Imperial Default for Dummies

by Paul William Roberts

 

Editor's Note: Our Senior Writer, Paul William Roberts, gives us a rollicking tour of the Bush-induced Gotterdamerung in Iraq. Roberts, whose book, A War Against Truth, is one of the very best accounts of the mad march to aggression, was in Iraq during the earliest days of the invasion, as "Shock and Awe" gave way to shakedown and atrocity. If you want to grasp the realities about the Middle East, about the Iraq war, ask someone who knows. Paul William Roberts knows. 

A friend of mine in Baghdad wrote to me a few days ago about a conversation he’d had with an elderly lady from West Virginia who was seated next to him on an airplane between Los Angeles and Washington earlier this year. The subject under discussion was how Iraqis generally view the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, and my friend was trying to find an analogy that would work for a sweet eighty-five-year-old grandmother who had never traveled anywhere beyond the USA in her life. He came up with this:

Imagine you are visiting with one of your daughters who is married to a man who is a bit of a brute. He beats the kids occasionally and has knocked her about from time to time as well. You don’t like it, she doesn’t like it, the kids don’t like it, but at the end of the day he’s Dad, he works hard, he provides, and no one’s going to break up the family after all this time – besides, the monster’s mellowing with age and hasn’t hit anyone very hard in a long while.

So there you all are, watching TV one night, the kids doing their homework or playing downstairs, your daughter preparing dinner in the kitchen, the son-in-law having his beer and reading the sports page….When all of a sudden, the front door is smashed open, there are loud explosions all around the house, and five men come crashing in through the windows on ropes, as another five pour through the broken door firing guns.

One of the kids is killed, another staggers around covered in blood screaming, a third lies groaning somewhere nearby, then flames erupt from the kitchen as your daughter runs out, her body on fire, and you feel something smash into your knee breaking the leg. Before anyone can work out what’s happening, there’s another terrifying explosion above and the house rocks from side to side as the roof caves in and the whole structure collapses around you in rubble and dust. As you wipe the gravel and concrete from your face, you see that some of the intruders have handcuffed the son-in-law and are dragging him away at gunpoint. One of these gunmen then comes over and identifies himself as a representative of the Chinese Children’s Aid Society of Beijing, saying they would have come sooner but they had trouble getting visas.

They were here now, though, and your family was at last free of the brute and you could finally relax. Another gunman sweeps a bit of rubble to one side with a broom and apologizes for the mess, giving you the business card of a local contractor who also happens to be a friend of his brother and specializes in fixing houses reduced to rubble for a reasonable price. The men then say in a chorus, Have a nice day! They throw the brute into a van and are off leaving you sitting there alone in the dark with raindrops starting to pitter-patter on your head. How do you think you would you feel about all this?

“Well, I wouldn’t be happy,” the old lady apparently replied.

“And that’s pretty much how we feel,” said my friend.


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DON’T NOT STAY THE COURSE

by Will Durst

If you need more proof that President George Bush is as clueless as a goldfish on a leash in a space shuttle, you obviously didn’t see him in all his counter- intuitive glory this week adamantly refuting the slogan of “staying the course” while keeping its policy EXACTLY THE SAME. That’s right, George Bush is cutting and running from “stay the course.” This doesn’t mean he’s a Defeatlican, though. Because “we are winning in Iraq and will continue to win.” And you’d better hope we do, because if this is winning, you really REALLY don’t want to see what losing looks like.

He went on to speak of the differences between “a timetable” and “benchmarks,” declaring one to be the way of the winner and the other the path to Loserville City. Now, as to which is which, your guess is as good as anybody’s. And that probably includes his own staff. It definitely includes Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki who either has or hasn’t agreed to benchmarks or timetables or touchstones or yardsticks, although a Donald Rumsfeld yard sign looks to be entirely out of the question.

Straight lines. Stark choices. Bold differences. Say what you will about Mister Bush, that’s what he’s always stood for. “Us versus them.” “Good versus evil.” “Black versus white.” Now, that may be a great world view… for an eighth grader, but hey, in the last six years of fighting for the hearts and minds of American voters, its worked. Nuance is for sissies.

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What’s in a Word: Wal-Mart and the New Jersey Supreme Court

By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

 

Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party used the Bible and their perversion of Christianity to promote bigotry, discrimination and hatred of Jews, gypsies, the physically and mentally impaired and, of course, homosexuals. The Klu Klux Klan still uses the Bible and their perversion of Christianity to promote bigotry, discrimination and hatred of Blacks, Jews and, of course, homosexuals.

 

The American Family Association constantly uses the Bible and their perversion of Christianity to promote bigotry, discrimination and hatred, but they have a more focused target: homosexuals and any group or company that supports the social recognition or legal equality of gay and lesbian Americans, such as the dastardly “pro-homosexual” Wal-Mart chain.

{mosmedia} 

Don Wildmon’s American Family Association – which is dedicated to demeaning, denigrating and, if possible, destroying gay and lesbian Americans and their families – has 

called on Christian consumers to spend their dollars elsewhere as a sign of their displeasure with Wal-Mart’s pro-homosexual leanings, says the nation’s largest retailer is not just working with the homosexual agenda of the NGLCC [National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce], it is promoting it. As proof, AFA offers up examples of books available for purchase through Wal-Mart’s online bookstore – books the pro-family group contends support or defend homosexuality.
 
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No-brainer: Hillary loves Dick (Cheney, that is)

by Mickey Z.

When you're bored, get on board. For some that might mean a surfboard, a snowboard, or maybe a skateboard. For Vice President Dick Cheney, when he's not busy shooting lawyers, hiding out in undisclosed locations, or tampering with the U.S. Constitution, it's waterboarding for him. Plus, if we're to believe the rumors, Deadeye Dick may have an unlikely new playmate... a certain blonde with the initials HRC.

While being interviewed on Fargo radio, the VP was asked: "Would you agree that a dunk in the water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" Dick replied, "It's a no-brainer for me." To him, holding someone's head under water until they talk (a.k.a. "waterboarding") is just part of "a fairly robust interrogation program."

Which brings us to the mysterious HRC and I don't think I have to tell you her full name. Just a few months ago Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton declared that the Military Commissions Act "undermines the Geneva Conventions by allowing the president to issue executive orders to redefine what are permissible interrogation techniques." She wondered: "Have we fallen so low as to debate how much torture we are willing to stomach?"
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Invisible Men

by Dr. Paul J. Balles


“I am an invisible man," said Ralph Ellison in the prologue to his novel The Invisible Man, "When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me."


The main character is anonymous and unseen. The whites in society refuse to see him except as a black. Much has changed in America since the 50's appearance of The Invisible Man, at least for those who have been able to distinguish themselves, primarily in the media.


At the same time, others lack any recognizable individual identity. Blacks seen as African refugees merge back into masses without identities. To most Americans, Orientals from China or Japan or Korea are indistinguishable as members of their countries much less as individuals.


Americans generally lack both the ability and desire to distinguish Arabs from Persians, and even less capable of seeing distinct and recognizable features. Thus, Arabs and Persians number among Ellison's invisible men.


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American Voters Must Not Reward Failure

By Ramzy Baroud

How critical is the situation in Iraq? It depends on who you ask and when. Common sense tells us that the situation there has always been critical. In fact, one could dare claim that the country has been stricken with political and social upheaval since the early 1990s, when the US led its ‘coalition of the willing’ to liberate Kuwait.


Unfortunately, since American intent was hardly freedom for Kuwait for its own sake, the violent episode didn’t end right there and then. The war established a completely different mood in the region where a permanent American military presence and subsequent built ups threatened a second, and much larger war.


Unlike the dominant narrative, however, the 1990-91 war never brought peace or tranquility to the region; rather, it agitated internal strife within Iraq, positioning the entire region through the barrel of a gun. Over the next decade, US-led UN economic sanctions wrought untold destruction to the very fabric of Iraqi society, as hundreds of thousands perished because of lack of medicine and food. The US government calculated that a weary Iraq could not withstand a future military action, and that ravished Iraqis would welcome the toppling of the Iraqi dictator.


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James Petras' New Book: The Power of Israel in the United States

by Stephen Lendman

James Petras is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He's a noted academic figure on the US Left and a well-respected Latin American expert and longtime chronicler of the region's popular struggles. He's also an advisor to the landless workers in Brazil and the unemployed workers movement in Argentina. Along the way, he managed to find time to write many hundreds of articles and 62 books published in 29 languages including his latest one in which he discusses another vital world region he has extensive knowledge of and has written frequently about - the Middle East and specifically the state of Israel and its relations with its neighbors, the Palestinians and, most importantly and the subject of this book, the US.

Petras' powerful new book is titled The Power of Israel in the United States. It's a work of epic writing and essential reading documenting the enormous influence of the Jewish Lobby on US policy in the Middle East. It focuses like a laser to assure that policy conforms with Israel's long-term goal for regional hegemony. The Lobby's influence is broad and deep enough to include officials at the highest levels of government, the business community, academia, the clergy (especially the dominant Christian fundamentalists/Christian Zionists) and the mass media. Petras shows how together they're able to assure the full and unconditional US support for all elements of Israel's agenda going back decades even when that agenda harms our interests such as the unwinnable war in Iraq, any future one against Iran if it's undertaken, and the appalling and brutal subjugation and colonization of the Palestinian people that serves no US interest whatever. In spite of it, the Lobby is able to get the US to go along with Israel unconditionally with no serious opposition to it tolerated.

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The Battle in Seattle (Looking Back Seven Years)

by Mickey Z.


When activists made global headlines by essentially shutting down the meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle in late 1999, the term "anti-globalization" was bandied about without much serious explanation. The majority of those in the streets were not against the literal concept of global interaction; it was the current form of remote control imperialism euphemistically known as trade or globalization that inspired the demonstrations.

Created in 1995, the WTO is a bonanza for corporate profit that slipped in under the public radar. "Most of America slept right through the birth of this 134-nation organization, including many in Congress who voted to ratify U.S. membership," says Mark Weisbrot, Research Director of the Preamble Center, in Washington, D.C. "In the fall of 1994 Ralph Nader's Public Citizen offered $10,000 to any member of Congress that would read the 500-page treaty and answer ten simple questions to prove it. Senator Hank Brown of Colorado, a Republican who had voted for NAFTA and planned to vote for the WTO, took the bet. He passed the quiz with a perfect score, collected the winnings (for a charity of his choice), and then proceeded to announce that having read the agreement, he felt compelled to vote against it.

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Catapulting the Propaganda with the Washington Post

by Chris Floyd 

The ever persipacious Angry Arab, As'ad AbuKhalil, plucks out the hidden (or not-so-hidden) propaganda in a passing phrase in an otherwise unremarkable Washington Post story about Syria. Let the good doctor tell it in his own words:

[From the WP]: "Horror at the bloodshed accompanying the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq has accomplished what human rights activists, analysts and others say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been unable to do by himself: silence public demands for democratic reforms here." (Notice the casual language of the Washington Post. Notice how they insert propaganda lines into articles. "US effort to bring democracy in Iraq"? Are you kidding me? Does the writer of the article really believe that this was what it was about?)

Here we see the falsity of the supposed "objectivity" fetish of the mainstream media laid bare. The fetish is entirely focused on the word "objectivity," never on its practice. There is nothing remotely objective about using "the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq" as a standard descriptor of the war and occupation. It is not an any way a neutral reflection of reality. It simply parrots a Bush Administration propaganda point without question, without nuance.

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Leaving the Scene of the Crime?

by William Bowles

“ The Armed Forces Press Service recently quoted Army Chief of Staff General Peter J. Schoomaker as saying that the current level of soldiers in Iraq could remain constant through 2010.” — ‘Iraq and Afghanistan: Staying Until the Fight is Over’ October 25, 2006

The Independent’s front page head for Wednesday 25 October proclaimed loudly “We’re out of here” purportedly the words of General George Casey, the US’s head military honcho in Iraq. Of course the devil lives in the small print as any reading ‘between the lines’ reveals. And in any case, Casey’s comments are designed precisely to give the impression that a pullout is imminent when in reality, there is no way the US can leave voluntarily, there is simply too much at stake.

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Angelina Can Eat My Ashes

By Jennifer Matsui

 

Dear Madonna,

 

You are no doubt dismayed by the public outrage that has greeted your decision to adopt a baby boy from Malawi - a country that most people in the West probably only know from the ad campaigns of charitable organizations showing sickly babies covered in flies, while being watched over by your former wedding guests, now sockless and stubbled with earnest three day beards.

 

I imagine that you are shocked, truly shocked that anyone would question your decision to remove a child from such unimaginable suffering as having Bono and Bob Geldof breathing down his crib. And what kind of person would condemn someone so young to a life of grinding poverty, especially someone with millions at her disposal; a loving "mammy" who will tote her little 'mchanga' around in a 1,200 thread count batik Snuggly specially designed for him by Tom Ford himself, and provide him with every consumer item under the less skin-damaging sun

Little David Banda is the luckiest boy in the world, you repeat to yourself 666 times a day while fiddling with your little red thread bracelet, because that's how every self-serving mantra eventually becomes truth. It's written in the Khabible. One minute little whats-his-name is languishing in a overcrowded, under funded orphanage in one of the poorest nations on earth, and the next minute he's soaring over the ocean in a private jet to make his new home on a palatial English estate, where he will be tended to by a complete staff of servants and diapered in monogrammed Pampers.

 

You have even sweetened the deal with a complete DVD box set of 'The Lion King' so that he can immerse himself in African culture. You would think that would shut up those annoying people who think removing a child from his own people and culture is somehow a bad thing, even if said culture hasn't yet invented pots to piss in.

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Long Black Veil: Tony Blair's Deadly Game of Muslim-Bashing

by Chris Floyd

 

This is my latest piece for Truthout.org.

I.
For centuries in Britain, each sentence of death was accompanied by a strange ritual. Before handing down the verdict, the judge would first take a piece of black silk cloth and put it on his head.  With this rather bizarre and ancient drapery covering his powdered wig – itself a relic, a cultural fossil carried into modern times – he would then render the prisoner into the hangman's care.

In such a guise, the black cloth once represented the full, dread measure of state power. Today, however, a cloth of similar size, shape and color – worn across the faces of a small number of some of the most vulnerable members of British society – has become a target of that same dread power, after Britain's high and mighty unleashed a sudden, thunderous sneak attack on the nation's Muslim minority, centering the campaign around the tabloid-ready symbol of the veil.

But although the carefully orchestrated furor over this seldom-seen scrap of material has been so ludicrously disproportionate that even the Blair-fawning New York Times cried foul in a recent editorial, the campaign – and its disturbing implications – go far beyond the issue of religious vestments. Indeed, the veil row is just a covering for what appears to be a deliberate, wide-ranging program of diversion and division, aimed at creating a scapegoat – "strangers in our midst," "the enemy within" – to bear the blame for the sins of the Blair government: the fear, repression, guilt, lies and rancor produced by the abomination in Iraq.

The anti-Muslim campaign is not merely rhetorical – although the heated rhetoric from Tony Blair and many of his ministers has certainly been bad enough, giving a patina of respectability to more extremist viewpoints, now seen as a legitimate part of the "national debate. (Much as the button-pushing imbroglio over immigration in the United States has transformed fringe white-power advocates into respectable media figures, lauded by the likes of Lou Dobbs and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and welcomed in the halls of Congress.) No, Blair's Islamophobia-fest has bite with its bark: not only the on-going evisceration of civil liberties, which has fallen almost entirely on British Muslims, but new measures as well – such as the Stasi-like plan to induce university professors and staff to spy on Muslim students and report all "suspicious" behavior to the security organs.


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