May 9, 2018

Crisis: The Media & Trump, Iran Nuclear Deal *2, The Torturing CIA, 1968: Counter-Revolution


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 9, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, May 9, 2018.

1. Summary

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

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) 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 more than 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 I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from May 9, 2018
1. Will the Media Ever Stand Up to Trump?
2. Trump Violates the Iran Nuclear Deal — Ignoring U.S. and Israeli
     Generals Who Support It

3. Trump Decries Iran Nuclear Deal
4. Question for Gina Haspel: Does Torture Rig the Case for War?
5. 1968: Year of Counter-Revolution
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. Will the Media Ever Stand Up to Trump?

This article is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
When comedian Michelle Wolf ridiculed the brazen dishonesty of the president and his equally deceitful staff, journalists at the White House Correspondents Dinner threw her under the bus. The U.S. media treat politicians with kid gloves; they fawn over them, befriend them, apologize for them. Such behavior was bad enough under previous administrations, but it’s reached a breaking point under Donald Trump — a president who, according to James Comey’s memos, jokes in private about having reporters locked up and raped behind bars as a way of getting them to give up their confidential sources. On episode seven of Deconstructed, comedian and Hollywood director and producer Judd Apatow joins Mehdi Hasan to discuss the U.S. media’s cozy relationship with politicians.
Yes indeed. And I think Mehdi Hasan is quite right: ¨The U.S. media treat politicians with kid gloves; they fawn over them, befriend them, apologize for them.¨

In fact, I think it may be more serious than Hasan thinks, for the present betrayals - of their real jobs - by very many of the present journalists and the present editors seems to have been created since Reagan got the presidency, and seems to have strengthened after 9/11.

Also, it seems to me that there is a great increase in totalitarianism in the United States, except that I am not allowed to say so by the solidly insane redefinition of ¨totalitarianism¨ on the sick and anonymous Wikipedia, that now totally follows Brzezinski (!!!) much rather than Orwell or any other - real - leftist writer: Orwell seems not to have lived at all.

Here is more by Mehdi Hasan:
MH: I’m Mehdi Hasan, welcome to Deconstructed. Fake, fraudulent, dishonest, disgusting, corrupt, sleazy scum, slime, liars, losers, phoneys, bad people, sick people, enemies of the people: the president of the United States attacks the members of the press on a near daily basis publicly, viciously, relentlessly. So when a comedian turns up at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner and ridicules the brazen dishonesty of the president and of his equally deceitful press secretary, you might think journalists at that dinner would stick up for her, get behind her, defend her — but no! They threw Michelle Wolf under the bus and stuck up for the people in the White House who abuse them every day instead.
As I have been saying since the beginning of 2016 (more than two years ago): Donald Trump has an ideology and that ideology is neofascism. If you check out the last link you´ll find my definition of neofascism, and you can compare his assertions with my definition point by point. He has all the 9 marks that define neofascism (for me, but I know a lot about fascism and its varieties).

And - being a psychologist - I also have been saying since the beginning of 2016 that Donald Trump is not sane, and that he satisfies all 9 observational criterions for being a megalomaniac (aka: a narcissist) that have been compiled by the psychiatrists who compiled the DSM.

Besides, I think Trump may have been projecting his own personal characteristics on the journalists he decries as ¨
Fake, fraudulent, dishonest, disgusting, corrupt, sleazy scum, slime, liars, losers, phoneys, bad people, sick people, enemies of the people¨: Each and every term of abuse fits Trump naturally and perfectly.

Here is more by Mehdi Hasan:

MH: (..) As a journalist from the U.K. now living and working here in Washington D.C., the U.S. press corps, especially the White House press corps, never ceases to amaze me. It’s so brazenly servile, so shamefully obsequious, so openly deferential to people in power.

For example, members of the White House press corps stand up with the president comes into the East Room of the building to address them, which I’ve always found to be truly bizarre. Why would you stand up for a politician?

Interviewers on U.S. cable news a just as bad. They act chummy, pal-y, friendly with the politicians who they’re supposed to be grilling on air.

Yes, I agree with Hasan. And to answer his question ¨Why would you¨ - or any journalist - ¨stand up for a politician?¨ for journalists:

I think there are basically two reasons why journalists would want to stand up for a man like Donald Trump: Either they are utterly shameless hypocrites who are willing to lie about absolutely everything because this is profitable for them, or else they - more or less - sincerely believe that Trump is who lying Trump seems to claim Trump is: A superhuman genius.

In other words, such ¨journalists¨ are either totally dishonest or else utterly stupid, and in neither case are they - real - journalists anymore: They are eager propagandists for the strong, the rich, and the holders of power.

And I think that is both very serious and a real betrayal - choosing for money; choosing for easy living; choosing to betray the people who depend on them for true information - of their functions as journalists and editors.

I will not deal with this here and now, and instead quote the last bit of Hasan´s article (and DJT = Donald Trump):

DJT: As you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth. [Audience laughs.]

MH: Too many American political journalists seem to think that if they play nice with this administration, if they remain respectful, if they don’t call out the lies, they don’t call out the racism, if they stay neutral and detached and impartial and sober, if they keep doing the whole both sides are as bad as each other BS of yesteryear, then conservatives will play nice with them. Conservatives will stop attacking them.

Then the problem is that this assumes that conservative criticism of the media is in good faith, when it so clearly isn’t. The idea that conservatives are offended by a comedian’s jokes when they elected the most offensive presidential candidate in American history is just absurd.

Yes and no, but mostly no:

I think most of the American (political) ¨journalists¨ are dishonest and think only of their own financial well-being, and and are much more moved by thinking of their own incomes than of doing the real job of real journalists, which indeed they have ceased to do, for the reasons that (I think) an editor of CBS gave for giving Trump billions of free air time: ¨It is profitable for CBS¨ (and for dishonest journalists).

And this is a recommended article.

2. Trump Violates the Iran Nuclear Deal — Ignoring U.S. and Israeli Generals Who
Support It

It so happens that this article is also by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

So he’s finally done it. Having spent the past three years denouncing the Iran nuclear deal as “horrible,” “disastrous,” and “insane,” Donald Trump arrived in the Diplomatic Room of the White House on Tuesday afternoon to formally announce that “the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal” and would “begin reinstituting U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime.”

“This will make America much safer,” the president declaimed, jabbing his fingers at the assembled reporters.

Guess who’s celebrating the president’s decision to violate a nuclear nonproliferation agreement signed by the United States less than three years ago? His new national security adviser, John Bolton, a former paid speaker for an Iranian ex-terror group who has long been obsessed with “regime change” in Tehran; the crown prince — and de facto ruler — of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who claims Iran’s supreme leader “makes Hitler look good”; and the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who constantly compares the Islamic Republic to the so-called Islamic State.

Yes, I think all of this is correct. And here is more:

Because guess who won’t be celebrating? The entire U.S. military establishment: Defense Secretary James Mattis, who says he has read the text of the nuclear agreement three times and considers it to be “pretty robust”; Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, who says, “Iran is adhering to its JCPOA obligations” and a U.S. decision to quit the deal “would have an impact on others’ willingness to sign agreements”; the head of U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. John Hyten, who says, “Iran is in compliance with JCPOA” and argues “it’s our job to live up to the terms of that agreement”; and the head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, who says the nuclear deal is “in our interest” because it “addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran.”
I think this is also correct, although I may be less impressed than Hasan may be, because military men often follow the standard politics, and the standard politics was that the nuclear nonproliferation agreement was - at least - a tenable agreement. And if the leading politician changes, they may soon change as well.

Here is Hasan´s sum-up:

So let’s be clear: On the one side, we have a dizzying array of serving and retired generals and spy chiefs from both the United States and Israel, none of whom are friends or fans of Iran, yet all of whom agree that the Islamic Republic is complying with the stringent terms of the JCPOA, and that the United States should stay in the deal because it bolsters U.S., regional, and global security.

And on the other side? A former property developer and reality TV star; a chicken hawk who wants to bomb everyone; a 32-year-old Gulf prince who can’t win a war against rebels from the poorest Arab country; and an allegedly corrupt politician who has been claiming Iran is “three to five years” away from a nuclear weapons capability since … 1992.

This isn’t about security or protecting American — or Israeli — cities from Iranian missiles. Trump & Co. aren’t trying to avoid war with Iran. They want war with Iran

Yes I agree: Trump and Bolton want war. And they also may get it. And it will take at least twice as much in money, in military power, and in human lives to implement Trump´s and Bolton´s plans as it took to destroy Iraq, simply because Iran is twice as big as Iraq was.

And this is a recommended article.

3. Trump Decries Iran Nuclear Deal

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts as follows:
President Trump threatened to attack Iran on Tuesday if it restarts its nuclear weapons program, while at the same time hinting he plans to scrap the international deal to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms. Trump made his comments at the White House during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, who had come to Washington in an attempt to preserve the Iran deal. Trump must decide by May 12 whether the U.S. should stay in the deal. Macron said he opposes throwing out the existing nuclear deal but is open to a new agreement with Iran to address Iran’s role in Syria and other issues. But advocates say Trump is likely to leave the deal and that the U.S. is trying to force Iran to be the party that ends up leaving the accord—and that Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton and State Department Secretary nominee Mike Pompeo aren’t “seriously interested” in further negotiations. “I think the United States has never abandoned the idea of regime change in Iran,” says Jamal Abdi, the vice president for policy at the National Iranian American Council.
In fact, as the previous article makes clear, Trump has meanwhile decided - I think - that he wants war with Iran (see the previous article). Here is more:
AMY GOODMAN: President Trump threatened to attack Iran on Tuesday if it restarts its nuclear weapons program, while at the same time hinting he plans to scrap the international deal to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms. Trump described the deal as “insane” and “ridiculous.”
Incidentally, since the deal with Iran was international, Trump is - in fact - describing most of the other politicians who made the deal with Iran ¨as “insane” and “ridiculous”¨.

Here is more:
JAMAL ABDI: All the indications right now are that Trump is planning to leave the deal on May 12th. May 12th is when the next deadline occurs for the United States to continue waiving sanctions, to remain within the constraints of the deal. Macron is coming to town sort of as the last hope. Congress has failed to intervene. Congress actually just approved Trump’s secretary of state nominee, who also supports leaving the deal.
Yes indeed. And Trump decided on May 8 that he rejects the existing deal with Iran. Here is the Iranian foreign minister:
AMY GOODMAN: I want to play you two clips of the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: We have put a number of options for ourselves, and those options are ready, including options that would involve resuming, at a much greater speed, our nuclear activities. And those are all envisaged within the deal. And those options are ready to be implemented, and we will make the necessary decision when we see fit.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re ready to restart your nuclear program, if President Trump puts sanctions back on Iran, even if the rest of the world says, “Don’t do this”?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Obviously, the rest of the world cannot ask us to unilaterally and one-sidedly implement a deal that has already been broken.

Well... I think he was clear enough: Iran will restart its program to have nuclear arms, which will make the region (including Israel) a lot less stable.

And in fact in the USA the goal seems to be as follows:

AMY GOODMAN: Jamal, I want to turn to John Bolton, President Trump’s new national security adviser, speaking last year in Paris to members of the Iranian exile group MEK.

JOHN BOLTON: The declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullah’s regime in Tehran. The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself. And that’s—and that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran. Thank you very much.

Note how extra-ordinarily aggressive Bolton sounds (and the bolding is added) ¨The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself.¨ That is: Either you overthere do what we want, or we will destroy you (and millions of your civilians). And this is a recommended article.

4. Question for Gina Haspel: Does Torture Rig the Case for War?

This article is by Sam Husseini on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

With the nomination of Gina Haspel to be director of the CIA, there’s rightfully some interest in her record regarding torture.

Of course, there are questions of legality and ethics with respect to torture, and it’s possible, as some have argued, that the motivation of Haspel and others in overseeing torture and covering it up may be simple sadism.

But—especially given how little we know about Haspel’s record—it’s possible that there’s an even more insidious motive in the U.S. government practicing torture: to produce the rigged case for more war. Examining this possibility is made all the more urgent as Donald Trump has put in place what clearly appears to be a war cabinet. My recent questioning at the State Department failed to produce a condemnation of waterboarding by spokesperson Heather Nauert.

Gina Haspel’s hearing on Wednesday gives increased urgency to highlighting her record on torture and how torture has been “exploited.” That is, how torture was used to create “intelligence” for select policies, including the initiation of war.

Well... I more or less agree, but I think myself it is probably a case of both:

On the one hand, there were personal sadists like Gina Haspel (I am a psychologist, and in my opinion 99.99% of everybody who tortures prisoners is a sadist), who simply enjoyed torturing people, and on the other hand there were formally considerably higher persons in the American government who thought that torture might produce information that the American government could use.

And here is more on that latter group, and also something about torture which I think is quite correct (although it seems to be not popular with ¨people on the left¨, at least in the USA):

Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, has stated that neither he nor Powell were aware that the claims that Powell made before the United Nations just before the invasion of Iraq where partly based on torture. According to Wilkerson, Dick Cheney and the CIA prevailed on Powell to make false statements about a connection between al-Qaida and Iraq without telling him the “evidence” they were feeding him was based on tortured evidence. See my piece and questioning of Powell: “Colin Powell Showed that Torture DOES Work.”
Yes indeed: I agree with Sam Huseini, and my own reasons are that very few are capable of resisting after their nails are torn out or after they got electrodes on their genitals. And my own position on torture is that while it may work, it should be (as it is now, outside the USA) forbidden as inhumanly cruel.

Finally, here is a bit about how torture was practise in Guantánamo:
The Senate Armed Services Committee in 2008 indicates the attempt to use torture to concoct “evidence” was even more widespread. It quoted Maj. Paul Burney, who worked as a psychiatrist at Guantanamo Bay prison: “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq and we were not successful. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link … there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”
I think that is quite credible, and this is a recommended article.

5. 1968: Year of Counter-Revolution

This article is by Todd Gitlin on The New York Review of Books. It starts as follows:
Commemorations are the greeting cards that a sensation-soaked culture sends out to acknowledge that we, the living, were not born yesterday. So it is with this year’s media reassembly of 1968. What is hard to convey is the texture of shock and panic that seized the world a half-century ago. What is even harder to grasp is that the chief political victor of 1968 was the counter-revolution.
Gitlin is seven years older than I am, and I also am Dutch and not American. I like Gitlin (for what I have seen of him), and the differences I mentioned are probably the basis of my somewhat different interpretation:

While I agree that ¨
the chief political victor of 1968 was the counter-revolution¨ (headed by Nixon), I did not experience ¨the texture of shock and panic that seized the world a half-century ago¨. Also I lived in Europe, and while I was 18 in 1968, I also was a ¨soixtante-huitard¨ (which I discovered only recently, and doesn´t interest me), and I was politically quite conscious then, also as the son of two Marxist parents.

And I think Gitlin may be speaking truly about the USA of 1968, but less so about Europe of 1968. Then again, it doesn´t matter very much, and here is more:

As for less bloody demonstrations, there were so many, so routinely, that The New York Times regularly grouped civil rights and antiwar stories on designated pages. Neither does this rundown of calamities take into account images that did not see the light of day until much later, like the color shots of the My Lai massacre (March 16), not published until late 1969—by which time they were almost expected. Or the images that never materialized at all, like the slaughter of hundreds of demonstrating students by troops in Mexico City (October 2).

Images aside, what was it really like to experience 1968? Public life seemed to become a sequence of ruptures, shocks, and detonations. Activists felt dazed, then exuberant, then dazed again; authorities felt rattled, panicky, even desperate. The world was in shards. What were for some intimations of a revolution at hand were, for exponents of law and order, eruptions of the intolerable.
As I´ve just said, in my - rather extensive - experiences (for I demonstrated a lot that year, and went to France in May and June of 1968), it was a bit different in Europe in 1968, and here is more again:
As the radical left dreamed of smashing the state, the radical right attacked the establishment for coddling young radicals and enabling their disorder. One person’s nightmare was another’s epiphany.

The familiar collages of 1968’s collisions do evoke the churning surfaces of events, reproducing the uncanny, off-balance feeling of 1968. But they fail to illuminate the meaning of events. If the texture of 1968 was chaos, underneath was a structure that today can be—and needs to be—seen more clearly.

Yes, I agree. And this is what 1968 produced, in Gitlin´s memory:

In the realm of political power, though, for all the many subsequent social reforms, 1968 was more an end than a beginning. After les évènements in France in May came June’s parliamentary elections, sweeping General De Gaulle’s rightist party to power in a landslide victory. After the Prague Spring and the promise of “socialism with a human face,” the tanks of the Soviet-run Warsaw Pact overran Czechoslovakia. In Latin America, the Guevarist guerrilla trend was everywhere repulsed, to the benefit of the right. In the US, the “silent majority” roared.

I think this is mostly - simply factually - correct. And besides, while Gitlin seems to be mostly speaking for the political leftist of 1968, there also was the considerably wider group of the far less political hippies, that might be sketched by saying that movement (and the music!) flared up from 1963 till 1968, and afterward more or less died down during the course of the 1970ies.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

Counter-revolutions, like their revolutionary bêtes noires, suffer reversals and take time to cohere. The post-1968 counter-revolution held the fort against a trinity of bogeymen: unruly dark-skinned people, uppity women, and an arrogant knowledge class. In 1968, it was not yet apparent how impressively the recoil could be parlayed into national power. “This country is going so far to the right you won’t recognize it,” Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, said in 1969. He spoke prematurely.

Yes indeed. But Mitchell did speak prematurely, and I think ¨the right¨ really started triumphing from 9/11 onwards (or perhaps from Clinton´s second presidency, for he then sold out many things he was elected to keep).

And while I believe that Gitlin may be correct about the USA, in my European perspective - where things do tend to follow major American events, but more slowly and less violently - there was a rather definite leftist feel in Europe until ca. 1980 (which included a leftist government in Holland in the 1970ies, and quite a few quasi-Marxists in the media in the early 1970ies).

This is a recommended article.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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 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 (!!).
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