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Nederlog

September 3, 2015
Crisis: Kissinger, Psy-Ops, Our Language, German Neo-Nazis, More Crisis

 "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















Prev- crisis -Next

Sections
Introduction

1.
Is Kissinger an Elder Statesman or War Criminal?
2. US/NATO Embrace Psy-ops and Info-War
3. Conservatives Have Kidnapped Our Language
4. Neo-Nazi Arsonists: Officials Concerned by Growing
     Far-Right Networks

5. Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse



This is a Nederlog of Thursday September 3, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links. Item 1 is about Kissinger, who was a major criminal, but who very probably will never face prosecution; item 2 is about how the whole meaning of "war" has been changed by the Pentagon (with quotations by me to explain what this means); item 3 is (in fact) about how the meanings people believe in these days differ from the meanings in dictionaries: The meanings of "Liberal", "Welfare", "Entitlement", "Equity", "Human capital", and "Market based" as used by the main media now all differ considerably from the dictionary meanings - and  differ all in a neo- conservative direction; item 4 is about an article in Spiegel On Line about the neo-nazis and far right groups that operate in Germany; and item 5 is an
article
on economics and the crisis, that concludes a crisis is "likely" (I agree,
but a likelyhood is not a certainty, and a major crisis will be pretty horrific).
 

1. Is Kissinger an Elder Statesman or War Criminal?

The first article today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

In case you don't know who is Henry Kissinger (<- Wikipedia [1], and I'd say that is rather odd from my own point of view, but it is true he left office forty years ago, is 92, and history tends to be ill given), this starts as follows:

Four decades after Henry Kissinger left office, his influence on the national security state can still be widely felt as the United States engages in declared and undeclared wars across the globe. Kissinger served as national security adviser and secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations and helped revive a militarized version of American exceptionalism.

Here is a brief survey of what Kissinger did:

During his time in office, Henry Kissinger oversaw a massive expansion of the war in Vietnam and the secret bombings of Laos and Cambodia. In Latin America, declassified documents show how Kissinger secretly intervened across the continent, from Bolivia to Uruguay to Chile to Argentina. In Chile, Kissinger urged President Nixon to take a, quote, "harder line" against the Chile’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. On September 11th, 1973, another September 11th, Allende was overthrown by the U.S.-backed general, Augusto Pinochet. In Jakarta, Indonesia, Kissinger and President Gerald Ford met with the Indonesian dictator, General Suharto, to give the go-ahead to invade East Timor, which Indonesia did on December 7, 1975. The Indonesians killed a third of the Timorese population. Kissinger also drew up plans to attack Cuba in the mid-’70s after Fidel Castro sent Cuban forces into Angola to fight forces linked to apartheid South Africa. While human rights activists have long called for Kissinger to be tried for war crimes, he remains a celebrated figure in Washington and beyond.

Next, Amy Goodman talks with Greg Grandin, author of the new book, Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman, who also is a professor of Latin American history at New York University.

Here is - skipping rather a lot - an exchange that starts with Amy Goodman giving a quote from Henry Kissinger from 1963

AMY GOODMAN: "There are two kinds of realists: those who manipulate facts and those who create them. The West requires nothing so much as men able to create their own reality."

GREG GRANDIN: Yeah. Now just think—fast-forward to the 2000s, and the Bush administration roundly came under criticism when one of its staffers, that is now believed to be Karl Rove, said that "We’re an empire now. When we act, we create reality." And that was taken as an example of neocon hubris and neocon arrogance, a certain kind of irrational idealism that believes that reality is created through military power. And oftentimes Kissinger is set up as the opposite of that, as a sober realist. But the fact is that he’s not.
Yes, and the reason is in the quote Amy Goodman read: There simply are no men who create their own reality (outside mental institutions) - this either is plain madness or else results from an extremely cramped definition of "reality" as "what can be overpowered militarily".

Indeed, the former, plain madness, results from the latter definition of "reality",  which only military folks (and their followers) believe in. Then again, in the national security state created by Cheney and Bush, and continued by Obama, the military viewpoint is widely spread - and see item 2 and item 3 for backgrounds.

Here are some of the reasons why Henry Kissinger is a criminal:

GREG GRANDIN: Well, in Latin America, he supported Operation Condor. He was instrumental in organizing the coup in—not just in Chile, in Bolivia. He was involved in Uruguay and Argentina. He either—you know, he brought a moral legitimacy or he was actually involved in the destabilization campaigns that led to coups. And then, once the region fell to right-wing, anti-communist governments, he was instrumental in supporting Operation Condor, which was a kind of transnational consortium of death squads that carried out a international terrorist campaign.
Here is some more about Operation Condor (<- Wikipedia). And here is the last bit I will quote:

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think Henry Kissinger should be tried as a war criminal? We have 20 seconds.

GREG GRANDIN: Yes, obviously. But I also think that we should also—beyond that, there’s ways in which the language of prosecution and war crimes kind of—kind of eclipse a deeper historical understanding. And if we want to get out of—if we want to understand the mess we’re in now, we have to—beyond just the kind of language of moral outrage and understand Kissinger’s role in rehabilitating the national security state.

I agree with Grandin, but I think that the chance that Kissinger will be tried as a war criminal can be safely set as equal to 0. But this is an interesting and recommended article, not only because of the light it sheds on recent history, but because Kissinger created much of the current American political climate.

2. US/NATO Embrace Psy-ops and Info-War  

The next article is by Don North on Consortium News:

This has a summary, which I quote because it is quite interesting:
The U.S. government and NATO have entered the Brave New World of “strategic communications,” merging psy-ops, propaganda and P.R. in order to manage the perceptions of Americans and the world’s public, reports veteran war correspondent Don North.
This is quite interesting because it is a major change: From now on - because of the technological successes of the NSA? - the perceptions (the thoughts, ideas, feeliings and values) of all Americans and also the perceptions (etc.) of everybody else are part of the war aims of the Pentagon and of the American government.

That is: What you think and feel - whoever you are - you are now targeted as subject of explicit propaganda and manipulation in order to make you think and feel as the Pentagon and the American government wants you to (and if you keep thinking other than you are desired to think by the Pentagon and the American government, you run the risk of being persecuted as "a terrorist", or being blown up by a drone, especially if you reside in the Middle East).

I exaggerate? Well, consider this from August 31, to start with:
Pentagon’s New “Law of War” Manual “Reduces Us to the Level of Nazis”.

Next, consider this:

As reflected in a recent NATO conference in Latvia and in the Pentagon’s new “Law of War” manual, the U.S. government has come to view the control and manipulation of information as a “soft power” weapon, merging psychological operations, propaganda and public affairs under the catch phrase “strategic communications.”

This attitude has led to treating psy-ops – manipulative techniques for influencing a target population’s state of mind and surreptitiously shaping people’s perceptions – as just a normal part of U.S. and NATO’s information policy.

Which is to say that "giving the news" = "engaging in manipulation", quite in the sense as defined by the GCHQ.

Indeed, here are some of the psy-ops of the GCHQ that I gathered last year (and all of the text is by the GCHQ):



Note the phrase "in the context of using them in lieu of 'traditional law enforcement' against people suspected (but not charged or convicted)":

Traditional law enforcement requires objective evidence; the Pentagon
requires only "protest activity for political ends"; and traditional law enforcement was limited to the country whose laws were upkept; the Pentagon wants everyone everywhere to share its point of view (or be prosecuted or droned as terrorists).

Here is more on the techniques absolutely everyone now is exposed to, according to the Pentagon's new "Law of War":




That is, more specifically:


And here is a summary of the effects of secret manipulations:

Of course, the Pentagon and the GCHQ and the NSA are like God: They love you; they know everything about you - and they may sent you to hell (in secret and anonymously) if you as much as think or feel anything they don't desire.

I think that is the new "Law of War" as stated by the Pentagon (stated with
help of materials gathered by Edward Snowden):

Unless and until you think and feel as the Pentagon wants you to, you are - whoever you are, wherever you are - the potential subject of secret attempts to deny, disrupt, degrade and deceive you.

Back to Don North:

And, as part of this Brave New World of “strategic communications,” the U.S. military and NATO have now gone on the offensive against news organizations that present journalism which is deemed to undermine the perceptions that the U.S. government seeks to convey to the world.

That attitude led to the Pentagon’s new “Law of War” manual which suggests journalists in wartime may be considered “spies” or “unprivileged belligerents,” creating the possibility that reporters could be subject to indefinite incarceration, military tribunals and extrajudicial execution – the same treatment applied to Al Qaeda terrorists who are also called “unprivileged belligerents.”
And by the way: "Al Qaeda terrorists" include those who have been kept now for thirteen years in Guantánamo, and not because they really were, but merely
because they were accused to be.

And there is this:

“The attitude toward the media expressed in the 2015 Pentagon manual is a violation of the international laws of war to which the USA is a signatory, going back to the 1907 Hague Convention, and including the Geneva Conventions,” said Badsey, a professor of conflict studies at Wolverhampton University in the United Kingdom and a long-time contact of mine who is often critical of U.S. military information tactics.

I agree. And there is this:

The (London) Independent’s Robert Fisk remarked at the time, “once you kill people because you don’t like what they say, you change the rules of war.” Now, the Pentagon is doing exactly that, literally rewriting its “Law of War” manual to allow for the no-holds-barred treatment of “enemy” journalists as “unprivileged belligerents.”

In brief: This is a very frightening article that you are recommended to read all of, for this seems to be the future envisaged by president Obama, the Pentagon, the NSA and the GCHQ.

3. Conservatives Have Kidnapped Our Language

The next article is by David Morris on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me.”  A fine sentiment, but any child subjected to cyber bullying knows that words do indeed matter.

Language evolves.  Sometimes a word that once was negative becomes positive, like “terrific” which originally meant terrifying.  Sometimes a word that was once positive becomes negative, as when “awful” changes from awe inspiring to very bad.

In politics too words matter, and in politics too language evolves.  In the last 50 years we have witnessed a politically motivated sea change in the meaning of old words and the introduction of new words, all intended to undermine our sense of compassion.

You may disbelieve this, but this seems a well researched article, with quite a
few examples. Here is the first (extracted: there is more in the article):

Liberal

The prime example is how we’ve changed the meaning of the word “liberal”.   For almost 700 years the word meant generous, selfless, noble, tolerant.  When the word began to describe a political philosophy it mostly retained its original meaning.   According to the Oxford English Dictionary, aside from being “broadminded” a liberal is someone “favoring political reform tending toward democracy and personal freedom for the individual.”

And then the 1960s happened.  The Great Society, and civil rights legislation, spawned a change in the definition of liberal.  We began to hear the phrase “bleeding heart liberal” to describe someone excessively softhearted.
(...)
Within 20 years the word “liberal” had been demonized.  Long time Chicago based columnist Mike Royko wondered why the term had become so negative if the major criticism of it was that a liberal was too compassionate.  He thought the reason was racism.  “So I learned that in Chicago, as in many parts of the South and other big cities, the word liberal has one basic, simple definition.  It’s just another word for ‘nigger lover’,” Royko  concluded.

In his Acceptance Speech of the New York Liberal Party Nomination in September 1960 John F. Kennedy proudly  declared himself a liberal and defended the word against criticism,  “…if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who … cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties-- then I’m proud to say I’m a ‘Liberal.'”  For many, JFK’s definition suggested a government aggressively overruling local sentiments to force states and communities to allow blacks to vote unimpeded and integrate them into neighborhood schools and jobs and the general society. The South especially but not solely rejected both the policies and the word.

I say. And I think that the argument that this change of the meaning of "liberal" did indeed take place seems considerable, and is also given, in this case and the other cases in the article, in terms of specific graphics, namely Google's Ngrams (<- Wikipedia, and I had to look this up as well), but unfortunately on none of the graphics is the scale given in terms of actual numbers.

There also is another criticism: These new meanings are not dictionary-meanings, which is what intellectuals like I am tend to rely on, when we want a good defi- nition of a term: Look in a good dictionary (or two, or three).

Then again, the new "meanings" (for I want to keep them apart from dictionary-
meanings) are probably as said (so when I write I am a liberal, the less well-
educated American, especially if a Southerner, may well take this to mean I am a "bleeding heart nigger lover") even though little of these new "meanings" are
part of any good dictionary.

In fact, the article lists next to "Liberal" the following terms whose "meanings" have changed in use: "Welfare", "Entitlement", "Equity", "Human capital", and "Market based".

Here is one bit on "Welfare" (from a lot more):

The word welfare, like the word liberal, had become lethal.  A 2006 poll by the National Opinion Research Center reveals how much words matter.  More than 65 percent of those surveyed thought government spends “too little” on “assistance to the poor.” But when the phrase “assistance to the poor” was replaced with “welfare” only 20 percent thought the government spent “too little” while 46 percent said it spent “too much.”

And this is one bit on "Entitlement" (from a lot more):

Soon politicians conflated entitlements with welfare.  In the 2012 election this became explicit.  The Washington Post reported, “Milt Romney framed the 2012 presidential election…as a choice between an ‘entitlement society’ dependent on government welfare and an ‘opportunity-society’ that enables businesses to flourish.” Romney  added, “Even if we could afford the ever-expanding payments of an entitlement society, it is a fundamental corruption of the American spirit.”

For Romney almost half the country is now dependent on handouts.  "(T)here are 47 percent of the people…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement.”

Then there's "Equity" (from a lot more)

Six hundred years ago equity meant fairness.  Equity courts in England were intended to infuse a sense of conscience into the proceedings.

But in the last generation the other secondary definition of equity as property has become so dominant as to virtually eliminate its original meaning. Indeed, its use has now spread to sectors that have not used the term before. Non-profit organizations are increasingly substituting the word equity for equality or justice.

Actually, it still means "fairness", but since fewer know this than know the meanings of "equality" and "justice", "equity" replaces them, and now (at
least according to the neo-conservatives) we are supposed to strife no more
for "racial equality" but for "racial equity" (which indeed is no longer
equal).

Here is the last part of the article:

Words matter.  Language evolves as societies values change. Today our language tells us that we are human capital, that policies must be market-based, that welfare is an expletive, that no one is entitled to anything and that liberal means profligate and intolerant.  No wonder it is so hard to have a conversation that speaks to the social, empathetic and altruistic side of human nature.
I agree, and this is a recommended article. (I will keep using words with their
proper meanings, also if a majority of not properly educated folks do not understand me: Too bad, but I am not going to lie to suit your prejudices.)


4. Neo-Nazi Arsonists: Officials Concerned by Growing Far-Right Networks

The next article is by Spiegel Staff (7 journalists) on Spiegel On Line:

The day before last I reviewed another article on Spiegel On Line, that was written by no less than 12 people, and that seemed not to say much. This one is written by 7 people, and seems a bit better. It starts with this introduction (bold in the original):
This year has seen a sharply increased number of attacks on asylum hostels in Germany, many of them perpetrated by right-wing extremists. Officials are concerned that neo-Nazi networks may be spreading across the country.

The officials may well be right.The article starts as follows:

It was April 16 when around 100 right-wing extremists marched through the small town of Nauen in the eastern German state of Brandenburg. Their message: "Nein zum Heim!" or "No to the Hostel!" They carried posters and German flags along with them. "Nauen Will Stay White!" read one. "Take Action!" read another.

One day later, employees of Mikado, a local youth center, found that the tires of the center's minibus had been slashed. There was a note under the windshield wiper reading: "Dear asylum friends, Tröglitz is here too." The reference was to an arson attack on a refugee shelter not two weeks before in the town of Tröglitz in the eastern state of Saxony. Skip ahead to Monday night a week ago when a planned asylum hostel -- to be established inside a high school gymnasium -- was gutted by flames in Nauen, just outside Berlin. The fire occurred just a short time before the first refugees were scheduled to move in.
There is considerably more, from which I select only this quote:

But those pouring fuel on the flames of hate, these days, are not only affiliated with the NPD, nor can they only be found in eastern Germany. In North Rhine-Westphalia alone, the Interior Ministry counted around 50 right-wing attacks on refugee hostels in just the first six months of this year. There, racists and malcontents have other nationalist parties to choose from, including Pro-NRW and "The Right." In Baden-Württemberg, the suspected arson attack on the asylum hostel in Weissach im Tal was the second such incident in the state within just a few weeks.

Prior to that, unknown perpetrators sprayed swastikas on a mosque. Not far from the burned-out hostel, police found a sticker from the "Identitarian Movement of Germany," a group known for its blatant hatred of foreigners.

More than any other group, though, it is the "Third Way," a collection of ultra-right wingers, that has been the focus of recent attention, in both the east and the west.
Incidentally, the German "Third Way" probably has nothing to do with Clinton & Blair's "Third Way", that is, other than having chosen an intentionally misleading name.

But this was a decent article.

5. Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse

The last article of today is by Mike Whitney on Counterpunch

This is another reaction to what The Guardian called "China's Melt-down".

It starts as follows (after a quotation of John Kenneth Galbraith)
:
The virus that spread to stock markets around the world and nearly destroyed the global financial system in 2008 has reemerged with a vengeance sending global equities deep into the red and wiping out more than $5 trillion in market capitalization in less than two weeks. On Tuesday, before the opening bell, major market index futures in the US plunged more than 400 points signaling another violent day of selling ahead.   Worries that a slowdown in China will impact global growth pushed Asian and European markets deep into negative territory while US futures indicate that the Dow Jones is headed for its ninth triple-digit day in ten sessions.
There is this on stock prices:
Stocks are massively overpriced due to the setting of interest rates below the rate of inflation which creates a subsidy for speculators. The policy has had the precise effect that the Fed intended, it has generated a humongous asset bubble in stocks and bonds transferring trillions of dollars to Wall Street banks and financial institutions. According to Yale economist Robert Shiller, the only time stocks have been this “high or higher were in 1929, 2000, and 2007—all moments before market crashes.”
I say. I agree that stocks are overpriced, indeed for the reason given, and I
agree the situation is worrisome, but while Shiller probably is right, this does
not mean markets will crash (nor indeed that they won't).

There is this on buybacks (which cost nothing for those who can borrow money at virtually no interest):

A thriving economy with low unemployment, rising incomes and wages, and positive inflation is the death knell for zero rate shenanigans, like stock buybacks, where a company repurchases its own shares to push prices higher to boost executive compensation and reward shareholders. Buybacks are type of stock manipulation that used to be banned but are presently, all the rage.
And this:
Weak regulations and cheap cash have changed the incentives structure so that easiest way to enrich stakeholders is by piling on more debt, raking off hefty profits, and leaving the wreckage for someone else to clean up. This is nihilistic rationale that drives buybacks. Keep in mind, the Fed’s low rates were sold to the public as a way to stimulate investment in the real economy.
Here is the conclusion of the article (before another quotation of John Kenneth
Galbraith):
While it’s always possible that the markets could stabilize or stocks could rebound sharply, it’s more likely that we have reached a tipping point where the excesses are about to be wrung from the system through an excruciating downturn followed by an inevitable currency crisis. We expect the six year-long fake recovery to end much like it did in 1929, where one demoralizing selloff followed the other, and where the crashing of stock prices fueled the publics distrust of the central bank, the government and all of the nations main institutions.
I agree that this is "more likely", but a likelihood is not a certainty, and if
the collapse does happen, it will very probably be far from pretty, and hit
everyone who is not a billionair (in dollars or pounds).

--------------------------------------
Notes

[1] I should also say that the Wikipedia article on Kissinger does contain the term "crime" only two times, both in just one quotation, and it presents Henry Kissinger mostly as he liked to be seen.


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