Category Archives: US War in Afghanistan

The Hell with the Pentagon

As the agency which enforces US foreign policy at gunpoint, the Pentagon has always blown.

First of all, there is no such thing as the Defense Department. When has the Pentagon ever defended the country? Pearl Harbor? They did a fine job there, huh?

Obviously the task of the Pentagon is not to defend the US mainland, which is all it ever ought to do anyway.

Its task is to running around the world starting wars and killing people in other countries. Leaving aside whether that is sometimes a good idea (and I think it is,) what’s so defensive about that?

The real name of the Pentagon is the War Department.That’s what it was always called until World War 2, which the War Department won. After that in a spate of Orwellian frenzy, we named an army of aggression an army of self-defense and comically renamed its branch the Defense Department.

It’s like calling cops peace officers. You see anything peaceful about what a cop does in a typical day? Neither do I?

There was a brief glimmer of hope there in WW2 when we finally starting killing fascists and rightwingers instead of sleeping with them, but the ink was barely dry on the agreements before we were setting up the Gladio fascists, overthrowing Greek elections and slaughtering Greek peasants like ants.

Meanwhile it was scarcely a year after 1945 when the US once again started a torrid love affair with fascism and rightwing dictators like we have always done. We were smooching it up right quick with Europe’s fascists, in this case the former Nazis of Germany (who became the West German elite), Greek killer colonels, Mussolini’s heirs, actual Nazis in Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, Jew-Nazis in Palestine, Franco (who we never stopped sleeping with anyway), Salazar, the malign Mr. Churchill, the true repulsive Dutch royalty and disgusting European colonists the world over, who we showered with guns and bombs to massacre the colonized.

In 1945, a war against fascism, reaction, Nazism and malign colonialism had ended, and for some reason America had fought against these things instead of supporting them as usual.

1946, and we were back in old style again, hiring Nazis by the busload for the CIA, overthrowing democratic governments and putting in genocidal dictatorships, becoming butt buddies with fascist swine everywhere.

So you see we have always pretty much sucked. World War 1 was fought amidst one of the most dishonest propaganda campaigns the world had ever seen, the Korean War was a Godawful mess where we turned North Korea to flaming rubble with the population cowering in caves while slaughtering 3 million North Koreans.

The horrific catastrophe called the Indochinese Wars, such as the Vietnam War, the Secret War in Laos and the Cambodian Massacre, where we genocided 500,000 Cambodians with bombs, driving the whole place crazy and creating the Khmer Rogue.

Panama and Grenada were pitiful jokes, malign, raw, naked imperialism at its worst.

The Gulf War was a brief return to sanity but turkey shoots are sickening.

Of course that followed on with the most evil war in US history, the Nazi-like war on aggression called The War on the Iraqi People (usually called the Iraq War), the Afghan rabbit hole which started out sensibly enough but turned into another Vietnam style Great Big Mess.

I suppose it is ok that we are killing Al Qaeda guys and I give a shout out to our boys over there fighting ISIS or the Taliban and Al Qaeda in South-Central Asia, Somalia and Yemen. Some people need killing.

But I sure don’t feel that way about their superiors, the US officers who fund and direct ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc. out of an Operations Center in Jordan with Jordanian, Israeli (!), Saudi, UAE, and Qatari officers.

And it was very thoughtful of the Pentagon to cover up the Ukrainian Air Force shootdown of the jetliner which we saw on the radar of our ships in Black Sea.

And it was nice of the US to relay the flight path of the Russian jet to the Turks 24 hours in advance so they could shoot down that Russian jet and kill that pilot.

One hand giveth and the other taketh away. For every good thing we do in Syria and Iraq, we do 10 or 20 bad things. Pretty much the story of the Pentagon.

Sure if you fought in WW2 or one of the few other decent wars, you have something to be proud of, and I can even say, “Thank you for your service,” but the main thing is that you signed up for the rightwing army of the rich that is dead set against the people and popular rule everywhere on Earth. Sure, it’s a great army, professional, super-competent and deadly, but it’s generally tasked with doing lousy things. Why anyone would sign up for that reactionary nightmare of an institution is beyond me. America needs to level the Pentagon and put in a true People’s Army instead. Like that would ever happen.

9 Comments

Filed under Africa, Americas, Asia, Britain, Cambodia, Caribbean, Central America, Cold War, Colonialism, Conservatism, East Africa, Eurasia, Europe, Fascism, Geopolitics, Germany, Government, Greece, History, Imperialism, Iraq War, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Laos, Latin America, Lithuania, Middle East, Military Doctrine, Modern, National Socialism, Nazism, NE Asia, Netherlands, North Korea, Palestine, Panama, Political Science, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Russia, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Somalia, Spain, Syria, Ukraine, US, US War in Afghanistan, USA, Vietnam, Vietnam War, War, World War 1, World War 2, Yemen

Syrian Government Sued for Killing US Journalist

Here.

I am sure that they did it. That’s a nasty little regime they have over there in Syria. On the other hand, Assad seems to be better than any of the alternatives, which isn’t saying much.

I never agree with targeting journalists during war, but increasingly just about everyone does it. We definitely targeted journalists and even whole media outfits in the first weeks of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. We bombed the Al Jazeera building in Kabul, and we attacked Al Jazeera reporters in a Baghdad hotel. There were fatalities in both cases. In both Iraq wars, the US bombed all major Iraqi news outlets and newspapers, but most of them kept reporting anyway. The Pentagon said they were targeted for “disseminating enemy propaganda in wartime.”

Recent Pentagon documents discuss the need to “control the narrative” during wartime and speak of another need to silence enemy critics and journalists who are seen as combatants in an information war. The language used to describe propaganda, controlling the narrative and targeting journalists sympathetic to the enemy is genuinely creepy.

Lousy countries always do this sort of thing in wartime, but I thought we were above this.

Putin has had reporters beaten up for reporting on Russian soldiers who were killed fighting in Ukraine when there supposed to be no Russians there. He is also implicated in the killing of journalists, including a woman who was famous for reporting on Russian atrocities in Chechnya.

Turkey routinely targets journalists, especially Kurdish reporters. A number of them have been killed.

Israel is notorious for targeting journalists. Palestinian journalists are arrested regularly, and a number have been shot by soldiers. A fair number of them have been killed. Some American journalists have also been killed by the IDF, and at least one was killed.

The US would not defend this journalist at all, and instead seemed to take Israel’s side. So here we have a government that supports a foreign state over its own people. Our country should be called “USrael” to symbolize the extent to which we dutifully support this foreign country against all common sense. An interview with a representative of the Israeli government regarding this case was tense and combative, and the Israeli seemed to be arguing that journalists were legitimate targets as some sort of “terrorist supporters” or “terror propagandists.”

I was always taught that my country was the good guy. I was taught how we generally fought fair and square in World War 2. This made me so proud to be an American. I learned quite a few things since then that made me question that line. But this recent behavior of the Pentagon’s has made me lose all hope. I had thought we were above this sort of crap and that we believed in fighting fair at least out of a gentlemanly honor. Turns out I was wrong. While we do fight quite a bit more fairly than most other countries (and so do the Israelis), a lot of our behavior is scumbucket low down there with the worst Turd World shitholes.

Color me disenchanted. I am not so much an America-hater as a disappointed patriot gone sour.

6 Comments

Filed under Caucasus, Chechnya, Eurasia, Europe, Government, Iraq War, Israel, Journalism, Middle East, Near East, Regional, Russia, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, US War in Afghanistan, USA, War, World War 2

Hillary Clinton, Neoconservative Dream Candidate

Here.

Good God, she’s a nightmare. This election is going to be about who we despise least. I hate Trump, but I definitely despise Killary/Hitlery Clinton, neocon warmonger maniac.

Trump is truly catastrophic and must be stopped by all means. But Hillary is a nightmare. Hillary’s a turd, and Trump is 24 hour diarrhea. I really hate both of them, but I hate Hillary less. But that ain’t saying much, because there are few humans I hate more than Donald Trump.

4 Comments

Filed under Asia, Britain, Conservatism, Democrats, Economics, Eurasia, Europe, Iran, Iraq War, Islam, Middle East, Nationalism, Neoconservatism, Neoliberalism, Political Science, Politics, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Republicans, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sunnism, Syria, US Politics, US War in Afghanistan, Vietnam War, War

“Monopoly Capital and Capitalist Inequality: Marx after Piketty,” By Thomas E. Lambert

Great article that concludes that almost all of the massive wealth that has accumulated among the wealthy in the US in recent years has been due to an huge increase in the economic surplus which has been due to two factors: flat wage growth (high worker exploitation) and investment in unproductive sectors of the US economy. I believe he is correct. Piketty’s book is supposed to be great, but I have not yet read it.

Monopoly Capital and Capitalist Inequality: Marx after Piketty

By Thomas E. Lambert

Assistant Professor of Public Administration
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, KY 41099
Lambertt1@nku.edu
502-403-9795 (cell)

Abstract

This paper proposes that one major explanation of growing inequality in the United States (US) is through the use of the concept of economic surplus. The economic surplus is a neo-Marxian term which combines the traditional Marxian tenet of surplus value with other ways that surplus value can be invested in a mature, advanced capitalist economy.

A rising economic surplus that is not absorbed through growing consumer spending, luxury spending or government spending results in stagnant wages and growing inequality via higher levels of underemployment and greater monopoly and monopsony power among a decreasing number of huge, powerful corporations. Therefore, the politics surrounding the growth of inequality in the US has to be understood first by understanding over accumulation of the economic surplus by those at the top of the US capitalist class.

This research note gives estimates of the rising economic surplus over the last several decades in the US as well as how these correlate with the level of inequality. The growth of the economic surplus gives rise and form to the politics of inequality and austerity. As time goes by, the politics of inequality and austerity in the US will be manifested by greater corporate influence in the political system, greater political polarization, less government effectiveness, and more debates about welfare spending, corporate taxation, taxes on upper income households, and taxes on wealth.

Introduction

According to a recent, nationwide opinion poll, approximately 63% of United States (US) survey respondents indicated that US wealth and income differences should be more equally distributed (Newport 2015). In many political discussions and discourse in the US, the topic of economic inequality is growing in importance, especially as one major candidate for US President has made it a cornerstone of his campaign (Talbot 2015).

Additionally, the notoriety of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century (2014, English edition) has added grist to the debate since one of Piketty’s main points is that a large degree of economic inequality is the norm in a capitalistic system, not the exception. Piketty contends that some degree of inequality has been driven by the large increases in managerial and CEO pay over the years (p. 24), although a lot of research has failed to show a link between a management team’s pay and corporate performance (Collins 2001, Chemi and Giorgio 2014).

Add to this his assertion that rates of return on wealth and assets, or r, are greater than economic growth, or g, then in any society, most of national income tends to accumulate with the investor class, and part of this income becomes more assets and wealth. His central equation, r > g, explains why great concentrations of wealth yield even more wealth concentration as time goes by, especially if r is far above g.

Finally, with large concentrations of wealth, inherited wealth becomes more and more important in skewing the wealth toward those in the top income ranges, especially if inheritance and income taxes are kept low by national governments.

One solution to extremely skewed wealth distribution would be an international tax on wealth and/or inheritances, but Piketty believes these unlikely to come into effect. Therefore, despite astute analysis of why inequality persists and even becomes worse, Piketty’s recommendations to address it are tenuous given political power imbalances in most societies and the inability of nation-states to coordinate actions to solve problems.

Nonetheless, Piketty is at least concerned about the long term impacts of extreme inequality in most nations whereas some mainstream economists do not see it as a big problem if a problem at all. Instead, according to these economists, income and wealth inequalities within a society can be explained mostly by differences in labor productivity and educational attainment differences among those in the labor force (Feldstein 1999).

On the other hand, critics of extreme inequality claim that too much income and wealth inequality can result in greater political and social alienation or even turmoil on the part of the citizenry, possibly due to the development of a static class structure or rule by oligarchy (Solt 2008, Newman, Johnston and Lown 2015).

One school of neo-Marxist thought, the “monopoly capital” point of view (Baran and Sweezy 1966, Foster 2014 among others), posits that modern inequality exists because of traditional Marxist explanations of worker exploitation and because of the power of land owners in the past and in modern times (a rentier class) and mostly because of the political and market powers of large, modern day corporations (i.e., many oligopolistic and monopolistic consumer markets and monopsonistic labor markets).

Market concentration allows for restricted output (excess capacity), which in turn yields high markups on product prices. Restricted output lessens the demand for labor, which along with monoposonistic labor markets (in which workers are limited with regard to employer choices) limit the earnings of workers and raises the unemployment rate beyond what it would be otherwise.

In the monopoly capital school of thought, Piketty’s observation of r > g can be easily explained by the degree of corporate and upper class dominance in a society in that market concentration and power in product and labor markets yields higher returns and profits than in competitive markets relative to what workers can earn in wages (Foster and Yates 2014, Andrews 2014). With wages stagnant or not increasing fast enough to keep up with inflation, this makes the degree of labor exploitation even stronger (Piketty 2014, Lambert and Kwon 2015a).

Finally, since innovation and the resulting products from innovation usually reach a peak in sales and market share, g is usually low, and so the economy usually tends toward stagnation. That is, according to the monopoly capital point of view, the product life cycle of rapid growth, slow growth, and then peak sales occurs with all products, and if no further innovations are forthcoming to keep an economy growing, then slow or negative growth occurs.

This is compounded by the fact that as many industries cease to grow as rapidly as they have in their early stages, jobs are eventually shed as labor saving techniques are introduced, and this can exacerbate any unemployment and inequality problems. Finally, slow growing or declining sales in existing product markets and a lack of new products or markets in which to invest lead to fewer investment outlets for the upper capitalist class. This causes the “economic surplus” of a society to rise, which can be manifested in over accumulation of surplus or under consumption of goods and services.

According to Baran and Sweezy (1966), the economic surplus is the amount over and above what is required to produce a given level of output and is normally considered as comprised of things such business profits, property rents, interest payments, and wasteful expenditures on such things as luxury items, advertising, retailing, research and development1, finance, and military programs. Using Piketty’s equation (or inequality), since r > g, the surplus of the wealthier classes rises faster than what it can invest in productive investment or assets.

Hence, in order to use the excess surplus that is accumulated, the result is spending on many wasteful items according to Baran and Sweezy. Wasteful and non-wasteful activities are seen from a traditional Marxian perspective these that uses a non-productive and productive dichotomy for classifying economic activity and labor.2

Productive activity or labor includes those activities such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining, utilities, construction, transportation, and some forms of government activity such as education, sanitation, and emergency services (Baran and Sweezy 1966, Shaikh and Tonak 1994, Mohun 1996 and 2014 among others).

These activities and labor are considered productive because they produce surplus value and add value in that they satisfy the consumer needs of food, clothing, shelter, education, etc.

Those economic sectors that are classified as unproductive add little or no value and are only ancillary to the productive sectors of the economy. Yet, the unproductive sectors are necessary in order to provide an outlet for accumulated surplus that cannot be channeled into productive sectors if the latter are not growing (Baran and Sweezy 1966).

For Baran and Sweezy (1966) this combination of surplus value obtained from worker exploitation (where workers produced output greater than their wages) and expenditures for non-productive labor and activities made up their concept of the economic surplus.

Therefore, as wages remain stagnant or decline as prices and profits rise (which would cause r to increase even more relative to g in Piketty’s equation) and as non-productive sectors grow, then a nation’s economic surplus would grow. Along with this growth in economic surplus, as wages are stagnant or declining, one would expect to see rising inequality due to rising labor exploitation, and so there should be a high degree of correlation between the economic surplus and inequality.

This research note proceeds as follows. Next is a section in which the methods of evaluating the argument that the economic surplus and inequality are linked are discussed. Then a results section summarizes the findings. Finally, a discussion and conclusion elaborate on the research results and offers recommendations for further research.

Methods

This paper uses time series, least squares regression to predict the levels of income inequality (top 1% income share, including capital gains) and wealth inequality (net private wealth as a portion of all income3) in the US from 1929 to 2013 using the monopoly capital concept of economic surplus as a percentage of GDP. This is a method similar to that used by Lambert and Kwon (2015a) in which they predicted the percentage change in top income shares over a similar time period using different concepts of surplus and other variables.

The top 1% income share and wealth to total income numbers come from the World Wealth and Income Database, a database created by Piketty and other researchers of inequality (Alvaredo, Atkinson, Piketty , Saez, and Zucman 2016). The economic surplus as a portion of US GDP was used by Baran and Sweezy (1966) to illustrate the level of exploitation occurring in the US over time.

In an appendix by Joseph D. Phillips, the surplus as a portion of GDP is constructed as the sum of business profits, rent, property income, interest, dividends, depreciation, and the value of the “wasteful” sectors of the economy (e.g., finance, insurance, real estate, services, government etc.) divided by GDP.

Later, Shaikh and Tonak (1994) fine-tuned the economic surplus concept as a portion of GDP that is basically the value of Gross Domestic Product less the value of the wages and salaries in the productive sectors of the economy. This paper adapts their concept, which has also been used by other authors (Wolf 1987, Lambert and Kwon 2015a and 2015b). The source of the data is from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) National Economics Accounts tables website, http://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm , and more specifically Table 1.1.5, Gross Domestic Product and Table 6.2A, Compensation of Employees by Industry.4

This paper contends that there should be a high degree of correlation between the economic surplus and two variables, income and wealth inequality, since capitalist wealth and income are extracted by high rates of labor exploitation and the wasteful investment of surplus into productive and non-productive activities.

Results

Figures 1 and 2 show that the economic surplus concept and the income and wealth shares are highly correlated and have strong, direct and positive relationships. Table 1, Model 1, shows the economic surplus as a percentage of GDP to be a statistically significant predictor of the income shares of the top 1%, and it explains about 88% of the variation in top 1% income shares.

A one percent increase in economic surplus is associated with around a 12% increase in top 1% income share on average. In Model 2, a 1% increase in economic surplus as a share of GDP predicts a 163% increase in the wealth to income percentage on average.

Model 2 shows the economic surplus variable to be statistically significant and explains about 73% of the variation in wealth to income. In using ordinary least squares analysis, the Durbin-Watson statistic is less than the lower critical value at α < 0.05 for both models indicating positive serial correlation, so Newey-West standard errors to correct for any autocorrelation or serial correlation are used in both models (Studenmund 2006, pages 334-335).

Discussion and Conclusion

The regression results support the hypotheses advanced by this paper. The bulk of the gains made by the upper classes in US society appear to have occurred because of increases in US economic surplus, which grew as a result of stagnant wages to labor (or greater labor exploitation) and greater investment in what Baran and Sweezy (1966) would characterize as “waste” – the unproductive sectors of the US economy (Lambert and Kwon 2015a).

Politically, greater labor exploitation and greater inequality in both wealth and income make for a potentially volatile situation according to Piketty (2014).

Toward the end of his book The Theory of Capitalist Development (1970 (1942 original), set in the US during the Great Depression and on the eve of its entry into World War II, Paul Sweezy speculates on the question of whether fascism is inevitable in a society which has suffered and continues to suffer a major economic crisis.

Similar to the nations that suffered trauma during and after World War I because of economic hardships, military defeat and/or subsequent economic crisis (e.g., Germany and Italy), the US was dealing with high unemployment and excess industrial capacity, although the US had come out of World War I stronger than any other nation in the world.

Sweezy believes that a nation which has embarked in imperialist ventures in the past (i.e., has had colonies or territories) and has a capitalist economy, although a faltering one, and has suffered some type of national trauma (war, depression, etc.) is a good candidate for a fascistic takeover of the government. He rejects this as an inevitability for the US during the time of his writings for the book, but leaves open the possibility for a later date should circumstances change.

Have circumstances changed enough since then? Other writings on fascism and socialism offer some clues as to possible future scenarios. The US has possibly suffered the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression due to the 2007-2009 Great Recession and its aftermath.

Subsequent economic growth after the recession’s “end” in 2009 has been very slow, with stagnant wages, a great number of people dropping out of the labor force, an increase in the official poverty rate, and now an apparent slowdown in the global economy, which could spell more trouble for the US economy (Greenhouse and Leonhardt 2006, Foster and Magdoff 2009, Lambert 2011, Mongiovi 2015, Patnaik 2016).

Although illegal immigration has declined during this time period, there still persists a common belief among the working classes that a large number of illegal immigrants are harming the working class (Goo 2015). Additionally, the aftermath of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and continued problems with terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS have put the nation almost on a perpetual wartime footing since 2001.

Fascism has been generally defined as a political and economic system which arises from national political and/or economic turmoil and wherein capitalism is seen as chaotic and has to be managed by a strong, nationalistic government led by elites which seeks to unite labor and upper class interests rather than try to exploit class struggle.

The capitalist class, however, is allowed to retain its property rights and business interests, although it now has to submit to a “managed” form of capitalism in which industry is organized into large and cooperative cartels (Sabine and Thorson 1973, Carsten 1980, Renton 1999, Amin 2014). In return for full and steady employment, labor gives up its unions and a large number of its rights, which assists with an austerity efforts to balance national budgets and pay off debts.

Such a compromise goes a long way in managing social spending that cannot keep up with the chaos (economic downturns), unemployment, poverty, and inequality brought about due to capitalism’s excesses (O’Connor 1973). Piketty (2014) acknowledges that much of the austerity movement in developed and developing countries has emanated from the fact that most bondholders are from the world’s wealthy and upper classes, and therefore, austerity is imposed to make sure that the debt is properly serviced and paid, even if it means harsh conditions for debtor nations.

Fascism does seem plausible in other nations that are undergoing austerity due to having to repay debts to the IMF or other financial institutions. Repressive regimes could arise when faced with labor and working class strife arising from a negative reaction to austerity measures. Although there is a more remote chance in the US since many of its financial institutions hold such debt, it is not entirely out of the question.

This is due to the possibility of chronic deficits and a debt level at 100% of GDP which the nation does not seem capable of adequately addressing in the current political climate. Inaction with regard to increasing taxes or significantly decreasing spending seems to be the norm now, although this may change if the economy becomes very bad in the future.

O’Connor (1973) speculates that greater and greater levels of social spending are necessary in a monopoly capitalist economy due to capitalist interests being able to shift more and more social problems on to the government (spending on unemployment, welfare, and job training, for example). Yet at the same time, capitalist interests resist greater levels of taxation.

With the resistance to higher taxes and a rising budget deficit and debt level, austerity and cutbacks are the next option, which in turn could lead to a working class revolt. The reaction to such a revolt could lead to some type of politically and economically repressive regime. This is a grim but possible scenario unfortunately.

Table 1: Times Series, Least Squares
Model 1: Dependent Variable is US Top 1% Income Shares including Capital Gains, 1929 to 2013
b
(Newey-West standard errors)

Constant -21.672
Econ Surplus as Pct. GDP 12.011***
(0.559)

Adjusted r2 : 0.883

n = 85

Model 2: Dependent Variable is Net Private Wealth as Pct. Of Income, 1929 to 2013
b
(Newey-West standard errors)

Constant -110.008
Econ Surplus as Pct. GDP 163.091***
(34.098)

Adjusted r2 : 0.731

n = 85

***p < 0.01

References

Alvaredo, Facundo, Tony Atkinson, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. 2016. “World Wealth and Income Database”. Accessed on January 22, 2016.

Amin, Samir. 2014. “The Return of Fascism in Contemporary Capitalism”, Monthly Review, 66(04) (September). Accessed on January 23, 2016.

Andrews, Charles. 2014. “Professor Piketty Fights Orthodoxy and Attacks Inequality”, Marxism-Leninism Today. Accessed on January 10, 2016.

Baran, Paul A. and Paul M. Sweezy. 1966. Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Carsten, F. L. 1980. The Rise of Fascism, Second Edition. University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Collins, James C. 2001. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Do Not. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Chemi, Eric and Ariana Giorgi. 2014. “The Pay-for-Performance Myth”, Bloomberg Business. July 22, 2014. Accessed on January 8, 2016.

Feldstein, Martin. 1999. “Reducing Poverty, Not Inequality”. The Public Interest, Number 137, Fall 1999. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. . Accessed on January 8, 2016.

Foster, John Bellamy. 2014. The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism, Second Edition. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Foster, J. B., and F. Magdoff. 2009. The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Foster, John Bellamy and Michael D. Yates. 2014. “Piketty and the Crisis of Neoclassical Economics”, Monthly Review, 66(6) (November): 1-24. . Accessed on January 10, 2016.

Goo, Sarah Kehaulani. 2015. “What Americans Want to Do about Illegal Immigration”, Pew Research Center, Fact-tank. August 24, 2015. . Accessed on January 23, 2016.

Greenhouse, S., and D. Leonhard. 2006. Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity. The New York Times, August 28. Available at .

Houston, David. 1997. “Productive-Unproductive Labor: Rest in Peace,” Review of Radical Political Economics, 29(1): 131-139.

Laibman, David. 1999. “Productive and Unproductive Labor: A Comment,” Review of Radical Political Economics, 31(2): 61-73.

Lambert, Thomas E. 2011. Falling Income and Debt: Comparing Views of a Major Cause of the Great Recession. World Review of Political Economy 2(2): 247-261.

Lambert, Thomas E. and Edward Kwon. 2015a. “The Top 1 Percent and Exploitation Measures,” Review of Radical Political Economics, 47(3): 465-476.

Lambert, Thomas E. and Edward Kwon. 2015b. “Monopoly Capital and Capitalist Inefficiency,” International Review of Applied Economics, 29(4): 1-20.

Mongiovi, Gary. 2015. “Piketty on Capitalism and Inequality: A Radical Economics Perspective,” Review of Radical Economists, 47(4): 558-565.

Mohun, Simon. 1996. “Productive and Unproductive Labor in the Labor Theory of Value”, Review of Radical Political Economics, 28(4) (December): 30–54.

___________. 2014. “Unproductive Labor in the U.S. Economy, 1964-2010,” Review of Radical Political Economics, 46(3): 355-379.

Newman, Benjamin J., Christopher D. Johnston and Patrick L. Lown. 2015. “False Consciousness or Class Awareness? Local Income Inequality, Personal Economic Position, and Belief in American Meritocracy”, American Journal of Political Science, 59 (2): 326–340. April 2015.

Newport, Frank. 2015. “Americans Continue to Say U.S. Wealth Distribution Is Unfair”, Gallup Poll. May 4, 2015. http://www.ips-dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/CEO-stocking-stuffers-report.pdf. Accessed on January 4, 2016.

O’Connor, James. 1973. The Fiscal Crisis of the State. St. Martin’s Press: New York.

Patnaik, Prabhat. 2016. “Capitalism and Its Current Crisis”, Monthly Review, 67(8) January: 1-13.

Renton, Dave. 1999. Fascism: Theory and Practice. London: Pluto Press, 1999. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed January 21, 2016).

Sabine, George H. and Thomas L. Thorson. 1973. A History of Political Theory, Fourth Edition. Dryden Press: Hinsdale, Illinois.

Shaikh, Anwar and E. Ahmet Tonak. 1994. Measuring the Wealth of Nations: The Political Economy of National Accounts. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Solt, Frederick. 2008. “Economic Inequality and Democratic Political Engagement”, American Journal of Political Science, 52(1): 48-60. January 2008.

Studenmund, A. H. 2006. Using Econometrics: A Practical Guide, 5th Edition. Pearson Education, Addison-Wesley: Boston, Massachusetts

Sweezy, Paul M. 1970 (1942). The Theory of Capitalist Development: Principles of Marxian Political Economy. New York and London: Modern Reader Paperbacks and Monthly Review Press.

Talbot, Margaret. 2015. “The Populist Prophet”, The New Yorker. October 20, 2015.. Accessed on January 4, 2016.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 2016. GDP and NIPA accounts. Available at .

U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2012. Labor Force Statistics. Available at .

Wolff, Edward N. 1987. Growth, Accumulation, and Unproductive Activity: An Analysis of the Postwar U.S. Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2 Comments

Filed under Capitalism, Economics, Education, Fascism, Government, History, Illegal, Immigration, Imperialism, Iraq War, Labor, Left, Marxism, Modern, Political Science, Politics, Radical Islam, Regional, Social Problems, Socialism, Sociology, Terrorism, US, US Politics, US War in Afghanistan, USA, War, World War 1, World War 2

The Dirty War on Syria: New E-Book by Prof. Tim Anderson

Everything in the article below is pretty much 100% true. And everything below is completely contradictory to the narrative laid out by the Western media. You’re being lied to. You’re being brainwashed. Almost everything you are reading about Syria is either biased, war propaganda or an out and out lie.

Key points:

The propaganda in the Western media uses some of the worst lying in recent memory.

The Western-backed moderate rebels are mostly Al Qaeda, allied with Al Qaeda or similar to Al Qaeda. There are some secular nationalist rebels, but their numbers are not large.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have been arming the Al Qaeda aligned rebels with incredible amounts of weaponry. They have also been training them. All of this is being done under US supervision. NATO is also deeply involved for some insane reason.

ISIS is mostly a pretext used by the US and other Western countries to stay involved militarily in the region, often for nefarious means. In other words, “war on ISIS” is used as a cover by the West to overthrow Assad. It’s all phony. Bottom line is that ISIS is a US asset. If you don’t know what that means, go look up the word asset when it comes to intelligence agencies and then get back to me. Briefly, an asset is an entity that while not controlled by the US and often scapegoated or even attacked by the US, is nevertheless used by the US (as an asset) when it is convenient. Many armed groups do not even know that they are US assets.

It is not just that almost all of the village massacres were done by the rebels, but instead that 100% of them were. The Assad regime simply does not operate that way. Yes, they can be very nasty and they do kill civilians, this is definitely true. Syrian use of barrel bombs on mostly civilian targets in cities controlled by the rebels was particularly deplorable. If the Assad regime doesn’t like you or wants you dead or gone, they simply arrest you and disappear you in some military prison somewhere. There you will be tortured, in many cases to death. You will be deprived of adequate nutrition and all medical care and you will be beaten regularly.

But going into a village, rounding up scores of civilians and massacring them, often in horrific ways including beheading and various forms of dismemberment and disembowelment? The Syrian regime doesn’t play like that. They simply do not do such things or at least have not in this recent war. As noted above, they have other ways of dealing with hostile civilians, such as the deplorable barrel bombs. But rounding up civilians in villages and slaughtering them is simply not Assad’s style. If they want you dead or gone, they have other preferred ways of doing so.

The Dirty War on Syria: New E-Book by Prof. Tim Anderson

By Global Research

Global Research Publishers has launched Professor Tim Anderson’s timely and important book on Syria

The E-book is available for purchase from Global Research 

Reviews:

Tim Anderson  has written the best systematic critique of western fabrications justifying the war against the Assad government. 

No other text brings together all the major accusations and their effective refutation.

This text is essential reading for all peace and justice activists.  -James Petras, Author and Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Tim Anderson’s important new book, titled “The Dirty War on Syria” discusses US naked aggression – “rely(ing) on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory,” he explains.

ISIS is the pretext for endless war without mercy, Assad the target, regime change the objective, wanting pro-Western puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.

There’s nothing civil about war in Syria, raped by US imperialism, partnered with rogue allies. Anderson’s book is essential reading to understand what’s going on. Stephen Lendman, Distinguished Author and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Host of the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Professor Anderson demonstrates unequivocally through carefully documented research that America’s “moderate opposition” are bona fide Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists created and protected by the US and its allies, recruited  and trained by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, in liaison with Washington and Brussels.

Through careful analysis, professor Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth”: the “war on terrorism” is fake, the United States is a “state sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of Ottawa.

Click here to purchase Tim Anderson’s Book (pdf) 

Synopsis:

The Dirty War on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. In seeking ‘regime change’ the big powers sought to hide their hand, using proxy armies of ‘Islamists’, demonizing the Syrian Government and constantly accusing it of atrocities. In this way Syrian President Bashar al Assad, a mild-mannered eye doctor, became the new evil in the world.

The popular myths of this dirty war – that it is a ‘civil war’, a ‘popular revolt’ or a sectarian conflict – hide a murderous spree of ‘regime change’ across the region. The attack on Syria was a necessary consequence of Washington’s ambition, stated openly in 2006, to create a ‘New Middle East’. After the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Syria was next in line.

Click image to purchase Tim Anderson’s Book (pdf) 

Five years into this war the evidence is quite clear and must be set out in detail. The terrible massacres were mostly committed by the Western backed jihadists, then blamed on the Syrian Army. The Western media and many Western NGOs parroted the official line. Their sources were almost invariably those allied to the ‘jihadists’. Contrary to the myth that the big powers now have their own ‘war on terror’, those same powers have backed every single anti-government armed group in Syria, ‘terrorists’ in any other context, adding thousands of ‘jihadis’ from dozens of countries.

Yet in Syria this dirty war has confronted a disciplined national army which did not disintegrate along sectarian lines. Despite terrible destruction and loss of life, Syria has survived, deepening its alliance with Russia, Iran, the Lebanese Resistance, the secular Palestinians and, more recently, with Iraq. The tide has turned against Washington, and that will have implications beyond Syria.

As Western peoples we have been particularly deceived by this dirty war, reverting to our worst traditions of intervention, racial prejudice and poor reflection on our own histories. This book tries to tell its story while rescuing some of the better western traditions: the use of reason, ethical principle and the search for independent evidence.

Click here to purchase Tim Anderson’s Book PDF

Leave a comment

Filed under Eurasia, Europe, Geopolitics, Imperialism, Iran, Iraq, Iraq War, Journalism, Lebanon, Libya, Middle East, North Africa, Palestine, Political Science, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Terrorism, Turkey, US War in Afghanistan, USA, War

“France’s Response to Paris Attacks Encourages ISIS’s Caliphate Fantasy,” by Eric Walberg

Eric is a personal friend of mine and he published this on Academia.edu so that usually means anyone can grab it as long as you credit them. Lately, Eric writes for the Iranian media, presumably for money. I believe Kieth Preston is also writing for the Iranians these days.

I am putting this up mostly to provoke discussion.

France’s Response to Paris Attacks Encourages ISIS’s Caliphate Fantasy

Eric Walberg

France’s emotional response to the recent tragedy, devoid of reason and ignoring history, just makes matters worse.

 

The death toll in the November 13 attacks in Paris stands at 127. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent a message to his French counterpart Francois Hollande condemning the attacks. “In the name of the Iranian nation, itself a victim of the evil scourge of terrorism, I strongly condemn these inhumane crimes and condole with the bereaved French nation and government.”

In contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened his weekly Cabinet meeting by calling on world leaders to condemn terror against … Israel. He began by addressing the killing of two Israelis, ignoring the 81 Palestinians who have died in protests this month. “The time has come for the nations of the world to condemn terrorism against us as much as they condemn terrorism anywhere else in the world.” He pledged Israeli intelligence assistance to France, adding “An attack on any of us needs to be seen as an attack on all of us.”

Translate: France’s tragedy is a wake-up call for solidarity with … Israel.

France’s Colonial Legacy

Until 2012, France was spared serious terrorist attacks, but its enduring colonial mentality continues to stoke anger. Most evident recently was the official defense of anti-Muslim hate literature published by the magazine Charlie Hebdo. Rather than persecuting the Islamophobes, which would have prevented blowback by enraged Muslims, the French insistence on freedom led to an attack in January on the Paris offices of the magazine, killing 12 people and wounding 11 others.

Worse yet, the new Socialist President Hollande pushed ahead with a return to outright colonial invasion, with air strikes and arms to Syrian rebels in opposition to both the Syrian government and ISIS supporters. This confused policy only makes sense if the intent is to dismantle the Syrian state and refashion a Syrian puppet government, harking back to France’s invasion of Syria-Lebanon following WWI in collusion with Britain, when they destroyed the Ottoman state and set up puppet regimes across the Middle East.

France was slow to adjust to post-WWII decolonization, and stubbornly maintained its military presence not only in Vietnam but in the Middle East. Along with Britain, now both humiliated bankrupt powers, it was in no position to enforce its will, and it handed over its colonial possessions to the US either directly or via the new world order institutions. Plus, of course, intrigue where a glimmer of independence appeared, as in Iran in 1953 or Egypt 1956.

Worst of all was the horror France inflicted for more than a century in Algeria. Algeria had to suffer a long, brutal war of liberation in which a million Algerians died before France finally left in 1962. French meddling in Algeria since has only compounded the animosity, especially the support given the military coup in 1992 in which 200,000 Algerians died.

France’s current return to openly colonial policies, first in Afghanistan, then Libya, Mali and now Syria, are guaranteed to have dire consequences. To its credit, France did not support the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, but there are now 3,200 French troops there.

France and US Support the Terrorists

France and the US have played a dangerous and foolish hand in their great games of asserting world power, at times using jihadists (1980s in Afghanistan) and at other times attacking them (1990s+ in Afghanistan), sometimes both at the same time (2011+ in Syria).

“Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar,” John McCain told CNN in January 2014. Is McCain not aware that two of the most successful factions fighting Syrian President Assad’s forces are Islamist extremist groups Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, and that their success is due to the support they have received from Qatar and Saudi Arabia? A senior Qatari official told The Atlantic journalist Steve Clemons that “he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities. But ISIS is another matter. As one senior Qatari official stated, ‘ISIS has been a Saudi project.’”

France doesn’t have a wild card like McCain, but, like the US, supports Islamic fundamentalists in Syria and elsewhere through its ties with the Saudi and Qatari regimes and its actions in Syria. Even after it became obvious to everyone that the regime change project in Syria has led to an expansion of terrorism, Hollande was still pursuing it.

But then this hypocrisy goes for all the western nations, in the first place Canada, which has been bombing Syrian rebels and, at the same time, just signed a $14.8b arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The largest arms exports contract in Canadian history will be remembered as going to one of the worst human rights violators in the world and a funder of ISIS-related groups in Syria and Iraq.

In fact, Canada’s record on bombing Muslims in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, on restricting burqas and promoting ‘free speech’ defaming Islam, mirrors France, and led to a shooting last year that penetrated the parliament buildings in Ottawa and had Prime Minister Harper cowering in his closet.

Harper’s answer, when he had stopped shaking, was the same as Hollande’s: he insisted that “Canada will not be intimidated” by acts of violence and remained committed to Canada’s efforts “to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations … who bring their savagery to our shores.” He did admit that “we’re all aware and deeply troubled that both attacks were carried out by Canadian citizens, by young men born and raised in this peaceful country,” but, like Hollande today, failed to draw the logical conclusion.

Powder Keg

France has the largest Muslim population in Europe at 4m. Despite its claims of “liberty, equality and brotherhood”, it is considered the most racist country in Europe. French-Algerian communities still live on impoverished housing estates, go to bad schools, and have few opportunities for social advancement.

Discrimination in everything from jobs to housing is routine. There are few French-Algerians in politics, the law, the media or any other profession, though the prisons are full. Hollande refuses to reverse measures like the burqa ban and has highlighted his opposition to halal meat and praying in the street because of a lack of mosques.

Populist rightwing politicians like Nicolas Sarkozy and the National Front’s Marine Le Pen routinely portray alienated migrant communities as France’s enemy within. Le Pen garnered 20% of the popular vote in the first round of May’s presidential elections.

In their communique, the perpetrators of the recent attacks listed France’s crimes as leading a “new crusade” in Syria, as well as defending Charlie Hebdo magazine, and just because of general French decadence and racism. They claimed their targets were well chose ― a football match between ‘crusaders’ France and Germany attended by Hollande, and the Bataclan exhibition where “hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice” (the California group Eagles of Death Metal).

“This is for Syria,” were the last words of one of the Paris attackers. But he could have said it was for Mali, or Libya, or Iraq. France is very proactive against Islamists worldwide, especially in the face of what is frequently seen as British and American retreat. Over 10,000 French troops are currently deployed abroad. In addition to Iraq, there are over 5,000 troops in western and central Africa. Last week Hollande announced that France will deploy an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to assist the fight against ISIS.

As with Osama Bin Laden’s strategy of promoting dramatic terrorist attacks in the West to provoke a crackdown and to radicalize Muslims, the strategy behind the current attacks is to generate a French crackdown to encourage Muslims to follow ISIS’s caliphate fantasy. It has worked all too well so far, and Hollande’s vow to be “ruthless” in his response leads him and France in the wrong direction.

In his address on recent events, Iran’s Leader Imam Khameini acknowledged that “there are voices of criticism in the West about its colonial past. But they only criticize the distant past. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to the current problems?”

Originally published here.

8 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan, Africa, Algeria, Asia, Britain, Canada, Colonialism, Egypt, Europe, France, History, Iran, Iraq, Iraq War, Islam, Israel, Libya, Mali, Middle East, Middle Eastern, Modern, North Africa, Political Science, Politics, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, South Asia, Syria, Terrorism, US War in Afghanistan, USA, Vietnam, War

Salafi Jihadism: Part 1

Original here. This essay is very well-done, the best I have ever read on the subject.

This is the first of a two-part post on Salafi jihadism. Part 1 is intended to provide a definition of jihad, a look at the history of Salafism/Wahhabism, their similarities and differences and how they spread in the end of the 20th century.

Also before anyone thinks I’m targeting Salafis for an agenda, I intend to cover jihadism in each segment of Islam. I simply chose to begin with Salafi jihadism due to its greater relevance and attention in the world today.

Definition of Jihad: The Arabic word Jihad is derived from the verb Jahada – meaning to strive or struggle. In Islamic terminology it means to make an effort, to endeavor and to strive for a noble cause. The word is generally used to describe any type of striving in the cause of Allah (God). According to Islamic teachings there are three main types of Jihad as explained below:

i) Jihad-e-Akbar, i.e jihad of the highest order. This is the jihad (struggle) for self-reformation. The struggle is against our own temptations such as greed, lust and other worldly temptations. This type of jihad is obligatory on every Muslim throughout his life.

ii) Jihad-e-Kabir, i.e major jihad. This is the jihad of propagation of the truth, the message of Qur’an. The Qur’an also instructs us to spread this message with wisdom, tolerance and respect to others and their beliefs and prohibits the use of any coercion or force. According to the Qur’an anyone who devotes his time, effort, wealth or knowledge to the cause of righteousness is practicing Jihad-e-Kabir. This is also obligatory on all Muslims.

iii) Jihad-e-Asghar, i.e jihad of the lower order. This is the jihad of a defensive battle. The Qur’an has clearly restricted this type of jihad to certain conditions while forbidding transgression of any sort. The conflict must of a defensive nature for the Muslim community, Muslims must have been prevented from freely practicing their religion and beliefs, and they must have been driven from their homes.

Another requirement for the declaration of this type of jihad is the existence of an Islamic State and a Muslim leader to declare it; without this condition, Muslims are allowed to defend themselves in case of being attacked or persecuted but not to declare and prosecute an official jihad. Once a jihad has been declared, the Muslim army is bound by a set of regulations to observe while on campaign, some of which are listed here.[1][2]

It is critical to understand that the aim of jihad is not the conversion of non-Muslim populations. Most scholars agree upon the concept of jihad being a defensive measure; some modern Islamic revivalists such as Sayyid Qutb and Abdullah Azzam argued for the use of jihad as an offensive measure but for the expansion of Muslim territory and Islamic ideals rather than the religious conversion of the local peoples, forced or otherwise, to Islam. As a result, jihad is similar to the Christian concept of a crusade but differs in this critical matter among others. However, jihad is a hotly debated topic in jurisprudence, and a look at the opinions of various scholars can be found here.[3]

History of Salafism/Wahhabism: Salafism is a conservative, orthodox movement within Sunni Islam that seeks to return the practice of Islam to its fundamentals. As such, it emphasizes emulation of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Salaf as Saliheen (Pious Predecessors) which comprise the first three generations of Muslims (Companions, Successors and Successors of the Successors), and it rejects any rituals or beliefs not practiced by them; as a result, they are against any innovations, or bidah.

In legal jurisprudence, Salafis are divided among those that remain faithful to the four Sunni maddhabs (schools of law) and those that reject them in favour of ijtihad (independent legal judgement).

In terms of politics, Salafis are generally divided into three categories.

The largest category consists of the quietists, those who believe in remaining indifferent to politics and repression in favour of being closer to God.

The next largest category is the activists, that comprises those who participate in politics to advocate for Islamist agendas and religious legislation.

The smallest category by far is the jihadists, which are the most well known category worldwide but are a tiny minority.

The central tenets of Salafism have existed since the earlier days of Islam, with scholars such as Ibn Taymiyyah referring to and emphasizing adherence to the model of the Salaf. However, Salafism did not spread widely until the 18th century when Muhammad Abdul Wahhab started preaching in the Najd area of Arabia. Abdul Wahhab believed that the practices of the society around him, including venerating the tombs of the Companions, or making invocations to holy men, were similar to the practices during the pre-Islamic Jahiliya (Age of Ignorance).

Thus, he wished to return to a more puritan and conservative form of Islam free of any supposed innovations or bidah and similar to how he believed Islam was practiced in its earliest days. He also believed that those who professed themselves to be Muslim but participated in bidah were beyond the pale of Islam. He began preaching in the town of Unayna, but his actions and ideals were unpopular with the nobility of the era, with Abdul Wahhab being expelled from his town due to pressure applied by a powerful chief, Sulaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Ghurayr.

However, he managed to find refuge with the ruler of the town of Diriyah, Muhammad ibn Saud. In 1744, they formed a pact whereby ibn Saud would protect and propagate the doctrines espoused by Abdul Wahhab by military action, while the latter would religiously legitimize the former’s military conquests and allow the imposition of Islamic taxation, which would net the Al Sauds more income than at the current rates.

Hence began a period of conquest over multiple generations that expanded the Al Sauds’ holdings to much of Arabia, created the First Saudi State and the propagation of Abdul Wahhab’s teachings, pejoratively termed Wahhabism by its critics, outside of Najd. This is also where Abdul Wahhab broke with traditional Salafist thinking; unlike traditional Salafists, Abdul Wahhab was willing to use force and coercion to spread his teachings and was willing to participate in politics and political agreements to achieve that goal.

Scholars are disputed over the degree of brutality sanctioned by Abdul Wahhab, but it is clear that in successive generations, the Wahhabis have become more and more radical, ultimately adopting ibn Taymiyyah’s ideas of takfir (excommunication); this allowed them to brand Muslims living in violation of Islamic law to be non-Muslims and thus justified their fighting against other Muslims. They also adopted a ‘convert or die’ approach to their enemies.

This increasing ruthlessness was the cause of the Al Saud’s downfall. In 1802, the Wahhabis attacked Karbala, slaughtering much of the population and desecrating the shrine of Imam Hussain, and launched a similar assault on Taif in 1803, slaughtering the male population and enslaving women and children.

Ultimately, the Ottoman Empire, which controlled Arabia at the time, had enough and dispatched an army in 1818 that destroyed the First Saudi State, killing the Al Saud ruler, razing Diriyah and doing their best to stamp out both the House of Saud and the Wahhabi movement. However, the remoteness of the Najd prevented either from happening, and a Second Saudi State resulted in that region; consequently, by the end of the 19th century, most of the townspeople in the area were Wahhabis.

Many of the new members were former Bedouins who abandoned nomadic life for settlements on the insistence of Wahhabi religious scholars who declared that a nomadic lifestyle was incompatible with Islam. The newly settled Bedouins served well as soldiers for the Wahhabi religious leaders.

Although alive, Wahhabism remained mostly confined to the Najd till the end of the First World War. During the war, the reigning head of the Al Saud family, Abdulaziz ibn Saud, aided the Allies by revolting against the Ottomans. Although his campaign to rule Arabia had begun in 1901, he was unable to assert his authority over Hijaz until 1923, when the British removed their support for the Sharifs of Makkah.

In 1927, Abdulaziz signed a treaty with the British, who recognized his independence from the former Ottoman territories in exchange for letting go of Transjordan, Iraq, Kuwait and other British protectorates. However, Abdulaziz faced an internal rebellion among his troops. During his campaigns, he made use of the Ikhwan, a militia of radical Wahhabi Bedouin warriors. When he signed the treaty with the British, the Ikhwan refused to obey and raided Transjordan.

Unwilling to risk British ire, Abdulaziz fought the Ikhwan and defeated them in 1929 with British support. The survivors of the Ikhwan were then organized in various militias which would later form the core of the Saudi Arabian National Guard. Although defeated, the Ikhwan left their mark on Arabian society by uprooting the old cultural norms and supplanting them with radical Wahhabi ideology as part of their campaign on behalf of the Al Sauds.

In addition, Wahhabi ideology spread to the cities of Makkah and Madinah and gained control of the religious apparatus in the land. Although the Wahhabi religious establishment was given much latitude with respect to religious observance and teaching, in many cases Abdulaziz overruled the ulema, allowing the driving of automobiles and the attendance of Shia pilgrims at the annual Hajj. In addition, most of Abdulaziz’s consolidation of power and dealings with Western powers kept him at odds with the ulema.

Although Salafism/Wahhabism inspired offshoots such as the Ahl-e-Hadith and Deoband movements in South Asia, the reach of these two ideologies was quite low during most of the 20th century. Even within Saudi Arabia, the implementation of Islamic law was relatively relaxed compared to today.

This changed in 1979, when two things happened. First the Iranian Revolution occurred, toppling the Shah there and sending shockwaves through the monarchies in the region. Second, the Grand Mosque in Makkah was taken over by Islamic extremists who called for the stricter implementation of Islamic doctrines and the fall of the Al Saud family.

In the aftermath of these events, the Saudi government became stricter in religious matters. Due to the huge increase in oil income since the 1973 oil crisis, the government had lavished funding on religious literature, scholarships and hundreds of new Islamic schools, universities and mosques. In order to counter any threat of an Iranian-style revolution by the Shia population of the country and to satisfy disgruntled conservative clerics, this funding was further increased.

The beginning of the Afghan War provided an opportunity to export troublesome clerics to Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries. This achieved two aims; first, it allowed the Sauds to embed a Wahhabi religious establishment of their choice, and secondly, the export of Wahhabi ideology served as a bulwark against the revolutionary doctrines that Iran was beginning to propagate in the Middle East. Since the Afghan War attracted volunteers from all over the Muslim world, almost all of whom spent time in the Saudi-sponsored religious schools, the spread of Salafism was assured.[4]

Due to the financial support that Salafism/Wahhabism enjoys from the Gulf, it has received attention and commands influence disproportionate to its size. There are roughly 50 million Salafists in the world, a tiny fraction of the total Muslim population.[5] Yet, Salafi scholars such as Zakir Naik from India are some of the most recognizable in the Muslim world, having instant name recognition even amongst many non-Salafis.

The Salafi movement is described as the fastest growing Islamic movement in the world, according to a report by the BND, the German domestic intelligence service.[6] This is especially true for regions such as Europe and North America, which have no native Islamic traditions of their own and thus are more susceptible to supplanting than historically Muslim areas.

Although Salafis have historically been peaceful and apolitical, believing in using persuasion rather than force, modern Salafism is often considered indistinguishable from Wahhabism and in many cases, conflict has arisen when Salafis have tried to propagate their doctrines. For instance in Pakistan, there is much animosity between followers of the Deoband movement, inspired by Salafism, and the Barelvi movement, inspired by the Sufi traditions of the subcontinent.

Moreover, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, more and more Salafists are becoming part of the activist category, joining politics to propagate their beliefs. One example of such a movement is the Nour Party in Egypt, which gained a quarter of the seats in the 2011-12 elections.

In normal circumstances, one might consider the engagement of conservative Islamists in democratic politics to be a positive sign; however, the failure of the Arab Spring to bring meaningful change to the lives of people in most of the affected countries has disillusioned many democratic Salafis, many of whom have shifted to the jihadist category of Salafism, thinking military action to be the last feasible route.[7]

Sources:

1 http://islamicfaq.org/jihad/

2 http://www.islamhelpline.net/node/441

3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jihad#Current_usage

4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahhabism

5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salafi_movement#cite_note-123

6 http://www.aina.org/news/20120416150547.htm

7 http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21656189-islams-most-conservative-adherents-are-finding-politics-hard-it-beats

9 Comments

Filed under Africa, Arabs, Asia, Bedouins, Britain, Egypt, Europe, Government, History, Iran, Islam, Islamic, Law, Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, Politics, Race/Ethnicity, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Saudi Arabia, Shiism, South Asia, Sunnism, US War in Afghanistan, War, World War 1

The Blood on Obama’s Hands: Kunduz Hospital Attack Designed “to Kill and Destroy”

I have not written about this attack yet, but this article sums up my feelings about it. Obviously there was a deliberate attack on the hospital. The story that Afghan government troops called in the strike and we then hit the hospital by accident does not seem to be true.

MSF had given the coordinates of the hospital to the US a number of times before the attack. The location was given again two days before and the day of the attack. US intelligence knew where the hospital was, as they had been discussing whether or not a Pakistani spy was present in the hospital.

The hospital repeatedly called the US military while the attack was taking place, but the attack went on anyway. The attack went on for an incredible one hour and fifteen minutes, even while hospital staff were calling and reporting that the attack was taking place! This means it was 100% intentional.

They either did it because they thought the Pakistani spy was there, or because they thought some Taliban were hiding there, or, most likely of all, to punish the hospital for treating Taliban fighters. Field hospitals and medics have always been off limits for attacks as per the Geneva Conventions, but the Pentagon’s latest horrifying Laws of War Manual seems to exempt the US military from virtually all of the Geneva and other Conventions we have signed.

The US military did this at least once before. In the Battle of Fallujah, the military deliberately bombed Fallujah’s hospital which was treating wounded fighters and civilians. It was one of the first targets we hit. We knew exactly where it was and had been told many times where it was but we bombed it anyway. We obviously bombed it deliberately.

I used to think we were above all this crap but it looks like we are not and the US military is down there with the worst militaries on Earth when it comes to brutal ways of fighting war. How dare we complain about Assad! We are just as bad as he is!

The Blood on Obama’s Hands: Kunduz Hospital Attack Designed “to Kill and Destroy”

from Global Research

“Patients burned in their beds, medical staff were decapitated and lost limbs, and others were shot by the circling AC-130 gunship while fleeing the burning building.”

So reads the opening of an initial review issued Thursday by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders—MSF), documenting the horrifying October 3 US airstrike on the charitable agency’s hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

While spelling out the carnage inflicted upon wounded men, women and children as well as doctors, nurses and other medical staff that day, the report adds to the already overwhelming evidence that the attack was neither an accident nor a case of “collateral damage,” but rather a deliberate war crime ordered by the Pentagon to further US military objectives in Afghanistan.

Among the new information provided by the report is that, after repeatedly providing the Pentagon, the US Army in Kabul as well as the Afghan authorities with the coordinates of the well-known medical facility, MSF staff at the Kunduz hospital received a phone call two nights before the attack from a US government official in Washington. He asked whether it “had a large number of Taliban ‘holed up’ there.” The official was told that the hospital was functioning normally and at full capacity, with some wounded Taliban fighters among the patients.

The hospital, the report states, was well-lit and clearly marked, with MSF insignia on its roof. Based on interviews with some 60 staff members, the report establishes that there were no armed individuals in the facility and, indeed, there had been no fighting, gunshots or explosions in the vicinity of the hospital in the evening preceding the attack.

The attack by the slow-moving, propeller-driven AC-130 gunship lasted between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes, with the plane continuously circling the hospital, hitting it with its multiple rapid-fire cannon, precision bombs and missiles.

“The view from inside the hospital is that this attack was conducted with a purpose to kill and destroy,” Christopher Stokes, MSF’s general director, told reporters at a press conference in Kabul on Thursday. “A mistake is quite hard to understand and believe at this time.”

The MSF report gives a chilling sense of the brutality of this crime. It recounts that the first area to be hit was the Intensive Care Unit, where immobile patients, including two children, were killed outright or burned to death in their hospital beds.

The operating theaters were then destroyed, with at least two patients killed as they lay on operating tables.

“An MSF nurse arrived at the administrative building covered from head to toe in debris and blood with his left arm hanging from a small piece of tissue after having suffered a traumatic amputation in the blast,” the report recounts.

Staff members described people being mowed down as they tried to flee the airstrike. “MSF doctors and other medical staff were shot while running to reach safety in a different part of the compound,” the report adds.

“One MSF staff member described a patient in a wheelchair attempting to escape from the inpatient department when he was killed by shrapnel from a blast,” the report states. “Other MSF staff describe seeing people running while on fire and then falling unconscious on the ground. One MSF staff was decapitated by shrapnel in the airstrikes.”

The US airstrike turned what had been the principal medical facility for over one million people in northeastern Afghanistan into hell on earth. In addition to wantonly killing patients and medical staff, it left the region’s entire population without badly needed medical care.

There are two plausible theories that have been advanced to explain the attack. The first, based on reporting by AP, indicates that the strike was ordered out of suspicion that a Pakistani intelligence officer who was coordinating operations with the Taliban was present in the hospital. In other words, mass murder against innocent civilians was carried out as part of a “targeted assassination” against one man.

The other explanation is that the US military decided to obliterate the hospital because it was treating wounded Taliban fighters.

In either case, under international law the attack constitutes a war crime, the kind of offense for which Nazi officers were tried and convicted at Nuremberg.

But not so under the legal rationales for US criminal aggression fashioned under the Obama administration.

As the four-part series, “The Pentagon’s Law of War Manual,” being finalized on the World Socialist Web Site today establishes, the pseudo-legal doctrine that has been crafted for the US military, while giving a formal nod to international law’s prohibition against targeting civilians, makes clear that in practice such attacks are not only allowed but encouraged.

“Civilians may be killed incidentally in military operations; however, the expected incidental harm to civilians may not be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage from an attack,” the law of war manual states. In other words, the US military is allowed to kill civilians, and the greater the military objective, the more innocent men, women and children, not to mention doctors, nurses and patients, may be slaughtered.

Similarly, while stating that “feasible precautions” should be taken to “avoid” civilian casualties, the manual goes on to affirm that, if US commanders determine that “taking a precaution would result in operational risk (i.e., a risk of failing to accomplish the mission) or an increased risk of harm to their own forces, then the precaution would not be feasible and would not be required.” This is a clear mandate to US military officers to wipe out however many civilians they deem necessary to “accomplish the mission” or reduce their own casualties.

No doubt, within the US chain of command, such calculations were made to arrive at the decision to order an AC-130 to slowly and deliberately reduce a civilian hospital to rubble, killing at least 30 patients and medical staff and wounding many others.

The responsibility for this crime lies not merely with the crew of the flying gunship, the commanders on  the ground in Afghanistan or the top brass of the US military. It extends to the top of the US political establishment, including President Barack Obama and his top aides, who have done so much to make murderous violence around the world routine, from aggressive war, to drone assassinations to cold-blooded massacres.

The White House and the Pentagon have thus far stonewalled MSF’s demand for an independent investigation into the Kunduz hospital massacre.

Even more telling, Joanne Liu, president of MSF, reported this week that the agency had appealed to some 76 governments seeking support for an impartial investigation, but had received none. “The silence is embarrassing,” Liu told Reuters.

Behind this apparent indifference by capitalist governments around the globe to the horrors unleashed by the US military in Kunduz lies the recognition that this attack constituted not the exception, but the rule, not the product of a “tragic error” or “collateral damage,” but the inevitable expression of  the criminality of American imperialism.

3 Comments

Filed under Crime, Democrats, Imperialism, Iraq War, Law, Medicine, Military Doctrine, Obama, Political Science, Politics, US Politics, US War in Afghanistan, USA, War

“ISIL and the Taliban”

You might get an error message if you try to play this video on the page here. If that happens,click on the Youtube icon in the lower right and watch it on Youtube, where it should work.

Fantastic documentary from Al Jazeera on the growing ISIS forces in Afghanistan.

ISIS is mostly in Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan. These are very rugged areas in the northeast where some of the most radical Taliban elements stay.

In addition, this area was very popular with high ranking Al Qaeda types. A video of Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri walking down a rocky mountain slope was probably shot in Kunar, and Tora Bora, where bin Laden made his escape, is in Nangarhar.

Nuristan was originally called Kafirstan, as it was pagan until Muslim invaders converted the area in the 1890’s. For some reason these relatively new converts to Islam became some of the most fundamentalist Muslims in the country.

Many small Indo-Iranian languages are spoken here that are pretty far from either Pashto, Persian or Urdu/Hindi. A lot of these people look very white – these are some of the Whitest people in Afghanistan. The very interesting Kalash people reside right across the border in Pakistan near Chitral.

The area is especially rugged – especially Nuristan and Kunar – and is more or less impenetrable. Nuristan is very steep, and the uniquely styled houses are cut right into the hillside in what looks like terraced villages. Many areas are only accessible by helicopter or on foot, as there it is not even passable by jeep, and there are only footpaths. Further, many of the bridges in Nuristan are only footbridges, and no vehicle can cross them. Many of the few US missions in Nuristan operated by dropping the troops in by helicopter. US forces took relatively heavy losses in this area. I believe there was a US base there which was nearly overrun by the Taliban.

The few Afghan government outposts were quickly abandoned, and the state has little or no presence in the area. I believe that for a time in the last decade, Nuristan even lacked a governor. Successive governors were appointed ,but the Taliban kept threatening them, and they would quit.

It is here where ISIS has chosen to set up its new home in Afghanistan. My understanding is that they have been able to recruit quite a few former Taliban into their ranks, and in addition, many new fighters have come from the Pakistani Taliban across the border, some of whose factions have already declared allegiance to ISIL.

ISIS and the Taliban are fighting in this area, as ISIS generally says that they are the only rebel army that can exist in any area, and they try force all competitors to either pledge allegiance to ISIS or be destroyed by ISIS’ army.

I fear that ISIS has quite a few fighters in Afghanistan (I believe over 1,000 at the very least and possibly thousands). The future will probably see more and more Afghan fighters pledging allegiance to ISIS and joining their side, but for the moment, their largest presence is in the northeast.

4 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan, Asia, Islam, Pakistan, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, South Asia, US War in Afghanistan, War

US Knew They Were Bombing Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Went ahead and Did It Anyway

Here.

Apparently US “analysts” (an analyst is generally CIA or some sort of intelligence personnel such as military intelligence) had been studying the Medicins Sans Frontiers Hospital in Kunduz for weeks and had become convinced that a major Taliban figure was using the hospital as a safe house to coordinate Taliban attacks all over Kunduz.

A major uproar took place when the US bombed this hospital in Kunduz, killing and wounding dozens of people. The attacks from a C-130 gunship continued for 30 minutes even as the organization frantically contacted the US military and told them that they were bombing a hospital. The hospital had also given the US the coordinates of the hospital several times before so it would not get accidentally bombed.

The US report said that Afghan military called in the attacks when they said they were taking gunfire from the hospital. The US plane apparently acted on the Afghan request without checking it out.

Now it turns out that US analysts believed that the hospital was being used as central control for the Taliban. In addition, either the US or the Afghans or both were angry that the hospital was treating wounded Taliban fighters.

It is looking dubious that the Afghans called in the attack themselves. Instead it looks like the US deliberately hit the hospital either because a Taliban leader was holed up there or to send a message to the Medicins Sans Frontiers organization to stop treating wounded Taliban fighters. If Medicins Sans Frontiers refused and continued to treat wounded Taliban, their hospitals might just get bombed.

US officials said that although a number of US officials knew where the hospital was, they were not sure if the fact that it was a hospital had been communicated to the C-130 crew when the crew attacked it, so the crew either could have been told that it was a hospital and went ahead and bombed it anyway, or the crew was deliberately left in the dark about the nature of the target.

I must say that when I heard this happened, I knew it was done deliberately, especially when the attacks did not stop for 30 minutes after the US was warned they were hitting a hospital. I figured that the US or Taliban ordered the strikes to punish Medicins Sans Frontiers for treating wounded Taliban, but now it looks like they may have been trying to take out a major Taliban figure instead.

Nothing surprised me about this attack. In the Total Spectrum Dominance Warfare Theory that the US now practices, hospitals that treat enemy wounded are considered to be military targets.

How far we have fallen.

3 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan, Asia, Health, Islam, Medicine, Military Doctrine, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, South Asia, US War in Afghanistan, USA, War