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Nederlog

Aug 27, 2016

Crisis: War Economy (1 & 2), "Our Revolution", TPP, Brazil, NSA Whisleblower
Sections                                                                                             crisis index
Introduction

1. War ‘Has Become a Permanent Condition’ for the
     United States

2. Sanders’s ‘Our Revolution’: Promise and Gaps
3. The High Cost of American Hubris
4. 'Good News,' Says Sanders, as McConnell Signals No
     Lame-Duck Vote on TPP

5. Naomi Klein, Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky, Others
     Condemn 'Coup' in Brazil

6. NSA Whistleblowers: NSA Hack Was Likely An Inside
     Job
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, August 27, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about the war economy that the US practises since the early 2000s, and is quite good; item 2 is about Sanders' "Our Revolution", and is in my opinion considerably too negative; item 3 is an excellent article about the very high costs the American war economy has for the American people; item 4 is about the - rather amazing - fact that there probably will be no vote on the TPP under Obama (who is fanatically pro); item 5 is about a condemnation of the coup in Brazil, with which I agree (though I am pessimistic about Brazil's chances since rich criminals made the coup); and item 6 is interesting information about the latest NSA hack (see here): it probably is by an insider (according to William Binney and others).

1. War ‘Has Become a Permanent Condition’ for the United States

The first item today is by Jane Stillwater on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Did you know that Oliver Stone was a Vietnam vet? That explains a lot. No wonder he has come out so strongly against all the various American “war” fiascos since then. If you had suffered through all the shite that he did while fighting in Vietnam, you would most likely be anti-war as well.

Stone recently spoke at the annual Veterans For Peace convention here in Berkeley—and he had a lot to say too. “America’s crackpot realists create the terror for which they then provide the antidote.” Apparently it’s the American thing to do. 

“In Vietnam, every time we took fire, we went berserk. We’d blow up everything. The mentality of absolute destruction. But when I came back from Vietnam, I thought that intelligence would finally start to reign. Didn’t happen. Reagan’s warning to the world was that Americans could be truly barbaric. That was the lesson of Hiroshima too—to let the Soviet Union know that America was capable of anything.

I sort of knew, but I hadn't realized that he also gained a lot of medals for heroism: See Oliver Stone (<-Wikipedia). I agree this - somehow - explains a lot about his films. And I also agree with Stone's diagnosis (and Truman (<- Wikipedia) - who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - was a war criminal, although I agree it happened over 70 years ago).

There is also this:

And then Stone added, “At home, the war is now happening here too. Our policemen are doing the same thing here now that Americans did in Vietnam—escalating. Like Americans did in Afghanistan. Going berserk.  Blowing things up. It’s sick. We have to learn how to calm down.”

Then Andrew Bracevich also spoke about how the military-industrial complex is screwing us over. “War has become a permanent condition—yet we don’t even talk about it. Neither Clinton or Trump have mentioned Afghanistan, America’s longest war.  War has become the new normal. But here’s the rub: Our appearance of abundance is rapidly eroding. Endless war has become a diversion that Americans can ill-afford.”

And then Ann Jones brought all this information down to the personal level—regarding how endless war is screwing our individual vets. “When our soldiers came back from the wars, that was where the trouble started.  VA hospitals were not prepared for this new rush. They had become geriatric wards. So they changed gears.

“But another bunch of war profiteers also sprang into action, providing all our vets with magic pain-killers. ‘Provide all patients with pain medications,’ came down the orders. And vets soon discovered that heroin was cheaper and started on that too. And the death rate among vets increased dramatically. The vets were sitting ducks to support this drug scam.” And Big Pharma started raking in the profits at the cost of our vets’ lives.

I agree, and this is a recommended article.

2.  Sanders’s ‘Our Revolution’: Promise and Gaps

The second item is by Norman Solomon on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

While Bernie Sanders was doing a brilliant job of ripping into the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the livestreamed launch of the Our Revolution organization on Wednesday night, CNN was airing a phone interview with Hillary Clinton and MSNBC was interviewing Donald Trump’s campaign manager.

That sums up the contrast between the enduring value of the Bernie campaign and the corporate media’s fixation on the political establishment. Fortunately, Our Revolution won’t depend on mainline media. That said, the group’s debut foreshadowed not only great potential but also real pitfalls.

Actually, I don't think it is a good thing that the mainline media are so corrupted (or onesided: you choose) that they cannot be relied upon for
most things. And as I have argued before - and many have done so, for
a long time also - there is no real democracy without a widespread honest press.

I agree there is no real democracy in the USA (and see here) but I certainly don't say that is "fortunate".

As to the pitfalls Solomon sees, I also disagree more than that I agree:

As a 501c4 organization, Our Revolution won’t be running campaigns. Instead, it’ll raise funds and provide support for campaigns while being legally prohibited from “coordinating” with them. And — most imminently with the urgent need to stop the TPP in Congress during the lame-duck session — Our Revolution could make a big difference in pressuring lawmakers on key issues.

Overall, the livestreaming debut of Our Revolution continued a terrific legacy from the Bernie campaign of educating and agitating with vital progressive positions on such crucial matters as economic justice, institutional racism, climate change, Wall Street, corporate trade deals and health care.
(...)
If Bernie and Our Revolution continue to evade the present-day realities of “the madness of militarism,” their political agenda will be significantly more limited than what our revolution requires for a truly progressive future.

I think that is too negative a judgement. I agree Bernie Sanders is weaker on the military and on foreign policies in general than I like, but I like him, and he is one of the few American politicians who is a genuine progressive; "Our Revolution" is the only realistic hope I see for gathering considerable funds for progressive causes; and I also think it would be better not to start criticizing
"Our Revolution" for being "
significantly more limited than what our revolution requires" until it has started reasonably.

3. The High Cost of American Hubris

The third item is by Natylie Baldwin on Consortiumnews, and I should say immediately this is an excellent article that I strongly recommend (even though none of its links work):

This contains the following:

As science writer John Horgan concluded in his book The End of War in which he undertook a scientific analysis of war via the study of history, anthropology, psychology and sociology, the old adage about justice being a prerequisite for peace is wrong. It is peace that is necessary for justice to take root. The violent, chaotic and wasteful conditions of modern war are not conducive to the pursuit of justice or human development.

Most Americans do not share the Neoliberal, Neoconservative, or Responsibility to Protect club’s messianic vision of an America that needs to recreate the world to fit some bastardized idea of imperial “democracy” that requires a Year Zero program to destroy the social, cultural and political foundations of target countries (see Iraq, Libya, and Syria).

The restoration of our democratic republic and the revitalization of our economy and society are intimately connected to pulling out of the militarist/imperialist projects that are killing our country, along with the casualties it is responsible for around the world. It was estimated last year by physicians’ groups that deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan from the U.S. “war on terror” (USWOT) are 1.3 million at the conservative end.

Yes, indeed, I agree with everything, although I think that it is rather unlikely
that the American democratic republic can be restored without another major economic collapse. (I hope I am mistaken, but this is what I think. My main reason to think so is that the right has won most things over the last 35 years and made enormous legal changes - deregulations - that all help the rich.)

Here is some more on the number of persons that have been killed as a consequence of American operations and interventions since 1945:

Other historians and political scientists, going further back in the American Empire’s reign, have estimated 20 million to 30 million people have perished as a result of Washington’s covert operations and overt military interventions that have occurred almost continuously since 1945.

Take a moment to let that really sink in. Each of those 20 million to 30 million was a living, breathing person who – like you and me – had hopes, dreams, fears and other people who loved them. With this track record, is it any wonder that the world views the U.S. as the biggest threat to world peace by a wide margin?

That indeed is an enormous amount of persons, though it is also true that World War II (six years from 1939 till 1945), that indeed was total war, took between 50 million and 85 million persons killed.

Then there is this, although I disagree with the first paragraph:

We use our military to relentlessly kill and destroy because our political leaders no longer have the will or imagination to build something constructive. Militarism is the refuge of the morally and intellectually bankrupt.

With a Pentagon budget that comprises 54 percent of the discretionary budget – not counting the black budget expenditures of intelligence agencies estimated at an additional $52 billion annually — this is 4 percent more than 1990 levels – the time at which the late expert on the military industrial complex, Seymour Melman, made the following observation:

“The American ruling class, by 1990, has become a state/corporate managerial entity. Together they control the military-industrial complex. … The war economy, in the service of extending the decision power and wealth of America’s state and corporate managers, has been consuming the US civilian infrastructure. Roads, bridges, the water supply, waste disposal systems, housing, medical care facilities, schools are in disrepair from coast to coast.”

I disagree with the first paragraph because the fundamental reasons for militarism are not unwilling or unimaginative political leaders, but political
leaders who profit in more power or more income from war, or who have bosses who profit a lot.

But the rest is quite correct and quite serious: Eisenhower's (<- Wikipedia) military-industrial complex (<-Wikipedia) has triumphed; and the USA does at present and since the early 2000s have a war economy (<- Wikipedia), which also destroys "[r]oads, bridges, the water supply, waste disposal systems, housing, medical care facilities" and "schools".

Here is more on America's war economy (it certainly is, with over half of all the discretionary spending that the government can do):

According to geopolitical analyst, Conn Hallinan, “We spend more on our ‘official’ military budget than we do on Medicare, Medicaid, Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development combined.”

In fact, if that $6 trillion spent on wars in the Middle East was to be invested in projects that improved Americans’ lives, we could achieve the following and still have some left over:

  1. Completely upgrade our ailing infrastructure ($3.6 trillion)
  1. Invest the upfront costs to implement the Stanford University plan for 100 percent renewable energy in the U.S. by 2050, creating almost 6 million jobs over 40 years in the process ($350 billion*);
  1. Expand Medicare to cover all Americans ($394 billion);
  2. Double the salary of all high school teachers ($80 billion)

Instead, we have the budgetary sinkhole that has become the security state; simultaneously, our politicians have implemented major tax cuts for the wealthy.  The result over the past 15 years is that we have witnessed the largest transfer of money upward to the wealthiest segment of our society.

Yes, indeed. And there is a lot more in the article, which I strongly recommend - and incidentally it is true that none of the underlined links in this article work, also not on Consortiumnews. This is a pity, but the text is fine, and contains a lot more than I have quoted.

4. 'Good News,' Says Sanders, as McConnell Signals No Lame-Duck Vote on TPP

The fourth item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that the U.S. Senate will not vote on the 12-nation, corporate-friendly Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) this year, buoying progressive hopes that the trade deal will never come to fruition.

Responding to the news, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—whose opposition to the TPP was a hallmark of his presidential campaign—said: "This is good news for American workers, for the environment, and for the ability to protect public health."

McConnell told a Kentucky State Farm Bureau breakfast in Louisville that the agreement, "which has some serious flaws, will not be acted upon this year."

Grassroots groups have led a concerted campaign to prevent a vote during the so-called "lame-duck" session of Congress, after the November election and before President Barack Obama leaves office in January. The White House recently vowed to wage an "all-out push" in favor of such a vote.

"We never thought we would agree with Mitch McConnell on something, but we do agree on not bringing the TPP to a vote in the lame-duck session," said Adam Green, Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder, on Friday.
I say! And I agree with Bernie Sanders that this is good news, even though
it only means that the TPP is shifted forward to the next presidency.

5. Naomi Klein, Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky, Others Condemn 'Coup' in Brazil

The fifth item today is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Naomi Klein, Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky, Susan Sarandon, Arundhati Roy, and 17 other human rights activists, intellectuals, and public figures on Wednesday sent a letter to the Brazilian government condemning the impeachment of the country's President Dilma Rousseff, and demanding that Brazil's senate "respect the October 2014 electoral process which over 100 million people took part in."

In the letter, which was published by the U.K.-based group No Coup in Brazil, the luminaries argue that "Brazil is a major regional power and has the largest economy  in Latin America. If this sustained attack on its democratic institutions is successful, the negative shock waves will reverberate throughout the region."
I quite agree, though I should add that I am not optimistic about Brazil's chances (for the simple reason that in most fights between the people and
the rich, the rich win because they have more money and normally command the military - and I am very sorry this is so).

6. NSA Whistleblowers: NSA Hack Was Likely An Inside Job

The sixth and last item today is by WashingtonsBlog on his site:

This starts as follows:

The mainstream press is accusing Russia of being behind the release of information on NSA hacking tools.

Washington’s Blog asked the highest-level NSA whistleblower in history, William Binney – the NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, who served as the senior technical director within the agency, who managed six thousand NSA employees, the 36-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency and the NSA’s best-ever analyst and code-breaker, who mapped out the Soviet command-and-control structure before anyone else knew how, and so predicted Soviet invasions before they happened (“in the 1970s, he decrypted the Soviet Union’s command system, which provided the US and its allies with real-time surveillance of all Soviet troop movements and Russian atomic weapons”) – what he thinks of such claims.

Binney told us:

The probability is that an insider provided the data.

I say this because the NSA net is a closed net that is continuously encrypted.  Which would mean, that if someone wanted to hack into the NSA network they would not only have to know weaknesses in the network/firewalls/tables and passwords but also be able to penetrate the encryption.

So, my bet is that it is an insider.  In my opinion, if the Russians had these files, they would use them not leak them or any part of them to the world.

There is considerably more in the article, both by Binney (<- Wikipedia) and by James Bamford, who are both extensively quoted, and I agree that there may be another Snowden in the NSA.

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