Fidel Castro and the FARC – Eight Mistaken Thesis of Fidel Castro

Dandelion Salad

By James Petras
07/08/08 “ICH”

I have been a supporter of the Cuban Revolution for exactly fifty years and recognize Fidel Castro as one of the great revolutionary leaders of our time.  But I have never been an uncritical apologist: On several crucial occasions I have expressed my disagreements in print, in public and in discussions with Cuban leaders, writers and militants.  Fidel Castro’s articles and commentaries on the recent events in Colombia, namely his discussion of the Colombian regime’s freeing of several FARC prisoners (including three CIA operatives and Ingrid Betancourt) and his critical comments on the politics, structure, practices, tactics and strategy of the FARC and its world-renowned leader, Manuel Marulanda, merit serious consideration.

Castro’s remarks demand analysis and refutation, not only because his opinions are widely read and influence millions of militants and admirers in the world, especially in Cuba and Latin America, but because he purports to provide a ‘moral’ basis for opposition to imperialism today.  Equally important Castro’s unfortunate diatribe and critique against the FARC, Marulanda and the entire peasant-based guerrilla movement, has been welcomed, published and broadcast by the entire pro-imperialist mass media on five continents.  Fidel Castro, with few caveats, has uncritically joined the chorus condemning the FARC and, as I will demonstrate, without reason or logic.

Eight Erroneous Theses of Fidel Castro

1.      Castro claims that the ‘liberation’ of the FARC political prisoners “opens a chapter for peace in Colombia, a process which Cuba has been supporting for 20 years as the most appropriate for the unity and liberation of the peoples of our America, utilizing new approaches in the complex and special present day circumstances after the collapse of the USSR…” (Reflections of Fidel Castro, July 4, 2008).

What is astonishing about this thesis (and the entire essay) is Castro’s total omission of any discussion of the mass terror unleashed by Colombia’s President Uribe against trade unionists, political critics, peasant communities and documented by every human rights group in and out of Colombia in both of his recent essays.  In fact, Castro exculpates the current Uribe regime, the most murderous regime, and puts the entire blame on ‘US Imperialism’.  Since the “collapse of the Soviet Union”, and under the US-led military offensive, a multitude of armed revolutionary movements have emerged in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nepal, and other pre-existing armed groups in Colombia and the Philippines,  have continued to engage in struggle.  In Latin America, the “new approaches” to revolution were anything but peaceful – massive popular uprisings overthrowing corrupt electoral politicians in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela…costing many hundreds of lives.

The “liberation” of Betancourt has strengthened the iron fist of the Uribe regime, increased the militarization of the countryside, and covered up the on-going death squad murders of trade unionists and peasants.  Contrary to Fidel Castro, the US and Colombia’s death squad president have used their ‘success’ to buttress their arguments in favor of joint US-Colombian military action.  Fidel’s celebration of the Colombian regime’s action as an “opening for peace” serves to deflect attention from the Colombian Supreme Court decision claiming that the re-election of Uribe was illegal because of the tyrant’s bribing Congress people to amend the constitutional provision allowing the president a second term.

2.      Fidel Castro denigrates the recently deceased leader of the FARC, Manuel Marulanda, as a “peasant, communist militant, principle leader of the guerrilla” (Reflections).  In his text of July 5, 2008 (Reflections II), Castro condescendingly refers to “Marulanda of notable natural intelligence and leadership qualities, on the other hand never had opportunities to study when he was an adolescent.  It is said he only finished the fifth grade.  He conceived (of the revolution) as a long and prolonged struggle, a point of view which I never shared.”  Castro was the son of a plantation owner and educated in private Jesuit colleges and trained as a lawyer.  He implies that education credentials and higher status prepares the revolutionary leadership to lead the peasants lacking formal education, but with ‘natural leadership qualities’ apparently sufficient to allow them to follow the intellectuals and professionals better suited to lead the revolution.

The test of history however refutes Castro’s claims.  Marulanda built, over a period of 40 years, a bigger guerrilla army with a wider mass base than any Castro-inspired guerrilla force from the 1960’s to 2000.

Castro promoted a theory of ‘guerrilla focos’ between 1963-1980, in which small groups of intellectuals would organize an armed nucleus in the countryside, engage in combat and attract mass peasant support.  Every Castro-ite guerrilla foco was quickly defeated – wiped out – in Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay (urban focos), Bolivia and Argentina.  In contrast, Marulanda’s prolonged guerrilla war strategy relied on mass grass roots organizing based on close peasant ties with guerrillas, based on community, family and class solidarity, building slowly and methodically a national political-military people’s army.  In fact, a serious re-examination of the Cuban revolution reveals that Castro’s guerrillas were recruited from the mass of urban mass organizations, methodically organized prior to and during the formation of the guerrilla foco in 1956-1958.

Although reliable figures on the FARC are available, Castro underestimated by half the number of FARC guerrillas, relying on the propaganda of Uribe’s publicists.

3.      Castro condemns the ‘cruelty’ of the FACR tactics “of capturing and holding prisoners in the jungle.”  With this logic, Castro should condemn every revolutionary movement in the 20th century beginning with the Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions.  Revolutions are cruel but Fidel forgets that counter-revolutions are even crueler.  Uribe established local spy networks involving local officials, as was done in Vietnam during that war.  And the Vietnamese revolutionaries eliminated the collaborators because they were responsible for the execution of tens of thousands of village militants.  Castro fails to comment on the fact that Ms. Betancourt, upon her celebrated ‘liberation’ embraced and thanked General Mario Montoya.  According to a declassified US embassy document, Montoya organized a clandestine terrorist unit (‘American Anti-Communist Alliance’), which murdered thousands of Colombian dissidents, almost all of them ferociously tortured beforehand.  The ‘cruelty’ of FACR captivity did not show up in Betancourt’s medical exam:  She was in good health!

4.      Fidel claims “Cuba is for peace in Colombia but not US military intervention”.  It is the Colombian oligarchy and Uribe regime, which has invited and collaborated with the US military intervention in Colombia.  Castro implies that US military intervention is imposed from the outside, rather than seeing it as part of the class struggle within Colombia, in which Colombia’s rulers, landowners and narco-traffickers play a major role in financing and training the death squads.  In the first 6 months of 2008, 24 trade union leaders have been murdered by the Uribe regime, over 2,562 killed over the past twenty years since what Castro describes as the “new roads of complex and special circumstances.”  Fidel totally ignores the continuities of death squad murders of unarmed social movement activists, the lack of solidarity from Cuba toward all the Colombian movements since Havana developed diplomatic and commercial ties with the Uribe regime.

Is balancing between Cuba’s state interest in diplomatic and economic ties with Colombia and claiming revolutionary credentials part of the “complexities” of  Cuban foreign policy?

5.      Castro calls for the immediate release of all FARC-held prisoners, without the minimum consideration of the 500 guerrillas tortured and dehumanized in Uribe’s and Bush’s horrendous high security ‘special prisons’.  Castro boasts that Cuba released its prisoners captured during the anti-Batista struggle and calls for the FARC to follow Cuba’s example, rather than the Vietnamese and Chinese revolutionary approach.  Castro’s attempt to impose and universalize his tactics, based on Cuban experience, on Colombia lacks the minimum effort to understand, let alone analyze, the specificities of Colombia, its military, the political context of the class struggle and the social and political context of humanitarian negotiations in Colombia.

6.      Castro claims the FARC should end the guerrilla struggle but not give up their arms because in the past guerrillas who disarmed were slaughtered by the regime.  Instead, he suggests they should accept France’s offer to abandon their country or accept Chavez’ (Uribe’s ‘brother’ and ‘friend’) proposal to negotiate and secure a commission made up Latin American notables to oversee their integration into Colombian politics.

What are ‘armed’ guerillas going to do when thousands of Uribe’s soldiers and death squads ravage the countryside?  Flee to the mountains and shoot wild pigs?  Going to France means abandoning millions of starving vulnerable peasant supporters and the class struggle.

7.      Fidel Castro totally omits from his discussion the manner in which every political leader involved in the ‘humanitarian mission’ used the celebration of Betancourt’s ‘liberation’ to cover up and distract from their serious political difficulties.  First and foremost, Uribe’s re-election was ruled illegal by the Colombian Supreme Court because he was accused and convicted of bribing members of Congress to vote for the constitutional amendment allowing his running for a second term.  Uribe’s presidency is de facto illegal.  Betancourt’s release and delirious embrace of Uribe undermines the judicial verdict and eliminates the court injunction for a new Congressional vote or national election.  Sarkozy’s popularity in France was in a vertical free fall, his highly publicized intervention in the negotiations with the FARC were a total failure, his militarist policies in the Middle East and virulent anti-immigrant policies alienated substantial sectors of the French public (as did rising prices and economic stagnation).

The release of Betancourt and her effusive praise and embrace of Sarkozy revived his tarnished image and gave him a temporary respite from the burgeoning political and economic discontent with his domestic and foreign policies.

Chavez used the release of Betancourt to embrace his ‘enemy’, Uribe, and to put further distance from the FARC, in particular, and the popular movements in Colombia, as well as to build bridges with a post-Bush US President.  Chavez also returned to the good graces of the entire pro-imperialist mass media and favorable comments from the right-wing US Presidential candidate, John McCain, who “hoped the FARC would follow Chavez demands to disarm.”

Cuba, or at least Fidel Castro, used the ‘liberation’ of Betancourt to display his long-term hostility to the FARC (dating at least from 1990) for embarrassing his policy of reconciliation with the Colombian regime.

8.  Striking a humanitarian and quasi-electoral posture in celebrating Betancourt’s release, Castro lambasted the FARC for its ‘cruelty’ and armed resistance to the terrorist Uribe regime.  Castro attacked the FARC’s ”authoritarian structure and dogmatic leadership”, ignoring FARC’s endorsement of electoral politics between 1984-90 (when over 5,000 disarmed activists and political candidates were slaughtered), and the free and open debate over policy alternative in the demilitarized zone (1999-2002) with all sectors of Colombian society.  In contrast, Castro never permitted free and open debate and elections, even among communist candidates in any legislative process – at least until he was replaced by Raul Castro.

The above mentioned political leaders were serving their own personal political interests by bashing the FARC and celebrating Betancourt at the expense of the people of Colombia.


Has Castro clearly thought through the disastrous consequences for millions of impoverished Colombians  or is he thinking only of Cuba’s possible improvement of relations with Colombia once the FARC is liquidated?  The effect of Castro’s anti-FARC articles has been to provide ammunition for the imperial mass media to discredit the FARC and armed resistance to tyranny and to bolster the image of death squad President Uribe.  When the world’s premier revolutionary leader denies the revolutionary history and practice of an ongoing popular movement and its brilliant leader who built that movement, he is denying the movements of the future a rich heritage of successful resistance and construction.  History will not absolve him.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is “The Power of Israel in the United States” (Clarity Press, 2006). He can be reached at:
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.


Mounting questions about Colombian hostage operation

Unprofessional conduct

Is Betancourt release the end of FARC? + Film emerges of mission

Behind the Colombia hostage rescue

McCain defends free trade with Colombia

FARC leaders were paid millions to free hostages: Swiss radio

Palestinians document settler violence – 08 Jun 08

Dandelion Salad



This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.


The victim of a beating captured on videotape outside the West Bank city of Hebron has spoken about the day he was set upon by Jewish settlers.

Midhat Abu Karsh, a 30-year-old Palestinian teacher was beaten for allegedly setting fire to fields in the area.

Nour Odeh reports on how he and human rights groups are fighting back.

Czech Republic and U.S. sign radar base agreement

Dandelion Salad


The U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has just signed an agreement on an anti-missile radar base with her Czech counterpart, Karel Swarzenberg, in Prague.


Corruption And The Unspeakable by Bruce Gagnon

Poland rejects U.S. missile shield offer

Kucinich: You’ve spoken. Will Congress listen?

Dandelion Salad


Tens of thousands of Americans have put their names on the line by signing the petition (click here) supporting Articles of Impeachment against the President . In the next few days, it will become clear whether Congress will respond or further action is necessary. Click here for a special video message from Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Continue reading

Why does US need military bases around the world?

Dandelion Salad


More at…
Aijaz Ahmad: What would a rational American foreign policy look like?


What’s a rational American foreign policy? + Lieberman wants stronger action against Iran (Part I)

Averting Catatrophe: When the Leaders are the Problem

Dandelion Salad

by Dr. Daniel Ellsberg
Global Research
July 7, 2008

The following text was first published as an afterword to Flirting with Disaster: Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental (Hardcover) by Marc S. Gerstein and Michael Ellsberg

Dr. Gerstein’s final chapter has given guidelines for leaders on how they might avert the kinds of catastrophes described in this book. It would be good for society (and all organizations) if more leaders exhibited this kind of concern and followed the suggestions he gives.

However, in my own experience in government, and in my study of national security policy catastrophes in the decades since, I have come to believe that the most dangerous practices in the national security realm reflect priorities, in general, that are set by top officials: getting reelected, avoiding condemnation for past actions, or other political or bureaucratic objectives. Those priorities generally take great precedence over safety or preventing public harm.

The behavior of the people down below in the hierarchy is generally responsive to those priorities, because the way for them to keep their jobs and get ahead is self-evidently to conform to the priorities of their superiors, and especially the top boss. It isn’t as though the lower people in the organization themselves profit by adopting those priorities over other priorities, such as safety. But they want to keep their jobs, and they keep them by delivering to their superiors what they want. And what those superiors often want is help in avoiding or concealing documentation of warnings or recommendations that might convict them, on later examination, of self-interest or recklessness in choosing or continuing policies that failed.

Many of the examples in this book involve leaders consciously gambling with other people’s lives, on a catastrophic scale. In the case of Challenger, there was only a single instance when the engineers from Morton Thiokol, who had to sign off on the launch, tried to stop it. It wasn’t as though they were Chicken Littles, always getting in the way and making trouble. Launches were routinely being postponed for a day, but not by the Thiokol engineers. So that was an unprecedented warning by them. Yet the decision-makers went ahead.

You don’t have to be especially sympathetic to the decision-makers in these cases to assume that they didn’t consciously desire the disastrous outcomes that arose. That’s generally obvious. But the public tends to accept as a corollary: “No reasonable, decent person could have consciously risked this outcome if they recognized it was a serious possibility.”

That is a very plausible assumption. It expresses our deeply ingrained sense of ourselves and other human beings. But it is wrong. It is a widely held misunderstanding of the way we ordinary humans act in organizational settings, either in positions of power and responsibility, or as subordinates. Officials who have a public responsibility to make responsible choices do take reckless, unreasonable risks, more often and on a greater scale than most outsiders can even imagine. That fact is unfamiliar because, to avoid accountability and blame, those same officials conceal it, and direct their subordinates to cover it up; and the subordinates do so, again for understandable (though not admirable) career motives, acting as bystanders while risky gambles are undertaken. Dr. Gerstein focuses especially on the latter behavior, that of subordinates. Let me add some reflections on the behavior of the leaders.

What Dr. Gerstein shows is that reasonable people, who are not malicious, and whose intent is not to kill or injure other people, will nonetheless risk killing vast numbers of people. And they will do it predictably, with awareness. The Merck officials knew they were risking vast numbers of lives with Vioxx. So did the decision-makers responsible for protecting New Orleans. They knew the risks from the beginning, at every stage. In these and other cases, the responsible decision-makers may have underrated the risks in their own minds, but they knowingly took great efforts to conceal evidential data, at the time and later, from those who might judge differently.

In most of the cases in this book—Challenger, Katrina, Vioxx, Columbia, Chernobyl, Andersen—the leaders chose, in the face of serious warnings, to consciously take chances that risked disaster. What are the circumstances under which leaders take these kinds of gambles? My own experience and research suggests, very often, the following answer: when the potentially disastrous gamble offers the possibility of avoiding loss altogether, coming out even or a little ahead; and when the alternative to taking the gamble assures the certainty of loss in the short run—a loss that impacts the leader personally.

The sure loss that is rejected may appear small or even trivial to an observer, compared with the much greater damage, perhaps societally catastrophic, that is risked and often subsequently experienced. The latter damage, however, may be to “other people,” outside the decision-maker’s organization or even nation, and inflicted in “the long run”: thus, less easily attributed to this decision-maker, who may well have moved on by the time of the disaster. In effect, the decision-maker acts as if a sure, short-term loss to his own position—a perceived failure, risking his job or reelection or his influence—were comparably disastrous to a possible social catastrophe that costs many lives: an avoidable war, a widely used drug that proves to have lethal side effects, a dangerous product, the explosion of a nuclear plant or space vehicle.

In the leader’s eyes, both of these outcomes are “disasters.” One of them, resulting from a particular course of action, is sure to occur. The other is uncertain, a possibility under another course of action, though perhaps very likely—and it is combined with the possibility, not available with the other course, of coming out even or perhaps ahead, winning or at least not losing. In choosing the latter option, he sees himself as accepting the possibility of a loss—in the hope of coming out even—rather than accepting a certainty of a failure, defeat. It seems—and it is so presented to him by some advisers—a simple, inescapable decision, “no real choice”: the possibility of winning, or at least of avoiding or postponing defeat, versus a “no-win” course of action or, worse, a sure loss in the short run. He and these advisers simply ignore the fact that the scale of the respective losses, and who it is that mainly suffers them, are vastly different in the two courses. (I observed this bureaucratically over and over in Vietnam, and it is evident in current advocacy of occupying Iraq or attacking Iran.)

It was, in fact, the experimental work on choice by Kahneman and Tversky described by Dr. Gerstein that led me to recognize the frequency of the above choice-context, and of the resulting choice of a gamble involving possible catastrophe, as a common precursor to organizational or social disaster. In particular, these researchers’ discovery of the special salience given to “sure” outcomes, and of the greater strength of the impulse to avoid any loss—relative to some chosen benchmark—than to increase one’s gain, led me to understand in a new way otherwise baffling decisions that have led to major catastrophes in national security.

Applying hypotheses suggested by this research to decisions— including the escalation of the Vietnam War (in which I participated personally, on a staff level), the decision to invade and occupy Iraq, and to serious, secret threats to initiate nuclear war in more than a dozen crises—I have been forced to the following unhappy conclusion (which applies, on a smaller but still tragic scale, to many of the examples in this book): Men in power are willing to risk any number of human lives to avoid an otherwise certain loss to themselves, a sure reversal of their own prospects in the short run.

That grim proposition sounds extreme, I would say, largely because of near-universal and effective efforts to conceal the organizational decision-making data on alternatives and prospects that would reveal such preferences. Failure to conceal these data would point to culpability, recklessness, perhaps criminality on the part of specific decision-makers or a whole organizational team. Results could range from embarrassment, loss of prestige and influence, to expulsion from job or office, the downfall of an administration, even a prison sentence. The cover-up to avoid such accountability is usually successful. Hence, specific disasters—when the gambles are lost—appear to the public as shocking, inexplicable surprises. (And the public mistakenly infers, as it is meant to, that it appears the same way to the decision-makers involved.)

One lesson of this book is that you will not reduce those risks adequately by action within the firm or government agency. The organization has to be monitored by other organizations that are not under the same management, that don’t respond to the same boss. You can set up processes within the organization that make truth-telling, realistic assessments, and warnings of danger somewhat more likely. But that isn’t close to being an adequate solution. Subordinates who act like bystanders (to keep their jobs) are indeed part of the problem, as Gerstein argues, but the organization’s leaders themselves are the major part.

The most promising solution—in the case of government—is going back to the system that our founders set up. It obviously didn’t provide any guarantee, but it was an ingenious system of confronting men of power with other men of power within the system. Checks and balances; investigative powers of Congress, with subpoenas; investigators with some degree of independence from the president; an independent judiciary. All of these are things that you don’t have in a dictatorship. They are institutions that leaders such as Vice President Richard Cheney, for one, openly disdain.

These are not just luxuries that make us feel more free and privileged. They are vital safety mechanisms. Democratic, republican, constitutional government of the form invented here, revered at least in principle till recently, is less efficient and decisive than unrestrained executive power in what is effectively an absolute monarchy or dictatorship. Things move less fast, and there are constant complaints that nothing gets done, compared with a “unitary executive,” a presidency of unlimited “inherent powers” of the sort that Cheney and his special band of legal advisers prefer and proclaim. But the latter leads straight to a succession of Iraqs. As Tom Paine put it, most wars arise from “the pride of kings.”

Similar checks to unaccountable power and secrecy are needed, as Gerstein’s case studies show, in nongovernmental organizations and corporations. To mention a spectacular case not covered in this book, where cover-up was even more blatant than in most of Gerstein’s examples and the lethal effects even greater (comparable to the death tolls in major wars): Tobacco executives didn’t need more truth-telling within their organization to reduce vast dangers to the public. (For a recent account, see The Cigarette Century by Allan M. Brandt.) They were busily engaged in muffling every subordinate who brought up any warning, and preventing or neutralizing any warning by outsiders. All the major tobacco CEOs perjured themselves when they said in sworn testimony before Congress that “We have no knowledge that our product is carcinogenic, or that we market it to minors, or that it is addictive.” That was clear-cut perjury in every case, quite apart from the arguable criminality and certain lethality of their practices. Yet not one of them has been brought up on criminal charges, or even contempt of Congress.

Such indictments would be useful. It would save lives in the future if not only figures such as Jeffrey Skilling of Enron but also, more important, a lot of other leaders who take and conceal risks to the lives of others were to be indicted or impeached and subjected to criminal prosecution, if convicted, prison.

But above all, we need more whistle-blowers from within. Their truth-telling to outside authorities and audiences is essential. And the only way to get it—since dangers to their own careers in their organizations cannot be eliminated—is to somehow encourage them to accept those risks, for the benefit of others.

Is that asking the impossible? Difficult, unusual, unlikely, yes: yet it is humanly possible, and essential. Humans have the capability for great concern, altruism, and even self-sacrifice in the interest of others outside their immediate families and teams, and they very often show it: only not often enough, indeed quite rarely, in their official roles within organizations. Unfortunately, as human beings, we also all have the capability of being selective in our concern, and of being manipulated in our selectivity of concern by our leaders and colleagues in our groups.

A major reason for the occurrence of disasters is that, as humans, we often choose keeping our job, protecting our reputation, getting promoted, maintaining our access to inside information, getting reelected, assuring college education for our children, preserving our marriage, and holding on to our house in a nice neighborhood—all considerations that are neither trivial nor discreditable for any of us— over actions, including truth-telling to the public, that would risk some of these but which could potentially save vast numbers of other people’s lives.

I would like readers to realize—and this book has great potential for alerting them—that there may well come times when the amount of harm they could avert by speaking out could well outweigh the personal harm they might suffer by doing so, great though that might be.

When I released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, former senator Wayne Morse told me that if I had given him those documents at the time of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964 (when I had many of them in my office safe in the Pentagon), “The Resolution would never have gotten out of committee. And if it had been brought to a vote, it would never have passed.” That’s a heavy burden to bear. But scores of other officials, perhaps a hundred, could have given those documents to the Senate as well as I.

More recently, any one of a hundred people within the government could have averted the Iraq War by telling the public—with documents—what they knew about the lies the president was feeding the public. Yet no one did. A middle manager or even lower-level person could have saved the Challenger, or rung the bell on Vioxx. Shouldn’t one of them have done it, or more than one? Every one of the stories Dr. Gerstein tells could have had a happier ending if his book, existing earlier, had inspired one person in the respective organization—at the top, bottom, or in between—to act with moral courage.

When confronted with potential looming catastrophes, people within large organizations often think, Somebody else will take care of this. And surely the top people know more than I do. It’s their job to take care of it, and surely they will. The truth is, there’s no likelihood at all that the leaders will take care of it. If readers who find themselves facing organizational disasters realize, perhaps from this book, It’s up to me, and if I don’t do it, it’s probably not going to get done. The others aren’t going to do it. Maybe I’m the one who needs to do it, some may be more willing to take personal risks to avert catastrophes.

Thus, reading this book could change lives. From the examples given, a reader could recognize two things. First, in the words of a Chinese proverb my wife, Patricia, likes to quote: “If you don’t change course, you are likely to end up where you are heading.” If the course your team, your organization, or your nation is on looks to you as though it is going over a cliff, heading for a disaster, it may well be doing so.

Second, readers should realize, If I see this, and lots of other people see it, too, it does not follow that somebody else will take care of it. Disasters occur because leaders often choose crazy or dangerous courses and people like me don’t rock the boat. You, the reader, can choose otherwise.

In the situations Dr. Gerstein describes, the leaders do not lack for subordinates giving warnings within the organizational chain of command. The problem is that the warnings are stifled or overridden; subsequently, those who see the dangers and even see them happening keep their silence. My hope is that people reading this book might decide that averting catastrophe can be worth going outside the organization—warning the public, Congress, investigative bodies— and the media directly with documents to back it up. Many individuals inside government and corporations, from low-level clerks to upper managers and cabinet members, have that power—at the risk of their careers, to be sure—to tell the truth, and perhaps to rescue their own organizations or countries from disaster, as well as rescuing other potential victims.

For the last six years, since the Iraq War first approached (and more recently, equally disastrous prospects of attack on Iran), I have been urging patriotic and conscientious insiders who may be in the situation I once was in—holding secret, official knowledge of lies, crimes, and dangers of impending, wrongful, catastrophic wars or escalations—to do what I wish I had done in 1964 or early 1965, years earlier than I did: Go to Congress and the press and reveal the truth, with documents. The personal risks are real, but a war’s-worth of lives might be saved.

The following text was first published as an afterword to Flirting with Disaster: Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental (Hardcover) by Marc S. Gerstein and Michael Ellsberg

© Copyright Daniel Ellsberg, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is:


Personal Reflections on the Crisis in America by Richard C. Cook

The End of the Anglo-American Empire? by Richard C. Cook

Major US Sponsored “Organizational Catastrophes”: Learning from Past Disasters, Preventing Future Ones

Official PA paper: Israel “poisoning” prisoners?

Dandelion Salad

Roee Nahmias

In bid to increase Palestinian public pressure, official newspaper for Palestinian Authority reports of ‘medical experiments’ being conducted by Israel on Arab, Palestinian prisoners. ‘The Israeli occupation is killing prisoners through slow deaths,’ claims director general of prisoner affairs center at Al-Quds University

Incitement in the Palestinian media is far from rare, but with Israel on the cusp of a prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah and the fate of a similar deal for Palestinian prisoners still far from being finalized – the Palestinian Authority’s official newspaper is trying to ratchet up the pressure.

In a series of reports published in the ‘al-Hayat al-Jadida’ newspaper Israel is accused of poisoning Palestinian prisoners in its custody and conducting “medical experiments’ on them.


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.

Obama’s Convention Speech Moved To Stadium: McCain’s To Larry Craig Memorial Bathroom



by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
July 8, 2008

DENVER – Barack Obama will accept his party’s nomination before nearly 76,000 people as the venue for his speech has been moved from the Pepsi Center to Invesco Mile High Stadium. “By bringing the last night of the convention to the people, we will be showcasing Obama as a man of the people,” said Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, “beside if you scream into the microphone like I did in 2004, it sounds a lot better in a big stadium.”

By contrast, John McCain has announced that he will move his party’s acceptance speech from the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis on September 4th to the Larry Craig Memorial Bathroom at the Minneapolis International Airport. “We like the more intimate setting of the bathroom than the largeness of the Xcel Center,” said RNC co-Chairman Jo Ann Davidson, “besides it will save on global warming as the bathroom has only six lights, as opposed to the Center’s hundreds of thousands, and McCain can speak directly to an important part of the Republican base, closeted homosexuals who hate themselves.”

“He will be able to tap into the wide stance he takes on the three most important issues facing Americans today,” said Senator Craig. “which are how I am not gay, I never have been gay and how much I love my wife.”


Countdown: Economic Plans + Flip or No Flip on Iraq + Public Financing & Attack Ads

Bloated Military-Industrial Complex Needs to be Challenged in this Election

Dandelion Salad

by Sherwood Ross
Global Research
July 7, 2008

One issue the American people likely are not going to hear about in this presidential campaign are arguments for slashing a bloated Pentagon down to size. No matter that each passing day brings some new revelation of gross mismanagement, cronyism, waste, and extra-legal activity, it is a topic no candidate for the White House dares to broach lest he or she be deemed “naïve” or “soft” on the subject of defense. Yet, the military-industrial complex (MIC) is here and it is running this nation into the ground, sucking trillions of dollars out of taxpayers’ wallets and, by starving other human services, laying waste to civilian sectors in urgent need of repair and regeneration.

When the Pentagon was under construction, members of the Roosevelt cabinet questioned the wisdom of bringing together under one roof the numerous military offices scattered around Washington, D.C. They feared the impending consolidation of awesome martial powers into one of the greatest structures on earth; they worried, too, that the war machine might take on a life of its own. Tragically, their fears have been realized.

As James Carroll writes in “House of War” (Houghton Mifflin), by 1965 nearly 6 million Americans were employed in Pentagon-run enterprises. After all, in the 20 years following World War II, “the Pentagon spent nearly $100 billion, ten times the federal expenditures devoted to all aspects of health, education, and welfare in the same period.” By 1997, Father Philip Berrigan, humanitarian and anti-war activist, could tell the judge who would shortly sentence him to two years in prison for spilling blood on a U.S. warship: “The United States has spent fourteen trillion dollars on arms since 1946. Our government has intervened in the affairs of fifty nations and has violated the laws of God and humanity by designing, deploying, using, and threatening to use atomic weapons.”

Carroll sees it in much the same light: “The Pentagon is now the dead center of an open-ended martial enterprise that no longer pretends to be defense…the Pentagon has, more than ever, become a place to fear.”

“What the Bush administration has done,” Carroll writes, “is to lay bare the real character of the ‘disastrous rise’ of Pentagon power of which Eisenhower warned in 1961. In Iraq, despite America’s overwhelming military might, there will be no winning ever.”

Carroll’s words sound more prophetic each time another general testifies the Pentagon is “making progress” but the situation remains “fragile” and so we must stay on an on. Two years ago Carroll literally predicted Senator John McCain’s comment about staying in Iraq for a hundred years if need be, writing, “there will be no winning ever. Whether the U.S. occupation is terminated abruptly or is maintained for years, violence and mayhem will define Iraq indefinitely, while the rest of the Middle East copes with Iraqi-spawned waves of chaos.”

McCain says, if elected, he will be out of Iraq by 2013, but as Senator Joseph Biden pointed out in a recent talk carried on C-Span, McCain gave no specifics. And so one begins to suspect the goal in Iraq is not necessarily to win a war but to make war again and again, forever and a day, so the MIC can prosper while non-defense sectors starve, so that government contractors can erect a monster embassy in Baghdad and huge, permanent military bases nearby to dominate the oil-rich Middle East.

Carroll writes the U.S. under President Bush has “normalized” war: “Not noted by most Americans, a new archipelago of U.S. military bases stretched across the Middle East into the heart of the former Soviet Union…Such forward basing of forces was designed to control, by means of ‘regime change’ and ‘prevention,’ emerging political trends around the globe, with the unabashed goal of guaranteeing U.S. dominance everywhere.” (America operates about 1,000 military bases at home and more than 700 overseas.)

“Such a strategy,” Carroll goes on to write, “assumes not only the possession of unparalleled military power but the display of it and the ready use of it. Under George W. Bush, a self-styled war president, ‘the normalization of war’ was thus established.”

What’s more, Carroll writes, under former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Pentagon in 2002 embarked “on the stunning project of developing a new generation of nuclear weapons including a burrowing device designed to go after underground targets and ‘mini-nukes’ to be used in concert with a conventional attack.”

The effect of all this, Carroll writes, “is to legitimize nuclear-based power politics, giving other nations, friend and foe alike, compelling reasons to acquire a nuclear capacity, if only for deterrence, and prompting them to behave in similar ways.” Carroll says the U.S. return to nuclear development was to spur Iran and North Korea to become nuclear-capable and to make states that renounced the atom—such as Brazil, Egypt, South Africa— rethink that decision. Meanwhile, Carroll says, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan “are all furiously adding to their nuclear arsenals” and “The Pentagon has become the engine of proliferation.”

If the public hasn’t figured it out yet, the United States of America cannot go on this way forever, spending nearly half of every tax dollar on war. It is being run by a criminal enterprise, just as surely as if some family of Mafia gangsters occupied the White House and decided to loot the planet. The Bush regime is in Iraq to steal oil, to swindle taxpayers, to give lucrative defense contracts to its friends, to fleece motorists, to explode radioactive ammunition, to test new weapons, and to intimidate the world.

And the tyrannosaurus Rex in the family room smashing our domestic tranquility is the MIC. President Eisenhower had the guts to warn us of it. Senator McCain is a traveling salesman for it. And Senator Obama, who seemed to be the last best hope for checkmating it, appears in his July 3rd call for expanding the military, to have sold out to it. What now, humanists?

Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based writer and former reporter for the Chicago Daily News and wire services. Contact:

© Copyright Sherwood Ross, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is:

An open letter from Evo Morales to the European Parliament

Dandelion Salad

By Evo Morales
Jul 6, 2008, 11:40

Up until the end of the World War II, Europe was an emigrant continent. Tens of thousands of Europeans departed for the Americas to colonize, to escape hunger, the financial crisis, the wars or European totalitarianisms and the persecution of ethnic minorities.

Today, I am following with concern the process of the so called “Return Directive”. The text, validated last June 5th by the Interior Ministers of 27 countries in the European Union, comes up for a vote on June 18 in the European Parliament. I feel that it is a drastic hardening of the detention and expulsion conditions for undocumented immigrants, regardless of the time they have lived in the European countries, their work situation, their family ties, or their ability and achievements to integrate.

Europeans arrived en masse to Latin and North America, without visas or conditions imposed on them by the authorities. They were simply welcomed, and continue to be, in our American continent, which absorbed at that time the European economic misery and political crisis. They came to our continent to exploit the natural wealth and to transfer it to Europe, with a high cost for the original populations in America. As is the case of our Cerro Rico de Potosi and its fabulous silver mines that gave monetary mass to the European continent from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The people, the wealth and the rights of the migrant Europeans were always respected.


‘Invisible Wars’ of the Future: E-Bombs, Laser Guns and Acoustic Weapons (’06)

Dandelion Salad

Global Research, July 6, 2008
Nezavisimaya Gazeta – 2006-09-21

This important article on new weapons systems was originally published in Russian in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, translated by Guerman Grachev for

Speaking at the Moscow Institute of Foreign Relations on September 1st, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “An arms race is entering its new stage. There is a threat of new weaponry looming on the horizon.” What exactly did he mean by saying that?

From hypothesis to reality

The pace of continuous progress made by science and technology keeps growing faster. Scientists and military analysts point out the emergence of fundamentally new types of weapons including those of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the new future. In the late 1990s, the then Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev sounded a note of warning as he spoke about “the use of new physical principles for building weaponry with new applications in both strategic and tactical levels, is yet another qualitative leap in the change and development of ways and methods of warfare.”

Hostilities between thousands of armed men involved in physical annihilation of one another in the battlefield may be rendered obsolete by the latest developments in science and technology. The existing types of weapons may be superseded by devices capable of causing latent damage to the human body by disrupting its viability and immune system. As a result, the human body will either completely destroyed or immobilized for a long time.

The results of the use of certain hypothetical types of WMD may be felt in the long run, perhaps years or decades following the exposure to the effects of the above. The effects of certain types of new weapons can be used selectively, and thus an attacker will be able to steadfastly decimate an opponent’s personnel while effectively reducing the number of its own casualties. The above circumstance creates more incentives for developing new types of weapons.

Geophysical weapons

Geophysical weapons are essentially based on the manipulation of processes that occur in the earth’s crust, and its liquid and gaseous mantle, for military purposes. An atmospheric layer lying at an altitude of 10 to 60 kilometers is of special importance for this kind of warfare.

Shortly after the end of World War II, the U.S. Department of Defense sampled lightning, earthquake, and hurricane manipulation studies in Project Skyfire, Project Prime Argus, and Project Stormfury. Information with regard to the results of those projects is scarce. However, there are reports of an experiment carried out by the U.S. military in 1961 when more than 350 thousand 2-cm metal needles were deployed into the atmosphere. The needles in the sky caused a dramatic change in the heat balance of the atmosphere. Scientists believe the needles may have caused an earthquake in Alaska. Besides, they are believed to have caused the sliding of a part of Chile’s coastline into the ocean.

The rainmaking technology was taken for a few test tides in Vietnam. The U.S. military dispersed silver iodide in the rain clouds during the Vietnam War to cause floods, disrupt dams, and obstruct the movements of enemy troops, especially the movements of heavy military equipment.

There is a forest of 24-meter antennas installed in Gakuna, close to Anchorage, Alaska. The official name of the project is the High Frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP).

According to a number of experts, the facility has the ability of destabilizing entire national economies through climatic manipulations without the knowledge of the enemy at minimal cost and without engaging military personnel and equipment as in a conventional war.

The HAARP program is a U.S. Air Force, Navy, and University of Alaska funded investigation to “understand, simulate and control ionospheric processes that might alter the performance of communications and surveillance systems” as well as weather systems and those which can modify human behavior.

The so-called “ozone weapon” is one of the types of the geophysical weaponry which is an assortment of means designed for damaging the ozone layer over an enemy. The damage can be done by using rockets loaded with Freon. The explosion of such rockets in the ozone layer will produce several “windows” in it, and thus create conditions for ultraviolet rays of the sun to penetrate Earth’s surface. The ultraviolet rays are highly detrimental to the cell structure of live organisms, especially to their hereditary systems. As a result, the incidence of cancer will go up dramatically. Depleting ozone will bring about lower mean temperatures and increase humidity, which is especially dangerous for the areas of unsustainable agriculture.

EMP weapons

Radio frequency weapon has been recently referred to as one of the most technically feasible weapons of mass destruction. The weapon causes damage to man and a variety of objects by means of powerful electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The electromagnetic pulse effect was first observed during the early testing of high altitude airburst nuclear weapons. However, it did n take long for scientists to find out that the EMP effect could be produced by other munitions of non-nuclear origin. The Soviet Academician Andrei Sakharov came up with a design of non-nuclear “electromagnetic bomb” in the 1950s. His design employed the use of a solenoid’s magnetic field compressed by the explosion of chemical explosive to produce a powerful EMP effect.

In Russia, a team of scientists headed by Academician Vladimir Fortov at the Institute of Thermal Properties of Extreme Conditions played an important role in the study of the EMP weapon and methods of protection against it. The study puts special emphasis on means of destruction of electric or electronic equipment, which actually forms the infrastructure of many countries. Though specialists do not regard the EMP weapons as lethal, they categorize them as strategic, which can be used for crushing an opponent’s information and transmission nodes.

As demonstrated in the Desert Storm air campaign in 1991, Tomohawk cruise missiles with electromagnetic warheads can be effectively used for inhibiting the functions of an opponent’s vital processing infrastructure. All electronic devices of an entire TV center in Baghdad were incapacitated by a single E-bomb dropped by the U.S. Air Force at the beginning of the second campaign in 2003.

Russia has successfully built and tested a number of flux compression generators over the last few years. The generators can be used as a prototype for building an electromagnetic gun capable of firing at a range of several hundred meters. The present-day technology base already enables a number of countries to design and build electromagnetic munitions of several modifications.

Laser weapons

Laser or quantum generator is a device that produces a narrow powerful beam of light by exciting atoms. The laser beam can seriously damage a variety of objects by heating the materials of the latter to high temperatures, disrupting the functions of sensitive components of military equipment, blinding personnel temporarily or permanently, and causing thermal burns of the skin.

Continuous improvements of the laser weapons will, without doubt, secure their greater use for killing an enemy’s personnel and disabling its equipment. There are reports about a laser-beam rifle developed in the U.S. for several years. The rifle is designed for killing enemy soldiers at a range up to 1.5 km.

Specialists have good reasons to assert that the laser weapons will play an important role in the development of a large-scale antimissile defense network in the U.S. In 1996, the U.S. started developing an airborne laser gun designed for destroying enemy missiles during ascent stage. A powerful laser device will be mounted on board the Boeing 747, which will be out on patrol at an altitude of 10-12 km in order to acquire a target within seconds and shoot it down by emitting a laser beam.

The Pentagon intends to form a squadron of seven aircraft by 2008. Martin-Boeing-TRW, one of the leading military contractors, was awarded a contract in February of 2000 to develop a space-based laser gun to be used for missile interception. The initial testing is slated for 2012. The project is expected to be completed by 2020.

Acoustic weapons

The harmful effects of acoustic weapons apply to three frequency bands i.e. infrasound (below 20 Hz); the audible range frequencies (from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz); and ultrasound (above 20 kilohertz). The classification is in line with the action of sound impact on the human body. The low-frequency sounds can significantly increase the audible range, pain threshold and other negative impacts on the human body. Infrasound oscillations can induce anxiety or a panic attack in humans. Some scientists believe that man is unlikely to survive the effects of powerful emission causing a sudden disruption of the functions of certain organs including the cardiovascular system.

Over the last few years, the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) in Pacatini , New Jersey, has been actively engaged in several projects related to the so-called “non-lethal” weapons. In conjunction with the Scientific Applications and Research Associates (SARA) of Huntingdon, California, ARDEC and Los Alamos laboratories are busy developing a high power, very low frequency acoustic beam weapons. They are also looking into methods of projecting non-penetrating high frequency acoustic bullets. ARDEC scientists are also looking into methods of using pulsed chemical lasers. This class of lasers could project a hot, high pressure plasma in the air in front of a target surface, creating a blast wave that will result in variable but controlled effects on materiel and personnel. The infrasound emitters are designed in Britain. The emitters are reported to be capable of impairing a person’s hearing, and cause resonance of his internal organs, which may disrupt the heart activity and result in death.

According to American specialist Janet Morris, research director of the U.S. Global Strategy Council, the Russians have been engaged in the development of acoustic weapons too, and the “results are quite impressive.” Morris says that during her trip to Russia she saw an operational device that can form a10 Hz infrasound pulse the “size of a baseball,” which is said to be capable of causing serious damage to personnel positioned hundreds of meters away from the weapon. In the meantime, there is no convergence of opinions on the harmful effects caused by acoustic weapons.

© Copyright, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 2006

The url address of this article is:


US Electromagnetic Weapons and Human Rights

Global Gridlock: How the US Military-Industrial Complex Seeks to Contain & Control the Earth & it’s Eco-System

New Instruments of Surveillance & Social Control: Wireless Technologies which Target the Neuronal Functioning of the Brain

Death Ray Replaced By The Voice of God (ADS; LRAD)

Report: Nonlethal Weapons Could Target Brain, Mimic Schizophrenia

Biological Warfare or Non-Lethal

Want some torture with your peanuts? (video link)

Dandelion Salad

By Jeffrey Denning
July 7, 2008

Just when you thought you’ve heard it all…

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers.


h/t: CLG


The people who make the scanners used by TSA employees at U.S. airports to look at your bottom

Bush Executive Order Expands Data Collection – Will Share Data with “Foreign Partners”

“Big Brother” Presidential Directive: “Biometrics for Identification & Screening to Enhance National Security”

Bush pushes biometrics for national security + NSPD-59 & HSPD-24

Conditioning for the Police State – the American War At Home