Category Archives: Military Doctrine

Zionism and Protestant Fundamentalism: The Role and Genesis of Apocalyptic Thinking

From a great study, Ancient Israelite Zion Theology, Judeo-Christian Apocalypticism, and Biblical (Mis)Interpretation: Potential Implications for the Stability of the Modern Middle East, by Taylor Halverson:

What were the causes that led to the catastrophic defeat and destruction (of the Kingdom of Judah first and of the second destruction of the Temple by the Romans)?…(It) had to do with the misinterpretation and misapplication of a popular theological notion, Zion Theology, which led many of the leaders and people of Judah to believe that they were impervious to Babylonian threats.

God was on their side; not even the Babylonians could assail such an awesome power. This misinterpretation of a theological concept contributed to Judeans severely misreading the political and military situation of their day and thus helped to precipitate the very crisis Zion Theology ostensibly promised to avert…

In essence, Zion Theology comprised three core, though originally independent but mutually reinforcing beliefs.

First, God had made eternal promises regarding the perpetuity of the Davidic dynasty. Davidic kings were God’s anointed earthly representatives. Though relevant to Zion Theology, not least because the idea of eternal kingship of the Davidic line was related to the eternal kingship of God at his temple, this paper will primarily focus on the next two aspects of Zion Theology.

Second, God had chosen Zion (i.e., Jerusalem) as his earthly abode and that evidence was visibly manifest through the physical structure of the Jerusalem temple, the symbol of God’s enduring presence. As long as the temple stood, God’s glory was undeniably there.

Third, God was a divine warrior who provided unassailable protection against all antagonistic forces natural or human. This protection was believed to extend from the temple to encompass the entire city of Jerusalem and by extension all her citizens…

In a nutshell, apocalyptic thinking in the Christian theological tradition assumes that the end of the world is soon to happen when in the midst of terrible suffering and chaos God will come, destroy evil and suffering, and lift up the oppressed and the righteous to live in peace. This Christian idea derives in part from Israelite theological Zion traditions…There is a long historical trajectory of apocalyptic theology among Biblical interpreters, much of it misguided.

Also note the hubris and the tendency to see the enemies of Anglo-Zionism as paper tigers. This view bizarrely goes right along with seeing every enemy as an existential threat.

In other words, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Salvadoran revolutionaries were and are existential threats to the almighty United Snakes, yet on the other hand, all of them can be smashed by The United Samson States like flies with a swatter. The same idiocy and insanity was seen in the run-up to the Iraq War, when Saddam Hussein was on the verge of wiping out the entire US with his bullshit WMD’s, while on the other hand, the United Samsons could easily destroy him (and anyone else for that matter) with the bat of an eye.

This ridiculous and near-psychotic combination of extreme paranoia combined by omnipotent hubris in which any enemy can be immediately destroyed by the US Leviathan has long characterized US foreign policy and the insane mindset of the average Moronican. “They are going to kill us all” applies to all US enemies – even the most petty, absurd and ridiculous of enemies is always on the verge of genociding the entire City on a Hill. Yet at the same time, there is no contest between the US military Leviathan and any adversaries.

This lunacy, a psychosis of which the majority of Moronicans are afflicted, is what enables such madness as a country that spends more on its military than the entire rest of the world combined needing to continuously ramp up military spending amongst constant bipartisan screaming that the US military is about to crumble before our eyes due to chronic weakness.

The endless ramping up of military spending even in recessions/depressions and times of austerity (such austerity of course never applying to the military) is enabled by the fact that Moronicans will never resist any increase in military spending, no matter how great it is, how bad the economy is, or how unnecessary it is. America is possibly the most militaristic nation on Earth and has been for some time now. Hardly anything to be proud.

Of this idiocy and insanity can be found in spades in the absurd nation of Israel. Israel can defeat any enemy or combination of enemies with a single slap, but on the other hand, the tiniest band of broke, poorly armed and luckless guerrillas or terrorists is always an existential threat to the silly Zionist nation, which is forever on the verge of a Second Holocaust yet nevertheless laughs at any pitiful enemy that might come its way.

This combination of absurd hubris, grandiosity, arrogance combined with diminution and mocking of any enemies or potential enemies is combined in the Jews with a preposterous over the top paranoia in which most of the planet is forever on the verge of exterminating every Jew on Earth.

The moral to the story is that the Jews are insane. But they’ve always been nuts. If you compare the US and Israel above, you can see that Israel’s nuttiness is precisely America’s nuttiness. Indeed, for a long time now, America sees the world through Israeli eyes. Israeli or more properly Jewish thinking has colonized Americans’ minds for a long time now, ever since the Six Day War. It was not always this way. During the Suez War in 1956, Eisenhower (a conservative!) properly told the Israeli, British and French colonial powers to get lost and cut off support for all of them amidst threats to each one.

Since 1967, the Zionization of America and the Americanization of Israel have continued apace to the point where there is scarcely any space between the two, and they are neatly merged into one country – Jewmerica, USreal, call it what you will.

We are all Jews now!

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Filed under Antiquity, Christianity, Geopolitics, History, Iraq War, Israel, Jews, Judaism, Middle East, Middle Eastern, Military Doctrine, Modern, Regional, Religion, Roman Empire, USA, War, Zionism

13% of the US Military Are Illegal Aliens


Rightwingers used to say that the US military was full of illegals, but the very idea that there would be even one illegal alien in the military whose status was known to his superiors seemed so insane that I had a hard time believing it and dismissed it as the usual rightwing lies and insanity.

It turns out that in this case, the insane is indeed fact. Illegal aliens make up a full 13% of our US military forces.

If you are an illegal alien and you want to get legalized, here is what you do:

Go down to the US military recruitment office and tell them you are an illegal alien who invaded the United States and that you want to join the US military so you can become legalized. The recruiter will shake your hand and guide you through the process. Provided you are accepted, you are in like Flynn. Serve a few years in the service, and your crime of sneaking into the US to steal jobs from Americans will be given the official stamp of approval. You are now legalized.

Excuse me, but this is absolutely insane. There should not even be one single illegal alien in our military with the knowledge of their superiors. That 13% of the US military is made up illegal alien criminal invaders to our land is completely insane and totally outrageous. In fact, it’s so nuts that it even beggars belief.

And this is a good example of just how nuts liberalism is on certain issues. I admit that liberals can be lunatics. And it is on the issue of illegal aliens that the insane side of liberals comes into full flower.


Filed under Illegal, Immigration, Liberalism, Military Doctrine, Political Science

The Most Corrupt, Evil Place on Earth

From here:

Having lived many years in India, this doesn’t surprise me in the least. It is one of the most corrupt, evil places on earth. I have never seen more Bentleys in the roads as I have in New Delhi, driving on broken, ill-maintained roads, while on the footpaths beggars slowly starve to death in the suffocating, filthy air.

The article is about Indian abuse in Kashmir. The research team looked at 50 villages in Kashmir. Those 50 villages were served by 50 special Indian torture centers. 50 torture centers for 50 villages. They also found that 1 in 6, or 16% of Kashmiris, had been tortured. In many cases, fingernails were pulled out and bones were smashed, especially in the hands and fingers. Others had their feet chopped off. One man had his arm chopped off and then was forced to eat it.

A recent scandal caused mass disturbances all over Kashmir. Three local men disappeared around the same time that Indian soldiers were seen burying three bodies near the Line of Control with Pakistan. It later turned out that the 3 men were offered jobs by the Indian army. They were then taken to an Indian military base near the LOC and murdered for the reward money that is given out for killing insurgents. That is, innocent men were murdered and then called insurgents solely so the soldiers could collect fake reward money.

The news caused a huge stir and the Indian government promised an investigation which has never taken place, which makes sense as nothing good or decent can ever come out of Hindu India.

This revelation set off a wave or riots all over Kashmir as mostly young people pelted the occupying Indian army with stones. News media started to filter in, but soon the crackdown was underway. 5,300 Kashmiris were arrested, mostly minors. After they were released, it was found that most were tortured. Bones in the hands and fingers were crushed and then the boys were hung from the ceiling. Gasoline poured into their anuses, and they were forced to sodomize each other while the Indian army took movies of it.

50 torture centers for 50 villages.

So far, over 6,000 unmarked and mass graves have been found. In one mass grave of over 200 bodies, 80% of them had been mutilated. In the 50 villages, 2,000 cases of extreme torture were uncovered. That is 40 torture cases per village. Tortures included branding, waterboarding, electric shocks, striping flesh with razors and piping gasoline into anuses.

This was not a case of a few rotten apples. This was a systematic project of the Indian Army. Attorneys who tried to investigate these cases were shot, abducted, tortured and murdered, attacked with hand grenades and tear gas, all by the Indian Army. The most prominent human rights attorney in Kashmir has been assaulted repeatedly, and the Indian Army has tried to kill him repeatedly. His Hindu partner was murdered by the Indian Army.

This sort of thing is par for the course in any insurgency, and the governments of Turkey, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Indonesia and the Philippines have all done the same thing, all with the 100% support of the United States of course. In many cases, Israel helped train the torturers and murderers.

In any decent country, you would have vast numbers of the population protesting against these grotesque abuses. This is what makes these lands civilized – that there is a segment of the population that opposes the Nazi like tortures and slaughters. However, in Hindu India, such voices are rare. I have met many Indian Hindus, and every single one would have supported all of the abuses that I listed above 100%. In fact, it is hard to have a conversation with an Indian Hindu about Kashmir because they usually start getting angry, yelling and shouting, pounding the table, etc.

India seems to be in a league of its own, a nearly Satanic quagmire or debasement, evil and corruption.

Nothing good will come out of Hindu India any time soon.


Filed under Asia, Corruption, India, Kashmir, Military Doctrine, Regional, South Asia

Israeli Spies in Syria

They are good, very good, very, very damn good. Nobody is better than the Mossad. As much as I hate Israel, I must admit that. It is important to respect your enemy in warfare, especially if they are very good. I remember in one recent war the top general kept a portrait of his counterpart of the other side on his desk every day, and he looked it all the time. He had no hate for the man, and he had utmost respect for him. This is the way to fight war!

I am sorry that Syria did not build that nuclear plant and then develop those nuclear missiles. I would love it if Syria had nuclear weapons. That would be so cool!


Filed under Israel, Middle East, Military Doctrine, Nuclear Weapons, Regional, Syria

North Korea Primer

Repost from the old site.

By now you surely have heard that North Korea has a nuclear bomb and has tested it, although the bomb appears very small, the test did not go well, and it has not yet been put on top of a missile. I am not at all worried about this bomb, though maybe I should be.

I have been studying North Korea for years, and this is the basis for my carefree attitude about their nuclear bomb. They simply are not going to use it in an aggressive manner as it is strictly for defensive purposes.

For those reasons, I actually support North Korea’s getting a bomb, as I figure they will never use it anyway (unless we are so stupid as to attack them) and it is only them having a bomb that keeps us from attacking them.

I think all sane, rational countries being threatened by nuclear powers should have the right to get WMD’s to defend themselves. Most countries in the world qualify as sane, and certainly North Korea does. All the nonsense about “crazy Kim Jong Il” is just US propaganda crap. For an example of an insane, irrational country that should never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon, consider the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

I actually dislike the regime intensely, but there are positive notes amidst all the terror of the gulags and the corruption of the elite.

For one, I really feel that Kim Jong Il has been trying his best to feed his people, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of capitalist regimes in the Third World, whose governments do not make the tiniest efforts to feed anyone, as this is seen as the responsibility of the individual.

The World Bank, the IMF and the US government routinely try to attack and even destroy such governments if they try to feed their people. Jean Bertrand Aristide, for example, was overthrown at gunpoint by the US, France and Canada, in part because he was spending large sums to give millions of poor Haitians one free meal (lunch) a day.

The World Bank and the IMF usually demand that these governments scale back or terminate any government feeding programs in order to continue to get loans from these institutions.

My understanding is that the northern part of Korea has never been able to feed its people, even before the Communist regime. I suppose it has always either relied on imports from Southern Korea or China, or else, if that was not forthcoming, it simply lacked enough food. The country is very cold and mountainous with rocky soil and it is hard to get crops to grow there.

Some background on the famine: North Korea had the worst floods in 100 years in 1995 and 1996, followed by the worst drought in 100 years in 1997, which also involved famine. All this happened after the economy collapsed in 1990 with the loss of Soviet economic cooperation.

To give you an example of what was involved in this 1990 collapse, note that the price of oil immediately climbed by 1000% (10 times) in the space of a year. They simply could not purchase enough oil to run their factories and farms so the whole country pretty much shut down.

For those enamored of the theory that Communist states like Cuba and North Korea can only be maintained by massive aid from outside to “keep them afloat”, we should note that from 1946-1960, South Korea received 4 times the aid to South Korea as the Soviet Union was giving to North Korea. For most of the 1950’s, the US provided 50% of the entire budget of South Korea. Which state is the welfare case, anyway?

The US has been deliberately trying to destroy their economy from Day One so we should talk about their economic problems. Right now, we are trying to cut off the regime from the entire world banking system. This means that factories that make consumer goods have been unable to import the materials necessary to make those products.

During the starvation crisis of the 90’s, my perception is that the world did not exactly step up to the plate for avert the crisis. The US continued embargoing North Korea, as they have since 1950, and as they did during the Great Leap Forward famine of 1959-1962 in which 15 million Chinese died while the US scurried to block all food aid.

The embargo has recently been strengthened in an effort to cut off the North from the world financial system. The US and other nations played politics with the food aid during the famine, a disgusting display of cynical Realpolitik in my opinion.

Regarding the number of deaths in the famine, anti-North Korean polemicists claim that 3-4 million people died. Fine, they can claim that all they want but they need to prove it. The Asian Development Bank says that 500,000 died*. Others put the figure at 600,000.

It was a terrifying, nightmarish time and the horror stories from the era seem for the most part to be true.

It is useful to note that even at the worst of the starvation in the 1990’s, the rate and degree of infant mortality, starvation and malnutrition per 1000 people only began to approach, but did not reach or surpass, the same rate as India experiences day in, day out, every single year, including this one.

So, what happened in North Korea from 1995-1997 has continued to occur on a greater scale and to the same degree every year since then in India. So how come we don’t hear how India starves its people? It should be noted that the regime has not been able to feed its people for the last 10 years and 40% of the youngest generation are stunted from malnutrition.

North Korea has liberated women to a radical degree – there are more college-educated women than men. The regime does an excellent job of taking care of orphans (especially) and children in general.

There are many orphans. – 30% of the population of North Korea was killed in the war, mostly by US carpet bombing, often with napalm, that was frankly terrorist warfare – a devastation comparable in degree to those experienced by Poles, Russians and World Jewry in World War 2.

The US, under Curtis LeMay, destroyed just about every city and town in North Korea, often with blatant napalming of entire cities. When napalm was invented in 1945, no one imagined that it would be used wholesale against entire cities.

As early as 1952, almost every civilian in North Korea was living in either a cave or a tunnel. There are still a huge number of orphans – if you meet North Koreans, you will find that almost everyone lost at least one relative in the war.

North Korea has excellent in the treatment of the handicapped – sending them to the many special schools and programs that are set up for them, finding employment for them and making special efforts to find them marriage partners.

As with the orphans, there are many handicapped, mostly due to the devastating war, and the North Korean people treat the handicapped with a kindness and deference that would surprise most residents of the capitalist dog-eat-dog West.

North Korea has truly free housing and practices preventive medicine on a comparatively high level. Prostitution is a memory and it is impossible to bribe a cop. North Koreans had a longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality than South Korea until 1980, and until the tragedies of the 1990’s, North Korea’s rates of these 2 indexes were on a par with advanced industrialized states.

North Korea had higher per capita growth rates than South Korea for decades until the 1980’s. By 1980, visitors riding trains from North Korea to China were shocked at how much better off North Korea seemed to be than China. North Korea’s rural areas were neat and well-built up, with well-maintained farm machinery in ample supply. In contrast, China, both cities and countryside, appeared squalid.

Since then, the system has foundered. It is not so much that the system itself is a completely failed model as capitalist propagandists assert but that it is a limited model. That is, you can get superb economic growth in both agriculture and industry for decades under Communism (the experience of the Soviet Union and Mao’s China are instructive).

But after decades of growth, the system seems to reach a law of diminishing returns and also bogs down into bureaucracy. North Korea has now significantly liberalized their economy to the point where it is not really a totally Communist economy (certainly not a “Stalinist” system – North Korea’s model never really resembled Stalin’s USSR anyway) at all anymore.

A lot of the enterprises are virtually being run by workers themselves and the cities are crowded with farmers markets and stands for small entrepreneurs.

Nevertheless, many of the horror stories you hear about North Korea’s gulags are probably true. Still, there is a problem with these stories. It is now acknowledged that most information from North Korean defectors is pretty much useless. Sometimes they have good information if you can get to them before South Korean intelligence does. After that, they are about useless.

Defectors’ stories are most valuable for telling us what life is like in their immediate surroundings. Few top-level defectors have left North Korea over the lifespan of the regime, so our understanding of the inner workings of the regime is limited.

The notion that North Korea would give their nuclear weapon to terrorists, or God forbid Al Qaeda, regularly heard in the US media, nearly qualifies as a paranoid delusion. The whole notion of “giving a nuke to terrorists” which Americans have been hammered with nonstop since 9-11 is sort of silly and fantastical anyway.

To look into this requires a brief primer on nuclear weapons. I am not an expert, but here goes.

For starters, let us look at the nonsense about the suitcase nukes. A modern nuclear weapon, as I understand it, is about as big as a very small car – say a Volkswagen beetle or an electric car. If you put it in your living room, it takes up a good part of the room. You can put it in a large truck, but a suitcase!? Come on.

Furthermore, most modern-day nuclear weapons are either launched from a missile of dropped from a bomber. A common misconception is that a nuke is detonated on impact. You could put a nuke in a truck and drive it into a building 100 mph, drop it from a plane, shoot it on a missile, set it on fire, or even attack it with another nuclear weapon, and none of that will detonate it.

The only way to detonate a nuclear weapon is to fire a detonator at the atomic core inside the nuke. In modern nuclear weapons, the detonator is a very large precision instrument located inside the nuke itself. It must be fired just right, with mathematical precision down to fractions of a second and many other variables lined up perfectly.

This a process that is enormously difficult, and large states with huge budgets and legions of physicists have had a very hard time doing it, with the project often taking years or decades, and many projects ending in failure. The notion that terrorists living in Afghan caves can make one of these weapons, smuggle it into the US and detonate it is hysterical.

It is testament to the ignorance or duplicity of the US media and politicians that such scenarios resonate across our land to terrify a public that is uneducated about these complex matters.

Another notion, constantly parried about on the “Terror Channels” of the US media, is that Kim Jong Il wants to attack South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, or especially the US, with his nasty nukes. I don’t believe this. The relationship between the South and the North is enormously complex, but the South (and especially its US patron) threatens the North as much as vice versa.

I do not think a North Korean goal is an unprovoked attack against South Korea, and certainly not Japan or, ludicrously, Taiwan. Any North Korean attack on an US target, forget the US mainland, would be met with such a devastating response that North Korea would be history. A Northern attack on the South would be similarly suicidal.

The North has not spent 40 years rebuilding its land from the total devastation of the war to blow it all on a suicidal war of aggression. On the contrary, I think that North Korea would eventually would like to reunify the South and the North. The South Korean population seems to agree, as 80% oppose the US’ belligerent stance towards the North.

I am not sure why the US media, which resembles a Halloween haunted house attraction meant to scare your pants off for sheer entertainment, is always trying to keep us terrified of dubious threats. Unless they just want to keep us chronically terrified for other ulterior motives.

If anyone should be afraid of anyone, the North should be afraid of the US. We are still officially at war with them, as we never signed an armistice. The US holds regular war games with the South aimed at North Korea. Plans to attack and wipe out the regime are being constantly updated, the most recent of which is frightening in its attention to trivial detail and baseless optimism about success.

37,000 US troops at 100 installations dot the South Korean landscape. The largest US bombing range in Asia is the scene of bombing practice 5 days a week, year-round. The US stationed nuclear weapons in South Korea for decades, menacing the North. Those are gone, but they have been replaced by nuclear-armed ships and planes that the US surrounds the North with.

On January 8, 2002, three weeks prior to the declaration of the Axis of Evil, George Bush presented a “Nuclear Posture Review” to Congress, ordering the Pentagon to prepare contingency plans for nuclear attack on Iran, Iraq and North Korea, in addition to the non-Axis states of Syria, Libya, Russia and China.

From their point of view, the North is mystified at why we vilify them. They see themselves as opposing the apparently illegal division of their country (engineered by the US) from the start.

They are angered at being blamed for starting a war that they see as a civil war between a minority of collaborators with the Japanese who occupied their land (those Koreans supporting South Korea) and the majority of Koreans (those Koreans supporting North Korea). They are proud that they held off the US and its UN allies during the war.

For these acts, which they see as heroic, they feel they have been unfairly tagged as “hostile nation”.

A couple of new books** have come out in the past couple of years advocating attack on North Korea. The nonsense about the North’s petty nuke that reverberates from the media machine is downright frightening. For those who wish to hear an antidote to the insane drumbeat of warmongering hostility against North Korea, consider this a beginning primer.


Meredith Woo-Cummings, The Political Ecology of Famine: The North Korean Catastrophe and Its Lessons, Asian Dev. Bank Inst., Tokyo, 2001

Jasper Becker, Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. 300 pp., and Bradley K. Martin, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2004. 868 pp.


Filed under Americas, Asia, China, Economics, Geopolitics, Government, Haiti, Health, India, Japan, Journalism, Left, Marxism, Military Doctrine, NE Asia, North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, Nutrition, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, Socialism, South Asia, South Korea, US Politics, USSR, War

The North Korean Mess


Man goes to North Korea and interviews his North Korean tour guides about what is happening there. They are surprisingly intelligent and well informed.

First of all, I would like to say that I support North Korea 100% in their confrontation with the US. However, they are not going to shoot a nuke at us. What is bothering them is the yearly, in this case highly aggressive, war games that the US is playing South Korea right now. This always sets the north off. We really ought to stop these belligerent war games and quit antagonizing them.

North Korea is not going to start any kind of war with anyone and they are not going to shoot any missiles, nuclear or otherwise, at anyone. So we might as well calm down. But the response of Obama, to send B-1 bombers loaded with nuclear weapons to fly up and down the South Korean peninsula, was an extreme provocation. There was no need for this.

Why did the North Koreans build nuclear weapons? Because the lesson they learned after Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan is that countries without nuclear weapons tend to get attacked by the United Snakes. This lesson was absolutely correct.

The US has been threatening to attack North Korea ever since the end of the Korean War in 1953. The US presently has an incredible 1,000 nuclear weapons in South Korea now, including nuclear artillery, nuclear missiles, nuclear bombers and nuclear mines. The US has had these nuclear weapons in South Korea for decades, and they have been threatening to attack the North with them all this time. Under nuclear control treaties, all nations being threatened with nuclear weapons have a right to develop nuclear weapons to defend themselves. Therefore, the North has a right to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent against constant nuclear threats by the US. This is right and proper.

How many nukes does the North have? At the moment, they may have around 3 working nuclear weapons, however, they have enough material for more. And thankfully, they have just started up some of their nuclear reactors so they can make more fissile material and hopefully more bombs. The bombs seem to be small, and the general theory is that they are around 1/3 the size of a Hiroshima bomb. They are apparently plutonium bombs and not uranium bombs. Keep in mind that the North also wishes to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes and they have that right under nuclear treaties.

The north also has missiles, but they don’t work very well. They often fall apart in mid-air. Their longest range missile can hit the eastern part of Alaska. The north has no missiles that can reach the US mainland. Missile technology is however rapidly improving.

The most important thing that we do not know is whether the north has mastered the technique of putting a nuclear warhead on a missile in such a way such that it can be detonated. You need a detonation device to do this and it must be accurate down to the thousands of a second. If you don’t get it right, you will shoot your nuke, and it won’t even blow up. Getting this detonation device correct is maddeningly difficult for any nation. However, with this latest underground test, observers feel that the north may have an operational warhead.

The US embargoes the North, and now the whole world has leveled sanctions on the North via the UN, which is just a tool of US imperialism anymore (I strongly supported the Iraqi resistance car bomb attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad in the early days of the Resistance.). These sanctions have been strengthened three times now.

These are “dual use sanctions” of the sort that completely devastated Iraq, murdering 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children, via the US and the UK sanctions. Remember how utterly devastated the Iraqi economy was due to dual use sanctions, especially Iraqi medical care? Iraq didn’t have a Communist government, and the sanctions ruined them. These sanctions will destroy the economy of any state.

Under the dual use rubric, most medical supplies and drugs coming into the North are banned under sanctions rules. This is the same mess that devastated Iraqi medicine and the water supply. North Korean medicine has been completely devastated by these dual use sanctions.

In addition, the sanctions mean that most countries have to decide if they are going to trade with North Korea or they are going to trade with the rest of the world. That is because the sanctions also apply to any nation trading with North Korea. The US threatens and punishes any nation who tries to trade with North Korea. Most of the world has decided to trade with the rest of the world instead of trading with North Korea alone, so the North is completely isolated. Almost all of their trade is with China alone.

It is true that agriculture has collapsed, but North Korea fed themselves just fine for 40 years under the same collective agriculture. Soviets ate very well under collective ag until 1991. Cubans eat just fine under a system of collective agriculture. So it’s dubious that collective agriculture can be blamed for North Korea’s food problems.

The US has repeatedly withheld food aid to North Korea, and then they scream that people are harmed or killed by malnutrition. So the US is basically deliberately starving North Koreans to death. In addition, the US bullies and threatens any other country or group who tries to provide food aid to the North. The US’ reason for withholding food aid to the North is that most of it is diverted to the military, but this is not true, and at any rate, the military has to eat too, and obviously they get first priority.

The US under Democratic and Republican Presidents has torn up every agreement that they ever signed with the North. Clinton demanded that the North stop developing nukes in return for providing them with a light water reactor. The reactor was never forthcoming because Clinton was trying to make the regime collapse. Along the same lines, sanctions and suspension of food aid are all intended to cause the collapse of the North Korean regime. It hasn’t happened.

The North’s position is completely reasonable, and I support them 100% in their resolve to stand up to US aggression.


Filed under Agricutlure, Asia, Democrats, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Military Doctrine, NE Asia, North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Politics, Regional, South Korea, US Politics, War

Greg Palast on Hugo Chavez

This article shows exactly how US imperialism works in the world today. It also shows just how evil US foreign policy really is. Now whether the behavior portrayed below is evil or good is a value judgment. I say it’s evil. Someone else may feel it’s the right thing to do.

But one thing for sure, the true story, as Greg Palast lays out below, is one you will never hear on US TV or radio or read in any US newspaper or magazine. The US media won’t even bring up charges like this even to deny them. Can you imagine if every day in the US you could turn on your TV to a debate on whether or not the US is an imperialist country? That’s a debate they don’t want you to have, even to deny it.

Problem is that no matter how hard they deny it, they don’t want you to hear the other side at all. There is too much risk that no matter how hard they ridicule the other side, a few people might decide to side with the opposition. A few Americans here and there might decide that, yes, the US is an imperialist country.

That the US is an imperialist country and that US capitalism is based on imperialism is beyond a doubt. There’s nothing to debate. It’s obviously true. Even the scores of US military bases and the huge US military are the armed faction of that imperial system. When you go enlist in the US military, you are joining as a foot soldier for imperialism, in general. You are carrying a weapon for Heinz, the Koch Brothers and Chevron more than you are defending US soil from shadowy enemies.

Almost all supporters of US capitalism (and we have many here on this blog) refuse to acknowledge that US capitalism is based on imperialism. Imperialism is its bread and butter.

It’s fine and dandy to support capitalism (I am not completely against the market myself), but I think if you support US capitalism, you ought to at least agree that it’s based on imperialism. That would be the brave and principled thing to do. And now do you support this system, this particular US capitalism buttressed by imperialism as laid out below. To me, that is a much harder thing to do, but supporters or US capitalism need to do that. They need to take a stand on imperialism. You either support US imperialism or you oppose it. Which will it be? No more dodging the question and pretending that imperialism doesn’t exist.

It is also interesting that we have Blacks on this board who hated Hugo Chavez. Yet Chavez was the great champions of the Blacks and Browns of Venezuela, as laid out below. Venezuelan capitalism, as is the case with capitalism in many parts of the world, was racially based. The Whites took all the money and left the Blacks and Browns with crumbs – starving, sickened, squatting in hovels with sewage running down the steep gutters. Why US Blacks would support such a racial spoils system is beyond me.

There is much talk that Chavez and other Latin American Leftists were all given cancer by the US. It’s an interesting theory, but there is no evidence for it at the moment.

I had an Argentine girlfriend once. We talked about the Dirty War in Argentina, supported to the hilt by the US (Henry Kissinger notoriously backed them to the hilt), in which 30,000 mostly unarmed and peaceful Leftists were murdered by a rightwing military dictatorship.

“Well,” she said thoughtfully. “The Latin American Left dreamed of a better world. And in Latin America, that is a dangerous thing.”

So it is with Hugo Chavez, so it is with the Americas, of which we in the north are increasingly a part.

“But why the GW Bush regime’s hate, hate, HATE of the President of Venezuela? Reverend Pat wasn’t coy about the answer: Its the oil. This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil.”

Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chàvez, mi Amigo

By Greg Palast

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Venezuelan President Chavez once asked me why the US elite wanted to kill him. My dear Hugo: Its the oil. And its the Koch Brothers and its the ketchup.

Reverend Pat Robertson said, Hugo Chavez thinks were trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.

It was 2005 and Robertson was channeling the frustration of George Bush’s State Department. Despite Bush’s providing intelligence, funds and even a note of congratulations to the crew who kidnapped Chavez (we’ll get there), Hugo remained in office, reelected and wildly popular.

But why the Bush regime’s hate, hate, HATE of the President of Venezuela? Reverend Pat wasn’t coy about the answer: It’s the oil. This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil.

A really BIG pool of oil. Indeed, according to Guy Caruso, former chief of oil intelligence for the CIA, Venezuela hold a recoverable reserve of 1.36 trillion barrels, that is, a whole lot more than Saudi Arabia.

If we didn’t kill Chavez, we’d have to do an Iraq on his nation. So the Reverend suggests, We don’t need another $200 billion war…. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

Chavez himself told me he was stunned by Bush’s attacks: Chavez had been quite chummy with Bush Senior and with Bill Clinton.

So what made Chavez suddenly “a dangerous enemy”? Here’s the answer you wont find in The New York Times:

Just after Bush’s inauguration in 2001, Chavez congress voted in a new Law of Hydrocarbons. Henceforth, Exxon, British Petroleum, Shell Oil and Chevron would get to keep 70% of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising toward $100 a barrel.

But to the oil companies, which had bitch-slapped Venezuela’s prior government into giving them 84% of the sales price, a cut to 70% was no bueno. Worse, Venezuela had been charging a joke of a royalty just one percent on heavy crude from the Orinoco Basin. Chavez told Exxon and friends they’d now have to pay 16.6%.

Clearly, Chavez had to be taught a lesson about the etiquette of dealings with Big Oil.

On April 11, 2002, President Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean Sea. On April 12, Pedro Carmona, a business partner of the US oil companies and president of the nations Chamber of Commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela giving a whole new meaning to the term, corporate takeover.

U.S. Ambassador Charles Shapiro immediately rushed down from his hilltop embassy to have his picture taken grinning with the self-proclaimed President and the leaders of the coup détat.

Bush’s White House spokesman admitted that Chavez was, democratically elected, but, he added, Legitimacy is something that is conferred not by just the majority of voters. I see.

With an armed and angry citizenry marching on the Presidential Palace in Caracas ready to string up the coup plotters, Carmona, the Pretend President from Exxon returned his captive Chavez back to his desk within 48 hours.

Chavez had provoked the coup not just by clawing back some of the bloated royalties of the oil companies. Its what he did with that oil money that drove Venezuela’s One Percent to violence.

In Caracas, I ran into the reporter for a TV station whose owner is generally credited with plotting the coup against the president. While doing a publicity photo shoot, leaning back against a tree, showing her wide-open legs nearly up to where they met, the reporter pointed down the hill to the ranchos, the slums above Caracas, where shacks, once made of cardboard and tin, where quickly transforming into homes of cinder blocks and cement.

He [Chavez] gives them bread and bricks, so they vote for him, of course. She was disgusted by them, the 80% of Venezuelans who are negro e indio (Black and Indian)and poor. Chavez, himself negro e indio, had, for the first time in Venezuela’s history, shifted the oil wealth from the privileged class that called themselves Spanish, to the dark-skinned masses.

While trolling around the poor housing blocks of Caracas, I ran into a local, Arturo Quiran, a merchant seaman and no big fan of Chavez. But over a beer at his kitchen table, he told me,

Fifteen years ago under [then-President] Carlos Andrés Pérez, there was a lot of oil money in Venezuela. The oil boom we called it. Here in Venezuela there was a lot of money, but we didn’t see it.

But then came Hugo Chavez, and now the poor in his neighborhood, he said, get medical attention, free operations, x-rays, medicines; education also. People who never knew how to write now know how to sign their own papers.”

Chavez Robin Hood thing, shifting oil money from the rich to the poor, would have been grudgingly tolerated by the US. But Chavez, who told me, We are no longer an oil colony, went further…too much further, in the eyes of the American corporate elite.

Venezuela had landless citizens by the millions and unused land by the millions of acres tied up, untilled, on which a tiny elite of plantation owners squatted. Chavez congress passed in a law in 2001 requiring untilled land to be sold to the landless. It was a program long promised by Venezuela’s politicians at the urging of John F. Kennedy as part of his Alliance for Progress.

Plantation owner Heinz Corporation didn’t like that one bit. In retaliation, Heinz closed its ketchup plant in the state of Maturin and fired all the workers. Chavez seized Heinz plant and put the workers back on the job. Chavez didn’t realize that he’d just squeezed the tomatoes of Americas powerful Heinz family and Mrs. Heinz husband, Senator John Kerry, now U.S. Secretary of State.

Or, knowing Chavez as I do, he didn’t give a damn.

Chavez could survive the ketchup coup, the Exxon presidency, even his taking back a piece of the windfall of oil company profits, but he dangerously tried the patience of Americas least forgiving billionaires: The Koch Brothers.

How? Well, that’s another story for another day.

Elected presidents who annoy Big Oil have ended up in exile or coffins: Mossadegh of Iran after he nationalized BP’s fields (1953), Elchibey, President of Azerbaijan, after he refused demands of BP for his Caspian fields (1993), President Alfredo Palacio of Ecuador after he terminated Occidentals drilling concession (2005).

Its a chess game, Mr. Palast, Chavez told me. He was showing me a very long, and very sharp sword once owned by Simon Bolivar, the Great Liberator. And I am, Chavez said, a very good chess player.

In the film The Seventh Seal, a medieval knight bets his life on a game of chess with the Grim Reaper. Death cheats, of course, and takes the knight. No mortal can indefinitely outplay Death who, this week, Chavez must know, will checkmate the new Bolivar of Venezuela.

But in one last move, the Bolivarian grandmaster played a brilliant endgame, naming Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, as good and decent a man as they come, as heir to the fight for those in the ranchos. The One Percent of Venezuela, planning on Chavez’s death to return them the power and riches they couldn’t win in an election, are livid with the choice of Maduro.

Chavez sent Maduro to meet me in my downtown New York office back in 2004. In our run-down detective digs on Second Avenue, Maduro and I traded information on assassination plots and oil policy.

Even then, Chavez was carefully preparing for the day when Venezuela’s negros e indios would lose their king but still stay in the game. Class war on a chessboard. Even in death, I wouldn’t bet against Hugo Chavez.

“War’ s never a winning thing, Charlie. You just lose all the time, and the one who loses last asks for terms. All I remember is a lot of losing and sadness and nothing good at the end of it. The end of it, Charles, that was a winning all to itself, having nothing to do with guns.”
–Ray Bradbury, from the short story, The Time Machine, 1957


Filed under Americas, Argentina, Capitalism, Cold War, Economics, Fascism, Geopolitics, History, Imperialism, Journalism, Latin America, Latin American Right, Left, Military Doctrine, Political Science, Politics, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Republicans, South America, US Politics, Venezuela

Guest Author: Stephen Soldz “The Psychodynamics of Occupation and the Abuse at Abu Ghraib: An Interpretation After One Year of Occupation”

Repost from the old site.

This blog is very honored to post a fine piece by a guest author, Stephen Soldz, The Psychodynamics of Occupation and the Abuse at Abu Ghraib: An Interpretation After One Year of Occupation.

Stephen, a Leftist psychoanalyst from Boston, is the founder of several antiwar and anti-imperialist organizations. He is a principled Leftist who doesn’t mince words, keeps a very consistent and honorable line, doesn’t compromise his ideals much, and usually has some measured, thoughtful and wise insight and advice to offer.

Stephen has given me valuable advice on my writing which I continue to employ. He seems to have also done some very interesting psychological research, though I haven’t looked into it much yet.

In an era when the Left is beset with sell-outs, compromise at any cost types, defeatism, muddled thinking, contradictory positions, confusion and hypocrisy, Stephen lights the way for an ideological position that lights a path between ridiculous ultra-pacifism and the mindless flailing rage of some anti-imperialist resistance movements. On to the piece!

There are various explanations for what went on at Abu Ghraib. The official US position is that a “few bad apples” among the reservist military police (MPs) there went out of control, violating orders to treat the prisoners humanely — “Animal House on the night shift,” as former defense secretary James Schlesinger described it.(1)

The MP defendants claim that they were following orders to soften up the prisoners as a prelude to interrogation. Investigative journalists have documented in detail the chain of memos, orders, and “advice” that led from the top reaches of the US administration to the actions of those MPs. To write about the psychological aspects of the Abu Ghraib horrors, one must have a theory of what actually happened.

So let me make explicit my view of what happened, derived from reading hundreds of newspaper and other accounts of abuse throughout the developing network of US detention centers in Iraq and elsewhere. After 9/11, decisions were made at the upper reaches of the US administration that detainees in America’s “War on Terror” did not deserve traditional protections.(2, 3)

Justified by the needs of developing intelligence, brutal methods of treatment of detainees — “tantamount to torture” as the International Committee of the Red Cross calls it(2, 4) — became routine.(1, 2, 5-18) The decision was made to adopt brutal techniques in order to “break” the detainees.

As one e-mail in August 2003 from a Military Intelligence officer put it: “The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees, Col Boltz has made it clear that we want these individuals broken. Casualties are mounting and we need to start gathering info to help protect our fellow soldiers from any further attacks. I thank you for your hard work and your dedication.”(19)

The prison was put under the control of military intelligence.(2, 20) As recommended by Guantánamo commander Major General Geoffrey Miller, techniques of total control and torture in use at Guantánamo (4, 12, 19, 21, 22) were imported as Abu Ghraib was “Gitmoized.”(1)

As a former Army intelligence officer described Miller’s recommendation: “It means treat the detainees like shit until they will sell their mother for a blanket, some food without bugs in it and some sleep.”(23)

Waterboarding was imported and dogs were frequently used to instill fear in the detainees.(17) Pressure was put on the MPs guarding prisoners to “set the conditions” for interrogations, and to “manipulate an internee’s emotions and weaknesses.”(20) Typical of large bureaucratic organizations, the MPs were given no clear instructions, allowing for “plausible deniability.”

Thus, the official story of a “few bad apples” doesn’t stand up to scrutiny as abuse was typical of the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib and at the myriad (over 20) other detention facilities in Iraq, as well as those in Cuba and Afghanistan.

Further, it is not plausible to believe that these MPs, unschooled in interrogation techniques, rediscovered so many of the CIA’s standard torture techniques, designed to humiliate and “break” detainees, as well as special forms of sexual humiliation that would be especially humiliating and degrading to Arab males.(2)

However, the official story isn’t totally false, either. While it is hard to be certain, testimony at the trials of the Abu Ghraib MPs designated as the “fall guys” suggests that they did their share of freelancing.

A number of these MPs were having quite a good time abusing the prisoners. As Pvt. Jeremy Sivits testified at the court martial of Spc. Charles Graner, “The soldiers were laughing, seeming to be having a good time” and Pvt. Ivan Frederick II testified, “everybody was smiling and carrying on.”(24)

While I have no doubt that torture was policy, we still are faced with the questions of why MPs not trained in interrogation and torture proved so willing to adopt these techniques, and enjoyed themselves along the way, and why soldiers throughout Iraq and Afghanistan engaged in repeated acts of torture and abuse.

What I want to focus on here are a few relatively underemphasized aspects of the war and occupation that contributed to the pervasiveness of abuse.

Like all wars, the 2003 Iraq invasion was preceded by a propaganda barrage. Fantasies of weapons of mass destruction were propagated repeatedly by the Administration, politicians of both parties, and the corporate media, despite serious doubts having been raised as to the existence of these weapons by numerous knowledgeable critics.(25-27)

Unstated, but understood by all, was that this war was to be revenge for 9/11; revenge for the death, but even more, revenge for the humiliation.(28, 29) When Saddam’s statue was toppled in Firdos Square in April 2003, the US troops draped it with an American flag. The desire for revenge, while unstated, suggested that anything visited upon the Iraqis was acceptable, as revenge creates its own logic.

Stated, rather, was the avowed aim to “liberate” Iraqis from an oppressive regime. Iraqis would greet the invading troops with flowers and open arms, it was claimed. Despite cute propaganda exercises like the stage-managed toppling of Saddam’s statue, the flowers and open arms never materialized. Iraqis were decidedly ambivalent about being invaded and occupied by a foreign power.

Within weeks American troops were firing into crowds of Iraqis, killing a number,(30, 31) and lying about the events. Deaths of civilians at roadblocks were a constant.(32-35) And the insurgency grew and grew, its supporters coming to number perhaps 200,000, as estimated by the head of the Iraqi Interim government’s intelligence service.(36)

So what do occupation soldiers do when the stated reason for their occupation of another country is to liberate the populace, but many of that populace regard them as invaders and either respond sullenly to their presence, or actively resist occupation? One coping strategy is to try and distinguish between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”

As Staff Sgt. Riley Flaherty expressed it: “What’s really hard is the fine line between the bad guys and the good guys…. Because if you piss off the wrong good guys, you’re really in trouble. So you’ve really got to watch what you do and how you treat the people.”(37)

That is, the occupied population is split into its good and bad elements, with evil projected onto the bad, and the good construed as largely childlike and in need of protection, but also prone to turn bad at a moment’s notice.

However, the task of an occupation army is one of control of the populace. As Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Aldrich, from the same unit as Sgt. Flaherty, put it: “I’ve got 200,000 Iraqis I’ve got to control with 18 people… so I’ve got to command respect. And unfortunately, all that hearts and minds stuff, I can’t even think about that.”

He goes on to explain, “There are things I have to do out here that I can’t explain to my chain of command, and that the American people would never understand.”(37)

Given this requirement, the definition of a good Iraqi becomes one who aids the occupiers in their lonesome task, and there are precious few of them. As Sgt. Aldrich explains: “Because you aren’t helping me catch the bad guys, and if you’re not helping me, you are the bad guy.”(37) Given this definition, the distinction between good and bad easily breaks down and nearly the entire occupied populace can become bad.

Another characteristic of occupation is the difficulty the occupation troops have in viewing the occupied as adults, as individuals with wishes, dreams, and intentions of their own. Rather, they are essentially childlike, deserving protection when good, and a spanking when bad. The same Sgt. Flaherty, on a frustrating day, explained: “These people don’t understand nice… You’ve got to be a hard-ass.”(37)

The entire populace becomes the enemy, as expressed by Sgt. Aldrich: “The one thing you learn over here is that there are no innocent civilians, except the kids. And even them — the ones that are all, ‘Hey mister, mister, chocolate?’ — I’ll be killing them someday.”(37) Note, the absence of any pretense that the occupation is intended to help the occupied. Such illusions are left for the media and PR flacks.

War, including war of occupation, of course involves fear, a pervasive fear and an awareness that death is possible at any moment.

That fear, and that awareness, we are reminded by Terror Management Theory,(38) leads to a defense of one’s worldview, which in most cases means an increased attachment to the cultural norms of one’s society, and a rejection and punitive attitude towards those that threaten that worldview.

For the occupier, it is the natives, the occupied and their culture, which are rejected. Another aspect of war is its overwhelmingly masculine quality; war is an assertion of dominance over the other, perceived as weak, as cowardly, as a wimp.(39) Thus, the repeated description of the 9/11 attackers as “cowardly,” probably the characteristic least accurately descriptive of them.

As President Bush said that day: “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward,”(40) attempting to remove the shame by describing the attackers with the most denigrating description.

By this means the attacker is made both morally depraved and weak, not really masculine. Yet, the rhetoric simultaneously betrays the fear that underlies it. For today’s women in combat, proving that they are “one of the guys” can be the key to survival.(41)

As the occupied are rejected and become the repository of all that which is rejected by the occupiers, it is but a step to portraying the enemy, those unwilling to meekly submit to occupation, as absolute evil, as was expressed by Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Brandl on the eve of the November, 2004 assault on Falluja: “The enemy has got a face. He’s called Satan. He lives in Falluja. And we’re going to destroy him.”(42)

Is it any wonder that Falluja was almost totally destroyed, with virtually no buildings left undamaged? Or that Fallujans who return to their city are treated as if they are concentration camp inmates?(43, 44)

Or that this new concentration camp was described as the “safest city in Iraq” by Marine Cpl. Daniel Ferrari,(45) while an anonymous soldier left a memento on a random household’s mirror: “Fuck Iraq and every Iraqi in it!”(44)

Now return to Abu Ghraib. A small contingent of ill-trained reservist MPs was in charge of guarding thousands of unruly prisoners who were enraged at being imprisoned, largely unjustly, and enraged at the squalid conditions in which they were kept, perhaps best symbolized by the bugs infesting their rancid food.(46)

The MPs didn’t speak the language of the prisoners, and had few translators; communication difficulties were so great that the guards evidently did not know that a prison riot was a response to the food situation. These guards were of low status in the military, being reservists, and were assigned to the undesirable task of guarding prisoners.

They lived in constant fear, as nightly attacks on the prison were complemented by riots and attacks from the prisoners. Their military comrades-in-arms were dying in large numbers from the growing insurgency.

The effort to generate intelligence out of the prisoners was especially difficult as, according to military intelligence sources, perhaps 70%-90% of them were innocent of any involvement with the insurgents,(19, 53) and just happened to be present at a checkpoint, or in their home, when one of the brutal “cordon and capture” raids occurred.(19)

Nonetheless, the response of top military leaders to their innocence was callous at best.

Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski is quoted as telling Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski, the officer in charge of Iraqi prisons: “I don’t care if we’re holding 15,000 innocent civilians! We’re winning the war!”

The officer in charge of US forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, retorted: “Why are we detaining these people – we should be killing them.”(54) The nature of prisons is such that prisoners are usually presumed guilty by the guards.

If they didn’t commit the offense for which they were arrested, they must have done something wrong; why else would they be in prison? Under interrogation, those prisoners who refuse to divulge important information must be withholding, providing further evidence of their perfidy.

These dynamics must have been even stronger in the Abu Ghraib situation, where the MP guards felt in constant danger and under pressure to demonstrate their worth through breaking the prisoners.

To accept that many of the prisoners being kept in such abominable conditions were innocent could only be rationalized by dehumanizing them, by making them the embodiment of all that was unacceptable to the guards. If they weren’t guilty of serious offenses, they were, after all, only “hajis”(29) who, outside the prison, were kept in line with metal “haji-be-good sticks.”(37)

The very fact that these inferior hajis objected to their unfair imprisonment demonstrated that they were dangerous, and cried out for control. How could such dangerous inferior beings expect to be treated better once they were found guilty by reason of imprisonment? Surely the lowly MPs could demonstrate their worth by providing the punishment these unruly natives, the ungrateful occupied, deserved.

To do less was not to do one’s duty. As these guards did their work keeping the evil recalcitrant hajis in line, which, after all is a rather dirty task, it was not surprising that they tried to make the job interesting, even fun. How many of us can carry out an unpleasant job for months on end without finding ways to enjoy the work? Why should we expect that these poor prison guards in an alien land would do less?

The pressure built to generate actionable intelligence from the prisoners, so that the anti-occupation insurgency could be broken. General Miller visited and recommended that the prison be dedicated to the gathering of intelligence, and that the brutal torture techniques developed at Guantánamo(4, 12, 21, 47-51) be utilized. MPs were to “set the conditions” for interrogation(20) by abusing and terrorizing prisoners.

Military intelligence was placed in control of the prison by the head of US forces in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez.(20) Many arcane torture techniques, such as waterboarding and forced homosexual sex, developed by the CIA over decades, were put into general use.(3, 19, 52)

The message was communicated that senior officials, including Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, were very interested in the intelligence being generated at Abu Ghraib, that the work of these lowly reservists was truly important.(19)

Thus we see that the logic of war, the logic of occupation, the logic of imprisonment, and the post 9/11 logic of revenge all came together in an Iraqi torture center in 2003. The fact that similar actions have been reported in numerous other Iraqi prisons, as well as those in Afghanistan demonstrates that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were emblematic of the new American empire, indeed of empire itself.

Also emblematic of empire, is the denial with which this torture was met. The officials responsible ignored and denied numerous reports of prisoner abuse in newspapers and from non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross.(55-59)

Within days of the release of the Abu Ghraib photos, I, a single concerned citizen with no special resources, had no difficulty detailing this long record of abuse claims.(14) The publication of the Abu Ghraib photographs and all subsequent revelations about the widespread nature of detainee abuse and torture were met with official denials that anything more than a “few bad apples” were to blame.(60)

Furthermore, denial, in the psychological sense of unconsciously ignoring the importance of a fact or event, has characterized the American public reaction. While the majority of Americans told pollsters that the torture was wrong and that the US government was lying about it, and also that those who wrote the legal opinions justifying torture bore some blame,(61, 62) there was no major public outcry over the issue.

It was hardly mentioned during the American elections by either major party candidate, or at either party’s convention. Those in charge when the torture happened were reelected, and many of those who developed and justified the policy of torture were promoted,(63-65) with little public outcry.

Torture is now out of the closet, it has become an accepted, however distasteful, aspect of American life. As Mark Danner puts it: “We are all torturers now.”(66) I’d like to close with words from Chris Hedges’ haunting meditation on war:

“Each generation responds to war as innocents. Each generation discovers its own disillusionment — often after a terrible price. The myth of war and the drug of war wait to be tasted…. Those who can tell us the truth are silenced or prefer to forget. The state needs the myth, as much as it needs its soldiers and its machines of war to survive.” (67, p. 173)

And we might add, it needs its torturers.


1. Carter, P. (2004) The Road to Abu Ghraib (Washington Monthly).

2. Barry, J., Hirsh, & Isikoff, M. (2004) The Roots of Torture: The road to Abu Ghraib began after 9/11, when Washington wrote new rules to fight a new kind of war (Newsweek).

3. Hersh, S. M. (2004) Chain of command: The road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib (New York, Harper Collins).

4. Lewis, N. A. (2004) Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantánamo (New York Times).

5. (2004) US Navy Seals Torturing Iraqis(

6. American Civil Liberties Union (2004) Federal Government Turns Over Thousands of Torture Documents to ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).

7. American Civil Liberties Union (2004) Records Released in Response to Torture FOIA Request (American Civil Liberties Union).

8. Croke, L. A. (2004) Abuse, Torture and Rape Reported at Unlisted U.S.-run Prisons in Iraq (New Standard).

9. Croke, L. A. (2004) Iraq Torture Investigators Reveal Scores of New Cases (New Standard).

10. Croke, L. A. (2004) FBI Glossed Over Abu Ghraib Abuses (The New Standard).

11. Gat, Y. (2005) The Year in Torture (CounterPunch).

12. Lewis, N. A. (2005) Fresh Details Emerge on Harsh Methods at Guantánamo (New York Times).

13. Smith, R. J. & Eggen, D. (2004) New Papers Suggest Detainee Abuse Was Widespread (Washington Post).

14. Soldz, S. (2004) Abuse at Abu Ghraib, the psychodynamics of occupation, and the responsibility of us all (ZNet).

15. American Civil Liberties Union (2004) Torture FOIA (American Civil Liberties Union).

16. White, J. (2004) U.S. Generals in Iraq Were Told of Abuse Early, Inquiry Finds (Washington Post).

17. White, J. & Higham, S. (2004) Use of Dogs to Scare Prisoners Was Authorized: Military Intelligence Personnel Were Involved, Handlers Say (Washington Post).

18. Zernike, K. & Rohde, D. (2004) Forced Nudity of Iraqi Prisoners Is Seen as a Pervasive Pattern, Not Isolated Incidents (New York Times).

19. Danner, M. (2004) Abu Ghraib: The Hidden Story (New York Review of Books).

20. Borger, J. (2004) US general linked to Abu Ghraib abuse: Leaked memo reveals control of prison passed to military intelligence to ‘manipulate detainees’ (Guardian).

21. Cawthorne, A. (2004) Guantanamo men allege abuse (Reuters).

22. Lewis, N. A. (2004) Broad Use Cited of Harsh Tactics at Base in Cuba (New York Times).

23. Davidson, O. G. (2004) The Secret File of Abu Ghraib (Rolling Stone).

24. Serrano, R. A. (2005) Guard Enjoyed Beating Iraqis, Three Testify (Los Angeles Times).

25. Rangwala, G. (2003) Claims and evaluations of Iraq’s proscribed weapons (

26. Rangwala, G. (2003) Review of Hussein Kamel’s interview with UNSCOM of 22 August 1995 (

27. Ritter, S. (2003) Scott Ritter in His Own Words (Time Online).

28. Wood, P. (2005) Iraq war: two years on (BBC).

29. Rockwell, P. (2005) Army reservist witnesses war crimes: New revelations about racism in the military (Online Journal).

30. Reeves, P. (2003) At least 10 dead as US soldiers fire on school protest (Independent).

31. Wilson, S. (2003) U.S. Forces Kill Two During Iraqi Demonstration (Washington Post).

32. Burns, J. F. (2005) Checkpoint dangers too familiar for Iraqis (International Herald Tribune).

33. Faramarzi, S. (2003) Jittery U.S. Soldiers Kill 6 Iraqis (Associated Press).

34. Huggler, J. (2003) Family shot dead by panicking US troops (Independent).

35. Ciezadlo, A. (2005) What Iraq’s checkpoints are like (Christian Science Monitor).

36. Reynolds, P. (2005) Blistering attacks threaten Iraq election (BBC).

37. Dilanian, K. (2005) Soldiers sometimes rough despite risk of antagonizing friendly Iraqis (Kansas City Star).

38. Pyszczynski, T. A., Greenberg, J. & Solomon, S. (2003) In the wake of 9/11: the psychology of terror (Washington, DC, American Psychological Association).

39. Ducat, S. (2004) The wimp factor: Gender gaps, holy wars, and the politics of anxious masculinity (Boston, Beacon Press).

40. Bush, G. W. (2001) Remarks by President Bush from Barksdale Air Force Base , (American Rhetoric).

41. Grasso, G. (2000) Review of Hornet’s Nest: The Experiences of One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots by Missy Cummings (Minerva: Quarterly Report on Women and the Military).

42. Harkavy, W. (2004) Running Out of Patients: In our glorious crusade for democracy, we level a Falluja hospital (Village Voice).

43. Barnard, A. (2004) Returning Fallujans will face clampdown (Boston Globe).

44. Fadhil, A. (2005) City of ghosts (Guardian).

45. Niedringhaus, A. (2005) Tanks, Officers Impose Order in Fallujah (Associated Press).

46. Phinney, D. (2004) “Contract Meals Disaster” for Iraqi Prisoners (CorpWatch).

47. Al Jazeera (2005) New Guantanamo abuse cases surface (Al Jazeera).

48. Azulay, J. (2005) Guantanamo Abuses Caught on Tape, Report Details (New Standard).

49. Leonnig, C. D. & Priest, D. (2005) Detainees Accuse Female Interrogators: Pentagon Inquiry Is Said to Confirm Muslims’ Accounts of Sexual Tactics at Guantanamo (Washington Post).

50. Mickum IV, G. B. (2005) Tortured, humiliated and crying out for some justice: Four Guantánamo Britons are coming home. Don’t forget those left behind (Guardian).

51. Reuters (2005) Lawyer: Guantanamo detainees sodomised (Aljazeera).

52. McCoy, A. W. (2004) The Hidden History of CIA Torture: America’s Road to Abu Ghraib (

53. Associated Press (2004) Red Cross: Iraq abuse “tantamount to torture” (MSNBC).

54. American Civil Liberties Union (2005) Newly Released Army Documents Point to Agreement Between Defense Department and CIA on “Ghost” Detainees, ACLU Says (American Civil Liberties Union).

55. International Committee of the Red Cross (2004) Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the treatment by the coalition forces of prisoners of war and other protected persons by the Geneva Conventions in Iraq during arrest, internment and interrogation (International Committee of the Red Cross).

56. Hanley, C. J. (2004) Early Iraq Abuse Accounts Met With Silence (Associated Press).

57. Beaumont, P. & Burke, J. (2004) Catastrophe (Guardian).

58. Miller, R. (2003) “Disappearing” Iraqis: Why Are So Many Citizens Arrested and Detained by the American Occupying Force? (River Cities’ Reader).

59. Riverbend (2004) Tales from Abu Ghraib. (Baghdad Burning).

60. USA Today (2004) How innocent Iraqis came to be abused as terrorists (USA Today).

61. Kull, S. (2004) Americans on Detention, Torture, and the War on Terrorism, (Program on International Policy Attitudes/Knowledge Networks).

62. Morris, D. & Langer, G. (2004) Terror Suspect Treatment: Most Americans Oppose Torture Techniques (ABC News).

63. Smith, R. J. & Eggen, D. (2005) Gonzales Helped Set the Course for Detainees (Washington Post).

64. Scheer, R. (2004) Tout Torture, Get Promoted (Los Angeles Times).

65. Anderson, J. R. (2005) Maj. Gen. Fast, former aide to Sanchez at Abu Ghraib, takes intelligence post (Stars and Stripes).

66. Danner, M. (2005) We Are All Torturers Now (New York Times).

67. Hedges, C. (2002) War is a force that gives us meaning (New York, Public Affairs).

Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst and a faculty member at the Institute for the Study of Violence of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is a member of Roslindale Neighbors for Peace and Justice and founder of Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice. He maintains the Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report web page.

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Filed under Geopolitics, Government, Guest Posts, Iraq War, Left, Military Doctrine, Politics, Psychology, Reposts From The Old Site, War

US Soldiers Executed for Crimes Against Civilians in WW2 France

From here.

There’s a semi-hidden cemetery in France filled with executed US WWII solders who raped and murdered the locals. The military has such disrespect for them that they are only marked with numbers, not names. We don’t execute quite so much anymore, but we still do proper military criminal investigations into such allegations.

There are two sides to this. On one, we talk as you do about making sure justice is done for crimes committed, and the damage inherent in not fully investigating. On the other hand, there’s the concern about railroading troops who were doing the best they could in a bad situation. A soldier fighting for his life in a firefight shouldn’t have to ask to for a time-out so he can consult an attorney to avoid potential Monday-morning legal quarterbacking. This is all the harder with an enemy who doesn’t wear a uniform and blends in with the locals.

And, yes, every friendly fire incident gets a full investigation. Criminal charges are unlikely since most of these are truly accidents with multiple contributing factors. However, we once railroaded a colonel out of the Army over a friendly fire incident, using the fact that he’d violated some local command policy by going up that day when they couldn’t find an actual violation of law in the friendly fire incident itself. Because of feelings just like yours, there is a LOT of political pressure from the very top to convict for friendly fire incidents, and in those cases we have to be extra sure that justice, not mob justice, is done.

That’s very interesting if it’s true. Does that statement imply that the US military executed various US troops for crimes such as murder and rape committed against French locals. I suppose they had trials or court-martials and were quickly sentenced to death? Amazing if it’s actually true, because I’ve never heard of it.


Filed under Crime, Europe, France, History, Law, Military Doctrine, Regional, War, World War 2

How Castro Held the World Hostage

This is a good article. It shows just how insane Castro was during the crisis. He was ready to go to war, even nuclear war, to stop a US invasion of Cuba. Kennedy was also absolutely reckless.

The hero of the whole crisis was Khrushchev. Khrushchev got Castro to back down and he stopped listening to him. He gave in to Kennedy’s outrageous and belligerent demands that nearly set off a nuclear war. Khrushchev was the only one out of the three who wanted to avoid war or nuclear war at all costs. Kennedy and Castro seemed to have that as a secondary goal.

How Castro Held the World Hostage

The New York Times
October 25, 2012

By James G. Blight And Janet M. Lang

Waterloo, Ontario. On Oct. 26-27, 1962, human civilization came close to being destroyed. Schoolchildren were ordered into shelters; supermarket shelves were emptied of soup cans and bottled water. It was the most perilous moment of the Cuban missile crisis, and of the cold war. But the danger of Armageddon did not begin, as legend has it, when the United States learned that Soviet missiles had reached Cuba’s shores earlier that month.

Rather, it was driven by Fidel Castro’s fears and insecurities after the botched Bay of Pigs invasion and by the failures of President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev to take him seriously.

With Soviet missiles stationed on the island and America poised to attack, Cuba 50 years ago was far more dangerous than Iran or North Korea is today. But the 1962 crisis shows that a small, determined revolutionary state, backed into a corner and convinced of its inevitable demise, can bring the world to the brink of catastrophe.

Twenty years ago, we spent four days in Havana discussing the missile crisis with Mr. Castro, former Soviet officials and American decision makers from the Kennedy administration, including the former defense secretary Robert S. McNamara.

Mr. Castro’s interest had been piqued by the declassification and release of Soviet and American documents in 1991 and 1992, which both surprised and angered him. These included long-suppressed passages from memoirs, released 20 years after Khrushchev’s death, in which he wrote that Mr. Castro had become irrational and possibly suicidal and that the crisis had to end before Cuba ignited a nuclear war.

In addition, declassified letters between Khrushchev and Kennedy revealed the extent to which Washington and Moscow cut Cuba out of negotiations, refused to consider Cuban demands and eventually resolved the crisis in spite of Mr. Castro’s objections. So to truly understand how the world came close to Armageddon, one must look not to Washington and Moscow but to Havana.

After the American-sponsored Bay of Pigs debacle, Fidel Castro, then just 35 but already Cuba’s unquestioned ruler, drew an astonishing conclusion. “The result of aggression against Cuba will be the start of a conflagration of incalculable consequences, and they will be affected too,” he told the Cuban people. “It will no longer be a matter of them feasting on us. They will get as good as they give.”

For the next 18 months, Mr. Castro prepared for nuclear Armageddon, while Kennedy and Khrushchev sleepwalked toward the abyss. Focused on their global competition, the United States and the Soviet Union were clueless about the mind-set of the smaller, weaker, poorer party. Kennedy wanted Cuba off his agenda and he resolved never again to cave in to his hawkish advisers and critics, who had continued clamoring for an invasion of the island, even after the Bay of Pigs disaster.

Khrushchev, for his part, was worried about “losing Cuba” and decided in early 1962 to offer nuclear missiles to Mr. Castro to deter the invasion they both believed was being planned but that Kennedy was privately resolved to avoid. But as Khrushchev wrote in his memoirs, the Soviet Union never intended to actually use the missiles; they were merely pawns in a game of superpower competition.

However, Mr. Castro believed the fundamental purpose of Soviet nuclear weapons was to destroy the United States in the event of an invasion. After centuries of humiliation and irrelevance, he concluded, Cuba would matter fundamentally to the fate of humanity. Cuba couldn’t prevent the onslaught, nor could it expect to survive it. He insisted that the Cubans and Russians on the island would resist “to the last day and the last man, woman or child capable of holding a weapon.”

Around noon on Oct. 26, Mr. Castro summoned the Soviet ambassador, Aleksandr Alekseev, to his command post. Mr. Castro couldn’t understand why Soviet troops in Cuba were sitting on their hands while American planes were flying over the island with impunity.

He urged them to start shooting at U-2 spy planes with surface-to-air missiles and suggested that Cuban troops should begin firing on low-flying planes with antiaircraft guns, contrary to Soviet wishes.

Alekseev promised to relay Mr. Castro’s complaints to the Kremlin. Alekseev later told us he felt “almost schizophrenic” when he sent the cables to Moscow, because it was his duty to represent the cautious Soviet position, yet he himself, like Mr. Castro, expected an American onslaught. At that moment, “I was almost 100 percent Cuban,” he recalled.

While Cuba was preparing for nuclear war, Khrushchev and Kennedy were, unbeknown to Mr. Castro, moving toward a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Terrified that a catastrophic war might break out, Khrushchev took the initiative even as Kennedy was preparing an offer of his own. He wrote to Kennedy on Oct. 26: “Let us then display statesmenlike wisdom. I propose: we, for our part, will declare that our ships bound for Cuba are not carrying any armaments.

You will declare that the United States will not invade Cuba with its troops and will not support any other forces which might intend to invade Cuba. Then the necessity for the presence of our military specialists in Cuba will be obviated.” It would take another three agonizing weeks to work out the details, but Kennedy and Khrushchev had finally locked onto a common wavelength.

All these letters (except those delivered over the radio at the peak of the crisis) were methodically dictated, translated, encrypted and then transmitted. Such slow communication in a time of crisis seems inconceivable today, but at the heart of the cold war absolute secrecy was the objective, not speed. (It was only after the missile crisis that the “red phone” hot line between the White House and the Kremlin was installed.)

Unaware of Kennedy’s and Khrushchev’s progress toward a deal, at 2 a.m. on Oct. 27, Mr. Castro decided to write to Khrushchev, encouraging him to use his nuclear weapons to destroy the United States in the event of an invasion. At 3 a.m., he arrived at the Soviet Embassy and told Alekseev that they should go into the bunker beneath the embassy because an attack was imminent.

According to declassified Soviet cables, a groggy but sympathetic Alekseev agreed, and soon they were set up underground with Castro dictating and aides transcribing and translating a letter.

Mr. Castro became frustrated, uncertain about what to say. After nine drafts, with the sun rising, Alekseev finally confronted Mr. Castro: are you asking Comrade Khrushchev to deliver a nuclear strike on the United States? Mr. Castro told him, “If they attack Cuba, we should wipe them off the face of the earth!” Alekseev was shocked, but he dutifully assisted Mr. Castro in fine-tuning the 10th and final draft of the letter.

From his bunker, Mr. Castro wrote that, in the event of an American invasion, “the danger that that aggressive policy poses for humanity is so great that following that event the Soviet Union must never allow the circumstances in which the imperialists could launch the first nuclear strike against it.”

An invasion, he added, “would be the moment to eliminate such danger forever through an act of clear, legitimate defense however harsh and terrible the solution would be, for there is no other.” Mr. Castro was calm as he composed this last will and testament for the 6.5 million citizens of Cuba, and the 43,000 Russians on the island who would be incinerated alongside them.

According to his son and biographer, Sergei Khrushchev, the Soviet premier received that letter in the midst of a tense leadership meeting and shouted, “This is insane; Fidel wants to drag us into the grave with him!” Khrushchev hadn’t understood that Mr. Castro believed that Cuba was doomed, that war was inevitable, and that the Soviets should transform Cuba from a mere victim into a martyr.

By ignoring Mr. Castro’s messianic martyrdom, both Kennedy and Khrushchev inadvertently pushed the world close to Armageddon.

The parallels between the Cuban missile crisis and today’s nuclear standoff with Iran are inexact, but eerie. Cuba then and Iran now share a revolutionary mind-set, a belief that Washington’s goal is regime change, and a conviction that nuclear weapons might guarantee their survival in the face of unrelenting American hostility.

The third player in today’s crisis is not a superpower but Israel, which views a nuclear Iran as an unacceptable threat to its existence. Israel shares with Iran (and 1960s Cuba) a national narrative that is steeped in the glorification of military heroism in the face of potential defeat.

Whoever wins the presidential election must persuade the Israelis to restrain themselves. Iran’s leaders are rational, and Israel’s overwhelming nuclear superiority means that Israel need not fear Iran. America must convince Iran that it doesn’t need nuclear weapons, because it has nothing to fear from Israel or the United States. The American president must do what even Kennedy and Khrushchev could not: treat a lesser power as an equal and pay attention to its fears.

Ignoring Cuba’s insecurities 50 years ago pushed the world to the brink of catastrophe. Today we must be wary of backing the Iranians into a corner so that they feel they must choose between capitulation and martyrdom. In 1962, the Soviets just barely stopped the Cubans; this time, there is no Khrushchev.

James G. Blight and Janet M. Lang are professors at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the authors of The Armageddon Letters: Kennedy/Khrushchev/Castro in the Cuban Missile Crisis.


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