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Zinn: The Uses of History and the War on Terrorism
(Howard Zinn, 24 November 2006)
[D]o you get the feeling sometime that you're living in an occupied country? Very often that's a feeling I get when I wake up in the morning. I think, "I'm living in an occupied country. A small group of aliens have taken over the country and are trying to do with it what they will, you know, and really are." I mean, they are alien to me. I mean, those people who are coming across the border from Mexico, they are not alien to me, you see. You know, Muslims who come to this country to live, they are not alien to me, you see. These demonstrations, these wonderful demonstrations that we have seen very recently on behalf of immigrant rights, say, and you've seen those signs saying, you know, "No human being is alien." And I think that's true. Except for the people in Washington, you see. . . . They've taken over the country. They've taken over the policy. They've driven us into two disastrous wars, disastrous for our country and even more disastrous for people in the Middle East. And they have sucked up the wealth of this country and given it to the rich, and given it to the multinationals, given it to Halliburton, given it to the makers of weapons. They're ruining the environment. And they're holding on to 10,000 nuclear weapons, while they want us to worry about the fact that Iran may, in ten years, get one nuclear weapon. You see, really, how mad can you be? . . . And the question is, how has this been allowed to happen? How have they gotten away with it? . . . for a short time, they captivated the minds of the American people. That's not true anymore. The American people have begun to understand what is going on and have turned against the policies in Washington, but of course they are still there. They are still in power. The question is, you know, how did they get away with that? . . . Göring [Hitler's second in command] said, "Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war? But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they're being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism. It works the same way in any country." . . . But the question is, how did they get away with it? What about the press? What about the media? Isn't it the job of the press, isn't it the job of the media, isn't it the job of journalism to expose what governments do? Don't journalists learn from I.F. Stone, who said, "Just remember two words," he said to young people who were studying journalism, he said, "Just remember two words: governments lie". Well, but the media have not picked up on that. The media have gone along, and they embraced the idea of weapons of mass destruction. You remember when Colin Powell appeared before the United Nations just before the onset of the Iraq war and laid out to the UN this litany of weaponry that Iraq possessed, according to him, and gave great details in how many canisters of this and how many tons of this, and so on and so forth. And the next day, the press was just aglow with praise. They didn't do their job of questioning. They didn't do their job of asking, "Where? What is your evidence? Where did you get this intelligence? Who did you talk to? What are your sources?" . . . Isn't this what you learn as a freshman in college? "Hey, what are your sources? Where are your footnotes?" No, no. They were just - the Washington Post said, "It is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction." And the New York Times, you know, it was just beside themselves with admiration for Colin Powell. Of course, it all turned out to be untrue, all turned out to be lies. But the press did not do its job, and as a result, the American people, watching television, reading the newspapers, had no alternative source of information, no alternative opinion, no alternative critical analysis of what was going on. . . . If people knew that history, they would never for a moment believe President Bush, when he says, oh, we're going into Iraq, you know, because of this reason and that reason and liberty and democracy, and they're a threat, you know. I mean, it takes - yeah, it takes some historical understanding to be skeptical of the things that authorities tell you. . . . When you know history, you know that governments lie, as I.F. Stone said. Governments lie all the time. Well, not just the American government. It's just in the nature of governments. Well, they have to lie. I mean, governments in general do not represent the people of the societies that they govern. And since they don't represent the people and since they act against the interest of the people, the only way they can hold power is if they lie to the people. If they told people the truth, they wouldn't last very long. So history can help in understanding deception and being skeptical and not rushing to embrace whatever the government tells you. . . . It's very important to know this, because the culture tries very hard to persuade us that we all have a common interest. If they use the language "national interest" - there's no national interest. There's their interest and our interest. National security - now, whose security? National defense, whose defense? All these words and phrases are used to try to encircle us all into a nice big bond, so that we will assume that the people who are the leaders of our country have our interests at heart. Very important to understand: no, they do not have our interests at heart. . . . But I want to suggest one thing: we have to think beyond Iraq and even beyond Iran. We don't want to have to struggle against this war and then against that war and then against the next war. We don't want to have an endless succession of antiwar movements. It gets tiring. And we need to think and talk and educate about the abolition of war itself, you see. . . . One of the things we can learn from history is that history is not only a history of things inflicted on us by the powers that be. History is also a history of resistance. It's a history of people who endure tyranny for decades, but who ultimately rise up and overthrow the dictator. We've seen this in country after country, surprise after surprise. Rulers who seem to have total control, they suddenly wake up one day, and there are a million people in the streets, and they pack up and leave. This has happened in the Philippines, in Yemen, all over, in Nepal. Million people in the streets, and then the ruler has to get out of the way. So, this is what we're aiming for in this country. . . . Everything we do is important. Every little thing we do, every picket line we walk on, every letter we write, every act of civil disobedience we engage in, any recruiter that we talk to, any parent that we talk to, any GI that we talk to, any young person that we talk to, anything we do in class, outside of class, everything we do in the direction of a different world is important, even though at the moment they seem futile, because that's how change comes about. Change comes about when millions of people do little things, which at certain points in history come together, and then something good and something important happens.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:44 PM
U.S. Marine Corps Under Severe Stress
(Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press, 23 November 2006)
The Marine Corps may need to increase in size to sustain deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan without sacrificing needed training or putting undue stress on the corps, the new Marine commandant said Wednesday. . . . Gen. James Conway also warned that it could take years to adequately train and equip the Iraqi security forces — longer, perhaps, "than the timeline that we probably feel ... our country will support." . . . Conway said the current pace of Marine rotations to Iraq — seven months there and seven-to-nine months at home — is limiting other types of training that units can receive and could eventually prompt Marines to leave the service. . . . "There is stress on the individual Marines that is increasing, and there is stress on the institution to do what we are required to do, pretty much by law, for the nation," said Conway. . . . Conway would not rule out extending the Iraq tours for some Marine units if needed for a short period of time. Several Army units have been extended for several months, but the Marines have done that only rarely and for weeks rather than months. . . . Conway, who took on the Marines' top job just eight days ago, said there are two ways to deal with the ongoing stress on the Marines: "One is reducing the requirement, the other is potentially growing the force for what we call the long war." . . . There are currently about 180,000 active duty Marines. Just last week, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East said about 2,200 more of them were headed to Iraq's volatile western Anbar province in a short-term effort to shore up U.S. combat power there. . . . The commander, Gen. John Abizaid, also told Congress last week that the Army and Marine Corps are not big enough to sustain a substantial increase in Iraq, although he said adding 20,000 troops for a short period was possible. . . . Conway said that if a decision is made to increase the number of Marines in Iraq — currently about 23,000 of the 141,000 U.S. troops there — he has enough around the globe to respond. But he warned that there could be long-term repercussions. . . . "The payback is you can't maintain that surge. And it's probably going to have an adverse impact" on the ability to provide ready troops in the future, he said. . . . The Marines are also drawing up plans to send some reserve combat battalions back to Iraq for return tours as a way of relieving the strain on the active duty forces. If that is done, it would be the first time such Marine units would be returned to the war.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:18 AM
The Dollar's Full-System Meltdown
(Mike Whitney, Global Research, October 31, 2006)
The U.S. Dollar is kaput. Confidence in the currency is eroding by the day. . . . A report in The Sydney Morning Herald stated, "Australia's Treasurer Peter Costello has called on East Asia's central bankers to 'telegraph' their intentions to diversify out of American investments and ensure an 'orderly adjustment'. Central banks in China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong have channeled immense foreign reserves into American government bonds, helping to prop up the US dollar and hold down interest rates," said Costello, but "the strategy has changed." . . . Indeed, the strategy has changed. The world has come to its senses and is moving away from the green slip of paper that is currently mired in $8.7 trillion of debt. . . . The central banks now want to reduce their USD reserves while trying to do as little damage to their own economies as possible. That'll be difficult. If a sell-off ensues, it will start a stampede for the exits. . . . There's little hope of an "orderly adjustment" as Costello opines; that's just false optimism. When the greenback begins listing; things will turn helter-skelter quickly. . . . The United States runs a $200 billion per year trade deficit with China. If they've "got enough" we're dead-ducks. After all, it doesn’t take a sell-off to kill the dollar, just unwillingness on the part of the main players to stop purchasing at the same rate. . . . Of course, everyone in Washington already knew that doomsday was approaching. That's the way the system was designed from the very beginning. It's all part of the madcap scheme to "starve the beast" and transfer the nation's wealth to a handful of western plutocrats. That explains why the Fed and the White House whirred along like two spokes on the same wheel; every policy calculated to thrust the country headlong toward disaster. . . . The administration never created a funding mechanism for the $400 million tax cuts or for the 35% expansion of the Federal government. Defense spending increased by leaps and bounds as did the "no-bid" contracts for friends of the Bush clan. At the same time, interest rates were lowered to rock-bottom to put as much money as possible into the hands of people who couldn't meet the traditional criteria for a mortgage. And, if gluttonous waste, reckless overspending and "Mickey Mouse" loans were not enough; the Fed capped it off by doubling the money supply in 7 years; a surefire prescription for hyper-inflation. . . . So, which one of these policies was not deliberate? . . . The financial crisis that we now face was created by design. It is intended to destroy the labor movement, crush the middle class, quash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, reduce our foreign debt by 50 or 60%, force a restructuring of America’s debt, privatize all public assets and resources, and create a new regime of austerity measures which will divert more wealth to the banking and corporate establishments. . . . Domestically, that plan appears to involve the activation of the police state. . . . In the last few weeks the Bush administration has passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which allows the president to arrest and torture whomever he chooses without charging him with a crime. Also, unbeknownst to most Americans, Bush signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy, will allow the president to unilaterally declare martial law. By changing The Insurrection Act, Bush has essentially overturned the Posse Comitatus Act which bars the president from deploying troops with the United States. The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (as it is called) also allows Bush to take control of the National Guard which has always been under the purview of the state governors. Bush now has absolute power over all armed troops within the country, a state of affairs which the constitution purposely tried to prevent. The administration’s dream of militarizing the country under the sole authority of the executive has now been achieved although the public still has no idea that a coup that has taken place. . . . So, how will this cadre of plutocrats coerce the other nations to continue to use the dollar while it plummets from its perch? . . . As long as oil is denominated in dollars, the central banks will be forced to stockpile American scrip regardless of its value. It's no different than holding a gun to someone's head. They will use our debt-plagued greenbacks or their cars and trucks will sputter, their tractors and factories will wheeze, and their economies will grind to a halt. It’s just that simple. . . . America cannot maintain its superpower status unless it continues to control the global economic system. That means the linkage between the dollar and oil must be preserved. The Bush troupe sees this as an existential issue upon which the future of America’s ruling class depends. By 2020, 60% of the world's oil will come from the Middle East. Bush will do everything in his power to control the resources of the Caspian Basin, thereby expanding US dollar-hegemony and paving the way for a new American century.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:34 AM