Archive for October, 2008

BUSH REGIME EXPANDS WAR TO SYRIA

October 27, 2008

Here is a link to the Guardian’s report about the US invasion of Syria with the civilian deaths typical of this brutal regime.

You can read Matthew Rothschild’s editorial in The Progressive Magazine about this by clicking here.  What are we US citizens who seek peace doing about this?

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Syrian woman injured in attack by US.

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ACLU Demands Information About Military Deployment Within US

October 22, 2008

The ACLU is demanding information under the Freedom of Information Act about the disturbing deployment of US troops on US soil intended to police US citizens.

Mike German, ACLU national security policy counsel and former FBI Agent, said, “Our Founding Fathers understood the threat that a standing army could pose to American liberty. While future generations recognized the need for a strong military to defend against increasingly capable foreign threats, they also passed statutory protections to ensure that the Army could not be turned against the American people. The erosion of these protections should concern every American.”

The ACLU, accoring to their website, “requested the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defense today to immediately make public all legal opinions, executive orders, presidential directives, memos, policy guidance, and other documents that authorize the deployment of military troops for domestic purposes.”

Read the entire statement here.

Naomi Wolf also expresses concerns about the deployment.  Some of the comments from what she calls “readers on a military-oriented Web site” are very interesting.  The veterans I have come to know through peace activism are often the most knowledgeable about military matters and the most offended when the regime misuses the military service.  Read the article here.

We Need Justice in Order to Have Peace: The Unjust Financial System Must Be Changed

October 19, 2008

The title of this blog is Dance for Peace.  It has focused on protest against the brutal and illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and on the consequences of the coup d’etat that put the current regime in power and continues to dismantle the US Constitution.

In the recent weeks of economic crisis, I have only alluded to the crisis and emphasized the implementation of martial law in this country and the savage conduct of the occupations, trying to keep these issues in the forefront while the corporate media are burying them beneath the financial news.  I knew that I wanted to connect the dots between the financial system and the brutal militarism, but I couldn’t decide how.

An article in Le Monde speaks to these matters very eloquently.  Written by a distinguished professor of philosophy, Alain Badiou, who has also written fiction and plays, its eloquence reminds me of the French tradition that created the great sermons of Bossuet, delivered by that prelate to the court of Louis XIV.  It is a call to action as well as a cogent analysis of the situation.

Le Monde is the most prestigeous newspaper in France.  I cannot imagine the New York Times, which has become a propaganda organ for the regime here, printing such an article.  In fact, any voice in the US to suggest some of the things Badiou does is silenced, never appears in print, is beyond the pale.  Badiou criticizes the European press and governments, justifiaby, but once more, I am struck by how relatively free they still are compared to the US.

Below is my translation of the article by Badiou which you can read in the original French by clicking here.  I suggest you take anything you like from this and leave what you don’t.

What Real Crisis is this Show About?
by Alain Badiou

As it is presented to us, the global financial crisis resembles one of those bad films concocted by the factory of formula successes that is today called the “cinema.”  Nothing is lacking, including the huge swings that terrorize us; black Friday is inevitable, everything is collapsing, everything is going to collapse.

But hope remains.  In the forefront of the scene a tight group as in a catastrophe film, haggard, the little squadron of the powerful, the firefighters of the monetary fire, the Sarkozy, Paulson, Merkel, Brown, the Trichets and the other central bank heads, force into the central breach billions of billions.  “Save the banks!”  This noble humanistic and democratic cry rises from all the political and media throats.  For the actors of this film, that is to say the rich, their servants, their parasites, those who envie them, and those who laud them, a happy ending I believe, I sense, is inevitable, given what the world and politicians are today.

Let us turn around and look rather at the spectators of this show, the crowd of the beaten down who hear like a far away noise the hullabuloo of the banks at bay, who guess at the harassed weekends of the glorious little troop of heads of government, who see the equally colossal and obscure sums being thrown about, and who compare to them their own resources that compose the basis both bitter and courageous of their own lives.  I say that that is what is “real” and that we will not understand it until we turn away from the spectacle on the screen and consider the invisible mass of those for whom the catastrophe film, including its rosy ending (Sarkozy embraces Merkel, and everyone weeps for joy) has never been anything but a show of shadows cast on a screen.

There has been a lot of talk these past weeks of the “real economy” (production of goods).  Opposed to that is the “unreal economy” (speculation) from which all the evil has come, given that its agents have become “irresponsible,” “irrational,” and “predators.”  This distinction is obviously absurd.   Financial capitalism has been a major factor of capitalism in general for five centuries.  As for the owners and actors of this system, they are, by definition, only “responsible” for profits, their “rationality” is measurable only in gains, and not only are they “predators,” but they have a duty to be predators.

There is nothing more “real” in the storehouse of capitalist production than its market stage and its speculative hold.  The return to the real cannot be a movement that leads from bad, “irrational” speculation to sane production.  It is rather an immediate and conscious return to the life of those who inhabit the world.  It is from that point that we can observe capitalism without flinching, including the catastrophe film that it is imposing on us at this time. The real is not the film but the audience.

What do we see thus turned around in the right direction?  We see, what is called seeing, simple things that have been true for a long time: capitalism is nothing less than banditry, irrational in its essence and devastating in its unfolding.  It has always paid for short decades of savagely unequal prosperity with crises where astronomical quantities of value disappear; with bloody punitive expeditions in all zones it judged to be strategic or menacing; and with world wars where it heals itself.

Let’s leave to the crisis-film, seen in this light, its didactic power.  Can we still dare, faced with the life of the people who are watching it, to boast of a system that puts the organization of collective life on the basis of the lowest impulses: avarice; competition; unconscious, mechanical egotism?  Praising a “democracy” where the leaders are the servants of the privatization of wealth with such impunity that it would astonish Marx himself, he who already a hundred sixty years ago qualified governments as “founded on the power of capital?”  To affirm that it is impossible to plug the hole in basic social programs but that one must, with countless billions, plug the hole in the banks?

The only thing that we can hope for from this affair is that this didactic power can be found in lessons drawn about the people from this dark scene, not about the bankers, the governments that serve them, and the media that serve the governments.  I see two levels articulated in this return to the real.  The first is clearly political.  As the film shows it, the “democratic” fetish is only the interest of the banks.  Its real name, the technical name that I have proposed for it for a longtime is “capital-parlementarianism.”  It is suitable then, as myriad experiences during the last twenty years have already begun to do, to organize a different political order.

This new order is, and will be for a long time, very distant from the seats of power of the State, but that doesn’t matter.  It is beginning at the level of the real with a practical alliance of those most immediately available to invent it: the working class people newly arrived from Africa and elsewhere, and the intellectual inheritors of the political battles of recent decades.  It will grow as a function of what it can do, step by step.  It will not undertake any kind of organic alliance with the existing extremist parties, nor with the current electoral and institutional system that give them life.  It will invent a new discipline, a political effectiveness, and a new idea of what can be their victory for those who have nothing.

The second level is ideological.  The old verdict according to which we are at the “end of ideologies” must be overturned.  We see very clearly today that this supposed end has no other reality than the objective “let’s save the banks.”  Nothing is more important than reviving the passion for ideas, of opposing to the world as it is a general hypothesis, an anticipated certainty of another course of action.  To the malfeasant spectacle of capitalism, we oppose the real life of people and of the existence of a right use of ideas.  The motive of an emancipation of humanity has lost nothing of its power.  The word “communist,” which has named this power for a long time, has certainly been vilified and prostituted.

But, today, its disappearance only serves the holders of the old order, the fevered actors of the catastrophe film.  We are going to revive it in its new clarity.  And with it its old virtue, what Marx said of communism that it “broke with traditional ideas in the most radical way” and that it brought forth “an association in which the free development of each person is the condition for the free development of all.”

Total rupture with capital-parlementarianism, a political system invented at the level of real people and of the sovereignty of the idea– everything is there to prise us free of the crisis film and lead us to a fusion of living thought and organized action.

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Professor Alain Badiou

Instead of such ideas, we US taxpayers will contribute both directly and indirectly to huge bonuses for the people responsible for the failed banks which the Regime is bailing out with our money.  You can read more here on this matter.

More Evidence the Regime Authorized Torture

October 15, 2008

A Washington Post report today says in part:

“The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency’s use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects — documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public.

“The classified memos, which have not been previously disclosed, were requested by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, according to four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents.”  Read the full article here.

In a press release dated Oct. 15, the ACLU says:”The memos, which show that senior Bush administration officials expressly endorsed the CIA’s abusive practices, should have been turned over in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking information on the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas.

“The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“‘This new report supplies further evidence that the decision to endorse torture was made by the administration’s most senior officials. The report also underscores once again how much information is still being withheld by this administration. The government is not permitted to withhold records in order to shield officials from embarrassment or to conceal evidence of illegal activity, but this administration continues to use the classification power to suppress information for precisely those ends.’

“To date, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU’s lawsuit. They are available on [the ACLU website.]”  You can read the ACLU press release here as well.

 

Also there is an article in the Guardian by a professor of economics at the University of London in which he says in part:

“Buried away in this testimony lies the most dangerous material of all: evidence which may establish that abuses on detainees in Iraq in September 2003, in the period perhaps including the events at Abu Ghraib, were the result of decisions taken at the highest levels of the administration. The administration has long proclaimed it did not allow aggressive interrogations in Iraq, since the Geneva conventions applied. Last month we learned this was false: not everyone had protection under Geneva. If you were considered to be a terrorist, you had no protection at all. A senior US intelligence officer visited Iraq in September 2003. He witnessed abusive interrogation techniques that violated Geneva and complained. The response? He was told the techniques “were pre-approved by DoD GC or higher”. DoD GC is the general counsel at the department of defence, Jim Haynes. Who could be higher? His boss: Rumsfeld.

“I have testified before Congress on these issues, and have been asked if there should be criminal investigations and prosecutions. At the very least, the next US president must ensure the full facts are established. It will then be for others to decide what follows. But if the US doesn’t get its own house in order and restore its reputation for the rule of law, others will surely step in.”  Read the full article here.

According to the Geneva Conventions, and thus to US law, it is illegal to humiliate prisoners or prevent them from contacting their families.   The US tortures prisoners some of whom were sold to it by warlords and were never combatants much less enemies of the US.

Why is this not part of the dialogue in this country before elections?  Why is this not front page news in every major media organ?  What are we doing to stop these heinous crimes against humanity?  When will we have to pay for them?

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Prisoners in Quantanamo

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Is this the way a democracy treats any human being?

My Tax Money Pays for Torture, Death of Civilians, Destruction of Ancient Treasures

October 10, 2008

A brilliant young journalist tells of life in Afghanistan now after seven years of US inflicted death and destruction there.  You can read about it here.  Scroll down to The Surge that Failed: Life in Afghanistan under the Bombs by Anand Gopal.

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A child who has just lost his parents.

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Children killed during a US raid.

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A father, son, brother.

In all the panic about the world economy, which is in jeopardy to be sure, I do not want to forget that people are suffering and dying at the hands of purveyors of violence and death paid for with my tax money and with a huge debt that my grandchildren will be paying all their lives.  My three grandsons have lived almost all their lives under the Bush regime and during this time of unprecedented US barbarism that is mostly hidden from them and disguised as “national security.”

I want to remember that other women’s grandchildren are being blown up by US bombs, terrorized by night raids on their homes and families, witnesses of atrocities so horrific that they only want revenge.  I want to remember that other women’s children and grandchildren, some captured as teenagers and grown to adulthood in the US gulag, are being tortured as I write.

I want to remember that while I have a home, electricity, water, food, transportation, meaningful occupation, and all that makes life worthwhile, other women have had to flee for their lives to live in conditions I cannot imagine.

While I still grieve for the World Trade Center Towers every time I look out my window and find they are not there, I want to remember that many women grieve the destruction of ancient monuments and artifacts, age old products of the constructive abilities of human beings through the ages.

What can we do to stop this barbarism on the part of the US?  I do not hear anyone likely to be elected to head the regime even talk about stopping this now.  We can.  We can just stop it right now.

I remember when they said we could not just leave Viet Nam.  But then, when the “enemy” took Saigon, there was the hasty exodus of US troops and personnel, that undignified scramble from the roof of the US embassy.  We could have left with dignity years before, showing the greatest of human strengths, that of saying we were wrong.  Instead, we chose to be blind to reality and to have to flee through the roof.  We chose to allow many of our citizens to continue to live in denial of having done wrong, with the sense of injury and desire to “show them” that often result from the inability to say we had done wrong and to change and make amends.

If we had chosen better then, we could be free now. We do not have to relive the past; we can work now to create a better world.

More about US Army aiming at Us

October 8, 2008

Democracy Now reported more about the establishment of 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team in the US to take care of “crowd control” and domestic disorder.  The article by Amy Goodman says in part:

We are in a time of increasing economic disparity, with the largest gap between rich and poor of any wealthy industrialized country. We are witnessing a crackdown on dissent, most recently with $100 million spent on “security” at the Democratic and Republican national conventions. The massive paramilitary police forces deployed at the RNC in St. Paul, Minn., were complete overkill, discouraging protests and conducting mass arrests (National Guard troops just back from Fallujah were there). The arrest there of almost 50 journalists (myself included) showed a clear escalation in attempting to control the message (akin to the ban on photos of flag-draped coffins of soldiers). There are two ongoing, unpopular wars that are costing lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. Nobel-winning economist Joe Stiglitz estimates that Iraq alone will cost more than $3 trillion.

In December 2001, in the midst of restricted access to bank accounts due to a financial crisis, respectable, middle-class Argentines rose up, took to the streets, smashed bank windows and ultimately forced the government out of power, despite a massive police crackdown and a failed attempt to control the media. Here in the U.S., with the prospect of a complete failure of our financial system, the people have spoken and do not want an unprecedented act of corporate welfare. We don’t know how close the system is to collapse, nor do we know how close the people are to taking to the streets. The creation of an active-duty military force, the sea-smurfs, that could be used to suppress public protest here at home is a very bad sign.

Read the rest here.

This link is to Naomi Wolf’s article including an interview with retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and patriot David Antoon about the troops deployed to put down “insurgents” in the United States.

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We have already seen this in our streets.

She also quotes U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman of California speaking to Congress, reported on C-Span and viewable on YouTube, that individual members of the House were threatened with martial law within a week if they did not pass the bailout bill.  He said:

“The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and sustaining a panic atmosphere. … Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday that the sky would fall, the market would drop two or three thousand points the first day and a couple of thousand on the second day, and a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no.”

Read the complete article here...

Democracy Now has also interviewed Army Colonel Michael Boatner, future operations division chief of USNORTHCOM, and journalist and editor of The Progressive magazine, Matthew Rothschild. You can read that interview here.

The Military Commissions Act and the USA Patriot Act have made all this “legal.”  The US is a country that disappears people and tortures its own citizens as well as those of other nations.  Why should it balk at using force to stop dissent?  It will not.  It already has during the RNC.

What are we doing to stop this and to change the disastrous course of this country?  Do you hear either candidate even addressing these atrocities?   What does that mean we must do?

Expanding War At Home and Abroad

October 1, 2008

In addition to the establishment of the military unit stationed on US soil (described in the post before this one) and aimed against its own citizens, the US is broadening war abroad.  A post earlier in September notes the invasion of Pakistan.  On October 1, the same date as the start of the US based unit, Africom goes live, too. Read about it in the McClatchy news story you can find by clicking here.  As in Iraq, the real point is probably oil.

The US financial crisis, while real and very troubling, is not stopping the forward march of US military incursions and abuse.  In all the hysteria about Wall Street, there is precious little if any discussion of the disastrous effects on the US economy of the billions spent each year on the illegal occupation of Iraq, the continuing violence in Afghanistan, and the costs of maintaining standing armies all over the world.

When will we say stop?