Category Archives: Geopolitics

Obama’s arrogance and bin Laden’s murder


We can’t say we have been disappointed by Barack Obama because we never had any great expectations of him, in part because he was a product of the Chicago Democratic Party political machine, one of the most corrupt institutions we’ve ever investigated.

Chicago’s organized crime syndicate was not, like the more traditional Sicilian crime families, a monolithically ethnic operation. Al Capone was of Neopolitan heritage, not Sicilian, and the Outfit, as syndicate was known, included Jews [the Korshak brothers], a Welshman [Murray Humphreys], a Japanese [Ken Eto], and even a Greek [Gus Alex] — though none of African descent.

To the more traditional La Cosa Nostra families, the Outfit was like a crazy half-brother who had fallen in with some bad, though dangerous, friends..

The Outfit was on life support when Obama was on the rise, and we’ve never heard anything to link him to the enfeebled syndicate. But the political milieu nurtured by the Outfit remains alive and well, and corruption is still endemic, though the beneficiaries are more like to meet in Wall Street boardrooms and country clubs than in suites in mob-run hotels.

So when Obama was elected, we were mostly by the fact that this country had finally elected a person of color, while recognizing that Obama’s color would also useful to Republican strategists as a tool to play on the nation’s never-healed racial divides.

And given his close ties to Rahm Emanuel, a man of violent instincts with a terrorist for a father, and his corporate connections. we figured Obama would offer little change from business as usual on Pennsylvania Avenue.

We were confirmed in our suspicions when he named Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, a violent interventionist by nature and a tool of Wall Street, as demonstrated by her record in the Senate.

Nowhere were Obama’s failures more evident than in his handling of events in the Mideast, southwestern Asia, and North Africa, where he seemed convinced that more violence would somehow lead to peace.

Evidence was already clear that forcing regime change only lead to more violence, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, yet the Obama/Clinton team pushed for just that in Libya, Egypt, and Syria. While Egyptian violence was quickly contained by another round of regime change restoring the status quo ante of a military dictatorship, the tragedies that are Libya and Syria continue unabated, with the violence extending to the streets of Paris and San Bernardino.

All of which is a very long preamble to a fascinating interview of a journalist who rose to fame for his investigation of another tragedy of another failed American military intervention, the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.

A Pulitzer Prize winner and the dean of American investigative journalists, Seymour Hersch is still going strong at 79, and in this interview with Thom Hartmann he describes an act of extrajudicial murder ordered by Obama himself, a killing that epitomizes all that’s wrong with American foreign policy and yet another reminder of what to expect should Hillary Clinton claim the White House.

From The Big Picture:

Great Minds/Seymour Hersh – Bin Laden- A Prisoner of War. It Was a Hit…

Program notes:

Seymour Hersh, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, joins Thom. Seymour Hersh, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, joins Thom. For tonight’s Conversations with Great Minds I’m joined by one of America’s most importatn journalists – legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Mr. Hersh has broken some of the most important stories of the past half century – and his revelations abou the My Lai Massacre and Abu Ghraib prison quite literally changed the course of American and world history. He’s also won numerous awards for his work – including the Pulitzer Prize – and is also the author of a number of books – including his latest “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden” – a deep dive into the real story of the Obama years.

Drones, deaths, and the toxic legacy of Vietnam


The Vietnam war was America’s first and last experiment in allowing journalists unrestricted access to one of this country’s imperial wars.

Because journalists were able to hitch rides on helicopters and air transport planes, they saw death in the raw, and the images and stories they produced led directly to a militant antiwar movement and massive demonstrations, often violently repressed.

Journalists in subsequent wars to consolidate the global reach of the United States were tightly controlled, leading to the concept of embedding, where journalists were assigned to particular units and obligated to remain with them for the duration — the noxious notion of “embedding.”

Why noxious? Because living constantly with the same group for an extended period leads to identification with the group. Rather than cultivating the detachment so prized by journalists during the Vietnam War, reporters in America’s Iraqi invasions ate, drank, slept, partied with and depended on the same small group, invariably leading to an experience of war as us against them.

Couple with the ongoing downsizing of the increasingly consolidated mainstream media, journalism became less about questioning and much more about cheerleading.

Meanwhile, war itself was undergoing a transformation, epitomized in that radical new weapon of American war-making, the pilotless drone, operated from afar with joysticks by technosavvy geeks who grew up on videogames.

But that brave, new warfare exacted a price on both sides of the video screen, and digital warfare became a force for mobilizing its victims, a lesson the military failed to learn from World War II, where mass bombings of German cities failed to destroy civilian morale and even helped in prolonging German resistance.

In this, the latest edition of RT’s Going Underground, host Afshin Rattansi interviews Cian Westmoreland, an Air Force veteran who built the communications infrastructure of the drone program.

What he experienced there led him to become an antiwar activist and a leading opponent of drone warfare:

‘It Feels Like Murder’ – Obama Drone Program Whistleblower

Program notes:

Afshin Rattansi goes underground on drones. Cian Westmoreland, whistleblower and former drone technician for Obama’s top secret drone program talks about the indiscriminate targeting that means that civilians are dying when they are searching for terrorists. Plus how responsible are drones in the radicalisation of civilians?

Chart of the day: Institutional trust by the young


And guess what the young distrust even more than Wall Street. . .

From the executive summary of the Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service [PDF], a just-released national poll 18- to 29-year-olds from the Institute of Politics of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government:

BLOG Trust

Another interesting finding from the survey reveals that while men feel Hillary Clinton would do more for women than Bernie Sanders if elected, women feel just the opposite.

Chart of the day: European trademarks soaring


Anyone wondering why Europe is pushing hard for those international trade agreements like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership can find a hint in today’s chart, given that the agreements provide for secret tribunals with the power to impose heavy sanctions for, among other things, transgressing on corporate intellectual property.

From Eurostat [PDF]

BOP Euroindicators Press Release

89,420 applications for trademark protection were received in 2015 by the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO] from the Member States of the European Union (EU], a number about 4 times higher that of the mid-1990s. Over recent years, the number of EU trademark (TM] applications originating from EU Member States has constantly risen, with the exception of the slowdown registered with the economic and financial crisis in 2008.

Applications made in 2015 from EU Member States accounted for nearly 70% of all applications made in the EUIPO that year, which totalled 130,385 applications. The highest number of TM applications made to the EUIPO from outside the EU came by far from the United States [16,881], ahead of China [4,153], Switzerland [3,997], Japan [2,593] and South Korea [2,038].

Quote of the day: Hillary Clinton, in Nixon’s image


From a Mark Landler New York Times profile of Clinton as the most hawkish candidate in the field:

As Hillary Clinton makes another run for president, it can be tempting to view her hard-edged rhetoric about the world less as deeply felt core principle than as calculated political maneuver. But Clinton’s foreign-policy instincts are bred in the bone — grounded in cold realism about human nature and what one aide calls “a textbook view of American exceptionalism.” It set her apart from her rival-turned-boss, Barack Obama, who avoided military entanglements and tried to reconcile Americans to a world in which the United States was no longer the undisputed hegemon. And it will likely set her apart from the Republican candidate she meets in the general election. For all their bluster about bombing the Islamic State into oblivion, neither Donald J. Trump nor Senator Ted Cruz of Texas have demonstrated anywhere near the appetite for military engagement abroad that Clinton has.

“Hillary is very much a member of the traditional American foreign-policy establishment,” says Vali Nasr, a foreign-policy strategist who advised her on Pakistan and Afghanistan at the State Department. “She believes, like presidents going back to the Reagan or Kennedy years, in the importance of the military — in solving terrorism, in asserting American influence. The shift with Obama is that he went from reliance on the military to the intelligence agencies. Their position was, ‘All you need to deal with terrorism is N.S.A. and C.I.A., drones and special ops.’ So the C.I.A. gave Obama an angle, if you will, to be simultaneously hawkish and shun using the military.”

Unlike other recent presidents — Obama, George W. Bush or her husband, Bill Clinton — Hillary Clinton would assume the office with a long record on national security. There are many ways to examine that record, but one of the most revealing is to explore her decades-long cultivation of the military — not just civilian leaders like Gates, but also its high-ranking commanders, the men with the medals. Her affinity for the armed forces is rooted in a lifelong belief that the calculated use of military power is vital to defending national interests, that American intervention does more good than harm and that the writ of the United States properly reaches, as Bush once put it, into “any dark corner of the world.” Unexpectedly, in the bombastic, testosterone-fueled presidential election of 2016, Hillary Clinton is the last true hawk left in the race.

Chart of the day: Granted asylum in Europe


From Eurostat [PDF]:

BLOG Euro asylum

Headline of the day: Ever-predictable Obama


From the Intercept:

Obama Went From Condemning Saudis for Abuses to Arming Them to the Teeth

Obama once called for “the arms merchants in our own country [to] stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.” Now he enables them.