Friday, February 02, 2007

Ralph Nader, An Unreasonable Man - NOT!

By Deanna Zandt

Mention Ralph's name in any variety of progressive circles and you'll often get an earful about the 2000 elections. You'll hear about how, sure, the person you're talking to voted for him, but somehow, Nader is effectively responsible for the war and every other sorry state the country is in, because he spoiled the election. Forty years of activism doesn't come up so much in that conversation, does it?

A new documentary aims to shed some light on a man who has managed to be vilified from just about every political angle: An Unreasonable Man premiered in New York City last night. Three sold-out showings on opening night must mean something... people must be curious to get a glimpse at the what's behind the curtains of the crusader.

The audience gets more than a glimpse, for sure. Starting out with Election 2000 rants from people who seem rather, er, unreasonably upset still, the film moves quickly into the history of the modern consumer movement. What's shocking about watching that history, though, is that it's incredibly funny (find out which automaker hired women to try and seduce Ralph into scandalous affairs), and an excellent reminder that, as Mark Green notes towards the end of the film, little of the man's life is about ego, as he is so often criticized now. Plus, journalist James Ridgeway often steals the show with his very candid political commentary.

I spoke with Nader briefly after the film, and asked him if he'd ever experienced burnout from all the activism and attacks he's endured. "Burn-what?" he said, looking at me quizzically. And he wasn't being funny, either. "Burnout," I laughed. "How do you deal with it?"

"Oh, burnout," he said. "No, I've never had it. I mean, what's the alternative to activism? Surrender. That's not an option, you know?"

Deni Frand, former director of People for the American Way New York, noted after the film that one of the most crucial points of the film for her was to see where Nader comes from-- how his family is, and the community he grew up in. "And to watch the collapse of the Democrats in the 1980s-- people forget that twenty-year block of time, and just how sad it was," she said. It certainly paints a poignant picture when you see a large room full of Democratic candidates, in their early-80s garb, courting hundreds of potential corporate donors in a feeding frenzy to "catch up" to the Republicans.

If there's anything to criticize about the film, it's the lack of young voices throughout the film-- organizer Jason Kafoury is the only person under 40 to appear (besides some anti-Nader activists that have a few words here and there). It would have been fantastic to see how Nader's populist message is affecting youth activism and culture, and the influence that he's had. At the end Q&A session after the screening, he did offer advice to younger activists: Every town in America has councils and committees where you can get involved. Go and be part of it, and see what you're made of.

As for the 2000 elections-- that's better left to the film. All angles are pursued as to Ralph's influence on the election, and the viewer is left to make their own decision on how it all fell out. I certainly came away with the feeling that he didn't deserve what the Democrats did to him, smearing him for their crappy campaign and Republican-lite candidate. Particularly intriguing to watch, too, were the celebrities who withdrew their support from him.

All-in-all, it's a film that accomplishes quite a bit-- documenting the history of the consumer advocacy movement, providing insight to the character and caricature of Ralph Nader, and above all, it lets us each answer the question it poses: How do you define a legacy?

Deanna Zandt is a contributing editor at AlterNet.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Nader Still in the Crosshairs By MICKEY Z.
[Report this comment]
Posted by: rwa on Feb 1, 2007 8:13 AM

I was at the gym, walking by a television tuned to one of the many insipid morning chat shows...but that's not what stopped me dead in my tracks. What got my attention was the guest: Ralph Nader. I watched the host begin the interview with yet another rehash/accusation/question about the 2000 election. You know the drill by now: Nader spoiled it for Gore, ruined his own legacy, blah, blah, blah. It's been repeated so often that most Americans accept it all as fact.

After having read New York magazine the night before, that first question was all I could stomach. You see, David Edelstein, the magazine's film critic, just reviewed An Unreasonable Man, a new documentary about Nader. The self-important Edelstein spoke of receiving an invitation to see the film and meet Nader afterwards. "I wrote (that) I couldn't make it," said Edelstein, "but to leave my seat vacant in the name of the Iraqi and American dead."

Left unsaid, of course, is his belief that Nader cost Al Gore the election and that Gore would never have invaded Iraq. While neither point can ever be fully proven true or false, I do have a question for Edelstein: If Al Gore cares so much about the Iraqi dead, why didn't he speak out against the murderous sanctions when he was vice president? A half-million dead Iraqi children and Gore did not say one fuckin' word in public to condemn it.

I'm also wondering if, during the Clinton-Gore years, Edelstein peppered his film reviews with similar self-righteous political statements. How about when Clinton bombed Iraq in response to an alleged plot to assassinate Bush the Elder and ended up killing Leila Attar, that country's best-known female artist?

What did the millionaire morning chat show hosts and the haughty New York magazine film critic say about that? Better question: Were they even aware it happened?

"What we have with Edelstein is the typical liberal phenomena: blame Nader instead of facing the facts," says Joshua Frank, author of Left Out: How Liberals Help Re-elect George W. Bush. "The reason Nader even made any headway in 2000 was due to his ability to tap into the mounting anti-globalization movement that was launched in Seattle one year earlier. Progressive, and even radical voters saw Nader as their chance to hold the neoliberals' feet to the fire."

Also in his "review," Edelstein declares Nader to be "obviously nuts" for making the assertion that there wasn't "a dime's bit of difference" between Bush and Gore. This statement is presented as an article of faith as Edelstein offers no evidence. Why should he when probably 99.9% of his readers agree with him?

"Nobody can say Gore wasn't a neoliberal," says Frank. "He supported NAFTA, pushed WTO/China legislation-Al Gore was a proud New Democrat for many years and that was only part of it. Under Clinton/Gore environmentalists got the Salvage Rider and the derailment of Kyoto. The working poor got welfare reform. Labor got free trade. And Iraqi kids got deadly sanctions. Those are the reasons Nader had such a powerful campaign in 2000. I think if liberals can't face that, they are the ones who are 'nuts'."

Take-home message: If all those Gore voters had pulled the lever for Ralph, we all would've been spared both the Bush administration and the Nader, David Edelstein could to stick to writing about film.

D's still shooting themselves in the foot...
[Report this comment]
Posted by: MartianBachelor on Feb 1, 2007 8:43 AM
Criminy, even Humphrey was able to win his home state while getting totally steamrolled in 1968; same for Dukakis in 1988... Labor has been falling in line behind the D's for decades, and look what it's gotten them. When will people catch on?

It's not so much a movie review, but John DeSio wrote a wonderfully incisive piece on Ralph and the body politic in New York Press: It's the best thing I've seen so far in all that's coming out on the release of this movie.

Choice quote: “I think the anger of the Democrats is an autocratic anger,” says Nader. “Basically they think the Democrats own a certain number of votes in the country and nobody should challenge them. Well, that’s a very autocratic form of political bigotry.”

9/11: The Case Isn't Closed

Editor's note: The role of the alternative press is to offer perspectives that the commercial media won't touch. Having run a number of articles critical of the "9/11 Truth Movement" by Matt Taibbi, Joshua Holland, Matthew Rothschild and others, we asked Sander Hicks, a prominent voice within the movement, to share his perspective. For more of Sanders' views, see his book "The Big Wedding: 9/11, The Whistle-Blowers, and the Cover-Up."

No matter what you believe about who was responsible for 9/11, and how it went down, we're all amazed at how much political capital the events of that day produced for this administration: A bipartisan consensus on torture; an era of permanent war; detentions without trial; "no fly" lists for activists; the Bill of Rights gone with the wind, and a cowed professional media willing to self-censor and suppress pertinent information. The 9/11 "America Attacked" story has distracted us from the natural outrage we should feel over illegal wiretaps, stolen elections, hundreds of billions of dollars missing at the Pentagon, war profiteering, Enron and Cheney's secret energy policy.

But with Bush's popularity at a record low, a Zogby poll shows that over 40 percent of Americans now think there has been a "coverup" around 9/11. A more recent poll conducted at the Scripps-Howard/University of Ohio found more than a third of those asked said it was likely that "people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."

So, it's probably no surprise that the propaganda mills of the State Department have recently been cranking out attack websites, targeting 9/11 skepticism. And it's not a shocker that the normal channels of media have followed suit (Time, New York Times, etc.) What's weird is how similar the attacks sound in the hallowed halls of "respectable" left political opinion. A recent column on AlterNet by the Progressive's Matthew Rothschild matched the recent bromides of Counterpunch's Alexander Cockburn. In both pieces, the way 9/11 has been questioned was attacked, with no alternatives suggested. Instead, questioning 9/11 at all was belittled with sweeping generalizations.

What happened to critical thinking? I thought "the Left" believed that the system's power is based on lies, exploitation and a media controlled by its own culture of overly cautious professionalism. The Left should be leading this 9/11 movement, not taking potshots from outside. Unfortunately, some of the movement's theories, like "the towers came down through a controlled demolition" sound esoteric at first blush. The "No Plane Hit the Pentagon" theory is a loose thread in a maze going nowhere.

The Left has no right to ignore or insult people for trying to assemble the puzzle that is 9/11.

Consider some of the pieces:

Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage is a figure bloodied by his work in Iran/Contra. He and then-CIA Director George Tenet had extensive meetings in Pakistan with President Musharraf in the spring of 2001, according to the Asia Times.

Then, Pakistan's top spy, Mahmood Ahmad, visited Washington for a week, taking meetings with top State Department people like Tenet and Mark Grossman, under secretary of state for political affairs. The Pakistani press reported, "ISI Chief Lt-Gen Mahmood's weeklong presence in Washington has triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council." Did they know that Ahmad had wired over $100,000 to Mohamed Atta, through U.K. national Saeed Sheikh in the summer of 2001? (Facts all confirmed, quietly, by the FBI investigation in Pakistan, and, partially, in the Wall Street Journal.)

That means that our top people at the State Department enjoyed only a few degrees of separation from 9/11's lead hijacker, Mohamed Atta. Here's the real kicker: As this story first broke in the Times of India, in October 2001, instead of retaliating, the United States gave Pakistan $3 billion in U.S. aid. Ahmad was allowed to quietly resign.

Bob Graham, D-Fla., who sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, would later tell PBS's Gwen Ifill: "I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing -- although that was part of it -- by a sovereign foreign government and that we have been derelict in our duty to track that down, make the further case, or find the evidence that would indicate that that is not true."

Skip forward to Feb. 15, 2006. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer gave a 48-page statement to the House Armed Services Committee, in which he stated, unequivocally, that his Defense Intelligence operation, Able Danger, identified Mohamed Atta as a major terrorist back in year 2000. But Shaffer and his team of "the 'best and brightest' military operators" were prevented from sharing this information with the FBI. According to Shaffer, during a crucial meeting the group's Pentagon supervisors and attorneys from the Special Operations Command in early 2000, the Able Danger team was ordered to cover Atta's mugshot with a yellow sticky note. Military lawyers at the Pentagon claimed it was to protect the rights of "U.S. Persons."

Some progressives are turned off to the Able Danger story, since it was the pet obsession of recently defeated congressman "Crazy" Curt Weldon, R-Pa., the "patriot" who planned a clandestine trip to personally dig through Iraq in order to find the WMD's for Bush's White House. And the Department of Defense inspector general recently issued a report claiming that the Able Danger operation never identified Atta. But author Peter Lance (an Emmy-award winning reporter, formerly with ABC), author of "Triple Cross: How bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI -- and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him," calls the Pentagon IG report a "whitewash … set out to prove a predetermined thesis: that these decorated military officers had somehow lied and risked their careers by exaggerating Able Danger's findings." Rather, Lance confirms that Shaffer, and his colleague, Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott, "found links to 9/11 hijackers, Atta, [Khalid] al-Midhar and [Nawaf] al-Hazmi as connections between al Qaeda and the New York-based cell of [the blind Sheikh] Omar Abdel Rahman."

When the critics focus on the wacky theories and not on careful, moderate, serious authors like Lance, it's a strategy to frame the debate. It steers the argument from going after the real meat of 9/11: the history of U.S. foreign policy in strategic alliances with radical Islam.

Specifically, there are a set of troubling connections between the 9/11 terrorists and the U.S. State Department, the Pakistani ISI (old friends of the CIA from working together creating Afghani Mujahadeen during the Russian occupation), the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, the Pentagon, Maxwell Air Force Base and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Why did the 9/11 terrorists get protected from Able Danger at that Pentagon meeting? Who covered up Atta with a yellow sticky note? What are we supposed to think about the news (reported by Knight Ridder news service 9/15/01) that Atta had attended International Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama?

Atta was the Oswald of the whole operation. He is an enigma; everywhere you turn in his story, the details are wildly contradictory. Instead of a devout Muslim, you have a party-hearty Florida playboy, according to author Daniel Hopsicker, author of "Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta and the 9/11 Cover-Up in Florida." The FBI has sworn for five years Atta didn't arrive in Florida until June 2000. But in 2000 Hopsicker found and videotaped Amanda Keller, Atta's American girlfriend, and many other Florida locals who contradict that story. In fact, Atta lived with Keller at the Sandpiper apartments, just outside the Venice, Fla., airport, in March 2000. Thanks to the magic of web video, anyone can see Hopsicker's footage of Keller's reminiscences of Atta: in Florida, they hung out with cocaine-addled strippers doing lines in three-night-long parties. With them were certain white Germans, including one "Wolfgang Bohringer" whom Atta called "brother."

Why "brother?" During Atta's university years in Cairo, the engineering guild that he joined had made him a member of the group Muslim Brotherhood. 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is also a card-carrying "brother." The Muslim Brotherhood has been around since the 1920's, it was originally an anti-colonial group. Today, it's the most powerful terrorist force you've never heard of. Their frontmen in Egypt are nonviolent and run for office. But the real sordid history of the Muslim Brotherhood is that, since 1928, its anti-Semitism and anti-Zionist ideologies have turned it into the perfect partner in crime for Nazis, European fascists, American far-rightists and their contemporary counterparts, the neoconservatives.

Hopsicker's original research on Wolfgang Bohringer inspired the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) to issue a FBI Terror Alert on Nov. 16, 2006. According to sources close to the investigation, Bohringer was apprehended in the South Pacific on Nov. 17, but shocked the arresting agents when he claimed, "You can't arrest me, I'm working for the CIA." A former JTTF undercover operative, Randy Glass, confirmed that Bohringer was arrested and released.

Oct. 9, 2006, saw the release of leading D.C. muckrakers Susan and Joe Trento's latest mind-blowing work on "national security." "Unsafe at Any Altitude: Failed Terrorism Investigations, Scapegoating 9/11, and the Shocking Truth about Aviation Security Today"> made 60 Minutes. The book savages the incompetence and "eye candy" of the Transportation Security Administration. This is not a book you want to read on a long flight: It turns out the "no fly" lists are pathetically inaccurate. The Trentos' report that the CIA regularly lets known terrorists fly as a tactic to try to catch more of them.

Some of the Trentos' findings were too hot for 60 Minutes. The book's blockbuster revelation is that the Pentagon kamikaze Flight 77 terrorist crew was led by two agents of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) of Saudi Arabia: Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. Sound familiar? They should. They are the same two guys Peter Lance found being protected from Able Danger by top brass at the Pentagon. This same duo lived in San Diego with an FBI informant. The same duo took money from the wife of Bush friend Saudi Prince Bandar.

The U.S. State Department's dirtiest secret is its 30-year habit of working with the far-right radical Islamists. In 1977, President Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (aka the "Democrats' Kissinger") started the Nationalities Working Group. According to his neocon minion, Richard Pipes, the group was tasked with using Islamic rage in the central Asian republics to stir up "genocidal fury" against the Soviet Union. (Pipes' son, Daniel, is a well-known neocon who headed the U.S. Institute for Peace under Bush II.) Brzezinski later admitted in an interview to Nouvel Observateur that he advised Carter to initiate funding for the Mujahedeen so that the Soviet Union would have to enter the region, engage in a Vietnam-like debacle and destroy their economy.

In fact, according to a Special Report in The Economist, the whole notion of "jihad" died out in Islam in the 10th century until "it was revived, with American encouragement, to fire an international pan-Islamic movement after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979."

Throughout the '80s, the Reaganites were superficially opposed to the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. But in reality, the Islamic fundamentalists were happy customers for U.S. arms sales. Care of the Reagan/Bush team, a triangular trade kept a clandestine flow of weapons, money and narcotics moving in and out of Central America, all to benefit the right-wing Contra militia. Meanwhile, the capital was flowing into the Mujahedeen through Pakistan. Oh, yeah, we were selling weapons to Iraq, too, so they could fight the Iranians.

The financial engine that helped run these operations was a well-oiled and bloody front bank called the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. BCCI was the funding vehicle that American and Pakistani intelligence used to arm the Afghani Mujahedeen against the Soviets. In the Pakistan/Afghanistan theatre, it moved guns and bombs in, and shipped heroin out. In Central America, it moved in guns and advisors, and took the payoff in cocaine.

When BCCI got busted in 1991, $10 million in State Department accounts was discovered. The CIA and the Pakistani ISI, learning to love each other in their first of many sick trysts, built BCCI into an international network still very much alive. Sen. John Kerry's investigation into BCCI started out strong, but eventually caved to political pressure. Under pressure from Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Kerry fired his top investigator, Jack Blum. No major players were ever apprehended, censured, prosecuted or sentenced for the genocidal, narcotics-trafficking, lucrative top crimes of our time. Instead, many of them returned to power in 2001.

According to S.C. Gwynne and Jonathan Beaty, authors of "The Outlaw Bank," BCCI was "a vast, stateless, multinational corporation" that deployed "its own intelligence agency, complete with a paramilitary wing and enforcement units, known collectively as the Black Network." BCCI wasn't just a fluke; it wasn't just the biggest corporate scandal of all time. It was the perfect example of what big money does today in an unregulated global market.

When George W. Bush, and his gang of bloodstained Iran/Contra suspects seized the White House, they ushered in a new era of intimacy between the federal government and international mega-capital. After all, "Dubya" Bush had wasted a good chunk of his life in a cocaine and whiskey stupor, but the other half was spent in bad business deals with people like Saudi heavyweight Khalid bin Mahfouz. Mahfouz, alongside Salem bin Laden (Osama's half-brother), was a 1977 investor in Arbusto Energy, Bush's first oil company. Mahfouz later became the majority shareholder of BCCI. Mahfouz helped broker the deal for Bush when he wanted to unload his Harken energy stock. This same Khalid bin Mahfouz was branded by a report to the UN Security Council as one of the seven top Saudi al Qaeda money men. Shortly after the Bush/Harken deal, Mahfouz donated a quarter of a million dollars to Osama bin Laden's Mujahadeen in the late 1980s. According to Forbes, he put $30 million into the Muwaffaq Foundation, which the Treasury Department labeled an al Qaeda front. (Mahfouz also legendary for suing anyone who says so, and has terrified and constrained independent publishers in Canada and the UK.) Is it any wonder then, that the heavily compromised, Bush-White House connected 9/11 Commission took a dive to the mat on the "financing of 9/11" question? They said the money behind 9/11 was "of little practical significance" when behind the curtain stood an old friend of Bush, controlling a bogeyman named "al Qaeda." Senator Bob Graham said he was "stunned that we have not done a better job of pursuing" the question of foreign financing, and that crucial information had been "overly classified."

Money talks. It helps explain why 14 other countries tried but could not effectively warn the U.S.A. about the impending 9/11 attacks. The money connections, the real history of 9/11, explains why the top bin Laden financial tracker at the FBI's Chicago office, Robert Wright, was so upset after the attacks. Through tears of anger and frustration, he told a National Press Club audience, "The FBI ... allowed 9/11 to happen." What? What did he say? "FBI management intentionally and repeatedly thwarted and obstructed my investigations into Middle Eastern terrorist financing."

Why was Wright thwarted by his higher-ups? And what about FBI translator Sibel Edmonds' claim that, among the agency's Farsi translators, "it was common knowledge that a longtime, highly regarded FBI 'asset'" told the agency in early 2001 that "bin Laden was planning a major attack involving the use of planes," but after agents wrote up reports and sent them to their superiors "it was the last the agents heard of the matter?" Why were FBI agent Colleen Rowley's reports about Zacarias Moussaoui receiving flight training in Minnesota apparently ignored by Washington, causing her to charge that key facts, were "omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mischaracterized" by FBI bosses?

There are important questions that remain to be answered. The establishment isn't asking them. Instead, the citizen journalists out there are breaking this story.

Remember how much political reaction there has been ever since the people rose up, united across borders and shut down the war machine in Vietnam. For six years, the neocons have ruled by fear. We, the resistance, must drive them out with a little something stronger: peace, truth, revolution. We know history. We have a mission. Taste the clash of history, and you'll know which side you're on.

Sander Hicks runs the Vox Pop/DKMC media machine and coffeehouse. He is publisher at the New York Megaphone newspaper and author of "The Big Wedding: 9/11, The Whistle-Blowers, and the Cover-Up." He lives in Brooklyn.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Keith Olbermann on George Bush on Iraq/Iran [does this classify as Deja Vu "all over again"?]

Countdown with Keith Olbermann highlights the similarities between language used by George Bush about Iraq in 2002 and about Iran now:

Update: Just to clarify, despite all the stories in the press about the "impending" attack on Iran (but see the post below for a reminder of how those are nothing new), I still do not personally believe that the U.S. is either going to invade Iran nor launch some kind of massive bombing attack. Because what would they do the next day, with a country they can't possibly occupy, even if they didn't have 150,000 troops in Iraq? Their goal is regime change in Iran, just as in Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, and just as it has been in Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, and many others where they have succeeded. It's true that a sustained bombing campaign did bring about regime change in Yugoslavia, but Iran is in a far stronger position both to fight back and to retaliate in ways that Yugoslavia wasn't.

No, what this is all about is pressure, pressure designed to convince the "moderates" in Iran that they should go the Qaddafi route of accommodation with the West rather than confrontation, subservience rather than independence. I try not to make predictions, but this is one I'm sticking by. Were I a religious person, I'd pray that I'm right. Instead I'll just hope. And continue demonstrating, blogging, writing letters, talking to people, and otherwise agitating against the possibility of it happening, increasing the pressure on the American government to stop its bullying behavior.

Christian Fascism: The Jesus Gestapo of St. Orwell by Carolyn Baker

by Carolyn Baker

New York Times reporter, Chris Hedges, has written an extraordinary book, American Fascism: The Christian Right And The War On America. Having survived a Christian fundamentalist background myself, I marvel at the timely urgency of Hedges’ book, but also, at the obtuse disconnect most Americans have with the pivotal thesis of his book: the power of the religious right in the United States to bring forth a nation whose totalitarian repression could dwarf that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. As Hedges notes, we are well on the path toward such a reality, and the Domionist Christian right is a principal player in the process. While the nucleus of that movement is small, measuring only about 1% of evangelicals and led by the likes of James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and John Hagee, those leaders are supported by throngs of evangelicals sympathetic to their theocratic views who dutifully preach the consummate tenet of the movement, submission. Citizens must submit to their government officials, particularly the ones who claim to be born-again Christians and receiving their orders from God; wives must submit to husbands; children must submit to parents; and everyone must submit to the teachings of the bible as interpreted by evangelical Christianity or burn in hell. I will herein use the term “Christian fascism” or “Cristo-fascism” as synonymous with a worldview and political philosophy which are both fundamentalist Christian and fascist in nature.

Recently, I viewed a chilling documentary “Jesus Camp”, which examines “the evangelical belief that a revival is underway in America that requires Christian youth to assume leadership roles in advocating the causes of their religious movement.” The film follows a group of evangelical kids who attend a summer camp where they are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in God’s army. Under the leadership of control-freak youth pastor, Becky Fischer, who makes Nurse Ratchet in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” look like Snow White, the children are told that theirs is a unique generation -- perhaps the last on earth before the return of Christ to rapture his church, and that just as Muslim children learn at an early age to carry and use automatic weapons so that they can die for Islam, Christian kids must learn to fight in the Jesus army in order to save souls and take back America for God -- and be willing to die for Jesus.

One not need be a licensed mental health professional to find the emotional manipulation, indoctrination, and outright brainwashing of the Jesus camp both repulsive and enraging. Its squeaky-clean, almost exclusively white, puerile participants mouth all the right jargon, concepts, and scripture verses impeccably and robotically like good little Christian boys and girls -- or more chillingly, like Hitler youth. Jesus Camp is nothing less than childhood spiritual abuse on steroids, leaving me personally and eternally grateful that as a child growing up in fundamentalism, I wasn’t subjected to anything worse in the context of religious services than the raspy screams of bible-thumping preachers

Hedges’ brilliant article, “The Christian Right And The Rise Of American Fascism” outlines several principles inherent in Christian fascism, and to his list, I will add a few of my own:

1) Apocalyptic Violence -- A central tenet of Cristo-fascism is the belief that after the Rapture or Christ’s returns to rescue Christian believers and take them to heaven, a period of seven years, or the Tribulation, will ensue in which an Anti-Christ will dominate the world, and every horror imaginable will be unleashed on humankind. Those who do not submit (again a pivotal word for Christian fascism) and accept Christ as their personal savior, will be martyred but will be assured of spending eternity in heaven with Christ. Those who do submit will be condemned eternally to hell. After the Tribulation period, Christ will return again with the “army” of Christians in heaven, and the battle of Armageddon will be fought against the Anti-Christ and his armies. The latter will be slaughtered by Christ and his followers who will set up Christ’s kingdom on earth where he will reign for one thousand years, followed by the total and complete destruction of earth as Christ and his followers return to heaven.

Sounds like a scene from the movie “Independence Day”? Actually, that movie cannot begin to capture the heinous barbarity that Christian fascism fantasizes will befall the earth and those who reject Christ. That scenario is a bloodbath of unimaginable, avenging horrors. Note that not only will non-Christian human beings be decimated, but so will the earth itself, the outcome being twofold: Humans who do not submit to Jesus will be destroyed, and the planet itself will be annihilated. How delicious the vindication for the Cristo-fascist psyche! Not only will people who reject their Jesus be grotesquely punished, but their God will prove himself more powerful than the very planet on which they live. Obviously, no need here to worry about global warming -- at least the kind created by humans. God will incinerate the earth -- his own instantaneous global warming, triumphing over all enemies of both himself and the Christian fascists. As Hedges notes, these fantasies of monstrous cruelty are appealing to many within the Christian-fascist movement because “The loss of manufacturing jobs, lack of affordable health care, negligible opportunities for education and poor job security has left many millions of Americans locked out. This ideology is attractive because it offers them the hope of power and revenge. It sanctifies their rage.” And if any group of people on earth is enraged, it is the Cristo-fascists whose rancor is every bit as caustic and virulent as that of any Islamist fundamentalist on a suicide mission.

2) One reason Hedges labels these individuals fascist has not only to do with their positioning themselves on the political right, but specifically, their fanatical insistence on submission to theocratic government. Had George Orwell been a born-again Christian, twenty-first century Cristo-fascists would probably declare him a saint. (War is holy, and killing is sacred.) Their preferred polity is biblical totalitarianism in which the principles embraced by secular society are perceived as untrue and antithetical to their God and his Word. Unquestioning obedience to fundamentalist Christian theology and its resultant theocracy are the cornerstones of Cristo-fascism in twenty-first century America.

3) As a result, adherents are diametrically opposed to a secular world view and the tenets of modern science. As I have commented in other articles in recent years, fundamentalist Christianity generally distrusts, and often despises human reason. Millions of children in America are being home-schooled, and 75% of them are children from fundamentalist Christian homes. Home-schooling can offer an extraordinary alternative to attending public school, but for fundamentalist Christians, it serves, among other things, to shield their children not only from grappling with such issues as evolution and global warming, but learning the scientific method itself and the basic principles of critical thinking and logical analysis.

4)Cristo-fascism is overwhelmingly a white Anglo-American movement. While one sees growing numbers of African Americans and Hispanics joining their ranks, the movement remains predominantly white and rabidly Islamophobic. Most outspoken on this issue is San Antonio’s megachurch pastor, John Hagee, who perceives Islam as the new Satan which must be destroyed by Israel and the United States.

5) While Christian fascism cannot give enough lip service to the “culture of life” it is morbidly death-obsessed in its raging support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and capital punishment. The popularity of the grisly, sado-masochistic “The Passion Of The Christ” among fundamentalist Christians, as well as the Jesus Camp’s indoctrination of children to be willing and proud to “die for Jesus” further belie Cristo-fascism’s death fetish.

6) A new Christian Gestapo is in the works as the Christian right is working vehemently to take control of military chaplaincies and create in Hedges words, “America’s Holy Warriors.” He points out that during the last century communist and fascist movements each built paramilitary forces that operated beyond the reach of the law. The frightening popularity and proliferation of the private security firm, Blackwater, founded by a mega-millionaire right-wing Christian, Erik Prince, has not only become a giant mercenary force in Iraq, but was heavily used in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Increasingly, Cristo-fascists are becoming more blatant about their wish to force conversion to Christ through the barrel of a gun. A typical image of this concept, dripping with testosterone, may be viewed at the website of Force Ministries.

Just this week, conservative theologian, Doug Giles, appeared on Fox News arguing that Christian males should be tougher because “Jesus wasn’t a bearded lady”. Christians, he said, should stop raising nice boys and raise warriors who can fight terrorism.

In answer to the question of what is to be done, I would assert as I usually do: Knowledge is power. Fundamentalist Christianity is inherently delusional. One cannot reason with its adherents nor influence them with facts. What one can do is understand first of all that the United States has become a fascist empire. If one takes seriously Mussolini’s definition of fascism, “the corporate state”, then this nation was well on its way even before the ascendancy of the Bush II administration and September 11, 2001.

Furthermore, it is time for those who consider themselves politically progressive to stop “tolerating” Cristo-fascists. Certainly, these individuals have every right to believe whatever they choose to believe, but when one comprehends the inherently fascist nature of both their religion and their politics, one must necessarily confront not only their ghastly disregard for separation of church and state, but their implacable commitment to engineering a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in the United States.

The exponential growth of the Cristo-fascist movement in the past six years is yet another symptom of empire and a somnambulant society in the throes of collapse. Whether or not one embraces Christianity or any religion, for that matter, it is instructive to engage in reality-checking the actual teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, and specifically, the gospels and other sacred writings which were excluded from the bible in the fourth century for political and socio-economic reasons in order to streamline Constantine’s hierarchical, imperial, Christian regime -- the world’s first but not last, Christian theocracy. With that in mind, I highly recommend The Jesus Mysteries, by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D. is author of a forthcoming book, Coming Out from Christian Fundamentalism: Affirming Life, Love and The Sacred. Her recent book, U.S. HISTORY UNCENSORED: What Your High School Textbook! Didn’t Tell You, is available at her website:


“If the world is upside down the way it is now, wouldn’t we have to turn it over to get it to stand up straight?” - Eduardo Galeano

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. -- Edward R. Murrow

Israel's Kafkaesque "Matrix of Control" - by Stephen Lendman

Israel's Kafkaesque "Matrix of Control" - by Stephen Lendman

Finding an equitable solution to the intractable, festering decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Gordian Knot that must be cut to achieve peace overall in the Middle East. Today, no solution is in sight nor are any serious efforts planned to find one despite occasional rhetoric to the contrary like what's now being heard from Washington with similar disingenuous echos inside Israel.

Palestinians know otherwise from long experience. They've heard this siren song before. It's the same old tired refrain going nowhere and not intending to. The so-called "road map" goes nowhere, and the "peace process" guarantees only more conflict because Israel wants it that way to justify its harshness and refuses to discuss the most fundamental Palestinian concerns. Unless they're resolved there can never be peace. They include a sovereign integral independent Palestinian state, the Right of Return, status of Jerusalem Palestinians want as their capital, settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) that must be removed, and established borders. They also include ending what Palestinian-American scholar and activist Edward Said once called Israel's agenda of "refined viciousness" against the Palestinian people. Since Hamas' Palestinian Authority (PA) January, 2006 legislative electoral victory, there's been nothing "refined" about it.

As long as these issues and present conditions go unaddressed, this long-running tragedy will go on without end destroying the lives of new generations of young Palestinians who nonetheless continue their valiant struggle for freedom and justice even against overwhelming odds. Today they're greater than ever as the tiny Israeli state with six million Jews (including those in OPT settlements) is a world nuclear power compared to a virtually defenseless Palestinian population of about five million. Included are 1.4 million Arab Israeli citizens. They're denied all rights Israeli Jews get and are subjected to constant abuse and neglect. They're a fifth of the population but are forced to live on 2% of the land plus 1% more for agricultural use. The Jewish population gets nearly all the rest.

Another 3.9 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank only get the right to live under the boot of a hostile occupier. They live under "vicious" repression and are denied all rights including the fundamental one to their own home on their own land that may be bulldozed to rubble anytime for any reason because Israel wants the land for Jewish settlements and relentlessly takes it and the lives of many Palestinians as well.

Then there are the refugees. About five million are in the Palestinian diaspora including about 260,000 internally displaced and living inside Israel. Most others live within 100 miles of Israel's borders in neighboring Arab states. Half are in Jordan, 15% in Lebanon, another 15% in Syria while others live throughout the world including in other Arab countries like Egypt and the Gulf states. Many live with a dominant dream so far unfulfilled - the absolute universal "Right of Return" affirmed in UN Resolution 194 passed in December, 1948 resolving that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property....made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."

This "universal right" is also established in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and under various Geneva Conventions. Israel won't recognize it and adamantly refuses to include it in negotiations even though the Jewish state doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. In 1948-49, its leaders ethnically cleansed 800,000 Palestinians slaughtering many in the process. They also destroyed 531 of their villages in their "War of Independence" all Palestinians call the Nakba or catastrophe. Many refugees dream one day of returning to their homes, and all Palestinians want and deserve their own sovereign independent state never losing hope they'll get it.

Israel exacerbates their plight practicing a rigid policy of police state control while ignoring binding legal provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Its preamble cites the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Charter, that's also binding international law, stating "civil and political freedom....can only be achieved (if) everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights (and that it is the) obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote....human rights and freedoms (for everyone)."

Its many Articles also affirm:

-- The right of self-determination and freedom to freely determine one's political status and freely pursue one's economic, social and cultural development.

-- The inherent right to life and freedom from subjection to torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment and to be free from arbitrary arrest or detention or deprived of liberty.

-- The right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose one's residence.

-- The right freely leave any country and not be deprived of the right to return to it.

-- The right to freedom from arbitrary or unlawful interference with one's privacy, family, home or correspondence.

-- The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

-- The right to have equal access as all others to public services in one's country.

-- The right of all persons to equal protection of the law without discrimination.....and much more.

In the way it treats Palestinians, Israel willfully violates all the above provisions as state policy and has done so for six decades and gotten away with it. People of conscience must condemn this lawlessness and demand Israeli leaders be held accountable for their crimes of war and against humanity so the long-suffering Palestinians one day have the same rights and freedoms as all Israeli Jews. They and all others deserve no less.

Jeff Halper's Concept of An Israeli "Matrix of Control"

Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) based in Jerusalem. He's also a professor of anthropology at Ben Gurion University and has lived in Israel since 1973. ICAHD was originally formed as a non-violent, direct-action group to resist Israeli home demolitions in the OPT. It's activities now include resistance to settlements, land expropriation, fruit and olive tree uprootings and other crop destruction, bypass road construction, policies of "closure" and "separation," denial of civil and human rights, and all other elements of repression of a people under occupation it wants to help end to achieve an equitable and sustainable peace only possible once Palestinians have their own sovereign integral independent state.

Halper established the concept of a repressive "Matrix of Control" to explain how Israeli governments dominate Palestinian life. For these long-suffering people ever to achieve justice and a land of their own, this system chaining them in bondage must end. Here's how it works.

Halper explains it's composed of three layers of control. The first one is "physical control" of key "links and nodes." It's done through illegal OPT settlements on expropriated land, use of military zones, industrial parks, control of aquifers and other natural resources, checkpoints, control of all border crossings, a network of bypass roads for Jews only, national parks for recreation underneath which are former Palestinian villages destroyed and their history erased to make way for them, and the oppressive (World Court ruled) illegal Separation or Apartheid Wall claimed for security but, in fact, another part of a land grab and confinement agenda. It's being built to continue ethnically cleansing Palestinians and keep those remaining virtual prisoners in restricted cantonized OPT areas. They're isolated from and unconnected to others as part of Israel's policy of ghettoization, repression and social control.

Halper's second control layer is bureaucratic and legal encompassing a host of policies constricting Palestinians in a maze of procedures and restrictions. These include harassing zoning and other regulations governing the following:

-- Allowable home and village construction.

-- Building permit restrictions.

-- Home demolitions for violations of code.

-- Land expropriation designated for Israeli "public purposes."

-- Agricultural restrictions and crop destruction for violations.

-- Licensing and inspection of Palestinian businesses.

-- Closures anywhere, any time, for any reason.

-- Movement and travel restrictions within and outside the country.

-- Many other politically motivated harassing rules and regulations designed to make life impossible for people forced to abide by them. These are politically motivated actions confining Palestinians to designated enclaves or cantons. Israel claims they're legal, but, in fact, they're not. They deny fundamental human and civil rights guaranteed under numerous international laws, covenants, and protocols established by Geneva Conventions and the UN governing a broad definition of rights and freedoms including economic, social, cultural, political and other ones in peace and war.

Israel is a signatory to these laws yet flagrantly violates them. It's also brazenly ignored over five dozen UN Resolutions going back decades condemning or censuring it for its actions against the Palestinians or other Arab people, deploring it for committing them, or demanding, calling on or urging the Jewish state to end them. Israel flaunts the rule of law observing only what comes out of its Knesset. It arrogates to itself the right to act in its own interest, law or no law, and gets away with it because its supportive partner and paymaster in Washington winks and nods approval, funds it lavishly, and supplies it with the most modern weapons of war to use against any adversary. Palestinians, on the other hand, are vulnerable and defenseless. They have only crude weapons, their bodies and redoubtable spirit to use in self-defense.

Halper's third "Matrix" layer uses violence as a means of social and political control. It includes military occupation, mass imprisonment and routine use of torture as documented by Israeli human rights monitoring group B'Tselem saying it's flagrant and widespread and violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 1984 UN Convention Against Torture. It also relies on an elaborate use of collaborators, pressure on families to sell their land, and military and civil authority oppression in the OPT. All this is falsely justified in the name of security just like harsh US laws and their enforcement are here. In fact, they're just police state measures to harass and round up dissenters and control a restive population resisting a hostile government harming its welfare.

Most people in the US know little about what's happening in the OPT because information about it is suppressed in the corporate-controlled media. The Israeli public is better informed but not well enough about the "Matrix." Americans are willing to sacrifice some freedom for security not realizing when they do they lose both. Israelis, on the other hand, want peace and are willing to give up some territory for it. Palestinians, however, are victims and understand the "Matrix" well because they live under its harshness affecting their daily lives. Achieving their dream one day depends not only on gaining their own independent state, but also freeing themselves from "the key nodes of the Matrix" Halper explains do the following:

-- Gives Israel full control of all aspects of Palestinian life in the OPT.

-- Most often lowers Israel's military profile creating an image of administration and Israel's right to defend itself hiding the ugly reality on the ground of an oppressive occupier.

-- Creates a cramped space for a Palestinian cantonized mini-state relieving Israel of an obligation to service it.

-- Deflects international opposition beneath the cover of conventional administrative and bureaucratic mechanisms.

-- Creates deplorable conditions leading to despair and belief a truly sovereign independent state is unachievable hoping Palestinians will accept the crumbs offered them or give up and leave.

This bureaucratic web of containment disguises a hard line Kafkaesque system of social control and oppressive enforcement harshly treating anyone resisting it. Visible on the surface under a military head of a "Civil Administration" is a face of "proper administration, upholding the law, and keeping public order and security." It makes the occupation invisible except for its victims disciplined by it harsh rules. Halper describes the control mechanisms:

-- Military assaults against the civilian population and infrastructure (including targeted assassinations and willful collateral killing). It's now ongoing daily in Gaza and the West Bank and documented by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, B'Tselem and others on the ground.

-- Use of collaborators and undercover "mustarabi" army units, mass arrests, administrative detentions, (kangaroo court) trials and widespread torture of detainees.

-- Absence of civil law replaced by military rule supplemented by Civil Administration policies.

-- Mass expropriation of Palestinian land mostly in the OPT but also affecting Arab Israeli citizens.

-- Construction of over 200 settlements on occupied land for 400,000 Israeli Jews since 1967 in the West Bank including Palestinian East Jerusalem.

-- Dividing the OPT into Areas "A," "B," "C," and "D" in the West Bank; "H-1" and "H-2" in Hebron; nature reserves for Jews only; closed military areas; security zones; and "open green spaces" for Jewish-only housing developments in over half of East Jerusalem leaving Palestinians confined to unconnected cantons surrounded by Israeli settlements, restricted roads and checkpoints.

-- An interconnected restricted highway and bypass road system linking the settlements and effectively incorporating them into Israel proper like suburbs are to downtown areas of US cities.

-- Controlling aquifers and other key natural resources including rainfall Palestinians are forbidden to collect by law even though they have limited access to other water sources.

-- Controlling OPT holy places as pretexts to maintain a "security presence" there.

-- Maintaining permanent "closure" of the West Bank and Gaza.

-- Restricting movement using a discriminatory system of work, internal and external travel permits.

-- Schemes to displace those unwanted by exile, deportation and revoking residency rights.

-- Home demolitions, land expropriation, denial of basic services and impoverishment.

-- "Master plans" to continue settlement expansion and develop of new ones.

-- Agricultural restrictions along with hundreds of thousands of olive and fruit trees destroyed since 1967 and other crop land disrupted or expropriated.

-- Using various other means of social control and harassment against an unwanted people in a racist Jewish state wanted for Jews only.

All this is a scheme to traumatize, intimidate and break the will of the occupied people hoping they'll give up and leave vacating the land for Jewish development and settlement. It hasn't worked for six decades and never will because too much is at stake, and Palestinians, like Jews, want a land of their own land one day they intend to get. It worked for the Jews and one day will for Palestinians as well. But for decades Israel hasn't stopped trying to prevent it, and there's no sign it intends giving up. It has full support of its policies from the US, the West and most Arab states aligned with the Global North for benefits they receive believing sacrificing Palestinians' interests is a small price to pay.

Halper believes settlements are central to maintaining the "Matrix" because all other development is woven around them including connecting roads, industrial areas, military installations and zones, and the entire security scheme of checkpoints and other mechanisms of control. The only way to end the "Matrix" is to remove all settlements from the OPT, replacing checkpoints and border restrictions with normal transit arrangements just like in any other country or between them. It also means ending military occupation and rule allowing the Palestinians the right to a real integral state they govern freely and not Israeli dictated cantons unconnected to others that are effective open air prisons by any other name the way they're now conceived and laid out.

Life on the Ground Today in the OPT

Palestinians have endured six oppressive decades under Israeli rule, four of them in the OPT since Gaza and the West Bank were occupied after the 1967 war when the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) seized the Territories. Throughout this time, they faced the kinds of repressive harshness explained above including loss of their personal, political and economic freedoms and any chance for justice in a land only affording those rights to Jews.

For the Jewish "chosen people," Israel is a democratic state, but for non-Jews, especially Arab Muslims, it's their worst nightmare. It's a daily struggle to endure and survive in a hostile racist apartheid land wanting to exclude them from society, and all rights in it, and since 1948 has had an agenda of state-sponsored ethnic cleaning amounting to genocide to rid the land of most non-Jews and all Muslims making the state one for Jewish habitation only. This policy is no different than Nazi Germany's Nuremberg Laws governing Jews under that state's Racial Policy asserting Aryan race superiority. In Israel, Jews are the "Master Race" and Arabs are the persecuted "Jews."

That ideology shows in the demonizing characterization and depiction of Arabs by former Israeli prime minister and 1978 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Menechem Begin who once said: "Our (Jewish) race is the 'Master Race.' We are divine gods on this planet. We are as different from the inferior races as they are from insects....other races are beasts and animals, cattle at best. Our destiny is to rule over the inferior races. The masses will lick our feet and serve us as our slaves." Begin also called Palestinians "cockroaches" and "beasts walking on two legs." Ehud Barak referred to them as "crocodiles," and Golda Maier said "There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed."

With its leaders voicing these kinds of sentiments, it's no wonder Israel imposes harsh treatment on a people it equates with wild animals and insects it wants to eliminate. It makes life grim to impossible for Palestinians at all times, but it hit a new low after the democratic election of a Hamas government in January, 2006. Relations then deteriorated to a state of belligerency and chaos after the world community for the first time in history placed an occupied people under the siege of economic and political sanctions violating the Fourth Geneva Convention that obligates the international community to protect an occupied civilian population.

It wasn't to be and got far worse erupting into virtual warfare following Hamas' capture of an IDF soldier last June. Israel responded with overwhelming force in Gaza and the West Bank in an operation planned months earlier to destroy Hamas. It used the June incident as a pretext to launch it to with devastating results still ongoing mostly unreported and below the radar. What is reported in Western media refers to Palestinians and Muslims generally as militants, gunmen, terrorists, Islamic extremists, Islamofascists and more. Israelis, however, are always seen as victims defending themselves, even their pilots in US-supplied F-16s and helicopter gunships firing missiles against defenseless civilians in their crosshairs.

In the past seven months, these kinds of IDF assaults killed or wounded hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and children. Many hundreds more were arrested and held without charge in an operation raging daily adding to the intolerable toll already inflicted. The military also destroyed agricultural land; buildings (including government ones); homes and essential infrastructure including electricity and water to refugee camps; bridges; key roads and more. It's been done to make life intolerable for people as well as destroy the Hamas government Israel won't deal with because its leaders refuse to serve as Jewish state enforcers which the corrupted Fatah is always willing to do under its quisling leader, chairman Mahmoud Abbas. It's the reason he's seen publicly with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, and he's invited to meet with George Bush in the White House. "Real" democrats never get that "privilege."

Fatah corruption and its betrayal of its people is revealed in a document Palestinian activist, writer and lecturer Ali Abunimah obtained and reported on in his Electronic Intifada web site on January 27. It's an Israeli Ministry of Defense Powerpoint presentation showing more of the dark side of a racist apartheid bureaucracy. The document details some of what was covered above including movement restrictions, ethnic cleansing policies and collaboration with Palestinian traitors selling out their people for benefits Israel affords them.

It outlines Palestinian Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas' complicity with the Israeli government as well as an official inside glimpse into Israel's "Matrix of Control" with token easing of it to its collaborators and for PR purposes. Mentioned in it is the following:

-- the US supplying Fatah with millions of dollars of weapons and equipment for use to oust the democratically elected Hamas government.

-- Israel affording special privileges for "the movement of VIP and senior Palestinians (meaning Abbas and his allies) facilitating (their) movement without security checks."

-- Special permits for 505 Palestinian "businessmen" exempting them from pass laws forbidding overnight stays in Israel, fewer security checks and other privileges and benefits.

-- Allowing a privileged "42,899" Palestinian laborers to work in Israel and exempting 2000 agricultural ones from pass law requirements.

-- Restricting Palestinians with foreign passports called "foreign nationals" (including ones from the US and Europe) to tourist visitations totaling a cumulative 27 months stay. But even this limitation may be hardened with re-entry being denied those leaving the country for any reason.

-- Listing categories of "humanitarian" workers including religious ones, lawyers, teachers, and hospital and hotel workers less restricted by the pass laws.

In sum, this official document provides an example of Israeli repressive control that can be altered, hardened or manipulated any time in any way to suit a harsh colonial occupier. While making life intolerable for the vast majority of Palestinians, it affords its collaborators enough privileges and rule exemptions to buy them off so they'll go along with cracking down on their own people.

Doing it creates the harshness of the occupation that affects the entire OPT, but since last June Gaza got the worst of it. Renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger explained what's happening there is little reported in the West and almost totally ignored in the US corporate media that views the conflict through the prism of Jewish victims responding to Palestinian terrorists that, in fact, turns reality on its head.

On January 22, Pilger wrote an article called "Terror and starvation in Gaza." In it he referred to a genocide "engulfing the people of Gaza while a silence engulfs its bystanders." He quotes former Swedish foreign minister Jan Eliasson and former senior UN relief official Jan Egeland who describe a people "living in a cage, cut off by land, sea and air, with no reliable power and little water, and tortured by hunger and disease and incessant attacks by Israeli troops and planes." He added UK Doctor David Halpin's comment that the people of Gaza are going through a "medieval siege" will daily killings by artillery, rockets, air strikes and small arms.

Children have been especially affected, and Pilger quotes the results of a "remarkable (and horrifying) survey" told him by psychiatrist Khalid Dahlan. It showed 99.4% of children studied in Gaza suffered trauma because 99.2% of their homes were bombarded, 97.5% were exposed to tear gas, 96.6% witnessed shootings, 95.8% saw funerals resulting from bombardments, and nearly one-fourth saw family members injured or killed.

Pilger also cites the writing of Jewish Israeli Haaretz reporters Gideon Levy and Amira Hass. In November Levy wrote people were beginning to starve to death and that "There are thousands of wounded, disabled and shell-shocked people, unable to receive any treatment" in a cauldron he called "monstrous." Hass has lived in the West Bank and Gaza. She calls the Strip a prison shaming her people and reminding her of her mother's trevails when taken to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Nazi Germany in 1944. Pilger describes what's ongoing in the Territories as "Israeli atrocities" and condemns the US Congress, Western journalists and ordinary bystanders including Jews who know what's happening but stay silent out of cowardice or complicity with the powerful Zionist Lobby allowing the Israeli government to commit mass murder with impunity.

One example among many almost daily happened last November 8 when the IDF shelled Beit Hanoun in Gaza killing at least 18 civilians and wounding dozens more. It was barely reported in the West and faded quickly from the collective memory. On November 11, ironically the day commemorating the end of "the war to end all wars" - WW I, the US vetoed UN SC/8867 condemning the attack.

The resolution called on Israel "to scrupulously abide by its obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949." It also called for an end to violence in the OPT and requested the Secretary-General establish a fact-finding mission to investigate the incident. The US alone objected with its veto ending any hope for justice for the innocent people killed or hurt. The Western press ignored the vote as it's done dozens of other times when the US alone or with one or two small Pacific island allies (plus Israel) vetoed other resolutions condemning Israel for its abusive, hostile actions or that harmed Israeli interests. The Western press also ignores shocking new data showing an 85% poverty rate in Gaza with that percent of the population forced to get by on less than $2 a day.

Pilger's account of what goes on in Gaza also is part of daily life in the West Bank, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights documents it all in the OPT daily from its vantage point on the ground in the Territories. It makes for gruesome reading this writer covered in detail in a previous article. Overall these are grievous crimes of war and against humanity as are the rigidly enforced restrictions and regulations causing misery and death that are part of Israel's six decades-long planned ethnic cleansing, genocidal assault and daily harassment against virtually defenseless people fighting back to survive with only crude weapons and their bodies and spirit but paying a dreadful price doing it.

Look at some Israeli-imposed travel and routine movement restrictions Palestinians must endure just reported by Amira Hass on January 19 in Haaretz. She listed 16 prohibitions from information her paper got from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Machsom Watch. A few include:

-- Palestinians from Gaza are forbidden to stay in the West Bank.

-- Palestinians are forbidden to enter East Jerusalem.

-- Palestinians are forbidden to enter the Jordan Valley.

-- Palestinians are forbidden to enter Nablus in a vehicle.

-- Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are forbidden to enter Area A in the West Bank.

-- Palestinians are forbidden to use Ben-Gurion Airport for foreign travel.

-- Gaza residents aren't allowed to reside in the West Bank.

The other nine prohibitive regulations are just as restrictive and still others apply only periodically imposing even more hardships. If the word "Jews" is substituted for "Palestinians" in them, these rules sound like what Jews endured in Nazi Germany under their racist Nuremberg Laws in the 1930s and 40s.

Amira Hass included more of them documenting 75 manned checkpoints in the West Bank as of January 9, 2007 and about 150 mobile checkpoints as of last fall. In addition, there are 446 obstacles placed between roads and villages including concrete cubes, earth ramparts, 88 iron gates and 74 kilometers of fences along main roads. There are also 83 additional iron gates along the Separation Wall dividing lands from their owners with only 25 of them opening occasionally.

These impediments are part of daily life for Palestinians in the OPT. They're in place to harass and discourage those forced to live under them making life so intolerable people will want to leave for a better life elsewhere and become another country's problem.

They're also part of the long-running conflict planned in stages from when Israel first became a state. This conflict, in Halper's judgment, is "the single greatest cause of instability, extremism and violence in (the) region (but) is the simplest conflict in the world to resolve." He notes that Palestinian leaders for the past 20 years (including Hamas) and a large majority of Israelis and Palestinians support a Jewish state within pre-1967 war boundaries leaving the other 22% of the West Bank and Gaza for a sovereign integral independent Palestinian state free from Israeli occupation including the oppressive settlements making it impossible.

Another key to conflict resolution is the Right to Return that Israel must acknowledge under international law and abide by like all other civilized countries. Halper notes Palestinian sociologist Khalil Shkaki conducted an extensive survey finding only about 10% of refugees (around 500,000 today), mainly the aged, wish to settle in Israel. That's a number the Jewish state can easily absorb if there's political will to do it, but so far there's none nor any hint of any forthcoming. It's because Israel bases its strategy for regional dominance and acceptance on an agenda of conflict and territorial expansion gotten by iron-fisted militarism supported and funded by the US with the West overall going along. Israel also believes the Palestinians are irrelevant, and it can make separate peace and other arrangements with Arab countries and the Muslim world overall.

Halper thinks otherwise saying the Palestinians have a critical "trump card: They are the gatekeepers to the Middle East" in his judgment. For Muslims, this unresolved conflict defines the so-called "clash of civilizations" along with Israel settling territorial disputes with Syria and Lebanon. For Halper, solving this conflict is key to Israel's ability to normalize relations with its Arab neighbors and other Muslim countries as achieving it can weaken the forces of anti-Israeli fundamentalism and militarism fueling conflict. But as long as Israel remains obstinate continuing to deny Palestinians their right to self-determination and maintains its repressive occupation, no progress to peace is possible, all the disingenuous rhetoric about seeking it notwithstanding.

A Look Ahead For Hopeful Change

Looking ahead, the question then is can this policy of hostility and aggression ever work, or in the end, will it fail. Israel believes it can muddle through as it has for six decades. So far, it succeeded because its Arab neighbors in the past were too weak to contest (and still are) and now prefer allying with the West and tolerating Israel at the expense of aiding the Palestinians. Most of all, Israel has a powerful ally in the US, and each country serves the other's interests. It's also supported by the West that up to now has turned a blind eye on the region's most intractable problem thinking in time it may go away or not matter much if it doesn't.

But that kind of thinking has gotten nowhere since 1948, and that's proof enough it never will. Despite everything Palestinians have endured, Israeli's military might never broke their redoubtable spirit nor likely ever will. That being so, it begs the question why the Jewish state continues a failed policy and is unwilling to try a new approach based on rapprochement. Halper believes that kind of effort can achieve a real and lasting peace, and if it's undertaken can progress quickly toward final resolution acceptable to both sides and benefitting the entire region.

It has to happen sooner or later because eventually the international community won't continue tolerating a policy becoming too costly to back. It may be heading toward it already because of the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon over the summer showing US and Israeli belligerency failed and it's time for an alternate course. The international community may push a conflict resolution agenda even harder in light of US hawkishness toward Iran threatening an even wider and much more dangerous regional war. Black propaganda to the contrary, it's unrelated to Iran's legal commercial nuclear program. It's all about Washington's nearly three decade resolve for regime change in a country unwilling to surrender its sovereignty and submit to US imperial management rules. Rule number one explains "who's boss" with no toleration of outliers or disobedience.

Palestinians aren't waiting for conflict resolution or for Israel to see the error of its ways and decide to pursue real peace. They intend keeping up the struggle for their rights and freedoms and an end to six decades of colonial abuse and repression. They took their fight to the seventh World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in late January and first one ever held on the African continent. A 30 member delegation attended representing all major Palestinian community and NGO networks operating in the OPT, Israel and Lebanon. It came to issue a political statement to the world and call to action on Palestine for help in their struggle for "freedom, justice and (a) durable peace" and an end to 60 years of repression. It wants to build a "global Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends its apartheid-like regime of discrimination, occupation and colonization, and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons)."

It advocates "Consumer boycotts of Israeli products; boycott of Israeli academic, athletic and cultural events and institutions complicit in human rights abuses; divestment from Israeli companies, as well as international corporations involved in perpetuating injustice, and pressuring governments to impose sanctions on Israel...."

The delegation stressed "official diplomacy has failed in enforcing scores of UN resolutions law (to end) Israel's occupation, colonization, displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people." It condemned "US-led Middle East diplomacy, favoring military intervention and unilateralism (and its complicity with Israel) in wars and occupation in Iraq and Lebanon (and) Israel's colonial regime in Palestine (and Washington's active encouragement of) division and civil war in the region (with) the US and the entire Quartet (comprised of the US, UN, European Union and Russia) part of the problem in the region (not the solution)."

The Palestinian delegation called on people of conscience and civil society everywhere to join their struggle denouncing Israel as a pariah state and to work cooperatively for "justice and peace (in) the Middle East (and) reconciliation and coexistence for everyone in the region, based on equality and mutual respect for international law and fundamental human rights." Organized actions like these ended the oppressive South African apartheid regime that once had full support of the US and the West. They can achieve the same result with Israel if enforced long enough with teeth, and they must be. Eventually this will happen in one form or other, and it'll work because repression can never be sustained forever and won't be. The sooner Israel accepts that, the quicker real peace will come to the Middle East, and it can't happen any too soon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at
posted by SteveLendman @ 7:02 AM

US troops will stay in Iraq, and the war will get worse

Bush and Baker agree that the country is much too important to American interests to be left to its own devices

Ed Harriman

The war in Iraq is intensifying. More American combat troops are arriving. They are in more battles with insurgents. And from Washington there is a crescendo of briefings accusing the Iranians of flooding Iraq with money and weapons and even of arming Sunni insurgents. We shouldn't be surprised - this is what George Bush and his war planners intended. Even the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, in its report before Christmas, said it could support a short-term "surge" to try and regain control of Baghdad.

The bottom line is that the president, the study group and most Washington policy-makers want to get as many US combat troops as they can out of Iraq by the US presidential elections in 2008. But that doesn't mean pulling out.

Consider the study group's "solution", which is widely considered "realistic" and is common ground with the administration. If the official Iraqi army and police can somehow be miraculously turned into efficient, disciplined, and loyal fighting forces, then US troops can leave and Iraqis will be left to kill each other. That would nicely reduce both the estimated $8bn a month cost of the war, and US casualties.

In addition, the study group wants some 10,000 to 20,000 US troops, mostly officers, to stay, embedded in the Iraqi units down to company level. US forces would also "assist Iraqi-deployed brigades with intelligence, transportation, air support, and logistics support, as well as providing some key equipment", in other words, just about everything that makes up a modern army.

As if that weren't enough, the US should leave behind "rapid-reaction and special operations teams". These, presumably, could include covert operations such as assassinations and bombings, thwarting or encouraging coups and squaring up to the Iranians on the border. So much for Iraqi sovereignty.

But Washington's war planners have an enormous problem largely of their own making. The Iraqi army and police upon whom even cosmetic US withdrawal is supposed to depend are woefully under-trained, poorly equipped, riddled with corruption and heavily infiltrated by insurgents and militias.

In the heyday of Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority, now nearly four years ago, the Americans had big plans for the Saddam-free police and army. But as US troops pulverised Najaf and Falluja, most of the new Iraqi soldiers and policemen refused to fight, and many openly collaborated with their countrymen.

Soon after Bremer quit Iraq, in the summer of 2004, the US had a big rethink. Some $3bn intended to provide Iraqis with water, sanitation and electricity was grabbed to pay for the new Iraqi security forces, which became the biggest item of American "reconstruction" spending.

The approach proved as self-serving as other reconstruction projects. Hugely expensive no-bid contracts were awarded to US firms, which took massive profits and delivered next to nothing. Staff rioted over pay at DynCorp's big police training camp in Jordan.

Police and army barracks fared no better. Of the $7.3m spent building a police academy in Hillah, south of Baghdad, much went to corrupt US officials. In a report just published, the auditors found Dyncorp was paid $43.8m for another police camp in Baghdad that was never used, including $4.2m for a VIP compound with a swimming pool.

As for weaponry, Iraqi investigators discovered that during Iyad Allawi's interim government the Iraqi defence ministry spent some $1.3bn on fraudulent contracts, all undertaken while American advisers were working within the ministry.

The miserable fact is that today the Iraqi army still can't repair and overhaul by itself the useable weapons and vehicles it does have. Nor can it supply food, fuel and ammunition to its units, nor even move troops and patch them up when they're wounded. American commanders can't even say how many Iraqis they've trained in logistics. The Pentagon refuses to give Congress meaningful data about the combat-readiness of American-trained Iraqi forces.

As for the Iraqi police, the Americans are powerless within a Shia-controlled interior ministry rife with torture, death squads and thousands of ghost employees on the payroll. Millions of dollars-worth of new hardware have gone missing, including more than 13,000 Glock 9mm pistols, now probably in the hands of the militias.

The study group's solution to this legacy of gross incompetence and corruption is to transfer the paramilitary Iraqi national police and border guards (now within the interior ministry) to the defence ministry. This would neatly put them under the thumb of US military advisers, leaving the interior ministry with Iraq's detectives and cops on the beat. Fat chance. To many Shias this looks suspiciously like a crude attempt to disarm them.

The unpleasant truth is that George Bush, James Baker's study group and many who support them agree that Iraq is much too important to American interests to be trusted entirely to the Iraqis. They also agree that US troops are going to stay in Iraq to fight on their own and to run the Iraqi army. Which means the war will get worse. Which means there are going to be a lot more dead Iraqis even if - and it's a big if - there are fewer body bags carrying dead US soldiers by the next American elections.

· Ed Harriman writes on Iraq for the London Review of Books and made the film Secrets of the Iraq War for ITV

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Day One, The War With Iran - a grim prediction

By Douglas Herman

The war began as planned. The Israeli pilots took off well before dawn and streaked across Lebanon and northern Iraq, high above Kirkuk. Flying US-made F-15 and F-16s, the Israelis separated over the mountains of western Iran, the pilots gesturing a last minute show of confidence in their mission, maintaining radio silence.

Just before the sun rose over Tehran, moments before the Muslim call to prayer, the missiles struck their targets. While US Air Force AWACS planes circled overhead--listening, watching, recording--heavy US bombers followed minutes later. Bunker-busters and mini-nukes fell on dozens of targets while Iranian anti-aircraft missiles sped skyward.

The ironically named Bushehr nuclear power plant crumbled to dust. Russian technicians and foreign nationals scurried for safety. Most did not make it.

Targets in Saghand and Yazd, all of them carefully chosen many months before by Pentagon planners, were destroyed. The uranium enrichment facility in Natanz; a heavy water plant and radioisotope facility in Arak; the Ardekan Nuclear Fuel Unit; the Uranium Conversion Facility and Nuclear Technology Center in Isfahan; were struck simultaneously by USAF and Israeli bomber groups.

The Tehran Nuclear Research Center, the Tehran Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production Facility, the Tehran Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Laboratories, the Kalaye Electric Company in the Tehran suburbs were destroyed.

Iranian fighter jets rose in scattered groups. At least those Iranian fighter planes that had not been destroyed on the ground by swift and systematic air strikes from US and Israeli missiles. A few Iranian fighters even launched missiles, downing the occasional attacker, but American top guns quickly prevailed in the ensuing dogfights.

The Iranian air force, like the Iranian navy, never really knew what hit them. Like the slumbering US sailors at Pearl Harbor, the pre-dawn, pre-emptive attack wiped out fully half the Iranian defense forces in a matter of hours.

By mid-morning, the second and third wave of US/Israeli raiders screamed over the secondary targets. The only problem now, the surprising effectiveness of the Iranian missile defenses. The element of surprise lost, US and Israeli warplanes began to fall from the skies in considerable numbers to anti-aircraft fire.

At 7:35 AM, Tehran time, the first Iranian anti-ship missile destroyed a Panamanian oil tanker, departing from Kuwait and bound for Houston. Launched from an Iranian fighter plane, the Exocet split the ship in half and set the ship ablaze in the Strait of Hormuz. A second and third tanker followed, black smoke billowing from the broken ships before they blew up and sank. By 8:15 AM, all ship traffic on the Persian Gulf had ceased.

US Navy ships, ordered earlier into the relative safety of the Indian Ocean, south of their base in Bahrain, launched counter strikes. Waves of US fighter planes circled the burning wrecks in the bottleneck of Hormuz but the Iranian fighters had fled.

At 9 AM, Eastern Standard Time, many hours into the war, CNN reported a squadron of suicide Iranian fighter jets attacking the US Navy fleet south of Bahrain. Embedded reporters aboard the ships--sending live feeds directly to a rapt audience of Americans just awakening--reported all of the Iranian jets destroyed, but not before the enemy planes launched dozens of Exocet and Sunburn anti-ship missiles. A US aircraft carrier, cruiser and two destroyers suffered direct hits. The cruiser blew up and sank, killing 600 men. The aircraft carrier sank an hour later.

By mid-morning, every military base in Iran was partially or wholly destroyed. Sirens blared and fires blazed from hundreds of fires. Explosions rocked Tehran and the electrical power failed. The Al Jazeerah news station in Tehran took a direct hit from a satellite bomb, leveling the entire block.

At 9:15 AM, Baghdad time, the first Iranian missile struck the Green Zone. For the next thirty minutes a torrent of missiles landed on GPS coordinates carefully selected by Shiite militiamen with cell phones positioned outside the Green Zone and other permanent US bases. Although US and Israeli bomber pilots had destroyed 90% of the Iranian missiles, enough Shahabs remained to fully destroy the Green Zone, the Baghdad airport, and a US Marine base. Thousands of unsuspecting US soldiers died in the early morning barrage. Not surprisingly, CNN and Fox withheld the great number of casualties from American viewers.

By 9:30 AM, gas stations on the US east coast began to raise their prices. Slowly at first and then altogether in a panic, the prices rose. $4 a gallon, and then $5 and then $6, the prices skyrocketed. Worried motorists, rushing from work, roared into the nearest gas station, radios blaring the latest reports of the pre-emptive attack on Iran. While fistfights broke out in gas stations everywhere, the third Middle Eastern war had begun.

In Washington DC, the spin began minutes after the first missile struck its intended target. The punitive strike--not really a war said the harried White House spokesman--would further democracy and peace in the Middle East. Media pundits mostly followed the party line. By ridding Iran of weapons of mass destruction, Donald Rumsfeld declared confidently on CNN, Iran might follow in the footsteps of Iraq, and enjoy the hard won fruits of freedom.

The president scheduled a speech at 2 PM. Gas prices rose another two dollars before then. China and Japan threatened to dump US dollars. Gold rose $120 an ounce. The dollar plummeted against the Euro.

CNN reported violent, anti-American protests in Paris, London, Rome, Berlin and Dublin. Fast food franchises throughout Europe, carrying American corporate logos, were firebombed.

A violent coup toppled the pro-American Pakistan president. On the New York Stock Exchange, prices fell in a frenzy of trading--except for the major petroleum producers. A single, Iranian Shahab missile struck Tel Aviv, destroying an entire city block. Israel vowed revenge, and threatened a nuclear strike on Tehran, before a hastily called UN General Assembly in New York City eased tensions.

An orange alert in New York City suddenly reddened to a full-scale terror alarm when a package detonated on a Manhattan subway. Mayor Bloomberg declared martial law. Governor Pataki ordered the New York National Guard fully mobilized, mobilizing what few national guardsmen remained in the state.

President Bush looked shaken at 2 PM. The scroll below the TV screen reported Persian Gulf nations halting production of oil until the conflict could be resolved peacefully. Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, announced a freeze in oil deliveries to the US would begin immediately. Tony Blair offered to mediate peace negotiations, between the US and Israel and Iran, but was resoundingly rejected.

By 6 PM, Eastern Standard Time, gas prices had stabilized at just below $10 a gallon. A Citgo station in Texas, near Fort Sam Houston Army base, was firebombed. No one claimed responsibility. Terrorism was not ruled out.

At sunset, the call to prayer--in Tehran, Baghdad, Islamabad, Ankara, Jerusalem, Jakarta, Riyadh--sounded uncannily like the buzzing of enraged bees.


USAF veteran, Douglas Herman correctly predicted the aftermath of the attack on Iraq in his column: Shock & Awe Followed by Block-To-Block. A Rense contributer, he is the author of The Guns of Dallas, available at Contact him at
TELL THE TRUTH - Mos Def - Immortal Technique - Eminem denounce the September 11th lie

Three of the most famous US rap stars, Mb Def, Immortal Technique and Eminem composed a song to denounce the September 11th lie : “ Tell the Truth, Nigga ! ”.

Directed by: The last baboon.

Song’s lyrics:

Man, you hear this bullshit they be talkin’
Every day, man
It’s like these motherfuckers is just like professional liars
YouknowwhatI’msayin? It’s wild

Bin Laden didn’t blow up the projects
It was you, nigga
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga

Bin Laden didn’t blow up the projects
It was you, nigga
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)

I pledge no allegiance, nigga fuck the president’s speeches
I’m baptized by America and covered in leeches
The dirty water that bleaches your soul and your facial features
Drownin’ you in propaganda that they spit through the speakers
And if you speak about the evil that the government does
The Patriot Act’ll track you to the type of your blood
They try to frame you, and say you was tryna sell drugs
And throw a federal indictment on niggaz to show you love
This shit is run by fake Christians, fake politicians
Look at they mansions, then look at the conditions you live in
All they talk about is terrorism on television
They tell you to listen, but they don’t really tell you they mission
They funded Al-Qaeda, and now they blame the Muslim religion
Even though Bin Laden, was a CIA tactician
They gave him billions of dollars, and they funded his purpose
Fahrenheit 9/11, that’s just scratchin’ the surface

Bin Laden didn’t blow up the projects
It was you, nigga
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga

Bin Laden didn’t blow up the projects
It was you, nigga
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga

They say the rebels in Iraq still fight for Saddam
But that’s bullshit, I’ll show you why it’s totally wrong
Cuz if another country invaded the hood tonight
It’d be warfare through Harlem, and Washington Heights
I wouldn’t be fightin’ for Bush or White America’s dream
I’d be fightin’ for my people’s survival and self-esteem
I wouldn’t fight for racist churches from the south, my nigga
I’d be fightin’ to keep the occupation out, my nigga
You ever clock someone who talk shit, or look at you wrong?
Imagine if they shot at you, and was rapin’ your moms
And of course Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons
We sold him that shit, after Ronald Reagan’s election
Mercenary contractors fightin’ a new era
Corporate military bankin’ off the war on terror
They controllin’ the ghetto, with the failed attack
Tryna distract the fact that they engineerin’ the crack
So I’m strapped like Lee Malvo holdin’ a sniper rifle
These bullets’ll touch your kids, and I don’t mean like Michael
Your body be sent to the morgue, stripped down and recycled
I fire on house niggaz that support you and like you
Cuz innocent people get murdered in the struggle daily
And poor people never get shit and struggle daily
This ain’t no alien conspiracy theory, this shit is real
Written on the dollar underneath the Masonic seal

(I don’t rap for dead presidents
I’d rather see the president dead
It’s never been said but I set precedents)

Bin Laden didn’t blow up the projects
It was you, nigga
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga

Bin Laden didn’t blow up the projects
It was you, nigga
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga

(Shady Records was 80 seconds away from the towers
Some cowards fucked with the wrong building, they meant to hit ours)

Empire v. Democracy - Why Nemesis Is at Our Door By Chalmers Johnson

Empire v. Democracy
Why Nemesis Is at Our Door

By Chalmers Johnson

History tells us that one of the most unstable political combinations is a country -- like the United States today -- that tries to be a domestic democracy and a foreign imperialist. Why this is so can be a very abstract subject. Perhaps the best way to offer my thoughts on this is to say a few words about my new book, Nemesis, and explain why I gave it the subtitle, "The Last Days of the American Republic." Nemesis is the third book to have grown out of my research over the past eight years. I never set out to write a trilogy on our increasingly endangered democracy, but as I kept stumbling on ever more evidence of the legacy of the imperialist pressures we put on many other countries as well as the nature and size of our military empire, one book led to another.

Professionally, I am a specialist in the history and politics of East Asia. In 2000, I published Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, because my research on China, Japan, and the two Koreas persuaded me that our policies there would have serious future consequences. The book was noticed at the time, but only after 9/11 did the CIA term I adapted for the title -- "blowback" -- become a household word and my volume a bestseller.

I had set out to explain how exactly our government came to be so hated around the world. As a CIA term of tradecraft, "blowback" does not just mean retaliation for things our government has done to, and in, foreign countries. It refers specifically to retaliation for illegal operations carried out abroad that were kept totally secret from the American public. These operations have included the clandestine overthrow of governments various administrations did not like, the training of foreign militaries in the techniques of state terrorism, the rigging of elections in foreign countries, interference with the economic viability of countries that seemed to threaten the interests of influential American corporations, as well as the torture or assassination of selected foreigners. The fact that these actions were, at least originally, secret meant that when retaliation does come -- as it did so spectacularly on September 11, 2001 -- the American public is incapable of putting the events in context. Not surprisingly, then, Americans tend to support speedy acts of revenge intended to punish the actual, or alleged, perpetrators. These moments of lashing out, of course, only prepare the ground for yet another cycle of blowback.

A World of Bases

As a continuation of my own analytical odyssey, I then began doing research on the network of 737 American military bases we maintained around the world (according to the Pentagon's own 2005 official inventory). Not including the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, we now station over half a million U.S. troops, spies, contractors, dependents, and others on military bases located in more than 130 countries, many of them presided over by dictatorial regimes that have given their citizens no say in the decision to let us in.

As but one striking example of imperial basing policy: For the past sixty-one years, the U.S. military has garrisoned the small Japanese island of Okinawa with 37 bases. Smaller than Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, Okinawa is home to 1.3 million people who live cheek-by-jowl with 17,000 Marines of the 3rd Marine Division and the largest U.S. installation in East Asia -- Kadena Air Force Base. There have been many Okinawan protests against the rapes, crimes, accidents, and pollution caused by this sort of concentration of American troops and weaponry, but so far the U. S. military -- in collusion with the Japanese government -- has ignored them. My research into our base world resulted in The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, written during the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

As our occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq turned into major fiascoes, discrediting our military leadership, ruining our public finances, and bringing death and destruction to hundreds of thousands of civilians in those countries, I continued to ponder the issue of empire. In these years, it became ever clearer that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their supporters were claiming, and actively assuming, powers specifically denied to a president by our Constitution. It became no less clear that Congress had almost completely abdicated its responsibilities to balance the power of the executive branch. Despite the Democratic sweep in the 2006 election, it remains to be seen whether these tendencies can, in the long run, be controlled, let alone reversed.

Until the 2004 presidential election, ordinary citizens of the United States could at least claim that our foreign policy, including our illegal invasion of Iraq, was the work of George Bush's administration and that we had not put him in office. After all, in 2000, Bush lost the popular vote and was appointed president thanks to the intervention of the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. But in November 2004, regardless of claims about voter fraud, Bush actually won the popular vote by over 3.5 million ballots, making his regime and his wars ours.

Whether Americans intended it or not, we are now seen around the world as approving the torture of captives at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Bagram Air Base in Kabul, at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at a global network of secret CIA prisons, as well as having endorsed Bush's claim that, as commander-in-chief in "wartime," he is beyond all constraints of the Constitution or international law. We are now saddled with a rigged economy based on record-setting trade and fiscal deficits, the most secretive and intrusive government in our country's memory, and the pursuit of "preventive" war as a basis for foreign policy. Don't forget as well the potential epidemic of nuclear proliferation as other nations attempt to adjust to and defend themselves against Bush's preventive wars, while our own already staggering nuclear arsenal expands toward first-strike primacy and we expend unimaginable billions on futuristic ideas for warfare in outer space.

The Choice Ahead

By the time I came to write Nemesis, I no longer doubted that maintaining our empire abroad required resources and commitments that would inevitably undercut, or simply skirt, what was left of our domestic democracy and that might, in the end, produce a military dictatorship or -- far more likely -- its civilian equivalent. The combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, an ever growing economic dependence on the military-industrial complex and the making of weaponry, and ruinous military expenses as well as a vast, bloated "defense" budget, not to speak of the creation of a whole second Defense Department (known as the Department of Homeland Security) has been destroying our republican structure of governing in favor of an imperial presidency. By republican structure, of course, I mean the separation of powers and the elaborate checks and balances that the founders of our country wrote into the Constitution as the main bulwarks against dictatorship and tyranny, which they greatly feared.

We are on the brink of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire. Once a nation starts down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play -- isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy.

History is instructive on this dilemma. If we choose to keep our empire, as the Roman republic did, we will certainly lose our democracy and grimly await the eventual blowback that imperialism generates. There is an alternative, however. We could, like the British Empire after World War II, keep our democracy by giving up our empire. The British did not do a particularly brilliant job of liquidating their empire and there were several clear cases where British imperialists defied their nation's commitment to democracy in order to hang on to foreign privileges. The war against the Kikuyu in Kenya in the 1950s and the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956 are particularly savage examples of that. But the overall thrust of postwar British history is clear: the people of the British Isles chose democracy over imperialism.

In her book The Origins of Totalitarianism, the political philosopher Hannah Arendt offered the following summary of British imperialism and its fate:

"On the whole it was a failure because of the dichotomy between the nation-state's legal principles and the methods needed to oppress other people permanently. This failure was neither necessary nor due to ignorance or incompetence. British imperialists knew very well that 'administrative massacres' could keep India in bondage, but they also knew that public opinion at home would not stand for such measures. Imperialism could have been a success if the nation-state had been willing to pay the price, to commit suicide and transform itself into a tyranny. It is one of the glories of Europe, and especially of Great Britain, that she preferred to liquidate the empire."
I agree with this judgment. When one looks at Prime Minister Tony Blair's unnecessary and futile support of Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq, one can only conclude that it was an atavistic response, that it represented a British longing to relive the glories -- and cruelties -- of a past that should have been ancient history.

As a form of government, imperialism does not seek or require the consent of the governed. It is a pure form of tyranny. The American attempt to combine domestic democracy with such tyrannical control over foreigners is hopelessly contradictory and hypocritical. A country can be democratic or it can be imperialistic, but it cannot be both.

The Road to Imperial Bankruptcy

The American political system failed to prevent this combination from developing -- and may now be incapable of correcting it. The evidence strongly suggests that the legislative and judicial branches of our government have become so servile in the presence of the imperial Presidency that they have largely lost the ability to respond in a principled and independent manner. Even in the present moment of congressional stirring, there seems to be a deep sense of helplessness. Various members of Congress have already attempted to explain how the one clear power they retain -- to cut off funds for a disastrous program -- is not one they are currently prepared to use.

So the question becomes, if not Congress, could the people themselves restore Constitutional government? A grass-roots movement to abolish secret government, to bring the CIA and other illegal spying operations and private armies out of the closet of imperial power and into the light, to break the hold of the military-industrial complex, and to establish genuine public financing of elections may be at least theoretically conceivable. But given the conglomerate control of our mass media and the difficulties of mobilizing our large and diverse population, such an opting for popular democracy, as we remember it from our past, seems unlikely.

It is possible that, at some future moment, the U.S. military could actually take over the government and declare a dictatorship (though its commanders would undoubtedly find a gentler, more user-friendly name for it). That is, after all, how the Roman republic ended -- by being turned over to a populist general, Julius Caesar, who had just been declared dictator for life. After his assassination and a short interregnum, it was his grandnephew Octavian who succeeded him and became the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar. The American military is unlikely to go that route. But one cannot ignore the fact that professional military officers seem to have played a considerable role in getting rid of their civilian overlord, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The new directors of the CIA, its main internal branches, the National Security Agency, and many other key organs of the "defense establishment" are now military (or ex-military) officers, strongly suggesting that the military does not need to take over the government in order to control it. Meanwhile, the all-volunteer army has emerged as an ever more separate institution in our society, its profile less and less like that of the general populace.

Nonetheless, military coups, however decorous, are not part of the American tradition, nor that of the officer corps, which might well worry about how the citizenry would react to a move toward open military dictatorship. Moreover, prosecutions of low-level military torturers from Abu Ghraib prison and killers of civilians in Iraq have demonstrated to enlisted troops that obedience to illegal orders can result in dire punishment in a situation where those of higher rank go free. No one knows whether ordinary soldiers, even from what is no longer in any normal sense a citizen army, would obey clearly illegal orders to oust an elected government or whether the officer corps would ever have sufficient confidence to issue such orders. In addition, the present system already offers the military high command so much -- in funds, prestige, and future employment via the famed "revolving door" of the military-industrial complex -- that a perilous transition to anything like direct military rule would make little sense under reasonably normal conditions.

Whatever future developments may prove to be, my best guess is that the U.S. will continue to maintain a façade of Constitutional government and drift along until financial bankruptcy overtakes it. Of course, bankruptcy will not mean the literal end of the U.S. any more than it did for Germany in 1923, China in 1948, or Argentina in 2001-2002. It might, in fact, open the way for an unexpected restoration of the American system -- or for military rule, revolution, or simply some new development we cannot yet imagine.

Certainly, such a bankruptcy would mean a drastic lowering of our standard of living, a further loss of control over international affairs, a sudden need to adjust to the rise of other powers, including China and India, and a further discrediting of the notion that the United States is somehow exceptional compared to other nations. We will have to learn what it means to be a far poorer country -- and the attitudes and manners that go with it. As Anatol Lieven, author of America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism, observes:

"U.S. global power, as presently conceived by the overwhelming majority of the U.S. establishment, is unsustainable. . . The empire can no longer raise enough taxes or soldiers, it is increasingly indebted, and key vassal states are no longer reliable. . . The result is that the empire can no longer pay for enough of the professional troops it needs to fulfill its self-assumed imperial tasks."
In February 2006, the Bush administration submitted to Congress a $439 billion defense appropriation budget for fiscal year 2007. As the country enters 2007, the administration is about to present a nearly $100 billion supplementary request to Congress just for the Iraq and Afghan wars. At the same time, the deficit in the country's current account -- the imbalance in the trading of goods and services as well as the shortfall in all other cross-border payments from interest income and rents to dividends and profits on direct investments -- underwent its fastest ever quarterly deterioration. For 2005, the current account deficit was $805 billion, 6.4% of national income. In 2005, the U.S. trade deficit, the largest component of the current account deficit, soared to an all-time high of $725.8 billion, the fourth consecutive year that America's trade debts set records. The trade deficit with China alone rose to $201.6 billion, the highest imbalance ever recorded with any country. Meanwhile, since mid-2000, the country has lost nearly three million manufacturing jobs.

To try to cope with these imbalances, on March 16, 2006, Congress raised the national debt limit from $8.2 trillion to $8.96 trillion. This was the fourth time since George W. Bush took office that it had to be raised. The national debt is the total amount owed by the government and should not be confused with the federal budget deficit, the annual amount by which federal spending exceeds revenue. Had Congress not raised the debt limit, the U.S. government would not have been able to borrow more money and would have had to default on its massive debts.

Among the creditors that finance these unprecedented sums, the two largest are the central banks of China (with $853.7 billion in reserves) and Japan (with $831.58 billion in reserves), both of which are the managers of the huge trade surpluses these countries enjoy with the United States. This helps explain why our debt burden has not yet triggered what standard economic theory would dictate: a steep decline in the value of the U.S. dollar followed by a severe contraction of the American economy when we found we could no longer afford the foreign goods we like so much. So far, both the Chinese and Japanese governments continue to be willing to be paid in dollars in order to sustain American purchases of their exports.

For the sake of their own domestic employment, both countries lend huge amounts to the American treasury, but there is no guarantee of how long they will want to, or be able to do so. Marshall Auerback, an international financial strategist, says we have become a "Blanche Dubois economy" (so named after the leading character in the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire) heavily dependent on "the kindness of strangers." Unfortunately, in our case, as in Blanche's, there are ever fewer strangers willing to support our illusions.

So my own hope is that -- if the American people do not find a way to choose democracy over empire -- at least our imperial venture will end not with a nuclear bang but a financial whimper. From the present vantage point, it certainly seems a daunting challenge for any President (or Congress) from either party even to begin the task of dismantling the military-industrial complex, ending the pall of "national security" secrecy and the "black budgets" that make public oversight of what our government does impossible, and bringing the president's secret army, the CIA, under democratic control. It's evident that Nemesis -- in Greek mythology the goddess of vengeance, the punisher of hubris and arrogance -- is already a visitor in our country, simply biding her time before she makes her presence known.

Chalmers Johnson is a retired professor of Asian Studies at the University of California, San Diego. From 1968 until 1972 he served as a consultant to the Office of National Estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency. Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, the final volume in his Blowback Trilogy, is just now being published. In 2006 he appeared in the prize-winning documentary film Why We Fight.