Category Archives: Warfare

Viggo Mortensen on American militarism, art

Viggo Mortensen is one of Hollywood’s most interesting actors, a commanding and often sympathetic screen presence.

But he’s much more than a screen presence. Born in New York, he was raised in Latin America, and holds citizenship in both the U.S. and Denmark. Among his other talents are gifts for painting, photography, writing, and poetry. Oh, he speaks four languages fluently and can converse in several others. And he’s also a recording artist and founded his own book publishing house, Perceval Press.

Give his credentials as a talented polymath, it should come as no surprise that he’s also a man of considered political opinions, and it is these that are the focus of the latest edition of TeleSUR English’s The Laura Flanders Show:

Viggo Mortensen: Empires and Justice in the Middle East

Program notes:

This week Laura and Viggo Mortensen discuss heroes, outlaws, empires and justice in the Middle East. Academy Award-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen has appeared in scores of movies, including The Lord of The Rings, one of the highest grossing film series of all time. What you may not know is he’s also a poet, photographer, musician and painter. He speaks four languages, and he is the founder and publisher of an independent publishing house, Perceval Press. The twelfth anniversary edition of Perceval’s collection of essays in response to the Iraq occupation: Twilight of Empire — was released this winter with essays by Mike Davis, Amy Goodman, Jodie Evans and Dennis Kucinich among others – and a forward by Howard Zinn. This episode also features a few words from Laura on Hillary Clinton – her warmth and her wars.

His Twitter feed is here, and his Facebook arts page is here.

Regrets from a man who ignited Arab Spring

Two self-immolations by Tunisian peddlers, angry and frustrated by abused and beatings by police, sparked the series of events that became known as the Arab Spring of 2011.

Lauded by Western media and facilitated by the actions of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have been transformed into bloody, ongoing civil wars, in which forces of religious fanaticism are opposed by military forces, often equipped by the state Western powers that originally aided and abetted in the initial violence.

Of the two Tunisians who set themselves ablaze, one died and the other, Hosni Kalaya, know regrets all that followed his act of desperation.

He tells his story in this video, produced by Mediadante for the Guardian.

Via Journeyman Pictures:

‘I changed Tunisia’s history. I regret it all now’

Program notes:

Five Years After The Revolution: A look at Tunisia five years after the revolution, and one of the men who started it

Five years ago, in a desperate act of protest against the oppression he faced in Tunisia, fruit seller Mohammed Bouazizi killed himself by setting himself on fire. His death prompted protests in his home town of Sidi Bouzid. Hosni Kalaya tells how he set himself on fire to further fuel the anger, triggering a revolution in Tunisia and the Arab Spring in the wider region.

Headline of the day: Almost a fitting way to go

From the Independent, a warning that while we’ve trashed the earth with impunity, hazards lurk above:

Rise in space junk orbiting the Earth could ‘provoke armed conflict’, Russian scientists warn

Countries will be unable to tell whether damage to military satellites during collisions is caused by debris or deliberate attacks by other countries

The Empire Files: The U.S. role in birthing ISIS

Our respect for Abby Martin continues to grow as she matures as a journalist, first moving from hosting a show on Berkeley’s community access cable station to RT America, where she hosted Braking the Set, and then, after a brief hiatus, moving on to teleSur where she now hosts The Empire Files.

Each step of the way she has matured as a journalist, attaining a sense of gravitas that is the antithesis of what it takes to survive on this country’s corporate media.

In this latest edition of The Empire Files, she conducts what is probably the best interview we’ve seen on the troubles now afflicting the Middle East and North Africa, and lays the blame squarely at the doorstep of those most responsible, the U.S. Department of State and successive presidential administrations, and their use of oil as a weapon to bring down governments.

Her guest is Vijay Prasad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and he dissects the U.S. role in the violence now unfolding in Libya and Syria.

One of his most trenchant statement brilliantly sums up the nexus of crises across the globe: “The rich have gone on strike and are refusing to pay taxes.”

And so, from teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Examining the Syria War Chessboard

Program notes:

The war in Syria is an unparalleled crisis. It has gone far beyond an internal political struggle, and is marked by a complex array of forces that the U.S. Empire hopes to command: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and more. To simplify this web of enemies and friends, Abby Martin interviews Dr. Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College and author of several books.

Chomsky takes aim at Al Jazeera’s owners

Al Jazeera is owned by the ruling family of Qatar, and in an interview by Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera English, Chomsky talks — or tries to talk — about a wide range of issues, most notably the current violence in Syria and elsewhere spawned by the rise of ISIS, or, as Hasan designates it, ISIL.

Chomsky, typically, pulls no punches, and Hasan repeatedly interrupts whenever the MIT linguist treads on turf inimical to Hasan’s employers, but Chomsky manages to get in a shot at Qatar for funding some of the most violent of the forces now fighting in Syria.

Hasan is clearly overmatched and nervous as all get out, while Chomsky maintains his characteristic cool throughout.

From Al Jazeera English:

UpFront – Headliner: Noam Chomsky on ISIL, Turkey and Ukraine

Program notes:

Noam Chomsky has been described as “arguably the most important intellectual alive”. And as one of the world’s most celebrated academics, he has published more than 100 books and is a leading critic on US foreign policy. In the first of a special two-part interview, Chomsky sits down with Mehdi Hasan to discuss the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, Ukraine and Turkey.

A very strange case of thermonuclear insanity

BLOG Button

Note the red object held aloft by a British sailor in this screencap of the top part of this article in the London Telegraph.

It’s “the button,” as in the triggering device that would be used if ever his Trident nuclear submarine got the order to fire off its load of thermonuclear death att targets hundreds or thousands of miles distant.

Now note the opening words of that second paragraph: “The trigger, modelled on a Colt 45 Peacemaker pistol. . .”

Colt Peacemaker?

Colt Peacemaker?

Here’s a Colt Peacemaker:


Yep, it’s the Colt Single Action Army, otherwise known as the Peacemaker, the Equalizer, and, most significantly, as “the gun that won the West.” As in the pistol that gave soldiers and settlers the firepower needed to annihilate or displace the Native Americans who had occupied the Western United States for thousands of years before the arrival of those illegal aliens from Europe.

That some Pentagon designer designed to use a gun intimately connected with genocide as model for “the button” should give anyone cause for thought about the nature of world’s most powerful military machine and the men [yep, command structures are still largely testosterone-dominated] behind it. And we say Pentagon designers, it’s because Tridents are American made and provided to Britain as an allied nation.

Headline of the day III: An American legacy

From the Los Angeles Times:

Long after most U.S. troops have left Iraq, civilians are dying in ‘obscene’ numbers

It’s a place where the daily grind — the office commute, a quick trip to the neighborhood market — could end in death, abduction or torture.