“OUR S.O.B.” GOES DOWN

12 02 2011
vegyptian

remember, remember....

It was Franklin Roosevelt, speaking of Nicaraguan dictator Somoza Garcia, who said “He may be an S.O.B., but he’s our S.O.B.”  And Hosni Mubarak has been our son of a bitch, or maybe just our bitch, in Egypt for thirty years.  As of this writing, he may still be America’s S.O.B., but he is apparently no longer Egypt’s dictator, and it appears that his designated successor, Omar Suleiman, is only passing through.

There are a lot of angles to this story.  First and foremost, obviously, is how the massive frustration of the Egyptian people bred collective courage and determination and a largely non-violent, decentralized popular revolution.  If only it would happen here!

There’s the question of why the Egyptian people feel so frustrated, what it will take to satisfy their demands, and how or even whether it is possible to meet those needs and aspirations.

There’s the question of how this may affect the situation with and within Palestine and Israel.

There’s the role of the Egyptian Army in the transfer of power.

There’s the invariably lame and sometimes downright bizarre responses of American politicians to this movement.

There’s the angle of American (as well as Egyptian) so-called “intelligence services” completely getting this wrong.

There’s the angle of the depth of support the U.S. government has consistently shown for Mubarak’s notoriously repressive rule in Egypt.

And there’s the question of who’s next.  Saudi Arabia?  Algeria?  Mexico?  The United States?

Let’s start with U.S. involvement and work more or less back up the list, but save “who’s next?” for last.

Thanks to WIkileaks, we know that America’s FBI schooled Egypt’s police in torture techniques at a Quantico, Virginia, training center–interestingly enough, the same one where Bradley Manning, of Wikileaks fame, is being held–but not tortured!  Oh, no, no no!  Verry interesting.  But I want to focus on Egypt.  Most of the weapons, from tear gas canisters to…let’s not go there, have “made in U.S.A.” stamped on them somewhere, and even the ones that don’t were mostly paid for by Hosni’s Uncle Sam.  However President Obama tries to position himself now, it is clear that the U.S. has long known about and been a willing accomplice in Mubarak’s repression of the Egyptian people.

Obama’s approval of Suleiman is a case in point.  Suleiman is widely known as “the CIA‘s man in Egypt.”  He is head of the secret police.  He’s co-operated with the U.S. to carry out kidnappings and torture, and to suppress Hamas, which has been labeled a terrorist organization by the US because it is willing to use violence to resist violently enforced US/Israeli hegemony.  I’m opposed to the use of violence, but I’m opposed to hypocrisy as well.  Hypocrisy is just a subtle form of violence.  Wikileaks has revealed that Suleiman’s attitude towards the Gaza Ghetto is that it’s OK for people there to “go hungry but not starve.”  How compassionate!   Considering Suleiman’s position in Mubarak’s government and the overwhelming popular support for the Palestinians around the Middle East, Obama’s endorsement of Suleiman is hardly a “change we can believe in.”

The problem for repressive regimes, in Egypt or the U.S., is that they grow increasingly out of touch with reality because, due to the fear factor, nobody is going to tell them anything they don’t want to hear.  That’s why torture doesn’t work–people will tell their torturer anything just to stop the pain.  It doesn’t have to be thumbscrews, either.  Any kind of power over another person’s life will do. Can you say “paycheck,” boys and girls?  How about “membership in the American upper class”?

Mubarak’s own “intelligence service” seemed bent on pinning the unrest on “outside agitators.” (ah, the “song of the South!), which would have been laughable if not for the number of people who were beaten, imprisoned, and outright killed due to this rhetoric.  Our own so-called intelligence services seem to have been surprised by these events, just as they have failed, or simply refused,  to foresee many major shifts in the currents of history–Pearl Harbor, Mao’s triumph in China, the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, the end of the Soviet Union and of so-called “Communist” hegemony over eastern Europe, the destruction of the World Trade Center.  The Bush administration, in particular, was famous for fabricating “facts” that bolstered what it wanted to hear.  Ah, the burdens of empire!

(Yes, I am quite open to the likelihood that the CIA, et al.,  neither failed nor ignored, but actively fomented some of the above events…but that’s another subject!)

Yes, the burden of empire will drive any country crazy.  We have been treated to the ironic spectacle of Republican “populists,” frightened out of their tunnel-vision wits at the involvement of radical Islamist organizations like The Muslim Brotherhood in this revolution. throwing their support to Mubarak, who is exactly the kind of strongman they claim to see in Obama.

Ah, the tangled webs we weave, eh?

I mentioned the Egyptian Army, which is a very peculiar institution, as armies go. Last month I said that the U.S. military is one of the best examples of state socialism in the world today, but the Egyptian have us beat.  Since the cessation of hostilities with Israel, they haven’t had a lot to do, militarily.  Instead, they have turned their manpower and resources into an enormous business conglomerate that is involved with everything from resort hotels to agriculture to appliance manufacture to road building.  They don’t want a protracted power struggle.  When it comes to a choice between a stable, happy Egypt without Mubarak or a grim, sullen country with him, the army’s preference is obvious–and that is the choice they have made.  Mubarak is out.

Whether Egyptians will find more happiness without Mubarak may depend on how philosophical the people can be.   From a materialist standpoint, the numbers are not good.  The population has tripled in the last fifty years and at current rates will double again in the next twenty.  Most of the country is virtually uninhabitable desert.  The Aswan dam has proved to be a trade-off:  the country has more electricity, but soil fertility is slipping without the annual Nile floods, and, unreplenished by silt from those floods, the Nile delta, the largest concentration of both population and arable land in the country, is washing away into the Mediterranean Sea.  The country’s oil production peaked fifteen years ago and has fallen 30% since, so it needs to import an increasing amount of its fuel as well as its food. The prices of both oil and food are rising.

What this boils down to is that the Egyptian standard of living is unlikely to improve. As long as the Egyptian people are glad to have more freedom to chart their own destiny in a world of diminished expectations, there is a chance that the country’s gross national happiness index will rise.  If they were expecting a chicken in every pot and a car in every driveway once Mubarak left, they will be sorely disappointed.

A change to a more sympathetic government in Egypt could be very good news for the people of Palestine.  If Egypt opens its border with Gaza and becomes more proactive in offering aid, the Israelis will have a much more difficult time keeping the screws tight on that unfortunate ghetto, and will have less energy and for making trouble elsewhere in the Middle East.  Maybe it’s time they started checking out real estate in Nevada?  Nevada, Negev, sounds a lot alike, nu? But I digress….

It’s that famous “butterfly effect.” An oppressed, underemployed fruit vendor immolated himself in Tunisia, and not long after that, the government of Tunisia fell.  To the surprise of everyone and the delight of some, that energy bounced into Egypt and dislodged a long-established,seemingly intransigent regime there in a matter of weeks.  The world is far too complex a system to predict where the next strand in the world-wide web will unravel, or when.  But we seem to have reached a tipping point.  In world politics as with the climate, bigger and bigger things are shifting faster and faster.  It’s no longer “After us, the deluge.”  The deluge is happening.

music:  John Lennon, “Power

vegyptian

remember, remember....

to the People”





TRUTH IN STRANGE PLACES

3 04 2008

Nominated for the TISP award this month is George W. Bush, who called on the Chinese to “exercise restraint” in Tibet and meet with HH the Dalai Lama to discuss Tibetan autonomy within China.  The story below alleges that the current unrest in Tibet has been stirred up by the CIA to embarass China on the eve of the Olympics.  While that may not be true, it is pretty certain that the CIA funded the Tibetan resistance for 20 years, not out of any great love for Buddhism and Tibetan culture, but simply to harass the Commies.  Officially, that aid ended in 1974, but unofficially, who knows?  Then again, claims that HHDL has “closely co-operated” with the CIA for 50 years may be greatly exaggerated….I’d like to hear the Tibetan side of the story, as the Asia Times definitely slants towards China….hey, if you’re a small country that’s been overrun by a much larger one and you’re largely getting ignored, you take help where you can get it…

It is certainly peculiar to have GWB and the CIA on my side in a dispute.  Just goes to show that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, eh?

Tibet, the ‘great game’ and the CIA
By Richard M Bennett

Given the historical context of the unrest in Tibet, there is reason to believe Beijing was caught on the hop with the recent demonstrations for the simple reason that their planning took place outside of Tibet and that the direction of the protesters is similarly in the hands of anti-Chinese organizers safely out of reach in Nepal and northern India.

Similarly, the funding and overall control of the unrest has also been linked to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and by inference to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) because of his close cooperation with US intelligence for over 50 years.

more

and this piece suggests that China’s policy of waiting ’till HHDL dies so they don’t have to deal with the Tibet issue may backfire on them:

Cracks emerge in ‘Dalai Lama clique’
By Law Siu-lan

The symbolic Olympic flame for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, lit in Athens on March 24, arrived in Beijing on March 31. The traditional torch relay will soon travel to the rooftop of the world – Mount Everest – and Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, where anti-China protests by Tibetans took place early last month.

China has accused the “Dalai Lama clique” of attempting to sabotage the Olympic torch relay. The Dalai Lama immediately dismissed the charge. As a matter of fact, Tibetans in exile have split into various factions, and there are allegedly segments of radical youths that are plotting to sabotage the Beijing Olympics. Beijing, however, indiscriminately categorizes them all as under the “Dalai clique”, a classification that could only lead Beijing into misjudgments. 

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TURKISH TURKEYS

1 02 2008

Gee….in Turkey, the CIA-financed right-wing underground got so out of hand that their right-wing buddies in the military pulled off a coup to quiet things down…and the USA kept paying the bills, and weapons kept right on flowing out of NATO bases into the hands of Muslim extremists, and all the while the same right-wingers were moving heroin out of the Middle East and into Europe and, eventually, the arm of a junkie near you. Your tax dollars at work, folks…

from Consortium News:

Editor’s Note: Former FBI Turkish-language translator Sibel Edmonds alleges that shadowy intelligence relationships involving Turkey, Israel and the United States may have helped Pakistan obtain a nuclear bomb.

In an interview with the London Sunday Times, Edmonds said the Turks and Israelis planted “moles” in military and academic institutions to glean nuclear secrets that were eventually sold to Pakistan – and that U.S. officials have helped cover up related crimes. [See Sunday Times, Jan. 6, 2008]

Edmonds, who left the FBI in 2002, said she stumbled upon this corrupt network – which also may have involved money laundering and drug trafficking – when she was hired after the 9/11 attacks to translate a backlog of tapes dating back to 1997.

***

For several months, Turkey had been awash in dramatic disclosures connecting high Turkish officials to the right-wing Grey Wolves, the terrorist band which has preyed on the region for years. In 1981, a terrorist from the Grey Wolves attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in Vatican City.

But at the center of the mushrooming Turkish scandal is whether Turkey, a strategically placed NATO country, allowed mafiosi and right-wing extremists to operate death squads and to smuggle drugs with impunity. A Turkish parliamentary commission is investigating these new charges.

The rupture of state secrets in Turkey also could release clues to other major Cold War mysteries. Besides the attempted papal assassination, the Turkish disclosures could shed light on the collapse of the Vatican bank in 1982 and the operation of a clandestine pipeline that pumped sophisticated military hardware into the Middle East — apparently from NATO stockpiles in Europe — in exchange for heroin sold by the Mafia in the United States.

 

 





SIBEL EDMONDS SPILLS MORE BEANS; CIA (OR SOMEBODY) SPILLS MORE COCAINE

1 02 2008

An interview published on Alternet:

Ryland: Why has the US failed on this story so dramatically for 6 years?

Edmonds:  ….As you know, this case is spread over two administrations, and that appears to make it difficult for the reporters to cover the story. Even within one news organization you might have one journalist who wants to use the story to indict Clinton, and another who wants to use the story to bash Bush, and in the end neither of them write about the story because it doesn’t fit their partisanship, their ‘narrative’, so they just drop it altogether.

I had such high hopes for the alternative press, and they do a lot of good work, but partisanship repeatedly gets in the way there too, on both sides….

As you know, and this was even published in the White House press release on this issue, certain ‘Turkish private entities’ have been involved ‘in certain activities directly relating to nuclear proliferation.’ This includes supplying the A.Q. Khan network – which built Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, and also supplied North Korea, Iran and other countries – but as the recent Times stories indicate, so much more as well.

The White House press release states that all these issues have been resolved; that the Turkish government has addressed these issues, that the US government has evaluated these actions and that the US government is satisfied, and that all of this is secret, classified!

Given the track record of this administration in abusing classification and distorting intelligence, why on earth would we trust them with this? What is in the report? Is it truthful? Why is it classified? We saw these exact same people do the same thing in the late 80s when they enabled Pakistan to get nuclear weapons. Richard Barlow did his best to stop them then, but if Congress doesn’t hold hearings this time around the same thing will happen again. We should have stopped Pakistan then, but unless this ‘classified’ report is made public and the contents publicly debated, then the Barlow of today won’t even get the chance to debunk whatever is in that ‘classified’ report. What conceivable logic is there in classifying the details of how Turkey has cleaned up its act regarding nuclear proliferation? If they have, they should be proud of it!

Meanwhile, in Nicaragua, a plane full of cocaine gets busted, and it turns out from the registration number that this airplane belonged to Devon Leasing, a known CIA front group….

The CIA-linked tail number on the Beech 200, then, raises some serious questions as to the ultimate destination of the cocaine onboard as well. Similar questions have been raised about the planned destination of the nearly 4 tons of cocaine onboard the Gulfstream II jet that crashed in the Mexican Yucatan last fall. A CIA asset named Baruch Vega claims the Gulfstream II was part of a U.S. government operation (the Mayan Express) that utilized a well-known Colombian narco-trafficker turned informant named Jose Nelson Urrego.

Urrego was arrested on money laundering charges by Panamanian police about a week prior to the Gulfstream II’s crash landing. Urrego claims he worked for the CIA, according to Panamanian press reports — a fact Vega also confirms. Greg Smith, one of the owners of the Gulfstream II, according to its bill of sale, also has been linked to past ICE, DEA and CIANarco News reported previously. And the Gulstream II itself has been linked to past use in the CIA’s terrorist rendition program, according to European investigators. operations in Latin America,

Given these realities, attorney Mark Conrad, a former supervisory special agent with U.S. Customs, ICE’s predecessor agency, speculates that the Mayan Express operation is not controlled by ICE at all, but is, in fact, a CIA-run operation using ICE as a cover. He adds that the CIA has agents operating inside many federal law enforcement agencies utilizing what is known as an “official cover.”





THE CIA, THE ECONOMY, AND THE AIR

9 12 2007

Wow, so much going on in the world, so little time to talk about it.

Our “Truth in Strange Places” award this month goes to the CIA for joining the reality-based community and going public with its assesment that Iran has not had a nuclear weapons program for several years. Mr. Bush has denied that he knew this until recently, but his denials have the ring of a man attempting to convince his wife that he has no idea how those lipstick stains got on his collar, or a petulant three-year old declaring that there is too a monster under his bed. We may never know all the arm-twisting that went into this turn of events, but apparently we have US CENTCOM commander Admiral William Fallon to thank for preventing this particular apocalypse. Fallon made it clear during his Senate confirmation hearings that there would be no attack on Iran on his watch, and he appears to have kept his promise. Making this “no risk” risk assesment public has made the neocons’ war drum beat sound pretty hollow, although there is still some chance that Cheney and Bush may find other excuses to whomp the Iranian tar baby a good one.

Meanwhile, the US economy is being managed in such a way that it’s slowly spiralling downwards, rather than vanishing in a puff of smoke. There was a lot of anxiety at the end of November when the Dow approached the 12,500 mark, which is the point when computer-generated selloffs would have kicked in and precipitated a crash, but Abu Dhabai bought a chunk of Citicorp for 7.5 billion and the market’s been happy ever since. The Cheney-Bush administration came up with a window-dressing scheme that sounds good but will only help a small minority of those who are burdened with sub-prime loans. You can bet the troubled banks that made or bought the loans will get better treatment. All the while, the credit freeze set in motion by the collapse of the subprime pyramid scheme continues to spread. New construction and big business deals are grinding to a halt.

Nobody wants the dollar to die, because they’ve all got so many of them; but at the same time, they’re getting to the point where they don’t want any more of them. China had to put the brakes on its banks by telling them not to lend any more money. Sooner or later the hot air that’s keeping the dollar afloat is going to cool. The smart money is leaving the country, folks.

And the smart lungs are going to want to leave the planet in a few decades, if oil- and coal-burning executives and their allies in the US, Chinese, and Indian governments have their way. The Chinese shrug and say it’s our fault they’re building over 50 new coal-fired plants every year, and in the US there’s pie-in-the-sky talk of carbon capture. From Kansas to Shanghai, the CO2 emitting crowd is doing everything they can to keep doing things the way they always have. And if they do, says the IPCC, planetary CO2 levels will go off the charts, and the oceans will absorb so much carbon dioxide that they will become seriously acidic, killing off the plankton, diatoms, and seaweed that contribute about 70% of the planet’s oxygen. That would, duh, make it hard to breathe. Now, that’s the panel’s worst-case scenario, but the plain truth is that the IPCC’s report has been chided as too conservative by many scientists, because much of the data that has come in since the International Comission started writing its report indicates that the meltdown is speeding up. We can continue to live as we have, as long as we don’t mind starving, drowning, or possibly just plain smothering our great-grandchildren. Or, we can make radical changes in the way we live and give them a fighting chance. In this season, when so many people venerate a new-born baby, it’s something to think about.

music: Jackson Browne, Before the Deluge

The Dharma Bums The Writing On the Wall

Terry Allen, Xmas on the Isthmus





TRUST ME, I’M BUSTING YOU

8 10 2005

A friend of mine learned something surprising from a psychotherapist he befriended. “If I knew that some of your friends smoked marihuana, and I didn’t report them to the police, and it came out that I knew they used marihuana and hadn’t reported them, I could permanently lose my license.” As he inquired, he discovered that she was likewise obligated to turn in to the police any client of hers who admitted using marihuana.

Let’s leave aside for the time being the issue of the efficacy of what I would have to call Big Psychotherapy and its arsenal of prescription drugs, and just look at the question of what it means to be obligated to report marihuana use among people with whom you are supposed to be building trust in a a therapeutic relationship.

Something the government never seems to “get” is that you can’t expect to hear the truth from people if they know you will punish them for saying it. If you threaten people, they will tell you what you want to hear. That’s why physical torture doesn’t work. So why were they doing all that ugly stuff at Abu Gairab? Because humiliation breaks people better than pain does, that’s why. But I digress.

I am amused sometimes at the number of self-styled herbalists who don’t use marihuana and even talk against it—because it appears to be a herbal medicine that really, truly, unarguably, don’t need scientific statisitical studies to notice, WORKS. Those who have done scientific studies on it have found that it loosens neural pathways, making it harder for users to behave habitually—for better and for worse. Inasmuch as neurosis is basically ingrained habit, this should be tremendously interesting to psychologists, but inasmuch as it’s an unpatentable herb whose effects derive from the synergy of a complex array of compounds, and not simply the action of THC, there is no money in researching it, so the research is not going to happen. Thank you, for-profit medical system.

It seems that the law regards marihuana users as ipso facto incompetent—marihuana smoking parents are unfit to raise children, marihuana smoking judges are incompetent to interpret the law, and even minor traces of cannabis metabolites, which stay in one’s bloodstream for up to a month after ingestion, are evidence that one is too inebriated to drive a motor vehicle….like having “one drop” of “negro blood” in the old south, cannabis is considered a contaminant in any quantity.

That’s an interesting comparison, isn’t it? Pretty much everyone agrees it’s wrong to discriminate or even just mouth racial slurs about anyone anymore, except for a very few hard-core Republicans clustered around Bill Bennett, but most people, including most Democrats and even some who consider themselves to the left of the Democrats, have no problem characterizing all marihuana smokers as incompetent degenerates—in spite of the fact that about a third of the country has tried it and someplace between ten and twenty percent of us still smoke it, in spite of widespread drug testing that probably does more to cut consumption than peoples’ experience with the weed itself. And the country is not overrun with weed-puffing incompetent degenerates—the majority of incompetent degenerates I encounter are card-carrying members of the Republican and Democratic parties, lifting their cocktails high as they toast the prospect of a drug-free America.

Marihauna users, if they were not threatened by prosecution, would freely admit that most of the time the effect of marihuana is not much stronger than that of coffee. Like coffee, they would say, it helps them in a thousand different ways with energy and insight around work, family, creative endeavors and recreation. So just what is it that the government is so afraid of?

Almost fifty years ago, the CIA did widespread testing of a wide variety of psychoactive susbstances, from marihuana to LSD. Their final report on this research was so secret that all known copies of it were destroyed. I believe that if we could find out what was in that document, it would state that marihuana and the stronger psychedelics are too good at increasing peoples’ sense of self-worth and autonomy and too good at sharpening their insights into the foolishness of authority and are therefore too threatening to the corporate hegemony that the CIA is dedicated to protecting, and therefore must be suppressed at any cost.

The Green Party is dedicated to fostering individual self-worth and autonomy. That’s the only real way to build a stronger America—to allow people to find their own insight and inspiration, and band together as equals rather than as the ignorant minions of some charismatic know-it-all like George Bush or Bill Clinton. In the name of honest discourse, the drug laws must change.








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