This starts as follows:
In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the
leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now
sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S.
politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally
unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy
are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian
The Pentagon’s statement said the attack was “in retaliation for the
regime of Bashar Assad using nerve agents to attack his own people.”
Both Syria and Russia vehemently deny that the Syrian
military used chemical weapons.
In fact, that "nothing unites people behind the
leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war" is a consequence of the fact that people are intensely social animals that live in - face - groups, while the kinds of ideologies most groups anywhere have
are mostly softly or harshly totalitarian: "Our Group" - whoever's it is; whatever it stands or strives for - is better than any other group, and especially those groups that
dare to oppose Our Group.
So I agree with that bit, and I mostly but not wholly agree with the rest, although I should add that I simply don't believe Syria and Russia's denials "that the Syrian
military used chemical weapons", and not because they might not be correct in this
case (I don't know) but because all parties involved in the conflict lie and deceive a very great lot.
There is thus about "U.S. war fever":
But U.S. war fever waits for nothing. Once the tidal wave of American war frenzy is unleashed, questioning the casus belli
is impermissible. Wanting conclusive evidence before bombing commences
is vilified as sympathy with and support for the foreign villain (the
same way that asking for evidence of claims against Russia instantly
converts one into a “Kremlin agent” or “stooge”).
As I started saying in this review, I think this is - in the end - mostly due to the fact
that most social groups are inherently totalitarian, as can be seen from their groupthinking
(although indeed there also are shades of totalitarianism), but another
reason is - I think - the fact that the mainstream media in the U.S.
are meanwhile more involved in propagandizing and deceiving their readers or viewers, than in more or less adequately providing them with mostly true information.
This is also a long article that I cannot review adequately in the context of a Nederlog (that is not often longer than 50 Kb) and indeed I will not even try to do so.
Instead, I will give the ten points
Greenwald lists, but suppress nearly all of the explanatory texts, and
briefly comment on them from my own point of view (which is rather like Greenwald's, but which also does not coincide with it).
Here are the first two points (and remember that each point comes with a fair amount of text that you may read by clicking the above dotted link):
1. New wars will always strengthen Trump: as they do for every leader.
I gave my explanation for 1.: Groups
are nearly always totalitarian to some extent and the same applies
(with some buts that I leave out) to nations (with a national language,
national papers and national propaganda).
2. Democrats’ jingoistic rhetoric has left them no ability – or desire – to oppose Trump’s wars.
As to 2.: I take it that, for now at least, this is mostly due to the combination of point 1. and the very great lacks in the Democratic Party (as led by Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton).
Point 3. is - alas - true, and shows
that the forces of totalitarianism are strong and pronounced in the USA
(where the same who are totalitarian pour out scorn over those who dare
say they are). This is a very sad development, and was not yet the case with the Vietnam war, though it was the case (it seems to me) starting with the Gulf War of 1991/2, that was mostly pure propaganda on TV and on the radio.
3. In wartime, US television instantly converts into state media.
4. Trump’s bombing is illegal, but presidents are now omnipotent.
Point 4. is also - alas - true, although presidents are (as yet, so far) not completely omnipotent. And indeed both their omnipotence and Trump's bombing are illegal,
but the - relative - omnipotence of the latest American presidents did
not start with Trump but with Bush Jr.'s war against Iraq.
I don't see Trump as "an Inept Fascist" (although I do think he is both a neofascist and - like many psychiatrists and psychologists - as not sane), but clearly a president may be inept or insane in various ways and still front the troops as Commander in Chief. (Also, wars are less waged by presidents than by the military.)
5. How can those who view Trump as an Inept Fascist now trust him to wage war?
6. Like all good conspiracy theories, no evidence can kill the Kremlin-controls-Trump tale.
Hm. I think the fact that I have been reading now since November 10 or so that the Russians helped Trump to win the elections (5 months now!) while there still has not appeared any evidence that - very probably - should
have been there if it were true, does not so much point to "good
conspiracy theories" as to the fact that the mainstream media these
days mostly print propaganda.
Then there is this, which I print with some of the comments it has in the original text:
7. The fraud of humanitarianism works every time for (and on) American elites.
In the last two months, Trump has ordered a commando raid in Yemen
that has massacred children and dozens of innocent people, bombed Mosul
and killed scores of civilians, and bombed a mosque near Aleppo that
killed dozens. During the campaign, he vowed to murder the family
members of alleged terrorists. He shut America’s doors to Syrian
refugees, and is deporting people who have lived in the U.S. since
childhood despite committing no crimes.
Given all that, could American elites possibly believe him when he
says that he is motivated by humanitarianism – deep-seated anger over
seeing Syrian children harmed – in bombing Syria? Yes, they could, and
they are. That’s because American elites always want to believe – or at
least want others to believe – that the U.S. bombs countries over and
over not out of aggression or dominance but out of love, freedom,
democracy and humanitarian concern.
Yes, I think that is mostly correct - "Our
American Heroes Are Bombing The Evil Syrians Out Of Love, Freedom,
Democracy And Humanitarian Concerns", as a headline might go - but I
gave my explanation under 1.: This is "The Happy Side" of the totalitarian decision to make those bombed Evil People: If They are very evil, then We must be very good in resisting their evil.
And here are the last three points:
I think these points are mostly correct, but less important. There is a lot more in the article, that is recommended.
8. Support for Trump’s Bombing Shows Two Toxic U.S. Conceits: “Do Something” and “Look Strong”
9. Obama’s refusal to bomb Assad hovers over everything.
10. None of this disproves, obviously, that Hillary Clinton was also a dangerous hawk.
2. Stop treating former CIA chief Michael Hayden as an arbiter of truth
The second article is by Trevor Timm on the Columbia Journalism Review:
This starts as follows:
On the subject of Donald Trump
and his relationship with intelligence agencies, there’s one
commentator you are bound to see quoted more than anyone else: Michael
Hayden, the former NSA chief and CIA director under George W. Bush.
It doesn’t matter what cable channel you prefer (CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News), what talk show you watch (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Real Time with Bill Maher), or website you read (The New York Times, Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal),
Hayden is everywhere, commenting on the day’s news, while inevitably
being portrayed as Mr. Reasonable: a post-partisan straight shooter who
will tell you How It Really Works
But members of the media who play along with this fantasyland portrayal of Hayden should be embarrassed. Hayden has a long history of making misleading and outright false statements,
and by the estimation of many lawyers, likely committed countless
felonies during the Bush administration. It is something of a wonder
that someone responsible for so many reprehensible acts is now
considered a totally above-the-fray, honest commentator on all issues
Yes indeed. And in fact Michael Hayden is one of the leading American state terrorists: What he does is grossly and patently illegal, and is extremely dangerous, for a state where the secret services know everything about anyone is almost certain to evolve into an extremely totalitarian state, but I agree he is dealt with kid gloves and as if he is a honest person, while he clearly is a very big liar, and he has been leading
the American state terrorists for a long time (and now is pensioned).
Here is more on Hayden:
Is the media attention span really so short that they forget that New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau won a Pulitzer prize in 2006
for exposing Bush’s illegal NSA warrantless wiretapping program that
was headed up by none other than Michael Hayden, the agency’s director
at the time?
is about how the secret personal surveillance of each and every
American, together with the secret personal surveillance of everyone
who has a computer or a cellphone, came about:
In October 2001, President Bush called up Michael Hayden
at the NSA and asked him what more the NSA could do to conduct
surveillance in the US, despite the NSA operating for years exclusively
as a foreign intelligence collection agency. In fact, the administration
literally called it the “President’s Surveillance Program.” (In other
words, the president was directly “authorizing electronic
Hayden proceeded to set up a program
where the NSA collected all the phone records of everyone in the United
States, and targeted untold number of US persons for wiretapping the
content of their international phone calls and emails (“surveillance” by
And this is how Michael Hayden - first head of the NSA, then of the CIA - acted to defend the CIA's tortures:
In the Senate’s blistering 2014 CIA torture report, the name “Michael Hayden” is singled out more than 200 times.
He was named CIA director in 2006, after the worst of the CIA’s crimes
went down, but it was his job to be chief defender of the agency in
Bush’s second term when many of the stories of torture first came to
this is from the Senate's report on torture: There is a special
appendix of three dozen pages - 36 pages - of lies, evasions and
misleading statements that Hayden made, just in defense of the CIA's
The Senate’s report ends with a special appendix
that is over three dozen pages long that is almost exclusively
dedicated to Hayden. It is filled with his testimony to Congress, next
to the actual facts showing statement after statement he made was
inaccurate, misleading, false, or outright lies. Three dozen pages!
In brief, he is an extremely
despicable individual who has been very busy to lay down the foundations of
American neofascism: The surveillance of each and every American as
if he or she is a terrorist. And in fact I never believe a word he says or writes.
This is a fine and recommended article.
3. Bill Maher’s Muddled Attacks on Islam
The third article is by J.P. Sotille on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
Bill Maher thinks he knows exactly why they hate us. In the world
according to Bill, all those agitated Muslims on the receiving end of
multiple interventions, numerous “double-tap” drone strikes, countless
tons of falling bombs, the systematic imprisonment of “rendered”
individuals and the widespread use of lawless torture are, simply put,
the outgrowth of a backwards belief system. And those beliefs also
inspire a type of religious violence that’s become a destructive force
unparalleled in today’s world.
I say. Well... I don't think Bill Maher is
right about Islam, but then again I don't think J.P. Sotille's
criticism of Maher is right either - and I have no idea about who J.P.
Sotille is, whereas I have more or less adequate ideas about Bill
Here is more by Sotille:
Maher and his confrontational cohorts — like famed geneticist Richard Dawkins and anti-Muslim gadfly Sam Harris —
have targeted Islam as something far more pernicious than just another
fantasy-based religion with the usual roster of fundamentalists,
self-appointed prophets and violent opportunists.
For them, Islam is sui generis. Islam is, according to their unique atheist orthodoxy, both violent and repressive in ways that make it wholly unique. Islam is not just an intellectual error, but a dangerous cultural cancer.
Essentially, these New Atheists have simplified a question almost as
old as the “War on Terror” it so inadequately tries to explain. For
them, the answer is clear. They hate us because Islam is the enemy of
the “liberal” values and, by extension, of the entire civilized world.
Again this is rather strongly colored.
Also, I must say that I distrust attacks on Maher that styles him a
"New Atheist": I am a lifelong atheist, as were my parents and their
parents, and I dislike all religion, simply because it is
non-scientific, irrational and
unreasonable thinking. Perhaps Sotille is an Old Religionist, but if so - I don't know -
he is not rational.
Then there is this to clarify Maher's position:
To be fair, Maher doesn’t employ the same type of paranoid histrionics
that both buoys and enriches those right-wing poseurs and the other troubling Islamophobes
who’ve found a home in Trump’s White House. Rather, Maher makes a
“liberal” argument about the need to stand up for “progressive” values
like equality for women, free speech and freedom of religious
conscience. He rightly points to countries like Saudi Arabia and
Afghanistan as places where a basic level of human rights is not
available to women, to religious minorities, to homosexuals or to anyone
not willing to conform to fundamentalist orthodoxy.
This is more or less correct, but Sotille
is simply mistaken in putting quotes around the terms "liberal" and
"progressive": What Maher gives are mostly liberal arguments (that I do
not quite agree with, but that are liberal, in the American sense), and the values he defends are mostly progressive, and I agree with them and hold they are important.
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this (rather long) attack on Maher:
Instead he and his fellow finger-pointers rail against the Quran as the “motherlode of bad ideas.” Maher says Islam is “the only religion that acts like the Mafia” and even assured Muslim-American Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, that the Quran is “a hate-filled holy book.”
Maher’s presentation is a “schlock and awe” shtick that burnishes his
credentials as a self-appointed bullshit detector. It preserves his
long-standing brand as an anti-PC crusader and, like so many great
comedians before him, as someone willing to “go there” even if it makes
I think Maher is mistaken in holding that "Islam is “the only religion that acts like the Mafia”", if only because most Islamists are neither terrorists nor Mafiosi, but he is right
that the Quran does hold quite a few unsympathetic norms and codes (as
does the Bible), and I agree with him on his atheism. (Sotille
But I also think that J.P. Sotille did little else than criticize Maher from a conventional
4. Jeremy Scahill Tears Apart Corporate Media's "Atrocious" Syria Coverage
"leftist" point of view, and the conventional "leftist" point of view is not very leftist in my leftist eyes (educated by leftist parents), and besides, it is also mistaken, and not
only about Islam, but about what real leftism is supposed to be.
The fourth and last article today is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Independent journalist Jeremy Scahill on Sunday offered scathing criticism of corporate media's coverage of the cruise missile strike President Donald Trump ordered last week on Syria.
Speaking on CNN's "Reliable Sources" to host Brian Stelter, The Intercept co-founder and Dirty Wars author took particular aim at that network's Fareed Zakaria and MSNBC's Brian Williams.
"The media coverage has been atrocious, particularly—and this is
across the board on every network—particularly when the strike is
happening. It's like they're in awe of the cruise missiles," Scahill
Indeed, media critics pounced on the comments by Zakaria—who called it Trump's "big moment"—and Williams—who called the strikes "beautiful" —as examples of the "classic pundit attitude toward presidential violence."
Referring to Zakaria, Scahill said "if that guy could have sex with this
cruise missile attack, I think he would do it." And Brian Williams, he
said, "seemed to be in true love with the cruise missile strike, in a
despicable way invoking Leonard Cohen's name." Pressed by Stelter if
Zakaria's comments were taken out of context, Scahill said, "Fareed
Zakaria was also a major cheerleader for the Iraq War."
I mostly agree with Scahill, although I also think it fair to point out (as I did above) that the kinds of ideologies that most groups (of any political or religious kind) anywhere have, are mostly softly or harshly totalitarian: "Our Group" - whoever's it is; whatever it stands or strives for - is better than any other group, and especially those groups that dare to oppose Our Group.
Here is another good point Scahill made:
Scahill also criticized corporate media for elevating the voices of
retired military who may now be personally profiting from continued U.S.
"CNN needs to needs to immediate withdraw all retired generals and colonels from its airways," Scahill said.
"I think that the American people deserve to know what was the
private sector record of these individuals when it came to the weapons
industry or profiting in the private sector off of the proliferation of
U.S. wars that happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere.
There is not the kind of transparency that is required of a truly
democratic press when you're not revealing the extent to which these
people have benefited in the private sector from these wars," he said.
Yes indeed - but decent factual reporting
on the wars that the Americans conduct has grown a lot more difficult
since the American army started "embedding" journalists, so as to be
fairly certain that what they wrote conformed to what the army wanted
them to write.
And this has been going on now since the Gulf War (<- Wikipedia) of 1990/91, that is for something like 27 years now.
This article ends with a quote from Dan
Rather, who was a prominent journalist in the days that American
journalism, if not good, at least was more honest, less ideological and
less propagandistic than it is now:
"The number of members of the press who have lauded the actions last
night as 'presidential' is concerning. War must never be considered a
public relations operation. It is not a way for an Administration to
gain a narrative. It is a step into a dangerous unknown and its full
impact is impossible to predict, especially in the immediate wake of the
first strike," he wrote.