The Conceited Empire

Saw this linked over on Metafilter, a good interview with historian Emmanuel Todd:

Assuming you are right: how did this budding empire slide so quickly into decline?

A rift has been developing, slowly at first and then more quickly, between the US and their various geo-political areas of interest. During the early 1970’s a deficit in the balance of trade began to open. The US assumed the role of consumer and the rest of the world took on the role of producer, in this increasingly unbalanced global process. The balance of trade went from a deficit of $100 billion in 1990 to $500 billion annually at present. This deficit has been financed through capital flowing into the US. Eventually the same effect experienced by the Spanish in 16th and 17th centuries will come to bear. As gold from the New World flooded in, the Spanish succumbed to decreasing productivity. They consumed and dissipated, lived high and beyond their means and fell into economic and technological arrears.

But America is still the leading example of economic and technological competence.

When I speak of the economy, then I mean the industrial core and the associated technological cutting edge, not the anemic New Economy. It is in the core industrial sphere that the US is falling dramatically behind. European investors lost billions in the US during the nineties, but the US economy lost an entire decade. As recently as 1990 the US was still exporting $35 billion more in advanced technology than it was importing. Now the balance of trade is negative even in this field. The US is far behind in mobile communications technology. The Finnish Nokia is four times the size of Motorola. More than half the communications satellites are being launched with European Ariane rockets. Airbus is about to surpass Boeing — the most important transportation medium for personnel traffic in the modern global economy is about to be manufactured primarily in Europe. These are the things that are ultimately important. These are by far more vital and decisive factors than a war against Iraq.

Origin of the Goering Quotation

Via WhatReallyHappened.com via Snopes.com:

    Sweating in his cell in the evening, Goering was defensive and deflated and not very happy over the turn the trial was taking. He said that he had no control over the actions or the defense of the others, and that he had never been anti-Semitic himself, had not believed these atrocities, and that several Jews had offered to testify in his behalf. If [Hans] Frank [Governor-General of occupied Poland] had known about atrocities in 1943, he should have come to him and he would have tried to do something about it. He might not have had enough power to change things in 1943, but if somebody had come to him in 1941 or 1942 he could have forced a showdown. (I still did not have the desire at this point to tell him what [SS General Otto] Ohlendorf had said to this: that Goering had been written off as an effective “moderating” influence, because of his drug addiction and corruption.) I pointed out that with his “temperamental utterances,” such as preferring the killing of 200 Jews to the destruction of property, he had hardly set himself up as champion of minority rights. Goering protested that too much weight was being put on these temperamental utterances. Furthermore, he made it clear that he was not defending or glorifying Hitler.

    We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.
    “Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

    “There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

    “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict

The Complete Text of The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict Published by Jews for Justice in the Middle East

The 1967 War and the
Israeli Occupation of the
West Bank and Gaza

Did the Egyptians actually start the 1967 war, as Israel originally claimed?

“The former Commander of the Air Force, General Ezer Weitzman, regarded as a hawk, stated that there was ‘no threat of destruction’ but that the attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria was nevertheless justified so that Israel could ‘exist according the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.’…Menahem Begin had the following remarks to make: ‘In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.’ “Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

Was the 1967 war defenisve? – continued

“I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to The Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it.” Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s Chief of Staff in 1967, in Le Monde, 2/28/68

Cold war American propaganda

Documentation on Early Cold War U.S. Propaganda Activities in the Middle East from the National Security Archive.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Security Archive at George Washington University today published on the World Wide Web documents concerned with an early Cold War campaign to win hearts and minds in the Middle East, launched 50 years before current efforts to achieve United States “public diplomacy” goals in the region.

    Soon after the events of September 11, the administration of George W. Bush announced a wide-ranging campaign to improve the image of America in Arab countries and in the greater Muslim world. One year later, its results appear unimpressive: a recent Pew Research Center poll found increasingly unfavorable international views of the U.S., “most dramatically, in Muslim societies.”

    The documents collected here describe an earlier program to expand and revitalize American propaganda directed at the Middle East, and the methods that were utilized, including graphic displays, manipulation of the news, books, movies, cartoons, activities directed at schools and universities, and exchange programs. U.S. propaganda efforts were assisted by collaborating governments, the news media, academics, publishers, and private associations. The documents show that many of the factors that generated resentment of the U.S. during the 1950s, and that impeded the effectiveness of U.S. propaganda, have persisted into the 21st century.

More recent history on Iraq

Good resource: Country Study & Country Guide for Iraq:

    Concern about the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan prompted Iraq to reexamine seriously the nature of its relationship with the United States. This process led to a gradual warming of relations between the two countries. In 1981 Iraq and the United States engaged in lowlevel , official talks on matters of mutual interest such as trade and regional security. The following year the United States extended credits to Iraq for the purchase of American agricultural commodities, the first time this had been done since 1967. More significant, in 1983 the Baathist government hosted a United States special Middle East envoy, the highest-ranking American official to visit Baghdad in more than sixteen years. In 1984, when the United States inaugurated “Operation Staunch” to halt shipment of arms to Iran by third countries, no similar embargo was attempted against Iraq because Saddam Husayn’s government had expressed its desire to negotiate an end to the war. All of these initiatives prepared the ground for Iraq and the United States to reestablish diplomatic relations in November 1984.

    In early 1988, Iraq’s relations with the United States were generally cordial. The relationship had been strained at the end of 1986 when it was revealed that the United States had secretly sold arms to Iran during 1985 and 1986, and a crisis occurred in May 1987 when an Iraqi pilot bombed an American naval ship in the Persian Gulf, a ship he mistakenly thought to be involved in Iran-related commerce. Nevertheless, the two countries had weathered these problems by mid-1987. Although lingering suspicions about the United States remained, Iraq welcomed greater, even if indirect, American diplomatic and military pressure in trying to end the war with Iran. For the most part, the government of Saddam Husayn believed the United States supported its position that the war was being prolonged only because of Iranian intransigence.

    Data as of May 1988

Some perspective on Iraq

It’s always good to have some background information and context. Turns out the US policy of ‘regime change’ in Iraq is nothing new. We’ve been getting our hands bloodied on Iraqi soil for decades.

How the CIA put the Baath in power in Iraq:

    The Baath first came to power in 1963, in a coup organised by the CIA They overthrew the regime run by Abd al-Karim Qassim, a nationalist army officer.
    The coup, and the reasons why the CIA supported it, are described by journalists Andrew and Patrick Cockburn as follows:

    In early 1963, Saddam had more important things to worry about
    than his outstanding bill at the Andiana Cafe. On February 8, a mil-
    itary coup in Baghdad, in which the Baath Party played a leading
    role, overthrew Qassim. Support for the conspirators was limited. In
    the first hours of fighting, they had only nine tanks under their con-
    trol. The Baath Party had just 850 active members. But Qassim
    ignored warnings about the impending coup. What tipped the bal-
    ance against him was the involvement of the United States. He had
    taken Iraq out of the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact. In 1961, he threat-
    ened to occupy Kuwait and nationalized part of the Iraq Petroleum
    Company (IPC), the foreign oil consortium that exploited Iraq’s oil.
    In retrospect, it was the ClAs favorite coup. “We really had the ts
    crossed on what was happening,” James Critchfield, then head of the
    CIA in the Middle East, told us. “We regarded it as a great victory.”
    Iraqi participants later confirmed American involvement. “We came to
    power on a CIA train,” admitted Ali Saleh Sa’adi, the Baath Party sec-
    retary general who was about to institute an unprecedented reign of
    terror. CIA assistance reportedly included coordination of the coup
    plotters from the agency’s station inside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad
    as well as a clandestine radio station in Kuwait and solicitation of
    advice from around the Middle East on who on the left should be
    eliminated once the coup was successful. To the end, Qassim retained
    his popularity in the streets of Baghdad. After his execution, his sup-
    porters refused to believe he was dead until the coup leaders showed
    pictures of his bullet-riddled body on TV and in the newspapers.

    The above comes from “Out of the Ashes, The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein”, by Andrew and Patrick Cockburn, published by Verso, 2000.

The Chechen-Russian History

The fight for independence never ends.Conflict Between Chechens and Russia Is Steeped in Czarist Past, Stalin-Era Exile:

    MOSCOW (AP) – On his tough bricklayer’s fingers, Akhmad Arsamakov ticks off the members of his family who suffered under Moscow’s rule.
    Father deported by Stalin; grandfather joined a hopeless mountain rebellion against the Soviets in the 1940s; great-great grandfather led resistance to Czarist troops in the 1860s, was captured and then disappeared.

    “All of us suffered,” Arsamakov, 51, said. “But this is the story of every Chechen. Not ‘almost’ every Chechen. Every Chechen.” …

    “Russia spreads lies about us,” he said, his steady gaze growing more intent. “They say we were backward people before they conquered us. But we know we lived well and had a better life before the Russians.

    “And so we have self-confidence and have always had the desire to free ourselves from them.”

    Sharply etched folk memories of conflict with Moscow are a big part of being from Chechnya, a Muslim chip in the mosaic of ethnic groups that make up the North Caucasus. …

    The Chechens’ will to resist is often attributed to their “mountain democracy.” Councils of elders used to make most important decisions and settled disputes according to unwritten law. Courts, written laws and government were alien Russian imports.

    They had no aristocracy, meaning top-down authority played little role. Ties between members of extended clans and religious brotherhoods have been far stronger than allegiance to any central government.

    Chechens initially supported Soviet rule in 1918, thinking the Bolsheviks would be better than the Czars. When they learned otherwise, they staged uprisings in 1920, 1929 and 1940, with a few fighters holding out in the mountains into the early 1950s.

Just a reminder

That plane crashes are often not coincidental accidents. Found at whatreallyhappened.com:

    [From *The Spotlight*, Feb. 14, 1994]

    What really happened during the infamous “Watergate plane crash”
    at Chicago’s airport on December 8, 1972?

    United Airlines flight 553 out of Washington, D.C. exploded while
    landing in Chicago. Aboard were 12 people who were connected in
    some way to the burgeoning Watergate scandal. Among the victims
    was Dorothy Hunt, wife of former CIA man (and Watergate burglar)
    E. Howard Hunt.

    Evidence indicated the plane was sabotaged, but independent
    investigator Sherman Skolnick made headlines when he charged
    thatthe sabotage had been covered up by the government.

    Skolnick discussed his findings when he was the guest on the
    December 23 broadcast of *The Spotlight*’s nightly radio call-in
    talk forum, Radio Free America, with host Tom Valentine.

    At the time of the crash, Valentine was a journalist working in
    Chicago and became acquainted with Skolnick during the furor over
    the loss of flight 553.

    According to Valentine, “It was the flight 553 affair that really
    convinced me this government was corrupt. I was a meat head and
    believed in our government. I knew the medical establishment
    was corrupt, but this really convinced me the government was

    Skolnick, who has been a regular guest on Radio Free America, and
    who is an adviser to Liberty Lobby’s Populist Action Committee,
    has a recorded five-minute commentary (changed several times a
    week) that people may call 24 hours a day at regular long-
    distance rates. The number is (312) 731-1100. Skolnick’s recorded
    message brings periodic updates on matters the investigator and
    his research team are working on.

    An edited transcript of Valentine’s interview with Skolnick

    VALENTINE: The Watergate plane crash is the first investigation
    you and I worked on together.

    SKOLNICK: This subject is one of the great forbidden subjects of
    this country. You are not supposed to talk publicly about
    airplanes that have been sabotaged. If sabotage is ever brought
    up, it’s always in some foreign country where a bomb blows up the

    VALENTINE: Then the loss of the United Airlines flight 553 was
    not just fog or pilot error or something like that.

    SKOLNICK: In the history of aviation there have been a number of
    situations where there was actual sabotage — not necessarily a
    bomb — and that sabotage put the plane down and killed people
    for political reasons.

    I started writing a book about airplane sabotage right after the
    plane crash. I called it “The Watergate Plane Crash.” The reason
    why was because on this one plane were 12 people connected with
    the Watergate affair.

    The disaster happened exactly one month after Richard Nixon had
    been re-elected. The Watergate affair had started, but it was not
    widely known at the time.

    Former CIA man (and Watergate burglar) E. Howard Hunt, part of
    the so-called White House Plumbers, was under arrest. It later
    came out that Hunt was threatening to blow the lid off the White
    House if Nixon didn’t take care of him. Hunt wanted $2 million.

    What Hunt reportedly had was information tending to show that
    Nixon, who was in Dallas at the time John F. Kennedy was
    murdered, was complicit in the assassination. Hunt’s wife Dorothy
    was carrying around “hush” money to various witnesses in an
    effort to silence them about the Watergate affair.

    She was on flight 553, and this time she was traveling under her
    own name. She was so concerned about the baggage (which contained
    $2 million worth of cashier’s checks and money orders, which some
    astute people could have traced back to the Nixon White House)
    that she bought an extra first class seat for her baggage (and
    the valuables therein).

    The press later said there was only $10,000 in her possession,
    but that was false. We know about this because of records of the
    National Transportation Safety Board which had the manifest of
    the airplane.

Who’s the bad guy now?

I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

  • U.S. Conducted Open-Air Biological, Chemical Weapons Tests in State
  • US tested chemicals on its forces: This isn’t even to mention the radiation Americans were subjected to during WWII. Sixteen newly declassified reports describe how chemical and biological exercises used deadly substances such as VX and sarin to test the vulnerability of forces.

  • Secret police throughout history

    A police state needs it secret police to quietly maintain domestic ‘order’ and to hold onto power. Believe it or not, the police state was not invented by the U.S. *chuckle* Power has always been paranoid and obsessive about domestic revolution and disobedience. This obsessiveness is one of the reasons why secret police are so common around the globe and throughout history. Remember the Black Iron Prison? Men in black with iron-shod boots knocking on your door in the dark of morning.

    • OprichninaSecret police of the Tsars, especially Ivan the Terrible. The oprichniki constituted a security police whose relentless aim was to purge the land of treacherous elements. Ivan’s victims suffered heartless torture. Many were drowned or strangled or flogged to death; some were impaled, others roasted on a spit, still others fried in large skillets. The entire city of Novgorod was put to torture on the charge that its archbishop was planning to hand over the city to the Lithuanians. Sixty thousand of its citizens were butchered in a week-long orgy. But churchmen, boyars, and merchants whom Ivan suspected of treason were not the only ones to suffer. His favorites, the oprichniki leaders, died in an agonizing torture more fiendish than anything they had devised for their victims.
    • The ChekaSecret police of the Bolsheviks. (VChK; Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counterrevolution and Sabotage) 1917-1922. From this point the Cheka initiated a period of mass executions of people not based only on their specific actions, such as sabotage, but also for their beliefs and class origins. In reprisal for the assassination of the German ambassador, the Cheka executed 350 Social Revolutionaries and 512 hostages were shot by the Secret Police after the assassination attempt on Lenin. It has been estimated that between 100,000 and 500,000 people were executed by the Cheka during the Red Terror.

      In addition to mass executions, the Cheka also initiated the infamous slave labor camps to imprison not only those considered undesirable but also people who happened to have the wrong class origins, most particularly the bourgeoisie. By the end of 1920 Soviet Russia had 84 of these concentration camps with about 50,000 prisoners. This prison system grew rapidly immediately following the Russian Civil War so that by 1923 the number grew to a total of 315 camps.

    • The GestapoSecret police of Nazi GermanyThe Geheime Staatspolizei (German for Secret State Police, abbreviated “Gestapo”) was formally organized after the Nazi’s seized power in 1933. Hermann G�ring, the Prussian minister of the interior, detached the espionage and political units of the Prussian police. And staffed them with thousands of Nazis. G�ring became the commander of this new force on April 26, 1933. At the same time that Goring was organzing the Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler was directing the SS (Schutzstaffel, German for “Protective Echelon”), Hitler’s elite paramilitary corps. In April of 1936 he was given command of the Gestapo as well, integrating all of Germany’s police units under Himmler.

    • SavakThe Shah’s brutal secret police force, Savak, formed under the guidance of CIA (the United States Central Intelligence Agency) in 1957 and personnel trained by Mossad (Israel’s secret service), to directly control all facets of political life in Iran. Its main task was to suppress opposition to the Shah’s government and keep the people’s political and social knowledge as minimal as possible. Savak was notorious throughout Iran for its brutal methods.
    • Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) – later Committee for State Security (KGB)Secret police of Stalinist RussiaThe NKVD broke prisoners down by intense interrogation. This included the threat to arrest and execute members of the prisoner’s family if they did not confess. The interrogation went on for several days and nights and eventually they became so exhausted and disoriented that they signed confessions agreeing that they had been attempting to overthrow the government.
    • The Stasi (Ministerium f�r Staatssicherheit)Secret police of Communist East Germany – Our own CIA has classified files it stole from the Stasi – The Stasi used a huge network of informants to repress the citizens of East Germany. It was not uncommon for members of families to spy on each other for fear of blackmail, as a result of physical threats and even because of monetary rewards from the secret police force. In the late �80s, the Stasi had nearly 175,000 official informants on their books, roughly one informant for every 100 people. (Some estimate the size of the �unofficial� Stasi informant force as nearly 10 times this level.) The Stasi maintained a force of over 90,000 uniformed and plain-clothes agents.
    • Shin Bet / MossadIsrael’s secret policeIn 1982, reports of torture became widespread following the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon, especially at the Ansar detention camp. An incident in 1984, however, became the turning point in precise documentation of torture in Israel. Majid and Subhi Abujumaa were beaten to death by the Israeli secret police (the Shin Bet) following a failed bus hijacking in Gaza. The truth that the cousins were murdered during interrogation, and not during the storming of the bus as the Israeli government had reported, only surfaced after an Israeli newspaper printed a photograph of one of the men being led away in handcuffs. This incident led to the Landau Commission investigation into the practices of the Shin Bet. The Israeli Government Commission documented the use of torture to obtain confessions from detained Palestinians, yet none of the convictions based upon such coerced confessions reversed.
    • CIA(Central Intelligence Agency)/ FBI(Federal Bureau of Investigation)/ SS (Secret Service)/ NSA (National Security Administration)America’s secret police – We have more than anyone else. In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been operating as a secret police force. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal a history of domestic political spying on famous authors such as Ernest Hemingway, on civil-rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and on a wide variety of legitimate organizations. These domestic counterintelligence programs (COINTELPROs) used infiltration, eavesdropping, and disinformation campaigns to harass and destroy such groups as the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement.