zaterdag 24 mei 2014

Vladimir Putin's Speech

Putin: What we see now is full-scale civil war in Ukraine

Published on May 24, 2014
Though Ukraine continues to plunge into chaos, Russia is ready to work with whoever is elected in the presidential elections on May 25, President Vladimir Putin said. He added that after the ballot all military actions must be stopped in the country.

Fight Against the Corrupt Elites 2

What Is The New Populism?

Friday, 23 May 2014 19:38By Robert BorosageCampaign For America's Future | Op-Ed
2014 524 pop fwCartoon shows William Jennings Bryan/Populism, a dominant force in the populist wing of the Democratic Party from the 1890s until his death, swallowing up the mule representing the Democratic party. (Photo: DoD)
These remarks were prepared for delivery at The New Populism Conference in Washington, May 22, 2014.
What is the new populism? The Princeton dictionary defines populism as "a political doctrine that supports the rights and powers of the common people in their struggle with the privileged elite."
Not bad for a dictionary.
The New Populism arises from the stark truth about today's America: Too few people control too much money and power, and they're using that control to rig the rules to protect and extend their privileges.
This economy does not work for working people. This isn't an accident. It isn't an act of God. It isn't due to forces of technology and globalization that can't be changed. It isn't a mistake. It is a power grab.
Decades of deregulation and top-end tax cuts, of soaring CEO pay and assaults on unions, of conservative myths and market fundamentalism have recreated Gilded Age extremes of wealth and power. Once more a new American plutocracy is emerging, doing what plutocrats always do – corrupting government to protect and expand their fortunes.
Americans don't tolerate self-perpetuating aristocracies easily. Opposition to aristocratic wealth is as American as apple pie, dating back to the American Revolution, to Jefferson who warned about the "aristocracy of monied corporations."
The Populist Tradition
The movement that gave populism its name swept out of the Plains states in the late 19th century as small farmers and steelworkers, day laborers and sharecroppers came together to take on the trusts, the railroads, the distant banks that were impoverishing them.
They railed against a government that handed public lands to the railroads, kept interest rates high, coddled monopolies and cracked the heads of workers trying to organize.
But in challenging the corrupted government, they came to a profound realization: that in the emerging industrial economy, simply cutting back government and limiting its powers would only free monopolies and banks to gouge even more from workaday Americans.
They concluded that they had to take back the government, turning it from the arm of the privileged to the people's ally.
This led to two other challenges. First, they had to mobilize people to counter what Roosevelt called "organized money."
And second, protest wasn't enough. They had to invent new ideas, sweeping reforms to make the economy work for working people.
That populist movement lasted only a few years as an independent party, but the reforms it championed set the agenda for progressives for more than half a century – the minimum wage, the eight-hour workday, antitrust laws, the progressive income tax, a flat ban on subsidies to private corporations, and worker cooperatives. It mobilized millions around a new monetary policy. It pushed to expand democracy through direct elections of senators, initiatives and referenda. There's a direct line from the Omaha Platform of the People's Party in 1892 to FDR's Four Freedoms and Economic Bill of Rights, to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, whose 50th anniversary we honor this week.
Today's new populism stands in that tradition.
People aren't worried that the rich have lots of money. This isn't about envy; it is about power – that the privileged and entrenched interests rig the game, so the economy does not work for working people.
Billionaires like Sheldon Anderson toy with politicians as if they were miniature plastic puppets. Millionaires pay lower taxes than their secretaries. Multinationals stash profits abroad and pay lower taxes than mom-and-pop stores. After all, as hotel magnate Leona Helmsley famously said, "only little people pay taxes."
Wall Street bankers – the folks whose excesses blew up the economy and cost millions their homes and their jobs – were bailed out. Now they are back, posturing as masters of the universe once more, apparently immune from prosecution for the epidemic of fraud they profited from. Jails, after all, are for little people.
The top 1 percent is capturing fully 95 percent of the nation's income growth. CEO salaries are up and corporate profits hit record heights, while workers incomes are stagnating and insecurity is rising.
Mobilized People vs. Mobilized Money
What will it take to make this economy work for working people again? Mobilized people will need to take on organized money. Investments in areas vital to our future can be paid for with progressive taxes. But redistribution isn't enough. Sweeping structural reforms – expanding shared security, making work pay, curbing Wall Street speculation, balancing trade and more – are essential to any new deal.
The American people get it. They don't need to be convinced on the issues. CAF is issuing a report today at that documents the simple fact: the majority of Americans are with us. Citizens United? Four of five Americans want it repealed, including three-fourths of Republicans. Raise the minimum wage? No question. Curb Wall Street? Lloyd Blankfein may think Goldman Sachs is doing "God's work," but Americans want more accountability. Protect Social Security and Medicare? Even Tea Partiers agree.
This new populism is not something we have to invent. It is already stirring. It is Occupy Wall Street putting Gilded Age inequality at the center of our political debate. It's exploited low-wage workers protesting fast-food restaurants in over 150 cities. A left-right congressional coalition forming against continuing ruinous corporate trade policies. Moral Monday protests against the assault on voting rights and the vulnerable mobilizing thousands in North Carolina and are spreading to Georgia and South Carolina. A feisty citizen's opposition growing in rural areas to block big oil's effort to frack their lands.
We can see it in the culture. The new Pope condemning the modern "idolatry of money" and the "tyranny of unfettered capitalism." Or bizarrely, a 685-page book by an obscure French economist about wealth inequality heading the best-seller lists along with Danielle Steele's steamy new novel, "First Sight."
Forceful leaders are emerging like senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders; Rep. Keith Ellison; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. The demand for change is rising from activists in the heart of the Obama majority, the rising American electorate of millennials, people of color and single women that have fared the worst in this economy. The organized base of the Democratic Party, from unions to community and civil rights groups, women and environmentalists, are pushing an agenda far bolder and broader than that now before the public.
Democrats in the Senate have now moved to a "fair shot" agenda, calling for raising the minimum wage, pay equity, paid family leave, and lowering student loan interest rates paid for by taxing millionaires. A Forbes Magazine columnist warns the GOP that they can't ignore the new "populist wave." Sen. Rand Paul argues that Republicans can't simply be the party of "fat cats, rich people and Wall Street." It might be too late for that.
The Challenge
Washington is gridlocked by Republican obstruction, so people are driving reforms from the bottom up. The minimum wage is being hiked from Hawaii to Maryland to Seattle, where it is headed to $15 an hour. Californians voted to tax the rich to invest in schools. Cleveland uses government procurement to support locally based, worker-owned cooperatives. Over a hundred cities have joined the call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
Pundits suggest that Republicans have the advantage in the low-turnout 2014 elections, with the Democratic base discouraged by the lousy economy. Elites in both parties warn against a new populism, as if the old politics held any answers for people.
But this isn't about one election or one leader. The pressure for change is only beginning. People are waking up to the fact that the game is rigged. They won't tolerate it for long. It will take muckraking, organizing, teaching, protests and demonstrations, new ideas and new allies. It will face fierce resistance. The wealthy and entrenched interests will spend lavishly to defend their privileges. Our system is designed to clog change, not facilitate it.
But when the people speak, politicians listen. And this new populist movement has only just begun. The stakes are fundamental – whether the democracy can in fact check the power of great wealth and entrenched interests. This is the challenge facing our democracy and for each one of us privileged to be its citizens.
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.


Robert L. Borosage is the founder and president of the Institute for America’s Future and co-director of its sister organization, the Campaign for America’s Future.

Fight Against the Corrupt Elites

Published on Friday, May 23, 2014 by Common Dreams

Can a New Populist Movement Fight Off American Oligarchy?

Amid push for "new populist" agenda, can progressives ignite a grassroots insurgency, battle both parties, and save the democracy?

- Jon Queally, staff writer
If Hillary Clinton remains the uncontested voice of her party, what next for progressives who say they know too well where Wall Street-friendly economics and a hawkish foreign policy will take the nation? (Photo: Shutterstock)Bernie is "seriously considering" it.
Warren says, "I'm not running."
A few Democratic governors are reportedly dabbling.
But with progressives nationwide yearning for a bold populist movement, is there any chance their hopes will be met in the upcoming midterm elections or on the 2016 presidential battlefield?
At the 'New Populism Conference' hosted by the Campaign for America's Future on Thursday, a number of progressive thinkers and activists—not to mention Senators Warren and Sanders themselves—spoke to the idea of the "new populism" they say is desperately needed to release the nation from the stranglehold of corporate interests and a politics dominated by big money.
"So we must to have an independent movement which says, 'It doesn't matter who's in power! There are some things that are just right and we demand that they be done!'"
—Rev. William Barber
Striking a resolute and outside message at the conference was Rev. William Barber—head of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Monday protests in his state—who rejected the idea that hope should come from Washington, DC or the establishment of either major party.
During his remarks at the conference poduim, Barber pointed to the lessons of the Civil Rights movement more than a generation ago and thundered: "They built a movement in spite of the odds," and cited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said: "There comes a time when you have to stop being a thermometer and instead change the temperature of the situation in which you exist!"
Barber said a truly populist and progressive movement must face off against both parties. "I'm sorry to tell you, if no one did," said Barber, "but sometimes Democrats don't do what they should even when they have the power. And Republicans do what they shouldn't do when they have the power."
The real solution, Barber declared, is "to have an independent movement which says, 'It doesn't matter who's in power! There are some things that are just right and we demand that they be done!'"
Defining its idea of what the term "new populism" means and why its necessary, Robert Borosage, president of CFA, presented a report by the group on Tuesday called, The New Populism: A Movement and Agenda to Transform America’s Economy and Politics.
According to the report:
For progress to be made, the demand must come from outside the Beltway, from the people up, not Washington down. This will take a movement. And that new populist movement is already being built.
Modern-day muckrakers are revealing just how the game is fixed and who is on take. Popular mobilizations – online and in communities – are rising up to challenge the powers that be, in the streets and in the boardrooms. Workers all over America are standing up for decent pay and benefits on the job. Citizens of conscience are raising a moral voice at injustices that need not be. The impoverished, the young, and the locked out are starting to demand jobs and justice. We need new leaders to join the sturdy band willing to take on special interests and big money. This won’t get built in a day, or in one election, or in one administration.
But this is America’s hope. America’s founders were deeply suspicious of the dangers of entrenched privilege. The question always was whether the people could use the instruments of democracy to counter the influence of the plutocrats.
In that context, during her remarks to the conference audience, Warren declared:
The tilt in the playing field is everywhere. When conservatives talk about opportunity, they mean opportunities for the rich to get richer, for the powerful to get more powerful. They don’t mean opportunities for a young person facing $100,000 in student loan debt to start a life, for someone out of work to get back on his feet, for someone who worked hard all her life to retire with dignity.
The game is rigged. The rich and the powerful have lobbyists, lobbyists and lawyers and plenty of friends in Congress. Everyone else, not so much.
Now we can whine about it. We can whimper. Or we can fight back. Me? I’m fighting back.
Acoording to The HIll, after Warren concluded her remarks, the crowd began shouting, "Run, Elizabeth, run."
"I appreciate the thought," Warren said with a smile, the newspaper reported. Then added: "I am not running for president."
In an interview with The Hill, CFA's co-founder Roger Hickey said, "Hillary Clinton, if she decides to run, should be talking about the kinds of issues we've been talking about today."
Noting his skepticism of Clinton's record and her continued silence on key issues now facing the nation, he said: "There are a lot of things that she hasn't clarified."
When he took the stage later in the day, Sen. Sanders also sounded the populist message, arguing that the struggle throughout all of American history has been about the "rights" and "dignity" for those who have been refused or deprived of either. Continuing, he said the ultimate goal for progressives has always been to "create a more just and democratic society" than the one before we live in. "That's been the struggle," he said and is now.
"Today," Sanders said, "so few have so much and too many have so little. So I conclude by urging you and begging you not to turn your backs on the political process. Now, more than ever, we need people educating other people; we need people organizing in a way they we have never done before."
Comparing the need for a progressive and populist movement to counter the money and influence of corporate interests and billionaires like the Koch brothers, Sanders said: "What we have going for us—that they don't have going for them—is the overwhelming majority of the American agree with virtually everything [that this new populist movement] believes in."
Sanders rejected the idea of blue states vs. red states and told the crowd what's needed is a national effort to organize around the progressive populist message "in fifty states in this country" and told activists they should not concede a single one.
"The stakes are enormously high," Sanders told the crowd. "What we're fighting for is whether or not the middle class survives, whether we retain our democratic structure of government or whether we evolve into a political and economic oligarchy."
He concluded: "Now is not the time to turn our backs on the struggle. Now is the time to re-double our efforts."
Watch Sen. Warren's entire speech here:
Watch the entire day of speakers here:

vrijdag 23 mei 2014

De Mainstream Pers 219

In Shadows of Liberty vertelt Robert Baer, Middle-East Field Officer van de CIA in de periode 1976 tot 1997, dat de zogeheten Iraqi National Congress door de VS zelf was opgericht als oppositiegroep tegen het regime van Saddam Hoessein en dat het Amerikaanse PR-concern The Rendon Group de propaganda verzon om een illegale inval in Irak te rechtvaardigen:

So what happened was that the Iraqi National Congress were asked to provide 'evidence' of weapons of mass destruction. Tell the White House what it wants to hear. It was a complete act of deceit from the beginning. 

De westerse 'vrije pers' was maar al te bereid om de leugens te verspreiden om de illegale inval te rechtvaardigden, en daarmee de gewelddadige schending van de soevereiniteit van een ander land. Als ik mij beperk tot Nederland: de hoogleraar Ko Colijn, sinds 1 mei 2011 directeur van Instituut Clingendael beweerde met grote stelligheid op televisie en in het tijdschrift Vrij Nederland van 15 februari 2003:

Daarbij gaat het niet meer om de vraag of Saddam Hoessein massavernietigingswapens verbergt – niemand twijfelt daar nog aan... Niemand, ook Chirac en Schröder niet, bestrijdt dat Powell gelijk had met zijn bewijzen.

'Niemand' dus, behalve dan de miljoenen burgers die wereldwijd tegen de inval protesteerden en de weinige kritische journalisten die gewoon hun huiswerk deden. Maar aangezien dissidenten in 'de Vrije Wereld' niet meetellen behoorden die tot de 'nobody's.' Burgers die zich niet lieten leiden door de 'complete act of deceit' werden afgedaan als dwaze 'complotdenkers.' Dat de mainstream journalisten niets geleerd hebben van de wijze waarop ze als loopjongens werden misbruikt door 'all the crap they were fed' (Chris Hedges) te geloven, blijkt nu opnieuw uit hun houding ten opzichte van bijvoorbeeld Syrië, Iran, Venezuela, Oekraïne en Rusland. De functie van propagandist voor Washington en Wall Street is geen exces maar de normale reflex van mijn collega's, zo heb ik de afgelopen vier decennia van nabij kunnen aanschouwen. Ik heb hierover talloze keren geschreven, overigens zonder dat ik in al die jaren ook maar één keer (!) een weerwoord heb mogen ontvangen. Dit is deels te verklaren uit het feit dat dissidenten gemarginaliseerd worden en deels omdat degenen die worden aangesproken domweg geen reactie op de kritische feiten kunnen geven. En dus reageren ze niet en blijven ze gevangen in het kleine kringetje van elkaar bevestigende cliché's. Het enige dat verandert is hun uiterlijk, naarmate de tijd verstrijkt zien ze er steeds meer uitgeblust uit. Een frictieloos leven, waarin elke controverse wordt vermeden, doet elke ontwikkeling stagneren.

Terug naar de legitimering voor de illegale inval in Irak. In Shadows of Liberty vertelt de Britse onderzoeksjournalist Pratap Chatterjee, Executive Director van de Amerikaanse organisatie CorpWatch dat het PR-concern The Rendon Group een Iraakse oppositiepartij schiep, de Iraqi National Congress (INC), dat door het Witte Huis gebruikt kon worden in de propagandastrijd tegen het regime van Saddam Hoessein. 

The Rendon Group provided tens of millions of dollars to create this political party, really a kind of figment of imagination in some ways. It had no backing in Iraq. 

Vervolgens,  'with the Bush administration determined to make a case for war they called on the Iraqi National Congress.' Deze 'oppositie' was natuurlijk niet voor niets door Washington in het leven geroepen. Overigens, net zomin als de 'oppositie' in de Oekraïne belangeloos werd gefinancierd met tenminste 5 miljard aan Amerikaans belastinggeld en vele miljoenen van geldspeculanten als  de miljardair George Soros. Als invloedrijkste krant ter wereld gebruikte het Witte Huis de New York Times als belangrijkste propagandakanaal. Julien Assange, hoofdredacteur van WikiLeaks

The New York Times, the intellectual and political opinion leader in the United States, was talking up the government in the most outrageous ways, constantly trying to placate the military-intelligence complex. 

Desondanks was nog in 2010 de adjunct-hoofdredacteur van de Volkskrant, Arie Elshout, als correspondent in New York er heilig van overtuigd dat 

feit en commentaar nergens zo tastbaar [zijn] gescheiden als bij The New York Times, zo ontdekten Pieter Broertjes en ik toen we in 2004 voor de Volkskrant een bezoek brachten aan wat wel 's werelds beste dagblad wordt genoemd... Contact tussen deze twee werelden was niet toegestaan. Als een commentator tijdens een achtergrondgesprek met een hooggeplaatste tegen nieuws aanliep, mocht hij dat niet doorgeven aan een verslaggever.

Klopt dit? Dertig jaar eerder bezocht ik dezelfde burelen van de New York Times en sprak daar met collega's. Omdat ik kennelijk minder wereldvreemd was dan de twee Kuifje's van de Volkskrant bleek al snel uit de gesprekken dat er in werkelijkheid bij deze krant helemaal geen echte scheiding tussen feit en commentaar bestond, net zo min als dat bij andere commerciële westerse media het geval is. Aangezien ik nog steeds contact heb met journalisten die voor de New York Times werkten of nog steeds werken weet ik via deze betrouwbare bronnen dat objectiviteit bij 's werelds beste dagblad' een fictie is.In werkelijkheid worden de commerciële media in het Westen elke dag weer gebruikt door de -- in de terminologie van Elshout -- 'hooggeplaatsten' van de economische en politieke macht. Zodra die nieuws laten lekken aan mijn collega's dan is juist de bedoeling dat dit zo snel mogelijk door het journalistieke voetvolk wordt doorgegeven. Een voorbeeld van de wijze waarop bijvoorbeeld de NYT werd gebruikt, is de zaak Judith Miller, waarvoor de krant naderhand haar excuses moest aanbieden:

Judith Miller (born January 2, 1948) is a Pulitzer Prize winning American journalist, formerly of the New York Times in Washington D.C. Her coverage of Iraq's alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program both before and after the 2003 invasion garnered much controversy.[1] A number of stories she wrote while working for the New York Times later turned out to be inaccurate or completely false. Miller was later involved in disclosing Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent. She spent three months in jail for claiming reporter's privilege and refusing to reveal her sources in the CIA leak. Miller retired from her job at the New York Times in November 2005. As of October, 2008 she is a contributor to the Fox News Channel and a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute think-tank.

On May 26, 2004, a week after the U.S. government apparently severed ties with Ahmed Chalabi, a Times editorial acknowledged that some of that newspaper's coverage in the run-up to the war had relied too heavily on Chalabi and other Iraqi exiles (van de INC. svh) bent on regime change. It also regretted that 'information that was controversial allowed to stand unchallenged.' While the editorial rejected 'blame on individual reporters,' others noted that ten of the twelve flawed stories discussed had been written or co-written by Miller.

May 27, 2004 | When the full history of the Iraq war is written, one of its most scandalous chapters will be about how American journalists, in particular those at the New York Times, so easily allowed themselves to be manipulated by both dubious sources and untrustworthy White House officials into running stories that misled the nation about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. The Times finally acknowledged its grave errors in an extraordinary and lengthy editors note published Wednesday. The editors wrote:

'We have found... instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been... In some cases, the information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged -- or failed to emerge... We consider the story of Iraq's weapons, and of the pattern of misinformation, to be unfinished business. And we fully intend to continue aggressive reporting aimed at setting the record straight.'

Omdat feit en mening doorgaans juist niet gescheiden zijn, maar in zowel de keuze van onderwerpen als de formulering van de teksten is verwerkt, kon Miller zonder enige moeite van de New York Times overstappen naar Fox News. Feit is wel dat gecorrumpeerde journalisten als Arie Elshout de illusie proberen te handhaven dat feiten en meningen in de mainstream pers gescheiden blijven. Misschien wel het beste voorbeeld van deze werkwijze van de mainstream-pers in de polder is H.J.A. Hofland, die door zijn collega's tot de beste Nederlandse journalist van de twintigste eeuw werd uitgeroepen. In 2005 schreef de nestor van de polder-journalistiek een essay voor 'deel 22 in de serie Atlantische Onderwijspapers van de Atlantische Commissie.' Deze Commissie is het propaganda-apparaat van de NAVO, die zichzelf als volgt presenteert:

De Stichting Atlantische Commissie is al meer dan 50 jaar een forum voor het publieke debat over internationale veiligheidsvraagstukken. Zij geeft voorlichting over en stimuleert onderzoek naar thema’s zoals de betrekkingen tussen de Verenigde Staten en Europa, ontwikkelingen in de NAVO en Europese veiligheid.

In zijn door de Atlantische Commissie betaalde essay schreef Hofland onder de kop 'Vietnam, Irak en de (on)macht van Amerika' als 'columnist voor NRC Handelsblad en De Groene Amsterdammer' het volgende:

Zijn tussen Vietnam en Irak parallellen te trekken? Volgen we een koers die, als we maar lang genoeg volhouden, tot een soort- gelijke nederlaag zal leiden? Valt er dertig jaar later, vijftien jaar na het einde van de Koude Oorlog, überhaupt nog een zinnige vergelijking te maken? Laat staan ons te wagen aan de voorspelling van gebeurtenissen met een zo grote historische betekenis? We zullen zien.

Er is om te beginnen één grote overeenkomst. Aan beide oorlogen ligt een rechtvaardiging van geopolitieke overwegingen ten grondslag. In de eerste fase van de Amerikaanse betrokkenheid bij de strijd in Vietnam zag het er voor het Westen als geheel in de Koude Oorlog niet goed uit. In 1949 was het vasteland van China onder communistisch bewind gekomen. Niet lang daarna brak de Koreaanse oorlog uit. Die eindigde in 1953 onbeslist met de verdeling van het schiereiland. Voormalige Europese koloniën waren het toneel van communistische activiteit. In Vietnam vochten de Fransen tegen de Vietminh. Op 7 mei 1954 gaf het garnizoen van Dien Bien Phoe zich na een lange belegering over; een werelddrama in de Koude Oorlog. Dat waren de grote gebeurtenissen in Azië.

De Blokkade van Berlijn werd met een luchtbrug weerstaan. In juni 1953 werd de arbeidersopstand in het communistisch deel door sovjettanks neergeslagen. Drie jaar later gebeurde hetzelfde met de opstand van de Hongaarse arbeiders en studenten in Boedapest. In Frankrijk en Italië waren grote en bloeiende communistische partij- en. De West-Europese intelligentsia, schrijvers, kunstenaars, opiniemakers van de grote media waren ontvankelijk voor communistische propaganda. In Amerika zelf leek senator McCarthy met zijn genadeloze verhoren te onthullen dat de rode vijand tot in het bolwerk van de vrijheid was doorgedrongen.

Zo was er nog veel meer onheilspellends. Het communisme had sinds 1945 staat na staat veroverd, aan de expansiedrang kwam geen einde, en waar de macht een- maal was gevestigd, werd die met ijzeren hand geconsolideerd. Geloofde men in het Westen niet dat de democratie aan de verliezende hand was, dan toch dat het initiatief verloren was gegaan. De impliciete bevestiging was de dominotheorie. Landen vielen door communistische revoluties om als dominostenen. En was dat eenmaal gebeurd, dan was zo’n land verloren. De communistische revolutie was onomkeerbaar. In Vietnam had men werkeloos toegekeken. Nu was het een ‘tot hier en niet verder’ geworden. Amerika kon het zich niet meer veroorloven dat het volgende land aan de dictatuur zou worden uitgeleverd. Dat was een zaak van nationaal zelfbehoud.

Parallel daaraan, en onscheidbaar met de geopolitieke visie verbonden gold de ideologie. Het Westen in zijn geheel met Amerika als het machtig centrum was het bolwerk van vrijheid, democratie en welvaart. Alleen met de kracht van zijn superieure wapens zou het zich tegen de dictatuur kunnen handhaven. In ideologisch verband werd Zuid-Vietnam als een voorpost van de democratische vrijheid gezien. Bij zijn inauguratie op 20 januari 1961 had John F. Kennedy dit gezegd: 'Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to ensure the survival and the success of liberty.' Dat was in overeenstemming met de Truman Doctrine die hulp beloofde aan alle in hun vrijheid bedreigde staten.

Het beeld van de Koude Oorlog uit de jaren vijftig en begin zestig overziend, zouden we tot de conclusie kunnen komen dat Amerika een aantal goede redenen had om zich in de strijd te mengen. 
Gezien Hoflands rechtvaardiging van het grootscheepse Amerikaanse geweld in Zuidoost Azië, is het interessant om de toenmalige Amerikaanse minister van Defensie, Robert McNamara, aan het woord te laten. In 1995 schreef McNamara, die onder Kennedy en Johnson verantwoordelijk was voor het Vietnam-beleid, dat als gevolg van de Amerikaanse terreur van ‘de regeringen Kennedy, Johnson en Nixon… verschrikkelijk leed’ was toegebracht aan miljoenen mensen, en wel omdat ‘wij de macht onderschatten van het nationalisme teneinde een volk te motiveren… om te vechten en te sterven voor hun overtuigingen en waarden- en we blijven dat vandaag de dag nog steeds doen in vele delen van de wereld,’ terwijl ‘wij niet het door God gegeven recht hebben om elke natie naar ons eigen beeld te scheppen.’ Maar dat de VS dit recht domweg niet bezit is nog steeds niet doorgedrongen tot Henk Hofland. 

McNamara wees er tevens op dat de ‘defensie uitgaven [in de VS] tijdens het fiscale jaar 1993 in totaal 291 miljard dollar bedroegen –25 procent meer… dan in 1980.’ Eenkwart meer, ondanks het feit dat de Koude Oorlog voorbij was, hetgeen aantoont dat de Sovjet Unie niet de oorzaak maar de aanleiding was van de militarisering van de Verenigde Staten. ‘De VS spendeert bijna evenveel voor Nationale Veiligheid als de rest van de wereld tezamen.’ Volgens McNamara zijn tijdens de Vietnam-oorlog 3,4 miljoen Zuidoost Aziaten om het leven gekomen, onder wie talloze burgers van Laos, het zwaarst gebombardeerde land in de geschiedenis als we uitgaan van het aantal inwoners. Eenkwart van de bevolking vluchtte naar grotten in de bergen om aan het massale geweld te ontsnappen  De Amerikaanse luchtmacht gooide twee keer zoveel bommen op Laos dan op Nazi-Duitsland, omgerekend: tien jaar lang elke 9 minuten een clusterbom. ‘USA TODAY’ berichtte vele jaren nadat de Amerikaanse strijdkrachten Vietnam waren ontvlucht dat tien tot dertig procent van deze in kleine fragmenten uiteenspattende bommen, niet was geëxplodeerd, waardoor nog steeds Laotianen om het leven kwamen, de meerderheid van hen spelende kinderen. Ook Cambodja leed onder het Amerikaanse terreur, een ander woord is er niet voor, tenminste niet als we de definitie hanteren, zoals die afgedrukt in het Amerikaanse Leger Handboek, waarbij 'terrorisme' omschreven wordt als ‘het bewust geplande gebruik van geweld of dreiging van geweld om doelen te bereiken die politiek, religieus, of ideologisch van aard zijn.’ Meer dan 600.000 Cambodjanen kwamen om bij de genocidale politiek van de Amerikaanse bombardementen. Door de totale verwoesting van landbouwgronden werden de overlevenden ook nog eens geconfronteerd met een massale hongersnood. 

Daarnaast zijn de gevolgen van het Amerikaanse geweld in Zuidoost-Azië nog steeds niet voorbij:

Fifty years ago this month, in the early stages of the Vietnam War, the US military began spraying rural areas of the country with the herbicide, Agent Orange. The programme's goal was to defoliate forested land, depriving the enemy Viet Cong of cover and driving peasants to the cities, thus destroying the Viet Cong's support base and food supply. 

Over the next 10 years more than 80 million litres were deployed across 7.4 million hectares of Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia. They were an effective defoliant, but there is strong evidence that the deadly dioxins contained in Agent Orange also had a catastrophic effect on the health of millions of Vietnamese – killing hundreds of thousands and causing dreadful diseases and birth defects in subsequent generations right up to this day.

Thousands of US servicemen - men who handled the herbicide and who operated in areas where it was deployed - were affected too, and they and their families eventually won compensation through the courts. But attempts to get similar US financial aid for the Vietnamese victims, or even much help with a clean up of polluted land, have been less successful.

With many areas of Vietnam still poisoned by the dioxin and the country's hard pressed health and welfare services struggling to support those suffering, this film by Risto Vuorinen tells the remarkable story of the children of Agent Orange and a group of US veterans in Vietnam who are trying to atone for the mistakes of the past.

Hierboven: één van de ontelbare slachtoffers van de buitenlandse politiek van de VS, die volgens Geert Mak 'decennialang als ordebewaker en politieagent' in de wereld fungeerde. Voor deze 'orde' maakt de domineeszoon propaganda, en dat levert hem geen windeieren op.

Ondanks de feiten rechtvaardigt Henk Hofland nog steeds de terreur van de VS door te stellen dat 'Amerika een aantal goede redenen had om zich in de strijd te mengen.' De man die zich na de nazi-terreur als dienstplichtige (samen met Nederlandse oud SS-ers, die voor de Führer aan het Oostfront hadden gevochten) naar Ons-Indië liet sturen om daar de naar onafhankelijkheid strijdende 'ploppers' met geweld een lesje te leren, heeft zelf wat betreft staatsterreur niets geleerd. 

Agent Orange Continues to Poison Vietnam

Monday 15 June 2009

by: Marjorie Cohn, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

 From 1961 to 1971, the US military sprayed Vietnam with Agent Orange, which contained large quantities of Dioxin, in order to defoliate the trees for military objectives. Dioxin is one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man. It has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen (causes cancer) and by the American Academy of Medicine as a teratogen (causes birth defects).

    Between 2.5 and 4.8 million people were exposed to Agent Orange. The spraying covered 1.4 billion hectares of land and forest - approximately 12 percent of the land area of Vietnam.

    Vietnamese who were exposed to the chemical have suffered from cancer, liver damage, pulmonary and heart diseases, defects to reproductive capacity, and skin and nervous disorders. Children and grandchildren of those exposed have severe physical deformities, mental and physical disabilities, diseases and shortened life spans. The forests and jungles in large parts of southern Vietnam have been devastated and denuded. They may never grow back and if they do, it will take 50 to 200 years to regenerate. Animals that inhabited the forests and jungles have become extinct, disrupting the communities that depended on them. The rivers and underground water in some areas have also been contaminated. Erosion and desertification will change the environment, contributing to the warming of the planet and dislocation of crop and animal life.

    The US government and the chemical companies knew that Agent Orange, when produced rapidly at high temperatures, would contain large quantities of Dioxin. Nevertheless, the chemical companies continued to produce it in this manner. The US government and the chemical companies also knew that the Bionetics Study, commissioned by the government in 1963, showed that even low levels of Dioxin produced significant deformities in unborn offspring of laboratory animals. But they suppressed that study and continued to spray Vietnam with Agent Orange. It wasn't until the study was leaked in 1969 that the spraying of Agent Orange was discontinued.

    US soldiers who served in Vietnam have experienced similar illnesses. After they sued the chemical companies, including Dow and Monsanto, that manufactured and sold Agent Orange to the government, the case was settled out of court for $180 million which gave few plaintiffs more than a few thousand dollars each. Later the US veterans won a legislative victory for compensation for exposure to Agent Orange. They receive $1.52 billion per year in benefits. 

Generaal Curtis LeMay, stafchef van de Amerikaanse luchtmacht, vatte de Amerikaanse strategie in Vietnam als volgt samen: 'We will bomb them back to the Stone Age.' Van welke wrede waanzin er sprake was bleek uit een beroemd geworden opmerking 'from the Vietnam War' namelijk 'a statement attributed to an unnamed U.S. officer by AP correspondent Peter Arnett in his writing about Bến Tre city on 7 February 1968:
'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it', a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong.

Maar dit alles is in de beoordeling van Henk Hofland niet meer dan wat tegenwoordig  'collateral damage' wordt betiteld. Het 'verschrikkelijke leed,' dat volgens McNamara de politiek van de Amerikaanse economische en politieke elite had veroorzaakt, is in de optiek van Hofland een te verwaarlozen detail. Deze onverschilligheid is één van de talloze illustraties van het onderhuidse, nauwelijks verholen racisme van Hofland en zijn zelfbenoemde blanke 'politiek-literaire elite,' die hier in de polder de opinies bepalen. Hoflands racisme is één van de duidelijkste signalen van de ‘hufterigheid,' en 'agressie,’ waarover hij zelf schrijft zodra het de onderkaste betreft, maar waarover hij angstvallig zwijgt wanneer het zijn eigen mentaliteit betreft die het kenmerk bij uitstek is van de 'hufterigheid' en 'agressie' van de kleinburgerlijke middenklasse waartoe hij behoort. Die mentaliteit blijkt ook nog eens uit de vitale informatie die Hofland verzwijgt, zoals bijvoorbeeld het uitgangspunt van de Amerikaanse containment-politiek, dat in 1948 als volgt werd geformuleerd door George Kennan, het hoofd van het Planningbureau van het Amerikaanse ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken: 

we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3 of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction…

We should dispense with the aspiration to 'be liked' or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers' keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague and… unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.  

Kennan wees als de geestelijk vader van de 'containment politiek,' erop dat om de status quo te kunnen handhaven overal ter wereld de invloed van het communisme met geweld de kop in moest worden gedrukt, een doctrine die leidde tot staatsgrepen waarbij met steun van de CIA democratisch gekozen regeringen in ondermeer Guatemala, Iran, Congo, Chili met geweld werden verdreven, zoals ook nu weer in Oekraïne is gebeurd. De Hoflanden in de mainstream pers beschouwen het als doodnormaal dat het Westen het recht claimt om met geweld overal in te grijpen, uit naam van de 'democratie' en de 'mensenrechten,' zodra de geopolitieke en economische belangen van de westerse elite moeten worden uitgebreid dan wel beschermd. Deze 'hufterigheid' staat centraal in hun geopolitiek schaakspel, waarvoor ze thuis in alle veiligheid en comfort propaganda maken. Een extra probleem van mainstream-opiniemakers als Hofland is dat zij niet werkelijk doorhebben welke historische krachten er spelen. Nog tot in 2005 (!) realiseerde de nestor van de polderpers zich niet dat de inval in Irak 'tot een soortgelijke nederlaag zal leiden' als in Vietnam. 'We zullen zien,' schreef de 'beste journalist' van de hele 20ste eeuw twee jaar nadat ik in juni 2003 in het tijdschrift de Humanist als conclusie had geschreven dat de illegale inval in Irak in chaos zou eindigen en dat de VS

Een moreel en financieel failliet imperium is, bezig met een vlucht vooruit, in een poging zijn hegemonie te handhaven.

Portret uit 1971 van de beroemde fotograaf Richard Avedon: Vietnamees slachtoffertje van een Amerikaanse napalm-bombardement. Desondanks meende opiniemaker Henk Hofland 34 jaar later, in 2005, dat 'we tot de conclusie kunnen komen dat Amerika een aantal goede redenen had om zich in de strijd te mengen,' inclusief dus deze terreur.

Bij mainstream-journalisten als Henk Hofland en Geert Mak, met zijn bewering dat de VS al 'decennialang als ordebewaker en politieagent' in de wereld fungeerde, is er niet alleen sprake van een schrikbarend gebrek aan kennis, maar tevens ontbreekt het hen ook aan logica, eerlijkheid én verbeeldingskracht. De voormalige New York Times-correspondent Chris Hedges zei over de Colin Powell-propaganda voorafgaand aan het Shock and Awe-geweld:

Much of the fabricated information that was passed on by the 'defectors' formed the basis for Colin Powell's accusations. They didn't have any hard evidence but you should have seen them, the press, fall all over themselves as soon as it was done, saying that this was the definitive case for war.

De Britse onderzoeksjournalist Pratap Chatterjee van CorpWatch verklaarde in Shadows of Liberty:

CNN, FOX, CBS, ABC, the giant echo chamber that creates public perception in the United States were giving out the administration lies. 

Onweersproken kon president Bush junior via de 'vrije pers' leugens verspreiden over 'the smoking gun, in the form of a mushroom cloud,' daarmee suggererend dat het regime van Saddam Hoessein over kernwapens beschikte, net zoals nu de mainstream media al jarenlang deelnemen aan de officiële propagandacampagne tegen Iran omdat het aan een 'kernbom,' zou werken. Onmiddellijk bij het begin van de Shock and Awe-campagne die volgens Chris Hedges niets anders was dan 'an open celebration of American Power,' rechtvaardigde president Bush junior op televisie het grootscheepse geweld met de woorden:

This hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free it's people and to defend the world from great danger.

Eén van de taken van de westerse commerciële media is het verspreiden van angst. Om de interne cohesie te bewerkstelligen moet er een bedreiging van buitenaf worden gecreëerd. Aangezien de interne samenhang van een klassenmaatschappij is vernietigd, zullen in de toekomst alleen nog oorlogen de macht van de elite veilig kunnen stellen. Vandaar dat de westerse commerciële journalistiek zo gewantrouwd moet worden. De economische elite, haar politici en haar pers weten maar al te goed wat hun status quo -- waarbij de kloof tussen arm en rijk almaar toeneemt -- werkelijk bedreigt. 9 november 2013 berichtte de New York Times:

‘History reminds us that high unemployment and wrong policies like austerity are an extremely poisonous cocktail,’ said Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister from the Social Democratic party. ‘Populists are always there. In good times it is not easy for them to get votes, but in these bad times all their arguments, the easy solutions of populism and nationalism, are getting new ears and votes.’

Het is in dit verband interessant te lezen wat de andere Rasmussen uit de Deense elite, de huidige secretaris generaal van de door de VS gedomineerde NAVO, op 19 mei 2014 tijdens zijn maandelijkse persconferentie opmerkte:

Question. Juen Navata, Global News Japanese News Agency: Recently there is a strong tension concerning the South China Sea among Vietnam, Philippines, China. What do you see in this situation?

Answer. Secretary General: The situation in East Asia is a matter of concern. And we urge all nations in the region to seek peaceful solutions to disputes, and live up to their international commitments. I think China has a particular responsibility as a major power, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.    

Kortom, 'The situation in East Asia is a matter of concern,' geworden voor de NAVO, een bondgenootschap dat was opgericht om de invloed van de Sovjet Unie te beperken, maar na de val van het Sovjet-systeem van een defensieve organisatie is veranderd in een offensieve organisatie, waarvan het ledenaantal bijna is verdubbeld en die overal ter wereld met geweld kan optreden, weliswaar met steun van propagandisten als Hofland en Mak, maar zonder dat er een werkelijk democratische besluitvorming en een publieke discussie aan ten grondslag heeft gelegen. De nieuwe oorlogen worden al voorbereid, niet door de parlementen, maar door het militair-industrieel complex waarvoor generaal Eisenhower in zijn afscheidsspeech als president in 1961 zo had gewaarschuwd. En de loopjongens in de massamedia met hun corrupte mentaliteit zullen het allemaal rechtvaardigen, zolang ze zelfs consequentieloos kunnen doorleven. De onverschilligen hebben de toekomst. Wie wil weten wat dat kan betekenen zouden de bekroonde documentaire The Fog of War moeten bekijken. Deze film geeft een beeld van wat de mensheid te wachten staat aan de hand van het verleden:

In the documentary Fog of War, Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara talks about how, as a lieutenant colonel advising Colonel Curtis LeMay during World War II, he helped plan the firebombing of Tokyo. As McNamara’s eyes fill with tears, he talks about the final days of the war: ‘In a single night we burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo — men, women and children.’ The documentary shows the US audience the level of decimation through a comparison of Japanese and US cities. McNamara talks about the event to advocate proportionality in war.

‘Killing 50-90% of the people in 67 Japanese cities and then bombing them with two nuclear bombs is not proportional, in the minds of some people, to the objectives we were trying to achieve.’

But as I see the film, McNamara unintentionally undermines the legitimacy of war crimes jurisprudence as the scene comes to a close.

‘What makes it immoral if you lose but not if you win?’

McNamara never comes to grip with the answer: nothing — war is war. Victors judge right and wrong, decide who is a war criminal, and write the history books (mentioned here and here; or see Marmot on the subject here and here). As horrible as the firebombing was, as horrible as Japan’s war in East Asia was, when it comes to war, the victors must fight total war until surrender. Ceasefires and conditional surrenders frequently perpetuate conflict. That is the result of war between great powers.

Which gets to my problem with war crimes. McNamara admits that ‘[Lemay], and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals.’ But the two never went before court to answer for their actions — they were treated as heros when they returned home victorious. In fact, the threat of war crimes trials could even encourage violence, or a stubborn refusal to surrender, if the leaders know they will be tried, executed, and relegated to perpetual historical infamy if they lose.

Generaal Curtis LeMay, die opklom tot stafchef van de Amerikaanse luchtmacht, vatte de Amerikaanse strategie als volgt samen:

There is no such thing as an innocent civilian.

Het is deze misdadige werkelijkheid die door de mainstream-journalisten wordt gelegitimeerd, maar door de fameuze vijf sterren generaal Douglas MacArthur als volgt werd omschreven:

Onze regering heeft ons in een voortdurende staat van angst gehouden – heeft ons voortdurend in een staat van patriottistische hysterie gehouden – met het idee van een ernstige nationale noodtoestand. Altijd is er een of ander verschrikkelijk kwaad geweest… om ons te verzwelgen als we ons niet blind achter haar schaarden door de exorbitante fondsen die ze nodig had te verschaffen. Maar in retrospect lijken deze rampen nooit te hebben plaatsgevonden, blijken ze nooit echt werkelijkheid te zijn geweest.

Toch rechtvaardigt de gecultiveerde angst nog steeds de gigantische geldverslinding van het militair-industrieel, zoals wordt aangetoond door onder andere Tom Engelhardt, een andere scherpzinnige Amerikaanse criticus van 'de Amerikaanse diplomaten,' die volgens Geert Mak in zijn boek Reizen zonder John (2012), 'tot de beste ter wereld [horen]' en in dienst staan van een imperium dat, opnieuw aldus Mak 'beschikt over voortreffelijke informatiesystemen.' In The American Way of War schrijft Engelhardt anno 2010:

Because the United States does not look like a militarized country, it is hard for Americans to grasp that Washington is a war capital, that the United States is a war state, that it garrisons much of the planet, and that the norm for us is to be at war somewhere (usually, in fact, many places) at any moment... What does it mean when the most military-obsessed administration in our history, which year after year, submitted ever more bloated Pentagon budgets to Congress, is succeeded by one headed by a president who ran, at least partially, on an antiwar platform, and who then submitted an even larger Pentagon budget?

Daarbij verwijst deze, volgens Andrew Bacevich, 'I.F. Stone of the post-9/11 age' op de wisseltruc die Obama uithaalde door zich te omringen met corrupte bankiers en door het militair-industrieel complex nog meer te subsidiëren met gemeenschapsgeld. Sinds 2000 zijn de militaire uitgaven van de VS verdubbeld. Hoewel deze feiten voor Geert Mak kennelijk irrelevant zijn, gezien zijn enthousiasme over de herverkiezing van 'de eerste zwarte president,' maakt de werkelijkheid progressieve Amerikaanse intellectuelen als Tom Engelhardt wel iets uit. In de Reader's Digest-versie van Geert Mak wordt aan het militair-industrieel complex geen wezenlijke aandacht besteed, omdat hij het niet angstaanjagend genoeg vindt om er serieus over na te denken. Dit, in tegenstelling tot Engelhardt en ik vermoed de meeste andere mensen die op de hoogte zijn, en niet zo gewetenloos zijn dat ze deze gigantische verspilling goedkeuren. Een verspilling die ook nog tot genocide kan leiden. Mak is ambivalenter en constateert slechts in zijn lijstje van Amerikaanse successen dat het 'leger geen grenzen [kent].' Maar kent het Amerikaanse 'leger' echt geen grenzen? Niet voor degene die door een ideologische bril kijkt, maar een nuchtere waarnemer moet constateren dat de VS de Korea-Oorlog niet heeft gewonnen, de Vietnam-Oorlog verloor, de illegale Irak-bezetting mislukte, en nu in Afghanistan aan het verliezen is. Iemand die bij zijn volle verstand is zou niet durven beweren dat er voor de Amerikaanse strijdkrachten geen grenzen bestaan. Ondertussen blijft toch het oorlogsbudget stijgen, en het grootscheepse Amerikaanse geweld doorgaan, al dan niet met steun van hun NAVO-bondgenoten, een ander feit dat door Mak wordt verzwegen. Tom Engelhardt schreef over de 'conspiracy of silence' onder journalisten:

In September 2009, The Times Pentagon correspondent Thom Shanker... wrote a rare piece on the subject, but it appeared inside the paper on a quiet Labor Day. 'Despite Slump, U.S. Role as Top Arms Supplier Grows' was the headline. Perhaps Shanker, too, felt uncomfortable with his subject, because he included the following generic description: 'In the highly competitive global arms market, nations vie for both profit and political influence through weapons sales, in particular to developing nations.' The figures he cited from a congressional study of that 'highly competitive' market told a different story: The United States, with $37.8 billion in arms sales (up $12.4 billion from 2007), controlled 68.4 percent of the global arms market in 2008. Highly competitively speaking, Italy came 'a distant second' with $3.7 billion. In sales to 'developing nations,' the United States inked $29.6 billion in weapons agreements or 70.1 percent of the market. Russia was a vanishingly distant third at $3.3 billion, or 7.8 percent of the market. In other words, with 70 percent of the market, the United States actually has what, in any other field, would qualify as a monopoly position -- in this case, in things that go boom at night. With the American car industry in a ditch, it seems that this (along with Hollywood films that go boom in the night) is what we now do best, as befits a war, if not a warrior, state. Is that an American accomplishment you are comfortable with?

Over Mak's  'beste [diplomaten] ter wereld' schreef Tom Engelhardt die wel weet waarover hij het heeft:

Diplomacy itself has been militarized and, like our country, is now hidden behind massive fortifications, and had been placed under Lord of the Flies-style guard. The State Department's embassies are now bunkers and military-style headquarters for the prosecution of war policies... And peace itself? Simply put, there's no money in it. On the neraly trillion dollars the United States invests in war and war-related activities, nothing goes to peace. No money, no effort, no thought. The very idea that there might be peaceful alternatives to endless war is so discredited that it's left to utopians, bleeding hearts, and feathered doves. As in Orwell's Newspeak, while 'Peace' remains with us, it's largely been shorn of its possibilities. No longer the opposite of war, it's just a rhetorical flourish embedded, like one of our reporters, in Warspeak.

In de roman 1984 schreef George Orwell dat de moderne oorlog:

helpt om de speciale geestelijke atmosfeer in stand te houden, die een hiërarchische maatschappij nodig heeft. De oorlog, zo zal men zien, is nu een zuiver binnenlandse aangelegenheid. In het verleden bestreden de heersende groepen van alle landen elkaar ook echt, al mochten zij inzien, dat zij een gemeenschappelijk belang hadden en daarom de vernietigende werking van de oorlog zouden moeten beperken, en de overwinnaar altijd de overwonnene plunderde. In onze eigen tijd vechten zij helemaal niet tegen elkaar. De oorlog wordt door iedere heersende groep gevoerd tegen de eigen onderdanen en het doel van de oorlog is niet om gebiedsoverwinningen te maken of te voorkomen, maar om de structuur der samenleving is stand te houden.

Orwell wist dat

op de lange duur een hiërarchische maatschappij alleen mogelijk op een basis van armoede en onwetendheid... De vraag was, hoe de wielen van de industrie draaiende te houden zonder de feitelijke rijkdom van de wereld te vermeerderen. Er moesten goederen geproduceerd worden, maar zij moesten niet worden gedistribueerd. En in de praktijk was de enige manier om dit te bereiken een voortdurende oorlog... Oorlog is een methode tot het verbrijzelen, of tot het in de lucht laten vliegen, of tot het laten zinken in de diepte der zee van materialen, die anders gebruikt zouden kunnen worden om de massa's te veel gemak te verschaffen en daardoor op de lange duur te intelligent te maken.

Een gewelddadig systeem legitimeren kan alleen door gebruikmaking van 'opiniemakers' die de bevolking vertellen dat de macht bezig is 'orde' te scheppen in de chaos, en, in het geval van de VS, niet alleen 'als ordebewaker en politieagent' optreedt maar tevens fungeert als 'anker van het hele Atlantische deel van de wereld in de ruimste zin van het woord,' om Mak andermaal te citeren.

Van de opiniemakers wordt verwacht dat ze de gigantische uitgaven aan het militair-industrieel complex rechtvaardigen. Tom Engelhardt:

What does it mean about our world when those people in our government peering deepest into a blue-skies future are planning ways to send armed 'platforms' up into those skies and kill more than a quarter century from Now? And do you ever wonder about this: If such weaponry is being endlessly developed for our safety and security, and that of our children and grandchildren, why is it that one of our most succesful businesses involves the sale of the same weaponry to other countries? Few Americans are comfortable thinking about this, which may explain why global-arms-trade pieces don't tend to make it into the front pages of our newspapers. 

Toen ik Tom Engelhardt in januari 2012 interviewde bleek hij deze ontwikkeling buitengewoon verontrustend te vinden, en ik vermoed dat de meeste zinnige mensen het met hem eens zijn. Uit Geert Mak's literatuurlijst blijkt dat hij Engelhardt's boek niet gelezen heeft, en ook niet het boek Imperial Hubris. Why The West Is Losing The War On Terror (2004) van de Amerikaanse historicus Michael Scheuer, 22 jaar lang een hoge CIA-analist en voormalige

chief of the Osama bin Laden unit at the Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999. He worked as Special Adviser to the Chief of the bin Laden Unit from September 2001 to November 2004. He is now known to have been the anonymous author of... Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America... he was mentioned in an Osama bin Laden statement of September 7, 2007. According to bin Laden, 'If you want to understand what's going on and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing the war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer in this regard.

Kortom, Scheuer is een expert wiens werk een 'Amerika-deskundige' niet kan negeren wanneer hij 'op zoek naar Amerika' is. Zeker niet wanneer men weet dat niemand minder dan Richard A. Clarke, onder zowel Clinton als Bush junior 'National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism,' Scheuer's studie aanprees als 'a powerful, persuasive, analysis of the terrorist threat and the Bush administration's failed efforts to fight it.' Scheuer verklaart onder meer het volgende over het Amerikaanse fiasco in Afghanistan dat

the strategy's subsequent failure shows its planners' complete lack of comprehension of Afghanistan's tribal, ethnic, and religious realities... no U.S. leader was given the expert analysis that would have allowed him to see beyond the war's easy part - bombing the air-defenseless Taliban from power.

Het was Michael Scheuer die in Imperial Hubris een officieel Pentagon rapport bekend maakte waarin hij Mak's 'briljante strategen en politieke analisten' waarover 'het State Department' zou beschikken vergeefs voor het volgende waarschuwde:

Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority [of Muslims] voice their objections to what they see as one-sided  support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing support for what Muslims see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, and the Gulf States. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen [by Muslims] as no more than selfserving hypocrisy... No public relations campaigns can save America from flawed policies.

Maar dit was kennelijk zo'n irrelevante analyse dat de 'briljante strategen en politieke analisten' van Mak haar terzijde schoven. Michael Scheuer:

I believe, that the way we see and interpret people and events outside North America is heavily clouded by arrogance and sellf-centeredness amounting to what I called 'imperial hubris' in Through Our Enemies' Eyes.

Tegen het einde van zijn boek, op pagina 253, schrijft Scheuer daarom dat

The choice we have is between keeping policies, which will produce an escalating expenditure of American treasure and blood, or devising new policies, which may, over time, reduce the expenditure of both.

Tien jaar nadat Imperial Hubris verscheen blijkt hoe gelijk Scheuer toen had. Inmiddels zijn de Amerikaanse militaire uitgaven verdubbeld en heeft de VS zich grotendeels uit Irak moeten terugtrekken en verliest het imperium ook de oorlog in Afghanistan. Dit alles staat in schril contrast met Mak's kwalificaties als 'de beste ter wereld, voortreffelijke, geen grenzen, briljante, hele wereld, succes,' etc. Het is vooral een beschamend gebrek aan kennis dat Mak in zijn reisboek etaleert. Hij heeft in dit geval niet alleen Scheuer's werk genegeerd, maar ook de volgende boeken die absoluut noodzakelijk zijn om de politieke werkelijkheid van de VS te kunnen doorgronden:

Blowback. The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. Chalmers Johnson.
*Overthrow. America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. Stephen Kinzer.
*Devil's Game. How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. Robert Dreyfuss.
*Imperial Overstretch. Roger Burbach & Jim Tarbell.
*Killing Hope. William Blum.
*Failed States. The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. Noam Chomsky.
*Iran. A People Interrupted. Hamid Dabashi.
*Treachurous Alliance. The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the U.S. Trita Parsi.

As Washington Focuses on Another Benghazi Probe, Could a Civil War Be Brewing in Libya?



Mary Fitzgerald, journalist based in Libya. Her latest article for Foreign Policymagazine is "Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood Struggles to Grow."
Sharif Abdel Kouddous, independent journalist,Democracy Now!correspondent based in Cairo, and a fellow at The Nation Institute. He has been reporting from Tripoli for the last 10 days. His latest article for The Washington Post is "In Libya, Fears of All-Out War as Islamist Militias Allied with Parliament Deploy in Capital."
This is viewer supported news
While Congress is beginning its ninth investigation into the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya may be confronting its worst crisis since the NATO intervention that ousted Col. Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Fear is growing of an all-out war between militias aligned with the Islamist-dominated Parliament and forces led by a former general named Khalifa Haftar, who was reportedly once trained by the CIA. Haftar has accused the government of fostering terrorism and is calling for an emergency administration to oversee elections next month. Haftar, a former general under Gaddafi, says he wants to rid Libya of Islamists and led an assault against militant groups in Benghazi last Friday. On Sunday, forces allied to him took control of Libya’s Parliament building in the capital, Tripoli. At least 100 people have died since the fighting broke out last week. We speak to Mary Fitzgerald, a journalist based in Libya, and Sharif Abdel Kouddous, independent journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent reporting from Tripoli.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show looking at Libya. In Washington, the focus remains largely on what happened in the Libyan city of Benghazi on September 11th, 2012, when Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack. The incident sparked a fierce political fight between Republicans and Democrats over the Obama administration’s handling of embassy security and the steps it took in the aftermath of the attack.
Since then, congressional Republicans have led eight separate investigations into the matter. On May 8th, the Republican-led House of Representatives voted to launch yet another congressional probe. Earlier this week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that Democrats would participate.
MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI: I could have argued this either way: Why give any validity to this effort? But I do think it is important for the American people to have a pursuit of these questions done in as fair and open and balanced way as possible. That simply would not be possible leaving it to the Republicans. That’s why I’m appointing my distinguished colleagues here today to serve on the select committee.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: This committee will include seven Republicans and five Democrats. Many Democrats have accused Republicans of exploiting the Benghazi incident to scuttle Hillary Clinton’s expected 2016 presidential bid. Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the attacks.
AMY GOODMAN: While Washington, D.C., is focused on Benghazi, Libya may be confronting its worst crisis since the NATOintervention that ousted Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Fear is growing of an all-out war between militias aligned with the Islamist-dominated Parliament and forces led by a former general named Khalifa Haftar, who reportedly was once trained by the CIA. Haftar has accused the government of fostering terrorism and is calling for an emergency administration to oversee elections next [month]. He’s a former general under Gaddafi. Haftar says he wants to rid Libya of Islamists and led an assault against militant groups in Benghazi last Friday. On Sunday, forces allied with him took control of Libya’s Parliament building in the capital, Tripoli. At least a hundred people have died since the fighting broke out last week. On Wednesday, Haftar called on the government to hand over power to the country’s top judges.
KHALIFA HAFTAR: [translated] Following the refusal by the expired National Council to meet the people’s demands, the High Council of the Armed Forces call on the High Judicial Council in charge to meet the army’s demand for civil and political stability in Libya, and ask them to form a high council to rule the country.
AMY GOODMAN: To find out more, we go to two guests in Tripoli, Libya.
Mary Fitzgerald is a journalist based there in Libya. Her latest piece for Foreign Policy magazine is headlined "Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood Struggles to Grow."
And Sharif Abdel Kouddous is with us, independent journalist, Democracy Now! correspondent, usually based in Cairo, a fellow at The Nation Institute. He’s been reporting for The Washington Postfrom Tripoli for the past 10 days. His latest piece is headlined "In Libya, Fears of All-Out War as Islamist Militias Allied with Parliament Deploy in Capital."
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Mary Fitzgerald, let’s go to you first. Describe the situation in Tripoli, especially for an audience that is not familiar with Libya right now at all, except perhaps the Benghazi controversy in Washington, D.C.
MARY FITZGERALD: Well, the mood in Tripoli right now is extremely tense, with most Libyans describing the current situation as the most serious juncture that Libya has found itself in since the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. There’s a real sense of apprehension here. There is a sense also of people choosing sides. Libya has suffered from increasing polarization in recent months, and that seems to be coming to some kind of a crescendo. Several different dynamics that had been roiling in recent months appear to be coming to a head with the events of the last week.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms of the existing Parliament, Mary Fitzgerald, it’s been characterized as Islamist-dominated, but it has many divisions within it. Could you talk about some of those divisions, and especially the role of the party connected to the Muslim Brotherhood?
MARY FITZGERALD: The National Congress was elected in Libya’s first elections in decades in July 2012. And it’s important to note that the makeup of the Congress, 80 seats in the Congress were allocated to party lists; 120 were allocated to individual candidates. Of the 80 allocated to party lists, the more liberal-leaning party, the National Forces Alliance, won the majority of seats out of the 80. The Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Justice and Construction Party won the second-largest number of seats. But what was key to the complexion, if you like, of the National Congress was the 120 individual candidates. So the headlines in July 2012, that were based on the results from the 80-party list candidates declaring Libya as a liberal landslide, were extremely misleading. When we saw the 120 independent individual candidates, we saw that there was far more—a far larger component of what is referred to here as the Islamic current than was previously envisaged.
This was also bolstered later on by the controversial passage of a lustration law known here in Libya as the political isolation law, which affected the National Forces Alliance. It meant that its leader, Mahmoud Jibril, was banned from holding political office in Libya for 10 years. This law affected people who had worked for the Gaddafi regime in some fora—form, rather. It was extremely controversial because it was a very sweeping law that affected even members of the opposition who had previously served under Gaddafi several decades ago.
So all of that created this sense within the wider population here that Islamists, even though there was a perception that they had lost or had not been triumphant in the elections in 2012, that they had managed to dominate the Congress. In many respects, the Islamists within Congress managed to be more savvy political operators. They succeeded more in terms of building alliances and blocs within the Congress. The National Forces Alliance basically fell prey to infighting. It became all but atomized compared to the strong Islamist alliances within the Congress.
AMY GOODMAN: Mary Fitzgerald, it’s been three years since NAFTA [sic] declared victory—rather, since NATO declared victory. Several commentators are suggesting that Libya is lurching towards a civil war. Is that fair to say?
MARY FITZGERALD: Well, it’s something that many Libyans are discussing. They see this as the most serious point since 2011. Several different things are coming to a head. Rhetoric on both sides has hardened, and there is extreme—increased belligerence. I think one point that’s important to stress is, at the root of the current crisis is this question of legitimacy—legitimacy in relation to political institutions, legitimacy in relation to security forces in the country. To go back to the controversy over the Congress, the Congress in February decided to extend its official mandate. This proved a very unpopular move by a very unpopular body. And since then, critics of the Congress have argued, including Khalifa Haftar, have argued that, essentially, Congress has lost its legitimacy. The supporters of Congress say, "No, it is still the only elected body, congressional body, representative body, here in Libya, and as such, it remains legitimate." You also have claims of legitimacy related to the armed forces. For example, right now we have two claims in Libya to an army. We have that headed by the chief of staff, which is against Haftar’s moves, and Haftar’s forces, which he has rather grandiosely referred to as the Libyan National Army. So we have very different definitions and very different claims to legitimacy, and that’s the root of the problem here.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what about Haftar himself, his history? Could you give us a thumbnail sketch of how he rose to his current position?
MARY FITZGERALD: Well, Haftar has a very checkered history in the minds of many Libyans here. And this is one of the reasons why many Libyans I’ve been discussing his moves with in recent days, they have said that "We support the campaign, but not the man," because they are, if not ambivalent about him, downright wary of him and his motives. And this goes back to his history. He was—he served under Gaddafi. He is associated very much with Gaddafi’s disastrous war in Chad in the 1980s. After that, he defected and lived for several decades in the U.S., returning to Libya during the 2011 uprising. I was in Benghazi when he arrived there in early 2011, and there was a sense of what people would do with him, because at that point there was a commander of the opposition forces, and Haftar was given a role which was almost equal to that, but the two men continued to jockey for power, which left a bad impression of Haftar in many respects.
After the uprising, Haftar took on a rather low profile. But what I was struck by in the last couple of years was, every time I visited Libya, people would say, "Where’s Haftar? What’s Haftar up to right now?" There was a sense that Haftar was somehow planning something, that he was trying to gain some kind of support base. And indeed, in media interviews in recent days, he has said that he had been planning this for over two years. So that’s before the elections to the Congress, before the security situation in eastern Libya unraveled to the extent that it did, which raises, I think, interesting questions about his motives here.
AMY GOODMAN: Sharif Abdel Kouddous, you are also in Tripoli right now, and you had a chance to interview Haftar. Can you describe what that conversation was about?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Yeah, I reached him on the phone from his base just outside of—outside of Benghazi. And he—and I think the most striking thing he said, which he has said in other interviews, as well, was that he was not open to negotiation, that he would rely on force to achieve his objectives. And as Mary mentioned, he told me that there had been some kind of planning happening for a year and a half; in other interviews, he said over two years.
He often spoke of the militias that he’s fighting in Benghazi as a foreign entity, international jihadis who are not Libyan. He spoke of them as coming from other countries. And he also denied accusations that he has received support from abroad, from Egypt, from the United Arab Emirates. And he said quite bluntly that he has not been in contact with the United States. He called on the international community to help Libya politically and economically, and he repeatedly painted this offensive as part of a larger global war on terror. But as you know very well from your experience in the United States, we’ve had a war on terror for more than a decade now, and the question is: When does a war on terror like this end? When does Haftar declare mission accomplished?
AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, the parallels you see—or do you see any—between Libya and what’s happening in Egypt, in your own country?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, parallels have increasingly been drawn. When I speak with Libyans here and they hear my Egyptian accent, they often refer to Sisi and say, "We want someone like him here, and Haftar is like Sisi." Haftar is like Sisi in terms of that he’s riding a popular wave of anger against an Islamist-led government. People are very fed up with this campaign of violence and assassinations that’s been happening in eastern Libya, particularly Benghazi, by Islamist militias that have left scores of former military and police officers and judges and lawyers and activists dead. The comparison is convenient for both sides. I mean, Haftar has portrayed his offensive as a war on terrorism, and in a press conference a few days ago he referred to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, which is a previously unknown entity in Libya but bears the same name as the military council in Egypt that Abdel Fattah el-Sisi used to head, who’s—who was the—who is expected to win presidential elections next week in Egypt.
And many Libyans—I think the events in Egypt had a polarizing effect on the narrative in Libya. Many Libyans speak in these Islamist/non-Islamist terms. Opponents of the government often make no distinction between political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood of Libya and extremist Islamist militias like Ansar al-Sharia. Meanwhile, the government has labeled Haftar’s revolt a coup in the making. So, certainly, Egypt has had an effect on the rhetoric. But the comparison or the parallels drawn between Egypt and Libya are very tenuous. I mean, the situation in Libya is extremely complex. The Islamist/non-Islamist divide is really more of a national-level manifestation of a series of local conflicts over control of territory by militias and groups [inaudible] different interests. And more importantly, there’s a relative balance of force in Libya. It’s actually—
AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, you’re cutting out. We’re going to switch for a moment to Mary Fitzgerald, who is also there in Tripoli. Juan?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, Mary Fitzgerald, I wanted to ask you about the group that Sharif mentioned, Ansar al-Sharia, who is considered the group—it’s gotten a lot of attention here in the U.S. as the group supposedly behind the attack on Benghazi that led to Ambassador Stevens’s death. Your reporting on how—their level of popularity? What’s been happening with that group?
MARY FITZGERALD: Well, what is interesting about Ansar al-Sharia in the last year or so is how it has evolved from being the armed group of some 250, 300 men under arms in 2012 to what is essentially a broader social movement in Benghazi right now. What they have tried to do is concentrate on charitable works and preaching, in an aim—in an effort, rather, to gain hearts and minds in the city. They’ve very much focused on that, trying to give the sense that they’re very much part of society, part of the population in the city. And this has made the debate here in Libya over how to tackle the issue of Ansar al-Sharia very, very difficult indeed. There’s been a very contested debate in recent months. It usually flares up after there’s been clashes in Benghazi between Ansar al-Sharia and the security forces, a debate over how to tackle this: Should this be tackled through dialogue, or should it be tackled by force? Now, Haftar seems to have tipped the scales on this one, leading fears—leading to fears of a wider conflagration.
It’s important to note, as well, that Haftar has talked a lot about a war on terrorism, but he’s given few details on the parameters of that, where it would begin and where it—exactly it might end and who exactly it would target. He has given interviews saying—to the Arab media, saying that he considers the Muslim Brotherhood the main enemy, and vowing to clean it from Libya. In Benghazi, we’re talking about a city—and eastern Libya, more generally, we’re talking about a region with an extremely complex social tapestry. It’s not uncommon, for example, to find families in eastern Libya where you will have one member who is a member of the—one relative who’s a member of the security forces and another who is a member of Ansar al-Sharia. Ansar al-Sharia is basically now drawn from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Some people I met in Benghazi recently who have been mediating with Ansar al-Sharia, they estimated that its membership now stands at more than 4,000 in Benghazi alone.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to remarks made earlier this week by the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones. Speaking at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C., Ambassador Jones said she would not condemn the actions of General Haftar, whose forces stormed the Parliament on May 18th.
AMBASSADOR DEBORAH JONES: Frankly, it’s not necessarily for me to condemn his actions in going against very specific groups, which, as far as I have seen, has been extremely specific, warning civilians to move out of the way and really attacking groups that, frankly, are on our list of—you know, of terrorists. I mean, I’m not saying that’s the best way to deal with them at all, and I’m not supporting it from that perspective, but I’m—what I’m saying is, I personally am not going to come out and condemn blanketly what he did in that specific instance.
AMY GOODMAN: That was the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones. Mary Fitzgerald, this whole issue of Benghazi in Washington, D.C., that’s top headlines here, calling for a re-investigation into what happened in the killing of the U.S.—the previous U.S. ambassador, as well as three other Americans, how is that understood in Libya?
MARY FITZGERALD: Well, that entire episode and the political tempest that continues to rage in Washington, I have to say, hardly impacts on the public debate here in Libya over this issue, because apart from the attack on the diplomatic compound, the U.S. diplomatic compound, in 2012, people in Benghazi have experienced a string of assassinations of, as Sharif mentioned earlier, not just members of the security forces, but civil society activists, journalists and lawyers and judges. And we’re talking about assassinations that have crept into the hundreds at this stage. So this, for Benghazians, is a wider issue beyond the debate raging in Washington.
I think, to go back, though, to what the—how the ambassador’s—the U.S. ambassador’s remarks were interpreted here, certainly, a broad range of Libyans I’ve been discussing this with have interpreted it as an implicit support for what Haftar is doing. And some are concerned about the fact that, apart from Haftar’s much-vaunted war on terrorism, if we look at the trajectory of what has unfolded over the last week, since those initial clashes—the initial attack, rather, on several Islamist-leaning militia bases in Benghazi, what we’ve seen since are actually attacks and a focus on the Congress, the elected Congress. So, on Sunday, forces loyal to Haftar carried out an armed attack using heavy weaponry on the Congress here in Tripoli. Since then, Haftar has focused very much on getting rid of the Congress. In many of his comments in Libyan media here, he has proposed different options in terms of how that might work. But people find that interesting that he’s focusing on the Congress as much as the so-called war on terrorism. The forces that attacked the Congress on Sunday are forces who in February actually threatened the Congress. They warned Congress that if it did not dissolve itself within a matter of hours, then the members would be captured by these—by these particular militias threatening it. This threat was seen as so serious at the time that it prompted the intervention of the U.N. envoy to Libya. So there is concern here, among certain circles in Libya, that this is basically an effort to push Libya off the democratic trajectory.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Sharif, I wanted to ask you about another comparison with other countries in the region that have experienced popular uprisings. In both Libya and in Iraq, you had an international intervention—in Iraq, it was obviously the U.S. invasion, and in Libya, a NATO bombing campaign—that not only overthrew the dictator, but also dismantled the military forces of the country. And in Egypt, on the other hand, the United States did everything possible to assure that the Egyptian military remained as a viable force in the country. Could you talk about how you see this issue? Because, obviously, when the armies are dismantled in Iraq and in Libya, you have the void filled by all of these insurgent groups that develop.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Right. Well, I mean, in Libya, the government here did not create—or failed to create a unified military force from the scores of well-armed militias that emerged from the revolution, and it opted [inaudible] to pay them salaries, even though they remained loyal to their commanders rather than the state. But, you know, analysts have told me that, you know, after theNATO bombing, the international community largely let Libya—set it adrift. This issue of Benghazi and the murder of Chris Stevens is put a little bit back in the headlines in the United States, but really, they abandoned the country to itself. It didn’t have the capacity to build its own state. I think it needed some assistance in its democratic transition.
But there are very different parallels, like you said. In Egypt, the army is the main ally. It’s the main contact between the Pentagon and the army, is the strongest relationship that Egypt has with the United States, much stronger than the contact between the State Department and the government in Egypt. So, you know, it’s a very different situation. You know, Libya, there’s no—there’s no relative balance of force—or, there is a relative balance of force in Libya, excuse me. There’s—you know, it’s actually quite even between the different forces, and there’s no single entity that’s able to deploy nationwide military supremacy. So, very much unlike the army in Egypt, which has national legitimacy and a virtual monopoly on violence, Libya doesn’t have that. You know, in a way, it’s one of the things that it has going for it. The outcome of a military confrontation is still too uncertain. But in Libya, it’s more like you have 10 [inaudible], and they’re all fighting each other.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, unfortunately, Abdullah Elshamy’s brother was not able to join us today, but he is on hunger strike, just been put in solitary confinement last week. And, Sharif, you have talked to him, the Egyptian journalist who works for Al Jazeera, one of the four who are still held. Can you, in this last few minutes, just talk about his situation?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Right. Abdullah Elshamy, who is a [inaudible]—
AMY GOODMAN: Ah, we’re losing you.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Can you hear me now, Amy?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Abdullah Elshamy is a correspondent for Al Jazeera who was arrested on August 14th when the military and police raided the pro-Morsi sit-in in Cairo. He’s been held since then without a formal charge, and he has begun a hunger strike in January to protest his detention. He’s lost over 35 kilograms since then. His health has seriously deteriorated. I spoke to him once in November, where he described his conditions, which were very draconian. I saw him again in the courthouse in the defendant’s cage, where he was packed into a room much too small for the number of prisoners, where, in the sweltering heat of Egypt, they were only given water for an hour a day, and that he had seriously started to feel the effects of the hunger strike. Last week—or, yes, last week, he was taken from—
AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, we have 30 seconds.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: —general population. He was taken from general population and put into solitary confinement. His family says the prison administration is trying to break his hunger strike. This is part of a large crackdown on the media in Egypt, and there’s other three Al Jazeera English journalists, as well, who are currently on trial on charges of terrorism.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now! correspondent, fellow at The Nation—we’ll connect to your front-page pieces in The Washington Post this week—and Mary Fitzgerald, independent journalist based in Libya.
When we come back, we’re going south to Chile to hear about a young activist who burned what looks like something like $500 million worth of documents around student loans. We’ll talk to Papas Fritas in a moment.

Does anyone in Washington care about Israel’s crimes?

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