War is made possible by systems of power and domination. This is true of the violent war-making regimes of yesterday, and it is still true today. It is important to remember that the most violent among us are caged by an inhumane ideology. Those with a thirst for war are themselves dominated by and stuck within systems of power – be they the politicians, their supportive subjects or violent terror cells. Warmongers wish to dominate, as opposed to participate in, humanity. They are captives in need of liberation.
These systems of power thrive on the obedience of their subjects. Once these institutions are challenged, once the environment that grants them power is changed, their authority is called into question. They become feckless when challenged by humanity.
I am a big believer in humanity. It is important to remember that all races and all creeds labor together, peacefully, globally, everyday. The creative, inclined labor of human beings builds markets, mutual aid, relief, commons regimes, charity and generally decent societies. Human labor crafts peace.
Peace is liberty. When peace is realized every human being will be free to pursue their own interests and develop their capacities into individual and social account. We all deserve such liberty, especially the most vulnerable among us – children.
The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars.
You should at least read the first piece in the series, The Assassination Complex. Here’s a taste:
From his first days as commander in chief, the drone has been President Barack Obama’s weapon of choice, used by the military and the CIA to hunt down and kill the people his administration has deemed — through secretive processes, without indictment or trial — worthy of execution. There has been intense focus on the technology of remote killing, but that often serves as a surrogate for what should be a broader examination of the state’s power over life and death.
Kevin Carson has a great piece up at C4SS on the United Nations:
The UN’s stated mission is to prevent aggression; yet it does absolutely nothing to restrain the one country whose aggression far outweighs all others in the postwar period — perhaps in all of history. In the past seventy years the United States has invaded more countries, overthrown more governments and backed more dictators and terrorist death squads than any other country on Earth. There isn’t even a close second.
Jonathan Carp at C4SS offers up a solid retrospective:
If you’re an American, you’d be forgiven for thinking the war in Iraq was over. After all, Barack Obama, after being thwarted in his desperate attempts to extend the American military presence there, has been crowing about how he “ended” the war in Iraq. But the war never ended.
Last night, 13 people were killed when a café in Baghdad was bombed, bringing the total killed yesterday to forty-six. In America, we are still discussing a terrible shooting at a school that killed 28 people, including the perpetrator, over a year ago. In Iraq, more than 2,000 people have been killed just so far this year. Every single one of those deaths, and every single one of the 500,000 killed since 2003, is an entirely foreseeable consequence of American foreign policy.
But today, rather than rehashing the well-known arguments against the war, let us focus on what the war has cost us. The American death toll is well known- 4,489 killed, 32,021 wounded. According to several studies, a minimum of 4% and a maximum of 17% of American veterans of the Iraq War suffer from PTSD. Applying the lower bound to the population of Iraq, we can estimate that at least 1.3 million Iraqis suffer from this debilitating condition, which can cause difficulty sleeping, emotional detachment and outbursts of rage, among other things, and which denies those who suffer from it the possibility of leaving their suffering behind and living a normal life.
Worse still, these victims of the Iraq War, along with the survivors left behind by the dead and the wounded, do not have the support structures American veterans enjoy. American veterans are eligible for disability pensions, career retraining, and free medical care for their war wounds, physical and psychological. However dysfunctional the institutions providing these services may be, American veterans still fare much better than the Iraqi people. The Iraqis, who bore the brunt of the war, are simply left to suffer while some “libertarians” wonder why they are not more grateful for their plight.
The Iraq War was, as wars go, not an especially harsh or brutal one, and was largely conducted according to all the latest precepts of “humanitarian intervention.” The free-fire zones of Vietnam were largely absent, as were the brutalities of massed, prolonged aerial and artillery bombardment. And yet, the results are unimaginably horrific to us in our First World comfort. Sandy Hook and Columbine reverberate to this day in America; in the hell into which we plunged Iraq, neither would even make the front page. There is no war without horrific violence and nightmarish suffering. Never forget.
During a segment on CNN last week, Wolf Blitzer told the audience that a new warning from the Pentagon was saying that “Iran’s missiles are getting more accurate, apparently getting more deadly as well.” Wolfie then threw it to CNN’s Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence, who “reported” the following:
Well, Wolf, Iran’s missiles are getting more accurate, but they may not have to be because they are also getting more deadly. By that I mean they’re developing a new payload system that spreads out the destruction over a wider area than a solid warhead. And you’ve got to remember how many U.S. bases and U.S. ships are in that region.
The Pentagon report says Iran is developing short-range missiles that can identify ships at sea and maneuver towards them in mid-flight. And Iran already has a missile that could reach the U.S. if it could put it on a ship and move it to within 600 miles of the American coastline.
I’d like to repeat that: “Iran already has a missile that could reach the U.S.”!!!! (“if it could it put on a ship and move it to within 600 miles of the American coastline”). As As’ad AbuKhalil observed about these frightening Iranian missiles: ”They can also reach the moon if they can put it on a rocket and get closer to the moon.” Indeed, I’m excited to announce that I’m writing today from within walking distance to the peak of Mount Everest! (if someone transports me and my laptop by jet and then helicopter to within 500 yards or so of the top of that mountain).
Lawrence also touted what he called “a new report from the Pentagon” (which must not be questioned, only uncritically described with his TV-reporter’s gravely worried face plastered on) that “confirms” that “Iran may be technically capable of flight-testing an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015.” Far from being “new,” that’s a Pentagon claim Fox News was hyping more than two years ago (“Iranian Missile May Be Able to Hit U.S. by 2015″). Note how, to a CNN Pentagon reporter, the mere assertion by the Pentagon of a claim amounts to “confirmation” of its truth (LAWRENCE: “Iran’s recent missile test showed off their capabilities. And a new report from the Pentagon confirms it. Iran’s ballistic missiles are more accurate, more versatile and more deadly than ever. The report finds that ‘Iran may be technically capable of flight-testing an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015′– the type of missile that could hit the U.S. if it works”).
There’s a perennial debate about whether the propagandistic tripe produced by establishment media outlets is shaped more by evil or by stupidity. Personally, I think it’s both: a healthy dose of each is needed. The system design is malicious, while those who serve as its public face are generally vacant. In the case of CNN, one can think of it as the Time-Warner/Wolf-Blitzer dichotomy.
A couple of years ago, I was on MSNBC debating The Iranian Threat with Arianna Huffington…. Virtually the entire time I was speaking, scary video imagery was being shown of Iran testing a mid-range missile at sea, and near the end of the debate, The Washington Post‘s Jonathan Capehart popped in to demand that I try to reconcile what he obviously believed was the glaring contradiction between (a) my claim that Iran was not the aggressor in the region and (b) Iran’s testing of a missile.
That the U.S., Israel and their allies routinely test long-range inter-continental ballistic missiles and (in the case of the U.S.) have done so for decades while building a huge stockpile of them never enters the mind of Capehart and his establishment media colleagues. He genuinely believes that Iran’s testing of a mid-range missile definitively proves their malicious aggression, but the same cannot be said of those on his side who engage in far more extensive military development. That’s the unspoken, vapid precept driving most American media discourse; indeed, enthusiastically embracing this form of jingoistic reasoning is more or less a prime requirement for the job.
With “reporters” and “journalists” like these, it is no wonder nobody watches CNN.
Image via The Guardian
Glenn Greenwald has a great piece up about the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. The entire column is well worth reading:
Of all the self-flattering delusions permeating American political discourse, I think the most obviously false one is that the U.S. is sternly opposed to repressive regimes and seeks to defend the human rights and democratic freedoms of citizens of that region and the world. If one wants to defend the close U.S.-Saudi alliance on grounds of material self-interest — they have lots of oil and the alternative to the current heinous regime would be sympathetic to Al Qaeda (even more so than the current one) — one can rationally do so.
But it never ceases to amaze that every time there is some new American Enemy to rail against or attack — in Iraq, in Iran, in Syria, in Libya — and defenders of American militarism claim to be motivated by opposition to human rights abuses and repression of freedom, there are hordes of people willing to believe that these noble, magnanimous considerations actually drive U.S. policy. What else would the U.S. have to do to prove this is false? The people in the region — whom the American media loves to patronizingly scorn as propagandized — have no trouble watching the close U.S-Saudi alliance or Hillary Clinton’s close family friendship with the Mubaraks and seeing the emptiness of American rhetoric about freedom and democracy. Perhaps it isn’t they who are the ones drowning in propaganda.
Image via Google Images
To understand why the War on Drugs persists, one has to journey deep inside the prohibitionist mind. During a discussion about marijuana on CNN, talking head LZ Granderson hoped he wasn’t going to have to discuss the issue much in the context of the 2012 election, saying “We have way too many important things to talk about.”
When the host of the segment wondered whether some people would fail to support President Obama based solely on the issue of marijuana, Granderson called those voters idiots, saying, “If you are voting on one single issue, especially one issue that is so peripheral, you are an idiot, I don’t want to mince words here.” He continued, “If you’re basing your vote on who’s going to be president about whether or not they let you roll up a blunt then you’re just an idiot and I hope you don’t have the right to vote anyway.”
To call it a ‘peripheral’ issue makes a mockery of the millions of Americans who’ve had their lives turned upside down by a marijuana arrest. It’s an insult to innocent victims of rampant racial profiling brought on biased and brutal drug enforcement practices. It dishonors the memory of the tens of thousands who’ve lost their lives at the hands of violent cartels to whom we’ve handed a huge stake in the lucrative American marijuana trade.
On a daily basis, the war on marijuana destroys families, ends lives, destabilizes communities and diverts limited resources away from the people who need them and into an endless cycle of drug war devastation. Either that, or it prevents all these horrible things, as its defenders continue to claim. In either case, the question of how we as a society choose to deal with marijuana is more than just a serious issue, it’s a matter of life and death. Of course it is. There’s no such thing as a multi-billion dollar question that isn’t worth asking.
As Morgan notes in his piece, public opinion for both medical marijuana and full legalization is robust– especially among independent voters, the pivotal voting block. In fact, support amongst independent voters actually exceeds that of the general population. Polling shows 57% of independent voters support legalizing marijuana, while 79% believe that the federal government should respect state medical marijuana laws. Those politicians wishing to emerge victorious this fall must win over the support of independent voters– and based on the numbers above, legalizing marijuana seems like a pretty good place to start.
There’s also another flaw in this kind of condescending reasoning typically used to marginalize those pushing drug policy reform. Deciding how to vote based on the issues of marijuana legalization and drug policy reform, contra Granderson’s contention, is not simply focusing on a single issue. Rather, marijuana legalization and the broader drug war is inextricably linked with a basket of other issues: criminal justice and mass incarceration, cartel violence, SWAT raids and militarized police, whittling away of the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties, racism,foreign policy, public health, economics, and state budgets. The uncomfortable truth is that drug policy bleeds into all other aspects of American politics, whether people like Granderson want to acknowledge it or not.
Image via Freedom’s Phoenix