*edit, November 18, 2011 – I intended to provide a link to one of Democracy Now’s reports about Obama’s support for the Indonesian terrorist organization Kopassus when I was putting together this long post, but I forgot to. Adding in that link, which will be found below where I link to a DN video (so that you’ll have a link to Amy’s article beside a link to a DN video), will be the only change I’m making here, besides perhaps captioning the above photo, which, when you click on it, will take you to the National Post article from which the photo was taken.
An excerpt from the above Democracy Now segment follows. There is a link to the DN segment above and the YouTube video of it at the bottom of this post:
PRATAP CHATTERJEE: Amy, a group here in London called Reprieve, which is a legal charity, and a group in Islamabad by the name of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights worked with Waziristan elders to create a Waziristan Grand Jirga, in which they brought together elders and families of those that had been killed in the drone strikes over the last five years in northern Pakistan. So they met at the Margala Hotel, and this jirga was held on Friday the 28th.
And there were probably 35 people, who were families, relatives of people who were killed, including, among them was Tariq Aziz, whom I met briefly, who was 16. And he had lost his cousin 18 months ago. His cousin’s name is Aswar Ullah, who was killed when he was riding a motorbike near their home village of Norak.
So, at that meeting, the elders, as is typical in a jirga, met to discuss what had happened. They adopted a resolution condemning the strikes and then went to a rally organized by Imran Khan. And Tariq Aziz traveled with all of us to the rally. There were lawyers. There were reporters. It was an open meeting, an open rally in front of the parliament in Islamabad.
After that, Tariq Aziz and the other attendees returned to their homes. And 72 hours later, when Tariq was traveling with his 12-year-old cousin to go pick up his aunt on Monday morning, he was killed in a drone strike.
AMY GOODMAN: He had expressed concern, at the news conference, of going home?
PRATAP CHATTERJEE: Well, Amy, he was not at the news conference, but at the jirga. I think every one of the people there were very aware of the situation that they were in, because in every village around Mir Ali, Miranshah, there are drones, often 24 hours a day. So people were aware of the threat to them. Yet they volunteered—Tariq, in particular, because he, at his age in that remote community, was familiar with computers, was excited about the idea of being able to document the civilian casualties. There’s a photographer who’s been doing that for three years—Noor Behram is his name—and he’s been doing a lot of documentation. Tariq was one of the young men who had volunteered to help him out and to be able to document, you know, the devastation that had happened in their own family.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Pratap, he is now one of about 175 children that have been killed in these drone strikes in recent years in Pakistan? And what about the rest of civilian casualties?
PRATAP CHATTERJEE: Exactly, Juan. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, where I work, has created a database of everybody that has been killed since these drone strikes began a number of years ago under Bush. Eighty-five percent of them have taken place under Barack Obama…
One of the things that John Brennan and many people in the administration are fond of saying is, “These are all militants.” Well, I question how a 12-year-old could be a militant in this war. But more than that, the very fact that I personally was able to meet them in an open, public meeting in Islamabad, I question as to whether the CIA is really attempting to identify people before they kill them, because if this person was a militant, they could well have met them in Islamabad, as did hundreds of other people. And at the press conference, there were—I counted 23 cameras. At the jirga, there were a dozen cameras. There are thousands of people in the streets of Islamabad. It would have been so easy for the CIA, the ISI, to come question these kids, to have taken them aside, even put them in jail or interrogated them, send them to Guantánamo. But instead they chose to kill them.
State terror. It’s been with us since nation states came into existence. Today the world’s foremost fomenters of and practicers of, terrorism, are the United States and Israel, one reason the American-led corporatocracy’s ruling classes and their allies are so dependent on corporate owned media to keep a lid on news that demonstrates that fact. (Although macho corporatists can’t help themselves and will not want to hide, completely, the fact that it has power and can do what it wants, when it wants, where it wants and no matter how terrible those things are that it chooses to do. Glory that isn’t seen isn’t glory. Have a look at Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! video titled “20th Anniversary of Santa Cruz Massacre: The Story of East Timor.” Have a look also at this report by Amy about Obama’s visit to the home of his early childhood. Obama travelled to Indonesia not to remember that time, but to sell weapons to those torturing his old neighbors, as Allan Nairn mentions. The report is not lengthy and there are other links to other reportage about that on Democracy Now if the reader wants to know more. Read “Obama In The company Of Killers,” by Amy Goodman.)
It’s important to remember that in the fascist, or corporatist, system we have, there really is no class/ideological division between ruling classes (crossing national boundaries) and the corporations they work with (also crossing national boundaries). Corporate-owned media doesn’t have to be cajoled into supporting the bloody imperialism conducted by corporatocracy states. And it’s important to remember that imperialism no longer means exactly what it once did. With the octopus of corporatocracy (whose head is the United States), in which nations states are merely arms of that octopus (rather than independent, which a state is when it’s ruling class identifies with and defends the interests of it’s own citizens rather than foreigners and international capitalism), the aggression that one army (or more) takes to another country or countries, not in self-defence but for gain for a minority of capitalists (and, ironically and perversely, for the gain of the traitorous leadership of the targetted country), isn’t directed against the corrupt political and other leaders of the targetted countries, but against the people who elites have simply chosen to make an enemy of. And note that that holds true even when traitors on either side of the military operation become ‘collateral’ damage. Hell, Traitors take each other out on a regular basis precisely because they’re so good at betrayal and have chosen to believe that Darwin has given them licence to regard lives other than their own, and other than those they care about or see as being useful, as being cheap and disposable.
I believe it was John Perkins who coined the term ‘corporatocracy’. He was an economic hit man, as he recounts in his best selling book, “Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man.” He was instrumental in bringing Saudi Arabia into the body of the corporatocracy (which served to consolidate American power within the corporatocracy), which entity hasn’t always existed. Which isn’t to say that before it existed the world was not godless. Interestingly, John quotes a U.S. News & World Report article by David E. Kaplan titled “The Saudi Connection,” in which it is disclosed how that staunch ally of the United States is a preeminent supporter and funder of widespread terrorism. But don’t worry about that.
“In the process of building this [American-led corporatocracy], we in the United States have managed to discard our most fundamental beliefs, those that in the past defined the very essence of what it is to be an American. We have denied ourselves and those we colonize the rights so eloquently expressed by our Declaration of Independence. We have forfeited the principles of universal equality, justice, and prosperity.
“History teaches that empires do not endure; they collapse or are overthrown. Wars ensue and another empire fills the vacuum. The past sends a compelling message. We must change. We cannot afford to allow history to repeat itself.
“The power base of the corporatocracy is its corporations. They define our world. When we look at a globe we see the outlines of slightly less than two hundred countries. Many of the boundaries were established by colonial powers and most of these countries have minimal impact on their neighbors. From a geopolitical viewpoint this model is archaic; the reality of our modern world might better be represented by huge clouds that encircle the planet, each symbolizing a multinational corporation. These powerful entities impact every single country. Their tentacles reach into the deepest rainforests and to the most remote deserts.
“The corporatocracy makes a show of promoting democracy and transparency among the nations of the world, yet it’s corporations are imperialistic dictatorships where a very few make all the decisions and reap most of the profits,” and avoid contributing to society through taxation by taking advantage of tax loopholes that ‘their’ governments have provided and by using tax havens that ‘their’ governments refuse to seriously deal with. “In our electoral process – the very heart of our democracy – most of us get to vote only for candidates whose campaign chests are full; therefore, we must select from among those who are beholden to the corporations and the men who own them. Contrary to our ideals, this empire is built on foundations of greed, secrecy, and excessive materialism.” -pg 7 of “The Secret History Of The American Empire,” by John Perkins
“…this empire is built on foundations of greed, secrecy, and excessive materialism.” And terror. Indeed, Those corporations that rule and fail to contribute to society outside of areas of interest to them (which turns out to be, often, deliberate and for a purpose, namely for the purpose of pursuing the neoliberal agenda of privatization and deregulation), by using tax havens and loopholes provided by redesigned states, are enabling the funding of terrorists and assorted criminals who also use tax havens. Also, The state terror that Amy Goodman talks about in her recent remembrance of the U.S.-backed Indonesian massacre of East Timorese, below, is also looked at in Perkin’s chapter, in “The Secret History Of The American Empire,” titled “United States-Supported Slaughter.”
“The high-minded rhetoric at and about the Vienna Conference [commemorating, in 1993, the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948] was not besmirched by inquiry into the observance of the UD by its leading defenders. These matters were, however, raised in Vienna in a Public Hearing organized by NGOs. The contributions by activists, scholars, lawyers, and others from many countries reviewed “alarming evidence of human rights violations in every part of the world as a result of the policies of international financial institutions,” the “Washington Consensus” among the leaders of the free world. This “neoliberal” consensus disguises what might be called “really existing free market doctrine”: market discipline is of great benefit to the weak and defenseless, though the rich and powerful must shelter under the wings of the nanny state.” -pg 130 of “Rogue States – The Rule Of Force In World Affairs,” by Noam Chomsky.
Socialism is okay for a violent, parasitic minority that preaches the evils of socialism to us while forcing unworkable free market ideology down our throats. It should not have taken this long, but the majority, which is having the life sucked out of it by that parasitic minority, is beginning to notice the hypocrisy. Mafia, vampire, predatory capitalism is having a hard time selling itself to the peope these days.
Elites’ attack on the people was never necessary. There is no natural law at work here. (Let’s do a thought exercise here: Let’s give capitalists the benefit of the doubt and agree that they are struggling too. Now, If you are under pressure to rob a bank in order to pay your bills, Is there a natural law at work that says one will, eventually, pay one’s bills by robbing a bank? What was it that Amy Goodman said to Charlie Rose about what another protester said? It was something along the lines of “We’ll accept that corporations are people when the state executes one.” Ouch!) But there is judgment taking place. As the Christian Bible notes, God (for now) lets an operation of error go to wicked people – which is to say that God lets free men choose a dark path, even if it involves negative consequences to others – so that once it’s been carried out, or realized, then those making such a choice can be judged, in full righteousness, by an actual, existing God who does not intend to allow imperfect humans who act like they are God to have their way forever. (2Thessalonians chapter 2, verses 11 & 12)
The mainstream media, mostly, dutifully presents it’s reports in such a way that the majority does not see how monstrous it’s governments are. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get information from it, as Noam Chomsky notes. A lot depends on the reader. One reader will exercise skepticism about what he or she reads and investigate further, availing himself of the alternative media sources that exist. Another reader may not. One reader will have acquired filters, or enough information about the way the world works so that he will be more capable of discerning what is spin and what isn’t. He will be more capable of reading between the lines or correctly guessing that he’s not getting the whole story. And that is why caring is vital. Caring means knowing. When you care, and worry about dangers out in the world that may impact you and yours, and, I daresay, the environment (because you’re also sane), you therefore put your head up and look around and notice what’s there. Noticing becomes knowing. It has nothing to do with becoming an expert or special.
“When there is little or no elite dissent from a government policy, there may still be some slippage in the mass media, and facts that tend to undermine the government line, if they are properly understood, can be found, usually on the back pages of the newspapers. This is one of the strengths of the U.S. system. It is possible that the volume of inconvenient facts can expand…
“…That a careful reader looking for a fact can sometimes find it with diligence and a skeptical eye tells us nothing about whether that fact received the attention and context it deserved, whether it was intelligible to the reader or effectively distorted or suppressed. What level of attention it deserved may be debatable, but there is no merit to the pretense that because certain facts may be found in the media by a diligent and skeptical researcher, the absense of radical bias and de facto suppression is thereby demonstrated.” -pages xiv & xv of “Manufacturing Consent – The Political Economy Of The Mass Media,” by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman
In other words, We sometimes discover, by accident, when poring through the major media offerings, the radical bias that is always there, but mostly kept out of view (especially when that view is not critical). The authors are also reminding us that whatever confessions we discover in their own presentations, via their media, that doesn’t prevent elites from taking measures (before and after such information becomes available) to suppress information it deems to be in the category of things that it wouldn’t do to talk about. That the duck hunter doesn’t take down every duck he fires at does not mean that ducks in his vicinity are safe.
That skill, whereby a victim of corporatocracy can effectively fight back, doesn’t jump into you the day you get downsized or in some other way get bitten by the monstrous corporatist system. So much of the OWS protest right now is squawking by bitten people rather than fightback, which (fightback) involves informed protest that can properly engage onlookers and which allows critics little opportunity to imply, as Charlie Rose does here, that protesters have nothing to complain about. They just like complaining, the Charlie Roses want to tell those who will listen. Charlie Rose misses the fact that his class seeks glory by taking the means of survival from others (who happen to be in the majority). Well, They may not all be Noam Chomsky, but they will notice that they lack the means of survival, Won’t they? And that’s the idea of glory. Glory that isn’t seen isn’t glory. When you take the means of survival from people, your victims will notice. Are they noticing nothing? Is going hungry nothing? Etc. Therefore, The implication that the protesters don’t have anything to complain about because they can’t articulate their complaints or can’t present polished critiques of corporatocracy, doesn’t make sense. You don’t have to be Noam Chomsky in order to be a victim of macho, perverted, greedy capitalists who are happy to get their glory by taking from you your means of survival.
“Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, for everything in the world… the showy display of one’s means of life – does not originate with the Father but originates with the world.” (1John 2:15,16)
Add to that problem the ‘problem’ of human nature. State terror, like economic terror, lasts a long time. It has been with us since nation states came into being. The thing is, It’s normal for people to want to just live their lives, even when they see injustices ‘elsewhere’, and so, although serious insutices are happening in the world and we can all see them, we tend to ignore them until it hits us or comes very close to us. (True, There are always those normal people among us – a minority within the majority – who are extra brave and noble and who choose to do something about those injustices far away, and near. But we are not all like that, which doesn’t make us evil. And it doesn’t mean we don’t care.) By that time, though, the system in which the terror takes place is very entrenched and not easily dismantled. Not only is it entrenched externally, but it’s victims internalize it.
Regular citizens, who include smart and stupid people, professionals and non professionals, members of all political parties in fact, but with greater representation among the ‘seemingly’ more leftwing parties, mostly fail to grasp what is happening even when they are directly experiencing the sharp edge of fascism. That too is natural. It’s difficult for normal people to believe that there are evil people out there, who don’t even know them in many cases, who are bent on hurting them for gain. People just want to live and not deal with injustices ‘elsewhere’ and that response is partly a result of imperfect, but normal, human nature and partly by design.
The people are made dumb by the corporatist, technocratic system, but the people bear some responsibility for allowing themselves to be made dumb – to the extent that they are. Even with all the distractions (including propaganda and it’s consumerism component, which demands that people show their devotion to the true religion of capitalism by spending, even if that means working too much), the people should care enough to know what’s going on. (That doesn’t require us to be experts and in possession of every detail of every important matter affecting us.) Even 20 minutes a week of thinking about important matters – not by sitting passively in front of corporate owned television and being talked at, but by digging into the issues and events of the day – would make the people resistant to the fascist propaganda that beats down on them and does them no good when it is effective.
The OWS movement isn’t wrong, as much as major media reps want audiences (who include people like themselves; That’s right: You’re watching them talk to themselves to some extent!) to think that the stupid people not only can’t say why they’re protesting and don’t know why they are protesting but they don’t have any reason to protest. It’s not possible for the OWS protesters to be wrong, because their protests directly stem from real, physical effects of Wall Street and elites generally. Elites and their admirers have chosen to proceed, as I’ve noted, in such a fashion that there must be slaves and exploited people, and entrenched inequality therefore, and economic growth that is both unsustainable and which leaves out the majority when it comes to benefits of that growth. We have a money system in which money means life. You can’t have the means of survival without money. You can’t have fun without money. And now, with Citizens United, an example of the machismo of irrational capitalists who push until things break, you can’t have a political voice without money. Elites call it democracy. Well, They can call anything anything. It’s a free universe. But clearly, the majority who are treated like the enemy by an uncaring, parasitic minority, will not, once they get even a glimmer of an idea about what’s going on, support that elite democracy. And try as elites may to besmirch the concept of democracy itself, by claiming that they are democrats and then acting like monsters, they can’t make it more or less than the simple thing it is any more than Stalin could make socialism, which capitalists in fact practice (while denying it to their victims), into something worse than the simple thing it is. Democracy is not a bad thing. It’s not the final solution, but it will be found, in some form, within the final solution.
The protesters are right. They just happen to be regular people and regular people are everything, including educated and informed and stupid and uninformed and everything in between. But they are also dragging around the heavy ball of propaganda and false facts. The illusions, and assorted weaknesses, persist. I find that people, often friends, who I talk to, who don’t read or dig into the news (which doesn’t always stop them from thinking that they are experts), get some things right and some things seriously wrong. Recently I had a chat with a couple of guys in a coffee shop who supported the protesters and were not fans of the government, but they believed quite of bit of nonsense as well. One man was someone I knew, although not well. He’s a local and a regular at the coffee shop we were in. We got talking, as we do, about everything, including the occuppiers in St James’s park in downtown Toronto. We were eventually joined by another regular who I didn’t know.
We need to talk to each other precisely because we don’t know everything we need to know. Although I would say we do know what we need to know in order to act. I often say ‘Learn not in order to know, but in order to know how to proceed.’ Becoming experts isn’t the goal. Becoming citizens who care about each other and their environment and who know how to protect those is. We can educate each other. That’s not the same as pretending we know everything. We will know nothing if we don’t communicate, let alone avoid reading books, and instead passively receive, in isolation in front of the boob tube, information that corporate owned media pushes at us. The one gentleman, who I was talking to first – even while he was making the point that we all have to listen more and say less – who was shouting over me more and more now that we had been joined by another fellow who liked doing that, tossed out that Canada is overtaxed and seemed to think that we were more taxed than all other countries. Even the other gentleman who joined us in this conversation knew that that was wrong and I got a rare nod of acknowledgment from him when I pointed out that elites would be happy if all we talked about was the supposed fact that we are being taxed to death. When that man left to do other things, lo and behold, the first gentleman who I was talking to was forced to treat me like I was also part of the discussion now that he had no one to holler with over me. And we are friends!
The people, everywhere, are squawking because the people everywhere are feeling the effects of the global financial meltdown, and austerity and disaster capitalism generally, unleashed by macho, destructive capitalists. But some have been there and done that. South Americans have been on the receiving end of America’s democracy promotion nonsense forever. As Naomi Klein points out, first the people are shocked, naturally or by design. Then, in that state, Chicago school agents rush in and force neoliberal programs and policies on the people that they are too groggy to resist. So much for capitalism and democracy going hand in hand! But then, lo and behold!, the shock wears off and people start the long, hard process of fighting back. In South America, where that has happened many times and where it still happens, because the corporatocracy won’t stop being the corporatocracy until it’s dead and buried, that cycle has become shorter than elsewhere. The Arab spring, which is already being rolled back, was impressive and inspiring – leading, arguably, to the global spring we are now seeing in the form of the Occupy Wall Street movement and it’s offshoots – should not have taken so long. People don’t want to rise up and overthrow their governments, contrary to what fascists or thoughtless commentators in the mainstream media might suggest. But it’s forced on them, as it has been in the past.
Hence the need for reminders, such as that offered by the author of the story about who the Nazis came for. Martin Niemöller famously stated (undoubtedly more than once and undoubtedly not always in the exact same phrase, as Wikipedia notes): “First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
It’s normal for normal people to just want to live. And it’s normal for normal people to care. When normal people are surrounded by insanity, as we all are in this world, there will always be a tension between the need to respond to observed injustices out of a sense of moral outrage, out of feelings of sympathy for and empathy with victims and the desire to just live our lives and find a bit of fun and happiness for ourselves and ours. There are no perfect human beings on the planet. We have all inherited imperfection from our first human parents. Therefore, Undoubtedly, overall, We care less than we should. We respond to injustices more slowly than is good for society and the planet that we depend on for survival as a species.
We are not evolving. We are degenerating. But we can still choose to care. It’s just not easy nor is it getting easier, which is why the forces of darkness, including an invisible, powerful demonic contingent that stirs things up meets too little resistance from normal people. The Egyptian spring came about not at the first hint of oppression and state terror, but only once the people had been squeezed mightily for a long time. But it did come. South Americans have been there, as I noted. Springs have come and gone there. The darkness has by no means departed for good (yet), but south Americans have a long history of enduring American-supported tyrants, then rising up against them, then getting crushed for doing so and then going through it all again. You don’t have to squeeze South Americans for decades before they take to the streets, they way they’ve done in Argentina, shouting “Out with them all!” See Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis’s great documentary titled “The Take” about Argentinian workers taking over their abandoned factories and making them work, only to see the owners returning to take them back once the workers did the work of saving them.
State terror is not an empty phrase. The person who reads or hears that phrase may have an empty head, but that doesn’t mean that state terror isn’t serious or real. And if you live somewhere where your political leaders are part of the system that embraces state terror, then you should care.
If your thought is, “I don’t give a crap about politics and there’s no reason for me to ever worry about the state coming after me,” you should know that, while you may find believing in God to be inconvenient, as long as you’re so determined to not care about important things, that doesn’t that he doesn’t exist. And if he does exist, your defiant choice to side with a world that will be destroyed by him will be definitely noted. Put God out of your mind, if you wish. But I’m telling you, He’s not going away. Nor is your big problem.
If you invest your soul – not just something that is external to you, that you own and can part with – in this temporary, godless corporatocracy, then when it goes, you’ll go with it.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… No one can slave for two masters… You cannot slave for God and for Riches.” (Matthew 6:19-24)
Indeed, Where your heart is means where you make your stand. It’s a free universe. Even if, like Adam, you know you’re on the wrong side, but you stand there anyway, You will reap what you sow. As the apostle Paul told his audience, Just believing or knowing doesn’t matter. “You believe there is one God, Do you? You are doing well. And yet the demons believe and shudder.” (James 2:19,20) The demons, who have no hope of surviving God’s judgement know that there is a God.
It’s okay to take the money and run from the monstrous economic system we have. It’s not okay to take the money and run when that money isn’t just yours, but it’s others’ as well. And it’s not okay to take the money and run from a monster who you’ve created, worshipped and fed. Not at all.