Archive | February 9th, 2012

Two-front international struggle for Palestine

NOVANEWS

By Lawrence Davidson

Lawrence Davidson argues that Israel is intent on ethnically cleansing its own Arab citizens and that, to prevent this, it is imperative to intensify the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against the Zionist state and, equally, to redouble popular pressure in the United States that forces a change in foreign policy toward Israel.

Two Fronts

In January 2011, I wrote an analysis in support of a one-state solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian struggle. It is the Israelis themselves who have made the one-state solution the only practicable approach, because their incessant and illegal colonization of the West Bank has simply eliminated all possibility of a viable and truly independent Palestinian state. Israeli behaviour has not changed in the past year and so I still stand by the position.

“Just as the racist apartheid form of governance had to be changed for there to be a resolution of the South African struggle, so the Israeli Zionist form of governance has to be changed for there to be a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.”

That being said, it is important to point out that even a one-state solution capable of bringing justice to the Palestinians, and in doing so, saving the Jews from the folly of Zionism, will not be possible without worldwide intervention. What is necessary is a struggle on two international fronts:

1. A strong growing international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaignagainst Israel and

2. Growing popular pressure in the United States that forces a change in foreign policy toward Israel.

Without achieving both of these goals the fate of both Palestinians and Jews looks very bleak indeed.

Israel will try to prevent a civil rights struggle

The necessity of this two-front international approach was reinforced for me upon reading a speech given by Noam Chomsky in Beirut in May of 2010. When commenting on a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he made the following points:

1. For the indefinite future, “Israel will continue doing exactly what [it is] doing… [taking] the water resources, the valuable land … the Jordan Valley … and send[ing] corridors through the remaining regions to break them up into separated cantons…”
 
2. In the process the Israeli government will make sure that “very few Palestinians [are] incorporated in the valuable areas that Israel will take over” and they will do so in order to preclude “any civil rights struggle”.
 
3. The Israelis can do this as long as the United States supports them. Chomsky calls this the “mafia principle”. He notes that in the case of South Africa, the apartheid state was able to hold out against an international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign as long as the United States did not participate in it. And the primary reason the US gave for not doing so was that the leading resistance organization fighting apartheid, Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, was a “notorious” terrorist organization.

4. However, international anti-apartheid sentiment did help push Washington to finally cease its support for South Africa and then apartheid collapsed. Chomsky concludes: “When the godfather [that is, the US] changes his policy, things change… I think this could happen with Israel. If the United States changes policy and decides to join the world‘s [growing opposition to Israeli behaviour], Israel will have no option but to go along.”

“…the pressure for the necessary transformation will have to come … in the form of a two-front movement: one front building the worldwide boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and the second front concentrating on making support of Israel a national scandal in the US and therefore a domestic voting issue.”

Chomsky’s analysis is a bit too reductionist for me. That is, he tends to bring everything down to positions taken by the US government. But there is no denying that changing US policy is one of two necessary international parts to any solution. And, he makes a seminal point when he tells us that the Israeli government has no intention of incorporating the mass of West Bank Palestinians (to say nothing of the Gazans) into the Jewish state.

Avoiding a civil rights struggle through “transfer”

Indeed, Israeli strategy necessitates allowing a fake “Palestinian state” in the form of West Bank bantustans, and then deporting their Israeli Arab citizens into those enclaves. No Arabs in Israel, no civil rights struggle.
 
An interesting piece of news that speaks to this possibility appeared on 31 January 2012. According to Associated Press reports, the Israeli Interior Ministry plans to deport thousands of South Sudanese refugees. Why so? Because, according to a ministry spokeswoman, “since the South Sudanese have an independent state, they will no longer be given protected status in Israel”. The first step will be to offer them “voluntary deportation and around 1,300 US dollars” in ‘thanks for leaving’ money. After that, forced deportation and no money, will be the policy.
 
As the American Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah notes, “Israeli leaders have already hinted that they could use the same type of logic to justify removal of Palestinian citizens of Israel if a nominally independent Palestinian state is established on scrapes of the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.
 
This is known as a policy of “transfer” in Zionist parlance and it has been discussed at least since the time of Theodor Herzl. In recent years it has been suggested by former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (now head of the Israeli opposition in the Knesset) and the present foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as well as a slew of other Israeli politicians. Abunimah’s conclusion is that a “two-state solution would be more likely to lead to further ethnic cleansing of Palestinians than to peace”

“…it is unlikely that there will be a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle unless Israeli treatment of the Palestinians becomes a strong enough cause to impact US policy.”

Conclusion

So what do we have here? On the one hand, Noam Chomsky points to the very real possibility that the Israelis will not allow a one-state solution that creates the conditions for an internal struggle for civil and political equality. And, on the other hand, Ali Abunimah points to the very real possibility that any two-state solution will lead to forced deportation of Palestinians into bantustans.
 
Is there a way out of this? Well, if the South African experience is to be a guide it is this: the sine qua non of any solution is the collapse of Israel’s ethno-religious – that is, Zionist – ideology of governance. Just as the racist apartheid form of governance had to be changed for there to be a resolution of the South African struggle, so the Israeli Zionist form of governance has to be changed for there to be a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.
 
And, I think that Chomsky is right when he says the Israelis have no intention of allowing such a change in governance to come about through an internal civil rights struggle. Therefore, the pressure for the necessary transformation will have to come from outside. It will have to come in the form of a two-front movement: one front building the worldwide boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and the second front concentrating on making support of Israel a national scandal in the US and therefore a domestic voting issue.
 
While there are good organizations in the US (such as the US Campaign to End the Occupation and Jewish Voices for Peace) involved in building this second front, I think that the effort has not been given enough attention by Americans involved in supporting the Palestinian cause. It is time this changed for, as Noam Chomsky suggests, it is unlikely that there will be a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle unless Israeli treatment of the Palestinians becomes a strong enough cause to impact US policy.


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Mondowess Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Organizers say pro-Israel filmmaker with controversial past deceives, disrupts Penn BDS conference

Feb 04, 2012

 Alex Kane

MartinHimel
Filmmaker Martin Himel (Photo: Earthbook.tv)

Organizers of the University of Pennsylvania’s BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) conference acted to prevent a rightwing pro-Israel filmmaker from interviewing participants at the conference because he misrepresented himself and disrupted the event Saturday, they said. 

The fracas started when organizers got word that Martin Himel, a Canadian filmmaker with a controversial ideological history, had registered for the event without identifying himself as a reporter and was interviewing conference-goers. After some discussion, a decision was made to tell Himel that he could not film any more, although he was allowed to attend the conference since he registered as a participant.

“This group talks about open press,” but they couldn’t handle tough questions, Himel said in a phone interview.

PennBDS explains the decision:

In order to ensure a safe and orderly event, the organizers of this weekend’s UPenn BDS conference, which has been the target of a campaign of vicious, slanderous attacks in recent weeks, instituted a press registration policy designed to facilitate media coverage without interfering with the work of conference attendees.

Unfortunately, at least one individual has abused this policy by deceiving conference organizers in regards to their true identity and agenda. This misrepresentation, and subsequent interview tactics employed by said individual, caused a substantial disruption to the organizers’ educational mission, prompting organizers to ask said individual to desist so that order could be restored.

All journalists properly registered, including colleagues of said individual [his film crew], maintain their access to participants and to conference proceedings that are open to media. Organizers regret any inconvenience caused to conference participants by the presence of said individual, and reiterate their commitment to allowing free access to journalists who conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner.

This is not the first time Palestine solidarity activists have had to contend with Himel, who has also worked for WorldFocus and PBS. A documentary he produced about Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Concordia University in Canada and the protests that ensued painted Palestine solidarity activists as anti-Semites and compared the breaking of windows during a protest against Netanyahu to Kristallnacht.

Writing for the Toronto Star in 2003, Antonia Zerbisias dubbed Himel’s documentary as “hyperbolic”:

A controversial Global TV documentary that portrays last September’s student demonstration in Montreal against a speech by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the dawn of a new Holocaust is getting a repeat showing this week – despite three formal complaints against the film.

The outgoing Concordia Student Union (CSU) as well as Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and the Canadian Muslim Forum claim that Confrontation At Concordia presents an unfair picture of events at the downtown campus, which is portrayed as “the vipers’ nest of anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli hatred…”

The complainants have a point. I watched this film twice, and while there’s no doubt that some pro-Palestinian students got too hot under the kaffiya, comparing one broken university window, a trampled Israeli flag, a few frankly hateful placards plus some chanting, jumping and pumping fists to Kristallnacht, that infamous night in Nazi Germany when Jewish shops and synagogues were destroyed, is hyperbolic to say the least.

But that’s how filmmaker Martin Himel described it when I asked him if bringing up the Holocaust wasn’t going too far.

“I don’t know how much you know about history, but Kristallnacht, all that started with breaking windows,” he said. “They broke windows, they put up posters of Jews and lo and behold.”

Himel makes no apologies for his documentary, adding that he is “not aware of the complaints” against it. Fair enough. He’s based in Israel where he reports for Global. But there’s no excuse for his not mentioning – or even knowing – that Netanyahu’s tour was co-sponsored by the Winnipeg-based Asper Foundation, established by his ultimate employer, CanWest Global chair Izzy Asper. Even a simple search of the Montreal Gazette, also a CanWest news organ, would have revealed that.

Another of Himel’s films, titled “Jenin: Massacring Truth,” was praised by Aish Hatorah, a Zionist organization linked to West Bank settlements. And at a B’nai Brith-sponsored Ze’ev Jabotinsky Memorial event, Himel criticized a separate film about the Concordia protest by saying that the film “interviewed a self-hating Jew who agreed with the Arabs.”

Himel left the conference threatening to create problems for PennBDS, but returned as a participant. He said in an interview that his crew was continuing to film.

Live tweeting from the Penn BDS conference

Feb 04, 2012

 Adam Horowitz

CONFERENCE SQUARE1

Phil, Alex and Annie are in Philadelphia for the Penn BDS conference, and while we wait for their first report we thought we’d bring you up to speed on the story to this point. Here was our reporting in the lead up to the conference:

Here is a message Omar Barghouti recorded for the conference that was played earlier today:

Alex Kane is live-tweeting from the conference. Follow him below or at twitter.com/mondoweiss:

Praying while Shi’a: the NYPD’s latest religious profiling scandal

Feb 04, 2012

 Lizzy Ratner and Alex Kane

Ray Kelly Kelly Kelly
New York Police Chief, Ray Kelly

How is it possible that New York police chief Ray Kelly still has a job?

Days after news broke that Kelly gamely sat for an interview for The Third Jihad, the anti-Muslim agitprop-cum-police training video, the Associated Press (bless its investigative soul) has broken news of yet another New York Police Department outrage: in May 2006, as tensions flared between the US and Iran, the NYPD “recommended increasing surveillance of thousands of Shiite Muslims and their mosques, based solely on their religion, as a way to sweep the Northeast for signs of Iranian terrorists.”That’s right, a whole religious group was deemed potentially suspect simply because they happen to worship the dominant form of Islam practiced in Iran.

The NYPD’s stunning surveillance recommendations were devised as part of a secret intelligence report prepared specifically for Kelly and titled, “US-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City.” At nine pages long, the document is filled with troubling tactics and targets, including a list of more than a dozen mosques, stretching from Connecticut to New Jersey, that were identified for surveillance despite no clear evidence of terrorist activity. Even more damning, perhaps, is the simple, eight-word sentence buried part-way down page two: “Expand and focus intelligence collections at Shi’a mosques.” Both New York City law and the NYPD’s own guidelines clearly prohibit this kind of religious profiling.  (Of course, the NYPD is also prohibited from engaging in racial profiling, but that hasn’t stopped its officers from stopping-and-frisking almost every black man who crosses their paths in certain city neighborhoods.)

And the outrages don’t stop there. In addition to its long list of Shi’a targets, the document also recommends tracking Palestinians living in New York City.Why Palestinians? Because, the report claims, Iran supports Hamas, and New York’s Palestinian community happens to contain some “Hamas members and sympathizers.” Call it the transitive property of Islamophobic profiling.

As the report warns:

The Palestinian community, although not Shi’a, should also be assessed due to presence of Hamas members and sympathizers and the group’s relationship with the Iranian government. According to US Census data, 3,100 Palestinians reside in NYC.

It’s not clear at this point whether the NYPD implemented all or even any of the recommendations of the “US-Iran Conflict” report. While Kelly claims that the report was merely a “contingency plan,” a former police official told the AP that the recommendations were generally followed. Either way, however, the recommendations are part of a pattern and practice of religious profiling — make that Muslim profiling — that raises serious questions about the leadership of the police department. What if the victims of all this profiling had been Catholics or gay men or Jews? What if Kelly had appeared in a conspiracy video called, say, The Third Temple, conflating all Jewish observance with fundamentalism and warning of a Jewish conspiracy to overthrew US culture and politics? Heads would have rolled, apologies would have been issued. And that would have been right, proper. As it is, neither has happened.

There is still time, however. Just yesterday, 33 civil rights groups called for an investigation by New York State’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, into the NYPD’s surveillance practices. “The need to hold the NYPD accountable for its flagrant use of discriminatory policing practices has never been more glaring and urgent,” the groups wrote. They are awaiting Schneiderman’s response.

Should Alan Dershowitz refuse to take himself seriously?

Feb 04, 2012

David Samel

As Alan Dershowitz forcefully inserts himself into the BDS debate, it is helpful to recall Dershowtiz’s own insight into who should and should not be accepted as a “serious” thinker on peace in the Middle East. In his 2005 volume The Case For Peace, Dershowitz offers a lengthy attack on the late great Tony Judt’s groundbreaking 2003 article in the New York Review of Books. (Think Clifford Irving criticizing Pablo Picasso). Dershowitz dismissed as a “nonstarter” Judt’s call for a single binational state of Jews and Palestinians. He then pronounced that history had proven Judt “completely wrong” less than a year after his article appeared. Dershowitz chided Judt for his lack of faith in the “peace process”:

[Judt] declared that “the Middle East peace process is finished” – not delayed or postponed but forever “finished.” He also believed that “the two state solution – the core of the Oslo process and the present ‘road map’ – is probably already doomed.” Not endangered but ‘doomed’! And he criticized those who, in the spirit of “a ventriloquist’s dummy, pitifully recite . . . the Israeli cabinet line: It’s all Arafat’s fault. . . Well, it turned out the dummies were right and the professor was wrong. The peace process was not finished. All it needed to start up again was the death of Arafat, because its rejection was in fact “all Arafat’s fault.” Arafat’s untimely death (untimely, because if it had come a few years earlier the Camp David negotiations would almost certainly have produced peace and a Palestinian state) immediately changed the dynamics and restarted the peace process. Rarely has history provided such a natural experiment: while Arafat was alive the peace process remained stymied; as soon as Arafat dies the peace process continue. This alone should be more than enough to disqualify Judt from ever again being taken seriously about how to achieve peace in the Middle East.”

Now, more than six years after Dershowitz’s analysis, let’s revisit the issue. Dershowitz claimed that the “peace process” only needed the death of Arafat to proceed and progress toward eventual resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Judt claimed that the peace process was illusory and doomed to failure. Who was right and who was wrong? The 2005 resumption of peace talks was another inconsequential event in the never-ending series of starts and stops known as the “peace process.” Meanwhile, the Occupation wades through its fifth decade with no end in sight. Yet Dershowitz pinned high hopes on the opportunities presented by Arafat’s “untimely death,” and the ensuing fruitless umpteenth chapter of the peace talks that led to a predictable dead end.

Today, Judt looks like a visionary who accurately foresaw what many are only now coming to realize, that the “peace process” will never produce a viable two-state solution, and we had best prepare for the alternative. Dershowitz’s condemnation of Judt could not appear more foolish. If being wrong on this issue is “more than enough to disqualify someone from ever again being taken seriously,” Dershowitz’s own words consign him to the dustbin of history.

Israeli police shoot international activist in the neck during weekly Nabi Saleh protest

Feb 04, 2012

 Adam Horowitz

 

From the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee:

Border Police Shoot French Woman in the Neck During Nabi Saleh Demo

The woman was hit in the back of her neck with a tear-gas projectile shot directly at her by a group of Border Police officers during the weekly demonstration in the village of Nabi Saleh yesterday. More that 20 were injured during the demonstration.

Despite a ridiculing statement by the IDF spokesperson that the injury was caused by a stone (see here), the above video clearly shows the the injury was caused by a tear-gas projectile shot directly at a group of very peaceful protesters by Israeli Border Police officers. On December 9th, 2011,Mustafa Tamimi from Nabi Saleh suffered fatal injuries after soldiers shoot him in the face with a tear-gas projectile. The practice of shooting tear-gas canisters directly at people, in fact using them as projectiles, is widespread among Israeli soldiers suppressing Palestinian demonstrations in the West Bank.

A Dutch man was also hit by a tear-gas projectile in the waist, and evacuated to the hospital with a suspected fracture.

The protest was attacked by the army well within the village shortly after it set out from the center of the village. The soldiers shot volleys of tear-gas and rubber-coated bullets at the march for no apparent reason. More than 20 injuries were recorded among the protesters throughout the day and two Palestinian journalists were detained.

 
 

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CHEAPER GAS & ELECTRICITY

NOVANEWS
 
 

Dear All,

Gas and electricity companies rip us off. They get away with it because they sell something we all need – and they’re too big for each individual customer to take on.

But can you imagine if thousands of us, their customers, signed up to switch our gas and electricity companies as one group? If we all join together, we will have enough bargaining power to demand a cheaper price.

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Sign up – join other 38 Degrees members to get a fair deal on gas and electricity

  2. Share it with your friends – the more of us who get involved, the stronger our bargaining position

  3. Bargain – we work with Which? experts to negotiate with gas and electricity companies

  4. Switch – If you like the deal we negotiate, switch easily online [1]

This will be the first time British customers have joined together to bargain to get a better deal on our gas and electricity bills – sign up to be part of it here:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/the-big-switch

There are nearly one million 38 Degrees members. Together we can use our customer power to get a fairer deal. That will help drive down prices for everyone. We’ll save ourselves some money. But we’ll also help all those who are struggling to afford to keep their homes warm.

38 Degrees has joined forces with consumer experts Which? on this campaign. [2] Which? are experts in the gas and electricity market and consumer rights. 38 Degrees members know a thing or two about people power! Together we could be the perfect team to turn the tables on the gas and electricity companies.

If you haven’t switched gas or electricity company before, don’t worry, working together like this makes it hassle free and signing up at this stage doesn’t commit you to switching:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/the-big-switch

A few weeks ago 38 Degrees members came together to shame gas and electricity companies in to passing price cuts on to their customers. [3] Our massive people-powered petition started making the news and the big companies started to feel jittery. They announced small price cuts. But our bills remain too high – as do their profits.

Usually when we come together to make change happen through 38 Degrees, our reward is making the world a better place – knowing that we have helped protect our woodlands or our health service, or that we’ve stood up to the power of Rupert Murdoch. [4]

This time as well as challenging the injustice of rip-off bills, we can each save some money too. So please join in now, click here to be part of it:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/the-big-switch

Thanks for being involved,

Becky, James, David, Cian, Johnny, Hannah, Marie and the 38 Degrees team

PS Andrew Lansley’s NHS plan enters its next stage in the House of Lords this week. That means it’s time for us to decide what we could do next to challenge it. What do you think we should do next? Share your thoughts in the poll here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/saving-our-nhs

NOTES

[1] If you need anymore information the Q & A can be read here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/big-switch-further-information

[2] http://www.which.co.uk/

[3] http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2012/01/09/lets-drive-down-the-price-of-gas-and-electricity-bills/

[4] http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2011/02/17/victory-government-to-scrap-plans-to-sell-our-forests/
 

 

 
 
 
 

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Profit Driven Prison Industrial Complex: The Economics of Incarceration in the USA

NOVANEWS

By Nile Bowie

Global Research,
nilebowie.blogspot.com

For anyone paying attention, there is no shortage of issues that fundamentally challenge the underpinning moral infrastructure of American society and the values it claims to uphold. Under the conceptual illusion of liberty, few things are more sobering than the amount of Americans who will spend the rest of their lives in an isolated correctional facility – ostensibly, being corrected. The United States of America has long held the highest incarceration rate in the world, far surpassing any other nation. For every 100,000 Americans, 743 citizens sit behind bars. Presently, the prison population in America consists of more than six million people, a number exceeding the amount of prisoners held in the gulags of the former Soviet Union at any point in its history.

While miserable statistics illustrate some measure of the ongoing ethical calamity occurring in the detainment centers inside the land of the free, only a partial picture of the broader situation is painted. While the country faces an unprecedented economic and financial crisis, business is booming in other fields – namely, the private prison industry. Like any other business, these institutions are run for the purpose of turning a profit. State and federal prisons are contracted out to private companies who are paid a fixed amount to house each prisoner per day. Their profits result from spending the minimum amount of state or federal funds on each inmate, only to pocket the remaining capital. For the corrections conglomerates of America, prosperity depends on housing the maximum numbers of inmates for the longest potential time – as inexpensively as possible.

By allowing a profit-driven capitalist-enterprise model to operate over institutions that should rightfully be focused on rehabilitation, America has enthusiastically embraced a prison industrial complex. Under the promise of maintaining correctional facilities at a lower cost due to market competition, state and federal governments contract privately run companies to manage and staff prisons, even allowing the groups to design and construct facilities. The private prison industry is primarily led by two morally deficient entities, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corporation).  These companies amassed a combined revenue of over $2.9 billion in 2010, not without situating themselves in the center of political influence.

 

The number of people imprisoned under state and federal custody increased 772% percent between 1970 and 2009, largely due to the incredible influence private corporations wield against the American legal system. Because judicial leniency and sentencing reductions threaten the very business models of these private corporations, millions have been spent lobbying state officials and political candidates in an effort to influence harsher “zero tolerance” legislation and mandatory sentencing for many non-violent offenses. Political action committees assembled by private correctional corporations have lobbied over 3.3 million dollars to the political establishment since 2001. An annual report released by the CCA in 2010 reiterates the importance of influencing legislation:

“The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior. Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly, reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.”

Considering today’s private prison population is over 17 times larger than the figure two decades earlier, the malleability of the judicial system under corporate influence is clear. The Corrections Corporation of America is the first and largest private prison company in the US, cofounded in 1983 by Tom Beasley, former Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. The CCA entered the market and overtly exploited Beasley’s political connections in an attempt to exert control over the entire prison system of Tennessee. Today, the company operates over sixty-five facilities and owns contracts with the US Marshal Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Bureau of Prisons. The GEO Group operates 118 detention centers throughout the United States, South Africa, UK, Australia and elsewhere. Under its original name, the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation was synonymous for the sadistic abuse of prisoners in its facilities, resulting in the termination of several contracts in 1999.

 

The political action committees assembled by private prison enterprises have also wielded incredible influence with respect to administering harsher immigration legislation. The number of illegal immigrants being incarcerated inside the United States is rising exponentially under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency responsible for annually overseeing the imprisonment of 400,000 foreign nationals at the cost of over $1.9 billion on custody-related operations. The agency has come under heavy criticism for seeking to contract a 1,250-bed immigration detention facility in Essex County, New Jersey to a private company that shares intimate ties to New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie. Given the private prison industry’s dependence on immigration-detention contracts, the huge contributions of the prison lobby towards drafting Arizona’s recrementitious immigration law SB 1070 are all but unexpected. While the administration of Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer is lined with former private prison lobbyists, its Department of Corrections budget has been raised by $10 million, while all other Arizona state agencies are subject to budget cuts in 2012’s fiscal year. 

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this obstinate moral predicament presents itself in the private contracting of prisoners and their role in assembling vast quantities of military and commercial equipment. While the United States plunges itself into each new manufactured conflict under a wide range of fraudulent pretenses, it is interesting to note that all military helmets, ammunition belts, bulletproof vests, ID tags, uniforms, tents, bags and other equipment used by military occupation forces are produced by inmates in federal prisons across the US. Giant multinational conglomerates and weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Corporation employ federal prison labor to cheaply assemble weapons components, only to sell them to the Pentagon at premium prices. At the lowest, Prisoners earn 17 cents an hour to assemble high-tech electronic components for guided missile systems needed to produce Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missiles and anti-tank projectiles.

In the past, political mouthpieces of the United States have criticized countries such as China and North Korea for their role in exploiting prisoner labor to create commodity products such as women’s bras and artificial flowers for export. Evidently, outsourcing the construction of the military equipment responsible for innumerable civilian causalities to the prisons of America warrants no such criticism from the military industrial establishment. In utter derision toward the integrity of the common worker, prison inmates are exposed to toxic spent ammunition, depleted uranium dust and other chemicals when contracted to clean and reassemble tanks and military vehicles returned from combat. Prison laborers receive no union protection, benefits or health and safety protection when made to work in electronic recycling factories where inmates are regularly exposed to lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic.

In addition to performing tasks that can result in detrimental illnesses, prison labor produces other military utilities such as night-vision goggles, body armor, radio and communication devices, components for battleship anti-aircraft guns, land mine sweepers and electro-optical equipment. While this abundant source of low-cost manpower fosters greater incentives for corporate stockholders to impose draconian legislation on the majority of Americans who commit nonviolent offenses, it’s hard to imagine such an innately colossal contradiction to the nation’s official rhetoric, i.e. American values. Furthermore, prison labor is employed not only in the assembly of complex components used in F-15 fighter jets and Cobra helicopters, it also supplies 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services, with similar statistics in regard to products such as paints, stoves, office furniture, headphones, and speakers.

It is some twisted irony that large sections of the workforce in America’s alleged free-market are shackled in chains. Weapons manufactured in the isolation of America’s prisons are the source of an exploitative cycle, which leaves allied NATO member countries indebted to a multibillion-dollar weapons industry at the behest of the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon. Complete with its own trade exhibitions, mail-order catalogs and investment houses on Wall Street, the eminence of the private prison industry solidifies the ongoing corrosion of American principles – principles that seem more abstract now, than the day they were written.

Predictably, the potential profit of the prison labor boom has encouraged the foundations of US corporate society to move their production forces into American prisons. Conglomerates such as IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Victoria’s Secret, and Target have all begun mounting production operations in US prisons. Many of these Fortune 500 conglomerates are corporate members of civil society groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). These think tanks are critical toward influencing American foreign policy. Under the guise of democracy promotion, these civil societies fund opposition movements and train dissent groups in countries around the world in the interest of pro-US regime change. With naked insincerity, the same companies that outsource the production of their products to American prisons simultaneously sponsor civil societies that demanded the release of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest – an overly political effort in the on-going attempts to install a compliant regime in that country.

The concept of privatizing prisons to reduce expenses comes at great cost to the inmates detained, who are subjected to living in increasingly squalid conditions in jail cells across America. In 2007, the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) was sent to a West Texas juvenile prison run by GEO Group for the purpose of monitoring its quality standards. The monitors sent by the TYC were subsequently fired for failing to report the sordid conditions they witnessed in the facility while they awarded the GEO Group with an overall compliance score of nearly 100%. Independent auditors later visited the facility and discovered that inmates were forced to urinate or defecate in small containers due to a lack of toilets in some of the cells. The independent commission also noted in their list of reported findings that the facility racially segregated prisoners and disciplined Hispanics for speaking Spanish by denying their access to layers and medical treatment. It was later discovered that the TYC monitors were employed by the GEO Group. Troublingly, the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility (WGYCF) operated by the GEO Group in Mississippi has been subject to a class-action lawsuit after reports that staff members were complicit in the beating and stabbing of a prisoner who consequently incurred permanent brain damage. The official compliant authored by the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center also highlights cases where the administration turned a blind eye to brutal cases of rape and torture within the facility.

The first private prison models were introduced following the abolishment of slavery after the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865, which saw expansive prison farms replace slave plantations. Prisons of the day contracted groups of predominately African-American inmates to pick cotton and construct railroads principally in southern states such as Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. In 2012, there are more African-Americans engrossed in the criminal-justice system than any point during slavery. Throughout its history, the American prison system has shared little with the concept of rehabilitation. Like the post-Civil War prison farms, today’s system functions to purport required labor, largely on a racially specific basis. African-Americans consist of 40% of the prison population and are incarcerated seven times more often than whites, despite the fact that African-Americans make up only 12% of the national population. Once released, former inmates are barred from voting in elections, denied educational opportunities and are legally discriminated against in their efforts to find employment and housing. Few can deny the targeting of underprivileged urban communities of color in America’s failed War on Drugs. This phenomenon can largely be contributed to the stipulations of its anti-drug legislation, which commanded maximum sentencing for possession of minute amounts of rock cocaine, a substance that floods poor inner-city black communities.

Unbeknown to the vast majority of Americans, the US government has been actively taking steps to modify the legal infrastructure of the country to allow for a dramatic expansion of the domestic prison system at the expense of civil rights. On December 31st, 2011, Barack Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) H.R. 1540. Emulating the rouge military dictatorships the US Government has long condemned in its rhetoric, the NDAA introduces a vaguely worded legislation that allows for US citizens to be arbitrarily detained in military detention without due process – might they be predictably be deemed radical, conspiratorial or suspected of terrorism. In a climate of rising public discontent, the establishment media has steadfastly worked to blur the line between public activism and domestic extremism.  In addition to the world’s largest network of prison facilities, over 800 located detainment camps exist in all regions of the United States with varying maximum capacities.

Facing economic stagnation, many Americans have been detained in responder camps as a consequence of publically demonstrating in accordance with the Occupy Wall Street movement launched in New York City. Under the guise of protecting Americans from a largely contrived and abstract threat of fundamentalist violence, citizens have been denied the right of peaceful assembly and placed in detainment apparatuses, managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Documents have been released by the American Civil Liberties Union detailing the Pentagon’s widespread monitoring of public demonstrations and the targeting of individual activists under threat of national security. Co-authored by Senator Joe Lieberman, the Enemy Expatriation Act (HR 3166) gives the US government the power to detain nationals and revoke their American citizenship under suspicion of behavior perceived as terrorism.

This legislation becomes increasingly more dangerous as citizens can be labeled domestic extremists based on their constitutionally protected activism or personal political leanings. In January 2006, a contract to construct detention facilities for the Department of Homeland Security worth a maximum of $385 million was awarded to KBR, a subsidiary of Haliburton. Following the signing of NDAA earlier in 2012, leaked documents reveal that KBR is now seeking to staff its detention centers and award contracts for services such as catering, temporary fencing and barricades, laundry and medical services, power generation, and refuse collection. It would be reasonable to assume that these facilities could be managed in partnership with private corporations such as the GEO Group or the CCA, as many federal and state penitentiaries privatize sections of their facilities to privately owned companies. Declassified US Army documents originally drafted in 1997 divulge the existence of inmate labor camps inside US military installations. It is all but unexpected that the relationship between the upper echelons of government and the private prison enterprise will grow increasingly more intimate in the current climate of prison industrial legislation.

The partnership between the United States government and its corporate associates spans various industries however, they all seek the common pursuit of profit irrespective of the moral and ethical consequence – the human consequence. The increasing influence of the Prison Industrial Complex towards official legislation and economic undertakings signifies a reprehensible threat to basic human rights. Perhaps the issuance of government legislation that leads offenders into detainment for the benefit of private shareholders is the purest embodiment of fascism, as cited in Mussolini’s vision of a Corporate State. Perhaps we all (this author included) fail to grasp the seriousness of these legislations and their implications on our lives.

 

Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent over three decades on death row in the throngs of the American prison system. Prior to his conviction in 1981 for the murder of a white police officer, Jamal was a political activist and President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. Critical evidence vindicating Jamal was withheld from the trial prior to the issuance of the death penalty. Forensic experts believe he was denied a fair trial. On December 7, 2011, the Philadelphia District Attorney announced that prosecutors would no longer seek the death penalty for Jamal. He remains imprisoned for life without parole and continues his work as a journalist from his jail cell in Pennsylvania.

Posted in USA, Human RightsComments Off on Profit Driven Prison Industrial Complex: The Economics of Incarceration in the USA

Smuggle hope into Syria

NOVANEWS

Dear friends,

The Assad regime is slaughtering its citizens and tearing cities apart. The UN has failed to stop the killing, and Avaaz has the only network that is both smuggling medical equipment and journalists in and images and information out. Click to watch this video appeal from Danny, a brave Syrian democracy activist calling on Avaaz for help and chip in now to save lives:

 

This urgent video appeal just came in from one of Avaaz’s brave citizen journalists in Syria — our community may be the only one that can help Danny and his friends before the next massacre.

Right now, the regime is murdering men, women and children and tearing cities apart. China and Russia just handcuffed international action at the UN and gave Assad license to unleash his murder machine to crush the Syrian Spring once and for all. But Danny and the democracy movement are more determined than ever and are urgently asking for our continued international solidarity and support.

Let’s be clear — as embassies close, medical agencies withdraw and journalists pull out, Avaaz has the only network that is both smuggling medical equipment and journalists in and images and information out. The UN has failed, but we can help peaceful democracy heroes like Danny loosen the dictator’s grip on their country. Click here to see Danny’s appeal and chip in now so we can continue our Arab spring campaigning and support for citizen journalists — if 20,000 of us donate now, we can get aid to the most besieged cities and towns before the next attack:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/smuggle_hope_into_syria_q/?vl

Activists like Danny are risking their lives for freedom and counting on our global support. On Saturday, Syria’s brutal forces killed another one of Avaaz’s citizen journalists, a 23-year-old named Omar who was a leader of our 400-strong network of activists as he pulled people from the rubble after a deadly massacre in Homs. Omar died as he lived, photographing the regime’s crimes, helping others and sacrificing for freedom. After the regime kicked the international media out, brave civilians like Danny and Omar have risked their lives to break the news blackout and help 18 of the world’s leading journalists from foreign news outlets into the locked-down country. It’s likely that the images you have seen on your TV or photographs in your newspaper came from this courageous team.

But that is just a part of what the Avaaz project has done. Thanks to the generous support of members across the world, Avaaz is providing a rare lifeline of critical support to the democracy movement in Syria. When activists told us medicines were running out, we set up a smuggling network to deliver over $1.8 million worth of medical equipment into the country, saving thousands of lives. When the Syrian National Council was struggling to present a credible leadership alternative to the world, we organized meetings in the UN, Russia and across Europe to support their work.

Day after day, Danny and Omar and hundreds of other heroes have turned out to film and protest, facing down tanks with no support from international governments. But what happens in the next two weeks will be decisive. This is the pinnacle of the Arab Spring and the global struggle against brutal despots. Together we can secure a lifeblood to the resistance and walk with the brave Syrian people on their journey to freedom. Click to watch Danny’s desperate appeal and make a life-saving donation now:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/smuggle_hope_into_syria_q/?vl

This year people power in the Middle East has taught the world an important lesson — together we are stronger than the fiercest dictator, and fiercer than the most ruthless army. On the streets of Syria, Avaaz is a beloved partner in the struggle for freedom. As one opposition leader put it, “the Syrian people have gained strength from knowing that the world, through the Avaaz community, stands with them.” Together, we have made the impossible possible and with our help Assad’s regime will come to end.

With hope and determination,

Alice, Ian, Antonia, Emma, Ricken, Mouhamad, Morgan, Wissam, Sam, Bissan, Will and the entire Avaaz team

More information:

A Doctor’s Cry for Help as Homs Victims Pour In to a Medical Center [Warning: This is a graphic video not suitable for sensitive viewers]

http://www.overstream.net/view.php?oid=r3tmevemrqn0

At Least 200 Reported Killed in Syrian City of Homs (Washington Post)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/protesters-turn-out-across-syria-but-capital-is-quiet/2012/02/03/gIQAQOqNnQ_story.html

Homs: Bloody Winter in Syria’s Revolution Capital (CNN)

http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/16/world/meast/syria-homs-profile/index.html

Anger After Russia, China Block UN Action on Syria (Reuters)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/05/us-syria-idUSTRE80S08620120205?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=71

Syria Crackdown: Homs Bombarded, Dozens Killed (Huffington Post/Reuters)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/06/syria-crackdown-homs_n_1256699.html

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Smuggle hope into Syria

Open letter in support of professor Terri Ginsburg; appealing to N. Carolina Supreme Court

NOVANEWS

Terri Ginsberg was a visiting film studies professor at North Carolina State University when she was dismissed after sharing views critical of Zionism and the state of Israel. (You can read prior coverage of her case in Muzzlewatch, the Electronic Intifada and in Ha’aretz). She filed a grievance with the university, which denied her a hearing – three times. So she took her case to the courts. Two lower courts have decided against her, and she is now appealing to the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

In the words of an open letter co-sponsored by The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), the Center for Constitutional Rights, JVP-Westchester and others:

At North Carolina State University, shortly after Dr. Terri Ginsberg made supportive political comments at a screening of a Palestinian film in 2007, she went from being the favored candidate for a tenure-track position to being denied even an interview. Her efforts at redress were summarily rejected by NCSU and two courts.

A jury should be permitted to decide whether NCSU’s real reason for firing Dr. Ginsberg was its hostility to her political views, but this legal right has been denied.

You can sign the letter here.

While the judgments against Ginsberg have been disappointing and frustrating, the litigation process forced the university to go on record citing their suppression of Ginsberg’s free speech. As Ginsberg writes in her blog,

The case entered litigation in December 2009. In May 2010, the parties underwent a mediation hearing mandated by the State of North Carolina at which no settlement was reached. A week of depositions followed, during which NCSU admitted that it suppressed my speech critical of Zionism and supportive of the Palestine liberation struggle while I was under its employ as a visiting professor, and that it chose not to interview or hire me for a tenure-track position because of my scholarship focusing on Palestine/Israel, the Middle East, and the “Jewish.” Amazingly, the University claims that it has the right to suppress, refuse and reject on the basis of these considerations!

Ginsberg’s Supreme Court appeal makes it clear that this case has implications on multiple levels: this is an issue of academic freedom, in which the university dismissed an instructor because they disliked their politics. It’s also a case of employee protections, or lack thereof, because it was Ginsberg’s politics, and not her performance, that led to her dismissal.

In her own words,

On December 20, 2011, we filed a Petition for Discretionary Review with the North Carolina Supreme Court of this outrageously cursory and dismissive  opinion (see new article in Associated Press). The petition argues that the Appellate Court decision, like that of the lower court before it, changes the standard of proof in summary judgment employment decisions, wrongfully preventing the case from a hearing before a jury. The ruling thereby eviscerates the academic freedom protections which North Carolina’s constitution provides, and gives employers carte blanche to discriminate on employment decisions. It also sets a bad example for other states in failing to protect the academic freedom of professors and, in effect, narrowing the scope of speech to which students may be exposed. [emphasis added.]

The news here is that Ginsberg is NOT giving up. The university has admitted that they objected to her views on Israel and Palestine. Ginsberg has lost her job and lost countless other job opportunities because of this experience, and young people in North Carolina and at other schools are missing the opportunity to study with this courageous scholar. But Ginsberg is fighting back. You can support her. Sign this petition.

 

 
   

 


 


 


 

 

 
 
 
 

Posted in Campaigns1 Comment

Book Burning in Arizona

NOVANEWS

Book Burning in Arizona

by: Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

(Photo: LearningLark)

Do you support Truthout’s reporting and analysis? Click here to help fund it.Disposable Knowledge and Disposable BodiesThe great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it…. A violently active, intrepid, brutal youth – that is what I am after … I will have no intellectual training. Knowledge is ruin for my young men. 
     -Adolf Hitler
They that start by burning books will end by burning men.
     -Heinrich Heine
 

 
Every once in a while, events flash before us that might, at first, seem trivial or commonplace given how in tune they are with the political and ideological temper of the times; but, in reality, they sometimes contain a hidden order of politics and flight from social and moral responsibility that convey a frightening truth about the dark authoritarian forces driving American society. Such forces are often associated with a passion against equality, driven by an appeal to nationalism and defended as an act of patriotism.  In actuality, the willingness to defend persistent and deeply rooted forms of racial, economic and social inequality is often driven by a fear of those deemed “other,” whose presence, voices and ideas defy the crippling registers of intellectual conformity and forms of knowledge that merely reinforce “common sense,” the status quo and right-wing populism.
 
Resentment and contempt for equality cross over into bigotry as such forces propel conservative politicians and anti-public bureaucrats to punish those marginalized by race and ethnicity while also attempting to eliminate those public spheres, bodies of knowledge, and social relations that give voice to the complex histories of difference and the multilayered cultures and bodies of knowledge that allow the designated voiceless to narrate themselves. The policies that accompany this politics of resentment, bigotry and contempt towards those deemed as pathological and disposable promote a form of racist-inflected anti-intellectualism whose goal is to regulate those ideas, individuals and groups that offer a different – and, often, critical – reading of history, politics, culture and the social landscape.Current acts of censorship and state racism are dressed up as a form of ideological purity and moral certainty that attempts to cleanse the broader polity of those modes of remembrance that allegedly sully and contaminate American culture and character.
 
 Such acts contain traces of an earlier authoritarian ideology that was fundamental to the shaping of the totalitarian states of Germany and the Soviet Union in the first part of the 20th century.For instance, in April 1933, the authorities of Nazi Germany ordered a literary purge – a burning of books, papers, and artworks considered degenerate because they allegedly undermined what was defined as “pure” German language, culture, and traditional values. Authors whose works were burned for harboring dangerous ideas and troubling knowledge included Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, John Dos Passos, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Andre Gide, George Grosz, Franz Kafka, Andre Malraux and Karl Marx, among others. All of these authors apparently published works that threatened the gatekeepers of ideological purity and political fundamentalism.
 
The identification of such nefarious works led to the passage of a series of laws in which censorship and the burning of books were quickly followed by, as Heinrich Heine notes in the above epigraph, the burning of men, women, children, and others deemed a threat to the Nazi politics of ideological and racial purity.Within a short time after the book burnings, the Nazis passed the Nuremberg Laws, institutionalizing the racial theories embraced by the Third Reich. Under these laws, anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents was defined as a Jew, subject to legal restrictions that revoked their right to citizenship in the Reich, forbade them “to fly the Reich or National flag,” and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of “German or related blood.”[1]In such instances, laws were introduced to legitimate what might be called legal illegalities – states of exception in which certain individuals and groups, as Giorgio Agamben has noted, could be punished with impunity because the juridical apparatus was now shaped by a notion of governance and sovereignty that had no respect for matters of justice and the democratic rule of law.[2]
 
The state of exception and the laws that produced it then became indistinct. The power of the courts and the crafting of the law were shaped by a perception of the other as deviant, inferior and a threat, while the courts and the law simultaneously provided a justification for both subjugating such groups and making them expendable.These events might seem far removed from a country such as the United States, which makes repeated claims to support democratic institutions, humanitarian values, human rights and equality. Yet, within the United States today, there are an increasing number of events signaling not only the emergence of elements of authoritarianism, but also the failure of a society to come to grips with the frightening truth that American democracy is under siege and is giving way to forces that are utterly indifferent to the values and ideals of a viable democracy.For instance, within the last decade under President George W. Bush and President Obama, we have witnessed an undeniable attack on civil liberties through legislation – extending from the passage of the Patriot Act of 2001 to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 – which gives the government the right to conduct warrantless surveillance, detain American citizens indefinitely and use the power of the military to detain suspected terrorists in the United States.[3]
 
This is not all. The United States government now has the legal power to assassinate “any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism,”[4] kidnap citizens and non-citizens and transfer them to other countries to be tortured, suspend due process, expand the prison system, and do all of this covertly under the protection of state secrecy laws. It can remain silent with impunity while government officials, including a former president and vice president, sanction state-administered torture. As politics became an extension of war in the United States, particularly in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 2001, national security and the ever-widening net of militarism have trumped any appeal to democratic rights. With the looming edifice of the national security state casting its shadow over the United States, Jim Garrison offers a critique of the NDAA that goes to the heart of the dark clouds of authoritarianism that are gathering over the nation. He writes:

The question screaming at us through this bill is whether the war on terror is a better model around which to shape our destiny than our constitutional liberties. It compels the question of whether we remain an ongoing experiment in democracy, pioneering new frontiers in the name of liberty and justice for all, or have we become a national security state, having financially corrupted and militarized our democracy to such an extent that we define ourselves, as Sparta did, only through the exigencies of war?[5]

Indeed, it increasingly appears that the United States has given up on its claim to democracy, however tainted its democratic ideals may have been before 9/11.Authoritarian societies mark their presence in more ways than the suspension of civil liberties and the ongoing militarization of everyday life. They are generally preceded by a formative culture – notable for its hatred of critical thinking, disdain for the truth, and devaluation of compassion, civic courage, and social responsibility. This is a formative culture whose pedagogical task is to create subjects who are mobilized by fear, self-interest, political affiliation or ignorance to invest emotionally and politically in regimes that cripple the public’s sense of agency. Such regimes immerse people in “a language that erases everything that matters”[6] and offer them a space in which they can assume the role of detached bystanders, indifferent to the demands of ethical responsibility and justice for all.
 
 In a society that elevates a survival-of-the-fittest ethic to a national ideal, there is no room to appeal to human solidarity or call for a moral response to instances of suffering and widespread racial targeting.In fact, at the present moment in American society, human solidarity and democratic values are scorned just as a moral response to the plight of the other is viewed with disdain and seen as a sign of weakness. Witness the culture of cruelty touted by the current run of Republican presidential candidates, who barely blink when asked about how capital punishment embodies the legacy of slavery, who unapologetically suggest that child-labor laws be suspended so poor youth of color can work as janitors in their schools, or who endlessly complain that the poor lack a work ethic and are undeserving of social protections.[7]
 
 Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich believe that the social safety net, rather than being inadequate, is overextended and promotes a nation of dependents, an army of unrepentant moochers, creating what right-wing politicians and anti-public intellectuals call an “entitlement society.”The supposed cure in this case is simply to abolish the safety net and let the free market work its delusional magic, so that the poor, elderly, sick, unemployed and homeless can rely upon their own resources to take care of themselves. In the meantime, the contemporary neoliberal mantra to downsize, privatize, outsource and deregulate continues to promote economic policies characterized by moral and political lawlessness.
 
 At the same time, high priests of casino capitalism remain undeterred in their drive to accumulate capital for the few while promoting planetary immiseration for everyone else.    What’s missing in the right-wing analysis of the issues facing Americans is not merely any sense of compassion or social responsibility, but any understanding of the social and economic costs of such policies. While the political rhetoric marshaled by politicians such as Gingrich and Romney is as delusional as it is cruel and unjust, the real issue at work here is the price to be paid in any society for these types of political and economic measures. Not only do such norms and policies create massive inequalities in wealth, income and power, they also produce practices that are responsible for massive amounts of human suffering.The fact of the matter is that under the regime of neoliberal capitalism in the United States, social spending is vastly inadequate, given that 39 percent of all adults and 55 percent of all children live on or below the poverty line.
 
 Approximately 146 million Americans – that is, 1 in 2 Americans – are low-income or poor.Making matters worse, as blogger Diane Sweet points out, is the lack of affordable housing: “approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are homeless, many of them veterans…. In addition, 1.6 million kids are homeless at some point in a year.”[8] In the richest country in the world, over 30 million are unemployed and 50 million are without health care, while 1.4 million filed for bankruptcies in 2009.[9]Under such circumstances, politics works to create heartless and savage zones of abandonment, or what Achille Mbembe calls “death worlds” – a form of “death in life.”[10]
 
Hollowed out and stripped of its civic functions, politics takes as its first priority creating the conditions for corporations and financial institutions to act without restraint, while modalities of hypermasculinity, unchecked individualism and armed power become the measure of national greatness. The formative culture that supports such a politics is one in which the celebration of market fundamentalism and war are destined to become the most enduring symbols of the American way of life. Given the current emergence of these authoritarian tendencies in American society, Arundhati Roy offers a prophetic warning:

Today, it is not merely justice itself, but the idea of justice that is under attack. The assault on vulnerable, fragile sections of society is at once so complete, so cruel and so clever – all-encompassing and yet specifically targeted, blatantly brutal and yet unbelievably insidious – that its sheer audacity has eroded our definition of justice. It has forced us to lower our sights, and curtail our expectations.[11]

As Roy rightly argues, the ground in which the formative culture of authoritarianism takes root – and is, then, sustained – can be located among those abstract realms of law, policy and national security. What is often revealed in associated practices, values and discourses is that an unrelenting desire to pursue the imperatives of justice – which should be fundamental to any viable democracy – is redirected to achieve something like its opposite: the individual’s right to the “pursuit of material self-interest” at any social cost; an ardent and uncritical admiration for consumerism and unfettered markets; a persistent indifference to the rise of “broken highways, bankrupt cities, collapsing bridges, failed schools, the unemployed, the underpaid and the uninsured”; and a disdain for the public sector so venomous that it seeks nothing less than the death of the social.[12]
 
 Business- oriented pedagogies now merge with a politics of fear and revived and unapologetic racism in order to facilitate the rule of an uncivil society that trades in terror, exclusion, racial segregation, “ardent consumerism and Hobbesian anarchy.”[13] What we are witnessing in the United States is the rise of a right-wing political and economic class that wants to take the country back to the inequalities and social cruelties that marked Gilded Age of the late 19th century.[14]It is worth remembering the period in the late 19th century when giant corporations and robber barons controlled state and national politics and subjected blacks, women, immigrants and the poor to the savage rule of free market capitalism, leaving the disadvantaged on their own, and, often, defenseless, to confront the effects of the structural violence and ideologically powered social Darwinism that shaped the forces governing their lives.[15]
 
It was also a period in which dissent was viewed as un-American, and those who had the courage to speak out against political corruption were treated with disdain, often subject to police brutality or simply fired from their jobs. Furthermore, it was a period in which racial and ethnic differences, rather than bigotry, were seen as the enemy of democracy. Historical memory was whitewashed, regarded as sacred and only worthy of an unquestioning adoration, rather than the respect that came with critical dialogue, thoughtful interrogation, and informed judgment and debate. Cultural memory’s claim to historical legitimacy was invalidated because it was invoked to devalue the truth by erasing from history those narratives, stories and modes of analysis that challenged the dominant histories written by the elites in order to serve the interest of those privileged few who controlled the commanding economic, political and cultural apparatuses of the times. These tarnished dominant histories and their legacy of distortion are on the rise again.
 
As our contemporary social order convulses, the American public stands witness to a symptomatic and troubling rebirth of those dark forces shaping the institutional structures and policies of the Gilded Age, now celebrated by the financial elite with an unabashed arrogance. Yet, perhaps no historical precedent aspired to reach the depths of moral emptiness, political corruption and savage cruelty that characterizes those bankers, hedge fund managers and financial tycoons who have swindled away the wealth of the working and middle classes in order to make themselves one of the wealthiest and greediest classes on the face of the globe. But with egregiously unequal wealth and power comes more than privilege.
 
There is also the use of unlimited resources to devalue, marginalize, and punish those individuals and groups that desire to share in the wealth, abundance, and opportunities that nourish what has been called the American dream. Critical thinking, informed judgment and literacy itself have taken a hit as an obsession with profit margins has eclipsed the value of wisdom, the civic functions of the arts and humanities, and the complex labor of creating a diverse body of informed citizens. The call to competitiveness hides a deep fear, if not hatred, of those considered expendable, foreign or unreliable consumers. At the current moment in American history, the merging of the punishing state, an increasingly persistent racism, and a growing inequality in wealth and income has produced an America comfortably settling into a moral coma and a politics of fear and resentment.[16]
 
Two recent events in Arizona provide flagrant examples of what might be called the emergence of a virulent racism in the service of repressive educational policies and cultural practices fueled by anti-democratic and authoritarian interests. The first event involves the banning of ethnic studies as a result of the passage of Arizona House Bill 2281, which forbids public schools, as well as charter schools, in the state from offering courses that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group” or “advocate for ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”[17] Crafted at a time when Arizona is at the forefront of a number of states in enacting a right-wing offensive that produces anti-immigrant and anti-Latino opinions, sentiments, and policies, the law was designed not only to provide political caché for Arizona conservatives seeking political office, but also to impose regulations “which [would] dismantle the state’s popular Mexican-American/Raza Studies programs.”[18]
 
In one highly popularized incident, the current Tea Party conservative Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal – making good on an earlier claim that he would “stop la raza” – notified the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) that, as a result of the new law banning ethnic studies, the popular Mexican-American studies program was in violation of the ban and TUSD would lose $15 million in annual state aid unless it was terminated. The program was eventually eliminated in spite of the fact that it was credited “with reducing dropout rates, discipline problems, poor attendance and failure rates among Latino Students.”[19]
 
The attack on ethnic studies was soon followed with a decision by the TUSD board to ban a number of books associated with this field of study. The list of removed books, in some cases literally taken out of the hands of crying students, includes classic texts such as “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years,” published by Rethinking Schools; “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos,” by Rodolfo Acuna, and the internationally acclaimed “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” by Paulo Freire. In an attempt to eliminate any texts or class units where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes,” the TUSD board also banned Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest.”What is important to note about the book-banning structure is that it applies to a school district not only founded by a Mexican-American, but also one in which more than 60 percent of the students are from a Mexican-American background.
 
As author Jeff Biggers suggested, the racism at work in this form of “book burning” is not so hidden in that “the administration also removed every textbook dealing with Mexican-American history, including “Chicano!: The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement ,” by Arturo Rosales, which features a biography of longtime Tucson educator Salomon Baldenegro. Other books removed from the school include “500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures,” by Elizabeth Martinez, and the textbook “Critical Race Theory” by scholars Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic.”[20]There is more at work in the attack on ethnic studies and the banning of books considered dangerous to children in the Arizona schools than the rise of Tea Party politics and specific acts of censorship (this would be a typical liberal interpretation of these events).
 
 There is also the emergence of deeper structures of a systemic racism and the increasing mobilization of neoliberal ideology to justify the ongoing attacks on people of color, immigrants and those considered other by virtue of their class and ethnicity.In the first instance, race is not ignored. On the contrary, it is either coded as a style, a commodity, or devalued as a criminal culture and defined as a threat to a supposedly under-siege white, Christian nation. What follows, then, is that race is more and more erased as a political category and reduced to the narrow parameters of individual preference, psychology or prejudice. Privatizing race preserves the dominant power structures that produce modes of structural racism that extend from racial discrimination to racial exclusion practiced by schools, governments, banks, mortgage companies and state policies, among others. 
 
 To read more by Henry A. Giroux or other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.Within this type of privatized discourse, racism survives through the guise of neoliberalism as a kind of repartee that imagines human agency as simply a matter of individualized choices – the only obstacle to effective citizenship and agency being the lack of principled self-help and moral responsibility. Privatizing racism functions as a racial mythology that both encourages individual solutions to socially produced problems and reveals a false sense of conceit used by those who claim that racism is nothing more than “a psychological space free of racial tension.”[21] Even worse is when racism is disavowed, yet appears in another guise through a language of punishment that persecutes and demonizes anyone who even raises the charge of racism. For instance, As writer and Censored News publisher Brenda Norrell makes clear:

students … protesting the elimination of the [Tucson School] district’s Mexican-American studies program, have – without a hearing – been directed to perform janitorial duties this Saturday: an amazing message, right out of Newt Gingrich’s playbook (he has been campaigning in the GOP presidential nomination race, proposing the idea that students should be hired as janitors to teach them a work ethic). Apparently, TUSD administrators are paying attention.[22]

Meanwhile, many of the institutions that deal with youth – schools, juvenile detention centers and the criminal justice system – continue to adopt punishment strategies instead of addressing systemic racism. This is evident, for example, in the rise of zero-tolerance policies in schools – which disproportionately punish African-American youth – but is also evident in many routine disciplinary practices.The fear is that ethnic studies can be taught in ways that provide a critical reading of history, power, ideas and institutional mappings. This is viewed as dangerous by conservatives and white supremacists because classroom learning can be used to expose specific modes of racial exclusion, class inequalities, and the ongoing punishing and silencing of the voices of young people.
 
 What many of the newly elected Tea Party ideologues recognize is that critical pedagogy has the power to challenge persistent racial injustice in the United States. More importantly, they fear the role that such a pedagogy can play in empowering minority students to become informed citizens who might exercise their rights by changing the fundamental institutions and power structures that affect their lives.  How else to explain Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s claim that ethnic studies courses address particular groups, promote ethnic resentment, teach rudeness and do not teach individuals – even when an audit commissioned by Arizona’s right-wing Superintendent of Schools proved all of these claims false?[23] What is ignored in this updated notion of racist blabber is that racial hierarchies are rooted in unequal relations of power and make a significant difference in influencing people’s lives and shaping contemporary American society. As sociology professor Charles Gallagher explains:

[t]his approach erases America’s racial hierarchy by implying that social, economic and political power and mobility is equally shared among all racial groups. Ignoring the extent or ways in which race shapes life chances validates whites’ social location in the existing racial hierarchy while legitimating the political and economic arrangements which perpetuate and reproduce racial inequality and privilege.[24]

Not only has Horne invoked racist attacks against Mexican-Americans for over a decade, but he also has a long history of criminal behavior, including being banned for life from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As a Tea Party favorite, he has been able to indulge his anti-immigrant racism with impunity, particularly since assuming public office in a state whose tough immigration laws have elevated it to one of the most high-profile states targeting and waging a racist attack on immigrants and all Latinos. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal has become the most prominent public figure defending the banning of ethnic studies and the books associated with it. Biggers’ characterization of Huppenthal as “the Sheriff Arpaio of Ethnic Studies” may be understated.[25]
 
 Huppenthal has been a spokesperson at Tea Party gatherings, attended a rally where “participants openly called President Obama a ‘Nazi,'” and stated that the Mexican-American Studies program produced modes of indoctrination similar to what was replicated in the education of the Hitler Youth – that is, the Hitler Nazi Jugend paramilitary organization.[26]Huppenthal has argued for modes of pedagogy “based on the corporate management schemes of the Fortune 500.” What is clear is that he lacks any understanding of education unless it is shaped largely by market-driven values and dominant power structures. Hence, it is not surprising the he has dismissed the work of the internationally celebrated educator Paulo Freire, because Freire used the word “oppressed” in the title of his most famous book. Huppenthal dismisses the author of “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” as a Marxist and a demagogue, revealing that he knows nothing about Freire’s philosophical grounding in the work of liberation theology, humanism, linguistics and a range of other fields. Nor does he know anything about Freire’s work on critical literacy, dialogue, empowerment and social responsibility, or the principle that education should be used to prepare children for a more ethically just life.[27]
 
Huppenthal appears both confused and confusing in that he argues without irony that banning books is the best way to teach kids how to think critically.[28]Buried beneath Arizona’s new mode of education, pedagogy and politics is a return to a frightening antidemocratic ideology and a set of reactionary policies. This turn to censorship – banning ethnic studies and critical thought in general – suggests a new intensification of the cultural wars of the 1980s and represents a new and determined effort to make sure public and higher education do not enfranchise emerging generations of Mexican-American “others” marginalized by race and class.[29]
 
Huppenthal, Horne, and their government employed talking heads target critical thinking, literacy and informed dialogue as the enemy of education, and any historical narrative that challenges the status quo is dismissed as indoctrination because it may be provocative and unsettling – more threatening, apparently, to Huppenthal’s own identity than to the identities of the students who have actually taken the Mexican-American Studies courses and repudiate his arguments. His claim that teaching courses in Mexican-American studies promotes racial resentment is simply a cover for his own racist disdain for knowledge that troubles right-wing views of a conflict-free narrative of American history. If Huppenthal had his way, US classrooms would only be permitted to teach the Donald Trump/Walt Disney view of history, one that celebrates the growth of corporations, the pioneering role of business in promoting progress throughout the world, the centrality of the military in American life, the ethos of the 19th-century robber barons, and an uncritical view of American society based on white Christian narratives and principles.
 
Horne, Huppenthal and their ilk recognize that the continuing significance of race generates contested meanings of history, challenges traditional modes of curricula and knowledge, implies taking seriously the diverse histories and complex voices of students, and raises serious critiques about the discriminatory and disciplinary practices that minorities of class and color are subjected to in America’s public schools.[30] Haunted by the specter of anti-racist critiques, pedagogies, and social relations, Horne and Huppenthal attempt to eliminate those critical pedagogies that would make visible the need to interrogate the histories, cultural artifacts, texts, and policies that sustain complex forms of racism and racial exclusion in the schools, government, and other commanding edifices of the larger society.
 
 Thus, there is more at work in Arizona’s state-sponsored attack on ethnic studies than the conceit of racist and academic neutrality. School policy functions, in this case, as part of a much larger design by the American right to leave its own distorted history behind while erasing all of those public spheres, languages, pedagogies and modes of critique that provide the pedagogical conditions for constructing critical agents that make a democracy functional.Arizona is but one example of how, at the current moment, what goes into American culture, what is aired in the media, and what is taught in both public and higher education is being intensely policed by right-wing fundamentalists in all sectors of society. What this points to is a war being waged aggressively against immigrants, youth and those deemed disposable.
 
We are witnessing the rise of new zones of punishment, abandonment and exclusion, and the growing perception of the other as deviant, inferior, threatening, and expendable becomes a justification for the subjugation of the immigrants and poor people of color. This emerging reality needs to be understood as part of a broader war waged on young people, especially those marginalized by class, race and ethnicity, and as an attack on the formative cultures that make a democracy possible.Consequently, the pressing question now becomes, what role do various cultural apparatuses, including schools, play in creating the formative culture and institutional foundation for a growing authoritarianism?
 
 What the banning of ethnic studies and its archive of critical literature makes clear is that any pedagogy that challenges “common sense,” stands up for the values of freedom and reason, points to a more just world, and embraces public values that promote democracy is not only dangerous to many right-wing ideologues and reactionary politicians, but is also targeted for erasure from the public schools and, increasingly, from the culture at large. The example of Arizona can show us how cultural pedagogy in the form of school curricula such as Mexican-American studies is truly intimidating to racist conservatives because it offers histories that include the voices of the oppressed and marginalized and presents knowledge that may open the prospect of “encountering the self through the otherness of knowledge … bring[ing] oneself up against the limits of what one is willing and capable of understanding.”[31]
 
The pedagogical notion that things are not what they seem to be, that the maxims that justice demands the “translation of responsibility into the language of society” and that a “‘just society’ is a society which thinks it is not just enough” poses a real threat to the right-wing demagogues, particularly those who now shape American educational policy.[32]Banning courses that might provide a critical voice to the oppressed as well as expand the ethical and political horizons of those not oppressed constructs as its enemy any pedagogy that attempts to empower young people by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and values needed for self-development, critical agency, autonomy and civic responsibility. What is dangerous to Tea Party ideologues is not simply the presence of books and courses that harbor critical ideas, but the possibility that this kind of learning may persuade young people to contest the modes of education produced in and out of schools and encourage them to engage in antiracist struggles over the distribution of institutional power and its material effects.
 
 These idealogues understand – and fear – forms of critical development that translate ideas into social movements engaged in a struggle to democratize resources, power and equal access for everyone in society.This essay began with a comment on book burning by the Nazis. I return to this reference because we are now at a point in US history when we are incorporating many authoritarian elements of the past into the current social order. Racial exclusion takes many forms and operates through diverse material and ideological institutions and practices – including antidemocratic modes of persuasion and violence. What must be recognized in this instance, in addition to the threat to democracy posed by such practices, is that, for democracy to survive at all, it needs to nourish critically informed agents.
 
 It requires young people willing to give constant attention to those relations of power, institutions and public spheres that make a real claim to democracy. To become indifferent to the formative culture that enables informed judgment, critical consciousness, civic courage and social responsibility is to strip democracy of any meaning, to make it hollow, if not meaningless – and in doing so, to prepare the way for an updated, 21st-century mode of authoritarianism.In other words, what we see happening in Arizona poses a threat both to critical education and to the very nature of democracy itself. Not only does it represent the growing marginalization of youth of color, but it also speaks to a larger war, in which certain bodies, histories and modes of knowledge become pathologized and viewed as disposable. This is a war in which bodies disappear, histories are erased and democracy is left in ruins.
 
The Arizona censorship of ethnic studies, the destruction of associated knowledges and the silencing of dissent is one of those events that flash before us in ways that might at first suggest nothing more than a silly, irrational or anomalous happening. But that is far from the actual case. Placed within a long view of history, it clearly signals the formation of those antidemocratic forces waiting in the shadows for an opportune moment to enshroud the entirety of the United States in what the philosopher Hannah Arendt once called, “dark times.”
 
 Endnotes
 
 
2. Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), especially pp.71-115.
 
3. See, for example, Glenn Greenwald, “With Liberty and Justice for Some” (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2011).
 
4.  Jonathan Turley, “10 Reasons the U.S. Is No Longer the Land of the Free,” Washington Post (January 13, 2012).
 
5.  Jim Garrison, “Obama’s Most Fateful Decision,” Huffington Post (December12,2011).
 
6. Angela Y. Davis, “Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture” (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005), pp. 90-91.
 
7.  See Paul Krugman, “Romney Isn’t Concerned,” New York Times (February 12, 2012). See also Paul Thomas, “Gingrich’s Strategy: Racism,” Daily Censored (January 25, 2012).
 
8. Diane Sweet, “3.5 million homeless and 18.5 million vacant homes in US,” Occupy America (December 30, 2011).
 
 
10. Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics,” translated by Libby Meintjes, Public Culture, 15:1 (2003), p. 21.
 
11. Arundhati Roy, “Peace and the New Corporate Liberation Theory,” The 2004 Sydney Peace Prize Lecture, Sydney Morning Herald (November 4, 2004).
 
12. Tony Judt, “Ill Fares the Land” (New York: Penguin, 2010), pp. 2, 12.
 
13. Jean and John Comaroff, “Criminal Obsessions After Foucault: Postcoloniality, Policing, and the Metaphysic of Disorder,” Critical Inquiry 30 (Summer 2004), p. 84.
 
14. Robert Reich, “The Rebirth of Social Darwinism,” Robert Reich’s Blog (November 30, 2011).
 
15. I have written about the emergence of the second Gilded Age in great detail in Henry A. Giroux, “Twilight of the Social” (Boulder: Paradigm, 2012); Henry A. Giroux, “Youth in a Suspect Society” (Boulder: Paradigm, 2009); Henry A. Giroux, “Public Spaces/Private Lives” (Boulder: Paradigm, 2003).
 
16. This theme is taken up brilliantly in Susan Searls Giroux, “Between Race and Reason: Violence, Intellectual Responsibility, and the University to Come” (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010).
 
17. See “Fact Sheet on Arizona House Bill 2281,” Ethnic Studies Week, October 1-7, 2010. The legislation can be found here.
 
18.  Jessica Calefati, “Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies,” Mother Jones (May 12, 2010).
 
19. Roxana Rahmani, “Arizona HB 2281 Aims to End Ethnic Studies in Tuscon,” Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (April 16, 2011).
 
20. Jeff Biggers, “Who’s Afraid of ‘The Tempest’?” Salon (January 13, 2012). See also the important work of Roberto Cintli Rodriquez who has made a number of important contributions on the attack on indigenous voices, culture, and history. See his blog at: http://drcintli.blogspot.com/ See also, Roberto Cintli Rodriguez, “Arizona’s ‘banned’ Mexican American books”, The Guardian, (January 18, 2012). Online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jan/18/arizona-banned-mexican-american-books?newsfeed=true 
 
21.  Charles Gallagher, “Color-Blind Privilege: The Social and Political Functions of Erasing the Color Line in Post Race America,” Race, Gender, and Class 10:4 (2003). Some of the best work written on critical race theory can be found in a number of books by David Theo Goldberg. See, for example, “The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism” (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008).
 
22. Brenda Norrell, “Tucson Schools Bans Books by Chicano and Native American Authors,” The Narcosphere (January 14, 2012). 
 
 
24.  Gallagher, “Color-Blind Privilege.”
 
25. Jeff Biggers, “Will Tucson School Board Stand Up and Defend Ethnic Studies?” CommonDreams.org (January 9, 2012).
 
 
27. All one has to look at in this case is some of Freire’s later work. For instance, “Pedagogy of Hope” (New York: Continuum Press, 1994) and “Pedagogy of Freedom” (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1999).
 
 
29.  This theme is taken up brilliantly by Christopher Newfield in his examination of the culture wars that have plagued higher education in the 1980s. I believe his theses extends to the attack on public education as well. Well worth quoting on the issue, he writes: “To oversimplify somewhat, conservative elites who had been threatened by the postwar rise of the college-educated economic majority have put that majority back in its place. Their roundabout weapon has been the culture wars on higher education in general, and on progressive cultural trends in the public universities that create and enfranchise the mass middle class. In “Unmaking the Public University,” I show that the culture wars have coincided with the majority’s economic decline for the simple reason that these wars propelled the decline by reducing the public importance and economic claims of the American university and its graduates. While most commentators have seen the culture wars as a distraction from economics, I show that the culture wars were economic wars. They sought to reduce the economic claims of their target group—the growing college-educated majority—by discrediting the cultural framework that had been empowering that group.” Christopher Newfield, unmaking the Public University (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 208), p. 6.
 
30.  I have taken up this issue in great detail in Henry A. Giroux, “Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?” (New York: Palgrave, 2010). See also Christopher Robbins, “Expelling Hope: The Assault on Youth and the Militarization of Schooling” (New York: Suny Press, 2008).
 
31. Roger I. Simon, “A Shock to Thought: Curatorial Judgment and the Public Exhibition of ‘Difficult Knowledge,'” Memory Studies (February 25, 2011), pp. 2. See also Deborah Britzman, Lost Subjects, Contested Objects: Toward a Psychoanalytic Inquiry of Learning (Albany: State University of New York, 2003).
 
32. Zygmunt Bauman and Keith Tester, “Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman” (London: Polity Press, 2001), p. 65, 63. 

Posted in USA1 Comment

Laughing Example of Media Wallowing in Willful (Evil) Ignorance

NOVANEWS

by Tom Valentine

 

Watch this video of the MSNBC election night “experts” for a solid example of controlled media evil at work. There is a good chance you did not see it as MSNBC is the lowest rated of the cable news networks since the multitudes of oxymoron’s prefer Fox.

 

They are reporting one big fact from the Florida Primary election, that the only “Happy” candidate is Ron Paul, who did not waste time and money on Florida.

It is what the giggling pundit tells his audience about Ron Paul that is such an egregious lie that galls me.

Note, Matthews, a veteran of decades in Washington DC, who proudly boasts he once worked for Tip O’Neill during the Reagan era in order to give his leftist punditry an aura of authority.

We may assume that Matthews is educated and skilled in the bullshit of Washington, so he surely must know, that immense crap has hit the fan in this country since the collapse and bailout events at end of the hated GW Bush era.

With that in mind, ask yourself why he spins the establishment lies that Ron Paul is “wacky” with his obvious truth-telling about the Fed, and about the insane wars.

Note how this arrogant prick makes fun of the probable fact that Americans have no idea about Sarbanes-Oxley, the Law enacted in 2002 after the Enron scandal; in a belated, alleged effort to curb abuses. Ron Paul vows to repeal such vainglorious Laws and return Liberty to markets.

None of television’s pundits, who are hung up on the polls of the mindless voters, ever explain why Paul’s ideas are “Whacko”, because they cannot do so with any sense of logic or truth, only that the present establishment says so, while displaying a morbid fear of Ron Paul’s truths.

Surely Matthews knows that Ron Paul has made his case against the criminal monetary policies of the private banker cartel, If he doesn’t he should turn in his pundit badge. Also, how the hell does Matthews miss the fact all politicians are sellouts to filthy lucre? When children grasp it in a minute?

This video report is a goldmine of truth about the mindset of this motor mouth pundit on the third string network; Even so, MSNBC reported the facts with more accuracy than Hannity, O’Reilly et. al.

The college kids carrying water for Ron Paul are ignoring their professors and following their instincts. 

 

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New York Times-Style Journalism

NOVANEWS 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Like other major media scoundrels, New York Times writers, op-ed commentators and editorials fail the test. They’re biased, shameless and irresponsible, especially on issues of war and peace.

Times tradition dates from 1896 when Ochs-Sulzberger family members took control. Thereafter, it’s played the lead print role distorting, censoring, and suppressing truth and full disclosure.

Its shameful record includes:

  • supporting wealth and power interests;

  • backing corporate interests against popular ones mattering most;

  • cheerleading imperial wars;

  • ducking major issues like government and corporate crimes, sham elections, America’s duopoly power, an unprecedented wealth gap, and lost civil liberties and social benefits; and

  • backing regime change in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria, mindless of international laws prohibiting it.

The record of the “newspaper of record” produces misinformation masquerading as real news, information and opinion. Its slogan “All The News That’s Fit to Print” fails on truth and full disclosure.

Its war against Iran is longstanding. Against Syria, it’s more recent. It promotes regime change in both countries. On January 31, Times writer Rick Gladstone attacked them in his article headlined, “As Syria Wobbles Under Pressure, Iran Feels the Weight of an Alliance,” saying:

Pro-Western anti-Assad insurgents increased “pressure on (him) to step down….” As a result, “his main Middle East supporter, also finds itself under siege, undermining a once-powerful partnership and longtime American foe.”

If Assad falls, “Tehran would lose its conduit for providing military, financial, and logistical support to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.” Both Israeli opposition groups “considered terrorist organizations by Washington, have vast arsenals of rockets and other weapons.”

No evidence corroborates anti-Iran/Syria/Hezbollah/Hamas accusations. Ignored are sovereign country rights, international law, Lebanon’s legitimate Hezbollah-led government, and Hamas’ democratically elected Palestine one.

Neither espouses terrorism. Nor do Iran and Syria. In contrast, Washington and Israel pose grave terror threats. Both are nuclear armed and dangerous. They threaten preemptive strikes against invented threats. Neither has real ones.

Not according to Times-think. It stokes fear to promote conflict and regime change lawlessly.

Numerous articles and opinion pieces promote Washington’s imperial agenda. In 2011, Libya was target one. Before that Afghanistan and Iraq. Now it’s Iran and Syria.

On January 31, Times writer Neil MacFarquhar headlined, “At UN, Pressure Is on Russia for Refusal to Condemn Syria,” saying:

Both sides “skirmished over a draft Security Council resolution proposed by Morocco (serving Washington) that calls for (Assad) to leave power as the first step of a transition toward democracy.”

Ignored were international law issues. Among others, the 1933 Montevideo Convention explicitly prohibits interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. So does the UN Charter. Nations doing so are criminally culpable. None are more guilty than Washington, Israel, and rogue NATO partners. In contrast, Iran and Syria threaten no one.

Yet MacFarquhar blamed Russia for blocking Security Council actions. In fact, Moscow’s resolute against Washington replicating its Libya model. Various language revisions left considerable wiggle room for war.

Russia’s determined to prevent it. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “Russia will not support anything that is imposed on Syria.” He firmly opposes anti-Assad resolutions. He called replicating “another Libya” disastrous. China’s view is similar. Both have Security Council veto power. Lavrov promised to use it.

He and others also assailed Syria’s externally generated insurgency. Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr-al Thani spuriously blamed Assad’s “fail(ure) to make any serious effort to cooperate with us.”

Syrian Observers Report

It contradicts al Thani. It called many of the 166 team members too old and/or too ill for their task. Mission head General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi praised Assad’s cooperation. He also said:

“Regrettably, some observers thought that their visit to Syria was for pleasure. In some instances, experts who were nominated were not qualified for the job, did not have prior experience, and were not able to (fulfill their) responsibility.”

On January 18, Arab League Secretary-General General Nabil Elaraby suspended their mission. He said violence undermined it, dismissing the competence issue al-Dabi raised and reports about about Assad’s cooperation.

He also ignored a “confidential account of the League’s mission.” Turtle Bay obtained it. It shows monitors lacked proper staff and equipment. As a result, their mission was undermined from inception.

On January 30, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov insisted that Security Council members are briefed on its findings. Washington and rogue allies dismissed them out of hand. They call Arab League efforts a failure, saying their report adds nothing new.

One conclusion recommends Arab governments continue mediating for peaceful conflict resolution. Al-Dabi wrote:

“The mission….sensed the acute stress, injustice and oppression endured (by) Syrian citizens. Yet they are convinced that the Syrian crisis must be resolved peacefully, in the Arab context, and not internationalized so that they can live in peace securely, and achieve the desired reforms and changes.”

He also sharply criticized the ineptness and indifference of mission observers. He recommended reinforcing them with 100 more members, “preferabl(y) young with military background(s), 30 armored vehicles, protective vests, vehicle mounted cameras, and night vision binoculars.”

In addition, he said:

“It should be stressed (that) performance shortcomings will be addressed and remedied with further practice and guidance, God Willing.”

He stressed no mission mandate for addressing a widening conflict, pitting heavily armed insurgents against Assad’s government. In Homs and Daraa, for example, opposition elements used “thermal bombs and anti-armor missiles” supplied by foreign governments.

Al-Dabi said “The mission was witness to acts of violence against government forces and citizens leading to death and injury of many. A case in point was the attack against a civilian bus which killed eight persons and injured others, including women and children.”

Foreign insurgents were responsible. The Times and other Western media scoundrels quoted monitor Anwar Walek’s reason for quitting the team. He called the mission a “farce,” saying:

“What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime is not just committing one war crime, but a series of crimes against its people. The snipers are everywhere shooting at civilians. People are being kidnapped. Prisoners are being tortured and none were released.”

In response, al-Dabi said “Malek did not leave the hotel for six days and did not go out with the rest of the team into the field giving the excuse that he was sick.”

In other words, he saw nothing and lied. Media scoundrels regurgitated it. It’s standard practice, supporting lawless US imperialism against nonbelligerent countries.

Washington and rogue partners accused Assad of manipulating the monitoring mission to gain time to crush armed insurgents. Al-Dabi disagreed, saying their mission’s vital to Syria’s stability, adding:

“Any termination of the work of the mission after this short term will undermine the positive results – even if incomplete – that have been achieved so far. This may result in complete chaos on the ground (if) parties are neither qualified nor ready for the political process which aims at resolving the Syrian crisis.”

He, Assad, and most Syrians want peaceful resolution. Washington, rogue allies, and major media scoundrels promote war and regime change.

Civilians, of course, always suffer most and have grievously since early 2011. Washington and complicit allies share blame.

Assad’s unfairly condemned for their crimes. Don’t expect NYT writers, op-ed commentaries and editorials to explain. Truth and full disclosure’s not their long suit.


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Pakistan-Afghanistan, Washington’s Managed Chaos Backfires

NOVANEWS 

US foreign policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan

by  Colonel Eugene Khrushchev (ret),

 

What Will the Legacy of Enduring Freedom Really Be?

Washington’s policy of “managed chaos” has backfired in Afghanistan and  Pakistan. 

VT Editor, Colonel Eugene Khrushchev says the  US excelled at chaos building but has yet to succeed at managing it.

The sleep of reason brings forth monsters.

­El sueño de la razon produce monstruos.

­  …Francisco José de Goya

­Afghanistan is in dire straits due to the United Kingdom’s ‘divide &  rule’ colonial legacy and an unholy alliance with the United States  circa Charlie Wilson’s endless War, which mutated from carefully  inflamed anti-Soviet insurgency into anti-American jihad.

The  most notorious hallmark of British Great Game machinations and resultant  invasions is the Durand Line, which arbitrarily sliced through  Pushtunistan, planting an irredentist time bomb between Afghanistan and  Pakistan.

While artificial demarcation has neither been  addressed nor defused, it has continually undermined Afghan-Pakistani  and American-Pakistani security cooperations via cross-border sorties  and gunfire on both sides of the Durand Line.

The catastrophic  success of the proxy war, led by the CIA from Pakistan, denied the USSR  its strategic intent to modernize Afghanistan on par with Soviet Central  Asian republics and to forestall violent extremism on its southern  flank.

The Cost is Never Equally Shared

However, this Pyrrhic victory quickly unraveled with  Afghanistan sinking into anarchy and civil war, culminating in the  full-fledged blowback which rocked the United States on 9/11.

Since its inception, the US overt invasion in Afghanistan, codenamed  Operation Enduring Freedom, has been plagued by a profound  misunderstanding of the root cause of the problem and, consequently, a  decade-long wild goose chase for an elusive victory with no end in  sight. Thus, the vicious circle of mission creep has inexorably set in.

A  meaningful, long-term, cohesive and comprehensive US strategy towards  Afghanistan and Pakistan has been a non-starter from day one.

Having  been defenestrated by the Manichean paranoia and messianic crusade of  the previous administration’s neo-con cowboys, further attempts at  resuscitation have been thwarted by internal bickering within the White  House Afghan Team and perennial inter-agency turf battles.

A  crystal-clear strategy has been hijacked by a smorgasbord of fuzzy  tactical adjustments that have been hyped, tried and failed in an orderly fashion.

It began with counter terrorism’s ‘small foot print’, then to the fancy ‘ink-blot’ security spread, followed by the COIN-lite  ‘condition,  clear, hold & build’ population-centric doctrine,  which was  abruptly superseded by the bizarre ‘fight, talk, build’ triple chase.

In  Afghanistan, Washington ignored Bert Lance’s quip, ‘if it ain’t broke,  don’t fix it’, echoed by Colin Powell’s maxim ‘you break it, you own  it’.

Will Enduring Freedom be Our Enduring Tar Baby

As a result, America is wrestling with a Hindu Kush tar baby– the longest and one of the most expensive US military occupations  in history.

Thanks to US foreign policy wonks’ strategically blind flight of mind, Afghanistan has degenerated into the epicenter of  the Global Drug War against humanity.

Over the last 10 years, it has wiped out 1 million people abroad, while Al-Qaeda Central in Pakistan  has successfully metastasized in the Arab Peninsula as well as the  Maghreb.

The only way to save the day and avoid a disgraceful  dénouement for the USA is to jettison ‘feel-good’ political correctness  and the conventional ‘more of the same’ mentality.

As an opener,  the question should be not ‘what can America do for Afghanistan?’ but  ‘who could extricate America from Afghanistan? with a follow-up poser:  ‘how to rescue the future of Afghanistan from its past and present  demons of destruction?

­Sleeping Station

­Historically speaking, Afghanistan has never been a top priority for the US in the grand scheme of things. Initially the country was relegated to the bottom of the State Department’s pecking order with ‘benign  neglect’ as a cheesy substitute for a vigorous foreign policy – for  better or worse.

 

­Observation Post

­As the Soviet Union kept expanding its bilateral relations with  Afghanistan, the US Embassy in Kabul was ordered to wake up and train a spyglass on the growing economic and trade cooperation between the two  countries.

Without much hoopla, a dormant diplomatic mission was  reactivated as an intel shop, the first CIA footprint in Afghanistan, to be expanded later into a narco-terrorism R&D field lab.

 

­Quiet Competition

­When the USSR embarked on a full-scale central planning infrastructure build-up in Afghanistan, the United States, however reluctantly, reacted in kind – sort of – as a CIA low-key eavesdropping mission was beefed up with USAID window-dressing.

All in all, in the Afghan economic  stand-off between the USSR and the USA, the Soviet Union won hands down, having strictly adhered to a long-term ‘win-win’ strategy  vis-à-vis its neighbor, while the United States was dabbling in a  haphazard catch-up game against its Cold War sworn foe on the opposite side of the globe.

 

­Tendency towards dependency

During this unprecedented period of tranquility and development, it  seemed like the countervailing pressures of socialist vs. capitalist competition allowed Afghanistan to enjoy the best of both worlds. As one US diplomat quipped at the time,

‘Kabul prefers to strike American cigarettes with Soviet matches’.

From then on, the country’s successive rulers, having being spoiled by the superpowers’ economic competition, devolved into freebie junkies hooked on foreign investment and aid – to the detriment of national  sovereignty, self-determination, as well as social and economic  development.

 

­Clarion call

­After the victory of the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan (the Afghan  Spring) and the Islamic Revolution in Iran (the Persian Spring), within a year the USA had lost two adjacent springboards in its ‘sphere of  interests’ to project its military power and directly threaten the  southern borders of the USSR.

Suddenly, gripped by a siege mentality and Cold War paranoia, the United States jettisoned all false  pretenses to ‘aid’ Afghanistan.

Having failed to demonstrate and  explore the advantages of capitalism vs. socialism, the US bells and whistles policy in Afghanistan went down the drain and the White House  went ballistic.

 

­Target of opportunity

­As the State Department and USAID were consigned to the backseat, the CIA and USIA took the steering wheel to drive home a newly unfolding  mission: to arrest an alleged Soviet thrust towards the Indian Ocean.

In  a rare consensus between the Pickle and Fudge Factories of US intelligence and foreign services, Afghanistan was quickly identified as the most vulnerable high-value target to hit the Soviet Union where it hurts.

 

­Wilson’s War 1: Anti-Soviet jihad

­

Congressman Charlie Wilson Moonlighting in Afghanistan

An Executive Order – signed by the US president and endorsed by the US  Congress – set in motion the largest crusade against the USSR since the WW2.

The immediate goal was, under the cover of plausible deniability,  to create a proxy force in Pakistan to destabilize and conflagrate  Afghanistan; with the follow-up to provoke the Soviet Union to come to the rescue, and the ultimate goal to entrap the USSR in a bleeding war of attrition.

The US Information Agency, in order to create a  United Front against the Soviet Union, overtly orchestrated a global  propaganda and disinformation campaign, whipping up media frenzy over  the Kremlin’s allegedly nefarious foreign policy.

In perfect unison with the USIA, the CIA covertly conducted psychological  operations in Afghanistan to foment anti-Soviet sentiments and promote radical Islamization in Pakistan to harbor, finance and train wannabe  Afghan jihadists.

 

­Damned if you do and damned if you don’t

­

Did Afghanistan End Up a Cold War Football?

The Soviet gerontocracy was suddenly struck with a stark dilemma in  Afghanistan: to abandon a long-time, though fragile, friend under mounting internal and external pressures, or to succor its next-door neighbor by proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the USSR was an  all-weather ally and true-blue partner.

At a time when the United States couldn’t have cared less, the  Soviet Union was the first foreign power to recognize Afghanistan’s  independence and sovereignty, thus establishing amicable diplomatic and trade relations – without any hidden agenda of ‘vital interests’  directed against other states in the region.

While multiple adventures in Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world were  ideologically motivated by the Cold War stand-off, Soviet foreign policy in Afghanistan was an exception rather than the rule.

Since its inception, it was based on a steady strategy of social and economic  development through accelerated industrialization and universal education, what in current terminology would be properly described as an  open-ended commitment to nation-building.

There was another important factor which came to the fore as a security risk: unlike faraway brotherly Cuba, Afghanistan was the nearest neighbor whose political stability and territorial integrity were exposed to irredentist claims by Pakistan, which had been recruited as the US’s  ‘indispensable ally’ against the Soviet Union.

Contrary to USIA  malicious innuendo, the USSR wasn’t itching for a casus belli to ‘invade  and conquer Afghanistan, eradicate Islam and impose atheistic Communism’.

At the time, the Brezhnev Doctrine of peaceful  coexistence and détente was anything but Trotsky’s idée fixe on  permanent revolution. Rather, the Politburo had become a parody of its  former self when compared with the bygone Comintern era, schlepping through its last years as an octogenarian club of status-quo apparatchiks.

Leonid Brezhnev speaks at 18th Komsomol Congress opening

The agonizing decision-making process in Moscow was focused not on a panzer blitzkrieg, but rather on an incremental  remedial course to mitigate the Stalinesque excesses of the Kabul  revolutionary leadership and to solidify and protect a successful Soviet  legacy of comprehensive long-term development in Afghanistan.

And that’s exactly what the CIA was aiming for. However, what was supposed to be a Soviet quick-fix palace coup and stability and peacekeeping  follow-up, ended up as an American-led ‘jihad’ in Afghanistan, conducted from Pakistan as asymmetrical guerrilla warfare by the pre-paid and trained proxy force.

Thus, the USSR took the bait and got trapped into a nine-year-plus war of, with the Soviet Armed Forces’ robust ability to address the insurgency’s root cause compromised by the  Politburo’s skittish unwillingness to give the marching orders to cross  the border and nip the Pakistani-based American Frankenstein in the bud.

 

­Out of sight, out of mind

­

Soviet Afghan Veterans Memorial

As soon as the 40th Army pulled out of Afghanistan on February 15 1989,  the ‘mission accomplished’ jamboree was swiftly arranged at the CIA HQ to celebrate in anticipation of Wilson’s War victory in Kabul.

In a state of euphoria, the US intelligence community boasted  that the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan would collapse within hours  after the withdrawal of Soviet troops. Oops – it took a little more time, almost three years.

The newly discovered CIA core incompetence was further aggravated by the agency’s unavailing efforts to reconcile and unite the ragtag factions of its rented extremists, the predecessors of the Taliban, into the united political and military  front against a recalcitrant ‘infidel’ government of Afghanistan.

The  USIA open-air propaganda warfare against the USSR in Afghanistan was over, and the pliant mainstream media, as if by a wave of the magic wand, canceled in one day its decade-long PR campaign of rebranding  firebrand assassins for hire as the ‘moral equivalent of America’s  founding fathers’ and ‘freedom-fighters’.

Nevertheless, in violation of a UN-brokered agreement on Afghanistan, the United States  continued its clandestine CIA/ISI joint operation to supply extremist bands with the wherewithal and weapons to dislodge the stand-alone DRA  under the rule of Dr. Najibullah.

When the jihadists had  eventually taken over the country’s capital, the White House briefly indulged in self-adulation – only to pull the rug out from under Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Gates at the CIA – Earlier Days

Dr. Robert Gates, the top CIA spook  who used to be at the helm of the Ghost War against the Soviet Union in  Afghanistan, in his reincarnation as the DOD chief in 21st century,  expressed a reserved regret that the United States had precipitously abandoned Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It was rather a disingenuous statement: the United States couldn’t have abandoned Afghanistan and Pakistan, because it never had any long-term commitment for this particular duo – before or after the Soviet pullout.

In US  foreign policy deliberations, these Cold War ‘allies’ were nothing more than pre-paid expendables in a long-distance proxy war of attrition, to be discarded as spent cartridge shells.

A glaring display of the  cynical approach to bilateral relations and gentlemen agreements – Uncle Sam doesn’t abandon places, it only betrays allies – was a rude awakening to American sidekicks who aspired to be treated as equal and  respectable partners.

A generation later, the US of A still hasn’t formulated any comprehensive strategy that would transcend the  patron/client fly-by-night transactional approach.

Small wonder  that the post 9/11 re-engagement of Pakistan and Afghanistan by the USA  has been met with deep-rooted anti-American resentment in the region.

 

­Wilson’s War 2: Chaosistan: Bellum omnium contra omnes

­In Washington DC an arduous quest to conceptualize chaos theory beyond  the realm of mathematics has been at the heart of iconoclastic  aspirations to tame entropy in foreign affairs as a sine qua non for the  New Global Order, made in the USA for the USA.

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Inspired by management consultant guru Tom Peters’ seminal book,  “Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution”, the stewards  of US National Security have bestowed upon the world the beta versions  of the new foreign policy paradigm: ‘managed chaos’ propagated by  Zbigniew Brzezinski, to be followed by another derivative, ‘creative  chaos’, attributed to Condi Rice.

The place where the theoretically lofty vision faced the crash test in reality was Afghanistan, with  the results falling in full accordance with the law of unintended  consequences as the can of worms was yanked wide open without any  meaningful idea of how to ‘thrive on’, ‘manage’ or ‘be creative’ about  the ghastly content.

When General McChrystal was the US Commander in Afghanistan, in his sales pitch revelation to the Commander in  Chief, he deftly coined ‘Chaosistan’ to evoke the terrifying sensation of preordained apocalypse – lest the surge of salvation failed to get  authorized.

He should have known better: that’s exactly what ‘the freedom fighters’ turned Afghanistan into – Chaosistan – when they interpreted the US freedom agenda as a free license to kill, kidnap  and pillage: anybody, anytime, anywhere.

They claimed to be ‘holy  warriors’, the mujahedin, but their unholy acts of unbridled violence and despicable atrocity against the Muslims of Afghanistan were completely incompatible with the intrinsic notions of Islam and Jihad.

The armed anti-government opposition had a historical opportunity to embark on a path of peace and prosperity for the sake of creating the UAE –  Untied Afghan Emirate – as an Islamic alternative to Islamism,  socialism, capitalism and all other -isms – admired by everyone, feared by no one.

However, for more than 10 years, under the aegis of  the CIA & ISI, with Saudi Arabia financing and Wahhabist  indoctrination, the Afghan and Arab recruits in Pakistani boot camps had honed a different type of skill set: insurgency HR management  (propaganda, intimidation, torture & assassination), IED product placement (infrastructure destruction & demolition), business development (opium poppy cultivation and drug trafficking) and hit-and-run guerrilla tactics.

Afghanistan – Another Day, another Bombing

Left to their own devices, the CIA-sponsored ‘liberators’ happened to be no more than a bunch of rival tribal militias – run by land and drug war-lords – hell-bent on ripping the country into grisly narco fiefdoms.

Ahmad Shah Massoud, the famous Lion of Panjshir, as the spiritual and military leader, was the only patriotic warrior who had the vision and wisdom to save the war-ravaged country from sliding into the abyss of omnivorous anarchy.

But even the revered Hero of Afghanistan didn’t have a silver bullet to reverse the momentum and arrest the excruciating erosion of nationhood  or the abrogation of law and order.

 

­Wilson’s War 3: Jihadistan: The Blowback

Charlie’s Last Words

What was dismissed by the USIA disinformation campaign as Soviet propaganda against noble ‘freedom fighters’ has ricocheted as a self-fulfilling prophecy of the post-mortem Democratic Republic of  Afghanistan.

The moral decay of the Islamic State of Afghanistan and the rise of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was a sweeping  transition from the dollar-driven decadent disorder of rapacious warlords and druglords to the fulminating fundamentalist order of the Taliban.

The common denominator for both regimes, under the guise  of the similarly misleading ‘Islamic’ and ‘mujahedin’ noms de guerre had been their bare-knuckle Islamist and jihadist self-identity,  inherently inimical to the puritanical peace-loving preaching of Islam.

Superficially, as the saying goes, ‘All Pashtuns are not the Taliban, but all the Taliban are Pashtuns’. However, the issue is much more complicated than  that.

Firstly, the Taliban is not in any way, shape or form a national liberation movement of Pushtunistan. Secondly, the Taliban’s definition has been liberally interpreted and perceived as a generic  insurgency against the Karzai regime and the foreign occupation led by the US.

The Taliban is a jihadist network of predominantly Deobandi Pashtuns, including Haqqani and Hekmatyar offshoots, with  Salafi/Wahhabi Arab “message force multipliers” on both sides of the  Afghan/Pakistani border.

A vestige of the anti-Soviet insurgency betrayed by the CIA, the Taliban was reconstituted and rejuvenated as the ‘veritable arm’ of the ISI to fix the anarchy of American ‘freedom  fighters’ and install an Islamabad-friendly government in Kabul.

Even  after the UBL declared global jihad against the USA and redeployed  Al-Qaeda to Afghanistan to partner the Taliban, Uncle Sam, habitually quick on the draw and trigger-happy, was suddenly playing a slow-mo  gun-shy babe in the woods.

Thus, multiple requests by the JSOC  for carte blanche to terminate without remorse ‘the clear and present  danger’, the CIA’s prodigal asset cut loose, had been effectively stonewalled – that is, until 9/11 hit the USA out of a clear blue sky.

 

­Wilson’s War 4: When chickens come home to roost

­

Putin

While President Putin was the first foreign head of state after 9/11 to  convey his sincere condolences to President Bush, for the skeptical Soviet veterans of the CIA Ghost War in Afghanistan, it took a  suspension of disbelief to consider Al-Qaeda, the OGA’s favorite jihadist outfit in the days of yore, as the main and only perpetrator of this heinous crime against the American people.

Without a smoking gun, the official storyline about the true cause of the 9/11 disaster was inconclusive; numerous  botched attempts  to suppress mounting evidence to the contrary or discredit it as a loony conspiracy theory only further ignited sinister suspicions about ‘an inside job.’

The 9/11 Commission, hand-picked by the Bush administration, tried to make the CIA and the FBI designated scapegoats  for failing to anticipate and prevent the sneak attack on the US  homeland.

No doubt, the absence of the US National Security ISR  fusion center, excessive compartmentalization and a lack of  interoperability between US intelligence, counterintelligence and law enforcement agencies, had effectively neutered the early warning system against imminent threats, whether domestic or foreign in origin.

However,  in the broader historical context of US policy making, whatever the  federal agencies do or don’t do – R&D of STD/HIV in Africa, LSD in  America or narco-insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the buck stops right at the White House.

Wilson’s War 1, which was  sanctioned  by the POTUS and launched by America in 1978 as an anti-Soviet jihad in  Afghanistan by a proxy force from Pakistan, boomeranged with a vengeance as the anti-American jihad, the mutated Wilson’s War 4, launched by the usual suspects against their own master.

Both former and current White House officials have yet to come clean and admit that it was the Machiavellian foreign policy of their own making which triggered a chain of events that led to the 9/11 tragedy.

 

­Operation Enduring FUBAR

The 9/11 tragedy could and should have catalyzed deathbed  repentance and soul searching for the US Chief Executive and his  predecessors. A collective catharsis at the White House might have  revealed that:

  • Foreign policy should not be shaped by the exigencies and expediencies of bipartisan internal politics with moral authority and intellectual integrity being swapped for narrow-minded bigotry, messianic exceptionalism and pharisaic duplicity;
  • International relations are a much more complicated and enduring endeavor than a linear quarter-mile drag race; therefore, supercharging the Pentagon power plant with trillion-dollar injections is detrimental to US stability and security and will invariably backfire;
  • To substitute strategy for tactics is a cardinal sin for any commander in chief; to employ the right tactics for a wrong or nonexistent strategy – winning battles to lose the war – only postpones the inevitable debacle and makes it more expensive and humiliating; to pursue the wrong strategy with the wrong tactics is the worst endgame possible.

­Until that enlightening eventuality comes true, US foreign policy,  especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan, keeps mangling the wrong thing wrong, dealing with the devil – ‘freedom fighters’ turned jihadists, warlords and druglords – for the sake of spreading chaos as an excuse  for establishing a permanent  ‘small footprint’ military presence, time and again.

Editing:  Jim W. Dean

 

 

 

 

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