Peter Corning’s The Fair Society, reviewed by Walter C. Uhler

by Walter C. Uhler
Guest Writer
Dandelion Salad
www.walter-c-uhler.com
June 16, 2011

A Review of The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice, by Peter Corning

“Seeing every man, not only by Right, but also by necessity of Nature, is supposed to endeavor all he can to obtain all that is necessary for his conservation, he that shall oppose himself against it, for things superfluous, is guilty of the war that thereupon is to follow.” — Thomas Hobbes

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America’s Historical Illiteracy by Walter C. Uhler

by Walter C. Uhler
Guest Writer
Dandelion Salad
www.walter-c-uhler.com
27 April 2011

A Review of The Future of History, by John Lukacs

“To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child always.” Cicero

In 2008 Common Core published a study by Frederick M. Hess which examined the knowledge of history and literature possessed by 17 year-old high school students in the United States. The results were depressing. Less than half of the 1,200 students questioned were able to identify the Renaissance or even the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy. Only 50% could explain why the Federalist Papers were written and fewer than half could correctly identify the half century in which the Civil War was fought. More than one fourth of these students believed that Christopher Columbus sailed for the New World sometime after 1750.

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Examining Jesus’ Passion through the Crucible of Doubt by Walter C. Uhler

by Walter C. Uhler
Guest Writer
Dandelion Salad
www.walter-c-uhler.com
April 21, 2011

c. 1632

Image via Wikipedia

No writer has had a greater impact on my life than Fyodor Dostoevsky – arguably the greatest of the world’s novelists and one of its most imposing defenders of Christianity. It was Dostoevsky who claimed, in a letter to N. D. Fonvizina in 1854, “If someone proved to me that Christ is outside the truth, and that in reality, the truth were outside Christ, then I would prefer to remain with Christ rather than the truth.”

In that same letter, however, he also asserted “I am a child of this century, a child of doubt and disbelief, I have always been and shall ever be (that I know), until they close the lid of my coffin.” To his credit, Dostoevsky never ceased testing his faith.

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Igor Sutyagin and I. F. Stone: Spies? by Walter C. Uhler

Sent to DS from the author, thanks, Walter.

Dandelion Salad

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by Walter C. Uhler
www.walter-c-uhler.com
15 June 2009

A Review of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev

My first and only meeting with Igor Sutyagin occurred on 7 September 1998, in what was then the Taiga Café of Moscow’s Aerostar Hotel. A senior scholar in the Department for Military-Political Studies at the Institute for the USA and Canada Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sutyagin was given the task of dining with an American “People to People” delegation – of which I was a member – and briefing its members on the economic crisis ravaging Russia since its catastrophic default just three weeks earlier.

Although we peppered Igor with questions about Russia’s economic collapse, his answers clearly demonstrated – to me, at least — that the Russian economy was not his area of expertise. Which is why, near the end of our dinner, I changed the subject by asking him a series of questions about the Russian military, my specialty. “What was Russia doing to capture the so-called “revolution in military affairs?” Was he familiar with the massive American study, Atomic Audit (which I reviewed in the July 13, 1998 edition of The Nation) especially its startling revelations about the high risk of accidental nuclear war that was hanging over our unwitting heads during the Cold War? What is Russia doing today to assure control over its nuclear arsenal?

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Last Rites for the United States, and Himself by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

Sent to DS from the author, thanks, Walter.

by Walter C. Uhler
www.walter-c-uhler.com
2 March 2009

A Review of Last Rites, by John Lukacs

In 1990, at the age of sixty-five, John Lukacs wrote a well-received “auto-history” entitled Confessions of an Original Sinner. Now, almost twenty years later, Mr. Lukacs has given his readers part two: Last Rites. The book not only appears to constitute a valedictory for an erudite and influential 85 year old man — who admits that his curiosity, reading and appetite for life are weakening — but also the swan song for the five hundred years of European culture carried forward, until recently, by the United States.

Which is to say that Mr. Lukacs sees signs of America’s decadence all around: academics who neither buy nor read books, the widespread decline of serious reading, “the rapid deterioration of attention, the nervous constriction of its span,” an “unwillingness to think,” the rise of pictorial culture (a new “Dark Ages of symbols, pictures, images, abstractions”), and, most ominously, the emergence of a militaristic political conservatism in the United States.

He notes: “In 1950 there was not one American public or political or academic or intellectual figure who declared himself a ‘conservative.’ By 1980 more Americans declared themselves ‘conservatives’ than ‘liberals.'” Accompanying this rise of political conservatism was a “militarization of the popular imagination” that abetted the replacement of normal patriotism with aggressive nationalism.

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Legacies? How About “Good Riddance to the Swine?” by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

Sent to DS from the author, thanks, Walter.

by Walter C. Uhler
www.walter-c-uhler.com
Originally posted 15 January 2009

Tony Auth’s political cartoon in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s January 14th edition is the quintessential picture that is worth a thousand words. It tells you almost everything you need to know about the uniquely evil Bush/Cheney regime — i.e., its lies about Saddam Hussein’s WMD, its illegal torture at Abu Ghraib, its illegal wiretaps, its pathetically immoral and incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina, its ideological trashing of politically incorrect scientific findings, its oversight failures, which contributed to Wall Street’s collapse and Cheney’s devilish torching of the Constitution. Moreover, it deftly pencils in the world’s feeble response to such evil: the hurling of shoes at Bush from all corners.

As such, Mr. Auth’s cartoon serves as a one-stop reminder of the catastrophic Bush/Cheney “Time of Troubles” at the very moment when these swine give interviews designed to spread a final round of self-serving lies — in a futile attempt to salvage their legacy of evil. Therefore, you might want to keep Auth’s cartoon by your side, especially if you plan to watch Bush’s prime time farewell address tonight.

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America’s Occupation Trumps the “Surge” and Petraeus’ Counterinsurgency Manual

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
The Smirking Chimp
May 6, 2008

As three months of news reports of escalating violence in Iraq undercut widespread American propaganda about the “surge’s” success, increasing numbers of Americans, once again, are reaching the conclusion that the Bush administration’s illegal, immoral and incompetent invasion and occupation of Iraq is a war that never should have been fought. According to the results of CNN/Opinion Research Poll reported on 1 May 2008, 68 percent of Americans now oppose George W. Bush’s war in Iraq.

These Americans have (belatedly) gotten it right. Moreover, five years after viewing the sick “Mission Accomplished” propaganda, it’s now becoming clear that the “surge” and the implementation of the counterinsurgency strategy detailed in General Petraeus’ Counterinsurgency Field Manual were last-ditch and largely propaganda gimmicks chosen by Bush to avoid admitting his stark defeat in Iraq. Thus, Bush and Cheney are sacrificing lives while playing for time — time to escape office without being impeached and convicted, time to assert that the war was not lost during their watch.

Simply consider the words of Andrew Bacevich, in his recent article “Surging to Defeat.” Not only are American and Iraqi forces still suffering from nearly 500 attacks per week, “the United States today finds itself with too much war and too few warriors.”

…continued

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.

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General Petraeus: Zionism’s Military Poodle: From Surge to Purge to Dirge

Shadowing Slaughter in Sadr City By Hala Jaber

Iraq: Corruption Eats Into Food Rations by Ali al-Fadhily & Dahr Jamail

The Last War & the Next One By Tom Engelhardt

Obama’s Populism versus McCain’s Free Trade by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
Posted 20 February 2008

In the wake of their recent presidential primary victories in Wisconsin, Barack Obama and John McCain appear destined to wage a fight for the office of President that not only will pit an advocate for “change” against a defender of many of George W. Bush’s discredited policies (especially his war in Iraq and his tax cuts for the rich), but also pit a young, vibrant (perhaps cocky) 46 year old black upstart against a hot-headed, expletive-spewing war hero and old white man (previously disgraced as one of the Keating Five and now, perhaps, once again by revelations of past romantic ties with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, for whom he wrote letters to government regulators) who will be 72 years old by the time he’s sworn into office. The election seems destined to become a choice between America’s future and America’s past.

With this contest in mind, it seems appropriate to contrast Senator Obama’s economic populism and Senator McCain’s steadfast defense of free trade in the context of a new book by David Cay Johnston, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill).

America’s highly productive work force has contributed greatly to the country’s immense national wealth. According to David Cay Johnston, “For each dollar per person in 1980, the economy in 2006 generated $1.68.” [p. 10] Yet, notwithstanding the wealth they’ve created, the average income of the bottom 90% of Americans actually has withered — from a peak amount of $33,001 in 1973 to a modest $29,143 in 2005 (after adjustments for inflation).

If you look at the bottom 50% of the population, the picture is even worse. In 1980 their average income was a pathetically low $15,464. Yet, by 2004 it had fallen to $14,149. Sure, their taxes were lower in 2004. But all that did was reduce the amount of income they were losing each week from $25 to $15. The question is: “Why should they be losing income when the country’s wealth has been growing by leaps and bounds?”

Mr. Johnston provides part of the answer: “Autoworkers have begun working under new contracts in 2007 that cut the wages by as much as $13 per hour. That is a pay cut of more than $26,000 annually. Compounding the pain are cuts in retirement benefits and health care. Together these throw workers who had reached the middle rungs of the income ladder back down into the lower half.” [p. 44]

Such givebacks are not an accident. They come in the wake of “tens of thousands” of jobs lost to “the rigged game the politicians, and their donors, call ‘free trade.'” [pp. 43-44]

Rigged game? Yes, in addition to the obvious inducement to relocate factories overseas — the immense difference in wages and benefits that might cost a factory in Indiana $40 per hour for labor, but only 25 cents in China [p. 46] — the U.S. Congress and U.S. Presidents, at the behest of corporate socialists and their lobbyists, have rigged the tax laws to subsidize the already lucrative business of shipping U.S. jobs abroad.

Mr. Johnston explains how it works in China. “After President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, American oil companies sought to explore there. Right off, they asked the Chinese to enact a corporate income tax.”

“With a Chinese corporate income tax,” argues Johnston, “the taxes they [U.S. corporations] owed to the United States would go down for two reasons.” First, “American business profits earned overseas are not taxed so long as the money stays offshore.” Second, “the United States allows American companies to reduce taxes on their profits by the amount they pay to foreign governments. This is not the usual deduction worth 35 cents on the dollar, but a dollar-for-dollar credit.” [p. 40]

(Note: It was Andrew Mellon, in his capacity as Treasury Secretary during the 1920’s, who “persuaded Congress to adjust the corporate income tax to give oil companies – and any other companies earning profits overseas – the dollar-for-dollar credit against taxes due to Washington.” [p. 41])

Moreover, “the corporate income taxes paid in China are not like those in the United States. Instead of going for the general support of the government, money paid to Beijing is often used to benefit the company that pays. Taxes may finance a new road or a railroad spur or police presence and other services the company requires.”

“But wait, there’s more.”

“A company with operations in the United States and another country can borrow money at home, deducting the interest and thus lowering its American taxes. At the same time it can earn interest on untaxed cash it keeps overseas. So when an American company closes a factory here and moves it to China, provided it meets some technical rules, it can deduct the interest charges on its United States tax return while building up profits offshore that may never be taxed.” [pp. 41-42]

Thus, Mr. Johnston’s sobering conclusion: “Under current government rules, destroying American jobs and creating jobs overseas is the single most effective way for manufacturing companies to increase profits. From the point of view of shareholders and executives, any policy other than moving equipment and jobs offshore as fast as possible is a waste of corporate assets.” [p. 47]

As to the common assertion by free trade advocates that it brings new investment to the United States, Mr. Johnston notes that such investment is not helping to create jobs here. “The net effect of insourcing by foreign-owned companies [between 1990 and 2003] was the elimination of 3.4 million American jobs. While insourcing creates some jobs, the constant pressure to move even those jobs offshore is the inevitable result of how our current government rules encourage this labor arbitrage.” [p. 47]

Speaking in Houston on February 19, 2008, Senator Obama declared: — “I want to take away those tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. We’re going to give them to companies that invest right here in America.” Senator McCain did not address the issue during his February 19 victory speech, but he’s on record for asserting: “It sounds like a lot of fun to bash China and others, but free trade has been the engine of our economy. Free trade should be the continuing principle that guides this nation’s economy.” [2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan Oct 9, 2007]

Free trade might very well be “the engine of our economy,” but that engine hasn’t done much to drive the average annual income of the bottom 90% of American workers. On the other hand, it has proven to be enormously lucrative for the financiers and factory owners who arrange the overseas deals.

As David Cay Johnston sees it, the tax laws subsidizing the free trade that impoverishes American workers or causes them to lose their jobs is just one aspect of the corporate socialism that has taken hold of America since the election of Ronald Reagan. Under the guise of fostering the so-called invisible hand of the market economy through deregulation and privatization, taxes paid by the bottom 90% on the income ladder have been lavished upon the corporate elite as subsidies.

According to Johnston, “Sam Walton practiced corporate socialism. As much as he could, he put the public’s money to work for his benefit. Free land, long-term leases at below-market rates, pocketing sales taxes, even getting workers trained at government expense were among the ways Wal-Mart took every dollar of welfare it could get. Walton had a particular fondness for government-sponsored industrial revenue bonds, which cost him less in interest charges than the corporate bonds the market economy uses to raise money.” [pp. 99-100]

Mayor Rudy Giuliani gave “an unannounced gift of $25 million in public funds” to both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets during his last days in office. That is, he “let each team hold back $5 million a year on their rent for Yankee and Shea stadiums, which the city [taxpayers] owns, and use the money to plan new stadiums.”

“The Yankees used some of this money to hire lobbyists to arrange a further taxpayer subsidy for their new stadium.” According to the Independent Budget Office for the city, the taxpayers’ subsidy to the Yankees amounted to $275.8 million. When Johnston confronted Yankees President (and former Giuliani aide) Randy Levine about the morality of taking money from taxpayers who have far less money than George Steinbrenner, Levine not only conceded “that taxes are taken by threat of force,” but also that “gifts from taxpayers to those who invest in big projects ‘are the way government works today.'” [p. 72]

According to Johnston, when the Supreme Court refused to even hear the case of citizens from Toledo, Ohio — who had their businesses and homes seized by the city, in order to give Chrysler the land it needed to rebuild its Jeep plant — it “sent a clear signal that the policy of the United States is that the government can take from the many to give to the few – and those who object will not have their grievances heard by the courts” [p. 93] In the face of such legally sanctioned corporate socialism, the most effective response would be a widespread taxpayer revolt.

Finally, as if to guarantee that it’s the taxes of the bottom 90% that are used to subsidize their wealth-creating enterprises of the corporate socialists, the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress pushed through tax cuts that not only gave 53% of the savings to the top ten percent of income earners in the United States, but also 15% of the tax savings to the 300,000 people who constitute the top tenth of one percent on the income ladder. In 2005, their average annual income was $25,726,965.

On February 19th, Barack Obama asserted that “we’re going to rollback those Bush tax cuts that went to all the wealthy people, and we’re going to give tax cuts to ordinary families, people who are making less than $75,000. We will offset your payroll tax.” Like Obama, Senator McCain once opposed Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. But, he’s flip-flopped during his run for President and now will uphold them if elected.

Consequently, if David Cay Johnston is correct when he answers the question, “Why are the rich getting so much while the middle class struggles and the poor fall behind?” by concluding that “the elites have captured the government and are milking it for their own benefit” [pp. 22-23], then free trading, tax cut flip-flopper John McCain hardly seems to be the candidate to roll back corporate socialism’s assault on the bottom 90% of the income ladder.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).

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.

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Bill Moyers Journal: Clinton, Obama, King & Johnston + more (video)

“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Govt Expense (& Stick You with the Bill)” (must see video)

Can He Deliver? Obama and Global Trade By Paul Craig Roberts

Delusional Hope: The Obama Rapture By Joel Hirschhorn

Were Baghdad’s Female Suicide Bombers Mentally Retarded? by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
2 February 2008

On February 1, 2008, two female suicide bombers killed some 91 people and wounded another 150 at Baghdad pet markets. The two coordinated explosions marked the bloodiest day in the Iraqi capital during the past six months. Coming on the heels of increased U.S. military deaths in Iraq in January, after four months of declines, the bombings raised new doubts about the wild-eyed claims made by President Bush and Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, that the surge is working and the U.S. is winning in Iraq.

But, almost immediately, Iraq’s chief military spokesman in Baghdad claimed that the female bombers appeared to be mentally retarded. Allegedly, an examination of the severed head of one of the bombers led to the conclusion that she suffered from Downs Syndrome. In addition, some Baghdad locals were reported to have claimed that the bomber was known as “the crazy lady.”

Such reports, if correct, would lend substance to the assertions — which constitute the conventional wisdom — that the success of the Bush/Petraeus surge has caused al Qaeda in Iraq to adopt desperate measures. Americans, then, could rest assured that such attacks were merely an aberration, and, thus, more proof that, thanks to the surge, Iraq’s insurgency is now in its final death throes

Condoleezza Rice seized upon the news to decry al Qaeda as “the most brutal and bankrupt of movements,” conveniently overlooking the massive bombing campaign unleashed by America’s military during the surge and conveniently overlooking the unmanned aerial vehicles, like the Predator, which fire missiles at the command of brave airmen stationed at computer consoles at Nellis Air Force base near Las Vegas. Sort of like sitting in the White House and challenging the insurgents to “Bring ’em on.”

Most of the mainstream news media uncritically reported the assertion that al Qaeda had stooped to manipulating mentally retarded women. After all, such evidence better fits into the mantra of a successful surge, than does the ominous possibility that al Qaeda has moved on to a new tactic, one that employs female suicide bombers who have theirs wits about them.

Thus, FOX News, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CBS News and even The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer talked about the mentally ill suicide bombers. Lamentably, even the Huffington Post, uncritically posted an article sporting the headline, “Mentally Retarded Women Used To Set Off Massive Iraq Attacks.”

Yet, during an interview with Stephen Farrell of the New York Times viewers of the NewsHour were told that there were plenty of reasons to doubt the assertion made by Iraq’s chief military spokesman. First, there’s a huge probability that the bomber’s severed head could have been distorted by the blast. Second, Farrell talked about witnesses who saw the woman before the explosion and claimed that she acted normally. Finally, as Farrell noted online, “Iraqi officials have made similar claims in the past.”

In addition, McClatchy’s Washington Bureau ran an article in which the reporters noted: “Other police officials expressed skepticism about the claim, saying it was made too quickly for any investigation to have taken place.” Finally, Middle East expert Juan Cole weighed in with this common sense observation: “The story that the women had Downs syndrome seems unlikely to be true: you wouldn’t trust a sensitive terror plot to someone without their full faculties.”

Cole also concluded: “The bombings show that Sunni Arab guerrillas seeking to destabilize Iraq have not been defeated and are still capable of making a big strike right under the noses of the surge troops.” Moreover, you can bet the farm that such big strikes will occur as long as American troops do Bush’s (or McCain’s) bidding and continue their illegal, immoral occupation of Iraq – surge or no surge.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).   waltuhler@aol.com
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. 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.

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Baghdad Bombing Thoroughly Barbaric (video) + 91 Dead in 2 Baghdad Blasts by Juan Cole

Press Secretary Dana Perino: Spinning Lies for the Butcher of Baghdad by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
4 December 2007

Every American of conscience should read Michael Massing’s latest article in the New York Review of Books. It’s titled, “Iraq: The Hidden Human Costs.” As Mr. Massing makes clear, the human costs of Bush’s butchery in Iraq have remained hidden largely because there are “limitations imposed by the political climate in which the [mainstream] press works.”

Massing attributes the reluctance of editors and producers to print and broadcast news about Bush’s butchery in Iraq to the fact that “most Americans simply do not want to know too much about the acts being carried out in their name.” Or, as Scott Ritter has put it, “very few Americans function as citizens anymore.”

But, quoting from Generation Kill, by Evan Wright, Massing describes the initial American onslaught on Nasiryah: “During our thirty-six hours outside Nasiryah they [Marines] have already lobbed an estimated 2,000 [artillery] rounds into the city.”

“Entering the city with the Marines… ‘we pass a bus, smashed and burned, with charred human remains sitting upright in some windows. There’s a man in the road with no head and a dead little girl, too, about three or four, lying on her back. She’s wearing a dress and has no legs.”

Describing another of the thousands of disasters that have been unleashed by America’s butcher of Baghdad, Massing writes about US soldiers who were manning a roadblock. As cars approached the roadblock, the soldiers would fire warning shots that, as often as not, caused scared Iraqis to speed up. After one such car had been shot at, “a Marine named Graves goes to help a little girl cowering in the back seat, her eyes wide open. As he goes to pick her up, ‘thinking about what medical supplies he might need to treat her…the top of her head slides off and her brains fall out.'”

Writing for the Daily Mirror (UK) from Fallujah in April 2003, Chris Hughes reported: “I watched in horror as American troops opened fire on a crowd of one thousand unarmed people here yesterday. Many, including children, were cut down by a twenty-second burst of automatic gunfire during a demonstration against the killing of thirteen protestors at the Al-Kaahd school on Monday.” [Dahr Jamail, Beyond the Green Zone, p. 132]

In that same Fallujah, approximately one year later, “one victim of the U.S. military aggression after another was brought into the clinic, nearly all of them women and children, carried by weeping family members. Those who had not been hit by bombs from warplanes had been shot by U.S. snipers.” [Ibid, p. 138]

Of the hundreds of civilians killed and wounded in Fallujah in 2004, reporter Dahr Jamail personally witnessed an “eighteen-year-old girl [who] had been shot through the neck. She was making breathy gurgling noises as the doctors frantically worked on her amid her muffled moaning…Her younger brother, a small child of ten with a gunshot wound to his head from a marine sniper, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomited as the doctors raced to save his life.” [Ibid, p. 137] Both children died

Similar atrocities in Iraq prompted Jeffery Carazales, a lance corporal from Texas, to rage: “I think it’s bullshit how these fucking civilians are dying!” “They are worse off than the guys that are shooting at us. They don’t even have a chance. Do you think the people at home are going to see this – all these women and children we’re killing? Fuck no. Back home they’re glorifying this motherfucker. I guarantee you. Saying our president is a fucking hero for getting us into this bitch. He ain’t even a real Texan.” [Massing]

Not even a “real” Texan? Hell, we first must question whether either Bush or Cheney are even “real” — by which I mean “decent”– human beings. After all, do you personally know anyone who could lie about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda in order to remove Saddam Hussein from power for the sake of oil and Israel — especially if he knew that his invasion would inevitably blow off the limbs of hundreds, if not thousands, of three-year-old girls and split open the skulls of hundreds, if not thousands more?

No, of course not. Unless, of course, you happen to know personally one of America’s despicable neoconservatives, one of America’ crackpot Christian Zionists or Bush’s latest press secretary, Dana Perino. It was Ms. Perino, who, on November 30th, placed her own humanity in a lock box when she offered journalist Helen Thomas the following lie: “To suggest that we, the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive.”

Although such lies might still work with many loyal saps in the Republican Party and the many Americans who have jettisoned citizenship for shopping and television addictions, the rest of the world knows the truth. And it is not amused! Unfortunately, all Americans, not just the stupid and immoral ones, will have to pay for the world’s condemnation.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).

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.

The Global Impact of Bush’s War Crimes in Iraq: King Midas in Reverse by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
The Smirking Chimp
Nov 26 2007

Journalist Robert Fisk recently explained the Bush/Cheney abomination in the Middle East quite succinctly, when he asserted: “The world in the Middle East is growing darker and darker by the hour. Pakistan. Afghanistan. Iraq. “Palestine”. Lebanon. From the borders of Hindu Kush to the Mediterranean, we – we Westerners that is – are creating (as I have said before) a hell disaster. Next week, we are supposed to believe in peace in Annapolis, between the colorless American apparatchik and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister who has no more interest in a Palestinian state than his predecessor Ariel Sharon.” [Robert Fisk, “Darkness falls on the Middle East,” Independent.co.uk, 24 Nov. 2007]

On Friday, November 23rd, a bomb exploded in a pet market in central Baghdad. It followed a “brazen attack against U.S.-backed Sunni fighters on the southern belt of Baghdad” and a mortar and rocket attack on the Green Zone a day earlier that constituted “the biggest attack against the U.S.-protected area in weeks.” [Bushra Juhi, “Twin bombings Kill at Least 26 in Iraq,” Associated Press, 23 Nov. 2007]

You might keep such information in mind whenever you hear dishonest Republicans and feckless Democrats shy away from the awful truth about the “hell disaster” in Iraq and the Middle East.

And the awful truth is this: During the seven months preceding the Bush administration’s reckless, immoral, illegal and incompetent invasion of Iraq, the architects of that criminal war — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle — lied repeatedly about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and links to al Qaeda, grossly exaggerated both the welcome American troops would receive and the ease with which democracy could be established in Iraq, while fraudulently understating the projected costs of their evil venture. In a word, our “MBA President” and his cronies failed to exercise due diligence with the American people.

Yet, while these criminals were preparing to commit their crime, critics of the proposed invasion were struggling to be heard, struggling to penetrate the herd mentality of the mainstream news media – which, except for some reporters at Knight Ridder, found itself shocked and awed by the administration’s war mongering propaganda. As we now know, post-invasion facts on the ground vindicated the critics, not only for doubting the Bush administration’s bogus claims about Iraq’s WMD and links to al Qaeda, but also for questioning the very need for preemptive (actually preventive) war and the very feasibility of forcing democracy at gunpoint.

Unfortunately, more than 31,000 American soldiers have been killed or wounded in the course of executing Bush’s criminal plans. Add to that figure “at least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan…[now] found with signs of brain injuries.” [Gregg Zoroya, “Combat Brain Injuries Multiply,” USA Today, Nov. 23, 2007]

Moreover, although some 3,875 soldiers have died in Iraq since March 2003, 6,256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 alone. According to CBS News, the suicide rate among veterans is double that of the civilian population and veterans aged 20 through 24 – those caught up in Bush’s war – had the highest suicide rates among all veterans. Finally, consider that almost 8,000 soldiers deserted the US Army during fiscal years 2006 and 2007.

Beyond such casualties, Bush’s war has strained the U.S. Army to the breaking point. As Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey recently observed, “The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply.” According to Senator Jack Reed and security analyst Michele A. Flournoy, “Roughly half of the 2000 and 2001 West Point classes have already decided to leave the Army” citing multiple, back-to-back combat tours as the primary reason. Moreover, “roughly half of the U.S. Army’s equipment is in Iraq or Afghanistan, where the harsh environment and the high tempo of operations are wearing out equipment at up to 9 times the normal rate.”

Then, there’s the exorbitant cost of Bush’s war of choice. According to Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee, when the hidden costs of Bush’s war are considered, the total economic cost has exceeded $1.5 trillion. The surge in the price of oil, from approximately $37 per barrel at the beginning of the war to over $90 in recent weeks, constitutes a major portion of those hidden, but very real costs.

Finally, citizens of the United States have seen their liberties subverted by the Bush administration in the name of national security. Through the abuse of signing statements, the use of torture and the embrace of illegal wiretapping the Bush administration has moved America creepily closer to those horrid dictatorships its citizens once derided.

Yet, the costs to the United States constitute mere chump change when compared with the price paid by Iraqis. Life in Iraq during Bush’s reign of terror has been far worse than life was during the last years of Saddam’s brutal regime. Consider the national humiliation associated with America’s successful invasion, its brutal occupation and its degrading torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

According to Robert Dreyfuss and Tom Engelhardt, “There are, by now, perhaps a million dead Iraqis, give or take a few hundred thousand. If a typical wounded-to-dead ratio of 3:1 holds, then you’re talking about up to 4 million war, occupation, and civil-war casualties. Now, add in the estimated 2-2.5 million who went into exile, fleeing the country, and another estimated 2.3 million who have had to leave their homes and go into internal exile as Iraqi communities hand neighborhoods were ‘cleansed.'”

As columnist Cesar Chelala recently wrote in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “One child dies every five minutes because of the war, and many more are left with severe injuries. Of the estimated 4 million Iraqis who have been displaced in Iraq or lest the country, 1.5 million are children.” Quoting from an assessment by 100 British and Iraqi doctors, Chelala adds: “sick or injured children, who could otherwise be treated by simple means, are left to die in the hundreds because they don’t have access to basic medicines and other resources. Children who have lost hands, feet and limb are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated.”

Chronic shortages in electricity persist. And, as Bobby Cain Calvan of McClatchy Newspapers reported on November 18th, “the percentage of Iraqis without access to decent water supplies has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent since the start of the U.S.-led war…The portion of Iraqis lacking decent sanitation…[has been] even worse – 80 percent.” Yet, the horrors in Iraq have been grossly underreported by America’s mainstream news media. As Dahr Jamail concludes in his new book, Beyond the Green Zone, “If the people of the United States had the real story about what their government has done in Iraq, the occupation would already have ended.” [p. 291]

One might ask how Bush and his co-conspirators are able to sleep at night, given all this blood and carnage on their hands. Why do they remain in office? Why haven’t they been impeached? Why haven’t they been thrown in prison?

But, then, one also might ask why the many conservative scholars and pundits who got everything so wrong — especially those despicable neo-cons – still fill opinion pages and the airwaves with their vile excuses for yet more war. Their latest con is to argue that the surge is working. Some dishonest clowns even mention the word “victory.”

Of course, they spew yet more propaganda designed to maintain or bolster the 70 percent of Republicans who still support Bush’s criminal war. (How different are they from Hitler’s die-hard supporters during World War II?) For example, one of the more obnoxious and consistently wrong neo-cons, Charles Krauthammer, waxed euphoric in his November 23rd column about just how well the surge was going in Iraq.

Yet, the 23rd was the day of the pet market blast, which had followed the previous day’s “brazen attack” in the southern belt of Baghdad and the rocket attack on the Green Zone. Those attacks prompted two reporters from the Los Angeles Times to suggest that “insurgents appeared intent on sending a message to U.S. and Iraqi officials that their recent expressions of optimism on the nation’s security were premature.”

But, then, consider the source. This is the very same Krauthammer who wrote in November 2001: [T]he way to tame the Arab street is not with appeasement and sweet sensitivity but with raw power and victory….The elementary truth that seems to elude the experts again and again…is that power is its own reward. Victory changes everything, psychology above all. The psychology in the [Middle East] is now one of fear and deep respect for American power. Now is the time to use it.” [Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism, p 93]

Tell me, Mr. Krauthammer, how’s the “fear and deep respect” playing out in the Middle East and the world in November 2007? How stupid could you be? And why are you still employed by the Washington Post?

The Post’s Thomas Ricks provides a more honest assessment. “I just got back from Baghdad last week, and it was clear that violence has decreased. But it hasn’t gone away. It is only back down to the 2005 level – which to my mind is kind of like moving from the eighth circle of hell to the fifth….I’ve interviewed dozens of officers and none were willing to say we are winning. What they were saying is that at least now, we are not losing.” [Editor & Publisher, Nov. 24, 2007] Yet, if you recall that, on May 12, 2004, General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, told a Senate committee, “There is no way to militarily lose in Iraq. There’s also no way to militarily win in Iraq,” you might want to question why we’re still there.

Anthony Cordesman recently published a more realistic appraisal of the surge. Titled, “Violence versus Political Accommodation: The True Elements of Victory in Iraq,” Cordesman credits the surge for playing a secondary role in reducing violence in Iraq. But he cautions: “It is still far from clear that US success against al Qaeda in the rest of central Iraq has brought stability and security to any mixed area where there is serious tension and violence. If anything, the fact that the ‘surge’ has not halted the pace of Iraqi displacements and has often created a patchwork of Arab Shiite versus Arab Sunni divisions in towns and areas that extend far beyond Baghdad, has laid the ground for further struggles once the US is gone.” [p. 11]

Cordesman adds: “Most of Southern Iraq is now under the control of competing local and regional Shiite gangs,” which have become the “equivalent of rival mafias.” [p. 13]

More significantly, Cordesman concludes: “The US cannot win the war; it can only give Iraq’s central government and those leaders interested in national unity and political accommodation the opportunity to do so.” [p. 10] [N]o amount of American military success can – by itself – have strategic meaning.” [p. 13]

Finally, those who propagandize that the “surge” is working are advised to contemplate the work of MIT economist Michael Greenstone. As summarized in the December issue of The Atlantic, Greenstone has examined the financial markets in Iraq, especially the market for Iraqi state bonds. He found that “from the start of the surge earlier this year until September, there was a ‘sharp decline’ in the price of Iraqi state bonds, signaling a ‘40% increase in the market’s expectation that Iraq will default’ on its obligations.”

The Atlantic article goes on to note: “Since the bonds are sold on international markets (hedge funds hold a large portion), where the profit motive eliminates personal and political bias, the trajectory of bond prices may be the most accurate indicator available for assessing America’s military strategy. And the data suggest that ‘the surge is failing to pave the way toward a stable Iraq and may in fact be undermining it.” [The Atlantic Dec. 2007, p. 26]

Consequently, were we merely limiting ourselves to the catastrophes that has bedeviled both the United States and Iraq as a consequence of Bush’s war, we’d be forced to conclude that Bush’s national security policy has the touch of King Midas in reverse. Everything Bush touches turns to shit!

Unfortunately, as serious pre-war scholars and critics feared and predicted, Bush’s King Midas touch in reverse has extended far beyond Iraq and the United States. Simply recall their warnings about the war’s impact on the price of oil, their fears that such a war might undermine US efforts against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, their concern that Bush’s invasion might inflame hatred of America throughout the Muslim world, their suspicions that Iran might be the principal beneficiary of a US-led invasion that placed Iraqi Shiites in power and their worries about how a destabilized Iraq might provoke intervention by it neighbors, Iran, Syria and Turkey, and thus embroil the entire region.

Thanks to the perverse King Midas touch of the Bush administration, Iran has indeed emerged as the most influential player in Iraq and Turkey is poised to invade Iraqi Kurdistan. Moreover, as Anne Applebaum has written in the Washington Post: [T] he collateral damage inflicted by the war on America’s relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized.”

In support of Ms. Applebaum’s assertion, simply recall the words uttered to Condoleezza Rice in October 2007 by Tanya Lokshina, chairwoman of the Demos Center for Information and Research, a Russian human rights organization: The United States had “lost the high moral ground.” “The American voice alone doesn’t work anymore…The Russians are not influenced by it.” [Steven Lee Myers, New York Times Oct. 15, 2007]

Finally, mention also must be made of another catastrophe feared and predicted by the pre-war critics of Bush’s invasion, one which now looms on the horizon: the destabilization of nuclear armed Pakistan. As Robert Parry wrote in September 2002, “One reason a war with Iraq might increase, rather than decrease, the danger to the American people is that the invasion could spread instability across the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world…[impacting] most notably the dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan.”

As Parry observed: “Today, even as Musharraf cooperates with the U.S. war on terror, his regime is confronted by pro-al Qaeda factions both inside and outside his government. Many past and present Pakistani military officers continue to sympathize with the fundamentalists.” [Robert Parry, “Bush’s Nuclear Gamble,” [consortiumnews.com, September 30, 2002]

As if describing Bush’s reverse Midas touch in Pakistan, Juan Cole has observed: “The pressure the Bush administration put on the Pakistani military government to combat Muslim militants in that country weakened the legitimacy of [military dictator Pervez] Musharraf, whom the Pakistani public increasingly viewed as an oppressive American puppet.” Not content with such long-term undermining of its client dictator, the Bush administration then “brokered a deal whereby [Benazir] Bhutto was allowed to return to Pakistan.” But, “the huge explosion that greeted Bhutto in her home turf of Karachi…suggests that her arrival is hardly the remedy for Pakistan’s instability.” [Cole, Salon.com Oct. 24, 2007]

Thus, given its profoundly devastating King Midas touch that has rippled around the world, one can confidently predict that the Bush administration will further embolden militant Muslims and secure its legacy as the worst presidency in U.S. history by attacking Iran, thereby bringing America’s staggering and tottering empire crashing to the ground. Like Lenin, during the pre-revolutionary period in Tsarist Russia, it would be tempting to say, “the worse, the better” for America. Except: (1) I don’t believe the loss of empire will prompt Americans to wake up and (2) America’s fervent Bush-supporting crackpot Christians, seeing evidence for their long awaited Rapture and End Times in the calamities actually wrought by Bush, already have a stranglehold on Lenin’s dictum.

(More about such crackpot Christians in a future article).

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see

Darkness falls on the Middle East By Robert Fisk + Calm but no consensus in Lebanon (video)

Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (must-see video; Dahr Jamail)

Dahr Jamail: How to Control the Story, Pentagon-style By Tom Engelhardt

Pentagon Cover Up: 15,000 or more US casualties in Iraq War By Mike Whitney

Bush’s Campaign of Lies to Conceal War Crimes by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
Posted 11 October 2007

During his recent, hour-long interview on Al-Arabiya TV, President Bush denied “the U.S. is gearing up to attack Iran” and dismissed as “‘gossip’ reports in the Arab press that he has issued orders to senior U.S. military officials to prepare for an attack on Iran at the end of January or in February.” [AP, Arizona Daily Star, Oct. 6, 2007] He then added: “Evidently, there’s a lot of gossip in parts of the country – world that try to scare people about me personally or my country or what we stand for.”

Gossip is it? Or has the Decider simply repressed or forgotten all the lies he told during the run-up to his illegal, immoral invasion and murderous occupation of Iraq? For example, has Bush simply repressed or forgotten his lie on December 28, 2001, when, after an extensive secret briefing by General Tommy Franks about a future invasion of Iraq, he told the press that his discussion with Franks focused on the General’s recent trip to Afghanistan and events occurring in that country? [Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, p. 65]

Continued…

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

Bringing Die-hard War Supporters and Feckless War Opponents to Their Knees by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
Posted 18 September 2007

I was reminded of my mid-1960s high school days in conservative Lebanon, Pennsylvania, when I read that Senator John McCain recommended that MoveOn.org, “ought to be thrown out of this country,” because it paid for a full-page ad in the New York Times, which carried the headline, “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” McCain’s outburst reminded me of the narrow-mind patriots in Lebanon, who used the illiberal cliché, “America, Love it or Leave it” to deny the patriotism of America’s Vietnam War protesters. Yet, there are at least two reasons to suspect that MoveOn’s ad had merit and critics, like McCain, were wrong. First, we have Gareth Porter’s exceptional reporting that General Petraeus’ superior, Admiral Fallon, accused Petraeus of being “an ass-kissing little chickenshit” for serving as a “front man” for Bush’s surge. Second, we have Alexander Cockburn’s CounterPunch Diary report of September 15-16, 2007, in which he claims that Petraeus’ testimony had been “freshly vetted and re-written by Vice President Cheney.”

If Cockburn’s report is accurate, then Petraeus not only lied when he asserted, “I wrote this testimony myself,” he also failed to present the independent report he promised. And THAT failure should be considered a betrayal.

McCain’s outburst also brings to mind the words uttered by counterterrorism expert, Michael Scheuer, during testimony to the House of Representatives on April 17, 2007. When Massachusetts Democrat Bill Delahunt told Scheuer, “You know, you are really tough on Senator McCain. You said he is ‘a little man with mediocre intelligence, a taste for bullying, and an appalling temper who thinks the presidency is his birthright,'” Scheuer responded by asserting, “Sir, he is a perfect example of a man who is tremendously courageous and patriotic, but that does not necessarily correlate with brain power.”

Moreover, now that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe this deadly and horrible war is lost and should never have been undertaken, were the hypothetical and illiberal question of who “ought to be thrown out of this country” ever seriously entertained (which I don’t recommend), shouldn’t we recommend deporting a handful of our warmongering neoconservatives to Israel, but only after shipping members of our executive branch, such as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, to a current-day equivalent of Elba?

More seriously, both the feckless response to the Petraeus testimony by congressional Democrats and the misplaced outrage over MoveOn among America’s rightwing demonstrate that Americans must take matters into their own hands, before the war expands into Iran. After all, we still claim to be a free people, living in a democracy.

To that end, we might follow the suggestion of Harper’s Garret Keizer and begin to prepare for executing a nation-wide strike. Sound impractical? Consider Keizer’s October 2007 Harper’s account of Danes saving Jews during World War II: “In 1943 the Danes managed to save 7,200 of their 7,800 Jewish neighbors from the Gestapo. They had no blogs, no television, no text messaging – and very little time to prepare. They passed their apartment keys to the hunted on the streets. They formed convoys to the coast. An ambulance driver set out with a phone book, stopping at any address with a Jewish-sounding name. No GPS for directions. No excuse not to try.”

Although Keizer proposes a general strike for the first Tuesday in November (Election Day) to halt the slaughter in Iraq, a nation-wide shutdown in response to the invasion or bombardment of Iran seems more appropriate. Preparations for such a shutdown just might persuade the Bush administration to attempt serious, comprehensive negotiations with Tehran before expanding its war in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, Keizer’s absolutely correct to ask: “Are we willing to wait until the next presidential election, or for some interim congressional conversion experience, knowing that if we do wait, hundreds of our sons and daughters will be needlessly destroyed?”

Let’s demonstrate to both the war’s supporters in the Bush administration and congress, as well as their feckless congressional opponents, precisely where sovereignty resides in this country.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).

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

Iraq, Iran and the Moral Rot Infecting the Soul of America by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
Posted 27 August 2007

The more I read history, the more I’m convinced that the United States, far from being God’s appointed beacon for all mankind, was always a big talking, poor performing country in which the massive and willful stupidity of the majority engendered a moral rot incapable of withstanding manipulation and seduction by self-serving business/political interests. Thus, columnist Richard Cohen was merely acknowledging the latest example of such rot among the majority, when he asserted the Iraq War “was no mere failure of intelligence. This was a failure of character.”

“Character” implies steadfast adherence to a moral code. But, as Walter Lippmann so cogently expressed it: “No moral code, as such, will enable [a person] to know whether he is exercising his moral faculties on a real and an important event. For effective virtue, as Socrates pointed out long ago, is knowledge; and a code of right and wrong must wait upon a perception of the true and false.” (Walter Lippmann, The Phantom Public, p. 20)

By disdaining knowledge unless it’s practical (mainly in the service of business), technological (in the service of business) or biblically based — most Americans have proven themselves incapable of distinguishing between the true and the false throughout our history. Such willful ignorance has produced a culture of conformism (lending itself to manipulation) that was observed as early as the mid-19th century by Alexis de Tocqueville: “I know of no country where there is so little true independence of mind and freedom of discussion as in America.”

In 1984, two scholars revalidated Tocqueville’s observations in their book, The American Ethos. They concluded: “Most public debate in America…takes place within a relatively restricted segment of the ideological spectrum.” Yet, more than 150 years ago, both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau thought they knew why.

Long before business was centralized by dehumanizing corporate power, Emerson could assert in 1841: [T]he general system of our trade…is a system of selfishness; is not dictated by the high sentiments of human nature; is not measured by the exact law of reciprocity; much less by the sentiments of love and heroism, but is a system of distrust, of concealment, of superior keenness, not of giving but of taking advantage….”

And Thoreau, writing in Walden would complain: “Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them…Actually the laboring man has not the leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to men; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be any thing but a machine. How can he remember his ignorance – which his growth requires – who has so often to use his knowledge?”

Troubled by a culture based upon such “ignorance” and “taking advantage,” civic and religious leaders, dating back to Puritan New England, “emphasized literacy, especially sufficient literacy to read the Bible, as a means to bring civilization to their country.

“But, as Lee Soltow and Edward Stevens conclude, this push for literacy ‘was never more than a utilitarian value to serve greater spiritual and social ends.’ [Soltow and Stevens, The Rise of Literacy and the Common School in the United States, p. 18] It was a ‘particular‘ sort of literacy; certainly not designed to ‘open vistas of imagination.'” [Ibid, p. 22, quoted in Walter C. Uhler, “Democracy or dominion,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 2004]

Because such “education” actually was designed to “instill proper beliefs and codes of conduct” [Soltow and Stevens, p. 22] rather than rigorous thinking in the minds of coarse, laboring Americans, one shouldn’t be surprised that the mere ability to read the Bible didn’t prevent the widespread propagation of the bogus “Curse of Ham” as the “most authoritative justification for ‘Negro slavery.'” [David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World, p. 66]

As actual readers of Genesis 9:18-27 should have known, Noah did not curse Ham, but Ham’s son, Canaan. Moreover, Genesis 9:18-27 contains nothing to hint of race or color. That hardly mattered, however, because, as David Brion Davis has concluded, “it was not an originally racist biblical script that led to the enslavement of ‘Ham’s black descendents,’ but rather the increasing enslavement of blacks that transformed biblical interpretation.” [Ibid, pp. 66-67] Moral rot!

Professor Davis offers a devastating comparison of the immorality of late 19th century Southern Christians, still embracing the bogus “Curse of Ham,” and the barbarian Tupinamba slaveholders in 16th century Brazil. According to Davis, the Tupinamba took great delight in humiliating their male slaves, before eventually murdering them and eating them – even saving specific bodily organs for honored guests. According to Davis, “[T]his freedom to degrade, dishonor, enslave, and even kill and eat gave the Tupinamba not only solidarity but a sense of superiority and transcendence.” [Ibid, p. 29]

Although late 19th century American lynch mobs did not eat the blacks they murdered, a rotten superiority and solidarity were served as “Southern whites eagerly gathered as souvenirs the lynched victims’ fingers, toes, bones, ears and teeth.” They called them “nigger buttons.” [Ibid]

Unfortunately, as Anatol Lieven has pointed out, “for a century and a half…the desire to preserve first slavery and then absolute Black separation and subordination had contributed enormously to the closing of the Southern mind, with consequences for America as a whole which has lasted down to our own day.” [Lieven, America Right or Wrong p. 112]

For example, as Stephen R. Haynes has written, in Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, the Rev. Benjamin Palmer delivered a 1901 New Year’s Day, “Century Sermon” in New Orleans, in which he “utilized Noah’s prophecy as an ex post facto rationale for his government’s removal of Native Americans ‘from the earth.'” And, as Haynes also notes, “when legal segregation came under concerted attack in the 1950s, the first impulse for many white Christians was to revive the curse to serve as a biblical defense of racial separation.” [p. 103].

Keep in mind, (1) the Greater South extends beyond the borders of the former Confederacy, perhaps as far north as Route 40, which cuts across the middle of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois [Lieven, p. 107], (2) Southern evangelical Protestant religion has spread to other parts of the country [Ibid.] and (3) there are many Southerners and other Americans to whom these generalizations do not apply.

Nevertheless, says Lieven, “a process may have been at work in the United States which could be called the ‘principle of the Claymore mine.’

“A Claymore is essentially a shaped plastic case packed with explosives and steel balls. The explosion, blocked at the rear and sides, hurls shrapnel in the direction of the enemy. Politicians and even media and business figures who express racist hostility to domestic minorities in public now often pay a very heavy price, even though everyone is well aware that, in private, such attitudes continue to stream through much of White American society.

“But as with a Claymore mine, the suppression of feelings at home may have only increased the force with which they are directed against foreigners, who remain a legitimate and publicly accepted target of hatred.” [Ibid, p. 46] It’s called bellicose nationalism.

And it’s easy to tap into such moral rot. Take the candid 1989 admission by first generation neoconservative, Irving Kristol, the all-too-deserving father of the despicable “thug,” William Kristol. It was the father who boasted: “If the president goes to the American people and wraps himself in the American flag and lets Congress wrap itself in the white flag of surrender, the president will win…The American people had never heard of Grenada. There is no reason they should have. The reason we gave for intervention – the risk to American medical students there – was phony but the reaction of the American people was absolutely and overwhelmingly favorable. They had no idea what was going on but they backed the president. They always will.” [Ibid, p. 166]

Such moral rot explains why, when presidential candidate George W. Bush smugly asserted, “I may not know where Kosovo is, but I know what I believe,” he was not judged to be a dimwit, but a man of character. Such moral rot also explains the ease with which an evil president and vice president — with the cynical aid of America’s neocons — could manipulate the ignorant fears and blind rage of Americans into support for an illegal, immoral unprovoked war against Iraq.

Moreover, such moral rot explains why, even in the disastrous wake of the evil invasion he inspired, Darth Cheney could send out Christmas cards containing Benjamin Franklin’s words: “And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” And, alas, such moral rot explains why President Bush – who, until two months before ordering his evil invasion of Iraq didn’t even know that the country was populated by Sunnis and Shiites – could feel sufficiently confident about the collective stupidity of Americans to erroneously compare Iraq to Vietnam (a war that the moral coward supported, but worked so mightily to dodge).

Moral rot also explains American’s current inability to see through Bush’s “surge” propaganda. Simply consider two incontestable truths: (1) “As of late-August, no progress had been made in achieving the key objective of the “surge” – to provide safe space for political progress at the national level.” [Anthony Cordesman, “Iraq’s Insurgency and Civil Violence: Developments through Late August 2007,” p. ii] and (2) such political progress, in the form of national reconciliation, cannot occur because the Shiites now in power consider their permanent political ascendancy to be predicated upon their ability to outlast the American occupation.

As the New York Times correctly noted: Mr. Maliki’s government “is the logical product of the system the United States created, one that deliberately empowered the long-persecuted Shiite majority and deliberately marginalized the long-dominant Sunni Arab minority. It was all but sure to produce someone very like Mr. Maliki, a sectarian Shiite far more interested in settling scores than in reconciling all Iraqis to share power in a unified and peaceful democracy.” [“The Problem Isn’t Mr. Maliki,” New York Times, August 24, 2007] Of course, it’s difficult to foresee such problems, if you’re a president who did not even know that the country he was preparing to invade contained such Shiites and Sunnis. Moral rot!

Finally, moral rot now explains what appears to be the inevitable march to war against Iran, or at least the bombing of its nuclear energy facilities. Having supported an illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq, which has inflicted untold suffering upon its people, most Americans – including Americans currently sitting in congress and running for president – find themselves incapable of thinking through just how to deal peacefully with Iran, the sole regional power to emerge preeminent from the debacle we initiated.

And, yet, we still consider ourselves an exceptional people!

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).



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

From:
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Iraq, Iran and the Moral Rot Infecting the Soul of America

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
Posted 27 August 2007

The more I read history, the more I’m convinced that the United States, far from being God’s appointed beacon for all mankind, was always a big talking, poor performing country in which the massive and willful stupidity of the majority engendered a moral rot incapable of withstanding manipulation and seduction by self-serving business/political interests. Thus, columnist Richard Cohen was merely acknowledging the latest example of such rot among the majority, when he asserted the Iraq War “was no mere failure of intelligence. This was a failure of character.”

“Character” implies steadfast adherence to a moral code. But, as Walter Lippmann so cogently expressed it: “No moral code, as such, will enable [a person] to know whether he is exercising his moral faculties on a real and an important event. For effective virtue, as Socrates pointed out long ago, is knowledge; and a code of right and wrong must wait upon a perception of the true and false.” (Walter Lippmann, The Phantom Public, p. 20)

By disdaining knowledge unless it’s practical (mainly in the service of business), technological (in the service of business) or biblically based — most Americans have proven themselves incapable of distinguishing between the true and the false throughout our history. Such willful ignorance has produced a culture of conformism (lending itself to manipulation) that was observed as early as the mid-19th century by Alexis de Tocqueville: “I know of no country where there is so little true independence of mind and freedom of discussion as in America.”

In 1984, two scholars revalidated Tocqueville’s observations in their book, The American Ethos. They concluded: “Most public debate in America…takes place within a relatively restricted segment of the ideological spectrum.” Yet, more than 150 years ago, both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau thought they knew why.

Long before business was centralized by dehumanizing corporate power, Emerson could assert in 1841: [T]he general system of our trade…is a system of selfishness; is not dictated by the high sentiments of human nature; is not measured by the exact law of reciprocity; much less by the sentiments of love and heroism, but is a system of distrust, of concealment, of superior keenness, not of giving but of taking advantage….”

And Thoreau, writing in Walden would complain: “Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them…Actually the laboring man has not the leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to men; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be any thing but a machine. How can he remember his ignorance – which his growth requires – who has so often to use his knowledge?”

Troubled by a culture based upon such “ignorance” and “taking advantage,” civic and religious leaders, dating back to Puritan New England, “emphasized literacy, especially sufficient literacy to read the Bible, as a means to bring civilization to their country.

“But, as Lee Soltow and Edward Stevens conclude, this push for literacy ‘was never more than a utilitarian value to serve greater spiritual and social ends.’ [Soltow and Stevens, The Rise of Literacy and the Common School in the United States, p. 18] It was a ‘particular‘ sort of literacy; certainly not designed to ‘open vistas of imagination.'” [Ibid, p. 22, quoted in Walter C. Uhler, “Democracy or dominion,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 2004]

Because such “education” actually was designed to “instill proper beliefs and codes of conduct” [Soltow and Stevens, p. 22] rather than rigorous thinking in the minds of coarse, laboring Americans, one shouldn’t be surprised that the mere ability to read the Bible didn’t prevent the widespread propagation of the bogus “Curse of Ham” as the “most authoritative justification for ‘Negro slavery.'” [David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World, p. 66]

As actual readers of Genesis 9:18-27 should have known, Noah did not curse Ham, but Ham’s son, Canaan. Moreover, Genesis 9:18-27 contains nothing to hint of race or color. That hardly mattered, however, because, as David Brion Davis has concluded, “it was not an originally racist biblical script that led to the enslavement of ‘Ham’s black descendents,’ but rather the increasing enslavement of blacks that transformed biblical interpretation.” [Ibid, pp. 66-67] Moral rot!

Professor Davis offers a devastating comparison of the immorality of late 19th century Southern Christians, still embracing the bogus “Curse of Ham,” and the barbarian Tupinamba slaveholders in 16th century Brazil. According to Davis, the Tupinamba took great delight in humiliating their male slaves, before eventually murdering them and eating them – even saving specific bodily organs for honored guests. According to Davis, “[T]his freedom to degrade, dishonor, enslave, and even kill and eat gave the Tupinamba not only solidarity but a sense of superiority and transcendence.” [Ibid, p. 29]

Although late 19th century American lynch mobs did not eat the blacks they murdered, a rotten superiority and solidarity were served as “Southern whites eagerly gathered as souvenirs the lynched victims’ fingers, toes, bones, ears and teeth.” They called them “nigger buttons.” [Ibid]

Unfortunately, as Anatol Lieven has pointed out, “for a century and a half…the desire to preserve first slavery and then absolute Black separation and subordination had contributed enormously to the closing of the Southern mind, with consequences for America as a whole which has lasted down to our own day.” [Lieven, America Right or Wrong p. 112]

For example, as Stephen R. Haynes has written, in Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, the Rev. Benjamin Palmer delivered a 1901 New Year’s Day, “Century Sermon” in New Orleans, in which he “utilized Noah’s prophecy as an ex post facto rationale for his government’s removal of Native Americans ‘from the earth.'” And, as Haynes also notes, “when legal segregation came under concerted attack in the 1950s, the first impulse for many white Christians was to revive the curse to serve as a biblical defense of racial separation.” [p. 103].

Keep in mind, (1) the Greater South extends beyond the borders of the former Confederacy, perhaps as far north as Route 40, which cuts across the middle of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois [Lieven, p. 107], (2) Southern evangelical Protestant religion has spread to other parts of the country [Ibid.] and (3) there are many Southerners and other Americans to whom these generalizations do not apply.

Nevertheless, says Lieven, “a process may have been at work in the United States which could be called the ‘principle of the Claymore mine.’

“A Claymore is essentially a shaped plastic case packed with explosives and steel balls. The explosion, blocked at the rear and sides, hurls shrapnel in the direction of the enemy. Politicians and even media and business figures who express racist hostility to domestic minorities in public now often pay a very heavy price, even though everyone is well aware that, in private, such attitudes continue to stream through much of White American society.

“But as with a Claymore mine, the suppression of feelings at home may have only increased the force with which they are directed against foreigners, who remain a legitimate and publicly accepted target of hatred.” [Ibid, p. 46] It’s called bellicose nationalism.

And it’s easy to tap into such moral rot. Take the candid 1989 admission by first generation neoconservative, Irving Kristol, the all-too-deserving father of the despicable “thug,” William Kristol. It was the father who boasted: “If the president goes to the American people and wraps himself in the American flag and lets Congress wrap itself in the white flag of surrender, the president will win…The American people had never heard of Grenada. There is no reason they should have. The reason we gave for intervention – the risk to American medical students there – was phony but the reaction of the American people was absolutely and overwhelmingly favorable. They had no idea what was going on but they backed the president. They always will.” [Ibid, p. 166]

Such moral rot explains why, when presidential candidate George W. Bush smugly asserted, “I may not know where Kosovo is, but I know what I believe,” he was not judged to be a dimwit, but a man of character. Such moral rot also explains the ease with which an evil president and vice president — with the cynical aid of America’s neocons — could manipulate the ignorant fears and blind rage of Americans into support for an illegal, immoral unprovoked war against Iraq.

Moreover, such moral rot explains why, even in the disastrous wake of the evil invasion he inspired, Darth Cheney could send out Christmas cards containing Benjamin Franklin’s words: “And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” And, alas, such moral rot explains why President Bush – who, until two months before ordering his evil invasion of Iraq didn’t even know that the country was populated by Sunnis and Shiites – could feel sufficiently confident about the collective stupidity of Americans to erroneously compare Iraq to Vietnam (a war that the moral coward supported, but worked so mightily to dodge).

Moral rot also explains American’s current inability to see through Bush’s “surge” propaganda. Simply consider two incontestable truths: (1) “As of late-August, no progress had been made in achieving the key objective of the “surge” – to provide safe space for political progress at the national level.” [Anthony Cordesman, “Iraq’s Insurgency and Civil Violence: Developments through Late August 2007,” p. ii] and (2) such political progress, in the form of national reconciliation, cannot occur because the Shiites now in power consider their permanent political ascendancy to be predicated upon their ability to outlast the American occupation.

As the New York Times correctly noted: Mr. Maliki’s government “is the logical product of the system the United States created, one that deliberately empowered the long-persecuted Shiite majority and deliberately marginalized the long-dominant Sunni Arab minority. It was all but sure to produce someone very like Mr. Maliki, a sectarian Shiite far more interested in settling scores than in reconciling all Iraqis to share power in a unified and peaceful democracy.” [“The Problem Isn’t Mr. Maliki,” New York Times, August 24, 2007] Of course, it’s difficult to foresee such problems, if you’re a president who did not even know that the country he was preparing to invade contained such Shiites and Sunnis. Moral rot!

Finally, moral rot now explains what appears to be the inevitable march to war against Iran, or at least the bombing of its nuclear energy facilities. Having supported an illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq, which has inflicted untold suffering upon its people, most Americans – including Americans currently sitting in congress and running for president – find themselves incapable of thinking through just how to deal peacefully with Iran, the sole regional power to emerge preeminent from the debacle we initiated.

And, yet, we still consider ourselves an exceptional people!

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).


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

Hiroshima, Nagasaki and America’s Immoral Addiction to Nuclear Weapons by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
Posted 6 August 2007

Americans “were free to say what they think,
because they did not think what they were not free
to say.” — Leo Szilard

“Had Germany used atomic bombs on two allied cities
[during World War II], those responsible would have been
‘sentenced…to death at Nuremberg and hanged…'” — Leo Szilard

America’s immoral addiction to nuclear weapons was on display last week after Barack Obama demonstrated that rare ability to think and to say what most American politicians are not free to say, namely that he would not use nuclear weapons “in any circumstance” to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Almost immediately Senator Hillary Clinton put the use of nuclear weapons back on the table, when she asserted: “I don’t believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons.” Poor Hillary!
By her willingness to contemplate the use of nuclear weapons, Senator Clinton appears ready, were she to be elected president, to add her name to the long list of presidents who have contemplated such use. As Joseph Gerson notes, in his recent book, Empire and the Bomb: How the US Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World: “On at least 30 occasions since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, every US president has prepared and/or threatened to initiate nuclear war during international crises, confrontations, and wars – primarily in the Third World.” [p. 2]

For perspective, consider that, in 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt expressed America’s moral outrage, when he proclaimed: “The ruthless bombing from the air of civilians in unfortified centers of population during the course of hostilities…sickened the hearts of every civilized man and woman, and has profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity.” [Gerson, p 33] Yet, within six years, Roosevelt would not only subject European and Japanese cities to such “ruthless bombing,” his successor, Harry Truman, would do nothing to prevent America’s technological utopians from turning mass murder into a one-brushstroke work of art — by exploding single atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In fact, Secretary of War Henry Stimson “confided to Truman that with the US fire bombings that had razed nearly every major Japanese city to the ground, and with the atomic bombings that were to come, the US could ‘get the reputation of outdoing Hitler in atrocities.'” [p. 13]

Continued…

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