Against the Next War, Allies, Authoritarianism, Bad Ideas, Brotherly Love, Capitalism, Class War, Community, Compassion, Culture, Democracy, Free Market Capitalism, Free Spirit, Freedom, Freedom and Liberty, Friends, Giving, Human Nature, Humanism, Idealism, Ideologies, International Relations, Internet, Liars Lies and Lying, Life, Love, Obligations to Society, Peace, Philos, Political Ideologies, Violence, Wisdom

Against the Next War

(About a 3 minute read)

The internet has made it now
Bound to happen
Tomorrow or the year after.
Bound to happen.

Up to you.

The politicians and the preachers,
The two dogs of the capitalist class,
Will once again want a war,
Just as they always do.

War to them is a gift, you see,
It’s not personal, it’s not their blood.
But war makes some folks rich
And you will never change that,
You will never change that,
Though the dogs will bark it’s not so.

A war of aggression
Against some people somewhere,

Most likely brown,
Most likely poor,
Most likely weak,
Most likely no real threat.

War for the sake of the banks
And for the merchants of death.
War for the sake of the pulpit,
And for the corridors of power.

But not a war for the sake
Of you and of me. We don’t count.
Our side is the one side
That has never counted.

That’s how war goes, it’s always been so
And it’s bound to happen again,
Soon happen again.

This is your world,
How it really is —
The world you think,
The world you were taught,
The gods want you to live in and love
Them more than you love each other.

In your world are great nations:
Nations the greatest in history,
Nations with the power of suns,
A thousands suns,
To do good, make truths come true
For even the poor man, the poor woman,
The poor child. Make truths come true.

But these nations,
Nations great and greatest,
Act only like whores,
Filthy whores,
Fucking folks raw,
Spreading their diseases,
Recruiting new girls,
Ever younger girls
To fuck you, to fuck all of you,
To fuck everyone.

This is your world
Your world without end.

But now someday you see

Someday now for once it will happen
For once it will stop
Stop the day they give a war
And you
You rise up, join hands
By the millions, possibly billions,
Linked together by the net
And by love, and by common sense.

At last,
At last you will rise, singing
“At last my spirit shall have water!
At last my cries shall be heard!
At last my thirst shall be slaked!”

Yes, you will rise up and you will say
In a voice thunderous and magnified
By the whole world joining in,

Say, “Those people are our friends,
We chat with them by day and by night.
We know their hopes, we know their dreams,
We know their troubles, we know their fears.
We know them, we know their names.

“Jane and Matthias. Terese and Sindhuja.
Mark, Parikhitdutta, and Min.

We even marry them now and then —
They shall not this time be murdered.

“You will not touch them,
Our brothers, our friends;
This once the bombs won’t fall.
This once the bombs won’t fall.
You politicians and preachers,
You capitalists and bankers all —
This once the bombs won’t fall.”

Yet you know it will ever be a dream
Just a dream, just a mere dream.
It will ever be a dream
If you, if we, keep on dividing,
Never uniting, never joining,
But instead just staying, just keeping,
To my echo chamber or to yours.

So let’s come together
Let’s come together,
Let’s come together.

So let’s come together
Before the nukes fall,
Before the demons fall.
Before we die in the winter,
And we come together
Never once come together at all.


Please seriously consider spreading this poem — spreading it to your site, to the social media sites — in an effort to make it go viral. We need it viral well before the next war, we need folks mulling over the idea of rebelling against the violence. Spread this poem and then you too write — write about the ideas presented in the poem. For you, for your brothers and for your sisters, for your children after you — stop the wars of aggression!

Please Note: Matthias has responded by dedicating his poem, Pooling Strength, to this cause.

Bruce has reposted the poem on “The Life and Times of Bruce Genencser“.

Kat has responded by posting this article: I Don’t Know Anything About War.

Democracy, Economic Crisis, Economy, International Relations, News and Current Events, Politicians and Scoundrels, Politics, War

Did Bin Laden Win?

In a way, it is interesting that a lot of the initial commentary on Bin Laden’s death focused on the question of whether or not it was proper and seemly to celebrate his death.

I find that troublesome.  Allow me to suggest that a nation which can devote so much of its public discussion to such an issue had best be a nation that has nothing at all in the world to be concerned about.  For focusing on that particular issue is a bit like someone who is being stalked by a murderer focusing on the murderer’s atrocious sense of fashion.

I’m certainly neither an historian nor a political scientist, but it seems to me that it has been a long time since this country had anything approaching a thriving deliberative democracy.  Maybe it’s the fact the mainstream media has been taken over by large corporations that seem much more bent on feeding us entertainment than hard news.  Or maybe it goes deeper than that and reflects the 100 year long assault to change Americans from citizens into consumers that was largely begun by that contemptuous and fearful man,  Edward Bernays.  Most likely, it’s a combination of many factors.

But whatever the causes, I think it can be safely asserted that we Americans do not, by and large, publicly deliberate much in the way of genuinely serious issues.

Having said all of that, there are, of course, some important exceptions.  On May 2nd, Foreign Policy published an article by counter-terrorism expert Daveed Gartenstein-Ross that asks the genuinely pressing question of whether — or to what extent — Bin Laden might have won.

I suspect that is not a question any politician in America willingly wants to publicly raise.  Yet, if our leaders have the genuine interests of the country at heart, they had best be asking that question of their advisers — at least privately.  It might be even better if there were a widespread public debate of the question.

At any rate, Gartenstein-Ross argues that Bin Laden’s strategy — which is likely to outlive him — consists of two pillars.  The first pillar is to trick the US into bankrupting itself:

Indeed, bin Laden has spoken of how he used “guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for ten years, until it went bankrupt.” He has compared the United States to the Soviet Union on numerous occasions — and these comparisons have been explicitly economic. For example, in October 2004 bin Laden said that just as the Arab fighters and Afghan mujahidin had destroyed Russia economically, al Qaeda was now doing the same to the United States, “continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.” Similarly, in a September 2007 video message, bin Laden claimed that “thinkers who study events and happenings” were now predicting the American empire’s collapse. He gloated, “The mistakes of Brezhnev are being repeated by Bush.”

The second pillar of his strategy is broaden and spread the struggle against America to all parts of the Muslim world.  In a sense, that is classic Clausewitz:  He was — and his successors most likely still are — attempting to deprive America of any support or ally in the Muslim world.

The irony is Bin Laden needed — and he got — the cooperation of the United States in achieving his twin goals.  You cannot bankrupt a superpower merely by flying planes into its two tallest buildings.  But you can anticipate that the superpower will respond to such an attack in ways that are severely detrimental to its economic and political interests.

Ezra Klein has made an attempt to calculate the cost of the American response and, while that cost is disputable, it might easily be in the trillions of dollars.  It also seems rather obvious that, for various reasons, American prestige in the Muslim world has significantly declined in the aftermath of 9/11.

So, did Bin Laden win?

I myself largely agree with Klein’s assessment: “He may not have won, but he did succeed, at least partially. But then, we can learn from our mistakes. He can’t.”

What do you think, though?  Did Bin Laden win?  And, if so, to what extent did he win?

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, what can the US and its allies do to combat Bin Laden’s successors?  For, if Gartenstein-Ross is correct, Bin Laden’s successors will continue to employ the same strategy against us that Bin Laden did.

Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Idealism, Ideologies, Intellectual Honesty, International Relations, Liars Lies and Lying, Neocons, Politicians and Scoundrels, Politics, Television, Village Idiots, Violence, War

Those Who Will Not Learn From History Are Doomed To Repeat It

As I understand it, we had no choice but to destroy the Iraqi nation and decimate its people because Saddam hated us for our freedoms. Also, Saddam would have had weapons of mass destruction if only he had had weapons of mass destruction. And last, Saddam would have been in league with Al Qaeda if only he had not feared and hated Al Qaeda as much as he did.

For those three very good reasons, and possibly for other just as good reasons — reasons that are so really really good only a heavy Fox viewer is actually qualified to say just how truly good they are — we understandably invaded Iraq, murdered over 200,000 of its civilians, left 4 million people chronically homeless, and allowed the looting of a nation. I’d say we done some good in the world.

Pride time! That is, it’s plain we Americans done some good. Good? Hell, it was like Normandy all over again! So now it’s time for us to sit on our couches, dig our hands deep into our chips bag, lift up our eyes in bovine thankfulness to God for the Fox News Network, and then allow ourselves to be possessed by the thought that we Americans are, of all the world’s peoples, the one that is truly “exceptional“.

— Overheard in a Bar

International Relations, Neocons, News and Current Events, People, Politicians and Scoundrels, Politics, Quotes, Sean Hannity

Might it be Possible that Sean Hannity is a Buffoon?

“Why isn’t Iraq paying us back with oil and paying every American family and their soldiers that lost loved ones or have injured soldiers. And why didn’t they pay for their own liberation?”

“You know we have every right to go in there and frankly take all their oil and make them pay for the liberation….

Sean Hannity

Hey Sean!  I know you’ll never stumble across this blog — but just in case: How about we negotiate a deal with the Iraqis — They pay us some sum for each and everyone of our military personnel killed while in their country, and then we pay them exactly the same sum for each and everyone of their noncombatant citizens our forces killed while invading and occupying their country.  Would you call that a “Fair and Balanced” deal?

Come on!  Be a sport!  Let’s do it!

Allies, Barack Obama, Democracy, Dick Cheney, Freedom and Liberty, George W. Bush, International Relations, Joe Biden, News and Current Events, Politicians and Scoundrels, Quotes, US - Israel, War

Juan Cole on the Demise of US Civil Liberties

My deepest fear is that US support for Israeli militarism, and the terrorism that support inevitably engenders, will be what finally finishes off the civil liberties enshrined in the American Constitution.

Juan Cole

There are, and always have been, serious threats to US Civil liberties.  But I think Cole is correct in pointing out that today one of the greatest threats is the loss of our liberties in reaction to terrorism.  Our politicians are spineless folk who will try to trade away our liberties for a little security.

Indeed, this is already been happening — we have already lost some of our liberties in reaction to terrorism due to the unwise policies of the Bush and Obama Administrations.   And, unfortunately, every sign points to a further loss of liberties with the next successful terrorist attack.  Moreover,  such an attack seems sooner or later inevitable so long as we continue to support Israeli militarism.

Ultimately though, I think it is — not what any terrorists can do to us — but instead our own willingness to trade our liberties for the illusion of a little security that will do us in.  Some say America has become a nation of wusses.  I don’t yet know if that is really true.  But I do suspect we will someday soon enough see if it is true.

Elections, Ideologies, International Relations, John McCain, Liars Lies and Lying, News and Current Events, People, Politics, Sarah Palin, War

Sarah Palin Flunks Foreign Policy 101 in ABC Interview

Charlie Gibson of ABC News is widely perceived as friendly and approachable, but in an interview with Sarah Palin that aired on ABC yesterday, Charlie annihilated Palin.

Or, rather, Palin did it to herself.  She tripped all over herself; she fell flat on her face; and she could not raise herself back up.  And all because Charlie did no more than ask her some questions.

I have never before in my 51 years seen anything like it.  This is the woman proudly billed by the McCain Campaign as “Sarah Barracuda”, Slayer of Moose, a “pit bull with lipstick”.  Yet, any high school debate captain in the country could take her down.

When you watch the above video, you will see Sarah Palin deconstruct under questioning.  No one is even debating her.  Yet she is incapable of handling the interview.  For instance, check out her bizarre response when Charlie asks, “Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine? (7:52)”  It’s immediately clear she’s in trouble.  She’s never heard of it.

OK.  So, what would you do in her shoes?  What would any honest person do?

Instead of simply asking what the Bush Doctrine is, Sarah Palin actually chooses to BS Charlie!  Here’s a transcript:

Gibson: “Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?”

Palin: “In what respect, Charlie?”

Gibson: (taken back) “The Bush… What…  What do you interpret it to be?”

Palin: “His woldview.”

Gibson: “No, the Bush Doctrine enunciated September 2002 before the Iraq War.”

Palin: “I believe what President Bush has tried to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hellbent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way though.  There have been mistakes made, and with new leadership — and that’s the beauty of American elections of course and democracy — is [sic] with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.”

Gibson: “The Bush Doctrine as I understand it is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense. That we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us.”

Here’s a person who wants to be vice-president of earth’s most powerful nation and she is BSing just like a foolish middle-schooler caught unprepared by her teacher.

In my opinion, Sarah Palin demonstrated in that extraordinary exchange both a lack of decent respect for herself, and a lack of any instinct for honesty.  But this next exchange is far worse: Here, she demonstrates reckless, blundering stupidity (5:22):

Gibson: “[Do you] favor putting Georgia and [the] Ukraine into NATO?”

Palin: “Ukraine definitely, yes.  Yes, and Georgia.”

Gibson: “Under the NATO treaty wouldn’t we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?”

Palin: (nodding head) “Perhaps so.  I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally is if another country is attacked you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.”

That’s a hell of a trade-off, don’t you think?  She’s willing to risk thermonuclear war with Russia in exchange for bringing the Ukraine and Georgia into NATO.  The worst part of it is, Palin has no excuse for her remark.  She can’t say she misunderstood the questions.  Her answers show she understood them.  What she miserably failed to do was grasp that war with Russia would risk nuclear Armageddon.

If Palin is incapable of handling an interview with friendly Charlie Gibson, is there really any hope she can negotiate a favorable treaty with Vladimir Putin?  What kind of respect will a middle-school BS artist command at a G-8 Summit?  Sarah Palin is downright edible.  Any world leader will pick their teeth with her bones.

Of course, the problem is, those who are going to vote for her will vote for her anyway.  We do not live in an age when reason and evidence trump fantasy.  And the popular fantasy is Sarah Palin is a pit bull, a barracuda, a tough, self-reliant fighter.  That’s what her supporters want her to be, and I am betting her supporters will not let go of the notion she is everything they want and need.


Charlie Gibson interviews Sarah Palin 9-11-08 Part I

Charlie Gibson interviews Sarah Palin 9-11-08 Part II

Charlie Gibson interviews Sarah Palin 9-11-08 Part III

Charlie Gibson interviews Sarah Palin 9-11-08 Part IV

Charlie Gibson interviews Sarah Palin 9-11-08 Part V

Ideologies, International Relations, Liars Lies and Lying, Neocons, Politics, War

Those Funny Neocons: How Can You Not Love Them?

“We should…be talking about using all our political, moral and military genius to support a vast democratic revolution to liberate all the peoples of the Middle East from tyranny.”

“Despite all the talk about growing anti-Americanism in the Middle East, we inspire their people.”

“If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support.”

“Of the four terrorist tyrannies, Iran seems the easiest to liberate.”

— Michael A. Ledeen

Ledeen is a “neocon scholar”, which means he’s as lovably dumb as they come, but still employable by a neocon think-tank, The American Enterprise Institute.

The above quotes are taken from an article written by him and published in the Wall Street Journal, September 4, 2002, during the lead up to the Iraq war. Readers will no doubt note that some of his scholarly and insightful predictions appear not to have come true.

Oh well. His “impressive” track record has fortunately left Michael undaunted and unrepentant — and it certainly hasn’t quashed his wonderful sense of humor, for just last Tuesday Michael enthusiastically opined in the National Review Online that it was time for America to attack both Iran and Syria.

Those funny neocons. How can you not love them?

International Relations

Great Moments in Diplomacy

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez shares with his friend Fidel Castro a fondness for inflicting marathon speeches on his audiences. But when the Venezuelan was motormouthing his audience at a recent summit of Latin leaders, “Juan Carlos, the Spanish monarch, could take no more. He flashed a withering look at the president and uttered five words likely to go down in diplomatic history: ‘Why don’t you shut up?'”

The stunning breach of protocol, did shut up the socialist revolutionary. For about two seconds. Then he regained his voice.

Chávez’s detractors at home and abroad have gone wild over the event, playing it and replaying it, sending each other high-fives, and in general seeing it as a long overdue comeuppance.

It’s not entirely clear, however, whether the King was most put off by Chávez’s long windedness or by Chávez’s repeated references to a former Spanish Prime Minister as a “fascist”.

I wonder if the Spanish would be willing to lease out their king to attend a Cheney speech?


‘Shut up!’ Spanish King Tells Chávez

Culture, International Relations, Society

The Irony of Our Times?

I think it’s ironic that at the very moment communication and transportation technologies are creating a “global world”, specialization is fragmenting each of our societies into expert little niches that often do not understand one another.

It’s no longer much of an exaggeration these days to say the only people who understand the law are lawyers, the only people who understand medicine are doctors, the only people who understand information technologies are IT specialists, the only people who understand plumbing are plumbers, and the only people who understand carpentry are carpenters.

Yet, all of those people are increasingly using each other’s products and services. I’m typing this on a computer whose components are made in several countries to be read by people from several countries — and yet much of what I know about the world is so highly specialized that I avoid discussing it except in general terms. Likewise, I can only follow general discussions of what my friends for whom I’m typing this know about the world.

It’s not just that we are becoming one world: We are also at the same time dividing into many worlds. I think that is one of the reasons the internet is so important to the future of humanity. It seems to have the power to bring together people from diverse backgrounds, from diverse skill and information niches, into unified online communities. Without that, the world could unite economically — and even politically — but perhaps not in a very humane way.

International Relations, Politics

Carter Blasts Bush, Scorches Cheney

Yesterday, former President Jimmy Carter went on record stating the United States tortures prisoners in violation of international law.

But first some background: The New York Times disclosed on October 4th the existence of secret Justice Department memorandums supporting the use of “harsh interrogation techniques”, including “head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.”

In response to The Times article, President Bush defended the techniques last Friday and said, “This government does not torture people.”

Yesterday, Carter went on CNN and all but called the President a liar.

The CNN interview was conducted by Wolf Blitzer, no friend of Carter’s:

BLITZER: President Bush said as recently as this week the United States does not torture detainees.

CARTER: That’s not an accurate statement. If you use the international norms of torture as has always been honored, certainly in the last 60 years, since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated. But you can make your own definition of human rights and say, we don’t violate them. And we can — you can make your own definition of torture and say we don’t violate it.

BLITZER: But by your definition, you believe the United States, under this administration, has used torture.

CARTER: I don’t think it, I know it, certainly.

BLITZER: So is the president lying?

CARTER: The president is self-defining what we have done and authorized in the torture of prisoners, yes.

I suppose this means presidents no longer lie — they merely “self-define”. Yet, whatever one might think of his euphemisms, Carter pretty much stated what the world knows — the US is torturing prisoners and the Administration is bullshitting. Carter, it seems, is one politician who is being honest with us — and he’s likely to get crucified for it.

After the CNN interview, Carter went on BBC World News America. This time his target was Dick Cheney:

He’s a militant who avoided any service of his own in the military and he has been most forceful in the last 10 years or more in fulfilling some of his more ancient commitments that the United States has a right to inject its power through military means in other parts of the world.

You know he’s been a disaster for our country. I think he’s been overly persuasive on President George Bush and quite often he’s prevailed.

At the rate he’s going, I’m definitely going to miss Carter when he passes on. The man was a failed president, but I think he has since redeemed himself through his moral activism as an ex-president. Basically, he’s turned himself into a statesman. And whether one agrees with him or not, one most likely does not get the impression that Jimmy Carter is hiding what he genuinely thinks or feels.

A couple more quotes from Carter — this time on the GOP candidates for president:

They all seem to be outdoing each other in who wants to go to war first with Iran, who wants to keep Guantanamo open longer and expand its capacity — things of that kind.

They’re competing with each other to appeal to the ultra-right-wing, war-mongering element in our country, which I think is the minority of our total population.

Yesterday, Jimmy Carter spoke more truth to the world in two interviews than the Bush Administration speaks in twenty.


Carter Says US Tortures Prisoners

Jimmy Carter Unplugged: Former President Takes Aim at Bush and Cheney

Jimmy Carter Calls Cheney a “Disaster” for US

Jimmy Carter: US Tortures Prisoners

International Relations, Politics

War with Iran: The Plot Thickens

The commander of U.S. military forces in the Middle East, Admiral William Fallon, was recently interviewed by Al-Jazeera television, which released a partial transcript of the interview Sunday.

According to Al-Jazeera’s transcript, the Admiral made several statements about Iran, including the following:

This constant drum beat of conflict is what strikes me, which is not helpful and not useful.

I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for.

We should find ways through which we can bring countries to work together for the benefit of all.

It is not a good idea to be in a state of war. We ought to try and to do our utmost to create different conditions.

His remarks put him at odds with Vice President Cheney’s camp, which is reportedly pushing hard for bombing Iran.

On the very same day that Al-Jazeera released its partial transcript of Admiral Fallon’s remarks, Newsweek Magazine published a report that Vice President Cheney is considering an underhanded and devious method to plunge the US into war with Iran:

Newsweek Magazine reported Sunday that Vice President Richard Cheney may have considered a plan for Israeli missile strikes against an Iranian nuclear site in an effort to draw a military response from Iran, which could in turn spark a U.S. offensive against targets in the Islamic Republic.

Citing two unnamed sources the magazine called knowledgeable, the magazine quoted David Wurmser, until last month Cheney’s Middle East advisor, as having told a small group of people that “Cheney had been mulling the idea of pushing for limited Israeli missile strikes against the Iranian nuclear site at Natanz – and perhaps other sites – in order to provoke Tehran into lashing out.”

According to the report, “The Iranian reaction would then give Washington a pretext to launch strikes against military and nuclear targets in Iran.”

Steve Clemons, the Washington blogger who first broke the story of Cheney’s deviousness, has argued for some time that, “[A war with Iran] would most likely be triggered by one or both of the two people who would see their political fortunes rise through a new conflict — Cheney and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

Meanwhile, the UK Sunday Times revealed that a secret US Air Force team, called “Project Checkmate”, has been set up to perfect the plans to attack Iran:

The United States Air Force has set up a highly confidential strategic planning group tasked with “fighting the next war” as tensions rise with Iran.

Project Checkmate, a successor to the group that planned the 1991 Gulf War’s air campaign, was quietly reestablished at the Pentagon in June.

It reports directly to General Michael Moseley, the US Air Force chief, and consists of 20-30 top air force officers and defence and cyberspace experts with ready access to the White House, the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

What makes Project Checkmate especially interesting is that it bypasses Admiral Fallon’s command:

Detailed contingency planning for a possible attack on Iran has been carried out for more than two years by Centcom (US central command), according to defence sources.

Yet, by by-passing his command (which is Centcom), Project Checkmate can hope to do an end run around the military opposition to war with Iran. Not surprisingly, according to some sources, Dick Cheney is the man in the Administration most responsible for setting up Project Checkmate.

UPDATE: Perhaps a little background on Admiral Fallon. There is an unconfirmed report that around the time of his confirmation as Centcom chief, Admiral Fallon privately expressed his intentions regarding war with Iran:

A source who met privately with Fallon around the time of his confirmation hearing and who insists on anonymity quoted Fallon as saying that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch”.

Asked how he could be sure, the source says, Fallon replied, “You know what choices I have. I’m a professional.” Fallon said that he was not alone, according to the source, adding, “There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box.”

I don’t know how likely the story is to be true, but it is at least consistent with Admiral Fallon’s recent remarks on Al-Jazeera television.

UPDATE II: Juan Cole is arguing in Salon that, “Demonizing the Iranian president and making his visit to New York seem controversial is all part of the neoconservative push for yet another war.”

UPDATE III: Think Progress is reporting that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s influence in the Administration is on the wane while Vice President Cheney’s influence is again on the rise.


Military Chief: “No War” with Iran

No Iran War Says US Admiral

Report: Cheney may have mulled pushing Israel to hit Iran

Will Bush Bomb Iran?

Secret US Air Force Team to Perfect Plan to Attack Iran

Commander’s Veto Sank Threatening Gulf Build Up

Turning Ahmadinejad into public enemy No. 1

Related Articles:

Will Bush Bomb Iran

US Administration Gives Fox News Its Marching Orders

Prediction: Administration Will Attack Iran