Monday, March 09, 2015

Canada's Bill C-51: A Bitter Reality

Stephen Harper's Bill C 51 will render the sacrifice of 45,000 Canadian soldiers that died in World War II meaningless. Canada is quietly slipping away from a century (plus) of protecting and cultivating freedom and democracy into a nightmare of state control and tyranny. This maneuver is accomplished in part by Harper's proposed bill to Parliament.

The bill clears the way for the Canadian state under CSIS and the RCMP to abuse Canadian citizens in a vast variety of ways with impunity. Judges themselves will be bound to violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We shall examine here several of the tenets of the bill to adequately contemplate a portion of the impact it may have on Canadians.

The excess of latent tyranny that is held in this bill is not explicit and that is the problem. The more nebulous the legal language, the more power granted the state to have its way with citizenry. A term like 'terrorist' or 'extremist' cannot be pinned down. What may be considered extreme at one time may be normal at a later time. What is considered terrorism by one individual or culture (eg. Egypt) is considered democratic expression by somebody else. In other words, the bill is wholly reliant on subjective interpretations of its meaning. This is extremely dangerous considering the granting of warrants is done in secret between CSIS and a judge that is now compelled to rubber stamp the request for the warrant.

A crucial consideration in all this is the power it grants to potential fascistic minded governors in the future. The power granted the government paves the way for a police state where civil disobedience, protest, strikes, and even spoken dissent are criminalized. Moreover, the bill itself contains the implicit threat of being deemed an enemy of the state which undoubtedly will silence dissent.

According to lawyers Clayton Ruby and Nadar R. Hasan, in an analysis for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the proposed bill curtails CSIS and the RCMP in the following ways;

In taking measures to reduce a threat to the security of Canada, the Service shall not:
(a) cause, intentionally or by criminal negligence, death or bodily harm to an individual;
(b) wilfully attempt in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice; or
(c) violate the sexual integrity of an individual.

https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/monitor/bill-c-51-legal-primer

And that is it. These are the boundaries placed before a future spook that may want to start a nefarious relationship with you.

The authors also point out, “Under the warrant provision, a judge may issue a warrant if satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to justify the belief that the requested measures are required to enable CSIS “to reduce a threat to the security of Canada,” and are “reasonabl[e] and proportiona[te].” This is an odd standard, which judges will find difficult, if not impossible, to apply. The ordinary standard for issuance of a warrant is based on reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence has been committed (in the case of a warrant to arrest) or reasonable grounds to believe that the search of a place will afford evidence of an offence (in the case of a search pursuant to judicial warrant). These are determinations that can be made objectively, based on the evidence, by an impartial judicial officer. By contrast, whether a given measure would proportionately “reduce the threat to the security of Canada” is not like these other tests. It amounts to asking judges to look into a crystal ball to determine if Canada will be safer in the future if a CSIS officer takes some measure. This is not a determination that judges are equipped to make. The limits will vary with the judges chosen by CSIS, not with the evidence.”

Preventive Arrest

Nothing could be more an affront to the objective, rational legal tenets that have been fought for and fine tuned since the Magna Carta had taken its first tentative step into modern free societies in 1215 where citizens were granted the right to a fair trial. It was our first legacy of protection against the arbitrary use of power. From the Magna Carta:

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.
To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”

Here we are in 2015 and Stephen Harper cannot even respect the quality of freedom provided to citizens almost 1000 years ago. His bill contains provisions for 'preventive arrest'.

In order to live in a free society, we need to abide by certain principles that we have become so accustomed to and unfortunately we take them for granted. Those principles may have been noticed by us when we would like police to lock up a known threat to the community but instead, must put up with that threat until the threatening person actually commits a crime. A woman may know, for sure, that her husband is about to kill her. Nothing more than a peace bond can protect her. That is the price we pay and it is the price we have always paid to live in freedom. As Mr. Ruby and Mr. Hasan point out, “Preventive detention—i.e., detention on the suspicion that someone may or will commit a crime at some point in the future—is the opposite of that legal tradition and is inconsistent with the constitutionally protected right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.” Under the bill, you may be arrested should authorities deem you suspicious.

Under current law, an individual may be arrested prior to actually committing the act if there are grounds to believe a terrorist act will be carried out. The new legislation replaces the word 'will' with the word 'may'. That simple change alters our universe. It will move Canada from the world of free and democratic societies and crosses a line and on the other side of that line are Saudi Arabia, fascism, and totalitarianism.

Again, Mr. Ruby and Mr. Hasan:

“Bill C-51 also substitutes “likely” for “necessary” such that s. 83.3(2) would now enable a peace officer to lay an information or effect a warrantless arrest if the officer:
(a) believes on reasonable grounds that a terrorist activity will may be carried out; and
(b) suspects on reasonable grounds that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person, or the arrest of a person, is necessary likely to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity.
Both changes result in a significant lowering of the standard for arrest and detention.
The changes to the law are significant in two respects. The substitution of “may”where it currently says “will” is a significant watering down of the standard. “Will,” when coupled with “reasonable grounds to believe,” denotes evidence-based probability, whereas “may” denotes mere possibility.
The shift from “necessary” to “likely” is equally important. Necessity in this context suggests that the police officer suspects that no measure other than arrest will prevent a terrorist act. Likelihood is not necessity. Under the new provision, the police officer need only suspect that the arrest is more likely than not to prevent terrorist activity.”

Promoting Terrorism

Free speech is the cornerstone of a free society. Canadians generally agree that it has limits, and agree that yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre and endangering lives is beyond the scope of free speech. The main issue here however is the freedom to express opinions whether they be political, religious, or philosophical.

The slippery language around the concept 'promoting terrorism' is another giant loophole for aggressive or even curious CSIS agents to slip through. Bill C-51 will modify the Criminal Code as follows:

“Every person who, by communicating statements, knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general—other than an offence under this section—while knowing that any of those offenses will be committed or being reckless as to whether any of those offences may be committed, as a result of such communication, is guilty of an indictable offense and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years.”

This section endangers free speech and will allow the state to arrest an individual that maybe trying to debate an issue or to analyze the merits and shortcomings of groups that have been deemed terrorist such as Hamas, Hezbollah, or the Muslim Brotherhood. It also may be used against us for supporting environmental groups, Native activists, or left wing groups that may advocate revolution. Should a CSIS spook consider your opinion a resource for the Muslim Brotherhood for example, then you are at risk of a lengthy jail term. We must defacto agree with the Canadian state that once they consider an individual or group terrorist, they are terrorists. Otherwise, we are in real trouble. Many Canadians may not agree with Mr. Harper's assessment of who is a terrorist and who isn't.

The use of terms like 'extremist' or 'terrorist' to base laws on is profoundly child-like. It reflects a mentality incapable of nuance or sophistication. It reflects George W Bush's view of bad guys and good guys. These terms defy definition and that is why Stephen Harper is driving them into the legislation. Anybody can be defined as a terrorist by somebody else from a different culture or a different epoch. The accepted idea of an extremist in 1970 wouldn't be close to what it is today. To be sure, Harper himself would be considered an extremist in 1970, even by Nixon's standards.

This bill puts all of us at the mercy of spooks and government whores. The use of terms like terrorism are simply a reflection of Mr. Harper's cynicism and his intent to ensure Canada's placement in the realm of 'secure' nations.

This is but two of the odious provisions in the act, an act that has not yet passed but surely will.

The Enlightenment

In the 1700s a wave of bold and free thinking upset the old feudal order. This wave of thought is generally known as the enlightenment. The enlightenment empowered reason as the sovereign ruler over the population, a ruler most of us have come to respect and admire. It is this ruler that the United States of America and modern Western societies are founded upon. It is the language of Thomas Paine, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. Kant observed that the enlightenment would put an end to Monarchic and clerical arbitrary power. An informed and thinking population will demand that reason and principles are placed above the morbid and vicious rule of the dark regions of human emotion. Kant said of the enlightenment that it is the freedom for the individual to use his or her own intelligence. More broadly, the enlightenment demanded rule of law. No longer would human beings be ruled by cruel and capricious whims of revenge, insecurity, fear, hatred, or xenophobia. Laws, societies, and individuals would stand on a foundation of rational principles. No individual or body would rise above rule of law.

The enlightenment was thought of as humanity moving forward, away from the horror and terror of the cowardice and immaturity of the feudal past toward true justice and equality before the law.

Enlightenment ideas had fit nicely with the emerging and growing hunger of capitalism. And capitalism would provide high octane, energizing and propelling the language of the enlightenment into legislation and into our homes. The emerging bourgeois classes had tangible and pragmatic reasons to cast aside the oppressive weight of superstition and tradition. Contractual rights as opposed to traditional or arbitrary power would feed into the increasing power of the capitalist classes and correspondingly reduce the right of Kings. The enlightenment was a key element to the capitalist revolution.

The general thread of thinking known as the enlightenment were preceded by two principles that are foundational to the rational rule of law have survived and, similarly to enlightenment ideas, are vital to maintain the principles of a free and rational civilization. They are the "Great Writ" (habeas corpus) and as mentioned above, the Magna Carta.

Habeas corpus empowers the courts to direct any authority that holds an individual in custody to show cause to the court why the individual's liberty is denied within a reasonable amount of time. If no substantial reason is provided, the individual must be set free. It is a fundamental guarantee of liberty and any free society should have no difficulty with anything as basic as habeas corpus.

In the past decade or so, the United States and its subjects under NATO have skilfully changed the political syntax of the modern world. They are passing the boundary that separates free countries from autocracies and oligarchies in the dead of night. They do not deny that they are doing it; on the contrary. They do it while they scream at us to shut up; terrorists are about to strike. In fact, they use terrorist acts to justify the introduction of the language of fascism. Hitler did precisely the same thing with the fire at the Reichstag. The fire at the Reichstag was crucial to the establishment of Nazi Germany.

We have evolved from feudal power where it was openly acknowledged that might makes right. Naked reliance on violence and fear is what legitimized the power of monarchs. The state was an openly violent and oppressive institution. Power rested in the hands of Kings that could make arbitrary decisions based on His own highly charged emotions like revenge, fear, or greed.

We must maintain our capacity for critical reflection and thinking. We are in uncharted waters. The last time the tyrants wore brown shirts, jackboots, and displayed swastikas. They spewed a specific kind of rhetoric. They appealed to certain kinds of fears. This time it will not bear the exact signature of Mussolini or Adolph Hitler. In fact, it will be consciously displayed with different colours. But the fundamentals will remain. And those fundamentals are: state power over the rule of law, extreme nationalism, xenophobia, imperialism, systematic propaganda, state and corporate collusion, and endless war.

Stephen Harper and his ilk are the first, front and centre at solemn Remembrance Day ceremonies. They promote an air of sacred respect for the fallen. They are quick to tell us that these soldiers died for us, for our freedom. And it is exactly this same ilk that support this bill. It leads one to suspect that all their poppies and salutes on November 11th are not about freedom at all. It is, for them, about militarizing the population to promote more war. To glorify war.

The proposed bill is far more dangerous than ISIS or terrorism. While Stephen Harper urges us to look abroad, to look at ISIS, he attacks the very foundation of Canada with far more pernicious toxicity than ISIS could ever hope for.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

All Roads Lead to Washington

The world is in turmoil and all roads lead to Washington. Europe is at a boiling point. Syria is a death zone and it would be far worse if Putin hadn't stopped the war Obama was going to foist upon Damascus in 2013. Further afield, fires are blazing or embers are in danger of flaring up. If Washington had succeeded with its designs on Assad the region would be in far worse shape than its in now. As a result of Putin's peacemaking, Washington stepped up it sword rattling toward Moscow to a very dangerous level.

Further back, the Americans started two deadly and illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to 'stop terrorism'. Prior to this, Al Qaeda had no place in Iraq. Now it is operating alongside another Washington creation known as ISIS. ISIS apparently surprised the Americans with their sudden strength (the idiocy hypothesis). Now they are spreading into northern Africa thanks to the murder of Gaddafi.

The Americans have imposed sanctions on Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Cuba, and others as a means of collective punishment. Sanctions are aimed to cause so much distress among the population that the target government will become unpopular. The death and suffering as a result of sanctions are considered, but not in a way a sane human being would think. They have also gutted the price of oil to hurt independent/defiant operators such as Russian or Venezuela governments.

It appears, by results, that American foreign policy is aimed at enhancing exactly what they profess to want to destroy; namely, Islamic extremism. European fascists are also reaping the whirlwind. The attack in Paris against Charlie Hebdo has played into the hands of La Pen's fascists as well as fascists across Europe. What will follow from increased anti-immigrant fascism will be increased anti-Muslim sentiments in France and throughout Europe. In turn, this will strengthen Al Qaeda, ISIS and Islamic militancy throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Over and over again American aggression just adds fuel to a raging fire and there seems to be no end in sight. Considering the recent GOP victories in mid term elections, it promises to get much worse.

Without even considering Asia, Latin America or Africa we can see that the chaos and violence caused by American foreign policy is heading straight into as much war as they can create without exposing their crypto-fascist designs; perhaps to lock down Western nations lock stock and barrel for 'national security' reasons.

Oddly enough, all this apparent bumbling resulting in so much death and displacement is not noticed in the press. Where are the commentaries from media that even question the competence of the state? Do they not notice every ostensible project their heroic commanders take on ends in miserable failure? Iraq is destroyed, Libya is destroyed as are Afghanistan and Syria and many other societies are suffering under American aggression whether it be sanctions or drone strikes. Even with no consideration of human costs, they have failed miserably when it comes to strategies to control and dominate much of the Middle East. The question is: Can they really be this incompetent? The short answer is, no.

They have destabilized the Middle East through clear lucid intent and that was one large objective toward their goal. If you think that sounds crazy, then you need to accept that the most powerful and massive military and intelligence operations in history are utterly incompetent. There is no third way.

If we accept the bumbler hypothesis we should recollect the initiation of the current troubles in Iraq beyond the war itself. The Americans divided the Sunnis and Shia leaving them with a situation where civil war was inevitable after they left. They are the creators of ISIS as they were the creators of Al Qeada while waging a proxy skirmish with Russia after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. We also need to recollect John McCain's recent back slaps and hand shakes with ISIS terrorists as he posed for pictures with them just inside the Syrian border from Turkey.

If you still think the American state is just some evil version of the keystone cops consider this (from 2013):

“With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.”

And, “From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. The C.I.A. declined to comment on the shipments or its role in them.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/arms-airlift-to-syrian-rebels-expands-with-cia-aid.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

If we maintain that they are as incompetent as they seem, we cannot ignore the results of their activities have destabilized all of the Middle East. Europe cannot escape the fall out and in Europe, fascism is becoming attractive to many lumpen nationalists. Incredibly, in a very short time fascism and chronic terrorism have reduced the European sense of security to what has been common in developing nations.

While we weep over the blood of the French cartoonists that intentionally fanned the flames of the Empire we cannot forget that their blood, ultimately, is on the hands of the American President whether it be Bush or Obama. They have literally spilt gallons. Minor players like Harper and Blair are guilty as are so many others including many media personalities and publications.

As they voice outrage at this massacre, watch very closely. And watch your back.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Under Arrest: Santa Claus

Santa Claus is destroying the planet. We need to make a choice; Santa or humanity or rather, Santa or the ecosystems that support humanity. We need to really consider what goes in to bringing you, or me, a Christmas present.

We live inside extremely large and wasteful systems and those systems are destroying the planet. Considering the volume of those systems, it's not enough to re-cycle. Our party of consumption has to come to an end and that party reaches its peak once a year, at Christmas time. Most retail sales occur during the Christmas season.

A typical Christmas present requires a monumental effort that happens behind the scenes. The materials to make the item is shipped to the factory from the resource providers. This requires ships, trucks and forklifts. It is packaged in a way that requires cutting trees and processing the paper. The paper is then packed and shipped. It is then made into the specific packaging material for the item. The item itself may depend on various parts shipped from all over the planet. And on Christmas morning we will open it, first by removing the bow and card, then the paper, then a box, another box, perhaps some plastic etc. This insanity happens all year round however. Little by little by little, every day, every week and every year the earth and the eco-systems provide their micro treasures for our macro systems so we humans can consume. We are addicted to hair conditioner and cigarettes and fat. And as the eco-systems offers up their treasures to us we flush them down toilets and burn them and contaminate the source of our existence.

We must abandon our multitude of petty addictions. We have to abandon our spoiled comfort. We have to stop the madness of having toys and convenient snacks and repairing our snack damage with rides to the gym to work off our guilt and excessive fat. We have to stop packing goods inside of packages that are inside of packages. We have to stop cutting tress to make paper to advertise to tell people they must consume what they don’t need and what will make them sick. We have to learn to eat from the local soil, to drink water from our local ground and to stop all the shipping and flushing and burning.

Have an Ivan Pavlov Christmas

As children we are trained by Santa Claus to become hopelessly addicted to junk. As adults, our addiction doesn't fade and we are hell bent to ensure our children are even more addicted than we were. The addiction brought so much joy and we love our children. Each and every year the same stimulus; Christmas carols, the tree and decorations and food are replicated from our own childhood. Our parents had us overwhelmed with a month of carols, decorations, and shopping. All the characteristics of Christmas from 50 or 100 years ago still remain. The very same stimulus and the very same responses are on an endless loop in the culture. On Christmas morning the family scene breaks a month of anticipation into a day of hedonism and gluttony.

As adults we salivate in a similar way to Pavlov's dog. Ivan Pavlov developed the theory of classical conditioning (conditioned reflex). Pavlov measured the rate of salivation when he would present a dog with food. He discovered the dog would learn to salivate with only the sound of a bell once the dog learned to associate the sound with the food. The food was no longer necessary to produce the saliva response. The Christmas spirit is the same conditioned response to stimuli. It has nothing to do with the spirit of Christ - on the contrary. The Christmas spirit is the spirit of selfish giving. We give yes, and we expect as much joy from the gifts we give. As children we got packages of crack, toys that would buzz our minds for hours. Now we get bathoil beads and soap. We get socks, ties, and maybe a book. Our stimulus was once alive, buzzing with excitement. It isn't the same for us anymore and our gifts are listless and drab. We remain responsive to the sound of Pavlov's bell however. We swallow back our dissatisfaction and live vicariously through the children; children that couldn't be happier.

In this spirit we walk past homeless people in the Christmas rush. We are carrying far too many packages to give a beggar a coin. We step by them without really noticing. We are far too busy gathering large volumes of material we will re-cycle. We are, after all, concerned about the environment.

In our defense we provide joy and happiness for family and friends and they do the same for us. This is the time of year we forget about the troubles of the world and we celebrate with family. Sharing the Christmas spirit with family is what its all about.

The point here is, Christmas has been hijacked by crass consumerism and it is the wasteful and excessive orgy of hedonistic materialism that is harmful to the planet. Sharing Christmas time with family and friends does not require multiple trips to Wal Mart.

Our addiction to consumer Christmas has to come to an end. The planet cannot survive with the direct impact Christmas has on the environment nor can can it survive as long as we are addicted to advertising, packaging, and items we don't need. The whole attitude has to change. It is not only climate change that is hurting the earth. Our selfish destruction of ecosystems is poisoning the land, the sea, and the atmosphere. If we gave a damn about our children and their children, we would not addict them to junk. We would pass on to them an environment where they could could survive and where they can enjoy a sane, non addicting Christmas with their families.

Resistance

Not only individuals addicted to Christmas want to keep the party raging. Corporations depending on Christmas sales have some stake in this as well. Together, they make a formidable team. And besides, nobody is going to make you give up Christmas. Environmentalists and left wing loonies can say what they want but you will have a much or as little Christmas as you choose. And this is the key point. This is your choice.

When we consider that even something as minimal as the Kyoto Protocol and opposition from those that are most addicted to the party, we know that we have to win a huge battle before we arrest Santa Claus. Our children and grandchildren and their kids have an enemy in our midst and that enemy is us. This enemy is equal to any coward that puts his own pleasure ahead of the survival of others. They are the selfish and comfortable cowards that we think of as shareholders. They are them and their million lackeys and they are the enemies of humanity and the earth.

In the 21st century, everybody doesn’t have to work to distribute and produce wealth. That idea is archaic and part of capitalistic indoctrination. Capitalism has given us many gifts of technology, know-how, and toys. Thank you capitalism, we appreciate it. But it has come at a price and the sooner we start paying it back to the earth, the less expensive it will be. We have to change our economic systems, our production systems and our distribution systems if we want to save the eco-systems that support us.
We will crush resistance to the detoxification of Christmas even though Santa's fifth column is deep among us. It is a matter of time. Christmas must be restored to its true meaning which is 180 degrees contrary to greed and addictions to bath oil beads. We need to crush the spirit of Santa and replace it with the attitude of Jesus. When that happens we will produce most of what we need locally and we will start living with each other in communities again. We won't walk by the beggar. We will sit and talk to him. We will say good-bye to our alienated lives in front of television sets. We will produce what we need and we will distribute what is needed as it is needed. We may need bicycles and buses, we don’t need cars. We need to distribute water where it isn’t locally available. We don’t need Coke. We don’t need useless items in multiple packages.

We live inside big wasteful production and distribution systems but we also live inside many other systems. We live inside eco-systems and we are destroying them. We cannot continue to abuse the earth because we are as much a part of the earth and the nutrients we put in our mouths and flush down the toilet. As we destroy the earth, we destroy our grandchildren. They are the earth and they will come from the earth long after we return to it.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Calculus of Revolution

We are powerless. The threat of revolution is all we have. Not so long ago we could negotiate but today, established power does not see human needs as a calculation. Yesterday, the corporate/political establishment showed a measure of respect. Today, it is absent. The important message for today is, that respect was earned.

We may have some expectation that we are going through a rough patch and things will get back to normal. What is happening however is the driving force for production, trade, and employment has changed its nature. That driving force is capitalism itself. Even if people with power wanted to, it is very likely the greater capitalist system does not have capacity to turn back the clock to restore adequate pensions, decent wages, and a humane social safety net. That is not to suggest these things are out of reach. Under the status quo however, they are.

Another ongoing change is not a change as much as manifestation as a result of the environment in which it operates. In times of luxury and growth, capitalism is naturally liberal. Liberalism facilitates growth and flexibility. During times of scarcity and fierce competition however, capitalism has a distinct and necessary brutality to it. It becomes increasingly fascistic.

While there is no shortage of individuals, organizations, and even nations wanting to alter the system to be more humane, there is an obvious shortage of respect for those with their hand out. On the other hand, any serious discussion of what wealth is, of how it is created and who owns it will get respect. Actually taking steps to restore social programs and public wealth will turn that respect to fear.

The bottom line is, wealth is not what they think it is. We create it and they take it. If they have seduced you into believing that they create it, read on.

The Bankruptcy of Reform

Reform minded movements and individuals are barely fighting to increase minimum wages and restore social programs. Our collective powerlessness including the powerlessness of the union movement is obvious. Aside from begging we have no strategy at all. Collective begging that consists of complaining to lawmakers, signing petitions, protesting, and various other means garners no respect, nor should it. These tactics are utterly toothless. Our voices of discontent are not treated with respect and all our good, rational, and compassionate arguments are simply ignored.

Reform had been granted in the past as a result of building class consciousness among citizens. In 1936 and 1937 workers in the United States began sit down strikes all over the country. The Communist Party in the United States reached a membership of 50,000. The capitalist class were insecure. They were terrified of revolution and they were cognizant of the power of poorly fed citizenry. Russia revolted twenty years ago and the same thing could happen again.

It wasn't only Roosevelt and the United States that were concerned with the possibility of revolution. Internationally, intellectuals, economists, politicians and business leaders themselves strategized ways to stem the tide. They found those ways and it was articulated by John Maynard Keynes.

Fear of the citizenry and the possibility they may be attracted to communism, which would end their dream completely, compelled changes to mitigate that risk. Joseph Kennedy said of that time, “In those days I felt and said I would be willing to part with half of what I had if I could be sure of keeping, under law and order, the other half”.

Reasonable middle class expectations are that 'they' will do it again. The posture of the citizen beggar and the dynamics of the master/slave mentality that exists between established power and the rest of us must change and we are responsible to make that change happen. Corporate interests and their politicians have done their part; they have shipped our jobs abroad, they are tearing the social safety net to shreds, and they are proceeding to militarize the globe including domestic police forces. The 1% are clearly as class conscious as any Marxist and have shown absolutely no loyalty to workers, consumers, or nations. Our first great revolutionary act is to simply look.

The mess we are living through is not a matter of evil and greedy people becoming ever more callous as they grow. It is not a matter of capitalists or politicians being evil and selfish. The problem is much more serious. The problem is systemic and even if we jailed all the capitalists and the politicians today, the system would run exactly the same way tomorrow.

The system is rapidly changing due to the nature of capitalism itself. This is an energy that has a revolutionary life of its own. Its nature is dynamic and focused. That focus itself is one large problem for human beings. So is its dynamism.

Notwithstanding the depression and World War 2, past reforms were carried out during a period of relative global stability. Even responses to those world shaking events didn't change the nature of the beast. Its nature has been to evolve faster as it matures and today, it has successfully morphed to an inhumane feeding machine that can in no way be satisfied. Part of this monstrosity is due in part to emerging economies that had not been factors in earlier times. In the past, national capitalisms had some domestic control. When it comes to economic matters that is no longer the case.

A substantial factor that has been changing is its efficiency. The invention of new technologies aimed to increase production is changing the very nature of capitalism and its relationship with human beings. Today, those inventions are rapidly reducing and replacing the need for human input for a given volume of goods produced or services rendered. Paradoxically, these efficiencies have a negative influence on the aggregate real profit margin.

Arguments against neo-liberal policies may conclude that extremists like Thatcher or Reagan have ruined our standard of living. They assume a return to standards and regulations and general sanity will right the ship and so, it is a matter of getting the right politicians elected. Somethings amiss however. No matter what social democratic party or good guy politician is elected, like Obama, they always govern for the banks and the corporations and against Main Street. It isn't that the politicians are cruel or cowardly as much as politicians do not govern. They merely sit in a given seat and are told what to do. That is a more serious matter than if we were simply dealing with opportunists and self serving oafs. The best example of this is Obama's Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton. He may be blamed for the deregulation of international capital when he repealed the Glass–Steagall Act, an Act that was passed in 1933 in response to widespread financial fraud and abuse by investors. Under the Act, banks could take deposits and make loans while brokers could sell securities. No entity could do both due to the obvious conflicts of interest. In 1999 Clinton and the GOP controlled Congress were directed by the big banks to repeal the legislation. We may ask ourselves why a leader of the left side of political spectrum would repeal an act that has been a source of safety and financial security for business and ordinary Americans. And we can look at the current Democratic President of the United States and ask ourselves the similar questions. Again, it isn't personal. These are not necessarily evil people. They are simply immersed in a system they barely understand and they are powerless.

After Glass Steagall was repealed, financiers behaved exactly as they did in the 1920s and 30s. Banks created a system of fraudulent lending and sold packages of dirt to their customers in the form of securities. We can see that in many ways the nature of capitalism is exactly as it was almost a century ago. The differences will be most salient when the inevitable reform movements to come try to repeat history in terms of recreating generous social programs and restoring the old Keynsian order. The New Deal is not only old, it is dead.

As we remain bogged down in economic stagnation (notwithstanding the stock market bubble) and danger of another serious financial crash, reformist economic policies are a logical choice. But where is Obama's New Deal or anything like it? It makes perfect sense. The more spending power the consumer has the more the consumer will demand goods and services and this is naturally good for business. Here we are seven years after the shock of 2008 and our great salvation of reform, of change, the heroic Community Organizer, Constitutional Law Professor and President of the United States cannot do anything to stimulate the economy or, apparently, anything else he wants to do. Obama himself is clear evidence of Presidential castration. If he did build another Hoover Dam and if he repaired public infrastructure in the United States, he would lift America out of its financial misery. Main Street would be hopping again. Yet there is no new Hoover Dam or large infrastructure developments while America's streets and bridges continue to crumble. Instead, there is war. From Main Street, it makes no sense whatsoever. From Wall Street, it makes perfect sense and from there, he is directed not to stimulate the economy.

The Pragmatics of Revolution

There are two aspects to the notion of revolution and depending on the temperment and beliefs of an individual, one is more vital than the other. Those two aspects are sincere proletarian revolution with the aim of taking control of production, distribution, and government. The other is the threat of sincere proletarian revolution. The latter has been a governor in Western nations for the past century and we were not even aware of it. The USSR as well as legions of radicals in the 1930s threatened Western capitalism in the USA and abroad. Leaders of the day were forced to throw crumbs to the peasants lest they revolt.

Today, competition for legitimacy from the USSR has disappeared and we are increasingly dominated by Washington. Pressure on ordinary people stemming from vital human needs will continue to increase and at some point a critical mass will be unable to take it anymore. Revolutionary movements will spring up. Although that may seem remote and obscure, there is no overestimating the fickleness of crowds with starving children.

Until that threat is real, until we have a critical mass calling for full revolution against capitalism, we will remain weak, pathetic, and servile as we beg for table scraps from the omnipotent master. If you'd like some crumbs, you ask. If you want the whole cake, you take it. If you want reform, demanding the whole cake might not be a bad idea.

Wealth distribution from the 1% to the rest of us seems like a logical remedy. Problems with that as a remedy are deep however. First of all, the wealth owned by the 1% is empty of substance. If they had to cash it in it wouldn't be available. It is mirage created by bankers and the IMF and its rot will soon be in full view when the stock market bubble bursts and the whole illusion comes crashing down.

Real wealth is usable stuff or services. Money is merely a representation of that wealth. Wealth is created when minerals are removed from the ground, when timber is cut and when fish are caught. It is created when we manufacture, when we cure the ill, and when we build a bridge. And it is ordinary human beings that create that wealth. We seem to think we need our masters to tell us what to do; when to build bridges, when to manufacture medicine for human suffering, when to work and when to beg. The most revolutionary of all realizations is that we do not need the investors. We can build and distribute all we want and need. Simply seeing the truth of that statement is potent and it is revolutionary.

As long as we remain mired in out master/slave mentality we will not be anything more than beggars and slaves.

Look upon hard core radicals with the respect they deserve. Anarchists and communists and left wing radicals of all stripes will demand, they won't ask, what is rightfully the property of the people. It is the threat they present to the comfortable bourgeios nest that forces change. Begging is neither helpful or respectable.

The first step here is to understand the nature of wealth.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Robert Kagan: The Fool on the Hill

To look inside the mind of Brookings Institution Scholar Robert Kagan is to look into the minds of the most powerful and dangerous people on the planet. Kagan has many influential followers including John McCain, Mitt Romney and generally the who's who of right wing hawks. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are also disciples of his. In fact, in 2012, Obama was waving one of Kagan's works around telling the world that this is clear justification for his apparent fetish for endlesswar. The name of Obama's prize article is, “Not Fade Away: Against the Myth of American Decline”.

In his 2012 election campaign Obama stated, “The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe…. From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease, from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back. Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” Obama drew his new bold face from the article. He was impressed enough that he discussed the article at length with journalists in the midst of the election campaign against Mitt Romney while Kagan was an advisor to Mitt Romney.

Kagan's views of the USA and the world are extremely dangerous due to both their content and most especially to who is influenced by him. The fact that this man and his ideas are gospel to both Democrats and Republicans on the highest levels should get our attention. He is also married to Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Asia, Victoria Nuland, the woman that betrayed America's involvement in Ukraine as they pushed Russia into a deep and dangerous corner. This all reflects a realm of insiders, realpolitik, and conspiracy.

Obama's Gospel – The Article

The article itself is surprising in its weak base, unsupported assumptions, and its flawed logic. At its very base it assumes supreme sovereignty for all all nations belongs to the United States of America. That base is not a base but reflects Obama's cavalier attitude when to comes to law, especially international law.

The question leading into this article: “Is the United States in decline, as so many seem to believe these days? Or are Americans in danger of committing pre-emptive superpower suicide out of a misplaced fear of their own declining power?” Kagan's answer is that the current liberal world order, a creation of American foreign policy, could end up on the ash heap of history but with a correct view and through constant vigilance the current world order will be maintained.

Kagan cites three measures that may help us analyze the current condition of America's power in the world. They are, the size and influence of the nation's economy, the magnitude of its military, and, redundantly, the degree of political influence it has internationally. Kagan points to the perception that recent problems with the economy or foreign policy indicate the decline of the greatest superpower the world has known. Kagan compares this with the British Empire at the end of the 19th century. His easy juxtaposition of current American world domination and the British Empire does not go so far as replace the term 'superpower' with 'empire', it's merely implied. This starting point is telling. And the fact that it the starting point in the minds of many that have control of the American state indicates contempt for other nation's sovereignty and rule of law. Kagan exposes an unapologetic militarist and authoritarian world view.

His view is about power and not much else. Kagan points out that relative to other economies in the world the USA is holding its position, more or less. He argues that the rapid rise of the Chinese economy is not a crucial factor pointing out the “sheer size” of a given economy isn't a good measure of a nation's position in the world. China can be contained with effort. He points out that China will remain well behind both the US and Europe in terms of per capita GDP.

While the importance of an economy is important to Kagan and presumably anybody that aims to control the world, military strength is vital. He points out that military strength underpins hegemony. This point isn't consistent with the mainstream narrative however; that the USA intervenes in other parts of the world for the benefit of those that are attacked. While the notion of humanitarian intervention is obviously aimed to curry domestic and international support for its many wars, the calculations in Washington's back rooms are adjusted to the metrics of power, not to the wishes of the UN. Kagan's point here is that when it comes to military expenditures, the USA is in another league altogether, vastly outspending everybody else. And there is no doubt about that.

Kagan seems to be oblivious to economic considerations that are not related to military spending. He downplays the importance of a healthy economy and does not relate the economy's poor health to military expenditures. To detach the inconceivable sums that are military spending from the faltering nation's economy is not a simple blind spot. It is one of several of America's Achilles heels.

On the relative rise of other economies such as Brasil and China, he points out, “just because a nation is an attractive investment opportunity does not mean it is a rising great power”. What he does not mention however is the importance of manufacturing to a given domestic economy. These investment opportunities have shifted much of America's substantial tax base offshore. His assuredness that this simple opening of investment opportunities in other nations has no impact at home reflects a serious disconnect.

He points out the decline of the British Empire was not a result of poor economic performance. The British economy grew as it's global status shrank and that was due, in part, to the comparative rising strength of the American economy. It wasn't economic performance but militarily strength that diminished the standing of the United Kingdom. Kagan points to growing German military strength as they aimed for European supremacy as the reason for the British Empire's decline. He fails to say why. Perhaps it is because to Mr. Kagan, relative military strength is the supreme consideration; that on it's own is the measure of measures.

The article points out that as friendly nations rise, they pose no threat to America's position in the world. They are strategic partners and, as Kagan alluded earlier, under the umbrella and protection of American hegemony. Kagan identifies the growing Chinese economy and its concomitant capacity to grow its military as the only realistic threat to American dominance.

Kagan writes at length about the false nostalgia in notions of American popularity and superiority in the 1950s and 60s. Opposition to American imperialism was strident both at home and abroad. He points to a number of colossal failures in the 70s regarding American foreign policy and its economic standing in the world. These were bleak times and prophets like Henry Kissinger and Paul Kennedy were foretelling the demise of American dominance. Back then Kennedy suggested “imperial overreach” and military spending as Achilles heels that would cripple American power in the world. Kagan assert they were wrong pointing to America's overall consistency in terms of America's share of the world's GDP remaining steady. Kagan's overall point here is that much of the sense of American decline is based in nostalgic illusions of power and influence the USA has in the world that it simply didn't have; the subtext being, we are in a better position now than ever.

In the past, detractors that were critical of America's reach in Europe and throughout the world suggested that the USSR and not the USA was in a better position to win over global governments and populations. The USA, in competition with the USSR, was forced to maintain alliances, many of them strained. The USSR just had to wait them out. Kagan points to victory here for the USA and is attributing its expensive strategy of “containment” (of the USSR) as the crucial item.

Kagan's implication in this article that China is America's natural enemy is shocking. Fortunately, this article and its adherents do not see China as an immediate threat but they see continued containment of China as the reason why it isn't. The United States dominates China's backyard and Kagan points out that the USA has China surrounded with military bases. Even if China wanted to be a regional hegemon, it would need to remove Taiwan from America's pocket and they would need to usurp the USA from all the other nations surrounding China.

Kagan questions the notion of 'overreach' by comparing numbers of military personnel today with other times when the numbers were higher. His implicit suggestion is, we have capacity for much more. On the economic side of military spending, he quotes former budget czar Alice Rivlin, “the scary projections of future deficits are not “caused by rising defense spending,” much less by spending on foreign assistance.” Kagan asserts it is “runaway entitlement spending” that is compromising America's future. Presumably, boatloads of money being funneled into defense contractors bank accounts is not entitlement spending.

Kagan lists costs that the USA would incur should American taxpayers cut back on defense spending. They are, the costs associated with unraveling the economic order built and maintained by the American military, costs associated with insecure water routes kept open by the American military machine, costs associated with wars that would break out if the USA didn't keep nations from waging war against each other, costs associated with American allies that have lost the protection of the American military, and costs associated with “the generally free and open nature of the international system”.

Kagan is suggesting a 'pay now or pay later' scenario. This open and shameless display of circular logic has to be either a display of audacity or idiocy. There is no third option.

Kagan warns that world domination is a choice and a choice Americans themselves must make. Failure to maintain dominance would compromise its capacity to emerge from crisis to emerge stronger and healthier than other nations (as it has in the past). Americans may feel compelled, Kagan asserts, to back away from its “moral and material burdens” that have weighed on the USA since World War 2. To agree with diminished military spending is to believe the present 'world order' would persist without American dominance. To maintain the benefits of the current world order with its “widespread freedoms, its general prosperity, its absence of great power conflict”, requires American leadership and commitment.

Again, his presupposition that the status quo are the alpha and omega, that any risk to American dominance in the world is a disaster is utterly baseless and the platform for much of the logical failures that energize this article.

To finish off, Kagan again alludes to the term 'empire' and argues that while all empires do die, the question of when is key. The USA may have hundreds of years to go.

Conclusion

This article, touted by the President of the United States as justification for more war and increased militarism does not bode well for our collective futures. The article is dated and does not address recent sword rattling in the wake of Putin's disobedience dealing with Snowdon, Syria, the Ukraine and so on. Since that article was written, Russia may have replaced China as Robert Kagan's long term project. And since that time, Obama has turned to bay with the dogs of war. Probably as a result of Kagan's influence scores of human beings are now dead in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and other places. And the more and the longer people like him enjoy the influence they do, the more people will die needlessly.

One thing is for sure. The United States has war on its mind and many human beings are not alive today as a result, many more will be dead tomorrow. That consideration however isn't even hinted at. As we read an article like this, as influential as it has been, it is devoid of humanity. Its as if Kagan and Obama are sitting in front of a board game like Risk and human considerations are not part of it. To them power and position on the game board and winning are all that count. Deaths and disabilities, human catastrophe and displacement, the health of other nations are not factors in Kagan's metrics. They would only factor in if they had some impact on power.

It is not the article on its own that is alarming. Kagan isn't alone in his lust for world domination. The fact that the Democratic President of the United States even takes this article seriously is crucial. It suggests that the President of the United States is not very intelligent and worse, he is as affected by whatever psychological condition is affecting Kagan. That condition shows an indifference to human suffering, glib charm, lack of sincerity with an ability to lie seamlessly, grandiose self worth, poor judgment, no consideration of consequences for other people, utilizing human beings as if they are objects and so on. They indicate a serious mental health issue.

Wouldn't it be remarkable if we found those with the most power and influence in this world are not there because they are smart or humane or wise, they are there because they are utterly ruthless. Wouldn't it be remarkable if we discovered that this world, at the very top, is run by psychopaths?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Remembrance Isn’t Enough

On November 11th Canadians commemorate the fallen, the lost lives of the men that have been killed in service to the nation in World War 1 as well as wars since then. We thank them for what they have done in their efforts to preserve freedom and democracy.
Remembrance on its own however isn’t enough. It isn’t enough because the mentality that has pushed millions of men into trenches to mindlessly slaughter each other 100 years ago is still in place. Moreover, the war to end all wars has started pretty much every war since that time; World War 2 included.

In 2014 We need to become more objective and critical when it comes to war. Through history, the individual fought on the side he or she was born on, more or less. The state demands it.

World War 1 was not about either freedom or democracy. It was about power and wealth. In fact, Germany had universal male suffrage at the time. Britain qualified about 40% of males to vote. At that time, the United Kingdom brutally ruled the globe at the point of a gun. This is not to suggest German imperialism was better or worse; both were employed by very wealthy people aiming to maximize profit and this factor is war's genesis; it is the reason why all this carnage occurred and still occurs. The nature of empire is a nature of violence and oppression and to the extent we bolster that tradition and mentality with Remembrance Day celebrations, we should examine and analyze these processes very carefully. If Remembrance Day ceremonies militarize the population and shore up future support for offensive war against other nations, we need to critically examine what we are doing. If it is truly about reflecting on the deaths of so many, then we should do so.
Remembrance Day must be more than a day to support unquestioned support for the state, for the powers that make war happen. Unquestioning the motives of the state is more than dangerous, it is immoral. This should be a day to actually remember and analyze the mistakes of the past to not repeat them. If waging war is a mistake that results in the deaths of thousands or millions of human beings, it is not merely a mistake. It is a crime of the highest order and we, the cannon fodder for future wars, must do the analysis. The people that actually send us to war will not.

Bush’s apparent mistake by waging war in Iraq occurred in a climate of nationalist jingoism and insecurity after 9 11. Mistakes like that may occur when a population is in fear, when a population is desensitized to the plight of foreign individuals, and when popular media notes all the reasons for going to war while burying the myriad of reasons not to. Although Bush’s push to war was not as much a mistake as it was a planned and thought out bid for oil control as well as America’s strategic placement on the world map, it was a mistake in the analysis of the population. Otherwise, popular opposition may have interfered with war planning and possibly stopped an invasion. This venture has only resulted in far more instability and carnage than could have been possible otherwise. As we can see in 2014, that war is far from ending.

One Thread of Legacy

With an upheaval as massive as World War One, it would be impossible to list the threads of legacy that have spun from that carnage. Perhaps the most relevant one that is impacting people today is the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. That legacy runs this way: the Balfour Declaration in 1926 set scaffolding for the Israeli state, the Treaty of Versailles set up a frightened and dangerous mood in Germany. Germany, under Hitler, killed 6 million Jews and many more including communists, socialists, gypsies, gays and so on. Naturally, the Jewish people wanted their own state and security for themselves as a people. Today, the people of Israel do not feel secure; they are not.

War feeds on insecurity and fear and in turn, creates more of the same. World War 1 created acute insecurity among the German people; a very dangerous condition. Germans became suspicious and frightened of everybody and xenophobia ran high. Conditions like this empower the state to its dangerous and violent extremes.
Jewish people had been living in Palestinian lands prior to 1948 and the creation of the state of Israel. They lived with some tension with local Arabs but both populations managed to get along. Western powers callously created a state that is based on religious or ethnic attributes necessarily creating a society of exclusion as opposed to working toward inclusion and peace. The exclusion or lowering of the status of the local people that had been living there all along is itself is an act of violence, of war. As a result, the people of Israel live in a sea of hatred where individuals and groups of individuals would like to eradicate the state of Israel and individuals living as Jewish people in Israel. It is an extremely volatile and ongoing situation and it is directly tied to the war to end all wars; World War 1.
The current bombing of ISIS may not tie as directly to World War 1 but the artificial drawing of boundaries throughout the Middle East by Western powers has set up conditions for conflict and mutual distrust. This, along with a widespread acceptance of dominance by imperial powers is a certain recipe for disaster. The latter point is a crucial in terms of remembrance. It is the end we collectively hold up.

What is it we bring to mind when we remember? The reality is; not much. If we did we would stop repeating the same mindless carnage over and over and over again. Today, in 2014, Western powers, led by the USA are dropping bombs on ISIS after the USA intervened in Iraq and upon their departure, set up certain civil war between the Sunnis and the Shia by stripping power and wealth from one population and handing it over to the other. The British did exactly the same thing to Protestant and Catholic populations in the British Isles.

The West and NATO have attacked and bombed Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya in recent years with an aim to overthrow those dictatorships. A kind and forgiving attitude toward Western intervention would need to admit, at least, that these regime change ventures have created more terrorists and have increased hatred against the West and against Israel. They have boxed many millions of ordinary Muslim citizens into a corner where they have little choice but to fight against violent domination by foreign forces. We are creating not only terrorism but turning whole populations against the West. This reaction will extend to an unknown extent to include antipathy toward Western style democracy, individual freedom, and legal frameworks based in rationality. We are not only perverting modernity, we are turning people against it and against ourselves as people in the existing unwieldy climate of fear and violence.

Cavalier About War

Unlike Europeans and much of the world, North Americans have not seen war directly on American or Canadian soil in living memory. Perhaps this explains the cavalier attitude about war that fills media and political circles. That same attitude is well established within the population. And from North America, war is pushed through the world. Allies are pressured to take part, to join in with what Washington calls, ‘the community of nations’.

Unlike 1914, war today is directed toward civilian populations. The dropping of bombs in settled areas is the ultimate act of cowardice, not unlike terrorist bombings of civilians. It is meant to collectively punish disobedient or resistant populations. The Sunnis in Syria and Iraq are the latest enemy suffering under this ongoing war crime. ISIS are slaughtering innocent people that even hint at defiance. Civilians have paid a heavy price as a result of vague targeting of leaders of Taliban, Al Qeada, ISIS; collateral damage is the euphemism intended to sterilize indiscriminate carnage. The Western Frankenstein known as ISIS advertise their brutality like a badge of honour. They are not unique in this regard.
The commencement of bombing on CSIS is met with the same apathy as when Libya was attacked by NATO. Stephen Harper starts a war and it barely raises an eyebrow. Obviously we are not remembering much. We are at a point where the start of a war is received with a collective shrug of the shoulders or, a cheer reminiscent of a great sports event. Then on November 11th we stand in parks and monuments to remember. The world is getting ugly and we are at a point where we need to ask ourselves: What are we remembering?

Do we remember 158 Canadians that have died in Afghanistan? Those that know them remember them but what about the rest of us? What is it we are supposed to remember?
Perhaps when we remember those that died, we also remember political mistakes or planned conspiracies to start wars. We must remember the death and carnage and the destruction of whole societies. We remember the lies that have been delivered to us through media and political sycophants. We should remember the way war veterans have been treated and the way they continue to be treated. We must remember the millions of lives lost on and off the battlefield and we should remember that armies have lined up against each other for thousands of years with a willingness to kill those born on the other side of the border should some Dear Leader demand it. Maybe we are not above the barbarians we aim to kill. Perhaps if we really remember, we will put an end to it.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Unacceptable Cowardice: The Killing Fields of Gaza

The latest slaughter of the people of Gaza aims to normalize massacres against civilians as an accepted response to a disobedient population. Western politicians and media have given Israel a gentle scolding for a specific massacre of children but quickly return to their script saying 'Israel has a right to defend itself', or, 'blame Hamas'.

This particular war crime (collective punishment) is not new or unique to Israel. For example, on August 5th four civilians were killed in Afghanistan by NATO warplanes. This follows the killing of an American general. Killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere although under-reported, have been continuous under Obama. Collective punishment against civilian populations is obviously illegal and will never be admitted but the frequency with which this happens suggests that this is a tactic that is heavily relied on by Western and Israeli forces.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/world/asia/afghan-civilians-killed-in-airstrike-by-american-led-coalition.html

Typically, abusers will minimize their crime, they will deny it, or they will blame the victim. One way or another, they will rationalize it not only for the audience but for their own mental health. They convince themselves that they were justified. This is true of the man that beats his wife or children and it is true of Israel and its all too loyal voice in the world, Western mainstream media.

These massacres appear to have created a significant crossroad for public consciousness due to the exposure it was given. If we turn away, as is our collective custom, we are marching in step with Israeli brutality as surely as CNN does. This is not a moment in history where we can afford to remain silent. If this passes the acceptability test under the scrutiny it has received, it will give a green light not only to Israel. It will also embolden future despots and tyrants to crush dissent with unbridled military force. We have already wandered way too far down that path.

Jackboots on the Throat of Palestine

In 2005 and 2006 Hamas won elections to the dismay of Israel and the United States. Their contemptuous treatment of democracy when the wrong party is elected has been on full display in Egypt the Ukraine and elsewhere but the electoral success of Hamas has resulted in multiple massacres of Palestinian voters. Israel and the West have no wish or desire to make peace in Palestine. On the contrary. As former US President Jimmy Carter points out:

“This tragedy results from the deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government's deployment in Gaza.

Two factors are necessary to make Palestinian unity possible. First, there must be at least a partial lifting of the 7-year-old sanctions and blockade that isolate the 1.8 million people in Gaza. There must also be an opportunity for the teachers, police, and welfare and health workers on the Hamas payroll to be paid. These necessary requirements for a human standard of living continue to be denied. Instead, Israel blocked Qatar's offer to provide funds to pay civil servants' salaries, and access to and from Gaza has been further tightened by Egypt and Israel.”
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39352.htm

Israel and the United States aim is to fracture Palestinian solidarity. Severing the West bank and Fatah from Gaza and Hamas would further isolate Gaza. It is a crucial war aim for Israel. This violence is in response to increased Palestinian cohesion. On June 2 the Palestinians formed a unity government under Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel responded by saying Israel will approve 1,500 new housing units for Israelis on Palestinian land. "I congratulate the decision to give a proper Zionist response to the establishment of the Palestinian terror cabinet," Minister Ariel said. "The right and duty of the State of Israel to build across the country to lower the housing prices is unquestionable, and I believe these tenders are just the beginning."
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.597084

Media Complicity and Shocking Cowardice

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” -Joseph Goebbels

The series of massacres that Israel has carried out against the innocent people of Gaza is obscured with large, blatant, in your face lies. The spectacle of the Israeli war machine grinding the people of the Gaza ghetto into living hell and death is shocking. Western support of the lies that make it possible is crucial. Western politicians and media are not only giving Israel the message they can carry on with impunity, they are providing a green light to future atrocities not only for Israel; they are generally normalizing the wholesale slaughter of human beings.

The Israeli/Western narrative is not a twist of the truth or an exaggeration. They use blatant lies in full public view. The obvious contempt that Israel, Western politicians, and CNN (MSM) have for the audience follows a decade of American war and atrocities where war crimes have silently passed the court of public opinion. They believe they can take the commission of war crimes in public view up a notch. And they have.

The Western narrative informs us that Palestinian children are caught in the 'crossfire' after children are targeted and murdered in cold blood. That is why they make so much of human shields allegations. It bolsters the notion of 'crossfire'. Civilians are actually targets and Israel's pat response is, 'we do not target civilians' or 'Hamas did it' or, 'we are investigating'.

Cheerleaders for Israel make the claim, repeatedly, that if projectiles, Hamas fighters, or missile firing occur at a location, no matter how many children may be present, it is a legitimate target. The question Western media avoid as much as possible is: Why? Why are those specific Hamas fighters, projectiles, or hot spots sufficiently important to warrant the wholesale murder of 2,000 human beings? In reality, Israel's destruction of projectiles, Hamas fighters, or a hot spots will make no difference whatsoever to resistance fighters military fitness. On the contrary. The more they kill the more they legitimize resistance and the more they kill, the less secure Israel is.

Another scenario would be more consistent with US foreign policy (collateral damage) in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past decade. That is, Israel punishes the local population for its support of Hamas through mass murder and destruction of public infrastructure and after the air strikes kill innocent men, women, and children they brazenly claim the enemy was utilizing human shields. This particular lie has no rational merit. Those that use it must have the intellectual wherewithal to imagine the absurdity of Hamas fighters standing before the sophisticated American weaponry of the IDF in an open field to shoot glorified firecrackers at Israel.

The large lies, the little lies, the demonization of Hamas and Palestinians in general all serve to kick up sufficient dust and smoke so that at the end of the day, observers tire of trying to figure out who is truthful and who is lying. CNN will pack away their cameras, the world will focus on Iraq or the Ukraine and again, Israel will get away with murder. The people of Gaza will hunker down in their open air prison and we will forget about them. And that is exactly what Israel, the USA, and CNN are counting on.