Friday, November 16, 2012

How Societies Retreated From Trust and Responsibility for Each Other - The Path Through the Atomic Bomb

Seems like Oliver is telling the story  "The Untold History of the United States", beginning with how the atomic bomb transformed American Society , that I have been preparing to tell. 

Sven Lindqvist  (born 1932) has written a trilogy on this, taking the broader world view over a longer period beginning in 762 with the Chinese invention of gunpowder. The story in the third book, "The History of Bombing"  is told in an interesting way:

This book is a labyrinth with twenty-two entrances and no exit. While printed in a chronological order, it is recommended to be read according to themes, and thus skips around chronological with  " >>"  suggesting the order the numbered sections are recommended to be read.

Section 1.                                                                            BANG, YOU’RE DEAD

"Bang, you're dead!" we said. "I got you!” we said. When we played, it was always war. A bunch of us together, one-on-one, or in solitary fantasies -- always war, always death.
      "Don't play like that," our parents said, "you could grow up that way." Some threat --there was no way we would rather be. We didn't need war toys. Any old stick became a weapon in our hands, and pine cones were bombs. I cannot recall taking a single piss during my childhood, whether outside or at home in the outhouse, when I didn't choose a target and bomb it. At five years old of age I was already a seasoned bombardier.
      “If everyone plays war,” said my mother, “there will be war.” And she was quite right – there was.  
                                                                                                >> Section. 166

166.    [1939]  When the Second World War broke out on the first of September in 1939, I was seven years old and had just started school. Suddenly I realized my father was already an old man.  He didn't even know how to put out a firebomb. He wouldn't be able to get out of the cellar of a house that had collapsed, he had no idea how to hide in the forest and dig down into the snow. He was stuck back in the first World War, and if I wanted to survive the second, the responsibility would be all mine.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

It's always puzzled me how societies moved from mutual cooperation, that Charles Darwin alleged was the most important inheritable characteristic for survival, to an Ayn Rand, dog eat dog, every man for himself mentality. Yes, I realize that Thomas Hobbes, in his Leviathan, 1651 wrote:
               ".....there be no Propriety, no Dominion, no Mine and Thine distinct; but only that to be                 every mans that he can get; and for so long, as he can keep it.

A Thread of my own making, to give a sense of how Sven Lindqvist tells a story.

1803. [#35-p13] 
Malthus:  Principles of Population (1803). It is quite possible to solve Europe’s food shortages temporarily by exterminating the native populations of other continents.
“If the United States of America continue increasing, which they will certainly do, though not with the same rapidity as formerly, the Indians will be drive further and further back into the country, till the whole race is ultimately exterminated, and the territory is incapable of further expansion.”
But not Africa or Asia.

“To exterminate the inhabitants of the greatest part of Asia and Africa is a thought that could not be permitted for a moment.”
1869.  [ #45 p. 17 ]   
Charles Dilke:  Greater Britain (1869).   Bestseller

              “The gradual extinction of the inferior races is not only a law of nature, but a blessing to    

1961. [ #315 p. 149 ]
Several hundred professors: Open letter to US President Kennedy:
                “By buying a shelter program that does not shelter, and thereby believing that we can  
                   survive a  nuclear war, we are increasing the problem of war.”

Margaret Mead.  The U.S. was no longer trying to build a safe world, or even a safe country or a safe city. No, the family sought instead an illusory security by creeping into itself and pulling back from the world. The last station on that line was the little hole in the ground where the family ducked and covered under attack from nuclear weapons. 

Margot A. Henriksen:  Dr. Strangelove’s America:  Society and Culture in the American Age.
                “The armed, individual  shelter is the logical end of this retreat from trust and
      responsibility for others.”

Lindqvist, Sven:  TheHistory of Bombing.    1999  Translated 2001 by Linda Rugg. New Press

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tea Party Crashes: The Most Unpatriotic Act by Susan Lindauer

Posting here as facebook blocks link:

Tea Party Crashes: The Most Unpatriotic Act

by Susan Lindauer
The People's Voice
I confess that since November I've been holding my breath, watching the clock for how long Tea Party newcomers could hold out against the entrenched Republican elite on Capitol Hill. Collapse was inevitable, however I admit to feeling bitterly surprised at how rapidly they have thrown in the towel. For the record, most of the Tea Party quit their principles of liberty on February 14, 2011 – 20 days into the new Congress – when Tea Party leaders abruptly abandoned their opposition to the Patriot Act and voted to extend intrusive domestic surveillance, wire tapping and warrantless searches of American citizens. In so doing, they exposed the fraud of their soaring campaign promises to defend the liberty of ordinary Americans, and fight government intrusions on freedom. All those wide-eyed speeches that flowed with such thrilling devotions, all of it proved to be self-aggrandizing lies.
The Tea Party didn't even put up a fight. Briefly they rejected a sneak attack to renew three surveillance clauses of the Patriot Act on a suspension vote. That filled my heart with hope. One push from the Republican elite, however and they went down with a loud thud.
My disappointment is particularly acute. Rather notoriously, I am distinguished as the second non-Arab American to face indictment on the Patriot Act, after Jose Padilla.
My status was pretty close to an enemy non-combatant. One would presume that I must have joined some terrorist conspiracy? Or engaged in some brutal act of sedition, such as stock piling weapons and munitions to overthrow those crooks in Congress?
You would be wrong. I got indicted for protesting the War in Iraq. My crime was delivering a warm-hearted letter to my second cousin White House Chief of Staff, Andy Card, which correctly outlined the consequences of War. Suspiciously, I had been one of the very few Assets covering the Iraqi Embassy at the United Nations for seven years. Thus, I was personally acquainted with the truth about Pre-War Intelligence, which differs remarkably from the story invented by GOP leaders on Capitol Hill.
More dangerously still, my team gave advance warnings about the 9/11 attack and solicited Iraq's cooperation after 9/11. In August 2001, at the urging of my CIA handler, I phoned Attorney General John Ashcroft's private staff and the Office of Counter-Terrorism to ask for an "emergency broadcast alert" across all federal agencies, seeking any fragment of intelligence on airplane hijackings. My warning cited the World Trade Center as the identified target. Highly credible independent sources have confirmed that in August, 2001 I described the strike on the World Trade Center as "imminent," with the potential for "mass casualties, possibly using a miniature thermonuclear device."
Thanks to the Patriot Act, Americans have zero knowledge of those truths, though the 9/11 Community has zoomed close for years. Republican leaders invoked the Patriot Act to take me down 30 days after I approached the offices of Senator John McCain and Trent Lott, requesting to testify about Iraq's cooperation with the 9/11 investigation and a comprehensive peace framework that would have achieved every U.S. and British objective without firing a shot. Ironically, because of the Patriot Act, my conversations with Senator Trent Lott's staff got captured on wire taps, proving my story.
You see, contrary to rhetoric on Capitol Hill, the Patriot Act is first and foremost a weapon to bludgeon whistleblowers and political dissidents. Indeed, it has been singularly crafted for that purpose.
The American people are not nearly as frightened as they should be. Many Americans expect the Patriot Act to limit its surveillance to overseas communications. Yet while I was under indictment, Maryland State Police invoked the Patriot Act to wire tap activists tied to the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, an environmental group dedicated to wind power, solar energy and recycling. The DC Anti-War Network was targeted as a "white supremacist group." Amnesty International and anti-death penalty activists got targeted for alleged "civil rights violations."
All of these are American activists engaged in lawful disputes of government policy. All of them got victimized by the surveillance techniques approved by Tea Party leaders, because they pursued a policy agenda that contradicted current government policies. The Tea Party swore to defend the freedom of independent thinking in Congressional campaigns. One presumes those promises are now forgotten until the next election.
I cannot forget. I cannot forget how I was subjected to secret charges, secret evidence and secret grand jury testimony that denied my right to face my accusers or their accusations in open court, throughout five years of indictment. I cannot forget my imprisonment on a Texas military base for a year without a trial or evidentiary hearing.
I cannot forget how the FBI, the US Attorneys Office, the Bureau of Prisons and the main Justice office in Washington – independently and collectively verified my story – then falsified testimony to Chief Justice Michael Mukasey, denying our 9/11 warnings and my long-time status as a U.S. intelligence Asset, though my witnesses had aggressively confronted them. Apparently the Patriot Act allows the Justice Department to withhold corroborating evidence and testimony from the Court, if it is deemed "classified."
I cannot forget threats of forcible drugging and indefinite detention up to 10 years, until I could be "cured" of believing what everybody wanted to deny – because it was damn inconvenient to politicians in Washington anxious to hold onto power.
Some things are unforgivable in a democracy. The Patriot Act would be right at the top of that list. Nobody who has supported that wretched law should ever be allowed to brag of defending liberty again. That goes for the Tea Party. By voting to extend surveillance of American citizens, they have abandoned the principles of freedom that brought about their rise to power. They have shown their true face.
It is a face that we, the people, will remember. I, for one, have no intention of allowing them to forget.
Reprinted with permission from The People's Voice.
February 17, 2011
Susan Lindauer is a whistleblower indicted under the Patriot Act. She is the author of Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

On the ethics of the military coming to a public university and asking for help building weapons to kill peope

Letter by Herbert J. Hoffman, Phd describing the USAF recruitment effort at the University of New Mexico. Forward to the Stop the War Machine members.

So far the Daily Lobo on campus has refused to run this letter from Herb.

Dear Editor:

I saw your article on the Air Force meetings being held at the UNM Engineering Center and attended the last one (Friday, February 24, 2012).  Given the venue, I was appalled at what I saw and heard.

For two hours Air Force Officials gave power point presentations on their projects related to war in space and talked about: the need to harden space electronics against radiation from nuclear weapons explosions; how to solve power and size problems for future space weapons; on the need for new high tech weapons that would allow the war-fighter to get around treaty restraints on the rules of engagement in countries abroad.

In the final presentation one chart presented how successful the Air Force has been in reaching out to get high school students involved in becoming future partners in war research.

At the conclusion of the program, I asked a question about the ethics of the military coming to a public university and asking for help building weapons to kill people.  Then the most amazing thing happened.

The Air Force official on stage and then several UNM officials jumped up to say that was not what they were doing, that they were just trying to build better things like GPS systems and involve the University in basic research [somehow not related to the explicit mission of the Air Force]. Apparently they thought I did not know what I had witnessed and heard.

This is an example of  the corruption of truth that occurs when military research which is based around classified information, secrecy and deception enters a public campus which is by its mission trying to work in a transparent manner to increase the education of citizens and create knowledge.

I was astounded that military and university officials would just outright misrepresent what I had just witnessed them doing.  I thought they might try to use the greater national defense theory argument or the theory there is financial support for the university in doing this war research, but they all just outright tried to deny what they were doing and presenting -- seeming to think that was ok.

When we realize that the new National Defense Authorization Act, just signed by the president, which authorizes the military to detain without a warrant and to hold American citizens without trial for an indefinite time if they are considered a threat to the country, we need to be alert to the danger each of us faces.

In light of this development we have to take even more seriously what the university is doing in this partnership.

When we consider that already existing space capabilities with satellites and drones in use by these military officials have assassinated American citizens abroad along with countless numbers of other people it is not wise to allow this kind of lying, propaganda presence on campus.  It is a short step from what is being done with our endless wars abroad to targeting people on campuses all in the name of national security.  What these research projects involve are building the kind of technologies that could be used to do just that.

It is time that the university community and the civic community had a serious discussion and dialogue about the role of and risks to UNM -- and other institutions of higher learning -- in developing partnerships with the military.

I just came across a quote that frames much of my concern:

"Our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear."
                          General Douglas MacArthur


Herbert J. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Member, Veterans for Peace

Thank to Herb for attending that session, and for sharing with us what you experienced. Thank you, Robert, for forwarding that letter to SWM. I hope you will consider also forwarding that letter to the University President, and each of the UNM Regents. Common Dreams, Counterpoint, Russ Baker, David Swanson might also be interested in giving the public information it should have that a student organization is not (at least yet) willing to help disseminate.

Folks might be interested in what the International Congress for the Education of Engineers, convened at the Technical University of Darmstadt  in the Spring of 1947 had to say on the
"ethics of the military coming to a public university and asking for help building weapons to kill people."

and on recruiting university engineering students for the purpose of developing
"new high tech weapons that would allow the war-fighter to get around treaty restraints on the rules of engagement in countries abroad. "

The possibilities of happiness for human beings through the progress of technical sciences are beyond doubt. But equally real is the memory of the horrors of the recent past, is the worldwide fear of the utter destruction of all life by technical means - two deeply problematic aspects of technical science. The Technical University was particularly concerned with the definition of the task of the engineer in this problem, and this inevitably required the definitive statement that those who do creative work in technical science must be assisted to reach a state of mind and character which enables them to be more aware than in the past of the perils to their work, and to fulfill their moral obligations by learning to understand the exclusively humanitarian aspects of their profession and their grave responsibilities.


What does UNM offer to its students to help them realize their ethical and moral responsibilities to work for humanity, in serving mankind, rather than for autocracy and predation

Friday, February 3, 2012


A Dutch documentary about America and its endless wars and "warriors".

Beer is Cheaper Than Therapy
The Netherlands 2011, 55/78 min., HD
A Zeppers Film & TV Production
by Simone de Vries


‘I'm 22 years old and I must have killed 30 people. The same thing that you were given badges for, over in Irak, you would be considered a serial killer over here. That's a very weird thought to have running around in your head when it's dark, going to sleep or late at night.’
There is no place for doubt, sadness and fear in the American army. Back home, many soldiers struggle with these feelings. Beer is Cheaper than Therapy portrays what goes on behind the facade of heroism and the 'John Wayne mentality'.