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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-29-08 11:02 PM
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The Meaning of U.S. Imperialism, Genocide and Militarism
Because Ive written many articles that are highly critical of my country, some of my fellow Americans no doubt would call me ungrateful, unpatriotic or even treasonous if they read them. Yet I dont recall that every happening on DU, or if it did, the person who insulted me probably didnt last here very long.

The fact of the matter is that I dont feel patriotism in the traditional sense the sense in which I believe that many or most Americans feel it. What I mean by that is that I dont believe Americans are better or more deserving than other people, nor do I feel that we have the right to rule the world or dictate, as The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) demands, that other nations conduct themselves in accordance with our interests. I dont believe in Manifest Destiny.

I am not proud to be an American, nor am I proud to have been born Jewish, white, male, heterosexual, or middle class. I had no control whatsoever over any of those things so how could I be either proud or ashamed of them? Im proud of some of the things that I do, but certainly not of any of the conditions under which I was born.

I believe that pride in those kind of things is at the root of some of the worlds greatest problems especially war and genocide. I feel very strongly about that. I was fortunate to have had two liberal parents who loved me, provided me very good opportunities in life, and encouraged me to think independently. But I was terribly upset with my father when he one day casually told me that he hoped I would some day marry a Jewish woman. I couldnt understand how someone who was active in the Civil Rights movement could exhibit such an attitude, which seemed racist to me. In retrospect, I recognize that it probably had something to do with the fact that my dad had experienced anti-Semitism in ways that I never had. But at the time it was terribly troubling to me.

I believe that our country and our world are now on an unsustainable course. Jared Diamond, a professor of geography, evolutionary biologist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, writes the following in his book, The Third Chimpanzee The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal:

A nuclear holocaust is certain to prove disastrous, but it isnt happening now An environmental holocaust is equally certain to prove disastrous, but it is already well underway accelerating, and will climax within about a century if unchecked. The only uncertainties are whether the resulting disaster would strike our children or our grandchildren, and whether we choose to adopt now the many obvious countermeasures.

I dont intend in this post to discuss those specific countermeasures, which Ive done in some detail in another post, based largely on another book written by Diamond. But what is patently obvious to me is that the right wing brand of patriotism, which asserts that my country is always right, will be a terrible barrier to any efforts to save our country, our planet and our civilization. If what I write in this post causes anyone to reassess that attitude it will have been worth the effort.

Thoughts on our founding

I revere the document that founded our nation our Declaration of Independence as one of the greatest documents ever written. In fact, I think its almost fair to say that all of my moral values relate directly to that document. If all people really believed that all other people deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we would live in a much better world than we do. Therefore, I believe that our Founding Fathers deserve great credit for writing that document.

Some have argued that our Declaration was hypocritical, since the ideals expressed in it were not fully incorporated into the initial version of our Constitution, which infamously allowed the continuation of slavery. But that argument at least partially misses the larger point. There is no question that the United States of America has failed to live up to the ideals expressed in its Declaration of Independence. So have all nations failed to live up to their ideals. And so have almost all individuals failed to live up to their ideals.

But our Declaration of Independence at least set a goal for us, which many have striven to attain. Consider for example how voting rights have progressed during our history: From 1812 to 1856, property qualifications for voting were abandoned; passage of the 15th Amendment to our Constitution in 1870 prohibited the restriction of a persons right to vote on the basis of race; passage of our 19th Amendment in 1920 prohibited the restriction of the right to vote on the basis of sex; passage of the 23rd Amendment in 1961 gave residents of the District of Columbia the right to vote for President; our 24th amendment in 1964 prohibited the use of poll taxes to restrict a persons right to vote; and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 went a long way towards facilitating enforcement of our 15th Amendment.


It is of great importance that Americans be reasonably familiar with the worst of what their country has done, as well as the best. I say that NOT because I hate my country, as right wing patriots would accuse me of. I say it because transgressions that are unacknowledged are transgressions that will be repeated. And they have been repeated. Many times.

The continental expansion of our nation involved more than a century of wars against the then current inhabitants of our continent, leading to their near extermination and a war of aggression against Mexico (1846-8). To bolster our economy, hundreds of thousands of former Africans were born or sold into slavery, stripped of all rights whatsoever, and often had to endure a lifetime of brutality at the hands of their white masters. Those facts are fairly well known. But too many Americans think of all that simply as past history.

The beginnings of U.S. overseas imperialism

In 1893, in subservience to wealthy white American landowners, we used our military to threaten the sovereign nation of Hawaii. The Hawaiian Queen, Liliuokalani, recognizing the futility of challenging American military power, wrote and signed the following:

Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the loss of life, I do under this protest, and impelled by said force, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.

In 1898 we declared war on Spain to liberate Cuban insurgents in their fight for independence from Spain. The Treaty of Paris between the United States and Spain, signed on December 10th, 1998, ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the U.S.

On May 22, 1903, the United States and Cuba finalized the Platt Amendment, the treaty that formalized our hegemony over Cuba until 1934. In the interim we supported a series of repressive Cuban dictators whom we felt would represent our interests in Cuba.

On July 25, 1998, two weeks after a sovereign Puerto Rican government began operating, the U.S. marines landed in Puerto Rico and raised the American flag. Puerto Rico remained under tight U.S. influence for more than half a century. U.S. sponsored corporations took over most of the countrys best lands, at the expense of the native population, and Puerto Rico remained an impoverished country with a life expectancy in the 40s. At about mid-century, perhaps embarrassed by its imperialistic relationship to Puerto Rico, the U.S. began to relax its control, and life in Puerto Rico subsequently began to improve.

The Filipinos wanted American rule over their country no more than they had wanted Spanish rule. So twelve days after proclaiming their new Republic, they declared war against the United States. A vicious guerilla war ensued, lasting three and a half years, from February 1899 until the middle of 1902. It was characterized by widespread torture, rape, pillage, and the frequent refusal of the American military to make a distinction between civilians and the Filipino military. By the time that the U.S. had pacified the Philippines, the dead included 4,374 American soldiers, 16 thousand Filipino guerillas, and 20 thousand Filipino civilians.

In 1909, on behalf of wealthy U.S. businessmen, the U.S. Marines overthrew the government of Nicaragua, setting the stage for decades of intermittent turmoil between the U.S. and Nicaragua, involving U.S. Marine squelching of rebellions in 1912 and 1926, before the Marines were withdrawn in 1933.

In 1912, on behalf of banana tycoon Sam Zemurray, the U.S. replaced the government of Honduras with its own puppet, Manuel Bonilla. Following that, for several decades, U.S. protected banana companies imposed governments on Honduras that crushed every attempt at national development.

U.S. Imperialism, genocide and militarism during the Cold War

During the Cold War (1945-91) The United States repeatedly used its CIA or military against countries that posed no threat to us whatsoever, based solely on the fact that they were Communist, socialist or simply a leftist regime and therefore (so the reasoning went) susceptible to Communist takeover.

This practice actually began long before the onset of the Cold War. We first intervened against the Communists in Russia as early as 1918, by sending troops to Russia to unsuccessfully fight in the Russian Civil War to oust the Communists from power. Some other examples include the following:

Iran 1953
In 1953 our CIA intervened in Iran to overthrow a popular prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, who had done much to improve the lot of the Iranian people. Here is how Stephen Kinzer describes Mossadegh in his book, All the Shahs Men An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror:

His achievements were profound and even earth-shattering. He set his people off on what would be a long and difficult voyage toward democracy and self-sufficiency He dealt a devastating blow to the imperial system and hastened its final collapse. He inspired people around the world who believe that nations can and must struggle for the right to govern themselves in freedom.

In Mossadeghs place we installed the dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Shah. The stated reason for our overthrow of Mossadegh was that we were concerned that he would open his country to Communist influence (his nationalization of the Iranian oil industry was also undoubtedly part of the reason). This is how Kinzer sums up the effect of that intervention:

In Iran, almost everyone has for decades known that the United States was responsible for putting an end to democratic rule in 1953 and installing what became the long dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Shah. His dictatorship produced the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which brought to power a passionately anti-American theocracy that embraced terrorism as a tool of statecraft. Its radicalism inspired anti-Western fanatics in many countries

The violent anti-Americanism that emerged from Iran after 1979 shocked most people in the United States. Americans had no idea of what might have set off such bitter hatred in a country where they had always imagined themselves more or less well liked. That was because almost no one in the United States knew what the CIA did there in 1953.

Indonesia 1965
A power struggle in Indonesia in 1965 that resulted in the overthrow of Achmad Sukarno and the installment of a military dictatorship resulted in the massacre of up to a million people, mostly civilians, including a substantial portion of women and children which the New York Times called one of the most savage mass slayings of modern political history. With respect to this episode it was later reported by Kathy Kadane that:

The U.S. government played a significant role in one of the worst massacres of the century by supplying the names of thousands of Communist Party leaders to the Indonesian army, which hunted down the leftists and killed them Nobody cared about the butchery and mass arrests because the victims were Communists, one Washington official told me.

Vietnam 1954-73
The Geneva Conference Agreements, which officially ended the war between France and Vietnam in 1954, provided for general elections which were to bring about the unification of Vietnam. However, the United States, fearing a Communist victory in those elections, intervened to prevent the elections from taking place and so began our long involvement culminating in an eventual Communist victory, but not until two million Vietnamese and 58 thousand Americans were dead.

South and Central America
As described by William Blum in his article, A Concise History of US Global Interventions, 1945 to the Present, the United States intervened in eleven different South and Central American countries during the Cold War, including Guatemala, Costa Rica, British Guyana, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. The main purpose of these interventions was to facilitate changes to regimes that were friendlier to the United States (and in almost all cases less friendly to the indigenous populations of those countries.) For this purpose, we developed the School of the Americas, which was used to train native personnel in the techniques and ideology of insurgency and counter-insurgency.

An article on reasons to shut down the School of the Americas (SOA) provides a good description of what was involved, and can be summarized as follows:

It describes numerous atrocities committed by graduates of SOA, which are consistent with the SOA curriculum. While SOA torture manuals have been withdrawn, their content has not been repudiated by SOA, and some of the worst abusers continue to be honored as guest instructors for SOA courses.

School of the Americas training is oriented to support the military and political status quo in each country, which places the U.S. in opposition to any who seek free speech to discuss problems, alternative means to solve problems, or democratic means to change governments. More specifically, the enemy is identified as the poor, those who assist the poor, such as church workers, educators, and unions, and certain ideologies such as socialism or liberation theology. All of this just to make sure that Communists or leftists dont get a foothold in any of these countries.

Some other acts of imperialism and/or genocide during the Cold War
A book by David Model, State of Darkness, describes in detail U.S. involvement in several genocides. Cold War related genocides included in that book, in addition to those in Vietnam and Indonesia (noted above), are those against Guatemala (1954), Cambodia (1970-75), Laos (1969-74), and East Timor (1975). Other egregious Cold War related U.S. interventions include (but are not limited to): our invasion of Cuba in 1961; U.S. Marine invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 to put down a rebellion against their repressive right wing government; and U.S. military support of Haitian tyrant and mass murderer, Francois Duvalier.

What the acts described here have in common is our protection of right wing repressive governments or overthrow of legitimate governments and their replacement by right wing governments that were far worse for the people they represented than the governments that they replaced. We did these things with the excuse that we were trying to help those countries throw off the yolk of Communism.

Interludes some U.S. Presidents who stood up against the tide of U.S. imperialism, genocide and militarism

Thus it is that much of U.S. history has been characterized by imperialism, genocide and militarism. Nevertheless, some U.S. Presidents, to greater or lesser degrees, have striven to stand up against whatever pressures have led to these crimes against humanity. It is worth studying those examples in order to obtain an understanding of how we can better live up to the ideals that many of us see as worthwhile and necessary goals. Here are what I see as some of the best recent examples of U.S. Presidents standing up against the tide of imperialism, genocide and militarism that has shaped so much of our history:

Franklin D. Roosevelt
I noted above, in the section on The beginnings of U.S. overseas imperialism, that our hegemony over Cuba and Nicaragua was temporarily ended in the early 1930s. That was in accordance with FDRs Good Neighbor Policy towards Latin America.

Following the Nazi Holocaust and World War II the recognition of the need for enforcement of human rights in the world became more acute and widespread. The United Nations was conceived by President Roosevelt and led to fruition by his successor, President Truman, in an effort to make this a reality. This excerpt from the preamble of the United Nations Charter indicates its focus on human rights:

We the Peoples of the United Nations determined:

To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war

To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

To establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom

Since its inception, the United Nations has furthered the cause of human rights by adopting numerous conventions, such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Criminal Court, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, and the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Harry Truman
Some would reasonably object to my use of Harry Truman as an example of standing up against imperialism, militarism and genocide. Truman is the only person in world history to have ordered the use of the atomic bomb against a civilian population, and there are many who believe that that action constitutes genocide (and I agree). Truman also oversaw the entry of our country into the Cold War, and in so doing, his use of previously unprecedented Presidential powers set what many consider to be a very bad precedent (and I agree with that too).

Nevertheless, Truman exhibited a striking ability to learn from his mistakes. Here is an assessment of Truman by James Carroll (who was highly critical of Trumans use of the atomic bomb) in House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power:

The point is that, just as Truman changed the course of history by deciding to use the bomb in 1945, he changed the course of history again by deciding not to use it in 1950 Trumans decision here put in place three pillars on which the rest of U.S. policy in the Cold War stood. Two of those pillars still thankfully undergird the fragile world. First, in a century defined by total war, Truman established the precedent of limited war. Some things are not worth the cost of victory. Second, Truman, having first loosed the atomic bomb, now established a taboo against its use ever again. American leaders, including Truman himself later in the war, might threaten nuclear use, but they would again and again stop short of ordering it. If Truman had allowed his commanders any use of atomic weapons whatsoever, even if as an act of successful prevention . there is no doubt that subsequent presidents and other leaders of nuclear powers would have followed suit

The third pillar of U.S. policy put in place here stood until the administration of George W. Bush. In vetoing an expansion of the Korean conflict into a preemption of the Soviet Union, Truman rejected the then much touted idea of preventive war the idea that, as one of his advisers put it, America should become an aggressor for peace

John F. Kennedy
Like Truman (and also like his brother Bobby), Kennedy started off his political career and his Presidency fairly far to the right on questions of U.S. militarism as were most Americans during the Cold War. He escalated our involvement in Vietnam (which he inherited from Eisenhower), and he began his presidency by invading Cuba. But also like Truman, Kennedy exhibited an extraordinary ability to learn from his mistakes.

A few months before he was assassinated, he gave a great and radical speech on behalf of peace that probably seemed terribly threatening to the military industrial complex. Here are some excerpts:

Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament -- and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must re-examine our own attitude -- as individuals and as a Nation -- for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward -- by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the Cold War and toward freedom and peace here at home.

First let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many of us think it is unreal. But that is dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable -- that mankind is doomed -- that we are gripped by forces we cannot control

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace -- based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions -- on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned

Six weeks later, Kennedy announced to the American people the first nuclear test ban treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union. He then undertook secret negotiations with Fidel Castro in an attempt to come to an accommodation with him. And, he began talking with his close associates about pulling out of Vietnam.

Four months later, Kennedy was assassinated and that was NOT the work of a lone gunman.

Jimmy Carter
On the campaign trail in 1976, Carter was an outspoken critic of U.S. imperialism:

Were ashamed of what our government is as we deal with other nations around the world What we seek is a foreign policy that reflects the decency and generosity and common sense of our own people.

Morris Berman, in his book Dark Ages America The Final Phases of Empire, discusses Carters commitment to human rights as President:

Carter never stopped talking about the subject He cut out aid to Argentina, Ethiopia, Uruguay, Chile, Nicaragua, Rhodesia, and Uganda because of human rights abuses.

Berman discusses the hopes engendered by Carters 1976 election to the Presidency and how the American people turned out not to be ready for that kind of change:

For a brief moment in American postwar history, the position of sanity found an echo We would work for a more humane world order in our international relations, not seek merely to defeat an adversary; military solution would not come first; efforts would be made to reduce the sale of arms to developing countries

But the Carter morality was, within two years, heavily out of step with the return to the usual public demand for a more muscular and military foreign policy Out-of-office cold warriors closed ranks, forming organizations such as the Committee on the Present Danger Their goal to revive the Cold War was ultimately successful; Ronald Reagan and CIA-assisted torture in Central America were the inevitable results. And in the course of all this, a picture was formed of Jimmy Carter as weak, bungling, inept That Carter would be perceived as weak, and presidents such as Reagan and Bush Jr. as strong, says a lot about who we are as a people

The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney era

Under the Presidency of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney our nation has hit new lows. With their utter disregard and even contempt for our Constitution, they have reversed decades of progressive progress in many areas.

Repeatedly using our CIA to overthrow the legitimate governments of sovereign nations was bad enough. Bush/Cheney have taken U.S. militarism to a totally new level by claiming the right to invade and occupy any country that might pose a future threat to us.

Even if we win the Iraq War, that will never erase the fact that weve killed approximately a million Iraqis, made refugees out of over four million, and ruined their infrastructure. Nor will it change the fact that most Iraqis hate us (polls consistently show that over 60% of ordinary Iraqis approve of violence against U.S. troops) and that our war has contributed to the expansion of al Qaeda by fueling Muslim hatred against us the imperial occupiers of a Muslim country that never posed any danger to us. So if we win the war, what will we have won, other than the right for U.S. corporations to operate in Iraq, access to Iraqi oil, and the right to say that we won?

Just as Bush/Cheney have exhibited unparalleled contempt for our Constitution, so have they demonstrated the same contempt for international law, thus obliterating the effects of decades of U.S. leadership in developing the framework for international law. Of all the international laws objected to by the Bush administration, the International Criminal Court (ICC) tops the list. Though the Bush administration provides many excuses for its hostility to the ICC, the underlying issue appears to be that it cannot tolerate the possibility that an American could ever be tried before the Court. For example, Bush claims that the Courts jurisdiction cannot extend to Americans because that will undermine the independence and flexibility that America needs to defend our national interests around the world. Phillip Sands, in his book Lawless World The Whistle-Blowing Account of How Bush and Blair Are Taking the Law into Their Own Hands, poses the following pertinent rhetorical question to that excuse:

The flexibility to do what? The flexibility to commit war crimes? The flexibility to provide assistance to others in perpetrating crimes against humanity? The flexibility to turn a blind eye when your allies commit genocide?

The end result of Bush/Cheney foreign policy is that the United States has become the greatest purveyor of terror in the world. As noted by Michael Schwartz:

The architects of American policy in the Middle East tend to keep escalating the level of brutality in search of a way to convince the Iraqis (and now the Iranians) that the only path that avoids indiscriminate slaughter is submission to a Pax Americana. Put another way, American policy in the Middle East has devolved into unadorned state terrorism.


Clearly, Barack Obama is tremendously less militaristic and imperialistic than is John McCain. He is far more likely than McCain to give us a foreign policy along the lines of most of his Democratic predecessors since FDR. But will that be good enough? Obama is under the same pressure to appear highly militaristic as his Democratic (and Republican) predecessors have been. That pressure has been reflected, among other ways, in his frequent rhetoric regarding our need to beef up our military presence in Afghanistan. But what good would that do?

To answer that question we need to consider the real lessons of Vietnam and Iraq. If we invade and occupy a country in order to save it, we ought to have at least some idea of what that country wants from us. We should recognize that if we kill and torture a fifth of its inhabitants and leave its land and infrastructure in ruins, there is likely to be intensive resistance to our occupation. It is the height of arrogance or ignorance or both to refer to those who resist such an occupation as terrorists. What we encountered in both countries was immense hostility to an insensitive and brutal occupying power. This is what the editors of The Nation have to say about escalating our war in Afghanistan:

The United States and its NATO allies are losing the war in Afghanistan not because we have had too few military forces but because our military presence, along with the corruption of the Hamid Karzai government, has gradually turned the Afghan population against us, swelling the ranks of Taliban recruits. American airstrikes have repeatedly killed innocent civilians. Sending thousands of additional troops will not secure a democratic and stable Afghanistan, because the country is not only deeply divided but also fiercely resistant to outside forces. Indeed, more troops may only engender more anti-American resistance and cause groups in neighboring Pakistan to step up their support for the Taliban in order to stop what they see as a US effort to advance US and Indian interests in the region

Second, securing Afghanistan is not necessary to US security and may actually undermine our goal of defeating Al Qaeda. American safety thus depends not on eliminating faraway safe havens for Al Qaeda but on common-sense counterterrorist and national security measures extensive intelligence cooperation, expert police work, effective border control and the occasional surgical use of special forces.

George McGovern succinctly summed up the lesson that we should have learned from Vietnam (and Iraq) when he said We seem bent on saving the Vietnamese from Ho Chi Minh even if we have to kill them and demolish their country to do it.

Conclusion the meaning of U.S. imperialism, genocide and militarism

The long history of imperialism, genocide and militarism in the United States has caused untold tragedy and suffering to peoples throughout the world. That means, to be blunt about it, that too many Americans have not taken seriously their own Declaration of Independence as it applies to other peoples. There are too many Americans who, while believing that Americans or people of their own race are created equal and have an unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, fail to see how that applies to other peoples.

I dont say these things because I hate my country. I recognize that many or most other nations have been guilty of the same crimes that our own country has been. But I strongly believe that a large part of our problem has been an arrogance that too many Americans interpret as patriotism. We have for so long been told how good and great our country is that we refuse to open our eyes to any evidence to the contrary. We feel that to do so is unpatriotic.

When the National Council for History Standards released a document titled National Standards for United States History, which among other things recommended more critical thinking and honest discussion of the misdeeds of our nation, they were met with outrage. Lynn Cheney, for example, aggressively criticized it as containing multicultural excess, a grim and gloomy portrayal of American history, a politicized history, and a disparaging of the West. In 1995 the U.S. Senate rejected the document by a vote of 99-1.

Well, yes, it is grim and gloomy to contemplate ones own faults or the faults of ones own country. But if we dont to do that we will never come to respect other nations and other peoples, as demanded by our own founding document. And as long as we fail to do that we will not have the capacity to collaborate with the other nations of the world in the effort to give us a sustainable planet and a sustainable civilization.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-29-08 11:14 PM
Response to Original message
1. Are you published? If not, you should be. WOW! nt
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TxBlue Donating Member (472 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 02:37 AM
Response to Reply #1
7. Thanks for mentioning Obama's stance on Afghani
war. Has any war in Afghanistan ever produced a victory?
They are some tough mountain folks.

I agree with Obama but don't like the things he says about Afghanistan. Besides if this economic meltdown is so critical, how do we support any foreign wars?
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #7
17. Afghanistan
Yes, I've often wondered about that. I don't believe that any invasion of Afghanistan has ever come out successfully. And the idea that we can eliminate al Qaeda by taking over Afghanistan has always seemed somewhat incredible to me. But since I had never read serious criticism of our war in Afghanistan before, the ideas I had on it were only half baked.

So the article that I refer to in The Nation was a real eye opener for me. It is an excellent article. And more than any other magazine I really admire their editors.

And your point about not being able to afford it is very well taken.

But unfortunately, I think that the pressure on Obama to act "tough" on military issues is tremendous. I'm very sorry to say it, but he probably could not be elected otherwise. The culture in our country is in dire need of substantial change.
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JohnyCanuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-01-08 01:58 PM
Response to Reply #17
30. "British envoy says mission in Afghanistan is doomed"

British envoy says mission in Afghanistan is doomed, according to leaked memo

The official version of the US-led campaign in Afghanistan received a blow today with a leaked report that the British Ambassador in Kabul believes that US strategy is wrong and the war is as good as lost.

The potentially explosive views were published by Le Canard Enchan, a respected French weekly, which said that they were direct quotations from a diplomatic cable written by Franois Fitou, the French Deputy Ambassador in Kabul.

Mr Fitou reported to President Sarkozy's office and his own Foreign Ministry that Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British Ambassador, believed that "American strategy is destined to fail" in Afghanistan, according to the newspaper.

It published a reproduction of what it said was the coded cable, in which the French diplomat summarised the ambassador's main points from a September 2 meeting.


Sir Sherard, 53, was also quoted as saying that while Britain had no alternative to supporting the United States, the Americans should be told to change strategy.

Reinforcing the military presence against the Taleban insurrection would be counter-productive, he said, according to Le Canard. "It would identify us even more clearly as an occupying force and it would multiply the number of targets (for the insurgents)," he was quoted as saying.

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 07:52 AM
Response to Reply #1
12. Thank you very much
I publish my scientific research in medical, epidemiology and public health journals -- and I've published a couple of books about epidemiology. But I've never had any of my political articles published, unless you count the occasional DU post that gets picked up and posted at some other on-line site.

I really would love to devote more of my time to this kind of writing, but changing careers at this time of my life would be very difficult.

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JohnyCanuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 12:55 AM
Response to Original message
2. Something else that might be worth mentioning....
Edited on Tue Sep-30-08 12:56 AM by JohnyCanuck
The US and its NATO allies have used false flag terror to demonize targeted enemies.

For example, during the cold war under an overall game plan referred to as "The Strategy of Tension," the CIA in cooperation with NATO and the UK's MI6 intelligence agency set up underground groups or "stay behind" armies in various west European countries and in Turkey to act as guerrilla fighters to stage an underground, resistance campaign in case the USSR and the Soviet Block invaded and attempted to take over western Europe.

In some cases these underground armies were manned with former Nazis or far right extremists or they worked closely with other far right extremist groups to stage murderous terror attacks on innocent civilians which were then blamed in the press and by governments on radical leftists and subversive communist elements. The idea was to discredit the left and European communists who, in some of these countries, were perceived as having a real chance of winning elections.

In Italy the stay behind organization was known by the intelligence services as Gladio (Latin for sword) and its members were involved in carrying out a terror campaign against civilians, e.g. the 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station which killed 85 people.

Gladio historian: Europe still does not know the full story behind Gladio


How did Gladio operate and what instruments did it use?

Gladio was operating in total secrecy, in the dark. Most people had no idea that these networks existed. It was a network of secret armies -- called stay-behind -- which were set up by the US secret service, the CIA, and the British secret service, MI6, and coordinated by NATO. Gladio was the code name for the Italian stay-behind. It was operating as a branch of the Italian military secret service SISMI. The secret armies were designed to fight behind enemy lines in case of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe or to manipulate the political framework of a country in the absence of a Soviet invasion. The secret stay-behind armies possessed secret arms caches with guns, munitions and explosives. The members of the secret armies -- drawn from the military and the secret services -- were trained in secret warfare. In some countries, including Germany, right-wing extremists and former Nazis were members of the secret armies. In other countries, including Italy, the secret armies linked up with terrorists who carried out bombings against civilians in order to create an atmosphere of fear and to discredit political opponents, who were wrongly blamed for the terror.

What was the turning point in the struggle with Gladio? What special event or person helped most to cleanse Europe of Gladio?

The critical moment came in the year 1990, when Italian judge Felice Casson researched the archives of the Italian military secret service and found documents that proved the existence of secret armies across Western Europe and their links to the CIA, MI6 and NATO. Casson then informed the Italian Senate, which investigated the secret armies and found links to terrorism. Then Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti was forced to confirm the existence of the secret army in Italy. When he was attacked and people screamed that all this was illegal and criminal, he defended himself and said that these secret armies existed in all the countries of Western Europe. Thereafter, politicians in Greece, Turkey, France, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxemburg and other countries searched and found their secret armies. Most were unwilling to look very closely at the conspiracy, despite the fact that the EU Parliament called all member states to investigate the secret Gladio armies and their links to terror in Europe. But only Italy, Belgium and Switzerland carried out detailed parliamentary investigations and presented public reports. In July 2008 members of parliament in Luxemburg presented a short report on their secret stay-behind. So, you see, it takes a lot of time to clarify Gladios history. We still dont know the full story.

What kind of roles did media, politicians and security organizations play during the process of eliminating Gladio?

The investigation and dissolution of the Gladio secret armies is a very complicated process because it is possible to say The secret Gladio army has been closed down and then start a new one with the same people and the same strategy the next day under a new name. The problem really is that the media, the politicians, the military and the secret service have all been very reluctant and hesitant to look at the Gladio armies. As a consequence, we dont have the names of all the Gladio commanders, we dont have the names and dates of all the operations. We dont have the data of their financial strength. Information is still fragmentary, despite the fact that it is illegal to have a secret army in a democratic state. Its against the constitution. So, all in all, politicians and the media have failed to clarify the Gladio story.

Sword Play

By Chris Floyd
Published: February 18, 2005

'You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple: to force ... the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security."

This was the essence of Operation Gladio, a decades-long covert campaign of terrorism and deceit directed by the intelligence services of the West -- against their own populations. Hundreds of innocent people were killed or maimed in terrorist attacks -- on train stations, supermarkets, cafes and offices -- which were then blamed on "leftist subversives" or other political opponents. The purpose, as stated above in sworn testimony by Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra, was to demonize designated enemies and frighten the public into supporting ever-increasing powers for government leaders -- and their elitist cronies.


Originally set up as a network of clandestine cells to be activated behind the lines in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, Gladio quickly expanded into a tool for political repression and manipulation, directed by NATO and Washington. Using right-wing militias, underworld figures, government provocateurs and secret military units, Gladio not only carried out widespread terrorism, assassinations and electoral subversion in democratic states such as Italy, France and West Germany, but also bolstered fascist tyrannies in Spain and Portugal, abetted the military coup in Greece and aided Turkey's repression of the Kurds.


Indeed, it would not do for the families of the 85 people ripped apart by the Aug. 2, 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station to know that their loved ones had been murdered by "men inside Italian state institutions and ... men linked to the structures of United States intelligence," as the Italian Senate concluded after its investigation in 2000.

The Bologna atrocity is an example of what Gladio's masters called "the strategy of tension" -- fomenting fear to keep populations in thrall to "strong leaders" who will protect the nation from the ever-present terrorist threat......
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 12:31 PM
Response to Reply #2
19. Yes indeed
I had never heard of those operatons. Thank you for the information.

There is no telling how big a role false flag operations have played in our history. There was Operation Northwoods during the JFK administration, but that was nixed by Secretary of Defense McNamara -- thank God.

I do believe that the 9-11 attacks were at least partially a false flag operation -- at least to the extent that the Bush administration purposely allowed them to occur. If so, they may have been the most important false flag operation in the history of our country, and maybe the world.

These kind of things have no legitimate role in a democracy, and I hope to see those involved in them be tried and convicted and sent to prison. And I hope it all receives widespread coverage.

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JohnyCanuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-01-08 07:44 AM
Response to Reply #19
29. You're welcome Time for Change. (Thanks for the informative OP)
Of course I am not surprised that you had never heard of Operation Gladio or The Strategy of Tension even though they have been pretty thoroughly documented by the Italian Senate investigation and in the book">Nato's Secret Army: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe by Swiss Historian Daniele Ganser. I would be shocked if more than 2% of the US population had heard about the US involvement in false flag terror attacks in Cold War western Europe. Since the US corporate media functions as the unofficial but effective propaganda arm of the US government, it's not surprising that important events which bring the US government and their foreign policy into disrepute are quietly allowed to slip off history's pages into oblivion.

Of course, not knowing the full extent of the US military and CIA's perfidy and involvement in previous false flag events, the US citizens are at a disadvantage when it comes to evaluating events like 9/11 and trying to decide who could be culpable for these attacks. Naturally, the default position is to assume that "Our government would NEVER do something that underhanded and evil. We after all, are the good guys. We, in contrast to the evil-doers, stand for democracy and freedom and the protection of innocents. So it is beyond rational thought that agents within our own government would intentionally allow, or purposely stage, an attack on innocent civilians just to gin up support to launch a war."

And that of course is exactly how the US government and their servants in the corporate media want it.

"We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth."
Columnist Sydney Schanberg as quoted in the FAIR article on the Gulf of Tonkin incident which I linked to in another post downstream.

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bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 01:25 AM
Response to Original message
3. That right there
is at least two semesters of social and political studies, if well absorbed by eager listeners.

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 01:48 PM
Response to Reply #3
20. Thank you bleever
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Shanti Mama Donating Member (625 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 01:32 AM
Response to Original message
And Shanti (peace).
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Raksha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 02:27 AM
Response to Original message
5. K & R
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inna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 02:33 AM
Response to Original message
6. K&R! n/t
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santamargarita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 05:03 AM
Response to Original message
8. A simple compliment doesn't do this article justice...
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 02:53 PM
Response to Reply #8
21. Thank you
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pnutbutr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 05:32 AM
Response to Original message
9. Nice piece
I don't agree 100% with everything you said but if I did I wouldn't be thinking for myself. Most of it relates to what I will say below.

I have to encourage anyone who is genuinely interested in the events mentioned to pick up a book and read. There is much more to them than the briefs given here. History is fascinating in that there is always another side and another view to read about. You have the winner, the loser, the people directly involved through government/military, the civilians involved and the people who just watched it happen from afar. Individually, you get a piece of the picture but combined you get to understand.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 04:01 PM
Response to Reply #9
22. Good points
History is fascinating to me. I try to read a variety of viewpoints, and most of the issues I discuss in this post I have read about from multiple sources. I even try occasionally to read right of center articles or books, but so many of them are so dishonestly written in my opinion that I often find them to be a waste of time. It doesn't hurt though to know what the opposition party is thinking -- which is why I subscribe to a (free) newsletter from Ann Coulter.
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 05:37 AM
Response to Original message
10. Great post
The Brits were exactly the same.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 06:07 AM
Response to Original message
11. Another fine work, thanks for posting.
:kick: & R

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JohnyCanuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 09:00 AM
Response to Original message
13. For another good read on the CIA/MI6 plot to overthrow Iran's PM, Mossadegh,
try this article (It also explains in detail the plot's British origins and their particpation in the scheme):

A 'great venture':
overthrowing the government of Iran

by Mark Curtis From Lobster 30

This is a slightly abridged version of part of chapter four of Mark Curtis's book The Ambiguities of Power: British Foreign Policy since 1945 (Zed Press, 1995).


The coup decision is taken

The go-ahead for the coup was finally given by the US in late June - Britain by then already having presented a 'complete plan' to the CIA (54) - and Churchill's authorisation soon followed, the date being set for mid-August. (55) That month, the head of the CIA operation met with the Shah, the CIA director visited some members of the Shah's family in Switzerland, whilst a US army general arrived in Tehran to meet 'old friends', among them the Shah and General Zahidi. (56)

When the coup scenario finally began, huge demonstrations proceeded in the streets of Tehran, funded by CIA and MI6 money, $1 million dollars of which was in a safe in the US embassy (57) and 1.5 million which had been delivered by Britain to its agents in Iran, according to the MI6 officer responsible for delivering it. (58)

According to then CIA officer Richard Cottam, 'that mob that came into north Tehran and was decisive in the overthrow was a mercenary mob. It had no ideology. That mob was paid for by American dollars.' (59) One key aspect of the plot was to portray the demonstrating mobs as supporters of the Communist Party - Tudeh - in order to provide a suitable pretext for the coup and the assumption of control by the Shah. Cottam observes that agents working on behalf of the British 'saw the opportunity and sent the people we had under our control into the streets to act as if they were Tudeh. They were more than just provocateurs, they were shock troops, who acted as if they were Tudeh people throwing rocks at mosques and priests'. (60) 'The purpose', Brian Lapping explains, 'was to frighten the majority of Iranians into believing that a victory for Mussadeq would be a victory for the Tudeh, the Soviet Union and irreligion'. (61)

The head of the CIA operation also sent envoys to the commanders of some provincial armies, encouraging them to move on to Tehran. (62) In the fighting in the capital, 300 people were killed before Musaddiq's supporters were defeated by the Shah's forces. A US general later testified that 'the guns they had in their hands, the trucks they rode in, the armoured cars that they drove through the streets, and the radio communications that permitted their control, were all furnished through the military defence assistance program'. (63)

'All in all', US Iran analyst Barry Rubin comments, 'only five Americans with a half-dozen Iranian contacts had organised the entire uprising'. (64) The British input, however, had clearly been significant. One Iranian agent of the British - Shahpour Reporter, who subsequently served as adviser to the Shah - was later rewarded with a knighthood, before becoming a chief middleman for British arms sales to Iran, in particular for the manufacturers of Chieftain tanks and Rapier missiles. (65) Two years after the coup, the head of the MI6 end of the operation became Director of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, one of Britain's leading 'independent' academic research institutes. (66)

Not to belabor the point, but I think it is worthwhile to point out that this is another example of the use of false flag terror to cause bad PR for the "enemy" and to swing popular sympathy and support to the side of those who actually perpetrate the attacks under false pretenses. In this case the CIA/MI6 organizers paid mercenary mobs to pretend to be communist party supporters of Mossadegh and to attack Iranian mosques and religious leaders. The intent was to lead religious Iranians to fear that Mossadegh was in league with the communists and there was a real danger that he intended to turn Iran into an overtly communist state, which would also imply, following communist doctrine, the state might try to ban religion and religious observances. This would, of course, be anathema to the mostly religious Muslim population of Iran.

Going by past history, it does seem false flag terror can be very effective when you need to stir up a country's population against a designated enemy.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 08:50 PM
Response to Reply #13
27. Yes, I think false flag operations have a significant role in our history
And then there are the semi-false flag operations.

The Golf of Tonkin incident comes to mind. We may or may not have been shot at by the enemy, but Johnson certainly meant to put us in a position where that would happen.

And the Mexican War started when we purposely put our forces in position to be shot at.

And nobody to this day knows how the blowing up of the Maine, which served as an excuse for the Spanish-American War, happened.

And then there's 9-11.

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JohnyCanuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 09:20 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. Re Gulf of Tonkin

30-year Anniversary: Tonkin Gulf Lie Launched Vietnam War

Media Beat (7/27/94)

By Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

Thirty years ago, it all seemed very clear.

"American Planes Hit North Vietnam After Second Attack on Our Destroyers; Move Taken to Halt New Aggression", announced a Washington Post headline on Aug. 5, 1964.

That same day, the front page of the New York Times reported: "President Johnson has ordered retaliatory action against gunboats and 'certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam' after renewed attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin."

But there was no "second attack" by North Vietnam no "renewed attacks against American destroyers." By reporting official claims as absolute truths, American journalism opened the floodgates for the bloody Vietnam War.

A pattern took hold: continuous government lies passed on by pliant mass media...leading to over 50,000 American deaths and millions of Vietnamese casualties.

The official story was that North Vietnamese torpedo boats launched an "unprovoked attack" against a U.S. destroyer on "routine patrol" in the Tonkin Gulf on Aug. 2 and that North Vietnamese PT boats followed up with a "deliberate attack" on a pair of U.S. ships two days later.

The truth was very different.
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bkscribe Donating Member (16 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-01-08 06:00 PM
Response to Reply #13
31. a request
dad, could you write a three page summary of this article? I'd really like to read it on the bus.

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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 09:52 AM
Response to Original message
14. For further reading: "Endless Enemies," by Jonathan Kwitny
This book is about 25 years old and probably out of print, but you can still find it in used bookstores and public libraries.

Kwitny was a Wall Street Journal reporter (which gives him some credibility among conservatives) who was alarmed by Reagan's foreign policies. He investigated and found that it was all part of a pattern, and the overriding thesis of the book is that U.S. foreign interventions create more problems than they solve.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 05:05 PM
Response to Reply #14
23. It sounds well worth while reading
Edited on Tue Sep-30-08 05:47 PM by Time for change
I've added it to my list.
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 10:09 AM
Response to Original message
15. Nicely done, Time. It takes a certain maturity to be able to look critically
at our country and figure out what we could do better as a people to care for each other and sustain our planet. A very fine essay.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #15
25. Thank you
And if more Americans don't learn to do that we're headed for some mighty bad times IMO. I sure hope that Obama sees that and leads the way. I think that especially his speech in Berlin shows that he does indeed understand that.

Only problem is that whenever a politician makes note of our faults he takes a terrible political risk (see section on Carter in the OP)
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 10:11 AM
Response to Original message
16. I think
that you are a true patriot.

Thank you.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 06:12 PM
Response to Reply #16
24. Thank you very much H20 Man
We liberals certainly do have a very different view of what patriotism is than do the good majority of Republicans.
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NotGivingUp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
18. Excellent! We should all know about the brutal history of U.S. imperialism. eom
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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-30-08 07:32 PM
Response to Original message
26. excellent
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