Saturday, August 27, 2011



Pepe Sojourner always goes the road less traveled.
Don’t accept statements at face value by anyone, not even (or especially not) the Government.
Go see for yourself, then write what you see to those back home.

The shrimp whose back gets broken in a fight between whales

Truth is elusive, but it’s good thing we have math.
Illusions die hard, especially when shattered by cruise missiles.
“America is as much Jewish as Vatican is Catholic.”

When the French conquered Syria, they used the standard technique of colonialists, embracing and elevating the Alawite minority into positions of cooperation with the French occupation, as they had used Jews in Morocco and Algeria, or as England had used a variety of minorities in India. This accelerated tensions between them and the Sunni majority, and set the stage for the French-trained Syrian army to be filled with Alawites in leadership positions who would support the dictatorship that consolidated power under the regime of Bashar's father Hafaz al-Assad.

Edward L. Bernays, "The Engineering of Consent", 1947

The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest.
he coined the term "Public Relations" instead of negative implication used by the Nazi’s ‘propaganda’.
The public's democratic judgment was "not to be relied upon" and he feared that "they [the American public] could very easily vote for the wrong man or want the wrong thing, so that they had to be guided from above". This "guidance" was interpreted by Anne, his daughter, to mean that her father believed in a sort of "enlightened despotism" ideology. This thinking was heavily shared and influenced by Walter Lippmann, one of the most prominent American political columnists at the time.
"If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits." He called this scientific technique of opinion-molding the 'engineering of consent'
Bernays was the inventor of Press Release. One of the most famous campaigns of Bernays was the women's cigarette campaign in 1920s. It was Bernays who helped industry overcome one of the biggest social taboos of the time: women smoking in public (Stuart Ewen, Hunter College). Bernays staged the 1929 Easter Day Parade, showing debutantes holding cigarettes. Bernays created this event as news, which, of course, it wasn’t. Bernays convinced industries that the news, not advertising, was the best medium to carry their message to an unsuspecting public.
One of Bernays' favorite techniques for manipulating public opinion was the indirect use of "third party authorities" to plead his clients' causes. "If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway", he said. In order to promote sales of bacon, for example, he conducted a survey of physicians and reported their recommendation that people eat heavy breakfasts. He sent the results of the survey to 5,000 physicians, along with publicity touting bacon and eggs as a heavy breakfast.
United Fruit Company. Guatemala, Banana Republic, Cigarette and Women’s freedom, The Century of the Self,
“We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. Man's desires must overshadow his needs." (Paul Mazer, a Wall Street banker working for Lehman Brothers in the 1930s)
Shut up and do as you’re told. We’re America, and we can invade anyone we want to for any reason we want. We’re good, and we go to war because we’re good. So stop whining and do what we want.
Devil is always in the details... And Wall Street lobbyists always have such details tucked away in their briefcases to put in the hands of their favored congressmen and dedicated senators. And in this case they have the President, Man Friday, who has taken their advice as to whom to appoint as his cabinet to act as factotums, Girl Friday, handyman, to capture the government on their behalf and create “socialism for the rich.”
When the United Kingdom once condemned Mugabe's authoritarian policies and alleged racist attitudes as being comparable to those of German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, Mugabe responded with an extremely controversial remark, mocking the UK's claims by saying about himself and his policies that "I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold."

As John Pilger noted two years ago: “The clever young man who recently made it to the White House is a very fine hypnotist, partly because it is indeed exciting to see an African American at the pinnacle of power in the land of slavery.

However, this is the 21st century, and race together with gender and even class can be very seductive tools of propaganda.
For what is so often overlooked and what matters, I believe, above all, is the class one serve.
George W. Bush’s inner circle from the State Department to the Supreme Court was perhaps the most multiracial in presidential history. It was PC par excellence….It was also the most reactionary.”

Hamid Dabashi:

Oriana Fallaci went to her grave knowing too damn well that her Italy was no longer the same Italy into which she was born. Berlusconi continues Fallaci's bitter and losing war. Italy may insist on pasta being it national cuisine, but its North African labour immigrants may not like the idea and insist on their Tahini and Shawarma, and there is very little that Berlusconi can do about the matter.

Christianity and Judaism are monotheistic religions; they, too, want the whole world in their own image. Of course! Doesn't Christianity want the world in its own image? The current Pope Benedict was the head of the Office of Doctrine under the previous Pope, and he was relentlessly against liberation theology, which is, as you know, nothing other than the Christianity of the poor people. And from the Seat of the Vatican, he dictated a particular interpretation of Christianity. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as revealed religions, as religions based on sacred books, all want the whole world in their own image – this is their identity, to which all alterities must – they so wish – yield.

If in Europe, you have a – not secular but – cosmopolitan context, it is not out of the goodness of the heart of Christianity, but it is because the social context that has created an organic environment – particularly during the era of Enlightenment – forced Christianity to accommodate non-religious sentiments. The same holds true for Judaism, and a fortiori for Islam.
A fortiori: adverb. For a still stronger reason; all the more
For similar but more convincing reasons if Britain cannot afford a space programme, then, a fortiori, neither can India

All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets" – Voltaire

The comfort of the rich rests upon an abundance of the poor.
Socialize the Costs, Privatize the Gains, which is the essential capitalist definition of nationalization.
Wolf Legend
Legend has it that one evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee replied, "The one you feed."

On Unconditional Love (Ubasute-yama, Obasute or Oyasute)
There is an old Japanese folktale known as Ubasuteyama. It is a sad story of poor village folk forced to take their parents up into the mountains and abandon them there in accordance with village regulations at a time of famine.
A son carrying his mother on his back trudged through hills and valleys until he was deep in the mountain, far away from all human habitation. At the moment of parting the mother asked her son if he thought he could return home safely without becoming lost.

"It'll soon be dark," she told him. "All the time you've been carrying me here, I have been catching twigs in my outstretched hands and dropping them one after another so that they could act as signposts on your way home. If you are not sure which way to go when you come to a crossing of the ways, choose the path on which you find a broken twig. Get home safely!" So saying she bid him farewell, bowing with her palms together. Left alone in the mountain, of course, the old mother had no means of returning home over fields and hills.

Even in such a difficult situation and faced with her own death, the mother looks after her son rather than herself. The mother hasn't abandoned her son, even if he has abandoned her. What deep love that is! Such true parental feeling! This is none other than the love and compassion of the Buddha. There is a poem about it:

In the depths of the mountains,
Who was it for the aged mother snapped
One twig after another?
Heedless of herself
She did so
For the sake of her son

It is said that when he came to Japan Einstein was much moved by this story

Rakers and Mosk Crawlers or Café Crawlers ( Demographic Unit) : a walking camera, NYPD’s deep ties with CIA
mapping the city’s human terrain
“addressed different perils in a different time.”
U.S. District Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. agreed, saying the old guidelines “addressed different perils in a different time.” He scrapped the old rules and replaced them with more lenient ones. It was a turning point for the NYPD
One of the enduring questions of the past decade is whether being safe requires giving up some liberty and privacy. The focus of that debate has primarily been federal programs like wiretapping and indefinite detention. The question has received less attention in New York, where residents do not know for sure what, if anything, they have given up.
At the CIA, one of the biggest obstacles has always been that U.S. intelligence officials are overwhelmingly white, their mannerisms clearly American. The NYPD didn’t have that problem, thanks to its diverse pool of officers.
Using census data, the department matched undercover officers to ethnic communities and instructed them to blend in, the officials said. Pakistani-American officers infiltrated Pakistani neighborhoods, Palestinians focused on Palestinian neighborhoods. They hung out in hookah bars and cafes, quietly observing the community around them.
The unit, which has been undisclosed until now, became known inside the department as the Demographic Unit, former police officials said.
“It’s not a question of profiling. It’s a question of going where the problem could arise,” said Mordecai Dzikansky, a retired NYPD intelligence officer who said he was aware of the Demographic Unit. “And thank God we have the capability. We have the language capability and the ethnic officers. That’s our hidden weapon.”
The officers did not work out of headquarters, officials said. Instead, they passed their intelligence to police handlers who knew their identities.
Cohen said he wanted the squad to “rake the coals, looking for hot spots,” former officials recalled. The undercover officers soon became known inside the department as rakers.
A hot spot might be a beauty supply store selling chemicals used for making bombs. Or it might be a hawala, a broker that transfers money around the world with little documentation. Undercover officers might visit an Internet cafe and look at the browsing history on a computer, a former police official involved in the program said. If it revealed visits to radical websites, the cafe might be deemed a hot spot.
Ethnic bookstores, too, were on the list. If a raker noticed a customer looking at radical literature, he might chat up the store owner and see what he could learn. The bookstore, or even the customer, might get further scrutiny. If a restaurant patron applauds a news report about the death of U.S. troops, the patron or the restaurant could be labeled a hot spot.
The NYPD has been mentioned as a model for policing in the post-9/11 era. But it’s a model that seems custom-made for New York. No other city has the Big Apple’s combination of a low crime rate, a $4.5 billion police budget and a diverse 34,000-person police force. Certainly no other police department has such deep CIA ties.

In politics, as the saying goes, when you are explaining, you are losing. And that makes anything as complex or as messy as healthcare reform a very hard sell.
Mr. Gore was talking sense and Mr. Bush nonsense—but Mr. Bush won the debate.

An ersatz Santa Claus cadges coins on the corner of street.
Please instruct your men to keep me au courant regarding news about Mr. Stanley

We are being drowned in a sea of helplessness.

La Pasionaria, Dolores Ibarruri
Better to die free than live like a slave. It is stupidity of this very sort which led to the defeat of your faith in this peninsula.
It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knee (crawling on your knee):
It is rather to be the widow of a hero than the wife of a coward:
It is rather to kill one hundred innocents than to let a guilty person go:

Ximens de Cisneros had always believed that the heathen could only be eliminated as a force if their culture was completely erased. This meant the systemic destruction of all their books
They wanted to occupy minds, to pierce hearts, to remold souls.
They will soon forbid us our language. Arabic will be banned on pain of death. They will not let us wear our clothes. There is talk that they will destroy every public bath (hammam) in the country. They will prohibit our music, our wedding feasts, and our religion.
All this and more will fall on our heads in a few years’ time.
By the time they have finished with us, they will not have left us any eyes to weep or tongues to scream.
Gestures and grand words have been the curse of our religion, from the very beginning.
Anger had given way to sorrow and resignation.

We have to learn from the Jews how to live in conditions of great hardship.
Instead of looking to the future, we, Muslims, have always turned to the past.
Would you convert to Christianity, Musa, just in order to live?
After seventy years, I am tired of living.
When death comes stumbling my way, like a night-blind camel, I will not move aside. Better to die in complete possession of my senses than be trampled on when my mind has already ceased to exist. And what holds true for an individual applies equally to a community…
What is good for the liver is often bad for the spleen.
Have not Jews done so throughout the land in order to retain their positions? Why should we not imitate them? Let them tighten the screws as much as they like.

The paper ye may burn,
But what the paper holds ye cannot burn;
‘Tis safe within my breast.
Where I remove, it goes with me;
Alights when I alight,
And in my tomb will lie.

In vino veritas: in wine there is truth. In came wine, Out went a secret.
In aqua sanitas: in water there is health.
Ne plus ultra: 1. The highest point, as of excellence or achievement; the ultimate.
2. The most profound degree, as of a condition or quality.


“North Korea and evangelical empires have the same principal of leadership: nepotism to the nth degree. You may not get the call, but you inherit the mailing list.”

The true faith recognized no hierarchy.
All were considered equal before God in the place of worship.

I write with a “passionate partiality” to appropriate an expression from Susan Sontag.
I am a passionate and committed atheist, and Gospels were ‘late’ documents.

My definition of religion is any systematic belief system that is organized and attempts to exert influence on the general society

Zoroastrianism predates Christianity and Islam…it influenced those faiths and cross-fertilized Judaism as well, with its doctrines of one god, a dualistic universe of good and evil and a final day of judgment, dominated an area stretched from what is now Rome and Greece to India and Russia. At present, it’s global population of 190,000, from 40-50 million. 11,000 in US, 6,000 in Canada, 5,000 in UK, 2700 in Australia, 2200 in Persian Gulf.

Accidental birth of Judaism’s bastard child in the shape of Christianity.

Faith “in” Christ and Faith “of” Christ.
To be a Christian is to aspire to have the faith of Christ. This is an action religion, not an abracadabra religion.

Slavery: Leviticus 25: 44-46 Ephesians 6:5 1 Timothy 6:1 Titus 2:9-10
Homosexuality: Leviticus 20:13 / 20:11 (Ham)

Church caters to what people want. It is more a vendor of goods and services than a community of the Kingdom of God.

For the South Koreans (the Oppressors), what is worthwhile is to have more—always more—even at the cost of the oppressed having less or having nothing.
For them, to be is to have and to be the class of “the haves”.

Sikhism blends Hinduism and Islam: Mughal Empire.

Epiphany (manifestation, striking appearance): is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something.
In general terms, the phrase religious epiphany is used when a person realizes their faith or when they are convinced that an event or happening was really caused by a deity or being of their faith.

Buddhism ( Siddhartha Gautama): is not about being special. It is about being ordinary and it is not about the continual exudation of bliss. It is walking a normal human life with normal human beings doing normal human things.
Path to enlightenment lays along the Middle Way.
Siddhartha did not expound a dogma.
Renunciant: renounced the world, embracing poverty and celibacy, living on the edge.
Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada (The School of the Elders) and Mahayana (The Great Vehicle).
The foundation of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teaching) and the Sangha (the community).

Although Taego Order sustains historical orders and preserves original teachings handed down from the Buddha, a key concern is to adapt the changing times and to stay current with that which connects to the people.

With perfect balance of avant-garde and deep respect for the tradition, we maintain the core of teachings, unspoiled, while making the esoteric philosophies of Zen relevant and accessible in today’s world.

There is no Allah but Allah and Mohammed is his Prophet.
There is only one Allah and he is Allah and Mohammed is His Prophet.

Our preachers are stumbling, Christians have gone astray, and Jews are bewildered.
Humanity is composed of but two schools.
Enlightened knaves or religious fools.

All religions are a dark labyrinth and a human construct. Men are religious through force of habit. They never pause to ask whether what they believe is true. Divine revelation is deeply ingrained in our mind.
After all, it was the ancients who invented fables and called them a religion. Musa, Isa, and our own Prophet Mohammed were great leaders of their people in times of trouble. More than that I do not believe.

They nail their God to a piece of wood and call it father, mother and son, drowning their followers in a sea of falsehood.
They have subjected and annihilated us through the force of their oppression.
For me, you are like a dog sniffing around in the blood of a carcass and eating filth, but lifting its leg when it urinates lest the liquid soil its body.
History is full of young fools getting drunk on religion and rushing to do battle with the infidel. Far easier to drink poison underneath a tree by the river and die peacefully.

Horus: a virgin birth, a fisher of men with 12 disciples
Isis: Mary
Osiris: Yahweh
Jesus: Iusa, Iusu
Jewish and Christian religions do indeed owe most of its origins to Egyptian roots; entire body of Christian doctrine is simply a revamped and mutilated Egyptianism. The Gospel narratives of Jesus’ death and resurrection was in fact a bastardizing reworking of the sufferings of Dionysus and other similar Gods.

The Gospel narratives of Jesus’ death and resurrection were in fact a bastardizing reworking of the sufferings of Dionysus and other similar Gods.

The big difference between the Jesus legacy and other mythological traditions like that of the Egyptian God “Horus” was that devotees of other religions never viewed their divinities as historical figures or their sacred stories as actual facts like Christians did.

If Bible is historically accurate, it is only accidentally so.
Reporting was not of the slightest interest to its writers.
What they wrote became a source of vision, not doctrine.
Someone says Englishman had the Bible and Africans had land when Englishman entered the land of Africa, but as soon as Africans begin to have Bible, Englishman begin to have land, all of Africa.

In Seoul, how many churches are there? Thousands? Or ten thousands?
Now more than 80 percent of the commercial buildings in Seoul are held by the foreign companies via stock market manipulation.
That is, Christians have been the advance warriors of Rome, British and now US imperialism.

Flavius Josephus (c37-100): a governor of Galilee prior to the war of 70AD
History of the Jewish War (70AD) / The Antiquities of the Jews (90AD)

Testimonium Flavianum: in 127 words, a truncated version of the golden passage, Josephus confirmed everything! That’s a miracle. Justin, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertulian, before the 4th century, makes no single reference to Josephus’ wondrous words in all defense against pagan hostility.
The third century Christian father Origen said Josephus was not believing in Jesus as Christ. The passage is out of context and a later interpolation. There were no tribes of Christians during Jesus time. Christianity did not get off the ground until the 2nd century.
It’s only in the last third of the 1st century AD that Christ followers emerged as a separate faction from mainstream Judaism. The label “Christian” itself only appears with the 2 century Acts—with the story that the term begin in Antioch (11:26)
Cornelius Tacitus (55-117 AD)

A sura from the al-Koran:

Say: “O Unbelievers,
I worship not that which ye worship,
And ye worship not that which I worship,
Neither will I worship that which ye worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
You have your religion and I have my religion.”

A fierce argument raged between the Needle and the Sieve;
Said the Needle: “You seem a mass of holes – how ever do you live?”
Replied the Sieve with a crafty smile: “That colored thread I see is not an ornament but passes through your head!”
If the Church were to treat sodomy as an unforgivable sin, every priest in Spain would go to hell.
They set our culture on fire.
The cannibalism in their ritual repels me. It goes very deep. Remember the shock of the Saracens when the Crusaders began to roast prisoners alive and eat their flesh. It makes me ill to even think of it, but it flows from their faith.


In September 2004, Hamid Dabashi sharply criticized Israel in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, writing that:
What they call "Israel" is no mere military state. A subsumed militarism, a systemic mendacity with an ingrained violence constitutional to the very fusion of its fabric, has penetrated the deepest corners of what these people have to call their "soul."... Half a century of systematic maiming and murdering of another people has left its deep marks on the faces of these people, the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they handle objects, the way they greet each other, the way they look at the world. There is an endemic prevarication to this machinery, a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of its culture

A Land without the People for a People without the land.
• Sabra –Oleh --- Aliyah A Jew immigration to Israel for Zionistic, religious or other reasons under the Law of Return.
• Olim(plural)—Oleh (male)—Olah (female)

One of the greatest challenges of Egypt’s revolution is to replace that order, which has ruled Egypt for 60 years, knit together by patronage, greased by bribes, enforced by a ubiquitous security force answering only to itself and guided by the principle that the ruling party knows best
“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.”
-- Che Guevara
Like perfect storms, several factors have to simultaneously and collectively come together for popular uprisings or protests, even massive ones, to turn into a revolution. That is why only a few of them have been successful in world history.
A revolution is, by definition, a successful struggle embraced by the masses that radically alters the existing political, economic, and social order.

Hamid Karzai: on his perceived image as an impotent leader in thrall to the US Administration, he said he was willing to shoulder insults in return for US assistance: “Me, a Puppet? My God. If we were called puppets or I am called a puppet because we are grateful to America, then let that be my nickname.”
Zalmay Khalizard: an inveterate factionalist and a master of intrigue.
Asif Ali Zardari : Pakistani equivalent of Karzai

Arabs: 350 million
Muslims: 1.5 billion

Revenge is the integral part of honor.
Obama made clear that Pakistan’s sovereignty was subservient to US interests, saying that he would attack with or without the approval of the Pakistani Government.
Pashtunwali: the unwritten Pashtun Code that regulates social order and interactions with foreigners
Death is better than life when life cannot be lived with honor.

Race is largely a western construct invented in the wake of Darwinianism.
Today, Jews rule the world by proxy…they get others to fight and die for them: Mahatir Mohammad 10/17/03. the topic has been discussed argumentum ad nauseam.
Our news media motto: all the news that supports Israel’s wars and defames Islam is fit to print.
Most of Western coverage of Israeli-Palestinian conflict is shaped by Jewish and Israeli journalists and Palestinian voices are almost entirely excluded.
Palestine (other nations) democracies sound good on paper and in principle, but are risky business in practice.
Practicing the reverse of A.J. Liebling's dictum that the duty of journalism is "to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,"

Elie Wiesel: he would not shed a tear if he heard that Ahmadinejad was assassinated, and calling him a pathological danger to world peace. He averred that Iran’s President intends to destroy Israel and bring disaster to the entire world. Wiesel also seized the occasion to blast the Goldstone Report as a crime against the Jewish people.

Iran’s deterrent strategy in an effort to prevent an attack which is not a remote contingency

We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie.

A priori : formal
Accepted without being thought about or questioned, as the existence of God is a priori for most people with a religious faith. In a court of law, a priori assumptions about guilt or innocence can be dangerous. The press assumed a priori that Oswald was a killer, but Oswald was a fall guy, “just a patsy” in his own words.

You jump on their women whenever you get the chance. I am told that you have a taste for deflowering the village virgins.
The first love may not be the best, but it is usually the deepest.
I have never entered a wench against her will.
What use are wide open legs, if the mind remains closed?
When the spirits are low the cock does not crow!
You chatter away like a crow on heat.
Why should a drowning man be worried by rain? He clasped his father’s hand and held on to it, much as a drowning person grasps anything that is afloat.

The war had to end sooner or later with the final victory of one side and the definitive defeat of the other.
If we used our iron fists to deal with Christianity the way you treat us now, this situation might never have arisen.
I appreciate your bluntness.
Bad news always travels fast.
Two little waterfalls poured down his cheeks and sought refuge in his beard. That whoever is born must die.
It is much harder to make new friends than to keep old enemies.
How can you bear this solitude day by day? Solitude has its own pleasures.
When they bowed their heads before Mecca the other end of their bodies began to emit a foul-smelling wind? That would not be appreciated by those directly in the line of fire.

Soldier derives from Solidus, the Roman coin---soldier being one who fought for money.
You can bomb the world to piece but you can’t bomb it into peace.
There is only one way to win a war in Lebanon-and that is to avoid it.
Washington Consensus: inevitable result of economic enslavement of world.
Washington’s project to reshape the Middle East in its own and Israel’s image.
The only lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.
He talks of victory as ignorant of the past as he is of the future.


US military bases in 2005: 737. Largest and medium-sized bases 38
Britain in 1898: naval bases and army garrisons: 38
Rome in 117 AD: major bases to police its realm from Britannia to Egypt, from Hispanic to Armenia: 37

Grover Cleveland (1884-88 & 1892-1896) Democrat: the great turning point of American foreign policy came in the early 1890s, during the second Cleveland Administration. It was then that US turned sharply and permanently form a foreign policy of peace and non-intervention to an aggressive program of economic and political expansion abroad.
At the heart of the new policy were America’s leading bankers, eager to use the country’s growing economic strength to subsidize and force-feed export markets and investment outlets that they would finance as well as guarantee Third World government bonds.
Major focus of aggressive expansion in the 1890s was Latin America, and principal enemy to be dislodged was Great Britain, which had dominated the foreign investments in that vast region.
US were at a hair’s breath from actual war with Great Britain over a territorial dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana.

James Madison put it, "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. . . Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

Aristotle: democracy is the political stage immediately following aristocracy and immediately preceding oligarchy.

Decline and Fall of Roman Empire

The General obviously doesn’t have Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on the bedside table.
Gibbon wrote flatly that the introduction of foreigners “into Roman armies became every day more universal, more necessary, and more fatal, Rome was captive before she was taken.”

The last time we heard rumblings about the dangers of ethnic or confessional diversity in the US military was during the Vietnam War, particularly after World Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali announced in the spring of 1967 that he was refusing to be drafted.
In words that echoed round the world Ali said, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong...they never called me a nigger. You want me to do what the white man says and go fight a war against some people I don’t know nothing about—get some freedom for some other people when my own people can’t get theirs.”

At that time, Ali gave the US Government this wallop on the chin; 12.1 percent of enlisted men in the US Army were black.
There were innumerable reports of refusal to obey orders, acts of sabotage, assaults on officers and kindred acts of mutiny through the military, white and black.

Eleanor Roosevelt: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present

“The past is never dead, it’s not even past” William Faulkner

When you are a hammer, everything around you looks like a nail. (US vs. world)

SCO: Shanghei Cooperative Organization. China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan.
CSTO: Collective Security Treaty Organization. Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan.

The mainstream media are busy preparing us for an Iranian War.
Media’s morbid obsession with celebrity death and tragedy.

Habeas Corpus is the right to seek relief from illegal detention and a bedrock legal principle.

What life has taught me
I would like to share with
Those who want to learn…
Until the philosophy which hold one race
Superior and another inferior
Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
Everywhere is war, me say war
That until there are no longer first class
And second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man’s skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes
Me say war
That until the basic human rights are equally
Guaranteed to all, without regard to race
Dis a war
That until that day
The dream of lasting peace, world citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion
To be pursued, but never attained
Now everywhere is war, war
And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique,
South Africa sub-human bondage
Have been toppled, utterly destroyed
Well, everywhere is war, me say war
– Bob Marley

General Park Chung Hee
Institute for Research on Collaborationist activities
“I have the mindset and spirit befitting a Japanese subject and am willing to give my life for Emperor.” Gen. Park CH made a pledge of allegiance written in blood to the Japanese army in 1939 when the Koreans were in colonial thrall of the Japanese Empire
the principle of Juche : a blend of autarky, self-reliance, Korean traditionalism and socialism.

Ban kimono August 28 2009
Mona Juul, Norway’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nation wrote in his memo that Ban Ki-moon, the former South Korean foreign minister, suffered from "lack of charisma" and had displayed weak, ineffective and counterproductive leadership

Sheeple: portmanteau (carry, cover or coat) large traveling bag or suitcase. sheep and people
Sheepdogs: police, military
Shepherds: elitists.
follow the asshole in front of you
spork= spoon and fork, blaxploitation= black exploitation, brunch= breakfast and lunch, guesstimate= guess and estimate. Smog= smoke and fog.

Two meanings packed up into one word. It is used to denote persons who acquiesce to authority, and thus undermines their own human individuality. As a collective, people believe whatever they are told, esp it was told so by authority figure, without process it to be sure that an accurate representation of the real world around them. The term is generally used in a political or religious sense and derided for their perceived blind conformity.

Nation of sheeple: we, the Sheeple,
American sheeple remain acquiescent. To describe people who act in direct reaction to saturation advertising, going out and buying the “must-have” fashions and fads of the moment.

Oh yes, I am a sheeple,
Oh so I am proud to be.

1. Confused, rambling, or incoherent discourse; nonsense. Flapdoodle.
2. A complicated, petty set of procedures
3. Any long complicated procedure
4. A set of incoherent or pointless statements; garbled nonsense

Rigmarole of grannies, nonsense.

Tartuffe: a hypocrite, especially one who affects religious piety. An unctuous, smarmy and oleaginous court composer who is consumed with envy and self-loathing.


“Physically desegregated and spiritually segregated, where elbows are together and heart apart. Social togetherness and spiritual apartness.” Martin Luther King.

Negro mentality: let the cop win the masculinity contest. Every brotha has played that game as well: you don’t look the popo in the eye, you do say “Sir” a lot and maybe you won’t get locked up. Then you go home and stew in the stuff that gives a Negro man low life expectancy in America.

Empty drum resonates the loudest.

The past is never dead. It’s not even past. William Faulker

Zero Sum Game:

A situation in which one participant gains result only from another participant’s equivalent losses. The net change in total wealth among participants is zero: wealth is just shuffled from one to another and gambling is also an example.

Torture, after all, is a venerable American tradition, if not quite as homespun as apple pie or lynching. It is as old as our imperial aspirations.

A hopeful story about an elusive “light in the tunnel”.As someone put it, “Hope is not a strategy.” Hope is nothing but a slogan.

But there’s no light in the tunnel: it is dark as pitch as far as the eye can see. There is no sign of a turnaround or a “bottom” in housing at all. The real estate market is freefalling. And it looks like it’s got a long way to go. So why are the media still peddling the same “rose-colored” claptrap that put the country in this pickle to begin with?” L-shaped, U-shaped, or V-shaped economy.

Glass-Steagall Act (1933) : repealed at 1999,go-go years of Reaganesque and market fundamentalism.

How Monica Lewinsky Saved Social Security
In his famous tract "What is History?" E.H. Carr debated the influence on history exercised by Cleopatra's nose. Future historians of Social Security will be able to intersperse their explanation of the intricacies of COLAS, bend points and IPEs with at least a paragraph on the political and intellectual consequences of Monica's beguiling smile (1998).
She saved the day
Hoity-toity elites in Wall Street and captious pedant.

May I remind the Nobel laureates who have signed this appeal of one of Jean-Paul Sartre’s main reasons for voluntarily declining the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964: “It is no the same thing if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre or if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prize Winner. A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form.” Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, under its flag he has gathered the signatures of 43 Nobel laureates in support of the resistance inside Iran.
We can only hope (against hope?) that President Barack Obama, the latest Nobel Peace Laureate, will turn out to merit the honor conferred on him prematurely (which in the spirit of Sartre he might have considered refusing). America’s Imperial President could help rehabilitate the letter and spirit of Alfred Nobel’s wish that the yearly prize reward “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Housing crisis in USA

1. all mortgages: 47 million loans
2. Negative equity: 11.2 million loans (24% of all mortgages)
3. Free and clear (No mortgage): 24 million homes.
4. All Home equity: $16.5 trillion - $6 trillion equity has been wiped out = $10 trillion. (no mortgaged $5.3 trillion+ mortgaged $1.2 trillion= $6 trillion)

Zeitgeist is "the spirit of the times" or "the spirit of the age." [1] Zeitgeist is the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual, and/or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambiance, morals, sociocultural direction, and mood associated with an era.
The term zeitgeist is from German Zeit- 'time' (cognate with English tide and "time") and Geist- 'spirit' (cognate with English ghost, without being really translatable into English - this is why the German term is used).

Eureka Effect : (Greek heureka, “I have found”) is any sudden unexpected discovery, or the sudden realization of the solution to a problem, resulting in a eureka moment (the moment of unexpected discovery). The eureka effect is also known as the aha
phenomenon, and it is similar to an epiphany.
Eureka effect is named after the myth that the Greek polymath Archmedes, having discovered how to measure the volume of an irregular object, leaped out of a public bath, and ran home naked shouting “eureka”.

Schadenfreude (a portmanteau) is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. This German word is used as a loan word in English. (China is looking at the US default with a degree of Schadenfreude)
Morose delectation (delectacio morosa in Latin): the habit of dwelling wih enjoyment on evel thought or gloat over an enemy’s misfortune.

Buddhistic concept of Mudita : sympathetic joy, happinessin another’s good fortune.
Murdenfreude/Spitzenfreude/ Jew York Times: neologism and variants

Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile disparate, even opposing, beliefs and to meld practices of various schools of thought. It is especially associated with the attempt to merge and analogize several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, and thus assert an underlying unity.

One can contrast Christian syncretism with contextualization and enculturation, the practice of making Christianity relevant to a culture.
Contextualization does not address the doctrine but affects a change in the style or expression of worship.
The Latter Day Saint Movement (or the Unification Church) can be framed as a syncretic outgrowth of mainline Christianity.

Moral syncretism: morality independent of religion

A cornerstone of moral syncretism is that religion can not be morality’s only arbiter.
Dalai Lama said: compassion and affection are human values that are independent of religion.
The Dalai Lama, for example, has said that compassion and affection are human values that are independent of religion: "We need these human values. I call these secular ethics, secular beliefs. There’s no relationship with any particular religion. Even without religion, even as nonbelievers, we have the capacity to promote these things."[2]
Ethical behavior would come from altruistic motivation, not from fear of punishment or promise of reward after death

Culture is the collection of symbols with which humans relate to their environment and through which they explain and recreate that relation.
Identity is a manifestation of culture, one that results in the selective and distinctive internalization of certain elements and traits by social subjects.

Syncretism can be contrasted with contextualization, the practice of making Christianity relevant to a culture

Cultural syncretism: as a process of acculturation, or mixing of different cultures.
In general terms, it basically refers to the process by which Europe and particularly Spain and Portugal, blended with the so-called New Continent.
Syncretism is also common in literature, music, the representational arts and other expressions of culture. (Compare the concept of eclecticism.) There also exist syncretic politics, although in political classification the term has a somewhat different meaning.
Syncretism in Ancient Greece
Syncretism was an essential feature of Greek paganism. Hellenistic culture in the age that followed Alexander the Great was itself syncretic, essentially a blend of Persian, Anatolian, Egyptian (and eventually Etruscan-Roman) elements within a Hellenic overall formula. The Egyptian god Amun developed as the Hellenized Zeus Ammon after Alexander the Great went into the desert to seek out Amun's oracle at Siwa.
These identifications derive from the Hellenic habit of identifying gods of disparate mythologies with their own. When the proto-Greeks whose language would evolve into Greek first arrived in the Aegean and mainland Greece early in the 2nd millennium BC, they found localized nymphs and divinities already connected with every important feature of the landscape: mountain, grove, cave and spring all had their locally-venerated deity. The countless epithets of the Olympian gods reflect this syncretic character. "Zeus Molossos", as worshiped only at Dodona, is "the god identical to Zeus as worshipped by the Molossians at Dodona." Much apparently arbitrary and trivial mythic fabling is the result of later mythographers' attempts to explain these obscure epithets.
Syncretism in Rome
The Romans, identifying themselves as common heirs to a very similar civilization, identified Greek deities with similar figures in the Etruscan-Roman tradition, though cult practices were not usually copied. Syncretic gods of the Hellenistic period found also wide favor in Rome: Serapis, Isis, Mithras are syncretic deities. Cybele, as she was worshiped in Rome, was essentially a syncretic goddess. The Greek god Dionysus was imported into Rome as Bacchus, and the Anatolian Sabazios was converted to the Roman Sabazius.
The correspondences varied: Jupiter is perhaps a better match for Zeus than say the rural huntress Diana is for the feared Artemis. Ares is not quite Mars. The Anatolian goddess Cybele was physically imported to Rome from her Anatolian cult center Pessinos in the original aniconic archaic stone idol; she was identified in Rome as Magna Mater and was given a matronly, iconic image that had been developed in Hellenistic Pergamum.
Likewise, when the Romans encountered Celts and Teutons, they mingled these Northern gods with their own, creating Apollo Sucellos (Apollo the Good Smiter) and Mars Thingsus (Mars of the war-assembly), among many others. In the Germania, the Roman historian Tacitus speaks of Teutonic worshippers of Hercules and Mercury; most modern scholars conclude that Hercules was likely Thor, and Mercury was Odin.
Syncretism in Christianity
Nascent Christianity appears to have incorporated many European Pagan cultural elements, "baptizing" or "Christianizing" them to conform with Christian belief and principles, at least partially through discarding theologically and morally incompatible elements. One example of this is the strong reliance of St. Augustine on pagan Greek Plato and St. Thomas Aquinas's many quotations of "The Philosopher", Aristotle. Many scholars agree to this syncretism in principle, though any specific example is likely to be labeled "controversial". Open Theists (a subset of Protestant Evangelicals) assert that Christianity by the 3rd and 4th centuries had incorporated Greek Philosophy into its understanding of God.
"Syncretism" was not on the table when Christianity split into East and West rites during the Great Schism. It was invoked however with the rifts of the Protestant Reformation, with Desiderius Erasmus's readings of Plutarch. In 1615 David Pareus of Heidelberg urged Christians to a "pious syncretism" in opposing Antichrist, but few 17th century Protestants discussed the compromises that might affect a reconciliation with the Catholic Church: the Lutheran Georgius Calisen "Calixtus" (1586-1656) was ridiculed by Calovius (1612-1685) for his "syncretism."TBONE
The modern celebrations of Christmas (originating from Pagan Yule holidays) and Halloween are examples of relatively late Christian syncretism. Roman Catholicism in Central and South America has also integrated a number of elements derived from indigenous cultures in those areas.
Syncretism can be contrasted with contextualization, the practice of making Christianity relevant to a culture.
Syncretism in Islam
The Druzes integrated elements of Ismaili Islam with Gnosticism and Platonism. Their practice of disguising themselves as followers of the dominant religion makes difficult to ascertain what is believed and what simulated. Several of the Jewish Messiah claimants like Jacob Frank and the donmeh ended mixing Cabalistic Judaism with Christianism and Islam. Sikhism blends Hinduism and Islam and was notably supported by the Mughal emperor Akbar, who wanted to consolidate the diverse religious communities in his empire. The Bahá'ís follow a prophet whom they consider a successor to Muhammad, and recognize Jesus, Moses, Buddha and Zoroaster amongst others as former prophets. Some have therefore considered it a syncretic faith. However, Bahá'ís themselves and most scholars reject this definition, because Bahá'ís recognize the supremacy of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation in our time over previous ones (as much as Muhammad himself had done), and Bahá'ís have their own Sacred Writings and laws that supersede all others.
Modern syncretic religions
Unitarian Universalism is an example of a modern syncretic religion; it traces its roots to Universalist and Unitarian Christian congregations while at the same time freely incorporating elements from other religious and non-religious traditions.
Examples of strongly syncretist Romantic and modern movements include mysticism, occultism, theosophy, astrology, and the New Age movement, and in the arts the eclectic aspects of post modernism. The Rastafarian movement is also syncretic, derived from a blend of Judaic ideology and a more secular one of emancipation. Ref. Wikipedia

Frantz Fanon's relatively short life yielded two potent and influential statements of anti-colonial revolutionary thought, Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961), works which have made Fanon a prominent contributor to postcolonial studies.
Fanon was born in 1925, to a middle-class family in the French colony of Martinique. He left Martinique in 1943, when he volunteered to fight with the Free French in World War II, and he remained in France after the war to study medicine and psychiatry on scholarship in Lyon. Here he began writing political essays and plays, and he married a Frenchwoman, Jose Duble. Before he left France, Fanon had already published his first analysis of the effects of racism and colonization, Black Skin, White Masks (BSWM), originally titled "An Essay for the Disalienation of Blacks," in part based on his lectures and experiences in Lyon.
BSWM is part manifesto, part analysis; it both presents Fanon's personal experience as a black intellectual in a whitened world and elaborates the ways in which the colonizer/colonized relationship is normalized as psychology. Because of his schooling and cultural background, the young Fanon conceived of himself as French, and the disorientation he felt after his initial encounter with French racism decisively shaped his psychological theories about culture. Fanon inflects his medical and psychological practice with the understanding that racism generates harmful psychological constructs that both blind the black man to his subjection to a universalized white norm and alienate his consciousness. A racist culture prohibits psychological health in the black man.
For Fanon, being colonized by a language has larger implications for one's consciousness: "To speak . . . means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization" (17-18). Speaking French means that one accepts, or is coerced into accepting, the collective consciousness of the French, which identifies blackness with evil and sin. In an attempt to escape the association of blackness with evil, the black man dons a white mask, or thinks of himself as a universal subject equally participating in a society that advocates an equality supposedly abstracted from personal appearance. Cultural values are internalized, or "epidermalized" into consciousness, creating a fundamental disjuncture between the black man's consciousness and his body. Under these conditions, the black man is necessarily alienated from himself.
Fanon insists, however, that the category "white" depends for its stability on its negation, "black." Neither exists without the other, and both come into being at the moment of imperial conquest. Thus, Fanon locates the historical point at which certain psychological formations became possible, and he provides an important analysis of how historically-bound cultural systems, such as the Orientalist discourse Edward Said describes, can perpetuate themselves as psychology.
Brown Skin, White Masks
By Hamid Dabashi

According to Dabashi, in Fanon’s time the world was divided into West and East, North and South, and between the white colonizers and the color-coded colonized.
In current time, the world is no longer divided around any axis of West-East or South-North.

The more advanced form of colonization, neocolonial globalization, has made the world geographically amorphous.
However, the oppressed people still get invaded, occupied, expelled and at the same time they fight back, subvert, and organize.

Fanon wrote his book right before joining the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN). Hamid Dabashi has written his book in NY City. It is no longer necessary to be in Algeria to understand subjugation and oppression.

Dabashi has sought to expose the ideological foregrounding of the American imperial project, and its extended European shadow, by analyzing the nature and function of comprador intellectuals that he calls native informers.

He has reconsidered and vastly expanded on the ideas of exilic intellectuals by Ed Said, house and field Negro by Malcolm X; colonized people’s mentality toward white supremacists by Fanon; comprador intellectuals by Kwame Anthony Appiah; the native informant by Adam Shatz; and so on.

Dabashi gives Fouad Ajami as one example of a comprador intellectual who lives in the US,: “The comprador intellectual is a byproduct of colonialism, not a character trait of any given culture...the defining function of the comprador intellectuals is to shore up that relation of commerce to power. Birthplace, nationality, religion, creed, and color are irrelevant. Capital will use whatever and whoever is convenient for each particular time, place, and situation.”

The native informers that Dabashi discusses are comprador intellectuals, who have emigrated to the US and mostly speak English with an accent.
The accent is suppose to authenticate and exoticize them and make their (mis)information about their home country believable for US audience.
The job of native informers is to assure their US audiences that the US invasions and occupations are moral and thus to distract citizens from the inevitable backlash.
The US mass media introduces native informers as representatives of people whose resistance culture they mock. According to Dabashi, “With the services they are eager to provide, the native informers present a paradoxically positive aspect, for they become caricatures of themselves by caricaturing the cultures they represent or misrepresent.”

The native informers wear white masks to hide their brown or black colors (fictive white man presiding in their mind).
The racial delusion that the white man is the center of the world, and the rest of humanity his periphery, has made it possible for native informers to exist and profit.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Naval Base Tears Apart Korean Village

By Christine Ahn, August 19, 2011

“The land and sea isn’t something you bought,” explained Kang Ae-Shim. “Why are you selling something that was there long before you were born?”

Kang Ae Shim is a haenyo, one of the legendary Korean women sea divers from Jeju Island who can hold their breath for up to two minutes while foraging the ocean floor for seafood. But today Kang and others are fighting to save their island from the pending construction of a South Korean naval base in Gangjeong village, which threatens to tear apart the age-old sisterhood of the haenyo and destroy the pristine ecology of Jeju’s shores. The government and construction contractors are attempting to stamp out the outcry by arresting, beating, fining, and threatening villagers and activists.

In April, renowned South Korean film critic Yang Yoon Mo was arrested for erecting and living in a tent on the coast for years to impede construction. Yang subsequently went on hunger strike for 71 days, 57 of which were spent in prison. In May, Choi Sung-hee, an artist and peace activist living with the villagers, was arrested for demonstrating and standing in the way of cement trucks to prevent them from pouring concrete over lava rock along the coastline. In June, Gangjeong village chief Kang Dong-kyun and peace activist Song Kang-ho confronted a large Samsung construction vessel in a small tugboat. When Song attempted to board the vessel, he was beaten and thrown back into the tugboat.

In July, I traveled to Gangjeong to witness the courageous fishing and farming community fight to keep their beautiful coastline from becoming the site of a naval base.

During my five days there I interviewed the villagers, including farmers, haenyo, and the village chief, as well as others from Jeju Island supporting the resistance. I learned three things: the process that led to Gangjeong becoming the base site was grossly undemocratic; the community fabric is being torn apart; and the Korean War is still playing out in this struggle on Jeju Island.

The Wall
The morning after my nighttime arrival, I was stunned to see an approximately 30-foot tall fence surrounding the massive area of the proposed base. According to the villagers, the navy seized 160,000 pyong or 130 acres of farmland — equivalent to 169 football fields — from the port to the river. Inside the fenced-in area are remnants of greenhouses, torn-up farmland, huge cement planks, and abandoned tractors and other large machinery. The farm road to the coastline where the anti-base resistance has established a camp is bordered by amazingly rich and fertile soil, which during the Japanese occupation was allegedly the only soil on the volcanic island that could grow rice.

But the base’s impact isn’t limited to land. Off the coast of Jeju is the absolutely stunning Tiger Island and its sparkling surrounding waters, a UNESCO ecological reserve. According to Koh Yoo-Ki, an environmental policy analyst from Jeju, the planned naval base construction would destroy 98 acres of ocean floor inhabited by soft coral reef and nine endangered species.

The Jeju Island government had designated the coastline as a preservation area in 1991, but in December of 2009 then-Jeju Governor Kim Tae Hwan nullified the 1991 designation to make way for the naval base. “I cannot understand how there was five different protections for this area,” says Koh. “Before this naval base project, the state invested tons of money to preserve this area. Scholars used to come from the mainland to research corals. Now all of this has been undone.”

Undemocratic Process
According to an August 7 letter to the editor in The New York Times, the South Korean embassy in Washington wrote, “The construction site was selected after accommodating opinions of local residents in a legitimate process, including town hall meetings.” The villagers say it was far from legitimate, democratic, or just.

On April 24, 2007, former village chief Yoon Tae Jun announced his approval of the planned base and said that an application to the Jeju governor, would be made. Typically a meeting to discuss similar civic action is held after a one-week waiting period, but this time it was scheduled for only three days later. On April 26, only 87 of the 1,050 Gangjeong residents – less than 10 percent – were present. Approximately half of those present were elderly haenyo, which according to Gangjeong farmer Jung Young-hee was strange since these women rarely, if ever, participated in village committee meetings. In an unprecedented manner, a vote to endorse the base was held by clapping. Never before in Gangjeong history had a vote been conducted this way. Yoon said he would hold another village committee meeting within 10 days and promised that if more people opposed the base, he would revoke his approval. But he never followed through.

On May 14, Jeju governor Kim Tae Hwan announced that Gangjeong village would be the site. The outraged villagers mobilized, forced the village chief out of power, and held a referendum on the proposed base in August 2007. According to Gangjeong village chief Kang Dong-Kyun, “On Aug 20 we held another referendum. 94 percent opposed the base. 725 people participated. 680 voted against, only 36 for, and nine votes were defective. The central government only recognized the first vote by the villagers committee; the second one wasn’t recognized.”

In January 2009, the Ministry of Defense approved the construction plan, and in April Gangjeong village filed a lawsuit in response, arguing that the nullification of the preservation area should be recalled, which the judge denied. The villagers appealed, and the case is now pending in the Supreme Court. A decision is likely due sometime this winter.

Bribing the Elderly
According to a 65-year-old haenyo from Gangjeong who opposes the base, the former village chief Yoon and a representative from the fishermen’s cooperative convened a meeting of haenyo before the April vote, and claimed they would be compensated if they supported the base project. When I asked her why she thought the haenyo supported the base, she said, “If there was no money, they would all protest the base.”

She went on to describe a deliberate effort by government and naval officials to bribe several haenyo. She said that the gentlemen were waiting to take the elderly haenyo out for meals after they had just returned from diving for several hours. The men told the haenyo that the navy would build a hospital for the elder haenyo. Her husband chimed in, “These elderly women didn’t know. [The Navy] used money to lure them. This is unethical and wrong to take advantage of them.”

Before Gangjeong was selected as the designated naval site, the Korean authorities approached two other villages –Hwasoon and Wimi –as early as 2002, but the residents, largely haenyo and fishermen who militantly opposed the base, blocked the initiative.

By round three, the Navy had become more sophisticated. “With the experience they had, the government went after the haenyo first in Gangjeong,” explains Lee Kyung-Sun, the general secretary of the Jeju Women’s Association. “They were cowardly for going after them,” says Lee, who insists that the haenyo should not be blamed if they supported the base, and that the focus ought to be on the government’s tactics. “Haenyo are victims too. They were tricked,” she said. “I still respect the haenyo. They have supported their family and the village, and they have preserved this area.”

Community Torn Apart
The row over the naval base has cleaved the community of Gangjeong haenyo who have worked together for over 40 years into two opposing groups. The 65-year-old haenyo from Gangjeong says that a few haenyo in opposition to the base refuse to enter the water with base supporters. “Now there is no conversation between the two groups,” she laments.

Kang Ae-Shim, a 56-year old haenyo from the neighboring village of Bopan explained, “The money that the haenyo was given is what you can make in one year.” She described how the haenyo from Gangjeong and Bopan physically fought in the water — the very same women who for years ate dinner and sang together at noraebang (karaoke). But the Gangjeong base decision changed that dynamic. The haenyo from Gangjeong “don’t have much to say because they are ashamed,” says Kang. There is a saying that it’s better to go into the ocean rather than go to one’s own mother’s home to borrow money. “All the things that come from the ocean, the abalone, the snails — these are not just a matter of life, they are medicine that strengthens the life spirit.” Kang argues that pollution from the naval base will threaten the haenyo’s livelihood.

Gangjeong villagers told me of a recent survey revealing that 50 percent of haenyo were suicidal and 70 percent are extremely psychologically stressed. Hyun Ae-Ja, the former Jeju representative to the National Assembly who has chained herself to a tree blocking police and construction trucks from entering the farm road believes that “ultimately the Jeju naval base will bring the destruction of the community and life.”

The Never-ending Korean War
The unresolved Korean War has served as justification for the continued militarism of the Korean peninsula, including the build-up of nuclear weapons in North Korea, massive military spending on both sides of the DMZ, intensified U.S.-ROK military exercises, and the expansion of military bases, like the one under construction on Jeju. The irony here is that South Korea is forcibly destroying the livelihoods of farmers, fishermen, women sea divers, and the rich marine ecosystems –on which we all depend for our human security –in the name of “national security.”

According to the South Korean embassy, “The Jeju base was built solely for the defense of the Republic of Korea and has no connections to American military installations. There are no plans to use the base for American missile defense, nor have Korea and the United States had any discussion regarding this issue.”

But many defense analysts challenge this claim. According to the Monterey Institute’s arm control specialist Jeffrey Lewis in an article in The New York Times, “the new Aegis destroyers to be based in Jeju would help defend South Korea against Chinese missiles and help defend Japan against missiles from both China and North Korea, [but they] won’t provide much defense for South Korea against North Korean missiles… Very few North Korean missiles would rise high enough on their way toward South Korea to give South Korean destroyers a shot.” Also in a rejoinder to the Embassy’s New York Times letter, Matt Hoey, a missile defense analyst at the Military Space Transparency Project, argues, “The Aegis sea-based missile defense system planned for Jeju is networked to United States space systems and ground-based X-band radar.”

Furthermore, earlier this spring, when I and several other Americans called the Korean Embassy in Washington to register our concerns, we all received similar versions of the same prepared response, “Don’t call us; call the U.S. State or Defense Departments; they are the ones who are pressuring us to build this base.” And it’s not just ordinary Americans who have been told that the United States is involved with the Jeju base. Even former U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings wrote in a June 15, 2011 op-ed in the Huffington Post that the Obama administration is “establishing a naval base with South Korea on Jeju Island.”

At a time of severe economic recession, the global community can no longer afford to spend billions of dollars daily on a misguided notion of military security that only increases the threat of military action, loss of human life, environmental contamination, and the loss of precious biodiversity.

Under Siege
On the morning we departed the mayor of Seogwipo announced that the police could seal off access to the public agricultural road to the coastline, blocking off primary access to anti-base protesters. National Defense Minister Cho Hyun-oh promised Jeju’s police commissioner as many resources as was needed to remove the base resistance camp. Police and undercover vans now monitor the three entrances to the base site 24 hours a day.

Since I left Gangjeong there has been an intense stand-off. Hundreds of police attempted to come through the farm road where several women chained themselves to trees to block their access. Thanks to the increasing pressure by civil society on the South Korean government to release the villagers and activists from prison, all have now been released, including the artist and activist Choi Sung-hee.

But as the global community’s awareness of the issue rises, so has Seoul’s crackdown on the peaceful protestors. On August 15th a reported 700 riot police from the mainland landed on Jeju with three water cannons, 16 large buses, and 10 riot control vehicles. Nevertheless, the villagers and activists have remained courageous and resolved to resist through nonviolent disobedience for their village, land, and sea. We must not relent as long as the villagers don’t.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lemming-in-Chief Barak Obama

Lemmingly, We Roll Along

When soldiers are killed, the politicians who sent them to their deaths typically use euphemisms, words like “fallen” or “ultimate sacrifice.” On one level, the avoidance of blunt language may be seen as a sign of respect, but on another, it is just one more evasion of responsibility.

By Ray McGovern

August 20, 2011 "Information Clearing House" -- There has been unusually wide (and for the most part supportive) reaction to my article of Aug, 7 on Afghanistan, “More U.S. Soldiers Die in Vain,” which was picked up by other websites as well.

One comment described a cartoon and struck me as particularly — if sadly — apt: “Two lemmings were chatting while standing in the line to the cliff. One says to the other, ‘Of course we have to go over the edge. Anything else would dishonor all the lemmings that have gone before us.’”And so it goes, thought I, with our Lemming-in-Chief (LIC) Barack Obama … and those who lemmingly follow him.

The President’s and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s words about the 30 dead soldiers, including members of the elite Seal Team 6, were carefully chosen, but bore the telltale earmarks of “the Lemming Syndrome.”

“We will honor the fallen by showing our unyielding determination to press ahead … to move forward with the hard work,” said Panetta on Aug. 8.

President Obama also stressed how “our troops will continue the hard work. … We will press on.” There was also much talk about how the troops were “lost.”

Gosh, I thought, I did not know that the 30 U.S. troops were just “lost” or that they had simply “fallen.” Sounds like maybe we can still find them and help them get up – when the hard truth is that they’re dead.

Frequent references to the helicopter having “crashed” also played down the details of why the troops had “fallen.” I thought I’d read somewhere that the helicopter “crashed” because it was shot down by folks who do not like American troops making middle-of-the-night raids all over their country.

These unhappy folks are usually described as “militants” or, in a sad reflection on the primitive level of the war discussion in the U.S. news media, simply as “bad guys.”

Perhaps others of my (Vietnam) generation are hearing what I hear — the plaintive lyrics of the song, “When Will They Ever Learn?” More descriptive of such times, then and now, are the words Pete Seeger put to music during a large lemming infestation 44 years ago: “We were neck-deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool said to push on.” Pete Seeger, 1967

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. An Army Infantry/Intelligence officer in the early Sixties, he then serves as an analyst of the CIA for 27 years. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mutiny in the Temples of Mammon


It is astonishing to find that the British press, so quick to tell us about the ‘true’ nature and motivations behind each mass protest in the Arab world, is somehow intellectually lame in its attempt to grasp their own huge riots at home. Until now, I have failed to see even a single worthy analytical attempt to understand the full meaning or significance of the violent events taking place on the streets of cities all over the UK.

British papers have been outlining the events as being driven by, associated with, and defined by hooliganism. They talk to the victims, and sometime even manage to interview some protagonists and perpetrators.

But, amongst such shallow, sensationalist coverage, we are still missing the most important information. What is the demography of the riots? Who is leading it? Does it have any leaders? Is there an ideology behind it all? Why do they loot, what do they loot, and from whom do they loot? And most importantly, what is the meaning of it all?

The events we saw in the past week in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol and Manchester were possible signs of disintegration within British society. Some sectors within the society were clearly saying “we have had enough of it.” The truth is that these people we see rioting on our streets have been drifting away for quite some time, and no one has shown any concern, and now they are clearly not interested anymore in obedience to any notions of law and order. They do not see any great value in it. And the reason for that may be simple -- there is simply not much in it for them.

What we see in Britain is not a political protest. It is not a battle with any coherent call for justice. Neither is it an outburst of mere racial hatred. It is none of those things -- and yet, considered in its entirety, it comprises and manifests all of those factors at once. It is actually a rejection of the entire system. It is a clear manifestation and forceful expression of generations who have lost all hope in a society that does not convey any prospect of a future for them. What we now see in British cities is young people who are putting the current system on trial. It is a spontaneous eruption of a demand for recognition.

For obvious reasons not many in Britain are willing to listen to the desperate and urgent message voiced by the deprived. But I think that we must try to understand what is going on here.

If you want to know why the British media fail to understand what is happening, the answer is fairly straightforward. Though they are there to transmit an image and appearance of freedom of speech, liberty and the spirit of enlightenment, large parts of the British media are deeply embedded as an inherent part of a wider system which they serve and bolster.

As a nation, we claim to believe in democracy -- though we often enough kill en masse in the name of freedom. Closer to the truth is the fact that we are submerged in a culture of self-love, and hence, we simply find it impossible to imagine that anyone within our proximity would dismiss our ‘greatness.’

And yet, here is the bad news -- it is clearly all spinning out of control now -- for far too long, we have been celebrating our ‘greatness’ at the expense of our underprivileged neighbors. Clearly, our next door neighbors do not buy into this notion of freedom and liberty, since they do not posses the means to celebrate such freedom: they are left out, excluded from the game.

When I was young, I used to wonder what I would do when I had to finally support myself, and indeed, there were many options to choose from: education was available for most of us; but more than anything else, there were jobs to be found, since there were many different industries. I knew, for instance, that I would always be able to at least settle in a factory job and support myself and my future family. But Britain doesn’t offer any of that anymore. There are no jobs. There are no industries, and from this year, higher education will not be a viable option for countless youngsters.

Tragically enough, our politicians do not appear to be at all concerned with these matters: British politicians, much like other Western politicians, seem impervious to the austere challenges faced by our youth, and the implications of all of these events for their future and their sense of hope. It has been convincingly argued that Western liberal democracy is simply there to merely set parameters, and to create the appropriate conditions for big businesses. Such a state of affairs is certainly true in Britain. The democratic system in Britain can be more accurately described as a form of subtle, perfidious and devious political oppression that simply gives the appearance of the ‘true reflection of our own will’. It gives the false impression that ultimately, the current order is nothing but fulfillment and reflection of ‘our own personal choice.’

The truth of the matter is actually far simpler -- the Western political system is there to maintain consumerism, and to keep big business going. Our civil freedom is reduced to a simple set of entitlements: we are free to consume, to buy, to spend, to purchase, to acquire, to lease, to hire, and to rent. And yet, there is a big problem here that will not go away, because as we move up the ladder of our consumer existence, more and more people are falling behind. As the more fortunate among us proceed upward, more and more youngsters are realizing that they will never even be able to join the game.

On the one hand we are subject to a ‘dictatorship of commodification’; we are trained to identify with a set of gadgets and brands, and yet, on the other hand, an increasing number of the people around us are left out -- they can barely afford to possess these objects of desire, and find themselves removed from the ‘identity game’. They become faceless, their existence denied, left to wander, ghost-like, wrapped in training suits in a society driven by ruthless hard capitalism and sheer greed.

Such a reading of the riots in London may well help us to grasp the fact that many looters were apparently happy to be pictured by the press as they were seen in the streets with their new possessions. For the first time, they also had a chance to join the Western ‘symbolic order’. They smile at the camera, showing off their entry card into our society. They don’t want to be faceless anymore -- they insist to be seen.

Lamentably enough, British politicians seem to be very enthusiastic about ‘moral interventionism’ in other countries. But I believe that the time is ripe for Britain to be subjected to a true form of moral interventionism -- an influx of spiritual ideas that would redeem us all from mammon-seeking and hard capitalism. Yet it is increasingly clear that within the British political spectrum we will not find any such force that could lead to such a transformation, and that is indeed both a volatile and tragic situation.

Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He is the author of two novels: A Guide to the Perplexed and the recently released My One and Only Love. Atzmon is also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. His CD, Exile, was named the year's best jazz CD by the BBC. He lives in London and can be reached at:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mainstream Press Misses the King of the Hill

August 11, 2011

The Israel Lobby's Return to Congress

You might think that twenty percent of the American Congress going on all-expense-paid, week-long junkets to a foreign country – paid for by a lobby for that country – would be considered newsworthy. Especially when the top Congressional leaders of both parties are leading the trips.

You would be wrong.

81 Congressional representatives from all over the country, led by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are traveling to Israel this month. Most are freshmen Congressmen and include half of all the freshmen Republicans voted into office in 2010.

The week-long trips are being paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which was created in 1990 as a supporting organization of AIPAC, America’s major pro-Israel lobbying organization, and is located in the same building (AIEF, which is only one of numerous organizations pushing pro-Israel policies, has an annual budget of over $24 million with an even larger endowment.

This is an extraordinary situation. No other lobby on behalf of a foreign country comes anywhere near to controlling such wealth or taking so many of America’s elected representatives on a propaganda trip to their favorite country.

Not all those going on these trips are enthusiastic. The wife of one Congressman who made a similar trip some years ago said that she and her husband had never been exposed to such pressure in all their lives. She said that at one point on their trip, her husband – a normally extremely tough man – was curled up in a fetal position.

A staff member of one representative participating in this month’s junkets said the representative had no choice. If the Congressional rep didn’t go on the trip, the rep would be targeted by AIPAC, large quantities of money, including massive out-of-state money, would be raised for the opponent in the next election, and quite likely the representative would be defeated. The staffer said that the Israel Lobby is far too powerful to ignore and that American voters have no knowledge of what’s going on.

It’s no surprise that voters are unaware that their Congress people are being propagandized and pressured by a foreign lobby. Their news media almost never tell them.

The Associated Press, America’s number one news service, has decided not to report on a lobbying group taking 81 representatives to a foreign country in order to influence their votes.

Even though the trips are being reported by news media in Britain, Iran, India, Israel, Lebanon, and elsewhere, AP has decided to give it a pass. When contacted about this, an AP editor in Washington DC said they knew about the trips and were “looking into it.”

Taking a similar tack, the New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CNN, ABC, et al, failed to inform Americans about the trips. (The Washington Post, after the story was posted throughout the blogosphere, finally covered it belatedly on page 13. The CBS website had a story on the situation, but CBS news made no mention of the junkets on-air.)

The only AP stories on the subject are scattered local stories about individual Congress people. For example, AP’s Chicago bureau reported that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is taking part, without reporting that he was one of 81 representatives accepting these all-expense-paid junkets, and that his trip was being paid for by the pro-Israel lobby.

A few other American media reported the story in interestingly diverse ways:

Washington DC’s Politico covered it twice; the Atlantic’s AtlanticWire posted a story on people who were “kvetching” about the one-sided nature of the junkets, while emphasizing that some of the reps were also going to meet with some Palestinian leaders, but failed to report that this will apparently account for only a few hours out of the 7-day trip. LA’s Jewish Journal was remarkably forthright, reporting that “the congressional reps will be getting the dog and pony show,” and Commentary gloated at the “astonishing” number of representatives going on the trip, noting that “Congress is the backstop that gives Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu the ability to say ‘no’” to the President of the United States.

While Commentary claims that the willingness of Congressional representatives to go on all-expense-paid trips by one of the country’s most powerful lobbies “is a good reflection of American public opinion on the Middle East,” this is actually not accurate.

Surveys find that an extraordinarily strong majority of Americans – typically between two-thirds to three-quarters – do not wish the U.S. to take sides on Israel-Palestine.* Such widespread desire for neutrality is particularly noteworthy given that U.S. news media across the political spectrum are consistently highly Israeli-centric in their reporting.

It is quite likely that such voters would be unhappy to learn that a foreign lobby has such power over their elected representatives, leading them to give the favored nation, one of the smallest and wealthiest countries on the planet, over $8 million per day of American tax money when the U.S. is in the middle of a financial crisis.

Perhaps that’s why AP and others don’t tell them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

They died in Vain

They Died in Vain; Deal With It

By Ray McGovern

August 08, 2011 "Information Clearing House" -- Many of those preaching at American church services Sunday extolled as “heroes” the 30 American and 8 Afghan troops killed Saturday west of Kabul, when a helicopter on a night mission crashed, apparently after taking fire from Taliban forces. This week, the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) can be expected to beat a steady drumbeat of “they shall not have died in vain.”

But they did. I know it is a hard truth, but they did die in vain.

As in the past, churches across the country will keep praising the fallen troops for protecting “our way of life,” and few can demur, given the tragic circumstances.

But, sadly, such accolades are, at best, misguided — at worst, dishonest. Most preachers do not have a clue as to what U.S. forces are doing in Afghanistan and why. Many prefer not to think about it. There are some who do know better, but virtually all in that category eventually opt to punt.

Should we fault the preachers as they reach for words designed to give comfort to those in their congregations mourning the deaths of so many young troops? As hard as it might seem, I believe we can do no other than fault — and confront — them. However well meaning their intentions, their negligence and timidity in confronting basic war issues merely help to perpetuate unnecessary killing. It is high time to hold preachers accountable.

Many preachers are alert and open enough to see through the propaganda for perpetual war. But most will not take the risk of offending their flock with unpalatable truth. Better not to risk protests from the super-patriots — many of them with deep pockets — in the pews. And better to avoid, at all costs, offending the loved ones of those who have been killed — loved ones who can hardly be faulted for trying desperately to find some meaning in the snuffing out of young lives.

Best to Just Praise and Pray

Far better to pray for those already killed and those who in the future will “give the last full measure of devotion to our country.” In sum, by and large, American preachers are afraid to tell the truth. They lack the virtue that Thomas Aquinas taught is the foundation of all virtue — courage. Aquinas wrote (to translate into the vernacular) that all other virtue is specious if you have no guts.

Writer James Hollingsworth hit the nail on the head: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Like the truth.

Those who often seem to ache the most in the face of unnecessary death are mothers. Many mothers do summon the courage to say — and say loudly — ENOUGH. Yes, my son (or daughter) died for no good purpose, they are strong enough to acknowledge, painfully but honestly. He (she) did die in vain. Now we must all deal with it. Stop the false patriotism. And, most important, stop the killing.

Cindy Sheehan, whose 25 year-old son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004, is one such mother. She and others have tried to put a dent into the strange logic that attempts to translate unnecessary death into justification for still more unnecessary death. But they get little air or ink in the Fawning Corporate Media. Rather, what you will hear in the days ahead from the FCM is well honed rhetoric not only about how our troops “cannot have died in vain,” but also that Americans must now redouble our resolve to “honor their sacrifice.”

President Barack Obama set the tone on Saturday:

“We will draw inspiration from their lives, and continue the work of securing our country and standing up for the values they embodied.”

Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, also primed the pump for the FCM, saying Saturday, “All of those killed in this operation were true heroes who had already given so much in the defense of freedom.”

And Joint Chiefs Chairman went even further in professing to know “what our fallen would have wanted” us to do — namely, “keep fighting.” Mullen added that, “it is certainly what we are going to do.” All this was duly reported in Sunday’s Washington Post and other leading U.S. newspapers —without much comment.

Over the next several days, TV viewers will get a steady diet of this kind of disingenuous logic from talk show hosts feeding on the grist from Obama, Mullen, Allen, and others. After all, many pundits work for news organizations owned or allied with some of the same corporations profiteering from war.

Too bad CBS’s legendary Edward R. Murrow is long since dead; and the widely respected Walter Cronkite, as well. Taking the CBS baton from Murrow, who had challenged the “red scare” witch hunt of Sen. Joe McCarthy, Cronkite gradually saw through the dishonesty responsible for the killing of so many in Vietnam. He finally spoke up, and said, in effect, any more who die will have died in vain.

(The very long hiatus between Cronkite and Scott Pelley, newly appointed “CBS Evening News” anchor, has been particularly painful. The jury is still out, but I harbor some hope that Pelley may try to follow CBS’s earlier, prouder tradition, if by some miracle his corporate bosses allow him to. Given today’s prevailing atmosphere of obeisance to Establishment Washington, Pelley certainly has his work cut out for him. We shall have to wait and see if he has it in him to take the risk of rising to the occasion.)

Corporal Shank & Specialist Kirkland

Five years ago I was giving talks in Missouri, when the body of 18 year-old Cpl. Jeremy Shank of Jackson, Missouri (population 12,000) came home for burial. He was killed in Hawijah, Iraq on September 6, 2006 while on a “dismounted security patrol when he encountered enemy forces using small arms,” according to the Pentagon.

Which enemy forces? Two weeks before Shank was killed, Stephen Hadley, George W. Bush’s national security adviser, acknowledged that the challenge in Iraq “isn’t about insurgency, isn’t about terror; it’s about sectarian violence.” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Makiki added, “The most important element in the security plan is to curb the religious violence.”

So was Shank’s mission to prevent Iraqi religious fanatics from blowing up one another? What do you think; was that worth his life?

On September 7, 2006, the day after Shank was killed, President Bush, in effect, mocked his unnecessary death by drawing the familiar but bogus connection between 9/11 and the “war on terror,” of which he claimed Iraq was a part. Bush said, “Five years after September 11, 2001, America is safer — and America is winning the war on terror.”

Flowery Funeral Words

Back at the First Baptist Church in Jackson, Missouri, Rev. Carter Frey eulogized Shank as one of those who “put themselves in harm’s way and paid the ultimate sacrifice so you and I can have freedom to live in this country.”

Correction: It was not Cpl. Shank who put himself in harm’s way; it was those who used a peck of lies to launch a bloody, unnecessary war — first and foremost, Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, not to mention the craven Congress that authorized it and most of the FCM that led the cheerleading for it.

Was separating Shia from Sunni a mission worth what is so facilely called the “ultimate sacrifice,” or — for other troops — the penultimate one paid by tens of thousands of veterans trying to adjust to life with brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and/or missing limbs?

Despite the self-serving rhetoric about “heroes,” the young, small-town Shanks of America stand low in the priorities of Establishment Washington. They are pawns in the war games played by generals and politicians far, far from the battlefield.

Even in the Army in which I served, troops were often referred to simply as “warm bodies;” that is, at least before they became cold and stiff. But that term was normally not accompanied by the mechanistic disdain reflected in the memo by a Fort Lewis-McCord Army major that came to light last year.

On March 20, 2010, Specialist Derrick Kirkland, back from his second tour in Iraq, hanged himself in the barracks at Fort Lewis-McCord, leaving behind a wife and young daughter. Kirkland had been suffering from severe depression and anxiety attacks, for which he had to bear severe ridicule by his comrades.


As for his superiors, it was Army policy to do everything possible to avoid diagnosing PTSD. And so, Kirkland ended up becoming a new entry on a little-known statistical table; namely, the one that shows that more active-duty soldiers are currently committing suicide than are being killed in combat.

Not a problem for Maj. Keith Markham, Executive Officer of Kirkland’s unit, who put the prevailing attitude all too clearly in a private memo sent to his platoon leaders. “We have an unlimited supply of expendable labor,” wrote Markham.

And, sadly, he is right. Because of the poverty draft (aka the “professional Army”), more than half of U.S. troops come from small towns like Jackson, Missouri and the inner cities of our country. In both these places, good jobs and educational opportunity are rare to nonexistent.

I suspect that one factor behind the very high suicide rate is a belated realization among the troops that they have been conned, lied to — that they have been used as pawns in an unconscionably cynical game. I would imagine that corporals and specialists, as well as high brass like the legendary two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Marine Gen. Smedley Butler, often come to this realization belatedly, and that this probably exacerbates the pain.

Butler wrote “War is a Racket” in 1935, describing the workings of the military-industrial complex well before President Eisenhower gave it a name. It is not difficult for troops to learn that the phenomenon about which Eisenhower warned has now broadened into an even more pervasive and powerful military-industrial-corporate-congressional-media-institutional-church complex. Small wonder the suicide rate is so high.

And for what? Please raise your hand if you now believe, or have ever believed, that the White House and Pentagon have sent a hundred thousand troops to Afghanistan for the reason given by President Obama; namely, “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat” the 50 to 100 al-Qaeda who U.S. intelligence agencies says are still in Afghanistan.

And keep your hands up, those of you who fear you might throw something at the TV screen the next time Gen. David Petraeus intones that wonderfully flexible phrase “fragile and reversible” to describe what he keeps calling “progress” in Afghanistan.

Troops returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan know better. It must be particularly hard for them to hear the lies about “progress,” and then be ridiculed and marginalized for having PTSD. It seems a safe bet that some of those have read Kipling, and on occasion wish they had found release by following his morbid advice — awful as it is:

“When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
And go to your gawd like a soldier.”

The Establishment Church

I added “institutional church” into the military-industrial-corporate-congressional-media-institutional-church complex coined above because, with very few exceptions, the institutional church is still riding shotgun for the system — and the wars.

I find that most men and women of the cloth avoid indicting “wars of choice,” even though such wars were quite precisely defined at the post-WWII Nuremberg Tribunal as “wars of aggression” and labeled the “supreme” international war crime). They know that in such wars thousands upon thousands die — civilians as well as military.

But then fear seems to walk in, for preachers all too often fall back on platitudinous, fulsome praise for those who “have given their lives so that we can live in freedom.” And, as the familiar phrase goes, they say/think, “I guess we’ll have to leave it there.”

And there continue to be relatively few outspoken folk like Cindy Sheehan, painfully aware that courage and truth are far more important than fear, even when that fear includes the painful recognition that the life of a beloved young son was ended unnecessarily. There are some who dare to point out that the mission given our troops has made us less, not more, safe at home, and ask what is so hard to understand about Thou Shalt Not Kill? The FCM ignores these Justice folks, so all too few know of what they say and do.

It is a curiosity that the Bible and the teachings of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, seem to have become OBE (overtaken by events) and no longer inform the sermons of many American preachers. Odd that the relevant teachings from this treasure trove seem to have become passé or, as former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said of the Geneva Conventions, “quaint” and “obsolete.”

I have this vision of Stephen Decatur smiling from the afterlife as he watches more and more acceptance being given in recent years to his famous dictum: “Our country, right or wrong.”

Let me suggest that preachers consider drawing material from yet another source in thinking about the wars in which the U.S. is currently engaged. Instead of fulsome encomia for those who have made “the ultimate sacrifice,” they might be directed to Rudyard Kipling for words more to the point, if politically and congregationally incorrect.

Two passages (the first a one-liner) shout out their applicability to U.S. misadventures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and — God help us — where next?

“If they ask you why we died, tell them because our fathers lied.”


“It is not wise for the Christian white
To hustle the Asian brown;
For the Christian riles,
And the Asian smiles
And weareth the Christian down.
At the end of the fight
Lies a tombstone white
With the name of the late deceased;
And the epitaph drear,
A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East.”

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President's Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS