zaterdag 22 juni 2019

Over de (komende) oorlog tegen Iran: Stan van Houcke en Daan de Wit

Over de (komende) oorlog tegen Iran: Stan van Houcke en Daan de Wit

Gepubliceerd op 22 jun. 2019
Een gesprek over Iran, geopolitiek en media

Stan van Houcke interviewt journalist Daan de Wit, auteur van het boek De Volgende Oorlog – De aanval op Iran – Een voorbeschouwing. Het boek werd gepubliceerd in 2008, maar is vanwege de vooruitziende blik nog steeds actueel. De Volgende Oorlog is gebaseerd op 1650 unieke bronnen en laat zien hoe en waarom er een oorlog tegen Iran wordt voorbereid. De Wit ziet ‘Iran’ als een langlopend project dat nog steeds niet is voltooid. Net als veel anderen houdt hij er sterk rekening mee dat de strijd rond Iran nog niet is gestreden en kan uitlopen op een militair conflict. Met alle gevolgen, ook voor de wereldeconomie, vandien. In het gesprek tussen Van Houcke en De Wit wordt gerefereerd aan een interview in mei 2019 met Scott Ritter, de voormalig VN-wapeninspecteur die ook in De Volgende oorlog een rol speelt. Ritter is een van de deskundigen die zich zorgen maakt over de actuele ontwikkelingen en de ambities van Amerika en Israël met betrekking tot Iran. Aan het boek De Volgende Oorlog ging een serie artikelen vooraf die ook na het boek voortduurde. ‪ Ook is al meer over de inhoud van het boek te lezen op de bijbehorende website. ‪‬ Daan de Wit interviewde Stan van Houcke in 2007, mede over een onderwerp dat ook in het gesprek van vandaag wordt aangehaald: de rol van de media bij het realiseren van de doelen van elites die aansturen op een militair conflict met Iran. Daan de Wit’s meest recente boek is Weet wat je eet - Gezond eten op basis van de oudste kennis en de nieuwste wetenschap De Wit is verder te volgen via Twitter en zijn website Ander Mens ‪‬

Escobar: Iran goes for “maximum counter-pressure”

Pepe Escobar
June 20, 2019
Sooner or later the US “maximum pressure” on Iran would inevitably be met by “maximum counter-pressure”. Sparks are ominously bound to fly.
For the past few days, intelligence circles across Eurasia had been prodding Tehran to consider a quite straightforward scenario. There would be no need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if Quds Force commander, General Qasem Soleimani, the ultimate Pentagon bête noire, explained in detail, on global media, that Washington simply does not have the military capacity to keep the Strait open.
As I previously reported, shutting down the Strait of Hormuz
would destroy the American economy by detonating the $1.2 quadrillion derivatives market; and that would collapse the world banking system, crushing the world’s $80 trillion GDP and causing an unprecedented depression.
Soleimani should also state bluntly that Iran may in fact shut down the Strait of Hormuz if the nation is prevented from exporting essential two million barrels of oil a day, mostly to Asia. Exports, which before illegal US sanctions and de facto blockade would normally reach 2.5 million barrels a day, now may be down to only 400,000.
Soleimani’s intervention would align with consistent signs already coming from the IRGC. The Persian Gulf is being described as an imminent “shooting gallery.” Brigadier General Hossein Salami stressed that Iran’s ballistic missiles are capable of hitting “carriers in the sea” with pinpoint precision. The whole northern border of the Persian Gulf, on Iranian territory, is lined up with anti-ship missiles – as I confirmed with IRGC-related sources.
We’ll let you know when it’s closed
Then, it happened.
Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, went straight to the point; “If the Islamic Republic of Iran were determined to prevent export of oil from the Persian Gulf, that determination would be realized in full and announced in public, in view of the power of the country and its Armed Forces.”
The facts are stark. Tehran simply won’t accept all-out economic war lying down – prevented to export the oil that protects its economic survival. The Strait of Hormuz question has been officially addressed. Now it’s time for the derivatives.
Presenting detailed derivatives analysis plus military analysis to global media would force the media pack, mostly Western, to go to Warren Buffett to see if it is true. And it is true. Soleimani, according to this scenario, should say as much and recommend that the media go talk to Warren Buffett.
The extent of a possible derivatives crisis is an uber-taboo theme for the Washington consensus institutions. According to one of my American banking sources, the most accurate figure – $1.2 quadrillion – comes from a Swiss banker, off the record. He should know; the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank of central banks – is in Basle.
The key point is it doesn’t matter how the Strait of Hormuz is blocked.
It could be a false flag. Or it could be because the Iranian government feels it’s going to be attacked and then sinks a cargo ship or two. What matters is the final result; any blocking of the energy flow will lead the price of oil to reach $200 a barrel, $500 or even, according to some Goldman Sachs projections, $1,000.
Another US banking source explains; “The key in the analysis is what is called notional. They are so far out of the money that they are said to mean nothing. But in a crisis the notional can become real.  For example, if I buy a call for a million barrels of oil at $300 a barrel, my cost will not be very great as it is thought to be inconceivable that the price will go that high.  That is notional.  But if the Strait is closed, that can become a stupendous figure.”
BIS will only commit, officially, to indicate the total notional amount outstanding for contracts in derivatives markers is an estimated $542.4 trillion. But this is just an estimate.
The banking source adds, “Even here it is the notional that has meaning.  Huge amounts are interest rate derivatives. Most are notional but if oil goes to a thousand dollars a barrel, then this will affect interest rates if 45% of the world’s GDP is oil. This is what is called in business a contingent liability.”
Goldman Sachs has projected a feasible, possible $1,000 a barrel a few weeks after the Strait of Hormuz being shut down. This figure, times 100 million barrels of oil produced per day, leads us to 45% of the $80 trillion global GDP. It’s self-evident the world economy would collapse based on just that alone.
War dogs barking mad
As much as 30% of the world’s oil supply transits the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Wily Persian Gulf traders – who know better – are virtually unanimous; if Tehran was really responsible for the Gulf of Oman tanker incident, oil prices would be going through the roof by now. They aren’t.
Iran’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz amount to 12 nautical miles (22 km). Since 1959, Iran recognizes only non-military naval transit.
Since 1972, Oman’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz also amount to 12 nautical miles. At its narrowest, the width of the Strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km). That means, crucially, that half of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, and the other half in Oman’s. There are no “international waters”.
And that adds to Tehran now openly saying that Iran may decide to close the Strait of Hormuz publicly – and not by stealth.
Iran’s indirect, asymmetric warfare response to any US adventure will be very painful. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran once again reconfirmed, “even a limited strike will be met by a major and disproportionate response.” And that means gloves off, big time; anything from really blowing up tankers to, in Marandi’s words, “Saudi and UAE oil facilities in flames”.
Hezbollah will launch tens of thousands of missiles against Israel. As
Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hasan Nasrallah has been stressing in his speeches, “war on Iran will not remain within that country’s borders, rather it will mean that the entire [Middle East] region will be set ablaze. All of the American forces and interests in the region will be wiped out, and with them the conspirators, first among them Israel and the Saudi ruling family.”
It’s quite enlightening to pay close attention to what this Israel intel op is saying. The dogs of war though are barking mad.
Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to CENTCOM in Tampa to discuss “regional security concerns and ongoing operations” with – skeptical – generals, a euphemism for “maxim pressure” eventually leading to war on Iran.
Iranian diplomacy, discreetly, has already informed the EU – and the Swiss – about their ability to crash the entire world economy. But still that was not enough to remove US sanctions.

War zone in effect
As it stands in Trumpland, former CIA Mike “We lied, We cheated, We stole” Pompeo – America’s “top diplomat” – is virtually running the Pentagon. “Acting” secretary Shanahan performed self-immolation. Pompeo continues to actively sell the notion the “intelligence community is convinced” Iran is responsible for the Gulf of Oman tanker incident. Washington is ablaze with rumors of an ominous double bill in the near future; Pompeo as head of the Pentagon and Psycho John Bolton as Secretary of State. That would spell out War.
Yet even before sparks start to fly, Iran could declare that the Persian Gulf is in a state of war; declare that the Strait of Hormuz is a war zone; and then ban all “hostile” military and civilian traffic in its half of the Strait. Without firing a single shot, no shipping company on the planet would have oil tankers transiting the Persian Gulf.

America’s Respectable War Criminals

America’s Respectable War Criminals


Photograph Source: BasilioC – Public Domain

Boston Globe story highlights Wellesley College alumnae Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton’s return to the College for their 60th and 50th respective reunions. The story states that “their early days at Wellesley College were marked by uncertainty and feeling out of place.” But they “overcame their trepidation and went on to illustrious careers including serving as the country’s top foreign diplomat under different presidents.” Wellesley College president Paula A. Johnson asked them questions for over an hour, with the audience giving “Albright and Clinton an enthusiastic reception, including three standing ovations.” What created the enthusiastic response? Albright and Clinton “urged the audience to speak up and take action to protect democracy from the threat of fascism under President Trump.” (“At Wellesley, Madeleine and Hillary Clinton encourage protest, political action.,” By Laura Crimaldi, June 9, 2019)
“Speak up and take action to protect democracy.” Okay. The country certainly needs to be protected from “the threat of fascism under President Trump.” But such honoring of Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton’s “illustrious careers” is quite a commentary on The Boston Globe and Wellesley College and the selective morality of many Americans. Trump can serve to distract attention from war crimes committed by other, respectable, U.S. political leaders, among them Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton.
Consider Madeleine Albright. The U.N. imposed draconian sanctions on Iraq, pushed by the U.S. and Britain after it invaded Kuwait. Before that, in 1989 Iraq was reported to have “one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, as well as universal, free healthcare and education.” (“Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq,”, 1-15-05) Iraq’s remarkable health was due to President Saddam Hussein nationalizing the country’s vast oil resources, and investing certain of its revenue in the Iraqi people. This policy did not set well with Western oil corporations, which saw Iraq’s bountiful oil reserves as a gold mine to be controlled and tapped.
The sanctions prevented Iraq from importing supplies of food and medicine and other necessities. A survey by two scientists, Drs. Mary Smith Fawzi and Sarah Zaidi, found that “as many as 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the Persian Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council.” (“Iraqi Sanctions, Kill Children, U.N. Reports,” By Barbara Crossette, The NewYork Times, Dec. 1, 1995)
In 1996, President Bill Clinton’s U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Madeleine Albright appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes with reporter Lesly Stahl, who said, “We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And – you know, is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.” (“The price is worth it,” By Edward S. Herman, Evidently the harsh criticism she received led her to apologize for her words years later, but not for the brutal sanctions against Iraq she helped to enforce as America’s U. N. Ambassador.
Edward S. Herman, now deceased American economist, media scholar and social critic, wrote that “the ratio of dead Iraqi children to deaths in the WTC/Pentagon bombings was better than 80 to 1,” but “the mainstream media and intellectuals have not found Albright’s rationalization of this mass killing of any interest whatsoever.” Their interest is about “who” not “why.” Herman asked, “Is it not morally chilling, even a bit frightening, that he [a liberal historian] and the great mass of citizen compatriots, can focus with such anguish and indignation on their own 6,000 dead, while ignorant of, or not caring about, or approving his (their) own government’s ongoing killing of scores of times as many innocents abroad?” He also said, “Because the media make the suffering and death of 500,000 children invisible, the outrage produced by the intense coverage of the WCT/Pentagon bombing victims does not surface on their behalf. . . . The media . . . are not interested in root causes.” Herman concluded, “This reflects the work of a superb propaganda system.” (Ibid)
Evidently the Wellesley College president did not ask former U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright questions about the U.S.-driven U.N. sanctions and the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children. The “superb propaganda system” was obviously on display at Wellesley College — and in The Boston Globe.
Nor could Osama bin Laden’s words penetrate America’s “superb propaganda system.” He wrote a “letter to America,” in which, he cited the “whys” of the 9/11 attacks. Among the U.S. government’s sins against Muslim nations: “You have starved the Muslims in Iraq, where children die every day,” he said. “It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet,” he continued, “when 3000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down.” (“Full text: bin Laden’s ‘letter to America,’” The Guardian, Nov. 24, 2002)
The U.S. government’s answer to Osama bin Laden was to send a Special Forces teaam to silence him, killing him in his compound — as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others watched his assassination, and also the killing of three men and a woman, from the safety of the White House’s Situation Room. Bin Laden’s body was then dumped into the sea – to prevent his burial in a known grave where mourners could gather and be inspired to engage in more protests against U.S. imperialistic policies. (See “Death of Osama bin Laden Fast Facts,”CNN, April 18, 2019)
The assassination of Osama bin Laden is merely one example of The U.S. government silencing people who dare to expose America’s war crimes. In an extensive In These Times article on “The Crackdown on Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange Is About Protecting U.S. Empire,” Chip Gibbons writes about the fates of whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange: “army Intelligence analyst Manning shared massive troves of Iraq and Afghanistan War logs with Assange, who released them. Videos showed American soldiers’ needless killing of Iraqi civilians, in what WikiLeaks called “Collateral Murder.” Gibbons cites American journalist Dahr Jamail’s report from Iraq: “The WikiLeaks cables from Iraq displayed the brutality of U.S. polices that were ongoing throughout the occupation.” (May 14, 2019)
Chip Gibbons also quotes “Phillis Bennis, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.” She stated that “the Afghan War Logs ‘were crucially important,’ as they showed ‘Afghanistan was and is a real country where hundreds of thousands, millions of people with no connection to 9/11 would be killed or see their lives and families destroyed.’ ” Gibbons also pointed out: “The Guantanamo leaks revealed the U. S government knowingly held 150 innocent men.” (Ibid)
Mr. Gibbons states that “this massive insight into U.S. foreign policy apparatus showed ‘the world according to U.S. empire.’ But,” he said, “for much of mainstream U.S. media, there is little if any true reckoning with the civilian cost of war.” And “exposing the U.S. empire comes at a cost. . . . WikiLeaks is currently in the crosshairs of the U.S. government, because it challenged this secrecy head on.”(Ibid)
Chelsea Manning spent seven years in prison, before President Obama commuted her 35-year sentence. But she is back in prison for refusing to testify against Julian Assange. Assange himself in now in a British prison, after being hounded and spending seven years in refuge in Ecuador’s Embassy in London. The U.S, is eager to have him extradited, to face a number of charges under the Espionage Act, with his case possibly used to erode press freedom by criminalizing journalists who expose governmental crimes for the public good.
Enter Hillary Clinton. Her 2016 presidential campaign was victimized by WikiLeaks disseminating communications obtained from her campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Her response to Assange’s arrest: “I think it is clear from the indictment that came out it’s not about punishing journalism, it is about assisting in the hacking of a military computer to steal information from the United States government.” (“Hillary Clinton says Assange ‘has to answer for what he’s done,’” By Julie Gallagher, CNN, April 12, 2019) Never mind that the “information” hacked was about the U.S. government’s concealed war crimes.
Hillary Clinton also said about Julian Assange’s indictment: “The bottom line is he needs to ‘answer for what he’s done.’” (Ibid) Clinton herself needs to answer for what she’s done. In 2002, she voted to authorize the George W. Bush administration’s falsely-based, unnecessary, illegal invasion of Iraq, and still needs to answer for contributing to that horrible, unending war crime. Obviously, Wellesley College President Johnson did not ask Clinton about the reported “4,500 American soldiers killed and thousands more permanently disabled, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths; the destabilization of the region with the rise of ISIS; and a dramatic increase in the federal deficit, resulting in major cutbacks to important social programs. “ (“Clinton’s Iraq War Vote Still Appalls,”by Stephen Zunes,, April 14, 2016)
During her run for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton expressed regret for her Iraq war vote when New York senator. An obvious and strategically voiced regret, because the basis for invading Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, had long been proven a lie peddled by the George W. Bush administration. The reported reality then: “Clinton ignored information provided by U.N. inspectors, reports by independent strategic analysts, and articles in reputable arms control journals that challenged the administration’s claims.” (Ibid) The 2016 election demanded moral hindsight from Clinton.
Hillary Clinton’s immoral “foresight” is seen in her response to Libya as Secretary of State. In the Black Agenda Report, Solomon Comissiong, educator and founder of the Your World News Media Collective, writes that Clinton and President Obama “orchestrated the destruction of what was once the African nation with the highest living standards – Libya!” Clinton especially “was a strong proponent and vocal cheerleader of the barbaric bombing of Libya, a bombing campaign that destroyed tens of thousands of civilian lives.” As a result, “Libya continues to be submerged in a quagmire of slavery of Black Africans, civil war, death and destruction.” (“How Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton Contributed to Libya’s Slavery Crisis,” Dec. 6, 2017) And Libyan refugees have flooded European countries.
Along with “bombing Libya into oblivion,” Mr. Comissiong states that the Obama administration used “racist and terrorist rebel groups to do their dirty deeds on their ground.” These groups “often targeted Black Africans for rape, torture and public lynching simply because they were seen as allies of Muammar Gaddafi – who had provided a safe haven for those same Black Africans.” (Ibid)
Mr. Comissiong says that the justification for toppling President Muammar Gaddafi was based on a lie: “that he “was planning to murder Libyan civilians.” His real sins included being “resistant to the United States’ neo-colonial machinations with Africom,” and calling for a United State of Africa. . . . just the kind of leader and (Libyan Jamahiriya) government the United States hates and loves to overthrow.” Comissiong concludes “Both parties are unapologetic imperialists, hell-bent on global domination. “ (Ibid)
Hillary Clinton provides a window into her own soul in response to learning that Col. Muammar Gaddafi has been captured by rebel forces, beaten and sodomized by a bayonet. In a CBS News interview, she gleefully said, “We came, we saw, he died” – then raised her hands in laughter. (“Hillary’s War Crime,” By Paul Craig Roberts, Foreign Policy Journal, Oct. 24, 2016)
There are a number of respectable American war criminals – on both sides of the aisle. Former vice president and now leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, along with 28 other Democratic senators, voted to authorize then President George W. Bush’s criminal invasion of Iraq. There is Bush himself, who used his Jesus “changed my heart” profession of faith and lies about President Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction to justify his preemptive war against Iraq. And he is still respectable, with a library and museum named after him at Southern Methodist University, and dominant media covering his commentary on President Trump’s falsehoods and nativism.
Add President Bush’s still respectable Vice President, Dick Cheney, who also falsely charged Iraq with having weapons of mass destruction and was a strong advocate for war. Cheney later wrote a memoir, In My Time, that was a #1 New York Times best seller.
Include respectable Gen. Colin Powell, Bush’s Secretary of State, who lied to the U.N. about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, thereby selling the U.N. Security Council on the case for war. His book, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, is billed as written by “one of America’s most admired figures, reveals the principles that have shaped his life and career in this inspiring and engrossing memoir.”
Then there is respectable President Barack Obama, whose use of drone warfare has killed countless civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Somalia. Obama also created a “kill list,” giving himself the presidential authority to order the assassination of anyone without due process, including Americans, who are suspected of terrorism. Innocent children became victims of Obama’s “kill list” and drone warfare. Sixteen-year-old American Abdulrahman, son of American Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, and the youth’s teenage cousin and other innocent friends, were killed in Yemen by an Obama-ordered CIA drone strike, just two weeks after America-radicalized cleric al-Awlaki was assassinated and silenced in Yemen, also by a CIA drone strike. (See “Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American in Yemen. Trump Just Killed His 8-Year-Old Sister,” By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Jan 30, 2017)
Like George W. Bush’s Presidential Library and Museum at SMU, Obama will have his Barack Obama Presidential Center near the University of Chicago campus.
President Donald Trump followed in President Obama’s respectable footsteps, ordering a Navy Seal 6 commando raid in Yemen, that resulted in the killing of “30 people including 10 women and children,” one of whom was “the 8 year-old daughter . . . of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki.” (Ibid) Trump specializes in brutalizing powerless children and their families for political gain, hence his 2020 presidential campaign vow to deport “millions of illegal aliens.” With Iran also in his psychopathic lying sights. The list of respectable America war criminals continues.
These respectable American war criminals reveal that many Americans live in an alternative reality, where their government’s war crimes, if ever mentioned by mainstream media, are usually called “mistakes,” and rarely investigated or persistently challenged. In calling America ”the greatest nation on earth” and “the exceptional nation” and saying “Make American Great Again,” Presidents Bush and Obama and Trump are attributing to America a moral superiority, which conveniently serves to cover up the U.S. government’s imperialistic war crimes. A moral superiority which many Christians especially have been conditioned to believe because of their own exceptional Christian self-image. People need to be morally diminished to justify their subjugation.
Respectable American war criminals count on respectable people of faith. These political leaders could not get away with their war crimes and then be honored in high – and holy — places without the accommodation of people of faith. This is not to discount the immeasurable good works people of faith perform. But when it comes to speaking truth to the U.S. government’s criminal global wars against so-called “terrorism,” more often than not people of faith remain respectable chaplains of the status quo, rather than prophets of all the people. It is about power, not morality.
More articles by:
Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., a former hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center, is both a Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist minister. His new book, The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn’t be “preyed” away) is now published and available on The book’s Foreword, Drawing the Line, is written by Counterpunch editor, Jeffrey St. Clair. Alberts is also author of A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, which “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. His e-mail address is

America Was Never Great

America Was Never Great. Behind the Flag Is a Harrowing History.

Krystal Lake — a Black woman who wore a hat with the words “America Was Never Great” at the Home Depot where she worked — received death threats on social media in response to her small symbolic act in defiance of Trump’s racist campaign. The online rage was triggered because she dared challenge the myth of American innocence — the idea that the U.S. has been a benevolent force in the world.
In their new book, American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News — From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror, authors Roberto Sirvent and Danny Haiphong map the power of ideology. In 21 essays that span the media’s reaction to 9/11 to the multi-cultural patriotism of the Broadway show “Hamilton,” they show how American exceptionalism and innocence has warped our culture. It is a tour de force of scholarship that takes Karl Marx’s call for a “ruthless criticism of the existing order” and brings it up to the present.
It also is a harrowing read. After the last essay, one sees the massive violence hidden by media. It is like peeling back a Band-Aid with the U.S. flag on it and seeing an ugly wound that never healed. Scraping off ideology leaves one face-to-face with reality and empowers us, the readers, to change it.
Sirvent and Haiphong connect the past to the present. Many chapters dig and find lost history. In doing so, they create a counter narrative that celebrates populist struggle. In this interview, co-author Danny Haiphong discusses the inspiration and process for writing American Exceptionalism and American Innocence, how political groups have tried to use Black Americans as electoral pawns, and what advocates of a truly transformative society must consider.
Nicholas Powers: Your book comes at a risky time. Fascism rises across the globe. Did that inspire you to write it? 
Danny Haiphong: While it is important to condemn the rise of the political right and neo-fascist elements, we felt American exceptionalism and innocence have created an even graver problem. Anti-Trump rallies decried the racist, orange billionaire as wholly unrepresentative of what this country was all about. But when has white supremacy not been what the U.S. is about? That we even need to ask this question speaks to the power of American exceptionalism.
American exceptionalism requires an enemy. There has been a deepening alliance between neoliberals with neoconservatives, which can be seen in how the U.S. intelligence community has aligned mainly with the Democratic Party to promote the narrative of Russian meddling in the 2016 election to distract from the very real policy concerns that poor people and workers have in the U.S. In order to keep the status quo, the elite have ignored the endless war, rampant poverty and heightened racism in place of gazing at a scapegoat. Our book attempts to discern who exactly the enemy is; that the enemy sits in official Washington and corporate boardrooms, not in the Kremlin. To think otherwise only gives legitimacy to the political right.
What was the process of writing the book? Did you have a clear vision going in, or did it emerge from the research?
Roberto Sirvent reached out to me in June of 2017 about the idea for the book. We wanted to write about issues relevant to the current period and ensure that history was our guiding framework. We talked for five or so months about critical examples of American exceptionalism and innocence at work.
For example, Chapter 4: “Did the United States Really Save the World? Remembering and Misremembering World War II” came out of a conversation that we had about our frustrations with how even progressive activists talk about World War II. It is discussed as the greatest example of the U.S. “spreading democracy” worldwide. Many Americans really do believe that the U.S. was the principle force that saved the world from fascism. However, the U.S. dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan and helped firebomb Dresden with Britain (both of which historians have deemed as unnecessary) during the war — events that challenge American exceptionalism. 
In Chapter 7, you make a case that Black elites are used to buttress the myth of meritocracy. How do the class divisions in minority communities make the working class and poor vulnerable to the myth of American exceptionalism?

The ruling class promoted the myth that the U.S. is designed to become a more perfect union, when in fact, reforms such as “diversity” made the U.S. empire a more effective evil. The election of Barack Obama was seen among broad sections of the Black and white liberal political classes as an extension of the politics of Martin Luther King Jr. It didn’t matter that the Democratic Party possessed control over the House and Senate in 2009 yet failed to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, pass single-payer health care, punish the banks, roll back the Patriot Act and pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Black Americans are the most progressive section of the U.S. population but mounted no challenge to the Obama administration. Black Americans were the most optimistic about their economic prospects despite being devastated by Obama’s failure to address the rapid plunder of Black wealth from the 2007-2008 economic crisis. Furthermore, under Obama, Black Americans supported U.S. intervention in Syria and NSA surveillance more than any other group, including white Americans.
The dramatic shift to the right on the part of the Black polity demonstrates that the politics of inclusion are a form of counterinsurgency warfare which utilizes American exceptionalism and innocence as their primary weapon to subdue left political alternatives.
Your evocation of Black internationalism is rare, brilliant and needed. What role can it play in the emerging left coalition to counter the international white nationalism rising in the West? 
Black internationalism is the antithesis of American exceptionalism and innocence. It does not presume that the U.S. is a force for good in the world. It is rooted in the principles of socialism. Black liberation cannot occur without the overthrow of the capitalist class, which derives its profits from the super exploitation of poor Black Americans in the mainland and oppressed nations abroad. For example, the Black Panther Party espoused Black internationalism through concrete solidarity with Vietnam at the height of that war. In fact, Huey P. Newton offered Black Panther Party members to fight for the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam.
The political vacuum that has been created by the repression of Black internationalism and the myths of American exceptionalism has allowed the politics of white power to thrive. We believe that Black internationalism and its current iterations, like the Black Alliance for Peace, must be emulated and strengthened for any broad-based left movement to be successful.
In Chapter 9, you map the history of the United States unleashing violence to suppress free speech when it comes from the poor and the left. Recently, an active force is the Intellectual Dark Web, a hodgepodge network of academics who cast progressive activists as the ones using violence to shut down free speech. Its members cite the turmoil at Evergreen State College or the de-platforming of Charles Murray and Milo Yiannopoulos. How do you respond to their claim?
We are in a moment where the left and the right are being constantly equated by the ruling class to justify heightened surveillance online and in the streets. We need to move the debate away from “free speech” and ask the question of whose speech is protected and whose is not.
If we want to defend “free speech” and fight the far right, we must understand how the system of U.S. imperialism operates. It has reserved the harshest treatment for radical social movements. The U.S. waged a coordinated war on the Communist Party from the early to mid-20th century, which included the harassment, deportation, and imprisonment of freedom fighters such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Cyril Briggs. Today, veterans from the Black liberation movement of the 1960s such as Mumia Abu-Jamal remain in prison for their participation in radical political activity.
The history of our military is a nightmare, yet it is celebrated in popular culture from Hollywood blockbusters to sport games. One dimension that is overlooked is how the military was a path of integration for racial and sexual minorities. How does this complicate the goal of achieving a critical view of the military?
Black GIs have always led the way in resistance efforts against U.S. wars. There are a lot of reasons for that, one of which was the persistence of Jim Crow even after many Black Americans were drafted to fight in the U.S. wars from World War I onward. Many Black GIs refused to suppress Black rebellions in U.S. cities beginning in the mid-1960s. Black Americans have never been reliable mercenaries of the war machine. Integration was a hard-fought struggle, but ultimately something that the U.S. ruling class could accept so long as it was able to continue exploiting the labor and plundering the wealth of oppressed people.

In a period of endless austerity and war, the military’s “inclusive” character allows it to pose as an opportunity to achieve the “American Dream” in a society that has nothing to offer the vast majority of Black Americans. The Democratic Party promotes diversity as its prime objective because it has nothing to offer its constituents, Black America being the most important one. So, it must continue to pose as the party of civil rights and labor in order to win elections while constantly equating military superiority with American greatness to satisfy its donors. This is what has led to the steady decline of the antiwar movement in the United States. Our greatest challenge is to find a way to release the stranglehold of the Democratic Party over workers and oppressed people in the United States, and that means challenging the politics of inclusion and diversity as weapons of the War Party.
If you were to write a sequel, what other ideologies would you call in for analysis?
A follow-up book may consider how the “White Man’s Burden” and Manifest Destiny shaped early conceptions of U.S. warfare. It would analyze how U.S. imperial ambitions have been framed in a civilizing colonial logic. That “uniqueness” would help us understand the current way of warfare that the U.S. is engaged in around the world today.
Second, the popularity of the word “socialism” is on the rise. American exceptionalism and innocence are designed to protect private property and the rule of the rich by making them “common sense.” This has profoundly shaped how people in the United States view socialism. To me, socialism is a revolutionary transition of power from the capitalist class to the workers and oppressed classes. But socialism is defined by many in the U.S. today as another New Deal, whereby someone like Bernie Sanders is elected to institute single-payer health care, living wage jobs and student debt relief. I support these demands for reform, but winning requires not a more “exceptional” U.S. imperialism, but a new system all together. That is a project worth undertaking.


  S.L. Kanthan @Kanthan2030 Western politicians are absolute clowns, but they have no self-awareness. “Iran’s actions are reckless!” Surpr...