The Week in Doom, September 27

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964Off the keyboard of Surly1

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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on September 28, 2014

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“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance… In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.” ― George Orwell

Seven for Seven

Eternal war got a boost this week. There was a time when the more credulous among us cast a vote for Barack Obama largely because, no matter what he might be, he wasn’t George W. Bush or his infamous handler. Any thoughts that the two were intrinsically different in terms of foreign-policy, was put to rest this week as the US and its “allies” rained airstrikes on targets in Iraq and Syria. The man who campaigned on a platform of “hope and change” appeared at the UN this week to utter of ISIS:

“The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.”

Having been thwarted last year in Syria by Vladimir Putin, Obama ramped up the rhetoric in order to stampede the recalcitrants to get with the program:

“There can be no reasoning, no negotiation, with this brand of evil,” Obama told the General Assembly. In a striking shift for a president who has been reluctant to take military action in the past, Obama declared that force is the only language the militants understand. He warned those who have joined their cause to “leave the battlefield while they can.”

Previously it seemed that Obama wanted to wind down the foreign wars, in response to the war weariness and general bankruptcy of the American public. But the existential threat presented by what is being marketed as the Islamic State has already sucked Obama back into Levantine conflicts and the middle of Syria’s intractable civil war. A few months ago, Obama had a timetable for extraction of US forces from the endless GWOT-wars he was bequeathed. Perhaps he underestimated the reach and the connections of the neocon embeds salted away in the bowels of his foreign-policy apparatus. They were not to be denied. Let’s recall what the agenda was in 2007:

…a tantalizing passage in Wesley Clark’s new memoir suggests that another war is part of a long-planned Department of Defense strategy that anticipated “regime change” by force in no fewer than seven Mideast states. Critics of the war have often voiced suspicions of such imperial schemes, but this is the first time that a high-ranking former military officer has claimed to know that such plans existed.

In “A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country,” the former four-star general recalls two visits to the Pentagon following the terrorist attacks of September 2001. On the first visit, less than two weeks after Sept. 11, he writes, a “senior general” told him, “We’re going to attack Iraq. The decision has basically been made.”

Six weeks later, Clark returned to Washington to see the same general and inquired whether the plan to strike Iraq was still under consideration. The general’s response was stunning:

“‘Oh, it’s worse than that,’ he said, holding up a memo on his desk. ‘Here’s the paper from the Office of the Secretary of Defense [then Donald Rumsfeld] outlining the strategy. We’re going to take out seven countries in five years.’ And he named them, starting with Iraq and Syria and ending with Iran.”

While Clark doesn’t name the other four countries, he has mentioned in televised interviews that the hit list included Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.

Check, check, check, and check. The agenda for the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) still alive and well. And while we’re shaking off the intoxication of the constant propaganda, never forget that ALL of this “Islamic State™” mayhem is the direct consequence of neocon policy: blowback from the arming and training jihadists by the US and its allies in an effort to overthrow Assad. If you’re scoring at home, you might recall that it was Assad’s government battling the jihadists as they demonstrated ninth-century Islamic justice for today’s audiences by cutting off the heads of Syrians for being Christian, Kurdish, Shia, or insufficiently Muslim. Corpmedia has only recently have taken note of the beheadings since Westerners have been beheaded, (the crucifixions were a deft touch, yes?) while studiously ignoring the blowback.

And those entities who have catapulted the armed ISIS PR juggernaut into the headlines will employ their pliant middlemen to keep them there. From statements like those of hired errand boy David Cameron, one might infer the elites are becoming a bit restive about this Internet thingy, since the proles are discovering that their mistrust and disdain for manufactured narratives is shared by thousands of others. At the UN this week, Cameron affirmed the elites’ belief that “non-violent extremism” is just as dangerous as terrorism and must be eradicated using all means at the government’s disposal.


To defeat ISIL – and organisations like it – we must defeat this ideology in all its forms.

As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by preachers who claim not to encourage violence, but whose world view can be used as a justification for it. We know this world view.

The peddling of lies: that 9/11 was a Jewish plot or that the 7/7 London attacks were staged. The idea that Muslims are persecuted all over the world as a deliberate act of Western policy. The concept of an inevitable clash of civilisations.

We must be clear: to defeat the ideology of extremism we need to deal with all forms of extremism – not just violent extremism.

Cameron makes much of how Britain will “do its part,” by providing not only a military role but by getting its house in order at home:

For our part, in the United Kingdom, we are introducing new powers.

To strengthen our ability to seize passports and stop suspects travelling.

To allow us to strip British identity from dual nationals and temporarily prevent some British nationals getting back into our country.

To ensure that airlines comply with our no fly lists and security screening requirements.

And to enable our police and our security services to apply for stronger locational constraints on those in the UK who pose a risk.

Love those “locational restraints” dreamed up by these children of the Enlightenment. Nothing says “freedom” and “liberty” like locational restraint and other forms of militarized governmental goonery. (See Ferguson, Occupy, et al.).

The BillO Brigade

Meanwhile, in the department of people willing to fight the next war down to your last son or daughter, Fox news walking tantrum Bill O’Reilly called for President Obama to raise an anti-terror mercenary army to defeat Islamic State militants, the “boots on the ground” needed to address the deficiencies in Obama’s air assault. No doubt O’Reilly relied upon his own many years of military service (none) and deep experience as a war planner (uh, no.) The use of mercenary forces has been outlawed by the U.N. General Assembly, but that is the kind of quibble usually raised by the wrong kinds of people. Also no matter that O’Reilly’s expert guest, U.S. Naval War College Professor Tom Nichols, Ph.D., a national security expert, refuted BillO’s plan. Nichols explained that “it is a morally corrosive idea to try to outsource our national security,” a notion that will itself come as a “terrible,” “immoral” idea to Blackwater scion Erik Prince.

“Well, Bill, I understand your frustration. I really do. But this is a terrible idea, a terrible idea not just as a practical matter but a moral matter. It’s a morally corrosive idea to try to outsource our national security. This is something Americans are going to have to deal for themselves. We’re not going to solve this problem by creating an army of Marvel Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy…There’s nothing theoretical about it. It’s the worst of both worlds. You’re asking these forces to operate as though they’re U.S. military forces and you’re treating them as though they’re mercenaries merely because you don’t want to have to use American military forces. And I think that that undermines the whole notion of our own security. “

To the barracades, citizens…

Tomorrow Belongs to Me: the Colorado Curriculum Edition

Another front in the war to “keep society intact” was opened in Colorado this week. In response to a conservative school board led proposal that history education should “promote patriotism and respect for authority,” hundreds of insufficiently respectful students walked out of suburban Denver classrooms on Tuesday in protest. The youth protest involved six high schools in and follows a sick-out from teachers that shut down a couple of high schools in the politically and economically diverse area. The AP reported that

The school board proposal that triggered the walkouts in Jefferson County calls for instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

And we’ve already seen how unpatriotic and deserving of wholesale assault our attempts to exercise First Amendment rights. Interestingly, none of the proposal advanced by Julie Williams, a member of the board’s conservative majority, calls for the reinstitution of civics education, such that students might know how their government works and what their rights actually are under the Constitution. As history has taught, educated people are insufficiently pliable.

“It’s chilling,” said school board member Lesley Dahlkemper, who typically clashes with the conservative majority. “Does it mean Jeffco will no longer study the civil rights movement, the Boston Tea Party or women’s suffrage?”

It probably means that the Boston Tea Party will be taught as the free enterprise system’s response to the over regulation and taxation of the nanny state. After all, something in the AP curriculum will have to be jettisoned in order to make way for Austrian economics. Fortunately for the Republic, Charlie Pierce is patrolling the perimeter and provides a useful last word:

Luckily, the kids in Colorado’s AP History classes are smarter about history than Ms. Williams and her colleagues, who were, I hasten to add, freely elected. And that’s why you should vote, every time and in every election, no matter how apparently minor the office or how apparently insignificant the issue. You never know who’s breaking in.

Vote.

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Acting Like it Never Happened

On the fourth Friday of every month, my friend Al, known around the Diner as Jaded Prole, hosts a meeting at the home he shares with a local artist. It is a meeting of various progressives, former Occupiers, actors, academics, misfits and left-wing veterans of a certain age. We meet for snacks and drinks, and especially good conversation. This past Friday, conversation at this salon revolved around the climate change march held in New York City the previous weekend. Several of our number were there and shared firsthand accounts and photos from the event. Corpmedia studiously ignored the many, many thousands of people involved in the March.

Sunday news shows on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox failed to cover the People’s Climate March, a massive protest against climate change being held September 21 in New York City in conjunction with events in more than 150 countries worldwide.

Meet the Press, Face the Nation, State of the Union, and Fox News Sunday ignored the event, which is being touted by participants as “the largest mobilization against climate change in the history of the planet.” The Nation editor and publisher Katrina vandenHeuvel briefly mentioned the march on ABC’s This Week while arguing that national security concerns surrounding climate change are not receiving adequate attention.

 

Our first-hand accounts related how slowly the march moved. The reason it moved slowly was the crush of participants–there were so damned many people there. Reportedly even Fox News pegged the number at 310,000, and reasonable estimates put the number at 400,000 souls. The march moved slowly, but did move. NPR gave the march and the UN climate meeting some coverage, which was more than most.

Skeptics ask the point of the march. Others said there was no agenda. The march was not merely intended for consumption of the UN conferees, or media. It demonstrated that it is still possible to rouse a significant crowd in a mass rally for an important enough issue. Marchers got to see one other, to be validated in what is often a solitary burden of conscience, and to know that others share their concerns in the face of the ceaseless propaganda of the extractive industries.

Inevitably the talk turned to climate change and its deeply unsettling consequences. We discussed the work of Jason Box, the black ice in Greenland, the changing albedo of the Arctic, the melting glaciers, the corporate assault on fresh water, of Guy McPherson’s prediction that in 30 years we’ll all be dead, and we ought be living our lives doing hospice work. Someone observed that earth will be fine, it’s us human beings that will be screwed. At least one of our number stayed for the #floodWallStreet event the following day which featured the usual hospitality of the NYPD as well as the arrest of a polar bear.

What I took away from this discussion, aside from gratitude to my colleagues for making a presence when I could not, was gratitude that it is still possible to mass people in the streets for an important public issue. We discussed the formula by which policymakers weigh public response: an email worth five voters, a phone call worth 10 voters, a letter worth 50 voters, somebody bothering to show up at a civic meeting and weigh-in worth 100. By that measure, at least 40 million fellow Americans hold with those who showed up for the climate March last Sunday. You’d think that even the dimmest bulb in Jerusalem-on-the-Potomac would pay attention. But Louie Gohmert was unavailable for comment.

***

Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and quit barking and got off the porch long enough to be briefly active in the Occupy movement. He shares a home in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary and is grateful each day for the life he has with her, and that he is not yet taking a dirt nap.

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