Countdown: Is Hilary pandering to her audiences? + The Obamas vs. the Clintons: Family Values War (videos)

Dandelion Salad

August 21, 2007
From:  clyde1952

It is becoming apparent to me that sh… It is becoming apparent to me that she is. In this case, she adjusted her message to this audience of the VFW members. Frankly, she has learned nothing from what happened to her husband. When you try to have it both ways and appease the opposition, all you do is make yourself an easier target. From watching her in the debates it’s quite apparent from her stance on many issues that she is trying to play the middle, which to me is meaningless.
http://clydestuff.blogspot.com/
Watch a special Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Sunday on NBC (not MSNBC) at 7 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central.

Michelle Obama says she wasn’t criticizing the Clinton’s when she made these comments about Family values. But honestly, there is a way to do criticism and then say you aren’t so that you can get away with it. For me the implication is pretty clear, in context, out of context, or whatever it may be.

A brief report about reporting Fred Thompsons lawbreaking fund raising, trying to be a candidate without being one.

Watch a special Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Sunday on NBC (not MSNBC)at 7 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central.

http://clydestuff.blogspot.com/

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Back to School During Wartime By Sunsara Taylor

Dandelion Salad

By Sunsara Taylor
ICH
08/21/07 “Counterpunch

How Will You Leave Your Mark on the World?

College should be a time and a place to learn about the world to go from the galactic to the microscopic, to learn of different cultures and art forms, to get into philosophy and history and questions of meaning and of truth to explore things that have been kept from you, to plunge into the exciting process of discovery to meet people from different parts of the world and different perspectives to stretch social and political boundaries and to get into different scenes.

It’s supposed to be a time to stay up all night talking, making music, reading poetry to be part of resisting and rebelling against everything that is wrong to make a statement about who you want to be and what kind of world you want to live into look at the world as it really is, and to begin to forge your role in relation to it.

But you are doing this at a time when all this is being reined in, when powerful forces are trying to shut it down precisely because discovering how the past has shaped the present, coming to grips with how your life will shape the future, and seeing how all of this is bound up with and will influence the lives of billions around the world has higher stakes now than probably ever before.

The World You Come To

You didn’t carve up the earth with man made borders, subjugate whole peoples, drive millions from their families and homelands in a desperate search for work in the leaner and meaner globalized economy-but you can’t escape the fact that the clothes on your back, the food you eat, the roads you drive on, the computers you use were all made through this global system of capitalist exploitation and plunder, including of millions of children literally chained to machines working 12, 14, 16 hours a day.

You didn’t rip up the earth’s beautiful landscapes and burn its fossil fuels, sending towers of filthy smoke billowing into the skies, to feed the cutthroat competition of capitalist corporations you didn’t decide that beef cattle for the cancerous spread of fast food chains around the world was worth massive deforestation and displacement of indigenous peoples that concern about the extinction of species and the melting of the ice caps should be ridiculed by government and major media-but you are now inheriting a world teetering dangerously close to destruction.

It was not your hands that chained millions of Africans in slave ships across the murderous Middle Passage, that sold children out of their mothers’ arms on auction blocks, that saddled up with the night-riding KKK and dragged Black people from their homes, or shot them down in urban streets when they dared to rebel or even walked with a little bit of pride-but you live each day in a country whose wealth flows directly from the veins of those slaves and whose deep-rooted racism is alive and well in its murderous response to Hurricane Katrina and the racial cleansing of New Orleans since.

You weren’t the ones cheering and waving the U.S. flag as nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, incinerating hundreds of thousands in slow and agonizing deaths as flesh hung from their bodies and their cities burned and burned and burned around them-but you live in the country that did this, the country that stockpiles more nukes than any other, the country that is threatening to use these weapons of mass death preemptively.

It wasn’t you who first enshrined the idea that women’s only value was as breeders of children, helpmeets of men, or objects of sexual plunder you aren’t the patriarchs who enshrined these ideas in the religious texts of every major religion-but you are living at a time when no woman in any corner of the globe grows up free of the fear or the reality of being raped, brutalized, mutilated, disrespected, or owned, and religious fundamentalist subjugation of women is on the rise everywhere.

And no, it wasn’t you who sanctioned the Presidency of George Bush, who with his unjust and immoral wars waged for empire, his fascist remaking of U.S. society, and his Dark Ages religious fundamentalism has taken this imperialist society into even more extreme, repressive, and rapacious directions-but even as you read this, there are innocent people being chained to ceilings, stripped naked, and tortured in your name.

The Choice

Let’s face it-you, like everyone else, have had your circumstance largely determined by forces beyond your control. It would be easy to hide behind this. Without a doubt, there are options and rationales being held out there for you to “do for yourself” or maybe “just do your part.” But whether you chose it or not, all of these crimes have been laid at your doorstep and what you do-or don’t do-will shape the circumstances and lives of millions and millions of people around the planet for generations to come.

You have laid out before you the promise of the possibility of achievement, of personal acquisition, of a place at the table and comforts and safety and “protection” and all the rest. You can use your education, your talents, your creativity, your ambitions to run this hamster wheel, to scarf up as much as you can from high up on the global economic “food chain,” and to do as those who enforce this whole system of global plunder are hoping you will.

Or, you can refuse to be confined by narrow horizons. You can resist. You can challenge unjust authority, you can expose the government’s lies and its crimes, you can put your body into the political fight against the war grinding up hundreds of thousands in Iraq and the new wars currently being planned. You can be about ending racism and the hatred of immigrants being whipped up with deadly consequences. You can be about shattering the oppression of women and gay people. You can dare to take on and break people out of the death grip of the hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism that enshrines this subjugation as divine. You can defy the right-wing student brownshirts trying to cleanse the campuses of subversive ideas and critical thought.

You can throw your fist in the air and get way out there-the way young people have in every heroic struggle for justice and liberation in the past-bringing hope to people around the world and challenging and inspiring others to resist throughout society. You can act urgently and set in motion political resistance and upheaval powerful enough to drive the Bush regime from power and to open up the possibility of a whole different world.

And you can learn. You can find out about the human beings and their lives being shaped and destroyed by all this. You can look deeper at the structures that have caused all this, the ideas that have reinforced all this. You can investigate solutions that have been curtained off-behind the “caution tape” of the official keepers of ideas and “solutions,” written off even by many who hate the way things are but who have themselves been misled or have settled in-to see what has truly been accomplished through the revolutionary struggles of the oppressed and exploited throughout the world.

You can even dig beneath the simplistic and cynical refrain of “power corrupts” that serves simply as an excuse to leave things the way they are. You can-and you should-explore the truly breathtaking things that have been accomplished when the masses have held revolutionary state power in places like the Soviet Union or China, when they were really revolutionary. You can stand on the shoulders of all of this-of those who have sacrificed and struggled, who have dared to dream and to live and to fight for the emancipation of all of humanity-and you can be a part of taking all of this so much further.

If you’ve read this far, you’re someone who wants to change the world. Don’t listen to the cynics and the worldly wise who tell you you can’t, who try to lower your sights. History shows that the dreamers and fighters are right. Follow your principles, work to realize your deepest and highest aspirations, and follow THAT where it leads you.

And while you do that, check out and engage with the works of Bob Avakian: his re-envisioning of the communist project; his analysis of current world events and the challenges before people who want a different world; and the answers, approaches, and questions he is putting forward about what is involved in making a revolution that can remake the whole world in a truly liberating, viable, and lasting way.

Do all this as we work together to resist and reverse the mounting horrors-including the fight sharpening up now over whether the campuses will be centers of resistance or sites of imperialist indoctrination.

Your life is either going to count for something-or it is going to count for nothing. The world is intolerable. It is crying out for justice. Don’t look away from it.

Sunsara Taylor writes for Revolution Newspaper and sits on the Advisory Board of The World Can’t Wait ­ Drive Out the Bush Regime. She can be reached at: sunsarasworld@yahoo.com

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

The FBI’s New Power – The Authority to Abuse the Constitution By Saul Landau

Dandelion Salad
By Saul Landau
ICH
08/21/07 “Counterpunch

On August 4, ignoring former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who had spoken of Bush’s “phony war” on terrorism, Congress authorized vast authority for repressive agencies to spy further on the public. Under the pretext of “fighting terror,” the bill opens further already existing wide parameters for telephone and email intrusion without court warrants.

As usual, Democrats capitulated. Some fearing the wuss label, others actually agreeing that Bush needed more power to diminish the already diminishing Bill of Rights to deal with the “terrorist threat.” 41 House Democrats voted for the Bill, 16 in the Senate.

Congress refuses to learn. In 1947, President Truman launched a bipartisan coalition to create new agencies to deal with the then mortal enemy ­ the Soviet Union. Although Democrats launched the Cold War, some liberals began to object when extreme right wing Republicans like Senator Joe McCarthy took Truman’s anti-Communist crusade “too far.”

Like the Cold War, Bush’s anti-terrorism campaign increased the already vast powers of the secret agencies. Did Congress not recall that the most notorious spies were high employees FBI and CIA officials? The Bureau’s Joseph Hansen and the Agency’s Aldrich Ames sold the Soviets hundreds of thousands of “top secrets” ­ before the USSR collapsed in 1991. Simultaneously those agencies spent fortunes spying on innocent citizens.

Worse, FBI “informants” often doubled as “agents provocateurs.” In the 1960s, anti war and civil rights activists learned to suspect those proposing violence and labeling skeptics “chickenshit.” Such advocates regularly turned out to be FBI infiltrators. I recall a meeting during which one man screamed: “Let’s kill a pig. That’ll wake people up and show ’em, we mean business.” Inevitably, such statements gained the support of a few nuts and indeed some violent scenarios actually took shape.

By placing such characters inside the anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights movements, the Bureau hoped to provoke violence so as to show the public that anti-war and civil rights activists were dangerous. Most citizens opposed the war and sympathized with anti-war protests, but drew a sharp line at violence.

I recall at anti-Vietnam War meetings insisted on violent action as the only means could to bring about radical transformation. Later, I learned the cops had busted him on drug charges and turned him over to the FBI, who offered to drop the charges in return for his inciting groups to commit mayhem.

Some of these “turned criminals” just infiltrated left groups and reported to their Special Agents about their plans and activities. From 1968-1973, the FBI placed 72 “informants” inside the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. A few of the infiltrators volunteered for such work out of patriotic feelings. One such informant worked for Karl Hess, a former Goldwater speechwriter and Libertarian. After spending a month at IPS, the informant confessed to Hess that he had permeated the Institute in order to report on its subversive activities. But he felt qualms after finding not one sign of unpatriotic activity. Indeed, he discovered lively debate, few agreements among fellows and not a trace of Soviet influence. As a result of his disclosure IPS filed suit and won a court order for the FBI to stop their illegal practices and not circulate material on IPS to other government agencies. In the late 1980s, IPS fellows discovered that the FBI had turned a book keeper and a janitor whose relatives faced felony charges. IPS endured the consequences when the bookkeeper failed to pay payroll taxes for several months and serious financial problems ensued.

Congress has virtually ignored the FBI’s role as a political police and allowed the Bureau to maintain its façade of fighting crime. Since the FBI did not get punished for using informants to provoke crimes, this MO clung like a dingleberry to the Bureau.

Even before J. Edgar Hoover became director of the FBI in 1924, he had made his name by pursuing political radicals. In 1919-1920, he became a right hand man to Attorney General J. Mitchell Palmer, who carried out the notorious “Palmer Raids” against “radical aliens.”

Hoover built a PR apparatus that profiled his organization as tough on crime, while he collected massive amounts of data on everyone he could, including Members of Congress. Given this knowledge of the FBI’s past wiretapping and data collecting of hundreds of thousands of innocent US citizens, one would have thought Congress might have reflected before authorizing the current bill, which expands the power of the Bureau and other agencies, opening the door to perfidy on a grander scale.

Instead, the Members, some of whom feared getting labeled “soft on terrorism,” voted carte blanche for the repressive agencies to “pursue terrorists.” In the FBI’s case, this means not only snooping into private affairs, but using agents provocateurs to create crime where none existed.

On June 22, 2006, FBI Special Agents arrested seven African American men and accused them of conspiring to unleash a ground war against US targets. Five had previous arrest records for assault and possession of illegal drugs and weapons. Federal prosecutors told the media that this nefarious gang had links to al-Qaida and planned to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower in “support of a foreign terrorist organization.”

Most of the “plotters,” residents of the Liberty City area, where some half a million African Americans share decaying space with recently-arrived Haitians, were unemployed. The announcement of the arrest came in the context of police busts in England where local terrorist cells also had supposed links to al-Qaida. When some reporters scrutinized the evidence, however, it turned out that the arrested men had no connection to some supposed central headquarters of the infamous world terrorist plotters.

In England, angry local Muslims had learned bomb making not in the mosques, but on web sites. More than a dozen such sites existed even before 9/11. Thousands now exist.

The FBI, however, fell behind technologically, failing even to obtain proper computer interfaces. It still lacks sufficient Arabic-speaking Agents who would be able to surf the Web and find some of the illicit sites.

Throughout this country, millions of black Muslims resent the dominant culture. Alongside them, immigrants from the Muslim world now inhabit neighborhoods inside cities and in the suburbs. So, the FBI resorted to its old tricks.

In Miami, however, the FBI targeted a group whose members had no knowledge of bomb-making; nor possessed sufficient computer literacy to search the web. Two paid FBI informants discovered Narseal “Prince Marina” Batiste. According to the indictments and court testimony, they posed as al-Qaida members and approached Batiste with a grandiose plan that he would lead. At “secret” meetings at a warehouse the FBI had wired for surveillance and even paid rent on the place, the infiltrators shared joints with Batiste and his buddies. It isn’t clear from court records if the FBI also paid for the marijuana it supplied “plotters” who smoked while conspiring.

The 32 year old Batiste had heard of al-Qaida, but wasn’t sure what it stood for. The FBI instigators made Batiste swear loyalty to al-Qaida; then had him call on his local buddies to form an “Islamic army” in Miami. None had military training. Some could barely read. But Batiste assured the group in the midst of its collective marijuana buzz of greatness ahead.

One of the paid FBI informers, Charles James Stewart, had gotten busted for rape. After he joined the group he fought with and killed one of Batiste’s friends. Then he testified against the entire group.

The other undercover plant ­ born in the Middle East — had a record for assault and marijuana possession. The FBI had promised him citizenship papers if he came through successfully.

The terrorists included five U.S. citizens, one Haitian with a green card and one without. The FBI infiltrators promised Batiste and his seven man army boots, uniforms, guns, radios, vehicles and $50 thousand. Imagine how these poor men felt when army boots and some primitive electronic equipment appeared, including a small digital camera, a cell phone and $3,500 in cash!

The FBI never supplied weapons or explosives. The money was a bit short of the $50,000 the informers boasted they would provide. None of the group knew how to use explosives or had formal weapons training.

When the public learned of the pathetic nature of these dangerous terrorists, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole explained that the conspiracy was “more inspirational than operational.” Yes, FBI informants inspired the plot with non-operational conspirators, as they did in previous eras against different enemies.

Congress has just authorized more money and power to an agency that will no doubt use it to collect more files on US citizens and perpetrate more Miami style plots in the name of the “war on terrorism,” Members of both House should enjoy their summer!

Saul Landau writes a regular column for CounterPunch and progresoweekly.com. His new Counterpunch Press book is A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD. His new film, WE DON’T PLAY GOLF HERE (on globalization in Mexico) is available through roundworldproductions@gmail.com
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

What we chose to ignore (video; executive orders)

Dandelion Salad

June 05, 2007
From:  aravoth

A brief summary of presidential direc… A brief summary of presidential directives, executive orders, and congressionaly approved bills that where signed into law over the last 40ish years.

And no, this isn’t a bunch of conspiracy nonsense. They are simply facts.

Please vote for someone who does not wipe his/her ass with the Constitution. You really want to let someone like Rudillary McRomney have this kind of power? Make the right choice, or I’ll see you in the soup lines.

h/t: ICH

08.20.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad

Warning

This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Aug. 20, 2007

 For more episodes and other Link TV programs:
http://www.linktv.org/originalseries

“Gul to Win Turkey’s Presidency,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Maliki Meets Assad in Syria,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Electricity Cut off in Gaza,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Palestinians Express Frustration Through Theater,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Iraqi Government Improves Detention Centers,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“Interview with Janjaweed Leader,”Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“A Shawerma Crisis in Jordan,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE

C-SPAN: Rachel Maddow (video; links)

Dandelion Salad

August 21, 2007
From: CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

AUGUST 21, 2007 C-SPAN WASHINGTON JOURNAL
BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQfudriLnKA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4MFPGMnh1Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z1iWNME074

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKGIEYr-fRw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuxl7p8VsfE

“Inshallah” By Cindy Sheehan

By Cindy Sheehan from Amman
Dandelion Salad

featured writer

08/20/07 “Camp Casey Peace Institute

The statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

Chronicle of Young Satan” Mark Twain

The above quote from Mark Twain is how things have always been throughout the ages and throughout our American experience. These sentiments allowed an entire native population to be virtually wiped out and for black Africans to be enslaved for generations. Who cares if 600,000 Filipinos were wiped out during the Spanish-American War to “liberate” them from Spain, but to really have a coaling station for our Navy, or hundreds of thousands of Japanese slaughtered by the evil h-bomb when those people weren’t even white, Christian Americans? Now this slimy rationale is allowing for the decimation of the Iraqi people and we have killed a million during this war to plant permanent bases there as we have permanent military facilities in Japan and the Philippines to this day.

Our small peace delegation that traveled here to Amman, Jordan to meet with refugees and other prominent Iraqis, like physicians and parliamentarians, have been humbled that these oppressed people would turn to us, their oppressors, for help. That they would trust us enough to know that we will help them says a lot about the Iraqi character and just how desperate they are!

Everyone that we have met stabs me in the heart again. We listen to their stories and we apologize on behalf of our country and they all, without fail, look at us with weary smiles filled with resignation of their fate and say: “inshallah” or “If God wills it.” I wish I had that simple faith, but I can’t believe that any God, except George’s God of hatred, destruction, greed, and murder would “will” what is going on here in the Middle East.

I have already written about Bethena whose body and life were torn apart by an American mortar. When we promised to help her, her response was, “Inshallah.”

I met a woman at a hospital yesterday who was kidnapped, tortured and held for a three hundred thousand dollar ransom. When I told her we were trying to help get a hospital for Iraqi people, run by Iraqis, here in Amman, she quietly said: “inshallah,” through her tears.

We have spent a lot of time with an Iraqi parliamentarian whose 10 cousins were slaughtered after “Hamad” had exposed a secret Shi’a prison that imprisoned, tortured, and killed Sunni. His story is on a documentary called “Death Squads.” When I saw the footage of the carnage where his cousins were killed I looked over at him in shock, and you guessed it, he whispered: “inshallah,” to me.

Our group had a meeting in a Jordanian hospital that is allowing Iraqi doctors to work and help the refugees. The doctors explained to us how, if they had their own 50-bed hospital, they could treat the Iraqi refugees here in Amman at about 40% of the cost of what the Jordanian hospital charges the refugees. The doctors all had horror stories of family members being killed, raped, dismembered, displaced and terrorized. We listened to them vent and explained to them that we were truly sorry and that’s why we are here, to help. “Inshallah.”

The most touching meeting at the hospital was by a prominent Iraqi sheikh who had brought another sheikh of an opposite sect to the hospital after he had survived an assassination attempt. The wounded sheikh lie on the hospital bed while the other sheikh stood guard over him. The doctors brought us into the room to dispel the myth of any prior sectarian strife. The Iraqis wanted to assure us that the violence between Iraqis is caused and encouraged by the Americans who want Iraqis fighting each other to create this chaos that allows America to steal their oil and otherwise destroy their country. The sheikh told me that he was sorry about Casey, but he has lost 8 family members and many more dozens of members of his tribe. He encouraged us Americans to rise up against our country and force our government to end the occupation. I told him that we have been trying very hard, but we will try harder. He looked skeptical, because he knows the will of the American public is not to rise up against our government, and he had that same hopeless look on his face that we have encountered repeatedly, but he bit his tongue and said: “Inshallah.”

As we were leaving the hospital, one of the doctors grabbed my hand and also told me that he was sorry about Casey. In a quiet voice, he told me that even though it is sad for me to have lost a son that it was so that I could lead America towards peace and use my sorrow to help the people of Iraq, “inshallah.” I lost my faith after Casey was killed and it is so profound to witness the faith of the Iraqi people when their country has been decimated for no reason, their national treasures and antiquities destroyed or defiled by barbaric acts, one million people dead, six million people displaced, and so many wounded and ill that can’t access medical care. This trip has been so difficult for us as people with hearts, but it has also reminded me how fortunate we are to live in a country that has been almost virtually free from war on our soil for about 150 years, but also so angry that we allow it to happen to other peoples on their land on an almost continuing basis. Also, to think that anything is going to change if a Democrat gets into office is naïve. Bill Clinton is a Democrat who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis more than George. Throughout US History political parties have interchanged the White House and NOTHING has ever changed. The fascist power elite will always use their puppet in the White House to kill other people for their benefit and profit.

The American military has not been victorious in Iraq and we won’t be as long as we are occupying foreign lands. That is a given. If we allow the occupation to continue for a decade, our way of life, as we know it, will die as the Soviet Union did after their decade long farce in Afghanistan. What we are allowing our government to do in the Middle East dishonors and endangers us all. Like the parliamentarian from the city that was totally shattered by the Marines, Falluja, told me: “You Americans are also being held hostage by your government,” and he is right.

As the sheikh told me: We must rise up. We must assert our need for peace with justice, not only to save our troops who are in harm’s way for Halliburton, et al, but for the dear people of Iraq who never asked for the US to “liberate” them. Our governments don’t care about them, or us, so we must care about each other.

Since this is a piece about faith, I would like to close with a prayer, also from Mark Twain.

“O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale form of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it — for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.” The War Prayer.

www.CindyforCongress.org

Camp Casey Peace Institute

h/t: ICH

see:

The War Prayer Video By Mark Twain (vids; cartoon; transcript)

Worship Song – Marc Scibilia with Michael Tait – Live (music video)

Dandelion Salad

August 17, 2007
From: N8M2001

Live from the Fixity CD release conce… Live from the Fixity CD release concert – 8/15/07.

Marc Scibilia

On Myspace

http://www.marcscibilia.com/

h/t: Brandt, The VW Evangelist

The Day the Economy Went Cold Turkey by Stephen P. Pizzo + Market Meltdown (video)

Dandelion Salad

Written by Stephen P. Pizzo
Atlantic Free Press
Monday, 20 August 2007
Did you see what happened last week? I mean did you really see what happened?

What happened was the US economy, and much of the world economy entangled with it, was forced to go cold turkey.

But first a look at how they got hooked on junk in the first place.

For the last five or six years America’s alleged free marketeers took a page from Barry Bonds’ personal play book. America and Americans were already heavy hitters on the world economic stage. But why be satisfied with being just good. Why not leverage our economic strength by pumping it up with artificial wealth – cheap, easy credit.

And so it came to pass.  Debt became the enhancing drug of choice for heavy hitters and wannbe heavy hitters.

And it worked, at least for a while. Even after cutting taxes and increasing spending, a seemingly endless supply of cheap, easy credit flowed in to fund government spending from pushers in Asia.

Corporations took notice and began doing the it too, borrowing, buying other companies, borrowing against those assets, buying more companies, building entire corporate empires upon mountains of debt.

Joe Sixpacks down on Main Street figured they’d like to be heavy hitters too. So they beat a path to credit pushers, their own banks, credit card companies, DiTech and such. Consumers loaded up on the stuff.

And it worked for them too, for a while. They bought all kinds of crap they would otherwise not been able to afford — SUVs, flat panel televisions and, most importantly, houses. If they already owned a house they used it as collateral for more of the stuff, more credit, more debt.

By August 1, 2007 nearly everyone from Washington to K-Mart shoppers were hooked on cheap, easy credit.

Wall Street analysts and government economists downplayed the problem with the standard junkies refrain, “We can stop any time we want.”

Of course they never tried to prove it. They never did stop.

Then suddenly last week their drug of choice dried up. From San Francisco to New York City, from Dog Patch, Idaho to Sacramento, California, from Washington to Hong Kong, London, Germany, France, not a cheap, easy credit pusher in sight.

For three, painfully long days, cheap, easy credit disappeared. And by day-two world markets went into what can only be described as “withdrawals.” Cut off from their picker-upper of choice, banks, mortgage lenders, hedge funds, bonds, mutual funds, home builders and foreign banks began going through the DT’s.

By Thursday things had become so unruly, the whines and cries for “spare change,” gotten so shrill, that the Federal Reserve Bank, the pusher of last resort for credit junkies, finally stepped forward and provided the markets the only thing that would calm them – a booster shot of cheap, easy credit.

What happened next should erase any remaining doubt that America’s free market big talkers have become nothing more than credit addicted phonies. Because, as you may have noticed, their DT’s eased within a hour after the Fed injected their drug of choice – billions of dollars of bargain basement priced credit.

And the Fed did not even try to get these junkies into treatment. On the contrary. The Fed actually sweetened the deal, allowing already debt weakened institutions to get all the credit they say they need to remain afloat at wholesale prices.

But wait, there’s more. The Fed’s fixes are being handed out through what it calls its “overnight discount window.” Discount window Fed loans have traditionally been overnight loans given to banks to smooth the flow of capital between institutions. The loans the Fed approved in the wee hours of Thursday night are 30-day loans.

But wait, there’s more. If, at the end of that 30-day period a bank claims it can’t pay the money back, the Fed says the banks can roll them (renew) them for another 30-days.. and then another and another. And, like the sub-prime rules that allowed unqualified borrowers to get those loans without documentation or other proof of worthiness, the banks endlessly renewing these Fed “loans,” are not required to prove they really need to in order to remain solvent. (A ‘if you can’t beat them, join them,” tactic by the Fed.)

But wait, there’s more. Since there was suddenly no market for the billions in mortgages and mortgage backed securities these banks were saddled with, the Fed, for the first time, allowed the banks to use those now nearly worthless assets as collateral against which troubled institutions can borrow even more cheap, easy terms money.

Well! Nothing quite perks up a junkie like a fresh fix! The DOW index soared the moment markets opened Friday morning.

And our Euopean co-dependents felt the rush too:

Paris shares soar on news of Fed discount rate cut; banks lead charge

PARIS (Thomson Financial) – Share prices rebounded in spectacular fashion in afternoon trading following the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut its discount on loans to banks to 5.75 pct from 6.25 pct, citing increasing risks to economic growth, market sources said.Announcing the rate cut, the Fed stated: ‘Financial market conditions have deteriorated, and tighter credit conditions and increased uncertainty have the potential to restrain economic growth going forward.’ (Full)

Of course, all the Fed accomplished Thursday was to temporarily stabilize all those twitching credit addicts.  They also managed to reinforce the irresponsible behavior that has created a world economy all hopped up on credit-juice. In the weeks ahead expect the Fed to pump more of the stuff into the body-economic by lowering interest rates.

What’s really needed is a tough-love intervention. But, with a national election just over a year away don’t expect anyone, in either party, to tell credit junkies, from Countrywide Mortgage to CitiBank to Uncle Sam himself, they need to get off the junk and back to basics.

Of course, anyone who knows a junkie or an alcoholic understands that sooner of later such matters take care of themselves. Rock bottom looms in the future of every untreated junkie. It’s not a matter of if, but when. It’s an ugly way to get the message. But for the worst of the worst, it’s often the only way.

Unfortunately, when this mega-addict plummets into that pit the rest of us are going to be sucked along by the downdraft.

***

MARKET MELTDOWN

August 06, 2007
From:  claytonia8

h/t: Atlantic Free Press

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

The Iraq War As We See It By Buddhika Jayamaha

Dandelion Salad
By Buddhika Jayamaha
ICH
08/20/07 “IHT

Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is surreal.

Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched.

As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins.

It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: Had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.

Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.

However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: One of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, a U.S. Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on August 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse – namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in flux.

The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the British and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.

Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made – de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government – places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.

Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party – as we do now – will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.

The most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in communities barricaded with concrete walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal. In an environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act.

Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are – an army of occupation – and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

Buddhika Jayamaha is a U.S. Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant.

Copyright © 2007 the International Herald Tribune

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

The Empire And The Independent Island By Fidel Castro

Dandelion Salad

By Fidel Castro

ICH

08/20/07 “CNA


The history of Cuba during the last 140 years is one of struggle to preserve national identity and independence, and the history of the evolution of the American empire, its constant craving to appropriate Cuba and of the horrendous methods that it uses today to hold on to world domination.

 

Prominent Cuban historians have dealt in depth with these subjects in different periods and in various excellent books which deserve to be readily available to our compatriots.  These reflections are addressed especially to the new generations with the aim of helping them learn about very important and decisive events in the destiny of our homeland.

 

Part I:  The Imposition of the Platt Amendment as an appendix to the Neocolonial Cuban Constitution of 1901.

 

The “ripe fruit doctrine” was formulated in 1823 by Secretary of State and later President John Quincy Adams.  The United States would inevitably achieve taking over our country, by the law of political influence, once colonial subordination to Spain had ended.

 

Under the pretext of blowing up the “Maine” –a still unraveled event of which it took advantage to wage war against Spain, like the Gulf of Tonkin incident, an event which was demonstrably prefabricated in order to attack North Vietnam –President William McKinley signed the Joint Resolution of April 20, 1898, stating “…that the people on the island of Cuba are and by right ought to be free and independent”,  “… that the United States herewith declare that they have no desire or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said island, except for pacification thereof, and they affirm their determination, after this has been accomplished, to leave the government and control of the island to its people.”  The Joint Resolution entitled the President to use force to remove the Spanish government from Cuba.

 

Colonel Leonard Wood, chief commander of the Rough Riders, and Theodore Roosevelt, second in command of the expansionist volunteers who landed in our country on the beaches close to Santiago de Cuba, after the brave but poorly utilized Spanish squadron and their Marine infantry on board had been destroyed by the American battleships, requested the support of Cuban insurrectionists who had weakened and defeated the Spanish Colonial Army after enormous sacrifices. The Rough Riders had landed without horses.

 

Following the defeat of Spain, representatives of the Queen Regent of Spain and of the President of the United States signed the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 and, without consulting of the Cuban people, agreed that Spain should relinquish all claim of sovereignty over and title to the island and would evacuate it.  Cuba would then be occupied by the United States on a temporary basis.

 

Already appointed U.S. military governor, Army Major General Leonard Wood, issued Military Order 301 of July 25, 1900, which called for a general election to choose delegates to a Constitutional Assembly that would be held in the city of Havana at twelve noon on the first Monday of November in 1900, with the purpose of drafting and adopting a Constitution for the people of Cuba.

 

On September 15, 1900, elections took place and 31 delegates from the National, Republican and Democratic Union parties were elected.  On November 5, 1900, the Constitutional Convention held its opening session at the Irijoa Theatre of Havana which on that occasion received the name of Martí Theatre.

 

General Wood, representing the President of the United States, declared the Assembly officially installed.  Wood advanced the intention of the United States government:  “After you have drawn up the relations which, in your opinion, ought to exist between Cuba and the United States, the government of the United States will undoubtedly adopt the measures conducive to a final and authorized treaty between the peoples of both nations, aimed at promoting the growth of their common interests.” The 1901 Constitution provided in its Article 2 that “the territory of the Republic is composed of the Island of Cuba, as well as the islands and neighboring keys which together were under Spanish sovereignty until the ratification of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898”.

 

Once the Constitution was drafted, the time had come to define political relations between Cuba and the United States.  To that end, on February 12, 1901, a committee of five members was appointed and charged with studying and proposing a procedure that would lead to the stated goal.

 

On February 15, Governor Wood invited the members of the committee to go fishing and hosted a banquet in Batabanó, the main access route to the Isle of Pines, as it was known then, also occupied at that time by the U.S. troops which had intervened in the Cuban War of Independence.  It was there in Batabanó that he revealed to them a letter from the Secretary of War, Elihu Root, containing the basic aspects of the future Platt Amendment. According to instructions from Washington, relations between Cuba and the United States were to abide by several aspects.  The fifth of these was that, in order to make it easier for the United States to fulfill such tasks as were placed under its responsibility by the above mentioned provisions, and for its own defense, the United States could acquire title, and preserve it, for lands to be used for naval bases and maintain these in certain specific points.

 

Upon learning of the conditions demanded by the U.S. government, the Cuban Constitutional Assembly, on February 27, 1901, passed a position that was opposed to that of the U.S. Executive, eliminating therein the establishment of naval bases.

 

The U.S. government made an agreement with Orville H. Platt, Republican Senator from Connecticut, to present an amendment to the proposed Army Appropriations Bill which would make the establishment of American naval bases on Cuban soil a fait accompli.

 

In the Amendment, passed by the U.S. Senate on February 27, 1901 and by the House of Representatives on March 1, and sanctioned by President McKinley the following day, as a rider attached to the “Bill granting credit to the Army for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1902,” the article mentioning the naval bases was drafted as follows:

 

“Art. VII.- That to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon with the President of the United States.”

 

Article VIII adds:  “…the government of Cuba will embody the foregoing provisions in a permanent treaty with the United States.”

 

The speedy passage of the Amendment by the U.S. Congress was due to the circumstance of it coming close to the conclusion of the legislative term and to the fact that President McKinley had a clear majority in both Houses so that the Amendment could be passed without any problem.  It became a United States Law when, on March 4, McKinley was sworn in for his second presidential term in office.

 

Some members of the Constitutional Convention maintained the view that they were not empowered to adopt the Amendment requested by the United States since this implied limitations on the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba.  Thus, the military governor Leonard Wood hastened to issue a new Military Order on March 12, 1901 where it was declared that the Convention was empowered to adopt the measures whose constitutionality was in question.

 

Other Convention members, such as Manuel Sanguily, held the opinion that the Assembly should be dissolved rather than adopt measures that so drastically offended the dignity and sovereignty of the people of Cuba.  But during the session of March 7, 1901, a committee was appointed yet again in order to draft an answer to Governor Wood; the presentation of this was entrusted to Juan Gualberto Gómez who recommended, among other things, rejecting the clause concerning the leasing of coaling or naval stations.

 

Juan Gualberto Gómez maintained the most severe criticism of the Platt Amendment.  On April 1, he tabled a debate of the presentation where he challenged the document on the grounds that it contravened the principles of the Treaty of Paris and of the Joint Resolution.  But the Convention suspended the debate on Juan Gualberto Gómez’s presentation and decided to send another committee “to ascertain the motives and intentions of the government of the United States about any and all details referring to the establishment of a definitive order to relations, both political and economic, between Cuba and the United States, and to negotiate with the government itself, the bases for agreement on those extremes that would be proposed to the Convention for a final solution.”

 

Subsequently, a committee was elected that would travel to Washington, made up of Domingo Méndez Capote, Diego Tamayo, Pedro González Llorente, Rafael Portuondo Tamayo and Pedro Betancourt;  they arrived in the United States on April 24, 1901.  The next day, they met with Root and Wood who had earlier traveled back to his country for this purpose.

 

The American government hastened to publicly declare that the committee would be visiting Washington on their own initiative, with no invitation or official status.

 

Root, Secretary of War, met with the committee on April 25 and 26, 1901 and categorically informed them that “the United States’ right to impose the much debated clauses had been proclaimed for three-quarters of a century in the face of the American and European world and they were not willing to give it up to the point of putting their own safety in jeopardy.”

 

United States officials reiterated that none of the Platt Amendment clauses undermined the sovereignty and independence of Cuba; on the contrary, they would preserve them, and it was clarified that intervention would only occur in the case of severe disturbances, and only with the objective of maintaining order and internal peace.

 

The committee presented its report in a secret session on May 7, 1901.  Within the committee there were severe discrepancies about the Platt Amendment.

 

On May 28, a paper drafted by Villuendas, Tamayo and Quesada was tabled for debate; it accepted the Amendment with some clarifications and recommended the signing of a treaty on trade reciprocity.

 

This paper was approved by a vote of 15 to 14, but the United States government didn’t accept that solution. It informed through Governor Wood that it would only accept the Amendment without qualifiers, and  warned the Convention with an ultimatum that, since the Platt Amendment was “a statute passed by the Legislature of the United States, the President is obliged to carry it out as it is.  He cannot change or alter it, add or take anything out. The executive action demanded by the statute is the withdrawal of the American Army from Cuba, and the statute authorizes this action when, and only when, a Constitutional government has been established which contains, either in its body or in appendices, certain categorical provisions, specified in the statute (…)  Then if these provisions are found in the Constitution, the President will be authorized to withdraw the Army;  if  he does not find them there, then he will not be authorized to withdraw the Army…” The United States Secretary of War sent a letter to the Cuban Constitutional Assembly where he stated that the Platt Amendment should be passed in its entirety with no clarifications, because in that way it would appear as a rider to the Army Appropriations Bill; he indicated that, otherwise, his country’s military forces would not be pulled out of Cuba.

 

On June 12, 1901, during another secret session of the Constitutional Assembly, the incorporation of the Platt Amendment as an appendix to the Constitution of the Republic passed on February 21 was put to the vote:  16 delegates voted aye and 11 voted nay.  Bravo Correoso, Robau, Gener and Rius Rivera were absent from the session, abstaining from voting in favor of such a monstrosity.

 

The worst thing about the Amendment was the hypocrisy, the deceit, the Machiavellianism and the cynicism with which they concocted the plan to take over Cuba, to the lengths of publicly proclaiming the same arguments made by John Quincy Adams in 1823, about the apple which would fall because of gravity.  This apple finally did fall, but it was rotten, just as many Cuban intellectuals had foreseen for almost half a century, from José Martí in the 1880’s right up to Julio Antonio Mella, assassinated in January of 1929. 

 

Nobody better than Leonard Wood himself to describe what the Platt Amendment would mean for Cuba in two sections of a confidential letter to his fellow in the adventure, Theodore Roosevelt, dated on October 28, 1901:

 

“There is, of course, little or no independence left Cuba under the Platt Amendment. (…) the only consistent thing to do now is to seek annexation.  This, however, will take some time, and during the period which Cuba maintains her own government, it is most desirable that she should be able to maintain such a one as will tend to her advancement and betterment.  She cannot make certain treaties without our consent (…) and must maintain certain sanitary conditions (…), from all of which it is quite apparent that she is absolutely in our hands, and I believe that no European government for a moment considers that she is otherwise than a practical dependency of the United States, and as such is certainly entitled to our consideration.  (…) With the control which we have over Cuba, a control which will soon undoubtedly become possession, (…) we shall soon practically control the sugar trade of the world.  (…) the island will (…) gradually become Americanized and we shall have in time one of the richest and most desirable possessions in the world.”

 

Part II: The Application of the Platt Amendment and the Establishing of the Guantanamo Naval Base as a Framework for Relations between Cuba and the United States.

 

By the end of 1901, the electoral process which resulted in the triumph of Tomás Estrada Palma, without opposition and with the support of 47 percent of the electorate, had begun. On April 17, 1902, the President-elect in absentia left the United States for Cuba where he arrived three days later.  The inauguration of the new President took place on May 20, 1902 at 12 noon.  The Congress of the Republic had already been constituted.  Leonard Wood set sail for his country in the battleship “Brooklyn”.     In 1902, shortly before the proclamation of the Republic, the United States government informed the newly elected President of the Island about the four sites selected for the establishing of naval bases -Cienfuegos, Bahía Honda, Guantanamo and Nipe – as provided by the Platt Amendment.  Not even the Port of Havana escaped consideration since it was contemplated as “the most favorable for the fourth naval base”.

 

From the beginning, despite its spurious origins, the Government of Cuba, in which many of those who fought for independence participated, was opposed to the concession of four naval bases since it considered two to be more than enough.  The situation grew tenser when the Cuban government toughened its stand and demanded the final drafting of the Permanent Agreement on Relations, with the goal of “determining at the same time and not in parts, all the details that were the object of the Platt Amendment and setting the range of their precepts”.     President McKinley had died in September 14, 1901 as a result of gunshot wounds he had sustained on the 6th of that month.  Theodore Roosevelt had advanced to such a degree in his political career that he was already Vice President of the United States and so he had assumed the presidency after the shooting of his predecessor.  Roosevelt, at that time did not deem it to be convenient to specify the scope of the Platt Amendment, so as not to delay the military installation of the Guantanamo Base, given what that would mean for the defense of the Canal whose construction France had begun and later abandoned in the Central American Isthmus, and which the voracious government of the empire intended to complete at all costs. Nor was he interested in defining the legal status of the Isle of Pines.  Therefore, he abruptly reduced the number of naval bases under discussion, removed the Port of Havana suggestion and finally agreed to the concession of two bases: Guantanamo and Bahía Honda.

 

Subsequently, in compliance with Article VII of the constitutional appendix imposed on the Constitutional Convention, the Agreement was signed by the Presidents of Cuba and the United States on February 16 and 23, 1903, respectively:

 

“Article I. –  The Republic of Cuba hereby leases to the United States, for the time required for the purposes of coaling and naval stations, the following described areas of land and water situated in the Island of Cuba:

 

“1st. In Guantanamo”…(A complete description of the bay and neighboring territory is made.)

 

“2nd. In Bahia Honda…” (Another similar description is made.)

 

This Agreement establishes:

 

“Article III. –While on the one hand the United States recognizes the continuance of the ultimate sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba over the above described areas of land and water, on the other hand the Republic of Cuba consents that during the period of the occupation by the United States of said areas under the terms of this agreement the United States shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control over and within said areas with the right to acquire for the public purposes of the United States any land or other property therein by purchase or by exercise of eminent domain with full compensation to the owners thereof.”

 

On May 28, 1903, surveying began to establish the boundaries of the Guantanamo Naval Station. In the Agreement of July 2, 1903, dealing with the same subject, the “Regulations for the Lease of Naval and Coaling Stations” was passed:

 

“Article I.- The United States of America agrees and covenants to pay the Republic of Cuba the annual sum of two thousand dollars, in gold coin of the United States, as long as the former shall occupy and use said areas of land by virtue of said agreement.”

 

“All private lands and other real property within said areas shall be acquired forthwith by the Republic of Cuba.”

 

“The United States of America agrees to furnish to the Republic of Cuba the sums necessary for the purchase of said private lands and properties and such sums shall be accepted by the Republic of Cuba as advance payment on account of rental due by virtue of said Agreement.”

 

The Agreement which governed this lease, signed in Havana by representatives of the Presidents of Cuba and the United States respectively, was passed by the Cuban Senate on July 16, 1903, ratified by the President of Cuba a month later on August 16, and by the President of the United States on October 2, and after exchanging ratifications in Washington on October 6, it was published in the Gazette of Cuba on the 12th of the same month and year.

 

Dated on December 14, 1903, it was informed that four days earlier on the 10th of the same month, the United States had been given possession of the areas of water and land for the establishing of a naval station in Guantanamo. For the United States Government and Navy, the transfer of part of the territory of the largest island in the Antilles was a source of great rejoicing and they intended to celebrate the event.  Vessels belonging to the Caribbean Squadron and some battleships from the North Atlantic Fleet converged on Guantanamo.

 

The Cuban government appointed the Head of Public Works of Santiago de Cuba to deliver that part of the territory over which it technically exercised sovereignty on December 10, 1903, the date chosen by the United States.  He would be the only Cuban present at the ceremony and just for a brief time since, once his mission was accomplished, without any toasts or handshakes, he left for the neighboring town of Caimanera.

 

The Head of Public Works had boarded the battleship “Kearsage”, which was the U.S. flagship, where he met Rear Admiral Barker.  At 12:00 hours a 21-gun-salute was given and along with the notes of the Cuban National Anthem, the Cuban flag which had been flying on board that vessel was lowered, and immediately the United States flag was hoisted on land, at the point called Playa del Este, with an equal number of salvos, thus concluding the ceremony.

 

According to the articles of the Agreement, the United States was to dedicate the leased lands exclusively for public use, not being able to establish any type of business or industry.     The U.S. authorities in said territories and the Cuban authorities mutually agreed to surrender fugitives from justice charged with crimes or misdemeanors subject to the laws of each party, as long as it was required by the authorities who would be judging them.

 

Materials imported into the areas belonging to said naval stations for their own use and consumption would be exempt from customs duties, or any other kind of fees, to the Republic of Cuba.

 

The lease of these naval stations included the right to use and occupy the waters adjacent to said areas of land and water, to improve and deepen the entrances to them and their anchorages and for anything else that would be necessary for the exclusive use to which they were dedicated.

 

Even though the United States acknowledged the continuation of Cuba’s definitive sovereignty over those areas of water and land, it would exercise, with Cuba’s consent, “complete jurisdiction and domain” over said areas while they occupied them according to the other already quoted stipulations.

 

In the so-called Permanent Treaty of May 22, 1903, signed by the governments of the Republic of Cuba and the United States, future relations between both nations were detailed:  in other words, what Manuel Márquez Sterling would call “the intolerable yoke of the Platt Amendment” was thus put firmly in place.

 

The Permanent Treaty, signed by both countries, was approved by the United States Senate on March 22, 1904 and by the Cuban Senate on June 8 of that year, and the ratifications were exchanged in Washington on June 1st, 1904.  Therefore, the Platt Amendment is an amendment to an American law, an appendix to the Cuban Constitution of 1901 and a permanent treaty between both countries.

 

The experiences acquired with the Guantanamo Naval Base were useful to apply measures in Panama that were equal or worse, in the case of the Canal.      In the United States Congress, it is customary to introduce amendments, whenever a law which is of urgent necessity for its content and importance is being debated. This frequently obliges legislators to put aside or sacrifice any conflicting criteria. Such amendments have more than once affected the sovereignty for which our people tirelessly struggle.

 

In 1912, the Cuban Secretary of State, Manuel Sanguily, negotiated a new treaty with the U.S. State Department whereby the United States would relinquish its rights over Bahia Honda in exchange for enlarging the boundaries of the Guantanamo station.

 

That same year, when the uprising of the Partido de los Independientes de Color (Independent Colored Party) took place, which the Liberal Party government of President José Miguel Gómez brutally repressed, American troops came out of the Guantanamo Naval Base and occupied several towns in the former Oriente Province, near the cities of Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba, with the pretext of “protecting the lives and properties of U.S. citizens”. In 1917, because of the uprising known as “La Chambelona” carried out by the elements of the Liberal Party in Oriente who were opposed to the electoral fraud that had re-elected President Mario García Menocal of the Conservative Party, Yankee regiments from the Base headed for various points in that province of Cuba, under the pretext of “protecting the Base water supply”.

 

Part III:  The Formal Repeal of the Platt Amendment and Continued Presence of the Guantanamo Naval Base.

 

The advent of the Democratic administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the United States in 1933 opened the way to a necessary accommodation of the relationship of domination that the U.S. exercised over Cuba.  The fall of the Gerardo Machado’s tyranny under the pressure of a powerful popular movement, and the subsequent installation of a provisional government headed by the university professor of physiology, Ramón Grau San Martin, were a serious obstacle to the achievement of the program demanded by the people.

 

On November 24, 1933, U.S. President Roosevelt issued an official statement encouraging the intrigues of Batista and Sumner Welles, the Ambassador to Havana, against Grau’s government. These included the offer to sign a new commercial treaty and repeal the Platt Amendment.  Roosevelt explained that “…any Provisional Government in Cuba in which the Cuban people show their confidence would be welcome”.  The impatience of the U.S, administration to get rid of Grau was growing, as from mid-November the influence of a young anti-imperialist, Antonio Guiteras, was increasing in the government, which would take many of its more radical steps in the weeks to come.  It was necessary to swiftly overthrow that government.

 

On December 13, 1933, Ambassador Sumner Welles returned definitively to Washington and was substituted five days later by Jefferson Caffery.

 

On January 13-14, 1934, Batista convened and presided over a military meeting at Columbia, where he proposed to oust Grau and appoint Colonel Carlos Mendieta y Montefur, which was agreed to by the so-called Columbia Military Junta.  Grau San Martin presented his resignation at dawn on January 15, 1934 and left for exile in Mexico on the 20th of the same month.  Thus, on January 18, 1934, Mendieta was installed as President after the coup d’état.  Although the Mendieta administration had been recognized by the United States on January 23rd of that year, actually the fate of the country was in the hands of Ambassador Caffery and Batista.

 

The overthrow of the Grau San Martin provisional government in January 1934, as a result of internal contradictions and a whole series of pressures, maneuvers and aggressions wielded against it by imperialism and its local allies, meant a first and indispensable step towards the imposition of an oligarchic-imperialistic alternative to solve the Cuban national crisis.

 

The government headed by Mendieta would take on the task of adjusting the bonds of the country’s neo-colonial dependency.

 

Neither the oligarchy reinstated in power, nor the Washington government, were in position to ignore the feelings of the Cuban people towards neocolonialism and its instruments.  Nor was the United States unaware of the importance of the support of Latin American governments –Cuba among them– in the already foreseeable confrontation with other emerging imperialist powers such as Germany and Japan.   The new process would include formulae to ensure the renewed functioning of the neocolonial system.  The “Good Neighbor” policy was very mindful of Latin American opposition to Washington’s open interventionism in the hemisphere.  The aim of Roosevelt’s policy was to portray a new image in its hemispheric relations through the “good neighbor” diplomatic formula.

 

As one of the adjustment measures, on May 29, 1934 a new U.S.-Cuba Relations Treaty, modifying the one of May 22, 1903, was signed by the other Roosevelt, perhaps a distant relative of he who had landed in Cuba with the Rough Riders. 

 

Two days earlier, on May 27, at 10:30 a.m., when United States Ambassador Jefferson Caffery was getting ready, as was his custom, to leave his residence in the Alturas de Almendares, he was the target of an assassination attempt; three shots were fired by several unidentified individuals from a car.  The next day, May 28th, at noon, as it was driving along Quinta Avenida in the Miramar district, the car assigned to the First Secretary of the United States Embassy, H. Freeman Matthews, after having dropped off the diplomat at the Embassy, was attacked by several individuals traveling in a car and armed with machine guns.  One of them approached the chauffeur and told him that he should let Matthews know that he was giving him one week to get out of Cuba:  then he smashed the windshield of the car and sped off. 

 

These acts that revealed a general climate of anti-United States hostility could have precipitated the signing of the new Relations Treaty that proposed the alleged end of the unpopular Platt Amendment.

 

The new Relations Treaty provided for the suppression of the right of the United States to intervene in Cuba and that:

 

“The United States of America and the Republic of Cuba, being animated by the desire to fortify the relations of friendship between the two countries and to modify, with this purpose, the relations established between them by the Treaty of Relations signed in Havana, May 22, 1903, (…) have agreed upon the following articles:

 

 (…)

 

“Article 3.- Until the two contracting parties agree to the modifications or abrogation of the stipulations of the agreement in regard to the lease to the United States of America of lands in Cuba for coaling and naval stations signed by the President of the Republic of Cuba on February 16, 1903, and by the President of the United States of America on the 23rd day of the same month and year, the stipulations of that agreement with regard to the naval stations of Guantanamo shall continue in effect in the same form and conditions with respect to the naval station at Guantanamo.  So long as the United States of America shall not abandon the said naval station of Guantanamo or the two Governments shall not agree to a modification of its present limits, the station shall continue to have territorial area that it now has, with the limits that it has on the date of the signature of the present Treaty.”

 

The United States Senate ratified the new Relations Treaty on June 1, 1934, and Cuba on June 4.  Five days later, on June 9, ratifications of the Relations Treaty of May 29th of the same year were exchanged, and with that the Platt Amendment was formally repealed, but the Guantanamo Naval Base remained.

 

The new Treaty legalized the de facto situation of the Guantanamo naval station, thus rescinding the part of the agreements of February 16 and 23 and July 2 of 1903 between the two countries relating to the lands and waters in Bahia Honda, and the part that referred to the waters and lands of the Guantanamo station was amended, in the sense that they were enlarged.

 

The United States maintained its naval station in Guantanamo as a strategic surveillance and control site, in order to ensure its political and economic predominance in the Caribbean and Central America and to defend the Panama Canal.

 

 Part IV:  The Guantanamo Naval Base from the formal end of the Platt Amendment until the Triumph of the Revolution.

 

After the signing of the Treaty of Relations of 1934, the territory of the “naval station” underwent a gradual fortifying and equipping process until, in the spring of 1941, the Base became established as an operational naval station with the following structure:  naval station, air naval station and Marines Corps Base and warehouse facilities.

 

On June 6, 1934 the United States Senate had passed a bill which would authorize the Secretary of the Navy to sign a long-term contract with a company that would undertake to supply adequate water to the Naval Base in Guantanamo; however, prior to this, American plans already existed for the construction of an aqueduct which would bring in water from the Yateras River.

 

Expansion continued, and by 1943 other facilities were constructed by contracting the Frederick Snare Company. This hired 9,000 civilian workers, many of them Cubans.

 

Another year of tremendous expansion of the military and civilian facilities on the Base was 1951.  In 1952, the United States Secretary of the Navy decided to change the name of the U.S. Naval Operating Base to “U.S. Naval Base”; by that time its structure already included a Training Center.

 

The Constitution of 1940, the Revolutionary Struggle and Guantanamo Naval Base until December 1958.

 

The period between the end of 1937 and 1940 was characterized, from a political point of view, by the adoption of measures that allowed for elections for the Constitutional Assembly to be called and for them to take place.  The reason why Batista agreed to these democratizing measures was that it was in his interest to move towards the establishment of formulae that would allow him to remain at the center of political decisions, and thus ensure the continuity of his power within the new order arising under the formulae that he had implemented.  At the beginning of 1938 the agreement between Batista and Grau to install a Constitutional Assembly was made public.  The Constitutional Convention, inaugurated on February 9, 1940, concluded its sessions on June 8 of that same year.

 

The Constitution was signed on July 1st, 1940 and promulgated on July 5 that same year.  The new Law of Laws established that “the territory of the Republic consists of the Island of Cuba, the Isle of Pines and other adjacent islands and keys, which were under the sovereignty of Spain until the ratification of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.  The Republic of Cuba shall not conclude or ratify pacts or treaties that in any form limit or undermine national sovereignty or the integrity of the territory”.

 

The oligarchy would strive to prevent the materialization of the more advanced principles in this Constitution or at least to restrict their application to a maximum.

 

Part V: The Guantanamo Naval Base since the Triumph of the Revolution.

 

Since the triumph of the Revolution, the Revolutionary Government has denounced the illegal occupation of that portion of our territory.

 

On the other hand, since January 1st, 1959, the United States turned the usurped territory of the Guantanamo Naval Base into a permanent source of threats, provocation and violation of Cuba’s sovereignty, with the aim of creating trouble for the victorious revolutionary process.  Said Base has always been present in the plans and operations conceived by Washington to overthrow the Revolutionary Government.

 

All kinds of aggressions have come from the Naval Base:   Dropping of inflammable materials over free territory from planes flying out of the Base. Provocations by American soldiers, including insults, the throwing of stones and cans filled with inflammable materials and the firing of pistols and automatic weapons. Violations of Cuban jurisdictional waters and Cuban territory by American military vessels and aircraft from the Base. Plans for self-aggression on the Base that would provoke a large-scale armed struggle between Cuba and the United States.   Registering the radio frequencies used at the Base in the International Frequency Registry in the space corresponding to Cuba.

 

On January 12, 1961, the worker Manuel Prieto Gómez who had been employed at the Base for more than 3 years was savagely tortured by Yankee soldiers on the Guantanamo Naval Base, for the “crime” of being a revolutionary.

 

On October 15 of that same year, the Cuban worker Rubén López Sabariego was tortured and subsequently murdered.

 

On June 24, 1962, Rodolfo Rosell Salas, a fisherman from Caimanera, was murdered by soldiers at the Base.     Likewise, the devious intent of fabricating a self-provocation and deploying American troops in a “justified” punitive invasion of Cuba has always been a volatile element at Guantanamo Base.  We can find an example of this in one of the actions included in the so-called “Operation Mongoose”, when on September 3, 1962 American soldiers stationed in Guantanamo would shoot at Cuban sentries.

 

During the Missile Crisis, the Base was reinforced in terms of military technology and troops; manpower grew to more than 16,000 Marines.  Given the decision of Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev to withdraw the nuclear missiles stationed in Cuba without previously either consulting or informing the Revolutionary Government, Cuba defined the unshakeable position of the Revolution in what came to be known as the “Five Points”.  The fifth point demanded withdrawal from the Guantanamo Naval Base.  We were on the brink of a thermonuclear war, where we would be the prime target as a consequence of the imperial policy of taking over Cuba.

 

On February 11, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson reduced the number of Cuban personnel working at the Base by approximately 700 workers.  They also confiscated the accumulated retirement funds of hundreds of Cuban workers who had been employed on the Base and illegally suspended payments of pensions to retired Cuban workers.

 

On July 19, 1964, in a blatant provocation made by American border guards against the Cuban border patrol sentries, Ramón López Peña, a young 17-year-old soldier, was murdered at close range while he was on guard in the sentry-box.     On May 21, 1966, and in similar circumstances, soldier Luis Ramírez López was murdered by shots from the Base.

 

In hardly three weeks of the month of May in 1980, more than 80,000 men, 24 vessels and some 350 combat aircraft took part in Solid Shield-80 exercises; as part of its dynamic, this included the landing of 2,000 Marines at the Naval Base and the reinforcement of the facility with an additional 1200 troops.

 

In October 1991, during the 4th Communist Party Congress in Santiago de Cuba, planes and helicopters from the Base violated Cuban air space over the city.

 

In 1994, the Base served as a support station for the invasion of Haiti: American air force planes used Base airports for this.  More than 45,000 Haitian emigrants were kept on the Base until mid-1995.

 

Also in 1994, the well-known migration crisis was produced as a result of the tightening up of the blockade and the tough years of the Special Period, the non-compliance with the Migratory Agreement of 1984 signed with the Reagan Administration, the considerable reduction in the number of visas granted and the encouragement of illegal emigration, including the Cuban Adjustment Act signed by President Johnson more than four decades ago.

 

As a result of the crisis created, a declaration made by President Clinton on August 19, 1994 transformed the Base into a migratory concentration camp for the Cuban rafters, in numbers close to 30,000.

 

Finally, on September 9, 1994 a Joint Communiqué was signed by the Clinton administration and the Cuban government. This saw the United States committing to prevent the entry into its territory of intercepted illegal emigrants and to issue a minimum of 20,000 annual visas for safety travel to the United States.

 

On May 2, 1995, as part of the migratory negotiations, the governments of Cuba and the United States also agreed what on this occasion was called a Joint Declaration establishing the procedure for returning to Cuba all those who continued trying to illegally migrate to the United States and were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard.           Notice the specific reference to the illegal emigrants intercepted by the Coast Guards. Thus the basis had been laid of a sinister business: the traffic of persons. The Murderous Act was maintained, thus turning Cuba into the only country in the world subjected to such harassment. While approximately 250 thousand people have safely traveled to that country, an incalculable number of women, children and people of all ages have lost their lives as a result of the prosperous traffic of emigrants.

 

Following an agreement by the two governments, as from the migratory crisis of 1994, regular meetings between the military commands of each side were initiated.  A strip of mined territory would sometimes be flooded by tropical rainstorms and overflowing rivers.  On many occasions our sappers had put their lives in danger to save persons who were crossing the restricted military zone in that area, even with children.

 

The Guantanamo Naval Base since the enactment of the Helms-Burton Act.

 

This Act, signed by President William Clinton on March 12, 1996, in its Title II about “Assistance to a Free and Independent Cuba”, Section 201 related to the “policy toward a transition government and a democratically elected government in Cuba”, establishes in its Point 12 that the United States must “be prepared to enter into negotiations with a democratically elected government in Cuba either to return the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo to Cuba or to renegotiate the present agreement under mutually agreeable terms”. Something worse than what was planned by military governor Leonard Wood, who had landed on foot along with Theodore Roosevelt in the proximity of Santiago de Cuba: the idea of having an annexationist of Cuban descent administrating our country.

 

The War in Kosovo in 1999 resulted in a great number of Kosovar refugees.  The Clinton government, embroiled in that NATO war against Serbia, made the decision to use the Base to accommodate a number of them, and on this occasion, for the first time, with no previous consultation whatsoever as usual, it informed Cuba of the decision made.  Our answer was constructive.  Even though we were opposed to the unjust and illegal conflict, we had no grounds on which to oppose the humanitarian aid needed by the Kosovar refugees.  We even offered our country’s cooperation, if it should be needed, in terms of medical care or any other service they might need.  Finally, the Kosovar refugees were never sent to the Guantanamo Naval Base.

 

The manifesto called “The Oath of Baraguá” of February 19, 2000 expressed that “in due time, since it no longer constitutes a prioritized objective at this moment even though the right of our people is very just and cannot be waived; the  illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo must be returned to Cuba.”  At that time, we were involved in the struggle for the return of the kidnapped boy and the economic consequences of the brutal blockade.

 

The Guantanamo Naval Base since September 11.

 

On September 18, 2001, President Bush signed United States Congress legislation authorizing the use of force as a response to the September 11 attacks.  Bush used this legislation as a basis to sign a Military Order on November 13 of that same year which would establish the legal bases for arrests and trials by military tribunals of individuals who didn’t hold U.S. citizenship, as part of the “war on terrorism”.

 

On January 8, 2002 the United States officially informed Cuba that they would be using the Guantanamo Naval Base as a detention center for Afghan war prisoners. 

 

Three days later, on January 11, 2002, the first 20 detainees arrived, and the figure reached the number of 776 prisoners coming from 48 countries.  Of course none of these data were mentioned.  We assumed they were Afghan war prisoners. The first planes were landing full of prisoners, and many more guards than prisoners. On the same day, the government of Cuba issued a public declaration indicating its willingness to cooperate with medical assistance services as required, clean-up programs and a fight against mosquitoes and pests in the area surrounding the base which is under our control, or any other useful, constructive and humane measure that might come up.  I remember the data because I was personally involved in details concerning the Note presented by the MINREX in response to the United States Note. We were very far from imagining at that moment that the U.S. government was getting ready to create a horrendous torture center at that base.     The Socialist Constitution proclaimed on February 24, 1976 had set forth in its Article 11, section c) that “the Republic of Cuba repudiates and considers as null and illegal those treaties, pacts or concessions concerted under conditions of inequality or which disregard or diminish her sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

 

On June 10, 2002, the people of Cuba, in an unprecedented process of popular referendum, ratified the socialist content of that Constitution of 1976 as a response to the meddling and offensive expressions of the President of the United States. Likewise, it mandated the National People’s Power Assembly to amend it so that it would expressly state, inter alia, the irrevocable principle which must govern the economic, diplomatic and political relations of our country with other states, by adding to the same Article 11, section c):  “Economic, diplomatic and political relations with any other State may never be negotiated under aggression, threat or coercion by a foreign power.”

 

After the Proclamation to the People of Cuba was made public on July 31, 2006, the U.S. authorities have declared that they do not hope for a migration crisis but that they are pre-emptively preparing to face one, with the use of the Guantanamo Naval Base as a concentration camp for illegal migrants intercepted in the high seas being a consideration.  In public declarations, information reveals that the United States is expanding its civilian buildings on the Base with the aim of increasing their capacity to receive the illegal emigrants. Cuba, for her part, has taken all possible measures to avoid incidents between the armed forces of both countries, and has declared that she is abiding by the commitments contained in the Joint Declaration on migratory issues signed with the Clinton administration.  Why is there so much talking, threats and brouhaha?

 

The symbolic annual payment of $3,386.25 for the lease of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base was maintained until 1972 when the Americans adjusted it themselves to $3,676.  In 1973, a new adjustment was made for the value of the old U.S. Gold dollar, and for that reason the cheque issued by the Treasury Department was since then increased to $4,085.00 each year. That cheque is charged to the United States Navy, the party responsible for operations at the Naval Base.   The cheques issued by the government of the United States, as payment for the lease, are in the name of the “Treasurer General of the Republic of Cuba”, an institution and official who, many years ago, have ceased to function within the structure of the Government of Cuba.  This cheque is sent on a yearly basis, through diplomatic channels.  The one for 1959, due to a mere confusion, was entered into the national budget.  Since 1960 until today these cheques have not been cashed and they are proof of the lease that has been imposed for more than 107 years.  I would imagine, conservatively, that this is ten times less than what the United States government spends on the salary of a schoolteacher each year. 

 

Both the Platt Amendment and the Guantanamo Naval Base were unnecessary.  History has shown that in a great number of countries in this hemisphere where there has not been a revolution, their entire territory, governed by the multinationals and the oligarchies, needs neither one nor the other.  Advertising took care of their mostly ill-trained and poverty-stricken populations by creating reflexes.

 

From the military point of view, a nuclear aircraft carrier, with so many fast fighter-bombers and escort ships supported by technology and satellites, is several times more powerful and can move to any point on the globe, wherever the empire needs it the most.

 

The Base is needed to humiliate and to carry out the filthy deeds that take place there.  If we must await the downfall of the system, we shall wait.  The suffering and danger for all humanity shall be great, like today’s stock market crisis, and a growing number of people forecast it.  Cuba shall always be waiting in a state of combat readiness.

 

Fidel Castro Ruz August 14, 2007. 6:00 p.m.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Marxism in the 21st Century – Chavez, Latin cultural unity & the amassing proletariat By Jessica Long

Dandelion Salad

By Jessica Long
08/20/07 “ICH

To this day, rhetorical deployments of the Marxist agenda send shivers down the backs of the Western citizen. Somehow, extending the duration of the Cold War ending in 1991, the Red Scare continues to loom over the head of Western ideals. Of course, environmental dissipation, nuclear war, and terrorist activities have diminished the priority status of the Marxist threat. Yet Marxism is still regarded as the ultimate “anti-freedom,” positing it in direct opposition to the capitalist agenda. For many, the end of the Cold War proved that Marxism was both unreliable and illegitimate in the context of the times. However, the “era of globalization” that defines post Cold War society forces us to look at Marxism in a whole new light: one unified global civil society. Globalization is readily accepted as a device of the capitalist agenda. Given this, Marx’s critique of capitalism is applicable to the global corporate market. The laissez-faire agenda of the global market parallels that of the bourgeois’ agenda: maximum profit accumulation! Marx asserts that such an agenda is propelled by proletarian exploitation. The exploitation of the global South by the global North is exemplary of Marx’s decree, suggesting that the corruption of global capitalism is only advancing with time. Few can argue the contrary. The sudden acceleration of globalization has led to an unrestricted capitalist agenda in which exploitation is not only inevitable, but a necessary means to the bourgeois (or American) end. Cultural homogenization is a definite factor in the maintenance of class consciousness. As globalization continues to break down national borders, multi-national cooperation among the South makes cultural unity more viable.

The world is polarizing into a dichotomy of “Us vs. Them” between wealthy countries of the global North and impoverished countries of the global South. Economic polarity makes bourgeois and proletarian homogenization unavoidable. In essence, it becomes crucial for the global South to act as a cohesive force in order to combat neoliberal efforts. Thus, cultural unification is a by-product of class consciousness- the same class consciousness that Marx prophesizes will lead to the bloody end of, in this case, global capitalism and the neoliberal order. In terms of cultural unity paving the way for proletariat revolution, Latin America is arguably the most progressive region of the global South. The push for cultural integration has provided the region with an increasing solidarity that is essential to face the imperialist powers of the global North. There are many that feel “the time has come to launch the Latin American Revolution, to integrate, and breakaway” (Mrquez, 2005:12). Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez; the Independent Democratic Pole in Colombia; the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil; the indigenous movements in Bolivia and Ecuador; the Socialist Parties of Chile and the piqueteros in Argentina are all exemplary of the rising resistance to corporate neo-liberal policies. These leftist South American governments are gaining momentum through regional multi-lateral cooperation. Together, they are unwavering in their pursuit of cultural integration while answering to the outrage of their impoverished civilians. At the forefront of this uprising is Venezuela.

While Venezuela features the same civilian unrest and anti neoliberal sentiments as many other countries of the global South, their domestic politics provide them with a slightly different mode of operation. Venezuela is unique in the fact that the initiatives of the political elite are clearly aligned with proletarian progress. Thus, unlike the situation in the Niger Delta, the exploited civilians are generally supportive of their government. Supportive civilians advocate nationalism, which, in turn, provides the footing for cultural unity. The difficulty in the case of Latin America, is discerning how well these political elites can maintain the proletariat as their priority concern. The neoliberal consensus questions the motives of political leaders like Hugo Chavez, calling him a “dictator in the making.” The fact is, with or without radical leaders like Chavez, the masses are arranging themselves.

This is most evident in the countryside where a “revolution within a revolution” is occurring (DeLong, 2005:5). Their peasantry and poor urban classes are highly vocal in their anti-neoliberal sentiments. Agrarian Revolution, one of the most progressive facets of the Bolivarian Revolution, attempts to overthrow the current structure of bourgeois power by leveling the playing field for the landless proletariat. The Venezuelan Agrarian Revolution incorporates the following three aspects: cultural unity, ecological and environmental emphasis, and violent resistance.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a petroleum-rich nation lying on the northern Caribbean Coast of South America. Basing their principles upon the 19th century South American Revolutionary leader, Simon Bolivar, proponents of Bolivarianism are advocates of social democracy and vehemently opposed to the neoliberal order. It is not difficult to see why. The polarity of bourgeois and proletariat civilians has resulted in a segregated rural sector and embittered urban poor. As of 2005, a mere 5% of all Venezuelan landowners own 75 to 80% of private land. Only 2% own 60% of the country’s farmland in terms of agriculture. Before the oil boom in the 1970s, 75% of the population lived in rural regions. Today, 90% live in urban areas. Inevitably, industrialism and corporate enterprises have devastated Venezuela’s agrarian sphere, with thousands of campesinos flooding cities in attempts to keep up with modernity’s high demand for labor. However, Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan president and leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, has utilized high oil profits to fund a number of social programs for the poor. His most ambitious attempt to re-structure bourgeois power is the Agrarian Land Reform.

In November of 2001, Chavez initiated the “Vuelta al Campo” or Return to the Countryside campaign under the Law on Land and Agricultural Development. The campaign put four primary objectives into movement: 1) minimize the size of landholdings; 2) tax idle property; 3) redistribute (mostly federally owned) unused land to peasant families; and 4) seize undeveloped land from private estate owners in exchange for market value compensation. This year, Chavez aims at expropriating 7.4 million acres and redistributing it to the peasant class. He further asserts that 42 million acres will be confiscated in order to dilute the polarity of bourgeois and peasant landholdings. Although the Agrarian Revolution has been slow in its development, wealthy foreign and domestic private land owners are outraged. They argue that expropriation violates private property rights. Their response has been one of brutal and violent resistance to the newly empowered rural peasantry. In response, the proletariat has resorted to violent tactics to secure new land dwellings. Thus, Chavez’s six year “Revolution for the Poor” has come into full effect, proposing violence as an essential means to combat proletariat opponents.

Calling upon the collective support of all the world’s poor nations, Chavez has only increased his criticism of globalization in recent years. He asserts:

Now the imperialist forces are starting to strike against the people of Latin America and the world. It is up to our soldiers to stay alert and be prepared to defend the people and not to submit themselves to the interests of the empire.

Venezuela is now preparing to fight what Chavez calls an “asymmetric war” against the leading imperialist nation of the world, the United States. Venezuelan parking lots have been transformed into military training camps, where civilians of all ages and both sexes pledge their allegiance to fighting the capitalist agenda. Most recently, Venezuela purchased 100, 000 AK-47 rifles and a number of helicopters, planes and ships from Russia, Brazil and Spain. The U.S. did not respond out of character. They “resent[ed] the fact Venezuela did not buy US-made weapons!”(Ceasar, 2005:12). Chavez now fears his vigorous opposition to neoliberalism will invoke a covert coup of his administration by the U.S. government. U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, told the Miami Herald, “What in the world [is the threat] that Venezuela sees that makes them want all those weapons?”

But Chavez’s notions do not seem to be that absurd. Consider the 1970s Allende Regime in Chile. Allende, a self-proclaimed Marxist and opponent of the capitalist cause, attempted a similar land reform from 1970 to 1973. Between those same years, the U.S. spent $8 million on covert tactics to remove Allende from office. In Nixon’s words, the U.S. government planned to exploit the Chilean market “until they screamed.” Expropriation in Chile also meant that American private land holders were at risk with their property investments. In 1973, a successful coup officially replaced Allende with the corrupt capitalist Pinochet. The U.S. denies any sanctioned involvement. However, the U.S. provided $183 million in bilateral assistance to Pinochet’s regime in comparison with $19.8 million during Allende’s. Henry Kissinger, the National Security Advisor in 1970, argued “Allende’s election was a challenge to our national interest” given his “anti-American politics”. Is it therefore unlikely that Chavez would expect the same scenario given his blatant rejection to corporate U.S. interests? Perhaps Rumsfeld’s dismay stems from the fact that both Venezuela and U.S. are economically dependent upon one another, with Venezuela accounting for 14% of U.S. petroleum imports. “If somebody meddles with Venezuela, they’ll repent it for 100 years,” says Chavez. “We’ll make the blood flow.” Sound indicative of a bloody proletarian Marxist revolution?

Chavez has already solidified ties with other progressives within South America. Brazilian president, Luize Inacio Lula de Silva (Lula) shares the same stance on corporate imperialism as Chavez. Lula, a former factory worker and union leader, is the president of the Worker’s Party whose concern lies with the proletariat. Chavez and Lula are virtually agreed in their viewpoints on the FTAA, the IMF and neoliberalism as a whole. For the proletariat of Latin America, they have evolved into “symbols of the fight against free-market policies and U.S. imperialism” (Sustar, et al. 2003:7). The Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil parallels the Venezuelan Agrarian Revolution. The MST is considered the largest social movement in Latin America. Nearly 1.5 million participants in the movement work to achieve reform of the rural land shares to the peasantry. With such a large following, it is not surprising that both Chavez and Lula were welcomed like proletariat demigods at the 2003 World Social Forum in Brazil. Throughout the duration of their speeches, the entire audience resounded with waves of support from all over Latin America. At the Forum’s end, Portuguese musicians led thousands in the traditional Socialist anthem, “La Internationale.” The crowd sang along in their native languages. Alberto Muller, a retired Venezuelan general claims:

On an international level, these movements may seem fragile, but if they succeed in forging an ideology in the form of a cultural proposal, grounded in a set of common values by Latin America and the Caribbean, they could become a more permanent influence.

Cross-cultural unity in support of a Socialist transition is on the verge of actualization. The neo-liberal order, ie. global market capitalism, is quickly eroding in its legitimacy as proletariat nations are amassing.

However, any truth in the global Marxist prophecy will most likely be vehemently contested by the global North. The idea that Marxism may be a legitimate threat despite the end of the Cold War is far too much to swallow for the political-ethno-centric capitalists of Western society. Yet, as we have seen, globalization has proved to be a covert extension of capitalist imperialism, encompassing grand scale exploitation in an array of realms. Ironically, Marxism still remains sovereign in its definition as the “anti-freedom” while capitalist corruption glorifies imperialism. Regardless, the South has began to take shape as a collectively exploited community, whose quality of life is determined by the resistance of cultural, environmental, economic and ideological realms. The exploited working class grows more desperate when attempts at reforming their situation are perpetually suppressed by Northern and (sometimes) Southern governments. Reformation does not bring the swift change needed to end the South’s misery. Thus, exploitation via neoliberal policies only exacerbates proletarian resentment of the capitalist order and those that promote it. This steadfast Capitalist corruption propels the Marxist theory of the emergence of new Socialist endeavors attempting to stifle global South exploitation.

Ceasar, Mike. “Chavez’s ‘Citizen Militias’ on the March.” BBC. 1 July 2005. (5 Feb. 2006).

DeLong, Seth. “Venezuela’s Land Reform: More like Lincoln than Lenin.” Venezuelan Views, News and Analysis. 25 Feb. 2005. (25 Feb. 2005).

Mrquez, Humberto. “World Social Forum: The Rising Leftist Tide in South America.” Global Information Network. New York: 2005. (Jan 2006).

Sustar, Lee, Selfa, Lance and Orlando. “Voices Against War and Neoliberalism: World Social Forum.” Internationalist Socialist Review. April 2003. (5 May 2005).

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Managing Consent – The Art of War, Democracy and Public Relations By Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

By Ramzy Baroud
08/20/07 “
ICH

It is Edward Bernays who fine-tuned the art of public relations in the 20th century. Using many of the psychoanalytic theories put forward by his uncle Sigmund Freud, he developed a mastery of public manipulation, suggesting that such manipulation was essential to democracy itself. Bernays strongly believed that people are simply “stupid” and in need of being told how to behave, what to believe, what to eat, what to wear, and how to vote. The outcomes of such an experiment reverberate to this day.

Some historians credit Bernays’s efforts in the 1920s and 1930s for turning the modern citizen into a modern consumer. Not only did he convince Americans that a “hearty breakfast” must include eggs and bacon, as opposed to the traditional toast and coffee, he also managed to convince women at the time that cigarettes were a symbol of man’s power and domination; to challenge the male sense of superiority, women needed to smoke. A few public stunts later, sales of cigarettes (which Bernays termed “torches of freedom”) soared, eventually doubling the market for tobacco manufacturers, who, among many other businesses, were Bernays’s clients.

It was only natural that such tactics would soon become politicized. Various presidents and presidential candidates utilized Bernays’s theories and services in the interests of power and profit, though some did try to outset the increasing influence of big businesses on American democracy. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the early 1930s – which purported to reengage the citizen as a vital component in a functioning democracy – was resented by the corporations, and they ferociously fought to win consumers back and defeat the democratic initiative. Ultimately, they succeeded.

Freud argues that a person’s subconscious desires would be utterly violent and sadistic if uncontrolled; his nephew suggested the cure was to curb these desires in a way that generated immense profits.

It didn’t take long for Bernays’s tactics to be applied in US foreign policies. Guatemala is a textbook example; when the country was ready to embrace serious popular change in the 1950s, with democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz implementing equitable land reforms that ran counter to the interests of the US United Fruit Company (which was naturally unwilling to concede its highly profitable “Banana Republic”), media manipulators in the US immediately set about to convince Americans that Arbenz somehow posed a threat to American democracy. A CIA-engineered coup deposed the elected president and installed its operative Castillo Armas, who was hailed by visiting US vice president Richard Nixon as a “liberator.”

Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents argues that a person’s subconscious desires would be utterly violent and sadistic if uncontrolled; his nephew suggested the cure was to curb these desires in a way that generated immense profits. Successive US administrations have taken note, and their greatest achievement has been to exploit the subconscious factors that infuse fear and paranoia among the masses. Wars have been waged, regimes overthrown, and bombs dropped in the midst of sleeping populations, all in the name of democracy. What Bernays brazenly dubbed “managing consent” – and Chomsky and Herman more honestly referred to as “manufacturing consent” – remains the defining factor that subverts true democracy in the US, and it often leads to the most violent consequences in countries that fall under the US sphere of influence.

Despite serious public efforts to counter the anti-democratic union between the state and corporations in the 1960s and 1970s, the latter managed to prevail, using direct repression at times, but also by underhandedly exploiting the same discontented popular movements to promote their ideas and products. This tactic has manifested itself invariably every time a discord between the state and corporation on one hand and the people on the other took place.

A more recent example is the way in which President George W. Bush has constantly attempted to manipulate to his advantage the anti-war movement that opposed his 2003 war and invasion of Iraq. His logic – also used by former British prime minister Tony Blair – was simple, yet most deceptive: The war in Iraq is aimed at achieving the same kind of democracy that allows millions of Americans to disagree peacefully with their government without facing the persecution they suffer under Saddam.

While one finds laughable the deduced notion that Iraqis are now reaping the benefits of democracy, one can hardly deny that Bush’s logic took hold among many, even those opposed to the war. Such dialectics managed to shift the debate in many circles from the illegitimacy of the war and its true intentions to altruistic arguments about how “the world is better off without Saddam.” This type of manipulation is anything but new and is hardly exclusive to the Iraq case.

Since World War II, the US government and corporate America have carried the democracy banner whenever they sought war and profits. While doing so, the CIA has managed to topple many popular, democratic governments around the world, replacing them with handpicked, puppet regimes. The Palestinian elections in January 2006 were the closest the region had seen of true democratic elections in many years, and yet the fact that it was Hamas – who violently fought the Israeli military occupation and who strongly opposed US policies in the region – was elected to power justified an entire population being starved, physically confined, and violently oppressed by Israel, with the full support of the US and the world’s banking system. The Palestinian experiment is unlikely to conclude soon, but the outcomes have been utterly devastating thus far.

Edward Bernays’s direct influence is long gone, but his ideas continue to define the relationships between the corporations, the American state, and the consuming citizen, and even the relationships between the state-corporations’ union and the rest of the world. The carefully managed relationships have undermined democracy and unleashed sadistic wars and uncontrollable violence, of which Freud had warned, but which his nephew shamelessly exploited.

Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-American author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in numerous newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). Read more about him on his website: www.ramzybaroud.net

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The Century Of The Self by Adam Curtis (Parts I-!V; vids)