The People (imprisoned in their own fantasies, delusions, false consciousness) vs. Obama (skillful practitioner of deceit, war criminal) is no contest, given the political culture of acquiescence he has intensified and accelerated, through the pervasive atmosphere of counterterrorism on one hand, and worshipful gratitude to wealth-concentration and the structural hierarchy of power—founded on that wealth– on the other, on the shoulders of his predecessors, themselves adept at pushing the fortunes of advanced capitalism. A vicious circle, or perhaps dark hole out of which the public cannot climb, defines the present, with Obama the personification, the ideal leader, from the standpoint of ruling groups, in achieving the smooth integration of capitalism and militarism—the latter critical to the prevention of stagnation in the former. In today’s New York Times editorial (May 19), practically beseeching POTUS to take action on the climate issue, rather than slamming down hard on his dismal, indeed, treacherous, record, one sees the problem: abject dependence on a policy-structure rooted in the performance and systemic requirements of capitalism, whatever the quality, character, or decisions of leadership, and the consequences to the United States and the world at large.
[…] “…and no one doubts that he cares about it [the climate issue].” Is there any salutary position affecting a vital issue that Obama does care about? None. NYT misreads his record and intentions at every turn, climate change being an obvious case in point. Why persist with this delusion? Why grant heart and intelligence which, if only Republican obstruction did not exist, presumably would be resoundingly clear?
Face the reality, a deceitful president who would say anything to get elected and reelected, while supporting, by inaction as well as action, every vested interest working against the American people. [++]
Appropriately equipped with ear plugs and eye protection, we filed upstairs to a veranda overlooking one of the village’s main throughways, where we joined the ‘Observer Coaches’ and film crew, taking our positions for the afternoon’s scripted exercise. Loud explosions, smoke, and fairly grisly combat scenes ensued … In the subsequent chaos, it was hard to tell who was doing what, and why: gun trucks began rolling down the streets, dodging a live goat and letting off round after round as insurgents fired RPGs (mounted on invisible fishing line that blended in with the electrical wires above our heads) from upstairs windows; blood-covered casualties were loaded into an ambulance while soldiers went door-to-door with their weapons drawn; and, in the episode’s climax, a suicide bomber blew himself up directly beneath us, showering our tour group with ashes. … Twenty minutes later, it was all over. The smoke died down; the actors reassembled, uninjured, to discuss what just occurred; and the sound of blank rounds being fired off behind the buildings at the end of the exercise echoed through the streets.
Fort Irwin is a U.S. army base nearly the size of Rhode Island, located in the Mojave Desert about an hour’s drive northeast of Barstow, California. There you will find the National Training Center, or NTC, at which all U.S. troops, from all services, spend a twenty-one day rotation before they deploy overseas.
As ever, the utter failure of American drug policy is taken by the establishment as evidence that persisting is of even more importance. The policies the United States pursued in Mexico as part of our increased role there coincided with a huge uptick in violence and no reduction in the supply of Mexican drugs? By God, let’s hope that the Mexicans don’t decide to try something completely different! It’s the most irrational status-quo bias you’re likely to find.Conor Friedersdorf
[In 2006] Bush agreed to help [new president Felipe Calderon], and the Merida Initiative, a $1.9 billion aid package for military training and equipment and judicial reform, set the framework for a new level of U.S.-Mexican cooperation. In a little-noticed move, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence took a leading role in the U.S. effort to defeat the cartels, signaling the importance of intelligence in combating organized crime. By then, cartels had begun employing assassination squads, according to Guillermo Valdes, who was CISEN director at the time. CISEN discovered from a captured videotape and a special analytical group it set up that some of the cartels had hired former members of the U.S.-trained Guatemalan special forces, the Kaibiles, to create sociopathic killers who could behead a man, torture a child or immerse a captive in a vat of acid. Anxious to counterattack, the CIA proposed electronically emptying the bank accounts of drug kingpins, but was turned down by the Treasury Department and the White House, which feared unleashing chaos in the banking system.
… At the height of the 2008 banking crisis, Antonio Maria Costa, then head of the United Nations office on drugs and crime, said he had evidence to suggest the proceeds from drugs and crime were “the only liquid investment capital” available to banks on the brink of collapse. “Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade,” he said. “There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.”
Going back to the Post piece, we see the results of the Merida Initiative:
… In deference to their visitors, the U.S. briefers left out the fact that most of the 25 kingpin taken off the streets in the past five years had been removed because of U.S.-supplied information, often including the location of top cartel members in real time, according to people familiar with the meeting. …
Also unremarked upon was the mounting criticism that success against the cartels’ leadership had helped incite more violence than anyone had predicted, more than 60,000 deaths and 25,000 disappearances in the past seven years alone.
Meanwhile, the drug flow into the United States continued unabated. Mexico remains the U.S. market’s largest supplier of heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine and the transshipment point for 95 percent of its cocaine. …
So, in order to avoid “unleashing chaos” in the banking system by freezing the assets of the cartel kingpins, i.e. admitting that some of the nation’s largest banks were insolvent but for laundered drug money, Bush and Calderon pursued a military/paramilitary and assassination policy, continued under Obama, resulting in the deaths of at least 60,000 people and 25,000 disappearances over a 7 year span which did nothing to stem the flow of drugs into the United States.
But at least the banks are OK.
Meanwhile, ending prohibition - the main driver of violence - isn’t even on the table.
(The drug war sounds insane because it is insane.)
For 2014, the President plans a nuclear weapons spending increase over the current level of $7.227 billion. Where’s the money to come from? Taking a page from the Reagan/Thatcher play book, Obama plans to get it from the nuclear non-proliferation budget. According to a report by Jeffery Smith and Douglas Birch in Foreign Policy April 9, the president has proposed a $460 million cut from the nuclear non-proliferation program — so it can boost nuclear weapons building programs by exactly $500 million.
[The] authoritarian, state-and-military-revering mentality pervading Williams’ statement is striking. It isn’t just the imperious decree that ‘even a hint of support’ for Manning ‘will not be tolerated’, though that is certainly creepy. Nor is it the weird announcement that the wrongdoer ‘has been disciplined’. Even worse is the mindless embrace of the baseless claims of US military officials (that Manning ‘placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform’) along with the supremely authoritarian view that any actions barred by the state are, ipso facto, ignoble and wrong. Conduct can be illegal and yet still be noble and commendable: see, for instance, Daniel Ellsberg, or most of the leaders of the civil rights movement in the US. Indeed, acts of civil disobedience and conscience by people who risk their own interests to battle injustices are often the most commendable acts. Equating illegal behavior with ignominious behavior is the defining mentality of an authoritarian - and is particularly notable coming from what was once viewed as a bastion of liberal dissent.
What we see here is how even many of the most liberal precincts in America are now the leading spokespeople for and loyalists to state power as a result of their loyalty to President Obama. Thus do we have the President of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade sounding exactly like the Chairman of the Joints Chief, or Sarah Palin, or gay war-loving neocons, in depicting any meaningful opposition to the National Security State as the supreme sin. I’d be willing to bet large amounts of money that Williams has never condemned the Obama administration’s abuse of Manning in detention or its dangerously radical prosecution of him for “aiding the enemy”. I have no doubt that the people who did all of that would be showered with gratitude by Parade officials if they attended. In so many liberal precincts in the Age of Obama - even now including the SF Gay Pride parade - the federal government, its military, and its federal prosecutors are to be revered and celebrated but not criticized; only those who oppose them are villains.
… [W]hen I wrote several weeks ago about the remarkable shift in public opinion on gay equality, I noted that this development is less significant than it seems because the cause of gay equality poses no real threat to elite factions or to how political and economic power in the US are distributed. If anything, it bolsters those power structures because it completely and harmlessly assimilates a previously excluded group into existing institutions and thus incentivizes them to accommodate those institutions and adopt their mindset. This event illustrates exactly what I meant.
The United States of America has collapsed into a phantasmagoria – an inverted world conjured up by imperial minds to fool the home population of the planet’s only superpower into believing they are under siege by virtually everyone else on Earth. The formula has worked too well, rendering the society so brittle, so anxious and afraid, it resembles a madhouse in a fortress that is trying to turn itself into a prison. … We hear a lot of talk about naming the surviving brother as an ‘enemy combatant,’ but – a combatant for whom? For Allah? You can’t launch airstrikes against God. The Americans have to be careful about trying to tie their prisoner to the Chechen Islamist fighters who have made such a name for themselves around the world, since many of them are allied with the same gunmen the U.S. has financed and armed in Libya and Syria. In the end, there seems to be no enemy for Washington to punish – except American society, itself.
Glen Ford, White Chechens Open New Vistas of Repression in America
The tempo of mass killings and bombings IS going to increase. The generation coming up is much more detached from your society. They are much less likely to believe in it, to think it’s fair, to believe they can have a good life, or a purposeful life in it. They are burdened with debt, they know that one slip up can condemn them to a lousy life, they see the good jobs going, going, going and they understand, in their bones, that the society is a corrupt one. Make no mistake, bankers killed far more people than these boys, and they didn’t go to jail. The people running the plant in Texas which blew up and the bureaucrats who made the decision not to shut it down, killed more people than these kids did, and they did it for money. A society which is fundamentally unjust, and which is seen to be fundamentally unjust, is going to have more and more problems like this. The older generations still sort of believed, or still thought they could make it through. The new generations coming up, will less and less believe the myths, less and less believe that if they just play by the rules, they’ll be taken care of. Less and less believe that if they fail, well, the system is basically fair and they had it coming.
[…] Trouble spots, as perceived by the US, are poked to ensure that situations are kept volatile, from North Korea to Iran to Venezuela, for how else keep the American people on tenterhooks, eager to approve war crimes abroad, surveillance, Espionage-Act prosecutions, defense spending at home, and farther afield, encourage Japan and the Philippines, above all, Israel, to stay on edge, confrontational, fully in alignment with what the US defines as the pattern of engagement? Not only has the Obama-Brennan doctrine of permanent war, embodied in the drone program and paramilitary operations, been put into effect, but so has its companion setting, an endeavor to place the world on a war-footing. Otherwise, all those military bases, stationed troops, modernized nuclear weapons, huge embassies, foreign assistance and diplomatic strategems and pressures would appear groundless and transparently aggressive (which they are).
Militarism is not a healthy sign for a domestic, or for that matter, democratic, social framework. Here it would be helpful to apply the idea of legitimated violence to America itself, with Obama its practitioner par excellence. As other CP writers have noted, the thrust of current policy is directed to class warfare against the poor, as in the recent articles by Hudson and Lindorff—violence through legal means which fosters declining living standards (e.g., the chained-CPI) among seniors, the disabled, the poor generally, simultaneous with favoring extreme wealth, through sophisticated taxation policies, including the lesser rate on capital gains, as well as deregulation, making for exhorbitant banking profits, corporate subsidies and write-offs, lessened safety standards, weakened labor rights, legal provisions protective of vested interests, the business-friendly dimensions of the Obama administration sufficiently extensive to fill the thickest phone directory. Again, legitimated violence, not only because done under the law (how else are the laws written?), but also because filling in the content of the main trends in American capitalism at least since the Civil War—and by violence I emphatically mean the deliberate practice of deprivation against those insufficiently able to resist or fight back. Degradation, false consciousness on the receiving end, invidious distinctions in the national vocabularly to enforce the sense of inferiority, these are all the helpmates of civil violence, spoken of, taken for granted as, the demiurge of normality.
From legitimated violence practiced against ourselves as a nation, it is not a big jump to violence per se, whether Newtown or the Boston Marathon, because of the rotted quality of the air we breathe: self-proclaimed “gun rights” as license for extreme individualism (mirroring the feeling of getting away with all that the traffic will bear, coupled with contempt for the law and the assertion of impunity whenever it conflicts with personal desires) sharing place with top-down authorization of targeted assassination and the myriad evidences of merciless conduct in foreign adventures. This does not explain the acts of murder and violence in the cases named—individual culpability is the keystone of a moral-legal order—but it does help to understand broader social forces which assist in producing twisted minds and in even creating the structural ambience for such mental twisting to occur. What we’ve recently seen, and the countless instances of gun violence in America, would not, I believe, be possible in an equalitarian social order respectful of human dignity and pacific international relations, including the express disavowal of hegemonic intent; the stimulus would be lacking, as would the built-in aggressiveness of a people used to differentiating itself by race, social class, ideological justifications for their actions—presently, light years away from the polity as we know and live it.
Barack Obama has been accused of reneging on his disarmament pledges after it emerged the administration was planning to spend billions on upgrading nuclear bombs stored in Europe to make the weapons more reliable and accurate.
Under the plan, nearly 200 B61 gravity bombs stockpiled in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey would be given new tail fins that would turn them into guided weapons that could be delivered by stealth F35 fighter-bombers.
“This will be a significant upgrade of the US nuclear capability in Europe,” said Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of Nuclear Scientists. “It flies directly in the face of the pledges Obama made in 2010 that he would not deploy new weapons.”
In its Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, the US undertook to do reduce the role and numbers of its nuclear weapons, in part by not developing new nuclear warheads, and pledging it would not “support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities”.
“What will be going back to Europe will be a guided nuclear bomb,” he said. “Especially when you combine it with F35 with stealth characteristics, that expands the targets you can hold at risk from Europe, because by placing the explosion closer to the target you can choose a lower explosive yield. That is very important as there is less radioactive fallout. For many people this is a great concern because it means making nuclear weapons more ‘usable’.” [++]
US defence secretary Chuck Hagel said on Sunday a $10bn arms deal under discussion with Washington’s Arab and Israeli allies sent a “very clear signal” to Tehran the military option remains on the table over its nuclear programme.
“The bottom line is that Iran is a threat, a real threat,” said Hagel, who arrived in Israel on Sunday on his first visit to Israel as defence secretary.
“The Iranians must be prevented from developing that capacity to build a nuclear weapon and deliver it,” he told reporters on his plane.
Because the Iranians are irrational and we, with our arsenal of 5,000+ nuclear weapons, are completely sane.
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel met his Israeli counterpart Moshe Yaalon on Monday to put the finishing touches on a multi-billion dollars arms deal between the two allies, which will see Israel receiving an impressive package of advanced US missiles and aircraft.
“Today we took another significant step in the US-Israel defense relationship,” Hagel said at a joint news conference in Tel Aviv, reiterating Washington’s “ironclad pledge” to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.
“Minister Yaalon and I agreed that the United States will make available to Israel a set of advanced new military capabilities … including anti-radiation missiles and advanced radars for fighter jets, KC135 refueling aircraft, and most significantly the V-22 Osprey, which the United States has not released to any other nation,” Hagel confirmed. [++]
The new federal immigration reform plan calls for surveillance drones to operate 24/7 along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The immigration bill allocates $6.5 billion for border security, including the deployment of helicopters and horse patrols in remote areas along the Mexico border.
A provision in the bill also calls for the U.S. Border Patrol to “operate unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles along the southern border for 24 hours per day and seven days per week.”
“The Border Patrol already uses various types of aerial reconnaissance along the Mexico border. The new bill looks to increase drone use in border states such as Arizona and Texas.
“Arizona economic developers want to bring a federal research and development drone base to the state. Some defense contractors in Phoenix, Tucson and Sierra Vista also make and develop unmanned aerial systems.”