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Friday, November 17, 2017

Crisis: On Bannon, The U.S. Military, ¨Russia-gate¨, Renegade Warfare, Liberalism

Sections                                                crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from November 17, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday
, November 17, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from November 17, 2017
1. Steve Bannon Is Bad for the Jews
2. The Profound Misunderstanding the Public Has
     About How the Military Operates

3. Russia-gate Spreads to Europe
4. America’s Renegade Warfare
5. Liberalism Demands That We Treat People Fairly,
     Even When It’s Hard
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Steve Bannon Is Bad for the Jews

This is by Bret Stephens on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

The Zionist Organization of America feted Stephen K. Bannon at a gala dinner in New York on Sunday night. What a disgrace.

What a mistake, too.

It’s a disgrace because no organization that purports to represent the interests of the Jewish people should ever embrace anyone who embraces anti-Semites. Jews have enemies enough. To provide those enemies with moral cover for the sake of political convenience or ideology corroborates the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes and strengthens the hand of those who mean us harm.

I say. And I have a remark and a question on this bit:

My remark is that I selected this article because I agree with its title, at least in the sense that Bannon is a known anti-semite, and it seems pretty strange that those who aim to protect ¨the Jews¨ also ¨feted¨ a known anti-semite.

My question relates to my quoting ¨the Jews¨: What is a Jew these days?

It used to be rather easy before WW II: Jews were people who had the Jewish faith; non-Jews were those who did not have the faith. Then the Nazis decided to exterminate all Jews on the basis of completely insane racism - and one of the consequences of this was that ¨being a Jew¨ reverted from a statement of faith to something that was rather close to
a statement on race: One was ¨a Jew¨ if one had the Jewish faith or one was born into (something like) a Jewish tradition, also without having the faith.

Both of my parents were in the anti-Nazi resistance in Holland, and risked their lives and tortures doing that. My father and his father were arrested in 1941 and convicted to concentration camp imprisonment, which my grandfather did not survive.

I think my father had ¨a Jewish¨ mother in some bullshit racial sense, but in fact her religion was Protestant. I do not know about my mother or my mother´s parents, and therefore also do not know about myself (though I deny I am a Jew since I lack the faith and wasn´t raised in any
Jewish tradition) [2].

And I am asking this question in part because I do not know in what sense Bret Stephens is ¨a Jew¨, and in part because ¨being a Jew¨ has become at least a bit vague.

Anyway... back to the article:

But just as there are anti-Zionist Jews, there are also anti-Semitic Zionists. The Nazis initially endorsed the idea of getting German Jews to shove off to Mandated Palestine. Spencer calls himself a “white Zionist,” on the factitious theory that Israel is the sort of ethno-nationalist state he’d like to see America become.

Simply put, support for Israel is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a friend to Jews.
Well... I don´t like Nethanyahu, for one thing. For another thing, I think Israel was created by Zionists plus the influence of the murder on 6 million Jews. I think therefore one can be ¨a friend to Jews¨ without automatically supporting Israel, especially Israel-under-Nethanyahu.

This is from the ending of the article:

Anti-Semitism is both the socialism of fools and the conservatism of creeps. If the past century holds a lesson for Jews, it’s to beware every form of illiberalism, including the illiberalism of those who purport to be on our side.

I agree with that, and this is a recommended article.


2. The Profound Misunderstanding the Public Has About How the Military Operates

This article is by Frank Joyce on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

In one of the greatest PR successes of all time, close to 100 percent of Americans believe the United States has a volunteer military. It does not. What the United States does have is a recruited military.

The distinction matters for many reasons, most importantly because overcoming profound public misunderstandings on this and other realities of the U.S. killing machine is essential to building a vigorous anti-war movement.

I think this is a bit misleading: The recruited military in the USA are volunteers, but the main point that was changed by Nixon, who terminated the draft that might sent the sons of rich men to be killed,
is precisely that a drafted army recruited by law from the civilian population (for the most part) was replaced by a non-drafted army that was not
recruited by law from the civilian population.

But I agree mostly with the above and one of the (partial) consequences of stopping the draft that might recruit every man as a military for some
years was the following:

Just as a fish may not know it’s wet, few Americans have any idea of just how pervasive militarism is in defining who we are as a nation and as a people. From the massacre of indigenous people to the suppression of slave resistance, we are steeped in brutal and relentless slaughter. We are also utterly and completely immersed in language designed to confuse and obscure just how much killing and destroying we do.

At the very core of our identity is the idea that “freedom” requires that we kill, kill, kill. “They died for our freedom,” rings throughout the land, not just on Veterans Day or July 4, but every day. While we say they died, what we also mean is that they killed. As Donald Trump and General Kelly put it, “that’s what they signed up for.”

I think the above is mostly true, but the following is questionable (and indeed hardly consistent):

The companion myth to the fairy tale that we have a volunteer military is that we can’t have an effective anti-war movement because there is no draft. This assumption rests on the widespread embrace of a pro-war talking point with a long history. Even many who were in the movement that opposed the U.S. war on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are bamboozled by this baloney.

But make no mistake about it; the assumption that the draft caused the 1960s anti-war movement is demonstrably false.
(...)
None of this is meant to say that the draft played no role in Vietnam war resistance. While it wasn’t the cause of the opposition, it did provide a powerful way to disrupt the war-making machinery.

I´d say that the draft played a very important role ¨in Vietnam war resistance¨, for the quite simple and easily understood reason that every man of the right age risked being drafted in the Vietnam war, which means that every man of the right age risked being killed or maimed in a war that he might thoroughly disagree with.

But I agree there is ¨a profound misunderstanding the public has about how the military operates¨, and I would suggest myself that a part of the cause is that most American families do not worry anymore that their sons are to be killed or wounded in a war they were drafted for.


3. Russia-gate Spreads to Europe

This article is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

Ever since the U.S. government dangled $160 million last December to combat Russian propaganda and disinformation, obscure academics and eager think tanks have been lining up for a shot at the loot, an unseemly rush to profit that is spreading the Russia-gate hysteria beyond the United States to Europe.

Now, it seems that every development, which is unwelcomed by the Establishment – from Brexit to the Catalonia independence referendum – gets blamed on Russia! Russia! Russia!

The methodology of these “studies” is to find some Twitter accounts or Facebook pages somehow “linked” to Russia (although it’s never exactly clear how that is determined) and complain about the “Russian-linked” comments on political developments in the West. The assumption is that the gullible people of the United States, United Kingdom and Catalonia were either waiting for some secret Kremlin guidance to decide how to vote or were easily duped.
(...)
This week, British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of seeking to “undermine free societies” and to “sow discord in the West.”

Yes indeed, Parry is quite right, indeed both on the fact that ¨the Russia-gate hysteria¨ now is spreading to Europe as about the fact that
it is hysteria that has very little to do with the real facts.

Besides, there is something else that is quite strange: Whereas much of the propaganda against the Russians seems to be moved by the - extra- ordinarily schematic - propaganda that was popular while Russia was ¨a socialist country¨ [3] it certainly is not a socialist country for well over 25 years now, but is in fact - in part thanks to the help of the USA in the 1990ies - as capitalistic as is the USA.

Then again, the supposed ¨studies¨ that form the basis of many suspicions that ¨Russia! Russia! Russia!¨ did it are in fact no studies at all but are plain propaganda and evident (for those who know about scientific methods) deceptions:

Yet, another core problem with these “studies” is that they don’t come with any “controls,” i.e., what is used in science to test a hypothesis against some base line to determine if you are finding something unusual or just some normal occurrence.

Precisely. And here is more on the - quite totalitarian - propaganda that is these days spread by ¨The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the U.S. mainstream¨:

If you even tried to gauge the role of “Israeli-linked” operations in influencing Western decision-making, you’d be accused of anti-Semitism. And if that didn’t stop you, there would be furious editorials in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the U.S. mainstream media denouncing you as a “conspiracy theorist.” Who could possibly think that Israel would do anything underhanded to shape Western attitudes?

And, if you sought the comparative figures for the West interfering in the affairs of other nations, you’d be faulted for engaging in “false moral equivalence.” After all, whatever the U.S. government and its allies do is good for the world; whereas Russia is the fount of evil.

And - once again - everything that was mentioned in the last quote is an example of plainly totalitarian attitudes, except that according to Wikipedia these attitudes cannot be totalitarian, because only authoritarian states with a secret police can be authoritarian, that is, according to the modern Wikipedia (that lies). [3]


4. America’s Renegade Warfare

This article is by Nicholas Davies on Consortiumnews. This has a subtitle:

Claiming the right to launch preemptive wars and fighting an ill-defined “global war on terror,” the U.S. government has slaughtered vast numbers of civilians in defiance of international law (..)

I quoted this because I think it is exactly right. This is also the beginning of an article that is too long to properly abbreviate. The article starts as follows:

Seventy-seven million people in North and South Korea find themselves directly in the line of fire from the threat of a Second Korean War. The rest of the world is recoiling in horror from the scale of civilian casualties such a war would cause and the unthinkable prospect that either side might actually use nuclear weapons.

Yes indeed, and as I have pointed out several times before, 77 million people in the Koreas are more people than were killed in WW II, namely 75 million (and all Koreans risk being killed by nuclear arms).

But so does Davies:

The Second World War was the deadliest war ever fought, with at least 75 million people killed, about five times as many as in the First World War. When the slaughter ended in 1945, world leaders signed the United Nations Charter to try to ensure that that scale of mass killing and destruction would never happen again. The U.N. Charter is still in force, and it explicitly prohibits the threat or use of military force by any nation.

It was not just the scale of the slaughter that shocked the world’s leaders into that brief moment of sanity in 1945. It was also the identities of the dead. Two-thirds of the people killed in the Second World War were civilians, a drastic change from the First World War, only a few decades earlier, when an estimated 86 percent of the people killed were uniformed combatants. The use of nuclear weapons by the United States raised the specter that future wars could kill an exponentially greater numbers of civilians, or even end human civilization altogether.

War had become “total war,” no longer fought only on battlefields between soldiers, but between entire societies with ordinary people, their homes and their lives now on the front line.

Yes indeed: Davies is quite right that WW was in fact the first war (of that size, at least) that was a total war in the sense that by far the greatest number of those killed in this war were civilians. (To be sure, this happened before, e.g, around 1600, but the sizes of these wars were very much smaller.)

And since WW II in fact total war has become the face of many ¨ordinary¨ wars, in the simple sense that it are mostly civilians who are killed (and tortured, and maimed) and not the military forces:

Despite the U.N. Charter and international efforts to prevent war, people in countries afflicted by war today still face the kind of total war that horrified world leaders in 1945. The main victims of total war in our “modern” world have been civilians in countries far removed from the safe havens of power and privilege where their fates are debated and decided: Yugoslavia; Afghanistan; Iraq; Somalia; Pakistan; Yemen; Libya; Syria; Ukraine. There has been no legal or political accountability for the mass destruction of their cities, their homes or their lives. Total war has not been prevented, or even punished, just externalized.

But thanks to billions of dollars invested in military propaganda and public relations and the corrupt nature of for-profit media systems, citizens of the countries responsible for the killing of millions of their fellow human beings live in near-total ignorance of the mass killing carried out in their name in these “red zones” around the world.

Again this seems quite true to me. In fact, it is even more serious:

 The introduction to the People on War report noted that 90 percent of the people killed in recent wars were civilians and that, in today’s world, “war is war on civilians.” But the report went on:

“…the more these conflicts have degenerated into wars on civilians, the more people have reacted by reaffirming the norms, traditions, conventions and rules that seek to create a barrier between those who carry arms into battle and the civilian population… Large majorities in every war-torn country reject attacks on civilians in general and a wide range of actions that by design or default could harm the innocent.”

Incidentally, these ¨large majorities¨ that ¨reject attacks on civilians in general¨ are completely right in terms of the laws that were surrected after WW II to protect them - except that the laws generally were not put into practice:

Illegal U.S. rules of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan have included: systematic, theater-wide use of torture; orders to “dead-check” or kill wounded enemy combatants; orders to “kill all military-age males” during certain operations; and “weapons-free” zones that mirror Vietnam-era “free-fire” zones. A U.S. Marine corporal told a court martial prosecuting one of his men for “dead-checking” a wounded Iraqi civilian that “Marines consider all Iraqi men part of the insurgency,” nullifying the critical distinction between combatants and civilians that is the very basis of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

There is a lot more in this quite good article that ends as follows (after a lot more):

U.S. leaders often raise the specter of “appeasement” to guilt-trip reluctant allies into supporting U.S.-led wars. But maybe it is time for world leaders to recognize that the real appeasement they have been engaged in is the appeasement of the United States, by actively or tacitly encouraging it in an illegal policy of militarism and serial aggression that is spreading violence and chaos across the world.

Surely the real lesson of the 1930s and the Second World War, now reinforced by the experience of the past 20 years, is that it is not enough to simply sign treaties that prohibit aggression and war crimes. The world must be ready to actually enforce the prohibition against the threat or use of military force in customary international law, the 1928 Kellogg Brand Pact and the U.N. Charter – by uniting peacefully and diplomatically to stand up to  U.S. aggres- sion and militarism before they lead to a cataclysmic total war that will kill tens or even hundreds of millions of civilians, in Korea or somewhere else.

I agree with everything I quoted from this article, but I concede I see little practical reason to believe that ¨the world must be ready to actually enforce the prohibition against the threat or use of military force in customary international law¨, and not because I disagree with the principle, but because ¨the world¨ has been mostly silent on these questions during the 67 years that I have lived.

But this is a strongly recommended article.


5. Liberalism Demands That We Treat People Fairly, Even When It’s Hard

This article is by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:

After going back and forth a bit about Al Franken’s sexual misconduct—he was a comedian at the time and his victim has accepted his apology, but then again, forgiving him could derail the movement to hold sexual predators accountable—Michelle Goldberg concludes that Franken should resign:

It’s not worth it. The question isn’t about what’s fair to Franken, but what’s fair to the rest of us. I would mourn Franken’s departure from the Senate, but I think he should go, and the governor should appoint a woman to fill his seat. The message to men in power about sexual degradation has to be clear: We will replace you.

No. The message to men in power should be: we will treat you fairly. That should be our message to everyone, the guilty and the innocent alike. If we get to the point where we sacrifice individuals just for the sake of movement optics, that’s where I get off the train.

I could have reviewed many articles about Al Franken, but I chose this one because I mostly agree with it. Besides, I am not even a feminist as Goldberg is (who also lied about another woman: see Wikipedia).

------------------------------
Note

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).

[2] I am writing this mostly to underline the bullshit I have heard about racial and religious things. And I think I am right about my father´s mother (which would have made my father a Jew in terms of the insane ¨logic¨ of the Nazis), but I do not know that either.

As to my mother´s parents - both of whom were anarchists their adult lives - I again have no idea whether they had no trace of any ¨racial Jewishness¨: I just don´t know. (And I also don´t care.)

[3] I did put quotes around
¨a socialist country¨ for the simple reason that I deny that the Soviet Union was ¨a socialist country¨ in the sense that I understand by ¨socialism¨, but otherwise this issue is too complicated to be dealt with in a footnote.
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