• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

dinsdag 12 december 2017

Ian Buruma en 'het betrekkelijk goedaardige imperialisme uit Washington' 34

Vrijdag 4 november 2016 liet Ian Buruma de wereld het volgende weten:

So far, in Europe and the US, the demagogues can only serve up dreams: taking back our country, making it great again, and so on. To stop such dreams from becoming political nightmares, something more is needed than technocratic expertise, or calls for civility and moderation. Angry people cannot easily be persuaded by luminous reason. They must be offered an alternative vision.

The problem today, all over the world, is that such an alternative is not readily at hand. The French Revolution happened more than two centuries ago. ‘Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity’ is only a historic slogan today. But this might be a good time to update it. 

Gezien de almaar toenemende verwarring van de mainstream-media is het noodzakelijk om het gebrek aan logica van de opinie-makende ‘elite’ nader te bestuderen. Dan blijkt al snel dat de zelfbenoemde ‘politiek literaire elite’ dermate intellectueel gecorrumpeerd is geraakt dat zij vandaag de dag een belemmering vormt voor een serieuze gedachtenuitwisseling. Elke goedbetaalde charlatan kan tegenwoordig in de commerciële media de discussie naar zijn hand zetten door de werkelijkheid te verzwijgen of te verdraaien. Dus hoogste tijd om ook Buruma’s bovenstaande beweringen te fileren, om te zien wat er aan vlees overblijft. Hij schrijft dat ‘boze mensen niet gemakkelijk kunnen worden overtuigd door het lichtgevende verstand.’ Was mijn oude vriend wat minder actief geweest als broodschrijver dan had hij meer tijd vrij kunnen maken voor het bestuderen van het werk van goed geïnformeerde denkers. Zij hebben immers allang hun licht laten schijnen op al die onderwerpen waarover Buruma een mening moet produceren. Had Buruma zich verdiept dan had hij geweten dat de gezaghebbende Amerikaanse socioloog C. Wright Mills al in 1959 had geconstateerd dat de ‘voornaamste drijfveer’ in een hoogtechnologische massamaatschappij ‘rationality without reason’ is, dat wil zeggen: de toepassing van rationele middelen in dienst van irrationele doeleinden. Dit verschijnsel werkte hij uit in zijn baanbrekende boek The Sociological Imagination dat in 1998 door de International Sociological Association als het op één na belangrijkste ‘sociological book of the 20th century’ werd gekwalificeerd. Wij leven in een wereld gedreven door ‘rationaliteit zonder rede,’ oftewel een irrationele rationaliteit. Met betrekking tot dit fenomeen schreef de Amerikaanse senator en socioloog Daniel Patrick Moynihan, die na de Koude Oorlog een Senaatsonderzoek leidde 'which studied and made recommendations on the ‘culture of secrecy’ that pervaded the United States government and its intelligence community for 80 years, naderhand het boek Secrecy: The American Experience (1998) waarin 'he discussed the impact government secrecy has had on the domestic politics of America for the past half century, and how myths and suspicion created an unnecessary partisan chasm.' Moynihan kwam tot de slotsom dat 

American society in peacetime began to experience wartime regulation. The awful dilemma was that in order to preserve an open society, the U.S. government took measures that in significant ways closed it down. 

Een ander voorbeeld van ‘rationality without reason’ is de atoombom. De Amerikaanse journalist en bestseller-auteur, winnaar van een Pulitzer Prize, Garry Wills, benadrukte in zijn Bomb Power. The Modern Presidency and The National Security State  (2010) dat:  

the Bomb altered our subsequent history down to its deepest constitutional roots. It redefined the presidency, as in all respects America’s ‘Commander in Chief’ (a term that took on a new and unconstitutional meaning in this period). It fostered an anxiety of continuing crisis, so that society was pervasively militarized. It redefined the government as a National Security State, with an apparatus of secrecy and executive control. It redefined Congress, as an executor of the executive. And it redefined the Supreme Court, as a follower of the follower of the executive. Only one part of the government had the supreme power, the Bomb, and all else must defer to it, for the good of the nation, for the good of the world, for the custody of the future, in a world of perpetual emergency superseding ordinary constitutional restrictions. 

De Amerikaanse democratie begon stapsgewijs het karakter te krijgen van een totalitair systeem. Wills schreef:

The National Security State articulated itself in various intelligence agencies, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the programs of classification and clearance, the new doctrines of executive power (the unitary executive without check from the other branches, or presidential signing statements that nullified laws passed by Congress). State secrets multiplied far beyond the power to clear them for release or for courts to demand their production.

En ten grondslag aan dit alles lag

the Bomb. For the first time in our history, the President was given sole and unconstrained authority over all possible uses of the Bomb. All the preparations, protections, and auxiliary requirements for the Bomb's use, including secrecy about the whole matter and a worldwide deployment of various means of delivery, launching by land, sea, air, or space — a vast network for the study, development, creation, storage, guarding, and updating of nuclear arsenals, along with an immense intelligence apparatus to ascertain conditions for the weapons' maintenance and employment — all these were concentrated in the executive branch, immune from interference by the legislative or judicial branches. Every executive encroachment or abuse was liable to justification from this one supreme power.   

Door de uitvinding van dit massavernietigingswapen kan in het huidige totalitaire systeem uiteindelijk één man, de Amerikaanse president, het voortbestaan van miljarden wereldbewoners vernietigen. Garry Wills:

If the President has the sole authority to launch nation-destroying weapons, he has license to use every other power at his disposal that might safeguard that supreme necessity. If he says he needs other and lesser powers, how can Congress or the courts discern whether he needs them when they have no supervisory role over the basis of the the claim he is making? To challenge his authority anywhere is to threaten the one great authority. If he is weakened by criticism, how can other nations be sure he maintains the political ability to use his ultimate sanction? Every citizen is conscripted into the service of the Commander in Chief.As Vive President Dick Cheney put it on Fox News, in a December 21, 2008, interview with Chris Wallace:

‘The President of the United States now for fifty years is followed at all times, twenty-four hours a day, by a military aide carrying a football that contains the nuclear codes that he would use, and be authorized to use, in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States. He could launch the kind of devastating attack the world has never seen. He doesn’t have to check with anybody, he doesn't have to call the Congress, he doesn't have to check with the courts.’

Hoewel ik eerder het begrip ‘totalitair’ heb gebruikt, is het huidige systeem van ‘Mutual Assured Destruction’ in feite veel absurder dan het totalitarisme, aangezien in de definitie van Hannah Arendt ‘totalitarian regimes seek to dominate every aspect of everyone's life as a prelude to world domination,’ terwijl bij de inzet van nucleaire wapens er geen doel meer bestaat. Het gevolg is de vernietiging van de mensheid, niet ‘world domination.’ Hier is alleen nog sprake van ‘rationality without reason.’ Duidelijk is dat het Amerikaanse ‘military-industrial complex, with a poisonous admixture of government and secrecy, had scored a triumph that would show the way to many other governmental activities,’ aldus Wills, terwijl in een rationele samenleving, gehoorzamend aan Verlichtingsidealen, de ‘Bomb’s tenders had put themselves in a position where they could not use it. They were now the prisoners of their own creation.’ Het rationalisme van de Verlichting, waarin Ian Buruma nog steeds zijn geloof heeft geïnvesteerd, heeft de macht irrationeel gemaakt. Zeker nu Amerikaanse generaals ook van mening zijn dat de VS beschikt over ‘usable’ kernwapens, ondanks het feit dat de Amerikaanse  Nobelprijswinnaar Natuurkunde, Isidor Isaac Rabi, adviseur van het Manhattan Project en zijn collega Enrico Fermi, eveneens een Nobelprijswinnaar Natuurkunde die aan de ontwikkeling van de atoombom had meegewerkt, al rond het begin van 1950 erop hadden gewezen dat een krachtiger kernwapen dan die op Hiroshima en Nagasaki was gegooid, onvermijdelijk 'the range of very great natural catastrophes' introduceert.

By its very nature it cannot be confined to a military objective but becomes a weapon which in practical effect is almost one of genocide.

It is clear that the use of such a weapon cannot be justified on any ethical ground which gives a human being a certain individuality and dignity even if he happens to be a resident of an enemy country. It is evident to us that this would be the view of peoples in other countries. Its use would put the United States in a bad moral position relative the peoples of the world.

Any postwar situation resulting from such a weapon would leave unresolvable enmities for generations. A desirable peace cannot come from such an inhuman application of force. The postwar problems would dwarf the problems which confront us at present. 

The fact that no limits exist to the destructiveness of this weapon makes its very existence and the knowledge of its construction a danger to humanity as a whole. It is necessarily an evil thing considered in any light.

Gezien de macht van het militair-industrieel complex was hun pleidooi tegen de ontwikkeling van een nog krachtigere kernwapen, een waterstofbom, natuurlijk vergeefs. In 1949 hadden de Russen een eigen atoombom ontwikkeld, en dus wilde de elite in Washington een nog genocidalere bom om de Sovjet Unie te kunnen blijven bedreigen. De Amerikaanse journalist Richard Rhodes, winnaar van een Pulitzer Prijs, schreef in zijn boek Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race (2007):   

The Atomic Energy Commissions eight sites and 55,000 employees in 1950 expanded to twenty sites and 142,000 employees by 1953, and the expansion continued. By the mid-1950s, the nuclear production complex consumed 6.2 percent of total U.S. electrical power and exceeded in capital investment the combined capitalization of Bethlehem Steel, U.S. Steel, Alcoa, Du Pont, Goodyear, and General Motors. Between 1953 and 1955, the U.S. strategic stockpile doubled, from 878 weapons to 1,756, while its total yield increased almost forty times, from seventy-three megatons (4,867 Hiroshima) to 2,880 megatons (192,000 Hiroshimas). 

Ook Garry Wills waarschuwde voor de volgende bedreiging van de mensheid:

The need for concentrated personal authority, outside democratic  procedure, would continue in the postwar era. This time the sole responsibility would be lodged in the President. The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 created ‘a system that ade atomic weapons a separate part of the nation’s arsenal, with the President of the United States the sole authority over their use.’ That act ruled that the Atomic Energy Commission must develop atomic bombs ‘only to the extent that the express consent and direction of the President of the United States has been obtained,’ and the bombs are to be readied ‘for such use as he deems necessary in the interest of national defense,’ 

en in zijn boek Bomb Power voegde Wills in 2010 hieraan toe: 

Lodging ‘the fate of the world’ in one man, with no constitutional check, caused a violent break in our whole governmental system. General Groves (die het Manhattan Project had geleid. svh) had a mere simulacrum (schijn. svh) of that authority, and only for a single project. Presidents now have it as part of their permanent assignment. This was in effect a quiet revolution. It was accepted under the impression that technology imposed it as a harsh necessity. In case of nuclear attack on the United States, the President would not have time to consult Congress or instruct the public. He must respond instantly — which means that he must have the whole scientific apparatus for response on constant alert, accountable only to him. If, on the other hand, a danger to our allies or our necessary assets is posed, calling for a nuclear initiative on his part, he cannot issue a warning ahead of time without alerting the enemy. Like President Truman, who was told he could not forewarn Japan, he must act with a lone authority. 

The nature of the presidency was irrevocably altered by this grant of a unique power. The President’s permanent alert meant our permanent submission. He became, mainly, the Commander in Chief, since he could loose the whole military force of the nation at any moment. Elections became fateful because we were choosing a Commander in Chief, a custodian of the football, a person whose hand was on the button.

Hoe krankzinnig dit was, beschreef Noam Chomsky op de kritische Amerikaanse website TomDispatch van 22 maart 2014:

The world stood still 50 years ago during the last week of October, from the moment when it learned that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba until the crisis was officially ended -- though unknown to the public, only officially.

The image of the world standing still is the turn of phrase of Sheldon Stern, former historian at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, who published the authoritative version of the tapes of the ExComm meetings where Kennedy and a close circle of advisers debated how to respond to the crisis.  Those meetings were secretly recorded by the president, which might bear on the fact that his stand throughout the recorded sessions is relatively temperate compared to other participants, who were unaware that they were speaking to history.

Stern has just published an accessible and accurate review of this critically important documentary record, finally declassified in the late 1990s. I will keep to that here. ‘Never before or since,’ he concludes, ‘has the survival of human civilization been at stake in a few short weeks of dangerous deliberations,’ culminating in ‘the week the world stood still.’

There was good reason for the global concern.  A nuclear war was all too imminent, a war that might ‘destroy the Northern Hemisphere,’ President Dwight Eisenhower had warned. Kennedy’s own judgment was that the probability of war might have been as high as 50%. Estimates became higher as the confrontation reached its peak and the ‘secret doomsday plan to ensure the survival of the government was put into effect’ in Washington, as described by journalist Michael Dobbs in his well-researched bestseller on the crisis (though he doesn’t explain why there would be much point in doing so, given the likely nature of nuclear war). 

Dobbs quotes Dino Brugioni, ‘a key member of the CIA team monitoring the Soviet missile buildup,’ who saw no way out except ‘war and complete destruction’ as the clock moved to ‘one minute to midnight,’ the title of his book. Kennedy’s close associate, historian Arthur Schlesinger, described the events as ‘the most dangerous moment in human history.’ Defense Secretary Robert McNamara wondered aloud whether he ‘would live to see another Saturday night,’ and later recognized that ‘we lucked out’ -- barely…

Kennedy had already declared the highest nuclear alert short of launch (DEFCON 2), which authorized ‘NATO aircraft with Turkish pilots... [or others]... to take off, fly to Moscow, and drop a bomb,’ according to the well-informed Harvard University strategic analyst Graham Allison, writing in the major establishment journal Foreign Affairs…

From the ExComm records, Stern concludes that, on October 26th, President Kennedy was ‘leaning towards military action to eliminate the missiles’ in Cuba, to be followed by invasion, according to Pentagon plans.  It was evident then that the act might have led to terminal war, a conclusion fortified by much later revelations that tactical nuclear weapons had been deployed and that Russian forces were far greater than U.S. intelligence had reported…

‘One of the ironic things,’ Kennedy observed to Norman Cousins in the spring of 1963, ‘is that Mr. Khrushchev and I occupy approximately the same political positions inside our governments. He would like to prevent a nuclear war but is under severe pressure from his hard-line crowd, which interprets every move in that direction as appeasement. I’ve got similar problems… The hard-liners in the Soviet Union and the United States feed on one another.’

President Kennedy’s broer, minister van Justitie Robert F. Kennedy, schreef naderhand in zijn boek Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis (1969) dat the President was deciding, for the U.S., the Soviet Union, Turkey, NATO, and really for all mankind.’ Duidelijk was dat de president een proces op gang had gebracht dat hij niet meer kon stoppen. Desondanks beschouwde zowel de Democratische- als de Republikeinse elite en haar militair-industrieel complex deze waanzin zeventig jaar lang zo normaal dat er geen behoefte was de president het alleenrecht op het uitroeien van de mensheid te ontzeggen. Veelzeggend is ook dat The New York Review of Books Garry Wills’ opzienbarende boek Bomb Power niet relevant genoeg achtte om te bespreken. Maar sinds het aantreden van president Trump is onder de politieke coterie in Washington en dus ook onder de westerse mainstream-media paniek uitgebroken. Trump wordt gezien als een ‘populist,’ die niet vertrouwd is met de stijl van de elite, en daardoor als onberekenbaar wordt gezien. Het resultaat is dat pas nu, zeven jaar na het verschijnen van Bomb Power, Garry Wills, die overigens regelmatig voor The New York Review of Books schreef, gevraagd werd een kort artikel te schijven over het gevaar dat president Trump op de nucleaire knop zal drukken. Onder de kop Who Will Stop Him? mag Wills zijn waarschuwing herhalen dat  

the framers clearly opposed the massing of power in the executive — lest it become the monarchy they had opposed with a revolution. They so feared one-man rule that they entertained the idea of a double executive (based on the ancient Roman consulship) or a legislative council. The single executive was adopted largely because James Wilson of Pennsylvania argued that it would make the president more impeachable (it would be hard to fix responsibility on members of a team or a council). They thought one man would be more accountable — not anticipating post-Constitution developments like ‘executive privilege,’ the ‘classification’ of secrets, and ‘the unitary executive’ that would make him less accountable.

But now that we have traveled so far from constitutional government, what can we do? The atom bomb was born as a secret project of President Franklin Roosevelt, and then deployed by Truman without any but his own authority. Truman did not even know, as vice-president, that Roosevelt was developing this new weapon until he became the chief executive himself and was let in on the secret. Then, after the bombings of Japan were sprung as a surprise on the whole world, presidential authority to keep and use the ‘Bomb’ (soon to be a vast arsenal of hydrogen explosives) was extended undiminished in the Atomic Energy Act of 1946.

In The New York Review of Books van 21 december 2017 werpt Wills de vraag op ‘What can be done?’ om vervolgens te stellen:

There comes a time when, as Cicero put it, ‘The highest law should be preservation of the people,’ Salus populi suprema lex esto. A crisis sufficient to justify use of this maxim cannot be predicted. It could be any first nuclear strike the president may order. Only extreme peril can justify an extreme remedy. It is said (I don’t know with what truth) that in 1974, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger told the implementers that in the event of a nuclear order from President Nixon, who was in a massive drunken funk, they should clear it with him.

We can only hope that there are high-ranking patriots who might act like that if Big Rocket Man (Trump. svh) went after Little Rocket Man (Kim Jong-un. svh) Even a soldier in the field must disobey a truly disastrous order from a manifestly disabled officer. The commander in chief has to be held to the same standard as his subordinate commanders, for the preservation of the people. 

Maar hier maakt de doorgaans scherpzinnige Garry Wills een gedachtefout. Dat ‘de veiligheid van het volk de voornaamste wet [is],’ zoals Cicero schreef, is ten eerste geen juridische ‘wet,’ maar een morele, die de basis zou moeten zijn van al het handelen van de macht, maar dit helaas niet is. Belangrijker nog is dat de ‘veiligheid’ als de ‘voornaamste wet’ hier niet opgaat, aangezien de president als uitvlucht heeft dat het ‘volk’ bedreigd wordt, en hij dus wel moet optreden om een nucleaire genocide door een vijand te voorkomen. Dit is allemaal een kwestie van enkele minuten speelruimte. Zijn de vijandelijke raketten met één of meerdere kernkoppen al onderweg dan gaat Cicero’s logische argument natuurlijk helemaal niet meer op. De waanzin die het kernwapen gecreëerd heeft, is wat mij betreft het meest helder beschreven door de Duitse filosoof Peter Sloterdijk, toen hij stelde:

Met de atoombom verlaten wij het gebied van de praktische rede, waar men doeleinden met gepaste middelen nastreeft. De bom is al lang geen middel tot een doel meer, want zij is het mateloze middel dat elk mogelijk doel te boven gaat… Als wij haar geconstrueerd hebben om onszelf te 'verdedigen,' dan heeft dat ons in werkelijkheid een onvoorstelbare weerloosheid opgeleverd. De bom is een voltooiing van de mens in zijn 'slechte' vorm. Slechter, intelligenter en defensiever kunnen wij niet meer worden.     

En omdat ‘wij’ door de schepping van ‘de atoombom’ inderdaad niet ‘slechter’ meer kunnen worden, staat de moraliteit buiten spel, en speelt Cicero’s adagium dat ‘de veiligheid van het volk de voornaamste wet [is],’ al sinds dit massavernietigingswapen ontwikkeld werd geen rol meer. Elk gebruik van het kernwapen is per definitie immoreel, omdat het geen onderscheid kan maken tussen militairen en burgers. Dat de elite met haar  NAVO al tenminste een halve eeuw meent dat zij met haar ‘mutual assured destruction’ een evenwicht heeft gevonden, maakt haar niet moreel verantwoorder dan Donald Trump. Onder andere de Cuba-Crisis toonde dit aan. Trump als elke andere machthebber met massavernietigingswapens lijdt, gezien de consequenties van een mogelijke inzet, per definitie aan een ernstige psychische stoornis. Eveneens daarom gaat Garry Wills stelling niet op. Er bestaat geen logica meer sinds ‘wij’ in het jaar 1945, door de atoombom, ‘het gebied van de praktische rede’ hebben ‘verlaten.’ Wij kunnen ‘only hope that there are high-ranking’ militairen die op het moment suprême ineens burgerlijke ongehoorzaam worden door het bevel tot afvuren domweg te negeren. Meer dan ‘hoop’ is er niet, zo totalitair is de westerse democratie geworden. Het moet toch zo langzamerhand voor een ieder met een beetje verstand duidelijk zijn dat een systeem, waarin één man over het lot van de hele mensheid beschikt, onmogelijk een democratie kan worden genoemd, wat een opiniemaker als Ian Buruma en andere ideologisch gehersenspoelde opportunisten ook mogen beweren. Wij allen zijn onderdanen van een machtssysteem dat, precies zoals C. Wright Mills het definieerde, wordt gekenmerkt door ‘rationality without reason.’ En met deze wetenschap als uitgangspunt is de vraag wat er overblijft van Buruma’s bewering dat ‘[a]ngry people cannot easily be persuaded by luminous reason. They must be offered an alternative vision.’ Dat de rijke elite ‘een alternatieve visie’ moet ‘bieden’ aan ‘woedende mensen’ is -- gezien haar gebrek aan 'rationaliteit' --  ronduit absurd, maar sluit wel naadloos aan bij datgene wat de invloedrijkste Amerikaanse media-ideoloog van de twintigste eeuw, Walter Lippmann, in zijn boek Drift and Mastery: An Attempt to Diagnose the Current Unrest (1914) stelde:

1. There is a consensus that business methods need to change. The leading thought of our world has ceased to regard commercialism either as permanent or desirable, and the only real question among intelligent people is how business methods are to be alerted, not whether they are to be altered.

2. The chaos of too much freedom and the weaknesses of democracy are our real problem. The battle for us, in short, does not lie against crusted prejudice, but against the chaos of a new freedom. This chaos is our real problem. So if the younger critics are to meet the issues of their generation they must give their attention, not so much to the evils of authority, as to the weaknesses of democracy.

Acht jaar later werkte Lippmann dit uit in zijn belangrijkste werk Public Opinion (1922) door te adviseren dat ‘public opinions must be organized for the press if they are to be sound, not by the press,’ want 

[w]ithout some form of censorship, propaganda in the strict sense of the word is impossible. In order to conduct propaganda there must be some barrier between the public and the event. Access to the real environment must be limited, before anyone can create a pseudo-environment that he thinks is wise or desirable.


Bijna een eeuw later, nu de kapitalistische ideologie opnieuw in een crisis is geraakt, en de ‘chaos van teveel vrijheid en de zwakheden van de democratie’ wederom het ‘ware probleem’ van de economische en financiële elite is geworden, en de ‘real question among intelligent people’ is ‘how business methods are to be alerted, not whether they are to be altered,’ heeft Lippmann’s advies niets van zijn urgentie verloren. Zo blijkt uit de woorden van Ian Buruma, dat ‘woedende mensen,’ die ‘niet makkelijk kunnen worden overtuigd door het lichtgevende verstand’ alleen in het gareel kunnen worden gehouden wanneer de elite hen ‘een alternatieve visie bieden.’ Kortom, de economische en financiële elite, die -- met onvoorwaardelijke steun van haar politieke- en media-woordvoerders -- het economische, monetaire, politieke, ecologische en morele failliet hebben veroorzaakt, moeten nu niet terugtreden en anderen aan de macht laten. Geen sprake van, kennelijk is alleen de elite in staat een ‘alternatieve visie’ te verzinnen, waarbij vanzelfsprekend de macht van de VS, aangevoerd door zijn ‘Commander in Chief,’ niet bedreigd mag worden. En niemand van de zelfbenoemde ‘intelligent people,’ was verstandig genoeg op te merken dat Buruma quatsch verkoopt. Immers, hoe kan de huidige, corrupte macht, die als enige drijfveer het maximaliseren van winsten heeft, een ‘alternatieve visie’ ontwikkelen? Die macht is hiertoe niet in staat, niet psychisch, intellectueel, ideologisch, moreel, of hoe men het ook wil benoemen. Bovendien is Buruma’s hunkering om terug te keren tot de ‘gewone orde’ niets anders dan een terugkeer tot de eeuwige ‘wanorde,’ zoals Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa in zijn roman De Tijgerkat (2000) dit zo magistraal beschreef. Daar komt bij dat Buruma geen rekening houdt met de werkelijkheid, dus allereerst met het gebrek aan empathie, een gemis dat nu juist het kenmerk bij uitstek is van de macht. In zijn boek Creating Freedom. Power, Control And The Fight For Our Future (2017), wijst de Britse beeldend kunstenaar Raoul Martinez erop dat: 

It's almost as if foreign policy operates according to a state-sanctioned human exchange rate. How many Syrians count for one French citizen? How many Iraqi lives count for one American? How many Afghani children count for one Briton? Just as the value of currencies in different nations increases and decreases in relation to each other, so does the value of human life according to geopolitical priorities. Monetizing and comparing lives is standard practice in policy circles.

Martinez geeft hiervan enkele sprekende voorbeelden: 

In a now notorious memo — intended to be private but subsequently leaked — Larry Summers, Chief Economist at the World Bank, applied standard economic reasoning to the problem of toxic waste:

‘Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries? […] The measurements of the costs of health-impairing pollution depends  on  the foregone  earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health-impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable (onweerlgebaar. svh) and we should face up to that.’

Raj Patel, a former employee of the World Bank, writes that it 'costs corporations in Europe $1,000 to dispose of every ton of hazardous toxic waste — in Somalia the same waste can disappear for $2.50.’ After the tsunami of 2005, barrels of toxic waste that had been dumped offshore washed up on the Somali coastline, causing a range of chronic illnesses amongst local inhabitants. That Somalis are exposed to these risks rather than higher paid Europeans is perfectly logical according to prevalent cost-benefit assumptions. While there is nothing ethically problematic with comparing benefits and costs, viewing them in exclusively financial terms, and in ways that give preferential treatment to the wealthy, is misleading and unjust. As Patel argues, a Somali woman ‘values her children no less than than a German or American, and wants them to grow up healthy just as much as her richer counterparts,’ but when the value of life is viewed through the lens of the market, or measured according to the geopolitical priorities of rich nations, that's measured according to the geopolitical priorities of rich nations, that's not how things appear.

Even ‘misleading and unjust’ is Ian Buruma’s stelling dat ‘we’ na ‘het einde van Pax Americana’ in de toekomst ‘met weemoed (zullen) terugkijken op het betrekkelijk goedaardige imperialisme uit Washington.’ Ook aan zijn kijk op de wereld ontbreekt empathie, want hij houdt op geen enkele manier rekening met de miljarden mensen die als gevolg van het geglobaliseerde neoliberalisme arm en berooid zijn. Zij bestaan in zijn mens- en wereldbeeld zelfs niet eens als factor in de ‘human exchange rate.’ Buruma’s manier van oordelen en veroordelen — die voor hem volstrekt consequentieloos blijft — getuigt van een psychische stoornis die men bij westerse mainstream-opiniemakers over de gehele linie aantreft. Zij zijn niet bij machte verder te kijken dan hun eigen belang en dat van hun opdrachtgevers. Hun gemis aan empathie demonstreert hun barbaarsheid. Martinez:

Actively taking lives is not easy. For soldiers, a first kill can be followed by bouts of vomiting, weeping, incontinence and trembling. Troops are not taught to cut themselves off from their empathy but to channel it towards their fellow soldiers. It is drummed into marines that their actions affect not only themselves but the whole unit, so that a reluctance to kill might result in the death of one of their own.’ Compassion, love and empathy are thus directed at the in-group, and the ‘other’ is pushed beyond the scope of moral concern. Resistance amongst the general population to killing in wartime is overcome in an analogous way. Domestic populations often have the power to constrain the dehumanizing policies of their governments — and resistance to war has been growing in recent decades. In the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a million people took to the streets in Britain, and many more did so around the world. Protest on this scale preceding the start of war is a new development and not welcomed by state power. As 'hardheaded' as the decisions of governments may be, in order to secure public support and galvanize the soldiers who must carry out the killing, foreign policy aims — and a nation's military history — are generally cloaked in the highest ideals. There are always politicians on hand to explain why killing is noble and necessary.

Maar niet alleen politici zijn bereid zich in te zetten voor de belangen van het Amerikaanse militair-industrieel complex. Ook opiniemaker Buruma probeerde in NRC Handelsblad van 20 september 2003 de steun voor de illegale Amerikaanse inval in Irak aan te wakkeren door, onder de kop ‘De morele verlamming van links,’ te stellen dat het weigeren deel te nemen aan het massale geweld ‘enigszins symptomatisch’ is ‘voor veel opinies die doorgaan voor links of progressief. Kritiek op het Westen, met name de Verenigde Staten, is gemakkelijk,’ maar zou volgens hem vooral voortkomen uit ‘een virulente vorm van anti-Amerikanisme,’ die ‘bij sommigen alles overheerst en daarom kan leiden tot een soort morele verlamming als het aankomt op moorddadige regimes buiten het Westen.’ Kort samengevat: het weigeren om een agressieoorlog te steunen die het Midden-Oosten in een chaos heeft veranderd, was symptomatisch voor de ‘morele verlamming van links,’ waaraan het oorlogszuchtige neoconservatief rechts, zo was de implicatie, niet leed. Ondermeer voor deze omkering van de werkelijkheid ontving Ian Buruma de prestigieuze Erasmus Prijs in 2008, hetgeen andermaal onderstreept hoe intellectueel corrupt de polder-intelligentsia is. Inderdaad, ‘[c]ompassion, love and empathy are thus directed at the in-group, and the “other” is pushed beyond the scope of moral concern.’ Hoe ‘goedaardig’ het ‘imperialisme uit Washington’ de afgelopen halve eeuw is geweest, blijkt tevens uit het relaas van Daniel Ellsberg, ‘America’s most famous whistleblower, the former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers which helped end the Vietnam war.’ Ellsberg’s boek The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, dat begin december 2017 verscheen, onthult tevens dat hij in de jaren zestig één van ‘the main nuclear war planners for the United States’ was. Tijdens een interview op 6  december 2017 verklaarde hij in een programma van Democracy Now! dat de beleidsbepalers voorstanders waren van een ‘first strike’ op elke stad in Rusland en China’ en dat talloze commandanten te velde de macht bezaten om een nucleair Armageddon te beginnen.

Amy Goodman: So, you made copies of top-secret reports for plans about nuclear war years before you copied the Pentagon Papers —

DANIEL ELLSBERG: That’s right.

Amy Goodman: — and released them to the press?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Essentially, my notes, and sometimes verbatim excerpts, not the entire plans themselves, but on plans that were then unknown to the president, to begin with, to President Kennedy. I briefed his aide, McGeorge Bundy, in his first month in office on the nature of the plans and some of the other problems, like the delegation of authority to theater commanders for nuclear war by President Eisenhower, which was fairly shocking to McGeorge Bundy, even though Kennedy chose to renew that delegation, as other presidents have. 

But I was given the job of improving the Eisenhower plans, which was not a very high bar, actually, at that time, because they were, on their face, the worst plans in the history of warfare. A number of people who saw them, but very few civilians ever got a look at them. In fact, the joint chiefs couldn’t really get the targets out of General LeMay at the Strategic Air Command.

And there was a good reason for that: They were insane. They called for first-strike plans, which was by order of President Eisenhower. He didn’t want any plan for limited war of any kind with the Soviet Union, under any circumstances, because that would enable the Army to ask for enormous numbers of divisions or even tactical nuclear weapons to deal with the Soviets. So he required that the only plan for fighting Soviets, under any circumstances, such as an encounter in the Berlin corridor, the access to West Berlin, or over Iran, which was already a flashpoint at that point, or Yugoslavia, if they had gone in — however the war started — with an uprising in East Germany, for example — however it got started, Eisenhower’s directed plan was for all-out war, in a first initiation of nuclear war, assuming the Soviets had not used nuclear weapons.

And that plan called, in our first strike, for hitting every city—actually, every town over 25,000—in the USSR and every city in China. A war with Russia would inevitably involve immediate attacks on every city in China. In the course of doing this—pardon me—there were no reserves. Everything was to be thrown as soon as it was available—it was a vast trucking operation of thermonuclear weapons—over to the USSR, but not only the USSR. The captive nations, the East Europe satellites in the Warsaw Pact, were to be hit in their air defenses, which were all near cities, their transport points, their communications of any kind. So they were to be annihilated, as well.

I couldn’t believe, when I saw these, that the joint chiefs actually had ever calculated how many people they would actually kill in this course. In fact, colonels who were friends of mine in the Air Staff told me they had never seen an actual figure for the total casualties. We had exact figures of the number of targets and how many planes would be needed and every sort of thing, many calculations. But not victims.

So, I drafted a question, which the aide to McGeorge Bundy, Bob Komer, sent to the joint chiefs in the name of the president. And the question was: In the event of your carrying out your general nuclear war plans, which were first-strike plans, how many will die? First I asked, in the USSR and China alone, in the thought that, by the way, they’d be embarrassed to discover — to say, ‘We have to have more time. We’ve never really calculated that.’ I was wrong. And my friends were wrong in the Air Force. They came back with an answer very quickly: 325 million people in the USSR and China alone.

Well, then I asked, ‘All right, how many altogether?’ And a few days later, 100 million in East Europe, the captive nations, another 100 million in West Europe, our allies, from our own strikes, by fallout, depending on which way the wind blew, and, however the wind blew, a third 100 million in adjoining countries, neutral countries, like Austria and Finland, or Afghanistan then, Japan, northern India and so forth — a total of 600 million people. That was a time, by the way, when the population of the world was 3 billion. And that was an underestimate of their casualties — a hundred Holocausts.

It was very clear that they hadn’t included — I hadn’t asked, actually, what would Russian retaliation be against us and against West Europe. They were thought, at that time — wrongly — to have hundreds of weapons against the U.S. But they did have hundreds of weapons against West Europe, no question. West Europe would go, under any circumstances. If we were defending West Europe — Germany, for example — we were planning to destroy the continent in order to save it.

Six hundred million, that was a hundred Holocausts. And when I held the piece of paper in my hand that had that figure, that they had sent out unembarrassedly, you know, proudly, to the president — ‘Here’s what we will do’ — I thought, ‘This is the most evil plan that has ever existed. It’s insane.’ The weapons, the machinery that will carry this out, this was no hypothetical plan, like Herman Kahn might have conceived at the doomsday machine that he thought up at the RAND Corporation as my colleague. This was an actual war plan for how we would use the existing weapons, many of which I had seen already that time.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Dan Ellsberg, the colossal carnage that they were envisioning as a result of this first-strike use was doubly — made doubly worse, as you reveal, by the fact that the image that we have that the president is the one who holds the switch or has his hand on the button is not true, that many people have the capacity to initiate a nuclear war. If you could you talk about that, as well?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: To start with, even if it were only the president, no one man — really, no one nation — should have the ability — the ability even — to threaten or to carry out a hundred Holocausts at his will. That machinery should never have existed. And it does exist right now, and every president has had that power, and this president does have that power.

But the recent discussions of that, which emphasize his sole authority to do that, don’t take account of the fact that he has authority to delegate. And he has delegated. Every president has delegated. I don’t know the details of what President Trump has done or since the Cold War. Every president in the Cold War, right through Carter and Reagan, had delegated, in fact, to theater commanders in case communications were cut off. That means that the idea that the president is the only one with sole power to issue an order that will be recognized as an authentic authorized order is totally false.

How many fingers are on buttons? Probably no president has ever really known the details of that. I knew, in '61, for example, that Admiral Harry D. Felt in CINCPAC, commander-in-chief of Pacific, for whom I worked as a researcher, had delegated that to 7th Fleet, down to various commanders, and they, in turn, had delegated down to people. So when you say, ‘How many altogether feel authorized?’ if their communications are cut off—and that happened part of every day in the Pacific when I was there — communications got better, but the delegations never changed. There’s — we’ve never allowed it to be possible that an enemy could paralyze our retaliation by hitting our president or our command and control. 

And neither did the Russians. When President Carter and then President Reagan advertised the fact that their plans emphasized decapitation, hitting Moscow, above all, which the French and British always planned to do, by the way, with their smaller forces — and when that became clear, the Russians instituted what they called a dead hand, a perimeter system, in Russian, which assured that if Moscow was destroyed, other commanders would have the power and would be told to launch their strikes.

There was even a plan to do that automatically by computer, as a number of our military always recommended, to make the whole thing computerized, as in the doomsday machine of Herman Kahn and Stanley Kubrick. But, generally, they allow for lower-level majors, colonels to decide, ‘The time has come. We’ve lost our commanders. The time has come to go.’ That’s almost certainly true in North Korea right now.

AMY GOODMAN: So, when you heard about President Trump having that meeting with the joint chiefs of staff in the summertime, the one where allegedly — I mean, Rex Tillerson has not confirmed or denied this — he called the president an ‘Fucking moron,’ that apparently was in response to Trump asking three times in that meeting, ‘If we have nuclear weapons, why don’t we use them?’

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, he had asked that, allegedly, according to Joe Scarborough and others, to people during the campaign a year earlier. And an answer to that, of course, is he will use them.

And he is using them right now. It’s not a question of whether the president might use them. He’s using them the way you use a gun when you point it at somebody in a confrontation, whether or not you pull the trigger. And both Trump and Kim are using their weapons in that encounter right now, as many presidents have done, as I discovered later — as there’s a chapter in the book of a couple dozen, perhaps three dozen cases, mostly in secret, where presidents have actually pointed the gun, aside from wearing it ostentatiously on their hip at all times, as in NATO. I think the — one of our commanders just said, ‘Oh, we use the weapons every day, every hour of the day,’ which is true. We use them on the hip.

Het is in het kader van de belangen van het Atlantisch Bondgenootschap tussen de VS en Europa, én zijn nucleaire arm de NAVO, dat de Nederlandse mainstream-media over bovenstaande informatie van een insider als Ellsberg zwijgen. Op zich niet vreemd als de lezer weet dat één van de ‘beginselen’ van bijvoorbeeld NRC Handelsblad is ‘dat wij de grondslag van het Atlantisch bondgenootschap aanvaarden,’ en dat deze zelfbenoemde ‘kwaliteitskrant,’ die grondslag, inclusief de genocidale NAVO-strategie niet in gevaar wil brengen, en het feit op de koop toe neemt dat de VS bereid is ‘to destroy the continent (Europa. svh) in order to save it.’ Maar dit  feit wordt niet relevant genoeg geacht door mijn mainstream-collega’s om uitgebreid te onderzoeken, alvorens enthousiast de nieuwe Koude Oorlog te omarmen. Feit is namelijk dat niet alleen de ‘Joint Chiefs of Staff,’ die ondermeer ‘de president over militaire kwesties’ informeren, ‘insane’ zijn, maar eveneens de westerse politieke elite en de intelligentsia die de waanzin propageren of verzwijgen, zoals de door het establisment zo geprezen opiniebewaker Ian Buruma. Want ook mijn oude vriend kan weten dat

Ellsberg isn’t the first to discuss U.S. plans for a nuclear first strike.  In the 1986 book ‘To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans,’ one of the world’s leading physicists — Michio Kaku — revealed declassified plans for the U.S. to launch a first-strike nuclear war against Russia.  The forward was written by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clarke. 

en dat de Canadese emeritus hoogleraar Michel Chossudovsky anno 2011 in zijn boek Towards a World War III Scenario vermeldde:

that the U.S. is so enamored with nuclear weapons that it has authorized low-level field commanders to use them in the heat of battle in their sole discretion… without any approval from civilian leaders.

Maar aangezien de ‘vrije pers’ niet bij machte is het huidige systeem structureel en fundamenteel te onderzoeken, moet het mainstream-publiek het doen met het ‘Nep Nieuws’ dat zelfs wanneer ‘het einde van Pax Americana geen heftige militaire conflicten met zich mee[brengt]’ de mensheid zich zal moeten ‘voorbereiden op een tijd waarin we met weemoed terugkijken op het betrekkelijk goedaardige imperialisme uit Washington.’ Daarentegen wijst Raoul Martinez in zijn hoofdstuk Empathy in zijn boek Creating Freedom erop dat: 

Centuries ago, David Hume wrote that 'When our own nation is at war with any other, we detest them under the character of cruel, perfidious, unjust and violent: but always esteem ourselves and allies equitable, moderate and merciful.' Every government, in every era, justifies its own violence in noble terms while condemning in harsh tones the violence of enemies. While gearing up for the 'war on terror,’ after the terrorist attacks of September 2001, George W. Bush declared hat 'Our enemies send other people's children on missions of suicide and murder… We stand for a different choice… We choose freedom and the dignity of every life.’ The following year, het described the illegal and unprovoked invasion as a fight for 'the cause of liberty and for the peace of the world.’ In November 2015, Barack Obama condemned the appalling murders in Paris, for which ISIS took responsibility, as ‘an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.’ Weeks later, after the UK parliament voted to bomb ISIS in Syria, Chancellor George Osborne declared to an American think tank that Britain had 'got its mojo back' and was ready to join the US in the struggle to 'reassert Western values.’ At the heart of these values were, according to Obama, 'life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.’

In pursuit of power and profit, Western states have supported slavery, colonialism, torture, apartheid, illegal invasions, tyrannical dictators, the overturning of foreign democracies and the destruction of the environment. 

For many in the world, they have shown themselves to be a remarkably stubborn obstacle to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ The 'hard-headed' approach to foreign policy has caused unimaginable suffering on a scale that no that no terrorist group has come close to replicating, often without even achieving its stated aims. Former director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn conceded in 2015 that the drone program has created more terrorists than it has killed and argued that the Iraq war was a 'huge error,’ without which the Islamic State would not exist. The human cost of this 'error', according to an authoritative study in 2013, is close to half a million Iraqi lives. 

Meanwhile the myth of ‘Western benevolence’ is closely guarded and cultivated in order to retain enough public support for the next round of violence. Decades of evidence, from official sources and declassified files, have exposed the hypocrisy of this myth, yet it is held in place with remarkable discipline by the organs of the state and much of the media. If people internalize the idea of a nation's 'moral mission' deeply enough, they will come to support state violence as a matter of principle. 

En dit nu is precies wat de mainstream-journalist Ian Buruma voortdurend doet, zonder dat dit tot enige weerzin leidt onder de polder-intellectuelen. Uitgaande van de overtuiging dat het ‘spijtig’ is dat ‘de leidende rol van de Amerikanen onder druk’ staat, is professor Buruma bereid de waanzin te verdedigen. Meer daarover de volgend keer. 


This picture, taken from the Nukemap, shows the level of destruction that would be caused if the Tsar Bomba - the largest USSR bomb designed - was dropped on London.