Happy Imperial New Year
Happy Imperial New Year
â€œNOTHING TO KILL OR DIE FORâ€
As the last minutes of 2006 ticked away on the eastern coast of the
One hour later, I sat in my living room in
Most of the people were wearing read hats with yellow logos. The logos advertised Chevrolet trucks and automobiles, official sponsor of New Yearâ€™s Eve. In the upper left hand corner of the screen, NBC said â€œLIVE.â€ But it couldnâ€™t have been â€œliveâ€ coverage because
Here are some of the lyrics from â€œImagine:â€
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
â€œIF THATâ€™S WHAT THE MAJORITY OF [IRAQISâ€™] WANTâ€...
I am not naÃ¯ve enough to think that most (
American Population surveyed: 1,195 randomly selected non-institutional
1. Percentage who think the following should be a very important goal of
protecting jobs of American workers: 78%
preventing spread of nuclear weapons: 73
maintaining superior military power worldwide: 50
Help bring a democratic form of government to the others nations: 14
2. Ranking of popular support for expansion of government spending on following programs:
health care: 79%
aid to education: 69
Social Security: 65
Intelligence gathering on other nations: 43
defense spending: 29
3. Percentage of Americans who think US should have long-term military bases in the following nations:
4. Percentage of Americans who think the
5. Percentage of Americans who think the
6. Percentage of Americans who think has the responsibility to be the world's policeman: 20%
7. Percentage of Americans who think the
8. Percentage of Americans who favor the following means to combat terrorism:
- working through the UN to strengthen international law and make sure UN enforces int. law: 87%
- help poor countries develop their economies: 67
- make a major effort to be even-handed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: 64
- use torture to extract information from terrorists: 29
9. Americans' opinion on how the
- should put more emphasis on military: 23%
- should put more emphasis on diplomatic and economic methods, less on military methods: 45%
- current balance between the first and the second is about right: 26
10. Percentage of Americans who think the
- if the US has strong evidence that another country is acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that could be used against the US a some point in the future (Bush's de facto preventive war doctrine): 17%
- only if the
- only if the other country attacks first: 24%
11. Percentage of Americans who think US has the right to overthrow a government supporting terrorists who might pose a threat to the
- when the
- only with strong evidence of an imminent threat: 58%
- only with UN approval: 28%
12. Percentage of Americans who support use of nuclear weapons:
- never: 22%
- only in response to a nuclear attack: 57%*
- in certain circumstances even if we have not suffered nuclear attack : 19%
13. Percentage of Americans who think the US should be more willing to make international relations decisions within the UN even if this means the US will sometimes have to go along with a policy that is not it first choice: 66%*
14. Percentage of Americans who favor dropping the veto power granted to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, including of course the
15. Percentage of Americans who favor general compliance with the decisions of the
16. Percentage of Americans who favor giving the UN a standing peacekeeping force selected, trained, and commanded by the UN: 74%
17. Americans' comparative feelings of warmth towards the following international institutions on a scale of 1 to 100, with 50 signifying "neutral:"
World Health Organization: 60
International Human Rights Groups: 57
World Court: 50
World Trade Organization: 48
World Bank: 46
International Monetary Fund: 44
Multinational Corporations: 41
18. Percentage of Americans who think the
- nuclear weapons explosion test ban: 87%
- land mines ban: 80%
- International Criminal Court, with powers to try individual American military and other officials for war crimes even if their own country will not prosecute them of such crimes: 76%
- Kyoto Accord on global warming: 71%
More than two years ago, then, nearly 60 percent of Americans rejected permanent
...AND ITâ€™S WHAT THEY WANT
For what itâ€™s worth, surveys of Iraqis undertaken by the British Ministry of Defense and the
Contrary to dominant political and media rhetoric claiming that the
The heavily disseminated U.S. claim â€“ ritually repeated by elite â€œliberalsâ€ and â€œconservativesâ€ alike â€“ that we invaded Iraq in order to "spread democracy" is believed by probably no more than 1 percent of the Iraqi people. Iraqis have the strange idea that Uncle Sam invaded to take control of their petroleum reserves.
â€œYOUâ€ CITIZEN â€œCONSUMERSâ€ AND YOUR â€œDIGITAL DEMOCRACYâ€
The minute the Times Square ball hit the ground, signaling the passing of the last year, the communal, pacifist, anti-authoritarian and now obsolete (so â€œlast yearâ€) musings of Lennonâ€™s â€œImagineâ€ were replaced by the acquisitive boasts of Frank Sinatra in â€œ
Chevyâ€™s parent company General Motors prefers, I reflected, to make its cars in other, poorer countries because so many of the people wearing the red hats feel entitled to archaic things like a livable wage.
Just before Midnight, NBC talk-show host Carson Palmer reminded us that Time Magazine had proclaimed â€œYOUâ€ the â€œperson of the yearâ€ for 2006. This was the year in which â€œyou the consumerâ€ seized power in
The ironic smile on Palmerâ€™s face suggested that he knew this was an idiotic thing to say. The free speech relevance of the radical-leftist Internet newsletter you are currently reading is only slightly more impressive than your freedom to whisper to the person next to you in the front row of a giant movie theater. Corporate state media is the giant screen that makes you nearly inaudible to all but those sitting nearby.
â€œTHE WAITING [AND KILLING] GAMEâ€: THE â€œWAR WILL LIKELY CONTINUEâ€
Maybe Palmer was thinking about one of the cruder videos that went up on â€œYou Tubeâ€ near the end of the year. Or maybe (though this is not likely) he was thinking about how officially irrelevant the citizenryâ€™s real values are as far as the nationâ€™s corporate-imperial ruling-class is concerned. As Noam Chomsky noted in a recent ZNet interview with Michael Albert, â€œIraqi opinion is almost entirely disregardedâ€ by
As numerous polls show, most of the
None of this seems to matter all that much to the political class, even on the newly emboldened (one would think) â€œleftâ€ wing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Party. We have the new Madam Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi taking impeachment off the table in advance of her ascendancy to the third highest office in the land.
We have the deeply conservative, Harvard-pedigreed Barack Obama masquerading as a â€œprogressiveâ€ alternative and claiming that Democrats will be â€œpunished in â€˜08â€ if they seem â€œideologicalâ€ by "notâ€œworking with the president.â€ Obamaâ€™s recent book â€œThe Audacity of Hopeâ€ lectures Americans on their need to feel â€œempathyâ€ for â€œthe oppressors,â€ not just "the oppressed." It curries reactionary Caucasian favor by announcing that the â€œreservoirs of white guiltâ€ are now thoroughly â€œexhaustedâ€ and by claiming that blacks have moved into the American â€œsocioeconomic mainstreamâ€ â€“ a curious argument in a time when blacks are less than a tenth as wealthy as whites.
Speaking of being â€œideological,â€ Obamaâ€™s book declares that
In â€œAudacityâ€ and in a recent speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Obama eagerly casts down his bucket to take up the imperial White Man's Burden. He argues that Uncle Sam should resist the American citizenryâ€™s foolish desire to step back from maintaining an assertive posture of global supremacy.
We have Donald Rumsfeld, the disgraced (one would think) architect of the
We have the Bush administration planning to increase the
We have the following judgment from David Corn, a careful follower of Beltway politics, in the liberal-left weekly The Nation:
â€œanyone anticipating quick and decisive action from the Dems will have to keep on waiting. In the new Congress there will be much Iraq-related activity, but the Democrats will present no master plan to remove America from the debacle...Legislators can pass resolutions demanding that Bush remake his Iraq policy, but the Decider in Chief is free to ignore them...This spring the Bush White House is expected to ask for $100 billion or so for the war. But Democratic Senate and House leaders have said they have no interest in compelling a withdrawal by choking off funds. Representative Jim McGovern...has been pushing legislation for the past year that would defund the war. The House leadership, he says, â€˜does not have a lot of sympathy for this. Some Democrats do not want to be blamed for losing
We have local television news reporters still robotically chanting the doctrinal claim that local GIs killed in
And we have the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG) Report, which provides welcome political cover for imperialists of both business parties by pushing the big
They also recommend the passage of an Iraqi Petroleum Law that will hand the invaded nationâ€™s vast petroleum assets (what the ISG pointedly identifies as â€œthe worldâ€™s second largest known oil reservesâ€) over to predominantly American multinational corporations (see Antonia Juhasz, â€œSpoils of War: Oil, the U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area and the Bush Agenda,â€ In These Times, January 2007). As Mark Lannery, oil analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston told MSNBC in November of 2002: â€œ[If] itâ€™s your tanks that dislodged the regime and you have 50,000 troops in the countryâ€¦then youâ€™re going to get the best deals. Thatâ€™s the way it works. The French will have [a few] men and a 1950s tankâ€ (MSNBC 11/11/02, quoted in Norman Solomon and Reese Erlich, Target Iraq: What the News Media Didnâ€™t Tell You [New York, NY: Context Books, 2003], p. 111).
BLOOD FOR (THE CONTROL OF) OIL
The ISG Reportâ€™s release was a good time to review the â€œreal reason for the invasion.â€ As Chomsky notes:
After 1991, it is worth recalling,
As Antonia Juhasz noted in the most recent issue of In These Times, â€œplanning to secure Iraqâ€™s oil for U.S. companies began on the tenth day of the Bush presidency, when the Vice President Dick Cheney established the National Energy policy Development Group...It produced two lists, titled â€˜Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts as of 5 March 2001,â€™ which named more than 60 companies from some 30 countries with contracts for oil and gas projects across Iraq â€“ none of which were with American firms. If the sanctions were removed â€“ which was becoming increasingly likely as public opinion turned against the sanctions and Hussein remained in power â€“ the contracts would go to all of those foreign oil companies and the U.s. oil industry would be shut out...Two months after the invasion of Iraq, in May 2003, the U.S.-appointed senior advisor to the Iraqi Oil ministry, Thamer al-Ghadban, announced that the Iraqi government would honor few, if any, of the dozens of contracts signed with foreign companies under the Hussein regimeâ€ (Juhasz, â€œSpoils of Warâ€).
Dominant U.S. media has consistently joined the Cheney-Bush administration in denying the critical oil motivations behind Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.) while dutifully transmitting the preposterous Weapons of Mass Destruction claims and the related, equally ludicrous claims of a Saddam-al Qaeda link, and the frankly childish claims of Americaâ€™s interest in democracy promotion (see Paul Street, â€œBedtime Stories for the Bewildered Herd: Iraq War Fairy Tales in the Age of Never mind Media,â€ Z Magazine, January 2006).
Curiously enough, that same media has long claimed that petroleum concerns determine the policies of other countries regarding
Prior to joining the Republican presidential ticket in 2000, Cheney was so concerned over the â€œoil for foodâ€ restrictions on
It is by no means an accidental coincidence that the ISG report recommends the long-term presence of significant
The "Beacon to the World of the Way Life Should Be" (as U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson once described the
THE ORWELLIAN MANAGEMENT OF TWO PUBLIC DEATHS
The New Year came draped in the shadow of two great deaths: that of Gerald R. Ford and that of Saddam Hussein. The corporate-Orwellian media handled both fatalities in striking accord with the totalitarian axiom in Nineteen Eighty Four: â€œthose who control the present control the past; those who control the past control the future.â€
The fact that Saddam â€œcommitted most of his crimes when he was an ally of those who now occupy his countryâ€ was â€œconveniently forgotten,â€ as Tariq Ali notes. Meanwhile, ruling-class communications respectfully relayed Bushâ€™s laughable claim that the blatantly rigged and U.S.-ordered execution of Saddam was â€œa milestone on the road to Iraqi democracyâ€ â€“a judgment that finds little support among ordinary Iraqis (Tarig Ali, â€œConveniently Forgotten,â€ The Guardian, 1 January 2007).
Meanwhile, the dominant theme in â€œmainstream" mediaâ€™s handling of Fordâ€™s short White House reign (1974-76)was that the dead president deserved to be remembered (a) for helping the nation â€œhealâ€ after the "long national nightmare" of Watergate and (b) for (as the New York Times put it in a power-worshipping editorial on December 29th) "more than just the pardon."
One thing our â€œdigital democracyâ€™sâ€ news â€œconsumersâ€ didnâ€™t hear or see much of in â€œmainstreamâ€ retrospectives was that Ford pardoned Nixon not just for the limited Watergate crimes that led to Nixonâ€™s resignation (and thereby to Fordâ€™s unelected promotion to the oval office) but for any and all offenses committed as president. Ford also gave Nixon a Stay Out of Court (and Jail) Pass for the murderous and illegal invasion and bombing of
Ford justified his absolute pardon with the lovely theory that the
There is a perverse contemporary logic behind dominant media's repeated references to Ford's supposedly noble role in "saving the nation" and "marking the end of a national nightmare" by letting Nixon off the hook. That media has been letting the equally if not more impeachment- (and removal-) worthy Cheney and Bush II administration off the hook for six years (from its failure to fully cover the blatant Republican theft of the 2000 presidential election through and beyond its enablement of Team Bush's oil occupation). It is discouraging reasonable calls for the removal of Cheney and Bush on the grounds that another "impeachment drama" would "destabilize a nation that is already in shaky health" (to quote the Times' approving editors on the rationale behind Ford's Nixon pardon).
It's too much, of course, to ask "our" power-worshipping media to honestly reflect back on Ford's terrible roles in attacking
The media masters have repeatedly broadcast statements from some of our more Uncle-Tom-like citizens, who tell reporters they signed a Gerald Ford Condolence Book or traveled to
And now weâ€™re supposed to get all teary-eyed and bow our heads because of â€respect for the officeâ€ Because of our deep and heartfelt respect for authority as such...because of cringing deference to power. Yes, we are expected to cry one of our our ruling-classâ€™s dead white males a deferential river of tears while the current blood-soaked war criminals in power produce an ever-expanding new crop of unjustly slaughtered victims within and beyond Iraq.
Gerald Ford was rewarded with 92 years on this wonderful earth. On the Public Broadcasting System's Nightly News Hour, you can regularly see the quickly forgotten names and faces of a large number of mostly working-class Americans who didn't get to live past age 22. Their lives are cut short by an illegal, racist, and imperialist oil war ordered from above, by super-privileged chicken hawk members of the same dominant class that wants us to reflect on the humble greatness of the President who okayed the crucifixion of
Meanwhile, every spare billion dollars â€œweâ€ spend on the pursuit of â€œourâ€ mastersâ€™ imperial ambitions for controlling global oil is not spent meeting social and economic needs in disadvantaged communities that provide a disproportionate share of soldiers in the highly class-stratified U.S.
The most offensive thing of all is the differential value we are expected to place on peopleâ€™s lives in accord with their position in the nationâ€™s rigid structures of inequality.
CLASS INEQUALITY AND THE COSTS OF EMPIRE
It is always useful to remember the dark logic of class injustice that lay at the domestic heart of Empire. As Chomsky observed more than 36 years ago, â€œthe costs of empire to the imperial society as a whole may be considerable. These costs, however, are social costs, whereas, say, the profits from overseas investment guaranteed by military success are highly concentrated in certain special segments of the society. The costs of empire are in general distributed over the society as a whole, while its profits revert to a few within. In this respect, the empire serves as a device for internal consolidation of power and privilege and it is quite irrelevant to observe that its social costs are often great or that as costs rise, differences may also arise among those who are in positions of power and influenceâ€ (Chomsky, For Reasons of State [New York: New Press, 2003/1970], p. 47).
Future issues of this newsletter will reflect in some detail on the class-selective "homeland" costs and benefits of Empire. The next issue will make the (frankly slam-dunk) case for the impeachment and removal of Cheney and Bush. It will also address the corporate-imperial perversion of political language, paying special attention to the degraded public discourse surrounding the ongoing madness and mayhem in
â€œThe Empire and Inequality Reportâ€ is a bi-weekly news and commentary letter produced by veteran radical historian, journalist, and activist Paul Street (email@example.com), a noted anti-centrist political commentator located in the Midwestern center of the U.S. Street is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004), Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005), and Still Separate, Unequal: Race, Place, and Policy in Chicago (Chicago, 2005) Streetâ€™s next book is Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History (New York, 2007).