Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 12, 2013
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~Nuremburg War Tribunal regarding wars of aggression
“A Society that is in its higher circles and middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets does not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is merely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of “success” to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed.”
— The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills
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In reply to a teabagger troll inside the Doomstead Diner Forum this week, I opined that the act of dropping atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was tantamount to selling of the American soul to the devil. Was dropping those bombs militarily necessary? My correspondent averred that “The bombs were dropped, the Japanese surrendered,” Which to my reading of history is a post hoc ergo proctor hoc logical fallacy. I say this because history is always written by the winners, and serious leaders in positions of responsibility for securing victory during World War II asserted that dropping atomic weapons was not necessary. Senior military men including Adm. William D. Leahy, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D Eisenhower, and even the US Strategic Bombing Survey all agreed that dropping the bombs was militarily unnecessary. From 70 years remove, it is virtually forgotten that Japan offered to surrender in July of 1945, and that the US government ignored the proffer.
Much is made of the Japanese plan for the defense of the home islands, called “Ketsu-go.” Near the end of 1944, the Japanese high command had lost a succession of naval battles, including losing the Mariana Islands and the Battle of the Philippine Sea, at a cost of men and materiel not easily replaced. Japan’s planners realized that the decisive battle was likely to be fought on Japan’s main islands. They planned accordingly. Sources say that Japanese strategists predicted correctly that Americans would assault Iwo Jima and then Okinawa, where the Japanese hoped fierce resistance would force a negotiated peace. The Japanese also prepared for an invasion of Japan from Okinawa. They calculated the range of American fighter planes, and predicted correctly where the landing would be — on the island of Kyushu, and from there on to Tokyo. The Japanese called this plan Ketsu-Go, which I am unable to translate, but which either seems to mean “conclusion” and/or “a bite on the ass.” Or maybe both.
Yet by spring 1945, the emperor had his doubts. He sent an envoy to Russia to ask the Soviet Union to mediate an end to the war. The emperor and his war cabinet also faced reports citing depletion of Japanese industry, likely food shortages, poor harvests leading to mass starvation, and concern about popular unrest. The Imperial Navy was done and the Imperial Army in China was fully occupied with Chinese resistance forces Facing this evidence, it was likely that Japan’s war planners were seeking a decisive battle sooner rather than later before their situation became so desperate that they could not even mount such a resistance.
On July 27, Japan’s government ignored the Allied ultimatum from Potsdam, warning of “prompt and utter destruction” unless it surrendered unconditionally. It was still waiting to hear back from Uncle Joe. In the fullness of time, Russian invaded Manchuria, and the race for Japan was on.
Even George Marshall, who supported Truman’s decision to drop the bombs, said that the bombs were dropped for political rather than military reasons, not the least of which was to send a message to Russia and Stalin. It is this act that opened Pandora’s box. The act was a message to the Soviet Union and Stalin. It was rooted in the capitalists’ dread of communism; remember that Truman succeeded Henry Wallace on the 1944 ticket as the candidate for vice president, as Wallace was seen as too sympathetic to socialist causes. The red scares whipped up by Hoover in the post-World War I era were still within living memory of many of the people serving in Roosevelt’s administration, and fear of Godless Communism informed the defense posture and foreign policy of postwar America. It was this fear which led America from its republican origins to the sort of garrison state that would routinely overturn governments from Iran to Central America to Argentina and Chile, and then on to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Fear gave us the atomic weapons arms race, the Cold War, and several generations of existential dread, now culminating in a national security state that serves only corporate interests and war profiteers, and whose moral framework is indistinguishable from that of the Mongol horde.
Indeed, what real moral distance is spanned between employing nuclear weapons of mass distraction on a helpless civilian population, and the “double tap” employed by our drone operators on first responders to drone attacks? You’ll not readily find such information in the corporate media. One has to look far afield even to be vaguely informed about what our government does in our name, and how the rest of the world feels about it. And we sit, complicit, in silence.
* * *
In related news, “Breaking Bad” opens its fifth and final season tonight. “Breaking Bad” is in itself a study of how a good man can go wrong, and how evil, like cancer, can metastasize within us. This series can be enjoyed both as a gripping tale of money and power in the American southwest, and as a vivid allegory for contemporary American life. “Breaking Bad” references our capacity for self-delusion, how money replaces values, how evil can grow like cancer even in the mildest of men, and how terror can become a commonplace. Hannah Arendt’s famous quote about the “banality of evil” is clearly on display. “Breaking Bad” illustrates what happens when murder becomes part of your skill set. And those of us not willing to murder yet sit, silently complicit. Part of the appeal of this program is that many of us recognize Walter White dwelling just below the surface in many people we meet, in corporate life, and sometimes even in the mirror.
Bureau Investigation Finds Fresh Evidence of CIA Drone Strikes on Rescuers
One hopes it is not overly difficult to see the direct line between the decision to drop weapons of mass distraction 70 years ago and the decisions made, now on a daily basis, to wage warfare by remote control. These techniques have in common faceless incineration and death from above, now apparently commonplace and well accepted techniques of statecraft. investigators find the CIA is deliberately targeting rescuers, or 1st responders after drone strikes. For his part, the CIA vigorously denies the charge.
A field investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in Pakistan’s tribal areas appears to confirm that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) last year briefly revived the controversial tactic of deliberately targeting rescuers at the scene of a previous drone strike. The tactic has previously been labelled a possible war crime by two UN investigators.
The Bureau’s new study focused mainly on strikes around a single village in North Waziristan – attacks that were aimed at one of al Qaeda’s few remaining senior figures, Yahya al-Libi. He was finally killed by a CIA drone strike on June 4 2012.
The Bureau’s field researcher found five double-tap strikes took place in mid-2012, one of which also struck a mosque
Congressional aides have previously been reported as describing to the Los Angeles Times reviewing a CIA video showing Yahya al-Libi alone being killed. But the Bureau’s field research appears to confirm what others reported at the time – that al-Libi’s death was part of a sequence of strikes on the same location that killed up to 16 people.
If correct, that would indicate that Congressional aides were not shown crucial additional video material.
The CIA has robustly rejected the charge. Spokesman Edward Price told the Bureau: ‘The CIA takes its commitment to Congressional oversight with the utmost seriousness. The Agency provides accurate and timely information consistent with our obligation to the oversight Committees. Any accusation alleging otherwise is baseless.
Read the report for yourself here.
A man named Paul Rosenberg runs a website called Freeman’s Perspective. In spite of the fact that Rosenberg is an avowed “adventure capitalist” he appears to also have been a successful engineer, government consultant, educator. Even though he has many perspectives that I personally do not agree with, often I find his perspectives useful and challenging my own views. Like the article submitted for your edification, below.
Given the fact that so much of what we do on the Diner runs on the Internet, and to a significant extent my own livelihood depends on the internet’s continued function and well-being, when a writer has written the first ever standard for the installation of fiber optic cables, as has Rosenberg, I assume he has something useful to say.
This graph is a very typical display of the predator/prey relationship. It comes from a study on rabbits and coyotes, but the relationship is the same for all predator/prey tandems, from tiny parasites and their hosts to lions and antelopes. The predators always overfeed until the prey can no longer sustain them, then most of them die and the rest wait for the prey to replenish themselves.
It works in the same way for human governance. You are the rabbits; the rulers are the coyotes.
By his own admission, Rosenberg often looks at economic matters from the perspective of the rabbits. This time, if he looks at it from the perspective of the coyotes. Many things become clear:
Rulership is an exercise in skimming. Think of your own interactions with your government – the primary exchange is that they take some of your production. This occurs in many ways: when you get a paycheck, when you pay your electric bill or phone bill, when you get a license plate for your car, every time you pay sales tax, and so on. Rulership lives on the skim.
In order to maintain the skim, a ruler has several mental tools:
Claims of necessity. Make people fear that without the ruler, monstrous foreigners will invade and make things much, much worse.
Inertia. Once people are moving in any given direction (such as paying the skim as a matter of course), they will tend to keep moving that way until an outside force deflects or stops them.
Tradition. This is the story that it has always been this way, and that your grandparents (and their grandparents) have all lived this way and called it righteous. Tradition displaces analysis. At the gate of analysis (deciding if the skim is or isn’t good for you), tradition stands as a guardian saying, “You shall not pass.” To analyze would be to spit in tradition’s face.
Fear of standing alone. The friends of rulership can be counted on to present images of conformity and to exalt the concept of unity. The effect of this is to raise the price of non-conformity. To question the skim, you must face the fear of becoming an outcast.
Disguising fear. This is crucial and multifaceted. Rather than saying, “Pay taxes or armed men will imprison you,” for example, they must appeal to patriotism, shared sacrifice, helping the poor, or something. Of course it is true that people only pay because of fear, but that truth should not be seen. A plausible substitute must be provided.
From this perspective, of the coyote, “maintaining the skim” seems to be BAU in the FSA. This weekend, where I live in southeastern Virginia, social media has been ablaze with notices of state patrol cars lying in wait on major arteries, doubtless to help state patrolman book their monthly quota of fees. To Charles Hugh Smith’s “tax donkeys and debt serfs,” add “fine and fee monkeys.”
We found that there were actually quite a few examples of elevated constituents, such as heavy metals, the main players being arsenic, selenium and strontium. And we found each of those metals at levels that are above EPA’s maximum contaminate limit for drinking water.
These heavy metals do naturally occur in the groundwater in this region. But we have a historical dataset that points to the fact that the levels we found are sort of unusual and not natural. These really high levels differ from what the groundwater used to be like before fracking came in. . . .
We also found a few samples that had measureable levels of methanol and ethanol, and these are two substances that don’t naturally occur in groundwater. They can actually be created by bacterial interactions underwater, but whenever methanol or ethanol occur in the environment, they’re very fleeting and transient. So for us to be able to actually randomly take a grab sample and detect detectable methanol and ethanol — that implies that there may be a continuous source of this.
You found levels of arsenic in areas with fracking that were almost 18 times higher than in areas without fracking or in the historical data. What would happen to someone who drank that water?
Arsenic is a pretty well-known poison. If you experience a lot of long-term exposure to arsenic, you get a lot of different risks, like skin damage, problems with the circulatory system or even an increased risk of cancer. The levels that we found would not be a lethal dose, but they’re certainly levels that you would not want to be exposed to for any extended period of time.
Studies like this always require further research. Arsenic occurs naturally in many formations, and it may be that the process of tracking, rather than the fluids themselves, and disturbed this natural occurrence.But one of the reasons the research is not done is because the energy extraction industries don’t want to do it, and don’t want to see it done. In a rational world frackers would be obliged to perform this research prior to drilling, but that would be bad for profits. Once again, profits are privatized, while risks and costs are socialized and borne by we mere commons.
Keep in mind that the energy extraction industry is enthusiastically abetted by Republicans and neoliberal Democrats, who operate by an ethical system that permits the sacrifice of the lives of many to further enrich a few.
If you care about these matters, the rest of the Pro Publica article is well worth your time.
In Waging Nonviolence
Adam Federman reports: “Until recently the energy industry has been able to keep its hardball tactics largely out of public view. But if state, federal and corporate surveillance of environmental activists continues, the noisy millions … might have even more reason to join the fight.”
More evidence that rust never sleeps. Remember those “fusion centers” created by Homeland Security with our tax dollars? Well, now they work in collusion with privatized intelligence gathering and security apparatus directly for the benefit of corporations, against protesters, activists and others who dare oppose the privatization and profit extraction of the Commons.
In mid-June, Bold Nebraska — a grassroots environmental organization opposed to construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline — obtained documents that detail how local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the company responsible for building the pipeline, are working together to undermine peaceful political protest. The documents revealed that the company, TransCanada, had briefed the FBI as well as law enforcement officials — district attorneys, attorney generals and county sheriffs — in Oklahoma and Nebraska on the potential threat posed by environmental activists and local landowners. In their PowerPoint presentation the company suggested that district attorneys should explore “state or federal anti-terrorism laws” in prosecuting activists and provided a crude dossier on the key organizers. They also included a list of individuals previously arrested for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience in Texas and Oklahoma.
There is a long history of corporations and the state acting in concert to suppress environmental activism. But in recent years the relationship has deepened. This is in part a function of the post-9/11 national security state, which has placed a premium on information sharing between Department of Homeland Security fusion centers, local law enforcement officials and the private sector. In fact, on the same day that TransCanada delivered its presentation to Nebraska law enforcement officials, a representative of the Nebraska Information Analysis Center, a Department of Homeland Security fusion center, also briefed participants on the agency’s information-sharing network. According to emails exchanged before the meeting and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request, “The NIAC will brief on our intelligence sharing role/plan relevant to the pipeline project and provide an overview of a project we are working on.”
The article goes on to say the corporations engaging in espionage on activists are not bound by the regulations that governmental agencies are obliged to follow, at least in theory.
“They don’t have to abide by the U.S. attorney manual on spying guidelines,” Regan said. “They don’t even have to go through secretive FISA courts to hack into people’s computers or listen in on their cell phone calls.”
This is the world in which activists now find themselves. Not only must they contend with the sweeping surveillance powers of the state, brought to light most recently by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but also the expanding — and essentially unregulated — corporate security and intelligence gathering network.
Yet activists continue undaunted. Public opposition to fracturing, the Keystone XL pipeline, and other attempts to confiscate the common enterprise has resulted in a number of highly visible campaigns that continue undaunted. The fact that public opposition continues to grow like wildfire has corporate interests very worried. As well they should be. As common citizens become more educated to the dangers posed by the current techniques of energy extraction industries, the numbers of those willing to participate in acts of protest and civil this immediate’s can only grow. As occupiers know, the only way to affect change is to mass people in the streets. Ham-handed techniques employed by the corporate state often assist activists in getting the word out.
Read the rest of the article here. and in a related article, here’s how they do it.
It turns out that there is a template to corporations and governments use to disrupt, dissuade, and defuse popular movements. It certainly comes as no surprise to several former occupiers. And it turns out that it was developed by the founders of our good friends over at Stratfor
Steve Horn Of the “Popular Resistance blog at Mint Press News published this thorough and magnificent article. The article details the history of the groups that led to the formation of Stratfor, the involvement of key individuals with Big Tobacco, and their current collaboration with government and the energy extraction industries (such as the American Petroleum Institute) to provide a highly sophisticated level of intelligence used to disrupt and oppose activist groups.
Unsurprisingly, they have a formula and use different take weeks on each of the four different sorts of dissenters and resisters.
Divide activists into four groups: Radicals, Idealists, Realists and Opportunists. The Opportunists are in it for themselves and can be pulled away for their own self-interest. The Realists can be convinced that transformative change is not possible and we must settle for what is possible. Idealists can be convinced they have the facts wrong and pulled to the Realist camp. Radicals, who see the system as corrupt and needing transformation, need to be isolated and discredited, using false charges to assassinate their character is a common tactic.
Let’s be clear about the kind of people were dealing with here. The attitude evinced below is typical of the true believer:
And how best to deal with “radicals” like Julian Assange, founder and executive director of WikiLeaks, and whistleblower Bradley Manning, who gave WikiLeaks the U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and the “Collateral Murder” video? Bart Mongoven has a simple solution to “isolate” them, as suggested by Duchin’s formula.
“I’m in favor of using whatever trumped up charge is available to get [Assange] and his servers off the streets. And I’d feed that shit head soldier [Bradley Manning] to the first pack of wild dogs I could find,” Mongoven wrote in one email exchange revealed by the “Global Intelligence Files.” “Or perhaps just do to him whatever the Iranians are doing to our sources there.”
Indeed, the use of “trumped up charges” is often a way the U.S. government deals with radical activists, as demonstrated clearly during the days of the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program during the 1960s, as well as in modern-day Occupy movement-related cases in Cleveland and Chicago.
The intelligences that Stratfor sells to corporate clients is, as the article asserts, “the information economy’s equivalent of guns.” Corporations wage war upon activists to ensure that power, profits, and control I had influenced by the actions of mere mortals. And the changes urged by activist becomes even more difficult in a political environment where corporate interests dominate with money, and corporate media offer little more than corporate press releases.
The new surveillance footage “shows a flash of light appearing at the 13-14-second mark, the headlights are on at 14 seconds, but all lights are extinguished at the 16-second mark. The car then turns left and the first horizontal explosion appears just after the 16-second mark (it ejects the left front tire across northbound highland approximately 40-50 feet). The second explosion engulfs the engine compartment at the 17-second mark. The third and largest explosion consumes the passenger compartment at the 17-18-second mark.”
This story continues to have legs, given the number of anomalies surrounding it. there are 2 explosions. The fire was more intense than a simple gasoline fire, which only burns at about 540°F. A palm tree that Hastings car hit had minimal damage, considering it was hit by a 3500 pound car supposedly moving at 100 mph, according to investigators. But for all the unexplained facts surrounding this case, and the fact that some media outlets continue to speculate whether Hastings was targeted by the FBI, the Los Angeles police department has denied release of any information and close the case.
Laura Eimiller, the FBI’s Los Angeles spokeswoman, maintains the agency was not conducting an investigation involving Hastings.
This little sewer grating outflow into the Internet is not closing the case.
You’re Shitting Me, Right?
Time now for that portion of our program where the daily headlines have outstripped the imagination. Follow the links to read the original articles.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Tuesday managed to insult both religious Americans and climate scientists while denying the existence of global warming.
During the kickoff for the Americans for Prosperity-sponsored “Bruce Braley Big Government Tour” in Fort Dodge, King explained that attempts to fight climate change were unnecessary and hurting the economy, according to The Messenger.
“It is not proven, it’s not science,” he insisted. “It’s more of a religion than a science.”
The Republican congressman said that scientists are too focused on the bad impacts of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
“Everything that might result from a warmer planet is always bad in [climate scientists’] analysis,” he opined. “There will be more photosynthesis going on if the Earth gets warmer… And if sea levels go up 4 or 6 inches, I don’t know if we’d know that.”
King told the crowd that sea levels could not be precisely measured.
Louie Gohmert: Global Warming Isn’t Real Until ‘My Pool Overflows’
Sometimes, they just write themselves.
WASHINGTON – Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) today dismissed a recent report that showed evidence for drastic climate change in 2012, saying that he’ll “believe it when [he] sees it.” According to Gohmert, the report—which was authored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and documented rising sea levels, among other climatic changes—is “a bunch of voodoo science,” that he won’t accept until “the ocean’s on [his] own front doorstep.”
Gohmert—who does not believe that human activity contributes to global warming—admitted that he hadn’t actually read the report. “Rising sea levels? Melting ice caps? Well now, if that were true, how come the water in my pool isn’t any higher than it was last year?”
According to the report, in 2012 many indicators of global warming intensified appreciably. Sea levels reached record levels, and the researchers documented “dramatic spikes in ocean heat content, a record melt of Arctic sea ice in the summer, and whopping temporary melts of ice in most of Greenland.” Such measurements led Deke Arndt, co-author of the report, to conclude that climate indicators are “all singing the same song that we live in a warming world.”
#NoNeedToSatirize: Santorum: Liberals ‘make it uncomfortable’ to shower at the YMCA
Why this particular creature continues to get news coverage is a matter of continued concern and befuddlement. The last time this humunculus stood for electoral office in his home state, the people who knew him best thrashed him like a rented mule, as he lost by double digit margins. Proving that voters in Pennsylvania still maintain some capacity for discrimination between fact and fiction, which is more than we can save for this entity.
Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently told a group of students that they needed to fight for conservative values in “every aspect of your life” because liberals who support abortion rights even “make it uncomfortable” to shower at the YMCA if you disagree with their views.
In a video clip posted by Right Wing Watch on Tuesday, Rick Santorum told the group Students for Life that the truth would only win “if you have the passion, winsomeness and charity to bring to this debate, to bring it to your communities, to bring it to every aspect of your life.”
“You see, what the left does, what the pro-choice movement does is they just don’t focus on their little issue, they focus on everything they do and every aspect of their life,” he explained. “They make it uncomfortable for students who come to Austin to shower at a young men’s Christian association YMCA gym.”
“Because they live it. They’re passionate. They’re willing to do and say uncomfortable things in mixed company. They’re willing to make the sacrifice at their business because they care enough… They simply won’t give up. We have the truth and we give up! We have righteousness and we give up because it’s unpopular!”
Santorum exists as a political force largely because he can “energize the base,” otherwise tossed red meat to the evangelicals, Christian conservatives and Aryan brotherhood types who have managed to stuff themselves in the clown car of the drooling right. Yet, as Charles Pierce has observed about Scott Walker, “do not sleep on this one.” While we may snicker and shake our heads, this sort of divisive, us–against–them commentary serves to further poison an already toxic political climate.
We are thinking not. We’re thinking perhaps there are just people who hate Ted Nugent who hate Ted Nugent.
Gun rights advocate and right-wing provocateur Ted Nugent lashed out on Saturday at critics of his recent remarks on race and protesters who are trying to have his Tuesday show in New Haven, Connecticut canceled. The New Haven Register quoted an interview with Maine AM radio station WGAN, Nugent said that slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin was a “gangster wanna-be” who was motivated by “bloodthirst,” and that the teenager got what he deserved.
“People who hate Ted Nugent hate freedom,” the rocker alleged. “Trayvon got justice.”
Martin said that Martin’s violent tendencies were to blame for the escalation of his confrontation with George Zimmerman. He also accused the teen of racism for calling Zimmerman a “cracka.”
Nugent called a group of petitioners who want his August gig at the nightclub Toad’s Place in New Haven canceled “subhuman numbnuts.” He said that the Obama administration and Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder are “just bad people,” although, he said, it “pains” him to have to say so.
Connecticut petitioner Barbara Fair said that she and other protesters are against Nugent playing in the same state where the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre took place. She told the Register that Nugent’s views are not what the protest is about, but what he says on the national stage, including his racist rants since the George Zimmerman verdict, in which he blamed African-Americans for their own oppression. He also criticized Trayvon Martin’s parents, saying they should ask themselves why they raised a “gangsta wannabe, Skittles hoodie boy.”
Tracking the remarks of people like Da Nuge makes an old man despair of being a member of the human race in what’s left of the United States of America. Part of the endless, self-referential torrent of bullshit that passes for mass media these days depends on the Ted Nugents and Ann Coulters and Michael Savages of the world saying things so outrageous that they pass the bounds of decency, thus further weakening the bounds of decency for the next assault, as they drop their pants, squat down and squeeze out yet another opinion that would have been unthinkable to utter 20 years ago.
This franchise will be dormant for the next week, possibly two. Family events, out-of-town visitors, and a beach wedding are at hand. Arrangements to make, fatted calves to slay, etc. And I have other articles in the queue that have suffered from lack of time to fully investigate and complete. So perhaps I will do that with the odd remaindered bits of time that I may find in the next week or so. I appreciate your indulgence; the hiatus may keep me from opening a vein.
Meanwhile, don’t forget that we operate a reasonably vibrant Facebook page, that reflects key postings on the diner forum, articles from the Diner blog, plus articles of interest from many usual suspects around the blogosphere at https://www.facebook.com/DoomsteadDiner.
Plus Kudos to JD for yeoman work in standing up the Diner Twitter feed, already vibrant with activity, and enough to make an old man get a twitter account. Damn it. Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666