The Best Can Spiritually Fail. So Be Prepared

Consortium Rabble

*edit, August 31, 2016 – I added in a few links and touched up a sentence or two and added a comment about my quotation from Kent Roach and Craig Forcese. Most of the additions (links) have asterisks beside them. I think there’s two instances.

Needed: Leaders Like JFK and Khrushchev | Consortiumnews.

*March 2, 2015 – The ‘censor’ at Consortium News, it appears, just took the weekend off. Good. I hope he, she, etc, they always get their weekends off. I’ll try to remember that the next time I suspect that one of my weekend rants attacking a writer’s position there seems to be getting disappeared. Also, I see I screwed up with my stylized enclosing lines. I can undo the damage here, but there’s no editing of anything I post to Consortium News. I also see that a response to Ole Hendrickson’s article (which I attached to his article on Rabble) that I promised is missing. I have corrected that. That’s what happens when you are about to leave your room (which is what I live in) to go for coffee and instead start fooling around on your computer. Three or four hours later I did go for coffee.

Why was my comment on Consortium News disappeared? (It wasn’t censored on Rabble.) Who knows? But I had in mind the kind of instructions you see on sites like these when I decided to critize Mr Polk’s portrayal of JFK as being part of the solution. Participants are reminded to keep it civil, to try to contribute to the discussion, etc.. There aren’t many leftwing places where you are told “Say what you want. We believe in free speech and democracy.” That’s how it is. Generally, That’s not a problem. I ‘am’ civilized. But I can’t say that I care for the overly restrictive, controlling hand. Usually, Where I see those notices, I also see a fair bit of ranting and rudeness that crosses the line set by the site management; So, in fairness, the intent is evidently to try to take reasonable steps, short of actually censoring comments, to make things civilized.

And I am always conscious of the existence of gatekeepers. You never know about rat-like gatekeepers scurrying around in any organization. They can cause trouble that, I’m sure, goes undetected.

You, dear reader, can judge for yourself whether my response to an article on the Consortium News website was out of bounds. First, I’ll give you an excerpt from William R. Polk’s article. Then I’ll give you my response to it.

Willaim R. Polk:

It will take acts of statesmanship to avoid giving sway to the fun of Russia-bashing. I look around and find few statesmen. My dear friend Senator George McGovern was one of the last, and he was roundly defeated and is now dead. So, I suspect and fear we are unlikely to think and plan better ways…

It will take acts of statesmanship to avoid giving sway to the fun of Russia-bashing. I look around and find few statesmen. My dear friend Senator George McGovern was one of the last, and he was roundly defeated and is now dead. So, I suspect and fear we are unlikely to think and plan better ways;

–If we do not, what will happen? Having been intimately involved in the only serious confrontation with nuclear weapons in hand, I know how hard it is to keep one’s sanity. In the Cuban Missile Crisis, we were all exhausted. I presume the Russians were too. Many on both sides were all for having a go at one another.

Then, at least some of even the hawks knew how easy it was to move from conventional conflict to nuclear war either by design or by mistake. Or from simple exhaustion.

Fortunately, President Kennedy had his hand on the brake. Robert Kennedy, whom I had known in college and did not like, played an essential supporting role. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara took the role of the technician, without any clear position, but ready to supply the means for a nuclear war if that was decided upon. The rest of us (we were not many) played lesser roles.

During that week, I dealt with a number of senior commanders of our armed forces; they showed, in my conversations with them, surprisingly little knowledge or even information on what was likely to be involved if we pushed too hard. In fact, astonishing as it now seems, few even knew what the main strategic issues were. This was certainly true of, for example, the senior American naval commander, the chief of naval operations, Admiral Anderson.

Absent Kennedy and absent Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, both of whom reined in their hawks and kept themselves open to the compromise that literally saved the world. We don’t have such men around today. Or at least I have not identified them…

Seriously? If Polk can believe in JFK for putting the brakes on in regard to the Cuban missile crisis, then why can’t he believe in Obama, who, with Putin’s assistance, pulled back from bombing Syria? What’s the difference? They are both bloodspillers. You can always find something that a killer did that you can point to and label as positive if you want to.

Rethinking Camelot

My online, disappeared, response to the above linked-to article by William R. Polk follows:

In a world that gave us Operation Condor (, ‘safe country’ refugee laws (How many countries, I wonder, have them? –, financial blockades (the practice of which is being debated, thankfully – and JFK’s paradigm shift from focussing on external enemies (pre US-led corporatocracy) to the internal enemy (citizens), the casual reference to ‘statesman’ John F Kennedy, by a progressive, is alarming in the extreme.

I think Chomsky sums it up nicely in “Rethinking Camelot – JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture.” But the paragraphs leading up to it are perhaps needed, as a counter to [the] force of Camelot propaganda that continues:

“It seems more than coincidental that fascination with tales of intrigue about Camelot lost reached their peak in 1992 just as discontent with all institutions reached historic peaks, along with a general sense of powerlessness and gloom about the future, and the traditional one-party, two-faction candidate-producing mechanism was challenged by a billionaire with a dubious past, a “blank slate” on which one’s favorite dreams could be inscribed. The audiences differ, but the JFK-Perot movements share a millenarian cast, reminiscent of the cargo cults of South Sea islanders who await the return of the great ships with their bounty,” writes Chomsky on page 147 of “Rethinking Camelot.”

On pages 145 & 146 he reviews some of the historical record of JFK. Consider:

“Another common belief is that JFK was so incensed over the failure of the CIA at the Bay of Pigs that he vowed to smash it to bits, sowing the seeds for right-wing hatreds. Again, there are problems. As historians of the Agency have pointed out, it was Lyndon Johnson who treated the Agency “with contempt,” while JFK’s distress over the Bay of Pigs “in no way undermined his firm faith in the principle of covert operations, and in the CIA’s mission to carry them out.”…

“Under JFK, the CIA Director became “a principle participant in the administration, on a par with the Secretary of State or of Defense.” The enthusiasm of of the Kennedy brothers for counterinsurgency and covert operations, is of course, notorious.

“The “decline in reputation and standing of the CIA” paralleled the “decline in the abundance and power of the Ivy Leaguers.” LBJ reduced their role in the decision-making process, and Nixon “consciously sought to exclude the CIA from power” because of his contempt for the “Ivy League liberals” who still dominated the Agency, he felt. The Nixon years were “the nadir for the CIA.”…

“…After the crisis ended, Kennedy initiated a new sabotage and terror program, and still sought to “dig Castro out of there” (memorandum of private conversation, March 1963). US-based terrorist operations continued until the assassination, according to reports from the FBI, which monitored them; though “with the assassination, …the heart went out of the offensive,” Michael McClintock observes, and the operations were terminated in April 1964 by LBJ, who regarded them as “a damned Murder, Inc. in the Caribbean.”

“One of the most significant legacies left by the Administration was its 1962 decision to shift the mission of the Latin American military from “hemispheric defense” to “internal security,” while providing the means and training to ensure that the task would be properly performed. As described by Charles Maechling, who led counterinsurgency and internal defense planning from 1061 to 1966, that historic decision led to a change from toleration “of the rapacity and cruelty of the Latin American military” to “direct complicity” in “the methods of Heinrich Himmler’s extermination squads.”…

“These improved modes of repression were a central component of Kennedy’s Latin American policies, a companion to the Alliance for Progress, which required effective population control because of the dire impact of its development programs on much of the population. Related projects helped subvert democracy and bring on brutally repressive regimes in El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, British Guiana, Chile, Brazil, and elsewhere… Six military coups overthrew popular regimes during the Kennedy years, ten more later; in several cases, Kennedy Administration policies contributed materially to the outcome…”

There’s lots more. To be clear, the turn to national security states in Latin America wasn’t only done there, as we see. The new threat to corporatocracy states is the internal threat, namely the people. Here in Canada, everyone’s freaked out at the latest ramping up of the national security state nonsense, with the introduction of Bill C-51 (, about which Craig Forcese and Kent Roach say:

We regard the proposed provision as potentially sweeping. We have serious doubts as to its constitutionality. Meanwhile, we have precisely no doubts that it is capable of chilling constitutionally protected speech.

We do not rehearse all our reasoning in this forum. We provide instead what we regard as a plausible hypothetical:

A newspaper columnist writing on foreign affairs is asked to present at a conference. It is the columnist’s view that “we should provide resources to Ukrainian insurgencies who are targeting Russian oil infrastructure, in an effort to increase the political cost of Russian intervention in Ukraine”. The columnist knows that her audience will include not just academics and Canadian government officials, but also support groups who may be sending money to those opposing Russian intervention.

Wisely, she decides to get legal advice. Her newspaper has no in-house experience with the new terrorism offence, and so (at great expense) it retains outside counsel. In a tightly packed five-page opinion letter, that lawyer reasons that if the columnist makes her statement, she will knowingly encourage a course of action that falls within the definition of a “terrorism offence in general”.

This is because providing resources to a group, one of whose purposes is a “terrorist activity” is a terrorism offence. And causing substantial property damage or serious interference with an essential service or system for a political reason and in a way that endangers life, to compel a government to do something, is a “terrorist activity”. This is so even if it takes place abroad.

The lawyer acknowledges uncertainty. “Terrorist activity” does not reach acts in an armed conflicts [sic], done in accordance with the international laws of war. The lawyer consults with an international law expert, who opines that the expression “in accordance” with international law could exclude acts of violence by armed groups who lack what is known as “combatant’s immunity” – that is, they are not lawful combatants. Few insurgencies meet the requirements of lawful combatants.

Fortified with this advice, the original lawyer advises the columnist that since she knows some of her audience may respond to her opinion by sending money to the insurgency, her acts may constitute the crime of promoting or advocating a terrorism offence. He notes that unlike equivalent “promotion” provisions in the hate crimes laws, there is no public interest defence that might apply to this situation.

The lawyer advises the columnist to change her statement so that it reads: “Ukrainian insurgencies are targeting Russian oil infrastructure, in an effort to increase the political cost of Russian intervention in Ukraine. I take no position on whether this is a good thing”.

An idea is changed, and an opinion hidden.

*I hope that the imagined scenario that Forsece and Roach lay out doesn’t represent their actual beliefs in regard to the US-inspired tragedy in Ukraine. Russia didn’t invade Crimea, or Ukraine. As for intervention, If you call someone who happens upon a cyclist who has just been hit by a car and then proceeds to toss a blanket on her until the ambulance arrives ‘intervention’, as in ‘invasion’, then so be it. I’m with the ‘invader’.

From Sean McCarthy’s Globe and Mail article ( titled “‘Anti-petroleum’ movement a growing security threat to Canada, RCMP say,” the following:

The RCMP has labelled the “anti-petroleum” movement as a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security, raising fears among environmentalists that they face increased surveillance, and possibly worse, under the Harper government’s new terrorism legislation.

From page 41 of “Rethinking Camelot,” the following:

Recall that “subversion,” like “concealed aggression,” is a technical concept covering any form of unwelcome internal political development. Thus the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in 1955, outline “three basic forms of aggression”… “Aggression other than armed, i.e., political warfare, or subversion.” An internal uprising against a US-imposed police state, or elections that come out the wrong way, are forms of violence. The assumptions are so ingrained as to pass without notice, as when liberal hero Adlai Stevenson, UN Ambassador under Kennedy and Johnson, declared that in Vietnam the US is defending a free people from “internal aggression.” Stevenson compared this noble cause to the first major postwar counterinsurgency campaign, in Greece in 1947, where US-run operations successfully demolished the anti-Nazi resistance and the political system and restored the old order, including leading Nazi collaborators, at the cost of some 160,000 lives and tens of thousands of victims of torture chambers, and a legacy of destruction yet to be overcome (along with great benefits to US corporations.)

If you’re okay with JFK, then you’re okay with fascism and it’s work, such as we see in the concerted attack (the Troika) by corporatocracy states, mainly Europe’s hegemon, Germany, on Greece. And you’re okay with the US’s play for Ukraine, which it’s always wanted. Europe is okay with [the efforts of the US in Ukraine], except that it’s not so gung-ho for more war (that might disturb the comfort of important people there) in it’s nabe.

* “JFK and RFK were terrorists”

What made me nuts when I read Polk’s poke was that I had just finished reading another bit of Camelot propaganda on another progressive website. A contributor to Rabble named Ole Hendrickson wrote an article titled “Combatting ISIS: The case for universal service.” An excerpt, and my response, follows:

Governments would do well to consider an additional way to prevent extremism: create opportunities for young people to serve others. This would enable youths who might otherwise join extremist groups to find positive alternatives. More broadly, it would help restore faith in civil society.

In his inaugural speech in 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy said, “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Later that year he launched the Peace Corps, with a mission “to promote world peace and friendship.” He also proposed a national service corps “to help provide urgently needed services in urban and rural poverty areas.” Two years after Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson launched “Volunteers in Service to America” (now called “AmeriCorps”).

*I’ve since learned more than a few more things about white knight JFK. Hendrikson seems to think that we need only concern ourselves with the myth and not the reality. I somehow don’t think he is unaware that the one isn’t the other. To inoculate yourself against Camelotism, I urge you to read the above “Rethinking Camelot” by Noam Chomsky and “The Dark Side Of Camelot” by Seymour M Hersh (who calls “Rethinking Camelotl” brilliant.”

My online response to Ole Hendrickson’s Rabble article follows:

Is there ANY leader, including Stalin, who doesn’t say positive things? Hitler said plenty of positive things about democracy and human rights. My goodness man! Stop perpetuating the myth of JFK the shining white knight and set an example for young people of honesty and integrity. You fail to do that when you prop up bloodspilling liars and hypocrites like JFK. You very well know that a few of us out here, including some young people, read history. You’re not trying to influence us, even if you don’t mind annoying us.

You’re trying to influence the people, all ages, who might happen to read here, who don’t read and only know ‘facts’ that the establishment, through the education system and the major media and popular culture, has pushed at them. And that’s shameful. You’re trying to turn them against those of us who would like to educate them. When we now try to communicate with them, we are rejected because what we say is strange to their ears and not what they ‘know’ thanks to people like yourself.

For those who want to know: There is lots of info about the Kennedys and it’s in the history books. Check out Noam Chomsky’s “Deterring Democracy” and “Rethinking Camelot.” Whenever the Kennedys come up for mention in articles by writers on the Left (outside the mushy, fake Left represented by institutions like the Toronto Star or political parties like the Liberal Party or the Democratic Party), the Kennedys are revealed as being quite nasty. Here’s an example of a recent article (not about the Kennedys specifically), by Alfred W. McCoy, that mentions bad behavior by JFK: “The Real Ameriican Exceptionalism” –

Neither Polk nor Hendrickson offer any qualification for their almost direct praise for a mass murderer and early promoter of the national security, or police, state. Why do progressive orgs keep dishing these fakers out to us?!!! At some point, You have to call it. Progressive orgs are fake if they are fake.

Hendrickson essentially endorsed the now defunct CIDA, stating that the Harper government “eliminated the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), once world-renowned for its aid work in developing nations.” I have read enough history to know that CIDA operates much like the American USAID operates. The reader has to understand that there’s a lot of complexity attached to powerful institutions and their history and bad intentions are easy to bury in complexity when those who you are trying to persuade don’t know anything and are willing – especially when you pop up on websites known for championing human rights etc – to take you at your word that a thing is so. CIDA has no doubt done some good. (I’m not an expert.) USAID has done some good. Both have done lots of bad stuff and they have done it in service to the monstrous, godless corporatocracy. Do we want to know that?

The Ugly Canadian

I had a quick look at Yves Engler’s “The Ugly Canadian – Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy,” which I read not long ago. I remembered that he mentioned CIDA but couldn’t remember exactly what he had said. That probably stuck in my mind because, as I saw after re-examining his comment, he also referred to Todd Gordon’s comments about CIDA in Todd’s book, “Imperialist Canada,” which I had just read. Engler’s contribution (from a quick review) to the reader’s understanding of CIDA’s role had to do with Canada’s shameful role in helping to destroy Haiti. “Despite the crying need for housing and sanitation, after the earthquake the Conservatives ramped up spending on prisons and police. According to a report by Roger Annis, CIDA paid for 18 prisons to be built or refurbished and announced a total of $44 million in new security spending in the year after the quake. This $44 million was on top of $51 million put up for justice and security reform through Canada’s Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force, which began in 2006,” writes Engler (pgs 228, 229).

Imperialist Canada

Turning to Todd Gordon’s in depth look at Canadian imperialism in his book, “Imperialist Canada,” we find a substantial contribution to the subject of CIDA. Just from the index alone, that can be seen. Here’s a sample: +++ CIDA… in Afghanistan; destabilization under cover of “democracy promotion”; facilitating mining in Third World; financing for Chamera Dams; funding Ñanpaz Foundation; funding National Coaltion for Haitian Rights-Haiti; funds free-market ethic in school systems; helped Latortue regime prepare Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper; Investment in Peru under Mineral Resources Reform Project; liberalization of Colombia’s telecommunication sector; neoliberal orientation toward the world’s poor; no human rights measures for its aid program… structural adjustment as guiding principle; transition to market economy as main focus… +++

Damming The Flood

Gérard Latortue, a neoliberal economist, was prime minister of Haiti from March 12, 2004 to June 9, 2006. Says Peter Hallward of his murderous rule (made quite murderous by his inclusion of some sociopath relatives, such as his nephew Youri Latortue): “Beyond its primary political purpose (the repression of Lavalas), Latorture’s government is not likely to be remembered for doing a great deal. As Father Rick Freshette put it a month before the end of Latortue’s administration in 2006, “It has done absolutely nothing, nothing with a capital N. It’s been an absolute dead loss.” On the other hand, it managed not to do an impressive number of things. In March 2004 Aristide’s literacy programme was abandoned overnight. Subsidies for schoolbooks and school meals were canceled. Agrarian reform came to a halt, as former landowners began to reclaim land that had been redistributed to peasants through legislation initiated by Préval. The collection of income taxes was suspended for three years, supposedly to compensate members of the elite who had suffered property damage during the elite-sponsored insurgency (no state support, needless to say, was offered to the thousands of poorer citizens who lost property let alone lives during the coup).” -page 261 of “Damming The Flood – Haiti, Aristide, And The Politics Of Containment” by Peter Hallward

Try as I might, I could not find Ñanpaz Foundation online. I typed the name into a dozen alt media sites and was met with no returns. A simple Google search seemed to suggest that Ñanpaz Foundation (but not in English) has a connection to mining.

From “Todd Gordon’s Imperialist Canada,” on pages 330 & 331, the following:

Around the time Aristide was elected for the second time, the Canadian state cut its funding to the Haitian government, most of which came through CIDA and Foreign Affairs, and instead shifted its support to, in its words, “civil society.” But as [Yves] Engler and [Anthony] Fenton demonstrate, “‘civil’ society was in effect equated with opposition to Haiti’s elected government. Without exception… organizations ideologically opposed to Lavalas were the sole recipients of Canadian government funding.” One such organization is the National Coalition for Haitian Rights – Haiti (NCHR-H), a virulently anti-Aristide organization which was funded by CIDA and was the most widely used source detailing Aristide’s supposedly authoritarian character by the international media and governments. It levelled accusations of atrocities at the Aristide government that were proven by independent human rights researchers to have been spurious. NCHR-H has been silent about post-coup political repression, but used a CIDA grant of $100,000 to investigate a genocide committed by the Aristide government that has been thoroughly refuted (Aristide’s former Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune, was jailed for supposed involvement in it).

The Canadian state also funded several Canadian-based NGOs with ties to anti-Aristide groups in Haiti. Ottawa-based NGO Rights And Democracy, funded entirely by the federal government, wrote a report on Haiti denouncing the Aristide government and describing G184 as “grassroots.” It used information provided by NCHR-H. The Concertation Pour Haiti (CPH), a Québec-based network of NGOs, called Aristide a “tyrant,” denounced his government as a “dictatorship” and a “regime of terror” and weeks before the coup called for his removal. After the coup they brought NCHR-H coordinator, Yoléne Gilles, who named wanted Lavalas “bandits” on Haitian radio, to Canada for a speaking tour. CPH also brought Danielle Magloire, who works for CIDA-funded anti-Aristide feminist organzations. Quick to denounce supposed human rights abuses by the Aristide government, Magloire’s organizations have also remained silent about violence and mass rape by government forces following the coup. Magloire would also serve on the Council of Wise People, set up after the coup to pick the interim leader. A number of Québec unions also received hundreds of thousands of dollars from CIDA for work in the Centre International de Solidarité Ouvriére (CISO). They denounced the detention of union activists in Haiti under Aristide, but have said nothing about the targeting of unionists after the coup. CIDA also had Philippe Vixamar on its payroll from 2001 to at least 2005. Vixamar became the Deputy Minister of Justice under the post-coup government where he oversaw police operations and prisoners…

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