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em·pire
ˈemˌpī(ə)r/
noun
an extensive operation or sphere of activity controlled by one person or group

Which country has more foreign military bases than any country in world history?

Which country spends more on violence and domination than the rest of the world combined?

Which country has overthrown or attempted to overthrow some 60 governments, most of them democracies?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MLK, Jr: Riot is the Language of the Unheard

And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.
Corporate news outlets casually refer to protesters in Hong Kong, Ukraine (or anywhere protests occur outside the US empire) as “pro-democracy protesters”, and other positively charged terms.
When people protest in ways that could serve to expand US hegemony, US agencies even provide material, political, and violent support, despite Lyndon Johnson having implicitly admitted the compromising nature of doing this when he said, of anti-Vietnam-invasion protests, “Get me some commie money and organizers behind this student shit”.  He understood that exposing, or in his case lying about, foreign money behind protests was a way to try to discredit them.
In the case of the Ferguson protests, they have no foreign motivation.  They are part of a process that began when slaves were brought to this land by white fascists and used against their will to help exterminate the indigenous peoples who had lived here for thousands of years, and to help, also against their will and for no pay, establish the US economic base.
In the mid 1800s, the US “supreme court” (these names always remind me of KKK terms like “grand high dragon”) officially determined and ruled into US law that blacks were sub-humans and slavery was for their benefit.  (Dred Scott)  The sentiment is common by exploiters, and was similar to when the colonists had earlier stated that they were helping the Native Americans, when in fact they would probably not have survived even the first winter if it were not for the Natives helping them.
Even when slavery was “officially” ended after the Civil War, it continued, as being black in America was essentially outlawed so that blacks could be imprisoned and still used as virtual slave labor, a practice which continues today in a prison system that disproportionately targets people of darker complexion (as, by extension does the US/western led international “justice” system, which focuses mainly on Africans).
Harsh de jure segregation existed on the books until very recently, in both the North and South.  Onedocumentary I recently viewed showed the government mandated racism during WW2.  To the dismay of dedicated black fighters, German POWs were treated better than blacks fighting on the US side – both volunteers and conscripts – simply because of the Germans’ white complexion.
At that time, there were massive KKK marches in DC.  Lynchings were so common and “legal” segregation was so harsh that 20% of blacks said they thought they would fare as well under Hitler as in the USA.  Lynchings occurred in the North and South.  They were joyous affairs in which entire towns would participate.  Kids would be pulled from school to watch, and people would take parts of the black person’s body – ears, noses, etc. – as mementos.
The racist Jim Crow laws were official US policy until 1965.  They “mandated the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated, as were federal workplaces, initiated in 1913 under President Woodrow Wilson, the first Southern president since 1856. His administration practiced overt racial discrimination in hiring, requiring candidates to submit photos.”
It can’t possibly come as a surprise that such racism would not simply disappear.  Equal treatment under the law remains illusive.  Progress has been hard-won in the streets, and will continue to be pushed forward.
If anyone can find an example of a mainstream US news outlet referring to Ferguson protesters as “pro-democracy” or even “pro-justice”, “pro-equality”, or “pro-civil rights”, etc., please comment. 
Also please note it is not this author’s goal, while discussing extremely prevalent institutional and moral problems, to stereotype lawmakers or law enforcers as bad and/or racist.   
Robert Barsocchini is a researcher focusing on global force dynamics.  He also writes professionally for the film industry.  Here is his blog.  Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Jon Stewart “Partly Responsible” For Quite A Lot

Jon Stewart has written and directed a film about Iran’s criminal beating and imprisonment for five months of journalist Maziar Bahari.  Critic Joanne Laurier notes that Stewart, who is friends with Bahari, feels “partly responsible for the journalist’s troubles” because during Bahari’s imprisonment, he was questioned about a Daily Show segment in which he participated.

Stewart, along with and arguably to a greater extent than his fellow countrymen, is partly responsible for a lot more than that.  Our primary responsibility is for the actions of our own state, and the US has been torturing and committing terrorism against Iranians for over 61 years now, continuing today and projected far into the future.
While it is to be commended that Stewart shed light on an injustice, far worse is what we have allowed our own state to do to Iran (and many others).  We should be aware of this so we can try to understand the effects of and punish our own misdeeds to mitigate our ongoing and further, imminent crimes.
US-Iranian relations began in 1953 when the US overthrew Iran’s democracy by carrying out terrorist attacks.  Relations continue today through illegal US threats of force (terrorism, article II, UN charter), sanctions intended to harm Iranian civilians (terrorism), and plans for a possible US or US-client-organization re-invasion and mass murder operation to retake control of and loot Iran’s resources, space, and labor (terrorism, aggression, looting).
In 1953, US oil magnates used their armed force, the US government, to end Iran’s democracy and replace it with a monarchy.  The US barons then began looting 40% of Iran’s oil extractions; the remaining 60% were looted by Western Europe, whence US settlers originated.
While working towards developing nuclear energy with US support, the US/Iranian anti-democracy regime imprisoned, beat, tortured and/or murdered countless journalists, authors, educators, students, union organizers, and others.  One student recalled being shackled in a rancid cell and watching cockroaches, attracted by the open wounds inflicted on him by the terrorists, eat him alive.
The US was evil enough to produce special instructional film for its Iranian terrorist organization on such crucial topics as how to torture women.
Newsweek journalist John Barry has seen and described some of the US/Iranian regime’s recorded filth, which he refers to as “un-erasable pornography”.  While never mentioning the US role (perhaps allowing him to give a more honest account of his feelings), Barry notes of the films:
Even now, on bad nights, images surface.
It seemed endless. I have no words to convey the horror.
The film showed sequences of torture on living victims, men and women, all naked and shackled to what looked like a bed frame. A variety of techniques were demonstrated: cigarette burns to sensitive parts of the body, the effects of electricity, and then on into other savageries I shy from recalling. One technique shown on the film used water. The film was clearly professionally made. There was a commentary … explaining, among other things, the varying sensitivities of men and women to different techniques, with a filmed example to illustrate each lesson. This was an instructional film. These torture sessions were not even designed to elicit information. The film was intended to teach Savak [Iranian secret police] recruits.
Thankfully for the sake of knowledge and accountability, documentation of the US role is readily available.  For example, here is Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk in London’s The Independent, on August 9,  1998:
American intelligence … taught the Shah’s SAVAK secret police how to torture women; after the revolution, the Iranians found CIA film of these lessons.

SAVAK Logo
Historian William Blum notes that SAVAK was “created under the guidance” of the US and Israel and, “according to a former CIA analyst on Iran”, the US instructed SAVAK in torture.
(Dan Mitrione is one US terrorist who became personally notorious for demonstrating torture on live victims – homeless people – though his particular sessions served to maintain and expand the USA’s Latin American iron curtain.)
As an example of the “notoriously savage” techniques used by the US/Iranian regime, Barry notes in Newsweek:
…an Iranian exile … had gone from Jordan into Iran to try to organize unions. Savak caught him, surgically amputated his arms and legs, and sent his living trunk back to his family in Amman as a warning.
Once their iron curtain was thrown off, Iranians discovered certificates documenting people who had been tortured to death by the US implant:
…hundreds and hundreds of forms.
The US/Iranian regime committed so much terrorism against secular opposition to monarchy that it enabled the Islamic resistance to take the lead once the tyranny was overthrown.
Being kicked out angered US terrorists, so they swiftly teamed up with Saddam Hussein, re-invaded Iran, and killed a million Iranian citizens (US per-capita equivalent of over 4 million citizens), many with gas, as well as thousands of Kurds, many with gas, both arguably acts of genocide.  In 1988, US pirates, thousands of miles from their own territory, shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in commercial airspace, killing almost 300 people.  A nearby US commander who witnessed the shoot-down wrote an article saying he couldn’t believe what he was seeing – a fatal US attack on an obviously civilian plane.
But when the pirates returned home, they, including the one who commanded the act, were given a hero’s welcome and awarded medals, and VP Bush Sr. said of the attack, exhibiting his signature class, “I’ll never apologize for America, ever.  I don’t care what the facts are…”  (The US soon thereafter, under Clinton, teamed up with Turkey for another genocide against the Kurds, then Bush Jr. perpetrated an illegal invasion of Iraq, the biggest crime of this century, that destroyed the entire region.)
Today, the US and its clients proudly murder Iranians, and US sanctions against Iran, like the illegal US sanctions against Cuba, are intended to, and do, harm Iranian civilians for political reasons – the textbook definition of terrorism.
While Iran’s actions against Stewart’s friend are inexcusable, the US and its clients are doing far worse to journalists, human rights activists, medics, whistle-blowers, etc., on an incomparably more massive scale, including arresting, censoring, imprisoning, torturing, and outright murdering them in cruel and unusual ways, such as complete dismemberment, bleeding to death, and lashing with whips.  Israel has the most political prisoners of any country in the Middle East, and NATO member/US client Turkey, according to a 2011 HRW report, has more journalists in prison than China (though no one in the world - apart from US drone base/Western colonial piracy victim the Seychelles - competes with the US in terms of percentage of population kept in cages against their will).
Saudi Arabia, much worse than Iran and a major US client since the 1930s, doesn’t even pretend, as Iran, the US, China, and others do, to have “democratic” procedures that do nothing but entrench dictatorship.  It’s simply another of the straight monarchies US terrorists love to install and/or support.  Saudi Arabia imprisons and tortures people for Tweets and other social media comments.  It recently sentenced a blogger to ten years in prison and torture by one thousand lashes, and was also recently caught giving its prisoners ultimatums to either stay in Saudi dungeons or join the unpopular, US-backed “rebels” fighting to overthrow Syria (as part of an operation to conquer Syria the US began in 1948 and continues today).
What does the brave hero Obama do in the face of one of his biggest clients behaving this way?  Showers them with an unprecedented amount of rewards, sending the corrupt Saudis the biggest shipment of lethal weapons in US history, which Obama did in 2013.
The US runs a global torture network involving over 50 nations.  In just the last ten or so years, scores have been mercilessly beaten, imprisoned, and tortured, including to death, including around a hundred tortured to death by the US alone, including people marked in official documents as civilian or “n/a”.
Aside from the US, the top ten foreign organizations that receive US funds are also all torturers.
The USA has targeted and killed or tortured tens of thousands of civilians for “crimes” including writing, speaking, educating, whistle-blowing, striving for democracy/independence, and defending themselves or their countries from US looting and exploitation.
Here is a specific case for which Stewart (and all US citizens) are “partly responsible”.  Perhaps it could be the subject of Stewart’s next film.
In 2003, US terrorists abducted Khalid El-Masri in Macedonia, anally raped with an object and beat him as part of a terror-inducing procedure, then took him to one of innumerable US torture-holes, this one called “the salt pit” (which appropriately sounds like something from a horror film like Saw), where they continued to beat and interrogate him for over a year, giving him just enough rations and “putrid” water to survive, until he couldn’t take it any more and tried to starve himself to death until he was finally released because the USA figured out he was just some random, innocent family man they had kidnapped, who had nothing to do with anything involving politics.
Why did the US drag this poor man down to its level for over a year?  Because his name was similar to the name of one of countless suspects the US wanted to torture and interrogate without trial or access to a lawyer, and US terrorists had “a hunch” that Khalid was the right guy.  Literally.
It makes sense for Stewart to feel partially responsible for Bahari’s brutal five month ordeal.  Anyone who provided a platform for people to speak out about the US/Iranian terror regime may likewise have felt somewhat responsible for what happened when and if the US surrogate got hold of the person.  But, clearly, dissent should not have been avoided.
Julian Assange (whom Stewart has “cynically and viciously attacked”) must feel somewhat responsible for Obama’s pre-trial condemnation, torture, and imprisonment of whistle-blower Chelsea Manning (pre-trial imprisonment exceeded legal limit by approximately 1,400%), followed by Manning being sentenced to 35 more years of imprisonment, after which she will be 60.  But, obviously, Assange should not have buried Manning’s revelations.
Perhaps the Catholic Church felt somewhat responsible for the murder of Father Óscar Romero, who spoke out against US-backed torture and assassination, and was assassinated by US-trained and supported terrorists in a chapel while delivering mass.

US Terrorist Training/Aggression Camps Surrounding Iran
While Stewart may not be able to help feeling more responsible for someone he happens to know than for hundreds of thousands of US victims treated worse than Bahari, he should still make the bigger picture abundantly clear.  This would help avoid reduction to propaganda that serves the ongoing, barbaric US terror campaign against Iran, which is surrounded by US terrorist training and aggression camps, represented by stars on the map. 
To censure Iranian crimes today without acknowledging the shameful US role is similar to a parent condemning his teenager for misbehaving without mentioning that the parent physically abused the child for years.  This is maliciously self-serving at best and delusional at worst, though Stewart could perhaps also claim ignorance.  (The parent/child relationship is analogous here in terms of size and power, not maturity or knowledge.  Iran is an ancient civilization.)
Though he should be commended for speaking out against illegal practices by Iran, Stewart’s primary responsibility lies where it does for us all: we are each partly responsible for the actions of our own state, and, as a whole, one hundred percent responsible.
In the case of Iran’s beating and imprisonment of Bahari, we do, indeed, bear some responsibility: we let our state get away with overthrowing Iran’s democracy, installing a tyrannical monarchy, and killing over a million Iranians, many with gas – a grisly record of looting, terrorism, repression, murder, and mountains of corpses, that eventually led to the mistreatment of yet another journalist.
Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman, or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or “disappeared”, at the hands of governments or armed political groups.  More often than not, the United States shares the blame.
- Amnesty International
For a political comedian/analyst/TV-host more capable of balancing details with the big picture (with none of Stewart’s tribal reverence for homegrown terrorists like Barack and Hillary), see Lee Camp.
Robert Barsocchini is a researcher focusing on global force dynamics.  He also writes professionally for the film industry.  Here is his blog.  Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.
References:
Review of Stewart’s new film, plus comments on his superficial criticisms of and mindless praise for his own state, the world’s leading criminal organization, and his attacks on people such as Assange
US plans for re-invading Iran directly or through proxy
US has been torturing, committing terrorism against Iran for over 60 years.  See, for example: 12
Further blum quotes, ibid.
Dan Mitrione’s torture of homeless people as instruction for US anti-democracy regimes in Latin America
US sanctions against Iran meant to target, harm civilians for political reasons; definition of terrorism (1,23)
USA has targeted and killed or tortured tens of thousands of civilians for “crimes” including writing, etc. (see, for example, here and here)

‘Brothers, you are from the same people, you kill your fellow peasant… No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God… In the name of God then, in the name of this suffering people I ask you, I command you in the name of God: stop the repression.’ - Father Óscar Romero, and here

Monday, November 17, 2014

Relentless US Journalist who has Seen and Felt the Boot of Israeli Fascism is Returning to Palestine for More


Zebula Hebert
Journalist Zebula “Sha” Hebert has been “shot at, stabbed, pepper sprayed, maced, tear-gassed, tased, arrested, detained, beaten, and interrogated” while conducting his work.  He knows what repression feels like, which is why he is undertaking a highly ambitious project: in the wake of the recent US-backed Israeli assault, Hebert will return to Palestine and spend a year in Gaza.  He will conduct interviews with Gazans, publish reports, and ultimately write a book about his findings and experiences, all to help amplify the voices of a trapped refugee population being brutalized by the world’s most powerful aggressors.
Hebert conducted an interview with Robert Barsocchini forWashington’s Blog, to elucidate and spread the word about his upcoming journalistic endeavor:
RB: What personally motivates you to continue covering this topic?
ZH: The current global economic/military dynamic reduces entire nations, cultures, and peoples to prisoners and slaves in their own homes. Nowhere in the world is this more evident than in Palestine, though certainly it is happening and has happened many other places as well, including within the US. It takes only a small understanding of honest scholarship to see that the US was founded on the principals of ethnic cleansing, slavery, and genocide. The US is now supporting this same behavior in Israel (among other places). I believe that people who are conscious of the consequences of our own historical and contemporary atrocities ought to take a stand against their continuation. Having access to accurate information is a critical element.
RB: Why do you want to write this book now?  I imagine the latest assault on Gaza plays a role.
ZH: I have travelled to Palestine twice over the past ten years. While the latest assault on Gaza has been a highly visible abomination perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians, it is no greater a crime than the occupation itself, which has taken, broken, trapped, and ended countless lives and families since the Nakba [initial Israeli campaign of ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in 1948].
Gaza is an open air prison. The West Bank is not in much better shape. The timing does not have a correlation with the latest assault on Gaza. This is a standing issue.
Israel’s policy is now and always has been (despite their vigorous and effective PR campaigns and “peace talks”) not to ever make peace but to make life so miserable and traumatic that Palestinians will eventually just leave or die. I should state emphatically here that not all Israelis agree with their government’s policies; many of them actively fight to subvert Israeli policies. Nonetheless, they are annexing the West Bank with illegal settlements as we speak, killing and imprisoning at will. Despite their rhetoric we have to look at what they do, not what they say. And what they do and have always done suggests ethnic cleansing, not peace. When I look at it, I see the United States’ genocide against American Indians. Gaza and the West Bank are two big reservations and Palestinians who have Israeli “citizenship” within Israel are second class citizens.
RB: What will you encounter when you get to Gaza?
ZH: A people fighting for their very survival. A people pushed to absurd extremes economically, culturally, spiritually and physically, with the same unbreakable spirit so endemic to humanity.
RB: What are you going to do in Gaza?  Who are you going to talk to?  Where are you going to stay?  How long?
ZH: I will talk to anybody who wants to talk. Ordinary people, officials, mothers, fathers, the goldfish… whomever wants a voice. I will stay with friends and colleagues and anywhere I can. I will follow wherever the stories and interviews take me. Palestinians are some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met; I will not have trouble finding places to stay while I work. I will respond to leads, seek and find newsworthy stories and publish them on PNN [Palestinian News Network]. I will also work on my book. I will stay for as long as I can. My goal is at least one year.
RB: What resistance have you experienced previously while covering this and other topics?
ZH: In the course of covering and/or protesting state violence, I have been shot at, stabbed, pepper sprayed, maced, tear-gassed, tased, arrested, detained, beaten, and interrogated.I hate what violence does to the victim and the aggressor. I hate violence towards anyone, in any form, may it be economic, psychological, or physical. Still I believe, in spite of my hatred for violence, that people subjected to state violence have a right to defend themselves, by whatever means they have available.
RB: What do you think of mainstream US coverage of this topic?
ZH: I am constantly reminded how media in the US (which enjoys a “free press”) is actually just an advertisement for this or that idea, this or that policy, this or that politician. It isn’t news, its cheerleading. One need only research US reports through any major news outlet concerning the conflict (or any other conflict for that matter) to find a mind boggling absence of actual journalism. There is a terrifying lack of critical analysis within our national media apparatus which enables the status quo to continue.
RB: What do you hope to accomplish with this project?  What do you see as the viable end goal?
ZH: The viable end goal is to contribute to honest information dissemination concerning the occupation. I simply want to be a small part of the effort to end the travesty that is occurring daily.
What is happening now in the Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan, US support of Israel) is nothing new. It began with genocide against the indigenous of North America as well as economic and military domination throughout Latin America, then spread globally in many different forms. The result is always the same, millions upon millions suffer and die needlessly while Americans (well, some of us) thrive. If people can wake up to this and take responsibility for it, we can end the madness that we have birthed and start to build something better.
Critically, the people of Gaza must be heard in the one country that makes their subjugation possible and ensures its continuation: the United States.
To end the repression, US citizens need to learn about and care for Palestinians, and then pressure the US government to end its massive support for Israel until Israel decolonizes Palestine and ceases its human rights violations.   
To help achieve these very attainable goals, become part of Mr. Hebert’s effort to humanize Palestinians and bring more of their voices and stories to the United States and world.Mr. Hebert will carry out this mission on a shoestring budget of $8,000 dollars, and has created aKickstarter project so anyone can contribute towards raising these funds.  Let’s continue to show Gazans, all Palestinians, and the US government that we are against what is being done, and will continue to intensify our resistance until it stops.
Thank you, Mr. Hebert, for taking the time to talk to Washington’s Blog, and best of luck with your admirable undertaking.
Zebula Hebert studied Political Science at the University of Oregon and was a wild land firefighter for many years.  He has lived in Japan and Egypt, and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa.
Robert Barsocchini is a researcher focusing on global force dynamics.  He also writes professionally for the film industry.  Here is his blog.  Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.
Also published in Washington's Blog and Counter Currents.