Wednesday, January 30, 2008

'The United States is so broke, its people at every level from the Federal Reserve on down don't know whether to shit or go blind'

Fullblown Panic

January 21, 2008

Knees knocked last week from sea to shining sea as the shape-shifting monster of economic reality cut a swathe of destruction through the markets and financial ranks. The exact nature of this giant beast still remained largely concealed in a fog of accounting gambits, policy blusters, and reporting dodges, but a few intrepid scouts who glimpsed the behemoth up close said it looked like Godzilla with Herbert Hoover's face.

George W. Bush, tried to appease the beast by offering each American adult the dollar equivalent of half a month's mortgage payment -- with the exhortation to drive forthwith to the nearest WalMart and blow it on salad shooters and plasma TV's -- but Hooverzilla just laughed at the offering and pounded the equity markets further into the dust of loss, while the "bank-like" guardians of wealth lay in the drainage ditches bleeding from their ears and eyes.

My favorite moment was seeing Treasury Secretary Paulson and one of his fellow shaved-head deputies at a press conference rostrum frantically trying to calm the news media rabble like a couple of extraplanetary high priests from a Star Trek episode -- the batteries having run down in their laser wands, and their incantations ("liquidity! liquidity!) veering into mystifying glossolalia.

I resort to such admitted extreme hyperbole because it may be the only language that an infotainment-drunk society can still process in the face of an epochal calamity that will transform the lush terms of everyday life as we've known it into something like a bleak surrealist landscape in the manner of Tanguy. That crashing sound out there is the armature of confidence needed to support an economy based on faith that borrowed money will be paid back. It's as simple as that. (Doesn't seem so exciting now, does it?)

The United States is so broke, its people at every level from the Federal Reserve on down don't know whether to shit or go blind. The homeowners cringing in the media rooms of their 5000-square-foot personal family resorts don't know how long they can stay put microwaving pepperoni hot pockets with the default clock ticking. The mortgage "servicers" don't know how they will persuade interested parties like, say, the Illinois State Cafeteria Workers' Pension Fund (holder of X-amount of mortgage-backed securities underwritten by, say, Merrill Lynch or Deutsche Bank) to foreclose on properties scattered everywhere from Key West to Bainbridge Island -- or if there is actually any legal mechanism known to man that would make it possible to "work out" the sliced-and-diced collateral. The millions of maxed-out credit card holders and the issuers of their plastic are stuck together paddling a leaky tub in a sea of troubles every bit as wide, deep, and polluted as the one the mortgage junkies and their enablers are sinking in. The developers of malls, office parks, and power centers are weeping into their filing cabinets as the harsh daylight of insolvency stops the orgy of "consumption" and the retail tenants pack up their unsellable goodies for the liquidators, and the rent checks stop arriving in the mail, and the notes on this mall and that mall enter the eerie realm of "non-performance." And, of course, there are the genius wonder boyz and Wall Street playerz whose algorithms and turpitudes underwrote the script of this horror show -- for all I know they'll end up laughing into sugary skull drinks on a beach in the Cayman Islands, or doing Chinese fire drills in federal prison (or simply ass-fucked on the granite countertops of their Tribecca aeries by mobs of angry, repossessed, swindled former American dreamers pouring into Manhattan from the tract house dormitories of New Jersey and Long Island).

There's a lot to be concerned about out there. I don't mean to be too cute about it. But, as the master once said, nothing is funnier than unhappiness.

A whole closet full of "other shoes" is now waiting to be dropped. Surely the biggest clodhoppers in the closet belong to the hedge funds, representing trillions and trillions of dollar-denominated "positions" which, however hallucinatory, had previously yielded enough real "money" year-by-year to keep all the realtors and Humvee dealers in the Hamptons goose-stepping to Goldman Sachs's drumbeat. These "positions" can't help now from moving into counterparty crisis territory, especially as the bond insurers such as MBIA and Ambac go up in a vapor, and if that happens the damage could be so colossal globally that Stephen Hawking might have to be brought in to run the Federal Reserve.

This is going to be a rough week. Fastening your seat belts may not be enough for this ride. Better superglue yourselves to the floorboards and pray for God's mercy.

How did Western Civilization get a monopoly on “moral conscience” when it has no morality?

The “Brutal World”

“The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.”
Five Western military leaders.

I read the statement three times trying to figure out the typo. Then it hit me, the West has now out-Owellled Orwell: The West must nuke other countries in order to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction! In Westernspeak, the West nuking other countries does not qualify as the use of weapons of mass destruction.

The astounding statement comes from a paper prepared for a Nato summit in April by five top military leaders--an American, a German, a Dutchman, a Frenchman, and a Brit. It can be found here: [,,2244782,00.html ]

The paper, prepared by men regarded as distinguished leaders and not as escapees from insane asylums, argues that “the West’s values and way of life are under threat, but the West is struggling to summon the will to defend them.” The leaders find that the UN is in the way of the West’s will, as is the European Union which is obstructing NATO and “NATO’s credibility is at stake in Afghanistan.”

And that’s a serious matter. If NATO loses its credibility in Afghanistan, Western civilization will collapse just like the Soviet Union. The West just doesn’t realize how weak it is. To strengthen itself, it needs to drop more and larger bombs.

The German military leader blames the Merkel government for contributing to the West’s inability to defend its values by standing in the way of a revival of German militarism. How can Germany be “a reliable partner” for America, he asks, if the German government insists on “special rules” limiting the combat use of its forces in Afghanistan?

Ron Asmus, head of the German Marshall Fund and a former US State Department official, welcomed the paper as “a wake-up call.” Asmus means a call to wake-up to the threats from the brutal world, not to the lunacy of Western leaders.

Who, what is threatening the West’s values and way of life? Political fanaticism, religious fundamentalism, and the imminent spread of nuclear weapons, answer the five asylum escapees.

By political fanaticism, do they mean the neoconservatives who believe that the future of humanity depends on the US establishing its hegemony over the world? By religious fundamentalism, do they mean “rapture evangelicals” agitating for armageddon or Christian and Israeli Zionists demanding a nuclear attack on Iran? By spread of nuclear weapons, do they mean Israel’s undeclared and illegal possession of several hundred nuclear weapons?

No. The paranoid military leaders see all the fanaticism, religious and otherwise, and all the threats to humanity as residingoutside Western civilization (Israel is inside). The “increasingly brutal world,” of which the leaders warn, is “over there.” Only Muslims are fanatics. All us white guys are rational and sane.

There is nothing brutal about the US/Nato bombing of Serbia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, or the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, or the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, or the genocide Israel hopes to commit against Palestinians in Gaza.

All of this, as well as America’s bombing of Somalia, America’s torture dungeons, show trials of “detainees,” and overthrow of elected governments and installation of puppet rulers, is the West’s necessary response to keep the brutal world at bay.

Brutal things happen in the “brutal world” and are entirely the fault of those in the brutal world. None of this would happen if the inhabitants of the brutal world would just do as they are told. How can the civilized world with its monopoly on morality allow people in the brutal world to behave independently? I mean, really! God forbid, they might attack some innocent country.

The “brutal world” consists of those immoral fanatics who object to being marginalized by the West and who reply to mass bombings from the air and to the death and destruction inflicted on them through myriad ways by strapping on a suicide bomb.

Unable to impose its will on countries it has invaded with conventional arms, the West’s military leaders are now prepared to force compliance with the moral world’s will by threatening to nuke those who resist. You see, since the West has the monopoly on morality, truth, and justice, those in the outside world are obviously evil, wicked and brutal. Therefore, as President Bush tells us, it is a simple choice between good and evil, and there’s no better candidate than evil for being nuked. The sooner we can get rid of the brutal world, the sooner we will have “freedom and democracy” everywhere that’s left.

Meanwhile, the United States, the great moral light unto the world, has just prevented the United Nations from censuring Israel, the world’s other great moral light, for cutting off food supplies, medical supplies, and electric power to Gaza. You see, Gaza is in the outside world and is a home of the bad guys. Moreover, the wicked Palestinians there tricked the US when the US allowed them to hold a free election. Instead of electing the US candidate, the wicked voters elected a government that would represent them. The US and Israel overturned the Palestinian election in the West Bank, but those in Gaza clung to the government that they had elected. Now they are going to suffer and die until they elect the government that the US and Israel wants. I mean, how can we expect people in the brutal world to know what’s best for them?

The fact that the UN tried to stop Israel’s just punishment of the Gazans shows how right the five leaders’ report is about the UN being a threat to Western values and way of life. The UN is really against us. This puts the UN in the outside world and makes it a candidate for being nuked if not an outright terrorist organization. As our president said, “you are with us or against us.”

The US and Israel need a puppet government in Palestine so that a ghettoized remnant of Palestine can be turned into a “two state solution.” The two states will be Israel incorporating the stolen West Bank and a Palestinian ghetto without an economy, water, or contiguous borders.

This is necessary in order to protect Israel from the brutal outside world.

Inhabitants of the brutal world are confused about the “self-determination” advocated by Western leaders. It doesn’t mean that those outside Western civilization and Israel should decide for themselves. “Self” means American. The term, so familiar to us, means “American-determination.” The US determines and others obey.

It is the brutal world that causes all the trouble by not obeying.

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan administration. He is credited with curing stagflation and eliminating “Phillips curve” trade-offs between employment and inflation, an achievement now on the verge of being lost by the worst economic mismanagement in US history.

The Untermensch Syndrome: Israel's Moral Decay

The labeling as anti-Semitic of anyone critical of the state of Israel's policies in the continued destruction of Palestinian identity, and now Lebanese society and infrastructure, and the increasing domination into American foreign policy no longer has the sting of threat or intimidation it once mastered. For too long this masquerade has been used to silence those opposing anything Israel, shouted at anyone disseminating truth and seeking justice. Like the boy who cried wolf, this charade has lost its power or hypnotic control, and today only serves to breed more anger and resentment against the apologists and smear mongers protecting the cancerous tentacles of Zionism and the crimes against humanity it spawns.

A once powerful marketing tool used to sequester valid criticism and deny truth to millions has been eroded thanks to its overlords' continued over abuse and labeling of the term 'anti-Semite' to anyone even remotely critical of anything associated with Israel and the tentacles of Zionism. To criticize Christianity does not make one anti-Christian. To criticize Islam does not make one anti-Muslim or anti-Arab, just as uncovering truths about the Bush administration does not make one anti-American or unpatriotic. To speak truth about any government in the world does not make us racist or xenophobic to the people of that nation. Why then should criticism of Israeli and/or Sharon's policies subject us to false labeling and acts of intimidation whose only purpose is to silence truth into submission and hijacking justice from ever emerging and being served?

The time has come to stop bending over to the dictates of intimidation and scare tactics used by Israel's protectors, defenders and apologists. The time has come to say "Never Again" to such fictional libel and slander whose only purpose is the continued subjugation of truth and awakening. The labeling of "anti-Semite" does not bother us, nor does it stop us from writing truth to justice and reality to intimidation because we refuse to be frightened into submission and silenced into acquiescence by a mechanism we know to be false.

Our convictions, search for truth and want for justice supercedes the trash invented to protect the malfeasance ruining humanity and the crimes perpetrated against our fellow human beings. The time has come to stand up and be heard, refusing to believe the smears and the labels, instead living life in truth, devoid of veiled threats and intimidation tactics whose power over us continues to erode thanks to its incessant overuse and abuse. So smear if you must, defenders, appeasers and apologists of human wickedness, continue to blindly believe in the majesty of a fiction you know to be false, ensuring your daily complicity in the crimes against humanity being committed by those you protect and defend.

We are above your labels, above your intimidation and smear tactics, following the path of truth in the voice of our writings and in the convictions of humanity. If pursuing truth, fighting criminality and awakening justice makes us anti-Semites, then guilty we are. If seeing the dehumanization, exploitation and utter destruction of the Palestinian people makes the voices of reason anti-Semitic, then guilty we stand. To defend the humanity of other Semitic people is to defend humanity itself. To speak out against injustice and dehumanization makes us human, to defend it makes you complicit.

An Unbearable Likeness of Being

Here we are, living in the first decade of the 21st century, and still the violent animal in the human condition exists, thriving inside our carnal passions and still primitive mammalian brains, oozing out of humanity to release the demons of evil that only homo sapiens are capable of wielding.

Persisting in our primate selves as it has for millions of years, the greatest symptom of our disease remains uncontrolled, dominating the far reaches of man's Earth, turning barren once fertile soil and forever despoiling the utter beauty our civilization possesses. Man killing man, erupting violence upon our fellow humans, destroying what our own hands create, decimating energy and beauty, life and opportunity, this is the story of what our species has become. Through tribal affiliation and identity, which the nation state now is, (a tribe on steroids) the potency of violence and ill-treatment against others seen as different or alien is manifested.

The human condition dictates that auras of superiority appear with every tribe. What is nationalism today but a belief that our tribe is the best in the world, that the group of humans we are attached to in unity, be it of ethnic, racial, religious or regional (nation state) parameters, is the preeminent assembly of all humanity? Beliefs of supremacy of one's tribe and inferiority of others have marked man from the very first cluster of family clans. In order to achieve this most human psychological need, other subgroups have to be considered lower in stature, considered third-world, savages, barbarians and lesser humans, while others must be conquered and subjugated.

In the minds of those groups seeking to invade, conquer, pilfer and exploit, the invaded and conquered must be seen as sub-human, creatures not worthy of protection or life. The human mind, in order to justify the ruthlessness it will inflict on less able peoples, creates the impression that those now controlled are sub-humans and therefore not immune to the restrictions of human morality. Sub-humans are not humans, after all, and can be treated like animals or worse, like dirt.

The Nazi ideology of placing its Aryan blood above all others, believing its Germanic peoples the pinnacle of civilization, reflects a perverted mass psychosis brought on by a malevolent leader and a hypnotized tribe - namely Germany. In the delusional world of the Nazis, Jews, Gypsies and Slavs were considered inferior. These peoples were labeled 'untermensch,' the German word for sub-human. As such, labels became reality and reality became a holocaust, resulting in millions of deaths and untold levels of suffering. When a group of people like the Nazis begin to believe in the sub-human label they propel, the group afflicted becomes the equivalent of animals, free to be killed, tortured and dehumanized, free to be robbed of freedom, opportunity and happiness.

The Nazis, however, are not alone in exacerbating this phenomenon. On the contrary, it has been as pronounced in human history as advancements in technology. As long as there have been competing tribes the concept of untermensch has existed, released over and over through centuries and millennia. No nation or culture is immune; no epoch is innocent. With every war, invasion, occupation, domination, enslavement, oppression, exploitation, genocide and ethnic cleansing that has marked human time on Earth untermensch has been implemented, used by the powerful to justify the crimes, rapes, murders and dehumanization inflicted upon innocent fellow human beings. Untermensch is the tool used by the human brain that grants man the power to destroy humanity and all its virtues while inflicting untold levels of misery onto men, women and children without the interference or burden of human guilt, laws, theology, morality or righteousness getting in the way.

Yet our minds cannot fathom the long reaches of a history marked by incessant war, death and violence. Understanding the constructs of time and space are not talents we have evolved. Grasping the enormity of the passage of time, with the rise and fall of tribes, clans, city states and empires, the evolution of human society and spirituality from cave to metropolis, the genetic altering and evolution of diversity coming together and adding to the human spectrum, and the conquests, genocides and environmental changes created by our ancestors is not a skill endowed into our primate brains, and thus the enormous jigsaw puzzle that is human history remains a mystery. We can barely put together the pieces of our own eighty year existence on the planet, even as it is a puzzle that we experience first hand. How then are we to fathom hundreds of thousands of years of modern human existence, generation upon generation, century after century?

In an existence estimated at five million years, from primates living in trees to the dawn of living in one-hundred story skyscrapers, man has not deviated from our mammal selves. Our passions, emotions and behaviors yield to the animal inside us, and throughout our existence it has come out again and again to unleash terror on our unsuspecting species. For millions of years our species has consisted of one continuous epoch of aggression against each other, with periods of calm in between, - controlled at the individual level but becoming an unleashed monster at the tribal - destroying all we have achieved and the beauty inherent in our existence. Mammals we are, and mammals we will remain, yet the ego of our existence and the theology of our beliefs will not let us awake to our greatest truth.

Humankind's greatest demon is also our greatest threat, condemning us to continue a long history of self-inflicted war, death, suffering and subjugation. In this quandary we find ourselves trapped in, much like every generation that has come before, and, if we fail to learn and evolve, every generation that has yet to come. The worst of humanity opens the books of history once more, and in Iraq and Palestine we find what has been, what is, and what will become. The Reign of Terror upon ourselves continues the slow erosion of our existence along the inevitable path of self-destruction we traverse.

Is it any wonder that the virus attached to us since we left the jungles of east Africa keeps reappearing again and again, stomping its seal of death, violence and misery on the face of human civilization, especially when we punish our own kind with the tools of despair, suffering and dehumanization? Can we expect the microscopic reign of modern man to purge an evil that primitive man could not exorcise in hundreds of thousands of years?

Untermensch is part of the disease we possess, or rather possesses us, attached to the constructs of fear and hatred, ignorance and superiority, emboldened by the tribe or nation state. The mega-tribes of today only serve to strengthen and release the fury of human evil onto those less fortunate. It is a syndrome that, until now, has yet to be contained. Its vicious mechanisms erode the basic foundations of humankind, birthing suffering and human destruction, both in spirit and in life, rendering all six billion of us less human every day. Into the depths we descend, living the misery of Iraqis and Palestinians, feeling the pain that the powerful inflict on the weak, losing energy with each drop of blood that is shed and cowering in shame with each act of decaying dehumanization.

The Untermensch Syndrome is alive and well, resilient as ever, surviving as long as humans exist, thriving off our own shortcomings, evolving with each passing generation and festering once more to infect yet one more amalgam of human tribes from which enlightenment seems never to arrive.

Unholy Land

In the land claimed holy and promised the madness of humankind persists, extending the perpetual violence and oppression of the weak by the powerful. Palestine today tells a story of human evils past and present, of the worst actions capable of being manifested by the human phenomenon. Lands ancient and strategic, crossroads and focal points of man's brief history, once more seem engulfed by competing claims and boiling hatreds.

Malevolent crimes against humanity, those activities that repulse and anger, are methodically being perpetrated against peoples who have been raped of all their ancestors once possessed. Atrocities and dehumanization on an unparalleled scale are being committed, becoming the present reincarnation of the past's dreaded evils.

In no other place on Earth is the suffering of our brothers and sisters so prevalent. In no other region is the tyranny and wickedness of humanity so present. For the lands holy and promised have been cursed by archaic fables, beliefs and myths, by fictional claims of days long extinct, condemning its native inhabitants to the bowels of Hades and the desolate realities from which loud cries go unheard.

To be Palestinian Arab in the land usurped by European Jews is to be considered untermensch in the territory your forefathers once called home. The devastation fifty-five years of invasion, occupation and state terrorism has had on both people and land has created the conditions by which Gaza and the West Bank can today be called Hell on Earth, pockets of destitute emptiness where opportunity is extinct and any relevant future is a but a hollow fantasy.

Unearthed from the colon of the planet Palestinians dwell, the squalor in the occupied territories is beyond compare, instituted and exacerbated by the state of Israel in acts of unhindered and systemic malevolence. The intent of such inflictions of emotional distress and incessant pain and suffering is the breaking point of millions of Palestinians, the realization that it is better to leave the land you know and love rather than live in perpetual imprisonment of spirit and humanity.

The desire to expand borders and territory, an addiction to greed and the aspiration to cleanse Palestine of Arabs manufactures in the Israeli government a policy of wicked objectives bursting with cold and calculated cruelty. Thus, the ill-treatment of Palestinians by Israel makes life so unbearable, so hard and depressing that it is a triumph of the human spirit that so many remain, unwavering and strong, even as the weight of utter wickedness is enforced generation to generation.

Living in the occupied territories is like living in Warsaw ghettos of the 1930's and South African Bantustans. It is akin to dwelling in Indian reservations, those cesspools of nothingness in the lands of America from where millions rotted away their once vibrant existence. Gaza and the West Bank are squalors of humanity acting as giant prisons, where dense refugee camps are considered cities, their perimeters encircled by fences, walls, Israeli tanks and the ever watchful eyes of trigger-friendly snipers. Enormous prisons within occupied lands, preventing contiguity, freedom of movement and any semblance of a sovereign state are the true definition of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

To live inside these vast prisons and internment camps is to struggle with the daily existence of Israeli suffocation and dehumanization that you know is purposeful as it is deliberate. It is to feel Israeli claws strangulating your esophagus, denying you of the air to breathe and the sustenance you need to survive. Life under Israel's merciless rule means that sixty to seventy percent of your people are unemployed, unable to provide for their families, as commerce is almost non-existent and access to Israeli business almost impossible. It is to live in worlds of child undernourishment and lack of healthcare, as Israel's policies make indigent millions of families who desperately need to feed and treat their children.

To be Palestinian is to be trapped in a vicious circle that refuses to let you escape. From birth your undernourishment outmaneuvers your development, stunting your growth, making your immune system weak and altering your ability to learn. Lack of nutrients and perpetual levels of stress make your environmental upbringing unlike anything on Earth, a constant battle being lost by both your body and mind.

Psychological behaviors associated with extreme levels of stress and dangerous levels of undernourishment affect hundreds of thousands of your fellow brothers and sisters. Feelings of imprisonment and virtual subjugation, not to mention the extreme hatred of anything Israel your environment forces upon you creates unsurpassed hatred in your mind. Education is limited, resources to tap the oasis inside you is but a dream and the talents and abilities ingrained in your being get eroded more and more with each passing year.

You see the vanishing energies of neighbors, acquaintances and family that die at the hands of the IDF and the Israeli government's callous disregard for your people. After all, to them you are nothing but untermensch, lower to or on equal par with animals. From an early age you realize that, since you are seen as sub-human, IDF soldiers treat you with impunity, allowing themselves the pleasure of taunting your friends, shooting your cousins, demolishing your home and dehumanizing your mother, all done knowing that accountability does not exist.

Growing up Palestinian is to see with one's eyes the hatred boiling inside the cities you live in, where the fruitless throwing of rocks towards tanks by dozens of youth is the only vent from where their bursting fumes can be released. Later on in life, these youngsters will become members of the resistance, graduating to Kalashnikovs and home-made bombs, lurking at night to defend their ever disappearing homeland. In this society, death at the hands of the Israelis is so commonplace that it is celebrated, becoming both a rallying cry and mechanism of strength. Martyrs are elevated to the skies above, becoming the role models of the very young and the heroes of the populace, their faces plastered on posters lining streets and walls.

In this society, born of occupation and seething hatred, the only way to keep living is to keep dying, and the sadness of such reality is that just as our children wish to become pilots and firemen, theirs strive for nothing more than martyrdom. It is this that Israel's policy of untermensch has created, a mechanism where every day creates new resistance fighters and revolutionaries seeking the triumph of the human spirit and the dawn of independent freedom.

Collective punishment upon millions of Palestinians goes hand in hand with the Untermensch Syndrome, where the acts of a few result in the decimation of the many. When millions of Arabs are considered sub-human, long living in lands claimed by false divinity and thousand year old fables of peoples primitive and unenlightened, their death, destruction and prolonged suffering is inconsequential. It is state sponsored terrorism that has lasted more than eighty years in a pre-emptive attempt to ethnically cleanse by subjugation, dehumanization and cold and calculated suffering.

Breeding of fear by the intimidation of army incursions, tank deployments, sniper killings, Apache helicopter missiles and fighter jet low altitude flyovers is state sponsored terror, stressing out millions and making life under occupation an unbearable existence. Imprisoning millions and subjecting them to perpetual indigence, without ability to traverse their own lands or go one day breathing tranquil airs of calm and freedom is collective terror upon a populace. Not knowing if your home is next to be demolished by monstrous Caterpillar bulldozers, usually with a few minutes warning by the IDF is state terrorism, robbing families of their homes and their belongings, leaving thousands without the only dignity they ever possessed.

Treating Palestinians as untermensch allows young Israeli soldiers, most of whom are born hating Palestinians, to walk over innocent people only trying to survive day to day. Stinging verbal abuse, humiliating body searches, purposeful closures and damning delays at checkpoints, where the Untermensch Syndrome can be seen in full bloom, exhibits the wicked treatment of the powerful over the weak. Selected closures that can last days that in effect prevent Palestinians from getting to work, indiscriminate authority to harass and stop anyone from passing, the apartheid mechanism of different license plates for Jewish settlers - with unhindered passage through checkpoints - and Palestinians - who oftentimes wait hours in line before being allowed through - are all symptoms of the sub-human treatment and collective punishment of Palestinians.

Even ambulances, oftentimes transporting gravely injured or sick people, many of them pregnant women on the verge of giving birth, are forced to endure long hours waiting at IDF checkpoints, with the full knowledge of soldiers. Many of these people, not unexpectedly, end up dying while waiting, as precious time is squandered and criminally left to pass. If this is not terror, then what is? If this is not collective punishment and a symptom of the Untermensch Syndrome, then where has our humanity gone?

When an occupying power gives carte blanche to its military to treat the occupied as sub-human, crimes against humanity are not too far behind and the moral fabric of those imposing the will of the powerful through the barrel of a gun quickly vanishes. In Palestine, and as has become quite apparent in Iraq, indiscriminate and methodical dehumanization, without regard for human rights, has flourished through the aura of ethnic, state and cultural superiority and the invincibility of modern military might.

Pitting rock throwers against Apache helicopters and Abrams tanks is nobody's idea of a fair fight, and in this unequal capacity to wage war we can see how the Untermensch Syndrome is furthered. One side seeks independence using only the weapons their dwindling land provides while the other is provided with the most sophisticated and lethal technology known to man. It is a battle of primitive versus modern, the Arab animals versus the Israeli westerner. And so, in order to try evening out the fight, suicide bombers, with the desperation, hate, thirst for vengeance and hopelessness ingrained in their atrocious actions, compete with the state sponsored terrorism of guided missiles raining down from the sky, artillery from tanks and incursions by an infantry trained and supplied with the best equipment American money can buy.

The equation of occupied and occupier has been the same for time immemorial, with the subjugated resorting to the creations of the human imagination and the resources at their disposal for weapons while the conqueror uses rationales of untermensch to deceive its own morality and unleash the fires of human hell with the grand weapons of war that riches provide onto the people invaded.

In Palestine, untermensch has meant the demolition of thousands of homes without regard for human life. It has meant the dehumanizing conditions by which millions live under, usually in poverty and lacking meaningful education, healthcare, infrastructure, opportunity and future. Israel's treatment of an entire race of people has destroyed the fabric of society and the aspirations of its citizens. The Untermensch Syndrome has resulted in centuries old olive trees bulldozed for no reason other than to make miserable the lives of the farmers who owned them. It has categorized Palestinian as inferior to Jew, marginalizing millions who are expropriated of their land and homes.

Because of the Untermensch Syndrome Palestine has been carved up into dozens of enclaves, separated by walls or fences, imprisoning people in their towns and refugee camps. Traveling from town to town is virtually impossible. Children have been separated from their schools, university students from their colleges, workers from their jobs, families from each other and farmers from their fields. This has been accomplished by Israel systematically and without remorse, serving no purpose other than to dehumanize and make unlivable the daily lives of millions.

Lands with higher ground are routinely expropriated, as are those with fertile soil and abundant water aquifers. These stolen lands are then granted to the swell of settlers rushing into once Palestinian lands and farms. In other instances, Palestinian land is taken for bypass road construction that now dissects the West Bank into easily controllable blocks. Of course these roads can only be used by Israelis and Jewish settlers, while the Palestinians, whose land is now covered by asphalt, can only watch as Jewish cars circumvent the last vestiges of a land they once flourished in.

In the course of the present intifadah 3000 Palestinians have died compared to 1000 Israelis. The terrorism has been mutual, one modern and technological, the other born out of hatred and desperation. Palestinians see their native contiguously- inhabited land being gobbled up by Israel and the never-ending stream of European and American settlers. Their water is being taken, their crops destroyed, their livelihoods eviscerated. An enormous apartheid wall is being built, separating camp from camp, robbing them of still more land as it snakes deep into occupied territory, making the West Bank an amalgam of Bantustan-style reservations and internment camps. The Untermensch Syndrome has been unleashed by an Israel that is intent on 'transferring' out an entire race of people.

Like a Virus the Syndrome Spreads

Like an enormous wave crashing on shore, the Untermensch Syndrome is devastating everything in its path. In order to maintain a Jewish majority, which demographics tells us is impossible if Arabs remain, Israel is making the life of Palestinians a virtual dungeon of misery from where air and light are squeezed out of the dark, damp caves where Palestinians now dwell. The goal is as simple as it is macabre: the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from the 'Promised Land' by means of starving millions of a life worth living and through the self-exodus of Palestinians who cannot take the severe punishment and dehumanization any more. This clandestine maneuver would thus be seen as self-inflicted and as an independent move by the Palestinians, yet it is Israel pushing them off the cliff through its criminal acts against humanity.

Much is said of physical torture, yet it is the mental kind that truly kills and maims, condemning the millions of Palestinians to a life unbearable at best and cruel at worst. For many decades now Israel has waged collective war against the native inhabitants of Palestine, slowly but surely implementing the means by which it can achieve its ends. Mental torture is a crime against humanity, in direct contradiction to universal principles of humanity. It has been persistent, incessant and coldly calculated. If the treatment of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel is not terrorist in nature and evil in substance, then we have vanished underneath a rock of shamelessness and barbarity, becoming that which we most loathe.

What is occurring in Palestine today is nothing short of criminal, reminiscent of the Nazi treatment of Jews and all other untermensch during 1930's Germany. It reminds us of the extermination and subsequent incarceration of Native Americans by a fledgling US government riding the coattails of Manifest Destiny. Reservations are today a sad reminder of the cruelty and inhumanity by which the American government methodically eliminated the indigenous peoples from the birth of a new nation. Parallels with the South African Apartheid Bantustans are being made as more truth emerges from the cages of the West Bank. The worst in humanity is now compared to the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people, and not without merit.

The Nazi ghettos and treatment of all untermensch in 1930's Europe during the reign of human malevolence, which caused untold levels of suffering, anguish and mental torture, lasted about a decade. The Palestinian ghettos, Bantustans, reservations, cantons, prisons, gulags or enclaves, - however you wish to call them - on the other hand, have withstood the sands of time for several decades now. Under virtual imprisonment, unable to move freely, without rights, liberties and freedoms and increasingly under a state of siege and apartheid, Palestinians find themselves struggling to survive and remain living in the lands they have continuously inhabited for thousands of years. Their very existence is being threatened; their society is being imploded. Mental torture has become their way of life, like an unrelenting leash controlling their lives, ceaseless in time and devastating in magnitude.

They are, if you will, an endangered species, considered sub-human by their occupiers and the Israeli puppets in the White House and the Congress, who, even after the International Court of Justice overwhelmingly condemned the Apartheid Wall as illegal under international law, voted overwhelmingly to support Israel and condemn the Court, also pressuring the cowardly UN to prevent the imposition of sanctions on Israel. If our elected leaders in Washington show such solidarity with the state of Israel in its inhuman acts of criminality, do they think of Palestinians as untermensch as well? The implication sure makes it seem that way, as does their treatment of the Iraqi people.

Those who were once called untermensch are today subjugating those they consider untermensch. The sub-humans of decades past have become the subjugators and exploiters, spreading the disease that once tormented their ancestors. Those who once suffered enormously are today inflicting untold levels of suffering onto an entire group of human beings. As if committing human evil on those it considers sub-humans will exorcise the demons of horrors past, Israel's treatment of the Palestinians serves no possible purpose other than to devastate millions who are rotting away their existence in sewers of hopelessness, hoping an entire people will simply disappear or pack up and leave, thereby springing forth a final solution to the Palestinian question.

The Untermensch has become the Übermensch, the Nazi word for overlord, or supermen. The cleansed have become the ones doing the cleansing, and those upon whom human evil once enveloped are today reincarnating that same malice onto a world trying to never again repeat the errors of past generations. Yet the Untermensch Syndrome refuses to be laid to rest, living like rats among humans, forever to follow in our footsteps, feeding off our crumbs and forever destined to haunt our inner demons. If those it was once inflicted upon are today its conductors and proliferators, does there exist hope for the human race?

As long as we let it control us, the Untermensch Syndrome will linger, separating us from each other, seeing ourselves as superior and others as sub-human. The situation in Iraq is a truth to this reality, it simply repeats itself, no matter how enlightened we think we are and no matter how modern we claim to be. If the pattern persists throughout our existence, is there reason to hope for its demise?

What makes us human is not our ability to kill and destroy each other but our vast potential to bring goodness to our fellow beings. Killing, maiming and inflicting misery onto ourselves is nothing new. It is rather easy for humans to do this. Just look back at history. What is hard, and what makes us human, differentiating us from the animal world, is the ability to turn the other cheek, see each other as equals, accept our incredible diversity and stop the madness before we all end up smoldering from the fiery hell we have contained in silos and missiles. If we can create nuclear technology, enough to destroy this planet thousands of times over, can we not put our heads together and get along?

What is happening to the Palestinian people is a travesty, one more black mark on an already bruised human society. It is up to the Other Superpower to seek change, helping to bring an oasis of humanity to a suddenly barren strip of earth. Our elected leaders will not act, and neither will world organizations. It is up to us, the people of the world, to stand tall and shout with one united voice from deep within our bodies that we are in solidarity with those considered as untermensch, that if Palestinians are sub-human, then so are we, because they are human just like you and me, deserving of a life lived in happiness and opportunity, free of occupation and tyranny.

For the moral high ground cannot be usurped as easily as Israel robs Palestinian lands bearing higher ground, strategic locations, water aquifers and fertile land. The moral high ground in this battle is on the side of the occupied and subjugated, of justice and humanity, of those resisting and fighting for land they once possessed and freedom once enjoyed. It is void and non-existent in the grip of the occupiers, exploiters and criminals who produce life unbearable and dehumanizing. For this battle they cannot win because the travesty of the Palestinians is the reality billions of eyes and minds now see. Is it any wonder why the rise in anti-Semitism worldwide coincides with the escalating campaign to destroy the Palestinian people? Can we not see why Israel is considered the most hated nation on Earth, from opinions resulting in the last few years, and why its policies are endangering innocent and peace loving people of Jewish faith worldwide who only want to live free of the hatreds of the past and in full acceptance of the happiness of the years to come?

Never Again, Never Again

The time to boycott Israeli products has arrived. Let the sanctions imposed by the Other Superpower begin, unleashing the economic might of billions to punish those few who care nothing for international law or the universal declarations of human rights. May the cancer spreading dehumanization and misery on our fellow human beings stop being spread by the power and medicine of the people of the world. We succeeded once before, halting the destructive forces of apartheid South Africa, now a nation evolving forward in time, not regressing backwards in history. We will once more quash wrongness, wickedness and human evil. It is the echoes of justice and human rights emanated by the voices of truth that will tear down yet another wall of shame being built to imprison and condemn.

Let us punish American and multinational corporations that help arm the IDF, those that help bulldoze homes and lives, those that profit from human misery and those that through their instruments of death and destruction contribute to the murder and slaughter of innocents. Let us pressure our so-called representatives to stand for human rights, dignity and justice, not tyranny, misery and subjugation.

What is transpiring in the Holy Land is anathema to human civilization; it is an embarrassment to six billion people who are good, decent human beings. If our governments refuse to act, then so we must, for the sake of innocent and peaceful Palestinian and Israeli people, for the sake of human decency and for the sake of our future generations. Walls and fences that imprison and dehumanize cannot stand, for they help set mankind back in time to days dark and repressive, unenlightened and barbaric. Together, united as one we can become the massive tremor that helps bring walls and tyranny down.

"Never Again" should not just be a catchy slogan, an artifact at museums, a banner espoused but never practiced or a phrase attached to nostalgia. It should mean what it says, and, as the Other Superpower, we should interpret it literally, enforcing it upon those whose crimes against humanity make us all less human by the day.

In numbers we find strength; in conviction, reason to exist. Those seeking freedom can never be defeated; the triumph of the human spirit can never be erased. The seeds of justice have been planted, let us reap its bountiful reward. Let us once more make a beautiful oasis of a land both holy and promised, devoid of barren intentions and evil inclinations. Let olive trees grow anew, let children play and laugh, may the light of day return and once more bring forth skies of blue.

This essay, first published in August 2004, is dedicated to the over 3000 Palestinian and 1000 Israeli dead, who, in the last five years, have perished thanks to the sickness of human nature, as well as to the hundreds of Lebanese civilians and tens of northern Israelis slaughtered by the latest wave of Middle East violence. This essay is also dedicated to the thousands of injured on both sides, the thousands more who have lost loved ones, and the peace-loving, tolerance-striving, justice-seeking peoples of the Holy Land, all of whom have suffered enormously for the last four years. May you have the strength to put an end to madness and the worst in the human condition. May your troubled land find the peace you and the world desperately needs.

Authors Bio: Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst and Internet columnist. His articles as well as his archive can be found at his blog, as well as at other alternative news websites from around the globe. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached Mr. Valenzuela is also author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel made available at most online book sellers.

American plans for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union in 1963


By Heather A. Purcell and James K. Galbraith


Notes on National Security Council Meeting
July 20, 1961

General Hickey, Chairman of the Net Evaluation Subcommittee, presented the annual
report of his group. General Lemnitzer stated that the assumption of this year's study was a
surprise attack in late 1963, preceded by a period of heightened tensions.

After the presentation by General Hickey and by the various members of the
Subcommittee, the President asked if there had ever been made an assessment of damage results
to the U.S.S.R which would be incurred by a preemptive attack. General Lemnitzer stated that
such studies had been made and that he would bring them over and discuss them personally with
the President. In recalling General Hickey's opening statement that these studies have been made
since 1957, the President asked for an appraisal of the trend in the effectiveness of the attack.
General Lemnitzer replied that he would also discuss this with the President.

Since the basic assumption of this year's presentation was an attack in late 1963, the
President asked about probable effects in the winter of 1962. Mr. Dulles observed that the attack
would be much less effective since there would be considerably fewer missiles involved. General
Lemnitzer added a word of caution about accepting the precise findings of the Committee since
these findings were based upon certain assumptions which themselves might not be valid.

The President posed the question as to the period of time necessary for citizens to remain
in shelters following an attack. A member of the Subcommittee replied that no specific period of
time could be cited due to the variables involved, but generally speaking, a period of two weeks
should be expected.

The President directed that no member in attendance at the meeting disclose even the
subject of the meeting.

Declassified: June, 1993

During the early 1960s the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) introduced the world to the
possibility of instant total war. Thirty years later, no nation has yet fired any nuclear missile at a
real target. Orthodox history holds that a succession of defensive nuclear doctrines and strategies
-- from "massive retaliation" to "mutual assured destruction" -- worked, almost seamlessly, to
deter Soviet aggression against the United States and to prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

The possibility of U.S. aggression in nuclear conflict is seldom considered. And why should it be?
Virtually nothing in the public record suggests that high U.S. authorities ever contemplated a first
strike against the Soviet Union, except in response to a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, or
that they doubted the deterrent effect of Soviet nuclear forces. The main documented exception
was the Air Force Chief of Staff in the early 1960s, Curtis LeMay, a seemingly idiosyncratic case.

But beginning in 1957 the U.S. military did prepare plans for a preemptive nuclear strike against
the U.S.S.R, based on our growing lead in land-based missiles, And top military and intelligence
leaders presented an assessment of those plans to President John F. Kennedy in July of 1961. At
that time, some high Air Force and CIA leaders apparently believed that a window of outright
ballistic missile superiority, perhaps sufficient for a successful first strike, would be open in late

The document reproduced opposite is published here for the first time. It describes a meeting of
the National Security Council on July 20, 1961. At that meeting, the document shows, the
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the director of the CIA, and others, presented plans for a
surprise attack. They answered some questions from Kennedy about timing and effects, and
promised further information. The meeting recessed under a Presidential injunction of secrecy that
has not been broken until now.

The Real Missile Gap

In 1960, claims of a "missile gap" favoring the Soviets had given the Democrats a critical election
theme, and many millions of Americans entered the Sixties feeling intensely vulnerable to the new
Soviet ICBM threat. But as Richard Reeves has recently written, intelligence based on satellites
launched in August of 1960 soon challenged the campaign assessment and public view. (Reeves,
228) The United States had beaten the USSR to an operational ICBM and enjoyed clear, and
growing, numerical advantage. We were far ahead, and our military planners knew it.

Kennedy was quickly convinced of this truth, which was further confirmed as new satellites
brought back new information. Later in 1961, a National Intelligence Estimate came through
showing only 4 Soviet ICBMs in place, all of them on low alert at a test site called Plesetsk. By
fall, Defense Undersecretary Roswell Gilpatric was to acknowledge in a public speech that US
forces (with 185 ICBMs and over 3,400 deliverable warheads at that time) were vastly superior to
those of the Russians.

It was in this context, of an increasing nuclear edge based on a runaway lead in land-based
missiles, that Kennedy faced his first nuclear-tinged crisis, which erupted over Berlin in July of

The Berlin Crisis

The July 20th meeting took place under conditions of unusual tension. Only three months before,
Kennedy had suffered the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion and his loss of confidence in both the
CIA and the Joint Chiefs. One month before, he had been shaken by his Vienna confrontation
with Nikita Khrushchev. Now, the Soviets were threatening to turn control of access to West
Berlin over to the East Germans, and to conclude a separate peace treaty with that satellite state.

At the crucial National Security Council discussion of the brewing Berlin crisis on July 13,
Secretary of State Dean Rusk had opposed negotiations with the Soviets until the last moment
(Newman, 115). As Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., then a special assistant, later summarized for the
President, adviser Dean Acheson had prepared a paper arguing that

we are in a fateful test of wills, that our major task is to demonstrate our
unalterable determination, and that Krushchev will be deterred only by a US
readiness to go to nuclear war rather than to abandon the status quo. On this
theory, negotiation is harmful until the crisis is well developed; then it is useful
only for propaganda purposes..." (Foreign Relations, XIV, 173)

Kennedy favored negotiations over conflict. While not directly challenging Acheson, he
encouraged Schlesinger to produce an unsigned memo critical of Acheson's stance.

Schlesinger advised caution. In a passage especially pertinent to the larger issue, he wrote:

The [Acheson] paper hinges on our willingness to face nuclear war. But this
option is undefined. Before you are asked to make the decision to go to nuclear
war, you are entitled to know what concretely what nuclear war is likely to mean.
The Pentagon should be required to make an analysis of the possible levels and
implications of nuclear warfare and the possible gradations of our own nuclear
response. (Foreign Relations XIV 173)

It is possible (though we do not know) that the decision to bring the Net Evaluation to Kennedy
occurred in response to the raising of these concerns. At any rate, the meeting occurred.

The Burris Memorandum

The memorandum reproduced here was written for Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who did not
attend the meeting, by Colonel Howard Burris, his military aide. Declassified only in June of
1993, it has not previously received any public attention so far as we have been able to determine.

The first paragraph introduces General Hickey and his group, the Net Evaluation Subcommittee.
Although the Subcommittee report is described as "annual," this would be the first one given to
President Kennedy and his advisors, and it is not clear whether President Eisenhower received
such reports in person. General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, stepped in to
explain the "assumption" of the 1961 report: "a surprise attack in late 1963, preceded by a period
of heightened tensions." The question arises: A surprise attack by whom on whom?
The following paragraphs answer the question. The second paragraph reports that after hearing
the presentations, President Kennedy asked the presenters "if there had ever been made an
assessment of damage results to the U.S.S.R. which would be incurred by a preemptive attack."
Kennedy also asked for an effectiveness trend since "these studies have been made since 1957."
Lemnitzer responded that he would later answer both of the President's questions in private.

Paragraph three records Kennedy asking a hypothetical question: what would happen if we
launched a strike in the winter of 1962? Allen Dulles of the CIA responded that "the attack
would be much less effective since there would be considerably fewer missiles involved."
Lemnitzer then cautioned against putting too much faith in the findings since the assumptions
might be faulty. The discussion thus provides a time-frame. December of 1962 was too early for
an attack because the U.S. would have too few missiles; by December of 1963 there would likely
be sufficient numbers.

Paragraph four reports one more Kennedy question: how much time would "citizens" need to
remain in shelters following an attack? The President receives a qualified estimate of 2 weeks
from a member of the subcommittee. The group was clearly talking about U.S. citizens protecting
themselves from the globe-encircling fallout following a U.S. nuclear attack on the U.S.S.R.

Paragraph five adds to the intensity of the document with Kennedy's directive "that no member in
attendance disclose even the subject of the meeting."

Other Accounts of the Meeting

So far as we know, the official record of this meeting remains secret. The excellent Foreign
Relations of the United States, volume XIV, "Berlin Crisis 1961-1962," published in late 1993,
though replete with memoranda detailing the nuclear aspects of the Berlin confrontation, makes
no mention of it. The only official reference we know of is the agenda for the National Security
Council issued on July 18, 1961, declassified in 1977, which reads, simply "The Net Evaluation
Subcommittee (NSC 5816; N.S. Action No. 2223) ... Presentation of the report by the Chairman
of the Subcommittee." (The most detailed discussion of the Net Evaluation Subcommittee we
have found is in Desmond Ball's Politics and Force Levels (pp. 192-3), which identifies the larger
task of the Subcommittee as the preparation of revised targeting plans.)

On the other hand, the fact of a meeting, and Kennedy's personal reaction to it, has been reported.
The President was displeased. But no account yet published has told what he was displeased

For example, Arthur Schlesinger's Robert Kennedy and His Times gives this account:

...Kennedy received the Net Evaluation, an annual doomsday briefing analyzing the
chances of nuclear war. An Air Force General presented it, said Roswell Gilpatric,
the deputy secretary of defense, "as though it were for a kindergarten class..
Finally Kennedy got up and walked right out in the middle of it, and that was the
end of it. We never had another one." (p. 483)

McGeorge Bundy evidently refers to the same meeting in this passage:

In the summer of 1961 [Kennedy] went through a formal briefing on the net
assessment of a general nuclear war between the two superpowers, and he
expressed his own reaction to Dean Rusk as they walked from the cabinet room to
the Oval Office for a private meeting on other subjects: "And we call ourselves the
human race." (p. 354)

(Dean Rusk's memoirs repeat Kennedy's remark, though they place the meeting "shortly after our
assuming office." Richard Reeves, for his part, does not mention the July meeting, and attributes
Kennedy's remark to a later briefing in September, 1961.)

Numerous other apparent accounts of the meeting exist, though they do not refer to it by name or
date. All agree on Kennedy's reaction. But none reveal what was actually discussed. Theodore
Sorenson's Kennedy, published only four years later, presents an understandably benign version:

That briefing confirmed, however, the harsh facts [Kennedy] already knew: (1)
that neither the Soviet Union nor the United States could 'win' a nuclear war in any
rational sense of the word; (2) that, except to deter an all-out Soviet attack, our
threat of 'massive retaliation' to every Communist move was no longer credible,
now that it invited our own destruction; and (3) that a policy of 'pre-emptive first
strike' or 'preventive war' was no longer open to either side, inasmuch as even a
surprise missile attack would trigger, before those missiles reached their targets, a
devastating retaliation that neither country could risk or accept. (p. 513)

Unfortunately, the critical third point was not yet true. As UnderSecretary of State Roger Hilsman
wrote in 1967:

As the intelligence community looked at their estimates in 1958, 1959, and 1960,
and even through the first half of 1961, they saw a missile gap developing that
would come to a peak about 1963. (p. 162)

What Hilsman does not say explicitly is that the estimated missile gap was in America's favor. The
Soviets had virtually no operational ICBMs in 1961, a fact known to American intelligence at
least by the end of 1960. And it appears the Russians did not solve their fundamental technical
problem, namely building a hydrogen bomb small enough to be carried by a missile of manageable
size, until years later. (Sorenson, 524; Bobbitt, 61).

Dean Rusk describes the meeting as an "awesome experience" in his memoirs, As I Saw It,
published in 1990.

President Kennedy clearly understood what nuclear war meant and was appalled
by it. In our many talks together, he never worried about the threat of
assassination, but he occasionally brooded over whether it would be his fate to
push the nuclear button... If any of us had doubts, that 1961 briefing convinced us
that a nuclear war must never be fought. Consequently, throughout the Kennedy
and Johnson years we worked to establish a stable deterrent... (p. 246-7)

What Rusk does not say is that the problem of a "stable deterrent" in 1961 did not lie in an
insufficiency of American missiles. It lay, rather, in the need for the Soviets to develop sufficient
effective ICBM forces, to deter us. That is an ugly but unavoidable fact. Rusk goes on, a page
later, with comments that appear almost anguished, and for which his own account of the meeting
gives no apparent rationale:

...the United States has never renounced possible first use of nuclear weapons. I
personally think that the United States is committed to a second strike only, after
we have received nuclear weapons on our own soil. Under no circumstances
would I have participated in an order to launch a first strike, with the possible
exception of a massive conventional attack on Western Europe. (p. 248)

The July 25 Speech on Berlin

Nuclear conflict was very much in the air that week. Another document of the time indicates the
directions Kennedy's nuclear thinking was actually taking -- quite the Cold Warrior, but at the
same time far removed from pre-emptive strikes and the inflexible all-out attack envisioned by the
Joint Chiefs. This is a paper entitled "Nuclear Strategy in the Berlin Crisis," by the economist
Thomas C. Schelling, which was sent to Hyannis Port over the weekend of July 21, 1961 and
which, as Bundy noted, made a "deep impression" on the President. In it Schelling presented
arguments for a capability, which did not then exist, to wage limited nuclear war:

the role of nuclears in Europe should not be to win a grand nuclear campaign, but
to pose a higher level of risk to the enemy. The important thing in limited nuclear
war is to impress the Soviet leadership with the risk of general war - a war that
may occur whether we or they intend it or not....We should plan for a war of
nerve, of demonstration, and of bargaining, not of tactical target destruction."
(Foreign Relations, XIV, 170).

Schelling also advocated centralization of the control of weapons in the hands of the President so
as to
permit deliberate, discriminating, selective use for dangerous nuclear bargaining.
This means preventing any use, by anyone, not specifically authorized as part of
the nuclear bargaining plan...This is a controlled strategic exchange." (op. cit.,

Schelling's paper thus called attention to a key concern: the diffuse character of nuclear command
and control in 1961 did not assure that the President in fact enjoyed the full authority over the
bomb which most Americans assumed to be the case. Establishing such control became a priority
for Kennedy in the months that followed. (Desmond Ball, 193).

The cumulative impact of this diverse advice can be seen in Kennedy's televised address to the
nation on July 25, 1961. "We cannot and will not permit the Communists to drive us out of
Berlin, either gradually or by force" Yet Kennedy also stressed the dangers: "miscommunication
could rain down more devastation in several hours than has been wrought in all the wars of human
history" (Newman, 115). He asked for increased military appropriations and called out 150,000
reserve personnel. But he did not engage the Soviets. The wall was allowed to remain intact
when constructed in August of 1961, a symbolic column of soldiers was sent through to West
Berlin, and a fallout shelter program was undertaken in the United States.

With the Burris memorandum, the reasoning behind the fallout shelter program now begins to fall
into place. As a civil defense measure against a Soviet nuclear attack, the flimsy cinderblock
shelters Americans were told to build were absurd. But they could indeed protect those in them,
for a couple of weeks, from radiation drifting thousands of miles after a U.S. pre-emptive strike
on the Soviet Union. It is known that Kennedy later regretted this program.

Down the Road: 1962 and 1963

The U.S. was far ahead in the arms race. Yet the military continued to press for a rapid build-up
of strategic missiles. Curtis LeMay had asked for at least 2400 Minutemen; Thomas Powers of
the Strategic Air Command had asked for 10,000. All were to be unleashed in a single paroxysm
of mass annihilation, know as SIOP, the Single Integrated Operating Plan.

SIOP was a recipe for blowing up the world, whether in a first or a second strike. As McGeorge
Bundy wrote to the President on July 7, 1961:

...All agree that the current strategic war plan is dangerously rigid and, if continued
without amendment, may leave you with very little choice as to how you face the
moment of thermonuclear truth. We believe that you may want to raise this
question with Bob McNamara in order to have a prompt review and new orders if
necessary. In essence, the current plan calls for shooting off everything we have in
one shot, and is so constructed as to make any more flexible course very difficult.
(quoted in Kaplan, 297)

During that summer of 1961, the Defense Secretary ordered an overhaul of SIOP carried out by
RAND analysts (including Daniel Ellsberg) and quickly approved by the JCS. (Bobbitt, 48)
Kennedy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara eventually imposed a limit of 1,000
Minuteman missiles, angering the Chiefs. Kennedy also launched efforts to gain operational
control of the nuclear force, then far from being securely concentrated in the President's hands.

The Burris memorandum may help to explain both the military's drive for a vast U.S. nuclear
build-up, despite the fact that America was already far ahead, and the resistance from JFK and
McNamara. The Net Evaluation Subcommittee had offered the Pentagon, the CIA, and President
Kennedy a glimpse of the opportunity that lay ahead in the winter of 1963: U.S. nuclear
superiority so complete that a first strike might be successful. But it also alerted Kennedy to a
danger. American nuclear superiority might then be so complete, that rogue elements from the
military and intelligence forces, seeking to precipitate an American first strike, might not feel
deterred by fear of Soviet retaliation. What was the dispute over the numbers of land-based
ICBMs really about? To be sure, at some level it involved the sufficiency of deterrence. But there
may also have been an even graver concern: the offensive capabilities of the nuclear force, at a
time when the President could not be sure of his control over the nuclear button.

By October of 1962, the U.S. nuclear lead remained strong, though perhaps not yet air-tight,
given the number of Soviet bombers and the risks to Europe. Twenty years later, Anthony
Cordesman described the picture:

During the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, the US had approximately 1500
B-47s and 500 B-52s, and had already deployed over 200 of its first generation of
ICBMs. In marked contrast, the Soviet strategic missile threat consisted of a few
token ICBM deployments whose unreliability was so great that it was uncertain
exactly whom they threatened. Soviet long range bomber forces consisted only of
100 Tu-Bears and 35 May Bison, whose range and flight characteristics forced
them to fly at medium and high altitudes, and which made them extremely
vulnerable to US fighters and surface-to-air missiles. (p. 7, cited in Bobbitt)

Kennedy resisted strong pressures to test this advantage in October of 1962, as he might have had
to do, had he agreed to launch bombing raids on the Cuban missile installations. Nikita
Khrushchev's memoirs, published in 1970, tell of graphic fears expressed by Robert Kennedy to
the Russian ambassador, Anatoly Dobrynin at the peak of the crisis:

Even though the President himself is very much against starting a war over Cuba,
an irreversible chain of events could occur against his will... If the situation
continues for much longer, the President is not sure that the military will not
overthrow him and seize power. The American military could get out of control.
(p. 497)

Not even the American editors of Khrushchev's memoirs took these remarks seriously at the time
they were first published. A rare editorial note reads: "Obviously this is Khrushchev's own version
of what was reported to him. There is no evidence that the President was acting out of fear of a
military take- over." (Khrushchev, 498).

Looking down the road, the Net Evaluation calendar of 1961 implied that the period from Cuba
to Dallas and just after was, perhaps, critical to the survival of the world. Had tensions escalated
or been aroused in some violent way in late 1963, the President might have faced an excruciating
choice -- to strike first, or to give up "victory" during the last brief moment in all history when it
could conceivably have been won.

We cannot say whether Kennedy believed the Net Evaluation calendar, or indeed, perhaps equally
serious, whether he believed that others in the government might believe it. We do know that the
last year of his life saw repeated initiatives to settle conflicts and reduce tensions: the
normalizaton of Berlin, the withdrawal of missiles from Turkey, the no-invasion pledge on Cuba
and the effort, only partially effective, to end to the covert campaign (OP/MONGOOSE) against
Castro, the test-ban treaty, and -- though the point is disputed -- the order in October 1963 to
begin a phased withdrawal from Vietnam. By November of 1963, the potential for "heightened
tensions" leading to uncontrollable pressures to strike first had indeed been reduced. And, some
time later, the Soviet Rocket Forces did evidently shut the window, building ICBMs more rapidly
than the U.S. could target them; the Soviets also improved their submarine force. From that
point, the world probably became a good deal more secure. But exactly when this happened is not

And Lyndon Baines Johnson, the recipient of Burris's note, was still uneasy on the point when he
assumed office on November 22d, 1963, amid swirling rumors connecting Lee Harvey Oswald,
falsely as we now know, to the KGB. David Wise, then Bureau chief of the New York Herald
Tribune reports hearing Johnson tell in late 1963 of recruiting Earl Warren to head the Warren
Commission in the following terms:

...when Warren came to the White House, [LBJ] told the Chief Justice he knew he
had been a first lieutenant in World War I, and he knew Earl Warren would walk
across the Atlantic ocean to save the lives of three Americans, and possibly a
hundred million lives were at stake here... (p. 292)

Whose lives, exactly?

One meeting, even in the White House, does not establish that first-strike was in fact the nuclear
policy of the United States. Kennedy's recorded response, moreover, indicates his personal
determination, shared by his civilian advisers, that it never become so. But we do know, from
Howard Burris's notes, that a first strike plan had authors close to the decision center. Kennedy's
subsequent actions and Johnson's eerie remark are consistent with the possibility that the calendar
and risks of a first-strike window remained in the minds of both men as late as November, 1963
and possibly in Johnson's mind for a good deal longer.

In any event, the fact that first-strike planning got as far as it did raises grave questions about the
history of the Cold War. Much more needs to be known,: about nuclear decisionmaking under
Eisenhower and Nixon, about the events of late 1963, about later technical developments such as
MIRV and Star Wars. Surely it is now time to declassify all records on this and related history.


Heather A. Purcell and James K. Galbraith are at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs,
The University of Texas at Austin.


Desmond Ball, Politics and Force Levels: The Strategic Missile Program of the Kennedy
Administration, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

John Baylis and John Garnett, eds. The Makers of Nuclear Strategy, New York: St. Martin's
Press, 1991.

Philip Bobbitt, Democracy and Deterrence, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.

Philip Bobbitt, Lawrence Freedman and Gregory Treverton, U.S. Nuclear Strategy, New York:
New York University Press, 1989.

McGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years, New
York: Random House, 1988.

Grant Burns, The Nuclear Present, Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1992.

Anthony Cordesman, Deterrence in the '80s, London: International Institute for Strategic Studies,

Foreign Relations of the United States 1961-1963, Vol XIV, Berlin Crisis 1961-1962.
Washington: United States Department of State, 1993.

Lawrence Freedman, U.S. Intelligence and the Soviet Strategic Threat, Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1986.

David Goldfisher, The Best Defense: Policy Alternatives for Nuclear Security From the 1950's to
the 1990's, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.

Fred M. Kaplan, The Wizards of Armageddon, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991.

Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation: The Politics of Foreign Policy in the Administration of John
F. Kennedy, New York: Doubleday, 1967.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969, New York:
Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1971.

Nikita S. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers, Boston: Little Brown, 1970.

John M. Newman, JFK and Vietnam, New York: Warner Books, 1992.

Richard Reeves, President Kennedy, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.

Dean Rusk, As I Saw It, New York: WW Norton, 1990.

Arthur Schlesinger, jr. Robert Kennedy and His Times, New York: Ballantine, 1978.

David Schwartzman, Games of Chicken: Four Decades of U.S. Nuclear Policy, New York:
Praeger, 1988.

Theodore C. Sorenson, Kennedy, New York: Harper and Row, 1965.

David Wise, The Politics of Lying, New York: Random House, 1973.


A criminal idea, America's violation of The Nuremberg principles by James K Galbraith

Five former Nato generals, including the former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili, have written a "radical manifesto" which states that "the West must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the 'imminent' spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction."

In other words, the generals argue that "the west" - meaning the nuclear powers including the United States, France and Britain - should prepare to use nuclear weapons, not to deter a nuclear attack, not to retaliate following such an attack, and not even to pre-empt an imminent nuclear attack. Rather, they should use them to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a non-nuclear state. And not only that, they should use them to prevent the acquisition of biological or chemical weapons by such a state.

Under this doctrine, the US could have used nuclear weapons in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, to destroy that country's presumed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons - stockpiles that did not in fact exist. Under it, the US could have used nuclear weapons against North Korea in 2006. The doctrine would also have justified a nuclear attack on Pakistan at any time prior to that country's nuclear tests in 1998. Or on India, at any time prior to 1974.

The Nuremberg principles are the bedrock of international law on war crimes. Principle VI criminalises the "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression ..." and states that the following are war crimes:

"Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation of slave labor or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity."

To state the obvious: the use of a nuclear weapon on the military production facilities of a non-nuclear state will mean dropping big bombs on populated areas. Nuclear test sites are kept remote for obvious reasons; research labs, reactors and enrichment facilities need not be. Nuclear bombs inflict total devastation on the "cities, towns or villages" that they hit. They are the ultimate in "wanton destruction". Their use against a state with whom we are not actually at war cannot, by definition, be "justified by military necessity".

"The west" has lived from 1946 to the present day with a nuclear-armed Russia; no necessity of using nuclear weapons against that country ever arose. Similarly with China, since 1964. To attack some new nuclear pretender now would certainly constitute the "waging of a war of aggression ..." That's a crime. And the planning and preparation for such a war is no less a crime than the war itself.

Next, consider what it means to determine that a country is about to acquire nuclear weapons. How does one know? The facilities that Iran possesses to enrich uranium are legal under the non-proliferation treaty. Yes, they might be used, at some point, to provide fuel for bombs. But maybe they won't be. How could we tell? And suppose we were wrong? Ambiguity is the nature of this situation, and of the world in which we live. During the cold war, ambiguity helped keep both sides safe: it was a stabilising force. We would not use nuclear weapons, under the systems then devised, unless ambiguity disappeared. But the generals' doctrine has no tolerance for ambiguity; it would make ambiguity itself a cause for war. Thus, causes for war could be made to arise, wherever anyone in power wanted them to.

The generals' doctrine would not only violate international law, it repudiates the principle of international law. For a law to be a law, it must apply equally to all. But the doctrine holds that "the west" is fundamentally a different entity from all other countries. As the former Reagan official Paul Craig Roberts has pointed out, it holds that our use of weapons of mass destruction to prevent the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction is not, itself, an illegal use of weapons of mass destruction. Thus "the west" can stand as judge, jury and executioner over all other countries. By what right? No law works that way. And no country claiming such a right can also claim to respect the law, or ask any other country to respect it.

Conversely, suppose we stated the generals' doctrine as a principle: that any nuclear state which suspects another state of being about to acquire nuclear weapons has the right to attack that state - and with nuclear weapons if it has them. Now suppose North Korea suspects South Korea of that intention. Does North Korea acquire a right to strike the South? Under any principle of law, the generals' answer must be, that it does. Thus their doctrine does not protect against nuclear war. It leads, rather, directly to nuclear war.

Is this proposed doctrine unprecedented? No, in fact it is not. For as Heather Purcell and I documented in 1994, US nuclear war-fighting plans in 1961 called for an unprovoked attack on the Soviet Union, as soon as sufficient nuclear forces were expected to be ready, in late 1963. President Kennedy quashed the plan. As JFK's adviser Ted Sorensen put it in a letter to the New York Times on July 1, 2002:

"A pre-emptive strike is usually sold to the president as a 'surgical' air strike; there is no such thing. So many bombings are required that widespread devastation, chaos and war unavoidably follow ... Yes, Kennedy 'thought about' a pre-emptive strike; but he forcefully rejected it, as would any thoughtful American president or citizen."

It's not just citizens and presidents who are obliged to think carefully about what General Shalikashvili and his British, French, German and Dutch colleagues now suggest. Military officers - as they know well - also have that obligation. Nuremberg Principle IV states:

"The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."

Any officer in the nuclear chain of command of the United States, Britain or France, faced with an order to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state would be obliged, as a matter of law, to ponder those words with care. For ultimately, as Nuremberg showed, it is not force that prevails. In the final analysis, it is law.

Don't Be Fooled By The Myth Of the Psychopath John McCain

By Johann Hari

25/01/08 "The Independent" -- -- A lazy, hazy myth has arisen out of the mists of New Hampshire and South Carolina. Across the pan-Atlantic press, the grizzled 71-year-old Vietnam vet, John McCain, is being billed as the Republican liberals can live with. He is "a bipartisan progressive"", "a principled hard liberal", "a decent man" – in the words of liberal newspapers. His fragile new frontrunner status as we go into Super Tuesday is being seen as something to cautiously welcome, a kick to the rotten Republican establishment.

But the truth is that McCain is the candidate we should most fear. Not only is he to the right of Bush on a whole range of subjects, he is also the Republican candidate most likely to dispense with Hillary or Barack.

McCain is third-generation navy royalty, raised from a young age to be a senior figure in the Armed Forces, like his father and grandfather before him. He was sent to one of the most elite boarding schools in America, then to a naval academy where he ranked 894th out of 899 students in ability. He used nepotism to get ahead: when he was rejected by the National War College, he used his father's contacts with the Secretary of the Navy to make them reconsider. He then swiftly married the heiress to a multi-million dollar fortune.

Right up to his twenties, he remained a strikingly violent man, "ready to fight at the drop of a hat", according to his biographer Robert Timberg. This rage seems to be at the core of his personality: describing his own childhood, McCain has written: "At the smallest provocation I would go off into a mad frenzy, and then suddenly crash to the floor unconscious. When I got angry I held my breath until I blacked out."

But he claims he was transformed by his experiences in Vietnam – a war he still defends as "noble" and "winnable", if only it had been fought harder. (More than three million Vietnamese died; how much harder could it be?) His plane was shot down on a bombing raid over Hanoi, and he was captured and tortured for five years. To this day, he cannot lift his arms high enough to comb his own hair.

On his release, he used his wife's fortune to run to as a Republican senator. He was a standard-issue Reaganite corporate Republican – until the Keating Five corruption scandal consumed him. In 1987, it was revealed that McCain, along with four other senators, had taken huge campaign donations from a fraudster called Charles Keating. In return they pressured government regulators not to look too hard into Keating's affairs, allowing him to commit even more fraud. McCain later admitted: "I did it for no other reason than I valued [Keating's] support."

McCain took the only course that could possibly preserve his reputation: he turned the scandal into a debate about the political system, rather than his own personal corruption. He said it showed how "we need to drive the special interests out of Washington", and became a high-profile campaigner for campaign finance reform. But privately, his behaviour hasn't changed much. For example, in 2000 he lobbied federal regulators hard on behalf of a major campaign contributor, Paxson Communications, in an act the regulators spluttered was "highly unusual". He has never won an election without outspending his opponent.

But McCain has distinguished himself most as an über-hawk on foreign policy. To give a brief smorgasbord of his views: at a recent rally, he sang "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann". He says North Korea should be threatened with "extinction".

McCain has mostly opposed using US power for humanitarian goals, jeering at proposals to intervene in Rwanda or Bosnia – but he is very keen to use it for great power imperialism. He learnt this philosophy from his father and his granddad Slew, who fought in the Philippine wars at the turn of the 20th century, where he was part of a mission to crush the local resistance to the US invasion. They did it by forcing the entire population from their homes at gunpoint into "protection zones", and gunning down anybody over the age of ten who was found outside them. Today, McCain dreamily describes this as "an exotic adventure" which his grandfather "generally enjoyed".

Then McCain's father, John, led the US invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965, at a time when there was a conflict on the Caribbean island. On one side, there were forces loyal to Juan Bosch, the democratically elected left-wing President who was committed to land redistribution and helping the poor. On the other side, there were forces who had overthrown the elected government and looked nostalgically to the playboy tyranny of Rafael Trujillo. John McCain Snr intervened to ensure the supporters of the democratic government were crushed, bragging that it taught the natives "how to behave themselves". He saw this as part of a wider mission, where the US would take over Britain's role as a "world empire".

These beliefs drive McCain today. He brags he would be happy for US troops to remain in Iraq for 100 years, and declares: "I'm not at all embarrassed of my friendship with Henry Kissinger; I'm proud of it." His most thorough biographer – and recent supporter – Matt Welch concludes: "McCain's programme for fighting foreign wars would be the most openly militaristic and interventionist platform in the White House since Teddy Roosevelt... [it] is considerably more hawkish than anything George Bush has ever practised." With him as president, we could expect much more aggressive destabilisation of Venezuela and Bolivia – and more.

So why do so many nice liberals have a weak spot for McCain? Well, to his credit, he doesn't hate immigrants: he proposed a programme to legalise the 12 million undocumented workers in the US. He sincerely opposes torture, as a survivor of it himself. He has apologised for denying global warming and now advocates a cap on greenhouse gas emissions – but only if China and India can also be locked into the system. He is somewhat uncomfortable with the religious right (while supporting a ban on abortion and gay marriage). It is a sign of how far to the right the Republican Party has drifted that these are considered signs of liberalism, rather than basic humanity.

Yet these sprinklings of sanity – onto a very extreme programme – are enough for a superficial, glib press to present McCain as "bipartisan" and "centrist". Will this be enough to put white hair into the White House? At the moment, he has considerably higher positive ratings than Hillary Clinton, and beats her in some match-up polls. If we don't start warning that the Real McCain is not the Real McCoy, we might sleepwalk into four more years of Republicanism.

John McCain's traitorous disregard for the victims of the USS Liberty and their families: like father, like son.

Who Owns the World? The United States acts as if it does...

The United States acts as if it owns the world. This might seem counter-intuitive. After all, more and more foreign entities are lapping up bargain properties in our "homeland." And aside from U.S. military bases -- a not inconsiderable amount of territory --- the United States is not land-grabbing the way imperial Rome or London did. But since when was ownership all about possessing the deed to the property? Bullies can own the neighborhood, even if they're only renting a room in one of the houses. It has a lot to do with attitude. And the Bush administration has attitude up the wazoo.

Both sides of the political spectrum agree about world ownership. The left despairs of the U.S. government's attitude. The radical right believes that the United States should own the world and snarls with perfect DeNiro intonation: "what are you going to do about it, huh?" The "moderate middle" pretends that the United States abides by international law, indeed that we are largely responsible for the dispersion of wealth, political power, and transparency throughout the world. There might have been some excesses during the Bush years, the moderates caution, but the Dems will put everything back to rights, a notoriously dubious proposition.

So, do we or don't we own the world? Let's go through these four key elements of ownership and see if they apply to Uncle Sam.

You Break It, You Own It: If a retail outlet filled in for a turn as president of the UN Security Council, imagine the bill that would be sent to the U.S. Treasury: There would the full costs of Iraq. There would be Afghanistan. There would be the economies we broke through odious debt. There would a large chunk of the ice cap. Ah, it's a long list. But, as always happens, when the bill eventually does come due, those responsible will be beyond the reach of the repo men. And America will rely on the same argument that it now dismisses from the poorest countries in the world: "hey, but we didn't run up the tab!"

You Have Exclusive Access: Russia occupies Afghanistan and the United States goes ballistic. The same with Vietnam invading Cambodia. And now the Bush administration accuses Iran of sending its troops to Iraq. "I saw recently in the Christian Science Monitor, something like 'New Study of Foreign Fighters in Iraq,'" Noam Chomsky says in an FPIF interview with Michael Shank. "Who are the foreign fighters in Iraq? Some guy who came in from Saudi Arabia. How about the 160,000 American troops? Well, they're not foreign fighters in Iraq because we own the world; therefore we can't be foreign fighters anywhere. Like, if the United States invades Canada, we won't be foreign. And if anybody resists it, they're enemy combatants, we send them to Guantanamo."

You Extract Rent: How is it exactly that the United States, the world's largest debtor nation, doesn't have to submit to an IMF stabilization program or answer to the requirements of its mainly Asian creditors? Because the U.S. dollar is used for most of the world's financial transactions and remains the reserve currency of choice. Wikipedia, however, tells me that there are now more euros in circulation in the world than dollars. That's perhaps one reason why Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen began to demand payment in euros last year. But as long as the U.S. military throws its weight around and adopts an imperial attitude, America thinks it can postpone the inevitable knock on the door. And in the meantime, Americans will continue to live on the "rental income" that the rest of the world pays us.

You Call the Shots: Let's see, who would be a good candidate to head up the World Bank? What about Robert McNamara, who basically came out and admitted to being a war criminal in The Fog of War? Or how about Paul Wolfowitz, who we can only hope will one day have to submit to the questions of filmmaker Errol Morris (or better yet, the judges at the Hague)? After the Wolfowitz debacle, you'd think that the world would rise up in revolt and say, "Let's put the 'world' back into the World Bank." Instead, the United States gets to choose again and selects former deputy U.S. secretary of state Robert Zoellick. He's not the worst of the Bush team. But if he has a choice between taking a call from Condi or Lula, which do you think he'll take?

According to these four criteria, the United States certainly acts like it owns the place. We don't have to send out proconsuls or viceroys to administer our properties around the world to qualify as owners (and sometimes the heads of the various regional U.S. military commands act a lot like proconsuls!). The Bush administration's attitude toward global power is not all that different from how its operatives worked to consolidate presidential power. As David Addington, Vice President Cheney's counsel from 2001 to 2005 explains the strategy: "We're going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop."

We're seeing signs of this larger force emerge here in the United States. When will it emerge globally?