Response to “Occupy Wall Street: How Should it be Covered Now“.
To: Arthur S. Brisbane
Public Editor of the New York Times
I find it amazing that these pundits, looking at a crowd of people carrying signs, come away scratching their heads asking, “what specifically do OWS demonstrators want?”
The conspiratorial questions about “who is the leader, who is really behind it” also show how far out of touch, and indeed, clueless, these members of the chattering classes truly are.
Let me tackle the first part of Tim Kelly’s list:
Who are the protesters?
A few groups are here.
1. Old New Leftists, now part of the establishment, going once more unto the breach.
2. First-time protesters, most idealistic young people.
3. Ideological extremists (a small, but visible minority).
4. War veterans, now home and un- or under-employed.
Who are the leaders?
The internet is the leader. There is no person who can be described as leading the movement. Intellectually, the movement is led by Noam Chomsky, probably more than any one other living figure.
Who’s really behind all this?
Adbusters started it. I think it amazed them and has long since left their control.
Who’s going to pay for the cleanup?
Presumably this will fall primarily to municipalities.
What do they hope to accomplish?
Reducing wealth and income inequality.
Enhancing civil rights.
Holding the richest and most powerful to account.
What can citizens do to take part in the protests, or avoid them?
Really? A former newspaper editor has no idea how to Google about “occupy wall street” plus (name of town) and either go there or not go there?
What is happening inside the camps?
I have been to the Boston settlement twice and I have found it peaceful, clean and orderly, with many thought-provoking discussions, books, tracts, and signs.
This degree of confusion and inability to observe the plainly obvious makes me think that, as in the story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, that these wealthy pundits and apologists for the plutocratic class quoted above, see only that which they wish to see and nothing more.
Copyright © 2011 Henry Edward Hardy
Snips of Ike:
Why We Fight
by Henry Edward Hardy
Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight takes as its framework snippets from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous televised farewell to the nation in 1961, often called the “military-industrial complex” speech. Jarecki is best known for The Trials of Henry Kissinger.
One may or may not be sympathetic to the premise of the film, that the United States has become an American Empire, and as such, is behaving badly in the world. Why We Fight makes clever use of icons of the Republican Party such as John McCain and Eisenhower and neoconservatives such as William Kristol and Richard Pearle to make its points.
Why We Fight is also the title of a series of films made for the U.S. government by Frank Capra during World War II. They were commissioned in response to the Nazi use of mass media in films like Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. Since then the title has been (mis-)appropriated a number of times, such as the book by former “Drug Czar” William J. Bennett subtitled “Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism”, and the name of a popular Danish rock band.
Jarecki’s Why We Fight has not been widely seen in the U.S. It was shown on the BBC in March 2005 and won the American Documentary Grand Prize at Sundance in 2005. The film would be stronger if it were better-organized and had a less transparent point to make. For those unfamiliar with some of Eisenhower’s later and more progressive thinking, this film is an interesting introduction.
A version of this article appeared previously in Current Magazine and on Electric Current
Copyright © 2006-2007 Henry Edward Hardy
Nice rundown on Michael Ledeen’s “down the memory hole” trip to discovering he had in fact, always opposed the Iraq war! The neocon rats are fast abandoning this sinking ship.
Michael Ledeen: The Best There Ever Was
Much of the blurghosphere is gaping in slack-jawed amazement at Michael Ledeen this afternoon. And rightfully so. Others in the right-wing’s core of frothing foreign policy lunatics are spectacular liars, landing the equivalent of double and triple axels with ease. But Ledeen has flown far beyond what anyone had dreamed possible for human beings. Behold, the nonuple axel of lying:
I do not feel “remorseful,” since I had and have no involvement with our Iraq policy. I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place and I advocated—as I still do—support for political revolution in Iran as the logical and necessary first step in the war against the terror masters.
WOW. Let’s rewind the tape and watch that one again in slow motion.
More at: A Tiny Revolution
Neo Culpa Vanity Fair article that sent Ledeen diving down the memory hole
Namebase entry: Michael Ledeen
Michael A. Ledeen, Freedom Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
Michael A. Ledeen profile on Rightweb
Michael Ledeen at Sourcewatch, Center for Media and Democracy
Michael Ledeen (wikipedia)
The Power of Nightmares: Film-maker Adam Curtis Uncovers the Truth (and Lies) About Terrorism. This BBC three-part series features some interesting interview clips with Ledeen.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
Let’s imagine that George W. Bush is intelligent, that he is not insane, and that he has a strategy at work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s imagine further that Bush’s strategy is working as intended. What could that strategy be?
The Great Game/Containment
In this theory, the bombs fall on Baghdad and Helmand but the target is Moscow.
The term, The Great Game is attributed to a British Intelligence Officer, Lt. Arthur Connoly of the 6th Bengal Light Cavalry. He used the term in, Journey to the North of India through Russia, Persia and Afghanistan, London, Richard Bentley, 1834, to describe the rivalry between the British and Russian empire in Central Asia.
A similar theory, now called containment, was proposed in a famous article by George Kennan. In The Sources of Soviet Conduct, Foreign Affairs, July, 1947, Kennan, writing as “X”, proposed that the Soviet Union be crippled economically through an economic and cultural blockade, while it would be destabilized through covert actions and propaganda. He wrote,
…it will be clearly seen that the Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counter-force at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points…
…we have in Russia today a population which is physically and spiritually tired. The mass of the people are disillusioned, skeptical and no longer as accessible as they once were to the magical attraction which Soviet power still radiates to its followers abroad. The avidity with which people seized upon the slight respite accorded to the Church for tactical reasons during the war was eloquent testimony to the fact that their capacity for faith and devotion found little expression in the purposes of the regime.
In these circumstances, there are limits to the physical and nervous strength of people themselves. These limits are absolute ones, and are binding even for the cruelest dictatorship, because beyond them people cannot be driven. The forced labor camps and the other agencies of constraint provide temporary means of compelling people to work longer hours than their own volition or mere economic pressure would dictate; but if people survive them at all they become old before their time and must be considered as human casualties to the demands of dictatorship. In either case their best powers are no longer available to society and can no longer be enlisted in the service of the state.
The idea here is that the chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan is not an aberration but is in fact calculated and intended. Doctrines of “asymmetrical warfare” hold that terrorism and armed propaganda are “force multipliers”… therefore we destroy the pillars of civil society so that our own “freedom fighters” can do their asymmetrical thing. This could be considered similar to the Sudanese strategy in Darfur, or the Contra war the US has conducted in Latin America, most notably in the 1980′s.
Peter Beaumont et al After the surge … what next? The Observer, Sunday January 14, 2007
David L. Grange, Asymmetric Warfare: Old Strategy, New Concern, National Strategy Forum Review Winter 2000
James Johnson Implications for the Ten Division Army: Selective Engagement or Managed Chaos Masters Thesis, US Army Command and Military Staff College, 1994
world’s largest producer of opium; cultivation dropped 48% to 107,400 hectares in 2005; better weather and lack of widespread disease returned opium yields to normal levels, meaning potential opium production declined by only 10% to 4,475 metric tons; if the entire poppy crop were processed, it is estimated that 526 metric tons of heroin could be processed; source of hashish; many narcotics-processing labs throughout the country; drug trade source of instability and some anti-government groups profit from the trade; 80-90% of the heroin consumed in Europe comes from Afghan opium; vulnerable to narcotics money laundering through informal financial networks
This is the full report of the opium survey of Afghanistan that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime made public in September 2006. There was considerable alarm when it was announced that opium cultivation in Afghanistan rose to 165,000 hectares in 2006, a 59% increase over 2005.
This 6,100 tons of opium gives Afghanistan the dubious distinction of having nearly a monopoly of the world heroin market.
Major traffickers, warlords and insurgents are reaping the profits of this bumper crop to spread instability, infiltrate public institutions, and enrich themselves. Afghanistan is moving from narcoeconomy to narco-state.
While criminals prosper, the rest of society suffers. In Afghanistan, opium is choking development and democratization. The rule of the bullet and the bribe exists where there is no rule of law.
UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Opium Survey 2006
Britain fought two Opium Wars from 1834 to 1860 to force China to buy British opium. After World War II, the United States has fought a series of wars and proxy wars in the worlds major opium growing areas, including Burma, Laos, Thailand, Columbia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Kurdistan.
William E. Colby, Heroin, Laos, and the USA New York Review of Books, November 22, 1990.
Gary Webb, The Dark Alliance, San Jose Mercury News, 1996.
Jensen-Stevenson, Monika and Stevenson, William. Kiss the Boys Goodbye: How the United States Betrayed Its Own POWs in Vietnam. New York: Dutton (Penguin Books), 1990 [namebase entry]
Kwitny, Jonathan. The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA. New York: W.W. Norton, 1987. [namebase entry]
This is a common theory, the only twist here being that the intent would be not to obtain the oil but simply to drive up prices by restricting supply. As long as Saudi Arabia remains on board (how much longer?) the US-aligned corporations have enough excess capacity to meet the oil demand. So to guarantee profits, the Seven Sisters need not to obtain more supplies, thus putting yet more oil on the market; but to simply insure the destruction of the productive capacity of their rivals.
Divide and rule
In this scenario, the US would intentionally foment sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere. The US would favor the Shiia because they are in the minority and the idea would be to destabilize the Sunni regimes in particular Saudi Arabia, which has an economic stranglehold on the US by means of its massive investment portfolio and oil reserves.
Divide and Rule (wikipedia)
The theory of Permanent War is eloquently articulated in George Orwell’s novel, 1984:
The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed…
War, it will be seen, accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way. In principle it would be quite simple to waste the surplus labour of the world by building temples and pyramids, by digging holes and filling them up again, or even by producing vast quantities of goods and then setting fire to them. But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional basis for a hierarchical society. What is concerned here is not the morale of masses, whose attitude is unimportant so long as they are kept steadily at work, but the morale of the Party itself. Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war. It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist.
George Orwell, 1984
The basic authority of a modern state over its people resides in its war powers. (There is, in fact, good reason to believe that codified law had its origins in the rules of conduct established by military victors for dealing with the defeated enemy, which were later adapted to apply to all subject populations. ) On a day-to-day basis, it is represented by the institution of police, armed organizations charged expressly with dealing with “internal enemies” in a military manner. Like the conventional “external” military, the police are also substantially exempt from many civilian legal restraints on their social behavior. In some countries, the artificial distinction between police and other military forces does not exist. On the long-term basis, a government’s emergency war powers – inherent in the structure of even the most libertarian of nations – define the most significant aspect of the relation between state and citizen.
In advanced modern democratic societies, the war system has provided political leaders with another political-economic function of increasing importance: it has served as the last great safeguard against the elimination of necessary social classes. As economic productivity increases to a level further and further above that of minimum subsistence, it becomes more and more difficult for a society to maintain distribution patterns insuring the existence of “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” The further progress of automation can be expected to differentiate still more sharply between “superior” workers and what Ricardo called “menials,” while simultaneously aggravating the problem of maintaining an unskilled labor supply.
The arbitrary nature of war expenditures and of other military activities make them ideally suited to control these essential class relationships. Obviously, if the war system were to be discarded, new political machinery would be needed at once to serve this vital subfunction. Until it is developed, the continuance of the war system must be assured, if for no other reason, among others, than to preserve whatever quality and degree of poverty a society requires as an incentive, as well as to maintain the stability of its internal organization of power.
Lewis Lewin, Report From Iron Mountain
Shock and Awe: A Strategy of Terror
The purpose of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq might be to establish for the world and the internal population, the utter ruthlessness of the Government and its willingness to use maximum force against those who disagree with its agenda.
A strategy of permanent war could be a means to establish dictatorship inside the US, suppress dissent, co-opt the media, and take control of the reins of power at home and abroad. The use of torture and concentration camps abroad will provide the legal and social acceptance of such measures in the
Fatherland, er, Homeland.
And finally the ever-popular,
All of the above!
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
March on Washington to Oppose War January 27, 2007
Join together to march for peace and justice in Washington, DC on January 27, 2007! Many lobbying and additional legal, nonviolent protest activities are planned in conjunction. Please go if you can or join in local activities wherever you may be.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy