zaterdag 28 augustus 2010

The Jewish Lobby 7

Israeli and US Zionists mount ferocious attack on liberal academics in Israel

By Neve Gordon

28 August 2010

Neve Gordon highlights the growing persecution of liberal academics in Israel as Israeli fascists, supported by American Christian Zionists and other neo-conservatives, join forces to root out academic freedom and freedom of expression at Israel’s universities.

On 31 May, I joined some 50 students and faculty members who gathered outside Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to demonstrate against the Israeli military assault on the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. In response, the next day a few hundred students marched towards the social sciences building, Israeli flags in hand. Amid nationalist songs and pro-government chants, there were also shouts demanding my resignation from the university faculty.

One student even proceeded to create a Facebook group whose sole goal is to have me sacked. So far over 2,100 people (many of them non-students) have joined. In addition to death wishes and declarations that I should be exiled, the site includes a call on students to spy on me during class. "We believe," ends a message written to the group, "that if we conduct serious and profound work, we can, with the help of each and every one of you, gather enough material to influence ... Neve Gordon's status at the university, and maybe even bring about his dismissal."

Such personal attacks are part of a much broader assault on Israeli higher education and its professors. Two recent incidents exemplify the proto-fascist logic that is being deployed to undermine the pillars of academic freedom in Israel, while also revealing that the assault on Israeli academe is being backed by neo-conservative forces in the United States.

The first incident involves a report published by the Institute for Zionist Strategies, in Israel, which analysed course syllabi in Israeli sociology departments and accused professors of a "post-Zionist" bias. The institute defines post-Zionism as "the pretence to undermine the foundations of the Zionist ethos and an affinity with the radical leftist stream". In addition to the usual Israeli leftist suspects, intellectuals like Benedict Anderson and Eric Hobsbawm also figure in as post-Zionists in the report.

The institute sent the report to the Israel Council for Higher Education, which is the statutory body responsible for Israeli universities, and the council, in turn, sent it to all of the university presidents. Joseph Klafter, President of Tel-Aviv University, actually askedseveral professors to hand over their syllabi for his perusal, though he later asserted that he had no intention of policing faculty members and was appalled by the report.

A few days later, the top headline of the Israeli daily Ha’aretz revealed that another right-wing organization, Im Tirtzu (If You Will It), had threatened Ben-Gurion University, where I am a professor and a former chair of the government and politics department. Im Tirtzu told the university's president, Rivka Carmi, that it would persuade donors to place funds in escrow unless the university took steps "to put an end to the anti-Zionist tilt" in its politics and government department. The organization demanded a change "in the makeup of the department's faculty and the content of its syllabi", giving the president a month to meet its ultimatum. This time my head was not the only one it wanted.
“…the assault on the Israeli academe is actually part of a much wider offensive against liberal values. Numerous forces in Israel are mobilizing in order to press forward an extreme-right political agenda.”

President Carmi immediately asserted that Im Tirtzu's demands were a serious threat to academic freedom. However, Minister of Education Gideon Sa'ar, who is also chairman of the Council for Higher Education, restricted hisresponse to a cursory statement that any move aimed at harming donations to universities must be stopped. Mr Sa'ar's response was disturbingly predictable. Only a few months earlier, he had spoken at an Im Tirtzu gathering, following its publication of a report about the so-called leftist slant of syllabi in Israeli political-science departments. At the gathering, he asserted that even though he had not read the report, its conclusions would be taken very seriously.

Although the recent scuffle seems to be about academic freedom, the assault on the Israeli academe is actually part of a much wider offensive against liberal values. Numerous forces in Israel are mobilizing in order to press forward an extreme-right political agenda.

They have chosen the universities as their prime target for two main reasons. First, even though Israeli universities as institutions have never condemned any government policy – not least the restrictions on Palestinian universities' academic freedom – they are home to many vocal critics of Israel's rights-abusive policies. Those voices are considered traitorous and consequently in need of being stifled. Joining such attacks are Americans like Alan M. Dershowitz, who in a recent visit to Tel-Aviv University called for the resignations of professors who supported the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli goods and divestment from Israeli companies until the country abides by international human-rights law. He named Rachel Giora and Anat Matar, both tenured professors at Tel Aviv University, as part of that group.

Second, all Israeli universities depend on public funds for about 90 per cent of their budget. This has been identified as an Achilles heel. The idea is to exploit the firm alliance those right-wing organizations have with government members and provide the ammunition necessary to make financial support for universities conditional on the dissemination of nationalist thought and the suppression of "subversive ideas". Thus, in the eyes of those right-wing Israeli organizations, the universities are merely arms of the government.
“…Im Tirtzu and other such organizations would not have been effective on their own; they depend on financial support from backers in the United States.”

And, yet, Im Tirtzu and other such organizations would not have been effective on their own; they depend on financial support from backers in the United States. As it turns out, some of their ideological allies are willing to dig deep into their pockets to support the cause.

The Rev. John C. Hagee, the leader of Christians United for Israel, has been Im Tirtzu's sugar daddy, and his ministries have provided the organization with at least 100,000 dollars. After Im Tirtzu's most recent attack, however, even Mr Hagee concluded that it had gone overboard and decided to stop giving funds. The Hudson Institute, a neo-conservative think tank that helped shape the Bush administration's Middle East policies, has funnelled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Institute for Zionist Strategies over the past few years, and was practically its only donor. For Christians United and the Hudson Institute, the attack on academic freedom is clearly also a way of advancing much broader objectives.

The Hudson Institute, for example, has neo-imperialist objectives in the Middle East, and a member of its Board of Trustees is in favour of attacking Iran. Christian United's eschatological position (whereby the “Second Coming” is dependent on the gathering of all Jews in Israel), includes support for such an attack. The scary partnership between such Israeli and American organizations helps reveal the true aims of this current assault on academic freedom: to influence Israeli policy and eliminate the few liberal forces that are still active in the country. The atmosphere within Israel is conducive to such intervention.

Nonetheless, Im Tirtzu's latest threat backfired, as did that of the Institute for Zionist Strategies' report; the assaults have been foiled for now. The presidents of all the universities in Israel condemned the reports and promised never to bow down to this version of McCarthyism.

Despite those declarations, the rightist organizations have actually made considerable headway. Judging from comments on numerous online news sites, the populist claim that the public's tax money is being used to criticize Israel has convinced many readers that the universities should be more closely monitored by the government and that "dissident" professors must be fired. Moreover, the fact that the structure of Israeli universities has changed significantly over the past five years, and that now most of the power lies in the hands of presidents rather than the faculty, will no doubt be exploited to continue the assault on academic freedom. Top university administrators are already stating that if the Israeli Knesset approves a law against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movementfor Palestine, the law will be used to fire faculty members who support the movement.
“…there is now the sense among many faculty members that a thought police has been formed – and that many of its officers are actually members of the academic community.”

More importantly, there is now the sense among many faculty members that a thought police has been formed – and that many of its officers are actually members of the academic community. The fact that students are turning themselves into spies and that syllabi are being collected sends a chilling message to faculty members across the country. I, for one, have decided to include in my syllabi a notice restricting the use of recording devices during class without my prior consent. And many of my friends are now using Gmail instead of the university email accounts for fear that their correspondence will in some way upset administrators.

Israeli academe, which was once considered a bastion of free speech, has become the testing ground for the success of the assault on liberal values. And although it is still extremely difficult to hurt those who have managed to enter the academic gates, those who have not yet passed the threshold are clearly being monitored.

I know of one case in which a young academic was not hired due to his membership inCourage to Refuse, an organization of reserve soldiers who refuse to do military duty in the West Bank. In the age of Google and Facebook, the thought police can easily disqualify a candidate based on petitions signed and even online "friends" one has. Israeli graduate students are following such developments, and for them the message is clear.

While in politics nothing is predetermined, Israel is heading down a slippery slope. Israeli academe is now an arena where some of the most fundamental struggles of a society are being played out. The problem is that instead of struggling over basic human rights, we are now struggling over the right to struggle.

Neve Gordon is the author of Israel's Occupation and can be contacted through his website A version of this article was originally published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The version here is published by permission of Neve Gordon.

vrijdag 27 augustus 2010

The Empire 640

Obama Resists Pressure for Red Line on Iran's Nuclear Capability

Washington - President Barack Obama's refusal in a White House briefing earlier this month to announce a "red line" in regard to the Iran nuclear programme represented another in a series of rebuffs of pressure from Defence Secretary Robert Gates for statement that the United States will not accept its existing stocks of low enriched uranium.
The Obama rebuff climaxed a months-long internal debate between Obama and Gates over the "breakout capability" issue which surfaced in the news media last April.
Gates has been arguing that Iran could turn its existing stock of low enriched uranium (LEU) into a capability to build a nuclear weapon secretly by using covert enrichment sites and undeclared sources of uranium.
That Gates argument implies that the only way to prevent Iran having enough bomb-grade uranium for nuclear weapons is to insist that Iran must give up most of its existing stock of LEU, which could be converted into enough bomb-grade uranium for one bomb.
But Obama has publicly rejected the idea that Iran's existing stock of LEU represents a breakout capability on more than one occasion. He has stated that Iran would have to make an overt move to have a "breakout capability" that would signal its intention to have a nuclear weapon.
Obama's most recent rebuff of the Gates position came in the briefing he gave to a select group of journalists Aug. 4.
Peter David of The Economist, who attended the Aug. 4 briefing, was the only journalist to note that Obama indicated to the journalists that he was not ready to lay down any public red lines "at this point". Instead, Obama said it was important to set out for the Iranians a clear set of steps that the U.S. would accept as proof that the regime was not pursuing a bomb.
Obama appeared to suggest that there are ways for Iran to demonstrate its intent not to build a nuclear bomb other than ending all enrichment and reducing its stock of low enriched uranium to a desired level.
Iran denies any intention of making nuclear weapons, but has made no secret that it wants to have enough low enriched uranium to convince potential adversaries that it has that option.
At a 2005 dinner in Tehran, Hassan Rowhani, then secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that Iran didn't need a nuclear weapon, as long as it had the "mastery of the fuel cycle" as a deterrent to external aggression.
Gates raised the issue of the Iranian ability to achieve a breakout capability in a three-page memorandum addressed to national security adviser Jim Jones in January 2010, as first reported in the New York Times Apr. 18.
In reporting the Gates memo, David E. Sanger of the New York Times wrote, "Mr. Gates's memo appears to reflect concerns in the upper echelons of the Pentagon and the military that the White House did not have a well-prepared series of alternatives in place in case all the diplomatic steps finally failed."
In the statement issued on the memo Apr. 18, Gates said it "identified next steps in our defense planning process where further interagency discussion and policy decisions would be needed in the months and weeks ahead."
The Sanger article appeared eight days after differences between Obama and Gates over the Iranian breakout capability issue had surfaced publicly in April.
Obama used an Apr. 1 interview with CBS News to distinguish between Iran's "trying to develop the capacity to develop nuclear weapons" from a decision to actually possess nuclear weapons.
"They might decide that, once they have that capacity that they'd hold off right at the edge - in order not to incur more sanctions," he observed. Obama talked about a new round of international sanctions as his response to that problem.
Hardliners in Washington wanted Obama to go further. David E. Sanger of the New York Times invited Obama in an Apr. 5 interview to draw the U.S. red line at an Iranian breakout capability, Obama refused to do so.
Sanger asked Obama whether the United States could "live with an Iran that runs right up to the edge" - precisely the scenario Obama had suggested as a distinct possibility four days earlier.
Obama's answer made it clear that he understood that Sanger was pushing the Gates line that there is no obvious firebreak between Iran's low enriched uranium stocks and a breakout capability.
"North Korea was said to be simply a nuclear-capable state until it kicked out the IAEA and became a self-professed nuclear state," said Obama.
But Gates went public a few days later with a sharply different position on the issue.
When David Gregory of interviewed both Clinton and Gates on NBC's "Meet the Press" Apr. 9, he had apparently been informed about differences of view within the administration on the issue of an Iranian "nuclear capability."
Gregory asked Clinton, "Is a nuclear-capable Iran as dangerous as a nuclear state of Iran?" to which Clinton answered, "Well, clearly weapons are more dangerous than potential."
Gregory then asked Gates whether a nuclear-capable Iran is "just as dangerous as being a nuclear state to your mind?"
Gates answered, "Only in this respect: how you differentiate how far, how far have they gone? If they - if their policy is to go to the threshold but not assemble a nuclear weapon, how do you tell that they have not assembled?"
Gates said he didn't know "how you would verify that".
That exchange would have confused anyone who was not an insider to the Washington policy debate on Iran. The real issue was not whether the United States could "tell that they have not assembled" but whether Iran could turn its stock of low enriched uranium into weapons-grade uranium without kicking out international inspectors first and signaling their intentions.
Israel and extreme alarmists in the United States have long argued that Iran could use covert enrichment sites to enrich uranium to bomb-grade levels and might have access to undeclared uranium stocks. But a source familiar with the issue told IPS that the Defence Department has not been claiming that there is any intelligence indicating secret Iranian sites or uranium supplies.
Gates appears to have been trying to maneuver Obama into adopting a policy under which the United States would have a reason for threatening Iran unless it agreed to divest itself of its low enriched uranium stocks and end enrichment.
Although he has opposed an attack on Iran in both Bush and Obama administrations, Gates has also been the primary advocate of creating "leverage" over Iran as well as over Russia and China in regard to tougher sanctions.
In an interview with Sanger in early 2008, quoted in Sanger's book, "The Inheritance", Gates said the main problem he had with the 2007 national intelligence estimate on Iran was that it "made our effort to strengthen sanctions more difficult, because people figured, well the military option is now off the table".
Thus far the Obama administration has not given emphasis to the threat of U.S. attack on Iran. Instead it has sought to use the threat of an Israeli attack on Iran as leverage, even as it warns the Israelis privately not to attempt such an attack.
*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.  

The Empire 639

War Profiteers' Corner - Steven R. Loranger

by: Nick Mottern, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis
The Colonial Williamsburg fife and drum corps lead AIA members to dinner on May 26, 2010 at their annual board of governors and membership meeting. (Image: AIA)
War profiteering is defined by Stuart Brandes in his book "Warhogs, a History of War Profits in America," as "a gain in economic well-being obtained as a result of military conflict."
As he shows, there is a long history of war profiteering in the United States and an equally long history of public disgust for it. One of the most quoted expressions of this disgust came from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in World War II: "I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster."
Brandes also notes there was a time when war was exceptional and war profiteering a nasty exceptional thing that accompanied it. But after World War II, the United States moved more and more to a status of permanent war.
In his new book "Washington Rules," former Army Col. Andrew Bacevich says a group of "semi-warriors" ... "some in uniform, others in suits," operators in the military-industrial complex, had by 1961 "gained de facto control of the U.S. government."
With this change, profiting from war has become permanent, so much a part of business life in the United States that it is accepted as normal. While US military people die in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan along with residents of those countries, the CEOs of US military suppliers receive personal incomes of millions of dollars a year.
This first article in the War Profiteers' Corner series focuses on Steven R. Loranger, head of ITT Corporation, simply because his company is based in Westchester County, New York, where I live and because I heard of its work on bomb releases for drone aircraft.
Loranger does not appear to be the most gross war profiteer. Indeed, he and others you will read about here seem to be typical of a group of individuals who are benefiting hugely from our wars, who are exempt from the sacrifices being imposed by the wars and who see no conflict of interest in lobbying to continue the wars.
It has been said that all politics is local. It is also true that all politics is personal. The people reported on in this series are individuals with their own private compulsions for wealth, power and extremely comfortable living, who have come together to be a major force, if not the major force behind Congressional support for our wars.
Steven R. Loranger - ITT Corporation
1. Pay
Loranger is chairman, president and CEO of ITT Corporation, one of the top 10 US military contractors as listed by Defense Loranger, 58, was paid $13,844,981 in 2009, according to ITT 2010 Proxy report. In addition, he received $213,048 for sitting on the board of directors of the FedEx Corporation, according to, bringing his income for 2009 to roughly $14 million. His ITT pay package in 2008 was $12.6 million.
The annual base pay for Adm. Mike Mullen, 63, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US military, is about $240,000 a year, and that of E-2 enlisted personnel is about $20,000 a year. The UN reports that the annual income of non-poppy-growing farmers in Afghanistan is about $2,000 a year.
The following questions were submitted to Loranger through the ITT press office:
Given the disparity between your annual income and that of individuals in the US military, do you see an ethical problem with accepting your current level of pay compared to military income while our current wars are underway, and would you explain your reasoning? Would you object to being called a war profiteer, and if so why?
Do you believe it is a conflict of interest for ITT to lobby for continued war funding when ITT stands to be a direct beneficiary of that funding, and would you explain your thinking on this?
An ITT press spokesperson said that ITT provides information on Loranger's compensation on the company web site, which contains the 2010 Proxy statement, and that there would be no other comment.
2. Residence
Loranger and his wife Betsy have a large, brick, Tudor home on 1.4 acres in Greenwich, Connecticut, purchased for $4 million in 2004, the same year he came to head ITT from his position as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Texton Inc., also a major military contractor.
Loranger home in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Loranger home in Greenwich, Connecticut. (Photo: Nick Mottern)
The house is in a secluded neighborhood comprised of large, elegant, beautifully maintained and landscaped homes bordering the Long Island Sound. The atmosphere is one of extreme gentility, separation and quiet. Loranger's street, though apparently a public way, has a gate at one end blocking through traffic. The speed bumps in the neighborhood are gently graded, painted white and marked by simple, square, white posts, painted with blue, Times-Roman-style lettering announcing: "Bump." Stop signs are in white with the same blue lettering.
3. The Military Work of ITT
ITT, according to its web site, derives 58 percent of its income, over $6.3 billion in 2009, from its military contracts. The company produces a variety of military electronic gear, such as jammers for signals used to set off land mines, communications equipment, night vision equipment and munitions release mechanisms for aircraft, including bomb releases for 1,000 lb. bombs carried by Predator drones.
Information about Reaper drone from ITT web site.
Source: ITT web site.
It is important to note that the number of reported drone assassination attacks has increased significantly under Barack Obama. For example, the BBC said on July 22, 2010, that the number of drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas "have more than tripled under the Obama Administration," from 25 between January 2008 and January 2009 to "at least 87 such attacks between January 20, 2009 and June 2010." The attacks can be made using bombs or missiles, for which ITT also produces launch tubes. The drone attacks have led to extensive civilian casualties and are subject of examination by the UN and others to determine whether and how they may violate international laws of war.
ITT also handles military facility maintenance, and in August 2010, it announced receiving two contracts for managing military facilities in Afghanistan and training Afghanis to take over this work. If all the contract options are exercised over a five-year period, ITT will receive the full contract amount totaling $800 million.
Praise for Loranger
In 2007, ITT pleaded guilty and paid a $100 million penalty for violating arms export prohibitions for transferring night vision technology to China, Singapore and Britain. The transfer occurred before Loranger came to ITT in 2004, and The New York Times reported that Loranger was praised by the federal prosecutor in the case, Robert Brownlee, because Loranger "quickly changed course" in ITT's handling of the case. Mr. Brownlee was also quoted saying that Loranger's "cooperation and strong leadership may have saved ITT from permanent ruin."
Million Dollar General 
ITT's military production and sales are the responsibility of Army Lt. Gen. (retired) David F. Melcher, senior vice president and resident, defense and information solutions. Melcher, a West Point graduate, who was paid $1.6 million in 2009, joined ITT in August 2008 after 32 years in the Army. His last military assignment was deputy for budget for the Army, its senior financial manager, according to a December 2008 ITT press release announcing his elevation to head ITT's defense work. The release went on to say:
"Dave's depth of understanding of our biggest customer, the U.S. Department of Defense, his knowledge of the workings of Capitol Hill and his strategic awareness of how the defense space is evolving will be invaluable assets as he takes on his new assignment," said Steve Loranger, chairman, president and chief executive officer ITT.
Water for Guns?
Anticipating reduced military spending, Barron's reported in March 2010 that ITT has apparently begun trying to expand the nonmilitary part of its business in pumps and water-related products and in commercial applications of military gear such as air control, space-based weather forecasting and satellite imaging. Barron's said: "Loranger is trying to parlay defense technologies into commercial applications, to tap into what he calls 'a wonderful macroeconomic trend related to resources scarcity, environmental sustainability and aging infrastructure.'" Loranger's writings about this "trend" have appeared in The Huffington Post, and he spoke on infrastructure at a Milken Institute conference in April 2010. If he increases his commercial business, Barron's said, ITT stock shares might rise more dramatically than the fairly healthy increase of 35 percent over 2009.
A more detailed description of ITT's military and commercial products appears on its web site
4. Personal Political Contributions
According to, Loranger, a Navy pilot from 1975 to 1982, and his wife each contributed $2,300 to the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain, who was also a Navy pilot and a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Senator McCain is the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and also serves on the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, both committees that have oversight of agencies doing business with ITT. In addition, Loranger contributed $2,112 in 2008 to the ITT Political Action Committee.
5. Personal Participation in Lobbying Organizations 
Aerospace Industry Association (AIA)
Loranger's political reach is extended by his membership on the executive committee of the Aerospace Industrial Association (AIA), a major Washington, DC, military contractor lobbying organization that boasts on its web site of a corporate membership of "an all time high of 120."
Loranger's AIA colleagues on the executive committee include the heads of the Boeing Company, Northrup Grumman Corporation, United Technologies, General Dynamics Corporation, Locheed Martin Corporation, L-3 Communications and Raytheon Company.
In May 2010, Loranger attended the AIA's 65th annual board of governors and membership meeting held at Colonial Williamburg, which, according to the AIA web site, attracted "230 CEOs, senior company representatives, speakers and staff."
The AIA members heard talks by, and had an opportunity to meet with,among others, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, Director of the Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Program Dr. Regina Dugan and Marine Corps Gen. James N. (Mad Dog) Mattis. At that time General Mattis was head of the Joint Forces Command; in August 2010, he replaced Gen. David Petraeus as commander of the United States Central Command when General Petraeus took over responsibility for the Afghanistan war.
In her presentation, Under Secretary Flournoy "called the trend lines in the defense budget 'unsustainable,'" according to the AIA web site, "and said that [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates' recent calls to reduce overhead and inefficiencies will ultimately allow for increased investments in programs."
(One of Secretary Gates' cost-cutting proposals, announced August 9, 2010, is to eliminate the Joint Forces Command that was headed by General Mattis.)
It is worth noting that, according to the AIA, General Mattis, who worked on the Army-Marine counterinsurgency manual with General Petraeus, talked to the group about the need to relax arms export controls. The Obama administration is moving to reduce the number of controls on arms exports, the McClatchy newspapers reported July 29, 2010, in an effort to enable the US to enlarge its current 30 percent market share. The US is the world's largest arms exporter with sales of $6.8 billion in 2009; Russia is No. 2 at $4.5 billion.
In September 2010, Loranger will participate in the Annual AIA "March to the Hill," a lobbying expedition for which Loranger will be a featured speaker. The event will include a "Wings of Liberty" reception at which Congressman Norm Dicks (D-Washington) will receive AIA's Wings of Liberty Award. Congressman Dicks is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee, which approves funding for military purchases. The award is made, the AIA web site says, "to Congressional leaders who have made significant contributions to bolster the aerospace industry."
Lobbying for More War
The AIA lobbied for Congressional passage of the emergency $59 billion supplemental funding that included $33 billion for expanding the Afghanistan War, warning in a July 12, 2010, press statement that unless the war funding was approved "very quickly ... the resulting disruptions to industrial supply lines will cause delays in critical equipment delivery, increased costs and could lead to lost jobs in the private sector."
Upon approval of the money, AIA issued a press statement on July 28 saying the group was "very pleased" because the funding "prevents serious repercussions to our warfighters from unnecessary cuts, delays or reprogramming from other contracts."
The Business Roundtable
Loranger is a member of The Business Roundtable, described by a Washington Post reporter as "President Obama's closest ally in the business community."

The Post reported on June 23, 2010, that Ivan G. Seidenberg, chair of the Roundtable and president and CEO of Verizon, had complained that Democrats "are pursuing tax increases, policy changes and regulatory actions that together threaten to dampen economic growth." Nevertheless, the article continued, Mr. Seidenberg said, "he has visited the White House more times in the past year than 'the previous 16.'"
Other military contractors represented on the Roundtable include: The Boeing Company, Bechtel Group Inc., General Electric Company, Textron Inc. and United Technologies Corporation.
On March 12, 2009, Loranger was listed by the White House as being among 65 Business Roundtable members who would meet that day with President Obama.
For his 2008 campaign, President Obama received $1.03 million from what Open Secrets categorized as the "defense" industry, compared to $701,400 to John McCain contributed by that industry. These totals represent contributions from military industry political action committees and individuals working for military contractors.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation
Loranger is a member of the board of directors of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, which, along with Medal of Honor recipients, includes the heads of The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Company, General Dynamics Corporation and TriWest Healthcare Alliance, which handles health care insurance for the US military.
The stated purpose of the foundation is to "reach out to the American citizens, particularly to its youth, to promote awareness of what the Medal of Honor represents and how ordinary Americans through courage, sacrifice, selfless service and patriotism can challenge fate and change the course of history."
It may be that Loranger and his fellow board members from the corporate world have genuine feelings for those who have received the Medal of Honor and the values it represents. At the same time, it is clear that the foundation offers the military contractors the opportunity to associate themselves with the "courage, sacrifice, selfless service and patriotism" of military service and gain from whatever positive feelings for their corporations and themselves that may be stimulated among the public by their support of the foundation.
5. ITT Corporation Lobbying
(All dollar amounts are from Open
In the years 2008 through 2010 (to date), ITT has spent $7.526 million to influence Congress, a sum comprised of its spending on its own and other paid lobbyists and in contributions to Congressional candidates from the ITT Political Action Committee (PAC).
A portion of this spending would necessarily advance ITT interests outside its military work, but given the company's concerns about declining military spending, it would probably be safe to say that the emphasis has been on "defense" issues. Certainly, this is the case in reviewing its support for Congressional candidates, discussed at the close of this section.
Paid Lobbyists
ITT Corporation - ITT has its own lobbying staff of three to four people, and spent the following in this work:
2010 (to date) - $830,000.
2009 - $1,540,000.
2008 - $2,100,000.
J.A. Green & Co. - Total ITT spending with J.A. Green & Co. 2008 - 2010 (to date) $320,000. Total lobbying income for this firm in 2010 to date is $650,000.
Jeff Green, president of this firm, is a former counsel for the House Armed Services Committee and a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, who specializes in "defense" lobbying and consulting. He was also legislative director for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the agency that oversaw the occupation of Iraq, in its Office of Legislative Affairs where, the firm's web site says, he worked with "senior CPA, Department of Defense, Department of State, Office of Management and Budget and White House officials."
The Green firm's military-related clients in addition to ITT, include the International Peace Operations Association, also called The Association of the Stability Operations Industry. This is a trade group for corporations providing mercenary forces, sometimes called "private contractors," tens of thousands of whom are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. These clients include: Armor Group, Dyncorp International, Olive Group and Triple Canopy.
Other military contractors represented by Green include: Oshkosh Corporation (maker of armored vehicles), Airborne Systems and ADCOR Industries.
Denny Miller Associates  - Total ITT spending with Denny Miller Associates 2008-2010(to date) - $260,000. Total lobbying income for this firm in 2010 (to date) is $2.75 million.
Denny Miller, president of his firm, gained his Capitol Hill experience, according to the firm's web site, working for the late Sen. Henry Jackson, assisting him in his post as ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, senior member of the Intelligence and Governmental Affairs Committees.
Miller clients include the following military contractors: the Boeing Company, General Dynamics, General Electric, Motorola, Oshkosh Corporation, Raytheon Co. and SAIC Inc.
PMA Group - Total ITT spending with PMA Group in the years 2006 - 2009 - $1.45 million. (ITT spending for this lobbyist for the years 2006-2007 is not included in the overall lobbying total cited above for 2008-2010.)
The PMA Group, which was shut down in March 2009, was operated by Paul Magliocchetti, a former senior staffer working on the House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee for the then chair, the late Congressman John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania). Magliocchetti was arrested by the FBI on August 5, 2010, charged with using PMA funds to make illegal campaign contributions and making false statements to a federal agency.
The FBI press release on the arrest says that Magliocchetti "orchestrated a scheme to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal conduit and corporate contributions in an effort to enrich himself and PMA by increasing the firm's influence, power and prestige among the firm's current and potential clients, as well as among the elected officials to whom PMA and its lobbyists sought access." In this scheme, the release said Mr. Magliocchetti used "straw donors" to make campaign contributions exceeding legal limits to "scores of federal campaign committees." The release said the committees were not aware of the scheme.
Nonetheless, the Sunlight Foundation reported July 9, 2009 that:
"Some of the dozen lawmakers that the Center for Responsive Politics identified as the top recipients of (PMA) donations continued to request earmarks for organizations (including ITT) that had been clients of the firm ...." (Earmarks specify which firms will receive contracts for various projects, avoiding normal bidding procedures.)
The Sunlight report said that Congressman Jim Moran (D-Virginia), a member of the House Appropriations Committee and PMA fund recipient, made two earmark requests for ITT projects totaling $202.4 million in FY 2010, significantly larger than any other earmark total reported by Sunlight.
As indicated above, ITT spent liberally with PMA. In 2007, ITT was PMA's largest client, paying the firm $600,000, and in 2008, it competed for top spot, paying $550,000 compared to the $560,000 paid by DRS Technologies, another military contractor.
Campaign Contributions
ITT's Political Action Committee has donated a total of $222,943 to candidates for the House and Senate in 2010 and $189,000 in 2008.
The following lists ITT support of candidates for the House of Representatives in 2010, sublisting members of key committees for military contractors, Congress' appropriations and armed services committees.
House Candidates Receiving ITT PAC Money in 2010
Members of House Appropriations Committee
Boyd, Allen (D-Florida) - $2,500
Calvert, Ken (R-California) - $1,000
Carter, John (R-Texas) - $1,000
Dicks, Norm (D-Washington)* - $5,000 (Defense Subcomm. Chair)
Frelinghuysen, Rodney (D-New Jersey)* - $3,500
Israel, Steve (D-New York) - $4,500
Lewis, Jerry (R-California)* - $7,500
Lowey, Nita (D-New York) - $2,500
Moran, Jim (D-Virginia)* - $10,000
Murphy, Patrick (D-Pennsylvania) - $5,000
Murtha, John (D-Pennsylvania)* - $5,000 (Deceased)
Olver, John (D-Massachusetts) - $3,500
Rogers, Hal (R-Kentucky)* - $1,000
Rothman, Steven (D-New Jersey)* - $10,000
Ruppersberger, Dutch (D-Maryland) - $2,500
Ryan, Tim (D-Ohio) - $1,000
Visclosky, Pete (D-Indiana)* - $6,000
Young, C.W. Bill (R-Florida) - $2,500
*Members of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee
Members of House Armed Services Committee
Coffman, Mike (R-Colorado) - $1,000
Fleming, John (R-Louisiana) - $1,000
Franks, Trent (R-Arizona) - $1,000
Heinrich, Martin (D-New Mexico) - $3,000
Hunter, Duncan (R-California) - $1,000
Lamborn, Douglas (R-Colorado) - $3,000
McKeon, Howard (R-California) - $6,500
Owens, Bill (D-New York) - $1,000
Reyes, Silvestre (D-Texas)- $2,500
Rogers, Mike (R-Alabama) - $1,000
Rooney, Tom (R-Florida) - $1,000
Skelton, Ike (D-Missouri) - $5,000 (Chair)
Thornberry, Mac (R-Texas) - $1,000
Turner, Michael (R-Ohio) - $1,000
Wittman, Rob (R-Virginia) - $3,000
Connolly, Gerry (D-Virginia) - $6,500
Costello, Jerry (D-Illinois) - $3,500
Cramer, Bud (D-Alabama) - ($4,557)
Dent, Charlie (R-Pennsylvania) - $3,000
Gallegly, Elton (R-California) - $3,500
Goodlatte, Bob (R-Virginia) - $4,000
Griffith, Parker (R-Alabama) - $3,000
Hill, Baron (D-Indiana) - $1,000
Massa, Eric (D-New York) - $2,500 (Retired)
Matheson, Jim (D-Utah) - $5,000
McCarthy, Carolyn (D-New York) - $5,000
McCarthy, Kevin (R-California) - $1,000
McNerney, Jerry (D-California) - $1,000
Miller, Candice (R-Michigan) - $1,000
Oberstar, James (D-Minnesota) - $2,500
Pascrell, Bill Jr. (D-New Jersey) - $7,500
Petri, Tom (R-Wiconsin) - $2,500
Rohrabacher, Dana (R-California) - $1,000
Sherman, Brad (D-California) - $4,000
Shuster, Bill (R-Pennsylvania) - $1,000
Slaughter, Louise (D-New York) - $1,000
Souder, Mark (R-Indiana) - $7,000
Tiberi, Patrick (R-Ohio) - $1,000
Wolf, Frank (R-Virginia) - $5,000
Senate Candidates Receiving ITT PAC Money in 2010
Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee
Dorgan, Byron (D-North Dakota) - $1,000
Feinstein, Dianne (D-California) - $3,000
Inouye, Daniel (D-Hawaii) - $2,000 (Chair)
Mikulski, Barbara (D-Maryland) - $2,500
Murray, Patty (D-Washington) - $7,500
Shelby, Richard (R-Alabama) - $6,000
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Bayh, Evan (D-Indiana) - $1,500
Webb, James (D-Virginia) - $2,500
Bennett, Robert (R-Utah) - $2,500
Boxer, Barbara (D-California) - $1,000
Coats, Daniel (R-Indiana) - $1,000
Ellsworth, Brad (D-Indiana) - $8,500
Gillibrand, Kirsten (D-New York) - $2,000
Hatch, Orrin (R-Utah) - $2,500
Schumer, Charles (D-New York) - $5,000
(The bold face type indicates the Congress members supported by ITT who voted against the $59 billion emergency supplemental bill that included $33 billion for expanding the Afghanistan War.)
The ethical and moral concerns raised by the conduct of Loranger and other corporate leaders in campaigning for weapons and war financing lead to profound foreign policy, military and economic questions.
  • How much is the military industry responsible for the notions that the US must maintain a global military presence and pursue "preventive" wars.
In "Washington Rules," Bacevich calls for redefining US military and foreign policy goals to bring US military forces back home from around the world, and refocus taxpayer money on nation building in the US. Can he get a serious hearing in Washington?
  • If all US weapons were invented and built by US government arsenals and factories would the US have a different foreign policy and different, more effective, more economical and possibly more discriminating weapons? Would this change US military tactics and war strategy and result in less violence against civilians?
  •  If corporations continue to produce US weapons, should weapons building be split off from the civilian work being done by the corporations? Should military contractors be prohibited from lobbying and making campaign contributions? Should the pay for the leaders of these firms be capped at the level of the pay of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or less?
These considerations will be revisited and others will be discovered as this series progresses and we all learn more.

donderdag 26 augustus 2010

Chris Floyd

Empire Burlesque - Chris Floyd

Link to Chris Floyd

Posted: 24 Aug 2010 07:13 AM PDT
The Peace Laureate and his apologists – along with all the well-wadded neoconmen and their strange bedfellows, the liberal interventionists – may like to proclaim that the Iraq War is over (and we won!), but those actually fighting the war know that – as Cab Calloway liked to say of the stories you’re liable to read in the Bible – it ain’t necessarily so. From the Army Times: Combat brigades in Iraq under different name.

As the final convoy of the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., entered Kuwait early Thursday, a different Stryker brigade remained in Iraq.

Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division are deployed in Iraq as members of an Advise and Assist Brigade, the Army’s designation for brigades selected to conduct security force assistance.

So while the “last full U.S. combat brigade” have left Iraq, just under 50,000 soldiers from specially trained heavy, infantry and Stryker brigades will stay, as well as two combat aviation brigades ...

There are seven Advise and Assist Brigades in Iraq, as well as two additional National Guard infantry brigades “for security,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Craig Ratcliff. ...

The Army selected brigade combat teams as the unit upon which to build advisory brigades partly because they would be able to retain their inherent capability to conduct offensive and defensive operations, according to the Army’s security force assistance field manual, which came out in May 2009. This way, the brigade can shift the bulk of its operational focus from security force assistance to combat operations if necessary.

That is to say, they can do what combat troops throughout history have always been able to do: ride herd on a conquered people when they're down (or "provide security force assistance," in our demure modern parlance), and lash out with heavy power when the natives get restless.

Or to put it another way, what we have in Iraq now is 50,000+ combat troops doing what combat troops do. And forty tons of lipstick won't obscure the swinish nature of this continuing war crime.

In any case, the Peacer's war leader in the aggression-ravaged country says that we can always more amounts of combat troops back into Iraq to join the combat troops still there in the highly unlikely event that the "security forces" of the local client government should -- perish the thought -- prove to be inadequate to the task of making the country safe for Halliburton and Shell. As Jason Ditz reports (see original for links):

Though the Obama Administration’s claims that the war in Iraq is “over” is a myth to begin with, top US Commander in Iraq Gen. Ray Odierno today detailed the possibility of US forces “returning” to Iraq in larger numbers.

Odierno insists this would “only” happen if Iraq’s security forces suffer a complete failure in the ability to provide security in Iraq. And while Odierno insists “we don’t see that happening,” the reality on the ground makes this all the more plausible.

Oh and of course, we will also keep our combat troops in Iraq if the client government we installed asks us too -- surely yet another astronomically unlikely scenario, but hey, you never know, do you?

Odierno added that he was certain the US would consider staying in Iraq beyond 2011 if asked by the Iraqi government. But clearly as the situation worsens on the ground the question of spinning the drawdown as the “end” of the war will transition more into the question of “reinvading” Iraq ....

The hell we have made in Iraq -- "between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums ... the killing of innocent people ... part of daily life," as Adil Shamoo aptly puts it -- is far from over. And if our militarist elites have their way, it will never end.

To such people, one can only echo Tolstoy's damning words:

"And do not say that you do what you do for the people: that is untrue. All the horrible things you do, you do for yourself, for your own mercenary, vainglorious, vengeful, personal reasons, so that you can live a bit longer in that state of corruption in which you live, and which seems to you a blessing."

*Quotation taken from William Nickell's remarkable new book, The Death of Tolstoy: Russia on the Eve, Astapovo Station, 1910.

woensdag 25 augustus 2010

The Empire 638

There Are No Heroes In Illegal And Immoral Wars
By Robert Jensen
August 24, 2010 "Information Clearing House-- 

When the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division rolled out of Iraq last week, the colonel commanding the brigade told a reporter that his soldiers were “leaving as heroes.”
While we can understand the pride of professional soldiers and the emotion behind that statement, it’s time for Americans -- military and civilian -- to face a difficult reality: In seven years of the deceptively named “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and nine years of “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan, no member of the U.S. has been a hero.
This is not an attack on soldiers, sailors, and Marines. Military personnel may act heroically in specific situations, showing courage and compassion, but for them to be heroes in the truest sense they must be engaged in a legal and morally justifiable conflict. That is not the case with the U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq or Afghanistan, and the social pressure on us to use the language of heroism -- or risk being labeled callous or traitors -- undermines our ability to evaluate the politics and ethics of wars in a historical framework.
The legal case is straightforward: Neither invasion had the necessary approval of the United Nations Security Council, and neither was a response to an imminent attack. In both cases, U.S. officials pretended to engage in diplomacy but demanded war. Under international law and the U.S. Constitution (Article 6 is clear that “all Treaties made,” such as the UN Charter, are “the supreme Law of the Land”), both invasions were illegal.

The moral case is also clear: U.S. officials’ claims that the invasions were necessary to protect us from terrorism or locate weapons of mass destruction were never plausible and have been exposed as lies. The world is a more dangerous place today than it was in 2001, when sensible changes in U.S. foreign policy and vigorous law enforcement in collaboration with other nations could have made us safer.
The people who bear the greatest legal and moral responsibility for these crimes are the politicians who send the military to war and the generals who plan the actions, and it may seem unfair to deny the front-line service personnel the label of “hero” when they did their duty as they understood it. But this talk of heroism is part of the way we avoid politics and deny the unpleasant fact that these are imperial wars. U.S. military forces are in the Middle East and Central Asia not to bring freedom but to extend and deepen U.S. power in a region home to the world’s most important energy resources. The nation exercising control there increases its influence over the global economy, and despite all the U.S. propaganda, the world realizes we have tens of thousands of troops on the ground because of those oil and gas reserves.
Individuals can act with courage and compassion serving in imperial armies. There no doubt were soldiers among the British forces in colonial India who acted heroically, and Soviet soldiers stationed in Eastern Europe were capable of bravery. But they were serving in imperial armies engaged in indefensible attempts to dominate and control. They were fighting not for freedom but to advance the interests of elites in their home countries.
I recognize the complexity of the choices the men and women serving in our military face. I am aware that economic realities and the false promises of recruiters lure many of them into service. I am not judging or condemning them. Judgments and condemnations should be aimed at the powerful, who typically avoid their responsibility. For example, a journalist recently asked Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, to reflect on U.S. culpability for the current state of Iraqi politics. Crocker was reluctant to go there, and then refused even to consider the United States’ moral responsibility: “You can ask the question, was the whole bloody thing a mistake?” he said. “I don’t spend a lot of time on that.”
It’s not surprising U.S. policymakers don’t want to reflect on the invasions, but the public must. Until we can tell the truth about U.S. foreign policy, and how the military is used to advance that policy in illegal and immoral ways, we will remain easy marks for the politicians and their propagandists.
Part of that propaganda campaign is suggesting that critics of the war don’t support the troops, don’t recognize their sacrifices, don’t appreciate their heroism. We escape the propaganda by not playing that game, by telling the truth even when it is painful.
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, (Soft Skull Press, 2009); Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights, 2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2002). Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film “Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing,” which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist. Information about the film, distributed by the Media Education Foundation, and an extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff are online at
Jensen can be reached at and his articles can be found online at To join an email list to receive articles by Jensen, go to