Doorgaan naar hoofdcontent

Frank Westerman's Provinciale Schrijverij 20

Carl Sagan was an astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, skeptic and critical thinker. He was the Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the American space program and was a consultant and adviser to NASA since the late 1950’s. He was also responsible for briefing the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon. Many of you might know him from some of his bestselling books, like Cosmos, which was in fact the bestselling science book ever published in the English language.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark is a 1995 book by astrophysicist Carl Sagan, in which Sagan aims to explain the scientific method to laypeople, and to encourage people to learn critical and skeptical thinking. He explains methods to help distinguish between ideas that are considered valid science and those that can be considered pseudoscience. Sagan states that when new ideas are offered for consideration, they should be tested by means of skeptical thinking and should stand up to rigorous questioning.

In The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, dat een jaar voor zijn dood in 1996 verscheen, merkte Sagan op: 

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled (misleid. svh) long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

De misleiding door westerse ‘charlatans’ als Frank Westerman en Geert Mak bewijzen het gelijk van Carl Sagan. Doordat opiniemakers via de massamedia een zeker prestige hebben opgebouwd bezitten zij macht en vormen zodoende een gevaar voor de samenleving als geheel. Dat bleek opnieuw door de demonisering van de nucleaire grootmacht Rusland, waaraan ook Westerman en Mak zich schuldig maakten. Het systematisch afschilderen van de Russische Federatie als een bedreiging van de mensheid maakt de geesten rijp voor een gewapend conflict. In The New York Review of Books van 14 juli 2016 schreef de gouverneur van Californië Jerry Brown in een recensie  van William Pery’s boek My Journey at the Nuclear Brink (2015):

I know of no person who understands the science and politics of modern weaponry better than William J. Perry, the US Secretary of Defense from 1994 to 1997. When a man of such unquestioned experience and intelligence issues the stark nuclear warning that is central to his recent memoir, we should take heed. Perry is forthright when he says: ‘Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.’ He also tells us that the nuclear danger is ‘growing greater every year’ and that even a single nuclear detonation ‘could destroy our way of life.’

In clear, detailed but powerful prose, Perry’s new book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, tells the story of his seventy-year experience of the nuclear age. Beginning with his firsthand encounter with survivors living amid ‘vast wastes of fused rubble’ in the aftermath of World War II, his account takes us up to today when Perry is on an urgent mission to alert us to the dangerous nuclear road we are traveling.

Reflecting upon the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Perry says it was then that he first understood that the end of all of civilization was now possible, not merely the ruin of cities. He took to heart Einstein’s words that ‘the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything, save our modes of thinking.’ He asserts that it is only ‘old thinking’ that persuades our leaders that nuclear weapons provide security, instead of understanding the hard truth that ‘they now endanger it.’

Perry does not use his memoir to score points or settle grudges. He does not sensationalize. But, as a defense insider and keeper of nuclear secrets, he is clearly calling American leaders to account for what he believes are very bad decisions, such as the precipitous expansion of NATO, right up to the Russian border, and President George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, originally signed by President Nixon.

In his foreword to the book, George P. Shultz describes Perry as a man of ‘absolute integrity.’ His record is remarkable: Ph.D. in mathematics, vast technical training and experience in high-tech business, management of research and weapons acquisition as an undersecretary of defense under President Carter, and deputy secretary and then secretary of defense under Bill Clinton.

Brown kwalificeerde Perry’s boek over ‘the business of mass destruction’ kortweg ‘Een Doordringende Nucleaire Waarschuwing,’ maar kennelijk nog steeds niet doordringend genoeg wanneer ‘we’ uitgaan van het feit dat de commerciële pers onweersproken doorgaat met haar levensgevaarlijk manicheïsme. Daarentegen gaat een deskundige als de voormalige Amerikaanse minister van Defensie William Perry ervan uit dat er geen ‘acceptable defense' bestaat 'against a mass nuclear attack,’ aangezien dit een nucleaire holocaust veroorzaakt. In zijn bespreking stelt gouverneur Brown dat:

[a]s much as anyone, Perry is aware of the ways, secret and public, that technical innovation, private profit and tax dollars, civilian gadgetry and weapons of mass destruction, satellite technology, computers, and ever-expanding surveillance are interconnected. But he now uses this dark knowledge in an effort to reverse the deadly arms race in which he had such a pivotal role.

En dit alles terwijl ook:

Perry says it was by luck that we avoided a nuclear holocaust in the Cuban crisis. Years later, we found out that there were some additional and dangerous circumstances that might have pushed us into nuclear war.

First, Perry writes, the Soviet ships approaching the blockade imposed by the US had submarine escorts that were armed with nuclear torpedoes. Because of the difficulty with communications, Moscow had authorized the submarine commanders to fire without further authorization. When an American destroyer tried to force a submarine to surface, both its captain and the political officer decided to fire a nuclear torpedo at the destroyer. A nuclear confrontation was avoided only because Vasili Arkhipov, the overall commander of the fleet, was also present on the submarine. He countermanded the order to launch, thereby preventing what might have started a nuclear war.

Second, during the crisis, an American reconnaissance plane stationed in Europe wandered off course and flew into Soviet airspace. The Soviets immediately scrambled attack aircraft as did American fighters from an airbase in Alaska. The Americans were armed with nuclear-tipped missiles. Fortunately, the American reconnaissance pilot discovered he had blundered into Soviet airspace and flew away before any Soviet intercepts arrived.

At about the same time an American ICBM was launched from Vandenberg Air Base. Though this was a routine launch intended as a test, it could have easily been misinterpreted by the Soviets. Luckily, it wasn’t.

Tragically, despite coming so close to nuclear annihilation, the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States did not make any effort to slow nuclear competition; they did just the opposite. Perry sees here the operation of “surreal…thinking” utterly at odds with the new reality of nuclear weapons. Yes, the hotline between Washington and Moscow was established, but otherwise strategic thinking in both the US and the Soviet Union went on as though nothing had happened.

Perry points out several particularly troubling aspects of the crisis. There were, he writes, advisers on both the Soviet and US sides who wanted to rush into war. The media, for their part, treated the crisis as ‘a drama of “winning” and “losing.”’ Finally he observes that political leaders seemed to gain approval with the public based on their willingness to initiate a war.

As a result, an even more sophisticated competition began, in nuclear warheads and in the vehicles to deliver them. Dean Rusk, the US secretary of state at the time, triumphantly declared that “we’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.”4 If that was meant to imply that America had won, he was wrong. The Soviets just stepped up their nuclear efforts and so did the US, each building thousands of dangerous nuclear devices that if ever used could obliterate large swaths of humanity.

Perry candidly recognizes that the nuclear threat also meant very good business for defense laboratories such as his own employer, Sylvania.

Perry beseft het belang van Eisenhower’s waarschuwing uit 1961 voor de groeiende macht van wat de Amerikaanse president het militair-industrieel complex noemde. Brown over Perry: 

Although he didn’t believe that nuclear deterrence required that we match our adversary weapon for weapon, he acceded to the political pressure to keep up with the other guy. Then as now, Perry writes, he believed that America would possess all the deterrence it needs with just one leg of the so-called triad: the Trident submarine. It is very difficult for armies to track and destroy it, and it contains more than enough firepower to act as a deterrent. The bombers provide only an insurance policy for the unlikely contingency of a temporary problem with the Trident force, and also have a dual role in strengthening our conventional forces. Our ICBM force is in his mind redundant. Indeed the danger of starting an accidental nuclear war as a result of a false alarm outweighs its deterrent value.

Many experts agree, but presidents follow the political and highly dangerous path of sizing our nuclear force to achieve ‘parity’ with Russia. Such a competitive and mindless process always leads to escalation without end.

Perry tells us that parity is ‘old thinking’ because nuclear weapons can’t actually be used — the risk of uncontrollable and catastrophic escalation is too high. They are only good for threatening the enemy with nuclear retaliation. Our submarine force, equipped with nuclear weapons, is virtually invulnerable and can perform that deterrent function well. (It should be noted that the doctrine of deterrence is severely criticized by those who worry about the implications of threatening mass slaughter.)

Oud-minister van Defensie van ’s werelds zwaarst bewapende natie, William Perry, beseft als insider hoe gevaarlijk het bedreigen van de Russische Federatie is. Gouverneur Brown wijst er in zijn recensie op dat de gematigde krachten in de VS verloren van bezeten neoconservatieven, die na de val van de Sovjet Unie niet uit waren op vrede, maar, volgens eigen zeggen, op de ‘hegemonie van Amerika,’ daarbij als vanzelfsprekend gesteund en aangevuurd door het militair-industrieel complex en de mainstream-media die financieel voor een groot deel direct afhankelijk zijn van de grote concerns. Brown:

In 1996, Richard Holbrooke, then an assistant secretary in the State Department, proposed to expand NATO by bringing in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic nations. Perry thought this was a very unwise move and should be delayed at all costs. A prominent group of fifty leading Americans, both conservative and liberal, signed a letter to President Clinton opposing NATO expansion. Among the signers were Robert McNamara, Sam Nunn, Bill Bradley, Paul Nitze, Richard Pipes, and John Holdren. It was to no avail. Perry was the lone cabinet member to oppose President Clinton’s decision to give Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic immediate membership in NATO.

That year, 1996, turned out to be the high point in Russian–American relations. The NATO expansion began during President Clinton’s second term. After President George W. Bush was elected, NATO was expanded further to include more nations, reaching all the way to the Russian border. Bush also withdrew the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, and started deploying an ABM system in Eastern Europe, thereby repudiating the important achievements of Richard Nixon and fostering the illusion that a defense could successfully defeat a determined attack of nuclear missiles.

Het kan niet vaak genoeg benadrukt worden: ondanks de recente ontwikkelingen en de nadrukkelijke waarschuwingen van insiders, blijven de mainstream-journalisten, ook in Nederland, de heilloze weg van de macht rechtvaardigen. In strijd met de werkelijkheid beweert Geert Mak dat de VS een ‘vitale democratie’ is die ‘decennialang als ordebewaker en politieagent’ in de wereld ‘fungeerde.’ Op zijn beurt verzwijgt Frank Westerman het Amerikaans terrorisme en besteedt hij geen aandacht aan het terroriseren van de mensheid met de dreiging van een nucleair armageddon. Daarentegen beschrijft  de Amerikaanse geleerde Michael J. Glennon, hoogleraar Internationaal Recht aan de particuliere Tufts University in zijn boek National Security and Double Government (2014), een heel andere werkelijkheid. Glennon, die eerder 'Legal Counsel' was van de Senaatscommissie voor Buitenlandse Betrekkingen behandelt de vraag:

Why has U.S. security policy scarcely changed from the Bush to the Obama administrations?

Zijn artikelen verschijnen in ondermeer de New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, en de Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung. Vooral ook omdat Glennon de werkelijkheid van binnenuit beschrijft is het interessant te weten dat hij 

challenges the myth that U.S. security policy is still forged by America’s visible 'Madisonian institutions' — the President, Congress and the courts. Their roles, he argues, have become largely illusory. Presidential control is now nominal, congressional oversight is dysfunctional and judicial review is negligible.

Zijn studie 

details the dramatic shift in power that has occurred from the Madisonian institutions to a concealed 'Trumanite network' — the several hundred managers of the military, intelligence, diplomatic and law enforcement agencies who are responsible for protecting the nation and who have come to operate largely immune from constitutional and electoral restraints. Reform efforts face daunting obstacles.

Remedies within this new system of 'double government' require the hollowed-out Madisonian institutions to exercise the very power that they lack. Meanwhile, reform initiatives from without confront the same pervasive political ignorance within the polity that has given rise to this duality.

Glennon's boek 

sounds a powerful warning about the need to resolve this dilemma — and the mortal threat posed to accountability, democracy and personal freedom if double government persists.

In de introductie van zijn studie maakt professor Glennon zonder omwegen duidelijk wat de hedendaagse realiteit is in Washington:

Few who follow world events can doubt that the Obama administration's approach to multiple national security issues has been essentially the same as that of the Bush administration. The Obama administration, like its predecessor, has sent terrorism suspects oversees for detention and interrogation; claimed the power to hold, without trial, American citizens who are accused of terrorism in military confinement; insisted that it is for the President to decide whether an accused terrorist will be tried by a civilian court or a military tribunal; kept the military prison at Guantánamo Bay open, argued that detainees cannot challenge the conditions of their confinement, and restricted detainees' access to legal counsel; resisted efforts to extend the right of habeas corpus (habeas corpus is een rechtsbeginsel dat stelt dat de verdachte van een misdrijf binnen een bepaalde termijn van zijn aanklacht in kennis moet worden gesteld, dat deze in levenden lijve aan een rechter moet worden voorgeleid en dat gevangenneming slechts mag volgen op gerechtelijk bevel. svh) to other offshore prisons; argued that detainees cannot invoke the Geneva Conventions in habeas proceedings; denied detainees access to the International Committee of the Red Cross for weeks at a time; engaged the United States in a military attack against Libya without congressional approval, in the face of no actual or imminent threat to the nations; and continued, and in some respects expanded, the Bush administration's ballistic missile defense program.

Desondanks vertelt NRC-journalist Michel Krielaars zijn lezers dat het 'Westen met zijn ethische normen en waarden' de Russen kan beïnvloeden 'om ooit tegen hun heersers op te staan,' terwijl de voormalige nestor van de polderjournalistiek Henk Hofland verkondigde dat 'het Westen [vredestichtend]' is, en NRC-commentator Hubert Smeets  op de radio, televisie en in de krant laat weten dat het ‘poetinisme’ het grootste gevaar voor de wereldvrede is, ondanks het feit dat Rusland ruim 11 keer minder uitgeeft aan het militair-industrieel complex dan de NAVO. Al deze propaganda is mogelijk omdat hier in de polder, in tegenstelling tot grote cultuurlanden, geen publiek debat bestaat dat door de intelligentsia wordt aangezwengeld. In Nederland met zijn hypocriete handelsmentaliteit moet de werkelijkheid worden verhuld, en is geen belangstelling voor de analyse van bijvoorbeeld Michael Glennon. Nogmaals een fragment uit zijn rijk gedocumenteerde boek National Security and Double Government:

The Obama administration, beyond ending torture, has changed 'virtually none' of the Bush administration's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) programs and operations, except that in continuing targeted killings, the Obama administration has increased the number of covert drone strikes in Pakistan to six times the number launched during the Bush administration. The Obama administration has declined to prosecute those who committed torture (after the President himself concluded that waterboarding is torture); approved the targeted killing of American citizens without judicial warrant; rejected efforts by the press and Congress to release legal opinions justifying those killings or describing the breadth of the claimed power; and opposed legislative proposals to expand intelligence oversight notification requirements. His administration has increased the role of covert special operations, continuing each of the covert action programs that President Bush handed down. The Obama administration has continued the Bush administration's cyberwar against Iran (code-named 'Olympic Games') and sought to block lawsuits challenging the legality of other national security measures, often claiming the state secrets privilege. 

In tegenstelling tot de polderpers, weten de Amerikaanse intellectuelen maar al te goed dat hun land geen democratie is, waarbij het Congres en de president de wil van de bevolking in politieke daden concretiseren.  De vraag is wie dan de macht bezit?

Why does national security policy remain constant even when one President is replaced by another, who as a candidate repeatedly, forcefully, and eloquently promised fundamental changes in that policy?

aldus professor Glennon. Hij wijst erop dat hoewel er verschillende verklaringen bestaan geen van de exegeses bevredigend is. Zich ondermeer baserend op zijn ervaring als voormalig 'Legal Counsel' van de Senaatscommissie voor Buitenlandse Betrekkingen verwijst Michael Glennon naar 

a better though disquieting explanation. It borrows from the approach suggested in 1867 by Walter Bagehot to explain the evolution of the English Constitution. Bagehot brought The Economist magazine to prominence; his own eminence became such that the middle years of nineteenth-century England were sometimes referred to as the 'Age Of Bagehot.' While not without critics, his theory has been widely acclaimed and has generated significant commentary. Indeed, it is something of a classic on the subject of institutional change, and it foreshadowed modern organizational theory.

Kort samengevat toont Bagehot aan dat er in het Verenigd Koninkrijk instituten bestonden die weliswaar ‘[t]hrough theatrical show, pomp, and historical; symbolism' een 'emotionele greep op de publieke verbeeldingskracht' uitoefenden 'by evoking the grandeur of ages past,' maar dat die instituten geen echte macht meer bezaten. Tegelijkertijd, bestond

a second, newer set of institutions — Britain's 'efficient' institutions — that do the real work of governing. These are the House of Commons, the Cabinet, and the Prime Minister. 

Met andere woorden: zij vormden de ware macht in Groot-Brittannië, waarbij ‘[i]ts essence is strong with the strength of modern simplicity' terwijl 'its exterior is august (verheven. svh) with the Gothic grandeur of a more imposing age.' Achter de façade van de ceremoniële macht ging de ware macht schuil. Achter het koningschap stond destijds een 

'disguised republic' that obscures the massive shift in power that has occurred, which if widely understood would create a crisis of public confidence. This crisis had been averted because the efficient institutions have been careful to hide where they begin and where the dignified institutions end. They do this by ensuring that the dignified institutions (koningschap, Hogerhuis svh) continue to partake in at least some real governance and also by ensuring that the efficient institutions partake in at least some inspiring public ceremony and ritual. This promotes continued public deference to the efficient institutions' decisions and continued belief that the dignified institutions retain real power. These dual institutions, one for the show and the other for real, afford Britain expertise and experience in the actual art of governing while at the same time providing a façade that generates public acceptance of the experts' decisions. Bagehot called this Britain's 'double government.' The structural duality, some have suggested, is a modern reification (verzakeling. svh) of the 'Noble Lie' that, two millennia before, Plato thought necessary to insulate a state from the fatal excesses of democracy and to ensure deference to the golden class of efficient guardians.

Eén van de symptomen van een 'democratie' waarachter het totalitair functionerende systeem van het neoliberale kapitalisme schuilgaat, is het geleidelijk aan verdwijnen van 'de grens tussen het openbare en het persoonlijke.’Zoals Milan Kundera in zijn essaybundel De kunst van de roman (1987) vaststelde ‘[eist] de macht, die steeds ondoorzichtiger wordt, dat het leven van de staatsburger absoluut doorzichtig is.’ Een centrale rol in dit proces spelen de mainstream-media die het totalitaire karakter van de postmoderne macht accepteren en zelfs propageren. Daarentegen staan onafhankelijke Amerikaanse intellectuelen als professor Glennon kritisch tegenover de groeiende macht van de staat. Hij schrijft:

Bagehot's enduring insight — that dual institutions of governance, one public and the other concealed, evolve side by side to maximize both legitimacy and efficiency — is worth pondering as one possible explanation of why the Obama and Bush national security policies have been essentially the same. There is no reason in principle why the institutions of Britain's juridical offspring, the United States, ought to be immune from the broader bifurcating (in twee uiteenlopende. svh) forces that have driven British institutional evolution.

Deze visie van een insider staat lijnrecht  tegenover de mening van een buitenstaander als de mainstream-journalist Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal die onder de kop: De Amerikaanse droom is springlevend’  bij de voorheen kritische VPRO onweersproken beweringen kan doen als: ‘de VS [zijn] nog steeds een land waar mensen hun dromen kunnen waarmaken,’ en in de vpro gids van 10 september 2016 Obama kwalificeert als ‘een baanbrekende president.’ Bovendien gaat ‘het volgens Bosch van Rosenthal veel beter met de VS dan je op basis van de krantenkoppen zou kunnen vermoeden,’ hetgeen een opmerkelijke mening is gezien het feit dat een insider als oud-president Jimmy Carter de Verenigde Staten een 'oligarchy' betitelt met 'unlimited political bribery.' Maar dat verzwijgt 'onze' Eelco. Het grote probleem van een lichtgewicht als Bosch van Rosenthal is dat hij naam heeft gemaakt met ‘items van hooguit zes à zeven minuten,’ en niet in staat is dieper te graven dan de waan van de dag. Maar met die mentaliteit moet het grote publiek en nu ook de VPRO genoegen mee nemen. Want ook al geeft men een dergelijke journalist meer tijd zijn kijk op het leven blijft hetzelfde, of zoals de auteur Milan Kundera over mainstream-journalisten opmerkte:

Over de hele wereld strooien ze dezelfde simplificaties en cliché’s uit, waarvan mag worden aangenomen dat ze door de meerderheid zullen worden aanvaard, door allen, door de hele mensheid. En het is niet zo belangrijk dat in de verschillende organen van de media de verschillende politieke belangen tot uiting komen. Achter het uiterlijke verschil heerst een en dezelfde geest. Je hoeft de Amerikaanse en Europese opiniebladen maar door te kijken, van rechts zowel als links, van Time tot Der Spiegel: in al die bladen tref je dezelfde kijk op het leven aan, die zich in dezelfde volgorde waarin hun inhoudsopgave is opgebouwd weerspiegelt, in dezelfde rubrieken, dezelfde journalistieke aanpak, dezelfde woordkeus en stijl, in dezelfde artistieke voorkeuren en in dezelfde hiërarchie van wat ze belangrijk en onbeduidend achten. De gemeenschappelijke geestesgesteldheid van de massamedia, die schuilgaat achter hun politieke verscheidenheid is de geest van de tijd.

NOS-Journaal standupper in Washington Bosch van Rosenthal vertelt zijn publiek wat de macht hem verteld heeft.

Beperkt men zich evenwel niet tot het werk van wat Kundera de ‘termieten van de reductie,’ noemt, die zelfs ‘de grootste liefde terugbrengen tot een geraamte van schrale herinneringen,’ en men bestudeert het werk van Amerikaanse schrijvers, dichters, academici dan ontstaat een heel ander beeld. Nogmaals professor Glennon:  

As it did in the early days of Britain's monarchy, power in the United States lay initially in one set of institutions — the presidency, Congress, and the courts. These are America's 'dignified' institutions. Later, however, a second institution emerged to safeguard the nation's security. This, America's 'efficient' institution (actually, as will be seen, more a network than an institution), consists of the several hundred executive officials who sit atop the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement departments and agencies that have as their mission the protection of America's international and internal security. Large segments of the public continue to believe that America's constitutionally established, dignified institutions are the locus of governmental power. By promoting that impression, both sets of institutions maintain public support. But when it comes to defining and protecting national security, the public's impression is mistaken. America's efficient institution makes most of the key decisions concerning national security, removed from public view and from the constitutional restrictions that check America's dignified institutions. The United States has, in short, moved beyond a mere imperial presidency to a bifurcated system — a structure of double government — in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over het oversell direction of U.S. national security policy. Whereas Britain's dual institutions evolved toward a concealed republic, America's have evolved in the opposite direction, toward greater centralization, less accountability, and emergent autocracy.

Waaraan ik voor alle duidelijkheid toevoeg dat met de term 'U.S. national security' in de praktijk bedoeld wordt: de economische en daarmee geopolitieke belangen van de neoliberale elite en haar militair-industrieel complex, dat meer dan de helft van de ‘discretionary federal budget’ opslokt. Bovendien is het twijfelachtig of 'Large segments of the public continue to believe that America's constitutionally established, dignified institutions are the locus of governmental power,' aangezien al zeker een halve eeuw rond de 45 procent van de stemgerechtigden niet komt opdagen bij Presidents- en Congresverkiezingen. 'Democratische' politici staan in dienst van de rijken, zo beseft ook een substantieel deel van de Amerikaanse burgers. Maar dit buiten beschouwing latend staat de analyse van Glennon lijnrecht tegenover de American Dream-propaganda van Bosch van Rosenthal. Zijn stellige bewering dat ‘de VS nog steeds een land zijn waar mensen hun dromen kunnen waarmaken,’  wordt weerlegd door onder andere het feit dat de afgelopen vier decennia de

explosion of wealth at the top has been accompanied by an erosion of the wealth of the middle class and the poor. In the mid-1980s, the bottom 90 percent of Americans together held 36 percent of the nation’s wealth. Now, they hold less than 23 percent,’

aldus professor Robert Reich, onder Bill Clinton minister van Arbeid. Op maandag 17 november 2014 voegde hij hieraan toe:

Some might think the bottom 90 percent should pull in their belts and stop living beyond their means. After all, capitalism is a tough sport. If those at the top are winning big while the bottom 90 percent is losing, too bad. That’s the way the game is played.

But the top .01 percent have also been investing their money in politics. And these investments have been changing the game.

In the 2012 election cycle (the last for which we have good data) donations from the top .01 accounted for over 40 percent of all campaign contributions, according to a study by Professors Adam Bonica, Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole, and Howard Rosenthal.

This is a huge increase from 1980, when the top .01 accounted for ten percent of total campaign contributions…

Of the 4,493 board members and CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations, more than four out of five contributed (many of the non-contributors were foreign nationals who were prohibited from giving).

All this money has flowed to Democrats as well as Republicans.

In fact, Democrats have increasingly relied on it. In the 2012 election cycle, the top .01 percent’s donations to Democrats were more than four times larger than all labor union donations to Democrats put together.

The richest .01 percent haven’t been donating out of the goodness of their hearts. They’ve donated out of goodness to their wallets.

Their political investments have paid off in the form of lower taxes on themselves and their businesses, subsidies for their corporations, government bailouts, federal prosecutions that end in settlements where companies don’t affirm or deny the facts and where executives don’t go to jail, watered-down regulations, and non-enforcement of antitrust laws.

Since the top .01 began investing big time in politics, corporate profits and the stock market have risen to record levels. That’s enlarged the wealth of the richest .01 percent by an average of 7.8 percent a year since the mid-1980s.

But the bottom 90 percent don’t own many shares of stock. They rely on wages, which have been trending downward. And for some reason, politicians don’t seem particularly intent on reversing this trend.

If you want to know what’s happened to the American economy, follow the money. That will lead you to the richest .01 percent.

And if you want to know what’s happened to our democracy, follow the richest .01 percent. They’ll lead you to the politicians who have been selling our democracy.

Maar deze feiten zijn voor Bosch van Rosenthal irrelevant omdat ze zijn verhaal niet ondersteunen. De uitholling van de democratie door een onverzadigbare elite die via haar militair-industrieel complex de neoliberale ideologie met geweld wereldwijd afdwingt, wordt door de corrupte westerse mainstream-pers permanent verzwegen en zeker niet in een bredere context geplaatst. Het is de onuitgesproken taak van een opiniemaker als Bosch van Rosenthal om de aandacht te verleggen. Niet de eigen parasitaire elite is de vijand, maar 'het terrorisme,' de Russen, of welk volk dan ook dat op een bepaald moment de directieven van Washington en Wall Street weigert op te volgen. Uit mijn decennialange contacten met de polder 'elite' weet ik hoe krampachtig de Nederlandse ‘politiek-literaire elite’naar binnen gericht is. Door haar provinciale mentaliteit leest zij nauwelijks of geen buitenlandse boeken van de deskundigen die uit ervaring spreken, intellectuelen als bijvoorbeeld de Amerikaanse jurist Michael Snyder, ‘Publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog,’ die op 8 november 2011 de vraag opwierp: 

Do you want to get rich?  Just get elected to Congress.  The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are absolutely packed with wealthy people that are very rapidly becoming even wealthier.  The collective net worth of the members of Congress is now measured in the billions of dollars. The people that we have elected to the House and Senate are absolutely swimming in money. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get elected to Congress. In this day and age you generally have to be heavily connected to those that are very wealthy to get into Congress because it takes gigantic amounts of cash to win campaigns. But if you can get in to the club, you pretty much have it made. The numbers that you are about to read are very difficult to believe and they should deeply sadden you. They show that Congress has become all about money. Congressional races are mostly financed by wealthy people, most of the people that we elect to Congress are very wealthy, and they rapidly get wealthier after they are elected. All of this money has turned our republic into something far different than our founding fathers intended.

The following are 12 statistics about money and Congress that are so outrageous that it is hard to believe that they are actually true….

#1 The collective net worth of all of the members of Congress increased by 25 percent between 2008 and 2010.

#2 The collective net worth of all of the members of Congress is now slightly over 2 billion dollars.  That is ‘billion’ with a ‘b.’

#3 This happened during a time when the net worth of most American households was declining rapidly. According to the Federal Reserve, the collective net worth of all American households decreased by 23 percent between 2007 and 2009.

#4 The average net worth for a member of Congress is now approximately 3.8 million dollars.

#5 The net worth of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi increased by 62 percent from 2009 to 2010.  In 2009 it was reported that she had a net worth of 21.7 million dollars, and in 2010 it was reported that she had a net worth of 35.2 million dollars.

#6 The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, saw his wealth grow by 29 percent from 2009 to 2010.  He is now worth approximately 9.8 million dollars.

#7 More than 50 percent of the members of the U.S. Congress are millionaires.

#8 In 2008, the average cost of winning a seat in the House of Representatives was $1.1 million and the average cost of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate was $6.5 million.  Spending on political campaigns has gotten way out of control.

#9 Insider trading is perfectly legal for members of the U.S. Congress – and they refuse to pass a law that would change that.

#10 The percentage of millionaires in Congress is more than 50 times higher than the percentage of millionaires in the general population.

#11 U.S. Representative Darrell Issa is worth approximately 220 million dollars.  His wealth grew by approximately 37 percent from 2009 to 2010.

#12 The wealthiest member of Congress, U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, is worth approximately 294 million dollars.

So how are members of Congress becoming so wealthy?

Well, there are lots of ways they are raking in the cash, but one especially alarming thing that goes on is that members of Congress often make investments in companies that will go up significantly if legislation that is being considered by Congress ‘goes the right way.’
This is called a ‘conflict of interest,’ but it happens constantly in Congress and nobody seems to get into any trouble for it.

The following is video of Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes ambushing Nancy Pelosi about one particular conflict of interest involving credit card legislation.  As you can see, she does not want to talk about it….

As noted above, insider trading is perfectly legal for members of Congress.

A law that would ban insider trading by members of Congress has been stalled for years on Capitol Hill.

So has this been a significant benefit to members of Congress?

Well, there has been at least one study that appears to indicate that members of Congress have been much more successful in the stock market than members of the general public have….

A 2004 study of the results of stock trading by United States Senators during the 1990s found that that senators on average beat the market by 12% a year. In sharp contrast, U.S. households on average underperformed the market by 1.4% a year and even corporate insiders on average beat the market by only about 6% a year during that period. A reasonable inference is that some Senators had access to — and were using — material nonpublic information about the companies in whose stock they trade.

Of course all of this could just be a coincidence, right?

Meanwhile, members of Congress keep telling the rest of us that we are just going to have to cut back because times are tough.

For example, during an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Nancy Pelosi actually claimed that we should try to encourage poor people to have less children because it costs the government so much money to take care of them…
PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those – one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.

This elitist attitude extends all the way into the White House as well.  Earlier this year, Barack Obama made the following statement….

‘If you’re a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, or you might put off a vacation.’

Meanwhile, the Obamas are living the high life at taxpayer expense.  In a previous article I mentioned one outrageously expensive vacation taken by the Obamas that was paid for by our taxes….

‘Back in August, Michelle Obama took her daughter Sasha and 40 of her friends for a vacation in Spain.

So what was the bill to the taxpayers for that little jaunt across the pond?

It is estimated that vacation alone cost U.S. taxpayers $375,000.’

There is a massive disconnect between what our politicians say and what our politicians do.

The high life is good enough for them, but the rest of us have got to “cut back” and suffer becomes times are hard.

But when it comes to money and Congress, the most corrupting influence of all is probably all of the campaign money that gets thrown around.

In America today, it takes gigantic mountains of money to run a successful campaign.

Sadly, the candidate that raises the most money almost always wins.  In federal elections the candidate that raises the most money wins about 90 percent of the time.

More than 5 billion dollars were spent on political campaigns back in 2008.

That represents a huge number of favors that need to be paid back.

In 2012, it is being projected that 8 billion dollars could be spent on political campaigns.
When big corporations and wealthy individuals shovel huge piles of money into political campaigns, it is generally because they expect something in return.

Most of those that get sent to Congress realize that they never would have won if wealthy donors had not showered cash on them. Most of them understand that they should not bite the hands that feed them if they want the cash to keep rolling in.

Politics in America has become a game that is played by the elite for the benefit of the elite.

Average Americans have the perception that they are involved in the process and that their opinions really matter, but mostly it is just an illusion.

It is so sad.

Meanwhile, members of Congress rapidly get wealthier and average American families continue to suffer.  In fact, the standard of living in the United States has fallen farther over the past three years than at any other time that has ever been recorded in U.S. history.

But for members of Congress the good times just keep on rolling.

Just as it has been for most of human history, the rich rule over the poor.

Does anyone out there believe that we have any hope of changing this?

Welnu, dit zijn de feiten in wat Bosch van Rosenthal ‘Droomland Amerika’ noemt, ‘een land waar mensen hun dromen kunnen waarmaken,’ een land waar de mensen die hij spreekt steevast zeggen ‘dat het’ met hen ‘best goed gaat.’ Met leugens als uitgangspunt maakte deze mainstream-journalist een serie televisieprogramma’s voor de eens zo kritische VPRO. Maar de moderne burger kan nu godzijdank zonder tussenkomst van gecorrumpeerde journalisten, die door hun ideologische visie maar al te vaak de werkelijkheid niet kunnen zien, zelf via internet en boeken direct in contact komen met informatiebronnen, waardoor ze een veel breder beeld krijgen van de gereduceerde mainstream-propaganda. Truthout, Truthdig, Democracy Now! Information Clearing House, GlobalResearch en talloze andere Amerikaanse internet-sites voorzien in de behoefte aan serieuze informatie.  Burgers kunnen over informatie beschikken die de commerciële massamedia bewust verzwijgen. Ze kunnen nieuwe namen tegen komen en nieuwe inzichten, zoals die van de Amerikaanse hoogleraar Michael J. Glennon, die in zijn studie National Security and Double Government (2014)  aantoont dat de Amerikaanse democratie is veranderd in een gemilitariseerde National Security State, waarbij een proces op gang is gebracht van  

slowly tightening centralized power, growing and evolving organically beyond public view, increasingly unresponsive to Madisonian checks and balances. Madison (belangrijkste auteur van de Amerikaanse Grondwet en vierde president. svh) wrote, 'There are more instances of abridgment (beperking. svh) of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.' Recent history bears out his insight. Dahl (gezaghebbende Amerikaanse hoogleraar politieke wetenschappen aan Yale University. svh) has pointed out that in the twentieth century — the century of democracy's great triumph — some seventy democracies collapsed and quietly gave way to authoritarian regimes. A want of civic virtue, in the form of political ignorance, amplifies that risk. 'If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization,' Thomas Jefferson wrote, 'it expects what never was and never will be.' 

Bijna tweeënhalf eeuw geleden realiseerde de auteur van de Amerikaanse Onafhankelijkheidsverklaring en derde president Thomas Jefferson zich datgene wat de mainstream-pers nog steeds niet inziet, the weten dat ‘onwetendheid en vrijheid’ niet kunnen samengaan. De ééndimensionale kijk op de werkelijkheid die ‘de vrije pers’dagelijks opdist, is mede verantwoordelijk geweest voor de totalitaire trekken van de postmoderne tijd, en die tot uitdrukking komen in onder andere een netwerk ‘within the federal government that exercises predominant power with respect to national security matters,’ en dat 

consists of the several hundred executive officials who manage the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement agencies responsible for protecting the nation's security. These officials are as little disposed to stake out new policies as they are to abandon old ones. They define security more in military and intelligence terms than in political or diplomatic ones,

zo stelt professor Glennon na jarenlange ervaring als ‘Legal Counsel’ van de ‘Senate Foreign Relations Committee.’ Een outsider als Geert Mak mag dan wel in zijn bestseller Reizen zonder John (2012) stellen dat 'niemand die ooit een Amerikaanse verkiezingscampagne van nabij heeft meegemaakt… licht [zal] denken over het vitale karakter van de Amerikaanse democratie,’ maar hieruit blijkt slechts hoe hij schijn met werkelijkheid verwart, en hoe weinig mijn oude vriend in staat is om door de façade  heen te prikken. Door het verstikkende conformisme van de zogeheten ‘vrije pers’ durft geen van mijn mainstream-collega’s af te wijken van de officiel gesanctioneerde versie van de realiteit. Het gevolg is dat ze elkaar in een gestandaardiseerde taal voortdurend napraten, en de democratie volledig is uitgehold. Professor Glennon laat aan het slot van zijn boek zien hoe de huidige machthebbers:

have the capability of radically and permanently altering the political and legal contours of our society. An unrestrained security apparatus had throughout history been one of the principal reasons that free governments have failed. The Trumanite (president Truman legde na 1945 de basis voor de National Security State die het militair-industrieel complex almaar machtiger heeft gemaakt. svh) network holds with its power something far greater than the ability to recommend higher import duties or more windmills or even gargantuan corporate bailouts: it has the power to kill and arrest and jail, the power to instill fear and suspicion, the power to quash investigations and quell speech, the power to shape public debate or to curtail it, and the power to hide its deeds and evade its weak-kneed overseers. The Trumanite network holds, in short, the power of irreversibility (onomkeerbaarheid. svh).No democracy worthy of its name can permit that power to escape the control of the people. 

Dit gebeurt met de noodzakelijke steun van de massamedia die het totalitarisme verkopen als democratie en massamoord als ‘humanitair ingrijpen’ of ‘responsibility to protect.’ Voor Glennon's complexe inzicht is geen ruimte in het bewustzijn van mainstream-journalisten als Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal, Frank Westerman, Geert Mak om me dit keer te beperken tot deze drie opiniemakers uit ‘ons’ polderland. Het ontbreekt hen niet alleen aan kennis, maar vooral ook aan verbeeldingskracht en een zekere mate van scepsis. Bovendien weten ze maar al te goed dat ‘[l]ies are much more plausible, more appealing to reason, than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand wat the audience wishes or expects to hear,’ zoals Hannah Arendt in 1969 uiteenzette. Het is dan ook niet verbazingwekkend dat de Amerikaanse geleerde Henry A. Giroux in zijn boek Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism (2011) betoogt dat ‘[i]n the current American political landscape, truth is not merely misrepresented or falsified, it is overtly mocked.’  Giroux toont aan dat in

such circumstances, language loses any viable sense of referentiality, while lying, misrepresentation, and the deliberate denial of truth become acceptable practices firmly entrenched in the Wild West of talk radio, cable television, and the dominant media. Fact-finding, arguments bolstered by evidence, and informed analysis have always been fragile entities, but they risk annihilation in a cultured in which it becomes difficult to distinguish between an opinion and an argument. Knowledge is increasingly controlled by a handful of corporations and public relations firms and is systemically cleansed of any complexity. Lying and deceitfulness are all too often viewed as just another acceptable tactic in what has become most visibly the pathology of politics and a theater of cruelty dominated by a growing chorus of media hate mongers inflaming an authoritarian populist rage laced with a not-too-subtle bigotry (onverdraagzaamheid. svh).

Truth increasingly becomes the enemy of democracy because it does not support the spectacle and the reduction of citizens either to mere dupes of power or commodities. Ignorance is no longer a liability (nadeel. svh) in a culture in which lying, deceit, and misinformation blur the boundaries between informed judgments and the histrionics (het theatrale. svh)

Het simplisme in het televisiewerk van Bosch van Rosenthal en de bestsellers van Geert Mak en Frank Westerman versterken de desastreuze ontwikkeling, waarbij ‘taal elke levensvatbare betekenis verliest van een kenbare werkelijkheid, terwijl liegen, het geven van een onjuiste voorstelling van zaken, en de opzettelijke ontkenning van de waarheid geaccepteerde praktijken zijn geworden,’ en vandaag de dag zelfs kenmerkend zijn voor het werk van de mainstream-pers. Op deze website heb ik het afgelopen decennium honderden voorbeelden hiervan gegeven. In Zombie Politics and Culture beschrijft de Noord-Amerikaanse cultuurcriticus Henry Giroux het als volgt

Lying and deception have become so commonplace in the dominant press that such practices appear to have no moral significance and provoke few misgivings, even when they have important political consequences. 

In the age of public relations managers and talk show experts, we are witnessing the demise of public life. At a time when education is reduced to training workers and is stripped of any civic ideals and critical practices, it becomes unfashionable for the public to think critically. Rather than intelligence uniting us, a collective ignorance of politics, culture, the arts, history, and important social issues, as Mark Slouka (Amerikaanse schrijver en essayist. svh) points out, ‘gives us a sense of community, it confers citizenship.’ Our political passivity is underscored by a paucity (gebrek. svh) of intellectual engagement, just as the need for discrete judgment and informed analysis falls prey to a culture of watching, a culture of illusion and circus tricks. Shame over the lying and ignorance that now shape our cultural politics has become a source of national pride.

Giroux benadrukt dat 

[l]ying and deceit have become the stuff of spectacle and are on full display in a society where gossip and celebrity culture rule. In this instance, the consequences of lying are reduced to a matter of prurience (morbide belangstelling. svh) rather than public concern, becoming a source of private injury on the part of a Hollywood star or producing the individual humiliation of a public figure such as John Edwards (oud-politicus Democratische partij, die verwikkeld raakte ‘in een buitenechtelijke affaire met documentairemaakster Rielle Hunter.’ Hij had daarover gelogen tijdens zijn 'presidentiële run' in 2008. Edwards ‘benadrukte dat hij bij haar geen kind had verwekt, en verklaarde desnoods een vaderschapstest te zullen ondergaan. In januari 2010 gaf Edwards toe dat hij de vader van het kind is. Edwards vrouw Elizabeth stierf op 7 december 2010 aan de gevolgen van kanker.’ 

The widespread acceptance of lying and deceit is not merely suggestive of a commodified and ubiquitous corporate-riven electronic culture that displays an utter contempt for morality and social needs, it also registers the existence of a troubling form of infantilization and depoliticization. Lying as common sense and deceit as politics-as-usual join the embrace of provocation in a coupling that empties politics and agency (macht. svh) of any substance and feeds into a corporate state an militarized culture in which matters of judgment, thoughtfulness, morality, and compassion seem to disappear from public view. What is the social cost of such flight from reality, if not the death of democratic politics, critical thought, and civic agency? When a society loses sight of the distinction between fact and fiction, truth-telling and lying, what happens is that truth, critical thought, and fact-finding as conditions of democracy are rendered trivial and reduced to a collection of mere platitudes, which in turn reinforces moral indifference and political impotence. Under such circumstances, language actually becomes the mechanism for promoting political powerlessness. Lying and deceit are no longer limited to merely substituting to merely substituting falsehoods for the truth; they now per formatively constitute their own truth, promoting celebrity culture, right-wing paranoia, and modes of government and corporate power freed from any sense of accountability.

Juist in deze leugenachtige cultuur komen behaagzieke journalisten als Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal, Geert Mak, Frank Westerman an andere narcisten bovendrijven om te worden bewonderd door de mainstream. In dit valse bewustzijn blijft de VS ‘een land waar mensen hun dromen kunnen waarmaken,’ en ‘fungeren’ de ‘Amerikanen’ als ‘ordebewakers en politieagenten,’ terwijl het westers terrorisme angstvallig wordt verzwegen. De leugen is de waarheid geworden, en de waarheid een leugen. Tegelijkertijd worden dissidenten gemarginaliseerd, net als destijds in de Sovjet Unie. Meer hierover later.

De onverzadigbare Demon-Haunted World.


  1. Rick Nieman en echtgenote Sacha de Boer hebben ook een boek geschreven over hun reis door Amerika. "Wat wij van Amerika kunnen leren".

    Corrie van der Hart


Een reactie posten

Populaire posts van deze blog

Geert Mak Pleit Nu Voor Vriendschap met Rusland

Ik kwam zojuist mijn oude vriend, de bestseller-auteur en mainstream-opiniemaker Geert Mak in de regen op straat tegen. Na elkaar te hebben begroet, vertelde Geert mij dat hij van oordeel is dat Europa zo snel mogelijk met Rusland om de tafel moet gaan zitten, om de opgelopen spanningen te deëscaleren. De VS heeft heel andere belangen dan 'wij,' aldus Mak, die benadrukte dat de macht van 'onze' Atlantische bondgenoot ingrijpend aan het afnemen is. Kortom, ik hoorde wat ikzelf al enige jaren op mijn weblog schrijf. Opvallend hoe een Nederlandse opiniemaker binnen zo'n betrekkelijk korte tijd zo wezenlijk van oordeel kan veranderen.  Immers, Mak’s gevaarlijke anti-Rusland hetze was een treffend voorbeeld van zijn opportunisme. Mei 2014 beweerde op de Hilversumse televisie de zogeheten ‘chroniqueur van Amsterdam, Nederland, Europa en de VS,’ dat er sprake was van een 'Russische gevaar,’ aangezien ‘meneer Poetin’ aan ‘landjepik’ deed en dat de Russische president d…

America Has Been at War 93% of the Time Since 1776

America Has Been at War 93% of the Time – 222 out of 239 Years – Since 1776 By Washington's Blog Global Research, December 26, 2017 Washington's Blog 20 February 2015 Region:  Theme: 

Native American Rape Survivors

A sign marks the entrance to White Earth Indian Reservation in Mahnomen County, Minn. (J. Stephen Conn / CC 2.0) WHITE EARTH RESERVATION, Minn.—Candice (not her real name) awoke with a start. Someone was pulling down her sweatpants. It was a male friend. “Stop!” she shouted. He kept groping her. She kicked him and he fell off the bed. She dashed out of the bedroom, tripping and tumbling down the stairs. Gripped with fear, she heard his footsteps behind her in the dark and forced herself to stand upright as she staggered out to the porch. Candice was still intoxicated. She got into her car and drove into a ditch. A white police officer pulled up. She struggled to hold back tears as she told him about the attempted rape. All the officer saw was a drunk and disorderly Native American woman. He dismissed Candice’s report of sexual assault as a lie she had made up to avoid getting a DUI. He did not take her to the hospital for a forensic exam. The sexual assault was not recorded in his pol…