Tuesday, September 3, 2013


2013.  Compiled by Dick Bennett, Building a Culture of Peace and Justice.   

US Imperialism Newsletters
#1 July 3, 2007
#2 Sept. 20, 2007
#3 April 7, 2008
#4  Nov. 30, 2008
#5   September 13, 2011
#6 October 16, 2011
#7  January 16, 2012
#8 June 3, 2012
#9 Oct. 20, 2012
#10 April 5, 2013
#11 June 3, 2013
#12 July 19, 2013

“A people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”  James Madison

Knowledge and Action Against US Wars
     An underlying theme of this newsletter and of all of the newsletters pertaining to war is the necessity of the US peace movement in all its local organization to be informed, to try to see through lies and secrecy, to think, question, examine, and to ACT both locally and globally.   The phone numbers of all of our representatives should be in reach.   But that’s only the beginning and right now nigh futile so inured to slaughter are most.  We should be active members of as many peace and justice organizations as we can possibly afford.  We should support all people who oppose the US Superpower.   For the power includes not only horrific, violent aggression against other countries, which has been called the worst international crime:  "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." -- Robert H. Jackson, Chief U.S. Prosecutor, Nuremberg Military Tribunal    But the Superpower also controls information, control of the “facts,” of meaning.     “. . .the dominant interpretation of the past often enjoys its status not because of its superior historical accuracy but because of its proponents’ social power.”  Karl Jacoby, Shadows at Dawn: An Apache Massacre and the Violence of History (p. 276).  Instead of Defense Department let us say War Department.  Instead of War on Terror say War for Resources.   Instead of Taliban say Afghan/Pakistan Pashtun Resistance to Occupation.
     Often the argument is made that peacemaking must begin with individual search for inner equanimity, steadiness, and strength, and nobody can deny that foundation for peace, but our leaders’ reckless lawlessness, making the world hostile and unstable and killing millions of people, destabilizes each and every one of us locally and individually, and must be stopped.   “Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.  War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. . . .”   James Madison, “Political Observations,”  April 20, 1795.   In order to act, we are not compelled to wait until we have fully matured, and anyway a lifetime is seldom enough time to enable that ideal condition.  Dag Hammarskjold, UN Secretary General:  “In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.”   The condition of the world under the Superpower and onrushing warming demands us to stop diddling and playing and evading and denying and to take action.    –Dick

My blog:  It's the War Department
See: Afghan/US War, Costs of War, Consequences of War, US Imperialism, US Imperialism Continental Westward Expansion, US Imperial Pacific E. Asia Expansion, US Leaders Imperial Lawlessness, Iraq/US War, McCarthyism, Ongoing, US Military Industrial Complex, Militarism, Pentagon, Pentagon: Suicides, Pentagon: Whistleblowing, Torture, War Crimes, and more.

A wide-ranging  source of information is the Defense News Early Bird Brief:   :  http://omsswar.blogspot.com/2012/03/defense-news-early-bird-brief_14.html

Nos. 7 & 8 below.

Here is the link to all of OMNI’s newsletters

http://www.omnicenter.org/newsletter-archive/   Laying the foundation for peace, justice, and ecology in knowledge.

Verse for those who see no evil:
If we see right, we see our Woes,
Then what avails it to have Eyes?
From Ignorance our Comfort flows;
The only wretched are the wise.  Matthew Prior

Nos. 7, 8, & 9 below.

Contents #10 
Herman:  the Troops, the Criminals, Lawlessness, Propaganda System, Bush and Obama
Kutler:  McGovern’ Critique of US Foreign Policy
2 on Romney and Obama
US Intervention in Mali 2012
Militarizing Arctic North: Sweden and Finland
San Juan , PNAC Militarist Takeover Remembered
Vlchek, US and USSR Compared
Empire and Social Sciences
Early Years, 2 Books
   McCoy and Scarano, Colonial
    LaFebre, Late 19th Century
Alternative History:  Zinn and Stone/Kuznick
Dick: The Story of the US at Chrystal Bridges

Contents #11
Petition for Peace
Dick, US Wars Not for Freedom
Reich, Sexual Assault in the Air Force
General Smedley Butler
Blum, America’s Deadliest Export
Boggs, The Crimes of Empire
Scahill, Dirty Wars
Hedges on Manning
Hedges, Murdering Leaders
Sirota, Blowback, Backlash, Retaliation
Assange, Electronic Control

Contents #12
Recent Newsletters
Kuzmarov:  Control and Police Training
Dirty Wars Film
Quigley’s The Ruses for War Republished Updated
Wikipedia, US Imperialism
US Navy, US Imperialism: Google Search
Dick, US Navy in US Interests Anywhere, Any Time
Kirschner, Historical Open: 128 US Military Invasions and Interventions

Contents #13
Drake, Robert La Follette Anti-Imperialist
Bennis, Challenging Empire
Chomsky, Imperial USA a Failed State
Davies, How Totalitarian Societies Produce Wars
Vonnegut, War the Worst Addiction of All
Engelhardt, US Culture of War and Children
Cockburn, Ferocity and Failure of US Sanctions
Engelhardt, US Oceania Permanent War

The Education of an Anti-Imperialist: Robert La Follette and U.S. Expansion (Studies in American Thought and Culture) [Paperback] by Richard Drake 

 November 12, 2013  Studies in American Thought and Culture
Robert M. La Follette (1855–1925), the Republican senator from Wisconsin, is best known as a key architect of American Progressivism and as a fiery advocate for liberal politics in the domestic sphere. But "Fighting Bob" did not immediately come to a progressive stance on foreign affairs.
            In The Education of an Anti-Imperialist, Richard Drake follows La Follette's growth as a critic of America's wars and the policies that led to them. He began his political career with conventional Republican views of the era on foreign policy, avidly supporting the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. La Follette's critique of empire emerged in 1910, during the first year of the Mexican Revolution, as he began to perceive a Washington–Wall Street alliance in the United States' dealings with Mexico. La Follette subsequently became Congress's foremost critic of Woodrow Wilson, fiercely opposing United States involvement in World War I. Denounced in the American press as the most dangerous man in the country, he became hated and vilified by many but beloved and admired by others.
            La Follette believed that financial imperialism and its necessary instrument, militarism, caused modern wars. He contended they were twin evils that would have ruinous consequences for the United States and its citizens in the twentieth century and beyond.

Bennis, Phyllis. Challenging Empire: How People, Governments and the UN defy US power. 2006. Olive Branch Press, USA

However flawed the UN of the 21st century may still be, it remains a crucial part of any potentially successful effort to mount a serious challenge to US empire. PB
Although this is mainly a book about USA foreign policy and the internal and global resistance to it, Bennis dedicates it: For the dead of Iraq and New Orleans who paid the price for empire.
And an empire that wages war on distant shores also neglects its own shores with disastrous results. The cost of war has to come from somewhere and in the USA it comes from the poor and public services.
Bennis writes mainly about the resistance to militarism and imperial expansion exercised by her government around the world. This is not an intellectual treatise, but history as it is being made by people everyday.
In his introduction, Danny Glover, actor and activist, says that although wars still rage and much early resistance by the UN and other governments have collapsed, “Yet the tripartite internationalism that challenged the beginning of the Iraq war is still an important model, though it will require a great deal of work to reclaim and recapture that moment. This book aims to help that process”.
This book does express the urgency and action around global resistance of the war and what we need now is to learn from our own and others´ experiences how to make that moment into – long commitment, to learn that war cannot be stopped on a weekend. Bennis makes the connection between many events – from Europe´s growing global flexing of muscle to alliances of small nations with social movements to help sway the UN and to scuttle the WTO &ndash particularly effective in Cancun, Mexico in 2003.
We often do not recognize our successes until they are documented; Bennis does a good job of this and keeps hope alive for activists. In particular Bennis offers real hope that the UN with the power of many governments allied with citizen groups can and will resist empire and, that the UN does not have to be the tool of the USA, as Madeleine Albright once called it, if informed and motivated people around the world are willing to persevere in their resistance to war, poverty and injustice. Then empire will surely crumble. – if we keep working at reaction and positive resistance – being and demonstrating the alternatives so other citizens will join us.
Phyllis Bennis book review by Theresa Wolfwood.
Bennis speaks at World Social Forum, 2007. Photo © Theresa Wolfwood.
Activists need to integrate their community work with pressure on governments. Bennis writes: To change people’s lives demands change at the governmental level. It is therefore not enough for people to mobilize in the street: the mobilization must demonstrate enough strength to force those in power to change.


“Homeland Insecurity”

Published: June 25, 2006
THIS latest philippic from Noam Chomsky sets out to overturn every belief about their country Americans hold dear. The self-image of the United States as a beacon of freedom and democracy, lighting the way for the rest of the world, is a lie, Chomsky says, and it always has been. "Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy" aims to expose the rot of the shining city on a hill, from its foundations to its steeples.


The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy.
By Noam Chomsky.
311 pp. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company. $24.

Readers’ Opinions

Forum: Book News and Reviews

At the book's center is the avowed American mission to spread democracy throughout the world. Chomsky concedes that, rhetorically at least, this has been the nation's goal since Woodrow Wilson, but he insists the words are utterly at odds with American deeds. In its many foreign interventions, Washington has acted to frustrate the will of the people, often by supporting those engaged in the most chilling violence. The United States has overthrown democratic governments in Iran, Chile, Guatemala "and a long list of others." Elsewhere it has paid lip service to procedural democracy while doing all it could to rig the outcome. There is, Chomsky says, a "rational consistency" to this inconsistency between words and actions. The record shows that the United States does indeed back democracy abroad — "if and only if it is consistent with strategic and economic interests."
These are not, Chomsky insists, the interests of the American people, but of the corporate elite that dominates the country and its policy making. For, he says, the United States is not a democracy, if that word is reserved for a society where the people's will is done.
Take health care. Chomsky has the data to show that the American system is economically inefficient, much costlier than more socialized models abroad and deeply unpopular with a majority of Americans, who are ready to pay for increased government intervention even if that means higher taxes. That democratic majority remains unheard, however, because "the pharmaceutical and financial industries and other private powers are strongly opposed." That is why the mainstream news media, a perennial Chomsky target, say publicly funded health care lacks political support: the majority might back it, but not the people who count.
Chomsky employs the same linguistic deconstruction for media definitions of prosperity. The experts may say the economy is healthy, as it is for the top 1 percent, whose wealth rose by 42 percent from 1983 to 1998. But it is not healthy for the majority, whose wages have stagnated or declined in real terms, nor for those going hungry in America because they cannot afford to buy food.
Much of this will be familiar to veteran Chomsky readers, but in this book he supplies a new twist. What, he asks, is a failed state? It is one that fails "to provide security for the population, to guarantee rights at home or abroad, or to maintain functioning (not merely formal) democratic institutions." On that definition, Chomsky argues, the United States is the world's biggest failed state. This sounds like a hyperbolic charge, ludicrously overblown — but he goes far toward substantiating it. He is especially strong on pointing up Washington's woeful efforts to protect Americans from terror attacks, in one instance lavishing more resources on the imaginary threat from Cuba than on the all-too-real menace of Al Qaeda.
And if a rogue state is defined by its defiance of international law, then the United States, Chomsky says, has long been the rogues' rogue. It has ignored the Geneva Conventions by its treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo and of Iraqi civilians in Falluja; violated the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by its development of new weapons when it should be making good-faith efforts to get rid of the old ones; flouted the United Nations Charter, which allows the use of force only when the "necessity of self-defense" is "instant" and "overwhelming," standards hardly met by the 2003 invasion of Iraq; and defied the World Court, which in the 1980's held Washington guilty of "unlawful use of force" against Nicaragua, a ruling the United States simply rejected. Scholars like to speak of American exceptionalism, but with Chomsky the phrase takes on new meaning: America exempts itself from the rules it demands for everyone else. This is not a double standard, but flows from what Chomsky, quoting Adam Smith, calls the single standard: the "vile maxim of the masters of mankind: . . . All for ourselves, and nothing for other people."
Throughout "Failed States" Chomsky writes in this vein of fierce excoriation. No one is exempt, according to him. The whole system is rotten, including traditional liberal heroes. Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy are all faulted for their pursuit of international dominance, from Roosevelt's plans to firebomb Japanese cities more than a year before Pearl Harbor to Kennedy's war in Vietnam. Even the framers of the Constitution are condemned.  Chomsky disapprovingly quotes James Madison's insistence that the new Republic should "protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." He doesn't much like The New York Times either.
If there is a crumb of comfort for his readers, it is this:  Americans are not a uniquely evil people. On the contrary, imperialists throughout history have behaved in the same way, from the Greeks to the British, always telling themselves they were driven by noble purpose — even as their elites wreaked havoc for their own material gain.
There are flaws in this book. It is dense, with almost every paragraph broken up by extensive quotations. And it is unrelenting, the invective interrupted only by the occasional flash of bitter wit. Like any polemicist, Chomsky is selective in his material: for example, he cites rulings by the Israeli Supreme Court that have injured Palestinians rights, but ignores those that have respected them.
Too often Chomsky fails to cast those outside the United States as active moral agents in their own right. He argues, with justification, that the American invasion of Iraq has unleashed a wave of terrorism in that country — but he has little interest in the bombers and beheaders themselves. Their actions are merely the inevitable products of decisions taken in Washington. He is also too airily dismissive of liberal interventionists, those who would like to see American power deployed to thwart genocide; in Chomsky's eyes, they are mere patsies for imperialism.
Similarly, his view of politics can be too mechanistic; sometimes he writes as if whole national debates are mere staged distractions, planned by the powers that be. And while he spends 260-odd pages presenting his critique, he offers only two paragraphs of solutions (an imbalance, it should be said, he is aware of).
Still, maybe it's sufficient for a prophet to tell the people they are in a wilderness; he shouldn't be expected to point the exact way out. Chomsky's ambitions, after all, are high enough. It's hard to imagine any American reading this book and not seeing his country in a new, and deeply troubling, light.
Jonathan Freedland is an editorial page columnist for The Guardian of London.

NICOLAS J. S. DAVIES, “FROM OHLENDORF TO OBAMA.”  Z MAGAZINE (September 2013).   The US political and economic system of legalized bribery and inverted totalitarianism promotes leaders who can win the votes of the public while serving the interests of the wealthy (e.g., a militarized budget) and while ensuring permanent wars. --Dick

Kurt Vonnegut: The Worst Addiction of Them All by Kurt Vonnegut, August 19, 2013
The Nation

An excerpt from the new eBook Vonnegut by the Dozen: Twelve Pieces by Kurt Vonnegut.

Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. in New York City in 1979., AP Photo/Marty Reichenthal,

This is an excerpt from the new ebook Vonnegut by the Dozen: Twelve Pieces by Kurt Vonnegut, a collection of essays and articles published in The Nation. The eBook is now available on tablets, smartphones and computers—download yours today.
What has been America's most nurturing contribution to the culture of this planet so far? Many would say Jazz. I, who love jazz, will say this instead: Alcoholics Anonymous.
I am not an alcoholic. If I was, I would go before the nearest A.A. meeting and say, "My name is Kurt Vonnegut. I am an alcoholic." God willing, that might be my first step down the long, hard road back to sobriety.
The A.A. scheme, which requires a confession like that, is the first to have any measurable success in dealing with the tendency of some human beings, perhaps 10 percent of any population sample anyone might care to choose, to become addicted to substances that give them brief spasms of pleasure but in the long term transmute their lives and the lives of those around them into ultimate ghastliness.
The A.A. scheme, which, again, can work only if the addicts regularly admit that this or that chemical is poisonous to them, is now proving its effectiveness with compulsive gamblers, who are not dependent on chemicals from a distillery or a pharmaceutical laboratory. This is no paradox. Gamblers, In effect, manufacture their own dangerous substances. God help them, they produce chemicals that elate them whenever they place a bet on simply anything.
If I was a compulsive gambler, which I am not, I would be well advised to stand up before the nearest meeting of Gamblers Anonymous and declare, "My name is Kurt Vonnegut. I am a compulsive gambler."
Whether I was standing before a meeting of Gamblers Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, I would be encouraged to testify as to how the chemicals I had generated within myself or swallowed had alienated my friends and relatives, cost me jobs and houses and deprived me of my last shred of self-respect.
Not every member of A.A. or G.A. has sunk quite that low, of course--but plenty have. Many, If not most, have done what they call "hitting bottom" before admitting what it is that has been ruining their lives.

I now wish to call attention to another form of addiction, which has not been previously identified. It is more like gambling than drinking, since the people afflicted are ravenous for situations that will cause their bodies to release exciting chemicals into their bloodstreams. I am persuaded that there are among us people who are tragically hooked on preparations for war.
Tell people with that disease that war is coming and we have to get ready for it, and for a few minutes there, they will be as happy as a drunk with his martini breakfast or a compulsive gambler with his paycheck bet on the Super Bowl.
Let us recognize how sick such people are. From now on, when a national leader, or even just a neighbor, starts talking about some new weapons system which is going to cost us a mere $29 billion, we should speak up. We should say something on the order of, "Honest to God, I couldn't be sorrier for you if I'd seen you wash down a fistful of black, beauties with a pint of Southern Comfort."
I mean it. I am not joking. Compulsive preparers for World War III, in this country or any other, are as tragically and, yes, as repulsively addicted as any stockbroker passed out with his head In a toilet in the Port Authority bus terminal.
For an alcoholic to experience a little joy, he needs maybe three ounces of grain alcohol. Alcoholics, when they are close to hitting bottom, customarily can't hold much alcohol.
If we know a compulsive gambler who is dead broke, we can probably make him happy with a dollar to bet on who can spit farther than someone else. For us to give a compulsive war-preparer a fleeting moment of happiness, we may have to buy him three Trident submarines and a hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles mounted on choo-choo trains.
If Western Civilization were a person--
If Western Civilization, which blankets the world now, as far as I can tell, were a person--
If Western Civilizations, which surely now includes the Soviet Union and China and India and Pakistan and on and on, were a person--
If Western Civilization were a person, we would be directing it to the nearest meeting of War-Preparers Anonymous. We would be telling it to stand up before the meeting and say, "My name is Western Civilization. I am a compulsive war- preparer. I have lost everything I ever cared about. I should have come here long ago. I first hit bottom in World War I." Western Civilization cannot be represented by a single person, of course, but a single explanation for the catastrophic course it has followed during this bloody century is possible. We the people, because of our ignorance of the disease, have again and again entrusted power to people we did not know were sickies.
And let us not mock them now, any more than we would mock someone with syphilis or smallpox or leprosy or yaws or typhoid fever or any of the other diseases to which the flesh is heir. All we have to do is separate them from the levers of power, I think.
And then what? Western Civilization's long, hard trip back to sobriety might begin.
A word about appeasement, something World War II, supposedly, taught us not to practice: I say to you that the world has been ruined by appeasement. Appeasement of whom? Of the Communists? Of the neo-Nazis? No! Appeasement of the compulsive war-preparers. I can scarcely name a nation that has not lost most of its freedom and wealth in attempts to appease its own addicts to preparations for war.
And there is no appeasing an addict for very long.
"I swear, man, just lay enough bread on me for twenty multiple re-entry vehicles and a fleet of B-1 bombers, and I'11 never bother you again."
Most addictions start innocently enough in childhood, under agreeable, reputable auspices-a sip of champagne at a wedding, a game af poker for matchsticks on a rainy afternoon. Compulsive war-preparers may have been encouraged as infants to clap their hands with glee at a campfire or a Fourth of July parade.
Not every child gets hooked. Not every child so tempted grows up to be a drunk or a gambler or a babbler about knocking down the incoming missiles of the Evil Empire with laser beams. When I identify the war-preparers as addicts, I am not calling for the exclusion of children from all martial celebrations. I doubt that more than one child In a hundred, having seen fireworks, for example, will become an adult who wants us to stop squandering our substance on education and health and social justice and the arts and food and shelter and clothing for the needy, and so on--who wants us to blow it all on ammunition instead.
And please understand that the addiction I have identified is to preparations for war. I repeat: to preparations for war, addiction to the thrills of de-mothballing battleships and inventing weapons systems against which there cannot possibly be a defense, supposedly, and urging the citizenry to hate this part of humanity or that one, and knocking over little governments that might aid and abet an enemy someday, and so on. I am not talking about an addiction to war itself, which is a very different matter. A compulsive preparer for war wants to go to big-time war no more than an alcoholic stockbroker wants to pass out with his head in a toilet In the Port Authority bus terminal.
Should addicts of any sort hold high office In this or any other country? Absolutely not, for their first priority will always be to satisfy their addiction, no matter how terrible the consequences may be--even to themselves.
Suppose we had an alcoholic President who still had not hit bottom and whose chief companions were drunks like himself. And suppose it were a fact, made absolutely clear to him, that if he took just one more drink, the whole planet would blow up.
So he has all the liquor thrown out of the White House, including his Aqua-Velva shaving lotion. So late at night he is terribly restless, crazy for a drink but proud of not drinking. So he opens the White House refrigerator, looking for a Tab or a Diet Pepsi, he tells himself. And there, half-hidden by a family-size jar of French's mustard, is an unopened can of Coors beer.
What do you think he'll do?
Novelist and essayist Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), is the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradle, and Breakfast of Champions

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: It’s August, a good time to relax and experiment a little.  Some years ago, I wrote an idiosyncratic history of American triumphalism and the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture.  I filled it with the pop culture detritus of my own childhood from horror comics and nuclear-mutant movies to toy missiles and toy soldiers.  While writing it, I became fascinated with the way in which an adult culture of war-making played itself out in children’s lives and also the ways in which the business of children’s culture sometimes anticipated developments in the adult world.  

I’ve never posted any of the book at TomDispatch, so here’s part one of a two-parter from that book, focusing on G.I. Joe toys, the movie Star Wars, how war was stripped from children’s culture in the Vietnam era, and how it returned.  Strangely, such subjects have not much interested historians.  As a result, this material still seems remarkably fresh to me. My thanks go to Bruce Wilcox, who runs the University of Massachusetts Press and is the publisher of the book, for allowing me to post these excerpts (with a special bow to my superb UMass editor, Clark Dougan) -- two classy guys! 

After reading today’s post, keep in mind that for a donation of $100 or more to TomDispatch, you can get your own signed, personalized copy of 
The End of Victory Culture.  Just check out our donation page for the details. And those of you who are Amazon customers, remember that if you go to that website anytime via a book link at TomDispatch like the one above and buy either a book we recommend or anything else whatsoever, you also contribute to TomDispatch without spending an extra cent.  We get a small cut of any purchase you make.  Many thanks to all of you. Tom]
The Secret History of G.I. Joe 
Barbie, Joe, Darth Vader, and Making War in Children’s Culture (Part 1) 
By Tom Engelhardt
[The following excerpt, from Tom Engelhardt’s book, The End of Victory Culture, is posted with permission from the University of Massachusetts Press.] 
1. The First Coming of G.I. Joe
It was 1964, and in Vietnam thousands of American “advisers” were already offering up their know-how from helicopter seats or gun sights. The United States was just a year short of sending its first large contingent of ground troops there, adolescents who would enter the battle zone dreaming of John Wayne and thinking of enemy-controlled territory as “Indian country.” Meanwhile, in that inaugural year of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, a new generation of children began to experience the American war story via the most popular toy warrior ever created.
His name, G.I. -- for “Government Issue” -- Joe was redolent of America’s last victorious war and utterly generic. There was no specific figure named Joe, nor did any of the “Joes” have names. “He” came in four types, one for each service, including the Marines. Yet every Joe was, in essence, the same. Since he was a toy of the Great Society with its dreams of inclusion, it only took a year for his manufacturer, Hasbro, to produce a “Negro Joe,” and two more to add a she-Joe (a nurse, naturally). Joe initially came with no story, no instructions, and no enemy, because it had not yet occurred to adults (or toy makers) not to trust the child to choose the right enemy to pit against Joe.
In TV ads of the time, Joe was depicted as the most traditional of war toys. Little boys in World War II-style helmets were shown entering battle with a G.I. Joe tank, or fiercely displaying their Joe equipment while a chorus of deep, male voices sang (to the tune of “The Halls of Montezuma”), “G.I. Joe, G.I. Joe, Fighting man from head to toe on the land, on the sea, in the air.” He was “authentic” with his “ten-inch bazooka that really works,” his “beachhead flame thrower,” and his “authentically detailed replica” of a U.S. Army Jeep with its own “tripod mounted recoilless rifle” and four “rocket projectiles.”
He could take any beach or landing site in style, dressed in “the real thing,” ranging from an “Ike” jacket with red scarf to a “beachhead assault fatigue shirt,” pants, and field pack. He could chow down with his own mess kit, or bed down in his own “bivouac-pup tent set.” And he was a toy giant, too, nearly a foot tall. From the telltale pink scar on his cheek to the testosterone rush of fierce-faced ad boys shouting, “G.I. Joe, take the hill!” he seemed the picture of a manly fighting toy.
Yet Joe, like much else in his era, was hardly what he seemed. Launched the year Lyndon Johnson ran for president as a peace candidate against Barry Goldwater while his administration was secretly planning the large-scale bombing of North Vietnam, Joe, too, was involved in a cover-up. For if Joe was a behemoth of a toy soldier, he was also, though the word was unmentionable, a doll. War play Joe-style was, in fact, largely patterned on and due to a “girl” -- Mattel’s Barbie.


 “A Very Perfect Instrument:

The ferocity and failure of America’s sanctions apparatus” By Andrew Cockburn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             At the beginning of World War I, Britain set up a blockade designed, according to one of its architects, Winston Churchill, to “starve the whole population of Germany — men, women and children, old and young, wounded and sound — into submission.” By January 1918, the country’s food supply had been reduced by half and its civilians were dying almost at the same rate as its soldiers. When the war finally ended eleven months later, the Germans assumed the blockade would be lifted and they would be fed again.
Instead the blockade went on, and was even tightened. By the following spring, German authorities were projecting a threefold increase in infant mortality. In March 1919, General Herbert Plumer, commander of British occupation forces in the Rhineland, told Prime Minister David Lloyd George that his men could no longer stand the sight of “hordes of skinny and bloated children pawing over the offal” from the British camps.
In a later memoir, the economist John Maynard Keynes, at the time a chief adviser to the British Treasury, attributed this collective punishment of the civilian population. . . . http://harpers.org/archive/2013/09/a-very-perfect-instrument/

FOCUS: Robert Scheer | The Moment the US Ended Iran's Brief Experiment in Democracy , RSN [forwarded by David D]
President Truman and Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. (photo: Wikimedia Commons/National Archives) 
Robert Scheer, Truthdig , August 20, 2013
Scheer writes: "Tragically, the coup that overthrew Mossadegh also crushed Iran's brief experiment in democracy and ushered in six decades of brutal dictatorship followed by religious oppression and regional instability. If Iran is a problem, as the United States persistently and loudly insists, it is a problem of our making." 
The US government at the time of the coup easily had manipulated Western media into denigrating Mossadegh as intemperate, unstable and an otherwise unreliable ally in the Cold War, but the real motivation for hijacking Iran's history was Mossadegh's move to nationalize Western-controlled oil assets in Iran. According to the document, part of an internal CIA report:
The target of this policy of desperation, Mohammad Mosadeq, [sic] was neither a madman nor an emotional bundle of senility as he was so often pictured in the foreign press; however, he had become so committed to the ideals of nationalism that he did things that could not have conceivably helped his people even in the best and most altruistic of worlds. In refusing to bargain - except on his own uncompromising terms - with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, he was in fact defying the professional politicians of the British government. These leaders believed, with good reason, that cheap oil for Britain and high profits for the company were vital to their national interests.

FOCUS: Tom Engelhardt | Alone and Delusional on Planet Earth 
(illustration: unknown) 
Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch , RSN Sept. 3, 2013
Engelhardt writes: "What, after all, are we to make of a planet with a single superpower that lacks genuine enemies of any significance and that, to all appearances, has nonetheless been fighting a permanent global war with ... well, itself - and appears to be losing?" 
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Alone and Delusional on Planet Earth

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch
03 September 13  (from David D)

n an increasingly phantasmagorical world, here's my present fantasy of choice: someone from General Keith Alexander's outfit, the National Security Agency, tracks down H.G. Wells's time machine in the attic of an old house in London. Britain's subservient Government Communications Headquarters, its version of the NSA, is paid off and the contraption is flown to Fort Meade, Maryland, where it's put back in working order. Alexander then revs it up and heads not into the future like Wells to see how our world ends, but into the past to offer a warning to Americans about what's to come.
He arrives in Washington on October 23, 1962, in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a day after President Kennedy has addressed the American people on national television to tell them that this planet might not be theirs -- or anyone else's -- for long. ("We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth, but neither will we shrink from the risk at any time it must be faced.") Greeted with amazement by the Washington elite, Alexander, too, goes on television and informs the same public that, in 2013, the major enemy of the United States will no longer be the Soviet Union, but an outfit called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and that the headquarters of our country's preeminent foe will be found somewhere in the rural backlands of... Yemen.
Yes, Yemen, a place most Americans, then and now, would be challenged to find on a world map. I guarantee you one thing: had such an announcement actually been made that day, most Americans would undoubtedly have dropped to their knees and thanked God for His blessings on the American nation. Though even then a nonbeliever, I would undoubtedly have been among them. After all, the 18-year-old Tom Engelhardt, on hearing Kennedy's address, genuinely feared that he and the few pathetic dreams of a future he had been able to conjure up were toast.
Had Alexander added that, in the face of AQAP and similar minor jihadist enemies scattered in the backlands of parts of the planet, the U.S. had built up its military, intelligence, and surveillance powers beyond anything ever conceived of in the Cold War or possibly in the history of the planet, Americans of that time would undoubtedly have considered him delusional and committed him to an asylum.
Such, however, is our world more than two decades after Eastern Europe was liberated, the Berlin Wall came down, the Cold War definitively ended, and the Soviet Union disappeared.
Why Orwell Was Wrong
Now, let me mention another fantasy connected to the two-superpower Cold War era: George Orwell's 1948 vision of the world of 1984 (or thereabouts, since the inhabitants of his novel of that title were unsure just what year they were living in). When the revelations of NSA contractor Edward Snowden began to hit the news and we suddenly found ourselves knee-deep in stories about Prism, XKeyscore, and other Big Brother-ish programs that make up the massive global surveillance network the National Security Agency has been building, I had a brilliant idea -- reread 1984.
At a moment when Americans were growing uncomfortably aware of the way their government was staring at them and storing what they had previously imagined as their private data, consider my soaring sense of my own originality a delusion of my later life. It lasted only until I read an essay by NSA expert James Bamford in which he mentioned that, "[w]ithin days of Snowden's documents appearing in the Guardian and the Washington Post..., bookstores reported a sudden spike in the sales of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel 1984. On Amazon.com, the book made the 'Movers & Shakers' list and skyrocketed 6,021 percent in a single day."
Nonetheless, amid a jostling crowd of worried Americans, I did keep reading that novel and found it at least as touching, disturbing, and riveting as I had when I first came across it sometime before Kennedy went on TV in 1962. Even today, it's hard not to marvel at the vision of a man living at the beginning of the television age who sensed how a whole society could be viewed, tracked, controlled, and surveiled.
But for all his foresight, Orwell had no more power to peer into the future than the rest of us. So it's no fault of his that, almost three decades after his year of choice, more than six decades after his death, the shape of our world has played havoc with his vision. Like so many others in his time and after, he couldn't imagine the disappearance of the Soviet Union or at least of Soviet-like totalitarian states. More than anything else, he couldn't imagine one fact of our world that, in 1948, wasn't in the human playbook.
In 1984, Orwell imagined a future from what he knew of the Soviet and American (as well as Nazi, Japanese, and British) imperial systems. In imagining three equally powerful, equally baleful superpowers -- Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia -- balanced for an eternity in an unwinnable global struggle, he conjured up a logical extension of what had been developing on this planet for hundreds of years. His future was a version of the world humanity had lived with since the first European power mounted cannons on a wooden ship and set sail, like so many Mongols of the sea, to assault and conquer foreign realms, coastlines first.
From that moment on, the imperial powers of this planet -- super, great, prospectively great, and near great -- came in contending or warring pairs, if not triplets or quadruplets. Portugal, Spain, and Holland; England, France, and Imperial Russia; the United States, Germany, Japan, and Italy (as well as Great Britain and France), and after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union. Five centuries in which one thing had never occurred, the thing that even George Orwell, with his prodigious political imagination, couldn't conceive of, the thing that makes 1984 a dated work and his future a past that never was: a one-superpower world. To give birth to such a creature on such a planet -- as indeed occurred in 1991 -- was to be at the end of history, at least as it had long been known.
The Decade of the Stunned Superpower
Only in Hollywood fantasies about evil super-enemies was "world domination" by a single power imaginable. No wonder that, more than two decades into our one-superpower present, we still find it hard to take in this new reality and what it means.
At least two aspects of such a world seem, however, to be coming into focus. The evidence of the last decades suggests that the ability of even the greatest of imperial powers to shape global events may always have been somewhat exaggerated. The reason: power itself may never have been as centrally located in imperial or national entities as was once imagined. Certainly, with all rivals removed, the frustration of Washington at its inability to control events in the Greater Middle East and elsewhere could hardly be more evident. Still, Washington has proven incapable of grasping the idea that there might be forms of power, and so of resistance to American desires, not embodied in competitive states.
Evidence also seems to indicate that the leaders of a superpower, when not countered by another major power, when lacking an arms race to run or territory and influence to contest, may be particularly susceptible to the growth of delusional thinking, and in particular to fantasies of omnipotence.
Though Great Britain far outstripped any competitor or potential enemy at the height of its imperial glory, as did the United States at the height of the Cold War (the Soviet Union was always a junior superpower), there were at least rivals around to keep the leading power "honest" in its thinking. From December 1991, when the Soviet Union declared itself no more, there were none and, despite the dubious assumption by many in Washington that a rising China will someday be a major competitor, there remain none. Even if economic power has become more "multipolar," no actual state contests the American role on the planet in a serious way.
Just as still water is a breeding ground for mosquitos, so single-superpowerdom seems to be a breeding ground for delusion. This is a phenomenon about which we have to be cautious, since we know little enough about it and are, of course, in its midst. But so far, there seem to have been three stages to the development of whatever delusional process is underway.
Stage one stretched from December 1991 through September 10, 2001. Think of it as the decade of the stunned superpower. After all, the collapse of the Soviet Union went unpredicted in Washington and when it happened, the George H. W. Bush administration seemed almost incapable of taking it in. In the years that followed, there was the equivalent of a stunned silence in the corridors of power.
After a brief flurry of debate about a post-Cold War "peace dividend," that subject dropped into the void, while, for example, U.S. nuclear forces, lacking their major enemy of the previous several decades, remained more or less in place, strategically disoriented but ready for action. In those years, Washington launched modest and halting discussions of the dangers of "rogue states" (think "Axis of Evil" in the post-9/11 era), but the U.S. military had a hard time finding a suitable enemy other than its former ally in the Persian Gulf, Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Its ventures into the world of war in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia were modest and not exactly greeted with rounds of patriotic fervor at home. Even the brief glow of popularity the elder Bush gained from his 1990-1991 war against Saddam evaporated so quickly that, by the time he geared up for his reelection campaign barely a year later, it was gone.
In the shadows, however, a government-to-be was forming under the guise of a think tank. It was filled with figures like future Vice President Dick Cheney, future Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, future Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, future U.N. Ambassador John Bolten, and future ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, all of whom firmly believed that the United States, with its staggering military advantage and lack of enemies, now had an unparalleled opportunity to control and reorganize the planet. In January 2001, they came to power under the presidency of George W. Bush, anxious for the opportunity to turn the U.S. into the kind of global dominator that would put the British and even Roman empires to shame.
Pax Americana Dreams
Stage two in the march into single-superpower delusion began on September 11, 2001, only five hours after hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 smashed into the Pentagon. It was then that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, already convinced that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks, nonetheless began dreaming about completing the First Gulf War by taking out Saddam Hussein. Of Iraq, he instructed an aide to "go massive... Sweep it all up. Things related and not."
And go massive he and his colleagues did, beginning the process that led to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, itself considered only a precursor to transforming the Greater Middle East into an American protectorate. From the fertile soil of 9/11 -- itself something of a phantasmagoric event in which Osama bin Laden and his relatively feeble organization spent a piddling $400,000-$500,000 to create the look of an apocalyptic moment -- sprang full-blown a sense of American global omnipotence.
It had taken a decade to mature. Now, within days of the toppling of those towers in lower Manhattan, the Bush administration was already talking about launching a "war on terror," soon to become the "Global War on Terror" (no exaggeration intended). The CIA would label it no less grandiosly a "Worldwide Attack Matrix." And none of them were kidding. Finding "terror" groups of various sorts in up to 80 countries, they were planning, in the phrase of the moment, to "drain the swamp" -- everywhere.
In the early Bush years, dreams of domination bred like rabbits in the hothouse of single-superpower Washington. Such grandiose thinking quickly invaded administration and Pentagon planning documents as the Bush administration prepared to prevent potentially oppositional powers or blocs of powers from arising in the foreseeable future. No one, as its top officials and their neocon supporters saw it, could stand in the way of their planetary Pax Americana.
Nor, as they invaded Afghanistan, did they have any doubt that they would soon take down Iraq. It was all going to be so easy. Such an invasion, as one supporter wrote in the Washington Post, would be a "cakewalk." By the time American troops entered Iraq, the Pentagon already had plans on the drawing board to build a series of permanent bases -- they preferred to call them "enduring camps" -- and garrison that assumedly grateful country at the center of the planet's oil lands for generations to come.
Nobody in Washington was thinking about the possibility that an American invasion might create chaos in Iraq and surrounding lands, sparking a set of Sunni-Shiite religious wars across the region. They assumed that Iran and Syria would be forced to bend their national knees to American power or that we would simply impose submission on them. (As a neoconservative quip of the moment had it, "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.") And that, of course would only be the beginning. Soon enough, no one would challenge American power. Nowhere. Never.
Such soaring dreams of -- quite literally -- world domination met no significant opposition in mainstream Washington. After all, how could they fail? Who on Earth could possibly oppose them or the U.S. military? The answer seemed too obvious to need to be stated -- not until, at least, their all-conquering armies bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and the greatest power on the planet faced the possibility of defeat at the hands of... well, whom?
The Dark Matter of Global Power
Until things went sour in Iraq, theirs would be a vision of the Goliath tale in which David (or various ragtag Sunni, Shiite, and Pashtun versions of the same) didn't even have a walk-on role. All other Goliaths were gone and the thought that a set of minor Davids might pose problems for the planet's giant was beyond imagining, despite what the previous century's history of decolonization and resistance might have taught them. Above all, the idea that, at this juncture in history, power might not be located overwhelmingly and decisively in the most obvious place -- in, that is, "the finest fighting force that the world has ever known," as American presidents of this era came to call it -- seemed illogical in the extreme.
Who in the Washington of that moment could have imagined that other kinds of power might, like so much dark matter in the universe, be mysteriously distributed elsewhere on the planet? Such was their sense of American omnipotence, such was the level of delusional thinking inside the Washington bubble.
Despite two treasury-draining disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq that should have been sobering when it came to the hidden sources of global power, especially the power to resist American wishes, such thinking showed only minimal signs of diminishing even as the Bush administration pulled back from the Iraq War, and a few years later, after a set of misbegotten "surges," the Obama administration decided to do the same in Afghanistan.
Instead, Washington entered stage three of delusional life in a single-superpower world. Its main symptom: the belief in the possibility of controlling the planet not just through staggering military might but also through informational and surveillance omniscience and omnipotence. In these years, the urge to declare a global war on communications, create a force capable of launching wars in cyberspace, and storm the e-beaches of the Internet and the global information system proved overwhelming. The idea was to make it impossible for anyone to write, say, or do anything to which Washington might not be privy.
For most Americans, the Edward Snowden revelations would pull back the curtain on the way the National Security Agency, in particular, has been building a global network for surveillance of a kind never before imagined, not even by the totalitarian regimes of the previous century. From domestic phone calls tointernational emails, from the bugging of U.N. headquarters and the European Union to 80 embassies around the world, from enemies to frenemies to allies, the system by 2013 was already remarkably all-encompassing. It had, in fact, the same aura of grandiosity about it, of overblown self-regard, that went with the launching of the Global War on Terror -- the feeling that if Washington did it or built it, they would come.
I'm 69 years old and, in technological terms, I've barely emerged from the twentieth century. In a conversation with NSA Director Keith Alexander, known somewhat derisively in the trade as "Alexander the Geek," I have no doubt that I'd be lost. In truth, I can barely grasp the difference between what the NSA's Prism and XKeyscore programs do. So call me technologically senseless, but I can still recognize a deeper senselessness when I see it. And I can see that Washington is building something conceptually quite monstrous that will change our country for the worse, and the world as well, and is -- perhaps worst of all -- essentially nonsensical.
So let me offer those in Washington a guarantee: I have no idea what the equivalents of the Afghan and Iraq wars will be in the surveillance world, but continue to build such a global system, ignoring the anger of allies and enemies alike, and "they" indeed will come. Such delusional grandiosity, such dreams of omnipotence and omniscience cannot help but generate resistance and blowback in a perfectly real world that, whatever Washington thinks, maintains a grasp on perfectly real power, even without another imperial state on any horizon.
Today, almost 12 years after 9/11, the U.S. position in the world seems even more singular. Militarily speaking, the Global War on Terror continues, however namelessly, in the Obama era in places as distant as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The U.S. military remains heavily deployed in the Greater Middle East, though it has pulled out of Iraq and is drawing down in Afghanistan. In recent years, U.S. power has, in an exceedingly public manner, been "pivoting" to Asia, where the building of new bases, as well as the deployment of new troops and weaponry, to "contain" that imagined future superpower China has been proceeding apace.
At the same time, the U.S. military has been ever-so-quietly pivoting to Africa where, as TomDispatch's Nick Turse reports, its presence is spreading continent-wide. American military bases still dot the planet in remarkable profusion, numbering perhaps 1,000 at a moment when no other nation on Earth has more than a handful outside its territory.
The reach of Washington's surveillance and intelligence networks is unique in the history of the planet. The ability of its drone air fleet to assassinate enemies almost anywhere is unparalleled. Europe and Japan remain so deeply integrated into the American global system as to be essentially a part of its power-projection capabilities.
This should be the dream formula for a world dominator and yet no one can look at Planet Earth today and not see that the single superpower, while capable of creating instability and chaos, is limited indeed in its ability to control developments. Its president can't even form a "coalition of the willing" to launch a limited series of missile attacks on the military facilities of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. From Latin America to the Greater Middle East, the American system is visibly weakening, while at home, inequality and poverty are on the rise, infrastructure crumbles, and national politics is in a state of permanent "gridlock."
Such a world should be fantastical enough for the wildest sort of dystopian fiction, for perhaps a novel titled 2014. What, after all, are we to make of a planet with a single superpower that lacks genuine enemies of any significance and that, to all appearances, has nonetheless been fighting a permanent global war with... well, itself -- and appears to be losing?

Contents #9
PNAC Continues
Middle East Maneuvers
US Militarism Abroad
New Book: Taming American Power
TomDispatch, Vine:  Empire of Bases, Lily Pad Strategy
Central America, Nonviolence vs. the Empire
Intervention Law and Libya
Zibechi, Urban Poor
Empire and Medical Care
New Weapon for Large Cargo and Constant Surveillance
US Militarism at Home
The Poor and Military Recruiting
Scales:  Army Good, Too Many Wars Bad
Moyers, Look Back to 1980s


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