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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Op-ed Terrorist Threat Has Roots in U.S. Policy

Each act of the empire provokes a response that serves as a pretext for further imperial action. The battlefield is the world, and the “war on terror” can go on forever. Except for the dead, the maimed, the malnourished, and the taxpayers, it’s a sweet deal all around.
The rest of my latest op-ed, "Terrorist Threat Has Roots in U.S. Policy," is here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

TGIF: The Anti-anti-authoritarians

It’s easy to point out flaws in the Tea Party. What is getting old quickly is the political elite’s criticism, which exhibits an intolerance and bad faith that it often attributes to the tea partiers. You don’t have to read too much of this criticism to see that the powers that be and their fawning admirers in the media and intelligentsia dislike one thing in particular: the movement’s apparent anti-authoritarianism.
Read the rest of TGIF: "The Anti-anti-authoritarians" here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

D'Souza Goes Off the Edge

Dinesh D'Souza has written one of the most ridiculous articles ever published, "How Obama Thinks," in Forbes. Naturally, Newt Gingrich thinks it's one of the most brilliant.

To give you an idea of how slipshod the article is, look at this:
Obama's foreign policy is no less strange. He supports a $100 million mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name of Islam brought down the World Trade Center. Obama's rationale, that "our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable," seems utterly irrelevant to the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should be constructed at Ground Zero.
Yes, I too wondered what this has to do with foreign policy.

D'Souza has been trying to figure out what makes Obama tick, and now he thinks he has:
It may seem incredible to suggest that the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. [whom young Obama met twice] is espoused by his son, the President of the United States. That is what I am saying. From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America's military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father's position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.
All I can say is, would that Obama did believe that! Barack Obomber's military policies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and a dozen other Muslim countries hardly suggest an anti-colonial mindset. Shooting Hellfire missiles at civilians from aerial drones strikes me as an odd way to express solidarity with oppressed people in the Third World.

As for politician economy, in a corporatist economy, where people make fortunes as government contractors, profits can indeed be a measure of plunder. There is a ruling class that takes advantage of the rest of us.

Yes, the U.S. government is the world's bully. D'Souza is in denial, but is it really necessary to demonstrate that? It seem rather obvious.

D'Souza writes,
Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.
You can't write such drivel without being a either nut or a cynic hoping to whip up anti-Obama sentiment among the gullible. I vote for the latter.

All I can say is, I'd rather be ruled by a dead Kenyan anticolonialist than by a live American politician, least of all Newt Gingrich.

Another clue to how D'Souza thinks is this: "Colonialism today is a dead issue. No one cares about it except the man in the White House. He is the last anticolonial."

Wrong. Colonialism is far from dead, and some of us do care about it. Not only is the U.S. actively intervening in lots of other countries overtly and covertly, partly for economic reasons, it is also engaged in a much less obvious form of neocolonialism. Every trade pact, bilateral or multilateral, compels less-developed countries (LCD) to adopt stringent U.S.-style intellectual "property" laws the upshot of which is to force indigenous producers to pay heavy tribute to American patent holders before they can produce goods for their internal markets or for export. This is the new colonialism. We don't demand that they buy our consumer goods; actually, we buy theirs. Rather we demand that they pay us for the right to use technological ideas that properly are not ownable by anyone.

Obama is such a conventional, establishment politician that I cannot figure out why he drives the right-wing so crazy that they have to portray him as some kind of alien. D'Souza and Gingrich are even too much for some of their allies.

For more on D'Souza's idiotic article, see Shikha Dalmia's takedown.

TGIF: The Grasping Macroeconomic Managers

A tax cut for the top 2 percent is “just not a good use of limited resources.”

That’s what Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on television the other day. Sorry, but I can’t get my mind off taxes. So even though I wrote about them two weeks ago, I must do it again. Call me a masochist, or a sadist.

Read the rest of TGIF, "The Grasping Macroeconomic Managers," here.

Op-ed: They Died for Iran

More than 4,400 Americans have died during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Nearly 32,000 Americans have been wounded. And despite what President Obama says, it’s not over yet. What did those men and women sacrifice for? Some war critics say it was in vain, but that’s not true. It was for Iran. Iran is the big winner in Operation Iraqi Freedom (and now Operation New Dawn).
Read the rest of the op-ed, "They Died for Iran," here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Op-ed: Obama: Neoconservative

President Barack Obama was far from candid when he announced the end of combat operations in Iraq last month, but he did nothing to hide the fact that he is a neoconservative when it comes to the American empire.
The rest of the op-ed, "Obama: Neoconservative," is here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ten Lessons

In my flurry of posts yesterday, I forgot to reprise this one:

1. Killing one or many innocents, regardless of one's grievances, is monstrous. This elementary principle would seem to apply to George Bush, and now Barack Obama, as much as to Osama bin Laden. Can someone say why it doesn't?

2. Despite all its guarantees -- contrary to its ideological justification for existing -- the state can't protect us -- even from a ragtag group of hijackers. Trillions of dollars spent over many years built a "national security apparatus" that could not stop attacks on the two most prominent buildings in the most prominent city in the country -- or its own headquarters. That says a lot. No. That says it all. The state is a fraud. We have been duped.

3. The shameless state will stop at nothing to keep people's support by scaring the hell out of them. (Robert Higgs writes about this.) That people take its claims about "why they hate us" seriously after 9/11 shows what the public schools and the mass media are capable of doing to people. But the people are not absolved of responsibility: they could think their way out of this if they cared to make the effort.

4. Blowback is real. Foreign-policy makers never think how their decisions will harm Americans, much less others. They never wonder how their actions will look to their targets. That's because they are state employees.

5. As Randolph Bourne said, getting into a war is like riding a wild elephant. You may think you are in control -- you may believe your objectives and only your objectives are what count. If so, you are deluded. Consider the tens of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqi and Afghanis. What did they have to do with 9/11?

6. No one likes an occupying power.

7. Victims of foreign intervention don't forget, even if the perpetrators and their subjects do.

8. Terrorism is not an enemy. It's a tactic, one used by many different kinds of people in causes of varying moral hues, often against far stronger imperial powers. Declaring all those people one's enemy is criminally reckless. But it's a damn good way for a government to achieve potentially total power over its subjects.

9. They say the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Maybe, maybe not. But it seems abundantly clear that the enemy of my friend is also likely to be my enemy. See the U.S.-Israel relationship for details.

10. Assume "your" government is lying.

(Adapted and re-posted from 2006.)

9/11 and the Israeli Government

For all the remembering of 9/11, you'd think there would be more demands for the full story. If you want a dramatic demonstration of what the U.S. government thinks of "its" people, follow these links about the activities of Israeli agents in the United States before and after the September 11 attacks. There is hard evidence that Israelis tracked the 9/11 hijackers' activities in the United States -- but apparently did not tell the FBI what was going on. Some even watched the Twin Towers being hit, and danced a celebratory dance when it happened. This is not fringe conspiracy stuff. It is hard news reported by ABC, Fox, The Forward (a major Jewish paper in the United States), and Israeli newspapers.

The American people have a right to know, but of course the government has locked up the information and pressured news agencies to keep it under wraps. This is intolerable.

Read and get mad:

What Did the Israelis Know in Advance of the 9/11 Attacks?
Israel Is Spying on and on the U.S.? (Carl Cameron, Fox News) Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
The Israeli "Art Student" Mystery
US Arrests 200 Young Israelis in Spying Operation
Next Door to Mohammad Atta

The Israeli government and the Americans who are complicit in its U.S. espionage are playing with fire -- and jeopardizing many innocent people in the process. The U.S. government should open up the records (fat chance) so the American people have finally have the truth. If there was no spying -- if there was no foreknowledge of the 9/11 events -- what is to fear from coming clean?

(HT: Justin Raimondo for the links)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gingrich: Shut Up

Newt Gingrich says both Koran-burning and the building of Cordoba House in Lower Manhattan "should be stopped."

Why does anyone take this clown seriously?

Pastor Nutcase v. U.S. Foreign Policy

To hear all the serious politicians and pundits tell it, burning Korans is worse than burning Muslims.

See Chris Floyd and Glenn Greenwald on this.

Ted Koppel Begins to See the Light

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, succeeded far beyond anything Osama bin Laden could possibly have envisioned....

In a 2004 video message, [Osama bin Lalden] boasted about leading America on the path to self-destruction. "All we have to do is send two mujaheddin . . . to raise a small piece of cloth on which is written 'al-Qaeda' in order to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses."...

Through the initial spending of a few hundred thousand dollars, training and then sacrificing 19 of his foot soldiers, bin Laden has watched his relatively tiny and all but anonymous organization of a few hundred zealots turn into the most recognized international franchise since McDonald's. Could any enemy of the United States have achieved more with less?
The rest is here.

"Never Forget": What Does that Mean?

It can't mean merely: "Remember the day big buildings fell down when planes slammed into them and a lot of people died." Who could forget that? There's no need for admonition. We also remember major hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

I think when people say that they mean: "Remember the day poor old good-for-the-world 'America' was victimized out of the blue by people who hate our way of life, our freedom, our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, and our Founding Fathers." That, frankly, is bullshit. A herculean ignorance of recent history or nationalistic self-blindness is required to see things that way. Anyone who says 9/11 shows the United States (i.e., the government) cannot practice noninterventionism in foreign affairs in this dangerous world has no idea what he is talking about. (For details see this and this.)

September 11 should be remembered as the day the biggest flock of chickens, to date, came home to roost. Blowback Day. A better slogan would be: Never Again. And the way to make that come true is to heed George Washington:
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible....

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world;... Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest.

September 11, 2010

I can think of no more fitting way to observe 9/11 than for the U.S. government to halt the mass murder by drone it perpetrates throughout the Muslim world. What must the people there think of us Americans, who do nothing to stop the indiscriminate killing? I shudder at the question. I fear the whirlwind we will reap. We can't say we weren't warned.

Friday, September 10, 2010

TGIF: Not All Choices Are Equal

Opponents of the freedom philosophy never run out of insipid rebuttals.
Read TGIF: Not All Choices Are Equal here.

Minarchists Are Ultimately Hobbesians

In the Hobbesian tradition of political thought, the likelihood that conventions of property and contract will spontaneously emerge and be protected by the voluntary defensive action of those benefiting from the conventions is never envisaged, and the task is entrusted to Leviathan, despite ample evidence that such conventions have since time immemorial been deeply anchored in people’s consciousness and conduct. Hume, I believe, was the first to recognise that conventions, including those regarding property and the keeping of reciprocal promises (i.e. contracts), exist and are the outcome of spontaneous rational conduct. He implicitly but clearly scotches the Hobbesian idea of a need for Leviathan when he says “…the stability of possession, its translation by consent and the performance of promises. These are…antecedent to government.”

The complete set of conventional rules banning torts against life, limb and property, nuisances, and incivilities is neither imposed nor sponsored by authority. Nor is it the outcome of bargaining. It constitutes ordered anarchy.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Op-ed: The Dishonor of Militarism

[T]he U.S. government has committed the greatest imaginable betrayal of American values as professed in the Declaration of Independence: Born in rebellion against an empire, America now is the empire against which others rebel.
The rest of my op-ed, "The Dishonor of Militarism," is here.