Ending the war

The Long War for oil in the Greater Middle East – from Palestine to Pakistan and from Central Asia to the Horn of Africa – has produced some heroes: Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and their associates.

But we won’t have won until Obama, Clinton, Gates et al. are in cells in The Hague, awaiting trial before an international court, like Milošević. Those out of office, from the Bush and Clinton administrations – and before – by rights should accompany them.

The Nuremberg trials however came only after the collapse of the aggressors’ armies. We can push for that by pointing out the illegality of the use of troops without a declaration of war, and by demanding that our representatives stop voting money for it (as, I’m delighted to say, my Congressional representative – a Republican, Rep. Timothy Johnson – has done, here in Illinois’ 15th CD).

U.S. WAR POLICY VS. OBAMA’S RHETORIC ON REDUCING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

On August 6, 1945, the U.S. detonated an atomic weapon in a defeated Japan, killing 150,000 people. Three days later, a different sort of atomic bomb was dropped on another defenseless city, killing another 75,000.

If there is an argument for the attack on Hiroshima, there can be none for that on Nagasaki – a weapons test with live subjects. And we in America have no memory at all of the “finale” described in the official Air Force history, a 1000-plane raid on civilian targets organized by General “Hap” Arnold to celebrate the war’s end, five days after Nagasaki. According to survivors, leaflets were dropped among the bombs announcing the surrender.

Sixty-five years later the U.S. – the only country ever to use such weapons in war – spends more each year on war than the entire rest of the world. And our country has maimed, killed and made homeless more noncombatants than all the rest of the countries in the world combined since World War II.

If Americans knew what was being done in their name around the world, they would be appalled.

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“Taxed Enough Already”: A Case for the Tea Partiers

[Those in the Tea Party movement, who are frustrated and fed up with American government] shouldn’t be laughed at. It’s not a joke. Ridiculing the Tea Party shenanigans is a terrible mistake. Why are those voices of discontent being mobilized by the extreme Right?”  –Noam Chomsky, 8 April 2010


A correspondent sends an apposite description of the Tea Party protests:

“An astroturf campaign that has become a mass movement”

that is, a fake grass-roots movement begun by business interests, some associated with the Republican party, to prevent tax rises for social spending – but which unexpectedly came to attract many Americans in the wake of the financial collapse and bank bailouts of 2008.

By 2010 the business publication The Economist was describing Tea Partiers as “America’s most vibrant political force.” The name “Tea Party” is a reference to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when British colonists in New England (disguised as Indians) destroyed tea taxed by the British government when the colonists had no representation in the British Parliament. Contemporary Tea Partiers say the first word is an acronym for “taxed enough already.”

Particularly after their protest of the administration’s so-called health-reform bill, the Tea Partiers have attracted hysterical condemnation from supporters of the administration Television news channel and website MSNBC (Microsoft and NBC) has been particularly scornful; The Nation magazine has called for prosecutions for “sedition” [sic]; and leading New York Times columnist Frank Rich has written several columns (“vibrant with class hatred,” says media critic Alexander Cockburn) dismissing the Tea Partiers at length as simply “racists.”

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Although the Media and the President Seem to Ignore it, Americans Continue to Kill and Die in the Middle East. Why?

(Text of the flyer for the regular monthly demonstration by the Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort of Champaign IL, 6 Feb 2010)

It’s not “because of 9/11” or to “stop terrorism,” as President Obama now says. The war is neither just nor legal: the real reason for it seems to be the long-standing U.S. policy of control over the largest oil-producing region of the world. And not because we need the oil ourselves; the US imports very little oil from the Middle East for use here at home. Most of the energy resources that we consume in the US come from the Americas and West Africa. But control of Mideast oil and gas gives the US government a powerful bargaining chip in its relations with its real economic competitors in the world – the European Union and East Asia (China and Japan). That has been American policy for a long time. The National Security Advisor in President Jimmy Carter’s administration (1977-81), Zbigniew Brzezinski (he was also a foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign), observed that control of Mideast energy provides the US with “critical leverage” over its industrial rivals in Europe and Asia, an idea of American government planners that goes back to the end of World War II, in 1945.
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Anti-War Republicans

Whether or not the Republicans do well in the 2010 congressional elections by mobilizing the general dismay with the Obama administration, it seems clear that the Republican opposition to Obama in 2012 will include opposition to his war policy. The question is what form it will take. I’m coming to doubt that it will consist of a call for more war. (That will come from Democrats like Obama’s mentor Lieberman.)

In the presidential elections of 1952, 1968, and 2000, Republican candidates did well by running against the wars being conducted or recently concluded by incumbent Democratic administrations. Eisenhower’s “I will go to Korea,” Nixon’s “secret plan to end the Vietnam war,” and Bush’s opposition to “nation building” (referring to the Clinton-Gore war in the Balkans) all garnered them votes. It’s possible that a more honest debate on the Long War in the Mideast (it’s not about stopping terrorism) may occur because the Republican wing of our one-party government (it’s one business party) may see it as in its short term interest in 2012.

Of course there have been for some time principled opponents of the Mideast war among Republicans, notably the paleoconservatives around the journals “American Conservative,” “Chronicles,” and the website Antiwar.com. See Bill Kauffman’s excellent book “Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism” (2008). And add now the Ron Paulists – their critique of the war is as clear and cogent as Dennis Kucinich’s and has a larger following – and even a not insubstantial group among the Tea-partiers.

The Democrats’ sell-out on the war has been clear since the Kerry campaign – and their betrayal once they got control of the Congress. Obama sold himself to our rulers with the promise that he could bring the dissidents – primarily the anti-war movement – back in, and he largely succeeded. (The segments of “The Audacity of Hope” on the Vietnam war makes particularly instructive reading on this point.)

An effective anti-war movement in the coming year(s) will have to be marshaled against the Democrats’ policies, and of course against the principal commitments of the Republican party as well. But in the short term we might find some Republicans who claim to be fellow-travelers on the road to a principled peace. We shouldn’t immediately try to kick them to the curb, if only because they’ll provide us with opportunities to talk to more people.

News from Neptune #54

News From Neptune on TV for Friday, November 20, 2009

A spontaneous and unrehearsed discussion of the news of the week and its coverage by the media, cablecast each Friday at 7pm on Urbana Public Television (cable channel 6 in Urbana, Illinois).
Joining C. G. Estabrook this week are E. Wayne Johnson and Ron Szoke. Each participant takes up to ten minutes to talk about events of the week; then each takes up to ten minutes to ask the others about what’s been said.
ON THIS DAY IN
1945 – Trials of 24 German government leaders by the victorious countries begin in Nuremberg.
1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis ends: Khruschev agrees to remove missiles from Cuba because U.S. President John F. Kennedy secretly pledges not to invade Cuba, & to remove missiles from Turkey.
1969 – Vietnam War: The Cleveland Plain Dealer publishes explicit photographs of dead villagers from the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

Setting the Agenda for the Intelligentsia

The NYT today publishes a more candid than usual article in its campaign to set the terms of public discussion of US war policy — in a way that will favor that policy.
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Securing Liberty: A Bailout for the Rest of Us

The following are preliminary notes for a talk I was invited to give at the Midwest Liberty Fest in Du Quoin, IL , 9th-11th inst. The meeting included a wider variety of views than might have been predicted; I think it testifies to the failure of the Republicans and Democrats to constrain political debate within the tenets of neoliberalism (which was constructed a generation ago to suppress the challenging and creative political ideas of “the sixties”). For at least a decade, according to Harvard’s Vanishing Voter Project, about 75 percent of Americans have felt that even presidential elections don’t matter, that they’re just some kind of game being played by rich contributors, party bosses, and the media. That seems right to me, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the politics grown outside that carefully fenced garden should contain some luxuriant varieties, along with some quite sensible critiques. They’re perhaps the beginning of a more serious politics in America, which seems to need to be repristinated every generation or so.

From May ’68: “le vote ne change rien; la lutte continue.”

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“Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.” –Noam Chomsky