Sep 11, 2016

Crisis: Endless War, Murray, Everything War, Israel & Martin, Restoration Site
Sections                                                                                     crisis index

Fifteen Years After 9/11, Neverending War
2. Truthdigger of the Week: Former British Ambassador
     and Whistleblower Craig Murray

How Everything Became War
Israel Bars Journalist Abby Martin From Gaza on
     Baseless 'Enemy State' Charges

5. On restoring the looks of my site

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 11, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the endless war the USA engages in since 2001 (with some of my own opinions added); item 2 is about former British ambassador Craig Murray, who now is not admitted into the USA because of his opinions; item 3 is about a book I haven't read by a reviewer I don't know, but the review doesn't seem well done (I explain); item 4 is about Abby Martin, who is not admitted to Gaza by Israel, because of her opinions; and item 5 is about restoring the looks on my site: I conclude that by the end of today most has been done, which means that the site now looks again as it is meant to do (which may not have been the case for quite a long while now), at least on monitors not larger tha 27 * 34 cm.

Also, I like to draw your attention to a previous Nederlog, called Rewriting my site, that is indeed about that, or more precisely: About a resized graphical background that is necessary since I have now a normal sized squarish monitor. [0] This will take quite a lot of work, which I will continue after having finished the present crisis item. (It will probably be done before the end of September. I do not yet know when, but I will say so in Nederlog if it is finished.) And here is the link to Rewriting my site, that shows how much I have corrected up till today or yesterday.

In fact, I finished the philosophy section. There still are some things to be done, that I keep till later, but the site does look a lot better now than it did before (on my monitors).

In case you wonder why I did not do much with it since 2012: My eyes were quite painful. They are not healed yet, but they are a lot better now, and that is the main explanation.

Also, see today's fifth item.

1. Fifteen Years After 9/11, Neverending War

The first item today is by Alex Emmons on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

In the days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Congress voted to authorize military force against the people who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the hijackings, few Americans could have imagined the resulting manhunt would span from West Africa all the way to the Philippines, and would outlast two two-term presidents.

Today, U.S. military engagement in the Middle East looks increasingly permanent. Despite the White House having formally ended the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in both countries. The U.S. is dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria faster than it can make them, and according to the Pentagon, its bombing campaign in Libya has “no end point at this particular moment.” The U.S. is also helping Saudi Arabia wage war in Yemen, in addition to conducting occasional airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia.

Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, it looks like the War on Terror is still in its opening act.

Yes, it does. And 16 years of war (which will be reached in a few months' time), which is more than twice as long as the two world wars in the 20th Century, suggest a number of things for me. Here are some:

(1) The "War on Terror" was a fraud: It was a war that would show the USA's
     supremacy everywhere, while "terrorism" was a fraud to allow the secret
services to gather dossiers on absolutely everyone (which in my mind is
the end of democracy, the end of freedom, and the foundation of governmental autocracy).
(2) The USA has very much changed the conditions for engagement:
     Whatever attacks capitalism or its spread, may be warred upon
(3) The USA has very much changed the conditions for military engagements:
     These are now up to the tastes of the president and not to Congress.
(4) The wars the USA fights are very much changing the USA, and help to
     give all power to the military, the government and the rich - and this is one of the basic reasons for war: More power
to the military, to the government and to the few rich; no powers for the many non-rich.

I am only mentioning some of the things that strike me. Indeed, one of the problems with "the war on terror" is to see through propaganda, lies and deceptions from the government and the military.

In case you disagree (you may, and I don't know everthing) here are some of the major changes 15 years of continuous wars made:

Despite the lack of progress, the last 15 years of war have come at a horrific cost.

The U.S. lost nearly 2,300 service members in Afghanistan, and nearly 4,500 in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands were forever damaged. Those figures do not include at least 6,900 U.S. contractors and at least 43,000 Afghan and Iraqi troops who lost their lives.

The death toll in the countries the U.S. attacked remains untallied, but conservative estimates range from the hundreds of thousands to well over a million. Add to that the hundreds of people tortured in U.S. custody, and thousands killed by U.S. drones in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.

Incidentally, it is noteworthy that more "US contractors" lost their lives than American military service men and women. And I think that the number of those killed in the Middle East by U.S. attacks is very probably above one million lives, most of which were civilian lives.

There is this about the enormous financial costs of 15 years of war:

The financial cost of the War on Terror is incalculable. The Iraq and Afghan wars, including the medical costs for veterans, are estimated to end up costing the U.S. at least $4 trillion dollars. Intelligence budgets have doubled, on top of more than $800 billion spent on “homeland security.”

Note that this covers only the "Iraq and Afghan wars". Incidentally, because I am trying to look through the propaganda, and noted this already in 2005 (in Dutch):

I would not be amazed if the wars are being fought to allow the secret services the - unconstitutional, extremely anti-democratic - powers to collect all intelligence they can get on anyone living anywhere, which in turn is seen by me (at least) as a preparation for the total domination of the few rich, and the complete disappearances of democracy and freedom. (I call this "neofascism", but I do not insist on the name. It may also be called  rightist totalitarianism, for that is part of what drives it.)

And this is about the consequences for U.S. laws:

At home, the War on Terror has become a Constitutional nightmare. The U.S. has adopted a practice of indefinitely detaining terror suspects. Police departments across the country secretly import military grade spy equipment. Courts have ruled that families cannot sue to get their children off government kill lists. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. has become the largest surveillance state in history.

For me, these are all signs of the ever and ever growing anti-democratic rulings and the growth of totalitarianism in the USA.

As I said, you may look differently upon this. I look upon 15 years of continuous US wars as attempts to build a new, anti-democratic, rightist totalitarian kind of surveillance society in the USA, but I agree that the rightists, the  Pentagon and the few rich have not - as yet - totally triumphed.

2. Truthdigger of the Week: Former British Ambassador and Whistleblower Craig Murray

second item is by Emma Niles on Truthdig:
This is from the beginning:
This week, Murray was denied entry into the United States via the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. The program is intended to enable “most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa.” Murray is set to chair the presentation of this year’s Sam Adams Award for integrity in intelligence, which takes place Sept. 25, to CIA-torture whistleblower John Kiriakou.

Despite visiting the U.S. under this visa waiver program many times in the past, Murray was told his travel was “not authorized” when he applied for entry this time around.
I have repeatedly written about Craig Murray before. See here and here, for example - and I consider Murray's denial of entry in the USA as good evidence for the growth of totalitarianism in the USA.

Here is Murray himself:

It is worth noting that despite the highly critical things I have published about Putin, about civil liberties in Russia and the annexation of the Crimea, I have never been refused entry to Russia. The only two countries that have ever refused me entry clearance are Uzbekistan and the USA. What does that tell you?

I have no criminal record, no connection to drugs or terrorism, have a return ticket, hotel booking and sufficient funds. I have a passport from a visa waiver country and have visited the USA frequently before during 38 years and never overstayed. The only possible grounds for this refusal of entry clearance are things I have written against neo-liberalism, attacks on civil liberties and neo-conservative foreign policy. People at the conference in Washington will now not be able to hear me speak.

Plainly ideas can be dangerous. So much for the land of the free!

Yes, indeed: I completely agree: "The only possible grounds for this refusal of entry clearance are things I have written against neo-liberalism, attacks on civil liberties and neo-conservative foreign policy." And these are now forbidden by the U.S. government, for the simple reason that these opinions
clash with the opinions of
the U.S. government. (In case you missed it: That
is typically governmental totalitarianism.)

Finally, here is a bit on what got Craig Murray dismissed as a British ambassador, and - it seems - now refused admission by the USA government:

“People come to me very often after being tortured,” he told The Guardian’s Nick Paton Walsh in 2004, shortly before his dismissal. “Normally this includes homosexual and heterosexual rape of close relatives in front of the victim; rape with objects such as broken bottles; asphyxiation; pulling out of fingernails; smashing of limbs with blunt objects; and use of boiling liquids including complete immersion of the body. This is not uncommon. Thousands of people a year suffer from this torture at the hands of the authorities.”

Clearly, Craig Murray must be a very bad man in the eyes of the British and the American governments.

3. How Everything Became War

The third
item is by Celeste Ward Venter on Truthdig:

This is from near the beginning:

Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor, former adviser at the Defense Department and influential voice in U.S. policy circles, is one of the many critics of America’s “direct action” program using these drones. In her new book, “How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything,” she argues that drone strikes rely on problematic legal justifications and that their effectiveness and legitimacy cannot be independently evaluated because of the program’s secrecy. These strikes, along with government opacity about them, she believes, will ultimately undermine the international rule of law, further weaken America’s moral standing and set the stage for others to follow our law-bending lead.

In fact, the whole article is a review of Brooks' new book, which is called “How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales From the Pentagon”.

I know who Rosa Brooks (<- Wikipedia) is, at least in the sense that she is on Wikipedia and is the daughter of Barbara and John Ehrenreich (known to me as
leftist progressives), and that she was appointed by Obama in 2009 as a Pentagon advisor.

I like what I've quoted above: I think Brooks is right. Then again, I have no idea whatsoever who Venter is. She has several criticisms of Rosa Brooks' book, and I will take them up below.

Venter's first criticism is that Brooks is not quite precise in what she understands by "war". I skipped it, because I don't think it was Brooks' duty to faultlessly define what "war" is (which I admit is a somewhat hazy concept for a very long time, indeed in part because the governments' interests are often not the same as the people's, and because "all governments lie", as I.F. Stone put it.).

Here is the second criticism:

Second, if that is the “How Everything Became War” part of the book, there is a main line of argument that concerns the structure of U.S. government organizations and their inability to deal with the threats and challenges we face. Brooks believes that civilian agencies have been chronically underfunded and are incapable of conducting much of what we might consider nonmilitary functions on a large scale — digging wells, improving governance, even developing the rule of law in struggling nations. Since Sept. 11, and arguably well before, the military has stepped into the gap. This is “How the Military Became Everything.”

According to Venter, Brooks' arguments are "a bit threadbare". I think that argument is bullshit: The military have been taking over many functions from the government, and are doing it more. This is also why they get over half
of the budget, and the non-military part of government doesn't.

Here is Venter's third criticism:

Third, Brooks offers a number of ambitious and controversial prescriptions, such as surrendering many functions to the military services and totally restructuring them, and introducing a mandatory universal service requirement for all young people (with a choice of civilian or military service). What is missing is an in-depth discussion of how all this might be done, the costs and benefits, and the potential unintended consequences.

I don't think this is valid criticism. Venter may believe that Brooks's book is not thick enough, and should not only have been about war, and her ideas to change the conduct of war in the USA, but should also have been about how the changes she proposes (and I agree with a universal service requirement, for I am against professional armies) are to be implemented. I think this is
fundamentally baloney.

Here is Venter's fourth criticism:

Finally, one wonders whether Brooks thinks that our current state of perpetual war is an unfortunate development in the world, a product of technological, socioeconomic and cultural trends, or whether it might be a problem of America’s own making, as analysts like Andrew Bacevich have argued. Is what used to be called the “Long War” simply a product of global events, or the outcome of choices the United States has made and could change?

Really now?! Well, here is my answer: Clearly "the "Long War"" is "the outcome of choices the United States has made". To claim otherwise is to
deny all responsibility and accountability of the governmental and military leaders of the USA.

So all in all I don't think this was a good review (but I admit I haven't read Brooks' book).

4. Israel Bars Journalist Abby Martin From Gaza on Baseless 'Enemy State' Charges 

The fourth item is by Sarah Lazare on AlterNet:
This starts as follows (and I like Abby Martin (<- Wikipedia), whom this article is about, simply because she is intelligent and courageous):

The Israeli Government Press Office has denied the host of TeleSUR's popular "Empire Files" program Abby Martin credentials to enter Gaza, citing baseless charges that she is associated with the “enemy country” of Iran.

“We are currently examining information that TeleSUR is associated with the government of Iran, an enemy country under the Israeli law,” Ron Paz, the director of the Foreign Press Department, wrote to Martin in an email dated September 4. “The GPO [Government Press Office] rules prevent us from issuing accreditation to those working on behalf of enemy countries.”

What utter baloney! Paz doesn't want to admit Abby Martin because he knows she is a good and intelligent journalist who doesn't agree with the
Israeli government, and that therefore the Israelis don't want to admit her.

It's as simple as that (and the rest it totalitarianism, from which Israel suffers more and more the longer Nethanyahu has the power there).

Here is Abby Martin herself:

Martin is host of the program “The Empire Files,” which describes its mission as “recording a world shaped by war and inequality.” Her reporting has consistently reported on Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians and raised questions about why major media outlets are failing to cover these abuses.

“So far on our travels in Palestine, we have witnessed a massive and desperate human rights catastrophe—so it is not surprising that the perpetrator of these crimes is attempting to limit how much we can see and report on,” said Martin. “I believe this is part of a larger effort by the Israeli state to hide the grim reality of their illegal occupation and expansion.”


5. On restoring the looks of my site

The fifth and last item today is by me. Here is my reference:

This was last updated yesterday, and will be updated again later today, with the news that the site has been mostly restored in all directories, which in turn means that nearly everything on the site (with some exceptions, more of which below) now can be seen on ordinary squarish monitors of height * breadth = 27 * 34 cm with a full blue graphical background, that extends all over the screen.

First, it is quite possible that the previous site - with a graphical background that is too small for monitors of the size 27 * 34 - dates back quite a long time, for I had smaller monitors for a long time.

If so, I am truly sorry: I want my site to look well, but my health has been
really horrible since 1996 (at the latest) and until 2012, when the M.E. grew a bit less, but my eyes collapsed.

It is now 2016, and in fact I have only now the required combination of a somewhat improved health, and - since February 2016 - also of improved eyes. (Neither has healed, but both are a bit or considerably better.)

So - at long last, I admit - there now is a new site, or at least a site with a background that ought to fit standard squarish monitors of today.

Second, I said there were some exceptions. These are especially in the philosophy directories for Multatuli, Wittgenstein and Maartensz, of which the first two are quite old, and need rather a lot of work, especially the Multatuli

I think I may quickly succeed in doing what still needs to be done in the Wittgenstein and Maartensz sections, but this is not so with the Multatuli- directories, which have very many small files, all of which need new html for
proper backgrounds.

So Multatuli will need rather a lot more work, and that will very probably extend beyond September 2016. Also, I may rewrite some, if only because
my full review of the seven books of Ideas is the first in some 150 years to
appear (and may very well be the last forever).

Third, I did work some eight days on rewriting the site. The main reason for the time and the work needed is that I - long ago: around 2002 - decided that I didn't want the blue graphical background to be only in the /images/ directory (i) because this might invite some bugged copy, and (ii) because I found it quite unhandy. (I may have been mistaken in both respects, but this is what I did, and it is very difficult to undo.)

Therefore I have the same graphical background in many directories, and that
is what made making the changes a lot more difficult than they would have
been otherwise.

In any case:

I have now restored the looks of my site to what they were intended to be (on the monitor I now use, which is larger than the previous one). There still is some work to do, that probably will be done quickly, apart from the Multatuli- section, that will probably take more time and more work. (Nearly all of the
texts there are properly readable, but they mostly lack the right background now.)

And this was rather a lot of - boring - work to do, which I wasn't properly capable of from 1996 till 2016, either because of my health (that was considerably worse till 2012 than it is now) or because of my painful eyes (that were a lot worse from 2012-2015).

Finally, there also is a restriction:

Html is a universal font that ought to be displayed the same across many operating systems, browsers and monitors. I hope it is, but I gave up on checking it does (also because repairing it for an operating system I don't owe is quite difficult).

Otherwise, I do check it is correct for the monitor I use (which has a standard size, that is incidentally larger than all laptops I have seen), and for the browsers and OS that I much prefer.

But that is all I will continue to do (and it is more than enough for me). I hope the restored looks of my site are available to people who read my site, and trust they are for many. [1]

P.S. Sep 12, 2016: I updated the first full statement in this article, which gives the date. I forgot to do so yesterday.
[0] Incidentally: I do want to keep my sites to look reasonable on the monitors (and computers and OSs) that I use, and I am trying to do so for
the new monitor I have, but I gave up (by 2012) trying to please everyone:

I do take care it works well on Firefox, on Ubuntu, on a normal sized squarish monitor, but I will not check anymore how my site is displayed on other monitors, other OSs and other screens: Too much work for my health. (I guess it works on most systems, since it is html that ought to work the same everywhere, but I lack the health to check and repair.)

[1] In case it doesn't: You may check settings. Incidentally, in case your monitor (or the screen of your laptop) isn't larger than
23 * 30.5 cm the changes I made are probably invisible.

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