt abided by suggestions for healthy choices and had her first colonoscopy.”
Unfortunately, the facility that performed the colonoscopy had told my aunt not to call before the results were published and that would take up to two weeks!!! When my aunt called them because she was feeling so bad, they told her that she'd be ok overnight and that they would call her in the morning. The hospital told my aunt to go to sleep overnight and they'd call her back in the morning. But my aunt-tee continued to deteriorate so badly that her daughter called 9-1-1 and by the morning, my aunt-tee was already in surgery at another hospital that was not too busy to care for her. This is when the perforation was discovered and repaired.
While my aunt was recovering in the second hospital, in intensive care, a letter was sent from the hospital where the colonoscopy was performed stating that they were the insured's provider and that the hospital performing the emergency surgery would not get paid. The hospital performing the colonoscopy demanded my aunt-tee back. So, against the desires of the hospital providing the emergency surgery, my aunt, while still in intensive care, was forced to be transferred to the hospital that had, in my opinion, committed a capital crime.
My aunt-tee deteriorated after the transfer, but fought like heck to live. Unfortunately, her body had been so poisoned by the doctor's failure to recognize that he had perforated her colon that her body became toxic. The third affront to my aunt-tee's health and life occurred when morphine was administered, ostensibly for pain and gave her such a blow to her vital statistics that the family objected to a second administration of morphine. But guess what!!! She was given morphine again, despite her children's complaints!!!! My aunt never recovered from that.
My aunt, a divorced mother of two, struggled to live righteously. Those of you in southern California know that she accompanied me almost everywhere I went. She was a hard-working woman, a proud homeowner in Watts, a student working on her Social Work degree, finally able to achieve her dreams after deferring them for so long in order to help her children realize theirs. She also took to the campaign trail too many times, traveling to Georgia to help my father and me realize ours. I can't even believe that she's gone--through no fault of her own--and I'm still wondering how the heck my aunt ended up in this place despite all the care she took of herself. This is unfathomable to me. And sadly, too many families are arriving at this same place. Iraqi families devastated by U.S. occupation; Afghani families devastated by U.S. war; U.S. families also devastated by U.S. policy makers. Why?
“Her body had been so poisoned by the doctor's failure to recognize that he had perforated her colon that her body became toxic.”
For the last four years, I've spouted off the racial quality-of-life disparities that exist in our country. I've said it so much, it's as if no one heard me. Because even during my tenure in Congress, I gave floor speeches, but the policy change never came. I spoke at banquets and conventions about it, but the policy changes never came. Two steps forward always seemed to end with one step backward. If we got the money appropriated, in too many instances, black institutions couldn't be in charge of it, so only a trickle at best reached the community. I found that the "plantation" was alive and well in patterns of federal spending. So when Dr. David Satcher, President Clinton's Surgeon General, found in a 2005 study that over 83,000 blacks die unnecessary and premature deaths each year due to their treatment after they arrive in a doctor's office, among other factors, I added that datum to my panoply of quality-of-life stats. And now, my aunt factors in Dr. Satcher's numbers.
I have seen such betrayal and lack of principle in the current "health care" debate, I had no intention of getting into it. In our Power to the People campaign, I wrote a platform that included policy recommendations to eliminate all disparities still extant in our society, including for health care. A single-payer system is so obviously needed, it should be too politically costly for our Democratic majority in the Congress and our Democratic White House to do anything else. I recommended an end to war. I advocated public ownership of the Federal Reserve. I even anticipated the skullduggery of the bailouts and recommended that if the "powers that be" were intent on forcing Congress to give these bailouts to institutions that conducted what I would call criminal behavior, then at a minimum, a credible person like David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller, should audit all corporations and institutions receiving such funds. I suggested that Senator Obama use the power of his Senatorial pen to amend the bailout legislation to this effect. It didn't happen.
'I'm still wondering how the heck my aunt ended up in this place despite all the care she took of herself.”
My aunt-tee had a policy of rarely voting for an incumbent. She understood that just as she was trying to change herself into a lifestyle that she could believe in, she wasn't going to get political, social, and economic change that she could believe in by voting like everyone else, for the same special interest candidates. Once she decided that it was necessary to step outside of the box of political conformity, she discovered that there were Independent, Green Party, Libertarian, and other political party candidates on her ballot that she had long ignored. She began to listen to them and learned to explore the totality of her options. It was glorious to watch my aunt-tee's liberation.
So why is she in the morgue now?
Not enough people took that journey with her. Not enough people saw her example. Not enough was done to change policy. At a time when the policy makers have never been so divorced from the reality borne by the average citizens that they govern, the American people have shown an amazing ability to accept graft, corruption, death, and destruction while continuing to believe that hope alone can produce real change. Why did Cindy Sheehan protest without thousands in front of President Obama's $50,000 a week vacation home?
“Over 83,000 blacks die unnecessary and premature deaths each year due to their treatment after they arrive in a doctor's office.”
I've tried to walk my talk. Just last week it came out that one "journalist" who called for my lynching was on the FBI payroll at the time of his comment. He claims to have been paid to say provocative things. I've withstood a lot--for the people. But now, I really don't know how much more walking or talking I'm able to do. I just wonder, how many more will have to experience this before more people write their own Declarations of Independence from this political disorder.

The phone just rang and it was the hospital that performed the botched colonoscopy on my aunt, that ignored her call for help, that demanded that she be transferred while she was in intensive care, that administered morphine twice, despite objections from the family and from which her vitals never recovered. They wanted to know how my aunt would rate their service. I told them poor on every count.
Thank you for reading this with empathy and I thank you all for your support. I apologize for any appointments that I've missed while I've been on the road to this place I'm in now.

Ms. McKinney can be contacted at hg2600(at)

Living in a Culture of Cruelty: Democracy as Spectacle

by: Henry A. Giroux, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Right-wing commentator Glenn Beck. (Photo: The New York Times)

Under the Bush administration, a seeping, sometimes galloping, authoritarianism began to reach into every vestige of the culture, giving free rein to those anti-democratic forces in which religious, market, military and political fundamentalism thrived, casting an ominous shadow over the fate of United States democracy. During the Bush-Cheney regime, power became an instrument of retribution and punishment was connected to and fueled by a repressive state. A bullying rhetoric of war, a ruthless consolidation of economic forces, and an all-embracing free-market apparatus and media driven pedagogy of fear supported and sustained a distinct culture of cruelty and inequality in the United States. In pointing to a culture of cruelty, I am not employing a form of left moralism that collapses matters of power and politics into the discourse of character. On the contrary, I think the notion of a culture of cruelty is useful in thinking through the convergence of everyday life and politics, of considering material relations of power - the disciplining of the body as an object of control - on the one hand, and the production of cultural meaning, especially the co-optation of popular culture to sanction official violence, on the other. The culture of cruelty is important for thinking through how life and death now converge in ways that fundamentally transform how we understand and imagine politics in the current historical moment - a moment when the most vital of safety nets, health care reform, is being undermined by right-wing ideologues. What is it about a culture of cruelty that provides the conditions for many Americans to believe that government is the enemy of health care reform and health care reform should be turned over to corporate and market-driven interests, further depriving millions of an essential right?

Increasingly, many individuals and groups now find themselves living in a society that measures the worth of human life in terms of cost-benefit analyzes. The central issue of life and politics is no longer about working to get ahead, but struggling simply to survive. And many groups, who are considered marginal because they are poor, unemployed, people of color, elderly or young, have not just been excluded from "the American dream," but have become utterly redundant and disposable, waste products of a society that not longer considers them of any value. How else to explain the zealousness in which social safety nets have been dismantled, the transition from welfare to workfare (offering little job training programs and no child care), and recent acrimony over health care reform's public option? What accounts for the passage of laws that criminalize the behavior of the 1.2 million homeless in the United States, often defining sleeping, sitting, soliciting, lying down or loitering in public places as a criminal offence rather than a behavior in need of compassionate good will and public assistance? Or, for that matter, the expulsions, suspensions, segregation, class discrimination and racism in the public schools as well as the more severe beatings, broken bones and damaged lives endured by young people in the juvenile justice system? Within these politics, largely fueled by market fundamentalism - one that substitutes the power of the social state with the power of the corporate state and only values wealth, money and consumers - there is a ruthless and hidden dimension of cruelty, one in which the powers of life and death are increasingly determined by punishing apparatuses, such as the criminal justice system for poor people of color and/or market forces that increasingly decide who may live and who may die.

The growing dominance of a right-wing media forged in a pedagogy of hate has become a crucial element providing numerous platforms for a culture of cruelty and is fundamental to how we understand the role of education in a range of sites outside of traditional forms of schooling. This educational apparatus and mode of public pedagogy is central to analyzing not just how power is exercised, rewarded and contested in a growing culture of cruelty, but also how particular identities, desires and needs are mobilized in support of an overt racism, hostility towards immigrants and utter disdain, coupled with the threat of mob violence toward any political figure supportive of the social contract and the welfare state. Citizens are increasingly constructed through a language of contempt for all noncommercial public spheres and a chilling indifference to the plight of others that is increasingly expressed in vicious tirades against big government and health care reform. There is a growing element of scorn on the part of the American public for those human beings caught in the web of misfortune, human suffering, dependency and deprivation. As Barbara Ehrenreich observes, "The pattern is to curtail financing for services that might help the poor while ramping up law enforcement: starve school and public transportation budgets, then make truancy illegal. Shut down public housing, then make it a crime to be homeless. Be sure to harass street vendors when there are few other opportunities for employment. The experience of the poor, and especially poor minorities, comes to resemble that of a rat in a cage scrambling to avoid erratically administered electric shocks." [1]

A right-wing spin machine, influenced by haters like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and Ann Coulter, endlessly spews out a toxic rhetoric in which: all Muslims are defined as jihadists; the homeless are not victims of misfortune but lazy; blacks are not terrorized by a racist criminal justice system, but the main architects of a culture of criminality; the epidemic of obesity has nothing to do with corporations, big agriculture and advertisers selling junk food, but rather the result of "big" government giving people food stamps; the public sphere is largely for white people, which is being threatened by immigrants and people of color, and so it goes. Glenn Beck, the alleged voice of the common man, appearing on the "Fox & Friends" morning show, calls President Obama a "racist" and then accuses him of "having a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." [2] Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh unapologetically states that James Early Ray, the confessed killer of Martin Luther King Jr., should be given a posthumous Medal of Honor, [3] while his counterpart in right-wing hate, talk radio host Michael Savage, states on his show, "You know, when I see a woman walking around with a burqa, I see a Nazi. That's what I see - how do you like that? - a hateful Nazi who would like to cut your throat and kill your children." [4] He also claims that Obama is "surrounded by terrorists" and is "raping America." This is a variation of a crude theme established by Ann Coulter, who refers to Bill Clinton as a "very good rapist." [5] Even worse, Obama is a "neo-Marxist fascist dictator in the making," who plans to "force children into a paramilitary domestic army." [6] And this is just a small sampling of the kind of hate talk that permeates right-wing media. This could be dismissed as loony right-wing political theater if it were not for the low levels of civic literacy displayed by so many Americans who choose to believe and invest in this type of hate talk. [7] On the contrary, while it may be idiocy, it reveals a powerful set of political, economic and educational forces at work in miseducating the American public while at the same time extending the culture of cruelty. One central task of any viable form of politics is to analyze the culture of cruelty and its overt and covert dimensions of violence, often parading as entertainment.

Underlying the culture of cruelty that reached its apogee during the Bush administration, was the legalization of state violence, such that human suffering was now sanctioned by the law, which no longer served as a summons to justice. But if a legal culture emerged that made violence and human suffering socially acceptable, popular culture rendered such violence pleasurable by commodifying, aestheticizing and spectacularizing it. Rather than being unspoken and unseen, violence in American life had become both visible in its pervasiveness and normalized as a central feature of dominant and popular culture. Americans had grown accustomed to luxuriating in a warm bath of cinematic blood, as young people and adults alike were seduced with commercial and military video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "America's Army," [8] the television series "24" and its ongoing Bacchanalian fête of torture, the crude violence on display in World Wrestling Entertainment and Ultimate Fighting Championship, and an endless series of vigilante films such as "The Brave One" (2007) and "Death Sentence" (2007), in which the rule of law is suspended by the viscerally satisfying images of men and women seeking revenge as laudable killing machines - a nod to the permanent state of emergency and war in the United States. Symptomatically, there is the mindless glorification and aestheticization of brutal violence in the most celebrated Hollywood films, including many of Quentin Tarantino's films, especially the recent "Death Proof" (2007), "Kill Bill" 1 & 2 (2003, 2004), and "Inglorious Bastards" (2009). With the release of Tarantino's 2009 bloody war film, in fact, the press reported that Dianne Kruger, the co-star of "Inglorious Bastards," claimed that she "loved being tortured by Brad Pitt [though] she was frustrated she didn't get an opportunity to get frisky with her co-star, but admits being beaten by Pitt was a satisfying experience." [9] This is more than the aestheticization of violence, it is the normalization and glorification of torture itself.

If Hollywood has made gratuitous violence the main staple of its endless parade of blockbuster films, television has tapped into the culture of cruelty in a way that was unimaginable before the attack on the US on September 11. Prime-time television before the attacks had "fewer than four acts of torture" per year, but "now there are more than a hundred." [10] Moreover, the people who torture are no longer the villains, but the heroes of prime-time television. The most celebrated is, of course, Jack Bauer, the tragic-ethical hero of the wildly popular Fox TV thriller "24." Not only is torture the main thread of the plot, often presented "with gusto and no moral compunction," [11] but Bauer is portrayed as a patriot, rather than a depraved monster, who tortures in order to protect American lives and national security. Torture, in this scenario, takes society's ultimate betrayal of human dignity and legitimates the pain and fear it produces as normal, all the while making a "moral sadist" a television celebrity. [12] The show has over 15 million viewers, and its glamorization of torture has proven so successful that it appears to have not only numbed the public's reaction to the horrors of torture, but it is so overwhelmingly influential among the US military that the Pentagon sent Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan to California to meet with the producers of the show. "He told them that promoting illegal behavior in the series ... was having a damaging effect on young troops." [13] The pornographic glorification of gratuitous, sadistic violence is also on full display in the popular HBO television series "Dexter," which portrays a serial killer as a sympathetic, even lovable, character. Visual spectacles steeped in degradation and violence permeate the culture and can be found in various reality TV shows, professional wrestling and the infamous Jerry Springer Show. These programs all trade in fantasy, glamorized violence and escapism. And they share similar values. As Chris Hedges points out in his analysis of professional wrestling, they all mirror the worse dimensions of an unchecked and unregulated market society in which "winning is all that matters. Morality is irrelevant.... It is all about personal pain, vendettas, hedonism and fantasies of revenge, while inflicting pain on others. It is the cult of victimhood." [14]

The celebration of hyper-violence, moral sadism and torture travels easily from fiction to real life with the emergence in the past few years of a proliferation of "bum fight" videos on the Internet, "shot by young men and boys who are seen beating the homeless or who pay transients a few dollars to fight each other." [15] The culture of cruelty mimics cinematic violence as the agents of abuse both indulge in actual forms of violence and then further celebrate the barbarity by posting it on the web, mimicking the desire for fame and recognition, while voyeuristically consuming their own violent cultural productions. The National Coalition for the Homeless claims that "On YouTube in July 2009, people have posted 85,900 videos with 'bum' in the title [and] 5,690 videos can be found with the title 'bum fight,' representing ... an increase of 1,460 videos since April 2008." [16] Rather than problematize violence, popular culture increasingly normalizes it, often in ways that border on criminal intent. For instance, a recent issue of Maxim, a popular men's magazine, included "a blurb titled 'Hunt the Homeless' [focusing on] a coming 'hobo convention' in Iowa and says 'Kill one for fun. We're 87 percent sure it's legal.'" [17] In this context, violence is not simply being transformed into an utterly distasteful form of adolescent entertainment or spectacularized to attract readers and boost profits, it becomes a powerful pedagogical force in the culture of cruelty by both aligning itself and becoming complicit with the very real surge of violence against the homeless, often committed by young men and teenage boys looking for a thrill. Spurred on by the ever reassuring presence of violence and dehumanization in the wider culture, these young "thrill offenders" now search out the homeless and "punch, kick, shoot or set afire people living on the streets, frequently killing them, simply for the sport of it, their victims all but invisible to society." [19] All of these elements of popular culture speak stylishly and sadistically to new ways in which to maximize the pleasure of violence, giving it its hip (if fascist) edginess.

Needless to say, neither violent video games and television series nor Hollywood films and the Internet (or for that matter popular culture) cause in any direct sense real world violence and suffering, but they do not leave the real world behind either. That is too simplistic. What they do achieve is the execution of a well-funded and highly seductive public pedagogical enterprise that sexualizes and stylizes representations of violence, investing them with an intense pleasure quotient. I don't believe it is an exaggeration to claim that the violence of screen culture entertains and cleanses young people of the burden of ethical considerations when they, for instance, play video games that enabled them to "casually kill the simulated human beings whose world they control." [20] Hollywood films such as the "Saw" series offer up a form of torture porn in which the spectacle of the violence enhances not merely its attraction, but offers young viewers a space where questions of ethics and responsibility are gleefully suspended, enabling them to evade their complicity in a culture of cruelty. No warnings appear on the labels of these violent videos and films, suggesting that the line between catharsis and desensitization may become blurred, making it more difficult for them to raise questions about what it means "to live in a society that produces, markets, and supports such products." [21] But these hyper-violent cultural products also form part of a corrupt pedagogical assemblage that makes it all the more difficult to recognize the hard realities of power and material violence at work through militarism, a winner-take-all economy marked by punishing inequalities and a national security state that exhibits an utter disregard for human suffering. Even the suffering of children, we must note, as when government officials reduce the lives of babies and young children lost in Iraq and Afghanistan to collateral damage. Tragically, the crime here is much more than symbolic.

The ideology of hardness and cruelty runs through American culture like an electric current, sapping the strength of social relations and individual character, moral compassion and collective action, offering up crimes against humanity that become fodder for video games and spectacularized media infotainment, and constructing a culture of cruelty that promotes a "symbiosis of suffering and spectacle." [22] As Chris Hedges argues,

Sadism is as much a part of popular culture as it is of corporate culture. It dominates pornography, runs ... through reality television and trash-talk programs and is at the core of the compliant, corporate collective. Corporatism is about crushing the capacity for moral choice. And it has its logical fruition in Abu Ghraib, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our lack of compassion for the homeless, our poor, the mentally ill, the unemployed and the sick. [23]

Bailouts are not going to address the ways in which individual desires, values and identities are endlessly produced in the service of a culture of cruelty and inequality. Power is not merely material, it is also symbolic and is distributed through a society in ways we have never seen before. No longer is education about schooling. It now functions through the educational force of the larger culture in the media, Internet, electronic media and through a wide range of technologies and sites endlessly working to undo democratic values, compassion and any viable notion of justice and its accompanying social relations. What this suggests is a redefinition of both literacy and education. We need, as a society, to educate students and others to be literate in multiple ways, to reclaim the high ground of civic courage, and to be able to name, engage and transform those forms of public pedagogy that produce hate and cruelty as part of the discourse of common sense. Otherwise, democracy will lose the supportive institutions, social relations and culture that make it not only possible but even thinkable.



[1] Barbara Ehrenreich, "Is It now a Crime to Be Poor?," New York Times (August 9, 2009), p. wk9.

[2] David Bauder, "Fox's Glenn Beck: President Obama is a Racist," Associated Press (July 28, 2009).
Online at:

[3] Limbaugh cited in Casey Gane-McCalla, "Top 10 Racist Limbaugh Quotes," NewsOne (October 20, 2008).
Online at:

[4] Savage quoted in Thinkers and Jokers (July 2, 2007).
Online at:

[5] Coulter quoted in Don Hazen, "The Tall Blonde Woman in the Short Skirt With the Big Mouth," AlterNet (June 6, 2006).
Online at:

[6] These quotes are taken from an excellent article by Eric Boehlert in which he criticizes the soft peddling that many in the press give to right-wing fanatics such as Michael Savage. See Eric Boehlert, "The New Yorker raises a toast to birther nut Michael Savage," Media Matters for America (August 3, 2009).
Online at:

[7] See Chris Hedges, "America the Illiterate," CommonDreams (November 10, 2008).
Online at:

Terrence McNally, "How Anti-Intellectualism Is Destroying America," AlterNet (August 15, 2008).
Online at:

[8] For an excellent collection on military video games, see Nina B. Huntemann and Matthew Thomas Payne, eds. "Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games" (New York: Routledge, 2010).

[9] Arts and Entertainment, "Torture Will Just Have to Do," The Hamilton Spectator (August 12, 2009), p. Go 3.

[10] Jane Mayer, "Whatever It Takes: The Politics of the Man Behind 24," The New Yorker (February 26, 2007), p. 68.

[11] Alessandra Stanley, "Suicide Bombers Strike, and America Is in Turmoil. Just Another Day in the Life of Jack Bauer," New York Times (January 12, 2007), p. B1.

[12] See Judith Butler, "Frames of War." Also, Slavoj Zizek, "The Depraved Heroes of 24 are the Himmlers of Hollywood," The Guardian (January 10, 2006).
Online at:

[13] Faiz Shaker, "US Military: Television Series '24' is Promoting Torture in the Ranks," Think Progress (February 3, 2007).
Online at:

[14] Chris Hedges, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (New York: Knopf Canada, 2009). p. 10.

[15] Eric Lichtblau, "Attacks on Homeless Bring Push on Hate Crime Laws," New York Times (August 8, 2009), p. A1.

[16] National Coalition of the Homeless, "Hate, Violence, and Death on Main Street," 2008, (Washington, DC, National Coalition of the Homeless, 2009).
Online at:, p. 34.

[17] Ibid., Eric Lichtblau, "Attacks on Homeless Bring Push on Hate Crime Laws."

[18] National Coalition of the Homeless, "Hate, Violence, and Death on Main Street," 2008, (Washington, D. C., National Coalition of the Homeless, 2009).
Online at:

[19] Ibid., Eric Lichtblau, "Attacks on Homeless Bring Push on Hate Crime Laws."

[20] Mark Slouka, "Dehumanized: When Math and Science Rule the School," Harper's Magazine (September 5, 2009), p. 40.

[21] Ibid., Mark Slouka, "Dehumanized," p. 40.

[22] Mark Reinhardt and Holly Edwards, "Traffic in Pain," in "Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain," ed. Mark Reinhardt, Holly Edwards, and Erina Duganne (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), p.9.

[23] Chris Hedges, "America Is in Need of Moral Bailout," Truthdig (March 23, 2009).
Online at:


Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. Related work: Henry A. Giroux, "The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence" (Lanham: Rowman and Lilttlefield, 2001). His most recent books include "Take Back Higher Education" (co-authored with Susan Searls Giroux, 2006), "The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex" (2007) and "Against the Terror of Neoliberalism: Politics Beyond the Age of Greed" (2008). His newest book, "Youth in a Suspect Society: Beyond the Politics of Disposability," will be published by Palgrave Mcmillan in 2009.

Blackwater suspected of being in Pakistan

The mercenary private security contractor once known as Blackwater and now called Xe Services LLC is being reported in the Pakistani press as being seen with "other suspicious foreigners" in Peshawar and other parts of Pakistan. A report today in Pakistan's "The News," states that foreigners have been seen in the area around University Town in Peshawar and have been renting residences in the area. One local resident stated; "What we have been hearing about the presence of Blackwater or other suspicious foreigners in Peshawar and Pakistan is alarming."

The report of Blackwater in Pakistan follows reports by Spiegel and WMR about the firm's presence in the Philippines at the former U.S. naval base at Subic Bay. A report in today's Philippines Inquirer states that the issue of Blackwater/Xe has now become a major political headache for the Philippines government. The report states: "Party list lawmakers want an investigation into reports US military contractor Blackwater (now Xe Services LLC) is training mercenaries at the Subic Bay free port in Olongapo City. In filing House Resolution 1380, Bayan Muna party list Representatives Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño and Neri Colmenares asked the committee on national defense and security to lead the inquiry."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has extended Xe's (Blackwater's) aviation services contract, through its Presidential Airways subsidiary, in Iraq. After lurid tales of a "man camp" and women and child prostitution in Iraq were revealed by two ex-Blackwater employees in a federal court deposition in the United States, another private security firm, Armor Group North America, owned by Wackenhut, has been tainted by allegations of bizarre sexual practices among its security force assigned to guard the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The practices, according to the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) in a story broken by, included U.S. private mercenaries urinating on one another, drinking shots of vodka poured down the ass cheeks of other men, eating potato chips from the ass cracks of other men, and engaging in simulated anal sex. The use of prostitutes was also reported at the Armor Group residential compound in Kabul. WMR previously reported that private security companies in Kabul were regularly using prostitutes from China.

On June 12, 2009, WMR reported that one security firm was involved in hiring Chinese prostitutes who doubled as unwilling Chinese intelligence agents: "The Chinese prostitute agents are only given food, a small room, clothes, and cosmetics. Women who decide to leave the employment of the restaurants often simply "disappear" with a cover story in Kabul that they returned to China. There are suspicions among those who have tried to help the women that they are killed by the local Kabul mafia, which is made up of Afghan police and foreign civilian contractors. One young Chinese woman who worked at the Shanghai restaurant in Kabul turned up missing after she took a job at the British army base at Camp Sutra on Jalalabad Road in Kabul. The British embassy refused to get involved in tracking down the woman on behalf of her distraught family in Shanghai."

One of the attractions that has possibly lured Blackwater/Xe into the Philippines and, particularly Olongapo City, the site of the old Subic Bay naval base, is the long history that the town has in "servicing" American military personnel with prostitutes. Previous attempts to lure Taiwanese, Russians, South Koreans, and others to the port complex were met with disdain by the local population, because they were considered "too cheap" when compared to the heyday of the American military presence.

A “indústria da paz” no Oriente Médio

Lejeune Mirhan *

Antes de mais nada, quero dizer que esse título acima não me pertence. É de autoria de um jovem estudante palestino chamado Faris Giacaman, que mora na Cisjordânia, mas estuda em universidade nos Estados Unidos. Trata da questão da paz sob outro aspecto. Queria compartilhar com meus leitores, alguns aspectos da questão que ele levanta.

Norman FinkelsteinÉ possível a “coexistência” pacífica?

Faris inicia relatando que, ao se apresentar para seus colegas americanos e outras nacionalidades como palestino, as pessoas vão logo dizendo que sempre participam de atividades que promovem o “diálogo” e a “coexistência” entre “os dois lados do conflito”. Sobre isso, que a seguir publicar alguns trechos que destaquei como mais importantes em seu artigo:

• O autor defende como única solução para que o governo de Israel, qualquer que seja ele, mude sua postura para com os palestinos e aceitem as propostas de uma paz justa, que se realizem campanhas de boicote, desinvestimentos e sanções, cuja sigla mundialmente é conhecida como BDS;

(Foto: Norman Finkelstein, um dos mais
combativos escritores judeus a
favor dos palestinos)

• Para o jovem estudante, é uma grande perda de tempo, uma falácia, essas organizações que promovem encontros entre as “partes no conflito” Israel e Palestina, como se as coisas ocorressem em pé de igualdade e que os contendores desse conflito fossem da mesma capacidade bélica e organizativa (um dos exemplos que ele menciona é um campo onde crianças e adolescentes participam de atividades em favor da paz, um “diálogo” construtivo; podem ser assistidos no endereço;

• A maioria das pessoas tem a ilusão que o “diálogo” e a “coexistência” têm maior efeito para produzir, segundo o autor, uma solução de paz do que os boicotes, desinvestimentos e sanções;

• Ela usa o termo “uma indústria da paz”, que vem ampliando sua atuação desde os acordos de Oslo de 1993, assinados pela OLP, de Arafat, e pelo governo de Rabin, em Israel; pura ilusão;

• Fala-se em “construir pontes” e “ultrapassar barreiras”, mencionando sempre “os dois lados do conflito”, como se ambos os lados fossem duas partes em mesmas condições de combater, sem falar na completa desigualdade existente na correlação de forçar, em especial no campo militar;

• A maior ilusão apontada pelo autor, quando se fala em “duas partes”, “dois lados” parte-se do princípio ou da ideia de ambos os lados cometeram mais ou menos o mesmo número de crimes, são mais ou menos iguais na sua conduta, que não há muita diferença entre o que eles fazem. De fato, no Brasil, por exemplo, canais de TV quando o assunto é a anistia parcial de 1979, falam que “os dois lados cometeram crimes”. Como é possível comparar e taxar de criminoso quem se levantou para defender a liberdade, a democracia e a constituição e o governo constitucional de 1964 de João Goulart? Ora, criminosos foram os que rasgaram a constituição, derrubaram o governo, prenderam, torturaram, mataram, exilaram e cassaram lideranças políticas e sindicais. Colocar em igualdade essas duas “partes” é erros grave e tem objetivo político claro quem os comete; não é só ingenuidade;

• Assumem que também “nenhum dos lados esta completamente certa e completamente errado”. Sobre isso, circulou pela Net uma apresentação bem feita que mostra os tais “dois lados”, mas em uma versão completamente pró-Israel. Iludiu muita gente em janeiro quando Israel bombardeava a Faixa de Gaza;

• Usa-se muito a palavra “conflito”. Até essa palavra é profundamente enganosa, pois implica em uma análise onde a disputa seria travada entre duas partes iguais, simétricas. Mas, não é isso que ocorre. De um lado o quarto maior e mais poderoso exército da terra em poder bélico e de outro, pequenos fuzis kalishnikov, foguetes e morteiros da época da guerra fria, como os Katyuchas soviéticos (quase que uma bomba caseira capaz de produzir apenas sustos nos israelenses) e pedras e fundas, disparadas por crianças e jovens, na sua campanha chamada Intifada “Levante”, em árabe);

• O autor afirma o que temos afirmado neste espaço há anos: a realidade na Palestina é de um projeto de colonização, colonialismo, de discriminação étnica profunda como se vivêssemos um tipo de Apartheid; uma situação típica onde de um lado existe um opressor e de outro os oprimidos;

• Em todos os casos da história onde são registrados casos de colonialismo e discriminação do tipo Apartheid, a mesma história registra que os donos do poder, os opressores, os que colonizam e discriminam, nunca abandoam o poder sem luta e sem resistência popular ou mesmo pressão internacional direta; resistirão ao máximo, até o fim as concessões, o recuo;

• Há uma comparação muito bem feita com a tática de Mahatma Ghandi na Índia para enfrentar os colonizadores britânicos. Ghandi defendeu a satyagraha”, que quer dizer “ater-se firmemente à verdade”. Essa foi a sua arma para se fazer respeitado, para o seu movimento pela resistência não violenta. Se tivesse seguido o caminho do “diálogo” com os colonialistas britânicos se desmoralizaria;

• Claro, é verdade que tanto na África do Sul como na Índia, alguns brancos e britânicos ficaram ao lado dos negros e dos indianos, colocando-se contra os opressores. Mas, a diferença é que eles se posicionaram de forma explícita contra a opressão, contra a colonização, contra todas as injustiças perpetradas pelos opressores;

• Aqui cito uma frase literal de Faris que reflete, em meu modo de ver, a síntese de seu pensamento: “Qualquer reunião conjunta de ambas as partes, portanto, só pode ser moralmente são quando os cidadãos do estado opressor posicionam-se em solidariedade aos membros do grupo oprimido, não sob a bandeira do ‘diálogo’ com o objetivo de ‘entender o outro lado da história’”;

• Permita-me dar alguns exemplos de cidadãos israelenses que, ao que sei, tem esse posicionamento. Entre eles estão Ury Avnery (escritor), Ilan Pappé (historiador), Gideon Levy (jornalista), Norman Finkelstein (historiador). Sou leitor assíduo de tudo que esses israelenses escrevem. Eles somam suas vozes com as do povo palestino;

• O autor demonstra, com números, quanto que foi investido por fundações e ONGs americanas, “preocupadas” com a paz entre palestinos e israelenses desde 1993. Milhões e milhões de dólares. Tudo a fundo perdido e sem sentido algum. Buscam a coexistência pacífica. Em todos os grupos de “diálogo” não esta presente, em nenhum momento, o reconhecimento do caráter agressivo e opressor do Estado judeu e, mais importante, seu caráter racista e discriminador; isso passa ao largo dos tais “diálogos”;

• O autor conclui que mesma a campanha de boicote acadêmico e cultural deve ser observada. Deve-se aceitar apenas e tão somente atividades conjuntas, de cinema, por exemplo, quando o objetivo final for explícito de protestar contra a exploração e opressão dos palestinos;

• Qualquer israelense que procure interagir com palestinos para lhes prestar solidariedade total, condenar os métodos brutais de Israel e sua opressão, que ajude a acabar de vez com a opressão e a exploração, será sempre bem vindo e ajudará a luta dos palestinos;

• Qualquer apelo a um “diálogo” vago, dito “equilibrado”, onde o lema é “há sempre dois lados em toda a história” é intelectual e moralmente desonesto, enganoso e acaba por fazer o jogo dos opressores.


O artigo de Faris pode parecer sectário, avesso ao diálogo. Mas não é. Ele tem profunda razão. Negociar é uma coisa e isso deve ser feito pelos líderes de ambos os lados, acompanhados por entidades e organismos internacionais. Mas o tal “diálogo” direto entre palestinos e judeus, para que se mostre sempre “as duas partes do conflito de forma equilibrada”, é apoiar uma versão falsa da realidade e da história.

Somos a favor do diálogo franco. Mas, somos a favor da luta em solidariedade ao povo palestino, sofrido e oprimido, vilipendiado em seus direitos históricos, roubados em suas terras. De um lado, um povo sofrido, oprimido, discriminado, onde se ganham salários para mesmas funções até menos da metade que os judeus recebem. Nunca, em são consciência, sem correr o risco de fazer o jogo do inimigo, devemos pensar em “equilíbrio”, em “igualdade de condições”, em “partes simétricas no conflito”.

Não há duas partes iguais nessa luta. Os palestinos, apesar da opressão, apesar da diferença de força militar, acabarão vencendo, pois a história está com eles e a solidariedade dos povos que lutam em todo o mundo também estão ao seu lado.

* Presidente do Sindicato dos Sociólogos do Estado de São Paulo, escritor, arabista e professor. Membro da Academia de Altos Estudos Ibero-Árabe de Lisboa e da International Sociological Association.

* Opiniões aqui expressas não refletem necessáriamente as opiniões do site.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Anti-Empire Report- #73

"And on the most exalted throne in the world sits nothing but a man's arse." Montaigne

If there's anyone out there who is not already thoroughly cynical about those on the board of directors of the planet, the latest chapter in the saga of the bombing of PanAm 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland might just be enough to push them over the edge.

Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only person ever convicted for the December 21, 1988 bombing, was released from his Scottish imprisonment August 21 supposedly because of his terminal cancer and sent home to Libya, where he received a hero's welcome. President Obama said that the jubilant welcome Megrahi received was "highly objectionable". His White House spokesman Robert Gibbs added that the welcoming scenes in Libya were "outrageous and disgusting". British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "angry and repulsed", while his foreign secretary, David Miliband, termed the celebratory images "deeply upsetting." Miliband warned: "How the Libyan government handles itself in the next few days will be very significant in the way the world views Libya's reentry into the civilized community of nations." 1

Ah yes, "the civilized community of nations", that place we so often hear about but so seldom get to actually see. American officials, British officials, and Scottish officials know that Megrahi is innocent. They know that Iran financed the PFLP-GC, a Palestinian group, to carry out the bombing with the cooperation of Syria, in retaliation for the American naval ship, the Vincennes, shooting down an Iranian passenger plane in July of the same year, which took the lives of more people than did the 103 bombing. And it should be pointed out that the Vincennes captain, plus the officer in command of air warfare, and the crew were all awarded medals or ribbons afterward. 2 No one in the US government or media found this objectionable or outrageous, or disgusting or repulsive. The United States has always insisted that the shooting down of the Iranian plane was an "accident". Why then give awards to those responsible?

Today's oh-so-civilized officials have known of Megrahi's innocence since 1989. The Scottish judges who found Megrahi guilty know he's innocent. They admit as much in their written final opinion. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigated Megrahi's trial, knows it. They stated in 2007 that they had uncovered six separate grounds for believing the conviction may have been a miscarriage of justice, clearing the way for him to file a new appeal of his case. 3 The evidence for all this is considerable. And most importantly, there is no evidence that Megrahi was involved in the act of terror.

The first step of the alleged crime, sine qua non — loading the bomb into a suitcase at the Malta airport — for this there was no witness, no video, no document, no fingerprints, nothing to tie Megrahi to the particular brown Samsonite suitcase, no past history of terrorism, no forensic evidence of any kind linking him to such an act.

And the court admitted it: "The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 [Air Malta to Frankfurt] is a major difficulty for the Crown case." 4

The scenario implicating Iran, Syria, and the PFLP-GC was the Original Official Version, endorsed by the US, UK, Scotland, even West Germany — guaranteed, sworn to, scout's honor, case closed — until the buildup to the Gulf War came along in 1990 and the support of Iran and Syria was needed for the broad Middle East coalition the United States was readying for the ouster of Iraq's troops from Kuwait. Washington was also anxious to achieve the release of American hostages held in Lebanon by groups close to Iran. Thus it was that the scurrying sound of backtracking could be heard in the corridors of the White House. Suddenly, in October 1990, there was a New Official Version: it was Libya — the Arab state least supportive of the US build-up to the Gulf War and the sanctions imposed against Iraq — that was behind the bombing after all, declared Washington.

The two Libyans were formally indicted in the US and Scotland on Nov. 14, 1991. Within the next 20 days, the remaining four American hostages were released in Lebanon along with the most prominent British hostage, Terry Waite. 5

In order to be returned to Libya, Megrahi had to cancel his appeal. It was the appeal, not his health, that concerned the Brits and the Americans. Dr. Jim Swire of Britain, whose daughter died over Lockerbie, is a member of UK Families Flight 103, which wants a public inquiry into the crash. "If he goes back to Libya," Swire says, "it will be a bitter pill to swallow, as an appeal would reveal the fallacies in the prosecution case. ... I've lost faith in the Scottish criminal justice system, but if the appeal is heard, there is not a snowball's chance in hell that the prosecution case will survive." 6

And a reversal of the verdict would mean that the civilized and venerable governments of the United States and the United Kingdom would stand exposed as having lived a monumental lie for almost 20 years and imprisoned a man they knew to be innocent for eight years.

The Sunday Times (London) recently reported: "American intelligence documents [of 1989, from the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)] blaming Iran for the Lockerbie bombing would have been produced in court if the Libyan convicted of Britain's worst terrorist attack had not dropped his appeal." Added the Times: "The DIA briefing discounted Libya's involvement in the bombing on the basis that there was 'no current credible intelligence' implicating her." 7

If the three governments involved really believed that Megrahi was guilty of murdering 270 of their people, it's highly unlikely that they would have released their grip on him. Or is even that too much civilized behavior to expect.

One final note: Many people are under the impression that Libyan Leader Moammar Qaddafi has admitted on more than one occasion to Libya's guilt in the PanAm 103 bombing. This is not so. Instead, he has stated that Libya would take "responsibility" for the crime. He has said this purely to get the heavy international sanctions against his country lifted. At various times, both he and his son have explicitly denied any Libyan role in the bombing.

Humankind shall never fly

All those angry people. Yelling at the president and members of Congress about how the proposed government health plan, and Obama himself, are "socialist". (See the poster of Obama as the Joker character from Batman with "Socialism" in large letters, as the only word.8) These good folks wanna get their health care through good ol' capitalism; better no health care at all than godless-atheist commie health care; better to see your child die than have her saved by a Marxist-Stalinist-collective doctor who works for the government. But these screaming, heckling Americans — like most of their countrymen — might be rather surprised to discover that they don't really believe what they think they believe. I wrote an essay several years ago, which is still perfectly applicable today, entitled "The United States invades, bombs, and kills for it, but do Americans really believe in free enterprise?"

A common refrain, explicit or implicit, amongst the recent health-care hecklers is that the government can't do anything better or cheaper than private corporations. Studies, however, have clearly indicated otherwise. In 2003, US federal agencies examined 17,595 federal jobs and found civil servants to be superior to contractors 89 percent of the time. The following year, a study to determine whether 12,573 federal jobs could be done more efficiently by private contractors found in-house workers winning 91 percent of the time, according to an Office of Management and Budget report. And in 2005, a study of tens of thousands of government positions concluded that federal workers had won the job competitions more than 80 percent of the time. All these studies, it should be kept in mind, took place under the administration of George W. Bush, who, upon taking office in 2001, declared it his top management priority that federal workers should compete with contractors for as many as 850,000 government jobs. 9 Thus, any pressure to influence the outcome of these studies would have been in the opposite direction — putting the outside contractors in the best light.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Boys of Capital have been chortling in their martinis about the death of socialism. The word has been banned from polite conversation. And they hope that no one will notice that every socialist experiment of any significance in the twentieth century — without exception — was either overthrown, invaded, corrupted, perverted, subverted, destabilized, or otherwise had life made impossible for it, by the United States and its allies. Not one socialist government or movement — from the Russian Revolution to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, from Communist China to the FMLN in El Salvador — not one was permitted to rise or fall solely on its own merits; not one was left secure enough to drop its guard against the all-powerful enemy abroad and freely and fully relax control at home.

It's as if the Wright brothers' first experiments with flying machines all failed because the automobile interests sabotaged each test flight. And then the good and god-fearing folk of the world looked upon these catastrophes, nodded their heads wisely, and intoned solemnly: Humankind shall never fly.

The continual selling of the Afghanistan war

"But we must never forget," said President Obama recently, "this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people." 10

Obama was speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the ultra-nationalist group whose members would not question such sentiments. Neither would most Americans, including many of those who express opposition to the war when polled. It's simple — We're fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. We're fighting the same people who attacked New York and Washington. Never mind that out of the tens of thousands the United States and its NATO front have killed in Afghanistan not one has been identified as having had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001. Never mind that the "plot to kill Americans" in 2001 was hatched in Germany and the United States at least as much as in Afghanistan. What is needed to plot to buy airline tickets and take flying lessons in the United States? A room with some chairs? What does "an even larger safe haven" mean? A larger room with more chairs? Perhaps a blackboard? Terrorists intent upon attacking the United States can meet almost anywhere, with Afghanistan probably being one of the worst places for them, given the American occupation.

As to "plotting to do so again" ... there's no reason to assume that the United States has any concrete information of this, anymore than did Bush or Cheney who tried to scare us in the same way for more than seven years to enable them to carry out their agenda.

There are many people in Afghanistan who deeply resent the US presence there and the drones that fly overhead and drop bombs on houses, wedding parties, and funerals. One doesn't have to be a member of al Qaeda to feel this way. There doesn't even have to be such a thing as a "member of al Qaeda". It tells us nothing that some of them can be called "al Qaeda". Almost every individual or group in that part of the world not in love with US foreign policy, which Washington wishes to stigmatize, is charged with being associated with, or being a member of, al Qaeda, as if there's a precise and meaningful distinction between people retaliating against American aggression while being a member of al Qaeda and people retaliating against American aggression while NOT being a member of al Qaeda; as if al Qaeda gives out membership cards to fit in your wallet, as if there are chapters of al Qaeda that put out a weekly newsletter and hold a potluck on the first Monday of each month.

In any event, as in Iraq, the American "war on terrorism" in Afghanistan regularly and routinely creates new anti-American terrorists. This is scarcely in dispute even at the Pentagon.

The only "necessity" that draws the United States to Afghanistan is the need for oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea area, the establishment of military bases in this country that is surrounded by the oil-rich Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf regions, and making it easier to watch and pressure next-door Iran. What more could any respectable imperialist nation desire?

But the war against the Taliban can't be won. Except by killing everyone in Afghanistan. The United States should negotiate the pipelines with the Taliban, as the Clinton administration unsuccessfully tried to do, and then get out.

The revolution was televised

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on, and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag [heroin] and skip out for beer during commercials.
Because the revolution will not be televised. ...

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock news
The revolution will not be right back after a message
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath
The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised

These are some of the lines of Gil Scott-Heron's song that told people in the 1970s (which, I maintain, were just as '60ish as the fabled 1960s) that a revolution was coming, that they would no longer be able to live their normal daily life, that they should no longer want to live their normal daily life, that they would have to learn to be more serious about this thing they were always prattling about, this thing they called "revolution".

Fast Forward to 2009 ... Gil Scott-Heron, now a ripe old 60, was recently interviewed by the Washington Post:

WP: In the early 1970s, you came out with "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," about the erosion of democracy in America. You all but predicted that there would be a revolution in which a brainwashed nation would come to its senses. What do you think now? Did we have a revolution?

GS-H: Yes, the election of President Obama was the revolution. 11

Oh? So that's it? That's what we took clubs over our heads for? Tear gas, jail cells, and permanent police and FBI files? Published a million issues of the underground press? To get a president who doesn't have a revolutionary bone in his body? Not a muscle or nerve or tissue or organ that seriously questions cherished establishment beliefs concerning terrorism, permanent war, Israel, torture, marijuana, health care, and the primacy of profit over the environment and all else? Karl Marx is surely turning over in his London grave. If the modern counter-revolutionary United States had existed at the time of the American revolution, it would have crushed that revolution. And a colonial (white) Barack Obama would have worked diligently to achieve some sort of bi-partisan compromise with the King of England, telling him we need to look forward, not backward.


During 1998-1999, the United States used the Kosovo conflict to reaffirm its hegemonic role in Europe. US officials deliberately undercut a potential diplomatic solution to the Kosovo war; instead of using diplomacy to resolve the conflict, the United States sought a military solution in which NATO power could once again be demonstrated. The resulting air war, in 1999, succeeded in fully establishing the continued relevance of NATO, thus affirming US hegemony in Europe and undercutting European proclivities for foreign policy independence.
– David Gibbs, "First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia"

There's no issue of the recent past that has caused more friction internationally amongst those on the left than the question of what really took place in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Gibbs' new book explores many of the myths surrounding this very complicated and controversial slice of history, particularly those dealing with the supposed humanitarian motivation behind the Western powers intervention and the many alleged Serbian atrocities.


  1. Washington Post, August 22 and August 26, 2009
  2. Newsweek magazine, July 13, 1992
  3. Sunday Herald (Scotland), August 17, 2009
  4. "Opinion of the Court", Par. 39, issued following the trial in the Hague in 2001
  5. Read many further details about the case at
  6. The Independent (London daily), April 26, 2009
  7. Sunday Times (London), August 16, 2009
  8. Washington Post, August 6, 2009, p.C2
  9. Washington Post, June 8, 2005 and March 23, 2006 for this citation plus the three studies mentioned
  10. Talk given at VFW convention in Phoenix, Arizona, August 17, 2009
  11. Washington Post, August 26, 2009

William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at

Clarification. Kosher Nostra article

WMR ran the article titled: "North Jersey: epicenter of "Kosher Nostra" and Mossad activity" on July 27, 2009. The following paragraph represents a correction [bold segment] to the original report about the disposition of the criminal case brought against Ted Maher, a former US Green Beret, in the 1999 death of banker Edmond Safra in Monaco:

"Another prominent Syrian Jew was Edmond Safra who founded Banco Safra in Brazil in 1955. The Beirut-based Safra family had long served as important bankers for the Ottoman Empire. Safra eventually became a billionaire banking and investment tycoon. Safra founded the Republic National Bank in New York in 1966. In 1999, Safra was killed in an arson attack on his Monte Carlo home. Safra's U.S.-born nurse, Ted Maher, a former U.S. Army Green Beret, was arrested and charged with starting the fire, convicted and released after serving a prison sentence. Safra's killer or killers still remain at large. Safra's security chief, Shmuile Cohen, had recruited a number of Israeli military special forces personnel to guard Safra, but Shmule and the guards were given the night off by Safra's wife. Before his death, Safra was negotiating the sale of Republic Bank to HSBC. Safra was also cooperating with the FBI in its probe of the use of U.S. banks by the Russian-Israeli mafia to launder billions of dollars. There is speculation that Safra was murdered by the Russian-Israeli mob to keep him from divulging more details of their operations to the FBI."

In our initial report, we indicated that Maher's conviction was later overturned. The Safra Foundation publicist correctly stated the following in an email (as far as only the Maher matter is concerned):

"The information about Mr. Safra’s nurse, Ted Maher, is misleading. In fact, Mr. Maher was arrested under suspicion of starting the fire in which Mr. Safra died and was convicted of the crime in 2002 by the Monaco court. Ted Maher’s conviction was not 'overturned'. The court found him guilty and sentenced him to a prison term, which was served. There has been no further court inquiry into this case, let alone an 'overturning” of it.'"

Our clarification and correction has been sent to the publicist for the Edmond J. Safra
Foundation in France.

However, WMR currently stands by the remainder of the information contained in the relevant paragraph and the following was sent to the Safra Foundation's publicist:

"However, there are enough media reports since the time of Mr. Safra's death to strongly indicate there is much more to the story than Maher's confession. For example, the following from the NY Daily News, Dec 4 02: 'The lawsuit, filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court by Torrente's children, Jason, 30, and Genevieve, 23, charges that Safra, 67, 'restrained' [Viviane] Torrente [their mother and Safra's nurse] and 'prevented her escape' from the bathroom where they suffocated.'

As for Maher being a sole perpetrator, that is not what the Monaco police reported to Mr. Safra's own security chief. From AFP on November 26, 2002: 'The security chief of billionaire banker Edmond Safra was handcuffed by police as he tried to get into the penthouse apartment where his boss was suffocating to death, a court trying Safra's American nurse on arson charges was told Tuesday. Samuel Cohen told the court in the exclusive Mediterranean principality of Monaco that he was called to Safra's building at 5.00 a.m. on December 3 1999, but when he demanded to be allowed to up the burning apartment to find a way in -- arguing that he alone knew the security arrangements -- he was stopped by police. 'They told me that there were assailants there. I kept insisting, and it went on for 30 minutes,' Cohensaid, before describing how when he finally made it to the fifth floor he was overpowered and handcuffed.' It is noteworthy that Cohen said the police said there 'were assailants [plural]' in Safra's Monaco apartment. That would indicate that if Maher was guilty as charged, he may have had at least one accomplice.

And AFP ran this on Dec, 4 1999: 'Safra normally surrounded himself with bodyguards in his heavily protected Monaco penthouse, but this was not the case on the night of the attack.' That conflicts with your statement: 'There were never any security guards of any kind guarding the apartment in Monaco - neither that night nor any other night.' Has AFP retracted?

It is well documented that Mr Safra was cooperating with the FBI in an investigation of Russian Jewish mafia involvement with his competitor, the Bank of New York (BONY). Feb 7 2000 Times of London: 'In the days after his death rumours abounded that his killers were the Russian mafia, incensed by Safra's co-operation with the FBI,which was investigating mafia money-laundering through Safra's New York-based Republic National Bank. . . Safra's fear was well-founded. He had, in effect, signed his own death warrant five years ago, when Republic National Bank first alerted the FBI to a Pounds 6 billion money-laundering racket: the Russian mafia was thought to have been transferring cash from offshore bank accounts into dollar accounts at Safra's bank. And when, last October, Safra froze the bank accounts of most of his Russian clients in preparation for selling his bank to HSBC, scores of Russians lost everything. One Russian businessman suspected of mafia links has told friends that Safra's actions cost him $ 30 million.'

Based on the other available information, I see no need to change any other part of the paragraph in question unless there is some further documentation that shows the Monaco police were incorrect in their initial assessment of the situation and that the FBI was not investigating Russian Jewish money laundering through Republic National Bank and related activity at BONY. You'll note that no where in the article is it stated that Mr Safra had 'dealings' with the Mafia and to the contrary it specifically states: 'Safra was also cooperating with the FBI in its probe of the use of U.S. banks by the Russian-Israeli mafia to launder billions of dollars.' The statement does not assert that Mr. Safra was any subject himself of an FBI investigation but was cooperating in an investigation of the use of banks by the Russian-Israeli mob for money laundering."

Arab governments forced to rely on AIPAC and AIPAC-linked lobbyists and influence peddlers

WMR has learned from two knowledgeable individuals that various Arab governments have been forced to use lobbyists affiliated with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) because Arabs have no chance of advancing their interests in Washington without the approval of lobbyists connected to Israeli interests.

Although the close ties between AIPAC and the American Turkish Council (ATC) are well-documented, especially after the disclosures of former FBI Turkish translator Sibel Edmonds, the links between AIPAC and lobbyists charging Arab governments exorbitant fees to advance their causes, is not as well known. A former State Department official told WMR that although most of the Israeli-connected lobbyists are close to the Israeli government, some, who are Jewish, are more independent of Israel. However, all are cashing in on opening doors for Arabs, including Palestinians, in Washington.

WMR was told by one Arab media source that CNN's Wolf Blitzer, a former official of AIPAC and a correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, has vetted a number of Palestinian officials and Palestinian-Americans for relatively favorable exposure on CNN who are "pre-approved" by the Israeli government. The practice seriously calls into question CNN's journalistic integrity in its coverage of Middle East issues.

The former State Department official pointed to Morocco as one country that has entered into a strategic partnership with the Israeli Lobby in Washington to advance Moroccan interests. The post of U.S. ambassador to Morocco has been held two American Jews with close ties to AIPAC since the Clinton administration. Clinton's ambassador to Rabat was Marc Ginsberg. He was followed Edward Gabriel who served until the end of the Clinton administration. President Obama's ambassador to Morocco is Samuel Kaplan, a Minneapolis lawyer and Democratic Party activist and fundraiser.

The former State Department official said that when a former Algerian ambassador to Washington discovered that he had to deal with AIPAC-affiliated lobbyists to advance Algeria's interests in Congress and the White House, he was appalled. The State Department official told him to take a page from the Moroccans on lobbying as an Arab envoy in Washington.

One person cited as a key in the Israeli Lobby shakedown of Arab governments is said to be Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), who was the subject of a brief FBI investigation for engaging in questionable activities with Israeli embassy officials and a major AIPAC funder over interceding with the Justice Department to stop an investigation of AIPAC espionage in Washington on behalf of Israeli intelligence.

Another country that plays the AIPAC lobbyist card is Egypt, which receives billions of dollars in U.S. military assistance, all vetted beforehand by Israeli lobbyist interests in Washington. Daniel Kurtzer served as George W. Bush's ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005. Prior to that posting, Kurtzer, the former dean of Yeshiva University, served as Bill Clinton's ambassador to Egypt. Kurtzer is now the commissioner of the Israel Baseball League.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

US's 'arc of instability' just gets bigger

US's 'arc of instability' just gets bigger
By Pepe Escobar

The New Great Game is not only focused on the face-off between the United States and strategic competitors Russia and China - with Pipelineistan as a defining element.

The full spectrum dominance doctrine requires the control of the Pentagon-coined "arc of instability" from the Horn of Africa to western China. The cover story is the former "global war on terror", now "overseas contingency operations" under the management of President Barack Obama's administration.

Most of all, the underlying logic remains divide and rule. As for the divide, Beijing would call it, without a trace of irony, "splittist". Split up Iraq - blocking China's access to Iraqi oil. Split up Pakistan - with an independent Balochistan preventing China from accessing the strategic port of Gwadar there. Split up Afghanistan - with an independent Pashtunistan allowing the building of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline bypassing Russia. Split up Iran - by financing subversion in Khuzestan and Sistan-Balochistan. And why not split up Bolivia (as was attempted last year) to the benefit of US energy giants. Call it the (splitting) Kosovo model.

Kosovo, incidentally, is known as the Colombia of the Balkans. What Washington calls the "Western hemisphere" is a sub-section of the New Great Game. The linkage between the recent military coup in Honduras, the return of the living dead - that is, the resurrection of the US Navy's Fourth Fleet in July 2008 - and now the turbo-charging of seven US military bases in Colombia is not to be blamed merely on continuity from president George W Bush to Obama. Not really. This is all about the internal logic of Full Spectrum Dominance.

Touching bases
Twelve South American nations, under the Union of South American Nations umbrella, got together in Bariloche, Argentina, last week and after a heated seven-hour discussion only managed to stress, somewhat meekly, that "foreign troops cannot be a threat to the region" - in reference to the US military presence in Colombia. At least President Lula da Silva of Brazil will be asking Obama to get together with South American presidents and reveal what this new military pact with Colombia is really all about.

Spin, of course, prevailed. Influential Brazilian conservative newspaper O Globo, which for all practical purposes looks like it's been redacted in Washington, practically blamed Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez for everything.

It's instructive to examine how some of the sharpest South American minds view it. Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano (whose book, Open Veins of Latin America was offered to Obama by Chavez at the recent Organization of American States summit) in an interview to an Ecuadorian paper, stressed how the US had spent a century fabricating military dictatorships in Latin America, so when there's a military coup, such as in Honduras, Washington is at a loss for words.

As for the military bases in Colombia, Galeano said they "offend not only Latin America's collective dignity but one's intelligence".

The US has already set up three military bases in Colombia, plus a dozen radar stations. Now this will be upgraded by the Colombian government to seven bases, one of them - Palanquero - with air access to the whole hemisphere. Seven bases in Colombia is a natural Pentagon response to the US losing the Manta base in Ecuador, and losing its grip on now leftist Paraguay. Washington already trains the Colombian armed forces, special forces and the national police.

The infamous Fort Benning-based School of the Americas, the flagship US training ground for ultra-repressive military dictatorships, that is, the "School of Assassins", re-baptized in 2001 the Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation, trained not only over 10,000 Colombians, but the coup leaders in Honduras as well.

Argentine political scientist Atilio Boron goes for the jugular; for him, "To think that those troops and weapons systems are based in Latin America for some reason other than to insure the territorial and political control of a region that experts consider the richest one on the planet in terms of its natural resources - water, energy, biodiversity, minerals agriculture, etc - would be unforgivably stupid."

American political activist and author, Noam Chomsky, in an interview to Venezuelan-American lawyer Eva Golinger during his recent visit to Venezuela, explained how the "rose wave" of South American leftism is scaring Washington so much that it's forcing it to collaborate with every government that would have been summarily deposed a few decades ago. Chomsky refers to the Joao Goulart government in Brazil, which was toppled in 1964, giving way, under US supervision, to "the first national security state neo-Nazi-style". Lula's policies today are not that different from Goulart's.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization all over
Colombia has received over US$5 billion from the Pentagon since Plan Colombia was launched by president Bill Clinton way back in ... the year 2000. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe rules over a captivating land infested with paramilitaries and extra-judicial killings - scores of peasants and trade unionists killed in cold blood. But he's praised in Washington as a human-rights hero.

Isn't that swell? In a 1991 unclassified Pentagon intelligence report, then-senator Alvaro Uribe Velez is described as "dedicated to collaboration with the Medellin cartel at high government levels". The report stresses Uribe "has worked for the Medellin cartel and is a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar Gaviria", the archetypal, now dead, Colombian drug lord. No wonder Uribe has always fiercely fought any possible form of extradition treaty.

Boron describes Uribe as "the empire's Trojan Horse". It's this Trojan Horse that allows what is in fact a counter-insurgency operation to be packaged as a "war on drugs". Needless to say, Colombia remains the number one supplier of cocaine to the US - Plan Colombia or not.

The counter-insurgency is also in large part directed against, who else, Venezuela's Chavez, who, in his innumerable casual moments, makes no secret that he "knows Uribe, and his psychology, very well". Golinger, author of a must-read book on Washington's overall strategy, Bush vs Chavez: Washington's war on Venezuela, told Russia Today that "Plan Colombia really does not have the objective of addressing directly the war on drugs"; it's more about the "control of natural resources and strategic resources".

Way beyond Venezuela, this is all about the militarization of the Andes and beyond. Colombia is, yes, the Trojan Horse in charge of policing virtually all of South America, not to mention Central America, now that US political, economic and military hegemony is shrinking by the hour.

The beauty of Plan Colombia is its one-size-fits-all status - from AfPak to Mexico. Few people know that in April 2007, the former US ambassador to Colombia, William Wood, was sent to Afghanistan to implement ... a Plan Colombia, that is, counter-insurgency disguised as a war on drugs. Colombia is a mirror of Afghanistan - and vice-versa. It goes without saying that counter-insurgency-heavy Afghanistan - now under the supreme boot of former death-squad operator to General Davis Petraeus in Iraq, General Stanley McChrystal - still produces over 90% of the world's opium.

And inevitably that's where NATO comes in. The only part of the world where NATO is still not active is ... South America. Few people also know that a few months ago, the head of the Pentagon's Southern Command, Admiral James Stavridis, became NATO supreme commander. Three of the past five NATO top military commanders - Stavridis, Bantz Craddock and Wesley Clark - moved to NATO glory from ... the Southern Command, certainly adding another meaning to the gloomy expression "School of the Americas".

No wonder Bolivian President Evo Morales said in Cuba in mid-July, "I have first-hand information that the empire, through the US Southern Command, made the coup d'etat in Honduras." And all this while not only Mexico and Argentina - but also Brazil and Ecuador - are on their way to decriminalizing drugs.

War on drugs? So much for the cover story. More like the Pentagon stuck in the business, to quote Galeano, of insulting Latin America's intelligence for a long time to come.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at