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Health Care & Environment
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.09 Trump administration blocks asylum claims by those crossing border illegally [Making America Less Great Again...]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
11.10 US stops refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft in Yemen war [But there are a few children still alive. It's too soon!]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
WAR FOR DUMMIES:
A Death Warrant for the Future
First published in Empire Burlesque earlier today, 2 December 2009
How many tomorrows have they given away?
How many compared to yesterday?
How many more without any reward?
How many more can they afford?
-- Bob Dylan, "2x2"
Obama's plan is to follow a strategy that has been proven over and over again to enflame Pashtun resistance and intensify violent ethnic conflict across Afghanistan. Only an idiot could actually believe such a policy would be an effective step toward achieving the goals mouthed by Obama in his speech.
And now it is here. The new "surge" in Afghanistan is underway – the second surge launched by the progressive president in his first year in office. Barack Obama's speech, and the policies embraced in it, and the sinister implications underlying it, are all abysmally awful. They are a death warrant not only for the thousands of Afghan and Pakistani civilians who will be killed in the intensified conflict, but also for the countless thousands of innocents yet to die in the coming generations of a world roiled and destabilized by an out-of-control empire.
Already the evil effects of America's decades-long campaign of violent domination of world affairs will carry on far into the future – even if this campaign were brought to a sudden halt right now. Every one of us – and our children, and our grandchildren – will have to live with terrible consequences of the corrupt and murderous imperial project. There is no escaping this fate. But each day that the imperial project goes forward makes those consequences more horrific, more atrocious, and extends them deeper into the substrate of human existence, and farther and farther into the future.
And as Barack Obama's speech shows, we are plowing ahead on this insane, inhuman course. We are not even attempting to begin to find ways to slow or mitigate the imperial cancer, much less stop it outright; we are just stomping the pedal to the floor, screeching full-throttle to the depths of hell. This is a terrible, sickening moment in American history, yet another fatal turning point in the nation's slow and agonizing demise.
As you might expect, Arthur Silber has provided a deep and thorough analysis of Obama's speech in a genuinely masterful piece entitled, aptly, "A Deadly Liar and Manipulator." I will excerpt some of this essay, but you will cheat yourself of much important insight if you don't read it in full. – Silber rightly notes the most immediate and glaring falsehood in Obama's speech, a piece of howling mendacity so transparent that even the New York Times felt compelled to acknowledge the "seemingly contradictory goals of expanding American involvement in the war even as he sought to bring it to a close." Silber nails the deeper truth behind this "contradiction":
Silber then details Obama's extensive list of the many ways that he promises America will remain enmeshed in the affairs of Pakistan forever, and notes:
Pakistan is indeed key to this imperial enterprise. As the New York Times noted, beyond Obama's florid yet flaccid rhetoric (which even a diehard fan like Joan Walsh called "the worst major speech of his presidency"), there is a much darker component to his second surge:
Expanding the dirty war in Pakistan -- where the overwhelming majority of the people are incensed by the American military and CIA presence in their country -- is absolute madness...if what you really want to do is cure the "cancer" of extremism in the region, or "unleash the great potential" of the Pakistani people. Only an idiot could genuinely believe that murdering civilians and conducting "black ops" all over the country could somehow establish "security and prosperity" in Pakistan; and Obama is no idiot. But he, like all the mandarins of our ruling class, is counting on the fact that you are an idiot.
In the speech, and the PR seeding that surrounded it, Obama and his mouthpieces stress the "success" of the Bush Regime's "surge" in Iraq as an encouraging model for the escalation in Afghanistan. Putting aside the fact that Obama already launched a surge in Afghanistan earlier this year that was just as big as Bush's escalation in Iraq but has proved such a singular failure that he is now launching an even bigger surge, the truth is that the Iraq "surge" had almost nothing to do with the abatement of horrific violence in that conquered land. As we have noted here very often, the "surge" was in fact the final act of a protracted civil war, in which the United States actively abetted the vast ethnic cleansing of Sunni Muslims on behalf of the extremist Shiite parties empowered by the American invasion. As Juan Cole notes:
Cole also notes the instrumental role played by Iran in getting the breakaway Mahdi Army Shiite militia to stand down and cooperate with the American-installed government. In any case, none of the political, social, economic, religious or ethnic circumstances in Iraq apply in Afghanistan. Cole again:
So Obama's plan is to follow a strategy that has been proven over and over again to enflame Pashtun resistance and intensify violent ethnic conflict across Afghanistan. Again, only an idiot could actually believe such a policy would be an effective step toward achieving the goals mouthed by Obama in his speech. Perhaps the only thing that does Obama even a modicum of credit, relatively speaking, was the dull, glazed delivery of his address to the cadets; somewhere deep inside him, there was an actual human being who could not wholly hide the fact that he was speaking murderous bullshit -- and knew that it was murderous bullshit.
But let's not get carried away in the credit department. For the fact remains that Obama has embarked on a course of deep, far-reverberating evil, and that he has done this knowingly, willingly, deliberately after months of contemplation and despite every opportunity to do otherwise. And he has done so with a speech that, as Silber notes, was replete with lies and moral corruption.
Here Silber's analysis pierces through to the heart of darkness in the speech, and in the imperial enterprise as a whole:
Scott Horton at Harper's has more on this theme:
Actually, as Silber and his sources show, it is entirely clear: torture continues under Obama -- who, after all, personally appointed a notorious operator of secret JSCOC prisons and commander of death squads and dirty war ops in Iraq, Stanley McChrystal, as his very own top commander in Afghanistan. Obama knows what is going on in Bagram, and he knows exactly what he is getting -- and what he is foisting on the Afghan people -- by putting McChrystal in charge of the occupation.
And still deeper, still darker, with Silber [and see his original piece for the important links]:
Silber also scores the indeed "breathtaking lies" in this passage of Obama's speech:
Silber concludes by examining the final paragraphs of Obama's speech, passages which Silber says "causes me to conclude that Obama is an extraordinarily dangerous man, and a manipulator of the first order." In his lamed attempt at a stirring crescendo, Obama waves the bloody flag of 9/11:
This clapped-out treacle -- which sounds like George W. Bush at his most rote and robotic -- leads to a call for similar unity to back this new escalation of a nakedly imperial war. Says Obama:
While most people will consider these words, for good or bad, as rhetorical flourishes, Silber finds a deeper, malevolent implication behind them:
For Silber has identified one of the prime dangers of Obama's presidency: it has "gutted whatever effective opposition might have existed. To their eternal shame, the Democrats never opposed Bush in any way that mattered -- but at least the *possibility of opposition had not been obliterated entirely. In the near term and probably for longer, that possibility now appears to have been extinguished."
And by opposition, Silber does not mean the partisan braying of whatever imperialist faction happens to be out of power, but, as he wrote before the election, he is referring to:
We are seeing the result of a now completely disarmed and co-opted opposition to empire even as we speak. We are seeing the rise of religious and political extremism, of vague, inchoate apprehensions among large swathes of the population that they are being badly screwed -- apprehensions that are seized upon and twisted by manipulative elites into irrational diversions (Obama as a socialist!!), nationalist aggression, sexual obsession and religious intolerance. The only goal of these manipulations, of course, is to return the manipulators to full imperial power, while protecting the deeply corrupt system of dominance and privilege as as whole.
But let us not be exceptionalists. The utter degradation of American society by our bipartisan imperialists is a tragedy, but only for those of us who happen to be Americans. The full force of Obama's imperial manipulations -- like those of his predecessors -- will fall like a ravaging fire on the innocent, the defenseless, the vulnerable and the oppressed in foreign lands. These policies, these horrific, sick-making "continuities," will engender untold suffering, unabated anger, rising hatred, and more violence, more brutality, more barbarism, both in the perpetrators and the victims, for years, for decades, for generations to come.
Let no one be in any doubt. What Barack Obama announced on Tuesday is yet another vast, painful, wrenching defeat for all humanity, for the very idea of what it means to be human, for the progress of our whole wretched, imperfect, self-lacerating species. Everything that is best in us is driven back, beaten down, lacerated and abandon by such defeats. How many more can we afford?
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on December 2, 2009.