Wednesday, August 30, 2006

North Korea

"Before a journalist starts to cover foreign policy issues, he or she should first be required to report on car accidents."

John Feffer, Co-Director, Foreign Policy In Focus and Director, Global Affairs, International Relations Center

Most journalists in the U.S. are simply mouthpieces for the foreign policy of whatever administration happens to be in office at the time. The notion that there exists an opposing view must strike them as utterly alien. It must be nice to get paid not to think. This is blatant when it comes to North Korea. We, the mentally retarded U.S. public, are told that the leaders of North Korea are a bunch of irrational lunatics just aching to shower us with nuclear weapons. Never mind that North Korea has had large stockpiles of chemical weapons for decades, and perhaps biological weapons as well, but has never used them. And never mind that the country has maintained its sovereignty for over 50 years! They're just a bunch of psychopaths. We're also fed a big juicy line on how our leaders just want to spread Democracy and Freedom to North Korea! Pardon me while I go somewhere private to vomit. Let's think about some of the great things the U.S. has done for Korea since World War II:

August 6 and 9, 1945 -- The U.S. drops nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ultimately killing hundreds of thousands of people including at least 60,000 Koreans mostly brought to Japan forcibly as laborers.

August 15, 1945 -- The U.S. authorities in the South support reactionaries who collaborated with the Japanese. These men formed the kernel of the government of South Korea which would eventually include military dictators like Park Jung Hee who used techniques to suppress dissent that they had learned from their Japanese masters before liberation.

Korean War -- U.S. forces, likely as a result of General MacArthur's view of all Koreans as "defeated enemies" as well as the knowledge that the North enjoyed widespread support among the people, are under orders to view any unidentified person on the battlefield as hostile.

Korean War -- The U.S. uses chemical weapons, especially napalm, extensively during the conflict.

July, 1950 -- Elements of the Second Battalion, U.S. Seventh Cavalry Regiment, massacre hundreds of civilians (mostly women and children) at No Gun Ri.

May 1980 -- The U.S. government approves the use of force against pro-Democracy demonstrators in the city of Kwangju and commits to direct intervention if the situation gets out of hand. A massacre ensues, the notorious Kwangju Massacre, that results in the deaths of between 500 and 2000 (the final death toll is still unknown because the military dumped bodies in mass graves and lakes) civilian demonstrators at the hands of the U.S.-backed South Korean military.

Now let's add that to all the other fucked-up shit the U.S. has done and continues to do all over the world and let's wonder why on earth the government of North Korea, which the President included in his "axis of evil" speech, would want to acquire nuclear weapons!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Gangland and Philosophy, Brooklyn-Style

Everyone from Brooklyn has a mob story. I have a few but I 'm not going to tell them today. Today I want to talk about the real crooks -- the ones whose racket is so bad that they are playing all of us for suckers. These hoodlums are so hip that they have all us all thinking that their racket is legitimate and, even worse, they have us all carrying on about small time hustlers and how they should be locked up. Every year each and every one of us kicks up about three tenths of his or her income to the U.S. Treasury Department. Why? Ostensibly that money goes to maintenance of the government, infrastructure, the military and social programs. But if you look at the Federal budget for Fiscal 2007, you'll see that about 49 percent of the budget is going to the military. And if you include spending on Homeland Security and NASA (basically a military program), the portion of the budget devoted to military operations swells to well over 50 percent. You don't have to be the hippest wise guy on the block to see that the U.S. government is essentially a protection racket. Hence, our politicians are always telling us that we need to spend more on military because of this or that very frightening enemy. Today it's the crazy Arab terrorists tomorrow, who knows what it'll be, or whether there'll be a tomorrow... But it's a little more sophisticated than your typical protection racket because the government really is spending the money on weapons and so forth. They're not just shaking us down to line their pockets like your typical street hustler. We know because they've got hundreds of thousands of our young men overseas and they're tapping our telephones. So whoever's behind this racket is putting the squeeze on us, taxing us in sweat and blood, to fight turf wars to control valuable foreign markets (mainly dope and petroleum) while making sure none of us squares at home gets wise to the lovely set-up. If you think about it, this is much worse than your typical mobster. Your typical gangster may shake you down for "protection" every week but he doesn't make you send your son to fight for him two blocks down. Also your typical lowlife doesn't tell you that Arab terrorists or some such bullshit are trying to burn down your store. And if you don't pay, they don't fly fucking airplanes into your store and demolish the joint and then blame it on some Arab guys with ceramic box cutters who the local newspaper reports were one thousand miles away when it all went down. Sure they may beat you up and send you to the emergency room, but you know damn well who it was. Usually it's the same guy who asked you to pay up the first time. The point is that we are all the big-time suckers in a really gruesome mob story and it's time we got wise.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Truth About Iran

"Reactionaries hate the truth and the world's rulers fear it; but it embarasses lberals, perhaps because they can't do anything about it."

Chester Himes

On Wednesday, the Royal Institute of International Affairs -- a.k.a. Chatham House (a major British think tank) -- released a report that presented the following conclusion (a conclusion of which most of us who have been following the situation in Western Asia from a truly international perspective were already aware): "there is little doubt that iran has been the chief beneficiary of the war on terror in the middle east..." Nonetheless this would blow up the happy little illusion that many in the U.S. have of their country's position in the world if they actually paid any attention. When it comes to Iran, the right and the left in this country like to clamor about political Islam (as if this country wasn't ruled by political Christianity), the absence of Democracy (as if this country were a Democracy), gender inequality (how many women presidents have we had here?) and the race for nuclear weapons (okay -- which country is the ONLY country to have ever used nuclear weapons TWICE on CIVILIANS?) but neither side wants to face the truth: that the leaders of Iran have played this thing out exceptionally well. Iran is now very tight with pretty much all the key players in Asia (excluding the U.S.) -- especially China and Russia. It is unlikely that any serious sanctions against Iran will get past a veto from either or both of these countries. Iran is not the pariah state here -- the U.S. is, along with it's principal ally in the region, the notorious Zionist colonial apartheid state, Israel. The U.S. politicians like to make a big fuss over the few countries that actually support their position against Iran -- namely France, Germany and the U.K. -- while downplaying the fact that all of the other players do not. Even Japan, the only real ally of the U.S. left in Asia, only half-heartedly supports the U.S. in this -- after all, Japan needs oil. A military attack on Iran at this point could easily precipitate armageddon given the players involved and what's at stake (i.e. Asia -- home of most of the world's population and remaining energy reserves). If the so-called left in this country really wants to make a positive impact here, rather than worrying about whether or not Iran is going to get nuclear weapons, they'd do a lot better making some kind of effort to make sure their own government or one of its key allies (i.e. Israel) doesn't end up nuking someone pretty soon! They do a lot better to recall that most of them supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and to make sure that they don't turn around and end up supporting a nuclear attack on Iran!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rebellion in Oaxaca!

In May the teachers in Oaxaca staged a massive strike in response to the Governor's refusal to raise funding for teachers and rural schools. See he needed those funds to keep his and his friends' pockets nice and fat. His response to the strikers was three thousand pigs who proceeded to beat the people down -- sending over one hundred people to the hospital. So then the people got organized and really got down. In June they formed the Asamblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca (APPO) out of regional and municipal organizations, unions, non-governmental organizations, social organizations, cooperatives and parent groups and took over the center of Oaxaca city. Isn't it amazing what the people can accomplish when they get it on and show they ass? The New York Times doesn't think so. That rag finally reported these events yesterday only to decry the protesters' violence (not the pigs') and to echo the Governor's call for Federal intervention! In other words, in all seriousness, the fucking hypocrite was denouncing the violence of the People while advocating more violence on the part of the State. Meanwhile, the Governor has been sending out paramilitary units to murder protesters. All the Times reporter was really concerned about were the fucking tourists trapped in their hotels. You gotta love how traumatized these bourgeois fucks get when confronted with actual Democracy and Freedom!

Monday, August 21, 2006

The War on Drugs

First of all there is no war on drugs -- there is a drug war. Second of all the U.S. is not trying to stop the production and traffic in cocaine and heroin -- it's simply trying to maintain control of the racket. This should be obvious to anyone who read Juan Forero's excellent report on the front page of Saturday's New York Times. Naturally you had to read the entire article to get the entire picture but it's something like this. The U.S. has spent the past six years and $ 4.7 billion supposedly trying to eradicate cocaine production and trafficking in Colombia. However production and price have remained pretty much the same as they were before Clinton launched the program (yes -- this is a Clinton program). And, the reporter mentions at the very end of the piece, the effort has had the effect of furnishing the control of the drug trafficking routes to the right-wing paramilitary commanders instead of the left-wing insurgents. Is it just me or is this just so obviously a racket that you just want to go fucking nuts? Basically the U.S. sent the military into Colombia to wipe out the traffic in blow only they didn't wipe it out -- they just shook down the competition. Now you've got the degenerate children of the U.S. and international bourgeoisie living it up in the night clubs of Los Angeles and New York City run run running to the yayo while U.S. prisons fill up with Black and Latino men who got pinched for allegedly hustling relatively tiny quantities of dope while the U.S. military is maintaining a Civil War in Colombia to keep that coke money flowing. Because it is all about the money. Every year between $ 500 billion and one trillion dollars of drug money is laundered through U.S. banks and companies [see US Senate, (1999); Minority Staff Report for Permanent Sub committee on Investigations, US Senate Committee on Government Affairs, November 9, 1999 and US Senate, (2001); Minority Staff Report for Permanent Sub committee on Investigations on Correspondent Banking: A Gateway for Money Laundering, Senate Committee on Government Affairs, February 5, 2001]. It is this continuous flow of cash money that has kept the U.S. stock market strong despite the dwindling competitiveness of U.S. companies in the world market. Nothing helps financial liquidity like an annual influx of several hundred billion dollars in cash. The leftist insurgents (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) plan to decriminalize the production of coca once in power. Legal proceeds don't need laundering. So Uncle Sam's got to move against them.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Is Pluto a Planet?

Whether or not Pluto is labeled a planet (the big debate this week at the annual meeting of the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union ) has more to do with politics than astronomy. Pluto is a cold spherical rock that has been orbiting the sun for billions of years and what the blood-sucking devils who rule this planet call it is insignificant. However, Pluto is the only planet to have been "discovered" and named by a U.S. scientist (Clyde Tombaugh in 1930). What's at stake is the position of the U.S. as a global power, not only militarily, but culturally. Science has little to do with it. Labeling Pluto as a planet will force the inclusion of potentially hundreds of solar system objects into the planet category and unnecessarily complicate the taxonomy of astronomy. But, considering that the U.S. is willing to murder hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women and children to exert its military might, it makes sense that it would fuck up astronomy to exert its cultural hegemony.

Interestingly enough, like the "discovery" of the Americas, the "discovery" of Pluto was an accident that resulted from a faulty hypothesis. Tombaugh believed that only the existence of a ninth planet could explain the anomalies he was observing in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. However, in fact, Pluto has no role in the anomalies he observed.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cuba Before The Revolution

For about 20 years, from 1939 until the revolution in January 1959, Cuba was run by gangsters. Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano and Santos Trafficante, Jr. owned the Havana casinos and Fulgencio Batista or whomever was president got his cut. Havana was the location of the notorious Havana Conference -- one of the most important meetings in the history of organized crime in the U.S. The list of attendees reads like a "Who's Who" of the syndicate at the time -- all the original leaders of New York's five families and their closest associates were there -- Bumpy Johnson was there too. Cuba is the link between the Kennedy assassination and the mob. The syndicate, represented at the time by Trafficante, was furious that Kennedy failed to support the Bay of Pigs invasion with the Air Force and the Marines (among other things) even though the latter were stationed offshore and ready to land at a moment's notice. Jose Aleman (Cuban exile and F.B.I. stool pigeon), in his testimony before the U.S. Senate, said that Trafficante told him that Kennedy was going to get hit.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hezbollah Kicks Ass!

Okay now before you get all excited let me just say that I am strongly opposed to political Islam because it's basically a theocratic, neoliberal ideology that represents various elements of the ruling class who are out to to oppress and bleed the people (for an intelligent critique of political Islam, see this essay by Samir Amin). At the same time, I gotta recognize the outstanding performance of this small band of fighters against a larger, much better-equipped opponent. Just look at the numbers, according to the Associated Press, as of earlier this week: Lebanese dead total at least 642, including 558 civilians, 29 Lebanese soldiers and only 55 Hezbollah fighters while Israeli dead total 97, including 61 soldiers and only 36 civilians. So basically, the vast majority (86 percent) of Israeli kills have been civilians, mainly women and children, while soldiers account for almost two-thirds (63 percent) of Hezbollah kills. And keep in mind that Hezbollah's weapons, like the notorious Katyushas, are inaccurate while Israel's can hit very precise targets. People all across the region, even in the pro-U.S. strongholds of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as well as the Lebanese Christian communities, are giving the Hezbollah guerrillas their props even if it's only because they're bringing it to the Zionist army hard core!

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Cynthia McKinney: the Ballot or the Bullet

People who still think the U.S. is a two-party system should have gotten their wake-up call yesterday when Cynthia McKinney lost her seat in Congress for the second time. Not only was her ouster the result of a bipartisan effort, as clearly evidenced by the reaction of her fellow Democrats to her constant harrassment by the white members of the Capitol Hill police force, but also the entire U.S. news media is united -- Conservatives and Liberals alike -- in their glee at her defeat. Cynthia McKinney was a radical anomaly in Washington. Not content to focus on the petty squabbles that divide the U.S. ruling class, largely tactical issues on how best to bleed the people at home and perpetuate U.S. hegemony abroad, McKinney used her position in Congress to fight for REAL equality and justice. Her only mistake was that she believed she could lead the struggle within a political apparatus whose raison d'etre is to maintain a system of inequality and injustice. It's hard to believe that she really harbored any illusions about the system, however, since she suspected that the U.S. government had a hand in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the murder of Tupac Amaru Shakur and the attacks on September 11, 2001. I think the last straw was her persistence in denouncing Israeli war crimes and supporting the Palestinian cause -- strictly forbidden in U.S. politics. She probably would have gotten wacked outright if the man weren't so good at rigging elections these days. It looks like 2007 might turn out to be a repeat of 1964, like Malcom X said, the ballot or the bullet. What can the man use now to fool us after he kicked Cynthia McKinney out of Washington?