Sunday, September 24, 2017

Killing History: PBS' Revisionist Vietnam Fable

The Killing of History

by John Pilger  - Consortium News


September 21, 2017


PBS’ “The Vietnam War” may show some of the conflict’s horrors but still soft-pedals the horrific war crimes that America inflicted on Vietnam, fitting with a corporate-dependent documentary project, writes John Pilger.


One of the most hyped “events” of American television, “The Vietnam War,” has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films,

“They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam War in an entirely new way.”

In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism,” Burns’s “entirely new” Vietnam War is presented as an “epic, historic work.”

Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans.” Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings.”

The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of “false flags” that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.

An American soldier walks by a Vietnamese home that was set on fire. (From the PBS’ series, “The Vietnam War.”) 

There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans – it is difficult to watch the film’s jumble of “red peril” maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences. In the series’ press release in Britain — the BBC will show it — there is no mention of Vietnamese dead, only Americans.

“We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy,” Novick is quoted as saying. How very post-modern.

All this will be familiar to those who have observed how the American media and popular culture behemoth has revised and served up the great crime of the second half of the Twentieth Century: from “The Green Berets” and “The Deer Hunter” to “Rambo” and, in so doing, has legitimized subsequent wars of aggression. The revisionism never stops and the blood never dries. The invader is pitied and purged of guilt, while “searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy.” Cue Bob Dylan: “Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?”

What ‘Decency’ and ‘Good Faith’?


I thought about the “decency” and “good faith” when recalling my own first experiences as a young reporter in Vietnam: watching hypnotically as the skin fell off napalmed peasant children like old parchment, and the ladders of bombs that left trees petrified and festooned with human flesh. General William Westmoreland, the American commander, referred to people as “termites.”


Official photo of Army Chief of Staff General William C. Westmoreland. (Wikipedia)

In the early 1970s, I went to Quang Ngai province, where in the village of My Lai, between 347 and 500 men, women and infants were murdered by American troops (Burns prefers “killings”). At the time, this was presented as an aberration: an “American tragedy” (Newsweek). In this one province, it was estimated that 50,000 people had been slaughtered during the era of American “free fire zones.” Mass homicide. This was not news.

To the north, in Quang Tri province, more bombs were dropped than in all of Germany during the Second World War. Since 1975, unexploded ordnance has caused more than 40,000 deaths in mostly “South Vietnam,” the country America claimed to “save” and, with France, conceived as a singularly imperial ruse.

The “meaning” of the Vietnam War is no different from the meaning of the genocidal campaign against the Native Americans, the colonial massacres in the Philippines, the atomic bombings of Japan, the leveling of every city in North Korea. The aim was described by Colonel Edward Lansdale, the famous CIA man on whom Graham Greene based his central character in The Quiet American.

Quoting Robert Taber’s The War of the Flea, Lansdale said, “There is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbours resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.”

Nothing has changed. When Donald Trump addressed the United Nations on Sept. 19 – a body established to spare humanity the “scourge of war” – he declared he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people. His audience gasped, but Trump’s language was not unusual. His rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, had boasted she was prepared to “totally obliterate” Iran, a nation of more than 80 million people. This is the American Way; only the euphemisms are missing now.

Returning to the U.S., I am struck by the silence and the absence of an opposition – on the streets, in journalism and the arts, as if dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground.

Missing What Trump Means


There is plenty of sound and fury at Trump the odious one, the “fascist,” but almost none at Trump as the symptom and caricature of an enduring system of conquest and extremism. Where are the ghosts of the great anti-war demonstrations that took over Washington in the 1970s? Where is the equivalent of the Freeze Movement that filled the streets of Manhattan in the 1980s, demanding that President Reagan withdraw battlefield nuclear weapons from Europe?


President Trump speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 19, 2017. (Screenshot from Whitehouse.gov)

The sheer energy and moral persistence of these great movements largely succeeded; by 1987 Reagan had negotiated with Mikhail Gorbachev an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that effectively ended the Cold War.

Today, according to secret NATO documents obtained by the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zetung, this vital treaty is likely to be abandoned as “nuclear targeting planning is increased.” The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned against “repeating the worst mistakes of the Cold War. … All the good treaties on disarmament and arms control from Gorbachev and Reagan are in acute peril. Europe is threatened again with becoming a military training ground for nuclear weapons. We must raise our voice against this.”

But not in America. The thousands who turned out for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s “revolution” in last year’s presidential campaign are collectively mute on these dangers. That most of America’s violence across the world has been perpetrated not by Republicans, or mutants like Trump, but by liberal Democrats, remains a taboo.

Barack Obama provided the apotheosis, with seven simultaneous wars, a presidential record, including the destruction of Libya as a modern state. Obama’s overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government has had the desired effect: the massing of American-led NATO forces on Russia’s western borderland through which the Nazis invaded in 1941.

Obama’s “pivot to Asia” in 2011 signaled the transfer of the majority of America’s naval and air forces to Asia and the Pacific for no purpose other than to confront and provoke China. The Nobel Peace Laureate’s worldwide campaign of assassinations is arguably the most extensive campaign of terrorism since 9/11.

What is known in the U.S. as “the Left” has effectively allied with the darkest recesses of institutional power, notably the Pentagon and the CIA, to prevent a peace deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin and to reinstate Russia as an enemy, on the basis of no evidence of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The true scandal is the insidious assumption of power by sinister war-making vested interests for which no American voted. The rapid ascendancy of the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies under Obama represented an historic shift of power in Washington. Daniel Ellsberg rightly called it a coup. The three generals running Trump are its witness.

All of this fails to penetrate those “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics,” as Luciana Bohne noted memorably. Commodified and market-tested, “diversity” is the new liberal brand, not the class people serve regardless of their gender and skin color: not the responsibility of all to stop a barbaric war to end all wars.

“How did it fucking come to this?” says Michael Moore in his Broadway show, Terms of My Surrender, a vaudeville for the disaffected set against a backdrop of Trump as Big Brother.

I admired Moore’s film, Roger & Me, about the economic and social devastation of his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and Sicko, his investigation into the corruption of healthcare in America.


Filmmaker Michael Moore

The night I saw his show, his happy-clappy audience cheered his reassurance that “we are the majority!” and calls to “impeach Trump, a liar and a fascist!” His message seemed to be that had you held your nose and voted for Hillary Clinton, life would be predictable again. He may be right. Instead of merely abusing the world, as Trump does, Clinton, the Great Obliterator, might have attacked Iran and lobbed missiles at Putin, whom she likened to Hitler: a particular profanity given the 27 million Russians who died in Hitler’s invasion.

“Listen up,” said Moore, “putting aside what our governments do, Americans are really loved by the world!”

There was a silence.

John Pilger is an Australian-British journalist based in London. Pilger’s Web site is: www.johnpilger.com. His new film, “The Coming War on China,” is available in the U.S. from www.bullfrogfilms.com

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Canadian Failing: Finding Heroes in Rwanda Genocide

The Real Rwanda Genocide Story has no Canadian Heroes

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice


September 21st, 2017

Canadian commentators often claim more Tutsi were killed in the genocide than lived in Rwanda. Since it aligns with Washington, London and Kigali’s interests, as well as liberal nationalist Canadian ideology, the statistical inflation passes with little comment.

A Tyee story last month described the “slaughter of over 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda” between April–July 1994. An earlier Globe and Mail profile of Roméo Dallaire cited a higher number. It noted, “over the next few months, Hutu activists and militias, supplemented by police officers and military commanders, killed an estimated 800,000 to 1 million Tutsis.”

Even self-declared experts on the subject cite these outlandish statistics.

In the Globe and Mail and Rabble last year Gerald Caplan wrote that, “despite his [Dallaire] best efforts, perhaps a million people of the Tutsi minority were slaughtered in 100 days.”

With ties to the regime in Kigali, Caplan pulled this number out of thin air. It’s improbable there were a million Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 and no one believes every single Tutsi was killed.

While the exact figure is unknown and somewhat contested, Rwanda’s 1991 Census calculated 596,387 Tutsi. Initially sponsored by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the GenoDynamics project by the Dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia Allan Stam and University of Michigan political science professor Christian Davenport put the number slightly lower at 500,000. Others claim the Hutu-government of the time sought to suppress Tutsi population statistics and estimate a few hundred thousand more Rwandan Tutsi.

But, a significant number of Tutsi survived the hundred days of killing. Tutsi survivors’ umbrella group IBUKA (“Remember”) initially concluded that 300,000 survived the genocidal killings, which they later increased to “nearer to 400,000”.

For 800,000–1 million Tutsi to have perished there would have had to been at least 1.1 million and probably closer to 1.4 million Tutsi. That’s twice the official calculation.

Notwithstanding the three examples mentioned at the top, the most commonly cited formulation of the number of deaths in 1994 is the more vague “800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu”. A 1999 UN report concluded, “approximately 800,000 persons were killed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.” As time passes, however, the regime in Kigali increases the death toll. In 2004 the Rwandan Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Social Affairs claimed 1,074,017 died and in 2008 the government-backed Genocide Survivors Students Association of Rwanda put the number at 1,952,087.

But, the higher the death toll one cites for the genocidal violence the greater the number and percentage of Hutu victims. In the 2014 BBC documentary Rwanda’s Untold Story Stam explains, “if a million people died in Rwanda in 1994 — and that’s certainly possible — there is no way that the majority of them could be Tutsi… Because there weren’t enough Tutsi in the country.”

The idea there was as many, or even more, Hutu killed complicates the ‘long planned genocide’ narrative pushed by the regime in Kigali and its Anglo-Saxon backers. So does the fact that overwhelming evidence and logic points to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) as culprits for blowing up the plane of the Hutu presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, as well as much of the Hutu-led Rwandan military command, which sparked the mass killings.

Washington and London’s support for the RPF, as well as Paul Kagame’s more than two-decade long control of Kigali, explains the dominance of a highly simplistic account of Rwanda’s genocide. But, a tertiary reason for the strength of the fairy tale is it aligns with the nationalist mythology of another G7 state. A wealthy, educated, population speaking the world’s two main colonial languages, Canadians have pumped out innumerable articles, books, songs, plays, poems, movies, etc. about our noble General’s effort to save Rwandans. Yet the Romeo Dallaire saviour story largely promoted by Left/liberals is based on a one-sided account of Rwanda’s tragedy.

Two of the articles mentioned at the top celebrate Dallaire. One of the stories that inflates the Tutsi death toll was a Globe and Mail profile upon the former general’s retirement from the Senate and in the other Caplan writes, “the personal relationship so many Canadians feel with Rwanda can be explained in two words: Roméo Dallaire … [who] did all in his limited power to stop the killings.”

A Monthly Review article I discovered recently provides a stark example of how Left Canadian nationalists have warped understanding of Rwanda’s tragedy to fit their ideology. The third paragraph of the venerable New York-based Marxist journal’s 2003 review of When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda and A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide begins: “A Canadian, General Roméo Dallaire, is the hero of the Rwandan tragedy.”

Canadian reviewer Hugh Lukin Robinson’s main criticism of Ugandan scholar Mahmood Mamdani’s When Victims Become Killers is that he downplays the importance of the Canadian commander of the UN military force. Robinson writes, “[Mamdani’s] disinterest in the international betrayal of Rwanda is illustrated by his single reference to General Dallaire, whose name he misspells and whom he refers to as ‘the Belgian commander in charge of UN forces in Rwanda’. In contrast, Linda Melvern marshals the evidence which amply justifies the title of her book.”

But, Melvern is a leading advocate of the Kigali sponsored fairy tale about the genocide. Drawing on Dallaire’s purported “genocide fax”, she promotes the ‘long planned genocide’ narrative. Simultaneously, Melvern ignores (or downplays) the role Uganda’s 1990 invasion, structural adjustment policies and the October 1993 assassination of the first ever Hutu president in Burundi played in the mass killing of Spring 1994. Melvern also diminishes RPF killings and their responsibility for shooting down the plane carrying Hutu President Juvénal Habyarimana and the Rwandan military high command.

Robinson was impressed with Melvern’s praise for Canada’s military man. “Dallaire had trained and risen through the ranks of an army proud of its tradition of peacekeeping”, Robinson quotes from Melvern’s writing. “He was a committed internationalist and had first hand experience of UN missions. He was a hard worker. And he was obstinate.” But, the “committed internationalist” admits he didn’t know where Rwanda was before his appointment to that country. Nor did Dallaire have much experience with the UN. “Dallaire was what military people call a NATO man,” explained CBC journalist Carole Off in a biography of the General. “His defence knowledge was predicated almost exclusively on the needs of the NATO alliance.”

More significantly, a number of the UN officials involved in Rwanda — head of UNAMIR troops in Kigali Luc Marchal, intelligence officer Amadou Deme, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, etc. — have challenged Dallaire’s interpretation of events, contradicted his claims or criticized his actions. Dallaire’s civilian commander on UNAMIR published a book accusing the Canadian General of bias towards the Uganda/US/Britain backed RPF. In his 2005 book Le Patron de Dallaire Parle (The Boss of Dallaire Speaks), Jacques-Roger Booh Booh, a former Cameroon foreign minister and overall head of UNAMIR, criticizes Dallaire’s actions in Rwanda and challenges his interpretation of events.

In one of two footnotes Robinson ended his Monthly Review article on a Canadian nationalist note. The former labour researcher writes: “There is another account of the Rwanda tragedy for which two Canadians can take a great deal of credit. In 1997, the Organization for African Unity (OAU) appointed an International Panel of Eminent Persons to report on what had happened. Stephen Lewis was a member of the Panel and Gerald Caplan was its principal writer and author of the report, Rwanda —The Preventable Genocide. It confirms all the main facts and conclusions of Linda Melvern’s book.”

While paying lip service to the complex interplay of ethnic, class and regional politics, as well as international pressures, that spurred the ‘Rwandan Genocide’, the 300-page report is premised on the unsubstantiated claim there was a high level plan by the Hutu government to kill all Tutsi. It ignores the overwhelming evidence (and logic) pointing to Paul Kagame’s RPF as the culprit in shooting down the presidential plane, which sparked the genocidal killings. It also emphasizes Dallaire’s perspective. A word search of the report finds 100 mentions of “Dallaire”, five times more than “Booh-Booh”, the overall commander of the UN mission.

Rather than a compelling overview of the Rwandan tragedy, the OAU report highlights Canada’s power within international bodies. In a Walrus story Caplan described, “waiting for the flight back to Toronto, where I would do all my reading and writing” on a report “I called … ‘The Preventable Genocide’”. Partly funded by Canada, the entire initiative was instigated by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Caplan is a staunch advocate of the noble Canadian general story. In 2017 Caplan, who started an organization with Kagame’s long-standing foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, called Dallaire “surely among Canada’s most admired citizens, if not the most admired.”

Praise for Dallaire’s role in Rwanda is based on a highly simplistic account of what transpired in 1994. In their haste to promote a Canadian saviour in Africa, left/liberals have confused international understanding of the Rwandan tragedy, which has propped up Kagame’s dictatorship and enabled his violence in the Congo.

When commentators are claiming more Tutsi were killed than lived in the country it’s time to revaluate popular discussion of Rwanda’s tragedy.

Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
Read other articles by Yves.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Neocons & Liberals: Hollywood's Russia Production

Neocons and Hollywood Liberals Go to 'War' on Russia

by TRNN


September 22, 2017

The promotional video of the Committee to Investigate Russia features actor Morgan Freeman in what AlterNet's Max Blumenthal says is,

'Probably his worst role since Driving Miss Daisy.' 





Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. His most recent book is Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. His other book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.

U.N. Trump:A Voice Unto All Nations

Trump at the United Nations

by Kim Petersen - Dissident Voice


September 22nd, 2017

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

– from United States president Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations 19 September 2017

If you are the president of the United States of America, then, as a rule, all pretense toward modesty is dispensed with. Call it American exceptionalism.

After all, the US is variously self-proclaimed as the leader of the free world, the beacon on the hill, and the indispensable nation.

Yet critical thinking demands on analysis of Trump’s words that is not provided by a cursory reading of the speech transcript, TV video coverage, or corporate media reporting. It is a given of corporatism that the US is unquestioningly not only great and good but the best of the best. Donald Trump would beg to differ, but he claims that he is making America great again.

Trump begins by stating,

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country…

Yet this rings phony since Trump is skeptical about a connection between anthropogenic climate change and the increased incidence of catastrophic weather events.

Trump asserts,

The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

The prevailing trend under neoliberalism is that the American masses will continue to fall further and further behind, and the wealthy elitists will continue to make out like bandits. Trump’s tax cuts augur an intensification of this gaping trend.

Trump boasts,

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th.

That is debatable. Nonetheless, there is nothing quite like self-aggrandizement… patting oneself on back in public and claiming credit for myriad allegedly positive events (as if stock market rises benefited the masses of Americans).

Moreover, says Trump,

And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.

Is this something to boast about? How about boasting about building hospitals, low-cost housing projects to end homelessness, poverty reduction/elimination, and environmental remediation? Of course, if a non-allied nation were to dare and inordinately hike military spending, chances are the US would castigate such a nation.

Trump proceeded to “address some of the very serious threats before us today…” Sheesh. Get real Trump. The people of the world recognize well that the USA is the number one threat to world peace.

Trump warns,

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet.

This calls into question how to characterize Trump? A moderate? Or an extremist? Is building a wall on the US-Mexican border moderate or extreme? Is thwarting people from Muslim majority countries from entering the US a moderate or extreme position? Is launching military strikes against Muslim majority countries like Syria and Yemen moderate? Can resorting to violence be anything but extreme? Is allying with a terrorist-sponsoring nation like Saudi Arabia or an overtly racist nation like Israel moderate?

During his speech, Trump railed against rogue regimes, international criminal networks that traffic drugs (Trump wouldn’t be talking about the CIA, a major player in the international drug trade, would he?1 ), weapons (the US is a major exporter of weapons, illicit or otherwise), and the forced dislocation and mass migration of people (and what is the US but a nation state erected on the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Indigenous nations of Turtle Island?). 

Trump avers,

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear…

The key words, in italics: “should we choose.” Will the US ruling classes ever choose to share the wealth fairly and equitably? Or does it require a revolution to achieve dignity and fairness? The US might well learn from the Chinese how to accomplish ending poverty. The Chinese Communist Party has pledged to eliminate poverty by 2020.

Trump notes that the United Nations was founded following two world wars to help shape a better future. The preamble to the UN Charter states that the institution is determined “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…” But the UN’s inability to curtail the violence of the US renders this aim nugatory.

Trump says that 70 years ago, that the United States developed “the noble idea” of the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. The Marshall Plan, while helping war-ravaged Europe to its feet, was designed to restore markets for US products from a US that was ascendant after World War II, having profited immensely from supplying all sides in the war and having escaped the carnage on its own soil.2

Trump:

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.

And who determines this? The people of sovereign nations? The UN or the US?

Trump:


In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.

This is so risible. So the uninvited US military in Syria is not imposing on Syrians? President Assad made clear that the US troops are viewed as “invaders.” “Way of life” aside, is the US is not imposing in Yemen? Does the US not seek to impose on (or at least dictate to) Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea?

Trump spoke to the greatest words in the United States Constitution: “We the people.” Is this spoken tongue-in-cheek or from ignorance? The constitution, derived from the Six Nation Confederacy’s Great Law of Peace, was promulgated by rich, white men. “We the people,” however, was not meant to include the Indigenous people, Blacks, women, or the toiling classes in anything approximating a meaningful sense. And contemporary US society continues to adduce this marginalization. Any gains made were by people resisting the system and making demands on the government.

Putting on his historian’s hat, Trump puffs out his American chest:

It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion, or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.

Historian Jacques Pauwels wrote of the “uncontested fact that after the war [the US and Britain] would install or support dictatorial regimes in many countries…”3 Communism/socialism was to be prevented from growing or spreading.4 At the end of WWII, socialism was also to be prevented in Korea, and a dictatorship was installed in the south of Korea.

Despite promising not to get bogged down in foreign conflicts during his presidential campaign, Trump states:

We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.

He calls for a joint fight against “those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror”: “a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based.” Who are the rogue regimes? And what are the principles they violate? One assumes that it is implied that the US never violates any of these said principles.

Trump does not mince words when it comes to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.

Does the US provide tuition-free university education, no-fee medical services, and housing for all its citizens? The DPRK does.

Trump continues his harangue:

It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.



First, there were many factors beyond the control of the DPRK government: from winding up with only 14 percent of the cultivatable land after division; with the collapse of the Soviet Union, loans were called back and fertilizer and fuel shortages arose; also no government anywhere can be held accountable for the vagaries of Mother Nature that resulted in severe crop devastation.5

Second, the DPRK government performed admirably in mitigating the effects of crop failure, as attested to by the UN Food and Agricultural programme.6 Third, former president Jimmy Carter criticized the US government, and its South Korean ally, for human rights abuses in withholding food aid to North Korea. One also wonders where Trump gets off criticizing any other country for torture and incarceration given the recent US history in Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, etc. As for killing? Who kills more than the US? And which countries exactly is it that DPRK is oppressing? Certainly not Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Libya, Iran, Venezuela, etc.

Trump:

We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later. We saw it in the assassination of the dictator’s brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies.

Whatever alleged crimes previous or present DRPK administrations committed, what must first play out is a credible, impartial legal determination of guilt; it is then that the guilty party deserves condemnation and justice should be meted out. However, given the sovereign equality of nations as recognized by the UN, the crimes of the US must also be subject to international law. The crimes of the US are too numerous to list in this article.7

Trump:


If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.

This is inflammatory rhetoric. Every sane thinker realizes that DPRK will not initiate a nuclear strike. It has a no-first-use policy. The US does not have such a policy. So there is no threat from North Korea. It seeks a deterrence; especially given that the US is still at work with the DPRK and that the US is the only nation ever to have used nukes on civilian populations. But the US does not like being faced with a credible deterrent.

If the US is so opposed to nuclear weapons and ICBMs, there is nothing to stop the US from denuclearizing. It seems most likely that every nuclear power would abide to concurrently denuclearize (although US ally Israel might throw a wrench in such a plan).

Trump uses the UN headquarters as a bully pulpit:

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

Ah Trump, not the slightest pretense at diplomacy, even while speaking to world’s assembled diplomats. Yet, there is no call for the US to defend itself against a nation pledged to no-first use.

Trump:

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future.

Denuclearization is the only sane future for all nation states. And disarmament is the future for a world dedicated to ending the scourge of war.

The next bogeyman for Trump:

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.


Can it be that Trump considers the dictatorship of the Shah — imposed by the US, after the CIA engineered an overthrow of the elected government of Iran — was a genuine democracy?

Trump:

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice…. In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations… to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism…

Ergo, Saudi Arabia is not an oppressive regime? Wahhabism is not Islamic extremism?

Trump moves on to his next target for opprobrium, Syria:

The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens — even innocent children — shock the conscience of every decent person. No society can be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.




That the Syrian government forces would use chemical weapons is highly dubious and has minimal credibility. Regarding chemical weapons, as Stephen Zunes wrote, “[The US] has no leg to stand on.” 

Next up for Trump:

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.

It does not matter that Venezuela has elections open to international monitors and whose outcome is not decided by an electoral college but by the number of votes cast by citizens. Trump can bloviate about dictatorships and twist facts to corrupted forms of propaganda and disinformation. Critical thinkers will assess the veracity of the source, and the verisimilitude of the information; they will also seek independent sources of information and analyses to help form conclusions. Perhaps best of all, where possible people will travel to a country to witness for themselves the situation and glean insight by conversing with the locals.8

Trump is ideological:

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.

I would ask Trump to identify “true” capitalism (as in capitalism that does not rely on socialism to underpin it) anywhere. Education, health care, police, roads and bridge construction, militaries that are funded by public money are all examples of socialism. And just how much do the 13.5 percent of Americans who live below the poverty line care for the ideology of capitalism, or the half-million-plus Americans who find themselves homeless on any given night? I would ask Trump to provide one example of successful capitalism. Capitalism has been a failure everywhere.9

Trump asks,

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one: Are we still patriots?

Did the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island not love where they lived? Did they love being dispossessed and swallowed by the European diaspora into the US? What about the Hawaiians? Did they not love living in their islands? Or the Puerto Ricans? Do they not love their country? Or the Chamorro people? Or how about the Chagossians who were forced from the Chagos archipelago and prevented from returning so the US could use it as a base of military operations.

Or does love of one’s country only apply to Americans?

First published at Global Research


See Douglas Valentine, “Chapter 2: One Thing Leads to Another: My Rare Access in Investigating the War on Drugs,” in The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2017. [1]
Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War (Toronto: Lorimer, 2015), wrote, “The famous plan did not amount to a free gift; it was not a generous present amounting to billions of dollars, but a complex system of credits and loans.” p. 261. [2]
Pauwels, p. 139-140. [3]
Pauwels, p. 270-273. [4]
See Nhial Esso, “North Korea’s famine was caused by outside forces,” in What You Don’t Know About North Korea Could Fill a Book (Intransitive Publishers International, 2013. [5]
Esso, “North Korea’s policies alleviate the effects of food shortages,” in What You Don’t Know About North Korea… [6]
See William Blum, Rogue State (Common Courage Press, 2000). [7]
See Joshua Frank, Kim Petersen, and Sunil K. Sharma, “Revolution of Hope,” Dissident Voice, 10 August 2006. [8]

“We are taught [capitalism] is a system that works; that it’s a system that has brought prosperity. We’ve heard that all our lives. Now I’m going to try and convince you otherwise, and I’m going to do it in two minutes. [laughter] It’s very simple. Almost the entire world is capitalist and almost the entire world is poor. Capitalist Indonesia is miserably poor and getting poorer; capitalist India is miserably poor and getting poorer; so with capitalist Thailand, and capitalist Nigeria, and capitalist El Salvador, and Haiti, and Mexico, and Brazil, and Argentina. And capitalist Russia, and Poland, and Bulgaria with all the privatization and deregulation and free markets coming in: poverty, poverty, increase in crime, increase in desperation, increase in misery, increase in homelessness, increase in suicides. It’s capitalism at work — moving in. Now not everyone suffers. The capitalists in these countries are doing quite well. These countries are getting poorer as the giant corporations move in and get richer. These [countries] are getting poorer as there is more and more deregulation, more and more so-called free market, which is really monopoly market. It’s a free market if you got money. It’s a market that works for those who have money.” — Michael Parenti, formerly available at workingtv.com. [9]

Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: kimohp@gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen.
 Read other articles by Kim.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Tom Secker, Tim Shorrock, Janine Bandcroft September 21, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com


September 21, 2017

You may believe the golden age of spycraft passed with the end of the Cold War, or maybe even with Mata Hari's firing squad. But, what's old is gold again, and the game has never been more fully engaged.

Whether fighting commies, evil-doers, drugs dealers, or pernicious foreign ideology we always seem to be at war with something! In fact, we're reminded of the fact so frequently, it's beginning to make me think the war going on isn't "out there" at all, but instead is raging inside our heads, making a virtual battlefield of our collective perceptions.

Listen. Hear.

Tom Secker is a UK-based private researcher, journalist, frequently featured commentator on security and intelligence issues, host of the popular podcast, ClandesTime, and principal behind spyculture.com, “the world’s premier online archive about government involvement in the entertainment industry.” He’s also co-author, with Matthew Alford of the recently released book, 'National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood'.

Tom Secker in the first half.

And; Donald Trump didn't disappoint at the UN this week. In an address that still has halls of power around the globe buzzing, the American president used the global bully pulpit to threaten fellow member-nation North Korea with utter destruction. A lapse of diplomatic etiquette and refutation of the Charter of the United Nations' founding purpose of promoting peace among nations to be sure, but what Mr. Trump, and most of those listening to his sabre-rattling are not aware of is; the United States "totally destroyed North Korea" once before. It's a salient fact not lost on the "depraved regime" being threatened again, and something the White House might consider when gauging just how Kim "Rocket Man" Jong Un may react.

Tim Shorrock is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, and author of the book, ‘Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.’ His articles appear at his website, TimShorrock.com and at The Nation. Tim grew up in Asia, and spent much of the 1980’s in Japan, reporting on the financial intrigues of the then-biggest of the Asian Tiger economies.

Tim Shorrock and taking the measure of the Trump administration's bombast from an Eastern perspective in the second half.

And; Victoria activist and CFUV Radio broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft will be here with the Left Coast Events Newsletter bulletin at the bottom of the hour. But first, Tom Secker and the clandestine war being fought between your ears.


Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.ca.  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: https://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Trump United Nations Speech Transcript

Trump's full speech to the UN General Assembly

by Vox


September 19, 2017


Rush transcript of President Trump’s full remarks.

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates, welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city as a representative of the American people to address the people of the world. As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid. The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8. The stock market is at an all-time high, a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth, the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time, and it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly.

Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today, but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed. We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve. But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terror but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances, that prevented conflict and tilted the word toward freedom since World War II. International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people, force dislocation and mass migration, threaten our borders and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens. To put it simply, we meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair. We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars, to help shape this better future. It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity. It was in the same period exactly 70 years ago that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those these beautiful pillars, they are pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity. The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free. As president, Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations.

The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members. To overcome the perils of the present, and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity, and peace, for themselves and for the world. We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government, but we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties, to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.

This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is the foundation for cooperation and success. Strong sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect. Strong sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny. And strong sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God. In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.

This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution, the oldest constitution still in use in the world today. This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law. The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are "We the people." Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country and of our great history.

In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people where it belongs. In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government's first duty is to its people, to our citizens, to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values. As president of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first.

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition. But making a better life for our people also requires us to with work together in close harmony and unity, to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America's interests above all else, but in fulfilling our obligations to our nations, we also realize that it's in everyone's interests to seek the future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America's devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies. From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerge victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others. Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all. For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope.

We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife. We are guided by outcomes, not ideologies. We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goal, interests, and values. That realism forces us to confront the question facing every leader and nation in this room, it is a question we cannot escape or avoid. We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face, or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow.

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent. We must protect our nations, their interests and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.

And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threatens us with chaos, turmoil, and terror. The score of our planet today is small regimes that violate every principle that the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries. If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans. And for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more. We were all witness to the regime's deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America, only to die a few days later.

We saw it in the assassination of the dictator's brother, using banned nerve agents in an international airport. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country, to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea's spies. If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.

No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles. The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That's what the United Nations is all about. That's what the United Nations is for. Let's see how they do.

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved. But we must do much more.

It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior. We face this decision not only in North Korea; it is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime, one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country, with a rich history and culture, into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran's leaders are, in fact, its own people. Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian live, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors.

This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran's people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship, fuel Yemen's civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East. We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it. Believe me.

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran's government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. Above all, Iran's government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors. The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran's people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protesters, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror, or will the Iranian people return to the nation's proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth, where their people can be happy and prosperous once again? The Iranian regime's support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its finance, and in Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamic extremism that inspires them.

We will stop radical islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation and, indeed, to tear up the entire world. We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nation. It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries whose support and fi — who support and finance terror groups like al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and others that slaughter innocent people.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people. Last month I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operation, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. We seek the deescalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person. No society could be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

We appreciate the efforts of the United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict. The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort. We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people and which enables their eventual return to their home countries to be part of the rebuilding process. For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region.

Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach. For decades the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere.

We have learned that over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries. For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms. For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are born overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their home. The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflict in Africa. The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief, in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen.

We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief, the President’s Malaria Initiative, the Global Health Security Agenda, the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, and the Women Entrepreneur's Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

We also thank — we also thank the secretary general for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity. Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process. In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution's noble end have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the UN Human Rights Council.

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it. Major portions of the world are in conflict, and some, in fact, are going to hell, but the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems. The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.

In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially. Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own region. That is why in the Western Hemisphere the United States has stood against the corrupt, destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.

My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms. We have also imposed tough calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse. The socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.

This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation — prosperous nation, by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives, to preserve his disastrous rule. The Venezuelan people are starving, and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. The situation is completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal — that goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy. I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people. The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today. Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors. I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis. We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.

From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems. America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their well-being, including their prosperity. In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of goodwill, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.

For too long the American people were told that mammoth, multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success. But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared. Others gamed the system and broke the rules, and our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government, the duty of our citizens. This bond is the source of America's strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today. If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the independent strength of its members.

If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substantive for strong, sovereign, and independent nations, nations that are rooted in the histories and invested in their destiny, nations that seek allies to befriend, not enemies to conquer, and most important of all, nations that are home to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.

In remembering the great victory that led to this body's founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they love. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain. Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, our minds, and our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us.

This is the ancient wish of every people and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul. So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world. We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all. Thank you, God bless you, God bless the nations of the world, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.

Revenge of the Village: Are We Not All Numbers?

We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village

by John W. Whitehead - CounterPunch

  
September 20, 2017


Photo by Surian Soosay | CC BY 2.0


“We’re run by the Pentagon, we’re run by Madison Avenue, we’re run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don’t revolt we’ll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche…. As long as we go out and buy stuff, we’re at their mercy… We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people’s Villages, but we are all prisoners.
— Patrick McGoohan 


First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, The Prisoner—a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”—confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village. The Village is an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler.

While luxurious and resort-like, the Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.

The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.

Number Two, the Village administrator, acts as an agent for the unseen and all-powerful Number One, whose identity is not revealed until the final episode.

“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.

In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six meets Number Two, who explains to him that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”

Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.

Number Six refuses to comply.


In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks to Number Two. “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”

Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.

Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.” Still, he refuses to give up. “Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”

Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unfunny, unsettling Groundhog’s Day that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape.

As journalist Scott Thill concludes for Wired, “Rebellion always comes at a price. During the acclaimed run of The Prisoner, Number Six is tortured, battered and even body-snatched: In the episode ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,’ his mind is transplanted to another man’s body. Number Six repeatedly escapes The Village only to be returned to it in the end, trapped like an animal, overcome by a restless energy he cannot expend, and betrayed by nearly everyone around him.”

The series is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy.

As Thill noted when McGoohan died in 2009, “The Prisoner was an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.”

The Prisoner’s Village is also an apt allegory for the American Police State: it gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable.

The American Police State, much like The Prisoner’s Village, is a metaphorical panopticon, a circular prison in which the inmates are monitored by a single watchman situated in a central tower. Because the inmates cannot see the watchman, they are unable to tell whether or not they are being watched at any given time and must proceed under the assumption that they are always being watched.

Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham envisioned the panopticon prison to be a cheaper and more effective means of “obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.”

Bentham’s panopticon, in which the prisoners are used as a source of cheap, menial labor, has become a model for the modern surveillance state in which the populace is constantly being watched, controlled and managed by the powers-that-be and funding its existence.

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: this is the new mantra of the architects of the police state and their corporate collaborators (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Instagram, etc.).

Government eyes are watching you.


They see your every move: what you read, how much you spend, where you go, with whom you interact, when you wake up in the morning, what you’re watching on television and reading on the internet.

Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line.

When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies.

Apart from the obvious dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, we’re approaching a time in which we will be forced to choose between obeying the dictates of the government—i.e., the law, or whatever a government official deems the law to be—and maintaining our individuality, integrity and independence.

When people talk about privacy, they mistakenly assume it protects only that which is hidden behind a wall or under one’s clothing. The courts have fostered this misunderstanding with their constantly shifting delineation of what constitutes an “expectation of privacy.” And technology has furthered muddied the waters.

However, privacy is so much more than what you do or say behind locked doors. It is a way of living one’s life firm in the belief that you are the master of your life, and barring any immediate danger to another person (which is far different from the carefully crafted threats to national security the government uses to justify its actions), it’s no one’s business what you read, what you say, where you go, whom you spend your time with, and how you spend your money.

Unfortunately, George Orwell’s 1984—where “you had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized”—has now become our reality.

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

Stingray devices mounted on police cars to warrantlessly track cell phones, Doppler radar devices that can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, license plate readers that can record up to 1800 license plates per minute, sidewalk and “public space” cameras coupled with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology that lay the groundwork for police “pre-crime” programs, police body cameras that turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras, the internet of things: all of these technologies add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home.

As French philosopher Michel Foucault concluded in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, “Visibility is a trap.”

This is the electronic concentration camp—the panopticon prison—the Village—in which we are now caged.

It is a prison from which there will be no escape if the government gets it way.

As Glenn Greenwald notes:

“The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what [government officials] do: that’s why they’re called public servants. They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals. This dynamic – the hallmark of a healthy and free society – has been radically reversed. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.”

Even now, the Trump Administration is working to make some of the National Security Agency’s vast spying powers permanent.

In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pushing for Congress to permanently renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows government snoops to warrantlessly comb through and harvest vast quantities of our communications.

And just like that, we’re back in the Village, our escape plans foiled, our future bleak.

Except this is no surprise ending: for those who haven’t been taking the escapist blue pill, who haven’t fallen for the Deep State’s phony rhetoric, who haven’t been lured in by the promise of a political savior, we never stopped being prisoners.

So how do we break out?


For starters, wake up. Resist the urge to comply.

The struggle to remain “oneself in a society increasingly obsessed with conformity to mass consumerism,” writes Steven Paul Davies, means that superficiality and image trump truth and the individual. The result is the group mind and the tyranny of mob-think.

Think for yourself. Be an individual. As McGoohan commented in 1968,

“At this moment individuals are being drained of their personalities and being brainwashed into slaves… As long as people feel something, that’s the great thing. It’s when they are walking around not thinking and not feeling, that’s tough. When you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of gang that Hitler had.”

In a media-dominated age in which the lines between entertainment, politics and news reporting are blurred, it is extremely difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. We are so bombarded with images, dictates, rules and punishments and stamped with numbers from the day we are born that it is a wonder we ever ponder a concept such as freedom. As McGoohan declared, “Freedom is a myth.”

In the end, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are all prisoners of our own mind.

In fact, it is in the mind that prisons are created for us. And in the lockdown of political correctness, it becomes extremely difficult to speak or act individually without being ostracized. Thus, so often we are forced to retreat inwardly into our minds, a prison without bars from which we cannot escape, and into the world of video games and television and the Internet.

We have come full circle from Bentham’s Panopticon to McGoohan’s Village to Huxley’s Brave New World.

As cultural theorist Neil Postman observed:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared we would become a captive audience. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate would ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

You want to be free? Break out of the circle.

 

John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People.

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