On UK visit, PM Brown offers token extra troops for Afghanistan and Bush makes the best of it
June 17 – Public reception to the last European tour of Bush’s presidency was less than warm in the UK earlier this week. Amidst crowds of protestors crying “Terrorist”, US president George Bush and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown met at 10 Downing Street to strike new alliances in the “war on terror”. Among these agreements: the pledging of 230 new UK troops to the cause in Afghanistan, bringing UK troop levels to their highest ever, at just over 8,000.
While Bush admitted during an interview with Fox News sister station Sky TV that his “dead or alive” statement in regards to Bin Laden “sent the wrong signal”, he maintains that Saddam Hussein’s deposition and subsequent execution was an indisputable victory in the war against terror. Bush also asserts that the people of Iraq and Afghanistan “appreciate” how tough he and PM Brown are on terror. As the two leaders struck an agreement regarding further sanctions on Iran, Brown stressed to concerned British citizens that: “it’s in the British national interest” to confront the Taliban; “otherwise Afghanistan will come to us.”
In the same interview, Bush also offered his opinions on the current US economic crisis, claiming that “as a result of the Democratic Congress not letting us drill for oil and gas in America, our consumers are paying a higher price for gasoline.”
But does the president lose sleep when, according to a CBS-New York Times poll, about 80 percent of Americans say the country’s on the wrong track? “First of all, popularity’s fleeting,” says Bush. “And I want it to be said about George W. Bush that when he finished his presidency, he looked in the mirror at a man who did not compromise his core principles for the sake of politics or the Gallup Poll or the latest, you know, whatever.”
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor
Last Updated: 1:29am BST 17/06/2008
The clash between the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve over monetary strategy is causing serious strains in the global financial system and could lead to a replay of Europe’s exchange rate crisis in the 1990s, a team of bankers has warned.
“We see striking similarities between the transatlantic tensions that built up in the early 1990s and those that are accumulating again today. The outcome of the 1992 deadlock was a major currency crisis and a recession in Europe,” said a report by Morgan Stanley’s European experts.
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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
by Shelley Bluejay Pierce
June 11, 2008
President Bush speech today
Good morning my friends,
I have stopped doing my current research and writing on various topics today to address the recent speech given by President Bush just moments ago. I simply had to speak out and point out some key “media-spinning” that is going WAY over the top and many people may not realize that we are in a critical point here in the USA. Continue reading
This is a great piece of journalism that clearly and effectively explains why Americans are paying thousands of dollars more per year in gas and oil costs. Mainly the Enron Loophole. Other culprits include Morgan Stanley, husband and wife Graham, UBS, lobbyists and just about everyone surrounding John McCains campaign.
Politics of FEAR go into OVERDRIVE in McCain Campaign
And the winner is….Bill Kristol. Runners up Rush Limbaugh and County Board of Education of Roseville, Ca.
“The minute the leadership said ‘this is dead on arrival,’ I said that I hope they believe in life after death — because I’m coming back with it.” – U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich
We’re still kicking, too, over at http://www.michaelmoore.com/
Investment Banker Karl Schwartz lays it out
1. The Caspian Sea Basin (Kazakstan, Turkmenistan etc.) holds between 11 and 12 TRILLION dollars in oil and gas resources
2. There are only three ways to get it out:
– East to China
– West through Iran, Russia, and Turkey to Europe
– South through Afghanistan and Pakistan
3. The Taliban who controlled Afghanistan before 9/11 made pipeline deals with non-US companies and refused to change them to give control of the region’s resources to the US
Note: To everyone who has watched this video “Please Spread the Truth”, add it to your Favorites and share it with your Friends.
More at http://therealnews.com/c.ph…
As the Taliban offensive expands in southern Afghanistan, retaliatory actions by NATO and Afghani forces become increasingly likely. On Sunday, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai threatened to send troops across Pakistan’s border in quote “hot pursuit.” Amid a general uproar in Pakistan over Karzai’s comments, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani retorted that Pakistan will defend itself at any cost. The Real News Network’s Senior Editor Paul Jay discusses the geopolitics of the region with Senior News Analyst Aijaz Ahmad. (1/4)
From an email from Nina, Real News Network:
Kandahar braces for Taliban offensive
Aijaz Ahmad: Does the Afghan war matter to the US?
June 18 – In anticipation of a Taliban offensive, the Afghan army flew four planeloads of soldiers to Kandahar from the capital Kabul.
The deployment comes a day after Taliban forces were seen mobilizing in the Arghandab district just north west of Kandahar, and 3 days after the Taliban freed 900 men from a Kandahar prison. Taliban forces destroyed bridges and planted landmines in preparation for battle.
The Taliban regime was ousted from power in a 2001 US-led invasion, but Anand Gopal of Inter Press Service says “there has been a general shift in the balance of power in the last few months.” A Presidential spokesperson maintains that the Afghan National Army is “in charge of the situation” despite some “security incidents that have taken place,” but an unidentified Taliban soldier disagrees. According to him, the Taliban “have 80 to 100 percent control” in Afghanistan. Though those are not the official numbers, the idea that the Taliban are gaining more power is present in the most recent US Intelligence estimate. The estimate states that “the Taliban controls about 10 percent of the country and the Karzai government controls about 30 percent of the country, and that number has changed significantly in the last few years.”
Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai threatened to send troops across Pakistan’s border in “hot pursuit” on Sunday and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani retorted that Pakistan will defend itself at any cost.
In part one of a four part interview, The Real News Network’s Senior editor Paul Jay discusses the geopolitics of the region with Senior News Analyst Aijaz Ahmad. Ahmad says he believes that the Afghan war does matter to the US despite important news, such as the creation of a 2005 agreement between the Karzai government and the US government granting the US the right to permanent bases, never making headlines in the US. He also says that he thinks “the time is gone for actual negotiations with the Taliban” but that “a massive assault on the Taliban in co-operation with the Pakistan army” is possible.
Taliban and NATO forces both assert that they are in control
Interview: Does the Afghan war matter to the US?
Ahmad: Permanent bases and strategy towards Ching long term US objectives in Afghanistan
June 17, 2008
A team of doctors and psychologists convened by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to conduct intensive clinical evaluations of 11 former detainees held in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay has found that these men suffered torture and ill-treatment by U.S. personnel, which resulted in severe pain and long-term disability. The men were ultimately released from U.S. custody without charge or explanation.
Cambridge, MA. (PRWEB) June 17, 2008 – A team of doctors and psychologists convened by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to conduct intensive clinical evaluations of 11 former detainees held in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay has found that these men suffered torture and ill-treatment by U.S. personnel, which resulted in severe pain and long-term disability. The men were ultimately released from U.S. custody without charge or explanation.
“The horrific consequences of U.S. detention and interrogation policy are indelibly written on the bodies and minds of the former detainees in scars, debilitating injuries, humiliating memories and haunting nightmares,” states Dr. Allen Keller, Director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and a contributor to PHR’s report Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by U.S. Personnel and Its Impact. “Physical and psychological evidence clearly supports the detainees’ first-hand accounts of cruelty, inhuman treatment, degradation, and torture.”
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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
How to covertly train paramilitaries, censor the press, ban unions, employ terrorists, conduct warrantless searches, suspend habeas corpus, conceal breaches of the Geneva Convention and make the population love it
JULIAN ASSANGE (investigative editor)
June 16, 2008
Wikileaks has released a sensitive 219 page US military counterinsurgency manual. The manual, Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces (1994, 2004), may be critically described as “what we learned about running death squads and propping up corrupt government in Latin America and how to apply it to other places”. Its contents are both history defining for Latin America and, given the continued role of US Special Forces in the suppression of insurgencies, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, history making.
The leaked manual, which has been verified with military sources, is the official US Special Forces doctrine for Foreign Internal Defense or FID.
FID operations are designed to prop up “friendly” governments facing popular revolution or guerilla insurgency. FID interventions are often covert or quasi-covert due to the unpopular nature of the governments being supported (“In formulating a realistic policy for the use of advisors, the commander must carefully gauge the psychological climate of the HN [Host Nation] and the United States.”)
The manual directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive surveillance, censorship, press control and restrictions on labor unions & political parties. It directly advocates warrantless searches, detainment without charge and (under varying circumstances) the suspension of habeas corpus. It directly advocates employing terrorists or prosecuting individuals for terrorism who are not terrorists, running false flag operations and concealing human rights abuses from journalists. And it repeatedly advocates the use of subterfuge and “psychological operations” (propaganda) to make these and other “population & resource control” measures more palatable.
The content has been particularly informed by the long United States involvement in El Salvador.
In 2005 a number of credible media reports suggested the Pentagon was intensely debating “the Salvador option” for Iraq.. According to the New York Times Magazine:
The template for Iraq today is not Vietnam, with which it has often been compared, but El Salvador, where a right-wing government backed by the United States fought a leftist insurgency in a 12-year war beginning in 1980. The cost was high — more than 70,000 people were killed, most of them civilians, in a country with a population of just six million. Most of the killing and torturing was done by the army and the right-wing death squads affiliated with it. According to an Amnesty International report in 2001, violations committed by the army and associated groups included ‘‘extrajudicial executions, other unlawful killings, ‘disappearances’ and torture. . . . Whole villages were targeted by the armed forces and their inhabitants massacred.’’ As part of President Reagan’s policy of supporting anti-Communist forces, hundreds of millions of dollars in United States aid was funneled to the Salvadoran Army, and a team of 55 Special Forces advisers, led for several years by Jim Steele, trained front-line battalions that were accused of significant human rights abuses.
The same article states James Steele and many other former Central American Special Forces “military advisors” have now been appointed at a high level to Iraq.
In 1993 a United Nations truth commission on El Salvador, which examined 22,000 atrocities that occurred during the twelve-year civil war, attributed 85 percent of the abuses to the US-backed El Salvador military and its paramilitary death squads.
It is worth noting what the US Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert E. White (now the president for the Center for International Policy) had to say as early as 1980, in State Department documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act:
The major, immediate threat to the existence of this government is the right-wing violence. In the city of San Salvador, the hired thugs of the extreme right, some of them well-trained Cuban and Nicaraguan terrorists, kill moderate left leaders and blow up government buildings. In the countryside, elements of the security forces torture and kill the campesinos, shoot up their houses and burn their crops. At least two hundred refugees from the countryside arrive daily in the capital city. This campaign of terror is radicalizing the rural areas just as surely as Somoza’s National Guard did in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, the command structure of the army and the security forces either tolerates or encourages this activity. These senior officers believe or pretend to believe that they are eliminating the guerillas.
Selected extracts follow. Note that the manual is 219 pages long and contains substantial material throughout. These extracts should merely be considered representative. Emphasis has been added for further selectivity. The full manual can be found at US Special Forces counterinsurgency manual FM 31-20-3.
DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTION: Distribution authorized to U.S. Government agencies and their contractors only to protect technical or operational information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by other means. This determination was made on 5 December 2003. Other requests for this document must be referred to Commander, United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, ATTN: AOJK-DTD-SFD, Fort Bragg, North Carolina 28310-5000.
Destruction Notice: Destroy by any method that must prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document.
Most of the counterintelligence measures used will be overt in nature and aimed at protecting installations, units, and information and detecting espionage, sabotage, and subversion. Examples of counterintelligence measures to use are
- Background investigations and records checks of persons in sensitive positions and persons whose loyalty may be questionable.
- Maintenance of files on organizations, locations, and individuals of counterintelligence interest.
- Internal security inspections of installations and units.
- Control of civilian movement within government-controlled areas.
- Identification systems to minimize the chance of insurgents gaining access to installations or moving freely.
- Unannounced searches and raids on suspected meeting places.
PSYOP [Psychological Operations] are essential to the success of PRC [Population & Resources Control]. For maximum effectiveness, a strong psychological operations effort is directed toward the families of the insurgents and their popular support base. The PSYOP aspect of the PRC program tries to make the imposition of control more palatable to the people by relating the necessity of controls to their safety and well-being. PSYOP efforts also try to create a favorable national or local government image and counter the effects of the insurgent propaganda effort.
SF [US Special Forces] can advise and assist HN [Host Nation] forces in developing and implementing control measures. Among these measures are the following:
- Security Forces. Police and other security forces use PRC [Population & Resources Control] measures to deprive the insurgent of support and to identify and locate members of his infrastructure. Appropriate PSYOP [Psychological Operations] help make these measures more acceptable to the population by explaining their need. The government informs the population that the PRC measures may cause an inconvenience but are necessary due to the actions of the insurgents.
- Restrictions. Rights on the legality of detention or imprisonment of personnel (for example, habeas corpus) may be temporarily suspended. This measure must be taken as a last resort, since it may provide the insurgents with an effective propaganda theme. PRC [Population & Resources Control] measures can also include curfews or blackouts, travel restrictions, and restricted residential areas such as protected villages or resettlement areas. Registration and pass systems and control of sensitive items (resources control) and critical supplies such as weapons, food, and fuel are other PRC measures. Checkpoints, searches, roadblocks; surveillance, censorship, and press control; and restriction of activity that applies to selected groups (labor unions, political groups and the like) are further PRC measures.
Legal Considerations. All restrictions, controls, and DA measures must be governed by the legality of these methods and their impact on the populace. In countries where government authorities do not have wide latitude in controlling the population, special or emergency legislation must be enacted. This emergency legislation may include a form of martial law permitting government forces to search without warrant, to detain without bringing formal charges, and to execute other similar actions.
PSYOP can support the mission by discrediting the insurgent forces to neutral groups, creating dissension among the insurgents themselves, and supporting defector programs. Divisive programs create dissension, disorganization, low morale, subversion, and defection within the insurgent forces. Also important are national programs to win insurgents over to the government side with offers of amnesty and rewards. Motives for surrendering can range from personal rivalries and bitterness to disillusionment and discouragement. Pressure from the security forces has persuasive power.
Intelligence personnel must consider the parameters within which a revolutionary movement operates. Frequently, they establish a centralized intelligence processing center to collect and coordinate the amount of information required to make long-range intelligence estimates. Long-range intelligence focuses on the stable factors existing in an insurgency. For example, various demographic factors (ethnic, racial, social, economic, religious, and political characteristics of the area in which the underground movement takes places) are useful in identifying the members of the underground. Information about the underground organization at national, district, and local level is basic in FID [Foreign Internal Defense] and/or IDAD operations. Collection of specific short-range intelligence about the rapidly changing variables of a local situation is critical. Intelligence personnel must gather information on members of the underground, their movements, and their methods. Biographies and photos of suspected underground members, detailed information on their homes, families, education, work history, and associates are important features of short-range intelligence.
Destroying its tactical units is not enough to defeat the enemy. The insurgent’s underground cells or infrastructure must be neutralized first because the infrastructure is his main source of tactical intelligence and political control. Eliminating the infrastructure within an area achieves two goals: it ensures the government’s control of the area, and it cuts off the enemy’s main source of intelligence. An intelligence and operations command center (IOCC) is needed at district or province level. This organization becomes the nerve center for operations against the insurgent infrastructure. Information on insurgent infrastructure targets should come from such sources as the national police and other established intelligence nets and agents and individuals (informants).
The highly specialized and sensitive nature of clandestine intelligence collection demands specially selected and highly trained agents. Information from clandestine sources is often highly sensitive and requires tight control to protect the source. However, tactical information upon which a combat response can be taken should be passed to the appropriate tactical level.
The spotting, assessment, and recruitment of an agent is not a haphazard process regardless of the type agent being sought. During the assessment phase, the case officer determines the individual’s degree of intelligence, access to target, available or necessary cover, and motivation. He initiates the recruitment and coding action only after he determines the individual has the necessary attributes to fulfill the needs.
All agents are closely observed and those that are not reliable are relieved. A few well-targeted, reliable agents are better and more economical than a large number of poor ones.
A system is needed to evaluate the agents and the information they submit. The maintenance of an agent master dossier (possibly at the SFOD B level) can be useful in evaluating the agent on the value and quality of information he has submitted. The dossier must contain a copy of the agent’s source data report and every intelligence report he submitted.
Security forces can induce individuals among the general populace to become informants. Security forces use various motives (civic-mindedness, patriotism, fear, punishment avoidance, gratitude, revenge or jealousy, financial rewards) as persuasive arguments. They use the assurance of protection from reprisal as a major inducement. Security forces must maintain the informant’s anonymity and must conceal the transfer of information from the source to the security agent. The security agent and the informant may prearrange signals to coincide with everyday behavior.
Surveillance, the covert observation of persons and places, is a principal method of gaining and confirming intelligence information. Surveillance techniques naturally vary with the requirements of different situations. The basic procedures include mechanical observation (wiretaps or concealed microphones), observation from fixed locations, and physical surveillance of subjects.
Whenever a suspect is apprehended during an operation, a hasty interrogation takes place to gain immediate information that could be of tactical value. The most frequently used methods for gathering information (map studies and aerial observation), however, are normally unsuccessful. Most PWs cannot read a map. When they are taken on a visual reconnaissance flight, it is usually their first flight and they cannot associate an aerial view with what they saw on the ground.
The most successful interrogation method consists of a map study based on terrain information received from the detainee. The interrogator first asks the detainee what the sun’s direction was when he left the base camp. From this information, he can determine a general direction. The interrogator then asks the detainee how long it took him to walk to the point where he was captured. Judging the terrain and the detainee’s health, the interrogator can determine a general radius in which the base camp can be found (he can use an overlay for this purpose). He then asks the detainee to identify significant terrain features he saw on each day of his journey, (rivers, open areas, hills, rice paddies, swamps). As the detainee speaks and his memory is jogged, the interrogator finds these terrain features on a current map and gradually plots the detainee’s route to finally locate the base camp.
If the interrogator is unable to speak the detainee’s language, he interrogates through an interpreter who received a briefing beforehand. A recorder may also assist him. If the interrogator is not familiar with the area, personnel who are familiar with the area brief him before the interrogation and then join the interrogation team. The recorder allows the interrogator a more free-flowing interrogation. The recorder also lets a knowledgeable interpreter elaborate on points the detainee has mentioned without the interrogator interrupting the continuity established during a given sequence. The interpreter can also question certain inaccuracies, keeping pressure on the subject. The interpreter and the interrogator have to be well trained to work as a team. The interpreter has to be familiar with the interrogation procedures. His preinterrogation briefings must include information on the detainee’s health, the circumstances resulting in his detention, and the specific information required. A successful interrogation is contingent upon continuity and a welltrained interpreter. A tape recorder (or a recorder taking notes) enhances continuity by freeing the interrogator from time-consuming administrative tasks.
Political Structures. A tightly disciplined party organization, formally structured to parallel the existing government hierarchy, may be found at the center of some insurgent movements. In most instances, this organizational structure will consist of committed organizations at the village, district province, and national levels. Within major divisions and sections of an insurgent military headquarters, totally distinct but parallel command channels exist. There are military chains of command and political channels of control. The party ensures complete domination over the military structure using its own parallel organization. It dominates through a political division in an insurgent military headquarters, a party cell or group in an insurgent military unit, or a political military officer.
Special Intelligence-Gathering Operations
Alternative intelligence-gathering techniques and sources, such as doppelganger or pseudo operations, can be tried and used when it is hard to obtain information from the civilian populace. These pseudo units are usually made up of ex-guerrilla and/or security force personnel posing as insurgents. They circulate among the civilian populace and, in some cases, infiltrate guerrilla units to gather information on guerrilla movements and its support infrastructure.
Much time and effort must be used to persuade insurgents to switch allegiance and serve with the security forces. Prospective candidates must be properly screened and then given a choice of serving with the HN [Host Nation] security forces or facing prosecution under HN law for terrorist crimes.
Government security force units and teams of varying size have been used in infiltration operations against underground and guerrilla forces. They have been especially effective in getting information on underground security and communications systems, the nature and extent of civilian support and underground liaison, underground supply methods, and possible collusion between local government officials and the underground. Before such a unit can be properly trained and disguised, however, much information about the appearance, mannerisms, and security procedures of enemy units must be gathered. Most of this information comes from defectors or reindoctrinated prisoners. Defectors also make excellent instructors and guides for an infiltrating unit. In using a disguised team, the selected men should be trained, oriented, and disguised to look and act like authentic underground or guerrilla units. In addition to acquiring valuable information, the infiltrating units can demoralize the insurgents to the extent that they become overly suspicious and distrustful of their own units.
After establishing the cordon and designating a holding area, the screening point or center is established. All civilians in the cordoned area will then pass through the screening center to be classified.
National police personnel will complete, if census data does not exist in the police files, a basic registration card and photograph all personnel over the age of 15. They print two copies of each photo- one is pasted to the registration card and the other to the village book (for possible use in later operations and to identify ralliers and informants).
The screening element leader ensures the screeners question relatives, friends, neighbors, and other knowledgeable individuals of guerrilla leaders or functionaries operating in the area on their whereabouts, activities, movements, and expected return.
The screening area must include areas where police and military intelligence personnel can privately interview selected individuals. The interrogators try to convince the interviewees that their cooperation will not be detected by the other inhabitants. They also discuss, during the interview, the availability of monetary rewards for certain types of information and equipment.
Civilian Self-Defense Forces [Paramilitaries, or, especially in an El-Salvador or Colombian civil war context, right wing “death squads”]
When a village accepts the CSDF program, the insurgents cannot choose to ignore it. To let the village go unpunished will encourage other villages to accept the government’s CSDF program. The insurgents have no choice; they have to attack the CSDF village to provide a lesson to other villages considering CSDF. In a sense, the psychological effectiveness of the CSDF concept starts by reversing the insurgent strategy of making the government the repressor. It forces the insurgents to cross a critical threshold-that of attacking and killing the very class of people they are supposed to be liberating.
To be successful, the CSDF program must have popular support from those directly involved or affected by it. The average peasant is not normally willing to fight to his death for his national government. His national government may have been a succession of corrupt dictators and inefficient bureaucrats. These governments are not the types of institutions that inspire fight-to-the-death emotions in the peasant. The village or town, however, is a different matter. The average peasant will fight much harder for his home and for his village than he ever would for his national government. The CSDF concept directly involves the peasant in the war and makes it a fight for the family and village instead of a fight for some faraway irrelevant government.
Members of the CSDF receive no pay for their civil duties. In most instances, however, they derive certain benefits from voluntary service. These benefits can range from priority of hire for CMO projects to a place at the head of ration lines. In El Salvador, CSDF personnel (they were called civil defense there) were given a U.S.-funded life insurance policy with the wife or next of kin as the beneficiary. If a CSDF member died in the line of duty, the widow or next of kin was ceremoniously paid by an HN official. The HN administered the program and a U.S. advisor who maintained accountability of the funds verified the payment. The HN [Host Nation] exercises administrative and visible control.
Responsiveness and speedy payment are essential in this process since the widow normally does not have a means of support and the psychological effect of the government assisting her in her time of grief impacts on the entire community. These and other benefits offered by or through the HN government are valuable incentives for recruiting and sustaining the CSDF.
The local CSDF members select their leaders and deputy leaders (CSDF groups and teams) in elections organized by the local authorities. In some cases, the HN [Host Nation] appoints a leader who is a specially selected member of the HN security forces trained to carry out this task. Such appointments occurred in El Salvador where the armed forces have established a formal school to train CSDF commanders. Extreme care and close supervision are required to avoid abuses by CSDF leaders.
The organization of a CSDF can be similar to that of a combat group. This organization is effective in both rural and urban settings. For example, a basic group, having a strength of 107 members, is broken down into three 35-man elements plus a headquarters element of 2 personnel. Each 35-man element is further broken down into three 1 l-man teams and a headquarters element of 2 personnel. Each team consists of a team leader, an assistant team leader, and three 3-man cells. This organization can be modified to accommodate the number of citizens available to serve.
Weapons training for the CSDF personnel is critical. Skill at arms decides the outcome of battle and must be stressed. Of equal importance is the maintenance and care of weapons. CSDF members are taught basic rifle marksmanship with special emphasis on firing from fixed positions and during conditions of limited visibility. Also included in the marksmanship training program are target detection and fire discipline.
Training ammunition is usually allocated to the CSDF on the basis of a specified number of rounds for each authorized weapon. A supporting HN government force or an established CSDF logistic source provides the ammunition to support refresher training.
Acts of misconduct by HN [Host Nation] personnel
All members of training assistance teams must understand their responsibilities concerning acts of misconduct by HN personnel. Team members receive briefings before deployment on what to do if they encounter or observe such acts. Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions lists prohibited acts by parties to the convention. Such acts are-
- Violence to life and person, in particular, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture.
- Taking of hostages.
- Outrages against personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.
- Passing out sentences and carrying out executions without previous judgment by a regularly constituted court that affords all the official guarantees that are recog-nized as indispensable by civilized people.
- The provisions in the above paragraph represent a level of conduct that the United States expects each foreign country to observe.
If team members encounter prohibited acts they can not stop, they will disengage from the activity, leave the area if possible, and report the incidents immediately to the proper in-country U.S. authorities. The country team will identify proper U.S. authorities during the team’s initial briefing. Team members will not discuss such matters with non-U.S. Government authorities such as journalists and civilian contractors.
Most insurgents’ doctrinal and training documents stress the use of pressure-type mines in the more isolated or less populated areas. They prefer using commandtype mines in densely populated areas. These documents stress that when using noncommand-detonated mines, the insurgents use every means to inform the local populace on their location, commensurate with security regulations. In reality, most insurgent groups suffer from various degrees of deficiency in their C2 [Command & Control] systems. Their C2 does not permit them to verify that those elements at the operational level strictly follow directives and orders. In the case of the Frente Farabundo Marti de la Liberation Nacional (FMLN) in El Salvador, the individual that emplaces the mine is responsible for its recovery after the engagement. There are problems with this concept. The individual may be killed or the security forces may gain control of the area. Therefore, the recovery of the mine is next to impossible.
Homemade antipersonnel mines are used extensively in El Salvador, Guatemala and Malaysia. (Eighty percent of all El Salvadoran armed forces casualties in 1986 were due to mines; in 1987, soldiers wounded by mines and booby traps averaged 50 to 60 per month.) The important point to remember is that any homemade mine is the product of the resources available to the insurgent group. Therefore, no two antipersonnel mines may be the same in their configuration and materials. Insurgent groups depend to a great extent on materials discarded or lost by security forces personnel. The insurgents not only use weapons, ammunition, mines, grenades, and demolitions for their original purpose but also in preparing expedient mines and booby traps.
A series of successful minings carried out by the Viet Cong insurgents on the Cua Viet River, Quang Tri Province, demonstrated their resourcefulness in countering minesweeping tactics. Initially, chain-dragging sweeps took place morning and evening. After several successful mining attacks, it was apparent that they laid the mines after the minesweepers passed. Then, the boats using the river formed into convoys and transited the river with minesweepers 914 meters ahead oft he convoy. Nevertheless, boats of the convoy were successfully mined in mid-channel, indicating that the mines were again laid after the minesweeper had passed, possibly by using sampans. Several sampans were observed crossing or otherwise using the channel between the minesweepers and the convoy. The convoys were then organized so that the minesweepers worked immediately ahead of the convoy. One convoy successfully passed. The next convoy had its minesweepers mined and ambushed close to the river banks.
Psychologically pressuring the HN [Host Nation] counterpart may sometimes be successful. Forms of psychological pressure may range from the obvious to the subtle. The advisor never applies direct threats, pressure, or intimidation on his counterpart Indirect psychological pressure may be applied by taking an issue up the chain of command to a higher U.S. commander. The U.S. commander can then bring his counterpart to force the subordinate counterpart to comply. Psychological pressure may obtain quick results but may have very negative side effects. The counterpart will feel alienated and possibly hostile if the advisor uses such techniques. Offers of payment in the form of valuables may cause him to become resentful of the obvious control being exerted over him. In short, psychologically pressuring a counterpart is not recommended. Such pressure is used only as a last resort since it may irreparably damage the relationship between the advisor and his counterpart
PSYOP [Psychological Operations] Support for Military Advisors
The introduction of military advisors requires preparing the populace with which the advisors are going to work. Before advisors enter a country, the HN [Host Nation] government carefully explains their introduction and clearly emphasizes the benefits of their presence to the citizens. It must provide a credible justification to minimize the obvious propaganda benefits the insurgents could derive from this action. The country’s dissenting elements label our actions, no matter how well-intended, an “imperialistic intervention.”
Once advisors are committed, their activities should be exploited. Their successful integration into the HN [Host Nation] society and their respect for local customs and mores, as well as their involvement with CA [Civil Affairs] projects, are constantly brought to light. In formulating a realistic policy for the use of advisors, the commander must carefully gauge the psychological climate of the HN [Host Nation] and the United States.
PRC [Population & Resources Control] Operations.
Advisors assist their counterparts in developing proper control plans and training programs for PRC measures. They also help coordinate plans and requests for materiel and submit recommendations to improve the overall effectiveness of operations. They can be helpful in preparing to initiate control.
- Select, organize, and train paramilitary and irregular forces.
- Develop PSYOP [Psychological Operations] activities to support PRC operations.
- Coordinate activities through an area coordination center (if established).
- Establish and refine PRC operations.
- Intensify intelligence activities.
- Establish and refine coordination and communications with other agencies.
- Newsweek.Special Forces May Train Assassins, Kidnappers in Iraq by Michael Hirsh & John Barry, Jan. 14, 2005, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6802629/site/newsweek/print/1/displaymode/1098/
- US State Department, FOIA record, http://foia.state.gov/documents/elsalvad/738d.PDF
by Stephen Lendman
June 18, 2008
Review of Doug Dowd’s “At the Cliff’s Edge” (Part II)
Dowd’s book is an essential text for students and adults. It’s a critical review of 500 years of history that brought us to today’s unprecendented dangers. Part I covered four and one-half centuries through WW II. Part II continues the story to the present.
Part III – Our World Today: Great Possibilities, Worsening Realities – 1950s – 1960s: Monopoly Capitalism, Cold War
Compared to what followed, the 1950s (post-Korean War period) were placid by comparison. Things changed:
— 1960 – black student sit-downs began at store counters; civil rights agitation revved up;
— 1961 – Eisenhower warned of a “military industrial complex;” it wasn’t heeded, and Cuba foiled the Bay of Pigs invasion; it was the first of hundreds of attempts to remove Fidel Castro; most by assassination, and once it nearly succeeded;
— 1962 – the Cuban missile crisis; later evidence showed how close the world came to nuclear disaster;
— 1963 – Martin Luther King marches on Birmingham; his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington; JFK assassinated in November; Vietnam hostilities escalate;
— 1964 – the Senate passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution “legitimizing” war on Vietnam; only two senators opposed it;
— 1965 – war intensifies; North Vietnam bombed; Malcolm X assassinated; riots erupt in Los Angeles Watts District;
1966 – US troop buildup escalates;
1967 – Martin Luther King’s anti-Vietnam war speech one year to the day before his assassination; American street riots spread;
1968 – Tet turns the war; Martin Luther King assassinated; also Bobby Kennedy; Nixon elected; six and half more years of war;
1969 – Nixon announces “Vietnamization;” promises to end the war; intensifies it instead; secretly bombs Cambodia and Laos; North Vietnam as well; secret peace talks begun between Kissinger and Le Duc Tho; US duplicity highlights them; the Paris Peace Accords signed in January 1973; Saigon falls in 1975; remaining US civilian and military forces withdraw; Vietnam is still recovering; no reparations paid or war criminals prosecuted; the Cold War spreads; capitalism solidifies.
Capitalism is both a social and economic system. Economists Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy called it “monopoly capitalism (monocap).” Its six power components are:
— giant corporations;
— partnered with friendly giant states;
— consumerism that Paul Baran defined as wanting things we don’t need, not ones we do;
— globalization at the center of the six; it exploits people, resources and markets worldwide in an endless quest for destructive growth;
— the military industrial complex; its fuel – enemies (mostly invented), wars, removal of “uncooperative” leaders, corruption, and disdain for the rule of law; ignored – homeland social costs and vast ecological devastation; and
— a supportive Big Media in an integrated world economy; democracy is disdained; so are people needs; society is uncaring; it characterizes America, and we’re exporting it everyone for a one-size fits all world run by made-in-Washington rules; rule No. One – we’re boss, and what we say goes.
The US Economy, 1970s – 2000: Its Crisis and Triumphs, Achievement and Disasters
Social and democratic advances occurred to some degree from the mid-1930s through the 1960s. Thereafter, they reversed and at an accelerating rate, especially post-1980 and even faster post-2000. For the past three and a half decades, there’s been a pronounced shift to the right. Business flourished. People suffer. That’s the plan with more of the same ahead.
Further, capitalism’s nature is problematic. As a system, it’s dysfunctional. It produces “periods of pervasive excess and productive capacities.” It’s essentially “destructive.” The 1970s reflect the problem. Dowd refers to the “defects of its virtues:”
— seemingly assured economic expansion yields higher costs and prices;
— global economy superstates become rife with inefficiency and corruption – in business and government;
— expansion yields excess productive capacities slowing economic growth;
— it also creates unprecedented debt – for business, government and consumers;
— in the 1970s, economic growth stagnated, but costs, prices and taxes rose; and
— unemployment rose; poverty and urban decay grew; social tensions built; politics shifted to the right, and its proposed solution was curb democracy and cut social expenditures.
Things began accelerating, and corporate giants became triumphant. Post-1980, successive friendly presidents supported them. Two parties effectively became one. Multinational corporations became transnational. Business was better than ever because of how capitalism works – taking from the many for the few. It can’t miss when governments back it.
Dowd reviewed its expansion through an unprecedented merger and acquisition (M & A) wave. In 1998 alone, there were 12,500 valued at $1.6 trillion. In two sectors especially – financial services and telecommunications, including the media. It got Fortune magazine to remark that “the face of the Global 500 was dramatically altered.” At 1998’s end, their revenues were $11.5 trillion, profits $440 billion, assets $39 trillion, and employees 40 million, after substantial downsizing “for greater efficiency.” People are production inputs. The less needed, the lower the cost, the greater the profits. That’s the idea behind setting down anywhere business operates cheapest regardless of people effects.
Sum it up – since the 1970s, average inflation-adjusted worker income and welfare declined, poverty rose, social benefits disappeared, and business got better than ever. Globalization flourished and with it the downsizing of a nation unmindful of homeland social costs. At the same time, the manufacturing base declined hugely, service industries grew, in financialization especially and with it speculative excess.
A scant 1% of the population sits at the top. Its rewards are outsized. Another one-fifth or so gained, while the remaining 80% have been weakened and cheated. Globalization is the driving force. Within it central banker demands take precedence. People and societal needs don’t matter, and financialization and the State are “two sides of the same coin.”
Borders are erased, capital is empowered, “externalities” are ignored, excess builds, so do profits, problems grow, the world gets more unlivable, but that’s for others in the future to deal with.
Dowd wrote his book in 2006 before mid-2007 market turbulence erupted. It was brewing and predicable, and he asked “Is the United States Building a Debt Bomb?” He cited a 1999 Business Week essay referring to a tsunami of debt – household, corporate, financial sector and government. The data were alarming and much more so now. They reflected direct financial institution borrowing plus investors’ securitized lending at $7 trillion compared to one-third that amount a decade earlier.
Add to it US foreign debt in the many trillions plus the impossible to repay national indebtedness in the many tens of trillions with unfunded liabilities factored in. It’s made US and world economies “more precariously situated today than ever before in history,” and it’s playing out in today’s market turbulence with no one sure what’s coming but most people worried or they should be.
Key to the problem is consumerism that Thorstein Veblen called “conspicuous” in his 1899 book “The Theory of the Leisure Class.” F. Scott Fitzgerald explained that “the very rich….are different from you and me.” Veblen wrote about their spending habits and coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption.” Today, it’s called “keeping up with the Jones” or consumerism – not for essentials but for outsized gratification, and not just by the rich.
Consumerism is virulent and destructive. It pays no heed to its consequences, and therein lies its problem – personal overindebtedness and rising bankruptcies; neglected health, education and other essential needs; ecological destruction; unhealthy and unsafe consumer products; militarism and foreign wars; and democratic decay in a corporate-empowered state.
Consumers have lost their senses, have become “bewitched,” and Dowd wonders what’s next. He’s not encouraged by what’s happened thus far with the world “at the cliff’s edge.”
1970s – 2000: Social Deterioration, Politics, and Society
Why so? Things never should have come to this, but they did. When the 19th century ended, “the time had come when, for the first time in history, the basic needs of the people of industrial societies (could) be met:”
— adequate nutrition and clean water;
— good education;
— health care;
— proper housing; and
— access to opportunity in a modern world that today is even easier to provide, but it’s not in a society addicted to militarism, wars, and the benefit of the few over the many.
Industrial nations have no excuse. “Long ago (they) became (able) to meet” basic needs. Take America. Our wealth is so great, resources abundant, ingenuity immense, and science and technology advanced that it’s unthinkable how poorly we performed. We’ve “long (been able) to meet all human and social needs at home and to cooperate” in lifting developing nations similarly.
Instead, we opted for the opposite, and look what’s happened. Everything’s commodified. Consumerism became religion and society warped. Values are corrupted, and people are sacrificed for profits. We rank shamefully low or lowest among industrial nations in most things mattering most – health care, education, adequate income and other essential human needs. We’re consumed by excess, greed, wealth, corruption, militarism, and the idea that markets work best so let them.
Even worse is the notion of unleashing business to accomplish it, and economist Milton Friedman taught how: privatize everything, eliminate social services and benefits, and every constraint on business like taxes, regulations, interest rate ceilings, and all consumer protections against waste, fraud, abuse and unsafe products. A paradise for business. Hell on earth for people. Hard to believe they buy this. Sadly most do, and today we’re consumed by it. Things aren’t improving. They’re worsening and to the point where the planet is endangered and young people have no future unless things radically change.
Further, inequalities are rising and essentials like health care are unaffordable for millions. Of the world’s 20 richest nations, America spends the most and provides the worst care to its citizens. World Health Organization rankings put us 37th behind developed countries like France and Italy plus others like Chile, Saudi Arabia and Colombia. Consider Cuba that’s viciously scorned as an outlier. It easily outclasses us in all health care categories because theirs is world-class, free, and accessible to everyone, including people in other countries where its doctors treat the needy. In America, that’s unimaginable except for providers doing it pro bono.
Dowd covers the topic broadly, and hits greedy drug companies, HMO’s and unneeded insurers hard. They add nothing to good care but plenty to costs with their bureaucratic add-ons that make care less affordable for millions. He also cites illness as the main source personal bankruptcies, the destruction of Medicaid, and the erosion of Medicare coverage for retirees.
Social Security is just as threatened. Dowd reviews the record, notes its built-in flaws, and explains the outlandish privatization scheme that will effectively end the most effective poverty-reduction program ever for retirees, the disabled and other eligible recipients. In George Bush’s “ownership society,” people can have anything if they pay for it. If not, they’re on their own, out of luck, and endangerment to life and welfare don’t matter.
Things are as bleak for public education. Privatization threatens a 373 year tradition that once served people well. No longer, and as a noted educator, Dowd shudders about the future. Imagine a country able to provide the best, yet opts for commodifying education the way it treats health care, other essentials, and all consumer products and services people don’t need but can’t live without.
“Reform” is the pretext behind it. It defines the misnamed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. It’s long on testing, school choice, and market-based “reforms” but short on real achievement. It’s built around rote learning, standardized tests, requiring teachers to “teach to the test,” assessing results by Average Yearly Progress (AYP) scores, and punishing failure harshly – firing teachers and principals, closing schools and transforming them from public to charter or for-profit ones. That’s the whole idea, of course, and it reflects current era thinking – that anything government does business does better, so let it, and the spirit behind it is bipartisan.
Dowd also laments about an educational system training students to obey authority, respect the status quo, and disenfranchise learning by adjusting classrooms to students instead of the reverse. From decades of teaching, he discovered that “when education is carried on as a learning process for the students, it is also one for the teacher.” He and his students learned more by answering their questions than having them answer his. In other words, an open interchange between teacher and students for the betterment of all, and knowing that rote memory isn’t learning, let alone understanding.
Education in America is mirror-opposite this. Students are cheated and likely manipulated the way they’ll be short-changed and marginalized as adults – in an “ownership society” uncaring of people. Whether education, health care, proper nutrition, or housing, America disdains the needy and blames them for their misfortune. It’s shocking, disturbing and undiscussed in the mainstream where images show all things people don’t need and none of what’s essential.
1970s – 2000: Savaging the American Dream: Inequality, Corruption in Politics, the Media
Ideologies justify the unjustifiable root of capitalism – inequality as “natural and normal” with victims responsible for their own misfortunes. On this score, America is “world champ” and then some.
Consider equality for starters. At birth our needs are equal. Our opportunities should be and be minimally met from cradle to grave. Not so under capitalism where “everything is always up for grabs.” Worse still, and especially in America, race, gender and class play heavily into defining our needs and possibilities, and those topping the power structure make the rules. It makes us world leader in racism, poverty and inequality extremes. It’s no way to run a democracy. It’s never been another way, but today it’s worse and much more dangerous.
Wages don’t keep pace with costs, poverty is rising, inequality growing, discriminatory practices extreme, and they show up in countless data rarely discussed:
— voter disenfranchisement; elections reduced to theater with half or more eligible opting out; why not when candidates are pre-selected, machines do our voting, losers are declared winners, and winners don’t complain;
— constitutional protections erased in a post-9/11 world;
— a burgeoning prison population; now the largest in the world and mostly for blacks, hispanics and the poor for whom due process and equal justice are near impossible;
— a plague of two household earners of necessity and combined it’s often not enough; young children, of course, suffer without an at-home caregiver, preferably a mother or father;
— an unprecedented wealth disparity between an elite few and most others; distinguishing between wealth from income with over half to the rich through inheritance; case in point – the current Bush generation with Bush I once described as being born on third base and thinking he hit a triple; Bush II bested his father plus his dark side as well; from his earliest days; pre-college as a boy; to his time as Texas governor when his aides described him as a man who enjoys killing – in reference to how many executions he presided over – more than in any other state after the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Many other examples are similar. They show inequality extremes and dismissiveness of human needs as “capitalism moved toward industrialization (and) workers became (wage-enslaved) laborers.” With globalization, it’s everywhere to serve an insatiable desire to “accumulate.” It’s ideologically ingrained in us. Schools teach it. Media and PR wizardry sell it. Big money creates it. Politicians are bought to back it. Even the clergy are on board.
Mind management is clever, manipulation now easy, infotainment passes for reality, disinformation for truth, and the American dream is pure illusion and more nightmare. Dowd cites the “deep-seated corruption of the media.” It’s all-pervasive in commercial and political communication supporting big business, public harm, and erasing dwindling democratic remnants for plunder in disdain for human needs.
US Militarism, Past and Present: Talking Peace, Making War
All nations are culpable but none more than America – waging war for the sake of peace without cause so it’s invented. The US today is omnipotent, mostly resource self-sufficient, and easily able to obtain all else it needs. In addition, it has no enemies and never did except during WW II. Even then, FDR provoked Japan into attacking, and Germany was obliged to its axis partner to declare war on us in support.
Nonetheless, America has been at war with one or more adversaries every year in our history without exception – abroad and/or internally. We’re just as violent at home. We have the highest homicide rate in the West; a passion for owning guns; a craving for violent films, television and video games; and our society is called a “rape culture.” The human toll is horrific, yet hardly discussed.
Dowd laments that “we haven’t learned to hate war enough,” and adds up “the arithmetic of slaughter.” For America alone:
— WW I – 110,000 dead (one-half from combat) and 200,000 wounded;
— WW II – 400,000 dead and 670,000 wounded;
— Korea – 36,000 dead and 103,000 wounded; and
— Vietnam – 58,000 dead and 153,000 wounded.
To these numbers add many hundreds of thousands more with deep emotional scars plus many others taking ill from exposure to toxic environments. Add also the bloodiest war in US history – the Civil War. Three million fought on both sides and 600,000 died at a time the population was 31 million, including 4 million slaves. In proportional WW II terms, it would have taken 2.5 million lives. Today – six million.
Our adversaries fared much worse – at least three million Koreans, another million Chinese, three to four million Southeast Asians, countless millions of noncombatants plus immeasurable amounts of destruction. Even these numbers pale compared to WWs I and II – over 20 million killed in the first and up to 60 million in the second plus countless millions wounded and displaced.
Today the toll rises daily in Iraq and Afghanistan in numbers far higher than reported. Official ones are fiction – for US combatants but far more so for Iraqis and Afghans. Some estimates since the Gulf War place sanctions-caused deaths at around 1.7 million, including 1.2 million children under age five. Add another 200,000 violent Gulf war deaths and up to two million 2003-2007 war deaths, including 800,000 children under age five according to UNICEF. For Afghanistan from 2001- 2007, estimates range up to 3.2 million deaths, including 700,000 children under age five.
Consider US casualties as well. Again, media-reported figures are fiction. One estimate totals combatant deaths plus Pentagon wounded count updates. It tops 85,000 from hostile and non-hostile causes plus many thousands later reported with brain traumas from explosions. It leaves out future illnesses and deaths from toxic substances exposure, most critically depleted uranium. In addition, the VA-reported 18 daily suicides and the greatest tolls of all from various studies – from 18.5% to 32% with post-traumatic stress (PTSD) disorders plus another 19% with concussions and/or head wounds-inflicted brain injuries. Before these wars end, many hundreds of thousands of Americans alone will be scared for life or dead.
For Iraqis and Afghans, it’s many times more hellish with no end of conflict and occupation in sight and worrisome signs of further war against Iran. Dowd is justifiably angry. He states that “come hell or high water, no matter what, those who rule the USA will never learn. But will we (in time to stop them).”
Part IV – Toward a Better World – Or the Worst Ever? – At the Cliff’s Edge
Dowd states what’s hard to dispute – that “we live in what must be seen as the most perilous times ever” with his finger pointing squarely at America as culprit. He cites an “abyss” of:
— unending wars, possibly nuclear ones; each one begets the next;
— a fragile world economy; excess greed; unrepayable mountains of debt; America eating its seed corn;
— pervasive political, business and social corruption; stolen elections highlight it; so is an illusory democracy and the power of big money running everything; and
— potential environmental disasters.
These are multiple ticking time bombs. Any one of them can destroy us. Conditions aren’t improving. They’re worsening. The stakes keep getting greater, but most Americans are distracted and unmindful.
Dowd blames it on “demon growth” – on capitalism’s toxic fallout. Its nature demands more by exploiting “nonhuman and human elements of nature – in a destructive and tragic interaction.” With unimaginable capacities for good, they’re wasted on producing ills. Damage keeps mounting inexorably toward a harsh future fate.
Unless we change and live differently, we’ll “go down with our planet as a species.” Knowing what to do is easy. Doing it another matter. We’ve so far not even tried.
A Democratic and Totalitarian or a Genuinely Democratic Society?
Dowd quotes Lincoln during the Civil War saying: “We must ‘disenthrall’ ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” He meant accepting reality and ending self-deception. It applies more today than ever, but does anyone notice. Some but too few.
We’re afflicted with too many “isms,” negative ones – racism, sexism, consumerism, nationalism, militarism, imperialism and capitalism. Shorting of ending them, we’re heading “toward degeneration and self-destruction.”
— change “ingrained habits of mind;”
— never lose hope; the impossible is possible; by effort, not wishing;
— future predictions are futile; they’ll be what people make them; promising signs emerge; weakening US dominance is one;
— remember Antonio Gramsci’s challenge – “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will;” don’t just think it; do it; become political, informed, active, disruptive; know the stakes; spread the word; do it now and keep doing it;
— we’ve done it; it works; it freed black slaves, empowered unions, produced civil rights and won impressive social gains; all too often then lost; movements lose their energy; people “rest on their oars;” elitists take advantage; they’ve never been more empowered; it’s time to heed Arundhati Roy; “we are many, they are few.”
We’re all in this together. It’s “one world or none at all.” Unity is essential and plenty of it. Otherwise, we’re heading for “disarray, degeneration, and disaster.” We alone control our fate. The goal – a world society based on cooperation, not competition. One without “isms,” at least the above negative ones. Invent a new one or use none at all. What matters is what we produce – democracy, real, not illusory: “culturally, economically, politically, socially” with humans as part of nature, not its adversary. And fundamental is that wars won’t be tolerated – never as a first or last resort. Each begets the next. Their dangers inevitably increase. They’re now too horrific to contemplate. Ending them is the only choice or they’ll end us.
“If not now, when? If not us, who?” If not soon, maybe never. If that’s not incentive enough, what is?
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to the Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs archived for easy listening.
© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9374
The following article originally appeared in The Mountain Sentinel two years ago. Currently there are a number of people making panicky statements that everyone needs to relocate. To present a fair assessment of the idea and to help calm people down, I have decided to reprint this article for free.
Since this article was written, my family has moved from Appalachian Kentucky to Evansville, Indiana. Evansville is not a haven of preparedness. It will face many problems as we enter an age of energy depletion and impoverishment. Our reason for moving here is that we have a lot of family in this area, and family can be a far more important resource than any other.
My daughter is in public schools now. While she does battle with the authoritarian rigidity, patriotic propaganda and religious zealotry that plague the public schools, she is at least making friends.
For my part, when I can spare a little time from working on novels and short stories, or playing the fiddle and the banjo, I do a little work with the local sustainability group, and the food co-op.
As this article asserts, there is no place in North America that is ideally prepared for the joint crises of resource depletion, environmental destruction and economic impoverishment that now loom before us. Relocation is an option, but for many people it is not the best option — perhaps for most people.
The Delusion of Survivalism
Many people have asked me where they should go to survive the end of the oil age. People asking this question generally fall into one of two groups, those who believe that civilization will disintegrate into lawless chaos where former neighbors will be preying upon each other and hordes of murderous starving bandits will swarm out of the cities to feed on the suburbs. The other group are those who see things breaking down, but not to the point where they must seek to defend themselves against every stranger. These people want to find a community and/or a farm where they can become self-reliant.
I will address the total breakdown group first. If there is a total breakdown of civilization and we are left with neighbors preying upon neighbors, then there is no place you can go. Whatever remote mountain hideaway you sneak off to, in this scenario you will have to deal with pillagers out to take what little you have. Anywhere you go, there are already people there.
In this day and age, the only places you can go to hide away are lacking in human population because they are so inhospitable. There are so few people there because it is so difficult to live there. And the few people who already live there probably meet that ecosystem’s limited carrying capacity for human beings.
As someone who has lived alone in the wilderness, I have to ask you: do you really want to be a hermit. Do you want to spend your entire day struggling for the basic necessities? Can you make your own clothing, build and maintain your own weapons, grow, forage and hunt enough food to feed yourself, lay in a sufficient store of fuel to keep you from freezing in the winter? The list goes on and on. Sure, you can survive off what you forage and hunt, make clothes and blankets out of hides, and live in a debris hut; but do you really want to?
Stop romanticizing about the myth of the rugged individualist. It is just that: a myth. Almost all of the rugged individualists I have met were maladjusted misanthropes who would likely have been institutionalized if they had lived among others. This is not to say that I have not known many sane and balanced mountainmen and mountainwomen. But the sane ones do not live in total isolation, however limited their interaction might be, they are part of a community.
Consider indigenous peoples throughout the world. They are not rugged individualists. They all belong to tribes. Their sense of identity is closely linked to the community of which they are a part. It is their family and their safety net. They could not imagine trying to make it on their own and would wonder why anyone would ever want to do such a thing. When they are taken out of their tribal setting and placed in modern civilization, they are lost without their community.
The pioneers were not rugged individualists. They knew that community was the key to their survival. They worked together to build their community, plant and harvest their crops and provide everyone within their community with the necessities of life. It was only with difficulty that their sense of community was squashed by the modern industrialized community and the centralized state.
Let’s get this straight. The myth of the rugged individualist is extolled by the dominant socioeconomic system because it helps cover up the atomization of society, and it leaves the disillusioned and disenfranchised uninclined to work together towards an alternative.
And where did you ever get the idea that you will have to fight your neighbors for survival, or that the cities will unleash hordes of desperate degenerates to pillage the countryside? This is an unlikely scenario. Sure there might be a rise in crime if the established order breaks down, or there might not. In large part, this depends on us.
When we look at examples of collapse, we do not see much real change in the crime rate. In a socioeconomic collapse, here does seem to be a relationship between the crime rate and the strength of community. The more tightly knit the community is, the lower the rise in crime, and vice versa.
During the Great Depression, people helped each other. Though they may have little to share, they did share it. During the collapse of the Soviet Union, people helped each other. Even in North Korea, people helped each other — though they were terribly repressed by there government.
The counter-argument is that this is a different situation. There will be no recovery, and in the US people are atomized, selfish and overly competitive. We are no longer predisposed to help each other, and there is very little sense of community left. Where people were once loyal to their community, they are now loyal to their company. And if that company closes its doors to them, they will do whatever it takes to survive.
My answer to that is Argentina. The people there were highly atomized and terrorized. More so, even, than people in the US. Decades of experience taught them not to concern themselves about their neighbors; to look out only for themselves. But when the Argentine economy collapsed, the people banded together to create one of our best examples of how people can respond positively on a grassroots level to a collapse. For details on this, I refer you to my article Coping with Collapse; Examples from Argentina in the The Mountain Sentinel, Vol. 1 No. 1.
The scenario that the collapse of the dominant socioeconomic system will result in a dog eat dog situation is another myth. This myth most likely evolved from the misconceptions of social Darwinists. It is reinforced by the fear mongering of the US news media which portrays our communities as dangerous places full of murderers, rapists and thieves. And it is fleshed out by our entertainment media (that is our manufactured perception of reality) that thrives on cop shows and violence.
We are taught that it is a dog eat dog world, where you must always watch out for the other guy, and where the successful businessman is he who reads The Art of War. Then we internalize the perception of crime and violence that we are fed daily by our media. It is no wonder that we wind up projecting our own fears and insecurities onto the world around us, believing that the collapse of the dominant system will leave us fighting each other for our very survival.
Where to Go
Okay, we have done away with the myths of survivalism. Now to address the second group: those who worry that their community is not prepared for the collapse of the dominant system and who are honestly wondering what to do and where to go. Let’s start off by stating that there is no place that is fully prepared for the collapse. There are a few places where a portion of the citizens in aware of the approaching problem and are beginning to prepare for it, but these places are at present very few and would be quickly overrun if we all headed there. As of this writing, most communities are unprepared and very few people are even aware of the pending problem. So, for the most part, you can forget about moving into a community where people are already aware of the problem and are actively addressing it.
Now, where should you live? There are four choices: wilderness, rural, urban and suburban. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks; except for suburban, which has most of the drawbacks of both rural and urban with few benefits.
If you are living in a wilderness area, you will want to become completely self-sufficient and you might want to hide your location as well. We have already discussed wilderness living somewhat in the section above. It still presents a viable option, which would probably be best pursued if a group of likeminded people move to the wilderness to establish their own community. The difficulties in doing so would be very similar to the difficulties encountered by the first settlers who came the North America, but would be further complicated by the fact that the remaining wilderness areas are largely inhospitable areas that cannot sustain too many people.
If you are living in a rural area, then you will want to become a family farmer living as part of a farming community. A farmer’s life can be a hard life, but it is not without its rewards. One major benefit of being a farmer is that, so long as you can hold onto your land, you will have food. Bear in mind, farming is not something you just decide to do. Even if you have the right skills and a knowledge of farming, it will take some years of preparation, trial and error before you have gained enough experience to even begin becoming a self-sufficient farmer. Perhaps your greatest resource will be the advice of the experienced farmers who are your neighbors.
If you are in an urban area, you will want to organize your community so that you can survive with the cooperation of your community. You will want to establish community gardens, and self-sufficient utilities such as water and sewage. And you will need to form an agricultural cooperative with outlying farmers, to help supply your community with the food you cannot grow.
It is those living in the suburbs who would be wisest to pull up stakes and move to one of the other three areas. Suburbanites are too widely scattered to build any sort of functioning community, yet too concentrated to feed themselves by farming. If most of the residents of a suburb move away, the few remaining might be able to plow up all of the lawns and become farmers, but they will be lacking the support communities that are already established in rural areas. The worst off of the suburbanites will be those who live in trailer parks, closely followed by those who live in condos. There are simply too many people in these locations and the living quarters simply won’t be viable without heating, electricity, water or sewage treatment.
Do You really Want to Move?
If you move, you will be the new kid on the block. Even in wilderness areas, there are residents who will look on you as the new-comer. You may always be the outsider. And if things become difficult, you may be persecuted simply because are new.
If things have become difficult before you even begin to consider your move, then you probably won’t be welcome anyplace else. Communities struggling to survive are not going to welcome the displaced.
If you move too far away, you will have to contend with cultural and language differences. These differences will mark you and serve to keep you apart. If you move to a small town in the south and do not join a church, then you are likely to remain isolated. If you are moving as little as 300 miles south or north of your current latitude, you will likely find yourself in a different climate. Though you may have been an experienced gardener in your former home, you will have to learn what to grow in your new location and when to plant it.
Stop and think for a moment. If you have been living in your present location for several years, then you know what is around you. If you need something, you know where to go to find it. And you know what neighborhoods to avoid. You have a network of friends and acquaintances. You know where the local farmer’s market is, where the food co-ops are, and where you can find community activists with whom you can work. And, though you might not realize it, you probably know where to go to fish, to hunt, to forage.
In your new location, you will know none of that. If times are already getting hard when you make your move, then you will be at a distinct disadvantage.
Although the idea of moving might have some appeal — certainly, the grass is always greener — do you really want to move? You need to decide whether it would be preferable to move to a new and unknown community, or to help organize the community where you are already at home. Instead of asking “Where should I go?”, you should be asking “Where do I want to live?” And, if you honestly consider all of the possibilities and important factors, your answer might be to stay right where you are and get more involved in your local community.
Speaking from Experience
Early in the year 2001, we had a family catastrophe that forced me to leave my position, pull up stakes and move. All of our savings was used up paying for medical and legal expenses. With what little we had left, we had to find a new home in an area where I could find no employment in the field for which I was trained. We wound up buying a trailer in a mobile home park, and went to work as a substitute teacher until I could make enough money as a journalist and author to leave that job.
We lived in that trailer park until summer of 2005. Although we were grateful to have a roof over our heads, the neighborhood was bad and the trailer was too small. Our yard was a small lot composed of shaded sand and acidic soil. We couldn’t grow anything on the little land we did have. From the beginning, we knew that we would have to get out of this trailer park, preferably before the economy went sour.
In summer of 2005, we did make a move, all the way from Michigan down to Kentucky. The major factor in choosing the location was the proximity to relatives in southern Indiana and Tennessee. The price of real estate and the affordability of a mortgage were also major factors. There were other factors that I won’t get into here. In hindsight, although we now have more room, a better yard and a much safer neighborhood, the move has not placed us in a much better position.
The town we live in, as it turns out, is a dead town that has been overtaken not by suburbs but by suburbanites. While it looks like a small town, and it has a local government (indeed, it is the county seat), it is not a functional town in the sense that the residents meet all of their needs locally. We drive 20 miles to do our grocery shopping, and 60 miles to do any major shopping, or to reach the only decent food co-op in the area. Most of the people who live in this town make a 20 to 60 mile drive to work every day. When the price of gasoline climbs over $4.00 per gallon, people around here are going to have a very difficult time carrying on with their lifestyles.
We are very isolated in this community. We are not church-going people, and so there is no social interaction with our neighbors. We have been invited to attend a couple of the local churches, and though we have been tempted to go simply for the socialization, we can’t bring ourselves to actually do so. We have started attending services at the Unitarian Universalist church 20 miles away, but none of the other members reside in our area.
Our daughter, who is now 14, has no friends. When we first moved here, we sent her to public schools. Though we quickly found that the local schools were 3 years behind the schools she attended up in Michigan, we kept her in the school so that she could make friends. She did meet a couple of girls who were friendly, she did not socialize with them outside of school because we did not attend their church. Other kids teased her because she was different. In the end, we started home schooling her. We have found her one friend, who subsequently moved 40 miles away. And it is mainly to provide her with social activity that we began attending the Unitarian church.
Last summer we planted a large garden, but most of it failed because of the heat. We did get a good crop of green beans, a fair crop of carrots and a few tomatoes, but everything else failed, including corn, squash (zucchini, summer and acorn squash), cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and peas. We have since learned that down here peas should be planted early in the spring, while cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower should be planted at the beginning of September. But nobody down here did well with their gardens this summer. It was too wet in the spring and again in at the end of summer, while midsummer was much too hot and dry. And fall has struck hard and cold this year, so fall/winter crops are suffering as well.
Michigan had a lot of state land where I could hunt, forage and simply enjoy nature. And there were any number of lakes up there for fishing, not to mention the Great Lakes. Because it was largely settled before becoming a state, Kentucky has very little open state land. It is mostly private land and some national forest. There are some rivers down here, but I don’t know that I would eat anything out of them, even if I knew where to fish them. And there are a few small manmade trout ponds where you can pay to fish in a puddle so small I would have a tendency to caste right over the water and hit the guy on the far shore. I wouldn’t know where to hunt around here or where to forage. And half of the plant I normally forage for — such as cattail or boneset — are comparatively hard to find around here.
No doubt, if I had grown up in Kentucky, none of this would be a problem. I would know where to hunt and forage, or I would know who to ask permission to hunt and forage on their land. And we would be recognized members of the community. But, as it is, it was a mistake to move here, and now my hope is to get out of here before things fall apart. I wish that somebody had given me the advice I have tried to pass along in this essay, and I wish that I would have listened to it.
by Ralph Nader
Tuesday, June 17. 2008
Here is a counter-intuitive story for you. Why don’t organized corporate interests challenge damage or risks to their clear economic interests?
Think about oil prices for big consumers, not just your pocketbook. Airlines are groaning, limiting flights, and laying off employees because of the skyrocketing price for aviation fuel. Executives in that industry say that fuel costs are close to 40 percent of the cost of flying you to your destination. Continue reading
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 11
ESTABLISHMENT OF PERMANENT U.S. MILITARY BASES IN IRAQ
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 12 (12, 13)
INITIATING A WAR AGAINST IRAQ FOR CONTROL OF THAT NATION’S NATURAL RESOURCES
CREATING A SECRET TASK FORCE TO DEVELOP ENERGY AND MILITARY POLICIES WITH RESPECT TO IRAQ AND OTHER COUNTRIES
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 13. (14, 15)
MISPRISION OF A FELONY, MISUSE AND EXPOSURE OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION AND OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE IN THE MATTER OF VALERIE PLAME WILSON, CLANDESTINE AGENT OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
PROVIDING IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION FOR CRIMINAL CONTRACTORS IN IRAQ
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 14. (16)
RECKLESS MISSPENDING AND WASTE OF US TAX DOLLARS IN CONNECTION WITH IRAQ CONTRACTORS
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 15. (17)
ILLEGAL DETENTION: DETAINING INDEFINITELY AND WITHOUT CHARGE PERSONS BOTH U.S. CITIZENS AND FOREIGN CAPTIVES
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 16. (19)
RENDITION: KIDNAPPING PEOPLE AND TAKING THEM AGAINST THEIR WILL TO “BLACK SITES” LOCATED IN OTHER NATIONS, INCLUDING NATIONS KNOWN TO PRACTICE TORTURE
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 26
MISLEADING CONGRESS AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IN AN ATTEMPT TO DESTROY MEDICARE
KATRINA: FAILURE TO PLAN FOR THE PREDICTED DISASTER OF HURRICANE KATRINA, FAILURE TO RESPOND TO A CIVIL EMERGENCY
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 7. (4)
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 8. (5, 6, 7)
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 9. (8, 9)
Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 10. (10)
More at http://therealnews.com/c.ph…
Sen. Byron Dorgan, (D) N. Dakota, says he does not support Kucinich on impeachment proceedings