This piece was originally published by Renegade Inc on August 30th 2017:
Is this person speaking their truth?
“Since the founding of our republic, our country has produced a special class of heroes whose selflessness, courage, and resolve is unmatched in human history.
American patriots from every generation have given their last breath on the battlefield - for our nation and for our freedom. Through their lives, and though their lives were cut short, in their deeds they achieved total immortality. By following the heroic example of those who fought to preserve our republic, we can find the inspiration our country needs to unify, to heal and to remain one nation under God. The men and women of our military operate as one team, with one shared mission and one shared sense of purpose…
As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas, and we will always win, let us find the courage to heal our divisions within. Let us make a simple promise to the men and women we ask to fight in our name, that when they return home from battle, they will find a country that has renewed the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that unite us together as one”
How about this person?
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents”
One of those statements was made by a man who has never donned a uniform, never killed another human being, and never seen a friend blown to pieces by a shell or ripped apart by shrapnel. The other guy did all those things. One of those people was talking ‘horseshit’; the other was speaking from their experience. One is the captive of a corrupt system that Eisenhower described as the military-industrial complex. The other retired from that system when Eisenhower was a young officer, and went on to describe his experiences in a book entitled ‘War is a Racket’.
The first is President Donald Trump announcing his planned escalation in Afghanistan on 22nd August 2017; the second was Major-General Smedley Darlington Butler, a marine who retired in 1931 as the most decorated soldier in US history at that time.
Given such a gulf between authentic communication and a salesman’s cheap attempt to be ‘inspiring’…the question ‘Who do you believe?’ may seem purely rhetorical. And yet the same choice has arisen in one form or another many times in the last fifty years: in Vietnam during the sixties; in Iraq (twice); and more latterly in Libya and Syria. If you reduce the scale of the carnage somewhat, you can stick a pin into a world map and the chances are that it will land in or near a territory in which the US and the ‘western alliance’ have been busy ‘promoting democracy’, ‘making a humanitarian intervention’, and/or ‘defending western values’. There’s a map here in fact:
You’ll notice there are a few large gaps on the map: America, Canada, Australia, India and parts of Africa…but given these were all British colonies, the majority of the world has had to suffer English speaking overlords and meddlers for three hundred years…and most of them have had enough…go figure.
If you dig out the press clippings and/or listen to the old newsreels from wars like Vietnam and Iraq, in each instance you will find political warmongers posing as principled human beings. Clearly we haven’t challenged them often enough or loudly enough or hard enough…so let’s go again.
When you dig a few centimetres under the surface of each of those interventions, you will start to find answers to the Latin phrase ‘cui bono?’ – for whose benefit? For example, in Iraq 2 you’ll find the unmistakable smell of Dick Cheney and his pals at Halliburton. In each case the actors may vary, but the basic plot, and the major roles don’t. You’ll find snakes posing as statesmen, vultures in the form of weapons dealers, oil deal fixers, & mining interests, and everywhere & always there will be parasites from Wall Street and other global financial centres, whose job it is to peddle the debt…I’m sorry I should have said ‘arrange the finance’.
Cover, rather than coverage, is provided by lap dogs in the media, whose most treasured asset is their address book. Take away their ‘access’ and there’s nothing much left – many of them don’t even write very well. Do you honestly think that the FT editor, Lionel Barber, got his Legion D’Honeur for ‘journalism’ – for telling the truth about the shenanigans that shape our world and speaking truth to power? They should’ve given him the Grand Order of Puckering Up (GOPU). Similarly do you believe Martin Wolf is so thoroughly gullible that he can hang out at Bilderberg and Davos year in, year out, without realising that many of the ‘elite’ he is rubbing shoulders with are criminals, or would be if they answered to the same rule of law that applies to a common thief? For example, do you imagine that Wolf believes that JP Morgan hosted Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme for all those years without anyone ever knowing what was going on? If anyone really believes that insiders like Barber and Wolf don’t know how rotten the system is…I hope that person doesn’t leave the house unsupervised – there’s moving traffic out there.
But back to the star players:
Afghanistan has been a ‘nice little earner’ for many governmental cronies, and now that Trump has committed himself to the next round of slaughter, it will continue to be so. Here’s Matthew Hoh, board member of ‘Veterans for Peace’, senior fellow with the ‘Centre for International Policy’ and former member of Obama’s State Department in Afghanistan. He wrote this prior to, and in anticipation of, Trump’s escalation:
“Often repeated claims, such as millions of Afghan school girls going to school, millions of Afghans having access to improved health care and Afghan life expectancy dramatically increasing, and the construction of an Afghan job building economy have been exposed as nothing more than public relations lies.
Often displayed as modern Potemkin Villages to visiting journalists and congressional delegations and utilised to justify continued budgets for the Pentagon and USAID, and, so, to allow for more killing, like America’s reconstruction programme in Iraq, the reconstruction programme in Afghanistan has proven to be a failure and its supposed achievements shown to be virtually non-existent, as documented by multiple investigations by SIGAR, as well as by investigators and researchers from organisations such as the UN, EU, IMF, World Bank, etc…
Americans will also hear tonight (in Trump’s speech) how the US military has done great things for the Afghan people. You would be hard pressed to find many Afghans outside of the incredibly corrupt and illegitimate government, a better definition of a kleptocracy you will not find, that the US keeps in power with its soldiers and $35 billion a year, who would agree with the statements of the American politicians, the American generals and the pundits, the latter of which are mostly funded, directly or indirectly, by the military companies…
It is also important to remember that many members of the Afghan government are themselves warlords and drug barons, many of them guilty of some of the worst human rights abuses and war crimes, the same abuses of which the Taliban are guilty, while the current Ghani government, and the previous Karzai government, have allowed egregious crimes to continue against women, including laws that allow men to legally rape their wives. Whatever President Trump announces about Afghanistan, a decision he teased on Twitter, as if the announcement were a new retail product launch or television show episode, as opposed to the sombre and painful reality of war, we can be assured the lies about American progress in Afghanistan will continue, the lies about America’s commitment to human rights and democratic values will continue, the profits of the military companies and drug barons will also continue, and of course the suffering of the Afghan people will surely continue”
It is a mistake, however, to think that the people who profit from war are solely a manifestation of ‘the right’ – it goes much deeper than that. The problem is systemic. The so-called liberal democratic wing of US politics - which is latterly neither ‘liberal’ nor ‘democratic’, but is badly in need of a dictionary - also has its fair share of warmongers: the ‘liberal interventionists’.
Hillary Clinton, for example, has never met a war that she didn’t fall in love with instantaneously. Look at her record and you’ll find she lined up squarely behind Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq. As Secretary of State, she was the political architect of Libya, and a constant source of whispering into Obama’s ear about creating ‘no-fly’ zones in Syria – strategically and operationally this was a ridiculous idea, but it would have further antagonised Putin, which was the point.
Look at the accounts of the Clinton Foundation and you’ll find they contain numerous ‘donations’ from Saudi Arabia - a family business originally put on the ‘throne’ by the British, propped up by the US since the seventies, supported for decades by the Wahhabis – a Sunni death cult of head-chopping psychopaths. Just the sort of money that you want to cosy up with if you are a politician who claims to be passionate about democracy and women’s issues, and are running for president…not. Incidentally, that last point is a symptom of just how rotten the system is – it clearly didn’t worry the Clintons that such a thing would be a problem for them…and given the servitude of the New York Times & the Washington Post, it wouldn’t have been - had Julian Assange not started the ball rolling with proof of DNC election rigging. And now she blames the Russians for Trump’s victory…sweet irony…but I digress…
My point is this: at this level of the political game ‘left and right’ is a sideshow for the plebs – this is about power and money.
Let me ask you a question: What do Dick Cheney, Larry Summers, James Wolsey, Rupert Murdoch and Jacob Rothschild all have in common?
Quite an impressive list of power brokers don’t you think? A former Vice-President under Bush, an ex-Treasury Secretary under Clinton, a former Director of the CIA, a global media mogul, and a member of an old European financial dynasty. What could these guys have in common other than political power and influence?
They are all members of the Strategic Advisory Board of Genie Energy, an American company with its head office in Newark, New Jersey. Now…what’s so magnetic about Genie Energy you may ask?
It may have something to do with one of their major commercial interests:
“A potentially significant oil and gas resource in Northern Israel pursuant to an exclusive, 3 year petroleum exploration license issued by the government of Israel”
So…perhaps these luminaries share a common fascination and expertise in the exploration & drilling of oil? I have no doubt that they would all look very dashing in overalls, a helmet and goggles…but perhaps there is something else…
As you’ve guessed there is another possibility…particularly since the description on Genie’s website is slightly misleading: the ‘significant oil and gas resource’ referred to isn’t actually located in ‘Northern Israel’. It is situated in an area better known as the Golan Heights - a territory captured from Syria during the 6-day war in 1967. An annexation described by the United Nations as "null and void and without international legal effect" (UN Resolution 497, adopted unanimously on 17th December 1981). In other words, Genie has oil and gas interests on land that the United Nations, with the supposed support of the United States, regards as illegally occupied territory.
Maybe that goes some way to explaining why Genie have such well connected paragons of virtue & international law on their Advisory Board. Who better to rub their magic lamp in Washington than a neoconservative warmonger, a greasy liberal influence peddler, a regime change organizer, an international purveyor of slime and a well-connected inheritor of parasitic spoils?
Does that sound like a left/right struggle to you? Me neither.
So where does that leave us? The crony-capitalist system is collapsing. Like ancient Rome, it is too corrupt to stand. The financial crisis was a major shock, but was nevertheless a symptom, as are the emergent fractures in our societies & our politics, as is the increase in geopolitical tension and warfare.
As this process accelerates it will become increasingly clear to ‘normal’ people that the primary concern of governments and ‘elites’ is to maintain their grip on power, and to double down when it is threatened. If the majority of westerners showed even a modicum of interest in their own history, this would already be glaringly apparent. Ultimately, however, it will not work. Power is systemic…and anyone who believes that centralisation of control in highly complex systems is anything other than a disaster waiting to happen…has not been paying attention.
One way or another we will have a realignment of geopolitical power, and a new monetary system – that is inevitable. A major war, though increasingly likely – isn’t. But to avoid this we need to be ‘awake’, and intolerant of any more ‘horseshit’…from the left or the right.
I’ll leave the last word with one of the heroes of my youth - Bob Dylan, who wrote the following lines in 1963. This is the first verse of eight, but the link that follows is a video of the whole song, with ‘stills’ photography from Vietnam…it’s powerful stuff.
Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks…
Bob Dylan, ‘Masters of War’, ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’, 1963