Real History Lessons
Followers of Glenn Beck have described themselves as "students of history" and "historians." Everyone who opposes Beck's racist, reactionary agenda needs to know and bring out the real history of the U.S. and the world in order to, and as part of, politically opposing this agenda.
The situation in the central European country of Ukraine continues to be tense, volatile, unpredictable, and dangerous. What—as we go to press—is contention at the level of economic blackmail and lower-level military moves could erupt very quickly into something even much worse.
Anyone who thinks U.S.-led “arms inspections” or “disarmament” represents a step in the right direction or is anything other than another form of imperialist intervention and bullying needs to study and think about the lessons of Operation Desert Fox.
When I asked this week “When did it become appropriate to hold a vote about whether or not we should commit the “supreme international crime”? I received a comment that
The people who have received your message are probably already convinced of the illegality (or at least immorality) of a US attack on Syria, but efforts to persuade those not yet convinced would be aided by being able to refer to some internationally recognized legal document in which wars of aggression are so characterized and the characterization is explained (because all other war crimes flow from wars of aggression).
Sixty-eight years ago, on August 6, 1945, the United States committed the worst terrorist bombing ever—the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
On August 9, another American A-bomb destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The two blasts were each the equivalent of tens of thousands of tons of dynamite. The heat reached 1,000 degrees Celsius [1,832 degrees Fahrenheit]. The explosions and the radiation cloud they created killed more than 200,000 people, either immediately or over the next few months. Many years of suffering from cancer and other ills caused by radiation poisoning lay ahead for the survivors and their children.
What The Record Shows: Nothing Good Has—or Will—Come from U.S. Imperialist Intervention in Syria or Anywhere Else
The U.S. is increasing its intervention in Syria. The Obama administration recently announced it will begin arming some forces fighting against the current Syrian government of Bashir al Assad. The U.S. says it is getting more deeply involved in the war in Syria for humanitarian reasons—to help the Syrian people, stop the killing and prevent the use of chemical weapons. These are lies—and the basic facts about the results of U.S. interventions over the last 12 years, since September 11, 2001, prove it—and show beyond any doubt that U.S. actions are motivated by imperialism, not humanitarianism, and bring nothing but horrors for the people.
by Joan Roelofs
Saturday, August 11, The New York Times printed a front page article about the nun, Sister Megan Rice, age 82, who committed civil disobedience at the Oak Ridge Tennessee nuclear reservation in a protest against nuclear weapons. The article also informs us that she had been arrested in 1998 protesting at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. The Times then notes that some of the trainees from that school “went on to commit human rights abuses.” You might think of denials of same-sex partner medical benefits, or censorship of soldiers’ mail; in fact, the abuses were (and still are) assassination, torture, and military overthrow of elected governments.
How Americans are efficiently trained to acquiesce to ideas once deemed so radical as to be unthinkable
Remember when, in the wake of the 9/11 attack, the Patriot Act was controversial, held up as the symbolic face of Bush/Cheney radicalism and widely lamented as a threat to core American liberties and restraints on federal surveillance and detention powers? Yet now, the Patriot Act is quietly renewed every four years by overwhelming majorities in both parties (despite substantial evidence of serious abuse), and almost nobody is bothered by it any longer. That’s how extremist powers become normalized: they just become such a fixture in our political culture that we are trained to take them for granted, to view the warped as normal. Here are several examples from the last couple of days illustrating that same dynamic; none seems overwhelmingly significant on its own, but that’s the point:
The Obscene Acts of Unjust War
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In early January, a video went viral on the Internet showing four U.S. Marines in Afghanistan urinating on the bodies of three killed Taliban. The video, which the Pentagon confirmed was authentic and was likely taken between March and September 2011 by another Marine on the scene, immediately drew worldwide condemnation.
by Dennis Loo
Whenever the election cycle starts up, some people tell us that they feel that they have no choice but ”to hold their noses” and vote for the “lesser evil,” by which they usually mean the Democratic candidate (although there’s a right-wing version of this in which they choose the Republican when they’d really rather have the libertarian).
One respondent to a recent Energy Insiders Poll in National Journal about the [Keystone XL] pipeline explained that these groups will reluctantly come back to the President: “Environmentalists will not be happy, but they have nowhere else to go, since they scorn Republicans.”
For the last few presidential race cycles we’ve heard people from the left and from the Democratic Party tell us that “this is the most important election in your lifetime.”
It’s funny how for several times in a row it’s been the “most important election in your lifetime.”
by Dennis Loo
Contrary to most people’s understanding, real political power does not principally exist either by the vehicle of voting or through the publicly displayed actions of the existing political institutions such as Congress and the White House.
Real political power actually rests upon two bases: coercion and legitimacy. The nature and features of the official political institutions are fundamentally irrelevant to this. As the sociologist Max Weber put it, political power is a monopoly over the legitimate means of violence. The hard core of political power, in other words, as I put it in Globalization and the Demolition of Society, is coercion, not the consent of the governed.
Why is violence so critical to political power?