Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Diplomat From Hell: Samantha Power and The Quest For Eternal War

 "Why don't I quit my job at Harvard and come and intern in your office and answer the phones or do whatever you want?"

-----Samantha Power to Senator Barack Obama, 2005

Before Samantha Power is buried in shrill hysteria by the fantasy-obsessed GOP, it might be a good idea to recognize that she is a poor choice to be U.N. Ambassador not because she will aid Washington's enemies with her preoccupation with "human rights," but because she will continue anti-human rights policies that earn us enemies we needn't ever have had in the first place.  Ho hum.  What else is new?

Power, a self-styled "genocide chick," wrote the shelf-busting tome, "A Problem From Hell:  America and the Age of Genocide," which places the problem of genocide squarely on the shoulders of others, a neat trick in a world regularly subjected to invasions and/or massacres by Washington and its client states, with quite a few of them meriting consideration as genocides under current definitions of that term.  But you don't get to work on "human rights" for the President of the United States by stating the embarrassingly obvious fact that the U.S. opposing genocide is like Coca Cola opposing sugar.

A good place to bring Power's thought into focus is by contrasting it with that of a genuine human rights advocate.  Here's how she characterizes U.S. dissident intellectual Noam Chomsky's work (which has its flaws, but not those claimed by Power):

 "For Chomsky, the world is divided into oppressor and oppressed. America, the prime oppressor, can do no right, while the sins of those categorized as oppressed receive scant mention. Because he deems American foreign policy inherently violent and expansionist, he is unconcerned with the motives behind particular policies, or the ethics of particular individuals in government. And since he considers the United States the leading terrorist state, little distinguishes American air strikes in Serbia undertaken at night with high-precision weaponry from World Trade Center attacks timed to maximize the number of office workers who have just sat down with their morning coffee."

Here we see the usual fanciful invention characteristic of liberal intellectuals, who are actually more dishonest than their reactionary jingoist counterparts in the GOP, who freely lie to achieve their goals, but far less often delude themselves as to what they are up to.  In any event, Chomsky has never taken the dogmatic position that "America can do no right;" in fact quite the contrary, since Chomsky as recently as the Libya disaster cautioned anti-interventionists not to adopt a knee jerk opposition to the establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya, on what he regards as the mistaken assumption that an imperial state can do no right.  Admittedly, Power wrote her critique of Chomsky before the Libya intervention, but Chomsky has evidenced this capacity for ideological nuance throughout his intellectual career.  More importantly, Chomsky regularly pushes for a citizen-controlled U.S. government, one that would be far more likely than the current government to "do right," because the people would be motivated to avoid the hideous blowback that inevitably accompanies U.S. empire around the world.  Establishment elites, on the other hand, are only too happy to incorporate such catastrophes into their plans for universal and permanent domination of the world and outer space.  Power evidences no tendency to challenge this insanity.

As to Chomsky's views on U.S. empire, the words he uses most often to critique it are not "violent" and "expansionist," but "greed," "domination," and "deceit."  However, Power is right that Chomsky is relatively uninterested in indicting individuals, since the structure of power guarantees that greed, domination, and deceit will be the primary values of those individuals who have any chance of holding power.  This stance is perfectly reasonable, but it leaves no role for people like Power to engage in the ideological hair-splitting that allows her to land a comfortable job assisting war crimes for a Democratic administration, while the Rumsfelds and Cheneys of the world peddle a rival brand of murderous nonsense for the GOP. (Incidentally, what are the chances that Obama's much ballyhooed "cabinet of rivals" would ever have entertained offering an appointment to a genuine human rights advocate like Chomsky?  Zero.  Jobs are reserved for the ideologically subservient, and Samantha Power excels at placing herself among them.) 

Anyway, surely most pathetic is Power's attempt to justify Washington's 78 days of air strikes against Serbia in 1999, undertaken to destroy an entire country, at the same time as she condemns the retaliatory violence of 911, which Osama bin Laden considered justified on the basis of 80 years of the West's subjugation of Arab and Muslim peoples, with a death toll far beyond that of New York, Pennsylvania and Washington on 911.  Of course, Power juxtaposes the "precision" bombing of Serbia with the indiscriminate killing of the 911 attacks in order to justify the former, but mass killing is mass killing, and destroying a country in order to achieve foreign control of it is considerably worse than mass killing out of revenge.  Did Serbia subjugate the United States for 80 years?  Gross hypocrisy would be too polite a phrase with which to characterize Power's "principled" rationalizations.

Power made her reputation analyzing genocide, carefully skirting the cases where an honest depiction would have made it impossible for her to maintain her career as a human rights professor at Harvard.  In her book she makes scant or no mention of the U.S. assisted genocide against the Mayan Indians of Guatemala, the wiping out of hundreds of thousands of "communists" by the Indonesian army and its subsequent occupation and eradication of one-third of the population of East Timor (both with U.S. backing), the U.S. sanctions and wars against Iraq from 1991 to the present that killed over a million people and exiled millions more. Vietnam and Palestine also fail to qualify as genocide in her eyes, though U.S. war planners recognized that they were essentially fighting the Vietnamese birth rate, and Israeli leaders wiped Palestine off the map in 1948, and continue to criminalize manifestations of Palestinian nationalism to this day, a hallmark of genocidal policy.  In short, like all members of what economist Edward Herman calls "the cruise missile left," Power has remarkably selective vision.  (To be fair, Power did compare Israeli policy to the Rwanda genocide in a 2002 talk, but she stopped short of calling it genocide, and has since denounced her own comments on that occasion, calling them "weird.")

For Power, the sharpest criticism she can muster of U.S. policy is that it fails to stop the massacres carried out by others, not that it constantly fosters massacres of its own, both directly and indirectly, and on a scale no other nation or "terrorist" group can even come close to rivaling.   Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman helpfully analyzed the real U.S. attitude toward mass killing in their two-volume Political Economy of Human Rights, published over three decades ago, and concluded that bloodbaths fell into three broad categories for U.S. elite planners: (1) constructive - i.e., the bloodbaths were beneficial because they furthered the achievement of U.S. imperial goals (2) nefarious - the bloodbaths were worthy of rhetorical condemnation because they were carried out by official U.S. enemies (principally the former USSR and its allies at the time Herman and Chomsky were writing their analysis) (3) mythical - ideological inventions that offered retrospective justification for U.S. imperial interventions, as with the imaginary Communist bloodbath that allegedly followed U.S. withdrawal from Indochina.  A more recent case is that of the imaginary genocide of which Slobodan Milosevic was allegedly guilty.  Power is firmly in the camp of those fostering this kind of delusion.

Power advocates for what she calls "tough, principled, and engaged diplomacy."  A more accurate set of adjectives would be "belligerent, hypocritical, and domineering."  The thrust of her work is to make perpetual war possible by designating genocide - real or merely ideologically constructed - the supreme international crime, instead of war itself.  (Under current international law war itself is the "supreme international crime.")  That way the U.S. can perpetually make war for the noblest of purposes without regard for anachronisms like national sovereignty.  Is it any wonder Democrats love her?

Power's establishment critics never take account of any of this, preferring to divert attention to ideological sins.  For example, Power called for the U.S. to enhance its international credibility by apologizing for its past "failures."  But failures are not the point.  The U.S. is guilty not of failures but of crimes, and the only point of transmuting them into mistakes and diverting attention to the past is so that Washington can go on committing atrocities in the present.  This is all Power's human rights crusade amounts to.

Power sees foreign policy as a "tool box" that includes "international" sanctions (for her "international" = U.S. + Israel), travel bans, and asset freezes, as well as military destruction.  So should the international community impose such penalties on U.S. leaders for their constant crimes against humanity?  It's no surprise that Power doesn't even raise the question.

Every time an Iranian plane crashes, killing everyone on board, let's think of the lack of spare parts in Iran as a result of the U.S. sanctions against that country.  Or of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declaring on national TV that the killing of half a million Iraqi children with U.S. sanctions was "worth it" to Washington, because of the political goals achieved.

"Tool box"?  Maybe Power's should include an instrument to remove the bone between her ears that renders her incapable of understanding the phrase, "U.S. hands off other countries."

For someone endlessly pursuing "the good war," these words are simply impenetrable.

Postscript:  At her Senate Confirmation hearings on July 17, Power vowed to stand up against "repressive regimes," which she said meant "countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela."



"Hegemony or Survival:  the Everything Explainer," Samantha Power, New York Times, February 4, 2004

"A crusader for human rights," The Week, July 5-12, 2013

"The Good Intentions That Pave the Road to War," Diana Johnstone, Counterpunch, February 1-3, 2013

"Samantha Power and the Weaponization of Human Rights," Chase Madar, Counterpunch, June 6, 2013

"Samantha Powers Five Worst Statements," Washington Free Beacon," June 5, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Shocking Press Conference ( oooooh! )

After nearly 100,000 deaths alleged in Syria, Obama has put his foot down over 100 killed by chemical weapons…

”We…uh…understand the shooting, bombing, stabbing and…uh…beheadings and hearts cut out and  eaten such…but…uh…the use of chemicals goes against all that Americans stand for ”

When asked if charges that he was a wimp a wuss and a sissy had anything to do with his actions the president said

” Uh…I’ve heard charges made but…uh…my masculinity is not the question here…my leadership of all that America stands for is the…uh…question…or answer, as it may be.”

But did ex-president Clinton demanding that you do something, like establish a no-fly zone on the Lebanese border with Syria have anything to do with your decision?

“My decision had nothing to do with ex-president Clinton’s, or more honestly Mrs. Clinton’s need to establish a closed fly zone in the area of the border of her husbands’ crotch”

(Chorus of “ooooohs” from assembled press stenos)

Should that remark be interpreted as a vote against Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy in 2016?

“ The ticket of Manning and Snowden may be a greater problem for her candidacy…”

( chorus of more “oooooooohhhhs” from press )

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Boundless Patriotism : Manning and Snowden in 2016?


While media stenographers echo the regime’s charges against whistleblowers who represent democracy far more than the government and its loyal servants, Americans have an opportunity to respond to real patriotism with support for its foremost practitioners. No elected official – so far – has come forward to stand up for the rights of the imprisoned Bradley Manning and the hunted Edward Snowden. It may be too much to expect any of our corporate owned or rented elected “representatives” to stand for anything but great wealth, the military and Israel, but Americans who’ve rallied to Manning’s support need to increase their efforts to include Edward Snowden before the cyber-police take further control of our minds on the road to totally destroying any notions of free speech and privacy.

Suppressing dissent has always been a part of the American creed but kept to minorities, reassuring most people that they indeed were free to speak, especially if they had nothing to say that threatened ruling power. From the Alien and Sedition acts passed shortly after the nation’s founding to the Palmer Raids of the early twentieth century, punishment of those who threatened systemic stability by calling attention to its shaky foundation was the order of the day. A mad rush to collect data on Americans became stronger during the Cold War that saw suspected communists, socialists and others who dared challenge minority rule placed under police state control. During the 1960s when the anti-war and pro-civil rights movements led more citizens to question and often confront authority, the suppression of dissent grew more violent but again seemed to only threaten minorities, leaving the great majority feeling safe as long as it remained uncritical, obedient or fervently supportive of any denial of democratic freedom to evil “others”. In the name of democracy and freedom, of course.

But after the 911 attacks on New York and Washington, whatever slight caution may have existed vanished as realistic fear of terrorism replaced fictional fear of communism. It was frightening enough to cause another rush of government intrusion into the lives of citizens, allegedly to save them from further terror attacks. While this argument still works for misinformed innocents, true believers and cynics who fully accept mass murder and deceit as necessary functions of the American marketplace, it is losing its strength among a growing minority. This group responds to the information offered by these brave Americans who “blow the whistle” on the treachery of minority state power and face severe punishment for daring to speak out.

Manning and Snowden voluntarily acted as members of a budding democratic state, in contrast to the bought and paid for media wimps and political pimps who express outrage at these courageous men who perform genuine public service and thereby threaten corporate government and its subservient employees faithful to private rule.

Manning performed heroically as a member of the armed forces and continues to pay a hellish price for his bravery, while Snowden, also acting on his conscience and still hopefully free, was operating in the marketplace for private profiteers who have latched onto the multi-billion dollar business of collecting information on Americans and using it the way every thing in this economy is used to benefit some at the expense of all. 

Trillions of our tax dollars have gone to a military industrial complex we were warned about long ago and they have created a permanent at-war state with military bases all over the world. Now, during capitalism’s return to pre-social democratic pretensions that have religious market forces back in control and the public sector under total assault, cybernetic domination has become more profitable with hustlers getting taxpayer money under the guise of protecting them from outside attack by destroying inside freedoms and making a helluva lot of money in the process.

These military and cybernetic profiteers represent a greater threat to the nation than any terrorists who would disappear if we brought our military home and ended our support of regimes hated by their people who then loath us even more for doing so.

A primitive public sector that bailed out the economy for a generation has come under assault in a return to pre-Great Depression capitalism, with uncontrolled market forces that impoverish the many to enrich the few. Billionaires and millionaires are doing better than ever and their servant professional class is just fine, for the moment. But the majority of working people dubbed a middle class during the generation of credit buying are slipping into more dangerous conditions. And those already at the bottom are facing survival problems more deadly than at any time since the last depression. In this context, market profiteers are feasting on public money as corporate capital’s government fires public workers and hires private firms to do for only some of us what those public workers once did for almost all of us.

Schools, libraries and post offices are closed and programs for the poor and elderly are slashed or completely ended, while the stock market booms and luxury goods sell at historic rates. Millions of pets in America live at a higher material standard than hundreds of thousands of human beings and the inequality gap between animals and people is growing as fast as that between the 1% and the rest of us. In this madhouse of growing military expenditures and increased warfare, the threat to Americans from terrorism also rises as we create more people who hate us. Whistle blowers who try to alert the public to a reality that hardly exists on the propaganda outlets of corporate media are seen as more dangerous than all past “subversives”, and it may be that authority’s fears are finally getting something right:

 The examples set and the information released by Manning and Snowden is most dangerous to minority power since it is being shared, discussed and given thought by far more than were ever aware of past injustices to minorities while a majority either slept or contentedly enjoyed the trickle down profits for their service.

Now, hundreds of millions the world over understand that humanity faces a problem that is global, and here in the headquarters of empire awareness of the role we play in that problem is growing, thanks in part to communications not yet completely in control of the 1%. That control is being sought, everyday, and courageous patriots like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden who risk their freedom in alerting us are making it possible for people to get a greater sense of this reality and do something about it before the situation gets beyond our control.

While the corporadoes are already doing financial planning for the employees they will run in the next election, social change advocates should be realistic enough not to think it’s possible, but it’s symbolically probable that a campaign for “Manning and Snowden in 2016” might be a way to garner support for these two American heroes. And realistic or not, you know they represent infinitely more integrity, bravery and dedication to the American people than whatever toadies the corporate parties will present.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Utopia Approaches as "Age of Reason" Matures

by Michael K. Smith
Legalienation News Bureau

Many European cities that were once a save haven for Jews are inexplicably becoming hotbeds of anti-Semitism.  A stream of refugees from countries systematically bombed by Israel are increasingly attacking and cursing Jews for no reason at all.  "I was in synagogue minding my own business while making a tax-deductible contribution to Israel when a Syrian refugee started screaming epithets at me," said Yaakov Shapira of Malmo Sweden.  "It's getting so a man can't practice his own religion in peace anymore."

More information surfaced this week that the U.S. government is reading American e-mails, monitoring phone calls, cataloging text messages, observing website interactions, and attacking political groups with which it disagrees.  Former White House senior adviser Karl Rove enviously applauded the revival of the Nixon Administration's "enemies list," and the GW Bush Administration's "Total Information Awareness" - with no liberal backlash.   White House spokesman Dorothy Watson angrily rejected his support, saying, "This is different.  We're Democrats."  

Inspired by Angelina Jolie's brave decision to undergo double mastectomy to avoid a virtually certain breast cancer, a bi-partisan group of Obama administration officials and Congressional Republicans are flying to Saudi Arabia, where they are scheduled to be beheaded.  "We learned that we have a 103% chance of thinking up political idiocy due to funding tendencies beyond our control, so we decided to do the responsible thing," said Secretary of State John Kerry.  Al Qaeda immediately called off all terrorist campaigns around the world in favor of selling tickets to the event, which are going for $5 million "a head," or $10 million if Hillary Clinton can be included in the group.

More attacks against NATO soldiers returned from Afghanistan occurred in both London and New York this week.  Obama administration officials expressed concern that jihadi groups are apparently unwilling to respect the established contours of the "War on Terror."  Said President Obama at week's end:  "The entire Muslim world is our battlefield, but U.S. and British cities are off limits.  I am deeply offended that enemies we are determined to kill to the last man, woman, and child won't understand that."

Chinese hackers who stole the designs for many of Washington's most sensitive advanced weapons systems have been placed on death row for destroying the Chinese economy.  Beijing announced that designs for the F-35 Joint Inter-Galactic Nuclear Strike Force - which turned out to cost $9914 trillion to implement - have crowded out state investment in education, transportation, and medical care for the next fourteen thousand years.  However, the government remains confident that riots in Chinese cities in response to the announcement will peter out shortly before then.  Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman George Haroldson disclosed that the incompetents responsible for the cyber-breach have been decorated with medals.

Commencement speakers urging university graduates to "do what you love" were stoned to death across the U.S. this week, as the nation's latest crop of credentialed waitresses and bartenders celebrated their achievement - being collectively $1 trillion in debt.  Tony Simpson, graduating senior at the University of Illinois, said that the unexpected attacks were "really enjoyable," but conceded that they were probably "not what the speakers had in mind."  One unusual note in the story is that a considerable number of grandparents in attendance joined in the attacks, after it was announced that tens of billions of dollars in college debt is owed by "people in their 80s."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has urged Japan's seniors to "hurry up and die" to ease Tokyo's budget woes, is calling for a revived "kamikaze" campaign to be led by Japanese elderly against Pyongyang and Beijing.  With North Korea improving its ballistic missile capabilities and China threatening Japan's outlying islands, it's time Tokyo considered solving its military and financial problems "at one stroke," the prime minister said. Abe later apologized to the elderly for using the word "stroke."

Friday, June 7, 2013

Latest Bulletins

President Cancels Foreign Drone Program:
Promises To Only Kill Americans from Now On

Gay New York Police Charged With Stop and Kiss Policy:
Macho New York Men Claim Hate Crime

Israel Demands U.S. Nuke Syria:
Obama Sends NRA to Invade, Says We Shouldn’t Nuke Unless NGOs Say So

Israel Accuses Obama of Anti-Semitism For Refusing to Nuke Syria:
Unanimous Congress Votes To Impeach

Thousand of NSA Agents Commit Suicide after having to read Hundreds of Thousands of Inane Tweets

New Nose Picking App( I-Pic ) Hits Market:
Frees Both Hands for Quicker Tweeting of Inane Messages

Thousands More NSA Agents Kill Themselves at Prospect of Even More Inane Tweets

Market Booms At New Sales of Apps and New Hires at NSA

Assad Accused of Genocide for Killing His Own People

Lincoln Accused of Posthumous Genocide for Same Crime

Media Charged With Language Molestation by Legalienate for Overuse of word “Genocide” to cover Any and All Deaths

Israel Sues Legalienate for Copyright Violation
Legalienate Global, National and Local Staff say “ We Are Bradley Manning”

Stay tuned for more Bulletins