Archive for November, 2011

On Meeting on Climate Change, Urgent Issues but Low Coverage

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Though writing about “the political economy of human rights” abuses, authors Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman strike a chord on international affairs in their book The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism when they write that when it comes to the mass media covering and providing information on important topics “much is disguised or withheld and analysis of the systematic and pervasive character of U.S. influence and intervention and its obvious roots in a domestic socioeconomic structure is spectacularly lacking.” This observation about the role of the media in serving power is, as we will see, applicable to environmental issues.

For example, in an article published today by the New York Times (NYT), John M. Broder manages to not inform us of many important things in his piece (“At Meeting on Climate Change, Urgent Issues but Low Expectations“). While he notes that

With intensifying climate disasters and global economic turmoil as the backdrop, delegates from 194 nations will gather in Durban, South Africa, starting Monday to try to advance, if only incrementally, the world’s response to dangerous climate change.

—”much is disguised or withheld and analysis of the systematic and pervasive character of U.S. influence and intervention and its obvious roots in a domestic socioeconomic structure is spectacularly lacking.”

An astute reader might wonder why Broder states such important actions will happen “only incrementally” but will not get much more than a general explanation that does more harm and good. We are told that

To those who have followed the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change over their nearly 20-year history, the conflicts and controversies to be taken up in Durban are monotonously familiar: the differing obligations of industrialized and developing nations, the question of who will pay to help poor nations adapt, the urgency of protecting tropical forests, the need to rapidly develop and deploy clean energy technology.

Going back to Chomsky and Herman we learn that “a semi-rational approach to international affairs, which relates prevailing phenomena to the existing distribution of power,” which is sorely needed, “is excluded as unthinkable” when applied to the U.S. So the question is does the NYT relate the “prevailing phenomena” that is the UNFCCC’s inability to resolve the climate change issue  and other “conflicts and controversies” “to the existing distribution of power”? Not really. We are told that “The negotiating process itself is under fire from some quarters, including the poorest nations who believe their needs are being neglected in the fight among the major economic powers.” But rather than address what it is about “the negotiating process” that is coming “under fire” from “the poorest nations” the matter is quickly buried and we move on to space being provided to the fact that “Criticism is also coming from a relatively small but vocal band of climate-change skeptics, many of them sitting members of the United States Congress, who doubt the existence of human influence on the climate and ridicule international efforts to deal with it.” At this point the criticism is akin to those who believe the Earth is flat, or that Apollo pulls the Sun across the sky each day. Worse, bringing up such nonsensical criticisms without even countering it with scientific data, or questioning the political and economic interests of these “climate-change skeptics” (i.e. their ties to the petroleum industry), only goes to empower them.

Another revealing example by the Times of not relating the “prevailing phenomena to the existing distribution of power” is noting that “having entered the United Nations climate talks at Copenhagen two years ago with grand ambitions and having left with disillusion, are now defining expectations down and hoping to keep the process alive through modest steps.” Why did so many leave Copenhagen with “disillusion” and “now defining expectations down”? No explanation is given but the answer is simple: President Obama sabotaged the talks. Bolivia’s President, Evo Morales, told Democracy Now! after he left with “disillusion” that “I know what exclusion looks like.”

When I arrived at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in late last year, the first thing that struck me were environmental activists braving the freezing weather to voice their disappointment at being locked out of the largest ever international meeting on climate change. Inside the conference, I realised that Bolivia was in a position similar to that of the protesters outside. We, the representatives of the majority of the world’s peoples, were effectively being left in the cold while a tiny group dominated by a few rich governments met in private to produce an unacceptable compromise. When asked to add our signature to the badly named “accord”, my government would not compromise its dignity and refused to sign.

The “unacceptable compromise” was an unbinding “agreement” to make “meaningful” reductions in carbon emissions. But as BBC environmental correspondent Richard Black noted:

While the White House was announcing the agreement, many other – perhaps most other – delegations had not even seen it. A comment from a UK official suggested the text was not yet final and the Bolivian delegation has already complained about the way it was reached – “anti-democratic, anti-transparent and unacceptable”. With no firm target for limiting the global temperature rise, no commitment to a legal treaty and no target year for peaking emissions, countries most vulnerable to climate impacts have not got the deal they wanted.

Thus most of the world’s leaders left the conference with “disillusion” and are “now defining expectations down.”

The apologetics for imperialism is achieved once again with this comment from Broder’s article:

One of the issues that is most contentious and least likely to be resolved involves the future of the Kyoto Protocol, which requires the major industrialized nations to meet targets on emissions reduction but imposes no mandates on developing countries, including emerging economic powers and sources of global greenhouse gas emissions like China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

The United States is not a party to the protocol, having refused to even consider ratifying it because of those asymmetrical obligations. Some major countries, including Canada, Japan and Russia, have said they will not agree to an extension of the protocol next year unless the unbalanced requirements of developing and developed countries are changed. That is similar to the United States’ position, which is that any successor treaty must apply equally to all major economies.

A few sensible questions Broder doesn’t ask or address is:

  1. How have the developed countries developed?
  2. Why have the developing countries not developed?
  3. What has been the role of the developing countries in the development of the developed world?
  4. How does this relate to the Kyoto Protocol?

These four questions are largely answered with two words: colonialism and imperialism. The developed world has developed via the colonization and pillaging of  the “developing world.” Through centuries of European and American imperialism, the wealth and resources of the “developing world” has been exploited for the development of the powerful nations, leaving the developing world to struggle for existence. While the West has violated its own “free trade” principles that it imposes on the rest of the world via the World Trade Organization and various “free trade agreements” (much like what the U.S. just did in Panama, Colombia and South Korea), and which has allowed it to develop their economies, this same luxury is not being afforded to the developing world.

This is much like the proverbial poker game political scientist Roy L. Brooks used about ten years ago to describe the continuation of racism in the U.S. And with a simple modification it easily applies to this “contentious” issue:

Two [groups of countries]– one [developed] and the other [developing]– are playing a game of poker. The game has been in progress for some 300 years. One player – the [developed] one – has been cheating during much of this time, but now announces: ‘from this day forward, there will be a new game with new players and no more cheating.’ Hopeful but suspicious, the [developing] player responds, ‘that’s great. I’ve been waiting to hear you say that for 300 years. Let me ask you, what are you going to do with all those poker chips that you have stacked up on your side of the table all these years?’ ‘Well,’ said the [developed] player, somewhat bewildered by the question, ‘they are going to stay right here, of course.’ ‘That’s unfair,’ snaps the [developing] player. ‘The new [developed] player will benefit from your past cheating. Where’s the equality in that?’ ‘But you can’t realistically expect me to redistribute the poker chips along [developmental] lines when we are trying to move away from considerations of [development] and when the future offers no guarantees to anyone,’ insists the [developed] player. ‘And surely,’ he continues, ‘redistributing the poker chips would punish individuals for something they did not do. Punish me, not the innocents!’ Emotionally exhausted, the [developing] player answers, ‘but the innocents will reap a [developmental] windfall.’

It is hard to contain outrage towards the cynicism of the West’s exploitation of the developing world to the point that it has spewed so much carbon into the atmosphere that a climatic crisis is upon us, while its victims are being denied the privilege of developing themselves due to a misguided sense of fairness.

Broder continues the farce by letting us know that “the major developing countries, and most African and Pacific island nations would like to see the Kyoto process extended as a prelude to a binding international agreement after 2020,” which ends that year but that according to the chief American climate negotiator such an agreement will only be likely “once the various Kyoto and Cancún agreements have run their course”—i.e. no serious agreement will ever be accepted, and only some meaningless agreement may happen after Kyoto is buried in its grave. That the International Energy Agency recently announced that “If we do not have an international agreement whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door will be closed forever” is not even mentioned by Broder.

The Times piece ends with noting that

The United States has been criticized at these gatherings for years, in part because of its rejection of the Kyoto framework and in part because it has not adopted a comprehensive domestic program for reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama has pledged to reduce American emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, but his preferred approach, a nationwide cap-and-trade system for carbon pollution, failed spectacularly in Congress in 2010. United States emissions are down about 6 percent over the past five years, largely because of the drop in industrial and electricity production caused by the recession.

As noted above, a coherent account of the U.S.’s “rejection of the Kyoto framework” is never provided, nor is there an explanation of why the U.S. “has not adopted a comprehensive domestic program for reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions” in a way that relates “prevailing phenomena to the existing distribution of power.” And ignoring the role of President Obama at the late 2009 Copenhagen talks, we are told that the president “has pledged to reduce American emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, but his preferred approach, a nationwide cap-and-trade system for carbon pollution, failed spectacularly in Congress in 2010.” Though again, why it “failed spectacuraly” is “disguised or withheld.” Chomsky and Herman would likely agree that, like the role of U.S. human rights violations abroad, American opposition and inaction on resolving climate change has “its obvious roots in a domestic socioeconomic structure,” and the Times journalistic integrity in covering this “is spectacularly lacking.” They would also surely agree with their words being applied to the statement that, “If the press  . . . were free of compelling ideological blinders, the story of the United States” and its counter-productive role in mitigating climate change “would be at the core of the study of U.S. international affairs, past and current” and that sadly, and much to the dismay of the world who will suffer the consequences, “Such is very far from the case.”

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Occupy and the Legacy of JFK

November 28, 2011 2 comments

From the foundation of the United States of America, we have been an empire. The first President of the United States, George Washington, referred to the country as a “nascent empire.” By the 1820s the imperial and colonial policies of the country were taking shape, most notably with the Monroe Doctrine—which is still in effect and which led a military spokesperson to say in late 2006, about the training of Latin American militaries to counter the growing influence of China, that the country was encroaching in “our area of responsibility.” The purpose of close ties to the military is to carry out a coup if things get out of control.

By the end of World War Two the U.S. had already sent its military to Latin American countries no less than three dozen times in order to keep the political and economic climate of the Western hemisphere safe for U.S. investors, with the welfare of the indigenous people being expendable. The horrors inflicted on Latin America continued after the war, escalated in the 1960s and culminated in the 1980s before popular movements in the region were able to bring some sort of peace. Even the highly conservative Catholic Church was eventually moved to speak out against the abuses being visited upon the region. As one church group said in a letter to American Christians:

Friends and Fellow Christians, it is time that you realize that our continent is becoming one gigantic prison, and in some regions one vast cemetery . . . we—with the exception of Cuba—are trapped in the same system. We all move within one economic-political-military complex in which one finds committed [the] fabulous interests of [the] financial groups that dominate the life of your country and the creole oligarchies of Latin American nations. Both groups, more allied today than ever, have held back time after time the great transformations that our people need and desperately demand.

This “system” consisting of “one gigantic prison, and in some regions one vast cemetery” that is committed to the “fabulous interests of [the] financial groups that dominate” our life (i.e. Wall Street) is the result of what has been dubbed the “National Security Doctrine” in Latin America, and that was a direct product of the “Kennedy Doctrine.”

In the end of their chapter on “constructive terror” (i.e. “Bloodbaths and terror that contribute substantially to a favorable investment climate . . . in the sense that they advance the end that clearly ranks highest in the priorities of Free World leaders”) in their book The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism: The Political Economy of Human Rights: Volume 1, which touches extensively on the effects of the Kennedy Doctrine, authors Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman note how in reviewing the mass media

much is disguised or withheld and analysis of the systematic and pervasive character of U.S. influence and intervention and its obvious roots in a domestic socioeconomic structure is spectacularly lacking. A semi-rational approach to international affairs, which relates prevailing phenomena to the existing distribution of power, is restricted to the enemies of the state, and is then often embroidered with convenient mythology. In the U.S. domains, such an approach is excluded as unthinkable, and we read only of the limits of U.S. power, the quandaries of the human rights administration, certain past errors that have long been overcome though their consequences still haunt us, and so on. If the press and academic scholarship were free of compelling ideological blinders, the story of the United States in Latin America would be at the core of the study of U.S. international affairs, past and current. Given the substantial and often determining influence on the region, the current plague of benign [i.e. terror or bloodbaths of allies which doesn’t “contribute substantially to a favorable investment climate,” but is overlooked due to precarious political and economic relations] and constructive terror would be the central concern of human rights activists. Such is very far from the case.

This quote expresses quite accurately the experience you will be likely to find in attempting to discuss the real legacy of JFK even with considerably decent people. Indeed, an honest analysis of Kennedy is “spectacularly lacking.” In discussing the former Soviet Union it has been possible possible to “relate prevailing phenomena to the existing distribution of power,” and it’s definitely “embroidered with convenient mythology” (e.g. the various “gaps”) but is “excluded as unthinkable” when applied to JFK’s actions in Latin America.

Cuba and the so-called “Cuban Missile Crisis” is a literal example of “compelling ideological blinders.” As the fifty year anniversary of the incident approaches it will be demonstrated how most Americans simply can not comprehend that the “crisis” was not that we were threatened with nukes 90 miles from Florida, but that the Kennedy administration was having its aggression towards Cuba and Russia deterred. Attempts to provide historical context on U.S.-Cuban relations from the 1820s to JFK’s terrorist, assassination and invasion attempts towards post-revolutionary Cuba, and U.S. efforts to “rollback” the Soviet Union, or the placement of nukes in Turkey that were aimed at Moscow will fall on deaf ears. All that will be possible to state was that there were “limits of U.S. power” in that Kennedy was working within the political climate (as if he had no control over defining, which he had considerably), etc. It simply will not be computed that Cuba and Russia had much more real and serious threats and were acting quite rationally under those conditions to deter Kennedy. Reality is conveniently and self-servingly turned topsy-turvy and the U.S. is made the victims while Cuba and Russia are the aggressors—and all attempts made to demonstrate how such a conception was wrong, jingoistic in nature and propaganda are futile. It is as Chomsky once said on the matter

It’s just that you’ve been properly educated, you can’t understand facts like these: even if the information is right in front of your eyes, you can’t comprehend it.

What is important to stress is this kind of national mythology worshiping U.S. power is found even on what can be called “the Left.” At the time of this writing it was found in the Occupy movements, which are to be found all across the country and are standing up against the power and corruption that capitalists (i.e. the 1%) have on us and our government. It was quite disturbing to see Occupy groups glorifying and idolizing former President John F. Kennedy as a man of “peace.” One of my own local groups, Occupy Dallas, posted a painting of the assassinated president and a heartfelt quote from him on peace for the anniversary of his assassination. When it was brought to attention how inappropriate this was considering the legacy of the man, especially in Latin America and Southeast Asia, and how it demonstrated just what Kennedy thought of “peace,” I was overcome by apologetics for the president. These well-meaning people has been “properly educated” and could not comprehend what was right in front of their eyes. It’s a shame this commonsense approach is missing in a group like Occupy Dallas. One would expect to find this in the Tea Party (and it’s certainly there in abundance). But the power and efficacy of the doctrinal system prevails. The whole experience only added more value to the comment made by Malcolm X that, “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”

The “compelling ideological blinders” that plague our society are important to be overcome, and cannot be achieved without the development of a democratic culture. Along with the culture of imperial thought, the reform versus revolution schism is emerging, as well as that of the authoritarian left versus libertarian left. The memes of “1 percent” and “99 percent” are also proving problematic in that this overly-vague conceptualization of the problem is masking important class conflicts (particularly that between the working class and the coordinator class). It is also worth mentioning that the complaint of Occupy activists being privileged does have a kernel of truth to it, in that huge sections of the working class are incapable of taking the time out of their busy lives to go to somewhat far-off city parks to camp out, or consistently participate in general assemblies, while their neighborhoods and workplaces go unorganized.

These issues, of which there are more, are not brought up to beat-up on, or to demoralize, or weaken Occupy, but rather the opposite. The art of listening and constructive thinking are critical skills we must develop and exercise if we are to progress as a movement. Occupy materialized quickly and nothing is perfect. Problems should be expected. Errors have been made and will be made. The point should be to consider them and, if need be, to learn from them. That we are witnessing a self-organized and self-managed movement spread out all over the world, though linked in a common struggle and in solidarity, while incorporating the practices of participatory democracy, is probably one of the most exciting developments in human history; as opposed to the “perennial facts of human society” that the late Edward Said wrote about in Culture and Imperialism: “Domination and inequities of power and wealth.”

But what all is being done to establish a detailed vision and strategy of not only what is wrong, but what must be (un)done, and how to (un)do it? What is being done to connect the various struggles across cultural, economic, political, sexual, gender, ecological and international lines, and bring them together into a common struggle? What steps are being taken towards developing new democratic institutions in our own communities and workplaces so that the seeds of change are planted? What have we done, or are we doing, to till that proverbial soil? What are we doing to break the chains of our own various oppressions, which have acted like corporate and state-approved “ideological blinders”? Are we aware of how our habits and opinions have been carefully managed by a private and state propaganda system, which has turned us into mindless, obedient, atomized, passive consumerist? Our most important goal is to have clear and definitive answers demonstrating our organization and action before this movement fizzes out.

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Letter to Rep. Joe Barton

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment
My U.S. Rep., Joe Barton

Joe Barton, you ask in a recent email: “How do we control government spending?”

Which spending? Schools? Healthcare? Social Security?

Or War? Bank bailouts? Tax cuts and breaks and loopholes for the rich?

The problem is not spending. The problem is what we spend on and how clowns like you limit our source of revenue by catering to oil, financial and weapons cartels.

If you care so much about “spending” then how come is it you support private health care and not Medicare for All, which would reduce our “spending” considerably? Why do you continue to vote for our bloated military budget and for war? What about bailing out Wall Street?

Spending is a funny thing, Joe. It’s not just dollars that we’re spending. What about our health and safety and welfare? When we sign free trade agreements that send our jobs overseas so third world labor can be exploited what did we “spend”?

You ask these loaded questions that are out of touch with the American people because you are pushing an anti-working class agenda.

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll (conducted November 2-5) found that 56% favor “a graduated income tax system, in which people with higher incomes pay a higher tax rate” (i.e. progressive taxation) versus 40% who favor a “flat tax.”

Do you support progressive taxation? Are you in line with 56% of Americans?

This same poll said “I’m going to read you two short descriptions of what some people are thinking these days when it comes to government and the economy. Please tell me if you strongly agree, mildly agree, feel neutral about, mildly disagree, or strongly disagree with each set of ideas.” Here is the statement:

The current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country. America needs to reduce the power of major banks and corporations and demand greater accountability and transparency. The government should not provide financial aid to corporations and should not provide tax breaks to the rich.

Results: 60% “strongly agree.”

Do you agree that the economy is structured in favor of the affluent minority? Do you agree that we need to reduce the power of banks and corporations? Do you agree we should not provide financial aid and tax breaks to the rich? Are you in line with 60% of Americans, Joe?

A CBS News/New York Times Poll conducted between October 19-24 found this to be our national priorities:

Economy and jobs: 57%
Budget deficit/National debt: 5%
Politicians/Government: 3%
Partisan politics: 3%
Immigration: 2%
Education: 2%
Health care: 2%
Big gov’t/Bureaucracy: 2%
Other: 20%
Unsure: 4%

Why is it you are worried about something that only a twentieth of the population is concerned about?

A United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International and carried out on Nov. 3-6 found 68% said “New federal *spending* to try to create jobs by rehabilitating public schools, improving roads and mass transit, and preventing layoffs of teachers, police officers, and other first responders” was “very important.”

Do you support new federal spending for a jobs creation program? Are you in line with 68% of Americans on this?

They also found that 56% said “New legislation to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages at lower rates” is “very important.”

Do you support this?

None of your views, Joe, is in line with the majority of the American people.

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The New York Times on Free Trade and Sanctions

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

You would think a political party in a democracy using underhanded tactics to push through unpopular legislation would stir outrage from the New York Times. I mean, this is the “liberal media” in the Land of the Free—a country whose government routinely boasts about its support for democracy, freedom, human rights and justice.

But that’s not the case.

Around the same time that President Obama announced his jobs bill he signed a Free Trade agreement with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Of course, the New York Times has been silent on how Obama talks about creating jobs while acts to send them to foreign countries—but not before they accept agreements that will be harmful for their workers.

And so it is that we read today in the “paper of record” (Seoul Votes a Chaotic Yes to Free Trade With U.S.) about how “Lawmakers of the governing Grand National Party caught the opposition by surprise by calling a snap plenary session. Opposition legislators rushed in but were too late to prevent their rivals from putting the bill to a vote.” But not all “rushed in” because as we learn, “Glass doors were shattered as legislative aides from the opposition parties tried to barge in, and security guards formed a human barricade.”

Wait. It gets worse.

“The government had urged quick approval of the deal, first signed in 2007 but long unratified by either country, arguing that it would help the economy grow.” However, “The opposition argued that the deal would fatten the pockets of big export companies, which dominate the economy, while depriving farmers and small merchants of their livelihoods. Amid widespread distrust of big business and resentment of what is seen as increasing economic inequality, such fears have led thousands of farmers and labor activists to hold almost daily protest rallies outside the Parliament building. In occasional clashes, the police fired water cannons at protesters to stop them from entering Parliament.”

The comment “what is seen as increasing economic inequality” is very odd. It either is or isn’t (it is). Reducing it to “what is seen as” casts doubt, and, without ever addressing the reality, it’s left hanging in the air. This tactic of casting doubt on the opposition, but not doing so for the governing party, exposes a bias and is just is underhanded as the tactic the governing party used to ram through the bill.

A spokesperson for the governing party even had the audacity to say, “This was an inevitable action we had to take, because we could not make one step of progress in our talks with the opposition, which thought only about its partisan interest.” It is only carrying about “partisan interest” if you’re sticking up for the working class. If you’re trying to “fatten the pockets of big export companies, which dominate the economy” then that’s the “national interest” and it becomes “inevitable” to be underhanded in imposing the unpopular bill.

While the article plays “objectivity” and gives space to counter claims, there is an eerie silence on the method used to handover the economy to U.S. businesses at the expense of the working class in South Korea. So while President Lee “faces declining popularity amid corruption scandals involving his former aides, concerns about deteriorating ties with North Korea and a widening wealth gap . . . he is proud of the closer ties with the United States under his government — a relationship he wanted to reaffirm by having Parliament pass the trade bill.” Who cares about the opinions of the masses? Let them eat cake.

Turning to another article in the Times todayUnited States and Its Allies Expand Sanctions on Iran—we read about how “Major Western powers took significant steps on Monday to cut Iran off from the international financial system, announcing coordinated sanctions aimed at its central bank and commercial banks. The measures, a response to a recent United Nations report warning about Iran’s nuclear activities, tighten the vise on Iran but still fall short of a blanket cutoff.”

The problem with the article is that it ignores the problems of the “recent United Nations report warning about Iran’s nuclear activities” being a deeply flawed and politicized report (which I’ve already written about here). The closest we get is this: “Iran reacted angrily to the agency’s report, and renewed its display of displeasure on Monday by not attending a gathering of 97 countries at the Vienna headquarters of the atomic energy agency, which was called to discuss nuclear issues related to the Middle East. Tehran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful, civilian purposes.”

Apparently the Times is unaware of Gareth Porter’s recent article which pointed out that “A former inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repudiated its major new claim that Iran built an explosives chamber to test components of a nuclear weapon and carry out a simulated nuclear explosion.”

That the bogus report is being used by the West to punish Iran for other political motives does not even register at the times. Instead, the piece aids the efforts of the West by ignoring the well-known criticisms of the report and being an echo chamber of Western powers who are posturing for a confrontation that has more to do with imperial ambitions than a noble stand against nuclear proliferation.

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Media Silence on Guantánamo Bay

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.
— George Orwell, Original Preface to Animal Farm 

A recent New York Times editorial writes about “Reneging on Justice at Guantánamo,” and takes a welcome position on how “the Supreme Court ruled that Guantánamo Bay prisoners who are not American citizens have the right of habeas corpus,” but has nothing whatsoever to say about how the more than a century-long presence of the U.S. in Guantánamo has never been about “justice.” Considering America’s more than two-hundred year policy of imperialism and colonialism, and considering the chicanery committed to get into Cuba and why the U.S. government chose Guantánamo as a place to send “prisoners,” and the role the mass media has played in keeping the general public in the dark it takes considerable chutzpah to talk about the “reneging of justice.” It might be unfair to expect the editorial to touch on this. However, it is an amazing fact that—since the War on Afghanistan started ten years ago and the U.S. began sending people to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba to be imprisoned and tortured in a legal black hole—not once has the New York Times, or Wall Street Journal ever referenced the Platt Amendment or the Spanish-American War in their thousands of articles on the notorious U.S. military base. The Washington Post has barely fared better with a mere two articles. One was in January of 2002 when we were told that about how the U.S. was to “build facilities to hold as many as 2,000 detainees from the war in Afghanistan,” and that the U.S. “seized Guantanamo Bay in 1898 during the Spanish- American War.” However, as we will see, it inaccurately said “After Spain’s defeat, Cuba gave control of the base to the United States.” The other article was from May of 2009 where we are told how “After the United States intervened in the Spanish-American War in 1898, Washington forced Cuba to accept the creation of a naval coaling station at Guantanamo Bay in 1903 as a condition of independence.” That “condition” was the Platt Amendement. Other than that, the silence on how the U.S. obtained a military base in Cuba—a country that has not been an ally of the U.S. for more than fifty years, and who has been the victim of numerous assaults—is interesting to say the least. When the Justice Department told the Bush administration in late 2001 that Guantánamo Bay would be an ideal location to setup a torture camp, because it fell outside federal jurisdiction, the story of why that is so was of very little interest to the Free Press.

Back in the early 1800s when President James Monroe established the “Monroe Doctrine,” which stated that the Western hemisphere was the “natural” area of the “nascent empire” (George Washington), his Secretary of State, and future President, John Quincy Adams explained the doctrine in relations to Cuba:

There are laws of political as well as of physical gravitation; and if an apple severed by the tempest from its native tree cannot choose but fall to the ground, Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain, and incapable of self support, can gravitate only towards the North American Union, which by the same law of nature cannot cast her off from its bosom.

The “natural connection” that the U.S. was to have for the entire Western hemisphere was eventually to be called Manifest Destiny. This doctrine was to inspire others in historically significant ways. Much as the Monroe Doctrine was used by the U.S. to lay siege to the Western hemisphere and conquer it via some of the most horrific acts of human history, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan would take a similar path. During the 1930’s the U.S government had nothing but praise for Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito. We praised their fascism. In Italy we said “the wops are unwopping themselves.” Hitler was to be Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 1938. As Noam Chomsky notes in Hegemony or Survival, “and – rather like Saddam Hussein half a century later – retained substantial Anglo-American support until Hitler launched direct aggression that infringed too seriously on U.S. and UK interests.” When Hitler was attacking the East, mostly “Communists,” the West “appeased” him but when he attacked the West’s interests he went too far and the British Empire fought back. President Franklin Roosevelt wanted in on this war and on October 7, 1940 Lt. Gen. Arthur McCollum wrote a five page memorandum on the need for the U.S. to enter World War Two to protect the British (which also protects our interests). He also called for the U.S. to provoke Japan into “an overt act of war” by keeping a strong military presence in the Pacific, notably the Hawaiian Islands.

What is important to understand here is that Japan was “expanding” during that time. They were at war with China and had publicly announced that they were seeking the “Whole East”—their Manifest Destiny. This is something which caused FDR to respond in a racist and imperialist manner, “God, that’s the first time that any damn Jap has told us to get out of Hawaii.”

But even before President Monroe, President Thomas Jefferson told close companions that he wanted to annex Cuba. In a latter to James Madison, his successor, he told him that he believed Napoleon Bonaparte “will consent to our receiving Cuba into our union.” Decades later, during the late 19th century, the U.S. intervened in Cuba to “liberate” the island and “forcibly disjoined [it] from its own unnatural connection with Spain.” A memo written only months before the Spanish-American War shows no concern with Spain’s treatment of Cuba, or the desire to “liberate.” On December 24, 1897 the Undersecretary of War (the U.S. had not yet taken the Orwellian route and renamed the cabinet “defense”) J.C. Breckenridge sent a memo to Lieutenant General Nelson Miles, the Commander of the U.S. Army, in regards to U.S. interests towards Cuba. He wrote:

The inhabitants [of Cuba] are generally indolent and apathetic. As for their learning, they range from the most refined to the most vulgar and abject. Its people are indifferent to religion, and the majority are therefore immoral and simultaneously they have strong passions and are very sensual. Since they only possess a vague notion of what is right and wrong, the people need to seek pleasure not through work, but through violence. As a logical consequence of this lack of morality, there is a great disregard for life.

It is obvious that the immediate annexation of these disturbing elements into our own federation in such large numbers would be sheer madness, so before we do that we must clean up the country, even if this means using the methods Divine Providence used on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

We must destroy everything within our cannons’ range of fire. We must impose a harsh blockade so that hunger and its constant companion, disease, undermine the peaceful population and decimate the Cuban army.

Breckenridge goes on to write that, “To sum up, our policy must always be to support the weaker against the stronger, until we have obtained the extermination of them both, in order to annex the Pearl of the Antilles.” Notice that U.S. immorality and “great disregard for life” by means of hunger and disease so as to “decimate” and “exterminate” the “Pearl of the Antilles” before being forcibly taken over doesn’t even register for Breckenridge. To him these actions are to be comparable to what “Divine Providence” did in “the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.” The U.S. will be “clean[ing] up the country,” that consists of people who “seek pleasure not through work, but through violence”—though he quickly admits that they are a “peaceful population.”

Cubans had long been fighting the Spanish for independence, and shortly before the U.S. entered the war, the leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, José Martí, said, “Once the United States is in Cuba, who will get it out?” This was to be a prophetic comment. Though the U.S. had given up on annexing the island, before the U.S. would leave, Cuba had to accept certain agreements which in effect made it a colony. In 1903 the agreement was named after U.S. Senator Platt and stated that, “The President of the U.S. is hereby authorized to ‘leave the government and control of the island of Cuba to its people’” but not until Cuba makes a legal promise to “never enter into any treaty or other compact with any foreign power or powers which will impair or tend to impair the independence of Cuba.” Much like the irony of the Breckenridge memo, it passes without comment that the Platt Amendment itself does seriously “impair the independence of Cuba.”

The “agreement” manages even more hypocrisy by saying that “the government of Cuba consents that the United States may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty.” Again, the U.S. will only leave the country it has “liberated” if the newly independent nation hands over the “right” to not only judge what is a threat to “Cuban independence” but what is “adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty” to the U.S.

The Platt Amendment manages to go even further and force Cuba to agree ex post facto that “all acts of the United States in Cuba during its military occupancy” were valid. The fact that Cuba was coerced into legitimizing U.S. actions ought to give a clue to whether they were benign or nefarious.

Finally, it is Article VII where Cuba is compelled to “sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points, to be agreed upon with the President of the United States,” and thus the U.S. got a military presence in Cuba that lasts to this very day, even though the Cuban Revolution of 1959, that overthrew the U.S.-backed Batiste dictatorship, terminated the U.S. relationship and the Colossus to the North hasn’t made a payment on the naval stations since then.

In fact, Cuba has been the victim of thousands of provocations from U.S. military personnel at Guantánamo Bay, as well as failed invasion attempts, massive terrorist operations (killing hundreds of civilians and causing billions of dollars worth of damage to property), and numerous assassination plots.

So take the Cuban Missile Crisis for example. It’s worth pointing out there is no “Turkey Missile Crisis.” The crisis doesn’t begin with what led up to missiles being placed on the island (or why), but when the U.S. is deterred. That’s the real crisis, and an instructive lesson for all to learn. There is also no celebrating, or idolizing, of Kruschev or Castro as saviors—though they deserve it much more than Kennedy. But history doesn’t tell the story that way. The story it tells us is that the U.S. was the “good guy” staring down the “bad guys” who threatened us with nuclear missiles.

The reality was Kruschev was motivated simply to get the nukes out of Turkey, which were aimed at Moscow. He sent a letter to Kennedy saying as much: remove the nukes from Turkey and they would remove the nukes from Cuba. And considering all that Cuba had endured up to that point (a failed invasion, terrorist operations and another invasion in the works) it was reasonable for them to offer their island as a base to deter the U.S.

To make matters worse, during the “crisis,” and without any aggressive provocation, U.S.S.R. Submarine B-59 came under attack by the U.S.—in international waters. The result was communication was knocked out and the sub commander thought that nuclear war must have begun so he ordered the firing of their nuke. Luckily the order was not followed and humanity was saved from a nuclear holocaust brought on by the Kennedy administration. “If that torpedo had been fired, nuclear war could have started right there,” said former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara at the 40th anniversary conference in Havana. We learn from a Russian document presented at the conference that

The accumulators of B-59 were discharged to the state of water, only emergency light was functioning. The temperature in the compartments was 45-50 C, up to 60 C in the engine compartment. It was unbearably stuffy. The level of CO2 in the air reached a critical practically deadly for people mark. One the duty officers fainted and fell down. The another one followed, then the third one… They were falling like dominoes. But we were still holding on, trying to escape. We were suffering like this for about four hours. The Americans hit us with something stronger than the grenades [depth charges] – apparently with a practical depth bomb. We thought – that’s it – the end. After this attack, the totally exhausted Savitsky, who in addition to everything, was not able to establish connection with the General Staff, became furious. He summoned the officer assigned to the nuclear torpedo, and ordered him to assemble it to battle readiness. ‘Maybe the war has already started up there, while we are doing summersaults here’ – screamed emotional Valentin Grigorievich, trying to justify his order. ‘We’re going to blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all – we will not disgrace our Navy!’ But we did not fire the nuclear torpedo – Savitsky was able to rein in his wrath. After consulting with Second Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkipov [deceased] and Deputy political officer Ivan Semenovich Maslennikov, he made the decision to come to the surface. We gave an echo locator signal, which an international navigation rules means that ‘the submarine is coming to the surface.’ Our pursurers slowed down.

American actions provoked a nuclear war. We owe it to a communist Russian for saving our lives. The systemic tumor that underlies American policies, as still showing in our actions at home and around the world, apparently have not learned from McNamara’s “lesson.”

Notice the Russians didn’t respond to the nukes in Turkey with a political spectacle threatening nuclear war, or a naval blockade, or attacking U.S. subs in international waters. Yet when U.S. leaders do this, and more, to others for the crime of deterring us we admire and celebrate them.

At the 40th anniversary conference in Havana, McNamara also said, “One of the lessons of this conflict is, for God sakes, think about how your enemy reacts to your actions. We didn’t plan to invade Cuba, but (Castro) thought we did.”

That last comment is simply not true. There was already the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion the year before where the US used, trained and armed a small group of exiles to overthrow Castro. Castro’s strong public support quickly squashed this illegal terrorist act. Then there was Operation Mongoose, another terrorist operation which continued all the way through the “Cuban Missile Crisis”. On October 4, 1962 there was already planning for “six new…sabotage operations.” And then there was Operation Swift Strike II, as noted by Richard Reeves in President Kennedy: Profile of Power:

In the Caribbean, and along the southern Atlantic coast, the United States was openly escalating military planning and actions obviously targeting Cuba, including amphibious invasion exercises around Puerto Rico through the summer and early fall [1962]. The last exercise involving 7,500 Marines was aimed at the overthrow of a dictator names ‘Ortsac’ – Castro spelled backwards. The Air Force transferred combat aircraft to Key West and other southern Florida bases from other parts of the country and, on September 18, the Air Force had begun training exercises simulating attacks on Cuba. More than 70,000 men participated in the largest exercise – ‘Operation Swift Strike II’ – and both Castro and Khrushchev stepped up charges that a U.S. invasion was in the works.

It is no coincidence that even after 9/11 the U.S. Treasury Department allocated more resources to enforcing the embargo on Cuba than to freezing the assets of terrorists. American policymakers have long considered Cuba as a threat in that its successful defiance of centuries of colonialism and imperialism may spread to other countries. In 1964 the CIA informed the White House that “Cuba’s experiment with almost total state socialism is being watched closely by other nations in the hemisphere and any appearance of success there could have an extensive impact on the statist trend elsewhere in the area.” So while the American mass media talks about Guantánamo Bay in the context of the legal process by which we carry out military tribunals, or torturing people—though giving considerable space to arguing that it is necessary for the safety and security of our nation—there is considerable silence on how the U.S. came to be there in the first place.

Here’s another item that has been consigned to the memory hole: this RAND publication, U.S. Nuclear Strategy for the Post-Cold War Era, published in 1994 informs us of why the U.S. is to maintain its nuclear weapons after the fall of the U.S.S.R.:

The dependence of the West and Japan on Persian Gulf oil and the power and wealth that comes from controlling that oil guarantee the U.S. interest in that part of the world for as far into the future as anyone can see.

This blatant admission explains a lot in regards to modern American history and especially what is going on in Guantánamo Bay right now. For the past 60 years the U.S. government has used its monopoly of nuclear weapons and military dominance to control the world. In regards to Cuba it is the height of hypocrisy to hold them under such a brutal embargo (much like the trend over the last twenty years, the U.N. General Assembly just voted again to end the embargo, 186 to 2—the U.S. and Israel voting against) when it was our previous actions that brought on the threat. Russia would have had no reason to supply Cuba with such weapons, and Cuba would have no need for them if A) we were not a threat to Russia (i.e. Operation ROLLBACK, NATO, the positioning of nuclear weapons in Turkey and elsewhere aimed at Russia, etc) and B) if we were not a threat to Cuba (i.e. our meddling from the beginning, carried on with the Platt Amendment, the Batista dictatorship, Bay of Pigs, Operation Mongoose, etc). It is also hypocritical of the New York Times to ignore all of this when having the audacity to write on the “reneging of justice.”

What would be behind such silence? Walter Lippmann, a famous political commentator who advocated corporate and government thought control, put it this way in his book Public Opinion, published in 1922:

That the manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. The process by which public opinion arises is certainly no less intricate than it has appeared in these pages, and the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough. The creation of consent is not a new art. It is a very old one which was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy. But it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technic, because it is now based on analysis rather than on rule of thumb. And so, as a result of psychological research, coupled with the modern means of communication, the practice of democracy has turned a corner. A revolution is taking place, infinitely more significant than any shifting of economic power.

Within the life of the generation now in control of affairs, persuasion has become a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government . . .

That one of America’s most important figures in journalism notes that all we have is “the appearance of democracy” is an important comment that has largely been confined to the dustbin of history. Just as how the appearance is presented and facilitated by “modern means of communication” so that it can be sustained and used to hold off the general public who might want more than an optical illusion. But the admission that by the early 1920s “persuasion has become a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government” is a fact to be considered when reviewing the historical record up to the current.

There is something positive to say about the attitudes and opinions of the general public when deceit has to be “a regular organ of popular government.” That government is desperately trying to block authentic democracy is a grave concern, but that is barely succeeding should energize activists.

Alex Carey, an Australian writer on corporate propaganda wrote in his infamous book Taking the Risk out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty that

The key political problems confronting the United States have neither changed nor ameliorated since Professor Robert Dahl defined them in 1959. ‘How much,’ he asked, ‘of the generally, favorable attitudes of American towards business [and the consequent] absence of any well-defined alternative can be attributed toward deliberate efforts to manipulate attitudes?’

If government of the people by the people for the people has any meaningful sense and if the American Dream is not to end in a business-appointed, more adroitly managed version of Orwell’s 1984, then it is of cardinal importance that the problems described by Dahl are brought to light. That light would subvert those pragmatic processes for manufacturing consent and would lead to the development of a more critical cultural consciousness.

Despite the power and influence corporations have on usin terms of shaping our habits and “attitudes,” and the “absence of any well-defined alternative”we can still find some surprising information in opinion polls.

So while the mainstream media are cheerleaders for our government’s foreign policies and imperial wars we learn from a CBS News Poll conducted between November 6-10 that 50% think “removing Saddam Hussein from power” was not worth it and only 41% thought it was worth it. This is in the absence of any articulate knowledge of international law, the depravity of American imperialism, and the horrors America has visited upon Iraq.

The same poll shows that only 15% think America should take “military action now” against Iran while 17% don’t even think the country is a “threat,” and a whopping 55% say we should seek “diplomacy.” I have recently written on how the New York Times treats Iran, so this poll is significant.

In regards to Afghanistan and according to the same poll, 53% think we “should not be involved,” while only 36% think the U.S. “is doing the right thing.” Much like Iraq and Iran, the American people are not that knowledgeable of international law, how the Taliban offered to turnover bin Laden on numerous instances, and how when we attacked the country ten years ago we not only had no lawful mandate but we didn’t even know who was behind the attacks (i.e. 9/11) that are perceived to be the reason we are there.

For Libya the results from the same poll were 49% think we “should not have gotten involved” while 37% said we “did the right thing.” Do not expect Americans to understand the quality of social and economic conditions in the country, or the politics of the “rebels” we backed.

And a very surprising find was in regards to Israel and Palestine, where 31% “think the United States gives too much support to Israel,” with only 17% saying “too little,” and 42% “favor the establishment of a Palestinian state that is recognized by the United Nations” to 34% who “oppose.”

Even on economic matters we find similar results. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll (conducted November 2-5) we find that 56% favor “a graduated income tax system, in which people with higher incomes pay a higher tax rate” (i.e. progressive taxation) versus 40% who favor a “flat tax.”

This same poll said “I’m going to read you two short descriptions of what some people are thinking these days when it comes to government and the economy. Please tell me if you strongly agree, mildly agree, feel neutral about, mildly disagree, or strongly disagree with each set of ideas.” Here is the statement:

The current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country. America needs to reduce the power of major banks and corporations and demand greater accountability and transparency. The government should not provide financial aid to corporations and should not provide tax breaks to the rich.

Results: 60% “strongly agree.”

A CBS News/New York Times Poll conducted between October 19-24 found this to be our national priorities:

Economy and jobs: 57%
Budget deficit/National debt: 5%
Politicians/Government: 3%
Partisan politics: 3%
Immigration: 2%
Education: 2%
Health care: 2%
Big gov’t/Bureaucracy: 2%
Other: 20%
Unsure: 4%

A United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International and carried out on Nov. 3-6 found 68% said “New federal spending to try to create jobs by rehabilitating public schools, improving roads and mass transit, and preventing layoffs of teachers, police officers, and other first responders” was “very important.”

They also found that 56% said “New legislation to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages at lower rates” is “very important.”

This is all very astounding. Despite a massive and entrenched corporate and state propaganda system designed to “manufacture consent” of the government policies and corporate actions, the American people maintain a considerable sense of reason and decency and are way to the left of political and economic leaders (including the Democratic Party). One can only speculate what the results would be in the face “of any well-defined alternative.”

Returning to Guantánamo, as improving as it may be for the U.S. military tribunals to recognize “the right of habeas corpus” (which they’re not doing), it would be far from judicial. The very presence of the U.S. military is an injustice that has gone on too long. That there is no media outlet saying the base is the “reneging of justice” is just one more rock on a mountain of examples illustrating the role of the mass media as a propaganda tool for private and state power. And with a general public barely under its spell, the only thing standing in the way of justice, and this is true for issues beyond Guantánamo, is an organized social force with a “well-defined alternative.”

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Coups d’etat in Western Europe go unnoticed by Free Press

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment
Former Italian Prime Minister Berlosconi and former Greek President Papandreou

Recently the President of Greece and Prime Minister of Italy were forced out of office and replaced with unelected technocrats with close ties to international banks. According to Barron’s, a weekly financial newspaper, “the regime changes forced in Greece and Italy [were] by the bond vigilantes.” The weekly goes on to quote Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman as saying

What is most striking about Italy that appears to have gone largely unnoticed or uncommented on is that . . . what ultimately toppled Berlusconi was not voter moral outrage or even an alternative plan by the opposition, but rather the international capital markets and the loss of credibility among European leaders.

The article ends with another disturbing remark on the coups. Quoting Bill Blain, the senior director of the special situations group of Newedge UK Financial: “‘To save the euro we had to destroy Europe’ would not be a political epitaph to treasure.” Translation: the reign of banks requires the end of democracy.

I am not about to shed a tear for Berlusconi or Papandreou, but that banks have this kind of power to overthrow democratically-elected governments and replace them with unelected “leaders” is frightening.

More frightening is the silence of the Free Press, especially in the U.S. where there is an Occupy movement spreading like wildfire and whose sights are aimed at the power and corruption of Wall Street.

The New York Times didn’t dare call the two events by their proper name: a coup.

Neither did the Wall Street Journal.

The Washington Post, however, did manage to refer to both events as a coup one time.

In “Lucas Papademos: The President Bartlet of Greece?” we read about “the newly appointed prime minister of Greece,” and are told that, “After a reported five-hour debate, the government agreed to Papademos’s nomination. It was not a coup worthy of a Greek drama . . .” Really? A democratically-elected government in Western Europe has been overthrown by financial cartels and replaced with an un-elected technocrat who was “vice president of the European Central Bank from 2002 to 2010” gets a yawn from the Free Press and dismisses it as not “worthy.”

To make matters worse, we are told that the “economist and Harvard professor” who has been “tapped to right the listing financial ship” has also “asked that the elections [scheduled for February 19, 2012] be held later so as to have more time to negotiate a way out of the Greek debt crisis.” Apparently he doesn’t think “negotiat[ing’ a way out of the Greek debt crisis” can be done via a democratically-elected government.

Turning to Italy, the most we get in the article “Out of office, Berlusconi faces legal and financial challenges” is how Berlusconi was “was felled by massive international and market pressure” because he was “seen as an impediment to economic reform, [so] his exit came quickly as Italy was swept up by Europe’s debt crisis.” We are also given the headline of Il Giornale, a “family newspaper”: “Stop a Europe of technocrats: This government is a coup.” The most the Washington Post provides on Mario Monti, the new Prime Minister, is that he is an economist.

The rest of the article deals mostly with how Berlusconi will handle various scandals and what he will do out of office. It is assumed that “the billionaire [will go] back where he started: running his considerable [media] empire.”

That’s it. Nothing in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, and rather indifferent treatment from the Washington Post, though it at least uses the phrase “coup” in regards to what happened in the two countries.

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U.S. Empire to have ‘sustained American military presence in Australia’ to counter ‘rising China’

November 16, 2011 1 comment
Barak Obama with the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, after the US president arrived in Canberra.
Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

The imperial “paper of record” strikes again.

In todays New York Times (NYT) article by Jackie Calmes “Eyeing China, U.S. Expands Military Ties to Australia,” we learn how “President Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia announced plans on Wednesday for the first sustained American military presence in Australia, a relatively small deployment that is still a major symbol of American intentions to use regional alliances to counterbalance a rising China.”

President Obama told a news conference that “I am making it clear that the United States is stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific region,” in order “to maintain the security architecture in the region.” Obama made it “clear” that “we are here to stay.”

One might inquire on what is it exactly about “rising China” that is being “counterbalanced” with an increased American military presence in the Pacific. No worries, we are told that “the arrangement with Australia will put an American footprint closer to the southern reaches of the South China Sea. The sea, a major commercial route — including for American exports — has been roiled by China’s aggressive claims of control.” Of course, no examples provided. It is clear however, that the U.S. is not putting a military presence in the region to be an impartial or fair mediator, but to protect its own interests, and that of its allies who are competing against China for ownership of resource-rich islands (including oil). Nor is the Times proving to be an impartial or fair source of information.

Whatever one thinks about the competing claims it’s pure hypocrisy for the U.S. and its media parrots to accuse China of “aggressive claims of control” of the “South China Sea,” especially when considering that the nearly two-hundred year old Monroe Doctrine is still in effect. It has barely been five years since USA Today reported that the “U.S. will train Latin American militaries” because of “Concern about leftist victories in Latin America has prompted President Bush to quietly grant a waiver that allows the United States to resume training militaries from 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries.” The waiver was necessary because of a “military training ban” that former President Bush signed in 2002 and that “was originally designed to pressure countries into exempting U.S. soldiers from war crimes trials.” Perhaps the “leftist victories in Latin America,” and refusal to accept the U.S.’s demand for immunity are in response to the decades of genocidal policies in Latin America, where the U.S. backed brutal military dictatorships and their death squads that destroyed the place. But now, USA Today tells us, “China stepped into the gap,” and so the U.S. must forget its demand for immunity and return because, as U.S. Southern Command spokesman Jose Ruiz said, China “has approached every country in our area of responsibility.”

While the U.S. finds it objectionable that China lays claim to the South China Sea, there is no question that the Western hemisphere is “our area of responsibility.”

Back to the recent New York Times article. True, “For China, the week’s developments could suggest both an economic and military encirclement,” but President Obama will not back down. “The notion that we fear China is mistaken,” the president said.

This follows an article last month by the Times where U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was in Italy and assuring allies that while

We’re concerned about China . . . The most important thing we can do is to project our force into the Pacific — to have our carriers there, to have our fleet there, to be able to make very clear to China that we are going to protect international rights to be able to move across the oceans freely.

—the latter comment being an imperial euphemism for unfettered access to the resources of other countries. While protesters at various Occupy events are seeing their “rights” violated (with the aid of President Obama) because U.S. mayors, like New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg, see them as secondary to imaginary “health and safety” concerns, it is the imperial rights—the so-called “international rights”—that that the U.S. is “protecting” via an expanded military presence in the Pacific.

An honest observer might entertain the notion of what the U.S. would do if China carried out similar actions with similar rhetoric. What if the U.S. were involved with territorial disputes with a neighboring country (who also happened to be a Chinese ally) and China responded by increasing its military presence and saying, “The notion that we fear America is mistaken”? So long as it is “us,” and not “them,” don’t look to the dishonest New York Times to have the journalistic integrity necessary to speak out against the imperial hubris of Uncle Sam.

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