The Anti-Empire Report #82
By William Blum – Published June 10th, 2010
The worst thing that ever happened to the Jewish people is the Holocaust. The second worst thing that ever happened to the Jewish people is the state of Israel.
Things internationally are so dispiriting there’s nothing left to do but fantasize. I picture Turkey, as a member of NATO, demanding that the alliance come to its defense after being attacked by Israel. Under Article 5 of the NATO charter an armed attack on one member is deemed to constitute an armed attack on all members. That is the ostensible reason NATO is fighting in Afghanistan — the attack against the United States on September 11, 2001 is regarded as an attack on all NATO members (disregarding the awkward fact that Afghanistan as a country had nothing to do with the attack). The Israeli attack on a Turkish-flagged ship, operated by a Turkish humanitarian organization, killing nine Turkish nationals and wounding many more can certainly constitute an attack upon a NATO member.
So, after the United States, the UK, Germany, France and other leading NATO members offer their ridiculous non-sequitur excuses why they can’t … umm … er … invoke Article 5, and the international media swallows it all without any indigestion, Turkey demands that Israel should at least lose its formal association with NATO as a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue. This too is dismissed with scorn by the eminent NATO world powers on the grounds that it would constitute a victory for terrorism. And anti-Semitism of course.
Turkey then withdraws from NATO. Azerbaijan and five other Central Asian members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace with Turkic constituencies do the same. NATO falls into a crisis. Remaining member countries begin to question the organization’s policies as never before … like please tell us again why our young men are killing and dying in Afghanistan, and why we send them to Kosovo and Iraq and other places the Americans deem essential to their endlessly-threatened national security.
When Vice President Biden tells the eminent conservative-in-liberal-clothing pseudo-intellectual Charlie Rose on TV that “We have put as much pressure and as much cajoling on Israel as we can to allow them [Gaza] to get building materials in,” 1 Rose for once rises to the occasion and acts like a real journalist, asking Biden: “Have you threatened Israel with ending all military and economic aid? … Have you put the names of Israeli officials on your list of foreigners who can not enter the United States and whose bank accounts in the US are frozen, as you’ve done with numerous foreign officials who were not supporters of the empire? … Since Israel has committed both crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity, and since these are crimes that have international jurisdiction, certain Israeli political and military personnel can be named in trials held in any country of the world. Will you be instructing the Attorney General to proceed with such an indictment? Or if some other country which is a member of the International Criminal Court calls upon the ICC to prosecute these individuals, will the United States try to block the move? … Why hasn’t the United States itself delivered building materials to Gaza?”
When Israel justifies its murders on the grounds of “self-defense”, late-night TV comedians Jay Leno and David Letterman find great humor in this, pointing out that a new memoir by China’s premier at the time of the 1989 Tiananmen Square violent suppression defends the military action by saying that soldiers acted in “self-defense” when they fired on the democracy activists. 2
When Israel labels as “terrorists” the ship passengers who offered some resistance to the Israeli invaders, the New York Times points out that the passengers who resisted the 9-11 highjackers on the plane which crashed in Pennsylvania are called “heroes”. (As an aside, it’s worth noting that the United States uses 9-11 as Israel uses the Holocaust — as excuse and justification for all manner of illegal and violent international behavior.)
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reminds its readers that in 2009 Israel attacked a boat on international waters carrying medical aid to Gaza with former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney aboard; and that in 1967 Israel attacked an American ship, the USS Liberty, killing 34 and wounding about 173, and that President Johnson did then just what President Obama is doing now and would have done then — nothing.
And finally, Secretary of State Clinton declares that she’s had a revelation. She realizes that what she recently said about North Korea when it was accused of having torpedoed a South Korean warship applies as well to Israel. Mrs. Clinton had demanded that Pyongyang “stop its provocative behavior, halt its policy of threats of belligerence towards its neighbors, and take irreversible steps to fulfill its denuclearization commitments and comply with international law.” 3 She adds that the North Korean guilt is by no means conclusive, while Israel doesn’t deny its attack on the ship at all; moreover, it’s not known for sure if North Korea actually possesses nuclear weapons, whereas there’s no uncertainty about Israel’s large stockpile.
So there you have it. Hypocrisy reigns. Despite my best fantasizing. Is hypocrisy a moral failing or a failure of the intellect? When President Obama says, as he has often, “No one is above the law” and in his next breath makes it clear that his administration will not seek to indict Bush or Cheney for any crimes, does he think that no one will notice the contradiction, the hypocrisy? That’s a callous disregard for public opinion and/or a dumbness worthy of his predecessor.
And when he declares: “The future does not belong to those who gather armies on a field of battle or bury missiles in the ground”, 4 does it not occur to him at all that he’s predicting a bleak outlook for the United States? Or that his conscious, deliberate policy is to increase the size of America’s army and its stockpile of missiles?
Comrades, can the hypocrisy and the lies reach such a magnitude that enough American true believers begin to question their cherished faith, so that their number reaches a critical mass and explodes? Well, it’s already happened with countless Americans, but it’s an awfully formidable task keeping pace with what is turned out by the mass media and education factories. They’re awfully good at what they do. Too bad. But don’t forsake the struggle. What better way is there to live this life? And remember, just because the world has been taken over by lying, hypocritical, mass-murdering madmen doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time.
Bad guys and good guys
In Lahore, Pakistan, reported the Washington Post on May 29, “Militants staged coordinated attacks … on two mosques of a minority Muslim sect, taking hostages and killing at least 80 people. … At least seven men armed with grenades, high-powered rifles and suicide vests stormed the mosques as Friday prayers ended.”
Nice, really nice, very civilized. It’s no wonder that decent Americans think that this is what the United States is fighting against — Islamic fanatics, homicidal maniacs, who kill their own kind over some esoteric piece of religious dogma, who want to kill Americans over some other imagined holy sin, because we’re “infidels”. How can we reason with such people? Where is the common humanity the naive pacifists and anti-war activists would like us to honor?
And then we come to the very last paragraph of the story: “Elsewhere in Pakistan on Friday, a suspected U.S. drone-fired missile struck a Taliban compound in the South Waziristan tribal area, killing eight, according to two officials in the region.” This, we are asked to believe by our leaders, is a higher level of humanity. The United States does this every other day, sending robotic death machines called Predators flying over Afghanistan and Pakistan, to send Hellfire missiles screaming into wedding parties, funerals, homes, not knowing who the victims are, not caring who the victims are, many hundreds of them by now, as long as Washington can claim each time — whether correctly or not — that amongst their number was a prominent infidel, call him Taliban, or al Qaeda, or insurgent, or militant. How can one reason with such people, the ones in the CIA who operate the drone flights? What is the difference between them and a suicide bomber? The suicide bomber becomes one of the victims himself and sees his victims up close before killing them. The CIA murderer bomber sits safely in a room in Nevada or California and pretends he’s playing a video game, then goes out to dinner while his victims lay dying. The suicide bomber believes passionately in something called paradise. The murderer bomber believes passionately in something called flag and country.
The State Department’s Legal Advisor justifies the Predator bombings as … yes, “self-defense”. 5 Try reasoning with that.
These American drone bombings are of course the height of aggression, the ultimate international crime. They were used over Iraq as well beginning in the 1990s. In December 2002, shortly before the US invasion in March, the Iraqis finally managed to shoot one down. This prompted a spokesman for the US Central Command, which oversees US military operations in the Middle East, to call it another sign of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s “campaign of military aggression.” 6
This particular piece of hypocrisy may have actually been outdone by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s comment about the US flights and bombings over Iraq during that period: “It bothers the dickens out of me that US and British pilots are getting fired at day after day after day, with impunity.” 7
Send me a stamped self-addressed envelope for a copy of the revised edition of “An arsonist’s guide to the homes of Pentagon officials”.
When politicians misbehave. By speaking the truth.
The German president, Horst Koehler, resigned last week because he said something government officials are not supposed to say. He said that Germany was fighting in Afghanistan for economic reasons. No reference to democracy. Nothing about freedom. Not a word about Good Guys fighting Bad Guys. The word “terrorism” was not mentioned at all. Neither was “God”. On a trip to German troops in Afghanistan he had declared that a country such as Germany, dependent on exports and free trade, must be prepared to use military force. The country, he said, had to act “to protect our interests, for example, free trade routes, or to prevent regional instability which might certainly have a negative effect on our trade, jobs and earnings”.
“Koehler has said something openly that has been obvious from the beginning,” said the head of Germany’s Left Party. “German soldiers are risking life and limb in Afghanistan to defend the export interests of big economic interests.” 8
Other opposition politicians had called for Koehler to take back the remarks and accused him of damaging public acceptance of German military missions abroad. 9
As T.S. Eliot famously observed: “Humankind can not bear very much reality.”
What is the opposite of being a conspiracy theorist?
David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker magazine and former Washington Post reporter, has a new book out, “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama”. In the three pages Remnick devotes to Obama’s 1983-4 employment at Business International Corporation in New York he makes no mention of the well-known ties between BIC and the CIA. In 1977, for example, the New York Times revealed that BIC had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries during earlier years of the Cold War; 10 BIC also attempted to penetrate the radical left, including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). 11
Did Remnick not think it at all interesting and worthy of mention that the future president worked for more than a year with a company that was a CIA asset? Even if the company and the CIA made no attempt to recruit Obama, which in fact they may have done? It’s this kind of obvious omission that helps feed the left’s conspiracy thinking.
Because Remnick has impeccable establishment credentials the book has been widely reviewed. But none of the many reviewers has seen fit to mention this omission. And the way it works of course is that if it’s not mentioned, it didn’t happen. And if you mention such a thing, you’re a pathetic conspiracy theorist. Like me, who discussed it in the January edition of this report. 12
Spam, myself and my readers
As some of you now know, someone hacked into my website and used my address book to send out emails to many of the readers of this report. The emails indicated that they had been sent by me and directed people to a website which sells handbags, shoes and watches. What bothers me the most about this incident is that several of my readers believed that it was actually me who had sent out the emails, that I was peddling handbags, shoes and watches. The only thing I sell are books. But I think these readers have now learned something about spam. And hopefully about me.
Oh, by the way, can I interest any of you in some nice T-shirts, hats, or sunglasses?
- Charlie Rose Live, June 2, 2010 program
- Associated Press, June 4, 2010
- State Department press conference, May 24, 2010
- Talk given in Moscow, July 7, 2009, text released by the White House
- National Public Radio, March 26, 2010
- Washington Post, December 24, 2002
- Associated Press, May 31, 2010
- London Times Online, May 31, 2010
- Associated Press, September 30, 2002
- New York Times, December 27, 1977, p.40
- Carl Oglesby, “Ravens in the Storm: A Personal History of the 1960s Antiwar Movement” (2008), passim
- William Blum, The Anti-Empire Report, January 3rd, 2009
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to williamblum.org is provided.