GOP Could Steal the Election
Still 77 Cents
The Food Ordeal
Syria and Civil War
Edward S. Herman
A Post Arab Spring
Christian Right Star
DO NO HARM
Loretta Capeheart's Battle
YEAR OF THE CO-OP
Are You Feeling Cooperative?
John e. Peck
Role of the Executive
Rio Earth Summit
A Coup Over Land
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Manufacturing Failed States
During the Vietnam War, a sign over one of the
Jan Knippers Black pointed out years ago in her book United States Penetration of Brazil (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977) that “national security” is a wonderfully elastic concept, expanding in accord with “what a nation, class or institution…thinks it should have,” with the result that it is those “whose wealth and power would appear to make them most secure who are, in fact, most paranoid, and who, by their frenetic attempts to ensure their security, bring on their own destruction.” (She was addressing the 1960s Brazilian threat of social democracy and its termination by a U.S.-supported counter-revolution and military dictatorship.) Add to this the search by the vested interests of the military-industrial-complex for missions to justify budget increases, and the mainstream media’s full cooperation in this search, and we have a frightening reality.
In reality, the fake-paranoid giant has had to struggle valiantly to produce more or less credible threats, especially with the fall of the “Evil Empire,” which this country had long been allegedly “containing.” Thank goodness that after relatively brief spurts of attention to narco-terrorism and then Saddam’s threatening weapons of mass destruction, Islamic terrorism came virtually out of nowhere to provide a successor threat, no doubt produced by hostility to
But, in addition to maintaining the killing and associated arms business at a high level, the
But there has been a fresh stream of failed states brought about by
Humanitarian intervention in
These manufactured failures have often had common features that show them to be a product of imperial policy and the projection of imperial power. One frequent feature is the rise and/or recognition of ethnic group rebels who claim victimhood, fight their government with terroristic acts, sometimes designed to provoke a violent government response, and who regularly appeal to the imperial powers to come to their aid. Sometimes foreign mercenaries are imported to aid the rebels and both the indigenous rebels and mercenaries are often armed, trained, and given logistical support by the imperial powers. The imperial powers encourage these rebel efforts as they find them useful to justify destabilizing, bombing, and eventually over-throwing the target regime.
This process was evident throughout the period of the dismantlement of
Al Qaeda was also one of the constituents of the freedom fighters engaged in the Libyan campaign and is now admitted, even if a little belatedly in the New York Times, to be a factor in the Syria regime-change program (Rod Nordland, “Al Qaeda Taking Deadly New Role in Syria Conflict,” NYT, July 24, 2012). Of course, it was a centerpiece in the regime change in Afghanistan and the basis of the “blowback” of 9/11 (bin Laden having been an important Saudi/U.S.-sponsored rebel, subsequently abandoned by those sponsors and later attacked, demonized, and killed by them).
These programs always involve serious “atrocities management,” whereby the government under attack is accused of major acts of violence against the rebels and their supporters and is by this process effectively demonized and set up for more massive intervention. This was very important in the Yugoslav breakup wars and possibly even more so in
Similarly, with NATO eager to attack
There are also purportedly independent human rights groups and “democracy promotion” entities like Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and the Open Society Institute that regularly get on the imperial bandwagon by featuring the violence of the targeted regime and its leaders. This also feeds into the mainstream media, the entire set providing the moral environment for more aggressive intervention on behalf of the victims.
This is helped still further by the fact that the atrocity claims and pictures of grieving widows and refugees, the seemingly compelling evidence on atrocities, and an establishment consensus on the “responsibility to protect” the victim populations, also affect liberal and left elements in the West, causing some to join the mainstream throng in denouncing the targeted regime and demanding humanitarian intervention, and many others to lapse into silence because of confusion and an unwillingness to be accused of “supporting the dictators.”
The argument of the interventionists is that while we may seem to be supporting an expanding imperialism, exceptions must be made where exceptionally bad things are happening and the home public is aroused and wants action, but we may show our progressive credentials by trying to micro-manage and contain the imperial attack, as in insisting on adherence to a no-fly zone intervention in Libya (see Gilbert Achcar, “A legitimate and necessary debate from an anti-imperialist perspective,” ZNet, March 25, 2011; and my reply in “Gilbert Achcar’s Defense of Humanitarian Intervention,” MRZine, April 8, 2011, which refers to the “imperialist fine-tuning left”).
There is a good case to be made that the
Edward S. Herman is an economist, media critic, and author. His latest book is The Politics of Genocide (with David Peterson).
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.