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

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 26 april 2014

De Mainstream Pers 199



When Scottisch moral philosopher and economist Adam Smith finished his opus, most probably he didn't realize that it would become a landmark examination of political economy. Published in 1776, The Wealth of Nations details the benefits, interconnections and consequences of a free-market economy that paved the way for modern capitalism. Smith believed that there could be no market for anything unless someone, somewhere, was willing to pay for it. He was convinced of the merits of a laissez-faire (let-the market-decide) approach because he believed competition, not intervention, would naturally regulate the market and thus some 'invisible hand' would ensure justice and equality for all.

For example, Smith was of the view that a free market would make monopoly impossible and therefore workers and consumers could not be exploited. If over-demand for a certain product existed, then that demand would naturally encourage others to compete in the same market and prices would fall.
Calum Roberts. The Wealth of Nations. Timeless Concepts for Today. 2011

Er zijn weinig filosofen in de westerse geschiedenis die zich zo vergist hebben als Adam Smith, paradoxaal genoeg de filosoof bij uitstek van het neoliberale kapitalisten. De vrije markt heeft nooit bestaan, het kapitalisme bestaat bij de gratie van staatsinterventies in de vorm van miljarden subsidies en belastingvoordelen waarbij de concurrentie door de monopolies zo snel mogelijk om zeep wordt geholpen, en wat betreft 'de vrije markt' zelf, die is er alleen voor de grote concerns. In die zin heeft het kapitalisme nooit bestaan, net zomin als het communisme ooit in praktijk is gebracht. Zowel in de Sovjet Unie als in de VS is het de staat die via belastinggeld research and development financiert en met zijn strijdkrachten grondstoffen en markten verovert en beschermt. Zoals elke serieuze wetenschapper weet is er sprake van 'socializing the costs and privatizing the profits.' De leider van de kapitalistische wereld heet dan ook de 'Corporate State,' een staat gerund door de economische macht. Dit wordt in de VS mogelijk gemaakt door de wetgeving die volgens het Federale Hooggerechtshof het financieren van de verkiezingscampagnes van de politici niet verbiedt. 

Washington (CNN) -- If you're rich and want to give money to a lot of political campaigns, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that you can.
The 5-4 ruling eliminated limits on how much money people can donate in total in one election season.

In een systeem waar alles om geld draait, wordt logischerwijs ook de politiek door geld bepaald, degene met het meeste geld heeft de meeste macht, kan de meeste politici kopen. Het gevolg is dat de VS al geruime tijd geen democratie is, maar een plutocratie, de heerschappij van de rijken. 

Een plutocratie is een bestuursvorm waarin de rijksten aan de macht zijn en de wetgeving voor grote groepen binnen een samenleving kunnen bepalen. De naam is een samenstelling van de Griekse woorden πλουτος (rijkdom) en κρατειν (regeren, de macht hebben). 

De term wordt ook wel gebruikt voor de heerschappij van het grote kapitaal.


Om goed te begrijpen wat  er op dit moment gebeurt dient men allereerst te weten hoe deze ontwikkeling mogelijk is geweest. In het kort: 

The United States Isn't a Country
— It's a Corporation!
by Lisa Guliani

'We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.'
— Preamble of the original 'organic' Constitution
'We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.' 

— Excerpted from the Declaration of Independence of the original thirteen united states of America, July 4, 1776…
We call ourselves a free people in a land of liberty. Our anthems proudly sing the praises of this nation, and we raise our voices, wave our flags and join in song — but how many Americans realize they are not free? This is a myth perpetuated by the powers-that-be in order to avoid any major civil unrest, and to keep us all living under the thumb of a militaristic corporate Big Brother within the illusions that have been created for us. The truth of the matter is this: what freedom has not been stolen from us, we have surrendered willingly through our silence and ignorance. As Americans, most of us have no idea how our freedoms are maintained — or lost. Apparently, our ancestors didn't have a good grasp of this either. It is sad, but it is also very true…
So, let's roll backward into the past for a moment. It is time we learned what they didn't teach us in school. It is far more interesting than what they DID tell us. I think you'll stay awake for this lesson.
The date is February 21, 1871back-room and the Forty-First Congress is in session. I refer you to the 'Acts of the Forty-First Congress,' Section 34, Session III, chapters 61 and 62. On this date in the history of our nation, Congress passed an Act titled: 'An Act To Provide A Government for the District of Columbia.' This is also known as the 'Act of 1871.' What does this mean? Well, it means that Congress, under no constitutional authority to do so, created a separate form of government for the District of Columbia, which is a ten mile square parcel of land…
How could they do that? Moreover, WHY would they do that? To explain, let's look at the circumstances of those days. The Act of 1871 was passed at a vulnerable time in America. Our nation was essentially bankrupt — weakened and financially depleted in the aftermath of the Civil War. The Civil War itself was nothing more than a calculated 'front' for some pretty fancy footwork by corporate backroom players. It was a strategic maneuver by European interests (the international bankers) who were intent upon gaining a stranglehold on the neck (and the coffers) of America.
The Congress realized our country was in dire financial straits, so they cut a deal with the international bankers — (in those days, the Rothschilds of London were dipping their fingers into everyone's pie) thereby incurring a DEBT to said bankers. If we think about banks, we know they do not just lend us money out of the goodness of their hearts. A bank will not do anything for you unless it is entirely in their best interest to do so. There has to be some sort of collateral or some string attached which puts you and me (the borrower) into a subservient position. This was true back in 1871 as well. The conniving international bankers were not about to lend our floundering nation any money without some serious stipulations. So, they devised a brilliant way of getting their foot in the door of the United States (a prize they had coveted for some time, but had been unable to grasp thanks to our Founding Fathers, who despised them and held them in check), and thus, the Act of 1871 was passed.
In essence, this Act formed the corporation known as THE UNITED STATES. Note the capitalization, because it is important. This corporation, owned by foreign interests, moved right in and shoved the original 'organic' version of the Constitution into a dusty corner. With the 'Act of 1871,' our Constitution was defaced in the sense that the title was block-capitalized and the word 'for' was changed to the word 'of' in the title. The original Constitution drafted by the Founding Fathers, was written in this manner:
'The Constitution for the united states of America.'
The altered version reads: 'THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.' It is the corporate constitution. It is NOT the same document you might think it is. The corporate constitution operates in an economic capacity and has been used to fool the People into thinking it is the same parchment that governs the Republic. It absolutely is not.
Capitalization — an insignificant change? Not when one is referring to the context of a legal document, it isn't. Such minor alterations have had major impacts on each subsequent generation born in this country. What the Congress did with the passage of the Act of 1871 was create an entirely new document, a constitution for the government of the District of Columbia. The kind of government THEY created was a corporation. The new, altered Constitution serves as the constitution of the corporation, and not that of America. Think about that for a moment.
Incidentally, this corporate constitution does not benefit the Republic. It serves only to benefit the corporation. It does nothing good for you or me — and it operates outside of the original Constitution. Instead of absolute rights guaranteed under the 'organic' Constitution, we now have 'relative' rights or privileges. One example of this is the Sovereign's right to travel, which has been transformed under corporate government policy into a 'privilege' which we must be licensed to engage in. This operates outside of the original Constitution.
So, Congress committed TREASON against the People, who were considered Sovereign under the Declaration of Independence and the organic Constitution. When we consider the word 'Sovereign,' we must think about what the word means.
According to Webster's Dictionary, 'sovereign' is defined as: 1. chief or highest; supreme. 2. Supreme in power, superior in position to all others. 3. Independent of, and unlimited by, any other, possessing or entitled to, original and independent authority or jurisdiction.
In other words, our government was created by and for 'sovereigns' — the free citizens who were deemed the highest authority. Only the People can be sovereign — remember that. Government cannot be sovereign. We can also look to the Declaration of Independence, where we read: 'government is subject to the consent of the governed' — that's supposed to be us, the sovereigns. Do you feel like a sovereign nowadays? I don't.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a constitutional historian to figure out that this is not what is happening in our country today. Government in these times is NOT subject to the consent of the governed. Rather, the governed are subject to the whim and greed of the corporation, which has stretched its tentacles beyond the ten-mile-square parcel of land known as the District of Columbia — encroaching into every state of the Republic. Mind you, the corporation has NO jurisdiction outside of the District of Columbia. THEY just want you to think it does.

http://www.serendipity.li/jsmill/us_corporation.htm 

Een aanzienlijk deel van de Amerikaanse bevolking beseft dat het niet in een 'democratie' leeft, tenminste niet in de strikte zin van het woord, maar dat een uiterst kleine elite van rijke burgers de macht in handen heeft, daarbij gesteund door de massamedia die natuurlijk ook in handen zijn van dezelfde elite. Ondanks of beter nog juist dankzij de vele honderden miljoenen kostende propaganda tijdens landelijke verkiezingscampagnes stemt meer dan 40 procent van de kiesgerechtigde burgers al sinds een halve eeuw niet meer. Dat geldt voor de  Congres- en presidentsverkiezingen, het opkomstcijfer bij de staats- en locale verkiezingen zijn nog lager.  De meeste Amerikaanse burgers weten dat stemmen nauwelijks of geen zin heeft, ook al beloven de kandidaten gouden bergen. 'Change we can believe in'? Bij de herverkiezing van Obama bleef 42,5 procent thuis, want huidskleur, godsdienst, politieke gezindheid, het maakt allemaal niets uit, de rijken regeren, en elke Amerikaan weet dit als geen ander. Alleen mainstream-opiniemakers als Geert Mak hebben de mond vol over 'het vitale karakter van de Amerikaanse democratie.' Dankzij dit soort leugens worden de Makkianen op televisie uitgenodigd om daar nog eens hoog op te geven van de 'Amerikaanse democratie.' Dat imperium staat aan het hoofd van wat  Henk Hofland 'het vredestichtende Westen' betitelt. In werkelijkheid is de VS een expansionistische National Security State, die slechts 21 jaar van zijn hele bestaan geen gewelddadig conflict heeft uitgevochten. Wanneer men zijn ogen dicht genoeg knijpt is de mens in staat blind in de grootst mogelijke nonsens te geloven. Degenen die het diepst gelovig zijn mogen in de commerciële massamedia hun geloof komen belijden, terwijl elke twijfel zaaiende dissident als ketter wordt geweerd. En dus kan chef kunst van de 'kwaliteitskrant' NRC/Handelsblad, Raymond van den Boogaard, publiekelijk verklaren dat de VS 'Irak was binnengevallen om er een democratie te vestigen.' De werkelijkheid is natuurlijk ook hier weer fundamenteel anders, zoals wetenschappelijke onderzoekers  en onafhankelijke journalisten gedocumenteerd aantoonden:
Endgame for Iraqi Oil?
By Jack Miles
TomDispatch.com
Wednesday 24 October 2007

The Sovereignty Showdown in Iraq

The oil game in Iraq may be almost up. On September 29th, like a landlord serving notice, the government of Iraq announced that the next annual renewal of the United Nations Security Council mandate for a multinational force in Iraq - the only legal basis for a continuation of the American occupation - will be the last. That was, it seems, the first shoe to fall. The second may be an announcement terminating the little-noticed, but crucial companion Security Council mandate governing the disposition of Iraq's oil revenues. By December 31, 2008, according to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the government of Iraq intends to have replaced the existing mandate for a multinational security force with a conventional bilateral security agreement with the United States, an agreement of the sort that Washington has with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries in the Middle East. The Security Council has always paired the annual renewal of its mandate for the multinational force with the renewal of a second mandate for the management of Iraqi oil revenues. This happens through the 'Development Fund for Iraq,' a kind of escrow account set up by the occupying powers after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime and recognized in 2003 by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483. The oil game will be up if and when Iraq announces that this mandate, too, will be terminated at a date certain in favor of resource-development agreements that - like the envisioned security agreement - match those of other states in the region.

The game will be up because, as Antonia Juhasz pointed out last March in a New York Times op-ed, 'Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?':

'Iraq's neighbors Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have outlawed foreign control over oil development. They all hire international oil companies as contractors to provide specific services as needed, for a limited duration, and without giving the foreign company any direct interest in the oil produced.'

By contrast, the oil legislation oil now pending in the Iraqi parliament awards foreign oil companies coveted, long-term, 20-35 year contracts of just the sort that neighboring oil-producers have rejected for decades. It also places the Iraqi oil industry under the control of an appointed body that would include representatives of international oil companies as full voting members. The news that the duly elected government of Iraq is exercising its
limited sovereignty to set a date for termination of the American occupation radically undercuts all discussion in Congress or by American presidential candidates of how soon the U.S. occupation of Iraq may 'safely' end. Yet if, by the same route, Iraq were to resume full and independent control over the world's third-largest proven oil reserves - 200 to 300 million barrels of light crude worth as much as $30 trillion at today's prices - a politically incorrect question might break rudely out of the Internet universe and into the mainstream media world, into, that is, the open: Has the Iraq war been an oil war from the outset? Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan evidently thought so or so he indicated in a single sentence in his recent memoir: 

'I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.' 

When asked, Gen. John Abizaid, former CENTCOM commander who oversaw three and a half years of the American occupation of Iraq, agreed. 

'Of course it's about oil, we can't really deny that,'

he said during a roundtable discussion at Stanford University. These confessions validated the suspicions of foreign observers too numerous to count. Veteran security analyst Thomas Powers observed in the New York Review of Books recently:

'What it was only feared the Russians might do [by invading Afghanistan in the 1980s] the Americans have actually done - they have planted themselves squarely astride the world's largest pool of oil, in a position potentially to control its movement and to coerce all the governments who depend on that oil. Americans naturally do not suspect their own motives but others do. The reaction of the Russians, the Germans, and the French in the months leading up to the war suggests that none of them wished to give Americans the power which [former National Security Adviser Zbigniew] Brzezinski had feared was the goal of the Soviets.'

Apologists for the war point out lamely that the United States imports only a small fraction of its oil from Iraq, but what matters, rather obviously, is not Iraq's current exports but its reserves. Before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, media mogul Rupert Murdoch said,

'The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil.'

In the twenty-first century's version of the 'Great Game' of nineteenth century imperialism, the Bush administration made a colossal gamble that Iraq could become a kind of West Germany or South Korea on the Persian Gulf - a federal republic with a robust, oil-exporting economy, a rising standard of living, and a set of U.S. bases that would guarantee lasting American domination of the most resource-strategic region on the planet. The political half of that gamble has already been lost, but the Bush administration has proven adamantly unwilling to accept the loss of the economic half, the oil half, without a desperate fight. Perhaps the five super-bases that the U.S. has been constructing in Iraq for as many as 20,000 troops each, plus the super-embassy (the largest on the planet) it has been constructing inside the Green Zone, will suffice to maintain American control over the oil reserves, even in defiance of international law and the officially stated wishes of the Iraqi people - but perhaps not. 

Blackwater and the Sovereignty Showdown

In any case, a kind of slow-motion showdown may lie not so far ahead; and, during the past weeks, we may have been given a clue as to how it could unfold. Recall that after the gunning down of at least 17 Iraqis in a Baghdad square, Prime Minister al-Maliki demanded that the State Department dismiss and punish the trigger-happy private security firm, Blackwater USA, which was responsible for the safety of American diplomatic personnel
in Iraq. He further demanded that the immunity former occupation head L. Paul Bremer III had granted, in 2004, to all such private security firms be revoked. Startled, the Bush administration briefly grounded its diplomatic operations, then defiantly resumed them - with security still provided by Blackwater. Within days, though, Bush found himself face-to-face in New York with al-Maliki for discussions whose topic National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley revealingly named as 'Iraqi sovereignty.' Who would blink first? We're still waiting to see, but in the wake of an Iraqi investigation ended with a demand for $8 million compensation for each of the 17 murdered Baghdadis, Blackwater is reportedly "on its way out" of security responsibility in Iraq, probably by the six-month deadline that al-Maliki has demanded. Despite its disgrace, the well-connected private security company continues to win lucrative State Department security contracts. Blackwater expert Jeremy Scahill told Bill Moyers that losing the Iraq gig would only slightly affect Blackwater's bottom line, but could grievously inconvenience U.S. diplomatic operations in Iraq. In forcing such a crisis on the State Department, the al-Maliki government, whose powerlessness has been an assumption unchallenged from left or right (in or out of Iraq), suddenly looks a good deal stronger. But oil matters more to Washington than Blackwater does. In September, when the effort to enact U.S.-favored oil legislation - a much-announced 'benchmark' of both the White House and Congress - collapsed in Iraq's legislature, the coup de grace seemed to be delivered by a wildcat agreement between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Hunt Oil of Dallas, Texas, headed by Ray L. Hunt, a longtime Bush ally and a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. This agreement, undertaken against the stated wishes of the central government, provides for the separate development of Kurdistan's oil resources and puts the Kurds in blatant, preemptive violation of the pending legislation. It makes, in fact, such a mockery of that legislation that the prospect of its passage before the Development Fund mandate expires is now vanishingly small,

aldus Jack Miles, geen radicale anarchist, maar een 

senior fellow for religious affairs with the Pacific Council on International Relations and professor of English and religious studies at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'God: A Biography, among other works.'


Al deze informatie wordt nagenoeg altijd geweerd uit de mainstream media om voor de hand liggende redenen. Het publiek in een neoliberale 'democratie' mag niet weten dat oorlogen worden gevoerd om de westerse economische elite nog rijker te maken, en daarmee nog machtiger. Het totalitaire systeem duldt geen enkele tegenspraak en daarom schrijft de nestor van de polder-pers, H.J.A. Hofland, die tot grootste journalist van de twintigste eeuw werd uitgeroepen, in De Groene Amsterdammer, een weekblad dat voor kritisch doorgaat, dat 'het Westen [vredestichtend]' is. En niemand van zijn zelfbenoemde 'politiek-literaire elite' in de polder die hem tegenspreekt. Zelfs een poging om onafhankelijk te lijken is niet toegestaan. Alleen op internet kan dit soort informatie geanalyseerd en verspreid worden, en natuurlijk in boeken, zoals in They Were Soldiers (2013) van de Amerikaanse onafhankelijke journaliste dr. Ann Jones. Zij laat zien hoe ook de oorlogsvoering zelf, net als alle andere sectoren van de kapitalistische economie, werd gedereguleerd en geprivatiseerd, waardoor talloze taken van het leger konden worden uitbesteed aan huurlingen, waarvan het aantal na 2001 zo snel toenam dat

in our war zones, they outnumbered uniformed soldiers on the ground. In March 2011, the Department of Defense reported that its soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan numbered 145,000, its contractors 155,000, or 52 percent of the 'workforce' of those wars. The percentage shift as deployments change, making for slippery and often deceptive statistics. For example, the report noted that only 45,000 American troops were then left in Iraq, but it somehow neglected to mention that a shadow army of 64,250 private contractors still remained…

When questioned about its use of the shadowy private contractors to conduct its wars, the Pentagon responded that it needed more manpower and that it was more efficient and economical to hire them and then dismiss them when a job was done, without obligation, benefits, or responsibility.

Kortom, vanwege dezelfde redenen dat in het neoliberale Westen bijna al het werk op contractbasis is, en zo goed als niemand een vaste baan krijgt, omdat dan de werkgever verplicht is zich te houden aan allerlei sociale voorzieningen. Ann Jones:

So strong has the Pentagon's preference for this privatized arrangement been that even when a contractor — Blackwater — faced an investigation for war crimes, or — Blackwater renamed Academi LLC — federal criminal charges for violating 'important laws and regulations concerning how we as a country interact with our international allies and adversaries,' or — Halliburton, for one — simply 'lost' untold millions of taxpayer dollars, it was likely to be handed another multimillion or multibillion dollar no bid contract on the grounds of its 'experience.' 

In 2008, a BBC investigation of American contractors estimated that 'around $23 billion may have been lost, stolen, or just not properly accounted for in Iraq.' Despite such 'carelessness,' private contractors in Iraq to that date had taken home $138 billion in profits, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers, while Halliburton alone snatched $39.5 billion. The wars, it seemed, had become a remarkably efficient engine for transferring the wealth of the nation from the public treasury to the pockets of the already rich. Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman, who chairs the House committee on oversight and government reform, called the contractors' staggering gains possibly 'the largest war profiteering in history.' Could there be any connection between the size of those corporate profits and Washington's patriotic dedication to eternal wartime?


Vaststaat dat de economisch macht miljarden verdient aan oorlogsvoering, en dat het de meest lucratieve business is in de VS, de onbetwiste leider van wat Henk Hofland 'de Vrije Wereld' met hoofdletters noemt. Laat duidelijk zijn dat de propaganda van de mainstream-opiniemakers almaar gevaarlijker en daarmee misdadiger wordt. De spanning die de westerse commerciële massamedia creëren naar aanleiding van de binnenlandse onrust in Oekraïne is alleen maar gunstig voor het militair-industrieel complex, en levensbedreigend voor allereerst de burgerbevolking in Europa, inclusief Rusland, en de VS. En toch blijft de mainstream intelligentsia de spreekbuis van de economische macht. Ian Sinclair, auteur van  The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History of 15 February 2003 schreef 26 april 2014:


In his essential book on UK foreign policy, Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World, historian Mark Curtis notes 'the ideological system promotes one key concept that underpins everything else - the idea of Britain's basic benevolence.' Criticism of foreign policies is possible 'but within narrow limits which show ''exceptions'' to, or "mistakes" in, promoting the rule of basic benevolence.' I would only add one caveat to Curtis's enduring maxim - the ideological system in the UK also promotes the basic benevolence of the United States, our closest ally. And arguably it is the UK's liberal media who are the biggest cheerleaders and apologists of the US as an active and aggressive world power.

Writing about President Obama's State of the Union address in January Simon Tisdall, the Guardian's foreign affairs commentator, explained the speech 'was evidence of unabashed retreat from attachment to the imperious might, the responsibilities and the ideals that once made America an unrivalled and deserving superpower.' Writing two months later, the BBC's North America Editor Mark Mardell argued this retreat was so significant the White House now 'thinks military power is a relic from a past age.' Mardell seems to be unaware the Obama Administration has launched drone attacks on seven nations since coming to office.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38338.htm

Een dag eerder wees de Amerikaanse auteur Sheldon Richman op het volgende:


The U.S. government’s and news media’s demonization of Putin (who’s no saint) should not be allowed to overshadow the fact that America’s rulers have needlessly provoked the Russians, the coup in Kiev being just the latest example. In 1998, the architect of the postwar containment policy, George Kennan, warned that humiliating Russia by expanding NATO 'is a tragic mistake.'

Must we learn this the hard way?

Sheldon Richman is vice president of The Future of Freedom Foundation and editor of FFF's monthly journal, Future of Freedom. For 15 years he was editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38333.htm


Maar in Nederland klinkt alleen de stem van malloten. Zaterdag 12 april 2014 betoogde hoogleraar Europese Studies, en vroegere medewerker van De Groene Amsterdammer, de uiterst ijdele Paul Scheffer in Het Parool: 

Wat in Oekraïne gebeurt, is een wake-up-call. Het is bijna onontkoombaar dat Europa zich moet verplichten meer te doen. We worden nu wel heel hard geconfronteerd met de terugkeer van de geopolitiek. Je kunt je afvragen of er een buitenlands beleid moet komen waarin over alles met meerderheid van stemmen wordt besloten en iedereen aan bijvoorbeeld een militaire missie meedoet. Maar het is nogal een beperkt idee om te denken dat we het allemaal op eigen houtje kunnen oplossen. De roep om 'minder Europa' komt voort uit het gevoel van bedreigde veiligheid. Als Europa buitengrenzen beter bewaakt, kan dat het gevoel van veiligheid juist bevorderen.

De interviewer verzuimde te vragen wie de 'we' zijn, waarop Scheffer zich beroept. In elk geval niet de burgers, want die kunnen alleen de dupe worden van een gewapend conflict met Rusland over Oekraïne. Niet voor niets constateerde Trouw-columnist Ephimenco op 11 maart 2014:

De elite hult Poetin in de lompen van het monster maar de vox populi volgt niet. Mensen weten dat de Krim Russisch was tot het, na een met alcoholica besprenkeld maal, door het Kremlin aan Oekraïne werd geschonken. Het morele oordeel van EU-leiders over Poetin komt op een slecht moment. West-Europeanen zijn uiterst negatief over hun EU-bestuurders en zullen hen binnenkort electoraal afstraffen. Vele Nederlanders kijken met een mengeling van fascinatie en bewondering naar de slimme schaker Poetin.
http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/6849/Sylvain-Ephimenco/article/detail/3610962/2014/03/11/Positief-over-Poetin.dhtml

Ik denk zelfs dat de meeste burgers in de EU niet voor de toetreding van Oekraïne zijn, nu op hen al jarenlang zwaar wordt bezuinigd. Daarom zijn de 'we' bij Scheffer niet de burgers, maar de economische en politieke elite, gesteund door de 'politiek-literaire elite' in de polder die de belangen van de gevestigde orde beschermt en daarvoor beloond wordt met bijvoorbeeld een professoraat. Intussen werken deze intellectuele lichtgewichten mee aan het opvoeren van de spanning. Zaterdag 26 april 2014 luidde de welhaast juichende kop op de voorpagina van het dagblad Trouw

De kou is terug in de Situation Room. President Obama kan putten uit oude doctrine voor zijn omgang met het Rusland van Poetin.


Inclusief de MAD-doctrine, waarbij de twee kern grootmachten elkaar bedreigen met de totale vernietiging en daarmee de vernietiging van de mensheid. Op zijn beurt opent De Telegraaf op de voorpagina


Tijdbom onder vrede Europa 
Russische agressie dreigt over te slaan

Het gevaar dat kruitvat Oekraïne ontploft en de vlam overslaat richting Baltische NAVO-lidstyatren waardoor oorlog in heel Europa dreigt, groeit met het uur.


Of de EU-bevolking van 'Geen Jorwerd zonder Brussel' nu wel of geen oorlog wil, en in het uiterste geval uitgeroeid wenst te worden, speelt geen rol van betekenis, de beslissing valt in Washington en op Wall Street, terwijl mainstream-opiniemakers als Paul Scheffer, Geert Mak, Henk Hofland en al die anderen van de polderpers zullen dit proces blijven legitimeren. 

Professor Paul Scheffer, die precies zijn plaats weet in het bestel, net als die arme sloeber hieronder. 




John Kerry’s Sad Circle to Deceit



Exclusive: Secretary of State John Kerry is framing the Ukraine narrative to make the U.S. side – despite neo-Nazis overthrowing an elected president – the good guys and Russians the bad guys. But Kerry’s strident propaganda is a sad ending to a career that began as a truth-teller, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry

As a young man, John Kerry was thrust into the Vietnam War by old men who lied to the nation out of ideological delusions, political expediency or personal pride. Now, John Kerry has become that old man, either detached from reality or believing he has a right to mislead the American people just like those old men who sent him and so many other young Americans into the bloody jungles of Vietnam nearly a half century ago.
Kerry’s strident April 24 speech about Russia and Ukraine was, in many ways, a replay of his bellicose speech last Aug. 30 about Syria and the mysterious chemical weapons attack of Aug. 21. In both cases, Kerry opted for a one-sided rant over a balanced presentation of the facts; in both cases, he made repeated assertions about what the U.S. government knows without actually providing evidence.
Secretary of State John Kerry speaking about the Ukraine crisis on April 24, 2014.
Secretary of State John Kerry speaking about the Ukraine crisis on April 24, 2014.
Indeed, it seems that whenever Kerry does cite supposed “evidence” that can be checked – like the dubious anti-Semitic fliers distributed in eastern Ukraine or the photos of alleged Russian special forces soldiers who allegedly slipped into Ukraine – the “proof” goes “poof” as Kerry once said in a different context.
For Kerry, playing fast and loose with the truth has become a pattern, so much so that he is quickly shredding the credibility he once had as a brave young naval officer who returned from Vietnam to speak out against the war and as a courageous young senator who investigated serious crimes of state by the Reagan administration, including its tolerance of cocaine trafficking by U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
There were, of course, troubling signs along the way, such as his politically motivated vote in 2002 to let President George W. Bush invade Iraq on baseless claims about hidden WMD stockpiles and Kerry’s weak-kneed 2004 presidential campaign when he let his handlers convince him to hide his honorable past.
The Syrian-Sarin Ruse
But this full-blown Kerry-as-a-neocon-style-warmonger has only emerged since he became Secretary of State on Feb. 1, 2013. It was first fully unveiled in his Aug. 30 speech calling on the nation to support a bombing campaign against Syria for a sarin attack nine days earlier.
Given what we now know about the Syrian sarin attack – that the who-done-it is a far more complex mystery than what Kerry presented as a rationalization for war – it is worth looking back at what Kerry told the American people on Aug. 30.
Kerry pretended that the U.S. government had released a trove of detailed evidence proving that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack. He even urged Americans to read the evidence for themselves. He said:
“That’s why this morning’s release of our government’s unclassified estimate of what took place in Syria is so important. Its findings are as clear as they are compelling. I’m not asking you to take my word for it. Read for yourself, everyone, those listening.
“All of you, read for yourselves the evidence from thousands of sources, evidence that is already publicly available, and read for yourselves the verdict reached by our intelligence community about the chemical weapons attack the Assad regime inflicted on the opposition and on opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods in the Damascus suburbs on the early morning of August 21st. … We have taken unprecedented steps to declassify and make facts available to people who can judge for themselves.”
The problem with Kerry’s generous offer was that the Obama administration had declassified not a shred of evidence relating to the Syrian government’s alleged guilt, nothing that could be independently checked and verified.
Its four-page white paper was simply a series of assertions that had been carefully packaged as a “Government Assessment,” a sleight-of-hand trick to avoid a more formal National Intelligence Estimate which would have had to include dissents from U.S. intelligence analysts, some of whom had grave doubts about the administration’s rush to judgment.
There were other problems with Kerry’s case, including the lack of motive for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to launch the sarin attack outside Damascus just as United Nations inspectors were arriving to investigate an earlier chemical attack that Assad was blaming on the rebels. The Aug. 21 attack was sure to divert the inspectors (as it did) and was sure to provoke the U.S. government to claim that President Barack Obama’s “red line” had been crossed, thus possibly bringing the U.S. military into the civil war on the side of the rebels (which it almost did).
Evidentiary Problems
But that was only the beginning of the problems with the U.S. government’s case. Though Kerry and other U.S. officials cited a Syrian government bombardment with multiple rockets carrying sarin, the UN inspectors would ultimately recover only two suspect rockets, and one, which landed in Moadimiya, was found to have no sarin or other chemical agents. Only the one rocket landing in the Zamalka area was found to contain sarin.
And, much like former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who claimed to know where Iraq’s WMD sites were located before the Iraq War, Kerry insisted that he knew where the Syrian rockets originated. He declared: “We know where the rockets were launched from and at what time. We know where they landed and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.”
As part of its white paper, the U.S. government distributed a map supposedly showing the areas controlled by the government and neighborhoods in rebel hands, where the multiple rockets supposedly landed. The problem with this claim was that rocket scientists later determined that the one sarin-laden rocket had a maximum range of only about two kilometers, meaning that it would likely have been fired from a rebel-controlled zone.
One of those rocket scientists, MIT’s Theodore Postol, told MintPress News that “According to our analysis, I would not … claim that I know who executed the attack, but it’s very clear that John Kerry had very bad intelligence at best or, at worst, lied about the intelligence he had.”
Postol compared Kerry’s presentation to the Bush-43 administration’s assertions about Iraq possessing WMD in 2002-03 and the Johnson administration citing the Gulf of Tonkin incident to justify escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964. Postol also noted the failure of the U.S. press to question the U.S. government’s accusations against Syria.
“To me, the fact that people are not focused on how the [Obama] administration lied is very disturbing and shows how far the community of journalists and the community of so-called security experts has strayed from their responsibility,” Postol said. “The government so specifically distorted the evidence that it presented a very real danger to the country and the world. I am concerned about the collapse of traditional journalism and the future of the country.”
Though the U.S. “Government Assessment” was largely a propaganda document, it did include one footnote that U.S. intelligence analysts embedded in the map of the Damascus area (perhaps so it couldn’t be easily removed), explaining why the initial reports of about a dozen targets may have been exaggerated. The footnote read:
“Reports of chemical attacks originating from some locations may reflect the movement of patients exposed in one neighborhood to field hospitals and medical facilities in the surrounding area. They may also reflect confusion and panic triggered by the ongoing artillery and rocket barrage, and reports of chemical use in other neighborhoods.”
The Death Toll
However, in his Aug. 30 speech, Kerry expressed his case for Syrian government guilt with such certainty that he left no room for doubt, even offering a curiously precise figure for the number of people killed.
Kerry declared, “The United States Government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children. Even the first responders, the doctors, nurses, and medics who tried to save them, they became victims themselves. We saw them gasping for air, terrified that their own lives were in danger. This is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons. This is what Assad did to his own people.”
But the U.S.-claimed death toll surprised those first responders who estimated the casualties in the range of several hundred. Later, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama administration had reached its oddly precise number by applying facial recognition software to YouTube videos showing people in bloodless shrouds and then subtracting those that appeared more than once.
The problems with this “methodology” were multiple. First, you’d have to assume that all the YouTube videos were from the aftermath of the Aug. 21 attack, not from some earlier incident. Then, you’d have to assume that the lack of blood on the shrouds was proof of death from sarin when there could be many other causes of death that would not leave a bloody shroud. Despite Kerry’s bold assertion on the 1,429 number, there were no autopsies to support that figure.
Kerry insisted, too, that the Syrian government tightly restricted where the UN inspectors could go. But that made little sense because all the alleged impact sites were in rebel-controlled areas.
When the UN inspectors issued their first report in mid-September, they revealed how dependent they were on Syrian rebels for access to the areas of the alleged sarin attacks and to witnesses. One rebel commander was even asked to take “custody” of the UN inspection.
“An elaborate information exchange took place between UNOJSR [the UN team] and key representatives of the opposition. The information gathered through these exchanges would be used to formulate an action plan for the upcoming visit, which became very critical to the success of the mission,” the UN report said.
“The point of contact within the opposition was used to ensure the security and movement of the Mission, to facilitate the access to the most critical cases/witnesses to be interviewed and sampled by the Mission and to control patients and crowd in order for the Mission to focus on its main activities.”
While at these suspected attack sites, the inspectors also detected signs that evidence had apparently been “moved” and “possibly manipulated.” In other words, contrary to Kerry’s public assertions, it was the rebels who managed the movements of the UN inspectors, not the Assad regime. [For the latest on this sarin controversy, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Was Turkey Behind Syria-Sarin Attack?”]
Sinking Credibility
So, Kerry’s credibility on an issue of war or peace in Syria was right up there with President Lyndon Johnson’s on the Gulf of Tonkin or President George W. Bush’s on Iraq’s WMD. Though many lives were in the balance if the United States had launched the planned massive bombing campaign against Syria, Kerry made his case as an unscrupulous prosecutor piling up half-truths, untruths and unverified assertions.
It is perhaps not a coincidence that the principal world figure who steered President Obama away from Kerry’s hotly desired war last September was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arranged for Syria’s Assad to agree to surrender his entire chemical weapons arsenal even as Assad continued to deny any role in the Aug. 21 attack which he blamed on the rebels as a ploy to pull the U.S. military into the conflict.
By late September, leading American neocons were angry, too, frustrated that their hope for “regime change” in Syria had been blocked by Putin, who was also helping Obama hammer out a negotiated settlement to the Iranian nuclear dispute (and thus negate neocon hopes for another bombing campaign). The neocons began taking aim at this new adversary by targeting Ukraine, an important country on Russia’s border.
Carl Gershman, a leading neocon and longtime president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed page of the neocon-flagship Washington Post to urge the U.S. government to push European “free trade” agreements on Ukraine and other former Soviet states and thus counter Moscow’s efforts to maintain close relations with those countries.
The ultimate goal, according to Gershman, was isolating and possibly toppling Putin in Russia with Ukraine the key piece on this global chessboard. “Ukraine is the biggest prize,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
In furtherance of these goals, NED funded a staggering 65 projects in Ukraine, training activists, financing “journalists” and organizing business groups, according to NED’s annual report.
The Ukraine Context
In other words, the events that played out in Ukraine in fall 2013 and winter 2014 had a context. American neocons were furious at Putin for undercutting their plans for more “regime change” in the Middle East, and Kerry had ended up looking like a belligerent fool on Syria as he made the case for war but then saw Putin intervene.
Although Ukrainian citizens had legitimate beefs against their government and their elected President Viktor Yanukovych, the U.S. government – or at least Kerry’s State Department and Kerry’s neocon friends – kept up their own pressure for “regime change.”  Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, a neocon from the ranks of Foreign Service officers, worked hand-in-glove with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt to encourage the anti-government protests in Kiev’s Maidan.
Nuland, the wife of neocon star Robert Kagan (a founder of the Project for the New American Century), literally passed out cookies to demonstrators and reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the U.S. government had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations.” In an intercepted phone call, she discussed with Pyatt her desire to see Arseniy Yatsenyuk installed as the new leader once Yanukovych was removed.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, Kerry’s old chum who had shepherded Kerry’s nomination to head the State Department, also showed up at the Maidan sharing a podium with the right-wing Svoboda party under its banners honoring Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator from World War II whose paramilitary force helped exterminate Jews and Poles in an effort to achieve Ukrainian ethnic purity.
The reality of the Maidan was that most of the protesters appeared to be citizens rallying against government corruption and hoping for a more European future. Kiev, after all, is in Ukraine’s west where pro-European sentiment is strongest. But an important element of the Maidan uprising was the role played by the neo-Nazi militias, who were well-organized in 100-man units and who had secured weapons from looting a government arsenal.
These neo-Nazis moved to the forefront of the protests as things turned violent and after a still-mysterious sniper shooting that killed both demonstrators and police. U.S. officials and media blamed Yanukovych but he denied issuing such an order and some suspicion has fallen on a  possible neo-Nazi sniper team seeking to enflame violence.
In an effort to tamp down that violence, Yanukovych signed an agreement on Feb. 21 brokered by three European governments in which he agreed to limit his powers, accept early elections to vote him out of office, and pull back police. It was that last move, however, that opened the way for the neo-Nazi militias to seize government buildings on Feb. 22 and force Yanukovych and many of his officials to flee for their lives.
Immediately, the U.S. State Department hailed the “pro-democracy” coup and recognized the coup regime as the legitimate new leaders of Ukraine. However, the neo-Nazi storm troopers were an inconvenient reality.
A senior international diplomat who has been on scene in Ukraine told me that Western countries moved quickly to organize a new government under U.S. favorite Yatsenyuk because otherwise these unsavory far-right thugs would have been in total control. The neo-Nazis did get four ministries, including national security, and many of the neo-Nazi militias were then “legitimized” by being incorporated into the National Guard.
East Ukrainian Uprising
The installation of the coup regime in Kiev prompted resistance from Crimea and eastern Ukraine where Yanukovych had his electoral base. The Crimean parliament hastily arranged a referendum on secession and the official results showed 96 percent of the voters favoring rejoining Russia, an annexation which rapidly followed.
Pro-Russian demonstrators also rose up in eastern Ukraine seeking either a federalized state granting their regions substantial autonomy or a referendum on breaking away from western Ukraine and joining Russia.
However, Kerry, along with virtually the entire U.S. news media and officialdom, has presented the Ukrainian narrative as simply a case of Russia plotting to seize territory and acting as outside agitators to stir up the otherwise happy Ukrainian population. Yet, as with the Syrian sarin case, there has been a problem with actual evidence.
Last week, at a Geneva conference called to reduce tensions in Ukraine, Kerry instead exacerbated them with a claim about pro-Russian demonstrators in eastern Ukraine threatening local Jews.
“Just in the last couple of days, notices were sent to Jews in one city indicating that they had to identify themselves as Jews. And obviously, the accompanying threat implied is – or threatened – or suffer the consequences, one way or the other,” Kerry said.
However, in the days before Kerry spoke, the distribution of those leaflets in Donetsk had already been denounced as a black-propaganda hoax designed to discredit the pro-Russian protesters. Among those denying the legitimacy of the fliers was Denis Pushilin, the person whose name was signed at the bottom. He termed the fliers a “provocation” concocted by pro-coup operatives.
Although the authenticity of the fliers already had been publicly disputed, Kerry still cited them, without noting the denials about their authorship. He seemed to be back on message, using whatever gasoline he could throw on the fire.
Then, there was the case of Kerry’s State Department palming off photos to the New York Times that supposedly showed Russian soldiers “clearly” in Russia and then later in towns in eastern Ukraine. However, it soon turned out that a key photo, purportedly snapped in Russia, was actually taken in Ukraine, destroying the principal claim of the photo spread. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Retracts Russian Photo Scoop.”]
Sticking to His Story
Despite that embarrassment, Kerry still cited these photos in his April 24 speech as proof that Russian special forces were operating inside Ukraine. “Some of the individual special operations personnel, who were active on Russia’s behalf in Chechnya, Georgia, and Crimea have been photographed in Slovyansk, Donetsk, and Luhansk,” he declared.
Much of the rest of Kerry’s tough talk also should be placed in the context of his now tattered credibility. As with his Aug. 30 call to arms against Syria, Kerry cited information that was either in serious dispute or couldn’t be verified independently.
But there was also a bombastic, propagandistic tone to almost everything coming out of his mouth, an arrogance that some of us are old enough to remember in the days of the Vietnam War when the U.S. side always wore “white hats” and the other side always wore “black hats.”
In the Ukraine context, of course, the neo-Nazi brown shirts who spearheaded the coup on Feb. 22 have been thoroughly whitewashed from the acceptable U.S. media/government narrative. The overthrow of a democratically elected president has been rehabilitated as a “pro-democracy” exercise. Yanukovych’s supporters in eastern Ukraine who are resisting the imposition of authority by the coup regime in Kiev are now dubbed “terrorists.”
And, for good measure, Kerry sneered: “Russia is actually mystified to see Ukraine’s neighbors and likeminded free people all over the world united with Ukrainians who want to build a better life and choose their leaders for themselves, by themselves.”
Much as we were told that no one should question the secret U.S. evidence on the Syrian chemical incident, Kerry continued, “Nobody should doubt Russia’s hand in this. …
“Our intelligence community tells me that Russia’s intelligence and military intelligence services and special operators are playing an active role in destabilizing eastern Ukraine with personnel, weapons, money, operational planning, and coordination. The Ukrainians have intercepted and publicized command-and-control conversations from known Russian agents with their separatist clients in Ukraine. …And we’ve seen weapons and gear on the separatists that matches those worn and used by Russian special forces.”
Though it is surely possible that Russian special forces are operating in eastern Ukraine – despite the Russian government’s denials – Kerry has presented no evidence to prove his point. Indeed, the evidence that his State Department has put forth, as in the Russian photos, turned out to be bogus.
Yet, what has gripped Official Washington and the U.S. news media is a full-blown “group think.” The facts and context of the Ukrainian events have been forgotten or bowdlerized to such an extent that the American people are being systematically misled. Whenever the fuller context is mentioned, it is dismissed as “the Russian narrative.”
We have seen this movie many times before – as has John Kerry – when the American people were snookered into the Vietnam War via the Gulf of Tonkin deception, when we were sold on Iraq’s non-existent WMD, and when we were told “facts” about the Syrian gas attack that have since proved false, just to name a few of the times propaganda has dominated American discourse around war or peace.
Sadly, John Kerry seems to be completing the circle of his public career by becoming as an old man what the young John Kerry bravely spoke against.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.


U.S. NEWS

 
04.26.14

Green Politics Has to Get More Radical, Because Anything Less Is Impractical

Green campaigning today is totally unsuited to political and economic realities. Where is the vision in environmental radicalism? Only by thinking very big will we save the world.
It’s natural to see US inaction on climate change as another symptom of ourbroken politics. The United Nations’ climate change panel has announced the world needs major US emissions controls on greenhouse gases to avoid global catastrophe. It didn’t happen when the Democrats controlled Congress, and it isn’t any more likely in this Congress, which is well stocked with climate-change deniers.
That isn’t the whole story, though. The whole story is worse. Doing something about it will be much harder than even “fixing Washington.” Mainstream environmental politics, which took shape around an old generation of problems and has had the radicalism bred out of it in favor of pragmatism, is not doing to be much help.  Ironically, recovering a more radical strand of environmental politics may be the practical way to get a grip on the new challenges of climate change.
The latter is happening amid a perfect storm of problems that all have the same basic logic: a system that was supposed to be self-correcting turns out not to be. In economic life, market signals ignore greenhouse gases, so the carbon economy keeps accumulating wealth. The market is systematically failing in a time when there seem to be no alternatives to capitalism. 
Politically, Washington’s dysfunction is echoed in Brussels, Delhi, and Beijing; there are global doubts about governance, just when it is most needed. And now we’ve learned from Thomas Piketty that capitalism may tend to produce Gilded Ages rather than middle-class societies.
Put together a world set up to enrich the carbon economy with a political system that rewards wealth, and you get, not just an oligarchy, but a carbon oligarchy. Political dysfunction and economic dysfunction reinforce each other to drive ecological dysfunction.
Our economic and political systems work on the theory that if people pursue their self-interest, the overall result will be roughly good for everyone. This has always been questionable, but now it looks plain self-undermining. We know what we need to do—a global transition away from carbon—and we know why we won’t do it: because in a system in which everyone acts selfishly, from individuals to corporations to party leaders, no one takes on the costly decisions that could make the system itself sustainable. 
It isn’t surprising that traditional environmentalism has not been very effective at changing this bleak picture. It was born in the 1960s and 1970s, with tremendous but somewhat short-lived success, to address very different problems. 
“Environmental politics has worked best when people find both something to fear and something to love, a possible world they want to inhabit.”
Although the Earth flag first appeared then, the problems were national, not global. When the Clean Air Act passed the Senate unanimously in 1970, squeaking through the House 375-1, cross-border pollution was hardly in anyone’s mind.
Because greenhouse gases disperse evenly through the atmosphere and stay there for centuries, there are huge barriers to global cooperation. From the point of view of the US, with 5 percent of global population, 95 percent of the benefits of any emissions reduction go to foreigners, most of whom haven’t even been born yet.
The pollution that 1970s environmentalism targeted was also more concrete. Poison comes out of a smokestack and, downwind, birds fall from the sky. Factories pipe their waste into Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River until one day it catches fire. But greenhouse gases aren’t poisons, and they aren’t unnatural. They belong in the atmosphere; it’s just that their rising levels throw off our familiar climate balance.
The harms of climate change are remote and ambiguous, so it’s easy to deny responsibility for them. We know exactly which leaking tank polluted drinking water in southern West Virginia earlier this year. It’s impossible, though, to trace a super-storm to any power plant, or any country’s emissions, or even the global emissions of any one decade. No one in particular causes any of the harms of climate change. According to our standard instincts about responsibility, either we are all innocent or we are all guilty. So far, we seem to be enjoying the presumption of innocence. We live like climate change deniers even if we say, and mean, that we believe in it.
So the environmentalism that once worked so well is stymied by climate change. Environmental politics looks set to be drowned in the general dysfunction. But the barriers to addressing climate change don’t show that it is impossible, only that the stakes are very high. If we succeed, we will become different people in the process. Environmental politics has reinvented itself before while grappling with new challenges, and it has contributed to changing people. That could happen again.
The environmentalism of the early 1970s was not just a pragmatic response to a technical problem. It wrote new laws for a new worldview. In the mid-twentieth century, with help from scientist-writers such as Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold, Americans learned to see the natural world in a new way: deeply interconnected, intrinsically valuable, resilient but also fragile. Americans learned to look at a smokestack and see dying trees and fish downwind. They learned that a burning Cuyahoga was not just a light show—it had burned several times in the twentieth century, without inspiring calls for change—but a symptom of a poisoned ecosystem. An eye that sees ecologically takes in a different world. It was a new, ecological eye that saw new kinds of harms and legislated to cure them.
That wasn’t the first transformation in vision to shape environmental politics. For centuries, colonists and early Americans hated and feared “wilderness.” Then outdoor movements like the early Sierra Club and images like the grand landscape paintings of the Hudson River School taught them to find inspiration in wild lands. Pioneers waged wars of extermination against wolves and other predators. Now the Endangered Species Act (which passed the House 355-4 in 1973) enshrines a national commitment to biodiversity.
Part the challenge of climate change is to learn to see the connection between our everyday lives and the global atmosphere. The task is to see the harm in what now seems harmless. Not so long ago, dams and smokestacks were symbols of progress. Maybe we can learn to see our power sources, too, as choking the natural world.
We shouldn’t just feel bad about the harm we do. Environmental politics has worked best when people find both something to fear—pollution, resource exhaustion, climate catastrophe—and something to love, a possible world they want to inhabit. The Clean Water Act (1972, 247-23 in the House, overriding a Nixon veto) set out a new way of valuing waterways: not just as industrial channels, but as the bloodstreams of the natural world. Maybe somewhere in satellite images of the planet and the science of atmospheric chemistry is a new sense of beauty, a way of appreciating the planet’s systems as passionately as some of us do Yosemite or our own home landscapes.
Maybe the most important thing to remember about earlier environmentalism is not a limit but a strength. Before environmental politics became technocratic in the 1990s, it raised basic questions. Should we be aiming for something better than eternal economic growth (which is ecologically impossible anyway)? Should we instead want an economy with less resource use, less desperate competition, and more intrinsic satisfaction in both the natural world and one another—more contemplation and collaboration and play? Should we doubt whether individual self-interest serve us as well in the hyper-complex, ecologically fragile, infinitely interdependent twenty-first century as it (arguably) did in the eighteenth and nineteenth?
In short, both markets and democracy have reached a point where they are producing problems they can’t solve. We have to reinvent them in order to save them. We need a politics that crosses national borders and the borders between generations. Already young climate activists are saying about Bangladeshis and the people of the twenty-third century, “They are us.” Such solidarity turns a fragmenting problem into a potentially common thing. From patriotism to religious ties to humanitarianism, learning to see ourselves as bound by a shared condition is a key resource for cooperation.
We also need to cross the boundary between environmental and non-environmental issues.  Climate change is ecological but also economic, social, and political. Twentieth-century activists invented “the environment” to save it, welding together a set of pollution and public-health problems with an older American politics about public lands and Romantic landscapes to include, more or less, the issues that motivate the modern Sierra Club.  Now the world has to invent a new politics for a truly planetary problem, in equal parts about the shape of the economy and the shape of the natural world.
The most basic challenge may be to cross the boundary between self-interest and our common interest in the systems that have to work if people are to survive and even thrive. Solving collective-action problems like climate change takes pragmatic effort, but also imagination. 
The United States began as a collective-action problem: After Independence, thirteen semi-autonomous states split over taxation, trade, and foreign affairs. Each one had good reason to spin off and protect its own interests, even though cooperation would be better for everyone—just like with climate change. Early Americans had to invent America to become it. Now everyone has to invent a world that is worth becoming.

AFP/Getty
eff

WORLD NEWS

 
04.25.14

The Big Weapons that the U.S. May Be Secretly Supplying to the Syrian Rebels

New evidence suggests the U.S. may be secretly giving heavy weapons to Syrian rebels to turn the tide of the war. Here’s what those weapons can do and how much difference they’ll make.
After years of grinding civil war, the Syrian battlefield has seen a wide array of weapons employed by the rebel factions fighting Assad. From antiquated World War II rifles to homemade mortars, the rebels have used everything at their disposal, but recently the appearance of American anti-tank weapons in the northern town of Heesh has many wondering if the United States is finally about to supply the rebels with the heavy weapons, including shoulder-fired MANPADs, needed to counter Assad’s mechanized and airborne forces.
In early April, YouTube videos showed American made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank rocket systems in the hands of Harakat Hazm, a group of moderate Syrian rebels. It’s not confirmed who provided the weapons but they could have come directly from the United States, which has been vague about the exact nature of its support for the rebels. Another possibility is that they reached Syria indirectly and were provided by a country like Saudi Arabia that supports anti-Assad forces in Syria and has its own stock of the weapons that it purchased from the U.S. in the past.
Powerful new weapons suddenly appearing this late in the conflict has generated discussion on whether or not the United States is preparing to send or sponsor the shipment of more advanced weapons into the hands of Syrian rebels. With diplomatic efforts stalled and Assad’s military continuing to use devastating weapons like homemade barrel bombs and, according to some reports, employing improvised chemical weapons, the introduction of advanced U.S. weapons could shift the dynamic in the war and give the rebels better odds.
Wednesday, NPR reported that the CIA plans to send more arms and training to Syrian rebels and that 50 TOW missile systems had been sent to Harakat Hazam as a part of a “test” or pilot program. Yet, when asked specifically about the deal, National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan kept her response vague. “As we have consistently said, we are not going to detail every single type of our assistance,” Meehan said.
While the TOW missile system is effective against ground targets it won’t help the rebels stop air attacks by Assad’s forces. Those advocating more direct assistance to the rebels have long called for arming the rebels with weapons that could be used against the Assad regime’s aircraft but the U.S. has been hesitant to send those systems. The biggest obstacle to arming the rebels with Man portable surface-to-air missile systems, or MANPADs as the anti-air missiles are known, is the fear that they could be used outside of Syria’s war in a terrorist attack against commercial aircraft. MANPADs have been around for decades, and became a household name after the CIA supplied millions of dollars’ worth to Afghan Mujahedeen fighting the Soviets in the 1980s.
It’s the memory of supplying anti-air Stinger missiles to the Mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan that haunts many of the people who oppose sending similar weapons to the Syrian rebels. In Afghanistan, many of the Stingers given to Mujahedeen were lost in the din of the conflict and wound up in the hands of terrorist organizations after a CIA buyback program failed to regain them at the end of the war.
“That’s a pretty dangerous weapon to have running around out there, you can easily take down an airliner with an operational system.”
“That’s a pretty dangerous weapon to have running around out there, you can easily take down an airliner with an operational system,” said David Maxwell, the associate director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University. “You’re basically locking on to a heat source, and once it does that it, you fire and it tracks that heat source.”
For now though, the TOW is the heaviest American-made weapon seen on the Syrian battlefield.
“It’s a relatively expensive weapon for infantry,” Maxwell said. “It’s not some fire-and-forget weapon.”
According to Jane’s, a publication specializing in information about global weapons, the TOW missile system was originally fielded by the United States in 1970 and has gone through multiple variations since. The acronym TOW stands for Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire command link-guided missile. But the current TOW fielded by the U.S. military no longer has a wire command-linked warhead, instead using an infrared aiming system. Syrian rebels, however, appear to be operating an older version of the system, as screen grabs indicate that the warhead is still wire-guided. These days the TOW is used by more than 30 countries and has been cloned by Iran and is known as the Toophan.
While large, the TOW is surprisingly easy to employ and maintain. Jane’s U.S. Army statistics indicate that the system has a success rate of 93 percent in more that 12,000 test fires.
“Someone who has no training but knows how to use a sight and trigger can be fairly accurate with [the TOW],” said Sean Feely a TOW gunner with 1st Battalion 3rd Marines, who fought in the second battle of Fallujah in 2004. “As long as you keep the target in your crosshairs, you’re fine.”
Feely also indicated that the TOW was reliable, citing he had never seen a misfire during his four-year enlistment. “Not much the user has to do to keep it functioning besides keep it dust-free and the [sight] lens clean,” Feely said.
Yet, for all the noise generated over the appearance of the TOW in Syria, U.S.-supplied weapons still haven’t made a proven impact in the course of the war.
One of the primary ways the rebels have been able to re-arm and refit over the past three years without significant foreign aid has been through “battlefield pickups,” i.e. taking equipment left over from skirmishes with the Syrian Army.  
Thursday, a video showed Syrian rebels purportedly doing just that in the Darwaa province near the Jordanian border. Rebels pick through what looks to be a Syrian Army artillery position  and are seen recovering what appears to be a working Russian T-55 medium tank, at least three Russian 122mm D-30 howitzer artillery guns, a ZPU-4 23mm towed anti-aircraft gun, and two SA-7 Grail MANPADs.
As munitions constantly change hands and Americans appear to be entering the fray in a more public fashion, Maxwell believes that it will take a lot more than American arms to stop the violence in Syria.
“I don’t think the rebels in their current state, even with the TOWs and MANPADs, that they would be able to build up a force to defeat the Syrian Army,” Maxwell said. “Are TOWs and MANPADs on such a small scale a game changer? Probably not.”