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Category Archives: US Politics

Though quite different from each other,  The Byrds / Lou Reed / Otis Spann / Human League and indeed the entire civilsed world view the JFK Assassination in much the same way:

A tragedy. A loss. An immense and incomprehensible crime. An act of evil.

But GW Bush thinks its funny. Why ?

Smirk

Bush’s sickly appeasing grin as he states that JFK was assassinated by ‘a [single] deluded gunman’ is highly reminicent of Bill Clinton’s infamous smirk as he shamefacedly lied about his relationship with a female intern.

Both that grin and that smirk betray guilt and deceit.

GW Bush is as surely / involved / with the JFK assassination as Clinton was with the intern, that abuse of power subsequently leading to his impeachment.

Got 14 minutes 1 second to think about it ?

Or here, in one hour, learn the whole story.

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As long as I think the work is fun, I won’t slack off.*

  • Authentic student’s comment on feedback form submitted on first day of my Year 7 History class

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Since my student has so adeptly encapsulated The Art Of The Deal, I thought I would segue into First Dog On The Moon’s beautifully deranged take on Donald Trump’s State Of The Uniom Address.

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And Somewhat of the same genre:

Mrs. Chicken

Swishy

This Is A Complaint About Bed Time

Five Things To Know About Me

I Feel Like Having You As A Pet

I like to know a story about you – your feeling your mouth your heart your way of looking at it

Why Did The USA Sign The Nuclear Deal With Iran ?

The USA has allowed an Iranian nuclear program to continue and will allow $100bn in embargoed oil revenues to return once compliance is established (approx. 1 year).

So what does the USA get ?

Normally I would follow the money, but US corporations and trade do not benefit under this deal. Most, if not all, trade and commercial relations with Iran by US interests and subsidiaries are still prohibited.

But the deal is still about preserving US/Israeli regional hegemony. Iran, however, held the upper hand and so got the lions share of the short-term benefit.

In short, Iran has successfully developed a semi-clandestine nuclear program to the point where it could start producing a nuclear weapons within three months if it rushed to production.

The deal stipulates the decommissioning of 2/3rds of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, the export (and therefore loss to Iran) of 98% of Iran’s enriched uranium and places a cap on the level to which Iran may enrich Uranium in the future.

In other words, the deal is designed to prevent Iran producing nuclear weapons in the short and medium term.

The deal has a sunset of 15 years. After that time all nuclear sanctions and limitations are lifted.

The USA is just trying to buy some time.

In the meantime the deal preserves Israel as the only nuclear state in the Middle East, thus preserving US/Israeli hegemony.

Just on ‘buying time’, the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program only increase the difficulty in making a nuclear weapon by a small quantum.

Under pre-deal conditions Iran could rush to weaponisation in three months. Under post-deal conditions it will still take only one year. The US hasn’t bought much time for its $100bn – but OTOH it may be sufficient time.

Also, US satellite coverage of Iran is complete. If Iran attempted to even move a nuclear warhead to a missile base, that action would be detected instantly and the entire country destroyed within 60 seconds.

Some say that the $100bn in returned oil revenue and lifting of economic embargo buys the US military support for Iran against ISIS.

My view is that the USA actually supports ISIS in Syria as it wants to evict the Russia and their proxy Assad (whereas Iran is opposed to ISIS in Syria)

But the USA is truly opposed to ISIS in Iraq, as is Iran.

I think the USA is actually playing dead in Syria with limited bombing campaigns as a public relations exercise. It is hoping that ISIS/Turkey can evict Russia/Assad/Iran from Syria. The determination of Russia to hold Syria has been a game-changer and put ISIS on the back foot.

On a personal note it is interesting to note that the alliances in Syria are aligning extremely well with the scenario described in the Gog and Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38 as a precursor to Biblical End Times.

So the USA will oppose Iran in Syria, but support it in Iraq, where their interests are aligned.

I think it likely that the Nuclear Deal has been brokered partly on this shared geo-political basis.

So, if the USA-Iran Nuclear deal supports US/Israeli hegemony, why do The Republican Party and Israel oppose it ?

My guess is that probably The Republicans simply reject diplomacy a priori as a political strategy, They wish to entrench Military Bombardment as the single and only US posture in International Relations, seeing this as a more secure long-term guarantor of hegemony.

Possibly Israel has a similar view of itself vis-a-vis Middle Eastern relations.

To put it in a nutshell, Iran had the USA by the throat in regard to the strength of its negotiation position. Iran was on the very threshold of producing nuclear weapons: literally a matter of weeks. The USA had no choice but to offer Iran gigantic bribes to unplug its nuclear weapons program.

I suspect though that the deal will not prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons. Look, they basically managed to do it already under full embargo. I don’t think they will abandon the regional power that comes from being a nuclear power.

I would say that Obama is already dudded.

Further Reading

Here’s a good analysis of the relative risks of options open to the USA in relation to Iran’s Nuclear program: Do Nothing, Bomb, Return To Sanctions or Diplomatic Compromise (as recently concluded by Obama in this deal).

Here’s an article in The Guardian, War With Iran Is Back On The Table, which recaps smy argument above with some additional information and includes a reference to a book devoted to the subject of the US-Iran Nuclear deal

Conservative Christian friends of mine alerted me to a statement by Barack Obama that he would supposedly stand with Muslims if the political tide turned ugly. This statement alarmed my friends who felt that it displayed a partisan bias toward Muslims by Obama. As they put it why not stand with everyone else too ?

I asked if they would forward me the statement, which they duly did from the Conservative Crusader website. Here’s what CC has to say:

Note what B. Hussein Obama says in his own words. In “Audacity of Hope” he writes: “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” The quote comes from page 261 of the paperback edition of “The Audacity of Hope.”

Unfortunately for Conservative Crusader, the statement attributed to Obama is not accurate. It is a misquote made with the intention of slurring Obama as a secret Muslim.

This particular piece of error has been dealt with by the website Truth Or Fiction.

The statement said to be Obama’s own words is actually a paraphrase of a quote from Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope. It is from a section that talks about the concerns of immigrants who are American citizens.

In context, Obama is saying that he would defend American Muslims against racist persecution such as that experienced by American Japanese during WW2. And he is saying that he would do the same for any immigrant community.

Here is the accurate and more complete quote:

Of course, not all my conversations in immigrant communities follow this easy pattern. In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.

By the same standard of proof proffered by Conservative Crusader it can be (erroneously) shown that George W. Bush is also a secret Muslim.

I found GW Bush’s comments on Islam delivered (GASP!) from within a Mosque on Sept. 17, 2001 just days after the 9/11 attacks.

In it Bush says much the same thing as Obama:
That Muslims are entitled to be free from racist persecution and that he would defend Muslims from such ugliness. The article summarizes Bush’s sentiments like so “Bush: U.S. Muslims should feel safe”.

Bush said:

“I’ve been told that some [Muslims] fear to leave [their homes]; some don’t want to go shopping for their families; some don’t want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they’re afraid they’ll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.”

Bush, revealing his Islamic sympathies, also said that Muslims are the friends of America, that Muslims are our brothers and sisters, that Islam is a religion of peace, and that the 9/11 attacks are not Islamic. He also quoted from the Koran and supported the Islamic view that the Koran can only be properly understood in Arabic.

Well, look, its obvious nonsense isn’t it ? Turning the target on its head makes that plain.

The political strategy employed by Obama’s enemies to discredit him was to say that he was a terrorist.

They used three main ways to do this:

  • Tie him to the radical leftist group The Weathermen, and say he was a radical Communist
  • Highlight inflammatory remarks made by his Christian Pastor of twenty years, Jeremiah Wright (who married the Obamas) and say he was a Radical Black Panther-type Christian
  • Highlight his Kenyan ancestry and childhood and his name Hussein to imply he was a radical Muslim

So, Obama, landing a seriously arcane quadrella is simultaneously a Communist, a Christian, a Black Panther and a Muslim.

In fact all of the accusations dwell as congenially as oil and water in the credulous article from Conservative Crusader, linked above

Plainly, Obama is no more a Muslim than George Bush.

Newt Gingrich confirmed the tendency of the United States toward Palengentic Corporatist Ultranationalistic Populism by bluntly stating that he would arrest US Judges that gave rulings sympathetic to a secularist ideal or which encroached upon the discretionary powers of the US President acting as Commander-In-Chief.

Newt said he would take action against

“steady encroachment of secularism through the courts to redefine America as a non-religious country.”

and, of course, that he was defending “traditional American values.”

Says the blog Digital Journal

Michael Mukasey [an Attorney-General under GW Bush] said to Fox News that Gingrich’s proposals were “dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off-the-wall, and would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle”.

Now, Newt is not stating that he would immediately imprison Judges with whom he disagrees. He just wants to haul them before a Commission Of Inquiry to explain their treachery thinking i.e. he just wants to intimidate the judges, not imprison them…yet.

Crocodile Tears For Checks And Balances

Newt’s assertive proposal for the defence of the US government against unconstitutional judical activism is spelt out in his election year manifesto “Bringing the Courts Back Under the Constitution”

This document presents as the call of a concerned citizen for the US Constitution to be interpereted according to the precepts of ‘Originalism’ and for proper constitutional observation of the limits of power of each of the governmental branches of the US (Congress, President, Judiciary).

However, Gingrich’s call for the proper seperation of powers is a mere smokescreen for his desire to see an effectively unlimited presidency as insofar as this concerns Presidential discretionary powers when acting as Commander-In-Chief.

Gingrich concentrates his attention and warnings on what he sees as the creeping aggregation of perogative by the Courts and for them to be put under proper restraint through Congress and the President using their Constitutional rights to question, discipline and/or dismiss activist Judges and Courts.

Gingrich does not, however, caution against the President over-reaching his Constitutional privileges or sound any warning that the Presidency is undermining the proper seperation of powers via the over use of Presidential Executive Orders. In fact, Gingrich is seeking to strengthen the Predidents ability to act unilaterally by recommending that Courts and Judges be disciplined or struck down for ruling on limitations to Presidential power.

Gingrich, while not a Tea Partyer himself, is opportunistically attempting to leverage the powerful ‘Constitutionalist’ sentiment (see also here) generated by the Tea Party movement in order to expand the unilateral perogatives of the Presidency.

Gingrich’s immediate aim is to entrench in the Presidency the unilateral right to declare war whenever the President so decides. This is why he especially wishes to cordon off the President’s role of Commander-In-Chief from question or review by the Courts, whom he properly recognises as the most likely source of constraint on the President.

In this, Gingrich appears to share common ground with and exceed John McCain who, during the last US Federal Election, when asked what US Policy should be toward Iran simply sang ‘Bomb, Bomb, Bomb / Bomb Bomb Iran’ to the tune of the famous 60’s pop tune ‘Barbara Ann’.

Face Value

Gingrich’s document “Bringing the Courts Back Under the Constitution” presents well as a case for Originalism and provides good examples of judicial activism which would warrant Congressional inquiry.

The most topical is the astounding (though legally consistent) assertion by Judge Biery, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas someone that he would order the arrest of any school official who permitted a person to lead a group of persons of mixed or non-belief in prayer during a high school graduation speech or merely say the words “amen” or “prayer” during the ceremony.

From Judge Biery’s injunction

These students, and all other persons scheduled to speak during the graduation ceremony, shall be instructed not to present a prayer, to wit, they shall be instructed that they may not ask audience
members to “stand,” “join in prayer,” or “bow their heads,” they may not end their remarks with “amen” or “in [a deity’s name] we pray,” and they shall not otherwise deliver a message that would commonly be understood to be a prayer, nor use the word “prayer” unless it is used in the student’s expression of the student’s personal belief, as opposed to encouraging others who may not believe in the concept of prayer to join in and believe the same concept.

this injunctive order shall be effective immediately and shall be enforced by incarceration or other sanctions for contempt of Court if not obeyed by District official and their agents.

Gingrich adduces his document with many supporting statements from the US Founding Fathers (e.g Madison, Hamilton), supplies fair examples of where he feels that the US Supreme Court has exceeded the Constitution and makes a reasoned argument against judicial activism as he sees it. I found it an enjoyable and stimulating read.

But Gingrich is deceiving the electorate. He is not at all concerned with Constitutional balance between the arms of government, merely with aggrandaising the office of President by giving it irrevocable powers when acting as Commander-In-Chief.

Furthermore, Gingrich uses the rulings of Judge Biery above to generate outrage to distract attention from his agenda to aggrandaise the Presidency. In short, his entire conduct in this matter is as a calculated power grab under the dishonest pretence to be a defender of Constitutional balance.

While expressing outrage at judicial activism and subversion of the Constitution, Gingrich ignores Presidential activism and subversion of the kind openly acknowledged by aides to President Clinton

Stroke of the pen. Law of the Land. Kinda cool.”
Paul Begala, former Clinton advisor, The New York Times, July 5, 1998

“We’ve switched the rules of the game. We’re not trying to do anything legislatively.”
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, The Washington Times, June 14, 1999

Presidential Activism

As the website ThisNation.com describes in its article, ‘What Is An Executive Order’ ‘Executive Orders do not require Congressional approval to take effect but they have the same legal weight as laws passed by Congress’ and also notes that the US involvement in the 1999 Balkans war against Serbia under Clinton was authorised by Executive Order.

This attempt by Gingrich to concentrate more unilateral power in the office of President, to legitimize such concentration, protect it from criticism and to limit the most effective brake on that power shows Gingrich as possessing active Fascist impulses. This is unfortunately too well in line with the general and growing Fascist orientation of the Tea Party and Republican Party in general.

The Palingenic content of his statement lies in the call to defend ‘Traditional American Values’. As my linked article above explains, Fascist movements are Palengenic meaning they seek a rebirth from some corrupted or dead state and Reactionary in that they respond to a supposed existential threat of some kind. Gingrich has here identified the Judiciary as that existential threat to traditional values.

Prophecy

Gingrich’s assertion of traditional American Biblical values in conjuction with the call for unlimited war-making powers in the Presidency is a clear validation of the prediction that when Fascism comes to America it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. The conjuction of the two aspects is, in my view, significant.

The particularly nasty part about Gingrich’s comments are that he deceptively asserts a desire to balance the powers of government while actually attempting to minimize one (the courts) and aggrandaise another (the Presidency). His manifesto nowhere mentions the dangers of an unlimited Presidency. Only the courts are criticized.

By seeking to constrain the courts, Gingrich is attempting to remove constraints on single-person Presidential power which is law by decree, a hallmark of Fascism.

I will re-state: Should the USA suffer a major economic depression or lose control of Middle East Oil, it will quickly descend into Fascism. This danger will be present until significant political actors, such as Gingrich, no longer feel comfortable in voicing proto-Fascist proposals, a precondition for which is that the Tea Party Movement will have ceased to exist.

How did the Libyan NFZ proposal succeed in the Security Council ?

My short answer, following Chomsky: The West must periodically dump its favourite dictators when their crimes become obvious to the the general population of Western democracies.

Marcos, described by GH Bush as ‘pledged to democracy’ adding that ‘[the US] love[s] your adherence to democratic principle and to the democratic processes’ was dumped for Aquino due to mass public protest. Others, including Mubarrak, have met the same fate. Now its Gaddaffi’s turn.

The average Western voter, unaware of Gaddaffi’s general working relationship with the US thinks of Gaddaffi as an anti-Western psycho-tyrant. This is a left-over from his ‘official enemy of civilisation’ status earnt around the time of the Lockerbie bombing. For the westerner in the street, Gaddaffi’s ‘official enemy’ status has never been revised or rescinded despite his aforesaid working relationship with the US and the West. The eruption of civil war in Libya including air-force strikes on civilians and rebels rightly disgusts Norm and Noreen Everage who expect the innocent to be protected. So there is domestic political expectation in the West, grounded in basic decency, that our governments will enact a NFZ.

But governments, naturally, approach the situation based on realpolitik and self-interest.

The crucial political factor which allowed the NFZ proposal to succeed is the alliance of common interest between Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations with the US.

While significant chunks of the grass roots Arab citizenry may hate the US, their governments rather enjoy selling the US oil and receiving Megatons of military equipment as part of various perverse aid and friendship packages. The Americans base the bulk of their Persian Gulf fleet in Bahrain , to name just one important aspect of this relationship.

The Arab League does not wish to succour the highly energetic and successful protest movements swelling under their feet, so to provide a precedent of supporting a rebel movement in Libya must have stuck in their craw and contributed to a great deal of hesitation in their agreement with the UN/NATO.

The Arab League is a Sunni organisation. Iran is not a member. This makes the Arab League easier to deal with for the US/West than the Organisation Of The Islamic Conference, of which Iran, a trenchant opponent if the USA is a member. I think this is why the US/NATO sought agreement with the Arab League rather than the OIC. Iran would have it harder for the Saudis to make a deal which was predicated partly on the basis of Shiites being massacred in Bahrain.

As to why Saudi planes (or the Arab League generally) are not doing the bombing runs, well, they have to save face with their own population. Its not great internal press to openly bomb other Muslims. If the Brits do it then that may just distract the rebel movements a little into an anti-Western lacuna.

But the Saudis wlll happily massacre as many Shiite Bahranis as they have bullets, or Apache helicopters.

The typical Western voter, unaware of the basic alliance between Arab and Western governments, and with no pre-existing mental image of Bahraini royalty except a vague negative Arab/Muslim sterotype will consider the Bahraini massacres an internal Arab matter and will not expect Western intervention. Besides which, war with Saudi Arabia is beyond the comfort level of most of the sane.

But in regard to Libya, the West needed the NFZ deal to save face with its own populace – particularly the British, whose royalty are friends with Gaddaffi’s son and whose famous London School Of Economics received bequests from the psycho-tyrant himself.

So I would guess the essence of the deal with the Arab League would be “Let us do a NFZ in Libya and we’ll look the other way while you massacre as many as you want elsewhere, starting with Bahrain and Yemen’

How China and Russia were talked into abstaining, I don’t know, but it would have cost the West a barrel of favours that would make even a FIFA junket look trivial.

So, the NFZ is not a specific imperialialist gambit or lunge for Libyan oil, but rather an unfortunate turn of events where popular protest has forced the West to abandon one of its murderous clients.

This happens regularly and is very distressing because revolution is more unpredicatable than Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates and who the West gets to deal with next will have to be cultivated/managed/bombed or bribed into compliance which is costly, time-consuming and has no guarantee of success.

I was chasing up the connection between Climate Change Denialism, DDT and the Tobacco Industry when I serendipitously came across a very useful essay on the topic of ‘What Is Fascism ?’ at Orcinus.

The essay is called Rush, Newspeak and Fascism, written by Daniel Neiwert in the midst of the G W Bush era. Neiwert’s special interest is the conspiracist US Patriot/Militia movements, their involvement in domestic terrorism and the way they admire and are accommodated by the Republican Party.

Neiwert canvasses some important essays on Fascism including Umberto Eco’s essay on Ur-Fascism before settling on Oxford University’s Roger Griffin’s definition of ‘Palingenetic Ultranationalist Populism’ as the animating principles of Fascism. Palingenetic means ‘rising from the ashes, as the Phoenix’

Neiwert then notes some important additional factors: the hand-in-glove relationship of Fascism to Big Business (what he terms ‘Corporatism’), the valourisation of violence and the need of Fascist’s to regard themselves as reacting against Victimisation, persecution or repression (what I classify as the reactionary element of Fascism).

The purpose of Neiwert’s essay is to clearly define Fascism so that it may be recognised in nascent forms as well as its full-blown ‘mature’ form.

As Neiwert notes, the term ‘Fascist’ is grossly abused, mostly by the Left, and is usually delivered as an insult meaning nothing more than ‘authoritarian’. The destructive power and disease of Fascism is too deadly to allowed to obscured by lazy usage. Like ‘Genocide’, the appellation of ‘Fascism’ is too important to be misused. It’s a definition that needs to be kept sharp to remain useful.

Having defined Fascism and castigated the Left for misuse of the term Neiwert then spends the remainder of the essay discussing to what extent right-wing extremist groups in the USA have been accommodated by the Repunlican Party and to what extent the rhetoric and beliefs of the extreme right find everyday expression in Republican mainstream discourse. Its an interesting exploration.

That’s Enough About Him

I see Fascism as an opportunistic movement arising from crisis or flux. The pre-conditions have to be right for Fascism to erupt in the public imagination. A charismatic/redemptive leader is crucial.

The United States, in my opinion, has a greater potential to slide into Fascism than Australia, for a number of reasons:

• Their national image as a ‘nation of destiny’
• Their national image as an example to all nations, a leader of the world community,
a youthful, vigorous, vanguard, revolutionary nation free of the corrupting
accretions of senile cynical European leadership. (Old Europe v. New Europe)
• Highly patriotic and jingoistic
Great love of patriotic symbols such as the National Flag.
My country right or wrong. American pride: America must ‘walk tall’ cannot be in second place, cannot lower the flag (e.g at Olympics)
• Their belief in a transcendent American spirit and American values –
Values worth rediscovering/recovering/fighting )literally) for.
• Their national birth through revolution; hence national rebirth obtainable by revolution on the same principles.
• Unilateral. – Rejects United Nations, International Criminal Court
Approves of Torture as a means of achieving national goals.

• A Martial nation – Highly militaristic and militarized: which nation has military bases in 150 nations
around the world ?
• Presidential system with propensity to degenerate into a personality cult. Round the clock PR machine polishing/aggrandaisin the image.
• Significant racist undercurrent including White Supremacist groups
– a hangover from the Slave Trade and The South
• Big Business and Political classes are the same people (Corporatist) and integrated
to an extent far more openly than other Western nations.
• Highly inflammatory/irresponsible political rhetoric typified by Sarah Palin
• Domestic terrorist groups (Militias)

In a wry twist, the term ‘Palingenetic’ perfectly describes the overt aims of the GOP-derived ‘Tea Party’ movement, now identified with Sarah Palin, whose website and speech making contain highly distasteful and culpable affirmations of violent and forceful action against a corrupt political culture, perfectly synchronous with a Fasist template.

But, as Neiwert says, the GOP/Big Business are more interested in Money and Power than racism and fascism and neither the GOP nor Sarah Palin is not Fascist.

The accommodation of racist and/or extremist thinking, like the accommodation of Christian fundamentalist thinking in the GOP is a means to an end, not and end in itself. When/if Racism/warped Christian Fundmentalism (really pseudo-Christian white totalitarianism) becomes the end in itself, then the United States would have taken a stride toward Fascism.

So, in my view, many of the necessary elements for Fascism are present above mere trace levels in the USA.

They sorely need to regain a civilised political rhetoric in order to rein in some of the factors noted above.

Rhetoric vs. Reality

A colleague of mine made a very valid point about distinguishing between rhetoric and action. Even if the GOP is willing to trade in some of the rhetoric of the outer right it does not mean that the GOP is actually going to implement the policies of the outer right.

For example, Christian Fundamentalists began to desert the Republicans in the Obama election because they felt betrayed by the GOP. The GOP despite their rhetoric were not delivering on their (implicit) undertakings.

John Cain never talked about faith and seemed to be spiritually apathetic. Obama, OTOH seemed to be a real believer. So the Fundies began to drift toward the Democrats.

That was one reason why Palin was drafted in as Vice-Presidential nominee: she’s a bona-fide Christian Fundamentalist. She was bought in to stop that drift.

So, the question is, has there really been a rightward shift in American Politics even if one should happen to agree that there has been a rightward shift in rhetoric.

Well can a person clutch fire to their chest and not be burned ?

The Southern Strategy

The first rightward lunge by the GOP occurred under the Southern Strategy, of the 1960’s, developed by Nixon to appeal to white racists. That strategy resulted in a number of policies designed to appeal to racist sentiment; for example, ‘Forced Busing’ (to achieve racial desegregation) was dropped, ‘Law And Order’(meaning oppose Civil Rights Protest), and anti-welfare (meaning stop whites having to pay for Black welfare) policies were implemented.

The electioneering phrase for these programs taken together was ‘States Rights’ which harked back to the 1948 formation of the States Rights Democratic Party, formed by Southern Democrats to oppose the Civil Rights movement. Reagan resurrected ‘States Rights’ rhetoric in 1980, announcing his support for ‘States Rights’ in a township famous for the murder of three Civil Rights activists in 1964.

The success of The Southern Strategy inverted the racial orientation of American politics making the GOP, formerly the ‘Party Of Lincoln’ (i.e. racial emancipation) the racist-friendly party, forcing the formerly racist Democrats to a non-racist stance since they needed some Black Vote.

Reagan regenerated the Sothern Strategy, introducing a range of anti-welfare and taxation policies which he knew would be perceived as anti-black in the South. Here’s how his campaign advisor Lee Atwater,
later chairman of the Republican National Committee described it

Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to […]the racist side of the Wallace [i.e. Southern] voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. […]We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger

Reagan also gave racist private Universities access to certain tax exemptions which had been previously denied to them on the basis of discriminatory behaviour and opposed affirmative action and quotas. TV adverts showed a white hand crumpling a job rejection notice talking about quotas. In short, anti-welfare equals anti-Black to a Southern audience. Its a dogwhistle. The inclusion of States Rights delivers the code words infallibly.

As Atwater put it, The GOP is happy to be viewed as implementing economic measures to hurt blacks to appeal to whites.

The confluence of Reagan’s ideological anti-welfare leanings with his desire to appeal to white racists provides fig leaf cover for an argument that the appeal to racism is merely fortunate, a mere by-product of good economics. Though the disproportional effect on Blacks is recognised it is not intentional, in fact it is good or them, breaking the welfare cycle (and there is some truth in that).

In a similar vein one might say that the location of the ‘States Rights’ speech was merely fortunate, even planned, but not driven by any particular racist motivation.

Maybe so.

But Atwater admits to fostering the racist sentiment by choosing ‘States Rights’ as the vehicle by which to deliver these policies, which means that the GOP is happy to trade in racism in order to win office. They’re happy for racism to be associated with political leadership.

Which is reprehensible.

And dangerous.

Performance Artist Laurie Anderson describes the process of getting her voice synthesizers and experimental electronic musical instruments through Customs at the typical US airport:

“ (Anderson:) I was carrying a lot of electronics so I had to keep unpacking everything and plugging it in and demonstrating how it all worked, and I guess I did seem a little fishy — a lot of this stuff wakes up displaying LED program readouts that have names like Atom Smasher, and so it took a while to convince them that they weren’t some kind of espionage system.

So I’ve done quite a few of these sort of impromptu new music concerts for small groups of detectives and customs agents and I’d have to keep setting all this stuff up and they’d listen for a while

and they’d say: So uh, what’s this?
And I’d pull out something like this filter, and say,

now this is what I like to think of as the Voice Of Authority. And it would take me a while to tell them how I used it for songs that were, you know, about various forms of control, and they would say, now why would you want to talk like that?

And I’d look around at the SWAT teams, and the undercover agents, and the dogs, and the radio in the corner, tuned to the Super Bowl coverage of the war.

And I’d say, take a wild guess.

So says Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov, president of the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, who also happens to be President Of The World Chess Federation, FIDE

The man provides order,” he says, “he conquers countries, territories and oil wells. He gives the wells to the rich oil companies, making them even richer, and that’s completely okay. In fact it is quite possible that the world’s population will soon be living in a single, American state. As long as order and discipline prevail — what’s the problem?”

Ilyumzhinov comments on GW Bush displays the clarity of thought of the typical multi-billionaire dictator who has also been abducted by aliens. an experience he shares with Yukio Hatoyama, wife of the current prime Minister of Japan and possibly you.

Bush’s opinions on Ilyumzhinov are currently unknown.

Equal Rights For Multi-Billionaire Dictators NOW!!

The friendly and urbane statements of our beloved Kirsan Nikolayevich mask the desperate plea for justice common to oppressed multi-billionaire dictators everywhere, which is their heartbreak at not being provided unlimited protection, unlimited finance and a satisfactory Occupational Health and Safety compliant workplace as puppet monsters for globally projected US hegemonic power.

Ilyumzhinov has offerred an obvious plea to be invaded by the US, indeed have his country bombed to smithereens by SuperStealth bombers if required, in order that he can be relieved of the actual pressures of office and instead confine himself to making selections from a 10,000 item a la carte breakfast menu and bathe in Olympic Swimming Pool sized tubs of Baby Yaks Milk as befits a man of his position and proximity to the enormous Oil and Gas reserves of the Caspian Sea.

Its not quite enough to be a multi-billionaire dictator. One must be relieved of the blasted paperwork as well. Hence the cry of Ilyumzhinov’s heart – to become a US vassal state with himself as figurehead leader in perpetuity, with a 40% personal interest in his dreamt-of pipeline route to the Caspian Oil and Gas fields, as vindicated by his personal fortune-teller.

Justice for Kalmykia – we too wish to be bombed!

You know it makes sense.

The Touching Innocence Of Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly’s piece in The Australian, 10 April-2004 entitled “Damage In Isolation” contains an odd criticism of Mark Latham’s foreign policy speech to the Lowy Institute made on the 7 April previous. Kelly writes

“[Latham’s speech] says nothing about the value of the US role in the world or the US as a force for good. Nothing.”

By “a force for good” Kelly presumably means that the USA is devoted to foreign policy goals incorporating the furtherment of democracy and human rights around the world, the relief of suffering, humanitarian aid and so on.

In contrast, in the same article Kelly considers China to be something less than a force for good and chastises Latham and the ALP for “a touching innocence about China that seems devoid of critical assessment.”

But who is the innocent: Latham or Kelly? Is the US really “a force for good”? Since Kelly’s article on Latham was written in the broader context of Latham’s call to return Australian troops from Iraq I will restrict my comments to recent US policy and actions there.

The US actively supported the murderous Saddam Hussein during the period of his worst crimes including his mass killings of Kurds by gas attack.

Throughout the 1980’s the US provided military equipment to Saddam along with strategy advice and intelligence, acted decisively to prevent Iranian victory in the Iraq/Iran war, donated billions of dollars in financial aid, sold Saddam chemical agents including VX Nerve Gas and Anthrax and underwrote his Ballistic weapons programs. The CIA even calibrated Saddam’s Mustard Gas weapons for use against Iran.

The USA blamed Iran, not Iraq, for the notorious Halabja gas attacks knowing the truth to be different. Even after a U.S. delegation travelled to Turkey at the request of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in mid-late 1988 and confirmed that Iraq “was using chemical weapons on its Kurdish population” the State Department was urging closer relations with Saddam In Sept. 1988 the Reagan administration overturned its own Senate’s “Prevention of Genocide Act” which would have made Iraq ineligible to receive U.S. loans, military and non-military assistance, credits, credit guarantees, and items subject to export controls. In Oct. 1989 President Bush signed National Security Directive 26 providing Iraq with a further $1bn in aid amongst further significant support.

The US was not in the least concerned about the mass killings of Kurds under Saddam. The US at the time was pro-Saddam in order to prevent the rise of Iran as a regional hegemon. The Kurds were completely expendable in the face of the Iranian threat to the greatest strategic asset in the world, namely, Middle East oil.

The US committed numerous atrocities during the first Gulf War including the following:

• Cluster bombing in civilian areas
• Deliberate withholding of medicines and medical equipment from hospitals
• Destruction of civilian water supplies
• Use of radioactive weapons

Contrary to US and British claims, the no-fly zones instituted after the first Gulf War were not designed to protect the Kurds or the Marsh Arabs, Turkish troops and aircraft regularly entered the northern no-fly zone covering Iraqi Kurdistan to bomb and kill in the Northern zone while the US and British stood aside.

Similarly, in the Southern zone, Iraqi troop movements were not prohibited, not even Iraqi military helicopters, only Iraqi jets. Hence, US and British planes circled overhead or stayed grounded while Saddam marched in with customary brutality to crush the 1998 rebellion.

The consequences were devastating. Hussein’s forces levelled the historical centres of the Shiite towns, bombarded sacred Shiite shrines and executed thousands on the spot. By some estimates 100,000 people died in reprisal killings between March and September. Many of these atrocities were committed in proximity to American troops, who were under orders not to intervene. The extra concession to allow Iraqi military helicopters into the Southern No-Fly zone but not the Northern was obviously made to facilitate Saddam’s massacre of the Marsh Arabs. (Peter W. Galbraith, “The Ghosts of 1991”, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A10874-2003Apr11?language=printer”)

The trigger for the latest US invasion of Iraq was the infamous 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, not concern for democracy or human rights. The US Administration moved quickly to make political capital out of the sorrow and anger amongst the public to blame the attacks on Iraq in a knowing untruth and so justify their invasion.

Many of the charges about supposed Iraqi WMD’s “dangled in front of [the media] failed the laugh test,” the editor of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists commented, “but the more ridiculous [they were,] the more the media strove to make whole-hearted swallowing of them a test of patriotism.” (Linda Rothstein, editor BAS, July 2003).

The propaganda assault had its effects. Within weeks, a majority of Americans came to regard Saddam Hussein as an imminent threat to the US. Soon almost half believed that Iraq was behind the 9/11 terror. Support for the war correlated with these beliefs. (Noam Chomsky, “Preventive War ‘the Supreme Crime’: Iraq invasion that will live in infamy”, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=4030)

In September 2002, Donald Rumsfeld explicitly tied the need to invade Iraq to the 9/11 bombings in this testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee:

Senator Mark Dayton: “What is it compelling us now to make a precipitous decision and take precipitous actions?”
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld: “What’s different? What’s different is 3,000 people were killed.”

Former CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack got enormous media exposure in late 2002 for his book “The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq.” During a typical CNN appearance, Pollack explained why he had come to see a “massive invasion” of Iraq as both desirable and practical:

“The real difference was the change from September 11th. The sense that after September 11th, the American people were now willing to make sacrifices to prevent threats from abroad from coming home to visit us here made it possible to think about a big invasion force.”

Western power is not committed to democracy in Iraq. In calling for the “people of Iraq” to overthrow Saddam following the first Gulf War, President Bush was really calling for a military coup – another Saddam, but an obedient Saddam. This is admitted by the US itself and seconded by the British:

“We clearly would have preferred a coup. There’s no question about that,” – Bush’s national security adviser Brent Scowcroft Interview on ABC News, 26 June 1997

I don’t recall asking the Kurds to mount this particular insurrection ….We hope very much that the military in Iraq will remove Saddam Hussein” – British Prime Minister John Major, ITN interview, 4 April, 1991

“..for very practical reasons there was never a promise to aid an uprising. While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf.” – President Bush and Brent Scowcroft, Time Magazine, 2 March

In summary the US is willing to countenance mass killings including the extermination of a half a million children, use radioactive weapons, cluster bomb in civilian areas, destroy civilian water supplies, deprive civilians of medicines, sell Nerve Gas and Anthrax, build the Ballistic weapons program of a megalomaniac dictator, back military coups and lie to its own population and the world community. And that’s just in Iraq.

Latham has excellent reasons for not eulogizing the US as a force for good. It is Kelly that is the innocent, but I am not certain that this innocence is “touching”.

Kelly is a very influential journalist with access to a large newspaper readership and appears regularly as a mainstream commentator on national TV. His views on US, Iraq and Australia reach into every home. As such his views on the proper attitude of Australia politicians toward US policy (rhapsodous praise) have the potential to influence the entire polity. It is therefore alarming that Kelly’s naivety is so far removed from the truth about US realpolitik and imperial ambitions.

Kelly does not settle for quiet agreement or even a lack of criticism in regard to US foreign policy. The proper attitude for Australian politicians in regard to the USA in Kelly’s view is unrestrained applause.

Latham didn’t describe the US as a ‘force for evil’ or less emotively, ‘an outlaw terrorist state’. He just didn’t say they were a force for good. Does Kelly expect our pollies as a matter of obligation or respect for the Australia-US alliance to repeat US propaganda verbatim regardless of what they may or may not believe?

Perhaps as Editor-at-large of The Australian Kelly is beholden to his employer, Rupert Murdoch, to toe his line in political articles. Did Kelly attend the Cancun conference for Murdoch editors and commentators addressed by Bush’s National Security Adviser Condaleeza Rice ? A directive to present the US as “a force for good” sounds like just the sort of “editorial guideline” you’d expect in an internal memo or media briefing paper. Unfortunately the results of this appalling ”innocence” impact disgracefully on our ability to make informed votes and hence the practice of our democracy.

PostScript
Turning now to the actual use of the phrase “the price is worth it,” we come to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s reply to Lesley Stahl’s question on “60 Minutes” on May 12, 1996:

Stahl: “We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And–you know, is the price worth it?”

Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Sources:

Paul Kelly, “Damage in Isolation:, The Australian, April 10, 2004, http://theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,9233174%255E12250,00.htmlLast Accessed, Apr-21-2004-04

Eric Herring, “The No Fly Zones in Iraq: The Myth of a Humanitarian Intervention*, via http://uk.geocities.com/dstokes14/Eric/eric.htm, Last Accessed 15-Apr-2004
Sarah Graham-Brown, “No-Fly Zones: Rhetoric and Real Intentions”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/2001/0220nofl.htm, Last Accessed Apr-15-2004
Norman Solomon, “Exploiting Anxiety: The Political Capital of 9/11”, http://www.counterpunch.org/solomon09112003.html, Last Accessed Apr-15-2004
Peter W. Galbraith, “The Ghosts of 1991”, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A10874-2003Apr11?language=printer”, Last Accessed 15-Apr-2004

Center For Co-Operative Research, “US Support for Iraq in the 1980s”, http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/globalissue/usforeignpolicy/iraq1980scontent.html, Last Accessed 15-Apr-2004-04-15

Noam Chomsky, “Preventive War ‘the Supreme Crime’: Iraq invasion that will live in infamy”, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=4030, Last Accessed 15-Apr-2004

George Bush Sr. and Brent Scowcroft, “Why We Didn’t Remove Saddam”, Time 2 March 1998, posted on http://www.thememoryhole.org/mil/bushsr-iraq.htm, Last Accessed Apr-15-2004

Rahul Mahajan, :”’We Think the Price Is Worth It’: Media uncurious about Iraq policy’s effects- there or here”, http://www.fair.org/extra/0111/iraq.html, Last Accessed Apr-15-2004