You are currently browsing Maurizio’s articles.

The day
Is new
And God’s love
Is there for you
David Herr

Reading for July 31 from Praying for Justice. “Those who are kind to the needy honor [God]. ” Proverbs 14: 31b

01.08.2019 – Geneva, Switzerland – International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

This post is also available in: SpanishFrenchItalianGreek

ICAN welcomes St Vincent and the Grenadines’ ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Nobel Peace Laureate 2017, congratulates Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on its ratification of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 31 July 2019. This reflects the Caribbean nation’s longstanding commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is the third member State of the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, to ratify the Treaty, after Guyana and Saint Lucia. Two CARICOM member States have also signed (but not yet ratified) the Treaty: Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda.

Twelve CARICOM member States voted in favour of the Treaty’s adoption at the United Nations on 7 July 2017: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

CARICOM has described the Treaty as a reflection of the “strong international support for a permanent end to the threat posed by nuclear arms”. In October 2018, CARICOM announced that more of its member States are expected to sign and ratify the Treaty “in short order, as we seek to contribute to the Treaty’s early entry into force and to its universal adherence”.

In June 2019, a group of 10 CARICOM member States met in Georgetown, Guyana, and issued a statement in support of the Treaty: “Caribbean states have to maintain the leadership role they played in the negotiation with action by adding their voice, their vote and their signature and/or ratification to the global effort to strengthen the norm against these inhumane weapons and to increase their stigmatization.”

A number of CARICOM member States have indicated their intention to participate in a high-level signature and ratification ceremony (details attached) for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to be held in New York on 26 September 2019, on the occasion of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

31.07.2019 – Pressenza London

This post is also available in: Spanish

UK’s risky bet
Boris Johnson when Foreign secretary (Image by Instagram)

By Federico Larsen

Finally, the gauche leader of the brexiteers achieved his main goal. Boris Johnson became Britain’s prime minister after a political career that, according to many, aimed at that office from the very first minute, even before Brexit even existed in the minds of the English. Opposite 10 Downing Street, the residence and headquarters of all the British heads of government, he reaffirmed the eccentric plan that allowed him to become the star of his country’s politics, and move from the silent and almost shameful support of the conservative on foot, to a solid candidate to replace the resigning Theresa May. “We are going to prepare the country to leave the European Union on October 31,” Johnson said. And he has already taken the first steps to do so.

A popular aristocrat

Alexander Boris of Pfeffel Johnson is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable characters in British politics since time immemorial. Son of the English aristocracy, he was formed along with his brother Jo to join the exclusive elite that discusses “high politics” in the halls of British power. Secondary school in Eton -founded by Henry VII in 1440 and forming 19 prime ministers, princes, diplomats, academics and military-, and university in Oxford. By leveraging her contacts, he managed to work as a journalist for the prestigious Times, from which he was quickly dismissed for inventing a quote about a supposed lover of Edward II.

It was again his influential friendships that allowed him to enter as editor of the Daily Telegraph, a newspaper where he worked for 19 years and which allowed him to become a public figure. He debuted as a correspondent in Brussels, from where he learned to stimulate the distrust of the British towards European politics, without skimping on free interpretations or open falsehoods. Such as when he alarmed his countrymen by announcing the European Community’s intolerable decision to ban shrimp-flavoured French fries, or the embarrassing imposition of a one-size-fits-all condom for all European citizens. This is how he became deputy director of the Telegraph, and in 1999 editor of The Spectator. Meanwhile, his father, an acclaimed conservative writer and MEP from 1979 to 1984, a former employee of the World Bank and the European Commission, continued to defend the fervently Europeanist sector of British conservatism.

In 2001, Boris achieved his first term as a Member of Parliament for the traditionally conservative Henley-on-Thames district. There he continued to cultivate a burlesque profile, at the limit between caricature and the seriousness of his investiture. As when he called “piccaninnies” – a racist and offensive name for black children – the Africans who approached Queen Elizabeth during her tour of the Commonwealth of Nations in Africa. Or as when she compared Hillary Clinton to a “sadistic nurse in a mental hospital. Such racists, misogynists and homophobes that, however, she moderated with public facts and positions, as when she voted in favor of the law that allows adoption by homosexual couples, something not so discounted among the Tories.

His figure grew until, in 2008, he became mayor of London, where he had the opportunity to show his skills in public management. “Johnson’s governments in the city had the cosmetic notes that all right-wing governments have that want to look progressive,” he explained in dialogue with L`Ombelico del Mondo Fernando Sdrigotti, a professor of Latin American and Spanish literature at the University of London, where he has lived since 2002.

“There was a lot of work on the aesthetic level of the city, or vanity projects that had a very high cost, and that perhaps was not justified. Even today, the system of public bicycles that can be rented in London are known as “Boris bikes”, and the 550 Routemaster bought under his administration to recover the classic two-story London buses, retired under the previous mandate, continue to circulate in the streets. “The Routemasters cost 350,000 pounds each, double the cost of a normal buses,” Sdrigotti said. “There was a project to build a bridge, for which 53 million pounds of consultation was spent and never built. All very nice things but at the level of infrastructure in the city in the end very little was done and a lot was cut. As in the case of the police, fire stations were closed, autonomies were sold, subway ticket offices were closed. They were administrations that had a very strong repercussion from the point of view of the city’s infrastructure, embellished with these vanity projects, and we are still paying the consequences of that.

After two terms at the head of London’s mayoral office, Johnson descended into the arena of national politics by supporting the leave campaign in the referendum on the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU), which was held in May 2016. There it once again revealed its ability to spread distorted truths, albeit on much more complex issues than french fries and condoms.

Johnson transited halfway around England on a bus entirely plotted with the number 350: according to his team, that was the amount of millions of pounds (equivalent to USD 435 million) that Britain spent daily on contributions to the EU, and which were taken from the coffers of the rundown National Health Service (NHS), the historic pride of the British system. Also famous was one of his campaign phrases: “Voting for the Tories will make your wife’s breasts grow and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3”.

In spite of having been the mayor of the city with the greatest support for the permanence of Great Britain in the EU, Johnson achieved from that moment on a national projection that earned him a great political capital. “London is a bubble, here the idea of going out is not very popular, but if you go to other localities in the country you are going to find an accumulated anger, wanting to hit the ground because something has to change,” said Sdrigotti, who, in a very good article recently published in Crisis Magazine, underlines the popular profile and aristocratic origin of Johnson.

“And almost all the communities that have voted to leave the EU have suffered austerity policies over the last 40 years. Therefore, there is a social issue that shifts from the need for a change of policies within the country to the need to leave the Union. For example, Wales: a part of the UK that voted clearly to leave the EU is one of the parts of the UK that receives the most money from the European Union. But it is also one of the parts that suffered the most austerity policies from the British government”, he exemplified.

With the victory of Yes in the referendum on Brexit, the resignation of then Prime Minister David Cameron and the assumption of Theresa May, Johnson became the chancellor of the United Kingdom. He was the first to pay tribute to the victims of the Falkland war on Argentine soil, during the 2018 G20, among other things.

His mandate as foreign minister was recognized more for his role than for his achievements. Faced with the imprisonment in Tehran of an Anglo-Iranian citizen, Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, accused of espionage, Johnson publicly assured that she had traveled to the Islamic Republic “to teach journalism to these people,” a phrase that was used against Zaghari Ratcliffe to sentence her to five years in prison. Johnson apologized, but Zaghari Ratcliffe is still in an Iranian prison.

The course of May’s government, and its failed attempts to secure approval of an agreement negotiated with the EU to make Brexit effective, saw Johnson switch sides. He resigned as minister and led the sector that fiercely opposed May’s plan until it fell. This is another of Johnson’s characteristics: his nose for political opportunity seems to be greater than his institutional and even ideological loyalty.

Johnson’s new government

Johnson managed to become prime minister thanks to the British institutional system that was also harshly questioned. When it comes to voting, the British do not directly choose a candidate for prime minister, but a party that then internally defines who will be the leader who will take the reins of the Executive. With the resignation of Theresa May, the Conservative Party began internal voting to replace her from her position as party leader, a role that coincides with that of prime minister. Thus Boris Johnson became head of government, with the explicit backing of only 0.14% of the British electorate.

Party members can end up being much more valuable than a good election campaign for someone who wants to climb to the top of British power. The buffoonish Johnson knows this well, and in recent years a sufficiently attractive image has been built to attract voters dissatisfied with leadership among the Tories.

As the liberal and sensible conservative suit had already been assumed by David Cameron (prime minister from 2010 to 2016), Johnson exploited the figure of the charismatic leader, the one who speaks to the voters’ impulse and not to their conscience, the pragmatic one “who says what others don’t say”. Many times this profile has even been above ideological convictions. In a book published in 2016, writer and journalist Tim Shipman claims that, at the start of the Brexit campaign, Johnson had two editorials written for the Daily Telegraph: one for the UK’s exit from the EU, and one against. According to Shipman, the current hardcore guru Brexit waited until the last moment to define himself in favour of the leavers, for a simple calculation of the political advantages that this would bring him within the party.

The new prime minister finds himself at the same crossroads as his predecessor, that of endorsing his position at the ballot box and obtaining the popular mandate which, for the time being, he lacks.

Johnson, who boasts among his ancestors a general dismembered by orders of Kemal Atatürk at the beginning of the 20th century, meanwhile presented a cabinet with two fundamental characteristics: a clear profile in favour of the hard Brexit -matized perhaps by some individualities such as Gavin Williamson or Mark Spencer-; and a cosmopolitan composition, with several ministers of foreign origin, such as the nationalist Priti Patel, new interior minister and daughter of an Indian Sik family, or the new British-Pakistani finance minister, Sajid Javid.

“What he is doing is putting people who campaigned to get out of the EU,” explained Sdrigotti. “So far what we see is that this is a cabinet designed to get out in any way possible. Yes, it is true that there is a complex message. British politics is a little more complex than American politics; there is more multiculturalism, even within the right.

The challenges it will have to face are many and very important, and there is already some scepticism about its chances of success. He promised to leave the EU in 100 days at all costs: “Do or die”, he said. Very little is known about the plan he has formed to cushion the deficit of 30 billion euros a year that this would cause if no agreement is reached with Brussels on a common tariff policy.

If a Brexit were to be reached without an agreement, from 1 November trade between Great Britain and Europe would be governed on the basis of the provisions of the World Trade Organisation, introducing barriers and tariffs where they do not exist today. In addition to the increase in the price of imports – Great Britain imports half of the food it consumes from the EU – there would be a customs chaos which would lead to a shortage of basic necessities.

In 2018, the British government published the “No Deal Guidance Notes”, a document that measured the consequences of a Brexit without an agreement with the EU. The outlook would be very serious: the fall in GDP could reach 10.7% in just 15 years. The most affected would be the pharmaceutical and automotive industries: a loss of approximately 20% of each. The pound would fall by 25% and unemployment would double.

Johnson, however, remains firm in his position of leaving on 31 October, but for that he will necessarily need the approval of Parliament. And for now he is far from having the votes needed to avoid a swamp like his predecessor.

The road to an orderly Brexit – with or without agreement – will also depend on the decisions that Johnson will take on other foreign policy issues. The first major issue will be the release of the British ship Stena Impero, captured by Iran in the context of the conflict unleashed by Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the 2015 pact on Iranian uranium enrichment. The May government remained close to the position of its European partners, Germany and France, who are trying at all costs to keep the agreement negotiated by Obama alive. But Johnson, very well seen by Trump although there is no real political-diplomatic closeness, could decide to lean his external action on Anglo-American relations, in view of possible conflicts with European governments because of a hard Brexit. The United Kingdom and the United States are now close to consolidating a special relationship, but there is still a long way to go before it comes out to play in the international order.

This is compounded by internal challenges. A hard Brexit would imply by default the establishment of a border between the Republic of Ireland, which would remain within the EU, and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. Such a situation would mean reviving the ashes of a century-old conflict, which has already had some serious episodes of violence over the past year.

Brexit also revived the independence intentions of the Scots. The failed referendum in 2014 had a favourable outcome for the United Kingdom because of the uncertainty that would open up for the Scots about their European future if they were to separate from London. But now that it is the British who want to leave the EU, Scotland is preparing to propose once again its independence and permanence in the EU. An open front months ago, on which Johnson has not yet taken clear measures.

In short, Johnson’s election is more than ever a bet for the UK. Because, like all bets, it has a good chance of going wrong. But it also has the certainty of having a helmsman who appears to be determined and to have a plan. It must be consolidated as soon as possible if it does not want to end up in the uncertainty that has governed Great Britain since 2016.

Reading for July 30 from Praying for Justice. “Those who oppress the poor insult their maker.” Proverbs 14: 31a

Reading for July 29 from Praying for Justice. “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” Proverbs 11: 4

31.07.2019 – US, United States – David Swanson

Abolish Terrorist Agencies

By David Swanson

Every government on earth, beginning with the United States, should shut down and be done with secret agencies, spy agencies, agencies used for murder, torture, bribery, election-manipulation, and coups.

While these agencies prevent the public from knowing what is being done in its name, they do not acquire any knowledge that benefits the public and that couldn’t have been acquired openly, lawfully, through simple research, diplomacy, and law-enforcement actions that respect human rights.

While these agencies occasionally succeed in their criminal enterprises on their own terms, those successes always create blowback that does far more damage that the good — if any — accomplished.

The CIA and all of its relatives in the U.S. government and around the world have normalized lying, spying, murdering, torturing, government secrecy, government lawlessness, distrust of foreign governments, distrust of one’s own government, distrust of one’s own qualifications to participate in self-government, and acceptance of perma-war.

Labeling terrorism “counter-terrorism” doesn’t make it something other than terrorism and doesn’t change the fact that it increases rather than decreases terrorism by others.

We should do something that Woodrow Wilson never did, and take seriously the first of his 14 points: “Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.” This is as critical a democratic reform as public financing of elections or public counting of paper ballots.

Annie Jacobsen’s latest book is called Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins. It’s based on interviews with former top members of the CIA who simply adore the CIA. The book simply adores the CIA. Yet it remains a chronicle of endless disastrous failure after failure after failure. This is a collection of pro-CIA voices leaking super-top-extra-special-secret information, much of it over 50 years old. And yet there’s not a speck of justification for the CIA’s existence to be found.

Jacobsen’s book on Operation Paperclip, which I reviewed here, told the story of how the U.S. military and CIA hired large numbers of former Nazis. The scandal that one is supposed to see in that story is, apparently, that people had been Nazis, not that they had participated in horrific atrocities, because participating in horrific atrocities is depicted as a courageous and noble service in Jacobsen’s newer book.

There is, of course, a case to be made for the existence of Nazi influence on post-WWII U.S. atrocities. As I wrote at the link above,

“The U.S. military shifted in numerous ways when former Nazis were put into prominent positions. It was Nazi rocket scientists who proposed placing nuclear bombs on rockets and began developing the intercontinental ballistic missile.  It was Nazi engineers who had designed Hitler’s bunker beneath Berlin, who now designed underground fortresses for the U.S. government in the Catoctin and Blue Ridge Mountains.  Known Nazi liars were employed by the U.S. military to draft classified intelligence briefs falsely hyping the Soviet menace. Nazi scientists developed U.S. chemical and biological weapons programs, bringing over their knowledge of tabun and sarin, not to mention thalidomide — and their eagerness for human experimentation, which the U.S. military and the newly created CIA readily engaged in on a major scale.  Every bizarre and gruesome notion of how a person might be assassinated or an army immobilized was of interest to their research. New weapons were developed, including VX and Agent Orange.  A new drive to visit and weaponize outerspace was created, and former Nazis were put in charge of a new agency called NASA.

“Permanent war thinking, limitless war thinking, and creative war thinking in which science and technology overshadowed death and suffering, all went mainstream.  When a former Nazi spoke to a women’s luncheon at the Rochester Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1953, the event’s headline was ‘Buzz Bomb Mastermind to Address Jaycees Today.’ That doesn’t sound terribly odd to us, but might have shocked anyone living in the United States anytime prior to World War II. Watch this Walt Disney television program featuring a former Nazi who worked slaves to death in a cave building rockets.  Before long, President Dwight Eisenhower would be lamenting that ‘the total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.’ Eisenhower was not referring to Nazism but to the power of the military-industrial complex.  Yet, when asked whom he had in mind in remarking in the same speech that ‘public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite,’ Eisenhower named two scientists, one of them the former Nazi in the Disney video linked above.”

It may be worth noting that all five Democratic members of Congress who just voted for continuing the gravest human disaster currently underway, the war on Yemen, are former members of the CIA and/or military. Total influence means the end of awareness of the influence. While Jacobsen’s book doesn’t document any successes, it exhibits a certain kind of success through the familiar propaganda subtly built into it.

“Every operation reported in this book, however shocking, was legal,” Jacobsen claims, despite acknowledging some 450 pages later the existence of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and despite noting the existence of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter, and despite no doubt being aware that the nations within which the CIA commits many of its crimes have laws forbidding them. Those nations don’t count. They’re made up of nothing but “indigs,” the term used throughout the book for mere indigenous people. On page 164 Jacobsen writes: “The reason for SOG’s [Studies and Observation Group] highly classified nature was that it violated the Geneva Agreement of 1962, the declaration on the neutrality of Laos, which forbade U.S. forces from operating inside the country.” But don’t be shocked or you’ll forget that everything the United States (not just Richard Nixon) does is, by definition, legal.

Jacobsen opens and closes the book by claiming that the purpose of all the horrors recounted has always been to avoid WWIII, but never does she provide the slightest documentation or evidence or logic for that claim. She also claims that smaller-scale murders and sabotage are justified as a “third option” because sometimes war is a bad idea (when isn’t it a bad idea? she never says) and sometimes diplomacy is “inadequate” or has “failed” (when? how? she never says). Wars go on failing on their own terms for decades but we’re never told to resort to diplomacy. What counts as diplomacy failing and justifying a resort to war? The answer is not very little. The answer is: less than nothing.

Of course, Jacobsen also builds her case on the false and unargued claim that Pearl Harbor was a “surprise attack.” In the same paragraph she suggests that Hitler invented the very idea of all-out war without proper rules and decency. She states in one sentence that Reinhard Heydrich was a main architect of the Final Solution, and in the next that he was at the top of a British kill list, as if to imply some connection between the two facts, playing into the propaganda that the allies fought the war to prevent murder. (She pulls the same trick with the nuclear bombings of Japan and the ending of the war, implying a causal connection to any indoctrinated reader.) Of course when the British killed Heydrich, the Nazis killed 4,000 people as revenge, and halted no other activities. Hurray!

From the beginning of the book to the end, the central character, Billy Waugh, is depicted as acting out a childish childhood fantasy about engaging in beneficial and dangerous violence. This is repeated so often that it’s normalized. We’re not supposed to despair that people acting out childish fantasies have been given the power to murder and wreak havoc. We’re supposed to celebrate his good fortune in being able to act out his boyhood dream.

Two weeks after the killing of Heydrich, the U.S. government created the OSS and hauled the residents of what is now Prince William Forest Park outside of Washington, D.C., away from their homes and their land, kicking and screaming, in order to fence off an area in which to practice spying and murdering. What fun! (The area had contained a somewhat hopeful, somewhat integrated community that had prospered during reconstruction and suggested a better path forward, rather than something to brush aside so that grown men could make a game of murder.)

In Jacobsen’s world, the Soviets started the Cold War when Stalin simply inexplicably ceased behaving as a friend. The Russians lost 20 million lives in WWII, by her count, rather than the 27 million more commonly reported (and the Vietnamese later lost 0.5 million rather than the 3.8 million a Harvard/University of Washington study found). But none of those lives had any impact on Soviet policy, in Jacobsen’s telling, which was pure irrational aggression. So, in response to the commies, the CIA was created “to protect U.S. national security interests around the world” — all of which acts of protection somehow failed to make it into Jacobsen’s book.

And then “the unthinkable happened,” as North Korea invaded South Korea. South Korea was ruled by a U.S.-educated puppet who was actively provoking North Korea with his own invasions, but “unthinkable” here doesn’t mean the people involved couldn’t think it; it means that we must not think they thought it. A mentally ill Frank Wisner led CIA efforts in Korea to get thousands of people killed killing thousands of other people to no other effect, before killing himself. Jacobsen believes this left “a black mark” on the agency. Yet, even as white-supremacist an outfit as the CIA, cannot really make a discernable black mark on an edifice of infinite black marks. Jacobsen’s book rolls on through black mark after black mark, unrelenting, yet somehow unaware that there isn’t something there other than the black marks.

Jacobsen promotes as plausible the CIA-idea that Kim Il Sung was an imposter and a soviet puppet as controlled by Stalin in this story as Trump is by Putin in the fantasies of Russiagate. During the war against North Korea, everything that could be imagined done wrong was. Double agents were widely employed and informed. Fighters were trained and parachuted pointlessly into enemy territory by the thousands. No information of benefit to any human population was gathered. The CIA found its own conduct “morally reprehensible” but kept such reports secret for decades in order to do more of the same in other parts of the world. Meanwhile the military thought it could do a better job and created its own criminal groups of special forces and green berets.

“What choice was there?” Jacobsen asks, typically, of the CIA decision to develop guerilla warfare corps. This is in the context of the Cold War paranoia that held that every liberation struggle around the world was a Soviet plot to take over the United States. What choice was there? Would dropping the paranoia have been out of line? In January 1952 the CIA began keeping lists of people to murder around the world. “Murder is not morally justifiable,” the CIA’s own instruction manual admitted. But the point was that “Persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it,” not that it shouldn’t be done or that moral persons shouldn’t go along with it from their comfortable desks.

When the CIA overthrew the government of Guatemala in 1954 on behalf of exploitative corporations, and not in defense against any threat to the United States, it lied that only 1 fighter, rather than 48, had been killed. This somehow made it a success rather than a failure, and thus a basis for more such crimes. But the blowback, as with the earlier coup in Iran, and the one before that in Syria which Jacobsen doesn’t mention, was extensive. Turning Che Guevara into a revolutionary was the least of it. The coup turned the United States into an enemy of the people of Latin America, whom it fought on behalf of dictatorships for decades to come, generating great suffering, resentment, crime, and refugee crises. After the CIA later murdered Guevara and cut of his hands and mailed them to Fidel Castro, they were brought out to inspire anti-U.S. fighters.

Jacobsen’s telling of the 1953 coup in Iran seeks to justify it in the context of scary Islamic terrorism. She claims “Diplomacy wasn’t working, and military intervention was unwise.” Therefore, thou shalt “legally” overthrow the government. But what did “working” mean? Iran was not bothering the United States in any way. Iran was resisting exploitation by oil corporations. Diplomacy is said to not be “working” not because there isn’t peace, but because some horrible agenda is not being accomplished. Out of this coup came horrendous suffering, militarization, Middle-Eastern hatred of the United States, the Iranian revolution, and the CIA’s lovely (and oh-so-successful) strategy of encouraging religious fanatics as an alternative to atheist commies.

It’s always a struggle to decide whether to interpret world affairs as evil or incompetent. “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it,” is a quote incompetently attributed to Mark Twain. Jacobsen recounts training exercises in which U.S. government employees acting in our name have parachuted with nuclear bombs strapped to them in pieces, landed, assembled, and pretended to set off or actually set off the nuclear bombs — something they seriously contemplated doing as part of the war on Vietnam and who knows where else. They also advertised such plans in the North of Vietnam as a way of supposedly motivating people to move south and befriend the monsters who were about to nuke the North.

Even when they were not to actually set off the nukes, they practiced using real nukes. Once they accidentally dropped one of these nukes into the sea on the coast of Okinawa. “These kinds of mishaps are always resolved,” says Billy Waugh meaninglessly and falsely — as we know even from those that have not been hidden from us because they’ve happened in the United States. But not to worry, as Jacobsen refers to something comfortingly called a “precision nuclear strike.”

Woodrow Wilson wouldn’t meet with Ho Chi Minh publicly or privately, as the man wasn’t even white. But the OSS trained Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap, who fought the U.S. with weapons the U.S. had left behind in Korea, after Eisenhower was compelled, in Jacobsen’s telling, to stir up violence in Indochina because “diplomacy was out of the question.”

Surprise, Kill, Vanish contains lengthy discussions of crimes committed by Russia and Cuba, presumably meant to somehow excuse crimes committed by the United States. Yet nowhere is there any discussion of turning in the other direction and supporting the rule of law. There are also lengthy discussions of the Secret Service protecting U.S. presidents, presumably meant to make us imagine that there is something defensive about the CIA. And there are very lengthy sections recounting various military actions in detail, apparently intended to make us appreciate bravery even when put to evil ends. Yet, for every Bay of Pigs disaster recounted, there are a dozen more similar disasters.

And each disaster meant well. “Kennedy lost the battle for a democratic Cuba,” Jacobsen tells us, without citing any plan by Kennedy to support democracy in Cuba. Then she quotes Richard Helms suggesting that one or more foreign governments killed Kennedy. No evidence required.

Jacobsen recounts the U.S. murder of one of the many double-agents that U.S. fighters were using against themselves in Vietnam, and spends a great deal of time trying to justify it. Basically, insane ideas like making the guy a trustworthy triple-agent didn’t pass the laugh test, and nothing else could be imagined. Even the existence of prisons had escaped their brains. The U.S. government was even going to prosecute this murder as murder until it understood that in the course of the prosecution it would be forced to reveal much larger crimes. So it dropped the case. But everything was “legal”!

Then, “[t]he cold-blooded, in-plain-sight assassinations of American diplomats inside another sovereign nation’s embassy in Khartoum demanded a formidable response. Except most Americans had zero appetite for getting involved in terrorist disputes overseas.” Those stupid “most Americans.” Didn’t they know that an event could anthropomorphize under the pen of a propagandist and make demands of human beings? What were they thinking? Jacobsen comes back many times to the suggestion that September 11th happened because of U.S. failure to act, rather than because of U.S. complicity in crimes against Palestinians, U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia and the region, U.S. bombings in Iraq, etc.

More so, Jacobsen is intent on making the ridiculous case that the CIA’s many crimes and scandals are not the fault of the CIA because they are the fault of presidents whose orders the CIA was following. “CIA officers simply carry out the wishes of the American presidents they serve.” Well that’s generally true, and they are generally evil and criminal wishes. Blame, I hate to keep breaking it to U.S. culture, is not limited. There’s plenty for the CIA *and* the presidents.

Jacobsen deems William Casey “prescient” for predicting international terrorism in 1981. I think a better word is “prescriptive.” Decades of engaging in and provoking terrorism has results. It doesn’t moronically excuse terrorism. Try to remember that blame is not limited. But it does predictably generate it.

Jacobsen claims that Ronald Reagan’s thugs legalized assassination by renaming it “preemptive neutralization,” thereby placing it under Article 51 of the UN Charter. But can you legalize taking the place and the office of your elected misrepresentative, and sending him or her on a publicly-funded 10-year world cruise, by using the same phrase? Of course not, because you are only you, and because only murder can be “legalized” through nonsense phrases.

But isn’t murder a lesser evil? Jacobsen quotes a CIA employee: “Why is an expensive military raid with heavy collateral damage to our allies and to innocent children okay — more morally acceptable than a bullet to the head?” None of this evil is OK, and which bit is less evil is not a simple question that can be divorced from the full results including the normalization of practices that will be widely imitated.

The closest thing to a beneficial result in the whole book is probably the CIA-facilitated arrest by the French of terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez. But that arrest could be imagined without the use of a lawless agency, whereas the crimes that provoked the terrorism could not — except perhaps by Jacobsen who seems to believe that the Palestinians started each cycle of hostility.

As if the CIA’s pre-2001 record were not catastrophic and reprehensible, there is also what followed. An agency that had no clue about the attacks of September 11th until moments after they happened, when it knew for certain who was behind them, was chosen to lead the way on the wars to come. The CIA gave itself, with a rubber stamp from Bush and Congress, the right to commit any crime. “There was no way to foresee where this would all go,” claims John Rizzo, the lawyer who wrote that the CIA could use “lethal direct action” and could “capture, detain, interrogate.” Rizzo had noooooooooooooo idea that this would mean that anybody would get killed or harmed, any more than Joe Biden had any reason to imagine that telling Bush he could start infinite wars would result in any wars.

The CIA has now led 18 years of catastrophe, including leading the creation of drone wars, fully normalizing small-scale murder. Jacobsen expends many words on the super high qualifications of the extra-elite experts who began the war on Afghanistan. The fact that their disaster has gotten worse for 18 predictable years seems not to make all their titles and qualifications as laughable to some people as they are to me. Many more words explain what a s—hole Afghanistan was, as if an invasion and occupation might have somehow gone well in a nicer place.

People who participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion may have failed too, but when they show up in later wars they are “freedom fighters.” The Iraqis they are attacking are anything but “freedom fighters” of course. And the propaganda used to launch the war on Iraq is merely “the dark side of covert action” — the light side of which we have yet to discover.

In fact “the paradigm was the same” for plans for war on Afghanistan — the same as had been used to great failure in Vietnam. Afghanistan was now invaded by what Jacobsen bizarrely calls “American-led invaders, but invaders nonetheless.” The implication seems to be that Americans cannot actually be invaders, even though they’re — you know — invading, or at least not in a legal sense, because invasions are crimes and the United States doesn’t commit crimes.

At the end of her book, Jacobsen visits Vietnam and walks through a garden where “General Giap and his commanders sat long ago plotting the demise of the United States,” which they most certainly did not. This absurd claim immediately precedes a discussion of U.S. plans to nuke Vietnam. The CIA was advised against parachuting nukes into Vietnam and using them as part of the war by a group of scientists who warned that doing so would result in numerous groups of terrorists around the world seeking to acquire nukes and do the same. This recognition of the power of copy-catism in international criminal affairs is odd here, because it doesn’t show up in all the discussions of the CIA’s development of drone murders or death squads or coups. Why is it only certain crimes the imitation of which should bother us? Clearly it is because other crimes have already been so widely imitated and normalized that they are not questionable anymore, not even crimes anymore.

Here are some lists of CIA accomplishments.

Here is a petition to abolish the CIA.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here


What blessings
We find
When we pray
With an open mind
David Herr

Brazilian President Bolsonaro Threatens Glenn Greenwald with Imprisonment HeadlineJul 29, 2019

29.07.2019 – Brasilia, Brasil – Democracy Now!

This post is also available in: Spanish

Brazilian President Bolsonaro Threatens Glenn Greenwald with Imprisonment HeadlineJul 29, 2019
(Image by Democracy Now!)

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro threatened journalist Glenn Greenwald with possible imprisonment Saturday, following recent reporting by Greenwald’s news website The Intercept implicating Justice Minister Sérgio Moro in a possible plot to smear and convict former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Speaking to a reporter, Bolsonaro said Greenwald could not be deported because he was married to a Brazilian, but that he might be imprisoned instead. Journalists and press freedom activists blasted Bolsonaro’s threats, and Greenwald responded via Twitter: “Contrary to what the president says, he is not (yet) a dictator. He doesn’t have the power to order people to stop. To detain someone, you need to present evidence to a court showing that a crime was committed. That evidence does not exist.”

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here


Reading for July 27 from Praying for Justice. “The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, He hates with a passion.” Psalm 11: 5

Blog Stats

  • 11,717 hits
August 2019
« Jul    

Support 2007, 2008 and 2009

More Light Presbyterians

Visite recenti

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Blog Stats

  • 11,717 hits
Follow Ecumenics and Quakers on