Category Archives: Warfare

On the mad utopian dreams of neoliberals

A recent episode of Christ Hedges’s news series for Telesur English features an interview with Canadian intellectual provocateur John Ralston Saul on the twisted origins and pernicious intellectual distortions of neoliberal ideology.

An erudite scholar and ferocious analyst, Saul has relentlessly pilloried the intellectual perversions underlying much of modern economic thought in a series of books [most famously Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West] and essays, with his most recent targets being the twisted rationales employed by apologists for an economic order that has given rise to modern plutocracy.

In conversation with Hedges, Saul worries that modern neoliberalism has proven to resemble Beniuto Mussolini’s fascism.

From The Real News Network:

Days of Revolt: Neoliberalism as Utopianism

From the transcript:

SAUL: Right? And what they did, most universities, was they did an intellectual cleansing of the economic historians to remove the possibility of doubt, the possibility of speculation on ideas, leaving these sort of hapless — mainly hapless macroeconomists, who fell quite easily into the hands, frankly, of the ideologues, the neoliberals, neoconservatives, who were — you know, let’s face it. What is this ideology? It’s an ideology of inevitability, an ideology based on self-interest, an ideology in which there is no real memory. And at the end of the day, it really is — it’s about power and money.

HEDGES: It’s about, you write, making every aspect of society conform to the dictates of the marketplace, which, as you point out, there’s nothing — and I think you say something like 2,000 or 5,000 years of human history to justify the absurdity that you should run a society based on —

SAUL: On the marketplace.

HEDGES: — the marketplace.

SAUL: Let me just take a tiny step back as a historical marker, which is the day that I realized that the neos were claiming that Edmund Burke was their godfather or whatever, I realized that we were into both lunacy and the denial of history, ‘cause, of course, in spite of his rather crazy things about Mary Antoinette and the French Revolution, most of his career was about inclusion, standing against slavery, standing for the American Revolution, and of course leading a fight for anti-racism and anti-imperialism in India — amazing democratic [incompr.] a liberal in the terms of the early 19th century. So when you see that these guys were trying to claim him, it’s like lunatics today claiming Christ or Muhammad to do absolutely unacceptable things.

And I think that the fascinating thing is once you get rid of history, once you get rid of memory, which they’ve done with economics, you suddenly start presenting economics as something that it isn’t, and you start saying, well, the market will lead. And these entirely theoretically sophisticated experts are quoting the invisible hand, which is, of course, an entirely low-level religious image–it’s the invisible hand of God, right, running the universe. As soon as you hear that term and they say, oh, that’s what Adam Smith said — but when you talk to them, they haven’t read Adam Smith. Adam Smith isn’t taught in the departments of economics. You get quotes from Adam Smith even when you’re doing an MA or whatever. They don’t know Adam Smith. They don’t know that he actually was a great voice for fairness, incredibly distrustful of businessmen and powerful businessmen, and said never allow them to be alone in a room together or they’ll combine and falsify the market and so on, so that what we’ve seen in the last half-century is this remarkable thing of big sophisticated societies allowing the marketplace to be pushed from, say, third or fourth spot of importance to number one and saying that the whole of society must be in a sense structured and judged and put together through the eyes of the marketplace and the rules of the marketplace. Nobody’s ever done this before.

HEDGES: How did it happen?

SAUL: Well, I mean, I think it happened gradually, partly by this emptying out of the public space, by this gradual —

HEDGES: What do you mean by that?

SAUL: Well, by the advancing of the idea of the technocracy and the gradual reduction of the space of serious political debate and ideas, and with that the rise of kinds of politicians who would be reliant on the technocracy and really were not themselves voices of ideas that would lead somewhere, you know, the humanist tradition, democratic tradition, egalitarian tradition. And we can see this all sort of petering out. And you can like them or dislike them, but you can see when the real idea of debate of ideas and risk on policy starts to peter out with Johnson and suddenly you’re into either populists or technocrats.

Headline of the day: Suspicions confirmed, again

From the Guardian:

Obama’s drone war a ‘recruitment tool’ for Isis, say US air force whistleblowers

Four former service members – including three sensor operators – issue plea to rethink current airstrike strategy that has ‘fueled feelings of hatred’ toward US

Israel threatens Palestinians with death by gas

An armored sound truck moves slowly down a village street, it’s speakers blaring a message: Stop resisting or we will gas you all to death. “The children, the youth, the old people, we won’t leave any of you alive.”

So where did it happen? And who was broadcasting the lethal warning?

If you guess that, perhaps, the message came from SS troops in a Russian shtetl in the summer of 1942 you would be wrong .

The warning came from the Israeli army on 29 October 2015, and the targets of the message were Palestinians in the Aida Refugee Camp, where youths had been throwing rocks at Israeli troops.

The stunning images are featured in the final seconds of the latest edition of Empire Files, Abby Martin’s show for Telesur English, featuring an interview with Max Blumenthal on the reason for rising Palestinian resistance in Israel and the lands under its occupation.

What is most chilling are the members of the rising Israeli neofascist Right, including a Minister of Justice who has openly called for genocide of Palestinians.

From Empire Files:

Max Blumenthal: Palestine’s Rebellion, Israel’s Fascism

Program notes:

Abby Martin interviews journalist and author Max Blumenthal on the current situation in Palestine and the Israeli occupation. This episode covers what is behind today’s rebellion, the rising dominance of far-right, ultra-racist ideology in Israel, eye-witness accounts of the aftermath of the Gaza war, and the Israeli government’s fear of Palestinian resistance.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and author of the New York Times Best Seller “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”, and the recently-published “The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.”

Headline of the day: A bloody silver lining

From The Intercept:

Stock Prices of Weapons Manufacturers Soaring Since Paris Attack

The private-sector industrial prong of the Military and Surveillance State always wins, but especially when the media’s war juices start flowing

The War on Terror’s small casualties at home

A new study has revealed a new class if victims of the war on terror, and they’re right here at home, sleeping in cribs.

The story, via Newswise:

Children under age two may be at heightened risk for abuse and neglect during the six months immediately following a parent’s return from deployment in the U.S. Army, and the risk may rise among Army families with soldiers who are deployed more than once.

Researchers from the PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) performed one of the largest longitudinal retrospective studies analyzing child abuse and neglect among Army families. Supported by the Defense Health Program, the study appeared today in the American Journal of Public Health.

“Prior research had revealed an increased risk to children while parents were deployed, mostly due to supervisory neglect while parents were overseas,” said the study’s senior author, David M. Rubin, M.D., MSCE, the co-director of PolicyLab. “This study is the first to reveal an increased risk when soldiers with young children return home from deployment. This demonstrates that elevated stress when a soldier returns home can have real and potentially devastating consequences for some military families.”

“While incidents of child abuse and neglect among military families are well below that of the general population, this study is another indicator of the stress deployments place on soldiers, family members and caregivers,” said Karl F. Schneider, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “Since the end of the data collection period in 2007, the Army has enacted myriad programs to meet these kinds of challenges head on, and we will continue working to ensure services and support are available to soldiers, families, and their children.”

The study drew on two different measures of child abuse from Army databases: substantiated child maltreatment reports and medical diagnoses of child maltreatment. The substantiated reports, collected by the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) of the Department of Defense, captured four types of child maltreatment: physical, sexual, and emotional, and neglect. The medical diagnoses were identified from TRICARE, the healthcare program for U.S. service members and their families.

The study included children under age two in Army families of over 112,000 soldiers deployed once or twice during the years 2001 to 2007. The first two years of a child’s life are known to be a period of high stress for families.

The researchers compared patterns of abuse and neglect in Army families of soldiers deployed only once versus those deployed twice. The study focused on the first two years of a child’s life because of the elevated risk for life-threatening child abuse among infants that exceeds risk in all other age groups.

Although the proportion of families whose children were identified with abuse or neglect was low, the researchers found there was an elevated risk of abuse and neglect specifically during the six months immediately following a soldier’s one-time deployment. When soldiers were deployed twice, the highest rate of abuse and neglect occurred during the second deployment, and was usually perpetrated by a non-soldier caregiver. The rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect doubled during the second deployment compared to the first deployment period.

“The finding that in most cases the perpetrators were not the soldiers themselves reveals to us that the stress that plays out in Army families during or after deployment impacts the entire family, and is not simply a consequence of the soldier’s experience and stress following deployment,” said Christine Taylor, the study’s lead author, a project manager at CHOP’s PolicyLab.

The Family Advocacy Program offers a breadth of valuable services to families, such as parenting classes, child care services, and classes focused on a soldier’s reintegration into home life. Ultimately, these findings may inform efforts by the military and civilian systems to standardize care and support military families during all periods of elevated risk.

Here are some more precise numbers from PolicyLab’s website:

METHODS: We conducted a person-time analysis of substantiated maltreatment reports and medical diagnoses among children of 112,325 deployed US Army soldiers between 2001 and 2007.

RESULTS: Risk of maltreatment was elevated after deployment for children of soldiers deployed once but not for children of soldiers deployed twice. During the 6 months after deployment, children of soldiers deployed once had 4.43 substantiated maltreatment reports and 4.96 medical diagnoses per 10,000 child-months. The highest maltreatment rate among children of soldiers deployed twice occurred during the second deployment for substantiated maltreatment (4.83 episodes per 10,000 child-months) and before the first deployment for medical diagnoses of maltreatment (3.78 episodes per 10,000 child-months).

Allen Dulles, America’s murderous spymaster

David Talbot is a veteran San Francisco journalist who founded Salon, served as a senior editor at Mother Jones and feature editor for the San Francisco Examiner. He’s written to the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Time, and The Guardian, among others, and written four major books.

His latest book, The Devil’s Chessboard, focuses on one of the darkest figures of 20th Century American history, former Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles,

Aaron Wiener of Mother Jones offers a concise synopsis:

Talbot offers a portrait of a black-and-white Cold War-era world full of spy games and nuclear brinkmanship, in which everyone is either a good guy or a bad guy. Dulles—who deceived American elected leaders and overthrew foreign ones, who backed ex-Nazis and thwarted left-leaning democrats—falls firmly in the latter camp.

Dulles killed with impunity, sending his officers and agents out to plot, overthrow, and murder politicians and activists in other lands who failed to hew the Washington line.

And it’s an open question as to whether or not he did the same thing much closer to home.

Perhaps the most controversial claim Talbot makes is one long familiar to esnl, namely that Allen Dulles, fired from his post by President John Kennedy after the failure of the Bay of Pigs, the CIA-planned invasion of Cuba in 1961, played a direct role in Kennedy’s assassination two years later.

Before you dismiss the contention out of hand, esnl heard similar allegations from two sources in the intelligence community more than thirty years ago, and absent convincing evidence to the contrary, Talbot’s contention is certainly well within the realm of possibility.

With that, here’s an extended interview with Talbot by RT America’s Alexey Yaroshevsky:

‘Allen Dulles did whatever he wanted to do,’ whether presidents knew or not – David Talbot

Program notes:

The Devil’s Chessboard, author David Talbot’s new book, presents new insights into the activities of CIA head Allen Dulles during the 1950s. New findings include US Intelligence’s cooperation with Nazis during WWII, CIA targeting of governments such as the Congo, Guatemala, Iran and even allied governments like France. Talbot discusses his book with RT’s Alexey Yaroshevsky in this extended interview.

Quote of the day: Snowden on torture hypocrisy

Speaking to Swedish journalists Lena Sundström and Foto Lotta Härdelin for the daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter:

It’s really just crazy, the way that the US Government has handled the issue of torture. Because it’s so clear that is what they’ve done. We’ve even had an investigation in the intelligence committee, which almost never does anything meaningful. They usually act more like cheerleaders for the intelligence community, than watch-dogs. When they get a report that’s so clear and when there were indications that there were people in the CIA, who wanted to talk about these things, but who felt stressed. Some even asked to be moved, because they couldn’t cope with the things they were witnessing and they wanted to do something about it. But instead of providing some path for these individuals to report the wrongdoings that they were witnessing, the CIA actually asked them to stop documenting the abuse.

And the only person, who, to this point, has been convicted of this kind of wrongdoings, is the CIA officer who reported the waterboarding.