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Salami Tactics Then and Now

2:43 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

As the Ukraine descends into armed combat between the police of a legitimate government and Neo-Nazi thugs with European backers, it’s none to soon to be talking about fascism.

Munich - Adolf Hitler and NSDAP treasurer Franz Xaver Schwarz. Hitler and Schwarz at the dedication of the renovation of the Palais Barlow on Brienner Straße to the Brown House.

Deena Stryker invokes Godwin’s Law by comparing Hitler’s Germany to the rise of modern American fascism.

After defeating German, Italian and Japanese fascism that threatened American power in the mid twentieth century, Washington turned against its former ally, the Soviet Union, and then China, when the Communists won their struggle for power there in 1949 – for Communism was the real enemy of corporate power! Sixty-five years later, fascism is resurgent, overtly in Europe, covertly in the United States. And yet, when left-leaning American intellectuals utter the F word, it is with lowered voice, perhaps fearing accusations of irresponsibility, or a lack of academic rigor, should they  compare what is happening in the United States with the process that took place in Germany in the nineteen twenties and thirties, culminating in the Second World War, and ultimately, the banalization of ethnic cleansing. The events in Ukraine require Americans and Europeans to review that history, unless we want to relive Nazi Germany.

After the Nazis were defeated, the Soviet Union took over Eastern Europe. One local leader boasted of destroying his country’s non-Communist parties by ‘cutting them off like slices of salami’, re-baptizing what Hitler had called his ‘piecemeal strategy’. Today we talk about frogs allowing the water they are in to be gradually brought to a boil until it is too late to jump out. Efforts by right-wing parties to lure Ukraine, whose Western half fought with the Germans, into the EU, suggest that it may be too late for Europe to avoid another fascist takeover: thanks to genuine political freedom that affords all parties the same protections, fascist parties are on the ballot in every country, with between ten and twenty percent of the vote.

American fascist parties are not on the ballot, and yet Americans are seeing their freedoms being cut away, slice by slice, by the government, and with each slice, we dispose of fewer means to prevent the next cut. The corporate media condemns Hitler-worshipping hate groups, but appears not to notice that the NSA, PRISM, FISA, facial recognition, police drones, etc. are technologically embellished equivalents of the means Hitler used to consolidate power with the backing of Germany’s industrialists.

The German excuse for territorial aggression was ‘Lebensraum’, literally, ‘room to live’. Today, the world military/industrial/financial complex headquartered in Washington is determined to secure the raw materials that will enable the 1 percent to maintain itself on a dying Earth until it can colonize another planet. If you think I’m imagining things, I’m not alone. See Neil Bloomkamp’s Elysium, in which two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made planet called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, dying Earth. Bloomkamp probably isn’t far off: government research on space colonization has been going on for years and is now also being carried out by private companies. Implementation of the project will require the acquiescence of the 99%, who in fact are just now emerging from McCarthy’s closet to demand the rights, benefits and personal freedoms that have been enjoyed for decades by workers in the European Union. This awakening makes it doubly necessary to take down the welfare state, which not only ensures a decent living for all, but is a major economic competitor. If the economic crisis of 2008 created by Wall St. turns out to have dealt it a fatal blow, it will not, I believe, be an unintended consequence.

On the surface, what is happening in 21st century America looks nothing like when took place in 1930‘s Germany. However, it is still about the fundamental question of equity whether it be between the few and the many, or between governments. American determination to topple the Syrian president is the latest example of the latter: Since its independence in 1946, Syria has been the only secular Arab state, and under the Arab Baath Socialist Party it has maintained that distinction. It has been the contention of this writer for many months that the current world crisis is at bottom about equity, as illustrated by the array of religious, secular and progressive forces vying for power in the Arab world. And we cannot understand this if we are ignorant of the historical conflict between fascism and communism.

The fact that fascism developed precisely as a nationalist competitor for workers’ allegiance in the years following the victory of the many in Russia is largely ignored today. The fact is that the Russian Revolution led to brief takeovers in both Germany and its former ally Hungary by Communist and Socialist governments, creating a veritable Red Scare across Europe. After a turbulent two years, Germany’s first ever parliamentary system, the Weimar Republic, was created.  As a sign of the times, it was led by democratic socialists, and opposed by conservatives, monarchists, communists, as well as Hitler’s so-called ‘national-socialist’ party.

The 1918 armistice had formalized the loss of Germany’s African colonies, excised part of its homeland to create new nations and condemned it, as the aggressor, to huge reparations. Hitler’s career took off in the early twenties with charismatic speeches that stoked resentment over this punishment among farmers, war veterans and the middle class. Hitler and his friends tried unsuccessfully to take over the country in 1923, in what was called the Beer Hall Putsch.

What follows is a rough comparison between the rise of fascism in Germany (where it was known as Nazism, the German contraction of ‘national socialism’), and contemporary America, where a globalized economy is rewarding the 1% while imposing hardships on the majority, as happened in post World War I Germany:

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Luck Running Out

8:44 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

George’ Clooney’s 2005 film ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’, a tribute to the great journalist, Edward R. Morrow, who signed off with those words, should be shown again.

Edward R. Murrow

Edward R. Murrow

Morrow was CBS’s star newsman.  His boss William Paley, did not interfere with editorial decisions, but would “not allow editorial decisions’ to bring down the network.  When Morrow denounced Joseph McCarthy, for conducting a veritable witch hunt against supposed Communists, Paley riled but stood behind him.

Morrow felt compelled to break with the media’s uncritical coverage of Congress’s anti-communist crusade when the Air Force dismissed a pilot on grounds that his immigrant father had subscribed to a foreign newspaper, supposedly making the young man a security risk. His principled stance eventually led to McCarthy’s downfall, and the film closes with a shot of President Eisenhower reminding Americans that “we have habeus corpus’ and no one can take that from us.

A year after Clooney’s film was released, in 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Patriot Act, eliminating habeus corpus for those suspected of terrorism – or, in an eery throwback to the airman’s father – of associating with terrorist suspects. Seven years later, the corporate media maintains an obedient, united front against Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and a growing cohort of whistle-blowers.

In the films’ final take, Morrow maintains that television could be a powerful educational tool, but he was not heard in the big three boardrooms.  CNN came on the scene in 1980 with the desire to do better, but with Ted Turner’s ouster, it became just another spin machine.  Neither the print media nor mainstream telelvision acknowledge the existence of foreign networks such as Al-Jazeera, France 24 or RT, hence most Americans haven’t a clue as to what the rest of the world is thinking, doing or wanting.

Publlc ignorance has led to a situation that even the most astute observers would have deemed impossible just six months ago: Edward Snowden is weighing whether to swap his Moscow asylum for Berlin, or testify remotely about NSA spying on the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.   The arrow of time, combined with the acceleration of energy within the world system is moving it toward a bifurcation point that signals a change of era.  Notwithstanding Morrow’s fervent wishes, our luck is running out.
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Three Musketeers vs. Goliath

8:24 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

RT’s Sophia Shevardnadze interviews Russian specialist Professor Stephen F. Cohen today about the fall-out from the Snowden case in U.S.-Russia relations. Cutting to the chase, Cohen compared the American public’s response to the Pentagon papers with what is happening today: polls indicate that about half of Americans accept to be spied upon if that will keep their children safe from terrorists, whereas in the seventies, reaction to Daniel Ellsberg’s leaking of Vietnam War documents turned the country against that war.

Bradley Manning faces life in prison for supposedly aiding the enemy by revealing past American misdeeds, Julian Assange is threatened with arrest for publishing his leaks if he sets foot outside the Ecuadoran embassy in London, and Edward Snowden is stuck in a transit no-man’s land in  Moscow facing the same charges. These three musketeers are being hounded for exposing government wrong-doing that has cost thousands of lives as ‘the West’ crusades against terrorists and a select list of ‘dictators’ around the world.

Last Monday France 24 aired an interview with an exiled Syrian journalist who is operating a radio program for Syrians (Radio Rozana) financed by the French government. Lina Chawaf described the conditions under which she worked while still in Syria. Her private television channel was only allowed to broadcast non-political programs, and when she went to work for another channel, government minders pressured her regularly to broadcast the Assad line. Threats, veiled and otherwise eventually motivated her to leave the country.

Americans have been conditioned to condemn curtailment of press freedom in one-party states. But, call me a trouble-maker, I have a hard time seeing these situations as qualitatively different from what increasingly goes on in the United States. Granted, journalists may not receive daily threats from the FBI or the CIA, but for decades they’ve known what they can and cannot say if they want to keep their high-paying jobs, and now, new laws allow the government to jail them on the pretext that talking to sources equals aiding the enemy. Chris Hedges and several other prominent journalists just lost a law suit against these scary tactics.

In case anyone thinks activists are exaggerating the gravity of the situation, the recent death of an investigative American journalist in an automobile accident that may have been caused by a cyber attack (http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/transportation/cars/journalist-michael-hastings-body-cremated-authorities-against-familys#) should give pause. The day before his death, Michael Hastings emailed friends that he was going to have to “go off the radar for a bit” because he was on to an important story. His body was returned to his family in an urn, and no one has been allowed to examine the car that suddenly burst into flames on a Los Angeles street. Aside from the more sophisticated means employed, is this incident qualitatively different from the assassination, say, of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya a few years ago in the elevator of her apartment building?

We can expect such deaths to multiply, given the stakes for the American system and the electronic tools it has perfected. For background read Tomdispatch’s July  14th Surveillance Blowback The Making of the U.S. Surveillance State, 1898-2020  By Alfred W. McCoy, then tell me whether journalists and whistle-blowers should be prosecuted.
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It’s No Longer About Development

8:30 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

Ever since World War II and the long period of decolonization that followed, the world has been divided not only into two ideological camps, socialist and capitalist, but into two developmental categories, developed and under-develop-ed, with a country’s weight in the political arena directly tied to its level of development. As measurements became more refined, sub-categories have included developing and over-developed nations, but the World Bank and the IMF saw to it that most nations remained in their assigned place.

The Edward Snowden affair has not only exposed American spying on anyone electronic capabilities can reach, it has revealed the emergence of a new balance of power. In a finite world threatened by the specter of nine billion people aspiring to a Western standard of living, levels of development measured by Western standards are rapidly being abandoned for a different set of criteria: community and sufficiency as opposed to individualism and growth.

As with all watersheds, this one will go unnoticed for some time, but lack of press coverage should not prevent us from realizing that a page is turning: when Turkish youth and middle classes force their government to abandon Western gentrification of an ancient city (Constantinople/Istanbul); when Brazilian youth and middle classes force their Workers’ Party president to lower transport fares and back off spending millions on sports stadia; when Evo Morales declares Bolivia will be better off without an American Embassy and its World bank and IMF satellites – and even when the Muslim Brotherhood defends demo-cratic elections – you know you’re witnessing a tectonic shift in the world balance of power.

The so-called Third World no longer has to ‘catch up’ to the over-developed world in order to command the world stage: it is writing the new definition of modernity.

 

 

Obama Should Watch RT!

7:40 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

The ‘end user’ of the security state’s intelligence should also get information from Russia Today, Moscow’s English language channel. He might better realize the long-term significance of his decision to order Europe to close its airspace to the plane of a Latin American president. That initiative put the crowning touch on the transformation  of the continent once known as our ‘backyard’ into a world player. The process started fifty years ago, with the Cuban Revolution, and while Washington still clings to its embargo on the island, the rest of the continent appears to have reached a Cuban level of rejection of its American hegemon.

Fifth BRICS Summit, 26 Mar to 27 Mar

Fifth BRICS Summit, 26 Mar to 27 Mar

The largest Latin American country, Brazil, is also one of the BRICS – the group of fastest growing economies. RT revealed today that together with  China and Russia it has been the object of surveillance by the United States. (No doubt India and South Africa will be added to the list, courtesy of Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald.)

The BRICS are only the biggest of a growing list of nations, large and small, that have different political systems but share a couple of basic ideas: war is bad, governments have responsibilities toward the many, and nothing is forever. President Obama should beware of his own administrations’s spin that dismisses the new international alignment.

It suggests that the 20th century is only now coming to an end, the teens ushering in a new era, as they did a century ago, when the Victorian Era didn’t really end until the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Coincidentally, that period marked the beginning of America’s rise as the most powerful nation the world has ever known.  Although we entered its wars late, the American policy of isolation from the affairs of an ever squabbling Europe was gradually transformed into one of domination. After coming to Europe’s rescue for the second time in 1942, from benefactor we became its economic and military tutor, guaranteeing the existence of its post-war liberal half against so-called threats of takeover by the Soviet Union. When unexpectedly, the ‘monolith’ fell apart, we assumed it was our doing and that we could go on to bigger and better triumphs ad infinitum.

Twenty years later, a God-like United States dispenses both life and death electronically. But having failed to take into account the cumulative effect of our ever bolder actions on populations around the globe, as daily reporting by a tough, talented multi-lingual staff gathered by Moscow shows, the world has reached another watershed: the American century is ending.

Ironically, Europe’s status has changed in tandem: when in the fifties Coca-Cola was introduced in France, it was so indignantly rejected by a population raised on wine that the formula had to be changed, giving French Coke a slightly different taste. Today, although French farmers led by Jose Bove represent a significant anti-globalization force, thanks to decades-long initiatives like the Fulbright Program, which brings opinion makers to the United States to experience the superiority of the American Way of Life, the French elite has largely been co-opted.

France has been alternately ruled by an Americanized (but caviar-loving) left and a no less Americanized right that knew it could not attack the welfare state. A similar situation exists throughout Western Europe, while Eastern Europe once liberated from Soviet domination has been more willing to scrap its protections. The 2008 economic probably had as much to do with Washington’s determination to finish off a welfare system that increasingly reveals America’s shame as it did with greedy banksters. But petrified by the growing threat of Islamization, Europe now puts its faith in snooping and the war on terror, just as previously it acquiesced in a growing American military presence, complete with Pershing missiles, to forestall a Soviet onslaught.

The alacrity with which three European countries acceded to Washington’s demand to deny their airspace to President Morales’ plane right after learning they were being extensively spied on by the United States, is related to the start of negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which they hope will solve their unemployment problems without too many negative side-effects.  Delaying yet again a long-deferred adulthood, Europe has chosen to ignore the fact that in the twenty-first century, a finite planet calls for less trade and more self-reliance - as Bolivia’s president Evo Morales stated.
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Raining on Our Parade – and Europe’s

2:54 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

On this 237th anniversary of the adoption of the American Declaration of Independence from the British crown, the nations of Latin America have declared their independence from the United States.

The plane carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales home from a conference in Moscow saw its overflight permissions cancelled in mid-flight by France, Spain and Portugal, on American suspicions that Edward Snowden might be on board. Noting that no presidential plane has ever been denied airspace in the world since 1945, Latin American leaders have called a special meeting of their organization, UNASUR for tomorrow. (UNASUR includes virtually every Latin American country and is headquartered in Quito, Ecuador and Cochabamba, Bolivia, two countries considering granting asylum to Snowden….)

Meanwhile, France’s President Hollande reminded me of a childhood protest that amused my family when someone tickled me: “Stop it I like it!” France’s – and to a certain extent Europe’s – ‘street walker’ relationship to the United States belies affirmations of independence.  This particular instance of government kowtowing has infuriated all sides of the French political spectrum, who point out that France drafted the original Declaration of Human Rights. Lamely apologizing for ‘faulty intelligence’ about Morales’ plane, Hollande reacted to Snowden’s revelations of outrageous spying by the U.S. with an unconvincing call for the EU – also copiously spied upon – to delay the start of negotiations on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) destined to replace NATO as America’s controlling organization in Europe.

The extent of U.S. spying on countries it touts as allies underlines the fact that the Cold War is not over but has simply gone underground. No European took seriously the Soviet Union’s references to a ‘Common European House’ under Gorbachev. Twenty some odd years later, Russia pipes gas to Europe and signs all manner of economic deals with individual countries ever less keen to support America’s wars in the Middle East (except for Syria). The monumental spy scandal involving a country, not an individual, mock America’s tireless assertions of morality and respect for international law, providing Russia with a golden opportunity to defend them.

Sadly, it seems unlikely that this irrefutable proof of American duplicity will give Europe the spine to join the  movement of the most populous countries of the world toward independence from the American Empire. Read the rest of this entry →

Unraveling on Steroids

5:14 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

I cannot remember any time when so many things have gone wrong for one country.  Anti-American energy is accelerating in so many places around the globe that it’s hard to keep up. Starting with the most recent event and working backwards:

- The US leaned on European allies to deny their airspace to the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales home from a conference in Moscow.  The plane was forced to land in Vienna for fuel problems, and was searched for fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden. South American bigwigs like the Argentine president are calling for a special summit.

- The same European allies who denied airspace to Morales threatened to cancel a monumental free trade pact with the U.S. after learning they had been copiously spied upon by Washington’s security apparatus as much for economic reasons as terrorism.  Even EU headquarters in Brussels was bugged.

- Russia refuses to hand over Edward Snowden, allowing him to remain in a Moscow airport transit zone until he finds a safe haven.  They have no extradition treaty with the U.S. and if they did they would not comply because the U.S. has the death penalty.

- The Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, representing the moderate Sunni Moslem Brotherhood, was ousted by a popular revolt that has been gathering steam for several weeks over ineffective governance.  The U.S. cannot withdraw support for the army, as required by legislation, because Egypt is too important to the safety of Israel.

- Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan bowed to countrywide demonstrations lasting several weeks in opposition to his plans to sacrifice a park in central Istanbul to build a mall and a replica of an army barracks, as part of his commitment to what we could call ‘financial urbanization’.

- Reports of atrocities committed by radical Islamists fighting Syria’s secular president Assad make Washington’s commitment to arm the Syrian rebels look increasingly rash.

- President Obama’s trip to three African countries provided foreign media with an opportunity to showcase Africa’s preference for Chinese-style investment that comes without preaching or economic conditionalities, the ultimate example of a worldwide trend away from U.S. hegemony.

 

P.S. Don’t see any way to respond to comments on FDL, but do want to apologize if my comment on Julian Assange implied anything other than what the well-informed commentator spelled out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Unraveling

9:17 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

We’re back to the arrow of time again: cnce the energy in a system begins to accelerate, for whatever reason, it cannot decelerate, but pushes relentlessly forward toward a bifurcation point.

That is what is happening in front of our very eyes on the world stage: since the end of the Second World War, the United States has moved toward ever-greater supremacy over the other countries of the world.  For decades there was little appetite among its allies to counter its expansion, whether through manufactures, trade or finance.  There were benefits for the ruling classes that to a greater or lesser degree trickled down to the rest of fast-growing societies, so the ruling classes looked the other way at the  occasional abuse.

Over the last decade they have become ever more uncomfortable with America’s wars of aggression, limiting their participation to the minimum they could get away with and still benefit from handouts.  Then came Wikileaks, and Private Bradley Manning and what appear to be trumped-up sexual charges against Julian Assange (which noone seems to have investigated in Sweden where they were put forth), and America’s allies could only mutter disapproval at the methods being used against these whistle-blowers.

The Snowden saga has become a bifurcation point: it matters not where he ultimately finds sanctuary, for his latest revelations show that the United States crossed a red line from which it cannot turn back: spying on its allies to a degree hitherto unknown in international relations.

There are many, for sure, among the governing elites of the world who have been waiting for this moment, some without even being aware of it. For the first time in sixty years, the United States has become fair game, and the domestic advantages to stepping back from its orbit are too great in this time of austerity to overcome any remaining scruples.

We are witnessing the start of a great unraveling.

 

 

It’s Not About Islam It’s About Money!

9:21 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

How long must we wait before the media begins to connect the dots?

- After twelve years of war supposedly against Al Qaeda, ithe U.S. is getting ready to sit down with the Taliban, who, by offering hospitality to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, made 9/11 possible;

- The US has supported its right-wing Gulf allies, starting with Saudi Arabia, in their efforts to funnel arms and fighters to Syria, for the purpose of toppling the only left-wing, secular government in the Arab world.

- Assad is accused of murdering his own people, while neither Bahrein, which is home to the US Sixth Fleet, nor Yemen, another close US ally, receives the slightest reprimand for violently repressing mass demonstrations, arresting doctors who assist victims of government violence, and jailing journalists.

Now consider this: Like Syria today, Iraq was governed by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party until we invaded.  In the Iraq/Iran war (1980-1988), we sided with Iraq against the Revolutionary government of Iran, either because our diplomats didn’t have a clue about the Ba’ath Party, or because a decision was made to first eliminate Iran, then go after Iraq.

It seems clear to me that the struggle that began early in the last century, and which appeared to end with the demise of the Soviet Union, has continued by the United States. That is the struggle between the many and the few, now known as the 1% and the 99%.

It is a struggle that no longer simply opposes trade unions to bosses, but now would make every human activity a cash cow for someone. It pits a military/financial/-industrial complex, feebly represented by government, against the survival of a growing world population and the planet that sustains it.

The neo-conservatives who effectively run the United States, are determined to eliminate every vestige of democratic socialism, whether it be the European Union’s welfare states, Assad’s Arab socialism, Iran’s revolutionary ayatollah’s, or anyone other regime in which economic rights are as important as civil rights.

To that end, Washington has taken the gigantic step of throwing its weight behind Salafist fighters in Syria, together with the retrograde Gulf States, Turkey and Israel – acountry that went from being a socialist project to one in which the lower classes increasingly find it hard to make ends meet. The mealy-mouthed excuse that the important thing is to get rid of Assad, hoping that ‘moderate’ Islamists will ultimately prevail over the others is not about saving the Syrian people, it’s about shoring up world capitalism.  The United States prefers conservative – ven Salafist – Muslims, to progressive Judeo-Christians.

Increasingly arrayed against this project are a majority of the world’s governments, shepherded by Russia and China. Washington plays down the fact that the Moscow/Peking alliance is stronger than it was during the Cold War, as illustrated by the arrival of Edward Snowden in Moscow from Hong Kong, which is no longer a British colony, but a Chinese administrative region.

Snowden is rumored to have been offered asylum in a country in Latin America, America’s former back yard.